We're All Bastards Here

The Trial

After depositing his etchings at the library, Thiet goes to speak with his mentor, an elven theologian named Oxsethis [oxsethit]. Oxsethis is delighted to see Thiet again, and asks for a recounting of what he’s been doing with his time in exile. Thiet explains everything and asks for any help Oxsethis can give, especially information about fairies or relevant legal precedents. Oxsethis promises to find what he can and to borrow some books for Thiet from the library. He also tells Thiet that if he still has Ggita’s blessings (i.e. his cleric spells) then he is obviously not the one at fault in the proccess that lead to his expulsion from the seminary.

Sothet, meanwhile, is looking for answers in wizard dive bars. She doesn’t learn anything useful about fairies, but when she recounts her story someone does tell her that a person turning into ice when they die sounds an awful lot like a simulacrum. Simulacrum is a very powerful spell, so powerful that Sothet thinks only two or three wizards in the entire country are strong enough to cast it. She is concerned that this means the party has just angered one of the most powerful wizards in the nation and they are all going to die.

That evening, Ksea and Thiet go to dinner with the countess. Before the dinner, they spend some time planning out how they will present their case. They decide that mentioning fairies makes their story seem more made-up, and instead to focus on how neglected the town is by the local nobility. Discussion of the trial itself will be focused on Thiet – as one who obviously has the favor of a god, and yet is being wrongfully accused of murdering another priest. When they actually sit down for dinner, the plan goes off wonderfully – Ksea is an impressive orator, and Thiet is an earnestly convincing victim. Incensed by the tale, the countess offers the party a loan of horses to speed their travel and promises to send one of her own adjudicators to oversee the trial.

When the dinner is over, they stop by the college of Saint Sethas to pick up the books that Oxsethis has borrowed for Thiet, then return to the laughing star. There, Thiet reads his books while the rest of the party tries to come up with any more plans that might help them. At one point in the planning, much to everyone’s surprise and confusion, Ero mentions that they could talk to her father, the king, and see if he can do anything. Everyone else was previously ignorant of Ero’s parentage, but this doesn’t help when she tries to backtrack and claim that “King” is just her family’s last name. Ksea, who knows the names of most of the noble families of the realm merely rolls her eyes and asks if “Lord The King is here in Athash?” With her story blown, Ero decides to write a letter to her legal father, assuming he will pass it on to her real father, possibly in time to do some good.

The next morning, Thiet returns his borrowed books and the party sets off for Aggatõ, Adjudicator Thethu in tow. Although Thethu refuses to discuss the trial on the ride, he is otherwise friendly and he and Thiet amuse themselves discussing (unrelated) precedents.

When they do arrive in Aggatõ they are relieved to find that the town is doing alright – nobody else has died, and there has been no more fairy trouble. (Though the local nobility continues to be useless) Atia is surprised and glad that they returned, and delighted to see Thethu was sent to oversee the trial. The two of them seem to hit it off immediately, so the party asks leave to investigate Uskish’s rooms and leaves them. They are granted such permission since technically they have not been formally charged with any crimes.

Inside Uskish’s rooms, they find signs of longstanding neglect. Though the tower has everything one would expect to find in a priest’s residence – a holy book, some other texts, (too damaged to read, as Sothet set fire to the bookshelf in the earlier fight with Uskish) both a public and private shrine to Ggita – but everything in Uskish’s private chambers shows signs of long disuse. Even the bed has a layer of dust on it. Between this and some missing components of the private shrine, Thiet concludes that Uskish was likely not killed and replaced by a fairy, but had been a fairy all along.

Using detect magic to further investigate the room, the party finds a chest under the bed, with magical contents. They decide to take it downstairs to open so that it doesn’t look like they are tampering with evidence. Ero picks the lock, and they open up the chest to find three things inside. The first is a bowl of perfectly still water that doesn’t seem to have spilled at all despite the chest being jostled down the stairs. The second is a live holly branch with berries growing on it. The third is a rock. It’s a shiny rock. It’s a very shiny rock.

Ksea notices that the shiny rock seems to be trying to mind-control her so she slams the box shut, but Ero is slightly faster and snatches the rock out first. Erkad, Atia, and Thethu all seem to be similarly enraptured, and Thethu demands that the rock be handed over to his keeping since it’s evidence. The free-willed party members insist that it’s a mind-controlling rock that should really be put away, which is enough for Erkad to snap out of it. The party tries to reason with Ero, and when they ask why she decided to take the rock she responds with “Because I am a thief, of course” before hastily explaining that she’s just a metaphorical thief once she remembers that she’s standing in front of a displeased adjudicator. Eventually, Thiet just covers the rock with a scarf, which seems to help everyone but Ero shake off the effect, and Erkad wrestles Ero to the ground and takes the rock away from her.

Investigating the items further, Sothet notices Enchantment magic on the rock and water, Transmutation on the branch, and Abjuration on the rock. The group decides they don’t have the means to figure out all of these right now and don’t want to experiment just yet, so they go with the Adjudicator to arrange his introduction to the Rissash. He decides to go in and speak with them alone, so the party asks him to take Fret with. They claim that Fret is there to help them notice if there’s any mind-control going on, but really they just want to eavesdrop on the conversation.

Etâ is the one who meets with Thethu, explaining that her mother is still unwilling to leave Otat’s side. (Upon hearing this, the party has a moment of realization that they left Otat and Uskish alone when Otat lost her memories, and that since Uskish was a fairy that probably makes him the one responsible) Etâ is cordial with Thethu, but clearly displeased with his arrival in town and interference in her trial. Thethu, similarly, is cordial with Etâ but clearly displeased with her approach to justice. After a short, polite conversation, Thethu leaves and walks back to the temple with the party.

There, the party decides to more thoroughly investigate the two magic items they can look at safely. They ask the priestess of Satõ, goddess of nature, if she knows anything about it, and with some investigation she concludes that the berries are Goodberries, each of which is sufficient nourishment for a whole day and will magically heal wounds. They then turn their attention to the bowl. The water in the bowl behaves strangely, always staying perfectly level no matter how the bowl is tilted or shaken. Peering into the bowl, Ksea almost thinks she sees faces in the water. She points this out and asks if anyone else can see them. Sothet also thinks she maybe sees faces, and since the party has never heard of priming they conclude that there are in fact barely-visible faces in the water.

Not wanting to test out the effect of the waters on a person, Sothet goes for the next-best thing and orders Fret to drink from the bowl. Fret does so, and immediately starts to thrash about. Sothet tries to communicate with him but Fret is unresponsive. She tries borrowing Fret’s sight and hearing, which works fine, but for some reason Fret is no longer listening to her. She sets Fret up with a pillow for the night and the party locks away the magic items before sleeping.

The next day, the trial goes smoothly for the party. Tahâs is tried in absentia for banditry, but pardoned due to the evidence that mind control was involved and he provided useful information about the other bandits. Etâ resentfully declines to bring charges against the party, as she knows she does not have enough evidence to convict with an unfriendly judge.

The party decides that, having returned for their trial, they don’t particularly want to stay any longer. Though they may return later, they would prefer to spend more time in Athaash preparing first. Before departing, the party decides to bid farewell to the Rissash family and check in on Otat and Shkihe. Otat seems relatively OK – still very upset about both what happened to her and the loss of her father (Etâ curtly explains that her memories were erased back to shortly before their father’s disappearance and presumed death) – but with her sister and mother to support her she seems to have mostly put herself back together. Shkihe is another story entirely, and seems not to have eaten at all in the weeks since the party last saw her. On a hunch, Thiet steps out of the room for a moment and casts detect otherworldly presences. When he enters the room again, he notices with the spell that Etâ and Otat are both fae. He handles this revelation better and more internally than he did the realization that Uskish was covered in illusions and does not attack either of them.

As soon as they leave the manor, Thiet tells the rest of the group what he saw. Though they are concerned for Shkihe, they eventually conclude that there is nothing they can do for her right now. Leaving the next morning and returning better-informed and better prepared still seems like the right plan to them. However, as they pass through the main part of town on their way out, Thiet notices another Fae with his spell. The rest of the party also notices this person, because he is standing outside in the rain staring right at them despite the blindfold he is wearing. They hurry past the fae and take shelter in the temple for the night.

In the morning, the party discusses what to do with the magic items they found in Uskish’s rooms. They eventually decide to leave the rock behind but take the branch and bowl of water with them. Ksea remembers from fairy tales that fairies tend to be pretty vindictive about stealing from them, so she suggests leaving behind some form of payment. They are unsure what payment a fairy might accept – someone suggests writing down their deepest darkest secrets and paying the fairy that way, but this suggestion is voted down as a terrible idea. Eventually they settle on objects of sentimental value and Erkad and Thiet leave behind a dagger and ring, respectively, which were gifts from their parents.

When they open the temple door to leave, however, they find a familiar tall, pale, blindfolded man standing at the threshold. They close the door in his face and confer for a moment, concluding that they should probably at least find out what he wants. They open the door again and the man demands that they give him his eyes back. Sothet explains that they gave the eyes to Koshti, and the group (including Atia and Thethu) offers to escort him to Koshti’s to ask for them back. When Koshti comes to the door, Sothet explains that whoever created the simulacrum that they fought earlier wants the eyes from it back, which Koshti finds sufficiently terrifying that he runs back inside and hands them over almost immediately. The fairy puts his eyes back in their sockets and everyone else promptly averts theirs. The party is all set to leave town when Ero blurts out an apology for taking the fairy’s bowl of water. He does not seem particularly inclined to forgive the theft, until they explain that they left a ring of great sentimental value behind. The fairy seems to accept these terms and grants the party permission to leave town, which they do posthaste.

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Athaash

After about a day’s travel towards Athaash, the party sets up camp for the night a little apart from the road. In the night, they notice that there is another campfire less than a mile behind them on the road, and are concerned that they might have been followed. The next morning, they travel a little farther, then most of the group hides off the road to ambush their pursuers if they turn out to be hostile.

Their pursuer turns out to be Atia, Aggatõ’s priestess of Sovas. Atia tells the party that Etâ had come down to the main part of town to hold trial for the bandits, and was not pleased to learn that one was dead and the other had been spirited away. As such, Atia was sent to catch the party on the road and convince them to turn back.

The party finds this suspicious, and thinks that Etâ or Atia or both might be mind-controlled or impersonated by the fairy they are fleeing. Sothet casts detect magic and finds that Atia is not charmed or illusioned, which reassures them somewhat, and Ksea asks Atia if she has anything in writing from Etâ to back up her claims. Atia does have such a document, but on reading it Ksea finds that the party is also to be tried – or at least investigated – for their involvement in the disappearance of Uskish and the memory-wiping of Otat. Given this new information, the party is reluctant to turn around and go back. Atia points out that she is legally empowered to use force to bring them back if necessary, which is predictably not very persuasive given that she is almost certainly the weakest person present. Nobody is interested in getting in a fight with a priestess and officer of the law, though, so an awkward standoff ensues until Thiet and Erkad promise to return in time for a trial in about a week, when Etâ had originally suggested one might be held. Nobody is happy with this outcome, but Atia agrees to go back.

Upon reaching Athaash, the party finds an inn to stay at for the night and discuss their plans over a hot dinner. Although they were not all in agreement about promising to return for trial, they are for the most part agreed that returning – especially now that they have so promised – is the right decision. Some earnestly believe that showing up is the right thing to do, and the more cynical party members believe that avoiding the trial would have unacceptable costs – If tried in absentia they would surely be convicted, which would harm their reputations even if nobody more powerful than the Rissash family would bother to enforce it.

Having only two nights in Athaash before having to turn back to catch their trial date, the party gets to work early the next morning to make the most of their time. Erkad and Sothet go to taverns frequented by adventurers and academics, respectively, looking for information about fairies and for anyone who might be willing to help with either the fairy or the trial. Erkad meets with little success here, because his pitch is approximately “Who wants to go off to the frontier to intimidate a noble into favorably deciding a trial, which might anger fairies with mind-control powers, in exchange for absolutely no reward but fame?”

In the meanwhile, Ksea goes to speak with the Countess Athaash’s majordomo to try to arrange an introduction. She mentions that she knew the previous countess, which is enough to get her and guests of her choice a dinner audience. Ksea hopes that, as Countess Athaash is the immediate feudal overlady of the Rissash family, getting her on their side may help the party avoid conviction.

Thiet returns to the monastery where he studied and speaks to one of the priestesses there, a woman named Fthithi who recognizes him and is glad to see his return. Thiet explains that it’s only a temporary return, then tells her about the goings-on in Aggatõ and requests sanctuary for Tahâs. Fthithi does not want to interfere with temporal authorities but agrees that the temple can grant him physical and spiritual sanctuary until and unless he is convicted of a crime.

Thiet then goes to the temple library to turn in the etchings that he had collected of the shrine of St. Ggiesi. The monk minding the stacks does not seem happy to see Thiet, although they have never met before. He accepts the etchings, but refuses to let Thiet use the library for research.

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Aggatõ Faerie Tales
In Which the party does some ice sculpting

Upon reaching Aggatõ again, Sothet goes to speak with the Rissash again. Shkihe is still too busy tending to Otat to speak with her, but Etâ does. Sothet informs her of the party’s raid on the small bandit outpost, and that there are two bandits that they captured for trial. Etâ does not think she has the authority to hold a trial, and suspects that her mother will not be willing to take herself away from Otat long enough to do it. Etâ says she will try to arrange to get Shkihe’s permission to act as her proxy and try the bandits, but it might take a week.

When Sothet returns from that, the party decides that the Rissash family is probably going to continue to be useless and decides to handle the prisoners themselves. They speak with Atia, the local priestess of Sovas, goddess of law and war, who is herself empowered to hold a trial. With Atia’s permission, they take their human prisoner for a walk and ask him some questions. Dathus reiterates his previous story about being mind-controlled into banditry, and fails to give a very good description of the supposed mind-controller, but does mention that he had a giant white wolf with him. The party remains skeptical of this story, but the involvement of the wolf suggests that he is not making it up out of whole cloth. Dathus also mentions some details about the bandits’ organization – The mysterious stranger has two lieutenants, Hothi and Chado, who seem hate each other and would probably part ways if not for his influence.

The party then takes the elf prisoner for a walk and asks him questions. He refuses to talk, until the party offers to take him away from here and grant him sanctuary at Thiet’s monastery, where other magical clerics will be able to protect him. Once this offer is made, he tells them everything. He is pretty sure that there is a fairy or demon or something going around mind-controlling people, and, like Dathus, claims to have been forced into banditry by this figure, though he is unable to guess at the creature’s motives. The party thinks it is probably a fairy, because of the other fay-seeming events that have occurred.

Having found the answers they were seeking, the party returns to the temple to retrieve Dathus and take their two prisoners into safer custody. Unfortunately, when they go to get him they find the dwarven priest who was guarding him dead with a dagger in his chest, and Dathus frozen solid. Thiet casts a Detect Magic spell and determines that the dagger was magically transmuted from something else, but finds no more ongoing magic in the area. Frightened, the party goes to warn the rest of town and raise the alarm. They tell Atia, then go together to warn Uskish. When they find Uskish in his office, Thiet notices that Uskish has illusion magic on him. Panicking, Thiet attacks Uskish with a fire spell.

Uskish responds by filling the room with magical darkness that blocks even the enhanced night vision of the party’s half-orcs and half-elves. Fighting in the dark, the party is at a serious disadvantage, but manage to get the upper hand with their superior numbers. When Uskish – or whatever is impersonating him – is slain, he turns into an ice statue. The statue does not resemble Uskish, but does match the description that the elven bandit gave for the mysterious mind-controlling stranger. It also has glowing blue eyes.

The party finds this concerning, and seeks the advice of Koshti on creepy ice-statue disposal. Koshti knows exactly how they should dispose of it – he thinks they should give it to him. Since Sothet owes him a favor for the Find Familiar spell, he decides to call it in for the statue. The party advises Koshti very strenuously against this, pointing out that it might come to life and kill him in his sleep because it is a magical ice statue that was pretending to be a priest and tried to kill them. Koshti eventually finds this convincing, and agrees to let them melt down the statue in the temple fire. Though it does seem incredibly heat-resistant, it eventually melts, apart from the eyes which are a pair of icy cold blue gemstones. When Koshti demands the eyes as his favor, they agree to hand them over.

Sothet goes back up to the Rissash manor and informs them of what just happened. When no immediate response seems forthcoming, she returns to town and the party departs with their prisoner.

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Fretful Days
In which it transpires that violence is the answer to many problems

In the morning, the wolf is still there, awake in the same location as the night before. In the daylight, it is apparent to Sothet (through Fret’s eyes) that there are no footprints in the snow around the wolf. She believes the wolf to be an illusion, but to test she has Fret knock snow from the branches above it. Snow lands on the wolf and it shakes it off and growls at Fret, which disproves the illusion hypothesis and leaves the group Very Concerned. They decide to try to take a slightly steeper route down to the main path and hopefully avoid the wolf, but when they leave the circle of the shrine it moves to intercept them. Most of the group makes a run for it downhill while Erkad moves to try to block the wolf from the rest.

The wolf charges Erkad, though he wounds it with his glaive as it does. The rest of the party turns back to support him from a distance, and injure the wolf more with fire spells, but it exhales an icy blast that brings Erkad to the brink of unconsciousness before they manage to kill it. They decide to have the hide turned into a cloak for Erkad as evidence of his heroism.

When the group returns to Aggatõ, carcass in tow, they announce that they have slain a giant frost-wolf, much to the consternation of the villagers who had no idea that there ever was a giant frost wolf near the town. After arranging to get the pelt tanned, the party decides to rest for the night before heading back up the mountain to deal with the campfire they spotted on their last two climbs.

Before night falls, Sothet goes to speak to the Rissash family. She is welcomed in, as she had no direct part in Otat’s amnesia. Since Shkihe will not leave Otat’s side, Etâ comes meets with Sothet instead. Sothet asks after Otat’s condition, and learns that her memories remain missing, back to the time when Xiratis died. Asking about that, she further learns that Xiratis’ death was not actually confirmed. About ten years ago, Xiratis had taken a walk in the nearby woods, as he was prone to doing, and never returned. When the search for him found no trace, he was presumed dead. After conveying her well-wishes for Otat, Sothet departs.

Sothet leaves Fret behind in the Rissash manor, and later that night directs him to fly around while she looks through his eyes in case there is any clue to be found there to the mysteries of Aggatõ. Unfortunately for this plan, Fret is not a night bird and was not evolved to fly around indoors in pitch darkness, and promptly breaks a wing. Sothet wakes Ero and asks her for help breaking into the manor and rescue Fret. Ero picks the lock on the front door, and the two sneak in. Ero, however, is as incapable of seeing in the dark as Fret, (Though pretending otherwise) and knocks over a vase, only barely managing to catch it before it shattered. Sothet manages to retrieve Fret and she and Ero sneak back out. Sothet then wakes Thiet in the middle of the night to ask him to heal Fret’s wing, but while he can help the healing process along, he cannot mend broken bones in an instant.

The next morning, the party makes the climb for the third time. Upon reaching the camp, they find that there are now five people there. Erkad tries talking to them again but the party quickly concludes that they are bandits and the party attacks and quickly overwhelms the bandits, killing three and taking the other two prisoner. One prisoner—an elf—refuses to say anything, but when the party mentions leniency in exchange for cooperation, the second prisoner—a human who gives his name as Dathus—is willing to talk. Dathus tells the party that he had never intended to be a bandit and was forced into it by a tall, mysterious stranger with mind-control powers. Dathus is not a very good liar and the party is skeptical, but they decide to take the two back to Aggatõ where they can be imprisoned and tried (If any of the Rissash can be bothered to pass judgement)

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The Shrine
In which the party takes another hike

The next day, the party reacquires Sothet, catches her up, and decide to attempt to reach the shrine again, this time being very careful not to split up. Though they see the campfire is still there, they decide to leave it alone for now and deal with it on their way back.

Sothet is spending the hike searching for an animal she can bind as her familiar now that she knows the spell for it. As the party passes through a wooded area, she catches a glimpse of something bright blue out of the corner of her eye. She chases after it, hoping to find some exotic animal. The rest of the group chases after her yelling “Stick together” and see as a blue blur zips across the top of the snow to Sothet and then away, leaving Sothet unconscious and bleeding out into the snow from two stab wounds. Panicking, Thiet runs forward to help her and Ksea sings a magical lullaby which seems to put the blur to sleep. Erkad heads over to the sleeping form to investigate, and Ero shoots it with her bow, killing it.

Investigating the corpse, Erkad finds that it is a blue-skinned humanoid creature, adult-looking and elegantly dressed despite being no larger than a toddler. When she is revived, Sothet is able to determine that the creature is a Fae of some sort, though she can’t identify specifics beyond that. Unsettled, and taught a lesson in caution, the party continues on to the summit.

At the peak they find the shrine, in the middle of a large clearing of trees. The shrine is mostly covered in snow, which Thiet and Sothet promptly get to melting with their magic. The shrine consists of a stonehenge-like broken circle of shoulder-height standing stones, with an altar and a large, engraved standing stone opposite the gap. The large stone marks the site where Saint Ggiesi was granted his divine visions and later buried. Many of the smaller stones have fallen or cracked, so the party works until late in the day to restore the shrine. Though most of the damage can be fixed, some things are missing. The writing engraved into the large standing stone has trace flecks of gold in some of the letters, which leads the group to believe that it was once inlaid and the gold since stolen; In addition, a stone drawer in the altar that likely may have held sacred texts or other relics is empty. In addition to the things missing, the altartop is covered in damp ash, as if a sacrifice was performed here shortly before the blizzard, and there are bootprints in the frozen mud.

The party decides to camp for the night inside the circle of the shrine, rather than risking a descent in the dark. Before going to sleep, Ksea casts a sleep spell on the birds in the nearby trees so that Sothet can capture one to bind as her familiar. Deciding to ignore the owls, she binds a small finch and names it “Fret.”

Shortly after night falls, Erkad – who is taking the first watch – spots what looks like a pair of glowing blue eyes by the treeline. He quickly wakes the rest of the party and points them out. They decide to cast a light spell on an arrow and Ero fires it at a tree near the eyes. With that illumination, Fret flies in close to get a look at it, and through Fret’s eyes Sothet sees a white wolf about the size of a horse, apparently sleeping on the snow. The party debates what to do and decides to go back to sleep and try to make their way past the wolf down the mountain in the morning.

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The Climb
In which the party takes a hike with dire consequences

When the blizzard clears, Ero finishes her journey to Aggatõ. Sothet is still in town, studying under Koshti, but the remainder of the party has at this point returned to Rissash manor to regroup with Ksea. Ero finds them there after talking to Uskish, and together they make a plan to hike up to the shrine today while Sothet studies. On hearing of their plan, Otat Rissash asks to come along, as she often hikes in the nearby woods. When discussing this, the party discovers that the Rissash had no knowledge of the bandits troubling Aggatõ and lose even more respect for their governing abilities. Eventually, the party agrees to take Otat with them, and Shkihe agrees to permit this, so they pick up Uskish and head to the shrine.

About halfway up the mountain path leading to the shrine, the party notices what looks like a campfire on a distant outcropping. Curious, they decide to investigate, leaving Uskish and Otat to wait for them along the trail. When they get close, they decide to send in Erkad alone while the rest of the group hidden and ready to support him from a distance. Erkad approaches and finds a small campsite, with two people huddled by the fire for warmth. On seeing his approach, they draw bows and demand to know his business. Neither the campers nor Erkad are willing to reveal much, so they shout demands at each other for a bit before Erkad decides to leave. Consulting with the rest of the group, Erkad concludes that the two were likely but not certainly bandits and that it seems best to deal with them later.

When the group returns to the main trail, they find only a concerned Uskish, who asks them where Otat is. Otat, he explains, got bored and went to catch up with the party less than ten minutes after they left. Concerned, they try to follow Otat’s footprints. They follow the footprints along the same path the party took for a short distance, to an area where the snow is more widely trampled underfoot. In addition to the party’s prints headed towards the campsite, a single set of footprints leads away in a different direction. They follow those tracks, which wind in confused circles and loops and cross themselves apparently aimlessly until they come across a small cave. Crawling into the cave, they find Otat huddled in the back, naked. Thiet heals her and they give her a coat, then bring her out of the cave and ask her what happened. She seems confused and doesn’t know how she got in the cave – further questioning reveals that she does not in fact remember the party at all.

Now extremely worried, the party decides to abort today’s attempt at the shrine and return to town. When they return Otat home, Shkihe is furious that her daughter came to harm and merely takes Otat in before closing the door in Ksea’s face. In Aggatõ proper, Thiet asks Uskish if he has ever known anything like this to happen before, and if there’s anything else strange that he might have noticed. Uskish says that he has not and did not, but Thiet gets the sense that that, though honest, Uskish is not telling the full story.

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To Aggatõ
In which the party finds a village in desperate need of good governance

Thiet, Sothet, Ksea and Erkad finish their journey to Aggatõ, a small town is nestled along the Ggarthe [ʀarθe] River at the base of the Shatuuhi [ʃatuˈuxi] Mountains. Aggatõ is out of the way, and not particularly well-known in most circles, but Thiet learned about the town in his studies. The town was the birthplace of a prophet of Ggita, and hosts a shrine to that prophet, but has been ignored by the leadership of Ggita’s faith since the plague two centuries ago. Thiet hopes to restore the shrine—or at least recover its sacred relics—as a demonstration of his piety.

Even before Thiet and his companions enter the town, they can tell it has seen better days—the docks are old and worn down, and many of the homes are in similar disrepair. Though most of the buildings are on the north side of the river, a cluster of sturdier, imperial-style buildings decorate the slopes of a hill on the southern bank. Spotting the manor crowning that hill, they decide to go there first, and pay their respects to the local nobility. As they walk through the southern part of the town, a few unmoving elves watch them from windows or from the sides of the streets, but those are the only signs of people they encounter.

When they reach the manor, they are questioned by an elven woman. After they explain their mission and Ksea provides documentation of their heritage, they are welcomed in. The elf introduces herself as Lady Rissash and offers the party hospitality for the duration of their stay. She leads them to some empty rooms, and lets them unpack and relax before the evening meal.

At the meal, Lady Rissash — Shkihe [ʃkehe] — introduces her two elven daughters, Etâ and Otat, and her two human concubines, Iei and Eggo1. In response to questioning by the party, Shkihe reveals that her husband Xiratis [çiɾ’atsit] passed away ten years ago. Over the course of dinner, the party also notices that the entire family speaks in whispers, but do not comment on the fact. This is, of course, perfectly normal for elves, but is remarkable behaviour for the human concubines.

After dinner, the party asks to see the family shrine. They are led into a corner of the greenhouse where small altars have been set up to Sofos [hofot] and Thos, [θot] the Raxak gods of war and catastrophe, respectively.

That night, a blizzard sets in. In the morning, Thiet, Sothet, and Erkad venture into the main part of town to see if they can be of any help to the townsfolk, while Ksea stays behind to talk more with the Rissash and poke around their manor. She finds many signs that the Rissash have been particularly inactive since the death of Xiratis, and have little concern for the citizens under their care.

In the town proper, the party finds the townsfolk gathered in the temple to wait out the weather. Theit heals a few people of blizzard-related injuries, and the group introduces themselves to the local priests, who are the de facto leaders of the community. Uskish, the priest of Ggita, is pleased to learn of Thiet’s quest and offers to accompany him to the shrine when the weather clears. While talking to them, the party learns that the town and trade thereto have been raided by bandits recently, compounding the hardship of recent harsh winters and poor harvests. Sothet finds another wizard, named Koshti, [koʃli] among the townsfolk and asks him to teach her how to bind a familiar.

1 Shut up, it’s Ohi for “Gift” and a very common name and I picked it before I decided on my orthography conventions.

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