The Freeport Chronicles

The Best Laid Plans
A bounty fulfilled, a debt repaid

Summary

  • Anton disguises himself as Felius Phelps for a performance at the Muggy Underpants
  • Rooster takes the bait and attacks Anton, who fakes Phelps’ death onstage
  • the gunslinger manages to escape, again
  • the bounty fulfilled, the companions are released from their debt with Hollister
  • the opening ceremonies of Swag Fest, hosted by Lord Brack, are attended
  • Rooster attempts to kill Brack, the companions intervene
  • Freeport loses one fine southern gentleman

Details

The companions awake giddy with anticipation for another encounter with Rooster. The morning is spent running various errands. A building energy can be felt across the city as residents prepare for Swag Fest.

After dinner, the companions travel to the Muggy Underpants. Anton dons his disguise in the cab, using his magical mask to take on a similar countenance as Phelps. Arriving at the tavern, the companions are happy to see that Maggie has come through on her end – various posters advertise Phelps’ surprise performance this night. Anton circles around to the performers entrance while the other companions go in through the front.

Anton takes the stage with an armful of instruments, a hush falls across the tavern. The companions actively search the crowd, but Pumpernick is nowhere to be seen. Anton begins the evening with a soulful tune on the kazoo. The crowd appears displeased, they have come to hear the jazz flute.

Lando spots a dapper looking Rooster on the opposite side of the premises. To his chagrin, he notes that several of the orc crew have arrived with him. Lando points out the group to his companions and casts invisibility on Romica.

Wanting to get the crowd into the show, Anton picks up the flute and plays a lively ditty. Spotting the companions opposite, Rooster and his crew make their move. The gunslinger fires wildly at the stage as Anton rolls behind the curtains. Unphased, Rooster loads a hooked net into his blunderbuss as the orcs charge after Anton.

Playing his part in trying to publicly frame Rooster, Anton slashes his chest behind the curtain, a self-inflicted flesh wound that provides plenty of blood. Stumbling out from back stage, Anton drops to his knees and proclaims, “Rooster Pumpernick, you have slain me. In front of all these people, Rooster Pumpernick, I curse you with my dying breath.” The gunslinger fires his blunderbuss, ensnaring Anton as he keels over. Rooster commands the orcs to scoop up the body as he heads for the exit.

The crowd erupts into hysteria as the famed bard gasps his dying breaths. The companions, excluding Lando who has crawled under a table, and the orcs arrive at the stage at the same time. Freight pulls rank, using his sailor’s cunning to whip the orcs back into shape. They advise that Rooster offered to split the bounty and return the Bloody Vengeance to their control. Freight abrades them for their short-sightedness. Romica hoists the limp body of Anton over a shoulder and the companions, orcs in tow, sprint out the back door as the brouhaha picks up intensity.

The companions load into a cab and head directly to the Fortress of Justice. Anton cleans himself up to a presentable state on the ride. Arriving at the Fortress, Hollister is unavailable but the companions manage to gain audience with Nicola Cage. She advises that her sources have confirmed Crick’s death. The contract fulfilled, the companions are released from their debt. As the group leaves, Nicola passes a note to Romica. It reads:

You have completed the task at hand. Thank you for a job well done, you have chosen your companions wisely. We have complicated pasts you and I – please understand that I will continue to hold evidence of your prior exploits, as I know you do the same. Let’s move on with our lives. Go freely with my blessing.

Their business done, the companions travel to the Sword of the Edict headquarters. The compound is abuzz in anticipation of the opening ceremonies for Swag Fest. The companions chat with Carson, who passes along a letter from Maggie. The companions have been duped – there is no payment. Maggie feels bad for misleading the group, but she and Crick required the money to ensure their escape.

Disappointed, the companions head towards the docks to take in the Swag Fest ceremony, On the way, they bump into their good friend Ansor, who is running a roulette table on one of the piers. With some time to spare, the companions sit down for a few rounds. As always, Ansor has some juicy rumors to share:

  • Lord Brack, who is hosting the opening ceremonies of the Swag Fest festivities, is vying for a seat on the Pirate’s Council.
  • there are a number of stone work and quarry contracts which are up for grabs now that Milos is dead. Rumours abound that the head librarian was in league with devils. The side business whereby he provided consultation services to the Sealord has ceased. Undoubtedly, there will be unrest between the trade unions and other business magnets as the vacuum of his death is filled.
  • famed rivals Sproket Skyhigh, the gnomish pyromancer, and the Blackpowder Clan’s lead Goblin fireworks engineer, Glurp Gasdrake, have put aside their long-standing feud to join forces for the Swagfest Finale feast. Ansor has front row tickets, which include a meet and greet with the famed lunatics.
  • many of the Town Watch Reservists and off duty guards have been called on to add to the ranks of order this Swagfest. Many a reveler will wake up in the Fortress of Justice with a lump on their heads and count themselves lucky to be waking up at all. Further gossip abounds regarding the reservists and watch being boarded in the War Mercenary barracks – not a good place for a pick pocket to be hanging about this weekend, but maybe a fine area for those providing service to the servicemen.
  • there’s been somewhat of a flood of Dwarven artifacts, mostly weapons and armor, which have been finding their way to market through unknown means. Few of the items are worth more than their martial value, but some are quite powerful in this regard. One of my regular customers was trying to sell me such a weapon earlier tonight with the hopes of getting back to the tables, but alas, I have no use for fighting or its associated accessories.
  • Commissioner Hollister has declared that the Dock-Side Splitter has been captured. It was revealed that he was a disgruntled druid from the reclamation project looking to sow unrest for the Sealord’s lighthouse project. The assassins sister has been handed over to the Sword of the Edict, as it is said she is also possessed by a terrible deamon.

Bidding adieu, the companions make their way to the waterfront, where Lord Brack is preparing to speak to a large crowd to officially kick off the festivities. The group angles close to the front as Brack takes the stage to a large cheer. “Welcome to Swag Fest! Like the days of Drac and Francisco, we are here to celebrate three days of revelry in recognition of the three months of terrorizing our enemies in the great raids of yonder years. Drac is, unfortunately, busy building his namesake lighthouse. But I happy to be here with you to plunder and pillage.” The plaza erupts in gleeful cheering.

As the speech continues, Freight takes note of a certain southern gentleman slipping through the crowd. He appears to be making his way to the front. Pointing at the gunslinger, the companions climb onto the stage to get a better vantage point. Rooster draws two daggers from their sheaths as he nears the platform.

Freight and Romica break into a headlong charge as they bull rush Brack away from the podium, just before Rooster can get there. They position themselves in between the gunslinger and his victim. Rooster attempts to negotiate, offering to split the bounty for turning a blind eye. The offer is declined. Rooster shakes his head as he uses a phasing ability to teleport closer to Brack.

The companions close the distance and engage him in hand-to-hand combat. A desperate melee ensues. Rooster refuses to give up the fight. Romica buries his axe in the gunslinger’s chest as Freight skewers him with his pike. Rooster falls lifeless to the ground.

Lord Brack is suitably impressed, “Thank you for saving an old salt – if you stay by me, I’ll make sure we have a fine day yet.” The town guard quickly remove the body as Brack signals to his crew to tap the kegs, officially commencing the festival.

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Open Mic at The Rusty Hook
Felius Phelps plays a mean jazz flute

Summary

  • the companions learn that Rooster is trying to cut them out of Crick’s bounty
  • Rooster will attend the performance of Crick’s alter ego Feilus Phelps at The Rusty Hook
  • Rooster is unsuccessful in his attempt on Crick at the tavern
  • the gunslinger escapes in the ensuing mayhem
  • the companions are visited by Maggie, Hollister’s wife and girlfriend of Crick
  • they agree to help her and Crick leave town

Details

The companions sleep in and spend the majority of the morning catching up on errands. They return to the tavern for an early afternoon meal and are summoned by the barkeep – seems several of the orc crew from the Bloody Vengeance wish to speak with them. At a secluded table in the back of the bar, the orcs recount their gladiatorial glory. During the exchange, the companions learn that Rooster, the very gunslinger that they employed to take care of Crick McGillicuddy, has contracted the orc crew to do the dirty work for him. And further, he has cut the companions out of the bounty.

Although altruistic in nature, Rooster requires the money to buy reagents for a powerful spell to counteract the possession of his sister, the companions are unhappy with the turn of events. The orcs are sent back to the ship while the companions decide the best course of action is to pay their good friend Rooster a visit. The orcs were to meet him this very night at The Rusty Hook where Filius Phelps, an alter ego of Crick, is performing.

The companions hail a cab and travel to the Docks District. From the outside, the tavern looks like a dive that caters to sailors and other dock rats. This assumption is quickly confirmed once inside – nets and other sailing equipment decorate the walls and rafters, a ship’s ladder leads to a loft with rooms above. The bar is crowded with various pirate types and other rough looking folk. On stage, a man in garish attire plays a mean flute.

Surveying the crowd, the companions note that most patrons appear to be enamored with the music. Thinking something strange with this, Lando decides to investigate. He conceals his hands under the table and casts detect magic – an aura emanates from the stage. Before he can relay this information to his companions, a man sitting close to the stage rises from his seat and fires a double barrel at the performer. The musician rolls away from the attack, quaffs a potion and disappears.

Identifying the shooter as Rooster, the companions attempt to apprehend the gunslinger. This proves difficult as the barroom erupts into a full fledged brawl. Mugs of beer are spilled, chairs are thrown and tables overturned. Lando casts web in the middle of the tavern, entangling most of the patrons. Order is restored temporarily, but not before Rooster is able to make his escape. With the whistles of the guard heard in the distance, the companions also take the opportunity to exit the building.

No further ahead, the companions work the crowd outside for information regarding Phelps. They learn that he is a local performer that is gaining a cult following for his aggressive style of jazz flute. The owner mentions that his girlfriend, Maggie, attends the shows from time to time. Although not much of a lead, it is late and the companions decide to call it a night.

Returning to The Bard & the Bastard, the barkeep nods at a distraught looking woman that was looking for them. The lady introduces herself as Maggie and asks if she can speak with the crew in confidence. She tells a sad tale about her life with Hollister and his controlling ways. He keeps several lovers on the side but was furious when he found out about her relationship with Crick. She just wants to be happy and is willing to pay double for the companions to get Rooster off their case and let her and Crick leave town together.

Her story tugging at their heart strings, the companions agree to help them make their escape. Maggie provides an emerald encased amulet as down-payment, the rest of the money will be forwarded to Carson at the Sword of the Edict. A plan is hatched – Crick will send out word that Phelps is playing at the Muggy Underpants tomorrow night in hopes that Rooster will find out. Anton will disguise himself as Phelps for the show. Should Rooster rise to the bait and shoot at Phelps again, the other companions will apprehend him. Phelps will “die” during the incident, allowing Crick and Maggie to make a clean escape.

Everything in order for the night, the companions retire to their rooms.

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Battle Royale
What happens in the octagon, stays in the octagon

Summary

  • the orcs enter the second section of the gauntlet
  • bolas equipped with bells are thrown at the companions
  • blinded land sharks (bulettes) are released into the pit
  • via magical means, the bulettes are led into the nobles box-seats
  • the portcullis to the central octagon is raised
  • the other combatants are unable to cooperate to open their portcullis
  • a gelatinous death trap is bested to gain access to the hammer
  • Herder coup de graces Derp to achieve champion status

Details

The memory of their fallen companion Ferp still fresh, the orcs do a double take as a near clone jogs up from behind. The new orc introduces himself as Derp, the barbarian brother of Ferp. Interested in revenge, he leads the charge forward.

The next section of the gauntlet is a long hallway of fine coral sand. The corridor is broken up by several large barriers that appear to funnel combatants towards a gate that presumably leads to the central gladiatorial pit. The sounds of large creatures can be heard from an enclosure on the left. A platform of box seats to the right houses nobles.

The orcs cautiously enter the corridor. The crowd begins to chant – buel leh, buel leh – as the portcullis leading to the enclosure on the left begins to rise. Several nobles in the crowd raise bolas, the cords specially equipped with bells. The bolas prove difficult to dodge, with Herder, Gargle Rat and Strangles entangled by the thrown weapons. Strangles manages to escape from the cord and hurls it back at its owner. The crowd goes wild as he successfully wraps the bola around a noble.

Rooster, who has run ahead, notes something odd in the sand and bends down to investigate. He warns the orcs to tread lightly as there are other noise-makers hidden under the sand.

The portcullis rising, the orcs sprint across the sand. A curtain drops across their path, the rope filled with all sorts of bells and other noise-making devices. The orcs valiantly attempt to avoid the bell strewn cord, but alas, are unsuccessful. Clappers and bells sound as the portcullis opens.

Two large beasts burst into the corridor from the enclosure. The creatures appear to be land-based sharks, their eyes are covered by metal bands that are tacked to their skulls. The noise-making devices begin to make sense – unable to see, the bulettes rely on the bells and clappers to locate their victims. The powerful charge of the beasts takes them clear through the barriers, sending the hapless orcs sprawling.

Deciding that brawn is not the way to defeat such creatures, Magus Mork targets the platform of nobles with a spell. The sound of many bells and clappers can be heard emanating from the noble’s box-seats. The orcs stand silent and hold their breaths. The bulette’s heads jerk around to the platform and they charge towards the wall. The crowd erupts in panic as nobles and citizens alike clamor over each other to rush for the exits. The bulettes have little trouble scrambling up the wall to devour the slower of the nobles. The announcer begs the crowd to stay calm as help is on the way. Whistles can be heard in the distance.

Focusing on the portcullis that leads to the central pit, it is apparent that the mechanism to raise the gate resides on the opposite side of the wall. There are tubes to either side of the gate, each with a large grappling hook. The orcs pull out the hooks and remove a length of rope. Hauling on the ropes raises the portcullis enough to allow the orcs to slide underneath.

The central ring is shaped like an octagon, the sand a volcanic sheen as if scorched by a great heat. The large pit is barred from the crowd, a fine mesh sitting over top to prevent raucous citizens from throwing items into the ring. The air takes on a decidedly humid state. A raised dais dominates the centre of the ring, a large hammer sits peacefully atop the stone platform.

Movement from the other side of the pit draws the orcs attention. Combatants appear behind a similar style gate and portcullis on the opposite side of the ring. Instead of cooperating, however, they are engaged in full scale melee. A large frost giant attempts to open the portcullis. Magus Mork hits him with a ray of enfeeblement. Unable to lift the gate, the giant is cut down from behind. The remaining combatants continue their quarrel until only one is left standing. The warrior attempts to lift the portcullis but, similar to the frost giant, is unable to muster the strength necessary. Dejected, the warrior solutes the orcs and walks back to the mustering area. The crowd voices its displeasure at the disappointing turn of events.

The other combatants no longer a threat, the orcs investigate the platform. Derp is the first to the dais, and as Gargle Rat attempts to warn him, he climbs onto the stone formation. A large ax falls from the ceiling in a pendulum motion and impales the unsuspecting orc in the chest. The trap begins to morph into a gelatinous entity. The magus recalls the story of a deadly creature that could fashion itself into a living trap. In the story, the ooze is vulnerable to fire, and the magus relays the information to the other orcs. Taking advantage of the weakness, Rooster mixes an exploding concoction, Gargle Rat tosses a flaming flask, and Herder casts burning hands. The creature quickly succumbs in an explosion of gelatinous matter.

All preconceptions of cooperation quickly vanish as the orcs individually make a play for the hammer. Derp is first to the platform. He grabs the weapon and makes a run for the exit. Herder clotheslines the barbarian and finishes him off coup de grace style while he is dazed on the ground. This brings the spectators back to their feet. The other orcs bow to the vicious display. With his name chanted across the stadium, Herder raises the hammer victorious to the crowd.

Arena officials escort the orcs from the stadium. The orcs are given their entry pay as well as Herder’s winnings as champion. Battered and bloodied, the orcs travel back to the Vengeance feeling satisfied with their showing.

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Running the Gauntlet
Welcome to the jungle

Summary

  • several members of the Bloody Vengeance’s crew is entered into the gladiatorial competitions at the Arena
  • the orcs encounter Rooster in the pit, his presence is tolerated
  • the crew must run the gauntlet to fight in the central pit
  • with Rooster’s help, traps are navigated and other combatants defeated
  • Ferp drowns in a pool of oily liquid
  • a gelatinous cube yields a corpse with a key that opens the way to the central pit

Details

The opportunity to leave the ship and kill things, legally, is too much for the orc crew to pass up. Games are played, competitions had, and the worst of the worst of the crew are selected to represent the Bloody Vengeance at the arena.

The noon day sun blazing, the orcs register to fight at the Arena and are escorted into a lower hold where officials prepare them for the competition. There are several ways to “win”; the combatants must run the gauntlet to a center ring which will be contested from several directions. Individual performance will be ranked by officials and used to qualify for the next round of fighting. Otherwise, a combatant can win by taking hold, uncontested, of a hammer placed on a raised dais in the central gladiatorial pit. The orcs are then led topside – a near sold-out crowd screams, drowning out all sound with the exception of a ring master who can be heard from time-to-time, his voice magically amplified. The crowd is a mishmash of society, with the general population seated between raised platforms and box seats where nobles reside in opulence.

A gunslinger with a southern drawl addresses the orcs, placing them from the Bloody Vengeance. He introduces himself as Rooster Pumpernick. Seems he had contracted their former captain, Scarbelly, to procure a staff. The orcs are unsure of the gunslinger. Seeing their confusion, the gunslinger advises that he can help the crew run the gauntlet if they assist him in finding the staff. Before they can respond, the portcullis is raised and the crowd cheers.

The combatants stream out of the pit to enter the gauntlet. The gunslinger stands in front of the orcs, “Hold it, hold it. Patience will help you survive. Let the eager ones locate the traps for you.” Several of their fellow combatants take arrows from the crowd. Another is taken down by a cleverly hidden trap. “While I have your attention, I would like to tell you about a bounty I am chasing, a swindling thief named Crick McGillicuddy. I am open to sharing the bounty if you would hear more…

Patience running thin, the orcs stream out of the pit. Not wanting the nobles to have all the fun, they decide to focus on the other combatants as they navigate the gauntlet. Herder and Ferp are the first to strike and manage to take down several thugs. Strangles grapples another, Herder beheads the struggling warrior as he passes. The crowd begins to chant the cleric’s name.

The initial corridor free and clear, the companions round the corner and fall prey to a pit trap. Strangles manages to catch himself on a ledge but Herder falls to the spikes below. Magus Mork drops a rope to assist the cleric from the pit and the orcs gain the opposite side. Herder decides to hang out by the edge of the pit in hopes of using his pike to catch other combatants unawares as they attempt to jump across.

Rounding a second corner reveals several items of note. The corridor opens up, with the inner wall featuring a large waterway, the liquid giving off a viscous appearance. A swarm of insects sits atop the stagnant liquid. There are two statues on the opposite side, both look to be representations of former gladiatorial participants. The statues are decorated with studded gems glinting in the noon day sun. Lastly, a gelatinous cube is present, threatening all that wish to continue further.

Rooster rounds the wall and unloads both of his pistols into the gelatinous cube. Magus Mork steps close and unleashes a shocking grasp. The cube doesn’t flinch and begins to move ominously towards the gunslinger. Ferp and Strangles, wanting nothing to do with the gelatinous creature, and race around it to investigate the statues. The warrior, Ferp, is there first and pokes one with his axe. Nothing happens. Strangles attempts to follow – the other statue shoots out suddenly and attempts to hook the orc. Strangles manages to acrobatically elude the statue, which returns to its original position. It is noted that the statues move along concealed tracks in the sand that lead directly into the foul smelling liquid pool.

At this time, more combatants are released into the gauntlet. A burly warrior and gnome sprint for the pit, while a celestial creature unfurls its wings and flies over the wall. The gnome reaches the pit first and pulls up short, understanding that Herder is there to stymie those that try to cross the pit. The gnome attempts to pull out a bow and shoot the cleric, but Herder anticipates and steps forward with his pike, skewering the hapless gnome. Performing for the crowd, the cleric levers the gnome over the pit to fall awkwardly on the spikes below. Cheers erupt from the stands.

The bearish warrior has little time to alter its movement as it jumps mightily across the pit and it takes the cleric’s back-swing full in the chest. The girth of the bear allows it to complete its jump, and the bear engages Herder in a deadly grapple upon landing. Hearing the screams of his companions, Strangles doubles back to assist in the melee. Seeing the cleric being slowly choked into unconsciousness, Strangles grapples with the bear who is constricting the cleric. The grappling duel is a war of attrition. Strangles holds his death grip on the bear until the large warrior succumbs. Herder is able to escape the unconscious bear’s grip, returning air to his burning lungs.

The celestial creature arrives in the middle of the corridor and attacks Rooster from behind. The gunslinger and Magus Mork abandon their efforts with the cube to focus on the winged angel. Rooster unleashes a double salvo and Mork chops with his sword. Gargle Rat joins the fray as well. Their concentrated efforts quickly overcome the martial prowess of the angel.

While this occurs, Ferp attacks the second statue, venting his frustration. His footwork crosses the hidden track and the statue engages, hooking the hapless orc and depositing him into the viscous liquid. A quick taste reveals that it is not water, but a pool of oil. Ferp, heavily armored, sinks to the bottom. Movement from the corner, he is not alone. A hideous humanoid creature with a horse-like face and transparent skin circles the orc. The creature speaks in Ferp’s mind, magically pleading with him to stay awhile as it is lonely down. Ferp empathizes with the creature and decides that it would be nice to stay. He opens his mouth and willingly allows the oily substance into his lungs.

Topside, the insect swarm has been irritated by the orc’s entry into the pool. Magus Mork identifies the pool as oil and sends a shocking grasp through the liquid. The spell sparks the oil, which erupts into flames, the swarm instantly disintegrates in the fire. Rooster steps close to the flames, “Oh my. Your companion seems to be in a pickle. Well do I have a proposition for you. You see, I have a dear loved one, my sister, who is possessed by a demonic presence, a black goat to be exact. I seem to be a little short on the money necessary to procure the reagents to cure her of this affliction. If you would agree to team up with me – to win this arena competition, complete the bounty I discussed earlier, or help me obtain that staff – I have the ability to extinguish the flames forthwith and rescue him. Agreed?” The orcs continue on with their business.

The shock from Mork’s spell jolts Ferp from his magical stupor and knocks the keltie unconscious. Near death, Ferp swims with all might. The glow from the flames is beautiful from under the oil, beckoning the orc forward. The heat intensifying, Ferp makes one last push. And runs out of air just before he breaches the surface. Armour sizzling from the heat, Ferp slowly floats to the bottom to spend eternity with his good friend the keltie.

Returning their attention to the gelatinous cube, Rooster loads several special bullets from his bandolier and fires them into the cube. He turns away as the bullets produce an explosion that rips apart the cube, gelatinous matter splattering across the arenas’ sand. The gunslinger blows at the smoking tips of his guns, to the crowd’s delight, before holstering the weapons.

After the smoke clears, the orcs comb through the gelatinous remains to find two weapons of note, a dagger that glows blue in orcish hands and a nasty sickle, as well as a half digested body. Searching the decomposed body reveals a key that shimmers with a strange energy.

Continuing down the corridor, Gargle Rat stops the orcs short of a magical barrier that only he can see. The wall radiates a shimmering energy and extends across the corridor, cutting off access. Gargle Rat picks up a pebble from the ground and throws it at the wall. The pebble simply freezes in mid-air and falls to the ground. He continues to investigate the wall and locates a concealed keyhole. The key from the decomposed corpse fits perfectly and the barrier ceases to exist. The orcs continue on, readying themselves for whatever the Arena will throw at them next.

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Bad Moon Rising
There's something brewing at Gregor's

Summary

  • Magus Mike is possessed and attacks Freight in his sleep
  • he is subdued, Carson’s healing touch is required
  • Gregor’s Brewery is visited, business dealings with Marcus are completed
  • the mighty man in the basement is activated, a new key is found
  • Eagel contacts the group, he is worried that Carson has been kidnapped again
  • Carson is honoured in ceremony to welcome him back to the Edict
  • Milos’ room at the Marquis Moon is investigated
  • a dispute between several orcs and a street urchin is broken up

Details

Possessed, Magus Mike awakes from his terrible dream with the urge to slaughter his companions in their sleep. He rises to his feet and stumbles over to the next bed, where Freight dozes in peaceful slumber. The magus stabs down into her chest, eliciting a terrible scream. The companions awake instantly in confusion. Anton is the first to intervene. As he attempts to engage the magus, Mike manages a second attack on the wounded cleric. Freight’s screams are cut short as she fades into unconsciousness.

Anton disarms the magus with a practiced flip of his kukri. Little deterred, Mike unleashes a shocking grasp on the halfling. Lando joins the fray, stunning the magus with a colorful spray of dust as Romica knocks the hapless elf to the floor with a powerful charge. Anton attends to the nearly dead cleric while Lando runs to the owner’s suite in hopes that his medical cabinet is well stocked. Romica ties up the dazed magus.

Lando returns with bandages and medical supplies. Anton and Romica manage to stabilize the cleric in the interim, and they treat the wound. Lando calls for Carson via the magical communication device in their room and he agrees to join them as soon as he can.

Magus Mike wakes from his magically induced slumber and, memories resurfacing, apologizes profusely for his actions. He describes the dream and possession and the companions take note for future reference. Carson arrives a short time later and heals the injured cleric. The companions thank him for his services and pay for his cab home. The magus suggests that he be tied down for the remainder of the night, and the companions concur. The group beds down again in anticipation of a busy day ahead.

The companions awake early to pay a visit to Gregor’s Brewery. Arriving a couple of hours before opening, a furtive Marcus ushers the group into the building. He glances up and down the street before quickly closing the door. It is not hard to tell that Marcus is on edge. He advises that he would like to conclude all business dealings – he has procured all of the black goat’s blood and completed the shipments as required. He confirms that the product, in solid incense form, was picked up by several people wearing robes similar to those worn by the cultists. He asks that the companions knock him out and tie him up in hopes that his employers take this as a sign that he was an innocent victim in these proceedings.

The companions think this is a good idea as they require some time to search the premises for a secret door leading to the basement. Romica gladly knocks Marcus senseless and he is bound. The companions search the area carefully and locate a hidden keyhole in one of the cauldrons. This key is fitted and a trapdoor opened. It leads into the basement and a small room of blue-gray granite. A large statue of a mighty man dominates the center of the room. The companions use their key to engage the statue – a magical energy suffuses the room, runes alighting along the floor. The statue begins to pull itself forward. A section of the wall opens to reveal a key with an open scroll motif and a note. The companions take the items and return topside.

Marcus remains unconscious. The companions decide it best to ransack the place to add credibility to Marcus’ story. Several scrolls, including an old weathered velum in dwarven script, and a cache of gold is found.

The companions leave the brewery and return to The Bard & The Bastard to investigate the items found more closely. Upon entering the tavern, they are given a note by the barkeep. It is from Captain Kel and advises that a meeting has been set up with the harbor master at 10 pm. With much work to do before the appointed time, the group returns to their room to read the note attached to the most recent key found. It provides several clues relating to the Hall of Records:

Some men write a single legacy or ledger,
and some men interpret nine memos.
Old records reveal a final pair of receptors;
one placed under ancient records in the dwarven temple,
the last buried in the text itself.

The companions also review the other scrolls found in the brewery’s laboratory. The one written in dwarven script details the ancient practice of wafting incense before battle. This pursuit was outlawed as it was found to corrupt those that took part in the ritual. While it instigated a berserker state useful for battle, it had addictive qualities that led to decreased mental acuity over time. A second scroll represents a ledger outlining Marcus’ business dealings. It notes he had produced nine batches of the black goat incense, the most recent of which was picked up this morning.

The group heads downstairs to grab a bite. Eagel is in the common room and is happy to see everyone. He is looking for Carson, seems he left in the middle of the night and has not returned. There will be a ceremony held in his honor today to welcome him back to the Edict and Eagel is worried that he may miss it. Becoming more frantic by the minute, Eagel mentions that he thinks Carson may have been kidnapped again.

Not wanting to make a scene, the companions escort Eagel to the war-room to discuss further. Eagel has had a lot on his mind and opens up. He has lived his entire life in Freeport. Recently, he has been noticing that things have changed on the periphery, shadows have formed where no shadows had been before. This feeling has been building over time and is reaching a crescendo. He doesn’t feel like he can trust anyone anymore. He hears footsteps in the night but there is no one there when he investigates. The previous night, he had felt the presence of someone in his house. He had a vision of a serpent person riffling through his belongings. But when he awoke, everything was fine, nothing was out of place. Except that Carson was gone. He has been living with Eagel since his return, it seems strange that he would just get up and leave in the middle of the night. Eagel is worried for his friend.

The companions sympathize with Eagel and advise that they will look for Carson immediately. This calms the page, who decides to spill more. The Edict has opened an official investigation into Milos and his conduct. His personal records have been confiscated. Eagel had access to some of his files and found out that Milos was living a double life. His alter ego, Felius Phelps, had set up a base of operations in a bar on the other side of town. Eagel provides the address of a tavern called Marquis Moon and wishes the group luck in their search for Carson.

Thinking Eagel’s conduct out of character, the companions decide to trail the page back to the Sword of the Edict’s headquarters. Once inside, Eagel is quickly lost in the labyrinth of the interior. Chanting can be heard in the distance. The companions follow the sound and enter a large courtroom. There are many people in full regalia taking part in a ceremony, it seems as if the entire Edict is present. Thuron leads the festivities, and Carson is next to him on the platform seated between other officials. Eagel is no where to be seen.

Not wanting to disrupt the ceremony, Lando messages Carson by magical means to ask whether he has seen Eagel. Carson has not and cuts the conversation short as he is about to be honored. The companions don their Edict cloaks and take in the festivities. Everything goes as planned and Carson is welcomed back to the order. After the ceremony, the group congratulates Carson and advise him that they are concerned about Eagel. Carson will keep an eye out for him.

The companions take a cab to the old city to check out the Marquis Moon, the tavern that Eagel had mentioned. The barkeep is bribed and key to Milos’ room procured. The quarters are small but immaculately kept. The room contains many bookcases filled with books and scrolls. There is little furniture besides a writing stand. Trace magic can be sensed, but nothing magical is found in the quarters. Investigating the bookcases, the scholarly tomes are primarily focused on architecture, masonry and construction.

As they search the room, Romica hears a commotion outside and decides to investigate. He and Anton go to the window and see a group of orcs crowded around a street urchin. The poor lad grips a satchel fiercely as he is shoved around by the orcs. Anton opens the window and shouts down to the orcs to leave him be. The orcs lazily glance up at the window and then return to pester the street urchin, attempting to take his satchel.

Anton and Romica launch themselves from the window into the midst of the orcs. Anton lands acrobatically and engages the orcs in a melee attack. Romica falls down hard on his ankle. Noticing that several of their colleagues have left, Magus Mike and Freight follow shortly thereafter out the window. Lando, engrossed in several books, doesn’t notice the commotion.

The companions quickly turn the tables on the orcs, who decide it best to retreat back to the Blood Salt. During the melee, however, Romica accidentally slashes Freight, knocking the cleric unconscious. While the companions tend to Freight, the youngster pickpockets the Magus and escapes into an alley. Lando attempts to induce a magical slumber on the youth but fails. The companions follow the urchin while Lando administers to the cleric, who has stabilized in the interim. The chase takes Anton, Romica and Magus Mike in the general direction of the abandoned house that leads to the cultists’ temple.

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Milos Revealed
Carson returns

Summary

  • the companions duke it out with Milos
  • they learn that he may not be top of the food chain
  • bested in combat, Milos is killed and transforms into serpentine features
  • Carson is found battered and bruised but alive
  • Eagel and Thuron are excited for his return, prestige is gained
  • the companions are rewarded with new helms
  • Magus is healed but not cured of his affliction
  • The Honey Pot was raided by the Watch and has been shut down, Brughan leaves town
  • Marcus at Gregor’s Brewery has requested a meeting

Details

Crossbows trained on the companions at the base of the platform, Milos’ smile is one of supreme confidence. “I am impressed at your persistence. Although this has proved your downfall in playing into this trap. I look forward to providing your lifeless bodies to Thuron, along with the blame for Carson’s death.

The companions charge the platform as the robed figures loose their crossbows. Milos begins an incantation. Gaining ground proves difficult under the suppressing fire, although the companions ultimately climb the stairs at great cost. Anton is first to the top. A magical caress from Milos renders him unconscious. Romica and Magus Mike gain the platform and engage the serpent folk in melee, providing Freight sufficient time to revive Anton. Fighting with renewed vigour, the companions strike down one of the crossbowmen. For their efforts, Magus Mike is knocked unconscious and Romica is afflicted with fear. The burly dwarf runs aimlessly, pursued by his worst nightmares.

Sensing victory at hand, Milos addresses the group again, “Poor Eagel, I wonder how he will take the news that you were behind Carson’s abduction all along? He’ll probably blame himself for his good friend’s death.” The taunt proves a rallying cry. Romica recovers from the magically induced affliction and rejoins the battle. Desperate melee ensues.

Milos appears somewhat distracted, “The yellow shields should have been here by now, but I cannot sense their presence.” He motions to his remaining companion, “Leave now and tell the master that we have been betrayed.” The companions strike the serpent person down as he attempts to flee the platform. This proves a turning point in the battle, as the companions are able to concentrate their efforts on Milos. He proves a worthy combatant, but ultimately falls to the martial prowess of the companions. “By the yellow sign we will rule the world.” Freight’s pike explodes through Milos’ back, ending the tirade. As the life blood of Milos stains the floor, a terrible transformation takes place. His skin and bones rearrange themselves, his human visage altering into serpentine qualities. The dead body of a serpent person, with the barest hint of Milos’ former features, stares back lifeless at the companions.

Battle vigor fading, the companions take note for the first time of a bloodied sack in the corner of the platform. The body of Carson, beaten and barely breathing, is unwrapped. Freight administers his healing touch while Anton revives an unconscious Magus Mike with a potion of cure light wounds. Carson is excited to see the companions and happy to tell his tale. Years ago, he was possessed by an extra-planar entity. It was curious about this world and used Carson to gather anthropological information. Milos wished to understand what creature had possessed him and what type of information was collected. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, Carson had little memory of the episode and was unable to answer Milos’ inquiries. They continued to torture him in hopes that it would induce his recollection of that period. Relating to the cult, he observed that everyone in the temple took orders from Milos. He is unsure of who the “master” would refer to. He scoffs at the idea that Thuron would be involved.

The companions search the bodies of the serpent folk and locate a magical ring with protective powers, a key ring for the Temple of Knowledge, a wand of dimensional door, a dagger with a serpent grip, crossbows, decorative rings and a pouch full of gold. A closer look at the altar confirms a rudimentary image, inlaid in gold, that appears to feature a tentacled creature. With that, the companions exit the temple with Carson, along with the body of Milos which they plan to show Thuron.

Returning to the Sword of the Edict compound, Eagel is over the moon to see Carson alive. He escorts the companions in to see Thuron, who happens to be in the temple that day preparing for Swag Fest, which begins on the morrow. Thuron embraces Carson and, noting the body, asks if it is the person responsible for Carson’s abduction. The companions remove the hood of the serpent person. Thuron is aghast, and seems genuinely confused when he recognizes Milos’ features. Obviously rattled, the companions are satisfied that Thuron was not a part of the secret cult.

Discussing their findings, the companions advise Thuron that they believe that serpent folk sleeper agents have been installed across the city. If Milos was an agent, there could be agents anywhere. Thuron takes this to heart and confirms that this insidious activity will not be tolerated – he will lean on his influence within the city, including his noble compatriots, to assist in weeding out these agents. Further, he will put in a good word regarding the companions, as they have stirred up quite a reputation among many of his colleagues in the aristocracy. Lastly, Thuron provides a word of advice relating to Brack and Hollister – Brack is a selfish man that only looks out for his own interests and Hollister is a bad man paid to do bad things. In treating with them, understanding their intentions is paramount to ensuring a successful outcome. The advice is accepted graciously.

Given the considerable duress experienced during their exploration of the temple, the companions discuss the opportunity to receive restorative treatment from Thuron. He agrees to provide the benefits of his healing touch; however, he notes that Magus Mike is afflicted by an evil spirit that is beyond his capacity to exorcise. Further, the reagents necessary to restore the companions are rare. An agreement is struck whereby the companions pay for the cost of the reagents and receive the restorative powers of the head of the Edict. Mental prowess regained, the companions feel rejuvenated.

In recognition of the companions’ integral role in the return of Carson, Thuron invites Romica, as a representative of the group, to visit the Hall of Helms. The dwarf enters the massive room – there are various pillars arrayed around the hall holding finely crafted helms. A benevolent voice instructs Romica to step forward to be judged – a faint tingle and several pillars descend to reveal: what looks to be a cat’s skull (stalker’s mask), a crudely constructed stone mask (mask of stony demeanor), and a gentlemen’s mask (hap of human guise).

Romica rejoins the group and distributes the helms. The companions thank Thuron for his good will. In parting, Lando mentions that the companions would be happy to work with Thuron in future endeavors should he have need of an independent party. Thuron is appreciative of the gesture and provides some spending money to send the companions on their way.

The sun resting low in the horizon, the companions head back to The Bard & The Bastard via cab. On the way, they witness a goblin and gnome, both with a bomb insignia on their clothing, partaking in an argument on the side of the street relating to an unstoppable force and an immovable object. Philosophical interests piqued, the companions side with the goblin – an immovable object is immovable, period. The two hug it out and are on their way, an amicable outcome for all.

Several notes await the companions upon their arrival at the tavern. The first bears disturbing news from Brughan. The Watch has visited The Honey Pot in relation to an incident at Gregor’s Brewery. Unwilling to identify the companions, the Watch ransacked the premises and Kendrick was killed during the altercation. The Honey Pot has been shut down, and needless to say, Brughan is distraught. He needs to move on and will be leaving town shortly.

A note was also passed along by Marcus Wade. He would like to make things right with the companions. He admits to an agreement with the previous owner of The Honey Pot and would like to tie up lose ends before he loses his job. He is open to meeting during the early morning, before his shift ends, although he advises caution as he does not want his employers to find out about this business endeavor.

Lastly, there is a note from Mark Hawks. The Watch has also been to The Treasure Trove. He was not arrested as there was no contraband on premise, but it was a close call. He is worried about being sent back to jail. No need to come by the shop, but he just wanted to update the group.

Their heads swimming with the news, the companions bed down, exhausted, after a long day. During the night, Magus Mike is tormented by nightmares. The magus has a vision of huge black tentacles bursting through the floor to entangle him. The visage of a demon in the form of a black goat rises from the ground to whisper unspeakable things in his ear. Possessed, the magus awakes from the dream with the urge to slaughter his companions as they sleep peacefully in their beds.

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Temple of the Unspeakable One
Klaatu barada nikto

Summary

  • the search for Carson continues at Gregor’s Brewery
  • feathers are ruffled, the Watch is called, the companions leave empty handed
  • the address provided by Enzo leads to a dilapidated building
  • a secret passage in the basement provides entrance to an underground temple
  • the companions summon an unspeakable evil
  • a treasure room is searched, booty is found
  • more secret passages lead to the heart of the temple
  • Milos addresses the companion’s upon their arrival

Details

With several options available to them, the companions decide it best to investigate Gregor’s Brewery next for clues relating to Carson’s disappearance. It is a short cab ride to the premise, located just inside the wall of the Old City. Entering the industrial building leads to an open reception area, massive kilns sit to either side of a large desk. Heat from the vats warms the room, providing a faintly aromatic smell that arrests the senses. Several laboratory work stations can be seen in the background.

An employee soon joins the group from the rear. He introduces himself as Derek, they are working on a large order that is required in a timely manner. Believing they are being asked, subtly, to leave, the companions advise that they are from The Honey Pot and would like to inspect the premise. Derek appears confused by the mention of The Honey Pot, he is not aware of any business with that group. He looks through a log book and, with a suspicious glance, asks again how he can assist the companions. Lando attempts to diffuse the situation diplomatically, advising that The Honey Pot is under new ownership, and perhaps that is why the orders are not recorded in the log book. The business is conducted through an employee by the name of Marcus. Derek calls to a second employee, Cayden, who joins the conversation. They confer and advise that they are unaware of any business with The Honey Pot. As Marcus is not here at present, and they are working on a large order that requires their attention, Derek suggests that companions come back tomorrow.

The companions are not pleased with the outcome of this situation, given that a life potentially hangs in the balance, and decide it best to push forward with their request to inspect the premise. Derek asks Cayden to take a look at Marcus’ workstation for any information relating to the order. Freight notes that Cayden, instead of heading to the workstations, leaves the premise through a door in the rear of the building. The group calls out Derek on his companion’s exit – he immediately becomes defensive and advises that he doesn’t want any trouble. The Watch will be here shortly and the group should leave.

Romica attempts to intimidate Derek, further escalating the situation. Understanding that time is of the essence, the companions leave Derek to his dithering and split up to investigate the cauldrons. There are two kilns with two cauldrons at each station. A chimney flanks each kiln, leading to the ceiling. Each member of the group inspects one cauldron. Nothing of note is found, and with whistles blaring in the distance, the companions swallow their pride and exit the building in an expedient manner. Before doing so, Romica picks up Derek by his scruff and promises hell to pay should he provide descriptions or any information that may lead back to The Honey Pot. The companions make a clean get away before the Watch arrives.

It’s a rare occurrence for the companions to call a visit to the brewery a fail. Spirits low, the group hops into a cab in hopes that the intersection that Enzo had mentioned will put them on Carson’s trail. The address leads to a derelict building in a shoddy neighbourhood in the older part of the Eastern District. The house appears uninhabited, the windows and doors boarded over. A quick investigation of the exterior allows the companions to detect foot traffic to and from the front door, as well as several tracks that lead to the a garbage bin around the side of the building. The bin houses food refuse from several days past. It appears that there has been activity here recently.

Interest piqued, the companions return to the front and use their chime of liberation to open the door. Stepping inside is like stepping into the past. The interior features furniture from a prior generation covered in linens. A layer of dust has settled across the room. Lando detects magic and senses a faint aura emanating from the other side of the building. Freight is able to identify tracks leading further inside. The companions follow the tracks to the kitchen and locate a trap door leading to the basement. The room is bare with the exception of 3 casks in the corner. The footprints lead to the casks and disappear.

Thinking it logical that the casks hide a secret door, the companions again use their chime of liberation. All three casks are tapped, two of them pouring out foul-smelling liquids assumed to be wine. Romica and Freight take matters into their own hands and tug mightily on the empty cask – it pulls free from the wall revealing a passage on the other side. Footsteps, faint in the distance, can be heard from outside followed by a flash of light. Lando detects magic and advises that he believes an incantation was completed just outside the wall. Nothing further is heard.

The companions forge ahead down the passageway. The tunnel appears to have been hastily dug, and is shored up with supports. It ends after about 40 feet with a ladder leading down. A short descent leads to another hallway, this one much different than the one above, with stone tiled floors and walls featuring craftsmanship by someone with an engineering background. A T-junction can be seen ahead, with doors leading east and west. The companions fall prey to a camouflaged pit trap as they travel towards the junction. Luckily, it inflicts more damage to pride than bodily harm.

At the junction, the companions decide it best to investigate the door to the west first. The large double-doors appear well used and swing open easily. The companions are greeted with a large octagonal chamber. The room is painted a deep black, with stars and constellations carefully arrayed on the ceiling. A large circular depression dominates the centre of the room. The far wall features a sturdy table with a gong, incense burners and a candelabra – all the equipment required to take part in a summoning ritual. The room radiates an evil aura offensive to the senses.

The companions enter the room and investigate the table. There are several books, one of which outlines the steps necessary to summon an unspeakable creature from the abyss. Unsated curiosity overtaking common sense, the companions follow the outlined steps in sequence – burning incense, lighting the appropriate candles, and striking the gong. The incense produces a euphoric feeling – the stars seem to twinkle a little brighter as a supremely evil and ancient presence enters the room. Black tentacles snake out from the depression to accost the companions, resulting in extreme mental anguish to all present via images of horror and unspeakable acts for an indeterminate period of time. After what feels like an eternity, the tentacles withdraw through the depression, but not before the damage is done. The companions are, across the group, impacted negatively by the experience, no more so than Magus Mike, who remains in a catatonic state, continuously tormented by the evil nightmares.

As is the case after prior unspeakably evil events, the companions attempt to walk it off. They return to the T-junction to investigate the door opposite. It leads to a treasury chamber, several chests with elaborate inlaid serpent figures can be seen scattered across the room framed by rich velvety purple curtains. The chests are not unguarded, as the companions enter the room a group of undead creatures rise from the floor to protect the treasure.

The companions attempt to fight their way through the mindless creatures. The effort proves fruitful, primarily due to the efforts of the cleric Freight and the martial prowess of Romica and Magus Mike. During the conflict, the companions note the sound of a group closing in on their location. To slow their pace, Lando creates a surprise for the approaching creatures with a grease spell conveniently located just ahead of the pit trap. The companions close the door and wait for the group to encounter the trap.

The sound of confusion and surprised agony alerts the companions that the approaching group has encountered the greasy trap. The door is opened to reveal several serpent folk attempting to regain their feet, a handful of their colleagues impaled on the spikes of the pit trap. The companions charge and quickly dispatch the disarrayed group. In its dying breath, one of serpent folk mentions the taint of the dark lord on Magus Mike. Searching the bodies yields masterwork daggers. Further, it is noted that the serpent folk wear the clothing of tradesmen, clerks/scribes, labourers etc. as if they had just left work. It is surmised that these serpent folk represent sleeper agents within the general population – the companions will have to keep their eyes open and take great care in their interactions with others as there are likely more agents around Freeport.

With time on their hands, the companions return to the treasury room for an in-depth search. There are five treasure chests in total around the room, most providing a cache of gold and gems, in addition to a heavy shield with arrow deflection abilities, a potion of cure light wounds, and a clay tablet of similar appearance as the one that summoned the accuser demon. Lando picks up the tablet to investigate it further – a shimmer of dark energy is followed by a chalky feeling that travels up the arms. The table disintegrates in the gnome’s hands and is replaced a book of the same design as those found on the table in the summoning room. Lando browses the contents and advises that it is a detailed history of the cult, with information about the unspeakable one, an evil god whose worship is prohibited in most nations.

Detecting magic reveals two additional points of interest in the room, one that turns out to be a magical short spear that was hidden behind a curtain, the second leads to the discovery of a secret door. The companions decide it best to see where the door leads – it opens to a passage that stretches into the distance. After several minutes of walking, the companions find themselves in a large natural cave that evokes a primitive feel, there is no exit in sight. There are bones and other scraps littered around the floor, a dark pool of unknown depth in one corner. Investigating the water’s edge reveals that there has been some traffic to and from the pool, but one touch of the dirty water deters any further interest in where it leads.

Romica points out an irregularity in the wall of the cave that leads to another hidden door. The passage curves around the cave and ends in a wooden door. The door is opened to reveal blazing torchlight and a large hall. Many pillars, adorned with giant snake creatures coiled around them, hold up a ceiling far above the companion’s heads. An altar of black basalt can be seen at the far end of the hall on a raised platform, a strange yellow symbol in view on the front of the altar – it appears to be a child’s scrawl, a big circle with a squiggly slash through the middle. Several statues of a tentacled horror can also be seen on the dais. Two robed figures lurk behind the statues framing a small man in plate mail. Their attention is trained on the opposite side of the room, crossbows at the ready as if awaiting the entrance of opposition.

The companions use their chime of silence as well as the cover of the pillars to sneak up quietly on the robed figures. The pillars stop about 25 feet from the raised platform – stepping out from the darkness provided by the pillars alerts the small man on the platform, who slowly turns to address the group. He removes his hood to reveal the face of Milos, a broad smile on his lips. “It is so nice to see you again. Let me offer my congratulations – you are the first outsiders to ever set foot in the heart of the temple of the unspeakable one. It is quite the achievement, but it also means your doom. I hope you understand.” The robed figures raise their crossbows and take aim at the companions.

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Trivial Pursuit
Speed dating at the Storm Raven

Summary

  • its Trivia Night at the Storm Raven – the companions participate and Anton wins the competition
  • information about Crick McGillicuddy is shared with Pumpernick, a bounty hunter,in return for half the bounty
  • Crick just happens to be at Trivia Night, Pumpernick follows him out
  • Milos’ contact, Enzo the trademan, is identified and apprehended
  • Enzo spills all – he confirms Milos is behind the contract and that he is part of a cult, an address is provided
  • a new mission is received from Captain Sil – a conduit needs to be smuggled aboard the Shadow Swift
  • the Bloody Vengeance is required for the mission, Kel agrees to captain the ship
  • the crew is given shore leave to fight in the Arena, the winner will be made 1st mate
  • condolences are passed along to Mark Hawks – running The Treasure Trove is not his cup of tea, a business proposition is discussed

Details

Exiting the gangway to the Docks District, the companions are greeted by a messenger raven. The message is short and to the point: Contact Captain Kel – urgent, Sil.

Nearing the appointed meeting time, the companions jump into a passing cab and travel to the Storm Raven Tavern. The pub is near the Hell Hound Social Club headquarters in the Eastern District. There is a crowd milling around the venue, a party atmosphere in the air. Posters adorn every lamppost proclaiming Trivia Night at the Storm Raven. Lando has heard of this event through local contacts – the venue is generally known as a watering hole for locals; however, this event caters to those seeking anonymity, and many people looking to conduct “business” away from prying eyes do so on this night. The poster is decorated with strange animal masks and confirms this eve as the “Season Finale”.

A bouncer blocks the entrance, turning back many more than he lets pass. On the way to the entrance, Lando drops a gold coin into a beggar’s lap. The disheveled man is beyond elated, the gold coin representing significant means. As a sign of gratitude, the beggar advises that a password – samdolf – is required to gain entrance this evening. The companions provide the password to the bouncer and are escorted inside.

The doorway opens to an interior corridor that leads into the establishment. Halfway down the hallway is a cloakroom. An old man in dark glasses, a white can beside him, slumbers at the desk. Above the counter is a sign that reads: Your anonymity is as closely guarded as your patronage is welcome. The old man wakes with a startle and provides a cornucopia of masks to the group – Magus takes one with fuzzy hair, Freight a mask with a torch, Anton a ridiculous rooster, and Lando a fine mask adorned with turnips.

The festivities already underway, the companions enter the main hall. A club official signals to staff to shut the door – everyone is accounted for. There are many tables around the room, but only four with one person seated. Seems like the competition is conducted in teams of twos. The companions split up and sit with those persons with matching masks. On stage, the MC for the evening spins a massive drum with trivia questions.

Anton: a solid looking fellow in a matching rooster mask ambles up and seats the halfling at his table. He’s not happy that Anton is late. He introduces himself as Pumpernick and explains that he is here to win, so the halfling better not get in this way. Making small talk, Anton learns that he is a bounty hunter and an acquaintance of Ansor. He hopes to win the jackpot so that he can use the money to pay for rumors to help him track down the Dockside Splitter or Crick McGillicuddy, bounties that he has been chasing for some time with no success. Sensing an opportunity, Anton cuts the gunslinger a deal – he’ll provide inside information leading to Crick in return for half of the bounty. Pumpernick agrees.

Freight: a gruff, sad voice greets Freight as she seats herself. Inquiring why her partner is down in the dumps, he says that he has had much tragedy in his life of late. When asked what she does, Freight advises that she is a dockworker. Her partner perks up at the mention and introduces himself as Chuck of the City Watch. They discuss a business opportunity – Chuck is looking for someone to distribute posters of the Dockside Splitter around the Docks District. It seems the reason for his melancholy stems from the brutal death of his brother, Charles, at the hands of the Splitter. Attempting to gain knowledge of whether Chuck is complicit in the yellow shields contract, Chuck questions where Freight may have come by such knowledge. He becomes confrontational and tries to imply that Freight was somehow involved in his brother’s death. The cleric talks him down and Chuck relents, believing that he is grasping at straws. He leaves the tavern to attend to some urgent business he has with the evidence locker.

Lando: the gnome sits at a table with a sprightly lass named Sister Sprout, the daughter of an incense trader. Although she works at the Office of Public Records, an esteemed career in Lando’s eyes, her world views are too narrow focused to permit productive conversation, likely a by-product of her religious background. They don’t get along. In fact, Sister Sprout feigns indecent conduct by Lando in an attempt to have him removed from the building. It proves unsuccessful and she is asked to leave as a result for causing a disturbance.

Magus Mike: the half-elf is greeted emphatically by a rather intoxicated patron. The magus is not impressed. His partner attempts to cut through the awkwardness by showcasing a card trick – seems he is interested in magic and wishes to someday entertain at the Mouth of Hell. The magus sends the cards flying via mage hand. A tavern employee asks them to keep it down. When asked what he does, the magus indicates that he kills people for a living. Silence ensues until Mike claps his partner on the shoulder and tells him he’s just joking. They make further small talk and the patron introduces himself as Enzo, a local millwright.

The drum spins and the MC reads out questions to the various tables. The companions are asked many questions during the evening, including:

  • Brought to you by the city’s fearless leader, Milton Drac: what at the names of the city’s two founders – Drac and Frisco
  • Sponsored by the Mouth of Hell: although proven false, what law official was rumored to be the leader of a famous mercenary band – Hollister (the MC takes note of the companions upon successfully answering this question)
  • On behalf of the Office of Public Records: what geological formation is the city built upon, and for bonus points, who was it named for: the city is built upon the Serpents Teeth Isles, named after the serpent people that originally inhabited the lands. A local myth tells of how the serpent god, Yg, broke off a piece of his body to create the land as a bastion of prosperity for his people.
  • Brought to you by the Swords of the Edict: what devastating event led to the Reclamation Project, and for extra points, who caused it: the Great Green Fire was the predecessor event and was caused by a young wizard from the Wizard’s Guild. He summoned a creature that wreaked havoc on the city, it took three full nights to get the fire under control.
  • Paid for by the good people at Gregor’s Brewery: what noble turned politician was said to have scared off an ogre by showing it his rotten teeth: Lord Brack
  • Brought to you by The Bard and the Bastard: the son of a humble lumberjack, who built the statues in the Sealord’s Palace: Ironjack
  • Sponsored by the Hell Hound Social Club: which city district houses a prominent business protected by the highly reputable Hell Hound Social Club: the business is the Opera House, which is located in the Eastern District
  • On behalf of The Horse’s Demise Drinking Establishment: which district was founded by an influx of labourers required to rebuild the city after the Great Green Fire: Bloodsalt

During the event, a pair of loud and obnoxious contestants wearing donkey masks continually poke fun of their competitors. The crowd is eating it up; however, after several warnings from ownership, the amorous couple are asked to leave. Pumpernick, reviewing the notes provided by Anton, suddenly drops the dossier, “Well I’ll be, he was under my nose this entire time.” He stands up from the table and follows the couple, now revealed to be Crick and Hollister’s significant other, as they are escorted to the exit.

His partner gone for the evening, Lando actively screens the crowd for a potential contact and overhears the guards speaking. Having four teams show up individually and late is a strange occurrence. Further, one of the companion’s partners was the inquisitive type, and not so subtle, attempting to gain intel before show started. The contact is here, and there is only one partner left, the tradesman Enzo.

By answering the last question correctly, Anton and his absentee partner Pumpernick seal the trivia night victory. The winnings are collected and the companions file out, keeping a close eye on Enzo. The tradesman waits patiently outside, keeping an active watch – it appears as if he is waiting for someone. The companions approach and Enzo gets nervous. He bolts down the street – Anton follows quickly behind him, and worried about the number of witnesses, insinuates loudly that Enzo is too drunk to run. Lando places him in a magical slumber and he falls to the crowd’s entertainment. The group loads him into a cab for questioning.

Enzo is justifiably scared for his life and, although somewhat concussed from the fall, happy to answer all questions. He doesn’t know much about Milos but confirms that he was the one behind the contracts – apparently he has it out for the companions. Interestingly, he refers to Milos as “master”. It becomes clear through the questioning that Enzo is merely a pawn in this game. He joined up with a local group, assumed to be a cult, because they promised to teach him magic although they haven’t come through on their end. He runs lots of errands for the group such as delivering food and supplies to a bricked up building in the Eastern District (the address of which he provides), as well as the packages to the yellow shields. All he wants to do is get away from the city. The companions are happy to oblige and arrange the cab to take Enzo to the docks where he can join up with the yellow shields mercenary group and leave town.

The companions are dropped off at The Honey Pot on the way. They greet Brughan before sitting down with Kel. His countenance quickly changes and the companions recognize the appearance of Captain Sil. He is impressed with their progress – he had hired a second group that has been largely unsuccessful in their endeavors. The serpent people under the Temple of Knowledge are discussed. He is surprised to hear of other sentient serpent folk and thanks the companions for the update.

To the news at hand, he has a high priority mission, one just as important as the mighty men, for the group. He requires the companions to smuggle something onto the Shadow Swift. A separate vessel is travelling into Freeport with the cargo. The companions are to hire a ship and crew to intercept the ship outside of the patrol perimeter and provide escort into the city. To do this, the customs agent for the harbour, Barnaby the Uncorruptible, will have to be bribed so that the ship not be inspected. The Shadow Swift is in need of repairs – the package will be disguised as timbers to service the haul. Of the crew, only Pretty Ike the boatswain and Rockinsky the carpenter can be trusted – all other crew members are to be avoided. Sil has it on good word that the captain is planning to be on shore to attend Swag Fest, which will occur in several days when the moon reaches its zenith above Freeport. This will provide a small window that should be sufficient to load the cargo.

The good captain seems nervous throughout the discussion. The companions press him for more information as they are concerned that their lack of understanding could jeopardize the mission. Sil agrees. He relates that Ironjack has enacted many useful rituals for the benefit of the city, some of which are also useful to Sil. None of this will matter, however, if the conduit, part of the cargo, is not in place – it represents the other end of a portal. Sil has created a narrow window of time, through his specific influence and continued loyalty aboard the Shadow Swift, to allow for this mission to be successful. The only person that poses a real threat to its failure is the current captain. The mission is vital and must be completed at all costs – if the captain gets in the way, he must be removed. When pushed on this point, Sil confirms that he was indeed cast off himself long ago when the crew mutinied against him. Time is short, he advises that Kel will furnish the group with 25,000 gold pieces to bribe the customs official and a further 7,500 gold pieces to hire a trustworthy ship and captain. His visage shimmers and fades.

Thinking on their feet, the companions decide that there is not a more trustworthy ship than the Bloody Vengeance. However, they need a captain. Kel is easily convinced – despite his reluctance to leave shore again, the opportunity to help the companions and Sil in turn is too much to pass out. With several tasks to complete before the full moon, the companions take their leave of Kel.

Before exiting the tavern, the group asks Brughan if he had any further insight on blackblood. He has little information other than Erick was tight-lipped about it. He imported the substance from an unknown source and shipped it to Gregor. Those that were press-ganged into helping with the shipment were killed after delivery and thrown into the harbour. He assumes that meant that secrecy was important and he did not pry.

The companions return to the Bloody Vengeance for the night and discuss plans for the smuggling mission. During the night, Freight has a vivid dream – Carson is in his room. His voice, only but a whisper, still dominates the space. He’s been abducted by serpent people and is underground, he is unsure where. He is close to death, his life energy slowly slipping away. He begs Freight to rescue him before he succumbs to his captors – his incorporeal image slowly fades away.

The companions take the dream to heart and decide in the morning to redouble their efforts in locating their good friend. Before exiting the Vengeance, they hold an impromptu meeting with the crew to announce upcoming shore leave. Most of the crew has been entered into a fighting competition at the Arena this very afternoon. The winner of the event will be promoted to first mate. The crew are excited for the opportunity to kill landlubbers without ending up in prison.

Crew morale at a high, the companions cab back to The Bard and the Bastard to check in with their contacts through the communication devices set up in their war room:

  • Garvey is fine, he confirms that the yellow shields were unsuccessful in their attempt on his life and have not returned to the Wizard’s Guild compound. He is happy to hear that the immediate threat has been taken care of and that the yellow shields are leaving town.
  • Chatting with Eagel, the companions ask about the papers and books that Carson collected during his time away. Eagel was not privy to his research, but confirms that Carson donated it to the Temple in good faith. Many within the order were concerned that Carson was exploiting his position to research arcane and dangerous subjects beyond his station – giving up the information collected helped to temper these concerns, which played a role in allowing him to rejoin the Swords of the Edict.
  • Lastly, the group passes along their sincere condolences to Mark Hawks. He is appreciative of the gesture. Besides the death of his brother, Mark is out of his league trying to run The Treasure Trove. He requests assistance in administering the shop – the companions are happy to assist, understanding the value of a reputable import/export business. Mark is open to putting his specific skill sets/knowledge of the underground economy to good use – the companions consider the opportunity to have Mark help them break into the pick-pocking ring or cab business.

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Ambush
A contract to repeal a contract

Summary

  • 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

Details

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.

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The Mouth of Hell
RIP Martin Hawks

Summary

  • the barkeep and Captain Sil have outfitted the group with a war room
  • the companions learn about the Arena
  • a meeting with Milos provides little new information
  • Anton trails a contact of Milos to a group of desert tribesmen and witnesses an exchange
  • the tribesmen travel to The Treasure Trove and murder a defenseless Martin Hawks
  • Anton’s cover blown, he summons Captain Sil to deal with the tribesmen
  • the companions travel to the Mouth of Hell, a pleasure den
  • a trap door under the stage leads to a secret library
  • undead priests are incapacitated allowing enough time to find Ironjack’s journal
  • the companions escape the Mouth of Hell in flames

Details

The barkeep grins as he leads the group up the stairs and past the rooms where they had previously stayed. At the end of the hall, a large door opens to reveal an immense room – better described as a war room – complete with its own private entry. There are tables filled with ledgers detailing taxi routes and information on local factions (including the previously mentioned pick-pocketing ring), supplies for messenger ravens, secure chests for storage, communication devices to reach Garvey, Carson, and Hawks’ offices, and lastly a huge map of Freeport adorning the wall. The barkeeper has been busy in the companions absence. Regarding the group’s inquiring looks, he advises that Captain Sil was the mastermind behind the new digs. Whoever was responsible, sincere thanks are passed along.

A large package draws the group’s attention. Within the parcel is a note from Captain Sil, as well as several medallions of a similar design as the one Wanda wears. The pendants, in the shape of a snake scale, feature an inlaid key and magnifying glass motif. When worn, the scale fuses with the skin of the respective wearer. The accompanying band is replaced by ancient thassilonian script, seemingly tattooed upon the skin, that reads:

Breaker of madness, chains, and hearts,
born both of dust and heaven,
he shall be hatched upon the seas.

The note from Sil advises that the innkeeper has put much effort into the present accommodations and is deserving of significant gratitude, as well as recompense for expenses and continued security. Both he and the innkeeper hope that the war room will assist the companions in keeping a low profile. The medallions, which help to protect against effects that aim to create confusion, are provided as tokens of appreciation for the companions’ competent service. Lastly, Captain Sil requests that, should the companions come across any “degenerate” snake people, that they report back to him immediately. These persons are an unfortunate offshoot of an ancient race, driven mad by an apocalyptic event. They deserve pity, not pain, and Sil asks that the companions refrain from causing them harm so that he can administer reconciliation.

The companions call it a night and sleep well into the next day. Upon waking, a note indicates that Eagel is awaiting their presence with good news. The companions hasten to the pub for brunch.

As they enter the common room, the group notes several posters on the walls touting the One Ring Fighting Arena. In conversation with the barkeep, the companions learn that the arena hosts a gladiatorial competition daily at noon. The early rounds represent a free for all where anything goes, and once seeded, the competition becomes a single elimination style tournament. There is no entry fee and a top prize of 15 thousand gp. Despite the barbarian nature of the competition, the barkeeper advises that the competition is well run – there are spellcasters present to ensure the combatants live to see another day.

The companions locate Eagel and join him for brunch. They regale him with tales of their recent adventures and provide him an update on their progress regarding Carson. Eagel confirms that the last mighty men related note they received is linked to the Church of Retribution. Although the Swords of the Edict order is affiliated with the Church, their headquarters are located within the Temple District and not on the original site of the Church. In fact, the Church of Retribution was originally situated in Shantytown, and is now the location of a pleasure den named the Mouth of Hell. He provides the companions with a layout of the building for reference.

Several questions from the group motivate Eagel to provide a history lesson. The Church of Retribution was created during a time when various cults were a real threat to society. The mandate of the order was to seek out and destroy these cults, and therefore protect the general population. Fear mongering allowed the Church to gain notoriety and influence; however, as the ongoing threat from these cults diminished, the order fell into decline as society lost interest in their mandate. At this time, one of the cardinal priests made a deal with a duke of hell for reasons unknown. The clerics of the order maintained a protective aura surrounding the building. The foci of the aura was a grand bell in the church’s steeple – the priest cast the bell from the top of the bell tower and it shattered upon the ground below. The protective aura faded over time, the Church become vulnerable and was ultimately corrupted, leading to its demise.

The Swords of the Edict order was born from the ashes of the Church of Retribution. Whereas the Church was solely interested in opposing cults, the Edict maintains a more populist mandate seeking to protect the general population from malevolent interests.

Speaking of the order, Eagel is happy to advise that he has chatted with Milos and can set up a meeting this very day. Given it is the sabbath, Milos is praying for most of the day but would be able to accommodate a meeting early morning or late evening. There is no time like the present, and the companions decide it best to meet with him this morning.

The Temple of Knowledge is a short cab ride from the tavern. The companions register at the main entrance and Eagel leads the group into the Temple. The interior of the building is breathtaking, with vaulted ceilings over 100 feet high, providing an immense feeling. Statues of every known deity adorn the massive atrium. There are balconies above and books can be seen everywhere from floor to ceiling. An air of reverence dominates, and although quiet, a soft buzz of activity fills the hall. The group is introduced to Norton, the personal page of Milos, who escorts the companions further into the building.

Milos is awaiting the companions upon their arrival. He is recognized as the person meeting with Lord Brack in the courtyard of the Swords of the Edict headquarters from several days past. He is curt in introduction and it is soon clear that this meeting is solely a courtesy to Eagel. Milos is less than interested in the discussion and has very little to say about Carson, besides that he was a good librarian that made some poor choices. Regarding his breach of protocol, Milos confirms that Carson had no business viewing the documents that he did, especially at night. He was surprised that Carson was allowed to rejoin the order, mentioning that it was due primarily to the great store of rare books and records that he donated to the library. The companions had not heard of this, and ask to view the documents as it would aid in their investigation. Milos advises that the Temple is still processing the materials and denies their request. Lando volunteers his time as an experienced scribe but is also declined.

At this time, a trades person enters the hallway and seeks audience with Milos. The head of the library is clearly perturbed and takes him aside to chat in private. The companions overhear Milos advising it is not a good time and that the individual should leave. The newcomer glances over his shoulder at the companions, and then exits. Thinking this behavior rather odd, Anton quietly excuses himself and trails the tradesman at a respectable distance through the Temple.

The rest of the companions attempt to continue their conversation with Milos. He is fed up with the discussion and indicates that he has nothing further to add, and that he must leave for prayer. Feeling slighted by how unhelpful the head librarian has been, Romica reveals that the companions are in the employ of Hollister, and that it would do him good to assist the group in its investigation. Milos is unfazed by the mention of Hollister and briskly exits the hallway. The companions, no further ahead, leave the library.

While this occurs, Anton follows the tradesman outside of the Temple and into the streets. Not far from the library grounds, the individual, still unaware of Anton’s presence, meets with a group of 5 or 6 desert tribesmen in an open square. They are dressed in dark leather armour and carry spears and bucklers. Their faces are concealed by the hoods of their cloaks. On their bucklers can be seen an insignia featuring 3 yellow shields in a horizontal line. The tradesman conducts a brief conversation and then exchanges something with the group before leaving the plaza.

Anton follows the tribesmen through the city, no small feat, eventually arriving at a familiar location – The Treasure Trove. The group enters the shop and attacks a defenseless and surprised Martin Hawks. Fearing for his life, Anton immediately exits the building and calls upon a neighbor to summon the Watch. While he attempts to make his escape, Anton notices activity in a nearby alley as the shadows coalesce into 8 additional desert tribesmen.

His cover blown, Anton flips one of Captain Sil’s coins. As it reaches its apex, the coin disappears. A purple green tear appears in the sky, replaced by a flag floating softly to the ground. Captain Sil’s form steps from the flag as it touches the ground. Anton points to the desert tribesmen and asks Sil if he has knowledge of them – he does not, although he senses an ancient taint. Without delay, the Captain engages the group of tribesmen in melee, providing Anton the opportunity to slip away unseen.

Returning to the library, Anton quickly brings the companions up-to-speed on the events. The group returns to the scene of the crime, but are unable to get close to Hawks’ shop as the Watch is in the area. Passing the alleyway, a few smears of blood on the cobbles is the only evidence that the tribesmen were present.

Unsure of next steps, the group decides the best course of action is to investigate the Mouth of Hell. The companions travel back to Shantytown to visit the shop of vices, its primary purpose to cater to those that revel in hedonistic pursuits. The building is older in age, although tastefully renovated. The companions store there weapons in their bag of holding before entering the front door.

The entry leads into an atrium where a rather attractive night elf named Delilah introduces herself. She provides an overview of the premises – there are four distinct areas in the building each uniquely themed to satiate different indulgences, including a gambling hall (greed), exotic kitchen (gluttony), and entertainment area (envy) on the main level, as well as an entire floor dedicated to carnal devices (lust) above.

Hearing that Ansor is running the gambling hall, the companions decide to check in with their good friend in case he has any intel on where the secret library may be located. Ansor invites the group to a game of liar’s dice, which the group cannot pass up. During the friendly competition, the companions learn that:

  • The password for the night is “devil’s cry”, which provides VIP access to all that the Mouth of Hell has to offer.
  • The Bloody Vengeance is still in port, although the Captain and first mate were reportedly murdered, no doubt the result of an orc mutiny. The vessel is barely seaworthy, but worth its weight in gold given its writ of privateering.
  • Eyes from the Bloodsalt (the orc part of town) are looking longingly towards the Vengeance. As long as the sailors have coin for sex and drugs, their desires are sated.
  • There is a druid in town, once a member of the Renewal Project, that has pledged allegiance to the Wizard’s Guild. Rumour has it that he reports to the Head of the Sealord’s Guard.
  • Lord Brack, a savvy noble of significant wealth, has long stayed away from city politics. That said, Ansor has it on good word that he is vying for a spot on the Council. He is planning an event at the Swag Fest – his daughter, Gwendolyn, will not be attendance as she will be locked up.
  • The lighthouse debacle continues. Despite the time and expense dedicated to its building, it may not be of practical use to Freeport unless economic interests turn. The storms are generally a boon to the city, but the weather-towers are not as effective as they once were – they continue to keep the government ships away, but the perimeter to town is diminishing.
  • There is an unusually large reward offered for the thief Crick McGillicuddy. The bounty hunters are flocking to town, as the dockside splitter (aka Romica) has not been claimed either.
  • A small crew came in earlier and spent a lot of coin at dice. The were asking questions about a mechanical man. They came back later asking for someone who could pick locks.

The companions, a little short on cash and trying to gain influence with Ansor, provide him a rumor – a group of desert assassins are in town, they can be identified by an insignia on their bucklers with 3 yellow shields in a horizontal line. Ansor has no knowledge of this group and thanks the companions with a gift of 300 gp. Further, he is unsure where the secret library is located, but he mentions that the top floor holds many delights, but no library, and the money changing pit does not have underground access. That leaves the janitor’s closet, the kitchen, and the stage as points of interest.

After the janitors closet and kitchen are checked, the group heads into the entertainment area. The stage features a large altar with elaborate carvings. The next show – a rendition of the Freeport Follies – does not open for another 10 minutes. Thinking fast, the companions take the stage and Anton and Magus Mike entertain the crowd with a short performance. Finishing with a flurry, the other companions close the curtains to applause. A quick search of the stage reveals a trap door near the altar.

The trigger is flipped and the trap door opened. A ladder leads down into darkness. At the bottom, a long hallway with a glimmer of light at the end. The hallway opens into a large room, a library with an aisle leading down the middle and bookshelves with stacks of books to either side. The companions fan out to search the shelves.

As they do so, three priests in religious regalia appear, calling out to the companions to repent for their sins. Although human in form, they have the appearance of undead creatures. One of the priests is dressed in the robes of a cardinal.

Romica and Magus Mike concentrate on the cardinal, while Anton engages one of the other priests. Lando provides moral support from distance. The dynamic duo of Romica and the magus make quick work of the cardinal – the light fades from his eyes and his body disintegrates into two distinct piles of ash. One of the piles appears to be glowing, perhaps infused with the fires of hell. The other two priests fall soon thereafter.

The companions continue their search. Lando locates Ironjack’s journal, a bluish tome that is identified with the word Hammer on the binding. Behind them, the piles of ash begin to coalesce. Lando, unable to leave all this knowledge buried, screams for his colleagues to grab an armful of books – they scoop as many as possible into the bag of holding before they make their exit. The group makes a mad dash down the hallway to the ladder with the demon priests hot on their tails.

Dull applause greets the companions as they burst through the trap door in the floor, followed by a burst of hellish flames. The applause soon turns to screaming as the crowd is aghast at the appearance of the demons. The fiends of hell focus their attention on the entertainers as the companions run for the atrium. Their last view of the stage has the curtains aflame, the demons consuming the entertainers as guards converge on the stage. Lando makes a quick detour to the gambling hall to give Ansor a new rumor – the mouth of hell has opened and Ansor should close shop early for the day. He flips Lando his lucky dealer’s chip and joins the group as they exit the building.

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