Characters: Ariel, Conscience, Maynard, Tesla
Wow, this fellow is a live one! He seemed quite happy yesterday to pay the party 10GP a day (each!) to guide his group to Jasper, which is a good 10 day journey, and then the same rate to wait for them to finish their business and then bring them back to Zug. Each of the party will likely clear enough money to drink the finest ale for a month. This must be some important mission they are on.
As the sun rises above the mountains, the entire group mounts camels for their 10 day journey to the south. The party is quite confident in their ability to guide and protect these 4 officials (like they will be any help in a fight!). They have extra water and camel feed on the pack camel, their weapons and armor are in tip top shape, and they've made this journey a number of times. This is going to be easy money!
As the sun nears the horizon, they stop at one of the traditional camping spots along the road and set up camp.
The party of officials from Dorn consists of Vice Chancellor Roland, Assistant to the Vice Chancellor Stefan, Court scribe Samir, and one servant Aldo who will sets up their tent and serves meals.
Picking their watches, the party readies for the evening as the officials settle into their tents for a good night's sleep.
A few hours after dark, Conscience notices that there is a group a humanoids charging into the camp so she wakes the party. Just as the party readies itself, the raiders attack. Swords swipe and magic erupts as the battle wages on. Conscience hews through creatures with her longsword, Tesla deftly slips behind to deal deadly strikes, Maynard calls upon the arcane powers to scorch the foes, and Ariel weaves through the battle field dealing damage to her enemy as well as healing to her allies. After a few minutes of carnage, the creatures lay strewn around the campsite with the party victorious.
Examining the bodies in the light of a touch reveals that these creatures are orcs! The party has heard of orcs living in the mountains before but has never been attacked by them and is quite surprised to encounter them here along the road. The party had been more worried about wildlife like scorpions or lions or maybe bandits. This turn of events means the party will have to be even more vigilant (and maybe ask for more money for future missions).
They search the bodies and discover 100GP which the split among the four party members. Ariel notices that one of the officials is watching the party pick over the slain. He gives a "nice job" nod and returns to bed.
The party piles the bodies in a nearby ravine and settle back down for the night. The rest of the evening goes without incident.
After an uneventful day of travel, they reach oasis well before dark. As part of their normal routine, they check for wild life in the oasis but find it empty so move into the oasis and begin to set up camp. The sun sets behind a distant mesa on the western horizon (about a day's walk from their camp).
As the party sets up camp, Bob overhears the officials talking inside their tent about how they should approach their mission in Dira and Jasper.
Assistant Stefan: "Your Excellency, I think it would be a good idea to approach the mine owners before we approach the city officials. In that way, we will have the owner's support as a leverage point for our negotiations."
Scribe Samir: "But won't that cause the city officials to become defensive. It might appear to the city officials we are trying to intimidate them."
Vice Chancellor Roland: "I like your idea Stefan. However we should temper it with Samir's concern. We'll discuss first with the mine owners but we won't use that fact unless we need it. If the city officials agree to our terms, then we won't have to play the card. If not, then a little mine owner name dropping might get things moving in the right direction."
Assistant Stefan: "Your Excellency, once again your wisdom shows itself. I'll arrange the meetings with the mine owners as soon as we get into town."
Having reached agreement, the light in the tent goes out as the officials settle into bed. Maynard returns to the party and reveals his discover. The party ponders what it means but decides that it is none of their business. They set watches and turn in for the night.
Well after midnight as Ariel is on watch, out of nowhere leaps some kind of feline creature. Ariel had just switched directions in her walk or the cat would have landed right on her. A scream wakes the party as 3 more cats join the fight. After a few minutes of flying fur and flashing blade, the cats lay dead around the fire. Having ruined their night's sleep, the party patches themselves up and settled down to wait for dawn.
The day goes uneventfully until late in the day. Just after stopping for the evening, the wind begins to picks up and clouds gather. A sandy lightning storm whips up driving sand and debris from the desert toward the party. A few minutes later a group of stormclaw scorpions attacks the party. The battle rages for several minutes with several party members feeling the sting of the scorpions but in the end the party rallied and defeated the enemy.
The party travels through the day without issue and reaches Dira as the sun is setting. The party decides to camp outside town since their room and board is not being paid for by the delegation.
After a day of shopping in town, you sit in The Inn for dinner and a drink. They overhear one of the locals at the table next to them talking about how the road over the pass is getting more dangerous. He heard from a friend of his on the guard that orcs have been attacking travelers on the road over the mountains. The town guard has now patrolling the road as far as the mines so that townsfolk can get to work safely.
Maynard tells the local that they had encountered orcs along the road and asks for more details about the orcs. He learns that the bodies of some travelers were found about a day's walk up the road. The bodies were human and had be stripped of all possessions and left to rot in plain sight beside the road.
As they leave town to return to your camping spot outside camp, they saw the delegation returning to the inn. They are all smiles like their mission here had been a success. The evening goes without incident and the party meets the delegation at The Inn at sunup to continue the journey.
The day goes without incident and they set camp for the evening.
The day goes well and they reach the oasis in the late afternoon. After checking for animals, the party sets camp again and hopes for another uneventful evening. However, just after the sun sets, they notice 3 armed figures heading toward camp and ready themselves for battle.
Ariel, Tesla, and Conscience rush into melee while Maynard stays by the fire to cast spells. This works well for a few minutes when a fourth figure surprises Maynard by attacking him from a different direction.
It takes about everything the party has in terms of stamina, tactical movement, and cunning to defeat the orcs this time. By the end of the battle, everyone is spent including the two healing potions they bought in Dira. Searching the bodies, they find 100GP and a very nice long sword [+1 Frost longsward] that Conscience takes.
Thankfully, the party travels the next few days without any problems and reaches the outskirts of Jasper by the evening of the Eleventh. They again decide to camp outside of town to avoid the cost of an inn.
The next day, they enter Japser and resupply, each buying a healing potion since they turned out to be so useful in the last battle with orcs.
At the end of the day, the party is sitting in a bar having dinner and a drink when a member of the deletion enters, sees them and then crosses over to their table. He asks if the party could meet with the delegation up in their suite. Finishing off the last of their ales, the party rises and follows the scribe to the delegation's suite.
The Vice Chancellor thanks them for coming and offers them seats.
"Would you be interested in earning more money?" he asks.
"Sure. Depending on what it is," says Ariel.
"I'm going to give you some background on our mission and the situation we find ourselves in. As you know, we are from Yura, the capital city of Dorn. We were asked to come and aid the city of Jasper in a problem they are having with a new Thieves Guild in Jasper. This new guild is based in Yura and I have been dealing with these characters for some time now back in Dorn. It seems that one of the leaders of the guild from Yura has recently moved to Jasper to set up a new branch. This is causing problems with the existing guild here and causing the town guard many problems. It was hoped that my expertise with this gang would be of aid to the town."
"I see," says Maynard. "Where do we come into this?"
"Well, technically this guild leader has not broken any laws here in Jasper so the local guard cannot do anything about him. However, he has several warrants against him back in Yura and has a 10,000GP bounty. So, if he were to be 'collected' and returned to Yura, both Jasper and Dorn would be better off. The town guard is powerless and we do not have the skills or ability to bring him back to Yura for trial."
"So, you want us to 'collect' the bounty for you?" Tesla asks?
"Well, officially we have no power to arrest him in Jasper but if he were to be found in Zug, we could officially serve the warrant and authorize a bounty payment."
"Where is this person?" Conscience asks.
"There is a walled manor on Third Avenue at the corner with Trade Street. He has taken residence there. He is quite a distinctive individual with long jet black hair and a braided goatee. Much care must be taken with him. He will have to be gagged since he is a spell caster and might conjure either help or injury on his captors. It is also best if no one sees him being taken from the city since a member of the guild would raise the alarm and could easily overpower any who had him captive."
"When does he have to be taken?" Ariel asks.
"As soon as possible. I know that this a lot to request from you and you may need to think about it. All I ask is that you sleep on it and let us know in the morning."
"We will see you at first light and give you our answer," Maynard says.
The party leaves and walks aimlessly through town contemplating what they have just heard. Something does not feel right about this. Ariel is the first to speak her doubts but soon the others agree that this story does not fit with everything they know about the delegation. From the conversation that Maynard overheard, the party was on a mission to get something from both Dira and Jasper not to do something for them. Plus, the bit about the miners does not fit in either. They decided to walk past the house to see if they can figure out exactly who this target is.
They play-act at having a verbal argument about exactly who lives at the house hoping a bystander will correct them. They soon learn that the house is the residence of the President of the Council of Jasper! They then head to another bar to find out about the President of Council. Saying they are considering moving to Jasper, Maynard asks a bar patron about town politics. How well is the town run? Who is in charge? How long? How good a job is he doing? Has he been here long? Etc.
They learn that the current Council President has held his post for 5 years and is a native of Jasper. The town has run well under his leadership including dealing with the thieves guild war and the attack of the metal army. The Council, under his leadership, has just signed an alliance with Geldall for military protection. After these events, several of the council members felt access to a standing army was an important safety move. There had been some disagreement but in the end the Geldall offer had been accepted.
After visiting the pub, the party decided that their best option was to go and visit the Council President and tell him everything they knew. Returning to the target residence and seek an audience with the Council President. Saying that they are from Dorn and have information for the President, they are eventually shown into the house and taken to a large but modestly decorated office. Sitting behind a large wooden desk is a middle-aged man with long black hair and a braided goatee wearing a cotton tunic and an embroidered vest. Two tall and stout men wearing dark gray robes stand several feet behind the man, one on each side of him. They don't have visible weapons but the party is sure they are body guards.
The man introduces himself at J'nat and asks what information the party has for him.
"Well, sir," Ariel begins, "We are from Zug and were hired to escort and guard a group of dignitaries from Dorn to Jasper."
"Oh," interrupts J'nat, "Do you mean Vice Chancellor Roland and his entourage? I met with them this afternoon."
"Yes," says Ariel eying her companions. "Well, this evening the Vice Chancellor talked with us and asked us to help him with a problem. He told us that a new Thieves Guild leader had traveled from Yura to Jasper and had taken up residence in this house. This leader was recruiting members for a rival thieves guild and was causing Jasper a lot of problems. Since the leader had not committed any crimes in Jasper, the Jasper government was unable to do anything about him. However, since there were warrants and a bounty back in Dorn for this individual, if we could help 'collect him' and escort him back to Dorn, we could collect on the bounty, Jasper would be free of the trouble maker, and the Dorn government would have their fugitive."
"I see," J'nat said with the trace of a smile on his face. "So you are here to 'collect' me?"
"Oh, No!" said Ariel. "After a little checking, we determined that this residence was not owned by a newcomer and was in fact your house. Now we are kind of . . ."
"Stuck between that rock and the hard place," J'nat finished with a friendly smile.
"Exactly! We have to give the delegation our answer in the morning," Ariel said.
"I see your problem. It seems to me you have three options: you can just never return to your employers, you can return and say no, or you can return and tell them yes. I think I can add to your story. This delegation came to me with an offer of alliance with Dorn. They talked about the orc threat and suggested that we would be better off under the protection of Dorn. They made their pitch and then I had the pleasure of informing them that we had already made an alliance with Geldall on much better terms."
"How did they take that?" Ariel asked.
"Outwardly they were quite civil but I could tell they were both surprised and annoyed. All afternoon I was visited by mine owners who suggested that Dorn would be a better partner than Geldall. You little tale reveals the extremes they are willing to go to in order to get complete their mission. If I were gone and replaced with a different member who was in their pocket, the council might well reject the Geldall offer and go with Dorn's offer."
"What should we do?" asks Ariel.
"I think you should tell them yes. I think you should come to collect me but instead take the head of the town guard. We might be able to gather evidence on them and convict them of conspiracy to kidnap."
J'nat talked with one of his attendants and the attendant left the room and soon returned with a pair of metal cups. J'nat explained that these items were developed for mine use and allows communication between the two cups. The party should take one and then the President can listen in to what the party is doing. Between that and the eye witness of the head of the town's guard, they should be able to collect the needed evidence. With the plans finalized, the party returns to the camp site out of town and waits for morning.
In the morning, the party returns to the hotel and meets with the delegation. They tell the delegation that they cased the house and feel that they can make the abduction. The delegation tells them that they should abduct the guild leader and take him to a deserted mine northeast of town. They should wait there for several days until the uproar from the guild settles down, then the delegation will meet them and they can all leave for Dorn. The party agrees to make the abduction that very evening.
After midnight, the party sneaks into town to J'nat's house. They attempt to climb the wall surrounding the house. Conscience and Tesla make it on their first attempt but it takes a few more for Maynard and 4 or 5 for Ariel. They move as quietly as they can across the grounds to just below the balcony of J'nat's bedroom. Tesla tosses up a grappling hook and on her second attempt, it catches on the railing of the balcony. Tesla climbs up the rope to the balcony. Conscience slips on her first attempt and falls back to the ground but makes it on her second attempt. Reaching the door of the bedroom, they find Pablo, the head of the town guard sitting on the bed watching them. After tying his hands and gagging him, they lower Pablo to the ground and then climb down themselves (leaving the balcony door open and the grappling hook and rope hanging from the balcony). After more effort, they manage to get Pablo over the wall and themselves out. Holding him like a drunken person, they walk him out of town just missing a town guard patrol. Glad that they don't do this for a living, the party heads for the mine and sets up camp.
They leave Pablo's hands loosely tied so he can quickly release himself. Keeping watch through the day and night, the settle in for what they think will be a long wait for the delegation.
Shortly after midnight when Tesla is on watch, she noticed 4 robed and hooded figures walking in the cave mouth. Sensing that they are not the delegation, the raises the alarm and a full scale battle erupts. There turn out to be 5 thugs trying to deal with the party but then Pablo joins the fray. After a furious battle, 4 of the thugs lay dead and the last one unconscious. Pablo recognizes all of the thugs as local members of the thieves guild. The party decides to swap clothing with the dead thugs and make it look like the assassins were successful but died in the attempt. They then lay in wait for whoever comes to check on them.
In the middle of the night, another group of thugs sneak in. The party, hiding behind rocks at the back of the cave, hear them talking. They thugs see the burned body tied up and gagged in a chair. Their leader walks over and stabs the figure to make sure the target is dead and them they leave. Shortly before dawn, the party hears more noise and sees the servant of the delegation creep into the cave to look around. He nods and smiles and then leaves. Shortly after dawn, they hear voices.
"I don't know why they want us to check on this mine. It has been closes for a good while now but whatever the boss says."
"Yes, at least we don't have to sharpen those picks today."
"Hey, look! There are bodies in here, dead bodies. Let's get out of here!"
After the workers leave, Pablo says that the party should leave. They can stay at his house until this all gets resolved. They travel in the early morning light to Pablo's house on the outskirts of town and Pablo takes his prisoner to the guard house.
After a couple of days, everything is out in the open. Between the overheard conversations through the metal cups, Pablo and the party's testimony, and the physical evidence, the delegation is convicted of conspiracy to kidnap a public official. Having diplomatic immunity, the delegation is deported from Jasper and a letter of formal dispute is sent to the Justice Minister of Dorn.