Fallen

The Perfect Crime
What Bruce Saw...Maybe...

The Streets of Cheelast were quiet as a cloaked figure made his way towards the rear entrance of Jack’s Alchemy Shack. Standing by a barred window he looked over his shoulder to ensure he was alone before seemingly vanishing, and reappearing a moment later on the other side. Being careful not to make any disturbances he searches the ground floor before approaching the stairs. There are a few small creaks as ascends, but he manages to avoid making too much noise before emerging into a hallway with an open door facing him.

Hiding in the shadows he pulls out his rope, removing 2 feet from the end with his dagger. As he sneaks towards the doorway the faint sound of breathing can be heard coming from somewhere within the room ahead. Whispering a brief incantation causes a tapping noise to be heard coming from the window opposite the doorway. After a minute of erratic tapping a dwarf approaches the window, opens it and looks down at the street below. As he attempts to determine the cause of his disturbance he is caught by surprise as something quickly passes by his eyes before tightening around his neck.

Lowering the body to the floor the figure says a brief farewell to the poor dwarf before checking the street for any witnesses. Closing the window he hears an unusual sound coming from behind him and he turns to see that something has began to pulse and wriggle beneath the dwarfs skin. Momentarily shocked he watches as the dwarf’s limbs begin to stretch, his hair retreats back into his body and his skin turns a deep blue. Coming back to his senses he gets ready to defend himself before realizing that the body is now once again completely motionless on the floor.

With some difficulty the body is dragged downstairs into the office and placed slouched over the desk as if it was simply sleeping, and two bottles of dark brown liquid are poured over it and the desk. As the intruder reaches for an unlit candle sitting on the desk he notices a journal bound in leather that appears to have been hidden away behind a large pile of business ledgers. The journal is coded but appears to contain information about the structure of the resistance currently operating with the city, so is pocketed so that it may be studied more thoroughly at a later time. An inch is cut from the top of the candle, placed it in the middle of the liquid on the desk and lit. The intruder exits the same way he entered and disappears into the night, leaving behind no trace that anyone but the owner had set foot within the building that night.

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Return of the Bruce
A Lovely Little Thinker, But a Bugger When He's Pissed.

After resting the party headed straight for the docks, forgoing the chance to stop at Meeson's for one last ale. As the rebellion had all but won the day there was no resistance on the way, indeed the guard at the docks entrance was surprised to see anyone arriving from through the west gate. He directed them along the main road towards the central wharf, to where Captain Teelan was heading the garrison. Civilians were beginning to return to the docks with clean up and repairs already under way, it seemed they were keen to wipe the stain of Velspar from the city.

Teelan was indeed happy to see the adventurers arrive at his barricade, as his men had not been able to penetrate the first layers of defence. Sadly his scouts had no luck finding where Bruce may be being held either. Moving cautiously the party made their way down the main road, stopping to clear caltrops and enter the first warehouse they came across. Inside they found an empty warehouse, until Rynn found the switch that dropped barrels of gas onto the party. Leaving by a side door the Zahar discovered bear traps hiding under rubbish in a small alley between this and the next warehouse. 

Moving rapidly they crossed the next warehouse quickly, finding a small secret door leading to yet another warehouse. Here they were ambushed by some very stealthy guards, who were handled quite quickly. Rynn found another trap in the office, which resulted in a barrel of acid being spilt through the room. Before they left someone set something on fire, and the warehouse slowly began to burn.

Outside they decided to head for the harbour tower, believing they would find Bruce there. On the waterfront they were attacked by two Chasme Demons, who quite effectively inflicted necrotic injuries on the party. Before they could recover half a dozen Quasits leaped in toad form from the water to attack. They lasted mere seconds. Continuing on they reached and entered the tower, finding a typical import/export business coupled with the harbour control. Offices, reception, office supplies and a control tower were all quite uneventful. Except for Nicholai, the Oathbreaker, waiting for them in the tower.

Nicholai fought well, but was no match for the Druid and his metal heating ability. Quickly subdued he was tortured for information, which although unwillingly he told the group answers to what he was asked. After only three questions Saggy grew bored, and threw him off the tower into the dark water. The Oathbreaker was no more.

Armed with the knowledge of where Bruce was being held, the party had a quick rest and then raced to the correct warehouse. Inside they found Bruce suspended from a crane, and several vampire spawn waiting in ambush. The fight was hard, but the adventurers finally defeated the three spawn and were able to rescue Bruce. Outside the Town Guard had taken advantage of the party's attack and had launched their own offensive. Without the support of the spawn the final remnants of those loyal to Velspar fell easily.

Bruce was back with the party, Velspar was defeated and Cheelast was free. The group decided to spend a ten-day in Cheelast before heading to Nitru's village, to hopefully get some more answers off Jacobi.

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Velspar Has Fallen
Freedom for Cheelast

Fleeing the slowly flooding castle the adventurers took the time to supplement their looting with some pillaging, setting fire to irreplaceable and priceless artworks. Once out they could see the city burning. Westport was under attack, the Docks seemed ablaze, and a large squad of town Guard stood defending the main junction of three bridges. There was some discussion about if the Guard would let them through, until Argos grew impatient and cleared the area with a small Fireball. 

Moving on there was discussion of where to go and although convincing arguments for the Docks and Factorium were made, Saggy's simple 'Ale' won the day. To Meeson's they traveled for ale. More Guard were blocking the entrance to the Market Quarter, but it was quickly determined they had defected to the Resistance. Between drinks they caught up with Meeson on the progress of the fight. The Market Quarter was secure, with most of the Guard defecting quickly to the Resistance. The Docks were mostly secure, with a few holdouts still causing trouble. The Factorium was a mess, Meeson had sent several scouts into the area but none had returned; all she knew was 'something' was in there killing Velspar's forces. West Port was a mystery, but she knew Velspar would be hiding somewhere in the tower.

Racing through West Port was easier as the magical protection in the area had depleted since Velspar's defeat. This time the only thing slowing them down was a group of Cultists. Very strong Cultists. And a Wizard. Facing defeat the adventurers fled across the bridge to the Tower, almost leaving Saggy behind. Stopped by the same magic that granted them their power the Cultists were powerless to follow, and remained behind in West Port.

Zahar was able to use his Druidic spells to determine Velspar was indeed still in the Tower, and once inside discovered he was somewhere on the top of the tower. With no discernable way up Saggy donned his Claws of the Umberhulk and began climbing, he was soon followed by Zahar in the form of a giant spider. The top of the tower was a single large room, with the ground floor well replicated upside down in the ceiling, but still no sign of Velspar. Investigation of the room, and even the roof, turned up no sign of the Vampire. Zahar was able to home in on his location using his strange magic's, and Saggy dug through the stone to reveal the supporting stone beams were hollow. In these spaces Velspar had established another resting place, and it was here he met his doom. A hastily made stake and casting of Moonbeam finally saw the end of the Vampire Lord. 

Victorious the adventurers settled down to rest, deciding to wait until they had recovered before trying to descend from the Tower. It was during the rest that they were disturbed by four Hell Hounds, accompanying none other than Jack the Dwarf. He was happy to explain what had been happening over the last few weeks and decades, and how the adventurers fit into it all. And that he had used a body double who was killed. And that he was actually an Angel of Tyr, whose current mission was to rid Cheelast of Velspar. He directed the party to where they could find Bruce, and instructed them to return to Nitru once they had freed him. 

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Velspar's Journal
As found in his castle...

There are no dates or indication of time passing in the journal, but if the look of the pages and ink are anything to go by it is in a rough chronological order. Most entries are not very relevant or interesting, but there are some that stand out.

  1. Finally, I have found a new home. This sinking city has all that I need in a new lair. My spawn have already re-purposed the castle, and the bridges to the mainland have been repaired. Soon I will have a new resting place and a place where the cattle will come to me.
  2. The city, which the cattle have begun to call ‘Cheelast’, continues to grow. Several thousand now reside on the shore in rudimentary shacks, with many beginning to shore up and re-build on the islands. More ships arrive from across the Sea of Tears daily, bringing trade goods and seeking cattle to trade with. Perhaps I should get into the merchant business?
  3. Most of my spawn have now returned to the mountains to deal with some small problems there. Cheelast, I must find out what that means, has become a thriving little trade hub. Talking to some merchants there were no good ports on the south coast, and as this city grew they took the opportunity to make one. The Market Quarter continues to grow, the Docks are at capacity, and there are the beginnings of an industrial development on the south west island. Some small cattle have built a ‘factory’ and have started building things, I must raise the taxes on exports!
  4. That’s the final straw! I have instructed my spawn to found a city guard, the last few months have seen theft and vandalism all across the city. A guard will be able to maintain order…so long as it is my order.
  5. West Port is lost. The cults activity has forced all my cattle to abandon the quarter, and all my imports have had to move to the East Docks. But all is not lost, I will use the old temple as a base of sorts, and the cultists and their magics can keep the path through West Port quite safe. For me.
  6. My spies to the south have identified the source of our recent trouble. A Shadar-kai village, run by someone called ‘Nitru’, has been sending raiding parties into my other lairs and disrupting my supply lines! The guard is effective in the city, but have had little success in the wilds. I must find another solution.
  7. I have had an interesting proposition made. A fiend called Dreal’Bau has offered a trade which is almost too good to be true. He has offered to re-purpose the old industrial quarter and make some…upgrades. He wishes for more mortal souls for something he calls the ‘Blood War’, and wishes to take the souls of my cattle. I have no use for them and so have of course accepted. I must find a way to hide this from my cattle.
  8. The Docks are over flowing with imports! Each day brings more ships filled with cattle packed in crates and barrels. They are ushered to the Factorium where Dreal’Bau’s magic’s are used to separate the souls, convert the bodies, and send both to where they need to be. Re-animating the bodies has turned out to be a nice side business, as many around the Sea of Tears are looking for expendable soldiers.
  9. Nitru MUST be destroyed! He has started sending mortals from Faerun against me! He has found some Paladin as an ally who sends him these ‘adventurers’ on some sort of holy quest to kill my spawn and even target me! Luckily they have all been susceptible to my charms, and some have even joined my side…
  10. Loosing Lance is actually a small blow, but at least Jack is finally out of the picture. As Lance was able to direct the adventurers to me, that irritating shape-shifter was able to convince them otherwise. This newest group may cause further complications.
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Castle Delving

Journeying down the adventurers found what could be an ordinary castle. A library stocked with books and tomes covering a vast array of subjects; a grand hall of tapestries and wealth; bedrooms and an old forge. The bedrooms were full of old adventurer clothes, the only reminder of the adventurers that had been lured and turned by Velspar. Sandrina found the only danger on this level, as she did not find a poison gas trap on a chest full of gold coins. 

Finding a descending stair case they continued down into the grand hall, greeted by Mersted and his Glabrezu associate, Almathog. Mersted presented a sumptuous feast for the adventurers, and asked them to join him in a civilised meal. He explained some history of Cheelast and Velspar, how he had been an adventurer from Waterdeep before he and his friends had been recruited by Brastan. On arrival in Cheelast they accepted an offer from Velspar, eternal life in return for their service. Mersted and his companions had accepted.

Frustrated at talking Sandrina opened fire on Mersted. She was quickly joined by the others, and Mersted fell before he could finish explaining his offer. Pressing the attack prevented Almathog from causing any real damage before he too was defeated. After finishing the feast the party found the kitchen and larder, a macabre mixture of normal food and the remains of intelligent humanoids. A small side chamber hid a suit of Demon Armor, that Saggy quickly donned and is now stuck in for some time.

The base of the first tower they entered revealed Velspar's study, full of scrolls, history, and Velspar's journal. Through a secret door they found a way into his crypt, and what should be the final encounter with Velspar. In no mood for conversation the adventurers attacked as soon as Velspar made himself visible. Although he held his own a single Vampire is no match for a group of seasoned adventurers, and he was forced into his mist form and fled the castle. All that was left was for the party to decide on their next course of action.

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Hope. Struggle. Resistance.
The Sinking City Rises

With no one to stop them, the adventurers turned their attention to looting Lance's store for everything of value. They first removed his head, Sandrina placing it quietly in Saggy's Handy Haversack, and attempted to destroy the body by swirling the flooded basement into 'running' water. Freshly laden down with goods, and satisfied that Lance was finally dead, they returned to Meeson's for a well earned ale.

Talk at the bar was still mostly around the death of Jack and the destruction of his store. Desperate for more information the party split and tried different methods of intelligence gathering. Argos simply observed and watched for vampiric signs, Sandrina worked the room using her natural charisma, Rynn quietly meditated seeking answers from the universe, and Saggy got drunk. As usual.

Frustrated Saggy and Argos attempted to question Meeson, using the time honoured method of beating around the bush and generally avoiding any form of direct question. Sensing their lack of progress Sandrina approached and simply asked about Lance and Velspar, and to everyone's surprise got a straight answer. With unexpected trust Meeson instructed them to meet her in the back room in ten minutes.

Here they met Zahar, a Shadar-kai Druid in the employ of Meeson, and discovered they had been followed and watched since their arrival in Cheelast. Meeson was quite forthcoming with details on Cheelast and the influence Velspar has had on the city. He had spent centuries ruling the city, firstly from his castle and later it seemed from the Tower. He maintained control and order through the Guard, who mostly seemed unaware of who their employer really was. To bring money he built the Factorium, and began imported people. Beings of all races and cultures were being shipped in from all over the Shadowfell, and nothing was being exported out. For all their investigation the resistance could not discover what was really going on in the Factorium.

Over the last few decades Meeson had been receiving adventurers from Faerun to assist with defeating Velspar. She only knew that they were sent from the south by another Shadar-kai named Nitru, how they came to the Shadowfell she did not now. All she could confirm is that no other group had made it out of West Port before. All they knew of the operation was that Velspar was not working alone, he had a business partner outside the city he had regular dealings with.

Jack was the main organiser of the resistance, ensuring the separate cells worked in unison but without hindering each other. With Jack dead it would make holding the resistance together almost impossible. But Meeson had one final plan. She had word that the resistance would be attacking the Factorium that night, and wanted the party to head to the castle to take on Velspar. 

With little hesitation the adventurers were joined by Zahar and made their way to the Sunken Castle. It was easy enough to enter, with the tops of two towers jutting above the water providing a way in. On the first level they found what could only be Velspar's master suite, and a large hall guarded by several lesser vampires and their zombie lackeys. Finding nothing of value in the chambers the party continued their descent, keen to find and slay Velspar.

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Lance's Inventory
Loot and Plunder

Lance, I have completed your inventory. Please try to keep your store more organised next time! Do you have any idea how difficult it is to organise and count the crap you have in here!

Adventuring Supplies

  • Backpack x 4 (2 normal, 2 small)
  • Bedroll x 6 (5 normal, 1 small)
  • Blanket x 8
  • Bottle, Glass x 26 (21 Green, 5 brown)
  • Scroll Cases, Assorted x 14
  • Chain, Steel x 30ft
  • Rope, Hempen x 350ft (in convenient 50ft lengths)
  • Hand Tools, Assorted x 17
  • Hunting Traps, Assorted x 3
  • Ink, Bottle, 1 ounce x 5
  • Ink Pen, x 4
  • Pot, Cooking x 3
  • Soap, Assorted x 39
  • Abacus x 1
  • Torches, x 8
  • Mess Kit, x 4
  • Pick, Miner’s x 1
  • Belts, Assorted x 6
  • Pouches, Assorted x 16
  • Sack x 2
  • Tinderbox x 3
  • Whistle, Signal x 1
  • Piton x 11
  • Mirrors, Assorted Small x3
  • Vial, Glass x 9
  • Waterskin x 5
  • Barrel, Empty x 3

Tools

  • Cartographer’s Tools, Assorted x 1 Set
  • Jeweler’s Tools, Assorted x 1 Set
  • Thieves Tools, Assorted x 1 Set (Incomplete)
  • Herbalism Kit x1 Set

Trade Goods

  • Dried Foods, assorted x 2 crates
  • Cotton, Spun, 4 bolts
  • Wool, 6 bolts
  • Spider Silk, 2 bolts
  • Spices, Unidentifiable, 3 small barrels

Arms & Armour

  • Leather Armour, Assorted Sizes x 3
  • Hand Weapons, Barrel, Assorted
  • Shields, Assorted x 4
  • Half-plate x 1

Where did you get this stuff? It certainly doesn’t look locally made…

 

In addition you find:

  • 2560gp from Fareun
  • 12000sp from Faerun
  • 1200pp from Cheelast
  • An accounting journal which shows Lance had a lot more cash until someone sold him a giant diamond…

 

A Letter found in Lance’s office. Freshly written but not yet in an envelope or sent…obviously

My Lord Velspar,

It is done! Our greatest thorn is gone! That fool Jack has been slain and we can now continue our plans unhindered. I witnessed it myself last night, it appears the fool was working late and had a small accident with his candles! He caused a fire himself that resulted in his timely death. The locals seem confused as the body they removed was not a dwarf, but I know it was him.

This does not mean the resistance threat is over, my spies have already seen several secret meetings around the city. It appears they are planning one final attack on either the Factorium or the Castle. I have sent word to the Guard to be on the lookout for any sign of violence. I have every confidence the Guard, along with our ‘helpers’ can put down any attack the resistance dares to make. As a precaution however it may pay to remain in the Tower, it is substantially more defensible than the Castle.

Hopefully by now you have dealt with the new adventurers I sent to the Tower. They did look a little more powerful than the last few groups, but I am confident they will end up the same. As usual I look forward to selling their possessions to the next group! I shall…

                The note trails off, as if he was interrupted while writing it.

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You Don't Know Jack

Woken by the sound of bells the adventurers groggily strolled into inaction. Sandrina confronted Meeson, disappointed she had not kept Bruce busy all night, while Saggy found a note left by Bruce:

"The jobs done. I've gone to collect payment. Meet me there and we will be home soon. B. xxx"

Looking outside Sandrina quickly discovered two barrels making very annoyed sounds, and opened them to find Argos and Rynn returned from their capture as promised by Velspar. Fearing the worst she rushed towards the sound of the bells, seeing flames rising from somewhere near the market square she was soon greeted by the sight of Jack's shop firmly ablaze. There was nothing anyone could do except help to extinguish the flames.

With the flames extinguished the town Guard was able to commence their investigation. They quickly found a body, surprisingly well preserved, in the ruins of the office. To everyones surprise it was not a dwarf as expected, but a Doppleganger in its natural form. Perplexed the Guard were more than  happy for the party to move in and begin their own investigation. In the office Sandrina found the remains of a candle burned into the desk, but was unable to determine if it was the cause of the fire. Spending several hours investigating turned up precious little, with almost everything destroyed in the fire.

Looking closer they spotted the entrance to the store's flooded basement and cautiously made their way below. Using all her rougeish skills Sandrina located a stone out of place, and was soon in possession of some notes addressed to Jack.

"Jack, there is another party of adventurers from Faerun coming to Cheelast. Make sure you offer them the usual help, we don't want them ending up like the others. – Nitru"

"Jack, keep up the outstanding work in Cheelast. Since you organised the local cells Velspar's influence in the city is on the wane. Make sure you continue harassing his cargo shipments, we must stop the flow of reinforcements. Our Lord is ecstatic with your work, every victory moves him closer to his final solution. – Nitru"

With their leads cold the adventurers started to question the locals, as well as shop for items they thought would come in handy. Sandrina visited Kalen the butcher, Saggy went to a blacksmith and then to Ja'Soe the fletcher, none of whom could give any further insight into the secrets Jack held. Running out of options they finally made their way to Lance's Money Exchange, Pay Day Loans, & Porn Shop. They would get their answers one way or another.

Lance was pleased at their return, but was quite forward in letting them know he could not yet afford to purchase another diamond. Sandrina was in no mood for his games. She was able to Suggest he cooperate and only tell the truth, and tell the truth he did. He happily revealed he was a Vampire, and proceeded to order his Shadow Demon minions to attack. The fight was vicious but brief, with the adventurers incapacitating Lance and taking possession of his store.

The question now is do they bother going to find Bruce? 

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Interlude the Third
The Resistance Lives

With a glance the surly Shadar-kai brought the gathering to order. 
"Since the death of Jack last night we need to re-group and decide the direction of this resistance."
The others nodded solemnly in agreeance, and all looked to the speaker for guidance.
"Jack has worked tirelsessly in an attempt to rid this city of its vile ruler, you know who I am talking about, and to shut down the industry that supports it."
Again they nodded their agreement, until a single voice dared to speak,
"But Jack was the voice of our Lord, he is…was…the only one who could hear his wishes and make them known to us. He was the only one who knew every cell, who knew when and where to strike. Without him our movement can not carry on…we are lost."

Fighting back his disdain the Shadar-kai continued,
"We are most certainly not lost. Jack shared with me some of his secrets with me, and with them I know our next move."
Pausing for effect, he waited just long enough before continuing,
"We all know Jack's store was a front, he used it as a legitimate cover to allow him to opperate openly in the city. Most of you know he received outside help and reinforcements from a Shadar-kai tribe far to the south, adventurers and others were recruited and sent to aid us. A few of you know he was able to commune directly with our Lord, receiving instructions and information directly from him. But I alone know of his greatest secret, what allowed him to orchestrate attacks on Velspar's operations, what enabled him to move silently and unseen amongst our enemies own people."

"With this information we can continue to strike at the heart of Velspar's operation, and it is a strike that must happen quickly. I have contact information for all of Cheelast's resistance cells, as well as the locations of our weapon stock piles. It is enough for one final attempt at victory.
Tonight we shall launch an attack on the Factorium, and put an end to the horrific industry that drives this city. "

 

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Lord of the Night
A Choice is Given

Pushing deeper into West Port the adventurers soon discover that not all is as it seems. Breaking into buildings they find themselves face to face with strange dimensions and non-euclidean architecture. Exiting a door on the ceiling they found themselves back on the street away from the spider square, twisted around and confused as to where they should go. After being unable to navigate the strangely arranged streets.

There was a stroke of genius, and the adventurers climbed above the streets onto the rooftops, discovering that the strange dimensional anomolies at street level had no effect above. Moving rapidly they quickly approached the looming tower that was their objective. A short distance along they began to hear a gibbering chant, one that induced madness and terror in whomever heard it. Rapidly investigating they found a Gibbering Mouther in a dormer window. Fighting as their sanity waned they finally defeated the other-worldly beast. 

Feeling run-down they sought, and quickly found, a safe place to rest. Towering above the other rooftops a luxurious appartment welcomed them with a soft bed and secure walls. Sendrina was the first to entire, turning to admire a freakish landscape painting on the wall. Sadly she had failed to check for traps, and the painting morphed around her head, incapacitating her. Waiting cautiously for what was longer than it should have been, the other adventurers finally moved in to make sure she was ok. Rapidly freeing her it seemed the only ill affect was Sendrina was now completely bald. Not even eye lashes. Finally safe they settled down for a well earned rest.

Now recovered they pushed on towards the tower once again, arriving at the great wall that surrounding the Port. To reach the tower they had to cross a dusty bridge, but first had to descend into a large square that formed a nexus of several roads and the bridge. Crossing the square they had to fend off several skeletons, which proved no match for their martial prowess. Freshly victorious they continued across the bridge.

The tower seemed to be carved from a single mountain peak, even the doors fit perfectly into the wall. Inside the tower was a single room, broken only by a well of perfectly clear water in the centre and a strange throne at the far side. Investigating the room they found strange spiral patterns carved into the floor, that hurt their eyes and seemed to twist in ways that should not be possible. After a few minutes of looking around they were greeted by the owner of the tower.

Velspar, a Vampire Sorcerer Lord, slowly descended from above introducing himself and laughing at how adventurers are always drawn to wells. He was more than happy to answer any questions they had, as he felt it was only fair after learning everything he needed to from Sendrina. He explained a little about Cheelast, that he ruled the city, and kept an eye on all events and new arrivals. He knew they had come to kill Vampires, that Nitru had sent them, and that some in the city had suggested they come to the tower. The most startling revelation was that he had no interest in killing them, he simply required a small boon.

Jack had to die. Velspar had decided Jack was a threat and needed to be eliminated. Complete this simple task and their friends would be released from their spider prison. The three friends consulted, and decided attacking Velspar would be a better course of action. Only Bruce came to his senses and convinced them not too, insisting that Velspar was of good character and had good reason to want Jack dead. This was not until Saggy had attacked and Velspar had been able to put them both to sleep. Velspar confided in Bruce that Jack was a shape changer intent on destroying the peaceful city he had spent so long building up, and Bruce felt he needed to convince the others of this.

Although full of doubt the adventurers begrudgingly agreed, and were told they were free to go. With Valspar's blessing they were able to leave West Port with no confusion or conflict. So released they made their way straight to Jack's. Moving quickly Sendrina warned Jack, practically ordering him to leave town, but he was unsure how to react. Sensing the urgency in her voice he promised to leave as soon as he could. Feeling they had done all they could they retreat to the tavern for a meal and a warm bed.

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