Frontier Dreams

Session 2.25
In Which Deception is Successful

Knowing that they were on a time limit, the adventurers quickly put together a plan to upset the hierarchy in Goldrush before they departed the material plane. Asmund revisited the general store, and used some borrowed funds to purchase a musket as an excuse to spy where and how their surplus munitions were stored. Using that knowledge, he and Mary would disarm the Iron Pioneers of their tinkerer and guns in one fell swoop.

The rest of the party meanwhile used Bristis’ friendly demeanor to organize a private match between Koapani “The Bonelord” and a mysterious fighter named Stuzan Phelan. They found him near the entrance to the mine overseeing the workers and guards within. Promisng Koapani a primal fight, he transformed into a savage bear and charged the lizardfolk. A ferocious battle of tooth and claw ensued, with Stuzan ultimately reverting to human form, stating he found Koapani an even match and would prefer to live through his retirement. Koorie seized upon the action to magically shout throughout the mine to the collected crowd that Stuzan had retreated in fear, granting Koapani victory.

Back in town, Mary used transfigurative magic of her own, and smuggled herself, her kiwi, and Asmund into the basement storage where her father was kept. After a heartfelt, if rushed, reunion, the three of them gathered all the supplies and prototypes they could before sneaking out to the mine. As they neared the entrance to the mine with a stash of stolen guns, they heard the crowd’s uproar at Koorie’s announcement.

Roughly two days remained until the beginning of the peace talks.

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Session 2.24
In Which a Fool and Gold are Crossed

Becoming increasingly concerned about the potential threat of location from the scrying sensor, the travelers concocted a clever scheme. Using obscure magic, Koorie separated Kailen’s head from his body and left the head next to the purloined boy of the gnome. When Ako signaled that she again detected the scrying effect, she assumed the form of an Iron Pioneer and continued on her journey steering the wagon. For good measure Kailen spent the next few days repeating the ruse, only reattaching his head for a hasty meal now and then. By the time they arrived at their destination, Ako had stopped detecting the scrying sensor every day.

Back in town, Mary was finishing her pet project. Asmund received a letter that could only have been from Calder, with characteristically ominous writing. The two of them made a last mnute visit to the jeweler to acquire a valuable diamond before Mary revealed to Asmund her hard work’s payoff: An intricately detailed gargoyle that incorporated features from all of her traveling companions into its form. Barely did Asmund have time to fully appreciate the details before he and Mary were grasped in the mighty stone talons and they began their hurried flight to the lakeshore for the rendezvous.

As they moved away from the lake, the ground began to flatten out and they soon saw the regular rise of thin smoke trails from a frontier town. Unlike Trinity Bay, there was no massive gate to enter, mere’y evenly spaced guard towers. They quickly learned this town was different in several ways. With the focus on equipping travelers for departure, there was very little infrastructure for visitors. Anyone who was a permanent resident was either a high ranking Iron Pioneer or contained within the mine.

Asmund ingratiated himself with Dennis Crownhammer, the local director, while Kailen had a strained reunion with Bristis. Mary had made a last minute decision to assume the role of Kailen’s bride, and Kailen had no time to counter the statement. Although they had received an unexpectedly warm welcome, it was clear that there was a divide in the attitude given to the Alliance members of the party versus the Mahi Tahi. While Koorie was growing into the idea that the wholesale destruction of the town was not the best outcome, some others were not so sure.

As they debated what to do, representatives from both empires were already on their way to the negotiations. Four days remained until talks began.

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Session 2.23
In Which Votes are Cast

Regrouping the next morning, the party set about determining the fallout from their assassination the previous night. Application of magic revealed that the young gnome they’d carried back was a Rentyllian, a member of the wealthy firearm family. Based on his answers to their post mortem queries, they determined that he was not at fault and was an unfortunate bystander they’d acted hastily in killing. Should the opportunity arise, Koorie revealed he could bring the gnome back to life with a sufficiently sculpted diamond.

Theories about the origin and nature of the attack overnight were spreading across the town, with everyone pointing fingers in different directions. The grounds were swarming with guards and an investigation was clearly consuming significant resources from the city’s efforts. During the afternoon, Koorie and Kailen fended off a magical prying from somewhere in town. Quick examination of the lingering aura by Koorie revealed that they were using some evidence left behind to pinpoint the culprits. Kailen’s only body they could use was spent, but Koorie had a plethora of pig corpses for them to use as a focus. Kailen also realized that the firefight had resulted in him leaving two rifle casings on the floor of the room they could use as a focus to track him.

Deciding that a hasty exit was called for, everyone made ready to leave, save Asmund and Mary, who insisted they stay behind to try and cast their vote for the admiralty chair. Kailen assumed the role of an Iron Pioneer, and through magic Ako his mistress. With their entourage of “savages” they made for the city gates. After a brief examination by the guards they were permitted outside the walls and back into the frontier lands. It was well that they did so, as the following day Ako spied a scrying sensor focused on Kailen. Almost immediately they began to plot how to trick those on the other end, as Koorie resisted several more attempts to stain his hand from the pig bodies.

Within the town, Asmund and Mary noticed a rough approximation of Kailen’s face begin to appear about town on wanted posters. For better or worse, the blame appeared to focus on him and not the Mahi Tahi by a majority of the rumors. Mary made regular visits to a jeweler to acquire the materials needed to finish her gargoyle. He did not personally have access to a diamond of sufficient quality to bring someone back from the dead, but implied that if Mary waited long enough he might be able to find a local who did. As Mary’s creation neared completion, she and Asmund packed for what would be an uncomfortable if short overland flight to regroup with their friends.

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Session 2.22
In Which the Plan Goes Out the Window

Wanting to act sooner than later, the adventurers agreed to strike at Tumnus Willem the night of his rally prior to the election. Asmund visited the Scarlet Ribbon to inform Amora that they would need her contacts to thin the external guard presence, and she reminded him this would only work once. He, Kailen, and Ako waited until the darkest night to slink across the park towards the mansion. Koorie, Koapani, and a collection of birds took up watch upon the roof, their wings approach being something the guards still didn’t think to protect against.

Looking in the window, Kailen was dismayed to realize that there was an event in full swing this evening at the manor. Tumnus Willem was surrounded by nearly two dozen guests, many of whom were armed. He was clearly the center of attention, and their plans to catch him in his sleep went up in smoke. Asmund suggested that Ako make the three of them invisible to get past the crowd during the commotion and wait up on the second floor. With Tumnus speech drawing everyone’s attention, they managed to slip through the crowd to the stairs.

Finding many locked doors upstairs, they set about finding an appropriate place to lay in ambush. One door was found to be magically alarmed, and no one among them had come prepared to disable such protections. They found what appeared to be a library, trophy room, and luxurious bathroom before a lone guest found his way upstairs. As he was inspecting the library, Asmund crept up and slit his throat.

Shortly thereafter, a pair of inebriated brutes wandered up looking for a reference on their poker game to find the gnome dead on the floor. They rushed downstairs to get help immediately. While they were downstairs, Kailen passed the body up to the rook whilst Ako magically removed the bloody mess, and the trio resumed hiding. When a search party came to investigate, the absent body led the guard to assume the two drunken louts had fabricated the events.

Not long after, Tumnus Willem and an entourage of armed guests had come upstairs into the trophy room. Seeing this as their best opportunity, the trio moved to sneak around him. With practiced precision, Asmund dug both his daggers into Tumnus while Kailen set off a perfect shot from his rifle. Tumnus immediately collapsed dead to the floor. In the chaos that followed, Asmund was able to, in a split second, conjure deeper darkness than many thought possible for the candle seller, and leap out the window. Kailen recalled the layout of the floor and lept from the library window to divide pursuit. Ako, still invisible, flew up to the roof to inform her friends that the proverbial jig was up, kicking the alarmed door on her way out to draw attention away.

Koorie, realizing that subterfuge had passed, called upon the foreign powers contained within his lantern to set ablaze the warehouse containing the pigs with eerie flames. Unsatisfied with the already roaring blaze, he added one wave of MoeMare’s own fire to the inferno before departing with the rest. As they reconvened at the Lazy Lizard, they had scarce time to reflect upon what had just occurred before the following day began. Asmund assured the innkeeper that the entire group had been asleep in their beds all night, and paid him generously to say so if asked such.

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Interlude: Reflex
In Which Speed is Key

Nogaro waited until everyone was clearly well away from the Lazy Lizard. The errant gunshot in town was, distressingly to him, common enough that they wouldn’t pick up on it coming from here unless they were in the immediate area. They had all split up to investigate the machinations of the Maggot king in this city of smoke and steel, leaving only himself and Mary to maintain their caravan. And in his professional opinion, Mary out of all his recent companions was least likely to talk about what he had planned. Not that she was necessarily the best at keeping a secret he thought, but that she simply was not inclined to share something unless it was directly relevant. And those were conditions he could understand.

She was to say the least confused when he had her follow him out back and handed her a firearm they’d taken off a foe weeks ago. He knew not how to operate the thing, but she seemed to have enough of a grasp to help him. When Nogaro explained that he wanted Mary to shot him with it, she was much more confused. But between her lack of precision training, and his reflexes, he assured her that the chances of a lethal shot were minimal at best. And if he was going to meaningfully obey his directive, he could no longer continue without overcoming this.

Mary stood a hundred paces away and tried her best to line up the shot. As she squeezed the trigger, the telltale boom sent the bullet wide, easily missing Nogaro. Even so, his muscles tensed against his command. As the sound and smell hit him, all his training was for naught and he was back to being that helpless child. His mind desperately wanted to lose itself to the memory of that night when smoke and fire failed to drown out the screams. But he fought it down. Those he traveled with faced far more terrible horrors that he, and this was a weakness that was in excusable.

Mary seemed to have figured out how to reload the pistol and shouted that she was ready to try again. This time her aim was better, and the barrel was clearly on target. Nogaro moved, but not fast enough and a terrible pain lanced up his arm. Looking down he saw a fresh hole just above the elbow. The pain paled in comparison to the knowledge he froze again. Mary ran over, and the strange bird in her robes glowed an eerie light as she closed the fresh wound before any lasting damage occurred. She insisted that this was a bad idea, but Nogaro pressed her to continue.

As she again took up her stance, Nogaro drowned out everything else. The noise of the city, the soreness of a bed not meant for wings and tails, and the stench of industry all faded from his mind. A far more terrible mentor had insured that this focus would endure through any distraction through practice. Nogaro sensed more than saw Mary’s finger on the trigger, and before she had let loose, his hands were already in motion. As she threw the pistol down and ran to Nogaro, again blood trickled from a wound. This time however, he afforded himself a rare smile, as he held up a bullet in his hand. Although he’d still been wounded, it was slight, and insignificant next to what he felt holding the bullet that had come hurtling towards him.

For the first time, the pistol’s blast left only a quickly fading ringing in his ears, and he was sure he wouldn’t freeze up again when someone with more lethal intent pointed a gun at him. This time, he was no longer a scared child.

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Session 2.21
In Which Plans are Hatched

Fully commited to the decision to kill Tumnus Willem, the party set about planning in earnest how best to go about doing so. Many ideas were presented including discrediting him on the public stage, soliciting the assistance of local authorities, and framing him as a demon. Ultimately, it was decided that the most reliable method was to rely on themselves, and the concocted a plan to place them in key areas.

Woomera decided that she might know someone who would be better suited to offering advice on the matter than herself, and without ceremony or farewell, vanished. In her place was the enigmatic oracle Calder whom the party had met on the road. Through his own account of dealing with Limepox, and his unique communion with higher powers, he was able to clarify some lingering details. The possibility of preventing post mortem magical investigation was suggested by trapping the soul of Tumnus in the snare generated by the local Rentyllian manor.

It was finally decided that the night following Tumnus Willem’s rally, they would infiltrate his manor. Ako would use her magical abilities to shroud herself Kailen, and Asmund in invisibility to enter the mansion. Koapani, Koorie, and Mary (who would be inhabiting the body of her kiwi familiar) would lie in wait upon the rooftop in the likely event things did not go according to plan and their assistance was required. Nogaro would fly over the park silently, well out of distance for torchlight and alliance eyes unaccustomed to flying trespassers.

WIth a plan finally set in place, Mary and Koorie tailored their spells, Koapani and Kailen checked their equipment once again, and Asmund covertly informed Amora of their time table. In case it was necessary, they also made ready their caravan for a hasty exit from town.

The night of their infiltration, only two weeks remained until the peace summit.

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Session 2.20
In Which Horror is Realized

All signs of nefarious intent recently had led the adventurers to believe that Tumnus Willem was planning something, but they still didn’t know what. His manor near the heart of town was anything but subtle The mansion itself had glass mosaics on every floor, the warehouse for feed animals was the largest in the city, and the grounds were patrolled by numerous guard patrols. Although must of the expansive lawn had been made open to the public as a lavish park, the area near his estate was notably fenced off. Such security measures are common for the extravagantly wealthy, and utterly useless against the improvised machinations of adventurers.

Kailen linked his sight to that of his hawk and flew in wide circles about the grounds. Noting the routes of guards, and the lay of the land. He also witnessed workers stock piling carts and supplies as though a large shipment of animals were expected to be taking place soon. Mary meanwhile commanded a magical set of insect spies to infiltrate the grounds and deliver unto her a detailed picture of the internal architecture. Having spied to their satisfaction, the two headed back to the Lazy Lizard to add to Asmund’s information gleaned during his infiltration and see if they could get a clearer picture of what was going on.

Over a dinner of local pork, the party collected their thoughts regarding Tumnus Willem. He appeared to be working on a time table centered around an upcoming food shipment but as the most successful food merchant, that itself wasn’t surprising. He was working hard to gain public favor so that he might be chosen to fill the empty seat on the admiralty council, and apparently had begun to make a concerted effort to improve his public image starting roughly ten years ago.

Ako interrupted the discussion to ask if parrots were known to gather on windowsills. Looking outside, they saw several dozen parrots looking into the tavern, and keen eyes noted a particular blurriness about some of them. Once they retired to a private room, four parrots flew in, and refocused their image into that of a small gnome child with colorful feathers in place of hair. The group immediately knew this was another manifestation of the enigmatic people to which Nanakia belonged down in Kotahitanga. The parrot child, like his southern counterpart, seemed able to gather from public knowledge at will. He explained to them that Tumnus had lost a son roughly a decade ago to a wasting contagious plague, and that Tumnus hated the Mahi Tahi for denying his son the medicine needed to survive. Apparently, his major focus as part of his campaign had been the benefit of opening trade routes with them to the south.

At first, they had written off his opening trade routes with the assumption that base greed motivated him. Now that they realized the depth of his hatred, a sinking feeling began to creep into their sensation. Going over what Asmund saw again, Mary came to a paralyzing realization. Tumnus Willem planned to introduce Limepox to the MahiTahi capital via his pig industry, the very same plague that had brought her and Asmund to death’s doorstep. Suddenly they had lost their appetite for the pork dinner. Resolving to stop his plans before the peace summit between the two races, they retired to bed (or in Mary’s case the workbench) to let the revelation sink in.

Koorie magically sent word to his mate that he would appreciate some more information about te GreenRot as it was known to him, and requested that she join him in Trinity Bay. Mary sent word to Julius, the doctor that had cared for her and the others during the last outbreak, but received a limited response.

The following morning, a courtesan from the silk ribbon arrived to deliver what information Amora had gathered. Thanks to some gentle magical persuasions, the party was left alone in the Lazy Lizard when Amora herself removed her disguise. She disgustedly tossed the garnet wrapped in a silk pouch onto the table and bade the party keep it far from her. She summarized that the garnet was infact a scale from a hideous devil, that ever so gently influenced the wants and desires of the wearer. The devils she had infrequent contact with desired the elimination of Tumnus as his plans would avert their ultimate goal: total war. The Maggot King and his court were placing agents meticulously to drive the Alliance and Mahi Tahi to each other’s throats. It was their gentle influence through the garnet on Dulcan’s ring that had encouraged him to enter the race for admiralty chair. If they removed the ring before the vote, the potential of an experienced voice of travel and peace in the race might be lost. But if they didn’t stop the influence once he was elected, the devils would have a powerful tool.

But, now that they had a piece of their home plane, the party could fight the devils on their home ground, effectively routing the invasion before it begins. Otherwise, as the conflict grows in magnitude, the draw between his demiplane and this one would grow eventually allowing he and his entourage to arrive en masse. In order to transport themselves to that wicked place, they would need to find a location suffused in violence, bloodshed, and base hatred to strengthen the link enough to form a portal.

Amora was taken aback when a towering Wyvaran slammed open the door to the Lazy Lizard. Seeing Koorie’s recognition, she used this as an excuse to excuse herself from the meeting. Woomera verified the stories Mary and Asmund told of Limepox, and flatly shed light on the source of Tumnus Willem’s hatred. A Mahi Tahi raiding party had killed the messenger bearing the medicine, as they needed it for an outbreak in their village. She and her friends had been responsible for the decision to split the medicine, taking some to each group, ensuring that neither side would lose all the afflicted members. Feeling obligated to assist as a result of that decision, Woomera elected to stay in Trinity Bay with Koorie to lend her assistance.

10 days remained until the election of the open admiralty chair, and one week later was marked as the historic meeting between the Mahi Tahi and the Alliance.

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Session 2.19
In Which Entry is Sudden and Forceful

Having concluded that Amora was at the center of the conspiracy in Trinity Bay, the group resolved to act immediately before she had a chance to prepare for their arrival. Kailen was placed on a roof with a view into the suite about the Scarlet ribbon, with his gun trained on a large ornate window inward. The rest of the party used magic, cunning, and wings to scale the side of the building and smash in the window to a very surprised Amora and one young woman chained to the wall.

Before she could get a word out, Koorie and Mary lashed out with oppressive magics, thwarting her attempt to flee the intrusion. She was able to get out a desperate plea to stop the assault and listen, and after ensuring no more magical tricks were up her sleeve with the addition of more magical curses, They allowed her to speak, although it was clear that they were unlikely to believe anything she said. Kailen continued to observe the area from the nearby rooftop, noting the passerby’s on the street had not yet caught on.

Amora claimed not to have any connection to Dulcan Amner outside his occasional visits to her establishment, and that she was under the impression the garnet she wore was one of a kind. Asmund confiscated it, resisting the sudden urge to wear it for himself. Under their inspection, the party found that Amora was more of a mundane schemer than a devilish conspirator. She did admit to having occasional contacts with the court of the Maggot king, but that the only thing they had asked in return for the trinket was to use her influence against Tumnus Willem.

Knowing the pull that Amora had with the local street gangs, the party did concede that since her involvement the violence had steadily decreased. In return for her life, she agreed to leverage her considerable network to gather more information for the party. In a shocking turn of events, not only did they relieve her of the magical confines placed on her, they even returned the mystical garnet. As Kailen’s hawk arrived to inform them that the guards below had noticed the intrusion, they made a hasty getaway.

When they got back to the Lazy Lizard, they began putting their heads together untangling the twisted web of conspiracy in town, but couldn’t shake the feeling they were still missing something.

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Session 2.18
In Which Danger is Accepted

The next morning, the party convened about the breakfast table to discuss their adventure in the fighting pit. Seated in the corner of the Lazy Lizard was a man bearing the manner and attire of the nomads from the western plains. After brief introductions, they discovered this man was Deemus, an emissary in the temporary service to Korvo, the dragon they’d met and assisted earlier. He dispensed to the group their individual rewards for their service, explaining what each does, then departed.

Almost everyone in town was talking about the upcoming election for the open seat on the Admiralty Board, and the party was quickly realizing that they might have to discreetly involve themselves in the outcome. They split up to try and get meetings with both the guard captain and retired whistler running for the office.

Asmund’s meeting with the guard captain gave him the impression that she was inexperienced in politics, and focused much more on safety and security of her people. For better or worse, he also noted that she was defiantly confident, and unwilling to allow someone else to dictate her actions.

Ako, Koapani, Koorie and Kailen meanwhile ventured to the whistler college to meet Dulcan Amner and speak to him. They found a relaxed man surrounded by countless maps who seemed to be a considerate and patient sort. Ako’s suspicions however caused her to discreetly scan the area with magic and reveal a garnet ring on his finger glowing with identical auras to the choker worn by Amora, the self styled queen of lies. This raised many concerns among those present, and they made a quick return to the Lazy Lizard to discuss what they learned.

On their way back, Kailen stopped to buy some specialized oil to silence firearms, and when he explained what purpose it had, gave one vial to Nogaro for study. Kailen noticed that Nogaro’s hand had fresh bullet wounds on them already healing, but declined to comment at the time as the wyvaran seemed quite excited to learn more of something that could drown the din of a firearm.

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Session 2.17
In Which There is an Upset

Having determined the location of the illicit fighting arena’s next event, the party planned to infiltrate by playing into Bristis’ mistaken guess that they were there to fight other slaves. Kailen admitted that a life of mud and sun outside the city walls left him ill equipped to maintain a convincing lie during the event, so Mary was chosen as the false sponsor for the natives.

The crowd was finding their seats and placing their opening bets when Koapani stepped into the ring. The energetic announcer immediately branded this unnamed fighter BoneLord and set about fabricating a bloody history to upsell the impending violence. Koapani’s first bout was against a vishkanya bearing minimal criminal brands, and while he was a competent scrapper, he stood no chance against the expectant Warchief.

While the fights were going on, Asmund donned a street thug disguise and moved through the crowd seeing but unseen. He had placed an anonymous invitation from “a like minded thinker” to the local philanthropist Tumnus Willem. As he kept watch of the marked meeting seat, he was dismayed to see a man wearing the regalia of the local Franks gang show to the meeting in the merchant’s stead. Not wanting to reveal himself, he secretly placed a note in the thug’s jacket regarding future formalities.

Seeing an opportunity to up the stakes, Mary bragged of the battle skill and combat prowess of her “slaves” and added Nogaro to Koapani’s side in a crowd favorite battle pitting the two of them against three arena pit fighters. Guessing that none of the simpleton onlookers were fluent in Mahi-Tahi language, they spoke loudly to one another, with the announcer proclaiming to the crowd mistakenly that they were visciously insulting one another. Most of the fighters were either exiles from Kotahitanga, or wanderers who were captured and held against their will. Despite the number advantage, they fell to the claws and club either forcefully or for show in quick order.

The crowd was now quite enamored with the violent newcomers, and Kailen bragged to Bristis that not even the combatants in the title fight stood a chance. With enough goading, a weathered dwarf rippling with muscle agreed to prove him wrong. Racing to the bookie before it started, Mary placed a significant portion of her savings on Koapani’s fight, knowing she was gutted if he did not win.

The salty Dwarf stood opposite Koapani in the arena and at the sound of the bell Koapani raced toward him. A resounding blow from his great club landed on the dwarf’s shoulder and would have felled any lesser foe. The dwarf merely spat in derision, clenched his fist, and drove a single thundering blow into Koapani’s chest. For just a split second, his heart stopped, and Koapani’s vision began to blur and fade. However, something deeps inside him reached for a reserve of willpower, and he fought back to clearmindedness. Knowing he likely could not endure a second blow like that, he put everything he could into a brutal overhand swing that came crashing down on the dwarf’s skull. For a moment, the dwarf stood resolute. But he wavered and collapsed after the blow to the shock and awe of the crowd.

Realizing the upset they had engineered, the group made to collect their winnings and hastily retreat from the arena. Bristis made again an offer to Kailen and his friends to join him in Goldrush to officially be inducted into the Iron Pioneers. Given their money and the disgraceful performance of the other slaves, As they left, they purchased as many Mahi Tahi as they could to accompany them out of servitude.

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