Before leaving the bar, Manomarki had a flash of insight and left to peruse his Magicks. Who knows what he will get up to, or what new abilities he might develop?
Our band, now numbering Three bold heroes, strolls down the alley near to the Carbuncle's Jewel; Naiel and Pearl staying in the shadows and Harlan boldly walking through. It's a bit of a curvy way, with several tenements and abandoned (or, for some of them, 'abandoned') apartments. Halfway down there's a courtyard, of sorts, with a legless beggar with some beans to sell. Harlan finds the price of the beans too high to pay, but Naiel can afford some tasty beans and so learns that (a) some people have turned up dead at this sewer entrance and (b) several people have claimed to see stirges and also (c) several times recently there've been people moving in and out of the sewers nearby. So, a stakeout!
And the out is staked. After a day and a little more, two people emerge from the sewers, who reject Harlan's offer of employment as thugs and ruffians. The two people soon become six, and a conversation is had about living conditions, respect, and stirges; the other four are soon dismissed leaving Malachi (or Mal to his friends) and his son Steph, who appears to be deaf. Mal offers to do some digging about the stirges, and meet our heroes in three days time back at the bar. Accusations are flung about and deflected, and on the third day Mal has a lead - a man named Seth, who lives in the sewers and was involved with breeding giant centipedes 15 years prior.
So into the sewers our bold adventurers are led - through a twisting maze of stinky passages to a door, which Mal identifies as Seth's abode. A conversation is had with Mr. Seth, which is not resolved to the party's satisfaction; they proceed to break down the crudely hung door and - a cloud of stirges appears! Combat is joined!
Stirges are not as deadly as Seth the Cancer Mage, especially after a blast of fire from Pearl (who has new surprising abilities, perhaps resonating with her proximity to a Holy Warrior of the Dragon, or just an acceptance of who she and her ancestors is and are). Seth, however, can cast an extra spell per round from his tumorous familiar and who is almost, but not quite, the match for our band of heroes. With help from Mal and Steph the stirges are slain, the Mage is captured, and the nest of stirges destroyed: heroics all around! Mal is wounded grievously, but Harlan's faith allows him to rally and after an evening with the healer priests he and his son recover fully and then... vanish! - for now!
Vinta, the party's employer from the Guard as stirge hunters, is duly impressed with our heroes' heroics, and rewards them both with coin and an offer of future employment; the party asks her why there is no strong temple presence in the slums and Vinta counters by saying that's what she hopes the party will become - a way for the temple to reach out and aid those that reject the structure and help of the temple out of stubbornness or anarchic ways. Vinta also plans to send - discreetly - a small team of specialists to ensure the stirge nest is entirely destroyed, and tells the party they passed a sort of initiation or entrance exam; she hopes to work with our heroes again soon.
Two days later, after the party is rested and recovered, Naiel is challenged to a martial-arts duel on the street. It goes poorly for our monk, but a whispered instruction as Naile is defeated shows that a mystery is afoot. Why does Naiel keep counting down the days? What will happen as the week passes?
Seth the Cancer Mage possessed a couple of magically-imbued potions and some gems, which he hid under an offal pile; Pearl seeks out an alchemist who can identify the potions, not just to find out their abilities but to generate a source and contact of magical abilities outside of the temple. During her investigations she chances upon an old friend - Jauph Galmill, an actor of some small renown and ability who shared the stage with Pearl, who is more than halfway in his cups as he reveals to Pearl that he recently seperated from his wife, Iliane Cefanden, and found a ring in his apartment which he was gathering some liquid courage to return to her. Pearl offers to take it to Iliane - but when she sees the ring, Iliane exclaims "That's my Nana's ring!" and runs out of her apartment. The party escorts her to her grandmother's where they find Nana (Althis Cefanden) dead, beheaded and with her head placed in her lap, and the word "TRIAD" written on the wall in blood (with a symbol of a triangle and the letters DMY next to each face). Ohhhhh my. Pearl comforts the stricken Iliane; Harlan runs to the temple to get a detective, and Naiel accosts the neighbors for more information.
Naiel is not a gentle man. But he discovers that four people threatened the neighbor, three women and a man, all with red hair (the man was bald with a red beard). She leaves for her brother's farm, and we hope that her life becomes easier and safer, and that she will not regret going against what horrible murderers advised her not to do.
Harlan returns with detective Timoty Jones, four officers of the watch, and Tona Riordian the First Pastor (basically the second in command of the city). Everyone agrees that it's pretty messed up all around, and even the detective seems shaken at the severity and strangeness of the crime
No one has ever heard of a TRIAD before, in this context, but the apartment is cordoned off and detective Jones goes to work. Tona comforts Iliane and, as gently as possible, asks her for information to help find those that hurt her Nana; Iliane stays with Pearl that night, and detective Jones returns the next day to question everyone and try and figure things out. Iliane leaves with Detective Jones to the temple, but expects to stay with Pearl for a few days while she recovers and grieves.
The next day as the party walks through town a woman runs up to Harlan and screams with anguish and fear, "Sir knight! The baby! The baby is still inside the house!" Looking across the square the party sees a house that is ... vibrating - shaking slightly in its foundation. Adventure calls, and our heroes answer!
Harlan and Pearl lead the panicked woman back in the house, in the front door, while Naiel leaps and jumps through the upstairs window to the nursery. A frantic moment later the baby is found - with a ghost attempting to drain her life force! Naiel grabs the infant and is suddenly chilled - but maintains his composure through raw force of will and brings the child down to Harlan the holy warrior. Harlan is also chilled to the bone by the ghostly presence, but channels the Dragon's holy energy to remove the babe from the undead spectre's clutches - the ghost re-enters the house, pursued by Harlan and Pearl, and after a tense moment involving skeletons and spheres of energy, the ghost and it's minions are dispatched. The babe is tended by healers, and expected to recover.
So an adventurous time was had by all, but some serious questions remain:
-Can Mal and Steph, who while rejecting the offerings of the Dragon's beneficence helped to make their city better, be brought back into the fold?
-What will happen with Yamil Thorne, the mysterious monk of the Three Leaves Monastery?
-It was pretty fucked up, what happened to Iliane and her Nana; who or what is the TRIAD? Where are the redheaded attackers? Why Althis? What is the extent of Jauph's involvement?
-Why would a random house have jars containing ghosts and other undead monstrosities in it's basement?
-What is in store for our band of adventurers from Vinta and the guard?
-Where did the cursed amulet come from - and what will become of it?
But for now we bid goodnight to you, the gentle reader; next time we will have more tales of bravery and boldness, some big and some small, but all for adventure in a City called Dragon!