On the morning of the 22nd of Harvester in the common year 579 a small band of disparate heroes gathered at Heidmarch Manor in Marner, capital city of Ratik.
Summoned by letter, the six neophyte adventurers comprised:
- Aq Quyonlu (LG male human paladin [Aq] 1)
- Grooble Fizzlebottom III (LG male gnome cleric [Baravan Wildwanderer] 1)
- Kara Quyonlu (N female human sorcerer [undead] 1)
- Narfu Shalmstaff (LN male half-orc monk 1)
- Nylond Axeheart (NG male dwarf cleric [Muamman Duathal] 1)
- Tristham Spicer (LG male human paladin [Heironeous] 1)
Most of the band were unknown to one another, although the paladin Aq and the sorcereress Kara were brother and sister and had previous met the paladin Tristram at the nearby temple of Heironeous. They had all been summoned to Heimarch Manor on a serious matter of great import to Ratik. Before they could speak with their host, Shel Heidmarch, she had to finish another meeting with the famed adventurer Koriah Azmeren.
In the meantime, Shel asked them to puzzle out the method of opening a paradox box that had recently fallen into her possession. After being shown to the library they proceeded to do just this. Eventually, Aq hit upon the correct method of opening the box and the party rejoiced. Their celebrations were short-lived, however, as two strange dog-like creatures suddenly appeared. The creatures cavorted through the library, damaging books, knocking over furniture and generally causing chaos. The fledgling heroes sprung into action, but a surprising run of bad luck suddenly befell the party. Tristram damaged several books when he slipped on a piece of paper and his attack went astray while the monk Narfu tripped as he tried to grapple one of the creatures and head-butted a nearby bookshelf.
After a few minutes of chaos, the creatures were defeated just as Shel and Koriah burst into the room to see what was going on. While initially angry at the damage done to the room, Shel quickly realised it was not the party’s fault. Sorry she had caused them such worry she gifted them the treasure found in the box–several small gemstones, an old masterwork silver dagger and a gold ring inscribed with images of the wind. Of the three, the ring was magical, although no one could discern its powers. Nylond claimed the ring and Kara initially claimed the dagger, but she quickly dropped it and decided she wanted no more to do with the weapon. Why this was so, she would not (or could not) explain.
In any event, after Shel led the party to another room, she got down to business. She needed the heroes to find one of her informants, a woman called Natalya Vancaskerkin, who worked for Shel among the street gangs that operated in the seedier parts of the city. Apparently, she had last reported that she was on the verge of an important discovery that had great implications for Ratik but had since disappeared. Shel offered the party a great sum of money if the would find her informant and return her—along with her discovery—to Heidmarch Manor. With no hesitation, the party agreed; the paladins seemed particularly keen to help Shel and to uncover Natalya’s mysterious discovery.
Shel could offer little information regarding her informant except that she had spoken of getting information from a fortuneteller in Washers’ Row named the Amazing Zograthy. She further suggested Natalya’s disappearance could be something to do with a wave of disappearances plaguing the seedier parts of the city recently. Armed with this knowledge, the party dispersed to gather their equipment before meeting again an hour or so later. In that time, Grooble had managed to sell the gems that party had found. With these new finances in hand Kara rushed off to buy a new dress—much to her companions’ chagrin—delaying the party’s investigations. (However, this delay would pay dividends later on…)
Making their way through the busy city, the party eventually reached Washers’ Row and easily located the Amazing Zograthy, who it turned out was a pesh addict. He performed a harrow reading for the party but only provided scraps of information about Natalya even though the party spent much of their newfound wealth on bribes. It transpired, Natalya had been working with the Tower Girls (one of the more powerful street gangs) and that they were now also searching for her. She was also rumoured to have gone mad before disappearing.
Armed with this information, the party decided to see if the Watch had any information about Shel’s disappearance and went to the Arvensoar—the Watch’s impressive tower headquarters—to learn more. On the way, they decided to stop for lunch and ducked into a tavern. It was busy within, and Kara used her feminine wiles (augmented by her new dress) to gather more information. She discovered that the stories of mysterious abductions were rumoured to be the work of slavers and that a pickup was whispered to be happening tonight at an abandoned tavern—the Puffy Pelican—near the docks. The party resolved to investigate the tavern later, but continued to the Arvensoar. There they met Lieutenant Kasadei who confirmed the Watch did not have Shel, but that the Tower Girls were rumoured to have been living in Underbridge with a foul, odious fellow known as Fenster the Blight. She also confirmed that disappearances had indeed been happening through the lower city, but that many of the people who disappeared had now been found. They had no memory of their abduction, or what happened to them, and she was worried although the Watch had closed their investigation into the matter. She offered the party 1,000 gp if they could solve the mystery.
Thus, with this further information (and incentive) the party planned their next step…