|Start||Melora's Moon, 6|
|End||Melora's Moon, 6|
Melora's Moon, 6
The party head to Saeriel's manor in the center of town but not before stopping to investigate the Elmdale Market Square where merchants from all around the continent have gathered to sell their wares. The local merchants have all been pushed out of the main area by these outsiders as they are given preferable licensure by the guild – they are clearly disgruntled and disheartened. The party takes note of this and goes to the manor.
They are greeted at the gate by the captain of the manor guard, Farven, who greets them excitedly. He has some servants grab the cart and store it in the warehouse where it will be kept safe. They enter the manor and Saeriel is happily greeted by a rotund wood elf, Lord Rolar, her father. Saeriel introduces the legendary soldier Aelar and Nydry Arrehndale. He is honored to have royalty in his home and offers his own rooms for her use. The party settles their rooms and then go down to the market square. As they leave, Farven reminds them that Rolar is expecting them for dinner, so they should be back by 7PM. They ask Farven how the local merchants are feeling about the events, and he informs them that his friend, Mordan, is a local vitner and has been pushed to the outskirts of the square by the new merchants. He is very distressed, and Farven would be most grateful if they could help him. He has a cart with a vibrant purple canvas.
The party looks for the purple canvas in the square and quickly find the distinctive marker. They talk to Mordan who embellishes his situation with the guild event – the licenses for local merchants increase in price during this time while the foreign merchants receive theirs for free. The local merchants simply can't compete during the annual guild events! He also reveals that he has heard rumors that the Merchant's Guild does indeed have some nefarious activities - Taenya is the local chapter's accountant and secretary. She tracks all incoming and outgoing shipments and receipts, and on a few drunk nights at the bar, she has let slip some less-than-legal book manipulation she has been asked to do. She dare not refuse. She is a former druid who bears the marks of the Meloran temples on her face. He also informs them that the Merchant's Guild has a violent hold on this city's commerce – those merchants who refuse to get licenses are shunned by guild vendors, and if they are successful, they disappear. One of Mordan's acquaintences, an elf by the name of Duru, disappeared with his entire family in the night. He hasn't been heard from since then (around a week). Saeriel and Nydry both offer the merchant enough coin to cover his losses for the week, so his family can eat. He is very grateful and offers a free bottle of local wine to the party in gratitude. The party insists on paying the 5sp for the bottle.
The party then heads to the guild registration office where there is an incredibly long line of merchants looking to enter the convention in the guild grounds. Saeriel patrols the square getting an idea of the economic landscape in the area. Nydry talks with the merchant in front of her who sells cloths, but, as a fellow merchant, he informs her that he is actually in the business of selling Skym, an illegal and dangerous narcotic that causes hallucinations, magical fluctuations, and other psychadelic effects. His price is higher than Nydry can afford, and Aelar does not seem to think that this is a good idea. Saeriel doesn't like the sound of illegal drug trafficking in her city despite Nydry's protests, but Aelar calms them both down. "Now is not the time for this," he whispers.
The party finally gets to the front of the line and presents their papers to the guild undersecretary who accepts them without question. The forged documents worked beautifully! They enter the compound and see hundreds of merchants in the area with most of the activity being at the local tavern. Aelar goes there to have a drink while the two stealthier party members break away to find a way into the house. They unlock a ground floor window and sneak in before a patrol rounds the corner and sees them. They can hear patrols in the hallways of the guild hall, but they manage to time their movements between patrols. They find themselves in a maintenance room with easy access to the ventilation systems! What luck! They climb the ventilation shafts to the second floor and look through the only ventilation exit with light coming from it. As Nydry leans in to get a better look, her hand slips and crashes loudly on the shaft cover. A face bearing druidic markings looks up in alarm, and she calls the guards. She believes that something, maybe another damn raccoon, is in the ventilation system, and she would appreciate it if the guards cleared them out. The guards leave the room.
Nydry and Saeriel prepare to ambush the bureaucrat – Saeriel will kick the ventilation cover and allow Nydry to jump down right on top of Taeyna. The plan goes perfectly as Nydry lands silently on top of the elf, covering her mouth to muffle her surprise. She tells the woman that she is not there to harm her, and she wants to talk. If she screams, Nydry will knock her out. Saeriel closes and locks the door. The woman nods her head in understanding. They tell her that they need copies of all receipts and orders, and upon hearing their mission, Taeyna becomes much more compliant. She offers to help copy the receipts down to help speed the process.
Fifteen minutes later, there's a loud banging on the door as a gruff voice calls, "Taeyna! Looks like we may have a break-in, so we'll clear out the vents as soon as we clear the house and grounds. Now open the damn door! You know the Guildmaster doesn't want this door closed especially with a security concern. Open up!" Taeyna holds off the guards for a moment while they finish copying the papers. Saeriel jumps back into the shaft, but Nydry does not make it. She and Taeyna exchange worried glances before Nydry jumps under the desk to hide. Taeyna opens the door and three gruff looking elves and humans walk in. They ask her why she had the door closed, and she fumbles on her words. They grab her roughly by the arms and take her away and leave a guard here to investigate the room. The guard casually looks around – completely missing Nydry and Saeriel and decides to take a seat, "Yup… investigating…" as his eyes drift closed.
His nap is broken as two daggers and an arrow end his life abruptly. There is now blood all over the floor. Nydry attempts to clean up a little before she hears more guards coming down the hall. She climbs a rope lowered by Saeriel to the ventilation shafts. As they crawl through the shafts, they can hear surprised commotion in the room as the guards discover the corpse of the guardsmen. As they descend the shaft to the second floor, they hear an alarm being raised and commotion in the house. They exit through the window of the maintenance room, and Nydry jumps into the nearby bushes, but Saeriel is too slow! She is spotted by a patrol! They give chase while Nydry stays hidden. Saeriel attempts to flee past the bar but as she breaks from the house, 4 more guards rush out the doors and begin chasing her. She calls for her bear who also begins to give chase to the guards. Finally, one of the guards catches her, but his grip is quickly broken by a shadow in the night that launches him onto his back and teleports Saeriel away. Saeriel is thrown into the dirt, and Rose glowers under a dark cloak, "STUPID GIRLS!" and she vanishes once more. Nydry is spotted by one of the guards, and now all the guards are giving chase with some firing their crossbows at her. She is peppered with 3 shots, but she continues to run towards the wall – she has to climb the wall and make it out of this compound. She climbs with incredible speed over the wall and flees into the night before the guards can stumble over the 20 ft obstacle.
Nydry hides in the dark alleys feeling the pain from her wounds. Out of the night, a dark cowled figure appears and pushes her into the wall, "What happened to stealth? Silence? Subtlety?! What happened to every lesson I ever taught you? Does it just go out the window as soon as it looks like you MIGHT have to kill someone?! Don't you dare ask how I know that – the guards were yelling it as they chased you. Did you at least get the papers?" Nydry sheepishly hands over the papers, and Rose shoves them into her bag and grabs Nydry by the shoulder. Her world is blackened until she emerges in the manor grounds. "Hide here. I'll have one of my agents smuggle you someplace safe and treat your wounds. We'll talk when you return to Ironwood, Nydry." She vanishes into the night, and Nydry stays in the bushes where Rose left her. Farven approaches the bush, "Your Highness! Rose sent me – come with me!" He leads her to the barracks where he treats her wounds. She leaves the barracks looking non-chalant as possible as Aelar and Saeriel enter the manor grounds from the square. Farven informs the party that Saeriel's father is waiting for them in the grand hall – they are late!