Orian Branch

Tracking the Branch
The party tries to sort out some confusing clues.

What will they find in the room that housed the Orian Branch?

Actions

When the sage finished telling what was known, Grayson asked to see the room where the Branch had been kept. He, and the other emissaries, were allowed access, along with one member of their retinues. Upon examining the room, Grayson and Rayne found the following clues:
An axe mark in the door, showing a notch in the blade.
A charred area indicating an alchemical explosion.
A small cufflink with a halfling thieves’ guild emblem, in the very corner of the room.
An orcish totem skull dropped near the middle of the blast radius.
A Taboran soldier badge at the edge of the blast radius.

The emissaries from Tabor examined the badge and pronounced it a fake. The totem skull was declared to be genuine, but so common as to be no help in determining its owner. These were determined to have been placed rather than dropped.
Accusations flew from country to country among the representatives, but the pair got them quieted down a bit. and agreed to go hunting for a halfling thief who owned the cufflink. Each of the other Osteran emissary groups agreed to investigate one or more of the other clues.
To help with the investigation, the sages gave the party a description of the Branch and agreed to train the party further, and after a week of training, they set out to begin their investigation.
Since the nearest cities along the coast were mainly halfling cities, and as the halflings had no nation of their own in Oria, the party headed back toward Berit. They reached Jocasta on the 19th of Aprilis and learned there that a halfling had staggered into town and died at one of the temples.
Investigating, the party went to the temple and examined the body. They found a tiny nick in his back, near the center of a huge dark blotch.
Some of the clerics said the halfling had babbled incoherently before he died, saying only a few words clearly: Something like Brigade, something like Betrayal, and something like Branch.
Examining his clothing, they found a matching cufflink.
The clerics agreed to release the body, wrapped in a shroud, to the party on the condition that, they would see that he got a proper burial.
Outside town, they pitched camp and divided the halfling’s gold into even shares, with some left over for the expenses of his burial.

Session Rewards

Bonus Presence XP
1 level PC class
The halfling’s personal effects

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Three Orian Branches
In a town like this, chance meetings are commonplace

The town of Berit is the gateway to two major nations. Many factions gather here, vying for support. Which groups will reach the party in this place?

A plot, a network, and a fabulous artifact

The party entered Berit on the third of Aprilis through the unguarded gap in its wall leading to the caravan district. A passing patrol sold them a flimsy map of the city.
Kheldar headed for the wizards’ quarter. Grayson sought out an inn. Alayla and the others headed for the market district.
Kheldar got a job to clear out the rental house belonging to a wizard who had just bought it and wanted its vermin exterminated. Alayla bought some cloth and a sewing kit for patching the party’s garments when they get torn. Kheldar went to several taverns and ended up buying a recipe for Stolen Fire Ale. Nolt Hyum went to a tavern in the inn district for a sumptuous meal, but his meal was interrupted by Captain Teagalley, who told him he was trying to build up his trade network in Oster by having a group of adventurers build a trade route anchored at his port of call. He gave Nolt Hyum a list of trade goods that would sell well across the sea.
Alayla ignored the warnings the patrol had given the party and went into Chaos Village, an area of Berit where almost anything can be had for a price, searching for poisons. However, nothing she found was within the reach of her purse.
Kheldar gathered the party and found Nolt Hyum. As they waited for him, they were approached by Zethar, the Brigadine, who invites them to strengthen their nation with chaos. The monk glowered at him and advised him to go away. None of the other party members wanted to join him.
Kheldar led the way to the rental cottage, where Rayne unlatched the door and kicked it open. Stepping inside, he looked around as Kheldar threw in his everburning torch. A swarm of bats surrounded the dwarf’s head, and he swung wildly with his axe. Grayson and the others attacked the bats, finally killing them. As the party took a breath, a swarm of rats rushed out and attacked Rayne’s legs. Alayla tried to catch one of the rats in her sack, but she missed them, and before she could try again, Kheldar had beaten them to a runny pulp.
Just then, the shadowy figure of a wraith appeared in the corner of the cottage, and Nolt Hyum approached it, trying to soothe it. It tried to attack him but missed, so he commanded it to depart, but it resisted his command and attacked again. Grayson and Alayla attacked and killed the wraith as Nolt Hyum withdrew.
Kheldar went back to the wizard and got paid, getting the wizard to pay an extra 25gp for dealing with the wraith.
The next morning, they left Berit and headed north.
The party reached the halfling village of Jocasta on the 5th of Aprilis. Kheldar visited the monastery of the Order of the Moon and Stars, and Nolt Hyum visited the temple of his deity, which was one of two temples in town.
By the morning of the 8th of Aprilis, the party had reached Pallas, at the intersection of the major trade route and a side road that leads into the hills. They visited the library and the Tomehaus, but none of the party could use the tomes found therein.
They made their way to the Hall of Sages. They saw the elves who live there and the representatives of various races sent by their countries to the council, humans and halflings and elves and orcs and gnomes and dwarves. By evening, all the summoned nations were represented, and the Sages of Oria told the assembled emissaries that the Orian Branch, a powerful magical artifact, had been stolen. Grayson, as the official representative of Kettan, asked who had done this, and the sages said they did not know, but offered to allow the emissaries to search the branch’s chamber for clues.

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The Path of the Emissaries
The party travels to Berit

Having finished their six weeks of martial training, the party reassembled at the palace. They heard the emperor announce the betrothal of Prince Ursen and Princess Ranisha in three months. Alayla visited the princess to congratulate her on her betrothal. Rayne learned that Julian was training with the soldiers and making life miserable for them.
Prince Ursen met with the party and informed them that Kettan had been summoned by the Sages of Oria, and since he is preparing for his wedding, and his brother is out of favor with the emperor, he asked Grayson to be Kettan’s representative to the Hall of Sages just beyond the northern tip of Rissen. He requested the rest of the party to accompany him and ensure his safety. Each party member was given a badge of emissary status.
The party quickly gathered supplies and left Kepita on the 33rd day of Marzets.
They had only been on the road through the forest for two hours when some of the party heard a noise of twigs snapping under a foot, followed by a curse in the elven tongue. They quickly spotted the elf who had been trying to sneak up on them, and Alayla questioned him about his intent. He answered by sending a magic missile at the party. Everyone dismounted and joined combat with him, and he was quickly reduced to unconsciousness. Alayla asked if anyone had brought rope, and finding none, had to tie him up with his own bowstring. Nolt Hyum brought him around and questioned him, learning that he was trying to rob the party, and that he was carrying shocking arrows.
Not wishing to kill him, but fearing he would return to town and claim they had robbed him without provocation, Nolt Hyum cut off his tongue and closed the wound so he wouldn’t bleed to death. The party cut his clothing into strips and tied him securely to a tree and left him there.
Continuing north, the party was attacked by a hungry wolf, which they killed easily.
Nightfall found them near a cave, but when they investigated it, they decided not to sleep there, because there was a swarm of bats living there.
Another half hour brought them to an abandoned bear’s cave, where they made camp. But during the first watch, they were approached by a smoke-like undead. Nolt Hyum searched his memory and found that it was a dangerous monster that could cause people to do strange things with its sound, so he warned the party to cover their ears and not let it touch them.
As it approached, Alayla shot it with the shocking arrows, and Nolt Hyum finished it off by commanding it to depart with his holy symbol held out.
In the morning, they traveled on, coming to the border of Rissen. In a watchtower, Nolt Hyum found a chest whose lock was less persistent than his mace, and he obtained five sheets of paper and three pencils bearing the royal crest of Rissen.
The party saw a fork in the road from the towers and continued north.
Having been told which route was faster, they turned east at the fork and followed the road two miles to a wide spot in the road called Lark, but before they reached the village, they saw vultures circling south of the road. Investigating, they found a dead halfling. Nolt Hyum collected his effects, a journal written in the halfling tongue, and a smoking pipe bearing a family crest.
After buying supplies they had not thought to get in Kepita, the party continued on. Nolt Hyum boiled down some tobacco he’d bought and made two vials of very potent poison from it.
The party arrived in Berit on the 3rd day of Aprilis.

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A Tale of Two Princes
The party leaves their quiet village.

The party members were all leading quiet lives in Marsena, and though they were all members of the town militia, they hadn’t seen any more action than the regular militia drills.
One afternoon, Prince Julian rode into town, called the militia together, and looked them over. He picked several of them out of the lineup and invited them to his tent. There, he explained that the Kettani emperor had declared that whichever of his sons could successfully woo the Risseni princess Ranisha would succeed him on the throne.

Julian said, “Well, to be quite frank, I won. But my brother is not ready to accept this. He is gathering his own warband to try to murder me so he can be the new emperor. So, I want you to ride to the palace and tell my father the news that Ranisha has agreed to marry me. He will send word to my brother to stop chasing me, and all will be well. If you fail, my brother will attack, and I fear he will slaughter everyone in your town. Will you aid me by carrying this message to your emperor?”

The party agreed and rode out of town. But on the way to the capital, they met a hooded figure in the woods, who eventually revealed himself to be Prince Ursen.

Ursen told the party, “When the princess arrived for her visit, I was smitten from the moment I laid eyes on her. I would have given up the throne to marry her. In fact, I still would. For that reason, I set out to woo her with all my efforts. My brother was always interfering, so I took the princess on an outing in the countryside.”

He told them of how he was winning the princess’s heart but was called away for a few hours to deal with a minor problem in the next town. When he returned, he learned that his brother had taken advantage of the princess and convinced her that the elder brother would not marry her after that. He promised to make her the empress if she would marry him.

The elder prince was on his way to drive his brother away from Ranisha and reclaim her. He asked the party if they would ride with him. He asked them to sneak in and either bring the princess out or stay with her to protect her in case of any fighting in the village.

They managed to sneak in and get the princess out. Talking to the princess, they learned that she preferred Ursen and only went with Julian thinking her chances with the elder brother were ruined. Ursen brought them to the palace in the capital city, where the emperor rewarded them with six weeks of martial training in the areas of their choice.

Session Rewards

1 rank in a profession
1 level PC class
1 mount/PC

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