Saturday, January 26, 2013

Of Ghouls and Gangs

Well, after a long hiatus,  2/3 of my group got back together to resume their exploration of Hrulvir: City of the Groaning Gate.  After a recap of our previous session, Jethras and Yauk, a pair of morally bankrupt mercenaries, decided to collect a payment that owed to them for a service performed on behalf of an effete nobleman named Sepharis Vulnoor.  This minor task was interrupted by skirmish between two street gangs. The fracas erupted in a courtyard ringed by abandoned towers and shacks, just south of where the characters reside.

The gangs, distinguishable solely by either black or white sashes worn upon their forearms, seemed intent upon killing one another.  Jethras and Yauk opted to side with the white sashes, and they killed several of the black sashes.  The expeditious manner in which they butchered what were essentially street thugs in their late teens frightened the white sashes so much that they scurried off before they could be accosted by the two heavily-armed interlopers.

After their bloodlust was sated, Jethras and Yauk fled the scene just before The Ravens arrived.  As they made their way through the convolutions of The Narrows, they were nearly flattened by a fallen chunk of masonry that had been pushed from the top of one of the myriad leaning towers.  Enraged, the  two mercenaries ascended the empty tower and reached the top in time to spy a pair of young hoodlums scampering across the rooftops.  Black sashes were displayed prominently upon their arms.

Yauk managed to fire an arrow at the retreating saboteurs, but the arrow streaked harmlessly over their heads.  Frustrated, the twain left The Narrows and entered Hrulvir's commercial district without further incident.  Whilst making their way through the commercial center, they overhead a man say that pickpockets may be deterred by wearing a thief's finger around one's neck.

They finally arrived at Sepharis's manse and, after exchanging pleasantries, were awarded what essentially amounted to a check for 1000 bronze eels, as well as instructions to present the writ to one of the clerks at The Vaults - a bank.   Angered that their patron did not have the money on hand, the characters made their way to the vault.  The clerk who accepted the note was taken aback by the duo's mean appearance.  He was especially offended by the pouch of clacking teeth which is tethered to Yauk's throat.  His face curdled when he realized that Jethras was partially Lemuran.  Suffice it to say, it took the clerk close to an hour to certify that the cheque was legitimate.

After several minutes of haranguing, the clerk returned with a bag of bronze eels, and seemed quite eager to see the mercenaries out of The Vaults.  Jethras was bold enough to enquire about how he and Yauk could requisition a vault of their own, but the clerk derided him and seemed even more eager to remove them from the premises.

The pair then decided to visit the fence Dobbas.  They found their colleague at his tavern The Frigid Moon.  The fence, normally inebriated or suffering from the effects of recently being so, was uncharacteristically pale, and was seen coughing blood into a dirty rag.  When pressed about his condition, Dobbas admitted that he'd been poisoned several years ago by Balthazar, the leader of a particularly vicious syndicate known as The Long Hoods. Dobbas admitted that he'd cheated the man out of a significant amount of money, and that Balthazar had gotten even with him by poising him with a rare, slow-acting toxin. 

Balthazar has spent the last five years feeding Dobbas small quantities of the antidote to stave off the poison for short periods of time.  In doing so, he has been able to force Dobbas to carry out menial and often dangerous tasks, free of charge.   Dobbas asked the mercenaries to infiltrate the stronghold of a cult worshipping the god Sheol the Strangler.  Rumors hint that the cult owns a statue made of solid gold.  Balthazar is convinced that the rumors are true, and he has forced Dobbas to carry out this nigh impossible task.  

Dobbas tells the players that egress into the cult's headquarters may be obtained through the sewers.  Dobbas promises to pay the characters handsomely for their efforts.  He offers to safeguard the money that they've just collected; additionally, he offers to hire a locksmith to fashion a vault or safe and have it installed within the tower in which they inhabit.

The players visit Madam Nu's House of Pleasure, with Jaliel at their side.  After having an awkward conversation with Nu, they convince the madam to allow them to use the sewer entrance located in her basement.   The brothel basement is full of cages, as well as every torture implement conceivable.  The characters descend into the sewers and wade through a cavern of filthy water.  After several minutes of walking, they encounter a dead beggar floating facedown in the water.  Upon turning the body over, they see that something has eaten the corpse's face, as well as much of its torso.  

Rounding a corner, they spy a ghoul devouring another beggar.  A fight breaks out between the ghoul and they players.  The characters dispatched the ghoul without much effort, but two more ghouls showed up and complicated matters.  Although one of the additional ghouls was also killed, the last emitted a scream that was so terrifying that it stunned two of the three players.   Jaliel, by some miracle, managed to withstand the effects of the horrid scream, and managed to fight off the ghoul until Jethras and Yauk regained their senses.   Yauk managed to behead the last ghoul as soon as he regained his wits.  

Moments later, they players arrive that landing described as the secret entrance to the lair of the followers of Sheol the Strangler.

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