Accompanied by a flash of purple flame, each of the adventurers materialized back in the basement of McWands’ mansion. Drengy experienced only the slightest of nausea from traveling through the Shar Cultist’s shadow plane teleportation circle. His allies seemed to fair much worse, but then again they were not Githzerai and had not come from generations who had either adapted to or died from the hardships of planar travel.
As the group headed out of the mansion destine for Amcathra’s home, Drengy felt a cold uncomfortable sense of being watched. Lengara felt it too and though he scanned for mystic scrying he detected no magic irregularities here other than the thinning of planar barriers derivative of using the shadow plane teleportation circle. Drengy suggested the obvious means of flushing out hidden enemies – burning down the house and rapidly shooting arrows in random direction, but his allies desired less conspicuous tactics. The band began moving quietly and deliberately through the city to reach Amcathra’s safehaven, darting from alley to alley to evade or shake pursuers.
Thought the stalkers moved like shadows imperceptible to any normal person, Drengy saw them. Groups of two or three cloaked halflings, darting along the distant rooftops, scampering from cover to cover, keeping their distance but unmistakably tracking the heroes. As the adventurers entered the vegetable market courtyard Drengy with a casual grunt spread the message to his allies that they were definitely being tailed, and that the noose would be soon be closing.
Seeking a speedy exit Feral tried hailing a carriage, but there were none in this part of town. So he tried the next best thing by soliciting a nearby turnip farmer to rent his horse and wagon.
The farmer and his sons were in the middle of unloading the turnip laden cart, and seemed open to a lengthy negotiation as to price, until Drengy cut to the chase, “Here’s one platinum,” he said tossing the heavy coin to the turnip farmer, “I just rented your horse and cart.”
The stunned farmer accepted, but noted he needed to empty the cart first of its delicate cargo. The words were barely out of his mouth before Feral was hauling heavy turnip bags out of the cart with brute speed. Tin moved under the cart, ostensibly to help unload but more specifically to see if he could get a glimpse of who or what was chasing the band. Klemnon moved across the courtyard and appeared to be polishing his Pelor holy symbol while actually using it as a mirror to scan the rooftops behind him for pursuers. He didn’t have to look long.
From multiple directions blackjaw members emerged into the market. The leaders of the band were three bulky humans wielding mancatchers – long poles ending in crushing snares. The more numerous halfling gangsters each carried a net and a bandoleer of needle tipped darts. They were spread all over the courtyard, three even being on the roof above the adventurers. Although they wore hoods, each gang member clearly displayed the black jaw facial tattoo which was the gang’s calling card.
The largest made their demand, “You have to pay for what you did Woodsfellow! Turn him over and we’ll let the rest of you go.”
“Hmm, well that depends..,” Feral responded, “What’s the bounty up to?”, mostly trying to buy time for the heroes to prepare themselves, but also curious as to what kind of cash might be found at the end of this trail. The Blackjaw did not answer the question, but Drengy took the opportunity to jump atop of the wagon for an unobstructed view of the sprawling marketplace.
The Blackjaw spokesman was unimpressed. “Everyone knows Githzerai archers can’t hit the broad side of a barn, you better run while you can ya noseless coward,” he taunted.
Drengy was as motionless as a statue. Lost in a memory.
While a member of a short lived fungus cult, one night Drengy spotted and scared off a nearly invisible assassin infiltrating the self proclaimed Fungus King’s private studio. The elated Fungus King elevated Drengy to the post of high honor guard, and gave him two orders: never take up arms against the King, as he is your only sovereign, and anyone who insults Drengy must die, for an insult to the King’s guard is an insult to the King. The Fungus King boasted to his followers that Drengy’s eyes were like those of an eagle, and the cult would never again need fear hidden assassins.
That night Drengy’s keen eyes once again detected the nearly invisible assassin creeping towards the Fungus King’s studio. Drengy whistled to get the intruder’s attention, tossed the keys to the King’s chambers to his feet, and casually walked out the front doors to the palisade camp. Drengy, who’s vision is much better than an eagle’s, does not like being insulted.
As a hailstorm of Drengy’s arrows poured into the gang spokesman, Lengara moved to launch his own assault but the readied gang was faster. Poisoned darts launched at Tin from concealed snipers on the roof and grounds, two halfling boutyhunters threw ensnaring nets capturing Tin in a barbed web, and the mancatcher wielding humans bore down on Klemnon and Feral, snagging each in a vice like grip. Lengara and Tin rained eldrich energy and thrown axes, respectively, into the now badly injured spokeman, and Klemnon teleported out of the crushing vice which held him. But more and more gang members were pouring into the market, even as Drengy knocked the Blackjaw chasing Klemnon to the ground with a grounding shot.
Then in a flash Drengy vanished entirely.
Drengy reappeared in a rolling flowered meadow in the Fey Wild, the bright light of two suns illuminating a dazzling array of colors all around him. He immediately spun and notched a water arrow in his enchanted bow, preparing for the teleport back into the prime material world which would occur in seconds. The arrow formed in his bow, then split, and split again making three arrows ready to fly, but as all this happened Drengy became distracted.
At the edge of the field was creature not native to the Fey Wild. It was a white striped badger and it was locked in a brutal melee with a towering Fey Dire Strike Viper – a snake as massive as a large bull. It was an impossible sight, as this forty pound animal had apparently shaken off multiple bites and the normally paralyzing venom of the gigantic snake in order to locked itself inexorably into the snake’s neck. With focused intensity the badger was now thrashing to death its impossible foe.
The Fey Wild is a world defined by lush beauty and equal danger, where everything, even the plants, was potentially a lethal predator. Only the strongest and most deadly survived here, only the most determined. Most animals native to the prime material plane would not last a day. But this unpleasant beast, this out of place creature adapted, it endured, it overcame – no matter the odds.
Drengy nodded in approval and using muscles that had nearly atrophied from neglect slowly smiled.
Back in the vegetable market, things were looking bad. Tin had been poisoned by multiple darts, and the halfling bounty hunters who had netted him were dragging him into an alley. Feral was similarly immobilized by one of the long armed mancatchers. More enemies were arriving at the edges of the courtyard and the three Blackjaw snipers that had been peppering Tin with poisoned darts had become inbedded behind cover atop a nearby building.
Lengara scanned the scene to reevaluate the odds against the team when he heard it, first the crack of someone plane-jumping onto the roof, accompanied by a blast of wind that pushed each of the three halfling snipers to the dangerous edge, followed by the lethal thud of three water arrows blasting each sniper off the roof to their deaths. As the toughest of the roof snipers let loose his best Wilhem scream, Lengara knew the high ground now belonged to Drengy.
Lengara blasted eldrich charges into the Blackjaw thugs threatening to drag Tin off, and both he and Klemnon tossed themselves into melee with the huddled scrum of assailants carting off their halfling ally. It was an unusual sight for Drengy on his perch – seeing the pacifist cleric and pact bound warlock willingly choosing close quarters combat, but they seemed determined if not desperate to save Tin from abduction. Bypassing easier targets for the time being, Drengy began picking off the Blackjaw thugs threatening to flank Klemnon and Legara.
As arrows flashing by him on both sides, Klemnon raised his holy symbol high and changed the battlefield equation with a denunciating holy word so potent that the Blackjaw gangster who heard it was overcome with a sense of peace making him unable to attack Klemnon or his friends. Feral meanwhile escaped the restricting mancatcher grip only to be netted and dragged towards a dark alley. Panicking for a moment over being ensnared Feral seemed unable to escape the kidnapping, but roaring something about nobody putting Feral in a net he ultimately slew his abductor with a lethally aimed javelin to the back.
Though it had started badly and involved overwhelming numbers, the adventurers finally overcame the waves of gang members and kept the party intact.
Drengy contently collected macabre souvenirs from the battlefield while Tin and Lengara futility checked for valuables. None this time. Feral meanwhile took the driving seat of the cart determined to ride to Amcathra’s as fast as possible. Since the Turnip Farmer and his sons had fled the fighting, the half-lycanthrope left a semi-legible note on the turnip sacks indicating the cart would be left at Amcathra’s manner after it was used.
The normally familiar and welcome grounds of Amcathra’s estate was expectantly closed off and swarming with members of the none-too-happy looking city watch. District Captain Justin stopped the horse and announced no admission by order of the Lords of Waterdeep. Before Drengy, or worse Feral, could pipe up, Lengara smooth talked the guard into explaining what was going on. Apparently a warrant had been issued for the arrest of the wizard Amcathra on charges of engaging in dark magics and horrible experiments the likes of which had not been seen since the bad days of the McWands terrors. The wizard had apparently disappeared and there was a five thousand gold reward for information leading to his arrest.
With Amcathra gone and his estate off limits, the band needed an out of the way place they could get a safe nights rest. Tin said he knew a place, a solitary inn built into a hillside called “Tinker’s Loom” which would fit the bill. Upon reaching the inn, each hero chose a separate room and settled in for good night’s rest.
Come morning Drengy sat up in bed to scratch the sleep out of his eyes. He was fully clothed, of course, with bow already in hand – habits he had developed while a member of the last cult he was a member of. Or was it the cult he had joined before that, he couldn’t remember.
As he headed to breakfast in the inn common hall, Drengy past the closed doors to Klemnon’s and Tin’s rooms. The rooms were silent to Drengy’s keen ears and he implicitly knew their occupants were gone. The door to Lengara’s room was open, revealing the Eladrin still sitting cross legged on his bed looking disheveled and unkempt, his hair askew and heavy bags under the warlock’s eyes. It was an uncharacteristic appearance for Lengara, suggesting he had not rested well, or perhaps not at all. Drengy paused just long enough to look in while scratching the side of his cheek, then moved on. The door to Feral’s room was also open, revealing that the floorboards had been torn up and someone had been rolling enthusiastically in the dusty earth beneath. Drengy took it in while yawning but otherwise registered neither surprise nor concern.
The inn keeper looked on from the door to the kitchen with unease as Drengy began gorging himself on the spread before him. Four varieties of sweet rolls, fresh berries on buckwheat crepes, thick browned pancakes with maple syrup, and more spread across the table. The light berry wine was particularly good as well, although the vegetarian Drengy ignored the a tray of pork sausages and grilled anchovies.
Upstairs Drengy could hear the Feral and Lengara checking in on Klemnon, finding the door to his room unlocked and the room empty of both Klemnon and his gear. He could hear his teammates determining that the room had been slept in and tidied up after use, suggesting Klemnon Melk had headed out sometime during the night without telling any of his allies.
As Drengy used the crook of his bow to pull a tray of tarts across the table to him, he heard the door to Tin’s room rattle against the lock followed swiftly by the loud crash as Feral kicked in the door. With sudden alarm, the Inn Keeper move to investigate.
Looking up from his meal for the first time, Drengy caught the Inn Keeper’s attention. “These tarts, they’re exquisite. I could kill for more,” he glowered, his low, gravely voice not so much threatening as merely stating a fact. The wide-eyed Inn Keeper spun on his heels to return with to the kitchen, leaving Lengara and Feral to pursue their investigation uninterrupted.
The furniture in Tin’s room was overturned and scattered, and most of Tin’s pack and gear was scattered across the floor. As Feral searched for further signs of a fight, Lengara took a deep breach and let his third sight peer into residual magics of the room, revealing a left over thinness between realities which suggested a flash portal to the Shadow or Fey Wild realms had snapped open here during the night. Tin had been taken, presumably by the Blackjaws or someone motivated by the bounty on the halfling’s head.
As Feral and Drengy rushed downstairs to share their discoveries with Drengy, a runner from the Church of Pelor arrived to deliver a message of master Klemnon Melk working the wards and library of the church and Pelor hospital.
Drengy finished the last pancake, wiped his mouth on his sleeve, and announced “Well no use gabbing, lets go get `em,” and headed off for the Pelor Temple. Feral and Lengara scrambled to grab the rest of their gear and chased after him.
The adventurers found Klemnon studying in the Pelor library. The Pelor priest had come early to the church to help those still suffering the aftereffects of massive Night’s Embrae overdoses and to speak with the church’s high reverend, Father Caspian. Klemnon reported that he had learned that Amcathra had been indited on allegations of dark magics and a warrant issued for his arrest. Klemnon had also spent some time researching the history of the Archdevil Tasnia, and learned it was rumored to be one of the lords of the nine hells, probably a powerful pit fiend, and that it had perhaps fought the famed wizard Elminister in some old, ancient battles.
The party spent some time scouring the church records and nearby taverns and businesses for additional information.
Feral accessed the library’s accounts of forbidden faiths to find clues as to the headquarters of the Malar Cult of Sarenclaws. He learned that the subset of Malar followers in the cult were followers of the mad Malar prophet Garmos Saerenclaw, that the current leader was believed to be a human female vampire, and that they were believed to operate out of a hidden base deep within the Undermountain dungeon. Feral could barely contain his fury in learning that the same organization he had declared a Vendetta upon was not hiding in some distant land but were close, potentially concealed beneath his very feet.
Lengara worked the crowds in and around the hospital and surrounding neighborhood to gather intelligence on the Black Jaw gang. The gang was pretty excited, he learned, and word on the street was that the gang had nabbed or was about to nab Tin Woodsfellow. After some unspecified setbacks, the gang was regrouping at the Waterdeep Ironworks (an address Lengara noted that had been one of the sources of raw materials being shipped to the Black Jaw’s brewery to be made into the drug Nights Embrace).
On a whim or a hunch, Drengy decided to take the horse and cart he leased back to the vegetable market turnip farmer. As he rode up to the farmer, the man began fidgeting and packing his wares into a backpack with awkwardly deliberate speed, even offering to return ninety of the one hundred gold to Drengy had paid him to lease his horse and cart. Drengy felt the weight of the gold in his hand, and eyed the modest farmer’s coin purse. A coin purse suspiciously bulging compared to the day before.
“This gold, its no good. I’d like to see other gold, like the gold in your belt I think,” the githyanki growled.
Terrified, the farmer offered Drengy all his gold and began pleading not to be hurt. He explained that after Drengy left, this one Blackjaw guy, kind of a thin pipsqueak of a guy but accompanied by a bunch of thugs, showed up and threatened to hurt him and his sons if he didn’t tell him where the ugly Githzerai had gone. The farmer showed them the note that was left about Amcathra’s mansion, and they paid him to stay quite but he just wanted to leave and never come back. Drengy stared at him for a while before he refused the extra gold, but he wasn’t quite done with the turnip farmer yet.
“I’m not gonna hurt you, I’m gonna let you go back to your farm and stay out of the city. But….” Drengy trailed off, now leaning over the cowering turnip merchant, “You happen to see that Blackjaw again, the one that insulted me, you tell ‘em – Drengy’s on his way.”