Ruins of Adventure

Episode XVI: Beck Returns

Having safely returned to New Phlan bearing the body of their recently deceased comrade/meatshield Wulf, the party headed straight for the temple of Tyr hoping to get him raised or at least in cold storage before he started to smell bad. They also decided to bring in Rajmani, still in town, as backup for their next expedition to the Textile House.

Bishop Braccio was sympathetic, and quite willing to help the party in view of their past services to the city and the temple, but warned the party that they would need to find the 5,000 GP worth of diamonds on their own. With their recent successes, the group was more than able to pay the necessary gold; the problem was that New Phlan was too small a town to find more than around 1100 GP worth of gems even after visiting all the local jewelers. As a result, the party faced three unpalatable choices: adventuring without their fighter, traveling to Melvaunt to buy more gems, or begging.

Naturally they decided on begging, and dispatched Aeryn to Poryphrys Cadorna’s townhouse. Cadorna was also sympathetic (Aeryn’s good at evoking strong emotion), but was unable to help – he had already sunk most of his remaining funds into “another project” dependent on the party’s success at the Textile House. The party next attempted to tap into Jerome of Melvaunt’s connections – successfully. Jerome was happy to come up with 4000 GP worth of gems…for a finder’s fee and the promise of a favor to be named later. Though MacTavish was hesitant about accepting the deal, he realized there really was no other way to get the gems to raise Wulf, and he accepted. One day later, the gems arrived and by the grace of Tyr, Wulf was restored to life (at 5th level).

Now up to full strength again, the party returned to the Textile House to find it in chaos. With Hwyll’s death, the gnoll tribe had degenerated into a leaderless mob. Discipline was so bad that the party even managed to use the same roof-entry trick they had used in their last try. By sniping from the roof, the party quickly cleared the courtyard again, while Tarask pried up a roof tile to check out the interior of the building below them. He saw the gnolls’ shaman, deep in some sort of ritual,and warned the party of what was occurring.

At this point Inigo, tired of watching the rest of the party kill things from the rooftop, took a mighty leap – and crashed to the floor of the courtyard with a broken rib. Wolf followed after – and thumped to the ground beside him. One by one the party leaped from the roof like lemmings, until only Raj and Tarask were left on the roof. Raj shrugged, and jumped, landing on top of Inigo. Tarask blinked a few times, and carefully climbed down as the party collected themselves. Only Ginallath remained up top, hoping to get a shot at any gnolls which entered the courtyard.

Aeryn was already heading towards the shaman’s quarters, and as she opened the door she quickly saw that the summoning ritual was complete: an evil-looking spider rushed towards her while the shaman readied another spell. At the same time, the shaman’s two acolytes stepped in from another room to defend their master. Wulf, Inigo, and Raj rushed in to support Aeryn, and the battle was joined. Though the gnolls and their summoned spider fought hard, they were no match for the party – the shaman himself falling to Inigo’s deftly wielded blades.

A quick search of the clerics’ meager possessions turned up little except a small pouch fo gold – though MacTavish noted that their gnoll holy symbols of Yeenoghu had been defaced and turned into holy symbols of Bane. The party now moved on into the outbuildings, watching both for any sign of more gnolls as well as for the Cadorna treasure.

Instead, in a workers’ tenement that had been converted into a rubbish midden, they found Beck Darkmantle – quite alive, though filthy and smelling worse than usual. Beck wasn’t sure how he’d gotten there, but he assured the party that his lycanthrope “issues” were in the past. Though Tarask urged the party to slay Beck “just to be sure”, they decided to take him along, while keeping a careful eye on him. Beck and Raj, already respectful of each others’ abilities from the fight at the Orc Camp, quickly developed an excellent working relationship.

After searching several more buildings, the party began to wonder why they hadn’t seen any gnolls for a while. This question was partially answered by the discovery of two mangy and ill-fed gnolls in one of the filthiest of the outbuildings. These were the tribe’s outcasts – referred to by the party as Clubfoot and Stutterer respectively. After a quick prayer to Tempus (and a comprehend languages), MacTavish was able to communicate with the outcasts. Clubfoot turned out to be depressed as well as lame, and asked the party to end his miserable life. Stutterer, conversely, explained (it took him a while) that he had information the party might be interested in – if they spared him (he also revealed that he and Clubfoot had had the unenviable job of carrying Beck’s “body” to the rubbish midden after the rest of the tribe jumped him in the ruins of the city and beat him up). After some debate, the party agreed and left Ginallath to watch the outcasts while they searched the last of the outbuildings.

This turned out to be the main gnoll barracks, where the remaining fighting gnolls and their gnoll-mates and cubs had retreated to make a last stand against the party. Grimly, the PCs waded in and cut down the warriors, and the gnoll women stepped forward to protect their cubs and were cut down by Inigo. Now the party was unsure…should they, could they, bring themselves to kill the young gnolls? Tentatively, MacTavish stepped forward to cast comprehend languages on one of the cubs – and all of them rushed him at once, tearing at him with their little claws and beating him with their little clubs. The ethical dilemma thus resolved, the party moved in to finish the grim task. Beck, unwilling to see the gnoll tribe completely destroyed, wrestled down two of the cubs and threw them into a large leather sack he was carrying.

With the last of the gnolls destroyed, the party made an exhaustive search for the Cadorna treasure, finding it at last hidden in a secret wall panel in Hwyll’s chamber. Tarask took charge of the items while the party released Clubfoot into the ruins, and they all headed back to New Phlan with the rest of their gnoll captives. Cadorna was delighted with their work, happily paying the party’s fee and advising them to come to the docks the next morning to see something “really neat”. With money in hand the party bid a not-so-fond farewell to Tarask, and headed back to Nat Wyler’s Bell.

Nat Wyler was no stranger to “mobile goods”. He proved to have several small holding cells beneath the Bell where the party left the gnolls while they decided their fate. MacTavish (again via comprehend) spoke with Stutterer and discovered that a powerful magic item had recently been discovered in the city and was going up for auction at Podol Plaza to the highest bidder. Stutterer didn’t know what it was, but he knew his chief had been excited about it. Furthermore, it was likely that the mysterious “Boss” would make an appearance, either in person or via an intermediary, to bid on the item.

With this information in hand, the party decided to reject an offer from the Phlan thieves’ guild to buy the gnoll cubs for 6,000 GP and instead release them and Stutterer outside the city early in the morning. Raj, already leaving the city on business of her own, volunteered to take on that job, and in the morning Ranger, Gnolls, and, mysteriously enough, Aeryn were all gone.

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