29th Day of Hammer, Year of the Ageless One, DR 1479 Our heroes tramped through the snowy cold morning back to Loudwater and to a welcome hot lunch at the Green Tankard Inn, triumphant over the Goblins and Ogre King.
Seeking out Curuvar the Wizard, they delivered the Skull Totem to him, but he seemed to have little interest in the item, apparently looking upon the retrieval of the skull as a test of the adventurers’ mettle. The eccentric spellweaver proclaimed that he was impressed with the heroes, and that the Ogre King was actually a creature of magic, an oni, an ogre-like demon. Further, the old man revealed that the oni had designs on taking over this area and learning the secrets of the nearby Dire Wood, which he himself was investigating. Hinting that he might share his knowledge with the heroes should they continue to prove their worth, he departed leaving the companions perplexed and vaguely annoyed. Such is often the way of wizards.
Dividing up their spoils, the Horn Totem, a magical dagger made of what the heroes realized was an oni’s horn, was given to Falli. The magical chainmail was given to Zaine, dubbed Wolfmaster in a somewhat sarcastic fashion. The Skull Totem, a magical mace made from the oni’s headbones, was given to Bhurk, who fancied it’s rather macabre appearance.
Our heroes spent the rest of the day shopping around town and recovering from their battles with the application of many pints of ale and bottle of good winter wine.
30th Day of Hammer, Midwinter’s Eve, Year of the Ageless One, DR 1479
The day passed slowly for the heroes in anticipation of the meeting with the Ebon Cabal that evening. Around midday, a letter came to the Green Tankard with an address in Loudwater where the companions would meet the agent of the Cabal later that night. Seeking a diversion, the heroes went to the clothiers and purchased garb for the upcoming party at Lady Moonfire’s estate on the 2nd of Alturiak. There was a bit of consternation among the heroes, undaunted by goblins, but vexed at having to find a mask for the lady’s ball that would be appropriate for each of them.
Once darkness lay on the north lands, the heroes set out for the meeting through the dark cold streets of the trading town. Arriving at the site, they found an abandoned and demolished building with a hooded and robed fingue standing before it. The man introduced himself as “Hand” and invited the adventures inside. Shrugging to themselves, the companions found themselves within a cozy room instead of a drafty and rickety shack. Hand explained that he used a ritual to enchant this area and make it a comfortable retreat, private and inaccessible from the outside, while they chatted. He revealed himself to be a non-descript man of middle years, with his only distinguishing feature that he was bald – it was as if he defied being noticeable. He invited them to partake of a sideboard of ale, wine, and spirits, but only Bhurk had the courage to sample a scotch, which he found quite tasty.
Hand went on to explain that the Ebon Cabal was founded shortly after the aftermath of the Spellplague and has been recuiting adventurers to its ranks, forming them into cadres to do quests for the Cabal. The Cabal offers aid and assistance in return for two services a year, each service not to take longer than one month. The Cabal, Hand claimed, was interested in developing the heroes and encouraged them to seek out adventure where items of power might be had so that they could better serve the Cabal. If they agreed to join the Cabal, he would gift them with a minor artifact, with the promise of greater powers to follow.
The adventurers agreed and joined Hand in a Ritual to use the teardop of ebon that each of them carried in order to construct a magic ring. The more sagely of the heroes examined the Ritual and proclaimed it sound, and all joined in. After the Ritual was completed, the ebon tears had been mounted in magic rings, which Hand said would allow each of them to use a Sending Ritual once each day, capable of hurling about twenty words or so from their mind to the mind of another of their companions, who could respond in kind. Hand himself could also he reached, but he claimed that such entrities would be met with silence if he deemed the question sophmoric and unworthy.
The Ritual complete, Hand claimed that he would be in touch via the rings when the Cabal has need of them, and recommended they enjoy the local scene, as there was much adventure to be had in the region. They departed the magical room, and it and Hand himself, vanished.