(Note: This adventure was run in March 2017. In campaign time, this adventure took place two days after Session 10: Caverns of Calamity Part III–the time it took to travel back from the goblin caves to Cyr).
Before leaving the caverns, the party finally decided to try the strange glowing mushrooms they had found here and there throughout the caverns. Going back to the room where they killed the rust monster, Belladore sampled a small portion of one of the mushrooms found there. It tasted delicious! Suddenly she felt healthier as the mushroom imparted a small amount of healing to her wounds. The party roamed to the other parts of the caves where they had seen mushrooms and harvested the lot, placing them in their packs.
The party, with rescued prisoners in tow, traveled back to Cyr. The two-day trek was uneventful but gave the party a much needed respite after such an intense series of battles in the caverns. Kulo was on the mend and despite being healed by magic he still had a wicked scar across his torso from the cave roper’s terrible bite. This scar will act as a reminder of this adventure thought Kulo, much like his more visible scar across his forehead from his mysterious past. The tissue damage across his back in particular made his trip back to Cyr uncomfortable both in the saddle and especially sleeping in camp.
On returning to Cyr, Jana said her farewells to her companions. With Dragomir dead, she felt her life could begin anew and she would need some time to herself to figure out where she went from there. Despite her typical stoicism, her eyes filled with tears as she said goodbye to Kulo.
The party returned to their old haunt, the Weary Traveler, as their base of operations. Belladore, Kulo, Velnius, and Xrax decided they really could use some rest and relaxation. Some had interest in obtaining new goods with some of the loot they acquired in the caverns.
Tanin, originally from Cyr and connected to the shady thieves’ guilds in the city, received a message from one of these guilds, the Jackdaws. Over the last month of his adventuring life, Tanin’s reputation had grown, and the Jackdaws, with spies everywhere, know when someone with a criminal reputation is ascending in power. The Jackdaws sent a message via the potboy of the Weary Traveler for Tanin to meet at the Smoky Ale Tavern, located in one of the more downtrodden districts of Cyr.
Tanin, joined by Bao, traveled to the tavern, a run-down building that listed to one side as if it could collapse at any moment. The place was quiet. Scanning the tables, Tanin and Bao saw a drunk passed out at one table, a hulking barbarian at another nursing his drink, and a dark-dressed man hiding in the shadows of the back corner, who motioned to them with a nod of his head. As they joined him at the table, the surly barkeep placed two dirty mugs of ale in front of them and held out his hand.
Tanin, smelling the sour-stench of the ale, winced and said, “Do you have any wine?”
The barkeep shook his head and scratched his greasy smock, “Tis all we got. Two coppers.”
Tanin paid him, pushed the mug aside, and looked at his contact across the table. The man looked to be in his mid-20s and had dark hair and a beard. He began to speak, paused and looked at Bao. Tanin said, “He will help with anything you need accomplished.” Bao looked from Tanin to their contact and nodded.
The man handed Tanin and Bao a handbill from the city watch, a wanted poster for a slight man called “The Raven.” The contact said, “This person has been stealing from the merchant-lords of the city and quite successfully. The city watch wants to catch him, but the Jackdaws are also interested in finding out the identity of this person and stopping him since he has no ties to any of the guilds in the city. And his frequent burglaries of the merchant-lords have created trouble for the guilds since the nobles have put pressure on the city watch to double-down on theft in the city. What is more is that the Raven has started to extort merchant-nobles. In exchange for a fee, the Raven will leave a merchant-noble’s manor alone.”
The Jackdaw contact continued, “We have two leads on the Raven. We believe we know who his fence is for stolen goods. A dealer in curiosities in the Craftsmen Quarter. We also believe we know where the Raven takes his bribes. A food-seller in the farmer’s market in the Merchant’s Quarter.”
Tanin asked, “What will be our reward if we locate and capture the Raven?” His eyes lingered on the 500 gold piece bounty offered by the city watch. The contact said the Jackdaws will give 250 gold coins, but more importantly, successfully capturing the Raven would increase their stature in the eyes of the guild leadership. There would likely be many benefits to being a Jackdaw who completed this mission. The contact gave Tanin instructions for how to communicate with him once they had successfully completed the mission. He advised that like the city watch the Jackdaws would take the Raven living or dead, but living would be preferred. If dead, Tanin and Bao would have to prove that the corpse really was the Raven. The contact then left the Smoky Ale Tavern.
Tanin and Bao began to argue over the assignment. Bao seemed miffed that the Jackdaws were only willing to pay half of what the city watch would pay and suggested they capture the Raven and then just turn him over to the watch. Tanin impressed upon Bao the importance of being in the Jackdaws good stead. As they were debating, the slamming of a mug of ale at their table startled them and they turned to see the hulking barbarian take the seat across from them. He looked at them with icy eyes and said, “Count me in.” Tanin and Bao looked at each other in doubt. But Tanin inquired about the Barbarian. He told them his name was Sareph. That he was new to Cyr, in fact, he was new to cities and found them to be disturbing. But he was here and he needed to find purpose in his life other than at the bottom of a dirty mug of sour ale. And he held out his hand showing a couple of silver coins amidst more copper that his days of staring at a mug were coming to an end one way or another.
Tanin shared a hard look with Bao. But ultimately, Tanin felt they could use another hand in this undertaking, especially a strong arm like this barbarian. So it was settled; they would split the 250 gold pieces equally. They discussed what would be the best option: to investigate the curiosities dealer or to stake out the market to locate the seller taking bribes on the Raven’s behalf. They decided to stake out the market.
Tanin, Bao, and Sareph arrived at the busy market at the intersection between four streets. At the center of the market-square, a fountain sprayed water into a central pool. The market was busy this morning. People browsed the various food carts and stalls, buying everything from fruits and vegetables, to baked breads, from cheese to meats and fish. After making a quick round through the market, the three decided to split up and keep an eye out from three different vantage points around the square, yet all within eyesight of each other.
Sareph stayed in the vicinity of a fishmonger, Bao near the fountain, and Tanin by the fruit carts. Sareph noticed a well-dressed woman approach the fishmonger. Her garb looked to be of much higher quality than what most people wear in the Merchant’s Quarter, although not entirely out-of-place since most commerce at shops occurred in this quarter. Her movements grabbed his attention too, since she appeared to be nervous and out-of-place, her eyes darted about furtively. She reached into her satchel and pulled out a pouch which she gave the fishmonger, who nodded as he took the pouch and secreted it within his cart. Sareph noticed that she did not receive any fish in the exchange. Sareph signaled with a jerk of his head to Tanin and Bao that something was up in his area of the market. Tanin and Bao started to make their way to Sareph.
While Tanin and Bao were weaving among market-goers and carts, Sareph decided to confront the fishmonger. Noticing the hulking form of this northern barbarian heading his way, the fishmonger whistled, signaling to a group of ruffians located in one of the nearby buildings that he needed help. Six ruffians poured out of the building wielding everything from crude clubs to swords and axes. Bao moved up to intercept them. Tanin caught sight of the bandits swarming Bao with Sareph nearby and found himself in a dilemma. The well-dressed woman had walked briskly to the edge of the market and she was on the verge of disappearing for good amidst the tumult of the city. Tanin could give chase to the woman, but that would leave his companions to face off against tough odds with the ruffians. He sighed as he watched the well-dressed woman disappear into the city, but the sounds of battle drew his attention to his friends. Tanin moved up to help.
By the time Tanin moved closer to engage the thugs, Bao and Sareph had killed one of them. Bao was armed with his quarterstaff, a weapon he could easily carry in the walled city of Cyr with no worry from the watch. Sareph on the other hand carried his sword hidden within his cloak and he did not have a writ to carry a concealed weapon. If the city watch were to find him armed as he was, he was sure to find himself in the dungeons underneath the city.
The fishmonger meanwhile had squirmed his way past the ruffians and had entered the building from where they had emerged just moments before. As the battle continued between the thugs and the party, both sides taking injuries, sounds of the alerted city watch could be heard a few blocks over. Bao and Sareph continued to trade blows with the ruffians as Tanin gave pursuit to the fleeing fishmonger. As the sounds of the city watch grew closer, the thugs seemed to melt away into the recesses of the city. Tanin ran through the building finding the back door wide open and catching a mere glimpse of the fishmonger as he weaved his way through startled common-folk in the street beyond. Bao and Sareph looked at each other and the body of the slain bandit and realized they better leave the scene too or lest they would be tried for murder in the city. Sareph wrenched a piece of the awning from the fishmonger’s cart, tearing a sizeable piece of the canvas and wrapped his sword in it as an improvised scabbard. They took off in the direction of Tanin and the fishmonger.
Tanin found himself dodging carts and weaving around commoners, but always the fishmonger was about a block ahead, occasionally looking over his shoulder to see if Tanin was still in pursuit. But Tanin found his big break when a passing group of festival performers and the crowd they generated produced a road block that held back the fishmonger. While the fishmonger pushed and clawed his way through the crowd, Tanin caught up to him. The fishmonger drew a dagger and the crowd parted with gasps. He lunged at Tanin, missing him. Tanin in return drew his scimitar and using the flat of the blade gave the fishmonger a great smack across his face! Dazed by the blow, the fishmonger dropped his dagger. Bao and Sareph arrived to witness the outcome of the melee. Sareph moved up and grappled the fishmonger in a bear hug and carried him into a nearby alley. There they tied his hands and led him through a number of alleys and streets to a different part of the city to avoid the investigation of the city watch.
Near the docks in the Warehouse Quarter, the party led the fishmonger to a decrepit tavern even in more disrepair than the Smoky Ale. Its name belied its condition, the Golden Trident. The group sat the fishmonger down at a table and ordered a round of drinks for all, a fetid swill that made them all nearly retch called Dwarven Bane. It sounded better than Barnacle Brew and Pickled Herring Mead. Sareph pretended to be drunk, a muscled arm draped around the fishmonger’s neck, a dagger under the table digging into his belly. Roustabouts and lumpers filled the small common room of the tavern, holding their noses at the revolting drinks in their tankards and cups. Despite its smell and taste, the sour and bitter beverages would get them drunk.
The fishmonger’s name was Grady. And with a dagger point in his gut, he seemed quite persuaded to help out the party. Tanin’s charismatic appeals appeared superfluous. Grady told the party that he did not know the identity of the Raven and that he gave the “protection money” to his boss, Lurch, who brought it to the Raven. He mentioned further that Lurch ran a warehouse in the district and that he would be expecting his payoff today. The party had confiscated the bribe money of 100 gp from Grady. The party decided to pretend to be working with Grady to gain access to the warehouse to see if they could find the Raven and perhaps some of the stolen goods. Grady mentioned that Lurch had a number of thugs working for him in the warehouse and that there is a code word to gain entrance. The code word was “The Rat.”
Bao, Tanin, and Sareph decided to wait until nightfall and then approach the warehouse, gain entrance, and then see if they could infiltrate Lurch’s gang in an effort to find the whereabouts of the Raven and his stolen goods. Grady led them to the vicinity of the building in the warehouse district and then pointed it out to them from a distance. Bao, surreptitiously surveyed the building from all sides before returning to the group without much useful information except that there appeared to be lights on in the building and movement from a number of people. Bao couldn’t be certain how many. With Grady bound and gagged across the street, the three approached the door. Tanin rapped on the heavy iron door and with the sound of metal on metal, a slit opened on the door and two eyes glared out at the group. After a careful inspection from the thug on the other side of the door, a voice asked, “Who rules the sewers below the streets?”
Tanin replied, “The Rat.”
The sound of a strong lock clicked open, and the door swung inward for the three intrepid adventurers to enter. Tanin entered and told the ruffian who opened the door that he and his companions sought employment with the gang. The ruffian asked how they knew the code word to open the door. Tanin mentioned that he had connections with the underworld of Cyr and that one of these connections suggested this warehouse. The ruffian paused and seemed to think about Tanin’s explanation and suggested he wait by the door as he spoke with one of his associates. The ruffian walked towards a group at a table at the far end of the building. Meanwhile, Tanin eyeballed the stack of crates to his immediate right. Seemed strange that they would be piled so high in one corner of the building when they had so much space to store goods.
The men at the table, about 100 feet away, seemed to be in the midst of a card game. They dropped their cards as the ruffian approached. One of the thugs spoke closely with the ruffian and looked in the direction of Tanin. The thug looked up to the ceiling and then seemed to nod to the corner near Tanin behind the wall of crates. Before Tanin grasped what was going on, the pile of crates came crashing down on him! The party’s subterfuge had failed.
Tanin’s quick reflexes saved him as he just managed to jump out of the way of the crashing crates. All the men at the table stood up drawing weapons and ran towards the party. Tanin moved up to engage the ruffians running his way. Sareph and Bao witnessed the ambush from the doorway. Sareph pulled his sword from the awning he was still using as an improvised sheath which he threw to the floor. He delivered a mighty blow against the thug who had knocked the pile of crates onto Tanin. Bao scanned the room and took note of a door at the very back of the warehouse. He dashed for it.
The battle ticked up a notch as a thug hiding in the rafters of the ceiling started to snipe at the party with a crossbow. Tanin was hit by a bolt before he realized where the shooting was coming from. Sareph traded blows with the thug at the crates, but the thug fell to the barbarian’s sword. Bao dashed to the back door, momentarily ignored by the ruffians who were focused on Tanin. He pressed his shoulder into the door and tried the handle but it was locked. Tanin severely injured one of the ruffians who had moved up to engage him. The man dropped his weapon and fled out the door of the warehouse. Sareph meanwhile had worked his way around the pile of crates taking cover from the crossbowman. He decided to try a gamble. With a mighty roar, Sareph knocked over one of the barrels in this corner of the building, gave it a shove, and leaped on top of it. He managed to stay on top of it for about five feet as it rolled in the direction of the crossbowman but at that point he lost his footing, crashing down on his back in an spectacular fall. His plan to somehow reach the crossbowman or at least intimidate him failed miserably.
Bao moved back towards the ruffians and threw a dart at one of them. The crossbowman in the rafters took another shot at Tanin but missed. Tanin, tiring of the battle, cast sleep on the ruffians near him. Two fell to the ground in a slumber. Sareph stood back up, thankfully only his pride wounded, and charged one of the standing ruffians, delivering a deep wound along his arm. The sniper in the rafters hit Tanin with another bolt.
Tanin directed a beam of crackling energy at the crossbowman in the rafters. The sniper cried out as the magical force slammed into him. The ruffian next to Sareph looked to his fallen comrades and decided to make a run for the door. Sareph dropped his sword and aimed his bow at the sniper, his arrow piercing the sniper’s side. Bao threw another dart at the remaining ruffian, who followed the lead of his companion and bolted for the door. The sniper unleashed one last desperate shot at Tanin which flew wide. Tanin and Sareph in return brought the crossbowman down. A blast of energy and an arrow ending his life and bringing him crashing to the floor.
The three approached the locked door at the back of the warehouse. Tanin knocked back a potion of healing to help with the pain and blood loss from the sniper’s bolts. Listening at the door, the three heard the sounds of a man and woman arguing. Sareph motioned for Bao and Tanin to back away and with a mighty kick, the door was wrenched from the frame. Light from wall sconces revealed a staircase that led down to a narrow but long room 20′ × 50′. Tanin charged down the stairs as Bao leaped from the landing at the top of the staircase to the floor, rolling as he landed. Bao leaped up to his feet, his quarterstaff at the ready, displaying his intimidating martial prowess. At the back of the room stood two figures, a rat-man and a woman dressed in fine attire.
The woman cried out, “Oh please! Please help me!” She fell away from the were-rat in an exaggerated performance of distress. The were-rat snarled and then charged Bao, his short sword nearly dealing a mortal wound. Tanin’s scimitar, the Blade of Dark Deeds, found its mark in the were-rat’s side. The rat-man cried out and directed pure venom in his look towards Tanin. Sareph leaped down from the landing, this time gracefully rolling to his feet and slicing the were-rat from collarbone to hip. The woman-in-distress pulled a dagger from a scabbard on her thigh, stabbed Tanin in the back, and made an attempt to flee up the stairs. Tanin cried out in pain, yet delivered a serious blow to her side as she attempted to escape. Bao brought his quarterstaff down in a mighty crack atop the were-rat’s head, who crumpled upon the floor. Sareph chased the woman to the foot of the stairs. She looked back, her eyes wide with fear. Sareph steeled his jaw for the bloodletting and with a mighty swing, severed the woman’s head from her shoulders. Her head rolled ten feet to rest at the foot of Tanin’s boot. Tanin recoiled and jumped slightly at the sight.
The were-rat in death reverted back to human form. The party searched the two bodies finding a lute and a silvered rapier and silvered dagger and some coins on the were-rat. The woman had a little money, 13 gp in a pouch, an unusual double-headed coin in her pocket, and numerous copies of the wanted poster of the Raven posted by the city watch. Tanin quickly deduced that the woman was, in fact, the Raven!
Tanin and Bao argued over what to do with the Raven’s body. They bickered back and forth about bringing her to the watch or to the Jackdaws. At one point, they thought about bringing the head to one and the body to the other. Then, the head to one and then the other, in an attempt to obtain the 500 gp reward from the city watch and the 250 gp reward from the Jackdaws. Sareph, in disgust, and with a sense of unease at striking down a poorly-armed woman grabbed her body and head, wrapped her in the fishmonger’s awning, and headed for the door of the warehouse. In the midst of their bickering, Bao and Tanin realized what had just happened and chased after Sareph, catching him right before he exited the warehouse. They managed to calm him down and decided that they would stick with their original plan and bring the body to the Jackdaws. They tied and bound the sleeping ruffians too to back up their story.
Tanin made contact with the Jackdaws. They agreed to meet at the Golden Trident in the wee-hours of the morning. Led to a back room by the tavern keeper, three members of the Jackdaws entered. When you show them the head of The Raven, the main Jackdaw agent’s eyes grow wide.
He says, “Mistress Thea Kellergis! A merchant-noble of the Lesser House involved in thievery! We suspected she was involved in some type of criminal activity since she had been so charitable to the poor of the city without it seeming to affect her own wealth, although her alms had ceased some time ago. Maybe her taste for theft got the best of her and she became greedy? Good thing you didn’t bring her head to the watch. They’d never believe Mistress Kellergis would be involved in such behavior. And murder of a merchant-noble is punishable by execution in Cyr. But she couldn’t have been working alone given the thefts taking place across the wealthier houses in Cyr. Her spies and cohorts wouldn’t have been capable. Do you know who she was working with? And where are the stolen goods?”
Tanin explained that they only knew of the fishmonger, Grady, who somehow had escaped his bonds while they were fighting the ruffians in the warehouse. Tanin also explained that the warehouse did not contain any of the contraband the Raven had been accused of stealing.
The Jackdaws took the captives for further interrogation. The Jackdaws handed over a nondescript sack with 350 gp as payment, giving a 100 gp bonus for the job. They also ask Tanin, Bao, and Sareph to take them to the warehouse for further inspection. They tell the party that they will dispose of the body–making it seem that Mistress Kellergis was murdered in one of the poor quarters of the city when she was delivering aid to the indigent. In all likelihood, the Jackdaws will use Mistress Kellergis’s death as a way of implicating some foe of the crime who will be put to death. They remind Tanin, Bao, and Sareph to keep their knowledge of the Raven quiet.
Bao and Sareph advanced to 2nd level.
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Adventure also based partially on “Rats in the Street” by Embers Design Studio
Warehouse Map Tiles/Terrain by Black Scrolls Games: Modular Inn – Map-Tile Set
Market Map Tiles/Terrain by Fat Dragon Games: Fantasy Village Tiles
Crates and Barrels by Fat Dragon Games: E-Z Dungeons Deluxe Edition
Bandit Paper Miniatures: Bandit Warband by One Monk/Mayhem in Paper
Farmer’s Market Customers: Dryws Imperfect Crowd
Inspiration for the Jackdaws Guild: Nord Games Ultimate NPCs: Skulduggery