June 2nd, morning, Year 3150 by the Imperial Calendar
It is the morning of June the second, and the sun is shining brightly over the port city of Cyoria, on the Grand Victorian mainland. Five adventurers, following their own separate paths, board a merchant caravel called the Fallen Angel, bound for the trade nexus of Port Alexandria.
Keladry Hillesland is a human woman in her late 20’s. She’s incredibly athletic, and the symbol of an eye on the shield she bears marks her as a war cleric of Odin. She her temple after the priest who raised her died, and is now off to seek adventure in the world beyond the temple she spent most of her life in. She spends most of the voyage alternately praying in the passenger room, practicing combat stances, and watching the sea.
Shira Bat-Or is also leaving home for the first time in search of adventure. Her parents were adventurers, and now she wants to follow in their footsteps, setting out on the road and letting her bardic music guide her. She is a stunningly beautiful young woman with dazzlingly white hair, skin that glows slightly, and pupil-less white eyes. She is an aasimar, which means she is part mortal part celestial. Part of why she travels is to find out more about what she is, and where to find her place as a child of two worlds.
As such, Shira spends quite a bit of time talking to Fenrir Liadran, who, as a water genasi, is also a child of two worlds. He doesn’t know much about his birth parents, but for the fact that one of them must have been a mortal, while the other was a marid, triton, or some other inhabitant of the Elemental Plane of Water. Fenrir has spent most of his life traveling, most of it by sea, and seems to have dropped hints of a troubling backstory. He spends the voyage working as a sailor, rather than simply paying his way.
Jane is an incredibly beautiful and alluring young woman, with blonde hair and a serious expression. Though she didn’t board the ship with the rest of you, she’s not exactly secretive about the fact that she’s sleeping with the captain. She often spends time doodling strange pictures in her notebook, or staring in apparent wonder at things like clouds or birds.
Khemed Mostana is a middle-aged, dark-skinned R’Kassian human man. His clerical vestments and staff bearing the golden head of a snake mark him as a Hierophant of Ra, God of the Sun. He is on a mission of “important matters of state,” but cannot disclose more than that. He’s sure you understand. He seems very fervently devoted to his god, and gladly explains aspects of theology to anyone who asks about it.
June 13th, morning
The first two weeks of the voyage pass rather uneventfully. Then, one morning, you are awoken to the sound of a bell and the cry of, “PIRATES!” Everyone stumbles up onto the deck to see a dark ship flying a black flag approaching from the direction for the rising sun, only a quarter of a mile away.
Though the enemy ship is much larger and better armed than the Fallen Angel, the adventurers make up for it with unquestioned arcane superiority. Khemed and Keladry hurl bolts of divine fire at the enemy’s sails and ballistae, while Jane does the same with blasts of lime-green hellfire. Fenrir mans the ballista, then, once in range, follows a well placed entangle with an ice knife, dropping half a dozen pirates where they stand restrained by clinging vines. Finally, Shira’s dissonant whispers and a failed Wisdom save on the pirate captain’s part send the pirates fleeing for their lives. While everyone continues to bombard the pirate ship (knocking one of the masts down directly onto the helm in the process), Khemed takes a few critical failures as, “A sign from Ra that we should be victorious…but not vengeful,” and advises Captain Flint to break off pursuit. He then used thaumaturgy to send his voice bellowing across the water, “ FLEE, FLEE BEFORE THE POWER OF RA! ”
That night, there is a celebration aboard the ship. Fenrir is disappointed that they let the pirates go, believing that they will eventually continue their piracy, but Shira helps cheer him up, before going and dancing with literally everyone.
The rest of the voyage is, thankfully, uneventful.
June 22nd, early afternoon
The Fallen Angel arrives at Port Alexandria in the early afternoon. The city of Port Alexandria is built along a natural harbor on an extinct volcanic island. As the ship enters the harbor, it passes between two fortified watchtowers which double as lighthouses, one on either arm of the harbor. The harbor itself is bustling with ships of all shapes and sizes. Warehouses lined one end of the docks, at which the larger ships were moored, with dozens of workers loading or unloading boxes, crates, and even some livestock. The city itself is built upon on a natural slope, and the buildings get fancier the higher one goes.
Captain Flint bids you farewell, thanks you for the assistance with the pirates, and recommends an inn/tavern. Everyone at first goes their separate ways, but decides to meet back up later at the recommended tavern.
Jane goes to the city’s library to read. Khemed finds a temple for the R’Kassian pantheon, and attends to his mysterious “state business.” Keladry finds a temple devoted to the Northern pantheon, while Fenrir finds an old friend and gets the latest news from him. Shira looks for an apothecary, and located a magic/alchemy shop run by a man named MacGuiller. She asks about getting a job, but he says he already has a summer intern, but she might check the odd jobs board at the tavern.
At the tavern, there’s a job board. Most of the jobs are for temp jobs and menial labor, and pay accordingly, but there are two which seem a bit more lucrative. One is offering a 100 gp reward for the return of an engagement ring, which the owner lost in the harbor. Upon seeing it, Fenrir immediately goes swimming to look for it, but the sun is already setting and the light doesn’t reach down to the seabed, so he returns. The other is a vague yet intriguing:
Combat Capable Exterminators Wanted
Dangerous Pest Infestation
See Therin’s Shipping Company for more information
Competitive pricing guaranteed.
The adventurers agree to meet up around lunchtime tomorrow to see what Therin has to offer.
June 23rd, morning
When it became lighter out, Fenrir easily swam down to the sea floor and finds the lost ring after only twenty minutes of searching, then heads up to the address listed on the flyer. While he’s doing this, one of the acolytes of the R’Kassian temple gives Khemed an address. The two of them meet up at the door to the same house, on the high side of town.
When they arrive, Sennefer Neferkare answers the door, and is soon joined by his fiancé, Idania Sadarene. Fenrir returns the ring and recieves payment, after which Khemed urges him to go, so he can discuss business with the man. When they are alone, Khemed informs the man, Prince Sennefer, that his grandfather has died, meaning it is time for him to take his place as Pharaoh of Old R’Kassi. Idania hears this exchange, and takes Sennefer into the other room to talk. It is very heartfelt and touching and occurs completely off screen, because the DM (Dramatic Monologuer) is not that adept at holding conversations with himself.
RETCON. When they get back, Idania explains the situation over tea. Sennefer hadn’t told her he was a prince, to assuage his fears that anyone he asked to marry him would say yes because he was a prince, not because they loved him back. He was going to tell her after he propose, but (funny story) lost the ring while trying to pull off a very flamboyant proposal involving no fewer than four separate simultaneously active cantrips and spell effects, all while on a boat.
Though she’s a bit peeved about the secrets, Idania is totally down with becoming the queen, especially the part involving access to the Imperial Library. They agree to pack up and ship out to Old R’Kassi as soon as they get their affairs in order. Khemed takes his leave to give his thanks to Ra at the temple before joining the rest of the party for lunch.
June 23rd, noon
The party heads down to Therin’s Shipping Company to investigate the job posting. You find Indra Therin in her office. She explains how one of her ships was visiting Old R’Kassi to acquire some treasures recently unearthed from some ancient ruins. When they got back and started opening things up to examine them, they discovered that some kind of pest had apparently been sealed up in the packaging.
They were fist-sized scarabs, but with carapaces that seem to be made out of metal and crystals growing out of their backs. They had apparently been eating metal objects during the entire voyage, but now they were swarming anyone who tried to deal with them in order to eat their metal weapons and armor.
And that’s not all. They could apparently cast cantrips, because they’re spitting little rays of frost, bolts of fire, and acid splashes at anyone they saw. They’d already killed five of her men since they were unloaded. Therin finally had to seal up the building they’d unloaded the cargo into. The local authorities considered this her own problem. She offers the party 50 gp each for if they successfully clear all the bugs from inside.
So, off you go to the warehouse. As Therin had said, when the door to the warehouse opened, dozens of crystal-bearing scarabs began to swarm.
Jane had seduced some armor off a town guard, in order to use as bait, which Keladry tossed into the warehouse as soon as the fight started. This turns out to be a really good idea, since it caused the scarabs to swarm the armor, rather than the party and the metal armor-wearing Keladry. The bugs still fired off numerous damaging cantrips, and at one point a bug cast thaumaturgy, opening a crate to release even more bugs. At another point, a gold scarab with diamond crystals in its back seemed to have been killed/knocked unconscious, when it expended a crystal and stood back up. However, it and the rest of the bugs were disposed of without too much difficulty.
June 23rd, early afternoon
Jane loads up all the clearly magical gems from the scarabs into a sack, along with whatever scarab bodies weren’t completely destroyed. Then the party returns to Therin’s office for pay.
This is where things get fishy. Therin sees that Jane had gathered some bugs and crystals, and tells her to hand them over. Jane refuses, at which point Therin says to hand them over if she wants to get paid.
Khemed points out that they had examined the cargo list in the warehouse and seen nothing about any bugs. So it would seem that if they were a pest as she said, then Therin would have no claim over them. At this point Therin snarls and actually starts to draw her sword in anger, then calms.
“Alright, no, the bugs WERE an infestation,” she says, “But I need to recoup the losses of the cargo and crewmen the bugs killed. The bugs seem interesting, and I might be able to find some use from them.” (note: I’m not sure I actually said this, though it would have been clear Therin wasn’t being honest by this point)
Jane says she’d rather have gems than gold anyway, whereupon Therin draws her sword, but holds it loosely at her side. She says, “Listen little girl. Those bugs belong to me. Hand them over, or there will be trouble.”
Upon further refusal, there’s a moment where Therin tenses, seeming to consider attacking, but then she relaxes. “Fine. You five can enjoy your dead bugs, I’ll keep the pay. Wait, you said you were looking for work around here right? I just lost five dock workers. How about you take their places? I’ll pay you each 15 gold a week.” Fenrir immediately replies, “No thanks, I think we’ll pass.”
Therin glares daggers into your back as you leave her office.
June 23rd, late afternoon
No one really knew what to do with the crystals, so Shira led everyone to the magic shop she had found earlier, to see if the owner knew what to make of them. MacGuiller is a middle-aged human male with spectacles. He’s initially dubious about cantrip casting crystals, but after briefly examining one of the dancing lights crystals, it activates, seemingly reacting to his mental desire to activate it. Jane pulls out a bug or two to show him where they came from, and while they don’t look familiar to him, he says that if they leave the bugs with him, he can examine them in his workshop and see if he can learn anything about them. You tell him the varied places they’re staying and leaves for the evening.
June 24rd, morning
The very next morning, MacGuiller was waiting at the bar of the inn, and told everyone to come back to his shop. He seemed a little strung out actually. He said that two of Therin’s workers had come and harassed him about what you were doing there yesterday, but he told them you were just shopping for some generic ingredients and that you hadn’t really stood out, apart from the water genasi and aasimar.
What was more immediately relevant though, was the state of the bugs, and the corpses that the bugs had killed. The corpses? There were no corpses. In fact, when he had asked around, no unnatural deaths had been reported in the past week at all. The arcanist was more inclined to believe us, all things considered, but it did raise the question as to why you would cover up five accidental deaths.
The bugs? Not just bugs. On the surface, they seemed like normal insects. Even at a glance dissecting them, they still looked like normal bugs, with a few oddities like some crystallized organs, but that seemed almost expected with the gems growing on their backs. But looking really closely? Parts of them were clearly metal. And not just metallic, but actual forged, tooled, and bolted metal. Everyone took a glance through some magnifying lenses and saw what he was talking about. Obvious traces of sanding, tiny little bolts, and a stray gear.
MacGuiller notices one of Therin’s dock workers watching through the window, and as he draws the blinds, he asks if you’d agree to be his night guards for the time being. He tells you that everyone on this side of the island knew “Indra Therin” had been up to some shady activities for months now, but no one had any evidence to warrant sticking their nose into things. But given her reputation, he wouldn’t put it past her to try something. Therin wouldn’t be so stupid as to attack in broad daylight, and the authorities would come running if MacGuiller was attacked, but the adventurers actually being on the scene might be the difference between a scuffle and an assassination.
At someone’s suggestion that bringing Therin’s connection to the murderous bugs up to the authorities, MacGuiller says that that seemed tricky, as Therin was the only one with any evidence they were ever a problem, and had apparently covered up the deaths or her dockworkers that they had caused.
This is where we ended the session. When we pick up, the party will have the rest of the day to do whatever they want, and then play night’s watch for MacGuiller.
- Keep MacGuiller from getting killed in the night.
- Figure out what Therin is up to, and why she needs those gems so badly
- Somehow deal with Therin such that she is either brought to justice or similarly rendered unable to harm you or MacGuiller.
- Side-Goal of Khemed’s: See that Sennefer and Idania get on a ship bound for Old R’Kassi.