As dawn broke, Danae came to the party and gave them a handful of magical items, along with 900 gold pieces as their “pay.” Clearly these had been some reserves and resources she’d been holding in reserve.
Stiffly accepting the gifts, the party let her know they would be heading into the city. She told them to get a pass from the quartermaster before attempting to enter the Gap.
The quartermaster, a halfling woman named Benni Longpool who had stood in the Shade, gave them some encouraging words that showed she remembered their service to the Pale, and bid them good luck.
First, they went to the Mason’s Rest in Crafter’s Row to seek put either Bangiziplitizikin the gnome or some word from the Shepherds. Fortunately, they found the Explorationer in the rooms that Kaijo had rented (and now renewed) for several days.
Bangizi seemed delighted to see them, and eager to talk about the deal he’d brokered for them with BevinigiAngapilatini, king of Ganitipantuperan. He revealed that the king had agreed to let the party make use of the Explorationers in return for a promise of future, indefinite reciprocation. After a long pause, and some quiet discussion of gnomish culture, the party agreed.
They talked about where and how the Explorationers could get people into the Palace of Ur. They learned that Thuz’Ur’s bedchamber was well protected, both magically and physically, and that Bangizi was, so far, the only Explorationer who had managed to get inside, and they’d seen the end result of that. He supposed that Thuz’Ur’s private chambers would now be even more well guarded, and he didn’t believe that he could get into that room again anytime soon, certainly not through the Feywild. In response to the big dragonborn’s disgruntlement over this, Bangizi admonished White Guy Joe to calm down and enjoy the advantages that they did enjoy.
Bangizi said that he could probably get 5 or 6 people into the Palace though. He cautioned that there was only one way in (through a portal in a ceiling of some room?), and only one way out (through a latrine) that he knew of. After some lengthy discussion, the party decided that the best use of the Explorationers, for now, was to gather information.
Bangizi joyfully departed, promising to collect for them information about the happenings in the palace, as well as battle plans, troop dispositions, and information about Thuz’Ur’s personal fighting style, abilities, and defenses.
Back in the Mules camp, after returning their City Pass, they met again with a much more sober Captain Chur’Aal.
Chur’Aal was still, well, churlish, but somewhat less so. Kaijo spoke frankly, and revealed a shocking amount of information about what was actually going on. He explained that the party believed there might be more than one “Blood King” in Mokiir, and that the Ix’iil and Astrologers seemed more likely to be connected to an unknown individual than to King Isra’Asiel of Azeth. He revealed to Chur’Aal that Danae and Divinter were allied with the Ix’iil. Somehow, through blunt disclosure and a bit of good luck, it seemed that Kaijo earned Chur’Aal’s trust. Maybe even a modicum of respect?
In any case, it was enough so that Chur’Aal offered to take the remaining Shade on, along with the party, as part of his personal fighting force. He clarified for the party that, while they were technically under Danae’s command within the Mule’s command structure, they worked for him.
They left with Chur’Aal mulling over his new distrust for his mother’s astrologer, Mazzegur, and encouraging the group to keep up the good (for non-tieflings) work.
With Chur’Aal’s blessing, the party returned to the Grey Manse. They met with Ezra and Amanda, and told them pretty much everything, except the identity of the party’s contacts inside the Palace. It took some doing, more to convince Amanda than Ezra, but the two remaining Keepers agreed to try to talk the remaining Shade into joining with Chur’Aal.
The question arose of what to do with/about the Grey Manse in the meantime, and it was suggested that maybe they should invite the haunting spirits of the Manse into the tunnels below to help discourage interlopers if the Shade joined Chur’Aal and the Mules.
The group also went to visit the unfortunate Lander Ebben, who had been imprisoned in one of the Grey Manse’s holding pits for nearly three weeks, quietly (and sometimes loudly) losing his mind ever since he was captured while selling Ix’iil Tonic on the Stalls.
Ebben was clearly degenerating mentally. He raved and ranted about how He had arrived. In the dwarves’ old city. HE had come. He was here. And maybe another here was…also here? Or, there? They’d passed through shadows, and He wanted his toe back, and He was among the dwarven ghosts, and She was helping him, and so was she…
Etc, etc, etc…
And then he started moaning and bleeding from various face-holes.
Ink, Pony, and Thalla eased him to a dreamless sleep with herbs and magic, and the party returned to their camp.
Back at camp, they ate some lunch, and learned that Thuz’Ur had kicked all the Shepherds out of M’ziir. Which…struck everyone as exceptionally foolish. They spent some time among the Mules and denizens of the Pale Quarter, quietly and gently letting it be known that The Shade was still there, beaten but not broken, watching and protecting, recovering and adjusting and looking for opportunities to keep the Pale safe.
Not long after, the party was visited by a tall, somber, nondescript human who introduced himself as Brandon Ebbs, and who was quickly revealed to be a clandestine Shepherds Agent. He’d received a note left by Kaijo at the Mason’s rest letting anyone looking for the PCs know to find them in the Mules’ camp. He spoke about the politics of the situation, and mentioned the Coven, which the party immediately inferred as synonymous with The Astrologers. True or not, it was clear that the Coven was a shadowy group who sought power and influence in Mokiir, and that the Shepherds opposed them.
Shepherd Ebbs seemed disturbed to learn that the party, or at least Kaijo, backed Chur’Aal.
He also suggested that they might best exert pressure on the situation in ways other than the assassination of Thuz’Ur, as, unsurprisingly, there were plenty of people working on that project. But his interest in working with the party was very obviously lessened by their lack of direct support for Lady An’Ikar. Before taking his leave, Ebbs asked Kaijo to step away from the rest of the party, and spoke to them without him.
Shortly after Kaijo returned, carefully not asking what had passed between his crew and the Shepherd, a fairy courier appeared with a note, written in draconic, apparently by Glass, saying that he knew who’d framed him and killed Wease. he asked that they meet him at Wetstone at midnight so he could talk things through with them.
They figured that it was either real, or a trap, and that either way they should go and check it out.
NEWS AND RUMORS
- The Blood King wears a glowing ruby diadem on his brow which enslaves the will of those who look upon it.
- The Blood King of Azeth is actually a changeling posing as the heir to House Azil. The true heir escaped and is behind Aechell’s aggression.
- The Blood King of Azeth is freeing the slaves in the cities he conquers, and is ending the tyrannies of the Elder Bloodlines.
- The Blood King of Azeth has taken D’kath, and Okorian, and his armies will arrive outside M’ziir within the next few days.
- The armies of M’ziir are not likely to be able to withstand more than a day or two of assault by the armies of the Blood King. Thankfully, the armies of Queen Ren’Raatha Az’Ebbezuur should be coming from Darakor any day now.
- The armies of Darakor are never coming. Queen Ren’Raatha has allied with the Blood King already.
- King Thuz’Ur has gone utterly mad, seeing gnomes everywhere, and blaming them for M’ziir’s questionable readiness for war.
- The Gap has a functioning, if rudimentary, gate now.
- King Thuz’Ur has increased the bounty on gnomes to 500 gold pieces
- King Thuz’Ur is executing his family, friends and advisers on a daily basis.
- King Thuz’Ur executed his cousin, Shepherd Aran’Ik, for treason a few days ago, and plans to execute Aran’Ik’s sister, An’Ikar Az’Guzuur.
- The Ikar family has fled M’ziir.
- Edur Bennigan, king of New Cormorell, has been executed by Aechelleth, who, through some unknown magic, projected the king’s death into the sky for all in the Blessed Lands to see.
- The God King of War, Aechelleth, is behind the Blood King’s success.
- The Blood King is Aechelleth in disguise.
- The hills and mines all along the Gandoran range are overrun with goblinoids and giants.
- The late Queen Amra’Ur’s family, the Ebbezuurs of Darakor are pretty unhappy about her being executed.
- King Thuz’Ur has shut M’ziir to all trade from Azeth, D’kath, and Okorian. The Shepherds’ Guild is not pleased
- The Pale Quarter is being converted to a defensive bulwark, with an earthen rampart running north to south along it’s eastern edge.
- Sheraz’Aal Az’Zoran, lady of L’ekar and mother to Chur’Aal Az’Guzuur is marching her troops towards M’ziir to support Thuz’Ur and resist the Blood King.
- Lady Sheraz’Aal has summoned aid from her family in Shek’zur to aid in the battle for (or against) the Blood King.
- Lady Sheraz’Aal still hates Okori’s (people from Okorian) 21 years after her husband’s death in a skirmish over territory, and will never join the Blood King so long as he is allied with that city.
- Palers who did not enlist in the Mules and who aren’t otherwise possessed of useful skills are being made slaves.
- The Ix’iil are actually running the Mules
- There has been a huge uptick in goblinoid raids in the Westcrook and Northcrook, outside M’ziir. The Blood King is implicated.
- The Shepherds are planning a coup, having decided that all the nobility of Mokiir is corrupt (in a bad way).
- The Shepherds have increased recruiting.
- King Thuz’Ur’s Court Astrologer, Martesse, has prophesied disaster for M’ziir, and all of Mokiir, should Isra’Asiel take the throne.
- The Blood King has slain the Court Astrologers in Azeth, D’kath, and Okorian.
- Several members of the former street gang The Shade are now working for Lady An’Ikar Az’Guzuur
- Thuz’Ur will wed the widow Ran’Imil, hated sister-in-law of Lady An’ikar. Ran’Imil will be Thuz’Ur’s fifth wife.