Rose and Thorn: Session 7

Things that are fun: when I get a random idea for a session about an hour before we play and get super excited about it. Things that are extra fun: when my players think one thing is going on and it turns out to be an entirely different thing. Things that are evil: when I get to leave things off on a cliffhanger when we won’t be playing again for two weeks because I’ll be out of town next week. Things that are sad: …when we miss a session because I’ll be out of town.

 

The Party:

Mordora, tiefling warlock

Danyar, gnome rogue-warlock

Semaj, human fighter

Zavin, human paladin

Alkar, elf mystic

Max, human bard, with Dogstein, dog

 

The Setting:

The City of Silverrun, in the Wayride Mountains

The Highwater Manor and outlying districts

 

The Story So Far:

When the group was assigned a mission to spy on the prominent Highwater family, a noble line of gnomes who dated back nearly to the founding of the city, they quickly accepted. The head of the house, a Lord Linden Highwater, was allegedly making deals with the Duke that would favor his political faction, the Tide, and the members of the Rose would not allow that to happen on their watch. Rather, the group was to watch him and ensure that he did not make it to the Duke’s palace at any point in the next two days, while the trade deals were being negotiated – however, they had to be discreet; there could be no suspicion of foul play.

They watched the Highwater manor for a time, and decided to craft a cover story to get inside. Alkar, being a known antiquities dealer, would come to discuss some of the finer minutiae of gnomish craft with Lord Linden, and while he was distracted, Max would sneak in invisibly to scope out the place, while Zavin looked like Alkar’s bodyguard and Danyar was his “second opinion” when it came to the fine workings of the tinker gnomes. Semaj, with the cart and mule, checked out the family’s carriage house and gardens. Fortunately for them, Lord Linden was happy to discuss examples of gnomish antiques that he had within his own home, and the group went in.

Danyar inspected the hinges of each door in the house and made recommendations to Lord Linden, who listened attentively – although he himself was a tinker gnome, he had had little time in recent years to update the features himself. Max scouted out the place and found the study, the kitchens, the master bedroom, and a frankly alarming quantity of childrens’ bedrooms. As Alkar soon found in his discussions with the lord, the family had nine children themselves, and both father and mother had come from large groups of siblings as well. Mordora disguised herself as a humble servant girl and inquired to the housekeeper about employment – however some verbal missteps quickly ended the interaction and she was dismissed from the house.

They all made their excuses to leave, but continued to surveil the house for some time after. They each set up watch posts on nearby streets and intersections in order to make sure they could see if anyone left the house. Indeed, about an hour or so later, they saw a carriage coming down the drive and turning off onto a busy street, with Lord Linden inside. Quickly they endeavored to stop the carriage – Alkar used his psionics to remove a crucial piece of the axles and flung it off into an alley, and when Zavin volunteered to help find it, he kicked it further away when he did.

Max – who they had not seen before due to his prior invisibility – stepped right up and offered to entertain them with his wonderful dog tricks while they waited (and indeed Dogstein’s tricks were a cut above what they had seen before, as they’d given the dog a headband of intellect). Mordora – in a different guise than before, now looking like a slovenly street urchin – ran up and freed the horses pulling the carriage, causing further havoc. So as not to look like a targeted attack, she ran around all the nearby streets, freeing all the horses she could find. Semaj had the foresight to round up as many as he could to be returned later.

While all this was going on, a few members of the group spotted another carriage leaving the Highwater manor. While at first they supposed that it might be Lady Keria, Linden’s wife, they soon realized that the passenger in the carriage sure as hell looked like Lord Linden – just as much as the one they’d delayed already. About half the group followed after this second one, to figure out where he was going. He turned onto a row of shops, and the group knew several of these were owned by the Highwaters – nothing suspicious about him stopping in to visit or to inspect the places. However, they still chose to delay this one as well, freeing the horses and damaging the carriage.

Sure enough, they saw a third Linden walking down the street with a group of fellow nobles not long after, and they were determined to be heading towards the Low Council Meeting House. Given that this was the most suspect of the destinations – the support of the Low Council would certainly help persuade the Duke to accept their trade deals – a few more of the group followed this one now. Alkar haunted his mind with spooky invasive thoughts and Mordora persuaded some nearby crows to come down and swoop at his face. Eventually, he was persuaded to turn back, allowing his friends to continue on to the Council House to carry out their business.

Much to their interest, this third Linden stopped and briefly spoke with the second one on his way back to the Highwater manor. It was only a split second, but they were certain that the two were identical. Danyar, Alkar, and Mordora – telepathics all – read the second Linden’s thoughts as he returned to his carriage and found that he was thinking, “That idiot! He shouldn’t have let us be seen together!” By this time, the first Lord Linden had managed to get his carriage up and going again – with a mule that had been brought by the housekeeper – and he made his way to a rather upscale restaurant near the university district.

Semaj and Max listened in on his conversations to see who he met with – he turned out to be meeting with two of gods-alone-knew how many brothers to discuss some recent business and catch up on each other’s branches of the family. It was fairly innocuous conversation, though Semaj did take the opportunity to feast and drink heavily at the fancy bistro, sampling finer wines than he had had in many a year. Alkar listened in at the Low Council Meeting House – it seemed that much of their business had already been concluded, and they were only meeting now to wrap things up – and the rest of the group made their way back to the Highwater manor, discreetly trailing the three Lord Lindens.

For the rest of the evening, they watched the house, and nothing seemed amiss – servants coming and going about their business, children playing, Linden (one of them anyway)  reading in his study. However, late in the night, they spotted one of the Lindens sneaking out through the servants’ entrance in the back of the house. He seemed rushed, and he certainly didn’t look like he wanted to be spotted. The group tried to follow along stealthily, but Zavin’s heavy armor gave them away in the quiet night.

Lord Linden spun around to face them, fiddling with a pendant around his neck as he did so. All of a sudden, the appearance of Lord Linden dropped, and was replaced by the seeming of one of his many brothers. “It’s not what you think,” he said in a hushed voice, holding his hands out in a gesture of appeasement to the party. They waited to see what he would have to say.

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