As the group descends to the lower foredeck of the Blue Nixie, they hear and see what appears to be a menagerie of exotic pets and creatures from all over, stuck in a variety of cages and containers throughout the hold. In the middle of them, 6 humans of various genders and ethnicities move from cage to cage, poking at the animals and making sure they're still alive. They're armed similarly to the thugs above, carry One cage holds a fearsome ten legged beast, which looks like a bizzare combination of a spider and a scorpion without the stinger or pinchers. It's manibles are huge, and it's about the size of a pony.
All PCs please roll initiative. The eagle and the astral construct will vanish at the beginning of the round. At present, Lorskan, Nayala, and Lila are in range to attack the second thug. Mokhai is up on deck, while Malek is still in the water, and Richter is in the rowboat. I'll get a combat map in a bit.
The first thug screams in pain as one of the eagle's talons and its beaks tears into him. The second thug grunts from the impact of the armored ectoplasmic Hulk, but retains his footing. He seems to be made of sterner stuff then his counterpart. Nayala and Lila move to flank the thug of their choice. Nayala, Lorskan, Lila, and Nayala get a surprise action, and then we'll switch to initiative.
Storm Dragon wrote:
Sadly I don't believe he's around at present. Lila has generously offered to run him while the player is out, but if that becomes too much of a burden, I can remove him and recruit another if you all would like.
Richter and Mokhai navigate the rowboat towards the Blue Nixie. The ship is lit by a couple of red tinted bullseye's lanterns at the bow and the stern, drowning the fey craft in a tinge foreshadowing blood. As Lorskan and Malek swim closer, they and Lila notice that there appears to be two men standing on the main deck, both dressed in leather or studded leather armor, and carrying rapiers along with crossbows. They appear to be looking out to both sides for something.
Lila and Mokhai start walking down towards Pier 5. There are a number of ships docked or moored to the pier, ranging from three masted galleons to a single masted brig. At the end of the pier, moored out to a float about 100 ft away from the pier, lies the three masted carrack the Blue Nixie. Lila and Mokhai, along with the keener eyed members of the group, notice that you'll need to either climb the lines connected to the ship, get a boat to go out to it, fly, or swim and climb up one of the sides to get on deck. Four humans of varying heights, sexes, and ages stand on the quarter deck and the main deck. They wear weathered but well maintained sailors garb, covered by leather armor, and carry rapiers as well as light crossbows as they slowly scan for approaching danger, or riches. In Sasserine, either might be around the corner.
Lila the Black wrote:
Thanks for letting us know Lila.
Lavinia turns to Lila, her jaw somewhat firmly set, and says: "Deal with Vark's men as you see fit. I would wish little violence if possible, but these are not people who respond well to diplomacy or persuasion of the material kind. Skullduggery, violence, or magic may be needed to win the day.".
She then looks at Richter and Nayala, and then states: "Honesty doesn't get much shrift these days in Sasserine. Money and influence speak more then deeds. Miss Nayala is correct in her summary of the tasks. The only person of note that I know of who might miss Vark's men are the harbormaster, but he is corrupt, slowly dying, and the last scion of his house. Most of his days are spent in poppy filled dreams of corpulent decadence and debauchery."
Lavinia leans back and places her hands in her lap as she tells her story.
"And that's the problem, you see. The vaults are magically locked-keyed to special signet rings. Both of my parents had these rings, at least, until recently. My mother lost hers a few months ago. She arranged for a replacement, but it won't be done for another month ago, too late for me. Which leaves my father's ring. He never wore it-he had a thing about men wearing jewelry. He kept it hidden somewhere on his ship, the Blue Nixie.
"The problem is that the harbormaster has seized the ship until someone pays for the last four months of mooring. I've paid the fines to the main the harbormaster put in charge of my ship, a brute named Sollar Vark. Yet when I went to claim my ship, Vark's men wouldn't let me board, claiming that I hadn't yet paid the fines. I spoke to Vark and he denied ever receiving my payment. My complaints to the harbormaster have fallen of deaf ears.
"Vark and his men are up to something on my ship, I know it. What I need to find out is exactly what they are up to. Unfortunately, Vark's not the type to react well to diplomacy or logic. I need someone who speaks his language...which is were you come in. If you can find out what he's using my ship for, or even better, recover the money I paid him, I'll play each of you 200 gold in return once I've access to my vault. Do you have any questions on dealing with Vark and his men?"
DM Mistake. The halfling's name is Kora.
Kora replies to Richter, "We are all Kora. That is Kora the Protector. I am Kora the Handler. The 5 other Koras serve the Vanderboren line in various roles, from healer to bookkeeper. As need arises, we will change titles or roles so outsiders and the Vanderborens can keep us sorted. Now please come along, Mistress Vanderboren is waiting in the receiving room to greet you." The wizened halfling leads you into oast the entry foyer and into a well furnished room, with three well crafted armchairs, a medium sized table set for 7, and green/blue carpeting with stone carved walls covered in a variety of paintings of adventures, sea scenes, and family portraits.
Seated at the head of the table is an attractive blond haired woman in her middle 20s, with blue eyes. He hair is styled to be long and wavy, almost like a wave or waterfall. In the center of the table, food sits reads to be eaten, as does drink of various kinds. As you arrive, the lady turns to you and says "Be welcome, my fellow citizens of Sasserine. I have a business proposition for you all that requires a group of discreet and skilled adventurers to undertake. I hope you will all do so after you hear my tale." She motions for you to be seated, while Kora the Handler disappears through another door to the west.
The group eventualky arrives in the Merchant District after being led to a gondola. The porter steers you and Mika into the open water of the bay and leads you along the canals to the west. After the ride, the gondola docks near Red Skink Lane. Mika pays the porter, and you can see a walled three story manor in the distance. Mike gestures to the manor, and the group moves on.
Entering through the gate, you see another wizened halfling who looks extactly like Mika, though wearing chainmail and carrying a sword and shield. The two don't even make eye contact, but Mika simply passes her twin as you get closer to the front of the manor.
The wizened halfling woman tilts her head for a moment, as if listening to the wind. She then speaks: "Excellent. Let us walk to the manor. It will be about a 20 minute walk given the current traffic on the streets. We will be ready to receive you, as well as our mistress.
The party begins its travels without incident.
Lila the Black wrote:
Lila is able to recall that Lavinia Vanderboren is a member of the Vanderboren noble family. They are a noble family that gained their titles through adventuring and wealth, and eventually settled down to invest in the city's sea trade. The Vanderboren scions are Verik and Larissa Vanderboren. They had two children, Lavinia, their eldest daughter and Vanthus, the younger son. She also notes that the elder Vanderborens died in a tragic fire about a month ago.
Richter Ghostwood wrote:
Technically you're in a tavern of ill repute near the docks, so you could have come with your mallet straight from work. That's no issue.
For a quick summary of where you are, and how you got here: All of you received a notice at your place of work or residence that your exploits had been noted by a stranger of some wealth. It stated you should meet at the waterfront tavern/brothel called the Sasserine Sleigh Ride (and no I didn't make that up, it's in the actual adventure), and you would be contacted by a messenger of this stranger.
The tavern isn't really occupied at this time of night, since it's a Starday (Monday) and the brothel doesn't open until 8:00 pm. Each of you knows the other by reputation or by an actual link, since Sasserine's local adventuring groups are loosely associated but haven't formed a formal guild as of yet. What is odd, however, is that there isn't even a bartender or a madam/pimp anywhere to be found. Just you lot and this aged halfling woman seem to have the run of the place.
The halfling woman looks at all of you and says in a clear alto,"We are called Kora of the Whistlegaps. Our mistress, Lavinia Vanderboren, would like to engage your services over dinner at her manor on Festival Street and Blue Skink Lane in the Merchant District. She has a task that may fit your certain set of skills, and would like to make sure she can acquire a group with some sense of discretion. Should you wish to know more, please follow me or go to the manor, and we will receive you shortly. Thank you for your concern."