The heroes had been chosen, however unlikely they may have been. A city guard fallen from grace, stricken by the disappearance of his wife. An escaped slave with a penchant for holding a grudge. A cunning whore with ambitions – and greed – far greater than that of her ilk. Each found themselves being summoned to a secretive meeting with grand promises of revolution; talks of overthrowing the establishment. This Order of Independence, as they apparently called themselves, obviously had a vision, delusional as it may have been. However, it seemed to speak to a certain part of each of them, however far-fetched it sounded.
Guy Triston and Felix ‘The Fool’ were well acquainted. After all, it was Felix’s sister, Fauna, whom Guy had married. Their bond grew upon the disappearance of Fauna. When they both found themselves invited to the meeting of the Order of Independence they may have seen it as an opportunity to find some answers. Of course, they may have just needed an excuse to take their mind away from their failures. Prior to the scheduled meet, both men did some sleuthing to find out more about the mysterious scroll that has made its way into their possessions.
It seemed that the owner of the mill, Elden Westinghoff, had run up significant debt with the Thieves’ Guild. As a result, Westinghoff’s usual business partners from the grain fields wanted little to do with him. He had run up on hard times, and apparently found the bottom of a tankard of ale to be his closest friend. However, he hadn’t been seen for several days leading up to the meeting; and his mill had been boarded up with no activity.
Vera Nightlily was quite familiar with the area where she was summoned to. It was just down the street from the Plaza of Dark Delights, where she dabbled as a fence when she wasn’t being ‘rented out’ by the Whore’s Guild. She staked out in front of the mill prior to the meeting and looked for anything out of the ordinary. Save for the brutish man making his way for the mill and a crazy blind beggar, Guilded Court was quiet.
Guy moved toward the lit up door of the Westinghoff mill, and pushed the doors open with clear intent. He was the first inside, and he was greeted with an empty storage room and the smell of old grain. As he inspected the room, finding several locked doors, Vera slipped into the building. After a couple tense exchanges between the strangers they continued searching the room.
Meanwhile, Felix made his way around the outside of the mill looking for anything out of place. With nothing of any great concern sticking out, Felix stealthily entered the mill and hid in the shadows. Guy was startled when Felix whispered to him from the shadows and made himself known. The three invitees made idle conversation while starting to feel a level of discomfort as nothing was happening.
Curiosity got the best of Felix, he began picking a lock of a door leading to the unlit portion the mill. As the lock clicked open footsteps sounded from the other side of the storage room. Three hooded figures emerged and greeted the trio. Relocks was the first to lower his hood. He explained to the trio that he sought to topple the power structure of the city, starting with the Thieves’ Guild. He continued that he believed that started with gaining favor with the guild – which obviously was out of the question for him due to his checkered past with them.
He produced a grapefruit sized aquamarine orb from his pouch and placed it on the tidy table near him. The Eye of the Universe, he explained, held significant power in the city and was sought after by many parties. How they decided to use that power was up to them, he said. He explained how the stone had made its way to their possession, and how it once belonged to the Church of the Book and held an enchantment.
By now the other two people by Relocks’ side had pulled back their hoods. Vera immediately recognized her good friend Kiana, who gave her assurances that Relocks was someone with an honor not too often found in Lankhmar. Relocks promised nothing but the stone, and an opportunity to do something for the betterment of the city.
However thin the hooks were, the trio agreed to join forces and began discussing their options. They floated between selling the stone outright, returning it to the Thieves’ Guild who would be expecting it, throwing the stone in the river, among many other options. Finally landing on the decision to act as a neutral third party and handing the Eye back to the originally intended recipient at a building on the Street of the Gods marked with the Sign of the Beggar (two hands, outstretched, palms up), the group departed.
Felix slipped upstairs to make his way out via the rooftops. As he approached the window he notice four burly figures staked out around the mill. Relaying the information to the rest of the party, Guy and Vera casually walked outside, weapons at the ready but hidden. Felix snuck back upstairs and posted watch on the roof of the mill. Immediately upon exiting the men began approaching Guy and Vera, emerging from the thick night smog, clubs in hand. Harsh words were spoken and the thugs ran wildly at the duo, weapons raised.
Guy motioned for Vera to book it to the alleyway. She did, and Guy follow close behind with sword and shield ready. As Vera used her wits to warn off the thugs, the four baddies converged on Guy, swinging their clubs with reckless abandon. Guy parried, dodged, and absorbed a number of blows and responded with his own frenzy of slashes. From above, Felix was throwing bolos and moving towards the ruckus. It wasn’t long before two of the weaker bandits were felled by Guy’s sword. A dagger flew by the big one, more swings from all parties, and then Felix leapt from the rooftop onto the apparent boss. Shaken by the stunt, the boss was caught with a vicious blow from Guy’s sword.
A pile of three bodies had formed, and one lone thug remained. He backed down after having been given the chance to surrender. A quick search of the boss’ remains turned up a copy of the scroll that had summoned the three to this location. Further questioning of the surviving turned up little. Felix asked the others if they wanted to ask anything else, and when the other two responded with a no, he ruthlessly slit the throat of the thug and added a fourth to the pile of dead bodies on Guilded Court. This clearly surprised Vera, who was visibly disturbed by the display.
In an effort to dispose of the bodies, they began dragging them back to the mill. Relocks confirmed that none of the thugs were the intended recipient of a fourth invitation that was delivered. Gerkh, Relocks’ right-hand man, lugged the bodies into the mill and began the arduous task of grinding the bodies down in the now defunct grain mill.
The trio parted ways for the night and went off on a fact finding journey. Aquamarine crystals, it turned out, were becoming quite the hot commodity on the Plaza of Dark Delights. Religious figures and guilds alike sought to buy the crystals, all for hefty sums. They discovered that a blind priest in town, known as Middark, was preaching to the poor of the Beggar King, Goro’mosh. This god is said to be devoted to the wellbeing of the poor, the hungry, and outcast; with a desire to enlighten the city’s wellborn. Middark had been one of the most prolific buyers of such stones.
When asking specifically about the Eye of the Universe, they learned that the Church of the Book spoke of its mystical powers. A priest of Aarth (the most well-known and powerful religion in Lankhmar) explained that the Church of the Book was inexplicably gaining favor in Lankhmar, and even taking followers from Aarth. He believed the Eye has something to do with that.
With that, the heroes were left with the fact that what they held in their hands obviously held a power far greater than a few thousand rilks. And they set off to hand it over to the Beggar King.