While the party was off around the island recovering the blessings, Hepolita was taking care of her own mission. After her run-ins with the members of the Baleard Crest Gang she had come clean with the party. She had confessed that she was on hire for the gang as part of a contract she had signed. The contract was just vague enough that, until she fulfilled the primary obligation, she was little more than a slave to their commands. Her primary obligation was to find the source of power that allowed Milo to come and go through doors as he pleased. They didn’t know that it was actually Asterisk’s magic allowing Milo to travel to and from the store.
When Milo had first arrived in Novos he had found lucrative employment with Asterisk, recovering the magical items when the wearer no longer lived. All items were bonded through the blood of the wearer to the store ledger. When a client died the item was then transferred to Asterisk’s property for further sale or work. All of the members of the Hand of Destiny had items that would revert back to Asterisk upon their death. Milo was hired to help their current recovery expert, Jack, to recover items. Since the store had been locked in Barovia for months, they had a backlog of items to recover and needed the extra help.
Hepolita was not only hired for the knowledge. She was also contractually obligated to kill Milo upon acquiring the proper knowledge. If she could still not find out how he moved around then she was to kill him regardless. Either way Milo’s death was required to fulfill her terms of the contract.
Since Hepolita’s confession, the party had talked at length about how to face this problem. Milo took her to see Asterisk before they left to recover the Blessing of Acqua. They explained the problem to Asterisk and asked if he had any items that would fool the others. Asterisk gave them the prototypes from earlier attempts at perfecting the transport magic. The cards opened into various, unknown locations. They were flukes that had resulted in the loss of an employee or physical injury to the enchanter and were only kept to remind him of his mistakes.
With the cards in hand Hepolita headed to the docks where the Baleard Crest Gang was known to congregate. She planned to have them step through one of the doors and hope that it was far away and deadly. If she could get rid of her contract holders then the contract would be nullified and no longer enforceable.
She arrived at the docks in the middle of the night. The moon was high in the sky, full and bright. The thugs were waiting for her in the shadows of shipped goods. She walked to them and handed them the cards. She explained how they worked and invited them to take their chances.
They were not convinced and asked her to show them first, that way they would be sure it worked. Hepolita had not been prepared for a demonstration but tried to bluff her way through it yet. She chose a card and opened a door to a shack by the docks that looked empty and dilapidated.
When she opened the door she and the gang members were greeted by a cheerfully lit room. Sconces on the wall shone their light on a quiet room. Inside was a group of armored men. Hepolita recognized them as paladins of the Elysium Protectorate a second before the gang members did and with a quick pirouette moved over on the other side of the door frame while the thugs moved in for a better look.
The paladins stared at the door in confusion and when they recognized the gang began to gather their arms and yell for intruders. The leader of the thugs was quick though, and managed to close the door as the first paladin was about to burst through to their side. Once the door was closed the gang members all took a collective breath of relief. As they were gathering their wits, one of them noticed Hepolita backing away with slow stealthy steps. He yelled at his comrades and she took off running.
There weren’t many places to go so she took off running down the dock. It was a long dock with strong boards beneath her feet. Sweat poured from her as she ran for her life. The gang members were taking out their weapons and running after her. She was almost to the end of the dock when her back was riddled with arrows. She had been turned into a pincushion by the gang. As her life drained from her body she flung herself into the sea hoping to get away.
At the last moment she remembered that she had bought boots of water walking and landed right on top of the water. She was running along the side of the dock when more arrows stabbed into her from behind. The gang thugs had found her again.
This time the light faded from her eyes as she lost consciousness. Her body fell below the waves as she hit the water. In her unconscious state she didn’t notice the warm embrace of the water. At night the water should have been freezing cold, but Hepolita was warm in its embrace. Aqua had felt her enter the water and had saved her body. With the healing of her water magic she was able to stabilize Hepolita.
Having saved the elven girl for now, Aqua sent her along her currents to the same place where the party had landed on their way to the oasis. Hepolita woke up in the morning sun on a strange beach and only a vague idea of where to go. Her clothes were plastered to her and her skin was irritated and bruised. But, after the night she had had, this was like waking up in a lavish hotel.
With her body still sore from the healed wounds and the near death experience she followed in the wake of her companions. She hoped to reach them before nightfall but didn’t know how long it would take. She reached the Oasis around mid morning and was on her way through the desert when she saw the meteor strike down on the sands.
She knew her party was near and headed towards the disaster zone. Her friends could always be counted on to be as close to the danger as possible. She ran through the rough sand hoping she got there quick enough to get a few good licks in.