Ptolus: City by the Spire

The Hidden City Aflame!

The party scanned about, quickly realizing that their best chance of survival was to make way towards the harbor.

The ground shook and quaked beneath their feet as the lava flow south of them constantly inched closer. The Ennin City was threatened to be consumed by the flames, and a heavy yellowish gas already crept past it’s toppled walls, choking and suffocating its residents with its poisonous vapor. Hastily climbing over the brambles and collapsed mushrooms of the toadstool forest, the party heard the noise of many people talking ahead. Laying low for precious moments, they spotted a large group of brigands (consisting of Ennin guards, mercenaries, hobgoblins, an orc and even a gnoll) quickly making their way to a small keep outside of the hidden city, its defensive walls now toppled by the many quakes and eruption.

The party, still unarmored and poorly equipped, waited for the brigands to pass and then pressed forward, crossing the fungal farms on the outskirts of the town. Down near the harbor, the group saw total chaos had erupted. A large mob of slaves had obviously escaped from the town and were slaughtering anyone dressed in Ennin garb. Countless slaves, guards and mercenaries lay dead and dying. Behind them, the Scum Slum between the town walls and harbor were burning violently, fire jumping from building to building. Beyond this, a great piece mail battle was raging on the docks as mobs of commoners, thugs, humanoid creatures and escaped slaves were scrambling and fighting to commandeer one of the few remaining fishing boats. It was every man for himself.

The party waded into this scene, scrambling to arm and equip themselves from the bodies of the many dead guards and mercenaries. Fighting off both guard and slave alike, the party noticed a large armored ogre holding back a mob of close to a hundred people, denying them entry to one of the piers.

A large sailing ship was moored there. As the party drew closer, they could see that behind the ogre, several guards ran about, hastily loading supplies onto the ship. A carved dragon figurehead adorned the prow. Reasoning this must be the ‘Water Dragon’, they began devising a plan to board her.

Their planning was interrupted, however, when an Ennin guard came rushing towards them. As he drew close, Ian and Maur recognized him as being the same man that had, dressed as a beggar, approached them when they first entered the town earlier. After some convincing, they followed him into a small shanty on the edge of Scum Slum, that had not yet caught afire.

He introduced himself as Gold, an agent working for Lord Zavere. He explained that Lord Zavere had told him that the party may be arriving there and to make contact with them. Gold said that he tried to when they initially arrived in the town, but Gideon had kicked him away. He had then followed them as they made their way about the town. When he saw them enter the Sign of the Rose brothel and, after several hours, not come out, he knew that they must have been captured. He had then contacted Lord Zavere for further instructions, only to be told (with no explanations given) that the party was searching for a female elven wizardress known as the Markessa, that she was one of the Slave Lords, and if given the opportunity, to capture her.

By then, the party had already noticed an unconscious Markessa, badly burned and wounded, laying on a cot.

The party, now joined by Gold carried Markessa to one of the docks, opting to avoid the large sailing ship, which, according to Gold, was where the surviving Slave Lords had fought their way to and were preparing to make good their escape. The party, joined by an escaped slave at the last moment, fought through the mob of panic-strickened and desperate people, before finally making it aboard one of the small fishing boats. The Markessa was struck by an arrow, and likely would have died in her weakened state, if not for the luck of Gold having a healing potion in his belt pouch.

As the party sailed away, they cast one last glimpse to the Hidden City, as the heavy yellowish gas poured over the walls, washing through the burning remains of Scum Slum and settling over the docks, choking and smothering the crazed mob still stranded there. Lava filled the ruins of the city – The Hidden Ennin City was no more.

Just before the party sailed their smal lfishing boat int othe mouth of a cave and down the subterranean river to freedom, they caught sight of the Water Dragon sailing far behind them, catching a glimpse of the surviving Slave Lords who managed to escape – Stallman, Millerjoi, Edralve, Ketta, Lamonstein and Theg Narlot.
The party was whisked along the river, eventually emerging from a cave into the Bay of Ptolus. With Ji-Geoman’s help, the party quickly determined they were about a days sail north of Ptolus. Charting their course, they had an uneventful journey back to the City Beneath the Spire.

Arriving in the Docks District under the cover of night, the escaped slave parted ways, announcing his plans to earn passage on the next ship headed to Cosolen. Ji-Geoman, likewise, left the party’s company. At this, the party carried Markessa to a growler, instructing the driver to take them to the Guilder Gate. Markessa, now bound, gagged and wrapped in a blanket regained consciousness during the ride. Gold paid for the ride, tipping the growler driver extra for his silence. Gold then agreed to make a diversion to lure away the city watch at the gate, buying time for the party to sneak past.

The plan went almost as expected, with several of the guards leaving their posts to respond to a nearby alarm call that Gold sounded. Two guards, however, remained at the gate, but were distracted, peering down the street their comrades had just rushed down. The party drew close to the gate, but at the last moment, one of the guards took notice of the party, especially of Maur with the Markessa tossed over his shoulder, her head nearly scraping against the ground.

If not for Gideon’s clever ruse convincing the guards they were a company of delvers who had had too much to drink at Tabby’s Den and were now trying to get back home, outside of the walls, they surely would have been thrown into a cell at the nearest Watchhouse.

Safely outside the city walls, they led the Markessa back to the Smuggler’s Caverns and into the Undercity beneath the Bottleworks. Ian and Maur prodded the Markessa forward, who was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with each step. Gideon led the way, with Feruch guarding the rear.

After a time, the party found themselves back in the slave holding room, where Markesssa had ordered the many captives put to the blade. She was led past the many cells filled with the bloated, putrescent corpses of men, women and children, At last, they arrived at the last cell, where a statue of the Markessa had been fashioned by the Cavelings. Markessa protested, refusing to enter, but a forceful shove by Maur left her no alternative. The party entered the cave in the rear of the cell – the Lair of the Cavelings.

When the party arrived at the edge of the flooded tunnels, Mouth scampered up to greet them. Realizing they had brought the “Outer Markessa” to them as promised, he was estatic with joy. He quickly summoned a boat to carry them to the Inner Markessa.

As the party stood before the Inner Markessa and the gathered host of Cavelings, he was instructed to place Outer Markessa into the same cage that had once held Yara. Once this was done, Gideon asked about lifting the spell which had bound them to this task.

Inner Markessa presented each of them with a berry. After some deliberation and fears of another trap, or perhaps poison, First Ian, then Maur and lastly Feruch ate their berry. Only Gideon refused. At this offense, the Inner Markessa explained that the spell was broken the moment Outer MArkessa was placed in the cage, and that these berries had been a final test of friendship between the party and the Cavelings. She announced that each of them who had eaten of the berry would be welcome in the Lair of the Cavelings from henceforth, but since Gideon had refused, he would never be permitted entry there again. There was much protest among the party members, with Maur especially trying to dissuade the CAvelings from passing this judgment, but at the end, Inner Markessa proclaimed that their laws could not be broken. The party, somewhat unsatisfied with the results of their grand adventure, returned to the surface.

After some time, the party arrived back at their rent house in the Guildsman District, finding another “rent due” notice on the door. They retired for the night, travel worn, hungry and exhausted, but taking time to discuss their plans moving forward before going to bed.

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