Two days after their return from the Gloom Swamp, Lord Hector summoned the group back to the Great Hall; all but Sacagawea returned. Lord Hector explained that during the night he had had to send Saca orc-hunting as there was increased orc activity and her assistance was needed. As they settled into their seats, Lord Hector prefaced his new appointment with an opportunity for any member to take their leave. He could not yet explain everything to them as they had not yet earned his full trust. He was aware that what he was about to ask of them was potentially life-threatening; if anyone wished to step away from the group, now was their chance. As no one moved from the Great Hall, Lord Hector proceeded with his speech.
“I believe the Reapers did not kill you because they knew you did not know anything. I assume Zaos knew much more than they were willing to sacrifice, and so they took his life. Based on the letters you brought back, I believe there is a bigger plot at hand centered in Eastaria. Eastaria is ruled by Lord Moriar of the Wynrett Family, who have longed ruled the city. While Lord Moriar and I have often disagreed on many matters, I believed it was only political differences between us. I now believe that Lord Moriar’s distaste for my beliefs has taken an uglier turn and have become personal and devious. Your new mission is to go to Eastaria, discover anything you can about Lord Moriar’s involvement with the bandits and find out who Theycian is. I cannot pay you now, but you will be compensated upon your return.
Furthermore, this mission will require more, shall we say, humility, from some of you. It has long been known that they Wynrett’s have a great dislike of elves. They will not hide their distaste for your presence and for our half-elf comrades, I am afraid your presence will bring even greater displeasure. One of the many areas where Lord Moriar and I differ is in this matter. In Eastaria, half-elves are only present in the city if they are slaves, so you must take this into consideration as you make your plans. “
Lord Hector proceeded to speak as he pulled a small, narrow box from his cloak. They all noticed that on the box was a symbol, the same symbol, in fact, that was on the key they had found days before. “I have been collecting boxes like this and two have been stolen from me. I believe these boxes are in Eastaria, and may very likely be in Lord Moriar’s possession. Find the 2 boxes and return them to me.” Ryo questioned the value of the boxes, but unruffled, Lord Hector insisted they were of great significance.
The instructions completed, tools for their journey were handed out. To Marcus and Persephone were given slave wristbands and deeds of ownership. Lord Hector also provided a scroll, which he explained was outlawed by the Aegians and keeping it’s existence secret was of high priority. This magical scroll was connected to another scroll that was in his possession. Anything they wrote on their scroll would appear on his; this would be their method of communication and they were to keep him updated during their stay in Eastaria. Lord Hector also returned the key that Malva had found. He recommended they keep it in Avalar but he explained that he had not been able to find out what it went to.
As it started to appear that all had been said, some began to get up from their seats, only to be stopped by Alfwen. “As we are to head into Eastaria, there is some bit of information I should bring to your attention now. I have not been honest about who I really am and believe it is now time to share the truth with you. My name is not Alfwen, but I am Cyrek Peariner, Lord Hector is my father.”
Shock rumbled through the group as they each reacted to the news. Drakon spoke first, questioning the wisdom of bringing Lord Hector’s son with them to Eastaria. Was it not foolish to take the son of Lord Moriar’s political enemy into an already tense situation? Malva spoke up as well, asking if it would not appear odd to have the son of Lord Hector, a known abolitionist, in the company of slaves? Lord Hector heard their doubts, but assured them that Cyrek was his own person; there was no need for him to present himself as one who followed his father’s personal beliefs. His lineage need not hold him back from going with the group. Cyrek grew up knowing Lord Moriar’s children and his presence could actually be beneficial. Lord Hector also informed them that Lord Moriar had two children but his daughter, Lecell, was his only surviving child. Lecell was courting the Prince of the Empire and rumors were that they would soon be engaged, putting the Wynrett’s in the running for the throne of Ultana.
Lord Hector left the group to discuss their plans, but was followed by Persephone. “Lord Hector, Sir.”
Lord Hector stopped and turned. “Persephone?”
“Sir. You’re aware that Grandmaster Ky sent me here and said I could trust you, but I am about to sacrifice my independence for this mission, to a place where you have warned us my life holds no value. I don’t know if I will return and I do not want to die with out knowing…” she paused, took a deep breath and asked, “Sir, I have long sought information on my family, do you know who my parents are?”
Lord Hector remained unfazed by Persephone’s question. With a sympathetic tone he responded, “Yes, I do. But now is not the right time to discuss that information, I am sorry. When you return, we will talk further.”
Persephone exhaled, unaware she had been holding her breath. “And if I don’t return?”
“ I have faith. If the group gets in trouble, let the Tempest out.” Lord Hector turned and walked away, leaving Persephone standing alone in the hallway, confused and disappointed. After a few minutes, she returned to the Great Hall where the group began to prepare for their journey.
Percy and Marcus gave their money to Drakon for safekeeping. Before departing for Eastaria, Marcus went to a store to purchase a mask that was half lamb, half human with orange stripes, and a grey cloak. They left for Dailyon where they boarded a ship and arrived in Eastaria after two days of travel.
Eastaria, a city built along the coast has massive walls surrounding it. Boasting of the Octoma’s great blessing on the city, Eastaria is known far and wide as the most elite of all human cities. Mainly a trade city, it is much richer than Avalar and the lifestyle appears to be significantly more lavish than Avalar as well. Eastaria is also the home of a huge slave market supported by Lord Moriar Wynrett who is also one of the biggest supporters of the Temple. Though the city may seem diverse, for a trade city, the significant lack of elves is incredibly apparent to any outside observer. As they disembarked the ship they were stopped by a man on the pier who asked what their business in Eastaria was. Cyrek took the lead, explaining who he was and that he and his party had arrived to pay their respects to the Aegian house and to visit the city. “Ah, you have arrived just in time!” the man exclaimed, “for the festival will begin in a few days.” “Ah, yes, the festival!” said Cyrek. They all played along, attempting to not show that most had no idea what festival he spoke of. Cyrek asked where would be the best place for he and his traveling companions to stay. The man directed them to the Silver Spoon Inn, an establishment worthy of such breeding.
They walked through the East Gate, and procured a carriage. As they made their way to the Silver Spoon Inn, they took in the city. They drove through the public markets, a flat area, but see the center of the town come into view – in the very center of which is a hill surrounded by an octagonal wall. They arrived at the Silver Spoon Inn and were greeted by the innkeeper, Kylen, who welcomed the noble guest and recommended they visit the Temple as the festival will soon be upon them. They settled into their rooms and soon Drakon returned to the bar of the Inn to speak with Kylen.
Persuading Kylen of his ignorance of the Festival, Drakon learned what the people of Eastaria would soon be celebrating. Drakon returned to their suite to share his news with the party. The Festival, he had discovered, is the Festival of the Fall of the Dragon Lord. When the Octoma rose to power there were 2 dragon lords, Sadorith, the black dragon, and Kyloth, the white dragon. The Octoma overthrew Kyoth and cast a spell that blasted Sidorth into oblivion. This was the turning point of the war against the dragons. The Wynrett’s celebrate the Octoma and are great supporters of the Temple in Eastaria. Drakon also learned from Kylen that there was another situation they needed to be aware of concerning the Wynrett’s history. There is a moment referred to as “the event” in the city, a moment only whispered of and never openly spoken about. “The Event,” was the devastating loss of Lord Moriar’s son, Jon, who was murdered about 20 years ago. It is know that Jon was killed by an elf, an elf who Queen of the elves, Raelyn Selene, said they would turn over to the Wynrett’s if the murderer was found. No such action was taken though, and a deep rift grew between the Wyrett’s and the elves.
As Drakon shared the history he had learned, Marcus went to his room to put on a disguise and appeared to the group as Thomas Bilkherst, an older gentlemen with a slight hunch. Marcus is undeterred by their requests that he not leave and explore in his disguise. After a few minutes of bickering and imploring, Marcus ignored their growing annoyance, cast an invisibility spell and disappeared in front of them. Invisible to all, he left the suite and made his way to the Temple where he became visible again and introduced himself to a temple cleric. As Thomas Bilkherst, he shared his great interest in the Temple and the Octoma and asked the cleric if he knew of anyone who would dare discredit the Octoma. He, Thomas Bilchurst, had been studying and seeking to expose anyone who would discredit the great Octoma. The cleric expressed great concern and asked Thomas if he would like to meet the High Priestess. Ignoring Thomas’s insistence that that was not necessary, the cleric left Marcus to find the High Priestess. Left standing alone in the temple, Marcus heard a voice in his head yell “Run!”
Immediately, Marcus cast an invisibility spell again and ran from the Temple. At the same moment he cast the spell, an alarm went off in the temple. Cyrek, back at the Silver Spoon Inn, sensed the alarm that had gone out to all clerics, and heard the warning that a rogue spell caster was in the city. He shared the warning with the group. Not sure how else to proceed, they decided to lock the doors and window and all go to their rooms, except for Cyrek and Drakon who decide to go into Marcus’s room. As they are standing in there, they hear a tapping at the window but cannot actually see anyone. Cautiously, Cyrek unlocked and opened the window and just as suddenly as Marcus disappeared, he reappeared in front of Cyrek and Drakon. Cyrek heard a voice in his head, the same voice of Marcus, ask “Why would someone hear a voice in their head?” Not afraid to show his annoyance, Drakon shared his frustration with Marcus’s foolishness and left the room in a huff. Marcus revealed a ring to Cyrek, a ring that bore a great resemblance to one in Lord Hector’s possession. Cyrek remained in the room and told Marcus that he would trust him. Marcus’s voice changed, the brogue accent no longer evident, as he shared some of his history with Cyrek. He had been a carrying magical item for the Silken Underground when he was discovered and thrown in prison. He was told that he could either join the traveling party or face execution. He had made the obvious choice and was told he was now a free man but now he was trying to find someone he needs to have a conversation with. He had discovered he had magical abilities when he accidentally killed a man, but he did not know what happened. Cyrek received Marcus’s confession and left him in his room for the night.
The next morning, when the servants who were serving them breakfast had left, Marcus entered the room and was immediately greeted by questions and accusations. Marcus shared that he had remained in disguise and had gone to the temple and only spoke to one of the clerics. He pretended that he was trying to find out information on people who were discrediting the Octoma and when the cleric had left, he heard a voice in his head that told him to run. Not one to ignore such a strong warning, he went invisible and ran. Because he had used his powers he set off the alarm. When questioned about the voice in his head, Marcus could give no explanation only that he had been hearing voices for about 3 months. Still slightly annoyed at Marcus’s actions, Ryo angrily told Marcus “If you ever threaten the safety of the group again, I’ll put a blade through your throat.” In response, Marcus magically pulled a blade out of his hand, made a snarky comment and returned to his room.
Their first full day in Eastaria included nothing notable, but as evening approached, they all began to prepare to attend the Music Competition that would be hosted at the Silver Spoon. Unknown to most of the party, Marcus donned another costume, the musician Phillip Phelden, and he and Malva made plans to perform in the competition. They all joined the evening’s festivities at the Inn and noticed that there were groups of people playing games and gambling. The party appeared to center around a beautiful woman, one of the guests of honor, Lady Lecell. Also making an appearance at the party was one of the Priestess’. The competition began and several musicians attempted to win the favor of the crowd and Lady Lecell. The team went separate ways in hopes of learning something to help their mission. Seeing Malva in the crowd, Cyrek made his way over to talk with her and wish her luck in the competition. Percy, stuck in the role of obedient servant for the evenings, followed Cyrek through the crowd. Next to Malva was the disguised Marcus, attempting to keep his identity secret from Cyrek. As Malva and Cyrek spoke, Lady Lecell, recognizing Cyrek, walked over and greeted him warmly. “Cyrek! Welcome. Come, join my party! After all, the company is much superior.” Looking at Percy, she snidely remarked, “I’m glad to see that you are following the right thinking and are keeping the mutts in their place.” A cool chill coursed through Perspehone as she kept her head down, attempting to not react to the rude comment.
Across the room, Drakon decided to strike up another conversation with Kylen. Spotting Drakon walking towards him, Kylen snickered and wondered what ignorance Drakon would now display. Greeting Kylen, Drakon struck up a conversation and asked when Jovesh would be making an appearance. Kylen shared that Jovash would not be arriving till the Festival began. As the two chatted, Drakon spotted Ryo across the room trying his hand at one of the games.
Ryo sat down with a group of guards and played a few rounds with them. As he lost another bet to the guards, he made an off-handed comment about how losing money was just like paying his debts to Theycian. The guards apparently saw this as no off-handed comment as they became visibly on edge and asked Ryo if he often came in contact with the governor’s personal bodyguard. Ryo spun a story about owing Theycian money in the past, and apparently passed their momentary doubt as they guffawed and slapped him on the back.
As this conversation was going on, a man appeared on the stage and introduced himself as Kosopho, which the crowd responded to with boisterous cheers and applause. As Kosopho performed, Drakon spotted Lady Lecell and decided to make his way over to her. The walk to her became difficult once Marcus and Malva took the stage and the crowd even more boisterous in response to their excellent performance. As Marcus and Malva walked off the stage Lady Lecell called to them and invited them to join her. Drakon gave up attempting to catch Lady Lecell’s attention and began to notice the presence of a man at his side, standing a bit too close for comfort. Drakon nonchalantly looked around to catch a peek at the stranger standing next to him to see an older gentleman, tall, dark haired and exquisitely dressed. Striking up a conversation with the stranger, Drakon said, “Hello! What, sir, is your name?” “My name, Drakon, is of no consequence. Tell me, how is Kyrex doing?” “Kyrex is dead,” Drakon flatly stated, his eyes furrowed in confusion. “And what brings you to Eastaria, Drakon?” “I’m traveling with friends. I’m sorry, do I know you?” “I have not seen you since you were born.” Drakon stared at the stranger and watched as he took a sip of his drink, only to notice that on the strangers finger was a black onyx ring that bore the Immortal Helix. The dark stranger took his leave of Drakon, leaving him standing with unmasked confusion on his face.
Persephone walked nearby, carrying drinks for Cyrek. Slightly tripping and spilling some of the drink down her front, she cleaned herself off paying no attention to the man walking by her. Her concentration was broken when she heard someone say “Hello Tempest,” but no one was around her when she quickly looked up in shock. Perplexed but knowing she needed to return to her post, she made her way back to Cyrek.
Ryo was still gambling with the soldiers and started to see if he could get any information about Theycian from the guards. As he won a round, the guards divulged that Theycian lived in the Keep. Ryo asks how could get a message to him.
The final round of the music competition began, but Malva had spotted the Dark Stranger leave the Inn and attempted to follow. As she made her way outside the Inn, she saw him enter a stagecoach. Though she decided to not pursue following him, he turns, spotting her and calls out “Well played, Malva, well played.” Emboldened, Malva walks up to the stagecoach. Not far behind her, followed Marcus, who watched as she stood at the stagecoach speaking to whoever was riding inside. Malva asked the Dark Stranger, “What are you doing here? I need to know why you sent me.” “For this very reason, Malva, you have skills beyond your understanding.” Malva stared at him. “I still don’t understand,” she said. “You will in time. Just stick to the plan.” Marcus walked closer to the stagecoach and called out to Malva, “Malva, who is your friend? He is very well dressed.” The Dark Stranger acknowledged Marcus. “And so are you Lodon” as the stagecoach started to drive away, leaving Marcus and Malva standing side by side. Malva looked at Marcus and asked him how he knew the man only for Marcus to state that he didn’t. They returned inside to wait for their turn in the finale.
As Cyrek enjoyed the company of the elite Eastarians, he was greeted by Priestess Calma. “Ah, Priestess Calma. How nice to see you to see you again! Tell me, have you found the perpetrator that was warned of last night?” The Priestess shared that they had not found the person who had set off the alarm but she was sure they soon would. “Tell me Cyrek, who is the large man traveling with you?” “That is Drakon, Priestess Calma. Why do you ask?” “Oh no reason,” she responded. “He’s just quite striking in size, that is all.”
All focus turned to the music competition as Kosopho and Malva and Marcus took their last turns. Both parties played exceptionally well, winning the crowds favor. Lady Lecell made her way to the stage to bring the final judgment and declared a tie! Turning to Kosopho and the duet, she asked that they consider playing as a trio. She granted them a special guest invitation with access to the grand event at the Festival. Lady Lecell had been quite taken with Phillip Phelden throughout the evening and wished him a particularly kind “Good Evening.”
As the festivities drew to a close, the party all returned to their suite to report on the evening’s proceedings. Malva retrieved the sending scroll so they were able to update Lord Hector. Drakon shared about his encounter with the Dark Stranger. Malva shared that it was someone she used to know. She’d run into him a few times in Avalar, but didn’t really know anything about him. Ryo shared that he discovered that Theycian was one of the personal bodyguards to Lord Moriar and he could be found in the Keep. Malva recorded their discoveries on the scroll, her words disappearing, giving way to Lord Hector’s response. Their discoveries were a great start but they would need to find more. Lord Moriar, Lord Hector replied, houses his bodyguard in the Keep. He suggested they try to learn the layout for the barracks. “About the Dark Stranger,” Lord Hector wrote, “ His appearance is interesting but not shocking. He is an ally but a shifty one. Don’t tell him more than you need to.” As no other response returned, they wrote back to Lord Hector asking if he had a blueprint for the keep. “I do not,” he said, “but there is a man named Herric who, if you can find him, I believe would be able to help you.”
4 days yet remained till the start of the Festival.