The newly formed party of four–Rolan, half-elf paladin; Anastriana, elf, warlock; Rua’ratha, cleric shifter; Reckless Claw, ranger shifter–move through the busy streets of the dock. Anastriana leads the group to the Tide Over Tavern, where they look to find a fellow named Alcott.
Having just fled from the tavern and helped kill two members of the gang whose headquarters it is (Black Cloud), Anastriana is in disguise but she is easily able to point out Alcott (a half-orc gambler and loan shark) at a far table in the midst of a card game. She also points out three human thugs that are part of the Black Cloud gang. Rua’ratha hangs back as Reckless Claw and Rolan take seats at the table. Alcott welcomes them both to inviting them to join in if they have the coin. There are two others playing with Alcott who seem to be losing and thus don’t mind the addition of other players.
The game is called grist and neither Reckless nor Rolan really know how to play. However, Reckless is able to pick up how the game it played rather quickly while Rolan merely plays blindly (and somehow wins hands despite himself). Watching the game unfolds, Rua notices that Alcott, while not cheating, seems to have excessive good luck. As the game proceeds, Rolan casually asks if anyone hsa heard about any problems with wererats. As the paladin speaks the word ‘wererats,’ Alcott and the other two gamblers at the table seem to tighten up. One of the gamblers immediately tosses his hand in annoucning he has to leave and as he goes, he leaves his coins behind. The other gambler pretends they didn’t hear what Rolan said but it’s obvious he’s uncomfortable. Alcott himself simply shakes his head as Rolan goes on about there being some troubles with wererats outside the city.
“Look friend,” Alcott says in a near whisper, “you need to keep your voice down and you need to be a bit more discrete.” Making a gesture to simmer down, he continues, “One of the Black Cloud, who operate out of this fair establishment, is of the kind you mentioned. Drawing attention to yourself in such a way may not be the best thing for your health, if you get my drift.”
Rolan nods understanding as Alcott winks at him and begins to deal out another hand. Rua decides to take up the now open seat. Keeping their voices low, the shifters also inquire about the wererats leading the other gambler to cash out and leave. A bit annoyed but still jovial, Alcott continues to play with the three party members winning almost every hand. As he does do, he explains to them how the Black Cloud operates and what Nettles, a member of the gang and a wererat, may be up to.
As the group play, they hear cheers and jeers coming from what appears to be an subfloor under the main tavern. Soon, as the noise grows, Alcott announces he’s going downstairs to make some real money. As he moves through the tavern, he gives details about Spir and Badou–he sent the two to his contacts in Jade, a rival docks gang to Black Cloud, to get supplies and forged documents to enter the interior. He also says Nettles often had business out at the Nissea ruins. Before he disappears, Alcott mentions to the party that if they are ever in want of doing some independent jobs, he’s the fellow to talk to.
As it nears evening, the party discuss what their next move should be sharing what each of them have learned, the missions they are on, and how the information ties together. At the mention of Nettles, Anastriana makes a face commenting that “He’s a little shite.” The rest ask her if she knows Nettles and the warlock explains she knows all the major members of the Black Cloud gang as she had briefly been a member. Arriving in Badispor from Red Banks, she worked independently taking odd jobs from petty criminals such as Alcott but as her powers grew she became more ambitious deciding to ally herself with Black Cloud. However, she soon realized their powers were weak, their vision shortsighted, and their temperament too different from her own. Leaving the gang turned out to be more of hassle than she had anticipated, but meeting the others convinced her she had done the right thing. She lets the others know about the gangs operating around the docks–Jade which extorts merchant ships and offers false documents, Freemen that are known to be slavers, and The Patient Ones (which Rua’ratha had heard of from her time as a city guard) who do contract killings.
The group decides they need to investigate the ruins again as it seems Nettles was involved with the disappearance of Spir and Badou and there may be more information that Rolan missed. As he enters early evening, the group set out to for the Nissea ruins.