Cast of Characters
Meryl "Wiggy" Wiggins - Gnome Chaos Sorcerer
Sophia - Half-Elf Valorous Bard
Tavar - Deva Retribution Avenger
The King's Welcome
The players reached the city of Ostengard, which happened to contain a landing pad for the airship. The Lander (Dwarf that anchors the airship as it lands) asked them upon exiting the ship why they didn't take it to the Astral Sun's private docks. They played it confidently, saying they were in a hurry and to just let them pass. The Lander stopped them as the hobgoblin and bugbear appeared, saying that they don't allow evil creatures such as them in the city. They were escorted to the dungeons, and they PCs were told they could pick up their captives when they left. They delivered King Norvi (a jovial, charismatic fellow) his scepter, and he promptly invited them to a banquet that night so that they could tell him the tale of their delay. The banquet, which turned out to be a traditional forum for laid-back business meetings in the city, was host to 20 or 30 people. Norvi made his introductions, and the PCs were surprised to learn that 3 members of the Astral Sun were present: Vargus Heskan, the scion of an Arkhosian noble family, Misha Silvertree, a Half-Elf Ritualist, and Morthos Akkenon, a Tiefling Explorer.
Norvi bustled around after eating very little, offering his guests plenty of ale in return for good tales. The PCs began their story before Norvi was called over to another group (no matter, as Sophia was still working on her performance). The PCs noticed that of the Astral Sun representatives, Vargus Heskan seemed stiff but very polite, Misha seemed noticeably irritated by the whole situation, and Morthos was thoroughly enjoying himself (and the King's ale). When Norvi finally came back around to the PCs, Sophia sang her Ballad of Bruce Wyllis, which was received with much applause and raised glasses. Afterwards, Morthos came over to chat with the PCs and share his own stories of far away lands and priceless treasures. They were wary of saying too much to him, but it was soon obvious that he was completely sincere in his interest and didn't seem to be involved in the attack. Still, the PCs were able to glean some information about the Astral Sun and it's operations from him (it is a magical trade guild with outposts in several cities in these lands). When asked about his companions, Morthos vouched for them completely, saying they were admirable and excellent (though he'd never personally worked with them). When asked about the scepter, Morthos merely recounted legends of it, which stated that it was forged by Norvi's ancestors but lost in an Arkhosian raid of Ostengard back when the empire was strong. Perhaps a Dragonborn might feel that he had a rightful claim to this heirloom?
The PCs decided to approach the Vargus (Vargus is an Arkhosian military rank, meaning "captain"). He was exceedingly polite, though it seemed like he was annoyed by them. They asked him what his job was at the Astral Sun, and he stated that he mostly dealt with security. They asked if it was his responsibility to guard the fleet of airships, but he said that he was mostly involved with guarding valuable objects in transit. When he spoke the words "valuable objects" the PCs noticed that he inadvertently glanced directly at the Emerald Iron Scepter. The PCs had heard enough. They returned to their seats and kept an eye on him, but he left 10 minutes later.
The PCs tried tailing him, but thanks to Wiggy's low stealth roll he heard them and dashed off around a corner. The PCs found themselves in the outer city (Ostengard was halfway inside of the mountain, halfway outside in what seemed to be a section of mountain that had been removed to create the outdoor courtyard). Wiggy decided to head to their captured airship to make sure it was still secure, while Tavar and Sophia kept in pursuit of Vargus Heskan. The courtyard was bustling this evening, but the Dragonborn was easily spotted moving amongst the Dwarves. He crossed the courtyard, dashing into a house on the other side. The PCs tried the door, but it was locked. They were soon spotted trying to pick the lock, and the bystander immediately shouted "Thieves! Burglars!!" Sophia tried to bluff her way out of it ("I just lost my key!") but the Dwarf said that he didn't know of any Half-Elves that lived in this neighborhood. Soon the guards approached, asking what the problem was. Sophia tried to talk her way into letting the guards turn a blind eye because this was important business for the king, but they weren't having it. They said that they were pursuing someone whom they suspected of trying to steal the King's newly returned scepter. The guards scoffed at this, saying it was unlikely that anyone would breach the King's security. The PCs again attempted to persuade the guards, saying that speed was essential or the suspect would get away. They stated that they had to investigate suspicious characters as well, but that they had actual authority to do so. In one last attempt, Sophia used Words of Friendship to convince the guards to at least take them directly to the King so that they could explain.
The King heard their tale, thanking them for bringing the situation to light but warning them that they had no authority in the city. He spoke to the Vargus' companions and while Morthos, ever the apologist (and drunk at that) stood up for the guy, the disgruntled Misha said that he'd come to the city only recently, and already he'd had a mishap where he failed to register an airship on official business. Upon hearing this, Norvi sent his guards to investigate the house and the records of the Astral Sun. He advised the PCs to enjoy the banquet and then go back to their rooms at the inn.
The next morning the PCs were summoned to King Norvi's throne room. He told them that the investigation was complete, and that his guards had discovered a secret passage in the house. Vargus Heskan had escaped, and his activities in the Astral Sun had implied that he was actually a mole, possibly working for some other organization. Norvi thanked the PCs again for bringing him the scepter, and for warning him of the danger in his midst. They were handsomely rewarded, and then they returned to Fallcrest (bringing the liberated prisoners, Valthrun and Tiktag, with them).