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Narrator
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Once again the duo hailed a carriage to avoid soiling they nice clothing. One need not worry as much about getting armor and equipment dirty, but the muck of walking would quickly destroy finery.

Although the bards could both magically mend and clean, why do so when a couple silver would get them there faster anyway?

They certainly looked the part this time as they entered the noble quarters. The carriage stopped in front of the magnificent Castle Shard. Shard’s drawbridge was down, covering the magical, purple moat.

Castle Chard Battle Map overhead Layout with Ground Level, Moat, and Upper Level

After a light knock on the imposing doors, Kadmus the majordomo greeteded them warmly and introduced himself.

“How lovely to see you all. You warm our castle with your presence.”

He was extremely polite, gracious, and kind. He attempted to put them at ease rather than reinforce the fact they have just come to one of the most infamous places in the city. Kadmus informed them Mand was running late, and asked them to wait in the castle’s meeting room.

On their way there, they saw Lady Rill. “I am Rill, Lady of Castle Shard,” she said. Today she floated around cross-legged on a platform held aloft by softly tweeting birds. She made her appearance before they even got to the meeting room, and floated away as suddenly as she appeared.

Lord Zavere and Lady Rill The Lords of Castle Shard in the Nobles Quarters of Ptolus

Zavere awaited them in the meeting room. “I am Zavere of Castle Shard. Kadmus, see to it that every courtesy is extended to our young guests here.” Lord Zavere was extremely confident, poised, and forceful. He showed the two every courtesy. Kadmus returned shortly with a tray of afternoon wines, teas, and honeyed biscuits. Mand showed up eventually, and Zavere waited for him to begin to explain why the bards were there.

Zavere responded, “I understand that you have dealt with Toridan Cran. Toridan’s brother, Linech, is also a small-time gangster. Truthfully, a man of little consequence, but more successful than Toridan. He has, however, crossed us in the past, and now he’s up to something new. He’s hiring adventurers. He’s never done that before. At the very least, we want to know what he’s doing. We might also want to put a stop to it. His actions indicate a sudden influx of resources, when we thought he was already overextended.”

Mand then explained, “Linech is a drug smuggler. He has a small operation on some island to the north where his people manufacture shivvel. He brings it in on ships. Something bad happened on the island recently, however, and we believed he was finished. Now, it appears otherwise.”

Zavere offeres them each 100 gp to go to Linech and take whatever job he was offering, so they could find out what it was and report back to Castle Shard. “Do well on this, and you’ll be invited to return.”

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Vogh
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As Vogh and Talin made their way to Castle Shard, Vogh remembered something very important about arriving as a guest to Noble Families homes.  One should pay a tribute of like kindness at the entry.  Driver, can we stop please at The Silver Cup.  I would like to purchase a gift for our arrival, Vogh called out to the driver.

As the carriage finally pulled up, Vogh jumped out of the carriage asking Talin to wait.  She went inside and looked about for a moment trying to find something that caught her fancy.  Finally, she looked upon an ink pot.  It was designed to actually look like Castle Shard.  When Vogh inquired about the ink pot the owner said it was a replica of the building.  The different spires could house various inks inside making it one of a kind.  When he told her it cost 10 gold, Vogh almost lost her break fast, but she held her composure and put her hand to her pouch which now sat inside her brasserie.  She pulled out a platinum and thanked the owner.  She rushed back to the carriage with the gift and after getting inside she showed Talin.  His eyes told her she had picked the right object as a gift.

A little while longer and they arrived at the gates to Castle Shard.  It was different this time as the drawbridge was down and they were able to enter into the courtyard.  The carriage driver dropped them off and they knocked on the door, a gentleman answered and was very pleasant.  He ushered them to the meeting room to await Mard, but before they left the entrance Vogh pulled out the ink pot and placed it on a ledge along the left wall.  The spot she picked had sunlight pouring onto the spot from an arrow slit on the other side.

Along the way seeing Lady Rill floating there was magnificent.  How had the birds carried her?  Was it magic or something entirely different Vogh nor Talin knew.  When they finally entered the meeting room and Lord Zavere was there to greet them, Vogh gave a slight curtsy.  Vogh and Talin then listened to the proposition made by Zavere.  Easy enough Vogh thought as she looked to Talin…  The look on his face was not something she expected to see.  Something was really bothering him and she would find out when they left…  Vogh had asked him about it before but his quietness on the subject told her he didn’t want to say anything.

Looking back to Lord Zavere, Vogh said, we will find out as much information as we can.  Thank you for trusting in us, we won’t let you down.

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Narrator
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Both Talin and Vogh could not hide their surprise after Lord Zavere left when Mand explained the criminal Linech Cran operated out of a burrow (cul-de-sac) in the Rivergate District, so far east as to be against the city wall there.

The bards were shocked a drug dealing criminal would operate from one of the sleepiest districts in Ptolus with so many wealthy individuals so near. Nevertheless, the instructions were as clear as going straight down Wash Street and turning right onto the last road.

After leaving the gracious hosts of Castle Shard, they quickly hunted down and hailed a carriage to get them to the Minstrel and then Cran’s area as quickly as possible.

They rushed through the Mistral, which was rather empty mid-afternoon, but not fast enough to arise suspicion or questions. After shedding the fine clothing and arming up they returned to the carriage who was paid to wait.

Vogh specifically requested the driver take them back through oldtown. This gave Talin the good fortune of crossing over the Rivergate Bridge for the first time in his life.

Oldtown had a desultory gate, never guarded or closed, which opened onto the bridge which covered the expanse between the cliff edge of Oldtown to the cliff edge of Rivergate, crossing over the King’s River. From the carriage it was possible to see the small bridge before the Wings Falls. The river seemed to just disappear over the ledge. Looking down was ill advised as the bridge was high over the river valley below.

They made it quickly across and into Rivergate where they promptly stopped the carriage, paid and exited on Tabor Street where it intersected with Outer Ring Row, so named because it circumvented the largest part of Rivergate. From there they walked to Wash Street, turned East and found the final road on their right.

Indeed, the unnamed road did end in a cul-de-sac. It appeared to be a typical Rivergate burrow, consisting of a cluster of houses on two levels surrounding a decorative fountain.

Players Map of Linech Cran's Burrow for Ptolus Adventure the City by the Spire

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Vogh
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Yes I can see it on the map.  Also, today is when we are supposed to get our belts.  When is the question though….

Vogh and Talin their adventure gear, when they arrived back at the Minstrel.  Vogh and Talin could see looks from the few patrons that were there, but it didn’t bother them too much.

As the made their way through Oldtown and out onto the bridge that went to Riverton, it gave both Vogh and Talin a great view out over the city.  It was a beautiful site to be sure.

They finally arrived on the outskirts of the burrow and as the carriage stopped they exited the coach and moved up into the burrow.  Neither of them knew where Linech’s office was so they decided to ask this well-dressed male that was just exiting the burrow off to somewhere in Riverton they supposed.

Excuse me Sir, might you know where Linech’s Office is?  We Heard that he is hiring some adventurers for a mission and thought we would look into it.  Vogh asked kindly.

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Narrator
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The man Vogh asked immediately pointed to the building just up the ramp and to the right, saying that was Linech’s office. Upon entered the building, they encounter a halfling. He wore fine chain beneath a baggy shirt. A well-crafted mace was on one hip, and a small crossbow on the other. He wore small spectacles and looked up from a stack of papers on his desk when they entered.

When Talin explained they were there to fill an adventure job they heard Linech was hiring for, he introduced himself. “My name is Seanus (SHAY-nus) and I am Mr. Cran’s assistant.” Also in the first floor reception room was a thin female with her head thrown back over a couch, obviously asleep, in the middle of the afternoon. Seanus motioned for them to follow him upstairs to see the boss.

The halfling led them up the stairs and immediately through a door at the top to enter an office which took up nearly the entire second floor. Sitting behind a nicely carved, hardwood desk covered with papers, maps, and ledgers was a very large half-orc. It was clear he could not have full orc blood, but he was a fantastic specimen with well defined muscles and he was even well dressed.

Linech Cran Male half orc Sorcerer Neutral Evil of Ptolus Adventure

A large, unattractive human woman sat reclined in a plush chair, feet propped up on a matching ottoman. She too wore armor, fine leather with metals studs. A large wooden shield lay next to her, along with a very well crafted sword and an extra thick – unstrung – longbow clearly designed for her considerable… strength.

The office was nice, although a large gold statue of a nobleman seemed out of place. Linech had brown hair and was good looking, in a rugged sort of way, for a halforc. Clutched between his lips was a lit, and rather smelly cigar.

Seanus shut the door behind them and remained inside to listen, with a pad and paper.

“Mr. Cran, these two are here to discuss the open position for adventurers.”

Linech tried to talk like a sophisticate, but he was clearly at heart, a lowclass hood.

“Hey. I do gots a job. My daughter, she died and her body was being brought back to the city, when the ship carrying her went down in flames. I want ya to bring her back, and figya out what happened. The ship, the Arrowhead, it went down moored in the harbor and sunk to the bottom of the bay. I wanna bring her back and burry her proper. You gotta go down and get her. I had her put in a sealed, glass coffin. Ya gotta bring up the whole coffin to earn ya coin. I’m offering 1,200 gold for bringing her back to me.”

Seanus chimed in with a quiet voice, “There may be others interested in the Arrowhead, interested in the contents of the hold. Mr. Cran cares not about the cargo, he only wishes his dear little girl returned…”

Linech nodded and took over again, “I gots some magic potions to let ya breathe underwater. You bring me the whole coffin back with my precious girl and I’ll give ya the twelve hundred, and you can keep anything else you find. Seanus here will go with ya, and he’s got his own potion if ya need him to go down with you.””

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Vogh
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Vogh greeted the little halfling, she always had liked their kind.  So joyful and easy to talk with, though maybe a little too friendly at times.  She laughed inside at her thought about this one that tried to get with her in the past…

It is a pleasure to meet you Seamus, Vogh said before they began heading upstairs to Linech.  When they reached the second floor it was obvious that this whole space was an office and sitting behind a desk across the way was a rather large orc, or at least that is what he looked like from the stairs.  As they approached somewhat and was introduced, VOgh could see that the orc was indeed a half-orc.  The other thing that stood out to Vogh was the large gold statue of a nobleman.  There had to be some story behind this statue, but that would be for another time.  First the mission…

As Linech laid out what the mission was and the reward for retrieving his daughter, which he didn’t seem too distraught about which was weird, Vogh said, Greetings Mr. Cran before we accept the mission is there any other information that you might have regarding how the ship sank?  Also, who might the other parties be that would be interested in the cargo?  What kind of cargo was it carrying?  Vogh had other questions to ask but figured too much might look like they didn’t know what they were doing.  The price was right, and getting to use a potion to breathe and swim under the water would be great.

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Narrator
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“That’s one o’ the things what I’m paying you for to find out, now isn’t it?” Linech responded about what happened. Regarding the cargo they couldn’t quite tell if he was lying, but they sure suspected, “I don’t know what all cargo was in the ship. I just hired it to carry my daughter home, see? But it’s at the bottom of the bay, so whatever you find, is yours.”

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Vogh
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Well, sounds reasonable.  Thought I would ask.  Oh and I don’t think we need to have Seamus around with us.  We kind of work as a team, it seems to work well.  Vogh commented.

If that is all then we will take our leave and begin to figure out this.  Vogh said at last.

If there is nothing else, Vogh and Talin head back towards The Minstrel.  No knowing if someone would follow them.  Once close they get let off in Delver’s square.  Vogh will work on getting any tail they might have, lost.

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Narrator
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Linech nodded as Vogh spoke, he seemed distracted by something, not her face, and waved off her comment about Seanus.

“Fine. Fine. Just get my daughter back to me.”

The little halfling did not seem to mind either, clearly more accustomed to the comforts of an office than being out in the thick of things.

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Narrator
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The duo ducked down an alley, quickly changed their appearance, then reappeared out another alley and headed into the Minstrel like different people. Vogh did not notice anyone following their carriage, nor anyone paying undue attention to the couple now.

Still early in the evening, they headed up to their regular room and adjusted their disguises back to their own features. When the duo sat on the bed, they noticed something amiss. Talin pulled back the sheets and they were delighted to see two belts. They were broad leather, with three moonstones in each.

When they wrapped the supple leather constrictors around themselves, they could feel the magical healing power at their fingertips. How handy it would be to heal their own wounds whenever injured, rather than having to limp back to a cleric somewhere in the city. Brother Fabitor was a great man, but he would not accompany them into the city sewers, or now out into the dangerous waters of the Ptolus bay.

So armed, armored and magically prepared they once again left the Minstrel. Unfortunately there was no back door, so they quickly made their way across the entrance and out the door into the setting Ptolus evening sun.

For the third time that day they hailed a carriage and headed to the Noble’s District. Traffic through Dalenguard Castle was heavier with carriages leaving and returning to the Noble’s Houses, resulting in a short line before Vogh and Talin could proceed through and up the winding path to the wealthiest area in Ptolus.

Moments later Talin paid the carriage, with a small tip, and they entered Castle Shard for the second time. Kadmus once again greeted them almost immediately after they knocked on the large doors and ushered them inside. He led them into a large dining hall with a table to match the room’s size with many, many seats. Lord Zavere was at the head of the table, finishing his evening meal. Kadmus offered to bring Vogh and Talin plates and drink if they so desired.

“Back so soon my friends?” The Lord greeted them and gestured they join him at the table. After the bards detailed what Linech had tasked them with he nodded. Vogh immediately noticed Lord Zavere become very uncomfortable when they shared about Linele’s (Linech’s daughter) death. he moved past that moment quickly. “You’ve done well for having only departed mere hours ago.” The handsome Lord smiled at them both. “I will double my original offer, 200 crowns each, if you will accept this job, investigate the ship, and bring anything suspicious back to me rather than Cran. If the man merely wants his daughter returned, I have no problem with that, but I fear something more is going on here.”

Healing Belt:

While wearing a healing belt, you gain a +2 competence bonus on Heal checks. This is a continuous effect and requires no activation.

In addition, the belt has 3 charges, which are renewed each day at dawn. Spending 1 or more charges allows you to channel positive energy and heal damage with a touch. (You can also use this ability to harm undead, dealing them an equivalent amount of damage instead.)

1 charge: Heals 2d8 points of damage.
2 charges: Heals 3d8 points of damage.
3 charges: Heals 4d8 points of damage.

09:30, Today: Secret Roll: DM, for the NPC Zavere, rolled 23 using 1d20+4.  Bluff check.
09:29, Today: Secret Roll: DM rolled 24,11 using 1d20+12,1d20+6.  Sense Motive: Vogh / Talin.

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Vogh
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Vogh almost forgot to mention something,  Lord Zavere, we already accepted the mission.  We have potions that will allow us to breathe underwater and are all ready to go down into the depths.  There was something else that seemed weird though.  THere was a gold statue of what looked to be a nobleman.  It seemed so out of place that it stuck out to us.

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Narrator
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Zavere opened his eyes wide at Vogh’s mention of a gold statue of a nobleman. He nodded to Kadmus to moved swiftly out of the room and soon returned with Lady Rill leading. The beautiful woman, Lady Lord of Castle Shard, strode into the dining room. A gem seemed to be embedded in her forehead, she walked barefoot, and wore a loose and sheer white robe that danced around her with every movement.

The two conferred in whispered tones too quiet for the bards to hear. Lady Rill stood and nodded, without speaking further. Lord Zavere explained, “My friends, thank you for sharing this with us. I do not believe that to be a statue at all, but a friend of ours long missing. If you would be willing, we will gladly pay a hundred dragons (platinum) if you would ‘rescue’ him from the clutches of Cran. I will even see to it a wagon and team are made available to you when you need them.”

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Vogh
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When Lord Zavere called for Lady Rill and they spoke after the description of the statue, Vogh knew something was amiss.  When it was described to her that it was a friend, Vogh’s mouth visibly dropped.  She had no idea how something like that could happen.  She had heard of turning to stone, but never gold??  She would inquire about this later for now as Lord Zavere said he would give 100 dragons to them to recover the statue she was already nodding in agreement.  Vogh wished she could know if someone was evil or good for it would help her make quicker decisions.

Yes, for sure we will gladly try to retrieve the statue for you.  First, though we retrieve the coffin for Linech.  It is getting late though so it may be a better idea to go into the harbor at sunrise.  We will be better prepared by then.  With that, she bid farewell to the lord and lady and together they made their way back to the Minstrel.

The next morning they rose early, ate break fast and then headed to the harbor.

Arriving at the harbor Vogh inquired to the harbormaster about the fire on a boat in the harbor recently.  She asked if they could rent or be chartered out to the harbor where the boat sank as they were hired to recover items from the boat.

18:34, Today: Vogh rolled 11,20,12,23 using d20+7,d20+4,d20+7,d20+4.  Vogh then Talin twice for different people if they must.

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