Just the Tip

Episode 15

Cross City Race (FINALLY?!)

The day before the race begins with the team squabbling over what to do with the treasure they have just ‘acquired’ from Grifnar. Carting it away in a hand wagon, they decide selling it through official channels may get them caught. Grok suggests fencing it, but then the group determines it might be more valuable to hold on to.

Discussions are had about the race. Who are the racers and what does the group know about them? Beltumal having kept logs and records of the Tip’s previous findings has many suggestions about where to probe. He recommends speaking to Aldanian who won the race previously. From him the group learns of his route through the Market Green as well as some information about the racer Dorian Light-Step.

The group hatches a plan to engage the racers, as well as the adventuring group ]], who won previous races and has returned to town. Bel and Thron both turn to Grok, and propose a plan to viciously outdrink the other racers in a Tavern the evening before the race, more specifically Tom Burgher, Two-Teeth and the halfling Gazunda. They then discuss potentially sabotaging the racers by luring them all to the same place before the race, in order to either poison or otherwise incapacitate them, or even ally with the various racers. Grok suggests putting some of the new equipment up for a prize in a drinking contest at a local tavern to draw competitors and spectators alike, although the group does not commit to promoting a pre-race party just yet. Beltumal also shares his interest in befriending Dorian Light-Step, as Bel believes both his background and fluency in Elven will liken them to one another. Ky is then also solicited by the group the work a feminine angle against Dorian, and an effort to lure him to a Tavern. Reluctantly she agrees, insulted by the role befalling her as the only female Tip member, and makes her anger known.

Bel and Ky both become interested in the possibility of sewer systems providing an advantage in the race, a point which goes relatively unnoticed by the rest of the Tip. Bel also suggests other potential strategies to find advantages in the race, such as the falls and the stables.

Grok and Daemon, being most familiar with the workings of a large city, set out to investigate. Grok investigates any pre-race celebrations taking place that evening as well as the location of the most popular taverns in Fallcrest, while Daemon sets out to determine the location of the other adventuring group. Paul, seemingly uninterested in the nefarious schemes of the Tip, takes to praying in a shrine for most of the day, for the success of the Tip as well as for the sanctity of their souls. Thorn goes hunting in the woods at the base of Moonstone Keep, seeking alchemical products which could be used as poison or narcotics in order to sabotage other racers. Ky, Bel and Quinn stand vigil with the Tip’s questionable payload.

Grok returns with information that both Two Teeth and Gazunda will be celebrated by patrons at the Lucky Gnome Taphouse by the docks. He learns the location of all three Taverns, and finds out that one of the Taverns is not hosting any pre-race festivities and may serve as an opportunity for the Tip’s own party.

Daemon, having located the other adventuring group Tam’s Talons, immediately interrupts their festivities in the Tavern with furious prodding. The adventuring group isn’t moved by his forceful interrogation, nor his foreboding visage, and he exits the Tavern in a manical rage.

Thorn has located some mushrooms while in “woof” form, however is not able to discern their properties. He decides, as any sensible k-9 would, to ingest a mushroom, thus learning its properties. Knowledge of its properties explode out of both ends of Thorn, and in a painful, sulking pile, he drags himself to the temple where Paul is praying, frightening and confusing onlookers. Paul spends his afternoon tending to Thorn, holding his ears back, as appropriate.

Quinn, Bel and Ky are met by Grok and a muttering Daemon. Learning of Daemon’s attempt to question Tam’s Talons, Quinn ventures off with Daemon to attempt a “good cop” routine with the adventuring party, taking the hand wagon with them. Ky and (moreso) Beltumal, being interested in Dorian Light-Step, solicit Grok to track him down. Information on Dorian’s whereabouts are scarce, but Grok is able to pinpoint two possible locations, which are later confirmed by other inquiries.

Quinn takes a much more diplomatic approach with the adventuring group, attempting to discern their true intentions in town as well as why they have not signed up for the race this year, while Daemon peers into the Tavern through a window, relentless in his maddened gaze. Learning that Quinn is associated with the Tiefling from earlier, the adventuring group is both amused and understanding. It is the female wizard that speaks up, seemingly much more relaxed than her image would indicate. She informs Quinn that it is truely not the race that has the group’s interest, and that if he is interested in a small piece of the action, to speak to Sir Oakley about some tasks. He also learns that they have lost interest in the prize for the race, as the jobs granted by the Lord Warden are much more tedious than an adventuring group of their stature would tolerate. Finally, Quinn offers magical weaponry from the Tip’s recent venture in exchange for any help the adventuring group might provide the Tip during the race. Seemingly both tired of the solicitation as well as understanding of the Tip’s predicament, the adventuring group shares with Quinn that the route they took in previous years was through the Tombwood in front of Moonstone keep, which leads to an old set of tombs that connect into to the castle. They also inform Quinn that the forest must be cleared prior to entering, as the monsters lurking inside are dangerous and threaten success in the race, but to do so takes weeks. Again Quinn solicits them for aid in clearing out the forest over night, but the price proves to be too high. Quinn thanks the group, and cannot shake the feeling that this group is slightly more awesome than the Tip.

Meanwhile, Grok, Ky and Bel have made their way to the first, then second location indicated by Grok’s research. The second location happens to be a shop of unconventional and rare goods, All That Glitters. Grok waits out front with Bel, while Ky ventures in. She feins interest in the lavishly displayed and unrecognizable wares. The shopkeep is a woman, and wears nothing but tight black leathers and a bleak expression. Ky prods around the store, hoping to alert the shopkeep. She is successful as the shopkeep’s nerves about the strange customer bring her to within a whisper of Ky’s pointy ears. She introduces herself as Catseye and Ky proceeds to inquire about the goods, to be met only with reservations and objections from the shopkeep, who is not convinced that Ky is of their regular clientele. Ky persists, stating that her boyfriend is interested in such rare and questionable antiquities, and inquires about a particular item, forged before ages containing the black essence of the void itself. Ky insists that it is not of her boyfriend’s taste, and promptly asks if there are any men in the store able to assist her with her inquiries. It is then that the shopkeep roars to the back of the store, beckoning to Dorian. A very well groomed assured figure emerges from the back, and Ky immediately beings to prod. It is all too soon that she determines that no woman will have success with Dorian, and it is then that Beltumal comes swiftly to her aide. Dorian is immediately impressed by the brooding and stoic dragonborn. Stuttering, Dorian inquires if it is Bel that is the boyfriend in question, to which he learns that Bel is strictly a friend, ejecting Ky from the conversation altogether. The Dragonborn and Elf exchange a volley of restrained advances, and Beltumal is able to get Dorian to discuss the race. Dorian indicates to Bel that he is racing merely to represent his people, an unappreciated minority in Fallcrest. The Elves in the city will be assisting him the race, causing disruptions and clearing paths. Bel suggests an alliance with Dorian, but it is settled only that he will not interfere with the Tip’s efforts, and that perhaps his Elven friends would be able to assist. After a longing stare shared between Beltumal and Dorian, Bel and Ky exit.

Beltumal, Ky, Grok, Quinn and Daemon are again united, this time by Thorn and Paul as well. Daemon is asked to investigate Tom Burgher the Bard, and sets out. Thorn relinquishes his “magic” mushrooms to Grok, as they discuss plans to disrupt the celebration at the Lucky Gnome Taphouse. Grok, knowing of the rift between The Porters and the River Rats from his past associations, suggests framing the Porters with theft, as the River Rats will be present at the Celebration in support of their Halfling runner, Gazunda. The group decides it would be too tedious to infiltrate the River Rats, and that the best course of action would be to simply disable the two runners with the poisonous mushrooms. Grok then makes his way to Lucky Gnome Taphouse, agreeing to meet at the Tip’s party location later.

Daemon shadows Tom Burgher, and learns that he will be performing at the Nentir Inn, which is where the the Tip means to celebrate at that evening. The group then decides to head to the Inn and set up, forgetting entirely to promote the event at all, with little hope that any of the racers would partake in any case.

Grok enters the Lucky Gnome, and takes his seat at the bar. He is neither conspicuous or otherwise, attempting to blend in and make merry with the tavern patrons. He surveys the room in attempt to detect anyone who may be conducting their own investigations, but other than the usual riff raff, and a very large Orc (from Tam’s Talons, although Grok does not know this) he appears to be in the clear. With the appropriate fanfare, he approaches each racer with a drink, wishing them luck and talks trash about the coming race. He also approaches the giant half Orc with a drink, inquiring about his presence. After several hours of drinking, and waiting for the room to reach a comfortable level of merrymaking, Grok surveys the drink supply, and notices that the Porters are drinking a private reserve that is not being shared with the rest of the patrons. He then alters his plan, to target srictly the Porters, in an attempt to frame the River Rats and disrupt everyone in the Tavern. He begins his scheme by exiting the Tavern auspiciously, and carefully making his way around back to where the private reserve is being held. He attempts to sneak in through the door, but having given sway to the powers of the Tavern’s strongest Ales, comes crashing through the door, directly in front of the barkeep. Startled, the halfling barkeep interrogates Grok immediately, to which Grok replies drunkenly that he was simply seeking a drink, and handing the barkeep 3 gold coins demands a tankard of the Porters’ reserve, indicating his feelings of exclusion from such a finely crafted brew. The Barkeep is sympathetic to Grok, having his own personal misgivings about the Porters and the way that they treat him. Grok rises to the opportunity to sway the barkeep into participating in his plan, and pulling out an additional 2 gold coins, he puffs his chest, reaches for his blade and snarls at the halfling, pressing him further about his problem with the Porters. The halfling is unconvinced, with a patronizing expression, and Grok quickly feints as to appear drunk beyond rational thought, falling to the floor in an embarassing mess. The Tavern goes quiet for a brief moment, and then erupts into laughter. The Barkeep is finally satisfied that Grok is simply well beyond his means of tolerance, and watches as Grok crawls from behind the bar back into the tavern. The large half orc sitting by the door moves to Grok’s aid, pulling him to his feet, and walking him out of the Tavern. The Giant Orc confides in Grok that he was simply looking for a quiet place to relax, but that the bar has become anything but that, letting out a sigh. Grok inquires what business one of his people has with “peace and quiet”, to be met with a swift and solomn answer from the experienced adventurer. Sulking Grok paces to the other Tavern to meet the rest of the Tip.

Grok arrives, and Quinn and Daemon are exchanging volleys with Tom Burgher. Daemon, now interrogating Tom, has terrified him into submitting information about the group that Tom is racing for, apparently a group of Tieflings called the Fell Court, who are operating behind the scenes in the city, trying to consolidate power. Tom isn’t able to share much more than this, and the route that he plans to take. He indicates that this shadow group will be assisting him in the race somehow. Grok, brooding over his lack of success, buys Tom Burgher a drink and exists the Tavern, this time lagitimately drunk. The interrogation persists with Tom Burgher, but all information has been sapped from the timid bard. Grok is unsuccessful in any attempt to locate good belongings to either the River Rats or the Porters at the Quays, forgetting entirely the unlikeliness of any such cargo.

The Group then submits to resting in the Tavern. Paul tends to Daemon that evening, insuring that Daemon will neither rest, nor become infected with the lycanthropy he has contracted. Grok recovers naturally from his moon frenzy, and from the abundance of alchohol he has consumed.

Race Day:

The group wakes up before the crack of dawn and makes their way to the King’s Gate for the beginning of the race. It has been decided that Paul, Quinn, and Daemon will not race, instead positioning themselves around the city to help those racing in any way they can. A large crowd has gathered at the gate and Fallcrest Guard Captain Nathan Faringray is on had to start the race. With a shuddering crash, the gate drops and the race is off!

Grok and Beltumal decide to follow Gareth Cooper, who makes a run for the base of Septarch’s Tower. Quinn has positioned himself at the top of the cliff face ready to throw down a rope to them and help haul them up. Grok scrambles up the first 40ft of the cliff without issues, only to get a wave of nausea from his night of drinking. With his head spinning, Grok loses his handholds and falls. Seeing Grok fall past him, Beltumal attempts to switch from the rockface to the rope lowered by Quinn, but he too loses his grip and plummets to the ground. Both Grok and Beltumal are battered and bruised, but they both return to their climb.

Meanwhile, Ky and Thorn follow the pack of racers who chose the main road through town. The group hits an obstacle when they come across a cart stuck on the narrow bridge crossing Moonwash Stream. Ky acrobatically jumps up on the thin bridge railing and uses her balance to get around the cart, while Thorn attempts to scramble up over the boxes in the back of the cart, only to find them give way beneath his feet, and he comes tumbling to the ground. The racer Gazunda attempts to follow Ky’s lead and walk the rail, but he loses his footing and plunges into the stream below.

Ky is neck and neck with Tom Burgher and Dorian Light-Step, and all three attempt to cut through The Market Green. As they pass an Alchemist’s shop, there’s an explosion and billowing purple smoke covers the area. Each racer is hurt from breathing in the smoke, and scramble up onto tents or shacks to avoid the hazard. Ky finds herself ontop of a tent that collapses, but is able to navigate the smoke and get through it. Thorn, arriving a few seconds later decides to hold his breath and attempt to run through the smoke, only to be come disoriented. He, along with Tom Burgher and Dorian Lightstep, eventually make it to the other side, but Ky has gained a little time on all of them.

Back at the cliff, Gareth Cooper has reached the top and Quinn attempts to impede his progress, but as Gareth gets away he drops a bag full of marbles across the narrow bridge leading to Septarch’s Tower, and Quinn thinks better of pursuing him. Instead he turns his attention to Grok and Beltumal who are still climbing up the cliff. Grok is soon pulled to the top, but Beltumal is unable to hang on and again falls a considerable distance to the ground below. Bloodied and somewhat dazed, Beltumal decides that his best bet is to just take a leisurely walk to recover from the fall. Quinn and Grok leave their comrade to it and rush off in pursuit of Gareth Cooper.

Back with the other racers, Ky makes it to the Winch-Lift and attempts to talk the operator into leaving before the other racers arrive. Whatever she says works and the lift begins its ascent to the top of the cliff. Dorian Light-Step is able to catch up and with a flying leap grab on and pull himself into the moving lift. The rest of the racers are too late and attempt the Long Stairs, which are packed with onlookers. Thorn, Gazunda, and Tom Burgher find the steps unforgiving, with the constant jostling of the crowd often knocking them off their feet or slowing them down. Two-Teeth is being hauled up the wall by a group of Porters with a rope and he arrives at the top just before Ky in the Winch-Lift. He takes a route through the Upper Quays, and Paul attempts to slow him by throwing a back of coins into the crowd. This does hamper Two-Teeth, and coincidentally a safe being moved by crane into House Azaer comes crashing down when rope breaks, scattering even more gold. Two-Teeth, seeing the striken Amara Azaer comes to her aid and scares away the crowd snatching up the gold. Amara tells Two-Teeth to return after the race, as she will reward him for his help.

Grok arrives at another bridge crossing Moonwash Stream, this one crowded with halfling children fishing. Grok charges at the group, jumps into the air and starts running along the heads and shoulders of the startled children. Just when he thinks he’s across, Grok loses his footing and plunges down amongst the now furious children. Using their fishing poles as clubs, the halflings beat on Grok, while Halfling parents come running from nearby houses. Grok is able to get to his feet and flee, but the halflings are hot on his heels.

Meanwhile, Ky has arrived at the top of the cliff and both she and Dorian Lightstep set out through the Religious district. Ky finds the district mostly deserted, making for quick going, until she turns a corner and runs right into Dirina Mornbrow, who is trying to wrangle up patrons for the Temple of Erathis. Ky, a devout follower of Sehanine attempts to excuse herself politely, but is forced to push past the Priestess when she continues her sermonizing. As Ky rushes to catch up to Two-Teeth, she hears Dirina muttering a “prayer” to Erathis under her breath.

Daemon, who has made an attempt to clear the Tombwood, only to be attacked by Bloodweb spiders, instead begins looking for firewood he can use to block Gareth Cooper‘s path along the City Wall. His attempts are initially fruitless, but as Gareth comes into view along the wall, Daemon throws a last load of twigs and brush onto the pile and lights it with is Flame Wand. The fire isn’t huge, but is deters Gareth, you seeing Daemon for the first time, lets out a bellow and looks ready to attack. Yet flames and smoke have alerted the barracks, and out storms Sergeant Murgeddin, who takes one look at the situation, and immediately blames Gareth for starting the fire. He yells at the guardsman to go get water and extinguish the fire, delaying him from the race. As Daemon scurries off into the bushes, he’s pretty sure he sees Sergeant Murgeddin smiling.

Grok, having out run the halflings, comes upong Fallcrest Stables to find Lannar Thistleton struggling with a black garbed man attempting to mount a grey war horse. The man in black punches Lannar, knocking him to the ground, and then draws a long knife. Grok, sure that the man is a thief, throws a dagger of his own at the man, surprising him and turning his focus away from Lannar. Yet Grok ignores the man, runs and jumps onto the back of the horse and rides off towards Moonstone Keep. Quinn arrives only a moment later, sees Grok riding off, the man in black bleeding from a knife wound, and Lannar on the ground. Quickly deducing the situation, Quinn hollers at the thief to drop his knife, only to have the man advance towards him. Quinn, already frustrated by Grok’s decision to take the horse (and thus be disqualified from the race) rather than help Lannar, takes out all his anger on the thief, beating him senseless before tying him up and telling Lannar that he will return with the man’s horse.

Thorn, along with Tom Burgher, finally make it to the top of the Long Stair, feeling very much out of the race, regardless, they continue on. Beltumal, having just reached the Long Stairs base, finds that most of the crowd is moving on with the other racers, and the climb itself is much easier.

Ky, just behind Two-Teeth, makes it to the Warden’s Step, the final leg of the race before Moonstone Keep and the finish line. Yet despite a prayer from Paul to help her in the coming challenge, she feels drained and almost divinely burdened. She can hardly make it through the crowd lining the steps, feeling like every movement she makes is weighted by hundreds of pounds. She falls multiple times, and Two-Teeth’s lead lengthens. Dorian Light-Step catches up and passes Ky, as does Thorn, and then Grok.

Two-Teeth is first into the Great Hall which leads to where Faren Markelhay is waiting to receive the winner, yet as he rushes forwards, Gareth Cooper appears and throws another bag of marbles across the floor. Two-Teeth slips and falls, and it looks like Gareth will win. But from the stairs emerge Thorn and Grok, and knowing he is already disqualified, Grok decides to throw a dagger to trip up Gareth. His plan works, and Thorn surges into the lead. Yet a foot race to the finish between Thorn and Two-Teeth ensues, and it is only by the narrowest of margins that Thorn is able to handover his letter first. The crowd out side cheers as he is led outside by Lord Markelhay, and the new courier for Fallcrest is named!

(This is by no means a complete account of what happened, if you notice something I screwed up or something that I forgot to add, throw a mention in the comments, or write to me and I’ll fix it)

Comments

Holy crap, that was an epic game session! Can’t wait to read the second half.

Episode 15
Snaryl

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