Eclipsed Faith

Game Master bigrig107

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Friendly Arm Inn


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Just getting things set up for the future, nothing to see here!


Regardless of how you found yourself here, you stand at the edge of the Wyrm's Crossing bridge right outside of Baldur's Gate proper.

For Kiley and Shaggar it came in the form of reuniting with Kiley's sister Melodi, a priestess at the Church of Selûne in Baldur's Gate. For the rest of you it could've been a flyer on any number of the streets of the Gate promising pay for a job for the Selûnites, or some other contact you had at the church.

The job is fairly simple at first glance: meet up with Lysandra Lumin at the Friendly Arm Inn and then proceed to Silvermoon Glade to see why it has been silent for a week. Friendly Arm is a walled hamlet three days travel south of the Gate, a sanctuary for travelers to rest in the protection of the high, guarded walls. Lysandra is the priestess of Selûne at the small shrine in the local shared temple in the hamlet and will have any information you might on the situation in Silvermoon Glade, including how to get there.

Feel free to introduce your own scene with the Selûnites here, but Sister Melodi is the priest who ultimately gives you the 'job', as it were.

The sun is high in the sky when you begin your journey by leaving the Gate, and you have all been gathered together at the gate by the instructions Sister Melodi gave you. The band is gathered, the stage is set, and the road awaits you!


HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)

~ Flashback (1 day ago) ~

Shaggar stands before the Wyrm’s Crossing. It had been a 1700-mile trip through pretty (and pretty unfriendly) terrain. The gnoll emits a pleased growl at having navigated the route and delivered Kiley safely to Baldur's Gate. From his robes, he shakes the worst of the road dust. In anticipation of meeting Kiley’s litter-mate – and hoping to make a good impression – he rubs and bangs his feet against the massive head of his battleaxe… releasing the accumulated dirt from his fur. His razor-sharp toe claws click against the blade.

Passersby on the bridge eye him with a mix of distrust and damped hostility. Dampened, most likely, by the presence of the petite young woman at his side… or the sight of 7’ of gnoll muscle urges them to caution. In any case, Shagger greets one couple that has been scowling at him from one side of the bridge to the other. He offers the time-honored greeting of the Bedine, making a series of sweeping circular gestures touching a claw to his forehead, muzzle, and heart – indicating he will neither think, speak, nor hide in his heart any evil. His tone is deliberately light and faultlessly polite. ”Good day, Sayyid and Sayyidah. It is a lovely day, is it not?”

When he receives only glares for his trouble and the couple passing quickly by, he turns his eyes with poorly feigned wide-eyed innocence on Kiley. ”I guess they are busy this day.”

I'm guessing Kiley is going to want to spend a day with her sister. Not that it has to be RP'd.


Female Human Slayer 1 HP: 10/10, NL: 0 | AC: 17/13/14, CMD: 17, Resistances: Cold 5, Electricity 5, Fire 5 | F +2, R +5, W -1 | Per:+3 (Darkvision 60 ft.), Init: +3 | Detect Thoughts: 1/1, Arrows: 40
Perception DC 18:
Kiley's not actually human
Status:

"Busy or they don't agree with you," Kiley says as she stretches up towards the sky. "If it's the latter, I pity them. It is a lovely, lovely day!"


Out of character correction, your contact at the church in Baldur's Gate is now Thandor Brightmoon, an elderly human priest that spoke slowly but had the touch of wisdom to him. If you have any questions for him or want to RP a bit of the conversation with him, let me know!


HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)

The gnoll blows air noncommittally from his nostrils. "Shall we visit this city? You should lead and I will play your dimwit bodyguard again... milady." During the trip, the rich girl traveling incognito with hulking guard had proven to be the gambit that townsfolk most readily accepted with the least amount of problems or irritating questions.


Female Human Slayer 1 HP: 10/10, NL: 0 | AC: 17/13/14, CMD: 17, Resistances: Cold 5, Electricity 5, Fire 5 | F +2, R +5, W -1 | Per:+3 (Darkvision 60 ft.), Init: +3 | Detect Thoughts: 1/1, Arrows: 40
Perception DC 18:
Kiley's not actually human
Status:

"I don't know if we'll have time. Weren't we supposed to meet, um, what was it, 'One of Elah's Sons,' I think, around here," Kiley asks.


HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)

Shaggar yips, which Kiley had deduced was a cross between laughter and disbelief. "I think the Sheik said that only to convince me to go. We are here for a son of Selune called 'Thandor'." He rolls the strange name around in his mouth for a moment.

Without warning, the gnoll gently pokes the young woman with a claw, encouraging her forward. "After you, milady." As her 'bodyguard' he hovers behind Kiley while trying to cultivate an expression that is alert, mentally blank, and vaguely menacing.


Female CG Drow Cleric of Eilistraee 1 | HP: 10/10 | AC: 18, T: 11, FF: 17 | CMB: +0, CMD: 12 | F: +3, R: +3, W: +5 | Init: +2 | Perc: +5| Channels: 5/5
Skills:
Diplomacy +6, Knowledge (religion) +4, Perform (dance) +7, Perform (sing) +7

Present Day, At the Gate

Marith Melarn stood primed and ready at the mouth of the Gate, her silver-coated armor set and her weapons at her back and side. The drow maiden look set for war or battle and uneasy eyes flicked towards her in anticipation for… something. And why wouldn’t they be. She was a drow after all. They were slavers, tyrants, and spider worshippers. Everyone knew that. And yet… nothing. No screaming in Lolth’s name. No kidnapping of young children into the Underdark. No incriminations of the inferior male sex. She was simply waiting at the Gate and seemingly enjoying the sun.

When an increasingly paranoid Flaming Fist finally got the gumption to question her, Marith simply smiled and answered his prying questions. "Oh no sir I do not intend to stay long" and “Why no sir I don’t intend to cause trouble.” It was hardly the first she’d ever had answer such questions. Even in Waterdeep, her home and a place where she spent nearly a century running around amoungst its streets, she still had to suffer the stares and the questions from time to time. Or worse.

But Marith refused to let that bring her down. Baldur’s Gate had been a marvel to see and explore with the House of Wonders and Elfsong Tavern being especial delights. It was a grand and diverse city much like her Waterdeep with many people who did not immediately cower at her dark ashen skin and fear the worst. But the drow yearned to see the next leg of her adventure far from home.

That desire thankfully became manifest when Marith finally spied her contact Sister Melodi in the crowd. "Sister Melodi," she called, her face beaming her light blue eyes bright. "Greetings to you and salutations to the Lady of Silver. I am Marith Melarn. Priestess of Eilistraee and Sword Dancer in her service. My sisters sent me here to help and so here I am."


The person Merith thought was Sister Melodi turns towards her in confusion, obviously not the the drow thought she was.

An elderly man wearing silver robes with a light blue hood on replies upon hearing Merith’s words.
”Apologies, but Sister Melodi’s actually away from the church on an important errand. My name is Brother Brightmoon, and I’ll explain anything you need to know about the Glade before you head out that way. We are ever grateful for your assistance, Lady Merith. Won’t you accompany me to the church before you depart? It’s nearby.”

He hears the gnoll’s remarks as well, and moves over to the unusual figure.
”Ah, you must be here to help as well! It is so good to see such a response to our pleas for aid. My company and I were about to head to the church for some refreshments and prayers before you left the Gate, would you care to join us?”

If the other two members want to make their entrance to the party, as it was, here, just jump in whenever!


Female Human Slayer 1 HP: 10/10, NL: 0 | AC: 17/13/14, CMD: 17, Resistances: Cold 5, Electricity 5, Fire 5 | F +2, R +5, W -1 | Per:+3 (Darkvision 60 ft.), Init: +3 | Detect Thoughts: 1/1, Arrows: 40
Perception DC 18:
Kiley's not actually human
Status:

Kiley is about to voice her, by now, well known opinion on this particular charade ("I play the lady about as well as you play dumb.") when she hears a man calling out to them.

"Do you think that's him," she asks before another prod gets her walking over.

"That sounds lovely. Would you happen to be Thandor," she asks as she gets close enough she doesn't have to raise her voice to be heard.


HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)

Shaggar follows Kiley and offers the priest a half-bow. ”Yes, we are grateful for your hospitality. I am Shaggar, of the Bedine, of Elah’s faithful… She who is also called Selune.”


Female tiefling unchained rogue [knife master] 1 | AL: CN | HP: 5/10 | AC 16, T 14, FF 12 | F +1, R +6, W +0 | Init: +4 | Per: +4 (darkvision 60 ft.) | Resistances: cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5 | Detect thoughts 1/1, Disguise self 1/1

A few days previously:
If it was not yet midnight, it probably wasn’t far off by the time Ari returned to her chamber. Tankards and glasses collected, tables wiped and floors mopped, it had been a long shift but she’d certainly had busier ones. It felt like something of a transition period at the Friendly Arm Inn, with the height of summer trade and the buzz of constant patronage long gone. Conversely, despite winter bringing less travel overall, anyone passing vaguely in the direction of one of the few safe havens in the ‘miles and miles of miles and miles’ that made up the Western Heartlands would be sure to add a stop at the fortified waystation so busy was always a relative term at the inn.

Similarly, the staff seemed to be in a state of flux too. Ari had been early to sign up with the intention of wintering at the inn but she had been ahead of the curve and others were either dribbling in for similar reasons or making alternative arrangements before the claws of cold truly had their grasp on this part of the Sword Coast. It was the latter that her former room-mate Yala had decided upon, heading back to Baldur’s Gate to spend the time with her family. With no immediate replacement for the girl, Ari had had the chamber to herself for the past tenday and she had been enjoying the unexpected luxury of privacy.

Picking up her hand mirror from her bedside table, she took a look in it and the pale blue face and windswept white hair of Aamina Cloudspirit, air genasi, looked back at her. Aamina was one of a number of regular disguises the tiefling employed, having adopted the role for the entire period she had been at the inn. It was easy enough to feign forgetfulness and pretend her head was in the clouds. And certainly elemental heritage was much less off-putting for the majority of folk than the devilish bloodline that Ari had actually inherited.

She stripped off the colourful blouse and trousers that had essentially been her uniform for the past couple of months. In only her undergarments, without the voluminous sleeves and legs of her outerwear, she felt the kiss of chill air on her skin. She didn’t immediately don her nightclothes, however, instead stretching her limbs, including the tuft-tipped tail that had been kept hidden all day. Passing the mirror to her tail to hold, she was able to use both hands to fill up a small bowl with cold water from a large pitcher. She performed her ablutions and removed the small amount of make-up that she customarily wore as Aamina, a kind of reverse smoky eye that faded from bright white into her natural skin tone.

She glanced over to the cot that had until recently been Yala’s. Another minor boon was having a room she could bring company back to, should the mood take her. Ari had only taken advantage of this once in the past week, a handsome half-elf merchant out of Berdusk who had proved to be extremely pleasant company. It was always something of a risk though. While she had become better at judging who she thought would not be offended by her natural form, there had been a handful who had fled her covers, pronouncing her ‘demon-spawn’, ‘filthy mongrel’, and worse.

But generally she found people didn’t mind; indeed some had been rather taken with her tail. One rebellious noble daughter from Iriaebor had even mentioned that she might have to get one. She had been a fun partner and the comment had come from ignorance rather than malice so Ari had held her tongue, rather than pointing out the numerous practical difficulties and prejudices that she faced on a daily basis to the privileged young lady. Occasionally the encounter would drift back into her mind and she would wonder if she had done the right thing by not speaking up. It had avoided an uncomfortable conversation and possibly brought an end to the evening’s activities but would have taught her companion a valuable life lesson. Perhaps Ari would look her up again next time she was in the City of a Thousand Spires…

Nobody had caught Ari’s eye tonight though. Besides, she had other things on her mind this evening. For she, too, would be moving on tomorrow, having notified Bentley Mirrorshade of her intentions. The venerable gnome owner had nodded as Aamina prattled on, explaining that she would be taking up a call to arms from the church of Selûne and that fame and fortune would be sure to follow after she made a name for herself. He had raised an eyebrow at that, the flighty barmaid having never exactly shown any sign of the skills required of an adventurer, but he took it in his stride as if he had heard it all before. Which, Ari realised, he almost certainly had.

Gossip in the inn was that way back, over a century ago, the elderly gnome had once been an adventurer himself. Although he tried to do it both surreptitiously and sparingly, Ari had spotted him working magic a couple of times so she knew he had some spellcasting ability. This secrecy around his talents was something she could relate to and approved of. He and his wife also had a reputation for fairness and giving chances, so she had been able to secure employment without difficulty. Despite having presented as Aamina throughout, a by-now comfortable persona for the tiefling, she had had the distinct sense that Bentley had seen through her disguise. And yet he had taken her on anyway, which was another point in his favour as far as she was concerned.

Ari had wanted to repay his faith so she had limited herself to only a certain amount of sneaking around and investigating. The Friendly Arm was a huge place, full of secrets, with numerous rumours and tales swirling around among staff and patrons alike. She felt like Leira, mistress of illusions and secrets, and her goddess, would have approved of the place. Ari herself had only scratched the surface of what likely lay hidden in the one-time keep. Most usefully, she discovered early on in her stay that by pressing hard on a knot-hole on the headboard of her bed, she could remove a hand-sized panel that concealed a small extradimensional space. Having had all four of her daggers peace-bonded in line with the inn’s policy on weapons, she was able to palm a cook’s knife from the kitchen and hide it within. It wasn’t that she particularly anticipated danger or attack within the confines of the Friendly Arm but Ari slept a lot more soundly in the knowledge that she had a blade within easy reach. She made a mental note to quietly return the makeshift weapon in the morning.

Deciding that she had her fill of the cool air of the room, she grabbed the well-worn grey nightdress from under her pillow and pulled it over her head. She briefly considered bundling her possessions into her backpack ready for the next day but decided it could wait. Sleep felt like a more attractive proposition right now so she slipped into bed and pulled the heavy wooden blankets over her. She shot a quick glance at the various outfits and other items strewn over the chair and the floor. It’s not like it would take long to sort out her meagre possessions in the morning.

While she didn’t have some of the practical necessities that a wanderer like Ari did, the tiefling had marvelled at the personal effects her former room-mate did possess. Vala’s bedside table was covered with cheap jewellery, letters, and various other knick-knacks and curios. They may not have been valuable, she explained to Ari, but they were worth something to her. Ari had pondered this, accepting that she just probably wasn’t very sentimental - not that she had had much to be sentimental about.

Probably the only thing she owned that would fit that description was her holy book. A slim, pocket-sized volume that to an observer would simply look like a cheap blank journal. In fact Ari had filled it by hand, using invisible ink to scribe prayers to Leira and other teachings and useful information that she had learned during her time at the Cavern of Mists. She had picked up a few new accessories to add to her disguise kit from the recent glorious summer she had spent in the Dezlentyr-Silvermist Travelling Troupe but they were really just for practical use. She exhaled deeply, remembering the joy of those few months and wondering if perhaps she should have kept something else as a reminder of those times. She dismissed the thought. As sad as she was that it had come to an end, it was done. Better to focus on the journey ahead and the possibilities that may bring.

What she had given careful thought to was whether to introduce herself for the new job as Ari or Aamina - or indeed someone else entirely. No option was entirely without risk and her starting point was very much that this was just a job. Anything beyond that was a bonus and she was very much reserving judgement on that front. While she was used to being in disguise for prolonged periods of time, it wasn’t something she could do indefinitely. And taking a positive spin on how things might go, inevitably revealing herself to actually be someone else would likely cause trust problems with her companions or worse. She smiled grimly at the thought, being well accustomed to issues of trust.

Being Ari - or at least some version of her - would eliminate that issue but would make her more vulnerable in a way she did not like. It was exhausting at times but she would need to keep her barriers up in order to protect herself from potential emotional harm and rejection, something she had been brooding on rather a lot lately.

It was certainly a conundrum but she had decided that to be herself - whoever exactly that was - was the sensible call in order to get off on the right foot with new companions she might need to rely on in the face of potential dangers. Certainly she felt confident she could easily talk her way out of any curious questions on leaving about why Aamina was dressed differently or had tamed her hair. ‘For the road’ was an easy catch-all answer - a genuine truth, if not quite the whole of it - and spinning white lies and misdirections were just what she did.

Anyway, she had a planned rendezvous before the start of the mission, not to mention persuading her former - and soon to be future - companion that the job offer from the Selûnites was worth pursuing. She was pretty confident of that at least. Ari and Lisyil Itarildë had struck up an easy casual friendship when the half-elf joined the travelling troupe. They found common ground in a desire to explore, not entirely fitting in, and a mutual need for privacy and time to themselves away from the rowdiness and partying.

When Lisyil left to pursue travels in a different direction, she asked Ari if she wanted to meet up again in a few months' time. Slightly taken aback by the offer, and feeling that the particularly gregarious version of herself she had been could hardly say no, she agreed to meet Lisyil towards the end of Uktar at the Blade and Stars in Baldur’s Gate. This was new ground for Ari, having drifted out of others’ lives and back in again largely by chance, but she did enjoy the half-elf’s company and was genuinely flattered to be asked. She tried to dismiss the nagging doubts about why she would seek out her company again, even though the offer was low-key and did not imply any great commitment on her part. Besides, if Ari’s paranoia got the better of her she could always just fail to show up. She sincerely hoped it would not come to that though.

Ari reached over to her bedside table and extinguished the candle that had been casting its light around the room by delicately squeezing the wick between her thumb and forefinger. Although she could see clearly in the dark, she was careful not to let on that she had this ability so used light sources the same way any human would. She watched the wisps of smoke dissipate in the still blackness of the room, wanting to get some rest ahead of what the new day may bring. Her mind, however, was still abuzz at the possibilities. Nervousness, caution and excitement vied for control, as well as a dash of something that she realised was optimism. She only hoped that it would not be snuffed out as easily as she had put out the candle.

Trying to relax her racing thoughts, Ari rolled over onto her side. She reached down to hitch the hem of her nightdress up a bit so that she could more easily reach the hidden invisible tattoo on her right hip. Gently she traced the spiral inside a triangle that was the symbol of Leira with a finger and offered a prayer in a quiet but clear voice. “Lady of Mists, I reach out to you now at this holy hour, under night’s cloak. By your favour grant me the grace to see that which should be seen, hide that which must be hidden, and keep safe that which needs to be secret.” She felt instantly calmer having made the offering and it took only a limited amount of tossing and turning before sleep took her into its nightly embrace.


Female tiefling unchained rogue [knife master] 1 | AL: CN | HP: 5/10 | AC 16, T 14, FF 12 | F +1, R +6, W +0 | Init: +4 | Per: +4 (darkvision 60 ft.) | Resistances: cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5 | Detect thoughts 1/1, Disguise self 1/1

Ari walked out of the city gates with a confidence that did not betray the mix of trepidation and exhilaration that were vying for internal control. A new job usually brought up such feelings, though this time they were exacerbated by the fact she was not just putting herself out there but felt a responsibility for her companion's decision to accompany her. Admittedly Lisyil had taken little persuasion when Ari showed her the flyer she had liberated from the noticeboard at the Friendly Arm, explaining that it ticked the boxes of travel, adventure and new company, not to mention the sweetener of it being much better paid than the average day's labour.

She was glad too that meeting the half-elf again hadn't been awkward, the pair passing a pleasant evening swapping stories about what each had been up to in the handful of tendays since they had last seen each other. Ari had had less to report as she had mostly been waiting tables since the dissolution of the travelling group they had both been part of, but she had been more than content to listen to Lisyil's stories.

As the pair made their way onto Wyrm's Crossing, Ari pulled her heavy road cloak tightly around her as a chill wind whipped across the bridge. The day may have been bright but it the year was still very much waning and it was not warm. Peering out from under her hood, which handily protecting herself somewhat from both the cold and too many pairs of staring eyes, she scanned the constant flow of traffic and numerous people gathered on the busy bridge.

Spotting a figure clad in the silvery robes of the clergy of Selûne a little way off, Ari nudges her companion and gestures in the man's direction. "I think that's probably our destination." As they get closer, she realises that the trio of figures already in conversation with the elderly priest consists of a petite woman, a drow swordswoman, and, towering over the others, a gnoll. Even for cosmopolitan Baldur's Gate this was quite an eclectic group and would only become more so with their arrival. She makes this observation quietly to Lisyil as they approach. "Shall we go and join the party then?"


Female CG Drow Cleric of Eilistraee 1 | HP: 10/10 | AC: 18, T: 11, FF: 17 | CMB: +0, CMD: 12 | F: +3, R: +3, W: +5 | Init: +2 | Perc: +5| Channels: 5/5
Skills:
Diplomacy +6, Knowledge (religion) +4, Perform (dance) +7, Perform (sing) +7

Marith nodded at the elderly priest and made her apologies for the mix-up as she followed him to the Selûnite church. As she made her way she noticed the bowing gnoll and their apparent companion head that way as well.

Without missing a beat, the drow greeted them energetically. "Hello there. Do you both intend to help the Selûnites as well? If so my name is Marith Melarn. Happy to make your acquiescence."


HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)

The gnoll looks at the drow woman curiously, head cocked slightly to one side. He whuffles the air for a moment before responding. "Greetings, Marith Melarn. I am Shaggar, Blackmaw of the Bonecrack... We are here to help." Learning what he has of outland ways, he hesitantly offers his oversized clawed hand to her for a clasp of meeting. He looks to Kiley to confirm he is doing it the proper way.


Female Human Slayer 1 HP: 10/10, NL: 0 | AC: 17/13/14, CMD: 17, Resistances: Cold 5, Electricity 5, Fire 5 | F +2, R +5, W -1 | Per:+3 (Darkvision 60 ft.), Init: +3 | Detect Thoughts: 1/1, Arrows: 40
Perception DC 18:
Kiley's not actually human
Status:

Kiley smiles encouragingly at Shaggar. As far as she's concerned, he's doing fine.

"Ah, apologies. I seem to have forgotten my manners, and as you can see, I can hardly blame the company I keep for it. The name's Kiley Sherrow. It's a pleasure to meet you Miss Marith Melarn and Brother, Thandor? We're indeed here to help."

She pulls out the silver holy symbol hanging from her neck out from under her tunic and shows it to the priest and the drow that would appear to be joining them.

A drow elf? That is something you don't see everyday. She seems a lot nicer than the ones Momma and Poppa talked about running into once or twice.


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Female CG Drow Cleric of Eilistraee 1 | HP: 10/10 | AC: 18, T: 11, FF: 17 | CMB: +0, CMD: 12 | F: +3, R: +3, W: +5 | Init: +2 | Perc: +5| Channels: 5/5
Skills:
Diplomacy +6, Knowledge (religion) +4, Perform (dance) +7, Perform (sing) +7

Marith eagerly takes Shaggar's furry hand and shakes it right before giving his companion Kiley a happy nod. "Shagger. Kiley. I hope to get to know you all better as we make this quest. I imagine there's a lot to how the two of you got together, no?"

Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10

Guess Kiley being a tiefling gonna remain a mystery for a bit lol.


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HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)

Shaggar is surprised by Marith's lack of hesitancy and eagerness. He'd rarely seen that. The gnoll debates if it was a quality unique to Marith or perhaps it was a drow trait? He'd never met a drow before or heard much about them to have a guess.

Considering one of the meanings of 'got together' in Common, he feels the need to clarify. "Oh, we are not mated."


Female Human Slayer 1 HP: 10/10, NL: 0 | AC: 17/13/14, CMD: 17, Resistances: Cold 5, Electricity 5, Fire 5 | F +2, R +5, W -1 | Per:+3 (Darkvision 60 ft.), Init: +3 | Detect Thoughts: 1/1, Arrows: 40
Perception DC 18:
Kiley's not actually human
Status:

@Marith: Muahahaha! Just as planned. :3

"He's like a big brother," Kiley adds. "And I'm afraid the story isn't as interesting as all that. He helped save me, and we've been friends since then."

Sense Motive DC 18:

Bluff: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 = 18

It's subtle, but there's definitely something about how they met that Kiley wants to avoid.


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HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)

Shaggar's red eyes fall on Kiley a second longer than necessary before he adds in a deadpan tone, "Yes, littermates. Her mates are short... and hairless... with flat faces lacking a noble muzzle. They look like baby mole rats."

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (20) + 1 = 21


Female Human Slayer 1 HP: 10/10, NL: 0 | AC: 17/13/14, CMD: 17, Resistances: Cold 5, Electricity 5, Fire 5 | F +2, R +5, W -1 | Per:+3 (Darkvision 60 ft.), Init: +3 | Detect Thoughts: 1/1, Arrows: 40
Perception DC 18:
Kiley's not actually human
Status:

"'Tis true. We were the shame of the tribe. Our mother was rather unfaithful you see."

Kiley's matter-of-fact tone makes it seem like she's telling the truth, right up until you the smile she's hiding in her eyes.


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HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)

"You are pretty, Kiley. Your uh..." The gnoll struggles to find the right word in Common, "friendboys... THEY look like mole rats."


Lisyil can jump in and join whenever she’s ready, I’m gonna move forward a bit.

The elderly priest laughs at the party’s antics, seeing the group get along together already brings a smile to his face. He leads you away from the bridge entrance to the city, starting a five minute walk along the much quieter side roads around the Gate before finally arriving at Selûne’s temple. It’s a small affair as far as temples go, with only a single story and a handful of acolytes guarding over the holy site.

He brings you inside past the open air sanctuary with several pews made of carved wood and into an inner room. There, several tables with chairs are covered in a variety of religious objects related to the Moonmaiden, and he makes his way over to a cluster of bottles on own do the closer tables.

”Care for some moonwine and a seat? I’m sure you may have a few questions before you head out, and I’m having lunch made for you. I hope you like boar, the hunters brought back a rather large one last tenday and we’ve had smoked meat ever since!”


HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)

Shaggar walks the room slowly, looking at the objects dedicated to Selûne and comparing them to the iconography of Elah. With a sweep of his bisht he settles himself into a chair large enough to accommodate his frame.

"Food and drink would be appreciated. I thank you."


Female tiefling unchained rogue [knife master] 1 | AL: CN | HP: 5/10 | AC 16, T 14, FF 12 | F +1, R +6, W +0 | Init: +4 | Per: +4 (darkvision 60 ft.) | Resistances: cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5 | Detect thoughts 1/1, Disguise self 1/1

Just as the pair had been moving tow go and join the larger group, there was a loud crash behind them. This had the unfortunate, but perhaps unsurprising, effect of causing the quartet of horses pulling the wagon that had been in the middle of the bridge on its way out of the city to buck, rear and neigh frantically. Wanting to give the spooked creatures a wide berth, and keen not to add to their distress, Ari lays a hand on Lisyil's arm to indicate they should wait for the horses' crew to calm them.

Unfortunately the priest had taken the minor ruckus as his cue to lead the trio back to the temple, resulting in the tiefling and half-elf having to hurry after them. As the foursome disappeared into the temple of Selûne, they followed behind, though had to explain their presence to the warden at the entrance. Ari achieved this succinctly, brandishing the notice calling for volunteers with a flourish. A young flaxen-haired woman clad in the robes of a novice is called forth and she takes them through to the back room.

"Apologies for our lateness," Ari begins, "we were unfortunately delayed on the bridge." She drops her voice to a stage whisper and rolls her eyes in an exaggerated manner, adding "Horses." Turning to the elderly priest she asks, "Brother Brightmoon, I presume?"

I figured it probably made more sense for us to do introductions here rather than skipping back and forth between the bridge and the temple. Hope that's ok.


HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)

Shaggar is out of his chair quickly at the newcomers' entrance. He defaults to making a set of circular gestures touching a claw to his head, muzzle, and heart then offering the duo a small bow. He would have offered a welcoming 'smile' but he'd been told that his attempts at smiling were far too reminiscent of a wolf baring its teeth before it attacked. He was still working on his 'friendly smile' face.


Female tiefling unchained rogue [knife master] 1 | AL: CN | HP: 5/10 | AC 16, T 14, FF 12 | F +1, R +6, W +0 | Init: +4 | Per: +4 (darkvision 60 ft.) | Resistances: cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5 | Detect thoughts 1/1, Disguise self 1/1

Ari’s first reaction when the gnoll rises was to reach for a blade. Instinctive, but totally inappropriate for the setting. Fortunately this would have been done with the shake of a wrist to drop a concealed blade into her hand, so she instead continues the motion by raising her arm to take down her hood, revealing a mass of white hair. Still, she chides herself internally for the defensive reflex.

She doesn’t recognise the gestures he makes so decides caution is the more sensible option and doesn’t repeat them, lest she inadvertently causes offence. The bow is unmistakable, however, and she returns it with one of her own. ”I’m Ari. Pleased to meet you.


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Female Half-Elf Witch 1 | HP: 8/8 | AC: 13 (T: 12, F: 11 | CMB: -1, CMD: 12 | F: +2, R: +2, W: +2 (+2 vs Enchantments) | Init: +2 | Perc: +5, SM: +2 | Speed 30'

Lisyil had split from Ari because she wanted to travel north to see the great iceof Frozenfar that lay beyond The Spine of the World that she had heard about. Lisyil had seen snow of course, but very little of it compared to what the stories of the north promised.

Unfortunately Lisyil didn't make it to Frozenfar. While Lisyil understood weather, her knowledge of climate was rather lacking since it was limited to the much gentler seasons of her home in the Wealdath.

Once she was north of Waterdeep, the clues started to drop. The season was turning toward winter rather than summer and talk of preparations for the coming cold among the people she encountered were shockingly extensive. As she came to realize her timing for a trip so far north was phenomenally bad, she changed her mind. There would be no harm in waiting half a year or more to see Frozenfar.

Lisyil turned back south to Waterdeep. Her new plan was to spend some time there instead. But, the city's size and the dense throngs of its population were a overwhelming to her. Lisyil left after only a couple of confusing and anxiety-laden days. This left Lisyil with a lot of time on her hands. She had made plans to reunite with Ari in Baldur's Gate, but she was on her way there much earlier than she has anticipated, and therefore unsure if she would be able to find Ari.

It did take some time wandering about, visiting plenty of taverns, and sitting outside to soak up some of what remained of the warm weather with cups of watered wine before she did bump into her friend. Happily Ari turned out to have a job in mind for them right away. It involved working for the Selûnites, which seemed just fine to Lisyil. After all her own attempts at planning this or that weren't giving good results. Best she let someone set the agenda for a while.


HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)
Ari Zarromyr wrote:
The bow is unmistakable, however, and she returns it with one of her own. ”I’m Ari. Pleased to meet you.

"The honor is mine, Miss Ari. I am Shaggar."


"Of course, of course. I'll have some brought immediately."
Within a few minutes one of the younger acolytes brings over a large tray of assorted cheeses, fruits, and the aforementioned smoked boar and moonwine, along with enough glasses and plates for all present.

Soon after the trays are spread out, however, the two newcomers arrive and introduce themselves. Brother Brightmoon looks up and nods his head gently.
"Yes, that is me. I am so glad we were able to drum up so much aid on such short notice. Before we get into the details, do dig in! I don't know if any of you have ever had moonwine before, but it's simply the most delightful drink. They use berries grown in the forest right outside Silvermoon Glade actually, which have the peculiar habit of only being ready to be picked when the moon is shining on them. Makes for quite a rare treat indeed!"


Female CG Drow Cleric of Eilistraee 1 | HP: 10/10 | AC: 18, T: 11, FF: 17 | CMB: +0, CMD: 12 | F: +3, R: +3, W: +5 | Init: +2 | Perc: +5| Channels: 5/5
Skills:
Diplomacy +6, Knowledge (religion) +4, Perform (dance) +7, Perform (sing) +7

Marith welcomed the other new arrivals in the same way she welcomed Shaggar and Kiley, warmly and with a bright smile on face. "Marith Melarn of Waterdeep and Sword Dancer of Eilistraee. Happy to meet you both." While the smile held strong, an observant looker could perhaps notice the slightest of hesitations as she addressed Lisyil. Half-elfs in Marith's experience did not often share the burning contempt for drows as "full-blooded" elves did but it was always a gamble all the same.

All the same, the Eilistraeen had no intention of allowing her fear to ruin her mood. Especially when moonwine and a fine spread of fruits were available. "A fine treat indeed, Brother Brightmoon. I thank you for your hospitality," she says kindly as she plucks a plum looking grape from its stem. "May Eilistraee bless this meal and those who labored to make it."


Female Human Slayer 1 HP: 10/10, NL: 0 | AC: 17/13/14, CMD: 17, Resistances: Cold 5, Electricity 5, Fire 5 | F +2, R +5, W -1 | Per:+3 (Darkvision 60 ft.), Init: +3 | Detect Thoughts: 1/1, Arrows: 40
Perception DC 18:
Kiley's not actually human
Status:

Bridge
Kiley can't keep a straight face after Shaggar's comment and laughs as she pats the gnoll's arm.

"You really are like a big brother," she says with a grin.

Temple
Kiley stands as the newcomers join them and she raises an eyebrow as she realizes that most of them are women, and Shaggar's the only male.

Poor Shaggar, he'd probably be ecstatic if he wasn't the only one with a muzzle and a tail.

"Hello, Miss Ari. I'm Kiley Sherrow," she says with a bow of her own. "We were just getting settled, so you have pretty good timing!"

After sitting back down once introductions are made, Kiley finds herself looking forward to trying some of the moonwine. The smell of the food makes her stomach growl as she waits to be able to dig in.


Female tiefling unchained rogue [knife master] 1 | AL: CN | HP: 5/10 | AC 16, T 14, FF 12 | F +1, R +6, W +0 | Init: +4 | Per: +4 (darkvision 60 ft.) | Resistances: cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5 | Detect thoughts 1/1, Disguise self 1/1

"Well met, Shaggar," she replies. Then, facing Marith and Kiley in turn, offers them the same greeting in response to theirs. "And yes, thank you the offering," she echoes the drow. To Brother Brightmoon, she says, "I've never had the pleasure of moonwine but I look forward to sampling it."

Greetings made, she takes a step back and gestures towards the chairs, allowing the others to return to where they had been settling themselves. It also gives her the opportunity to take everything in for a minute. As she had realised on the bridge, they were quite an interesting collection of people but she was pleasantly surprised that nobody seemed to be particularly fazed by her appearance.

Knowledge local: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (13) + 6 = 19

Noting Shaggar and Kiley's style of dress is both similar to each other and not typical for the Western Heartlands, she enquires, "Would I be correct in thinking that the two of you are already companions? And you have perhaps travelled some distance to be here?"


"It's the least I can do for you. It's not a short journey, and you need to be well-fed for the beginning of it."

The smoked meat is delicious, and the cheddar cheese compliments it perfectly when combined with the seemingly fresh grapes and strawberries. The moonwine is a light wine, not very heavy, and has a delicate, silvery, almost cool flavor that leaves a refreshing sensation on the palate.

Clearly this village is important to the Selûnites for a variety of reasons, and this wine being created there is undersatndably one of them.


HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)

Shaggar adds several slices of smoked boar and a selection of fruits – or things he believes are fruits – onto a plate. He casts a skeptical eye on the cheeses and avoids them. Accepting a comically small glass of moonwine, he resumes his seat. He adjusts his robes, making something of a picnic blanket in his lap. Wisely, he leaves the wineglass on the table.

He responds to Ari’s questions and observations. ”We have come from the desert – The Sword in the southern reaches of Anauroch…” He does the math in his furry head, ”Nearly 500 leagues, we have traveled together. I am curious to see the ocean.”


HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)
GM of the Moon wrote:
"It's the least I can do for you. It's not a short journey, and you need to be well-fed for the beginning of it."

Shaggar sniffs a strawberry curiously before putting it in his muzzle and chewing it slowly. His eyes widen in approval. He grabs two more of the juicy berries and pops them in his mouth and eats them vigorously. "How far is the village?"


The man smiles seeing the gnoll enjoying the berries and then replies.
"Well, the walled hamlet of Friendly Arm, where you'll find Lysandra, is a three day journey directly south. And then the Glade is a two day journey to the southeast of Friendly Arm. So, half a tenday's journey there, and another half back."

"We have prepared rations enough for you to make the trip to the Arm, and then Lysandra will have the resources to get you to the Glade safely."


Female Human Slayer 1 HP: 10/10, NL: 0 | AC: 17/13/14, CMD: 17, Resistances: Cold 5, Electricity 5, Fire 5 | F +2, R +5, W -1 | Per:+3 (Darkvision 60 ft.), Init: +3 | Detect Thoughts: 1/1, Arrows: 40
Perception DC 18:
Kiley's not actually human
Status:

Kiley nods and samples the wine as Shaggar answers Ari's question. The young swordswoman's eyes light up as the flavor registers, and her cheeks color as she takes another long sip. Moonwine, she thinks her father may have mentioned it once or twice, but she couldn't remember. The bittersweet memories thinking of him and her mother bring to the fore of her mind steal some of the pleasure she feels from the fine food and wine, and it takes her a moment to realize that Thandor Brightmoon is talking about their mission. She pushes the memories away for now and promises to buy a bottle of the wine to share in their memory after they get paid.

"Are there any dangers we should be aware of on the way there and in the area," she asks before taking a nibble of one of the cheeses. A corner of her mind wonders why Shaggar didn't try them, but she at least keeps the thought from distracting her.


Female tiefling unchained rogue [knife master] 1 | AL: CN | HP: 5/10 | AC 16, T 14, FF 12 | F +1, R +6, W +0 | Init: +4 | Per: +4 (darkvision 60 ft.) | Resistances: cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5 | Detect thoughts 1/1, Disguise self 1/1

At Brother Brightmoon's mention that they would be heading to the Friendly Arm, Ari silently curses - why couldn't they have mentioned this in the first place and saved her a journey and the coin needed to fund it? She'd need to think carefully about how to play her return as well. Not because she had left on anything other than amiable terms, but because she had been someone else entirely during her stint working there. At least she had some time to mull it over on the journey.

Still somewhat peeved about the negative balance to her outgoings versus her income in the last few days, Ari avails herself of the free lunch. She fills her plate with a small amount of everything, nodding in approval at the priest's assertion that they would be well-fed. She doesn't know much about cooking or fancy meals but she knows the provender is indeed good - quality produce that seems to complement each other. "It would appear that you might be giving the Chaunteans some competition," she says by way of thanks.

As Shaggar explains just how far her and Kiley have travelled, she lets out a low whistle. "That is a great distance." And I wonder if you have an equally great reason for making a journey of such length? "But you might need a separate trip to see the ocean. Despite its name, the Coast Way generally runs parallel to the Sea of Swords rather than directly along the coast itself," she explains.

Turning to Kiley, Ari jumps in to respond to her question. Although it wasn't aimed at her, she figures it would be good to demonstrate her usefulness to the group at large and her knowledge of the area is something her companions from much further afield are unlikely to possess. "Between here and the Friendly Arm? We're on the main trade road so it's generally as safe as anywhere could be when covering that distance. Which is to say we'll still want to be armed and on guard, obviously, but it's a busy route even this late in the season. As for Silvermoon Glade, I've never been. But it sits on the edge of the Wood of Sharp Teeth and, well, let's just say it goes by that name rather than the Fluffy Forest for good reason." She flashes the young woman a grin.


HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)
Ari wrote:
"But you might need a separate trip to see the ocean. Despite its name, the Coast Way generally runs parallel to the Sea of Swords rather than directly along the coast itself"

”A way will found... after this task is completed. I must see such a ridiculous body of water.”

Learn Gnollish Body Language? (Perception or Sense Motive DC:13+):
A set of furry crinkles appear around his eyes that suggest Shaggar is amused.

Bluff: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (14) - 1 = 13


Female Human Slayer 1 HP: 10/10, NL: 0 | AC: 17/13/14, CMD: 17, Resistances: Cold 5, Electricity 5, Fire 5 | F +2, R +5, W -1 | Per:+3 (Darkvision 60 ft.), Init: +3 | Detect Thoughts: 1/1, Arrows: 40
Perception DC 18:
Kiley's not actually human
Status:

Perception DC 13: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (13) + 3 = 16

Kiley chuckles when Ari mentions the Woods of Sharp teeth and it not being called the Fluffy Forest.

"I dunno. I think my friend Shaggar here is a pretty good argument for those not being mutually exclusive. He's so fluffy! And I have seen him prove how sharp his teeth are when he needed to."

Shaggar wrote:
Ari wrote:
"But you might need a separate trip to see the ocean. Despite its name, the Coast Way generally runs parallel to the Sea of Swords rather than directly along the coast itself"
”A way will be found... after this task is completed. I must see such a ridiculous body of water.”

"I didn't even tell you what it tastes like," Kiley says, laughter dancing in her eyes. "At least wait until I tell you that or about Icewind Dale before you start using words like ridiculous and inconceivable."


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HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)

Shaggar considers Kiley's argument earnestly while slowly chewing another fine piece of boar. He strokes his 'beard' thoughtfully, in clear imitation of their Sheik before one of his overly-elaborate pronouncements.

"Hmmm... no. A body of water that big is conceivable, but still ridiculous. If it is bigger than my imaginings, I may have to call it 'ludicrous'. Trust me, I am wise in this matter." He punctuates that last sentence by tossing a grape down his gullet. His laughter emerges as a sharp bark.


HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)

He looks to Brother Brightmoon again. "Have any others from the church gone to the Glade? Have there been no messages at all?"


Female CG Drow Cleric of Eilistraee 1 | HP: 10/10 | AC: 18, T: 11, FF: 17 | CMB: +0, CMD: 12 | F: +3, R: +3, W: +5 | Init: +2 | Perc: +5| Channels: 5/5
Skills:
Diplomacy +6, Knowledge (religion) +4, Perform (dance) +7, Perform (sing) +7

Finishing the last of a trio of grapes she had been enjoying, Marith followed Shaggar's example and asked Brightmoon a question of her own. "I know Silvermoon Glade was isolated but perhaps you know of a nuisance or enemy that has tried to bring harm its inhabitants before? The Church of Selûne is tragically not without enemies, after all. A reality that we followers of the Dark Maiden share as well. Perhaps the Sharrans had a hand in this?"


Female Human Slayer 1 HP: 10/10, NL: 0 | AC: 17/13/14, CMD: 17, Resistances: Cold 5, Electricity 5, Fire 5 | F +2, R +5, W -1 | Per:+3 (Darkvision 60 ft.), Init: +3 | Detect Thoughts: 1/1, Arrows: 40
Perception DC 18:
Kiley's not actually human
Status:

Kiley grins at Shaggar, glad to see him in good spirits, but all temptation to laugh fades as the conversation turns to more serious matters.

"The Sharrans," she asks Marith when she brings them up.


Female CG Drow Cleric of Eilistraee 1 | HP: 10/10 | AC: 18, T: 11, FF: 17 | CMB: +0, CMD: 12 | F: +3, R: +3, W: +5 | Init: +2 | Perc: +5| Channels: 5/5
Skills:
Diplomacy +6, Knowledge (religion) +4, Perform (dance) +7, Perform (sing) +7

Knowledge (Religion): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (15) + 4 = 19

Marith looked to Kiley with an understanding look. Shar was an infamously secretive deity with her worshipers taking that creed to the extreme. Even her sisters and mentors in the Dancing Haven had only so much knowledge about goddess. Even so, Marith told Kiley and the others what she knew. "Sharrans are the followers of Shar, goddess of darkness and loss. She is the archenemy of Selûne and her cosmic opposite. Where Selûne represents good and light, Shar represents evil and shadow. Suffice to say , the two of them don't much like one another and their followers have warred againist each other for countless eons perhaps before the dawn of the elves and the Seldarine or even the dawn of time," she says somewhat confidentially before turning to Brightmoon with humility in her eyes.

"But that is only what my fellow Eilistraeens know. You must know far more about the Sharrans, Brother Brightmoon. I defer to your wisdom."


The old priest listens, clearly impressed by Marith's broad knowledge.

"That's basically the gist of it. The Mistress of the Night, as Shar is known, is a twisted reflection of the love the Moonmaiden holds for her worshippers. Shar promises solace in the act of abandoning your past and demands you hold only devotion for her without regards to anyone, or anything, else."

He sighs and takes a long drink of his moonwine before continuing.
"There is much we do not know about her and her church, but the Sharrans have persecuted us at every turn, taking every opportunity to slaughter any of us they can find. There's a possibility that these cruel enslaved fools are responsible for the Glade going silent, but it would be the first attack in many years in this area. If that is the case, we must know as soon as we can, for the Lady of Loss' resurgence will most certainly be a blight upon us all."

"To that end, we have sent a priest before gathering this group two days ago, but they have not returned and we have not heard anything from them since. This is part of why we have essentially hired a larger party to go investigate."
His voice is weary, showing just how much stress he has most certainly been under.


HP:12 | AC:16 ; T:11 ; FF:15 ; CMD:16/15 | Fort:+4 ; Ref:+3 ; Will:+2 | Init:+3 ; PER:+6 (Darkvision)

The gnoll considers, "Have there been warnings of any more common dangers recently? Plagues or bands of dangerous creatures in the woods?"


"The Wood beside the village has always been fraught with peril, ranging from forest creatues like dryads and satyrs to more common creatures like goblins and wolves. Nearly 20 years ago, one of the Grand Dukes of the Gate attempted a coup in order to give him sole control of the city. His lycanthropic allies were said to have retreated with him into the wood after their revolution failed. That's where the woods got its names, or so I'm told."

He sighs heavily again, clearly exhausted by a number of problems beyond the one he has assigned to you.
"I am praying that it is something as simple as a band of goblins have set siege to the city and the townsfolk simply cannot get word out. That should be easy enough for the group of you to solve, and would help ease one of my many burdens in these uncertain times."

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