The following morning, they awoke at the Turtle’s Parlor and left to visit the mayor Maelin Shreed and meet with the Black Arrows to inquire about retaking Fort Rannick. As they were convening for breakfast, Krac and Rickben noticed two more individuals with sihedron tattoos. They quickly moved to cover them up when they caught them subtly glimpsing, and scurried out of the common area.
“After breakfast we’ll take care of that curse, Bahram,” Lor reassured him. They all calmly and quietly ate, preparing for the day ahead of them. Bahram sulked visibly. The rangers came downstairs and then departed for the town hall.
Seris grinned, staring at Shalelu. “Hey Rickben—want me to follow them?”
“No! No-no….no.” He quickly grew several shades redder.
Noticing Bahram’s reticence, Lor approached him after breakfast and began intoning a spell. The magical energy washed over Bahram’s body, but was met with resistance, and the curse persisted.
Bahram stood up, “Is there is a decent healer in town? I got real money…” A woman noticed his awkward inquiry and approached him, explaining that Maelin Shreed may have the ability to ease his burden. He dashed out the door and flicked a silver to the helpful woman, who quickly pocketed it.
They arrived at the Church of Erastil to find Shalelu, Vale, and Jakardros speaking with Maelin regarding their suspicions about the fort. Upon seeing them, they rangers welcomed them to join the conversation and introduced them to the mayor, who received them with warm welcomes.
Bahram stepped forward to introduce the group.
“My name is Bahram. I’m an exotic barbarian from far off wastes. I’m finding it hard to get refreshed. Wondering if you might be able to help me find some relief. "
Seris cut in, “You’ll have to excuse my friend. He’s really only good for one thing—smashing things—and he’s suffering from an ailment that makes it harder to do that.”
Bahram glared. “I do other stuff.”
Everyone stared. “I lift things…and then put them down again.”
Lor piped up, “Speak up Bahram so we can all hear you.”
“I seem to have picked up a curse. Flying ogre bitch.” He grumbled, frowning.
Maelin smiled warmly and explained that in order to lift the ailment, he could retrieve a scroll he’d reserved for the purpose in the back.
“Sure. I can wait,” Bahram shrugged, nonplussed.
Maelin disappeared into the church with a promise to return. The rangers all spoke off to the side, clearly discussing strategy.
Bahram approached Lor. “Hey Lor—monitor this bastard, I don’t want a bad spell. I don’t trust him as far as I can throw him. Which isn’t very far.”
“What makes you think he can do any better than I can?”
“This is his job. I just don’t want him to curse me twice if he’s one of those branded individuals.”
“Hrm, I guess that’s a valid concern, but cursing you wouldn’t really be a good way to keep his cover if he really is nefarious.”
Bahram grunted. “He might assume I’m not very bright, or magically attune.”
Lor bit her lip, grinning. “Both of which being at least a little accurate.”
He sighed, “…admittedly…”
“It’ll be alright, " Lor brightened.
Seris cut in. “I can watch too, you know.”
“Don’t make it weird, Seris,” Lor cut her off.
At that moment, Maelin returned with a scroll tube in hand. Bahram told Renza to look it over, which she did happily, stepping forward to retrieve the scroll and read over the faded ink.
“You perv,” Seris teased.
“I am not!”
“Uh huh…” Seris poked in her general direction.
“If anything YOU’RE the peeping tom.”
Renza just shook her head and smiled, beginning to intone the words of power. The magic washed over Bahram and…the curse was still left intact; it stubbornly clung to him.
Visibly frustrated, Bahram drew out a silver and threw it in the direction of Maelin. It hit him square in the chest before he could react. He stared down at the coin, dumbfounded.
“Got another one?” Bahram pinged him with another silver.
Maelin’s face curdled immediately, as if he’d just imbibed sour milk.
“How dare you!? Do you know how much time and effort goes into penning such a spell? It’s worth far more than a silver, and your ungratefulness doesn’t inspire my generosity.”
Flustered, Bahram took a step back. “I’m sorry. I’m prepared to make a significant donation. You know, for the poor people.”
Maelin shook his head.
Seris stepped forward, bowing slightly with outstretched hands.
“Maelin, we are prepared to take back Fort Rannick with the direction of the Black Arrows, but we do need our barbarian to be able to hit things with his full strength. Do you know this spell that can lift the curse? We require little in the way of money to re-take the fort, but we will not leave for the task until our barbarian is restored. Can you help us?”
His face lightened at her reassurance.
“Of course. Come back and visit me in the morning. I shall commune with Erastil and prepare the spell.”
Bahram stepped forward and enthusiastically shook his head, apologizing profusely for his complaining.
Maelin waved away his concerns, explaining it was nice to have such capable adventurers in town to assist them.
The group stepped toward the Black Arrows and requested the opportunity to speak with Kaven Windstrike before they met to formulate a strategy. He nodded grimly and explained they’d need to go for a walk to a small house in town.
Five minutes and a brisk walk across town later, they approached a small two bedroom cottage and Jakardros led them inside. He nodded at an elderly woman cooking at the stove, “Dora.” She smiled grimly at him, and they all walked past.
Jakardros led them into a small side room, where they stood around a crudely drawn map of Fort Rannick. He explained that there would be several different ways by which they infiltrate the fort, and expounded on the limitations and advantages of each.
Invigorated with purpose, Seris calmly walked down the hallway with the rest of the group in tow. She marched over the bed and slapped Kaven awake.
His eyes widened and he pulled back.
She demanded to know what he knew of the fort and the disaster that befell it.
Lor quipped, “Hello Kaven! Good to see you’re awake.”
He grumbled softly, his jaw clearly broken. Seris asked Lor, “You wanna fix his jaw so he can speak?”
She paused, grumbled, and then walked over, letting arcane energies flow into his jaw. The bone popped back into place, and Kaven moved it side to side.
“Yeah, fuck you too, lady,” he jabbed back at her.
Seris redirected him, asking where he got the tattoo. Lor grumbled.
“Lucrecia gave everyone the tattoos.”
“…so not with a needle?”
“No. With magic.”
Lor looked introspective for a moment. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. Think we can cut the ink off of him? Like, flay it off?”
They discussed a plan to manufacture tattoos to sneak into the fort and pretend to be agents bearing the Sihedron rune, briefly forgetting the man shackled to the bed.
“So are you going to kill me now? Get this over with? I’m sick and tired of just sitting here waiting to die.”
Seris grabbed his hand, drew a dagger, and stabbed it through the palm, affixing it to the wall. Blood flowed freely down his hand.
“WHAT THE FUCK?!” He screamed. “You fix my jaw, and then you stab me! What do you WANT?”
“Why did Lucrecia give you the tattoo? Why’d she tell you to betray your fellow rangers?”
“I love her. Seriously—this isn’t going to go anywhere. Just kill me.”
“Alright, honestly Seris he has a point. Let’s either cut it off now or get to work finding another solution.”
Seris called in Krac, and told him to break his jaw again. Krac shook his head at Seris with a look of disappointment on his face.
“I cannot—it would be against the will of Sarenrae to strike a man who is shackled.”
Lor, clearly disappointed, shrugged at Kaven. “You’re a lucky man, Kaven. Sort of.”
Bahram appeared at the doorway and flicked a silver at the man. It landed near him on the bed.
The others filed out of the room and they went back into the living area.
“We will leave tomorrow. We just need you to lead us to the fort and we will clear it for you,” Seris claimed. “I think our best bet lies within the secret entrance in the waterfall.”
They retired for the night, agreeing to leave at sunrise in the morning.