Shades of Grey

Really we can't held responsible for this....can we?

Oolog had to depart the group to see to an urgent personal matter but promised he would meet up with the rest of the party as soon as he could. As the rest of the group recuperated from their recent foray into the blocks at the monastery of the Smiling Horizon they helped them selves to the monks collection of items that the monks had taken from the mages that their order had hunted down over the years. Most of the group helped themselves to better armor while Gerran took an ornate ring. Ike amazed both the group and the monks with his ability to negotiate and acquired a very nice item. With their business concluded they said their goodbyes to the monks and left the monastery to greet the day and were shocked to see a detachment from the Redwatch waiting outside the entrance. They asked the group to politely come with them to see their captain. Lane was greeted warmly by the guards, the rest of the party was more cooly received, especially Ike who some referred to as the crazy hermit from beyond the city walls. Some members of the group were more hesitant to trust the Redwatch, it was only a short while ago that Redwatch impersonators under the employ of the Syndicate had nearly killed them.

They were not left with much choice as a fight against a detachment of this size outside of the monastery would draw unwanted attachment, however when they were not asked to hand over the weapons or armor. The party grew more at ease as they were lead to the small fortress that served as the headquarters for the Redwatch, that had been earned the name the barracks. They were lead further into the small fortress until they reached a vacant office and their guides departed. After a few moments of waiting a half orc entered the office wearing very nice armor complete with a matching scarlet cape. He introduced himself as Gorel Ogren and he was the Redwatch Guard Captain for the Blocks and he was very upset over the series of events that had taken place in the past day. He apologized for having the group wait as he was busy investigating the apparent destruction of a warehouse and several homicides and addressed the party, “There are a lot of things that pass for normal in the Block, having a heavily armed group of individuals charge into a building, then having said building burst into fire, and then the same group of individuals leaves said burning warehouse leading several other individuals to the Smiling Horizon Monastery. Well if makes one wonder what it was that just took place? Would anyone care to explain to the Guard Captain of the Blocks what it was that just took place!” He practically roared.

“It’s a long story Guard Captain Ogren and we would not want to take up you valuable time.” Alcher began.

“No please, take as long as you need, I have cleared my schedule so we will have plenty of time to chat all about what took place, and I mean everything that took place.” He replied with forced courtesy.

Wanting to explain what happened but not the full extent of their involvement with covering up the involvement of a newly made noble in the kidnapping of a child from the monastery. Alcher skillfully threaded an edited version of their recent exploits, with Gerran adding relevant facts in a nonchalant manner, “It was the flying mage that cast the fireball that lit the building on fire not us. And when a monk of the Smiling Horizon asks for help it would be impolite to turn him down.” After listening to Alcher’s rendition of events Ogren wasn’t happy but he seemed at least not outright angry anymore…at least that was what the gnome thought. Ogren stood up and faced the party before speaking in slow deliberate manner that left no doubt to his opinion of their story.

“So instead of contacting the legal authority in the area the six of you choose instead to put the child at risk with some half baked assault that could easily have ended with all of you dead. Do you think we are so incompetent that we can not take down a Cartel safe house!”

“Time was a issues and we were not sure who to trust.” Lane stated.

“You didn’t trust anyone and you are lucky that the fire was limited to only the one building and that the whole neighborhood did not go up in flames or I would not be so lenient!” Ogren replied.

“What do you mean lenient? “So are we free to go then”” Alcher asked with a look of confusion on his face. The same confused look was on his comrades faces.

Ogren’s face had lost any hint of anger and there was barely a hint of a smile on his face, “I didn’t say that. What I am saying is that from time to time things need to be done and that the Redwatch cannot be seen doing it, and when that time comes you will be doing it for me. Otherwise I will make your lives very difficult in this city. And by all the gods the next time you don’t know who to trust in the Redwatch talk to an officer, they’re usually nobles that don’t know the first thing about taking bribes or are insulted by the amount offered!”

The party quickly agreed with the terms laid down by the Guard Captain and quickly made their way out of the office and back to the entrance of the Barracks. While they were moving with a purpose something caught their attention, Gerran and Alcher noticed an odd pair of wooden statues that were in the common area of the fortress. They both recognized them from their time in the sunken city as being the wooden golems that had guarded Charnry’s family estate. A lounging guardsman told them that they had been dropped off a few days ago and that there were more of them around the city. Those in the group that realized what this meant were in full panic mood and with Gerran and Alcher in the lead they sought their old friend Charney to ask him about the golems.

It took only a short while for the group to learn that Chaney was currently at the Alabaster Court, seat of government of Redwater located at the very center of the Guilded Ward. As the party made their way there Ike and Miria parted ways to procure something but promised to meet up with them shortly and they made their way to Grahm’s Imports. As they browsed the overpriced wares Ike became convinced the Land of Land needed a national bird and he began haggling with the half elf working the counter owner to purchase a parrot. The worker introduced himself as Grahm Arumholm, the owner of the store and that it would take three days for him to procure such a rare bird and he would send word when it arrived. Their business concluded Ike and Miria set off to rejoin the group.

Charney was finishing up settling the details of his new life and was busy talking to a clerk when the party arrived. He had obviously been doing quite well for himself as was evident by his new clothing, after a few moments of chatting with the clerk he caught sight of the party and motioned for them to join him at a nearby table and warmly greeted them. “My dear friends, fear not I do not forget those that helped me so much. Tell me what can I do for you.”

“We came to talk to you about those.” Gerran stated pointing to a nearby wooden statue.

Charney turned to look at the direction Gerran was pointing and plainly remarked, “It is just a statue.”

“Try looking a little closer.” Gerran replied.

Charney stared at it for a moment and then as if seeing it for the first time immediately sat down motioning for the party to come closer. “Tell me that those are not what I think they are.”

“We think they are.” Alcher replied.

“Did you sell anything that might have controlled them while you were making your new life?” Gerran ask.

“No, nothing of the sort.” He replied, and then after taking a breath to steady himself began speaking, “You have to understand that half the nobles don’t like new blood coming into the city claiming rights that haven’t been used in almost a century. To be accepted I had to sell my rights to the my family’s estate to be accepted here.”

“Who did you sell it to?” Gerran pressed.

“I don’t know, the sale was handled by an intermediately and with everything going on I don’t recall it, but we could talk to a clerk and easily find out.” A short while they had found someone with the proper knowledge of red tape and bureaucracy and discovered the name of the intermediary, Tomwise Paval.

The moment Charney mentioned the name Gerran slumped into his chair and muttered, “I know that name, he owns Pavel’s Restaurant and is involved with the Syndicate.”

“Now before you mentioned that I was going to put out some feelers and try to figure out who is involved but now that you said that he is with the Syndicate I am not. You do not ask questions about the Syndicate.”

“Charney you know that the Syndicate is planning something big and the golems are a part of it. Is there anything you can think of to help us?” Lane asked.

Charney weighed his options, he had a new life now free from his past, but he owed everything to the people sitting around the table. He made his choice and began to speak, “The only group that could have handled that much cargo out of the sunken city would have to the Chartered Company. They might now more about how many statues they brought to the city. All I know about the golems was that they would not attack family and I have no idea how they are controlled. Now if you excuse me I need to get my blades and bow out of storage.”

“Charney you should hire some guards, at least one bodyguard.” Lane stated.

“I took on four you all by myself and this time I will know that someone is coming to get me.” He said with just a hint of arrogance and walked away from the group.

The group departed with all due haste and made their way to the Chartered Company compound to discuss matters with Mukwan. They made the trip across the ward in record time while discussing their plan as it was. Of the party Alcher had the best relationship with Mukwan and he also had ties as a member of the Merchants Guild, he would take point in their discussion. Only a few moments after their arrival at the compound Mukwan came out personally to greet them and lead them inside to his office and had them sit around a small yet ornate table, other small trinkets had appeared since their last visit. The half orc had done very well for himself thanks to the party’s help and they were hoping to leverage that goodwill now.

Once the door was closed Alcher began speaking, “My friend we are here on an urgent manner and we need your help. We believe that the Chartered Company has information that we need access to…”

Mukwan stopped the conversation with a gently raised hand and calmly stated, “My friends, you have helped in the past but I cannot pass along any information about our dealings with outsiders. You must understand that it is simply not done.”

“Normally I would agree with you my friend but this is a most urgent need and I fear there are dire consequences if you do not aid us. Alcher replied.

The half orc rose and glared down the gnome, “Are you threatening me?”

Alcher remained calm and spoke a simple word, “Pavel.”

A look of surprise was plainly on his face, “What do you think we have done?”

“I think my friend that Tomwise Pavel used your organization to transport a large number of inert wood golems from the sunken city into Redwater.”

Mukwan burst into laughter, “Oh you almost had me there, wooden golems that is a good one. My friends the statues that you have seen around the city are a beautification effort by the Merchants Council. There is nothing sinister about them.”

Alcher was unfazed by the new information and replied, “You know us my friend, we do not boast idly, you saw the remains of the dragon we slew in the fens. The dragon’s chuul minions were unable to gain admittance to a building guarded by statues that looked exactly the same like the ones that are around the city. Tell me did the chartered company conduct a recent expedition into the fens?”

“No the last time any of my employees went into the fens it was you and Gerran. We only went near recently and never in…” Mukwan suddenly paused and stared at the group. Alcher could tell that he was wrestling with an internal struggle. The half orc took a deep breath and exhaled slowly before sitting down and speaking again, “There was a shipment that we received east of the fens recently, just a transfer of goods that I was told was from the Orecrusher Dwarves to be brought to Redwater, but the shipments were in crates already sealed, and there were no dwarves only human guards. You are sure that Tomwise Pavel is involved with this?”

Alcher removed a small piece of parchment from his duffle and passed it to Mukwan, “It took a very knowledgable clerk but this document notes him as the intermediately who arranged for the sale of the estate guarded by the golems. We are still looking for the buyer…”

Mukwan grumbled, “Don’t waste your time, I know Pavel, you’ll be chasing second and third hand parties until you find the original buyer has died and left his holding to an obscure cousin who lives in a city far away. If these are what they say they are I am truly sorry my friends I had no idea what we transported into the city. I trust my actions have not tarnished our relations.”

“No, thank you my friend for trusting us and helping us, now we know that they are indeed from the fens” Alcher replied. They each shook hands and the group left the compound for separate destinations, Lane set off for the Barracks to meet with Guard Captain Ogren, Gerran set off for the Eagle’s Nest to warn Nessa, and the remainder set off to locate where the golems were located. They agreed to meet up in several hours and compare notes as to what they had learned.

Lane made her way back to the Barracks and following Ogren’s advice she found a lieutenant who lead her to the Guard Captain’s office. He was surprised to see her soon and Lane began to tell him what the party had discovered about the wood golems located around the city and their likely origin. He took it in stride and laughed at the absurdity of the wooden golems.

“They’re part of a city beautification project, so they resemble some statues that you saw in the fens. It is not to unrealistic for people to copy their predecessors works.”

“Who paid for the beautification project?” Lane asked.

“Why the Merchants Council of course.” Ogre replied.

Lane then informed him purchase of the estate where they were originally located, the role they performed, and Tomwise Pavels connection to the entire affair. That he did not take so well.

“I’m calling in the favor, no burned down buildings, no fights in the streets, find Pavel alive and find out what the bloody hell the Syndicate is up to. Then you come to me directly. Is that understood Lady Lane.” His tone left it clear it was more a command then a request.

“Yes Guard Captain, I will meet with the rest of my comrades and conduct our investigation.” Lane replied, and swiftly made her way back to the rendezous point, but as she left he barracks she could not help but look at the pair of wooden statues and suppressed a shudder at the thought of the carnage that even a pair could cause. Maybe it was her imagination but she swore that one of them moved its mouth as if to sneer at her as she departed.

Around the same time Lane was having her conversation at the Barracks, Gerran had made his way to the Eagle’s Nest in the Artisian Ward in search of Nessa. Along the way he saw more and more of the statues, some were located on street corners while others were next to various buildings: the Forge, Helm’s Anvil, and The Eagles Nest. Gerran had to pass a pair of the statues at the main entrance and he was prepared to unleash his most powerful spells at the slightest movement but they remained inert. He entered the bar to find it was mostly empty save for Angel the bartender. Gerran did not even need to ask and Angel pointed to one of the side rooms and there he found Nessa sitting at a table consulting some scrolls. She caught sight of Gerran and invited him to join her table, she seemed to be in such a good mood…a pity that Gerran was going to end it.

Nessa, have you noticed the wooden statues around the wards recently?

“You mean the city beautification project? Well as long as the Syndicate is wasting their money on statues and not making my life miserable I don’t mind the eyesores.” She replied.

“What if they weren’t just statues?” Gerran stated

“What do you mean?” She asked confused.

Gerran told her of his adventures  with his comrades in the Sunken City and the Fens and the origins of the statues, their investigation that lead to the Chartered Company which lead to a large shipment from near the Fens that allegedly been from the Orecrusher mountains but it was a poor drop off point. Then he told her the latest piece of information, “It was Tomwise Paval that that arranged for the sale of the estate.” Nessa nearly snapped the quill in her hand at the mention of his name, Gerran paused for a moment and then continued,” Either they brokered the deal for a third party to have the golems but since they are part of a beautification project I think it is safe to say who is in control.”

Nessa set the broken quill aside and let out a sigh, “I had hoped that the Syndicate had decided to leave me along, but it seems that is not the case. Well thank you for the information it would seem that things are going to get very interesting around here, you will keep me informed as to what you find out?”

“Of course Nessa. Stay safe. Now if you will excuse I need to meet up with my comrades but first I think I need a drink.” he replied.

“After what you just told me Gerran I could use one as well.” The two made their way to the bar and Angel already had two drinks ready.

“These will calm the nerves but not dull the reflexes.” Angel replied.

“Many thanks.” Gerran replied. He savored the drink for a moment before setting the empty glass down and saying his goodbyes to Nessa and Angel. As he walked past the statues he thought for a moment about all that had transpired in the past few days and whispered to himself, “Either a master of fate or a servant of fate. Such a simple yet a difficult choice.” He had made his decision a long time ago and set off to rejoin his comrades.

While Lane and Gerran were sharing their information with trusted parties the rest of the group was going on an impromptu tour of the wards as they tried to determine the number of golems in the city. They limited their search to inner wards and thankfully Ike was behaving like Ike marveling at anything and everything no one would guess they were conducting reconnaissance of the inner wards. Over the course of several hours they crossed the heart of the city searching the Midmarket, Artisian, and Guilded wards. Their final tally came out to be around 30 wooden statues located at various points through those wards, the had no time to search the rest of the city and reasoned the Syndicate would want to keep them in areas they controlled.

It was a somber group that met after their various activities, Lane told them of the Guard Captain order to find out what it was that was going on and that Paval was not to be killed. Gerran told them that he had informed Nessa of the situation so she would not be caught unaware. Alcher then filled Gerran and lane about their sightseeing trip and their discoveries, they were both taken back by the number of golems in the city. They discussed how to proceed and while Gerran knew where to find Pavel, he operated a restaurant called Pavel’s. It would be suicide to approach him on his home turf, Ike was let down by this and swore he could make a door that would get them inside. Alcher had an idea, they would contact the syndicate through the Merchant’s Guild and tell them they knew where to procure more wood golems. It was risky plan but far easier then storming the fancy restaurant that Tomwise Paval operated.

A short time later they arrived at Grahm’s Imports a building well known to: Alcher, Gerran, Lane, and Oolog. It was hear that they had received and refused an offer to kill Nessa from the Syndicate. They were shocked to learn that Miria and Ike were familiar with it as well. Miria explained that Ike was set on purchasing a bird that this was the best place to purchase one.

“I will name him Winter, and then I every time I see him flying towards me I will explain, ‘Winter is coming!’.” Ike explained. The rest of the party was used to his somewhat lax grasp on logic and were not to surprised.
The party had agreed that Alcher stood the best chance to gaining any information from took took over as lead negotiator and as the entered the building Alcher quickly made his way over to the counter to speak with the owner of Grahm’s Imports, Grahm Arumholm. Who was not only president of the Merchant’s Guild but also a member of the Syndicate. The two went back and forth dueling with words as Alcher hinted that he knew of the purpose of the statues and that he wanted to speak to Tomwise Pavel about additional statues that he might be interest in. Grahm hinted that the Merchant’s Council was always looking for donations to help with the city beautification project. After several minutes of back and forth diplomacy Grahm invited the party to see the building where the statues were made and if the could offer any help. Alcher said thank you and that he and his friends would be there shortly to see the operation.

The moment the were all outside of Grahm’s Imports Gerran commented to Alcher, “So we’re walking to a trap then?”

“Of course my friend, I think it is safe to say that OperationBullseye was a complete success, now then all we have to do is to get the information out of Pavel with out us killing him or any of us dying in the process.”

“Sounds simple enough.” Lane replied.

It was only a few minutes journey till they reached the warehouse that Grahm had mentioned, Alcher knocked on the door and they swung open easily. They easily caught sight of a well dressed man some distance away from them along with several human workers, and four wooden statues in the center of the warehouse.

The well dressed stranger addressed the party, “ I heard that you wanted to see me, well here I am. Thank you for everything that you have done to aid my goals. Guards kill them.!” Four syndicate guards wielding bastard swords and the golems charged the party.

Instantly battle was joined, as the party formed a circle near the entrance and fought off the efforts of Syndicate enforcers and wooden golems alike. Ike broke free and charged to engage Pavel in single combat taking several thrown poisoned daggers to the chest courtesy of Pavel. The poison had no affect on Ike. Seeing the madman with the sword charing their leader one of the guards and golems moved to assist Pavel. The rest of the party fought back to back against their foes.

Lane was able to channel her gods favor into her weapon making it a golem bane weapon and struck down the wooden soldier, Alcher let loose with a barrage of alchemical explosions, Gerran was hemmed him and while able to keep the enemy off his comrades was unable to strike them down. Miria has rushed out of the brutal melee to keep Ike alive as he was fighting Pavel, a syndicate guard, and a wooden golem. She was also able to cast a spell at Pavel that blinded him and made him glow, unfortunately that was also when Ike nearly cut him in half with a brutal blow. Miria quickly healed Pavel enough so he would not die and rushed back to the party as Ike faced down the last two foes.

The rest of the party soon discovered that the wood golems had more then one method of attack, they could launch a brutal volley of wooden shrapnel. The party suffered greatly at the barrage and if not for Miria they would have died from the multiple barrages. Pavel was not so lucky as the golem let loose a barrage that struck Pavel as well as Ike, and while Ike laughed off the damage Pavel was killed instantly. With a scream of rage Ike finished the golem and the syndicate guard with a single blow and raced to aid his comrades. After a few more moments of combat the last golem and the syndicated guards were dead. Miria saw to their wounds and Gerran and Alcher went to examine Pavel’s body in hopes of finding any clues as to what was planned. They were not to shocked to see an Illusionary spell fading and soon Pavel was revealed to not be Pavel. Lane set off to get Guard Captain Ogren while the rest of the group secured the warehouse.

It was sometime before they returned and the party finished healing and kept guard inside the warehouse. Guard Captain Ogren looked over the scene and inspected the dead syndicate guards along with their weapons and armor. He then moved onto the remains of the wood golems. He addressed the party, “Well I said not to kill Pavel, not to start and fights in the streets, and not to burn any buildings down. Congratulations on following orders.” He tossed a pouch at Lane, “We keep an account on the side for discretionary spending, A shame that some other party took all the nice weapons and armor these guards are wearing before I got here. They were probably worth a fair bit of coin.”

“What are you going to do now that you know what is going on?” Alcher asked.

“Well we still don’t know what the Syndicate is up to, it could be anything from outright control of the city to a way to protect their interests. Either way I am getting my guards outfitted with some flasks of alchemist fire.” Ogren replied.

“I might be able to help with that.” Alcher replied grinning.

“Good to hear. Now keep looking into this and keep me informed, now get out of here before I call in the Redwatch to secure the scene.” Ogren replied.

The party made their way away from the warehouse and thanks to Miria’s diplomacy were able to make a tidy profit from the arms and armor of the dead guards. The party knew that the Syndicate would soon find out that their attempt to ambush the party in the warehouse failed and that they best be ready for them. Gerran definitely wanted to procure some golem bane weapons for future encounters.

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No plan survives contact with "King" Ike

Based on the information received form soon to be “Lord” Charney, the group spent their hard earned rewards upgrading their gear and receiving beneficial gifts from an unknown party. Ike received fancy pantaloons that through mysterious arcane forces improved his diplomacy, Alcher received a large blanket, large enough to cover his entire cart, it was only through trial and error did he realize that is provided almost perfect magical camouflage to whomever or whatever the blanket was placed on top of. Oolog was pleased to discover that his gift was a magical mug that on command would fill with whatever alcohol he desired. Gerran was more then pleased with a scabbard that held an unknown enchantment. Lane was quite impressed with her own gift, an item that greatly enhanced her ability to channel divine healing. Miria was bursting with joy for the elaborate lyre case that had been gifted to her, and was intrigued by the inscription in celestial upon that case. It read, “Loved the music, see you soon.”

The group freshly outfitted set off for Falcon’s Nest to speak with Nessa about their situation and recruit some of her mercenaries to do some recon of the suspected house where the child was being held. She agreed to do so but asked about how dangerous it would be, to which Gerran replied, “The house would not be dangerous at all…what is inside the house that might be dangerous.” Nessa thought about it for a moment and was getting ready to haggle a price when Gerran offered a favor instead. To which Nessa eagerly agreed. She dispatched two men to keep watch on the building and report back. As they waited for their report the group threw ideas back and forth as to how to conduct their raid, eventually they settled into two camps team melee and team not melee. Team melee consisted of: Ike, Lane, and Oolog favored a strike hard strike fast approach.

The mercs that Nessa had sent to scout out the building returned the following day and described the building as a large two story building with several windows and only one entrance. There was also some type of enchantment, but it was beyond their ability to determine its properties. Gerran argued for a magical insertion and extraction into the building and Alcher volunteered to take a closer look at the building and the group set off for the area and found a suitable abandoned and prepared for their own surveillance. Alcher drank a combination of his potions and vanished from sight, he returned several moments later and described the interior of the building from the upper windows and that a password, ironically enough it was “password”, was necessary to enter the building. Gerran argued that he could use a dimensional door spell to enter the building based on the description that Alcher had given. The gnome reminded him that they still did not know the purpose of the enchantment that the mercenaries had described. Gerran observed the building and after several moments he began cursing harshly. The building had a forbearance ward. He explained it nullified all means of magical travel and messaging into and out of the building, and unless one were to know the proper pass phrase it would cause severe damage to anyone even entering the building.

Miria offered another option, she would approach the building with Alcher and Gerran, who had hte ability to turn themselves invisible, and pass herself off as an entertainer. Once inside the building she would distract any guards while the pair of Gerran and Alcher would cause as much disruption as possible and open the door letting the rest of the party into the building. Ike was against the plan and simply wanted the party to blast a hole in the wall and he would then lead the party in through the smoking hole, he also offered to retrieve the dragon skull from his hut and wear it into battle to intimidate the enemy…this plan was refused by the party. Miria further offered to disguise the party members using her disguise kit to minimize any potential blowback from the cartel. Once she had finished the disguises she set off for the cartel safe house accompanied by Gerran and Alcher.

Miria told Ike, Oolog, and Lane to wait for the signal before they charged the building. When asked by Oolog what the signal was she replied, “You will know it when you see it.” She then set off with the invisible duo of Alcher and Gerran for the Cartel safe house. They arrived at the door and each stated the password, though Gerran and Alcher whispered it so not as to be noticed, invisible they might be but past incidents had proven that was not a guarantee of safety. They were shocked however when they crossed the threshold of the building only to find a short hallway that lead to another sturdier door with a pair of eyes staring at Miria through a small window. A deep voice demanded to know what her business was here.

She replied plainly, “It is my business to be here.”

“Well what type of business you in?” The voice was confused about her lack of intimidation.

“Why entertainment silly.” Miria retorted.

“What type of entertainment?” He demanded.

“Musical of course.” She replied as she lifted up her musical case. “Now I’m being paid to perform now please step aside and let me.” The window shut and there was a sound of many sliding locks as the door swung inward to allow her entrance. Gerran and Alcher had to quickly squeeze past before the door shut and they finally caught sight of the heavily armed and armored door guard.

“Keep walking down the hallway till you reach the common area, you can play there.” He commanded then he turned his attention back to guarding the door.

Miria confidently walked down the central hall way ignoring the shorter hall ways which ran to the left and rightwhile. Alcher and Gerran followed close behind and listened at the doors they passed, the central hallway had two doors on the right side and a single door on the left. Alcher was certain that he heard snoring from the first door on the right but Gerran heard nothing from the second door on the right. The moment That Miria entered the common area that took up almost half of the building she began to play her lyre and instantly she was the target of all of the guards interest save for the lone female guard who eyed her with instant hatred.Soon all of the guards clustered around Miria to listen to her music, or to stab her in the case of the angry guard. Alcher could not pass up this opportunity and lobbed one of his more potent explosives at the group, after taking careful aim to miss Miria. The explosive blast stunned the group of guards and prevented the lone angry guard from stabbing Miria in the back. Miria’s performance also had the unintended consequence of having several guards surround her to protect her from the now revealed pyromaniac gnome.

Alcher drank another potion that reduced his size making him harder to hit and began preparing another barrage of explosives, before he could however the door guard charged in to attack him, however to get to Alcher he ran right past the still invisible Gerran who attacked him with both blade and spell. Alcher finished him off with another explosive but the guards in the common room were now charging off to fight the invaders in order to keep Miria safe from harm. Gerran and Alcher bother rolled their eyes at their war cries. It would take a few moments for them to reach Alcher so Gerran ran back to open the inner door and admit the melee fighters. A sound tactic but Ike, Lane, and Oolog were already charging the door and by the time Gerran was ready to open it they were hacking away at it with their weapons. The door exploded inward off its hinges and nearly impaled Gerran, who was then nearly run over by a charging Ike and Oolog who sprinted down the hallway to enter the fray. Lane chose to turn down the side hallways and search for the captive child that had brought them there.

Alcher was having a fun time narrowly avoiding the blades of the guards while setting them on fire or attempting to until a lucky strike caught his arm and suddenly his aim became atrocious as he nearly blew himself up and his next several attempts landed horribly off target. Oolog was soon there to defend him and was striking mighty blows until a sickly green colored ray struck him, a cloaked figured had appeared on the balcony above the common room and had a perfect line of sight down the hallway. Alcher was not about to let this last and lobbed a potent explosive at him…only for it to wind horribly off target. Ike was the next target of the cloaked figure as a blast of energy robbed him of sight. Oolog began screaming out the location of foes to Ike while he was trying to defend Alcher, and so good were the directions that Ike proclaimed, “Ike did not need to see to kill his foes!”

Gerran had finally reorientated himself after being nearly stampeded by his comrades and moved up the hallway, avoiding Ike’s maniacal sword swings and began to target the enemy spell caster. Ike was momentarily free from enemies until the door nearest to him swung upon and a scantily clad warrior charged out to attack him, despite her lack of dress she was very competent with her blade and wounded Ike severely until Oolog was able to yell out her precise location to the recently blind swordsman. Just as she fell dead the entire hallway was consumed in a fiery explosion, the loss of so many of the cartel’s minions had apparently caused the mage to use his more destructive spells. Of the four in the hallway Ike was the last affected he quickly rose and boasted of his constitution…to the wall. He did not realize as he stood up he was now talking to the wall and not the party. Oologs beard, no his entire body was singed and smoking. Alcher and Gerran hadn’t taken the full force of the blast, but they were hurt by it.

Lane at the time of the explosion was frantically running down the side hallways searching for a holding area, She had searched the right passageway and the left passageway to no avail. She was preparing to rejoin her comrades when she had a brilliant yet unconventional idea, she tested the inner wall of the hallway and upon examination that she was sure it was only wood she backed up and bull rushed the wall to break into the next room. She succeeded and when the dust and smoke cleared she found herself in an unoccupied prison cell with several other captives in adjacent cells. She triumphantly announced she would be right back and exited through her newly made entrance. Miria had slinked away from her mob of bodyguards and was biding her time trying to make her way to rejoin her comrades but the female guard had not forgotten her. She either suspected Miria’s role in the battle or just disliked her. She was not going to pass up this opportunity to take her out, thankfully she was not a very good swordswoman as her repeated attacks failed and Miria was able to cast sanctuary protecting her from further attacks from her assailant.

Gerran opened the lone door on the left side of the hallway to get out of the mages kill zone discovered the cells and was attacked by a pair of cartel jailers. He was hard pressed to fight them both as they kept him flanked and forced him to divide his attention between the two. Just as things started to look dire for him, Lane charged into the room and more then evened the odds. A few short moments the pair of jailers fell and Gerran watched in amazed as his wounds mysteriously healed, he looked to Miria who had a puzzled look on her face as well. He realized a moment later that Miria must have finally gotten close enough to heal them, just as he made the realization he head Miria scream, leaving Lane to see to the prisoners he ran back out into the hallway. The scene outside was pure chaos, most of the balcony, the ceiling, and the hallway were the fighting was taking place was on fire. A dwindling number of Cartel enforcers were holding the bottleneck of the hallway fending off Oolog and the still blind Ike but the enforcers were bolstered by a new arrival wearing heavy armor and chasing after Miria. The mage had abandoned the balcony and instead was flying above the common room firing spells at Oolog, Alcher and Ike. “Show off.” Gerran dryly remarked and channeled his more powerful offensive spells at the flying target and struck him with a pair of scorching rays.

The damage from the spell and the state of the battle was to much for the mage and he frantically bolted for the entrance, unfortunately he had to fly right past Oolog and Gerran…his corpse skidded to a stop after a final blow from Gerran. The enforcers defensive line finally fell apart before Oolog and Ike. The heavily armored enforcer demanded parlay and was granted. Ike, facing the wall again demanded that they swear fealty to Land! Thankfully Lane appeared leading the prisoners out of the room and Alcher addressed the surviving cartel members, “The building is on fire, what say you let us leave and we let you leave.” They agreed and the party with the newly freed prisoners in tow set off for the Order of the Smiling Horizon monastery with the missing child in tow. The cartel members were left to salvage what they could from the burning safe house and did not pursue.

Gerran was still worried, their disguises were good but between their growing reputation and Ike’s mannerisms he was not sure how long it would be for the cartel to figure out who it was that attacked them. Well with luck they would assume it was a Syndicate team or outsiders hired by the Smiling Horizon, still it would not hurt to start some rumors about a team of outsiders hired by the monks take care of their problem. A group that left the next day guarding a Chartered Company shipment to Fort Egret. Yes, that would do nicely.

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We still haven't found what we're looking for....yet

The battle had drained the party and had very nearly reduced Ike to a chew toy but they all agreed to continue the search for Charney’s possessions. It was a task that the group was ill suited for, they lacked any type of divination magic and were forced to rely on Charney’s fragmented memory of his traumatic abduction. He remembered being dragged underwater, his stay in the cave carved out of the dam, and a large pile of rocks stacked one on top of the other. Gerran identified it as a cairn of some sort and Alcher was able to deduce that it must be located on the western edge of the fens as they had traveled the length of the eastern shore and seen no cairns. The problem was there were now on the eastern side of the dam and would have to cross it again. Ike offered to let the party rest in his pavilion for the night and set off the next morning for the cairn, Lane and Oolog offered to keep watch and guard the camp site while they set off the next morning.

Ike, Miria, Charney, Alcher, and Gerran set off in the morning relying upon Miria’s magic to cross the chasm between the broken halves of the dam and set off following the western shore of the fens. The countryside became more and more rocky as they traveled and by midday they came upon a large cairn dominating the landscape, Charney was convinced that this was the place from his memories. The group spread out searching the area and soon discovered large clawed footprints easily visible upon the soil leading to the nearby shore before vanishing into the swamp. Miria and Alcher also discovered the presence of a large sinkhole near the cairn, they quickly deduced that there was a large chamber beneath the surface. As they pondered their next course of action Ike jumped into the sinkhole and began to dig, eagerly shoveling the soil out of the sinkhole and refused to be swayed by any attempts to dissuade him from his plan. “Ike doesn’t need logic!”

Charney was completely bewildered by Ike’s actions and sought out Gerran and Alcher demanding an explanation just to who it was they were working with. Alcher explained how they met in the fens and their connection to Odar and that Ike was really the source behind all of the stories involving a eccentric but mighty warrior who lived outside of Redwater. Charney took a moment to process this new kernel of information about their new companion and compared it with the notorious stories that he had heard in the taverns of the quay and the blocks. he glanced back at Ike who was joyfully digging away with the black dragons severed head resting on his own and now whistling a tune. “I can’t believe that he is actually real.” He remarked.

“Neither can we.” Gerran and Alcher remarked simultaneously.

As the trio were discussing matters Miria grew curious and began to make her way stealthily tolisten to their conversation, but alas was unable to hear any of it. Charney set off to relax for a short break while Gerran and Alcher tried to come up with an alternative to using Ike to reach the cavern below. It was then that everyone in the area began to hear a lovely melody as Miria began to play her harp, it was done with such skill and grace that even Ike stopped his single minded digging to listen and when she finally finished her impromptu concert everyone noticed a lone figure walking towards them from the west.

He announced himself to be a druid from a settlement of the Amber glow elves who lived to the northwest along the fens om a region called the Amber Glow, due to the odd phosphorescent nature of the area. As he came closer it was easy to see that he was an elf and that it was plain to see that he would be handle himself in a fight. Miria asked what brought him so far from his home and he explained that he was investigating rumors of odd beasts in the fens. Alcher quickly spun a tale of their exploits, at first he was not convinced but then he caught sight of Ike’s odd choice in hat-wear and was convinced. He was grateful for what they had done and how they had indirectly aided his people against the dangers of the area and offered to help them in some way for their actions.

Alcher noted that they had not been able to find the dragon’s lair but that he was fairly convinced that it had an underwater entrance to it based on the information he had uncovered and the large footprints leading to the the edge of the swamp. The druid eagerly agreed to help and after rousing Ike from his hole cast water breathing upon the party and wished them well before departing back to join his people and inform them of the death of the dragon and sever other worrisome monsters.

Gerran cast light on Ike’s sword to provide illumination underwater and trying not to think of what they would be walking through and swimming through they entered the swamp. After a short journey under the surface of the swamp they came across a large tunnel that lead deep underground. and eventually opened into a large pocket of air in a cavern. They surmised by their movements that they were almost directly under the cairn by about 50 feet or so, as Ike’s sword illuminated more of the cavern they found a sizable collection of wealth and more importantly Charney’s pants and other clothes. There were several items that were not from the estate which the party helped themselves to as well as a mysterious orb that Gerran nor Alcher could identify. Miria and Ike claimed it as the thing that they were sent to retrieve by Odar and substantially wealthier and now with Charney no longer wearing a dress they set off for their camp and eventually back to Redwater.

The group reunited with Lane and Oolog at camp and set off for the return trip to Redwater, the trip was surprisingly pleasant with nothing happening on their return to Redwater. As they neared the gates Charney thanked the party for all that they had done for him and wished them well as he would have to take care of his affairs regarding his rights as a noble and settling himself into this new life…before he left though he suggested that they party pay a visit to a certain house in the blocks. “There might be someone there that they were looking for.” he remarked before entering the city.

Exhausted from their time in the Fens the group scattered but agree to meet up in a few days after they had taken care of their various matters and some R & R. Miria and Ike set off to see Odar and presented them with the orb, and the tale behind the recovery of it. To which he was incredibly excited and even more so when he was told that they had been unable to identify it. Odar carefully spent several minutes examining it before bursting out in joyous laughter. Ike and Miria quickly asked what the orb was, and Odar’s reply was, “I have no idea! This is perftect!” He then rewarded them most generously.

Gerran and Alcher set off for the Chartered Company compound and sought out Mok Wan to procure a wagon and tanner for a return trip to the fens to harvest the scales from the black dragon and then sell them. The trip there and back was boring and much appreciated after their previous time in the Fens and after a few days were back in Redwater selling the scales except for a few they kept for themselves. Alcher was content with a single large scale that he plans for making into an eyepatch while Gerran comissioned a scabbard for his blade. They both set off for the Eagle’s Nest to enjoy a nice beverage and then meet up with the rest of the party.

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We're going to need a bigger floating disc!

Regrouping at their camp the party quickly decided to set out for the remnants of the dam that was located to the southwest, it was the only structure large enough to serve as a possible lair for the dragon and the likely location of Charney. It was not possible to travel directly to the dam because of the fens, they decided to skirt the eastern edge until they reached higher ground and then move onto the dam. Rommel would remain on guard at their camp while they pressed on what they hoped to be a simple search and rescue. It would take most of the day before they emerged from the fens onto solid ground and began to see the remnants of the dam, the center had been washed away leaving a gap of over a hundred feet. As they made their way down the slope to the shoreline a few members of the group hear a faint call for help.

It took several moments but soon all were able to hear the frantic call for help that was coming from Charney. It took several moments of carefully examining the landscape but they finally saw him, he had been placed in a shallow cave carved out of the western side of the dam it seemed that their search was over but as the group made their way down to the edge of the water Charney began frantically screaming to stay away from the water. The group retreated from the shore and moved back up the slope and began looking for whatever it was that had frightened Charney so horribly but they could see nothing. Gerran thought it might be a lingering traumatic memory of the various traumatic events that Charney had gone through over the past days, what with the Ettin attack, his abduction by the Chuuls, and his likely interogation by the black dragon that they had recently faced it seemed likely that Charney had reached a breaking point and could just be seeing things that weren’t there…still though there could be something to his frantic warnings.

Miria offered to levitate herself and a few volunteers to retrieve Charney but she could only keep them aloft she could not move them through the air. With a plan in mind, Miria, Alcher, and Gerran made their way to the top of their side of the crumbling dam, while Ike, Oolog and Lane stayed at the top of the slope. Miria anchored a line of rope on their side and then launched the rope to the other side of the gap to the western portion of the dam. After a few cursory tugs to make sure that the rope was secure the trio were levitated by Miria and began to pull themselves across the gap while their comrades watched, it took several moments but they were able to make it across and Miria lowered them down to the cave where Charney was held. The dragon had taken all of his possessions and left him there to guarantee access to his familys manor for whatever treasure remained. Miria tried to explain that the threat of the dragon was gone but Charney kept staring at the water below them and began to describe the massive beast that dwelt in the water below. As the quartet looked down they noticed something big was moving beneath the surface of the water some 60 feet below. Miria quickly levitated them quickly back up to the rope and they began to pull themselves across the chasm as the dark shape beneath the water kept moving close to the shore and finally the beast broke the surface revealing itself to a huge reptile!

The beast was so massive, it must have measured at least 50 or 60 feet from snout to tail and for a moment Gerran thought it was another dragon until Alcher remaked, “That is the largest gator or crock I have ever seen…I wish i could remember how to tell them apart.”

“Is there a difference between the two?” Gerran asked.

“One has a large mouth then the other.” he replied.

As the two friends were conversing about the situation Charney seemed a a few moments away from a nervous breakdown upon seeing the beast, though he was relieved to be high up in the air away from the beast. Miria frantically began pulling herself along the rope in a desperate attempt to reach their comrades on the ground before the beast….it was a race she was going to lose. Gerran paused a moment to cast a spell upon himself as he feared that he would be soon be forced to fight the beast in melee if his comrades fell. The trio on the ground were not caught aware as the huge gator pulled itself onto the shore and sped up the slope to devour them, Ike stood defiantly in front of the beast and striking a heroic pose and bellowed, “You shall not blow me!” Oolog and Lane could only stare in confusion at his battle cry but their confusion was short lived as battle was joined.

Ike found himself the first target after he missed with his swing and was savaged by the beast as he was reduced to a chew toy after a horrific bite, Oolog rushed and narrowly avoided a slash from a claw large then him but failed to hit. Lane attacked the other side and was able to score a hit but a hit but the beast paid it no mind as it continued to attack Ike. The airborne party members had been moving as fast as they could across the chasm, Gerran was the only one who was in range and frantically cast a lightening bolt which struck the beast causing it to howl in pain. Charney, Miria, and Alcher frantically moved along the rope in hopes of either getting in range or putting their feet on solid ground. The battle on the ground continued with Ike being reduced to little more then a chew toy. He refused to back away and cried out, “Ike doesn’t retreat!” Lane frantically tried to heal him with her lay on hands abilty but he was far all intense purposes a dead man walking or a soon to be gator snack.

What Alcher lack in size he made up for in speed and he was finally in range to being bombarding the beast with explosives and light it on fire, Gerran followed suit and unleashed a pair of scorching rays upon it that nearly burned holes clear through. While it convulsed in pain Oolog landed a blow that ripped a bloody furrow along its side. The beast ceased its efforts to chew Ike and tried to devour Oolog but he avoided the worst of the damage. Gerran dealt the final blow with another pair of scorching rays that finally caused the beast to fall…it was not dead and Lane would let none torture the creature as it was animal and not intrinsically evil, she climbed ontop of the creatures skull and with great effort drove her blade into the creatures brain ending its life.

Miria frantically began pouring healing energy into Ike who to the amaze of all was still alive and moving, after she had spent the majority of her healing energy into him he was back to normal, or as normal as Ike could be, she used her remaining energy to heal Lane and Oolog. Both were grateful and had fortunately taken little damage as Ike had occupied almost all of the beasts attention. They all agreed to rest and then continue there search for the dragon’s lair.

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Did everyone remember to pack their acid proof undies?

Standing knee deep in the muck that was the fens, or floating on a disc as was the case with Alcher, the mixed group stared each other down. Lane, Gerran, and Alcher were startled by the new trio after the surviving chuul had escaped with Charney as a captive. Fortunately Oolog choose that moment to emerge from the the brush and joined the gathering, he explained the the trio had been following him since he set off to join the rest of the party and clear his head from the horrific hangover he had suffered from. When asked how he had been able to walk all the way from Redwater, he replied, “That he just kept walking.” “King” Ike explained that he and his traveling companion Miria, who served as the official ambassador for the land of Land, and Rommel an associate of Oder. They had traveled to the sunken city at the urging of Oder to find something there and then bring it back to him. Gerran quickly convinced “King” Ike to aid them in rescuing their missing comrade, Alcher rolled his eyes as Gerran embellished their tale with such outright lies and misdirection that only a fool would believe it, thankfully “King” Ike was that kind of fool. Miria rolled her eyes but was unable to restrain the enthusiasm that gripped Ike as he raised his mighty sword and set off to charge further into the swamp.

Gerran could not believe that his story had worked, neither could Alcher, Lane had exhausted her powers for the day and after healing the last of Gerran and Alcher’s injuries volunteered to stay on the edge of the swamp and keep watch over the horses. Rommel volunteered to stay and keep watch with her. The quintent set off into the swamp with Ike attempting to lead the way but fortunately Oolog was able to find the trail that the fleeing chuul had left and the quartet set off. Mira explained how Ike was convinced he was the rightful king of his “land”, and by that she meant a small plot of land with a hut and partial moat. She further explained that he had worked for Oder as a cursed magical item inspector and that contributed to his various quirks but that he was every bit the warrior that he portrayed himself to be, and that she herself was an oracle well versed in healing but haunted by various things…nothing to dangerous just annoying so far.

After a short while of traveling deeper and deeper into the fens they were attacked by three chuul, the battle was as vicious as their last encounter with no quarter being asked and none given by either side. This time however the advantage was with the party as any who were affected were able to shake off the paralysis poison and Miria was able to channel healing power that negated the damage dealt to the party. Ike and Oolog dealt savage blows to the chuuls while Gerran and Alcher provided support. After the final blow was dealt to the last chuul the group glanced a shape flying through the air towards them, that kept getting larger and larger as it approached. Gerran and Alcher realized that it was a black dragon. Ike was greatly excited by this as he planned how the skull would adorn his dwelling, the rest of the group was more subdued as they frantically prepared for the arrival. Gerran quickly cast a spell that made Miria invisible, while he and Alcher enhanced their abilities through magical and alchemical means. Oolog was debating between his crossbow and axe while Ike began yelling insults and taunted the dragon…everyone wisely stepped away from him after that.

The battle began as many expected…with a cone of acid aimed right at Ike! He took full damage from the breath of acid and unfortunately Oolog found himself just on the edge of it but was able to avoid the worst of it as the black dragon plummeted in front of them. Ike and Oolog wasted no time in counter attacking the dragon while Mira began channeling energy to keep the burned fighters alive. Alcher backed away from melee and began carefully lobbing explosives at the beast, while Gerran dashed around to attack the dragon from behind. The dragon responded with a fully bevy of attacks at Oolog and Ike before taking flight and leaving the battleground…only to return several moments later with its wounds healed and began mauling the fighters again. The battle continued back and forth as the dragon would deal damage to the party, Miria would frantically heal them, as the dragon would then take flight to heal. The dragon battered but not dead demanded a parley. It stated that it had underestimated the party and that it wanted no more of their quarrel. When asked about the fate of Charney it replied that its minions had captured him to gain access to the house with wooden statues and claim the treasure within the walls. The dragon scoffed at Mira commenting that even invisible she was visible to the dragon. Gerran took this time to demand the return of Charney while Ike demanded that the dragon become his mount. That was to much for the chaotically evil dragon and it reared up to attack once more and met its end at Ike’s blade as he beheaded the dragon with one blow.

Ike posed triumphantly and claimed the severed head as his trophy. The rest of the group was less enthusiastic, with the dragon slain they were left alone in a large swamp with their lead on the location on Charney dead and nightfall fast aproaching. They had slain many chuuls but no one knew how many remained or what had been stirred from other lairs by their battle against the dragon.

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Interlude part 2:There is something I want over there, I don't know what it is but it is over there..go get it

A trio had been summoned to Oder’s Oddities by the proprietor for a vague task, news had reached him of an expedition to the sunken city by acquaintances and he wanted the trio to join them and bring something back. Oder was not sure what it was he wanted, just that it was in the sunken city. The trio consisted of Ike, a somewhat delusional test subject of Oder’s items but while delusional was a mighty human warrior wielding an immense blade. Miria, an asimar oracle of the traveling god and had become a traveling companion to Ike fearing for his safety and his addled state. Rommel, was not known to the other two, he was a human warrior but unlike Ike wielded a guisarme and was heavily armored. He was an acquaintance of Nessa but not a full member of her band. The trio agreed to take the road to the north and would depart the next morning.

The trio traveled on the North Road to the nearby town of Reeger, they had agreed that it was pointless to travel through the night in the wilds. They arrived at the inn and began haggling with the innkeeper for a room. Ike struggled with the concept of paying less then five gold for the night, Rommel was more persuasive and paid only a gold piece, while the Miria was able to achieve the preferred rate. After a good meal they set off the next morning. As they neared the sunken city they encountered fewer and fewer travelers and as they passed the Iron Hills they were soon the only travelers on the road. Soon Ike was regaling them with stories of the Land of Land and his mighty dwelling in his castle by that he meant the 5 foot deep pit that he had dug inside of the hut where he dwelt. He had been the subject of one to many test the cursed magical item request by Oder. They had traveled as far as they were able to during the day and found a relatively safe area to take shelter for the night, they found a copse of trees to paddock their horses for the night, they arranged a watch and tried to get some rest before venturing into the swamp the following day.

It was a peaceful night and nothing drew their attention away from their small campfire and their own thoughts about the coming day, thankfully their horses were far more observant and were able to warn them of an approaching threat. A pair of ettins were stealthily moving towards the camps site! With the party roused by their horses they charged into combat with Rommel and Ike each heading for a different ettin. Rommel attempted to trip the first one with his guisarme but failed horribly, Ike charged for the other screaming out “Ike doesn’t afraid!” and struck a mighty blow and was then struck twice in return by the ettin. Rommel was bashed by the other ettin but not as badly. Miria made her way and began healing the pairs wounds as they traded blows with their much larger opponents. Rommel finally succeed in tripping his foes and dealt it a savage blow as it scrambled on the ground. Ike screamed out, “For Land!” and stuck another blow but both Ettins kept soaking up damage and dealing it back towards the pair. Miria kept channeling energy back into the pair keeping them alive as they were battered back and forth. The ettin that was bashing Ike began moving towards Miria, fortunately Ike was able to deal the last blow to knock it down. The remaining ettin was tripped again by Rommel and after several blows finally collapsed.

After the battle the group was on edge and the oracle was exhausted, Ike volunteered to keep watch for the rest of the night and he amused himself by scaring off a pack of wolves that had approached the corpses of the ettins with a mighty roar. After Miria recovered her spells the trio set off late the next morning for the swamp, after several hours they arrived at the edge of the swamp and found several horses tied to a rough paddock and heard the sounds of battle coming from the edge of the the swamp and saw a group fighting off two large beasts that had massive claws for arms and tentacles hanging from their mouths. Ike screamed out, “For Land!” and charged to join the fray accompanied by Miria with Rommel a step behind.

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Helping a kidnapper to loot his ancestral manor.

The group left the smiling horizon monastery to meet up with Charney at the Redwater Tannery and discuss his offer to rescue Ren, the missing boy from the orphanage. They found him talking ot Kire Arrowstorm, the owner of the tannery and a retired ranger of some some renown. Charney explained that he was grateful that the party had not turned him in for kidnapping and that if they helped him with a small matter he would be in a position to help them to retrieve the boy. Charney explain that his family was descended from nobility but all evidence of their claims was left in their ancestral manor when the family fled the flooding of the city to the northwest. If the party accompanied him to the sunken ruins and helped him to retrieve evidence of his birthright, well he would be able to help them. Lane and Alcher each tried to sense the truth behind his words and were surprised that he was telling them the truth.
He further explained the risks that they would face, what had once been a lake had been turned into a large swamp that had spread through the city, and his family kept old stories of wooden golems keeping watch over the estate. The stories stated that they would not harm any of the family or their companions. They party agreed to accompany him and they debated on the best way to reach the sunken city,. The Road ot thew est was in much better repair but it would take them much longer to reach the city, the road to the north was in poorer repair but it would shave a day off of their journey. After much discussion they chose the northern road. Charney then bid them a good night and that they should meet him on the north road outside of the city.

Before they turned in for the night the group set off to learn about what they might face in the swamps and fens that covered the sunken city, they arrived at the Eagles Nest and learned from some of the occupants that there were stories from the area about living trees wandering the fens and that there were stories of people being pulled underwater by unseen beasts and vanishing beneath the water. The flood that destroyed the city was caused by the destruction of a dam that caused the area to flood and forced the survivors to evacuate to Redwater. They set off to resupply and procure some horses before setting off in in the morning.

True to his word Charney was waiting for them outside the city gates and they began the first day of their journey, Charney kept scanning their surroundings looking for trouble, he explained that they were not in the city anymore and beast could emerge at a moments notice. The day still passed without any problems and they were able to reach the small town of Reeger by nightfall. The found lodging in the inn and though they believed that their horses received better care then they did they set off the next morning, they passed the Iron Hills but began to see fewer and fewer travelers along the road until they were the only ones as the road became less and less maintained. They found the best possible shelter they could and settled down for the night with watches being assigned. It was a quiet night and Alcher was keeping watch while puffing away a concoction known only to him when he saw large shapes moving in the distance trying to move up unseen, but Alcher was able to spot them and was shocked that each beast seemed to have two heads. He stealthily made his way to his group members and alerted them to the danger. None of them were wearing their armor but they quickly armed themselves for the beasts attack.

The beasts each lobbed a javelin that struck Lane and Charney. Lane responded with a warcry and charged the beasts with her sword drawn. She struck the closest monetarilly unarmed ettin deeply but the beast lumbered on. Charney was shocked by the sight of the beast and the trauma he had received but steeled himself and began firing arrows at the beast not engaged with Lane. Gerran began conjuring a rolling sphere of fire that lunged for the beasts, but they were surprisingly nimble and dodged it. Alcher reached for one of him more potent potions and joyfully began to bombard the beasts from his perch on top of the fallen tree. Seeming unfazed by the barrage of arrows and explosions the ettins drew large wooden clubs and nimble avoided the flaming sphere to engage Lane, Gerran, and Charney in a brutal melee. Lane was able to dodge the mighty swing while Charney was struck and staggered back trying to get out of range of the club. Alcher lobbed a special grenade at the ettin clobbering Charney and set it ablaze, which only seemed to irritate it and draw its attention. Alcher watched in horror as the ettin charged towards his perch and struck him, so Alcher bravely jumped down putting the fallen tree between him and the beast and hid.

The brutal melee between Lane and the other ettin ended with a triumphant but badly injured Lane, she paused only for a moment then charged the remaining ettin while Charney stumbled around trying to regain his bearings. Gerran cursed the fates as the already engulfed ettin continued to nimbly dodge the sphere of fire. The ettin turned to attack Lane again but missed thankfully and soon collapsed after a dual assault from Lane and Charney. Alcher emerged from his hiding spot drinking a potion and Lane used one of here wands to heal Charney Gerran and herself. With their wounds mended Alcher and Lane resumed their rest while Gerran, joined a jittery Charney who could not believe at what had just happened to them and that they were still alive. The fights that he had been a part of in the city were nothing compared to what happened outside the walls.The two spent the rest of the night wide awake as Charney seemed to jump at every noise he heard. Morning came and Charney was creating an extravagant breakfast from their supplies, after last night he refused to travel without a good breakfast because if he was going to die he was not going to die hungry. The rest of the group was offered to join as well and they enjoyed the meal before mounting their horses and setting off for the fens and finally the sunken city.

By midday they had reached the edge of the fens and had to leave their horses behind for fear of laming them in the unstable ground, scanning across the fens they could see some type of beast flying in the distance over the fens and after securing them to trees and logs on the edge of the fens they began their trek as stealthily as they could. The ground quickly turned to mush and they were soon in water up to their knees. Alcher would already have drowned if not for Gerran creating a floating disc for the gnome to occupy well above the water and to keep an eye on the surrounding area. After an hour or so of marching they arrived at the ruins of the city and made their way to Charney;s family estate. The grounds were littered with many amazingly carved wooden statues that strangely enough had no moss or lichen growing on them. They grew in number until they finally came upon a pair guarding the main entrance to the estate. Charney marched up to them and announced his lineage and requested entrance for himself and companions, and waited for a response or for something to happen….yet nothing did. He tentatively took a step forward and opened the door and keeping a watchful eye on the statues crossed the threshold and waited for something to happen. After several moments and still nothing had changed Charney stepped into the estate proper and yelled for the party to follow. Once they were all inside Alcher asked Charney what they were looking for to prove his nobility. He replied, “I’ll know it when I see it.”

After scouring the grounds they came upon a sealed door flanked by more wooden statues, Charney removed a key from a satchel and with great exertion opened the door revealing a vault with a small fortune. Charney could not believe the wealth displayed along with a various weapons and armor. He quickly began to place the items in his bag that did not change in size as more and more items were added to it. He glanced up and sheepishly remarked to the others, “You do understand this is my inheritance and I will need it to establish myself so that I may be of aid to you.” Lane replied that we came to aid you and we will follow our agreement. Charney was grateful and after he had finished with retrieving his inheritance set off for the entrance. Alcher however spotted a very ornate bracelet which had been left behind by Charney. With their task completed they set out after Charney catching up to him before he left the estate. It was still in the afternoon and they did not want to stay in the fens for the night, they agreed that if they pushed themselves they could be out of the fens before dusk. Charney was enthusiastically leading the party out of the fens. Alcher returned to his position on his floating disc and they began their journey out of the fens, unaware that something was watching them.

Alcher somehow glanced a bizare ripple moving through the water nearby the party and yelled a warning as two bizarre amphibians rose from the muck and attacked them. In broken common one blurted out seize the lordling! The beasts wielded no weapons but their arms ended in huge claws large enough to easily grasp a grown man, and tentacles hung out of their mouths. The pair quickly closed on the party and lunged for Charney. Gerran realized that these beasts where called Chuuls and were not to be underestimated, but before he could warn the party they attacked. Lane held one at bay but its tentacles struck her and for a moment she was paralyzed but then it faded, Charney was not so lucky as he suddenly froze with a look of horror in his eyes the other beast lunged forward. Gerran and Alcher unleashed spellfire and explosives upon one the pair and drew its attention away from Chareny, leaving Lane along with her foe as they traded blows.

Gerran and Alcher fared worse then Lane as Alcher found himself completely overwhelmed by the beast, while it could not land a blow on the nimble gnome. Alcher was for more susceptible to the paralysis then Lane and was soon being eaten alive by the Chuul. Gerran charged forward unwilling to let his comrade die and charged his speels through his sword striking serious blows and trying to force the beast to release his comrade. With no other option left after trading blows with it, he was forced to unleash a blast of fire and engulfed the chuul and thankfully avoided Alcher, but it was not enough to kill it as it staggered forward and slashed Gerran and caught him between his claws squeezing the life out of him. With barely any life left Gerran smiled as it raised him face to face and then breathed out a blast of fire and slew the chuul, the claw went slack and he stood uncertainly. the remaining chuul lunged forward ignoring Lane and grabbed Charney before fleeing into the water. Lane could not keep pace in her armor and quickly dropped her sword and drew her bow and fired off two desperate shots and while they both hit the chuul fled deeper into the fens. Sometime later the paralsis wore off Alcher and they healed themselves but were left with little time to plan their next moves as night would be falling soon.

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Making new friends over interrogations

With their reward in hand the group set off for a well deserved drink at the Falcon’s Nest, only to find it completely overran by graduates from the academy who were getting sloshed out of their minds. They were able to find a table and after a few moments they came across a member of the Smiling Horizon. The monks of the order served as the city mage hunters as well as overseeing a large orphanage which offered vocation training in various fields. Hewas trying to recruit some of the graduates for a task. They gradautes refused saying that it was beyond them and walked away, Alcher made his way over to the man and inquired as to what was the problem. The man revealed himself to be Sivo a monk and refused to say anymore to someone he did not know. Alcher dropped Nessa as a contact and the monk agreed that if she were to couch for them he would trust her world. Nessa was occupying a side room trying her best to ignore the riffraff that invaded her bar, she was more then willing to vouch for the group. He explained that one of his charges had gone missing from the monastery and that he believed that something foul had occurred to him. His possessions had been left behind and the missing boy was enjoying life at the monastery. The boy had been a cut-purse before joining the orphanage and the monk believed that someone in the cartel had kidnapped him. The boy was an orphan so he held no benefit as a hostage for ransom, he had only been at the orphanage for a few weeks and he had been party to no great secrets of the order so the boy could not have been involved in some form of espionage or sabotage. They agreed to help find the boy and return the boy if possible and asked to see the boys room at the orphanage in hopes of finding some clue that the monks had not.

Alcher, Olog, Lane, and Gerran arrived at the orphanage and the monk quickly showed him the missing boys room, a quick search found nothing out of the ordinary until Alcher found a large molar that had been unnoticed by the monks. A quick locate object spell later lead them to a bar deep in Cartel territory called Mugs and Mead. While they may have mugs the mead is not very good. The group entered and kept to themselves having a round or two while their potential target nursed his drink. They witnessed the spectacle of the lead bartender Orden Hardhammer tossing out a customer who had mistreated one of the barmaids. Their target was revealed to be a male human dressed for combat and with a longbow and several other weapons. They waited for several minutes after he had left and tracked him for several minutes until he realized that something was up. Lane had split off from the group to cut off his avenue of escape

Olog sprinted up to catch up to him only to be tripped by their quary, Gerran and Alcher still tried to be diplomatic but their target was not listening and was rapidly drawing an arrow, Just as Lane was rounding a corner and saw Gerran hit by an arrow. She Bellowed out a warcry charged down the street and barely avoided an arrow Alcher was not so lucky. Olog finally pulled himself up and charged the archer and just barely with the flat of his axe. Alcher lobbed a grenade that was fortunately and non-lethal and by the time he recovered Olog and Lane both were upon him with weapons drawn. Their quary dropped his bow and raised his arms in surrender.

His name was Charney and he had been hired by the cartel for the sole purpose of retrieving the boy from the Smiling Horizon Monastery. He did ask how they had been able to find them, an Alcher held up his missing tooth. “Bloody magic.” He replied. That was all they got out of him as a trio of redwatch guardsmen arrived demanding just what the hell was going on. Gerran bluffed their way out saying it was a bargame gone wrong, just tying to catch arrows. The guard did not buy it and demanded that both parties leave in opposite directions. The group returned to the Mugs and Mead, Lane volunteered to stay outside and keep watch. The remaining trio went inside and waited for the crowd to thin out before asking Orden for more information. The crowd thinned out to only a few regulars when they approached Orden again. They explained that the were looking for a missing child. Orden glanced at the picture of the boy they presented and explained that the boy was safe and would stay safe so long as no one was looking for him. The regulars at the end of the bar were now standing up and drawing weapons. Seeing that they were at an impasse the trio took their leave before things got violent.

They were left with no easy solution, the cartel had the boy and were not going to give him up for fear of what he had learned that might be used against them. There was also no way that they would be able to fight their way through the bar and into whatever spider-holes were beneath the tavern. They cordially left tavern, met up with Lane and returned to the Smiling Horizon Monastery and explained to monk Sivo that for the boys own safety the monk had to let him go for fear the cartel would kill him if there was the possibility of people to continue looking for him. Alcher idly mentioned the name Chancey and Sivo reached for a scroll that had been delivered to the temple to be given to the group upon their return from someone named Charney. It stated that Charney was very grateful that they had not turned him in as a kidnapper to the Redwatch and that he might be of some assistance retrieving the boy if they would meet with him.

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Spelunking in the Underdark is ill advised

The group pressed on after their battle with the carrion crawlers, they pressed on exploring the mine coming upon another series of chambers. Another chamber was filled with refuse and an overwhelming stench, as they began to leave one of the piles started to move and from the heap a beast lunged at them. After a few tense moments of combat the beast was dead and after persuading Olog not to dig through the rancid garbage for treasure they returned to the central chamber and before they could decide on their next course of action they were suddenly attacked by a large snake that was blasting them spells. Damage was dealt all round with the party being blasted pretty soundly but in the end they were able to destroy it with a combination of explosions, spells, and good old brute force. The snake had a wealth of magical items that were divided amongst the party and they moved to explore the last chamber that actually turned into a tunnel that lead deeper into the earth. They moved further down and suddenly the ground gave way beneath them, Olog and Lane grasped arms but began to tumble down while Gerran grabbed and held them for a moment as Alcher quickly drank a potion and grabbed Gerran and began to pull the group to safety. Looking down the newly revealed chasm they were horrified to see a pulsating green cube patiently waiting below. They also realized that the tunnel went deeper and deeper into the earth and was actually a connection to the underdark. A place that the group knew was well beyond them. They agreed that they had completed their task and returned through the underwater passageway, without nearly drowning this time, and explained the situation to their employer. Mok Wan was grateful for their assistance and they returned to The Chartered Company to receive their payment.

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interlude

Interlude at the Eagles Nest,

Oolog and Gerran made their way to the Eagles Nest to meet Nessa and inform her of what had happened with their interaction with the syndicate and the package that had been left with them. While Olog was enjoying a drink or cask of ale. Gerran explained that the Syndicate knew that the group had aided Nessa and then showed her the stuffed eagle to Nessa. She was visibly shocked and regarded the situation carefully as she realized that the falcon was actually a death threat against her and that the group had been offered the job. Gerran replied that he had no intention of aiding the Syndicate and offered to aid Nessa in dealing with the mysterious man with the hat that had arranged the contract.

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