Monday, August 1, 2016

The Hand of the Driftwood King

Word was circulating around Chancel that the enigmatic Rue sisters were looking for a few adventurous souls to investigate a strange bit of green parchment that had come into their possession. Pen Bennett (a warrior and acolyte of St. Othric), Tobias Rune (a scholar with an interest in "scientific diabolism"), Tristan (avenging proselyte of St. Othric), and Luka Lilithian (trigger-happy urban ranger) answered the call. The group met with the sisters in a tea house, where the sisters agreed to pay the adventurers 1600 gp to investigate a bit of rich green parchment that read: '“Samuels is dead. Watch your back, they will be after you next. Meet me in the Manticore Club Green Room on the 27th night, at nine. Bring the hand, and be careful. May the Saints have mercy on our souls.” -- Donnelson.'

After accepting the job, there was some interesting conversation among the group--the more pious members of this party were a little leery of working with someone using fiendish power, as Tobias was. (Side note: as a DM, I love that potential for inter-party strife and conflicting character goals and methods--as long as it doesn't break out into some weird PvP scenario.)

The name of the Manticore Club was familiar to a few members of the party; they recognized it as a gentleman's club catering to men of standing in society. The premises were identifiable by the large bronzes sculptures of three-headed beasts that flanked the front entrance. The group hailed a carriage and began to drive across the city to the posh district in which the club was located. On the way, a carriage pulled up next to theirs; inside was a woman with dark hair in a green satin dress who gestured for them to roll down their window. They rolled the window down--and the woman threw something large and wriggling into the party's carriage. Pen managed to catch the thing--it was a many-fanged eel--and Luka had the foresight to knock it out of his hands and into the street.

The interloper's carriage began to pull away, but Pen and Luka leaped onto the back of it. Tristan and Tobias attacked carriage-to-carriage while Pen grappled the carriage's driver from atop the moving vehicle and Luka engaged the woman inside (who turned out to have a few potent dark magics at her disposal). Luka managed to knock the woman unconscious, and Pen tossed the driver off the carriage and brought the vehicle to a halt on a side street where Tobias and Tristan's carriage caught up with them.

They decided to forego the trip to the Manticore Club for the present and instead took the woman back to the basement of Pen's church for questioning. As they chained the woman to a plinth, a few of the group noticed that she bore a striking resemblance to someone they knew--she looked like an older, slightly stockier Ivara Olashenko. Noting the connection, Luka set off to fetch the young scholar for whatever help she might be able to provide in this situation; the others began to process of dredging information from their captive. Her name is Imogen, she belongs to a coven of witches, and she attempted to waylay the party from reaching the Manticore Club because her witch-sister believe it is essential that they should be the ones to find "the hand."

When Ivara arrived and saw her sister bound and defeated in the basement of the church it may have looked like she had to turn away in sorrow at the sorry sight before her, turned out she turned away to laugh into her hand. Apparently there is no love lost between these siblings. Ivara was able to fill in some crucial details: she said that she had many sisters of "varying degrees of witchiness," that the hand was a part of a devil called the Driftwood King and could be used to free him from his undersea prison, and that she didn't care much about the ultimate fate of her sister. Authorities from the Church of Saintly Blood were summoned, and Imogen was taken away to be "put to the question" under duress.

Carriage chase and interrogation interlude over, the party made their way back to the Manticore Club to engage in a bit of surveillance. Loitering upon the street showed them that the door to the club was tended by a muscular bruiser with close-cropped red hair who was stationed to let men of prosperous aspect with the proper club credentials inside. Tobias's scientific diabolism came in handy; he used his familiar to get a view of the club before the party infiltrated personally. The familiar observed that there was a smoking lounge, a billiards room, a dining room, and a locked door where everything beyond the keyhole appeared to be green. The men inside the Club didn't seem to be discussing anything more weighty than the profits from their investments and the casual intrigues of their mistresses. 

Meanwhile, Luka had sought out Martinus di Rosalba to see if he could help them gain entrance to the club, but sadly the dandy had no connections to that particular club (he views the members of the Manticore Club as boring old men with no interest in the latest fashions). However, it turned out that all the party needed to do was wave the strange green parchment obtained by the Rue sisters under the nose of the doorman to find the door opened for Luka and Tobias. (Tristan and Pen decided to wait in a carriage with the group's stockpile of weaponry.) Inquiring after Donnelson revealed that he had set and meeting for nine o'clock, and of course the Club's Green Room would be available for the meeting.

Come nine, Tobias and Luka allowed themselves to be admitted into the Green Room, a circular chamber with a green carpet, a green painted ceiling, and decorated with green wallpaper. A green circular table stood at the center of the room with a green lamp upon it. Twelve green upholstered chairs were arranged around the table like the numerals around a clock face. After entering, the door was locked behind them. 

As the duo searched the walls for tell-tale hollows that might bespeak hidden passages, the door to the Green Room was unlocked and a well-dressed man with a big gray beard was admitted. His eyes went wide when he realized that Tobias and Luka were not who he had expected to meet. He pulled a pistol, held in a shaky hand, and Luka pulled his as well. A combination of persuasion and intimidation eventually got the suspicious man to lay down his firearm and discuss the matter rationally. His name was Pierce Morrison; he had helped fund an expedition to a mysterious jungle land to the south with Donnelson and some other members of the Manticore Club; one of their "discoveries" was a strange temple that they looted; one of the treasures taken was a hand that seemed to be carved of driftwood, but Morrison swore that the hand left him feeling uneasy and he swore he once saw it move of its own accord.

The green parchment that the Rue sisters had found was a letter from Donnelson to Morrison; Morrison has unwittingly left it behind in a carriage. Donnelson believed that the members of their expedition were in danger; an idea given weight by the fact that the other members of the mission had already met with dubious ends. Unfortunately, before receiving the green parchment arranging the meeting, Morrison had already sent the hand to Donnelson's home via a courier. Morrison then realized that if Donnelson hadn't yet arrived for the meeting he had scheduled in the Green Room, he might then be in danger. Since he was a man of means and the men in front of him appeared capable, Morrison offered them money if they would accompany him to Donnelson's home to search out his missing friend. Luckily, Pen and Tristan were already waiting out front in a carriage with all the weapons and armor the party habitually uses in its war against the darkness.

Donnelson's home was located in a section of Chancel that mostly housed wealthy businessmen. There were no lights in the windows and the door appeared both locked and impervious to Pen's attempts to kick it down. Not to be stymied from breaking things, Pen crashed through a window instead (!!!) and unlocked the door for the rest of the party. The group then commenced a room-by-room search of Donnelson's house by splitting into two parties: Tobias and Tristan began searching the ground floor, Luka and Pen began searching the upper floor. This led to two separate melees breaking out: Tristan and Tobias found a woman rifling through a desk while Pen and Luka were ambushed by an invisible witch in the library upstairs. Tobias and Tristan seemed to have an easier time of things; oddly, the combination of holy might and infernal power brought their foe down without much collateral damage. Luka and Pen were also triumphant, but Luka took a fairly sound beating...and ended up ambushed again when Pen left him alone upstairs. (Morrison cowered near the stairs the entire time.)

After the combats, continued search of the house uncovered a wooden hand left on the bed in the master bedroom. Sensing a decoy, they found that a window in the bedroom was broken and outside a figure was stealing away into the shadows. Luka's urban tracking abilities and Tobias's familiar helped locate the trail of the fleeing woman who had a wooden case tucked under her arm. Using his magic to catch up to her, Luka was able to get close enough to drop her with a shot through the back. In the wooden case was the real hand of the Driftwood King. Piling into their carriage and leaving the scene before the night watch arrived, the party returned to the church to store the hand in the tombs beneath the edifice. Donnelson has yet to be found and is now presumed to be deceased.

The Spoils
XP - 806 each

Treasure -
  • 600 gp each
  • the hand of the Driftwood King
Renown -