The Spice Merchant
The Volanthian Academy of Spiritual Arts is buzzing with news regarding the interrogation of the slavers captured in the sewers. After being interrogated by the Volanthian Gaurd, the slavers gave up the source of the illegal time pieces that had allowed them to gain access to the underbelly of the city. The culprit was identified as Luca Vanderhaus, a local mage who worked as a low ranking officer for the Volanthian Customs Agency. However, when the Magewardens arrived to apprehend him, he was found dead, an empty vial of poison in his hand. His death has been ruled a suicide, his final words inked on a piece of parchment found next to his body. Though the Volanthian Guard attempted to keep the incident quiet in order to prevent panic over a perceived threat to the young citizens of Volanthia, a reporter from the Volanthian Cryer caught wind of it and published the story in the evening news.
Unknown to anyone else, prior to these events, Shariekk was instructed by Selenus the Silent to end the life of a mage named Luca Vanderhaus, a traitor to Volanthia. Selenus, resident Assassin instructor at VASA’s secret training facility known as ‘the Den’, wishes it to appear as a suicide and gives him a note to be left with the body.
By now the final words of Luca Vanderhaus have spread throughout the city. In his suicide note he admits to using the resources of the Customs Agency to conjure illegal time pieces to allow Slavers entrance into Volanthian in exchange for a handsome sum of gold. After learning of the capture of the Slavers and knowing the promised gold would never arrive, he became guilt ridden for betraying his beloved city and choose to end his life for the good of Volanthia. After hearing the news, there is outrage in the city, from the highest noble houses down to the lowest working mage. Calls for investigation of corruption in the Customs Agency are being matched with protests before the grand Council of Archmages over the security of city’s youth.
As expected, students are discussing these events in the messhall, one group in particular is keenly interested and listens intently as Valleen Waycrest, ever at ease as the center of attention relays some new information.
Valleen believes this is an all too convenient story. By purposely “leaking” the contents of Luca Vanderhaus’ suicide note to the public, the Volanthian Guard are covering up an even more troublesome truth, one which most of these students have first hand experience with when they were captured by slavers upon their own arrival at the city of mages. She believes that Luca had ties to the same rogue sect within the Royal Order of Archons in Leonen, and that the Volanthian Guard would rather the city focus on corruption within its own walls than deal with a potentially embarrassing diplomatic nightmare with their distant enemies in Leonen.
She backs up her conspiracy theory by claiming she has a contact within the Volanthian Guard, who was present on the scene. He says that the suicide note that was published in the Volanthian Cryer was not the only thing found in Luca’s house. Left out of the report was an entry from Luca’s personal journal, found tucked under his bed. His last entry confirmed much of what was written in the suicide note, but also mentioned a third party, an agent of the the Archons, who had gained access to the city by posing as a travelling spice merchant. But there was one significant contradiction . The journal says that rather than offering gold, this agent had threatened the lives of Luca Vanderhaus’ mundie parents, living in the nearby village of Mahest. Luca wasn’t a traitor, he was as much a victim of these sadistic Archons as anyone, he had no choice but to comply or see his parents butchered.
Now the Volanthian guard are on high alert, as this so-called spice merchant has disappeared, and is believed to be hiding out in the sewers. Inevitably the agent will have no choice but to attempt to flee the city, for if his time piece expires while he remains in or under the city, he will be teleported to a secure chamber in the Customs office, where he can easily be apprehended. Knowing this, the Volanthian Guard has posted Mage Wardens at the gates, hoping to quietly intercept the agent when he attempts to leave the city. They don’t need to bother with slogging around in the sewers looking for him, he’ll fall right into their hands, and all evidence of this will be swept under the rug.
Valleen is the first to realize that what the Volanthian Guard don’t know is that the sewers beneath VASA are infested with Kobolds. The wards that protect Volanthia don’t register “lesser” creatures, which is what allowed the Kobolds to tunnel into the sewers without detection or consequence. But those same tunnels could be used as a means of escape.
“There’s no time to waste! We need to get down there and prevent this ‘spice merchant’ from escaping.” -Valleen Waycrest
The students rush down to the cellar to gain access tot he sewers but find the the grate has been secured with a new lock. Dwahain uses a rune to turn his fists into stone in an attempt to smash tehe lock, damaging it enough that Merek is then able to force it open with his bare hands.
When the students enter the sewers, they are immediately be challenged by group of Kobolds, who claim that the River of Life is their’s and their’s alone. With no time to negotiate, Valleen instructs Merek, Shariekk, and Marimas to deal with the Kobolds, while she and the others go on ahead to secure the breach so that the agent can’t escape.
At the breach they run into the leader of the Kobold colony, a self proclaimed Kahoona, who is angry that they have invaded Kobold lands. He appears to be alone at first but then calls upon his harem to attack, at which point several more kobolds jump out of the large pile of garbage that the Kahoona has been using as his throne. Two Kobold tricksters are also at play, hiding in the shadows.
The Kahoona is finally defeated when Arthur pushes him into the “River of Life” and conjures a set of arcane shackles on him. Unable to swim, the Kahoona begins to sink as the flow of sewage pulls him away.
“the river take me… i am reborn…” -final words of the Kobold Kahoona
As the battle is ending the two groups of students reunite. However, during the chaos of the battle the agent has been able to sneak past everyone. Once the battle ends there is a flash of a spark and the lighting of a torch gives away the ‘Spice Merchants’ position. He stands in the breach, an ethereal hourglass hovering over his head, there is almost no sand left.
“Thanks for the distraction, that was almost too close… we’ll be seeing you real soon…” -the ‘Spice Merchant’
He winks, then turns and runs down the tunnel, tossing a bundle of black powder sticks over his shoulder, the fuse already lit. It explodes before anyone can do anything, and the tunnel collapses.
“Not of word of this to anyone. If Mastermage Alonsus asks, we came down here to seal the tunnel and prevent anymore Kobolds from infesting the sewers. That’s it, promise me…” -Valleen Waycrest
The students have a variety of responses. Dwahain agrees without a second thought. Merek is enraged and demands to see justice done, but Valleen gives her oath.
“Justice will be done Merek, but WE will be the ones to dispense it!” -Valleen Waycrest
Shariekk is skeptical and does not immediately agree, however Valleen explains that being born and raised in Volanthia, she understands the politics better than they do. If Volanthian were to directly accuse the Royal Order of Archons, it could lead to a disastrous new conflict with Leonen. This seems to convince the rest of the group, but Marimas still does not like the idea of hiding the information from Headmaster Octavia Grant and resolves to keep a close on Valleen and her “secrets”.
When they emerge from teh sewers Mastermage Alonsus and the headmaster are waiting for them, demanding an explanation. Headmaster Octavia Grant is upset that they went on an unsanctioned excursion and demands to know who is responsible. before anyone else can answer, Valleen takes responsibility for the whole thing, claiming the others only came along to make sure she wasn’t hurt.
The Headmaster seems satisfied by this answer but informs Valleen that regardless of who her father is, the rules still apply to hee. As a result she receives her first “strike” from the headmaster.