Chapter 15

An Army of Thugs

February 1, 2020

About two hours had passed since the adventurers had lost Gloucester and Formosa through the black void portal. They were gathered together in a single small room of the Golden Goose when the door opened and in walked the presumed-dead sorcerer. He had returned from a Yuan-Ti brood chamber where Formosa met her end and he escaped thanks to a trapped water genie, the Sultana Marid, who was prevented from returning to her home atop the Spire by magical wards left by a wizard ally of the Yuan-Ti.

Gloucester had promised to help Marid get home, but getting to the top of the Spire, a five-mile tall needle of rock, seemed impossible. Juan then told the party about a piece of news from the south which they had not been present to hear when it broke: a legendary Roc had been sighted flying down from the Spire to the Jazili Mountains a hundred miles to the south. Referencing the story of the Second Voyage of Zimbad, wherein the hero hitched a ride on the talons of a Roc to reach a hidden valley, the bard suggested heading south to find a way to ride the Roc to the top of the Spire.

There was endless debate about when to do this, with Feti especially wary of not only the public bounties on half the party but also crossing the powerful Charna Khan and otherworldly Jackerel. He lobbied for immediate departure from the city by any means necessary, but the group decided instead to head out fresh in the morning, exhausted by the day’s endless series of events. As Juan left to see if he could find sailors willing to take them, he bumped into a gang of ruffians who were apparently on the hunt for the party and a fight erupted right outside the room.

The situation was much grimmer than at first realized, with more thugs coming up from the tavern downstairs despite repeated Thunderwaves emanating from the bard’s power chords. Feti decided to leap out the window and crash-landed on the street below, surrounded by even more bad guys who laid into him mercilessly.

Inside, Naliyi fought to aid Juan while Raz and Gloucester made their escape via the window, with the elf opting for street level and the sorcerer going to the roof. Feti’s clobbering barely let up when some thugs turned on Raz and she quickly reversed course back up the wall.

Meanwhile, Sargael had magically moved to the roof of the neighbouring building and Juan was abandoning the fight to climb out the window too while Naliyi covered him and William picked off targets below with Magic Missiles. Facing the army of thugs alone inside, Naliyi ran for the window at the end of the corridor to climb out the back.

On the roof, Raz headed straight for the rear end of the building when Gloucester leapt off into the street on the other side from where Feti was by now beaten unconscious by the mob. As Juan ran after him, he spotted the menacing Charna Khan in black robes, bearing a scimitar and standing on the rooftop, watching, but he just jumped instead of stopping and, together, bard and sorcerer fled into the night.

Looking at the gathering mob in the street behind the inn, Raz reconsidered and turned around only to face Charna Khan standing unnervingly close. Just as he demanded the chess set from Raz, Naliyi came clambering up from the window below and yielded immediately to the Merchant King of Bendajee.

From the neighbouring rooftop, Sargael cast a Hold Person on the villain only to have it fizzle out ineffectively. Khan cast the same spell back at the wizard, making him as still as a statue. Raz then leapt over the edge into the clear street below, the mob having moved inside the building on its way upstairs by now.

Khan told Naliyi to go after the elf and kill her, then flew over to the immobilized Sargael and murdered him in cold blood. Naliyi leapt after Raz but the rogue was far too fast on her feet and vanished into the back-alleys of the city while the armour-clad warrior was chased until she managed to lose a handful of thugs who were unaware of Khan’s commands to her.

In the morning, Raz got up out of the gutter where she was sleeping and used the Circlet of Seeming to become a non-descript human peasant which allowed her the freedom to walk right out through city gates unnoticed. Juan and Gloucester adopted disguises and also walked out of the city, no questions asked. A little ways down the road they saw the smoke of a campfire where Raz was attempting to burn the magical chess set to no avail and the trio decided to carry on southwards to find the Roc.

Naliyi, wandering the city streets in her plate mail, was easily located by thugs who brought her before Charna Khan. He told her to go after the three survivors, kill them and then bring him the chess set Raz was carrying and to aid her she was matched with a bounty hunter, Malloj the Enchanter. The duo rode out the next day to carry out their orders.

A cross-country chase ensued, with Malloj dispatching a Slithering Tracker to find and kill Raz while also giving him and Naliyi an idea of where to look for the party. The watery monster nearly drowned the elf but she managed to kill it with the help of Juan and Gloucester. Days later, Malloj and Naliyi, rode with a dozen bandits to waylay the trio on the road. During the fight, Naliyi quickly changed sides and helped defeat the enemy. She then rejoined the party and they set off for the mountain town of Tandipoor, reaching it come nightfall.

The party now numbers four: Raz, Gloucester, Naliyi and Juan, two of whom have bounties on their heads and all of whom are marked for death by Charna Khan.

Chapter 16: Flight of the Roc