Over a week, we take time to ourselves after all of that battling together.
Kostner gets some help from a member of the Eagle Watch to make progress on his bow project. He sees that Ajax seems to have reverted to more or less a normal sloth from the demon-slaughtering machine he’d been.
Susannae helps to clean up and resanctify the Grey Garrison. She also takes time to ride and familiarize herself with her summoned mare. She also works to reconstruct the temple of Iomedae.
Halved travels around with his tunes, generally confusing people with what they are about. He plays in abandoned bars and taverns. He hears arguments about me, sometimes, whether I was a half-demon planned by the Riftwardens to fight demons or if that was merely the cover story from my demonic controllers.
I moved around the city trying to find out more about the Silken Sin or the three identified cultists but could not find any sign of them. I did see Halved at one of those empty taverns but really couldn’t think of anything to talk about.
Neva has recurring dreams about the helm she saw with the glowing red eyes. She learns from a cleric of Iomedae that it is the symbol of Gorum, whose worshippers idolize the madness of battle. She learns there are few adherents as they strive for a glorious death.
She goes to Horgus Gwerm’s estate. He says his plan is to hire his staff back. He asks if she would recruit and train new guards for him and pays her 500gp. She selects six that seem trustworthy. He also asks that if she meets people of importance as the city recovers that she drop his name as someone to work with for supplies and infrastructure.
Halved sings for some crusaders looking to blow off steam, favoring Oldlaw Whiskey. A gnome woman approaches him and says, “You’re pretty good at… that thing,” referring to his homemade instrument. Her name is Nurah Denidwhur and she says some of her fellow bards would likely be interested in his style since he is clearly not trained, but could maybe teach them something. She gives him a leather bracelet with a dragon biting its tail stitched on it. She says it is related to the famous Karcau Opera and that this should get him some credibility in talking to real musicians.
They have some drinks and Nurah claims she’s in Kenabres working for the Queen, getting a sense of the city and the story here in advance of Her Majesty’s arrival.
More advance troops arrive which help greatly with the relief and reconstruction.
A man calls out to Kostner for help. He says a demon robbed and broke up his house. Kostner thinks it was the work of an abrikandilu but he isn’t able to tell how many there were so he heads to Defender’s Heart to collect the others.
Sphex’s birth anvil is still there. Kimroth is getting the rest of the Inn back to normal, though, charging people again. Though the crowd is subdued still. As Susannae, Neva, and Halved break their fast, a man bursts in frantically. He goes to a corner of the Inn where Eloise has set up a small makeshift comfortable area as a shrine to Calistria. He throws himself on the ground before her.
She shakes him and calms his babbling. He claims he wants to repent and serve her. He doesn’t explain himself well but she does not turn him away. Susannae approaches, sensing an opportunity. She thinks that he has sustained some injuries or may be diseased.
Eloise gives him some minor surcease and then orders him to clean himself up. Susannae tells him he is welcome here as a place of rest. She adds, “I don’t see why you would join that particular church.”
Eloise points out to her that in times like these, the gods have similar goals. Susannae tells her that Socothbenoth attacked her mother and she understands also attacked Eloise. They discuss the merits and similarities and differences of justice versus revenge, finding some things to agree upon. Susannae concludes by saying it is time to rebuild and Eloise says maybe things could begin with this one, referring to the man.
Kostner arrives as Eloise and Susannae change topic and discuss strategy towards attacking Socothbenoth and my name is brought up. Kostner tells them about the abrikandilu so they head off, running into me, as I’d been on my way to collect my share of the sold equipment and I join up with them.
On the way, I tell Susannae about what I’ve learned of the Silken Sin. We discuss how to track them down and why they might have chosen her mom. I think maybe there is something in her past that her father wouldn’t want her to know.
Kostner follows the trail with Ajax’s help, leading us around corners and side streets. He sees some movement in an abandoned building and an abrikandilu runs out, trying to escape.
Kostner chases and steps into some runes which open up, summoning a pair of dretches on either side of him. He shoots one down.
The abrikandilu takes cover and begins to summon more assistance. The remaining dretch belches out its foul cloud. I create an illusion of a barbarian rushing into the cloud but then becoming overcome with nausea, standing helplessly next to the dretch.
Neva maneuvers around the cloud and down the road towards the abrikandilu and Susannae blesses her bow. The real Halved dashes around the cloud.
Kostner stabs at the dretch with my old rapier, ignoring the stench by stuffing his mustache up his nose. Another abrikandilu appears, successfully summoned. It beans Halved in the head with a bottle.
The dretch rips at my illusion which is now stumbling and wetting itself. Neva charges the newly-arrived abrikandilu but misses with her ranseur. Susannae fires through the mist and hits the dretch twice.
Halved slashes up that new abrikandilu. Kostner cuts up the dretch. The first abrikandilu tries to escape, flinging debris. The other claws and bites Halved, causing an ugly scar. I dash up through the dissipating cloud and burst through my illusion with Sphex but miss the dretch. Susannae shoots the fleeing abrikandilu. Halved finishes off the other and moves to chase the first. Kostner finishes off the dretch.
Susannae is angrily calling out for someone to stop the last abrikandilu from getting away. I point out that Halved will finish it easily and that he is faster than it. She appears unimpressed so I ask if it would make her happy if I helped. She said it would. She says she hates when people are bad and not punished. I say, “I’ve been bad.” She says, “Maybe you need to be punished.” While I leer at her, I pull out my wand and casually point it in the general direction of the abrikandilu smacking it with a few magic missiles. “Impressive,” she notes and then adds a couple more arrows to it. Then Halved finishes it, predictably.
The demon corpses melt down into the ground. Kostner finds some damaged objet d’art they’d taken. I think about this trap here and wonder about an abrikandilu pulling a trick like this. I don’t think they have it in them. Searching the house it had been in, I just find some debris and emptied food sacks and waste.
We ponder if that guy had set Kostner up. If he’d been alone, this might have been a decent ambush.
Going back to the guy’s house, he seems genuinely grieving for his objects of sentimental value. He gives over a resplendent necklace as a reward for their return. He didn’t seem like someone who had sent Kostner into a trap.
A lightly-armored soldier runs up with a missive. “To the esteemed heroes of Kenabres…” It is an invitation to meet the Queen and have a banquet at a time and place of our choosing in no later than two days’ time. Kostner, though, gets a strange sense from the message that there is a hidden request, to meet north of the Defender’s Heart in a house outside the city walls. He asks Neva to look at it and she gets the same sense.
We discuss in Abyssal that we will immediately seek the Queen north of the city but we will tell the courier officially that tomorrow at sunset we’ll have our banquet at the Defender’s Heart.