We begin on the outskirts of Eastfare, a major city of the Great Kingdom of Aerdy. The heroes make ready to enter the city.
Astenaria says she will have to tell her husband about the Reforger, as well as to her Prince and her King. If Astenaria’s embarassment is kept secret, she promises no one else will be told about the Reforger.
Astenaria is asked to scout as a bird. The party is interested in speaking to the farmers on the outskirts of Eastfare, regarding the situation and gates etc. The crown has sent out notices that they are buying all crops at near-fair wage. Some yields look good, some excellent, some giant footprints are present in some farmer fields. Thayd looks at the fields, 30-40% of the crop could fail unless there is a huge influx of manpower. Behind the heroes there are some royal processions trailing behind. The party runs across some minor patrols. There are currently no encampments outside the city, but there is a heavy guard presense.
The heroes decide to send Thorgal and Holber into Eastfare to scout, to seek audience with temple of Moradin or visit taverns.
They hear Ermie, Sargeant in the Great Kingdom: “You sons of liches you get these peasants in here right now!” They see that in place of his missing arm there is a whip at his right forearm. He is screaming orders at soldiers and at peasants, trying to get them into an orderly procession. The gate guards take a copper per person as they enter a city.
Thorgal strides up to Ermie, “Sir Ermie, do you need the services of a fighting man? I’m also a healer.” “Healer! Hell yes we coul duse a healer. Go to the Temple of Pholtus and heal these people up!… Hold up I know that Wziard. Ran just before things got tough. Throw this mother hucker in irons!” Men come up with irons ready to place Holber in shackles. “Shut up dwarf. YOU, Wizard I’m arresting you on charges of treason. You were supposed to help defend the innocent caravan to Eastfare. You guys disappear.. the asshole Extorian had to come and bale us out. Irons, and since he’s a mage, clamp his mouth shut. The dragonman? That fucking cowoard I wish he was here now I would KILL him.” Thorgal says: “Ooh, that’d be interesting to watch.” Ermie: “I would gut that oversized lizard man like a fish. There’s actually a reward out for him from The Great Kingdom. Abandonned his duty.” The guards grab Holber and take him to a dungeon: he is stripped naked to a loincloth, and thrown into a dungeon with a bunch of smelly drunk brutes, however his hands aren’t bound and mouth is NOT gagged: there are 10 people crammed in a cell meant for four, smells like sweat and piss. One prisoner is close to death. The smell of vomit fragrences the air. Nobody is manacled or shackled. One corner of the room is where people go to shit. Holber goes up to look at the dying prisoner, realizing he is dead. The rest of the prisoners begin to ruthlessly bully Holber. At midnight, 3 guards come to Holber’s cell and beat him up, take him to a small nondescript room and blindfolded.
Meanwhile, Thorgal is traveling to the Temple of Pholtus. People on the way are discussing the monster attack, small cities next to Eastfare have bene wiped out. Tons of nobles are coming to the meeting. Slaves were brought in and were freed as a Gift to the Queen, likely Sir Jason Bahl, Commander of Iuz. On the way, Thorgal overhears a couple of Great Kingdom Privates discussing events with each other: “Can you believe that Iuzite came in and gifted our queen with our own people and she bought it? What a foolish tramp. 13 years old. That’s what happens when you put a woman on the throne. We’re supposed to listen to a little girl? I’ve got a little girl who’s four. Maybe she could be high chancellor. She even set Bahl up in the palace. Ask me? That’s cow manure.”
The main group of heroes is 5 miles outside of town, waiting for the rest of the scouting report. The Elven Princess, Astenaria, fortunately spotted Holber getting apprehended. She returns to the main group of heroes and informs them of the events that transpired. “The wizard was arrested and slapped into irons.” She describes Ermie. The heroes discuss preparing a disguise to get into a city.
Inside the Temple of Pholtus, there are 200 people crammed in an are that can only hold 100. 3 or 4 Clerics of Pholtus are running around trying to heal people. “Moradin? Well met! Solid folks you dwarven types! We got a bunch of people needing your help!” Thorgal begins to go around healing peasants. It’s obvious to all that they are all out of spells. They’re obviously competent and obviously overworked. People swarm Thorgal as they see magic being used. As soon as Thorgal starts channelling, people swarm him and ask for all sorts of treatment. A cleric named Tark (lvl 2) goes up to him: “Thank you for lending your aid. Kanan Katar will be here at Sunset. After services we would be honored if you had a meal with us.” “I’m a veteran of battles.” “Wow a battle cleric? I’ve never seen battle and never want to. The Church provides for all my needs. I tithe 70% to the Church, I only keep a small stipend. I’m ashamed ot say, by decree of the queen, soldiers and nobles take precedence over the others. One of our priests was whipped by a bastard with a whip for a hand. He was just carrying out his orders, but… all are equal under Pholthus eyes.” There are a lot of commoners talking about the evil knight Jason Bahl, he was of the family Alyssa. There was a lot of devil worship in that family during the Chaos War – Alyssa was severely effected then. Nobles are coming in and out of town. The Queen’s Conclave is starting in 10 days. People are shaking Thorgal’s hand and asking him for tales. Katar says at dinner; “I talked to the Royal High Chaberlain might get us a grant. Ran across the handmaiden to the queen. I hope she will put a good word in to the Queen on our account.” “We helped 600 today, unfortunately 41 died. Injuries are down, its more due to illness now. I want to introduce you to Thorgal stonecutter, who came of his own volition and unleashed divine magic to heal.” The Kanon eyes Thorgal, and clearly is suspicous, “What’s a dwarf doing at the Temple of Pholtus.” “I don’t know I was fighting drow, you know darkie elves? Then I magicallys got transported into a cave and now I’m here. It must be divine providence.” Katar loosens up a bit, “That’s a great story.” “Strange thing is its actually true.” “Sure, sounds legit. I want to thank you for actually helping people in need.” “What can I do to make myself most useful?” “I personally know a Sargeant major and a commander in the military. When I’m at the palace tomorow and seek out my commander friend, if he is able I will bring him to Sunset Services tomorrow night. It’s the least I can do. If you want you can sleep here tonight with the rest of the acolytes. The guards are not letting people in after nightfall, not sure about letting folks out.” Thorgal leaves Eastfare at night to return to the heroes. He gives them the scouting report.
Astenara says; “Due to you aid and kindness I would be willin got name you as my diplomatic entourage. I will even even extend this protection to his Grace Lord Baron Tharg, under condition that he asks me nicely for it.” Sir Tobi thinks: “This is a tough condition your highness.” Astenaria laughs: “If he is going to enter civilized lands he will have to act civilized. I cannot extend this request conciously without that. I would not embarass my kingdom. Let’s speak plainly but he’s not even a man.” Taiven speaks up for Tharg: “I’ve seen him charge in the face of danger. I believe he has a good heart.” “Of course your opinion of baron tharg matters, but maybe perhaps youre confusing courage with honor. What is its real motivations? His tongue has said many things that don’t line up with honor, he just wants power. You are a good man Taiven and were it in my power I would knight you.”
Inside the keep, a woman with red eyes and black hair meets with Holber: “Why hello traitor how are you today are you enjoying your cell? Tell me more about this not a traitor bit. My sources tell me there was a contingent of refugees that was relying on a group of individuals to see them safely to the city, and one evening near the elven forests the majority of that group decided to leave the refugees to the whims of fate. From the description, you were one of this group. Do you deny you were one of these people escorting these refugees?” “No, I believe Baron Tharg ordered us elsewhere.” “You’re saying you did so under orders. If a soldier abandons his company b/c a superior officer tells him to do so.” “No idea, I don’t know military law.” Dread, the red eyed woman, accosts the Wizard’s brain with images of hell. Holber’s mind is bombarded with horrifying images: fingernails ripped off.
Meanwhile, Tharg asks the Princess, “Please allow me to ask you to accompany you as part of a diplomatic mission.” “Your Highness did not hear the word pretty please.” “Pretty please…” “I will of course grant such a request.” ’"I will take an oath to not speak until give permission by you." “Excellent I take now as the time of the start of your oath.”
The morning of the second day, Thayd is gone with one of the horses. Astenaria says that “Thayd graciously declined the diplomatic service, and felt he didn’t want to be a burden, I accepted his decline and he went on this way. I imagine when we enter hte city I will ask to be housed in the Palace. I also request that Taiven and Mercy guard me at all times. Usually we are granted 2 to 4 retainers. My guess is 2 based on the number of people invited into the city.” “Sir Tobi I woul dask you to accompany Baron Tharg wherever he goes. If we are not in proximity I want someone to help the Baron out should be forget himself.” Baron Tharg hands Astenaria a paper… “I see you found a loophole in our communication your grace.” Tharg has given Taiven his sword and dagger.The scroll reads; ‘Please take care of my sword it is all I have left from my father.’
Per Sir Tobi’s request, the Princess writes and signs papers denoting that each of us is a diplomatic escort, in case the heroes are separated. Sir Tobi requests to walk with Thorgal in order to try and get in touch with Pholtans. Around 9 am of the second day the heroes arrive at Eastfare.
Meanwhile, in the Palace a female elf wizard comes to visit the Inquisitor, Dread. “My name is Azeta Zha, I’m a wizard and it has come to my attention that one of my brethren is rotting in your prison without the aid of counsel. I’m here to represent them. What are the charges? Treason? Is he an agent of the state? I’ve been told his execution has already been scheduled. I formally request the right to gather evidence in his favor, at least 3 to 10 days to do that. Is he guilty?” “I gotta admit, he seems really inept. I’ve broken a lot of people, so I think he doesn’t know anything or really good at hiding.” “Are you saying he is a stupid wizard?” “I’ve seen smarter rocks.” “I’m not married to the idea of saving this imbecile may I sit in on your next interrogation session? I don’t want you using any coercive methods though: no torture, etc.” “I don’t do anything that leaves a mark.” Dread arranges to have Holber brought into interrogation. Azeta Zha introduces herself to Holber. “If I deem you guilty I’m not going to put the Tower’s reputation out there.”
Dread says; “As you can see your represenation is here. Possibly. Its a serious matter. Are you sure there isn’t something to provide that can make you less guilty of treason?” Zha says: “My client doesn’t have an oath to the Kingdom. He might be guilty of breach of contract, but this is not treason.” However, Baron Tharg can be considered to have committed treason, or at best abandonning a post. Same for possibly the Tobi and Taiven. So after Zha and Dread discuss the case, he is released of charges of treason. In return for represenation, Holber will have to scribe scrolls at the Wizard Tower for 2 weeks. Dread concludes: “I feel like you got off lucky today.” Zha offers to buy Holber dinner and hear of the description of Baron Tharg. Holber answers: “Well, lets start with dinner and see what happens.”
At 9 am the heroes arrive at the Main Gate. There is a wanted poster out for Baron Tharg for 1,000 gp. The group is stopped immediately. The guard presense is triple what it was yesterday, and Dread is present as well as Sir Joss. About 10 crossbows are trained on the group. The Princess cries out: “What is the meaning of this, this is my retinue and they are under my protection.” Baron Tharg has his hands up.
Dread says; “It’s interesting you surround yourself with those that warrant for treason.” “Your Royal Highness, I claim these men and other things as servants under my crown. Therefore they rae to be granted Protection due someone my station. I need to see your warrants.” She shakes her head, “Treason?” "That is correct if youwant to go somewhere we can discuss it. I believe SIr Joss also wanted to weight in. " Joss speaks “Yes I know these men, whereas I do not agree with decisions they made, they are not criminals, they were put in a hard situation. I believe ultimately they did what they felt was right. Tis not treason.” Dread speaks: “Ultimately that is not my decision, but we can come to the truth of it.” Joss says: “Very well there will be no irons until we’ve made this decision.” Sir Joss comes up to Baron Tharg and shakes his hand: “I’m sorry about this.”
Sir Tobi learns of the daeth of Malagar. He also learns that Sir Bahl actually came to the RESCUE of the caravan, not to the aid of the half-orc and enemy raiding forces.
Eventually all the heroes are brought to the palace, in a conference room, and all sit down and discuss the warrants. Dread lays out the charges to Tobi, Taiven, and Tharg. The charges are shot down by the facts and Princess Astenaria’s testimony. Dread will see if the charges can be formally dismissed. Quarters will be provided to the party. The charges can be expected to be formally dropped tomorrow. Until tomorrow the heroes are under house arrest. Thorgal is told to not leave town. Thorgal is turned away from the Church of Pholthus: “We don’t know what’s going on with you, but its not the image we want here.”
Word of Baron Tharg has spread like wildfire: some tales have him battling at the gates, supposedly committed atrocities: ate children, burned a man alive. dark rituals, crazy rumors that everyone is talking about.
At this point, the heroes are able to purchase items in town. Tomorrow will bring them one day closer to attending the Conclave…