The Sundered Sea - A 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign

Session 03 - To Steal a Statue

Kit and Rask awake at 10 AM – the bustle of horses being fed and stabled, breakfast being cooked, and campfires being extinguished. It is a gray, damp morning at the Barrister lodge, nestled in the outskirts of the Kingsgrove Forest.

They awake to a scroll of parchment inside their caravan, somehow delivered from Cyrus while they slept. Inside, Cyrus offers some last scraps of advice and instruction, insinuating that the party should travel to Greencrest to the northwest if they are successful.

It is the day of the Lord Barrister’s festivities, due to begin in a few hours. The party begins to plan and prepare. Kit consults the rough blueprints of the estate that Cyrus offered – determining the likely location of the statue. They decide on false identities, Kit carefully scribing their aliases onto the blank invitations. While passing time, a late-arriving wagon breaks the general calm of the camps – clattering over the road and quickly parking in a secluded corner – the driver hastily climbing inside once settled.

With Rask’s assistance, the two manage to weave a capable “hammock” of rope to suspend within Kit’s voluminous garments, which they carefully lower the pewter replica into. After concealing a few more weapons and tools, the party gathers with the rest of the attendees and approaches the lodge.

Inside, they quickly locate the statue – prominently on display within the main atrium, guarded by a stern-looking, seasoned member of Lord Barrister’s personal guard. Some light-hearted small talk and careful observation reveals his fondness for drink – Rask slyly passing him glasses of wine while Kit (somewhat flamboyantly) provides an adequate distraction.

While plying the guardsman with drink, a rush of hushed gossip washes over the festivities: Martas Loyalar has arrived. The mystery of the late-arriving wagon is solved, but a new thread of gossip and speculation begins to spread through the crowd. Without pausing or acknowledging a soul, Martas rushes past the party goers and heads to Barrister’s fenced-off gardens. Almost wordlessly, the party agrees – Rask heads off to investigate Loyalar, while Kit continues to ply the guard with more cups of potent syrupwine.

The gardens are lush and well manicured. Noticing the posted guards are barely paying attention, Rask confidently approaches Martas and is surprised to learn that he is already known to the wardbaron – he nonchalantly references their “mutual friend” of Cyrus. Somewhat disarmed by Martas’ disclosure, Rask returns to the atrium to rejoin his companion.

Kit was productive during Rask’s absence. Red-faced and beginning to stagger, Barrister storms into the atrium to drag off his guard, pulling him through a throng of nobles and chastising him all the while. The very public and very loud admonishment quickly draws a sizable crowd, and an opportunity presents itself – Kit and Rask quietly position themselves.

Cautiously drawing from an internal reservoir of power, Rask conjures an orb of impenetrable, perfect darkness – just barely enveloping the glass display case within a far edge of the globe, the other edge cutting into the crowd of nobles. In the same instant, Kit places her amber eye carefully under her tongue and projects an eerie cacophony of kenku chattering and screeching near the epicenter of the crowd.

Panic ensues. While noblemen begin to panic and guards begin to rush around the premises, Kit deftly swaps the statues, placing the genuine statue into her concealed rope-cradle and swapping out the pewter facsimile. During the chaos, Kit and Rask slip off toward one of the outside exits of the lodge – easily blustering their way past a young, overwhelmed guard and leaving the premises.

Still swarmed by the nobleman crowding the exits and halls, the party is able to rendezvous at a tree stump they located before the event began – concealing the genuine statue inside and hastily returning to their wagon, along with the rest of the evacuating noblemen. Within the next hours the atmosphere of fear within the wagon camps begins to subside – simultaneously the gossiping begins to run rampant. More than a few hands gesture toward the Loyalar wagon.

Clusters of guards begin to patrol the wagon camps, searching through caravans and questioning attendees. Once they arrive at the Loyalar wagon, multiple patrols of guards thoroughly toss the caravan, throwing all of the contents out into the dirt. Kit pens a note to pass off to Martas, entreating him to meet at the secret tree stump at midnight. Rask successfully delivers the note to Martas as he finishes returning his strewn belongings to his caravan.

Night falls. The guard patrols and interrogations wane as the day goes on – Kit and Rask also being questioned by another high-ranking officer in Barrister’s retinue. Near midnight, the party slips away to the outskirts of the camp to the secret tree stump. Minutes stressfully pass before Martas suddenly “appears,” as if out of thin air. He is somewhat surprised to see his statue so unceremoniously waiting inside the stump, but equally delighted. Concealing the statue underneath a strange, magical cloth, he again vanishes – audibly stepping off back toward the wagons after curtly thanking the duo for their success.

In the morning, the wagons are begrudgingly permitted to leave the property as day breaks. Each caravan is given another examination before leaving through the guard post. All of the wagons in line watch as Martas’ wagon is again unceremoniously tossed, but after some time, he again is allowed to head south down the road back toward Sunderhold. The party leaves the premises, turning west toward the village of Greencrest.

The day-long journey is uneventful – hours pass on the forest-lined road quietly, and the party begins to calm their nerves after the events of the past two days. Their respite is cut short, however – Kit’s sentimental dagger begins to steadily grow hot and emit a ghostly glow as the caravan approaches Greencrest’s east wall. As they drive closer, a scrawny teenager is cowering behind a low, stone fence – terror painted across his face.

Kit confidently approaches and Rask clings to the cover of the trees. The youth stammers about monsters and beasts, pointing to a camp and clearing roughly one hundred feet away. Brandishing her maul, the half-elf straightens and marches down the path – instantly drawing the attention of three rotting, shambling human-shaped creatures after a few paces. Their bodies appear to have been decomposing for days – chunks of skin and flesh torn and hanging from their bones. Their bodies are peppered with grotesque, blackened lesions covering their bodies, each one sprouting ragged, oily-black feathers. Small beads of pale, red light shines from their lifeless eyes.

Incensed by the perversion of the natural order hungrily stumbling toward her, Kit swings her massive hammer wide and clumsily misses her first blow – right as Rask bursts from the treeline to deliver a sickening blow to one of the creatures with his quarterstaff. The group fights valiantly, delivering crushing strikes that would stagger any living being. However, even as jawbones and limbs are torn from their decrepit bodies the creatures barely register any impacts – mindlessly and desperately trying to tear into their prey without pause.

The youth manages to land some blows of his own – skillfully (or luckily) sailing chunks of rock into the yielding, brittle skulls of the monstrosities. Within a minute, the creatures are dispatched. Channeling her own source of power, Kit channels a massive burst of energy into her final swing. As her hammer crashes into the chest of the abomination it discharges as a deafening clap of thunder – the sheer force bursting the monster into dozens of pieces and throwing them in a wide, 20-foot arc. As the last body crumples to the earth, Kit’s dagger immediately returns to inert, cold iron.

The party manages to calm the elated and excitable lad – named Gavin, apparently employed at “The Library -” the very same inn the party has been instructed to locate in Greencrest. He confesses to stalking these individuals over the past couple of days – noticing they were somewhat “well-off” as they stayed in the inn two days ago, he thought he could follow them after they left town and perhaps purloin a few things. Instead, he found them “changed.”

It is not difficult for Rask to offer Gavin four gold pieces as “his share,” rationalizing that it is still a small fortune for the boy (if not quite a “fair” share). Elated, Gavin rushes off ahead of the party, now just a few miles from the village square.

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Session 02 Interlude - Coins, Amber, and Bells

Surrounded by blood and black feathers, the party stands in the ruins – a light rain falling in the dead of night. Suddenly, one hundred feet away at the edge of the woods, a great, gray wolf emerges from behind a tree trunk. It sits, staring patiently at Finn – as if waiting for a response.

Finn is transfixed, turning pale as he meets the wolf’s gaze. “I must follow, my friends. I beg for your understanding.” He strides off in the wolf’s direction, the both of them disappearing into the curtain of rain and the thick of the woods – never once looking back.

Kit and Rask collect themselves and begin the march back to the Barrister property, Allainne in tow. She grumbles over her family’s finances and dismal future, now that her “bumbling father” has promised the cyphers to “these brigands.” Her complaints fall silent once the party approaches the Barrister property, right in the middle of a shift change in the night watch.

Rask produces his credentials with a flourish, sweet-talking his way through the guard post and back to the Barrowdown wagon. Reunited, Allaine and Elric down quietly usher the party inside their wagon to discuss the events of the evening, as well as the promised payment. Rask selects a Fateborn Coin, while Kit takes a curious amber eye from Barrowdown’s box of cyphers.

Before parting, Elric leaves the party with a warning of the full extent of Valoff Barrister’s cunning, connections, and lust for power.

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Session 02 - Black Feathers and Black Omens

The party finds themselves huddled around the kenku watchman’s corpse, just outside the light of his campfire. The sun had dropped below the canopy of the forest about an hour ago, and a steady ran began to fall as darkness enclosed the forest ruins.

Ahead – about 70 feet in the distance – another campfire burned, and long humanoid shadows and chittering whispers surrounding it.

Suddenly, a voice pierces the calm – ringing inside the heads of the party, powerful and inescapable. In the distance, and through the darkness, Finn spies a tiny bead of brilliant, green light – ebbing like a star while the voice rings.

Maybe. Maybe it’s called you, too. The manling all clad in green came, like the crowlings have come, and tend to mother – yes. Now more manlings – and a feytouched lass, yes – holding daddy’s knife like a dolly. Sweet little children, all’ve come to mother. But what manner of manlings are you, what manner… Come for the girl – come for the trinkets? Come for blood? We will see. Maybe. We will see.

The voice goes quiet.

The party stalks north, outside the light of the campfires. Finn approaches and frees a chained wolf, likely an earlier victim of the pit trap dug into the ground earlier down the path. The wolf is peaceful and grateful, running off into the night.

The ruined temple where Finn perceived the green light lied just ahead, over a small creek. As Kit stepped across a small wooden bridge, the whoosh of a quarrel flew just in front of her head. A violent skirmish ensued, Rask, Finn, and Kit rushing forward to bludgeon a kenku watchman crouching behind a small rock wall.

Entering the ruined temple, the find a resplendent onyx statue of a raven, small piles of offerings laid at its feet. The party has , at this point, accumulated a small stockpile of healing tonics, consisting of the familiar “Gutterbleed” commonly available from seedy apothecaries around the Waning Isle. Cheap to make and purchase, the swill is murky and horribly bitter – but an effective tonic nonetheless.

The kenku appear to have been “offering” choice pieces of loot from their raids on the nearby roads. Kit retrieves a fist-sized sapphire ebbing with a magical aura, undoubtedly a cypher of some kind.

After another battle with the last remaining kenku bandits, the party locates Alainne Barrowdown – locked inside a small, decrepid cell within the ruins of a nearby storeroom.

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Session 01 - A Party of Party Crashers

In the Third Sheet Tavern & Inn, three adventurers are gathered by Cyrus “Gildedeye” Ashford – a known broker within the Broken Trust criminal organization. The party, consisting of sailor Rask Falemor, inquisitor Kit N’Drak, and woodsman Finn Larsson, is hired to commit a heist at an upcoming party taking place about a day’s travel north of Sunderhold.

The party is to be thrown by Valoff Barrister – wardbaron of Highgarden and the wealthiest noble house in Sunderhold. The art piece contracted to be procured is a silver statue of a cliffdiver – a common, coastal hawk native to the Waning Isle – Valoff has recently acquired the statue and seems eager to show it off – as well as his recently finished manor abutting his vineyards north of Sunderhold.

During the course of the discussion with Cyrus, Rask quickly pieces together there is more at stake than a simple smash-and-grab. The silver cliffdiver is well-known as the sigil for House Loyalar, whose reputation has become a matter of public discussion as of late. The current head of the house is Martas Loyalar – forced into the task of rebuilding the house’s finances and status after his father Gallus passed away two years ago, leaving a mountain of debts and gambling losses as Martas’ sole inheritance.

Rask is suspicious of the contract, now fearing the party is being interjected into the middle of a feud between noble houses. After the briefing, Rask hits the docks to try to glean useful information, while Kit attempts to shake down a local for useful information or gossip about Valoff. Ultimately, Valoff’s reputation for paranoia and cunning proves solid – the waitstaff is personally vetted by the wardbaron himself, and his business is shrewd and merciless, yet on the up-and-up.

Taking advantage of Cyrus’ connections, the party accepts an appointment at the Silken Shawl in Highgarden, where pristine and fashionable outfits are measured and provided to blend in at the party. At Cyrus’ suggestion, some hidden pockets and folds are included in the outfits to be of potential service during the party. A trip to a craftsman across the square delivers some additional information – Valoff commissioned a large number of replicas of the cliffdiver statue, possibly to be sold off as souvenirs.

Plans and possibilities are discussed well into the evening. Kit tries to curry some favor with a drunk, young nobleman in Highgarden – but unfortunately draws the attention of a mostly incompetent, spoiled son of a shipping-and-receiving merchant. Some requests made of Cyrus are received, however – a set of thieve’s tools is delivered to Rask’s room, while Kit is provided with a floor layout of Valoff’s new manor.

Cyrus has a wagon and horses ready at the north gates, and the party departs to travel north to the manor. On the way, they spot an overturned wagon and a great deal of commotion down the road. Rushing to the wagon’s aid, they interrupt a flock of highwayman Kenku – three rushing off into the woods with an ornate chest, while three more stay behind to fight for their spoils. Kit delivers a crushing blow with her maul, while Rask downs another with throwing darts – severing the throat of a bandit lit aflame by the Faerie Fire of Finn’s druidic magic.

Surviving the encounter, the party earns the begrudging good graces of the Barrowdown family – a father and daughter company of relatively well-known undertakers from Preacher’s Row, also on their way to the Barrister party. The blustering father is grateful for the rescue, while the fiery daughter is fixated on the loss of the ornate chest to the bandits. The party and the Barrowdown family part ways, arriving at dusk to the Barrister estate grounds, their caravans finding a space to make camp on the outskirts of the cabin.

The party retires to the campfire after getting familiar with the outskirts of the manor. Their reverie is broken when a distraught Edrick Barrowdown begs the party for assistance. Gathering inside the caravan, Barrowdown reveals that his daughter Alainne crept off into the woods shortly after they made camp – he assumes she has run off to retrieve the contents of the chest. With no other hope of rescuing his daughter, Edrick reveals to the party his plight. Due to some poor accounting and worse business deals, Edrick finds the family’s fortunes dwindling. Hoping to curry favor with Valoff Barrister, he spend the last of the business’ coffers to acquire three cyphers as a gift – Barrister’s interest in the relics a well-known quality.

Edrick implores the party to find and rescue his daughter, offering the cyphers (if retrieved) as payment for the task. He states the objects took the form of a golden coin, a shrunken eye, and a silver bell. The party slips off into the night, retracing their steps to the site of the attack earlier that day. Following a trail into the woods, a lone kenku watchman is swiftly and silently dispatched – the party advances towards the edge of a clearing in the forest. In the middle of the clearing is a campfire, – dancing shadows and chattering beaks not far into the distance…

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