The Four Outcasts

Finding Luna
Just Keep Searching

As Aquila and Morrigan strolled down the winding roads leading from Santim’s East gate towards the Valerius Farm, they were waylaid by Garmog and a panicked Mortain who had caught up with them. Mortain delivered the news he had just learned; Luna was gone, or more accurately, had been taken during their absence, some nights previously from Uriel’s Sceptre Inn.

The innkeeper had been able to describe the men that took her. Mortain recognised the description of the unicorn symbol bourn by two Angherse Knights of House Alcarin, although didn’t recognise the men themselves. It seemed Frederick had been able to locate them, and had sent his men to retrieve his sister. With them, Mortain learned, were three others. An Elf, a Halfling, and an old warrior. Garmog theorised that these three sounded like a group of old-fashioned adventurers, perhaps hired to assist in the mission.

While Morrigan went to purchase supplies, and Aquila continued to his home, Garmog accompanied Mortain around Santim’s city gates, in the hope of finding further information from any guards who may have seen this group leaving with Luna. After being brushed off a few times, they eventually had a stroke of luck when one guard told them he had indeed seen such a party leave the city through the West gate mere hours after he watched them enter that same way. With them as they departed was an upset looking woman they hadn’t entered with.

Armed with this news, and knowing time was off the essence, they returned to Aquila’s home. Mortain hoped Aquila would be able to pull some strings with Magister Tulio Romarso and secure them access to the teleportation ring they had used previously. Meeting Morrigan along the road heading the same way, they came to Aquila’s house and saw him investigating the ground in the yard where the previous week Garmog and Aquila had burned the corpse of The Fool. By way of explanation, Aquila informed them Juliana had been frightened by mysterious goings-on around the property, to the extent she had felt the need to leave in the night with the children and seek protection from her brother Marius.

A sinister voice interrupted the conversation, and as if out of nowhere, a frightening presence manifested in their midst. A man by appearance, but carrying a deathly aura, his visage seemed to darken the daylight around them and the air became cold. Introducing himself as Arkarel, Scion of Orcus, he explained that he had been watching the party with interest, as they had unknowingly disrupted his plans, before showing them an apparition of the Fool. Mortain deduced that this Arkarel must have been the Fool’s patron referred to by Ren, who had given him his powers. Arkarel confirmed this and proceeded to offer Mortain a deal.

Arkarel told Mortain that he had foreseen Luna’s imminent death at Frederick’s hands, and that he, Arkarel, possessed the power to prevent this. In return he offered Mortain a mysterious but beautiful blood red coin, as well as impressive arcane power, under the condition that Mortain continue to kill as he had done before. Mortain seemed to be tempted, with Arkarel going so far as to demonstrate his own power by silencing Morrigan and shattering her staff when she spoke up against him. Mortain ultimately resisted the offer, even when Arkarel told him the refusal would seal Luna’s fate. Mortain told him he would not be a servant of evil, and that he would find and save Luna himself. Arkarel, enraged, disappeared into the ether.

This situation was enough for Aquila to decide that the farm was no longer safe for his family and decided that they would go to Santim and stay with his parents who owned a blacksmith shop in the trade district.

The party set off and soon reached Santim’s trade district where Valerius Steel was located. As Aquila reunited with his parents and filled them in on everything that had happened since they last met, Garmog spied the Half-Orc stable master he had met previously. He struck up conversation with him, despite the stable master’s belligerence. When Garmog asked about the fate of orcs in Balta, the other stated he held no love for orcs. Garmog disagreed, citing his father’s vision for Azaroth and making a passionate defence of the idea that orcs and half-orcs could and should be one people, free from the machinations of Gruumsh. The other, hearing this, asked Garmog’s name, even though it seemed he already suspected Garmog’s identity. When he learned that Garmog was indeed Azaroth’s exiled chief, he introduced himself as Bradak and offered his friendship. He explained that he fled Azaroth several years ago to escape the tyrannical regime of Ikkol. He informs Garmog that Ikkol polices his people without mercy with the help of his lieutenants, specifically two fierce brutes known as the Brothers Grim. Bradak tells Garmog that when he chooses to go home and reclaim Azaroth, that Bradak would be his ally.

At this point, with Aquila having finished speaking with his father, the party set off to speak with Magister Tulio. Arriving at the Imperial Quarter, they requested an audience with Tulio, but were turned away at the gate by guards, who explain that the Magister has requested not to be interrupted. Undeterred, the party insisted on seeing Tulio, but the guards were persistent. Eventually, after being intimidated by Garmog, one guard conceded to go and announce their presence. Instead of Tulio, it was another man who emerged from the Oficium Magistrate. A grizzled old Baltan warrior, an ex-legionary to Aquila’s eye, he stood and coolly glared at the group, apparently wordlessly declining their request of an audience.

At this point, Magister Tulio himself emerged with another man. Aquila immediately recognised Captain Satius Mereto, the swine who had sullied his name and stolen his title. Tulio paid no heed to the party, instead merely whispering something to the grizzled old warrior. As Mereto strode off with his men, his eyes met Aquila’s, and before taking his leave, the Captain gave a superior smile. Enraged, Aquila stormed away back down the hill. The rest of the party remained, attempting to persuade the guards, and the old veteran, to allow them audience with Tulio. When the guards attempted to shove Morrigan away, Garmog was incensed, and struggled once again to contain his inner rage. The old veteran seemed to be attempting to goad them into a fight, but after close consideration, they thought better of it, much to the apparent satisfaction of the old veteran.

The party reunited with Aquila at the bottom of the hill, and discussed their next move. During this conversation, Morrigan was convinced she saw some passers-by point to the group, speaking in hushed tones. Mortain proposed they travel at once to Serracia, where he believed Luna would have been taken. Returning to the trade district, Mortain hired a stagecoach and made other preparations for the journey. He convinced Garmog, and with some difficulty, Morrigan, to accompany him once again to rescue Luna. Aquila however would not be moved, adamant to protect his family. Leaving their Baltan friend behind, Morrigan, Garmog, and Mortain set off out of Santim, travelling west to Serracia.

The journey wasn’t to be uneventful. An hour or into the journey, in the dead of night, the stagecoach came upon a crashed carriage at the side of the road. As they investigated the crash, they sprung a trap from a group of would-be assassins, lying in wait by the roadside. Although outnumbered, the three were able to fight their way out of danger, thanks in no small part to Morrigan’s magic. Noticing that their driver had made his escape, the party believed this trap was left specifically for them. They couldn’t be sure whether these men were merely opportunistic bandits, part of a trap left behind for them by Luna’s kidnappers, or even assassins sent by Magister Tulio. One thing they did decide was that Aquila must be warned of the danger, and when they came to the next town they sent word back via a messenger, warning their friend that nobody was to be trusted.

Travelling with great haste, taking turns pushing the horses to their limits, the three pressed on to Serracia, knowing the odds were against them. As they went, so their messenger hurried back to Santim’s trade district and found Aquila, rousing him from his bed to deliver his friends’ warning. Perturbed by what he read, Aquila decided to try once again to visit Magister Tulio to seek whatever aid he could from his only ally in the city. He did so the next day, but was turned away once more by the intimidating veteran who acted as Tulio’s bodyguard. Aquila learned from a guard at the gate that Tulio was in grief over the loss of his brother, and Aquila realised that the man they had been unable to save from the Glittering Caves was the Magister’s brother, explaining his shock upon their return. Aquila returned to Valerius Steel and drafted a letter, offering his condolences for what happened, and expressing his sorrow he couldn’t have prevented it. He sent a messenger off with his letter and waited, hoping.

Later that night, Aquila answered a knock on the door of Valerius Steel to find the old veteran standing there. He bluntly instructed Aquila to follow, and Aquila obliged. Expecting to be led to Tulio’s offices, Aquila was surprised to find the Magister standing in a quiet courtyard nearby. Tulio apologised for his recent reticence, and told Aquila he didn’t blame the party for the death of his brother. He also eased Aquila’s mind over the meeting he had with Satius Mereto, explaining it was merely official business as part of his regular meetings with all of Santim’s Legion Captains. Aquila expressed his view that he didn’t trust Mereto and believed he was pawn of some larger plot, meaning that someone in a position of power in Balta wasn’t to be trusted. Tulio agreed with Aquila’s view that Seneschal Vicis was the likely suspect. Tulio explained that he had been of a like-minded view for some time, and told Aquila to rest easy that he had men he could trust working to expose whoever was responsible. Tulio also introduces, and apologises for the approach of, his intimidating ally, Jacius Lucinion.

As this unfolded, so did days of travel for the rest of the party. Arriving in the city of Serracia, they made their way to the harbour, a hive of mid-morning activity. The Harbourmaster quickly grew tired of their vague questioning and lack of information, and was unable to provide insight into whether the kidnappers had passed through, let alone departed. Thanks to teamwork and magical subterfuge, they were able to distract the disgruntled man and steal the appropriate page from his log for further study.

Asking around the local shops, they eventually found a welcome clue. One shop-keep recognised the description of the three travellers accompanying the Alcarin knights, and was even able to remember their names, Phantasm and Longshot, due to their unusual nature. However, the woman said she had seen these two several days before, implying that they would be long-gone by now. Regardless, the three were spurred on by the clue. Exiting the store, Mortain’s attention was drawn towards a side alley, away from the crowded thoroughfare, though he was not sure why. Unable to resist the urge, he cautiously made his way down the alley to be met once again by Arkarel.

Arkarel repeated his earlier ‘tale of woe’ concerning Luna’s death, warning that that the sand of time was running out quickly for her. He reissued his offer, further showing Mortain through abrupt visions the type of arcana power he could offer him. As Arkarel offered the red coin once more, Mortain struggled to resist, gripped with desperation to save Luna. As he reached his hand out to accept the coin, he was able to repel the desire at the last moment, and retreated from the alley. Arkarel left him with the promise he would return with his offer one final time, which would be Mortain’s final chance to save Luna before her time ran out.

The three decided to head to the large inn by the harbour to see if the proprietor had any information on the peculiarly named travellers or the Alcarin knights. The innkeeper didn’t have any knowledge of the group, but when asked if he knew of anyone that had knowledge of such goings-on within the city, he advised that a local Advocat was known for being such a man, well-versed in business both ‘official, and less official’. They waited for the Advocat who was a regular in the inn, and soon he arrived. He introduced himself as Cailus, and for a hefty fee he was able to provide a great deal of information on the travellers. Phantasm and Longshot, he told them, are part of a group of famous adventurers known as The Regulators, also known as the Summermount Adventurers Guild. The older Angherse warrior with them goes by the name of Youngblood, or Oldguard. Cailus, showing why he has his reputation, was able to quickly work out the party, cannily identifying their purpose. He warned that while the Regulators were involved, their cause would be near hopeless. He bid them good luck, instructing them to call upon him if ever they were in the city again.

Feeling deflated, the three were unsure what to do next. Having been unable to find any clues on the page stolen from the Harbourmaster’s log, it sat discarded to the side as they tried to think of any idea. By sheer chance, while lost in thought, Garmog happened to spy a name on the page they had previously overlooked. ‘Fyste’, he remembered, was the name of the fat merchant Aquila had been posing as in Silverhill. The ship registered to Fyste Enterprise was destined for Port Venture, and had set off two days before. With renewed energy and purpose, the party made hasted for the harbour where they secured the services of a hubristic Tarsusian captain by the name of Siverio Assos. Siverio assured them that his ship, The Acasta, was as swift as any vessel in the world.

The Acasta was made ready to sail, leaving just enough time for Morrigan to be accosted by a familiar merchant, from whom she purchased, and was disappointed by, a magical ring. Soon their ship was ready and the party boarded. As they did so, they shared a reluctance to say goodbye; not to Balta, but to their friend Aquila with whom they had been through so much in so short a time. Knowing that they had to go to prevent Arkarel’s tale of woe from coming to pass, and hoping they would see Aquila again, the Acasta swept out of Serracia Harbour towards the Bornian Ocean, and towards whatever awaited them in Port Venture.

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Unfortunate Beginnings.
So close yet so far for Garmog. From bad to worse for Tomas. A sour turn for Aquila.

The slaver ship Gannet sails due south from the Tarsusian port of Cansante. The ship carries a cargo of 45 slaves bound for Klerus, to be purchased by the Tiefling Viscount Malchar. The vessel captained by Tarsusian slaver Antos Topa, makes this identical trip at least twice per year. They reach the Isle of Nichon, one day behind schedule due to adverse weather.
A small enough vessel to dock in Nichon’s deep harbour, the Gannet does so, allowing easy loading and unloading of additional cargo. They are watched from a distance by the crew of the Star of Celestia, a galleon of the Baltan Imperial Navy. The vessel is captained by Oppius Juniusaeius, however commanding the voyage is Captain Aquila Valerius, the renowned hero of the Baltan Imperial Legion. Valerius, along with a small cadre of around 30 of his legionaries as well as the Celestia’s crew.
Following a much heralded crackdown of slavers in Balta’s waters, Valerius, arguably the most celebrated soldier in the Legion, had been charged with the pursuit and apprehension of the Gannet, and specifically the capture of Antos Topa and as much of his crew as possible. A propaganda exercise as much as anything else, Valerius supposed, but his was not to question orders, his was to execute them.
The Celestia sat at anchor in the Sen lei strait, far away enough that it would not be in view of the island. Having witnessed the late arrival of the Gannet, Valerius set out in a rowboat towards the island. Wearing civilian clothes so as to go unnoticed, Valerius would assess the situation as was his method, before signalling his men to move in when the time was right.
As the captain and some of his crew disembarked the Gannet to stretch their legs, inboard the cargo of slaves remained chained up. Also chained were those slaves who weren’t for sale in this particular transaction, instead charged with manning the ships oars. Garmog was one such unfortunate. A hulking half-orc of some seven feet tall, as ferocious and proud a creature as one could find anywhere in Calmandis. Circumstance and fate have him here, imprisoned and forced to row, chained like a beast. Not one to accept his lot, Garmog sensed this as an opportunity for escape, and intended to take it.
Garmog sat to starboard, manning the foremost oar, meaning he was close to the stairs leading to the deck. He could see that many of the crew had gone ashore. Now was the time. His chains connected him to an iron peg on the ship’s floor, but they also connected him to two other slaves, such was the configuration of the chains. He could allow these two wretches a chance at escape too, and presented his plan in a manner that would ensure the two would follow his lead. Taking his chance, he grabbed the passing slaver sentry and pulled him to the ground, beating him bloody. Taking the keys from the slaver he quickly found the right one and unlocked the padlock from the hook on the ground, before locating a smaller key which freed himself from his two associates.
He ushered them up the stairs and followed. Two sentries were deeper within the bowels of the ship, guarding the slaves in the hold. Garmog wasted no time in engaging his captors. Antos Topa as well as his first mate, the ship’s boson and a small number of his crew were about business on the dock. A fight ensued, one that had been building within Garmog for some time. Engaging the first mate with a shortsword he had picked up from the sentry, he didn’t find the weapon to his liking, wishing instead he had his great maul to hand. Garmog came to realised that his fellow escapees were less helpful than he’d hoped, one of them going so far as to knock Garmog from the gangway into the harbour in a misguided attempt at tackling the first mate.
By now this scene was causing quite a commotion, attracting onlookers around the docks. One such onlooker was the Angherse Tomas Mortain, far from home. The circumstances surrounding Mortain’s fall from grace from celebrated knight into the service of travelling merchants aren’t fully known, but suffice to say the life of a travelling bodyguard cum dogsbody was a far cry from the life of comfort he had led in the court of the Lord Alcarin. His rise to prominence in Angherst had been impressive, certainly for a rumoured bastard.
Regardless of how he got there and however unlikely the circumstance, Mortain found himself present at this particular incident, and was not one to shy away from involvement. He came onto the scene as Garmog the half-orc pulled himself from the water to be confronted by a rapier wielded by Topa’s first mate, a willowy but vicious man whose name is unknown. Any confusion Mortain and the other onlookers may have had as to what was unfolding was put to rest as Garmog bellowed the nature of his escape to those around him, perhaps in the hope of assistance from those around him. Unfortunately, this was Nichon, a wretched hive of scum and villainy, and those who gathered to watch the episode were presumably more interested in blood sport.
As first thought, the other two slaves Garmog had freed proved to be little to no use at all in the fray, the panicked one was able to escape towards the island after himself taking a dip in the bay courtesy of the captain, and the other was apprehended and beaten within mere moments. It was good fortune for Garmog, then, that fate had given him not one, but two unlikely slivers of hope. Mortain would not stand idly by as this unfolded, it wouldn’t be right. Nor would Aquila Valerius, a man who lived and died by an impervious code of honour. That these men would happen upon this scene in the most unlikely of places, far from their homes truly is an unbelievable happening. It seemed that fate was offering Garmog a light after years of darkness.
Valerius arrived on the scene mere moments after Mortain, and didn’t take long to set about in assisting Garmog in his attempt to dispatch the crew of the Gannet. As Garmog grappled with the first mate at the far end of the promenade, the two fighters began cutting their way towards Topa himself. The two were strangers, unaware of one another’s intentions, but fought with a common purpose and surprising synchronicity. Having already slew the ship’s imposing boson, Mortain reached Topa and struck a heavy blow, wounding the captain severely. Valerius needed him alive, and instructed the Angherse to leave the captain to him. Mortain was of course unsure of this mysterious Baltan’s purpose, but he sensed the compelling tone with which the instruction was given and obliged. As Mortain continued fighting his way down the quay, largely unharmed from the Tarsusian style of swordplay thanks to his half plate armour, the Baltan captain successfully managed to incapacitate Topa, alive albeit mortally wounded.
Before long it seemed the three unlikely allies had managed to overcome the odds and the crew of the Gannet lay dead or dying along the quay. However, they would not have time for celebration. Just as Valerius made to move to signal his men, down the beach stormed some twenty-five or so slaver reinforcements; those crew members from the Gannet who had went ashore for refreshment as well as a number of others they had roused. Sensing defeat when victory and freedom had been so close was too much for Garmog, who had mortally wounded the first mate. In full view of the oncoming slavers he let out a mighty bellow and executed the man. Only Antos Topa himself lived of those that had faced the three, but these new odds were too much to overcome and Mortain and Valerius found themselves joining Garmog back in the hold of the Gannet.

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