a section of Lungorthin’s journal
When Rurik and I heard the Halfling ferryman shouting at us unintelligibly from his raft we knew that we must be close to Vaerhaven. As the great shadow upriver became more defined, I was impressed by the bridges which branched from each side over the fork in the Zehuari River. It didn’t take long for the Wardens to hail us. I’m sure they thought we were pirates when they saw us on their own craft. We were allowed to port and explain ourselves to their captain, Warden Faulk. He was sensible and gave us a voucher for a sufficient amount of coin as reward for returning the skiff and one of the thugs which helped steal it.
After collecting the reward from a rather impatient gnome and learning of some odd jobs and current events within the city’s walls, the party decided to find shelter and seek the Order of the White Star in the morning. Although I don’t hold our purse, I knew the budget would only allow stay at a less-than-desirable inn and stables. We quickly found just that. The Split Shield is owned by a greasy, swindling dwarf whose name I didn’t bother to learn. Far more interesting was the doorman, Twofer, who appeared to be a warlock and a potentially powerful ally. I was unable to convince him to join us. That night I was haunted by visions of my adolescence, likely brought about by the familiar setting I found myself in. Images of blood and fire I have managed to suppress for years.
In the morning we found the home of the Order of the White Star. What a depressing lot they were. Consisting of two ancient men, a single squire, and a building strewn with thousands of scrolls, there was nothing orderly about it. They told us their previous headquarters had been seized by the Crows, and any information on the Sunderer would likely still be there, safe in the vault. Of course, my friends promised to rid the building of Crows in return for any knowledge they could share with us.
In anticipation of battle, the party decided to find supplies in the merchant district, which was fortunate because I happened upon a small vial of a curious fire which I guessed was an alchemical reagent. Knowing the Crows were likely hundreds strong, I decided some extra artillery couldn’t hurt and purchased the flask as well as a small alchemy case to replicate it with. The shopkeeper, Ishak Farazad, believed me when I told him I was practiced in the study of such volatile and magic substances.
At sundown we began reconnaissance of the former home of the Order. On the outside, the first floor appeared to be a butcher’s shop. We only saw a cart go to the back door once, but nothing else. Without any plan, we began the assault by approaching the back door with Rothar hidden in a cart, posing as a delivery. When that failed, Rurik had to try a few times to knock the front door down, by which time I had already jumped through a window and engaged two men and their dogs. Althaea teleported inside while Orn provided cover fire from outside. At the end of the battle I was bloodied, but in better shape than the butcher, who Rurik had run through. After a short rest, we continued to clear the building of gangsters. The second floor took little effort, but we ran into more trouble on the third. A slippery villain grabbed Rothar by the throat but when his friends were all dead the coward tried to escape, exposing his back to one of Orn’s arrows. When all was quiet, I attempted to break into the magic vault, only to be blasted in the face by an arcane explosion. I am grateful for it, as not many thieves live to learn from their failures.
Back at the Split Shield, we were greeted at our dinner table by a sniveling bitch who called herself Cassandra. She works for the leader of the Crows. She expressed his interest in us and relayed his request of meeting in the merchant district the following day. When she left, I easily followed her to what I assumed to be their hideout, a building very much like the surrounding warehouses, save for the guards patrolling its perimeter.
We decided it would be best not to completely disrespect the crime lord while we reside in his territory, and so resolved that Rothar and I would meet him. This night I was haunted by Xavos, as if he existed somewhere between my consciousness and reality, binding my dreams in iron chains. In the morning I became focused on the alchemical item and kit. Upon inspection, I realized I had no idea where to start and would be lucky not to lose a hand if I tried to combine any of the contents with the flask of energetic flames. The morning passed uneventfully until it was time to meet the King of Crows.
Although his gang seems well established in Varhaven, Kraul is not so arrogant as to walk the streets in open daylight. Even with an open bounty for his capture, or head, I had expected him to personally meet us near the Bulwark wearing some kind of disguise. But Cassandra appeared to us and bid Rothar and I follow her. Little did she know I could have found the way myself. I was very distracted during our meeting and let Rothar do the talking. It was difficult not to stare at Kraul’s tusks, not to mention Cassandra’s disturbingly hairy hands, so I focused instead on the dagger which Kraul had set in the table before him. I envied the air of intimidation it commanded but knew that stealing it now would be suicide. Only later did I learn why Kraul had summoned us. Apparently he was sore about us taking back that building and killing his friend Cragan. He threatened to harm us and the good folk who helped us get here unless we cleared his smuggling tunnels of some unknown force that was stopping his cronies from finishing their jobs. Coincidentally, these “smuggling tunnels” as he called them were actually just passageways through the city’s sewage system. In addition, we were to locate and return a hinged, wooden box containing three simple stones. No one was eager to go diving in and we retired, aiming to enter the sewers at sunrise.