After returning to Oakmaul, the party spends the following day resting and enjoying their heroic accolades. But before sunset Brother Amaar discovers that he has been robbed!
All of the documents he had saved from the room of Reoch Sinarette are gone from his pack, replaced by blank sheets of parchment and velum.
As the missing documentation was illicitly gained in the first place, no mention of it is made to the authorities, but Melamber and Brother Amaar do ask Under Sheriff Fulcrum Stonewarden to finally unseal Sinarette’s apartment in the hopes of regaining as much information as possible. Now that Thom Dranik is in custody and given adequate testimony, Stonewarden agrees.
Meanwhile, Essoq and Baragon spend the day enjoying the lavish gratitude of the people of Oakmaul at the Black Candle Inn. Baragon enjoys his wine as much as the next guy, but he sees that Essoq quite suddenly starts drinking in silence with a mirthless, reckless determination. When Baragon suggests to the tundra dwarf that he might be overdoing it he is met with a hostile, “Step off! Can’t you see I am busy?”
Baragon turns to leave, but just as he gets to the door there is a bizarre explosion of vines and strangling plants up through the floor boards! He cannot move!
“Essoq, help me!” he cries.
“Be right there… Just lemme finish sumthin’ firss.” The dwarf replies, and inexplicably continues to drink his wine!
It is then that a cloaked man steps out of the booth nearest the door. He is a fighting man with a round face, braided auburn hair and large gray eyes. He wears chain mail and wields a mace and shield. He walks over to Baragon and claps the trapped Northman into irons!
“Relax,” he says, “you are a hero after all.”
Essoq drops down from his bar stool to challenge the auburn haired man, dragging his axe behind him, but then he stops and goes back to the bar!
“Almos’ got it,” he says, and then continues to drink even more!
Back at the Horse and Toad, Melamber and Brother Amaar finish up with their fact-finding. With the under sheriff standing right there watching them the whole time they are forced to leave empty-handed. They do however leave with a greatly reinforced knowledge of the environments of the darker regions of the Byrnwood Forest and possible details of The Three Wardens.
As soon as they open the door they are greeted by a wiry-looking man leaning against the wall and artfully spinning a set of manacles around on his finger.
“Good morrow, friends. I am afraid I must insist on your company. Now, if you promise to behave, I can put these rude things away.”
At the far end of the hall at the top of the stairs stands Sheriff Grahm Aerlim, arms crossed and a sour look on his face.
“It would be best if you do as he asks,” he says.
They are taken to the grange hall and made to sit in judgment along with the captured Baragon and the stupefied, snoring Essoq. Thom Dranik is also there, still in chains, and it is then that they learn that they are indeed in the custody of the Order of The Cerulean Centipede, a detachment of The Azure Guard. Only Falco is absent.
Baragon remains in irons and has sat in silent rage ever since he was arrested at the Black Candle Inn, not even giving his name.
Essoq as it turns out, was suffering from a suggestion spell, the suggestion being “See how many flagons of this human wine you can drink before you pass out.” The answer was 11.
The Azure Guard has come! And these are the charges:
• Creation of a restricted arcane device or automaton.
• Trespassing against a Gloomhallow Marker.
• Breaking an Official Seal of The Azure Guard (three counts).
• Trespassing against an Official Seal of The Azure Guard (three counts).
• Murder by way of Arcane means (16 counts).
And so the trial begins!
Residing over these proceedings is the Magistrate Ava Haldorian, a Talian woman long in years and with silver hair though clearly still energetic and filled with purpose.
While Thom is the obvious focus of these grave accusations, the party finds that they too are being charged with the Trespassing transgressions. Potentially they could all be mandated into hard labor for up to five years!
It is then that Alderman Gylan Vaughey appears along with Falco who holds a leather satchel.
Vaughey gives testimony that the party should be exonerated due to the fact that they were agents working under the direction of the newly appointed Under-Sheriff Falco Darkshroud! Vaughey further details that the appointment was kept secret to better facilitate Darkshroud’s investigations into the attack of the Bronze Man as detailed in The Voice at Eon’s Edge: The Forbidden Archives of Tal Ziel Part 1.
“Is this true?” Haldorian asks of Sheriff Aerlim.
After a moment of thought, Sheriff Aerlim confirms himself as a witness to Falco’s official appointment and further elaborates that he was sworn to keep the matter confidential.
Fulcrum Stonewarden spits something angry in Dethic and storms out of the grange.
After order is restored, Falco presents the leather satchel to the court. It is filled with all of the remaining documentation that was gathered from the apartment of Reoch Sinarette; evidence of the mysterious man’s long obsession with statues of bronze and the ethereal treasures of Byrnwood Forest.
The trial continues and further testimony is given. At the end of the day, as it is determined by the court that the party was engaged in a Lawful Pursuit within the jurisdictions of the Oakmaul Charter, all charges against the party members are dismissed. Thom Dranik is remanded into custody until his involvement in these crimes is fully understood, and the focus clearly shifts to the matter of bringing Reoch Sinarette to justice.
Latter that evening at The Horse and Toad, the party gathers for perhaps the last time at the request of “Under-Sheriff” Falco Darkshroud.
Falco maintains that the alderman had secretly approached him the night of the attack despite arguments from Brother Amaar about the timeline of events. To the cleric everything seems “… shadowed with untruths.”
“What does it matter, my pious friend?” Falco answers. “You spoke only the truth- your conscious is clear. And the good alderman now knows the worth of our skills and determination. He understands the value of good men.”
“Why do you say this? What have you promised him?” Baragon asks.
“For now, nothing more than friendship. Relax! Enjoy your drink!”
The party then discusses what they will do next.
Brother Amaar: “Sinarette is still at large. We should find him!”
Melamber: “That is not realistic. By now he has gone to ground.”
Baragon: “I am no man’s henchman! Tomorrow I leave for Noyo Harbor to find my son!”
Essoq: “Can you guys keep it down? I’m still hung wicked aweful…”
It is then that Garr Harada, the scribe from the trial enters the Horse and Toad. He spies the party out and joins them.
“Good evening, brave servants of Oakmaul. Tomorrow Magistrate Haldorian rides for the Archive of Tal Ziel to reseal the Forbidden Archives. She would have you join her to offer counsel, as you are familiar with its layout and workings. What say you?”
Game Session Ends