After being told they would be escorting their superior officer, Lord Barrister Lucas Von Frownley, to Burz for the Đåksgiving Day Parade as bodyguards, Daa Smith, Daken, Jimmy Black, Juan Draper, Lucifer Sanchez and Ursula had concerns that this might not be an official mission. As it turned out, they were right.
Frownley had them running around meeting with some shady characters around Burz. After being attacked by what seemed to be simple thugs, the group escorted Frownley to the Crippled Donkey Inn to meet with one last informant. He and Frownley met in a private room while the group stood guard outside the door. Juan kept his ear to the door but couldn’t make out much, until Frownley called for Lucifer to come into the room and close the door. He entered but refused to close the door, at which point it shut on its own and the short man suggested that Lucifer end Frownley‘s life. While the thought had crossed Lucifer’s mind—and even been suggested by him earlier—his actions were not his own, and—like a puppet—he was forced to kill his commanding officer. The short man shed his skin and a serpentine form made of shadow slipped out of the open window behind him, while the skin on the floor flaked and peeled, only to fade away a few moments later.
After taking the a bag of gold that was left in the room, as well as Frownley‘s necklace, Lucifer let the rest of the group into the room. From the window, Juan and Jimmy spotted the short man (human skin and all) making his escape down the side streets behind the inn. Jumping, climbing, and/or falling from the window, the group gathered in the ally, fixed Ursula’s newly broken jaw, and set about tracking down the sinister snake.
Their chase led them to a basement that had a drain into the sewers of the city, down some stinky sewer tunnel, and through a secret door. After following the steps on the other side of the door, they found themselves in a vast under-city, populated by crumpling ziggurats and stone towers, waterfalls made from sewage above, and a thick, sticky slime all over the floor. Thanks to the slime, tracking was simple, but there was also evidence of other things having moved about down here, some of which seemed very big.
It was a five-headed alligator covered in fungus that gave the group their first taste of the dangers of the ancient Hethish ruins, but solid teamwork and a few devastating swings of Daa‘s chain put the creature down just long enough for Lucifer to cut it open and rip out its spine. Both Daken and Ursula took some large eggs they found in the creature’s home. After crossing a large slime filled gap, the group found a ruined ziggurat that was home to a floating, pulsing boulder. On a nearby throne was the cloak worn by the man they had been chasing, and on the floor in a puddle of melted gold and a triangle of fine silvery dust was a gem given to Frownley by one of his informants just before they were attacked by thugs.
Daken put on the cloak, most of the group shifted about nervously, and Juan casually placed the gem into a small hole in the side of the boulder. An intense heat filled the room as Juan was frozen in place and everyone’s attempts to move him failed. As his flesh started to blister, there was a flash of heat and blinding red light and he was thrown across the room, his arm a burnt ruin, and his clothes and hair gone, clinging to life with raspy, shallow breaths.
Daa‘s curiosity got the better of him as he then picked up the gem, ready to give it a try. Armed with the cloak Daken had found, Daa placed the gem into the boulder. It wasn’t long before everyone realized the mistake they had made and started to step back. It was over in a few seconds, his body bursting into a fine silvery powder, the cloak he was wearing gently floating away to land where they found it on the throne.
Taking the gear Daa had removed, the group led a blinded Juan from the under-city, and using the sewers they made their way to the city limits to try to flee. As they left the sewers Ursula‘s egg began to shift and squirm. Worried it might hatch and give them trouble, she tossed it into the sewers. After a day or so, Daken started to feel very cold and soon realized the cloak from the throne was cursed. After catching up with the traveling parade from the celebration in Burz and bartering services with a cleric, Daken was able to have the curse lifted. To everyone’s astonishment, Daa—naked as the day he was born and with blank, milky-white eyes—walked into town the following day as the parade was getting ready to move on.