Juma – the young wizard, a citizen of Port Nyaranzu, looked at his new companions with some apprehension. How had he let himself become indebted to the Ambassador of Gard! But Ambassador Vernicus had provided him with his Book of Spells. This latest favour would finally cancel the debt between them.
He had met Ariel, the wood-elf druid, before. Although elves are rarely seen in Kesh, this one had been raised in the jungle by Grung (humanoid tree-frogs) and had recently left the Grung to come live in Nyaranzu.
The other two were fresh off the boat! Gray – a white-skinned man from Eastport in the Kingdom of Gard. It seemed likely that Gray had crossed the ocean to get away from some trouble, and it seemed to Juma that he would soon run into trouble here too. The last of them was Ront Rusthammer (named after the tatty-looking warhammer slung over his back). He was a half-orc with a mouthful of large, uneven teeth. He was from even further North, the land called Beyond. Still there were plenty of half-orcs in Kesh these days, in the Army of the Morningstars, fighting the hordes of zombies in the Jungle.
Vernicus was sweating even more than usual today as he hurriedly explained what was required.
It seems that some wizards from the Royal Academy (posh wizard college in the distant capital of Gard) had received a vision that a magical staff was about to be smuggled into Nyaranzu, through the sewers. Vernicus was ordered to obtain the staff (with a head carved into a Couatl – feathered/winged snake, and ship it north.
Juma scowled at this. Wakanga Otamu, Merchant Prince of Magic and Artefacts, would not be happy if he learned of this. The city gates had a property of magic detection and all magical items and historical treasures had to be declared. Otamu requires a tax to be paid for any items of this type that enter the city, and can confiscate any he deems to be part of Keshite Heritage. Still, a debt is a debt and must be paid.
The Ambassador had somehow learned which sewer entrance the smugglers would use to get under the wall and that it would happen tonight or the next night. He stressed that he was not asking them to “smuggle” the item in, nor to kill any citizens – although it was clear to the insightful Wizard that the “white-devil” just wanted plausible deniability. He mentioned that snatching the Staff AFTER it had been smuggled in, would mean they hadn’t broken any laws.
They agreed to the mission, made introductions and Juma led them to the outer city where the sewer grating was located just outside a weapon-smith’s shop. They spent a few hours in the late afternoon and evening hanging about in the little marketplace. The new-comers stood out like a sore thumb!
They managed to notice that a Tabaxi (a cat man from the far south) who was busking (badly) was actually watching them and the grate.
They had some difficulty convincing Tre’ Max, the smith, to let them loiter in his shop, but money changed hands and Ront bought a shield at a higher than normal price (after a little wager). Because of their generosity, Tre’Max was willing to let them use his shop for their plan – to ambush the smugglers and drag them into the shop. He even invited them up onto his roof to drink Tej, while they waited for nightfall.
When Ariel, who could see in the dark, stayed in the marketplace he was approached by the Tabaxi, sneaking about, checking the alleyways. The cat man hissed at him that he should move along – so Ariel joined Ront in hiding.
Shortly after midnight the Tabaxi led a tough-looking human Keshite sailor carrying a rucksack, to the grate and unlocked the padlock with a key.
There was some confusion between Ront and Ariel and a momentary delay, allowing the sailor to drop into the sewer before they had time to stop him.
Ariel then cast Entangle, causing vines and grasses to spring from the cobbled streets. The tabaxi proved to be very nimble and wasn’t restrained. In the dark on the roof, Juma cast light on his spear tip and began to run downstairs. Gray was hidden in the shop – with Tre’Max watching him suspiciously, but it was too dark outside to get a clear shot.
Ront charged across at the cat man, but was delayed by the Entanglemand in frustration, leapt down the hole, crashing into the smuggler on the iron ladder, knocking them both to the floor. The smuggler had been about to light a lantern which smashed and they rolled about in the spilled oil.
The Tabaxi leapt down on top of them and soon Ront was fighting both of them, on his own.
One of his companions smelled the oil and tossed a match into the hole, which narrowly missed the oil! `Then Gray shot an arrow into the darkness (could have hit anyone!).
Despite all this “assistance” the raging fury of the half-orc barbarian seemed to be winning. He crushed the throat of the human and almost killed the cat man, who fled deeper into the sewer, passing through some tunnels that were clearly signposted as “UNSTABLE”.
They all followed, with Juma’smlight spell illuminating the bloody corpse. Gray searched the body. Finding the Staff – but it was only the head section, about 18” long and appeaer to have been snapped.
They managed to catch up with the Tabaxi and the half orc and knocked out the cat man. But not before he had shouted out “It’s me Six, help – I’m being attacked!”. There were noises in response from behind a wall blocking the sewer pipe.
It was a secret door with a small slot in it. Juma and Ariel tried to imitate the smugglers but Ront’ distinctive voice gave them away. The enemy wizard behind the secret door tried to lure them into sight. When Juma showed himself, he was hit by a magic missile spell. Throwing the limp body of the tabaxi in front of him, Ront reached the wall and pressed himself to one side, out of sight, struggling to force the wall to slide. It began to move but the unseen wizard cast Thunderwave through the slot and the spell smashed into them. Juma and Ariel were knocked out, Even Ront was almost finished and they decided to retreat, hastily picking-up their fallen companions and staunching their wounds.
Their first mission was a partial success – they have the Staff – at least they have some of the Staff, but they now have to smuggle it to the Ambassador themselves and they have probably made enemies of a local smuggler gang (our heroes are very easily identified!).
[GM: level-up to second level. Despite the Staff being broken – and only having the top section, you can tell it is still magical and could try to attune to it (takes one hour)]