Riches from Rags
Alys is T-60 days; payoff is 135,000GP
Jarthus has divined that Rags is Princess Agna of the Simmerforge clan, heir to kingdom of the Great Rift. This was proven by the presence of a gem embodied in her left calf. This means that her mother is Queen Karrivva, the current ruler of the Deep Rift, and her father is King Marzoss.
Jarthus (in a snobby and wordy tone): Pricess Agna, the Queen Mother has been utterly distraught since your most unnerving disappearance. It is imperative that you travel forthwith to the castle (in the capital city of Underhome) as quickly as possible. As, perchance, you are unable to recall, teleportation is impossible due to the Faerzress of the Underdark, so you will have to traverse the distance by foot. I will forward a message ahead of you, however, so the court is aware that you have been found and that you are en route. I shall arrange for a measure of protection for you, but I fear a far cry from enough to be a proper royal escort. In addition to the risk were you to openly travel as the princess, your two companions are still wanted. That being the case, I humbly suggest you continue to travel as you have been: inconspicuously amongst a group of travelers.
Jarthus: I will converse with Gromlin, Earthheart’s guard captain, and arrange your escort. Prepare yourselves to leave tomorrow at dawn. The route across the valley of the rift is direct, but it will still take 4 days to traverse, and the sooner you depart, the better for all. Here, take this (20,000GP total) to help you procure supplies for your journey. You are also welcome to abide here for the evening.
PCs can shop if they choose, or hit tavern. If need NPCs, use the following from last time:
The next morning
Gromlin shows up with two guards, Borthal and Tordek. They’re his two lieutenants, and you recognize them as the guards who’d spoken to you when you first arrived at Earthheart and the gates had shut due to the gem in Agna’s calf. Shortly thereafter, Jarthus joins you with his student, Reddick, who will complete the escort group.
Gromlin: (Introduces himself) It’s a pleasure to meet you, highness. I’m glad to know that you’ve been found. I’ve arranged for us to travel with a caravan that will meet us at the Northeast gate. They’re well-known around here, and as trustworthy as I think we can find. I’ve explained the situation to the caravan-master so he can have his people be extra alert. They’re expecting us, so we should get a move on.
As you approach the caravan, you see a multitude of familiar wagons (and faces), and it’s immediately apparent that the caravan with whom you’ll be travelling is Zarzuket’s.
Zarzuket: Wow, I can’t even say it’s been awhile. (His demeanor has returned to the warm one you remember from before his caravan was attacked by clerics of Kossuth that were looking for you.) It seems we get to continue our journeys together for a bit longer. I’ve explained to my crew that you’ll be traveling with us again, and why. Most of them are okay now, but there’s still some underlying bitterness because of what happened to Caladrel. It’d be nice if you could take some time during this trip to try to smooth things over with everyone. That said, we’ll leave whenever you’re ready.
During the first evening of traveling, when the group has stopped for the night, another earthquake occurs. Reddick approaches where PCs sit eating. Improvise conversation with PCs
These quakes are unsettling…
While the Great Rift gets the occasional vibrations, this many in such close frequency is unheard-of.
I don’t know what the cause may be; Oghma has remained silent on the subject. Even without his silence, I sense an unnatural aspect behind them; something with malice.
The Next Morning
The Great Rift is wide enough that, towards its center (which you now approach), it’s impossible to tell that you’re in a cavern because the walls are beyond your range of vision. With the sun overhead, it’s as though you were traveling across an open plain. It’s still a somewhat novel experience for Egan and Agna, but Alys becomes starkly aware of how much she’s missed genuine daylight. The three of you are enjoying the weather when mounds of earth in front of the caravan rise abruptly and are tossed to the side, revealing them to be camouflage for the half-dozen bandits that now stand before you, brandishing swords.
Gromlin (Noticing PC weapons drawn): Highness, my men and I may not be members of your royal guard, but we are capable warriors. Whatever you may have experienced since your disappearance that caused you to take up a weapon, you and your friends need not worry about battle while you are in our care.
The caravan continues to travel for a few hours after the sun sets beyond the rift’s walls, aiming to make it to The Great Thrift, an inn and general store located roughly halfway between Earthheart and Underhome.
The inn rests on the south side of a bridge crossing the river at the center of the Great Rift. Pulling up to the front, it presents a quaint appearance but a sizeable silhouette. It serves not only as a stopping point for travelers, but the river and the scenery means it’s also a common vacation spot for short trips. Zarzuket orders the caravan to set up behind the inn’s stables, while Gromlin offers to pay for you all to have a room; he’d rather you be someplace more defensible than a circle of wagons, if possible.
What do PCs say?
Either way, Ausk admits to wanting a break from cooking, and tells everyone to get their food from the inn tonight as he counts the coins in his purse. Inside, The Great Thrift has a rustic feel, similar to what you might expect from a large hunting lodge. The first floor is primarily a massive dining room, lit mostly by two roaring fireplaces (which also help to remove the slight chill from the post-dusk air). A variety of patrons are scattered about the room, from honeymooning couples to groups of adventurers. Stairs past the bar lead up to the second and third floor of the building where the guest rooms are. The bartender seems to be the only employee, but the food he brings from the back implies at least a cook as well. Ausk wastes no time heading to the bar.
What do PCs eat/drink? (Note what/how man drinks)
Roast boar with mushrooms and gravy
Quail breast with a parmesean coating and blue beans
Pan-fried flounder topped with lemon and broccoli
Scorpion tails with a dipping sauce and mashed delver peas
Great Thrift’s Stout
Roundabout’s Pale Ale
Gregor’s Wheat Ale
Rail liquor with juice
If PCs eat/drink with Ausk, he’ll eventually move on to flirt with someone across the bar. That (or at a random time) is when PCs feel like they’re being watched.
At a corner table, barely touched by the flickering firelight, a cloaked figure sits watching you. Occasionally taking a drink from his beer, his eyes rarely stray from you, even when you notice him watching.
What do PCs do? (Either approach, or not react in which case he approaches them.)
Drakmor (in a low voice): My name is Drakmor. Since you are a wild-looking gnome, and you a human with a bizarre weapon, I can only assume that you are the wanted Egan and Alys. And though I am at a loss for your name, I suspect you are similarly wanted by the followers of Kossuth. Am I right?
Drakmor & PCs interact:
No; only the weak are concerned with money. I’m interested in power.
I can help you with your problem.
My group is often at ends with Kossuth and his worshipers.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right?
I’m sure, given your predicament, you can understand my desire for secrecy.
We can make the posters go away.
We only want a favor in return, as a show of good faith.
You help us, we help you; who knows? Maybe we can work together in the future too.
Drakmor: We have a traitor that we need dealt with. That’s why I’m here. But I’m also always on the lookout for possible new allies. The traitor sleeps upstairs as we speak, and he will die tonight before he can alert the authorities of our existence. Our secrecy is of the utmost importance, and those who would seek to out us must be eliminated. If you kill him, I will eliminate the bounties on your heads. If not, I will do the job. But I would prefer the mutually beneficial solution, and it just might lead to a future relationship. What do you say?
If PCs disagree, Drakmor will express regret, and summon monsters to fight them while he vanishes. After the fight, PCs find the traitor dead upstairs. If PCs agree, go to traitor’s room. His name is Arthur, and he’s a former member of the Black Hand which Drakmor represents. If PCs attempt to get information from him, Drakmor will appear in a puff of smoke and back-stab Arthur. He then expresses regret at the PCs’ snooping, and summons monsters to fight them while he vanishes.
Improvise after the fight
The guards will have heard the ruckus and entered. Did PCs kill Arthur? What happened?
Continuing the journey
Midway through the third day, the caravan passes through a canyon roughly 20’ across, with the rock walls about 30’ high. While moving through the pass, small rocks skittering down the walls draw your attention, and you notice that more dwarf bandits are sliding down the slopes in front of the caravan.
Guards move to attack the bandits. After a round or two, a large troll leaps from the top of the canyon wall, dropping its mace on Borthal and dropping him to the ground. A round later, screams can be heard from the rear of the caravan as the true boss emerges: a juvenile Deep Dragon attacks the far end of the caravan while PCs/guards are distracted by the bandits/troll. PCs must decide where to best help. If they ignore one side, that side has casualties. If they split-up, resolve each fight individually.
The PCs were able to smooth things over with the caravan members.
At The Great Thrift, Alys and Princess Agna agreed to assassinate Arthur in exchange for Drakmor making their bounties go away. Egan disagreed, but accompanied them at a distance in case anything went awry. The assassination went well, and Arthur was dragged bodily into an abyss. Afterwards, Drakmor was nowhere to be found, but the copies that Egan and Alys had of their bounties had vanished, replaced with the image of a Black Hand.
Continuing the journey, the PCs fought both the dragon and the troll/bandits during the final fight. Borthal was still slain by the troll, but Agna and Tordek survived. Alys jumped on Zeuroth’s back, and jumped off from 120’ when it became apparent that he was fleeing. She survived the fall, but broke her right leg which reduces her speed to 5 and requires a regeneration spell to heal.
After time for mourning and interaction, but eventually the caravan continued and arrived at Underhome (during the segue).
Alys is T-55 days; payoff is 135,000GP