3. The Equinox
The characters searched Sharl’s room and, as anticipated, found two bloodied nightsteel daggers. Sharl denied having seen them before. Goldrock examined them and explained that although they are of Basite manufacture he could not tell precisely where they were made as the normal runes of craftsmanship had been left off. At this point the evidence against Sharl was clearly mounting and with the permission of Ambassador Makrun he was placed into custody. 
Zhel’darax used his powers of psychometry to determine how the daggers found their way into the sanctuary. He had a vision of a cloaked Kasheetan entering a bar – the Spotted Dogtopus in the Ohmryn quarter – and meeting with three Ohmryn. The Kasheetan handed the Ohmryn some daggers wrapped in a leather pouch, a set of keys, and three pass bracelets for the sanctuary. The three Ohmryn then disappeared into the shadows and emerged as Basites before making their way towards the sanctuary compound. The Kasheetan fled.
So there was a third assassin and the plot may have had a man on the inside (a Kasheetan?). The heroes spoke to the Sorcerer-Poet of Kratos Dai and the other two apprentice seers, Galdr of the Ohmryn and Baldurr of the Basites, but not before Goldrock surreptitiously examined them to make sure they were not really skinchangers. A check of the inventory revealed that one of the Ohmryn’s sets of keys for the building were missing – presumably the ones used by the assassins. Was this proof of Ohmryn complicity or merely their incompetence?
Either way, as skinchanger assassins can only maintain their form for so long, and the whole building was in lockdown, they agreed to assemble everyone in the main voting chamber. Between the Basites’ ability to see through illusion and the pressure of everyone being all together at once, any remaining assassins were sure to be revealed. Due to concerns over Sharl’s safety it was agreed that he would be released from his cell under armed guard, his manacles removed as a gesture of diplomatic courtesy for such a public arena.
As the room began to fill up, Fleet’s clerk Leafthorn darted into the chamber holding a message scroll. Heading straight for the Sorcerer-Poet, he pulled out a nightsteel dagger coated in orange poison. Zhel-darax saw this and responded immediately, hurling his firestone bolas at the would-be assassin and knocking him to the ground. The Sorcerer-Poet himself, seemingly taken by surprise, lifted his firestone staff to finish the job. Fleet, wanting a live prisoner to interrogate, shouted across the room to intervene but was too late – a white hot beam of pure energy burned a channel through the skinchanger’s head and ten feet into the stone floor. The assassin was dead! The Sorcerer-Poet thanked Fleet and Zhel’darax for their assistance and then moved on to the next item on the agenda – determining who would succeed Swiftstream as the next seer.
This was a contest between the three apprentices – the Sorcerer-Poet, Galdr, and Baldurr. There would be no candidate for the Phae-Touched as they had been the last ones to hold the position, although a new apprentice would be sent over from the Wychlight Forest as soon as the vote was decided. Each race had one vote. Out of embarrassment due to Sharl’s alleged crimes and their own apparent loss of the keys, the Ohmryn abstained. With no candidate of their own, the Phae Touched also abstained. The Basites and the Kasheetans both then voted for the Sorcerer-Poet to formally become the new seer of Sanctuary Island.
The characters now went to investigate Fleet’s office to see if they could find the real Leafthorn. Which they did, snapped in two and stuffed into a cupboard. The body was still warm so it was clear that this had happened after Sharl had been arrested. This along with the evidence of the seeing stone was enough to prove that Sharl could not have been the murderer and so he was exonerated of those crimes. The matter of the dead Kasheetan he had woken up next to was less clear – possibly this murder was committed by the same person who had planted the daggers in his quarters, but it could not be proven – but was simply glossed over in the interests of diplomacy. However, Sharl would still find that the shadow of these allegations hanging over him in any future dealings with the Kasheetans.
Now that everyone in the building had been cleared of being a skinchanger, the lockdown was removed. The Sorcerer-Poet gave the group permission to carry on with their quest immediately, promising to resolve all the bureaucratic issues on their behalf. It also emerged that Swiftstream had left them something of a legacy – being a fervent believer in the ancient prophecies, he had commissioned the creation of a medium sized boat to take the group on their quest. This boat was named the Equinox, and came equipped with wind spirits bound to the sails, and broadside cannons loaded with nightsteel ammunition . At its prow was a figurehead of the four races together holding up the sun, a symbol of unity intended to have an inspirational effect on all concerned. It was also agreed that the ship would be crewed by 16 members of the sanctuary guard, ensuring an even split between the four races and reducing the risk of inter-species conflict.
Later a messenger relayed the news that two skinchangers had been found and killed in the Ohmryn quarters while trying to get a boat off the island. The immediate problem had been resolved. However, it was still clear that security needed to be beefed up. As the Basites can see through illusions, their guards would be allowed to stay on. And as the Sorcerer-Poet could personally vouch for all the Kasheetans, they too could stay on. However, the Ohmryn and Phae Touched guards would have to be temporarily suspended until their background checks could be fully completed, just to make sure there were no more incidents.
After a brief fanfare the Equinox and her crew left for the first leg of their journey. As the rocky cliffs of the Kasheetan Empire came into view, the crew found themselves mesmerised by a strange and beautiful song drifting over the wind. Fleet recognised this straight away as the call of the Siren, an aquatic form of Unseelie that tries to lure unwitting sailors to their doom. As he looked more closely he noticed two such creatures in the waters ahead of the ship, darting gleefully between the waves and drawing them towards some very sharp looking rocks. Fleet began a powerful countersong in an attempt to protect himself as much as the crew – in the past he has felt vulnerable to the call of the Unseelie, and if he was not careful he could easily find himself reinforcing the Sirens call rather than opposing it. Due to this internal conflict he was only partially successful – some of the crew were broken out of their trance, but not all, and this risked spilling over into a fight between the two camps. Taking advantage of the time Fleet had bought them, Goldrock summoned a brief but terrible lightning storm straight ahead to smash the Sirens into submission. Sure enough two burnt and broken mermaid-like bodies floated up to the surface, still hissing in the boiling water, and the ship was able to continue safely on its way.
 Sharl’s player wasn’t present at the session so this was quite a convenient way of writing him out of the action for a while.
 The Equinox came about entirely from the imaginations of the players. I had no involvement. They had the idea that such a ship might have been built and then used spotlight points to stat it up and buy relationships to it. One player also drew a picture of it afterwards. Giving players creative input into the game really works.