- Ironjack’s journal is enshrined under the Radiant Arch, revealing a secret entrance
- under the Temple of Knowledge, several serpent folk attack the companions
- a mighty man in monk attire is engaged, a new package found
- exiting in a back alley, the companions are ambushed by yellow shields
- they manage to escape with an unconscious officer/wizard
- through interrogation, it is learned that the yellow shields are a mercenary outfit that under contract by Milos to kill the companions, Martin Hawks and Garvey Holland
- the wizard is released in return for calling off the contracts
The companions jump in the first taxi they see to get away from the ensuing chaos. Early evening, they decide it best to travel back to the Temple of Knowledge with Ironjack’s journal in hand. On the way, Lando reads through the book cover to cover, noting the following passage:
There are a great many tomes in the vast library of the Temple.
The best known are represented at the feet of those gaining wisdom.
My first journal covers similar topics.
Norton meets the companions at the gates of the Temple. Requesting to see the Radiant Arch, the page leads the group into the main atrium. There, two massive statues flank the arch, both made of blue-gray marble. The monuments sit atop huge pedestals made to resemble great stacks of books. Norton leaves the companions to further inspection.
An examination of the fine carving reveals that the books are organized by author. Under the name Hammer is found a cleverly hidden hinge – a small amount of pressure slides the book inward, leaving a small space in the shape of a book. The journal of Ironjack is placed into the space. The base of the pedestal opens, the entrance leading to the top of a spiral staircase.
Following the stairs into the darkness, the staircases are intercepted every 15 feet or so by a landing. About five levels down, Anton stops the group – straining his ears, he can discern the voice of several persons below conversing in an ancient language. The companions use their chime to quickly close the distance in silence. There are two persons at the end of the hall, a third can be heard but not seen in the room ahead. The figures are in humanoid garb, but have scaly skin and serpentine heads.
Lando attempts to hail the strangers in good faith. A magical shimmer from the two at the door and their serpentine appearances are quickly replaced by human traits. A whiff of smoke drifts down the corridor.
The farthest of the two takes a step back and closes a door, shutting off its colleagues exit. Anton, anticipating the action, is already in full charge, acrobatically climbing the wall to spring past the guard and into the door. The impact shatters the portal and the halfling falls in a heap to the floor. Romica and Freight charge the guard and make quick work of the hapless foe.
The other serpentine creature, taking adventure of a temporarily stunned Anton, impales the halfling on a spear. Screaming in fury to its dark master, the spear takes on a dark glow as the creature twists the weapon in Anton’s body. The halfling slumps unconscious.
As the companions gain the room, the last serpentine creature, unseen to this point, drops a flaming piece of parchment and flees the room. Magus Mike blasts the paper with a ray of frost, extinguishing the flame. The concentrated efforts of Romica, Freight and Magus Mike quickly overcome the last remaining serpent person. Freight channels energy to revive his good friend Anton, also stabilizing the serpentine creature at the same time.
Surveying the room, it appears to be a makeshift barracks – the serpentfolk have likely lived here for a period of time. The companions are able to save several still smoking pieces of parchment from the flame. The pages make mention of the black blood of the goat and Thrall Thangar, the Hidden Temple. Further, Erick of The Honey Pot is identified as an importer and Marcus at Gregor’s Alchemy as a chemist. The group also finds 30 ancient doubloons minted with the head of a serpent person.
The adjoining room features a statue of a mighty man clothed in the robes of a monk, a large open tome is held in the palm of one hand. An exit is located on the opposite side. The key with an open tome motif is inserted in the statue and turned. Energy pulses through the room, flashes of light coruscating around the statue. A small compartment opens to reveal the next package – the companions grab it and exit the collapsing room. Romica throws the unconscious form of a serpent person over his shoulder as the companions ascend the stairs to the surface. The exit leads into the back of an alley.
As the companions discuss their next move, a crossbow bolt whistles by the ear of Anton. The halfling, barley conscious and fearing for his life, runs headlong down the alley. The remainder of the group charges toward the source of the shot. Several foes can be seen in the distance dressed in dark leather armor. They wield spears and bucklers that are adorned with the emblem of yellow flags.
Romica chops the first combatant clear in half, a mighty blow at pace. Freight and Magus Mike manage to take down a second assassin. A third, of wizardly talents, is mesmerized by the colored spray of Lando. Soldiers appear at the other end of the alley, blocking Anton’s exit. He quickly turns heel and rejoins the companions efforts.
With crossbow bolts raining down from above, Lando casts an obscuring mist before being skewered by a bolt. Anton drags the hapless gnome and Romica lifts the unconscious form of the wizard to his shoulder, picking up a fallen package in turn – the companions use the cloud to cover their exit as they bolt into a crowd in an adjacent plaza. The halfling warns the crowd of a fire, the growing mist rolling out of the alley playing on their fears. The whistles of the Watch can soon be heard as the group climbs into a waiting cab. Freight revives the unconscious gnome and enemy wizard, expending his last healing powers. The companions watch the growing crowd of milling yellow shield soldiers grow smaller in the distance as they travel to the Docks District.
With some time on their hands, the companions open the parcel that the wizard had dropped. Inside is an ornate dagger, not magical, with the characters L and SWC engraved in the ivory handle. A parchment contains a hand written note in common providing the address of a bar and time, presumably where the mercenary group was to receive payment. Further, the companions open the package found under the Temple of Knowledge. Inside is a new key topped with the crest of two alchemical jars, as well as a note that reads:
The craft of mixing compounds is the lifeblood of the alchemist. I sought invention, while others followed set formulas to provide simple wares to dispense. Ever creative, I managed to subvert the honest apothecary under his own cauldron. My inspiration was creation. Gregor’s motto? “Must sell at tallest sum.”
The group takes the bound wizard onto the Bloody Vengeance for interrogation. Understanding the precariousness of his situation, the wizard quickly agrees to spill everything. During the conversation, the wizard, Rhetodo, advises:
- he is a sell-sword, the yellow shields a mercenary clan from a desert kingdom on another continent.
- they have never worked in Freeport before, but several lucrative contracts were accepted that included not only the lives of the companions, but also of Martin Hawks and Garvey Holland.
- the contracts were initiated by Milos. He is unsure of Milos’ interests. There was a great degree of discretion involved in the contracts, considering they were hired and brought in from a separate continent.
- the size of the contracts were sufficient to cover their travel and a great amount of manpower.
- the address in the note is that of the Storm Raven Tavern, where they were to receive payment for completion of the contracts.
- the intermediary is a bit of a dunce and not a “pro”. The only reason that Rhetodo knows of the sponsor for the contracts is that the intermediary let it slip in conversation.
- the wizard has never heard of Carson.
- Garvey is still alive – the yellow shields were successfully rebuffed by the Wizard’s Guild during their first attempt on his life
- the ornamental dagger was provided as down payment – he is unsure what the initials stand for.
- the yellow shields are open to new contracts, but are likely to leave town soon.
If his life is spared, Rhetodo swears on his honor that he will call off the contracts. The companions agree and a binding contract is created by Lando and signed by both parties. Rhetodo provides the companions with his uniform and spellbook in good faith. A messenger raven is supplied in case he needs to get in touch with the group. The wizard is released from their care and exits the ship.