40 Winks…and Approximately 4,000 Gold Pieces
After clearing Mount Humphrey, the heroes set out on the wide, flat, and straight road heading north. Telesphorus recalled that the road heads straight into Port Crescent, approximately 10 miles to the north along the Torsk Coast. Before setting out on the road, the heroes camped atop a high hill (similar to Weathertop in LOTR). In their dreams, each character was visited by a symbolic vision of their deity, delivering new gear to them in exchange for a monetary offering (DM Note: easiest way to explain the new gear). Ashlynne was also given a pact to fulfill—she must kill five human males in the next month, and she must kill (in a horrible way) an “intelligent, pure-of-heart, sentient creature that trusts her” in the same amount of time. Ashlynne decided to not tell anyone of her special directives.
The next day, the heroes headed north along the Hambull Road—even though the regional humans erroneously call it Humbill road, Telesphorus knows much in the way of local history. He also knows that there is rich Dwarven history in this region, but that all Dwarven activity ended thousands of years ago. Since then, human fishers and merchants settled along the rich and well-positioned coastline until settling under the single flag of Wavebreaker at their seat of power in Port Crescent almost 600 years ago. In the past 100 years, however, the fishing hauls have slowed dramatically, natural disasters have caused trouble, and pirates have penetrated the once-unshakable Port Crescent supply routes.
The Sting of the Desert Sand
At a point along the road where it became impossible to look further up the road in the horizon, a black smoke was visible just over a hill crest. Theren scouted ahead and saw that four dwarves on two wagons were under attack by five scorpions. One of the wagons was destroyed and a fifth dwarf laid dead on the ground. After destroying a few of the minion scorpions, a tiny scorpion of 5" emerged from a hole of the same size, moving many squares before suddenly growing in size to a large creature. Baldwin ran right into the action, using a teleportation power to switch places with a direly wounded dwarf named Faradoc Hilltopple. Meanwhile, Ashlynne and Telesphorus provided cover and distraction to allow the other living dwarves to flee safely. After a brutal fight that saw Theren nearly dropped to his knees in damage, the heroes were able to clear the area of any other dangers. Finally, Telesphorus brought the fifth, dead dwarf back to life; that dwarf’s name was Pumple Copperbottom.
The dwarves introduced themselves to the heroes. It turns out that Saradoc, Faradoc, and Paradoc Hilltopple are brothers travelling to Port Crescent in order to ask for permits to do prospecting and surveying in the mountains near Port Crescent. The humans of Port Crescent grew into great wealth through the sea, and they saw no value in ever exploring the mountains. Also travelling with the Hilltopples are Yancy and Pumple Copperbottom, Dwarven cousins. Yancy believes that Pumple maybe didn’t deserve to be brought back to life—both because it’s unnatural and also because Pumple has always been foolish and looking for a fight. During a shared campfire and meal, Saradoc asked the heroes to escort the dwarves into the city of Port Crescent. The Hilltopple brothers were under the impression that Lady Wavebreaker was potentially not going to be receptive to the Dwarves, especially since they were now going to be a full day late to their meeting with her.
The South Gate
The next day, the heroes escorted the Dwarves the final leg of the journey to Port Crescent, passing through the South Gate. They were introduced as escorts for the Dwarves, but Captain Warrik at the South Gate wanted to hear from each of the heroes individually. Telesphorus explains his skills with healing and is allowed to pass through in hopes that he can offer some assistance with some of the residents of the Sea Shanty village. Baldwin used diplomacy to talk about his exploits, and Captain Warrik was very impressed and commented on Baldwin’s incredible armor. Ashlynne was able to bluff the Captain and tell him some lies about her exploits; Captain Warrik believed the tales and was taken with Ashlynne’s beauty. He mentioned that she should visit an old army guard captain named Percival at a tavern in the city called The Netted Barrel. Theren was silent, and Telesphorus was able to use his religious knowledge to ease the entire group through the gate. As the heroes and the dwarves departed the South Gate, an unarmored young man sent a falcon flying in the direction of the city and Captain Warrik told the Dwarves that it was an Officer’s Day and they should make haste.
When the heroes and the Dwarves arrived in Port Crescent, it became clear what an Officer’s Day is—a day when normal citizens can take their concerns directly to the head of government. In the case of Port Crescent, Lady Eiluvial Wavebreaker is the head of government, referred to as the Officer of the Fleet of Port Crescent. Saradoc Hilltopple was pulled aside by a human female, Lieutenant Lanx, wearing an official uniform with a falcon patch on her right shoulder. Theren was able to overhear their conversation, where Lanx explained to Saradoc that Lady Eiluvial had prepared a large reception the day before in anticipation of her first official Dwarven guests. This news was genuinely stunning to Saradoc, since he had heard rumors that Lady Eiluvial Wavebreaker was potentially dismissive to Dwarves.
When it was the Dwarves’ turn to address Lady Wavebreaker, she kept their initial meeting short because it looked as though the Dwarves were battle-weary and road-weary; she even thought enough of them to worry that these Dwarves had to travel such a long distance over such flat land. Lady Wavebreaker then addressed the heroes, asking them to introduce themselves. Baldwin and Telesphorus kept their introductions simple in front of such a large gathering. Theren pulled up his hood and kept completely silent, causing Lady Wavebreaker to move on to Ashlynne. Ashlynne introduced herself to the lady and the assembly as “Alexandra,” and everyone believed it was her name. It did, however, cause the Dwarves to react strangely at this name. At this point, Lady Wavebreaker ended the audience and the Officer’s Day.
The Copper Flagon
The heroes joined the Dwarves for a drink and dinner at their inn, The Copper Flagon, in the Service District. Theren immediately went to the back of the large common room to observe everything. He overheard two men talking about a secret ship outfitted to be a common looking carrick harboring hidden modifications in order to “deal with pirates.” Theren approaced the men and he began talking to one of them, named Billibund Arkton from the Valleste Merchant Group. Arkton informed Theren that he needed four crewmen to complete the carrick’s crew, but the four crewmen needed to be able and willing to fight person-to-person. If Theren could find four people, he should meet Arkton at the Spice Office of Valleste Merchant Group in the Port District soon.
Meanwhile, Baldwin stepped up to the bar to order a round of drinks. The bartender, Arthur, was happy to help the Dragonborn. While pouring the drinks, Arthur continued a conversation with another man at the bar about “the port ghost.” Arthur said that he had never seen the ghost himself, but knew plenty of people who claimed to have seen it. With a little more coaxing, Baldwin learned that Arthur had heard from a man named Wally about a golden shape floating out over Waxing Bay that then continued into Waning Bay and further out into the sea before diminishing out of sight. Of course, Arthur added, many people don’t trust Wally because he’s “a bit of a drunk,” but Arthur believes Wally’s story.
Baldwin brought the drinks back to the others and Telesphorus claimed that he could not be affected by such libations. Arthur overheard this and said “Oy! I have something for you, then!” and poured a short drink from a small wooden cask. This was enough to slow Telesphorus and Theren took him up to his room. Baldwin and Ashlynne then had a conversation with Wanda Tartan, the widow of an old sailor, and the owner of The Copper Flagon. Wanda rambled on and on, but eventually shared information about a local museum and sometimes-shop called The Cross-Staff And Quadrant, run by a woman named Neris that would “like” Ashlynne—and Ashlynne seemed to take that to mean “sexually.”
The Cross-Staff and Quadrant
The next day, the heroes visited Neris at the Cross-Staff and Quadrant. The shop was empty and Theren decided to wait outside. Inside was a desk at the back of the room, with a hand bell and a finely crafted golden dagger with three, red gems. With Ashlynne’s arcana knowledge and Telesphorus’s high perception, they were able to determine that the gems were actually glass and filled with a liquid substance and that a magical warding had been placed on the dagger from a nearby person. Instead of touching the dagger, the heroes rang the bell and Neris came in through a heavy, locked shop door, closing the door behind her. She mentioned that she had other items in her personal collection, but she was unwilling to who it to strangers. If they did a small favor for her, she would allow them access to her collection. She needed the heroes to obtain a rubbing from a small, stone island (15′×15′) in the middle of a small bay called Shark’s Throat—just to the northeast of Port Crescent’s two main bays. Neris claims that she cannot do this because she is considered a snoop by many and she cannot gain access to the far bay. Also, she informs the heroes that the interior of Shark’s Throat is treacherous.
The heroes decide to charter a small ship and crew from Hexcursions. Captain Cliff Hextable explains that he’s perfectly willing to pilot a ship for any paying customers, but that a trip to Shark’s Throat would be no ordinary trip. He quotes a price of 150gp in the hopes that they will not take him up on the price, but the heroes agree to the terms. The crew share a good laugh at the lack of sea legs on Theren and Ashlynne, but their good humor quickly fades as they are left to deal with navigating Shark’s Throat. The ship barely made it through whirlpools, jagged rocks, and high waves, crashing directly into the small stone island.
The Voice In The Head of Telesphorus
Suddenly, Telesphorus heard a voice in his mind that he could not fight. Luckily, the voice was reassuring and calming, speaking of being a fellow follower of Bahamut. The voice said: “Hello messenger of Bahamut. Do not be alarmed. I also serve Bahamut. Be advised. Humans in this city are alarmed by the righteous. Tell only those you trust. Come to these rocks when the moon is missing from the night. Most importantly, only allow those with good souls to step on these rocks.” Before Telesphorus could react, Theren jumped out onto the rocks with a rope tied around his waist. When he contacted the rocks, a ray of light burned his foot with small damage. Telesphorus then made 3 rubbings, finding a dragon’s head marking—the symbol of Bahamut—and a message in an unknown language. On the return trip, Ashlynne used her magical glasses to decipher the message in Supernal, which said “When the night has come / And Luna has gone / The pure of soul may enter / This is a house of Bahamut.” It took a blessing from Melora at the request of a silent prayer from Baldwin, but the crew was able to extract the ship from Shark’s Throat. This seemed impossible to Captain Hextable, and so he threw all 150gp back at Theren and told them all to never mention this trip to anyone and to never come back.
That night, the four heroes separated. Theren trekked to the army base to scout for any information. With the exception of some daily life complaints of the soldiers, nothing could be gleamed. Theren was able to get an accurate layout of the army base from his scouting, though. Ashlynne walked along the ports of the Port District to try to overhear any conversations. She overheard a group of young men taunting another young man about his new job at Hubphrie Shipping Solutions, a local merchant group. The singled-out young man claimed that the owners are not descended from Humphrey—it’s just an unfortunate, similar-sounding name. Ashlynne used her streetsmarts to casually and anonymously insert the word “dumbphrey” into the mix and suddenly everyone around erupted in laughter, without knowing who uttered the brilliant epithet. The name is quickly spreading along the docks.
Telesphorus went to the Sea Shanty Village to investigate the rumors of sick people. Immediately, the sickness of the residents was evident. Everyone looked gray, smelled awful, was farting, and coughing. After healing a breastfeeding baby, allowing it to latch back onto its mother and have a chance at survival, Telesphorus also healed the baby’s mother, attempting to be secretive about it. He was, however, seen by a few of the locals and they wondered what his connection is to the sudden healing. With a little more exploration, Telesphorus also saw that the waste was being dumped—bucket by bucket—on a hill located above the water supply.
Meanwhile, Baldwin decided to ride Blackie up to the Tepid Caves, which was a two and a half hour horseback ride at a fast pace to the southwest. Upon arriving, he found a cave entrance. When Baldwin peered into the cave, he made too much noise and alerted something inside. Without seeing it coming, Baldwin was struck and knocked unconscious. Luckily, Blackie was able to pull him from the cave entrance in time and into the waves to revive Baldwin. He was lucky to escape with his life, and pulled a poisonous dart from his armor as he rode Blackie back to Port Crescent.
CSI: Port Crescent
The next day, the heroes returned to speak to Neris and to show her the rubbing she requested. When they arrived, Neris alerted them that something happened at her home the night before. She heard a “thud” in the night from her backyard, and looked out to see a single tree rustling. When the heroes went to the stables to investigate, they found the door with a broken lock. Outside, there was some fine gravel that smelled like the ocean, and some dried seaweed. Inside, the center stable was left locked, but the object that should have been secured in the room was missing. At the top of the tree, Theren found a cracked conch shell and a stone exactly like the the ones they found near and on Mount Humphrey. Finally, Theren noticed that the roof was offset from the walls—as though it had been picked up and paced back down.