Before the party could set its plan in motion, before the group could risk a midnight boat-ride across enemy-controlled waters, before they could truly begin trying to crack the seemingly-uncrackable code that had been intercepted and entrusted to them, they needed to rescue Erik. Erik, the Svodun native that was a key link between the rebel cause and the natives, had been taken prisoner and was being held in the Imperial-friendly tavern called The Golden Eagle. As Veor and Caithas reported breathlessly about Erik’s whereabouts to the assembled rebels, the gravity of the situation was apparent to the crowd. If the rebels lost Erik, they might well lose the wavering support of the natives as a whole. And without them, midnight boat rides and cracked codes would be useless.
Veor, with his magical abilities and fast friendship with Erik, volunteers to lead the charge into the Empire-controlled bar and suggests using his arcane abilities to once more create a magical fog, much like the one that had flustered and confounded the Imperials during Markus’ failed execution, which would allow searchers to make their way through the tavern and to find Erik with minimal bloodshed. Carrinas and Tullious are assigned by Markus to join the mage, and Caithas and Jules volunteer to assist the search. Though, it should be noted, Caithas was much more willing to subject himself once more to danger than the nobleman was; the reckless nature of the half-elf was in direct contrast with his friend’s desires, which centered on keeping himself alive at all costs.
Elana, with her crossbow in hand, along with Malcom, would stay stationed outside of the tavern with a handful of rebels, ready to intercept any unfriendly faces that happened to come too close to the volatile scene.
Caithas and Jules, along with their rebel allies, enter the tavern, and are greeted with murals and sigils, swords and shields, all bearing the insignia of the Crown and the Empire. A loyalist pub and proud of it, The Golden Eagle never shied away from declaring what side it and its patrons were on. Luckily for the rebels, when they arrive, the tavern is nearly empty, with a barkeep, two patrons and one armed guard. When wayward eyes and incredulous glances are shot their way, Veor casts his unintelligible spell, and the interior of the building is enshrouded in thick, nearly-impenetrable mist. And then the place goes mad.
Carrinas and Jules both head down the only staircase visible in the establishment, coming to a locked door. Caithas dashes through the fog, for once in his life trying to avoid enemies instead of rushing head-long into them, and runs down a long hallway, dotted with three doors, finally coming to a rest in front of the farthest door from the fray. Veor and Tullious stand and fight the remaining patrons in the obfuscation created by the caster.
Jules, despite the urging of Carrinas and a desperate banging on the inside of the door, is able to center himself and use his considerable roguish talents to pick the well-made lock. A dwarf, Olaf by name, comes charging out of the room with a brief but appropriate response to his release: “Let’s get the fuck out of here!”
With that, Carrinas and the newly-freed dwarf charge up the stairs into the fight, leaving Jules alone in the basement. The nobleman finds no sign of Erik or anything else helpful in the crowded storage area of crates and barrels. Only strong liquor is seen and smelled, along with the disturbing sight of a dead male elf whose name would remain unknown as his blood coagulated on the splintery wooden floor.
Meanwhile, Caithas, who has neither the skill nor the patience for picking locks, instead throws himself against the jammed door at the end of the hall, and upon knocking it open, finds himself face to face with a tattooed man wielding a bastard sword and not much else. The untrained man does his best, but his life is quickly snuffed out by the twin flashing blades of the half-elf. The ranger’s victory is short-lived, though, for when the first combatant falls, another comes into view, this one wielding a longbow. Caithas never hears the bowstring. He simply feels a gigantic push, hears a sickening thunk and squish, and looks down in horror to see a long, quivering arrow jutting out of his own chest.
All the while, the fight in the main tavern room rages on. The mailed guard escaped from the melee and ran out of the bar, hoping to alert his comrades not far away. When Elana sees the man flee out of the door, she raises her crossbow, Ællastyr, and fires it in anger for the first time in her short life. The excitement of the moment, coupled with the woman’s inexperience on the battle-field, caused the bolt to sail wide, though. Verginius, another rebel and an arbalest expert, was more skilled in ranged combat. His shot hit the fleeing soldier, but it wasn’t enough to bring the Imperial down. With a last gasp before he dropped to the ground, the solider alerted the two guards nearest to him of trouble with a gurgle and a shout. The two men, seeing one of their own fall, begin moving with haste towards him and the situation at The Golden Eagle.
Inside, Jules climbs the stairs, and searches another room, still finding no sign of Erik. The situation in the tavern’s main room is getting desperate, and time is running out. Caithas, meanwhile, feeling his life’s essence gushing out of the hole in his chest, his lungs filling with blood, charges the man who’d shot him, but his wavering vision and sudden weakness allowed the archer to easily dodge. That was the moment the shooter should have killed the half-elf. It was his best and only chance. And yet, either because of inexperience, nerves or gods’-blessed luck, he missed; when given another chance, Caithas didn’t. It was only when the archer’s head was rolling about the tavern’s floor, his still-twitching body spouting blood like a geyser, that Caithas realized that he’d won.
Horrifically wounded, the half-elf searched the room with the two dead bodies, but save for some well-made bows, he finds nothing regarding Erik or his whereabouts. Abandoning the remaining hiding places and closed doors, Caithas stumbles to the main hall and finds Jules and the other rebels victorious over the loyalist patrons, but not without cost. The dwarf and Veor are both unconscious on the ground, with wounds that were actually worse than the half-elf’s, if looks could be believed. With Caithas’ help, Carrinas carries the wounded caster out of the tavern, while Jules drags the newly-freed dwarf, leaving Tullious to search for the still-missing Svodun native. Finally, with a crack of bone and a yelp of pain, Tullious is able to subdue the final resister, who happened to be guarding Erik in the last unexplored room in the place. The wounded band, together once more, left The Golden Eagle, and walked out into the sunlight.
They would have walked into a trap, of course. They would have walked into a scene of armed, Imperial guards, if it weren’t for Elana Savain-Amour. While she was no master with a crossbow, even an impressively-named one, she was a spellflare, and for the first time in her life, she used her skills well within the view of others. Imagine the surprise of her husband Jules and her bodyguard Caithas when they saw her striding towards the oncoming guards, unarmed and unaided save for a small wooden stick in her hand. Imagine their further shock when they saw the two guards, one at a time, collapse to the ground in a sound slumber!
It was time to run. The party made for The Savain Estate, their make-shift home. Caithas bled on the cobblestones as he ran, his vision blurred with agony. Elana ran for her family’s estate, the weight of what she had done not yet truly hitting her. Jules half-ran, half-stumbled, dragging Olaf behind him, his mind racing with questions for his beautiful, mysterious and seemingly-enchanted wife. And when they arrived at the estate, and while the wounds of Veor and Olaf were tended to, the skewered half-elf learned one more interesting tidbit about his companions when Malcom came to him, laid his hands upon the half-elf’s chest, and sent the healing force of Life into the nearly-expired body of Caithas.
It seemed all of the companions had secrets, but one by one, the secrets were starting to be revealed…