Assault on The Lotus Dragons
The party were stranded on Parrot Island, their boat stolen, and with three tempting chests full of what they hoped was loot still in the dungeons beneath them. They managed to flag down a passing barge from the dwarf-run Dredger's Guild, and get passage to the Azure District. There, the first stop was the Temple of the sea god Protius, to retrieve some potions of swimming to make the recovery of the chests easier. The potion was readily available, along with the news that the old harbourmaster they had met a few days previously, Keltar Islaran, had been found 'assassinated. Returning to Parrot Island, the party carefully recovered the chests, finding them full of coins, potions, and some other interesting magical miscellany.
The note found on the dead body of Penkus the Smuggler had implicated Vanthus Vanderboren in imprisoning him on the island, and being involved in a group known as the Lotus Dragons - with a base of operations somewhere underneath the Taxidermist's Guildhall with 'the Lady of the Lotus'. With stops for purchasing equipment, and a new pet wolf, the party set about planning their next moves. Having told Lavinia of their suspicions about just how far Vanthus had fallen, the young noblewoman steeled her resolve and asked them to do what they could to bring her wayward brother home... by force if necessary.
The party examined the areas near the Taxidermists Guild in the Sunrise district; stopping by the local temple of the sun god Ixion to try and arrange for assistance should it be needed. The Taxidermist's Guildhall was located in Dead Dog Plaza, a residential district built around a triangular plaza with a well in the middle. It was noted that the well seemed to open up into a larger chamber below the plaza, 30 feet below.
The guildhall itself was run by Nemien Roblach, a flamboyant exotic human, who was taken in by the party's ruse to commission a specialist piece of work from an upcoming hunting trip. They arranged to deliver the specimen later that night, and try and force their way into the guild if necessary. Hidden under a tarp-covered wagon, the party waited for Nemien to unlock his workshop, at which point they leapt out and tried to subdue the taxidermist. A skilled illusionist, the taxidermist, went invisible, but finding his exits blocked, tried various other illusions to distract the party and get them to leave. After nothing worked, he reappeared to cast another more attacking spell, only to be injured and forced to surrender. He revealed the guildhall was used as a front for the Lotus Dragon;s thieves guild, who could be found past a trapdoor behind a secret door. Leaving him bound and gagged in the attic, the party went downstairs to explore
A ladder led down into an underground complex, damp and stuffy, but largely made of worked stone. Through a door, they found the thieves den on alert, as poisoned crossbow bolts flew out from behind an upturned table. An empty barracks led them south to the mess hall and kitchens, where the resident kobold cook and poisonmaker had rigged a cauldron of boiling urchin poison to spray the door of any who entered. The kobold, a timid female named Churtle, offered little other resistance, informing the party that her 'mistress', could be found to the east past the training room.
The training room was lined with dummies that a keen eye spotted were in fact disguised members of the guild, who sprung out of hiding to attack. This chamber led to two other guard rooms - one holding another Rhagodessa spider, and the other an undead bugbear zombie. Between these guards was a room lined with a map of the city, coloured pins stuck in various buildings - most notably from the locations the party knew - a red pin in the harbourmaster's office, a gold pin in the Vanderboren estate, and a blue pin in the temple of Austerius. Written on a slate board on the wall were messages in a script the party could not read, and the PC's names with the note - 'Vanthus - sort this now!'.
Beyond this room, the furnishing decor were remarkably improved - freshly plastered and painted walls, silk drapes, and thick rugs. Here waited the stunningly beautiful 'Lady of the Lotus', with two nasty-looking pet small dragons - recognised by the elven party members to be crested felldrakes - normally a gentle guardian bred especially by elven sages. The Lady had an offer - perhaps the party would consider replacing the less efficient men they had killed and work for her. The offer was abruptly refused, and as the Lady tried to escape by turning into a cloud of vapour, the party managed to use enough magical means to strike her down. The Lady of the Lotus was no more.
Heavily wounded, the party then looked to rest up in the lavish bedroom. Then, a secret door to the probable treasure room was found - but sadly the trap that covered the hidden passage and the bedroom was not. Poisoned darts flew out from the walls, peppering the party. A second trap was more carefully dealt with, and the treasure vault was summarily ransacked. Meanwhile, a series of love letters to from Vanthus to the 'Lady' - named Rowyn - were found. In these Vanthus, boasted of killing his parent's in the staged boat fire, moaned about his sister undeserving of her inheritance, detailed his theft of the Vanderboren fortune from the Sasserine vaults, and hinted that he was currently en route to Kraken's Cove with Brissa Santos to try and con some pirates out of their goods, potentially burning their ship and recovering the items from the sea bed.
The party rested for the night behind some secured doors, hoping to recover enough strength to escape in the morning. As they then sought to leave, they found the dead body of Churtle, spread-eagled and eyes burnt out on the training room floor. The ladder up to the trapdoor had been removed, and the trapdoor weighted down from above. The party then looked at other means of escape...
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