Leolin Lost

Champions of the Kydemones, Episode 3 By Jonathan Lipps Jul 2, 2022 Listen

We ended the last session with the party divided about how to interact with the mysterious women, Adriel and Caligo, who asked us to come North with them. The most extreme position was occupied (of course) by Orwin, who remained convinced the women were trouble and we should get rid of them. Rianne decided instead to follow after them and engage in friendly conversation to gather intelligence about the road South. Fenn and Evendur went back to see Tarala and inform her about these women. Both conversations proved fruitful; Rianne learned that the women, acting as generals under Lady Almara, had survived their journey from the South by following a path guarded by mysterious protective gemstones. Tarala confirmed that Lady Almara had designs on similar stones of ancient power as a way to protect humankind once and for all from the various encroaching dangers. We were also assigned our first escortee, one Arcus Neris, famed architect of Nauem's Inner City (yes, reader: "Arcus the Architect"), whom the Academy needed to head South with us to design and build the next Academy.

Unfortunately, Arcus was in no mood to leave town, as his newlywed Leolin had just gone missing. Our job, all of a sudden, became pacifying Arcus and trying to find Leolin, otherwise we'd have no way to convince Arcus to come with us and help the Kydemones resettle. Always one for "creative" ideas, Orwin took the measure of the flighty, self-obsessed, and obviously scatter-brained Arcus and decided that he might be able to seduce the middle-aged architect sufficiently for him to forget all about Leolin and come with us instead. Needless to say, the rest of the party was disappointed, if not shocked, at the rather gigoloic suggestions coming from our young paladin, and opted instead to try to uncover Leolin's whereabouts.

Relishing our new role as fantasy gumshoes, we prompted Arcus to retrace Leolin's last known steps. In guise as the famous lord's assistants, we visited several wealthy palaces of the Inner City, and, after befriending some of the kitchen staff, learned that Leolin had wandered off with a group of other lordlings in the direction of the Middle City, talking about something called stone sigil signing, and the Tehokivi. Our virtual hackles were raised; the Middle City was no place for a group of rich fops, particularly with the city in its current state. After depositing Arcus in a friend's mansion for safekeeping, we bluffed our way out of the Inner City gates and set off to track down Leolin. Based on the clues we had heard, we visited a stone sigil shop and spoke with the owner, Escon Tal, whom we plied for information. There we learned something about the Tehokivi---mythical stones or crystals of immense power, which most people considered imaginary. Having exhausted the stone sigil option (Leolin had not visited the shop), we went looking for the other thing the young lordlings might have had their minds on in the Inner City: drugs. Specifically, Sezcht, a dangerous and mind-altering substance.

Tracking down Sezcht took us into the more obviously unsavoury parts of the Middle City, and we passed enough dead bodies on the way to the infamous Kendler Alley to make Orwin nearly pass out. A strange light in an alley window prompted us to look stealthily inside for any sign of Leolin or his companions. Not being able to see very well, Orwin decided to go through the window, and promptly fell among 5 very dead bodies. Before being able to investigate whether these were our 5 missing lordlings, a noise of approaching footsteps in the house scared us away. We continued to flee the alley as unseen boots began to encircle it, and we only escaped thanks to Evendur's surprisingly accurate knowledge of the smallest byways of the Middle City.

Out of good ideas, and of a divided mind about whether the bodies we found were in fact the lordlings (fallen prey to drug dealers or worse), we decided to find an antiques shop where Evendur thought the proprietor might know something about the Tehokivi. If one of these stones were actually real, and if it was in Nauem, it would no doubt have been lurking for centuries as some kind of family heirloom, so it stood to reason that Leolin, if he believed in them, might have tried to sniff it out by visiting dealers in antiques. So as not to give away our interest in Leolin while asking about the Tehokivi, we devised a ruse whereby Evendur would pretend to have brought Fenn and Orwin to the shop to settle a bet about the Tehokivi---Fenn claiming they were made-up nonsense, and Orwin arguing that there was some truth to them.

Thus we came to the shop of Therell Kell, and with our ruse and our flattery about his knowledge of these arcane matters, learned that Mr. Kell had indeed been hearing credible rumours that one of the Tehokivi was in Nauem. Pretending to be interested and driven by our own avarice, we offered to buy information from him about the Tehokivi and whether anyone else was hunting them. Not having much in the way of coin, we briefly debated amongst ourselves how we might procure some amount of Sezcht to bargain with, but ultimately decided that spinning up drug lord alter egos was a bit too much of a side quest. Fortunately, Therell Kell was only too happy to take one of Rianne's exotic knives in exchange, and told us gleefully that a group of lordlings had come by not 2 days before, looking for the Tehokivi, and that, in answer to their queries, had deceitfully sent them down to Kendler alley in accordance with his standing relationship with the Black Cornix Syndicate, where they could be captured and used in one of what we imagined could be some kind of dark sacrifice. But Mr. Kell also told us by the bye that the Cornix gang genuinely believed one of the Tehokivi stones was in Nauem, and in fact one of the Inner City houses had already been looted in their search for it.

After leaving the shop, our hearts fell. To all appearances it looked as if Leolin had indeed been another victim of these more dangerous parts of Nauem. But it also appeared as though a larger story was opening up in front of us---what were these mythical stones and what kind of power did they hold, if real? It was apparent that not only Leolin and the Black Cornix Syndicate were after these stones, but Adriel and Caligo as well. Was there more to their presence in Nauem than they had let on?

But for now, what would we tell Arcus? Discussing the matter, we made our way back to the Inner City, only to realize that we would never be able to pass through the gates on our own in the middle of the night, particularly dressed for skulking around as we were. Instead, Evendur led us through a secret tunnel under the wall that he knew of. Coming out the other side of the tunnel into a warehouse, we were surprised by a handful of Syndicate members! Equally surprised by us, they raised their weapons, and it looked as if things were about to get ugly. Rianne tried to shout something about how we were working with Arcus, but this clearly didn't endear the ruffians to us. All of a sudden, just before crossbow bolts started flying, Evendur stepped forward and spoke to the gang. He claimed to belong to the gang himself and on an important mission. This gave them pause, but they pressed him for proof. Evendur provided it, disowning the rest of us as companions and instead sharing how we were pawns in his mission for the Syndicate. Satisfied for the moment, the gang members did not press an attack.

For our part, the rest of the group was shocked at Evendur's revelation, but it was obviously not the place to challenge him or have a round table discussion about what seemed to be a rather large betrayal. We weren't yet out of the woods. Our enemies (but not Evendur's?) had made no move to let us on our way. It was going to be up to Evendur to continue to talk our way out of the situation. And then, we would all need to have a long conversation with him.