We returned to the capital, Suzail, and were debriefed by Gerant, Valen revealing the presence of the portals that allowed us to travel across the waste. Gerant then revealed that various individuals who were assets to the Empire have been dying under suspicious circumstances, at the edges of the Empire. The most likely cause has been Zent interference – aka assassination. Gerant wanted us to go to Shadowdale and set up a safe house. We have 2 months. He then gave us a magic mirror. It was a plain, metal-edged framed mirror to be used to contact him once the safehouse was established so that he could send operatives there and then we could be pulled out. Our resources included a line of credit issued to us by Arkenstar Ltd. to buy property to create the safehouse (i.e. “set up a branch office for trading furniture for Arkenstar Ltd.”). We also had wagons to transport our wares. When Akull brought up the problem of knowing zilch about furniture, we decided that our cover story was that we were prospecting the mountains near Shadowdale to see if Arkenstar could get into the jewel-mining business (maybe for ornamenting fancy furniture).
The passphrase our contact in Shadowdale will use to contact us is “It’s cold enough outside to freeze the scales off of a goblin’s ass.” The countersign to that is “a goblin’s scales only fall off in the spring.”
Valen is given a letter of credit from Arkenstar Ltd. for 100,000gp. We trade the pillows in for 8 sets of good-quality merchant’s clothing, leaving us with 1,000gp in gems and 345gp in gold. We booked passage on a commercial airship to take us directly to Shadowdale, paying 150gp to get us, our horses, and our supplies there. We took it out of the letter of credit. We also picked up 2 chests for a price of 5gp each. Valen disdained locks, deciding that they were too expensive and also made the chests look more important than they are.
The airship journey was uneventful and we landed in Shadowvale in early evening, a retirement community for adventurers. It is a steep valley with lots of mists and shadows and dinosaur paladins. The Forest of Cormynthor is nearby where the elves live and humans log. The ship landed in the industrial sector (not very industrial; mostly milling); there is less pollution and clearer air. The Sleeping Dragon Inn was the best place to go (better than The Dozing Dragon, The Snoring Dragon, The Comatose Dragon, and The Napping Dragon) in downtown Shadowdale. We were told our weapons had to be peacebonded, but Akull protested that he refused to peacebond his nuts. Valen hoped that they were already peacebonded, but Akull informed us that he wore boxers and let them swing loose. We arranged 3 rooms for the night – one for Valen, one for Avaerth, and one for the ‘guards.’ The cook – who was tending the bar – managed to swindle Valen out of an extra half gp, much to the GM’s glee for a total of 6.5gp. An elven singer entertained on the stage. Thomas’ Sundries was a shop across the street and up a building from the inn, which caught our eye as we wandered into town.
A quick huddle in our rooms sets the plan for the next day: Valen and Aramil will go to the Lord’s citadel while the rest nose about town looking for a warehouse for sale, or a struggling business that would be willing to sell, or some promising real estate. After we set that up, we headed back down to the common room to get dinner. (Aramil succeeded at his first perception check. We were very proud.) We noticed that the performer was wearing a cloak clasp bearing the image of a golden harp. Aramil informed us that it is the symbol of the Harpers – a group that patrols the Dales to keep out evil, and they are very much against the Zentarum. Next we noticed a half-orc with a big hammer come in and people make room for him with respect. Another fellow came in a few minutes later, bespectacled and treated much the same way as the half-orc. We heard him called “Thomas” and think he might be the owner of Thomas’s Sundries. Listening to the rumors we heard that there have been murders in other towns but not here yet. Complaints about Zent Lords doing bad things, but nothing out of the ordinary. A name is mentioned: Dell the Trapper, an odder member of the community (apparently quite hairy?). We heard a story about Lord Christian De Leon, a retired Simbian Lord seen gallivanting around in the middle of the night in all of his finery on his fine horse.
Avaerth went to speak to Thomas and learned that Alwyn who worked in the town hall would be the person to speak with about available property for purchase in town. He seemed nice but a tad odd. The elf entertainer got up and began to mingle, relieving the louder drunks of the night of some of their money. The next day we had breakfast and arranged for 5 more nights at a cost of 30gp (although Valen tried to pay 50. Avaerth was having none of it). We found Alwyn in City Hall fairly easily, where she is in charge of real estate transactions. She knew of a 3 story house near the center of town worth 50k and a 2 story house near the outskirts with an attached barn that was near the corporate warehouse. It was owned by the Lord and Lady, and we would need to go through their steward to make the purchase. 20k-30k for the land + 10k for the property itself.
We headed to the Manor/Citadel and met the steward, Gibson the elf. It was built on a graveyard and Farmer Wilson was eaten by a bear in it. Gibson liked human names and was constitutionally incapable of shutting up. We arranged to meet him at 2 at the property to examine it before we paid 30k for it, and were warned that if we were unable to provide the money within 24 hours the price would go up. Next we checked with a nearby accounting house to make sure we could complete the transaction. We went by the other property since we had time that morning to check it out. The property had a gate and iron fence and windows with a commanding view that would make the building hard to sneak up on. It was built like a castle, with round corner rooms, only built of wood, not stone. We met Gibson at the other property, which was sprawling ranch-style, but 2 stories. It was not designed with defensibility in mind, and had a door leading out to the barn in the back, and windows in every room. There were claw marks above the door. On the outskirts of town there was around 100 yards of space between the building and its neighbors, and the Arkenstar warehouse was in line of sight from the farmhouse. The house had 12 rooms and a root cellar, but the barn looked to be the stronger structure. We bought the property for 30k on the spot. We then had a shopping montage and furnished the entire house for 1,000gp.
On our way back from the carpentry shop, we noticed that a Zent caravan has rolled into town and will be staying at the same Inn as us. When we first spotted them they were talking to Thomas but getting a chilly reception from town. We headed into the Inn (Akull with his hood up) and had dinner. Avaerth saw that there were 8 guards and 4 merchants with the caravan. As the storm picks up and we start to head upstairs to avoid the Zents recognizing us a man with flowing white hair steps in and says the passphrase. Avaerth yells the countersign down the stairs as we head up and we hear muttering indicating that the man is Christian (the prancer). After a quick bath to freshen up, Avaerth headed downstairs to meet with Christian and make contact. He indicated he knew of some areas for prospecting and Avaerth arranged for him to meet with Valen and the rest tomorrow at 10am, introducing herself as Avaerth Goldscale. The Zents appeared to have missed most of the conversation but did notice the two talking. Meanwhile, Thomas refused to look at the Zents that night while he was in the bar.
The Zent wagons were there in the morning, but the Zents weren’t having breakfast. We took an amble over to Christian’s house, which looked to be in good condition and were invited in by the butler. The fop act dropped and Christian turned into a shrewd agent. He wanted us to contact Gerant and bring in the other Cormyrian agents before the Zents get them. There are 20 agents we need to rescue and time is of the essence. Still, he thought we would need at least a week and a half, during which we would need to stay low, keep to our cover story, and avoid Zent detection – even though they were already suspicious of us. The Half-orc smith was one of us and could be trusted, but not anyone else, including the Harper. We asked for areas we could theoretically start prospecting at for the purpose of the cover story and he pulled out a map with mineral deposits. He warned us to have a get out of town plan. We left his house and headed back out into the town, intending to go check out the prospecting areas.
GM 3/Players 9/Brian 1/Moira 1