In Sassarine, each character received a letter, hand delivered by a wizened-looking halfling named Kora. We are invited to meet with Lady Vanderboren. Kora awaits the reply of each of the party members, and informs them of the appropriate time to meet.
Vanderboren Manor is located in the eastern section of the Merchant District; the seven-foot-high stone wall that surrounds the estate is impossible to miss, as is the towering, gothic, three-story house that dominates the grounds within. Leering gargoyles and capering nymphs festoon the eaves of the manor’s roof, and several trees give the manor grounds a nice buffer from the bustle of the city. After a few moments, a familiar face answers the door; the same wizened Halfling woman answers the door. She asks the group to wait in the atrium, claiming Lady Vanderboren shall be with them shortly.
Just before being called into the private dining hall, four figures emerge from the hall and head toward the group. Kora races behind these figures, which include a jaunty male half-elf dressed in leather armor and armed with a half-dozen daggers of different shapes, a dark-skinned dwarf with a sour expression dressed in green and brown robes and clutching a large curved spear, an attractive but haughty-looking woman dressed in dark purple robes and with a tattoo of a crescent moon on one cheek, and lastly, a tall and handsome man dressed in polished breastplate carrying a bastard sword.
The other party passes by the group, but the one wearing the breastplate stops a moment to size up the group “Hmm, you must be the help Lavinia’s bringing in to do the chores. Best of luck to ya!” After a bit of conversation it is revealed that they too are in the employ of Lavinia and on a mission to Cauldron for her.
The group is then invited into the private dining hall. The dining hall is comfortable and cozy, softly lit by wall-mounted lanterns. A window overlooks the manor’s central courtyard where the group first met, and the carpet is thick and soft. A large portrait hangs on the wall, a fine work depicting a handsome young man with a short beard. Standing before the portrait is an attractive human woman wearing a long, flowing blue dress. She smiles as the group enters, introducing herself as Lavina Vanderboren.
“As you may have heard, I recently inherited my parents’ estate. Along with this fine house, unfortunately, came a fine amount of debt owed the Dawn Council, the harbormaster, and quite a few guildhalls. It seems my parents, for all their success as adventurers, were not as skilled at finance as one might expect. If I’m to get these taxes paid, I’ll need to access my family’s vault under Castle Teraknian.
And that’s the problem, you see. The vaults are magically locked—keyed to special signet rings. Both of my parents had these rings, at least, until recently. My mother lost hers a few months ago. She arranged for a replacement, but it won’t be done for another month or so, too late for me. Which leaves me with my father’s ring. He never wore it—he had a thing about men wearing jewelry. He kept it hidden somewhere on his ship, the Blue Nixie. The problem there is that the harbormaster’s seized the ship until someone pays for the last four months of mooring. I’ve paid the fines to the man the harbormaster’s put in charge of my ship, a brute named Soller Vark. Yet when I went to claim my ship, Vark’s men wouldn’t let me board, claiming I hadn’t yet paid the fines. I spoke to Vark again, and he denied ever receiving my payment. My complaints to the harbormaster have fallen on deaf ears—he’s a doddering old fool who trusts his man and won’t relent.
Vark and his men are up to something on my ship, I know it. What I need is to find out exactly what there’re up to. Unfortunately, Vark’s not the type to react well to diplomacy of logic. I need someone who speaks his language… which is where you come in. If you can find out what he’s using my ship for, or even better, recover the money I paid him, I’ll pay each of you 200 gold in return once I’ve access to my vault.
What say you?”
The group after some negotiating agrees to aid her for 300 gold, and to not throw the first punch. Also they are to keep the Vanderboren name out of any discussions if comes to violence.
The group went to the harbormaster of Sasserine, a large, sickly man who seemed to be buried in paperwork and not terribly interested in what was happening on the Blue Nixie. He did peer through his telescope and see the ship being loaded in the middle of the night, but stood by his man Soller Vark as being an upstanding and respected member of his team. Besides, he hasn’t the resources to investigate every complaint, thanks to the Dawn Council turning down his budget requests. The party left in disgust.
Just outside the Harbormaster’s office the group stumbles—literally—upon a dragonborn Paladin. He is so well mannered that the group offer to buy him his meal. It turns out he is a long way from home, with few prospects for honorable employment. The group spin their quest to retrieve a ring as gallantly helping a Lady and Zakar joins the Company.
The group decides to check things out tonight to see what is going on. After securing information that the ship is docked at pier five in the Merchant District (the long one between the Merchant’s Guildhall and the Smith’s Guildhall). Alas, upon arrival it becomes apparent that the Blue Nixie is not docked at the pier at all, but in fact moored to a float about 100 feet from the pier’s end.
The party rents a rowboat tied up to the dock and rows out toward the ship to confirm that it is indeed the Blue Nixie and try to get a closer look. The party row stealthily to the boat and start climbing aboard. Three climb up but the fourth is spotted by the watchman. The watchman shouts an alarm, followed by the ship flooding with men from below not long afterwards. A melee ensues. In the midst of combat, Soller called down into the hold “Burn them, burn them all!” which was followed by smoke and the sounds of screeching animals. Not long after that, there was a loud crash, a eerie high pitched shriek, and then a woman’s scream (who was down in the hold). Soller was cut down while trying to make his escape.
What was down in the hold quickly revealed itself. The creature, a Rhagodessa, thought to be extinct until recently, is a prehistoric ancestor to the monstrous spiders found in the jungles to the south. Only in recent times have the been spotted again, and then only in the possession of smugglers. It was surrounded and destroyed.
After a search of the ship, a bag was found containing 100 pp, likely Lavinina’s payment to the harbormaster, as well as a Signet ring bearing the Vanderboren family crest, and a scrap of rolled up parchment threaded through the ring.
Chimera looks to sunrise.
Cyclops looks to sunset.
Medusa looks to sunrise.
Umber Hulk looks to sunset.
Basilisk looks to sunrise.
The party bed down on the Nixie for a good night’s sleep. Next morning, Edbek stays on the ship to guard it while the rest of the party tells Lady Vanderboren the good news.