Chasing a tiefling through the streets of Loudwater, the Sacred Blades arrive at a ruined temple. The tiefling bolted inside, slamming a door behind. They had been warned of this place: once a house of Tempus and waystation for all manner of adventurers, now a shadow of its former glory, a gang hideout. This may be the only chance the Blades have of bringing these thieves to justice; attack now, or they may flee the city and continue their deeds elsewhere.
A clamor arose, men shouting, weapons coming to the ready. One voice rose over the mob, shouting orders and threatening men with the wrath of Cyric for their cowardice. That name gave them pause, as the presence of a Cyricist indicated far greater evil than a mere thieves guild. The Blades hesitated, not wanting to rush into a trap. Inside, sounds of preparation were heard – boxes being pushed over, men moving into position. Unwilling to wait longer, the Sacred Blades burst into the room.
Chaos erupted as over a dozen men loosed bolts and arrows at the door. Simple ruffians aimed from behind boxes and crates, forming a sort of front line. Crossbow bolts rarely found their target as the thugs nearly pissed themselves in fear of the Blades. In the back, battle-hardened elves, the tiefling thief Narrows, and a crazed priest of Cyric shouted orders and threats. The elves proved dangerous and their arrows flew true. The priest wielded dark powers – curses and black beams of light granted by the Prince of Lies. What a priest of the Mad God was doing here was anyones’ guess.
Kriv and Fibbit charged into battle, the dragonborn roaring with the anger of Tempus while the halfing just tried to stay alive. The frontline was quickly scattered by arrows and magic, thugs dieing faster than they could reload their crossbows. Kriv was struck by a bolt of madness from the Cyricist, and the dragonborn backed away, flailing at his own head as he was overcome. Fibbit was quickly surrounded, ambushed by Narrows and finding himself under attack from all sides. The other Blades stood within the ruined doorway, sending deadly fire into the battle, clearing away the thieves.
By now only one thief was left, he fled in a panic. The ruffians were not the true threat and their death meant little; the elves continued their fire, while the priest and tiefling pressed forward. As the Blades moved into the room, the unholy man invoked the might of Cyric: shouting “Behold the Black Sun!”, a burst of evil knocked the Blades off their feet, leaving them disoriented on the ground. The last remaining rogue left regained his courage, pulled out his simple club, and charged into battle, critically wounding Fibbit. Sensing imminent victory, the elves dropped their bows, drew swords and charged forward, finishing off the halfling.
The Blades nearly fell that hour, and Loudwater would have suffered for their loss. What happened next is not clear, but the tide of battle shifted once more. The priest fell screaming, followed soon by an elf and the last ruffian. One remaining elf positioned himself behind a Blade, yelling for assistance from his fellow – who instead turned tail and ran, the path clear of enemies. Forsaken by his kin, the elf and Narrows were knocked unconscious. The battle for the temple had ended, but none could guess the aftermath would be messier still.
A light blinks into existence behind two imposing figures
Who do you work for?
A dull thud, a groan.
What do you know?
A finger cracks, then hangs crushed and useless.
WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN?!?
The elf weakly points towards Narrows, caged on the other side of the room.
Waves of thunderous power slam him into the wall. He slumps over, lifeless.
The men turn toward Narrows, a murderous glint in their eyes.
The Blades had met their limit. Merchants robbed of their livelihood, a temple defiled by evil, children enslaved and sold to horrific fates. They could deal with such evil when it came from monsters: from elementals and golems, goblins and zombies. Yet this evil came from men, from their own people. People who cared so little about their fellow man, they could steal away children for profit. While some Blades tortured the prisoners for information, Kriv went about branding the corpses as heretics, laying them outside the temple for all to see. Recovering from his near-death, Fibbit looted the fallen, quietly pocketing a share for himself. Others stood by while all this went on, sharing in the guilt. Ill-gotten gold was divided amongst the Blades, rewarding themselves with stolen money and the profits of slavery.
Strife had won the day and a path to corruption was opened to the pure. Somewhere far away, from his distant and eternal prison, Cyric laughed.
The Lady and the Constable
Exiting the temple with blood covering their armor, the Blades greeted a gathering crowd. They stood mostly silent, unsure of what had taken place, staring at the dozen branded corpses. One old man rushed off to get Lady Moonfire. Shortly after, the constable and his men arrived escorting the worried-looking Lady.
An argument ensued, with the Lady wanting to believe the always-good advice of the Constable, who insisted on exiling the Blades as murderers and arrogant treasure hunters. The Blades persuaded her to see for herself, and she went into the bloody temple to see the shackles and cages. Meanwhile the Constable prepared to flee with his men, leaving town for good. “Maybe we should go to Zelbross…” one said, and that was all it took. Operious let loose with a ball of fire, catching the four guardsmen unprepared. They died screaming horribly, bodies roasting before the eyes of the gathered citizenry. Badly burned, only the Constable survived and was taken into custody by some newly-deputized citizens. Lady Moonfire ran from the temple with a shackle held high, showing her fellows that it was all true. The Constable, the gang; all true, and now all defeated. A cheer erupted from the crowd, praising the Sacred Blades.
After a quick rest, the Blades had unfinished business to take care of. They spoke briefly with Curuvir, who seemed satisfied with their performance in the Tower. He had no involvement in the local concerns and was off to that very Tower, perhaps to find some hint of the fate of his old teacher. The Blades had a feeling they would be seeing him again.
After another interrogation the Blades had all the information they needed. The Zhentarim were involved, as were their allies in the church of Cyric. Of all those in the Loudwater gang, only the Constable and the priest were actual members of the Zhentarim, and both worshippers of that evil god. The Zhents, the Black Network, were well-known by all as a ruthless mercenary group, involved in all manner of horrifying crime. They operated a slavery ring all along the river, bringing in children from outlying farms and the towns of Loudwater and Lorkh. They were shipped under disguise to Zelbross, there to be bought by lizardfolk of Najara and worse. There was even mention of the Lady of Shadows, leader of the local Zhents, residing in Zelbross. She was referred to as inhuman, more accurately once-human, and as taking the occasional slave for herself. That left open some disturbing possibilities.
The Blades rested for the night then requested horses from the Lady, which she gladly granted. They rode swiftly to Zelbross, while back in Loudwater the bodies of those slain burned on a group pyre. After a hard day’s ride along a snowy road, they rested. Posting a guard and magically dimming their fire, they were still caught unprepared by a lone assassin. Perhaps they didn’t notice him in Loudwater, watching their every move – or maybe he came from Zelbross, it didnt really matter. He struck quickly, poisoned swords cutting into bare flesh, then throwing his cloak over himself and disappearing. He taunted them for angering the Zhentarim, sure of his victory. Again he struck, again he blinked away. The Blades spread out, striking whenever the killer appeared. Overconfident, he was soon slain. Though this assassin had failed, the Blades were now on notice. They had made dangerous enemies, and now they traveled straight to their lair.
|Ruined Temple: 1050|
|Clearing out Loudwater (minor quest): 150|
|Reporting back to Curuvir (minor quest): 150|
|Lone assassin: 875|
|2225xp total, 445xp per person|
|Grand Total XP per character: 2815 (3750 total needed for 4th level)|