Dawn arrives and the warm Huntianmonan sun touches the travel tower, again shining light on the carnage from the day before. All rested, Skuli, Milos, Mysti, and Cold Hands head out to return to Aslov, as Skuli has news he must bring to Argius ap-Argius. Bayleaf decided to remain at the travel tower to await his comrades’ return. The road today is quiet and peaceful – a nice change from yesterday – and they make good time (despite Milos’ complaints) thanks to the horse-drawn wagon. Just before mid-day, they reached the West gate of Aslov.
While they wait to enter the city gates, the group collects their toll: 24 silver scields. Skuli covers Cold Hands’ share, as he is sciedless at the moment. Through the gates, they drive up the crowded and filthy streets until they reach The High Hearth Inn on the north side of the Old City, where they are meeting Argius.
The High Hearth Inn is not the nicest inn in the Old City, but it’s proximity to the High Quarter helps keep a constant flow of patrons. Skuli leads the others to an empty table, drops a few silvers and waves the barmaid over while instructing the others to have a drink and wait while he fetches Argius. The two return a few minutes later, just as the drinks arrive.
Argius addresses the group as he pulls out a small purse to hand to each of them:
"Skuli tells me that you were all a great help to him on the road yesterday, and saved his life. I thank you for your assistance, and for your discretion with these rumors. Orcs and bandits are bad enough; we don’t want people to know these creatures have been seen so near the city. Why don’t you tell me what you saw?"
After explaining the previous day’s events, Cold Hands asks if there is any other work Argius might have for them.
"Yes, there is one task I’d like you to do for me, though it is rather menial. I’d like you to head into the High Quarter to retrieve 6 amulets from my friend Rodgar, an alchemist. He has a shop near High Market. He should be expecting someone to pick them up, so just tell him that Argius ap-Argius sent you."
Just as Argius finishes speaking, a rough-looking Tuomi walks in and motions for Argius. Agrius excuses himself as he walks into the back room to speak with the man.
Since Rodgar‘s shop is near High Market, the party takes the opportunity to fist stop at the crowded square to sell the Orcish weapons they acquired the day before. Orcish goods aren’t looked upon fondly in Aslov; the populace sees Orcs as an enemy of all civilized people. Despite this (and the fact that these weapons were crudely made), Mysti was able to find a merchant interested in buying the lot.
Next, the group locates Rodgar‘s shop – a small, windowless building near High Market with only a small sign above the door, reading "Alchemist’s." As they approach through the crowd, a cloaked figure walks into the shop ahead of them.
Cold Hands enters the shop while Mysti ties her wolf outside the door, and witnesses the figure holding an Engro up by the neck! More concerning, however, was that he could see what looked like the Engro’s very life being pulled out of him, flowing toward the figure… Cold Hands calls out to him. The figure turns, revealing his face – a dark-skinned Taiga Elf. He immediately drops the Engro and runs out the back door, but Cold Hands gives chase. Milos Apferas joins him while Mysti Sno takes a moment to check on the Engro, who seems to be dead.
The elf flees through the narrow and twisting alleyways of the Old City, but does not get far before Cold Hands stops him with a hoard of bunnies. As soon as the group catches up to him, Milos holds his sword to the elf’s neck, quietly commanding him to stop resisting. There, in the alley, they attempt to interrogate him (while Mysti pilfers his pockets); Cold Hands demands an explanation both of the magic he witnessed, and what he was doing with (presumably) Rodgar. After many threats, the elf concedes that he would be happy to answer their questions if they dismiss this rabbit-horde and remove their swords from his throat.
From down the alley, a woman calls out to them, asking what they are doing to that elf. It is known that area-effect spells and drawn weapons are legally punishable, so the group felt it was best to head quickly back to Rodgar’s shop. Once there, they have a calm moment to speak to the elf, who identifies himself as Shadoweaver and politely asks for their names as well.
After the brief introductions, he explains what he was doing with Rodgar:
"I had a few things I needed to discuss with Rodgar, and our conversation quickly turned… south. Yes, I did use life-draining magic on him, but he is only partially dead. He can be revived, but not by you."
Calmly, he retrieves a small, glowing, amulet from around his neck and shows it to the group.
"Rodgar’s life-force is held within this amulet."
Before the others are able to really to process this information, Shadoweaver clutches his amulet tightly, smiles, and disappears! Reacting quickly, Cold Hands tries to locate the elf, believing that he had just turned invisible. However, through his attempts he does not believe the elf remains here.
With Shadoweaver gone, Mysti Sno does her best to revive Rodgar, but her Healing Songs seem to have no effect, at first. However, Rodgar opens his eyes, which look unnaturally empty, and grabs and starts attacking her! Cold Hands, no longer interested in taking prisoners, jabs at Rodgar with is antler staff. Milos Apferas pulls Mysti Sno out of "Rodgar’s" clutches while Cold Hands continues his attack.
With Rodgar dead again, Cold Hands, Milos, and Mysti decide that they should inform Argius ap-Argius of his’s fate. They spend a few moments searching the shop and find a small sack with 6 amulets in it, assuming that they are Argius’. Mysti volunteers to watch the shop while Milos and Cold Hands deliver the amulets and the news of Rodgar to Argius ap-Argius.
Milos and Cold Hands head back to The High Hearth Inn to meet with Argius ap-Argius, who is saddened to hear of Rodgar’s fate. When told the details, he requests that they take him there to see for himself.
Mysti Sno takes the opportunity to relive the shop of a few items, since Rodgar won’t be selling them anymore. However, while she is browsing, there is a knock at the back door as a voice identifies itself as an officer of the guard! Her first reaction is to remain silent and hide, but Aerow does not take kindly to the mystery-noise and approaches the door growling and snarling. Her first plan possibly ruined, she calls out to respond “Just a minute!” while she does her best to hide Rodgar’s body. Unable to do too much with him with only one arm, the pressure is on; she realizes that her silver tongue will have to keep the guards out of the main room. She answers the knock at the back door, asking if she can help them. The guards request that she answer a few questions, and ask that they do so inside. While this is not ideal, she feels she should cooperate with them as much as possible.
Thankfully, they came to the back door, which enters into the back room. She invites them to sit and talk at the table there, well out of view of the counter in the front. They ask her if this is her shop and of her relation to Rodgar. She tells them that she is a friend of Rodgar’s, and that he saved her life when she lost her arm. Further, Rodgar is contagiously ill and resting upstairs; she is running his shop until he recovers. They later ask her about her involvement in a fight in the allies, as a woman identified her as one of the assailants. To this, she explains that the culprit robbed the shop, so they gave chase, caught him, but he later escaped. While some of her story is obviously embellished, they buy enough of it and bid her good-day, but also request that she stays in town and in touch as they may need to speak to her again.
As soon as the guards leave, Milos, Cold Hands, and Argius knock at the front door to be let in. Relieved it’s just them, Mysti lets them in and bars the door behind them. Argius examines his friend and explains more to them:
"Rodgar’s lifeforce was taken by this Shadoweaver; we have long been familiar with such magic. However, we are not aware of magic that can pull a man’s life-force from him while he is alive… we have only known it to be possible upon death. I thank you again for your good work and discretion. These amulets are for each of you, as well as these coinpurses. These amulets are both a symbol of membership of the Caeruleum Vigilum, and powerful devices of protection. They produce a magical aura around you, and will draw in life-force as it escapes a being. The life-forces will be contained within the steatite pendant, and have many boons. Hold the amulet tightly, and you can command the power contained within to draw you back to your home, just as the common Sanctuary magics do. Further, the power can help protect you from death!
"We have long strived to return life-force obtained within the steatite amulets to its body, but have been unsuccessful so far. If Shadoweaver has told you he can revive him, then perhaps it is possible. We will transport Rodgar‘s body to a safe place, and hopefully protect it for now. I want you to track down this Shadoweaver and obtain his amulet. Rodgar’s life, if it has any chance of surviving, depends on it."