Thursday, July 30, 2009

Episode IX: The Case of Edward Caerleon (Junar 26-27)

On the morning of Junar 26, Emeris the shadowcaster, Early the fighter, Dziga the rogue, and Aelric the favored soul of Vazdah, continue their investigations. They spread out throughout the city and try to gather information on the eastern woman, Shilukar, and other adventure hooks. For the eastern woman, they discover only that she was looking to acquire a pair of magical oriental sidearms in the Adventurer’s Square, but they cannot find where to find her nor can they learn anything else.

Dziga goes looking for a good source of information on alchemy, hoping to learn about brewing potent yet inexpensive poisons. He is referred to the sage SAHARASAHLA’s private book collection. It seems the old sage is a strange man who does not leave his small library. He lends out his books in exchange for minor services. He asks Dziga to visit Mahdoth’s Arcane Asylum, a private facility where insane spellcasters are treated and speak with a man named EDWARD CAERLEON. The sage wants Dziga to listen to Caerleon’s story and relay the information to him.

On the hunt for Shilukar, the characters explore the shadiest part of town – the Warrens, surely the only place on the city's surface that a dark elf might be able to hang out. After some careful information gathering, they learn that MADAME KAETHA, an elf woman who runs a lower class whorehouse, might actually be a dark elf in disguise. Emeris uses the services of an elven prostitute named KIRII, and he talks his way into a meeting with Kaetha. She all but confirms she is a dark elf, and she tells them that Shilukar was too deceitful and scheming even for his fellow dark elves. Formerly from House Vrama, he is known to have betrayed and manipulated every drow noble house that he crossed.

Early uses the opportunity of visiting the Warrens to visit the rogue Mervin and get revenge for his previous defeat. Early and his comrades defeat Mervin and his thugs Bob and Joe in a bloody fight on the narrow streets. The characters seem morally disturbed when Emeris kills the helpless Bob as he crawls away.

The next day the characters are summoned to Castle Shard. On the way there they see city guards posting wanted posters for a child murderer named Oliver. Lord Zavere offers them letters of credit in exchange for the information about Shilukar. He says Rill is working on breaking down the enchantment on Lord Abbercrombe. Early and Itumar head down to the beach to help the younger man get combat skills. Itumar mentions that one of the armory's regular customers mentioned he had an unopenable chest as well. Early meanwhile begins his own form of special training, by reading a tome on martial lore he’d obtained from an eastern weapon master during his time in West Pyrna. This is the Book of Nine Swords, from which Early learns to utilize the power of the Vajra to supplement his fighting. Early also visits the Temple of Vexander, a god of technology. He speaks with a priest there named GATTRA about the prospects of designing a new type of pistol.

Dziga and Early go to visit Caerleon at the asylum. He has strange growths on his chest. He claims he killed his best friend but he is not a murderer. He tells of his background as a young, talented wizard, and his best friend RICHARD DERBY, and his cousin ANAMETHE. Derby wed his cousin, and he saw little of them for the next two years. Derby then visits Caerleon and tells him that Anamethe’s father EPHRAIM, a shipping entrepreneur rumoured to have been an alchemist, may not actually be dead. Over the next few months Derby’s sanity deteriorates, he says that Anamethe is using his body for evil deeds. A few weeks later he says he has stopped Anamethe. Then one night his insanity is too much; Caerleon drugs him and takes him to the Darkbirth Madhouse, where he seems to recover but his personality has completely changed. Later, Edward he is visited by a fetid dwarf carrying a letter from Derby. The letter explains that Anamethe had tried to resurrect Ephraim but ended up getting her own body possessed by her father’s spirit. Ephraim continued his dark arts with his new body. The letter insists that Caerleon go to the madhouse and kill Emphraim in Derby's body before he can find the 751st page of the Book of Inverted Shadows. Caerleon does so, and finds himself committed by his doctor, PULSER, to Mahdoth’s.

On the way back to Saharasahla’s, Dziga tells Dziga tells Emeris about the dreams he has been having. They started the night after Dziga had touched the Abhoth’s statue… When Saharasahla meets Emeris, he is extremely interested in the young draconic shadowcaster. He tells Emeris that they might be able to help each other, for the sage seeks a complete version of the Book of Inverted Shadows, which would be of interest to both of them. He says that the original 751st page of the book was locked away in the Banewarrens, but it is rumoured that a perfect copy exists with the notorious missing page. It is possible Ephraim had found it, or knew where it was located. Saharasahla tells Emeris to go investigate Derby’s old house, and that while they are gone he will look into where they might find one of Neveran’s allkeys to open the unopenable chest.

That night the company vists Derby’s old house in the Rivergate district. There they meet Doctor Pulser, the old Caerleon family doctor who is investigating the origin of Caerleon’s insanity and strange physiological changes. Emeris manipulates Pulser into leaving the house, which is now owned by someone named SIR GRIMLOCK, and they explore. In the basement they find a series of hidden rooms behind Derby’s “renovations” and Anamethe’s rotting corpse. They find an incomplete copy of the Book of Inverted Shadows, however it is missing the 751st page. Hidden inside the book they find a weird key made of a shadowy metal substance.

Unfortunately, before they can leave, they are assailed by a creature out of nightmares – a chaos beast. As it emerges from a crack in the wall its attack causes Aelric’s bodily structure to discorporate. The company slays the horrible monster and look in horror as Aelrich’s soul struggles to maintain the integrity of his material form...

Next: The eastern woman is found at last, and the Darkwater smugglers are changed forever!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Episode VIII: The Smuggler's Daughter III (Junar 24-25)

The company meets up again with Dziga and find out what he’s been up to for the last few days. Turns out he was hired by a liason of the Balacazars to serve as hired protection for MENON BALACAZAR’s grandson, DULLIN. It was suspected an attempt might be made on his life during his singing performance at the Cloud Theater. Eventually, Dziga defeats the assassin, who it turns out works for the Vai, but wonders why anyone would want to kill the boy. Did it have something to do with the strange rune on his face? Dziga has also been having a strange dream the last few nights, where he wanders around a strange city of unfathomably huge size, with alien, non-euclidean architecture. However, he keeps the dreams to himself.

The company returns to Castle Shard to meet with Zavere and Rill, who listen with great interest to their story of the sunken ship exploration. Zavere offers the information that the Balacazars have some sort of connection to the Covenant of Blood, or at least some of its vampire members. He also thinks Linele gold watch was actually a demon possessed watch that is of interest to the Covenant. Yet he is not interested in those matters, he instead asks if they located any kind of golden statue with the wreckage. They reply in the negative, but tell him that Linech has a huge golden statue in his office. Zavere and Rill hire them to “rescue” the statue from Linech. They later meet up with Aelric again, who has recovered.

Later that day, Dziga the rogue sneaks into Linech’s neighbourhood and dismantles the lock to the upper floor of the office to allow for a sneak attack later. That night, the company storms the office of Linech while Dziga attacks through the upper window, killing his guards and his girlfriend, a barbarian woman named Ounika. Linech demonstrates his sorcery but is defeated while spider climbing on the ceiling by Dziga’s thrown dagger.

Using spells and magic to bring Linech back to consciousness, they interrogate him. He hides little from them, realizing he is completely finished he may as well spill the beans. He says the Balacazars wanted him dead because of the Arrowhead disaster, and he went to trade his life for the demon possessed watch. It is possible they just wanted the demon possessed watch all along, and had only cursory interest in the shivel. He believes the men who burned down the ship were the Hussar, a dedicated religious group whose goddess is said to be imprisoned somehow by Menon Balacazar. He also tells them that the statue was given to him by a dark elf named Shilukar. Linech thinks he used to be a member of House Vrama. They finish Linech off, and convince the clerk Seanus to work for Darkwater since all his employers were killed in the fight. They get the statue on the wagon and return it to Castle Shard late at night and let them know the news about Shilukar. Zavere tells the company that the gold statue is actually an old friend of theirs, a nobleman named Lord Abbercrombe. Rill begins to prepare the spells to break the enchantment, and Zavere tells them Castle Shard will be contacting the heroes again in the future.

Later, resting at Darkwater, Darusa tells them that Linech actually was his partner in the shivel operation. He is trying to get the Darkwater group back out of the hole and is putting together some new deals. Phil returns from a night of hard gambling and drinking. He is quite hooked on the Mrathrach game, which Aelrich says shares the name of a landmark called Mrathrach's Pit near his hometown. Early goes to the Temple of Ashe to recover his sapped strength. That night Dziga has another dream of the mysterious city, and he feels particularly drawn to one building before he awakes.

The next day, Early goes to meet Itumar at the tournament field and the two practice and exchange stories adventuring stories. Itumar talks about joining and adventuring company, and Early offers to provide him combat lessons to refine his skill with the sword. Meanwhile, the others investigate Methul Watcher but are able to find out nothing of him.

Later, Early visits the Pale Tower again, and speaks with an aasimar paladin named ZOPHAS. Zophas enjoys Early’s curiosity about demons and tells him about Elan’s history. He says that the demons of the Dark Reliquary are too powerful to be defeated. Zophas admires Early’s desire to slay demons, but thinks the former mercenary is somewhat na├»ve. Early asks about the the Temple of the Rat God -- Zophas believes that the Temple of the Rat God is a front for the worship of one of the "Ancients", named Abhoth, Lord of Filth and Decay. He says the chaos cults worship the Ancients as the only true gods. He says that touching the Abhoth idol, something Dziga and Aelric both did, could have terrible consequences...

He also elaborates on some lesser known history for Early. He tells of the great priest Danar, who built a holy tower called Mosul Pearl, in the place where Elan would eventually be built. Beneath his tower, the great priest Danar constructed a massive vault to lock away evil creatures, items, and magic, called the Banewarrens, which are sealed and impenetrable. Danar was somehow corrupted by all the evil magic he tried to seal away, and became Eslathagos Malekith, the Dread One, known to the elves as Darkstar. The Dread One transformed his tower into the horrific fortress of Jabel Shammar, and created the Spire to overlook the surrounding landscape and make him more impervious to attack.

Zophas explains he was eventually defeated by a group of legendary heroes, who pursued him into the Banewarrens through an access in Jabel Shammar and killed him there. Zophas explains that several thousand years later, Ghul the Skull King appeared, claiming to be the half god son of Eslathagos Malekith and a demon queen, and saying the Spire was his birthright. He created the fortress of Goth Gulgamel halfway up the Spire, and the labyrinth to house his massive armies beneath the city, but he too was eventually defeated by great heroes.

Next time: The hunt begins for Shilukar, and Emeris meets the mysterious sage Saharasahla!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Episode VII: The Smuggler's Daughter II (Junar 23-24)

Emeris tells Quillong the basically true story that they are here to acquire property for their boss, and that brings them into conflict against the sahuagin who have looted the ship. Quillong agrees to help them and sends his dolphin back to Konagis to report to the other tritons.

So Emeris the shadowcaster, Early the fighter, and Quillong the triton follow the trail of debris back to a cave. Schools and fish and small eels swim in and out of it. Inside, they take the left passage and swim into the lair of a giant crab, which proves to be extremely formidable. The massive creature nearly slays Emeris and Quillong before Early strikes the final blow.

Continuing through a long underwater tunnel, they are attacked by a large poisonous eel and discover the body of Linele. Suddenly, they see a strange vision where the girl is playing on the shore of some island with her black dog, with the Arrowhead and a cluster of buildings in the background, then the vision changes and the compound of buildings in the background aflame, under attack by swordsmen, and the girl is carrying only a gold pocket watch asking “why?”. The illusion repeats itself until they suppress it with willpower.

Upon escaping the illusion, they see the real Linele—now an undead vampire spawn—cowering at the end of the cave. She clutches the gold pocket watch greedily, and rambles incoherently. Early thinks the creature is truly awful and says as much, which angers Linele and she attacks them. Her energy draining attacks bring Quillong to death’s door. Emeris’ energy is sapped by the girl’s vampiric touch, while Early tries to plunge his dagger through its heart. Emeris quaffs the potion of fire breathing. The magic fire works even underwater, and tilts the battle in their favor. When Linele falls, Emeris and Early remove the head and drive a crossbow bolt through her chest, and use potions to save Quillong from bleeding to death.

Exploring a narrow winding passage that opens in a cavern above, the company sneaks into a large cavern and finds where the sahuagin have been bringing the loot. They find Linele’s broken glass coffin and the loot, as well as a group of thugs and guards with a pair of slaves. It appears the thugs were working with the sahuagin and were under the employ of the Balacazars. Another name, “Medre something”, came up but it was unfamiliar. When they try and sneak away, they are spotted, but they escape into the watery passage—thanks to their potions, the thugs cannot follow them.

Hauling the vampiric girl’s body with them, the three leave the cave. Quillong heads back to Konagis, saying he will report back to his people and they will have to deal with the sahuagin later. He gives Emeris a coral charm that grants good luck as thanks for saving his life.

Returning to the boat, Seanus is quite horrified with the fate of Linele, and escorts them back to Linech. On the way, he mentions Linech’s shady guest who gave him the gold statue. The characters tell Linech the lie that they found Linele in this state, after she'd been killed by thugs who had seen her dark transformation. Linech seems angry about the fate of his daughter, but his mood improves substantially when they deliver the gold watch. They get paid and leave.

The next morning, Early purchases a dagger with an alchemical silver blade and an enchanted breastplate from Bull and Bear Armory. Though he was not hurt in the battle with the vampire spawn girl, he was going to be ready if they ever met another one.

Now it is time to return to Castle Shard…

Next time: Castle Shard offers the company a new mission!

Episode VI: Against the Rat God III / The Smuggler's Daughter I (Junar 22-23)

Standing amidst the carnage filled hallway of the Temple of the Rat God, the company quaffs healing potions and Aelrich uses spells to restore their strength. Recharged, they press on.

They go through a disgusting room used as a rat burrow and a door with a strange, horrible symbol. They find the cleric of the temple and her wererat bodyguard in their chambers, awaiting them. They fight to the death in the name of “Abhoth”, while calling for someone named “ANDROSS” to join the fight. After the fight, a distinguishingly dressed human, Andross apparently, lets his invisibility fade and appears in the corner, he tells them to let him leave in peace or he will kill them all. Although tempted to fight the arrogant man, they agree to let him leave to avoid a fight. They then find the temple’s shrine, and find not a rat god idol, but a statue of something more alien and terrible and weird. When Dziga touches it he has sort of seizure that that leaves a gross, unsettling feeling. Aelrich strikes it with his morning star and has a similar experience that lasts longer. They also find the “machine”, some sort of gargoyle built with mysterious technology.

They take their loot, two chests. The ordinary chest contains magic items and cash, and a set of documents. The other chest is strange in appearance, and has a lock that constantly changes form. They cannot open it, but bring it with them. Leaving a trail of burning trash behind them, they get some rest at Dziga’s apartment.

The next morning they identify their loot and stock up on gear. Emeris takes some time to read the documents. He finds strange chants and esoteric religious notes, and a letter to “Glorious Keeper Overlord SHIVA” in the Dark Reliquary, asking for help. It seems something called the “vault of the kython” was found and big called the “night of dissolution” was coming. It seems ARCHANFEL (whom they learn is the leader of the demons in the Dark Reliquary, and Shiva is his wife) is slow to take action. Not sure what all that means. Other notes speak of the unopenable chest, obtained by the temple clergy from ogres who found it in ruins near Willendorf. Emeris and Aelrich determine the chest was created long ago by a priest named Neveran who specialized in fire magic. To go with them, he created something called an allkey that could open the morphing lock.

Early visits the Commissar’s office and asks some of the troops why nobody deals with the Dark Reliquary and the evils in the Necropolis. The general explanation is that the demons and undead aren’t a big problem compared to anything else, and for the most part they seem to stick to themselves. Over the years, various groups have entered but never with lasting success and always with severe losses.

The next day Dziga leaves the group to “deal with something,” but he gives no details. The others visit Castle Shard. They meet LORD ZAVERE (a former blackguard), and LADY RILL (a former paladin, now sorcerer). They also meet KADMUS, Castle Shard's gracious butler.

They also see the legendary shard itself. Zavere hires them to investigate a drug smuggler named LINECH, half-orc cousin of Toridan Cran and an enemy of theirs who is hiring adventurers. They visit Linech’s neighbourhood, where he apparently controls all the buildings. At his office, they meet the clerk SEANUS and Linech’s half-sister who looks totally addicted to shivel. Linech has a huge golden statue of a man. Turns out Linech needs someone to retrieve his daughter’s body and possessions, which went down on the Arrowhead, a ship that burned down in the harbour a few nights ago. He doesn’t think it was an accident. It turns out the Arrowhead is the same ship that that was bringing in Darusa’s shivel. They accept the mission, not letting Linech know they were actually involved in the smuggling as well. Linech sends his clerk SEANUS with them.

Reporting back to Mand Scheben and Lord Zavere, the company’s contract is extended to investigate the ship. With two groups hiring them for the same thing, the characters head to the docks immediately. There they speak with a fisherman who says he saw people with purple and gold robes with big moustaches leaving the burning ship on a dingy. With a rented boat, they find the sunken wreckage of the ship about 80 feet down. The haul has been breached by sahaugin who bring shark allies, and a dangerous underwater fight ensues. A triton named QUILLONG and his dolphin ally join the fight and the enemies are defeated. However, Aelrich suffers a terrible shark bite and has to sit out the rest of the quest on the boat with Seanus.

Quillong explains that he is a scout from an underwater city far to the south. He has been watching the sahaugin in this area as they are the enemies of his people. He says the sahaugin have been taking loot from the ship to a nearby cave. He further explains the sahuagin serve a group of vampires called the Covenant of Blood, because of an ancient pact. The vampires used an item called the Horn of Blood to summon them to do their bidding. The company prepares for pursuit.

Next: Early, Aelrich, and Emeris pursue the sahaugin and learn the horrible fate of the smuggler’s daughter!

Episode V: Against the Rat God II (Junar 18-22)

Emeris encounters his old friend Aelrich, who was recently disowned by the famous Dalmorian family because of a curse placed on him by the dark god, demon of destruction Vazdah. Emeris tells him to join Darkwater. Having no other options, Aelrich agrees.

Plans are reviewed for handling the shivel shipment when it arrives. Darusa explains that the shipment is coming from Sallachor Isle, location of the largest local processing facility, was mysteriously attacked and wiped out. Darusa’s partner has salvaged this last shipment of the drug from the ruins of the island.

The next day Aelrich goes shopping for adventuring gear and Early buys firearms. Emeris retrieves the translated ledger from the orcish library. Most interesting is the fact that “Methul Watcher” hired Toridan for 200 gp to slay Phon and subcontract the job to someone else. They spend the rest of the day seeking information about this Methul Watcher, but find nothing—other than the fact that an eastern swordswoman was also asking about a man named Methul Watcher. Early takes this information to the Commissar’s office, suspecting a link between Methul Watcher and Gareth’s assassination. The Commissar’s men report the name to Judge Rahl. They also learn that Fabitor returns July 1 from the acolytes at St. Gustav’s.

That night at the docks, the ship carrying the ship goes up in flames and sinks into the harbour. The Darkwater group flees the scene and Darusa immediately disappears to do “damage control”.

The next day they investigate Methul Watcher and try to find the eastern woman, even renting out a room at an inn in the south market where the woman was spotted. All they are able to find out about her is that she asking about Methul Watcher, and a man with red eyes. Early receives a number of messages—Rahl writes to him that “There is no Methul Watcher.” The group suspects the government may be hiding something in this matter. Zanik, the contact with the Rat God Temple, also contacts him and sets up a meeting the following evening to work on the machine.

The next day the group attends the Republican rally where they see the range of public opinion about the group. Their leader charismatic, Helmut Itlstein, gives a rousing pro-democracy speech. Other speakers denounce the Empire’s taxation and its policy on secession. There Mand Scheben of the Temple of Ashe asks them to meet him at Castle Shard to help resolve a matter on June 23/

When night falls, the company goes to meet Zanik. Early and Aeldrich pose as machinist and assistant while Emeris and Dziga sneakily follow behind. Zanik is there with a few disguised ratmen cohorts. Zanik leads them to the entrance to the Temple but then one of the ratmen spots Emeris. A fight ensues that leaves the enemies dead in the alley. The heroes enter the temple of the rat god and find a hidden staircase underneath a disturbing rat idol. There they are ambushed by ratmen and dire rats in a narrow hallway, and faced a massive ratbrute that nearly finished the party. Both Early and Emeris went down, Aeldrich both kept his friends alive and finished the monster with a spell.

Next time: The heroes have discovered the Rat God’s secret domain. Can the defeat the enemies within?

Episode IV: Against the Rat God I

The characters enter the sewers and encounter DZIGA, a rogue who is searching for his girlfriend who was captured by ratmen the night before. The rogue followed the rats to their warren, but was driven back in his first attack as there were too many. They follow Dziga and find a rat burrow, where they battle dire rats, ratmen with swords and decrepit firearms, and a larger rat leader. They find Dziga’s girlfriend, MARIN, a dwarf commoner named GUILLORY who works at the docks, and ELDRIN the elf who is eager to leave town. Guillory suggests that a cleric-figure took prisoners to a temple of the rat god, rumoured to exist somewhere in the Temple District. He also says the shadowy cleric was accompanied by a massive ratbrute, most than 8 feet tall.

That night the new allies meet at the Ghostly Minstrel, to see Marin sing. Early meets the Company of the Blue Lantern, with RANDO the fighter, JARLO the cleric of the Holy Emperor, BURGER the Halfling rogue, and GANDORF the wizard. Early gets extremely drunk. They talk about their experience exploring the areas beneath the city, and GANDORF shares what little he knows of Jabel Shammar, and also shares a rumour that the Emperor appeared over the ocean near Mount Ordeals and there was a huge explosion.

The next day Early learns that Gareth was skilfully assassinated at his flat, and a Judge named RAHL is looking into it. They seek out Fabitor for information but the acolytes at St. Gustav’s explain is away on a mission. Emeris hires some orc sages to translate Toridan’s ledger. Additionally, Early meets the son of an armorer, ITUMAR, a young man who dreams of his own life of adventure some day. They also accompany Dan on a minor job for Darusa to deliver some devil’s flower to a wealthy fellow named BRANFORD who enjoys the prostitutes at the White House.

In addition to this, they learn of the general location of the Temple of the Rat God, somewhere near the Blessed Bridge, and hear rumors that the clergy there is seeking a machine expert. Early deceives a man into thinking he is a machinist and would like to work for the rat clergy…

Next: Can the characters infiltrate the Temple of the Rat God and defeat the forces of chaos there?

Episode III: Buried Secrets (Junar 16-17)

Emeris the draconic sorcerer and Early the Zeltennian fighter are very much interested in the access to the Skull King’s labyrinth they have found beneath the Graymont house, but it will have to wait as Emeris and Early are weary after their fight with the goblins. They visit ERYLL for the reward, although thankful he seems unconvinced there were no real ghosts. They learn the shivel ship is coming in on the evening of June 19.

They encounter Phil upon returning to Darkwater – he is off to the Cock Pit, an illegal den of gambling and arena fighting in the South Market. After he tells them he will be playing a game called Mrathrach at the White House in Oldtown that seems to favour the player. The White House is a gambling and prostitution establishment that sports a unique game called the Mrathrach Game. Emeris tags along to check out the game and analyzes it. It seems completely random and would favour the house. Nonetheless, people seem to win more than they should…

The next day the party returns to the Graymont house. There they discover one of the goblins, named GOBBER, has returned.

He was looking for his “claw”, which he claims belonged to a dragon. He seems indignant about the party’s elimination of the goblin infestation – the way he explains it, they were driven out of their “old house” by ratmen so they came to this “new house”. Gobber tells them that if they help him find his claw he will tell them where to find the ratmen’s “prisoners”. After finding the claw, Gobber leads them through a few passages in the labyrinth and shows them a breach in the ceiling that connects to the sewer. There they are attacked by ancient zombies who carry gold currency dated pre-Empire. Gobbo is killed in the fight. They are unsure of whether or not they can find their way back to the Graymont House, but the sewers – and possibly the ratmen of which Gobber spoke – lie above them…
Next time: The party encounters an ally against the ratmen! Can they save the prisoners of the Rat God’s forces?

Episode II: The Murderer's Trail / The Haunted House (Junar 12-16)

The characters return to Darkwater and discover that Darusa let Phon leave. She said her friend could take care of her better than they could, and he tells them she was several months pregnant. They have no idea where she went, but they are interested in whose child she carries and who her “friend” is.

They return to St. Gustav’s, and speak with Fabitor. He does not know where she is, but he tells them to investigate Vagger while he tries to identify Phon’s lover. They hear rumors of a “haunted house” and a reward available to those who vanquish the “spooks”.

A day of searching reveals that Vagger and Laucio often work for a half-orc named TORIDAN CRAN. They find Toridan and his goons, a human fighter and a human wizard who summoned a mini fire elemental at the first sign of trouble, in Toridan’s house. Upon defeat, Toridan refuses to reveal that he knows anything about the situation. Emeris kills everyone and the characters head back home. They plundered his home and took his ledger, with notes in orcish.

After one long night of searching for Phon, they encounter a despondent, inebriated cleric of the goddess of farming, DENEMEL. She lost her wafers at the Gatehouse Tavern and fears a demotion if she fails to bless part of the farmlands up north. Emeris thinks the woman is weak, but Early feels some sympathy and says he’ll ask around for her if he winds up in that area. Early also felt aggressive and reckless, and went into the Warrens and picked a fight with a Halfling rogue named Mervin, and a couple of warriors/thugs named Joe and Bob. After drawing first blood on Mervin, the trio assaulted Early and chased him out of the territory to an excited crowd of lowlifes.

Without any immediate leads on Toridan, they decided to check out the haunted house. The encountered a pathetic mob of goblins using cheap tactics to frighten people away. Although it was a dangerous battle against the frantic mob in which Emeris was knocked out cold, they killed or chased them all away. However, they discovered a deep passage of vastly different construction, heading deeper below the city.

Next time: The party finds a temporary goblin friend, and learns of ratmen who have human prisoners beneath the city.

Episode I: Welcome to the City by the Spire (Junar 10-13)

EMERIS the sorcerer/shadowcaster is a strange fellow with a mysterious past. His youth is a distorted memory, and he has a strange affinity for all things shadowy. He came to Elan, the great city, to find a place for himself in the world. He eventually meets with EARLY the former mercenary in the city. Early had served in the military forces of Zeltennia before coming a mercenary who fought from Gargaston to West Pyrna. He seems to have a fairly serious case of PTSD, using drugs and drinking a lot, and unsure of how to vent his frustrations in a healthy way. He has horrible memories of Gargastan insurgents summoning demons and despises such creatures.

Although a strange pair, they get along well and eventually find themselves working for the Darkwater Smugglers. Their boss is the skilled rogue DARUSA. Other members of the group include DAN (a master lockpicker), PHIL (not really sure what he does...), and HANS (runs the smuggler's front business). Business has been slow but Darusa is preparing for a huge shipment of shivel to come in which will give the group a good injection of funds.

Finding several aggravations in not being a citizen of the Empire, Early goes to the forgery expert MELON in the Undercity Market to obtain forged citizenship papers and a forged firearms permit. He later visits the Pale Tower, home of the celestial residents of the city of Elan, but he is sent away when it is determined he has no real business there.

Later, Emeris and Early are contacted by an old friend of Early named GARETH. He too is a former Vigoor mercenary who once worked with Early. He has recently taken a job as an administrator with the Commissar's office. He tells them he has been informed of a mysterious hit to be carried out on a seemingly mundane woman named PHON. Gareth asks them to find out who wants her dead and why.

They encounter an old man talking about seeing "blue gnolls", and they find a wanted poster for the dark elf SHILUKAR, posted by House Abbadar. They also hear of a Republican rally that is supposed to take place soon.

They find out little about Phon, asking at St. Gustav's Chapel (where they meet BROTHER FABITOR) and Santo's seamstress place where she works. Luckily, the manage to run into her...being assaulted by Pale Dog thugs who are clearly intending to murder her!

After a brief fight and a violent interrogation, Emeris and Early kill the hired murderers and drop the bodies down into the sewer. Using a clue found on one of the bodies, they find a note from someone named DOFFEL. They follow the lead to a warehouse where they battle the goon who hired the Pale Dogs, who is actually a guy named VAGGER who used a fake name and never intended to pay his boys. Emeris and Early fight Vagger and his henchman, a elf sniper named LAUCIO, and two dobermans. They find no evidence concerning the attempted murder -- their only lead is the identities of Vagger and Laucio.

Next time: The characters follow the trail of Phon's enemies!