1. The Discussion: The group settles down at Falco’s to have a discussion about what they should do next. They have explored much of the town and met several people, leading to a discussion about who they should trust, especially if they are going to be splitting up and doing things alone or in pairs. An interesting twist was that they all had different ideas about whom to trust. Waldrick was curious about some townsfolk, but didn’t really indicate who he trusts wholeheartedly. Ashvact thinks almost everyone they have met is extremely trustworthy. He trusts Falco, Perk the bowyer, and even Volcifar the fisher. Ralpheo is so paranoid about what he perceives as corruption in the church, that he trusts no one. Barick doesn’t even really trust Falco, but admits that he has helped the group. The final consensus… trust no one.
2. Peerday Worship: Peerday is the traditional day of worship and celebration in Ruboryn. The church of Straben has an intricately ritualistic service that the worshipers attend. It begins with a 15 to 20 minute Initiation ceremony performed by the ranking member of the church in attendance. Then, it goes through several phases of officer led ritual interspersed with parishioner participation segments (these are called the Phases, as in the phases of proper worship). The Phases are highly stereotyped and ritualistic, performed the same way and with the same basic script at every temple that provides full services to Straben. Anyone young or new gets taken to a separate room or building to learn the rituals and ceremony so that they do not interrupt or corrupt the worship of the entire abbey. The Phases are followed by a 15-20 minute closing segment called the Release ceremony, which fulfills the duty of the parishioners and the officers of the church and ends the service.
During the Phases (that is, after the Initiation, but before the Release) worshipers are pulled out of the pews by any officer of the church of acolyte status or higher and taken to a private room to preform what is called the Ordeal. The Ordeal is a type of confessional, except the servitor and the parishioner are face to face, without an obscured screen between them. Also, the Ordeal is conducted as more of an informal conversation between the servitor and the parishioner, in which the servitor asks the parishioner how they have served Straben. Unlike a confessional where one tells of the sinful things one has done and asks for absolution, the Ordeal asks one to explain what one has done to honor their deity lately. In small townships this is even less formal and includes asking after each other’s families and home life, and the parishioner asks the servitor as much as the servitor asks the parishioner. It began as a way for the church officials to stay connected to the day to day lives of the parishioners, but in larger areas and in more strict parishes, it is often used as a way to check up on ones who may be seen to stray from the true path.
3. Ralpheo conducts the Ordeal: Ralpheo decides to attend services at the abbey and conducts the Ordeal for three parishioners, Dirril, Gomid, and Verely.
Dirril is a farmer who is extremely happy with his place in the town and finds the church helpful and just. He is a pious man who feels he and his family have earned the favor of the church, even if they do not make their living from the sea itself, as the fishermen do. Dirril is a likable fellow and seems as honest as they come.
Gomid is a fisherman who’s family has fallen on hard times. Even so, he seems relatively upbeat, explaining how the catch is not as good in recent months and there are lots of dangerous shipwrecks. He explains that Straben must be angry and that he and his brothers, who now fish together since two of their boats were wrecked, are doing everything they can to regain the good graces of Straben, Lord of the Sea and Master of Waves. He invites Ralpheo to the fishtown celebration that will take place that evening. When Ralpheo accepts, Gomid gets very excited and happy, and explains that no one from the abbey has accepted their offer of celebration attendance in several months. This must be a good sign, the tide is turning, and Straben is willing to see and hear the acclaim those in fishtown have for him. Ralpheo finds it strange, but no stranger than anything else he has heard about at the abbey. Why would the abbey officials refuse an invitation to the fishtown celebrations?
Verely is a wealthy merchant who, none-the-less, doesn’t seem arrogant during the Ordeal, He tells of the vast holding he has and how Straben has smiled upon him and his family. He tells Ralpheo that he owns 2 warehouses in town and that he lets the fishermen use one of them as a drydock, for free, whenever they need to repair their ships. By all accounts, the merchant is pleasant, but not too friendly, and seems to follow the path of Straben. Ralpheo concludes that he is a perfectly fine citizen who has a bit more money than everyone else. The use of the warehouse doesn’t sound as altruistic to Ralpheo’s ears as Verely probably wants it to, but there is no crime in making money…
4. Magic Items: Waldrick has become used to searching for magical auras and hidden powers in the things the group collects. As such, he goes out to a relatively secluded place and tries to figure out if there is anything special about the ornate dagger, the ugly brooch with the rusty pin, the throwing knife, and the ring. The dagger and throwing knife seem to be mundane and utilitarian, with no magical aura about them. The brooch gives off a moderate level of magic, indicating it may have had a spell cast upon it at one time, and the energy of that spell is fading. The ring elicits an overwhelming magical aura, indicating that the ring itself has magical properties imbued into it. Once again, however, Waldrick is unable to determine the exact nature of the power the item holds.
5. Ashvact and the Guard: In the morning, during worship hours, Ashvact decides to investigate the warehouses across the lake from fishtown. He finds that only one guard is patrolling the area. As he cases the place he stumbles across the rest of the guard team, which consists of two large dogs. The dogs alert the guard and Ashvact begins a conversation with him, trying to find out as much information as possible about the place. He finds that the guard is paid highly by the owner of the warehouse and that the general area around there is flush with money. The guard doesn’t much seem to like the church, but he doesn’t mind getting the extra pay while everyone is worshiping. The guard provides little in the way of information, but the exchange tells Ashvact all he needs to know about the patrols (infrequent), the guards (very few, but paid by the Baron), and the militia (every male at least 13 years of age is trained in the standing militia, but it doesn’t patrol). He also finds out that the guard believes that Falco’s is run by a couple of assassins. Ashvact pushes for more information, but as soon as the guard gets suspicious of Ashvact asking so many questions, Ashvact high-tails it out of the area.
6. Barick and the Axe: After spending the morning relaxing, talking to Falco and Gap, and drinking a few pints in the name of Fallow, Barick disappears to perform a personal ritual down on the shore by where the ship carrying his father and brother went down. In the early afternoon he pays a visit to Garesh to retrieve and pay for his new axe. He is told it won’t be ready for several hours, because the ship just came in. He returns later and finally gets to swing the axe around. He gives the new axe a name: Brok Balor.
7. Taking a Walk: Waldrick, pondering the events in town this past week, takes an absent-minded walk. He heads across the bridge and along the road north, out of town. A few hundred feet past the northern guardhouse, he finds the body of a young male human. Upon searching the body, he finds a note hidden in the slit of the man’s belt. Assuming that whoever killed the victim must have taken all of his other possessions and missed the note,* Waldrick* hides the note. He quickly runs over to the guardhouse and alerts them to what he has found. After a few minutes of frantically describing what he saw, two guards assess the situation. It soon becomes clear that the guards think Waldrick killed the man, or had him killed, and needed help getting rid of the body. The head guardsman even asks Waldrick if the “young punk” owed him money. The conversation gives Waldrick the impression that this sort of thing happens often and that the guards help the more moneyed people in town clean up after this sort of behavior frequently. Waldrick leaves as soon as he can and heads back to Falco’s.
When he gets back to the room at Falco’s, Waldrick reads the note. At first it appears to be written in a strange language, but as Waldrick looks at it, the letters resolve into something more mundane and he can read the script, which is in Elvish. The letter says: “Pelltar, it is as we feared! Power is being drawn from the ground here, but it is concealed and I have not been able to locate it. Weel and I are going further into the ruin. I pray that Straben and Eord protect us. If we do not return, you know what to do. In loyalty, Gren.”
Later, Waldrick seeks out Fliban (at his own home) and asks him about Pelltar and the ruins near town. Fliban doesn’t tell him much, but does indicate that the ruins are several miles away, mostly along the road, and near a place called Pale Hill.
8. The Caravan Arrives: In the early evening of Peerday a trading caravan arrives, bringing goods and news from afar. The caravan brings news of trouble on the road, which quickly makes its way throughout town and into Falco’s tavern. Raids along the road between Trastenfen and Pinewald have been a common occurrence for several months, perhaps years. The caravaneers also talk of the trouble at Pinewald, a small thorp a few miles north of Trastenfen, near the base of Foothold Mountain. Pinewald has been experiencing goblin raids of late and are attempting to re-build an old abandoned keep so that the residents will have refuge against the goblin onslaught. They mention that the town council of Pinewald is offering good pay for able-bodied men willing to help rebuild the keep, which is now rumored to be haunted.
9. The Gambling Man: While sitting in Falco’s listening to gossip, a man comes in looking for Waldrick. He says that he represents his boss, Bradbert Crandel, who owns an invitation-only gambling establishment a couple of miles away from Trastenfen. Mr. Crandel would like to extend an invitation to one Waldrick Maestrum, renowned local gambler and man if fine taste, and any colleagues that he may choose to bring with him. Waldrick declines the invitation, but tells the man he will think about it and get back to him. The invitation apparently has an expiration date, and is also apparently rare – usually an invitation to Crandel’s Den is reserved for nobles and very wealthy men.
10. A Letter from the Abbey: While relaxing at Falco’s, a messenger comes in and brings a message to Ralpheo. The messenger waits patiently for Ralpheo to tip him, but Ralpheo is so wrapped up in reading the note that Waldrick has to pull a silver piece out of his pocket and pay the young messenger, who quickly exits the tavern. The note reads, “Acolyte and Servant of Straben, Ralpheo, Upon your inquiry I have searched the sacred library in the west chamber of the fine abbey and found a text which thusly speaks to your dilemma. It is an old, pre-evisceration treatise on the evils of raising the departed without the soul intact. The scribe has said, “Use sliver on the weapons be to reduce the necromancer’s deed.” And is signed ~xx Almon – A friend at the Abbey xx ~
(this session took place on December 15, 2012)