As the beaten and bloodied heroes made their way from the warehouse, they found the people on the streets were not so inclined to look the other way at their bloodied bodies as the workers of the warehouse. Richfest was in full swing and the citywide party is invigorated. The smell of sweat and booze helped mask the stench of the battle weary champions, but the many open wounds catch the eye of those sober enough to care.
Tom suggested they make their way to the Market-Church of Zilchus, there they should be able to find the accommodations they need to get back on their feet. A clergyman, Finance Officer Franco, allowed their stay based on some professional courtesy with Tom, but does inform him that their stay will come with interest as they have no liquid funds to account for their stay and makes it clear it doesn’t care for the behemoth of a man Sigurd stinking up his establishment.
The next day Jaenara, Tom, and Sigurd made their way to the docks to find out if Captain Orson had any leads about the men who had taken them, namely the man that he and Tom just made a large delivery to. They found Orson bloodied and bruised. He told the sleuths that their patron and many of his friends had stopped by the ship several hours earlier and had tried to force information about Tom and his whereabouts from him. Finally convinced that Orson knew nothing, the men went on their way, much as Orson suggested that Tom did.
Upon leaving the ship, the group was jumped by lookouts that stayed behind at the ship. Three very feral figures lashing out tooth and nail at the crew landed several nasty blows, but ultimately proved inferior to new friends. It was suggested that one be kept alive for information, but a well placed arrow through the throat ended any chance of that happening.
Looking for other resources to tap and somewhere to unload their newly acquired goods, the group made their way back to the market. Amongst the revelers they managed to find Oswind and Oswald, traveling salesmen who had previously crossed the southern branch of the continent with Sigurd. They told of their recent success in an application for reduced tariffs in Sum, making their travels both north and south of the city much more lucrative and they also let slip some apprehension and shame concerning Sigurd’s kinsmen. They admitted to carrying more bodies, as they first perceived Sigurd, from the battles to the south in Sum where they were sold to man matching the description Tom was looking for. One of the bodies fit the description of Sigurd’s fallen uncle Erlend. While Sigurd was quite enraged by their actions, he held both his emotions and blade in check. In an attempt to make good on their perhaps shady dealings, they offered a hefty sum of money for the gear and stolen art the party had recently acquired; noting that the art had an oddity of many figures being depicted with outward facing palms, something that seems to sell well in the Eastern end of the continent.
When pressed about places they had seen the man responsible for the purchase of bodies, they named a few places, but directed the party to the Ivory Horse Bar and Brothel as the most common place they had seen him. Following their advice, the party set out for the Ivory horse to find many daytime drunks celebrating Richfest. While at the bar, Tom took notice of a bouncer near a back door that had markings similar to that of Sigurd. After discerning from the barkeep that all the bars and their security are handled by Ministrix Renna, he brought the bouncer to Sigurd’s attention.
Upon approach, the very chiseled and battle hardened man guarding the door near broke into tears. Sigurd’s uncle was standing before him and they embraced each other firmly. Erlend explained that Niro, the man they were looking for was acting as a sort of recruitment center for the near dead, or perhaps full dead. Once the new recruits reawake they have a strong hunger that Niro manipulates to force them to do his will. He advised the group to flee from this place, but upon Sigurd would not be swayed from vengeance. Niro explained that currently Niro has too many men under his control, but once trained, many of the move under the control of different clans. Other clan leader, Roran Tesh, seems not quite so pig headed as Nero, and he has witnessed firsthand that Roran will sometimes act contrary to the goals of the other clans. Erlend suggested that perhaps Roran, often know to frequent the Dragon’s Den Smokehouse may be their best bet. Sigurd vows to free Erlend from the Grip of Nero and heads out to find Roran.
After a brief stop back at Franco’s to bandage up and collect Tove and John, they made their way to the Dragon’s Den. A female of far eastern decent guarded the front door with a large curved blade and scroll. John explained that they must first sign the scroll stating that they wave all liability of the Dragon’s Den should anything happen to them while in the establishment. Upon entering, the hallways forked both left and right. John told the others that to the left were drugs that made people more visceral and prone to fights, to the right were the more mellow rooms. Tove, excited by the notion pressed the group to travel left. Inside they found a nasty room referred to as the “The Pit.” It had stone floors stained with blood and brown spit. There was a haze of smoke in the room, dishes of some sort of chew, and a few colored beverages. A man lay in the corner, beaten to unconsciousness, was being tended to by a medic.
A braggart immediately insulted and challenged the newcomers to a fight when they entered. But John was more concerned with an emaciated figure in the far corner. He identified her as the woman that helped them escape the night before, but she was practically all skin and bones, lips dried and cracked.
Tove, Jaenara, and Sigurd moved closer to speak with the woman. Tia told the group that she couldn’t hide her betrayal and this was her punishment. She wasn’t allowed to feed and her metabolism had been accelerated. She just hoped that she would be allowed to live.
There was a man standing next to her, who Tia said was meant to ensure she didn’t feed. Outraged at this, Tove challenged the man to a battle in the Pit. Taking a few strong hits from a hand rolled cigarette, the man stepped to the center. Tove, not really know what the man had smoked but assuming it must help made a quick order of what he was having and power hit it before entering the bloodied center square. Tove felt energized, strong, and a little on edge, ready unleash upon someone. However, before he could take a swing, the man center stage took a swing at Tove. Tove dodged left, exposing the right side of his neck where the man took viscous bite. The teeth felt like acid on crawling on Tove’s throat and he quickly fell to the ground.
Looking as if the aggressor had no intention of stopping, Tom stepped in a blindsided the man with a bash to back of his head. Surrounded by Tove’s friends and the crowd yelling “dirty fight” everyone settled their adrenaline. Medics tended to Tove and got him back to his feet, but he seemed to have taken an awkward fall that left him with a bit of limp. Tia offered him a blue beverage to help ease the pain. Tove then felt no pain. Tove felt quite pleasant.
After a bit more posturing and Tia insisting that she must fulfill her punishment, the crew made their way to safer grounds. On the other side of the Den, things seemed to cater to a much more internally satisfied crowd. The room was lined with couches and chairs. A much more pleasant smell of smoke filled the air. Decorated hookahs lined most of the tables. An archway to another room was on one wall and a decorated door with screening window was set into the opposite wall. John approached the decorated door and knocked upon it. A Far Eastern woman opened the window who seemed to know John, but was a bit concerned about the extra company. John explained that one other of her friends needed to enter as there was a matter concerning Roran Tesh that needed to be discussed. Immediately the door swung open but Jaenara, as well as Tom and John entered the room. This caused a bit of alarm, as the agreement was for only two to enter. After words soothed the situation, Konno explained that Roran was present now in the “Study,” and they were free to speak with him. However, Konno make it very clear that Roran was very well respected here and brought in a lot of business. He was not to be assaulted or insulted in any way. Additionally, the questions that Tom had about him concerning what sounded like necromancy, if she was understanding him properly, were very much insulting in nature. As the party left, Konno asked John to stay behind for a few words.
The new compatriots made their way from primary smoke room through the archway to a similar room. It much resembled the last but in addition to the smoke there were tables with powders and mushrooms. A man with a bandaged eye shouted from across the room and dashed towards them, one arm flapping helplessly as he ran. The man, Deso, was once a soldier for hire that fought alongside Sigurd under his uncle’s command. Deso was a very loose lipped and crude individual, that while singing the praises of Sigurd seemed to make little effort to not offend his companions. Deso tried to barter with a hostess on the price of some drug on behalf of his war hero, but Sigurd assured him that was not needed.
They proceeded to the Study where they found the first smoke free room in building. There was fancy furniture and shelves of books, everyone was either reading or writing. Immediately the group spotted Roran and he spotted them. He laughed and made a comment about always being able to spin a loss into a victory. As the party approached Roran, Tove instead went to a hostess and asked for the drink Roran was drinking. After pouring the thick blueish brandy into a glass, she asked for 500 gold. Quite taken aback, Tove explained that he didn’t have the means to pay for the drink. The hostess, now quite hostile suggested that Tove would perhaps be more comfortable in The Pits.
With everyone then gathering around Roran, he paid for Tove’s drink, which made him feel as if electricity was coursing through his veins and his magic was begging to leap from his fingers. Roran confirmed much of what Erlend had told Sigurd and elaborated a bit more on the structure of the organization. He said that they had made him look bad with his escape, but that he could spin the situation to his favor if he could sell it to his partners that he could use the group better as perceived escapees than initiates, then it could still work in his favor. To do this he required the party return the documents they had taken from him, besmirch the name of Minster Tyber in Sim; claim he had affiliation with a coming attack on Sum, and hide an unknown holy symbol in the podium of Kord in town. In exchange he would release several loved ones from the grip of the cult and promised occupational growth to those who didn’t have people they cared about within the cult. However, he explained that Jaenara’s sister was currently in the employ of the wreckless Durmaruk, who would be sewing chaos in Sum shortly. It would be up to the group and not Roran to ensure that she survived that attack in order for Roran to hold up that end of his bargain.
After a bit of discussion, everyone seemed on board and they headed out to fulfill their new tasks. They left the study and spoke once again to Deso, gathering information on the Church of Kord; preparing to set out on the mission that Roran had presented them.