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BQ-58: Old Flames, Wet Fur

Updated: Jun 21, 2021

Everyone dashes back to Caeus’ house and crashes for the night after their rousing encounter with Goblin Behnie and his shady-ass cult shit, which is the worst kind of shady-ass something you could bump into.

"I live here too, but sure it's just Caeus' house!" Sleipnir grumbles as he tucks himself under his bed.

Harken is the most devastated from the fight, so he downs some booze and rubs his head as he dozes off, thinking that Lala might know what the hell Goblin Behnie was up to—he can seek her out in the morning. Caeus pulls out a coin and smacks it with his wrench a bit so that it makes cricket noises, helping them sleep. Tallest examines the dagger he plucked from the Khorne cultist, then considers finding a magician who could identify it.

"Your boy Sfiros can do that!" Sfiros says to Tallest.

"Oh, take a look at this dagger for me!" Tallest says, handing it to him.

Sfiros pats himself and realizes he doesn't have his pearl to cast identify. He’s only level 1, and one of those things costs 100 gp! "We need to take it to the temple!" he says.

"You can use my tools if it matters," Caeus says, pointing to his workshop.

"IT DOES MATTER!" Sfiros shouts. "Also, they would probably be able to point us in the right direction since the dagger was used by cultists. This Khorne guy… blood for the blood god?"

"Would any of us know anything about Khorne?" Caeus says.

Everyone thinks, but on a scale of 1 to 20 (with some modifiers), they feel like their results are along the lines of 5, 3, and another 3… but Tallest’s number is taller than all the others, meaning he is right! In his travels, he has heard a bit about this blood god.

"There's nothing wrong with being a blood god!” Tallest says, his arms crossed. “You got your red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body, and white blood cells that fight off disease. Why is being a blood god a bad thing?"

"Rumor has it he's really tall," Sleipnir says from under his mattress.

"Well, he's probably right about a lot of things!” Tallest says. “He's not the tallest, but if he's tall, that's fine—” Tallest then remembers another of the chants that Khorne’s followers tend to chant. “Skulls for the skull throne…” he mutters.

"This is getting worse," Sfiros says.

"That seems excessive,” Tallest agrees. “Skull throne?"

"See, being tall doesn't make you tall all the time!" Sfiros says.

"Well I'm right NOW! I've changed my mind," Tallest says.

Minotaur philosophy is weird.

"These people must be drugged or something. Who would worship Khorne the blood god?" Caeus says, his simple working-class mind just not coming to terms with all this chaotic hullabaloo.

"Weren't they on eyeball drugs?" Sfiros says.

"That was eyeball magic to see in the dark," Tallest says. "Sfiros, can't you check out this dagger?"

(Didn’t we just have this conversation?)

"No but my friends at the Temple of Gond could," Sfiros says.

Everyone pauses for a bit to plan out their course of action for the next day.

"What do you think we should do, Tallest?" Sleipnir says.

"We can stick together," Tallest says.

"I'd like to see some of these trinkets they're making in the temple across town," Caeus says to Sfiros.

"It would do you good to see a proper workshop!" Sfiros says, standing proudly. "We should probably make a report as well about our ambush."

Everyone finally goes to sleep, the events of the day playing in their heads. The next day, they pack up and get ready to leave for the Upper City where Sfiros’ temple is. Heading through the Steeps, however, the Herd hears a great ruckus, as though some great creator rolled on a random encounter chart: people shriek and duck for cover as a team of cackling, half-dressed gnomes barrel down the street! The gnomes are pushing a mobile art piece composed of around fifty wooden dolls all bowing to four larger dolls in the center—the most prominent of the four center dolls is missing its head! Words scrawled on either side of the wagon say “THE PATRIARS” and “THE COUNCIL OF FOUR.”

Clearly some liberal artsy bullshit.

Caeus decides to avoid the “crazy homeless people” as he calls them, so the Herd steps aside to let the gnomes tumble down the street. Not long afterwards, a team of Flaming Fist guards give chase.

"Rumor has it they went that way," Sleipnir says, pointing, which is hard to do because nobody has ever seen his hands and his horns are filed to nubs.

Harken is aghast. "Why are you helping them fucking cunts?" he shouts.

"Did you just see what happened!" Sleipnir says.

"It's an unlicensed parade!" Sfiros says. "We are a society of laws!"

"You're a snitch!" Harken shouts at Sleipnir.

The Herd then approaches the Gond Gate, which is manned by a team of Flaming Fist guards who check people in and out. Sfiros steps up, but the guards stare at his compatriots.

"Right, who are these four?" one of the guards says.

"These are my friends. They helped with a delivery that went wrong!" Sfiros says, trying to convince the guards to let them through with a persuasion check—he rolls a natural 1.

Well… you can’t win them all!

"Yeah, they're your friends, but you're the one who works at the temple," the guard says, standing his ground and not letting the others pass through.

"Yeah... that is true,” Sfiros says, disappointed.

"So YOU can come," the guard says.

Everyone stands around in awkward silence, trying to find a way around that terrible persuasion roll.

"Sorry guys," Sfiros says, taking the cult dagger from Tallest.

"Bunch of classist assholes..." Caeus mutters.

"So I'll do it the religious way. You guys do it the gang way,” Sfiros says. “Where do we meet up? Caeus’ house?"

"You guys could come to MY house..." Sleipnir grumbles.

Sfiros steps through the Gond Gate into the Upper City, which is like stepping from the poor part of town into the rich part of town… because it is! The decor is well kept, with landscaping and trimmed bushes setting a grand display for the spacious apartments and upper class shops. Dead ahead is the High House of Wonders. Steam and smoke billow from the roof as the forges crackle with coal, and as he steps through the front doors, his ears are greeted by the familiar sound of hammers clanging against anvils.

He enters Numuroo’s private sanctum, and fortunately the elder minotaur is studying away behind his desk at reports. He looks up through his bushy hair, "Ahh, Sfiros. I thought you were off work today?"

"Yeah, well I am, but I really really think we need to talk about this delivery we made yesterday. Because man, it got weird!" Sfiros says, then spills all the details about the ambush and the cult.

Numuroo pauses for a while before he responds, "Well, that DOES sounds like an event!"

"It was real stabby in there," Sfiros says.

Numuroo stands up and paces slowly around the room, his large robes splayed out behind him like curtains. "So... Khorne has returned to Baldur's Gate…" he says, reaching for some tomes that he lays on the table. "I thought the chaos gods would stay put for a little while longer..."

"Chaos gods,” Sfiros stutters. “Like… multiple?"

"Yes... the chaos gods,” Numuroo says, setting codex after codex onto his desk. He opens each one. “Khorne, the chaos god of war... Tzeentch, the chaos god of trickery... And Nurgle, the chaos god of plagues. There was another, but Guga is not a problem anymore."

"Oh Guga, I've never heard that name before!" Sfiros says. "What happened to Guga? How do you kill a god?"

"How do you kill a god? Hrm..." Numuroo thinks for a bit.

"NOT NOW! I'm level one,” Sfiros shouts.

Numuroo snorts in amusement. "Guga was imprisoned and snuffed out by the Kinchasans of Calimshan many decades ago," he says.

"OH! We heard about some happening in Kinchasa. It sounds bad," Sfiros says.

Numuroo continues talking, recanting a series of events from seven years ago. "Guga tried to reenter the world, but brave heroes—one who was also from Kinchasa—snuffed Guga out. Though what this could mean is the other chaos gods now want Guga's domain. And they're taking bigger risks.” He turns to Sfiros. “You said there were five cultists? With daggers?"

"That's what I said, I think," Sfiros says, his previous words reduced to a sentence's worth of handwaving the previous episode's details. "And here's one of those daggers."

Sfiros hands the dagger over to Numuroo, who sets his divine components around the weapon to analyze its properties… basically he’s just casting identify because Sfiros is too poor to do it himself.

Broke-ass cleric...

"As I hoped,” Numuroo says with relief. “No deep magic. Just a brass dagger with profane markings. I will melt it into slag."

"Can I get it back for a friend of mine?" Sfiros says, stepping up.

Numuroo thinks for a bit, then offers the dagger back to him. "Don't let anyone see you with this. They might think you are associated with the cult.”

"I'm 100% Gond," Sfiros says with pride. "No room for Khorne! Oh, the Hlath representative was kind enough to tip for the delivery. As a thank you for returning this dagger, I will make a donation of this tip I received to the temple.”

Sfiros gives a chunk of money to Numuroo. Remember when I talked about the cleric not having any money?

Numuroo chuckles, "You always were the most pious!"

Sfiros beams from horn to horn, the only true way for a minotaur to smile!

Meanwhile, over with the gang side of things…

"Let's go to the shadowiest part of town!" Sleipnir says, preferring to be in shadows because… you know, shadow sorcery.

"Let's go to the shadow man's contact and see what's going on with the Manzibar and Kinchasan refugees," Tallest agrees.

"Thavius Kreeg..." Caeus mutters, wondering what the heck the Manzibar could be up to, or why his name isn't just Manzibar. But he is only a humble working minotaur, so such things might be above his station.

The party spends a good chunk of time traversing the Lower City until they reach the outer most gate on the southeast side. Beyond the other side is Tumbledown, a perpetually foggy neighborhood most noted for the Cliffside Cemetery, which is where most who bury their dead outside of town. You know, spooky shit!

Sleipnir, however, has a different connection with this macabre, graveside locale…

The crew who watches over the Cliffside Cemetery is the Gravemakers, whose primary mission is to prevent any necromancy or other ill-gotten advantage to be taken on the dead of Baldur’s Gate. Sworn to their holy duty, the Gravemakers aren’t above squaring off against the Flaming Fist or any other authority to keep the sacrament of their domain in check.

Sleipnir, however, has a different connection with this zealous, pious crew…

Sleipnir, apparently… was once in love.

Leone Wen was her name, and she now leads the Gravemakers from the ruined manse of a former landlord who used to own the Cliffside Cemetery. Apparently, investing in cemeteries is not good in the long run! Long ago, Sleipnir got lost on the outskirts of town, and Leone hid him from some bandits that had caught up to him—and anyone who enjoys hiding as much as Sleipnir is worthy enough to catch his shadowy heart! He fell for her, and they shared many stories and rumors.

But their love for stories outstripped their love for each other…

"Why, what happened?" Tallest says.

Sleipnir realizes that he was thinking about his old flame out loud, which was exactly the opposite of being sneaky. "I was more interested in what she had to say than her," he says, sniffling. "... My horns are broken."

"It's okay small one," Tallest says.

The Herd enters the manor, and the Gravemaker guards step aside once Leone sees her former fling.

“Oh... Sleipnir! What brings you here?" Leone says, stepping into the hall to meet them.

"I'm sorry to bother you at work,” Sleipnir says, bashfully. “I know a rumor to add to our rumorbook that we were making together.”

"I still have it!" she says, pulling out the rumorbook that she used to keep.

"As do I!" Sleipnir says as he takes his rumorbook out as well.

This is just weird.

"You... kept it!" she says, her voice quivering.

"Of course. All this time," Sleipnir says, staring into her eyes—

"Ask her about the refugees! Enough of this," Tallest demands, his voice booming in the dilapidated mansion. If anyone has zero time for smalltalk, it's Tallest. Talltalk only!

Sleipnir glances around. "Rumor has it there are refugees from Kinchasa."

"I've heard the same,” Leone says. “Not much though. Not many people come out here."

"Any people come out to the graves that might have information?" Sleipnir says.

"It's been kind of quiet here. I don't know much about what happened in Calimshan. But Kinchasa...” Leone says, glancing around. “I know something that may either shine some light on this situation or open up a whole new problem."

"Ooh! Please tell. You know how to push my buttons,” Sleipnir says.

She leans in close to him. "Rumor has it, the Grand Duke Ulder Ravenguard of Baldur's Gate—well, of course you know that he’s the leader of Baldur’s Gate—he left for Kinchasa about a week ago on a diplomatic mission to speak with Manzibar Kreeg. If something happened there, chances are the Grand Duke is caught up in it as well.

The crew stares at each other for a moment, knowing that Grand Duke Ravenguard is also the leader of the Flaming Fists, and that leading the mercenary security team is what helped get him elected to the office of Grand Duke…

The gnomes from earlier: they had a display of the Council of Four. The one in the middle without the head. Was that supposed to be the Grand Duke? Is Baldur’s Gate’s political system now figuratively headless?

What will the Flaming Fist do without a leader? Without someone to keep them in line?

"Gnomes are always up to trouble..." Caeus grumbles.

"You mind if I borrow your pen?” Sleipnir says to Leone. “I promise I'll bring it back later."

"What do you think we should do now, Caeus?" Tallest says at a loss for leads to follow.

"I don't know..." Caeus says.

Harken stares back at the walls to Baldur’s Gate. "We could go see Lala," he says, knowing that around this time she would be spending her time trying to cheat someone out of their coin at the Elfsong Tavern.

Sleipnir bids farewell to Leone, and the Herd returns back to the Lower City. Elfsong Tavern is on the way back to the Steeps anyways, so poking in to see Lala wouldn’t be too out of the way.

They arrive at the Elfsong Tavern, the melodious tune of the haunting creepy psycho elf ghost keeping the area properly spookified. Klank and Skoona eye the Herd as they enter, then go back to monitoring the other patrons huddled in their gambling corners and plotting places.

Harken looks around for signs of Lala while Tallest orders several orange garnishes to eat. Sleipnir has a milk stout poured for him, but as Harken sits with them at the bar, he notices an empty shot glass with a scent of dragon's heart liquor wafting out of it—and a smear of lipstick: Lala’s favorite drink as well as her favorite shade of purple.

She’s here.

Tallest tries looking for her as well, but he's too tall and she's a halfling, so he’s not used to looking down to find people. Harken takes out his lute and plays a song that he knows Lala would recognize, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love," but he rolls an 8 due to his exhaustion, causing several bar patrons to “boo” him and a couple of the Herd to “moo” him.

Lala pokes her head down from the second floor, sees Harken, and motions for him to follow her up the stairs. She looks panicked as she hurries them over. The PC’s run up to the second floor, which is a dining area with several doors along the walls leading to bedrooms.

"Holy shit, I'm so glad to see you Harken! And your big tall friend and your little creepy friend and… that other one!" Lala says, throwing her arms around him.

Harken is confused, "So why are you so happy to see us?"

"Oh well, you know… um, sometimes I just happen to… um… do a job, and it goes poorly and—" Lala begins to explain, but she’s silenced by a muffled shout from below.

“We're looking for an old friend of ours!” A burly, sneering voice booms out from the first floor. “Goes by the name Lala, or so I'm told. Loves to cheat at Baldur's Bones!"

Everyone looks at Lala.

"Hey guys! Let's go!" Caeus says.

"Wait they're not looking for us," Sleipnir says, ready to ditch the halfling.

"We don't leave ladies unattended to if we can help it," Harken says, stepping in front of Lala.

"Let's pretend she owes US money!" Sleipnir plots. "And we're shaking her down!"

The Herd dashes into a private room adjacent to the dining room and closes the door.

"Tell us your secrets!" Tallest demands from Lala.

"SSH!" Lala says.

Bootclad footsteps stomp up the stairs into the dining room on the other side of the door. The same, wretched voice from earlier shouts out, "Lala, you have some unfinished business with us! I'd hate to have to tear this place apart looking for you!"

Tallest throws the door open, "Hey, we got to Lala first. You guys got to back off!"

In the dining room are eight dirty pirate-looking bandit-pirates who look like pirates! The leader of them sports a dirty beard, a nasty grimace, cataract-clouded eye, and a snarling disposition. He steps forward and eyes the Herd.

"Right, who are you?" the leader says.

"I'm the Tallest. Who are you?"

"I'm Captain Murosko Sessprin!" the man answers.

"Captain of what?" Tallest says, crossing his arms.

"Captain of the Uncivil Serpent!" Sessprin says.

The Herd bursts out laughing.

"Where did you come up with that name?" the minotaur named after an adjective says, wiping a tear from his tall eyes.

"You're just beating around the bush!” Caeus says, chuckling. “Just say who you are!"

"I didn't name it! I stole it!" Sessprin shouts.

"You stole it!?" Tallest says, then points at Sleipnir. "He's the captain now! He stole it!"

Captain Sessprin growls, balling his fists up, not sure if these minotaurs know how stealing actually works. "Where is Lala!?" he demands.

"Listen man, you're going to have to come back tomorrow. Lala's ours," Tallest says.

Captain Sessprin eyes Tallest from the bottom of his hooves to the top of whatever the hell’s up there. He rolls up his sleeves and spits in a corner. "How ‘bout this: just me and you, tall boy. Right here. Right now."

The Herd backs away from Tallest as Captain Sessprin’s cronies back away from him. Sessprin draws a scimitar and dagger as Tallest readies his warhammer—but Sessprin gets the initiative, strikes Tallest once with his sword, then swings twice more with his dagger as he tumbles around Tallest’s mighty, towering stance.

Tallest swings at him with his warhammer, misses, and crashes to the ground as Captain Sessprin rolls behind him and sticks him with a critical strike, dropping Tallest to the floor with a mighty THUD!

"Like I said, where's the girl?" Sessprin says.

"She's over there! I don't care!" Tallest grumbles, staying at 1 HP thanks to his Relentless Endurance ability and no longer giving a rat’s ass what happens to Lala. His care for her is no longer as tall as it once was.

Caeus steps up and repairs Tallest for 9 HP with cure wounds.

The captain goes to Lala, but Caeus has an idea! He grabs a coin out of his pocket, then uses his magical tinkering ability to give it a strong odor of “back home” that only he and his crew could notice, that way they could follow the scent to the pirates’ hideout or boat or whatever stolen property they have after Caeus slips the coin into Lala’s back pocket—he rolls a 4 on sleight of hand and the coin drops to the ground…

So there goes that idea.

"How much does she owe you?" Harken says, stepping up.

"A hundred gold pieces!" Captain Sessprin says, raising an eyebrow.

"Call it thirty, and my family won't go after you," Harken says.

Captain Sessprin leers at him with his cloudy eye. "I don't even know who you are!"

"The Beremons!" Harken announces.

Silence fills the room as Harken announces his ancestry to the pirate, and just as the captain looks ready to swat Harken’s head off his shoulders, one of his shipmates steps forth and whispers in his ear. His expression changes from smug victory to timidness.

"All right... thirty it is then," Captain Sessprin says with disgust.

Harken offers thirty gold pieces to the pirate. "Her debts are paid, correct?" he says.

"All debts are paid,” the captain says, spitting. “Looks like she owes you now."

Harken claps him on the shoulder and smiles, sensing a business contact for the future. "If you ever have anything you need taken care of or gotten rid of—this doesn't have to end here."

The captain shoves Harken away and turns to leave with his cronies. "I don't want any more dealings with no Beremons," he grumbles, counting his gold. They disappear downstairs, then wander back to their boat somewhere back along the ports.

Lala grabs Harken and gives him the biggest smooch she’s ever given someone without trying to pickpocket them, "THANK GOD YOU WERE HERE! They would have had me!"

"Sounds like you should gamble a little more conservatively," Harken says.

"That coming from you?" Lala says.

"I don't have people tracking me down," Harken says.

Lala sighs, then has a seat at the table. "Name it—anything. I owe you," she says.

Harken fixes his eyes on her. "That business yesterday… were you having a part of it?"

"Didn't know nothing!” she says, raising her hands. “Just that—that Matthias guy… he's a REALLY good fighter! He threw out almost everyone all on his own. But what happened on your end? What happened down the hall?"

"We got jumped by Goblin Behnie's boys," Harken says.

Lala nods, then a spark comes to her eye. "Can't say I know why he did it but... I know where he is."

Everyone’s attention focuses onto her.

"Several blocks northwest of here is a public bathhouse with a walled garden and frolicking nymphs carved into its front gates. I’ve seen Goblin Behnie coming and going from the bathhouse, and I’m told there’s a secret door inside that leads to a dungeon. That’s where he’s hiding.”

Tallest turns to the rest of the group with vengeance burning in his unseen eyes. "Let's go meet up with Sfiros and go get Behnie!" he snarls.

Harken gives Lala a pat on the head. "You know where to find me?"

"Eh, you know me!" Lala says, smiling.

"Unfortunately," Harken jokes.

They get ready to leave the tavern, but catch sight of the patrons sitting up with confused looks on their faces as though they’re paying close attention to something—but what is it? Tallest tilts his head, and though he doesn’t speak Elvish, he realizes the haunting ghost melody is a much different tune now—something foreboding?

The Herd leaves the Elfsong Tavern and goes back to Caeus'-not-Sleipnir's house to regroup with Sfiros, divulging information to the cleric while he explains the revelations he just learned.

"You got into a fight?" Sfiros says, exasperated.

"It was epic! Tallest took every hit! It was the bravest thing I've ever seen!" Sleipnir says.

"And then Harken just paid the debt," Caeus says, thinking about what he could have done with thirty gold pieces.

Does anybody have any money now!?

"It was the most cowardly thing we've ever seen," Sleipnir says.

"He seemed to back down when you told him who your family was," Caeus says to Harken.

"Rumor has it they're giant!" Sleipnir says. Sleipnir is wrong.

"They can't be giants—look at this thing," Tallest says pointing to Harken. "So what'd you learn, Sfiros?"

"Here’s that dagger you gave me," Sfiros says, handing the dagger back. "It's not magical. I really don't want to be carrying it around. It's kind of profane."

Tallest takes it and, like… throws it on the ground.

Sfiros explains his findings, "There's this guy, Khorne: he's one of three chaos gods—used to be four. One got murdered in Kinchasa."

"Someone murdered a chaos god?" Tallest says, aghast.

"I'm not clear on the details, but the dead one was about to reenter the mortal realm until someone from Kinchasa stopped it. Well, there's Khorne, this guy named Tzeentch, and Nurgle. They're the gods of War, Trickery, and Plagues."

"Well if they've been killed once, maybe they can be killed again," Tallest says.

"TALLEST!” Caeus shouts. “You gotta stop picking fights!”

"Rumor has it that Behnie is at this bathhouse place if we want to beat him up," Sleipnir says.

"Behnie!? I hate him. We should kill him in the name of Gond!" Sfiros says.

"We're going to get him at the bathhouse," Caeus agrees.

They head straight to the bathhouse without any kind of resting or recuperating because they just HATE Behnie so damned much and want him to die in the name of Gond! The bathhouse is a one-story stuccoed building with stained-glass windows and clay roof tiles. Ten-foot-tall walls enclose a large courtyard outside the southeast corner of the building. The closed wooden doors to the courtyard are engraved with images of smiling nymphs dancing and frolicking in water.

"All right, who is the sneakiest? Go scout," Tallest says. "Can you find some shadows to sneak in?"

Sleipnir goes nowhere.

"There's a hidden entrance somewhere right?" Caeus says.

Caeus checks out the courtyard and notices nothing out of the ordinary besides some bushes, shrubs, and sculptures. Maybe the secret dungeon entrance is inside the bathhouse? "You guys want to go in?" he says.

They enter through the front doors and are greeted by a pillared chamber adorned with frescoes of bathing royalty. Natural light streams through stained-glass windows, creating colorful patterns on the tiles of polished blue marble that covers the floor. Three shallow, sunken pools contain scintillating perfumed water, and white marble benches bearing stacks of dry towels are situated near the pools, each with a brass fountain. Six patrons lie about in the water.

"Welcome to the bathhouse!" an attendant says as they enter. She’s tall with a stern but comforting gaze.

They push Harken forward.

"We're looking for a bit of a soak," Harken says.

"Can do!” the attendant says. “It's 2 gold pieces up front, and 1 for each additional hour. How long will you be staying?"

"We have a meeting here, so it really depends on how long our associate is taking," Harken says. "Actually... have you seen him? He told us to ask whoever is at the front to have us brought to him. Small… green… Behnie?"

"Behnie? He's having a meeting with you?" the attendant says, perplexed.

"To be honest, he was supposed to be here first. If we've beaten him here... We'd love to be a surprise! Can we have one of the rooms set up for him!" Harken says, banking a lot of this idea on a good deception roll—which he does!

"Will this work?" the attendant says, pushes open the door to a massage room.

Harken nods and gives her 5 gold. "I'm very excited to surprise him. I haven't seen him smile in so long," Harken says.

"I hate it here…" Sleipnir grumbles.

Everyone piles into the massage room, which isn’t nearly as large as it appears once Tallest gets inside.

"Why are we hiding? Let's just go find Behnie!" Tallest says, not keen on being crammed into a small room.

Sfiros is squished near the window, and he cranes his neck to peek out. He sees the bathers from before leaving, complaining to a masseuse. He hears mild complaints from them about being “removed but refunded” regarding their stay.

"I bet Behnie's just coming. He clears the riffraff out for shady Behnie nonsense," Caeus suspects.

At that point, the door flies open as four attendants are standing on the other side, metal masks on their face and their hands conjuring a slue of wretched, necromantic magic! It’s a setup!

Harken casts dissonant whispers and succeeds, blasting one of the attendants with psychic damage—he then bardically inspires Caeus. "Go get em big boy!"

An attendant summons the chaotic energy in her hands and launches it at them, but she’s wavering from Harken’s psychic assault, and the energy collides into the door frame instead, causing the marble to erode.

Caeus twirls his wrench and critically hits with a firebolt, slaying the wounded attendant in a blaze of steaming fire. A second attendant follows up with necromantic energy and blasts Caeus, dropping him into an unconscious heap on the wet floor.

Sfiros casts sacred flame at the attacker for 8 and uses his bonus action to cast healing word on Caeus, bringing him up to 6 Hit Points and back into the fight. A blast of dark magic slams Sfiros in return, but he slams his shield down and holds back the tide.

Sleipnir casts infestation which freaks everyone out because a swarm of vermin flies out from his face towards the attendants! But they dodge the vermin and scatter around the bathhouse proper. Tallest dashes into the bathhouse and smashes in the skull of an attendant, sending blood and brain matter splattering into the pools.

“I didn't MEAN to do it that hard!” he says, catching himself.

Harken casts vicious mockery and succeeds, then boosts Sfiros with bardic inspiration. The attendants have lost their surprise, and they’re stumbling too much to conjure the chaos energy.

Caeus runs up to the bad guys and casts sword burst, but they dodge under the attack while Sfiros throws sacred flames at them. While they dodge the fusillade, Sleipnir chips away at one by casting chill touch and gripping his foe with his ghostly skull.

Tallest swings his hammer again, catching a cultist on the shoulder and sending shattered marble skittering across the room. Harken keeps up his psychic assault, but Caeus rakes his wrench across the air and billows out another firebolt for 10 damage that burns an attendant to death.

With one attendant left, Sfiros charges up and brings his horns down, using bardic inspiration from Harken to stab the cultist and pin her to the wall. She raises a hand, summons a bit of death magic, then slams her hand into Sfiros, blasting him with 7 necrotic damage.

Tallest closes in with his warhammer and lays low the last attendant while Sfiros has her pinned, ending the brawl and covering the once pristine bathhouse in a grim coating of visceral fluid.

"We need to leave this area," Sleipnir panics.

"We need to investigate this place!" Sfiros says, putting his hoof down. "It's run by Behnie, who is staffing cultists. Is it possible he's here but not in this room?"

"If he is, he's a cow-ward!" Caeus says.

Everyone pretends they didn’t hear that.

They snoop around, checking the statue plinths and seams of the tubs for evidence, even throwing the towels onto the floor to search the storage wardrobes.

"Behnie's pretty small, sooo..." Caeus says, looking for loose tile under any walls. "Make sure you look low! Behnie is a short little fuck!"

"I can't see that low!" Tallest says.

Harken steps into a second massage room across from the one they were stored in, then fiddles with a secret panel on the wall. The panel causes the wall to rotate, revealing a musty set of stone, algae-covered stairs leading down into darkness.

"Hello Behnie..." he says, the real search beginning.

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