The Copper Coast

My Confession under the Sun- II

’My Confession under the Sun. Settat village is a pale shadow of the vibrant community Aristos, Feng and I found.

’Isolated and proud, we nonetheless found refuge. A simple meal and place to rest our weary heads was enough. This was short lived as gnollish Runners found our haven and sacked the innocent. Many died, most enslaved and the few remaining villagers tasked with rebuilding.

’Again, I dig another shallow pit for a dead Settatan. I try to give as much respect as I can as body parts and open flesh is tossed into the open ground. I am a target for curses, anger and sadness. I have had trinkets thrown in my face, sometimes spit follows after. I have lone members of entire families looking to me for guidance and grace. I stand in the fields, a target for these emotions, never stopping them, never wiping my face. I return to dig yet another grave, trembling from Red Dust withdraw.

’I have passed my spear onto Seffu, the young hunter and protector of the Settat. I promise to return to get it after my quest. He is in awe that the power of the Rising Sun has returned life to his bride-to-be. I want to laugh at the absurd nature of a Goddess who allows such death and sprinkles a tiny touch of Light to let us know She is All Powerful.

‘Before I can raise my fist and curse the Heavens, She grants me a weapon. Fills my heart with Light. I am still left with guilt and anger that wants to boil over. Thank you K’Rona, you evil witch! Your Touch will be the thing that bathes my hands in the blood of my enemies. I will stand side-by-side with these Outsiders, my friends and family, and lay waste to those who would enslave and kill. We will succeed or die! Either way, I offer you rivers of blood or my mauled corpse. Which do you prefer?’

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Session 3c- Bedevilment In the Emerald Citadel
Part III

The next morning, after a brief meeting with Yasiir, the party had their lead. Yasiir told the companions that he had talked to his contact and was quite certain that they should take a trip to the Foreign District- namely the Green Hag establishment. There they may find a clue or two, pertaining to the Bendari slaves. Rumor has it that the tavern used to be a front for a local thieve’s guild and there were tunnels leading to the sewers of the undercity there.

Aristos retorted that he had left Feng at the Green Hag, which was famous for it’s hearty drinks and smoked meats. The numskull had drunk and eaten himself into a near-coma and needed to recover. The monk may be in danger! On second thought, if anyone were to get on Feng’s bad side…

Perhaps, if he hadn’t stumbled into some misadventure of his own, he had regained his composure by now and would be able to accompany them. And what of their priestly friend, Eldrin inquired? Was there time to find his whereabouts and evoke his aid? Yasiir interrupted- perhaps too quickly- the group had better hurry directly to the Green Hag. Every second wasted may doom the Bendari elves!

Balking at the idea of traipsing through the murky waters of the sewers, after some convincing, Wispin agreed to go- if he could stop at the outdoor market and purchase some high boots. Aristos, rolling his eyes, reluctantly agreed and the three made their way through the winding, already bustling streets, of mid-morning Kourna.

After leaving Wispin to his own devices at a cobbler, Aristos and young Eldrin continued on to the Green Hag, happy to leave Wispin in the welcoming embrace of the market. The Blade Dancer carried a steaming container of oxen stew- a get well gift for their ailing monk ally.

After a few wrong turns, the two spotted the modest establishment: a two-story structure resembling a rustic northern lodge, complete with the great horns of some beast over the front entry. A muscular, sandy-haired woman of indeterminate age, lounged at that front entrance, casually polishing a large metal caraph. She was easily one of the tallest women either elf had seen and her light clothing did little to conceal the thick, wiry muscles of her arms and shoulders. Her hair was wild and unkempt, barely contained by thick, copper bands.

Eldrin, in his youthful exuberance, hoping to impress and befriend the woman, ran up, offering to take over her chore. The woman, cool grey eyes narrowing, took a step back, wondering who this silken-tongued, cloaked figure was and why he was being so affable- concealed face and all.

After seeing the North Brixian woman’s reaction, Eldrin decided to simply ask her if she had seen any wild elves about? The woman- Berra Greythorne- then proceeded to deny any knowledge of such. Having spotted a robed, high-boot wearing High Elf walking directly towards the tavern, Berra turns and quickly walks inside, and over her shoulder, loudly wonders why would she, a simple business owner, pay attention to such a thing? And why would there be any wild elves in the city. But more importantly, why was Eldrin going through so much trouble concealing his identity?

Eldrin and Aristos follow the northerner through the front door, the warrior deciding to take the forefront of the conversation. Berra again queried why the two were looking for wild elves in the Foreign Quarter- and especially in her tavern. Was Eldrin a wild elf- or even an escaped slave?

Interjecting, Aristos asked Berra if she was familiar with the monk, Feng? Laughing, she retorted that the big man had come into the tavern, along with a sullen partner, who wore the robes of a Sun priest. Feng had drunk himself into a stupor and stayed the night in one of her modest rooms. She attempted to collect the balance of pay from him this morning, but he had vanished! Who would cover her expenses?

The half-elf, sputtering, agreed to cover Fengs bill, but unfortunately, only had a handful of silvers on him. He further explained that both Feng and the priest, Roice, are companions of his, and unwisely explained Eldrin’s infernal bloodline, as well as their connection with wanting to discover the whereabouts of the kidnapped wild elves.

Berra kicks a chair out from a table and heavily sits down, offering the companions a seat. Eldrin, frowning, stubbornly decides to instead wander around the tavern floor, looking about. Joining her, Aristos further explained their interest, particularly, in a wild elf female. In addition, there was the unfortunate situation of Settat villagers being taken as well, by gnoll reavers. Could Berra somehow help them?

Before Aristos could reveal even more intimate information to the woman, who was a stranger mere moments age, Eldrin interrupted, saying that none of what they knew was absolute truth- they were following rumors and hearsay only!

Berra smiled, knowingly, as Wispin entered the tavern, robe flowing and resplendent in his new, soft leather, high boots. It appeared as if the last member of the “secret city watch” had arrived! Aristos assured her that this was not the case. They were merely concerned travelers. Could she please provide them with a hot meal, while they conversed? Berra stood and walked away, towards the back kitchen.

Wispin, frowning, twiddled his fingers, magically clearing the grime from a seat he intended to sit upon. Eldrin, who had been eyeing an unclaimed ale, quickly downed the drink, before anyone could object. Berra returned, bowls in hand, nodding to Wispin. The high elf immediately took it upon himself to take control of the conversation.

After Wispin spends a few minutes dumbfounding the woman with his intellectual prose, Eldrin slams down his stein, frustrated beyond reason. They were getting nowhere with this woman! The youth blurts out that they needed to quickly find the Bendari Elder’s daughter, before it was too late, imploring to her mercy! Berra, leaning back in her chair, asked, once again, why the group thought SHE had something to do with kidnapped elves? As far as she was concerned, the three of them appeared and sounded like lackeys of the City Watch. Eldrin tried to defuse her concern, trying to convince her of their sincerity.

Wispin placed a hand on Eldrin’s shoulder. Obviously the brutish northerner was dodging their questions. Why else had they been wasting time here? He knew she knew more than what she was telling them! As he said before, they wanted to handle this situation, without any mention of the watch, for slavery is outlawed in this city, is it not?

Berra takes a long swig from her cup, then stands. So be it! The woman quickly stood and walked towards the only other occupied table in the tavern. Without saying a word, she pulled up two surprised and protesting patrons, pushing them through the front door, before bolting it locked behind them. Turning, her face now a mask of anger, she flexed her thick fingers.

Wispin, clearing his throat, calmly demanded that the woman drop her charade and immediately tell the three of them what they wanted to know. Then she would be free to go about her business. Or, there would be trouble. At the elf’s words, Eldrin tugged at his crossbow, freeing it from it’s binding. Aristos, leaning forward, frantically waved the gnawed-upon bone in his hand. There was no need for this confrontation! This wasn’t the way to talk to people- especially humans! Wispin, still keeping his eyes upon Berra, harshly whispered to the half-elf, that time was of the essence! They had let this oafish woman waste enough of it!

Her ears and face, now beet-red, Berra moves towards Wispin, arms outstretched and hands grasping! The wizard, not even rising from his seat, waves his hand, causing a chair to tip over, in the woman’s path, as Eldrin stands, his crossbow now in hand. Aristos, nodding at his scabbarded star-bright blades, reminds her that there is no need for confrontation.

With almost supernatural quickness, the northerner has Wispin within her grasp, her face almost touching his. With a growl, Berra reared back her free hand, intent on delivering a mighty-thewed blow to the wizard! Eldrin, preparing a spell, muttered a few words of power. Aristos, flung a still-scabbarded blade at the woman, deflecting her strike and causing her to lose her balance, sitting hard on the floor.

Taking advantage of the turn of battle, Wispin stood and tried to reason with the woman again, imploring that none of this conflict was needed! Berra, sitting on the floor, began to loudly laugh. Reaching up, she grasped Wispin’s thin hand, hauling herself up. Dusting herself off, she clapped the wizard on the back, agreeing that she had been a fool! The companions sure didn’t act like skittish watchmen or even lackeys of the watch.

After eyeing them one final time, Berra beckoned the trio to follow her, as she turned and made her way to the kitchen. After contemplating her motives once again, the three warily followed her as she led them down into a wine cellar of some sort.

Deeper into the bowels of the cellar, they went, weaving between sweating casks and barrels of various ales and beers, many almost as large as Berra. Both Wispin and especially Eldrin took note of the overflowing baskets of fruits and nuts scattered about as well- many from the northerly climes of the continent. The scents reminded Eldrin of home, bringing a dampness to his eyes.

Abruptly, Berra came to a halt, in front of a large cask, almost 5 feet across. It sat on four low, thick legs, which looked as if they were barely able to support the weight of the container. Reaching out, the woman grasped the spigot and turned it clockwise, with a click. Then, grunting, she lifted the front of the cask up, above her head.

Chuckling, she watched the expressions on the three adventurer’s faces as they realized that the container was concealing an opening into the sewers under the streets of the city!

Ushering them into the opening, she bade them good luck in their venture and to find an alternate way out, for she would never hear their cries from the tavern. Before entering, Wispin thanked the northerner, promising that no trouble would come her way from them, tossing her a single gold coin. Berra caught the coin, biting it. Upon discovering it’s authenticity, she grinned.

As the three cautiously made their way down a slick wooden ladder, to the tunnel, some 20 feet below, Berra surmised that she had seen the last of the three. And just to make sure of it, she would let the priestess know to expect uninvited guests.

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Session 3b- Bedevilment In the Emerald Citadel
Part II

As Wispen entered the study, he promptly administered a bitter salve to Aristos’ gums. The swordsman, after much complaining, promptly fell into a deep slumber, the book still in his lap. With a satisfied nod, Wispin made his way into the adjoining room and arranged a place for him to embrace the trance of the fey.

Eldrin watched brightly hued butterflies float above his head, as he lay on his back, in the sweet-smelling grove. The sun was high in the sky and it’s warmth reached into his very bones. A cool, gentle breeze caressed his face, bringing the spicy-warm scent of simmering soup to his nose. He heard a light laugh, that could only belong to the Elder Seeker’s first-born, Tania. The tiefling smiled, exposing his keen teeth. It was days like this that reminded him of the wonderful life he had, with the Bendari people.

Eldrin blinked as one butterfly in particular, bravely fluttered down, close to his nose. It’s deep, reddish-brown wings seemed to blot out all else, as Eldrin’s attention focused on the funny little creature.

The insect gently settled on his twitching nose, it’s wings glistening in the sunlight. Eldrin couldn’t believe his luck! Surely this was a good omen! His delight was abruptly brought to an end as the butterfly seemed to look directly at him and utter a single word: Bael!

With a start, Eldrin sat up. The insect clung to his nose, like a Bendari Beast-tamer breaking a feral Miaug. The butterfly dug it’s appendages into Eldrin’s nose, bringing tears to his eyes. The tiefling swatted at the pest, no longer amused. Just as he was about to slap the annoyance away, the butterfly somehow avoided his awkward blow and flitted briefly in mid-air.

Then, with a hiss, the insect, once a thing of delicate beauty, began to warp and change. Long, grasping talons reached out, latching onto Eldrin’s tunic. Leathery, glistening wings blocked out the sun. And a face of deep nightmares glared into the horrified youth’s very soul. Red, flaming eyes looked directly into his and he once again heard that name: Bael!

Eldrin awoke, with a start, and sat up, looking about the room. Across from him, Wispin sat, legs folded, eyes closed, and arms at his side. Eldrin had seen his clansmen sit in similar ways, during the night. It was one thing that all elves had in common. The shutter above him softly creaked, as an evening breeze blew into the chamber, allowing a few splatters of cool rain into the room. Eldrin frowned. Walking over to the window he distinctly recalled closing and latching those shutters.

Eldrin moved closer to the window, looking about, then suddenly notices damp spots on the window sill and along the floor rugs. He swiftly ran to alert Aristos, within the study, leaving Wispin alone in the chamber behind him.

Meanwhile, Wispin was awakened suddenly, by a slight cut across his face. Aristos and Elgin then entered the room, and the three began to actively hunt for their invisible assailant! Elgin immediately stammered words of magic and, eyes aglow, peered about the room, his hand positioned at his temple, tail twitching. Wispin formed a shimmering layer of force on himself and immediately, he and Eldrin began trying to coax their mystery guest to reveal itself.

Suddenly, the air ripples and a blade appears, lashing out and wounding the tiefling! Eldrin screamed, both in surprise and pain, as the blow drew blood, his spell, no longer working. His face reflecting his growing determination, he watched, through watering eyes, as the figure smoothly moved into the study.

Aristos, dashing into action, instinctively flung both of his elven blades towards the barely discernible figure. Both blades flew wide, embedding into the far wall. Wispin, reaching into a pouch, took a handful of sand and with a word of power, blew the sand into the air. A cloud of fine, sparkling dust billowed into the room, filling most of it.

After waiting a moment, for the air to clear, a cloaked figure, laying on the floor, in the middle of the study, came into view. Eldrin quickly moved to the figure, reaching out to adjust the cloak and reveal their assailant, as Aristos confidently moved to retrieve his blades from the wall.

As Eldrin and Wispin moved closer, their noses were assailed by the stench of sulfur and they saw that the cloak of the figure was actually it’s draped, leather-like wings.

Eldrin fell back as the creature stirred, revealing it’s infernal features and the tiefling was immediately reminded of his uncertain heritage, seeing the creature’s horns and fiery eyes.

While Eldrin looked about for something to bind their prisoner, Aristos guarded the monster and Wispin hurried down the hall to retrieve their Thaumaturge host. Knocking on Yasiir’s chamber door, Wispin waited for what seemed ages, for the latch to unhinge and the door to slowly swing open. Standing there, in his night robe, the heavyset mage was covered in sweat, his eyes darting about. Wispin briefly explained their predicament and turned to hasten back to the study.

In the study, Aristos shook his head to clear his vision, as the room seemed to suddenly grow fuzzy, his head swimming. The creature on the floor rose up, sweeping the dazed swordsman to the side, dashing towards the window. Eldrin, pointed a finger at the fleeing form, spouting arcane words, and sent a blast of intense cold towards it. The infernal beast dove through the window, sending debris everywhere, narrowly avoiding the sorcerer’s spell. The study door burst open and Wispin entered, seeing Aristos sitting on the carpeted floor, mumbling incoherently and holding his jaw, his blades forgotten.

Their host, Yasiir entered, the guild Arch-Mage Zerwal behind him. After discussing the assassin’s motives and who may have sent the creature, Zerwal, with a sparkle in his eye, told Eldrin that his destiny may be about to catch up with him, which seemed to cause Yasiir no small amount of interest. Then, after examining the still woozy Aristos and ensuring that no unknown damage had occurred, the elderly Arch-Mage slowly left the study, walking stick tapping on the carpeted floor.

Turning to the frazzled group, Yasiir apologized and swore to find out who dared to harm guests under his protection! Until then, they must try to rest and renew their quest in the morning. The three once again attempted to make themselves comfortable for a, hopefully, undisturbed rest.

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Session 3a- Bedevilment In the Emerald Citadel
Part I

After having regrouped in the coastal city of Kourna, Roice, still distraught over the Settat village slaughter, felt it necessary to proceed to the Temple of the Sun, and speak with the High Priestess, Dar-Tigat. Feng, having heard about the vast selection of exotic and robust stouts and ales at a tavern, interestingly called, the Green Hag, hurriedly made his way there, promising to rendezvous with his allies at the Guild of Alchemists, later that afternoon. Aristos, feeling more than a bit jilted by the humans, made his way (with tight jaw) through the winding streets of the Emerald Citadel, to meet the two elves at the Guildhall.

After Aristos’ arrival, the trio had a late-afternoon audience with Wispin’s advocate and friend, Thaumaturge Yasiir-bet-Bassra. Lounging on a pallet of cushions, while reflectively fingering his hookah, Yasiir closely questioned Eldrin, just as he had, when Wispin first introduced them, a day ago.

It is revealed that Yasiir has seen other elves wearing garb, similar to that of Eldrin- but how can this be, as obviously, the young Tiefling is no wild elf? Eldrin hastily informed the mage of the kidnapping of his adopted wild elf clansmen, by the infamous Grey Runner gnolls, and how Aristos and the other party members had seen one group of gnolls heading towards the city.

Yasiir, after a moment of reflection, offered to have a talk with his “man on the street”. He would see if there was any information regarding slaves being smuggled into the city. His connection had ties to the less- reputable denizens to the Emerald Citadel. He simply asked for one consideration: May he have a single strand of Eldrin’s hair? Tieflings are a rare thing to see and it would humble their host if he was given this simple sufferance. Eldrin, much to Wispin’s silent misgivings, granted the Thaumaturge’s request.

Aristos let out a repressed huff, complaining about his damnable tooth pain. Wispin, always ready to scrutinize the potency of his compounds, immediately offered to whip up something to numb the High Elf’s pain and headed off to the guild’s workshop.

Their engagement, having lasted well into the evening, Yasiir reminded his guests of the city’s law: “All Outsiders, must find lodging in the Foreigner’s District, by nightfall- or be guests at a sanctioned location. Those found breaking this decree will be immediately arrested and brought before an Arbiter, who shall determine their guilt.”

Yasiir insisted that since the Alchemy Guild was one of the pardoned locations, his guests would give him the honor of staying in the apartments adjacent to his study. With directions to the sleeping quarters, Yasiir excused himself and retired to his quarters for the night.

At their host’s exit, the young Sorcerer immediately went to the adjacent room, flopping down on a palate of silken cushion. Aristos, his tooth still aching, tried to ignore the pain by perusing Yasiir’s massive collection of books and tomes. The last thing Eldrin saw, before falling asleep, was the Blade Dancer’s form, sitting near the study fireplace, his nose thrust deep into a hefty tome, while turning it’s pages softly.

Wispen, on his return to the upper levels of Yasiir’s dormitory, slowed his climb up a winding stairway, as he heard harsh whispers coming from an open doorway. Upon closer inspection, he recognized the Thaumaturge Yasiir whispering to a cloaked figure. The figure abruptly turned towards Wispen, with flashing eyes, causing Yasiir to glance down the hall. With hasty nod and flourish, Yasiir quickly closed the door to his quarters and Whispen heard the light “click” of a latch being engaged.

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Confessions Under the Sun
Thoughts of Roice Vandomere, Curate of K'Rona the Radiant

‘My Confession in the Sun; naked in body and mind before You. There is no denying the amazing feats of my friends. Feng, a martial expert that strikes as hard as a siege weapon. Aristos, whose twin blades slice with swiftness and accuracy. E’lauphann, an alchemist with more tricks than the hours of the day. And lets not forget Eldrin the Young, with crossbow that can harness mystic energies.’

‘So where do I fit in? I have none of the skills, talents, knowledge or tactical combat techniques that the others possess. I’m not even a real cleric and yet You continue to bless me. My hands covered in blood from my enemies and You show me your power. A foul beast created from the dark spiritual energies powered by a Lore-Shard sprang forth. We dispelled that evil, You giving me a sign of your vast power.’

‘Am I to be your Weapon against Evil? A Healer of the Hurt? My soul is still locked to my simple desires. Red Dust is a salve to my fear. You are making a mistake, Goddess of the Sun. I only know that I travel with ones I can call my family. I will protect them and fight by their side. Maybe You will give me a sign. I feel energies surge through me as I speak. But no message? I leave my doubt in your hands. Forgive me if I wander down the decadent path.’

‘Forever in Your embrace, Roice Vandomere.’

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