Wind 12, 721 IA – Rain 8, 721 IA
The party makes some last minute preparations before setting out to the Ennin Temple complex. Gideon reasons that their small group may not be enough to deal with the challeneges they may face and some additional muscle may be necessary. They pay a visit to Brother Fabitor to again secure the assistance of the small squad of the Order of the Dawn at his disposal.
Despite Fabitor’s concerns (especially since one of his knights had died last time they had helped the party) he agreed upon learning that the Ebon Hand and the Ennin were corrupting children into foul creatures of chaos. Gideon insisted on having Fabitor make copies of all the ledgers and notes the party had accumulated which implicated and laid bare the plans of the chaos cults (so that should anything happen to them, this information will not die with them).
The party and the knights (required by Brother Fabitor to shed their symbols so as to appear as a small group of mercenaries hired by the party) then made way to the Temple District Watch House at the appointed hour. Watch Commander Edgar Nachtmann had a force of two dozen members of the Watch ready, with another force of the Commissar’s Men staging in Oldtown as reinforcements.
The party and knights entered the sewers, passed into the tunnel used by the cultists, finally arriving at the crossroads near the Ennin Temple entrance…walking straight into an ambush.
Five cultists and a Priest of the Ebon Hand had secretly followed the group upon their arrival in the sewers. At this point, they attacked, as a much larger force of about twenty cultists and another Priest of the Ebon Hand attacked from in front. This group was bolstered by a Child of the Hand as well as beinng personally led by Frein Avathon, Commander of the Ebon Hand’s guards.
Despite Ian successfully blinding the Child of the Hand will a well thrown dart at the beginning of the battle, and with many of the cultists dying at the hands of Gideon and the Knights of the Dawn, the party eventually succumbed to the spells of the Ebon Hand Priests. Commander Avathon then came to the group, paralyzed by her priest’s magics, to gloat.
She explained that the party was allowed to leave the Ebon Hand Temple earlier that day strictly because Malleck wondered who they worked for. Successfully operating a chaos temple in the city requires one to choose their enemies carefully. When the party went only to the local Watch House, the Ebon Hand knew the group had no powerful allies and that no one would bother to come looking for them. Malleck had also told the party that their next stop should be the Ennin Temple, so it was easy for them to know the party’s next likely move would be to take the tunnels again to attack the Ennin. They walked right into the perfect ambush.
The Ebon Priests then put black hoods over each of the party members’ heads. They explained to the group as they did so, that they would now be taken to the Ennin, not as liberators and abolitionists, but to be slaves, just as they rightly deserve to be for daring to cross the Ebon Hand.
A splash of water to each of their faces woke Ian, Maur, Gideon and Feruch to their new reality. They were tired, dirty, wearing nothing but loin cloths, each of their beards having noticeably grown. Their hands and feet were shackled and they heard a loud rabble as they found themselves being led up a set of wooden stairs by a large ogre. Looking about, they were in a large cavern most likely deep beneath the city. Atop the stairs, they were situated on a platform where a large group of humans, dwarves, goblins, and even a minotaur yelled out numbers to a obese man wearing a black executioner-style hood. A massive lizardman, rippling with muscles stood beside him as they each realized they were being auctioned off at a slave market.
A familiar voice called out a bid of 500 gold pieces for the whole lot. It was none other than Malkeen Balacazar. No one dared bid against him. The slave auctioneer immediately declared the lot sold. The party was now his property.
He (along with his bodyguard Na’haras) escorted them through the crowd, arriving at a private spot nearby. Na’haras then reached down with his bare hands breaking the chains and bending the manacles to free their hands. Malkeen then explained that he was making his way through the Dark Market when he saw the party (his “friends”) up for auction as slaves. He could never tolerate having his friends as slaves, and considering that the party had done him a “favor” by returning his pocketwatch, buying them could be the least he could do to help them out in return. He quickly added, though, that returning a pocketwatch was hardly sufficient payment for having given them back their lives, so the party now owed him a favor in return.
Malkeen explained that over the past year, a group calling themselves the Killravens had been trying to compete with his business in the city. They had been marginally successful, at first, but had recently suffered many setbacks and were now clearly growing desperate. He had recently learned that the leader of the Killravens, a woman named Kevris was planning to attack his family, directly. Specifically, she intended to target Malkeen’s nephew, young Dullin Balacazar (about ten years of age) during a performance at a play he is soon to be in at the Cloud Theater in Midtown.
Malkeen agrees to release the group from his servitude, provided that the boy makes it safely through his performance and the attack is thwarted. He had heard the party was rather adept at rescuing children, especially ones with odd rune-like birthmarks on their cheeks, which Dullin was born with.
Seeing few options, the party agreed to help Malkeen, and were given instructions to meet Maystra Balacazar (Malkeen’s older sister and Dullin’s mother) at the Cloud Theater later that afternoon. He would send word to be expecting them. He then escorted them from the cavern, up a flight of stairs and through a secret door, where they emerged in the back room of Scouts’ Guides and Porters in the Undercity Market.
Almost naked, with no equipment, Malkeen left them there by smiling slyly and saying “You’re welcome.”
Unsure what to do next, a courier soon approached with a slightly confused look on his face. He explained that three weeks ago a man came to the Courier’s office in Midtown with instructions to be at the Undercity Market on this day and time to meet two men, a dwarf and a boy in their underwear. He was instructed to tell them only to “Go home. There is something for you there.” He had no further useful information, and had not seen the man who gave the instructions, saying only that someone at the office may recall what he looked like.
The party then went to St. Gustav’s where Brother Fabitor was genuinely shocked to see them. He explained that they had been missing for over three weeks and presumed to have died when they attacked the Ennin. His knights had never returned, so he could only fear the worst. He explained that since they had all disappeared the Church had placed a lot of scrutiny on him and how he manages the affairs of the chapel and he had no idea how this was all going to play out. He was thankful to see them, and hopeful that the knights whereabouts would soon be known. With that, he agreed to call a growler and paid for it to take the party back to their rent house in the Guildsman District.
Arriving at home, they found a RENT DUE notice on the front door from their landlord. Having no keys, Ian was able to gain entry through a open upstairs window and soon the party was inside. On the heating stone in the living room, the party found a short note which read:
In your rooms, you will find as many of your items as I was able to recover. You must continue your mission as planned. Stay the course and see this through to the end. It is too important to give up now.
- Stallman Klim
The party had never heard the name, but realized they must have some mysterious benefactor. In each of their rooms, as promised, was a parcel including their Imperial Identification Papers, Firearms Licenses and a few of their pieces of non-magical gear.
The party can only ponder what happened to them over the past three weeks. Where are the Knights of the Dawn they were with? Gideon vows to return to attack both the Ennin and the Ebon Hand, but first, they must repay a debt owed to the vicious crime lord, Malkeen Balacazar.