Having two days to kill before their mission began, they decided to do some shopping. The duke told them of a new magic item shop that had just opened its doors in the mercantile sector, and suggested they have a look, so they did just that. However, they were being watched.
Bran Ioreth Had been hired by the duke to shadow the party for the next two days. The duke seemed to think something was amiss in the party, and wanted to check it out. Bran was to try to discover any strange or unlawful activities the party may be involved in.
However, the bumbling Bran was spotted by Alcuin while he was following them. All Alcuin saw was a humanoid creature with a brown cloak fling itself into an alley, but he knew something was up. Upon arriving at the magic item shop, Bran was spotted in the alley across the street. After a quick conversation with the proprietor they were promptly let out the back door, where they separated to try to catch the man.
Grogborn and Alcuin (now Grogborn’s double) went out to create a distraction, acting drunk and bumbling, though Grogborn wasn’t completely acting. At the same time Tau and Vril tried to circle their enemy. However, Bran saw them coming and ran for it, making an almost clean escape, as Alcuin got a good look at him. Tau sent his eagle to find him, and magically conversed with it, telling it to “bomb” Bran as best it could. The did the best it could, flying half way accross the city and dropped a milky white steamer directly into Bran’s open mouth from 450 feet up. He immediately wretched and returned to his room at the barracks to clean his mouth to the best of his ability.
Being temporarily free from prying eyes, the party entered the magic shop again to finish shopping.
After they left the shop, they parted ways for the evening. Tau went to pray outside the city. His prayers mainly consisted of compliments to himself and his god, and general statements of how he is only slightly less awesome when compared. Alcuin went to the the mage’s guild (which was forced to be situated in a terrible part of town with little room) and gave a sermon in Boccob’s name. All present enjoyed it, and he insisted the proceeds go to improving the tower once it was completed. after this he went to barracks, where the duke gave them their own room near the sergeants (their approximate rank bestowed by the duke), to sleep. And, Grogborn and Vril went to a tavern. Again.
While in the tavern, Vril tried to steal the Grogborn’s coin purse, but failed miserably and was thrown out on her backside and banned from the establishment. She waited outside for Grogborn. When he finally exited he was spattered with his own vomit, and on the way to the barracks he soiled himself. When they arrived he passed out in the doorway and started to stink the place up. Tau, Alcuin and Vril tossed him out into the courtyard, and Vril openly contemplated urinating on him for good measure.
The next day Grogborn went to wash off in a fountain somewhere (seeing as the city had no baths). Upon finding a nice old fountain coming from the side of a nobles home, he Stripped down and washed himself and his gear off the best he could. Three guards were called, who almost pulled him out, but after smelling him they dunked him a few times, dragged him out of the water and told him not to do it again. All the while Vril watched and waited.
Alcuin went off to the wizards tower again to hold another sermon and remain in attendance for any devotees who would seek him.
Tau went to pray with yet another boastful speech and was followed by Bran in the shadows. He knew someone was their and so he sent out his eagle with a note to find Vril and Grogborn (who was drying himself off) and ask for their help. They hurried out to his position, but missed Bran’s hiding place. He then slunk off into the shadows of the city when they weren’t looking. Since he was alone again, Tau sent the others off with thanks, then continued to pray, all the while his personal theme music played in his head.
Vril and Grogborn returned to the city, and the nearest tavern, to spend the rest of the day.
Bran however, went to find the duke. He reported what he saw and said that he’d been made twice already. The duke said to stop following them and instead join them in the morning to travel out to the North with a wagon. He told him to arrive an hour after first light, and he would give instructions then.
The party regrouped in the evening and headed out to meet the duke in the morning. Outside the North gate of town were two wagons filled with barrels and chests, the duke, and 5 men, one of whom seemed VERY familiar to Alcuin (Bran). Duke informaed them all that this mission was very important, and they must follow orders. They and Bran were to escort the four men North and protect them from all dangers. Until they arrive back in town they are to follow the instructions of the Taskmaster. Most importantly, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES were they to look inside the any of the chests or barrels. If they want they would also be given horses to ride for the duration of the trip. Only Alcuin and Tau consented, as Vril Bran and Grogborn knew little to nothing of riding.
On the second day of the trip North they were assaulted by for riders with lances. In the fight the riders started to lose quickly, so they tried to light the carts aflame with flaming crossbow bolts, but after the fight the fire was successfully dowsed, but just barely. Injuries included the Taskmaster, one horse, Gogrborn and Bran, but not seriously. Their opponents faired much worse. Two dead, two unconscious. They brought the bound riders with them for questioning the next day.
At about noon the next day they arrived at a large crack in the ground spanning a few miles at least. Together they set up a man powered crane on the edge and lowered all the heavy barrels and very light chests into the crack. The party and one other man were left at the surface. While they waited they decided to question the riders.
Alcuin got a good look at each, then he and Tau brought them both into the forest in turn and questioned them by turning into the other and reviving the one they brought with. Each time he claimed to have no memory of anything, and to of just woken up bound. Seeing the obvious danger he escaped with the other into the woods.
From the first man (Ted) he learned that the other surviving rider was the leader of the group, and that they were simple raiders who had gotten lucky in finding this nice ripe group of merchants, but got beat by the guards. Also, a few weeks back they were brought by their leader to a cave deep in the forest. The leader was the only one allowed in, and he said nothing of what happened inside. Guarding the mouth of the cave were two elves dressed in the same cloaks as those Meret and his friends wore. Having no more use for this man Alcuin tried to knock him out, but killed him by accident.
During the second inquisition Tau hid behind a tree, holding back laughter.From the second of the riders he learned that they were hired by someone in that cave who stayed hidden behind a large veil and had a deep, strange voice. He was instructed to not tell his men, and just to attack as soon as he saw it. Now they will be hunted and so must flee. This one Alcuin successfuly knocked out, but on bringing him back to the camp, Vril killed him when no one was looking.
Alcuin felt really bad about the first one however, and dug him a shallow grave. The second one they just rolled of they edge of the crack.
After a time the Taskmaster and the others emerged from the crevice with heavy chests, but no barrels. They loaded up the chests, prepared to leave, and then the Taskmaster returned down the hole with a lit torch. He returned without it and led the party away at full speed. As they road there was a HUGE explosion from the crack. Rocks, dirt and one bloodied finger rained down on them for several seconds and through it all the Taskmaster and his men rode in silence.
By the time they had settled down for the night Bran already had a plan for finding out what was in the chests. He wanted to wake up Vril, sneak over and simply unlock it during his sentry shift in the night. After talking a little away from the others, Vril readily agreed to the idea. However, when they slipped off to the chests that evening, Vril had no thief tools and simply couldn’t pick the lock. Bran had to switch plans, but he decided to leave Vril out of the new plan.
The new plan was to wake Tau and Alcuin in the night, have Alcuin cast silence, Tau shoot the lock off a chest, and Alcuin cast mending after they look inside. Their plan went very smoothly, and when they opened up a chest and found it was filled to the brim with ruby, sapphires, platinum pieces and gold pieces. Bran grabbed ten pieces of platinum and ten rubys, and Alcuin took a fair amount himself, but after about 30 seconds there was a soft red light that kept blinking beneath the coins. Suspecting a noise alarm Alcuin replaced his spoils, but Bran didn’t. They all hurried back to their beds just before the silence spell dissipated, but once it did a shrill sound like a choking duck started to come from inside the chest that was opened. The taskmaster jumped to his feet, ax in hand but the other men were a little slower to rise. The taskmaster ran up to the chests, opened the one that was triggered, and knew that someone had to have gotten in. He turned redfaced to the guards and and demanded “Who did it? Who opened the chest?”
All denied the claim, so he had no choice but to search them all. First they searched Tau, and while they were doing so, Bran tried to discreetly toss the rubies and platinum he took onto a bedroll for later collection. Sadly, He was far to obvious about it and was seen be all. Bran tried to talk his way out of it by claiming to have been sent by the duke, which he was, because the party was not fully trustworthy yet. He even went as far as to reveil that it was he who followed the party around town and got pooped on. The duke said not to trust ANYBODY, so he checked thed chests. Tau even tried to back him up, but that just made the Taskmaster even more suspiscious as Bran didn’t convince him. They immediately stripped Bran of his weapons, armour and items then bound him to one of the wagon wheels. Then, because Tau was now untrustworthy, they stripped him of his gear aswell and tied him to a wheel on the other wagon. “Now” the Taskmaster asked Bran “was there anyone else whop helped you? give them up and you may get a lighter sentence.” But Bran denied anyone elses involvement. Alucin came in with a good idea; he would prepare zone of truth in the morning for questioning. For the rest of the night the Taskmaster and one other teamster stayed up with torches lit around the parimetre to watch for any more treachery.
In the morning the two captives were brought together and Alcuin cast zone of truth, but behind the captives, not on them. The Taskmaster then began to ask test questions to Bran to make sure he was under the spells affects. Bran was forced to admit a few embarrasing stories about his use, mainly about his incapability to satisfy his first time, which seemed to convince the Taskmaster that he was under the spell’s effects. Bran admitted to doing the deed himself with no help from the others, but said he was doing so because hes wweas told by the duke not to trust ANYBODY and thought this may be what he meant. He asked Tau some of the same questions, in which he denied involvement.
The Taskmaster had Bran tied up and for the rest of the trip he was rode in the carts underwatch of the Teamsters. The sane went for Tau but he was not tied up, nor given back his gear.
Upon their arrival in Visica the Taskmaster explained what happened to the duke, who promptly returned Tau’s gear and had Bran hauled off to the dungeons despite Tau’s suggestion that he should be released or at least have a reduced punishment. The duke told them to get some sleep and return to him in the morning and he would figure out what to do with Bran.
When they arrived at the townhall in the mroning the duke offered them a proposition. “I’ll let Ioreth go on one condition, that he is under the watchful eye of a trustworthy person. Tau, I offer him to you. I am willing to insure that he must remain close to you at all times upon entering a city and must obey the areas wirtten laws, but you can order him to do otherwise if you so deem necessary. This will last for a period of one year. If he fails to do this it will mean his life. He will be your responsability. Do you accept?” After some thought, the Tau and the party came to the conclusion that this was a good idea, and Tau accepted. “Good! I will have Bran fitted with a snugly fitting magical collar that will ensure that he applies to certain rules. The rules are simple. First of all, if he manages to remove the collar early or clearly tries to do so he dies. The only way to remove the collar is if I say a specific phrase in his presence. If for any reason he is more than 100 feet away from you while in or within a mle of a city the collar will start to hum softly and become very uncomfortable. If this continues for more than a minute he dies. If he is in a city and breaks any of the written laws of the city, unless his own immediate safety or that of others is clearly at risk he dies. He must obey all of your orders to the best of his ability unless they break a law of the current city you are in or the stipulations of the collar’s magic. He still has full descretion as to how he completes the objectives you give him, but he must do it. If you die for any reason then he must return here with your remains so that I can decide how to proceed. Once you are both one mile or more outside a city the size of a small town or larger he is no longer subject to the collar’s effects. These effects come back into affect as soon as he is within a mile from a city. Remember, this is to last exactly a year from now, so come back and I’ll take the collar off.” At this point he asks the party to wait here a few minutes. He goes off to Bran’s cell with a few guards, places a strangelooking collar about his enck, says a few phrases in a language Bran doesn’t understand and brings him up to the rest of the party. “He’s all yours now, but remember, he is no slave, but a subordiante.”
The duke sat down on his throne and said “Before you leave I do have some work for you. In a few days I’ll contact you and you’ll be going on a mission for me. Until then I could use a little help with some things around the city. You don’t have to do these things, but if you have time it’d be much appreciated, and I’ll pay you for your trouble.” He then handed the party a list of odd jobs that needed doing, which consisted of:
-Raising the morale of the guards, as it it currently quite low.
-Dealing with some roughousing mercenaries that are bored with just guard duty. It’s causing trouble all around the city, but mainly the taverns.
-Aiding the mill workers with broken machinery. Nampest, a gnome that usually keeps the gear in check for some reason refuses to come and do so now.
-Towers 2 and 3 which are currently under construction seem to be under the assault of saboteurs. Every day the workers come back to find that during the night someone has been undoing what they have built. Tools are stolen, walls torn down, traps set, and all of this without the guards noticing.
-Workers around the city are having trouble keeping up with the construction schedules, possibly due to their low morale. find out what is bothering them, fix it if possible and report back to the duke.
-Trade negotiations with the guild masters are not progressing in the least. The duke needs a fresh perspective to settle the disputes.
-The old woman that used to be the caretaker of the hall of records has passed away and they need complete refiling or a replacement caretaker. No one can currently figure out her system and over the weeks it has fallen into complete disarray.
The party decided to first deal with the low morale for the guards by organizing some sort of show. Vril immediately put for the suggestions that she could do an erotic strip show for the guards, and all seemed to agree to the idea. They talked to some higher rank officers who agreed to let them use the guards mess/gathering hall for the show, and even ofered to get chairs and tables organized around the slightly undersized stage at one side of the room. The party aquired a pole which they attatched firmly to the center of the stage. Grogborn even agrred to be the bouncer incase some of the guards got a little to excited and tried to rush the stage. They even managed to get a few minstrels to play during the show (did you? I think you did but its been to long).
A few hours later they had managed to get most of the off-duty guards into the hall, none of whom knew what was about to happen. Then, when all was ready Tau walked out onto the stage with Alcuin announcing him. He deliverd a short speech detailing that this was organized purely for their benefit by the duke (is this what Tau said? I can’t remember. Someone please redo this portion if needed.) and he sends his regards. Then out came Vril.
The music played and as Vril strutted her stuff uo to the verticle pole. Then she began stripping and teasing her audience as theuy roared compliments, catcalls, and overall approvement. She climbed and swung slid on the pole, as well as did several nude cartwheels without using her hands and other fairly impressive tumbling feats. A few guards tried to get onstage but Gorgborn put them in their place, in a quite violent and pleasing manner.
When the show was done and Vril left the stage The duke, having heard about their plan walked out onto the stage and began his own short speech. He hoped they enjoyed the show, he just wished the rest of the poor boys on duty could have seen this. This was all just to show them how much he appreciated their hard work, and then as if to seal the deal he waved a hand and serving women brought out flagons of ale and gave each soldier a tall cold mug, from the duke himself of course.
The duke thanked them for doing this and asked them to forgive his intrusion, but he saw it as a great opportunity to improve his standing in the eyes of his men. He handed each a sack of gold as payment and hoped they’d do as well in all their endevours for him.