The Pawn & Pint again hosted the fourth session of the campaign on Wednesday. While no one died, an existential crisis has befallen one of the group and many others are questioning the side they are fighting for.
We rejoined the party as they finished loading the severed heads of the bandits into a cart and returned to Antar with a single hostage (a.k.a. Julia the new Felis convert). The journey was uneventful (aside from questioning if they had a proper number of heads, as it would not be good to arrive with too few or too many).
They arrived in Antar well after dark and reported to the respective commanders. Iolaus provides a detailed summary of the events to Lord Artest and hands over the token they found on the leader of the bandits, which Julia said was a man named Samual. Lord Artest recognizes it as belonging to Lord Alistar Burdger. The presence of the token is worrying, but Artest is unwilling to accuse a member of Duke Burdger’s family, even if Lord Alistar is just a first cousin, once removed.
After hearing the name Alistar Burdger, Iolaus immediately remembers that this cousin to Duke Burdger has a land grant a day or two to the southwest. Artest confirms that the grant, which includes a town named Vismoor, has been in the Burdger family for a number of generations and Lord Alistar lives in a keep in Vismoor. Iolaus is warned that he cannot go around accusing nobility when it is likely that the token was simply taken from someone else and likely has nothing to do with the events at the manor house.
Iolaus also reports that one of the City Watch, a Private Andrew, may be showing signs of witchcraft. Lord Artest finds such a report disturbing and decides that perhaps it would be good if Iolaus takes the party north to a small village of Elinart and observes Andrew’s behavior, for Lord Artest has received a report of an even more disturbing nature: Priestess Gillian Horner that runs the temple in Elinart may be harboring witches and warlocks in the village. Lord Artest wants Iolaus to confirm the report and burn any witches, including Priestess Gillian, if this proves to be true.
Iolaus accepts the mission, but as he is getting ready to leave, he asks for a private moment to discuss another member of the City Watch. He explains that Wilby is interested in joining the ranks of the Felis’ warriors, perhaps as Iolaus’ student. Artest is interested in this possibility, but warns Iolaus that Wilby would have to be tested to confirm he is not a warlock and to confirm that he is also in fact a member of Felis’ chosen.
With that settled, the group leaves Antar the following morning. Elinart is in the middle of a large forest north of Antar and the road through the woods is little more than a trail. They travel the whole day, but stop a few miles outside of Elinart to camp. They prefer to arrive early in the day instead of late at night.
The morning takes them into Elinart on the dirt trail coming out of the southwest. The people of Elinart seem fearful of three holy warriors and a couple of soldiers coming into town. Wilby and Andrew stay outside of town to act as reserve troops in case they are needed. (Andrew’s avoidance of the town may speak of an underlying avoidance?)
An observation of Elinart’s people indicates there is a fairly large number of adult woman in town compared to the number of buildings. A few children stay with their mothers, but the only men are older or showing signs of injury.
The buildings all show signs of wear and age. Several are made of waddle and daub with thatched rooves. A few timber-framed buildings are included in the mix, but they look even worse than the others.
The temple of Felis sits proudly in the middle of the village. A wooden wall, standing just a three fee high, surrounds the building and a small garden.
The west side of the temple has a series of stained glass windows in the larger portion of the building. The narrow processional wing has shuttered windows that are open. The wooden building as a set of stone stairs leading to a pair of double doors.Iolaus leads the way and heads into the temple through the double d
Iolaus leads the way and heads into the temple through the double doors. Inside, the narrow chamber is filled with tapestries, paintings, and other small artifacts glorifying Felis’ teachings around farming. Nothing is highly valuable, but everything here is in good shape.
To the south, a curtain is pulled back allowing a view of Felis at the far end of the temple. The statue here stands seven feet high and rests on a platform. While it is not made of the special metal that never tarnishes or rusts, the likeness is a good one.
A couple of people sit on the benches while an older lady in her forties greets the party and inquires why so many holy warriors would grace such a small village with their presence. Iolaus asks to be taken to Priestess Gillian and the woman replies that she is Gillian.
Iolaus asks Gillian for a private place to confer and she escorts him, Howl, and Gemma into her office on the north side of the temple. Rowan and Simon remain in the main temple to keep a watch on things.
Gillian’s office is nicely decorated. The shutters on the northern windows are open, providing a gentle breeze through the room. Behind her desk are shelves, several of which have some books on them. Her wooden desk has papers spread over the surface as well as a mace.
Iolaus moves to the shelves and starts looking over the titles, though nothing stands out as being inappropriate. He comes out quickly and says that a report has reached Antar that there are witches in Elinart and he wants her help to find and eliminate them. She pushes back saying there are no witches in Elinart and the report must be false.
He then declares his intent to test the people. He intends to use a holy symbol to see of any of them should be called forth to Felis’ ranks of empowered. Gillian opposes this, challenging him and what she guesses is his intent to use a fake holy symbol to try and elicit someone to inciminate themselves. Iolaus demands her help, asking what any of these people should fear. To which Gillian replies that most of those here have seen their fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons sent off to fight in the war. No one in her village is a Senzar warlock or witch and to start accusing them of such would tramatize them further.
Iolaus is insensed and takes out a fake holy symbol and demands Howl turn over his holy symbol. He mixes the two up and then demands Gillain prove herself with each symbol. She scoffs at his request and tells him to get out of her temple. He demands it again and she takes both symbols into her hand and orders them all leave, saying, “I have my own holy symbol, I don’t need your fake ones.”
Howl looks panicked, his eyes not leaving his own holy symbol in Gillian’s hands. Iolaus demands the town is tested or he will have no choice but to accuse her of harboring witches. She says, “Fine, test the town.” However, Iolaus does not feel comfortable with her reply and Howl pleads for his holy symbol back. Gillian tosses the two symbols to Iolaus and sits down at her desk, dismissing the three young holy warriors.
In the main temple room, two additional people have come in and taken seats on the benches. Simon and Rowan have kept watch over them, but all four appear to be peasants without weapons beyond an eating dagger.
When Iolaus comes out of the office with Howl and Gemma, he tells Simon and Rowan to keep a watch on Gillian. The two of them go back into her office and stand guard. After a short time, she gets up and asks if they are hungry, because she is going to get some food. The follow her out the east door of her office, through the dining hall, and down into the small kitchen. When the crowd her in the small room, she says, “Fine, fix what you want, I won’t be squished in here with you.” After which, she returns to her office and the others follow her.
In the main temple hall, Iolaus goes to the altar and asks everyone to come up to be tested to see if they might be able to able to join Felis’ ranks. The four people in the temple obey, though they all declare they are nothing and would not be of interest to Felis. He tests them anyway, handing them the fake holy symbol and asking that they perform some feat of power.
The four people obey, but none of them appear to possess any power and while Iolaus suspects some may not have tried, he has no proof of witchcraft aside from their nervousness. Frustrated, he summons Rowan and Simon back into the main temple for a quick conference. Certain that Gillian is hiding something, he tells Rowan to remain behind and hide in the temple. The rest of the party will leave, declaring that they found nothing, but will return later.
Rowan looks around the main temple room, having been emptied of people after the testing complete, he decides to hide inside the confines of the large fireplace on the east wall. Using soot for prior fires, he covers his skin and hides as the others leave town.
After a short time, some people enter the temple and go into Gillian’s office. Rowan comes out of the fireplace and listens at the door. He hears something to the effect that “four are gone, but one is missing.” To which Gillian replies, “keep an eye out, but do nothing.”
Rowan returns to the fire place as one person leaves through the main temple. Having heard another door shut, Rowan leaves the fire place again and quietly checks the office to find it empty. He checks outside and finds Gillian and another person working in the garden and obviously in the middle of a conversation, but there is no way to get close enough to hear. Rowan then returns to Gillian’s office and takes a quick look at the desk. Nothing is obviously incriminating and the drawers are locked. He goes to the dining hall and finds it also empty, but through the back windows, he can see Gillian in the garden. When Gillian starts to return to the temple, Rowan heads into the open-air courtyard. The wall on the south side of the courtyard has stained glass windows that look out onto a small passage. The small area has a small pool, but there is little else there. Rowan decides to stay there until dark.
As evening sets in, Gillian opens the door and offers Rowan a bed, dinner, and a chance to get cleaned up. Rowan, surprised to be found, takes the offer and after getting settled, tries to engage Gillian in conversation with hints that he might have powers and be uncertain if those powers are godly or not. Through Rowan was subtle, after the events of the day, Gillian does not take the bait and tells him to avoid Elrin and demonic powers.
In the morning, Iolaus returns with Gemma, Howl, and Simon. He finds Rowan having had a good nights rest and starts to question if Rowan may have been influenced by Gillian and he starts demanding to know where the witches are or he will return with an army of soldiers to root out the evil.
Gillian, armed with her mace, confronts him at the curtains separating the processional and main temple hall. She denies there are witches in Elinart and tells him to get out, but he continues to persist in his demands. She replies using Felis’ power to amplify her voice to a booming level that would be heard by everyone in the town, demanding “There are no witches in this temple!”
Rowan, still in the temple keeps an eye on the other two peasants in the hall and holds near the curtains. Gemma steps back toward the main doors and calls upon Felis to protect her with magical armor.
Iolaus will not be silenced and Gillian then holds out a small bit of metal and demands Iolaus hold, but his mental prowes shrugs off the magic and he demands that she surrender or die.
Simon remains ready, not wanting to escalate the confict.
Howl, hoping to end the conflict without bloodshed, attempts to put Iolaus to sleep, but not used to the power of the magic, causes Rowan to loose consiousness instead of Iolaus.
Gemma, fearing Gillian may have summoned the town, stays by the outer doors. Gillian demands they leave again, but Iolaus tries to shove her down with his shield. In response, Gillian wallops him with her mace and a bolt of fire flies from the nearest local woman who was standing among the benches. The bolt of flame bounces off Iolaus armor and bounces harmlessly to the tile floor.
Simon rushes around the party and quickly tries to revive Rowan.
Howl, unhappy he put the wrong man to sleep, backs to the doors and askes Felis for his own magical protection while he looks for a way to secure the doors.
Rowan stands and asks everyone to stop fighting before someone gets hurt. Gemma echoes the request, but holds her position near the doors with Howl. Gillian backs away and calls out for Lisa to back away. However, Lisa does not listen and throws more fire toward Iolaus, which just bounces off his armor.
Incensed, Iolaus rushes the peasant, but Simon deflects Iolaus’ sword with his shield and knocks the holy warrior prone. Lisa manages to back across the room.
Iolaus stands and demands to understand why his companions would turn against him and Felis. He points out that the woman flinging fire is obviously a witch, but Lisa pulls out a holy symbol and says she is Gillian’s acolyte and a follower of Felis.
The others try to explain that he cannot go around burning people without proof, but Iolaus says he knows these people are lying and that is all the proof he needs. However, out numbered, the paladin decides he will return to Antar and bring back his superiors. He orders the others to remain in Elinart and make sure no one leaves until he can return to get proof of everyone’s guilt or innocence.
With that statement, he leaves and heads quickly to the south.
Now that the temple had settled down, Gillian offers the others food and a place to rest until Iolaus returns. They accept her hospitality and settle in to wait.
Iolaus encounters Wilby on the way out of Elinart and the two of them talk for a while. Wilby explains that if he was correct, the five of them who had gone into the village would not have good odds against a town full of witches and that a less direct route to finding the truth was needed. Iolaus listens to Wilby’s council and they camp another night in the woods before returning to the temple in the morning.
However, in the morning, the party will find that almost the entire town has left in the middle of the night, including Priestess Gillian. The fact that Iolaus has failed his charge to bring the town to justice weighs heavily on him and he starts accusing the others of helping the witches escape and sympathizing with Elrin worshipers.
Simon offers council that it is just as likely that they are all innocent and are simply fearful that they would all be burned or killed without a chance at proper justice if they stayed. Iolaus, uncertain anymore if he can tell friend from foe, writes up his account of what occured, gives it to the others, and orders them back to Antar to report. He intents to remain here and rebuild Elinart.
The others, uncertain of what will happen to Iolaus, or themselves, leave Iolaus in Elinat and start their journy back to Antar.