After a short period of indecision, Aldo Lightfoot decided on the following: He would forge some kind of document that stated the taxes were going to entirely to Duke Hallum himself. Aldo would make the king believe that Hallum was in league with Wexley, and that the two shared the profits of their illicit subterfuge. “Have my gold and spend it too…” Aldo quietly thought to himself. Surely Hallum would take the fall, which he deserved in the party’s opinion after attempting to assassinate Abasha for reasons still yet unknown. Aldo and Norvi were the discoverers of the illicit chest of over 1000 gold pieces which had been originally destined for the capital as tax money. Therefore, only they would split it. They divided the pile into 2 roughly equal halves, and each weighed down their packs with it.
Back on the surface, Krömm Thanek was celebrating his victory in a way only he could. He went immediately to Viktor’s Flowers and swung the door wide. “You, orc! What is it you want now?!” Victor Howled. Without a word, Krömm produced the battered, severed head of Wexley and extended it in front of him, inches from Viktor’s face. It is important to note at this time, that the expression on Viktor’s face indicated that this was not the first severed head to be presented to him in such a way. As he leaned back and his eyes focused on the mangled thing, his imagination put the torn pieces of his flesh where they ought to be. When the puzzle was revealed, the color drained from his face. He took a step back, and stared down his former employer for what seemed to be a good long while. “Oh no! Don’t send Wexley after me!” Krömm mocked as he swung the head like a pendulum held by the hair. “So you got him,” Viktor said in a low tone. “What now? You want my product?” He threw a pouch on the counter in front of him. It opened as it landed, spilling some kind of yellow powder. Krömm shook his head menacingly slow. “What then? You taking over? What kind of cut?” Krömm lunged across the counter, grabbing Viktor by the throat and holding him firmly. Viktor’s hands shot up to his neck, but he relaxed a bit when he discovered he could breathe again. Krömm had loosened his grip, but still held Viktor fast. “You going to kill Wiktor then? Go ahead. Take my life.” Viktor sputtered out. Krömm drew his dagger and brought it to Viktor’s face. “Maybe.” For a long moment Krömm seemed to be sincerely uncertain whether to end Viktor’s life or not. It is uncertain what was running through the half-orc’s mind at that thoughtful moment, but whatever it was, it convinced Krömm to release Viktor. He gasped, and dropped to his knees. “Well? What do you wait for?” he asked in a haggard Spopovan accent. I’m not going to kill you." said Krömm. Viktor slowly stood. “But you are leaving this city. If I ever catch you anywhere near here again, you’re dead.” Viktor nodded his head and Krömm turned to leave.
Krömm met Norvi at Wexley’s pub, where Norvi had already put himself to the daunting task of emptying Wexley’s liquor stockpile. Krömm lit a fire in the pub’s hearth, and shared drinks and jokes with Norvi. They both turned when the heard footsteps entering through the smashed doorway. It was a very bewildered kobold. His eyes darted nervously about as he pieced together the scene. He saw the bar in shambles. He saw Wexley’s headless corpse, which Krömm had taken the liberty of propping up at his favorite corner table. He saw Wexley’s Main Gauche which Krömm had driven down Wexley’s neckhole for “added stability”. He saw Krömm and Norvi, drunk off their asses, playing gangster puppet theatre with Wexley’s decapitated head. The kobold took off his red headband, dropped it on the floor, and slunk away.
Yurm was in The Backlot too. He had intended to question Abasha about Duke Hallum’s involvement in the assassination attempt. When he arrived at her shop however, he found the door locked. The lights were on, and he could see the shadow of someone moving about inside. But a yellow shade covered the window, and a sign on the door read “Closed until further notice.” The hour was late, and Yurm decided to leave Abasha to her business until morning.
He went back to The Eagle’s Talon, still vacant aside from Aldo. Aldo was researching which kinds of documents he would need to forge in order to implicate Duke Hallum. Yurm quietly went about his evening ritual as Aldo studied himself to sleep. A half mile away Krömm and Norvi were drooling all over the bar, passed out drunk at Wexley’s pub.
When morning came, Yurm went straight to Abasha’s Rare and Exotic Gifts to find out what she knew. He found the door still locked, but he knocked and was recognized. Abasha quickly ushered him in and thanked him again for saving her. The interior of the store was still a disaster, though Abasha had swept the shattered artifacts and pre-war pottery fragments into neat little piles. She seemed distraught. When Yurm asked about it, she told him that she might have to close her doors for good. Some of the broken merchandise had been paid in advance, and was being reserved for private collections. Unfortunately, the Eaglesport Merchant’s Guild had denied her insurance claim. This meant that she could not refund her customer’s money, unless it was out of pocket. And paying out of pocket meant selling the store. Despite her anxious condition, Yurm explained to her that he needed to know why Hallum would want her dead if he was to bring him to justice. Aldo had cautioned had him that all he had to go on was the testimony of a kobold, and no one would take that serously. So Yurm asked Abasha to tell him all she knew of Hallum.
Abasha recounted a tale of meeting Hallum in the backlot late one night. The Duke took a liking to her, complimenting her pretty face. He took her to his fort where she slept alone in an opulently decorated room. The following day, she was dressed and made up in the finest clothes, cosmetics, and perfumes. The duke called for her and the two attended an evening ball. Abasha’s head spun to be part of royalty nightlife, and all of the new sights and sensations made her memory of specific events fuzzy. However, she remembers that the Duke departed from her at some point in the night. He was her anchor in this unfamiliar place, so she sought him out. When she found him, he was speaking quietly to a tall half-elf, dressed all in flowing robes of red and gold. She touched his shoulder and he wheeled around to face her. The look in his eye made her think he was terribly angry with her. He grabbed her arm and briskly escorted her outside. They went back to the Duke’s fort where she was locked in a smaller more spartan bedroom for the rest of the night. She had nothing else to wear, so she slept in her gown. In the morning, the maids that dressed her before came in and Abasha let them undress her. When they were done, they laid her original clothes on the floor and left the room. Moments after she was dressed again, an unarmed fort guard took her back to her shop on horseback. She never heard from the Duke again.
Yurm thought on this as he thanked Abasha for her time. Clearly it was this half-elf that she described who triggered the event. But who was he? What is his relation to the Duke? Yurm was still struggling to learn the way bugaisha thought. At their base element, he knew that all creatures are made of the same emotions. But he had been subjected to so many new sights and stimuli in the past weeks, and making sense of bugaisha culture and politics was still sometimes more than he could handle.
Krömm was coming out of the general store as Norvi headed in. Deciding to wait outside the store for his comrade to come out, Krömm noticed 4 thugs that he recognized from one of his trip’s to Wexley’s who were loitering about near the side of the store. When Norvi came out, he found Krömm drawing his fist blades and making for the group. Without hesitation, he drew his bow. Krömm mentally disarmed the group by throwing Wexley’s head at them before he and Norvi cut through the lot of them. They left but one survivor who identified himself as Thorn. Thorn didn’t want to die. But it sure seemed like he wasn’t going to have much of a say. Krömm pounded him into submission. The only way he was willing to let Thorn live, was if he followed Krömm around confessing and apologizing to everyone he ever stole from. Thorn reluctantly agreed, still unsure why he was attacked in the first place. Obediently, he followed Krömm and Norvi as they went about their errands. They prodded Thorn for information about Wexley’s operation, and were surprised to learn that he knew very little, if any, of what Wexley’s real plans were. Thorn claimed to not even know about the secret tunnel in the bar. When the pair learned this, they just had to take him there and show him.
Aldo was having doubts about his forgery plan. He wasn’t familiar enough with the area’s politics to know which papers to forge, and finding out was going to take some time. He decided to scrap the idea and instead seek out the authority figure of this town. He wasn’t about to cavort around town with a backpack loaded down with 500 gold pieces the way Norvi was, so he stealthily made his way to the now abandoned Viktor’s Flowers. Confident that he was unseen, he slipped through the unlocked door into the musty shop. He went behind the counter and examined the now empty shelves behind it. He felt around a bit and found a release that when pressed, revealed a secret compartment large enough for him to crawl into. He stashed his gold inside and sealed it shut again. He left the shop and jostled through the crowd of morning market goers. After a little information gathering, he was directed to the mayor’s office in the civic district of town. Upon reaching it, he stepped inside and addressed a very busy looking gnome who did not want to give him the time of day. Aldo convinced him to to get the mayor, and the gnome complied. Aldo told the mayor that he had found Wexley’s corpse in his bar, and he handed the tax logs over to the mayor, claiming he found them in Wexley’s pocket. The mayor seemed very shocked. However, Aldo sensed something strange about the mayor’s motives. He seemed less shocked about the intercepted taxes, and more concerned about who it was that defeated Wexley. Aldo told him he knew the half-orc that did it, hoping for a reward of some kind. He gave the mayor a very vague description that could fit hundreds of different half-orcs. When prodded further Aldo politely ended the conversation and left the office behind.
Norvi and Krömm entered the backlot, Thorn in tow, on their way to show him Wexley’s secret chamber and tunnel. As they passed by Abasha’s, Yurm was coming out. Krömm explained Thorn to Yurm, and Yurm expressed distaste for Krömm using violence and threat of death to coerce someone to change their ways. Even so, the three reunited and went down into Wexley’s pub. Krömm hung a pot of water over the fire in the hearth he had lit earlier. His mates had been complaining of the head beginning to smell a bit gamy, so when the water was in a rolling boil, he dropped it in. The three discussed everything new they had learned. Suddenly, Norvi could hear Aldo’s voice in his head. “Get out of Wexley’s bar now! I’ll meet you outside of town.” Norvi wished he had been more specific. No matter. Krömm kicked over the pot he put on the fire and retrieved Wexley’s half boiled head. They hadn’t yet discovered where Wexley’s tunnel led, so they decided to give it a try. They found the secret door release and made their way through 3 wooden arch supports before the tunnel began to incline. It ended abruptly in a trap door. Krömm opened it and poked his head up. Corn. All around him were rows of cornstalks, only about 3-4 feet high at this early point in the season. It seemed like there could be nothing but corn for at least a good mile. The party, thorn included of course, exited the tunnel and looked around the field. They saw a farmhouse in the distance, along with a barn, a water tower, and a few silos. They figured the farmer must know that Wexley’s tunnel ended in his field, right? They had to find out. Krömm made Thorn go up to the farmhouse to talk to the farmer.
The following happened behind the scenes, as it was out of sight and earshot of the PCs. This is bonus material of which the players have no current knowledge.
Thorn heard Krömm’s order and submissively obeyed. He was really good at submissively obeying. Had been doing it to Wexley for years, he had. And it was a good life Wexley offered. Well, a fun life anyway. Most the time. Now he’s the slave of some half-orc who doesn’t offer a clydesdale’s streetbiscuit. What a life. “How long am I going to have to follow this guy around, pretending I haven’t stolen something from pretty much everyone we go by?. A day? A month? Forever?” the farmhouse grew larger on the horizon as he approached. “Thank Olidamarra that no one’s recognized me. I’ll have to apologize to someone soon though or he’s going to on to me. I’ll apologize to someone, fine. But I will get you in the end Krömm. The last thing you’re gonna hear is me chuckling in your ear as I slip my blade into your kidney. Oh who in the nine am I kidding? He’ll probably tell me to stop tickling him, then just rip my arm off and make me stab my own kidney. Then he’ll make a puppet out of my skull.” Thorn shuddered as he remembered Krömm shoving his face into Wexley’s decapitated head, not even realizing at the time that it was him. He tasted vomit in the back of his throat. Did he vomit then? He couldn’t remember. “Maybe it really is time for a change,” he thought as he approached the doorway of the quaint farmhouse. He knocked at the door. He waited for a good while. He was about to turn and leave when the door opened. A man with a blonde mustache and scruffy facial hair stood before him in his working clothes. “Yes young man, what is it you want?” Thorn’s stomach dropped. He recognized this man. He went to the market after each harvest to sell his goods. On one such occasion, Thorn had robbed his coach and taken a haul of over 300 gold! He was wearing a mask, so there was no way the man would recognize him. But Krömm… he thought. …If Krömm finds out that I’m not doing as he says he will surely flay me. What’s the worst that could happen way out here? It’s not as if he can make a scene. Thorn took a nervous, apprehensive gasp before speaking. “Hello sir. I have been sent by my master to ask you a question. But he has also ordered me to apologize to anyone that I have wronged, and you sir, fall into that category. If I do not say what I am about to say to you, he will slaughter me like one of your pigs.” “I don’t raise pigs,” said the farmer, “But go on.” “I robbed you, sir. I took a chest of your gold by force some years back, and I ask you for your mercy and forgiveness. I am a changed man.” “Oh, now you ought not have told me that, boy.” “Why not?” inquired Thorn. “Kez now I’m gon’ hafta kill ya. Shem! Galin! Get yer bows!” Thorn spun around and ran. When he looked back he saw the farmer, pitchfork in hand, with an evil look in his eye. His two boys were chasing after, taking wild running shots with their shortbows. “I know! I’ll lead them back to Krömm. That psychopath will probably massacre the lot of them! Either way, I’m not letting their arrows into my back!” Thorn thought as he ran full speed toward the party.
end of behind the screen peek
Yurms ear’s picked up footfalls, and he pointed to the horizon. Thorn was coming straight for them, and fast. He didn’t seem to lose any steam as he barreled toward them, a frightened expression on his now distinguishable face. In almost a blur he flew right through the middle of the party, shouting a quick, “RUN!” as he blew by. “Should I go after him?” “No, let him go for now, we need to deal with this,” Krömm replied. "Yurm opened his mouth to speak again and Norvi said, “I can track him later if we need him. He won’t get far.” Now the party could see what was chasing him. Norvi nocked an arrow and aimed for daddy. The farmer saw the party and stopped short, holding his arm out to signal his sons to stop with him. His sons trained their arrows straight ahead, this one on Norvi, and that one on Yurm… now Krömm. Now back to Yurm. They looked tough, but they were only boys. One looked to be about 13, and the other 16. “That man is a thief! Do you protect him?” the farmer shouted over to the party. “We mean you no harm,” Yurm shouted back. “We’re sending someone unarmed to come talk to you,” Krömm yelled. He nodded to Yurm, who everyone thought would be most diplomatic. Yurm dropped his weapons and took a few steps forward. “Woah, woah, woah, woah, woah…” the farmer emphatically exclaimed. Yurm stopped, as the farmer’s gaze shifted from Yurm, to Krömm, to Norvi, back to Krömm, then back to Yurm. “Send the dwarf!” “Damn!” Krömm thought. Norvi is our only insurance. If he goes, we have no ranged threat on the enemy. “I’m coming over!” shouted Krömm to the farmer. “Send the dwarf!” the farmer repeated. “Tell your boys to drop their weapons and I’ll come over!” Norvi shouted. The boys lowered their aim, and Norvi walked over.
Norvi made peace with the farmer, and it turns out he knew nothing of the tunnel, and was very surprised at it’s existence in his field for so long with him unawares. “How much would it cost me to get you to collapse that for me?” the farmer asked Norvi. “Hmm, I’m not sure,” Norvi thoughtfully responded. “Well isn’t that what you people do?” the farmer asked him. That’s just a bit racist, Norvi thought as he gritted his teeth in response to being mistaken for a Ruhnaheim dwarf. He resisted his urges and politely explained that he was a Seacliff Dwarf, so mines and tunnels weren’t necessarily his specialty. However, If he could collapse the tunnel, all the farmer would owe him was a meal and a night’s rest for he and his party. The farmer gratefully agreed.
The three decided they could burn the wooden supports with hard liquor from Wexley’s Pub. They sent Yurm back through the tunnel to get some. Yurm went to the base of the slide, but when he got there, he heard voices above in the pub. He poked his head up, but the bar obscured his view. He could hear what sounded like a few men, 3 maybe, investigating the place. They remarked on Wexley’s corpse, and the state of the place. Just then, a sudden urge came over Yurm, and he stood up behind the bar, revealing himself to 3 town officials wearing dress of the mayor’s office. “Would anyone like a drink?” Yurm quipped as the 3 men bore down on him. Assuming he was one of the gang, they pinned him to the wall and asked him him what he knew of the half-orc that killed Wexley. Yurm wouldn’t budge. The told him he needed to disarm so he could be taken in for questioning, but Yurm wouldn’t comply. “Can’t we just kill him?” One asked. The leader spoke, “We only have orders to kill the half-orc. All others must be interrogated.” One of the men tried to take Yurm’s flindbar, and Yurm lost control. He filled with rage at the thought of a human hand taking his sacred flindbar and he gnashed out with his teeth, sinking them deep into the face of the filthy swine. When he pulled away it was with a great portion of the man’s face in his mouth, and the poor sod fell writhing and screaming on the floor. The other two men began beating Yum mercilessly when Norvi showed up to see what was taking him so long. After a brief exchange, Norvi came up the slide to help Yurm. Together, they killed the leader and drove the last man standing to flee. With his new warhammer, Norvi finished off the faceless gentleman who was still whimpering on the floor.
The two returned through the tunnel, splashing liquor all over the arches as they passed by. They mad a nice trail of the stuff and set it ablaze upon exiting. They took one look at the dark smoke that was billowing out of the trap door hole and knew they had to go. That smoke would be a beacon for someone who knew what to look for. They took just a meal from the farmer, foregoing the nights rest, and decided to go back to the campsite they made in the Hornwood when they were hiding from Wexley’s patrols. Here they performed basic equipment upkeep, and talked until the day was out and night was upon them. They slept wondering about Aldo.
It was the seventh day since Aldo and Norvi had commissioned a political map of Corra. They paid in advance So Aldo just picked up both halves and dropped off the keys to the Eagle’s Talon to their rightful owner. On his way through the town’s center, he spied a wanted poster with terribly drawn representations of a dwarf and gnoll flanking an ugly generic half-orc. He made a mental note of this and then went to Viktor’s Flowers, happy to see his gold waiting for him. He grabbed it and made his way out of town to the north. He assumed the party would head to their campsite in the Hornwood, and he confirmed it with his message ability. He met them there and everyone was made up to date on current events. It was agreed that it was in fact time to leave, and the leaving should commence as soon as possible. Yurm felt very disappointed that he would not be able to follow up on Duke Hallum now, but was mostly just angry at himself. If he had let the men take him instead of fighting them, they would not have to flee now. But then, who is to say the men would not have killed him, or tried to, as they planned to do to Krömm. A plan was made that afternoon, and in the evening it would commence.
Aldo made his way back into town and boarded The Silverfish. He found a note inside, carved into a plank. It stated that the crew disappeared, all but Simon and Alanor, who were waiting for him at the Copperpence Inn in the poor quarter. Aldo went there, and learned that Simon, was actually the crewman Norvi had lent the name ‘Brokenjaw’. Not only that, but simon’s jaw wasn’t broken anymore. Alanor had paid for some magical healing and got him fixed up just as new. Aldo paid them both a handsome sum of gold coins. “For your service up to today. If you continue to serve well, there will be more to come.” They graciously thanked him as the three were approached by a port official. He handed Aldo a bill for his port fees, explaining that it costs 1 silver per foot of vessel, per day of harbor. Aldo paid the man, and he and crew boarded the ship.
That morning the Dwarf and Flind left the campsite. Norvi and Yurm headed east to where (if their map was correct) they could navigate across Drodund Valley to the mouth of the Valtese River. Here, they would rendezvous with Aldo that night, who would arrive via the Silverfish. Night was falling, and the river was in sight in the distance.
Krömm looked toward the darkening sky and made his way back into town. He was quit and smooth, taking care not to attract attention or let any straggling marketgoer get a good look at him. He sneaked aboard the Silverfish successfully and he and Aldo set sail. The two navigated the 30 foot vessel to the mouth if the Valtese, which they made about 2 hours after sundown. Norvi and Yurm were waiting for them, and they boarded.
They sailed to what they assumed was a port city on their map. Without charts, however, even great captains can have bad calculations. They should have made landfall no more than a full day from when they started sailing, but truth be told, it was getting dark again, and there was no land in sight. Aldo made some slight course corrections, but still they sailed for 2 more days with no land sightings. On the morning of the fourth day, through the morning mists came the call of “Land ho!” from Alanor in the crow’s nest. Aldo dropped anchor about 100 yards from shore. A sleepy hamlet was slowly coming into view as the mist and fog that concealed it rolled away. Aldo studied the map with Norvi. Where could they be?
What secrets do this quiet, quaint little hamlet have to hide? Find out in the next chapter as the Land of Corra continues!