Early in the morning, a message arrived for the party, waking them from their slumber in Lord Blackstone’s manor. The message was from the Chief Steward of Starfall castle, and invited the adventurers to petition the Lord Whitestar in open court. They began to make plans for their trip to the castle.
As they planned, they received another guest – the Black Codex man they had rescued from the Vampire’s Lair came to pledge his services to them as thanks for saving his life. As an accomplished wizard, the party believed the gold elf would be a valuable ally. He clarified that he was indebted to them, but would not be a slave.
The party decided that the occasion called for clothes fit for the nobility. They stopped at a clothes shop run by a Half-Orc named Jeshevo, who agreed to outfit them in his finest.
Now equipped for the battles ahead, the party approached the gate to the Starfall district, the stretch of land on top of the cliff overlooking the city. As they saw a carriage pass through the portcullis, they lamented not buying one themselves. They decided to press on despite this blow to their prestige.
They presented their Writ of Passage to the guard captain at the gate, who immediately called for a dozen guards to surround them. “For your protection,” he growled. The party was just relieved that they were not being arrested, and allowed their escorts to accompany them as they passed through the gate. They began to ascend the long, narrow, winding path up the Starfall cliffs, the sounds and smells of the lower city fading away with every step. At the top of the cliff, they could see the surrounding land for miles.
Eventually they passed through another gate – a more decorative one – and found themselves staring at large manors with beautiful architecture, overgrown by vines. Everything seemed clean and orderly, and guards patrolled the streets at regular intervals. Most of the manors put Lord Blackstone’s to shame, and they began to feel that, though their lot had improved much, they might not be as rich as they thought they were.
Eventually they came to the castle, where a Castle Guard told them that weapons were not allowed in the Lord’s court unless they’ve been granted special permission. The party was thus disarmed and allowed through the door.
The party entered the imposing castle and found themselves in a long throne room, waiting for Lord Whitestar. The warlock and the cleric immediately made their way to the buffet, rejecting all niceties of the court to the embarrassment of the rest of the party. They were greeted by a woman in a white dress, who introduced herself as Birgitte Whitestar. She advised them to pass the others off as servants, as the nobility tended to draw conclusions based on appearances.
Before long, a balding man announced that Lord Whitestar would now take petitions. As he spoke, a man of average height with a neatly trimmed gray beard walked out and sat on the chair.
The lord heard three petitions before the party’s turn. The first involved a land dispute between two nobles – neither of them wanted to take responsibility for a patch of land between their estates. The second was a plea from the family of the recently slain knight, Sir Theobald Remfrey. They requested aid in rooting out the bandits who caused his death. The third petition was from the Grand Champion of the Arena, who requested that the grand prize for the upcoming Arena tournament be doubled.
The party then was allowed a turn, electing the Bard to be a spokesperson. Before she could speak, though, the warlock blurted out their request from the back of the room in decidedly undiplomatic language. With his mouth full. The assembly laughed at the lack of grace. The bard was able to keep her composure, however, and laid out the case for the party to start their own guild.
Lord Whitestar asked some probing questions, but eventually allowed them to begin within the city on a trial basis. They’d be granted a more permanent permit once they demonstrated their usefulness to the city. “Now,” he said. “Why don’t you tell me why you’re really here?” He gestured to his court mage, a woman dressed in college robes, who produced the letter they had sent with the magical hidden text. Lord Whitestar demanded to know why they presented themselves under false pretenses.
The party was on the backpedal as they tried to explain the threat of the vampires. Lord Whitestar’s Captain of War dismisses the claims, saying he believed his guards would have noticed if vampires were infiltrating the city. This drew laughter from the watching crowd. Finally, Lord Whitestar said, “These citizens tell an incredible story. Vampires are indeed a serious threat. But we must not succumb to paranoia. Our walls are strong, our city secure. Nonetheless, we will err on the side of safety, and I will increase the guard around known entrances to the Undercity. Hopefully you will sleep easier and this matter will trouble the court no longer. Petitions are closed for today.”
With that, he left, and the party started to head toward the door, feeling defeated. However, they were approached by several people first.
The first was a man who had introduced himself before their petition, a middle aged man with dark red hair named Daven Orran. He wore a green and gold tunic with a fur lined coat, and walked with a cane.
“Disturbing news about the Vampires, if indeed your story is true,” he said. “In fact, there are many disturbing things going on in the realm as of late. Why the town of Witchfield, Lord Blackstone’s estate, was overrun with Orcs recently. And I’ve heard more murmurings of Orc activity near the Bastard Wood to the South. I’d be willing to bet if someone were to investigate these things, they’d be surprised at what they find.”
The Paladin inferred immediately that Lord Orran was trying to subtly tell them something. Before they could ponder this for long, though, another man approached, this one a young man dressed in black and yellow who introduced himself as Clovis.
He said that he believed them and wanted to help, and said that the guards don’t patrol the undercity, where the suspicious activity tends to take place. He told them of a tavern called the Lusty Wench, where many shady characters congregate. “That might be a good place to start.” The paladin asked him how exactly a noble knew of a place like that, and Clovis replied that he had business dealings with some people down there. “What kind of business, if you don’t mind me asking?” the Paladin inquired. “I do!” replied Clovis cheerfully. And he took his leave.
Finally, the party was greeted by a dwarf merchant who introduced herself as Lorena. She traveled with three bodyguards. She told them to contact her if they were interested in buying or selling magical items and artifacts.
The party retired to the Blackstone estate, where they discussed their plans and hopes and fears with Aldebrande. They had been given two leads, but were unsure of what to think or who to trust. What followed was a lot of reflection on what they really wanted, and some speculation on the nature of the Orb of the Ancients. Aldebrande offered the perspective that whatever moral obligation they had had been met once they alerted the proper authorities.
The party appears to be at a crossroads. Their paths must lead them to question exactly who they are, who they want to be. What will they choose? Find out next time on Dungeons and Dragons Whitestar Campaign!