The Dracholt party returns two of the lost seals to Alpharius before following a note left on one of the flyers about town.
Cast of Characters
Goliath Paladin – Red’s Husband
Lawful Neutral Paladin of Devotion tied strongly to Goliath’s tendencies for meritocracy. Thinks arcane magic is cheating, and has a personality loosely based on Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation.
Nick “Pyro” / “Gandra Nox”
Human (Gold Draconic) Sorcerer – Tyrone (older teen girl)
Vigilante-type that masquerades as a Dragonborn-esque creature “Gandra Nox” in order to keep himself safe.
Kobold Warlock – Mort/Blackwold (new DM candidate)
Peddler of fallacies and miracle cures that found a dragon’s scale while helping dig out sewers under Dracholt. Now proclaims the wisdom of the Blood Dragons in loud, Born-again Evangelical style.
Half-Elf Rogue – new player Red’s friends knew
Kildrak Dankil of the Silver Flame
Dwarven Cleric – new but experienced player McFadin knew
As they travelled down the road towards Dracholt and finally neared their destination, Aldin, Nick, and Crux got into another argument about what had happened at Roselake. As their debate circled around and around, Kildrak made a motion and everything suddenly went silent. No words came from any mouths, even though they still moved, and even the crunch of their feet on the gravel made no sound.
Devolving into wild gestures at each other, they would not have noticed McFadin waving and pointing if he had not tapped them. Gesturing wildly and trying to communicate with exaggerated and slowly mouthed words, McFadin indicated something on the road ahead of them, and they all looked forward to find an old man sitting atop an overturned cart, his slight frame wracked with sobbing.
With another motion from Kildrak, the silence was no more, and McFadin’s shouting suddenly came into being. “…down the road! We should go talk to him!” the rogue howled, flinching at his own voice as it became audible again.
As they approached, it became clear that the old man’s cart had been full of vegetables, ones that would have been large and vibrant had they not been crushed by the overturned cart. “Are you alright?” one of them ventured.
“N-n-no,” the old man quivered. “A vagabond… he-he overturned my cart. And-and now my vegetables are destroyed. M-my wife will surely die!”
Nick stepped forward, and the old man found 20 gold deposited into his hands. “What is wrong with your wife?” Aldin asked as the old man stared in shock.
With a startled flinch, he looked back up at the party: “She’s very sick. I could not get any of the clerics to help me, so I was going to sell my vegetables to buy a cure from Goldfoot.”
“Aldin can heal people,” Nick offered with a grin. “Did you say Goldfoot?”
Aldin cast a withering glare at the young sorcerer, but the old man almost leapt to his feet, thrusting the gold towards the goliath. “Please!” he begged, frail form shaking.
“I’m not a charity,” Aldin growled at Nick before turning to the old man, “but I will heal your wife.”
“Thank you! Thank you!” the old man wailed, wrapping his arms around the giant’s waist as Aldin stuffed the gold into his belt pouch. The old man eagerly, but slowly, then began to hobble back down the road away from the city, although Kildrak and Crux hesitated. Noticing them standing still and Nick moving to follow him, Aldin stopped for a moment and turned to them.
“It’s only an hour back to my farm!” the old man offered helpfully.
“Go on and give Alpharius the seals,” the paladin addressed Kildrak. “We won’t be long. Nick, go with Kildrak.”
“How do we know you’re not going to just kill her?!” Nick blurted in frustration.
“Why would I kill her?” Aldin snarled. “When have you seen me harm an innocent? Even those thugs I only hit with the flat of my blade.”
Nick opened his mouth to respond, but McFadin cut him off: “I’ll go with, so you don’t have to worry. No need to get into another arguement.”
Although with a grumble, Nick accepted and followed Kildrak and Crux into Dracholt; while Aldin and McFadin went with the old man back to a little farmhouse. When the door opened to the back bedroom, a sickly sweet smell rolled out to greet them, as did the sounds of light and shallow breathing, punctuated once by a weak cough. The old woman, the rise and fall of her chest barely moving the blankets on the bed, had clearly not moved for some time, her sweat staining puddles around her and loosely outlining the large swollen lumps bulging from at least her neck and armpits.
Meerly laying a glowing hand on the old woman’s forehead, Aldin healed her; all of the traits of the disease disappeared, the lumps quickly deflating and her breathing becoming stronger. The old man fell to his knees, crying out in joy as his wife opened her eyes and smiled.
As Aldin and McFadin entered Dracholt, they were met by a crowd gathered around one of the city bulletin boards, a discontented grumbling rippling through the peasants. As the two worked their way around the crowd and ran into Kildrak, Crux, and Nick, a guard stepped forward from the street and pushed his way through the amassed onlookers, the party following the swathe he cut until he stood before the offending item.
On the bulletin board, plastered rudely over one of Alpharius’ flyers, was a handwritten note, it’s words crouched and meticulous:
Follow the path of the floating chair,
what you seek awaits you there.
“Nothin’ ta see here!” the guard shouted back at the peasants after tearing the note down and crumpling it. “It’s just trash that means nothin’. Get back to yer lives.”
The guard shooing them away, the peasants eventually dispersed with a grumble. “It’s just trash that’s gonna start riots,” the guard mumbled after the majority had gone before extracting the crumpled note from his pocket and looking to throw it in the nearest pile of refuse.
“Why would it start riots?” Aldin asked, stepping forward.
The guard looked up at the towering paladin and shrugged. “They don’ like that book the court mage is workin’ outta. Think it’s evil or demon-made and nothin’ good can come of it.”
“People are afraid of things they do not understand,” Kildrak chuckled.
“Could I have that note?” Aldin continued.
“Sure,” the guard sighed, shrugging again. “It’s just trash.”
Uncrumpling the paper, Aldin began to head towards the city center then, so he could take the books from Alaera’s cave to Alpharius. Kildrak and McFadin followed, although Nick and Crux bade them ado and disappeared off into an alley. Shortly coming to Alpharius’ quarters, they found the young mage diligently comparing notes to the old book.
“Oh, good! You did make it back!” Alpharius smiled as the three entered.
“We brought you these books,” Aldin said, extracting the six he had in his pack. “They might have more information about the seals, but we intend to take one with us to compare to other things we might stumble across.”
“Wonderful!” the mage exclaimed, leaping up from his seat and beginning to flip through the largest of the books. “Did you get your part of the gold I gave to the others? Oh, and how did five of you end up splitting the potions?”
“Yes, we did… but potions?”
“Potions of Healing.”
“There were three of ’em.” Kildrak said. “Nick and Crux each have one.”
Aldin frowned for a moment. “Well, the books are worth something, so…”
“I can enchant some things?” Alpharius offered. “Your reward was almost all of my allowance…”
Aldin nodded and offered his greatsword, McFadin stepping up and offering his rapier. “I’ll see what I can do,” Alpharius smiled as he took the weapons. “Now, before I forget, did either of you two run into a Tiefling by any chance?”
“An older lady Tiefling – Tina? Trina? No, Ekaterina was her name – came and helped me translate some of the book while you were off. She’s probably been studying it longer than I’ve been alive; she knew so many of the words I was having problems with. Problem was someone must have gone and gotten the guards… they stormed in here to arrest her as a heretic.”
“Did she escape?”
“Oh, yes. When they grabbed her, she… well, disappeared,” Alpharius shrugged. “I’m not sure how she did it, but she’s definately not in the dungeons…”
“We’ll keep an eye out for her then,” Aldin offered. “So where do we head next?”
Alpharius grinned sheepishly. “Well, I don’t actually know where the next seal is… the book does not really say a lot. It’s kind of an effort of guessing. But, the other two said you had gotten these two from the same place, so if you can, it would be useful to find that… what was the name?”
“Yes, that one,” Alpharius continued. “If she had more than one, she probably knows how to locate them.”
“Or she could have just had two to start with,” Kildrak mused, before pausing for a moment. “Aldin, you still have that paper?”
Alpharius’ eyes lit up as the paladin handed him the note. “This is Ekaterina’s handwriting!” he exclaimed, digging through his notes to produce a page with identical crouched and meticulous words. “She wrote this! …follow… floating chair? Wait, I know someone with something like that!”
Handing the note back to Aldin, Alpharius rushed out into the main hall of the castle and grabbed the nearest squire, a young boy maybe ten years old. The mage struggled to find the name of whoever he was sending the party to, but eventually he muttered something to the squire which caused the boy to laugh.
Aldin and Kildrak exchanged concerned glances before McFadin cut in. “He just said ‘Count Fat Arse,'” the rogue quietly chuckled, before the squire motioned for them to follow and led them out of the castle and into the hightown streets. Leading them to a decorated manor house with two ridiculously dressed guards standing at the doors, the boy introduced the three before ushering them in. From atop a grand staircase flanked by beautifully sculpted stone statues, a butler called that the count would be with them shortly.
As the three waited, they heard the guards converse with but turn away someone, although before they could determine exactly who, the butler stepped up to the top of the stairs again: “Count Rudolphus Habsberg the Generous thanks you for your patience.”
The thin man then disappeared again although only long enough to push a carved wooden chair around and down the stairs. The man that sat upon it, his deformed legs dangling just above the group, was portly but well-kept, expertly tailored clothing keeping all of his fat but his double chin from giggling as he moved.
Aldin bowed before stepping forward. “We have come to inquire about your chair.”
“This?” the count smiled, gesturing to that upon which he sat. “It is my most prized possession. As much as it pains me to say, I simply cannot part with it.”
“That’s not what we intended, count,” Aldin continued. “We simply want to know how it floats. Did the man that carved it do such a thing?”
“I… am rather certain he did not. My shipping company brought him the materials as is, I believe.”
“Could we have the name of the carpenter and the shipping company?”
“Why, Habsberg Shipping, of course,” the count chortled. “And the carpenter was William Carpetieri. He does all of my woodworking.”
Thanking the count, Aldin, Kildrak, and McFadin turned to leave, but something caught the rogue’s eye. Up near the top of the stairs, a woman poked her head out of a hallway to look at them. Her flamboyant clothing and ridiculous hat, which she quickly removed and tucked under her arm before ducking back into the hallway, were strangely familiar to McFadin, and as he thought, he realized that he had been looking at that clothing on a regular basis over the last few days – it belonged to Nick.
“Do you have people working on things upstairs?” McFadin asked, indicating the hallway from which the woman had appeared.
The butler frowned, and as McFadin turned to catch up with the others, he heard the butler and count accosting the two in the upstairs. They were saying something about installing “indoor plumbing,” but the count insisted that he had ordered no such thing. The front doors closing behind him muffled the rest of the conversation, but shortly after, the same voices came from out behind the manor, their annoyance obvious as they spoke about how ungrateful the count was for not paying for their revolutionary new product.