Sul, 1 Hili, 3E998
Once the prisoners were secured and the freed slaves were tended to, the Heroes 4 Hire sat down with Lord Neistor to discuss ’what’s next’. They expressed their desire to continue the pursuit of the slaver network, but also informed him of their requirement to return to Eridae for a time to train. Lord Neistor estimated it would take a significant amount of time for interrogations of the prisoners, deposition of the rescued slaves and investigative vetting of information by Kwon and other agents to yield actionable intelligence on the slaver network… several weeks at best, most likely a month or two. With that, H4H suggested they return to Darkshelf in a month and a half to see what progress Neistor’s forces had made and make themselves available for further contract and action.
The Heroes rested the remainder of the day and purchased a few supplies for the trip back to Anchorhead. The next morning, Mol, 2nd of Hili, they loaded up the wagon and headed out for the long road back to Anchorhead. They traveled for the better part of two weeks, crossing the Pelyra River and border near the Eridani fortress known as Southern Watch. The trip was uneventful, with the exception of two nights in a row about mid-trip, where a fireball sailed overhead and impacted nearby, and the Heroes managed to recover both fist-sized meteorites. They arrived back in Anchorhead on Sar, 14th of Hili, stabled the horse and wagon, and checked themselves back into the Onyx Fountain Inn.
Sar, 14 Hili, 3E998
The four members of H4H spent the next several weeks training in their respective disciplines. Krinae Nilok shared his time between the Suippes and the Forum Arcanus, using his Suldar Baldan alias with the latter. Diplo traveled back to Hellespont to train with Father Tristan and Jolene Hellen, and as an added treat got to spend a few weeks visiting with Thia as well. Dajjal spent his time in meditation with his otherwordly patron, pleading that he was ready for more power. Beeblebrox drew on his training experiences prior to his fall from grace and standing with the monastery, and secluded himself into a grueling regimine of physical training and spiritual meditation. Someone cue up the training montage from the original Rocky. Duh duhn dah duhn dah dah DAH duhn duh duhn….
Far, 6 Aufgasta, 3E998
With their training complete and new skills mastered, the four Heroes 4 Hire regrouped in Anchorhead to return to their campaign against the slavers. They purchased some supplies and new equipment, but when Diplo went looking for the Sea Wyvern, he found they were not in port at the time. He went to the Harbormaster’s Offices to look for another ship to book passage, when he came upon Ryoun who was teaching navigation classes. Diplo told Ryoun of his plight to find transportation back to Darkshelf, and Ryoun used his influence and contacts to book them one-way passage for free aboard the Darkmaiden’s Dance, a small merchant caravel headed in the direction of Darkshelf.
The next morning, the team loaded the wagon and the horse onto the deck of the Darkmaiden’s Dance and departed for Darkshelf. They sailed for three days, arriving around sunset on Mol, 9th of Aufgasta. They unloaded, stabled the horse and wagon, and checked back in to the Highmoor Inn. Except Beeblebrox, that is, who was faunching at the bit to try out his new tent made from the hide of the big mudtiger, and set it up out on the edge of town. The next morning, they awoke, ate breakfast and then proceeded to meet with Lord Neistor at his Town Hall offices. He briefed them the results of their investigation, which traced the slavers back to the despoiled city of Highport, in Morytania.
Zol, 10 Aufgasta, 3E998
The Kingdom of Morytania was once a proud nation now lost to antiquity. Mysteriously rended asunder by some cataclysmic event, the region now remains constantly covered in a thick, obscuring mist that reduces visibility to half a mile, and never dissipates. Highport was once a city of the Free Peoples and the shining jewel of Morytania, but now the lands and the town have been overrun by the Inhuman Hordes — orcs, goblins, ogres and gnolls. Looted, burned and ill-kept, the city has become a base for outcasts of the Free Peoples wishing to deal with such unsavory creatures.
The slavers do not hide in Highport; their operation is in full view. There is no law in Morytania, no government to enforce civilization. Neistor had sent his agent, Kwon, ahead to scout and verify their findings, and had signaled back that the intelligence was indeed accurate. He had found and surveilled the location of the slaver base, and was ready for Neistor to send in the strike force… namely, the Heroes 4 Hire. Lord Neistor had already arranged for a transport willing to take the team to Highport and remain there to return them to Darkshelf, a company just shady enough to do it quietly and clandestinely. This small ship would arrive the next day, and while they are on the mission H4H could leave their wagon and horse in the care of the Darkshelf livery stables. Neistor offered the Heroes a contract to take care of the base in Highport, a payment arrangement was agreed to, and the details were hashed out.
The party was to meet their handler, Kwon, in Highport to receive further direction and information. They were to protect Kwon’s identity at all costs, so he could continue tracing the slaver network to wherever the trail led next. The team was to investigate and destroy the Highport slaver base, and discover any leads to other cells, operating locations or personnel associated with the slaving network. The party could also keep any loot they recovered, over and above the agreed on payment from Neistor.
The Heroes 4 Hire spent the remainder of the day preparing, and at dawn the next morning the Black Lagoon, the low, fast sloop from the Lagoon Company docked, looking for their passengers. The party boarded, and they departed for the eight-day sail just before noon on Wir, 11 Aufgasta. Three days out of Darkshelf, the sloop dropped canvas long enough to switch to yellow sails, brought to bluff their way past any marauding pirates on the way. They made it to Highport uneventfully, arriving just before sunset on Zor, the 19th. As the party disembarked the ship, Dutch informed them that he intended to pull back from the docks and drop anchor about 200 yards out in the bay, to discourage any uninvited guests aboard the sloop. The team found their way through the ruined city, careful to steer clear of any groups of humanoids that might be looking for a fight, and found a rundown inn and tavern called the Yellow Flag to board for the night.
The contact procedure for Kwon was simple. Have dinner in the tavern at the inn where you’re staying, and he’ll find you. After settling into their disheveled rooms, they came down together for dinner, and immediately found a cloaked figure in a dark corner staring at them… Kwon’s face barely visible under the dark gray hood. They came over and sat down, ordered food and then received their update briefing from Kwon. He had reconnoitered the slaver base, operating out of a ruined temple on the edge of town. He had drawn a picture of the exterior of the temple ruins, passed them information on the guards and patrols, visitors and slaving clients he had observed come and go, and shared his suspicion that the was one way station of a larger network. He had no information of the interior of the temple ruins, because he stayed away to maintain his anonymity.
2000, Zor, 19 Aufgasta, 3E998
What will the Heroes uncover when they assault the Temple? Where will this trail lead next?
Tune in next week, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!”