Mysteries of Aereth

Interlude
Wherein; our heroes take a break...

Just a small hiatus until one of our group returns from Iraq. He's our resident forensic anthropologist and I believe he's identifying remains from mass graves…

 Meanwhile, I'm running the rest of the group through a short Deadlands mini-campaign until he returns in the summer! 

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Episode 8 : The Streets of Punjar (Pt 2)
"You broke me brother's leg, Dorn...Now you're gonna pa-- *CRACK!* "Gaaaaah, Me Leg!!! You broke me leg, half-orc!!!" ~ unknown Alley Rat Gang Thug

Leaving an already inebriated Fang and Lisp to enjoy the merriment of the Welcome Wench Inn, the rest of the party headed off through the Devil's Thumb district.

A young girl burst out of the crowd, bouncing off Olen and falling to the ground. With a look of fear behind her, she ran off as if being chased!

A moment later, Olen realized his silver dagger was missing! They had been cleverly robbed!

Giving chase, Olen took to the rooftops, Greymalka bounded across vendor's stalls and even the occasional head, Oriel twisted and turned his way through the crowd with ease, while Dorn cleared a path with terrifying shouts and brute force.

Alas, they failed to catch up with the pickpocket until she reached a courtyard between two narrow alleys…and found they had been led into an ambush!

A local gang called the Alley Rats cut off their exits and moved in, giving the girl time to slip into a sewer grating.

Dorn knew these minor threats and they knew him! They band of reluctant comrades were knocking heads quite easily when one of the ganger's pet rats made an appearance…and they all froze up in complete and utter fear!

Perhaps those gemstone eyes from the statue of the Rat God were cursed after all…

Overcoming their terror, the adventurers soon ended the battle with a well placed lightning strike from the druid!

A scream came from the sewers! Another Alley Rat crawled out, a look of fear on his simple face. He said he had helped the girl down and heard what had happened…A deep voice had screamed "THAT'S NOT IT!!!"  and then the girl had cried out!

The party found the girl dead deep in the sewer tunnel. She apparently had been delivering Olen's dagger to her killer…except that wasn't the dagger they were expecting!

Olen recognized that she had been killed with a special dagger…a dagger he had owned in another lifetime!

A noise put them on the trail of the mysterious murderer! They chased the dark figure through the sewers across half the city, finding that a secret tunnel ran under the river!

They caught a glimpse of the killer as they ascended a ladder to street level…it was a man in a golden mask!

Reaching the street, they found themselves back in Squalor Court in the middle of the Dark Market…and milling about were dozens of slumming nobles wearing black cloaks and golden masks!

In consolation for losing their prey, the party decided to do a bit of shopping! Dorn traded Orliss the Goat's gladiator's sword for a new set of scalemail. Olen cut deals with the local "chemist" (a fat drow called Jobba) and his deadly liquids. Greymalka contemplated tattoo designs at the booth of the old easterner named Ling, and Oriel searched in vain for a fine songblade.

Shopping done, they returned across the court to their temporary home…finding the door unlocked.

Bursting in, they found themselves staring at the business end of a hand crossbow held by none other than Black Shet the Spymaster…

To Be Continued… 

 

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What Olen Knows...
"I am the Night..." ~ Olen the Mysterious Assassin

DM NOTE: I was too lazy to type this out again in storyform…I may update it later, but for now I simply present the player's notes on What Olen Knew.

 

  • You awoke a few months back in the muck of the sewers below Punjar. With fuzzy memories, you began your campaign of revenge. Not wanting to draw attention to yourself, you kept a low profile and just observed and listened. The Lady Luck smiled on you and you happened to spot a Shadar-Kai striding arrogantly through the marketplace one morning…
  • You had a memory flash of a Shadar-Kai swing a spiked chain into one of your fellow Assassins during the ambush that took your life. Having no other leads, you followed the pale-haired warrior as he returned to the slums and the "Palace" of the Beggar-King.
  • You kept watch on Beggars Palace for several days and followed the Shadar-Kai once he emerged again.
  • The Shadar-Kai met a caravan at Punjar's desert gate. You observed him meet a man in green robes, a Warforged who appeared to be his bodyguard (Morg), a Deva (Oriel), and two Shifters (Fang and Greymalka). 3 other robed and hooded figures in grey followed the Green-Robed Man and didn't move unless he did.
  • A Half-Orc in armor (Dorn) arrived and led them through the city and to a rented building in The Commons (a ward in Old Punjar) on the Street of Swords.
  • You watched the home for several more days until the Green-Robed Man emerged. Before you could tail him, he returned just as quickly. After a few moments, he re-emerged and made his way toward Poisoner's Street. The Deva left a minute later and seemed to be following the Green-Robed Man.
  • You followed the Deva who followed the Green Man to the Dirty Fox Tavern. Inside you found the Green Man at a table with the Shadar-Kai and a cloaked and hooded figure. You caught the glint of gold under the hood, possibly a helmet or a mask. The Deva sat surreptitiously a few tables away, observing and attempting to eavesdrop.
  • The Green Man spoke for a while, handed over a parchment which the other two read, then he left. The Deva approached the table, spoke with the two men at length, and read the parchment.
  • They all three rose and began to leave. The Deva tossed the parchment in the fire on his way out. By the time you had snatched the unburned pieces from the flames, you had lost them all in the crowds.
  • You watched the home into the night. A covered carriage arrived near midnight, but you could not see who emerged from its far door. Nearly and hour later, you heard shouting, crashes, and an electrical boom and flash as if lightning had struck inside the home.
  • Several people left, at least 6 or 7 if the rocking of the carriage as someone climbed in was any indication. As the carriage rumbled away, it revealed another figure remaining on the street in front of the home. Cloaked and hooded, you caught the gleam of a gold mask underneath the hood once again.
  • You chose to follow the Golden-Faced Man instead of the carriage, a decision that you cursed later. For all of your skill, you lost your target in the twisting alleyways of Smoke (one of the other wards in Old Punjar).
  • Returning to the now-darkened house, you took up watch again. Nothing happened until 4 days later, when Enforcers from the Thieves Guild arrived and hammered on the door.
  • You witnessed the fight and flight of the three you saw at the desert gate (the Deva and the two Shifters.
  • You saw the Half-Orc from the desert gate meeting give chase.
  • Since then, you've watched the house, awaiting an opportunity to investigate inside, but Enforcers have kept a guard on the place while others (a gnome with Ogres for bodyguards, and a tall fop of a man who moved with such grace that he had to be a thief) came and went several times.
  • Eventually, your chance arrived…
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Episode 8 : The Streets of Punjar (Pt I)
" 'Ware how you speak to me, cur...I am Death...in more ways than you can possibly imagine!" ~ Olen the Assassin

Upon exiting the slums of the ex-Beggar King, the party met with Black Shet, spymaster for the Man of Smoke.

With his smarmy congratulations, he also passed a secret message asking for their help in rooting out the Poisoned Shadows spy within the Thieves Guild. He suggested they start with the gnome, Lockhart. He owned an Inn called the Welcome Wench over in the Devil's Thumb district. He also kept residence there…

The Man of Smoke had also provided them with a key to the same house on Squalor Court in which they had awoken. He would be meeting with them sometime soon, Shet informed them.

Returning to the house, they found the door unlocked and a man in black dismantling the warforged they had briefly met their first moments in Punjar!

Tension crackled in the air as weapons were gripped and words exchanged, but even the barbarian saw the wisdom in talking instead of drawing steel…

The man in black, who called himself Olen, told his strange tale…

OLEN DIALOGUE NOTES

The party informed Olen that they truly had no memory of what he saw, and for now, he accepted this. An uneasy alliance was formed…

Setting out into the crowded and dangerous streets of Punjar, the party made their way to the old sage they had rescued from the slavers beneath the Beggars Palace.

They found the befuddled old Lorilass owned a small cottage in the Northside District on the Street of Scribes. It was wedged between a parchment, ink, and quill supplier and a seller of rare books.

With help from the ancient scholar's lovely caretake and apprentice, Neverill the Half-Elf, they coaxed enough information from Lorilass to find they needed to visit the Great Library in the Overlord's Palace.

If they could get Lorilass access to the Library, he knew his way around since he had once been the Master Archiver many, many, many, many, many years ago.

The problem was…How to get an invitation into the Palace?

Leaving the Sage's home, Dorn, Greymalka, and Oriel made their way to the High Quarter and the manor of Lady Constance Dev'shir, the noblewoman rescued alongside the sage and his assistant.

Fang, Olen and Lisp travelled to the Bizarre of the Gods in search of a taxidermist in order to preserve the multitude of grisly "trophies" the barbarian had gained in their recent battles.

During this transaction, Olen examined the spiked chain used by the Shadar-Kai killed by Fang in the chambers of the Yuan-ti Shadow Witch. The assassin remembered a weapon like this from the attack that killed his band of brother assassins.

Another flash of memory confirmed what Olen already suspected…the Shadar-Kai chainfighter was not the one who struck the final blow that sent him spiraling into darkness…it was someone from behind!

The bard, druid, and half-orc found the Lady in distress, having returned only to have her husband fall to his death from their tower bedroom balcony. One of the Ladies-in-Waiting they had rescued with Lady Constance whispered them the truth when alone.

The Lord Dev'shir had secretly hired the slavers to take his wife and get rid of her. Her family was one of the oldest in Punjar and she controlled the Dev'shir fortune. She found him in the arms of his lover and her best friend, Geneve Farod, of the House Farod.

She pushed him to his well-deserved fate, while she forced Geneve Farod to scrub every surface in House Dev'shir to cleanse the Farod smell. Lady Constance couldn't kill Geneve…she was her best friend, after all…

She couldn't get them into the Overlords Palace, but she did tell them that the Celebration of the Forgotten King began in a few days and the Overlord always held a grand ball on the first night. If they knew a powerful figure in the city who could secure them an invitation…

From the Dev'Shir estate, they all moved through the city to the entertainment district called The Devil's Thumb and found the Inn of the Welcome Wench.

Keeping watch, they finally slipped inside once the gnome Lockhart had departed.

While the barbarian, the fighter, and the Deva drank, gambled, took all comers in feats of strength, and generally kept the kobold out of trouble, Olen and Greymalka slipped stealthily to the upper floor in search of Lockharts room.

Searching the chambers found several interesting objects of value and majicks, but the Assassin was careful not to disturb anything while the Shifter kept watch in tiny cat form.

The most interesting item found…a silver dagger bearing the image of the Goddess Zehir, patron of poison, shadows, and serpents.

It appeared to be a companion piece to the silver skull found in the Beggar's Palace, but this couldn't be confirmed since the skull was hidden back in their house.

Leaving the Inn of the Welcome Wench, the investigators begaqn to make their way back to the house on Squalor Court as night approached.

Soon, the Dark Market would come alive in the Court, and they had much business to transact…

 To Be Continued…

 

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Episode 7: The Beggar-King of Punjar
"Spirits protect us...What is that thing?" ~ Greymalka, Razorclaw Shifter Druid

Trying a different approach, the party lept from the rooftop of the Beggar's Palace onto the parapet of a crumbling tower nearby. According to the mad ravings of the dwarven wizard, the Beggar-King was below the tower…"Becoming", whatever that meant.

When they arrived at the cavern below the tower, the mismatched heroes found what "Becoming" truly was…

What had once been the Beggar-King of Punjar was now a massive, swollen ball of flesh with something moving underneath the pallid, slimy skin. The tiny human head that sprouted from this grotesque thing begged them to kill him…which the barbarian promptly did!

A torrent of slime and ichor burst from the corpulent monstrosity, flooding the area with small writhing green snakes. Ignoring the small harmless reptiles, the group searched the chamber for items of value…while behind them, the mass of serpents squirmed together, becoming something…else!

The Created

The battle that followed shook the very stones of the tower above! Soon the thing that was once the King of Beggars lay truly dead… 

A secret door to a hidden shrine was discovered. Before turning to the goddess Zehir, the Beggar-King had apparently been a devout worshipper of Niramuth the Rat God. A stone statue of a giant rat with glittering gems for eyes stood at one end of the chamber.

With Fang's history as a slayer of many swarms of rats, the group thought it best if he stayed outside. Unfortunately, Lisp was unable to control his roguish greed and attempted to rip one of the statue's jeweled eyes out! This brought about the Wrath of Niramuth…

As the statue became a great humanoid Rat of Wrath, the room was flooded by Niramuths Swarm of Wrath. Thousands of furry bodies poured into the chamber from cracks and crevices!

Wrath of Niramuth

The Wrath named the barbarian as blasphemer and demanded he beg for the forgiveness of the Rat God. Fang charged the giant rodent with a cry of rage and no remorse in his primal heart!

Soon the Wrath of Niramuth was lain and transformed back into a broken statue. The Swarms of Wrath fled the room, terrified by the barbarian now known to all rat-kind as The Defiler !

Gathering their spoils, which include the two great ruby eyes from the shattered effigy of the rat god, the party finally made their way from the Beggars Palace…mission complete!

To Be Continued…

 

 

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Episode 6 : The Breath of Zehir
" THE CIRCLE OF SYNN SHALL BE REBORN!!! " ~ Suggs Half-Nose, Dwarven Street Wizard

The secret door was hidden behind a statue of Endast, Keeper of Knowledge and Exarch of the dark goddess of poison and shadows, Zehir.

The way led to a ruined library where the group learned that this place (200 years previous) had been the estate of a minor nobleman named Lescore. The nobleman was apparently a devout worshipper of Zehir and a collector of strange objects and antiquities.

Another secret passage took them to a natural cavern that stretched as high as the streets above. Before them, a ritual of evil took place here.

A pool of glowing green liquid gave off a mist of equally emerald hue that flowed upward through grates in the stone ceiling and out into the slums. They had found the source of the vile fog that crept outward through the city quarter above!

A dwarf called Suggs Half-Nose (because he only had half of a nose, the rest was ugly scar tissue) capered madly about the fiendish pool. Dozens of sacrificed beggars lay strewn about the chamber.

To stop the mad dwarf, who was obviously becoming something reptillian due to his exposure to the pool, the party had to battle him and his gigantic serpent companion that slithered from the shadows!

Soon, the Zehir-worshipping wizard lay dead, face down in the blood of his pet snake as Oriel broke the enchantment on the poison-spewing pool…

After a brief rest, the unlikely heroes moved onward…they knew that they must find the Beggar-King and stop him once and for all!

To Be Continued… 

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Episode 5 : The Slave Pits of Punjar
"Face me alone, dog-man! Let us see who walks away..." ~ Orliss "The Goat", Dragonborn Gladiator

As the rest of the party pursued Arthuro down into the cavern of the Slavers, Lisp worked furiously to release himself and Dorn from the moving cage high above.

After battling Arthuro, hobgoblin guards, an enraged War Ape, and a Drow Slave Master, the mismatched five took time to release the captives in the slave pens.

Among the captives were Lady Constance Dev'shir, a kidnapped noblewoman of Punjar and two of her ladies-in-waiting and a local scholar by the name of Lorilass along with his lovely half-elf apprentice/caretaker, Neverill. Lady Constance begged them to find her other two servants…they were being taken away by a Slave Master mage less than an hour before!

Once the captives were away to safety, the party pressed on deeper into the Slaver's complex…

A secret door and stairs leading into darkness were bypassed for the moment as they soon found themselves facing the captain of the Slaver forces…a dragonborn ex-gladiator and (ironically) former slave named Orliss "The Goat".

The Goat challenged Fang to single combat as his forces attacked the rest of the party. Soon goblin blood and the severed head of Orliss decorated the room.

Moving quickly, they engaged the Slaver Mage and his two Gnoll Overseer's in a cavern split by a roaring underground river. Things were going well until the Bladerager Troll showed up!

Prevailing against these overwhelming odds, the party was victorious, the ladies rescued, and soon they returned to the mysterious secret door…

To Be Continued…

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Episode 4 : The Shadow Witch
"I only see two Shadar-Kai chainfighters guarding the way...How dangerous could they be?" ~ Oriel, Deva Bard

After honoring their word and releasing Captain Irocar, the five of the moved deeper into the complex to face this "Mother Zeboltha".

After a harrowing battle with her two very competant Shadar-Kai bodyguards, the group finally stood face to face with the Shadow Witch, Zeboltha…who revealed herself as a vile Yuan-Ti!

Zeboltha the Shadow Witch

In Draconic, she accused Dorn of "betraying them". Only little Lisp understood, and as much as he tried to cover it up, the truth came out later. Dorn claimed to know nothing of what she said, and he seemed to be telling the truth!

The battle was joined!

Kill The Witch (close shot)

 

Leaving the snake-woman dead and fangless (it seemed the barbarian had a penchant for "trophies"), the party searched the witch's workroom and turned up her notes on an object the Poisoned Shadows seemed to be seeking.

Mother Zeboltha's Notes

Puzzling this new development, moved on to face the Beggar-King in his own "throne room"...

Reaching the hall of the "King", the five adventurers found the rug pulled out from under them…literally! Arthuro the Fence triggered a trap that opened the floor beneath them, dropping Dorn and Lisp into the yawning darkness below!

Leaping and scrabbling, the other party members made it safety. Fang charged the obese, mumbling Beggar-King who lounged on a gaudy throne. With a roar, he sank his halberd deep into the monarch of the slum's fat belly…sending a cloud of downy feathers into the air! The "king" gave a scream and shrank away from the raging barbarian…a scream that sounded much like a 12 year old girl.

As it turned out, it was a twelve year old girl, padded, head shaven, and strung out on Black Lotus Dust, placed to act as a decoy for the real king. Arthuro escaped from the party through a trap door behind the throne.

Dorn and Lisp found themselves in a cage, hanging 40 feet over an underground river. The cage was being hauled by a trained War Ape toward a series of slave pens set into the cavern floor below…

To Be Continued…

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Palace of the Beggar-King
"You will die for your betrayal of us, Dorn!" ~ Mother Zeboltha, Yuan-Ti Witch of the Poison Shadows

They found the slums surrounding the Beggar-King's domicile shrouded in a sickly-green fog. Dorn said this had started a few days ago and was spreading. It's source was somewhere in the territory of the beggars.

The mismatched sellswords entered the complex of ramshackle buildings known as the Beggars Palace through a back alley gate.

They had learned from the beggar informant before he was murdered that the Beggar-King had hired several local mercenaries and put them under the charge of Captain Irocar, a Dog Brother pirate that was well known to Dorn.

Entering the maze of junk and refuse known as the Beggars Market, the party found themselves caught between two of the Beggar's Guild toughs and several of these street mercenaries. 

As the deva bard, Oriel, fought near an opening in the floor where trash and garbage were dumped, he was suddenly seized by a slimy tentacle and dragged down into the dark pit!

Landing with a crash on years of reeking garbage and rot, Oriel found himself facing a sightless horror called an Otyugh!

Otyugh

Oriel found himself battling alone against this monstrosity and it's grub-like offspring in the knee-deep offal of the Beggars Palace!

Meanwhile, Greymalka had released her spirit within and transformed into a snarling black panther! Dorn hew limbs and heads with his greatsword, while Fang hacked bodies to bloody chunks in a berserker rage! The trembling little Lisp even managed a bit of courage by sinking his dagger in a back or two.

Noticing the Deva missing, Fang lept into the dark hole without hesitation. He landed with a smelly splash and fought alongside Oriel until the old Otyugh lay dead along with it's grubs.

The questioned one of the Beggar King's toughs with torture and dismemberment before moving on. They had learned that Captain Irocar and the pirate thugs from the Brotherhood of the Dog were somewhere upstairs and ahead.

Also, Arthuro the Fence made his quarters in this building. Finding his empty room and hidden treasure cache was a boon to their mission.

They battled their way through Irocar and his Dog Brothers. Irocar was taken alive and questioned. He gave them what he knew in exchange for his life and freedom:

Irocar and Arthuro
  • The Poisoned Shadows had allied themselves with the Beggar-King and promised him power in exchange for access to some sort of old library underneath the Beggars Palace.
  • They had sent a mysterious Witch called "Mother Zeboltha" and her two Shadar-Kai bodyguards. She had spent the last weeks in dark rituals with the Beggar-King and his street mage, Suggs Half-Nose. Neither man had been seen for quite a while…
  • The Slaver's Guild had agreed to an alliance to avoid paying bribes and tributes to the other Guilds. They were importing and exporting slaves through some secret way under the Beggar's Palace. The slaver in charge of day to day operations was the dragonborn called Orliss the Goat, himself a former gladiator and slave. Other important slavers came and went. Irocar had seen a Dark Elf, a Mage, and sometimes two Gnoll Overseers.
  • Arthuro had spent a great deal of time putting these deals together. Irocar suspected the man wanted the Beggar-Kings "throne"...

To Be Continued

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Episode 2 : The Man of Smoke
"Perhaps...we can come to some sort of...arrangement." ~ The Man of Smoke, Master over the Guild of Thieves

The gnome introduced himself as Lockhart. "Welcome to Punjar" he said " The Tarnished Jewel".  His ogre bodyguards were one Gnash and Krodd. He assured the 3 fugitives that no harm would come to them…yet.

Gnash and Krodd

Lockhart let the two Shifters and the Deva through a maze of sewer tunnels and into the Guild of Thieves. 

Soon, they sat before The Man of Smoke (The Smoke being the city's slum quarter they would soon find out they were in). They found that Lockhart was his right-hand man and a foppish spymaster called Shettrick, or "Black Shet", was his left. 

Through their conversation with the Guildmaster of Thieves, the party learned the following:

 

  • The Guild were in a near-war with the Beggars of Punjar. The beggars had began to encroach on the thieves domain with strongarm robbery, muggings, and outright murder for gold!
  • The Beggars were led by a self-named ruler they called the Beggar-King. Apparently, this "King" had delusions of god-hood and now acted on this madness…
  • The Beggar-King had been making alliances with several other faction in Punjar. The Slavers Guild, the smugglers and pirates known as the Brotherhood of the Dog…and a new faction in Punjar…Assassins only known as the Poisoned Shadows.
  • The previous Assassins Guild, led by a dwarf only known as "The Grandfather" had been wiped out to a man by the Poisoned Shadows over the last few months. The body of the Grandfather himself had been found by rogues in the sewers after an ambush by the Shadows. This has upset the Man of Smoke. The Grandfather was an old friend.
  • No other solid information had been discovered by the Thieves Guild on these new arrivals. They make no contact with the other guilds besides the Beggars and Slavers, both of which have all but declared war on the Thieves.
  • The Guildmaster's foppish spymaster, Black Shet, is currently investigating these mysterious Poisoned Shadows.
  • The Man of Smoke also knew something of the Green Man that the three had shared memories of and had found dead on their awakening. He would share that information if the three performed a small…favor.
  • Due to political and protocol reasons, The Guildmaster could not act directly against the Beggar-King unless an outright transgression was made directly against the Thieves Guild. So far, the beggars had skirted the line with minor infractions, but an all-out war was on the horizon. 
  • Wishing to avoid expending the resources and the losses this would cause, the Man of Smoke wishes for the three strangers to…take care of the situation. In return, he will give them all information he has concerning the Green Man.
  • The three accepted this bargain. The Master of Thieves assigned two of his people to accompany them into the slums and eliminate the Beggar-King.
  • To their surprise, one of them was the big Half-Orc who had chased them through half of the Smoke (slum quarter). The warrior's name was Dorn, a captain in the Guildmaster's street enforcers for over a year now. He was also the Man of Smoke's investigator into the Beggar's Guild activities.
  • Dorn was not happy with the assignment. Since the Man of Smoke could not have any ties to this…mission…the word would be whispered on the street that he had been stripped of his privileges and banished from the Guild. 
  • The other joining them was a cringing kobold rogue named Lisp who had freelanced one too many times for the Guild to tolerate. Lisp would earn his life and his freedom if he followed through with this job.

Dorn had a meeting with a beggar willing to spill some info for gold later that night. The party rested up and prepared to face the slums of Punjar at midnight.

Black Shet had slipped Greymalka a note under the pretense of asking her to go dancing with him sometime. The note read, "Don't Trust Lockhart"... 

Later, as they questioned the grubby beggar in the Dirty Fox Tavern, they found a good reason to take those words to heart.

After the beggar dropped dead from poison in mid-sentence, the party of five found themselves surrounded by the tavern patrons…Poisoned Shadow assassin's, monks, and mages in disguise!

They were joined by Gnash, one of Lockharts Ogre bodyguards. The monster had a particular beef with Fang, who was almost as tall as Gnash. With a battle cry of "Betrayal!!!", Dorn attacked…

The battle was brutal, but the party victorious. Dorn thought it best they continue on the mission and not report this. As much as he distrusted these three strangers ot Punjar, this incident spoke of a traitor within the Guild of Thieves.

He didn't know who to trust now…

To Be Continued

 

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