Our story opened as the party wrapped up with what they could do to help survivors of the attack upstairs, eventually deciding that they had a moral imperative to check in on what Lord Ducet was up to in the remnants of the main dining hall. Upon arrival, they found themselves turned away by mages guarding his endeavors. The mages wore cloaks of varying design and color, but all emblazoned with the unmistakable 9-pointed star of the Grand Council. Firmly denied entry by the army of mages, the group decided to visit the Speaker’s office to get some answers. A later visit back to this hall would uncover that Ducet was using some complex chain of spells that began with infecting the afflicted with vampirism to render them immune to the toxin, then somehow removing the vampirism, en masse.
Sitting with Raha Delina, the party learned that the Gol Asad docks and a few other key areas of the city had been hit at the same time as the Asad with more of the gas bombs. Efforts were underway to isolate the contaminated people and help them, if possible. Then he told them about the attack on Haralin. It had been different in nature than the others. While there was strong evidence from escapees that the Children of Ahriman had led the attack, it was a military occupation, not a gas attack. With their successful surprise attack, the cult now held the most powerful and prolific shipyard and naval dock on the continent. While it was doubtful they could put it to full use for a while, it’s loss would be crippling over the long term, especially if Riyaqa found itself facing a war with the Empire. To worsen the news, there was now very good reason to go hat in hand to the Khasif delegation, as the Khasif Kingdom now held the most powerful shipyard ostensibly under Asad control. With a lot to process, the party found bunks for a few hours after Delina told them an emergency session had been called for that evening.
At the emergency session of the Asad, Delina wasted no time in getting to the point. Seated as his guests in the floor gallery, the party looked on as he made the case for unifying their respective militaries to declare war on the CoA, take back Haralin by force, and hunt down and exterminate the cult and their leaders. As members of the house expressed disbelief at some of Delina’s accounts of previous gas attacks, he asked a member of the party to step up and present evidence. Zayn approached the podium, and relayed a selective transcript of the party’s many run-ins with the cult and the results of their attacks. A clear first hand account from such an influential voice seemed to carry weight as quiet discussion broke out among known blocs of delegates.
A woman at the back rose from her seat, striding forward in a formal request for the floor, which the Speaker acquiesced. She introduced herself as Ahti Ato, representative of the disparate Mah Hari tribes of the desert, though mostly a figurehead. She publicly told the assembly of the many people in the desert flocking toward a new settlement that has sprung up, and that she now knows the purpose of that settlement and its leaders. Having learned that the woman speaking was representing the long-thought-dead House Tulesti, she wished finally to name the sovereign to which she would bind her representation. Recognizing the formality and seriousness of her announcement, Speaker Delina took up the script and asked her to enter her claim into the record. She claimed for House Tulesti. And just like that, the scam they had concocted with the Speaker to get access to the Asad became very real.
A recess was immediately called, there now being a representative on the floor that still needed to confer with her sovereign before casting a vote. Delina offered his office for their meeting, and left them alone. Ahti Ato convinced the party of her sincerity, then briefed Zayn and the others on the political maneuvering she expects to unfold shortly, and gained approval on her plans to deal with some of it. As a final order of business for their first meeting, she asked what the name of their new, yet tiny, capital should be. Preferring to harken to the older desert traditions, they chose the name “Tulesa.” A few hours later, the vote proceeded to the expected result: WAR.
Trying to get word of this development to allies abroad through the use of Sending spells, Finn discovered that Blue, and likely the entire Gyredancer, had been captured in the raid on Haralin and was now in chains. With the docks compromised, there was no other quick way available out of Gol Asad. Finn asked G121 to take him to the remains of the attackers, so that he might use some more disturbing magic to get some answers. Arriving in the morgue and locating the bodies, Finn applied Speak with Dead to learn what they might know about Sadeesh and his plans. The cryptic answers he received indicated a possibility that Sadeesh might be so hard to locate because he usually resided in the Shadowfell. Asked how to locate him there, the corpse responded with a wide grin, “die to a black blade.” Upon further discussion, the party decided they needed to know more about Sadeesh and the eerie shadow entity that briefly appeared during their encounter with him. They came up with only one name that might present significant insight without a heavy price attached- Ugess, the former Order of Alhena priest that had deciphered the original page for them when this all started. As Finn was not familiar with her, he could not reach her with Sending. They would need more mundane help. The party left the Asad, and headed for the Lacy Death.
Arriving, they found the former site of the inn burned to the ground, the rubble still mostly undisturbed. A few questions to passersby pointed them to the nearby, new location of the inn. It still ran under the direction of the same proprietress, Tabina Karouk. After getting seated in the main room, the party eventually gained as audience with Tabina, who took them to a private dining room. She greeted them, provided the party with accommodations, and caught up with them for a bit. Tabina explained that she had ordered the old location destroyed after learning what was beneath it, and they were starting over here, in a somewhat smaller building. The group asked if she could put them in touch with “the Broker” Dezil Calish. He arrived to speak with them a short time later, revealing that he had been waiting to meet them and a wealthy patron had already hired him to assist the party. They made a number of requests for information, which he dutifully noted. Dezil agreed to make contact with Ugess and attempt to provide passage for her into the city. He also agreed to set up a meeting with someone who could transport them quickly and quietly to wherever they needed to go, but didn’t have a habit of asking too many questions.
Dezil discussed with the group what they each knew about the toxin being used and its delivery method. They wanted to track the toxin’s origin to locate the CoA, but were at a dead end. He offered use of a laboratory for Sindar to analyze the compound and try to determine some components that Dezil might track through bookkeeping records. Sindar and Tarsus left for the Sourgrounds slums to take him up on the offer. Meanwhile, after discussing their new method to heal some people of the toxin’s affliction, Dezil gave Finn a lead on another healer working at the docks that was desperately in need of such things. Finn and the remainder of the group went to see him.
Arriving at the docks, Finn located Jano Vativa behind a wall of guards, tending to patients and barking orders for supplies. Explaining his method, Finn settled in to provide as much blood as possible, and heal himself through the ordeal, while the party watched over him and his surroundings. By late morning, Vativa had used samples of Finn’s blood to determine a good minimum dose needed and cure a number of people. Of course, some did die in the attempt, but Jano had some success at improving the odds of survival.
At the lab, Sindar managed to isolate a number of ingredients in the compounds of the toxin. After they returned this information to Dezil, the diminutive man got to work. He also discussed the impending danger of the Black Fleet with them, making the party aware that his information indicated the fleet had split weeks ago, sending a contingent to Khasif waters while the main fleet circled south toward Gol Asad. A number of potential outcomes arose from this development, and few of them were good. While Dezil was able to theorize as to supply sources to investigate for some of the compounds he was at a loss for some, as they were just too common. Hoping for some help, Zayn used a Sending spell to contact Robert Pinan, a primary designer of the compound who was now in hiding at Chamber Valley. He identified a compound in the accelerant as uliun. With a single rare component of the toxin identified as wyroot, and a rare component in the accelerant identified as uliun, Dezil felt it was now just a matter of checking records and greasing a few palms to find the place where requests for these items converged.
The story closed as a hopeful party turned in for some well-earned rest, and pondered a trip to the market in the morning.
The vote has been tabled in the Asad while missing delegates are searched for and rescued. An automatic procedural clock of 60 days started when they went missing, with 18 days now remaining before the delegates are declared dead and replaced.
The Asad has just voted to go to war with the Children of Ahriman in an emergency session.
The Black Fleet has been spotted in Riyaqan waters, moving east along the southern coast.