The group rests and relaxes after their retrieval of the coat of eyes (and it’s return to the temple for destruction), the the symbiotes are also turned over as no one can even contemplate using them, despite their apparent power. While rest is initially relaxing, one night Keira, Vikaris, Riya and Jubal all have a horrific dream: Torn out eyes, bloody limbs and imagery of maimed people pervade the entire night. All wake up with a sense of dread and distinct sense of wrongness. The early morning is consumed with the discussion of the dream (in Keira’s room) and possible implications – but few answers are yet found.
This changes when there is a knock on the door.
Dax (a servant) summons the group to the presence of Bodel Arthen. After a cursory greeting Bodel immediately begins to discuss a troubling development over the northern border (in neighboring Aundair). Seems one of the local nobles is contemplating a grizzly solution to the droughts plaguing the area – she is convinced (from where?) that a sacrifice tax will put an end to the blight – not just any sacrifice tax but a human one with anyone crossing the main bridge on the border required to sacrifice an eye a hand and for larger groups (such a full trade contingent) a human life! Such a strange decree in a normally civilized land must be investigated and further must be stopped. Unfortunately with the wounds of the Last War still so fresh, official action will have to wait and a military solution is almost unthinkable at this early stage. Thus it falls on some unofficial representatives to perhaps talk the noble into re-thinking her position The prevailing theory is that something is influencing the noble, maybe even something demonic – and that’s rapidly becoming the groups specialty.
After some pulled strings, the players get a meeting with Mayor Joren of Relkingham who can supposedly get them an introduction and meeting with Counselor Neelani – the noble in question. The party lets Keira do most of the talking – which proves to be a good idea as the mayor is a shameless flirt and between that and Keira’s practiced words the group obtains an glowing letter of invitation t speak with Counselor Neelani. And more than that, they actually convince the mayor to dip into the treasury and pay them to speak with Neelani (1,500 gps, so far o good)! The mayor warns them that the trek up is short, but the roads have become lawless as of late as the drought has both stretched provisions and the constables to the absolute limit.
The group starts the 3 day trek uneventfully, but on the third day find their path blocked by three huge scraggly men fingering ridiculously oversized axes. The men demand all the groups gold as well as the armor and weapons. Naturally this request does not go over well and (despite Keira’s efforts at negotiation) a fight ensues. The group tries a non-lethal approach, but the 3 thugs are actually berserkers (as Vikaris finds out when after a good blow against one results in foam at the mouth and a retaliatory strike that nearly sends Vikaris to the ground). The battle is hard fought, but ultimately, the group winds up with some nice big axes as trophies.
The group finally make it to the Palace of the Noble counselor Neelani (though whether noble is anything more than a title is yet to be determined). The group is met by a halfling senechal who immediately ushers them in (apparently the mayor sent glowing word ahead). The group wisely kneels to the counselor and preceeds (well Keira mostly, though Jubal has some good insights) to explain why the edict is such a terrible idea. The counselor is initially difficult to persuade (explaining that the high priest Avonathemon has made it clear that the sovereign host will lift the drought with the propert sacrifice), but is worn down with persistence and good argument. Nerelani vows that the decree shall not be enacted and leaves the room. As she is leaving, one of her maids (eyeing the guards) mentions an alternate exit to the party. The group wonders why this is necessary until 1) they hear the senechal cry that the edict has been taken (by Avonathemon) shortly followed by what could only be considered a death gurgle, 2) Keira’s remembrance of an old, but powerful custom – if the edict is read on a consecrated alter in Aundair it becomes law – noble’s approval or no. and 3) The sudden realization that the guards, standing at ease a moment ago, have blocked all the exits!
Things are about to get interesting.