Stolen Lands

Political . . . Entanglements

Having made their way down the Shadow Road, the part eventually arrived at the Shadow Court, or at least what they assumed was the Shadow Court. Upon their arrival it appeared as though the Court was empty. Every so often one of the members of the party would hear the soft sound of laughter or of music, but could never locate the source. Before them though stood a large palace with numerous doors, courtyards and even stables. All of which appeared empty at first glance. After a time though, single shadow fey rake approached the party and challenged them, taking offense at the party bearing weapons in the court. He offered a duel to Duke Vlad Black. When the Duke ultimately won the duel, the rake bowed his head and offered his hand in friendship.

The rake was a member of an organization known as the Ravens, young fey looking to climb the ranks of the Shadow Court. He explained to the party that the fey are able to essentially make themselves unseen and unheard by those they deem to be beneath their notice. He did offer though that with time, the party could improve their standing within the Shadow Court and thus, gain the attention of higher ranking members of the Court. The party took the opportunity to talk to a few fey and even engage in a few friendly duels, which also, for the most part, increased their standing in the Court. Not at full strength though, the party ultimately decided to head back home briefly to retrieve Cice Tappo and hopefully bring Wilhelm Thornegaard back from the dead.

When the party arrived back in Raven's Bluff they were able to locate a small amount of Wilhelm's body after he was killed in the jaws of the dragon. With that little bit of Wilhelm's body, Jhod Kavken was able to reincarnate him. The party took a moment to rest and then had Joseph Lagrange plane shift the party back to the Shadow Road. After succesfully arriving at the Shadow Road, the decision was made to leave Cici and Joseph behind on the road while Cici recovered from her wounds at the teeth of the dragon. This also enabled a bit of a safety net as Joseph could come to the court to plane shift the party out if need be.

Returning to the Court the party continued their endeavors of gaining favor with the assorted members of the Court. Sergeant York soon became frustrated at what he perceived the fey's inability to recognize orcs as a superior race and as such, struck up a friendship with some of the goblin servants in the kitchens of the Court. As the rest of the party continued to grow in influence though they were soon invited to a meeting with the Grey Ladies. During the course of the meeting, they informed the Duke that they had been watching him closely and were impressed. Ultimately they asked him if he would be willing to officially ally himself with their proverbial banner. When the Duke agreed, they gave him a bag of holding and a patch symbolizing his allegiance. The patch though also took something from his, stealing a bit of his vitality. "A small price for the honor of our allegiance." the ladies told him. They claimed he would be able to retrieve the lost vitality should he leave the Shadowfey realm.

That evening the party was resting in their chambers in the Court when they were attacked by shadow hounds capable of maintaining their invisibility and also of shifting from shadow to shadow. Also disturbing was their ability to seemingly steal the shadows of those they attacked. Although they were difficult to track, Thom Merrilon was able to glitterdust one of them and soon both hounds appeared to have been dispatched, or at least to have left the party alone. When they investigated the attack the next day, the party was unable to gather any leads as to who may have sent the hounds after them. Undeterred though, the party continued to try to work their way up the ranks of the Court.

Soon the party received an invitation to attend the Swan Festival, a feast where all the most important members of the court would be in attendance and where the party might be able to gather more information on the Court. Once again York found himself excluded as he was required to eat in a separate hall altogether while most of the party secured seats in the balcony. Duke Black though was invited to sit at the massive head table of the dining hall. The feast consisted of what the party was assured were the finest of delicacies, though which many members of the party had a hard time stomaching. As the feast progressed though, it turned into a series of performances by members of the Court. The last of which was a dance performed by Ulara, a courtesan of the Court. The Duke found her dance to be very enchanting and couldn't take his eyes off of here, especially after she gifted him with a kiss.

Soon after Ulara's dance concluded, Queen Sarastra took her leave and left her guests to enjoy the feast. It was not long after that when Akyishigal, a demon, appeared amid massive swarms of cockroaches, announcing his outrage at being excluded from the festivities. His roaches swarmed over the feast hall and sent all the guests running. The party ran from the hall as well and regrouped outside the feast hall. Everyone that is except for the Duke who had left out a different door and proceeded further into the upper court of the palace.

As the rest of the party awaited the Duke, he instead proceeded into the residential wing of the upper palace and found himself at the door to Ulara's personal residence, where she invited him inside. The Duke's failure to return to the party was especially disconcerting to York. Not because the orc was worried about the Duke, but rather because the Duke had the bag of holding into which his, Darrick's, and York's armor had been placed since they were not allowed to wear armor to the feast. Eventually the party retreated to their quarters in the hope that the Duke would join them there. When he didn't return during the night, Thom decided to scry on him the following morning, where he was able to observe that the Duke was having a very good time with beautiful courtesan.

The party continued in their endeavors without the Duke while he continued to enjoy the company of Ulara. As the days progressed though, they became more concerned and eventually sought out the Lords of Light and their leader, Revich. They were hopeful that the Blind Seer could help them retrieve the Duke but he was unable, or unwilling, to do so. Eventually Thom decided it was worth a try to attempt to teleport into Ulara's chambers since he had previously observed them. Unfortunately for him, he soon learned that there was some sort of a protection on the chambers that prevented anyone from teleporting in. Eventually, the party decided to simply wait for his return after they were told by several fey that it was unlikely that any true harm would befall him. Finally, after nine exhausting days, Vlad returned to the party., albeit not before finding himself wandering the halls of the palace in the buff.

With the party reunited, they began to discuss their plans and how they might gain an audience with the Queen so that they could convince her to abandon her claim on the Greenbelt. That day though, York, who had been studiously attempting to kill every roach he saw, received an invitation to speak with Akyishigal at the bottom of a well. York consulted with Thom about the invitation and the arcanist informed him that it would be a good idea to meet with the demon lord. Darrick could not believe that Thom had encouraged the orc to meet with the demon and quickly hurried to catch up to York. They both descended to the bottom of the well where they were confronted by Akyishigal, the Demon Lord of Roaches.

Akyishigal informed York that the orc owed him a debt after he had killed so many of the demon's minions. York tried to tell the demon that he would simply stop killing his minions but that was not enough to appease to the Demon. At this point Darrick started to make preparations to leave the well in a hurry as Akyishigal demanded that York agree to serve him. York eventually agreed to serve the demon lord rather than flee or fight him. With that agreement, York received the symbol of Akyishigal and was allowed to leave.

The following day, Duke Black received an invitation from Prince Hander Svenk to meet with him. When the party arrived, the prince began to talk to the duke before seeing the symbol of Akyishigal on York's armor. When the prince observed the symbol, he fell into a rage and attacked the orc. The party was still hoping for a peaceful solution and attempted to talk the prince down. The prince's sister eventually put the orc into a deep slumber and along with Duke Black convinced the prince to stand down, stating that they need not fight.

With York sleeping soundly, the Prince agreed to talk. Vlad expressed his concerns that the party would not be able to amicably resolve the dispute over the Greenbelt and the Prince acknowledged that the ways of the Shadow Court did appear to differ from the ways of the party. However, he did hold out some hope that the party may be able to resolve their conflicts amicably. He informed the group that he and his sister were, in a sense, the source of the madness of the King. He expressed concern that his father was no longer himself but hoped that the party might be able to help him. He also warned that the Queen was trying to gather more power while admitting at the same time he himself was also attempting to do the same for his claims were far from a sure thing given his bastard heritage. He did warn the party that the Queen was the one who had invited Akyishigal to the Court but he does hope to eventually rid the court of the demon lord. At the conclusion of their talk, the prince did offer to share his wine with the party, an honor reserved for very few.

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arvola Gargs454

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