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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Murder At The Vulgar Unicorn - ACT II

If you are just picking this up, read the previous posts first!
Prelude : Characters : Act I


ACT II – Into the Swamp of Night Secrets

6th of Morothus – Ilsday
The Group prepares for a journey into the Swamp of Night Secrets under the tutelage of their native Group member, Malkar. Malkar has lived in the swamp since birth, and knows what is needed for their venture. By the information the Group has, Karizal should be found in an old Tower a few days from Sanctuary.
Jack has found who has been stealing from him in Downwind; the thieving has been orchestrated by the Beggar King of Downwind. It seems the Beggar King has decided to recruit Jack into his organization as muscle, and the first step is to adjust Jack’s living arrangement in Downwind. Jack is brought in front of the Beggar King, and he is given an choice to stay in downwind or to leave. The beggar king thinks having someone with as much apparent wealth as Jack does not belong in Downwind. If Jack wants to stay, he needs to help the beggars stand up to Jubal, starting with Gastov and his crew who are constantly harassing the beggars working for the Beggar King. If Jack can keep Gastov from getting into the Downwinder’s business, he can stay. Otherwise, Jack is no longer welcome in Downwind. Jack refuses the offer; he doesn’t want to take sides in the war between Jubal and the Beggar King. Plus, he doesn’t want to hurt anyone without cause; Jack graciously leaves Downwind. He gets an offer from Gagino to bed down in the tent in the Bazaar, which he accepts.
The Group gathers in the Bazaar at Gagino’s tent, and heads into the Swamp of Night Secrets. Entering the Swamp is like entering another world for those used to the stink and bustle of Sanctuary. It is not quiet, but the sounds are different; it’s not pleasant smelling, but it’s not rank and stale like the city. The Group travels unhindered for the first day.
On the second day, the Group is ambushed by a panther, which is greatly outmatched by the strength of the Group. Malkar inspects the panther and discerns that it is well kept and almost groomed; is it someone’s pet? Perhaps the Group has underestimated Karizal, if this is his pet. How many other surprises does he have in store for them?
The Group travels for another day, and find the old tower, which looks abandoned. Malkar looks around and finds panther tracks, and human footprints as well; the place isn’t as abandoned as it looks. Heading into the tower, the Group is prepared for anything, but it is dark inside, very dark. The Group searches the tower, room by room, slowly, carefully. On the second floor, Jack gets a bolt in his side from out of the darkness. It hurts a lot more than it should, and he feels extremely weakened. Obviously, Karizal is in here, and has set up an ambush. The hunt is on. The Group hones in on Karizal’s location in the tower, and finally finds him. Unfortunately, they end up killing him and so the Group doesn’t get to question him. The Group searches the tower, and finds two notes, but one of them isn’t in a language that any of them can read. The other is about a ship that was supposed to deliver a shipment of pigs, pigs that are infected with something. The note also mentions that Pathais Meed is at a place called the Brown Bear Inn.
Jack is nearly unconscious – the crossbow bolt he was shot with was poisoned. The Group must get him to a healer, so they head back to town. Karizal is dead, and they have more information than they did before they met Karizal, so the journey was a success.
Several days of healing and rest is required for Jack to get back on his feet, although the healing area at the temple of Sabellia definitely met with Jack’s approval; being waited on by priestesses. Even if they are chaste, Jack finds the positive in all situations containing women. They get the note found on Karizal translated – it is the original contract on Erilissi. This proof gets taken to the Truthsayer, and the Group gets paid for expenses, which convinces them to continue their work. The next step is to investigate the shipwreck mentioned in Karizal’s note.

9th of Morothus – Eshisday - Weeping Maiden
The Party marches back into the Swamp, and makes their way to where Karizal’s note mentions a wrecked ship. The twisted and shattered remains of a ship are piled on a collection of jagged rocks just barely visible beneath the waves. At high tide the rocks would be invisible, but still able to rip the bottom out of any ship passing overhead. No part of the ship is still intact, with its broken hull and torn beams scattered across the beach. Crabs and other seaborne scavengers pick through the wreckage, and waterlogged refuse covers the sands. The bodies of pigs are scattered everywhere, their carcasses bloated and rotting as well as torn apart. The smell of rot and salt are powerful, overwhelming the fresh scent of the ocean. Seagulls circle overhead, but none land near the destroyed vessel.
Within the largest section of the remaining hull, the sound of water lapping on wood is mixed with scraping noises. Wood and metal thump and thud with the lapping waves.
As the Group investigates the shipwreck, they are taken by surprise by the new residents of the ship – a local delicacy called the Bengal Crab. Unfortunately, these are still alive, and one is quite large, larger than a man! Surprised by the size, tenacity and the toughness of the crabs, the Group is overcome, and retreats for a new plan of attack.
The next day, the Party is more prepared for the giant crabs and head in to the area. With a smart plan and some luck, the crabs fall and become a well-deserved lunch. Searching the ship, the Group finds the manifest and some other documents, as well as a small chest with some silver in it. One of the documents is a note written by Paithas Meed, and talks of an “Agent to the North”, boars and a plan that is at risk. This note makes little sense, but it is the second item of interest that suggests the next area to investigate is to the north; a place called the Brown Bear. There are a few loose ends in town to take care of first, however.