Tales From Janus Valley

Back into the Fray

The Mobster, the Magistrate, and the Monster

It seemed like the party had been waiting for Krisella to return for months.

Bored of that, and lacking anything better to do, they headed for their old lodgings at the Goldleaf Inn. While the rest of the party wearily trudged upstairs to sleep it off, Zed and Dashiel stayed down in the common room, regaling the patrons with tales of their otherworldly adventures. It seemed that the party had been presumed dead in the intervening months. A welcoming crowd bought round after round for the thirsty heroes, and the two celebrated well into the night.

Unexpectedly, a handful of burly types cornered the heroes. They were members of the notorious Wharf Rats gang, and wanted to collect on a bounty that had been placed on the heroes’ heads. Zed warned the three hoods to hassle someone else, but when diplomacy failed, he sent one of the heavies hurtling across the room with a ki punch. Realizing they’d perhaps underestimated their marks, the remaining Rats rapidly capitulated, and the duo demanded answers from them.

It seems in the past few months, a major player had entered the scene in Maynard’s Crossing‘s criminal underbelly. He called himself Mr. Killgrave, and he was doing a big business on the docks. Smuggling, contraband artifacts, and protection were his stock in trade, and he’d placed a considerable bounty on the party’s heads. The two heroes decided to be proactive, and demanded their would-be assailants take them to Killgrave’s hideout.

Warehouse 37 on Wharf Row looked fairly unassuming. The low-slung building was boarded up, but dim lights between the boards and the sound of heavy objects being moved suggested something sinister was going on inside. Over their criminal guides’ protests, Dashiel and Zed posed as prisoners to slip into the crimelord’s lair.

Inside, The wiry shadar-kai emerged from the back of his workshop, pleasantly surprised that his lackeys had managed to subdue two of the heroes. When the two threw off their “captors,” the Kingpin ordered two henchmen to open the ominously large crate in the center of the workshop. Dashiel shot them both dead. The loss of his grand unveiling seemed to genuinely disappoint Mr. Killgrave, and he activated his trump card remotely. From inside the oversized crate, a ragged metal golem emerged, sporting a wicked looking attachment that launched lighting.

The battle was wickedly fierce. In a fight that torched a good portion of the warehouse, both Dashiel and Zed found themselves bruised and bloody. After an all-out slugfest, Zed cracked the golem’s hull, and Dashiel fired the lethal shot that blew the golem into twisted shards. During the fracas, Mr. Killgrave had disappeared, giving the party time to scavenge for valuables. They gave chase as the wily crime lord disappeared into the storm drains under the city.

He led the duo on a merry chase, at times seeming to be both a few steps ahead and several steps behind them. The chase finally ended at a dead end in an overflow cistern. As the two tried to figure out how he’d vanished seemingly into thin air, they heard the door behind them heave shut, and Mr. Killgrave’s voice, thanking them for playing.

Working together, the pair managed to reach a grate in the ceiling. As they worked to get it open, the racket drew the attention of a weaselly little man. He called himself Vikus, and claimed to be a friend of Krisella Blackwood‘s. In as vague terms as possible, he asked the two to go see the magistrate in an effort to recover some merchandise she had “obtained” for him. He told them that his employer, a mister Red Tom, was coming into town shortly, and was none too happy about both the loss of his merchandise and Mr. Killgrave’s impediments on his not-entirely-legal business. The party agreed, hoping to avoid an all-out turf war.

But Magistrate Krisella wasn’t accomodating. Hiding behind a gang of foreign mercenary bodyguards, her assistant kept them at bay with vague promises of a later meeting and seemed overly curious about where the party was staying. The two gave him no answers and returned to the Goldleaf Inn. There, sporting a new red-haired look and a face-concealing bandanna, was the real Krisella Blackwood, having performed some surveillance on the Magistrate that wore her face.

Overcoming some trust issues, the party worked out the facts: in the months since the party disappeared to do Eternity‘s dirty work, an individual impersonating Krisella Blackwood had taken advantage of her and the heroes’ good reputation to get elected Magistrate. The imposter, (hereafter dubbed “Falsella,”) acted very cagey in public, and had slipped away from her bodyguards during a disturbance before being set upon by a shapeshifting assassin, who she dispatched before vanishing down an empty alleyway. Zed confronted her with what they’d learned from Vikus about her shady background, and the party came to a newfound understanding about trustworthyness. Exhausted from the late hour, the party collapsed into their beds.

The next day was spent retracing footsteps. While no one could find a trace of either Falsella or Mr. Killgrave, they found that they shared an unexpected link: the spots from which both had disappeared featured an inconspicuous clay tile etched with an unidentifiable rune. The party took the runes to the curio seller Azir. The deva couldn’t ID them, but told the group to come back later, after closing time, and he’d try to find them answers. In the meantime, Zed and Dashiel infiltrated Falsella’s mansion, and found a library’s worth of pored-over law books, some well-weathered fighting armor, and a small fortune in a sack under the bed, which Dashiel swiped. As night closed around the party, they returned to The Curiosityworks, only to find that the door had been smashed down.

Inside, the shop was being ransacked by a hideous creature. It stood nearly eight feet tall, with a bony exterior and sickening tendony limbs. Its angular head darted birdlike as it sifted through the shop’s merchandise, as if searching for something. The party confronted it and it demanded that they surrender “the relic” before it attacked.

And what an attack! NOTHING the party tried did more than scratch the beast. Meanwhile, it moved with a nauseating grace as razor sharp claws shredded flesh. In desperate straits, Krisella Blackwood brandished the amulet that she’d obtained for Vikus, which seemed to give the creature pause. Its hatred of all living creatures was almost palpable as it spoke of its ages-long imprisonment. It claimed to be born to destroy, and to have no purpose beyond slaughter. It made a last desperate grab for the amulet, lacerating Krisella Blackwood’s hand in the process, before Azir emerged, wounded, but reading a potent banishment incantation from a scroll. Bellowing in frustration, the creature vanished, teleported to parts unknown.

Gravely injured, the party tried to make sense of what they’d experienced when a voice spoke to them from outside. “You survived an encounter with the Bone Butcher,” said a great owl perched on a nearby rooftop. As it fluttered to the ground, its features shifted until it took the form of a bearded human wearing a feathered cloak. “I am one of ”/characters/keepers" class=“wiki-content-link”>The Keepers," he said. “If you wish to help us stop this creature before it kills again, you should come with me…”

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