Clifftop Adventurer's Guild
"It is good to see you all again. A toast to safe travels."
Ragnolin raised his mug and drained it to the bottom. Without a signal the barkeep set down a fresh ale and cleared the empty. The entire guildhouse had been closed for the afternoon for this meeting. The barkeep was happy to have something to do aside from restocking his wares.
"Thank you for taking the time to bring me to speed on your adventures. I know you were tired when you arrived two days ago but I needed that time to act on your words. I must give you my utmost thanks and respect for acting the way you have since you left. As members of the guild you have were not bound to follow through with Jaryn or any other portion of the Phoenix Regalia situation. Your actions have not gone unnoticed. It is time some of your questions surrounding the whole situation are answered. After that I have some further news for you that you may or may not wish to act upon. Siberys knows your earned a rest."
With that Ragnolin signaled to the barkeep who then led an elf from the backroom. His eyes gave away his old age but his body looked as strong and spry as any warrior elf. His frame was covered in a flowing green and brown cloak. As he approached Ragnolin spoke.
"Gentlemen, this is Kal'ser. It was he who hired Kartenix and his group in the first place. He is here to fill in some of the gaps to this point."
Before he said anything Kal'ser took a moment to shake everyone's hand. "You have my deepest gratitude for all you have done. Even the loss of the items in question to that fiend Skamos has not been for naught. However, before I go further I wish to offer some recompense for your efforts." He reached into his cloak and produced a bag. The unmistakable sound for gold pieces filled the area as he set it upon the table. "In it you will find 1000 gold pieces and 5 jade worth 100 gold each. I trust this covers your fee."
He took a moment to look at the people sitting around the table.
"Please take no offense when I say that I will now tell you all I can. Nothing more. The words I utter are all I am allowed to say. Even I have an employer. I have sworn oaths in his service that nothing can make me break. Let me begin."
"The Order I belong to is sworn to keeping the items of the Phoenix Regalia safe - and separated. As you already know, their powers of the wearer increase as more and more of the items are wielded. So much so that they can stave off death itself through rebirth."
"Nearly twenty years ago we learned that our Order had been infiltrated and the secret of each item's location had been compromised. Almost immediately our members began to disappear or turn up dead. We were being systematically eradicated. Now only I remain in the service of my master. We have become extremely secretive and usually employ individuals such as yourselves when our small numbers preclude our ability to act."
"With our numbers dropping we were unable to defend the items. Each was eventually stolen and taken to a variety of locales. We lost track of some for a time before they resurfaced somewhere else. Each was stolen and restolen."
"As you well know the first item was reobtained from a Mezzodemon by Kartenix and his group. I hired them to do so. How they accomplished the task I still have no idea. However they must have been followed since each was assassinated before returning to Sharn. Had I known that danger would follow them after they retrieved the item I would have met them in Flamekeep."
"The second happened to be in the possession of the hobgoblin Sinruth. From your report and my investigations I don't believe he actually knew of the power of the item he possessed."
"Of course someone else did. The tiefling Skamos has been tied up in all of this. He has murdered your comrades. Dogged your trail and committed an untold numbers of evils in his pursuit of the items. I can not seem to determine his motives but I do believe he is in the employ of someone much more powerful who seeks the items for themselves."
"We think we have located the last two items. The Cloak of Flames resides in Fernia. Retrieving it will be no small matter. Who knows what guards it now. The final item - the Mace of the Phoenix - is known to lie in The Boneyard in the Eastern Talenta Plains. I hired Kristoff - Jaryn's wizard acquaintance - to look into it for me. I have not heard from him in quite some time. I fear the worst."
Ragnolin interrupted "I have news on that when you are done Kal'ser."
The elf nodded "I am nearly through. I know not who it trying to reassemble these items but I fear their purpose. There is too much power involved for me to believe it is for any good purpose. Not to mention the murders that have already taken place simply to retrieve two of the items. That is all I will say until I hear Ragnolin's news."
Ragnolin took a long draft of his ale, pulled a letter from his pocket and spoke. "I received a note only this morning from someone claiming to be Kristoff's aid. It bears his seal. You may read it but it is brief. He beseeches assistance on Kristoff's aid. He claims that they did indeed locate the mace but its owner's servants overcame the caravan and killed nearly all its people. The Boneyard is now home to some malevolence that commands even the undead. Somehow it turned Kristoff's mind. He is now a servant to whatever the beast is. And - most importantly - it has the Mace of the Phoenix in its control."
A moment of silence went by as Ragnolin looked upon Kal'ser. Finally the elf spoke. "This is grave news indeed. I will now extend an offer of employment to you all for the safe return of Kristoff and - more importantly - the Mace of the Phoenix. You will be paid handsomely. What say you?"