Finally, we have made it to Punjar. I thought the travel would never end. Hundreds of miles, traveling with caravans, fending off bandits and wild beasts… Kord, I need a bath. A hot bath. Joelle would need one too.. Some time together in a hot tub would help forget the travel. Hopefully the address given by friends in my hometown is still an hospitable place: The Glorious Lady. It’s said to be owned by two nice dwarves: Flint & Brunhilda. It is located in a quarter named The Souk.
And it seems that this is the best inn in this awful place. Punjar stinks, there are beggars everywhere looking at you like they would cut your throat. Why did I bring my lovely wife to a such horrible place. But at least the inn is clean, the owners seem nice and the patrons clean. I buy us a room for the night. 1 silver piece per night, doesn’t seem too pricey.
After putting our baggage in our room, we go to the main room to have some dwarven goulash and nice elven wine. Who would have thought that these would go well together? The mix is excellent and we have time to relax. Tomorrow, we’ll have to look for my family. I take some time to look at the patrons in the inn.
A lonely swordmage is eyeing the door and the two innkeepers. By his looks, he seems to be an eladrin. At another table, a drow and an elf are talking. This is strange, I’ve always thought that they hated each other. In fact, everybody in Aereth hate the drows. But in such a place, who knows what other surprising alliances we may find.
Everything seems to be quiet, when a town guard enters the inn, look around and go to the table where the elf and the drow sit. They talk a little together, then go to see the eladrin. Being closer to us, they ask if they are a group of adventurers. It seems that the guards are looking for a group of people and that they will be giving money. Those three people have helped the innkeepers the day before and the guard seems to trust them to a point.
Something strange is happening in the city. The slums have been covered in a strange fog. People are talking about a magical plague sent by the Gods. For the guards, it may have something to do with the Beggar King. The guard is not confident that they can act against the Beggar King easily. So they have gathered as many gold coins as they could and are ready to give that to freelancers.
I’ve heard things about this Beggar King. He may be the responsible in the attacks against my town and the area. He seems to run things here. Even if the 1000g reward seem a little strange to me (it’s a big amount of money from guards), I tell Joelle that helping the guards may help us find my family in the end. I propose that we join this group and she accepts.
We get up and go to the table to propose our talents to his strange group of people. My wife seems to be upset by my choice of words. I explain that she is a skillful wizard and that I’m a soldier, a commander on the battlefield.
The guard seems to think that our group will be able to handle this mission and he gives us some advance so that we can buy some supplies and leaves.
The drow introduces himself as Zartin, the elf as Ruarin and the Eladrin as Robinn. Zartin leaves almost immediately, saying he has to see his master, the two other companions stay with us and we exchange a few words. Robinn leaves the inn too, he seems to have his own home in this city. We go to bed as the day was exhausting, tomorrow may be worse.
The next morning, we get up and ready ourselves. While having a good breakfast, Robinn tells us that one of the patrons of the inn seems suspicious. A man in a green cloak is not far from our table. This man is so quiet that I hadn’t noticed him. According to Robinn, that has joined us for breakfast, it may an agent of the Beggar King. The news are going fast here, we should be careful. I knew there was something fishy in this story, but I can’t let Joelle see that I’m concerned. I wouldn’t want her to be afraid.
The guard meets us in the inn to give us our advance. 100g for our supplies. Robinn points that we will be marked as strangers in the slums if we go like we are. We choose to buy old ragged cloaks to try to pass as beggars. This is in fact an idea of Zartin who seems to be a nice guy for a drow. I don’t know why everybody makes such a fuss about them. I give Flint 2 sp to cover for the room while we are away, and we go where the smoke is told to be the thickest, according to the guard.
Cold rain falls on us, making the trip to the Smoke a really bad experience. Nobody seems to pay attention on us though, the disguise must have work. The place is an horrible sight, has a foul smell, and you could feel eyes on you from every dark openings in the walls that are supposed to be windows. Following the instructions, we go deeper in the fog, until we reach an iron gate, a big portal from which gargoyles seem to look at us with hungry eyes.
We decide to try to climb on some roof to pass the gate. Zartin helps me to get there and then I help everybody to join me. Joelle has some issues to climb, but physical exercise has never been her best asset. It depends on the exercise though… but climbing is not one of them.
When we are all there, we realize that men are coming on our roof too and they don’t seem friendly. Two of them have nets which makes me think that they want to capture us. Zartin begins to intimidate them, and one of them actually jumps from the roof in the alley. I really like this drow! I decide to run up to them, seeing the the group is mainly composed of spellcasters, I have to be like a wall that protects them. Sadly, the roof is slippery and and I fall on my back. Joelle casts one of her freezing spell and the bandits seem to have trouble to stand up. It may buy me time to stand up.
Then, when we think that the fight has just begun, the rain stops, the clouds seem to disperse above us, as we were in the eye of a cyclone. A light shines on us, very bright, coming from the sky, and long tendrils appear from it, grabbing us. I call Joelle but I’m already passing out, her name dying on my lips…
Stay tuned for Joelle’s story after the bright light…