As the Saharan forces marched out, Bast laid down Hanks prone form and walked over to the half dragon and began to go through his pockets. Pulling out what appeared to be a diary, he turned to the last page. After close examination, it appeared to be the diary of the captain of the Dixie Whick. The last entry troubled Bast’s thoughts, it implied the betrayal of Faer Don Kyll-Ebba. The implications were too dire for Bast to speculate on, he needed to get this to Gail.
Walking back towards Bex, he gave his friend a weary smile. “Good work today Bex. There is no one I would rather have by my side.” Bex smiled down at him, but she then turned her gaze back towards the Saharan forces.
Nodding towards them she said, “This doesn’t sit well with me. We have won today sure, but what about the people who are now at the mercy of those bastards?”
Bast followed her gaze and sighed, “It doesn’t sit well with me either, but what choice do we have? We lack the forces to defeat all of them and we won this day by the skin of our teeth.” Laying his hand on her shoulder he said, “All we can hope is that the Prince gets word out fast and a force is mobilized before they can do much damage.” Turning away Bast began to head towards the keep.
“Come, there are still loose ends we need to finish up.” Bex gave the retreating army another glare and then turned and followed Bast.
In the keep Gail and the Prince stood in front of a group of bound monks. Upon their approach, he looked up at the returning party. “Well met friends, we have some unsavory business to finish up. These,” gesturing at the bound monks, “are all the remaining monks of Luhi, they are reluctant to talk.”
Mask still down Innathia walked up next to Gail. “We can be really persuasive when we want to be.” Gail appraised Innathia.
Giving a nod Gail said, “Do what you must.” Looking down at the monk in front of him Gail said, “You should have talked to me first.” In reply, the monk spat at Gail.Innathia began to make his way towards the monk when a large hand laid on his shoulder, turning he looked into Bex’s face, “Let me handle this.” Bowing Innathia stepped back as Bex made her way to the monk. At the sea giants approach, some of the resistance died in his eyes.
“I am going to make this simple for you.” Said Bex laying a hand on each shoulder, almost cupping his head in her hands. “I will ask you a question, and you will answer me. It has been a trying day, and what little patience I have for traitors is already thin. Do you understand me?”
A full range of emotions crossed the monks face as he tried to come up with an answer, eventually the fight left him and he replied, “What do you want to know?”
Unblinking, staring into his eyes Bex asked, “What was your goal here? Why turn on your people and allow the enemy into your home?”
Feeling the weight on his shoulders and the giants piercing glare he spoke in rushed jumble. “Why else? We work towards the glory of Mer-Jin! The Gods are dead! Only through him can we reach a new enlightenment.”
Bex gave him a quizzical stare, “Mer-Jin? So you have forsaken your oaths to Norvel?”
The monk smiled, “Norvel and his teaching are no more, he is dead along with the rest of the Gods, and his teaching are nothing but dogma pushed on us to keep the tyrants of Ryll in power.”
“So those cultists in the zero district, they were working for you?”
The monk spat on the ground again, “They were nothing more then pawns, as long as they served our purpose we allowed them their petty parlor magic. At best, they succeeded in summoning a demon of Mer-Jin and worst-case scenario they gave the guards a minor distraction. Either way they were expendable. “
From behind Bast spoke up, “And the Underbelly? What part did they play in your plans?”
Looking over to who had addressed him the monk said, “A necessary evil. In exchange for, turning a blind eye, the Underbelly supplied us with the slaves we needed. There is a dark stone under Port Durst of incredible value, with the slaves we were mining out and making a fortune to continue our work for Mer-Jin. The goblin attack was an accident. It seems we stumbled upon the Underdark, and a band of goblins rushed our slaves before we could blow the tunnel.”
Standing behind Bex now Bast asked, “And their leader? He escaped us earlier this week. Are you harboring him somewhere?”
Chuckling the monk answered, “If anyone had answers it would have been him.” He said nodding towards Luhi’s corpse.
Sighing Bast turned and walked away. Bex looked around at her allies, “Any other questions?” Contemplating all they had heard no one had much more to ask.
Seeming to regain some of his confidence the monk spoke up, “It matters not what you do to me, Mer-Jins reach is far and powerful! You will all suffer horrible deaths before you realize the error of your ways!”
“Yea, yea.” Said Bex and punched the monk in the face knocking him out. Tossing his slumped form towards the guards, she walked away.
Gail turned towards the Prince, “We need to talk to your father. This is above our heads.”
Nodding the prince replied, “You are right. I will contact him immediately. If all goes well he can be here by tomorrow.” Motioning to the guards to take away the prisoners he then turned to the party. “We have much to discuss.” Sitting in Luhi’s throne the Prince continued, “We need to make an example of them, we will have a public execution when my father arrives.”
Gail addressed the party, “I know it has been a trying day and you more than anyone deserves some rest but I would appreciate it if you could meet me at the Dixie Whick tonight. We have much to discuss.”
Agreeing the party went off to get what rest they could before meeting up at the Dixie Whick.
Bast knocked on the door to the Dixie Whick Tavern. The owner opened up and let them in with a smile. The news of the Dixie Whick hung over her, particularly the fate of her husband. But she still greeted the party with a smile, “Welcome and thank you for your efforts today. Please, anything you want it is on the house. Ale, food and lodging, it is the least I can do. Now sit, Gail is waiting for you.”
Sitting alone at table was Gail, the day’s events clearly showing on his face he looked like he was about to fall asleep where he sat. He was idly looking at his helmet, deep in thought when the party arrived. Smiling he stood to address them, “Hail and well met friends. I know you desire nothing more than to eat and sleep but please indulge me for a little. The prince should be here soon. Until then Selene can get you whatever you want.”
The group sat down and Selene brought out a plethora of food, and ale for the party who gratefully ate their fill. Not long after Prince Fin showed up, looking just as weary as Gail.
“Hello friends, my apologies for my tardiness.” He sat down at the table, smiling up in thanks to Selene as she put a plate in front of him.
Innathia spoke first, “It is no trouble your liege, it gave us time to recover ourselves. What is our next step?”
The prince sampled some of his food before continuing. Piercing eyes apprising the party, “First off, I plan on making Port Durst a military port again. Left as it is, its only a matter of time before some petty tyrant is able to take advantage of the people here. And they have shown their merit, I don’t like to speak ill of my father but I think he made a mistake when he pulled the navy out and left Port Durst to its own devices.” Seeing the surprised look on the party’s faces he chuckled, “Don’t get me wrong my father is a wise man, but Ryll is a large land and mistakes are made from time to time.”
Fin took a sip from his ale before continuing, “With that in mind, the next question is who do we leave in charge. I must confess I don’t know a lot of what has been going on here and I am not sure of all the influential players in Port Durst. So I am open to your suggestions.”
The group fell into contemplative silence as they considered this. Innathia spoke first, “Well I would nominate Gail, not only has he proven his worth in the last couple of days. But the people love him, his name is always followed by nothing but praise.” Gail seemed to blush at the praise.
“It is not my intent to lead, but if that duty falls on me it would be my honor.” Said Gail, although there was a look of reluctance on his face.
“He is right Gail, when the people opposed Luhi, it was your name they were chanting.” Said Bast.
“So, Gail? Any objections?” Asked the Prince.
“I do,” Said Bex, she looked almost embarrassed with the attention on her but continued, becoming more confident as she spoke, “No offence Gail, but I think Ket would make a great leader. He cares for this city and has dedicated himself to its welfare. Even risking Luhi’s wrath.”
The Prince looked around the table, “And who is this Ket?”
It was Gail who spoke, “Ket Bran-Kel, he is the main priest to Riternal in the city. A good man, he is always doing charitable work for the those in need.” He said, respect in his tone.
“A priest of Riternal? As a ruler of Port Durst, that is certainly unconventional.” Said Prince Fin, “But, maybe that is what this city needs. The peoples trust in the monks of Norvell has been shaken, maybe this Ket can restore hope to the people.” He glanced around the table, “What is your guys thoughts?”
“Ket is a friend and has served this city well. I would follow him.” Said Bast.
Innathia looked less certain, “As a military post the city needs a strong military leader. Don’t mistake my intent, Ket is a good man, but the city needs Gail’s expertise.”
The prince smiled at the words, “My thoughts exactly, very well.” He said standing, “From this day forward Ket shall be mayor of Port Durst, and Gail shall serve as Admiral of the southern fleet. Congratulations old friend.”
Gail looked stunned by the prince’s words, “As you wish my lord.”
Smiling the prince embraced Gail, and then turned to address the party. “I must retire for now; my father shall be here tomorrow for the execution. I look forward to seeing you guys at noon tomorrow.” With that the prince thanked Selene for her hospitality and left.
Gail sat back down at the table, stunned. The moment seemed to pass and a new zeal seemed to infuse Gail, “Very well.” He said looking around at the party, “This makes the next part easier. I know you have already done a lot for the Ryll but I would ask for more. I found some interesting information in that journal you gave me. It gave the location of the last stand of the Dixie Whick. I would have you go there and see what you can find.”
The group took this in, each considering their own plans and wishes. Seeing their looks Gail continued, “Like I said, you have already done more than your share. For this reason, I will give each of you a reward of your choosing, whether you do this for me or not.”
“Can we hear what you have planned first?” Asked Bast.
“Of course, based off the journal the Dixie Whick made their last stand on an abandoned island that used to serve as a prison. I would have you make your way to the island and investigate what happened, and if possible find any survivors. I already have a ship chartered, it will be ready the day after the execution.”
Seeing the groups hesitation, he continued, “Like I said, give it some time and consider my words. Also, when you have thought of a reward, if it is in my power I will grant it to you.” Standing Gail said, “Now, I am off to bed. Selene has been gracious enough to offer you all rooms here tonight. I will see you tomorrow at the execution. Good night.”
The next day the group met at the cathedral, in front of the cathedral was a raised platform, similar to the one that would have seen Gail killed was set up and the traitorous monks were assembled on it. Given a place of honor the group stood next to Gail and the prince.
Before the execution Bast went up to Gail, “I need to talk to you.” Gail turned to look at him quizzically. “In private.”
“Very well.” Moving a little further from the group Bast took out the journal he had found on the half dragon.
“I found this on the half dragon, it is the journal to the captain of the Dixie Whick and it has grave implications.” Relaying what he had found Gails face grew graver by the second.
“Speak of this to no one, after the execution I want you all to meet me at the Dixie Whick. We have much to discuss.” Gail put the book under his shirt and made his way back to the prince.
Innathia was getting antsy being near so many people, this was all too public for him but at the same time he had a hard time refusing the prince. The past week’s events had spiraled out of control and he wasn’t sure how they had gotten into this position. To make things better, first the dwarf had gone off on her own, and now the druid was missing, if they didn’t have to be here, why did he?
As these thoughts crossed his mind there was a loud bang, eldritch lightning played across the ground and the faint smell of ozone in the air. Seemingly out of nowhere a full retinue of armored guards stood, in the middle of them stood the Grand Sultan Han Gab-Ryll. Maybe this would be worth his time after all.
Bex leaned down next to Bast and whispered, “Well that was a dramatic entrance.” Bast held back a chuckle at Bex’s candor. For himself he was in awe to see the Grand Sultan himself! To save the prince was one this but the ruler of Ryll was before him.
After appraising the area and making sure it was secure the guards reformed formation giving the Grand Sultan a path to his son. Smile on both their faces the embraced, relief clearly written on the Grand Sultans face as he hugged his son.
“Greetings father, it is good to see you.” The prince said after they released their embrace.
“I feared the worse when I heard. Norvell truly smiles upon us by seeing you delivered safely through your ordeals. Now, show me these brave souls who saved you and Port Durst!” Smiling Fin lead his father to the party.
“You already know Gail of course,” He said gesturing towards Gail who gave a humbled bow to his Sultan.
“The Wolf of Ryll returns!” The Grand Sultan acknowledged Gail as an old friend, “Your dedication to Ryll and my family is truly inspiring old friend.”
“I simply do as any servent of Ryll would do my liege.”
“Too humble by far! Never the less, thank you for your work Gail.” Moving on the Sultan turned his gaze on the rest of the party.
“And these are the brave souls who risked life and limb for Ryll.” Fin said gesturing to them.
“This is Bex, a ferocious and loyal sea giant who has bested the mightiest of foes.” Bex gave the Sultan a large smile and bowed.
“It as an honor to meet you your highness.” Hans placed both hands on Bex and replied.
“It is I who an honored, you are a prime example of your people. Thank you for your help tonight, Ryll will not forget it.”
Gesturing to Bast next Fin said, “And this is Bast Sa-Darr, a true son of Ryll.” Bast bowed deeply to the Grand Sultan.
Once again placing both hands on Bast the Sultan said, “Rise friend! Rise! A member of the trading clans putting the Ebba’s to shame!” Laughing he continued, “Thank Norvell he has blessed Ryll with a true warrior spirit in its people.”
“You honor me your highness, I simply do what any son of Ryll would do.” Releasing his hands, the Sultan said, “Trying days are ahead of us son. We will need that kind of sentiment to get through them.”
“Lastly, we have Innathia of the Seraphim, his cunning has served well today. Showing how help can come from even the most surprising areas.” Said Fin.
Innathia bowed deeply to the Sultan, greeting him in the classic elvish greeting. Surprisingly the Grand Sultan replied in kind.
“Always erstwhile allies the Seraphim. How is your brother?” Asked the Grand Sultan.
Caught off guard, Innathia replied. “He is well, thank you for asking.”
“Of course, and I am glad to hear it.”
Introductions over with the Grand Sultan and the Prince moved to address the crowd.
At their appearance, the crowd gathered in front of the cathedral went wild with cheers and applause. Smiling and waving to the crowd, father and son took in the love of their people.
“People of Port Durst! Loyal Servants of Ryll! How it warms my heart to see you!” At this the cheers of the crowd rose louder. Raising his hands for silence the Grand Sultan continued, his tone more somber, “If any one represents the spirit of Ryll it is truly the people of Port Durst. The trials you have faced shame me, while it would be easy to lay all the cities woes on Luhi and his schemes, the true fault lies with me.” At this proclamation denials came from the crowd. Raising his arms for quit again the Grand Sultan continued, “You are kind but it is true. As ruler of these lands the welfare of the people is my single goal. And you people of Port Durst, I have failed.” Tears were running down the Grands Sultans face as he spoke. He wiped them off before continue, his voice firmer and filled with conviction.
“But despite my failings, you, the people of Port Durst have shown me your strength! That no matter what faces you nothing can truly crush the spirit of Ryll in you. I couldn’t ask for more loyal and devout servants, Norvell has smiled upon me, humbling me with the conviction of my people. And it is for this reason that I am reinstating Port Durst as the main naval base of Ryll once again!” At this the crowd let out a loud cheer.
“This town is filled with proud sailors and warriors who have been oppressed and forced to sit idle for far too long! Never again will Port Durst be a footnote in the annals of history! No! From this day forward its name will be spoken with pride! Dark days lay before us friends, but with you walking besides me into the darkness we shall know no fear!” Gesturing to the captive monks the Grand Sultan continued, “Foul servants of Mer-Jin will seek to oppose us but they lack the conviction and strength to win the day!” Arms raised high, voice seemingly to resonate throughout the crowd, Grand Sultan Hans Gab-Ryll continued, “People of Port Durst! Will you ride out with me to see this threat vanquished! To show the world that Ryll is still strong and that Norvell smiles upon us!”
Even louder than before cheers rang out through the crowd. The entire population of Port Durst was gathered before them and their chant rang out with a force that everyone in attendance could feel. The chant was hard to hear at first but eventually the entire crowd was screaming it at the top of their lungs, “Ryll! Ryll! Ryll!” Beaming broadly at the people the Grand Sultan motioned for the executioner. Nodding he pulled the lever, and the bodies dropped. Feet kicking and dangling until finally the stopped.
“And thus, is the fate to all traitors! And all who oppose Ryll!” Yelled the Prince, and the crowd cheered even louder.
With the deed done, the Grand Sultan and the Prince walked off the stage and made their way to the honor guards. They form up around them, the prince waves to Gail and the adventurous before a loud boom takes place and they are gone. The smell of ozone once again on the air.