Standing on the battlements, looking down on the ravaged fortress, the members of the Party feel oddly depressed and somber. They are not alone in this. Very few of the Militia feel like celebrating, and those who do, quickly subside, noticing the lack of participation from the others. With nothing else to do, the Party returns to the ground floor and wanders out the gate. Along the way, they dispense what little healing remains to them, while more mundane healers do what they can. Amrun parts with the Party, naturally wishing to be with his family. He will take them home and have them cared for, then try to rebuild their lives and their ranch. He fondly embraces each member of the Party, even taking the time to rout out Vindle for thanks.
The Mayor and Constable exchange a few words with the Party, quickly thanking them, then informing them they are free to rest and return to town. They will all reconvene tomorrow and discuss matters. Instead of going all the way back to town, Amrun puts them up at Opal House. Not feeling very hungry (though they should) all fall into a deep and late sleep.
Next day, the Party meets with the Mayor and Constable, both of whom look in need of rest. Much has happened since the previous afternoon. Many prisoners have been interrogated; communication south has been reestablished, most importantly with the capital city of Pecs (“Paych”). The mystery of the late vessels and vanishing tower repairs has been partially solved. Every time a southbound vessel came along, the entire garrison hid, and the Commander had a mysterious powder sprinkled on the new construction/repairs, after which they turned invisible. All northbound traffic was stopped, the crews taken to the tower, the vessels searched for communications, and then, after a while, the dazed, somnambulant crews were taken back aboard and dropped off upriver. Eventually they would regain their senses with no memory of the events. A few of the bandits think the rod (that the creature took from the Commander) had something to do with the interrogations, but this is largely speculation. It also seems that the Riverhills area was lucky. Apparently, this incursion was a concerted effort of some sort, and was only discovered because of ill discipline amongst the bandits. There was meant to be no raiding or banditry until the Commander ordered it. If that had happened, it’s likely no defense could have been mustered in time. Word has come that this is not an isolated event and that other communities along the Kalifaan coast have not been as fortunate.
With this disturbing and incomplete news, the Party is informed that they have been summoned to the Capital. There they are likely to receive more information. A vessel has been readied to take them across the bay to Pecs, and they are to set off immediately.
After another round of thanks and goodbye’s, they board the skiff (after a bit of trouble with the horses) and set off. The journey will take at least four hours beating against the wind and the Party takes the opportunity for more rest and to admire the view of Aurelian Bay, shining in the autumn sun, full of ships and boats going about their many businesses. After the first hour, Pecs itself comes into view, glittering on its promontory at the mouth of the bay, the sails of the many watercraft flitting about her shores like a crowd of admirers. While not terribly large, through good fortune and good management, Pecs has grown into a rich and beautiful city.
Arriving, they are met by a guide and first taken to their pleasant lodgings, where they leave their animals and belongings. After, they are then escorted to the Palace where they are to meet with some Very Important People. As they are guided down a hallway, another group of somewhat bedraggled “adventurer” looking persons are being escorted in the other direction and politely nod as they pass.
Entering a large room, the Party is introduced to Kalfaa’s top General and Admiral, and the Duke himself. Here the Party learns that, yes, the rumors are true, there HAVE been many such incursions up and down nearly the entire coast of Kalifaa, some more successful, some less. Indeed, in some parts, the “bandits” are holding territory. Prisoner interrogations indicate that the bandits are (or were) expecting some sort of reinforcements, almost certainly from the sea. This obviously sounds more like an invasion than a series of coincidental bandit raids. The Army (Kalifaa’s is not terribly large.) is on the move, and reserves are being mustered, The Navy, likewise is blockading every bandit held port and heavily patrolling the rest of the coastline. More interestingly, several prisoners are from Kalifaa’s rival, Kunac, a few, including the commander of the Riverhills assault, seem to have been (at least formerly) members of Kunac’s military. Though nothing has been found to suggest any direct or active involvement, there are enough prisoners, and a few documents, that make it worth investigating.
Bern and Ardadan are still subject to emergency orders, but the Duke is a polite Dwarf, and asks the entire party to aid Kalifaa. He would like them to make their way to Kunac and attempt to discover whether or not there is any official and/or direct connection to these attacks. The Party wonders why, a State like Kalifaa doesn’t already have spies in Kunac. The Duke explains that, in an effort to relieve tensions between the two countries, he had recalled all the spies and agents a few years ago. He admits that this was a shortsighted mistake, and again, requests their aid.
For their various reasons, not least the desire to further learn the reasons for all the trouble and strange events in their lives, the entire Party agrees. Pleased, the Duke informs them of the generous terms of their employment, and then lets them know they have the rest of today, and a bit of tomorrow morning to prepare. They will then take ship and head south to a port city in Krelm. From there, they will make arrangements to travel to the island of Ceata. In Ceata, they will then take ship again for Buecopolis, the capital of Kunac.
Note: At this point there was an extended discussion regarding the “extraneous” characters like Bigulf. If we wanted, this was a good juncture for parting ways. In the end though the players had grown fond of all the characters, so the Party remained intact.