Well mother, we had a very strange day! Not real progress, mind you, but an excellent distraction that serves to enable the purchase of a nicely enhanced bow and hopefully some well crafted arrows. As a reward for our endeavors last week, we were granted a sum of gold. We were careful to keep all discussions open with our group, as our trust of the grandfather and granddaughter seems to dwindle at each interaction. We searched for a shop that could provide well made and hopefully magically enhanced equipment, and found an excellent shop with a cultured proprietor. He absolutely had the items we sought, but, as you might expect, the cost for the objects of our desire exceeded our ability to acquire them. Resigning ourselves to return in the future with additional funds, we left the establishment. But as we did, the proprietor's wife appeared, posting a wanted poster. With a reward. I decided to inquire further. The wanted individual was her brother (a reprobate, apparently), who had disappeared, and she was offering s discount on armaments for his return. This was exactly what we needed! I convinced the group to pursue this course, as we would be waiting in town for a week anyway. Instead of carousing and wasting additional funds, we could spend our time wisely and productively, helping someone in need and also stretching our existing funds to cover our desires. And so we headed out. He, Aywin the drow elf, was of course last seen in a particularly downtrodden section of the city, near the docks. He was known to serve on fishing vessels, so we started our search at the docks. Knowing his penchant for inebriation, we started at the nearest tavern, and immediately learned not of his, but of his key companion Osterman's likely whereabouts. At another tavern, of course. So we headed there. And sure enough, we found him. We told Osterman of our quest. He was extremely hesitant, thinking we were out for his blood (these people are extremely paranoid), but we explained the humanitarian nature of our rescue, and he told us of Aywin's addiction to the drug called "glow". He also told us of the shadowy group that had absconded with Aywin. And where they were. Yet another tavern! This one right over the water. A dock built right in. All manner of miscreant inhabited the place, and not a single one of them was happy to see us. When we started asking questions about glow, their anger rose. As I expected, their anger overflowed into an attack. The battle was most interesting in that one of their members was able to disappear. That neat trick made him somewhat difficult to target. We were able to fairly quickly dispatch the brigands without much significant harm to ourselves. Though my little party is exceedingly eclectic, we do compliment each other well. Perhaps because of that very diversity. Having learned the location of the main hideout, we then formulated a battle plan to assault. I pushed for as immediate an assault as possible. They would soon learn of us and our exploit, and would come to us. But we would no longer have the initiative. "The quickest swoop snares the fastest fish." Their "fortress" lay on the water, with a closely guarded single entry. However, on my reconnaissance I noted that the rear dock had not a single guard. And it was open to the water, being a loading dock. The outlaws lacked even a simple understanding of defensive tactics. I convinced the group that a water assault was ideal. While we could certainly manage the two guards at the front of the structure, doing so would likely alert the rest of the crew to our presence. And who knew what else might lay in wait at that most obvious entrance. The flightless members of our party approached by boat, sneaking up to the dock and quietly disembarking, while I hovered above the open water, keeping an eye on the drug-dealing miscreants. Not a one heard our approach. The structure had two stories, and we decided to climb to the upper in order to have the height advantage. I heard battle erupt inside and immediately alighted on the balcony to join my comrades. Mother, the sight was...not a thing I shall forget. Nor a thing to be described to one's mother. These fiends were performing nefarious experiments on their subjects. And judging by the number of desiccated corpses decorating the area, the experiments all lead to a single fate. One ... lucky? ... participant seemed still alive, perhaps, and all of our hopes were upon him being Aywin. Living or not. But if not, at least we would be able to report his fate back to his yearning sister. We surprised the three fiends unlucky enough to be upstairs, dispatching one as he napped. As we engaged the other two, the altercation alerted those beneath. One more down, and the third disappeared. Again, neat trick. Some devilish dogs down below began to charge up to us, but we guarded the single set of stairs leading up, strategically choking their entry to our level. Another interesting thing happened, in that some of the gang members were able to transform into bigger, uglier versions of themselves, bounding up to our level through the atrium in the middle, thus avoiding the choke point altogether. We took a beating, but I embedded arrow after arrow in these diseased devils, to the point that they realized both our intent (utter destruction) and our absolute ability to fulfill that desire. The invisible one turned tail and ran. Knowing the only way out, we made to block him, charging the area, and the foul cess pit detonated himself to both avoid capture (and consequences), and deal as much damage as possible on his departure. The battle won, we returned to find our hopes answered: the sad soul was indeed still living, and was also our ward, Aywin. We brought him back to his sister, all of us broken, battered, and bloody. But satisfied. We had inadvertently uncovered quite a substantial organization, sapping fluids from living beings to create their horrific "glow". Reporting our findings and delivering our ward, we retired for well-deserved rest. Tomorrow I shall avail myself of our well-earned discount and acquire a most beautiful bow I espied.
16 Jan 2022