With their rescued prisoner in tow, the party returned to the Black Codex camp. Gronn made his report to Claudia, who once again criticized his competence and intelligence. Marik and Gronn retorted that they at least accomplished what she couldn’t, to which she seemed to have no reply.
The party then traveled back to the City of Whitestar using a Teleportation Circle that had been cast on the camp. They found themselves in the basement of the Black Codex Guildhall, and climbed the stairs to the city.
As they reached the street, they noticed people lined up on the sides of the street down the Street of Stars, the main street that runs east to west through Whitestar. A funeral procession made its way slowly down the street – soldiers marching in time to a steady, solemn drum beat. A young noble on a horse, carrying a flag with the Whitestar family sigil on it, led the procession, and behind him was an open casket where an aging knight had been laid to rest with his sword grasped in his hands. His armor was covered in purple dragons.
The party learned that the knight was known as Sir Theobald Remfrey, a decorated knight born from a noble family in Whitestar. He had been off fighting a war in the south, but the war was over now, and he had been returning home. No one knew what had caused his death.
The procession proceeded down the street toward the temple, and the party decided not to pursue the mystery further, partially due to bad experiences at the temple in the past.
After that, they went their separate ways.
Gronn first confronted Garvan with the news of the potential vampire plot detailed in the letter he had found. Garvan agreed it was disturbing news, but was of the opinion that it wasn’t their concern, and that perhaps those plans had been disrupted by killing the vampire. Garvan dismissed him and promised him updates on the excavation of the Machinist Palace. Gronn left, but remained unsure of the potential threat to the city.
Marik elected to visit the fighting pits with the intention of recruiting members for a new guild. He ended up running into an acquaintance, Kung, who had just finished easily dispatching his Bronze level opponent in the arena. Marik invited Kung to join his guild and the party, giving him the set of crimson armor they had found in the vampire’s lair.
The two warriors had barely finished discussing it when Svasek, the Pit Master, declared that one of the combatants of the scheduled Silver rank fight had not shown up. The Jade Assassin was meant to fight Grim John, but was nowhere to be found. Svasek sized up Marik and asked if he’d be willing to fight in the Jade Assassin’s place, and Marik readily agreed and stepped into the ring.
The rest of the party watched from a balcony seat with Lucas, their merchant drinking buddy, and Elistine, the half-elf recruiter. As they watched the fighters enter the ring, Elistine revealed that Grim John was a brutal, ruthless fighter who had killed the last three fighters pitted against him. She covered her eyes, unable to watch.
Meanwhile, Marik strode into the ring, where he was approached by Luccio, the announcer and jester of the arena. Luccio asked him what his name was, as Silver ranked participants generally start developing personas at this level. Marik struggled for a few moments, rejecting Luccio’s proposed title of “The Horny Devil”. Marik finally declared that he would be known as “The Demon of Light”. With that, Luccio announced the beginning of the fight.
Grim John was a tall, heavily muscled fighter who wore only furs and carried a battle axe. His head was clean shaven and his body covered in tribal tattoos.
A tense battle ensued. Grim John attacked relentlessly, with Marik just barely managing to knock aside Grim John’s heavy axe blows with his shield. Marik found openings in the unarmored warrior’s defenses and his sword crackled and thundered with divine energy, sending off flashes and waves of light, becoming true to his chosen name. As the wounds began to pile up on Grim John, he flew into a vicious rage and threw Marik to the ground. Marik got up and continued his assault, eventually landing a thundering smite that sent Grim John sprawling to the ground, where he didn’t move again.
Marik was declared the winner and promoted to Silver ranked fights from that day forward. He also gained Lucas Orsmith as a patron.
After this exciting fight, Tryxie and her drow friend went shopping. Entering a herbalist’s shop, they ran into a familiar face – Vinn Rivers, the Thieves’ Guild enforcer. He pulled his sword immediately, but backed down from the confrontation. Together, they also grabbed an expensive dinner as reward for their successful mission, listening to the rumors of drunk castle guards as they enjoyed their meal.
Some of the rumors included:
“My cousin swears he saw a demon drinking in the Brass Flask the other night. Big leathery wings, horns, dark red skin. Just sat down and ordered a tankard of stout.”
“Did ya know the Town of Witchfield was ransacked by Orcs a few weeks ago? They say Lord Blackstone’s daughter is mysteriously pregnant now. Probably with an Orc Baby. Won’t that be a laugh, raising a half-orc bastard in a noble’s castle?”
“Heard about Lord Whitestar’s new mistress? Apparently he’s taken up with a young Silver Elf, not even 30 years old. She’s practically a child!”
After an exciting first day back home, the party met back at Lord Blackstone’s estate. They found that Aldebrande had broken in and taken up residence in their absence. He shared what he had discovered going through his old notebooks. It was his belief that the Orb of the Ancients and the Master Key were one and the same, and became irritated when Gronn questioned this, as Garvan had dismissed it as farfetched. He also revealed that the entrance to the dungeon that housed the Orb of the Ancients would be protected by a door that required powerful sorcery to open – sorcery that Aldebrande had access to.
After this, Aldebrande retired for the night, though it was still daylight outside.
Marik had brought Kung back to them, and in the course of explaining what had happened so far, the party got to discussing the possible vampire threat – especially the part of Tarsus’s letter that implied he had contacts inside the city. Gronn decided that they needed to get a message to Lord Whitestar – but the gate to the upper city was closed to non-nobles. They also had to deal with the possibility that the message could be intercepted and tip off Tarsus’s allies.
Gronn racked his brain for a possible magical solution to the dilemma, and through his knowledge of the arcane remembered that there were spells that could make writing invisible except to the intended recipient. He woke Aldebrande from his slumber, who knew the spell and agreed to cast it once prepared.
The party now had a plan to root out the potential enemies to Whitestar. Will it be successful? Find out the next episode of D&D – Whitestar Campaign!