Summer 996 YK
In the early days of the Growing Season, the secret agents of Sora Katra are given their first assignment beyond the borders of Droaam. The quintet is to go to the City of Sharn where they’ll meet Cavallah, the leader of the Daask. In exchange for their loyalty, the hags of Droaam will provide their with a very potent and highly addictive elixir that can multiply the power of any arcane spellcaster or dragonmarked heir.
Tsukiyomi and Cryptic Karri have shapeshifting abilities, and neither minotaurs nor kobolds are unheard of in Breland, but a mind flayer is certain to stand out and likely to be shot on sight.. Sora Katra doesn’t seem worried in the slightest, and simply asks Cxaxukluth for a demonstration. Wondering how Katra knows about it already, the mind flayer pulls out a squiggly ball of ectoplasm from his robes, and lets it flow around his face, remolding it in the likeness of a nondescript human.
Satisfied with what she’s seen, Sora Katra instructs the crew to get aboard a Hose Orien caravan in Graywall to hasten their trip to Sharn. There, they are to meet with the harpy Cazha Bloodwing at the Shamukaar tavern in the lower levels of the city. Katra gives the group two kegs of her special potion, as well as a stone eye and a set of petrified fangs to be handed over to Cavallah.
Once in Graywall, the party meets with Saria d’Orien at the House Orien enclave in the Calabas, a grand station with numerous stalls and workshops, most of which haven’t been used yet. A shrwed negotiator, the baron demands a hefty sum, using the unsafe nature of the road in Droaam to justify additional guards. Normally, the next caravan wouldn’t leave town for another five days, but a generous patron is paying double to have one leave in the morning, which suits the secret agents just fine.
Early the next day, the five get aboard a large coach where they sit alongside two humans and three elves. The humans both look like seasoned veterans and barely say a word, even among themselves. On the other hand, the elves, two women and a man dressed in expensive clothes, spend the whole trip chattering in their singing tongue. By the end of the day, the coach arrives in the small town of Ardev, in Western Breland. There, the ten travelers are given the location of an inn near the House Orien enclave, where everyone decides to check in.
Wary of the everyone around them, the Droaam agents bring the two kegs in their room and take shifts keeping watch in case something happens. All is silent during Karri’s turn in the wee hours of the night, until she hears someone struggling with the next door, where the elves are staying. Wondering if one of them hasn’t been locked out of their room in the middle of the night, she decides to have a look, but then reconsiders and wakes Hax to send him instead.
Still half-asleep, the kobold sneaks outside and spots two medium-sized humanoids wearing dark cloaks and hoods. One of them is busy picking the lock. His accomplice is standing watch and notices the kobold spying on him. Quickly, a smoke bomb is thrown on the ground, followed by the sounds of glass breaking and footsteps running away. Hax pulls out of his pouch a magical fan of his invention to blow away the greyish smoke, but the intruders are already gone, and a white plume is coming out of a broken windowpane.
By that time, Karri had already woken up everybody else. While they’re trying to keep a low profile, the crew wonders if it wouldn’t look even more suspicious if they did nothing. Besides, earning the favor of a group of rich elves might benefit them in the long run. Tsukiyomi is designated to go fetch the innkeeper while Karri and Hax look around for clues. Cxaxukluth considers psionically teleporting inside the room, but between the drapes and the white, acrid smoke, he doesn’t have a clear enough view to see where he’d end up. He instead scans the other side of the the wall to sense sentient minds and detect only one very faint presence. Keng moves out a bit to get a running start and charges the door with his horns, busting the lock in a loud clang. The door moves ajar, but something blocks it path and prevents It from opening fully.
Cxaxukluth slips inside, unhindered by the darkness, and sees a naked elf maiden crouched behind the door. As the mind he sensed comes from further back in the room, he pushes forward, but the white gas is already working such a number on his lungs, that he couldn’t possibly stay there more than a minute. Calling for help telepathically, the mind flayer gets help from Keng, who’s affected just as much by the fumes. The two make their way to the back of the room where they find two more naked elves together in bed. Since Cxaxukluth only detects brain activity from one of the pair, Keng picks her up and the two rush outside to catch their breath.
Meanwhile, Tsukiyomi is accompanied by the innkeeper who, rather than go investigate the events, takes the oni on a jog toward the nearest guardhouse. She explains that an attempts on Lady Mishaan d’Phiarlan’s life is probably be a matter for the King’s Citadel, but that no Citadel agent can be bothered to be woken up at this time of the night. Watchmen are ready to step up at any given time, however, so a guard sergeant quickly joins Tsukiyomi and the innkeeper on the way back to the inn.
As Hax and Karri are analyzing the remnants of the smoke bomb and looking for tracks on the ground, Keng and Cxaxukluth burst out with an unconscious elf woman with pale skin and a barely noticeable pulse. More noticeable is the glowing dragonmark in the inside of her thigh. Hax quickly administers some universal antitoxin, but the woman is still not breathing. Seeing that no one else makes a move, Hax leans forward to give her mouth-to-mouth. The kobold’s mouth barely covers the elf’s, but something happens as she starts breathing again. Hax moves back just in time to not be caught in the act by the incoming guards.
The sergeant has his hands full with two apparent murder victims and an unconscious dragonmarked heir. Still, the fact that this happens in the middle of the night means that he might solve the mystery before the Citadel agents take over the case. He’d like very much to hold the newcomers from Droaam as responsible for the crime, but their story checks out, from the silent smoke bomb to the thieves’ tools still in the door lock to the testimony of the innkeeper. However, he warns them not to leave town until the matter is resolved, even if that means missing their caravan, as they are key witnesses to the events.
The sergeant’s second guess is the other two men from the caravan, but the two are found fast asleep in their own room on the other end of the building, and both are way more burly than the figures Hax has seen trying to break in. Hoping to get to Sharn as quickly as possible and to avoid getting entangled with the King’s Citadel, the party goes as afar as offering their help to the guards to sort things out right away. The sergeant reluctantly agrees, but calls for six more guards to come over, officially as reinforcements for an escort, but quite clearly so the visitors don’t attempt an escape while he’s on duty.
Under Hax’s guidance, the entire group, minus the innkeeper and a single guard left behind to watch over Lady d’Phiarlan, follow some hard-to-spot tracks leading to a wooded area beyond the town walls. Whoever left those track was definitely light-footed and nimble, and barely hindered by the undergrowth covering the forest floor, leading the agents to suggest that the culprits might be elves themselves. After a short hike, however, the tracks simply stop, as if the assassins had disappeared. Maybe they could have teleported away, but then why wait until they were ten minutes away from town? Sensing that things don’t add up, Cxaxukluth begins meditating to find try and see what has occurred in the immediate vicinity in the last few moments. In his mind, he sees two elves dressed in black who effortlessly run up a tree and climb in the branches.
Before the illithid can even get out of his trance, another smoke bomb bursts on the floor and an arrow zooms past the group, slashing Tsukiyomi’s shoulder. Once again, Hax blows away the smoke to reveal the pair the groupe was after standing on high branches and shooting volleys of arrows at the landlocked group. Not one to let an opponent get the last word, Tsukiyomi blasts a cone of cold up the trees, leaving the elves shivering and covering the branches with frost. The two assassins see that as their cue to escape as they start jumping from branch to branch. Blown back by a gust of wind conjured by Keng, one of the pair steps on a branch made fragile by Tsukiyomi’s ice; the branch snaps and the elf falls gracefully on the ground, albeit surrounded by armed town guards.
The other is well on his way to make an escape, but Karri is not willing, as she yells out loudly, to be stuck in a shithole of a village. Uttering an arcane curse, she twists the branches of the tree on which the last elf is standing, weaving a wooden net from which there can be no escape, then unceremoniously dropping him on the ground. The sergeant’s orders go unheeded as Keng proceeds to remove the two elves’ clothing, revealing each one to be the bearer of a dragonmark, likely the same Mark of Shadow as Mishaan d’Phiarlan.
Reasserting his authority, the sergeant gets everybody to move back in town where, thankfully, no other assassin has struck. Mishaan has regained consciousness and made it clear that she wants the caravan to get back on the road first thing in the morning despite what’s happened to her traveling companions. With actual prisoners, and a vial of milky-white poison found in the pouch of one of the two, poison that can no doubt be analyzed by an agent of the Citadel, the sergeant bids the travelers goodbye and sends them on their way.
Aside from the two veterans, everyone spends most of the following day asleep in the coach. By the end of the afternoon, the coach driver announces that they will be arriving in Wroat shortly. Contrary to what Keng had anticipated, the caravan is not following the west bank of the Dagger River through Moonwatch but is instead cutting right through the capital of Breland, and headquarters of the King’s Citadel.