The party headed back to Simon Keeper with news of the bulette’s defeat and the discovery of what appeared to be a plot to disrupt the harvest. The tabard that the party discovered is identified as a symbol of the Kronnerath, specifically the old duer Battle Flag of the Revolution. A century ago, the duer people rose up against their King and installed a populist Parliament in its place. As it turned out, there were still duer in Uduerinstand who remain loyal to the old duer monarchy, and a particular sect of the Kronnerath, the Black Masks, actively agitated against the duer government. One common saying amongst the Kronnerath is that “the revolution is not yet over,” this explaining why they adopted the flag of revolt as their symbol.
After a history lesson, the PCs set off to see if they could find anything out about the Kronnerath in Freehold. They quickly tired of rumor-seeking and eventually figured out that the most likely place to start was with the Duer Defense Force. There they met with Krieger Schaldhamer, the general in charge. Schaldhamer was a dour old survivor of the Revolution, and though he acknowledged that a Kronnerath element likely existed within the DDF, he did not think them the likely culprits. His focus was outward, on securing the frontier of the Reclaimed Lands against threats from without.
Schaldhamer’s clerk, a portly duer named Damodar, felt otherwise, and after the PCs left Schaldhamer, the clerk confided in the PCs. He said that he felt the Kronnerath were a more insidious element than Schaldhamer believed, and he suggested that the PCs speak with a ranger named Hardwood at the Stone Champion tavern.
The Stone Champion, it turned out, was an out of the way place in an otherwise sparsely repopulated area of the city. The party entered the tavern, earning many wary glances and unwelcome stares from the off-duty duer soldiers there. The party members spread out. Aurora asked the bartender pointedly about Hardwood, invoking some of her Warlock powers to charm the barkeep into being open to her. The barkeep went off to see where Hardwood had gone off to.
Meanwhile, the party had spread out, variously watching the duer patrons, devouring steak without the use of utensils, and generally staying alert for danger. Killian stepped up to the tavern’s open balcony and began to play an old duer ballad from the days of the monarchy, “The Rains of Castle Duer.” His performance captivated the audience.
The barkeep returned and escorted Aurora and Chance back to speak to Hardwood. They found the ranger preparing to mount the head of the bulette as a trophy. “You’re the ones who killed the bulette,” he said, “And after I went to all the trouble of drawing it here.” Then he ordered his dire wolf companion to attack!
Outside in the tavern, the initial sounds of combat were largely ignored by the duer, all of whom were tearing up as Killiian reached the climax of the third verse (the part where they mount the traitor’s head on a stake). This gave the party a vital moment of reaction before combat ensued.
IN THE BOWELS OF THE TAVERN: Aurora and Chance engaged Hardwood and his wolf. Aurora cast an ear-splitting Shatter before misty stepping away to safety. Chance, who is a staunch loyalist to the Parliament of Duer, laid into the traitorous ranger with unequalled fury, soon reducing Hardwood to deadwood. Moon Glitter, who had come after hearing Aurora’s shatter arrived just in time to help pummel the dire wolf into unconsciousness.
IN THE MAIN TAVERN ROOM: The duer, robbed of their chance to don their really cool black masks before attacking, were roused into action by the sound of the shatter. It turned out that the entire bar was a hotspot for Kronnerath loyalists. Tris was surrounded; the doors were barred; Killian leapt heroically off of the railing and onto the bar; Moon Glitter rushed off to help Aurora and Chance. It was a true scrum.
In the end, a shatter from Killian, followed by a tactical kill by Moon Glitter and a gout of acid breath from Tris, helped reduce the Kronnerath numbers significantly, and the remaining four , outnumbered and outgunned, surrendered to the party.
“It’s time to get some answers,” Aurora said, preparing to cast a spell …