Thanks Sean for the write up!
Following the battle Amalia, Morwen, Ulrich and Verity begin to check the room for any clues or objects of use. A thorough search reveals no new clues but a wealth of gold, a spell book, scrolls and potions for later consideration. By the time the search is concluded, Aran and Ford return from the upward passage to report that a single set of bloody footprints led out of smuggler’s cove and back towards town.
The decision is quickly made to abandon the room full of old and new corpses. Before, departing, Verity drew on her divine connection to heal many of the wounds that the cultists and golem had inflicted. As the group entered the tunnel, Verity and Amalia made an effort to follow the tracks of the bloody footprints which showed no deviation before reaching the cave mouth. The party resolved to mark this spot to remember the entrance to smugglers cove before trailing the lone set of tracks back towards the city. While walking, Ford pondered aloud why the cultists were there and how only one person escaped. Further recollection led him to identify most of the fallen bodies that were divested of their hand and eye to have been sailors, some of which he remembered from brief encounters on the ship Excelsior. The others found this most puzzling as well and speculated at why the cultists were seemingly awaiting them. Almost a mile out, the no longer bloody footprints led to the road and it was assumed that the bearer headed into the city. While walking, Aran began to fiddle with the robe he pulled out of the cove and discovered that one of its many patches detached and became a lantern. The issue of the apparently magical robe distracted the weary travelers until the city gate was reached.
Verityquestioned the gate guard for information on bloody travelers entering in the recent past. The guard was naturally put on guard by this line of questioning. And, it took pointed name dropping from Verity to assuage his reticence to help. In the end he agreed to send the officer that would have been on duty to the temple if he could be of any use to identify persons that might be relevant.
Once the brief discussion was concluded, the guards pointedly took note of the citizenship of Morwen, Ulrich and Verity. The others were informed that it cost a gold to enter the city each time you desired entrance. Aran and Amalia begrudgingly paid for their entry while Ford nervously excused himself further down the length of the wall, making promises to meet up with the others in town. The foolishness of paying for entry over and over rankled him enough to inspire a foolish excursion out of the sight of the guards. One ethereal jaunt later saw him inside the city on an unknown street, slightly worse for wear.
Inside the city Aran broke from the group to make a series of visits to shops. The shield from the former battle with the vampires was sold, to be split. And, a small negotiation with the woman in the Curio Shop identified his robe as holding many useful items in its patches. After making the rounds at other stores, Aran returned to the shop to negotiate a pair of gloves which would increase his dexterity for a sum of money and a promise of a new line of spell infused bread which would put potions to shame.
Morwen dropped off several potion ingredients with Lysander and went to see her friend Niac to look over the locked spell book she had acquired. Niac pointedly commented that he did not know how to open locks without keys. After an embarrassed moment, Morwen had an open spell book for him to look over. He identified several spells but also commented on the very strange stories writ between the passages of magic. One, he claimed was a prophesy identical to the one they had found in the book of vile darkness. These dark tales repeatedly referenced the shadow that would taint the land and the dragon which would save the world. But, also hinted at a more secret darkness yet veiled. After this unsettling exchange, Morwen gathered her things to show her friends the book.
Amalia and Verity walked to the temple of Pelor where Verity sequestered herself in her rooms. Amalia waited for her friends to re-gather at the temple and when Ford finally made his way to Pelor’s house, they both plied the acolytes for additional healing to refresh them fully. The acolytes did not ask payment but instead preached the word of Pelor to them in a different kind of payment. Ford and Amalia took a brief trip out of the temple to retrieve bottled drinks and light Amalia’s pipe. They drank and smoked in the currently unused chapel in a rebellious irreverent display.
Shortly after they returned, Morwen entered and produced her new spell book. She suggested they take a look at it as there were several languages that she hadn’t sussed out. She suggested that Ford as a traveled man might know one or more languages in the text. He traded her beer for book and began to look it over. While Morwen looked for her own healing from the temple, Ford translated several more cryptic prophecies like the one she had uncovered with Niac. Ford read the foreboding text in a shaky voice and suggested they address the others with this concern as soon as possible.
The keepers of the temple flatly refused to rouse Verity from prayer to speak to Amalia, Ford and Morwenbut agreed to take a message to her as soon as she was available. Ford, being most concerned with the dire prophecies conveyed his surprisingly scary insistence that they deliver the message discreetly. That done, they all retired to the Raven to await everyone gathering.
The group made themselves comfortable in the taproom while Aran returned to begin his cooking experiment in the back. Amalia continued to fight her lungs with her pipe while Morwen keenly observed Ford’s odd activity. Ford took up a seat at the hearth and began to play and sing in an odd fashion alternating between the lyrics of songs and the incantations of his magic in an attempt to set new spells to old songs.
Once everyone had had their fill of their leisure activities the room had emptied and the door closed for the night. Aran returned to the taproom and Morwenasked if he knew the language in the last untranslated passage of the book. He, using the guidance of his faith, read the book and filled the others in on the final passage. It spoke of a false book which would be conquered and that while that would pass, the true book would seek to control the dragon and savior for itself. The wake of speculation began to froth over what this new development could mean but was interrupted by the door slamming open and a chill evening wind blowing in.
A red clad unshod Hoskin entered the Silver Raven, his left hand tucked into his right armpit, his head hung low, his hair filthy and matted hanging over his face. His right hand dropped a bag on the floor, spilling parcels on the inn’s wooden boards and went to cradle the stump of his left hand. He turned his blood matted face to the startled friends – the hair matted down his face mingled in blood from his left eye socket, the eye gone. Aran barely made it to catch the man as he collapsed. Aran carried the unconscious Hoskin upstairs to attempt to heal him, while Amalia and Morwenset about securing the inn. Ford informed the staff before scooping up the bag, noticing as he did that each parcel had the names of different members of their group scrawled on the wrapped parcels. Hoskin although healing, did not wake from Aran’s ministrations. The party settled in to wait, watch and worry.