Monday, February 25, 2019

Blossom Fall, Episode 6

Colonial Caerdia: Blossom Fall is a story being told through a 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign I'm running at a local hobby shop called the Devil's Bench. If you aren't already familiar with this series, you can find the beginning over here.

You can find the previous episode here.

5th-7th of Waxing Spring, 0 AL

I'Un and Vala have just returned from a nighttime excursion out the the Spring Blossom, where they discovered the corpses of nine extremely hairy orcs concealed in a compartment below the cargo hold. Vala swears I'Un to secrecy before they go to bed, saying that they don't know who they can trust, and that she'll get to the bottom of this - and hopefully have someone to blackmail at the end of it.

In the morning, Vala heads off searching for someone somewhat nefarious that she can rely upon for information relating to shady dealings, and is surprised to find a relatively friendly face. Silence is a light red tiefling who was something of a friendly rival back in New Drovinaar. Vala approaches them and asks them to replace Roach, an mutual friend of theirs who had connections to the larger criminal world. Silence is open to the idea, and is more than willing to accept payment to go searching for information about the dead orcs - with a promise for more to come if they find results.

I'Un sets out to spend his day crafting bear-tooth hand-wraps. He is soon approached by John looking to ask some questions, however the conversation is very quickly derailed when I'Un accidentally lets slip about his and Vala's trip to the ship. The monk tries to cover up his mistake, but John easily sees through his lies and presses him for more of the truth, with I'Un finally saying that John needs to ask Vala if he wants to know anything else.

John reports to Jojen about what he's learned from I'Un, then goes off on Jojen's request to see if there might be any horses available that they could use for exploration. When I'Un takes a break from his work to talk to Jojen about a plan he's been working on to impose some structure on their little society - consisting of a council formed by the five strongest people - as determined by a tournament. Jojen expresses that this could be a good idea, as there is currently no functioning leadership or organization and buildings are being constructed wherever people feel like building them, however he turns the conversation to the concerning matter of this expedition out to the Spring Blossom. I'Un once again displays his ineptitude for lying, and finally says that Vala must be asked for any other information before returning to his project.

Jojen decides it's time to pay Vala a visit, and finds her quite irritated that I'Un couldn't keep quiet about their venture. She reveals very little about what had happened, making up for I'Un's lack of lying skills - at least until John shows up, coming back with news that there are too few horses for them to acquire one, and catches the end of the conversation. I'Un had told John more, and from that information, Vala is persuaded to share with them the carpenters' kit that was found. Jojen convinces her to let him have the kit in the hopes of finding a carpenter to work for them.

John goes off to find Will so they can join a foraging party for the rest of the day. Jojen heads towards Glavel and the under-construction temple, however on the way he's examining the toolkit and he recognizes some of the kit's design as his own. Suddenly keenly aware of who the kit's proper owner is, he rushes back to talk to Vala, revealing that this kit belonged to a friend of his - part of a band of a band of roving, barbarian mostly-orcs called the H'rst'ut. Hearing this, Vala curses about pre-paying Silence for information that she just discovered on her own, then tells Jojen about the nine dead hairy forms below the cargo hold. Jojen makes her take him out to the ship, where they re-open the secret compartment and he becomes certain that these are some of his friends.

They return to shore and Jojen pays a visit to the captain, asking her what she knows about this situation. Captain Opal is taken completely by surprise, and agrees to investigate this matter, as well as to inform Jojen after it was done so he could perform funeral rites.

By evening, the investigation is done with no new information. Jojen recruits one of the sailors, Vala, and John to help him bring the bodies to land while I'Un takes a moment to propose his council-tournament to Lord Krandig. The nobleman likes the idea of a council, but he says it should be a council of nobles - not one made up of the strongest members of the settlement, as strength is no manner to determine leadership skills and nobles were born to lead. I'Un and Krandig part, none too happy with the others' opinions.

I'Un then joins Jojen, Vala, and John for the funeral ceremony, where eight of the nine H'rst'ut are set off in a boat to a funeral dirge, then set alight. The ninth of the group, Jojen removes the hairy disguise from, revealing her to be his elven love in disguise. Before she can be taken off for a proper burial, an attack comes in the form of strange creatures that seem to be a cross between bats and mosquitoes. The group defeats them fairly quickly, thanks to a sleep spell from Jojen (which also puts I'Un to sleep). They then take the final body to Glavel for a funeral more appropriate for her before heading to bed for the night.

The next day, Vala wakes to find she isn't where she went to sleep. The barrel she sleeps in has been moves out into the ocean, just far enough that her weight has it resting in the shallows and that the waves won't splash inside. From out on the beach, she is greeted by a laughing Silence. Vala tries to vent some of her rage at her predicament by shooting an arrow at Silence, but she misses. Hoping to maintain at least some of her dignity, Vala performs an admirable leap out of the barrel, managing to keep enough of her weight on the barrel to keep it touching the shallows until she clears it. The barrel leaps into the air behind her and lands with a splash.

Dragging the barrel in one hand and drawing her rapier with the other, Vala storms up onto the beach, waving her rapier at the unconcerned Silence, who chides her for having no sense of humor and informs her that they have acquired the information she wanted. Vala says she already has it, which surprises Silence, who asks what Vala knows in case they have more information than Vala has. Vala is unwilling to part with her information, and Silence won't say anything until paid. After dropping Jojen's name, and finding that Silence has a different name, Vala caves and pays Silence five more gold to learn that the smuggling operation was paid for by one of the hairy orc types, named Da-Beat, and that ten of them had been smuggled onto the ship. Vala presses for Silence's informant, but Silence won't give them up - until Vala offers enough gold. With fifteen more gold handed over, Silence reveals that they were their own informant - as they had performed the smuggling job. Silence swans off to the incoherent rage of Vala.

Vala makes her way back to her companions' campsite, where they ask about her soggy foul mood, to which she mutters something about Silence, then tells Jojen what she's learned about his friends. Jojen is happy to hear that his good friend Da-Beat wasn't on the ship, but he has some concerns about this Silence character - especially once he leans they are a tiefling. In fact, throughout the morning as he, John, and I'Un help Makkar, the dragonborn tanner, finish his house, Jojen's internal anger is coming to a boil. He goes to ask Vala if she's okay with Silence being taught a lesson, and Vala expresses that Silence will be quite useful to her, but she would be very happy to see them taken down a peg. Several pegs, at that. But she doesn't want Silence to know there's any connection to her.

So, Jojen gathers John and a reluctant I'Un and track down Silence while Vala lurks off in the distance, watching with delight to see what will happen. It takes some time, but they eventually find Silence working on constructing one of the fancier buildings - the one for Atsnid, a tiefling Vala knows is looking to establish herself as a merchant. Not wanting a public scene, I'Un tries to lure Silence away from the work site by telling them that Vala has information for them - but Silence doesn't buy it.

Unwilling to let this thwart him, Jojen marches right up, calling out Silence as a smuggler and blaming them for the deaths of his friends. Silence, however, holds their own as a curious crowd gathers, providing Jojen with a contract that he can verify Da-Beat's signature on - one that acknowledges the dangers of the trip and does not include a safe arrival, as Silence wasn't meant to remain on the ship. However, this doesn't make Jojen feel any better, and he continues on with the crowd growing - heedless of the image he's painting himself, John, and I'Un, and the fact that he's publicly announcing that  Vala is a smuggler who snuck I'Un onto the ship. All he cares about is tearing down Silence - who deflects what damage they can to their own reputation by bringing the attention back to Jojen and his accomplices and what they are doing. Wanting to strike a solid blow, Silence asks Jojen why it is that he is here harassing them rather than out looking for his unaccounted for friend.

And that brought this game session to an end. Check back next week to find out what happens next in Episode 7.

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