The Cow Hammer Boys were dead, as was their scheme of selling human meat. The three heroes left the slaughterhouse to meet up with Kumash and the renegade guard Verik Vancaskerkin. It seemed Vancaskerkin was unaware what his own gang was up to.
The group handed him over to the special constables, collecting their payment. Lord High Constable Gordon introduced the group to an old friend, Vencarlo Orisini. Encio recognized the man as one of Bête Noire’s most respected and renowned teachers of the honourable arts of fencing and swordplay. Orisini also had a reputation as an outspoken critic of the throne - both while the Traitor King sat on it, and now with the so-called “Whore Queen”. Rumour was that Orisini had trained the queen’s bodyguard before Sabina took her spot at the queen’s side. Orisini was pleased to meet the group, telling them if the city had more fine folk like them, they’d already be out of this mess.
Gordon cut the conversation short: there was more pressing business to attend. Darvayne Amprei, a Turathian ambassador from Sunderheart, was ready to recommend to the Queen of Roses that trade sanctions, or even an embargo, be made against Bête Noire. Orisini had learned that Ambassador Amprei’s actual goal was to undermine the city’s economy to the point where he’d be able to to buy up large portions of the city from desperate landholders and establish himself in a position of power. Fortunately, Amprei had his weaknesses - Orisini had learned that Amprei was making regular visits to the Old City’s vice dens.
Gordon and Orisini hoped that heroes would be able to convince the King of Spiders, master of the Old City’s vice dens to give them proof of Amprei’s illicit dealings. Gold to bribe the Spider King was provided. Orisini offered to show the heroes the way to the Old City. He had business in the area of his own, and didn’t mind walking with them. The swordsman led them to the Old City, directing them towards Eel’s End - the region’s vice den.
The Old City’s vice dens were, in fact, five old ships moored to a pier. The largest ship was the Eel’s End, the stronghold of the King of Spiders. Glowing lanterns in the shape of dream spiders illuminated the area. Eel’s End was busy. Out here, there was no sign of the unrest plaguing the rest of the city. The heroes saw a ship for buying drugs, another for buying sex, another for gambling, and one for sleeping off visits to the other ships. But it was the Eel’s End itself that was the focus of their attention.
Encio split off from the group to arrange a meeting with the King of Spiders. Kumash used his magic to turn Kaz and Bhraghad invisible. He then snuffed the light of the lanterns, providing enough of a distraction for the two to slip into the ship unnoticed. The captain’s cabin had been converted into a throne room of sorts. The walls were thick with spiderwebs, with dozens of spiders scuttling about.
The King of Spiders sat on his throne, petty scoundrels and thugs desperate to earn his favour providing the “king’s” entertainment. Still cloaked by Kumash’s invisibility spell, Kaz and Bhraghad scoped out the room, quietly moving below deck. They were able to investigate the rest of the ship, discovering there were no guards below deck. Clearly the Spider King didn’t expect anyone to sneak aboard his ship.
The heroes’ search proved fruitful: in a chest in the “king’s” personal quarters were two scandalous letters to Ambassador Amprei from a woman named Verania Tvastiox, the young wife of one of Amprei’s superiors back home in Sunderheart. The details in the letters were quite salacious and exacting, leaving little room for misinterpretation. If they were to be made public, Amprei would be disgraced. This was exactly the leverage Gordon would need.
Above deck, Encio had arranged for a meeting with the King of Spiders, intending to converse with the brigand while his companions searched below deck. It would be the perfect distraction.
With the otyugh dead, the heroes caught their breath and then headed for All the World’s Meat. Before rushing in, they hung back, observing the place. They were surprised to see that Verik’s fellow deserters, calling themselves the Cow Hammer Boys, appeared to be still running the shop. More importantly, they seemed to be giving away free meat to the needy.
Orr and Bhraghad went in the front to get some free fresh meat while Kumash and Encio checked out the rest of the building. They met up outside and decided to enter through the rear entrance past the stables. Kumash’s spider familiar had relayed there were no guards at the rear, only two fatted hogs.
The adventurers assumed the hogs were there to be slaughtered. They were not. The ravenous and ill-tempered pigs were used to dispose of viscera, bones, and other unwanted byproducts of slaughter. The hogs immediately attacked the intruders. Kumash used a web spell to hold the pigs back, Kaz shifting into the form of a giant spider. Fortune was not with Encio who didn’t seem to be able to connect with any of his spells. The warlock cursed his misfortune, wondering if one of his hexes had backfired.
The rest of the heroes were able to make up for Encio’s failings, slaughtering the hogs. The held their ground, listening to see if any guards had heard the sounds of combat. It seemed they had gotten lucky. Kumash sent his familiar forward, scouting the next room. They found the butcher shop’s killing floor. Blood-stained straw covered the floor of this grim chamber. The reek of slaughter was almost overpowering. Two of the “Cow Hammer Boys” were cutting up meat. The meat smelled wrong to Kaz. Outside in the pens were cattle, but this wasn’t beef.
The deserters reached for weapons, but Encio spun a tale that they were fellow deserters interested in joining up. He told the Cow Hammer Boys that Verik had recruited them personally, and wanted to meet them. The two butchers had their doubts, but Encio was a very convincing liar. They escorted the group upstairs to the offices where Verik was drinking, alone, in the early morning.
Kumash cast a spell of suggestion, asking Verik to turn himself into the constables. The deserter tried to resist, but his senses were dulled by drink. He rose, agreeing to leave with Kumash. The Cow Hammer Boys realized what was going on and attacked.
The battle was fierce. The attacks of the rogue constables forced Kaz to shift back to his human form. Discarding his spider form, he became a bear, renewing his assault. Bhraghad held his ground next to the bear, the two attacking in unison. Encio’s misfortune continued. A couple eldritch bolts connected, but not nearly as many as he would have liked. The bear was injured, returning to the form of a boy once more, but the Cow Hammer Boys were dead.
The heroes returned to the streets of Bête Noire, discovering that something terrible had happened. The city was in flames, smoke rising on the horizon. The frantic clang of alarm bells sang out in harmony with a multifarious cacophony of screams, the clash of steel on steel, moans, and even the periodic detonation of arcane power. A wing of Greycloak griffon riders swooped overhead, angling towards the River Palace at a breakneck pace. One of the badly wounded mounts rained blood on the street around the heroes, before it succumbed to its injuries, crashing headlong into a statue. Rider and mount both met a bone-crunching demise. The others in the flight didn’t pause to check on their fallen ally. Amid the chaos, the voice of a herald cut through the din: “The king is dead! Long live the queen!” only to be shouted down by ragged cries of “Hang the queen!” and “The usurper whore must die!”. Through an alleyway, the heroes spotted a contingent of Zarathos legionnaires, clad in dark iron armour and horned helms pursuing a gang of looters.
The city had gone mad while they battled Gaedren in his lair.
None of the heroes wanted to be swept up by the riot spreading through Bête Noire. They had questions that needed answering, like who had hired them if Zell was already dead. Now wasn’t the time to looking for answers. Now was the time to get back to the Blue Nixie, have a nice cold pint, and wait for this to all blow over. Before they could get there, however, they came across an angry mob.
Bands of rioting labourers were battering anyone dressed in finery with snarling yowls of “Die, dandy!” and “Death to the Whore Queen!”. One of the labourers, a fat bald man with greasy muttonchops framing his rotund face, stood over a beardless young nobleman. In a booming voice, he threatened, “Bet’cha never worked an honest day’s wage in your life, eh, Queen’s Man? M’brother had his arm crushed by a barrel on the docks when he was younger than you. Never raised a mug of ale with that wrist again. Wanna know what it feels like?”
Before the noble could be crippled, Kaz charged into the fray. The others followed suit, driving off the mob and saving young Amin Jalento. Amin thanked them profusely for their gallantry, giving them five platinum pieces as thanks. He didn’t stick around, and quickly ran off towards the Upper City.
The group returned to the Nixie without further incident and went to sleep. When they awoke, shortly after Dawn Bell, the city appeared to have calmed down some. The combined strength of the special constables, the Greycloaks, and the Legion was containing the rioting away from the main streets. Encio had taken possession of Zell’s Tarokka deck, and wanted to learn more about the Vistani seer. The heroes returned to her home, finding it quite different from how they had left it. The house was abandoned, looking as if it had been empty for weeks. There was no sign of food, the wall hangings, the rugs, or Zell herself to be found. The furniture was in pieces, scattered throughout the room.
Suddenly, Zell was standing behind the heroes, and the house looked as it had a few nights earlier. She had been slain by Gaedren Lamm weeks ago, but her desire to protect Bête Noire had changed her. She was now a ghost, tied to her Tarokka deck. So long as the heroes had the deck in their possession, Zell would be able to manifest once per day to give them guidance. She apologized for not immediately telling them the truth, but she feared they would never have agreed to help a ghost. The cards had drawn her to them, and she really did believe that they had a destiny to fight the rising darkness that threatened to crush Bête Noire. The heroes were hesitant at first, but agreed to work with her. Encio had one demand: that Zell not lie to him again. She agreed, apologizing once more.
The focus of the unrest in the city was the Queen - and the group had a brooch belonging to said Queen. Encio saw the opportunity that was presenting itself. He led the others to the River Palace, intending to return the Queen’s brooch. The palace was locked tight and bristled with pikes and crossbows. The royal guard demanded to know their business. When told of the queen’s brooch, they discussed amongst themselves what to do. Before too long, one of the guards nodded, indicating the heroes should head up the stairs to the courtyard - after leaving their weapons behind. Orr dutifully handed over the stick he used as a club and the piece of wood he used as a shield.
A group of nervous guards escorted them up to the castle. As they reached a set of wide stairs curling up to the castle’s third floor, they were greeted by a beautiful woman dressed in magnificent plate armour - Sabina Merrin, the queen’s handmaiden, bodyguard and constant companion (and perhaps more, if the rumours were to be believed). Sabina nodded curtly. “Greetings. They tell me you’ve something that belongs to the queen. Is this correct?” Encio displayed the brooch. Sabina smiled and stepped aside, holding out a hand as she welcomed them to the River Palace. The guards moved to follow, but Sabina stopped them. “You may return to your posts. These heroes pose no threat to the queen.”
As they entered the throne room, Sabina introduced the wary heroes to Valeria of House Thrune, First of Her Name, Queen of Bête Noire, Herald of the Faith of Zedek, and Protector of the Realm. Queen Valeria was a vision of celestial beauty despite the black mourning dress and veil she wore in honour of her husband’s death. A small silver coffer sat in her lap. Sabina took the brooch from Encio, handing it over to her queen with a flourish, before taking up a position at the throne’s left side.
Valeria thanked the heroes for returning her brooch. It had been stolen from her some time ago, and she had not expected to ever see it again. Yet on her darkest day, it was returned with kindness. Valeria saw the return of the brooch as inspiration, as hope. She loved Bête Noire, and while the city was hurting, she would not see her husband’s legacy destroyed in death, nor would she see her city turn apart. The riots could not continue.
The heroes would be rewarded for their good deed, yet Valeria saw another way they could serve the city. The special constables were stretched thin, and could use the aid of heroes such as themselves. She would have Sabina escort them to the Lord High Constable, hoping that they would help save the city from itself. Valeria handed a small silver coffer to Sabina, rising from her throne as she excused herself. With a whirl of the hem of her mourning dress, she was gone from sight. Sabina presented the coffer to the heroes. Inside the red-velvet lined interior rested twelve gold ingots imprinted with the royal seal of Bête Noire.
The royal escort took the heroes to Whitehall Place, the headquarters of the special constables. The group was quickly waved through to the central keep where a harried and tired-looking man rose from his desk to greet them. He was Lord High Constable James Worthington Gordon, and he was exhausted. Since the death of the Traitor King, he hadn’t slept.
He thanked the group for agreeing to help. Bête Noire needed every bit of aid it could get from upstanding citizens such as them. He wanted to retain their services as agents of the constables. They would, of course, be well compensated. The heroes all agreed to help. Gordon then gave them their first mission: with the king’s death, a number of constables had deserted, more concerned with the safety of their family than with the city. Yet others were using the riots as an excuse. One such deserter was a man named Verik Vancaskerkin. He had convinced a small group of fellow constables that Queen Valeria was going to ruin the city. That was the last thing the city needed. If they could bring Verik in alive, they would be well rewarded.
The heroes accepted the job, leaving Whitehall Place. Vancaskerkin and his group were holed up in an abandoned butcher’s shop called All the World’s Meat. They’d be able to avoid most of the crowds on the streets. Yet, crowds proved to not be their biggest problem. A rumble issued from below, and moments later the city street cracked apart, long fissures running across the bricks. The road burst upward, casting chunks of rock into the air and raining bricks on the surrounded area. The stench of sewer filth and garbage belched forth as a loud and hungry otyugh looked about for food. It was rumoured the city used otyughs as a method to keep the sewers clean and flowing. Looked like the rumours were true.
Not sure what to expect when they entered the fishery’s underpier, Orr cast pass without trace, allowing the heroes to move quietly. They crept along the underpier to a wooden door that lead into an understructure below the fishery’s land-bound half. Knowing that the moment the door opened, any chance of surprise would be lost.
Instead, they burst through the door, hoping to catch anyone within off guard. On the main level, the acrid smell of fish slurry covered up the sickly sweet smell of shiver, but here the smell was overpowering. They had found one of Gaedren’s shiver distribution points. Destroying it would hurt Gaedren’s profits. It would also piss him off. A huge opening in the floor dropped away to the river shore below. The heroes would have to step carefully.
On the other side of the room, a man matching Yargrin Balko’s description ordered two duergar to deal with the intruders. He then barked orders at a handful of children, Lamm’s Lambs, to continue their work preparing shiver for distribution. The duergar turned invisible, as Kaz charged forward, now shifted once more into his beast form. Kumash summoned a flaming sphere to trap Yagrin in place, forcing the criminal to either charge past the ball of flame, or deal with the angry druid. The necromancer then took up a defensive position, trying to shield Encio from the inevitable counterattack from the cloaked duergar.
Bhraghad ordered the children to run for it, that they were now free of Lamm’s control. The children ran, but one tripped and fell. From the water, a large crocodile burst forth, snatching the child in its massive jaws, pulling the orphan below the surface. Kaz had heard rumours of this beast. Gobblegut. Gaedren was rumoured to feed children who didn’t perform well enough to the creature. This angered the druid, as he tore into Yargrin.
The duergar appeared on either side of Kumash, attacking the necromancer with large hammers. He stood his ground, weathering their attacks, as he redirected his flaming sphere against them. With Yargrin dead, Kaz and Bhraghad joined the attack, making quick work of the deep dwarves.
Kumash considered the profit potential from all the shiver in the room, but Kaz and Bhraghad were already preparing to destroy the product. The gathered everything into the centre of the room, making plans to burn it all. Before they lit the spark that would destroy the shiver, they wanted to make sure all of Yargrin’s gang had been destroyed.
A final door revealed Yargrin’s den. A foul-smelling room, it was equal parts bedroom and study. Curled in the corner of the bed rested a young girl in her early teens, the signs of drug addiction evident. Both the dwarf and the druid were enraged at the idea of the young girl being used as a sex slave by Yargrin. On a sagging dresser, a hatbox surrounded by flies rested. Within was Zell’s severed head, poorly preserved and decorated with unsightly makeup in a crude attempt to give her sagging flesh the semblance of life.
Kumash had seen enough corpses to know that Zell had been dead for weeks, yet they had only met her the day before. Something was amiss. A note in the hatbox mentioned a man named “Rolth”, suggesting that Zell’s severed head might be useful for one of his “experiments”. Another note in the room mentioned picking up merchandise from a ship called the Blue Nixie. Perhaps it would get them closer to Gaedren, and closer to vengeance for all the misery he had caused.
One last item in the room caught their attention: a circular gold brooch depicting a pseudo dragon and an imp coiled around each other in an almost yin-yang pattern. It looked to be quite expensive, worth far more than anything else in Yargrin’s drug den.
Bhraghad gathered up the girl, taking her to get help, leaving the others to burn Yargrin’s shiver. He would meet them back at the docks, so that they could find whatever clues the Blue Nixie held. While he was gone, Kumash used his magic on the harbourmaster, charming the man. Inserting himself into the harbour’s power structure, he then led the group to the Blue Nixie.
Alas, upon arrival they learned that the Nixie wasn’t docked, but was moored one hundred feet from the pier’s end. The harbourmaster suspected the ship of smuggling, and by not actually docking, the Nixie was avoiding being searched; at least until the proper bribes could be secured. Now that he had the harbourmaster charmed, Kumash volunteered to inspect the ship, while at the same time, pretending to be one of Gaedren’s men, securing an alliance with the Nixie’s captain.
As the merchandise was off-loaded, the heroes learned that the Nixie wasn’t bringing a shipment of shiver, it was bringing a shipment of dream spiders, including a dream spider queen. Starved, the ravenous queen burst free, leaping at one of the drow smugglers working on offloading the crates. The smugglers drew weapons and tried to stop the creature, but it made quick work of them.
The group stepped aside, letting the dream spider queen kill the smugglers. They were criminals, after all, and part of Gaedren Lamm’s empire. They were going to die today anyway. While the heroes were willing to let the drow die, they weren’t willing to let the spider kill any of the civilians on the dock. They stepped in and quickly dispatched of the creature.
They were now left with a problem. There were a lot of dead bodies on the dock, and once Kumash’s charm spell expired, the harbourmaster was going to be angry. They quickly loaded the bodies back onto the Blue Nixie, and took the Nixie back out to zee. They realized that they now had their own ship, as all the smugglers were dead. Kumash placed the corpses in the hold, intending to use them in his necromantic experiments.
Having learned where Gaedren’s warehouse was, the group headed out. Kaz shifted into the form of a large spider, hoping to fool the criminals within. The orog warehouse workers were fooled, but Gaedren Lamm was not. He knew immediately that the spider was not a dream spider. At last the heroes had tracked down Lamm. Kumash charmed one of the orog workers, commanding it to attack Lamm.
The battle was vicious. A helmed horror within the room joined the battle as well, the heroes fighting on multiple fronts. It was a hard fought battle, but the heroes eventually emerged victorious. The charmed orog, however, was not as fortunate. Gaedren Lamm was dead. There was still a warehouse to investigate, and possibly more guards. Needing to catch their breath, the heroes decided to inspect the rest of the warehouse first.
Having caught their breath, the heroes considered their options. They knew the Paupers’ Hands were getting their drugs from a fishery in the docks, but they hadn’t finished liberating St. Casperian’s from the gang. They moved forward cautiously, scouting out the rest of the flophouse. Peering carefully through keyholes, and aided by Kumash’s spider familiar, the heroes could see two Paupers, dressed similarly to others in the gang, resting in one of the rooms. The room across seemed empty.
Sneaking quietly, they opened up the door to the empty room. The room stank of mildew. Furnished simply, Encio made note of the calligraphy pens and fine parchment sitting on the desk. He grabbed a couple of the pens and some of the paper, in case it could be use down the road. A door at the back of the room exited out to a balcony. A quiet look through the door showed an aged man, heavy cataracts clouding his vision. He sat quietly outside, tending a number of pigeons.
The heroes left the blind man alone with his birds. He didn’t look like he’d be able to help them track down any criminal masterminds. Through the sole remaining door on this level, they found the cloisters. A simple timber partition split the room into two bedrooms. One side hosted a collection of empty wine bottles, while the other was fastidiously organized. Apparently one of the priests had a drinking problem. The group made note of the iconography to Helel, but as none of the group were followers of the Turathian god of light, they left the holy texts alone.
Returning to the only locked door in the flophouse, Encio pulled out a set of thieves’ tools, picking the lock. He tossed the padlock into his pack, just in case. This room was remarkably clean for a flophouse, and the bed actually looked comfortable. A search of the room found three wardrobe cases pushed beneath the bed. Two of the cases held plain street clothing, while the third contained a disguise kit, a mirror, and sealing wax. Perfect tools for someone trying to hide their identity. A secret compartment revealed dozens of papers written in shorthand. Kumash studied the writing, figuring out they were paid and unpaid IOUs from various petty criminals and smugglers throughout the city. Encio pocketed the papers. They didn’t look like they’d be immediately useful to his investigation, but having a paper trail never hurt.
Finding nothing more of interest in the flophouse, the heroes descended back down to the main level. They had found as much as they could in the flophouse. Upon entering the chapel, they were greeted by Beltias Kreun, the Splithog Pauper, leader of the Hands. He held a squirming Sylee in his arms, a blade across the young orphan’s throat. Behind him, two daemonfae held other prisoners - Father Padrick, and Maydean, a tired young woman who bore the marks of being a victim of physical abuse. Kaz growled, ready to lead forward. Bhraghad made it very clear that if Beltias didn’t release the girl, his future was going to be very bloody and very short.
Kumash moved to diffuse the situation, casting a charm person spell on Beltias. Asking politely, Kumash was able to get the Splithog Pauper to release his prisoner. Still, Beltias was unwilling to release the others, or to let the heroes just walk away. He suspected of them being a rival gang trying to move in on his territory. Blood had been spilt, and he couldn’t just forget about all the men he had lost to intruders. One of the daemonfae panicked, accidentally slicing Maydean’s throat open. His companion tossed Father Padrick aside, firing a bolt from his crossbow at the heroes.
The envenomed weapons of the daemonfae knocked Encio out of the fight, while Kumash worked his magic on Maydean to save the former prostitute’s life. Kaz and Bhraghad focused their attention on Beltias. Seeking to escape, the Pauper blasted Bhraghad in the eyes with colour spray, running out of St. Casperian’s. The wolf and the dwarf followed him into the streets. He had threatened the life of a child. For that, he needed to pay.
People in the streets called for help. Even Beltias got in on it, shouting that he was being attacked and needed help. Greycloaks were close by, already on patrol of the area. They ordered everyone to stop attacking, and were ready to arrest Bhraghad. Beltias was skilled at deception, and this wasn’t the first time he had lied to the police. The timely intervention of Father Padrick, however, changed the outcome. He confirmed that Beltias was the aggressor, taking hostages. The priest also expressed regret that he hadn’t noticed a criminal enterprise going on in his own parish.
Encio pulled out his badge, identifying himself as a Brass Embassy inquisitor. He inquired where the Greycloaks would be taking the prisoner. The Greycloaks replied that they would take Beltias to the Zeetower for arraignment. The tiefling liked knowing where to find the Splithog Pauper. With the threat of the Paupers’ Hands taken care of, the heroes realized it was too late to check out the Westpier fishery. Final Bell would be sounding soon.
The heroes each went their separate ways, agreeing to meet up at the docks around Dawn Bell. Encio returned to the Brass Embassy. He needed to advise his superiors on the pianist situation, and he wanted to let them know he’d be away from the Embassy for a bit while he tracked down Gaedren Lamm. They were satisfied with the situation, pleased with the idea of capturing the criminal.
Encio overheard nobles in the Embassy talking about the upcoming Festival of Descent. It was the annual celebration of the city’s transport beneath the surface. It could be quite the bacchanalia. It seemed the Traitor King had taken ill, and there were concerns the festival might be delayed, or even cancelled, as a result. Encio wasn’t sure if the nobles’ melancholy was genuine sadness for the king’s illness, or if it was the result of being free of their souls.
Bhraghad returned to St. Sofia’s, inquiring about the possibility of resting there for the night. Given his recent donation, the orphanage’s stewards were more than happy to provide him with a bed and a simple meal. It wasn’t much, but it was more comfortable than the streets. Kaz remained in animal form, making a bed of straw in the stables.
Kumash returned to the Acadamae, and to his own bed. It seemed that news of the king’s illness at reached the school. While the Festival of Descent paled in comparison to the Breaching Festival, as far as the Acadamae was concerned, there seemed to be concerns about the king’s health. If he died, the Queen Consort might take the throne. Rebellion was whispered. “She’s not our queen, you know,” was commonly muttered on campus.
Shortly after Dawn Bell, the heroes gathered near the fishery. Word on the docks was that the fishery was a place where desperate fishermen could sell off their less fetching catches and where fishmongers dumped old stock that was beginning to reek with the first hints of decay. Here, the fishery created a foul-smelling slurry that was later resold as bait, fertilizer, and as the main ingredient in “dock dumplings”, a local favourite among the poorer dock workers who couldn’t afford a fresh fillet of fish.
Kumash sent his spider familiar to scout the front of the fishery. The reek of brine and the stink of week dead fish hung thickly in the air. The front of the fishery seemed closed up tight, but a side loading dock was open. The heroes marched in, searching for any sign of Lamm’s drug empire. The stink in this room, a mixture of fish and sweat, was enough to make their eyes water. It also perfectly covered the signature smell of shiver. Filthy zee water and fish blood stained the floor. A dozen orphans, Lamm’s Lambs, toiled here, using pitchforks to feed fish into slurry tanks.
A wretch of a svirfneblin named Hookshanks Gruller, barely taller than the orphans, bossed the Lamms around. He was not happy with the intrusion. When the heroes attempted to push past him, he drew a blade to stop them. The Lamms pressed themselves against the walls, frightened by the armed intruders. As the gnome fought the heroes, he called for “Giggles” to help.
Giggles, it seemed, was a one-eyed orc brute. He got his name from his sourire de l'ange, and the way he tittered as he beat orphans who weren’t working fast enough. Bhraghad had a soft spot in his heart for orphans. Anyone who hurt orphans enraged the dwarf. Having experienced life as a Lamm, Kaz shared Bhraghad’s rage. The pair tore into Giggles, felling the taskmaster.
Bhraghad called to the children, telling them to go to St. Sofia’s. Realizing they were free, all of the Lamms vanished into the streets. The heroes began a search of the fishery, looking for any clues to Gaedren’s whereabouts. In an office, they found a grizzled dog, a foul-tempered cur named Bloo. Kaz shifted back to human form, casting a spell so that he could converse with the animal, calming it.
Bloo explained that his master was named Yargrin, and that he ran things from the fishery’s lower level, which could only be reached by a hole in the floor of the fishery. The dog had never been on the lower level, so he couldn’t provide any more information than that.
While the druid conversed with the dog, Encio investigated the office. There was just enough legitimate paperwork so that if the constables ever did a surprise inspection, the fishery would look like a legitimate business. Beyond that, there was no evidence of a shiver operation.
Before they headed down, the heroes wanted to inspect the old ship lashed to the side of the fishery. The rotten deck of the ancient barge was barely intact, its hull worn and thick with seaweed and barnacles. Stepping carefully, the group entered the ship’s hold. The air was thick and musty. Sheets of cobwebs hung from the walls and mounds of blankets, cushions, and straw cluttered the floor. In the years since someone had last been aboard the ship, it had been turned into a spider nest.
Four drain spiders crawled across the webs looking for a warm meal. Drain spiders were venomous, mottled brown spiders about the size of a small rat. After a strong downpour, these spiders were often forced onto street level by flooding, boiling up from the drains in great swarms and thus justifying their common name. Kumash ignited the webs with a burning hands spell, clearing a bunch of the clutter from the hold.
With the spiders dead, the heroes realized there was a secret door from the bottom of the ship to the lower level of the fishery. Hidden from any wandering eyes, they took a moment to bandage their wounds before searching for Yargrin.