Birthright: Rise of the Kingmakers

Session 20, A new compatriot

July 20-?, 561 Haelyn Count

Present: Brian, Dave, Jess, Ron; Absent: Ken

Current Goal: none! (well, maybe finding a replacement for Khisenya)

Last Session Recap: rescued Nick from pirate tunnels below the taxidermist shop in Calrie, Nick got a new (magic) axe, sailed back to Mhowe, visited Nick’s orphanage and caught up with Grammy Patches, met with the Prince to relay findings from Caelcorwynn Island, learned how to activate and control mechanical rat, learned features of magical tiny chest that Almira bought, bought a dog to guard the cottage after seeing thieves casing the place, discovered Khisenya had abandoned group taking books and decoder ring from Azrai sphinx, Prince offered to find a replacement, Nick and Jenneken did some carousing and learned some about the two that seemed likely to fit in.

July 20, 561, Mhowe, Chimaeron

Nick tracked down the low-lifes that were casing the cottage and talked them into looking into more information about Rig-Jarl Arvid Hall-Destin Calder (Rjurik cleric of Erik) and Johan Standhaft (magician/scholar).

July 21, 561 Mhowe, Chimaeron

Went to Prince’s tower to meet with the two candidates. Met with Arvid first. He was immaculately dressed in fancy armor and carried a battle axe. He had a handsome face, was well-manicured, and carried himself with confidence that seemed a bit off. He said he was looking to improve his reputation, and was looking to take part in adventures that would be story-worthy. He offered that he was knowledgeable about Cerilian royalty, that he was in good physical shape, and that (ultimately) he followed the tenets of the Emerald Spire (resist development and industry, rely on nature). Arvid noted that he had heard many tales of the group, and he mentioned several of the hero’s recent escapades.

Vendar asked about healing abilities and he confirmed he had access to Erik’s healing and protective blessings. Almira asked him if he had any enemies, and Arvid said he had no enemies but did have a responsibility to support the Emerald Spire.

After he left, Jenneken told the group what she was able to read about him with her special abilities: he seemed uncomfortable with the idea of combat, despite his armor and weapon. When talking about exercise and physical activity, she noticed that his armor didn’t seem to weigh him down as much as it should. Vendar agreed that his armor seemed more ceremonial than functional.

Johan arrived after lunch. He was dressed in somewhat formal attire including a long coat common among some sailors. After a cursory request, he immediately lit up a cigar-like object to smoke. Vendar asked about healing abilities and he commented that he had an “arrangement” with Avani. Almira asked what happened to him 10 years ago (during “The Troubles”) and he explained his minstrel group ran into some problems with some accursed creatures.

When talking about Nick’s orphan upbringing, Johan made a comment that made it clear he had checked into the group’s past himself. Overall, he was impressed that the group had accomplished what they did, but thought they were foolish for what they had attempted – “getting in way over your heads”, he said. He also was concerned about Khisenya’s association with the group – given her obvious associations with The Serpent. Regarding his own magical abilities, he said his spells were varied but not particularly powerful.

When Nick asked him why he wanted to join, Johan said that he had to get involved so the group didn’t accidentally do something horrible. Given the forces they were dealing with, the course they were on would have eventually lead to some disaster – releasing creatures from the Shadow World, giving more power back to Azrai, or the like. Nick challenged John on how he might fight undead, and he responded with an example of a brew he could use to avoid them even getting close. “The best way to win a fight is to never get into one,” he said.

After Johan had left, Jennken noted that he was much harder to read than Arvid. He conveyed in many ways to be a drifter. Regarding Almira’s question about “10 years ago”, Jenneken noted that he had some bad association with the Shadow World. She also noted that there was some hidden sadness about some of the things in his past.

The group discussed which one to choose. Vendar and Almira eventually decided that Johan would be better, but Nick wanted to wait until his “informants” got back to him. Jenneken also reserved judgement.

July 22, 561 Mhowe, Chimaeron

Nick met with his informants and they told him a few things, but nothing the group didn’t already know.

At the Prince’s tower, the group indicated that they wanted to work with Johan. Various paperwork was produced and signed, and Johan officially joined.

Back at the cottage, Johan settled in. Nick showed him the mechanical rat, and he agreed it was a magical construct. He also noted it was made of cold iron, particularly dangerous to fey.

The group spent the rest of the day filling in Johan on the details of their adventures so far. Johan took the opportunity to study various magical items and provide more details.

July 23, 561, Mhowe, Chimaeron

The group went back to the Prince’s tower again to learn of their next assignment.
Rennerik explained that there was a fort in Kiergard that needed to be infiltrated and claimed until a full force of troops could be stationed there. The Prince was hoping to take advantage of the unrest in the area there, as the Gorgon’s troops were massing as if to invade toward Anuire.
The fort was located in the Esmersdan province, a hilly range near the Stone Crow Mountains. The surrounding area was mostly unpopulated, but represented an important point along a trade route to and from the Gorgon’s Crown. The fort needed to be taken and held for 3 or 4 weeks.

Intel indicated that orogs currently controlled the fort. They were reported to be sufficiently armed and armored to defend the location, though specifics of numbers were not known. Construction was a single rounded tower with a single gated entrance. A moat may or may not have be present. Several arrow slits provided cover across all approaches. A ballistae or two may have been on the roof.

As to timing, the Prince’s assistant said it would be about 2 weeks after their dwarven escort turned back that the Prince’s troops should arrive to assume control of the fort.
The Prince recommended that the group sail up the {something} river to a port in Baruk-Azhik on the Kurinlach. There they would meet a dwarven contact who would help guide the group toward Esmersdan. He recommended travelling through Kiergard rather than taking chances with the elves in The Sielwode.

Looking at their new world map, Almira and Vendar estimated their travel time: about two days to sail the river, another two up the river to the lake, a week hiking through the mountains to Kiergard, and then 80 miles to the fort in Esmersdan. If the group could find horses, it would only take two days to get to the fort. Walking would take 3 or 4.

The rest of the day was spent collecting supplies and preparing for the sea and river part of the trip. Vendar estimated that normal equipment and should be sufficient, though some cold-weather clothing might be helpful in the mountains. Travel through Keirgard would be hot and humid, said the woodsman.

Taking advantage of Almira’s trading skills, the group stocked up on arrows and crossbow bolts, as well as several alchemical items: 3 smokesticks, 3 thunderstones, and 3 flasks of alchemists’ fire. Nick also found some special arrowheads that burned white-hot when in contact with skin, but he wasn’t able to afford them. The group also bought extra rope, climbing gear, and two 2-person tents. Johan contributed some extra cooking gear and some heavy blankets.

July 24, 561, Aboard the Shiraz, Gulf of Coeranyz

Setting sail shortly after dawn, the group was under way after some difficulty navigating out of the Mhowe port.
The rest of the day passed uneventfully, sailing along the Chimeron shoreline.

July 25, 561, aboard the Shiraz, Gulf of Coeranyz

Another day of uneventful sailing ended as Almira’s boat pulled into the docks at Kiedel, the port city at the mouth of the Khurinbyrn River.

That night, during Vendar’s midnight watch, a few drunk men stumbled down the dock, thinking the group’s boat was theirs. Vendar changed into his lion form and roared at them from the shadows. Having fled in terror, they returned a short while later with some town guards. Vendar didn’t give a good explanation so the guards searched the boat, but didn’t find anything (as there was nothing to find).

July 26-27, 561, aboard the Shiraz, Khurinbyrn River
Almira’s expert navigation brought the group to Oden on the Kurinlach.
Jenneken went into town to carouse and grind the rumor mill. Almira went ashore in hopes of finding a Khinasi bathhouse.
Back at the boat, Jenneken noted that the arms and armor trade through the city had continued to increase since they passed through on their way back from Coyote Point. Some organization beyond The Vampire’s Hold was consuming a great quantity of supplies – likely in preparation for war. Almira returned clean and renewed.

July 28,61, aboard the Shiraz, Kurinlach

Sailing across the Kurinlach, Almira managed to find the remote dock where the Prince’s instructions indicated they would meet their dwarven contacts.
Vendar transformed into his owl form and flew around the area to make sure there wasn’t any danger. Buffeted by swirling winds, he was unable to find anything. Nick’s keen vision picked out a cleverly hidden fort a short distance up the mountainside. Dwarves appeared a short while later, and after confirming their association with the Prince, lead them into the mountain wilderness of Baruk Azik.

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