Knowing the Little Pixie was in possession of at least one and possibly more cards, it would first be necessary to scout the shop and determine the exact location of the cards, and the nature of any traps or protections that might endanger a heist. The party made their way to the shop in the early afternoon to trade an item for one of the cards. Astrafel offered the sacrificial knife she had taken from the Shaman during the Winter Solstice ceremony in the Ice Wastes. The shopkeeper, though not as impressed as he might have been, agreed that the knife would be an acceptable trade and offered a single card in return. Astrafel chose The Diplomat, a card whose influence is said to cause others nearby to treat the bearer like a trusted ally. Erroll, watching the shopkeeper closely, observed the locked wooden box in which the cards were kept, and the location of the box squarely behind the counter. After the transaction, the shopkeeper returned the box to its home and smiled politely at his guests.
“Uh, thanks—thanks for the trade. What time do you close?” asked Astrafel.
The shopkeeper replied, “We are open for business until one hour past sundown.”
“Oh, okay, great,” said Astrafel, “Uh, we might be back later. To make another trade. Yeah.”
During the transaction, Dru spent some time in meditation on the nature of the spirits of the City. During his meditation, he saw a brilliantly vivid—and terrifying—vision of events to come:
The great Temple of the Prophets burning to the ground. Azloria under siege from a host of bronze-armored warriors, their swords and shields glistening red and yellow in the sun and flames. Thick black smoke hanging heavy in the air. The unbearable screams of the dying.
What terrible development could result in such gruesome consequences?
Following the reconnaissance mission to the Little Pixie, the party thought it prudent to pay a visit to the High Order of the Brothers of the Sun. The Reverent Key seemed to have some rivalry with them; it was time to figure out why.
Arder and Aldara decided to enter the temple located on the Azloria’s Central Plaza, overshadowed by the huge and imposing Temple of the Prophets in the very middle of the square. As they entered through the front door of the temple, they were immediately enveloped in the light of hundreds of blazing torches lining the walls, with an enormous hearth-fire burning in the center of the room. Along the edges of the great hall, yellow-robed monks were milling about, replacing expended torches and feeding the great fire.
“Ah, greetings, visitors!” came a jovial voice from a nearby monk. “What questions can I answer for you this glorious day?”
“We’re here to find out more about your…organization,” said Arder. “We have heard much about the Brothers of the Sun in our travels, but we wanted to find out about you for ourselves.”
“Oh, of course! I would be happy to tell you about our bright and glorious order. Please, follow me.” He led the pair across the great hall to an enormous stone door, inlaid with the golden double-sun sigil of the order. Through the doorway was a long corridor, bright as day and warm with the heat of a hundred more brilliant torches, interspersed with gleaming polished silver shields bearing the same golden suns. At the end of the corridor the temple opened up to a huge congregation hall, its walls lined with more shields and torches. More monks were puttering here and there, polishing shields, replacing torches, and making evening preparations before supper.
“As you can see, we greatly value the life-giving light bestowed on us by our God the Sun,” said the monk.
Arder’s eyes flickered from within, a salamander’s response to the heat and light within the temple. “What fuels the flames of your desire, monk?” she hissed.
Without pause, the yellow-robed missionary responded, “To see world burning with the Glory of the Sun, and to see all her people wearing the yellow robes of the High Order of the Brothers of the Sun.” He blinked a few moments, looking as if he was trying hard to remember something, then shook his head and smiled vacantly.
Aldara and Arder exchanged a look, recalling Dru’s vision. Remembering the purpose of their visit, Aldara quickly asked a final question: “We heard in our travels that the Brothers of the Sun may have sent some men to Greybark, perhaps in search of some cards? Do you know anything about that?”
The monk looked thoughtful for a moment, then replied “I cannot speak to the validity of your claim, but I can tell you that the Brothers of the Sun do not take kindly to tools of divination. It is our belief that such obvious blasphemy is a distraction from the true glory of our God the Sun. We make it a point to destroy any such artifacts we encounter.”
Now well past sundown, the group reconvened in the Plaza to discuss the details of their plan. Erroll alone would sneak into the shop and steal the box holding the cards, with Niskadora and Judo standing watch nearby. Meanwhile, Arder and Astrafel, Aldara and Cecil, and Dru would each create diversions a few blocks away. Like last time, Arder linked herself to the embers in three tobacco pipes, and would flare the embers in the event of any misfortune.
Dru, seeking to create the biggest distraction, shapeshifted into a yeti and smashed the exterior walls of several nearby establishments. Moments later, she shapeshifted back into his Elven form, naked and screaming, as three armed city guards seized upon him from all sides. Shapeshifting again into a fly, he zipped away above the fracas and, transforming now into a grizzly bear, fell upon the hapless guards…
Meanwhile, Aldara and Cecil made their way to the edge of the commerce district to a street lined with a series of taverns. Without warning, Aldara cast a spell to turn Cecil invisible to every pair of eyes, including his own. Cecil, confused and afraid, began to flail madly about, jumping and stomping as if to try to shake himself back into existence. Tavern-goers rushed into the street to find the source of the commotion, only to be bowled off their feet by an invisible arm or leg.
“Aldara! Aaahh! Aldara, I don’t like this! What’s going on? Aldara! Ahh!”
A few blocks away, nearer the central plaza, Astrafel and Arder set up a small busking performance (prohibited, of course, by city ordinances) under the guise of sanctioned prophesy:
Come join the Brothers of the Sun
Come join us, we’re extra fun
If you do not join our group,
The Sun will turn you into glooooop!
Immediately, Astrafel’s utterly competent but uninspiring performance drew the attention of a nearby guard. “Oi. No street performance. ’Sagainst the lawr. Move along.”
“Absolutely, officer. No problem,” said Astrafel, as she picked up her mandolin case. They moved a few yards away, closer to the central plaza, and picked the performance back up where it had left off.
“Oi! I thought I told you to—” At once, the guard’s cape flared up, caught by an errant ember from a nearby streetlamp. Arder’s eyes flickered and sparked. A few more nearby guards, alerted by the short-lived blaze, were drawn to the scuffle. As the first guard rolled on the ground to extinguish his cape, the other guards surrounded Astrafel and Arder. Arder signaled the others with a flare of the pipe tobacco. She and Astrafel attempted to run, but the clumsily narrow streets were choked with onlookers, and the pair were captured by city guards…