Pharast 3rd, 4715
The Founders stand a mile outside of Fort Drelev, planning their approach into the town. After taking some time to finish identifying the last of their unknown items found in a prior battle, the party decides to keep with the guise of being merchants.
In a field near the west gate, they find carrion birds eating a dead peasant, apparantly struck down by arrows after running from the town. Disconcerted, the party presses forward.
As they approach the gate, they are challenged by the guards. Alex bluffs the guards into beliving he is a merchant called Phillipe, part of a caravan who have run across hard times, many of their goods lost to a monster attack. Gregor and Eiji pose as guards, while Louis offers up his ability to make potions and concoctions. Louis also tries to charm the guard, with no luck.
Amused but skeptical, the guards eventually let them in after a 60 gold bribe, and inform them of the curfew that runs from an hour before dark to an hour after dawn.
As they enter, the party encounters a few peculiar sights. They find an abandoned shrine to the river god Hanspur. Also, they encounter a few women cleaning out the outside of the closed gambling hall. The group attempts to speak to them, but they seem afraid to speak with strangers and will not engage them in conversations.
As this happens, a group of guards pass down the street, and pull a man from his home, kicking and screaming. One of the gambling hall girls looks upset at this, but still will not speak when pressed.
The party carefully follows the guards, findng them meeting up with another group, 4 normally dressed guards and 1 in a long, authoritarion-looking blue coat. The blue coated man uses Prestidigitation to augment his voice, loudly declaring the citizen to be guilty of sedition before he is beaten bloody and dragged off to the dungeons. Several of the party narrowly avoid jumping in at this event, but realize they need to keep quiet and understand the situation.
They continue north, finding a smithy, stable, and an unfinished Temple of Erastil, where a woman with a halberd is sitting. The party splits temporarily, Gregor and Eiji moving to speak with the smithy, while Abaddos, Alex and Louis approach the woman. Abaddos starts to introduce the group as the woman recognizes Louis, and they react with some hostility to each other. The woman suggests the move out of the street to speak more privately. Meanwhile, Gregor and Eiji enter the smithy. They see that the smith has been quite busy crafting weapons and he pauses his work as the two enter the yard. The man is reluctant to talk, and eventually asks them brusquely to leave. Eiji notes the man seems to be behaving in a manner that suggests he is very scared and under a lot of stress.
The group is introuduced to Cassandra, a cleric of Desna. The group starts to make plans to set up camp, and review what they’ve seen of the town. The unfinished temple is near the well fortified main keep. Over the course of the day, they’ve seen several groups of guards, usually in groups of 4, who swagger about, treating the residents with disdain and cruelty. Sometimes the groups of guards are accompanied by more of the blue-coated men, armed with scimitars. Although these men do not treat the citizens of the town with the blatant cruelty characteristic of the mercenary, they do regard everyone with suspicion.
Around noon, the party moves out once again. As they continue to investigate the area, a group of guards starts to harass them. Abaddos attemps to charm the lead guards, but fails, causing him to become more suspicious before Cassandra intervenes and convinces the guard to walk away. The investigation also turns up a large, giant-sized, booted foot print leading out of the keep.
Near the docks, the party finds a shop called Bellweather’s Soup and Kettle. Inside, many guards eat, seeming to strain the people of the shop. A few of the party go in for food. The guards eye them, but do nothing. The proprietress, Asaia Bellweather serves them, charging 1 gold for a small peice of goose and very watered cider. The group notices the guards do not seem to be paying for their food. As they eat, the party overheards some gossip from the guards. They hear talk of a Quintessa Maray, a foreign refugee noblewoman prettier than Lord Drelev’s wife, Pavetta Stroon-Drelev. Based on the nature of the local gossip, the baron is a little too intereseted in what “Lady” Quintessa has to offer than what is appropriate for a married man. Also, they speak of Lord Imeckus Stroon, Lady Pavetta-Stroon’s brother being in town with this Stosstrupen, who have been supporting Drelev after his surrender to Pitax and the Tiger Lords..
The rest of the group find an abandoned inn, but before they can look further, guards approach, so they rejoin the others as they are leaving the restaurant. They decide to check the other side of the city again. Alex finds and makes note of a bounty to kill a large Sabertoothed cat named Speartooth for an 8,000 gp reward. The group also remembers that Kasandra Newmesti recommended they speak with the proprietress of the gambling hall, Satinder Morne, but they need a long stemmed flower for the ring first.
The group decides to use the last hours of light to gather more information. They confirm that the blue coated men are the Stosstrupen, a kind of secret police trained and overseen by the baroness’s brother. The guards are a mix of Pitax bandits and mercs hired for muscle, and there’s talk of giants used to guard the town at night. The party also notes that the mercenaries and deployed more like prison guards than defenders.
Apparently before everything happened, Lord Drelev had been claiming the land and pushing the native barbarians back. This was going well until a new warlord, named Armag, took control and joined forces with the Pitax bandits to push back. Drelev was invaded by the combined forces of Pitax and the Tiger Lords and he quickly surrendered. Irovetti, the ruler of Pitax did not remain long, and Armag left soon after, taking several prominent women from Fort Drelev as hostage. Drelev is regaining some semblance of control, but cruelly, and this was the driving force behind him attacking Tatzlford a while back, to show his strength.
As dark nears, the group goes back to the temple to rest. As dark falls, they hear the portcullis open, and giants exit, talking to each other. Suddenly, they speak of horse smell, checking out the stables, seemingly able to smell the horses inside the temple. Abbados attemps to lead them astray with a silent image of a horse running away, but they are not fooled, and start to converge on the temple. Louis, in a sudden fit of either genius or madness, attempts to sneak out of the temple and lob a bomb as a distraction at the stables across the street. While this provides some of a distraction, the giants see him as he reduces himself in size, casts expeditious retreat, and starts leading them on a wild chase through Ft. Drelev as the rest of the party has to figure out their next steps.