Heretics of Tarantia, Part One
Note that for this adventure I am running the Mongoose adventure scenario "Heretics of Tarantia," so there will be spoilers involved
Our heroes at last arrive victorious in Tarantia and deliver the tribute from King Milo to the house of Publius, the King's Chancellor. They are then paid and left to their own devices to spend their time and money (as adventurers do) throughout the city. After a shopping spree to upgrade weapons, armor, spell components, and other various and sundry supplies, they hit the taverns, where to their credit the two Aesir manage to stay out of a potential bar brawl when a drunken lout begins to badmouth the King, focusing on his parentage and barbarian blood. Eventually the city watch shows up and puts a stop to the raging (though to the PCs' surprise, their complaint is that he is threatening a riot and disturbing the peace, not speaking out against the king).
Later, as they leave the bar, they witness what at first appears to be a drunken man in robes staggering towards them. The man, however, then collapses in front of them, a black-feathered arrow protruding from his back. He entreats them to head for the cemetary in the poorest section of the city before midnight, when a group he refers to as "the brotherhood" will perform an unspeakable act of treason and heresy. He then dies.
Merhotep, Decimus, and Valder are able to identify his robes as those of a Priest of Mitra.
The group rushes to the cemetery where they find a group of cultists about to sacrifice a young girl. They rescue the girl and manage to keep one of the cultists alive, though bound and incapacitated, and note that the symbols painted in blood on the girl are those of the cult of Asura, though the symbols, according to Merhotep, make no sense in the way they are combined. Eventually, the city watch arrives on the scene and the group are taken in for questioning. They are questioned for hours, repeating their story over and over to progressively higher levels of authority, before finally they are brought back together in a room, where they encounter a member of the Black Dragons, one of the King's personal elite guard. The guard tells them that they are free to go, but have been summoned to the home of Publius at dawn tomorrow.
The next day, a page arrives to escort them to the Chancellor's home, where they are greeted by another contingent of Black Dragons and escorted to a lavish dining hall. They are bade to sit, and a few moments later, a huge man enters, with smoldering crystal blue eyes, a square-cut black mane hanging over his bull neck, heavily corded arms, and a massive barrel chest. Decimus immediately drops to one knee and exclaims, "Your majesty!"
The man they have come to meet is not Publius, but King Conan II.
King Conan outlines the fact that the situation is getting out of hand already. People are murmuring against the Cult of Asura in the streets, and he fears that soon there will be riots and lynching. He does not believe the Asurans to be behind the murder of the priest or the sacrifice in the cemetery, but he cannot take a direct hand in affairs as the cults in Aquilonia are too powerful and his father always espoused religious freedom, a tenet he wishes to continue. So he wishes the PCs to investigate the matter and should they resolve it to his satisfaction they will be handsomely rewarded to the tune of 1,000 silver lunas, plus certain favors (Hrogar, for example, will be allowed access to the King's personal blacksmith, who crafted the fine suits of plate worn by the Black Dragons). The down side is that the King cannot be known to be involved. Thus, the heroes will be given no letters of marque or open authority; however, should they get into too much trouble the King will see to it that they get out of Tarantia.
The group accepts the offer and the king produces the arrow from last night. He informs the group that it was fired by a certain man (whose name escapes me at the moment, sorry) who can be found along a specific stretch of taverns near the docks along the river. The group takes the information and begins their investigation, digging up a few pieces of information about their quarry before gathering back together to exchange notes and plan their next move.
To be continued...