Chapter 6 - Into the Den of Thieves

Idae and Shefton made their way to Vanderboren Manor under the cover of darkness, nearly a full day later than Idae’s return was anticipated. Kora greeted them at the door, then called Lavinia, Viselys, Saris and Ornrik. They all met in the dining hall.

After Idae had introduced Shefton and recounted the tale of what had happened on Parrot Island, there was a moment’s pause as it all sank in.

“That poor Dwarf,” Ornrik murmured, referring to Penkus. Catching a look on Viselys’ face from the corner of his eye, Ornrik added in a more direct voice, “I don’t care if he was a criminal. He didn’t deserve to die like that.” Everyone present knew of the Dwarven code of honor that suggested that it was Ornrik’s duty, as the only other Dwarf aware of the events, to avenge Penkus. Indeed, Penkus had made it his last request.

And Viselys couldn’t argue with Ornrik’s reasoning, either, “Well, he did give us what we need to find Vanthus, and it confirms what Saris and I were able to piece together.” He went on to describe their investigation and the events at the taxidermist’s guildhall. “I think we should return there as a group tomorrow and rid this city of these Lotus Dragons.”

*
In the morning, the party geared up and made their way to the Taxidermist's Guildhall. Saris and Viselys went directly to the hidden entrance to the Lotus Dragon’s den that they had uncovered on their previous tip. They quietly and carefully took the passage down under the guildhall. Through stealth and luck, the group managed to remain undetected for a good while. That is, until they stumbled across the path of a hungry worg. It howled out loudly before attacking and the echoes presumably could be heard throughout the complex.

A swarm of Lotus Dragon thugs soon flooded the hallways. With the element of surprise lost, the party fought their way through the twisting and turning hallways.

Engaged as they were in combat, their progress was slow. Ornrik found some crumpled papers that appeared to be variations on the combination to the Vanderboren vault. On one section, several of the Lotus Dragons used an upset table as cover. In another section, they were moderately intrigued by a lavatory. They also found a feature that led to freestanding water. Turning back, they confronted more Dragons in what appeared to be some sort of training room. After clearing out many of them, they moved in to an adjacent room where there was a large, comfy-looking throne that overlooked the training room. Moving past that room, a rhagodessa on a chain lunged out to attack. Remaining out of the creature’s restricted range, they were able to dispatch it with relative ease. It was then that they noticed the chain led back into a room and through a hole in the wall. The chain was attached to a crank in that adjacent room … a room that contained a bugbear zombie. After many failed attempts to turn it with holy energy from Ornrik, Viselys and Shefton (whose favored enemy happened to be undead!!!) managed to slay it (again/more completely - whatever).

When the chaos settled, they began to look around. The north wall of the room contained a map of Sasserine with several curiously placed markers. The south wall had a big slate hanging on it with the following written:

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Shefton looked insulted, “Flunky?? Hey!” Idae just shot him an angry look.

Also written on the board were the words "Blue Nixie" as well as what was presumably the names of some other ships followed by the statement "to be holed." A notice to "be sure to pay ixits by month's end" was also scrawled there. It seemed like the Lotus Dragon’s “to do” list.

Returning to the north wall, they examined a crudely drawn map of Sasserine. There they saw red pins stuck in the Islaran Manor, the Taskerhill Manor, the watch garrison of the Cudgel District, and most notably, Vanderboren Manor. Blue pins connoted Kellani Manor, The Taxidermist's shop, the watch garrison of the Sunrise district, and the Thunder River Lumberyard.

After studying the chalkboard, Ornrik suddenly blurted out, "Wait…so you guys are brothers?" The comment was so non sequitur that everyone stopped and looked at him oddly.

Saris was the first to speak, “All of this,” he indicated the map, the board, and several dead bodies, “and THAT’S what you comment on??”

Viselys turned at Idae with a quizzical look.

First, Idae gave a hard look at the dwarf. He then turned to Viselys and was silent for a few moments. It seemed to take him a while to find words, as his mouth moved but no sound issued forth. Shaking his head back and forth, he finally stammered, “I’ve wanted to say something ot you, but I didn't think it was the right time. I just didn’t know how. I still don’t….”

“Wait,” Viselys cut him off, “You actually believe this? Surly it’s just a writing error – a transposition of names.”

Idae tried to continue, “It was before you were born. I was very young. Father …”

“You mean MY Father? You don’t know my father. Don’t talk about my father.” Viselys was clearly getting very defensive

“Boys, can we put this little sibling rivalry on hold until we get out of here?” Saris inserted himself.

Viselys bristled, “But we’re NOT …”

Saris cut him off with a very direct look. “I don’t care” he overly enunciated in a read-my-lips sort of way. Then he turned back to the map. “Okay, gold. Sources of money?”

“Vanthus has been withdrawing his family’s treasures,” Ornrik noted.

“We know that we are here,” Saris said, pointing at the blue pin indicating the Taxidermist Guildhall. Nemien was an ally of the Lotus Dragons, if not an actual member. Maybe the Kellani’s are too?”

Coming back to the matter at hand, Viselys also began examining the map. “Accusing a noble family is not to be taken lightly, but your logic is sound. That also calls into question the guards posted to these locations,” he indicated the other blue pins. “On the other hand,” he continued, “these red pins clearly indicated those who oppose the Lotus Dragon’s nefarious agenda.”

For the fist time in the subject, Idae offered some insight. His voice was soft and poignant. “Red is the color of blood,” he stated simply.

Viselys’ face went pale, “I’ve got to warn my father.” There was nothing to indicate that Viselys was intentionally barbing his words for Idae’s sake, but the older rogue was nonetheless stung, and Ornrik and Saris noticed, though they said nothing.

What Saris did say was, “Well, then we should finish up down here. Quick, like rabbits fraking.”

Suddenly, a noise in the hallway put all of them on alert. Someone had been listening to their conversation and was now attempting to make a getaway. "Clear out! Clear out!" a female voice cried out.

Idae drew his crossbow and fired a miracle shot (worth 3 XP), instantly silencing the female rogue. With trepidation, they continued their recon of the lair, not knowing what other challenges awaited them.

In a comfortable looking room, they found and attractive red-head waiting for them accompanied by a nearly human-sized bipedal reptile. A low noise issued from the reptile, but the woman stroked its head. “Shhhh, just wait, Gut Tugger,” she whispered. Then she turned her attention to the foursome, “I’m Rowyn Kellani, but I prefer Lady Lotus.

And you must be Lavinia's flunkies. I'm impressed you made it this far. Clearly you have some talents…talents that might be useful to us. Together we could become a real force in this city, you know? All you'd have to do is leave that Vanderboren girl and come to work for The Lotus Dragons. Its either that, or I kill all of you right now."

Viselys stepped forward, his sword still at the ready, “Rowyn Kelani, by the authority of the Sasserine guard I hereby place you under arrest on the charges of murder, piracy, smuggling, theft, transport of illegal livestock…”

Rolling her eyes, she said, "Gut Tugger, do your thing!"

Gut Tugger held up pretty well, but he was ultimately no match for the four adventurers. Rowyn managed to re-animate her beloved pet to hold them off long enough to tumble back out of the room, drop her wand, and drinks a potion, turning herself into a gas and drifting out through a drain in the floor.

After dispatching the reptile for the second time, they took a chance to rest for bit. They then began to dig through the belongings of the escaped Lady Lotus. Their search was not in vain as they fond some letters next to the big, comfy bed. 4447223798_c5aac16990_o.jpg. Idae read through the notes, clearly dismayed. "I will tell Lavinia what we found, Alone." he said in a voice that brooked no argument.

After healing and gathering themselves, the band of heroes cleared out the rest of the complex, then turned over their captives; Soller Vark, Varkette, and Nemien, to the city watch for future trial.

Continue to Chapter 7...

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