Silt Striders of Balic

Spies Everywhere

As the camera turns towards our heroes, we find them sitting in a rented room discussing their list of leads and the knowledge they hope to uncover in their meetings. A list is quickly compiled, as the group heads to an unnaturally deep slumber. Sharing a dream of Vorelixen in a morally compromising light, they each wake up a little unnerved.
Pursuing their leads with Kik’Oda, they find he is here on behalf of a firesoul genasi in Nibenay. His investigations point back to Balic, but he urges our heroes to pursue their own clues that point at Lissthiss, the mysterious crimelord leader of the Dreamwalkers gang. Samm gets more information about Lissthiss from his own sketchy contacts, and the party manages to speak twice with the information dealer Vastok and uncover a little bit more about what they’re dealing with. Del is a no-show for his meeting with Vorelixen, and poking around a bit they find he left down quickly with a cart of the belongings he could carry. Around this time, the group also realizes that the scribe Eiber is missing. Clues indicate he boarded a vessel to cross back to Balic on his own free will.
Moving to assault Lissthiss with the help of Captain Husk and his magical obscuring tarpaulin full of pirates, Samm and Althaea try to begin with discretion by speaking with Lissthiss as potential employees first. Their cover blown, either from the rampant sale of knowledge in Namarra or some other tell, they are psionically assaulted. While Husk and his pirates engage the minions of Lissthiss, Vorelixen and Rikard kick in the door and the group butchers Lissthiss. Upon his death, it becomes apparent he was not a humanoid at all, but a massive psionic lizard.
With little time to react, the party is thrust in to the open to assist Captain Husk and his men in cleaning up the remaining minions. A swarm of Hejkin, an unnatural type of creature spawned from the nightmares of sentient beings, prove to be quite a challenge but are eventually overcome.
Returning to Namarra confident they accomplished a good deed, they find they’re being followed. They successfully evade their pursuer, but eventually are approached by a man while they are raiding Del’s belongings. The man prostrates himself, and explains that he is Ared, the seemingly undying cultist from earlier in Balic. He goes on to say that he’s on the run from his cultist employers, and believes his odds for mercy and survival are better in their hands than in M’s. Though he doesn’t know who M is, he does provide a few more clues as well as some news from Balic – Praetor Moon has been imprisoned for obstructing justice and conspiracy against the crown. The party discusses what to do with Ared and eventually decides to install him on Husk’s pirate crew.
Samm, Vorelixen, Althaea, Rikard, Husk, and Ared take Ared’s chartered vessel back to Balic, sending the Tragic Hero back on a different route captained by Husk’s first mate. Arriving, they find that there are wanted posters depicting most of their group, and that the town is on high alert with a strong military presence on almost every street corner. Husk explains he knows an odd person who works in theaters that can help them evade notice but also help them to get in to the Odyssey Theater, wherein Ared has explained are a number of rituals that would be hugely helpful for breaking in to or out of prison.
The tiefling Anguish, a successful playwright, turns out to be every bit as strange as advertised. After a brief negotiation wherein the party appeals to his ego, Anguish agrees to help them on both accounts. His disguises work magnificently, so well in fact that upon arriving at the theater the halfling impressario Merin presses Althaea and Vorelixen in to replacing two sick actresses.
While Althaea and Vorelixen perform in Alda’s Error, Samm, Husk, and Rikard sweep the building looking for Merin’s ritual book. With great success on both accounts, the group leaves the theater significantly richer, and with their treasure – the knotted ropes of the impressario.

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Captain Husk

In the aftermath of the attack in Balic, the party is able to see city praetors cracking down on disturbers of the peace. They are quite rudely accused of being involved by High Praetor Maddock, who is a higher up in the Balican law enforcement division. After a brief verbal sparring match between he and Vorelixen, she’s ordered to stand down so his own people can look in to it. With not much else to do, she heads back to her home to discuss recent events with Althaea and Rikard, and Samm spends the night having his wounds tended to.
In the morning, Praetor Moon arrives at Vorelixen’s estate. After a moment to catch his breath, he informs her that because it was a disturbance in the parade it’s actually under his own jurisdiction and not that of Maddock. Because of this, he wants to dispatch Vorelixen and her companions to investigate the attacks. Doing a little research, they uncover that the key the summoner had is a key to an inn in Namarra, a town a few days travel north over the Forked Tongue Estuary. Further, they have come to find that the pins being worn by the summoner and by the defiler in the ruins from earlier are from a Raamite religious sect that’s become defunct. The sect was known for summoning elementals and believing that by wiping Athas clean of civilization with rampant defiling, the elementals would have a path paved to build a new, better world.
The group decides to set out and charter a silt sailing vessel to Namarra on Balic’s coin, and are attacked by a pair of androgynous peoples dressed in oddly colorful clothes. They introduce themselves, while fighting, as Elgo and Borato. With Elgo nearly killed from being pinned between Vorelixen and Samm, and Borato scorched from being dragged in to a fire by Rikard’s grasping vines, they flee the scene. Shortly thereafter, the group meets Captain Husk, a former adventuring companion of Samm’s who Samm does not immediately remember.
The group and Eiber take Husk’s vessel, the Tragic Hero, to Namarra. Along the way they evade a silt kraken, but their ragged ship is attacked by pirates of the Calloused Thumb. After a brief skirmish involving some roguish daring-do from Captain Husk and a fatal glaiving from Samm while swinging from a rope barely over the silt level, the Tragic Hero manages to break away from the Calloused Thumb and ‘safely’ arrive in Namarra.
Upon arriving, the group does a little investigating. They determine Namarra seems to be some sort of staging point for the cult activity in Balic, and that a Thri-Kreen private investigator seems to be here asking all the same questions. They set up an appointment with this Thri-Kreen, named Kik’Oda. They also find leads on an elven trademaster named Del, whom Vorelixen ‘pumps’ for information, a former gladiator named Stebbel who lives fat and happy on the flesh of slaves he purchases quite lawfully, and Vastok, a tiefling information broker who has a record of unlawful magic use. In the rented room of the summoner, they find two letters addressed to someone named Ared that reference the attacks in Balic. They also get another lead, which is that someone by the name of M is apparently involved in the planning of the attack.
The evening closes knowing that tomorrow night, a meeting with Kik’Oda will occur in the town’s western district.

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The Unlikely Ruins

An expedition led by Vorelixen is dispatched to a grove west of Balic to recover bundles of “Pride of Balic”, the state flower necessary for the Festival of the Cooling Sun parade. Along the way, they encounter a mysterious ruin that by all accounts should not be there. Coming upon it to investigate, Vorelixen can hear a mage of some sort incanting a ritual to summon a powerful elemental spirit intentionally leaving out any sort of binding clause. The expedition’s combatants assault the wizard, his elemental minions, and his hired swords. Though they are successful, the former silt sailor Samm is severely wounded. Investigating the ruins turns up an oval piece of obsidian embedded in to the stonework about 8 feet long and 4 feet wide, which calls out to the group’s arcane inclined. Ro, the slave giant, obscures the entire stone floor with a couple feet of hastily shoveled sand.
The expedition arrives at the grove and harvests the flowers, but finds themselves dozing off and experiencing horrible nightmares. They’re awoken by Ro’s scream, and discover him mummified overnight. With a little research, they realize that they must have encountered a Thrax, and deduce someone in the party is actually the one responsible. They assemble a litter from tent poles and canvas to carry the load Ro had shouldered, and set off with the hope of reaching Balic in time and solving their Thrax issues. When Nanee the handmaiden is found in similar shape a night later, the party of Samm, Vorelixen, Althaea, and Rikard deduce that Verdan, one of the dwarf twins, is actually a fledgling Thrax. They slay him and his summoned minions with ease, and arrive at Balic just in time.
They take some time to enjoy the parade, checking out caged drakes, foreign flora, the political scene, and the gladiatorial arena. Meeting back up, they are surprised to find there’s a terrorist attack occurring with robed and masked men releasing the drakes, setting buildings aflame, and opening summoning circles. Samm rescues a family from a burning building while Althaea distracts and disposes of drakes running amok. Samm is able to recruit some gladiators to help disrupt a summoning ritual with Vorelixen, and soon the entire group is fighting off the defiler in the streets. Before long, the Rage Drake that Althaea tricked in to falling through a sewer grate appears to have freed itself and joins the fray, but the group successfully puts it down.

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