After the golden valley debacle, we head back to Threshold to get some info on our treasure stealing nemesis. While streetwising around, we’re attacked by a group of thugs. They were hired by the Iron Ring to take us out. I think we know who’s going to take out whom in this equation, though. We also run into Stefan and tell him about the craziness up north which was totally not our fault. Mostly. He also has a buddy in Threshold who could use our services.
The Halfling Paela wants to hire us to help take down the Iron Ring. The Ring is apparently heavily based in the Black Eagle Barony, which is ruled by the tyrant Baron Ludwig von Hendricks. The baron is the king of Karameikos’s nephew or cousin or something, so he doesn’t believe the testimony about the baron’s wicked ways. However, the king’s grandson, Lucien Hyraxos was recently captured by the slavers while gadding about the country in disguise and is on his way to the barony. Paelawants us to make sure Lucien gets there in one piece so he can see the evil first hand and then help him escape so he can report to the king. She tells us the slavers are headed to the coast to catch a boat to the barony. Also, Hendricks’s castle is called Fort Doom. How does the king not catch on to this guy?
We head off and eventually catch up to the slavers. We manage to convince them we are looking for work and get them to hire us to go along with them and protect their caravan. A little bit outside of a coastal town, one of the slavers senses people approaching and we send them ahead, thinking that if it’s the kings guard we should definitely only knock them out, which would seem strange to our new employers. It turns out to be a group of shadow elves looking to curry favor with Karameikos for their country of Aengmor by capturing the slavers. We try to bluff them about which way the slavers went but don’t roll so well. Fighting ensues and Dagmar nearly dies because he is paying more attention to his laptop than his hit points. The shadow elf leader asks us to stop the fighting using the unconscious Dagmar as collateral. We work out a deal where they will give us three days to complete our mission (we don’t give them specifics) and then we will meet them in the nearby town of Arshintzevo. We also agree to talk to the king for them if the plan works. Their leader tells us his name is Adari and when they ask for our names we just tell them to ask for the killers of Qdoba at the local inn.
We make our way to Arshintzevo only to find the slavers have already left, probably to get out ahead of the nasty storm coming in. Streetwising reveals they have traveled to Pidlizni, and traveling there overland or by sea is pretty impossible in the current weather. We hang out with some dudes from several trading companies at the local inn. In the middle of the night, a weird singing sound wakes us up and entrances several party members who try to make their way down to the shore. Hurting them seems to help them snap out of the trance. This means we totally get to smack around townspeople with impunity! The ones we can’t get to in time throw themselves into the sea and drown.
The next morning, all the townspeople lock themselves in their houses and won’t come out. The bartender, Pietr, tells us nothing like this has ever happened before. After banging on all the doors in town we eventually find someone who will talk to us (after he’s been sufficiently intimidated). He also doesn’t remember anything like this ever happening before and tells us the town leader, Alderman Ritter, will be having some religious rite at the church to protect the town. We inquire about this ritual at Ritter’s house but are turned away by some butler. Fishy… We go to check out the church but are stopped from searching by Mother Sheralin, some nun lady who also claims not to know anything. She may or may not be a snake person.
The enigmatic singing monster, who we have dubbed Squidterba, starts up again and as we are punching townsfolk in the face some nasty fishman monsters appear, and we promptly proceed to kill them. When checking out the bodies of the drowned people later, we discover that it’s mostly non-townspeople who are the victims. We return to the in and find someone sneaking around in the kitchen. Turns out it’s the innkeeper and he’s putting stuff in the food/drink. He confesses that Ritter and Sheralin told him to do it to prepare the out of towners for “the call.” They are definitely on their way to being snake people.
The party heads off to the temple and finds a hidden door in the floor there. Below the temple we find some sort of alternate temple to a fishy horror of the deep type dude. We kill a lot of cultist townspeople and Ritter and Sheralin. Someone totally transforms into a tentacle horror, which is close enough to snake people in my book. Also, one of the monsters has the symbol of one of the trading companies at the inn on him, so either people are turning into fishy monsters of the traders are in on it. Afterwards, the cry of Squidterba continues, so we question the butler to find out more. He directs us to a cave outside of town that had a lot of cultists going in/out. Also, we take a bunch of Ritter’s stuff and give it to the trading companies as compensation for the families of the dead. See, we can totally be nice! We tie up the butler and leave him at the inn, then head off for the caves.
In the cave we have an encounter with some old dominatrix chick and her fishy friend buddies. The lady is really an illusion crafted by Squidterba, who appears shortly to have his ass kicked. Alas, he has no teeth or bones for gruesome jewelry making and dissolves into a nasty mess when we kill him. When Squidterba dies he emits another cry that apparently causes the rest of the townspeople to drown themselves. Can’t say I feel bad for them, they kinda had it coming. The party decides to hang around for a few hours and wait for Adari and co. to show up. Perhaps we use this time to clean ourselves of the nasty fish juice and guts we are undoubtedly covered in.