After resting, the party headed back to town with surprising speed. Baba Yaga’s hut had disappeared but the tracks went upstream.
Arriving at the edge of the forest caused a stir in the hands in the field. When the party got closer, they saw the foreman run off towards the gate and have a conversation – all they could see were repeated shrugs of his shoulders.
In the field, they could only see their own people from Ys. One woman walked over carrying a small child on her back – the same woman that the Tiefling Cleric and Gnome Fighter had rescued from a collapsing building back on Ys.
But that woman had been holding a newborn as they escaped, and as far as the party were concerned, barely a month had passed. The child was fast approaching a year in age.
The woman filled the group in – they’ve been gone in the forest for more than six months. The King and his court have cracked down heavily, imprisoning many of the former Ysian guards and the able-bodied men from the ships. The main ship hasn’t been dismantled yet, but some of the smaller boats have. She’s been working the fields to survive, as they give her a roof over her head and food for herself and the child.
When the foreman turns back from the gate, the party beats a hasty retreat back to the edge of the forest.
Time passes, and eventually, two guards emerge from the gate along with another man. They head towards the fields, speak with the foreman, and then the guards and the foreman head towards the forest. The other man has taken over watching the workers in the field.
A few of the party venture forwards to meet them, others hide and prepare an ambush.
The guards appear to want to talk, though the foreman keeps cutting in with difficult questions. He seems to want the guards to arrest the party.
The guards eventually get tired. One hits the foreman hard, and catches him before he falls.
The guards begin to walk towards the forest, carrying and dragging the foreman upright, telling the party that they need to talk.
In the forest, it turns out that the guards are two of Blind Nico’s men. He’s been waiting for the party to return, but in the meantime, a curfew has been put in place. With the curfew, Nico’s… totally legitimate business ventures are put at risk.
The plan is, the guards ‘arrest’ the party as the foreman has been plotting treason with them. Once back inside the city walls, the party escapes and hides.
To make sure the foreman doesn’t give the game away, one of the guards takes out a cosh and plans to break his jaw, but the Human Ranger decides he wants to do it.
Tied up, and with the party loosely tied at the wrists, the guards drag the foreman back to the city.
Once in the city, the party spots the old abandoned temple, and comes up with a plan. They ‘escape’ at a road junction and all go separate ways. The Tabaxi Fighter and Gnome Rogue (he’s been there the whole time guys, honest) take to the rooftops, the Kobold throws up his hood and disappears down an alleyway, the Gnome Fighter and Tiefling Cleric do the same in the other direction, and the Human Ranger runs up the street, around the corner, and immediately slows to a walk. He decides to play his flute – which he does very very badly.
Arriving at the temple first, the Tabaxi pushes open the door slightly. It’s slightly stuck in the door jam.
Inside the place is dark and disused. There’s not much left inside except an altar, and three doors.
He immediately heads for the door behind the altar. He finds a room clearly used since the temple was abandoned, though probably untouched for months. There are no valuables save a couple of holy symbols – one made of marble, another of brass – which he pockets.
The Gnome Rogue arrives and spots a hole in the roof. He climbs the walls and goes for a look. He finds a pigeon on the roof, which he befriends with crumbs of food.
The others all arrive, taking up stations by the door to watch or exploring in the temple. The Kobold and Gnome Fighter look at the door to the right – unlocked and recently used, well cleaned, with a bed and possessions neatly arranged. The Kobold rummages, whilst the Gnome heads for a ladder in the corner and the wooden door at the top. Outside is a small parapet with steps to a garden, and steps up to another parapet. He investigates the garden – a single door, locked.
He returns inside to tell everyone what he’s found, to find the Kobold now sat on the bed reading his book.
The Tabaxi Fighter tries the third door – locked. Forcing it open, the room is dark, and he immediately spots someone in a bed. A woman screams, and a powerful gust of forceful wind hits him and pushes him back. When her hands begin to crackle with blue sparks, he quickly exits, and the door is locked behind him.
Through the door, he attempts a conversation.
It… doesn’t go well. Her name is Zvezda Verchernaya, she’s a priest. She asked if anyone else had strayed out of the temple proper and was told no.
It was at about that point that the Gnome Fighter tried to open the other door to her room. She was not happy at all at that point, but someone managed to calm her down.
The idea of a criminal meeting happening in the temple wasn’t something she was happy about, but knowing it was to help in an attempt to overthrow the King was a definite plus. The various priests had tried a few times to oust him, with no success.
She headed into her sister’s room, and locked that door too.
When Nico arrived, he brought one of the guards from earlier, this time out of uniform. Curfew was fast approaching, and whilst there were ways around it, they were trickier.
Nico had found a way into the Palace and the prison as asked, and whilst he wanted to be paid, he’d be happy with having some of his people back and the King removed.
Now all that was needed was some form of distraction, so the party could sneak in through a tunnel by the docks.
As if by magic, Verchernaya reappeared, following after her sister Danica who was extremely upset about someone going through her things.
The Kobold apologised.
However, having convinced the Leshy of their noble intentions, and having been given the task of retrieving the King’s soul by one of the other priests, the sisters agreed to rally the priests of the Old Gods to join with Nico’s gang to provide the distraction that the party needs.
Now, on with the show!