Still reeling from last episode's revelations vis à vis the Astral Plague and still wondering who placed a bounty on their head with The Organisation, The Party return to Corso's Chasm to deliver the magic spoon uncovered in Ginaron to Don DiCorso. He rewards them with 8000 gold pieces and his steward gives them an additional 3000 gp of his own money for rescuing him. DiCorso also gives each party member a slightly larger medal than Don Horatio's, because what's the point of being rich and generous if you can't also be petty?
However, the problem is now presented of how to get the spoons to Vistria, where the Don's local representative Elana has negotiated a deal to sell them to the government for 94,000 gp to help alleviate the Verandi refugee crisis. Given that the long and dangerous journey between Vistria and Tarq, it will be difficult for the Don to get his money from his Vistria office to his estado, so he offers to instead sell the spoons to The Party for 40,000 gp, allowing them to make a 54,000 gp profit. Alternatively, they can just deliver them as normal and receive 30,000 gp. They consider the choice for a whle, even negotiating a slightly better price to buy the spoons from the Don, but in the end decide to take the lower-reward option., as they can't get 40,000 gp without severely compromising their magic item buying capabilities right before the long and dangerous treck through the Orc-filled wilderness.
They spend several days preparing for the journey, and on one of said days a Kua Toa enters town, bearing a message from B'ob to the Don. Angel sneaks into the Dwarfhold to eavesdrop on the message. It's mostly just an increased offer for the stun rod schematics, but also contains two cryptic statements: "Do not trust Envoy Olundo" and "There are still a few things you can learn from Oru". Naturally, The Party are invited to hear the message within minutes of Angel sneaking out and reporting back to them.
The Don's advisors confirm that none of the current Illud envoys are named Olundo and they also aren't aware of any KT named Oru, although Angel points out that it's a second-person pronoun in the Kuar language. After a further skill check, she remembers that it was also used as a name in a series of comic books called Hero Tale that were produced by the Illud as propaganda for Dwarvern children a little over 80 years ago. These books were banned by the Dons once they became aware of them at around issue four, so only five were ever released, quickly becoming valuable collectors' items on account of the rarity conferred by their banning. DiCorso only has the third issue, so to read the others they will need to travel to the Laric National Museum in Bankton, which has all five.
This takes them back to the issue of route-planning. There are three reasonable routes, each of them taking multiple months:
- Take the West Highway, presumably named by the Elves since it travels east of everyone else. This skirts the edge of Urruk by about 1000 miles.
- Take the direct route, travelling in a straight line from Corso's Chasm to DiCorso's office in Vistria, which would include riding right through Urruk proper. This is called the direct route becuase it will take you directly to the afterlife.
- Travel through the Peacebond and occupied Verandi, trading deadly Orcs for Deluvian shock troops.
While the rest of the party spends their reward money and DiCorso's cash advance on upgrades, Angel visits the Organisation contact in Corso's Chasm, a man by the name of Sorceror (although he doesn't actually seem to be a sorceror, or indeed any kind of spellcaster), who hails from whichever part of the TDDC world corresponds to Australia. He tells her that the bounty has been officially called off and that at the speed the news is spreading, they should be unlikely to encounter any Organisation hunters who still think they're legitimate targets. However, the client has released an open bounty in place of the Organisation contract, meaning that various other mercenaries, hitmen and assorted ne'er do wells may target them instead. This includes a famous bounty hunter who ordinarily deals only in live captures, known only as Daggerface. The players are shocked by the revelation, but realise that given that they've been with their Daggerface for most of the past three months, this is most likely a different person with the same name. Nonetheless, they resolve to keep an eye on him.
The Party set off for Bankton, planning to check out the museum before heading north through Verandi (route 3). En route, they encounter a strange samurai standing near a crop of Adar crystals. When the samurai speaks, they realise that it is a woman, who tells them that when they last passed by, she sensed that they had something that she wants and that they want to be rid of. Black realises that she means the Astral Plague, or as the samurai calls it, "astral energy". She offers to take it from them, but when Draven asks how she'll do so, she reveals that she plans to "crush it from [their] physical form". When Black asks if they will survive, she seems confused at the concept, so Little One takes the entirely proportionate step of attempting lethal violence.
The samurai psionically conjures three constructs with trample attacks and the battle is joined, with Draven casting fly to avid the melee attackers. Shortly into the fight, however, Black realises that the samurai is in fact an illusion, albeit one so realistic that only 40% of the damage she deals can be avoided by "disbelieving". After a brief fight, made easier by the fact that her armour is only 60% real, Draven kills her with his crossbow. However, he constructs continue to fight, and somebody casts an ectoplasmic shambler over the battlefield. From his vantage point, Draven realises that one of the crystal outcroppings is responsible for the psionics, calling to Little One to hit it with his hardness-bypassing mountain hammer. As soon as he does, the last remaining construct stops moving and the crystal speaks to them telepathically. They soon realise that it did not understand that it was hurting them and after they explain the situation, the crystal gives them a crystalline quiver that adds d6 ice damage to crossbow bolts stored in it as a peace offering and The Party depart.
At the museum, they meet Mareia, an expert in Kua Toa artefacts, who allows them to read her hand-scribed reproductions of Hero Tale (the originals being too rare and valuable to be handled by visitors). Mareia explains that the propaganda was mostly an attempt to end Dwarvern racism against the Illud, as after 200 years of alliance they were still treated as being the same as the Deluvians.
The comics themselves are a fairly standard male power fantasy, following a newly-qualified monitor named Oru as he fights Sahaguin bandits, a Giant and a sea monster. This last enemy is out of place, so Oru consults a priest, who discovers that it was sent from the Shadowfel by a Mindhunter. The priest gives him directions to find the Mindhunter (depicted only as a tall shadowy figure with glowing eyes on the sides of its head), but he is paralysed by its magic. In the fifth issue, Oru is saved by Deathfin Unon, who is depicted as a legendary badass, but the story then ends, due to the Dons' ban.
While pondering why B'ob would send them to read comics, The Party encounter Ambassador Bolraad, the Illud ambassador to Laric, who is a regular visitor to the museum. He informs them that Unon is a real person. He further explains that Unon and his Deluvian counterpart, Deathfin Du, are the most powerful monitors in the world by a very considerable margin, to the point that Unon has been estimated to be able to take out every single other Illud monitor at once. This has turned the two of them into the martial arts equivalent of nuclear deterrents, as neither side know who will win if the two fight, and neither are willing to be on the losing side. The two of them therefore do little other than sit around waiting to be called in as a last resort.
Having concluded their business in Bankton, The Party continue on their way to Verandi. However, at the beginning of the next session (at which Angel's player is absent), they run into a collection of fallen trees blocking the road in a classic ambush, this forming the customary clifhanger ending to the episode.
- This episode shows that it has been almost three months since Daggerface joined the party in Episode 5.