After a week of mayoral training, Wander meets up with his teacher Trevor, a diplomat from Priodym. Trevor, after indicating that Wander had completed as much of the training as he could while remaining in Brightwell, started explaining the plans to bring Wander into the capital to fully inaugurate him into the new political position. Wander takes this command rather well until Trevor mentions that Criòs and Auric need to come with as well so that they can get their permissions to operate with Wander, to which his mood deflates noticeably.
“We’ve been here in this gutterwater excuse of a town for too long. We need to get you to Priodym as soon as possible.” says Trevor haughtily. “This place is beneath me and so are you for wishing to claim responsibility of it. We’re leaving first thing in the morning; I’ve already made the preparations.”
With the meeting concluded, Wander meets up with the other two members of the group in the town square. While Wander explains the new plans, Criòs spots Sven across the square and politely smiles and waves. Sven sees the gesture and excitedly runs over to the trio.
“Hello friends! Come by my shop later, I’ve finished the last set of modifications on your gear!” says Sven, cheerful as always before running off to continue his business.
With pleasantries exchanged, Wander finishes explaining the current plans for the trip to Priodym and the group makes their way over to Sven’s workshop. Somehow, despite his running off in the opposite direction, Sven has beaten him back to his shop and meets them with a warm smile and three bundles of gear. “Make sure you look it over carefully,” Sven adds, “I want you to be sure I did everything as according to your requests.” After some passing small talk, the group parts ways and heads back to the inn.
Each person examines their gear, admiring and complimenting the quality of the work to each other, when Auric notices a note attached to the hilt of his glaive. He opens it and reads it, finding it to be a message from Ryalt.
Auric begins reading the note aloud to the other two, detailing out how Ryalt has acquired intelligence stating that a very prominent diplomat will be leaving from Brightstone the next day and how he would like to ask the three of them to help in the capture of the diplomat. Upon completing the note, Auric looks up with a morbid expression on his face.
“We can’t kill the rebels, and we can’t hand over the diplomat. What are we going to do?”
Criòs and Wander look at each other, then back to Auric. “Well we might as well kill the rebels. It’s not like they’re important and if we want to do something major in this region, we need to get access to Priodym.”
An argument breaks out, both sides struggling to push their point forward. Finally, Wander starts mixing something up with the poison kit he keeps with him.
“What are you doing?” Asks Auric, slightly indignant.
“I’m going to spike his drink with this knockout potion. Should put him down for half a day while we get him out of here.” Wander replies as he strides out of the door. Criòs, a bit confused, jumps up and follows after him.
Grabbing a few drinks from the bar downstairs, Wander mixes the potion in with one of the drinks and hands another one to Criòs. Auric catches up to them and tries to stop them but fails to convince them to stop their plan.
Bursting into Trevor’s room, Wander wakes him up energetically. “We need to head out now. We can’t wait till morning.”
Confused and angered, Trevor looks up at them and says, “Why? What could possibly be so important that we need to leave in the middle of the bloody night?”
Not anticipating the question, Wander hesitantly replies “Well, uh…Criòs here is deathly afraid of sunrises. If we leave now, he’ll sleep right through the sunrise.” Criòs covers his head with his cloak and Wander puts on his most convincing smile.
“I’m not buying it.” Trevor responds, even more furious than before. “He’s a wood elf for Torm’s sake!”
At this, Wander and Criòs look at each other and start giggling as they start acting incredibly drunk. They push the spiked drink into his hands, nodding at him to take a drink.
At this moment, Auric bursts into the room and says urgently, “Trevor, we received some information that says you’re going to be attacked on the way back to Priodym and that the assailants are expecting you to leave tomorrow. If we don’t leave tonight, you might be in danger.”
“How did you come across this information?” Trevor asked, skeptical of the chaotic intrusion into his privacy.
“The people from the drug den that we cleared out caught wind of this plot and passed the information on” replies Auric, choosing his words and inflection carefully.
“Well, scum like that would know. Let me get dressed and we’ll head out.” Trevor sighs as he throws back the drink in his hand in one gulp.
By the time the group loads up the cart and is ready to head out, Trevor is feeling the effects of the potion. As Auric starts the wagon towards the gate, Trevor lies down in the back of the cart laden with some of the rogues’ ale. After he fell asleep, Wander and Criòs dress him in a large burlap sack and hide him under some hay in the back of the cart.
Upon reaching the gate, the group is stopped by a pair of soldiers of Paladic Guard. With it being as late as it is, the guards approach the cart cautiously, unsure of how to address the situation. Recognizing Wander, one asks, “Sir, what are you doing traveling this late at night? Shouldn’t you be resting for the trip tomorrow?”
“Well,” Wander replies, “We’ve got a major order of alcohol due to go to Priodym since the new market there has opened up. We just decided to leave early. Besides, this fool next to me is afraid of sunrises.”
The dubious response prompts the guards to concern. “Sir, we’re going to have to search the cart, just to be sure.” The closer guard moves to the back of the cart and begins moving things around, quickly finding a sleeping Trevor in an odd sack. Both guards draw their weapons, while the searcher asks indignantly, “What is the meaning of this?”
Wander shrugs, smiles coyly and says, “He was tired. He fell asleep in the back and I thought he looked cold so I covered him with what we had.”
Cautiously rushes thing their weapons as they shrug at each other, the two guards stand down. “Well,” one starts, “we’re not allowed to leave our post without direct command from him, so I guess we will wait here. Just be careful out there.”
The group leaves the town with a collective sigh of relief at avoiding a conflict by just a few words. The crew continues off into the night, beginning their week-long journey.
About halfway through the next day, Trevor rouses himself from his sleep. After waking up completely, a very angry expression crawls across his face. “There was something in that drink you gave me right before telling me about an attempt in my life. Explain yourself right this instant.”
Panicked, Wander responds. “We grabbed the drink off the bar on the way up. I guess someone spiked it before we got it?”
This answer settles better with Trevor than expected. “That makes sense. I’m glad you three were around to help me get out of that situation.” The resolution of the situation visibly relaxes the diplomat. “I tell you, the only time that I get to unwind is while I’m on the road. Pass me some of that ale good sir.”
Over the next few days, the four travelers start to get to know each other. One day, while Trevor is feeling the effects of the alcohol and enjoying the shade of the tree canopy over the road, Auric asks, “So, honestly, how are things in the capital?”
“Well, it’s all that beaurocratic nonsense.”, mumbled Trevor. “No one on the Patriarchal body seems to be able to get any of their pet projects going, so all that happens is what they all can agree on. Which, to be honest, isn’t much. They can override single dissent, so at least they can get some stuff done.”
Wander looks over, “Is all this expansion effort the result of some unanimous decision? It seems like it might not be the best idea for diplomatic relations.”
Trevor slowly changes his gaze from Auric to Wander. “No, it’s not s plan everyone likes. Patriarch Chamberlain is opposed to it but he has been overruled. Honestly I think he might be the only sane person leading the country.”
Auric chimes back in. “Well isn’t there some way that the system could be changed so that it is run better for everyone?”
Sighing, Trevor sits up, closing his eyes and shrugging. “I don’t know. I think the only way to fix the system is to get rid of it. You’d have to kill off all the Patriarchs and just restart the government.”
Before anyone can respond, a loop of rope drops right in front of Trevor and yanks him out of the wagon by the neck, left dangling and surprised above the road. Wander reacts, jumping from the cart onto the rope while drawing his rapier to cut the rope. In a single motion, he frees Trevor from the snare and lands on the ground, muttering a prayer and throwing a small light orb at the ground. Suddenly a huge , dense cloud condenses around him and the cart, obscuring the trees and cart from view. Realigning his sensory ring to enhance his hearing, Wander moves to Trevor to help him up. In the process though, he hears the rustling of leaves as people run above him, the footfalls of people on both sides of the road, and the breathing and charging of horses from the road behind them.
Auric reacts to stop the vehicle, coming to a halt a short distance away while Criòs draws his bow, whispering to the vine entanglement as he fires an arrow into the fog, which responds with the sound of rapid growth of plant life. Wander carries Trevor quickly to the cart and throws both himself and Trevor on the back. The sound of people in the trees and beside the road have disappeared ahead of the wagon beyond his hearing range.
Auric gets the horses moving again, but before they cover much ground a net drops from the trees in front of the cart, catching the horses up in a tangle of rope. The cart violently comes to a stop until Criòs jumps to the horses and cuts the net away enough to let the horses get free. As the horses begin to move forward again, Wander hears the sound of bourses in pain as they collide with the vine hedge Criòs formed behind them.
Criòs, unsure of where the assailants are located, draws an arrow, aiming toward the back of the wagon in preparation of any attacks. Auric struggles against the horses to get them under control after the spook they endured. Wander, still attempting to locate the rebels, looks up to see if he can spot one. At that moment, one drop from the trees directly behind him. On instinct, Criòs fires an arrow at the falling person, landing a solid hit that sprouts vines that envelop the target, binding him. The now-bound body slams into Wander, knocking him to the floor.
Wander kicks the bound soldier off the wagon and throws a fiery hand toward the ground behind them, casting a blue flame that streaks out and ignites the net behind them. Auric looks back, feeling helpless to assist in the defense beyond just steering the chaotic wagon until he gets an idea. He hums a quiet tune that summons a ghostly hand, which flies back and lifts up cut up and burning net, moving it slower to try to distract the attackers. As the fog begins to thin out, Criòs turns his attention forward to ready a shot for anything that can come up in front of them as they leave the fog.
As the cart breaks free of the fog, six pikemen can be seen readied across the road, weapons lowered to strike. Criòs reacts, firing his shot into one of the middle pikemen. The blow lands with a small puff of purple gas, which causes the pikeman to swing his polearm away from the center of the road, knocking his comrade to the ground. Wander turns and fires a crossbow bolt, clipping the same man with his bolt, which drops him prone. As the cart draws closer, Criòs draws one more arrow and fires it at the other central pikeman, knocking the man to the ground. At the last second, Auric pulls the reigns to avoid running over the bodies, hoping that he can keep control over the wild horses.
The horses breeze past the line of rebels with little room for error. As the cart speeds past the line, the wagon exits the canopied section and enters a pasture. With no places left for ambush, the group lowers their guard and sheathes their weapons. Trevor, who has finally recovered from the shock of the situation, cannot stop thanking the three for their protection.
The rest of the travel is calm, and the party tops a hill to see the large city of Priodym in the distance. As soon as the walls of the capital come into view, Trevor sits up and dons his haughty diplomatic air. As the cart approaches the gate, Trevor flashes a diplomatic badge at the guards who immediately open the gate for them. Before anything else, the party sees horseless carts driving along the road beyond the entry gate, and the three wonder what they have gotten themselves into.