05

The Veiled Society

The Cast:

 

Graywalde, Dwarven Locksmith.

"...so rarely have I seen a creature of more determined greed or willingness to wield a battleaxe..."

Lueryth, Wandering Paladin.

"...counterpoint to Graywalde's temper, the paladin is slow to anger and steady with his crossbow..."

Elisavetta, Crusading Priest.

"...hot-blooded, never hesitates to speak her mind or act out against evil, regardless of consequence..."

Luscious, Gnome Illusionist.

"...singularly annoying fellow, able to see the humor in any situation, so long as no one else is enjoying himself..."

Eldorn, Ranger of the Eastlands.

"...come to us with a mission, to be his allies in a campaign against the creatures of the Eastlands..."

Cellie, Urnst Pickpocket.

"...anything to avoid a confrontation, but quick with her knives to pierce the back of a foe, not a soul to be taken lightly..."

 

Chapter One, The Veiled Society:

From the Journal of Celindra Dovan of Urnst

April 1, 731

It strikes me as not the least bit odd that we all came together on the Fool's Day. The adventures we agreed to undertake are nothing short of madness. Inspired by the virtue of a ranger from the Eastlands, fueled by a cleric's passion to see evil quelled, and driven on by a dwarven locksmith with an eye for nothing but gold and gore, we will surely find ourselves traveling among the most horrid elements of society. The six of us met in one of the many inns outside of the city of Specularum during the day before the much-renowned Festival of Lucor. Eldorn had found each of us among the droves of peasants and minor nobility flocking to the city for the Festival; he seemed to sense the reasons that each of us would accept his proposal.

"There are creatures in the Eastlands that the forces of the Heartlands cannot hope to defeat," he said, "for they approach Chaos in terms of regiments and batallions. One priest with a pair of wererats could surreptitiously spell the end of the Keep on the Borderlands while it could hold for an Age against a frontal assault of orcs and hobgoblins." To some of our number he added, "And these creatures hold in their possession the pillaged gold and magic of a lost era. The beautiful civilizations of the Eastlands lay just beneath the encampments of the humanoids. Enough to become kings of your own lands."

Before going on, though, we determined to enter into the city of Specularum and get one last taste of true civilization.


The city of
Specularum is the largest, most opulent city remaining in The Realm. It also is home to the most squalorous hovels, and cutthroats linger in the alleys, waiting for a sign of weakness in their passing prey. At the gates a number of particularly bloodthirsty guards collected a tax of silver coins before we could enter into the city proper. Beyond the gates milled more people than could be easily counted, all dressed in their best and shouting so as to make even rational thought difficult.

Through the streets snaked a procession led by priests and an effigy of the saint after whom the festival was named. This procession halted before the gates just as the guards stepped aside from us. At first we thought that the procession paused for some ceremonial reason, but then the crowd parted, and we saw the truth. Two men, apparently minions of the powerful Radu family, stood in the path of the procession, refusing to allow it to go on.

At the front of the procession was a priest from the Torenescu family. Though rough-clad and unshaven, the man represented the Festival of Lucor. Yet he struck first, dropping one of the two men into the mud. We had to make a split-second decision, whether to become involved...and on whose part?

I could see that Lueryth and Elisavetta would side with the Torenescu priest, but Graywalde was looking more sympathetically towards the other men. And, of course, Luscious just stood there, smiling broadly at the trouble around him. Luckily, we paused long enough for help to arrive. Men clad in green tunics, bearing the insignia of the Vorloi family, broke up the conflict and saw that the parade continued, though along a slightly altered route. It seemed, then, that we had the day to move about the city.

The streets were very crowded due to the festival, and throughout the day we found that not a single inn could provide us a room. Still, we took the opportunity to equip ourselves for the journey eastward. We also stopped in at several taverns to pass the time and learn of events in the city.

In the taverns we heard of the Veiled Society, which seems to be some sort of thieves' or assassins' guild within the city. Most talk revolved around the events of this morning, though. Some men support the Torenscu, others the Radu. Very few kept their opinion to themselves; the city felt on the verge of an explosion.

As night fell, we feared that we would be forced to leave the city to find shelter. Luckily, though, a room opened at Mistress Liddy's Resthaven, just inside South Gate. As we stood outside, though, a group of men confronted us. They tossed us a bag of twenty pieces of gold, mentioned that they had some matters that would need taken care of before long, and implied that we would regret severely the decision not to help them. After making their point, they rushed off into the night, leaving us to stare after them in disbelief.

It seemed, though, that fate had one more event before us this evening. A scarred man named Theosius confronted us and informed us that he, too, was looking for trustworthy souls to perform duties for him. He assured us that none of his activities would be illegal, and he would pay in advance. We had to tell him no, though, as we intended to leave with the end of the Festival. Of course, our adventure was only beginning.

 


April 2, 731

Hoping to get as much out of the Festival of Lucor as possible during our last day in Specularum, we awoke at dawn. Elisavetta spent an hour in devotions, and Luscious studied his book of spells for nearly as long. Then, we stepped out into the taproom, where we first saw how much the city had cleared out overnight.

As we ate, an elderly woman, one Goodwife Thanato, burst into the Resthaven, babbling about demons in her root cellar and begging for someone to help her. Lueryth and Elisavetta were on their feet even as Mistress Liddy helped the woman to a chair. Before I knew it, the two of them had volunteered all six of us to go to the goodwife's root cellar and investigate her "demons." One look at Eldorn convinced me that I would need to go along if I ever intended to quest for the riches of the Eastlands.

Amid Graywalde's mutterings we followed Goody Thanato to her home, and she showed us to the trapdoor that led to her root cellar. Our investigation did turn up something odd, though. An earthen passage led off to the north, apparently freshly dug to connect the cellar to other places in the city. The tunnel led to a cellar hung with hams and sausages, where two dark-cloaked men worked at burying a bundle. We watched a bit, but they spotted us. They attacked in a fury, wielding longswords, but Lueryth was ready with his crossbow and felled one. Graywalde and Elisavetta slew the second in melee, as he attacked with only a moment's hesitation.

Entering the room, we discovered that the men were attempting to bury the body of an attractive young woman. Fearing that the blame for her death could be dropped on our heads, I quickly looked about for clues. Luscious spent the whole time staring at me with an odd grin. The woman clenched a bloody knife, as if she had wounded someone before she died. Strands of red hair were stuck under her fingernails. Also, among her blood, was a dried, brown liquid--A very strong wine. I kept the knife and hairs as clues, in case we should find ourselves pleading our case before the authorities of Specularum.

Looking about the cellar, we found that the exit from the root cellar had been locked from above. We also located a second exit in the northeast wall. Even Graywalde seemed intrigued, now that he had reason to swing his axe, and so we continued through the catacombs beneath the city.

What we found beyond that exit was a terrible chamber where three half-naked men were forced to work under the lash of hobgoblin overseers. A ferocious battle ensued, and Graywalde and Elisavetta were both knocked unconscious. Eldorn came through in the end, felling all three of the beasts with his broadsword. With the hobgoblins dispatched, we went about bandaging our friends and speaking with the three workers.

Apparently, they were captured by the hobgoblins over a year ago, and forced to dig for all that time. They did not know why, nor where they even had been underground. The three stayed with us, begging for us to take them to an exit. Nothing would have made me happier, but on the way back to Goody Thanato's root cellar we took a wrong turn.

We wandered, lost. Graywalde fell again in battle when a group of kobolds ambushed us. All six of us likely would have fallen prey to them, but Luscious put half the creatures to sleep with a spell. I'll never forget the look in his eye as he giggled and crushed a fistful rose petals--his spell components--between his fingertips. We carried Graywalde until we came to a third cellar.

In this cellar, timbers were piled neatly. A wheelbarrow rested to one side. As we looked about, uncovering a suspicious mound of bloody bandages, the trapdoor opened and a dark-cloaked man climbed down the ladder. Not being in a position to confront him, we watched him from the shadows, noting that he walked out through another doorway, and then we turned our eyes to the ladder.

Overcome with excitement, the three men we freed from the hobgoblins rushed up the ladder and vanished. We followed closely after them, Lueryth and Eldorn hauling Graywalde. Above, we found a guesthouse. I looked about for clues, convinced that the men behind this operation used this guest house as a base of sorts. I found a bottle of thick, heady wine, and the seal bore the mark of the Trouscan estates, sold only on the waterfront. I also found a black leather hood with several red hairs in it. The man who murdered the woman had been here!

I warned my companions, and we left the guesthouse cautiously. We found that the guesthouse lay behind the butcher's shop. We pumped the man for information, but learned little. Needing a place to rest, we left onto the main streets of the city.

Mistress Liddy met us at the door as we returned to the Resthaven. She had heard rumors of a dead body turning up, and rightly suspected we may have learned something of the matter. She strongly suggested we approach the constabulary before nightfall, for by then the officers would surely learn of it on their own. She held our room out of gratitude for our service to Goody Thanato, but made it clear that she wanted no trouble with the law. We rested quickly, but Lueryth and Elisavetta gave Luscious no chance to study his books. They insisted we hurry to the constabulary.

With priests to detect the truth of our statements, we were told to explain what we knew. After several hours we were sent to the noble district in the company of a tribune and a pair of priests. Along the way we learned more of the Radu and Torenescu factions, the most important bit of knowledge being that both hate only the powerful Vorloi family more than one another. The dead woman was Lucia Vorloi.

As we moved through the Vorloi basement, looking for the entrance to the root cellars, I picked up more clues. A piece of blood-stained hemp rope. A Torenescu signet ring, which seemed a bit too prominently placed.

In the basement we found the body, though the corpses of the two cloaked men were missing. The tribune took in the scene, then ordered Lucia's body to be removed for burial. As we turned to leave, I noticed that letters had been scrawled in the woman's blood, likely by her own dying hand. It could have been "BAD," "RAD," or "RAO."

On our way back up the ladder from the root cellar, Graywalde noticed a bit of pitch on the ladder. In the otherwise immaculate area, the pitch certainly seemed noteworthy. Still, the hour was growing later, and we were getting tired. The tribune accompanied us back to the constabulary, and then set us free to walk the streets of Specularum.

By the time we returned to Liddy's Resthaven to sleep, the streets were filled with angry men and women, all speaking of the tribune's report. Apparently, the presence of the Torenescu signet ring was damning evidence against that family, and men spoke loudly of rallying in the east markets against the Torenescu. We even heard men mutter that the Torenescu were the masterminds behind the Veiled Society.

Liddy still held our room, and we rested for several hours, but no one felt comfortable at the Resthaven while such drastic events were unfolding. Graywalde smelled a fight, but Lueryth was not sure the right people were being blamed. The signet ring was placed so clearly on the basement floor, and Lucia could well have been trying to spell "Radu" when she died. Before I knew it, we were walking through the streets in the middle of the night, headed for the east market.

We arrived in time to find an orator stirring up dissent against the Torenescu. Men growled and raised fists in agreement. When soldiers arrived to confront the mob, it took only a single cast stone to incite the commoners to riot! We found ourselves trapped in the heart of a melee between peasants with knives and poles, and armed city watchmen! The sudden attack left most of the riders dead before they had a chance to call for reinforcements, but the cry went out, and more men were on the way.

Elisavetta spotted the orator fleeing from his riot, and she shouted loudly enough for us to hear over the din of battle. Reunited, the six of us chased the man to a small, closed shop. Inside, the building was empty except for a trapdoor leading to an underground passage that led to the waterfront. We chased the man and caught him on the far side of the tunnel. Graywalde made him talk.

The man turned out to be everything we needed to solve the mystery. He told us that the Veiled Society had hired him to stir up trouble for the Torenescu family. He was given two hundred pieces of gold by a man named Akarios, a red-haired man who was behind the entire operation. The Veiled Society, the orator told us, had a meeting hall concealed behind the Blue Water Mead Hall. We took his pouch of gold and kicked him out into the street.

On the waterfront, we found ourselves contacted by the Veiled Society. A dagger hurled from somewhere within the crowd carried a message ordering us to meet them at Vinter's Lane. At the moment we did not know where to find the Blue Water Mead Hall, so we determined to find the Veiled Society where they chose to meet us. We went to Vinter's Lane.

Aristo the wine merchant met us and spoke to us until the Veiled Society arrived. The leader tossed us black masks and ordered us into position. The target of our attack seemed to be a nobleman surrounded by beggars. When the attack was called--as I expected--Lueryth and Elisavetta led the strike against the Veiled Society, immediately siding us with the beggars and their charge. Even with our help, most of the beggars were slain. The Veiled Society fought well, and they were led by a priest.

Then, no sooner were the assassins slain, but the nobleman ordered his entourage to attack us! As we wore the black veils, he assumed we were a rival faction among the Society. Graywalde led us into the battle against the remaining beggars, who proved warriors skilled far beyond their bedraggled appearance. Only Elisavetta's skills as a healer saved Lueryth and Graywalde from death, and the nobleman vanished into the night before we could question him.

We staggered back to the Resthaven and slept through the night.

 


April 3, 731

We seemed to have three main areas to search in the city: The waterfront, the noble district, and the city around South Gate. We decided to return to the waterfront to seek out the Blue Water Mead Hall, and found it in short order.

The six of us stepped inside and started to mingle among the sailors and merchants therein. As we turned to leave, Graywalde leaned over to the bartender.

"We're looking for Akarios," he said.

At the sound of his name, a burly, red-haired man stood and ducked out through a back door. Spotting this, Elisavetta charged past the dwarf and the bartender, bursting through the south door in pursuit of the man in charge of the Veiled Soceity operation.

A priest and warrior jumped us on the far side of the door, and only Eldorn and Luscious stayed on their feet. I hit the ground soon after the priest smacked me with his mace; the last thing I heard was Luscious cackling and chanting. I awoke at Liddy's Resthaven. We had lost Akarios.

 


April 4, 731

Even though the Festival was now over--and the worst of the rioting put down--Liddy seemed to understand that we were doing something that was inherently good for the city. She allowed us to spend a day recovering, but that turned out to be a mistake on our part. That day allowed the Veiled Society to regroup and strike back at us. When next we stepped out of the Resthaven, we found ourselves set upon by assassins!

Chasing the men through the city, we found ourselves in the middle of an elaborate attack. Every corner held a new danger, and the riots were apparently not so finished as we originally assumed. But we kept our sights on the man running from us, and we refused to let him escape.

The chase ended at what seemed to be a dead-end alley. Still, the end of the alley was guarded by a giant of a man, bare-chested, wielding a two-handed sword. We cut him down when he attacked us, and a quick search revealed a hidden passage at the end of the alley.

The passage led to a secret chamber, one I now assume lay behind the Blue Water Mead Hall. Had we not be waylayed by the guards, we likely would have found this area two days sooner. Dozens of black-hooded men and women stood together, addressed by their leader. The sight was terrifying, leaving me to wonder just how many smiling faces I saw during the day that wore such a mask at night. Luscious smiled more broadly than ever.

At the end of the meeting, we followed the leader through a secret door concealed by a large bronze gong. The passage beyond seemed to lead only to a prison cell occupied by a badly mistreated elf, but the elf was lucid enough to point out a secret door across the hall.

His name was Estaish, and he gladly took a weapon once Lueryth laid hands upon him. Then, we opened the secret door.

What followed was a dizzying bloodbath of flashing rapiers. In the end, we had severed the head from the Veiled Society and left the Radu family crippled in the city of Specularum. Estaish, a member of the Duke's elite guard, reported all to the constabulary, and we were well-rewarded for our efforts. Even Graywalde seemed satisfied with the results of this first adventure in the company of our new companions.

 


April 11, 731

We are leaving this morning for the Eastlands. A week has gone by; Eldorn agreed to allow time for Elisavetta and myself to train with our guilds before leaving. Elisavetta seems even more willing to take on the forces of Chaos alone now that she has trained. The gauntlets she took from the dead priest of the Veiled Society give her the strength of ten grown men. Graywalde has been anxious to start the journey, and likely he would have left on the morrow, with or without the rest of us. For now, though, I am closing this journal. It shall be re-opened in another two weeks, when we arrive at the Keep on the Borderlands.

 

 

Return to the Journal Page

On to Journal Entry Two

 

 To the Eastlands Page

 To the Veiled Society Page


All of the preceding modules and game worlds are trademarked property of TSR Inc, which is now the property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. I take no credit for the stories or ideas presented here, save for the six characters created as a vehicle through the adventures, I merely converted them to a playable format for SSI's Unlimited Adventures game.