The Herd wakes up the next day, and boy what a waking they have! Chalk outlines surround the workshop, and after having a nice little chat with Captain Bedieve the interrogatator, Harken has a bit of a promotion. But Harken’s player isn’t at the table at the moment, so everyone plays around that for a while.
There’s a knock at the door!
Caeus is currently sleeping with the sleepy ring, so Sleipnir decides to answer the door.
“Who is it?” Sleipnir says, peeping through the peephole and seeing two Flaming Fist members outside his door. “It’s the cops! Be cool!”
“We are officers of the Flaming Fist, and we are here to speak to Harken Beremon,” one of them says.
Sleipnir can’t let Harken speak with the cops! Harken’s AFK at the moment!
“He’s out at the moment!” Sleipnir says.
“Yeah he’s busy standing in the corner and being silent,” Sfiros says.
“… What time will he be back?” the cops say.
“I’m not his secretary! He doesn’t live at this residence! Maybe you should try his residence!” Sleipnir argues.
“He lives at the bar!” Tallest says. “You should go check out that bar. What’s it called? Elfsong Tavern!”
“We went there, but we heard he spends most of his time here. We have a job for him,” the cops say.
“Oh! You have a job for him! I’ll relay the message,” Sleipnir says. “I’m his deputy.”
“Yeah, he’s his secretary,” Tallest says.
“Well we need to see him.”
“He’s not here!” Sleipnir says. “Well… he’s really tired. He told me under no circumstances should anyone wake him up unless he’s had at least 12 hours of sleep, and it’s only been 10.”
“We just need to make sure he’s in this residence,” the cops say.
“Oh well come in! Just be quiet!” Sleipnir says.
The Flaming Fist step in, take a weird glance at the chalk outlines on the floor, then decide that maybe they shouldn’t ask too many questions about minotaur culture.
It’s still weird!
“… I’m practicing for when I get on crime scenes!” Sleipnir says.
“Well we look forward to getting you on the force when you get older!” the cop says, patting him on the head.
Sleipnir grumbles and walks away. “Gosh!”
The Flaming Fist find Harken, but he’s just standing there. “So you must be his… team?” they say, looking to the minotaurs.
“We prefer Herd, yes,” Sfiros says.
“Well, we do have some jobs. We have three details, and we need you to look into one of them for us—”
“Harken will be on in just a while!” Caeus says on the ground and out of character and invisible and surrounded by chalk.
One while later…
“OH! You’re awake now sir!” the officer says, seeing that Harken is now “online” as it seems.
The Flaming Fist set down three dossiers of jobs for the Herd to look through. They all have peculiar labels:
CALIMSHAN DOCS: shows a picture of the Little Calimshan district with a sticky note scribbled with the notes, “Hellriders?” and “Manzibar Kreeg?”
GRAND DUKE DOCS: shows a picture of Grand Duke Ravengard and the other dukes from the Council of Four: Duke Porter, Duke Vanthampur, and Duke Stelemane.
PLAGUE DOCS: shows a picture of Nurgle’s symbol, a sketching of another floor layout taped to the folder, and the names of three Manorborn families, all scratched out: Miyar, Ravenshade, and Caldswell.
Harken flips through the dossiers while the minotaurs argue about minotaur stuff, mostly about how they’re going to do whatever they want regardless of his decision.
“If you pick one, that’s fine, but we’re going to do something else,” Sfiros says.
“Well you can decide which one we’re doing, but we’re going to do the Calimshan one,” Tallest says.
“Yeah we decided already to go to Little Calimshan,” Caeus says.
“We did that before we even got this dossier that says, ‘Go to Calimshan!’ This is perfect timing!” Sfiros says.
Harken turns to the two cops and says, “All right. After much deliberation, I’ve determined that we will go to Little Calimshan.”
“Hey good call!” Sfiros says.
So the Herd sets off down the roads to Little Calimshan after already getting permission from the cops that they can go do what they already wanted to do. It’s like a search warrant, but for bull people! And the warrant is for a whole neighborhood!
They look into the dossier for Little Calimshan and basically learn that Little Calimshan is a district outside the city walls where many Calishites have gathered, but recently it is packed full of refugees to the point where the refugees are setting up in other areas of Baldur’s Gate, causing lots of uproar. However, one of the best jewelers in the city resides in Calim’s Jewel Emporium.
“Ah, let’s go there and see if we can get some refugee specials!” Tallest says.
“Yeah we can go there and get jewels on the cheap because of these refugees starting to unload them!” Sfiros says.
While taking off down the road to Little Calimshan, they happen upon one of those random encounter kind of situations:
Some weirdo on the street with a big black ledger and a big black hat and a big black cocktail coat approaches the crew. He tips his hat to them.
“Morning, gentlemen!” the man greets them. “I am from Candehallow’s Arrangements, best funeral parlor around. I don’t suppose I could have a minute of your time?”
“For such a well-dressed fellow? Of course!” Sleipnir says.
“Yes, of course. How can we help?” Tallest says.
“Well I’m sure you’ve probably noticed there’s a bit of issues going around Baldur’s Gate in general,” the man mutters, beginning his sales pitch. “A bit of violence has sprung up, an influx of refugees—so those of us at Candehallow’s Arrangements are rolling out brand new, undeath insurance! If you worry about any liabilities should your corpse commit any post-death damages, would any of you like to sign up for our program.”
The crew isn’t sure what to take out of this.
“How would we be held liable if our corpse…” Tallest starts.
“Hold on, I’m not even going to hear you out…” Caeus says, fishing into his backpack. “Read a page out of this book!” he hands him the smut book, Fifty Shades of Ulfire. “If you read a page out of that book, I might keep listening to what you have to say.
The salesman looks at the book. “… This is pornography!”
“Okay… give me it back and I’ll see you later!” Caeus says.
Caeus and Sleipnir then roll a persuasion check to make the stranger read his porno book.
“Rumor has it you really want to read this book!” Sleipnir says.
“What are you, a fairy? You don’t like to see men and women and men and men and women and women just going at it!?” Harken adds in.
The man clad in all black and looking like depression incarnate mutters, “… I don’t think I’m a member of the fey.”
“Well then… read some fucking smut!” Harken says.
“Yeah, prove you can read common!” Sfiros says.
“How do WE know YOU’RE not an undead corpse!?” Sleipnir says.
“I’ll just…” the man mutters under the pressure. “I’ll just read this page here!”
The pages flutter a bit as he finishes reading. “This book is weird!” the man says, shoving it back to Caeus.
“Continue with your sales pitch,” Sleipnir says.
“Okay,” the salesman continues. “Well nobody truly knows what happens after they die, so—”
“Pass, I’m not interested,” Caeus says.
“But sir—” the man starts.
“I thought we were all going to Gond or something?” Tallest says. “Cleric, what happens to us after we die?”
“It depends, is there a Death Curse going on right now?” Sfiros says.
“Tell me this, mate,” Harken says. “What happens to you after you die?”
“I will be buried, and I will not have to worry about my corpse causing any mayhem that my family would have to be accountable for because I have an insurance policy with Candehallow’s Arrangements!” the man says with great gusto.
“What kind of society holds family members accountable if a necromancer uses their… like… what the fuck!?” Caeus says, losing his shit. “Like this poor family lost their dad, so now you have this people go collect damages from his widow and orphans!?”
“Are corpses causing a lot of trouble right now?” Sfiros says.
“What do you think all of those people in Tumbledown are keeping an eye out for?” the man says.
“Sleipnir are you getting this!? This sounds like a rumor!” Sfiros says.
Sleipnir nods, “Yeah, it’s a rumor!”
The party then bids farewell to the insurance salesman, not buying any policies whatsoever but keeping a degree of ominously eminent innovation between them.
“Were we supposed to get his autograph?” Tallest says.
But the Herd hustles on, passing through Eastway and crossing the gate to Stony Eyes, having an easy time traversing the locales due to Harken’s Flaming Fist badge allowing them to bypass the guard stations.
They get to Little Calimshan and see that the littlest, Calimshaniest place in all of Baldur’s Gate is surrounded by a high stone wall, dotted with watchtowers. Throngs of people camp outside the enclosure, and brief glimpses through the gates show crowds of busy people cramped together.
The PC’s then do what they do best when they’re unsure about things, which is corner an NPC and prod it for information. Hey look, there’s an NPC over there! Some kid selling chocolate!
The minotaurs crowd around the kid selling chocolate and buy a big giant bag of it from him in exchange for some fancy lore—way better than buying insurance. Surely if the funeral parlor sold chocolate instead of insurance policies, people would be more inclined to actually give them money.
It’s a truly genius business plan!
The PC’s discover the following info from the chocolate boy:
A terrible tragedy happened in Kinchasa.
People from the Kinchasan area (Calimshan) are fleeing.
Most refugees are displaced Calishites.
The Hellriders have gone out to find the remaining Kinchasans.
“Who are the Hellriders?” Caeus asks the NPC chocolate boy.
“They are the knights set up several years ago!” the chocolate boy says. “Some dwarf set them up.”
“Interesting. Are there any Hellriders in town we can talk to?” Tallest says.
“They have all gone out to find the refugees. I think they’ll be back in a couple of days!”
“Which way did they go?” Caeus says.
“They went out to the southeast.”
Caeus thinks for a minute. “What was our dossier about?”
“Tell us about Manzibar Kreeg!” Tallest says. “Who is he?”
“I don’t know. I am a child,” the chocolate boy says.
This displeases the minotaurs.
“Come on! We did business with you!” Caeus says.
“We did business, so you owe us exposition!” Sfiros shouts.
“This human kitten knows nothing!” Tallest declares. “Let’s go find the jeweler and speak to adults!”
“Go with Gond!” Sfiros tells the child.
“I shall! And I will tell my father that such great minotaurs did fantastic business with me,” the child then runs off, singing to himself, “the youngest candle burns the brightest!”
“Who do you think his father was? Nobody important…” Tallest grumbles.
The party then realizes that several starving, begging people are staring at them after they bought a big giant sack of chocolate.
“We gave all our trail rations to dogs, so we don’t have enough food for people,” Sfiros says.
“I’ll distribute some trays of brownies!” Caeus says, reaching into his bag of holding.
“Classic Caeus, giving brownies away to strangers and none to his friends,” Sfiros grumbles.
Caeus gets mad and shouts, “Here!” and throws all the brownies at Sfiros one-by-one. Sfiros catches them in his mouth, and the starving people stare haggardly at the cow-people having a brownie fight in the middle of a famine-plagued population.
“Fuckin’ animals…” Harken says.
“What did you say!?” Sfiros shouts. “What did you call us!?”
“Oy, calm down there. Your mouth is full there with fuckin’ brownies you fuckin’ animal,” Harken shouts.
One of the members of the crowd speaks up, “Two silver on the one with the hat!”
“I’ll take it!” Another says. “The one in the red looks like he could fight.”
Harken then pulls the others aside. “Oy, I’m going to pick a fight with Sfiros. I’m going to take a dive. So bet on him!”
At this point, the PC’s realize that Harken is trying to scam a bunch of poor vagabonds by getting punched in the face by his friend who is eating brownies.
“Just go with it! Bet on Sfiros!” Harken says.
Tallest stomps up to the poor people and slams 20 gold down. “If there’s anything I want, it’s to bet against the red guy!”
Harken then starts egging Sfiros on, “Yeah, you fat fuckin’ animal!”
“Why are you being like this, Harken?” Sfiros says, tears welling in his eyes.
“You’re lucky it’s not fuckin’ cud, fuckin’ chewin’ grass you fuckin’ bull piece of shit!” Harken shouts.
“… I want 15 gold on this!” Caeus says.
At this point, some of the onlookers get a little wary. “How do we know this isn’t a setup? He’s with you guys?” they say, pointing to Harken.
Tallest takes back his 20 gold and starts grumbling, “All right, fine! But I hope he gets beat up, because this is going to be hilarious. Watch his teeth get knocked out. He’s going to take a fall and we’re going to kick him in the face!”
“All these fuckin’ minotaurs!” Harken shouts to Tallest. “All you are is tall, and I heard you ain’t got a brain in that little head!”
Sfiros gasps, “Why are you being like this?”
“And I heard there was someone taller!” Harken shouts.
The minotaurs all gasp!
“You shouldn’t say things you can’t take back!” Sfiros chides the tiefling.
Harken goes up to Sfiros and pushes him. “I’m going to take a fall!” he whispers, then keeps goading him on.
“Harken, what is wrong with you!?” Sfiros says.
“I have to look at your dumb ass all day!”
“My feelings!” Sfiros cries. “I don’t think you mean it. What’s wrong Harken? Let’s talk about it!”
“HIT ME YOU FUCKIN’ ASSHOLE!”
“Harken you know neither of us wants that! I know you’re saying things you don’t mean.”
Harken groans, “All right everyone. Show’s over. This one doesn’t want to fight because he’s a fuckin’ sow…”
Sfiros headbutts Harken with his horns at the insult, missing the charge, but Harken sells it by putting up an arm and pushing off, landing on his back as though he was pushed away. A couple of people in the crowd start to cheer.
“At least there’s some kind of entertainment around here,” a member of the crowd mutters, then wanders off.
Caeus stares at this situation with a confused expression. “Aren’t you the police, Harken!?”
Harken realizes that nobody really followed through with any bets. “What the fuck?”
Sfiros runs up to him. “I’m so sorry, Harken! I don’t know what came over me!”
“Hit him again!” Tallest shouts.
“Wait, wait, wait… you actually meant to hit me?” Harken says.
“You were saying such terrible things!” Sfiros says.
“I was trying to get these people to bet on you! You people hate money, don’t you?” Harken grumbles.
“Harken, you are so troubled… have you considered religion?” Sfiros says.
“I’ve considered it. Passed on it. Thank you!” Harken says. “All right now that that little distraction is put aside and we didn’t make a god-damned penny, let’s go find this jeweler now.”
The Herd approaches closer into Little Calimshan, and they find the guards are not members of the Flaming Fist, but a personal security team. The team allows the minotaurs inside, but upon seeing Harken’s deputy badge of the Flaming Fist, they bar him from entry.
No cops allowed!
“Harken, this is a good opportunity to walk around and clear your mind!” Sfiros says.
Harken rages, “Sfiros… I hope the next time I come across you, it’s in a fuckin’ burger patty!”
“Here, entertain yourself while we’re inside!” Caeus says, throwing his porno book at him.
Harken is stuck waiting outside while the minotaurs enter the filth-ridden, cramped urban jungle. Homeless people from Calimshan litter the streets, and the noise is near deafening. Bedrolls and tents litter the streets as income inequality looms, the tall towers still pristine among the refuse. Calishite militia patrol the inner area, enforcing their own law where possible. Fortunately, they are not too accosted by harpers and beggers due to the intimidating presence of being fucking minotaurs, so they seek out the Calim’s Jewel Emporium.
The emporium looks more like a pawn shop than an austere gemstone store, hinting that the owner is taking quick advantage of the refugees offloading their heirlooms. Sapphire rings, diadems, silver circlets, statuettes—all look like former family heirlooms passed down for generations, now spread out for the next buyer.
Several patrons from the Upper City peruse the wares, each accompanied by up to three bodyguards. Tallest approaches an expensive topaz nose ring.
“What kind of magical properties are in this?” he asks.
A nearby patron with short hair, tan skin, and a smear of sharp eyeliner mutters, “None of these are magic. All decorative!”
Tallest looks for the nearest jewel-wench or jewel-monger he can speak with. A pair of Calishite vendors notices the gemstones that Tallest is already decked out with, and one approaches him.
“I can help you find a wonderful piece of craftsmanship to hang from your powerful, powerful body!” the vendor says, his eyes beaming.
“Hrm, yes. Thank you,” Tallest says.
“Hey, don’t objectify my friend!” Caeus says.
“Oh we’re not done here,” Tallest holds him back. “You can continue with the objectification! I’m looking for something that says, ‘I’m tall, but I could be taller!’”
“Hrm…” the vendor mutters. “Do you mind if I measure the diameter of your horns?”
“Oh absolutely not. I don’t mind at all!” Tallest agrees, getting ready to kneel down.
“Oh no need!” the vendor stops him. “I’ll fetch the tallest ladder we have!”
“It’s like it was made for me!” Tallest says, giddily.
The vendors fetch a large stepladder and use it to climb up and measure Tallest’s horn diameter with a ribbon, calling out the measurements. “These might be the largest horns I’ve ever seen on a minotaur!”
Tallest grins, “Yes thank you. I grew them myself!”
“For you, minotaur, I suggest a pair of silver rings! They will be 25 gold pieces per inch of diameter. So it depends on where you want them. Closer to the base, more expensive. Closer to the tip, less expensive,” the vendor says.
“Hrm… well I spent all my money on this chain shirt…” Tallest thinks.
Sleipnir laughs, “You went in with no money?”
Caeus tosses him a brownie.
“Well without any magic properties, I certainly couldn’t buy it with gold. What kind of payment plans do you offer? Or what kind of missions? I could do it for a mission,” Tallest says.
“Your standard mission,” Caeus says.
“Whaddya say, you got any missions you need happening?” Tallest says.
The small woman pipes up. “I’ll get you a set of rings. Five inches each in diameter if you do a job for me.”
“Absolutely! You got it,” Tallest says. “What you got?”
“You’re a big guy…” she says. “I’ll see you in the Garden of Whispers. We can speak over there.”
The woman points outside to a secluded area—a mazelike garden of wooden panels and paper screens with several benches set aside. The garden is one of the only sources of beauty in the cramped locale, with lush green and pink flowers blooming.
“It’s where real business meetings happen,” she whispers to him.
“Yes, it’s where I do a lot of business meetings as well. Behind screens,” Tallest says.
Caeus laughs, “I feel like if there’s a place called the Garden of Whispers, then Sleipnir gets a chub and goes hang out there.”
“Rumor has it…” Sleipnir mumbles with joy.
They head to the Garden of Whispers and have a seat on some cushions next to a screen with a small woman-shaped silhouette sitting behind it. That silhouette might be the woman!
“You can call me Rilsa,” the woman says. “Rilsa Rael. Now I love my people, but with these sudden influxes of refugees, some of my people have turned into… let’s just say, people of ill repute! There is a rising gang, a Calishite gang called the Right Pashas that seeks to claim this area as some kind of turf to fence their wicked contraband.”
“Yeah, we’re all about fighting gangs,” Caeus says.
“What kind of contraband?” Tallest says.
“Lately there’s been a purple kind of powder,” Rilsa says.
“What does it do?” the minotaurs all say.
“If we could find some, would you try it for us?” Caeus says.
“How do you know that it’s wicked?” Tallest says.
“Do you want the rings or not?” Rilsa says.
“Yes I do! Very much so! But the more info I get, the better…” Tallest says.
Caeus steps in. “Listen, a standard mission is like ‘go fight a guy.’ You’re asking us to fight a gang.”
“Also the only payment we’re getting is this guy’s rings,” Sfiros says. “I can’t wear his rings.”
Meanwhile outside the walls, Harken is patrolling the area doing cop stuff. He keeps watch for anyone acting seedy—especially people he might know. He’s not unfamiliar with this territory, having caroused in it before. Though he doesn’t know much about Little Calimshan, he knows some notorious folks in Norchapel, the quiet (well, once quiet) location that surrounds Little Calimshan.
He knows that Norchapel pays a good bit of protection money to the Guild, the largest gang in all of Baldur’s Gate. The Guild’s current kingpin for the Norchapel district is an elder high elf named Seerdaer who obtained his position due to Norchapels notoriety for being the “quiet” district.
A perfect district for a retiring gang kingpin!
Harken figures that since he hasn’t seen Seerdaer in a while, he could easily get to him within fifteen minutes and catch up on some of the old fun they had together. He decides though to wait for the Herd to finish their business and take them with him.
Meanwhile, back at the Garden of Whispers…
“I just need you to rough up one guy,” Rilsa says.
“Which one?” Tallest says.
Rilsa slides a piece of paper beneath the screen. Within it is an address in Little Calimshan. Several names on the paper are crossed off—the remaining one for someone named Gazett: a thirty-year-old male Calishite with grizzled teeth and leader of the Right Pashas.
“I’ve never seen anyone with grizzled teeth…” Caeus says.
“He grinds them a lot,” Rilsa says. “Possibly from the purple powder.”
“Where can we find him?” Caeus says.
“His address is on the paper!” Rilsa grumbles.
“Well we’re not from around here!” Caeus says.
“Can you mark it on this map?” Sleipnir says.
“You… ugh!” Rilsa groans, then stands up and walks around the screen and comes back to their side, snatches their map up, and scribbles the location onto their map. “It’s not that hard…” she mutters, then returns to her side of the screen with a pout.
“Can you tell us where the Manzibar is too while we’re mapping stuff out?” Tallest says.
“Yeah, what happened to Kinchasa?” Caeus says.
“Last I heard, it disappeared,” Rilsa says.
Caeus scratches his head. “How does an entire town disappear?”
“Yeah and do you know where the Manzibar is?” Tallest says.
Rilsa shrugs. “No one does. Chances are he was in Kinchasa. The only people who would know about that would be those Hellriders.”
“Where would we find a Hellrider?” Caeus says.
“They went out to find more refugees. They’ll be back in a couple of days,” Rilsa says.
“Do they have any kind of uniform we could recognize them with?” Tallest asks.
“Yeah,” Rilsa says, thinking. “Banded mail, rust-colored cloaks. Armed with swords and daggers—not spears, like most Calishites. Usually mounted on these orange lizard creatures called snapfires.”
“Why are they coming to Baldur’s Gate then? Are there closer cities?” Sfiros says.
“Everyone from Calimshan are fleeing out. They don’t know if their other cities are going to disappear,” Rilsa says.
“When you say disappear, do you mean the place isn’t there anymore, or that people just can’t get to it?” Tallest says.
“Apparently it’s a big, massive crater,” Rilsa says.
“I would love to see this!” Tallest says. “Have you seen it?”
“No,” Rilsa says.
“Has anyone drawn a picture of it?” Tallest says.
Rilsa sighs, “Are you going to do my job or just keep asking me questions?”
“All right, we’ll do your job under one more condition: we want to ask you one more question. What is a secret that you haven’t told us yet?” Tallest says.
Sleipnir leans in.
Rilsa chuckles. “Let’s just say that the Guild likes to keep its territories in check,” she mutters, then walks away.
Caeus turns to Tallest and says, “I’m going to sublet out a portion of my shop to you and let you call it ‘The Tallest’s Missions and Stuff!’ Will work for missions!” Caeus laughs. “You’ll have like a barter system, but you’ll do it in missions. ‘I want to barter something, but I don’t have gold per se. I just have missions!’”
“Should we get Harken?” Tallest says.
“Eh, we don’t need him,” Caeus says.
“We need to find out what that purple stuff is about,” Tallest says. “Ready Sfiros?”
“Heck yeah!” Sfiros says.
“That’s two dossiers we’re doing now! That’s the plague missions too!” Tallest says.
This minotaur is rolling in missions!
The minotaurs follow the address and the circle on the map to find this fool who they were missioned to rough up.
“Okay, so plan A is to talk to this guy to find out what is in the purple stuff, and plan B is to kill him,” Tallest says.
“OR!” Caeus interjects. “Plan BA is to kill him with the purple stuff!”
“Then he won’t tell us what the purple stuff is,” Sfiros says.
“But we’ll know what it does since we used it on him,” Caeus says.
“What if it’s like a potion of fire giant’s strength?”
“Then we have more of it! We’ll use some too! That’ll be badass as hell!” Caeus says. “All we know is that this stuff does some weird Lamentations of the Flame Princess shit.”
“The old magic!” Sfiros clarifies.
“Yeah, the old forbidden magic!” Caeus says.
They step up to Gazzet’s door and knock on it.
“Who is it?” a voice answers.
“It’s the Herd,” Tallest says.
“I have not heard of the Herd.”
“We are here on official business,” Tallest says. “Do you know about the plague?”
“Hey, Sfiros, flash him a vial,” Caeus says.
Sfiros shows one of his vials of purple powder. “We’re here for the purple stuff.”
“I know of no purple stuff!” Gazett says.
“We want to buy more of it,” Sfiros says.
“Open up, Grizmo!” Caeus says.
“It’s Gazett!” the man says, and opens up the door to his crack house, revealing a thirty-year man who might as well look like he’s in his eighties. “And you should have told me from the beginning that you wanted to buy some purple stuff.”
“We had to make sure you were cool first!” Sfiros says.
They scurry inside and take note of his creepy location, carved with strange symbols.
“I’ve just got the one shipment in,” Gazett says, pulling out a purple vial. “Standard as always. One hundred gold pieces.”
“We’ll take it for one mission!” Tallest says.
“It is pure lotus flower,” Gazett says.
“What does it do?” Tallest says.
“It does d100 things!” Gazett says.
“Do you have any free samples?” Tallest says.
“You have some already!” Gazett says.
“Here’s what we’ll do. You do one, and I’ll do one,” Caeus says.
“I only have the one!” Gazett says.
“You’re having this man use 100 gold worth of his own supply to sell you what, an empty bottle?” Sleipnir says to Caeus.
“We’ll do it for missions,” Tallest says.
Caeus eyes the man. “Rilsa wants you to stop selling the shit! We’re here to confiscate it!”
“How did the Guild find out so fast!?” Gazett says, suddenly afraid.
Tallest bows up. “You don’t need to worry about the Guild. You need to worry about the Herd!” he says, shoving his finger into his face. “So listen here Gazett, stop selling this purple shit. You need to beg Gond for forgiveness the next time you see him! Where’s the Manzibar!?”
“I don’t know where the Manzibar is! No one knows where the Manzibar is!” he says.
“Well who would know?” Caeus says.
“I don’t—maybe Botha?” Gazett panics.
“Botha who!?” Tallest says.
“Botha deez nuts!?” Sfiros says.
Caeus leers at Gazett. “If you say botha deez nuts, you will be beheaded!”
“The old wise woman from Kinchasa!” Gazett clarifies.
“Where do you get the purple stuff from?” Sleipnir shouts.
“It’s some contact. I don’t know who it is!” Gazett says.
“Tallest, ask him again!” Sleipnir says.
Tallest shouts, “Listen here, you better tell us what we’re looking for… what are we looking for?”
“Who gave him the purple stuff!” Sleipnir answers.
“Who gave you the purple stuff!?” Tallest says to Gazett.
“I don’t know. He had a symbol!” Gazett says.
“Draw the symbol!” Caeus says.
Gazett scrawls down a symbol—which Sfiros recognizes as the symbol of Tzeentch, one of the chaos god allies of Nurgle and Khorne. Tzeentch is the god of trickery, magic, and conniving plans.
“Listen, if the Guild asks—we beat you up,” Tallest says. “But we’re going to let you go this time. Don’t sell this shit anymore.”
“And if anybody comes and asks you about it, tell them the Herd did it!” Caeus says.
“And we need a hundred gold pieces a piece… for FREE!” Tallest shouts.
“I don’t have that on me!” Gazett says.
“What do you have on you?” Caeus says.
“These drugs!” Gazett says, throwing the vial of it into his face.
Everyone braces for something exciting, but Gazett instead mutters, “I’m invisible!”
Gazett then runs towards the back of the door, thinking that he is invisible. Tallest leaps out to ensnare him, but Gazett manages to slip out of the way and book it out his back door.
“How can you see me!? I’m invisible!” Gazett shouts as he runs off.
“I’ve got invisibility vision!” Tallest shouts after him. “And stay out of Little Calimshan! Okay, we’re going to raid his house now. I want the drugs and the jewels.”
They root around his apartment, finding chump change amounts of money, an empty snuff box, and several little scrawlings of the Tzeentch symbol—carved and cut seemingly out of habit.
“That can’t be good for the walls,” Caeus says, seeing how they’re scratched up, then casts mending on the walls to make them go away.
“Hold on, let me do a rubbing first!” Sfiros says, taking some charcoal and a page from his notebook.
“Okay, rub one out,” Caeus says.
Sfiros uses one of his stupid little clerical lore shit things for Baldur’s Gate to see if he knows anything about this Tzeentchian cult in Baldur’s Gate, realizing that the people who attacked them in the bathhouse were members of the Tzeentchian cult.
“We’ve been fighting a holy war this whole time and didn’t even know it,” Caeus says.
“That’s so exciting!” Sfiros says.
Tallest steals all of this man’s food from his pantry, then hands it out to all of the hungry people he sees outside.
Meanwhile in the Harken plot, the tiefling seeks out Seerdaer, his contact of the Guild, since the minotaurs apparently abandoned him for other side quests and main quests and these “mission” currencies. As expected, Seerdaer’s hovel is a quaint little structure in a well-kept garden with bubbly streams.
The elderly elf pops his head out of the window, notices Harken, then laughs, “You son of a bitch, what brings you back here?”
“Oy, what’s up mate? Just prowling the town with a couple of big boys. How ‘bout you?” Harken says.
“Most of my prowling days are over. What kind of crew are you rolling with now?” Seerdaer says, stepping out.
“Well, some big boys. Minotaurs. Gond and the like.”
“Gond? I never took you for a religious person.”
“They’re convenient folk but, uh, they brought me down here.”
“I can really say too much about what’s going on around here,” Seerdaer says, gesturing around. “It used to be a quiet little area, but not it’s overflowing with people.”
“Yeah, not a big fan of how many people are around here.”
“Eh, from what I hear, they’re doing pretty well behind those walls,” Seerdaer says, pointing at Little Calimshan. “Lots of desperate folks ripe for picking. Surprised someone like you isn’t trying to take advantage of this whole upheaval!”
“Well about that…” Harken mutters. “They’ve kind of taken upon themselves to deputize me.”
Seerdaer’s eyes widen. “No shit! Deputy Harken Beremon?”
Harken shows him the Flaming Fist badge.
“Well you’re not coming into my house!” Seerdaer jests.
“You know I’m fine!” Harken says.
“What gave them that idea?”
“I’m uh… going to be real with you. They must have been outta their fuckin’ minds. I told them I would clean out some cultists.”
“You cleaning out cultists?” Seerdaer says. “Ever since Ravengard disappeared, they’re desperate for anybody.”
“Ravengard? That’s the duke fucker right?” Harken says.
Somewhere, somehow, Caeus hears the words “duke fucker” and proceeds to lose his mind in a laughing fit.
“I know you’re not very politically active” Seerdaer says. “If only I was a little bit younger, I could take good advantage. But it’s pretty quiet here in Norchapel. I like the quiet.”
“Well with Little Calimshan—what do you know about that? I have a bit of a missive that we have to take care of.”
“Oh? I might have a few eyes and ears out that I could make a few requests,” Seerdaer says.
“Hellriders and Manzibar Kreeg,” Harken says.
Seerdaer thinks for a bit. “I saw one of those Hellriders walking around a week ago. Seemed really cognizant and aware—directing the poor, sorting out issues, ensuring people like us wouldn’t come in and swindle some of them. Real solid people, so to say. Definitely much more noble than me and you. From what I heard though, they rolled out to find more stragglers and bring in the last of the bunch, but I’ve been putting my feelers out too and I’ve heard it’s not going too well down there in Calimshan. Kinchasa just disappeared. Just a hole in the ground now.”
“Yeah, ocean that was next to it washed in and filled it up. No more city!”
Harken pauses. “Well shit! I have some mates that might be a little interested in that.”
“If you ask me—that ain’t no natural disaster,” Seerdaer whispers.
“Well I am asking. What do you mean?”
“So far the only person who has really heard of anything happening there was some old crone who grew up in Kinchasa. Says she can see things. She moved here a couple of years ago. Name is Madame Botha, living over in Little Calimshan. She says something appeared above Kinchasa right before it disappeared. Makes me think someone is pulling some strings—someone with a lot more power than this whole damned city’s got combined.”
“Is that fuckin’ so? What about Ravengard?”
“He was heading that way. Maybe he went down with the city.”
“Hrm… tricky tricky. Well mate, anything else you got going on that I can bring back to my boys?”
Seerdaer thinks for a moment, “The Flaming Fist is going to be in flux seeing as who they’re recruiting now to help,” he says, jabbing at Harken. “The three remaining dukes on the Council of Four are going to be bickering about who will take the Grand Duke’s place or if they just need to let the seat stay vacant in case of his return. Other than that… things are pretty decent in my end. Chaos leads to desperation, and desperation leads to easy money for the Guild!”
“As that it does,” Harken says. “Well mate, I’ll be on me way. Need anything from me in the time being?”
“Eh, if any of my guys get picked up by the Flaming Fist—throw a word in and help them out, eh?” Seerdaer jeers.
“Oh you know it, mate. Those dumb fuckin’ Flaming Fist cunts won’t know what hit ‘em.”
“The chicken is running around with its head cut off, so it doesn’t know what to do with its fucked up neck,” Seerdaer agrees.
Back with the Herd, the minotaurs have decided to seek out Rilsa and get their prize for the mission. They return to the jewelers to meet her.
“That was kind of quick,” Rilsa says.
“He didn’t put up much of a fight. We roughed him up a bit and gave his stuff away. But he knows not to sell that stuff anymore,” Tallest says. “He took a big dose of it before he ran off, and he went invisible—but we have invisibility vision.”
“Yeah!” Caeus says.
“You have invisibility vision?” Rilsa says.
“Yes. We can see things that are invisible, but only certain types of invisibility,” Tallest says.
At this point, Tallest might actually think he can do this.
“Okay, well all right—you have invisibility vision,” Rilsa laughs. “It’s nice to know that minotaurs like you are such good diverse people of this society who can show us that there is good to be had in embracing other cultures because you don’t know what great things can be had! Such as invisibility vision.”
Rilsa goes over to the jeweler and purchases five-inch silver rings for Tallest. The merchant returns with the silver bangles, worth 250 gp each. The man slots the rings over Tallest and they fall right into place.
“Looking good!” Caeus says.
“They really accentuate your height by bringing the eyesight all the way up to your horns!” Sfiros says.
“It’s a good reminder that I’m the Tallest!” Tallest says, then turns to Rilsa. “Speaking of your Guild, are there any long-term missions you’re willing to put us on? The more allies the Herd has—the better.”
Rilsa smiles, “If you see any other non-Guild gangs around… just knock them down a peg.”
“You know anything about Tzeentch? We’ve seen a lot of cult stuff about Tzeentch.”
Rilsa’s eyes narrow at hearing that name. “Where?”
“Well, at Gazett’s for one.”
“I… I need to go visit my contacts,” she says and leaves instantly.
“Wait! We need to find Botha!” Tallest says.
“Just look for the oldest woman in town!” Rilsa says before disappearing out the door.
“Great, we’ve got the Tallest. Now we need to find the Oldest,” Sfiros says.
The PC’s then head out, looking for the old bag somewhere. Eventually they find a shanty area with people set up outside. Young people are passing out food and helping the camping elders. Among the youth is an old crone of a woman hobbling around, barking orders, and keeping the assistance flowing at full capacity.
She looks damn near 130 in human years.
“Excuse me ma’am. Botha?” Tallest says.
“Well…” the woman says, turning to him. “I can’t tell who you are, but you have some great hooves and some great knees from what I can see since this old back of mine can’t help me look up to far. But yes, you can call me Botha. What can I call you?”
“You can call me Tallest! But we are very concerned about what’s been going on. What happened to Kinchasa? We heard it disappeared.”
Botha wipes her forehead with a cloth. “That’s what I saw…”
“You were there?” Sfiros says.
“I wasn’t there,” Botha corrects him. “I have visions. I’m a seer. Always have been. I used to work for the Manzibar of Kinchasa.”
“Kreeg?” Sfiros says.
“No, not Kreeg. He was after me,” Botha says.
“What was the previous Manzibar’s name?” Caeus says.
“Oh… I’m old—I don’t remember,” she says.
“You worked for him!” Caeus shouts.
“It’s… I don’t recall. He was… I can’t recall. When you get old like me, you just forget lots of things,” Botha says.
“So in your vision, did it tell you how we can help?” Tallest says.
“I don’t know if there’s much help to be had—except for right here,” she says, ordering another worker to take some water out. She then glances at everyone. “What brings a group of minotaurs from Balder’s Gate to be so concerned with the people of Calimshan.”
Sfiros answers, “We heard there were troubles, so we came here on official Flaming Fist business.”
“Bah,” Botha grunts. “Flaming Fist… there’s a reason we hire our own guard. But you’re not with the Flaming Fist!
“We’re not, but we’re on their business. They’re curious, so we’re curious,” Sfiros says.
“Kinchas is…” Tallest says. “… a place we always wanted to visit—but as minotaurs. And for it to have been destroyed or disappeared is very disheartening.”
“Yeah, people in Kinchasa aren’t cow-racists like they are here,” Caeus says. “Because they use lizards as their beasts of burden, not oxen.”
Botha cackles for a bit. “It’s good to have some fresh faces and knees around here. Come inside! I could take a break. Who wants tea?”
The minotaurs all step in for tea.
“Will they give us visions?” Tallest asks.
“No, just me.”
“Will you give us visions?”
Botha stares at them. “Get inside my house!”
She ushers the minotaurs inside, and they sit around to take their tea. She pours everyone their share.
“Yes for several decades, I plied my trade in Kinchasa,” Botha says. “Typical old wise woman.”
“What was your trade?” Sfiros says.
“I was a typical old wise woman!” Botha barks.
“Fair enough,” Sfiros says.
“Researching, scrying, seeing what I can,” Botha continues. “I even met the heroes of Chult at one point.”
The minotaurs all gasp, showering her with questions. “What were they like? How were they? Was Zanzibar your favorite?”
“Of course I know Zanzibar—he was the son of the Manzibar I served.”
“You know him?” Sfiros says.
“Wait, Zanzibar was the son of the Manzibar?” Caeus says.
“Tell me all about him!” Sfiros says.
“And I thought he was a hero of the people. Isn’t he a rich, spoiled prince?” Caeus says.
“Yes, tell us more about this rich, spoiled prince!” Sfiros urges.
“From what I remember…” Botha mutters. “No one has seen him in quite a good bit!”
“No!” Sfiros says. “Surely he has become very famous and travelled the world as a celebrity!”
“Last we heard, he was desperately on the search for something that was stolen from him,” Botha says.
Everyone gossips about what that could mean. “That’s a disaster!” Sfiros says. “Whichever one it could be, it’s a disaster!”
How does he know so much about Zanzibar?
“What about the other heroes?” Caeus says.
“There’s Valour Stevenson,” Botha mentions. “He returned to Kinchasa for a bit and worked with setting up he Hellriders. He looked a lot different than last time I saw him.”
“You know of the Hellriders? We don’t really care about Valour. Tell us about the Hellriders,” Sfiros says.
“No, tell us about the heroes!” Tallest says.
“Well there was this other one,” Botha continues. “A little blue fellow with a green hat and a flower. He looked like he desperately wanted to lick everything.”
“Yeah, the druid!” Tallest says.
“From what I hear, he stayed in Chult,” Botha says. “I don’t know what he’s doing there, but with Mezro returning, Omu being rebuilt, and Port Nyanzaru reaching back into the jungle, who knows?”
Sfiros gasps, “Mezro came back?”
“Oh yes,” Botha says. “Pretzelcoatl gave it his blessing and returned it—now Chult is reveling in its golden age.”
“What about the orc?” Caeus says.
“Orc? I never met an orc,” Botha says. “I met some gangly fellow with a long nose. The Bagshitter!”
“Oh, what fate befell the Bagshitter?” Caeus says.
“I think someone finally rid this world of our misery of him,” Botha says. “Some literal asshole named McSneakle. I gave him a wonderful gift and he shat in it.”
“Gifts? What kind of gifts do you have?” Tallest says.
“None now. I’ve given them all out!” Botha says.
“What kind of quests do you have then?” Tallest says.
Botha shakes her head at him. “None! What was the other thing you wanted to know about?”
“Hellriders!” they all say.
“Ah, the Hellriders,” Botha says, closing her eyes and thinking. “Long ago in Kinchasan history, the Hellriders were the ones who first vanquished Guga. Led by Zariel, they flushed Guga out of Kinchasa and then chased the devlish demon back into hell—hence the name. Few of them returned after that, and the Hellriders ceased to be. When Valour found out about their lineage and history, he helped reestablish them. They were the original ones who destroyed Guga, and I guess since Valour vanquished Guga’s child, why not sow the seeds of an ancient tradition by reviving valiant knights?”
They all stare at her in awe.
“I’ve got about forty questions based on what you just said,” Sfiros says.
“Am I that NPC now?” Botha says.
“You are right now! Today you are our harbormaster, ma’am!” Sfiros says.
“That’s an old minotaur saying, ma’am,” Caeus elaborates. “The harbormaster is the best for information.”
“Go on, then,” Botha says.
“So number one, what’s a Zariel?” Sfiros says.
“Zariel was the champion of the Hellriders,” Botha says.
“Number two, was Valour in the city when it disappeared?” Sfiros says.
“No, he left after establishing the Hellriders.”
“Where’d he go?” Caeus says.
“I don’t know—probably wandering around the world for quests,” Botha says.
“I thought Quest was his horse!” Caeus says.
“Maybe he’s looking for his horse then!” Botha shouts at him.
“So…” Sfiros recounts. “The Hellriders were an ancient order? How long ago was this Zariel person around?”
“About 300 years ago,” Botha says.
“Did you know her?” Sfiros says.
Botha smacks Sfiros on the head with her cane.
“Don’t mock your elders!” Tallest says.
“Yes, that’s why the Kinchasans all have the pale white eyes. To match Zariel’s!” Botha says, catching the minotaurs’ attention. “She glowed with heavenly light, so much that the gods themselves were to have blessed her. Radiant light shone from her eyes, and the last gift to Kinchasa was the light of her eyes before she descended into the hells to fight the beasts.”
“Glowing white eyes… blessed by the gods…” Sfiros thinks. “What gods do you worship in Kinchasa?”
“Eh, lately? Money,” Botha says. “But there has been a bit of a revival of Pretzelcoatl. A local kobold kept trying to get everyone to worship Tiamat, but nobody cared to follow his advice. Your standards like Tyr and Torm, but in the end… it sounds like it couldn’t save them. I suppose nobody’s worshipping anything there now.”
“Maybe everyone’s just invisible,” Caeus says. “Have you tried looking at them with invisible vision?”
“I have invisible vision!” Botha snaps at him.
“Were there any followers of Guga still?” Sfiros says.
“No, Guga from what I hear has been wiped mostly from the map,” Botha says.
Sfiros opens his journal to the rubbing he took. “How about Tzeentch? Do you recognize this symbol anywhere?”
Botha sneers at it. “Eh, one of the offshoot sloughed afterbirths of Guga—one of his chaotic brothers, sisters, whatever those gods would call themselves. Vanquish one of the chaos gods, and next thing you know, the others move in to reclaim its lost causes. But no, none of them came into Kinchasa. But I have heard rumor that some cultists are attacking people around here in Baldur’s Gate, so I keep an eye out for those symbols in this Little Calimshan area.”
“Well some of those cultists attacked us downtown, and I just took this rubbing from a building in Little Calimshan,” Sfiros says.
“Damn!” Botha mutters, fidgeting with her cane. “I really wish the Hellriders were back right now.”
“Well lately, I’ve been in a mood of missions,” Caeus says.
“What experience do the four of you have in dealing with these chaotic entities?” Botha says.
“We killed a bunch of them, and we take rewards for that, by the way,” Tallest says.
“Yeah we fought some plague monster cultists in an underground city,” Sfiros says.
“Here in Baldur’s Gate?” Botha asks.
They all nod.
“I thought I was rid of underground cults when I left Kinchasa!” Botha says.
“Did you have cultists in there too?” Sfiros says.
“Turns out there was an underground temple to Guga in the city the whole time!” Botha says.
“Wow,” Sfiros says. “What is it with these underground cultists in the introductory parts of adventures?”
Botha fidgets at the back of her head. “To be honest with you, we don’t really trust most people beyond Little Calimshan. We don’t trust the Flaming Fist, especially with their leader missing. We don’t trust the Watch either, but they stay out of here. And a lot of other neighborhoods keep trying to exploit our people here, but there’s something I can see within you four that seems… maybe you’ve got something that others don’t. All I can say is one little last thing.” She closes her eyes and thinks. “This definitely was no incident, what happened in Kinchasa. Something, someone, or some entity put this into motion. The city didn’t just disappear. I had a vision the night it happened…”
“Tell us about your vision,” Caeus says.
Botha leans back and rubs her head while she recalls the imagery. “It was… vengeance that was brought upon the city…”
“For what?” Sfiros says.
“I don’t know—but it took the form of a great, black star…” Botha says.
“A black star?” Caeus says.
“That’s the best kind of star!” Sleipnir says.
“You said something appeared above the city,” Sfiros says. “Is that what it was? A black star?”
“Yes, the black star came down towards Kinchasa, and then it was no more,” Botha says.
“Sounds like aliens,” Sleipnir says assuredly.
“But that’s all I can recall,” Botha says. “I don’t know much about these ancient things to know for sure… but it sounds like Baldur’s Gate is dealing with enough destruction of its own. You keep an eye out for those cultists and make sure they don’t get their sway in, because it only takes a few of their tinder to spark, and chaos will reign.”
“Do you know where to find their leader?” Tallest says. “Cut off the head of this snake?”
“That I don’t know,” Botha says, shaking her head. “I’m doing everything I can to keep things safe within these walls—Baldur’s Gate on the whole is beyond my depth. Now if you don’t mind, I have some business of my own to take care of.”
Botha sees the minotaurs out, then sets about with helping distribute more supplies to her people.
The Herd speaks among themselves, finding out that they might not get much else out of Little Calimshan. They decide to reconnect with Harken and let him know about the information they discovered.
“I hope he’s calmed down,” Sfiros says. “He was being a real jerk earlier.”
“I don’t know why you guys are friends with him,” Tallest says.
“He’s very useful,” Caeus says.
“He’s a thief,” Sfiros says.
“That’s useful!” Caeus says. “And he’s good at talking to people!”
The Herd finds Harken as he’s finished his conversation with Seerdaer, and they exchange the information they discovered on their different information questlines. With the daily job complete, the day has worn on, and as the sun begins to set, they return to Heapside where Captain Bedieve’s office resides.
They step inside and notice the Flaming Fist captain behind her desk.
“Ah, my newest deputy,” she says, looking up. “How go the searches?”
“Well I contacted some of me… contacts…” Harken says. “Kinchasa is fucked, but we’re making some progress you know. One day and all.”
“Good, because I’m going to need the group of you to get a good night’s sleep tonight,” Bedieve says, kicking back. “I’ve had new intel come in from our agents, and we found a bust. We could use you guys to go in there and kick some ass—take what you want and make these cultists scatter.”
“This sounds like our kind of thing, actually,” Sfiros says.
“We’ll need some magic items though,” Tallest says.
Bedieve laughs. “Magic items? With the Grand Duke gone, I can’t get much of anything! Why do you think I’m recruiting civilians?”
“If the duke disappeared, then what you need is someone with invisibility vision!” Tallest says.
“Disregard him,” Harken says. “They uh… we’ll be happy to bust some skulls as it were! Name, place, time—etcetera.”
“Will do,” Bedieve says. “Get some sleep, and we’ll send the briefing to you in the morning.”
Harken stops her. “May I add something to the deal though? How about uh, ten gold a head.”
“I suppose I could deal a stipend,” Bedieve says, getting ten gold pieces for each of them.
“I meant, uh, ten gold for each head we bring back…” Harken says. “But I could go for this!”
Bedieve thinks, then hands the gold out. “How about we just let you keep whatever you find down there?”
Harken shrugs and accepts the deal, then the Herd returns back to the workshop. Having spent this whole session learning and investigating, it’s time for a session of just busting some bad guys, taking their shit, and gaining their XP!