We are still aboard the Halfling ship on our way to The Landing when our party—Horsebane—reaches a bit of a crisis point. Our party’s internal meltdown agitates the Halflings and seriously threatens our ability to stay onboard the ship. Nearly everyone in the party has had words for Onath Tanner. While the rest of the party attempts damage control, I stay behind and try to speak to Onath. He tells me to leave him alone because I sold him out. I decide to leave him alone in the ship’s hold and stand guard outside—both to keep others out and to keep an eye on him.
Not long afterwards, Rin Riptide approaches Aideena and complains about the party. She’s luckily able to mollify him slightly, though he still storms away from her once their conversation is over.
Targoth, who didn’t hear the entire conversation, approaches Rin Riptide and tries to talk to him, though the latter is in no mood to hear what Targoth has to say. He brusquely tells Targoth to keep himself and the rest of the party out of the way. Upset, Targoth decides to take a moment for himself.
Jack heads down towards the hold where I am keeping guard outside of the door. Jack decides to polish his flute to keep busy and I lean against the wall and stick to the shadows, not really focused on what’s going on around me.
Meanwhile, Targoth and Aideena briefly spot two dark slicks in the water, and can’t tell what they may be. Targoth asks the Halfling in the crow’s nest if he knows, but he doesn’t, though he does say that there are large fish in the water. None of the other Halflings seem concerned or cautious, though Targoth is on his guard.
He tells Aideena that we all need to get together and talk about what’s happened while we’ve been on the ship. So they head down towards the hold and join Jack and me. They ask me what happened when Onath and I talked, so I tell them that this “quest” of his boiled down to him being desperately curious and confused about what happened to him when he almost died. He wanted to “borrow” Aideena and Targoth’s magical implements to see if he could use them to figure anything out. I told him that it didn’t seem likely to work, and he said that he was going to do it with or without my help and walked off before I could stop him. Aideena starts swearing and Targoth goes around and asks us why we’re on this quest.
Aideena says that she’s here because she feels indebted to Targoth, in addition to respecting and admiring him, mainly because of how Targoth and I played a large role in helping rescue her sister from kidnappers. She also states, grudgingly, that she feels indebted—to a lesser extent—to me.
Jack says that he’s not crazy like the dwarf, but there’s a noticeable silence that everyone else picks up on. He finally says that he thinks the party all work well together—certainly better than he does on his own—and that that’s enough of a reason for him.
I explain that the quest we’re on is the most important thing to me—that I am bound and determined to see it through—and that I realize I cannot accomplish it on my own. I need them, and as long as they continue to help me in my quest I’ll stick around.
Targoth says that he believes in the quest as well.
With that discussed, we turn to the door and knock to get Onath’s attention, asking him the same question. He tells us to leave him alone. Targoth tells him to think about it, but there’s no real response to that. We then discuss Onath’s place in our group and how we feel about him—and much of it is not flattering or pleasant.
While we’re having this discussion, we hear a cry: “Oh gods, what are those?!”
We—sans Onath, who elects to remain in the hold—run up to the deck to see what has the Halflings shouting. We see that there are silt monsters attacking the ship and the Halflings are terrified. We jump into action and defeat the silt monsters without help from Onath.
After the battle is over, Rin Riptide approaches Targoth and Aideena and thanks all of us for saving their ship. Aideena reassures him that we never meant any harm to come to the Halflings and, as a result of our efforts, the Halflings are much more cordial and friendly with us than they were after the disastrous start to the crossing. He tells us that he takes back everything he said earlier and we express our intention to handsomely compensate the bricklayer for his lost bricks.
Our relations with the Riptides repaired, we land at The Landing and learn that they are gathering for a meeting of the ships, the purpose of which is to elect a new Master of the Ships.
We make our way to the Big House, which sits on a hill—the place that the Halflings gather and stay while the politicking and electing occur.
As we’re making our way there, we spot the Windrakers. Daren recognizes Targoth and greets him. He explains that he was acting as navigator on his father’s boat. We also learn that he hates being called Lord Windraker. He introduces us to his father—Oresti—who then introduces us to his wife.
While talking with Oresti, we learn that Riven fell and that one of the princes—possibly Navuul, the second eldest—is headed there to take it over. We tell Oresti that we fought Tavrix in Riven and he curses and explains that the Windrakers are not at all fond of the king.
Oresti also tells us that the current Master of the Ships—Samsul Clearwater—cannot hold the post again and is backing his son, Belsul. Oresti broadly outlines the state of Halfling politics—that there are some clans who hold an isolationist view when it comes to the land-dwellers, and that the Clearwaters are chief among this group. He also lets us know that there are others who object to what the king of Dakkon is doing and that the Windrakers are strongly in this camp. Oresti makes it known that he is running in opposition to Belsul.
Targoth tells Daren that we’ve come to The Landing to seek out the Clearwaters specifically, because we heard that they smuggled the former Divine Augur—who had made a prophecy about the then-Crown Prince—out of the capital when his life was in danger. When I hear Targoth make this admission, I’m none too pleased because it seems like Targoth is trusting too freely. Unfortunately, the words are out and there’s no taking them back.
Daren’s main focus, though, is getting his father elected Master of the Ships and, as a result of that, getting the Halflings more involved in land-dwelling politics and what’s happening with the kingdom. It’s clear that we need Oresti Windraker to win the election, but it’s also clear that we cannot be seen openly politicking for them, since that would alienate the Clearwaters, from whom we need information. The solution we hit upon is to subtly involve ourselves in convincing some of the clans to back the Windrakers.
After our discussion with Oresti Windraker ends, we go to the bar to talk more with Daren. Onath—who has distanced himself from us since arriving—gets himself some Elven ale. I decide to purchase a pint in order to blend in, but I’m overcome by the fumes and appear to be drunk, though what happens is more like an allergic reaction. Nevertheless, I’m essentially useless.
While Daren starts explaining Halfling politics to us, Jack calls the bartender over to our table and buys Daren a drink. Daren tells us that there are ten clans and that all of the clans have alliances and enemies. Ten of the clans are allied to either the Windrakers (Riptides, Tridents, and Slipstreams) or the Clearwaters (Whitecaps, Waveriders, Seaspears). Two clans—the Daybreakers and the Fairwaters—are generally neutral and hate each other, so they tend to wait to make a decision (or abstain altogether) in order to profit at the expense of the other.
After explaining this, Daren explains that he has to leave us so that we are able to accomplish our goals of helping the Windrakers while not alienating the Clearwaters. He flirts slightly with Jack and gives him the key to his room, in case we’re unable to get accommodations of our own or need a place to meet with Daren in private.
Targoth then leaves to go speak with the Clearwaters about our main purpose there—the information we’re seeking about the Divine Augur and where we might find him. He finds the Clearwaters in a private room and clears his throat to draw their attention. Samsul is not impressed by Targoth and wants to know our business. Targoth attempts to be diplomatic, but when Samsul pretends not to know what we’re talking about, Targoth makes it clear that we know he knows and that we won’t leave until we get the information we’re looking for.
He finally relents and says that he knows why we’re there, but that he can’t tell us anything. He was sworn not to say and nothing—not even mentioning Solange—convinces him. He does look at us very closely and he counts us. Under the scrutiny—and due to the reaction to the Elven ale—my form flickers slightly and he notices. His eyes widen, and he reluctantly tells us that the Divine Augur is dead.
We still insist that he tell us more, but he holds firm, saying that he can’t say anything, that the business of the election is his priority right now and that he can’t speak on the topic right now. He also tells us that we’re not the right ones, but he won’t tell us how he knows that.
Aideena asks him if he was expecting five of us—and we whisper amongst ourselves about retrieving Onath from the bar, where he’d been in conversation with a group of humans—but Samsul tells us to leave.
Eventually, we wear him down and he dismisses us with the implication that—once the election is over—we might revisit the topic. We decide to accept this small concession with the understanding that he knows we’re not going anywhere until we speak to him again on the matter.
We make our way back out to the bar and we can’t find Onath anywhere. We do, however, see his boomerang shield. When Jack goes to pick up the shield, a man who doesn’t look quite human stops him. He takes the shield away and asks after Targoth, saying that he is the only one that this mysterious man will talk to. Jack, suspicious about what could be going on, retrieves Targoth.
The man with the shield introduces himself as Eben, and he says that Onath asked him to give Targoth—and the rest of us—a message. Eben says that Onath has gone and that we shouldn’t follow. He also says that he—meaning Eben—has heard of our travels and that he shares with us a common interest. Jack scrutinizes Eben while he speaks and determines that while he looks human, he clearly isn’t. His brow is heavier, he’s got quite a bit of facial hair, his teeth don’t look exactly human, and his ears are slightly pointed and are tufted a bit with hair.
During this initial conversation, I fall to the floor, still under the influence of the reaction to the Elven ale. Unfortunately, it’s beginning to attract attention—and not of the good variety—so the group makes several attempts to haul me off the floor and into the rooms that Samsul granted us.
Once above stairs and in private, the group attempts to get me to throw up, which fails at first. Eben attempts to help me through divine means, but that fails as well. Finally, after a number of tries, I’m able to throw up and recover somewhat.
The privacy of our rooms, however, provides the group an opportunity to interrogate Eben about who he is and how he came to know of us.
Eben explains that he has issues with the king that have to be resolved, but he refuses to be more specific. Targoth senses that he’s not lying and the evidence points to Onath leaving of his own volition. We try to determine how Eben has heard of us and ask again who he is. He explains that he hails from the north, near Bashar, and that he’s a follower of Kord.
He is vague, though, and it’s clear that he’s keeping secrets. I keep my eyes on him while he speaks and it seems to me that he’s fairly honest and that everything is more or less the truth, except for something he says near the end. There is something in what he’s saying that doesn’t quite fit.
Eben explains that his issues have nothing to do with war, and that he would very much like to join us. He also remarks on the suspicion and secrecy within our group, but we point out to him that he is doing very much the same thing. He sticks to the information he’s presented us so far: that he has heard of us and wants to join with us. We tell him we want to sleep on it and think it over, and that we’ll speak to him about it in the morning. He leaves.
After he leaves, there’s a knock on the door and Daren walks in. He tells us that the Clearwaters have been on a high horse for years and that at one point—in the past, when Samsul’s father had been Master of the Ships—they had not been neutral. He knows that the son obviously sees things different than his father did, but he has no idea why Samsul is isolationist.
We ask Daren if he knows anything about Eben, but all he can tell us is that he arrived a couple of days before us.
He also tells us that the Baroness withdrew the siege on Orran and is heading for Bashar, and that Gavrash also withdrew. It’s clear that our side doesn’t have the numbers to openly fight against the king, which is why it’s so crucial that Windraker win the election. He would be in a position to get the Halflings involved on our side, which would help us greatly.
We also discuss how suspicious it is that Eben arrived at the Landing to find us before we even knew we were headed there.
After this discussion, Daren leaves. Now that it’s just the party, Targoth asks Aideena what affected her so strongly in the clearing. He urges her to share and says that it’s necessary for us to know what happened.
Aideena turns to the fire and says muses that it’s impossible to run from the past, that a person’s sins will come back to get you in the end. She explains that she’d been at the clearing before, but that she doesn’t remember it very well because she wasn’t in her right mind. Targoth asks her what happened, and she answers that she won’t recount the gruesome details, but that those spirits were targeting her for a reason and that they were right to do so.
Targoth asks her if she attacked the caravan that we found there, the one that had been burnt out, and she answers that she believes she did—to her unspeakable shame.
He then asks her if that incident has something to do with her bitterness towards humans and the fire in the grate noticeably flares in response, but she doesn’t really answer. Targoth then asks her if she remembers why, and Aideena rubs her neck and speaks quietly—as if to herself—and says, “Her face, her face….”
I remain quiet throughout this, partially glad that at least some of Aideena’s painful secrets are finally being revealed. The urge to speak is great—to make some sort of sneering remark—but it’s clear that Targoth will have much better luck in inducing Aideena to speak and, to me, having her secrets revealed is much more important than snarking at her about it.
Jack, who also remains quiet, is slightly stunned.
Targoth asks how long ago the incident happened and Aideena answers that it was months, maybe a year. She lingers near the fire and it’s clear that the conversation is over. We all decide to head to bed for the evening and put up the chimes that will alert us if Eben moves within ten feet of us.
We all head to bed, except Jack who sneaks out of the room and goes to spend some time with Daren Windraker.
In the morning, he sneaks back in while everyone else—save Aideena—is asleep. She catches him moving into the room and is able to discern what he’s been up to, but she doesn’t say anything.
Once everyone has awoken, we talk about the conversation we had with Eben the night previously. We agree that we don’t trust him, but that we need to talk with him more and find out as much as we can.
Targoth retrieves Eben and we ask him to tell us as much about him as he will. He says that he was trained in the art of war and that he’s a healer. He studied at the Cloisters and that his time there was difficult. He says that he has something that has to be settled.
When we ask him about arriving at the Landing before we even knew we were headed here, he says that it was fortuitous he met us here because he was on his way somewhere else—to where the reports said we’d been—but that he has been unable to find passage off of the Landing.
After more discussion, we decide to keep him around and keen an eye on him. Eben goes to get his gear and then returns. We all go downstairs and Jack heads over to where the humans are. He starts playing the flute and the Halflings within hearing range are appreciative of his ability.
We discover that the humans are selling provisions—camping gear, mostly, though there are some healing potions as well. Eben goes shopping, and Aideena strikes up a conversation with some of the Halflings who turn out to be the Slipstreams. The Slipstreams operate near Riversend, in the Black Fen, and on the Casin River.
Jack continues to play as a distraction—which proves effective, as those in the room are enjoying the music—while Targoth goes and talks to Bann Trident.
I take the time to look around and up and I notice that the roof is open and that there are rafters which are mostly dark. It looks very much like a security risk to me, but I don’t completely trust my ability to make it up to the top, so I quietly approach Jack and ask to speak to him.
Meanwhile, the humans in the room are gossiping about the latest news and we’re able to hear that a major criminal organization in Easar has shaken up its leadership, and that the Black Shroud is out for Baron Stygia in Riversend.
Targoth continues to make the rounds amongst the Halfling clans and introduces himself to the Seaspears, a clan firmly in the corner of the Clearwaters, mainly because their motivation is to keep all the other Halflings away from land-dweller affairs. They are the only Halflings—apart from Daren Windraker—to hold titles in the kingdom. And, indeed, Kaless Seaspear is Lord of the Waves—essentially in charge of the King’s navy.
After a short, tense conversation, Targoth cordially farewells them and walks off.
While Targoth is talking with them, I point out the rafters to Jack and ask if he wouldn’t mind checking things out and making sure that there’s no one up there. Jack agrees to and he finds his way to a pillar that connects to the rafters. He stealthily climbs his way to the top.
After Targoth’s awkward conversation with the Seaspears, Daren casually walks over and begins to talk to the Tridents.
Around the same time, I overhear more gossip from the humans. They mention that a High Priest has been declared a traitor by the Crown Prince and one of the humans wonders if it’s because of the siege of Orran.
Jack, who has been up in the rafters moving about quietly, overhears a heated discussion between three clans. It is clear that there is some backroom dealing going on, that one of the clans allied with the Clearwaters is trying to coax one of the neutral clans into voting with them. One of the clans storms off in disgust, and a member of one of the other clans left in the room says that “we’re only doing this because it’s in our own best interest; don’t try to do more.”
The rafter creaks very loudly at a lull in the conversation, however, and Jack’s position is very precarious. He quickly and quietly makes his way down to a deserted room and he relates what he was able to hear of the conversation. It’s clear that we need to talk to the neutral clans and see if we can’t convince them to vote with the Windrakers.
First we try talking with the Fairwaters, but it doesn’t go very well. There is a point in the discussion where we almost convince the leader of the clan to vote our way, but ultimately we fail to convince. We are successful, however, in ensuring that the Fairwaters will not vote with the Clearwaters but will remain neutral, which is some consolation.
We discover that the Daybreakers—the other neutral clan—are famously surly and don’t get along with anyone except the Slipstreams, who support the Windrakers. They do, however, hate the Riptides who are some of the Windrakers strongest allies, which presents a bit of a challenge. We decide to talk to the Slipstreams to see if they can help us in convincing the Daybreakers to vote for the Windrakers.
While we’re talking with the Slipstreams, it comes out in conversation that the Daybreakers are fond of sea shanties and might be more willing to listen to us if we can lure them away from the Whitecaps, with whom they are talking.
Aideena, Jack, and Targoth give it a try and, while those in the room like the song, it fails to lure the Daybreakers away from the Whitecaps. They attempt the same song, only this time with a different pace and are successful. The Daybreakers are stingy with their praise, but it is clear that they enjoyed the song. The Slipstreams introduce Jack and Targoth to the Daybreakers and it is clear that the music made them slightly more amenable to us, though they still are very wary.
We invite Daren into the discussion since the Daybreakers have demands for their vote that only his father can answer to.
Targoth, in particular, is very convincing in his discussion with the Daybreakers and—by the time the Clearwaters declare the time has come to vote—we’re encouraged that the vote breakdown, which is along allied lines with the exception that the Fairwaters will remain neutral and the Daybreakers will vote for the Windrakers.
While the vote is taking place, Aideena flirts with the Elven barkeep, I am tense, and the rest of the party has a drink.
Finally, the doors open and Daren gives us a thumb’s up. A moment later, the result is confirmed: Oresti Windraker is the new Master of the Ship.
Daren is clearly very happy; the Clearwaters and the Whitecaps are very unhappy.
We are happy for the Windrakers and for our quest, but we still have to go speak to Samsul Clearwater. When we find him, we ask him what will happen now. He explains that he’ll step down in a fortnight and that the Master of the Ships acts as an advisor, though the clans generally do what he advises. The larger thing he’s concerned with is that the Riptides are being pressed into service building ships for the king—it’s part of the reason why he has been advising neutrality. But he recognizes that things are going to change and it’s hard to predict what the clans will do.
We ask again about the Divine Augur and—with Eben now in tow—he tells us that our numbers were wrong before but that they’re right now so he will tell us.
He was told years before never to reveal anything about what he knew until five people of five different races of the world came to the meeting of the ships. It was a prophecy from the Divine Augur and he was given epithets that seem to describe us:
The Queen’s Pawn, The Many, The Favored of the Raven, The One of Myriad Faces, and She Who Burns Too Bright.
He goes on to explain that his clan did house and hide the Divine Augur for a time, but that he left and went deep into the forest to go to his grave because he knew he wasn’t long for the world. He left the Clearwaters with a map to the site, which he gives to us. We all crowd around the map and look at it to see where the tomb of the Divine Augur is.