Freeday, Reaping 28, 552 CY (50 AN)
As the ceremony draws to a close, the Shields of the Sorrowfell — Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Peren, Torinn, and Valna — return to the Addled Alchemist. Having heard that they may get another job within the next month, and that they are guests of the town, they decide to settle at the Addled Alchemist until they hear otherwise.
That evening, Bosabrieln recounts the tales of the Shields’ adventures, drawing an even larger crowd than the previous night.
The following day, on Goodmonth 1, the Platinum Claws return. However, it is only Blank, Cliff, and Sariel; Matthas did not return with them. When Bosabrieln questions Sariel about it, she explains that he must have reincarnated, and they will meet him again on the road someday.
There is an encore the following night, on Goodmonth 2. Bosabrieln recounts more tales of the Shields’ exploits, and Vianibrar tells the Tragedy of Barony Aalsburg.
On Goodmonth 3, Bosabrieln again tells tales and sings songs as evening approaches. Vianibrar tells the classic Dwarven history, the Epic of Theronna Onyxarm. Vianibrar also suggests that some scholars claim the tomb of Theronna Onyxarm has been discovered in Sorgforge.
As Vianibrar is telling his tales, Bosabrieln notices a man in the tavern whom he has not previously noticed. The man is a dandy, wearing clothes of silk and lace. He wears a powdered wig and makeup, and most shockingly, is ignoring the evening’s revelry. Instead, he sits alone and quietly drinks, looking rather miserable.
Bosabrieln strikes a conversation, and as introductions are made, he finds the man to be Count Antonio Weogora of Scandshar. Count Weogora apologizes for not paying attention to the tales, but indicates that he is distracted — his family wishes for him to go to the college at Sorgforge and become a lawyer, while he wishes to study the thaumaturgical arts and become a wizard. Bosabrieln advises him to take the path he wants rather than what his family wants, and invites Bezaldooz over to tell him about the University for the Study of the Arcane Arts and Sciences. Eventually, Torinn finds his way over and continues drinking.
While this is happening, Bezaldooz is the only one to notice that Peren and Valna are gone.
After some more drinks and conversation, Peren returns. He quite boisterous after apparently sleeping with a young, local lass. Bezaldooz notes when Valna returns, looking a trifle guilty, about half an hour later.
The next day, Goodmonth 4, Valna approaches Bosabrieln to ask for help. After some debate on the subject, Valna comes clean — she slept with Peren the previous night. She is concerned, however, as their histories suggest that they might be from the same village. Which further threatens that they might be related. After some debate, they decide to talk to Adeptus Spellweaver.
At the University, Bosabrieln explains to Adeptus Spellweaver that Valna, being an orphan, wishes to know more about her family. Along those lines, she is interested in investigating the thought that she and Peren might be long-lost relatives. Adeptus Spellweaver suggests a ritual called Consult Mystic Sages, although having it performed would likely cost around 1,400 gp. He does suggest an alternative, however; the Baron Lee van Hook has been investigating techniques that may allow him to answer the question, although Adeptus Spellweaver is not certain how accurate those techniques are. They thank him and leave, deciding to speak to the Baron Hook.
When they arrive at the Baron Hook’s chambers, they make introductions and explain the situation. He suggests that he may be able to help them; he has been developing techniques that look at very minute portions of the world. He suspects that there are identifying structures in the blood that he can examine with a new spell he is developing. However, he admits that he cannot provide the certainty of Consult Mystic Sages, and his method could easily give a false positive or a false negative. He will not charge, as it will further allow him to experiment with this ritual. After some deliberation, Valna agrees. He indicates he will need fresh blood from both participants. As such, Bosabrieln and Valna thank him and leave to seek Peren in the Addled Alchemist.
Meanwhile, Peren and Torinn set up a target and engage in target practice in an empty field with Zelazadda Uvarkk’s Lantan musket. While shooting, Peren informs Torinn about the previous night’s sexual encounter with Valna. Bezaldooz joins them and punctuates target practice by setting fire with the target using a fireball, annihilating the target and leaving a swath of scorched earth. The group then retires to the tavern, where Bezaldooz attempts to start a bar fight using the ghost sound cantrip. He fails the notice the attentive student scurry out of the bar off toward the University.
Bosabrieln and Valna are surprised as they see Adeptus Spellweaver making a beeline to the Addled Alchemist, and they arrive just in time to see him yell at Bezaldooz. He admonishes Bezaldooz for his foolishness, and suggests that he received his own bandaged arm for similarly stupid reasons. He leaves, beckoning the gnome to follow. Once the bar settles, Bosabrieln and Valna tell Peren about their opportunity, and he decides to return with them to the University.
Meanwhile, Adeptus Spellweaver takes Bezaldooz into his office. Bezaldooz manages to convince him that he is merely ignorant and foolish, and Spellweaver accepts this before sending him away.
Bosabrieln, Peren, and Valna encounter Bezaldooz on the way to the Wizard’s Tower, and ask if he wants to accompany them. Once he is certain that they aren’t going to visit Adeptus Spellweaver, he agrees.
They arrive in Baron Hook’s office and he starts getting preparations underway. He produces a glass apparatus with a pump and large needle, as well as some other assorted ritual components and an ornate monocle. He explains the procedure, takes blood from Peren and Valna — rinsing and heating the needle between treatments — and then examines the two samples.
After some examination, he states that the structures he suspects to be identifiers are not similar between the two of them. He concludes that they are not related, although he states that they may wish for a second opinion to be certain. The group thanks him, and despite his protestations, Valna donates a couple hundred gold pieces to him. The group then leaves.
The following day, Goodmonth 5, Bosabrieln speaks to Vianibrar about returning to Nainimdul to visit his family. When the rest of the Shields hear about it, they express and interest in joining him, and it is agreed that Vianibrar and the Shields of the Sorrowfell will go together. Bosabrieln makes certain to bring some things he commissioned, and the group goes to the teleportation circle near the town square. He pays Vianibrar for both halves of the trip, and Vianibrar enacts the Linked Portal ritual to transport them to Nainimdul.
They arrive in a small shack containing the other teleportation circle. Apparently, Vianibrar empowered a teleportation circle of his own so that he could easily return home; the shack sits on his property outside Nainimdul. The group assembles and starts to head to the village. As they approach, several elves with bows and swords materialize out of the woods. One gives a strained greeting to Bosabrieln, and explains that he will reluctantly allow them to enter, but he cannot allow the thing — referring to the dragonborn, Torinn — into their woods. After some tense back-and-forth, they agree. Bezaldooz, Torinn, and Vianibrar will return to Vianibrar’s house while Bosabrieln, Peren, and Valna will finish Bosabrieln’s business.
As they approach Bosabrieln’s house, they see a fair-skinned elf outside; he walks into the house without saying anything, even when Bosabrieln attempts to capture his attention. Bosabrieln then knocks on the door, and a tall, pale elf maiden answers. Peren and Valna ascertain this to be his mother. After a tense salutation, she allows them inside and fetches Bosabrieln’s father. They give greeting in the same fashion, and after some strained idle chatter and boasting on Bosabrieln’s part, Bosabrieln starts asking about his mother. Around this time, Peren speaks up and learns that Bosabrieln’s “mother” is merely his stepmother, as his birth mother is some human from outside the village. Bosabrieln’s father rebuffs his questions, telling him to ask Vianibrar about his birth mother. Finally, Bosabrieln takes his leave, leaving a stack of portraits as he goes. Peren and Valna follow gratefully, not entirely comprehending what they just witnessed.
The three return to Vianibrar’s house, where he offers everyone tea. After resting for a few hours, they use his teleportation circle to return to Duchy Jepson.
The rest of the month is spent in study and relaxation. Bezaldooz and Valna study their new rituals. Peren and Torinn spend time at the local barracks and practice sparring. Bosabrieln spends time with Vianibrar. The group also sees Count Weogora a few times before he leaves, saying that he still plans to go to Sorgforge to see Morgrave University, but that he will likely return to Duchy Jepson to study arcana. They also spend time with the remaining Platinum Claws at the Addled Alchemist.
On the morning of Goodmonth 27, a student from the University — the same bookish young sage with whom Valna had a dalliance a month ago — arrives with news. Headmaster Ebenezer Jepson wishes to speak with them around noon. Valna and he share a knowing smile before he leaves.
Everyone prepares themselves. They arrive at the Wizard’s Tower at the appointed time, and ascend to Headmaster Jepson’s chambers. The Shields notice the strange chess set from the Sentinel now displayed in his chambers, and the Headmaster himself has the “Blather Gecko” on his shoulder. Everybody exchanges salutations, and he notes that he heard Adeptus Spellweaver really gave it to Bezaldooz. After pleasantries are done, he explains that he has heard from his allies, the “Zookeepers” — so named because they seek to keep the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks in check — and they have a mission which may require the Shields of the Sorrowfell.
The Zookeepers sent an infiltrator into the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks. They lost contact with her over a week ago. They wish to find out what happened to her, and retrieve her, if possible. He doesn’t know many other details, other than they’re willing to pay.
After some discussion — Headmaster Jepson makes it clear that this job will likely bring them in direct conflict with the largest organized crime guild in the Sorrowfell Plains — the Shields of the Sorrowfell accept. Headmaster Jepson directs them to contact Count Finlay Brissot at midnight at his townhouse in the art district. He also gives them the teleportation sequence for the teleportation circle in the merchant district. He bids them luck and says he is certain he will see them again.
The group is more or less prepared to disembark, so they go to the teleportation circle in the town square. Bezaldooz uses the Linked Portal ritual, and the portal to Scandshar opens.
The group arrives in the smelly, noisy, chaotic Scandshar marketplace. After some deliberation, they decide to get a hotel near their quarry, settling on the Laughing Maiden in the art district. A posh inn, the Laughing Maiden boasts artwork, comfortable beds, sink basins with running water as well as fountains and bathtubs in every room. Two nobles sit in the foyer as the proprietor takes their payment and gets their rooms. They order four rooms — Valna suggests that she and Peren can share a room, officially ending any remaining doubt in anyone’s mind — and the proprietor gets them their keys.
With plenty of time until midnight, they retire to their rooms. Bosabrieln summons a servant to draw a bath; a young serving girl arrives at the summons. As she works, he sees a portion of a peacock tattoo poking out from underneath the neck of her dress. He recalls that the peacock tattoo marks her as a slave owned by the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks. As she leaves, he offers to tip her, but she refuses, saying she cannot accept his payment.
Peren sharpens his weapons while Valna takes a bath which she draws herself. Afterward, she and Peren take to bed together.
Torinn, erroneously assuming that the fountains are foot baths, is sitting when there is a knock on his door. He squishes across the carpet to find Bosabrieln, freshly-bathed, who wishes to ask about some things. He specifically wishes to ask about the Peacock slaves, and Torinn indicates that they are indeed quite common here. The Laughing Maiden is probably a Peacock-controlled inn, although it is also possible that the proprietor is merely a well-connected person. In any case, they’re a presence.
Bosabrieln informs everyone that he wishes to have a meeting a few hours before they meet with Count Brissot. Everyone decides to rest until then.
That evening, they gather. There is some initial excitement as each room contains a small selection of books, and someone discovered a hastily-written narrative claiming to be Tales of the Shields of the Sorrowfell. After that dies down, they discuss movement through the city, and determine that they should probably continue to operate quietly until the time comes for it to be otherwise.
As midnight approaches, they take to the streets to visit Count Brissot. Upon arrival at the house, the guards indicate that they are expected. A valet escorts them to Count Brissot’s chambers, and only Valna notices that a passing servant girl leaving Brissot’s chambers eyes their weapons suspiciously and wears fancy, wax-covered boots.
Once they arrive in the room, they find Count Brissot having a nightcap. He offers them some, and Peren partakes. He then thanks them for coming and explains that the Zookeepers sent a halfling infiltrator by the name of Darstina Tallcrippler into the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks. She stopped contacting them about a week and a half ago. He does not know whether she is alive or dead, but he would like to find out. He is offering them 10,000 gold pieces if she is recovered alive, 5,000 gp if only her remains or information regarding her whereabouts are recovered. As Bosabrieln asks a follow-up question, chaos erupts. All at once, Count Brissot clutches his throat and starts coughing up blood as he collapses; Peren grows dizzy and projectile vomits as he shakes his head to clear it; and a guard rushes in to report something, instead seeing the strange scene before him.