Bast Sa-Darr is hunting for information regarding The Underbelly, a group of slavers who are responsible for the death of his family and forcing him to work as a slave for five years. As he enters the Greedy Worm, a tavern located in the abandoned district, he immediately spots a group of five dwarves that he has never seen before. Bast slips Grygaa five silver, and asks who the dwarves are.
Grygaa looks at the money and then back at the human sitting at his bar. “No idea, they just came in yesterday.” Not forthcoming with any more information Grygaa walks off to attend to other customers.
Cursing under his breath Bast glances back at the dwarves and sees an empty table nearby. Moving so as to not attract attention Bast slips down at the table and continues to drink his beer, trying to get a better look at the group and possibly overhear anything. While listening in Bast notices a couple of the city guards talking to two mysterious figures, both of them features and speaking in low tones, nothing out of place in the Greedy Worm. Returning his focus back to the dwarves Bast sees some kind of marking on the lead dwarf, but it is obscured by his shirt, it seems familiar but Bast can’t place what it is. Deciding to see if the dwarves go anywhere Bast orders another round and continues to wait.
Across town, near the docks, Thrandiul sits down at the Snuggly Duckling, the only establishment in all of Port Durst that can manage to cook up a meal that was more than just commoner slop, barely. After berating the staff for their audacity for having a brunch special on a Wednesday, when everyone knows brunch is Sunday, Thrandiul notices a commotion happening outside, a large crowd and several of the city guards are making a ruckus, interrupting his meal and blocking the view of the sea. Angry but not caring enough to investigate Thrandiul continues to eat his breakfast, contemplating how to combat the boredom that this city seems to specialize in.
Bex pulled herself up onto the dock, smiling broadly and giving thanks to Riternal for his wondrous ocean. Realizing that her morning swim went longer than planned, Bex began to head to the Greedy Worm where she was supposed to meet Bast Sa-Darr. While on her way she noticed a large commotion near the church of Riternal. Bex lumbered over to see what was going on, easily pushing herself through the crowd, not sure if it was because of her giant stature or the great axe on her back, but she soon found herself witnessing a couple city guards putting the priest of Riternal in chains. Recognizing her friend Ket Bran-Kel being arrested Bex casually walked over to the guards who eyed her with apprehension.
“Is there trouble here gentlemen? What transgressions could a priest of Riternal have done to deserve to be put in chains, and his chapel boarded up?”
Still wary of the sea giant glowering over them the first guard spoke “This man is being arrested for speaking against Lord Luhi Ali-Eba, which is to speak against Norvel.”
Bex shifts her eyes from the guards to Ket, seeing nothing but defiance in his eyes she smiles to herself. “Well if he’s a trouble maker why don’t you give him to me, I swear for this man and will make sure he causes no harm.” As she spoke, Bexs put her hand on her great axe and standing to her full height.
The guards glanced at each other nervously, “Fine, but he’s your problem now and if word gets back to us that he’s up to his old ways then you will be seeing us again.”
As the guards walked away Bex turned her attention back to Ket, “What was that about? Are you going to be ok?”
Ket glances back at the church being bordered up and then back at Bex, “Yes I shall be fine, I would be lying if I said I didn’t see this coming.”
Bex laughs, “So what they said is true then? You are causing problems?”
Surprised by her levity Ket can’t help but smile too, “Yes what they say is true, but it is because I care for Port Durst that I speak out. Luhi is leading this city to ruin, all he cares for is power and will stop at nothing to get it. His praise of Norvel is just an excuse to do as he wants. He used to be a cleric of Riternal, back when we were young, but changed when an opportunity of advancement came. Now he uses the order as his own army.”
Bex looks back at the guards considering, “Well if you need help again, don’t hesitate to call for aid. Only a fool would tempt Riternal’s wrath, and know that you do not stand alone.” Ket smiles at Bex and thanks her for her help.
Having finished his morning chores Innathia deciding to check up on his contacts and see if any new developments had turned up, and there was no better place to do this then the Greedy Worm. Upon entering the Worm, he immediately noticed several new faces, such as the group of dwarves talking in low voices, and the cloaked figures talking to a couple of the guards. Interesting, very interesting. As he was ordering his ale he continued to scan the room, immediately noticing Bast Sa-Darr, a human Innathia had talked to on a couple of occasions, Bast was sitting at a table by himself situated between both of the peculiar parties, in what he assumed was supposed to be in a stealthy manner. Seeing in opportunity Innathia thanked Grygaa, who gave his usual scowl back, and walked over to sit next to Bast.
“Evening Bast, how’s the morning treating you?” Surprised by his sudden company Bast glanced up from his beer.
“Hello Innathia,” After taking another drink from his beer Bast leans forward and speaks to Innathia in a low tone. “What can you tell me of the dwarves? Grygaa says they just got in yesterday.”
Knowing that Bast had been in town looking for information regarding The Underbelly for several months, it was an easy connection for Innathia to make that he suspected these dwarves of being part of the organization. “At the moment, nothing. But give me some time and I will get my contacts and network on it. Someone out there knows something. I’ll get back to you when I have more information.” Innathia finished his beer and left.
Deciding that he was tired of waiting, Bast decided to take a more upfront approach. He stood up and stumbled over to the dwarves acting drunker then he was.
“Evening gentlemen! Don’t see many dwarves in Port Durst, Hail and well met! What bring you to this corner of the world?” Slurring over his words and swaying as he spoke.
The dwarves glanced at each other and then back at the drunken human at their table. The dwarf who looked to be the leader of the group spoke back in common. “Were camel traders, and if you don’t mind this is a private party. So, we suggest you move on.” As he said this Bast noticed the other dwarves putting hands on their weapons.
“Ah well happy trading then.” Embarrassed and angry that he wasn’t able to find anything out Bast ordered another beer and sat back down.
While brooding over his beer, Bex sat down next to Bast.
Deciding not to chastise her for her lateness, knowing she would have a good explanation Bast welcomed her as she sat down. “Hail Bex, how has your day been?”
Bex noticed the tension in Bast’s voice, but wasn’t sure what had him on edge. “It’s been an interesting one but I can tell you later. How has your morning been?”
Instead of responding Bast gave a subtle nod to the Dwarves behind him. Bex looked over and raised her brown in understanding. “Anything new to tell?”
Bast shook his head. “Innathia is on it.”
Nodding again Bex left it at that, Innathia specialized on information so something should turn up sooner rather than later.
“What about you? How was your swim?” Bex then proceeded to tell Bast what had happened near the docks at the Church to Riternal.
“Do you think the guards are going to come back? We can go over and keep an eye on him?” Bast had met Ket a couple of times and he always seemed an honest man.
Bex glanced toward the door, concern clearly visible on her face. “He said he would be all right and that he had people who could hide him if things took a turn for the worse. But it couldn’t hurt to go look.” Glad to be away from the dwarves Bast and Bex began heading out towards where Ket was staying.
While on their way to Kets there was a large commotion, smoke was rising a from a couple of blocks away and screams could be heard. Bast and Bex immediately set off towards the noise, at the site of the commotion they found a giant sink hole. Several dead bodies were laying near hole but no sign of what had caused it. The first people Bast and Bex saw was Innathia, crossbow in hand stealthy approaching the site. He looked back and saw them coming up and nodded but motioned for caution.
“What is this infernal racket!” Glancing back, they saw a Nephilim Wizard striding brazenly down the street. At this provocation, a loud screech went up as four goblins climbed out of the sink hole brandishing shields and scimitars.
Bex let out a loud yell and rushed the creatures, taking a swing for the nearest one but missing as her axe smashed into the goblins shield. At this moment Innathia’s crossbow went off with a twang, impaling in a goblins mouth. The spoke arcane syllables and cold frost played across his hand as a ray of ice shot out killing another of the attackers.
Rushing at one of the remaining goblins Bast took a thrust with his spear, lighting playing across the blade. Unfortunately, missing as the goblin swung down and slashed at his legs.
Thrandiul spoke more arcane syllables and another blast shot out taking out another goblin. Bex screamed in triumph as her axe finally connected with the last goblin splitting it down the middle.
Panting from the skirmish Bast and Bex turned to their new allies, appraising the Nephilim in their midst. “Hail and well met friends, what is going on here?” Bast asked, looking between the rare sighting of a Seraphim and Nephilim together.
“No idea, I saw the smoke rising up and decided to investigate when you guys arrived.” Innathia quickly replied. “But I do know that more of these bastards are running around the town as we speak.”
Appraising his new companions and finding them wanting, Thrandiul introduced himself and bade the party on before he would have to sit and talk to these commoners. But keeping an eye on Innathia.
Following the sound of screams, the party quickly came upon another set of goblins laughing manically as they continued to stab the corpse of a dead dog. Innathia stepped up and shot out a blast of lighting from his mace, leaving only a pile of smoking corpses. Impressed the party moved on.
Continuing towards the sound of screams they found themselves witnessing a man trying to fight off four goblins defending what looked to be his home. Not waiting to ask questions Bex gave another roar and charged the goblins, eager to wet her axe again. Cleaving one goblin through the side, it let out a loud yell before being cut in half. As Bex distracted the goblins Innathia took another shot at the goblins, putting a bolt through the skull of a goblin who was still focused on the man by the door.
Bast leapt at a goblin near him, stabbing with his spear as lighting played along the weapon. Stabbing it through the throat the goblins cry was cut short as it gargled blood. The final goblin was casually blasted by a ray of frost by Thrandiul, looking thoroughly bored and angry at the goblins for wasting his time.
The man who was being assaulted rushed over to thank them for delivering him from the goblins, and that he and his three daughters were in their debt.
With the fighting done the group properly introduced themselves to each other and decided where to proceed from here. Bast, still slightly drunk from his stakeout of the tavern and needing to tend his wounds took Thrandiul up on his offer to rest at manor he was staying at, for a price. Bex and Innathia decided to go investigate the sinkhole and see if they could find the source of the goblins, and possibly find out why none of the city guards had come to aid the citizens.
At the sinkhole Innathia and Bex located several Tiefling corpses, and a strange black stone.
“Bast will want to hear about the slaves, he may be right that The Underbelly is here.”
Innathia continued to study the black stone but was unable to find anything out about it. Moving next to Bex he looked down at the corpses, “This is a day full of strange events. Notice that the tunnel where this hole originates from heads west? That means whoever is behind this attack is within the city already. We should continue west and see if we can locate the source.”
Figuring she could tell Bast about the slaves later Bex agreed. Together they headed out west eventually meeting with the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Bex climbed down the rocks, looking for any sign of a cave or tunnel. Finding none the two decided to call it a day and parted company.
The following day Bast continued his surveillance upon the dwarves, knowing that something was off about them. Not feeling like donating another five silver to Grygaa, Bast simply ordered a beer and tried to see if he could get a better look at the mark on the lead dwarf. The dwarf was talking to his subordinates, Bast hearing them talk of new product in dwarfish, as he shifted and finally Bast caught a look at the mark. The Underbelly. Bast had to take a second to calm himself and not rush the dwarves right there, knowing that he was outnumbered and could expect no help from any of the other patrons of the tavern. Bast finished his beer, and calmly got up and left in search for Innathia to see if he had gotten more information, but first he needed Bex.
Innathia was halfway through his chores when there was a bang on the door. Surprised at the intrusion Innathia cautiously opened the door to see Bast and Bex standing outside. “What in the nine hells are you guys doing here? How do you even know where I live?” Before either of them could answer Innathia held up his hand silencing them. “Make this quick and then get out.”
“We have found them; The Underbelly are in Port Durst. Have your informants found anything out yet? We can’t attack them at the tavern, we need to know where their hide out is.” Bast whispered to Innathia in a rushed tone, barely able to keep his anger in check. Six months of looking for any clue and now five Underbelly turn up all at once, an opportunity like this wouldn’t turn up again.
Innathia noted the tenseness in Bast’s posture, this human better not do anything foolish. “It has only been one day; the dwarves are careful and my people have not turned up anything yet. But the black-market won’t like the thought of slavers working in their turf. Give me more time, when we know more the Underbelly will have nowhere to hide.”
Bast was quite for a moment, “Two days, find out what you can in two days. If nothing turns up then I will march into the tavern and slay them, with or without your help.”
Innathia pondered this, knowing that two days was not enough time to play this out how he wanted. Nothing worse than a rushed plan, easy way to get us, and more importantly, me killed. Sighing Innathia replied, “Very well, but don’t do anything foolish until we know more.”
Bast nodded halfheartedly, clearly still considering simply going off to fight. “Fine, two days.” At that Bast turned and left. Bex looked at Bast and then to Innathia and gave a small frown shrugging apologetically and followed Bast.
As Bex caught up to Bast she asked, “Isn’t there a spell or something you can use to find the dwarves? I’ve heard talk of scrying spells and the such. Maybe the can, I don’t know, find their hide out or where they are stealing people.”
“You know it doesn’t work that way, the spells I have are only for combat and I lack the arcane knowledge to learn anything else.” Bast stopped walking. “But, that wizard Thrandiul might be convinced to help us.”
Thrandiul wasn’t at the town house he was renting but while they were searching for him they saw a scuffle between several of the guards. Breaking it up, they met a guard named Hank Ma-Ebba, who was upset because of the missing guards. Seemingly vanishing out of nowhere like clockwork. One of the missing guards was his sister. Agreeing to help them if they were able to turn up any news on his sisters’ whereabouts. Unable to find out anything regarding the Underbelly or Hank’s sister, the two decided to call it a night and returned to their camp outside the city.
Despite his best effort, he couldn’t forget Bat and Bex’s intrusion the day before. Who did they think they were? There were rules, albeit loose, easily bended rules, to how you conduct business in the black market, and rule number one was that you don’t jeopardize your contacts cover! Never mind them, first he needed to check in on his operatives and then he would figure out what kind of bill they would get. Some of the best informants the city had to offer was the street urchins off the street, easily overlooked and forgotten, their loyalty could be easily bought with the promise of food for day. Innathia was heading towards a back alley in the abandoned district that he knew was a favored gathering place of the street urchins who generally stayed together for safety. As he turned the corner he saw a boy sitting in the alley. “Hail Haishi, what news today?” Noticing Innathia the boy smiled and give out a sharp whistle, seemingly coming out of the woodworks children appeared in the alley swarming Innathia. He smiled and joked with the kids, handing them the sack he had brought with him that contained supplies for them. When the majority of the kids ran off with their prize he turned back to Haishi.
“What news young friend?”
Haishi looked hesitant to speak. “Nothing yet sir, but…. I don’t know if we can continue.”
Innathia frowned and knelt down in front of Haishi. “We have a deal Haishi, you’ve never shirked a job before, what changed?”
At this Haishi almost broke down. “It’s Hamil, he hasn’t come home. He was tailing the dwarves the night before.”
Innathia sighed and put his hand on Haishi’s shoulder. “Say no more, I will look into it. Don’t try and tail the dwarves again, but look into other matters. People have gone missing the last several months, if you find anything come to me. And don’t worry about Hamil, I will find him.” Haishi gave a nod, appreciating his words but know the cruel reality of their lot.
A couple of hours later Innathia stood in a dark alley not too far from the Greedy Worm, young Hamils body abandoned, eyes staring into the distance, a large gash cut into his chest. Innathia gave a prayer to the gods and closed the boy’s eyes. Standing back up Innathia headed out to look for Bast and Bex.
While this was going on, Bex was approached by Hansu, the man they had saved during the goblins attack. He told her that one of his daughters had gone missing, and that neither of her sisters knew where she had gone. This wasn’t the first time she had heard of people disappearing in the city, Bex vowed to help in any way she could.
The full party was assembled before the Greedy Worm, intent on staking out the tavern and trail the dwarves. When he was contacted by Innathia, Bast immediately noted his changed demeanor, something had occurred but he wasn’t sure what. Either way he finally had the allies he needed to get to the bottom of this. Either the dwarves would lead them to their lair, or they kill them in the streets, or hopefully both.
As the evening wore on they saw the two guards head out first, a false alarm. But it had drawn out Bast enough that he was out of position as one of the dwarves walked out and froze, looked around and went back in. A few moments later the same dwarf left the in and headed North.
“Bex and I will tail the dwarf, the rest of you see if any others head out. This could be a decoy, because of my blunder they are probably on to us.” Bast and Bex set off tailing the first dwarf.
As Innathia and Thrandiul waited another dwarf came out and headed South. The two ignored him, figuring that the true catch would be the last dwarf to leave. A few more minutes went by and another dwarf left, heading West. And then another East. Figuring that this would be the last to leave Innathia set out to follow him. Thrandiul simply leaned against the wall in plain sight smoking his pipe.
As Innathia left, Thrandiul contemplated simply heading home. How did he always get dragged along on these fool errands? Just as he was thinking this the dwarf that was clearly the leader of the group stepped out and looked directly at Thrandiul. Taking another drag from his pipe, Thrandiul nodded in greeting to the dwarf. Caught off guard by a Nephilim standing outside the tavern, the dwarf nodded back and then went South. Looks like this may be worth my time after all Thrandiul thought.
The dwarf that went north didn’t take long into turning into a corner, as Bast and Bex followed him the dwarf was waiting for them in an alley, great axe ready.
“We going to do this?” He asked brandishing his axe.
Bex rushed the dwarf taking a swing at him, ready for such an attack the dwarf blocked her first strike with his axe. Immediately following up with an attack of his own. Unable to dodge Bex took a blow to her side. As Bex went in, Bast also brought forth his hand, shooting eldritch power at the dwarf wounding him. Before the dwarf could react Bex kneed the dwarf in the face knocking him to the ground, followed by a downward cleave that nearly took of the dwarf’s arm.
“Wait!” Bast shouted as Bex prepared for the killing blow. “Tie him up, he may have answers.”
Luckily Bex hadn’t entered the frenzy state she normally went into during combat and pulled her last blow. They tied up the dwarf and carried him back towards the Tavern.
Innathia followed the dwarf to the docks, where he took out his pipe and proceeded to smoke. Cursing for being lead on a fool’s errand Innathia quickly doubled back to the Tavern.
The lead dwarf continued heading south, eventually stopping outside the residence where their fight had ended with the goblins. As he sat watching him in the shadow, the dwarf pulled out a set of pipes and started to play a haunting toon. Soon the window opened and two girls came through the window, seemingly in a trance they scaled down and proceeded to follow the dwarf. Not a development he expected, Thrandiul continued following until the dwarf came upon a derelict building in the abandoned district. When the dwarf and the two girls went inside, Thrandiul set out back towards the tavern.
As Thrandiul returned Bast and Bex were already there with an unconscious bound dwarf, the giant showing signs of battle. They were in a heated debate with Innathia, trying to determine what to do next. Taking out his pipe, Thrandiul proceeded to smoke some more, waiting for them to finish.
“I doubled back as fast as I could, so that means that other dwarf is probably still at the dock. If we act fast they will be down a man.”
“We won’t know anything until the dwarf wakes up, until then we must simply wait.” Bast kicked the unconscious dwarf, seeing if it would wake him up. “Considering Bex’s strength that may be a while.”
“If any one bothered to ask me, I could tell you exactly where their base is.” Every one stopped to look at the Nephilim, seeming to have forgotten he was there. Smirking, know he had their attention now, “The dwarfs are in a building in the abandoned district. That lead dwarf who wears too much cologne went back to where he fought the last of the goblins and somehow lured two girls out. In a zombie like state they followed him to the building. If we go now they are surely still there.”
“Should we still wait and see what this dwarf knows? He may know a secret way in.” As Bast asked the question, Innathia bent down and slit the dwarfs throat.
“Well shall we be off?”
The group stood outside the building trying to scope it out, from what they could tell there was only one way in. Pressed for time the party forsook stealth and burst through the door. Seeing no one immediately inside the party fanned out, noting stairs leading up and another set leading down to a closed door. Deciding to investigate the cellar first. Walking down the grouped looked at each other, each giving a nod of readiness. Bex gripped the handle and opened up the door….