A well-dressed Halfling wearing a feathered hat hummed as he paged through a guest list. “Welcome to the Crown and Gown mage Gil’Adan, master Ragnar, swordsman Krogar and captain Danz-zi-ziker.” The Halfling choked out the last name in disbelief and raised an eyebrow at the unkempt pirate. The Crown and Gown was a luxurious upscale establishment off the main boulevard visited by the wealthiest people in Shadow Port, but the Halfling knew better than to question those on the list. Regaining his composure, the Halfling put on his best smile and tucked the guest list under his arm. “A private suite has been arranged for you. If you would please follow me.”
Krogar’s jaw dropped open as he entered the private suite. A long table filled with exotic fruits, roasted meats, and fresh baked bread lay before them. The Halfling that led them here was busily pulling aside a thick velvet curtain that revealed a balcony overlooking the main tavern and dance floor of the Crown and Gown below. “The food and drink are already paid for, so please make good use of our kitchens this evening. If you have any need of my services, simply wave me down and I will be at your disposal immediately.” With an elegant bow the Halfling took his leave.
Gil’Adan smiled pleasantly at the luxurious accommodations. “Most impressive. I was unaware Shadow Port has such style.” The wood elf sorcerer pulled open a set of glass pane doors that led to another balcony that overlooked the main boulevard. Immediately the sounds of the Sailor’s Festival going on below filled the private suite. Danziker had explained on the way over that the Sailor’s Festival was an annual tradition in Shadow Port to celebrate the change in seasons and honor the folk that lived off the sea for their trades kept the town alive. Even the mayor of Shadow Port has commissioned fireworks and a special parade to celebrate the occasion this year. Now that Gil’Adan stood on a balcony overlooking the streets he got a better look of the festival. Even though there were plenty of sights to see below, Gil’Adan’s eyes were drawn to a balcony farther up the street. There stood the unmistakable figure of Lady Goldenhair of Glitterhagen. A woman of her stature would of course be holding a private party during the festival. Word on the street was that she was staying in town looking for someone to track down a family heirloom. The woman was a curiosity to him and he decided he would speak to her more about it later.
Gil’Adan was still staring at Lady Goldenhair when Krogar walked out onto the balcony with a turkey leg in hand. It seemed like the whole town was out to celebrate the Sailor’s Return festival, but the half-orc had his doubts that they were summoned here just to celebrate. Captain Danziker had taken great enjoyment on their way over to the Crown and Gown pointing out people in the crowd that he claimed were dressed in costume to be him, pirate of legend, but Krogar privately kept to himself that he did not see the resemblance. Now that he was overlooking the streets though he swore he saw another man that looked identical to Danziker for a moment, not just in garb but in facial features too. How strange. About a mile up the boulevard the first few floats of the approaching parade could be seen.
Ragnar lingered in the room, never much one for crowds. When he heard the door to the party’s private suite click open he half-turned expecting to see their Halfling host returning, but instead his trained eyes saw a shadow enter the room. The lamps wavered from a small gust of wind. The shadow detached itself from the wall and took on a vaguely humanoid form in front of Ragnar. In its hand was a note. While others might cower at the sight, Ragnar had seen such tricks before in his service to the Black and calmly took the note. As soon as he took it the shadow dissipated into thin air.
The assassin cleared his throat to get the others’ attention. Danziker who was busy sampling the free ale turned away from the table of refreshments. When Gil’Adan and Krogar joined them from the balcony, Ragnar read the note aloud, “Your next task will test your cunning. You will steal the Darkskye Diamond from the Emperor’s float in the parade. This is the only time that the Diamond is not under heavy guard in one of the Archmage’s vaults. Upon obtaining the Diamond, you are to return it here at the Crown and Gown retired dragon hunter named Shez-a-Kah. Do not fail me.” Ragnar noticed there was no signature, only the mark of a shadowy heart.
Gil’Adan gasped, “The parade is already here!” At that moment, a brilliant flash of light exploded outside. The fireworks had begun.
Danziker threw his tankard of ale to the floor and gave a crooked smile. “Now then, no time for scheming Gents! Time fer us to snatch a diamond!” Before the others could object the pirate bolted for the balcony and leapt off. Mid leap he grabbed one of the many cloth banners decorating the streets and swung onto a nearby rooftop.
Krogar went to leap after the pirate, but missed his landing and fell onto some poor woman’s balcony. After the woman smacked him around the head with a purse, the Half-Orc scampered up the building’s wall to follow Danziker’s path along the rooftops. Thankfully the crowd below was distracted by the parade to notice two figures running along the rooftops.
”He’s a lot more nimble than he looks,” Gil-Adan remarked about Danziker as he watched two of his companions depart. Rooftop running wasn’t exactly an appealing path, Gil’Adan thought. He looked to the boulevard below crowded with countless citizens and trade stands. “There must be another way around the crowd.”
“There is,” Ragnar stepped up onto the balcony and gestured to the sorcerer, “Through the alleyways, I know a path. Follow me.” The rogue vaulted down on to the streets below, followed quickly by Gil. The two muscled through the crowd to one of the less crowded alleyways. Ragnar’s background as an assassin meant he was unaccustomed to traveling with others and he quickly found Gil’Adan slowed him down. The rogue was too busy looking behind him for Gil to notice when a food cart wheeled out onto the street in front of him. The cart owner’s shout was enough to alarm the rogue to try to leap over the cart, but in his hurry he mistakenly placed his hand in a basin of hot oil, burning himself. Gil came running up and apologized to the cart owner on behalf of his companion. “No time for courtesies,” Ragnar hissed as he grabbed Gil by the arm and continued towards the Darkskye Diamond.
Captain Danziker felt alive. It was a pirate’s nature to chase after treasure and the Darkskye Diamond was a thing of beauty. The last mission with the mushrooms and cultists was downright disturbing, but this was something he lived for. And having his own ship again, but that would come soon enough. Danziker had no plan other than be the first one to reach the diamond. With sure footing that came from years of practice upon rocky boats, he landed an especially difficult jump between buildings that separated an alleyway. Behind him Krogar attempted the same jump, but the half-orc’s brute size worked against him. Part of the roof tiles gave way under Krogar’s feet and he tumbled into the streets below.
Ragnar noticed that the parade route had made a turn away from the boulevard. The unmistakable shine from the Darkskye diamond glimmered in the distance, showing the float had already made the turn. GIl’Adan stood next to him in dismay. Even with the parade moving off the main street it would be unavoidable not being seen with the crowds, “We’re going to be seen stealing an item that’s the center of attention in this parade. We need a disguise.” Ragnar turned towards Gil’Adan and said nothing. Gil looked at his companion and realized he had just spoken to someone dressed in black leather with a dark hood and mask. “Well, I need one!”
Gil’Adan was hurriedly handing a merchant overseeing a costume booth coin to purchase a bandana to obscure his face when a large green figure dropped out of the sky, shattering the booth. Masks, bandanas and scarves flew everywhere. Krogar grunted as Ragnar and Gil’Adan pulled him up off the ground. The booth had absorbed the impact of his fall and he had thankfully avoided any grievous wounds. Ignoring the shouts of the merchant, Krogar turned to his companions. Another series of fireworks erupted above. “I have an idea. Gil, follow me. Ragnar, get to the float. And find the pirate too!” Before he ran off he picked up an ogre magi mask from the ground. It would come in handy.
Swinging across the street on another banner, Danziker surveyed the crowds below. Seeing a flamboyantly red pirate costume hat in the crowd, he snatched it off the wearer’s head as he swung buy. He quickly replaced it with his own before resuming his run along the rooftops. As he closed in on the float, he spotted a cloaked figure hunched over on an opposing rooftop concealed in a familiar looking purple cloak. It seemed the adventurers were not the only ones after the diamond.
The firework launcher was operated by two soot-covered dwarves. Krogar approached them and took his most intimidating stance, “By the governer’s orders, we have need of this equipment immediately!” The dwarves doubled over in laughter before Krogar realized he was still wearing the ridiculous Ogre Magi mask. As the dwarves were distracted watching Krogar, Gil’Adan quietly moved to the machine. The sorcerer kicked out one of its supports and pulled the lever, watching as the fireworks shot over the building and barely above the crowd on the other side.
The purple cloaked figure had just noticed Danziker and aimed his crossbow at the pirate when an explosion rocked the street. The citizens below panicked and ran in every direction at once, grinding the parade to a halt. The purple cloaked figure saw his chance at surprise was blown and yelled out, “Purple Lotus, let’s take out the competition!” Danziker saw twelve other figures step up from balconies and train their crossbows in his direction. The pirate dove off the rooftop, grabbed another banner and swung onto the nearest float… which happened to be the Emperor’s float with the Darkskye diamond. At the Purple Lotus clan fired their crossbows after him the guards surrounding the float pulled their weapons. Already alarmed from the explosion, they thought they were under attack. One guard grabbed Danziker, but with his overly flamboyant costumed hat the sly knave played an innocent festival performer who had landed at the wrong place at the wrong time. The guard let go of Danziker and turned to what he perceived as a more immediate threat: the Purple Lotus clan. Danziker smiled. He couldn’t have planned such a perfect distraction better if he had tried.
Ragnar saw Krogar and Gil emerge from the alleyway and beckoned them over. Only a few feet away from the Darkskye Diamond float they looked on in disbelief as the situation with Danziker and the Purple Lotus clan unfolded. Gil’Adan looked at Krogar and shrugged. “He may be unbearable as a comrade, but he’s resourceful. I’ll get us past the guards. You and Ragnar grab the diamond.” The three of them pushed forward. When they approached the float Gil’Adan pulled out a medallion bearing an official seal of the Emperor, a token of his days as a dragon rider. “We are members of the Azure Guard, secret police sent by the Archmage! He sent us to aid the Emperor in protecting it from harm!” Two guards looked to each other then back at Gil’Adan and nodded. The distraction from the Purple Lotus had them completely confused and they seemed thankful for the help.
Krogar leapt up onto the float and looked at the diamond in shock. He was still new to these lands and his companions had neglected to mention the Darkskye Diamond was two feet across and glowing with magical energy. There was no way he would be able to carry it through the streets discreetly. Ragnar moved beside him and threw his cloak over the diamond, “Grab it and run!” the rogue hissed. Krogar hefted the diamond over his back and leapt from the float as purple lotus crossbow fire hailed down on them. Ragnar joined him a moment later, followed by Gil’Adan and Danziker. As the four of them beat a hasty retreat, Gil’Adan noticed that the two guards he had tricked earlier were following distantly behind them with shields raised, obviously hoping to help safeguard the diamond.
What with the confusion caused by the Purple Lotus ambush, the party met very little trouble as they ran through the alleyways of Shadow Port. Ragnar shouted out, “I know a guy up ahead who will harbor us! Take a right!”
Gil’Adan shouted back, “No, we can’t use anyone who knows us. Head back to Lady Goldenhair’s private residence.” Krogar nodded his head and took a left down the alleyway. They reached the estate in no time and ducked inside before anyone else on the street might notice them. Krogar set the cloak containing the Darkskye diamond down on the floor, realizing that the magical energies of the diamond had burnt his arms and back. As a butler approached them, Gil confidently stated, “We’re here concerning the Lady’s request for anyone with information on the Goldenhair legacy. Let your ladyship know we’re here and waiting.” When the two guards from the float looked confusedly at the sorcerer, Gil’Adan tried to cover his tracks. “It’s our cover. Guard the front door. Reinforcements will be arriving shortly.” The guards bought the lie and turned to guard the door. When the two guards were distracted, Gil quietly motioned to his companions and they made their way quietly through the estate and out a back door. It was only another block and before they made it back to the Crown and Gown.
Ragnar looked into the crowd and noticed Shez-a-Kah leaning against balcony overlooking the dance floor. When he grabbed hold of Krogar to point her out, the fighter snarled under his breath, “We’ve got company.” Sure enough, eight burly looking thugs stood up from tables and drew a variety of wicked looking weapons. On the far side of the room two elven bounty hunters stood and drew their bows. Not even Danziker could smooth talk them out of this situation. As the music continued to play, the adventurers readied their weapons and prepared to defend the diamond.
Danziker was the first to move. He leapt onto a nearby table sending plates and cups flying into one of the thug’s face. As the thug was off balance, the pirate slashed his cutlass across the man’s throat, carrying his swing into another. As the two bounty hunters readied their arrows, Ragnar twisted his cloak and disappeared into the shadows. As Krogar barreled into another pair of thugs, knocking them over, an arrow took him in the leg. The impact of the arrow made him stumble and drop the Darkskye diamond behind the bar.
Gil’Adan started pulling arcane energy together, feeling the pure energy from the Darkskye Diamond flow into him. The sorcerer was too concerned with the enemies inside the Crown and Gown that he made the mistake of exposing his back to the door. The door slammed open and a menacing figure entered the bar. As Gil’Adan turned he saw the figure was dressed in armor head to foot and was covered in a purple cloak with a hood. When the figure spoke his voice was deep and raspy, “You’ve down well, but you’ve caused my clan enough trouble! Now you face the Shredder!”
On cue, members of the Purple Lotus clan poured into the Crown and Gown. One of them saw the Diamond behind the bar and ran to seize it. He was met by Krogar’s blade as the half-orc fighter vaulted over the bar to protect his prize.
Meanwhile Danziker had tipped the table he had vaulted upon over to protect him from any arrows the bounty hunters might aim his way, but the bounty hunters were too busy fending off members of the Purple Lotus clan to bother Danziker. It seemed no one wanted to share the Darkskye Diamond and everyone was open game. Thugs turned on the clan members which thankfully meant less foes immediately threatened his companions. The only one not partaking in the brawl was Shez-a-Kah who looked on in amusement. A throwing dagger sunk deep into the flipped over table mere inches from Danziker’s head and brought the pirate’s attention back on the fight. The pirate pulled the dagger out and laughed as he threw it back at his assailant. “I love me a good ol’ fashion ballroom blitz!”
The Shredder swung a jagged sword down into Gil’Adan’s shoulder. Gil’Adan cried out and turned his outstretched hand into the man’s face. A torrent of frost engulfed the Shredder just as Ragnar reappeared behind him. The rogue skillfully slid his knife into the leader’s back, using his sneak attack to his advantage. The Purple Lotus clan leader snarled and threw the rogue off him. He was a feared figure in Shadow Port, but the combined critical blows from the sorcerer and rogue weakened him. He lashed out in rage at the two, but struggled to fend off their combined attacks. Worse yet, his clan members seemed to be faring even worse against the other two adventurers. When a free moment presented itself the Shredder pulled a black vial from his belt. “This isn’t over!” he hissed as he threw the vial on the ground near his feet. When the smoke cleared, he had vanished.
After the Shredder retreated, the party made quick work of the remaining foes. Krogar threw the remaining thug against the wall who then crumpled to the floor. The fighter looked to Danziker who was nursing a black eye as he sat atop an unconscious purple lotus thief and bounty hunter. The pirate looked like he has seen better days, but was cheerfully waving a piece of parchment in the air, “Lookie what I found. A Shadow Port map marking the Purple Lotus’ lair. Might come in handy one day.”
Krogar shrugged, having no intent on seeking revenge tonight. He bound his wounds as best he could and retrieved the Darkskye Diamond from behind the bar. Shez-a-Kah was still waiting silently on a balcony above. All four of party members, exhausted and nursing wounds still fresh from the brawl, climbed up the stairs to the second private suit. The fierce looking half-elven woman greeted them as they walked in, “Nice work you did down there boys. I was hoping I’d be paying you and not some Lotus thug tonight.” When none of them made a reply, she smiled. “You’ve had a long night, and I thank you for your services. The diamond, please?” Krogar dropped the diamond to the floor with a thud.
Shez-a-Kah handed Krogar a sealed note with the Prince of Shadow’s black seal upon it. Inside was a key with a note saying the party had unlimited access to food and drink to the Crown and Gown for life. The note also contained instructions to go to a drinking establishment called the Crimson Goddess to meet a gnome women named Brita Halfhand in one week’s time. When the party looked up both Shez-a-Kah and the Darkskye Diamond had vanished.
GM Note – This adventure was amazing. My group took to the impromptu planning with gusto, bringing in Purple Lotus clan again, Oni masks, Firework launchers, and more. To keep the high energy going while retrieving the diamond, I put off a lot of the fights and combine them into one big bar room brawl at the end. Murder on the Dance Floor was the perfect fight chart to have thugs, bounty hunters, clan members and the adventurers in an all out fight over the prized Darkskye Diamond. The Fight Chart was adjusted to add the Purple Lotus clan to the enemies side. The psychic caster and rival thieves were used on the Purple Lotus side. The rival monk was not used so that clan boss could be added, cue the TMNT reference. Since the hired thug mooks were on their own side their numbers were bumped up from the outlined five to eight. The bounty hunter’s weighted rope attack was changed to a long bow attack and the rival thugs from crossbows to throwing daggers to fit the miniatures on the table. Shez-a-kah is written as a tiefling, but way back in Crown of the Lich King part 2 we changed the former dragon hunter’s race to a Half-Elf so we stuck wit it. This adventure was a blast to run and one of the best sessions we have had to date.