- Hillfort returns to the Tankard & Gull to lay low for the night. As Durgyn and Landen exit the arena battleground, Largo decides to find a different route and ends up exploring the tunnels underneath… and gets frightened by a lion. Durgyn believes he won the duel in the arena and doesn’t recall how the dwarf was slain. Landen explains to Durgyn he was unconscious, and Largo’s freedom has not been won. The battle was won along with the arena crowd, but the duel was lost and Largo would still be indebted to Serin. A gladiator approaches them.
“You better leave now if that’s your plan. The lord of the arena will be upset if you’re not staying. With Gamak dead, he’ll be hoping you’ll take the place as the star warrior of the arena.” Landen jokingly shares a thought, “I could be your agent Durgyn… we could make a lot of gold.” The gladiator shows them the back way out, and Durgyn rewards him with a gift: the jeweled brooch given to him as thanks from the Baron of Brindonford’s sister.
- Gvados approaches Landen and Durgyn as they exit the arena undergrounds in the form of a mangy dog. “That was well fought,” the dog speaks.
Landen jumps back startled. “Am I drunk!? Drugged!?”
“Drinks are on me,” Gvados replies. “Gamak was a good combatant.”
“The dog is buying drinks!?” The dog tries to lead them somewhere but the two heroes do not trust it. Instead they head to the Tankard & Gull, finding Hillfort there. Hillfort sees the minotaur with joy, as he believed him dead. Hillfort sneaks a barrel of his ale into the tavern downstairs, hides it under the table and taps it to celebrate Durgyn’s survival. With the arena show over, a rush of customers keeps the barkeep from noticing the adventurers filling their glasses from under the table. Then Landen hears a familiar voice, “You stood me up!!” and recalls a meeting he arranged with Gerard to discuss their quest. Landen fills a new glass and extends it to Gerard, as if he was expecting him. The thief introduces his mercenary to the group and Gerard is well excepted. Who wouldn’t be with phrases like, “I love senseless combat,” or “blood and gold!” As the group discusses their plans for Landen’s task ahead, a commoner spots the minotaur and Landen.
“The slayers!! It’s them!” Soon, the attention of those customers who came from the arena crowd is focused on the pair they just witnessed in glorious battle. They flocked around them, cheering. As they push their way through the crowd to leave the busy tavern, Hillfort sets his keg on the bar. The barkeep, rushing to fill glasses as the orders are placed, notices this and looks at Hillfort strangely.
“You neet to get more of this,” Hillfort tells him, “it’s the best I’ve ever had!”
“What’s it called?” A customer asks. “What are the arena heroes drinking?”
“Hillfort’s finest,” The wizard says with a smile.
“Gerard,” Landen calls, “hold these people back.”
“So I’m hired?” The merc asks. Landon glares at the brazen mercenary. Gerard grins and grabs the nearest fan pressing towards them by the collar of his shirt. “You’d get back if you knew what’s healthy.”
- As the group makes preparations to leave Shiny Cove, they discussed how they might be able to travel across the ocean quickly. “I need my wagon,” Largo recalls. “With what happened in the arena there’s no way Serin will willingly give it back to me.” The groups promises to help Largo steal it back before they leave town.
“I could help with your travel arrangements,” Gvados offers. “I know someone who can close the distance. A weather-weird.”
- They headed to Serin’s warehouse and found the burnt ashes of the building and it’s contents instead. Largo panics and begins to run, but Durgyn grabs hold of him. “It’s all gone,” Durgyn’s gruff voice says. “Not just your wagon, everything. All of Serin’s wealth. You can start over.” The group returns to the Tankard & Gull to get their packed horses. Hillfort finds a moment to tell Durgyn and Landen something quietly.
“I thought he got you killed. So… I robbed the place and burnt it down myself.”
When they leave the Tankard & Gull, Landen leaves an IOU note in his suite.
- “I’ll meet you outside the city,” Gvados says before transforming into a dire hawk and taking to the sky. Because of his large size, he offers to fly the party members over the wall one-by-one, to avoid being seen since they would certainly be in danger if found by Serin’s agents. Most agree, but Gerard and Durgyn decide to leave via the city gate.
- On their trek to find the weather-weird, some wild animals ambush their camp at night. It results in a tasty meal.
- After traveling southward, Gvados brings them to a beach. The waves lap on the sandy shore and a man is in the distance with a long staff, dragging it in the sand. “That’s him,” the shapechanger says. As they approach closer they see that the man is drawing a large, detailed design. A human form swims in a twisted knot-work pattern. “Funny to see you come back here,” the man says, apparently to Gvados. The shapechanger doesn’t reply. The man looks up to the other members of the party. “I am Aleshire. What brings you to my sands?” Gvados explains, speaking in an apologetic tone. The others wonder what past the two have but discern nothing.
“I can call the waves to carry you.” Landen’s face twists in confusion. He notices the tide has come in and is in the process of washing Aleshire’s sand drawing away.
“You’ve wasted your time,” he says gesturing towards the erasing waters.
“It is an offering of praise. It is not waste, because the goddess sees my offerings and cherishes them, so if I wish I may use them to call for a favor.”
“You’re mad.” Landon believes this journey was a waste of time and offends the weather-weird. They argue about his abilities and Landon calls him a fool. “I’d like to see you prove these magics.”
“I shall give you proof in three hours if you wish it,” Aleshire says with fury.
Durgyn senses the weather-weird’s motive and believes he is telling the truth. “Landen, let it rest. I believe he can help us.” The minotaur diffuses the situation, but Landen still doubts. Hillfort’s perspective as a spellcaster however is different. He speaks to Aleshire admiringly, asking to learn more about his magic. Aleshire explains that there is no magic from him, he speaks to his goddess with the drawings in the sand and his devoted service results in granted requests.
“I know you owe me nothing,” Gvados says, “but we ask that we may save a friend of his.” Gvados gestures to Landen. Aleshire looks at the thief distastefully, but replies.
“To save a friend, it would be a pleasure. This is a good cause. I must call the weather and the tides properly, and you will need to submit to magical sleep.”
The party agrees to submit to Aleshire’s magic, and one at a time they step forward to be put to sleep. Aleshire casts the spell on Gvados, but he resists and it had no effect. Aleshire shakes his head at the shapechanger and moves on. Gerard struggles but eventually falls subject to the spell. Landen is last and frankly tells Aleshire, “I am of elven blood. I do not, and cannot sleep.”
“Well,” Aleshire grins. “the journey will be less pleasant for you.”
As the group sleeps on the sand lined up like slain bodies, Landen sits next to them watching Aleshire work. He mutters some foreign words and the tide retreats, leaving him a blank canvas. He begins to draw in the sand with his staff, placing rocks in nodes of his design. At the center are the adventurers.
“How do we get back?” Landen asks.
“Well I am not going with you. And the spell only works one way. You’ll have to figure that out.”
The weather begins to change. Storm clouds quickly advance on the shore from the ocean and the water becomes restless farther out at sea. Gvados tries his best to rest but becomes restless and begins to panic. Aleshire offers assistance and casts charm person on Gvados, but the effects are minimal. The weather-weird speaks softly into the shapechanger’s ear, “If the spell fails, I did not wish to kill you.”
- The waves wash over the adventurer’s bodies and pull them out to sea. Gvados and Landen try their hardest to rest, but as they’re pulled out into the ocean and their companions are swallowed by the waves they begin to think they’ve been cruelly tricked. With no shore in sight, they each experience being in a stormy ocean, waves slamming them into the water as they drown and loose consciousness.
- Gradually the adventurers wake one-by-one on a hot, sandy shore. As they walk the beach they find everyone, including Gvados and Landen… everyone but one. Hillfort is missing and no where in sight, but off in the south they see a strange city: buildings with curves and domed rooftops. Gvados recognizes the skyline as that of Rhatram. The spell worked, they arrived except for one, and they decide their only option is to head toward the city. Landen decides the journey would be more pleasant shirtless due to the scouring heat.
Speaker in Dreams
Leaving Shiny Cove
Ashes and the Ocean