The Alexandrian

Ptolus - In the Shadow of the Spire

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SPIRE

SESSION 4B: RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENTS

April 7th, 2007
The 18th Day of Amseyl in the 790th Year of the Seyrunian Dynasty

TEE AT THE COCK PIT

Instead of retiring, however, Tee took advantage of the evening hours in order to track down the Cock Pit. She was successful, discovering that the Cock Pit was, in fact, an illegal gambling house run by someone named Naosh (presumably the same Naosh that Toridan Cran had made the 100 gp payment to). It also turned out that, while Naosh ran the Cock Pit, the place was actually controlled by someone named Aggah-Shan.

Tee decided to try going to the Cock Pit by herself (suspecting, perhaps, that the less than subtle methods of some of her compatriots might be less than effective in an underground gambling den). She easily found the place she’d been told to go – a nondescript and unmarked warehouse – and knocked on the door. After a cursory inspection by three guards (“Whaddya want?” “I’m here to gamble.” “Go right in.”) Tee entered a surprisingly lavish gambling hall. Guards were posted conspicuously at several locations, including the main hallway that led out of the area.

Tee asked some questions, tried to flirt unsuccessfully with one of the guards (“Elves not your thing, huh? Your loss.”) in order to see what was further down the hall, and then cashed in 20 gold pieces to play the copper ante tables. Over the next hour she gambled with a fair amount of success (ending up on the night) and continued asking questions, trying to find out whatever she could about Naosh and Aggah-Shan.

She wasn’t very successful. In fact, her questioning brought unwanted attention: A guard dropped a heavy hand on her shoulder and said, “Naosh wants to see you. Now.”

He led her down the hallway she had been wanting to get a better look down earlier. Through a set of double doors she met Naosh, a half-orc. (When Agnarr was told the tale later he shook his head in confusion, “Why is everyone with power in this city a half-orc?”)

Naosh made it plain that Tee had crossed a line: “You’ve been asking questions about me and you’ve been asking questions about Aggah-Shan. Those are two names you don’t want to know anything about. This is the only warning I’m going to give you.” Naosh confiscated her winnings (and her stake money) and had the guards throw her out. Tee went without complaint and returned, with great frustration, to the Ghostly Minstrel.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENTS

(08/19/790)

Ranthir, meanwhile, had taken full advantage of his extra time in the Delver’s Guild Library. Long after the midnight oil had been expired, he found an ancient parchment purporting to be a “true copy” of a “scroll of chronicle” which was “in full part the true tale of the War of Ghul and the events of those days”. Much of the scroll was utterly gone, and that which remained didn’t actually shed much in the way of enlightenment on the Ghulwar (containing mostly details well known), but there was one section which caught his eye: “It was also said that, in those days, the Dwarves of the Queen did labor mightily in war against elves of the earth, in those far passages in which lay the city of dreams.”

Shortly after that, Ranthir’s weariness finally overcame him. He went to the room Benris had prepared for him and saw that she had also set out some food for him. Smiling, he fell asleep amidst many, many books.

The next morning the rest of the party headed up into Oldtown to catch up with Ranthir at the Library. On the way, Agnarr stopped and bought a precious pearl that the wizard had told him would be required to further study his sword and identify the command word for activating its more powerful magic.

When they arrived, Ranthir related the discovery he had made overnight. Dominic, fascinated by the discovery (and perhaps remembering the riot from the day before), volunteered to stay and help Ranthir finish more quickly.

Ranthir spent the next hour carefully studying Agnarr’s sword. The others generally poked through the material Ranthir had been pouring over and chatted amongst themselves, but Agnarr became increasingly frustrated with being pent up in a building full of nothing but worthless paper! So when Ranthir informed him that the command word of his sword was a dwarven phrase – “for the glory” – Agnarr promptly said it.

His sword burst into flame, causing some concern from some of his companions (since they were standing in a library full of dry parchment), but in the light of the flame a small mark previously unnoticed came to Agnarr’s attention. Ranthir identified it as the forge-mark of Itak Bahl – one of the dwarven kingdoms in the Mountains of the East which had fallen centuries ago. Agnarr’s brow furrowed, “Where did I get this sword?”

After further discussion it was decided that, while Dominic and Ranthir remained at the library, the others would once again spread out through the city looking for information: Elestra and Agnarr would try to find Methul Watcher, while Tee would follow up on the Cock Pit.

TEE’S SECRETS

While the party killed time in the Library, waiting for Ranthir to finish analyzing Agnarr’s sword, Tee did two things surreptitiously without the rest of the party realizing it.

First, she wrote a note to Doraedian, telling him of the passage Ranthir had found.

Second, she slipped out of the room and spoke with Shad, the head librarian. She showed him the amulet she wore and asked him if he was familiar with the dragon sigil (which matched the sigil on each shoulder of her mithril shirt). Shad shook his head and said it was unfamiliar to him. She asked him how much it would cost to research it for her, and he said that there would be a fee of 10 gold pieces per day. She paid him 20 gold pieces in advance and asked that he keep the research private, even from her companions. Shad frowned in thought, but nodded: “Yes, of course. Privacy is the guild’s watch word.”

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENTS, CONTINUED

Agnarr, a bit over his head in the big city, started wandering around asking random people if (a) they were Methul Watcher and, if not, (b) did they know who he was? Elestra took a more systematic and – dare it be said? – subtle approach, but was similarly stymied: As far as they could tell, Methul Watcher didn’t exist. As Elestra would said when the group reconvened later that day, “Maybe he doesn’t. Maybe it’s not a real name. After all, would you give a real name to somebody you were hiring to kill a pregnant woman?” (“Well, in that case,” Agnarr said. “This is a dead end. There’s nothing more we can do.”)

Before doing anything else, Tee headed over to Phon’s house in the North Market to check on how she was doing. She found that Phon had already left for work, so she trekked back into Midtown and stopped in at Saches. Tee apologized for Dominic upsetting her earlier, “We’re just worried for you, Phon.”

Phon still seemed tense, but accepted Tee’s apology. “I know. I just don’t like being accused of things without any reason.”

Tee also asked if Phon had heard anything from Helmut, making sure that Phon understood that she was merely concerned for Helmut’s safety. Phon turned suddenly cold and her voice filled with bitterness. “You mean you haven’t heard? Helmut was arrested for disturbing the peace.”

Tee asked her if it would be all right for them to keep in touch, since they were still worried for her safety. Phon agreed, although she said she’d prefer it if she didn’t have to see Agnarr or Dominic again.

Tee left Saches and put her ear to the ground again. She was trying to figure out if there was any way for her to salvage her reputation with Naosh and get back into the Cock Pit. What she heard didn’t sound good: The Cock Pit might be owned by the mysterious Aggah-Shan, but there was no way to go over Naosh’s head – Naosh was Aggah-Shan’s trusted man. And once Naosh had made up his mind about somebody, his mind stayed made up. However, she did discover that the Cock Pit’s reputation was based on two things: An illegal arena pit where blood (and even death) were common and a new gambling game known as mrathrach.

The group reconvened for lunch and compared notes. They seemed to be making little concrete progress on Methul Watcher, so they decided to switch tactics. Elestra and Agnarr spent the afternoon trying to find out more information about the double-brass rings which had been worn by both of Phon’s assailants.

Agnarr’s technique was familiar: Taking one of the rings he began wandering the streets, asking random people whether they knew anything about it. (“Do you recognize this ring? Do you know anyone who wears a ring like this? Do you wear rings like this? Here, put this ring on. Hey! It fits! What are you hiding from me?”)

Elestra, however, met with more success, eventually discovering that these were the gang rings of the Pale Dogs, the pre-eminent gang of the Warrens. The Pale Dogs were apparently led by a mysterious man named Jirraith.

Tee, meanwhile, poked around a little further regarding the illegal gambling scene in Ptolus. She discovered that the current champion of the Cock Pit’s arena was a minotaur named Krag. As for the new game of mrathrach, it was played at several illegal gambling dens around the city – but no legal ones. Perhaps the oddest thing was that many of these gambling dens reported that, when they first introduced Mrathrach it didn’t prove very popular, but after awhile its popularity would surge.

While everyone else wandered all over the city, Ranthir and Dominic were making speedy progress at the Library. Midway through the afternoon, however, Ranthir came across some random information that jogged his memory of the arcane tome the group had found on Collus (Toridan Cran’s spellcaster). Pulling the tome out, Ranthir wandered out into the general stacks and tried to identify the arcane sigil which marked each page.

It turned out that the sigil belonged to Peruun, an archmage now known to be among the founding members of the Inverted Pyramid. Peruun’s journals – of which several were known and extant, with many others believed lost – were apparently known to be encrypted using a cipher confounded with the aid of a comprehend languages spell. If the tome were, in fact, encrypted with such a cipher – and that seemed likely, given the earlier failure of a comprehend languages spell to elucidate the text – then it would be almost impossible to decipher it without magic. And even with magic to reveal the underlying cipher, that cipher would still need to be manually decrypted. Ranthir, unfortunately, lacked the skill to decipher the text.

Ranthir and Dominic finished their research at the library, thanked Benris and Shad for their courtesy, and headed back towards the Ghostly Minstrel to rendezvous with the rest of the group. They timed this well, arriving at the entrance to Delver’s Square just as the rest of the party showed up. The whole group headed across the square to their inn, a multitude of questions swirling through their midst:

  • Who was Methul Watcher? Why had he paid for Phon to be killed?
  • What connection did Jirraith and the Pale Dogs have to the attempted assassination?
  • What connection did the half-orc Naosh and his employer Aggah-Shan have to Toridan Cran?
  • Why would Helmut Itlestein provoke a riot?
  • Who was Shilukar, the master mage and thief?
  • What secrets were encrypted in the journal of Peruun?
  • What mysteries were locked in the box that could not be opened?
  • What magic was hidden in Tee’s longbow and Dominic’s vestments?
  • What was the meaning of that room of gold and ebony that formed their final memory?
  • What had they sought in the caverns deep beneath the city?

And, most important of all: What had happened to their memories? What had they been doing for the year they could not remember?

They entered the Ghostly Minstrel, uncertain of their next course of action or in what direction their path lay.

Tellith looked up as they came in. “Oh! Mistress Tee! Master Ranthir! There’s a man waiting for you in the common room!”

TEE’S LETTER

As the rest of the group moved towards the common room, Tellith called Tee back. “Oh, mistress Tee! I have a letter for you!”

Quickly opening it, she read:

Tee—

Aradan gave me this letter for you this morning. I have sent it on immediately. I thought it would serve you well to know that your friends are well and are keeping you in their thoughts.

Doraedian

The packet contained another letter, sealed and addressed to Tee.

ARADAN’S REPLY TO TEE

Tee—

I am glad to hear that you are well. My mind boils over with questions I would pay dearly to know the answers to, but your letter seems to imply that there is some degree of privacy that you want or must keep and so I shall restrain my inclination. Instead I shall content myself, for the moment at least, with matters here in Ptolus since you left.

Little, of course, has changed. Such is the way of it. But for my own part I have progressed to the Second Circle in the Order of the Bow. Leytha Nyphistree says that she sees “some spark of talent” in me and is, upon occasion, giving me private tutorship. Her guidance and wisdom is truly a gift.

Little Rissien is eager to see you. He’s not so little any more, though! He has grown like a shake shedding its skin in the last year. He’s taller than you, now! I’ve had to dissuade him from hunting you down “this very instant”. I’m sure that Santiel will feel the same way when she hears that you’ve returned.

I am sorry to say, however, that I have no way of letting Miluiel know that you’ve returned.e hH

Half a year past she defied Leytha Doraedian, left Narred, and became an apprentice with the Inverted Pyramid. I have not seen her since. None of us have.

Silith nevora silta’tayl,

Aradan

“Leytha” means elder or wise one, a title of respect among their people (but not elves in general)

“silith nevora” means peace to your dreams, a traditional farewell among their people (but not elves in general)

“silta tayl” means literally “newborn grove”, but when compounded as “silta’tayl” it means “little sibling” (like two trees in the same grove). Aradan is using it here in an affectionate sense, referring to Tee as “little sister”.

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