The first thing the party noticed was voices chanting, not too far from the wall there were several figures in a circle, arms upraised and chanting strange syllables. It was apparent that some form of dark ritual was taking place. On the ground dark runes, and symbols were glowing menacingly and in the center, was a pile of corpses with a bound guard squirming on top, eyes wide in panic as his soul was being offered up to some dark entity.
The party looked at each other, words unable to convey their disgust at what they were witnessing. Innathia made a hand gesture for them to spread out and attack from different angles. Moving together Bast and Innathia skirted up as close as they dared, the cultist so intent on their ritual they failed to take notice. Giving the signal to attack Innathia let out with his crossbow, taking a cultist in the back of the neck, dropping him instantly. At the same time Bast let out an eldritch blast, dark energy shooting out hitting another cultist in the chest, cracking ribs and making him cough up blood. As Bast and Innathia rushed forward to close the distance Thrandiul cast a spell of sleep over the cultist, all of them instantly dropped to the ground under the enchantment. As this was going on the other two quickly dispatched the lead cultist and the other remaining cultist, leaving the wounded one alive for questioning.
While this was going on the guard had managed to roll off the pile of corpses and was struggling to break free. Innathia knelt down next to him, “Calm friend, we are here to help.” He took the gag out of the guard’s mouth and began to untie him.
“Thank you, I thought I was a goner!” The guard was visibly shaken by his ordeal, and at the sight of his fallen comrades he quickly stepped aside to vomit. Shrugging Innathia took the rope and gag and used it to bind the remaining cultist.
“I can see why they walled this district off,” Bast said to Thrandiul, his gaze taking in all the zero-district had to offer. It was essentially a wasteland, almost leveled flat from the war with the demons, with his budding powers he could tell that something was off about this land.
“The presence of the demons has scarred this land, it is unknown if it will ever truly heal.” Thrandiul remarked, “This is the fate of the world if Mer-Jin isn’t opposed.” His memories taking him back to Sahar and the corruption he had witnessed there as Mer-Jin’s influence seemed into this realm.
Bast merely nodded at his words, the talk of Mer-Jin unsettling him as he thought of dark patron. Turning he walked back towards were Innathia was finishing up binding the cultist, “Shall we see what he knows?” Turning to nod at Thrandiul who broke the spell with a disinterested gesture.
Immediately the cultist woke up and began to thrash, confusion and anger flashing in his eyes as he took in how his fortunes had turned. Kneeling down and looking into the cultists eyes Innathia addressed the him, “Clearly your night has taken a wrong turn, now you have some options, you can answer our questions, or you can die. And after what we have seen tonight, I am leaning more towards the latter.” As he said this he took the gag out of the cultists mouth.
The cultist started speaking in a vile language that Innathia didn’t know, he put the gag back on and looked back at his party, “Well, any one catch that?”
Thrandiul shook his head, “It sounds like nothing I have heard before, we may be better off simply killing this fellow. Whatever language that was I doubt we will be able to find a translator any time soon.”
“It is infernal, the language of demons.” Thrandiul gave a curious look at Bast, there was more to this human then is apparent at first glance.
Noticing the looks he was getting Bast explained, “Learned it from the Tieflings who worked in the mines, they suffer more than others in this world because of their demonic heritage, as social pariahs it makes them easy prey for the Underbelly.” Kneeling down he took out the gag once more and addressed the cultist in infernal. “Tell us what we want to know, who do you work for and what were you doing in the city.” As he spoke his eyes lit up with the dark powers of his patron, caught off guard the cultist nodded and complied.
“It is only us, we were doing the glorious work of Mer-Jin, who shall take your soul. Our ritual was meant to bring his followers to our realm.” Bast relayed this to his team who took the news grimly. “I doubt he is going to give us anything else.”
Having emptied the contents of his stomach the guard returned. Innathia looked back at him, “He’s all yours. But do us a favor and make sure he is kept by the guards and not the monks.”
At the mention of the monks the guard grimaced, “I appreciate it, and believe me there’s no love lost there. The monks consider guard work below their station anyways.”
Nodding towards the pile of corpses, Bast asked, “We were sent to investigate the disappearances by one of your colleagues, Hank, he sent us to look for his sister. Is she…” He trailed off.
The guard sighed, “Yes I know Hank and his sister, and yes she is here.” He nodded towards one of the corpses, “I will tell Hank that you guys helped and that there was nothing you could have done to save her. Also, I will leave you guys out of the official report, despite your help Luhi and his thugs take the closer of the zero-district serious and won’t be pleased to hear that people had been here. But know that if you guys ever need anything I will help in any way I can, you guys saved my life and that is a debt that will not be forgotten.”
“One last thing,” Said Bast, “One of our friends, a sea giant, was arrested tonight by the guards. They thought she was responsible for the disappearances. Would it be possible for you to release her?”
“I can see why they wouldn’t take too kindly to a sea giant stalking their steps.” He almost chuckles at the thought, but then his somber mood returned, “But yes, I will have her released as soon as I get this guy back to the guard house.” With that he set off with the bound cultist.
The group acknowledged the guards statement and thanked him for his help, but before heading out Bast inspects the cultist leader looking for clues. On him he finds the symbol of Mer-Jin, he almost throws it away but stops and reconsiders before pocketing it. “I think we have found all we can for tonight, I am going to go get Bex.”
“It was so boring! Next time I would rather fight my way out of twenty enemies rather than be subject to that kind of torture again.” Bex still worked up about her night’s stay at the guard house said, “And those cowards thought I was hell bent on murdering them that they were too afraid to play dice with me.” Bast chuckled at Bex’s energy, happy that his friend was not harmed by the guards. They were making their way from their camp back towards the city to check in on Ket Bran-Kel. When they had entered the city, they were approached by Hank who thanked them for what they had done, and reminded them that if they needed anything to ask. As they continued their way, their initial enthusiasm tempered by Hanks grief at his sister’s fate, they saw a crowd gathering in the town square. Curious what was causing such a spectacle the pair quickly pushed their way to the front. They arrived just in time to see Gail put into chains by several monks.
Bex strode towards him, “In what right is this man being arrested?” The monks turned to look at the sea giant striding towards them, with Bast bringing up the rear.
“This man is under arrest for his attempts to spread sedition and mayhem. He will answer to Luhi and his fate will be determined.” As if hearing his name Luhi himself arrived on the scene, not bothering to speak he looked at the monk who had spoken, and gestured for him to move. All around the people were kneeling in supplication. As they took Gail away,
Luhi stopped for a moment to appraise Bex and Bast, before continuing on.
Their mood now thoroughly dour the two finally arrived at where Bran-Kel was staying. He seemed surprised, yet happy to see them, “Hello, what brings you two here today? I can assure you while I’ve still been up to my old ways I have kept my nose, relatively clean so to speak.”
That brought a smile back to their faces, “We are actually just stopping by before heading to investigate the island where the light house is. The other day it seems the guards had gotten a glimpse of the demon who lives there.” Said Bex.
At the mention of the island the grin left Ket’s face. “The demon, did they kill it?”
Surprised by his sudden change Bast replied, “Were not sure, we didn’t see anything. But they did destroy the other building on the island”
Ket had a deeply worried face, “Ok, I am going to tell you guys a secret.” Bast and Bex glanced at each other. “There is no demon, rather it is a sea giant who lives on the island. He protects Port Durst from the merrow, and has done so for as long as I can remember.”
Bex seemed to perk up at the thought at the prospect of meeting another Sea Giant. “If he helps this city why does he hide on the island? Wouldn’t the city be happy to help this ally?”
“He is a reclusive fellow, his wife and child died during the war against the demons, and the only people who knew he was here left with the Dixie Wick. It is his hatred for the merrow that keeps him at his thankless task.” Ket has started pacing, the news troubling him as he recalls the tale before turning back to Bex, “Listen, I need you to go help him, he might be wounded but he is a friend and ally. Take my boat, the guards wont trouble you if you tell them I lent you it.”
Bast and Bex took this all in. Eventually Bast spoke, “There was something else, on our way here we saw Gail being arrested for supposedly spreading sedition and mayhem. Luhi oversaw the arrest.”
This stopped Ket in his tracks, “This gets worse and worse.” He said as he put his head in his hands. “Gail doesn’t deserve this, he is a hero. He fought valiantly against the demons, and lost a lot. He was part of the Dixie Wick crew, but was unable to go with them due to his injuries. Although he comes off as crazy sometimes he is still very respected and loved by the people. The fact that Luhi feels confident enough to actually arrest Gail bodes ill for this city.
“We’ll let us deal with the Sea Giant first. Whatever is going on with Gail seems to be out of our power at the moment.” Bast replied.
Ket nodded solemnly, “Thank you, I shall go make an offering to Riternal so that he may bless your journey, and for Gail. And…” He said as he opened up a cabinet, “Have a drink.”
As the two began to head out they heard Ket speak out, “Wait, one more thing.” As he took out a glass and began to pour himself a drink. He gestured to Bast and Bex who both shook their heads. Shrugging he capped the bottle and put it back in the drawer and then sat down in a chair. “There has been talks, I can’t give you anything concrete but there is talk that someone is going to make a move on the Prince.” He sits back and sips from his drink, appraising them.
Bast and Bex are so shocked they have nothing to say. Eventually they gather themselves and Bast asks, “Do you have any idea who would be behind it?”
“Some Nephilim have been spotted in town, and no not that one you have been seen with. These two have been working to keep their presence unknown but my sources have spotted them as two hooded figures in the Greedy Worm.” At the mention of the worm Bast remembers the two figures he had seen talking to the monks. But so, intent on his hunt for the Underbelly he had over looked it, and mentioned as much to Bex and Ket.
“That is them, that they are talking to the monks is most worrying. Like I stated, I don’t have anything concrete on who they are working with but my sources are pretty confident that the Nephilim mean to make an attempt on the Prince’s life.”
“Thank you for the information,” Bast says as he moves towards the door. “But I think we should focus on one thing at a time, we will look into the Giants welfare and then see what we can do about the Nephilim.” With that Bast and Bex headed out to round up their party.
As they made their way to where Innathia was staying, the two expected some other calamity to fall upon them. They soon arrived and proceeded to knock on the door. After about the six knock they decided to just enter, the door surprisingly unlocked. They entered an empty foray, not sure how to proceed Bex let out a loud yell calling Innathia’s name. They soon heard the stamping off feet as Innathia rushed down the stairs, his normal calm composure temporarily slipping as agitation and anger showed on his face. “What in the blazes do you are doing!” He said through clenched teeth. “I specifically told you not to bother come here, and if for some damned reason you disobey me that you at least show me the courtesy of not shouting that name!”
“Believe me, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t important. And if you don’t want to call you Innathia, at least fill us in on what it is you do wish to be called upon.”
Innathia continued to glare at the pair. “Malce, if you call upon me here again, it is Malce.” He sighed into his hands and took a second to compose himself before continuing. “Now, pray tell what is so important.”
Having brought Innathia up to speed, aside from the plot on the princess life, the group were making their way to the piers when Hansu hailed them. With tears in his eyes he thanked them for their help in saving his daughters, and that he understands that there was nothing they could have done to save the one who died at the hands of the underbelly. In a display of his gratitude he gave them a camel as a reward.
Next, they finally made it to where Ket’s boat was docked. But before they could shove off they were hailed by one of the guards.
“Hail friends,” It was none other than the guard they had saved the night before.
Bast smiled before replying, “Don’t they give you days off? I would think some leave time was warranted after nearly becoming a sacrifice.”
This brought a sad grin to the guard’s face, “You speak true, but with the Prince’s arrival only two days away everyone is pulling their weight to get ready.” He took a look behind them at the boat, “I see Ket Bran-Kel has lent you his boat, I ah, see nothing here. Ill be on my way.”
Before he could leave Bast took a hold of his arm, “Will you meet me tonight? I may need to call in that favor sooner than rather than later.” The guard looked into Bast’s eyes and noted the seriousness of it.
“The Dixie Wick, after my shift is over. You can buy the first round.” With that he set out.
The group rowed out, Bex taking any opportunity to go for a dip swam alongside them. Taking Ket’s advice and circling around the island so as to not attract unwanted attention the party landed in a small cove. Bex was the first out of the water. Asking that the others to let her go first, a wounded Sea Giant could be as dangerous to friends as much as foes in a hurt stage. She went to explore where the building that had collapse was first, and noted a trail of dried blood that led up to the old keep. Heading back to gather her companions, but reminding them to let her go first they made their way to the keep.
Following the dried blood, they made their way to the keep. It was clear that the keep had been abandoned, damage from the war with the demons left unrepaired. They made their way through the gates into the main floor. There Bex noticed a shrine dedicated to Riternal, it was a mourning shrine to remember his lost children.
Not too far from the shrine they saw the prone body of a massive sea giant, easily reaching fifteen feet in length. Bex motioned for the others to keep back as she approached. But upon closer inspection the sea giant was unconscious and still bleeding from his wounds,” Innathia! He’s still hurt, quick, can you heal him?”
Innathia knelt down and harnessed the power of Fyet through him as he laid his hand along the wounds, channeling his divine magic to heal the fallen sea giant. The giant’s wounds eventually close and his breathing becomes less labored. But he still doesn’t wake up. Bex has an anxious look on her face as she watches Innathia work. “Did it work? Why does he not wake?”
Innathia stands up, and looks back at Bex, “His wounds were really severe, I am surprised he lasted this long with those wounds untreated.” Innathia walks back to where he set his pack down and takes out a water skin. “Now all we can do is wait until he wakes up.” He says as he takes a swig from the skin and then starts heading up a nearby staircase to explore the rest of the keep.
Three hours later the giant opens his eyes, startled at first until he sees another sea giant looking down upon him with concern. “Hail kin, you are safe and amongst friends.” He looks past her and sees a human in the local garb, and a hooded seraphim, standing a few feet away.
In giant he answers back, “Thank you for your kindness, may Riternal grant you his strength.”
Bex, nods and then asks, “What is your name, and how did you come to be here?”
“My name is Raoul, I arrived in these lands about 80 years ago. I protect Port Durst from the merrow, daily the merrow attempt to assault the city in various strength. I fear what is brewing out there with my absence these last couple of days.” With that the giant tries to stand but is still too weak. “I am sorry, I am still too weak. I have not eaten since my injuries.”
Innathia brings forth some supplies he had wisely thought to bring. The sea giant nods his head at him and thanks him in sea giant, while not understanding the words Innathia is able to comprehend the gesture and nods his head in acknowledgement.
“We heard what happened to your family during the war, I am sorry for your loss.” Once again Raoul is caught off guard, it has nearly been a lifetime since he has seen another sea giant, let alone heard the tongue of his people. “With your family gone, why do you stay in a city that doesn’t know you exist, let alone appreciate the sacrifice you make for them daily?”
“Thank you, I offer them tribute by slaying the merrow. And that is the only reason I stay here. The merrow are a plague and if they are not kept in check more than Port Durst would be in peril. I care not for the town, nor do I hold any particular love for the people here. Rather it is for humanity that I keep fighting.” As he talks Raoul has a faraway look in his eyes, his fight with the merrow the source of his strength and pain. “But there is something else, I have been fighting here for 80 years and have seen no decline in their numbers nor aggression. It has led me to believe that the Leviathan is stirring.”
Bex gave out a gasp, surprised by his announcement. “But the Leviathan is a legend.”
“No young one, with time the foul beast has slipped into the thing of legend. But I can tell you this, the destruction of our people, and the sirens call the Leviathan sent out to call those of weak heart to her will still rings out. I fear for our world if such a horror returns.”
Seeing such a heated exchange Bast asks what Raoul is saying, but Bex says that she will explain later. Healing some more of Raoul’s wounds, and giving him some more supplies the party begins to head out. Before they leave Raoul says, “If you need me young one, you know where to find me. With healing my wounds and the food, I will be back in the waters killing the merrow before dawn. If you need anything you know where to find me.”
As the party rowed back to the city they each sat quietly, mulling over what they had heard. It was Bast who broke the silence, “This is getting worse and worse. Slavers I know how to fight, but now we have to watch for a threat from the sea that could devour the entire continent?”
“Dark times indeed.” Was all Innathia gave.
After reaching shore, Innathia bade the party farewell and returned home to finish his chores. Bast and Bex began to head to the Dixie Wick Tavern to meet up with the guard. But before that they stopped by to see if Thrandiul had any more information that could prove useful. And also, to get his help dealing with the Nephilim. But when they reached where Thrandiul where they were staying they came upon an empty house. Looking into the window it was apparent that the house had been vacated. Thrandiul had left the city. Saddened by the loss of a powerful ally the two continued on their way.
At the Dixie Wick, they met with the guard but didn’t exactly hear what they wanted. While they don’t support Luhi the are still bound to serve and that he would help anyway he could, but that they were essentially powerless to stop them. Thanking him for the information the two went to the Greedy Worm to see if the Nephilim agents were still there.
Upon entering the Worm, they noted the Innathia was there sitting at a table by himself. And in the corner in their usual spot was the two agents. “Have they made any move.” Bast asked sitting next to Innathia.
Innathia ignores him for a second before sighing and turning to him, “Can you be any more obvious? But to answer your question no.”
Ignoring his first comment, Bast nods before replying, “Good, we stay here tonight and keep watch. They move to go to the bathroom and we go with them.”
“Very well.” Innathia said. Seeing a long night ahead of them Bex ordered three rounds of beers for herself and a round for her friends, and proceeded to take out her gambling dice with a wide grin on her face. Innathia checked his coin purse and gave another sigh before motioning for Bex to roll.
It’s an uneventful night as the Nephilim make no move. Frustrated by the lack of movement, Bast calls it a night and the party head in for the night. Bex smiling the whole way home.
The next day the party goes about their various activities. Bex went off to check on Raoul, who was well enough to continue his grim work. Surprisingly Innathia has no chores this day so steps by some of his favorite shops before checking up on filled in sinkhole. Bast wanders the northern district, still frustrated from the fruitless vigil the night before. As they are going about their business they hear bells ringing from the cathedral, a crowd has formed in the bazaar and one of Luhi’s monks stands on some crates yelling an announcement to the ground.
“Today at sunset, the traitor Gail will be executed for his crimes against Luhi. This man means to work the evils of Mer-Jin by spreading sedition and mayhem throughout the city, in order to aid his nefarious allies.”