“There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.”
As our last session, “The Storm Isles: Surrounded” concluded, the motley group of advisors and diplomats continue to finish their evening meal. While some members of the party more avidly conversed with their gracious host, the mysterious drow noblewoman, Lady Dradiira, others choose to pay more attention to their meal and refrain from questioning more into the nature of Fiends. Self-preservation, after all, can be a very powerful motivator in trying to maintain the cohesion of one’s sanity and living status, not to mention their perception of the world! Tanna is one such individual. Kaleth too. The dragonborn, already a firm believer of Tanna’s keen paranoia is the mark of great wisdom and insight, followed suit, especially after the mention of the Valkyrian in their passing conversation.
Where Tanna is considered extremely wise in Kaleth’s eyes, Tumdrum is considered the most bold, willing to step outside of his own perception to try to understand others way of life, and Westin, valuable in his combat prowess. Since his induction into Salt’s service, it’s becoming clear he is growing sterner and more vigilant to the threats surrounding the party. As Tumdrum eventually accepts the very informative tome Lady Dradiira offered for him to temporarily borrow and read, the conversation finally transitions from a discussion of fiends to the discussion of what tomorrow would bring – the impending diplomatic meeting with the Shogun’s Chief Advisor, Takuya. To possibly earn Takuya’s favor a little early in the meeting, Lady Dradiira suggests the group offer a gift to the Chief Advisor. From one topic to another the conversation continues, from the subject of the Night Market to the more sensitive moral aspects of slavery, their meal concludes with Tanna urging everyone to finally retire for the night. Lady Dradiira thanks the party, and hopes everyone has enjoyed her hospitality. Considering this particular wing of the palace is her domain, there is safety to be found within it – a much needed thing for the party to comfortably rest and still recover from their hard journey north from New Dawnsburg.
After they retire for the evening in their adjacent quarters, Tanna and the others converse over what happened at dinner, also believing it best they decide on a gift for the Chief Advisor before morning’s arrival. As they heavily begin discussing what specific gift to present, Kaleth is, admittedly, ridiculously off in her own world, clearly thinking over what everyone is saying, but undoubtedly with thoughts and opinions differing from the group’s own running amuck inside of her scaled skull. While food trade is very possible with the Kou Kingdom, it too seems possible with the Dwarves. In the end, Kaleth finally plants a claw down and states it is Baron Drussus’s final say on this diplomatic matter, so she chooses to send a sending stone to her retainer, Thal, to get a prompt response hopefully from Baron Drussus himself. As gemstones are eventually decided upon as a gift, they retire for the night.
With everyone avidly fussed over and dressed the next morning, a morning meal is consumed, with another sending stone message sent and received, before they are eventually prompted, and guided, to where the meeting is meant to take place. Deedee, Millie, and Tanna serve as the groups ‘servants,’ whereas Adam Westin is clearly an armed guard and general, and Tumdrum, Kaleth’s right hand advisor. They hardly had to wait long for Chief Advisor Takuya’s arrival. With armed guards at his shadow, certain Kou Kingdom customs are initiated. Little curiosities, such as the covering of the guards faces, and Takuya’s comment of ‘empty vessels’ is enough to catch Kaleth off guard since it is her (and like everyone else of the party) first visit to the Kou Kingdom.
Armed now with the opinions and perceptions of her comrades, as well as the information provided by Thal and Baron Drussus, Kale introduces everyone within the party to Takuya before encouraging Tumdrum to present Takuya with the chosen gift – a gemstone. Accepted, but curiously questioned over, Kale translates Tumdrum’s answer with very romantic rhetoric, hoping it would be, at the very least, accepted with graciousness. As the meeting progresses, Kaleth explains of the arrival of the colonists from a far off land called ‘Choso,’; however, instead of telling him of how part of the Storm Wall was brought down, she speaks of how Elora, otherwise known to the other colonists as Salt, chooses to answer the colonist’s prayers and allow them entry through the Storm Wall. A commonly known name among the Storm Isles and its inhabitants, Elora’s strangeness is commented upon – something which Westin inwardly bristles at.
Tumdrum’s very avid theatrics with Tanna nearly has Kaleth smacking her own nose and rolling in laughter, so it is only by Kaleth’s focus on the serious aspects of the meeting she managed to retain her politeness and dignity. As the meeting further progresses, mentions of what is occurring in Gungrin is brought forth, as well as possibilities of trade between the Kou Kingdom and New Dawnsburg, even if only for a few months. Kaleth focuses on keeping their trade agreement simple, believing it best they focus solely on monetary costs for goods and nothing else. Given her own knowledge of pact-making from her Warlock training, she knows more lawful-abiding Fiends will maintain their word and integrity instead of fucking the other party over and taking everything from them.
With the meeting a success, Takuya goes on his way and the party decides to split off in different directions for the rest of the day. As Tumdrum decides to remain on the palace grounds, Adam Westin heads out on his own to investigate the market area the group previously visited, whereas Tanna decides to take a stroll… and even more than that. As Tanna explores the streets, visiting a merchant and picking up some goods, her stroll eventually leads her into a Tavern where she attempts to converse with others with Thieves Cant. While some understand her, it is clear she is a foreigner and becomes a person of interest to those who hear her voice. A drink finished, she eventually moves on, heading back out onto the streets, but it inevitably comes to her perceptive attention she is being followed. Tanna attempts to elude her pursuer while heading back to the palace grounds, but it is to no avail. He attempts to charm her, but given her elven origins, she succeeds in not succumbing to it.
Kaleth, Millie, and Deedee, also leave the palace grounds into the city, where Deedee watches a weaponsmith forging a Katana. Interested in the craftsmanship, she purchases a sword to wield, but they too return; however, it was before Tanna did. When everyone reunites, Kaleth and Millie are already grossly deep in a game of Three Dragon Ante, but they too participate in the conversation. From Tanna recounting her trip from the palace grounds, to Kaleth, very interestingly inquiring into Dwarven mating rituals, and the oddities of Tumdrum’s magical possessions, Tumdrum earns a lighthearted chuckle and regard from Kale. It is clear though she wants to avoid the magical item he carries, the Amulet of Narcissism, if she can…
Once more the group shares another evening meal with Lady Dradiira, and in that timeframe Tumdrum returns the fiend tome he borrowed to her. Thanking her for allowing him the time to review it, the meal passes by uneventfully, though Tanna’s market incident is once more recounted. Dradiira advises Tanna to tread more carefully, but Tumdrum’s curiosity gets the better of him and he asks Dradiira how much Tanna is worth. Given her pureblooded elven heritage, Dradiira estimates at a few thousand gold. A very high price, indeed, for such an elf! Kaleth advises the others to not tell Baron Drussus this, and even amusedly comments on the fact Tanna’s market value even exceeded her own. A very strange topic of conversation, their meal (and the game session) draws to an end, with other topics spoken here or there, but like before, Lady Dradiira departs from the table for the evening.