Session II, Prelude
With everyone haven gathered back at the Stag N’ Flag, the group rested for a bit, got some drinks and some of those delicious biscuits that the Stag N’ Flag is known for. The pot of melted garlic butter was the perfect topper for them. While enjoying the different sights, Fogo and Angelica overheard a conversation going on at a table near them.
The table had five men all in some sort of uniform with an emblem of cross pickaxes. They were sitting with a heavily cloaked person whose features were hidden with a hood and gloves. Their gender could not be determined, but they were fairly slender.
The table of people had situated themselves carefully in the room such that there were several pillars and obstacles blocking them from the direct sight of Nathan and his bodyguard.
This group were all leaning in on the table somewhat whispering to each other, but some of their conversation could be overheard by those two.
“At least we got him delayed for five days”
“Is everything going to be ready?”
“Should be, five days will be plenty of time”
A jingling bag was surreptitious slid across the table to one of the guards. He pocketed it quickly. A few more words were exchanged, and the cloaked person quickly moved out of the tavern. The guards split what was in the bag, drank a little more and chat a bit more.
“Finally, that asshole is going to get killed”
Then they too departed. As the action ended, Fwoosh waved down a waitress with which he wanted to play the dagger game with one of them. It was a quick game with Fwoosh’s errant dagger, while not hitting anyone, went nowhere near the target, whereas the waitress was able to accurate place three of her knives around the gold piece. Fwoosh had lost spectacularly, be he did not seem to mind.
From hearing the whispered words from the guards, Fogo brought Vladimir over to Nathan for a chat. The actual conversation was more around what had happened to his wagon, rather than anything heard. It seemed that Fogo was trying to figure out who was the bad guy in this situation. Nathan did not seem to be very impressed with the questioning, but he did respond “Incompetence and Conspiracy” was at fault for his burnt wagon. Fogo did reveal that they were traveling north with Otis. Nathan seemed to be somewhat familiar with Otis. With a little more conversation, the party found out that Nathan’s wagon was supposed to guarded yet was able to catch fire in the wagon yard without much other damage.
“Money can buy many things; loyalty is but one of those things.”
With that, Fogo and Vladimir went back to their table. They relayed the conversation and what happened with Nathan to the rest of the party. Fogo repeated what he had heard at the neighboring table as well. Vladimir advocated for informing Nathan of the overheard conversation, hoping for gold or contacts for the future. With agreement with the rest of the party, Fogo and Vladimir went back over Nathan’s table. With some additional conversation it was also revealed that all the carpenters in town had been engaged in large projects which was causing a five-day delay for Nathan to get his wagons repaired. Fogo was quick to share the information about the guards and the overheard conversation.
Giving it some thought, Nathan made a proposal. For 250gp he requested that the party guard his cart and keep him safe and he would talk to Otis about being allowed to go along. He would leave tomorrow morning with the Otis and the party. He requested that the group keep this to themselves to not warn the treacherous guards and let it be a surprise in the morning.
Fogo pushed for what the cargo was, and Nathan continued to avoid giving any specific answers. Checking with the rest of the party, they were quick to take the job seeing gold in their pocket for an easy job. In conversation, more information was requested of the wayward guards, hopefully for some clues or being able to gather more information. After this, Nathan was quick to rush off and contact Otis for tomorrow’s trip.
After strategizing with the rest of the group, they decided to depart into different directions. Avery went to room to take a bath, Fogo and Angelica decided to visit Mother Gothal’s to see if they can find the guards, with the remainder staying at the Stag N’ Flag.
On his way to the Stone Stallion, Avery decided to stop into a very odd building. A large poorly constructed building with 13 tall towers named Hagala’s Manyturrets. It proved to be one of the several Inn’s in town. An older chunky female elf was waiting at the counter greeting Avery as he entered. Sharing some chit-chat in Elven they talked about the odd architecture of the building and that Avery was in town working for Otis.
It was revealed that Otis was something of a player seeking companionship in different places since his wife had passed away. Hagala chatted about many topics including some interesting things to see in town as well about many of the people of the town.
Some of the things mentioned were that:
- The stone statue of the horse has a gold replica inside of it.
- That the Inn the Stone Stallion is haunted and has a portal in the basement.
- There was a wizard battle at the Laughing Bandit Inn which caused it to be in ruins a decade ago. There is supposed to be treasure there.
- That there is some wandering merchant that is the cause of everything that is happening, the unnatural weather, and everything else that is happening.
At that last statement, Avery’s head almost exploded and only due to already having tin foiled lined the inside of his hat, his head was saved. With that, Avery made his way to the Stone Stallion for his bath.
Fogo and Angelica walked over to Mother Gothal’s while Fogo casting some magic to disguise himself as an average looking human farmer. Entering the festhouse, it seemed that it was a bit early for people to be in the building, in fact besides an old drunk man dancing around to unheard music in the middle of the dance floor and a few women at the side of the room, there was not anyone else there. After waiting about an hour while nursing a mead and nothing to show for it, or at least not seeing the Axedredge guards, Fogo and Angelica went back to the Stag N’ Flag.
The rest stayed at the tavern drinking and waiting to see if the guards would show back up or waiting for the rest of the party to return. Fwoosh was frantically looking into this disguise kit to see if there was anything he could change into. Realizing there was little available considering he was a kenku, short, and young, and there were not many things he could disguise himself into. After the hour, every rejoined each other at the Stag N’ Flag. With some group discussion and planning, they all broke up into a few groups again to try and gather more information. Fogo headed to the team’s room, while Fwoosh, ISAC, and Sky headed to Shrunedalar’s Secrets, and the rest start their way to Ammakyl’s Flowers and Foods.
Being suspicious of the room and not believing that everything could fit into the space, Fogo used Detect Magic on the room to find that all the walls, floors and ceilings had some sort of protection magic upon them. In looking into the corridor, he was able to see that all building surfaces were protected including the doors. Only the furnishings were not protected.
After wandering down the Long Road to Shrunedalar’s Secrets and entering, that group realized this was more of a woman’s refuge. The perfume could easily be smelled from outside the door. These three were stared at hard but still greeted happily. It did not take much for Ulthresth to convince Sky to get the full treatment and while was ISAC staring around in confusion and Fwoosh looked at the latest fashions from Waterdeep. Within an hour, Sky had been washed, cleaned, scrubbed, and even makeup with glowing red nail polish on his hands and toes, with a nice bright red strawberry tasting lipstick applied to his lips. Sky had turned into quite the pretty boy.
After Sky’s spa treatment, they headed further down the street to Blodhlar’s Wares. They were quickly accosted by an older man with but a single leg. His looks and voice were salty in every way. It started off rough, but the group was able to quickly connect through the purchase of an old hammer from a wrecked ship. When asked why he still was not a sailor, he explained about his past on a military ship. He lost his leg against some pirates.
He passed on several tidbits of information:
- Lord Ilzimmer tends to ride through town hot and heavy whipping his horse and anyone in the way.
- Bandits are getting very aggressive further up north. They might be spying on travelers
- One of the Ammakyl’s wagon trains is missing from the trip to Red Larch. Might be worth some coin.
The last group of Angelica, Avery, and Vladimir, walk down and when they started to pass by Imbryl’s Cloaks, the chatter of old women could be heard into the street.. It was clear that this was the women’s gossip circle. They were quickly accosted by the group and when the old women found out they had come with Otis, all the old ladies ran off in search of Otis and his loving care.
During the conversation, Imbryl kept scratching her legs and when asked about it mentioned that the rats at the Middens have gotten much worse in the last several years.
Some of the rumors that she imparted were:
- The Ammakyl family is hoarding food to drive up the prices. The weather is nothing new and they just want to make more money.
- That strange one-handed dwarf that is the baker. Yes, her stuff is okay, not as good as mine, but how does she back with only one hand? She must be a necromancer and has undead creatures in the basement of her store that do the work for her.
- We are so surprised that the old Manyturrets building has not fallen. That old woman there never takes care of his building. I swear a piece of the roof almost fell on me as I walked past it last time.
- The villagers say that Thorn has treasure buried under the Stone Stallion, accompanied by the bodies of several thieves who thought they could relieve him of it. He doesn’t make enough running the inn, they claim, to keep its doors open.
- Old Pelost is quite the catch. I keep hoping he’ll ask me out. I need to go visit Shrunedalar’s to get more makeup and perfume.
- You be careful at Mother Gothal’s. All those girls are diseased. You catch the crotch rot is you are not careful.
- All those cute boys at Eagleshields like playing with each other more than the horses.
Moving on down the street, they stopped at the Ammakyl Food and Flower stand. They were able to learn that the unnatural weather further north has been impacting the farms here. If the weather continued to be so unusual, it will cause Waterdeep to have a shortage of food. Tina also mentioned about one of their wagons having gotten lost or stolen while it was heading north. She offered the group a reward if they can find it and rescue the members of the merchant group.
Everyone working at the store was also scratching at their legs as if they were itching severely. The group showed some concern and learned that the rats in the Middens were at fault.
About that time, all the members of the party managed to meet outside the statue of the horse, including Fogo, who had finished his rest. Most of the discussion was around whether to pursue the Amphail rat problem. Several members expressed some concern, and it was brought up since this was a bit unnatural, it might be related to the issues further up north.
Approaching the Middens, the smell could be felt on everyone’s skin and it was horrible enough to drive Avery and Fogo to their knees vomiting. Everyone else was able to hold their lunches in. The group could see many small trails that were clearly from a small creature, such as large rats. It did not take long for them to find the entrance to some sort of dug in area, an entry way to something. Looking it over, it was larger than they expected. At least five feet wide and tall while being well hidden behind garbage and debris. The assumption was that this was most likely the rat’s nest.
After some arguing, the group headed into the cave entrance. It turns out that this was something more than just a rat cave, it was something of a large rat warren. Slowly moving into the passageways, it was evident that nothing here was very normal. There was some sort of lichen on the walls that allowed dim visibility. The caves were hot, humid, and stinking of the trash from the Middens. Due to some sort of deadening between the lichen and dampness of the area, sound would not travel more than about 20 to 25 feet. This would make it difficult to communicate if the group got separated or were too far apart.
Avery headed in first, shortly followed by the rest. With everyone moving inside, it did not take long to encounter their first set of rats. Five young Giant rats sat in a cave area who were starving, somewhat wounded, and not happy with the intruders. Fogo attempted to talk to them and let them know that the group was not the enemies of the rats. It was for naught. The rats were not in a normal state and moved to attack. While they were being taken care of, a second group came in from another passageway and attacked as well. All of them were killed in not much time. At some point as the battle completed, Sky suddenly ran further into the caves without letting anyone know. Moving to a distance much further than sound would travel, all alone.
As he almost reached the end of the cave area, he was suddenly attacked by five adult Giant Rats. It did not look good. In fact, Sky was attacked and taken down very quickly. It was at this point that the party realized that they were missing a member. Rushing further in to find Sky, they came across a set of Giant Rats chewing on something on the ground. After closing in, they were able to take out the rats and save Sky. It was a close thing. Continuing to go through the caves, they kept encountering small groups of Giant Rats in different cave alcoves. The deeper they went into the caves, the larger and healthier the rats were. This continued until they got to a set that were making a meal of half a horse.
After killing those, they found a naked dead body of a person that had been tortured, and chewed upon. Features could not be determined, but it was a male and with a quick medicine check, they could determine that he had perished about five days ago from the torture.
And this is where the session ended.
The group found out a little more information about what happening up north. They got two new jobs, at least one of which they would be able to fulfill pretty quickly. A relatively quick jaunt into the rat warrens?