- 1 Orange is the new Suck
- 2 Whip it Good
- 3 The Art of the Deal
- 4 The Mighty Dorks: A Sportsball Film
- 5 A Bug's Life
- 6 The Princess is in another Castle
- 7 Assassin Greed
- 8 Duel Shock
- 9 Prison Break
- 10 Seraphina's Sewage Surprise
- 11 Bodak Yellow
- 12 Murder Hobos
- 13 House of Exposition
- 14 Royal Backdoor (aka Tomb of Horrors Lite)
- 15 Wedding Crashers
- 16 Landed in Westmarch
Orange is the new Suck
The Act 2 opens up roughly 6 months after the Siege of Fairhaven. The Protagonists have been interned in the Barren Cliffs Refugee Camp that has been built near Koda City along with the other Fairhaven refugees.
During their stay there Harlan Underford and Rando DeButt have created an underground smuggling and hustling network known as the Cousins. They have managed to establish contacts on the outside of the camp, and devised a way to pass messages as well as contraband in and out of the city. Harlan's work duty was in the Loundry which gave him access to certain tools and chemicals.
Zorry Feathermoon has been secretly working as the Camp healer, and growing various medicinal herbs and fungi, while at the same time hiding her magical powers from the camp authorities. Her tent-mate Seraphina Goodbarrel turned out to be another magic user on the down-low and the two became fast friends. Together they expanded their operation and have gained many supporters among the prisoners. Since they both had work duty in the kitchens, and Zorry was able to produce food and water via magical means, they became an important source of nutrition. Many inmates were grateful for her help and offered their services and skills in various areas. Some helped with distribution, while others like Torban worked as security detail. The group was very secretive and protective of their healer and had no official name, but some started referring to it as Followers of Feathermoon. The group was not affiliated with the Cousins but had friendly relations with them especially since Rando was trying to convince Zorry to use her alchemical knowledge to improve the Cousins alcochol brewing operation.
Bilbido Tastyflute had a work duty in the wood shop where he spent time making flutes and other contraband for the cousins. Same goes for Takklinn Thunderbottom who provided the Cousins with shivs and other makeshift tools when he was not working in the stone quarry.
On the other side of the camp, a barbarian named Gazzpatcho Talbot was using the survival skills he learned during his long hermitage in Westmarch woods to help refugees mend wounds and heal minor illness with help from his best friend Trevor Corey.
The conditions in the Barren Cliffs have been harsh and unforgiving. The prisoners are worked hard, and kept malnourished. Any individuals of high status (nobles, political leaders, etc..) or mystical power (mages, clerics, etc..) have been separated from general population and either transferred offsite, executed or worked to exhaustion in the quarries.
Whip it Good
The life in the camp is interrupted when Garrison Commander Asor Er'Hanu (more commonly known as Mr. Garrison) calls for an unexpected assembly. It turns out that one of the prisoners, Tassan Rylo was found in possession of contraband: a custom made shiv, likely made by Takklin or one of the few other crafters in the camp. Tassan is publicly tortured and whipped by Paldeen Er'Awitar while the entire population of the camp is forced to watch.
When the inmates react with cries and jeers, twenty of them are punished by being dug into the sand up to their necks and left outside for the night.
Afterwards, the heroes visit Tassan and Zorry helps to heal and tend to his wounds. Harlan tries to find out who snitched but ends up with no reliable leads. Seraphina flirts with guard Esho Er'Wardo in order to secure a potential ally who will turn a blind eye to minor infractions or provide her with intel.
In the meantime Gazzpatcho tries to secure alcohol for Trevor Cory's midnight rave. He manages to locate a prisoner named Johann Lahey who appears to be a minor distributor from Block F.
The Art of the Deal
Ikky the Imp materializes in the temp of Zorry Feathermoon with updated paperwork. He laments her position and the way it impacts his side of the deal they were supposed to make. Zorry is torn between taking the deal in exchange for help getting out of the camp, and being wary of what such deal would cost her. She orders Ikky to reveals himself to Seraphina, so that the Warlock used to dealing with extraplanar beings can help her decide on the best course of action.
Seraphina coaxes Ikky to aid them in exchange for a future favor. The Imp leaves but not before dropping Samuel's Scroll. Zorry makes some ink and re-establishes communication with Samuel who has survived the siege. She learns that the city was taken, but that Westmarch has not fallen yet, and that there is some sort of resistance fighting the undead menace. Upon learning about the camp Samuel promises to dispatch a rescue force. While he can send enough ships to carry most of the refugees back to Westmarch, he has no fighting men to spare. Therefore the heroes must somehow find a way to liberate the camp before the ships arrive, as the sailors won't be able to lay a siege to the fortified encampment. Samuel also reveals that Crud DeButt has survived the siege, but now goes by William for some reason.
Zorry and Seraphina tell the news to Harlan and Bilbido, and the crew decides to get Rando involved (especially since he deserves to know that his brother is alive). Rando is glad to hear this and suggests to stage a smaller riot a week before the rescue flotilla arrives to test the camp defenses and see how quicklyu it can get reinforcements from the city.
A man named Grayson approaches Rando and Harlan asking for help. He reveals he is Fynwell native and a relative of Lord Rigel of Brass Lion Society. He knows that the Cousins can contact people on the outside, and he promises that if they find a way to smuggle him out of the camp, he will send back a ship to break out any Cousins that manage to sneak out of the camp. The Cousins agree to aid him, but he has to give them time to formulate a plan.
Gazzpatcho meets with Johann Lahey who reveals he obtains his supplies by stealing from the Cousins. He promises to reveal the location of the hidden stash if the barbarian agrees to give him half of the booze he loots. Gazzpatcho agrees and sets out to raid the Cousins' stash that same night. He passes by Bilbido Tastyflute who appears to be followed by a Shady Guard. Gazzpatcho decides to bravely ignore this, and focus on his mission of petty thievery.
Bilbido notices he is followed and uses magic to turn invisible (as is his custom during dangerous encounters). The guard looses his trail and is visibly enraged by this. He removes his mask revealing elven features, which seems unusual as most of the camp guards are Deep Folk.
Gazzpatcho manages to loot large portion of the supplies in the stash and return to Johann Lehy unnoticed. He stashes his share of the booze in his tent.
The Mighty Dorks: A Sportsball Film
In order to "improve morale" in the camp Mr. Garrison announces that a friendly game of Kelosi will be held between the guards and the Farihaven "guests". The game will give the refugees something to look forward to, and will give the guards a chance to blow off steam. Outside guests will be invited for the exhibition game allowing the leaders of the camp showcase how well it is being run and provide occasion to make money betting on a sport spectacle.
The prisoners are tasked with recruiting and training their own team. Naturally Cousins step in to coordinate the process as it provides them with abundant opportunities. Controlling the team and having the ability to either decisively win or throw the game gives Rando leverage with his outside contacts who will be betting on the game.
Consequently Rando becomes the coach and Badger the assistant coach. Together they recruit five most healthy, athletic and willing prisoners to form the team:
- Vessak Feltdam - dockhand
- Dyer Sneckbel - 45 year old half elf
- Gurard Tuskind - 40 year old dwarf merchant
- Oldan Binyear - 32 year old human blacksmith
- Zinis Kausom - 28 year old human dockhand
Harlan uses scraps of material stolen from the laundry to sew together a Fairhaven flag which he uses to inspire the newly formed team during their first training session. To keep the team mates motivated and in peek condition the Cousins promise protection, as well as access to contraband food rations and other contraband. The protagonists decide to name the team Fairhaven Merlins (after the official state fish of Fairhaven) and that their team chant is going to be "Boioioioing!".
In between training sessions Rando suggests that the game would be a perfect occasion to stake a mini-riot to test the camp defenses, and see how they react to organized resistance. The Cousins are secretly briefed on the plan, and told to agitate the crowd during the game, and provide some resistance initially, but to eventually lay down arms and stand down. They are also told not to bring contraband weapons to the game as those will likely be confiscated, and to secure their secret stashes to prevent them from being compromised after the test riot.
The training goes well, and the morale of the team grows. Few days before the game Zinis Kausom dies in a quarry accident. It is unclear if this was one of the usual "quarry accidents" which often happen to problem prisoners, or a real thing. There are some rumors that the quarry crew break through the cliff wall into some sort of cave system and encountered some unknown monster. That said, there are no witnesses.
The same night Vessak Feltdam gets a visit from some of the guards who strongly suggest he should consider throwing the game. They persuade Vessak so hard they manage to break his arm in the process, making him unable to compete.
Upon hearing the news, both Binyear and Tuskind decide not to participate in the game fearing for the safety of their families. Dyer is still willing to play, despite the danger. The Protagonists go to visit Vessak and meet Gazzpatcho Talbot who is there trying to mend his arm. With Zorry's help they manage to set the man's broken bones to ensure it will heal properly. Upon learning about the game, Gazzpatcho offers to play on the team. They are also able to convince Trevor Corey to be a crowd agitator during the game.
The heroes discuss the matter and decide they should all take part in the game. They decide to keep Dyer out of the game for his own safety, especially since all of them have extensive combat experience, whereas Half Elf simply happens to be a spry and nimble rogue.
On the day of the game the heroes decide to have Tastyflute play the mounted position. Zorry buffs him with magic to make sure he does not drop the ball, seeing how the bard is the least agile of the group. The guards play dirty and foul a lot. Some of them also brought knives and both Zorry and Harlan get stabbed during the game. Despite the lack of familiarity with the game, and the dirty play style of their opponents, the heroes are able to score a decisive win. Because they have followed the rules and played a clean game, the result is indisputable.
A Bug's Life
After the game is over, there is a lot of commotion in the audience. The natives, guests and guards are upset about the result, having likely lost a lot of money on what seemed to be a sure bet, while the prisoners are invigorated by the victory. Thanks to Cory Trevor shouting obscenities at the guards, the situation quickly erupts into violence.
The guards stationed in the tower at the center of the camp are quick to respond and sound the alarm horn, which calls for reinforcements from the Guard Compound including four horse drawn chariots. The guards try to control the crowd but are severely outnumbered. Some heroes including Gazpatcho and Harlan join the fray and manage to take out at least one of the chariots. Zorry and Tastyflute on the other hand try to direct the civilians away from the fighting and make sure there is as little collateral damage as possible.
Seeing the tide is turning against them the tower guards light the beacon on top of the tower, which the heroes note is probably used to signal the Koda City garrisons in order to send troops to quell the riot. They also sound the alarm for the second time which puts the entire camp in the state of emergency with more guards piling out from the compound.
When this is not enough, Mr. Garrison gives the order to sound the alarm for the third time. The tower guards seem hesitant to do this, but comply and sound the horn again. This signals the compound to release the camp's ultimate defense weapon: one that the prisoners have not seen or anticipated before. The compound gates are flung open to reveal a gigantic, elephant sized mutated fire beetle with a shielded troop palanquin on top. The beast appears to be controlled by one of it's riders (aka Beetlebro) who seems to be psionicaly attuned with the monster.
The creature is almost invulnerable to conventional weapons, and seems to be capable of spewing fiery substance from the glands below its head. After dozens of rioters are set on fire and suffer severe burns the prisoners finally lay down their arms and stand down. The prisoners who participated in the fighting are quickly apprehended, disarmed, and send to spend the night in "the hole". The rest are ordered to disperse and return to their assigned quarters.
The Cousins note that the tower in the center of the camp is pivotal to the camps defense as it is both used to sound alarm and to signal the city. They also note that the reinforcements from Koda do not arrive till the end of the day. This means that during the real riot the tower needs to be taken and controlled to prevent sounding of the alarm, and lighting the beacon.
The Princess is in another Castle
The day after the riot more troops arrive at the camp. Mr. Garrison calls for an assembly during which he scolds the "guests" for their violent outburst. He then informs them that Princess Dione, who has been a gracious guest of the Emir of Koda has arrived at the camp and will address them.
The princess is led in under armed escort. She appears unharmed and in good health, but rather sand and tired. She recognizes Bilbido Tastyflute in the crowd and gives him a hug. She whispers to him that she is held prisoner at the castle and in need of rescue. Then she is ushered toward the central square where she gives a prepared statement to the crowd, in which she urges them to comply with local authorities and avoid violence. She tells the crowd she is a guest of the Emir and that she is diligently working with the Koda government on a re-settlement plan for Westmarch refugees. She is then quickly ushered off the stage and out of the camp.
Mr. Garrison forces the prisoners to stand in the assembly square for the rest of the day without food or water. Those unable to stand are whipped or taken away to be punished elsewhere. In the evening, Mr. Garrison returns and demands the leader of the riot to step forward and reveal themselves. When no one steps forward he orders a literal decimation.
The leader of the Cousins Rando DeButt then steps forward and accepts the blame for starting the riot. Mr. Garrison decides to make an example out of him. Rando is severely beaten and then strung up and hanged from the guard tower by hands and feet so that he would die slowly out of thirst and starvation over the course of the next few days. His body is to remain there as a remainder to any future rioters.
Rando survives the ordeal thanks to Seraphina who uses her invisible sprite to sneak him food and water when the guards are not looking.
The reinforcements from the city finally leave, and the atmosphere in the camp becomes more relaxed as the prisoners are allowed to ease back into their usual schedules and assigned jobs. The heroes meet to discuss the riot, findings and plan for the arrival of Sam's rescue fleet in about a week.
The cousins are tasked with manufacturing make shift weapons such as shivs, improvised flails and spears, Zorry and Seraphina use their chemical expertise to brew healing balms and explosives. Each cousin is tasked with recruiting trusted fighters to join the cause.
Rando uses Seraphina's sprite to let the heroes know about the secret information cache on the cliff he was using to communicate with his outside sources. Seraphina uses her invisible sprite to pick up the latest set of documents and shares them with the heroes. It provides a bunch of useful information about the state of the affairs in the outside world. It confirms that the Princess is held in the Emir's castle and reveals that the ruler of Koda intends to marry her in order to become the rightful ruler of Westmarch. Rando's contacts stress that it is imperative that this marriage, which is conveniently scheduled to take place on the day when Sam's fleet arrives must be stopped. If the Emir is allowed to go through with it, the Westmarch monarchy will fall, and it will completely re-shape the sea trade between the main continents.
The information cache includes two maps that offer possible escape route from the camp. The first one is a map of traditional Koda catacomb layout, which the letter suggests should march very closely the ancient Catacombs located near the camp. Luckily the heroes do not have to bother finding entrance, because the quarry crews accidentally broke through one of it's walls while mining stone from the cliff walls. The catacombs can be used to gain access to the underground network of tunnels, waterways and sewage runoffs that lies deep below Koda City, and from there get to the lower levels of the city.
The second map shows a rarely used, and mostly forgotten secret palace escape tunnel which can be potentially traversed backwards to reach Emir's personal quarters from the street level. The tunnel is likely guarded, but a group of well trained and equipped adventurers should be able to use it to access the palace, rescue the princess and escape before the wedding takes place.
The letter also describes location of the warehouse in the Guard Compound where items of note (such as magical items) confiscated from the prisoners have been stored. It suggests that the heroes might be able to retrieve their lost equipment during the riot.
The heroes discuss these findings and decide that their escape plan must include rescuing the princess and stopping the wedding. They use the scroll to communicate this to Sam and arrange for one of the rescue ships to arrive in Koda and pick them up after they get the princess.
At the end of the meeting after the trusted Cousins leave, and only the heroes (and Gazpatcho) are left in the tent, Shady Guard shows up and reveals he is a hired assassin working for The Crows. He appears to be well armed with magical short sword, magical daggers and a hand crossbow. The heroes engage him in combat, while Gazpatcho spends all his rage points trying to break off wooden legs from a bed to use as clubs. He is not happy with just one club, so he spends extra time dismantling the bed to get two.
By the time he joins the fight, the heroes have managed to shift the tide of the battle, thanks to a friendly Giant Scorpion summoned by Zorry. The assassin is defeated, and inspection of his body reveals a letter from Clarissa Fizzlebang, wife of Namfoodle Fizzlebang who appears to have signed the assassination contract. The heroes bury the assassin inside the tent, and stash his weapons away so that they can be used during the real riot.
The heroes meet several times in secret with to plan the upcoming riot. During one of such meetings, they are introduced to Orth Harlton who has been recently recruited by the Cousins. Orth took upon himself to train them for the upcoming riot. As a prized champion for hire, and a fencing trainer he seemed uniquely suited for the task.
In addition to training the Cousins in hand to hand combat Orth would also try to instruct them in military strategy and tactics. Due to his skill and knowledge, as well as natural assertiveness and arrogance he quickly became a person of note among the Cousins despite never being part of the original crew, taking part in the Siege of Fairhaven member of the Fairhaven Cartel or having any affiliation with the Thieves Guild.
While Orth's fighting techniques were on point, and his knowledge of strategy and tactics was impressive, some of his methods seemed extreme. Orth disagreed with Harlan (and Rando's) plans to avoid needless bloodshed and spare the lives of the guards who choose to lay down their arms and surrender. He tried to undermine Harlan's leadership, and to cement his position among the Cousins he challenged him to a duel. Harlan reluctantly accepted not wanting to lose face with the men, while also trying to avoid creating any kind of rift or schism within the organization mere days before the riot.
Orth being a seasoned duelist was able to easily defeat the much smaller rogue who usually relies on stealth, distraction or magic misdirection. Harlan graciously congratulated the man on his victory and assigned him a leadership role in the riot. This was intended to assuage Orth's ego by giving him some degree of authority within the organization, but also establish his role as a front line commander, but not the leader of the entire operation.
The rest of the evening was spent taking stock of the supplies and dividing the Cousins and pals into combat units.
Cousins was selected to lead small units of Pals armed with spears and shivs. Some cousins were given the stock of Molotov Coctails made by Zorry and were instructed to act as mobile fire support. One of the Pals was tasked with installing and then setting off an explosive gas in the far side of the camp to provide a distracting explosion that would draw the guards away from the central square.
On the way back from the meeting Seraphina and Gazzpatcho passed one of the gates to the Guard Compound and noticed some unusual commotion inside. Seraphina used her sprite to fly over the wall and spy from above. She noted that the compound seemed to be on alert, with guards running around and searching for something or someone. At some point she noticed a strange figure dressed in rags. She instructed the sprite to take a closer look, but when the creature gazed back at it, the sprite was instantly destroyed.
The unusual activity in the compound continued into the morning with occasional sounds of fighting and screams of pain.
On the morning of the riot, Mr. Garrison leads a group of guards outside of the camp. They appear to be carrying bodies to be cremated away from the camp. Some of the bodies are the victims of the earlier quarry accident, while others appear to be guards. They are escorted by the giant beetle.
This complicates the riot plan, as the heroes were intending to sneak into the compound and try to incapacitate the beetle's handler to prevent it being used in the battle. The guard behavior is also highly unusual. They have never before used the beast as an escort. They have also never before burned bodies of Koda natives, because that is not their custom. Bodies of the guards who die are usually preserved and entered into "Public Service", so it seems highly suspect.
The heroes split the party to execute their two pronged plan of attack. Harlan and Gazpatcho lead the Cousins towards the assembly square, where they take positions and prepare for combat. Teams of cousins are placed around the guard tower and near the gates. A few Cousins carrying heavy chains are positioned near the Guard Compound gates. Their mission is to use the chains to disable chariots as they roll out of the compound.
The rest of the party heads towards the Guard Compound gate hoping to sneak inside and retrieve their equipment before the riot starts. Zorry is wearing the guard uniform that was previously used by Shady Guard while Bilbido uses illusion magic to make himself appear as Mr Garrison. Seraphina is tied up to act as a prisoner that is being led inside the compound for interrogation.
Bilbido manages to fool the gate guards into thinking he is their leader, and sends them away from their post. The heroes enter the compound only to run into Paldeen Er'Awitar. The Whipper appears to be talking to Lorard Darqua (captain of the Fair Maiden) and a group of his crew mates. They seem to have heard of the upcoming riot and are trying to snitch on the Cousins. Bilbido tries to pull rank and orders the men to be taken to the brig to await full interrogation. When the Whipper tries to interject, Bilbido orders him to go and wait for him in his office, so that they can discuss these matters in private.
To the surprise of everyone, the Whipper actually falls for the bluff and leaves for Mr. Garrison's office. The heroes quickly proceed to the warehouse and find the chests with their equipment. It appears that two magical tomes were packed in the same chest as some of their items: Theory of Invisible Forces and Magical Properties of Herbs and Flowers. They also find one of the Twin Rings of Transpondence The heroes decide to take them.
When the chest with Bilbido's equipment is opened, a foul smell fills the room, and a mass of flesh springs out of the container, rapidly regenerating into a full size troll. Apparently the bard forgot to singe one of the Troll penis trophies he carried with him, and over the last six months it has been slowly regenerating. Exposing it to air kicked regeneration into high gear making the creature grow to full size in mere seconds. Fortunately the heroes are at this point very well versed in Troll slaying and make use of fire based magic to halt the creature's growth and dispatch it while it is still disoriented and not fully grown.
In the meantime Harlan uses invisibility to sneak into the guard tower. He manages to take one of the guards with a sneak attack, but the other guard manages to blow the alarm horn before he is cut down. Gazzpatcho, Morg and a unit of Cousins take out the guards at the bottom of the tower and set up to defend it. They dismantle the ladder to make it harder for the guards to re-take it. They also cut off Rando and have him taken away into safety. As the guards start to gather to investigate the alert they are being intercepted by the Cousins. The unit let by Orth blocks the far gate of the camp, locking out Mr. Garrison and the Beetle who are still burning bodies in the desert.
Bilbido, Zorry and Seraphina use the commotion caused by the alarm to sneak out of the compound. They slow down and disrupt large unit of guards at the compound gate using Stinking Cloud spell. By the time they reach the guard tower it turns out that Harlan and Gazpatcho are gone. Bilbido climbs the tower starts reloading the Balista so that it can be used against the guards.
Harlan and Gazzpatcho head over towards the gates to reinforce the unit of Cousins that has been flanked by guards lead by the Whipper. The heroes manage to push back the attackers, and Gazzpatcho kills the Whipper.
The guards outside the camp are now aware of the riot. The Beetle flies over the gate and uses his fire glands to disperse the Cousins defending the gate allowing Mr. Garrison and his retinue to get inside. It then leaves toward the center of the camp intending to re-take the tower.
Harlan, Gazzpatcho, Morg and remaining cousins engage Mr. Garrison and his unit. Garrison turns out to be a competent fighter and an accomplished magic user. He uses Banishment spell on Gazpatcho transporting him to a empty, void demiplane. While stuck in the demiplane the barbarian encounters Ikky who tries to cut a deal with him. Gazzpatcho refuses, and almost starts a fight with the imp. Before he has to deal with the devil's hell hounds he is returned back to the physical plane because Harlan managed to kill Mr. Garrison dispelling the banishment. Gazzpatcho retrieves the Scepter of the Storms from the camp commander's body.
The heroes then head towards the assembly square, where the giant Beetle has managed to topple the guard tower. They join the rest of the team and engage the remaining guards and try to figure out how to defeat the nearly indestructible towering insect. His chitinous armor seems to be almost impervious to damage, and his handler is protected by the reinforced palanquin.
Dyer Sneckbel saves Grayson by pushing him out of the way of the Beetles flaming discharge and gets badly burned in the process. Harlan retrieves his equipment and climbs the Beetle attempting to charge the handler. Beetlebro makes his mount roll around on the ground, effectively throwing the halfling off his back. This however destroys the palanquin, and exposes the handler to missile fire and magical spells. Seraphina manages to take him down using her eldritch blast. Without the handler's psionic orders Beetle goes docile and stops fighting.
The remaining guards realize they just lost their most powerful weapon. They are heavily outnumbered and so the lay down their arms and surrender.
Seraphina's Sewage Surprise
Westmarch Liberation Fleet arrives at the docks, and begin evacuating the refugees. Rando Debutt and Dyer are given medical treatment and are loaded on the ships. Grayson accompanies Dyer and promises to reward him for saving his life.
Harlan and Orth argue over what should be done with the guards. Orth argues that it is best to execute all of them leaving no witnesses as to what transpired in the camp as to avoid diplomatic complications. He is worried that foreign fleet sacking a work camp may spark a conflict between Emirates and Westmarch. Harlan insists that they should be spared. He orders the guards to be detained but treated with dignity. When the evacuation is complete, the heroes intend to signal Koda using the smoke beacon from the tower to create distraction for their rescue mission. When the reinforcements arrive they can release the detained guards.
Orth also argues that Lorard Darqua and his accomplices should be executed for treason. Harlan does not want to see them executed, and argues that they should either be left in the camp with the guards, or transported back to Westmarch where they can have a fair trial. Someone suggests that the traitors are likely to be executed by the guards once the reinforcements arrive, so Harlan orders them to be taken aboard and transported back to their homeland. Orth reluctantly agrees.
Seraphina decides to test out her new magical ring. When she concentrates on it, she is immediately transported into raw sewage. She manages to swim out of it, and and finds herself in some underground sewage system. She eventually finds a ladder that leads her onto a busy city street. People give her a lot of space as she is covered in sewage. She finally manages to tag some passer by who informs her she is in Fynwell and scurries away.
Seraphina concentrates on the ring again and is transported back to Barren Cliffs camp. Everyone is surprised she is suddenly covered in excrement. Harlan and Zorry momentarily panic thinking Nader might be back, but she explains what happens. She then goes out to the shore to wash poop out of her clothes.
Zorry leads the giant beetle back to it's enclosure, and the heroes help few of the cousins to install the smoke beacon on the roof of the building so that it can be lit when the evacuation is complete. The heroes then take some rest and prepare to enter the catacombs and face whatever horrors killed the miners and scared Mr. Garrison enough to take the beetle as an escort.
Upon emerging from the catacombs, the heroes enter the Koda Waterways, an underground network of aqueducts and sewage ducts that keeps the city running. The waterways are well maintained, and have a dual purpose as a transportation network that allows citizens to access far-away surface outposts, or visit ancient catacombs to pay respects to their ancestors who have been laid to rest after fulfilling their Public Service debt.
The heroes find a boat and let the current ferry them towards the Koda docks following the instructions from Rando's contacts. The waterways seem to be quite empty and the heroes don't see any other boats or any foot traffic on the walkways surrounding the channels. They do however notice few dead bodies along their track. They do not stop to investigate assuming these might be victims of more Bodaks.
At some point they pass an unusual couple, dressed in regal clothing. They appear to be human rather than Deep Folk and seem to be heading in the same direction. Harlan contemplates warning them about the Bodak danger, but decides not to, seeing how the couple is heading away from the danger rather than towards it. He decides it's better to keep a low profile.
When the heroes finally reach the end of the channel and enter the low levels of Koda City itself, they run into a group of lower caste Deep Folk loitering in the underground corridors. In any other part of the world they would be considered hobos, but in Koda they are probably just drunkards, or gamblers down on their luck. They notice the heroes are branded with the Red Sun Slave Tattoos and assume they are escaped slaves. Seraphina tries to bribe them with the Mitrhil Coins found in the catacombs. The Deep Folk do not seem to be convinced and one of them decides to leave (and possibly report them). Seraphina reacts in a calm and collected manner by exploding the man into pieces with an eldritch blast. The remaining hobos enthusiastically agree to take her coins and stay put.
House of Exposition
As the heroes make their way up to the richer and more affluent levels of the Koda City underground they bump into a young girl accompanied by two Public Service golems. She seems suspicious and mistrustful of foreigners (especially Seraphina who seems to be covered in blood and guts) and it appears that little folk such as halflings and gnomes are rarely seen in these parts. The heroes somehow manage to prevent Seraphina from blowing up the little girl who notices their red sun tatoos and threatens to report them to the authorities. The golems move in to protect her but before the situation can turn violent her older brother arrives on the scene.
He introduces himself as Nero Er'Manu and his sister as Elias Er'Manu. He apologizes for his sister's behavior explaining she has never really seen foreigners. He warns the heroes about a guard patrol in the area and invites them to his house where they can wait until the coast is clear.
Inside Nero warns the heroes they should be really careful, as most Koda citizens, much like his sister, are very suspicious of foreigners. He on the other hand has traveled a lot and visited Fynwell and Pelagrino and learned much about the way of life an customs of other races and nations. He is opposed to the treatment of Westmarch refugees and he is happy to help them escape the city and return to their homeland.
Nero also explains the Public Service System which uses undead golems as labor force. He introduces his own golems as his grandparents who have already worked off their debt to the state and now help the family. When he and Elais die and enter Public Service the grandparents will finally be laid to rest in one of the underground catacombs.
Elais lends Seraphina some of her clothes so that she doesn't have to run around covered in blood. Nero inquires what happened to her, and Seraphina explains she was mugged on the street and wounded the attacker in self defense. Nero does not believe her seeing how Emirates have universal basic income, and all citizens get a stipend form the state so street muggings are incredibly rare.
The guard patrol finally leaves the area, and the heroes are free to leave. Gazzpatcho is grateful for the hospitality gives Nero 1 gold piece "for his trouble". Nero tries his best not to be offended. Both his clothing and the decor of his house indicate that this is not a lot of money for him.
Royal Backdoor (aka Tomb of Horrors Lite)
The heroes emerge from the underground parts of the city and find themselves in the docks. It's late evening so the streets are quite empty. They do notice some commotion on the far side of the city where the military garrisons are located. They deduce that the evacuation was completed successfully and the alarm beacon was lit as planned, so the Koda army has been put on alert, and will send out reinforcements into Barren Cliffs.
The heroes make their way to the secret tunnel marked on the map. They find it with ease, and manage to open the door by following instructions in the note. The map they were provided is very rudimentary, but it appears the escape tunnel is a winding corridor with a slight incline, which has several chambers and several forked pathways, all of which seem to re-join the main corridor eventually.
The first side chamber they encounter has an opened chest full of gold coins in the middle of the floor. Harlan, who worked as a burglar assumes that it is an obvious trap as such chest has no reason to be there, and no reason to be there, and no reason to be opened, and on display. Likely it was put there to entrap greedy intruders who would find the tunnel by accident. The heroes leave the chest alone and proceed upwards.
The escape tunnel turns out to be a series of deadly traps that activate when the tunnel is traversed in the opposite direction than intended. It was designed to prevent potential intruders from reaching the royal chambers.
One of the traps forces the heroes to balance their weight load while walking on two sides of the tunnel. Another forces them to run through a corridors that shoot poisoned darts from the walls. Few of the chambers involve solving matching or logical puzzles.
One of the late chambers has an enchanted statue on a pedestal which asks the heroes to state something they are most proud of, and something they most regret. The heroes fail the test and are forced to fight the moving statue. They manage to best it, but they do get knocked around quite a bit.
One of the final chambers involves a set of 8 doors. The heroes somehow manage to narrow it down to two doors with similar symbols, one of which should be the exit, while the other a deadly trap. They pick on door at random, and Seraphina volunteers to open it seeing how she has the most hit points left from the entire crew. The door turns out to be a trapped with disintegration spell and the warlock loses her left arm. After the fact, Harlan points out that he should have tried to open that door using his mage hand spell.
Finally, after what seemed to be like hours spend in the trapped corridors, the heroes reach the royal chambers, with about 10 hit points between the five of them.