The Tanius Campaign Journal - Chapter 7: The Exchange
As I was transcribing Josh's story, the familiar hum of the zone of truth dissipated. While I continued writing, I heard Josh stand up and retrieve something from a nearby cabinet; looking up, I saw Josh filling two tankards of ale.
Once both mugs were topped off, he sat back down at the table and placed a tankard next to my notes. For the first time since we had started speaking he seemed at ease. Josh and I exchanged a toast, and after a couple generous pulls of ale he continued his tale.
Campaign Log Day 3 - Part 1
16th day of Kythorn - Dawn
Year of The Rebuked Storm - 1574 Dale Reckoning
Endgar Commercial District - The Nest
DM Note: Transition from Session 4 to 5
Session 4 ended with the party sided with Renlia and resting underground. Since the situation was relatively stable swapping out party members would have been fairly straight-forward should the need arise.
Once dawn had broken, the party reconvened. There was a spirited debate, but ultimately Renlia's confidence in Rick's loyalty (and a lack of inspiring alternatives) convinced the party to accept Zayn's proposal. Rick would deliver the terms of the exchange to Zayn's associate at the drop point, and if their conditions were reasonable the party would arrange the swap.
Unsurprisingly, the party wasn't comfortable sending someone overtly disgruntled on such an important task unsupervised. Ungoldor volunteered to tail Rick to the drop point, and his compatriots agreed he was best-suited for the task. After giving Rick a brief head-start, Ungoldor quietly exited the tunnel and made his way towards the gates of Endgar.
The rogue had no problem staying on Rick's trail and no issues staying out of sight; the increased number of travelers walking in and out of Endgar during the festival made it even easier than usual. Arriving at the drop point, Ungoldor skulked behind a nearby tree and waited.
After a couple minutes, a short human broke away from the crowd and approached Rick. While the two exchanged pleasantries, Ungoldor strained to hear their conversation. Most of the exchange was too hushed for the elf to understand, but near its end he was able to hear Zayn's associate say "we'll be ready." The two parted ways, with Rick returning to Endgar and the operative moving further away from town.
Instead of returning to the warehouse, Ungoldor decided to follow Zayn's associate. A short distance from Endgar, he saw his target enter a half-built watermill near the river. Satisfied for the moment, Ungoldor ran back to the warehouse as quickly as he could.
Employees of The Month
While Ungoldor was away, the party had some pressing issues of their own to deal with. The City Watch was due to arrive at any moment, and a good portion of Renlia's workforce had shuffled off their mortal coils. The party again donned their Blackheart Agriculture uniforms and emerged from their tunnel to greet the guards banging on the upper warehouse door.
Renlia cheerfully answered the door, and found Josh himself leading the group. Feeling confident this would work out in their favor, the party put on a good enough show to avoid arousing further suspicion. After the guards were allowed to poke around a bit without event, Josh gathered his men and called off the investigation. On his way out, Josh pulled Renlia aside and told her he'd return alone as soon as possible.
The party breathed a sigh of relief, but soon Ungoldor returned to inform the party of what he'd seen. Renlia snickered when Ungoldor mentioned the watermill, and informed the party that the mill belonged to Blackheart Agriculture. She also begrudgingly gave Zayn credit for putting the family in such a clever location; if the City Watch learned about a kidnapping or murder on her property, she'd be hard-pressed to hide her association with The Flock.
A few moments later, Rick walked through the front door. He casually informed the party that Zayn's associate was willing to make an exchange, and that they could meet at the Blackheart watermill. The party retreated into the tunnel to discuss their options, and decided their best course of action would be to wait for Josh and proceed with the exchange.
About an hour later, Josh came walking down the tunnel stairs, and after being brought up to speed, he agreed with the party's plan of action. Rick was insistent on accompanying them to the watermill, but the party had other plans, and confined him to Zayn's cell until the party successfully returned with Josh's family. Renlia was initially uncomfortable but ultimately capitulated, while Rick quickly recognized he didn't have much of a choice. After locking Rick's cell and slapping some manacles on Zayn, the party marched over to the watermill.
As the party approached the watermill, they noticed a nondescript man near the entrance. After hailing the party and meeting them on the road, Zayn's associate requested that the party follow him into the mill to complete the exchange. Sensing a trap, Bellamy discreetly cast a suggestion spell on the scoundrel, suggesting the exchange would be safer for everyone if it is done outside.
After mulling the decision over, Zayn's associate ultimately decided the area is remote enough to complete the exchange outdoors. He stepped inside briefly, allowing Ungoldor time to attempt climbing the mill to get a better view of the area. Unfortunately, his excitement got the best of him and he ended up slipping off the roof and onto his back. Feeling somewhat embarrassed, he returned to the group.
After a few minutes had passed, Zayn's associate and four other people returned from a different door. Behind the criminals was a women and a young boy, both bound with rope. Josh immediately identified his loved ones for the party, and with proof of their safety, our group lined up on the road with Zayn in front. Both sides agreed to advance one step at a time.
Take The High Road
Party: Bellamy(Sor 3), Kiddo(Ftr 1/Wlk 3), Kroul(Clr 3), Lilyth(Drd 3), Ungoldor(Rog 3)
Difficulty Rating: Deadly
Expected Outcome: Major damage and KOs, potential prisoner death
Actual Outcome: Battle Avoided
Tactical Considerations: Both parties of the exchange essentially had an identical set of environmental assets. Either side could take cover behind or climb the mill for a vantage point. There was enough room between them for range combatants to have a significant advantage, however a ranged fight would likely catch the prisoners in the crossfire.
How It Went Down: Ungoldor and an enemy scout both took cover behind the mill. The rest of the party had weapons drawn, but decided not to make the first move. The prisoners moved across the board 1 round at a time, but ultimately both sides maintained discipline and didn't strike.
Zayn's associate called out the steps as both sides of the exchange watched with weapons drawn. The tension built as both sides drew closer and closer, but ultimately neither side drew blood. The moment he knew they were safe, Josh embraced his family. Meanwhile, the last remnants of The Flock gathered around Zayn and quickly fled towards the river. The party carefully followed, but before any attempt to engage could be made, they were already rowing across the Red River.
Everybody Loves A Happy Ending
Once Josh pulled himself away from his family, he approached the party and told them he we was forever in their debt, and offered them a family heirloom. Ungoldor had a heart-to-heart with Josh that ultimately led to them putting their past animosity behind them. Ungoldor accepted the amulet with Josh's hopes of keeping him safe.
Item: Homebrew - Josh's Lucky Rabbit's Foot
Equipment Type: Wondrous item
Description: Requires Attunement: +1 to all non-proficient savings throws. Power: Once per day, you can choose to re-roll any roll for or against you. This power recharges at dawn.
After a few hugs and handshakes, Josh left with his family and the party returned to Renlia's Warehouse. Returning to the secret passage, they found Renlia and Rick exactly where they left them. They told Renlia the exchange was a success, and despite Zayn's escape, Renlia was happy to hear everyone was safe. She apologized for the trouble she'd caused the party, and told them to keep any treasure they found in the Nest as an apology. With a promise to contact the party when she'd assembled the means to perform her husband's resurrection, Renlia and the party said their farewells and parted ways.