Silent Fists

Revelation

Jax quickly reconvenes with the party. All four members agree on a frontal assault on the keymaker’s shop. Belben knocks down the door and the other three swarm into the shop front. Keygen Ghelves himself is still awake and is fretting about behind the counter. He looks at the armed party and immediately comprehends their purpose.

Ghelves shop ground01

“It’s upstairs. Hurry, don’t let it escape!”

Jax and Iolon, being the most mobile of the team, dart up the stairs, with Gwydhyr taking up the rear and Belben staying behind to watch the keysmith. A cloaked figure tries to ambush Jax from behind a dividing curtain. In the ensuing battle, the intruder gets forcibly ejected from the building via the bay window.

Ghelves battle1

Gwydhyr moves quickly to stabilize they dying creature, which is revealed to be a grey skinned being like the one killed by Jax previously. Not really sure what to do with their captive, the Fists decide to transport it to Iolon’s family wine cellar. Gwydhyr and Jax stay behind to question the keysmith.

  • What was learned from Keygen Ghelves
    • Ghelves lives in his shop, along with his young niece. His home was one of the first buildings targeted.
    • The kidnappers took his niece away, but decided to keep him under house arrest. Ever since that night, there has been an intruder lurking in the back room of his shop, watching and listening to his every move.
    • The intruders have been coercing him to make keys to match his own locks, using his niece as a bargaining chip.
    • His own personal guard gets changed out every 24 hours, a process that the Fists just witnessed themselves.
    • The intruders seem to be composed of two different races, which Ghelves simply calls “The Tall Ones” and “The Short Ones.” The grey skinned humanoids encountered tonight are “The Tall Ones.”
    • Now that he’s been exposed, the intruders have no reason to continue to honor their side of the bargain, if indeed they ever had been honoring it to begin with. Ghelves is emphatic that the Fists take immediate and complete action. “You must get ALL of them!”

Communicating with the Tall One proves to be difficult, since it doesn’t share a common language. Jax and Iolon recognize the creature’s speech as Undercommon, but no one in the party speaks that dialect. Jax knows a half-orc prostitute (co-incidentally, of course) that knows a smattering of Undercommon. This is probably not the first time she was paid to do work in a noble’s basement in the presence of five men of various races, and this was certainly a welcome change of pace from her usual line of work. The language barrier is severe, and the quality of information suffers because of it.

  • Questioning the Tall One
    • Where do the missing people go?
      • Sell to half-a-dwarf, down below
    • Who is that?
      • He is half-a-dwarf
    • How many of you are there?
      • Two or three dozen
    • Is Ghelves’ niece still alive?
      • What half-a-dwarf does with the livestock is his business. I like to keep it that way.
    • How do you get to the surface?
      • Through tunnel, into sewer, onto street
    • Take us there
      • Yes, but let me go once I show you the way

With some prodding, the strange being shows the party a sewer grate in the ghetto district. Going underground and following the sewer tunnel, the party discovers a section of wall that has been demolished, revealing a passage down into the dark. Lighting up Belben’s helmet with a light spell, the party forces their captive down the tunnel, following it closely behind.

Sewer grate

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Complications

Jax goes to his job at the Slippery Eel only to have the barkeeper hand him a week’s pay and tell him that he isn’t needed anymore. When Jax tires to argue, he feels a sharp point pressed up against his back and a smoky smooth female voice urges him to the door. Once outside, Jax tries to turn suddenly on his captor, only to discover that 1) she has anticipated this move and has moved out of reach and 2) her weapon isn’t a knife, but a hand crossbow. She urges him toward a dark alley. By the time Jax reaches the alley, he realizes that she has left the scene. Jax could not make out any distinguishing features due to the woman’s carefully arranged hood.

The party attempts a stakeout of the Slippery Eel, but this goes badly. After a few warning shots are fired from the rooftops, Jax tries to climb up onto the buildings to get at the sniper, only to find the same feminine figure from before. He gives chase, but after a running, leaping pursuit spanning several buildings and many dangerous jumps, is unable to gain ground and is now separated from the party. Things get worse when his quarry manipulates something on her belt and disappears into thin air.

The party says ‘Fuck this’ and calls it a night.

The next day, the party exchanges notes and realizes the significance of Iolon’s research. They decide not to visit Ghelves’ shop during the day, which might tip their hand, but instead watch it covertly at night. In the wee hours of the morning, a cloaked figure walks up to the shop’s door and knocks. The figure is greeted by a similar cloaked being. After some brief muttering that was too soft for the distant party to overhear, the first one enters the shop and the second one walks out the door and begins heading down the street.

Ghelves stakeout

The party dispatches Jax to follow the figure. He is able to successfully creep up on it and threaten it with his kama. Before Jax can react, the figure whips out a rapier and attacks (he had the Quick Draw feat). After a short battle, Jax kills his opponent and throws back the hood to discover something very unusual:

86339

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Investigations

The next day, party splits up and begins their investigation. Iolon heads off to talk to the city guard and also investigate some of the crime scenes. Jax and Ghydwr get a letter of introduction from Jenya and head off to orphanage to do their own interviews. The party agrees that it is in everyone’s best interest for Belben to continue to keep his head down.

  • Iolon talks to Sgt. Krewis of the city guard. The guard is more of a militia than a police force, and modern standards of investigation don’t exist in the D&D world, so progress has been poor. Krewis at least had the wits and organization to collate a list of the victims and the time and place of their disappearances.
    • 25 people have vanished over the last two months
    • All of the victims were middle-class homeowners
    • They are of various ages, race, and gender
    • There are usually signs of a struggle, but never signs of a forced entry
    • Krewis suspects either the Last Laugh or the Alleybashers, but has no proof
    • Krewis does not think that the goblins are responsible. The goblins are always noisy as hell and seem to be more interested in vandalism than looting or kidnapping
    • Krewis would be happy to suck Iolon’s dick
  • Iolon checks out some of the victims’ homes, and talks with the neighbors
    • One person insists that he saw figures leaping across the rooftops the night of his neighbors’ disappearance. The same person has also heard rumors of halfings creeping about at night, and thinks that a gang of halfing rogues is responsible

      (like many rumors, this a mixture of partial truths. The rooftop jumpers were part of a Last Laugh training exercise, and the ‘halfing sightings’ were actually dark creepers. The two phenomenon were completely unrelated)

    • A gnomish woman idly remarks that once an entire town of gnomes vanished without a trace. She then tells a whimsical story of a gnome who poured so much of his energy into his creative efforts that he gradually faded into nothing, leaving only his art behind.

      (This is a half-remembered and badly distorted account of The Vanishing. The purported link between intense creative work and The Vanishing is partially true. Of course, none of this has any relevance to the recent disappearances, which are the result of mundane kidnappings).

    • Iolon notices that all of the victims took personal security seriously, which makes the lack of forced entry all the more mysterious. Iolon quickly realizes that the only reliable source of masterwork locks in Cauldron is Keygen Ghelves, a gnomish locksmith and one of the city’s finest craftsmen.

Jax and Ghdwhyr arrive at the Lantern Street Orphanage. The orphanage was founded by Lord and Lady Vanderboren when the noble couple discovered that they could not produce children of their own. The Vanderborens have ended up adopting several of the orphans, most notably Todd Vanderboren of the Stormblades. Fun fact: The Vandborens own the apartment complex that is currently the Silent Fist’s homebase.

  • J&G meet Sir Tercival standing outside of the front entrance. He wasn’t present during the kidnappings and doesn’t have much to add.
  • The interview with the headmistress and staff confirms Ruphius’ finding that they don’t know shit
  • When it is time to interview Patch, it is discovered that he has ‘left on an errand’
  • Jax breaks into Patch’s room while Ghydwyr distracts the headmistress. A quick search of the room turns up a purse containing several jester-stamped coins
  • The two Fists also note that the service entrance in back has been recently oiled and turns silently in its hinges. No other door in the building has received this level of maintenance.
  • They decide to leave the building and stake it out from a nearby alley. Patch finally returns a few hours later. The Fists quickly make an unannounced return and corner Patch in his room.
    • Patch spills his guts
      • Patch was paid by ‘a mysterious man’ at the Slippery Eel to keep an eye on Terrance, a red-headed eight year-old boy and recent arrival to the orphanage.
      • He was only supposed to ‘keep an eye’ on him and report via letter if anything ‘unusual’ happened
      • Patch has worked at the orphanage for 20 years and is well loved by the children. He insists that he would never do anything to endanger them and that the kidnappings have nothing to do with his mysterious side job.
      • When confronted about the back door, Patch sheepishly admits that he has been spending his new found gold in the docks district. A bit of prodding reveals that he has grown sweet on one of the prostitutes working there.
      • Patch has been sneaking out at night to visit his new ‘friend.’ He was terrified of being caught by the headmistress, so he carefully oiled the hinges to make it easy to slip in and out.
      • Working the lock makes too much noise, so he has been deliberately leaving it unlocked on nights that he plans on going out. The children vanished on one of these nights.

        -Patch was only telling enough information to get the party off of his back. His involvement was a bit deeper than he revealed. He was actually a low-level member of the Last Laugh, and not just a hired stooge. The Last Laugh knew about Ruphius’s investigation because when Patch went on his ‘errand’ yesterday, he went to the Slippery Eel and told them about it. The ‘errand’ that Patch went on today also took him to the Slippery Eel, where he collected a nice bonus for giving the names and descriptions of these new interlopers. This will end up badly complicating Jax’s life in a few hours. None of this matters anymore, because Patch abruptly quit his job the next day and vanished from Cauldron.

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Night on the Town

-On the way back home after a long night of carousing, the party encounters an acolyte of Torm (Ruphius) being beaten by two men wearing Last Laugh colors. The thugs draw their rapiers and try to bluff the party away, only to discover that the Silent Fists always call every hand. One thug is killed and the other one is captured.

  • What was learned from the priest
    • The thugs were warning him to stay away from the Lantern Street Orphanage
    • The priest had been interviewing the orphanage staff about the kidnappings
  • What was learned from the thug
    • His name is Nilas Varkazi. His dead friend was called Hylum Ferant
    • Both men used to be members of the city guard
    • They were both recruited by the Last Laugh
    • They possessed several coins marked with a jester’s mask.

      (This never ended up making any fucking sense. At the time, I still trusted the source material and assumed that it would make sense later. I was wrong. The book does explain who is making the coins and how they are doing it, but never explains why. Sorry about the wasted brain cycles).

    • They have engaged in numerous training exercises, particularly in the use of rooftop pathways as a quick and stealthy means of moving about the city.
    • The Last Laugh seems to be recruiting hard
    • The attack on the priest was their final test before becoming full members
    • Nilas insists that they weren’t going to seriously harm the priest. They were told to dissuade him from investigating the orphanage. He does not know why he was told to do this
    • His contact is a woman named ‘Jil.’ He doesn’t find her. She finds him.

      Jil was watching the entire exchange from a nearby rooftop. I rolled perception checks for everyone, but there was basically no way anyone was going to beat her stealth score.

  • Being the most respectable member of the party, Iolon turns the captured thug in to the city guard. Belben, being the least respectable member of the party, and also the person who dealt the killing blow, hides in the ghetto and doesn’t emerge for several days. Jax and Ghydyr escort Ruphius back to the temple and meet Jenya, the acting high priestess of Torm
    • Things learned from Jenya
      • The true head of the church, Father Sarcem is away on a ‘pilgrimage’

        (he was actually on a secret errand to Thessaly to replenish the city’s dwindling stockpile of wands of water control. This errand forms the basis for the third adventure).

      • The church of Torm is very concerned about the kidnappings and especially offended by the raid on the orphanage. She has set aside 2500 gold royals from the church treasury as a reward for the return of the missing children.
      • Sir Tercival, a paladin of Torm and the other ranking member of the church, now personally guards the orphanage
      • She did not want to suck Iolon’s dick, but thanks for asking
      • Ruphius had interviewed the orphanage staff earlier that day. The only thing he learned is that no one knows anything about what happened. The kidnapping occurred at night and with such stealth that no one heard or suspected a thing

        (the unnatural stealth of the attack was never explained by the source material. While skulks and creepers are naturally stealthy, there is no quiet way to extract five screaming children from a crowded dormitory. At the time, I assumed that they had magic or something, but I was wrong).

      • Ruphius did not quite talk to the entire staff. The groundskeeper, a half-orc named Patch, was out on an errand during Ruphius’ visit. Ruphius has a vague hope that Patch might have noticed something that the others missed.

        -In the source, Jenya had access to a relic that could cast Legend Lore. It gave her a stupidly transparent poem that basically tells you exactly where to look and what to do. Naturally, she was completely stumped by it. Fucking lame. I excised that entire section, at the cost of making the investigation a bit harder.

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