At daybreak after their battle with the sea creature, the heroes freed their ship from the sandbar with the rising tide, and steered for the river entrance. Marsk directed the others to assist him in navigating the deepest part of the river to avoid running aground, and made their way upriver with an inland wind at their backs. While it was slow going, they made it upriver with little difficulty for the first two days.
On their third day on the river, the heroes were ambushed. Archers peppered the deck from a hiding spot along one shore, while two of their associates hauled a makeshift rope net across the river at a narrowing of the channel. As the heroes returned volleys of their own, a pair of rowboats shot from hiding places along both banks full of boarders. Gustavus, in a rare show of athleticism for a man of his advanced years, leapt from the boat into one of the rowboats, and with a single shout, shattered the rowboat and blew the boarders into the river. The other crew of boarders fared no better, as Ulfberht and the archers thinned their ranks. With the netminders dead or fled, the heroes’ boat hit the net and (with a little hacking at the ropes by Marsk), snapped the makeshift trap. Scooping up the fallen with their fishing gear, the heroes collected arms and armor to use in trade and tossed the bodies overboard as they continued on their way.
Two days later, they could smell Ellowen before it was in view…an unfamiliar mixture of people, smoke from cooking fires, tanneries, with the more familiar undertone of fish. Rounding a bend in the river, the sheer size of the town before them was baffling. The entirety of Keflavik would’ve fit along the confused jumble of piers at the river’s edge, and the town stretched away as far as the eye could see. Wooden walls surrounded the core of the town, with a few scattered farms along the river outside the walls.
Steering carefully to an open pier, Marsk put the boat in as a handful of dock workers swarmed out to aid them in securing the vessel to the pier. An officious-looking man bustled out to them, and the villagers of the north were told it would cost them two pieces of silver for every day they left the boat moored here. After a little back and forth with this official, a dockworker was dispatched to help them find accommodations and conduct trade in order to pay the fees. While the currency proved a bit confusing, Argvidr exhibited a knack for figures and was named the keeper of the group’s “money.”
They took a room at an alehouse called “The Shattered Shiellelagh,” and traded their scavenged weapons to a dwarven smith named Gravrock, whose smithy was not far from their room. With the dockmaster appeased, a little coin in their pouch, and a place to stay, the group traded some of their copper coins to have nearby urchins run messages to their four contacts and seek meetings. After a meal and a few ales, they retired to their room to get some rest, exhausted and overwhelmed by the scale of Ellowen and strangeness of their customs.
The group was awakened in the night by a magical alarm placed by Gustavus, which shouted a warning when their door was opened by masked assailants. Kyr, having heard suspicious noises before the door even opened, loosed an arrow into the first assailant into the room, and the sheer force of the shot hurled the assassin back into the hallway. The other three killers fared no better, and in mere moments, they had been cut down. As the heroes tended their wounds, the proprietor thundered up the stairs to see what the commotion was, and quickly moved to get the killers into the room and hush the matter up. Among the killer’s possessions was the note the heroes had previously sent to Councilor Morgan, but little else to indicate the assassins’ identities
Rolling the bodies in blankets and weighting them with stones, he led the heroes through back alleys to the riverfront, and helped them toss the bodies in. Eager to keep the matter out of the town watch’s attention, he promised the heroes free room and board for as long as they cared to stay. The heroes found the offer insufficient to stay, and moved the next morning to new quarters at the Old Mug Alehouse. It was during their relocation that a woman with a strangely blank expression approached them on the street, warning them of danger and telling them that the sage Ydrion would make contact soon.
Later in the evening, they had their first success since reaching Ellowen. They were approached at the Old Mug by the merchant Thrasek, one of the four contacts the council had given them. Withdrawing to their room for privacy, they learned from Thrasek that one of the councilors they sought, Morgan, was dead. The other, Andreas, had gone into hiding in fear for his life. Turmoil in the city’s leadership dated back several years, and the current regime were still attempting to stamp out any remains of the previous council. Thrasek cautioned them to be circumspect in their dealings, and said he would be in touch again when it was safe, most likely through intermediaries.