Sunday 30 Rova
Yorastor spent the day preparing for his planned outing. He made no mention to the townsfolk or to the other members of the Band and he avoided Zenovia all day. He finished the fliers for Jorad in the morning. While he wished to keep the business reputation up and running he could see he needed some staff to take over. He had serious matters to prepare for and it was only going to get worse. While he never envisioned himself a hero, Zenovia’s visions and the townsfolks words fired his heart in a way he didn’t expect. He reflected a lot on it too – perhaps Nethys was playing an active role again. It would explain the sudden shift in mood.
On the serious business front, Yorastor would need a covert method of transportation to reach Thistletop Keep. He wished to scout it some and see if the forces there really were bristling for an attack on the town. To this end, Yorastor paid a few coins to a local fisherman to rent a boat for the night. He didn’t mention his plans or his purpose; the rough worker just grunted, “If a Sandpoint hero needs me boat that’s fine with me.” It probably helped that Yorastor left considerable collateral in the man’s hands with a note of credit for the full value of the craft, payable by Zenovia from Yorastor’s share of the Magnimar sales. He figured all would be well but it paid to think ahead.
Personal preparation for the trip came next. Yorastor worked on the scrolls he might need tomorrow focusing on healing and methods to help evade and escape if he was seen. He also planned out his prepared spells – focusing on those that would provide suppression of enemy forces. Between the two he hoped he could survive any unpleasant encounters with the goblin forces. He used most of the day on the scrolls, including all of his most powerful spells. Next, he checked and re-checked his bag. All the needed components where there but he would leave the camping gear and extra food behind. It was extra weight and he wouldn’t need it. Finally, he headed to the lab to mix the potent ingredients he might need in a pinch. He prepared several items, again focusing on versatility. Finally, he penned a small note to the band and Zenovia and set it in the window of the store. If he didn’t return tomorrow it would be seen and someone could force the door and read the note. Help shouldn’t be too far behind him in case things went south. Knowing what Nualia had become though he suspected if she were in the keep he would not survive long enough for the rescue attempt. Still, it was worth a try. At last, he closed the shop and went to sleep.
Yorastor awoke early and set about visiting all over town. He was in search of any skilled in writing and notation. He needed someone there to help keep things going while he was off exploring and helping to build the Red Band. The addition of the Red Summit re-doubled the problem. The town of Sandpoint held enough people, including passers-through, that one or two individuals surely existed with the requisite skills. He just needed to find and hire them. His efforts so far hadn’t panned out though and he was beginning to think he needed to send word to Magnimar and recruit a few bright, fresh faces to the town to its south.
The day crawled to a close and, finally, the sun slipped below the horizon. Yorastor set his plans in motion immediately. He gathered his bag, triple checked everything and confirmed his scroll case was tight to avoid water damage in-transit. Then he set the note in the window, closed and locked the door to the shop and strode into the night. He walked briskly to the docks where the small fishing skiff lay. Unmooring the vessel he set the oars into their locks, pulled on thin goatskin cloves and rowed the small craft out the mouth of the harbor. Once free of the immediate vicinity of Sandpoint he ran the small sail up and headed east out of town on calm waters. Looking back the faint light of stars and moon shone on the island that would give rise to the Red Summit. Yorastor took it as a positive omen.
Moonday 1 Lamashan
As the fishing skiff returned to Sandpoint several hours later it had an extra occupant. A small goblin huddled in the stern of the craft, rope looped over it and fastened to the tiny mast amidships. Already the wretched creature had accepted its plight and new “Master”. It sniveled quietly and bemoaned its fate. By now it had learned Yorastor good reply in Goblin so threats and other mutterings were kept to a minimum. It suited Yorastor just fine. He was tired and stressed from his recon and wanted nothing more than to go home and sleep a few hours.
Even with gloves, the necessary rowing and steering had shredded Yorastor’s soft hands. He debated using his final healing scroll to repair the damage but then thought better of it. The scrolls weren’t cheap to make and he would survive just fine. First though he needed to drop off the goblin, Stenchstep, he really should start thinking of him by his name, at the. He’d need his sleep. His guts told him Zenovia would look him up in the morning and discuss Red Summit further. She’d probably chastise him for his “risk” too but that was another matter.
As he approached the harbor and dropped the sail, Yorastor groaned inside. Pulling on the oars, was painful work as the blisters turned bloody and popped during the final pulls into the small harbor. He’d need bandaging and time off to heal – or he’d need magical help. In either case with some time he’d heal fine. He also realized how much sailing was not his strong suit. He nearly rammed the skiff into its slip before slowin. The goblin has thrown to the hull and knocked out. It was just as well for Yorastor. As they trudged through the mostly deserted streets Yorastor was thankful for the cover of darkness. Vachedi was on duty again. Yorastor knew he was taking Tsuto’s suicide hard but the man did his job well. Nodding tiredly, Yorastor exchanged the bare minimum of words to get the goblin signed in. Before he marched out and went home to rest. Tomorrow would be a long day too. The Sheriff needed to come back soon. Yorastor wanted to clear out Thistletop Keep.
Yorastor strode into The Rusty Dragon at an hour reserved for those with hangovers and general laziness. He’d sent word first thing this morning after pulling back into the harbor that he’d join the party for a late breakfast, on him. This was a bit of joke between them all now. None of the people called “Sandpoint’s Heroes” had paid for anything they ate or drank in almost a week. Fame, and hero status, did have its perks. A look down at his torn hands though showed the pains it had too. He was fresh from his meeting with Zenovia and still a bit worked up.
As he saw the party in the back corner, he motioned to Bethana and strode to meet the others. He arrived at the same time as the elderly halfling and Yorastor nodded, smiled and pushed back his hood. It was something new he was trying. When he wished to speak, or didn’t mind being spoken to, he went without the hood. He’d found it effective so far.
“Good morning Bethana! You look young as ever today! Yes, I’d love something but you must let me pay this time. I understand how Ameiko feels but I have feelings too – and mine keep getting hurt by this silly policy! I’d love some ham, eggs and toast please along with a cup of the eau, if you would.”
Bethana alternated facial expressions as polite conversation dictated; smiling at his greeting, blushing and waving at his compliment and half formed protestations at his desire to pay. By the time Yorastor reached his order her face returned to its usual attentive expression. Her eyebrows spiked up at the mention of the eau though.
“Eau Master Yorastor? Are you sure at this hour? Are you well, sir?”
“Quite well, just a long night. Need something to help fortify me is all.”
The diminutive waitress smiled, shook her head and nodded, “As you wish sir. I’ll back shortly. Anyone else?” The party shook their heads in the negative.
“Where have you been Yorastor?” asked Kohra.
“Indeed, and what have you been doing that your hands are bandaged and you are in need of fortification at this hour?” quipped Dorin.
Yorastor smiled, gave his head a shake, accepted the freshly returned eau and took a sip. Then he began the tale.
“If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to get this all out before you ask any questions. Before I forget any key details. I’ve been up most of the night and starting to get fuzzy in the head.
Yesterday I prepared for a trip by boat to Thistletop Keep. I wanted to scout for the possible attack and verify if Naulia was present on the fortress. I made a few scrolls, prepared some alchemical agents and borrowed a looking-glass from Veznutt. Then I rented a fishing skiff from a local and awaited nightfall. While both the goblins and me have the ability to see in the dark I figured they would have lights and I’dve the element of surprise.
I sailed fairly close and pretended to be a normal night fisherman heading up to the reef that others have had such great luck on. Dropping anchor I pretended to fish while quietly observing the top of the island. I noted the following but I could be wrong on exact numbers.” Yorastor paused to sip the eau and then ticked off the points on his fingers, “
- the chief Ripnuggert is present on the fortress. I heard him called out several times.
- Just over a dozen goblins were active in the fortress itself
- I counted four goblin dogs in the fortress
- More goblin troops are in the woods – I spotted a single rider on a goblin dog near a precarious looking rope bridge.”
Yorastor paused as the food arrived. He waited till they had privacy before continuing.
“More importantly, I was able to secure a source of information. I was not the only night fisherman in the area. A foolish goblin was trying to net some fish on the outcroppings a bit off the island. His name is Stenchstep. I hit him with a sleep spell, tied him up and slipped away. I’ve turned him over to Varchedi at the jail when I returned. I’d like to rest some then, perhaps, we can go interrogate him and see what he knows? I think there is something afoot here and they have sufficient troops for sure. An attack at least the size of the last one would be possible and I have no clear information on the number of troops they have in the woods. Naulia wasn’t present though. I made a rough map of the presumed layout of the fortress. Mind you, it’s from an odd angle so it may not be all correct.
Questions and thoughts my fellow Banders?” With that ending Yorastor tucked into his meal and awaited the questions of the others.