After spending the night in Sandstorm, the party debated whether or not to continue on to the capital, Cyrodiil, or to head back to Foamcrest and through the mountains to Glassbarrow. They decided to head to the capital. Miyako saddled one sheep, Pippin, and Genesis hooked up his camel to the wagon. Merry, the other sheep rode in the wagon, and everyone else walked.
After four uneventful days in the sand, the party reaches a crossroad. They checked their progress on the map and saw that they were only a couple of days from Cyrodiil, but there was no fork on the map.
Miyako investigated the sign, wondering if it was a trap and realized that the sign pointing the adventurers to the capital had always pointed there and no one had written over the sign. They stopped to talk about which path they should take. Elessar argued that they should go first to Cyrodiil to pay someone to watch the wagon and animals and Genesis agreed. Miyako hesitated and wanted to explore the path whilst Toma stayed silent.
Toma and Miyako decided to explore the path not on the map. Genesis and Elessar headed to Cyrodiil to leave the wagon and animals so they would not be injured.
As Toma and Miyako approached the tower, they realized that they could not see the tower and, instead, it was completely covered with vines. They stopped, Toma saying that it could be filled with plant monsters just waiting to attack and if they were to touch the vines, they would grab them. He then told Miyako to cut the vines, but she wanted to climb the tower to see if there was anything at the top. Toma offered to toss her up and they argued, Toma saying it would be faster; Miyako saying that was far less safe than simply climbing it.
Miyako began to climb the tower and, eventually, made it to the top. She began cutting sections of vine and Toma started pulling the sections away from the tower. He soon found a strip of wood, a door, and he cleared the vines from it to enter. Miyako slowly descended and nearly fell, but managed to catch herself after a few feet. Behind the vines she could see a layer of cloudy windows and attempted to smash them in. She dropped her dagger and decided to climb to the ground.
After retrieving her dagger from the dirt, she followed Toma inside. They left the door open so they could escape easily. Toma heard whistling and saw a light on the stairs, moving down towards them at a lazy pace.
“Hello!” Toma called out to the man, but only heard clicking in response. The light rounded the turn in the stairs and they could see now what it was that emitted the sounds. It was a tall, rather fat creature with grey skin and lanky limbs. His fingers were like twigs with claws as sharp as broken glass, and just as jagged. His eyes were dark and shied away from the sunlight spilling in the open door. The creature living in the tower was not the odd thing, however. What was odd was that he wore a dark robe that was too short for him and was carrying notes attached to his claws that, as he strode down the stairs, he was reading intently.
Toma remained by the now closed door, hesitant to disturb the creature. Miyako, however, brought paper over to the creature and wrote a pleasant hello on it. The creature then used his claw and, having had much practice in writing in this manner, responded with his own hello. They communicated through the paper this way.
How are you?
Well, I’ve been better.
Why are you in this tower? Why are there vines all over the tower?
I have not been outside in five years.
Frankly, I don’t know how to use a doorknob. Miyako stifled a laugh.
What have you been doing?
I have been trying to reverse a failed potion experiment.
What type of potion?
I failed to make a potion that would turn myself into a dragon.
I can help you turn back, if you want.
Yes, follow me upstairs. I can understand the common tongue, but I cannot speak it. Miyako then introduces Cody and they follow the strange creature upstairs. The ettercap then writes I need fifteen herbs total, but I already have five. He points to a flask which Miyako retrieves, then followed him over to three plants in a corner. Elf ears. The thing began to move away as soon as Miyako had seen what he wrote.
“I don’t know what elf ears look like.” Miyako protests to the creature stopped and began to write something else.
They are the only ones that look like elf ears. He shambles off to collect a few himself and she plucks a few of the leaves from the correct plant. He leads her over to three more herbs and writes Dragon tongue and walks away. Miyako looks at the three and picks the plant that is most brightly colored and follows him to the next herb.
The next two plants he brings her to look like a potato and a radish but he writes that she is looking for goat root. Toma and Miyako debate on which one is correct and they decide to pick the potato-like plant. They hurry on to follow the alchemist as he approaches a great shelf of plants.
Cumberbatch toes. He shuffles on without another word. The first plant looks like grape tomatoes, except they are purple in color. The second are little blueberries except they are sniffing the air around them with little noses. The third is a thorny bramble of unripened strawberries, eagerly wiggling their little fingers. The fourth they don’t believe is even a plant as it looks as if it is a blue frog that the man has just stuck into a pot with dirt. The fifth is a stalk weighed down by orange cucumbers with purple spots.
Miyako remembers that she learned somewhere that they are cool in color, so they both rule out the strawberries and cucumbers. Toma knows the toes are not the tomatoes and they are left with the blueberries or the frog. They argue, saying that the frog is the better choice because it would actually have toes and that the blueberries have noses. They pick the frog plant and boil all the ingredients in a pot, pouring what is left into the flask.
They quietly argue about whether or not they should inform the creature on their possible mistake, but just agree to stay silent. He drinks the potion and, in a flash of light and puff of smoke, a new creature emerges. Instead of the hideous, lanky monster a majestic, golden-furred sphinx steps forward.
“This was not exactly what I had in mind.” He rumbles. “Yet it is better to be a sphinx than to be an ettercap.” The two adventurers sigh in relief. “As a reward you can both choose a potion from the shelf over there. I do not remember what most of them do, but you can still take one if you like.” Miyako decided to take a silver potion and Toma chose a blue one. After thanking him, they turn to leave.
As Toma and Miyako were creating a potion, Genesis and Elessar were just making it to the city. They stop at the stables just outside the gate and pay Snat, the half-orc running the stable, a gold coin to care for the sheep, camels, and wagon for the duration of their stay. He gladly accepts and then closed the stable to other customers for the day. After paying him, they head back to the fork where they meet up with Miyako and Toma, just finishing their little adventure. They all turn towards the city and the two explain what happened at the tower. They showed off their prizes and Elessar determined a few ingredients of the potions and what they do.
“Yours will summon unicorns.” He told Miyako, then turned to Toma. “Yours acts like chloroform.” They excitedly chatter about their potions until they reach the city.
Once in the grand capital, they enter the gates for the first time and look around. Elessar immediately went to Osha, the traveling merchant who set up her stand just inside the walls.
“Bastard sword! Kilmil’s Plate, Aladdin’s Ring! Divine scroll, Elixir of Sneaking, Chain Garb of Thori!” She shouts out to the small crowd. The scroll caught the attention of Elessar and he asks the price. “I’ll sell it to you for twenty gold pieces.” He digs out the coins as she pulls the scroll from the chest sitting next to her. They exchange items as Miyako approached the stand.
“Where did you get that ring from?” She asks the merchant woman.
“I found it on my travels. A hundred gold and it’s yours.” Miyako then haggled with the woman who, after yelling prices back and forth as people around stared in concern, agreed to let him have it for eighty-three instead of one hundred.
“If there’s a ring, there must be an Aladdin. Maybe he’ll have a genie and reward us for returning it!” Elessar exclaimed excitedly. After Genesis and Miyako contemplate buying the Elixir, they decide they are better off without it. The party reads the signs and decides the next place to stop at is Bloodbath &Beyond. Elessar, Miyako, and Genesis go across from the weapons store to Good Will’s Exchange and General Goods. Toma returns to Osha’s stand after seeing nothing of much worth at the armorers.
“How much is the fishing pole?” Miyako and Genesis harmonized and paused.
“Five gold, but I’ve only got one. You two gotta bid to see who gets it, I guess.” He smiles at the thought of more gold.
“I’ll give you six gold for it.” Genesis says and waits for Miyako to up the price.
“I’m not bidding for it, I was going to let you have it.”
“Six gold for the pole it is.” Genesis shrugs and pays the man.
They all return to Osha’s just as Toma is handing over one hundred gold for a set of plate armor. Elessar offers to check the armor and Miyako’s ring, to see if they are special in any way. He notices a faint aura on the armor but can’t determine anything about the ring. They continue on into the city and enter the Merchant’s Quarter.
Miyako and Genesis head to the fletcher and Elessar went to another stand, this one for potions and called PIrelli’s Miracle Elixirs. He inspects a gold one that the man tells him smells like vinegar and a violet one with bronze swirls that the man warns him even though smells appetizing, tastes extremely horrible. He gets the man to sell him the violet potion for thirty-two gold, three gold less than the price he stated.
At Going Ballista Fletching, Genesis traded his shortbow and arrows for a hand crossbow and bolts, then bought more bolts. They return to the front square and Elessar convinces them to go to the herbalist’s shop around the corner. They begin walking towards it but, as they pass the Temple of Pelor, they hear shouts.
They all burst into the temple, afraid someone is going to get hurt. The first thing they see as they open the door is the body on the ground, blood all over. Genesis questions the yelling priest about what happened.
“Headpriest Cornelius has been killed, and the holy icon of Pelor has been stolen. The icon is powerful and is very important to us.” The priests he was yelling at look grateful that he’s no longer yelling at them.
“If we find it, we should pawn it.” Miyako offers quietly.
“Are there any suspects? Or witnesses?” Genesis asks the man.
“There are never any guards posted outside. Pelor protects us from harm so the guards just patrol the streets. The temple stays open at night, for worshipers that are unable to come and pray during the day. Cornelius attends to the temple from seven until four in the morning. That is when we found him.” As the priest explains to Genesis, Elessar inspects the body and surrounding area for clues. He notices two stab wounds, most likely from a dagger, on Cornelius’ chest and a small hand print in the blood on the back of a pew. Miyako walked between the pews to check for clues there.
Elessar, while inspecting, notices that there is a logbook where churchgoers have signed underneath Cornelius’ name, stating their attendance. The names there are Maya, Cyrus, Hope, and Neil.
“Pierre was here before Cornelius, but he did not report anything amiss.” Miyako had made it to the altar now and was investigating the papers here. “All we know about Neil is that he lives next to Good Will’s in the poor quarter.”
The party left the temple to investigate the murder. Miyako headed for April’s Lively Livery to shop for clothes and ask her questions. Elessar, Toma, and Genesis all headed to confront Neil at his home. After arriving and knocking on the door, Will tells them that he works in the Merchant District and that he wouldn’t be home right now.They head back and split up. Genesis went to the inn, Toma went to Gandalf’s Closet, the wizard’s guild, and after a moment of indecision Elessar went to the Glad Gladiator, the fighter’s guild.
Miyako had bought fine looking clothes and asked April if she knew who Neil was.
“He comes in here sometimes to have his clothes patched up. He burns holes in them sometimes.”
“How does he burn holes in them?”
“I know he works with food, but he’s much too frail to be a butcher.” Miyako thanked her and left, heading for the bakery.
At the inn, Genesis started a conversation with the innkeep, Molag-Bal.
“Is there a churchgoer named Neil that works here?”
“No, I only hire women, if you know what I mean.”
“How much are they?”
“The high class ones are fifteen gold, the okay ones are five gold, and the cheap one is one gold. Do not pay for the cheap one. She has so many diseases and she’s old and disgusting. Trust me, you don’t want that.”
“I’ll take a high class one. Who is there?”
“There’s Swanahilde, the halfling, Renna, the elf, Maya, the human, Ariphi, the tiefling, and Faebis, the dragonborn.”
“I’ll take Ariphi.” He then went upstairs with her.
Toma had gone to the wizard’s guild and met a dwarven fellow name Welgik. He asked him about the murder, which had now spread to the rest of the district. He didn’t know anything but said the younger wizards might know something. He approached a female elf sitting not too far away. She introduced herself as Tayenna.
“Do you know anything about the murder?”
“No, but I do know Maya. She usually attends at night because many people know what she works as. She doesn’t like the whispers.”
“Do you know anyone else that attend the church?”
“No, few people here at the guild worship a god, much less Pelor.”
“Do you know anyone named Neil?”
“Yes, he works at the bakery.” He thanked her for her time and went to speak to another student, Mallen. He asked the same kinds of questions but he did not know anything, or who Neil was. Toma did ask what the man was studying and found out he is training in potions.
Just across the street, Elessar was visiting the fighter’s guild. He walked in and grunted and motioned in an I am Groot motion. The fighters motioned for him to enter the ring and challenge someone. Elessar then held up his hand in a stop motion. He began to shuffle back and forth, mumbling something about a hammer. The fighters took a step back, looking terrified.
“I apologize, do you know of a man named Neil?” He spoke eloquently and clearly. They shook their heads and Elessar left.
They all met outside the bakery, preparing to go in and find Neil.