Droaam : Top Secret

A Delicate Prisoner Exchange

Spring 996 YK

Having failed to be recognized as a new nation, unlike every other contender, in the Treaty of Thronehold, Droaam is officially left as nothing more than a western untamed province of Breland. Fortunately for the Daughters of Sora Kell, KIng Boranel seems uninterested in starting a new war just to reclaim some dry and rocky monster-filled plains.

The King’s Citadel is even willing to make some underhanded deals with the Daughters. This is how a prisoner exchange is arranged between a Thrane soldier held in Graywall and a trio of monster criminals having been arrested in Breland’s metropolis of Sharn. The five elite agents of the Daughters are sent to retrieve the prisoner from Graywall and carry out the exchange with House Deneith sentinel marshals at the Brelish border.

In Graywall, they meet with the local warlord, the mind flayer Xor’chylic. Even though they are of the same race, he seems especially wary of Cxaxukluth (Xa-Xu-Kluth). However, presented with the proper paperwork signed by the three daughters, he agrees to hand over Emetta Garber to the team.

In lieu of prison, Emetta is kept in a vast storehouse under the courthouse amid dozens of humanoid statues, all petrified victims of Xor’chylic’s medusas. Most of them, including Emetta, have had their right hand smashed with some sort of blunt tool, and while many show faces of pain and terror, the Thrane soldier displays a peaceful, almost arrogant smile. The statue weighting several hundred pounds, it takes the strength of both Keng and Tsukiyomi to take it out of the vault so, in order to ease things up, Keng casts a spell to shrink it down to a mere six inches.

Doubting that the Brelish authorities would agree to exchange their prisoners for a petrified hostage, the team is faced with its first challenge. Out of all the factions of Graywall, the only one that they do know is able to undo a medusa’s petrification is House Jorasco and its scion Hahlo d’Jorasco. Amiable even to monsters, he’s willing to offer the services of his dragonmark, for a price, but the agents would rather keep Emetta in her stone form until the last minute. Smelling an opportunity for profit, Hahlo offers them a scroll of depetrification for the hefty sum of 1500 gold galifars. That being three times the coin the agents have on hand, Sora Karrigell aka Cryptic Karri reluctantly offers a deal where the team would owe the Jorasco family a debt worth 1500 gold pieces to be called in the future. To make things official, Hahlo ever drags her to the Sivis office where a written contract is signed and archived. The agents are unfamiliar with the legal terms used by the gnome notary, but a careful inspection indicates that the document is free of loopholes the haflings could use against them.

That being done, the crew leaves the city aboard Hax’s new magically-powered armored chariot and heads east on the road to Breland. Traveling day and night to arrive early at the meeting, the team is riding under the stars and moons when the air fills with the howls of scores of wolves, even though none of the creatures are known to roam in eastern Droaam. Soon, tens of glowing, yellow eyes spread across the road, and a single half-elf with a walking staff emerges from the pack. Almost speaking in riddles, he indicates that he wants to buy the petrified woman, offering a wealth of gold and enchanted objects in exchange. He explains that Emetta Garber is directly responsible for the death of dozens of his relatives and that he would rather put her where she could never do harm ever again.

Wishing to complete their mission, the agents suggest that the half-elf waits for the exchange to be over for them to make their attack, but he says matter-of-factly that he’d rather take his chances against five monsters than against a full garrison of House Deneith warrior and, especially, a restored Emetta Garber. Presented with the fact that the Thrane soldier has no right hand anymore, he states that she could deal just as much death with just her left.

Unable to make the man and his wolf pack move out of the way, the agents choose to resort to violence. Predictably enough, all twenty wolves are revealed to be lycanthropes and stand up on their rear legs and shift into humanoid shapes. Karri quickly traps them in front of the team with a horseshoe of flames to stop them from using the pack tactics wolves are known for. Tsukiyomi slices down some of the closest foes while Cxaxukluth brainwashes a few more to take them out of the fight. The half-elf then raises his taff toward the skies and invokes the moonlight to blind the mind flayer. Seeing him as a prime targer, Hax and Keng punch through the wolf pack to focus on the spellcaster, who ends up prone and burning but still doesn’t give up. Surrounded by werewolves, Cxaxukluth is clawed and bitten several times, but is quickly saved by Karri and Tsukiyomi. Cornered against the fire wall, the remaining foes are slain one by one, save for a pair still under the mental control of Cxaxukluth. The illithid tries to turn them into loyal thralls, but the pain from the wolf bites flares up and makes him push his mental control too hard, sending the would-be thralls to their death alongside the others. Keng sees to the wounds of Cxaxukluth, but is unable to tell whether or how werefolf bites could affect a mind flayer.

A few kilometers more to the east, the troop meets a group of gnolls who happen to be members of the Znir Pact, patrolling the area to maintain the peace. They warn the Daughters’ agents of a wooden fort having appeared overnight at the Brelish border and manned by a hundred House Deneith mercenaries. In turn, the agents inform them of the pile of dead werewolves lying nearby and the need for a cleanup.

A few hours later, the sun is rising over a large wooden building floating the banner of House Deneith. Cxaxukluth and Hax and sent out as scouts to see that there are three entrances to the building, all heavily guarded by archers and pikemen. Not seeking another confrontation, the team decides to walk out in the open and meet their counterparts. A horn is blown twice and what appears to be a decorated officer comes out with a squad of bodyguards. The human asks to see the prisoner and, as the statuette is thrown on the ground, it springs back to its full height. The officer smells foulplay, claiming that this could as well be a well-made fake as the real thing. The agents swear that they have the means to restore Garber to flesh there and now but request to see the three other prisoners first. Reluctantly, the officier calls for a harpy, an ogre, and an elf to be brought forth, all with their wrists and ankles stuck in heavy metal manacles. The harpy’s wings are also weighted with what seems to be lead clips, and her face is covered with a leather muzzle.

WIth the three hostages in sight, Keng uses the Jorasco healing scroll to free Emetta from her stone prison. The rocky color leaves room to a shining symbol of the Silver Flame painted on her tabard. It takes only a fraction of a second for Emetta to scan her surrounding, and she lunges at Tsukiyomi, putting her left hand on his draconic blade’s hilt and starting to pull it out of its scabbard. The oni barely manages to pull his blade back and it takes all five agents to knock the warrior unconscious as she puts up mean fight despite her right wrist bleeding profusely. The Silver Flame zealot is brought halfway to the fort as the three others walk slowly toward their rescuers.

A team of medics put Emetta on a stretcher but, before the bleeding from her hand is even stopped, a pair of manacles is tied to her ankles. A Deneith archer then tries a ket to an arrow and shoots it a few meters in front of the monsters. The Deneith officer then orders all archers to aim at the enemies and starts counting aloud toward no known end number. Rather than risk provoking the crazy man’s thirst for blood, the agents untie the chains tying the rescued monsters ’s ankles and lead them away until the fort is almost out of sight.à

The three reveal to be part of an underworld organization known as Daask, with a strong hold on the crime scene of Sharn and a wish to expand all over Khorvaire. The ogre and harpy don’t know why they were rescued, but agree to meet with the Daughters of Sora Kell. As for the elf, he acts like he was expected to be freed sooner or later. Wondering why an elf would work for a group of Droaam monsters, Tsukiyomi wrongly assumes that he might be a changeling, but correctly guesses him to be a lycanthrope on his second try, hoping secretly that the Znir Pact gnolls will have had time to clean the road of the twenty werewolf corpses before the groups gets there.

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