Shadows of Absalom

Chapter 2
The Fellowship Expands

Chapter II of our Adventure began at the pink stucco villa of the scion of House Junius in The Petals District, where Russ and Svala were getting information from  house scion's secretary, Verenus Cielo about the missing teenage girl, Daria.   After spending some time investigating Daria's room, Russo claimed the girl's diary and the pair of adventurers set off to the Arcanamirium to see what they could find out about her.  They discovered that Daria's primary mentor was a tiefling mage named Cenna, whom they interviewed – Daria, she said, was a studious girl who spent her time either in class, in the library of the Arcanamirium, or at home, and seemed to have little interest in anything else.  Inquiry into the girl's arcane interests yielded the fact that she was currently studying prestidigitation.  Also, Cenna opined that the change in Daria's diary from a book of a young girl's dreams to a more sober set of appointment reminders was merely evidence that the girl had grown up and become more interested in her future in the recent couple of years, and probably nothing sinister.  She did not have much else to share about Daria, other than he had seen her once or twice with another student named Justix, a red-haired scrawny young fellow who was currently on probationary enrollment, and whose interest seemed more towards history and magical theory than the practical magic of learning spells. 

Russ and Svala then went on to the library where they met and talked with Vestigus, an Arclord of Nex who was currently on special assignment as a librarian at the Arcanamirium.    Vestigus  confirmed Cenna's observation about Daria meeting with another student, and confirmed his identity as Justix Licinus, and described him as a smallish lad.  Russ and Svala then investigated the 30 or so books on prestidigitation in the library, and eventually found a note which fell out of one of them (A Thousand and One Uses for the Prestidigitational Arts, by Fyfeus Izium) which was written "Meet me at the Shower, D".  After a few moments trying to remember, Russ recalled finally that there was a place in Evergreen Park, in the Green Ridge District that was called The Shower, a large and impressively beautiful rose bush arrangement.   Having some time before their arranged meeting at the Grinning Goblin with Korlax, they decided to pursue this lead.

Meanwhile, the druid Zenari and his faithful wolf companion, Lupo, just arrived in Absalom from Varisia; having spent a rather uncomfortable night in a smelly hammock in a flophouse on The Docks, the druid made a beeline to Evergreen Park to find his contact with the Shepherds Crux circle, Calimos.   The older druid welcomed Zenari, and offered to allow him and Lupo to stay within the magically guarded and warded sacred grove for as long as he needed, and told him he should take some time to acquaint himself with the city.  He also intoned that there  might be some use for the younger druid at a small, secret fort out in the Cairnlands which currently employs a small expedition to explore the area for possible colonization by the city to help relieve some of the population pressure.

As Zenari and Lupo were wandering about Evergreen Park, they happened to come by The Shower at roughly the same time as Russ and Svala, who eventually introduced themselves and asked a number of questions.  After an exchange of information, Zenari offered to assist Russ and Svala with their problem, and helped try to search for tracks around the rose-covered structure.  Not much by way of good information could be gleaned, however, until the group talked to an irritated older man who was painting The Shower – yes, he'd seen the girl and red-headed boy arguing near the flowers, although mostly because they were in his way and in his good light.  He mentioned that he clearly saw the girl depart from the boy in one direction, alone, and then the boy, also alone, in the opposite direction.  Upon further investigation of the structure itself, a small graffiti was carved into the trellis which said J hearts D.

With time getting on, and without any further leads, the group decided to head back to Eastgate so they could meet up with Korlax at the Grinning GoblinLupo remained behind in Evergreen Park.With it being dinner time, the place was pretty full, especially since the gambling den's famous roast pigeon buffet was being offered.  A rather 'ill' Korlax was finally able to purchase his happy juice from Russ (still owing 5 gp, it should be noted), and spent the next few hours in a happy daze, so much so that it was decided, for safety's sake, to bring him and the rest of the group back to Russ's flop in Easthome so he could recover safely.  From there, Russ decided to return to The Coins to swap out a short sword for a rapier, and find out more information, while Zenari decided to walk the streets of Eastgate before finally heading over to The Coins, and then back.   Russ was able to swap his weapon out plus 5 gp to  Swarthy Bill, while Zenari discovered a few interesting spots in The Coins, including a place called the Pecking Penguin, which served foods and drinks in ice cubes and featured a puppy-juggling bard, and Frosty the Pecking Penguin (played by a halfling).

Meanwhile while Russ and Zenari were out and about, Korlax finally woke up enough to answer questions from Svala about  Yeddig Lyshev.  The murderer works a different shift than the Shoanti warrior and did not know much about him, apart from a distasteful reputation, and he also confirmed the fact that one of the hang outs Lyshev frequents in The Coins is a tavern called the Saucy Wench, a place the group visited previously.  Korlax then left to go back to the Postern Gate to get some sleep before duty.

The next day found the group back at the Junius villa in The Petals, where, after some investigation and tracking by Zenari, that the Junius girl must have been spirited away through magic, rather than dragged over the roof by a scrawny 16 year old boy who was actually smaller than the girl herself.  Splitting once again, Zenari and Russ decided to visit the Wise House to meet a half-elven sage acquaintance, one Ellwyn BrightStar to see her wisdom could help solve the mystery, while Svala decided to case the Licinius villa, which was not far away  in The Petals District.

Ellwyn BrightStar was unable to shed any additional light on the case: she could not detect any evidence of possible possession or other magical reasons why Daria's writing in her diary changed over time, and in fact her opinion mirrored the Tiefling teacher's that most likely the girl grew up and found something serious to do with her life.  Svala, having found a good spot to watch the Licinius villa, eventually noticed a young page of perhaps ten years walking with flowers in a vase trip and fall – she went over to comfort the young boy, and got him to spill some information on the location of Justix Licinius - apparently, the young Licinius lad was at a tavern in The Petals called the Silver Fox, where he had been drinking in a morose state for more than a day, so long that his mother was becoming quite upset.  A visit to the Licinius villa resulted in an audience with Quintus Leo, the Licinius seneschal, who confirmed the page's information, and offered Svala payment in exchange for bringing the lad back home quietly.

Svala went to the tavern and talked with Justix; apparently he had an unrequited crush on Daria, who, after meeting him at The Shower, told him to get lost.  He got depressed, and happened to mention the affair to his older brother, a rake and a swordsman named Elo Licinius.  Feeling that his family had been insulted, and probably high as hell on grit Elo and his friends, at least one of which was able to cast arcane spells, decided to 'teach the girl a lesson', and kidnapped her.  This naturally made the younger Licinius brother feel even worse, as he has no idea what became of the girl he had a crush on, apart from some ominous words from Elo saying he 'had to get rid of her so she wouldn't tell on them'.  He also told Svala that his brother Elo had become volatile recently, and had taken to hanging around a miserable, filthy grit shack in The Puddles called the Second Chance.  Svala returned the lad to his home, and then got with the others to visit the Second Chance tavern.

The group visited the squalorific slums that make up The Puddles District, and made it to the Second Chance just as the filthy grit shack was exploding into a bar fight.  They tried to maneuver their way through the chaos to get to Elo Licinius, but alas the situation was too volatile, and they got caught up in the fray.  At one point, a stranger who looked to be the one supplying the fighters with the illegal drug offered to help for a fee of 10 gp, which Russ tossed his way.  After helping for a few rounds, the mysterious rogue bowed out and left the group to fend for itself.  The grumpy dwarven barkeep and his massive, hulking ogre mop-up, named Oog, finally managed to subdue the fight – principally by either killing or knocking out the last combatants.  During the battle, Elo was nearly killed, and was rendered unconscious; Svala too was grievously wounded, and fell.  Faced with such injuries, Russ and Zenari decided to flee the tavern and hole up at the nearest hiding place they could find, which turned out to be a burned out building not too far from the entrance to The Docks district.  As the chapter came to a close, Russ went off to search for a cleric who might take pity on their plight, while Zenari stayed behind to guard the injured Svala and the unconscious Elo .

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Chapter 1
The Grinning Goblin

In which the empty-pursed human investigator/drug purveyor Russo "Russ" Axillia, native of the city of Absalom, and Svala Lorendotter, dedicated Ulfen slayer of Damerrich a new arrival to aforementioned city, met and became acquainted in the Eastgate District and began to share in an adventure.  Russ, needing coin to pay off his landlord, the surly and somewhat silly brawling gnome owner of Easthome, Evona Peesami, went to peddle a bottle of "Happy Juice" to an acquaintance of his, one Korlax, a Shoanti warrior currently employed as a guard at the Postern Gate.  Russ was able to track down the Shoanti at the Grinning Goblin, a grungy, dark, and goblin-infested gambling den and tavern in Eastgate which also features (among other dubious offerings) a semi-nightly critter race on a large table-top maze filled with obstacles, traps, and magical 'surprises', to the delight and betting enjoyment of its drunken, hooting, mostly non-human patrons.  Having lost most of his week's earnings at the rat race, Korlax was unable to purchase his monthly allotment of Happy Juice, at least for the moment, thereby leaving Russ searching for other means to refill his purse.

In the meantime, Svala, a newbie to Absalom, made her way through the city to the Ivy District thanks to her mission passed on through her god, to one of the lesser temples of Calistria and to her ally and new patron,  Luna, a lovely and equally-dedicated half-elf priestess.   Luna offered to employ, house, and feed the slayer in return for finding and punishing murderous client Yeddig Lyshev, a former First Guard who worked for a while as security for the temple before killing a priestess/prostitute of same temple, then re-joining the  Post Guard at the Postern Gate.  In spite of his obvious guilt, Lyshev is protected by someone higher up who values his other talents, and the only way justice can be served upon him is through the Slayer of Damerrich.  Svala immediately went off to stalk her victim.

In time, Russ and Svala eventually met up at the Grinning Goblin, where the two agreed to assist each other – but not before Russ needed to meet up with another of his low-life contacts, a fixer and fence known as the " Bug Man", so called because of all of his 'little flies on the wall' he employs.  The loathsome Bug Man knew of an opportunity for Russ to make some good coin, but would only pass on the information if Russ and his new friend would assist him in the matter of another of his little flies, Erno Grabblethorp, was 'taught a lesson' for stealing from the  Bug Man and for breaking off to start his own fencing operation.  Erno was presently operating in a place in The Docks District of the City known as Salt Mans Alley, which Russ and Svala went to visit.

While investigating the dark, narrow alleys on The Docks, the pair were jumped by several of Erno's thugs and attacked – Russ nearly succumbed during the fight, but the Slayer's brutal axe work turned the tide and shortly 4 dead thugs littered the street.  Having cornered Erno and his very large dog in a dark dead end, it seemed as though more blood would have to flow, until, following a show of intimidation by the axe-wielding Slayer, the wanna-be fence gave up the  Bug Man 's gold necklace and agreed to flee the city.  Having accomplished their mission for the   Bug Man, and richer in coin and by a very fine dagger and pearl ring (Which Swarthy Bill appraised at 20 gp, and  Varushka appraised at 15 gp, and Swarthy Bill eventually purchased for 18 gp), the two went home to deal with the Bug Man the next day.

Impressed by the duo, the  Bug Man told of the opportunity he knew about: an up-and-coming House in The Petals, House Junius, was broken into, and a young woman stolen away.  House Junius is seeking someone with the skills to quietly and discreetly resolve the affair and return the young lady safely to her home.  After a meeting with Korlax, who seemed to have some information regarding a possible job in the Precipice Quarter, Russ and Svala traveled through the city to The Petals District to the pink stucco villa in which the scion of House Junius, Lord Aemon Kraal, lived.   Having explained their purpose to the house guard, the duo was admitted, and interviewed by the house scion's secretary, Verenus Cielo - who confirmed that Lord Kraal's teenage niece Daria, had her bedroom broken into, and now was missing.  Out of desperation, the secretary of House Junius then hired Russ and Svala to find Daria and bring her back home safe and sound for a sum of 500 gp a piece, plus House Junius' 'lasting appreciation', ie a nice favor down the road for both of them.  Cielo informed the two that young Daria was attending the Arcanamirium, studying magic, and led them to her room when Chapter 1 came to a close.

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