“Brightfather’s Day saw our heroes return to the ‘haunted’ house to complete their task (after taking some time to sell the previous day’s loot and resupply, of course). They descended to the cellar once again and made short work of the remaining goblins. Further exploration led them into a set of tunnels linking to Ghul’s Labyrinth and an encounter with foul undead. Estin’s holy power forced back the zombie menace, but the group decided to return to the surface until they could find a map of this place. Their first mission together a success, they went their separate ways, agreeing to meet for dinner in this very tavern.”
“What, here? Why would they want to eat at the Ghostly Minstrel?”
“In those days, the Minstrel was the place to be for adventurers. It opened onto Delver’s Square, and many deals were struck and parties hired in this very room. In fact, our heroes met that night with one of the most famous delvers of them all, Sheva Callister. She encouraged the young adventurers on their chosen path and urged them to pick a name for their band.”
“Did they help her find the hunger swords?”
“All in good time. You can’t rush a tale like this one. Now, where was I?
“Leovin, Bingle, and Cardo arrived at that dinner newly minted members of the Delver’s Guild. Estin, on the other hand, arrived with oil and grease spatters on her clothes and in her hair. She had been inspired by the beauty of an old clock that they had found in the goblin horde to fashion her own. And Qumbarich arrived somewhat drunk, having participated boisterously in the high holy day festivities of the Church of Lothian. Leovin hadn’t had any luck finding a map of the labyrinth, but Cardo and Estin had discovered from a merchant that there was supposed to be a cache of aethel stones somewhere in that area. Excited by this fresh bit of information, Leovin went directly back to the Delver’s Guild maproom after dinner, agreeing to meet the others in the morning at the Onyx Spider, a cheap inn where Estin and Bingle planned to stay. Cardo informed his companions that he had personal business that needed attending, but that he would meet them as soon as he was able.
“The next morning saw Qumbarich, Estin, and Bingle breaking fast at the Onyx Spider, a rough place if ever there was one, frequented by suspicious-looking folk of mostly human and dwarven stock. They were nearly caught up in a brawl that erupted around them, but the fight was calmed by a priest of Asche before too much damage could be done. Bingle and Estin introduced themselves to the priest, Mand Scheben, and Bingle asked if he knew of anything adventurous or magical that needed doing. After a moment’s thought, Mand invited Bingle and his friends to come to Castle Shard the next day for a meeting.
“Meanwhile, Leovin ran into an old acquaintance on the streets: another halfling thief by the name of Seanus. Seanus had heard that Leovin was back in town with an adventuring group and wanted to offer him first crack at a job Seanus’ new employer was offering. Leovin agreed to check it out and traveled to the Rivergate district to scout out the home of this employer, one Linech Cran. After seeing gnoll guards near one of the buildings in Cran’s burrow, Leovin scampered off to the Onyx Spider to report the job offer to the others.
“He found them in the midst of interrogating one of the dwarves who had started the bar fight earlier. Apparently, the devout dwarf’s Lothianite sensibilities had been offended by the approach of what he claimed to be ‘one of those damned undead-worshipping Forsaken.’ It was not difficult for Leovin to pull the party away from the unpleasant dwarf, and they discussed what their next move should be. Estin asked around about Linech Cran and soon found out that he was a minor ‘import/export facilitator.’ This made her and Qumbarich uncomfortable about accepting his job offer, but they agreed to accompany the others to hear him out.
“It turned out that Linech wanted someone to find out who had sunk the ship that was transporting his daughter Linele’s body for burial and to retrieve the girl’s coffin from the sea bed. His generous offer of payment for completion of the task and seeming disregard for business concerns when it came to his daughter’s rest convinced everyone in the group that this was a task worth doing. They were a bit unnerved, however, to discover from Seanus that Linech had a mysterious backer who had donated enough funds to employ them and buy a new ship. This stranger had also apparently donated a solid gold life-size statue of a warrior to the smuggler and was living in one of the houses in the burrow (the one that had been guarded by gnolls on Leovin’s first visit).
“After a fruitless afternoon of attempting to find out more about the circumstances of Linele’s death and the nature of the shipwreck, the party decided to wait until after their meeting at Castle Shard the following morning to pursue the matter further. Castle Shard has stood at the base of the Spire since time immemorial, at its heart a pulsing shard of pure magic that appears to be an enormous purple crystal. The Lords of Castle Shard at the time of our story were Lord Zavere, a reformed blackguard who hated and hunted the gangsters of the city, and Lady Rill, a fallen paladin who had devoted her life to the art of sorcery. The party’s meeting was with Lord Zavere and Mand Scheben, who had called them there to discuss nothing other than Linech Cran! The group did not know what to make of this staggering coincidence and decided to remain quiet about their involvement with Cran, only agreeing to report back on what purpose Cran had in hiring adventurers. Little did they know that their presence at Castle Shard was not coincidence at all, but had been engineered by a cruel and calculating mind.
“After retrieving Seanus from the Rivergate district, the party made their way to the Docks and asked around about the shipwreck. A fisherman pointed them to where the ship went down and mentioned that several figures in purple and gold robes had fled the burning wreckage. Seanus rowed the group out to the indicated point and gave each of them a potion of water breathing. Then they plunged into the dark, cold depths of the harbor, only the holy light of Teun revealing what lay around them. It was easy to find the ship they sought, but it was guarded by a sahuagin and its pet shark. They managed to slay the beasts, though Estin was stunned badly by one of Bingle’s spells. Qumbarich, who had single-handedly crushed the shark, decided to keep the bodies of their foes as trophies. A miscommunication over his intentions, perhaps due to the warping effect of water on sound, led the party to choose a name for their group: Team Swag Wagon!
“Another sahuagin was dispatched with ease when Bingle used the cold water surrounding him to supercharge a frost spell and froze the creature solid. However, there was no coffin in the wreck, only a few crates of the drug shivvel. Beginning to suspect that their employer had been less than honest with them, the party followed a trail of debris away from the ship to an underwater cave in the coastal cliffs. Inside, they met their match in a giant crab that nearly ripped Qumbarich and Bingle in twain. However, they were saved by a triton and his dolphin companion who had followed them after witnessing their battle with the sahuagin. After a few stabs from the triton’s trident, the crab scuttled back into the depths of the cave.”