Alluvian, Samnymian, Ved’Rail, Gretel, Ragnork and Phandria had successfully slipped out of Andalain under cover of darkness. It was high summer, the moons hung brightly in the sky, providing light enough to make some distance from the city. After some debate it was decided to journey toward Raelenain, the port city of Avenesse, where their friend, the Duchess Jansylth Evanae Lyrie currently lived. They could learn what drove her from the capitol and how had she fallen out of favor with the King. From there they would decide what to do next.
After a few hours travel, it was decided to make camp. Samnymian used his magics to produce a shelter. The night passed uneventfully, although Gretel suffered a brief moment of sleepwalking that Alluvian woke her from before she could wander out of the shelter.
The next day found them stopping briefly at the “River Rush Rest” the roadside inn where months ago, on their journey to the capitol, they’d encountered the man known as “The Hat” and his broken-nosed minion. The Inn Keeper apologized for the lack of meat in the meals, the passing army had cleared out his larder and the supplies from the capitol had been short. He laughed off the talk of the extra taxes and had not heard anything of Royal Auditors keeping note of all businesses done with foreigners. Could it be that the trouble was centered solely on Andalain?
They passed numerous peoples on the road, making their way toward Raelenain as well, some were following the army while others were leaving Andalain, many for good. The night was spent in another magically generated shelter. While on watch, Gretel heard swift hoof beats from the road. She moved to the shelter’s window to observe a horseman stop outside their shelter and make his way to the door. He banged abruptly, declaring himself to be a Highwayman, one of Avenesse’s roving enforces of the peace. Gretel awoke a few of her companions before answering the door. The Highwayman told her he’d suddenly found a dwelling along the road where there hadn’t been one a few days before. When Gretel explained it was magically generated and would dissipate a few hours after sunrise, the Highwayman appeared mollified and bid them all good night.
The day’s travel saw the group stop at Gretel’s favorite roadside inn, “Northbridge” that served the wonderful pies that had made her first journey so much easier. They stopped for lunch, where Gretel was able to purchase several pies for the road. The Innkeep prepared food for the road as well. His supplies had recently been delivered from Sulshonain to the north, Gretel’s home village.
The party ended that day’s journey about an hour’s travel from the city. Samnymian produced another shelter, this time out of sight from the road, amongst the trees separating two large farm fields.
At sunrise, they broke camp and headed into Raelenain. The companions entered through the Tradesgate, one of Raelenain’s three entrances, the others being Onyxgate and the new Portsgate. Entering this city proved to be nothing like the last time they entered the capitol, no interrogation by the guards, no “city entry tax”, and no hints that foreigners are unwelcome. Instead they are nearly swept away by the swelling tide of farmers, merchants and other visitors to the bustling port. A guard manning the gate did his best to inform them of where they might track down the Duchess, but being a guard at the Tradegate didn’t give him many opportunities to socialize with the nobility. His partner at the gate remembered that the Dunchess was the new Master of the Theater, and pointed them in the direction of the Civic Circle, where city Theater is located.
The gate’s main thoroughfare leads directly to Raelenain’s market center, a large collection of semi-permanent stalls, tables and wagons arranged in a series of concentric circles. The market is in full swing by the time they enter the city, and it takes well over an hour to navigate their way through it all. Several members of the group take special care with their purses and other belongings, knowing the reputation of any city’s market for thieves and opportunists.
The street out of Market Center lead southward toward the river that cuts between the two hills that Raelenain is settled around. From there, they beheld the city’s three bridges; one solely for pedestrian traffic, the second for pedestrians, mounts and beasts, and the third designed for carts and carriages. All three designed to act as barriers against large ship traffic up river. Crossing the river by way of the first pedestrian bridge, they found themselves in the bustling Craftsmans section of the city. Here the buildings were a mixture of residences, businesses and manufacturing, their multicolor rooftops giving the riverfront its distinctive appearance.
Entry into the Civic Circle required passing beneath the Arch of Raelenain, a huge block like structure, 180 feet tall and topped with a 30 foot spire. They saw several streets where public access was restricted, streets reserved to the residents of the city’s wealthy and elite. The city constable presence was heavier at these guard posts than in other areas. The Circle itself was dominated by four separate complexes; The Merchant Hall, home of Raelenain’s guild counsel and all commerce regulation. The Palace of Justice, where the Judges, headed by Judge Mayor Kelldonon, rule Raelenain in the name of the King, maintaining law and peace. The Hall of the Art, the great university of Arcanists, lead by the Master of the Hall, Archmage Endvaen. The fourth complex was The Theater, devoted to the arts in Raelenain, famous for its dance troupes and great dramatic performances, now lead by the Master of the Theater, the Duchess Jansylth.
Peering through the gate leading into the garden of The Theater, the group spotted an old friend smoking a pipe while sitting on the steps leading up into the vast Theater complex. The Arcanian wizard, Lok, with whom they had journeyed to the volcano in the Westeral Mountains. The elder wizard was overjoyed to see his old friends, he headed over to the gate, ushering them inside. Speaking animatedly, he lead them around to the side of the the Theater complex, and into the backstage kitchen area where the Duchess was enjoying a late breakfast with two actresses.
The reunion was joyous, although they had been separated for on a few short weeks, the long journey and the dangers they had faced in the demonic lair hand forged strong bonds between them. Of the twelve that had departed Andalain to investigate the volcanic eruption, only the party, Lok and the Duchess returned alive.
The Duchess told them of how the King had become displeased with her, eventually assigning her the position of Master of the Theater in Raelenain, effectively exiling her from the capitol. Lok commented on how exile to the port city was preferable to a march into demon infested mountains any day.
The group shared their experiences in the Loretheria Forest, the Stones of Ekos and the return to Andalain and the trouble brewing there. The discussion grew heated as they tried to understand just how a King like Damelon the Just could allow his kingdom to unravel around him. The Duchess expressed her distress over the pending war with Kovir, and how the Avaneese army was encamped outside the city on the far side of Endevron Hill. The army was waiting for the last of the ships to be completed in the Raelenain shipyards.
After lunch, it was decided that they would try to find the means to journey to Kovir, to see if who may be behind provoking war with Avaneese, the demons from the Westeral Mountains and their leader the Trirune? The Drow and their Seven, who corrupted the Loretheria Forest? Or were they innocent, the soon to be victims of a King falling into darkness?
Duchess Jansylth insisted they stay with her until they depart and Lok led them out to the private avenue of the Civic Circle. The Duchess’ estate, high on Enderveron Hill, was a larger but less ornately appointed mansion than what she had in the capitol.
At this point the party decided to split up to better work on their various errands. Samnymian, Ved’Rail and Ragnork headed off in search of a craftsman who could work with fine mithral. Lok suggested starting at the Westeral Armory, the local master weapon and armor crafthall. Alluvian, Gretel and Phandria decided to find the local temple of Palor in search of a High Priest capable of removing the curse from Phandria.
Gretel’s search for a priest of significant standing to break Itarafane’s curse on Phandria took her to the city’s Merchant Center, a newer section of the city, filled with the expensive homes of Raelenain’s successful merchant class. Together with Aluvian and Phandria, they discovered the Dawnbreak Temple. Less grandiose than the Temple of High Faith in the Civic Circle, this temple had the look and feel of as much a fortress as place of worship, causing the dwarven priestess to wonder if the architect had designed a few Heronian temples before this one. The temple was a large round building with an open air courtyard in the center. In the middle of the courtyard was a tall, narrow, three sided tower that acted as the temple’s center of worship. The outer ring building housed living quarters, offices and other rooms for the temple’s personnel. The surface of the interior wall of the ring was designed to reflect as much sunlight on the center tower as possible.
Gretel spoke with a temple initiate, then was introduced to Navela, a half-elven high priestess of Palor, who agreed to attempt the Remove Curse. The divine spell’s effect was rather anti-climatic, as the supernatural beauty faded from Phandria and her intelligence was restored. The three expressed their gratitude and Aluvian made a donation to the temple. Gretel and Navela spoke briefly about the city, the pending war with Kovir and other things as they briefly toured the temple grounds.
Meanwhile, Samnymian led Ved’rail and Ragnor to find an artisan gifted enough to craft an item he’d been conceiving of for some time. He tracked down a renown dwarven weaponsmith, Ashkellen Coldhammer in the Craftsmen district. Samnymian described the work he had in mind and while Ashkellen had the materials on hand, the exact work was not something he had ever done before. In the end, the dwarf offered Samnymian two options; give him two months to do the work, or seek out the elven artisans of Tal’Mytherasil, who have likely done work in a similar vein. Reluctantly, the elven wizard agreed, there simply wasn’t time to wait in Raelenain for the work to be completed, and their travels would take them far from Avenesse for an unknown amount of time.
From Ashkellen they also learned of Alinar Sunweaver, an elf who represented much of the Tal’Mytherasil trading interests in the city. Master Alinar welcomed them to his home, an impressive home in the Merchant Center overlooking the foreign trade docks. Over tea and Tal’Mytherasil wine, they discussed the current situation within Avenesse, turmoil in the seas to the south, and other topics of interest. Alinar told them that the next Tal’Mytherasil vessel wasn’t due in port for two weeks, but if they were in some hurry to depart the city, he knew of two trusted captains they may be able to book passage with. The first was Captain Edensar of the “Blind Dancer”, a Cormeyr ship that traded all along the coast. The second was Captain Laeroya of the “Devils Bride”, a Narthazel vessel known for its speed. The three men bid Alinar farewell and made their way down to the docks.
Samnymian desired to seek out Captain Laeroya of the Devils Bride first. He found the ship easily enough with its distinctive figurehead of a buxom woman with a skull face. Calling out to the ship, the three were greeted from the ship by a petite young woman they learned was named Angel. She invited them on-board then bounced off to find the captain. The Captain arrived on deck a few minutes later, a tall, provocatively clad woman in long seacoat over a black leather corset, skirt and knee length boots. A leather helm with two long horns at the forehead and a bare bladed cutlass in her belt completed her uniform.
Samnymian and Captain Laeroya negotiated for passage. The Captain said she planned to depart the following morning, and for 250gp each, she would take them to Kovir’s primary harbor, or a nearby port if Kovir was closed due to the pending conflict. Samnymian explained Aluvian’s small menagerie of animal companions, and the Captain said she’d charge another 250gp for the Unicorn and the rangeress would need to keep an eye on her wolves, but the Narthazel Captain didn’t appear to concerned.
As they were leaving to inform Phandria, Gretel and Aluvian, Captain Laeroya asked Ved’rail if he was busy. The handsome elven bard replied that he didn’t have any immediate plans, so with a wicked grin, the Captain dragged him off to her cabin.
Angel rolled her eyes and went back to work. Samnymian and Ragnork headed back to the Duchess’ manor.