Verden: Beyond the Gate
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The heroes left Siseneg after a brief encounter with the “guard” stationed at the gate. Portraying themselves as a farmer, his guards, and his minstrel, the players passed the checkpoint unhindered. Now, beyond the walls of their unfamiliar beginning city, they finally could see the great blue of a huge body of water before them, to the South and East. A small port, which was really like a handful of docks, sat upon the water’s edge, though few ships were docked there and it seemed to be rather devoid of activity. The road went East a-ways before curving around to the South toward the docks. Farther East, a small expanse of hills lined the shore, some small others large. It was there that the Witch, Isova, claimed the alchemical reagent Tarrowroot could be found in reasonable quantity.
“I have not been to the caves in some time, so unless another with the ability to see the root’s usefulness has visited recently, you should have little trouble finding a quantity of the reagent. I hope that you might be able to bring back at least five samples, though I will gladly accept as many as you can find. A word of caution though, without my presence for so long, I cannot be certain who or what may have found the caves a comfortable hiding place. We do not see too many fearsome creatures around these parts, but it never hurts to be cautious.”
The heroes set out along the road, in marching order and making good use of Nick’s newfound companion, Atka, an Eidolon, tied to him by a powerful force, though they knew not how or why. Finally, the hills drew nearer, and eventually, one larger hill bore an opening, conveniently large enough for a man-sized object to fit through…
Entering the hillside cave proved easily enough, after cautiously checking the surrounding hills for more tunnels. Once within the hill, the narrow tunnel opened into a small expanse. It was hard to believe it could be a natural occurance, but the interior of the hill was not worked, only tended it seemed. There were small fence-like perimiters set up in several places, perhaps for gardening, but they had been overrun by large fungi and a multitude of weeds. Slowly and carefully exploring the area, no signs of life (non-plantlike, anyway) drew the attention of the players. And so, Anthony set about invenstigating the overrun weed patches for the alleged Tarrowroot.
It didn’t take long for him to tell the unique root apart from the rest of the weeds. Somehow, he got the feeling that the plant had restorative properties, confirming what Isova had told them before. The plant’s purple base was a dead giveaway, and he managed to find several in the first few gardens. But there were clearly more gardens.
Upon approaching one such garden in the north end of the cave, the largest one in fact, the party slowed. They investigated thoroughly before deciding to form a “police line” of sorts to search the last garden, each taking a quarter of the patch. The weeds, having grown unchecked for some time, were dense and tall. In the northernmost section, Anthony noticed a slight disturbance before he found himself in a small cloud of what he determined to be pollen. Before they knew it, the group was engaged in deadly combat with an enemy they could hardly tell from the weeds they were searching in.
After dealing with the unwelcome guests, the party resumed gathering the remaining Tarrowroot, eager to be out of the heavy air within the cave.
Upon returning to Siseneg, they are once more ‘greeted’ by gate guardsmen, who lazily allow them to pass, though they seem wary of Nick’s rather large sword. They can be noticed whispering amongst themselves as the party moves out of sight.
Isova graciously accepts the Tarrowroot samples, though she is also concerned with Anthony’s condition. She gets right to work brewing something as she listens to the party’s story. As she hands Anthony a potion, she says she will get to work right away preparing the solutions. The curious party asks more about Livek Rej. Mentioning his name seems to illicit a frown from the witch as she explains more.
He is a greedy, evil, vile, “sleazebag” of a man. Livek Rej is the current “ruler” of our once-peaceful city-state. His recent takeover of the city has not gone over well with a majority of the populace, but Rej had apparently had the scheme in the works for some time. He had infiltrated much of the city’s political system and even the more influential citizens. When push came to shove, he did not hesitate to unveil his trump card: his own personal army. While not especially large, it was sufficient to put down any resistance from what remained of the city’s militia, after many of them opted to join Rej to escape death. They are mostly marauders and sellswords, and have been growing bored of late. The camp to the south is what remains of the city’s loyal militia and guardsmen, and it’s located in the small network of caves to the southwest of the city. As Siseneg is more of a melting pot and as we deal mostly as a trading hub rather than a full-fledged country, we rarely have to worry about invasions from other governments. It is fitting that our downfall came from within, though the true purpose behind Rej’s actions eludes me. There is little to gain from controlling Siseneg except profit, perhaps, though it seems an unlikely motivation for one such as Rej… But at this point, I am convinced there is someone backing him.
Anyway, the camp consists of maybe two score able men, armed and trained, though whether they are motivated at this point is questionable. I had been receiving messages from the camp the past few weeks, but just last week, no message came. They’ve either lost all hope and moved on, or something has happened to them. If you could at least investiagte this for me, so I know the truth, I would be grateful. If they ARE still there, it may be that you can convince them that we can fight back against Rej. I will give you one of my special draughts in the morning. Using the Tarrowroot you brought me, we can convince them that we have a chance.
Before settling down for the night, the players tended to different tasks. Anthony, now feeling better since his encounter with he Musk Creeper, spent some time aiding Isova with her brewing. Tony was granted access to the witch’s tomes for research. Nick and Gina took a brief stroll through the neighborhood, trying to gather some information about the citizens and the guards. Before retiring for the night, Nick set about making a pick for Anthony’s guitar while they all relaxed. Anthony played a quiet tune and the group discussed their predicament, their thoughts on what happened to Chris, and their plans for the near future.