Regrouping after their epic fight with the skeletons Morthos summoned, the PCs discovered a priestly alcove behind the main chamber. Within it lay a dazed dwarf, a letter, a little loot and a magic katana, tinged purple, named Winter’s Heart in elven. The letter on the table read as follows:
Lord Morthos of the Black Hand,
Milord, I’ve recently returned to Sundabar from Silverymoon, though our recruitment in Lhuvenhead was disrupted by a group of amateurs. I slaughtered one of their members in retribution, but I fear to report that the curs have followed us to Sundabar and have been spotted snooping about. I doubt they’ll hinder our plans on the 19th, but I’ll deal with them personally.
This last batch of smiths was difficult to procure and the furious aid of our lord Bane was very welcome. The Jackals look forward to further business opportunities. Should it please milord, payment can be delivered as per last batch.
I shall lead our operation myself — with the number of thralls set loose, we won’t see much opposition from these holier-than-thou fools. May Bane favor our enterprises.
Tysus, the Jackal
The dwarf, when he came around, said his name was Lars Oakenshield, and that he was an apprentice in the forges of the Everfire. He could remember being in some sort of ritual, but that the ritual was interrupted somehow.
The PCs questioned him with little success, and after returning to the city via a secret door, they attempted to rouse him with some dwarven “first aid”, but he fell asleep. At this point Garvenmov passed by in the street and the party was reunited. Baelian mangled his introduction to the dark paladin by inquiring about the dried head attached to Garvenmov’s belt. Despite the rest of the party’s attempts to steer the conversation away from this taboo topic with flailing arms in the background, Baelian tried to calm Garvenmov with a long discourse on other cultures that attach heads to their belts for luck, but there was no appeasing him. Baelian shrugged and went back to his tomb on the mating habits of lizardfolk.
Unsure what to do with the dwarf, the group hailed a cart and packed him, along with the ten sets of leather armor that Never was dragging around, off to the barracks to report to Commander Larquinn. Baelian headed home at this point, but said they’d meet up again. He knew where they were staying, mentioning mysteriously that he knew a lot of what was going on in Sundabar.
Larquinn was disturbed and impressed by their tale and paid them handsomely for both solving the riddle of the haunted mansion and discovering the source of the forged coins. He also took care to send Lars home and to consult the forgemasters about the smiths that the group set free. The next morning (Mirtuk 18) the innkeeper told them a little more about the coming festival. The festival on the 19th, called the Martyrdom, celebrates the day that the gods Torm and Bane killed each other. The 21st, called the Rebirth, celebrates when Torm rose from the dead. They learned that there was to be a special fair today in preparation for the festival.
That day Never hawked his leather armors, Eradon transcribed an Endure Elements scroll, and Claw and Garvenmov visited a temple to their god, Kelemvor. The head cleric, Selenia, suggested that Garvenmov must find out how his father came in possession of Winsonian in order to be rid of his voice in his head. Claw bought some holy water and G spent the day in prayer.
Meeting up in the afternoon the group explored the market, picking up some gnomish alchemical items, a new scroll, and sampling rare delicacies imported by teleporting mages called “bananas”. From the gnomes they learned that fire-resistant potions were hard to come by recently, as they trees that were their primary ingredient had all been cut down. Garvenmov also made the mistake of trying a couple shots of dwarven gutrot, “not recommended for human consumption”. They also paid a visit to Graut’s Fittings where the gruff dwarf, peeved that they scared off the rest of the customers with talk of the Jackals, demanded that they buy something before he’d cough up and info. He eventually related that slavery had always been a problem in the city, but the number of abducted people discovered at the gates had dropped recently. His hypothesis was that abductees were being held in the city somewhere. He also suspected that the Jackals were hiding out underground somewhere.
The PCs met up with Baelian, who was discussing with the scroll seller a tome written about a man who, due to a magical accident, was shrunk, but used his misfortune to the benefit of knowledge by exploring a horse’s intestinal tract in person. He suggested that he treat them to some fine Eladrin dining as thanks for entertaining him that day.
On the way home after the meal the group was set upon by the Jackals, who leapt down from the rooftops to surround them. Tysus, the Jackal himself, introduced himself and then leapt to attack the group while commoners fled to their homes. The battle was fierce, as three of the Jackals dealt savage blows in succession (three crits in a row for the DM), putting the PCs on the ropes, and making even the valiant Garvenmov consider retreat. With a little healing help from Baelian and Never, they battled back, taking out some of the weaker Jackals. Tysus himself was a terrible foe and Claw soon realized that his wounds were regenerating nearly as fast as he received them. When Claw became bloodied and shifted, revealing his razorclaw form, Tysus howled with laughter, shouting, “the irony!” which led the PCs to suspect they were dealing with some sort of lycanthrope. Indeed, as some of the Jackals felt, they revealed their true natures as humanoid dog/wolves. Meanwhile, Garvenmov, having not gotten the memo, suddenly discovers that the boss of the gang they are fighting is the Jackal. With a scream of “Shamash!” he charged Tysus, only to be cut down by a minion from behind.
The guard came running and interrupted the fight, at which point Tysus and his remaining gang created a portal into the sewers and retreated, swearing they’d meet again. With a guard escort the PCs headed back to their inn to sleep off their wounds. They didn’t sleep long. Lars, the dwarf from Morthos’ chambers, woke them before dawn (Mirtuk 19), worried that he was about to fall under the effect of some sort of spell. Indeed, even as he spoke he became distant and started to walk away. A nearly naked Never grabbed him and rolled in a carpet, but Eradon warned him that if Lars was indeed compelled, impeding his progress could kill him. Sure enough, the dwarf began to froth at the mouth as he thrashed to get free.
Changing tactics, the group tied a rope around him and followed him through the city. Lars led them to a secret elevator entrance in an alleyway which led down to the forges of the Everfire. As they entered a large chamber Lars joined a group of other dwarves standing over an incantation circle and began reading from a scroll with them, as three lines of energy pulse away from them. The PCs didn’t have much time to examine the room, which seemed to be a forge, when they were set upon by a group of Banites. Garvenmov, using his Astral Speech, stopped them in their tracks, and persuaded them that they were also followers of Bane. Never chimed in, and convinced them that they were mercenaries sent by “Tyson”, which so fully bamboozled the Banites they were convinced that they had learned Tysus’ name incorrectly. They ordered the PCs to go on to the next room because it was thinly defended.
The next room was dominated by three large gears, which rolled back and forth pressing pieces of armor. Behind them three dwarves stood over a incantation circle as in the last room. As they leapt past the gears, members of the Jackals, who had been warned against the group, pounced, trying to shove them into the mechanism. As the melee ensued, Eradon used his mage hand to wrest the scroll out of the magic circle and break the compulsion over the dwarves. Near the end of the fight Claw got to demonstrate the power of his new blade: rolling a critical hit, he cut a savage rent in the remaining crossbowman, his blade howling with bloodthirsty glee.
The PCs ended this session learning that the scroll was written in primordial, and appeared to be some sort of summoning magic.