Jinara- the guards look to be higher than the lowest rank but do not give the impression of being elite. They each have a patch on their armor signifying a higher rank but you aren't sure how much higher of rank they are. You assume they are a special detachment meant to guard the structure that you landed by.
The guard looks over the letter and nods to two others as he hands back the letter to Gaelin. He hears Mucor's statement and looks confused for a moment, "No, no no. Not trying to be rude. We... we just have to protect the city. We're just trying to do our job. We are grateful for your help..." he quickly says looking up at Valeera and back to Mucor and Aryn. "We should have plenty of delicious food for you to choose from. General Ironfist is in Aroden's keep to the south. You can follow us there." he says pointing at the towering castle before turning and begins to walk down the street accompanied by 8 other guards. The rest of the guards return to their stations in front of the large structure to the west.
You follow behind the guards and walk for about 5 minutes uphill towards the tall keep to the south that overlooks the city. Four circular towers sit at each corner of a large stone walled keep with a large circular tower stationed in the middle. You stand in front of the north gate, two huge iron plated doors tower above you while guards watch your approach. The head guard asks who approaches and your guide responds, "The Lightbringers from Telgun. They have orders from General Daevaris to speak with General Ironfist." The head guard replies, "The griffons and dragon must stay outside all others may enter." as the large gate creaks open. You look back to the griffons and Valeera, they don't protest. Valeera nods and saunters off to a section of the lawn and burns a small circle into the ground before laying down curling in her wings and tail. The griffons follow suit and lounge in the yard while the guards watch in utter confusion. Once inside you are met by a group of guards who accept your letter and lead you through a series of hallways until you enter a large room with multiple official looking people standing around a table with a map of the city on it. At the head of the table stands a stout red bearded dwarf in half plate armor. He looks up from the table, giving each of you a glance and says in a gruff low voice, "Lightbringers... Hell of a job ye did out there. What news from Telgun?"
Daegon's forces have taken part of the eastern coast but we've managed to hold them at the mountains. We've been clearing out clusters of drekthar that were able to get behind the front lines. After sightings quit popping up we managed to kill Graal during a mission but Daegon and Aemyra escaped us. We asked what else could be done while we wait for another sighting and were informed of the sieges on Traes, Esterlin as well as the trouble Rhazal was causing on Zhora. We helped Reynala in a battle, killed Rhazal and after speaking with Reynala decided to head here." Gaelin responds not sure of how much detail to give before continuing.
"I know there is still much to be done and discussed but we have a few things and questions we need quickly before we continue. First, Do you have a teleportation circle we can access if we need to return here? Second, do you have anyone with the capability of transporting us to Esterlin? While we don't mind flying there, the ability to teleport us and our mounts would be helpful. Third, What is the situation in Esterlin? Lastly..." Gaelin says looking back at Aryn and Mucor before turning back, "Do you have any food? We're quite hungry."
Four of the officers' jaws drop as you casually mention the death of Graal before they quickly compose themselves. Baern watches you keenly his eyes glancing at each of the party members as you speak to see if this is real or made up. He slowly squints his eyes as you begin to ask questions but his eyes seem to light up as you finish by asking for food. "It's been too long since I've heard such boldness from a true warrior." He says making his way around the table, a wide smile on his face. "Aye, we have food. I've missed the hunger after the thrill of battle, but you've definitely earned yourselves a feast. We do have a circle here. It's in the seventh tower of the seven towers and the mages should have the know-how to get ye ta Esterlin. While I don't have a problem with it you'll still have to clear it with Varian. The mages cooperate with the armies but operate under their own terms. They've been hold up in those towers since the siege started. Barely heard a peep from em, save a heads up that you'd be a comin. They didn't mention yer group by name but said there be 6 powerful beings that would come to our aid. Never thought It'd be ridin in on griffons and a bloody dragon." He says with a laugh as he finally reaches the group. His laugh and smile fade quickly and he looks over each of you before whispering. "We'll talk about Esterlin when yer done eat'n. Too many ears and eyes here. Now laugh like I just told ye a dirty joke." Baern busts out laughing deeply and yells, "and that's not the first time it's happened."
Your led to a large dining hall that quickly begins to fill with soldiers who each point and stare in awe at your group. A full display of varying food sits upon the table. Seafood seems to be the priority but the aroma of the food is delicious. Spiced soups and dishes dominate the layout while the familiar staples of beef, pork and chicken all have their places. The hall fills with the sounds of joyous victory and soldiers toast to your honor.
Gaelin will gufaah along with the dwarf before heading down to eat. While the food was nice and the victory was a great one Gaelin still felt it was bittersweet. Sure, they couldn't have hoped for much better but there were still thousands of Drekthar roaming around nearby capable of leveling many a small town or village. In fact, that's exactly what they'd be doing... maybe even at this moment they were descending on a nearby town. He had to find out once they met back with Baern. Not that there was much he could do about it. He had one really big Fireball left in him but that wouldn't even stop 50. If Esterlin was fine he would want to hunt down the rest of the horde and purge them from Eraas. Then Aryn's question brought him back to an even scarier thought. A spy within their midst, potentially a high ranking officer. "Unfortunately I think so." he responded absent mindedly as he stared off into nothingness.
He resolved himself to the table and resumed eating. Tonight he would eat, listen and prepare. As he looked across the table he saw the smiling faces of his friends and smiled. Then he thought to himself, friends... no friends didn't sound right anymore, they were his family. Then he thought about Valeera, his heart seemed to skip a beat as it lurched in his chest and he wondered if she was getting lonely... or if she'd eaten one of the guards yet. He would quickly finish eating and begin ritual casting Telepathic Bond. Once finished he would stand and say telepathically to the group, "I'm gonna go visit with Valeera. Let me know when it's time to meet with Baern." and grab a basket of fish and a couple haunches of meat.
Outside he would pet the griffons and feed each of them a couple fish saving the haunches and two or three fish for Valeera. if he passed a guard along the way he would request more food be brought to them. He would sit with Valeera and lie against her warm body looking up into the sky. "You were great today. You didn't get too hurt did you?" he asked as he looked over her body. If she was in need of healing he would expend 2 charges of his staff for Cure wounds. 19
"You were pretty good yourself. I'm fine, your healing before fixed me up." Valeera responds. Looking over her you can't see any visible wounds, just the scars from previous battles that have healed over. (No lost spell slot.) About 5 minutes pass before a cart comes by loaded with fish and meats. Valeera and the griffons crown around the cart and each take large mouthfuls of food. Within 2 minutes the cart is empty. As the sky begins to darken you congregate back together and head back to the same room. You find Baern and 3 others around the same table. Baern nods and excuses himself from the group of officers and comes over to your group. "I've never flown on a griffon before, do you think you could help remedy that?" While you aren't sure if he actually wants to fly, you can tell he wants to leave this room. You follow him down to the courtyard and find your griffons and Valeera relaxing peacefully. As you approach their heads poke up with curious anticipation. Baern turns to you and says, "There's a cliff not far from here that looks over the field and the sea. If ye can get me up on one of these beautiful creatures I can show you where it is. We should be able to talk more there."
Mucor would nod to Baern. "You can ride with me. Ironwing has strength to spare" The minotaur would say with a snort as he pats the griffon on the head. Mucor would then sling himself over the back of the hulking griffon and offer his new co-pilot a hand.
"Why don't you cast the mind speaking spell again with us while we fly. It'll keep anyone that could be hiding nearby from hearing." Aryn says telepathically to Gaelin as she mounts Calypso. "Same cliff the commanders were on earlier today?" she asks looking at Baern.
"When did you get so smart." Gaelin responds telepathically to Aryn, expecting a slap , arrow or glare to come his way any second. "Baern, I'm not sure how familiar you are with magic but in about 10 minutes you're going to hear our voices in your head. We will be able to communicate with each other without physically talking." Gaelin says before hopping on Bronze Claw. Once they get in the air Gaelin will begin to ritual cast Telepathic Bond including Valeera and Baern.
"Aye, one in the same." Baern responds to Aryn before giving an inquisitive look at Gaelin. "Whatever ye say." You mount up and quickly make your way to the cliff to the north west. You land and make yourselves comfortable as Gaelin finishes his spell. In your mind you hear Baern say, “I could get used to flying real quick. Thank ye for taking me. Esterlin is having some difficulty with information leaking out. They believe that Daegon has spies stationed in many of the major cities and capitals reporting strategies and locations of defenses to him. I fear we have the same issue here. I know at least one of our officers is a spy but I’m not sure who. I’ve narrowed it down to the three you saw at the table just a few minutes ago. There’s no way those trebuchets could’ve hit three of our storage buildings and two shelters without someone telling them where to aim. They’re scattered about the city to protect them and those trebuchets pounded the same locations for nearly 10 days before they turned to the walls.”
Baern puffs up his chest a bit as he continues. “Traes didn’t have to worry about a battle on two sides because of our great natural defenses and superior leadership. Esterlin on the other hand has to worry about bombardments from other ships and the Drekthar trebuchets preparing to breach their walls on the ground. While we had the sea to replenish our food shortage, Esterlin is beginning to exhaust the waters they currently hold. Estimates are that the city can hold out for 6-10 more days. Reinforcements won’t reach the city for another 2 weeks. Your timing could be better but it still ain’t bad… However, I need yer help finding the rat amongst us before ya leave if at all possible. Any ideas?”
"Strip em naked and look for the tattoo." Aryn says bluntly. "We can also interrogate them if necessary." She smiles at that thought and looks over to the others. "What?!? I'm just thinking out loud. Gaelin, Jinara and Mucor may have some magical means of extracting the truth and Zinamer may have some tricks up his sleeve but all I got are these." She says holding up two daggers. "And they've worked pretty well in the past."
"Speaking of magic abilities, mind taking a look at these?" Aryn says to Gaelin as she pulls out the two daggers, armor and three rings.
"So you would prefer not to just.. kill all three?... I assume?" Mucor would ask while rubbing his thick hairy chin. "I mean.. you could tell each of them that there is going to be an important magical weapon being transported through the city tomorrow... you can say that we brought it with us for that matter... and then tell each of the three officers a different route and location where the exchange will take place... then when they come to intercept the weapon.. we will know who must have been the spy based on where they attack..." Mucor would mention very casually.
Jinara raises his hand, which is a grey/blue in skin tone, and repeatedly curls his fingers presenting several images of potential damage. He casts Prestidigitation to illustrate lightning, fire, cold, light (radiant), and death (necrotic) and says to Aryn "Hmm. Which one. I fear that a discussion with a spy will only get us so far. Maybe Mucor's zombie thing might be a common thread the spy my cling to, but if not I am ready." He turns his focus to Baern "Which one is the newest? What roles/responsibilities do each hold in your ranks?"
Mucor would look to the others. "I could... raise a few zombies.. under my control of course" The minotaur would say looking to Baern and pretend to attack you while you are alone with the three officers... Whichever officer decides to join the fight on my side would be the spy.."
"While I have no problem killing a true spy, I assume we would like to keep this a quiet matter and a quick one? I have a proposal: I am familiar with a spell that forces those who it effects to tell the truth. We can interrogate all three at the same time. Those who aren't spies will simply be able to say they aren't a spy. While any will be unable to lie. I will know whether they resist the effect so they won't be able to trick us. If this method is unable to bring light to the who the spy is we try any and all other methods, but this spell should enable us to root out the spy without the potential for harm to ourselves or other innocent parties. The only caveat to this is that I can't perform this spell tonight as I am tapped of spells. I will be able to use it tomorrow though." Gaelin says after hearing the many options from the group before turning to Baern with a curious look on his face.
"How do you know we aren't spies Baern? Sure we helped save the city but what better way to sneak in as a wolf in sheep's clothing?"
Mucor would chuckle. "Yeah... what if we killed thousands or orcs and destroyed hundreds of hours worth of planning and work creating siege weapons only to infiltrate a town that would have probably fallen under orc rule had we not stepped in in the first place" The minotaur woudl say with a snort as he slaps Gaelin on the shoulder.
"Sure." Gaelin responds to Aryn telepathically as Mucor mocks him. "Bad example I know but still I'm curious. Even with us destroying the orcs we're still complete strangers." he says smiling and blushing slightly.
Gaelin will take the time to identify everything ritual casting over and over.