The stalwart band returns to the Black Academy at Kahlstaad, where Teolis is unceremoniously dumped into a bed and healers attend him. The scroll is presented to Lady Vargas, who quickly skims it and frowns. It seems the scroll contains a halfling riddle, which is redacted for purposes of this update (but, when solved means “time”). She mutters under her breath and hands it to an acolyte – “check this for hidden messages.” She commands tersely. The acolyte scurries off. Lady Vargas bid you rest and recuperate.
After two days, the Academy researchers using powerful divinity magic (it is said they may have farmed the task out to a wizard far to the north that they often have consulted with a matters of celestial bodies, as he is rumored to be great at finding treasure too) found secret writing on the back – it lists a particular call number, which is instantly recognizable to Teolis as call numbers to the great library at Denthia, the former capital city of Zenthia. The Matron asks the party to go retrieve whatever is there.
The party heads out of Kahlstaad. Teolis is left behind, still recovering from his wounds. The party journeys along the well maintained Zenthian main road between Kahlstaad and Denthia. A few hours into their journey, Anvak and Crow stop short. They sense something in the bushes and trees ahead of them. Ana, while not sensing anything specific, does stand at the ready – picking up on Anvak’s and Crow’s sudden tension. Out of the woods spring five bugbears and a huge bugbear chieftain. A fireball sizzles from Ana’s ready hands and incinerates four of the bugbears. The fifth bugbear is flung to the ground, badly burned, while the chieftain suffers severe burns, but charges forward. Anvak attempts to hold the chieftain in his tracks, but his power fails to dissuade the enraged humanoid. It charges at him bringing its morning-star crashing down into Anvak’s shoulder. An arrow from Crow makes short work of the fifth bugbear soldier, exploding inside its skull sending bugbear brain and gore spattering up against the nearby trees.
Ana quickly looses off two bolts of eldritch might, which pummel the bugbear chieftain, it is followed up by another arrow from Crow piercing the chieftain’s shoulder and a scythe attack from Anvak slicing out its stomach. Barely able to stand, the chieftain swings, in a frenzied state, at Anvak, but the ball of its morning-star crashes harmlessly on the ground next to him. Ana shoots forth two spectral hands that grab hold of the bugbear chieftain’s throat, pick him up, crushing his windpipe, and tossing him like a rag doll into the forest. His bloodied and battered corpse lies flung up against a nearby tree. Rifling through his body, and that of the other bugbears, Crow quickly pockets some treasure he finds. At that moment, a familiar voice calls out.
“Ahhh ho… there,” it exclaims in a bit of a wheezy voice. huf, huf, “I caught up with you.” Teolis, not wanting to miss anything for his epic tale and quite concerned about the lack of paint he was receiving from the northern lands, had run after the party once the clerics at the Black Academy had finished with him.
The group, being all together again, continued their journey. A few leagues from the city, the stalwart crew met with some of the Zenthian royal army patrolling the roads. After some, interesting banter, they informed the soldiers of the bugbear attack. The soldiers likewise informed them to be careful, as incursions by dangerous humanoids was growing – and the forces of Zenthia were split, patrolling for undead pirates and keeping the mainland safe. As the soldiers were heading out to find the slain bugbears and scout to see if any more ambush parties of bugbears were around, Crow yawned, and casting mage hand, used it to slap the lieutenant’s horse’s arse. The horse took off… with the lieutenant haplessly bouncing up and down trying to maintain control. The other four soldiers took off after.
Anvak, not having paid attention to this exchange, was already about a quarter of a mile up the road walking steadily towards the city of Denthia. The others hurriedly caught up, and the group entered the city without further incident.
Ana informed her compatriots that she must go visit the nun that raised her as a baby, as she had been informed the nun was in ill health. She told them of a tavern that she had often frequented after she began rising to power, and that she would meet them there. She then headed for the monastery, while Crow and Teolis headed for the Tavern of the Stary-eyed Yuanti. Anvak headed to the great library.
Upon reaching the library, Anvak walked purposefully past the reception desk and into its stacks and stacks of books and scrolls. He started studying the leading medicinal text books. One book in particular caught his eye – the Healthy You – The Sorcerer of Oz’s guide to staying young and healthy. Anvak continued to research long into the night.
Meanwhile, Teolis was playing a lively ditty at the Tavern of the Stary-eyed Yuanti. After he was finished and a few gold were tossed into his hat, a brawl broke out. Teolis and Crow managed to escape with no damage to themselves, and Crow even walked out with a nice new hat. They headed down to another Inn, the Inn of the Prancing Pony. The City Guard reports for the night were mixed on what happened. Based on what they could gather, the brawl was started when one of two opposing guild’s, the dock-hands guild, members accused one of the other guild’s members, the stone mason guild, of grabbing his arse. Needless to say, they didn’t take too kindly to this type of behavior. The stone mason guild member was appalled that he would be accused of such a thing. What was interesting is that numerous witnesses saw the dock-hands guild member jump up out of his seat and a hand mark firmly implanted on his butt. However, nobody actually saw the stone mason guild member move. One witness described a handsome young man with a neatly kept ponytail and trimmed and neat goatee mumbling some words and waving his hands before the incident. The city guard chalked it up to a spellcaster prank, and sent a sternly worded letter to the local mage’s colleges asking them to instruct their students to please refrain from starting barroom brawls.
Teolis and Crow entered the Prancing Pony, and Teolis once again began to play. This time it was an epic ballad about the undead pirate wars. The ballad was so moving that the patrons were actually brought to tears. Even Crow, seemed a bit phased by this extremely beautiful and sad tale. However, he soon drowned out what little humanity he had in stiff drink. The rest of the night was a blur for Crow. However, when he woke the next morning, he was in a bed surrounded by tons of hats.
Teolis found one patron that was not affected. A dwarf, who introduced himself as Arren Axe-blade. Teolis asked Arren if he knew anything about why shipments from the north were not arriving in Zenthia. He had been waiting on paints for his portrait painting business for weeks now. Arren told him that the trade routes had gotten tricky and that the northern lands were a mess. It seems some cult had been running rampant up north, although a mighty warrior with a tongue of gold was said leading a charge against these dastards and all hoped he would succeed in restoring normal trade to the continent. Arren also told him that he had heard tales of an island to the north, called Antuba, where a race of beings that were said to be immortal resided. He thought that was where the undead pirate scourge originated from. Teolis thanked him and headed to his room, which because of his super moving ballad, the inn keeper comped for him and his friends. As he was heading up the stairs, he saw Crow dancing on the tables grabbing people’s hats from their heads, trading with other people for their hats, and then falling crashing to the floor in a drunken stupor. “Ayyye… don’t worry yourself with yer friend.” said the barkeep. “We’ll set him up in a small room here to sleep it off.”
On the other side of town, Ana stepped up to the gate of the monastery and rang the bell. It had been a long time since she had been here. A sweet young voice answer. Ana asked to see Sister Theresa. "Oh, you must be Ana-Mollie. " exclaimed the young nun. “By the circles of Thodin’s footsteps. It is good to meet you. Come this way.”
Ana is taken aback. She did not exactly leave on good terms – or of her own will even. The sisters hated her. Something was wrong. She carefully followed the young nun through the monastery and up to see the elderly sister Theresa. As she passed by the small monastery cemetery, she saw a strange glow come from within. Strange thing were happening here. Ana had never felt so alone as she did walking up to see her old guardian. Somehow, she could not feel the presence of Richard at all.
When she reached Sister Theresa, the old nun was in bed. It was obvious that she did not have long. “Oh Ana” she quietly whispered. “Thank goodness you have come. I.. I.. don’t have long. But, I need to tell…” and with that, the old nun passed away into the next life. However, clutched in her hand was a small scrap of parchment. On it was written solely “visit me.”
Ana raced down to the cemetery. A blueish glow came from a simple tombstone. The inscription on it read simply “Kara-Mollie. Mother.” The curtain descends, so endeth act I Scene II.
Act II, Scene I
Ana heads to the Tavern of the Stary-eyed Yuanti. When she arrives she sees it is in disarray. She inquires of a city guardsman what happened, and he explains a strange fight broke out. She assumes that the others would likely have gone to the nearest inn, and so heads off to the Inn of the Prancing Pony, where she rendezvous with Teolis and Crow. In the morning they all head out to the library.
As they head to the area where the secret scroll inscription told them to go, they pass by Anvak still researching. He decides to join them, and together the valiant four pull down the ancient book indicated by the call numbers. There is a book mark in it, and opening to the page the group finds a passage regarding the building of an elaborate library-vault far to the south where the most prized possessions of Zenthia could be kept from the orcs of Kazshtaz. A rough layout of the vault is provided. The characters realize after several minutes that this looks like the tomb they had come from. They head back to the Black Academy to report their findings.