Fire Rising

Adventure #4 in Signs and Portents.
Difficulty: Moderate.
Description This mini-adventure is the start of a two-part adventure for a campaign based in Selvos, Kanday. It is designed to introduce local politics and seasonal issues into the campaign. Repercussions of this event will be echoed throughout upcoming adventures. In addition, the second part (05 – Minter Mysteries) documents only one possible outcome of this adventure.

Lead-Ins

  • Welcome stranded traveller. The town has suffered three fires in five days. The docks are closed and military patrols are everywhere. Naturally, as the strangers in town, you’re being blamed.
  • For Justice’. The townsfolk want answers and few are willing to give them. Naturally, the Laranian temple sends its best agents to deal with the problem.
  • For Mercy. The townsfolk want answers and few are willing to give them. Naturally, the Peonian temple sends its best agents to deal with the problem.
  • For Coin. The townsfolk want answers and few are willing to give them. Naturally, the Halean temple sends its best agents to deal with the problem; after a fee is fixed, naturally.
  • Why not?. Local merchants will hire help, especially if their reputation precedes them.

Rumors

  • Agrikans. It must be agrikans. For once, the common rumor mill might be right. It’s a crime relating to fire, so maybe it is.
  • This is what you get for not paying your rent. Obviously, the slums are being burnt to try and reclaim the land for greater ventures.
  • It’s all a plot to cover some greater event. Another murder, maybe smugglers – something big is happening while we’re all looking at the flames.

Synopsis

In the summer of 721TR, two men decide to take the law into their own hands and see Selvos destroyed. Their method involves fires, and they are very good at it. They set the first fire at 10th. The second fire is set on the 12th, taking out the bonding house in the middle of the night.

The third fire sets the Peonian church aflame on the 14th; and Father Yoseph’s life is put in danger. If the party can’t figure out who’s doing it and why, the guilty parties will continue setting fires every two nights until there’s nothing left standing in Selvos.

Building the enemy

Sir Tesoro Fabre, Lieutenant of the Green Owls, made his reputation when he found Agrikan sympathizers in Selvos and saw them and the Agrikans they harbored all captured and hung. The last great purge of Agrikan sympathizers happened in 711TR. Sir Tesoro swore an afidavid that a trusted informant told him about where to find the sympathizers. He patrolled the northern heath and, sure enough, found the Dislyne family returning with a cart full of goods. When questioned, none of the family was willing to denounce Agrik; and so they were killed and the bodies burned. Two young boys managed to escape – but rather than admit failure, Sir Tesoro claims to have killed them as well. His men, members of The Green Owls, support his story. Their trusted informant died in a shipwreck off the Kandian coast in 715TR.

The two young Dislyne boys escaped into the hinterlands. They grew up in Minter, claiming to be sons of a merchant killed on the moor. They were adopted by a local bachelor farmer (Barien of Minter) who was accommodating if not loving. He had a small farm on the edge of town and kept mostly to himself. He did not explain the presence of the boys, and with the local chamberlain (Wereda Dasethyn’s) help, he deflected inquiries towards them; he said to help alleviate their own fears. But in truth he has his own mission.

Over the past decade, Kine Dislyne and Gered Barien (ne Dislyn) plotted and planned. And when their adoptive father died of old age, they came to Selvos. Perhaps not surprisingly, no one in Selvos recognizes them as the children of the Agrikan sympathizers hung so many years ago. In the spring of 721, they joined the hustle and bustle of the town, finding work on the docks. They waited and they watched. By summer, they had a plan, and started to act.

They have a Morgathian holy symbol (in the form of a gryphon statuette that opens up to reveal a carved empty moon), and have been using it as their good luck talisman. Its presence makes the two men invisible to the sight or any kind of scrying.

Plot points

  • Part 1: The Mill. The First event and why we missed it. Selvos gets dry in the summer, and grain warehouses are highly flammable you see.
  • Part 2: The Bonding House. The second fire and why everyone saw it. The warehouse was full of trade goods and, if it hadn’t been set at noon; chances are many would have died.
  • Part 3: The Peonian temple. The third fire and why the church got involved. One was an accident. Two was a coincidence. But three? At three it’s a danger and the church got involved because someone asked.
  • Part 4: And so on…

Part 1: The Mill

It started late in the night, by the time the glow was visible; there wasn’t much left to be saved. A fortnight of labour to rebuild the mill; with all the temple’s aid to reset the mill wheel.

The miller, Baras, has only had the roll of a miller for Selvos these past 10 years. On the day of the fire, he greased the wheel and then went to dinner with his current love (Malkea of Malon). She cooked him and her brother dinner at her residence near the docks. It had been Karaig’s intention to leave the two of them alone after dinner, but the hew and cry about the fire spoiled all their plans.

The day before the fire, Baras had only a few customers – two of the cooks from the caer came by for fresh-milled flour as did three local farmers. Baras often runs the mill wheel on quiet days to draw customers to him. While he holds almost all the region’s grain in his silo’s; not all of it is his. 1/2 belongs to the earl, 1/8th belongs to him, and the remainder is independently owned by the farmers. Baras uses tally sticks to keep track of the amounts of grain he holds, and who owns it. Unfortunately, the fire took everything from him – his tally sticks, the grain, and his home.

The fire started at the mill wheel. It destroyed the floor below the wheel and destroyed the mechanism that engages the water wheel. It broke the spar holding the water wheel, and sent the wheel tumbling into the river where locals rushed to save it. It gutted the attached residence, and destroyed all of Baras’ belongings. The mill wheel was “greased” with Karejia oil. Baras admits to greasing the stone before leaving for the day, but he didn’t see anything unusual.

As the curfew bell rang, Kine Dislyne ran into the mill’s courtyard, and tossed a lit torch onto the mill wheel. It started the fire immediately.

A second flask of oil was tossed at the door of the closest grainery. A second torch started the fire and consumed one of the graineries – starting at the bottom and racing to the top. When it reached the top, the grain dust exploded, sending the fire into the other graineries.

It was the wench at the White Gold Inn (Melissa) who saw the fire first. She noticed a few neighbors on their stoops, watching and yelled at them to raise the hew and cry. She returned to the inn and told everyone what she saw. The slops she stepped out to empty, got dumped by the roadside and forgotten. Everyone in the vicinity went to their neighbors house to carry the hew and cry (if questioned they will be adamant about that and it should be relatively easy to track it back to Melisa).

Baras will stay at the site to see the fire finally put out and to comb through the wreckage looking for anything of his personal supplies that might have survived. The grain that did not burn is ruined with smoke, fire and water. Some will be used for porridge, some will be sprouted and used for animal feed.

If asked, Baras will notice that there are two barrels missing from the wreckage. He used them to store grain when the bags broke or if he had to get grain from the silos.

A day or two after the fire, in the recouping of the mill wheel (it’s fallen through the structure and threatening to fall into the river proper), a thick black oil can be found around the center of the mill wheel. Baras will admit to having greased the wheel before he left for the night, but it hardly seems reasonable that the oil would survive the fire. If the grease is examined by an alchemist there is a strong chance it can be identified as Karegia Oil.

Touching the oil is unpleasant, but the only image is of Baras greasing the wheel from a bucket. Touching other things, or delving deeper results in images of the fire or nothing.

Part 2: The Bonding House

The Bonding House went up at midday; and no one’s too sure how. The fire started in one of the smaller lockers, destroying four different merchant’s goods (8 bushels of wool, 1 bushel of vellum, 2 score of blankets, and 2 barrels of arrows). The fire was gotten to before it could spread through the thick walls into another locker, but the door is warped and the walls etched by flame.

A local worker will remember a young squire – fresh faced and fresh shorn, good boots and coming from money with dark hair – carried the barrel upright. He wouldn’t put it down and roll it, as the worker was want to do. At the time the worker thought it was because the squire was determined to do the job right and thought nothing of it.

The paperwork came signed, although Sir Tesero last used the bonding house in the fall of 720TR, when he signed and sealed the paperwork. The barrel’s paperwork has a mark and his seal, but no actual signature.

If the castle is searched, Sir Tesero’s seal is missing from his room, and he’s never had a personal squire, much less one so young in The Green Owls.

All the goods of the bonding house have to be checked for smoke and water damage, and it takes three days to clear everything out of the bonding house, scrub walls and floor, and restock.

The cargo that burned is bonded to Sir Tesoro Fabre (a barrel of arrows). It seems the bottom of the barrel was filled with Karejia oil; while rare, it is known to be openly bought and sold in Golotha. Sir Tesoro has no reason (and no claim) to make his own arrows, let alone sell any excess his Green Owls may have. It is highly doubtful he remembers pinning a man to a wall with a green-fletched arrow over a decade ago.

The barrel came in yesterday at the same time as a bushel of wool. Since the paperwork was sealed already, no one thought anything of it. The Bondsmaster has no record of meeting Sir Tesoro recently, and doesn’t remember filling out the papers. Using psionics on the papers (assuming no one else touches them) or the barrel can result in a scene showing how the fire was set, and perhaps a glimps of one of the two arsonists.

Part 3: The Peonian temple

Father Yoesf of Kesyn was just closing up for the night when he found the doors to the temple barred. A torch thrown atop an oil-soaked thatch set the temple ablaze. Only the quick thinking of the spectators might be able to free Father Yoesf from the blaze. But the doors (front and side) are wedged shut and the heat from the fire makes the doors swell. Unless someone hacks through a wall, there is no escape.

Naturally, Father Yosef (if he survives), takes this attack personally and is more than willing to believe he’s done something to deserve someone’s wraith. But he cannot possibly realize that he is being blamed for allowing the killing of a family that were legally identified as Agrikan sympathizers a decade ago. If Father Yosef falls, the most senior sister will take leadership of the temple and the ceremonial burial of the good father will occur within the next few days.

At this point the Laranian temple will get involved as any attack on the Peonian church is seen as a slight on the temple’s honor.

Part 4: And so on…

Every two days, another building will go up in flames. Places that are full of people will be avoided, but homes containing militia, yeomen, and eventually the Caer will be targeted. Each fire will be fairly simple; mostly focusing on oil or torches in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The brothers will continue their onslaught until caught. If the patrols become too tight, they will set fire to the orchards across the River Eisma; placing dry tinder around the base of each tree. The same will be done to the larger fields. When people go out to protect the fields, the homes and businesses will be attacked anew.

The brothers are staying at the Safe Harbour Inn, and have been coming into town as small-time wool farmers for the past three years. They are familiar enough to not be considered strangers and are using their real names. They have a cart-load of torches and barrels of oil kept in the town square. The tarped cart is easily accessible by all. The guards think it must belong to one of the merchants, but so far no one’s done anything about it. After day four the merchants will start to complain about it because it’s in everyone’s way.

Conclusions

  • With the destruction of Selvos’ grain, the city has no seed stock for the fall and will have to buy grain to get them through the next few months until the harvest.
  • With the destruction of the warehouse, three ships have damaged their loads and their captains are screaming for compensation. A settlement will have to be reached, but it will leave Selvos very poor of cash.
  • If Father Yoesf of Kesyn dies, things will go from bad to worse. The locals will demand action. There will be riots, and strangers will be attacked in the streets as potential arsonists.

How it really went

  • 14 – Here we go again. Two fires in the Selvos summer. Wonders of wonders. The party goes out on patrol and nothing happens! But when they get back to Selvos, however our story begins. 12th-16th of Nolus (Game date: May 5, 2013).
  • 15 – Fire!. – Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice… After the second fire, the party is growing suspicious and head back to re-investigate the site of the first fire. Could our illustrious heroes have missed a clue? 16th of Nolus (Game date: May 19, 2013).
  • 16 – PC danger! PC danger! – Don’t use water! The third fire is an attack on the Peonian church. This cannot stand. What was a political and economic issue becomes an issue of eternal damnation. 16th of Nolus (Game date: June 2nd 2013)

Fire Rising

The Fantastinomicon ketherian