The following day, Rua and Reckless Claw make their way to Marshal Hurley’s mansion to claim their bounty. Moving through the city, the come to the clearinghouse run by Hurley and the core of his status as a burgher of the city. The clearinghouse is not only the dominate locale for handling financial transactions between nearly all the merchants of Badispor it also is the hub for all bounties, mercenary requests, and other assorted tasks requiring independent contractors (adventurers). Hurley has made his fortune off corning this market and then expanding into reputable finance.
Just beyond the clearinghouse is the huge, open ornamental garden of Hurley’s estate. It is garish and over the top. Making their way through the garden, the pair enter the mansion and are told to wait. Soon Malcolm, Marshal Hurley’s personal butler, arrives greeting the two and escorting them out of the main entrance foray to a servants hall and his own private office.
There the two offer up the signet ring. Malcolm who has been cool and collected up until this point is visibly relived upon getting the ring back in his possession. He’s grateful to the duo and begins to write them out a cheque for 10,000 aurens (gold pieces) the agreed upon bounty. As he does so, Reckless Claw presents him with the letter they discovered as Rua explains it was also found in Nettles’ possession. Malcolm takes the letter, examines it, and thanks the two handing them their payment.
Both Reckless Claw and Rua’ratha look at the cheque with some confusion. Sensing they may not be familiar with wages at this degree, Malcolm explains how when dealing with amounts of a certain level it makes no sense to carry around bags of coin. The pair can go to their bank and have this note validated and its amount deposited. There is a brief exchange of where and how to open a bank account. Malcolm, still giddy from having the signet ring returned, patiently explains to the duo how and where to go.
The pair depart heading to the banking district to open up their first account.
The same morning in the citadel of the Church of the Silver Flame, Rolan awakens sore and still feeling the weight of the loss of his companions. He gets himself organized and goes to debrief Commander Smith.
As he relates what he found, Commander Smith commends him for snuffing out the lycanthrope threat promising him this will look good in his record. Hesitantly, Rolan broaches the subject of the cat-like humanoid he encountered whom he was able to identify as named Quillian from interrogating a surviving wererat and how it caused his fellow paladins to fall. Commander Smith is solemn asserting Frank and Kevin will each receive a hero’s burial. He’ll send a squad out to the ruins to recover the bodies of their fallen brethren as well as those of the dead wererats.
He then tells Rolan to wait here as Commander Smith leaves to report to his own superior. After roughly a half hour, Smith returns ushering in another dwarf, this one with a long, narrow grey beard but bearing a striking resemblance to Commander Smith. Identifying himself as Commander Smythe, he asks Rolan to again relate his story. Commander Smith waits outside guarding the closed door.
Smythe explains how Rolan encountered a rakshasa, a supremely evil fiend. News of a rakshasa here on the continent of Valon is significant as it was thought by the Silver Flame there were none or, rather, they had been routed and left back in Red Banks. Smythe reveals to Rolan their militant wing of the church was originally created to fight against the rakshasa threat embodied by the heinous Lords of Dust. He then tasks Rolan with hunting down this Quillian and snuffing out the threat. Giving him a unique amulet embossed with the order’s insignia, Smythe says the entire resources of the order are available to him upon request no questions asked, that the task will likely be long and dangerous, and when completed, Rolan will have solidified himself high in the order’s hierarchy. However, Smythe makes it clear this is a supremely dangerous mission. He relates all that is known about the Lords of Dust and rakshasas in general to Rolan and tells him to head to the dock to speak with a contact there named Alcott at the Tide Over Tavern.
After setting up their bank account and depositing their reward, Reckless Claw and Rua’ratha head back to the clearinghouse to see what other jobs might be available. They discover the newest entry on the board is the rescue described in the letter they recovered. The two decide to take the job.
Receiving the information on the bounty they are given the name of a last known contact, an individual named Alcott who operates out of the Tide Over Tavern on the docks of Badispor. On their way to the docks, the two stop to rest and eat. As they are discussing how to proceed, Rua’ratha feels her body begin to go numb and she slips into a sort of waking dream:
Rua finds herself in a wide, open pasture. A spectral fox catches their attention beckoning to follow as it disappears into a forest. A Voice, indistinct, calls out drawing you towards where the fox had gone. Following, the voice calmly asserts “Find them.”
Suddenly, the woods end. Rua and the fox are on a cliff overlooking an ocean. The wind seems to be coming from behind them almost pushing them forward. The spectral fox leaps off the cliff turning into a great blue dragon as it flies over the ocean towards the horizon.
Just then the ground under Rua’s feet disappears as they see themselves racing over water. The vast ocean waves soon change to sand dunes as Rua scans over a huge desert. The Voice again says “Find them.”
Rising higher and higher into the sky attempting to take in the entirety of the desert, Rua’ratha’s vision becomes consumed by the bright, blinding light; it’s a searing pain then utter darkness. The voice, “Find them. Your kind need you.”
Rua’ratha snaps back to the present moment as Reckless Claw stares at her seemingly in the middle of having asked a question. “I think I was just spoken to by Aureon.”
“What did it say?”
“I’m not sure yet,” Rua responds, “but we should find this Tide Over Tavern.” The two head to the docks.
Convening on the docks, the well-armored paladin Rolan finds his way to the Tide Over Tavern and as he does encounters two Shifters who seem to be looking for the same place as he. As the three inquire between them about where the tavern might be, they see on a nearby dock what appears to be the beginnings of a large brawl.
Trapped at the end of the short dock, an elven woman dressed in rather dark but elegant clothing is facing off against massive bugbear wielding an axe and a robed yuan-ti. The two menacing her are buttressed by two smaller companions, a shady looking kobold and a lizardfolk archer resembling a tree frog. The four are bearing down on the woman with clear intent to harm.
Reckless Claw is the first to point this out to the other two saying it looks like someone is in need of help to even out the numbers. Rua’ratha is hesitant to get involved but follows behind Reckless Claw who’s already moved to find out what’s going on. Calling out to the woman asking if she’s alright, Reckless Claw makes her presence known to the five on the dock. The yuan-ti turns to her shouting “This doesn’t concern you! Move on!” At this Rolan interjects asking the elven woman if she needs help as the bugbear moves on her.
As the bugbear moves to attack and the yuan-ti is distracted, the elven woman unleashes an Eldritch Blast on the yuan-ti. Reckless Claw, Rolan, and Rua’ratha join the fray on the side of the elven woman. The scuffle is quick and intense. The elven woman seems to summon an eerie black tentacle from out of nowhere while also sending some kind of Mind Spike into the bugbear. It grapples and eventually chokes out the bugbear as Reckless Claw unleashes a barrage of arrows into the yuan-ti. Panicked, the lizardfolk and kobold attempt to attack the party but are rebuffed eventually running away when they see their comrades drop. With the bugbear and yaun-ti dead, the elven woman kicks them over the edge of the docks.
She greets the trio introducing herself as Anastriana Mallace. Intense but gleeful, Anastriana embraces her new friends while also seeming to talk to a porcelain doll she has tied to her hip she keeps referring to as ‘Miss Edith.’ During the course of their conversation, Anastriana explains the group fought members the Black Cloud gang with whom she was briefly aligned until they decided to come after her believing she had stolen several Allowances (official passes into the interior of the continent) from the organization.
The trio ask if she knows where to find the Tide Over Tavern. Anastriana explains she knows it well, it’s the main base of operations for the Black Cloud gang. Asked if she knows an individual named Alcott, she explains he’s an independent loan shark/gambler. She worked with him a few times. Anastriana agrees to take the trio to the tavern and show them Alcott. As they begin to walk, Anastriana says, “Oh, yes, you’re quite right Miss Edith” and using Disguise Self makes herself look like a Shifter similar to Reckless Claw, “I did just run out of there so you see…
The four party members make their way to the Tide Over Tavern to find Alcott, each for their own reasons.