An incredible battle ends with several dangerous assassins lying dead. Fixer, Dorin and Rokester enter the room the "temple guards" were guarding only to find Baba Moonweave and Gaius Tanaquil and a suite in disarray. The two groups stare each other down and try to decide whether to attack or speak to one another...
Rokester, Dorin and Baba do most of the talking - The two groups tell their stories and try to put the puzzle pieces together. As they reveal details about each other's journey up to this point, things start to make a little more sense to both sides, although mysteries still loom. As they continue to try to piece the story together, the tavernkeeper at the Hollow House Inn leads some guards up to the battle scene. The captain of the watch, who doesn't introduce himself but leads the others, seems annoyed of being awakened so late in the night more than anything and takes the testimony of the party. He tells them the real temple guards and Bishop Avery were murdered on their way along the road and presumes that these people were responsible for their deaths - especially considering the changeling's body in the street.
The captain of the watch tells them they are free to go, but wants them to depart so they don't bring any more trouble to the town. He also mentions a missing chest that contained Sovereign Host gold. Dorin convinces the captain to let the party stay, and also talks the innkeeper into letting them spend the night in the suite the false bishop was staying in exchange for Fixer to do a little bit of repairs while they slept. The innkeeper agrees and the guards remove the bodies of the slain. The party bunks down for the night and Fixer gets to work.
Baba, a bit distraught by the situation, goes to sleep immediately. Rokester cleans himself up while Dorin and Gaius search the room for this missing chest. Gaius finds a few uneven boards that look as if they had been tampered with recently. Sure enough, after prying up the boards with a crowbar, they find a small chest below the floorboards. After discussing it among themselves, Dorin and Rokester decide it'd be best to return the gold to the captain and hope for a reward. The party goes to sleep for the night.
The room looks as if it were new when the party wakes the next morning. Fixer is putting the final touches on the windows while everyone else prepares for the morning. The party is comprised of an odd assortment of interesting characters - Rokester punishes himself with some sort of stick, while Dorin tromps around the room naked, Gaius snoring loudly and probably would sleep through a tornado, and Baba eats like an animal might. The party gathers their things, and heads down to checkout of their room. The innkeeper is impressed with Fixer's work and gives him a gold coin for his time.
The party makes their way to the guard headquarters and delivers the missing Sovereign Host gold. The captain rewards the party with fifty coins he says the Host has offered for anyone returning the gold. Then, the party decides what to do next. After discussing things more, they decide the number must be a bank account number with House Kundarak and Xandrar would be their next destination - to search for a bank. They mount horses and head north toward Xandrar.
The party travels for a day and a half uneventfully and arrives at Xandrar in the midst of the Breland National Fair. Fixer heads off to find out where he stands in the King Boranel Sculpture competition while the rest of the party heads to find a House Kundarak bank. They find one easily enough and make their way there. When they arrive they are greeted by an attendant but then quickly passed on to what appears to be a supervisor. Apparently, the owner of this account has been deemed important. The supervisor leads them to a secure vault where Baba and the party can access the account. Left alone with a safety deposit box, Baba opens it and inside finds two things. A document containing a name and a passage on it - and a small pouch full of emeralds.
The script on the document says this:
Herrgoth d'Cannith "A keeper among Towers, creator of souls, first step to the Dying Sun he knows."
The party is somewhat baffled by this and decides it'd be better to examine and discuss what this might mean at a less obvious location. They close the account, leave the bank and head toward a more discreet location. They arrive at a small inn off the beaten path and fill their bellies with Brelish chicken and dumplings and mead. They discuss the document more and decide that "Towers" refers to Sharn, the City of Towers, and this Herrgoth d'Cannith must be there. This is where they must head. After eating, they decide they need to find Fixer and head to the art contest booth. When they find it, they find him. It turns out Fixer comes in 5th among many contestants and doesn't win the grand prize to meet King Boranel, although he does win a consolation prize of additional lightning rail tickets back to Sharn.
The party gathers themselves and head to the lightning rail terminal to head to Sharn. While waiting to board the rail, they see a group of House Deneith bodyguards escort an elaborately decorated, canopied throne to the rail before they let anyone else board. This is obviously someone of great importance. House Orien, the lightning rail operators, then let others board and the party soon finds themselves riding along the southern edge of the Blackcap Mountains toward Sharn. The party is seated near the end of the rail closest to the final cart, where they can see Deneith sentinels guarding it - obviously the important person from earlier resides in that cart. The rail speeds on through the night. All of the party but Fixer sleeps soundly until he hears a loud thump on the roof of the lightning rail. He wakes Dorin and the others.
Dorin and Rokester head toward the front of the rail to investigate. They meet two House Orien cargo guards and convince the guards to allow them to investigate further. One guard leads them into the next cart, a cargo hold, and pulls down the stairs to check out the roof where the sound was heard.
Meanwhile, back in the cart the party was seated, Baba hears another thump, only at the end of the cart. She then sees two red-cloaked figures with black wolfhead brooches enter the cart and walk determinedly toward them. She nudges Gaius and he gives a look. Wide-eyed, he slumps down in his seat and motions for Baba to do the same. The men pass the party and head to the cart the Deneith guards are. Within seconds, the red-cloaked figures have slain both guards. One enters the cart with the other begins to detach the cart from the rest of the train. Gaius tells Baba he knows of the brooch symbol they wear - these are the Crimson Wolves, an elite group of assassins who are some of the most deadly in the region.
Ahead, Dorin climbs the stairs to the roof; he sees nothing. Rokester takes a peak and sees a shadow fall into the cart just behind the elemental bound engine. They push ahead, the Orien guard leading the way. When they get to the next cart, the Orien guard enters only to abruptly stop. He falls backward into Dorin's arms, a blade wound in his throat. A shadowy figure uses a smokestick to fill the area with a heavy cover.
Baba leaves Gaius to keep an eye on the assassins while she goes to find Dorin and Rokester. She heads forward and meets the Orien guard who stayed back. He tells her nervously to find them and tell the other guard he needs to get back here to his post! Baba moves forward through the first cargo cart.
Up head, Dorin and Rokester spot the shadowy figure and using torches lure him out into the open for a fight. They battle the red-cloaked figure and defeat him easily. Though ss they finish that battle, another figure steps into the cart, he is cleaning blood off of his blade. Another battle erupts.
Baba makes her way to the next cart and in the torchlight ahead she sees Dorin and Rokester battling one of the red-cloaked assassins. She moves forward and prepares for battle. The three of them easily dispatch the assassin and move into the engine cart to see who's blood the assassin was cleaning off of his blade. They see a House Orien dragonmarked heir lying in a pool of blood. The lightning rail wasn't being controlled - and up ahead they notice the conductor stones leading across a ravine have been damaged! The rail will easily spill into the ravine. Whoever isn't killed by the crash will surely be killed by the loosed, angry elemental.
The three of them get Fixer to the front and he begins trying to figure out how to control the bound elemental and stop the lightning rail. Dorin decides to detach all the carts behind the engine and hope it slows to a stop before it tumbles off the cliff. Dorin, Rokester and Baba head to the back of the rail. Gaius tells them he saw the last cart slow to a stop a few hundred yards back. Rokester, wasting no time, spurs his mount to leap off the rail and lands safely. He charges ahead into the night toward the detached cart. Baba and Dorin wait for the rail to slow to a stop and follow behind. Gaius says he will go ahead and see if Fixer makes it.
When Rokester arrives at the cart, he sees the door has been left open - several Deneith sentinel bodies line the floor. Then, he sees a figure throw a body onto the back of a horse off the path of the conductor stones and head into the forest. Rokester follows the assailant as best he can, but loses the rider in the forest. He places a candle to mark the path and returns to the cart to meet Dorin and Baba.
Dorin and Baba arrive at the cart and hear a low moan within. When they enter, they see all but one of the Deneith sentinels are dead. The one living is a female lieutenant who explains what happened. The red-cloaked figures caught the sentinels off guard and before they even had a chance to react had killed and maimed most everyone. They ran off with their apparent mark, an Aerenal emissary known as Lady Taelira, House Deneith was escorting to Sharn. The female lieutenant charges the party with finding and returning her - her House's name and reputation rely on it. Dorin and Baba bandage her wounds and leave her to rest. As they leave the cart, they see Rokester come out of the woodline, candle in hand. He tells them to come with him.
Rokester leads Dorin and Baba to the candle he planted near the rider's trail. Using her keen animalistic senses and the fact that a heavy downpour caused thick mud laden with tracks, Baba follows the tracks through the nighttime forest. The three of them are led to a small valley walled on three sides by the Blackcaps. A small village, lit up brightly with lanterns and firelight despite it being nearly four in the morning, is nestled in the valley. The tracks lead directly into the village.
The three of them follow the tracks into the village where they see a sign smeared in tar which reads, "Welcome to the Black Pit". The three keep a low profile and head into the village. Baba loses the tracks along the road, but it's obvious where the assassin headed. A large tavern, loud and rowdy, is the center of the village. They sneak to the side of the tavern where Dorin and Rokester boost Baba up to get a view inside. Sure enough, she spots a red-cloaked figure who orders something from the bar and heads toward her. Baba feels the sting of the assassin's eyes on her and ducks down, but he doesn't seem to notice her. She gets below the window but not before she notices the red-cloaked figure head down a set of stairs - stairs guarded by a massive ogre.
The three of them head to the back of the inn and spot two humans having a conversation underneath a lantern light. Nearby is a cellar door, locked with a padded lock. They try to distract the men away from the door with a few rocks from Baba's sling, but the men seem undisturbed. Then, Dorin and Rokester decide to approach the men. Dorin pretends he is upset with one of the men, claiming they messed with his sister. The man who wears an apron backs off while the other stands firm. Dorin and Rokester attack the man using non-lethal assaults to pummel him into unconsciousness. He doesn't have any sort of key, but the other man was warded off and they are now free to break into the cellar.
Using a crowbar, they pry open the lock and head into the dark cellar. A small light shines underneath a door on the far left side of the cellar. When they open the door slightly, they see it is directly next to the stairs the red-cloaked figure walked down into a corridor. At the top of the stairs, the large ogre stands guard. Baba tries to sneak out into the hall to get a better look and when she does, she accidentally steps on a creaking board. The ogre looks down and immediately questions her. Baba tries to bluff her way out, saying she is looking for her father but the ogre is not impressed. He snatches her up by her mane and throws her out of the tavern.
Rokester moves to the top of the stairs to make sure Baba isn't harmed while Dorin moves in to investigate. There are three doors in the corridor. The first he opens and two men are in there apparently waiting for someone or something. The next is locked and has no sound. The third is locked but has two voices coming from it. Rokester sees Baba is fine, although thrown into the street and laughed at by some rowdy tavern patrons. He heads down the stairs and helps Dorin bust into the third room. Sure enough, the red-cloaked figure is sitting at a table. At the other end of the table, a humanoid in tattered, stained brown robes sits. The humanoid in the robes has his hand on the table and it appears his flesh has been ripped from his hand, only muscle tissue and bone being revealed.
A fight erupts between the Crimson Wolves assassin, Dorin and Rokester. Meanwhile, Baba returned around the back of the tavern and into the cellar. The ogre has returned to his post and it appears at any moment he'll notice the battle going on. So, Baba starts a fire in the cellar to distract the ogre and hopefully scare the patrons out of the establishment. The ogre heads down into the cellar and yells fire! He moves over to a trough of water that Baba didn't see and begins to tear it out of the wall and dump it on the fire. Baba leaps on the back of the ogre and tries to stop him, but the ogre is much too powerful. Instead, he grabs her up by her clothes and recognizing her, decides he will barbecue her instead. He moves to throw her into the fire.
Fighting in the doorway of the third room, the assassin is much more skilled than his comrades on the lightning rail and Dorin is nearly killed, but with the help of Rokester, they defeat the assassin. Rokester searches his body for a key and finds a room key. He opens the second room and finds the missing emissary, bound and blinded by a black hood. Dorin hears screams from Baba and moves toward the cellar. He sees the ogre about to throw Baba into the fire and tells the ogre that is his missing daughter and to unhand her! The ogre is caught off guard and is intimidated by Dorin's presence and hands over Baba. Dorin then tells the ogre to take care of the fire.
Rokester throws the emissary over his shoulder, and meets with Baba and Dorin at the end of the corridor. Above in the tavern hall, they can hear a drunk patron yell "Fire!" and people start to crash their way out of the tavern. Behind them, they hear a cracking voice...
"Ah, but my business here is not conducted yet..."
The three turn to face the man in the tattered, stained brown robes. His hood is down this time, and his face mimics his hand. It appears his skin has been flayed from his head and only bloody muscle tissue, bone and ligament can be seen. His lipless smile doesn't bode well for the party...
To be continued!