The Heroes began at the Red Mug Inn in the tiny village of Hargrove Ferry. After learning they would likely not find a ship to take them north to Allibar, they decided they would need horses to make the trip overland.
While at the inn, Max won money playing dice with some local fishermen, while Simon talked to the innkeeper about securing horses and supplies. Kairne retired to his room early, while Anton flirted with the innkeeper’s daughter and tried some of the recommended house ale.
The Journey to Allibar
The Heroes traveled by horse to Allibar, the seat of the capital. The trip only took a few days, and they easily dispatched a group of gnolls that ambushed them, led by a larger gnoll who seemed to have demonic features.
Despite being small for a full-fledged city, Allibar is the largest settlement the Heroes have ever seen. The city, which dated back to the Old Empire, has tall stone walls with old, square towers. A castle can be seen arising above the walls from its perch atop a hill. The city has narrow roads and lanes with most of the houses built of stone, and many of the streets being cobbled.
Allibar is heavily fortified, with catapults and ballistae perched throughout the city and its walls. It has a decent sized guard presence and is well policed. The dockyard, though not very vast, is one of the larger on the Inner Sea, and receives trade from Ruidea, as well as from the wealthier lands of the south.
The Heroes hurriedly rode through the city directly to the castle to see the duke.
The Heroes announced their presence to a steward and awaited their chance to court to see the duke. The inclusion of Deirdre, recognized as the daughter of Baron Strath, helped them seek a quicker audience.
Duke Ian Kaydrin was tall, muscular, and imposing. He had green eyes, long brown hair, and wore a breastplate and sheathed longsword along with his crown, a silver circlet set with a large sapphire. He had a scar on his chin and was wearing quality but practical trousers, boots, and doublet.
The Heroes immediately noticed Magistrate Corienne had somehow beaten them to Allibar, and was present in the court, in clean finery. After the characters were introduced, the wily magistrate informed the duke these were the heroes of Strathaven who braved the baron’s keep and the walking dead to rescue the baron.
Deirdre cleared her throat and stated the heroes had rescured her as well. When the duke asked who she was, Deirdre lifted her chin and proudly claimed she was the daughter of Baron Strath.
" Adopted daughter," Corienne gently chided.
The duke asked the Heroes to recant their tale and they informed him of their fight in Strathall Keep, their discovery of the duke in possession of a strange and evil sword, and their rescue of him, Sir Malkar, and Deirdre, leaving nothing out. They spoke of their desire to inform the duke that the barony needed an able ruler, which was why they came to Allibar in order to warn him.
Corienne then responded that the Baron should be investigated for possibly murdering his subjects; and warned that Deirdre is not of his bloodline and has no experience in ruling; He added that Magister Elisedd is not related to the baron, left the baron’s court on icy terms, and was eccentric;, and Dame Alana had ties to Astoria. The duke’s jaw will clench when he hears Astoria mentioned.
Regarding the baron’s illegitimate son, Corienne claimed he was intentionally sent away to Ruidea for school but instead betrayed his people by going to Calidar.
The duke shook his head and proclaimed this whole Strath affair sounded like a mess. He ordered that Corienne should become the regent of the barony and investigate claims of ascendancy and bring order in the meantime. He told the Heroes they were to back the magistrate and obey his directives. The duke then thanked them all for their service and said his steward shall see that they were compensated for their valor and have proper lodging while in the city. The audience was obviously ended.
The Heroes turned to leave, whereupon Deirdre shouted, “Your Grace!” As the entire court turned to her, she said, “I am the daughter of Baron Strath. He took me in, raised me as his own, and showed me much of what it takes to rule.” The duke leaned forward and partly disguised his bemusement. “Is that so? Tell me, what do I stand to gain placing an inexperienced girl in charge of my lands?”
Amarelle quickly and confidently responded. “One who will carry on Baron Strath’s legacy, and will increase your tithe twicefold.” There were gasps in the court, and even the duke seemed taken aback; however, Corienne chuckled politely. The Duke asked with a smirk, “how do you intend to do that, girl?”
“I will bring order to my land, re-open the mines of Avonhill, draw additional shipping by sending emissaries to Brellin offering iron, wool, and peat, which will also draw them closer to us in the event Calidar troubles us.”
The court was silent. After a moment, the Duke shrugged and said “these are words but not deeds. How would a woman, nay a girl, accomplish such feats? You are not Baron Strath, who won campaigns against the Astorians and other fell beasts.”
Deirdre stared at the Duke. “I will invoke the Trial of Ascension by Arms if needed to verify my worth.”
The court broke in commotion, before the Duke raised a hand to silence them. “You? You will take up arms in trial?”
“I may not be strong, yet I will emerge the victor in a trial of steel, fire, and wit.”
The duke leaned back on his throne. “I remain unconvinced, yet I loathe to deny a privilege of our ancestors. So be it. Magistrate, if you find a lawful candidate with claim to Strath, bring him forth to face this girl, though I despair to think of the waste this contest shall be, knowing of other uses I can find for her….mind.”
Corienne thought for a moment, a frown apparent on his face. “Your Grace, is my own claim considered strong enough to challenge? I have faithfully served as the representative to your interests there. I could continue to do so as baron, with you comfortable in the knowledge of both my loyalty and my stewardship.”
The Duke laughed. "Your argument is compelling, except for one matter. Will the people follow you, a man of no martial prowess?” Before Corienne can respond, the Duke turned to the PCs. Where are my heroes of Strath? What do you think of your choices thus far, a criminal, a girl, or a magistrate?”
Simon said he would follow Deirdre and vouched for her level head in battle. Kairne, on the other hand, said she was flighty in battle.
The duke responded, "I have made my decision. Let our fine magistrate and brave girl fight for what they seek. The winner will win the recognition they need.”
Deirdre clenched her jaw with resolve, while Corienne seemed to redden with anger and embarrassment. “I presume we can call upon a champion in our stead, as our rites have allowed in the event we are not fit, to, or are presumed too valuable, to fight?”
The Duke laughed. “Does this girl frighten you?”
“No Your Grace. But she places me in an unenviable position. I cannot win, because even if I emerge a victor, I shall be seen as a child slayer. I see the use of champions as the only logical solution.”
The Duke looked disappointed. “Fine. You have even found a way to bore me of this affair.”
Simon then interjected and said it would do no good for a potential ruler to fall to the use of a champion to fight in their stead. He proposed that the potential rulers must fight with their champions. The duke said this idea had merit and said the heroes shall champion Deirdre, if they wish, and that Corienne should find four to fight at his side.
“Your Grace, I will require two weeks to have my champions drawn forth.”
Simon interjected that was too long of a period of time to wait, and that the trial should be held in one to two days, but Corienne replied that he needed time to bring his champions from Strath and that the duke would be well served to send word to his subjects and create a festival of it. The duke replied this was an idea with merit.
Simon then said the magistrate should have to announce who his champions would be now. Corienne clearly looked unhappy, but after a minute of thought, he claimed his champions would be Dame Alana, and three the group had never heard of.
With the use of the Knowledge/Local skill, the heroes determine that Sir Belkor was a squire in service to the Hornblade family, which was dishonored by Sir Noland’s disgrace. The other two, a male and female, were former pupils of Elisedd’s who misused their magic to manipulate others and were dismissed from Elisedd’s service.