Expecting Aeryn to catch up with them later, the party headed down to the docks. Poryphrys Cadorna did not greet them personally – he was too busy overseeing the unloading of a sizable freighter that had just come in from Hillsfar. Then, to the sound of drums and fifes, an entire company of halberdiers in the Cadorna family’s livery marched off the ship and formed for inspection at the docks. With Cadorna and Tarask in the lead, mounted on Calishite stallions, the troops marched through New Phlan and into the slums while the startled citizens peeked out of doorways and windows to watch them pass. The party followed the Cadorna troops to the Textile House they themselves had just cleared – and watched as the halberdiers set up a defense of the structure. Cadorna clearly intended to re-occupy his family home.
Disconcerted and unsure what this signified, the party returned to Nat Wyler’s Bell to discuss the matter. There they met Aeryn, looking unhappy and missing most of her signature equipment. As usual, she refused to discuss it, and after a few token attempts to get her to do so, the talk then turned to what to do with Stutterer’s information. The party decided to disguise themselves (as Orc slave dealers with Aeryn as their slave) and attend the auction in Podol Plaza themselves – in hopes of catching a glimpse of “The Boss” or at least denying him this powerful artifact. While Aeryn re-equipped herself and Ginallath prepared his spells, Wulf asked Nat Wyler to spread the word to the Phlan Thieves’ Guild that the party would appreciate their help. He was soon contacted by a member of the “Welcomers”, who explained that for a mere 2,000 GP the thieves would be delighted to help out. Wulf handed over the cash and waited.
The party then visited the Bivant household to obtain the services of Dak and Rosko to “pad out” their slave stock and provide a little extra muscle. Though not particularly happy to be chained up again, the two adventurers decided that this little jaunt was more exciting than their new jobs as House Bivant bodyguards, and accepted.
The Welcomers did follow through on their deal – sort of. That evening, as the party did a final check of their equipment before heading into the Old City, Wolf returned to his room to find six complete sets of Orc clothing – still stained with the blood of their original owners. After cleaning them up a little, the party put on their new disguises and set off. Their disguises seemed to be working, as they met no trouble with raiding monsters in the Slums, and soon found themselves rubbing shoulders with the great and near-great of Phlan’s evil population in Podol Plaza.
After a few hours of watching the auctions, enjoying rat-on-a-stick, fried dough, and sour orcish beer, and listening for rumours, the party saw the auctioneer bringing out a case which held the item they had heard so much about – a slender balck wand with a hooked claw on the end. Ginallath (as the party’s mage and the only fluent speaker of Orcish among them) asked to approach and examine the wand, and after casting identify discovered it was a wand of fear. A black-bearded sorcerer in leathers named Garwin, was also examining the item, and his eyes narrowed in challenge as he spoke to Ginallath.
The bidding then began with the mysterious sorcerer, an armored Orc chieftain, and the party (bidding through Ginallath) as the top bidders. The item eventually went to the mage, for 4500 GP. With their shot at the item gone and no obvious sign of The Boss, Wolf and Inigo decided to follow Garwin and see what they could find out. Unfortunately, their efforts were less than subtle and Garwin rounded on them after only a few blocks in challenge. As Inigo, spoiling for a fight, drew his blades, Garwin ordered his unseen associate “Budwar” to “break his arms.” A massive ogre stepped out of an alleyway and caught Inigo up in his powerful grip as Wolf drew steel and attacked.
Sensing trouble, the rest of the party quickly handed weapons to their “slaves” and rushed in the direction Wulf and Inigo had gone. Inigo was having no luck with the ogre who, as ordered, was busily trying to twist his limbs off. Wulf turned to attack Garwin, but after a quick charm spell from the sorcerer decided that the fight really wasn’t any of his business. As the rest of the party arrived, Garwin quickly cast spider climb and scaled a nearby building, sniping at them with magic missile as they faced Budwar in the narrow alleyway. The party fell back to the cover of a nearby corner, where Ginallath and MacTavish traded shots with the sorcerer with their own spells and bows while Aeryn, Dak, and Rosko moved in to engage the ogre.
Inigo had almost lost consciousness by this time, but as his vision faded to a red haze, Aeryn managed to flank his tormentor and drive her rapier deep into the ogre’s back. Budwar howled and released Inigo, who scrambled back to Ginallath and MacTavish’s position for some much-needed healing. Budwar, finding that both Aeryn and Rosko were too quick for him to grab, engaged Dak with powerful punches from his ham-sized fists while the tawny fighter held him off with his longsword. As a now healed Inigo rushed back into the fight, Aeryn ran after Wulf, hoping to break through the charm spell and bring him back. Meanwhile Ginallath and Mactavish, although both wounded by Garwin’s spells, shifted their fire to the ogre.
Seeing the danger, Garwin dropped a darkness spell over the alleyway, shielding his minion from the party’s firepower but also providing cover for MacTavish and Ginallath (after ordering Rosko to get clear) to move from their positions to the building from which the sorcerer was throwing spells. As they moved, Dak succumbed to _charm person _ and dropped out of the fight, leaving an enraged Inigo for the final confrontation with Budwar.
Just then, Aeryn and Wulf returned and Wulf, seeing his friends in combat with Garwin and his henchman, shook off the effects of the charm. He and Aeryn ran to aid Inigo, who traded strike after strike with the powerful ogre as Rosko desperately tried to talk some sense into the charmed Dak. Finally, Aeryn slipped her rapier through Budwar’s ribs and into his heart and the ogre fell.
Seeing that the party had dispatched his ogre, Garwin pulled out a fly scroll and began to chant desperately. As he began to rise into the air, Ginallath hurled his grappling hook which tangled itself between the sorcerer’s legs – and pulled Ginallath along with him! Drawing his dagger, the elven mage scaled the rope and was soon face to face with Garwin.
“You fool,” rasped the sorcerer as Ginallath slashed at him. “If you kill me you’ll fall to your death!”
“Then we die together,” Ginallath responded grimly.
As the two spellcasters fought their airborne knife battle, Wulf and Inigo chased after the dragging rope bound to them, trying desperately to catch it and anchor Garwin. They soon caught it, and began to reel the dueling spellcasters in. Ginallath let go and dropped to the street, hurt but alive. The party wrestled down the screaming Garwin and pinned him to keep him from flying away…just as a patrol of five hobgoblins entered the alleyway to check out the noise and commotion.
At first the party tried to bluff their way out, but Wulf lost patience and drew steel when one of the hobgoblins tried to take the wand of fear from Aeryn. As he did, Inigo slashed Garwin’s throat and leaped to the attack, dispatching four hobgoblins in 12 seconds. The fifth ran for his life, and rather than pursuing, the party wisely chose to beat feet for New Phlan.