It feels good to be back on the open sea again – during the last few days I began to doubt that we would ever make it aboard our ship. Sitting here in our quarters belowdecks, eating a lime (my companions seem unable to grasp the seriousness of the threat of scurvy) and trying to ignore the disturbingly moist noises coming from Martha’s bunk, I’ve decided to pass the time by making a brief record of the events of the last day.
Upon our successful return from the Feygate and our felicitous trade of the battered body of Kaya in Inwe's form (may she rot in a dank, dark, rat-infested jail cell) for 3000 gold pieces, our party decided to hit the market and get suited up for the adventure ahead. As we examined the wares in an alchemist’s shop, Balasar heard the sound of a scuffle outside. Upon investigation, we saw a long-haired human – attired in a get-up rather more appropriate for lounging on one’s settee on a late Sunday afternoon than visiting the storefronts of downtown Altaire – being harassed by two thugs, one of whom appeared to hail from more easterly parts, demanding of the scruffy bumbler – who, additionally, emitted an aroma of grain alcohol, milk products and burnt herbs – a “device” or “mechanism” or something. For some reason – I guess he shares a name with that robot inventor of violent architectural tendencies who disappeared to Centaris – we allowed this apparently useless ragamuffin to join our party, despite his unappealing humanness.
With our slovenly and intoxicated new companion, known only as “the Knave,” tossed over Balasar’s shoulder, we decided it was high time to pay a visit to the first slummy pub that crossed our path. Aside from consuming copious amounts of spirits, we also wished to probe the public’s opinion of the heightened military presence that had gathered in Altaire in preparation for the coming invasion of Centaris. Martha and I downed a few cups of foul whisky and chatted with the barkeep, who gave us the impression that there is considerable discord within the mid-ranking military. As Martha wandered off to seduce a feminine-looking coat rack, I learned that one officer in particular known as Kone may be trying to mobilize the opposition.
Meanwhile, Balasar decided to peace out and visit Moradin’s temple, where he dropped an absurd quantity of coin in offering to his god before retiring to the Guild pub. There he continued to display his ill-considered generosity by buying the house several rounds of drinks and then literally showering the patrons with gold. Before meeting Balasar there, the rest of our party stopped by a less-slummy guild pub patronized by adventurers who for mercenary reasons generally appeared pleased with the upcoming campaign, with the exception of a group led by a man named Dayn.
The next morning, we awoke to the vibrations of parade drums rattling through our liquor-shrivelled brains. The streets were filled with spectators observing the passage of the Altairian guards, who were followed by a grim contingent of hobgoblin soldiers with their grotesque fighting-beasts at their side. As the Imperial troops marched through, the crowd became increasingly unruly, shouting crude epithets and throwing first rubbish, then bottles and sticks into the parade, until finally we heard a loud crack and smelled burnt saltpeter – a bomb had gone off amongst the hobgoblin troops. As we saw the extremely pissed-off hobgoblins raise their weapons, our party decided to intervene to attempt to keep the citizen bystanders out of harm’s way.
A contingent of Altairian guards stood nearby, shouting in incomprehensible goblin for the hobgoblins to stand down. As we approached the rioting mass, Inwe, in a move that I shall refrain from commenting on, cast a fireball into the group of hobgoblins and beasts. As the fireball exploded among his troops, the hobgoblin leader gave an order to kill, and our party went into battle as the Altairian civilians tried to flee. As I stabbed away at the fearsome Worg, out of the corner of my eye I saw at least one civilian fall under a hobgoblin sword. Balasar and Martha also trained their efforts on the Worg, as the newest member of our party finally proved himself to be something other than totally useless by flattening several bugbears with an admittedly impressive spell. Inwe finally managed to calm the hobgoblins by skillfully casting a spell of friendliness. Unfortunately, we then faced the angry and bewildered Altairian soldiers, who surrounded us, and despite our protestations, hauled us off to the clink for inciting a riot. “We have a boat to catch!” we exclaimed, to no avail.
Thankfully, Menin’s high rank and smooth talking managed to convince the commissioner that our mission was of vital importance, and that – despite appearances – we were too valuable to be locked up during the campaign to Centaris. Although Menin’s secrecy and gruffness had disposed me to be wary of her, her actions in the commissioner’s office incline me to think she’s trustworthy. After about an hour, Menin came into our cell—interrupting our game of matchstick poker with the guards – and announced we were free. We scurried to the dock. Now, as we sail off to the unknown North, the events of the last day have begun already to feel like ancient history – but I have a sense that we have not felt all of their consequences yet.