Tales of the Righteous Vanguard

Part Eleven: Vecna Lives! – Chapter 5

It was on the evening of Freeday, the 7th day of Reaping, in the Common Year of 581,
when the Righteous Vanguard was ambushed for the second time by the Cult of Vecna.
Soon afterwards, the band learned, from interrogating Almarth the Halt, a member of the
cult whom they had captured in the ambush, that Yagos Slevak was also a member of the
cult. Because of this, Nero, who was posing as a Rhennee named Aejiri, had to make other
arrangements with Avrel Riskar about hiring a barge to take them to Verbobanc.
Once this was done, Kieranen and Nicholas escorted Almarth to the Grand Citadel while
Nero, Dravos and Alavarius went in search of Yagos Slevak, knowing full well that he
would probably not survive the night. Not wishing to interfere with the Rhennee justice
that would likely bring Yagos’ life to an end, they did however want to recover his body
afterwards, if at all possible, so that Alavarius could perhaps learn some things from it on
the following day with a speak with dead spell.
To this purpose, Dravos headed to the River Rat Inn, where Yagos was known to
frequent, while Nero and Alavarius headed for the wharves. As expected, Dravos was the
first to find Yagos while he was having drinks at the River Rat. So he slipped back out
of the inn and watched from a nearby rooftop. Quite some time was then spent, as they
waited for something to happen. In fact, Kieranen and Nicholas had already returned to
Kieranen’s house from the Citadel long before anything else took place. But finally, at
around 11 o’clock, two and a half hours later, Dravos watched as Yagos left the River Rat
and headed for the Cargo Gate.
Dravos followed along, trying to remain unobserved, and as Yagos passed through
the Cargo Gate he was noticed by Nero and Alavarius who were not far away. But as
Yagos made his way to the wharves, four other Rhennee stepped out of the shadows and
approached him in a seemingly friendly manner. They called out his name and invited
him to join them in a drink. However, to a perceptive observer, it would have been fairly
obvious that the invitation to Yagos made him quite nervous, for the four men that
approached him were not known to be allies of his. Still, Yagos went with the four men
to one of the barges docked at the wharves and entered the cabin. Meanwhile, Dravos
continued to observe from a distance, while Nero, using a fly spell and an invisibility spell,
remained close by, and Alavarius, using his underwater abilities, observed the entire affair
from under the water. For about an hour then, the four Rhennee plied more and more
alcohol into Yagos, making him a great deal more intoxicated than he already was. Then,
at about midnight, they took him to the side of the barge, dropped him into the water, and
held him under until he drowned.

Once they were certain that Yagos was dead, they removed any valuables from his body,
tied some weights to it, and dropped it back into the water where they assumed his body
would stay. But, unknown to the four Rhennee, Alavarius had observed it all. And after
the body of Yagos had floated down to the bottom of the river, Alavarius swam down,
cut lose the weights, and pulled the body to the far shore of the river. There he dragged it
into some nearby bushes. Then he flew up high above the river and signaled to Nero and
Dravos that he had recovered the body. A short while later, the three of them took the
body into one of the rooms of their underground stronghold. At this point, it was very late
at night, so they each found places in the stronghold where they could rest and went to
sleep.
At about 6 in the morning of Starday the 8th, Nero awoke and went to the wharves to
meet with Andros Jagosnich, the captain of the barge called the Gilfar, where he explained
to him that he and his companions had been up late the night before and would not be
ready to set out until around 11 o’clock. Then he returned to the stronghold and got some
more rest. At about 9, Nero, Dravos and Alavarius got up and began preparing for the day.
Nicholas, who had also slept in his underground forest in the stronghold, had by this time,
already gotten up and went to meet with Kieranen at his house in the city. There they had
to wait for the others to arrive.
The others, meanwhile, once Alavarius had prepared his spells for the day, cast a speak
with dead spell on the body of Yagos. Unfortunately, the spirit of Yagos was not very
cooperative and did not provide a lot of information. But it told them that the Cult of
Vecna in Verbobanc was not inside a building and that he had intended to take them to a
tavern called the Hanged Man – but here Alavarius sensed that the spirit of Yagos was not
being truthful. So, with this plan not working out as well as they had hoped, they took the
body to the forest above the stronghold and buried it there. Then they went into the city
where they joined up with Kieranen and Nicholas.
A short while later, the band was boarding the Gilfar and setting off up the Selintan
River, on their way to Verbobanc. In order to increase their rate of travel, Nero summoned
a few water and air elementals to help push the barge along. But these did not last for
very long and did not make a big difference by the end of the day. So, on the following
day, and every day thereafter while they were on the barge, Alavarius prayed for and cast a
control weather spell. This spell would last the entire day and ended up tripling their rate of
movement by ensuring that the wind would always be at their backs.
By midway through the second day, on Sunday the 9th, they had already reached the
Nyr Dyv and were well on their way across it by the end of the day. However, by late
afternoon, they were already into the deep waters of the Nyr Dyv and it was at this point
that Alavaruis first experienced the consequences of drawing the sea card from the Deck
of Destinies.

It was then that the barge was attacked by a giant squid that pulled several members of
the barge’s crew overboard. Most of those that were not crushed by the squid’s strangling
tentacles were then drowned as they were pulled under. Even the Righteous Vanguard had
some difficulty in fighting the monster as it stayed under water and the band was hesitant
to enter the water. The one member of the band who did enter the water to fight it, that
being Alavarius, soon found himself the main target of the squid’s attacks. He was quickly
grappled by the squid and then drawn towards it as he was being strangled. Then, just
seconds before the squid was about to bite him with its terrible beak, which likely would
have been the end of Alavarius, he was rescued by Nero who dove into the water and cast
a dimension door spell on Alavarius and himself, sending the two of them a couple of
hundred feet into the air. Soon afterwards though, they managed to kill the squid, and even
rescued one of the crewmen which had somehow survived.
All in all, four of the barge’s sailors and one of the barge’s guards died in the attack.
Alavarius recovered the bodies and they had a quick burial at sea. Then, for days
afterwards, squid was one of the main sources of food for those on the barge.
As the voyage across the Nyr Dyv continued, the Righteous Vanguard began to get to
know some members of the crew, who, at first did not speak to them much and were not
particularly friendly to them. Nero, who remained disguised as a Rhennee named Aejiri,
was able to get past some of the questions put his way, such as why he did not speak the
Rhennee tongue, by claiming he was not raised among the Rhennee. Eventually, some
members of the crew even became friendly with the band, such as Ragnar, who offered
Nero assistance if he should have any troubles. Then there was Turim Varostak, a feisty
old man with a wooden leg that he called “Old Timber-Toe”. As it turned out, Turim had
apparently had a run-in many years before with the Cult of Vecna, which he said had cost
him his leg, and when he learned that the band was in search of the cult, asked if he could
join them in their search so that he could be of some assistance. The band agreed to this,
though there appeared to be some concern that he might get in their way or possibly slow
them down.
During the night, a few days later, the barge was attacked again, this time by a dozen
water-bloated zombie sailors that climbed up on to the barge. But they were nowhere near
as difficult to defeat as the giant squid, and after a brief struggle, all the zombies were killed
with no casualties to the barge’s crew.
Then by the end of the 6th day, on Earthday, the 13th day of Reaping, the Gilfar had
sailed across the southwestern corner of the Nyr Dyv, and was entering the Velverdyva
River.

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