30th of Jularon:
As the Stars, Golems, and guards aboard the Axe House ship stood, bleeding and in stunned silence, Vara jumped into action. She ordered the ship rowed back to the docks, along with the Stars and Golems, and the remaining teams to be taken back to the shore with Thorne’s ship, to continue the rest of the day’s events. Vara rode with the Axe House ship, and once inside Silverwatch Fort, took Wyverna aside as the others were taken to the medical tent to see to their injuries.
Vara showed little concern for the safety of Scult, the Cleaver, and Geldon, seeming more upset with their absence than any peril they might currently be in. The Stars wanted to assist in any way they could, but were unsure of what they could do to help, seeing that the Cleaver and Geldon had already taken things into their own hands. Corvus demanded action, raising the question of whether or not they should leave in pursuit of their newly found friend, but the others convinced him that there was little they could do at the moment.
Wyverna returned shortly after, holding a Falling Stars tabard, and announced that she was now a member of their team, and, until she heard otherwise, the temporary and unofficial head of Axe House. The Stars mentioned that they suspected Vara was likely more interested in Wyverna joining the Stars than she was, but were thankful for another member, if they continued to compete in the games after Scult’s abduction.
While the Stars discussed things, Janos pulled out the scroll given to him by the water sprite, determining that it was written on some sort of reptilian leather. The writing itself was a series of small drawings, showing the eye and mouths of what appeared to be screaming faces. Quinn dug through his bag and found an old, bloodstained poem they had discovered during the Rite, with a line of “up the screaming walls”. Together, the Stars agreed that the landmark, which they had only seen from a distance, weeks ago, was likely the location of the next event – a long way from Silverwatch Fort.
The event itself seemed secret, with only the time and day given, the 5th of Augos, which would give the Stars 5 days to reach the screaming walls. The Weapon and Magical Mastery 1v1s had been postponed for the week, reinforcing their theory that they would need to make the trek through Farhoon during the week. Returning to the pens, the Stars were exhausted and elected for an early night, though some stayed up later to notice that once again, there was no Razza, and no lights from Farhoon.
1st of Augos:
Along with most of the other teams (excluding the Giant Golems, who were still in the medical tent back in Silverwatch Fort), the Stars awoke early and met Wyverna in the training yard behind Axe House, shortly after dawn. Wyverna explained that although she had no official authority in the Cleaver’s absence, and though there was no official requirement for the teams to continue their training, it was in their best interest, as the Cleaver would surely return and hold them accountable. Wyverna then gathered the Stars and led them out of Axe House while the other teams seemed to disband and head back to bed.
Wyverna took the Stars through the portal in the storehouse and into Silverwatch House, where a tired Vara led them down to the Fort to meet Vesh the Warden, who had just loudly announced his return with the fugitive, Nimbles. Vesh turned Nimbles over to the Silverwatch guards and argued with Vara for a few minutes over wasting his time, until she spoke to him privately for a moment, getting his hopes up and seeming to charge him with another (more exciting) task. As Vesh left, Vara invited Wyverna and the Stars to join her in the cells beneath Silverwatch House. Before leaving, Vesh stated matter-of-factly that the other fugitives on the postboard were easily found, with Silas being in Dagger House, and Rak the Jackal being in Buccaneer’s Bay.
Inside, Vara had Janos attempt to learn some information about the Black Lotus from an imprisoned pirate, then led Wyverna, Corvus, and Quinn into a cell with Nimbles and locked it from inside. Once unshackled, Nimbles seemed to almost disappear in the tiny, empty cell, giving up when he realized there was no escape. As Vara interrogated him about his activity and actions in and around Silverwatch, Nimbles seemed surprised that he wasn’t immediately killed, accusing Vara and her tournament teams of hunting him and attempting to kill him, specifically the Flock of Falcons, a team in Dagger House.
The Stars and Vara were told the following by Nimbles:
- One of the Soaring Eagles was a militia member from Liras Menevol and had stumbled upon and recognized Nimbles, and the team was killed by the Flock of Falcons when the Eagles tried to apprehend him.
- Nimbles took something from a noble in Liras Menevol, a “golden rod” of some sort, and has since been hunted relentlessly. The rod, he claimed, was safe in his safety deposit box in the Evervault, an impenetrable magical bank.
- At first it was just thugs in Liras Menevol, but recently it appears that someone has put a lot of time and money into hiring mercenaries, specifically members of the Birdseye Gang, to find him.
- Nimbles seemed fully aware of the Crone, the many Silverwatch Outposts, and until Vesh did not seem to have much trouble evading the authorities of Silverwatch and the Forever Endeavor Trading Co.
- Nimbles also seemed aware that the man called Thorne was not the real Thorne, but an imposter, though he didn’t know much else about him.
Vara then left Nimbles and the Stars alone while she conferred with some other guards, then pulled Janos out of the cell and reunited the team with Nimbles. She informed them that with little other choice and few people she could trust, she must take the Cleaver’s word that she can rely upon Wyverna and the rest of the Stars, and reluctantly charged them with a secretive task: to disguise Nimbles as a member of their team and along the way to the next event, deep within Farhoon Forest, meet with the Crone and deliver Nimbles to her. Once he performed a task for the Crone, he would be released, and Silverwatch would ensure his safety and pay for his time.
Vara went on to explain that Thorne had disappeared, and they were searching for him (hence, Vesh’s arrival in Silverwatch), and that the Crone was the key to finding him, but needed Nimbles to assist her in doing so. She promised Nimbles that no harm would come to him unless he ran off, in which case she would personally hunt him down and kill him. She threatened the Stars with similar consequences, should they fail her.
The Stars were to return the next day at dawn to retrieve Nimbles and head into the forest, and they were released to prepare for the week’s excusion.
Remembering Vesh’s claim that Silas Ridmore was hiding out in Dagger House, the Stars decided to use Wyverna’s medallion to teleport back to the pens and investigate. As they entered the storehouse, a large commotion could be heard outside. Dagger House was ablaze; teams and guards ran back and forth to the well trying to douse the flames, and someone screamed that they saw someone still inside. No strange to fire, Janos pulled his cloak over his head and dashed in and up the stairs to the team quarters. Inside the Flock of Falcons room, he discovered an elf, bound and bloodied, tied to a chair that had fallen over. He pulled the ropes off and slung her over his shoulder, carrying her out to safety.
The girl was dead, but had been beaten and tortured. In his forehead was the same burned signet as they had found on the guard in Farhoon. The elf wore strange ranger garb, unfamiliar to the tournament, but the Stars recognized her as a member of the Serrated Seekers, an all-elven team that had left the tournament shortly after the hunt, supposedly being sent home. On the elf’s hood was a strange wooden mask, one that Quinn recognized from the strange lurkers in Farhoon.
Shortly after, Silverwatch mages came running out of the storehouse and put the flames out, though there was little to salvage of Dagger House.
The Flock of Falcons were nowhere to be found, and the Stars began to put the pieces together. Backed up by the word of Nimbles and Vorle (from the Crashing Waves), the Flock of Falcons seemed to have been involved or implicated in a number of strange deaths thus far. Their members Kaz (a kenku) seemed to have ties to the birdseye gang, and as they asked around, it appeared that the wanted man Silas Ridmore had indeed been a part of their team, going by the name Riley Sisco. Janos mentioned that while inside, he had seen the Flock of Falcon’s tabards strewn across the floor, their lantern smashed. Wherever they were, it appeared they had no plans of returning to the pens.
The Stars made their way back to Silverwatch to prepare supplies, visiting Porbo for some portions, and investing in some elven rope, which many of the other teams seemed to be purchasing. The party then returned to the pens to rest for the next day’s journey.
2nd of Augos:
The Stars awoke at dawn and met Vara and Nimbles at Silverwatch House. Nimbles was adorned in a Falling Stars tabard, and given a hood and cloak to conceal his identity. Nimbles said he knew the way, and Wyverna was given instructions for signaling Silverwatch Outposts as they passed by.
With that, Nimbles led the Stars out into Farhoon, the blind half-elf moving quickly and effortlessly through the heavy brush as the other struggled to keep pace. Along the way, Nimbles found several metal traps laid in the paths, and easily disarmed them, storing them in a sack for later.
A few hours in, the group came across the first of many Silverwatch outpost (similar to the one they had found the dead guard in, during the Rite). The guards appeared to have been notified of their impending arrival and sent them on their way. Up top, Quinn and Janos noticed a small crystal object – a signaling orb used to send the colored messages at night, they assumed.
Later that day, the group came across the hanging body of a dead tiefling, who Janos recognized as Dalosh, who he had briefly talked during a bout in the Arkane Spires. Around his neck was a wooden sign, with meticulously written common, which read “may your evil soul forever wander in the darkness”. Janos told the others that he suspected the Golden Lions were responsible, as they had made similar threats to him, and the party swore to be on their guard once they returned to the fort. Corvus and Janos buried the tiefling with as much ceremony as could be given, and the Stars continued on their way.
The night was uneventful. The others kept watch to ensure that Nimbles didn’t run off in the night. The half-elf slept high in a tree, coming down at one point to extinguish the fire.
3rd of Augos:
The next morning, Nimbles led the Stars further into Farhoon, and skirted the edge of a stone path that seemed familiar to the Stars. They mentioned that such paths were usually a sign that a Black Guard was nearby, and Nimbles took a few minutes to explain the benefits of the Guard. They protect a specific area, he said, and kill any humanoid that enters it. He said that he always slept or stayed near a Black Guard, when possible, as they would scare off everyone else – the Stars mused that this might have been one of the secrets as to how Nimbles went uncaptured for so long.
Later that day, Nimbles led the Stars to the next outpost – or rather, where the next outpost should have been. The fort had been ripped down from the tree and torn to pieces. Within the ruins, the party noticed jagged scratches similar to the ones they’d seen before, as well as some new, different marks, something much sharper. Having seen the claws of drakes many a time, Wyverna guessed that a creature with similar claws made some of the marks, possibly the tiger hawk Razza. Words scrawled in demonic gave a clue as to the other marks: “I TOO HAVE PETS. YOU SHALL MEET THEM. VERY SOON, BOY.”
That evening, Nimbles stopped the party when they came across another Black Guard, suggesting they stay there for the night. The night was mostly uneventful, though at some point Wyverna heard some strange bird noises, and noticed Nimbles leave for an hour or so. When he returned, he said everything was fine, and the party slept until dawn.
4th of Augos:
The next day, the party climbed a large hill in the south and, through an opening in the treeline, could see a large clearing, far to the east. The clearing itself looked to have been part of the forest, but the hundreds of stumps in the area showed that the trees had been chopped down (some, recently, they assumed, as no overgrowth was present in the area).
In the middle of the clearing was a large structure of wood forming the base skeleton of a building, which Corvus recognized as being quite similar to Silverwatch House. Atop the structure flew a large flag or cloth, though the party couldn’t make out much more. Several worn dirt paths seemed to stem to and from the structure and the treeline of the forest, hundreds of yards away.
In the distance, straight south, the Stars could make out the wailing faces of the Screaming Walls, though Nimbles then led the Stars deeper into Farhoon, far from the path leading to the next event near the Screaming Walls.
That afternoon, the Stars came across a deep valley, lined with stones from an ancient dwarven structure. At the bottom, the party could see a human girl wearing a tournament tabard, bleeding and injured, next to a smashed Lantern of Lo’er. Upon seeing them, she screamed for help, and Corvus and Wyverna jumped down to help her. Her name was Mura and she was a member of the Trampling Trolls, she said, as Corvus worked to stop the bleeding. She told the Stars that her friends had been taken inside the nearby crypt. She pointed to the dark doorway a dozen feet away, leading into the earth. From inside, an echo of a screaming girl could be heard.
Mura begged the Stars to help her, and they reluctantly agreed, sensing that things felt like a trap. Nimbles was less subtle, declaring that he doesn’t trust people he can’t see, and that he hasn’t stayed alive this long by walking into every dark cave and crypt that has a woman screaming from inside. The Stars agreed that he was right, that whether Mura realized it, the situation just didn’t feel right. However, they couldn’t justify leaving these people to die, trap or not, and asked Nimbles to watch over Mura as they checked things out.
Frustrated not only by the time, but the possibility of an ambush, the Stars realized they had no other choice if they wanted to save the Trampling Trolls. Corvus drew his axe as Quinn lit his shield with a cantrip to guide the way, and the Stars took a deep breath and descended the mossy, broken stairs of the ancient ruins, with Nimbles in tow.