Too Dark Park
There’s a moment where we all just kinda look at each other. Suddenly we’re broke out of our trances by a shot of light into the night sky. It shoots up from blocks away to the north then explored into brightness like some kind of faerie fire jubilee. In the near distance we could hear the sounds of city guard mobilizing and coming our way.
“I’ve got a cask for the thing.” Truda rushed up holding a small barrel in her hands. “Got it from the bar across the way. Will it fit?”
I shrug pulling up the eel out of the collapsed and unconscious Ton, “Let’s find out.” I look off behind my friends and nod, “We need to not be here when whoever that is shows up.”
“Fewer questions the better.” Flynkin agrees.
The eel does fit wound up tight in the cask as the hurriedly make our way away from the on-coming city guard. Taking the slightly less direct route, we cross over the river bumping right into a cadre of city guard halting us. Once again, I’m dragging an unconscious body through the streets. Even if the strange flare hadn’t gone up, we’d have been very lucky not to be stopped and escorted to the Guild. Which is how the city guard treat us this night, their questions more pointed this time. I’m stone-faced as Flynkin is the only one willing to respond and every time he flatly states “Guild business.”
The guard doesn’t disperse this time as we enter the Guild Hall. With Ton in tow, I step forward, “Here’s the dealer. And I need to see a healer sooner rather than later…” Truda steps up beside me holding the cask, I nod, “And we’ve got what may be the source.” I tap on the lid, “Barely alive but dangerous.”
We’re escorted into a side chamber. Here we find ourselves present for a heated debate between to of the Guild leaders, Author Avery, the resident wizard, and Author Pink, a half-orc like myself and druid. The two seem to be embroiled in a pissing contest about who ought to be in charge of the eel creature. As they’re spitting venom at each other the way only an arcanist and a naturalist can, I nudge Author Qwand giving him a detailed account of what transpired in the park.
Then I come to a rather difficult part, “I, uh, I had to take a sample of that venom.” I say rather sheepishly. “And I need to make sure I’m not…messed up…”
With surprise but understanding, Qwand looks me over nodding, “Author Willow will be here soon enough to examine you.” Turning the rest of the room, specifically Avery and Pink, Qwand commands them to get themselves sorted. He disappears for a moment as my friends and I talk amongst ourselves. There seems to be far more furor over this lowlife than usual.
Qwand re-enters introducing Lady Bree, ruler of New Adtham. I don’t think I was the only one struck by this sudden appearance of the ruling class. Qwand is conversation with Lady Bree when suddenly in the midst of our little circle there appears the strangest looking fellow I’ve yet seen. With skin of blackest night wearing a turban, a huge gleaming smile opens up across his face. It’s unnatural like some kind of fey magic.
His voice is soft but high pitched, “My, you all had a busy evening.”
“Who the fuck?!” Flynkin flinches.
Noggal tenses and stares as I put a hand on his shoulder and very conspicuously move us away from the fellow by about three feet. “You are unnerving, friend.”
A sprinkling of cute yet creepy laughter escapes him, “You’re funny.”
“I’m Cade. And you are?”
Before he can reply, Lady Bree snaps out a call in our direction, “Oi! Come here.”
“Must be going.” And with that he seems to daintily trot away.
“I don’t like anything about that guy.” Noggal says flatly.
“Where did he even fucking come from?” Flynkin asks astounded he didn’t notice ‘Oi’ suddenly saddle up next to us.
Before we can go into it further, Qwand approaches us with Lady Bree. Introductions go smoothly enough as Lady Bree asks us to tell her what went on this evening. Speaking for the group, I relate a truncated or, rather, steamlined version of events for Lady Bree trying to get a read on Qwand however the dragonborn is giving me no perceptible queues. Satisfied, Lady Bree gives us what appears to be a fat wand or stubby tree branch.
“Should you come across this plague again,” she holds it out to us and when none of us move to take it Truda grabs it with a sigh clearly directed at our hesitation, “simply hold this aloft and shoot it up. A great signal will be sent for my city guard to heed to come to your aid. I do not like this evil drug in my city and will greatly reward anyone excising it. Thank you for your service.”
As she disappears, we all confer looking the rod over. “This must be something like what we saw go up when we were in the park.” Noggal says.
“Yeah but I don’t trust her. Or this thing.” Flykin mutters.
“The ruler of the city? You don’t trust the ruler of the city?” Truda pointedly asks.
“I certainly don’t like that guy…Oi, was it?” Flynkin replies.
Truda nods in agreement as I interject, “They’ve all got plots and plans, politics isn’t our thing. Let’s just stick to our job.”
“Agreed.” Truda says as she stows the rod away.
We depart for the evening, each to our own places. Over the next few days, I don’t see much of the others as I wander through the city looking through magic shops, tinker dens, bookstores, and libraries always on the lookout for a bit of arcane wisdom hidden away in forgotten places. I’m able to purchase a new spellbook (Enduring Spellbook), one enchanted so that it never ages and is impervious to fire and water damage.
When we next assemble at the Guild, we’re informed of some serious events. Varis, Octavia, and Nymeria are all absent living their lives elsewhere but our compatriot Branok showed his face. We step into the chamber where we debriefed the days prior to find Pink getting a wild ‘I told you so’ speech from Avery. Qwand informs us that our prisoner, Ton, has disappeared. Overhearing this, Avery makes it a point to assert Oi was just able to step on in and take what he wanted because of Pink’s lack of magical wards. The two look about to come to blows but Pink also looks clearly shamed.
We ask if anything more has been discovered about Ton and the drug. “Shine,” Qwand tells us, “is the name it’s going by and its getting its claws into a few young mages still over at the college. Ton was suicidal from the first moment he came to here. We had to encase him in an anti-magic field to prevent him from killing himself.”
“Wait,” Flynkin asks, “and Oi was still able to get him out?”
“So you want us to get him back.” I reply.
Qwand shakes his head with a sternness I’d not seen before, “No, leave Oi. It always best not to…involve yourself with him. Ton might have been whisked away, but Avery was able to find out a some enticing information before it happened.”
“Such as?” Truda asks.
“The eel is Abyssal, a creature warped and demented by demonic powers. This is how the venom was able to be made into such a dangerous drug. When interviewed, Ton routinely replied that ‘The Deep will take you‘ and we’re in the process of researching the phrase for anything relevant. He also screamed out upon Avery’s more vigorous interrogation the name ‘Aameul.'”
Taking it all in, I nod turning to my friends, “Does that name mean anything to any of you?” They shrug or shake their heads. I make a note of the name hoping to do some research on the demons of the Abyss in my free time.
“All in all, this has been a trying experience for everyone. However, I believe we have a task specifically for you all.” Qwand gestures us out to follow Bernard, the questmaster.
“You all have been specifically requested by the owner and operator of The Hippo to assist in a matter.” Bernard relates to us giving us each a script with no more details than what he spoke. “Proceed to The Hippo and details will be forthcoming.”
With that, Branok, Flynkin, Noggal, Truda, and myself headed out toward the arena to see what kind of trouble we could get into…