The party had mounted the bucking bronco that was the Flood Festival and managed to stay on, with only a few near disasters caused by drunken complete lapses of reason along the way.
The day started early. For the first time in a while, Celestine was seeming a bit more “there.” It was as if her will had returned to her! In good spirits, she and Logahn met Gavriel down near the festivities on the waterfront. Celestine led a troop of downtrodden yet bright-eyed orphans to have a crack at the morning’s challenge: the Crater Lake Monster Hunt, which had just the other day overwhelmed the booze-weakened Gavriel, who was presently marching ahead of the group. Gavriel tried to encourage one of the orphans by giving them an arrow as a token of courage. He gave the arrow to Terrem, who asked him if the arrow came from a “demon from hell.” Unfamiliar with Terrem’s, slight instability, Gavriel replied “YES!” and scared the living shit out of poor little Terrem who ran off in fear.. The kids all took a crack at the swimming challenge. One of them almost succeeded. Then Gavriel tried. Though able to swim a bit better than on his last attempt, he failed to pick the right floaty thing.
Logahn wasn’t much of a swimmer, so he wandered off to pursue his pet craving, which was to find the lost rat StarBrow (“Wise one”) and reunite him with master, the redemptive inmate Keygen. Logan enlisted the naturalist Gavriel to assist him in this endeavor. He had a feeling Gavriel would be “down-for-whatever” and sure enough, the tracker was hungry for adventure to begin the day. (That was his original feeling on the topic, but by the end it was only the promise of “drinks” that would serve to keep him grinding on.)
Logahn’s plan was simple: have Gavriel talk to rats, with the assumption that Starbrow would not have blended in very well due to his being a dire rat and wise beyond his years/evolutionary potential, and thus most rats would probably know something regarding his whereabouts. The plan basically worked. The pair of adventurers followed the trail, liberally sprinkling “rations” to any rat that claimed to have something to offer, until they were pretty sure that they had found the rathole that Starbrow had made his home. Gavriel fired an arrow at the opening through a sewer grate so that they could mark where they needed to go, and then he and Logahn made their way to the nearest porthole down into the sewer. Soon, they stood on the threshold where the fetid gloom of that subterranean stone-work met with the happy festival sun. The air smelled of both cinnamon buns and poopy stench.
This might have been the moment when Gavriel started talking about “drinks.” Logahn assured him that looking for Starbrow was in fact a good use of his time, and that there would be drinks, and that in fact, it was a better use of time than attending the flood festival. Satisfied with this airtight logic, Gavriel motioned for Logahn to lead the way and in they went.
They hadn’t walked long before Gavriel paused to note a disturbance in the water ahead … something was alive down here. Logahn scratched his head for a moment, but eventually shrugged and resumed his hulking march onward toward their destination.
SNAP! Jaws surged out of nowhere and nearly took a chunk out of Gavriel. It was a good ol’ fight in the dark: poorly directed swords, arrows, tails and claws whipped up the fecal slurry. By the end, the beast (they surmised it was a Sewer Lizard), had fled, leaving Logahn with some wounds and worse, a broken longsword. Ogreballs! But they had come so far, and the rathole beckoned with its promise of Starbrow’s beautiful face.
The mini-adventured ended happily as Gavriel’s message reached Starbrow, and Logahn managed to coax him into a bag. From there, Logahn went back to the Church of Sarenrae, did some cursory rat-proofing of his room, and left Starbrow there while he joined the others back at the festival.
Logahn returned just in time for the main event of the day: Hookface’s Hoard, which was a real life dragon simulation put on by the townspeople manipulating a giant twenty-person dragon costume. And thus the Unseen Hand stepped out of of the shadows and into the public spotlight! But there was a twist! As it turned out, a not-quite-accidental doublebooking had taken place for their time slot with Hookface. It quickly became apparent that the Hand would be joined by The Stormblades and they would both have to fight for the rewards that Hookface might divulge.
The Stormblades tried to unnerve up their opponents with nasty comments about the Hand’s ancestry and general appearance. For the most part, this was all stuff they had heard before so they kept their cool, firing back with some incisive mockery of the Stormblades’ general affectation. But before things could get too heated, it was time for the challenge.
The teams jostled about for the best positions near the juiciest loot locations in the middle, while trying to avoid being the one that the dragon noticed. The mechanical beast whipped around the arena. It snapped at the contestants from points along its flanks, claiming a few victims which allowed the others to scrounge about unmolested for a time. But Hookface policed his domain well, and circled again and again to eliminate the scroungers if they had not already ran off, satisfied with their rewards.
In the end, it was a good haul for the team. Among their prizes were a good amount of money, a masterwork rapier and an invitation to the Flood Festival Ball. It was nice to see a city going out of its way to subsidize its adventurers!
In the evening, Logahn and Celestine remembered that they needed to go meet Shebeleth Regidin, Archbishop of their order. Logahn knew this guy well, for he had been Logahn’s guardian and mentor.
The Archbishop hopped out of a sweet chariot with “tons of gold” all over it. He was pleased to meet Celestine, and Logahn explained how they had been doing good works for the city, but thought they had only just scratched the surface of what was possibly a much larger network of evil. The Archbishop was interested in this – and was taken aback to learn that they had encountered a Beholder beneath the city – but he had really come to press the matter of investigating the murdered priest of Sarenrae. He felt that the Jurgenson didn’t have the “right stuff” to handle this, as evidenced by the fact that he had made no headway on the matter. He was also quite concerned as to why Jurgenson had not shown to Sasserine for the annual crafting of the wands of water control. It was tradition of the four major churches of Cauldron to travel to Sasserine in order to obtain these wands to protect the city from the winter floods. He noted that the Churches of We Jas and Kord had not participated in the program for many years, as they no longer felt it was a matter of import. Sarenrae and St. Cuthbert had always remained diligent in this task. This year however, Sarenrae failed to show as well. This served to the Bishop as another testament of the weakening influence of The Dawnflower in Cauldron as well as the ineptitude of it’s current leadership.
They ended their conversation, and headed back into the city for whatever the night might bring.