Things have moved along quickly as we last dealt with a threat that in some ways shepherded us towards a more subtle threat.
After an encounter with pirates it was good to see the familiar insignia of the Aspis Consortium as any good Cheliaxian can not turn down a chance to profit. After the previous encounter our company came into possession of a variety of equipment that we could not fully utilize. The captain of the vessel had of my name and I pressed the advantage through hours of negotiation. The fool must have only been a half blood as he actually paid market for used gear that we had taken from pirates of all things.
As negations were drawing near a close one of my companions made me aware of some halfings that were sale. As our vessel was short handed I offered my experience measuring the nature of the animals. Their eyes all had lost the spark of rebellion and they had good teeth. Sadly, I was unable to detect all motivations of one of the slaves but more upon that later. Eventually, we purchased three slaves and a variety of magic tokens.
I should make note I am of mixed feelings regarding these magic feather tokens as Alcades call them. He has assured me that they are perfectly safe and of the highest quality, but I was raised to always look for the imps stinger.
After completing all transactions with the merchant vessel we moved forward on our trade mission to the spire. Five days out from the spire a most curious vessel came along side our ship at great speed. I presented all papers as well as the trade documentation to the customs officials who asked to board our vessel. They found nothing amiss in my impeccable documents and our cargo was also in order. We were then escorted towards the elves stronghold.
Upon arriving at the spire we made aware of a particular elf who ran a bar who might have been interested in our cargo. Upon leaving the vessel Teberlith a most frustrating individual parted ways with our company. She provided useful skills but I suspect her of having secret motivations that most certainly would have come to stab us in the back. Our entire team approached the bar and I quickly went to work upon finding the elf in question. I am frankly surprised that the elf was able to stay in business, he was certainly not skilled in the arts of negotiation and in a matter of a few hours I had a fully documented trade mission as well as a bill of sale above market rate. Profit always comes to those who are patient and document the smallest of details.
While arranged to sell our cargo the rest of the party gathered information. The two arcane types in the party managed to offend the rather picky sensibilities of the bar tender and were asked to leave the bar while the flighty rakish woman vanished without a word. It should be noted that this woman has desecrated a written contract with false signification. The crude behavior of my companions turned out to be a blessing as they were able to chat up a local guard and find a bit of information as to a cargo we had been asked to acquire on the spire by our financial backers.
After I finished the paperwork for the trade deal I collected the rest of my party and I was not surprised that the Marchioness had vanished again. Wayland, Boniva, Alcades, Papa and I returned to the ship discussing what we had learned. The strange warrior who has disconcerting social graces but other wise is an extremely dependable fighter was able to obtain detailed descriptions of layout and engineering details of the spire fortress. It appears that it might predate the cataclysm and the structure could be woven with magics to make it last thousands of years. Papa and Alcades discovered that our item of interest was being held in one of the towers, which surround the spire’s wall complex. It was clear from the information presented that obtaining the item of interest for our backer would be extremely challenging.
Upon returning to the Maelstrom misfortune reared its head as we collected the trade goods for delivery to the innkeeper. It appeared that a curse had been dropped upon us and Pappa went to work looking into the humors and other signs for bad magic as he put it. I find his efforts rather humorous, as I doubt he has the means to divine such things but I humored the fellow anyway. A lively debate ensued with much hand waving and exchanging of loud words by the Marques. Apparently, she wished us to put all our faith in her meeting of another roguish type whom we had not met. She claimed that this rogue required payment as a means of getting us into the tower complex but required us all to meet him that night. Alcades mentioned speaking to an albatross that apparently was able to tell us about a side entrance into a tower but I am not totally sold on the advice of a creature more inclined to eat fish beneath docks. Lacking a better option we agreed to meet up with the shadowy figure described by out less than trust worthy companion.
Although I had many misgivings we met with the contact provide by the Marques after some bartering we purchased all the information he had and then started a lively argument again as to the best course of action. A stealth route was presented as well as an infiltration through the complex itself. I support the stealth route as I find it a simpler option with less points of failure but I suspect the captain will be swayed to the infiltration plan. We argued long into the night but it occurred to me that Teberlith might be able to provide us some benefit in these paths. As she would surely still be on the island and I was sure I could mend things and regain her help.
Setting out early the next day I was able to find the establishment where Teberlith was staying. After a friendly chat with the keeper of the boarding house I was directed to the bard’s door. After knocking and waiting as a gentleman must in regards to a lady I cautiously entered her chambers. The room was empty but for a few belongings and a note. Taking up the note made a coin spin on end dancing on the ground in a most unnatural way. Clearly, it was a curse of some sort and upon reading the note it became obvious who had been sending curses our way. A letter from the pirate queen spoke of taking Teberlith signed obviously now with a small halfling skull. At that moment it dawned on me that one of the slaves had gone missing earlier. Could it have been the pirate queen? Are halflings even able to have such higher thought functions and planning abilities? Regardless we find ourselves with few options and a most unpleasant situation ahead of us.