Union

S1E11: Always Have a Plan
Adventuring is the Pits...

The story opens with a flashback of Hope and her sister growing up in the orphanage. Hope took the older sister role perfectly, stealing from the kitchen to feed her sister, Carrion. Their lives were tough as they were abused and ignored by their peers. As the flashback concluded, a kobold was standing over a sleeping Lyra. When she awoke, he immediately presented her with a spoon. The kobold realized his mistake and then handed her a piece of parchment. The parchment listed an address and the phrase, "Don't Lose Hope" with a black smiling face scrawled at the bottom. After meeting back up with Shimmer, they decided to conclude their immediate business with Ekino, Queen of the Drow. Taking their slightly spoiled quarry to her temporary residence, they met with Railyn who gladly took Sidell of their hands. He then presented a deal for the group. Ekino would be in the city for quite some time and she was offering patronage to the company while she was there. She would ensure them work and a place to live; to call their own. The company agreed.

After their meeting with Railyn, they headed to the address that was in the lower part of the Weaver's Cross. The large warehouse had double doors at the front and a single door at the back. After breaking in, our heroes came upon Hope, locked into an antimagic chair. Nearby was the inverted crucified body of Carrion.

After fiddling with the chair, Shimmer and Jackson ultimately shattered the device rendering it useless. They discovered that Carrion's body was tortured prior to being killed and she had a black smear across her face in the shape of a smile. Hope paid her last respects and set the body ablaze as she turned and started making her way to the Artist's Quarters where Carrion's adoptive parents lived. Once there, she was invited in by the half-elf mother who cried for her lost child while the red dragonborn father erupted into a rage, demanding that Hope leave and never come back. Before parting, Hope left them several gems and a note detailing how she could be reached. 

The rest of the company headed for the Dagnir where they found Feryn patiently waiting. Some nice pleasantries later, Joseph Korr walked in carrying food from the local market. Korr handed Athelstan a stack of reports about strange statues being seen in the Von Goethe Gardens. Some speculate that there is a monster afoot there. Korr agreed and dispatched Athelstan and his crew to deal with the beast as his initiation. Athelstan took the job with a smile and promised to deal with the creature immediately. 

Immediately, however, was longer than expected. Theristis had a job to finish. Ugren the Pit Master owned many of the pits in the Apiary and the Guruthos wanted him removed from power so they could plant their own puppet. Tristin pushed himself to the front of the line in order to set up the distraction for the group but was promptly beat down by a fighter known as Silverback. The company then improvised and started a large brawl in the stands while Ugren and his bodyguards headed for the back rooms. After breaking down doors and nearly dying, Theristis carved off the head of the half-giant and took his prize to the Guruthos. Our heroes beded down for the night, not knowing what pain the Beast of the Gardens would bring…

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S1E10: Ogres and Psychos
The past comes back to bite...

(I have amended some of the ending for more dramatic effect)

After the battle against Sidell and his servant, our heroes began to search through the wizard’s lab for any information. Unfortunately, Hope stepped on a pressure plate, activating a ‘force snake’ that rampaged through the room. It struck most of the heroes but also destroyed much of Sidell’s notes and journals. Despite the wreckage, they did discover a nice cache of coin and goods as well as discovered Sidell was working on attempting to stabilize a gateway somewhere in Union; the location was unclear.

The company then headed towards the Temple District. They found a nice inn to stay at while Shimmer took Sidell further to the Temple of Io where he would question him. During the night at the inn, our heroes were ambushed by ogres bursting in through the walls of the tavern itself. This would prove most impressive as they were staying on the fourth floor. The ogres put up a strong fight but were ultimately defeated. At the end of the battle, Lyra noticed that Hope, knocked unconscious during the fight, had disappeared. Searching the room, Theristis and Jackson determined that there were two individuals staying in the room and they left in a hurry, likely carrying Hope with them. They headed to the front desk where a large crowd of angry patrons were shouting about the noise upstairs. Our heroes calmly strode in and demanded to know who was staying in the room where Hope disappeared. The owner relented and handed them the false names and a brief description. With this information, our heroes headed to the Temple of Io.

Meanwhile, Shimmer had brought Sidell to his temple where he was greeted by Crowder. The black dragon was more than entertained by Shimmer’s choice to ‘question’ the aaracockraa and even offered to lend a hand. Shimmer wrote down a small list of questions to be asked and turned the dragon loose on the bird-man. A few hours later, Crowder reemerged but covered in blood. With a smile on his face and a thank you in his voice, he handed Shimmer a crude map of Union detailing four locations in the city where Sidell knew the Dreamwalkers were collaborating from: Weaver’s Cross, The Rookery, The Artist’s Quarters, and The Library Eternal.

After our heroes arrived at the Temple of Io, they were greeted by a kobold who alerted Shimmer to their presence. Shimmer informed his followers to divert them to the servant’s quarters for the night. The company settled in amongst over two dozen kobolds in a small room, each one counting their own worthless treasures. Theristis handed five of them silver pieces to  watch over him during the night but they immediately ran off into the temple shouting that they had received coin for their masters.

The bag was ripped off of Hope’s head to reveal that she was locked into an anti-magic chair and was blinded by two hooded lanterns. The scratchy voice from the darkness spoke of Hope’s memory loss and kept mentioning how “you tried to get rid of me”. The voice also promised to burn everything that Hop held dear, friends, family, and possessions. While Hope balked at the threats and mocked him, the Black Smile followed through illuminating the inverted, crucified body of Hope’s sister. As emotions began to overflow in Hope’s mind, she heard one final taunt from the psychotic murderer, “Everything that follows is on your head…”

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S1E9: The Master of Portals
How to effectively wreck a wizard's day

Leaving the Dagnir compound, our heroes headed to the Inquisition Headquarters in the Flower Bed. Once there, they were promptly impeded by the bureaucracy of the system and scheduled an appointment in two days. Seeing nothing more to be done at the headquarters, our heroes headed towards the Library Eternal for potentially more information. Their plans were hindered when yet another small gateway opened, unleashing an owlbear and several worgs against the heroes.

After the threat was quickly dealt with, they continued on their way and made a pit stop at Lyra’s guild hall, meeting with her master, Valerian. The overjoyed wizard welcomed the heroes into his home and told them what he could about the Blood-Rose petal they found at the second portal, a rare ingredient in portal making. Valerian only recalled one individual in Union who had access to such ingredients (most others would have to deal with overpriced black market dealers or collect it themselves). He then directed them towards Torrin the Red, a Loremaster in the Library Eternal.

The Library Torrin worked in was rather boring and as our heroes entered, they discovered Torrin in conversation with a tiefling in spiked armor and a female human. The tiefling was apparently discouraged that Torrin had yet to find a gardening book for a friend of his. The two ventured out from the library empty handed and passed a smile at the group. Our heroes inquired about the Blood Rose as well as anyone looking to obtain them. After a few words, Torrin relented and told them the information they needed. An elf bought some of the Blood Rose off him and inquired about books pertaining to magical travel beyond the known planes of existence. Torrin refused the elf and he went on his way to the address provided by the book-keeper.

Our heroes went as far as they could during the remaining portion of the day and slept at a respected inn. During the night, Theristis was greeted by Swiftmark once more as he asked how his assignment was going. Theristis told the assassin that he was currently engaged in another job and would deal with the pit-fighter as soon as he was finished. This satisfied Swiftmark who let the drow get some sleep. The following day found our heroes finishing their journey to the Spiral Rise where the address was as well as some shopping. Tristin, realizing he had a meeting to attend, hurriedly rushed to the Artist’s Quarters with Shimmer to meet Granny Sam. The old crone was less than excited at Tristin’s request for a Glamour as she only desired to help those who needed it, not those socially accepted in society. However, Tristin ‘won’ her over and she agreed to give the Halfling a Glamour as she smiled sadistically.

Once all of our heroes were back together again, they pushed on the next morning to the address they had. The tower was surprisingly smaller than they would think. While half knocked on the door, Athelstan, Tristin, and Jackson headed to the top level. Beetlejuice was sent as a go between for the two groups and gave the signal when a battle was occurring. Down at the door, our heroes encountered the worst of foes: an idiot. But not just any idiot, a half-ogre of great strength and size. They attempted to treat with him, bargain with him, threaten him but all seemed to bounce off his inferior intellect until Shimmer managed to spot Sidell attempting to flee down the stairs to the lower half of the tower. A battle ensued with Sidell turning invisible and managed to detonate a fireball spell in close proximity to the heroes, almost killing Lyra and Theristis in the process. The battle ended quickly, however, when Tristin flung himself down from the upper levels, knocking the wizard to the ground long enough for Shimmer to lock on the dimensional shackles and beat him unconscious. With the war criminal now in hand, they could head back to Queen Ekino for their reward but headed downstairs to see if the wizard had anything of real value in his laboratory…

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S1E8: The Queen of Spiders
An Eagle in the Hen House

In the grand temple of Io, Shimmer arrived to relax and step away from the riggers of being amongst the homids. However, the black dragon of the south, Crowder, intercepted Shimmer before he could relax too far and informed him that the High Priestess, Neldrayn, wished to speak with him. Down into the depths of the temple Shimmer approached the large doors of the High Priestess' domain. She told him of a terrorist group from the far west, the Dreamwalkers. Every city they operated in, every kingdom they opposed, fell. Her task to Shimmer was simple, find the leader, Ahkaris, and cut the head off the rodent; ridding the city of this plague. Shimmer agreed and, on his way out, deposited a wealth of coin for his servants to count much to their enjoyment.

Lyra took a small bit of time to meet with Grand Inquisitor Valdes, inquiring about the position he offered. Valdes was more than happy to accept her into the training sessions to see if she could really hold up as an Inquisitor and if so, perform the ritual and begin her training as a mage killer.

As our heroes enjoyed a relaxed breakfast, Hope presented the group with the translation of the note they found on one of the thieves attempting to steal Muse's body. It turned out to be a dark contract made between one of the thieves and Ahkaris. As they discussed their future plans, the door of the tavern opened and a large man, dressed in plate armor adorned with spiders walked up to the bar and issued a contract for mercenaries. Our heroes were quick to jump on the offer and headed to the Palace District where this man could be found. 

Once they arrived, they discovered the man was Ser Railyn of Bladeweb. Soon after, they met Commander Celeste of the drow armies who led them to their ruler, Ekino, Queen of Spiders. Ekino laid out the job plainly. They were in Union seeking a war criminal, responsible for hundreds of deaths during Kragh's War. He was an Aaracockraa named Sidell, a master of portals and gateways. In addition to what they would find in the wizard's hideout, Ekino was willing to part with a few items or gold after it was all said and done. On their way out, Shimmer asked the Paladin Railyn if he had anything that would help in their endeavor. Railyn quietly handed him a pair of Dimensional Shackles; magical cuffs that prevent anyone wearing them from dimensional travel. 

Their first order of business was to head to Granny Sam's as Aaracockraa were rare in Union and Sidell would likely need a way to blend into the populace. En route to the witch's hut as it were, they were ambushed by the Blue Hammers as well as Chimera erupting from a gate-trap. After defeating the gang and the beast, our heroes searched the bodies and Tristin came across a strange note. It was a bounty for Hope to be taken alive. 60 gold was given to the gang upfront with more after delivery. There was no signature, only a crude drawing of a smiling face in black ink.

Granny Sam was a hard egg to crack and her shell held firm. She used the same amenity with all her clients and despite the gifts of the Chimera body, she did not divulge the location, glamour, or name of Sidell's new identity. However, she did give them a general description of what he looked like now in a round about way. Now that they had a description of the elf Sidell looked like, they only needed to look over the hundreds of thousands of elves living in Union to find him. Embarking from the witch's home, they started their way through the streets once more, this time towards the Flower Bed where Athelstan had an over due meeting to get to.

With Shimmer staying far back, keeping an eye on things from above, Athelstan led the group to the Headquarters of the Dagnir, the Monster Hunters of Union. The walls surrounding the place were tall and thick and surprisingly in need of repair. The doors were unguarded and our heroes headed inside. The large courtyard was equally deserted so Athelstan headed into the main hall to find a small fire in the fireplace and a drunk Joseph Korr staring into the flames. Through a very obnoxious and drunken conversation, our heroes learned that the Dagnir had all but left Union, leaving behind Korr as the sole Monster Hunter in the entire city. It made sense that the presence of the Dagnir had lessened as more reports were hitting the streets about creatures lurking in the shadows of the city. Korr, too drunk to make decisions, told Athelstan to come back tomorrow and he would see if it was even worth his time to begin to rebuild the corps. Seeing that the day was still young and there was much to be done, our heroes headed towards the only place a wizard would most likely be known of: the Inquisition Headquarters…

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S1E7: Freedom
... for some.

The sun was warm in the late morning as the Inquisitors brought Lyra to the roof of the Inquisition Headquarters in the Apiary. It was then that she realized that the Inquisition had the tallest building in the district, by far. They escorted her to a greenhouse where Grand Inquisitor Valdes was tending to his greens. He applauded her on her love of knowledge and learning and offered her a chance to join the Inquisition should her friends prove her innocence before her scheduled execution. She gave no answer but the Grand Inquisitor told her that she could think on the offer if she wished.

Meanwhile, in the southeast part of the Apiary, a well-known gang hangout and tavern called the Nest was literally burning down. The locals did what they could to try and contain the fire while Athelstan dragged out the dead body of the Sparrow's supposed leader. Theristis saw to it to save the bartender while Hope searched the upstairs. While Beetlejuice lost sight of Gwen, Hope managed to find letters to Gwen from the Sparrows allowing her to use their territory for duels, for a price. She also found a handwritten page detailing the departures of ships set for the Free Marches; the next one to leave was in the morning.

After a failed attempt to interrogate the bartender of the Nest, our heroes headed to the Hexblade to see if Gwen had run there for safety before checking the docks. Talking to Cicada, the owner of the Hexblade, and her partner Dagon, an awakened white cat, they found that Gwen had not been seen in the establishment for a while. In the process of the 'conversation', Cicada took a liking to Athelstan and Shimmer and let them know that if Gwen was to arrive she would inform her that people were after her and the Hexblade was no longer a safe haven for the guildless mage. 

Tristin then led the group down to the docks to meet with Lemy to inquire any additional information about the murderer. Dealing a hand of Union Hold 'Em, Lemy won the pot of Zeruda's pink leather armor and a pair of wrist blades, and 1 silver. He then informed the heroes that Gwen had been seen at the docks and that she was interested in boarding the ship the Queen's Blade. The ship was originally scheduled to leave in the morning, but Lemy had it on good authority that she had paid extra to leave within the hour. Our heroes quickly leapt from the tavern but encountered three large sailors, the Salty Trio, who openly threatened the heroes to walk away from Gwen's business or face the consequences. Theristis tossed them 6 gold and told them to have a good time with drink and women if they simply walked away. The Salty Trio tipped their hats and told the heroes that if they ever needed anyone's legs broken to let them know.

Our heroes hurried to the Queen's Blade just in time to see what looked like Lyra boarding the ship. The first mate stopped them before the gangplank demanding to know what they were doing there. While Athelstan, Hope, and a frustrated Shimmer occupied the first mate, Tristin easily snuck on board and headed for the hold while Theristis managed to rope himself into helping load the rest of the ship. Down in the hold, Tristin spotted Gwen entering a private room and snuck over to the door. He knocked and attempted to imitate one of the Salty Trio. It worked until Gwen opened the door. Tristin tripped on the way in and was immediately caught in a Hold Person spell. 

Theristis hurried down to the hold after he finished helping load the ship and headed to the same door. Listening close he could hear Gwen taunting the stuck Tristin and knocked on the door. After a bit of a taunt from Theristis, he opened the door and managed to dodge the small bead of fire that exploded in the middle of the hold just as Shimmer, Hope, and Athelstan was coming down the stairs. A long battle, against both spellcaster and fire, erupted in the ship resulting in a wounded Hope and Theristis developing a love/hate relationship with fire in general. In the knick of time, however, our heroes snatched Gwen and saved themselves as the Queen's Blade began to burn. 

Spending several pieces of gold to move quickly, Shimmer and Tristin took Gwen back to the Inquisition HQ. They were slowed, however, by the bureaucracy of the Inquisition but managed to secure a meeting with Grand Inquisitor Valdes. At the demand of Shimmer, Gwen confessed to the murders and illegal dueling. Valdes seemed satisfied and freed Lyra from the executioner's chair. Our heroes left the Inquisition Headquarters and back into the Apiary for some well deserved rest…

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S1E6: The Sparrow's Nest
The first steps are taken...

Hope, bleeding and leaning against a building somewhere in the Apiary attempted to get help for her wounds having been stabbed by an unknown assailant. An old man took pity on her (as well as took her coin) to direct her to a nearby  apothecary. When Hope realized that she wouldn't be able to walk there, she paid extra to have the old man carry her. Instead, he hired a now local thug, Boh Cloud (formerly of the Cabal Brothers Carnival). Boh took Hope to the apothecary and managed to get herself at least marginally healed before starting back towards the murder location of Mary Redthorne. 

A door burst open in the tenant building where Phillip Willows was found and the assassin charged through, hoping to lose his pursuers. Athelstan and Tristin were close behind, however, firing arrows and bolts, attempting to slow him down. As Athelstan rushed after the rogue attempting to flee down a flight of stairs, Tristin took it upon himself to beat them all to the bottom and leapt over the railing to get ahead. The jump was misjudged, thought, and Tristin found himself colliding with another railing before landing a few flights down from where the chase was taking place. The assassin leapt over the stunned body of Tristin, hoping to get an upper hand against Athelstan but took a bolt in the shoulder for his trouble. The two then rushed after each other down a hall and Tristin called out for aid from the locals. Thankfully, three pit-fighters emerged from a nearby door and hurried to join in the fight. Tristin managed to inform the pit-fighters who was who but the assassin plunged his wrist-blade through the neck of one of them, killing them instantly. The other two fighters, blinded by rage, beat the assassin to death without hesitation and warned Athelstan and Tristin to never come back to their building again. They quickly agreed. Upon searching the assassin, the discovered he belonged to a local gang known as the Sparrows; a wannabe band of rogues hoping to cash in on the success of groups such as the Guruthos. Taking this information, and the wrist-blades, they started to leave when they heard a loud explosion from a higher level and as they glanced out the window, they saw Zeruda and an assassin attempting to leap from one building across the street to another.

As Athelstan and Tristin were chasing down their assailant, Zeruda and Theristis were dragging theirs into an empty apartment for interrogation. After they tied him up rather efficiently, they quickly searched him (discovering a large "M" scarred into his face), woke him, and asked their questions. While getting stabbed and threatened with water-based torture techniques didn't necessarily work, the assassin finally made his move. Showing that he was free from his bonds, he cast a lightning spell that richocetted off the far wall and blew a hole in the side of the tenant building. Using the sudden distraction, he leapt to his feet and jumped out the window, attempting to make it to the other building across the street. Despite being heavily wounded, Zeruda followed suit. Theristis, using his trained eye and steady breathing, aimed an arrow and let it fly, striking the assassin square in the back, killing him instantly. As the assassin slammed into a food cart on the street, Zeruda found that she had made a bad decision. The collision with the building and subsequent fall to the ground was enough to end her life.

Shimmer had returned from the Inquisition headquarters just in time to see this happen. The group quickly reunited, save for Hope, and quickly searched the assassin, finding the same sparrow tattoo on him signifying he belonged to the Sparrows as well. Shimmer collected the gang member's body and headed towards Hope to investigate Mary Redthorne's death while Theristis and Athelstan headed to grab a bite to eat and rest. Tristin headed to the Apiary Docks to meet with an old contact of his, Lemy. Lemy was found at the One-eyed Skeever, a dingy bar with terrible lighting and a bad odor. The scarred half-faced dwarf was seated in the back, collecting his winnings from a few unfortunate gamblers. Lemy was happy to see his old friend and, after a bet was made and lost on Tristin's part, Lemy told Tristin what he knew of the Sparrows; assassins for hire, backdoor deals, and a headquarters in the southeast part of the Apiary was all that Lemy could tell and warned the halfling to be careful if he rattles the nest as who knows what kind of eggs would fall out.

Investigating the murder location of Mary Redthorne bore hardly any fruit as Hope and Shimmer discovered Mary was not a local. Our heroes regrouped, shared information, and decided to take a trip to the Flower Bed to visit the Order of the Raven; the mage academy that Phillip Willows belonged to. It was here that, after visiting with Thomas, a friend of Phillip's, that they got their first good lead. It seems that an elf, Gwen Longleaf, antagonized Phillip with 'friendly pranks' until she started dealing in fire. Our heroes then headed to the best possible place where a castless mage would go to learn: the Hexblade Tavern.

Our heroes arrived back in the Apiary and found the Hexblade to be a bit run down. Attempting to intimidate the bartender yielded little until Shimmer agreed to take a shot from a bottle of Ironblood Fire Ale straight from the halls of Magnus in Uwhen across the Great Sea. While the taste and burning sensation didn't phase Shimmer, the potent alcohol content did. Upon waking the next morning, Shimmer discovered a note in his belt that read: Apiary, Southeast, The Nest. Taking this information, our heroes headed for the Nest tavern in the Apiary. 

Despite it being in a lively place, the Nest was relatively quiet with two assassins at the front and back doors. Without fear, our heroes strode in and Hope demanded to know where Gwen Longleaf was. The bartender attempted to escape but was put in his place by Shimmer. This, however, ignited a brawl amongst the assassins present and our heroes. As Athelstan impaled the last of the assassins demanding to know what he didn't attack him, the assassin quietly whispered back, "to buy her time." As the tavern started to burn, Hope rushed upstairs and Beetlejuice called attention to an open window and the sound of running footsteps quickly dwindling in the distance…

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S1E5: In Pursuit of a Killer
Or... how many times can they get stabbed?

After saving the victims of the Cabal Bros. Carnival, Theristis, Hope, Lyra, and Zeruda headed back to meet with Johannes and Horst while Athelstan and, recently freed ally, Tristin, took Muse's body and headed towards the Apiary Morgue. As our quartet of heroes approached the wagon of the Cabal brothers, they heard a scuffle inside. Glancing through the window, Lyra noticed Johannes and Horst fighting. Our heroes burst through the door and after Horst clocked Lyra across the face with a cane, she put him to the ground with a swift kick to the groin. The company talked with Johannes about what happened and discovered that the removal of the demon from Horst caused him to return to a more brutal time in his life when he was a feral vampire (now cured). Johannes gave the company gold in exchange for their help and informed them that the carnival would be shutting down as Johannes only kept it open to keep his brother alive and assured them that Fireclaw would be released into the wilds.

Athelstan and Tristin discovered, once at the morgue, that businesses tend to close late at night. Tristin immediately set to work unlocking the door and decided that the morgue really needed to invest in better locks. Taking Muse into the crematorium, Athelstan laid out Muse and prepared her for burning when they were suddenly attacked from behind. Three individuals, dressed poorly as guards, attempted to kill our heroes before managing to steal the body of Muse and escape, but not before Ahtelstan and Tristin killed two of them. Searching the bodies, our heroes discovered both were wearing a strange necklace, the same necklace that Muse has bought from Frank's Trinkets that very day. They also discovered a piece of parchment with strange writing. Later, they would discover that it was an older dialect of Abyssal that would take an experienced loremaster to decipher. 

Our heroes regrouped at the Wandering Gnome for a few drinks and a bite to eat. They were in the midst of discussing what had happened when a silver dragonborn, dressed in armor, sat down at their table. He introduced himself as Shimmer and informed Lyra that someone was on their way to confront her and probably kill her for the crimes she didn't commit. Shimmer claimed he knew she was innocent. The door suddenly burst open and standing in the firelight was an elf wizard who barked to the crowd, "Lyra Mae!" Taking their cue, the crowd calmly pushed themselves out of the way and the elf strode over to the table. Without hesitation, he dropped a piece of parchment on the table in front of the wizard. On it bore the mark of a levethix vargash, a wizard duel challenge. After some quick thinking, Lyra managed to persuade the elf, Aldryth, to stand down and back away. Seeing the day done, our heroes retired for the night.

Tristin, waking in the middle of the night and wishing to see what the fuss over Athelstan's skull was all about, snuck out of the room he was staying in and attempted to pick the hunter's door. Having failed miserably, he moved to his back up plan, stealing the spare key. He snuck downstairs and found the bartender hard at work cleaning up the place. Spotting the ring of keys on his belt, Tristin slowly approached, a bottle in hand to knock the halfling out. A wrong step, however, alerted Tasselhuff and the bartender spun on his heel, shattered the bottle and politely asked what the patron was doing. A few quick words later and the bartender was more than happy to give the spare key to the fighter as long as he didn't lose this one as well. Heading back upstairs, Tristin unlocked Athelstan's room and attempted to sneak inside. What he found, however, was the hunter alert and ready to fight. Tristin asked a single thing, "I'm in trouble and I need the skull; trust me." Athelstan relented and agreed as long as Ragnar would be returned to him by noon the following day. Tristin gleefully took the skull and spoke to it saying they would conquer the world. Surprise took the fighter when the skull talked back saying, "Restore me, and I will reward you greatly."

The following day found our heroes going to clear Lyra's name by, first, checking out the murder scene where Phillip Willows was killed. Before they could arrive, they were spotted by an Inquisitor and guards. While half of the group quickly ducked to safety, Lyra stood her ground and gave in to the Inquisitor while Shimmer accompanied them back to Five Points. The rest of our heroes continued to the South Apiary where they found the building where Phillip met his demise. Naturally, like a good group of heroes, they split up. Hope headed down to talk to the nearby guards about it all and discovered that there was another body found, killed in a similar fashion. She asked the guards to inform her friends about where she was going and bribed them with cookies.

Theristis and Zeruda started questioning the local tenants when Theristis noticed an individual poorly attempting to shadow him. Signaling Zeruda, the half-orc snuck up behind the man and quickly choked him out. The two rogues dragged him into an abandoned apartment where questioning would begin. Meanwhile, Hope was on her way towards the second murder site when she heard someone quickly approaching from behind. Turning to confront them and attempting to gust of wind them away, she felt the pain of two blades find themselves in her ribs. The assailant whispered, "You're done. Drop it and I won't have to visit you again." He quickly made his escape, leaving Hope bleeding in the middle of the road. Athelstan and Tristin looked over the murder scene and found nothing new of interest until they started looking around for a point of escape. While the fire escapes produced no fruit, they checked one of the other stairwells and heard the familiar sound of someone choking on their own blood. Rushing down to see what was happening, Athelstan was greeted with a blade to the midsection and an escaping thug. Our two heroes gave chase and the race was on.

Meanwhile, while the rest of our heroes were attempting to save their friend, Lyra was taken to a small interrogation room where Shimmer was allowed to wait with her as 'council'. They waited for over a half hour before an inquisitor entered and informed the accused that her case had attracted the attention of the 'higher ups.' What they were shocked to realize that the higher ups was a Grand Inquisitor. He sat calmly across the two and asked Lyra a series of very straight forward questions. Seemingly confident with her answers, he stood and informed her that he believed her innocent. However, with the populace seeking resolution, especially since maleficium was involved, someone had to pay for these murders. He turned to Shimmer and declared that Lyra would remain in Inquisition custody for two days before she was to be processed unless he could come up with substantial evidence that she was innocent. Shimmer agreed and left the inquisition headquarters back towards the Southern Apiary to find the real killer…

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S1E4: Carnival of Souls
The pirates don't eat the tourists...

The traveling show that is the Cabal Brothers Carnival is truly a sight to behold. With games and tests of abilities as well as horrors and shows, the carnival is always a welcome sight and a welcome distraction from the norm of day to day life. Then the heroes arrived…

Many of our heroes had been looking forward to the Carnival for a while, ever since the posters started going up around the Apiary. Tickets in hand, they waited in line, eager to dive into the festivities. Once inside the gates, our heroes split up to enjoy themselves. Athelstan and Zeruda found it annoyingly difficult to best the archery contest. However, some quick thinking and expert footwork earned Zeruda a trip to the 'Trinkets Tent' when she picked out a dark pink "cloak of smashing". 

Hope, Muse, and Lyra made their way to the Hall of Terror. After paying their entry fee, our three heroes headed inside. The first room, a graveyard, caused a fright to Hope but Muse and Lyra seemed to enjoy it more than anything. They pressed into the next room to find a devious torture chamber and an actor seemingly disemboweled. Enjoying the sights (and Lyra pointing out all the mistakes), they continued into the Crypt room where a ghostly woman seemed to appear before them. However, our heroes were not phased and decided to leave. The woman reappeared before them and let out a bone chilling shriek that caused Muse and Hope to grab their heads in pain while driving Lyra to the brink of death. 

Athelstan, Theristis, and Zeruda began to leave the physical competition when they heard the loud clap of thunder. Noticing that it was a clear night, they deduced that it could only mean their friends were in trouble in the Hall of Terror. Instead of rushing to their friends' aid, they took their time, noticing three Inquisitors taking stock of the situation. 

Inside the Hall of Terror, Muse discovered that it was a banshee that had latched itself on to the exhibit in order to feed off the fear of the patrons. She quickly healed Lyra and started to make her way back towards the entrance. It was then that an unexpected guest arrived on the scene; an elf, brandishing warlock magic and a longsword rushed in to help slay the banshee. After Athelstan and Theristis made it into the tents to help, they finally put the undead woman to permanent rest. 

After the battle, the elf (known as Feryn) instructed Athelstan to follow her lead as one of the Inquisitors entered, demanding to know what was going on. Feryn told the inquisitor who she was and that it was Dagnir business. After the inquisitor left, Feryn gave Athelstan a badge of the Dagnir and told him to find Joseph Korr in the Flower Bed; he would test the hunter to see if he was worthy to join them. 

After the incident, the carnival continued and our heroes headed into the caged tent to see Fireclaw, Last of Kragh's Brood. To their surprise, they actually discovered that Fireclaw was an actual dragon. The young creature paced back and forth, questioning those who understood it and ultimately grew tired and went back to her napping. As our heroes headed towards the Big Tent for the evening's grand finale, Zeruda stayed behind and attempted to figure out how to free the dragon. Fireclaw informed her that should she find a way to free her, the dragon would ensure that those who locked her up would pay for what they did… painfully.

The ending show was a parade of creatures and acts from across the world. But the grand finale was something to behold. Horst Cabal, one of the brothers of the Cabal Brothers, invited ten audience members to take part in a show of true magic. He brought them to the center ring, which included Hope as Theristis did not wish to participate, and in the blink of an eye made them disappear. The show was pronounced over and the audience was ushered out. 

Hope suddenly found herself in a dark tent, locked in a small cage with the other 9 individuals. She attempted to start a fire in order to draw attention, but was quickly struck down by a shadow demon, wishing to savor its next meal. The rest of our heroes pushed past the ushers to confront Johannes, the younger of the two brothers, to find out what happened to Hope. Johannes led the group back to his traveling wagon and explained that his brother had made a bad deal many years ago and that their friend was currently in the warehouse tent about to be consumed by a demon.

The heroes rushed out of the wagon and headed for the warehouse tent; they were now joined by Zeruda. Bursting in, they found the cage with the audience members and also the dying Hope. Using magic, Muse brought her back from the brink of death but was suddenly struck down by the shadow demon. Using their magic and wits, our heroes cornered the fiend and killed it but not before it dealt the final blow to Muse, taking her life. Grieving for the loss of a friend, our heroes freed the audience members and set out to have a word with the Brothers Cabal…

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S1E3: Alligators in the Sewers?
Monsters & Locals

Finding themselves in a precarious position, our heroes managed to spring the trap of half a dozen grotesque creatures straight out of your worst nightmares. The battle was fierce and in the end, our heroes managed to kill all but one who scurried off down the labyrinth of sewer tunnels underneath the Apiary. Using his expert tracking abilities, Athelstan (and Ragnar) lead the company down through the tunnels, turning this way and that before taking a misstep and sinking deep into the sludge. 

After what seemed to be far too long to figure out how to cross the small collapse in the sewers, our heroes continued forward. Athelstan's keen sense seemed to fail him as Lyra took over as tracker and managed to lead everyone further into the sewers until coming upon what appeared to be a large mass of plant-like material with roots draping over the edge of a raise platform into the sludge around it. Our heroes cautiously checked the area before they were suddenly ambushed by three more of the insect-beasts. They were victorious after nearly losing several of their companions.

Taking a small break, our heroes inspected the plant further and deduced that it was more like a nest than an actual plant. Deciding against the destructive force of fire in an area filled with flammable gases, the company destroyed the nest and the larva inside. Taking a few samples, Lyra led the company back out of the sewers and to Thomas the Guard who promptly paid them their reward. 

They took a week to recuperate and spend a bit of the coin they had managed to acquire. Zeruda spent her time taking down as many Wanted Posters for Lyra as she could. Hope took up a job in a local tavern and excelled at baked goods. Athelstan headed back to the Apiary Morgue and went back to work. Theristis attempted to take some coin from a merchant but the task did not go as expected. He soon received an unsigned letter claiming:

"Thief – I know what you did. I know what you are. If you pay me 1,000 gp at a location of my choosing, I will keep this information to myself. If not, expect the next Wanted Poster to be yours."

Lyra May, properly disguised thanks to Muse, took her samples to the Von Goethe Gardens to speak with a local druid. The one she was directed to was Zebramane, a young elf with black and white hair. The druid inspected the pieces before determining that they were in fact from a fiend (the natural enemy of nature) but that he has little more information to give. He suggested that she try the Library Eternal or one of the Loremasters who resides there. 

Muse, almost immediately after leaving the sewer job, was approached by her old friend, Gerath, with an unusual proposal. He claimed that his sources say the lair of Kragh the Conqueror lay unchecked and unspoiled. Now there were rumors about some dark force taking up residence there, but they were just rumors after all. He has planned the entire trip and even contacts along the way. The only hitch was that he was still in need of 2,000 gp before the trip could get off the ground. Muse quickly agreed and the two of them went off to get drunk.

After regrouping in the Merry Juggler, the company discovered that the Cabal Brothers Carnival had finally come to the Apiary. Their grand opening was in fact today! Deciding to go later in the evening, the company headed to Kevlamin's Shop of Wonders and Frank's Terrific Trinkets for shopping. However, they became aware that Kevlamin's things were too high a price for their pockets and made Athelstan wonder how he even stayed in business. Frank's, however, was a different trip as they bought several small trinkets and headed off to the Cabal Brother's Carnival…

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S1E2: A Rescue and a Bargain
Zeruda goes to Jail...

Enjoying some time off in the Wandering Gnome, Theristis opened the letter that was mysteriously sent to him via Milo's Messengers:

"Dear sir, it has come to my attention that a compatriot of yours, Zeruda, has managed to get herself arrested for attempting to rob a noble while he slept. If you wish to discuss this matter further, you may find me at the Lovely Duckling, Apiary. Love, Tim xoxo"

After a brief discussion with his allies, Theristis led the company off towards the Lovely Duckling; all except Athelstan. Athelstan decided his time was better spent wandering the local merchants and enjoying the sights. While wading through the sea of people, he was approached by the local guards who inquired if he was one of the individuals who helped apprehend Lord Whitestone a month prior. Athelstan confirmed he was and the guards proceeded to inquire the whereabouts of Lyra May as she was wanted for questioning. Athelstan informed the guards he did not know and they went on their way. 

Theristis and the others arrived at the Lovely Duckling and encountered a halfling striding around on silts, attempting to be a good host. When the company said they were there on behalf of Zeruda, they were directed to Mama Duck behind the bar. After a brief conversation with her, they made their way upstairs to the "honeymoon suite" and finally met with Tim. Tim, an eccentric in his own right, was very forth coming with his information about who, where, and why Zeruda was currently serving a 10 week prison sentence and a 200+ gold fine. After consideration, our heroes opted to address the noble in question: Nar'var Uth'Dien, found in the Artist's Quarters. 

They met back up with Athelstan who informed his companions about the arrest warrant on Lyra's head. Not bothering to disguise her just yet, they headed to the Apiary-Artists Gate and discovered half a dozen guards keeping close watch on the individuals headed to and from the Apiary. Using a distraction from Muse, Theristis got a look at the parchments the guards were using and discovered an almost perfect drawing of Lyra May. A botched disguise attempt and a few sleep spells later, Athelstan found himself attempting to rescue a surrendering Hope while the rest looked on. As luck (or faith) would have it, a paladin of Heironious interrupted the encounter and set the guards straight, ordering the company to be on their way.

They entered the majesty of the Artist's Quarter and determined that the best way to get on the good side of the noble was to buy some local wine. It was here they met Hamlet, a dwarf operating one of the few wineries in the Artist Quarter. After a wonderful performance by Muse and some negotiation, they acquired a bottle of elvish wine from the west and headed to a local bakery; because what is wine without dessert to enjoy as well? They met with Robert of Bob's Bakery (bring in your buns and we'll butter 'em) and proceeded to Nar'var's home with an apple pie in hand. 

The company arrived at the Manor Uth'Dien and were met by the manservant, Nevin. They were brought into house and instructed to wait until the master of the house was available. It did not take long before the behemoth of an elf (or man, for that matter) arrived and inquired as to why they were there. After some discussion, persuasion, and a bit of bribery, Nar'var agreed to drop the charges against Zeruda and he kept the pie, wine, and the company would be at his call when he needed the favor repaid. 

En route back to the Apiary, the company came across the same problem as before: guards hunting for Lyra May. This time, however, their saving grace came in the form of a local gang, the Blue Hammers, looking to injure Hope beyond recognition. Thankfully, some quick talking from our heroes gathered the guards to stop the potential onslaught and forced them to disperse. Once back in the Apiary, our heroes met back up with Zeruda, freshly released from jail, and headed to a new tavern, the Merry Juggler. 

They met the proprietor of the establishment, a half-elf named Lul, and heard reference to his partner, Gore. Looking for more lucrative work, our heroes inquired about any leads and Lul came back with monsters in the sewers near the Western edge of the Apiary. They went and met with a local guard, Thomas Wilson who directed them into the sewers where noises were being heard. Once down in the filth, they quickly discovered that their foes had laid a trap for them and it had just been sprung…

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