Voyages of the Dawn Trader

Session 1 - Into the Dark

The Stage is Set

On a warm summer evening, Will, Sonliin and Katarin are summoned by their patron Vincenzo de la Rosa to attend him at his villa. He informs them that he requires them to accompany him while he meets with the patriarch of one of the Founding Families: Pierro de la Luna. If Pierro can convince Pierro to back the Dawn Trader expedition, the final piece will be in place and the long struggle for political and financial backing for the venture will be over and preparations can begin in earnest.

The timing of the meeting is significant. Had Pierro already decided to back Vincenzo, he would heave asked to meet during the day, where his support could be witnessed by his clients and other visiting notables. An evening meeting indicates that this is still to be a meeting involving hard negotiation. Vincenzo requested the party’s presence as a show of credibility and strength.

Arriving at the villa, the party is met by Pierro’s majordomo, who leads them into a parlor where the are introduced to the would-be patron of their expedition. Pierro is a sharp, politically savvy man of early middle age, who works tirelessly to bring his family back into its former prominence. He also dotes on his daughters. He and Vincenzo soon disappear into a private meeting with orders not to be disturbed for any reason. As he moves to go, Vincenzo reminds the party to be on their best behavior and to do anything in their power to ingratiate themselves with the de la Luna household.

Signs of Trouble

After some time spent cooling their heels, the party notices some disruption within the household. Hushed but urgent voices can be heard among the servants and household staff. Clearly something is amiss, which is confirmed when the majordomo returns and hovers around the doors of the meeting room. After questioning by the party, the majordomo reveals that his master’s daughter Annata, a girl of thirteen, is missing. He is clearly conflicted about which will result in more trouble for him: interrupting the meeting or revealing that he has lost the girl.

The party quickly offers to aid the majordomo; perhaps if they find the girl before the meeting concludes, all trouble could be avoided.

The party asks to examine the girl’s room and the majordomo takes them to it. They ask him to gather any servants that had close contact with Annata and he whisks off while the perform their inspection. Katarin and Sonlin quickly turn up a few clues: the girl’s room looks like it has been left in a neat and orderly state with no signs of mischief, but Annata possesses books and trinkets of arcane study. Investigating futher, mixed in with the usual detritus of an arcane hobbyist, Sonlin discovers items and scrolls which indicate that the girl may have stumbled into deeper waters than she could handle.

It’s at this point that the majordomo returns with two maids, both of whom serve Annata closely as part of their normal duties. After some unproductive questioning, Will loses his patience and strongly chastises the servants for allowing a young girl to remain in possible danger. One of the maids breaks down and confesses that she began sneaking the arcane paraphernalia to Annata after she learned the maid lived near the Magic Quarter. This had been going on for some months. This ended a few weeks ago when Annata informed the maid that it was no longer needed and “Soon someone will be taking me away from all of this.” She also reveals that Annata kept a diary, which might contain more information.

The diary is quickly found and it’s trivially simple lock picked by Katarin. Reading the last handful of entries in the diary the party sifts through Annata’s purple prose to glean some information: Annata is miserable and no one understands her, no one in the history of the world has ever felt this way, all of this is going to change soon when her Dark Man comes for her. The party also learn that Annata has scheduled a rendezvous with the Dark Man this evening in the family catacombs of the de la Lunas.

Into the Catacombs

The chase is on as the party quickly follows the majordomo as he leads the old family catacombs. The party attempts to enlist some of the de la Luna footmen, but they are all engaged, either looking for Annata elsewhere or keeping the villa in a state that does not arouse suspicion.

At the gate to the catacombs, Will notices recent scratches around the lock and signs that it was opened recently. If that weren’t enough, he also finds a single stray blond hair caught on the bars. Annata had definitely passed this way.

The party enters the catacombs and finds footprints in the dust, which they quickly follow. The de la Luna crypts are a series of large rooms, divided by iron bars and gates into individual areas where standing coffins are displayed. The walls are lined with alcoves full of sorted bones, stacked skulls and piles of death masks. Their pace quickens to a run when they hear the sharp cry of a young girl from down the stairway into a further room.

To the Rescue

The party rushes into a startling scene: in the gloom across the room, there is a group of small hooded figures, one of whom has grabbed a girl that could only be Annata. Standing only three feet tall or so, their appearance obscured by the dark clothing that wraps their bodies and deep hoods over their heads, the only knowable aspect of these figures is the sick gleam from the wicked dirks in their hands. The party has only a moment to watch helplessly while one of the figures drags Annata down a staircase before more of the villains appear from the darkness and the battle is joined.

Separated from their objective by the iron bars that divide the room, the party enters a running battle with the dark figures, the three rush into the thick of things. Sonlin quickly engages with the nearest and dispatches it with a single blow. The dark nature of these things is revealed when, as it expires a foul darkness bursts from its corpse… blinding Sonlin.

…to be continued.

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Battle for the Iron Box and the Defeat of the Wolfman
Katalin's version of the story

A bard would tell it better, but this is how Katalin remembers it.

Following our demoralizing defeat and the loss of our ships, the Iron Will and the Gallant Lady, at the docks of Agrigolo, we retreated with Parigi, the former pirate captain, and those of the Friends of the Sea who were still alive. Our attackers, their goal seemingly achieved by sinking every seafaring vessel in sight, did not pursue us. Weary, bloodied, and stranded, as we neared the dank refuge, for the first time, we heard the unwelcome, tinkling sounds of the music boxes. The world subtly shifted, and Will, Sonliin, and I found ourselves alone in what could only be the Shadowfell.

An agent of the “Master” was ahead at a campsite. He told us what he would of the requirements of the payment of our first “favor.” We quietly cursed Pierro de la Luna’s daughter whose arcane dabblings and juvenile ignorance left us with no choice but to trade nine favors to the Master in exchange for her life. However, even more quietly, we rejoiced. As dark, stinky, deadly, and unimaginably horrible as the Shadowfell is—as dangerous as our task would be—as much as it grated at our pride to be no more than puppets doing the Master’s will—being there and doing this was a welcome alternative compared to spending even one night with the irritating and idiotic Friends of the Sea.

Having given us directions to the shore where we would acquire an iron box for the Master and a ship for ourselves, the servant left and we rested for the night, taking turns at watch.

When the gloom became a little less gloomy, it was morning and time to follow the road to the shore. Knowing where we could have woken instead, we were still a bit giddier than any sane person in the Shadowfell should have reason to be. We managed to keep ourselves hidden when we reached the shore, though. We peered down on their campsite on the rocky beach from a ridge 20 feet up. The only two ways down or up were to use the road that was cut into the cliff or to scale the cliff itself. Four zombies were on a shambling patrol, while four lackeys and the lycanthrope that appeared to be their leader kept their distance around a camp fire.

Even though the zombies were keeping watch, they must not have suspected an ambush, or they would never have set up camp within dagger-throwing distance of the cliff. Will and Sonliin hid in the shadows several feet back from where the road opened onto the beach. I threw one dagger and then another at the lycanthrope. He looked gravely wounded so I quickly threw a third, hoping to leave them without a leader from the beginning of the fight. All three daggers hit true and deadly, but it was not quite enough to finish him. The lackeys were beginning to respond, so rather than risk another, I ducked out of sight, and crawled and then ran to help Will and Sonliin at the road.

When I got there, the zombies they had just killed rose up again and I could see the lychanthrope had made it to the road to direct the defense. He was not attacking, but he must have pulled out my daggers and his wounds were closing and healing before my eyes. Things were looking grim. While Will and Sonliin continued attacking the zombies and lackeys, I unrelentingly continued throwing daggers at the lycanthrope to try to keep him out of the fight and finish him off before he could finish healing. Even though my daggers could not do as much damage as at the beginning because now he was expecting my onslaught and neither Will nor Sonliin were available to distract him, I succeeded in keeping him bloody until finally I rushed him with my rapier and finished him. I also sneaked in a little jab at the lackey who was supposed to be protecting him. Will and Sonliin had finished off three of the zombies (two of them twice) and one lackey. Sonliin advanced to square off with a zombie and a lackey while Will went toe-to-toe with the lackey I had just wounded. I decided to leave him to Will and shifted over to help Sonliin with her two. She handily downed both of them with some swordmage trick—thanks be that she’s on our side—and required none of my help. So I charged the lackey that I had left with Will with the most beautiful and perfect backstab that I will ever hope to perform. His death was so swift and thorough, I think he’s still wondering how he ended up in the afterlife.

Then we saw the fourth lackey stumbling along the road. Apparently he was quite skilled at climbing and had decided to go straight up the cliff to pursue whatever was throwing daggers at his boss. By the time he got up there, I was already down and in the fray. Rather than using the road to come down safely, he decided to jump down 20 feet whereupon he turned his ankle and knocked himself prone. The worst of it over, we weren’t really into the fight anymore, so our apologies to him that we didn’t get him to the afterlife more quickly.

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