Meet the Party…
Captain Danziker was a pirate of legend that braved the Iron Seas. He was a born swindler, escape artist and a man made for the likes of Shadow Port. It is rumored that Danziker even sold his plunder to the Prince himself and made a bargain with the Lich King for safe passage around Necropolis. Those were the good ol’ days. These days Danziker is a captain without a ship, thanks to the rotten Emperor. Most days he can be found on the docks loaded to the gunwales, reeking of rum and digging himself even deeper in the red. Few people believe this sad excuse for a pirate was ever the Danizker of legend. Most simply call him the disgraceful knave…
Gil-adan is a Wood Elf Sorcerer that once served the Emperor as a dragon knight, but was exiled from his Order for disobeying a command. While his relationship with the Emperor remains complicated, he is still held in a positive light among fellow elves in the Court of Stars. In need of a new career in life, Gil-adan studied magic at the Archmage’s College of Magical Theory in Horizon. He then turned to the life of a field academic with backgrounds in history, survival and appraisal of ancient artifacts. Three months ago agents of the Prince of Shadows rescued Gil-adan from a tight spot when the sorcerer stole an ancient artifact belonging to the Lich King. Now the Prince has called upon Gil-adan to pay for the price of his safety…
Krogar is a Half-Orc Fighter that does not belong to this world. He hails from a different realm and would do anything to find his way back home. He has thrown his trust with the Prince of Shadows in hopes the Prince has the resources to send him back home and hide him from the Archmage who is interested in how the half-orc traveled across realities. Back on his home world Krogar was raised in the Shadow Cat Thieves Guild, but stealth never suited him. Breaking free of the thieves guild Krogar became a scout in the Knights of the Storm and discovered his calling as a fighter. He holds the honorable title Hound of the Blood Wolf Tribe. It is unknown what magics brought Krogar to the Dragon Empire, but he hopes his stay is not a long one…
Shadow Port Shuffle
Part 1 – Deep in the Red
The squawk of a hundred seagulls split through Captain Danziker’s skull. The sharp toll of bells did not help either. The old weather-beaten pirate sat up, pushing his tricorn hat off his face and winced at the too-bright morning sun that reflected off the waters surrounding the docks of Shadow Port. When his eyes adjusted the old pirate realized his drinking companion from the night before was still passed out on the dockside bench next to him. His trained hands liberated the gnome’s coin purse. “Many thanks for yer company last night, mate. Fun as it was, it would be a shame not to take this load off yer shoulders. Based on the sum o’ ale ye drank last night ye not be remembering this when ye waken. Off I go now!”
Danziker swayed to his feet and headed towards the streets of Shadow Port. Mighty proud of himself, he tossed the coin purse in this hand to feel the weight of the gold he has just stolen. A frown settled on the pirate’s face when the pouch did not jingle as coins normally do when it landed back in the palm of his hand. Curiously he opened the pouch and inspected the contents. Nestled between a handful of worthless pebbles was a small scroll that read, “Dark Jester at Sundown. The Prince calls on your debt.” A string of colorful curses escaped Danziker’s mouth that would make any seafaring man proud. He spun around to look back towards the docks, but the gnome was gone.
Large green-tinted hands dropped a street thug onto the table of a nearby tavern. The resounding thud the dwarf made when he landed satisfied Krogar the half-orc fighter. Another job complete, another step closer to returning home. The half-orc reached his hand expectantly towards the forgeborn that sat across the table. The forgeborn smiled and produced a single coin from his pocket, passing it across the table. Krogar looked at the coin confused. The currency of these lands was still new to him, but he was certain he was being cheated. “The bounty said 50 gold, not just one coin. Pay up.”
The forgeborn across the table shrugged his shoulders, “I do as the Prince commands. We thank you for your services.” Hauling the unconscious dwarf over this shoulder, the forgeborn gave another smile to the fighter. “We will take care of him. I’d take another look at that coin if I were you. Use it to buy a pint of Golden Ale when you figure it out.” As the forgeborn walked out of the tavern, Krogar flipped the coin and saw the image of a jester with one word scratched into the metal, “Sundown.” Krogar pocketed the coin and walked out onto the streets of Shadow Port. The pirate haven and smuggle town of Shadow Port was still largely unknown to him. He would need help puzzling out the meaning of the coin before the sun set.
Gil’Adan bolted upright in his bed, certain he had heard something. Looking around he found the door and window of the tavern he roomed in for the night remained securely locked. The wood elf was about to dismiss his alarm and drift back to sleep when he noticed a piece of parchment at the end of his bed that should not have been there. Gil-Adan hesitantly picked up the parchment and let his eyes read over the words. ‘Dark Jester at Sundown. Do not be late. Order a pint of Golden Ale. Sorry for borrowing your ink.’ It was upon reading the last sentence that Gil-Adan realized his right arm stung. A razor thin cut six inches long reached up his forearm. The letter was written in blood. His blood. Shakily, the sorcerer pulled on his boots and grabbed his staff. It seemed the Prince had finally come to collect his debt.
Krogar’s contacts in the city had recognized the symbol on the coin as belonging to the Dark Jester tavern, but none were particularly helpful with directions. All they had said was that more than a few bards passing through made it a point to play there. The half-orc grunted. What did he care about where Bards played? He was after a job, nothing more. He felt a tug at his coin purse. Scowling, he spun around and grabbed at the thief behind him ready to knock his teeth out. Instead of a cutpurse Krogar found himself holding onto a small child who looked frightened out of his mind. The child’s mother came running, batting at the half-orc and yelling to remove his hands this instant. Confused, Krogar dropped the kid and backed away. Both the pick-pocket and his coin pouch were gone.
Danziker turned a corner and chuckled to himself. The defenseless child-decoy trick worked every time. For the second time today Danziker found the coin purse he lifted held something strange. The coins in the pouch were gold, but inscribed with no markings he recognized from the Dragon Empire. Oh well, at least they had some value. A few more sovereigns for drinks tonight would serve him well. The old knave turned down one of the hidden alleyways of Shadow Port and found a well-dressed wood elf inspecting a statue of a laughing jester pointing northward. Odd to see such a finely dressed person in these parts, Danziker thought to himself. For a moment he mused over liberating the wood elf’s coin pouch from his person as well, but given his luck today the rogue thought better of it and sauntered on past.
Covering his noise from the stench wafting from the pirate that just walked past, Gil’Adan took another look at the statue. His friends at the Drunken Scholar in the Cloud District had directed him to speak to Ma’iq the Liar, a well-known snitch in Shadow Port. Ma’iq told him very little, but did mention that the jesters knew where the Dark Jester resides. After seeing several statues of jesters all pointing in one direction or another, the wood elf sorcerer decided to follow the trail. Eventually, the jester pointed him in the right direction and he found a small door leading to a basement. A sign above the doorway was covered in grime, but a closer look revealed the image of a shadowy looking jester. Gil-Adan walked in silently and took a seat near a corner. Hopefully he would be able to see his contact before they saw him. It would be a difficult task. The smoke and sweltering heat from the braziers made the rough tavern popular with tieflings & forgeborn. A wood elf would be easily noticed among this crowd.
Building a reputation as someone to be feared was an easy task for Krogar. His time among the Wolf Clan had taught him that. With the sun sinking lowering in the sky the half-orc started letting his sword do the talking for him. It was not long before he had the directions he required and found himself in front of the Dark Jester Tavern. The old door creaked as the half-orc entered. A demon-touched bard was playing a melancholy tune near a fireplace that reminded him of home. Krogar walked up to the bartender and found it run by another female tiefling. “Pint of the Golden Ale.” He reached towards instinctively towards his coin pouch to pay the barkeep, but his face fell flat when he remembered he was dirt broke.
The bartender smiled and placed a dirty mug on the bar. “Don’t worry hunny, it’s on the house. Taps in back, second door on the right.” She gave Krogar a little wink and went back to tending to her other customers. Krogar picked up the mug and walked towards the back. He was followed a moment later by a wood elf dressed in fancy robes.
Danziker entered into the Dark Jester with a broad grin. He flipped a coin to Revka, the bartender. She coyly smiled back at him, “Been too long since you’ve graced the Jester with your presence, Captain.” She slid a pint of Golden Ale across towards him. “Your acquaintances are already in the back. You know the room.” Danziker tipped his hat at the lass and slid another coin across the counter to her. His drinks tonight would be on that half-orc’s dime. Opening the door to the back room, he smiled to himself as he saw the same half-orc within accompanied by the well dressed wood elf from the alleyway. Danziker pulled back a chair, plopped down, and put his feet up on the table. It was going to be an interesting night.
The three sat in silence just looking to one another before a rakishly handsome tiefling entered the room. He smiled wide, “Evening Gentleman… Danziker.” Danziker chuckled, his reputation preceded him. “My name is Samuel Dirrel. You are all here for a similar reason if not for the same cause. Each of you owe a debt, and these debts are being called in. You will be given six tasks to complete in order to settle your debt.” The tiefling poured himself a pint of the golden ale. “The first is a trial run, you might say. A simple snatch and grab that any gutter rat worth his salt should be able to manage.”
Krogar grabbed a chair and leaned forward, “A simple snatch and grab for the Prince? What does that entail?”
Samuel continued. “Have you ever heard of the Winter Seal?”
Clearing his throat, Gil’Adan spoke up, “The Winter Seal is a relic of the Wizard King’s from an age ago. It is said to be given to his lieutenants far and wide as symbols of authority.” Krogar looked uninterested and Danziker busied himself finishing off his ale. Gil’Adan continued with words they might appreciate more, “It is incredibly valuable. A statue of an owl crafted out of obsidian and encrusted with sapphires that are set in silver. Some nobleman in town recently acquired it from a dig he sponsored in the north.”
“Ah hah, a historian! Perhaps there is hope for you after-all. You are correct, in part. Morgan Navale is a man of noble birth if not noble character.” Samuel laughed at his own joke, “But yes indeed, the Winter Seal has found its way to Shadow Port. I would like it to be mine. I believe at least one of you is acquainted with the Navale estate.” Their host looked towards the grinning pirate.
Danziker chuckled. “Madeline was a fine beauty. It weren’t my fault she neglected to mention Morgan was her father.” The look the half-orc and wood elf gave him gave Danziker another chuckle.
Samuel continued, “Yes, Danziker, your familiarity with his estate and vault is one of the reasons why you are here. I will be here at Sundown every day for the next week. If you need any further assistance, I recommend seeking out Lars Redfist. With that, good luck. I shall see you soon.”
As Samuel exited, Krogar spoke up, “Let’s find this Lars fellow. Best to get this done quickly.” The three of them made their way out of the Dark Jester and across town to the Valegate district. Krogar had heard of Lars’ reputation as working both sides of the law. Lars was too well connected for the law or criminal element to afford getting rid of him. When they reached his estate, they found a three story white building towering above the rest of the neighborhood. “This must be it.”
As Krogar moved to set into the building he was stopped by a towring orc guard who demanded he identify himself. Gil-Adan began shifting through his robes to retrieve his travel paperwork, but Danziker brushed past him and clasped the closest guard by the forearm. “Tiny! Be that you?”
“Danziker”, the guard muttered. He looked from the pirate to the two others. “Surely these two aren’t friends of yours.”
Danziker let loose a crooked smile. “We have business inside. Lars owes me a favor or two.”
The guard grunted. “Fine then. Go inside. Just don’t start no trouble.” Danziker tipped his hat and led his two companions inside.
Lars was a rotund dwarf who had a scar across his left cheek. His ample jewelry showed of his wealth and station within the district. “Ah, gentlemen. Mr. Dirrel sent word that you would be coming. I understand you may need some assistance with a small matter soon? For a small fee, of course.”
They party agreed to giving Lars a cut of whatever profits they might obtain as well as collecting any items of interest they may come across. When Lars mentioned that Lord Navalle would be hosting a masquerade ball the next evening, they knew that would be the best time to strike. Danziker knew the vault lay-out from visiting the estate in the past. Gil’Adan volunteered to act as a landed noble from Glitterhagen with Krogar as his dutiful bodyguard for the evening. Lars mentioned a distraction would suit them nicely and Danziker confidently said he could handle it. With a plan in the works, the three set out ready for the job.
It had taken them long into the evening formulating the details of the plan with Lars. When they exited his estate, the moonlight was shrouded out by a heavy thunderstorm. The torches that normally lit the streets of Shadow Port flickered as they fought against the rain. “The Empire’s Blessing, my arse,” Danziker muttered. Gil’Adan offered to put the two up for the night and they made their way to cloud district. As they made their way through the rain slick streets, they were stopped suddenly by a large bare chested Half-Orc stepping out from the shadows.
“Evening blokes,” He cracked his knuckles together, “The name’s Bruiser. Word is you’re after a job. Hand over your plans if you know what’s good for you. We’ll be taking it from here. Get ‘em boys.” At the Bruiser’s words the doors on the balconies above them burst open. Three pairs of Halfling street scum emerged and began raining a barrage of pebbles down at the adventurers.
Not happy to be drawn into a trap, Krogar unleashed his katana and charged at Bruiser. The half-orc wrecker crackled his knuckles and met Krogar head on. Danziker dodged nimbly out of the way of the falling rocks and jumped into the fight. As he danced around Bruiser he swung his cutlass across the half-orc’s side and snitched a piece of parchment from his trousers. The old pirate wasn’t as sly as he thought though and Bruiser noticed, promptly clocking Danziker in the face with a mighty fist.
Gil’Adan had backed off from the melee and began to pull together his arcane energies. When two female elven thieves dressed in red leathers and weilding rapiers stepped out menacingly from the side streets, the sorcerer delayed no longer. Channeling energy through open palm, Gil’Adan let loose a torrent of fire at the newcomers. The fire caught one of the elves head on. The other elven thief frantically dodged out of the way, but had the unfortunate luck to jump directly into Krogar. The fighter twisted and dragged his katana across the elf’s torso. The remaining elf saw the dire situation her fellow gang members were in and retreated back down the alley. There was no profit in death and little honor among thieves.
Danziker started seeing red as the bruiser continued to pummel him with his brass knuckles. The rogue rolled with the blows as best as he could, but he wasn’t as young as he used to be. “Sink me! Why didn’t we hire a blasted healer?!” Just when the bruiser was ready to land another blow a katana thrust through the half-orc’s chest. As Bruiser fell to the floor, Krogar assumed a defensive stance to ward off the hail of rocks from above. Gil’Adan sent a torrent of destructive energy towards the balconies above. The halflings that had occupied them crashed to the floor, unconscious or dead.
The elven thief Krogar has injured before was sputtering on the floor, weeping for mercy. “Get up,” Krogar said as he pointed his blood covered blade at his chest. “Who sent you? You’ll talk if you know what’s good for you.”
“Please don’t kill me! Bruiser made us do it! He got orders and said we needed to follow,” The elf looked completely over her head. She pointed to the slip of paper Danziker had in his hand. The pirate unfurled the note and saw it was signed with only the initial ‘M’. “Please spare me! I can help you!”
Sliding his katana up to the elf’s throat, Krogar stated, “You live today. Your life is mine.”
Danziker was inspecting a fine looking dagger he had picked up from one of the falling halfling thugs and turned towards Krogar. “Are you sure? We can’t be risking more news of our plan leaking out. Dead men tell no tales.”
Krogar brushed Danziker off and glared at the elven thief. “You’ll serve us as we see fit. Now go tell your friends we are not to be trifled with.” The elf shakily nodded. When Krogar sheathed his weapon, he got up and disappeared into the shadows.
Gil-Adan began talking openly about how they would need to change their plans and wait until after the party to make their move. It took the other two a moment to realize he was speaking loud enough to be within earshot of the fleeing elf in an effort to mislead any informants the elf would report to later. No one in this town could truly be trusted. When a few moments past the sorcerer dropped his voice, “Let’s go. We have work to do.”
In the morning, Danziker muttered something about needing some tools before departing. Gil spent his day preparing his character and costume. When they were ready, Krogar and Gil approached Navelle manor. When the guard asked for their name and title, Gil proudly proclaimed, “Ser Goldenhair of Glitterhagan.” The guard checked a list and nodded to another guard. He came up and wrapped an ornate ribbon around the hilt of Krogar’s blade. “Its a security measure. Do not unsheathe your blade, do not break the ribbon, and we got no problems.”
Gil-Adan walked past the gates and Krogar followed. As they made their way up the hillside to the manor, they barely noticed the shadowy blur of black in the bushes to the left. Danziker had scaled the wall and was making his way onto the second floor, as per the plan. As Krogar opened the door for Gil, he gave a curt nod in the rogue’s direction. In the bushes, Danziker tipped his tricorne hat and quickly made his way up the lattice work to the second floor.
Inside the main ballroom, Gil made his way to the far side of the estate. The map that Lars had given them showed the fault across a pool in the center of the grounds. As Gil and Krogar settled themselves near one of the doors awaiting the distraction, a dwarf with a monocle strode up to them followed by a knight in shining armor. “Good Evening, sir, my name is Marwyn Baran.” He extended a hand, which Gil took and introduced himself as Lord Goldhair. “Tell me, Lord, have you heard of the Winter Seal? I was just telling Sir Ward Rokat here that I was the very one to recover the artifact. It is a priceless antiquity; Lord Navalle should be very pleased at his possession.” As Marwyn ranted endlessly about the statue and its history, Krogar kept an eye on the guards outside. Very soon, the guards would change and Danziker’s distraction should keep them busy.
Upstairs, Danziker had just made his way into Lord Navelle’s private quarters. While Lars’ map would be handy to most, Danziker already knew his way around the manor. He had had certain illicit affairs with the Lord’s daughter in the past. It was from his previous visits to the manor that he knew just the distraction the party needed. The Lord here liked to keep a locket at his desk as one of many displays of his wealth. Bloody fool had no idea the locket belonged to the Lich King’s banshees, but Danziker did. He picked up the locket and grabbed a few of the Lord’s papers from his desk. Carefully making his way to the window, he leaned out then threw the locket back inside. It smashed against the wall and a horrible wailing broke outward. The wail of the banshees continued to echo through the grounds as Danziker leapt out the window to the bushes below.
The entire ballroom was distracted with the unearthly wailing coming from upstairs. As numerous guests covered their ears, the guards of the chamber and grounds ran to investigate the disturbance. Krogar tapped Gil on the shoulder and the two quickly made their way on to the grounds and to the vault. Nobody would blame guests for getting as far from the wailing as possible. When they got to the vault, they saw two guards posted outside the main doorway. When one looked away, the other quickly fell to his knees. Before the guard could turn back, Danziker leapt from the shadows and clubbed him across the head with a sap.
Gil’Adan stopped and looked back to the estate. If the guards would see anyone near the vault entrance, they would only see a guest waiting for the wailing to cease. While Krogar propped the two unconscious guards against the vault, Danziker applied his thieves tools to the vault door. Despite the rogue’s assurances that the vault could be open, he did not seem to have any luck. Loosing his patience, Krogar shoved Danziker aside and drew upon his experience being raised among a thieves guild to try his luck at the lock. The doors clicked open just as Danziker’s tools snapped. Krogar grabbed the weapons off the guards, thinking they may come in handy. The three made their way inside. With time bearing down on them, Danziker lead the way and kept his eyes out for traps. He deftly disabled a spear and dart trap before they found themselves at the main vault room.
Sitting in the center of the room was the Winter Seal – A obsidian statue of an owl encrusted with sapphires and rubies. Gil knew it’s description from Marwyn’s endless blathering. Danziker made a show of inspecting the room as he surreptitiously made his way to a lockbox bearing the Prince’s seal. Thinking it may be a gift, he opened it and found an another set of thieves tools. How the Prince knew Danziker would be needed a new set was a mystery. Looking back to the pedestal in the center of the room he saw Gil’Adan inspecting the pedastal the seal sat upon. “There is magic here. I suspect the pedestal is set to an alarm. It will take time to disarm this, time I’m afraid we have little of. ”
Krogar carefully walked up to the platform. “Then we do what we came here to do. Snatch and Run.” Before his companions could object, the fighter snatched the statue from the pedestal and ran toward the vault exit. Several loud bells started ringing as the three made their way out of the vault and on to the grounds. “This way!” Krogar pointed to the bushes, with Danziker already several steps ahead of them. They had planned this escape route with the preparations Lars had given them.
Danziker leapt over the wall first and landed on to the cobblestone street. A twang was all the warning he had before he felt a bolt puncture his calf. Looking up, he saw three ruffians shrouded in purple cloaks. Each had a crossbow trained on him. “Hand over the Winter Seal and nobody gets hurt.”
Danziker thought fast, “Ye shot me an’ yer claiming nobody will get hurt?! Yer supposed to be the relief, ye bloody fool!” When the closest ruffian looked at him confused, Danziker pressed on. “I wager by the color of yer cloaks that ye be the Purple Lotus clan. I bet yer were even told to be at this spot to make sure the Prince received the seal. Listen, the guards will be here any moment. The Prince needs this statue and yer here to handle the guards.” The ruffian’s allies lowered the crossbows and looked to their boss.
Before the boss could make sense of what was going on, Krogar and Gil came over the wall. In the distance, the sound of clanking armor announced the coming of the guards. Danziker pointed to the purple robed figures, “The Prince be kind enough ta send relief. Time to make our exit, smartly now!” The pirate quickly hobbled down the street, cursing the bolt in his leg.
The lead ruffian shouted out to Danziker but Krogar quickly ran up to him. The fighter shoved the guards weapons with broken peace ribbons in the leader’s hands. Whispering, he stated, “The Prince takes care of his own.” Krogar turned to the oncoming guards who had just spotted them. “Help! These men just robbed the manor!” As Gil and Krogar beat feet after Danziker, Gil uttered a quick thank you to the bewildered rogues.
The leader of the Purple Lotus looked at the oncoming guards and cursed. If this was a trick, someone would pay dearly for it later…
Gil-Adan, Krogar and Danziker laid low for the evening and most of the next day. When sundown approached, they carefully made their way back to the Dark Jester Tavern. True to his word, Samuel Direll was waiting for them in the back room. “Welcome back. I understand congratulations are in order.” He got to his feet and held out his hands. Danziker reluctantly placed the jewel encrusted statue in his hands. “Many thanks. I understand the Purple Lotus may think the Prince owes them a favor? You’re quite the smooth talker.”
Danziker stretched his arms wide, “I be a captain, afterall.”
Gil-Adan sighed. “Scallywag, scoundrel, disgraceful knave more like it, but you served your purpose. We all did.”
Samuel smiled, “Indeed, my employer is pleased.” Samuel looked at the owl statue again then abruptly smashed it against the table. He brushed the remains aside and pulled out a small parchment with a map on it. Gil-Adan caught just enough of the map to make out what he knew to be Necropolis. How curious. Samuel pocketed the map and turned to leave. “You can keep the scraps. The Prince isn’t interested in that tonight. He has more interesting plans. I’ll be in touch.” With that the tiefling was gone.
Player feedback – “Great game session. Loads of fun!”