"The smoke swirled in the room as the heat from the fiery staircase radiated through the Orphanage. Evie locked eyes with the evil witch as a bright beam of light cascaded down from the solid oaken ceiling. Instantly, the witch's form burned with magic energy as the children upstairs screamed for help. Shae kicked through the attic window, only to discover a fifteen foot drop…"
Our heroes arrived in Tidus merely a days ride after leaving the small village. Nissa claimed to be right behind them, wanting to meet up to discuss some issues she'd heard of in the city. However, two days passed, and no sign of their friend. Pablo, who grew tired of waiting, left for the Mage's college to do some more research on the unknown religion Nissa claimed to be part of—as well as smoke some of his finely crafted herb. Waiting for word on the glue market, Dickfor and Shae took to the docks and drank in a seedy tavern called The Mouse's Shadow, controlled by Dickfor's guild the Gare Noir.
Shae's sending stone finally vibrated in his pocket, indicating Nissa's arrival. After speaking with some prostitutes (one of which had cloven hooves) and drinking some "fine" ale, the two elected to meet Nissa in a more reputable establishment, a tavern in the Middle District called Freyda's. Before leaving, the bartender at the Mouse's Shadow, a heavy-set Half-Orc, told Dickfor that Astrid was looking for him, and needed to speak with him at once. Noting Astrids request, the two found Nissa with a female elf they had not seen before.
Nissa explained that when taking Samuel Lightfoot back to his home village, she received word from her church that Tidus had been having a problem with young urchin boys going missing in the streets. The boy's ages ranged from ten to twelve, and were not seen after their disappearance by any known informant. Nissa asked for Dickfor and Shae's help, and they agreed—on the condition they meet with Astrid first. Nissa agreed, and introduced the party to Evie, a young elven druid with knowledge of the city and great power. Evie neglected to share much personal information with the party, only stating she was a member of the elusive Circle of the Moon. Also, potato skins got thrown on the floor for some reason because this game is ridiculous.
All four heroes arrived at the Gare Noir headquarters, something Astrid was less than pleased with. Bringing new people into the Gare, she stated, was not something for Dickfor to decide. Alas, she disclosed she was in dire need of assistance. Fallon, Astrid's top fence, needed help finding his son, Holden. Holden, only six years old, had been missing for twenty-four hours, and no one had any idea who (or what) took him. Astrid offered the party 400 gps for the boy's safe return, and 100 gps on the information of his death. She also warned the party of the time crunch; after 48 hours, missing people generally turn up dead in the river. Nissa and Evie's interest piqued especially due to the similarities between Holden's disappearance and the mystery of the missing boys.
The party talked with Fallon about Holden, and learned some key pieces of information. Holden enjoyed spending time at the bakery in the Middle District Marketplace, owned by a man named Krishna. Krishna had long paid his debts to the Gare, and in return received top pick of produce and supplies from the West. After some prying, Fallon revealed Holden could not speak and often suffered from sensory overload. Holden's mother had dropped him off at the bakery, and Fallon arrived only a little late to pick him up. Holden was instructed to wait on the stone benches, but he was no where to be found when Fallon arrived. Fallon, clearly heartbroken over his son's disappearance, left the party's questioning to take care of some business with Astrid, indicating it was time for the party to head to the bakery. Before leaving, Shae talked with some assassins at the bar, who offered information in exchange for gold and a two hour waiting period. Shae declined, but Dickfor wondered what the assassins would have known about the boy's disappearance…
Arriving in the marketplace, the party headed to the bakery immediately. Krishna welcomed the group, recognizing Dickfor as a member of the Gare Noir. He said he did not know what happened to the boy, only that Fallon was late picking him up and he needed to close the shop. He left Holden on the bench outside, clearly seen from the front window of the shop. Evie, spying Krishna's son Ali, elected to speak with him. He revealed Holden never spoke and often screamed, but he had recently made a new friend. Ali described a woman in white, who started visiting Holden in the past week. He told Evie her dress looked like the dresses the women wore at the Orphanage run by the Sisters of Chordessa. The party had gathered some good information, but before leaving had noticed Krishna's dog cowering in the corner. Performing the ritual of the Spirit Wolf, Dickfor spoke with the dog. Frightened beyond reason, the dog revealed only a few words:
"She came from the grates, and she took him. A monster from the grates."
Alarmed with the new information, the party separated to save time. Nissa took to the orphanage, conveniently located near the Mage's college where Pablo resided. Evie and Shae went to the market to gather supplies, and Dickfor searched around the bakery for remaining clues. Nissa used her divine sense to discover an overwhelmingly evil aura radiating from the orphanage, so she thought it best to wait for the party before entering. She sought out Pablo at the college in order to do some research on the Sisters of Chordessa, revealing a battle long ago with a coven of witches and their leader, Chordessa. Dickfor discovered clues of the boys disappearance, namely a piece of a red shirt Holden was wearing the night he vanished. He also found a sewer grate visible from the window. Plugging the slits of his nose, Dickfor jumped into the sewer, hoping for an answer. Once again channeling his wolf spirit, Dickfor spoke with the numerous rats in the sewer. They told him they could "take him to her" and "show the way," all with a suspicious amount of eagerness.
Meanwhile, Evie and Shae gathered supplies and entered a weapon shop in the Marketplace. Upon gazing on other swords, Shae felt a calling from his own, and saw for the first time a wholly personified image of Gisa the Ghoulcaller. She told Shae she knew stories of witches who took little boys and she would offer him help in showing the way. She also revealed her brother, Geralf, still lived. However, Evie noticed Shae's strange behavior as he stared into the distance, provoking Gisa's disappearance and causing a small injury to Shae in the process. Only Shae could see the apparition, but her promises seemed genuine…
The party reconvened at the Orphanage upon the information of Nissa's divine sense. They entered together through the wooden door and met the Sisters Cersei, Sara, and Bella, who turned out to be a coven of witches themselves. On the wall hung an eerie painting of the witch Chordessa, a woman in white with gorgeous locks of long hair and an outstretched hand. The orphanage had a loft, where four children lived. Three young boys, all fed entirely too well, and one teenage girl, skinny and fascinated by Dickfor's dragon blood. The boys revealed they all were force fed, hating all things sweet. One boy, Rishkar, revealed his nightmares of a gruesome woman leaning over his bed. The girl, Kari, revealed to Dickfor that she wanted to run away and the sisters were not as holy as they seemed. The witches ambushed the party after their discussion with the children, and provoked the longest and deadliest fight in our dnd history thus far. One witch ignited the staircase, causing the Orphanage to burn to the ground—luckily mere minutes after Shae rescued the four orphan children and sent them to Pablo. Dickfor slaughtered Cersei, while Evie and Nissa focused their energy on the other two sisters. After enduring Dissonant Whispers, a laughing spell, and a lot of Eldritch blasts, the party finally defeated the witch coven and escaped the burning building unscathed.
Turning to Pablo for help, the party researched more into the name Chordessa, and how best to defeat their foe who clearly had Holden in her grasp. Nissa discovered a map of the sewers and a description of Hags, a horrible breed of creature who's sole purpose in life is to cause misery and despair—their trademark diet consisting of small children. One alarming piece of information (only discovered because the party rolled a fucking 20) is that hags often breed human daughters into hags, and they come of age right at sixteen—leading the party to believe Kari, the orphan girl, might be a hag in disguise. To their surprise, thanks to Nissa's divine sense, Kari had an overwhelming presence of good surrounding her—similar to an Angel. The plot began to thicken…
Dickfor and Shae returned to the burned orphanage and discovered a secret path to the sewers behind the painting of the Woman in White, aka the Hag Chordessa. Thanks to another fucking roll of a 20, Dickfor discovered the painting had been coated with a magic lacquer to turn away all of good alignment. Luckily, the fire had torn the painting and revealed a staircase to the sewer system below. The men also found an old clay necklace belonging to Kari. Kari gave the necklace as a gift for saving her life, saying it would bring them good fortune. After a third goddamn 20, the party learned the necklace had four charges of the Bless spell. It was time to face the music and go after the Hag herself.
Before departing, the party returned to the Gare Noir to inform Astrid, only to discover the alarming disappearance of everyone in the headquarters. Astrid had left a note for Dickfor, stating they needed to take care of some business but he needed to stay on track finding Holden. She left him a ring made of bone like material, and once he put it on he could fully channel the Spirit of the Wolf, allowing him to warg into other animals and gain their senses entirely.
Following the path through the sewers, with help from Nissa's map and the rats, the party discovered a drop off outside of the city and into a lake in the forest. Jumping in, the party swam to shore to discover eerie lights floating in the trees. The lights turned out to be Will o Wisps, spirits of the dead children eaten by the evil Hag. The party seriously missed Pablo due to the wispy (ha) and incorporeal nature of the monsters, but they defeated them nonetheless. The trail of wisps lead to Chordessa's cave, where they heard the blood curdling screams of small children in despair. Our heroes raced to the bottom of the cave, defeating Chordessa way too easily. They did not fall for her tricks of illusion, and they made it in time to rescue Holden and two other boys—but unfortunately failed to save one, Rishkar's twin brother Peema.
The party discovered many treasures in Chordessa's cave, but one striking note left the party in awe. The note read:
“We know what you’re doing. The boss doesn’t like it. We bring you the fat ones, you stay out of Tidus. We let you live here—you let us do our jobs, you disgusting whore. Fuck up again, and we are coming for you.” – Morgana
The note was sealed with a red rose encased in thorns, a sign Dickfor recognized from the village of Geralf and Gisa. Filled with mystery, the party took the note and returned to Tidus. Evie and Nissa elected to stick with Dickfor and Shae, impressed by their good nature despite their shady pasts. The party returned to the Gare Noir to find Fallon, who was overjoyed at Holden's safe return. Fallon assured the party if they ever needed his services, he would be an ally to them for life. The party asked about the absence of the other guild members, and Fallon only muttered one solemn word: Rosenthorns.
Who are the Rosenthorns? What is happening to the children in Tidus, the ones not captured by the witch? Who is Kari, or rather what is she? Geralf is still alive? What consequences will come from Gisa possessing Shae's sword? Will James stop rolling 20's on intelligence checks because SERIOUSLY? Find out when we return to the Province of Loirdae…