Week 1: Unwinding in the Winefest Edit
The Faultless Arrow returned to Surujabâzar just in time to enjoy the Annual Winefest. Wary of their previous losses, this time they decided to leave all their equipment and belongings with the trustworthy bartender of The Happy Axe.
Entering the Winefest after an excruciatingly long wait in line -- unfortunately neither Ravagella could charm the guards nor Chad or Gruntz succeeded to intimidate them and let the Faultless Arrow pass in the VIP line -- Chad immediately disappeared in the crowd with the dwarrow, Grilmir. While Calenor and Virginia were silently debating the wisdom of letting Grilmir go with Chad, Gruntz also slipped away. The remaining three party members -- Ravagella, Virginia and Calenor -- enjoyed the winefest together, benefiting both from Ravagella's hut during the nights, and Virginia's detox spells in the mornings. Calenor, complaining of (non-existent) dirt on his clothes after the first night, spent the rest of his nights in his pocket dimension, inside the hut.
At the end of the winefest, the party met up at the entrance. Apparently, someone dumped Chad there the night before, half-dead from alcohol poisoning. Grilmir and Gruntz were nowhere to be seen. Asking around, the party found out Gruntz was last seen putting on his flying boots and rising up to the sky, no news of him ever since. They decided to wait for Gruntz a couple of days more in Surujabâzar, in case he turns up. The Faultless Arrow hauled Chad back to Room 0 of The Happy Axe. When awakened, he had no recollection of the Winefest, other than that he and Grilmir had the time of their lives after meeting a couple of dwarf girls on the second day.
After collecting their equipment from the bartender, Ravagella realized with horror that the Edict of Orc Army, acquired from the Imperial wizard Quintis, has disappeared. Chad also had 2 gold pieces missing from his purse, but he never realized it.
Week 2 & 3: Reunions Edit
A couple of days on the road the Faultless Arrow was still debating who gave away the secret of having an edict. Chad would have been the evident culprit, him not remembering anything he's done or said during the Winefest, until Virginia sheepishly admitted she might have written a purely academic and hypothetical letter about it to the leaders of her temple. This quickly opened the gate of confessions: Ravagella suddenly remembered one night when she performed a ballad about a powerful wizard, who acquired an orc army by the magic of a single powerful scroll. And no one was really surprised when Calenor nonchalantly added he might have bragged about his plans to expand his knowledge by studying an enormously powerful magical artifact he recently acquired. Possibly the only party member without blame was Gruntz, who disappeared on the first day of the Winefest. After this series of confessions, the party agreed it's best not to speak of the edict ever again.
The Faultless Arrow briefly stopped in Ironmar, where they parted from Virginia, as she insisted she will not enter Rubia. The rest of the party made their way towards Aerlcliff, through the lawless Cascadian Mountains and the Northern Rubian forests.
While setting camp in the forest one evening, Ravagella's keen senses heard noises of another bard singing in a nearby camp. Approaching the group of travelers, she leaped with joy as she recognized the bard: Ehrendil, an old friend from ancient times, when she was still being hauled from port to port by her parents. The ageless bard, Ehrendil was singing a tale of long-lost lands of the West, where men are few but gnomes reign free, where the kings are dragons and the rulers are gods. It was an embellished tale, but it sparked something in Ravagella: she suddenly remembered such a place from her many childhood journeys, it was called a "Protectorate" on the Western Continent. Ehrendil received a round of applause, then Ravagella quickly asked him away and they happily reminisced for the rest of the night.
To the surprise of Calenor and Chad, a familiar figure soon approached them from the crowd, an out-of-place polar bear following him. The three friends enjoyed their dinner while listening to each others' adventures. Haereldor spent an enlightening couple of weeks at the druid gathering, happy that the druids who previously rejected him now sought him out and listened to his findings with reverence. He also confirmed Calenor's theory about the gray discoloration of tree trunks in this forest, and in other nearby forests. This was in no way normal, and was actually a thick layer of ash brought here by the Southern winds, from the firestorm still raging in the heart of Rubia.
In the morning, Ravagella bid goodbye to Ehrendil, and the Faultless Arrow, now reunited with Haereldor, continued their journey home.
Weeks 4-5: Brief respite Edit
After spending several weeks on the road, the Faultless Arrow finally set their sight on Aerlcliff. No one was happier to arrive at a civilized house with real bathrooms than Calenor: he promptly ignored K who came to greet them at the front door and made his way to the master bathroom. Calenor strolled into the bathroom, unceremoniously dropping his robe on the floor, and only then did he step back with horror. The master bathroom, once lavishly decorated and embellished with gold and the finest silks, was now under renovation: some of the floor tiles were taken off, the walls were covered, and worst of all the bath he so coveted for weeks was completely missing!
After being forced to take a (delayed!) bath in one of the guest suites, Calenor joined the others in the dining hall. K was in the middle of relating the events at Aerlcliff: she and her friend, Gilip, started to renovate the rundown mansion, but it required more money than they expected. She reminded the party that if they wanted the estate to be profitable, they would all need to contribute, but the success of her speech was dubious. Ravagella and Haereldor were chatting amicably with each other during the whole time, remembering how last time at Aerlcliff they found a charming little clearing in the nearby forest, and how that must have been magical and they'll never find it again. Chad obviously paid no attention to K, and instead sampled the ale selection of Aerlcliff's cellars. Calenor also looked on the whole ordeal without hearing any of it, silently enumerating his spells to see if any of them could make the master bathroom look decent.
During the next week, K showed Chad around the nearby villages, while Haereldor and Ravagella looked for that clearing in vain. No one really met Calenor, probably for the best, as he was still sulking about his dreams of civilized living that were crushed. Then, one day, Aerlcliff received a visitor. A lone man was approaching on the back of a flying griffon. The Faultless Arrow was familiar with the Imperial Griffon Riders from the war, so everyone looked at the approaching figure apprehensively. Their fear was unfounded, though, as the visitor turned out to be Damos, their paladin friend.
Damos left his griffon at the stables, then went on to greet his old friends. He quickly summarized how he survived the Battle of Kaedwen Crossing, only to die in Oringrad during the battle. He was miraculously resurrected and escaped by an inch from the fires of the Edict. He has been serving Pelor ever since, killing bandits and helping villagers, until recently he has met and traveled with Duke Sewell's men to Ingford, the duke's estate. He was there when Duke Sewell and Queen Merilda received word of Hierarch Hammelfarn. The head of the Church of Pelor, who everyone assumed dead, was still in Oringrad in the midst of the firestorm, sheltered in the Cathedral of Pelor with a handful of survivors. Damos immediately volunteered for a rescue mission, then came to find the Faultless Arrow.
Hoping for a sizeable reward for rescuing the head of the Church of Pelor, the party set off towards Ingford, to receive instructions and negotiate their fee.
Week 6: The Flames of Oringrad Edit
The Faultless Arrow traveled to Ingford, and received the task of rescuing Hierarch Hammelfarn from the City of Flames. As Duke Sewell gave directions to the party, he also asked them to -- after rescuing the Hierarch -- pass through a secret door in the Royal Palace and help Rubia find a defense against the edicts, as well as help the duke find his half-sister, Malia.
The Arrow thus donned their protective dragonhide cloaks, and ventured into the flames.