Heroes of Istal

Minor Exposition

As you might or might not remember, we’re going to start this story while we were still figuring out what to do with the multicoloured potions and their many, many possible applications and implications. I have to be honest with you, none of us had any kind of clue while we were weighing the different colours against the hints of the riddle. In the end, we decided that the red and the blue potion probably had something to do with it, but we didn’t know what would be the real way to go and we didn’t know how it would affect us if we made a mistake, so we decided to can the potions until we had more of a clue.
So we started to go out again, even though it didn’t really go as smoothly as we had expected it to go. When Geziah opened the portal on our sign and started running, we went out and ran right into Lucas, who bumped us back in before closing the portal again. Total accident, I’m sure.

No, sorry, I couldn’t keep a straight face. That guy made a fool of himself and he knows it.
This happened twice more before we finally managed to get out, just because the guy probably got it that we had dealt with the problems they had fled from without the help of him and his sister Lin.
After we had sorted that out, verbally chewed the two out for running out on us, and deciding to give them another chance, we headed back to Sannich to sell those books we had looted from the bookshelves in the dungeon. I dumped most of the party in our usual inn while Lanaya went with me to see what it’d be like to be the mind of the party.
I’ll keep the story of what we had to do to ‘sell’ the books to a minimum, for it really isn’t worth much retelling. Kurt Tepez, the son of the forgetful magician, didn’t want to buy them. Nor did the Merchant’s Guild, nor did Christopher of the bookstore. We ended up in an antique shop, which was willing to trade us a couple of enchanted chess pieces for the whole collection, or pay us 25 gold.
Yeah, we had been hoping to get a little more loaded from that venture, but we took the chess pieces and our loss with it.

En route back to the inn I recalled the last time the Untouchables had spent more than five minutes out of my direct viewpoint, so we detoured by the closest guardpost to see if they had been arrested yet.
Surprisingly, they had behaved at least reasonably well and were still sitting in the inn. Drunk out of their minds, true, but they were still in the inn. We decided, and by that I mean that Lanaya and I decided, to drop a note by Count Sannich of where our recent escapades were taking us and head for Fiumero next. The reasoning behind it was rather lost on me, but we decided to go there and that was that.
I threw a bucket of water over Geziah, hoping it would sober him up before he would wake up the next day. The guy took his revenge on me the next morning, though once again, his childish behaviour doesn’t really warrant any extended explanation. It was just what I had to sit through, at the time.
When we wanted to leave, though, Kurt came running at us: his dad had disappeared when he would visit an old friend. Though we were sceptical at first, thinking the old guy had made a wrong turn somewhere and just got lost in the city, Kurt was very insistent on us going out to find his father.
Well, he had helped us out in the past, as well, so the least we could do was comb through the city. We started tracing the old man’s steps, to see between which point he had disappeared, and found a letter in his room. He’d have a meeting in ‘The Three Crowns’, the expensive inn of town. Even though we knew that we’d be way out of place in there, what with us still being relatively poor adventurers, we made haste to get there.
Even though we got rather strange looks in the inn, the barkeep was willing to answer a couple of our questions. It’s quite possible that he did it just to get us out as fast as possible, but I still feel bad for not leaving the guy some semblance of a tip as we made our way out.
But the man had some good answers for us. Apparently, mister Tepez had entered the inn alone and had left it alone. He had just been there to receive a letter, though the good man couldn’t tell us from whom he got it.
At that point, alarm bells started ringing in my mind. When someone ‘only’ receives a letter, it’s usually something bad. So while we let Lanaya go wild on the original letter, let her do some scrying and other arcane stuff I don’t really get, I happened upon a piece of paper that was relatively close to where Tepez had his short conversation. It contained an address somewhere in town, which happened to coincide rather well with what Lanaya had seen.
So we could’ve saved ourselves some reagents by using our eyes instead of our minds, but what the hey.

As we arrived at the address, we realized the door was locked.
Suddenly, I felt sorry for not trying to save Jackie a bit harder. Now, Jimmy went wild on the door, eventually headbutting it and going straight through.
Yeah, he opened the door using his head. It’s the most practical way the man can use it, I’m sure.
We got our entrance, anyway, so we went in to a practical living area. We found a door that hid a set of stairs going downwards, though, so we went down there.
Lanaya was quick to cast some lighting spell the very moment we realized there was preciously little light, so she and I started going ahead for a bit through a stone hallway. We met a steel door, though we figured we’d never get it open with our limited expertise, so we went on to the rest of the hallway, which lead us to some kind of large cavern.
Lanaya suddenly stopped in front of me, something that should have been my first warning that things weren’t going the way we wanted things to go. I was blind, though, and pushed past her, activating a trap.
Now, I have to tell you, I got pushed around quite badly during the fight that followed, so my accounts of them are rather hazy.
What I do remember is Geziah running past us, into the darkness, and suddenly starting to scream about zombie snakes. Lanaya started attacking our friends, who were just starting to pile into the room as they followed my shouts of pain and Geziah’s panicked sounds.
Something I recall very clearly is Betsy, Lanaya’s ‘lovely’ magma monster, deciding that I was more of a tasty treat than the many snakes that were inhabiting the room. I went down, was woken up by Jimmy and basically went down again.
People who remember Jimmy’s retelling of our encounter with the Raven’s Heralds will probably find that this story might have some things in common with that one. I suffered quite a lot, something I’m expecting to do even more when I start following the road of the Holy Avenger.
ANYway, long story short, by the time I woke up again, the building was destabilized and probably collapsing on itself. Everyone was running out the way we got in, though Geziah opened the steel door in the hallway to find mister Tepez sitting there.
Yeah.
We could’ve saved ourselves a lot of time and pain if we had just opened that door on the way in instead of just passing it.
As we left the house and started counting heads, we realized we couldn’t find Lanaya anywhere. The mystery of where she had disappeared to was quickly solved when her terrified scream came from out of the collapsing house.
I hated it, but I knew I couldn’t leave her there. She could’ve been wounded, or trapped, and just letting her die in there was not something I was planning to let happen.
So I went in, just to see her cower behind a ghost of some kind. As I started flinging Lances at it, I shouted at her that she could just move through the damned thing. Something she had apparently forgotten.
Though, in my zeal, I didn’t realize I had wounded the beast. My punishment came down soon enough, even though Jimmy managed to pull me out before the ghostly creature took advantage of it and the house collapsed on top of me. Sometimes I hate that I’m so nice to people I don’t hate yet.

Once everyone was outside, Lanaya got the classic idea of trying to interrogate mister Tepez. It was rather cute, she wasn’t aware of how… absent the good man is, and he quickly managed to whittle down her patience.
In the end, Jimmy just dragged everyone back to the Tepez’s house, where Kurt was still waiting for us. He gave us a pair of Holy Gauntlets as a reward for saving his dad, though with the destruction of the house on our name, we’d probably get well known in the city once more.
I recall an ‘accident’ with alcohol and the Sannich estate that left our good name in the dirt already, anyway, so this probably didn’t even damage our name too badly. It couldn’t have done more damage then Jackie had done to it in Milicio, simply because that isn’t possible, but that’s an old story already.
So, as we started gearing up to leave again, Kurt stopped us for a second time. He asked us about our quest, which we’ve been doing ever since we first met him in the Black Dragon’s cave. We figured we could tell him about Dejour, after which the good man offered to scry him if we could get him the man’s full name.
Well, none of us could.
We tried to tell the man as much as possible, though the fact that he was working with a cult of the Raven Queen created some friction between Lanaya and Jimmy.
After some awkward glances, we even told the man about the Changelings he had employed and the frustration it had left us with. When Kurt told us he wasn’t especially for or against them he risked his health for a couple of seconds until we realized that we really had no reason to harm the man for his personal opinion, no matter how much we disagreed with it.
At least, that’s what I told Geziah as I was pulling him back from the man.
Anyway, Kurt told us that he’d do what he could and that we’d best return the next day to get the results of the surely time-consuming ritual.

When we returned, Kurt didn’t have any good news for us. He hadn’t found much we didn’t already know, which wasn’t much to start with, anyway.
His father, of all people, did waltz in, telling us that he did find out a thing or two. That Dejour was in the city, for one.
Even though we were wary of the man’s absent mind, we decided not to risk this golden opportunity and went out with haste. We asked everyone we could find, but we couldn’t find Dejour. We even left his description at the local Guardhouse, where we got the promise that the city gates would be monitored in the name of the people who defeated the Blazing Rider. That must’ve made sense, somewhere.
When we were there, though, the weirdest thing happened. A guard walked in, but something wasn’t completely right with him. It took me a moment, but I suddenly realized that the guard was actually a Changeling in disguise. He went straight for us and asked the Untouchables to come with him, as if he had known we would be there.
Jimmy, Geziah and I followed the man, telling Lanaya, Lin and Lucas to wait up for us while we were dealing with this situation. I could tell that both Geziah and Jimmy were pretty tense, but so was I. I couldn’t, and still can’t, blame any of us for that.
It came as a surprise to us when the guy flat-out said ‘yeah, I am’ when we accused him of being a Changeling. He told us he was infiltrating the people surrounding Count Sannich as part of the usual political intrigue, and he figured he had a thing or two he could tell us.
So, he told us about the son of Verlicht, the guy who had tried to assassinate us with his group of Changelings when we spent the night in an inn, had workings with the wrong kind of people. The story about the Changelings might have been made up to cover him up, because Count Sannich had good ties with Verlicht and might be connected to the assassination otherwise.
It was an interesting theory and, as I said before, blaming a Changeling for something bad that happened to us was something I wouldn’t hold above the likes of Jimmy, let alone above someone who was experienced in political intrigue and backstabbing and the likes.
We thanked the guy, not saying that he should be glad he could still walk, and went outside. We quickly briefed the people we had left outside, after which we decided to go to Count Sannich and immediately confront him with this information.
Well, the guy had sent out for us, he apparently wanted all of us to join him for a meeting and we were quite happy to comply. It saved me a lot of red tape to wade my way through, which is something I’m always happy to get around.
Yes, that is because it appears that the red tape is usually placed in exactly such a way that it’s made the hardest for me, and me alone.

But, as we entered the usual meeting room with the Count, we noticed that he was in a bit of a foul mood. He clearly had his own interests to help us out, because he immediately started off by telling us that he had been performing his own research on Dejour.
It would’ve been nice if he had told us that before, but what the hey, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and all that.
The man had been a bodyguard to different people, most notably Baron Scillio and Baron Crimson, though he was supposed to be just as dead as Scillio was at the point.
The name Scillio sounded like a name I was supposed to know, though it failed to ring any bells at the time, and it still does. I really hope we’ll find out soon, though, because if Dejour is alive, chances are that Scillio is so as well.
There was some interesting gossip on Crimson, as well. He appeared to be bankrupt, though the insurance on the Wind Crystal we had ‘lost’ had given him some windfall that kept him going for a little longer. The Baron was apparently also an ex-Count, though he was demoted by Baron Farla, who became Count Farla thanks to that little stunt, by bringing up some dark business from Crimson’s past. What kind of dark business, Count Sannich couldn’t tell us.
He also made clear that he couldn’t possibly help us more, for his political reach didn’t go all the way to Altea. That was a bit of a bummer.
Confronting the Count with the story of Verlicht, you know, for a little bit of story from both sides, gave us a very irritated response. All he was willing was that there was suspected Death Magic in the play, which made all arrows point to necromancers. I really didn’t want to meet necromancers.
Jimmy, in his audacity, requested more funding from Sannich immediately after that. After some to and from, the count actually agreed and told us that he’d have a bit for us within a week, so we’d stay in town for another week before leaving again.

When we got outside again, the potions and their magical hints entered my mind again. They had been taking up room in our Bag of Holding all this time and, quite frankly, I was growing tired of it.
So, I decided to just give it a shot, consequences be damned. Fortune Favours the Bold and all that.
The first four or five of them just blasted me, clearly poisoning me, but I managed to stand until I got to the purple potion.

The First is the Uppermost;
The Second is the Backdrop.

Red and blue make purple. It makes sense, in hindsight, that this potion gave me the promised effect of a stronger mind for a short time. It’s probably for the better that we didn’t try to use these potions during a fight.
With that riddle solved we dumped the last remaining potions and started wasting away for a week, after which we received a pretty paltry amount of money and left for Altea.
And yes, we finally succeeded in leaving Sannich. In a completely different direction than we had planned, but hey. At least we had a goal again.

We’re going to confront count Crimson with his knowledge of Dejour and maybe find out what kind of ‘dark business’ he had been doing in the past. I’m also pretty sure that, if we do, he’ll deny everything to start with.
If we can’t get anything out of the man, I’m out of ideas, I can tell you that. I don’t know what to do if this road turns out dead, as well.

First

Comments

With apologies for the relatively low quality, I couldn’t find the feeling and just wanted to get this thing out…

Minor Exposition
 

It’s pretty good really, Geziah is still Geziah in the story. xD Jimmy Smash! Now with headbut!

Minor Exposition
Gratein

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