On the Threshold of War

A Clear Message

In the lull of the night Alastair was visited by a shadowed figure naming himself as Captain Dublin O’conna. Dublin professed his hatred for Bargle and named himself as an ally to any who oppose him and the Black Eagle Baron. He granted passage on one of his ships and told Alastair to meet him on the docks in twenty-four candlemarks. O’conna departed just as silently as he arrived, leaving Alastair with a restless sleep that night.

At daybreak the party rallied in the tavern where Alastair discussed the encounter with the night visitor and their newly procured transportation. The party passed the day ensuring their adventuring gear was fit for battle, obtaining fresh supplies and gaining stabling for their horses. Night fell and the time for the meeting came. The party migrated towards the docks where they were met by another caped shadowy figure, dressed in supple leather armor, well kept clothing and a cutlass at his side. He presented himself as First Mate of the Andralene and showed him to the dock where she was moored. Nearly all of the party was dumbstruck by the grandeur of the ship they saw in the moonlight. Loading the rest of the cargo the crew made ready for sailing.

Dawn broke as the Andrillene sailed down the River Volaga and into open waters. If the party was in awe of the ship before leaving port what unfolded in the light of dawn was simply amazing, the crew unfurling the sails and turning her into the wind. The Andralene made good time towards Sulescu covering the forty-eight nautical miles from Specularum in a mere day. Later in the evening the Captain of the boat invited the party to dinner in his officer’s mess. The man identified himself as Captain Vesubian Krondahar, wasted little time asking questions about the party’s mission and left nothing to imagination when he defined his limitations. Bendricks, overcome by emotion disclosed much more about his sister’s situation that Alastair would liked, and he ran from the mess distraught. Warga’ath and Heltic followed, comforting the young man. A seafood meal and a twelve year Alphatian scotch broke the doldrums of conversation as the party began to define their plan of action.

The party would split into two separate groups both acting as prospective slavers. The first party composed of Liam, Si’lex and Lonovan would scout out and confirm that the slavers were indeed holding Aliena and intended on selling her. The other party composed of Alastair, Kithus, Warga’ath and Heltic, would act as well-to-do slavers and take steps to bid on Aliena should she come up for purchase. If all else failed the party would break her out and return to the ship post haste and make good their escape. With the plan in place, the Captain and several of the party drank until the early hours of the morning. Kithus, the Half-Orc prophet, pulled Alastair aside and spoke to him of a vision he had seen concerning Aliena. This information troubled Alastair and kept him up most of the night.

The following morning, the party was up and ready to depart the Andralene. The Andralene had anchored outside the harbor of Sulescu at the recommendation of the captain in the event a rapid escape was needed. Waiting on the water below were two large row boats. The first party departed the ship making towards a cove out of sight from the harbor. A few hours later the second party departed directly for the harbor intent on mooring at the docks. Upon arrival Alastair and his team put on their best impressions of guards escorting their master, played by Kithus. At the local inn the second team put in and established themselves. Over the course of the next few hours more slavers arrived, many from various countries and nationalities that the party had not seen and many with deep pockets. Within the on rush of people Alastair spotted the second team, but did not openly acknowledge their presence. Lonovan and his party looped around the square mingling ineffectually with the other slavers, meeting few who wished to converse. Getting close to Alastair, Lonovan feigned a trip and in catching himself on Alastairs cloak, planted a note in one of it’s pockets. Alastair passed the note to Kithus, who told him of the contents. Aliena was drugged, half conscious, beaten and being held in a cage in the tent just outside of town.

With the auctions underway and bugbear guards posted all around the town square, the situation was growing dire. Unsure if the plan was going to work Alastair did his best to stay calm and steeled himself against his desire to rip the slavers and their buyers to pieces. Hours of waiting passed as slaves and buyers were gatheredm purchased and collected. Aliena was in one of the final lots. Even battered her beauty outshined the others in the lot. Alastair knew he would be in a bid war. Whence her turn came, bidding erupted immediately. Soon, bidding dwindled as the price reached 2500 Royals. Few remained save a fellow dressed in distinctly Thyatin garb. Higher the price rose, 3000, 4000, then 4500. Alastair conferred with Kithus who insisted on a bid of 6000 Royals. Gasps escaped from the other bidders. The man who had been bidding with Alastair glowered in his direction and departed in a huff after whispering in the ear of one of his guards. With the departure of the Thyatian, Lonovan faded into the crowd not to be seen until much later.

With such a large bid the Auctioneer required a promissory note to ensure the buyer was good on his word. Alastair visibly faultered, knowing full well the money that the party had was a far cry from 6000 Royals. To this, Kithus responded by tossing his backpack, full of treasure of which the party had not seen prior to this moment. An astounded, but relieved Alastair returned a glance and nodded to the auctioneer, who after seeing the treasure spill upon the ground, eagerly ended the bidding. Alastair claimed his writ of purchase and followed the Bugbear escort to the slave tent. Quickly they took Aliena inside as Alastair conferred with his compatriots on their next course of action.

A man sitting at a desk infront of the tent beckoned Alastair forward without looking up. Alastair moved forward with Warga’ath and Heltic on his flanks to present the writ. After recieving the parchment, the scrivener glanced up and a familiar face and his name registered in Alastair’s mind. Cliffton Caldwell… As Caldwell started to speak, a moment of righteous fury overcame Alastair as he drew his sword and swept a wide arc towards Cliffton’s neck. The blow landed as Caldwell tried to push away. It was not the killing blow, however, as Caldwell managed to loose a cry for help gripping his neck. Leaping to action Warga’ath kicked the table hard toppling Caldwell under it while catching the scrivener’s strong box of gold coins with which he threw far and wide. Bugbears leapt to action from behind Caldwell. In a great blow, Warga’ath clove one unfortunate Bugbear from helm to groin. The second was dispatched handily by Heltic’s caber. Kithus conjured a skeleton from the earth and it’s efforts contained the Bugbear that had flanked Caldwell on his left. Alastair, consumed by his anger, pursued Caldwell as he crawled away along the cobbles. He drive his sword through Caldwell’s back hearing a final frothing breath. Two more Bugbears emerged from the tent and in their hurry to join the fray met Alastair and his spathion’s hewing stroke. One fell heavily to the ground under Alastair’s opportunistic strike. Kithus again cast his spells upon the right most bugbear, shaking it with fear.

By this time Liam and Si’lex were under duress near the town square and Heltic came to their aid, felling a Bugbear threatening Si’lex with a mighty blow. Liam had taken several blows, but was standing his ground, stoicly. The twang of his bowstring heard across the square, each arrow finding it’s mark and taking a toll. At the tent, Kithus dispatched the final bugbear with his dark touch, felling it with a wailing moan. Alastair and Warga’ath darted into the tent to find Aliena. Inside there were more slaves than anticipated. Troubled by a crisis of conscience, Warga’ath and Heltic began setting them free as Alastair freed Aliena and scooped her into his arms. The quintet of heros herded the slaves towards the many rowboats still moored at the docks.

Once at the docks they met up with Lonovan. Somehow the town was aflame and the smoke billowed into the sky. All around them the party noticed almost a score more of bugbears emerging from the edge of town bearing down on them. Alastair handed Aliena off to Kithus and told him to row towards the Andralene, while loosing his shield and drawing his sword. Together Alastair and Liam stood waiting for the bugbears to close, Liam firing until his quiver was empty. As the last of the former slaves were loaded Liam and Alastair stepped into the one of the boats and were whisked towards the Andralene.

As the rowboats reached open water, to the west three black ships with black sails flying the flag of the Black Eagle Barony were closing the gap to the Andralene, who’s sails were unfurled, straining the ship against the anchor. Quickly the rowboats of former slaves were loaded onto the Andralene. Once upon the Andralene the deck was a flurry of activity as the catapults and ballistae were brought to bear upon the black flotilla. As the last of the refugees were loaded the Andralene weighed anchor, fleeing from the black flotilla. Slowly the Andralene got to speed, the black ships closing quickly. Ballista bolts and catapult stones fell all around the Andralene as the captain put her thru her paces. Rounding a coastal peninsula, another black ship, nearly 300 feet long and 50 feet high came into view, loosed a massive fireball that consumed one of the black ships, passed the Andralene slashing crosswise thru the remaining two ships. Captain Krondahar introduced the massive ship as ‘The Leviathan’. The party was completely dumbstruck by her size.

Following the battle the Leviathan pulled along side the Andralene, dwarfing her with it’s massive size. Captain O’conna invited the party over to The Leviathan for dinner. Aboard the Leviathan the group ate enjoyed a victory meal in the massive messhall. Captain O’conna got down to business quickly. He explained that there are many would be aggressors, jealous of Duke Stefan Karameikos’ gains in Traladara. Power players from the wealthy Daphnotarthius family in Thyatis, seek to pit Thyatis and Karameikos against one another. Their alliance with the Black Eagle Baron makes this even more threatening. O’conna divulged that the Daphnotarthius family may try to provoke Karameikos into a two front war with Thyatis and the Black Eagle Barony, by utilizing mercenaries flying Thyatian colors. When the Duke engages, shifting his forces towards the eastern borders, Baron von Hendricks would take advantage and sweep into the capital relatively unimpeded.

The Pirate King proposed that the party harass the Black Eagle Barony, keeping them occupied protecting the Duke’s western front, while he would try and harry the formidable Thyatian navy in support of the possible ground war to come. With his ships tying up the Thyatian flotillas in the east, O’conna’s southern fleets could operate with near impunity. Captain O’conna expressed his zeal for the legitimacy of Traladara.

Alastair presented a plan to the party regarding what happened in Sulescu; the disposition of the Caldwell Estate, the refugees, and their next plan of action. First order of business was to seek an audience with the Grand Duke. War was upon Karameikos, and the person that needed to know, was painfully unaware.

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