Set to parchment this 4th day of the Month of Sorrows, in 1332 the year of the Standard….
Oh but I am happy to report that the children are safely rescued. But what a night it is. Our heroes let slip the children, like sand through their fingers, as the villainous slaver and his hired thugs double cross Father Jerome by setting forward their schedule, and enacting a devious trap for the duplicitous priest.
Upon final reconciliation, now that Father Jerome has been raised, and with accounts of the kidnapped children, we discover the truth behind the events, as follows:
While the party meets at the Lucky Dice Tavern and formulate their strategy, the villains (who had originally told Father Jerome they would move on the children at midnight), begin their plans early after discovering that the duplicitous Father has involved the authorities.
The slaver kills Father Jerome’s captive niece, a redress and repayment as a point of honor to the Phthian, then herds his locally hired thugs to the Chapel of the Five Fruits, where he confronts Father Jerome, falsely promising the release of the niece if the good priest follows the abridged plans and new instructions.
Jerome agrees, with the assurance that Deacon Dodd and Cleric Farley would not be harmed, also hoping the authorities will locate his niece before harm comes to her for his betrayal of the slaver. Jerome, being forced by one of the thugs, slips out the back door of the chapel and enters the kitchen of the orphanage, where he distracts Deacon Dodd as ordered, so the thug can slip poison into the stew that is the planned dinner for the orphans.
Upon tasting the stew, Deacon Dodd succumbs to the poison (getting a stronger dose as the poison has not yet mixed fully with the meal), and slips into a feverish coma. The thug then ushers Father Jerome into the adjoining bedroom, where an unsuspecting Cleric Farley, also distracted by Jerome, receive a blow to the head, not ever seeing his thug attacker. Jerome carries the cleric to his bed and covers him.
With the clergy out of the way, the thug steals two clerical vestments from the bedroom, and urges Jerome to take them next door into the chapel, while he himself ransacks the bedchamber, stealing anything of value, including the recent holy day donations.
Robed in clerical vestments, two of the thugs serve up the poisoned stew to the unsuspecting orphans as Jerome escorts the seven appointed orphan victims next door to the chapel. The orphans soon eat the stew, and as they become sickened, the vestment wearing thugs instruct the children to put on their nightclothes and get into their beds. The orphans obediently comply, not grasping that the two “clerics” are impostors, but blindly obeying the authority figures, as has been ingrained into them by the true clergy.
The orphans subdued, the two thugs return to the chapel and doff the disguises. The kidnap victims are bound and readied for their trip to the caravansary, where a large covered waygon is waiting to spur them out of the city.
The slaver then, in the privacy of Jerome’s quarters, orders the priest to doff his vestments, then thrusts his short sword into Jerome’s back, killing the betrayer and satisfying his honor.
The party has now positioned themselves in place to protect the orphans, with Kypris on a nearby rooftop, and the others across the street hiding in the deepening shadows of an alley. Dorak and Falko sneak over to the side entrance of the orphanage and with the simple barred door overcome, they stealth inside the foyer.
Kypris notices movement in the alley, and sends a warning note across to the alley where the party watches, by way of attaching it to a crossbow bolt and firing it with some delicate accuracy. By the time Cleric Calen and Iz’Alma discover the message, they have seen movement as well, and are in short order confronted by Guard Officer Graham. Graham is shortly convinced that the party has been in place to apprehend the kidnappers, and confides to Calen and Iz, Jerome’s confession, and the fact that there are six guards set in place to foil the slaver’s plans.
By the time Dorak has investigated the premises, discovering the injured bodies of the holy caretakers of the orphanage, and the quite unconscious children in their dormer, he decides to sneak out the back door, which was left unbarred by the thugs, and warn Kypris of the treachery.
Kypris hides deep in shadows from the two guardsmen who, like her, believe this rooftop to be the best vantage point to witness the slavers. As Dorak fires a bolt from his crossbow, amusingly similar to Kypris’ method of warning (later dubbed C-mail), the guards mistake Dorak for a kidnapper and sound the alarm.
The Phthian slave, having been waiting for such a distraction, exits the chapel once the guardsmen have rushed into the orphanage, making clean his escape with the children… or so he thinks… for Kypris, still safe in the shadows upon the roof, witnesses the exodus and promptly follows her prey towards the caravansary. Upon the way she discovers the body of a guardsman who had been fooled by the slaver’s priestly disguise. Fooled for only a moment, but in that moment he is struck dead by the same Phthyan short sword that killed Father Jerome.
By the time the guard learn that Dorak and the party are not the slavers, it is too late. They realize with sickening hearts there are seven missing children. They discover the poisoned orphans, the unconscious clerics, and the dead priest next door in the chapel.
Kypris hustles back to the orpahnage, summoning the guard and the party to pursue the kidnappers before they can make their escape with the children. And only in the merest nick of time does the party arrive, for the waygon is at the gate. The villains have drugged the children for ease of transport, loading them into the large waygon, which is halted by Cleric Calen blocking the way with Terak, his giant of a warhorse, just as the waygon is about to pass through the north citadel gate.
After a brief combat, the children are rescued and the thugs apprehended. Two of the thugs are slain, the others overcome or surrender. Alas, the Phthian slaver has outsmarted the authorities and is not amongst those villains with the waygon. Little is known of this villain, but Father Jerome, upon recovering from the Ceremony of Life, willingly gives a full description of the man who stole the blessed Maker’s gifts from his niece, himself, an orphan who died from the poison, and the hapless guardsman struck down in treachery.
For their efforts, the party is paid a handsome sum of two gold Crowns, and after a short investigation, are also awarded possession of the waygon, although the two horses pulling it are discovered to have been stolen, so the party must seek to purchase a team to pull their new transport.
This next day is spent in dull recounting of last night’s events to the authorities, broken only by a rich, and unorthodox (for the Month of Sorrows) lunch at the invitation of now Chief Officer Graham.
I, for one (among many, I am sure), commend Team 37 for the diligence and compassion they expressed throughout this trial, for if not for their detection of the slaver’s plan, the villains would have escaped and these poor orphan children would now be on their way to Phthya, bound for the slave markets of Io, to be sure.
I look forward to the progress of this team, and know that now tested together, no matter the difficulties of conflict in personalities, they come together well as a unit. Kypris has indeed chosen well.
In Service as always,