After rescuing Paelias from his tower, and burning his tower down, the party was invited to a dinner with Maxentius where he filled them in on some of the politics in Portalis lately. He mentioned that the tiefling hunters he'd hired earlier to find the missing owls were also suspected of being involved in many of the bad things around town and that implicated him as also being involved.
The dinner was interrupted by a loud sound from upstairs in Maxentius' house, the party rushed upstairs only to find his son Lursk had been kidnapped out an open window by a dark figure running along the rooftops. Istarya, Lel, Nox, Fargrim, Oryn and Teadora all made chase through the town eventually stopping the figure outside of a warehouse. They discovered the figure was a transformed were-rat who easily surrendered the young dragonborn but seemed distraught about something.
Eventually they discovered that the were-rat was Lester Fizzwizzle and that he'd kidnapped Lursk in a last-minute attempt to save the boy and distract his would-be kidnappers. The party quickly rushed back to Maxentius' house in time to stop a shadowy figure from killing him, only to recognize the shadowy form as Modra the dark creeper. After a short fight, Modra conjured a zone of darkness to flee but was surprised along with everyone else (including Maxentius) when Lursk pulled out a wand and blasted Modra back against a building. The dark creeper faded into the shadows and fled, leaving a trail similar to the one that was left when the merchant Samuel Tindell and his assistant Harlin were found dead in their cells.
Istarya and the party were able to follow Modra's trail to the center of town but could not determine exactly where it went. Looking for clues, and following Lester's information, the party searched Samuel's cart and found a drop box with a series of letters in it. One letter was addressed to the tiefling hunter named Parnyn, asking him to follow "the heroes" to Fallheim, to meet up with some gnolls there, and to assist Modra in any way necessary. Another of the letters outlined seemingly future plans to attack or kidnap the Sartean and Tarturian diplomats during their meetings in Portalis.
In the center of town the party met up with the diplomats during their meetings and negotiated for them to stay the night hidden in their rooms. After an uneventful night the party was allowed to sit in on the diplomatic meetings and were shocked when things escalated and the Tarturians brought in the captive Mercedes Cogwheel, who they claimed was acting as a spy for the League of Sarta. As tensions rose, a strange multi-colored glow eminated from a box below the table and the windows shattered as three genasi soldiers on hippogryphs burst into the meeting.
During the battle it became clear that some of the Tarturian diplomats were imposters, all but one of them managed to escape. It also became clear that the genasi and hippogryphs were attempting to kidnap the diplomats, but thankfully the party stopped them.
1,360gp (272gp each)
Between Game Actions:
Just after the chaos of the fight…
Nox: Still succumbed to the rage I walk over snatch the dwarf by the throat and slam him into the wall. Leaning in close with saliva still dripping from my teeth and covered in blood, "Who are you working for?" making sure some spit splatters on to his face as I yell. Some of the Lesandrian Guards move to try and pull Nox off of the diplomat, but they are quickly informed by the assembled party of the situation and back off a little.
The Dwarf looks visibly frightened and disgusted, "I…work for Tarturia. I'm a diplomat!" Istarya steps up after putting the mysterious box under his arm. "Then why would you not keep your beard braided in the traditional fashion? Your manners also are unbecoming a diplomat, and we have evidence that suggests someone on the inside knew an attack was coming." The impostor diplomat begins to visibly shake and sweat, he stammers out a series of excuses, "I…was nervous this morning, braided me beard backwards! I was scared by the windows shattering! Everything happened so fast!" (no insight checks are needed to tell that he is not being entirely truthful) "Guards! How can you let them assault me like this?!" he cries with a hand stretched out towards the nearby Lesandrian guards going about cleaning up the room and removing the dead and injured. Nox squeezes just a little tighter and growls out, "Answer the questions or things will get quite uncomfortable for you…"
The diplomat squeals louder, three of the Lesandrian guards stop what they were doing and approach, one points at Nox, "Hey! Put him down and let us get him into a holding cell, we don't need any more blood spilled this day."
Lel: "Perhaps we should take him to the temple. I interrogated Klar using a technique I was shown there. There is a ritual which will make it harder for him to lie to us."
Nox: "But breaking bones can be so much more delightful," giving the evil eye to the dwarf. I grab the dwarf's hand and crush it. "Next time the injury won't be as easily fixed by the clerics, I suggest you start answering our questions."
"AUGH!" the dwarf lets out a gutteral cry as he hangs by his arm from the hobgoblin's grasp. "I already told you! I'm a diplomat from Tarturia! What more do you people want?" At the same time the three Lesandrian guards surround Nox and the diplomat, the one who spoke before addresses Nox, "If you do not put him down and cease this assault, Goblin, we will be forced to arrest you. Be sure that we will not hesitate to cart you back to the city to stew in the Lesandrian prison; I assure you it is far worse than anything you've seen around these parts."
The dwarf continues to whine and whimper in Nox's grip. Nox: "Don't lie to me dwarf, who are you working for? As pointed out before you are an imposter in their midst."
Lel addresses the guards: "Let us handle this. Where were you while those you were sworn to protect were threatened? We will take him to the temple. You may each send a representative to observe and assist in the questioning."
Whispered to Nox, "We will find more with more information. Patience."
Istarya shakes his head and steps forth. "My friends here get a bit grouchy when impostor diplomats let Genasi attack an important delegation. If you notice there are several of these diplomats not in the proper fashion for their station," Istarya pauses to make a motion on his chin indicating a beard, "and that leads us to believe that these are the ones responsible. Though this appears to have been the only one to, umm, survive the carnage, so getting information out of him as soon as possible is vital in case there is another attack."
Squeezing a little harder on the dwarf's throat. "Today is your lucky day and a sad day for me, as you get to live for now and in one piece." releasing his grip and dropping the dwarf to the ground. Nox turns and walks away pushing the guards to the side to stand next to the rest of the group. "Lel he is yours for now. But rest assured if your methods does not work I will break him, hobgoblins have their ways as well."
The guards brush off the comments and allow you guys to peacefully take the dwarf into custody. You may take him to the town Temple or wherever you like, but both the Tarturian and Sartean diplomatic parties request a member to be present during the questioning as Lel offered. The dwarf seems happy to be out of Nox's grasp but generally quiet and downtrodden.
We will take him to the temple. Ask for their help in casting a ritual of truth or whatever that thing is I paid for before. We may also want to bring Maxentius, Lester (secretly), and Paelias in to observe and provide any insight they may have. Perhaps those sneaky tricksy elves. Whoever has the highest insight/diplomacy should probably use the actual ritual (probably Istarya). Then we can question him and know when he is lying. I will point out (outside of the prisoner's ability to hear us) that this will only work as long as he talks. If he stops talking then the ritual is useless so we must keep him talking.
List of questions to ask, please add more questions to the list, I'm purposely leaving it empty to let people add stuff:
1. What does the box do?
2. Who do you work for?
3. Who you really work for?
4. No seriously, who do oyu work for before Nox chews your dangly bits off?
5. Who are your contacts? (Nox)
6. How are you reaching your contacts? (Nox)
Father Jaelin provides you with an isolated back room to place the Impostor Diplomat in, it is actually an ancient interrogation chamber that looks as if it hasn't been widely used for well over 50 years. (think like those surgery observation rooms, but mostly stone and medieval with wooden seats) The lighting is such that a large group can observe the lower area's events without being seen by the people in that lower area.
Lel – The same as before you may purchase a scroll with the Discern Lies ritual for 300gp, it allows the user to add their religion check result (as in the d20 + religion = bonus to insight). Conversely, you may donate money to the church and Father Jaelin will perform the ritual for you at a cost of 140gp, but he uses the ritual on himself adding to his insight checks (and thus will need to be present during the interrogation). – all of this assuming someone in the party doesn't know the Discern Lies ritual, which I don't believe anyone does. Discern Lies takes 10 minutes to cast and lasts for 5 minutes (the scroll takes less time to cast I believe).
Maxentius would rather stay with his son in the guarded safety of their house, and I actually don't remember where you guys left Lester, do you? :) Did the Elves and Paelias take him? Paelias is happy to assist though he does seem to think there are more pressing matters at hand in Portalis, and the Rusva'elen (ie – "tricksy elves"?) could care less what you do with the diplomat and agree with Paelias about pressing matters.
Nox wants to know what they think is more important then finding out who attempted to sabotage the peace meetings and abduct ambassadors? Paelias speaks in a polite but firm tone, "Perhaps the threats to this town's tower and Etherium, which puts thousands of lives at risk versus the lives of a few diplomats, as well as the concurrent threats to several other towns in the world and their Etherium? I'm afraid our elven friends here are of the same mind as I am." One of the dark-leather clad elves adds softly, "...not that we'd care about these petty wars even without the other matters."
Nox: "Im sure that the lives of those that live in the lands that have been fought over don't consider this a petty act by any means." The elven ranger who was present when Lel, Rex, and Istarya fought the vine horror in the Portalis well, and at the temple beneath Portalis afterwards, named ilsindarel speaks up, "Goblin, I believe your name was Nox? Your kind are familiar with all kinds of war in everday life for territory and leadership, while it may appear these humans war over land you should not be surprised to find that there is always greed and lust fueling their actions.
Akkadia specifically is a blasted lands, warred over by these two nations for centuries, the only humans living there are agents of the war itself, and any beasts or innocents have the Rusva'elen of Akkadian lands to watch over them."
Nox: "Maybe this area, Akkadia, deserves some more investigation to see why it's so valuable to these warring people then." Nox is really only concerned about who he really works for. maybe who his contacts are and how we can get in touch with them. Nox uses the discern lie ritual called big axe. Istarya: I'll cast the ritual, I'll just hope to get reimbursed by other party members (or cast sleep on them and take it)
Istarya uses the Discern Lies ritual. Insight results will be written in <>
In the bright light of many lanterns, the dwarf sits in a solitary chair at the center of the stone floor.
What does the box do?
"It's just an ordinary wooden box, particularly thick to contain that rock and the light it produces. I had not idea what was going to happen when we opened it!" <he is mostly telling the truth>
Where did you get the rock?
"It was left for us at one of the drop locations, with instructions to bring it to the meeting, hide it, and open the top. Clearly I didn't know what was going to happen or I would have excused myself from the room!" <truth>
Who do you work for?
"I'm a diplomat from Tarturia!" <lie>
Who do you really work for?
"Tarturia, I've told you a hundred times!" <another lie!>
No seriously, who do you work for before Nox chews your dangly bits off?
"Okay! Okay, no need for the gnashing of me dangly bits! I'm part of a covert infiltration group sent by Sarta to gather information on the Tarturian plans and to find out why they've increased their patrols into Akkadia. We joined their diplomatic envoy in hopes of finding out more information, swaying the results of the meetings, and rescuing the prisoner they have captive." <not entirely the truth>
Reminder: the clothing they are wearing beneath their incorrect Tarturian garb appears to be from Sarta
That is foolish, you may be a part of some covert infiltration group but probably not Sarta. It would make no sense to wear evidence of your treachery. It also makes no sense to endanger both sets of diplomats. Who do you really work for?
DM Note: You guys, especially Teodora and Istarya, can recognize the clothing they are wearing and their mannerisms as being from Sarta because you are adventurers and much more knowledgeable than the average person. Any other person in Portalis would most likely not be able to determine a nation of origin. So them wearing it is not a dead giveaway and is not as stupid for espionage.
"I didn't know what was going to happen when we opened the box!" <he's telling the truth but he's also quite nervous>
Who are your contacts?
"We had hidden contacts within the Sartean diplomatic party, but there was never face-to-face meeting and they are instructed to deny our very existence…" <here be lies>
Do you have hidden contacts within the Sartean diplomatic party?
"I just told you I did! They will deny it up and down, in fact some of them probably don't even know about us at all to protect us and the other diplomats!" <true>
How are you reaching your contacts?
"We had a series of drop locations around the administrative building in Portalis…" <more lies>
Lel: We get some Pelor radiance to shine in the dwarf's face.
Nox: How exactly did you make connections with your contacts? and where again? I must have missed that part while I was thinking of crushing your skull.
"A series of drops are located throughout the building where the meetings were being held, and some outside around the town. I doubt anything will be in any of the drops, they may even be unmarked by now, since the meeting was attacked and they must know I've been taken captive." <some truth, some lies, seems like mostly lies or he's just very nervous at this point>
Teodora: Stepping out from the background with a slight look of shame on her face, Teodora approaches the diplomat.
"If you don't mind, sir, I have a few questions of my own. I'm rather curious as to your opinion of the countries present for this meeting. I myself hail from the greatest Sartean province of Pelos! Indeed, I live and breathe for the League. Are you, as a Tarturian, for or against peace between our two nations? And what is your opinion on the land that divides us?"
Teodora realizes that she was a bit further behind on the conversation than she thought, and speaks again. "Alright, clearly I was being more subtle than I needed to be. How dare you, sir! How dare you cast such a dark mark on the League? I am not a woman who cares to understand government, but so help me, if there is corruption afoot…"
"Perhaps you should take that up with your leaders in Sarta, and rest assured there is far more corruption spreading across these lands than any of you know!" <he REALLY believes this part, ie – true>
Nox: "Was sarta behind leading the hobgoblin nations astray as well?"
"As far as I know Sarta has little or nothing to do with you hobgoblins. What led you astray is most likely your own warring nature!" <true, or at least he believes what he's saying>
Nox: Oh I also want to find out if he was ever given a name for his contact.
He does not seem to know who specifically his contacts were within the diplomats. <true>
"are all of these drop boxes here in portalis dwarf? Cleric bring me a map or some paper and quil please. Guess what dwarve you get to display your skills, where are all of these drop box locations." Father Jaelin fetches the hobgoblin some parchment, a quill, and some ink rather hastily. The dwarf circles two locations near the center of Portalis.
"These are the only two I ever knew about or used, I swear!" <truth>
"are these all there are?"
"I know that there were more, but I don't know where they are." <he's lying, there weren't any other drops>
"are these locations correct?"
"Yes, they should be there assuming they haven't been removed by now." <true>
'''"What did you say the name of your contacts were again?"'''
"I didn't!" <true>
Fargrim: Since it seems we all have forgotten about McGwyver's sister… "what is your/your group's interest in saving the prisoner?"
"Obviously Sarta doesn't want to be responsible for the imprisonment or death of any individuals that are not directly involved in hostilities." <seems true, but he doesn't act sure of it>
"Is/was she working for Sarta?"
"To the best of my knowledge, which is not first hand because I have not been in Sarta for a long time." <true>
"They sent her to discover information relating to Akkadia, something about the diversion of the rivers…" <true>
"Is she a spy?"
"I believe that is what you would call her, but she was not working inside of Tarturia, she was working in Lesandria mostly from what I know." <true>
"What do you plan on doing with her once she is rescued?"
"I'm not privy to this kind of information, my friend, but I imagine returning her to a safe place in either Lesandria or Sarta itself."
"Fargrim, fellow dwarf, I am sorry if I decieved you but surely you are no rigid national of Tarturia yourself! Did we not gamble at Tarturian Grimlock many nights on our flight to this town? Perhaps we can continue these questions over some ale at the pub?" <some lies, then some truth, then some lies again>
Nox: Who's McGwyver?
Fargrim: He's a stunty.
Lel: Who are your contacts within the Sartean party? Give us names or this will begin to be painful. If you don't know their names, describe them to us. Don't lie, we will know…
Lel leans forward to whisper threats in the dwarf's ear but instead says "If he is in this room, blink twice".
The dwarf looks uncomfortable for a minute, yammering about not knowing or having never met them while he looks about the poorly lit upper seating area. He seems to be lying. Then he blinks twice in a subtle way towards Lel.
Lel turns away and says "We must seize his belongings"
Lel beckons a Portalis guard over, "Can you search his quarters?" Quietly to the guard "Bring the Captain of the guard here quickly…"
The guard acknowledges and briskly hurries out of the temple. Wandering about Lel spreads the information to the rest of the party while the questioning continues.
"What does Sarta stand to gain by disrupting these diplomatic missions? Why make such a strange attempt in such a public way?"
"As I said before, I did not know what was going to happen at that meeting. Something must have gone wrong, or someone betrayed us, because that was not how things were supposed to go. We were supposed to get the dipl…err, I mean the prisoner out of there safely and…umm, make it look like it was an outside job." <He's telling the truth for the first parts, then he clearly gets hesitant, thinks more about his words, and is telling more lies>
Teodora: "I still cannot believe your ease with this betrayal. Tell me, where were you born? Which community failed to instill the values that most from the League receive simply by breathing?"
"Not all Sarteans are raised under the strict and pure guidance of the church like yourself, Human. Even the Emporer himself knows what has to be done some times in efforts of war and subterfuge. I am Voral of Hilland in the province of Iounia, that is where I was born and raised. <true, except for the 'born and raised' part and he is unable to accurately speak for the Emporer>
Lel: Does the name Modra mean anything to you?
A confused look quickly flashes across the dwarf's face, and he seems to ponder something, "The name sounds familiar, but I don't remember who or where from. Is this Modra person from Sarta?" <part of this is a lie, and its not the part about the name sounding familiar>
Teodora: "What is your opinion on the region of Akkadia?" ...