After vanquishing Tasskar and returning triumphant to Knavesmire, the adventurers collected their reward and went their separate ways.
Elandria renewed her efforts to combat the growing outbreak of disease. Rye sought out another sorcerer to find out why this rat kept following her around (and discovered that she’s got a familiar). Silva boozed and looked for work.
Several weeks passed before Sergeant Alma Kearnen sent them messages asking to meet her at the barracks the following night. At the meeting, she explained that contrary to expectations, monster activity around the Fallen Fortress had increased since the adventurers defeated Tasskar. It needed to be checked out, again. The city guard would do it, but the disease plaguing Knavesmire hit them hard recently, and their numbers were depleted. Once again, she turned to the adventurers for help.
Before they could agree, a woman shouted for help and ran up to them. A group of thugs had abducted the local librarian, Alan Hawtrey, and were taking him to the cliffs overlooking Loch Tay. Sgt. Kearnen told the adventurers they had to choose – go to the Fallen Fortress once more, or go after Alan. She did not have enough men to cover both.
The adventurers chose to attempt to save Alan and headed for the cliffs, where they found several War Hounder thugs pushing Alan and three other old men, all chained together, off the cliff. Elandria charged into the fray and attacked the War Hounders. The thugs managed to flank her quite easily and scored some powerful blows before Silva joined the melee.
Combining Elandria and Silva’s martial prowess with Rye’s magical assault, the adventurers quickly mopped up the thugs, then removed their armor and dove after the old men in the sea. Silva and Elandria plied their strength at breaking the chains, while Rye attempted to swim to the surface carrying the men. Eventually, they rescued everybody.
Alan Hawtrey thanked the heroes profusely and delivered quite the monologue:
Thank you, my friends, for saving me. I feared the worst; no, not that I would die – I am an old man, and death is not far from me in any case. No, Knavesmire faces a grave threat. Let me see, where to begin. You no doubt know about pre-Gulnir history, how Knavesmire was threatened by the Qularn?
When the adventurers said no, Alan shook his head and continued.
A pity. Well, let me explain. No, time is too short. A synopsis, then, yes. Before the great King Reynard Corallion founded Gulnir, he had to fight off the Qularn, a cult of necromancers that threatened the safety of all the living. You know, that seems odd to me, to threaten every living creature. Wouldn’t they be threatening themselves? Hmm, must look into that…
He trailed off for a moment, then seemed to remember the situation.
Oh! As I was saying, the Qularn hated us humans. They hatched a diabolical scheme to weaken Knavesmire for a siege.
You see, they planned to infiltrate the city, sabotage strategic defense points and destroy Knavesmire’s warning system from within. Once their bloody mayhem was complete, they were to signal a fleet of warships on the loch. What the Qularn didn’t plan for was their infiltrators being discovered and killed by a group of heroes.
Now, you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with today. Well, you see, I recently found an ancient book that seemed like a detailing of the plans. I figured somebody, maybe one of the heroes of legend, had written it as a cautionary tale. The book described the signal lights, and I recreated the first. Well, um, you see, well, this is quite embarrassing, but apparently I mistranslated a bit. It was an ancient text, the language barely recognizable. An honest mistake, really, one anyone could have made. Yes.
He trailed off again, his eyes going distant. Silva prodded him to continue.
Oh, yes, well, I recreated a signal light, and um, well, it sort of, kind of, well, it, he hemmed and hawed, then said rapidly, it was a signal for the infiltrators to begin their plan and the Qularn being necromancers and all planned better than anybody expected and the infiltrators have risen from the dead and are going to start sabotaging the city and soon they’ll signal for their undead fleet to attack and I don’t know why but Nessian the leader of the War Hounders stole my book and he’s determined to let the Qularn invade so he can take advantage of the chaos. The book has an abort signal but I don’t remember it and he’s got the book so we need to find him get the book and signal the abort before an entire fleet of undead attacks!
After the dump of exposition, the adventurers asked Alan for the location of Nessian’s lair. Alan didn’t know, but suggested they talk to the Burned Man, a famed information broker who resides in the Siphons, a labyrinthine sewer system in the Narrows district. As they headed to the Narrows, a flashing red light from the top of a distant tower caught their attention. Alan recognized it as the signal for the Qularn to strike the granary, and led the adventurers there.
At the granary, they found three dead guards (with very specific locations) and several undead monstrosities. One of the undead was unpacking some vials from a chest. The adventurers attacked and put down the undead with little difficulty, and found 10 vials of a substance Rye recognized as poison.
The granary safe, the adventurers again followed Alan, who led them to the Burned Man, a charming, soft-spoken man covered in burn scars. He knew where Nessian’s lair was, but the price of the information was steep: 6,000 gold. The adventurers balked at the outrageous price, and tried to negotiate. Silva made some progress by bluntly telling the Burned Man about Nessian’s plan, but the two sides could not come to a deal. The Burned Man wanted the adventurers to owe him a favor, and to give him the vast majority of poison, and they walked out.
As they left the sewers, the sun began to rise, and Alan fretted that time was running out. Silva led the party to several taverns, and they eventually found a drunken War Hounder. Rye used her considerable charms to lure the crude man outside, and convinced him to tell her the location of their hideout. He was under the impression that he would be receiving a “favor” for the information, but it seemed to be a miscommunication, as the entertainment Rye had planned was sweet dreams for the War Hounder. She pulled out her club to ease him to sleep. He took offense to her methods, and attacked her. The copious amounts of ale he’d consumed through the night betrayed him, however, and he clumsily fell to the ground, hitting his head and knocking himself unconscious.
The adventurers hurried to the Pyramid of the Dog, a cluster of collapsing siege towers half a mile outside Knavesmire. They snuck up behind some rocks and tried to parlay with the War Hounders, but the thugs were having none of it. Two War Hounders sniped at them from their perches atop the crumbling siege towers and shouted an alarm.
Nessian led several more War Hounders out to attack, and a furious battle erupted. Back and forth it waged. Silva made short work of several of the thugs, but Nessian proved an elusive foe. The leader of the War Hounders landed one powerful blow on Silva, and when Rye cast a spell, he ordered his followers to “kill the spell casting bitch!”
Silva finally brought Nessian down, and the surviving thugs, seeing their powerful leader fall, ran for their lives. The adventurers explored Nessian’s tower and found the codebook, which Alan used to signal the desperately needed abort code. They found a bag of gems and some ancient silver coins in Nessian’s desk. Alan identified the coins as Qularn in origin, quite rare and probably worth a fair sum.
Stripping Nessian of his gear, the adventurers also found a map and letter written in another language. Rye identified it as Shandar, and translated:
Glory to the Val’nath. I found a map on the body of one of the human scum my patrol eradicated last week. I know nothing of the grunts they call a language, and the scratchings on the map make no sense to me, but I believe this is important. If it is so, we must stop the humans. I would do so, but right before I killed the human, it managed a lucky thrust with its blade, and I am unable to do much beyond rest.
There could be much honor and glory in this, brother. If I am unable to claim it, then it should be you. Bring honor to the Numenal clan!
The map showed eastern Gulnir, and had an “X” marked deep in the Gray Mountains, past Highpoint. They took Nessian to the city guard, and each received 100 gold for turning him in, and found that Sgt. Kearnen had led a small squad to the Fallen Fortress.
After some diligent shopping around, the adventurers sold the silver coins to a collector for the tidy sum of 900 gold. Satisfied with another job well done, they split the money and went about their own business.