Isetsday, Triember 28, 358 EK
With the evening otherwise uneventful, Dareisyn, Desire’lya, Duchess Juvela, and Godfrey awaken the next morning prepared to wait for three days. However, Bosabrieln, who took the last watch, informs the others that he received a Sending message just before the others awoke. Drishti Naiat has been arrested, likely as a trap to bring the group back to Duchy Bassano, and is to be executed in three days’ time.
The group discusses the available options and decide to send a Sending message to Duke Bassanelli to inquire about his breaking of the deal. He only responds in a confused manner, wishing the “demon” hounding him away.
The group does not know what this means, but Dareisyn suspects the old man might be drugged, no doubt kept that way by his cultist masters. If that is the case, he wants Bosabrieln to attempt a Sending again around noon — either the old man will be lucid enough to eat lunch, or he will still be drugged. Either result is likely to yield notable information.
After some discussion, the group decides to infiltrate the town in disguise to see what information they can gather. They hope to rendezvous by noon so as to send the noontime Sending message to the Duke. They decide to enter in a staggered fashion, in small groups — Dareisyn and Desire’lya in one group, Bosabrieln and Duchess Juvela in another group, and Godfrey by himself, staggered in roughly ten-to-fifteen minute intervals. Bosabrieln disguises everyone as travelers and Dareisyn and Godfrey swap their equipment around before Godfrey quickly buries his remaining equipment. Desire’lya sends the wolf to keep watch over the campsite and surrounding environs, and she sends her hawk to keep watch over Godfrey. Dareisyn gives Godfrey his fan with the instructions to drop it if he finds any trouble, and to say whatever he thinks is important at that time; the hawk can retrieve the fan and Dareisyn can perform a ritual to hear whatever Godfrey said at that time. Fairly prepared, the group prepares to go.
Syn and Desire travel first. Stating their business and traveling through the gates, they arrive in Duchy Bassano. Syn, posing as someone whom Drishti owes money, asks around and learns that she is incarcerated for treasonous acts, apparently having aided and abetted some criminals who passed through. There’s not a lot of information available on the matter, but it is known that she is to be hanged in three days’ time, and that she is currently being held in the dungeons beneath the central guard citadel. After finding their information from the local beerhouses and gambling dens, they wander over to the guard post. Desire finds a rat skulking about, and speaks to it, asking what it knows of the dungeon. She manages to work out a couple of things regarding the dungeon from the rat, and then offers to feed it if it will accompany her for a couple of days. The rat agrees, but indicates it needs to do something first. It returns within a few minutes. As time draws nigh, Syn and Desire then leave the town and return to the rendezvous spot.
Bosabrieln and Juvela travel next. When they gain access to the town, Bosabrieln decides to investigate the dungeon beneath the guard citadel. As he and Juvela are dressed as women, they pass themselves off as ditzy travelers, inquiring with a guard about the freakish Gypsy in the dungeons and implying that they may grant him sexual favors in return. He goes inside to ask his superior officer, and to the surprise of everyone, he receives permission to bring them inside. When they wander down to the dungeon level, they are roughly and thoroughly searched — although this does not reveal Bosabrieln and Juvela’s disguises — and led to Drishti’s cell. She wears a filthy prisoner’s robe amid the dank environs, but otherwise looks well and unmolested. While Bosabrieln presses against the bars and pretends to gawk, he winks at her and reveals his purple Vistani blooding ritual scar on his hand, leaving her rather confused. Bosabrieln and Juvela are then led back to the street. They bid the flustered guard farewell and then leave the town, returning to the rendezvous spot.
Godfrey travels last. Disguised as a wandering mercenary, he enters the town inquiring about work and street-level dealings. He learns that Drishti is being held in the dungeons within the central guard citadel, apparently on charges of treason, and that there are no outstanding warrants or bounties for anyone related to her crimes. Which, by the way, are not being publicized — the whole thing is being kept very quiet by local administration. When he has learned as much as he is able, he leaves the town and returns to the rendezvous spot.
The five arrive back at camp at roughly the same time, and proceed to share information. Everyone is impressed with Bosabrieln and Juvela’s infiltration, although Godfrey notes that the guards likely allowed the pair to enter and leave. Once everyone searches the nearby area and is certain they were not followed, they proceed with their plans. After plotting with the group, Bosabrieln sends a Sending to Duke Bassanelli, indicating that this message is not to be ignored, and does his interference with Drishti require the group’s further intervention? The Duke responds that no intervention is necessary; he will handle it.
Deciding that they will send another message around dinner time, the group decides to wait. They chat, during which time Godfrey notes that he invoked a hunting prayer on the Duke so that he can always know how far away he is. Discussing further, the group decides they wish to have eyes on the Duke’s business while he is trying to set everything right; Godfrey agrees to do it, and rushes off into the underbrush.
While he is gone, the group has lunch and talks further. Bosabrieln takes Juvela aside and indicates his desire to do right by the child, should she be pregnant, noting that his own upbringing was hellacious and he wants to ensure his child does not have the same difficulty. She appreciates his concern, but his concerns are not hers; her home is tearing itself apart, and that is the most pressing thing on her mind at the moment. After their conversation, Syn takes Bosabrieln aside and talks to him about his responsbility and his past, while Desire takes Juvela aside and speaks to her further about Bosabrieln. She repeats what she told Bosabrieln, indicating that his concerns are not her concerns so long as her home collapses. Desire indicates that they will help her in any way they can, with both the possible baby and the situation in Duchy Bassano, and she thanks her. Desire notes that if Juvela wishes to do something about Bassano soon, she will have to make the decision soon, but Juvela notes that she can always return in the future.
After a few hours, Godfrey silently returns to camp, revealing that the Duke is predominantly in his own palace, summoning town officials to make things happen. Godfrey apparently camped out on the roof, and although he could not spy directly on the interior room wherein the Duke and his advisors met, he managed to get enough of the gist of the conversation to know the Duke likely did not order her arrest. Further, the town is alarmed because they do not know if the travelers are alone — some suspect the elf nations to the northeast sent them as spies or the forward force for an invasion.
As evening approaches, the group discusses the message to the Duke and then Bosabrieln sends another Sending, this time asking if the Duke has come to an agreement with his people. He responds, saying that he has; Drishti will be released at dawn the following morning, at the south gate.
Pondering this development, the group decides to go to bed early and awaken early the next morning so as to be ready when Drishti is released. Similarly, this will allow them to see any preparations being taken by the guards in case it is a trap.
Awakening in the dark of the next morning, the group moves through the woods within sight of the gate. Satisfied that no duplicity is taking place, they disguise themselves to look like Vistani and wait.
As the sun rises, the gates open and a small contingent of guards emerges, surrounding Drishti. They look incredibly nervous. Bosabrieln, from his place in the woods, strums a quick tune on his instrument, making the guards jump. They shout, addressing the woods with the fact that they are releasing Drishti. The group sends Godfrey out, and doing his best Vistani impression, he walks down the path and greets the guards and Drishti, walking with her south along the path. Bosabrieln strikes his lute again, causing the guards to make their way back through the south gate as swiftly as possible. The group then follows Godfrey and Drishti.
Once they are out of sight of the south gate, they come out of the woods and reveal themselves as Bosabrieln, Desire, Godfrey, Juvela, and Syn. As they return to camp, they tell Drishti how they managed to secure her release.
The group then settles into camp, as they will remain there for two more days as they wait to return the Duke’s missing testicle. Once the second day passes, Syn places the testicle in a small pouch and gives it to Desire’s hawk, who flies off. The hawk returns within the hour, and the group rests for the night before traveling again the next day.
It takes another week on the road before the group reaches another settlement, the city of Wadbradworth, on Rasday, Quadrember 7. The travelers decide to resupply here and stay the night in one the local inns, the Dusty Rose. Desire goes shopping for prenatal herbs for Juvela, purchasing a six month’s supply. While she’s gone, Syn asks the tavernkeeper if he knows of any strange events happening in the woods; he says he is aware of two things that might interest the traveler. He says that a druid by the name of Noostoron — a minotaur, according to the stories — lairs in the woods to the east, roughly just around the Hörundsflúr border. He would likely know more about any strange events.
The barkeeper knows about a specific event from about five years ago. There is a farm to the south, a major supplier to the Hörundsflúr region, and for a period of a couple of weeks, it intermittently suffered strange phenomena — rains of fish, miraculous healings, that sort of thing. The events stopped and have never recurred.
When Desire returns, he tells her of this news, along with the rest of the travelers. They decide to head south to investigate the farm. Desire then takes the opportunity to speak to Bosabrieln privately about the growing, vague animosity between them. Despite this, they seem to come to an understanding.
That evening, the travelers go outside to look at the full moon. Desire manages to grab Juvela and give her the box of maternity herbs; Juvela is incredibly thankful.
The next morning, the group heads south on the road. They pass through the town of Elham during the afternoon of Quadrember 10, but they continue onward, reaching the farm on the afternoon of Anapasday, Quadrember 13. Encountering some workers on the farm, the group asks if they may speak to whomever is in charge. One goes and fetches an older gentleman who introduces himself as Ondulf Cooper. After introductions are made, the group inquires about the eldritch events at the farm several years ago. Ondulf explains that he was not present as he was away on business at the time, although his understanding is that several bizarre events occurred — trees and crops coming alive and turning to snakes, rains of frogs, and other unexplained events. A couple of the workers spontaneously sickened and died just as his son, sick with the croup, spontaneously recovered.
Desire notes that he is hiding something, and when the group asks if he can get someone who was around at the time, she alerts the rest of the party. He returns with his wife, Lorelinda Cooper, who corroborates a lot of the facts of his story, although Desire notes by her body language that she is being totally truthful. After hearing a couple of tales, Syn asks if it would be possible for them to go around and see some of the sites where strange events occurred. Ondulf and Lorelinda agree, and Ondulf accompanies the group with five workers. Once they have less of an audience, Syn and Desire take Ondulf aside while Bosabrieln, Drishti, Godfrey, and Juvela continue to talk to the workers. Syn and Desire confront Ondulf with their assertion that he is hiding something, and note that they are certain his wife would be very interested to know what it is that he has kept secret all this time. Under this pressure, he reveals that he met a soothsayer in the market on one of his business trips. She told his fortune; when Desire asks if he received a card, he notes that he did, and reveals the Sun card of the Deck of Many Things. He says she told him there was a cave about ten miles to the southwest, and when he went there, he found a strange machine. This large machine forms a horseshoe shape and is covered in buttons, dials, levers, and switches. On the pretense of a business trip, he took a week or two to start messing with the device, but found on his return that it only produced the random effects noted by those on the farm. Unable to make sense of it or produce predictable effects, he stopped tinkering with it.
Given the circumstances, Syn and Desire express an interest in seeing this machine; as evening approaches, they agree to take Lorelinda’s earlier hospitality and stay the night so that they can investigate it first thing in the morning.