Dex

Session 6

The End of the Beginning

Standing on the deck of the Empress’ Luck, the party gazed up at the enormous cavern within which Port Ruin was constructed. Captain Tullius bid the group a fond farewell, holding gratitude towards them due to their aid throughout the treacherous sea voyage. He recommended an inn to them, the Sole Regret on the second level of the city, and invited them to return the following evening before he and his crew would return to Treciun to join the war effort. Agreeing, and pleasantly surprised by one of the first genuine friendships that they had managed to find since they had come together, the group moved up through the level of the city, ending up in the Wind Square and a grand marketplace.
The market was made of pure chaos, full to brimming with different stalls and people from all over the eastern nations. Marina, seeing the fine dwarvish craftsmanship in all of the stalls, cast about excitedly for another rapier to balance the one that currently rode upon her hip. Finding a particularly helpful-seeming dwarf named Tormas, she found that he had a particularly beautiful paired set, which she tried to get a discount with her own blade. However, the merchant appeared mortally offended by the poor quality of the iron, refusing to lower his price. Temperance tried to help her friend out, with no success. As the group left, Esviel hung back to see whether Tormas could sell her a silvered dagger, to which he replied that, while he had never sold one before, it could certainly be commissioned from the mastersmith Greigan in the Fire Square. Cedric, in the meanwhile, managed to sell a few of his possessions to an islander stall, also returning to the group with some new armor.
Moving through the marketplace, the party saw that the Sole Regret, told to them to be a tavern, took up the entirety of one side of the marketplace, by far the largest building that any of them had ever witnessed. Moving indoors, they found the atmosphere alive even at the late hour when they had arrived. Catching sight of an oddly tiny figure behind the bar, Temperance identified the figure as a Halfling, a particularly rare figure in the east. Moving over to secure lodging and food, Baz (as he was named) proved himself an accommodating sort and found space for the group to bunk down. Moving upstairs after eating, the group went to sleep with a certain uncertainty, finally arriving at their destination and lacking a goal.
As they woke to the perpetual twilight that pervaded the cavern city, Ghesha informed the group that she would be seeking out an audience with the Thane at the Stoneshapers’ Guild. At the sight of her troubled brow and heavily bagged eyes, Bael’tor accompanied his fellow dragonborn, and the rest of the party moved back down to the marketplace. Esviel went to pick up her commissioned dagger, but upon catching sight of her Tormas appeared very out of sorts, apparently having discovered the actually cost of what he had promised. After a tense exchange the merchant held to his word, but when Marina attempted to purchase the rapiers that she had seen the previous day he held out for a higher price than had been said the previous day. The pirate eventually bought the paired swords and the five moved down to the bottom floor of the city, hoping to discover some sign of the thief from the Stormhaven Thieves’ Guild who had been sent to Port Ruin to search for Esviel. After a brief search that yielded no result, they decided to split up to search more effectively.
Cedric, deciding that the docks were not for him, moved back up to the Wind Square and the marketplace, looking for a group of Highlanders that might be able to pass on a message from him to Lihr or Lon-lihr. Finding a group of Zhar clansmen, he told them his tale of the growing darkness from the south-west. They were caught up in his tale, the druid’s natural reticence being put aside for the moment, and they assured him that they would get word to his Huntress. As he walked off, pleased with the exchange, he caught the strains of one of them strumming a tune on a lute, evidently inspired to compose a song based on the story.
Meanwhile, the four others moved about the docks in search of Bree, the thief from Stormhaven. Finding no sign of her, Esviel nonetheless noticed that the Slurries, a slum section located next to the docks, had a great deal of what looked like underbelly activity. Reconvening with each other and Cedric, the group decided to explore this seedy-looking neighborhood.
Moving through the musty streets, the signs of criminal elements were just as thick as the sideways glances and menacing expressions thrown in the direction of the five non-dwarves, sticking out very plainly in the streets. Finding a small stall, Esviel managed to convince what turned out to be a poison salesman that they were not simple travellers and, with the aid of Temperance and Marina, they intimidated a name out of the scared dwarf: ‘Erlan’. Going to the location that the poisoner had directed them towards, the group entered a very suspicious-looking tavern. Trying to get information from the bartender, the name Erlan saw the entirety of the interior turn menacingly towards the group. In the moments before blood began to be spilt, Esviel leapt across the bar and held a knife to the bartender’s throat as the rest of the group readied weapons and Cedric sent thorned vines shooting across the room. At a terrified shout from the bartender, the dwarves halted in their attack and, with a little encouragement, the group forced the dwarven female to lead them to Erlan. They were taken to a room and waited for the figure, evidently some form of leader in this evidently criminal group.
The wait was not overly long, as a particularly burly dwarf entered the room, backed up by a number of crossbows pointed at the party. Marina attempted to slam the door on him, of which he had exactly none of. The tense conversation that followed, with Esviel realising that perhaps they were in a little over their heads, was cooled considerable when the dwarf, assumedly Erlan, learned that Esviel had worked for Black Sal. His surprise at the continued existence of the current leader of the Stormhaven Thieves’ Guild lead to him making a deal with Esviel; their lives in exchange for the beard of Black Sal. Given very little choice, Esviel signed a contract that, according to the dwarf, would lead to particularly nasty consequences if she broke the terms. However, one good thing did come out of the exchange, as Bree turned out to have been a captive of this dwarves and, by incurring a not-inconsiderable debt, Esviel secured her freedom, a fact for which Garrick was very grateful.
Leaving the Slurries (and resolving to not return if they could help it), the group went back to the Sole Regret and interrogated Bree about what she knew of the other members of the guild that were searching for Esviel. Her knowledge, similarly to Garrick’s, was limited, but it was discovered that a girl called Kaddy was in Solitude and that Ander, a friend of Esviel’s, was also one of those who had been sent out. The sour taste of their interactions with the dwarvish thieves was alleviated by the return of Bael’tor and Ghesha, who had managed to wade through a sea of bureaucracy to gain an audience with the Thane on the following day. Everyone feeling quite bitter after a difficult day, the party left Garrick and Bree at the tavern and went down to the docks to join the crew of the Empress’ Luck for a farewell drink.
Their arrival was greeting with a hearty cheer and the passing round of many a flagon, and the night was passed companiably enough until the captain climbed onto the bar and called for quiet. Tullius gave a short but heartfelt speech, impressing on all those present the dangers that lay across the sea to the west and thanking them for their bravery and loyalty. The party were touched by the words of the stout captain, and when he came to them at the end of the night to say a final farewell they chose not to press him for the promised payment for their martial services on the voyage. Parting amicably, they were stopped as they returned to the upper levels by the bosun Burr who, though he was still obviously wary of Temperance, handed them a small box containing the payment that Tullius had set aside for them. A final well-wishing saw the bosun return to his crew and the party go back to the Sole Regret, happy to have made some firm friends but apprehensive about what the morrow will bring now that they seemed to be pulled in many different directions at once.

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