The Rangers at the Mill interview Dern, the son of the Millers. The young man is cooperative, but has little useful information. He says that The Bloody, Leer, and Johan moved in about a month ago. Since then, they have not allowed him to go to town and threatened to cut out his tongue if he told anyone there were there. He asks after his parents, who ran out during the fighting. When asked where they would go, he reports that they would not go to his Uncle, the Baker in town, due to disagreements between his father and the uncle, but might go to Southgate, where they have other family with whom his fater is on better terms.
Rakepick returns with Leandron and Constable Koll. The reason Leandron was delayed by Karrol was that Teller and Rossacue had just arrived with a wounded boy. There had been a fight the previous night at Rossacue’s keep, and the boy, Volstagg’s son, was badly hurt.
The Rangers review their findings at the Mill. Alfie is able to identify the potions as a potion to Boost Spirit, a Potion of Healing, and a concoction that would cause a cloud of darkness.
The silver ball is most interesting to Rakepick, who wants to play with it. He wonders what the buttons and switches will do. He wonders if the seams might indicate there is something inside. Eska and the others do not want him to have the ball, but he secrets it away while the others are distracted.
With the note concerning The Client and the next phase, the Rangers are convinced that Kiln is not yet safe.
With the page of repeated signatures of Rossacue’s name, they suspect that he is a victim, rather than an active player. They resolve to attend his feast the next day, expecting that some trap may occur.
Reener upgrades his armor and sword to those used by The Bloody.
Koll gets the same answers as the Rangers, and brings the Miller’s son back to town with the group. Koll is most displeased when Rakepick asks, in front of Miller’s son, whether Johan might have killed his parents to keep him from talking.
They return to town late and eat dinner at the Inn, after most other patrons have left for the night. Karrol and Samael have already eaten, but join you anyway. Leandron spends the evening telling you of his adventures as a Grey Ranger. He recounts his first mission as a full ranger, breaking up a band of River Pirates plaguing the free lands. He tells of other Rangers who made forays deep into Kal-a-Nar to rescue kidnapped princesses. He is “alive” with the stories of braverism, selflessness, and honor. The new Rangers, and Samael, are enraptured by the stories. Karrol seems to have heard them before.
Remembering the similarities between the silver ball and the builder items, Eska asks Samael if he can identify the purpose of the device. It is only at this point that the Rangers realize no one knows where the ball has been placed. Suspicion falls to Rakepick, who eventually pulls the ball from a pocket.
Samael and the Grey Rangers inspect the device upstairs, where he confirms that it is of builder design. It is a device with multiple purposes. By turning certain switches and dials, it can be made to blind those around it. Configured another way, it will put them to sleep. Used a final way, it will explode violently. Rakepick takes the ball back, and then asks further about how to activate the device. Samael expresses how glad he is to be sleeping in the other room.
As the stories are winding down, the Dwarf who Gandogar has drunk with several times returns, and the two share a few (too many) more drinks and songs.
On the morning of the 14th, the day of Rossacue’s event, Gandogar and Eska travel to the Mueller and Reener sets out to inform the Silverspear Gather. They each intend to inform their previous hosts of the partial defeat of those attacking the farms. They warn that the threat is not passed entirely. Yulik, at the Silverspear Gather, is still saddened by the death of The Bloody and retreats into her tent. Grimey feeds Reener breakfast.
Near Noon, the Rangers reconvene in Kiln and make the journey to Rossacue’s Keep. They leave most of their belongings, but bring their weapons.
Rossacue’s Keep has reached more than full capacity. The three families of farmers burned out by the raiders have been put up by Rossacue, with some living within the keep and others living in large tents outside. Add to this the cooks, performers, and other guests that Rossacue has invited from Kiln and the surrounding areas, and a sizeable crowd is reached.
Rossacue greets them enthusiastically and congratulates them on the victory, of which Constable Koll, who arrived earlier, has already informed him. Gandogar tells Rossacue that there’s something they need to discuss with him. Eska interjects that it should be told in private.
Rossacue agrees. “You’ll be staying in my home. I have rooms prepared. My man, Trevor, will show you to them. Then I’ll meet you in the library.”
Teller shows them into the keep, asking them to store their weapons in the guardhouse. Some do, but others ask if they can keep their weapons in their room. Trevor Teller sees no problem with the arrangement and leads the way.
Once in the Library, they peruse Rossacue’s sizeable collection of books. Most books cover the history and families of Galea and Olara, but Eska finds 1 “mostly inaccurate” history of Dregordia. That books is more romantic in its portrayal of the foreign nation. Stories of Dragons are featured heavily, with the Dregordians featured as slayers and defenders of the innocent.
When Rossacue joins them, the Rangers present him with three pieces of evidence: The signatures, the note, and the religious pamphlet on which the map was drawn.
“Each of these involves me in some way, which is deeply distrubing.” Rossacue admits. He returns the items one by one. “This is not my signature, but is a good attempt.
“As you can see, I am missing my ring, which bears my seal. Since moving to Olara 5 years ago, I have suffered some inconvenient illnesses. Yulik, of the Silverspear gathers, sees to my symptoms. One is a persistent cough. Another is a swelling of the joints. I removed my ring a week ago and though I had simply lost track of it.
“And this last,” the returns the map, with the religious text upright. “I have never made a secret of my parentage. My father is the Lord of Oakwood, but my mother, rest her soul, was the daughter of a merchant in the service of Oakwood. My father was, and remains, married to the Lady of Oakwood at the time, which qualifies me for the second sin. I guess I qualify for the 3rd as well, as I do not worship Archanon.”
“Are you one of those sorcerers too?” Rakepick asks.
“No. I do not hit the trifecta, but I suspect the two will be enough for this “client.”
The Rangers ask Rossacue if he knows of anyone who would target him; anyone who could be the client; but he states that he does not.
Rossacue returns the evidence to the Rangers, thanking them. He states that he must return to his other guests and announces that the feast will begin once his “surprise guests” arrive.
Before he leaves, Eska tells him that she has a possession, a heirloom she has recovered for another dregordian family, that she would prefer to keep on her person, wrapped and covered. She asks for his permission, which he gives. The dregordian adept swiftly runs to fetch the Kayakor.
The Rangers then set about to cautiously enjoy the festivities. Reener makes a circuit of the Keep, finding the place where the Volstagg boy was beaten, but finding no particular scents or tracks among the much visited scene.
After an hour, the final guests arrive. There is much consternation and disturbance among the farm families as a delegation of Goblinesh arrive from the Silverspear Gather. Yulik, Grimey, and an Ogre, Orc and Goblin have arrived as the final guests.
Rossacue gathers everyone’s attention, giving a speech with regards to how the Grey Rangers have uncovered a plot to create division between the people of Kiln and the Gather, and calling for renewed peace and friendship between the neighbors. This is tolerably well received, and the goblinesh join the feast.
The feast commences, with boar, many apple dishes, breads, wine, ale, and beer all making significant appearances. Flutes and harps and jugglers entertain during the meal.
Rossacue, Yulik, the Mayor of Kiln, Constable Koll, and Leandron occupy the head table, raised and placed on the porch of Rossacue’s dwelling. The rangers, the other guests from Kiln, and the goblinesh, and the heads of the farm families staying at the keep are mixed on 2 long tables, carved of single pieces of wood.
After the main course, Rossacue arises and delivers another speech on peace and harmony. He praises the Grey Rangers, speaking of their work in Galea and the southern kingdoms, not to mention their work here in Kiln. He then invites Leandron to speak.
Leandron then delivers a speech in praise of the individual Grey Rangers who have joined him. He honors them for their bravery and selflessness in the short time they have been rangers. He presents each with a cloak of the Grey Rangers, which he had commissioned of the local tailor (explaining why he was so flustered and busy when the rangers bought cloth from him).
As he receives his cloak, and after having his honor praise, Gandogar gives Rossacue the bag of coins found at the Mill, for its safe return to the farmers who paid the extorted fee to the raiders.
Leandron closes his speech with a toast, sits back in his chair, then collapses.
The healers among the Grey Rangers leap into action. Karroll, Eska, and Alfie converge on the Alakar, who is convulsing. Rossacue orders him brought inside. The five, along with Gandogar, bring him inside and upstairs to Rossacue’s room. There, they minister to his needs.
Alfie determines that the illness is due to poison, even detecting shavings of blood steel within the concoction, suggesting that this was targeted especially at Leandron. The blinds are drawn and Gandogar arms himself in expectation of another attempted assassination. Having exhausted their talent as healers, Alfie runs to fetch Yulik, the leader of the goblinesh, known as a powerful healer.
He finds the courtyard much changed. Trevor Teller stepped in to impose order. He ordered the gates barred and the different parties moved to separate areas, in case the assassin remained in their midst. Rakepick and Samael were moved to the Guardhouse. The citizens of Kiln were moved to the stables, while the farmers were kept at the tables.
When Alfie aks Trevor where Yulik is, the falconer answers. “She’s in the kitchen with the other Goblinesh. Tell the guard you have my blessing.”
Alfie delivers the message and steps through the opening door into the servants quarters. The alchemist hears the sound of drawn steel just in time to avoid a blow to the back. He rushes for the kitchen, but finds the door locked.
Unarmed, he reverses course and manages to make his way past the guard, returning to the courtyard, just in time to see Johan Spelt, the escaped archer, and a team of goblin archers unleash arrows into the farmers at the table. “Treason! Traitors!” He shouts, as Trevor advances on him with blade drawn.
Reener, confined with the Goblinesh in the Kitchens, hears the scuffling of Alfie’s fight. He flees up the stairs to the tower top. There, armed with sling, he proceeds to take long distance shots at opposing archers.
Rakepick has not been idle in the guardhouse. He unlocked the door, almost as soon as it had been closed behind him, and armed himself with his blade. To Samael, he gives a crossbow and, with some hesitation, the silver ball. “I’m trusting you.”
He then proceeds to the courtyard, where he gets into battle with a helmeted dwarf.
Rossacue arms himself with sword and shield and proceeds downstairs to confront the traitors. He verbally admonishes Trevor Teller as he advances. “The sins of the father are visited on the son,” the traitor replies.
Alfie escapes from Trevor and dashes to the guardhouse. There, he fires a few crossbow quarrels, before arming himself with a hammer.
Reener, pursued by a guard, is pushed from the rooftops, but survives the fall. He makes his way back indoors, unlocking the kitchen and arming himself with a knife, in time to lay an ambush for the guards as he returns to the ground. Victorious, he returns to the walls and continues to pelt the enemy with rocks.
Gandogar and Eska take the direct route to the archers on the wall, bursting through the windows and scampering across the porch roof. Gandogar takes arrows, but seems to be doing well enough at turning them away with his still mending shield arm. Eska leaps past him in her battle rage, swinging her Kayakor over the heads of the goblin archers to connect with the red headed Johan.
Wounded, the archer retreats to the tower, leaving all but one goblins to be cut down by Gandogar or flee on their own.
Before she can pursue, Eska is distracted by screams from Rakepick. Though he is not bleeding, the Brinchie clutches at his chest. He can feel phantom blows. It is something he has felt before. He knows instantly that it is caused by the Blood Steel dagger that almost killed him. The same Blood Steel dagger he left in the care of Karroll. The same Karroll who is still with Leandron.
“He’s killing him! Karroll is killing Leandron!” Rakepick shouts, even as real axe blows drive him to the ground before the gate.
Instantly, Eska and Gandogar turn from their targets and rush back to Rossacue’s room.
“The Lady sends her regards,” Trevor taunts as he drops Rossacue with a poisoned blade.
This leaves Alfie and Samael to face multiple foes in courtyard. Alfie, no stranger to the battlefield, realizes that to face so many alone is near certain death. He and Samael make a break for their allies.
Samael throws the silver ball into their midst. The blinding burst it gives off allows them to extend their lead and reach the porch. The dwarf rips off his helmet to better his vision, giving the fleeing pair the opportunity to recognize him as the dwarf, Clay Talger, who had frequented the inn in Kiln.
Upstairs, Gandogar finds a bloodstained Karroll at the top of the stairs. He swings his hammer, but is unable to connect before the Adept flees downstairs.
But he finds no respite as he circles the spiral staircase, for an enraged Dregordian has burst through the front door. The traitor falls, but is still breathing until an arrow zips over Gandogar’s ear and pierces Karrol’s throat. Freshly healed of his wounds, Johan had returned to the fray. Unable to turn the tide of the fight, he chose to avoid any information being able to reach the rangers through Karroll’s lips.
With Gandogar in pursuit, the normally lithe archer stumbles his way through the broken window and onto the rooftops before dropping heavily into the courtyard. “The job’s done,” he tells his comrades. “We’re leaving.”
Clay, Trevor Teller, and the two remaining guards leave Alfie and rush for the gate. Yet the falconer is not fleet enough of foot. Eska is able to close to Kayakor range and slows his escape further.
As Clay unbars the gate, Johan turns and sends one final gift. He places a black feathered arrow in Trevor’s eye, depriving the Grey Rangers of their best hope of uncovering the truth of the conspiracy in Kiln.
Though Reener pursues, he is not able to reach the escapees before they reach their horses and flee to the south.
In Rossacues room, Gandogar finds the remains of Leandron. His chest is bloodied by multiple vicious stabs and his throat is deeply slit. He is dead, beyond even the abilities of Yulik, though the old goblin does try.
Many of the farmers fared no better. The heads of two of the three families who had been burnt out of their homes were slain by the goblin arrows. Only the patriarch of the Volstagg farm and both Muellers survive.
Rakepick, Alfie, and Rossacue survive, thanks to the healing of their allies, though are somewhat battered by the experience.
Rakepick reports that as the connection from the knife to him strengthened, he could hear Karroll’s last words to Leandron. In a break from the brutality, Karroll cursed Leandron, saying:
“We were supposed to be brothers, doing work to raise up the southern kingdoms. But at every chance you debased us and kept us in poverty. We could have done lasting good. Instead, you seem to prefer these lowly savages. Well now you’ll die with them.”
The work then turns to cleaning up the mess and investigating the betrayal.
The Blood Steel dagger is still clutched in the dead Karroll’s hand. Rakepick reclaims this weapon, as it is a large threat to him if used by any person.
In Trevor Teller’s room, a small book of teachings of the Church of the Prelacy is found. Alfie also identifies several compounds and ingredients that have no use in Trevor’s normal position. They are various poisons, including some that could be used to bring out the swelling of the joints and coughing symptoms of Rossacue’s illnesses.
Additionally, they find a number of contracts that appear to be signed by the heads of the farming families sheltering at the Keep and Rossacue himself. These bear the wax seal of Rossacue’s missing ring, though the ring is not found.
The group studies these documents. On the surface, they seem to be standard agreements on how Rossacue will help each of the families restore the farm. He promises to provide the families with seed and food, will take a reasonable cut of the proceeds, and control of the lands will remain with the families. Finally, after some study, Eska discovers the small but vile secret hidden within their words.
“This part establishes a trust for the ownership of the lands among the of-age members of the family at the time of the contract. But this part adds Rossacue to that trust. And this part concerns the resolution of that trust in the event of death. If only one member of the trust remains living, they gain sole ownership, excluding any living heirs. This would make it seem that Rossacue sought to gain from tonight’s slaughter.”
When presented with these documents, Rossacue proclaims them forgeries, to which the Rangers heartily attest. Rossacue divulges that he’s been supporting the families with no expectation of a return. He returns them to the rangers.
“Do with them what you will. Keep them. Burn them. Give them to Koll. I will not profit off this.”
When asked again if he knows anyone who would seek to tarnish his reputation, Rossacue again names no person. Only after Alfie reminds him of Trevor’s words: “The Lady sends her regards,” does he even suggest the hint of a name.
“It is true. The Lady of Oakwood bears me no love. My success in Galea was a dishonor to her. That is why I left. But this is no evidence that could stand in a Galean court. Though she may be involved, I will not name her in this matter.”
When Gandogar questions aloud why they would seek to set this up and then seek to kill him too, Rossacue answers, “I do not think they cared so much if I lived or died, no more so than they care who works these few fields. They sought to disgrace me. For some, honor gained or lost means more than life.”
The delegation of the Silverspear gather departs that night for their home.
Alfie sets about cleaning and making presentable the body of Leandron. His clothing is ruined, but his cloak is saved and washed. Rossacue provides new clothing for him. In Rossacue’s possessions are paired White Silver swords, fine mail of small ringlets, and bracers. His bag also holds two letters. These are sealed. His pack also holds 4 potions:
Succor, Boost Fighting, Healing, and a “Small Bottle of Explosive Consequence”. This last was carefully packaged in a wooden box, which was itself wrapped in a thick cloth.
Late that night, Zaro returns. He is shocked at the death and betrayal, but, upon realizing his is now the ranking member, rallies for the benefit of the others. He repeats the name of Leandron’s home and the base of their grey ranger outpost, to-be-named, and shares that Leandron would wish to be buried where he fell, with his most prized belongings being returned to Krythos to be returned to his family.
The next day, you return to Kiln. Your rooms are as you left them. The plot, evidently, did not involve stealing bags of crysarium. Or, the battle was simply so costly to both sides that your enemies decided not to risk a return trip to Kiln.
Karroll’s possession a meager. He brought some crysarium out of the Builder mine, but has nothing else of great value. You find no letters or writings in his possessions. After some searching, Gandogar does notice that a bit of paper has been added to the other contents of the chamber pot. Whomever is brave enough to fish it out can find the following legible among the runny ink.
I am getting out…
…why did I let losing our land mean losing you…”
You remain a few days in Kiln. During this time, you see nothing of the Red Store agents.
The Inn is packed during these days. The citizens of Kiln practice a custom known as “Last Call”. In this very Olaran tradition, the friends and neighbors of the fallen gather and drink to the memory of the slain. They fill the air with stories and memories; sometimes humorous, sometings sad, sometimes touching. A full cup is set aside for the departed. With each round of drink or round purchased, a coin is dropped into the cup, causing a bit of the drink to overflow. When the cup can hold no more coins, it is brought to the grave or marker of the deceased, where the final drops are poured out. The coins and cup are then given to the families of the departed.
During these days, you are able to discuss your options. These seem to be:
Both Eska and Gandogar express a desire to visit their homes. Anvil is close. Dregordia is not.
Some express a desire to return Leandron’s remains and/or effects to Krythos and resume his duties at his Grey Ranger Outpost. Zaro is certainly keen on this idea.
Perhaps you are feeling vengeful and wish to pursue the escaped agents who orchestrated the attack.
Perhaps you wish to stay in Kiln, to rebuild and strengthen the area.
Perhaps you wish to seek out Olivander or other senior Grey Rangers to determine their orders.