On Sunday, September 7th at 6:30 PM, citizens of the realm gathered for a Treasure Hunt. We met with Commander Gwen Irina of the Royal Britannian Guard and recently appointed Court Mage Dravon Baelgard, who told us that someone called "the Butcher" had acquired imprisoned pirate Captain Coronius's pet parrot, Aurelius, and that to get Coronius to reveal the whereabouts of the Cloak of Aether we must capture the bird--Coronius would not cooperate until he knew his pet was safe. Suprisingly this Butcher was in the dungeon Shame (and not the city of Trinsic as one might expect). Irina and Baelgard led us deep into the dungeon to a fortress of evil mages, where we slew the Butcher and retrieved the parrot. We brought it back to King Blackthorn's castle, where he remains safely tied to his perch, should anyone be inclined to offer him a parrot wafer: Irina felt that, given the unpleasant history between her and Coronius, it would be best for the gathered citizens to try to speak with him. She and Baelgard departed, and we began our mission. While one group of citizens from faraway lands somehow completed the task with remarkable speed, many of us were left behind and confused. On Tuesday several of us combined our efforts to decipher the clues, and on Wednesday we gathered in force and began anew. First we went to Captain Coronius's cell. While he was at first uncooperative (though certainly more cooperative than the other prisoners... who strangely remain armed and quite dangerous despite their imprisonment; I know the King to be generous and lenient, but surely there should be a limit), he relented somewhat upon learning that we had secured the safety of his beloved pet. He told us he had made a map that he had given to Ol' Tobias, a guard from the kitchen. We were unable to coax more from him, so we proceeded to the kitchen to meet Ol' Tobias... Er... or Jasper. Coronius did say that he was drunk when drawing the map, but he didn't seem drunk when we spoke with him. Curious. The kitchen and the adjacent room are infested with undead, and I don't see how any food fit for human consumption could be produced in such conditions, but Jasper didn't seem to be doing much cooking or guarding. While he seemed never to have heard of anyone called Ol' Tobias, he had heard of the map! He told us that he had given the map to Selma Arvista, who is currently looking at some maps for the King. He also indicated that she would likely ignore unless we gave her a magically produced peach. So we proceeded out of the strange dungeon/prison to find her. Indeed, Selma would not even look up from her studies until we shoved a magically summoned peach into her hands. Once we got her attention though, she informed us that the crude map appeared to be an island with lava on it, and that there was a "black blob" circled to the northeast. Or possibly an ink spill. Either way, it was all we had to go on. Naturally we searched the Isle of Fire, and a cave found in the northeast of the island seemed promising. However, we were not entirely certain that the cave's contents had any relevance to our search. We found some reagents scattered about, some daemon bone, and a book: The link seemed tenuous to many of us. We were not entirely certain if the cloaking ritual related to the Cloak of Aether, and to be perfectly honest we still aren't. In fact, a trip back to Coronius yielded no further information upon asking him about a cloaking ritual and the author of this dubious tome. However, after searching the northeast section of the Isle of Fire extensively this remained the only remotely relevant thing we could find. We were looking for a place of fire that was small and could be used for confinement of a creature. "A small and close area, one dripping with power". We gathered some reagents and daemon bones of our own and set out. The obvious first stop was the nearby daemon temple. Alas, we found nothing save a curiously well preserved book that seemed to have no bearing on the issue at hand. We thought a bit more. Knowing that daemon bone armor sometimes can be taken from the corpses of efreets, we checked the small efreet room in Fire Dungeon (both a place of fire and a contained space): After clearing out the efreets and even laying out the reagents, we determined that this was unfortunately not the right place. One of us recalled a hidden area in the tragically lost village of Paws that might meet the conditions described. So there we went: And at the end was indeed a well-contained place of fire! But we could find nothing to aid our search. Maybe they went to the Shrine of Chaos in Ilshenar? Daemons... fire... and pirates are certainly agents of chaos. We even found an ancient daemon: But no clues. Just a useless lever to taunt us. We scattered, and searched many other places of fire to no avail. After many futile hours, a particularly sneaky journalist's foray into Hythloth dungeon finally yielded another clue: While located on the Isle of Fire, Hythloth did not seem to be a place of fire. Curious. It was definitely a place of confinement though, and an unshackled demon roamed the corridors. The demon did not attack, but did not respond to any queries either--perhaps it feared we would reshackle it. (We opted not to tell it that we had no shackles.) The cutlass made us believe we were on the right track with the pirates though, and the next clue was easy enough! We made haste to the ruins west of Vesper. Though these ruins are a known hideout of the criminal Mercutio, we found instead a fellow by the name of Bailey camping there. Bailey asked for liquor and spare change, and in return he told us a disjointed tale of some unattractive pirates rushing through and saying something about teleporters. (He also made clumsy passes at everyone who spoke to him.) There seemed to be little help for Bailey, so we considered his words. Naturally, we proceeded to Jhelom. Jhelom is known for pirate activity, and we knew that Coronius had been there before (and in fact, his female companions are still waiting for him in the inn). Jhelom is also famous for the teleporters that carry you to its different islands. We headed straight for the teleporters and found the Jhelom Guard Captain himself standing watch. He offered to assist us, but he had apparently neither seen nor heard anything. In fact, he seemed to be capable of giving directions and little else. Perhaps he was a tour guide before joining the guard? With no assistance from the city employees forthcoming, we spread out and searched ourselves, giving special attention to the two teleporter destination islands. After some searching, one of our party announced a discovery north of the farm! So we went... And found this strange scene: Ice? Odd. Though perhaps this dead rabbit here has something to do with that ritual we learned about earlier which didn't seem to make much sense. Let's take a closer look... The rabbit was a trick! Touching it dropped us into a hellish underground cavern! Which had no further clues, and from which we could not seem to escape. We regrouped and returned to Vesper. Jhelom seemed to be a bust. Other theories about teleporters were tossed around. Moonglow? The bottom of the wisp dungeon? We spread out once more until one fellow ventured north of Bailey's camp to the Buccaneer's Den gate--a teleporter! Just inside the gate, strewn aside into the grass, we found this debt bill addressed to one Captain Coronius: We proceeded to the Pirate's Plunder, the tavern in Buccaneer's Den. After stumbling about past several invisible obstacles we found a barkeeper called Darlene who was quite irate with Coronius's "friends". Apparently the whole crew was banned from the island after "the stunts they pulled", though Darlene would not elaborate on the subject. (One can only imagine what manner of stunts one must pull to warrant a ban from Buccaneer's Den of all places.) Darlene either did not know or did not care exactly where the pirates had gone from there, but she did give us a little bit to go on: "The nearest bar" turned out to be the Keg and Anchor in Trinsic. Harrison, manager of the Keg and Anchor, would not tell us much until we paid him for some of the damages the pirates wrought (though the place didn't look any worse than the last time I was there, and Harrison was quite eager to grab any check that he saw... I suspect corruption). Upon prodding (and bribing), he told us a peculiar tale of pirates dropping their pants and running through town. Oh, Trinsic. Apparently the Trinsic guards chased the pirates out of town (to the benefit of the Trinsic food supply, no doubt). We searched about for further evidence. Just as in Jhelom, the Trinsic guards were oddly reluctant to assist, instead cheerfully pointing out landmarks and points of interest. Curious. We searched the docks and the gates, and outside the south gate we found... Abandoned pirate pants and a ruined map with Coronius's handwriting. Promising. This discovery also led to the revelation by Governor Phoenix that clothing was optional on Trinsic beaches, which was news to me. Perhaps if the pirates had kept to the beaches they would have remained welcome in town! In any case, we were now looking for somewhere that was "too feckin' hot". In our search for a "place of fire" that actually turned out to be "a chilly stone basement" we'd visited plenty of places that were too feckin' hot and seen nothing that seemed important. However, as it happened, we knew of a place where pirates had recently been--and where they had complained of the heat! And it seems, where they remain and continue to complain of the heat: We remembered these individuals as members of Coronius's crew from quite some time ago. Despite their complaints, they must be content enough there... in a cemetery... in a desert. Curious. They are still yammering on about Coronius and the Chimaera as well. These were some of Coronius's crew at one point. Some more of his crew (led by ill-fated former ship's cook "Toothless" Bart) limped into Minoc a while back and were killed, claimed by Holly Bloodhand, or imprisoned when Bloodhand was declared a traitor. Now we are chasing even more of his crew all over Sosaria. Just how many crew members did this man have?! No matter how we tried, these pirates (or perhaps now they are cemetery groundskeepers?) would not tell us anything about the map or the cloak. The only thing they would tell us was that they were no longer Coronius's crew. There were no signs of Coronius at any of his previous haunts in Nujelm, nor anywhere on the island that we could tell. We were back to the drawing board. So we searched. We looked in deserts: Beaches: Rechecked places we'd been before: Papua, maybe? Coronius had been there before! That is, in fact, not Lady Vasheri, but Aurelius. But... if Aurelius is still in Papua... who is this? Are there two Aureliuses... Aurelii... Aur... parrots by the same name? Is this an elaborate ruse to some dastardly end? Are we being played by pirates yet again? Curiouser and curiouser. Perhaps, because it was too hot, they decided to take a swim! Or maybe go somewhere cold? Eventually one of us went back to Coronius and demanded more information. Surprisingly, he answered. You're a jerk, Coronius. "The place" was a steep uphill hike on a volcano. Well then.