So yeah, the Herd is now surrounded by doo-doo monster plague people that were locked in here to keep the rest of Baldur’s Gate safe. They just unlocked the vault keeping the doo-doo monster plague people inside. It's like they've never seen Little Nemo's Adventures in Slumberland before!
What heroic plans will save them?
"What if we tell these guys we forgive them, and we just leave them alone?" Sleipnir says.
Sleipnir needs better plans.
The Herd has a choice: they can grab some of the treasure, or they can run. The more treasure they grab, the greater the chance they have of getting harassified by the monsters. Push your luck, cowboys! The safest bet would be to abandon all treasure and just run away since they're level one and low on abilities to stop the bad guys—
Harken casts mage hand and snatches a clear glass ring, brings it to him, and then runs like hell out the vault door. Sleipnir creeps up and grabs something from the middle of the monsters: a jade statue of an eagle, then runs shrieking after Harken.
"Bye guys!" Sleipnir says.
"Why is the Tallest on a table?" Sfiros says, seeing that Tallest is standing on a table covered in loot.
"So he can be taller!" Sleipnir says, finally running out.
Sfiros snatches a small leather satchel—satchel-snatching? Really? You grab a handbag? Well he then runs out with his backpack like some 5th grader late for class… but the class is MURDER!
Tallest shoves his hand into a loot pile and grabs a polished human skull with a hinged top. He shakes it, hearing a hollow rattling inside.
Caeus, meanwhile, is so deep into the treasure room that grabbing loot just isn’t an option—he dashes back to the front of the room before his little hooves can get nibbled.
Oh yeah, there are monsters here! The creatures get up and advance on the adventurers, their boil-covered faces spewing nasty pus and acrid globs all over the slick floor. It’s just nasty in here! It’s Constitution saves all day in here! There’s no amount of social distancing to stay away from these fools!
So Harken and Sleipnir keep on running. "Close the door on the way out!" Sleipnir says as he leaves.
"I forgive you! Go with Gond!" Sfiros says, then runs.
Unfortunately, the plague monsters are able to catch up to Tallest and Caeus, swinging their doodoo fingers at them while they fight them off. Within seconds, over twenty of the monsters close in: it’s Horde vs. Herd down here in Baldur’s gate, and nobody knows what to do to—
A monster drops Caeus to zero, so Tallest snatches him up and runs on the other side of the vault door. He tries to close it, but his hands are too full of minotaur to grab the door, so he uses second wind while Harken pops back in and casts cure wounds on Caeus for 5.
They begin to close in!
Sleipnir scampers across the floor and slams himself into the vault door, shutting away the monsters!
"Good job, Caeus' brother!" Tallest says. "That's why we like hanging out with Caeus!"
"Do we need to lock it?" Sleipnir says.
They're not really safe!
"Everyone run!" Sfiros shouts.
The monsters slam on the vault door, and Tallest holds it back while Caeus helps. Opposing athletics checks are rolled, with Tallest barely keeping back the horde. It’s a victory with a 23 vs. 7, then the monsters slam the door again for a 14 vs. 10. Tallest grows tired, barely holding off the next push with an 8 vs 7!
Caeus snatches the key out and plugs the lock, turning it and sealing the monsters inside for good.
That is, for good for now!
But for real the monsters have safely been re-trapped so good job.
As the monster slap the door, the Herd decides to just book it out of this terrible place with their terrible treasure so they can finally get some sleep and reach level two! They return to the inn, and Caeus gives Tallest one of the glowing coins. As they advance up the stairs to the bathhouse, Tallest hears someone speaking up ahead:
"'Ey someone's down there!" a voice says.
Caeus turns to the PC’s, "Do we think there's any good employees at the bath house, because I could really use a massage..."
At that point, they notices a light source coming down the stairs. Someone is looking for them!
"All right, back up Herd..." Tallest says.
Sfiros panics, "They found dead bodies! And we made them! I totally agree they needed to die, but they could be friends of theirs."
"Let's put our horns down and run through!" Sleipnir says. "The last thing they'll expect is a stampede through that door!"
"Yeah, don't make the Herd angry, there could be a stampede!" Caeus says.
"All right let's panic and run out! We're going to panic and say there's monsters down there!" Tallest says to the team.
Sfiros makes everyone wait for a bit though so that he can run down to the inn and grab Goblin Behnie's hat. "I want his hat! It's cool!" he says, then returns to the party.
On the count of “Now!” they all shout and moo and charge upstairs! Four minotaurs in full shriek-panic-stampede mode barge back into the bathhouse, which is still covered in blood and body parts, but ten members of the Flaming Fist are sequestering off the crime scene. Apparently, the Flaming Fist found the slaughter and started to investigate the scene, meaning the Herd just charged into a CSI kind of set up. Oh, and Harken plays bagpipes during all this.
"Calm down! Calm down!" a Flaming Fist member shouts.
"Suspects! Suspects! Stand down!" another says.
"YOU'RE a suspect! I saw YOU at a murder crime!" Caeus argues.
"Hey hey, we don't mean any harm,” Tallest, the largest and scariest of the minotaurs who just stole a human skull says. “There's some weird monster stuff down there. There's some black goo down there turning people into weird disgusting stuff. You need to investigate that. That's beyond our pay grade."
"We're going to have to question you," the captain of the Flaming Fist, a middle-aged woman with a stern expression says.
The Flaming Fist begin to interrogate the minotaurs, starting with Tallest. They usher him into one of the massage rooms with the captain, a stenographer, and a couple of guards. The other minotaurs stay in the second massage room until needed.
"What is your name?" the captain says.
"I'm the Tallest."
"The tallest what?"
"Just the tallest there is!"
The captain leans over to one of her clerks. "Add that to an alias list.”
"People call me Tallest!” Tallest says, trying to be as tall as his horns will let him in this cramped room. “That's what people call me. They call me that!"
"How long have you been in Baldur's Gate?" the captain says.
"I got a place not too far from here. I just came back into town a couple of days ago."
"From Calimshan?" she says, curiously.
"I wasn't wearing a map."
The captain looks at Tallest for a while. "Why are you here?"
"Well, I was helping one of my friends deliver some armor, and we got mugged. So when we found out where our mugger was, we went and found out where he was to apologize. Then these people attacked us. We had to evacuate down this secret tunnel to see where he was. We went down to find them. Found some weird monster stuff, saw “FORGIVE US” written on the wall. We didn't forgive them. When we saw Behnie, he had killed himself because… We didn't have anything involved in this monster nonsense because... Also my real name is Altisimos Borodino, but I don't tell anyone that. They'll call me something stupid, like Al."
The captain takes down her notes, ushers Tallest out, then brings in Caeus.
"Have a seat," the captain says.
He sits sittingly.
"What's your name?" the captain says.
"My name is Caeus... Uh, who are you?"
The captain shows a Flaming Fist badge on her shirt.
Caeus sees an opportunity for kinship! "My name is Caeus Anacos," he says, then reaches into his pocket and pulls out his insignia of rank from being in the military, a quartermaster who helped fight in “a war.”
"All right, so how long have you been in Baldur's Gate?” the captain says.
"A few years."
"Why are you here?"
"You asked me to come in here."
The captain tenses. "I mean, what brought you in here to this place with bloody hoofprints?"
"I heard what my friend told you. We came and had a conversation about this man who attacked us."
"How did the conversation go?"
"We never got to have it. The staff here ushered the people out, we were attacked, so we fought back."
Caeus rolls 20 on a Persuasion check, and the captain seems satisfied with his answer.
"Fair enough,” the captain says. “I fully believe in standing your ground."
"We meant these people no harm. No disrespect. What's BELOW here, the place down below where we came—there are terrors! I didn't think we were going to get out. I went down twice. I look pretty exhausted as you can probably tell."
"You do look tired. On a scale from 1 to 5, I'd rank you at around a 2. That will be all."
"Am I free to go?"
"Yes, go there with your friend. Tallest, is that right?”
"That's all I ever heard. I met his parents. They call him the Tallest!" Caeus says, then leaves.
After a few minutes, the Flaming Fist brings Sfiros into the interrogation room and sets the finnicky minotaur down in front of the captain.
"What's your name?" the captain says.
"Sfiros Dmirgos!" the cleric responds.
"Are you part of the Church of Gond?"
"I am! Are you interested in converting? Do you want to hear about Gond? Are you keeping a journal? We all keep journals! It's part of our thing!"
"Do you have one of these journals on you?" the captain says.
Sfiros done goofed.
"Search him,” the captain says.
The Flaming Fist guards pat down Sfiros, producing several interesting objects that they lay in front of the captain: the large coin from Goblin Behnie, the stoppered vial of black ichor, and the small leather satchel.
The captain eyeballs the coin. "Is this part of your church?"
"That's a new artifact that I was going to have identified!" Sfiros says.
"Strange...” the captain says, picking it up. “When I touch it, I feel..."
"Did it say ‘soul’ to you!?" Sfiros says.
"No, but I felt... small."
She puts the coin down, then looks at vial of black ichor.
"Don't drink that!" Sfiros says.
"What is it?" the captain says.
"So that's a really good question. Not sure. You're going to find that it's a running theme here... I don't know what that is, but it is not good news. So down there where we just ran up from is ALL kinds of bad news. I don't know if they're a cult or something, but they're all dead! Thats a sample of the stuff."
The captain takes the satchel, then begins to search inside it.
"I don't know what's in there either!” Sfiros says, panicking. “We had six seconds to make a choice and that's what I grabbed!"
The captain takes out four vials, in each of them is a purple powdery substance. Incriminating substance!
"This looks like illegal narcotics,” the captain says.
"OOOOO-kay, you can keep it!" Sfiros says.
"What does it do?" the captain says.
"Oh, I don't know."
The captain sets one of the vials on the table and pushes it towards Sfiros. "Show me," she says.
Sfiros stutters, "I am NOT in the habit of drinking or taking random things! Especially in that place!"
She smiles. "You need to show me what this does."
"I really don't know... the best way I can think that is that we take this stuff to the High House of Wonders and we talk to my boss, Numuroo—he is really good at inventing. He probably knows what it does. He can help us out. Listen, that vial—the black one—turns people into plague monsters. I don't know what the purple one does."
"Which of your comrades would take this?" the captain says, holding the purple vial.
"None! If I told them not to! I don't think any of them are drug-doer people."
"Fair enough,” the captain says, scribbling down some notes and sending Sfiros away. Within minutes, the guards bring in Sleipnir.
"Have a seat,” the captain says. “What's your name?"
"My name is Sleipnir,” Sleipnir says.
"Are you a native resident of Baldur's Gate?"
"I'm from Warcross, but I have a house here."
He tells her where Caeus’ workshop is, near the Steeps along the water’s edge.
"I take it you're a magic user?"
"Why do you say such a thing? But yes I am,” Sleipnir says.
The captain reaches into her pocket and pulls out a vial with purple powder in it, then sets it down in front of him. "Inhale this."
"I don't do drugs. What is it?" Sleipnir says.
"Contraband. From your friend."
"Well I don't want to inhale that!"
"Do you not trust your cleric of Gond? To sample what he has?"
"Listen we just came down from this terrible place. I don't know what he's got on him! I don't want to inhale anything after coming from there."
She pockets the purple powder. "So what is down there?"
"Well, it's this big area and I didn't realize there was an undercity basically down there. And it turns into this inn place that was kind of weird, but it looks like there is this black terrible stuff everywhere. And I like shadowy stuff, but this wasn’t my cup of tea. Then it goes into this courtyard area, then we found a vault. We thought we could sleep there. We go in there and these dadgum mutant things come out and—"
"Are you eating during an interrogation?" the captain says, hearing Sleipnir crunching on some food during his explanation.
"I thought the snacks were complimentary! Gosh! For real, if you go down there, you need to bring a lot of people to open that vault door. There were like twenty in there.”
"What makes these people—these mutants?"
"Um... well. They have like boils all on them, random horns, intestines hanging out of their body. Claws instead of hands. Spew forth poison when they get agitated. That doesn't sound pretty normal. Maybe zombie is a better word? These nuts are delicious."
"Do you know the cause of this... mutation?"
"Um, no. I'm assuming it's all the black ichor stuff."
She pulls out the container of ichor. "Like this?"
"Yes! I picked up a sample of it and gave it to Sfiros to take the Temple of Gond to see if they could identify it."
"Yes, I frisked him, and we found... interesting things. Tell me about that coin that made me feel... small."
"There's a coin that made you feel small?"
"About five inches diameter. Strange iron cast. A symbol on it."
Sleipnir stares at her. "Yeah, I don't know what that is."
"Okay. You may go with the others,” she says, taking her notes.
"Are we free to go?" Sleipnir says, standing up.
"That's for me to decide."
Within a few minutes, Sleipnir is back with the rest of the crew as the final member, Harken, steps inside for his interrogation.
"Hello!" Harken muses.
"Have a seat,” the captain says. “Who are you?"
"I'm no one of import," Harken says.
The captain sighs. "You spend most of your time with the minotaurs?"
"Spend a good bit. Close friends and all."
"So far you're the only one to not divulge your identity. Why might that be?"
Harken leans back. "I'm a private kind of man. What's it to you? Who's asking?”
"I am,” she says. "I am Captain Bedieve of the Flaming Fist. And Heapside is my jurisdiction."
"Oh, if that's the case, nice to meet you. I'm Harken."
"Do you have a surname?" Bedieve says.
Harken smirks. "If I said it, that would take all the fun out of it. You'd know me, and I'd know you'd know me..."
Bedieve sees an opportunity. "We can make it a bit more fun. Do you know what this is?" she says, taking out one of the purple powder vials.
"I imagine it's something you'll do to make me talk?"
"So you don't know what this does?"
Harken shrugs. "Enlighten me. Without using it, preferably."
"That's just it. I don't know what it does. But I would like to. After all, your friend—the cleric—had this... narcotic on him."
"Oh yeah that one has sticky fingers! Probably picked it up down in the basement after Goblin Behnie and all turned up dead."
"Were you born in Baldur's Gate?"
"Eh, more or less!” Harken mutters. “What, are we playing guess-who now? Let's play hangman without the hanging though! I'll give you the first letter: B."
She stares at him.
He blows her a kiss.
“So tell me, what did you do with my friends, and what are you expecting out of us?” Harken says, then rolls a 23 on his Persuasion check!
Captain Bedieve sets aside her notes and crosses her arms—perhaps this cocksure knave has some use? "Well, we found this mayhem here at the bathhouse, and in the middle of our investigation, you five... well... appeared, is a way to call it. And with the Grand Duke missing, there is plenty of room for advancement in my force. The better I can contain these sudden attacks by cultists, influxes of refugees, rallying of Hellriders, all while keeping the other dukes off my back, then the higher up the ladder I can climb."
"Oh that's good. I help you, and you help me and my friends. How's that sound, sweetheart?"
Bedieve rolls her eyes at him. "Some say that with these stacking crises, Baldur's Gate is going to Hell."
"Me mom says that!"
"She lives here?" Bedieve says, grabbing her notes again.
"She lives in Candlekeep. You can let my friends go, but I know lots of people here. Powerful family. Wouldn't want to be getting on the bad side of them. But moreso, we can get people on our bad side in your favor eh?” Herken says, then leans in. “You know the Beremons?"
"I've heard that name before. They are researchers of arcane and rare artifacts, correct?"
"Eh more or less, yeah. Ma and pa get up to a little fun stuff, but they put us up to that fund stuff."
Bedieve nods, suddenly aware that Harken is a Beremon. "Good... I could use someone with a bit of hereditary pull, so to say."
"And I could use someone like you too!" he says, winking at her.
Captain Bedieve divulges more information, "Our grand duke, Ulder Ravengard, was visiting Kinchasa on a diplomatic mission when the city was destroyed. Coincidence? I think not. The knights of Kinchasa, some newly-sprung up group—The Hellriders—a few of them escaped the destruction and are becoming self-righteous rabble-rousers, causing a pain in my side. We're arresting them on sight, but that's left us short-handed to deal with another problem that you may be able to help with.”
“What's that problem?”
Bedieve points into the bathhouse. "These damned cultists. I need you to kill these wretches on sight. You are my deputy."
"What else do I get with these posts?" Harken says.
"The Flaming Fist, at least in my territory and where I have sway, can overlook or provide info since you are now an agent of our cause."
"Well, I'd rather make a new friend than a new enemy. Suppose we're new business partners now?"
Captain Bedieve offers her palm to him, and they shake hands with a smile.
"Welcome to the force, Deputy Beremon." She gives him a badge of rank for the Flaming Fist, displaying that he is a deputy for the Heapside district.
They step out into the main area of the bathhouse where the minotaurs are waiting.
"Hey can we have our stuff back?" Sfiros says.
"Oy, give them their stuff back!" Harken says to the other Flaming Fist soldiers, flashing his badge.
“Wait, badge!?” Sfiros says, seeing the glint.
Back at the workshop, everyone is ready to collapse and take a much needed rest.
"... And that's when she pardoned us for killing the cultists,” Harken says, finishing his tale.
"What about the doctor?" Sfiros says.
Everyone shushes Sfiros! The doctor business was long ago! No need to bring it up! That’s stuff that happened before episode 57! Hush!
They all take a nap, then wake up feeling very second level compared to the previous day. Caeus infuses several scraps he has lying around with blessing of the forge to transform a regular bag into a bag of holding! He then infuses Tallest's chainmail armor to make it +1.
"Does anyone else in this group have identify?" Sfiros says. "Becaues if not, I'll do it, but I need a pearl worth 100 gold."
"I also need a gem worth 100 gold," Caeus says.
"Why?" Tallest says.
"To bring this little robot to life!" Caeus says, looking at his little robot.
"What was that about us hunting a cult, Harken?" Sfiros says.
"You know those blokes who we killed in the bath house? We got to get rid of them," Harken says.
"Aren't they all dead?" Sleipnir says.
"The cute captain girl said there were more of them,” Harken says.
"Did she say where?" Tallest says.
Harken stops to think. "To be fair... around..."
"Let's go down to the beach to search for pearls and cultists, that way we can knock down two pearls with one search!" Tallest declares.
The PC’s then realizes they have a good bit of money if they all pitch in for a pearl.
They then realize they have a big map of Baldur's Gate that they also stole from the Tenebrous Hand. They lay out the map, which labels each of the districts and territories. Harken notes to the other PC’s that Captain Bedieve has two territories of Baldur’s Gate that are on good terms with her, the captain in Eastway and the captain in Seatower. Her territory is in Heapside.
Everyone then pitches in for a pearl worth 100 gp since they need their stuff identified and nobody wants to spend a game session digging in the sand.
"Everyone benefits! And Gond will like us more!" Sfiros says.
Harken gives him some money. "Give a look at this ring."
Sfiros goes to the House of High Wonders and buys the pearl from the magic pearl shopkeeper that’s always on duty at the forge. It’s a very niche position, but useful when needed! He then returns to the group.
He uses the pearl to cast identify, with his holy symbol in one hand and pearl in the other, directing the spell onto the skull with the hinged top. He finds nothing magical about it, giving Tallest the go-ahead to open the hinge and see what’s inside.
Tallest opens the skull to see what was rattling around inside of it: within the skull is a black pearl worth 500 gold pieces! Which is five times worth the pearl Sfiros just bought.
"But..." Sfiros says, holding the pearl.
He instead identifies the jade statue of an eagle: it has some magical innate properties, and is worth about 400 gp. Score!
He then casts identify on the satchel of vials that nobody wanted to touch. He realizes that the four small vials each contain powdered forms of purple lotus flower, and they radiate magic: some WEIRD shit! Lamentations of the Flame Princess shit!
He then checks the black ichor, knowing it's some dangerous shit. Afterwards, he checks out the coin they obtained from Goblin Behnie. His suspicions are confirmed: Goblin Behnie’s soul is bound to this large coin!
"Is he a lich? Everyone nowadays is a lich. Those heroes in Chult found a bunch of phylacteries," Caeus says.
"Nobody knows that!" Tallest says.
"That plant person came to town and was like PHYLACTERIES FOR SALE!" Caeus says, then freezes. He stares at the coin again. "Hold on... I think I know what this is..." He rolls 20 on a knowledge check to confirm he knows what it is. "It's a soul coin! I've heard of these. In the Nine Hells they trade these things like currency. Like devils and fiends."
"We got some money now! Some hell coins!" Sleipnir says, always wanting to dabble in tabletop cryptocurrency.
"We need to keep it safe. Put it in the bag,” Caeus says.
"We're not keeping someone's soul in my house!" Sleipnir says.
"It's not his soul—" Caeus begins.
"I don't want this house haunted!" Sleipnir says.
"I spent time with it. It's Behnie's soul!" Sfiros says.
"We're going to put it right here in this nice little safe demiplane in this bag!" Caeus says, shoving forth the bag of holding.
"It won't make him safe from my hammer!" Tallest says.
"Well if he comes to life, he'll come to life in this bag. There's no air in there!" Caeus says.
Sfiros checks out the bag of holding, putting his hand in super deep. He’s super stoked that the magic works. "That's so cool!"
Tallest hires Sfiros to make him some custom splint mail—but he only wants one Gond symbol on it. Sfiros then identifies Harken’s ring, finding out that when it’s worn, you become “much less visible and much less active.”
Whatever that means…
Harken holds up the ring. |All right guys, here goes," he says. He puts it on and immediately turns invisible… he also magically collapses as the ring puts him to sleep.
Nobody realizes that he’s asleep. They just hear a strange thud.
Caeus pokes around with a stick, eventually finding his sleeping tiefling friend. He jabs him several tomes with a stick, but it doesn't wake him up.
Sfiros turns to Sleipnir. "Hey, you can cast sleep! How do you wake him up?"
“Slap him!" Sleipnir says.
Slapping intensifies, but nothing happens. Caeus chooses this time to read from his steamy romance book he bought from Sleipnir, Fifty Shades of Ulfire. When he does, he realizes something magical is happening… something steamy… VERY steamy! He rolls a percentile die, but nothing happens.
"HEY IDENTIFY THIS BOOK!" Caeus shouts.
"I'll identify your smut. You really think this is magic smut?" Sfiros says, laughing.
He identifies the book, then understands that the book can transport the reader somewhere when it’s read, but there is a very small chance for that to happen.
Caeus has heard of being taken places while reading smut, but never so literally! Caeus then puts the book and the soul coin in the bag of holding, the coin slid in the book on page 69.
The Herd then checks out the nearby shops to cash in some of the money they got from their items. Sleipnir buys a scroll of knock, just in case they’re confronted with a terrible locked door. They then get four potions of healing and hand them out to everyone.
They come back from shopping only to realize they completely forgot about Harken after Caeus trips over him. They try other methods of waking him up, such as throwing buckets of water on him. He still doesn't get up. Caeus shrugs and gets some chalk to outline him, then puts a table over him.
"Hey, your friend Harken still hasn't gotten up. I put that table next to him,” Caeus says.
"He’s OUR friend!" Sfiros says.
"You go drinking with him!" Tallest says.
"We all go drinking with him!" Sfiros says.
Caeus thinks for a minute. "Okay, he’s our friend, Harken."
"Is he the chalk outline over there?" Sfiros says.
"Yes," Caeus says.
"Do we know what's wrong with him?" Sfiros says.
Caeus reaches down and plucks the ring off of Harken’s finger, which causes him to reappear and wake up.
"Fuckin' a..." Harken mutters.
"This is the best!" Caeus says.
"What did you dream about?" Tallest says.
"Big woman..." Harken mumbles.
"Try something for me. Try this back on," Caeus says and shoves the ring onto Harken’s finger.
Once again, Harken goes invisible and falls asleep under the magical properties. Caeus removes it again, causing Harken to re-wake and re-disinvisiblize.
"We need to get you a bell," Caeus says, always a fan of bells being worn around the neck.
"We can use this on someone else!" Tallest says.
"We can use it to capture people and keep them asleep!" Caeus says, which isn’t something you really want strangers to hear so say.
They do some plotting, deciding to go look for cultists the following morning after resting up.
"Let me try that ring. I want some GOOD sleep tonight!" Caeus says, lying down.
Sfiros draws a chalk outline around Caeus before going to sleep for the night.