Return to Tyr
After a few days of much needed rest, the companions decided to return to Tyr ahead of the first shipment of obsidian from Kled. It had been too long since they left the city and everyone was keenly interested to learn the outcome of the recent war with Urik. The dwarves supplied them with fresh food and water and reminded them of their promise to keep the secret of Kemalok.
Before departing Gwyn was given a magnificent platinum tiara as a gift for her translation of the Book of Kemalok Kings. The crown was imbued with magic that allowed her to retain the knowledge of the ancients, according to the dwarves. Kelvor was given a ancient steel shield of the Knights of Kemalok to defend himself and his allies. Morg was allowed to keep the Axe of Rkard and was given the title of Knight of Kemalok. Elleandra had recovered the orb used by Maetan Lubar and had begun to unlock her talents with the Way.
The four day trip from Kled to Tyr was uneventful during their march through the stony badlands and sandy wastes at the foothills of the Ringing Mountains. Along the road, they met no travelers and began to fear the worst. When Tyr came into view, they stopped to try and observe the state of the city. To their pleasant surprise the banners of the free city could be seen and all looked normal.
Not seeing anything to fear the group made the journey to the Caravan Gate and awaited their turn to be admitted into the city. As they waited they drew many stares for they were clearly no ordinary travelers with their steel weapons and exotic armor. The group was reminded just how far they had come since last leaving the city. As they were allowed to enter, they paid their fees with a single gold metal coin, a rare sight in Tyr, or any other city.
Eager to find out what had transpired in their absence, the group split up and began to learn as much as they could. They all agreed to meet at the end of the day at Free City Tattoo to share what they had uncovered. The tattoo parlor was opened and Gwyn gave Elleandra a tattoo similar to the ones they had received from the halflings of the Forest Ridge. The Veiled Alliance had become more open, following Gwyn’s suggestion and their participation in the war against Urik had given them some popular support. Gwyn was able to make contact with Jarvix from the Veiled Alliance, who the group shared their tales with. Although he was unable to answer all their questions he agreed to set up a meeting that night with Kivrin at an alliance safe house.
They learned that war with Urik initially went well and the army was able to turn back the forces of Urik before they were able to lay siege to the city. A few days after the heroes left the army marched forth under the command of Rikus. He led them into the plains and surprised the Urikites with their numbers and ferocity. The main army was routed with some of the survivors fleeing to regroup at Kled while the others returned to Urik. Rikus, a former slave in Urik, pursued the forces to the city walls. Emboldened by his victory he lead the army to assault the city itself. Although skilled, he was no match for Hamanu and the few survivors could not tell of his fate, only that they last saw him fighting the sorcerer-king.
Merric was able to arrange brief meetings with several key individuals of the city, attempting to tie up several loose ends. Quick Wenzer, one of the few survivors of the attack on Urik, confirmed the rumors of Rikus’ death at the hands of Hamanu. Wenzer was not actively trying to recruit and train new members for the Tyrian Guard. Master Sintha was pleased and surprised to hear of the upcoming shipment of obsidian from Kled and promised to send a unit of guards to escort the caravan safely to Tyr. Much of the economic turmoil within the city had settled following the war, but the iron mines had yet to fully open making the future of the city uncertain. Agis was pleased to see that the companions had survived their ordeals and was happy to report the the Cistern of Aravek was supplying the city with much needed water. He reported that the king, Tithian, was increasingly absent from city meetings and that the Council of Advisors was starting to push through laws without his approval. No one knews what was occupying Tithian’s time.
Morg went out of his way to contact Castri’s former friend Karlen and inform him of his treachery and loss. Karlen was sad to hear that his friend had succumbed to the temptations of power. He also mentioned that Castri’s mother had been by looking for him shortly after they had left the city. He promised to inform her of the loss of her son.
Kelvor spent some of that afternoon learning of the history of the Ziggurat and the fall of Kalak. He heard the stories of Kalak’s mad desire to complete the Ziggurat nearly bankrupting the city. He learned of the gladiatorial games held on the day of its completion where virtually the entire city attended and was subsequently locked in the area. He heard the stories of terrible magic drawing forth the life of the spectators. He heard how Sadira, Agis, Rikus and Tithian fought the sorcerer-king, killing him inside the Ziggurat after driving him from the arena.
After meeting up at Free City Tattoo and exchanging what they had learned, the entire group left for the Veiled Alliance safe house and a meeting with Kivrin and Jarvix. Each of the heroes was hoping that their questions would be answered at this meeting. Kelvor was hoping that Kivrin might provide him with more knowledge regarding the Crown of Dust. Jarvix had promised to look into the strange Fey Engine that had been discovered in Elleandra’s home, the Land Within the WInds. Merric was hoping the the mysterious sword they had recovered might have some of its secrets revealed. Morg simply wanted his original axe back.
They arrived at the safe house a little early and while they were waiting for Kivrin and Jarvix, the pondered over the rumors of the upcoming levy to the Dragon. The annual event would be the first when the city would not pay the tribute of 1000 slaves since Kalak came to power several thousand years ago. There was a certain amount of fear regarding the consequences of not paying the levy and without a sorcerer-king to defend them, the threat of Urik was but a fond memory.
Jarvix and Kivrin became severely late, something that was quite out of the ordinary for a Veiled Alliance meeting. Just as the group was deciding to investigate, the wood and leather door burst forth and a group of humans and half-giants started to come into the room. Sounds of serious conflict could be heard once the magically warded doors were opened. Somehow the safe house had been compromised!
A vicious battle ensued with the companions temporarily trapped in the safe house. One of the humans made no secret of his defiling ways, withering the plants in the room with each spell he cast. Vinara made a mighty thrust with her spear, a burst of primal power trailing after it. The spear struck true, leaving a mortal wound in his chest. Focusing her mind through the obsidian orb, Elleandra unleashed a psychic assault on the half-giants, the intensity of the attack weakening their defenses.
Although the combat was intense, the battle-hardened heroes were able to easily dispatch their attackers. It was only after the fight was over did they realize that Merric was nowhere to be found. They recalled him moving about the room to attain an advantageous position near Vinara, but after that he disappeared. Vinara quickly realized that the seed from the Tree of Life was missing. They all concluded that Merric had betrayed them and taken the seed for his own purposes, whatever they might be.
As they exited the safe house, the group saw the extent of the conflict in the city. It looked as if the entire district was on fire with total chaos in the streets. Numerous other groups of marauders could be seen moving through the streets. There was no sign of Merric.