Upon their return to New Phlan, the group separated to buy equipment, relax at Nat Wyler’s Bell for a few drinks, and generally hang out. When they were rested and presentable, they headed over to the Phlan City Council chambers to recieve their reward from the harried and sarcastic clerk. They then began the semi-enjoyable task of spending their cash and looking for more work. Ginallath departed to take care of some business of his own (John couldn’t make it), while Aeryn checked with her shadowy contacts in Phlan’s dockyards.
Unemployment was, however, brief. At breakfast the next morning, the party was approached by a messenger boy from the Phlan City Council, who informed them that their services were needed. Beck Darkmantle, happy to have a new source for drinking money, was so happy he carried the kid on his shoulders all the way back to the Council Chambers.
There, they were brought before Bishop Aram Braccio of the Temple of Tyr. The Bishop, reasonably impressed by the party’s efforts to clear out Sokal Keep, asked them to aid the paladin Bassana Rockmantle (whom they had briefly met at Kuto’s Well) in recovering several relics of the Church of Tyr from the abandoned temple in the Old City, now converted by the humanoid invaders into a temple of Bane. Bassana’s group had stumbled upon the location of the relics, but were so badly hurt by a fight with ogres in the ruins that the dwarf paladin needed a new escort group. While the Bishop could not offer any direct reward, he did offer the party full rights to any treasure they might find in the temple – and his considerable powers of patronage. Flush with confidence after their victory at the Keep, the party accepted.
Ginallath’s business continued to delay him, so the party sent Beck to tell him where they were (Cameron had to leave early) and then left, taking their little rowboat up the Barren River (its waters had become mysteriously fouled generations ago) and then across to the Old City, where they picked their way through the orc-infested slums to reach the temple. Hearing what sounded like cries for help, they moved down an alley, only to discover an orc baby abandoned in a pile of trash. Not really sure what to do with a baby, the party picked the smelly, squalling brat up and took it with them.
Shortly thereafter they ran into four orcs in the livery of the Temple of Bane. Thinking quickly, Aeryn tried to convince them that they were bringing the baby to be sacrificed in Bane’s dark rites. The orcs seemed somewhat willing to believe Aeryn, but after a brief conference decided to send one of their number back to clear it with the temple’s priest, whom they referred to as “Mace”. At this point, Inigo’s hatred of Orcs got the better of him and he leaped forward to attack, cutting down three of them while the runner escaped into the slums.
After Inigo was throughly lectured by both Bassana and the rest of the party about the need for self-control, they pushed on into the slums, meeting curiously little opposition, until the ruined gothic spires of the temple towered over them, its beautiful statuary smashed and defaced by Orcs. In front of the massive oak doors stood three guards and an aged orc doorkeeper. Approaching the guards, Aeryn and MacTavish tried the same deception again – attempting to pass themselves off as Banites. The orcs were skeptical of Inigo’s presence (what with his being an Elf), and Aeryn explained that he was their slave -which the guards took great joy in verifying by having the proud Elf Ranger lick their boots and perform other demeaning acts -all of which Inigo submitted to while repressing his growing urge to kill.
Finally, the aged blind doorkeeper hobbled forward and began to feel at MacTavish’s neck. Realizing that the old orc was checking for Banite holy symbols, MacTavish realized the game was up and brained him, while Wulf and a very angry Inigo leapt forward to cut the door guards down and rush into the temple. Inside, the orc temple guardians rushed forth to deal with the intruders, but were outmatched by the party who killed them all in short order. While Wulf and Inigo guarded the door and MacTavish prayed to Tempus, Aeryn and Bassana searched the temple – uncovering the relics hidden inside a pillar, as well as several caches of magic weapons and scrolls. Now they really regretted not waiting for Ginallath – among the scrolls were copies of Melf’s Magic Meteors and Monster Summoning IV, both of which would come in handy against the angry horde of orcs building up outside the temple. Aeryn desperately searched for a second exit – but to no avail.
Lacking magic support, the party decided to barricade the temple door and try to cut the orcs down as they rushed in. Wulf, Inigo, and Bassana took positions on either side of the door, while MacTavish and Aeryn stationed themselves against a pillar with bows trained on the entrance. Soon they could hear the orcs battering at the door while a harsh voice that could only be that of Mace exhorted them to victory in the name of Bane. The carved oak doors splintered and a host of orcs rushed in – only to be cut down by the party wating in ambush. A second group followed and met a similar fate -but the party was beginning to tire.
Mace sent in a final group of orcs, then followed them himself, accompanied by his picked guards. The half-orc cleric of Bane ordered the party to throw down their equipment and the relics and they would be allowed to leave without further trouble, but MacTavish’s warlike god and Inigo’s hatred of orcs made an agreement impossible, and Mace’s troops moved in for the final assault. First to fall was Inigo, spitting hatred to the last. Then Bassana went down, surrounded by a pack of Orcs. Aeryn and MacTavish soon followed, leaving Wulf facing Mace, who moved in to face him himself. The last thing Wulf saw before he collapsed from exhaustion and blood loss was the grinning face of the Banite cleric…