The Freeport Chronicles

Judgement Day
Adventures in the Fortress of Justice

Summary

  • the package contains a key with clasped hands in prayer as well as a note that hints of the Fortress of Justice
  • Carson is visited and Lando healed, credentials and acolyte robes are acquired
  • Hollister, Commissioner of the Sealord’s Watch, is introduced – the companions services will be required in the future, an envelope of cash is given
  • entry is gained to the Fortress of Justice using the Sword of the Edict credentials
  • the brother of Martin Hawks, Mark, and Brughan’s lover, Kendrick, are requested for confession
  • a diversion allows for a secret passage to be opened behind the Mask of Judgement
  • a mighty man statue is found, already activated, the companions head into the sewers
  • a bard, one of Captain Sil’s colleagues is found on a similar mission to engage the mighty men
  • the maze of sewers is traversed leading to the outskirts of Drac’s End
  • the bard provides the next key before solidifying into a ship’s figurehead in the moonlight

Details

The companions have some time en route to their destination to investigate the package found in the basement of the Opera House. Untying the parchment wrapped bundle reveals a new key, featuring two hands clasped in prayer, a note, and a magical bag of holding. The note reads:

Above the scales of justice,
the mask of judgement watches.
Cast down judgement and
follow the path of penance.

Monetary resources being somewhat restrained, the group asks the cab driver to make a quick stop at Garvey’s residence to collect on the magical cocoons sent his way. Garvey is excited at the possibilities of studying the akatas and materiel and is happy to compensate for the opportunity. Further, the group disposes of some mundane items.

Coin purses noticeably heavier, the companions continue their journey to the Sword of the Edict’s compound. Ringing Carson puts them in touch with his page Eagel, who advises them that Carson is preoccupied. Eagel meets the group at the gate and escorts them into the building. While crossing the courtyard, the companions observe two figures of stature walking the grounds deep in conversation.

Gaining audience with Carson, the companions are surprised at his condition – he appears sickly. The onset of his affliction coincides with the possession by the accuser devil several days ago. He hopes to see a doctor in the near term for treatment, but has had pressing matters to attend. The companions bring him up-to-speed on their adventures and request magical aid for Lando, who is afflicted in his own right. Carson is able to procure a potion of remove disease – a costly concoction, but worth the price to heal the illusionist. Carson is exhausted and requires rest, he leaves the group in the care of Eagel. The companions bid him farewell and wish him a speedy recovery.

Before leaving the building, the companions wish to research the symbolism behind the stylized key. The page recognizes the praying hands motif as similar to that of the Chapel of Atonement, an institution where acolytes can administer repentance for prisoners of the Fortress of Justice. Eagel explains that the churches play an important role in Freeport, not a surprising revelation given that many of the city’s residents, having a sailor or pirating background, are known to be a superstitious bunch. As such, the Fortress of Justice allows its prisoners regular access to the faiths. Understanding that they will likely require access to the Fortress, the companions are reminded of a prior conversation with Carson in which he had mentioned that the Swords of the Edict has influence with the Chapel of Atonement. The group requests credentials as well as acolyte robes from the page, which he is happy to provide.

Crossing the courtyard, the companions again observe the two gentleman conversing in the garden and recognize one from their excursion to the Opera House. Approaching the two, Magus Mike yells, “Stop that man, he has my wallet – come Eagel, let’s get him!” as they near and Anton slaps the man jovially in the shoulder. The noble, the one with the official looking insignia, has a good chuckle as he excuses himself from his conversation with the Sword of the Edict representative.

Introductions are made and the companions assumption that the gentleman is indeed a high-ranking official is confirmed – he identifies himself as Commissioner Hollister, the head of the Sealord’s Watch. He mentions that this meeting is opportune as he may need the services of a competent and discreet group. The Commissioner and Romica engage in a short conversation via sign language. Angling himself in such a way as to disrupt line of sight, Hollister provides Romica an envelope that is quickly hidden – “I hope you can repay the favour. Always a pleasure gentlemen.” He turns and reengages in conversation with the Sword of the Edict official.

Eagel escorts the companions to the gate and helps to flag a cab. The group asks that he join them in their travels to the Fortress of Justice tomorrow – Eagel’s knowledge would prove beneficial on their “site-seeing tour”. The page is excited at the offer and agrees to meet the group in the morning at The Bard and the Bastard.

Travelling via cab to the tavern, Romica explains that he has a past relationship with Hollister. As Commissioner, he oversees the Sealord’s Watch, an elite faction of militarized soldiers within the Guard, but with separate and specialized duties. Hollister reports directly to the Sealord himself and has a seat on the Pirate Council. If the companions decide collectively to work for him, he can be trusted and they will be looked after – but he warns, he is not to be crossed. Romica also mentions that a meeting will be organized in a discreet location at a later time. Opening the envelope reveals a rather large sum of cash.

Arriving at the inn, the companions catch up with the innkeeper and ask his opinion regarding opportunities to earn some cash flow in the city. The innkeeper identifies several options of interest:

  • there are many nobleman/businessman that require a security detail from time to time
  • the Arena is a great area to test your brawn and wagers are popular
  • the local pick-pocketing ring was recently shut down and is looking for direction
  • the longshoreman’s guild is always hiring, its tough work but an honest paycheque
  • the Sword of the Edict and Wizard’s Guild could always use a hand
  • cabs are a great way to earn an income if one could be commandeered, they’re controlled by criminal organizations but it is likely tough to keep track of them all

The companions thank the innkeeper for his ideas and retire for the night.

In the morning, Eagel joins the crew at breakfast as they plan for the day. He is so eager he even brings bagged lunches for everyone. The companions ask him for information on the Fortress of Justice. The page advises that the fortress resides in the Old City, next to the Sealord’s Palace and Guardsman’s Barracks. The building is rumored to be impregnable, and there are many stories of prisoners trying to escape, unsuccessfully. The most famous is the legend of Sid the Sly, a skilled cut purse and lock-picker. He allowed himself to be imprisoned there so that he would have the opportunity to break out, thus proving himself a master lock-picker. He was shot many times trying to cross the courtyard to gain access to the gates. Even the very best escape artists avoid the Fortress of Justice.

The companions thank Eagel for his insight and take a cab to the grounds to scope out the site. Large walls surround the inner courtyard and compounds with only one gate leading in and out. There are throngs of people milling about, largely family members and friends wishing to speak with their loved ones.

Donning their acolyte robes and stashing their weapons in their bag of holding, the companions use their Sword of the Edict credentials to pass through the gate and gain entrance to the inner courtyard. There are heavily armed guards en masse around the grounds. A straightforward breakout seems destined to fail – finesse and wit, as opposed to bull’s strength, will likely be required.

The companions make their way to the reception area of the Fortress of Justice. Flashing their credentials again, the group identifies themselves as acolytes of the Swords of the Edict – they are here to administer repentance at the Chapel of Atonement, a multi-denominational church in the Fortress. Two guards escort the companions to the Chapel. Once there, they transfer the companions into the care of the Minister of Penance.

The Chapel represents a large room with no exits in sight, save the door the companions entered through. The room is split into a nave with rows of pews on either side of an aisle leading to the sanctuary. The Minister of Penance sits at a desk next to the altar. The companions note a large mask featuring the sigil of clasped hands on the wall behind the sanctuary. The Minister, a man well into his elder years, introduces himself and, recognizing the companions as new recruits, provides an overview of the Chapel. Lando compliments him on his guidance and they discuss best practices in administering repentance.
Minister_of_Penance1.jpg

The companions are ready for their first prisoner and request Martin Hawks’ brother. The guards return shortly thereafter with Mark Hawks who is entrusted into the group’s care. The door is shut and barred behind them. The companions advise Mark that they are here at the bequest of Martin and that they are going to break him out. He is more than happy to play along and is soon repenting for everything he can think of. The Minister of Penance seems pleased with the group’s competence and returns to his desk to take care of paperwork. The companions discuss with Mark that they are also here to break out the lover of a half-giant Brughan, but don’t know his name. Mark knows of the person in question – he is a dwarf named Kendrick, but the companions need to be careful as he is not the accommodating type.

With Mark finding his religion and putting on a grand performance, the companions request for the guards to bring Kendrick. The request is promptly refused – the companions were not aware that only one prisoner would be released into their care at a time. Lando attempts to reason with them – Kendrick is required for an intervention. They don’t care. The companions exchange their lunches for goodwill. Not good enough. Anton puts on a show – we’re nearing a break through and the other prisoner is needed! Nope. And finally Romica straight up invokes the power of the gods to intimidate them. The wrath of the gods is too much and they cave.

However, the Minister of Penance will not allow it – the rules are the rules and the reason that the Fortress functions as well as it does is because of them. Anton argues that the old ways are fine and dandy, but breakthroughs require faith. This strikes a cord with the Minister and he signals his acceptance to the guards.

The dwarf can be heard long before he is seen and the companions quickly learn that “cursin’ like a sailor” is nothing like prison language – especially when the prison is primarily populated by the sailor and pirating type. Kendrick is hauled kicking and screaming up the hallway and roughly deposited into the Chapel. The door is locked and barred behind him.

The companions welcome him to the Chapel and advise that he is soon to receive spiritual healing from “Saint Brughan”. At this mention, the dwarf quiets down and the group explains to him that they have been sent by Brughan to free him.

Continuing with their “intervention”, both Mark and Kendrick play the part, arms raised and praising Saint Brughan. “I see the light!” Barnical Bill casts dancing lights down the hallway as the group cries out in amazement – “It’s a sign from above!” The performance proves stirring, as the Minister of Penance races to the door, opens it, and bolts down the hallway after the guards, who in turn are chasing the lights.

The diversion tactic successful, the companions quickly close and bar the door. Removing the large mask from the wall reveals a keyhole. The companions insert the key with the clasped hands motif and turn – the wall begins to shift and a passageway opens in the stone wall. A ladder leads down into the darkness. The companions, with Mark and Kendrick in tow, descend down the ladder as the wall closes above them.

After about 50 feet or so, the ladder ends, forcing the companions to drop a further 15 feet to the room below. Putrid air fills their nostrils, a deep trough splits the room carrying open sewage through a grate to either side. A door can be seen on the opposite wall.

Kendrick explodes, “What madness is this? You seek to use my secret against me? This game ends now!” Lando, understanding that something is amiss, seeks to calm the dwarf via magical means. He puts on his most affable air and charms the dwarf, outlining the companions plans and soothing his fears. The dwarf calms down and explains that the door ahead leads to his cell – this escape plan has led him back to square one. His eyes suddenly alight – “Wait, there’s a keyhole in my cell that looks similar to the one above!”

Anton sneaks into the cell, careful not to alarm the guards, and opens the door. It leads to a short corridor and a chamber with blue-grey granite walls, similar to those of Ironjack’s workshop. An archway, streaming raw sewage, leads from the room. The flow travels through a channel before exiting through a grate on the opposite side. Anton signals to the rest of the group that it is safe to follow.

The companions file through the cell and into the next room. A quick investigation reveals little of interest. In the distance, a rumble and several sounds that remind the group of the mighty men statues – specifically, what would occur when the statues were engaged. The room begins to shake and soft music, slightly muffled but still distinctly bagpipe in origin, can be heard ahead as well as occasional swordplay.

The group runs through the archway toward the sound of the music. A shelf on either side provides the ability to traverse the short corridor without stepping into the sewage. The passage leads to a second room of blue-grey granite. The companions pile in as the door closes the passageway behind them. A statue of a mighty man – this one a dwarven figure with arms outstretched and hands clenched like they are holding the bars of a cell – stands in the middle of the room on a raised dais. Raw sewage streams into the room from a grate on the far side and flows around the dais, which acts like an island. With the passage behind them closed, the sewage is quickly beginning to fill the room. Under the filthy water, many lit runes can be seen, gently pulsating.

It is obvious that someone was recently here and has activated the dwarven figure. The companions investigate the statue. Instead of a face, there is a keyhole. Inserting the key unclenches the statue’s fists. There is an inscription on its chest that reads:

Two rods have I, one to quench and one to ignite,
2 keys will be needed to find the next knight,
beneath the brewing room in The Honey Pot,
revolved to find the secret sought.

As this is occurring, the doorway behind them begins to close. Suddenly, out of the filth darts a strange undead looking creature. It attempts to rake Lando’s face but misses, slamming into the wall next to the gnome. It quickly recovers and manages to pull Lando underwater. Magus Mike grabs the hapless gnome and drags him toward the exit on the opposite side. Romica and Anton focus their attention on the pustule-covered corpse while the rest of the companions scramble for purchase. The companions are successful in defeating the unsightly creature, but have little time to exit. Barnicle Bill calls upon the powers of his water god and summons a wave to push his colleagues through the doorway before it slams shut, sealing the room behind them.

The bard, still playing his bagpipes, can be seen in the distance fighting off another ghastly creature, “Help matties! Please destroy this abomination!” The companions drag themselves up onto the shelf of the passageway and make quick work of the undead monstrosity. The bard is grateful and takes a low bow. The immediate threat taken care of, the companions are able to get a good look at the bard – he is a tall fellow with tan skin and a rather well used bagpipe, wearing fine utilitarian garb that reminds you of Capital Sil.

“Good work fellow adventurers! We will require subterfuge to make it through this maze of sewers.” The companions confirm with the bard that he is working with Captain Sil, and that he has been tasked with activating the mighty men – between them, they have now engaged four of the statues. The sounds of other undead creatures snarling in the distance can be heard. It is quickly agreed that they should travel together.

The group follows the corridor until it ends in a cave-in. Anton is able to locate a safe route of passage underwater and leads the companions through. On the far side of the tumbled rock, the group finds several potions of anti-plague and anti-toxin. A short time later, a second cave-in impedes their progress. Anton again is able to find a way through, this time by climbing over the rocks. While completing the route, Anton sees a belt deep down in a crevasse. He is able to deftly draw it out, bringing with it a sheathed masterwork cold-iron kukri. The wily swashbuckler is amazed at the quality of the find.

Several forks in the road later, the companions find themselves faced with two passageways. The entrance to both lead through wooden arches. Romica points to the one on the right, and given his engineering knowledge, advises that the beams could give way at any moment. The companions smartly take the corridor on the left. Humanoid scuff marks are found shortly thereafter leading down the passage as well.

While trekking down this passageway, the companions locate a small piece of parchment in the lichen. It is hard to read due to age, but it mentions “mixing the refined elixir with Blackblood, and allowing it to harden will create perfect incense, which can be placed on bellows to achieve…” – Lando notes this in his journal for future reference. Several minutes later, Anton perceives a drop ahead. It appears as if a pit trap was recently sprung. At the bottom of the pit is the body of a gunslinger type. Lando detects magic and identifies the victims bandolier as magical. The companions retrieve the item for use for the magus.

The passageway continues to a streaming body of water. A rope is attached to Magus Mike who is able to swim across to the other side. Using the rope, the remainder of the companions traverse the stream without incident. Further down the tunnel, Lando finds several scrawls on the tunnel wall which describe “Throl-thangar, Temple of Holy Smoke” and point back the way the group just came. Inquiring with the bard, he has not heard of this temple, and the companions decide it too dangerous to investigate at this point.

After countless hours of walking, a light in the distance signals the end of the tunnel. Moving towards it, the bard begins to limp and complains of a cramp in his leg. As the light becomes brighter, the limp becomes worse. As the companions reach the end of the tunnel, the bard turns to the group, “My obligations are profound and worthy, more than life and death itself. I hope in time you will understand. I trust that you will provide these items to the good Captain.” And he hands the companions two rods and a key with an ornate beer stein motif. He folds his arms across his chest as he steps into the light of the moon – his body solidifies into a stylized wooden figurehead that would appear at the front of a ship.

A fever starting to set in for many in the group, not surprising given the amount of time spent in prisoner excrement and other filth, the companions exit the sewer tunnel on the outskirts of town near Drac’s End.

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Phantom of the Opera
The Opera House proves entertaining

Summary

  • the companions ingeniously agitate a mob to take care of their Hellhound Social Club problem at the Opera House
  • backstage passes are scored in return for a dance performance
  • Lord Brack and associate are invited backstage, earning prestige with the social elite
  • Gwendolyn, the lady-friend of director Burbage, gifts Wanda a serpent scale amulet for safekeeping
  • the companions dance performance earns a thumbs-down by the audience despite critical acclaim
  • a pillar on the third balcony reveals a secret door, leading underground
  • the companions subdue an akata attack, a magical bell is located
  • further underground, the 3rd mighty man is set in motion and a new key found

Details

Their cover blown, the companions take quick action. Lando puts the advancing thugs in a magical slumber, while Anton trips the street urchin as he passes the line. Given the attention it garners, Anton reaches into the street urchin’s pocket and produces his wallet – “Check you pockets folks, this boy has been stealing wallets all night!” The Hellhound members jump on their hogs. Magus Mike yells to the gathering crowd, “I’ve seen him passing wallets to those guys on the bikes – they have your money. Don’t let them get away!” Casting daze, the first member crashes as she tries to ride away. The crowd mobs the three gang members and street urchin as the companions blend into the mass of people. They notice two nobles watching them, giggling profusely and slow clapping, obviously enjoying the entertainment. Whistles are heard in the distance signalling that the City Guard are on their way.

The companions forego the ticket line and enter the Opera House directly. Huge double doors lead into a large lobby tiled in polished slabs of blue-gray marble. The companions continue into the auditorium. A massive chandelier dominates the interior of the building, hanging above the stage and the orchestra pit. Box seats are arrayed along the sides of the auditorium, while seats line from the pit nearly to the ceiling.

The group attempts to head to the balcony section but is stopped by an usher requesting tickets. Lando attempts to charm the usher into letting the companions through. The usher is holding his own until the two nobles seen earlier in the crowd vouch for the group as box seat owners. Introductions are made by Lord Brack and the companions note the insignia on his vest which identifies him as an official within the social elite.

Before heading up, a conversation is overheard between the director and stage manager of the night’s entertainment. It seems that one of the performers, a bard, has gone missing. Sensing an opportunity, Lando acts as an agent for the dancing duo of Magus Mike and Anton. They convince the director that they will look for the bard, and if he cannot be found, will perform in his stead. Passes secured, the companions head backstage and invite the nobles as guests. They are excited for the opportunity to lounge with the actors and stagehands, securing some prestige for the companions.

Behind the stage are catwalks, cramped spaces for stagehands to manipulate props and the curtain, a few dressing rooms, and a social area. The companions survey the scene, sipping on cocktails and eating hor d’oeuvres. Lando makes small talk with the director, Burbage, who appears on edge. They discuss the history of the Opera House and the vision that Burbage is executing.

A beautiful lady sidles up beside the director and kisses him on the cheek, interrupting the conversation. Wanda recognizes her as Gwendolyn, a member of a guild popular amongst the daughter’s of noblemen. It is purported that many in the guild are upset that their gender deters them from rising to prominence within the aristocracy. She has a private conversation with Burbage before he is summoned to the stage.

Seeing Wanda, Gwendolyn approaches for a chat. She is happy to see her, but asks that Wanda not tell her father, who does not know of her relationship with Burbage. Asking for a favour, she provides Wanda with an amulet for safekeeping. It has serpent scales on a wide leather clasp. Once around her neck, the scale fuses with her chest. The clasp also disappears and is replaced with a subtle tattoo of script.

The performance begins and it is soon time for Magus Mike and Anton to take the stage as the bard is nowhere to be found. The melancholy tone of the piece they chose does not go over well with the raucous crowd, and they are quickly booed from the stage. Returning to the back stage area, they can’t help but notice that the two nobles they invited are visibly shaking, unable to contain their laughter. They congratulate the group on providing such entertainment, both in the way they instrumented the pre-show riot out front, but also with the creative way they were able to get passes, and finally to nearly bring the house down. The nobles haven’t had this much fun at the Opera in decades. In honour of their performance, Lord Brack offers to clear things up with the Hellhound Social Club on their behalf via a large gift of contraband at their private party this eve.

The companions bid farewell for the evening and take a backstage passage to the balcony area. The third balcony is easy to locate, and to no one’s surprise, it features a large granite pillar of blue-gray marble similar to that seen in Ironjack’s workshop. The appropriate key is taken from the chain. It casts a bluish-grey light that reveals a keyhole on the pillar. A secret door is sprung, and the companions descend a spiral stair case within the pillar.

The staircase descends well below street level, opening to a large room. A chill permeates the room, so much so that the companion’s breath plumes in front of them. A second staircase on the opposite wall leads down further to another room. Less barren than the room above, the center of the room features a metallic bell suspended from a yolk that is supported by two stone rods. Slightly behind and to either side, metallic webbing dangles from the ceiling, hoisting shimmering pear-like cocoons of violet purple. Lando advises that something magical lives inside.

Cracks form and the cocoons burst open as blue aberrations break free. Identified as akatas, the hairless lion-like creatures feature twin tails and a mane of thick blue tentacles. Magus Mike and Freight charge forward as the akatas pounce, Anton and Lando stay back to provide aerial support. The group’s concentrated efforts prove efficient as the first akata is brought to heel, but the second creature avoids melee and grapples the defenseless Lando. Besides the slow constriction, the creature infects Lando with a magical disease, sending hundreds of larvae into his bloodstream. His life fleeting before his eyes, Lando accepts the embrace as the rest of the companions pummel the akata into submission. Escaping its grasp, Lando understands his dire predicament and urges the companions to push the pace as time is of the essence.

The companions catch their breath and investigate the room. The corpses of the still-shimmering akatas would likely be appreciated by Garvey for further study. The two bodies are re-packaged in their cocoons and sent via the rune directly to Garvey. Studying the bell in the middle of the room, it is made from similar material as the cocoons with a blue-violet metallic shimmer. A ring circles the inside of the bell inscribed with the words “Singer of Silence”. A mallet of similar material serves as the bell’s clapper.

Anton strikes the bell with the mallet, resulting in a chime of magical essence. Its peal can be heard by those close to the bell, but the companions farther away do not hear the note. A second strike has similar effect. Magus Mike notices an exit on the opposite side of the room leading to a staircase. The companions take the bell and hammer for further study and head down the stairwell.

The base of the stairs opens into a small room that appears to be a staging area. An exit can be seen on the opposite wall, leading to a long hallway. There appear to be many passageways intersecting the hallway. Further, shambling undead creatures can be seen walking between the corridors form time to time. At the end of the hallway is a larger room with what looks to be a statue in its center.

Watching the activity in the hallway, the group notes a pattern to the undead creature’s mindless walk. The companions wait for the appropriate gap and then run head long down the passageway, Anton chiming the bell every so often. It proves an effective strategy as the group is able to enter the far room without incident, although the bell no longer chimes – the companions assume they have exceeded its daily toll.

The far room is larger in size than the staging area and made of rock similar to that of Ironjack’s workshop. In the middle of the room is an ornamental construct, runes carved on the floor lead from its feet. It has one hand upraised, and the other, with a bell in hand, is lowered. The bell appears similar in size and appearance as the one from above. Studying the underside, a ring of script encircles the bell denoting it as the “Singer of Liberation”. Anton takes the clapper and strikes the bell, resulting in a magical chime. It is hard to discern its effect, although various companions note that their belts have come unbuckled – perhaps the chime opens locks.

The companions place the bell from above in the upraised hand. The arm of the construct lowers into alignment with its other arm and a keyhole appears in the center of its body. The key with the tragedy/comedy mask motif is inserted and turned, revealing a chamber in the statues body. The runes on the floor alight in succession as the construct begins to pull itself along the glyphs.

Pulsing waves of magical energy buffet the room, and a deep rumble signals to the companions that it is time to leave. Before exiting the room, the companions pocket the parchment wrapped package along with the two bells and clappers. The stairs prove moderately difficult to ascend while shaking, but the companions make it back to the interior of the Opera House in record time. The show is long over, the companions exit the near empty building and hail a cab to the Sword of the Edict’s guild – Sir William Carson’s services will be required shortly as Lando slumps in his seat.

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The House Always Wins
And other lessons learned at The Honey Pot

Summary

  • the companions travel to The Honey Pot
  • a message from the innkeeper Spence advises that Romica and Freight are persons of interest in the disappearance of Charlie
  • contact is made with Kel, Captain Sil’s representative
  • Lando receives a vision of seacaptain Kel signing a contract that binds him to the Shadow Swift
  • the companions play blackjack and lose a lot of money but gain a lot of intel
  • the compass is “fixed” and returned to Captain Sil
  • at the Opera House, the companions are recognized by members of the Hellhound gang

Details

Well rested, the companions decide their best course of action is to visit The Honey Pot. The establishment is easy to locate in the shanties of Scurvytown. The stone building has aged well, while the surrounding neighborhood has steadily deteriorated over time. Originally constructed as an inn a century or so ago, subsequent ownership has transitioned the scope of the business to more debaucherous vices. The sign outside reads “Bar tabs available, inquire inside.”

Before the companions enter the establishment, a messenger owl descends from the sky with multiple packages. The first is from Sir William Carson with payment for the week, some information on The Honey Pot, and 2 potions of wakefulness. The second is from Spence, the owner of The Bastard and the Bard. It contains a bill for the past week’s accommodations, and notes that Chuck from the city guard has inquired about the group. It seems that the companions were the last known persons in contact with Charlie from the Flaming Trunks before his disappearance. Spence recommends again that the companions keep a low profile. Understanding that the tavern owner continues to stick his neck out for the group, they ensure prompt payment is forwarded and also pre-pay for the next week.

Entering the grandiose building, the companions are impressed by the decor and general cleanliness. People of all races and stations, mostly intoxicated, peruse the room. There are plenty of tables, mostly occupied, and a large bar at the back of the room. The companions take a moment to observe the interior and note:

  • a huge half-giant mans the bar, a massive 2-handed lucerne hammer is mounted on the back wall with the name “Brughan” inscribed
  • behind the bar is a door leading to a separate room, there is a boisterous meeting presently in session
  • a party of upper class revelers partaking in the establishment’s fine wares
  • an old broken down seacaptain in utilitarian garb
  • a sly looking fellow operating a gambling table
  • a tall and charming server with an ashtray tattoo waiting tables

The companions seat themselves at a vacant table and summon the server. She is a self-identified sea-witch with an endearing personality. She provides a menu as well as an overview of the offerings. When asked about the available entertainment, she introduces Ansor, the man running the gambling table. He operates across the city and collects interesting rumors on his travels. She recommends a few rounds with him, as gambling helps to loosen his tongue. The companions decide a sample of the establishment’s wares is appropriate and order various items from the menu.

While this occurs, Lando approaches the seacaptain and observes that the hook and missing eye remind him of a famous captain named Sil. The seacaptain is tickled by the comment and introduces himself as Kel El-Masilado, representative of the good Captain Sil. He is stationed here awaiting the companions and the return of the compass – although he assumes that things have not gone well given the compass is not in sight. This worries him as Captain Sil is a hard master, someone that rewards his allies but crushes his enemies.

Lando and Kel hit it off, and Lando orders a round of opiates in return for stories of Kel’s travels. Kel warms up quickly, although he laments that many of his tales are sad. He was the captain of the Shadow Swift in a former life. Fate, and several ill-advised decisions, led to unfortunate circumstances and the acceptance of a terrible contract. Captain Sil helped to arrange his freedom, although at a terrible cost. He has great admiration and respect for Sil, and in return for his assistance, Kel acts as a host for the captain. When asked about how Sil lost the Shadow Swift, Kel loses some of his lustre and advises that it is not his story to tell.

Although he is genuinely happy for the opportunity to live the rest of his life on land, reminiscing about his former glory, he understands that the end is near. Lando commiserates with his plight and a deal is struck – Lando readily agrees to share with Kel his essence in return for a vision. Kel takes Lando’s hand and is instantly bolstered, while Lando descends into a trance. The Honey Pot fades from view and Kel’s grin is replaced by a blinding light:

Peering through someone else’s eyes, a tropical landscape appears – a long white beach framed by the ocean. Seated at a table, a contract written in an unrecognizable language is reviewed. There are many signatures on the paper, two of which are fresh. A glance up from the table – a large sleek ship with many masts can be seen in the distance sitting low in the water. Two shore-boats are rowing toward the beach. A shaking hand – the left hand – signs the document. The foreground of the vision begins to slow, while at the same time the background speeds up. A sudden storm approaches with gale force winds and green lightning buffeting the landscape. The shore-boats are torn asunder although the large ship in the background remains untouched by the storm. The hand visibly shakes as tears blur the vision, which fades from view.

While Lando socializes, the other companions take advantage of Ansor’s services for a lively game of blackjack. Ansor has the gift for gab, and over the course of many hands, proves to be a valuable resource for local information. Besides leaving much lighter in the wallets, the companions learn that:

  • there is talk that the water source in several neighborhoods is tainted, the locals call it the salt curse
  • the Opera House’s rendition of Freeport Follies, which has proved surprisingly popular, is coming to a close; its next production, Admiral of the Black, begins soon – Jeremy Welsin, stage manager, is accepting applications for audition
  • a local druid, well-known for his work in the restoration of the city in the aftermath of The Great Green Fire, was tried secretly by the Minister of Penance and hung publicly – it was apparently quite the show
  • a local gang, the Hellhound Social Club, is holding a party this evening at a farmhouse north of the Blood Salt – Ansor can obtain tickets if interested
  • be careful at The Honey Pot, its not uncommon to find oneself indebted after a long night of partying; many chose to “work” off their tab, pursuing criminal activities to fund their growing dependency
  • Brughan attempted to bribe the Minister of Penance, a member of the Church of Atonement, to smuggle a magical missive from his lover out of the Fortress of Justice but ultimately was unsuccessful in his bid; Ansor asks that the companions keep this on the down low as it could compromise his ability to deal here

Lando awakens from the vision and thanks Kel for his camaraderie by coordinating another hit of opium. Conversation returns to the compass and Kel advises that Sil is expected soon. Lando asks his opinion regarding the compass and Kel recommends that presenting it in a broken condition is a bad idea.

A brainstorming session is needed, so Lando, with Kel in tow, reacquaints himself with the group and they share what they have learned with each other. It is decided that the best course of action is to use their wand of raise dead to “heal” the compass. Freight and Barnicle, both clerics, retire to the bathroom to perform the rite. The compass quickly transforms into the form of the old sailor, somewhat startled, who yells, “It’s not hell again is it?” The old man becomes transparent and fades from view, returning to compass form, this time in a fully functional state.

The clerics return to the table with the compass, just in time, as the translucent visage of Captain Sil takes over Kel’s body. He congratulates the crew on their progress, noting the return of the compass provides a strong indication of their competence. He is excited as well as the compass represents an important step in the return of his ship, the Shadow Swift. When asked about the compass, Sil takes on a contemplative posture, “In this world, when you can’t trust yourself, how can you trust those you love, your crew mates, your family? We forged a contract long ago to bind us to our word – to bind us to the Shadow Swift. For good or ill, we are destined to accomplish the mission that we set out on many years ago, or die trying. You have helped to move us toward this goal, and for that I thank you.” The companions wish more information about the contract and who drafted it, but Sil waves the line of questioning aside, “I cannot give you that answer, yet. It is true that you have proved your competence, now we must work on trust. Our interests remain aligned, let us continue to work together as you seek to fulfill Ironjack’s legacy. As a token of my appreciation, I will ask Kel to furnish you with a weapon to assist you in your journey. Unfortunately, I must say farewell for the time being as I have pressing matters to attend.” Sil’s visage fades from view – in the reflection of Kel’s eye the companions can glimpse Sil turning to meet with several people in an alley, a yellow sky in the background. Kel is happy to oblige Sil’s offer, and the companions request a keen blade for the Magus. The old seacaptain nods in satisfaction and provides that it will be made available in the near future. Kel stumbles back to his table to enjoy the remainder of his opium.

The server returns to the table and advises that the companions resemblance to a notice posted around town – an artists rendering of a hairy dwarf and female cleric – are drawing the attention of several patrons in the bar. The companion’s coin and amiable spirit have won her silence, and she offers to coordinate a taxi discreetly. The group readily accepts her offer as they wish to make their way to the Opera House.

As they settle up, three thugs are observed leaving the owner’s office behind the bar. They take some money from the till and, in a concealed manner, exchange something with Brughan. The sleight of hand is well done, and whatever was swapped could not be seen. This piques Lando’s interest, however, and he makes his way to the bar. Overlooking Ansor’s request that the companions not pass along information provided, Lando attempts to commiserate with Brughan about his loved one in the Fortress of Justice. The large half-giant is equal parts furious and baffled by this turn of events. Brughan lifts the gnome from his feet and punches him about the face. Dangling several feet off of the floor, the half-giant threateningly advises the stunned gnome he must be mistaken. Lando is thrown to the floor, where he not-so-quickly regains his feet, brushes off his clothes, and marches indignantly out the door to the waiting cab.

The trip across town to the Opera House proves uneventful, although several patrols are seen – it seems that the City Guard are active on this night. The group, for once, wishs to keep a low profile, so they join the ticket line. While in line, a messenger owl descends from the sky with a package. Romica and Anton accept the package and duck into an alley to open it. It contains a note from Garvey along with payment for the week. The note advises that things are progressing well in his research, but he will require more artifacts to fund his investigation. He is maintaining discretion with his reports, which is delaying his progress, and funding, with the guild. As a result, the coffers are running thin. He has provided a rune of transport inanimate object in case the companions adventures turn up anything of interest.

Before the two can rejoin the line, several questionable looking individuals exit a back entrance to the Opera House. Insignias on their clothing identify them as members of the Hellhound Social Club, a sister gang to the Flaming Trunks. They instantly recognize Romica as a person of interest in Charlie’s disappearance. The three members walk hastily toward their steam punk bikes, while a street urchin runs in the opposite direction. Several thugs brandish weapons as they attempt to cover their colleagues escape.

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Too Writ to Quit
Journey to the Shadow Realm

Summary

  • landmarks from the vision lead to the ruins of the stone platform
  • a guardian wight is bested in combat, producing a moon-sigil key
  • the companions enter the Shadow Realm
  • Capital Sil’s assistance is required to defeat a mechanical serpent construct, a colleague of the Captain is killed during the confrontation
  • the 2nd of the mighty men is activated
  • the spell segmenting this “pocket” of the Shadow Realm fades, the companions retreat to the surface with the body of the Captain’s colleague
  • when coming into contact with sunlight, the body of the old man solidifies into a broken compass
  • the companions return to Freeport

Details

The companions continue north along the track towards the farming community of Cabbage Crack. Many years ago, the land was infused with magical energy, enhancing the fertility of the ground. Today, this area produces a large harvest responsible for feeding much of Freeport. The group passes many wagons burdened with laborers travelling back to the city after a long day’s toil in the fields.

A youth approaches from one such wagon. He advises that he was instructed to give the group a package, and once delivered, he rejoins the wagon train. The leather parcel is dusty from the road. Inside is a map of Freeport, with various locations highlighted. It seems that someone has been tracking the group’s adventures. There is also a wand and a note:

Dear adventurers – I have been tracking your progress and must say I am quite impressed. I have some items that I wanted to provide you as a token of my appreciation for your efforts. In this pouch is a map and wand of raise dead that I expect will prove useful in your adventures. I look forward to your continued competence in the honourable task set forth for you. I can be contacted at The Honey Pot when you return to the city. – Captain Sil

The surrounding environment has changed much from the vision, a result of the damage inflicted by The Great Green Fire as well as the urbanization of the region over time. The group follows the road north until it splits into two trader tracks that lead towards distant mountains. At the intersection, the companions leave the safety of the road for the woods, allowing their instincts to guide them.

The wooded area is easily traversable although thick enough that the road is soon lost from sight. As the companions continue farther into the trees, wispy fragments of shadow can be seen coalescing at the edge of their vision. A transparent floating skull appears ahead, quickly closing on the group. The animated skull chitters as it sails through the air streaming shadowy tendrils. The skull dissipates forcefully in front of Lando, the concussion knocking him from his feet. The team prepares for further confrontation, but the threat has passed. Lando detects magic and advises that the skull was the result of necromantic magic.

Continuing into the woods, the companions sense of direction proves true and they stumble upon the stone platform. Sunken into the ground, the edifice is located in the midst of a small clearing surrounded by great trees. Limbs branch high overhead, nearly blocking the sky from view, resulting in an unnatural darkness. Moonlight manages to trickle through in places, creating ephemeral shapes on the ground. The elf statue from the vision is in ruins, the top portion on its side, obscured from view by shadows. The base of the statue remains standing at a height slightly taller than a man.

Lando steps forward and, in his most diplomatic voice, addresses the general vicinity of the platform. He states that the companions are on an honourable mission and require the assistance of the great spirit of the glade. From behind the statue, an ancient cloaked figure steps forward. It is a creature straight from a nightmare – the skull pokes through its sinewy skin, the lower half of its jaw removed, red eyes glow from under the shadows of its hood. A key can be seen handing from its neck.

A ghostly whisper responds – it seems the creature doesn’t care for honour and beckons the wizened wizard forward to retrieve the key with a wagging skeletal finger. Courage brimming, Lando moves with confidence towards the dais. Seeking to overcome the wight’s distrust, he produces the letter of reference from Martin Hawks proclaiming the companions gentlemanly reputation. Standing tall and pointing directly at the appropriate passage, Lando conveys the group’s goodwill and honourable intent. A rattle slowly builds in the creature, likely an attempt at laughter. Never in a hundred years has a writ been produced, causing confusion in the creature.

Red eyes dripping with murderous intent, the wight decides it best to entertain the gnome’s request. Leaning forward to review the referenced passage, the key dangles on a rusty chain within reach of Lando. Seeing this as confirmation of his discourse, Lando thanks the wight for his cooperation and attempts to remove the key. Pulling with all his might on the decrepit chain proves unsuccessful unfortunately, although it does result in the wight losing its balance.

Magus Mike and Barnical Bill rush to the aid of the wizard as the wight reaches with its skeletal hand to touch Lando on the forehead. Visions of his life flash through his mind in reverse chronological order. Pure gnomish stubbornness comes to Lando’s aid, for once, and he is able to shake off the disconcerting experience. Magus Mike engages the creature with his elven curved blade while Bill channels positive energy. Through the ensuing melee, Lando continues to pull on the rusty chain. A chalky feeling threatens to incapacitate Lando as he holds onto the key.

From the four cardinal directions, shadows begin to coalesce into the form of skulls. In the distance, green lights pop and the buzzing of a thousand flies announce the arrival of two devilish imps through diamond-shaped portals. Understanding the extent of the trouble about to be faced, the magus chops down and through the chain, snapping it into a hundreds of small pieces. Lando and the wight are launched into the air in opposite directions, Lando landing on his back with key in hand. As the skulls rapidly close on the group, the cleric channels again, an energy wave rippling through the approaching skulls causing them to dissipate.

The moonlight breaks through the cover of the trees to reveal a keyhole at the base of the dais. Lando crawls toward the platform as Magus Mike and the wight engage in melee again. The key inserted, the base of the platform opens in a motion reminiscent of a lunar eclipse, revealing a stairwell. Magus Mike scores a wicked slash to the wight, carving its skull neatly. The group sprints down the stairs as the imps gain the platform. The devils curse and wave their fists menacingly, but come no closer to the stairwell.

Descending the stairs, the outside world quickly disappears. Pale whitish blue light emanating from the key illuminates a shadowy gate. No breeze blows, a heavy silence permeates the area deadening all sounds. It is as if the world is dead.

As the companions continue forward, their footsteps kick up shadow-like fog from the stone floor. The hallway leads to a large chamber, the rattle of bones can be heard in the distance. The sound is somehow mechanical, producing a rhythmic pattern. The group decides to investigate, quietly sneaking forward in the hazy room.

The clattering of bones begins to get louder. Suddenly from the fog, a giant serpent creature made of bone lunges forward. The snake construct features a burnished human skull, recognized from the vision, with large fangs soldered into its mechanical jaws. The creature begins to shift from side to side, the movement mesmerizing the group. Dazed, the companions are easy prey for the serpent. It clamps down on the magus, the fangs digging deep into his body. He drops to the cavern floor, paralyzed from the attack.

Lando takes a coin from his pocket, one with an eye-patch etched on its side, and flips it into the air. As it approaches the apex of its flight, the coin vanishes from sight. A great dark flag with the now familiar eye-patch logo flutters to the ground, where Captain Sil appears. Surveying the scene, and noting the large serpent construct looming over Magus Mike, he pulls an unusually long weapon from his belt, a sword featuring a diamond-shaped tip. “I see you’re in a wee bit of trouble then. You’ve spent precious currency, but you’ve done so wisely.” He steps over the body of the magus and attacks the serpent.

As the two combatants engage in melee employing deadly feints with graceful technique, Lando drags Magus Mike away from the battle while Barnical Bill supports from distance. From the corner of the cave, a doddering old man in maritime attire, bespectacled and near-bald, approaches the confrontation. “Captain – is that you? Set a course for the north-east!” The serpent is buffeted by several spells, and is pushed in the general direction of the newcomer. The large jaws of the snake envelop the old man, producing a sickening crunch. “20 leagues, 40 leagues, 60 leagues, 80 leagues, good-bye Captain.” The body of the old man is dropped to the floor in a crumpled, motionless heap.

The Captain, becoming more transparent by the moment, attacks with fury. Magus Mike, who has managed to overcome the effects of the snake’s bite, and Barnical Bill join the fray. Lando provides magical aid to the magus, granting him good luck on his next strike. It proves true as the elven curved blade scythes through the scales of the serpent, a timely strike as Captain Sil fades from sight. The material binding the construct together comes undone, the creature collapsing in on itself.

The immediate threat taken care of, the companions check on the old man. He appears peaceful in his motionless state. Lando crosses his arms and recites a sailor’s prayer to aid his spirit on the journey it is about to embark on. A quick search of his body reveals that he wears similar gear as the captain, utilitarian and functional clothes of fine quality. He is wearing a mariners cloak, the various pockets filled with reams of paper that include star charts and other nautical calculations. Lando, interested in the notes and quite fond of the style anyway, dons the coat.

Wishing to give the old man a proper burial, Lando fashions a travois from the remnants of the mechanical construct. The companions lift the body gently onto the make-shift sled so that he can be pulled along with minimal encumbrance. Noticing an opening on the other side of the chamber, the companions continue on with their investigation of the Shadow Realm.

The opening leads to a smaller cavern. A squat statue dominates the center of the chamber, an ornamental construct that appears to be pulling something – it is easily recognizable as one of Ironjack’s mighty men. Intricate runes are carved into the floor, angling towards the wall in what is perceived to be the direction of the city.

A key is inserted into the chest of the statue. Once turned, the runes on the floor light up one by one in quick succession moving towards the wall. The room fills with magical energy and the construct comes to life, slowly pulling an unseen weight along the line of the glyphs. A pocket in the construct’s belt buckle opens to reveal a small compartment with a package wrapped in parchment. Similar in size to the package found in the chest at Pier 23, it is taken for further investigation.

The walls begin to shimmer becoming transparent as energy flows through the confines of the chamber. Lando becomes frantic, recognizing that the spell holding together this pocket of the Shadow Realm is quickly fading – it is only a matter of time before this area is returned to the earth. With the body of the maritimer in tow, the companions run to the gate and exit the cavern.

The sun peaking above the eastern horizon, the companions find themselves alone on the stone platform – the imps likely fled prior to sunrise. As the light of the new dawn touches the body of the old man, the figure begins to coalesce, solidifying into the shape of a badly damaged compass. The large rectangular object is encased in brass, the glass belly of the apparatus broken, the compass points and needle askew. It is a somber moment as the companions realize they were successful in rescuing the compass, but at a cost.

The companions retrace their steps to the road for their return journey to Freeport. The morning light feels surreal after their time in the Shadow Realm. Hitching a ride on an empty wagon, the companions enjoy some down time which they use to investigate the package. Within is found a key, decorated with the theatrical masks of tragedy and comedy, as well as a piece of parchment that says:

In the opera house on the 3rd balcony,
a pillar to reveal a secret to see.
Peals of silence can be deafening,
patterns to repeat again and again.
As drab as a fool, as aloof as a bard.

Returning to the city, the companions decide it best to check in with Garvey and provide him an update. He is excited with the progress and wonders aloud about the significance of the mighty men moving toward the heart of the city. He is intrigued by the compass and advises that it is alive – it is the physical manifestation of a powerful entity. He would love to study it, as it would be of great benefit to the guild, but understands that it is required for other endeavors. He recommends seeking the assistance of a cleric, who might be able to heal it. He has little information about the opera house or The Honey Pot beyond common knowledge. He provides Lando with a letter of reference to gain entrance to the Temple of Knowledge. As they exit, he recommends that the companions try to keep a low profile and not to trust other factions in town.

The group also checks in with Carson to provide him with an update. He is impressed and congratulates everyone on the progress – it is making him look good and providing him opportunities to get audiences with influential people. He analyzes the compass and senses unholy work, a contract is involved that binds this person to the present form. Discussing the cabin boy and his race, Carson retrieves a book from the archives. It is a historical work – the city of Freeport was built on the bones of a prior civilization of serpentine descent. The features described sound like a mixed human-serpentine race. In terms of historical context, he has access to information from the guild’s prior manifestation as the Church of Retribution. The layout of the city has changed over time, which may prove important depending on the district. He doesn’t know much about the opera house or The Honey Pot, but he does have influence at the Fortress of Justice should the companions wish to seek entrance. He can help impersonate acolytes providing confession/atonement time for prisoners. He advises Lando that he has the taint of the occult, that a curse has been set upon him. They confer and believe that it is the imps that are targeting him. It will be difficult to do away with them.

Near exhaustion after an eventful night, the companions head back to the tavern to rest. Lando studies the papers found in the old man’s cloak, but they prove indecipherable. Frustrated, he hides them away for future research.

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Never Break the Chain
Investigating Davy Jones' locker

Summary

  • the pier is secured and the treasure chest acquired – the chest yields a clay disc with magical runes and a warning message
  • conferring with Sir William Carson reveals information about the disc and bound creature
  • the disc is purposely broken, releasing the bound creature, an accuser devil – Anton receives a vision
  • the accuser devil attempts to escape and is bested in combat
  • the group leaves town to follow the vision and is visited by Captain Sil who wishes to strike an alliance – seems his compass has been misplaced in the Shadow Realm

Details

With the Flaming Trunk thugs controlling the pier, the companions stay out of sight and scope out the area. There are two rowboats that appear seaworthy, a larger derelict ship, an auto-bait machine, and a taut chain attached to the end of Pier 23 leading into the water. The chain draws their attention, and Wanda, a mer-person by birth, is sent underwater on a reconnaissance mission. Able to stay in touch with the group magically, she relays information about the chain – it is attached to a chest, which is suspended well above the ocean floor. The chest has a lock that looks identical to those seen in Ironjack’s workshop. Following the chain to the water-line, she notes that there is a cylindrical tube covering the chain as it attaches to the dock that prevents the chain from being hauled up. Another locking mechanism can be seen that presumably detaches the tube.

As the companions debate their plan of action, the coins in Anton’s pocket begin to shift with an energy of their own. Viewing this as a call to action, and no other plausible option in sight, the companions charge at the two pirate officers. Freight and Anton lead the way and quickly dispose of the pirate captain, the very same from the tavern earlier. The sound of jingling coins can be heard when the pirate falls to the ground. Romica runs through the remaining officer, chopping him nearly in half with his war axe.

The efficiency and sheer gruesomeness of the companions charge intimidates the rest of the Flaming Trunk thugs, who drop their weapons and flee, with the exception of a hardy dwarf who runs at the group. His charge is unsuccessful and the companions, taking advantage of Barnicle Bill’s netting skills, quickly subdue him.

While Romica and Lando use their key to detach the cylinder and haul the chest to the surface, Freight, Anton and Wanda interrogate the dwarf. It seems that he has accepted his fate, and is not overly forthcoming with information. But the team does learn that Charlie, the recently deceased pirate captain, has a brother in the town guard named Chuck. This aligns with information received from the barkeep that the town guard and Flaming Trunks have some familial relationships. The dwarf lets out a loud whistle, before a sharp crack to the head quiets him for the time being.

The chest is finally pulled topside and the lock opened, the chain wrappings sliding away effortlessly. Inside is an immaculate, water-tight compartment. In the middle of a chamber sits a small object wrapped in parchment.

Believing the guard is likely on the way, the companions pocket the object and quickly clean up the scene. They find the 400 gold pieces lost earlier at the tavern and also take two sets of studded leather armour. They dispose of the bodies by dumping them into the bay, including the unconscious dwarf. Lando is visibly upset by the companions moral ambiguity, and advises that he is going into the water after him. Wanda, her moral compass pushing her to action, or perhaps because she was sickened by the thought of Lando disrobing, graciously volunteers and quickly returns the dwarf to the surface. The companions set him in one of the dories and with a strong shove, set the boat into the bay.

Donning their disguises once again, the group takes to the back streets in hopes of avoiding the town guard. Much later, as the sun begins to rise over the city and the sounds of the fishmongers announce the coming day, the companions, panting from their long run, locate a suitable alleyway to hide from prying eyes. The object is properly investigated – within the parchment is a clay disk adorned with chalk runes. The runes are identified as a mix of holy and arcane symbols. The parchment contains the following:

A devil’s eyes have shared my sight,
of a hiding place found by night.
Break the charm to see the plane,
but be wary of the devil’s claim.

The cleric Barnicle Bill and wizard Lando confer and attempt to read the magic runes. They are able to identify the language of several spells, including lesser planar binding, magic circle against evil, and dimensional anchor – the disc appears to be a device that can summon, control and contain an extraplanar creature. To the best of their knowledge, the creature being summoned is an accuser devil.

Knowledge in hand, the companions believe it best to discuss with Sir William Carson their next move. They travel to his humble abode without incident. Carson is encouraged by their progress. He is happy to provide further information on the accuser devil, a denizen of the seventh layer of hell ruled by archdevil Baalzebul, The Lord of Flies. Accuser devil’s are typically used as a communication device by someone higher up the food chain. They are compelled to communicate the given message, but are generally known to be very manipulative about it as they are not happy about being bound. Studying the disc, he comments that the runes are elaborate and very intentional in their binding. Those within the binding circle will be at risk, so he advises great caution. With that in mind, he provides Romica with a true silver great axe that he hopes will prove beneficial should the situation deteriorate. Discussing the rest of the night’s adventures yields little new information. He does mention that he has heard of some strange experiments being conducted at Gregory’s Brewery, an alchemical establishment. The companions take the opportunity to bed down as they have been adventuring all night.

Well rested, the group heads down to the supply rooms on the lower level, which have been cleared in preparation for the summoning. The companions arrange themselves around the room – Anton, Romica, Freight and Magus Mike within the confines of where they assume the binding circle to occur; Lando, Wanda and Barnical Bill on the outside. The disc is broken in half – the runes catch fire before disappearing, and the remains of the disc crumble to dust. Out of the smoke rises a fly-like creature with the face and arms of a child. It points at the group and begins to speak in a language not understood by those in the room. A vision appears:

Stone monoliths can be seen in the moonlight, the figure of a man walking north of the city. Thick copses of trees stand vigil in the countryside, outlying areas unrecognizable as they are now populated, providing an understanding that this vision is from an era before the Great Green Fire many years ago. Mountains in the distance, two trader tracks converge from the north. The figure pushes on into the forest. The remains of a small stone platform can be seen, the statue of an aristocratic elf sits in the middle of the dais. A shape steps from the shadows and walks with a strange gait towards the man, the unusual cadence of the motion bringing into question the origins of the creature. The man pulls a key from his cloak, a moon-sigil etched clear in the night, glowing with a soft bluish light. A keyhole appears by the moonlight, a doorway opening into deep shadows. The creature offers a burnished white skull, which the man accepts as he steps through the door, the vision fading from view.

The devil giggles with delight as the message is delivered, its mission now complete. It attempts to goad the team into coming into the circle as the runes begin to fade. The companions receive visions of lavish feasts and treasures beyond belief – promised in reward for assisting the devil in breaking its binding. Anton and the others, unsure if the creature has been released, step outside of the circle as the devil disappears from sight. Anton runs from the room to seek assistance from Carson, locking the door behind him. A cone of multi-colored dust leaps forth from the hands of Lando, falling haphazardly to the floor within the circle. It appears the devil has indeed escaped.

A shout from Carson can be heard from upstairs. Unsure of what events have befallen Carson and Anton, Romica hues the door from its hinges to allow the rest of the group to exit the supply room. A short flight of stairs leads to a larger room, where the accuser devil and Carson can be seen in conversation. Carson turns to the companions and attacks. Anton and Magic Mike step past the cleric and engage the small devil in melee. It attempts to cast a spell, providing the two with a suitable opening to smite the creature. Carson immediately comes to and realizes the gravity of the situation. He apologizes profusely and the companions tell him not to worry.

Calmer heads prevail, and the vision is discussed. With the general location known, and already late afternoon, the companions decide to push on. Exiting the city, they begin their journey north. Clouds begin to roll in unnaturally fast, the sky darkening. Red lightning coalesces across the horizon followed by a loud concussion. A dark object falls from the sky, striking the ground in close proximity. Dust is thrown into the air and when it settles, a tall, thin figure is revealed. His features – no nose or ears, tanned skin, utilitarian garb, detailed eye-patch – are eerily similar to those of the cabin boy from earlier in the day. A long conversation ensues:

  • He introduces himself as Captain Sil, he alludes to meeting earlier under different circumstances
  • The companions help is required, he would like to offer a proposition
  • He has lost his compass and it is integral to the return of his ship, the Shadow Swift
  • The compass is trapped in the Shadow Realm, the same place where the 4th key to unlocking the mighty men is located – with that in mind, interests are aligned even though different objects are sought
  • He can offer much in reward, but for now, the group can keep the 3 coins which he forged for his crew – should guidance be required, spend the coin; if aid is needed, simply flip the coin
  • When asked about who took the compass, he provides a cagey reply and requests that the group trust him for the time being
  • Decide it best to discuss the vision – he identifies the statue as Lord Bonewrack, an elf lord and creator of the Shadow Realm. He was dedicated to finding a suitor for his sister, which proved a challenging pursuit. He wanted to do so even after her death, so he created the Shadow Realm so that suitors could continue to court her
  • The Shadow Realm is in many ways a mirror to the earthly realm, except the dead live there as opposed to the living – it is primarily inhabited by undead and other creatures that live in the shadows
  • The man in the vision is likely Ironjack – he spent time in the Shadow Realm and negotiated with Lord Bonewrack for a piece of its existence – a safe place for him to continue with his pursuits, as no one would think to look for him there
  • Ironjack set up a series of challenges to test the mettle of those on his trail, Sil is unsure of his ultimate aims, but the mighty men represent the path

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Throwing Down the Gauntlet
How not to keep a low profile

Summary

  • an ornamental construct is activated, it attempts to pull an unseen object along a path of runes
  • a key with a chain motif is located, along with a note that mentions Pier 23
  • a confrontation between a member of The Flaming Trunks and a street urchin is resolved amicably, several unique coins are entrusted to the group’s care
  • intel is gathered at the local tavern, including the location of Pier 23
  • friendly arm wrestling and drinking competitions lead to a lighter purse
  • the companions travel to the old docks in search of Pier 23

Details

The golem threat vanquished, the companions investigate the constructs diligently. Romica, a knowledgeable engineer, is impressed with the quality of the golems’ construction, a masterful blend of magic and engineering. He estimates that each body contains about 500 gold pieces worth of mechanical devices and gear, and probably weights about as much to boot.

The companions continue to the next room, which is assumed to be some sort of preparatory area for the golems. Work benches stocked with chisels, hammers and other stone-working devices, along with walls of gear and mechanical devices adorn the room. In addition, there are 4 “docking stations” for the constructs complete with winding engines. The team searches the room and work benches and find some useful equipment, including a full alchemist kit, masterwork stone-cutting tools, candle rods and armour ointment.

With the pedestal mechanism busted, all the stone doors remain ajar, allowing the group to continue on to the next room. A strange series of runes mark the floor, a shimmering pattern that draws a line to, and seemingly through, the end wall. A grandiose construct, more ornamental than utilitarian, stands inert in the midst of the glyphs. There is a keyhole in the body of the construct similar to those seen on the pedestals in prior rooms. Behind it, a plaque on the wall reads “Draw 9 men inward”.

After investigating the plaque, the companions insert their key in the golem. As it turns, light immediately fills the room, the walls reverberating with energy. The runes alight, beginning at one end and working towards and through the wall. The construct begins to move, pulling an unseen object in slow motion. A sudden snapping sound draws your attention to the plaque where a slot has opened to reveal another key. A key similar to the one found by Anton in the secret box compartment, this one with a chain motif on the key ring.

A jolt rocks the room announcing trouble. The ceiling begins to descend with a lurch, matching the pace of the construct. Anton grabs the key and also notes a piece of parchment in the drawer. The parchment is old and mostly illegible, although it does make mention of a Pier 23. The team turns the key in the construct’s body in the opposite direction to no avail as the ceiling continues to descend.

Unwilling to tempt fate, the group rushes from the room to return to the ladder. On the way, Lando casts grease on one of the construct’s nets, and the crew uses the make-shift travois to take the mechanical bodies with them. They make it to the ladder as the ceiling crushes the maze behind them.

Returning to the building above, Martin Hawks is happy to see everyone. The entire building was shaking as the roof collapsed, and he was worried about what that might mean. He is excited to see the mechanical constructs, assumed to have been built by Ironjack, and agrees to pay 500 gold pieces up front. Anton advises that a potential buyer has already been found, which Martin is happy to hear. In terms of lining up future buyers, Martin provides a letter of reference that purports a gentlemanly reputation.

In terms of Pier 23, Martin has no direct knowledge of the area, but advises that his brother might, as he frequented an ill reputed establishment called The Honey Pot in the old docks district. He offers to set up a meeting during his next visiting session at the jail if the group have interest in learning more about the area.

The team continues on to visit Garvey, who is delighted to have the opportunity to purchase the constructs, which he pays full value for, even dipping into his own personal reserves. He views the mechanical golems as proof of concept for his research and believes it will help him acquire further budgetary resources. He has no further insight to assist in the investigation, but offers to provide introductions to several of his contacts in the city, including relationships that he has at Gregor’s Brewery, an alchemical shop, as well as the Fortress of Justice, the jail that Martin’s brother is imprisoned. He also provides 4 alkali flasks courtesy of his good friends at the Brewery.

Leaving the shop, an altercation is witnessed between a well-dressed pirate and a pre-teen street urchin. A logo on the pirates vest, that of a flaming treasure chest, identifies him as a member of the Flaming Trunks, a local gang of thugs. The pirate has the youth firmly by the collar, shaking him profusely, while the young elf vigorously denies a prior accusation. The companions immediately involve themselves in the confrontation. Stepping closer, they note that the youth is not actually elven. In fact, the companions are unable to identify his race, although their intuition guides them towards a magical one. The youth wears an eye-patch over one eye with the logo of a stylized bomb, the fuse set. The image of a skull adorns the bomb, the eye-holes shaped like a magnifying glass on one side and a key on the other.

Conversing with the two, the group is able to ascertain that the young lad was in the employ of the pirate as a cabin boy until recently. The lad is accused of stealing coins from the pirate’s ship and will not released until the property is returned. The young lad, visually shaken, does not deny taking the coins, which he identifies as the property of his patron. Given the conflicting reports, the companions decide it best to confiscate the coins to hold for safe-keeping until the rightful owner is determined.

The youth is happy with this outcome. His patron, the owner of the coins, will find the group if the youth is provided safe passage and protection from the pirate, which is amenable to the group. The coins are transferred to Anton’s care. The pirate is not happy, and advises that he will track down the team. Not trying to hide from him, Martin’s letter of reference is provided along with the name of the inn that the companions are staying. In a diplomatic gesture, it is agreed that everyone meet later at the tavern to discuss this situation more amicably. He will set up a tab at the tavern.

The pirate bulls his way through the crowd as he exits, and the youth is relieved. He advises that, should guidance be required, spend the coin; if aid is required instead, flip the coin. As the coins are examined, the youth vanishes into the crowd. The coins have the eye-patch symbol etched on one side, and the other looks like local currency. Whether counterfeit or magically altered, the group is unsure.

Famished by the days events, the companions visit the agreed upon tavern, The Bard & the Bastard, the very same pub where the group first met. As offered, a tab for food and ale has been established. Speaking with the barkeep, he mentions that someone has recently visited the tavern, splashing currency around for information about the group. He recommends that a low profile is kept and they the companions not get involved with the Flaming Trunks. Although basically a neighbourhood extortion ring, they have influence in this part of Freeport and have the support of many of the locals. Further, the Flaming Trunks have family connections within the local guard, who tend to look the other way when the gang is involved.

Instead of keeping a low profile, the group canvasses the locals for information about Pier 23. Some fisherman point the group in the direction of Scurvytown, far from the commercial docks. The first 30 docks represent the old docks, which are mostly washed away. The area is known as a rough place and is used primarily by freebooters – any captain with an ounce of pride won’t go near. Its known as the place to go if you need to dump bodies. It is relatively easy to find, just hug the coast from the city docks, there is a wooden walkway that will lead the way. It is also recommended that the crew not enter The Honey Pot, which is also in that area. It has a reputation for strong drugs and beautiful women – many that go there never leave and become indebted forever.

The pirate from earlier, along with his crew, enter the tavern and appropriate a section of the bar. In a feat of bravado, the pirate challenges the crowd to arm wrestling and drinking competitions. Several locals accept and are easily bested. Unable to resist, Freight challenges the pirate to a drinking contest and Romica to an arm wrestling match. Money is wagered and both are defeated. The pirate has his fill, and his sea legs in fine form, wobbles from the tavern supported by his fellow compatriots.

The locals are fired up and looking for blood, and the companions, with the help of the barkeep, are able to sneak out of the tavern without incident. They set forth for the commercial docks and continue on along the coast to the old docks.

Pier 23 in the distance, a flurry of activity sends the companions for cover. There appears to be two groups in communication with each other. The pirate from the tavern is recognized, it appears that he and his colleagues are planning to protect the pier from prying eyes. The companions formulate their plan of attack.

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Maze Runner
Uncovering the legend of Ironjack

Summary

  • Anton finds a key and coded message hidden in a box, the party is formed to investigate the workshop of a local legend named Ironjack
  • relationships are developed with members of the Wizard’s Guild and a clerical order known as Swords of the Edict, whom are interested in Ironjack artifacts
  • intel is gathered on Ironjack – it is alleged that he opened a gate to another plane, spent considerable time there, and returned to Freeport to “leave his legacy”
  • the key opens a passageway to an underground maze where mechanical constructs are encountered and defeated

Details

Freeport, the “City of Adventure”, a land of opportunity for the not-so-law-abiding types. In other words, the perfect place for a beginning.

Anton, a wily swashbuckler, is contracted by Martin Hawks, the proprietor of The Treasure Trove, to investigate a certain workshop on his property. He locates some items of interest that he provides to Martin, a hawker of unique wares, who auctions them to the public. Martin receives a handsome sum for the items, which he attributes to his skill at auction – he has done this many times in the past, providing the means to pay for his fine establishment. Unbeknownst to Martin at the time, or Anton for that matter, the items are of significance.

Martin gives Anton an ornate box as part of his payment. Within the box, a secret compartment reveals a key that is decorated with a gear motif, a key-ring, and coded message. Martin recognizes some of the symbols engraved on the box, and realizes that the artifacts are linked to Ironjack, a local legend of years past. Which means the workshop on his property is likely where Ironjack, a engineer and alchemist of some renown, practiced his profession.

The message leads them to believe that the key will open a passage beneath the workshop, and speaks of a great challenge of skill and cunning. Given their belief that more treasure awaits, Martin and Anton feel it best to coordinate a group of adventurers to explore the underground. Anton posts a notice at local taverns/points of interest and proceeds to hire a crew of erstwhile companions seeking adventure. The group includes:

Anton: a swashbuckler, enough said
Romica: extremely hairy Dwarven fighter with golden orbs for eyes
Freight: female human cleric (in name only), worships feats of strength and war
Magus Mike, Sr.: Elven magus, tired of teaching/training, has decided to see the world
Wanda: Merperson sea-witch
Lando: Gnome wizard with a beard only his momma could love

Several factions within the city have been made aware of the artifacts and wish to speak to the group about their intentions. The companions decide it beneficial to meet and arrange discussions with:

Garvey Holland: low level member of the Wizard’s Guild
Sir William Carson: young cleric, member of the Swords of the Edict (in ancient times, was known as the Church of Retribution, involved in seeking out and destroying cults around the city, although they were mostly unsuccessful; SotE has taken on the mantle)

They speak with Carson first. He learned about Ironjack through his clerical studies. His primary interest being stories of cataclysm and/or dark arts, he found a journal in the Order’s library (#1 of 6) that revealed how Ironjack accidentally built a gateway to another plane, possibly hell. Although fantastical, the timing aligns with a period that Ironjack was known to be away from the city. His interest piqued, he petitioned the Order to provide him a budget so that he can continue his research – he would like to understand how Ironjack was able to build and power a portal to another plane, and whether it could potentially be opened again. Carson offers the group a retainer of 30 gold per week to provide updates on their exploits, which they accept.

The companions next speak with Garvey Holland, a low level member of the local Wizard’s Guild. Garvey has been tasked with maintaining several weather-towers, able to influence local weather patterns, which Ironjack had constructed. Problem being, Garvey and the Guild have only a cursory understanding of how they work. As such, Garvey has been engaged with researching the towers and their underlying technology. Through this process, he located one of Ironjack’s journals (#2 of 6) in the Temple of Knowledge. The journal detailed Ironjack’s upbringing – his father was involved in the lumber industry, and as a master tradesman, exposed Ironjack to feats of magic and engineering. This motivated his interest in pursuing these fields, which he developed expertise in over his lifetime. These pursuits led to many initiatives, one of which was the weather-towers. The local climate was somewhat harsh, caused by a weakness between planes. The weather-towers employ an “azoth field” which dampens this weakness, thereby exerting a calming influence on local weather patterns.

Unfortunately, that’s the extent of Garvey’s research. As such, he is keen to investigate any other artifacts that may assist him in developing his knowledge of the towers. He provides the group 65 gold in good faith and asks for the opportunity to bid on any artifacts that are found.

Feeling good about their negotiations, the group decides it time to meet with Martin. He thanks Anton for coordinating and relates his eagerness for the team to explore the site. He is upfront about his intentions – auctioning the artifacts will help him raise money to assist his brother, who amassed a large gambling debt and is now in prison. He offers to split any proceeds with the group 50/50, and pays a one time stipend of 10 gold pieces to each member. He then relates his knowledge of Ironjack – as the story goes, he left the city for a prolonged period, and returned in a paranoid state raving about a “last project” that he must complete as his legacy to the city.

And with that, the companions decide it time to investigate the workshop. They head down to the basement, crossing the lintel into the workshop, and note the inscription “Freeport Institute”. The underground structure is not made of brick as per the above shop, but carved into the bedrock with unsurpassed craftsmanship. The stone is recognized as a local rock that was quarried to build many local edifices.

The room is what you would expect of a workshop. It is dominated by a large anvil, which is known from the coded message is where the keyhole is located. The key is inserted and turned and a passage appears, a ladder descending into darkness. A cryptic note is found on the anvil, reading:

9 mighty men, 9 to bind
9 to grasp the flow of my purpose
to tame the unknown/unseen, your work starts here
precision and balance applied, that is the 1st step
set the 9 to their purpose, to prove yourself
your creed – draw 9 men inward

The ladder leads about 50 feet down to a corridor, which in turn leads to a square room about 25 feet x 25 feet. The stonework in the room is unparalleled and infused with a magical aura. The room is largely empty, with a small pedestal centered in the middle of the room. The pedestal has a keyhole, inserting and turning the key clockwise opens a door on one side of the room. Turning the key in the opposing direction closes this door and opens another on the opposite side of the room.

Short corridors can be seen on either side. The companions chalk the room for identification and travel to the “west” side first. They find a similar sized room, which appears to be a workers’ bunk-room. There is various equipment, mostly of a vintage well past usefulness, with the exception of a bull’s eye lantern which is taken. A pedestal is located in the middle of the room. They again chalk the room and decide it best to test the other direction, which they assume is “east”. Another bunk-room greets them, eerily similar to the west side, a pedestal in the middle of the room. Inserting the key leads to yet another bunk-room, this time to the “north”. Investigating this newest room yields nothing of note. This time, however, turning the key clockwise produces a grinding sound. The opposing direction produces a click. The subtle sound of heavy footsteps can be heard in the distance.

As the team is unable to progress any further on the “east” side, they return to explore the “west” passage. Turning the key leads to, unsurprisingly, a bunk-room. However, this room is notable – the remains of two small, humanoid-type bodies reside here, tangled in a net. Investigating the bodies reveals that they are long-deceased, and that they died from multiple, blunt force-style wounds. They carry daggers and short bows, and one is equipped with a nice set of bracers (+1 bracers). Backpacks full of equipment and other mechanical devices sit dormant next to their bodies – it appears these two were tomb raiders, and quite unsuccessful in their endeavors.

Inserting the key into the pedestal opens a door to the “east”, and the companions trudge on cautiously. The next room contains a large mechanical golem in the center of the room. It appears to have the finger of one hand inserted into the central pedestal, a clockwork whirring can be heard.

Romica charges into the room to confront the golem. He grabs the wrist of the construct and wrenches it, resulting in a grinding sound. A door to the “north” opens and footsteps soon reveal a second golem. Magus Mike strategically casts grease on the floor resulting in the mechanical construct wobbling like a newborn before crashing to the ground, effectively blocking the entrance to the room. The group engages in melee and makes quick work of the first golem, Romica literally ripping the construct’s arm free of its socket. In doing so, however, it appears that the mechanism in the pedestal has been busted, as the doorways groan to a half-opened/half-closed position. The second golem is able to regain its feet and retreats to an adjacent room. The companions quickly follow and attack the golem as it attempts to “fix” itself. As the mechanical construct is crushed, sudden silence descends on the room.

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