At long last, the players disembark from the Warped Plank. Captain Sigmund de L’arche bids you all a fond farewell, and Vast joins you ashore. Sigmund pulls Nuada aside and tells him to look north if he has trouble chartering a ship away from Newspring.
The docs are unusual, and are completely walled off from the outer city. A single gated entrance stands in the center, with guards checking permits and asking people’s reason for being here. The party is stopped briefly, asked their business, told of a few rules to follow, and allowed inside.
The outer city is full of large sprawling warehouses and open market centers for imported goods. The roads are strange, and built with some sort of smooth stone-like clay. The buildings are all very close together and cramped, but sturdily built out of light gray stone and mortar, or dull red bricks with flat slate roofs. The docs have that typical fishy smell, but there isn’t a lot of filth lying around. In fact, the party sees a gnome leading a donkey and cart, pulling barrels of garbage. He pauses to use a wire broom and long hoe-like device to scrape a bit of spilled fish guts off the floor, then dump it into one of the barrels.
Signs are posted EVERYWHERE – notices to assists tourist with locations, a notice that most establishments do not accept foreign coin and all currency must be exchanged to gnomish coin. There are notices of regional laws, fines for littering, fines for loitering and parking your carriage in the road too long. Warnings not to commit voilence or steal. A notice that there are specific laws for cleanliness and decency, and all visitors who plan to stay more than seven days must register with the Otherkind Embassy.
The city itself is hard to miss – looming over the docs like the very fist of the earth. The spiraling walls make their way up the mountain like staggered teeth, and not an inch of undeveloped land can be seen. Within, giant structures tower over the walls, some spewing smoke in various places, giving the city a haze. The chatter of friendly conversation can be heard over a myriad of sounds – grinding metal, sparks flying, a hiss of stone on stone, and the creek of a wooden wheel. However, there isn’t a single tree to be seen.
The party splits up briefly. Most head to the money changers to wait two hours in line for Gnomish coin. Nuada heads to the local establishment for the “nautical merchants guild” and makes a few connections:
Helyore Blacknozzle – Watchman outside the Mini Sproket
Nesben Glinklabrick – Middleaged spellcaster guarding the entrance
Mykini Seaspanner – Leader of this division
Aside from a bit of traded gossip, it sounds like they have a lot of jobs available. Permits are required for anything within the inner or outer city, and the ability to forge documents is a highly prized skill.
Mahkdoh divines the bone’s direction, and it leads to the north-west. Apparently, directly toward the main city.
The party attempts to apply for a permit in order to enter the city, but there is a two-week wait at the moment. There seem to be occupancy laws set in place to prevent the city from overcrowding, and right now the city is very crowded.
In their efforts to search for a suitable tavern, Severath stumbles upon an Elvish-themed tavern thats badly overdone with leaves and trees. The owned is a clean-shaven gnome, who is way too enthusiastic about Elvish… anything. He was saddened that Severath didn’t choose to stay there.
Instead, the party ended up at a Dwarvish establishment, run by an actual dwarf. Her name is Sisba Shieldminer-Shinefizzle, formerly of the Copperspike clan. It turns out that her gnomish husband died in a shipwreck some years back. Their stocky gnomish-looking son Cupmaster Shinefizzle is shy but seems to enjoy working there.
The party agrees that waiting for a permit would be ridiculous, so they want to verify the direction of the bone before waiting around. The next day, the party heads outside of the outer city walls and makes their way north-west. After a days march, Mahkdoh divines again and sees that the bone is still in a north-west direction, much to everyone’s relief.
That night, the party is awoken by a guard patrol of Gnomes telling them that camping without a permit isnt allowed so close to the city. Everyone is fined 1 silver for camping without a permit (except Nuada, who was hiding in the bushes) and told to move. Grumbling, the party gathers their things and heads back to the city.
After regrouping for a day and stocking up on food, the party makes their way north, following the coastal road up Cacthal. They travel for a few days, stopping once to meet a friendly farmer named Warziver Beekatan, who curiously approaches them to offer them biscuits and see what they’re up to. Severath gives him a sprocket-shaped wood carving, and tells him its an exotic and rare wood. Not knowing how to appraise such a things, the humble farmer fully believes him and is overcome with gratitude. You’re all now welcome at the Beekatan farm any time.
After a total of four days travel north, the bone token changes direction to exactly West. The party makes their way over rough terrain and heads to the hills. Its slow going with the wagon – especially because Blossom the donkey is looking a little fat – but they make headway. Until…
One night everyone is awoken by a raid of Kobolds. Luckily, they’re poorly armored and not very disciplined. They’re quickly defeated, with two of them fleeing. The party moves an hour west then falls back asleep for the night.
Over the next few days, multiple kobolds are sighted. Signs from their tribe are left, and one night they even crudely crucify one of their own to a tree. No one can make sense of this sign, but they speculate it was a kobold who was spotted spying on them before. Perhaps this is his punishment for being seen?
The harassment gets worse and begins to interrupt everyone’s sleep. The kobolds bark and yip through the night, throwing rocks harmlessly into the camp and grunting at you all to leave. At one point Nuada tries to stalk them out, but they’re much faster than he expected and always out of reach.
After a frustrating morning march with everyone a bit weary, everyone pauses at noon for Mahkdoh to use the bone token. This time, it spins slowly in a circle, indicating that the next bone is nearby. The party takes a longer break than normal while Mahkdoh meditates for guidance. Severath climbs a nearby rocky area for a better vantage, and spots a rocky cairn not far away. Upon further inspection, it appears to be a marker for a cave entrance.
The party enters, leaving the donkeys and wagon behind.
The cave is narrow, and most folks are forced to constantly duck in order to avoid the ceiling. The party must walk single file in order to fit through. Hours pass in darkness and silence, and even Faenya goes quiet. Finally a small cavern opens op a bit wider so everyone can stretch. And thats when the party is attacked.
Four darkmantles drop from the ceiling. Most of them miss, but one of them latches on to Pe-Ling. Magical darkness envelops the area, and anyone not fighting makes their way to the sides of the cavern. Severath casts color spray, affecting all but one of the Darkmantles, who flaps back up to the top of the cave. Pe-ling manages to grab the Darkmantle on him and tear it in half. The others lay motionless on the ground until the spell wears off. Ultimately, the party makes it to the edges of the darkness spell and waits for it to wear off. Minutes later, everyone’s vision is returned and that darkmantles are picked off with ranged attacks.
Unfortunately, the commotion set off an alarm further down the cavern.
The party continues, but after a short time, a trap is sprung. The cavern immediately behind the party suddenly caves in. At the same time, a portcullis slams down near Severath, nearly hitting him, and splitting the party in two. After a few rounds of frenzied searching, Nuada (with a bit of help) manages to disable the trap and lock it back in place. Moments after, a group of better-armored kobolds arrive with barbed spears. They pack a bit of a punch.
During the fight, Mahkdoh goes down. Faenya brings him back right away, but not before Pe-Ling looses his shit at the sight of losing a friend. A badly injured Kobold flees, while the last remaining one begs for mercy. Pe-Ling doesn’t grant it.
After the fight, the party licks their wounds while Pe-Ling meditates. Here is where we pause.