While Mikal and Pythas worked in the Cannith workshop recasting the brass key, Dulinamin, Berend, and Ashen have been making discrete inquiries around the city as to the identity of the mysterious “Modra.” While they have not been able to ascertain who Modra actually is, they do know that he’s been in the city several times over the last several weeks. Modra is not a character to be trifled with, and it becomes clear that whatever Modra is up to, it is nothing good.
Having rejoined with Pythas and Mikal at dusk, the party decides to visit the nearest tavern for some dinner and drinks. While Ashen remains outside the tavern to keep watch, Berend and Dulinamin related to the others what their inquiries have revealed about Modra.
The party exits the tavern shortly after the seventh bell as the sun dips below the mountains in the distance, casting the landscape into blue-grey shadow.
Berend Stonekeeper: Ah, the beauty of a mountain sunset
Mikal d’Cannith: So, now what? Its pretty late.
Ashen: I propose we make good use of this darkness to garner more information about our friend Modra.
Mikal d’Cannith: So you want to pursue the shadow-powered being during the night when we are at the greatest disadvantage? Oh, and a sneaky, cunning being, as well.
Ashen: I did not say that we pursue him, I purely meant to gather information so that we may be prepared should it come to that.
The party visits a few of the seedier taverns and ale houses in the city, trying to blend in, asking questions about Modra. It seems as if no one had heard of Modra, until they finally overhear one drunk patron’s slurred declaration. “Yah, that Modra bloke, he’s in a heap of trouble, I reckon,” the drunk exclaims. “ Ain’t seem ‘im since b’fore the raid on Bordrin’s Watch. I ‘eard he’s been on the run since then. Think he screwed up some job or other.”
Out in the city, Dulinamin attempts to intimidate some information out of a local fish merchant. When the man instead yells for help from the Watch, the party is left racing down the street, scrambling to disappear into the crowds. Pythas decides to try a more diplomatic tactic, and approaches a shady-looking thug on the side of the road.
Pythas: I have a business proposition for a guy named Modra. It would be highly lucrative. I’ve heard he has a certain panache for these types of things.
Shifty-looking Bugger: Ya did now, yeah? Well, I ain’t seen him. Not in weeks. Heard he pissed off someone real nice like, see? If I had t’guess, I’d say it’s the boss man. No, no, don’t bother. I can see it in yer face. I dunno who he is. Just know that Modra ain’t the one callin’ the shots. He’s just the front man for the arms dealing in the city. No one knows who the boss man is, see, no one, but rumor says the operation is bigger than anyone in Overlook will ever know. Now get the hells outta here!”
Pythas manages to pick the pocket of a passing messenger, relieving him of a rolled parchment. While it doesn’t specifically mention Modra, the information within is intriguing nonetheless. “The threat of the orcs might be ended after the siege of Bordrin’s Watch,” the parchement reads, “but word from the frontier is there’s more trouble on the march. Just like Tusk’s clan, the rabble of the mountains are getting their hands on good-grade weapons and armor, and they’re looking to use it."
Attempting to bluff their way into meeting Modra, they are again rebuffed by uncooperative scoundrels. “Aye, I know who ye mean, sure ‘nuff,” replies one such low-life, “but look. You get all races ’ere in the city, but them dark ones that come through ’ere? Keep to themselves mostly. More often than not, those that y’do see on the streets be in the company of Lost Ones bodyguards and enforcers, and trust me, ye wanna steer clear of that lot.”
Pythas: What’s a Lost One?
Ashen: I have no idea, but I intend to find out.
Mikal d’Cannith: Listen, why don’t we call it a night. Since this guy deals in weapons, I am sure my family knows some people. We’ll go find them and pick this up tomorrow morning.
It is going on midnight when the party decides to call it a night. As they walk down the street heading back toward the Cannith enclave, they are approached by a women wearing brown leather beneath a green cloak. A longbow is slung across her chest.
Mysterious Woman (quietly): I’ve heard word that there’s a group in the city looking for someone named Modra. I’m doing the same, though I doubt it’s for the same reasons. Perhaps we should compare notes.
Ashen: I believe you have the wrong group.
Woman laughs softly at the warforged.
Woman: I do not think so, warforged. I have been following you all day.
Ashen places his hand on his sword.
Berend Stonekeeper places his hand on Ashen’s sword arm
Berend Stonekeeper: Wait.
Mikal d’Cannith just looks sadly at rest of group, then back at the woman.
Mikal d’Cannith: Who are you, lady?
Pythas: Why don’t you start with your name and affiliations?
Woman: My name is Reniss. Are you familiar with The Farstriders? My sister Jen traveled with them.
Mikal d’Cannith: Ah, the unlucky fellows.
Berend Stonekeeper: Oh… she didn’t make it.
Reniss (pales): What? What do you mean?
Mikal d’Cannith sighs
Mikal d’Cannith: Come on, you’ll need a drink to brace yourself.
Returning to the Cannith enclave, the party sits around the table with a mug of ale and a slice of sweet bread, and prepare to tell their new acquaintance the fate of her sister. Reniss sits at the table expectantly , unshed tears glittering in her eyes.
Mikal d’Cannith: Your sister, and her companions, all died attempting to secure the Nexus below Bordrin’s Pass.
Reniss closes her eyes in grief, a lone tear tracing down her cheek.
Reniss: Thank you for telling me this. I feared the worst when I did not hear from her last week. She told me the Farstriders were going to help Bordrin’s Watch by completing some mission beneath the fort, only she didn’t say what it was they were doing. Only that those damned orcs were involved.
Berend Stonekeeper: If it is any comfort, she died well, defending her companions.
Reniss nods, looking grateful.
Reniss: I take comfort in knowing that she died on her feet, and not ravaged by those creatures. So, you too seek Modra? Why?
Ashen: I suppose we cannot deny it as you have been stalking us all day.
Reniss: Well truthfully, it was not ALL day. I heard that someone was asking questions about Modra, so I kept an eye out. You lot are kind of hard to miss.
Mikal d’Cannith sighs, and looks at the rest of the party, favoring Berend and Ashen with a stern glare.
Reniss: Look, I’m not trying to interfere with your investigation. I am sure you have your reasons, just as I have mine. I believe he may have been involved somehow in Jen’s death.
Berend Stonekeeper: So you must have suspected she was dead already.
Reniss: Almost a week and a half ago, I received a message from Jen. She always carried a sending stone with her, so it must have been the only way she could get the message out. But the message was but a single word… “Modra.” I never heard from her after that. I can only assume that she sent the message with her last breath.
Berend Stonekeeper: And so you have been seeking him out ever since then.
Ashen: You have asked us why we seek Modra, but I must ask, why do you seek him? It seems curious to me that you have sought us out as to why we are seeking him. It is almost as if you wish to know what we have learned, so that you may tell this information to Modra at a later date. You will forgive my skepticism, of course, it is my job to be skeptical.
Reniss nods at Ashen.
Reniss: I understand your suspicion, warforged. However, as I have been following you for most of the day, I have already heard what you have learned, so I hardly have anything I can turn over to Modra, now do I? I do, however, have a piece of information that you do not, if you would like to hear it?
Reniss arches an eyebrow.
Mikal d’Cannith: No, not really.
Berend Stonekeeper glares at Mikal.
Mikal d’Cannith shrugs and waves off Berend.
Berend Stonekeeper: Place your cards on the table and we shall see if it is of aid to us.
Reniss: I met a dark creeper close to death in the Clean Sheets, looking like he’d been in the fight to end them all. He said he’d been working for this Modra when it happened. For a quart of bad beer, he told me that if I was looking for Modra, I’d better be fast. Someone else is hunting him— someone looking to kill him. The creeper didn’t know where Modra was, but he’d heard him talk about some Tradetown almshouse called the Happy Beggar.
Ashen: Interesting. Perhaps we should head there first thing on the morrow.
Reniss (nodding): I will accompany you. They will have closed for the evening, of course, so going there tomorrow would be the best move.
Mikal d’Cannith: IF we are going looking for trouble, we should restock before doing so.
Pythas: What can you tell us about these, “Lost Ones”?
Reniss: The Lost Ones? Right nasty lot. Thieves and murderers the lot of them. They got their fingers in a lot of pies in Overlook, mostly strong-arming merchants for protection money, but they also tend to hire themselves off as bodyguards and enforcers. Why, how do you know about them?
Ashen: We learned about them while asking about Modra. It appears they might be connected.
Pythas: Aye, we’ve heard that Dark Ones are rarely seen in public without Lost Ones.
Reniss: Yes, Modra often uses some of the Lost Ones as bodyguards. In fact, if you ever see him out int he city, he’s always got a band of those thugs with him. Look, it is late, and I am exhausted from following you around all day. I would like to accompany you to the Happy Beggar. What time should I rejoin you?
Mikal d’Cannith: Afternoon at the earliest. We need to restock our supplies.
Reniss: Agreed. I will meet you at the entrance to the Tradetown district at, shall we say, 3 bells?
The party nods their agreement as Reniss stands and gathers her gear.
Reniss: I am glad I met you, and again, thank you for telling me about Jen. Not knowing what happened to her was making me a little mad, to be honest. Now I can mourn. Until tomorrow, good night.
Reniss smiles in farewell, and leaves.
Sar, 28th of Eyre, 998 YK
The following morning, the party leaves the enclave to attend to errands in the city, specifically restocking their depleted stores after all their adventures the last few days. The day is warm, but it is pouring rain. The adventurers slog though ankle deep puddles to visit several shops to acquire gear needed to replace what was lost in while in the Nexus and the subsequent battle at Bordrin’s Watch. Shortly before the third bell, the party makes their way to the Tradetown district.
Reniss greets them as they approach.
Reniss: You ready? Truthfully, I don’t really know where this place is. We’ll have to ask for some directions.
Reniss leads the way into the Tradetown district, where they have no trouble getting directions to the Happy Beggar, though they get several strange looks when they ask. “The kind of place you want to stay if you find group reading of Dol Arrah’s scriptures an entertaining evening,” is one description they get. However, the sign above the door of a single-story hovel—a stooped and tattered mendicant with a broad grin—indicates that they’ve found the place.
Reniss: Hmmm… quaint.
Ashen: Perhaps instead of marveling at how quaint it is, we should enter instead?
Reniss leads the way into the building. The atmosphere inside the Beggar is as dingy as the whitewash on the outside walls. A plain common room sits two dozen miserable-looking patrons, most asleep in their chairs or sipping at cracked mugs. A few appear to be doubling as volunteer staff, carrying steaming teapots from table to table. Behind what would be a bar in any other establishment, a dour-looking human woman in white robes boils water at a wood stove. A similarly attired male limps up a flight of stairs across the room, greeting the party as they enter. “Greetings and welcome. You are just in time for tea and songs of devotion. Please, join us!”
Reniss looks at everyone else.
Ashen: Perhaps we have come to the wrong place?
Reniss: No, I don’t think so. This is the place. This must be why that lady who gave us directions seemed a bit incredulous.
The man bustles up to you, a broad grin on his face.
Preshant: Greetings, brothers and sisters! I am Preshant, and welcome to the Happy Beggar. Please, come in and join us. My wife Ausma makes the best cup of tea in the city! Please, have a seat. I will bring your tea right away.
Preshant leads you to a small table.
Ashen: I am afraid I cannot try your wife’s tea as I have no need for liquid.
Pythas: Is tea the strongest thing you have?
Preshant stares at Pythas.
Pythas: We have a dwarf…
Pythas points at Berrand.
Preshant: Of course, brother. Ale is the seed of sin, and leads to damnation.
Ashen: Perhaps you did not hear me? I have stated that we do not want tea.
Preshant looks startled at the warforged’s rudeness.
Preshant: Of course, if you do not wish tea, you do not need to have tea. But please, enjoy your stay anyway.
Pythas: Maybe we do want tea, Ashen. I’ll try a cup of your finest.
Ashen: Fine, very well, if you want to drink tea then go ahead.
Berend Stonekeeper: Sure, it can’t kill you to drink a little cough tea cough, cough What kind of place is this, anyway?
Meanwhile, while the others have Preshant distracted, Mikal peeks into a side room, then tries to slip into the room unnoticed. However, it is as if Preshant has eyes on the back of his head, and quickly stops Mikal from going down the stairs.
Preshant: Excuse me, lad. Please rejoin your friends. There’s nothing down there but storage, and it’s not very well lit at the moment. I would not wish for you to come to harm on those stairs.
Mikal d’Cannith: Really? I can fix them for you.
Preshant waves off Mikal.
Preshant: No, no, that’s quite all right. It’s enough light for me to see, since I know it so well. Please, just enjoy your tea.
Preshant (to Berend): To answer your question, we are an almshouse. We serve tea and service to followers of Dol Arrah. We welcome all.
Berend Stonekeeper: Well that makes sense. So what can we do to help?
Pythas: Excuse me, Sir, do you have a washroom? I really do need to clean up a bit.
Preshant: Indoors? What do you think this is, Sharn? Our privy is behind the building.
Berend Stonekeeper puts his hand on Preshant’s back and gently steers him toward the bar.
Berend Stonekeeper: So what is it you do here?
Preshant: I own this place. And as I mentioned, I serve tea and offer services to the faithful. It is a very fulfilling calling. My days of adventure are long since past me, of course, so I find this fills the void.
Berend Stonekeeper: So you were an adventurer? We have that in common.
Preshant: Aye, my wife and I were paladins for adventuring groups several years ago. When we met, we fell in love at first sight. When we had our fill of the adventuring life, we decided to open this almshouse and share our faith.
Berend Stonekeeper: So… Preshant, we are looking for a man named Modra, and our information led us here. Have you ever heard of someone by that name?
Preshant (shaking his head): Sorry, can’t say I know the name.
While Berend distracts Preshant in conversation, the others remain seated. A cough from a nearby table catches their attention. Alone in a rickety chair sits a hunched form in a tattered cloak watching the goings-on with interest. When he sees that he’s caught their attention, the old man smiles. He appears to be human or half-elf, but his face is deeply scarred by the ravages of disease. He coughs wetly into a grimy handkerchief and beckons for the party to join him.
Ashen, Dulinamin, and Reniss join the old man, while Mikal and Pythas attempt to get into the other rooms. Preshant’s wife, Ausma, catches Mikal on the stairs, and scolds him, sending him back to rejoin the others. Pythas, however, remains undetected, and descends the stairs.
Ashen: What is it that you perchance want?
The old man laughs.
Old Man: Oh, you’re a right smart mouth one, aincha! Name’s Brenant, and I was curious t’see so many adventurers types here in the Happy Beggar. So you musta seen some action, I reckon! Armor don’t ding up like that less’n you been in the fight, am I right? Ha!
Reniss eyes the strange old man.
Ashen: Yes you are right, if that is all you desire then I will leave you to your curiosity.
Brenant: No, no, don’t be that way. I was just curious, is all. Although… I may be an old man, see, but me ears still work pretty good! And I done heard yer friend over there…
Brenant points at Berend at the bar.
Brenant: …mention someone by the name of Modra.
Ashen looks at him suspiciously.
Ashen: Yes? Perhaps he did.
Brenant: Well, just so happens, I knows the one he means. That’s all.
Ashen: Perhaps you would be inclined to tell us what you know?
Ashen dips his hand into his pocket and pulls out some gold coins.
Brenant: Bah, keep yer money, metal man. If’n I had the gold, I would be a pretty poor beggar, am I right? Ha! Seriously, though, yah, I know this Modra. A dark creeper, and none as dark as him, or so I heard. Time was, he used the Happy Beggar as a meeting place, but I reckon he ain’t been here in more than two years. Ha ha, I ran the bastard off meself once, see. I might not look it, but I fought dark creepers in the mountains as a younger man, sellsword to a dozen lords.
Brenant leaves off as a bout of coughing takes over. When he catches his breath, he continues.
Brenant: Much as yourselves, I’d wager. Adventurers all have their price, eh?
Reniss scowls, but says nothing.
Ashen: Not all adventurers.
Brenant smirks knowingly.
Brenant: Mayhaps not.
Dulinamin: What can you tell us about Modra? Any habits we should know of?
Brenant: Just that he’s got his hands in a lot of the criminal dealings going on in the city. If there’s something going on, chances are, Modra’s behind it, or knows who is, at least. If you’re looking for black market goods… and of course you ain’t, but if’n you was… then he’d be the one to see. I heard he can get almost anything… for the right price.
Ashen: Indeed? Mayhaps you know where we can find this Modra now?
Brenant (shrugs): Didn’t you hear me? I done told ya already, he ain’t been seen here in at least a couple years or more. For all anyone knows, he could be dead, and his organization is being run in his name by some upstart. If he IS still alive, well…
As Brenant stands, Pythas rejoins the groups unnoticed, pausing only to share a brief nod with Mikal.
Brenant: Well, it was a nice chat, y’all, but I got to get myself out of here before they start their prayers. The tea is at least tolerable. The prayers, not so much. But before I go, let me give ya some advise. If you’re looking for this Modra chap, wherever you find him, heed me. He’s a black-hearted one. Make no mistake and strike no bargains with him. Kill him quickly before he gets the chance to return the favor.
Brenant smiles broadly, then turns to leave, walking out the door as he violently coughs in to a filthy rag.
Ashen turns to the others.
Ashen: Did you find anything while we were talking?
Before they can respond, Preshant returns.
Preshant: Lads, we’ll be beginning prayers in just a few minutes, if you’d like to take your seats.
Reniss (whispers): I don’t know about you lot, but I am not sticking around for prayers.
Reniss (stands): I thank you for your hospitality, Preshant, but I am afraid I must be going. I need to meet with a buyer for my horse, so…
Preshant (smiles): Of course, lass, I understand. I do hope you’ll visit us again soon.
Reniss looks at you meaningfully, making a small gesture toward the door with her head.
Ashen: I shall leave you to your prayers Preshant, I must leave you.
Berend Stonekeeper: Well thank you for your hospitality and when I’m in town again perhaps I’ll stop by for a further visit.
Preshant looks crestfallen.
Preshant: Oh, I see. I do hope you’ll join us again. Oh bother, I am late starting the prayers. Good day, lads.
Preshant rushes off to the front of the room, opening a small book as he faces the remaining patrons of the almshouse and begins to drone on about Dol Arrah.
Outside the almshouse, the party gathers around Pythas.
Reniss: So you managed to get into the basement unseen. Did you find anything? Was my source correct?
Pythas: There’s a small, narrow hallway in the back. It has a secret door at the end.
Ashen: A secret door?
Berend Stonekeeper: Where there’s a secret door, there’s a secret.
Reniss: Really? Hmm…
Pythas: The door leads to another hallway that doglegs and continues. I’d bet Mordas or his operation is back there.
Ashen: Very well, then. We shall re-enter this establishment and charge for that door!
Reniss: Are you mad, warforged?
Mikal d’Cannith: Probably.
Reniss: These are peaceable people, and you intend to raise a ruckus in their establishment? They would have the guards on us in moments, and rightly so.
Ashen: I did not say when, I merely said that we shall.
Berend Stonekeeper: Or we could ask them about it. If they wish to hide the operation, they will not call the guards. If they are paladins like they claim and have no knowledge of the operation, they will not call the guards.
Pythas: I’d say we should go in under cover of darkness. I can easily take care of a lock.
Reniss: As much as I hate to admit it, you are likely correct. Breaking in after the almshouse has closed would be smarter.
Reniss looks at the door and gasps.
Reniss: And look!
Reniss points at a placard next to the door.
Reniss: They are closed on Sul’s, which is tomorrow!
Ashen: Then tomorrow is when we strike.
Reniss: Well, no.
Reniss: Breaking in under darkness is still the wisest course of action. I merely meant that they will not discover the break in until Mol.
Ashen: So tonight then? Yes, that would be the best course of action.
Reniss: Unfortunately, I can not join you.
Reniss: I had hoped we’d be able to find out something this afternoon, easily. But I turned up some information that I need to look into, pertaining to my sister and her fate. I must look into it tonight, or lose my only lead.
Ashen: I see. I cannot begrudge you closure.
Reniss: If I can complete my business before midnight, I will try and join you, but I do not know how long my errand will take.
Reniss looks around.
Reniss: Look, I have to get going, so I’ll say farewell for now. I would suggest laying low for the rest of the day, somewhere outside of Tradetown. Then hit the almshouse at midnight.
Berend Stonekeeper: Fare thee well, and may the gods watch over you on your errand.
Reniss bows slightly.
Reniss: If I can not join you, I wish you luck. Farewell!
Reniss dashes off and is quickly lost to the crowds.