Return to Nibenay
The party entered the city-state of Nibenay without any trouble as Delen’s credentials allowed them to bypass much of the bureaucracy. None of the party felt comfortable walking through the city with the Standard and it was decided that they would store the it at Delen’s house. Jarvix felt the most uncomfortable with this plan and attempted to contact the Veiled Alliance in Tyr, hoping to set up a meeting with the local Alliance, which might have a more secure location for the Standard. Oddly, he did not receive a reply from Mathias in Tyr, which left Jarvix very nervous.
Having no better option, they left the Standard and proceeded to the Temple of Trade. There they met with a lower-level templar named Caletta who questioned them about their trip to the Black Spine Mountains. Although she agreed that they fulfilled the letter of their agreement, she was obviously displeased that the source of the unusual gith was not discovered and dealt with. When she was asked about the other templar-wives and Kira, the party was given vague and curt answers. They were simply told that Kira would be busy until after the Starlight Pageant concluded.
Recognizing that they were unlikely to get any better answers, they decided to rest for the remainder of the day and then head out into the city at dusk to experience the Starlight Pageant.
The Starlight Pageant
As the crimson sun fell beneath the horizon, the gates of the sorcerer-king’s sanctuary opened and dozens of female dancers poured into the streets. As they moved down the High Road toward the Reservoir Gardens, crowds of people joined the celebration. At last, amid the pounding drums and blowing horns, they entered the gardens and begin a series of dance performances that were to last until dawn. The various presentations recounted the history of Nibenay and the mysterious ruler who bestowed his own name on the city.
Iorskan and Way-lynn headed to the Kank’s Den where Iorskan knew the drinks would be cheap and the patrons dangerous but useful sources of information. The festivities of the Pageant were in full swing and the pair were caught up in drinking games where Iorskan won some ceramic coins but Way-lynn lost a large wager. Iorskan was able to meet with some of his contacts and found that there was a general glut in artifacts as much of the trade was being diverted away from Raam. During the night thieves attempted to pick their pockets. Way-lynn caught a thief in the act and felt that a punch in the face was fitting punishment, however, Iorskan was not so observant and lost most of his winnings. Way-lynn quickly grew tired of the Pageant and returned to Delen’s house early.
Gwyn and Jarvix headed to a more upscale drinking establishment, the Silty Mug, and proceeded to catch up on the adventures of the group, which Gwyn only had fuzzy memories of. They also discussed the implications of being unable to contact the Alliance in Tyr. The two friends were happy to be in each other’s company, but as the drink flowed, they found themselves participating in drinking games. Each was an accomplished drinker and was able to best their opponents, earning more than enough coins to cover their drinks for the evening. Numerous pick-pockets were in the Silty Mug as well, but neither Gwyn nor Jarvix lost any coins to them. Gwyn was satisfied to send the would-be thief off with an evil look, but Jarvix felt more villainous and used his skills with the Way to dominate the thief.
Elleandra decided to spend some time alone and was swept away with the dancers in the gardens. Along the way she spotted a pick-pocket attempting to rob her and sent him off without turning him in to the Templars. At the gardens, she watched the dancers as they performed intricate maneuvers and told the history of their city-state. She attempted to join in with the performers but was not familiar enough with the dances to participate without mistakes. Although she made many errors, the crowd was mostly forgiving of her mistakes.
Delen did not join his new friends and instead took advantage of the distraction caused by the Pageant to sneak into a number of libraries that were forbidden to him. He had made such expeditions before and was able to sneak past the guards. He spent the majority of the festival night reading in dim light.
Tired from the dancing, Elleandra started to make her way back the Delen’s house when she happened upon a fortune teller. Having an interest in divination, she agreed to have her fortune read. The astrologer told her…
Born in the month of Breeze, under the sign of Hortle the Spider; get organized because later you’re going to be more scattered. If you start with a solid plan for how to tackle the day’s tasks, you’re more likely to accomplish everything. If you don’t remain strong and on task, other people will take advantage of your generous nature. You could end up doing more favors than you would prefer.
Elleandra found the reading to be vague but detected no deceit from the astrologer. Her questions sparked a conversation with the astrologer who was interested in Elleandra’s foreign ways of telling the future. Elleandra performed an augury, with unusual results – an unearthly voice issued forth the following prophecy…
When the brides of death become the marauders of Nibenay, the dead must die, the unsleeping must wake, and the Dragon must stand triumphant.
The meaning of the words was not readily apparent to the fortune teller, or Elleandra, and she decided to tell her companions when then met up with each other.
The Alliance Offer
Gwyn and Jarvix decided to attempt to find the Veiled Alliance in Nibenay on their own and took to starting up a street performance with the unwilling help of Jarvix’s thrall. After locating an ideal spot they started to perform, attempting to strike a balance between showing enough arcane magic to draw the attention of the Alliance, but not so much as to enrage the crowds.
As the night passed, the twin moons of Athas leisurely traced twin arcs across the dark sky. Gradually, Gwyn and Jarvix begin to suspect that they were being watched. A slender man seemed to be watching their performance. His thin features gave him a look of keen intelligence, but his frail physique made it difficult to think of him as a threat.
When the opportunity presented itself, the man approached Gwyn and Jarvix, moving his hand down his face, a common sign of the Veiled Alliance. They discovered that the man, Johrd, was indeed an Alliance operative and was willing to provide some assistance but needed a show of trust before divulging any information to Gwyn and Jarvix.
Johrd told them that a band of elves was bringing a magical object into the city, an object that the Alliance needed to help defend themselves against the attacks of the templar-wives. He told them that any significant gathering of Alliance members would likely be noticed, but that they, as a third party, would have an easier time making contact. Johrd simply wanted them to make contact with the elves in the Hill District at dawn and exchange a pouch of herbs for the magical object and return the object to him.
Gwyn and Jarvix detected no deception from Johrd and agreed to perform the service in exchange for a safe place to hide if needed and additional attempts to contact the Alliance in Tyr. Not wanting to make the rendezvous by themselves, they went to Delen’s house and met with their friends. All agreed to help make the exchange and they caught a few hours of rest before heading to the infamous Hill District.
As the sun began to lighten the eastern sky, the time came to carry out their mission for Johrd. Moving quickly through the crowds of celebrants, they arrived at the alley where the elves were supposed to appear. While they waited the inspected the pouch of herbs and found them to be Nahre Lotus, magical plants that can satisfy an individual’s daily need for water.
The elves arrived on time and produced a canvas sack, containing a large crystal. The exchange happened as expected and, as the elves turned to leave, a team of templars dropped from the surrounding rooftops and attacked. The elves fled without a word and the templars did not appear interested in apprehending them. The fight was brutal but quick and in the end nine templars lay at the feet of the party.
Delen was horrified at the consequences of their actions and urged them to get away from the scene as quickly as possible. The party split up and headed out in different directions, with Gwyn and Jarvix making their way to the meeting with Johrd. They were relieved to find him safe and recounted their encounter with the templars. Johrd took the crystal and agreed to try and contact the Alliance in Tyr and help cover up the bodies in the Hill District. Promising to be in contact, Gwyn and Jarvix left and returned to Delen’s house.
The party woke late in the morning the following day and spent the day around the city on various tasks. Delen, still shaken by his part in the death of the templar-wives, made arrangements to sell most of his belongings, in preparation for a quick escape from the city if needed. Most of the other party members acquired traveling supplies.
Gwyn returned to the Hill District and made contact with her elf tribe, the Sky Singers. Her family was not currently in town. However some of her extended family was and they agreed to pass on messages to Gwyn’s father and sisters.
The party made a trip to the Temple of Thought, hoping to find out more information on Kira and perhaps a way to sneak her out of the city sooner than expected. At the temple they were kept waiting for a long time and were eventually greeted by Kadya, a assistant to Siemhouk. She provided no new information about Kira, simply stating that she was going to be occupied until the end of the festival. Delen was visibly panicked during the exchange and Kadya appeared to notice.
As the sun set, the party made their way to the Pageant once again and tried to act normally, despite a collective unease. Iorskan and Way-lynn participated in games of strength and were more successful than not, earning money to pay for the traveling supplies. Delen and Elleandra participated in games of skill and were also very successful. Gwyn and Iorskan had their fortunes read and were generally unimpressed with the astrologers words of wisdom…
Jarvix, you were born in the month of Sorrow, under the sign of Scratch the Basilisk; unexpected people, especially women, will surprise you with what they say. Be open to ideas that you hadn’t even considered. Perhaps your emotions get stirred when you recall something that a significant woman in your life said. Your feelings are bouncing from your heart to your head and back again. Take the feelings into account, but don’t let them dominate your decisions.
Gwyn, you were born in the month of Bloom, under the sign of Pyrus the Wheel; you’re at an emotionally climactic time, and your feelings are erratic and perhaps unmanageable. Don’t feel pressured into making logic out of anything. Your job is to take a deep breath and relax. Remember that life is an exciting adventure full of twists and turns. Erratic emotions are a reminder of that. Enjoy the ride.
Suddenly, the evening sky was shattered by a brilliant blue flash. Without warning, a tremendous fork of lightning sprung from the Naggaramakam, Nibenay’s mysterious citadel at the center of the city. It raced across the sky, unleashing a deafening roar of thunder in its wake. With a great explosion the lightning slammed into the Plain of Smoking Waters south of the city, sending a great shudder through the earth and causing a great cloud of sparkling steam to rise up into the twilight sky.
The ground heaved and buckled. Cracks ripped across the land, forming a great lattice work of fissures, and through these burst clouds of scalding, white steam. Buildings swayed and rocked, wells crackle and shattered, towers collapsed in greet explosions of stone. The cheerful sounds of the Starlight Pageant faded away, the din replaced by screams of agony, torment, and fear.