22nd November (contd.)
The PCs meet up with Brave Ella and head back to the Old Quarter. Saethus goes inside the Marjani Minar, the tower of the Esoteric Order of the Blue Lotus, to research the Shadow Road ritual in the library. Unable to go in with him, the others adjourn to the Kirin’s Rest, a nearby pub inhabited by off-duty wizards and students of the arcane arts. There, they get into conversation with Kordillian, the tavern’s resident alehouse drake, bribing him with beer and pork scratchings. The little creature seems to know a fair bit about the Shadow Road and tells the PCs of a fey called the Sluagh. Meanwhile, Saethus has been chatting to the attractive Sahasran mantrika Jivanta who tells him about the Lych Gate and offers to get him an audience with Tapasranjan, the Master of Southern Magic and current Grand Master of the Order. Back in the pub, Krivinn upsets Kordillian – the drake responds with his discombobulating touch, causing the paladin to forget why he was in the pub in the first place and wander outside. When he comes back in, clearly confused, he mistakes Kordillian for a fearsome dragon and draws his axe. This uncouth behaviour gets him barred.
The PCs return home and get a good night’s sleep, although they share a dream of a shadow fey tailor measuring up Saethus for a new outfit.
Saethus finds a suit of +3 bloodthread cloth armour waiting for him in the apartment’s living area, presumably left by the mysterious tailor. The PCs travel to the Poor Ward, asking Captain Saurish where they can find the Lych Gate. The gate is now part of the wall between the Poor Ward and the Dock Ward, but is marked with fey symbols and clearly dates back to the days when Parsantium was Dhak Janjua. The PCs are able to activate the gate and get it to reveal the secrets of the Shadow Road ritual and to give a glimpse of the sluagh. The party buy some pig’s knuckles from a half-orc butcher to bribe the fey.
In the Dock Ward, the PCs track down the sluagh in his burned out home after visiting Brother Jerome at St Caspieran’s Salvation for directions. Krivinn stomps into the building and puts his feet through the crumbling floorboards. He manages to extricate himself and the PCs talk to Knuckletooth the sluagh, a wretched-looking fey creature. Khuma trades his memory of his death in the Hippodrome at the hands of the Grizzly in exchange for missing details on the ritual and where it must be performed – the Old Docks pier where the thuggee assassin Jagadish killed Ashna.
Saethus returns to the Marjani Minar to see Tapasranjan. The Grand Master turns out to be a vanara – a monkey-like humanoid. He gives Saethus the last detail of the ritual – a spinning lantern is a key component – and also lends the wizard a ring of shadow travel to aid them on their quest.
At sunset, the PCs head down to the Old Docks to perform the ritual. They spot Hidden Ambassador Thelamandrine and his goblin servant out for a stroll along the quayside, presumably not a coincidence. Getting into a rowing boat, Sebastian rows the PCs out into the Dolphin Strait as Khuma spins the lantern, pulling it in and out of a velvet bag, and Saethus performs the necessary elven chanting. The gate to the Shadowfell opens and the party pass through, finding themselves on the misty Shadow Road.
A short while later, the road takes the PCs into a dark forest where they are attacked by forest marauders and shadow haunts. The shadow creatures slide and push the PCs into 40 foot deep spiked pits – at one point, Ella, Khuma and Sebastian are all at the bottom of one of these pits. Eventually, the monsters are defeated but the gloomy surroundings start to prey on the PCs’ minds…..