Session 14: A Jackalwere Distraction
Day dawned, but no morning light shone on our adventurers, holed up in the Melting Gnome -- an alchemy shop in the underground Dark Quarter of the Alabaster Isle. Although nothing disturbed their long rest, our adventurers found themselves very disturbed by their current predicament: the party's bard, Elrohir, remained a petrified statue at the hands of a cockatrice, their only lead, Iven Nedz, a matching statue lying in the back storeroom. After some deliberation, and the abrupt departure of the dwarven cleric Morgran, the party decided to seek out a high enough level cleric to restore Elrohir. Better to get things fixed than hope the curse would wear off. Plus, in a city devoted entirely to Pelor, how hard could it possibly be to find someone? Using some near-otherworldly luck -- and leaving Grumm behind to guard their statuesque friend -- Medran and Gregory quickly found a cleric, Alsbane, out gathering groceries who seemed powerful enough to restore their friend. It took some **charming** personalities on the part of our heroes to convince Alsbane to not only restore their friend, but also to do so simply at the cost of the spell: 100 gold pieces worth of diamond dust. After freeing Elrohir from carbonite… I mean, stone… and threatening a cleric not to rat them out for charming him, the group was ready to make their way to the Summit District to warn the king about a plot against his life. At least, they were for about 20 seconds. Then, suddenly from the midst of the crowded market, a voice cried out, "My baby! My baby! They've stolen my baby!" A small cloaked form darted down a nearby alley, crying bundle of cloth in its arms. Medran was quickest to chase after the baby-snatcher, Grumm trailing closely behind. Elrohir, always an elf of noble intent, ran to check on the hysterical baby-less woman, Gregory following him before ultimately transforming himself into a war horse. Elrohir hopping on (backwards), the duo joined in the chase. Magically induced sleep, rooftop excursions, extreme fatigue, and ladders led to the party split up: Gregory in horse form fighting a large group of jackals inside a warehouse, Grumm on the rooftops some distance away seeking vengeance on the jackalweres who put him to sleep, Medran a good distance away from the fight trying to catch his breath, and Elrohir, alone, on the rooftop of the warehouse facing down a large posse of jackalweres, including the "baby" thief and the fake noblewoman who cried for help in the first place. It was a trap! Elrohir was greatly outnumbered, but using a flourish of his sword, he was able to stave off the jackalwere advances, cutting down several of their number in the process. Grumm eventually joined him in the slaughtering of the strays. Gregory made quick work of the jackals downstairs, but not without taking a few licks. His horse form evaporated, leaving behind a hulking centaur in its place -- Gregory's true form! Medran finally arrived and aided in the final desolation of the warehouse jackals. He and Gregory proceeded up to the warehouse office while Grumm collected jackalwere parts outside. Behind an ornate desk in the office sat a luxuriously dressed Lamia -- a female humanoid from the waist up, with the body of a lion below her torso. She stared in frustration at the intruders, asking them why they sought to destroy her small business. The jackalweres worked for her, but were never supposed to bring such strong adventurer's back to base. Adventurers were much harder to take alive, and live humanoids made for far better trade than dead ones. She introduced herself as Marabeck, and offered the party 100 gp for their silence and quick departure from the premises. The group accepted. Leaving the warehouse, the party split up, Grumm wanting to pick up his box of cockatrice bits from the Melting Gnome, Gregory needing to discuss further with Marabeck, and Medran just needing a drink. Though it was not quite dinnertime, the party already felt exhausted from a long day. Elrohir accompanied Gregory back to Marabeck, who was now in human form. Gregory asked if she had any intel on the elf he sought. She warned that he was messing with things far more dangerous than he understood, mentioning not wanting to get crossed with the Eye. Marabeck did have information, but it would come at a cost. She handed Gregory a note with a name scribbled on it. There was a merchant who owed her a good deal of money and had failed to pay her back; if Gregory was as good a bounty hunter as he claimed, surely he could bring the merchant to her that she might make alternative payment arrangements. Then, she would give him the information he so desired. Grumm noticed something odd on his way back to the city's Dark Quarter. Though the shop had seemed abandoned, as he approached it, a group of humanoids dressed in black exited the shop, finishing the loading of a cart parked right out front. Most prominently on the cart sat a large oddly-shaped object covered in some sort of tarp. The group quickly departed and Grumm was able to make his way into the shop and collect his box in relative peace. Meeting up back at the Yawning Portal, the group paid for rooms and set about to sleep off their exhaustion. Some necromancy did occur in the middle of the night, adding three jackalwere zombies as guards for the group as they slept. And sleep they did, too heavily even to have dreams of the immense work that still lay ahead of them if they were to save the life of the Sun King and keep Solara from falling into a state of ensuing chaos.