We left Waterford and made our way to Luminar, passing a troop of clowns and watermelon merchants... or something like that, anyway. While resting for the night, Thrur and Ghost spotted small lights in the distance. Linora flew ahead (as a bat, of course) and discovered that they were heading towards us. Most of the group, sans Dwight's men and Ayman, headed off to figure out what the lights were. Eventually we reached them and saw a group of cloaked and robed figures carrying lanterns.
Ghost called out to them, inquiring who they were. Their response was "those who fell at your hand and were reborn" and that we'd "fall to the Brotherhood of Dread" and that they'd kill us like they did our wizard. They seemed taken aback when we explained that our wizard was perfectly fine, thank you. We fought what turned out to be skeleton creatures and after Vordb caused the non-skeletal duo to fall to their knees (defeat by itching; must have been rather embarrassing for them) and call back their minions, I was able to Charm one of them, which was enough to essentially control both for the time being.
We finished off the skeleton things and I asked why they keep attacking us and who sent them. Their answer was that we attacked them first (okay, possibly, but what are we, seven? Come on.) and that they were sent by their master, "the dark one", to go after us. I got them to drop their weapons and magic items; when the non-Charmed one tried to pull out a scroll (last time they teleported away with one, right?), Linora's dog tore it up. Ghost retrieved these items, minus the chewed-up paper. We tied them up and brought them back to camp. We learned that their names were Ruger and Tarus and while he was on watch, they tried to convince Vordb to join them. Wisely, our necromancer declined joining their Brotherhood of Buffoonery.
The next day we reached Luminar; on the way, Sir Thopas informed us that that was were he was from. Here we split up, Linora and Shocko going to the tavern (of course), Vordb and I to the temple of Apollo, and the rest to the keep. Vordb and I were led to the librarian at the temple, a fairly unhelpful priest named Teegarden, and the Abbott Aldebaran (I have no idea if I'm spelling any of these names correctly) found us a book on the Brotherhood of Dread, then went with us to the keep.
Meanwhile at the keep, most of our group met with Lord Renson (Sir Thopas' father) and our prisoners were locked up in the cells there. After dinner, we were escorted to the cells, where we questioned the priests again- or tried to. Ruger was so annoying that I quickly had enough and silenced him with a spell. Tarus, the Charmed and much more helpful prisoner, didn't tell us a whole lot more, however, mostly that his master thinks we're a threat to his order (okay, yes, we did destroy their temple and kill this priest twice, but they were asking for it). Vordb and I were able to get Tarus to tell us that the BoD is issuing currently from a stronghold to the east of the country's border, a few days from Haumar (and that you could see the mountain in the distance), and that this was their only temple since we'd destroyed the other (score one for us, I suppose). They'd been following us since we'd crossed the river. When we asked if they were aligned with any dragons, his answer was "Huh?" so I take that as a no.
Later I headed back to the temple to read that book on the Brotherhood of Dread and poked around at the library while the rest headed to the tavern (drunk singing about Linora slaying a dragon, her, Vordb and Shocko passing out... the usual). Ghost tried the ring of invisibility, but couldn't get it to work, and Ayman detected that the staves of the priests did radiate magic. Ghost then went to the temple, as well, asking about the items she now had in her possession; they couldn't identify them, but the librarian (actually being somewhat helpful for once), was able to find some books on staves, identifying them as a Staff of Striking and some sort of staff-into-mace weapon. Ayman did learn, however, that one of the rings was a Ring of Blinking and another was one of air elemental control.
The next day we set off again, our prisoners in toe (well, wagon), with a wagon team carrying fabrics that would go with us to Rinos. Tarus was still Charmed, so we gagged just Ruger. That night, Linora heard loud hooting in the trees; once again turning into a bat, she flew up to investigate and startled a person out of the tree by reverting back to human. We were quickly surrounded by a group of armed and armored men, the leader bearing a shield with a triple snake symbol. This one began talking and we learned that they were highwaymen and wanted the items in our wagons. The group agreed that they wanted no part of that and got to action. Ghost used her new Blinking ring, Ayman threw a web at them, I summoned eight bears (I love that spell!) and Vordb cast Irritation again while the rest did their attacks. They retreated, but between the bears and our fighters, we were able to get most of them and took eight prisoner. Ghost asked one of them what the snake symbol meant, but he didn't know.
The following day, we set off again with our rapidly growing collection of captives and reached Stonebarrow in the evening, where we dropped off the extras. While traveling the next morning, we began to see more mercenaries and fighters; Dwight said that it's likely the prince was raising an army, or something like that. Ghost flagged down one of them and asked what was going on. She was told that the king's heralds had been putting up fliers saying that soldiers were needed. Dwight informed us that the king has one brother, but in the priesthood, so there wasn't likely anyone who would contend the throne.
I seem to have lost track of what the next place we visited was- perhaps this was Stonebarrow instead? Anyway, at this town we found tents set up outside the city. Ayman asked someone as we passed by, and was told that they were heading to Rinos to join up with the army. In town their were two inns, but both were full; I was able to stay at the temple of Apollo, but the rest of the group were stuck camping. Ghost went to the constable to drop off our two captive priests and found that the jail was almost full (lots of people passing through town equals lots of miscreants), as well. At one of the inns, we started hearing many conflicting rumors: a vampire hunter in Rinos, the king's consorting with dragons, he speaks to the dragon, the king's an imposter controlled by a bishop (wait, wait, could that be the king's brother in the priesthood? I just thought of that), the king's preparing for war to the east, there's a vampire lurking around Rinos, the king was killed by an assassin... all strange and conflicting rumors that must have been recent because they hadn't reached Joven or Woodland yet. I believe Dwight may have been spreading rumors about himself, so hooray for even more discord and confusion. I approve. Linora, Vordb and Shocko got into a very amusing brawl while there before it was unfortunately broken up by the constable. (Hmph. I'd been enjoying dinner and a show.)
The next morning Ghost and SwampFox retrieved our prisoners and Vordb and Linora went to the fish market and the town hall to seek out rumors (the fish market? Really? Okay then). Dwight told us that he'd heard about an evil wizard leading an army to the east, that a hydra was under the castle and about that vampire. We traveled on and after lunch reached a traffic jam; three or four trees were blocking the road. Irking Linora because she wasn't able to use her super-human strength here, Ayman greased the fallen trees and I used the Ring of the Ram to clear them away (okay, I'll admit that it's nice to actually do something strong; otherwise I'd just be shoving twigs away or the like). It looked as though the trees had fallen over, rather than had been cut.
We traveled for a few more days with no more excitement and finally reached Rinos late in the day. We entered through the south entrance because Dwight informed us that it would be the least crowded, and passed the lake outside town. In town, I was impressed; there was not only a large mosque, but three smaller shrines, as well! I'm from Woodland, so I'm used to a good-sized mosque, but that was tiny compared to the one in Rinos, and never before have I come across shrines of my order. ... and I'm rambling. Sorry about that. We went to the inn to eat and get ourselves washed up, then Shocko, Vordb and Linora went (where else?) to the Sword and Spear tavern to game and drink. It being too late in the day to deliver my letter to the king, Ayman and I headed north, listening for any gossip along the way (we didn't hear anything), so I could report in at the main mosque. I dropped the Gate plans off with Edward, the Head Messenger, and explained to him how they worked (I'll help them out with this later), then met up with Ayman again to listen to the Van Hailenne minstrel show, where SwampFox joined us. We left him behind (he must like music. Who knew?) and headed towards the inner wall of the city, where I'd figured out that the army was stationed; I knew my brother, a lieutenant in the army, to still be in Rinos. At that entrance, the guards eventually let us in, involving a very believable stick figure drawing by Ayman showing that, yes, I was in fact related to Lieutenant Conroy, see the family resemblance? (No idea how that worked.) But at least it meant I didn't have to hurl a rock over the wall with a message attached to it since I had no spells at the ready to send over a messenger-bird.
The guards led us to the army barracks while I apparently speculated about hitting my brother in the head with small message-rocks, and Ayman and I met up with Kendric. It was wonderful to see him again! It had been years since I saw him last and I've missed him very much. He led us to that tavern where, amazingly, Linora and Co. hadn't broken the place down yet, and after he got his behind kicked by Linora at arm wrestling (hey, I've warned him that she's a very competent warrior!), the group began questioning him. Kendric actually verified one of the crazier rumors by saying that he'd met that vampire hunter- apparently named "Gordo Rojo" (Really? I wonder if he's making this up), and told us that the army has been training all those new people coming in, but he doesn't know why the king is calling for it. I think he mentioned that he thinks the prince may be involved. Vordb asked him if he'd know how to get to the hydra (dragon? Wyvern?) under the castle and, after getting much of a blank look from my brother, Ken's most helpful answer was "get thrown in jail". (Alas, I hadn't had a chance to warn Ken about Vordb, although perhaps it should be the other way around.) He also told us that the bishop has his own chambers in the castle and that it's possible to meet with him.
I'll continue this journal later, hopefully in a more timely manner. Needless to say, there is much I want to catch up with my brother with, but likely that won't be penned in this particular log.
~Cyneric Conroy, Order of the Fleet Fox
June 25th, 7th day of Darkmoon