“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”
George A. Moore
20-22 Elient, House Stanipavel and the Road to Luskan
Maena explains that the group found a significant, ancient and magical item entombed deep below the Ankheg nest. Tagen’s discomfort at this news is evident and Maena makes the decision not to elaborate on the suspected provenance of the mysterious artefact. Tagen agrees that the last of the Ankheg tunnels will be secured and that House Stanipavel will place a watch over the area, lest any other parties become aware of whatever it is that is buried under the pasture.
A very pleasant celebratory dinner, hosted by Clara and attended by Dr Andi M’Deeks and Rudyard Stanipavel. Rudyard is delighted to finally meet the PCs and suggests that they might all travel to Luskan together, on the morrow; he has business there, something to deliver, and once that task is complete he can continue on with the team, North to Circlestone. This plan is agreed.
After dinner, the ‘Stoners find themselves alone and Jonathan tries to make sense of everything that has happened since they met Vittori Jr. In particular, he wonders about what exactly the artefact might mean. J’Wi takes the opportunity to explain the history of the war between her people and the Nagas and confirms that there is a very good chance that the item in the cavern was a powerful Yuan-ti weapon that the Naga had stolen and then hidden. She also states that she is resolved to head South at some point, to follow the message she received from the snake.
In a philosophical bent, Remy ponders his recent nose based shenanigans, wondering what he has learned and what he might take away from this. He briefly considers writing his musings down in a volume he would call The Nasal Chronicles. Then he remembers there is fresh shrimp and loses his thread. Connor and Remy discuss surf boards.
The other topic that comes up in the post dinner chat is that of the Stanipavels themselves. Some members of the ‘Stoners circle feel that there is something not-quite-right about the ranching family, others see them as decent folk who are trying to make a profit from their family business.
Eventually everyone retires for the night. Remy spends a few minutes checking out the wine cellar, not in an attempt at inebriation, but rather as it sits adjacent to the room with the reinforced, steel door which is also in the cellar space. He then hears someone moving about in the store opposite his own sleeping space and when he investigates, he finds Sunshine the Gnome house maid. For the first time in a while Remy manages to have a meaningful discussion with her and she even apologises to him for the telling off she gave him earlier in the evening. She also expresses some strong opinions about the way people with power and wealth treat those who do not have the same resources. They part, if not friends, then at least with a level of empathy for one another.
The household sleeps.
In the morning the group gathers in the office where Clara, Vittori Sr. and Dragar perform the payment-ceremony. Unexpectedly, Dragar asks Anahita to represent the party, and Maena quickly explains to her that Dragar will ask, “Is what you regard sufficient to fulfill our obligation to you?” and that she must reply, “What I regard is sufficient.” Anahita plays her part well and is excited to receive a decent leather pouch of gold. She is more excited when Dragar announces that the pouch is merely ceremonial,and that the remainder of the gold will be loaded in three chests onto the cart that is being prepared for the trip to Luskan.
The Cirlcestone team heads outside the house, joining Rudyard, Toofas and, a little surprisingly, Plussa Xange. It turns out that the Lords’ Alliance agent is returning to Luskan,her business with Clara and Dragar being done, for the time bieng at least, and she has decided to travel with the group.
As the small caravan moves away, with a genuine sense of thanks being shared from both the family members and ranch employees tiny Kat Tooker, the halfling maid who had had several misunderstandings with Remy, rushes out, up to the Tortle, and hugs him. It is one of the warmest hugs Remy’s knees have ever received. Before he can really react she darts away again through the crowd and into the house. Later, as she cleans the rooms the guests were staying in she will realise that two of the silver plated hand mirrors seem to have gone missing, but when she tells Alfredo, he just smiles and replies, “Mirrors are peculiar things Miss Tooker, often they reflect rather more than you might realise …”
Out on the road again the team are in good spirits, discussing the fact that, if they make good time they will be home in Circlestone in only 11 or 12 days. The sun is high, the breeze cool and the road quiet. Toofas, asis her duty, is alert for any threat and she asks Jonathon and Anahita to apply their Ranger awareness to the wild land either side of the road, the better to spot any threats; there are none and the team pushes on. Eventually night falls and Rudyard asks if they should camp or push on through the dark towards Luskan. Keen to close the distance between themselves and home the group chooses to push on. In Anahita’s case it seems that she is also keen to put distance between herself and House Stanipavel; she does not trust the welathy family.
It is in the cold and dark of the small hours that the attack comes. The first the party know of it is the javelins that come soaring out of the darkness, and then the Bugbears emerge. There are six of the goblinoid thugs and one rather bigger leader. A fight ensues in which the now familiar pattern of Remy and Connor getting stuck in, Maena J’Wi and Anahita controlling the Weave to cause harm or heal wounds and Jonathon delivering devastating damage from his bow is demonstrated to good effect. In a matter of seconds the Bugbears are on the run, retreating not just from the Beatenpath axe, the Tortle fists and the Walker arrows, but also from the Naqi thorns, the Silverhair lightning and the summoned beast of J’Wi.
In the end, four Bugbears lie dead, two escape, and one lies sleeping, a victim of Maena’s magic.
This poor unfortunate is bound by Jonathon and Maena then casts a zone of truth about the place. Jonathon then begins to act as translator, delivering the groups questions to the beast and relaying the answers as accurately as he can.
After some careful interrogation the team have discovered the following:
His name is Formyka
His gang, who fledand left him behind, are known as Bossal’s Gang
They are much farther South than he is happy with, but that is because in the North, in the mountains and foothills, the orcs are getting organised and pushing South.
His own clan was attacked by Orcs, and the force that attacked them was made up of the Blood Clan and the Death Mark Clan - two clans that ordinarily would be at each others throats.
He thinks Bossal is a coward and a @#$%!
He would rather join the party as a “prisoner of war” than have his throat cut, thank you very much.
He likes to f#*king swear!
So, with a new “member” in their group, the Stoners and their Stanipavel patron, Toofas and Plussa walk on throughwhat remains of the night, and, as morning breaks through they come to the outskirts of the port of Luskan, the City of Sails, the home to the Great Ships, haven to pirates, allied to the Drow, home to smugglers and all manner of reprobate. From the hill they stand on they can see that there is already a queue of travellers at the South gate, not surprising, the Coast Road passes straight through Luskan so as to cross the River Lusk without a significant detour.
They head down the hill towards the city. Plussa looks concerned.