The first day of the Emerald Qualifiers comes to an end. The team finished and were placed for the second day of the qualifiers in the Test of Body. Afterwards, Rainer informed the party that they were invited by Lady Aurelia, a trusted friend of Lapin Hornraven, to her estate in the Gold District (or Noble Road). The party made their way to the estate, unsure of what awaited them once they arrived as long, dark shadows began to take hold over the city of Lastil-Taswell.
The late afternoon easily entered into dusk by the time Team BAJA made their way from the fairgrounds in the Emerald Square to the larger estate housing in the Gold District. The variety and grandeur of the estates within Noble Road were drastic contrasts to the more urban designs in the various districts of Taswell. A two-story mansion that nearly covered the width of three small shops from the Sapphire Square, made of white stone with a soft reddish rooftop. A few ornaments of golden sigils rested along some of the windows or balconies, there was a single guard stationed at the iron gate before the wooden door. Rainer informed the guard they were expected, the armored man nodded in acknowledgement and gestured them toward the door, before the group finished walking through the gate and up a few steps, am older gentlemen welcomed them into the home. Inside the home, bone-colored tiles littered along the main floor and entry foyer, there was a single circular table that welcomed the party as they filed in from the approaching night. The servant escorted the group through the mansion’s halls to a room with its double doors wide open, inside the room were several bookshelves, some large sofas placed over a large oval rug facing the fireplace on the opposite of the threshold.
Lady Aurelia stood at the mouth of the fireplace, turning to greet the party and offering them a place to sit. The lady was a young woman roughly in her thirties, brown curled hair that draped along one shoulder with a well-made red and white dress. The dress did little to reveal anything as the dress covered up to her neck, but it could not hide her slender frame. There was an measure of grace and precision with her movements and gestures, almost automatic or rehearsed, granted for a Taswellian noble it was common practice to entertain guests in their abodes and this was no different of a situation. The lady studied her guests as they made their way into the study, a few taking seats in the sofa, Jimmy Moon sat on the rug while Brightiron and Arcaelus preferred to stand. The wizard’s curiosity with the many books in the room provided an ample distraction, he did not enjoy such calls or meetings but knew there of its importance, preferring to let the more inclined or familiar individuals take point in driving the conversation and only interjecting when needed.
Aurelia introduced herself to the party and informed Rainer that Lapin Hornraven was missing during a recent mission for the security of Lastil-Taswell. The halfling inquired more, learning that the infamous Hornraven was always a close friend and confidant to Lady Aurelia in the past, wanting to learn more about the recent civil unrest brewing in the city by various religious fanatics. Tensions were rising with the lower class along with crime activity, vandalisms, and even acts of arson. Aurelia suspected that these religious fanatics were the cause for the unrest and rising tensions, which prompted her to call on Hornraven to investigate these cultists. Unfortunately, the noblewoman had not heard word from Lapin for several weeks and has grown worried for her friend’s safety and whatever nefarious schemes were hidden behind the shadows. The last message from Hornraven suggested a possible impending revolt or uprising, possibly a greater ploy from these cultists and their leaders.
Jimmy Moon voiced his concerns especially with finding Hornraven, who was his human mother. Aurelia smiled graciously, remarking about the few stories she heard about the half-elf son of Lapin. Most notably, Aydan grew tense as the group began discussion with what their next objective needed to be. The tiefling sorceress wandered from the study and into a sort of trophy room adorned with sets of armor, coat of arms, paintings, and sculptures.
“It is very good to see you again,” Lady Aurelia commented from the threshold. Aydan promptly looked from her shoulder, partially startled.
“Yes, it has been a long time, I suppose.”
“You were very young when you came to this house, but I fondly remember your parents and you as a babe,” the Lady continued. The noblewoman traversed through the room with an unmistakable grace and poise of someone of higher upbringing but not a hint of the arrogance that normally accompanied it. Instead, a sort of soft and gentle demeanor that suggested peace and calm in the face of any situation.
“You knew my parents?” The tiefling asked.
“They were good friends of my brother Salazar, they came several times to this home with him. They were looking for something, always off to another expedition to search some ancient ruin or temple. Salazar was not the same after he returned home after their deaths. The last I saw of you, you barely could walk but now I stand before a proud woman. I wish this reunion could’ve happened on better circumstances but the fates seem to have a greater play at hand.” Aurelia commented, seemingly worried about the entire ordeal.
“Why would you say that?” Aydan inquired.
“Think about it, Rainer was a friend of Lapin Hornraven. Your half-elf friend, Jimmy is the son of Lord Galenodel and Lapin, and then you arrive with them in tow. Three coincidences, three souls strung along an invisible string of fate. An omen I find both a humbling and troubling.” The noblewoman observed, her brow contorted as she went into deeper thought and tried to make sense of everything happening.
Eventually the rest of the group find Aurelia and Aydan, concluding that the best possible approached would be to find more information from either the Nest or Timeaus Randor himself or warn the tournament organizers while looking to the cultists that Lapin had investigated before her lack of communication. It was agreed that Rainer, Brightiron, Aydan went off to either infiltrate the cultists or find one of their leaders and have a one-on-one conversation with them. Meanwhile, Arcaelus, Gilda, and Jimmy would try to get word out to the Emerald Qualifier organizers like the Purple Order and Lord Galenodel of a possible danger with the upcoming event.
Brightiron, Rainer, and Aydan made their way to the docks located south of the Sapphire Square, there was a small crowd brewing near one of the warehouses. Almost forty to fifty men rallied in front of a man dressed in red robes with a rather concealing red helmet, his speech consisted of denouncing the existence of the gods and that a greater god will shepherd them to salvation and better lives ahead. This “priest” preached about an Elder Elemental Eye who could see all the events that were to come and know the inner mysteries to life itself, promising unity and salvation from the harsh life that the impoverished suffered. Once the local officers and militia passed by to disperse the crowd, the trio approached the retreating “priest”.
Aydan recognized that this red “priest” had created a sort of suggestive aura and questioned why he could need to use such tactics if his words were genuine. The “priest” countered that they were part of his nature and the blessings of the Elder Elemental Eye. Brightiron and Rainer thought it best to take this “priest” named the Red Sun for questioning with Aurelia and possibly the Purple Order. As the goliath barbarian went to reach for the priest, a black flame swirled between them and a hooded assailant with black leather armor in a tattered black cloak emerged. The assailant wielded two kukris, each poised to strike Brightiron before the barbarian stopped in his tracks. Rainer instinctively recognized the assailant, a fanatical assassin named Blackfire, the halfling warned Brightiron and told him to stand down. The goliath was not pleased with letting their query leave, let alone allow someone who pointed a weapon at him to leave unharmed. Aydan agreed with the halfling, believing there could have been more adversaries and rather not risk being flanked. Brightiron bitterly allowed the Red Sun to leave, the assassin known as Blackfire escorted his charge with a whisk of his black cloak and the sudden flare of black fire and smoke.
“Is he very strong?” Brightiron asked.
“Very, quite crazy as well.” Rainer replied, equally annoyed with letting the Red Sun escape. Knowing that they would return to their friends and Lady Aurelia empty-handed, and not one step closer to uncovering the sort of conspiracy plaguing the city.
“I can’t wait to smash his skull in,” the goliath scowled.
The group returned and shared what they learned and what proceedings were accomplished, with so little information the group believed it was best to wait until the cultists make their move. Guessing into the dark would not help them at all. At night, Rainer went out and found Cecil, Timeaus Randor’s proxy, and informed the blond-haired woman of the possible conspiracy and imminent revolt ahead. The proxy smiled and graciously thanked the halfling for the information, she informed the halfling that Timeaus had been aware of growing tensions but knowing that was possibly sooner would aid him immensely. Rainer returned to Lady Aurelia’s estate with the rest of the party and slept until morning. As the sun rose higher into the sky and noon approached, the group returned to the fairgrounds in the Emerald Square as the second day of the Emerald Qualifiers began. The test of body began, as the event passed through their second tourney, the sound of explosions and electrical discharge filled the air. The sound of screams from the audience as robed individuals charged into the crowd with daggers and blades, killing dozens with the first minute. Far off, more distant sounds of explosions and fires erupted throughout the city, the cultists have finally struck.
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