The adventure picks up with our party having finished their conversation with the yet unnamed pirate smuggler. The smuggler had put forth an offer to significantly lower his price of travel if the party were to eliminate the threat of his local rivals, a man who calls himself the “Duke of Kelthann” and his gang of thugs, who all run the local gambling house less than a mile down the road and had been stirring up trouble (muggings, bar fights, threats of more serious violence etc) in recent weeks.
The party decided to forego any covert or stealthy operations and instead simply walk right through the front doors of the casino, so as to appear inconspicuous and to have a chance to scope out the interior of the building before escalating the situation into a fight.
As they walked through the door, they were greeted by the sight of a cloaked drow assassin slitting the throat of the “duke” himself and letting his body drop to the ground along with the blood-soaked corpses of his entire gang. Ashes immediately recognized the drow from her clothing and demeanor as Nautya, private assassin for the warlord Chaon Valzu. It became immediately clear that she had been given the task of following Ashes to ensure that his pirate captors did not fail in their assigned task. Nautya offered the party the chance to walk free with any loot they found in exchange for leaving Ashes behind to be slaughtered. The group refused.
In what can only be described as a complete and total fucking beatdown, the party surrounded Nautya and immediately nullified her every move. She tried to remove all light from the room; Ashes promptly used a cantrip to light every single candle available. She tried to take out the kenku with a triple melee attack; he responded with unholy angry bird fisticuffs en mass. She tried to instill fear and confusion, and instead the party cast numerous fear spells, grand illusions involving the ceiling collapsing, and two bouts of’Tasha’s hideous laughter’ until Nautya was rendered immobile for all remaining turns.
The party finished the fight by crushing the assassin’s windpipe with melee strikes. As she lay in her death throws, Ashes sent her a stream of various telepathic questions. She would not reveal any information aside from saying that Ashes will be finished off for certain when he faces “the twins”, a concept Ashes did not take kindly to since they are not an already known part of his backstory.
The party decided to hide Nautya’s body behind the gambling house in order to take credit for finishing off the gang in brutal fashion and stole a vial of powder off her body, which an arcana check revealed to be a compound then, when mixed with potion solution, becomes an elixir of stealth.
The party returned to the tavern and greeted the smuggler with bloody fists and a promise that the gang was no more. The other patrons of the tavern took very kindly to the smuggler’s announcement that the duke and his gang had “recently expired due to a swift-acting natural illness” and bought the party a round of drinks. The smuggler then lowered his price from 10,000 gold to 1,000 gold.
The party then boarded the smuggler’s ship and met the smuggler’s first mate Jim, who grandly introduced himself as being part of the story solely because the Kenku insisted that a second crew member would be necessary for any of this to make sense. The party set sail for the Sea of Fallen Stars with the intent of traveling to Mt. Thay. They also spoke with the smuggler, who revealed that he too has heard numerous rumors of new and completely unknown monsters roaming freely across nearby lands, sometimes right out in the open and during the daytime. Anyone who’s gotten close to these monsters has lost their life to this new threat.
Within only minutes of leaving Kelthann, the smuggler’s ship was rocked by cannon fire as an unmarked ship attacked. The party ran on deck to see that this was clearly one of the ships from the fleet from which they had escaped. The party faced off against two pirates, a captain and two fanatics of a cult with an emblem the group did not recognize. The cult fanatics held up their hands to make the distinct symbol of devil horns as the pirate attempted to swing from their ship to the smuggler’s ship. Their ambush was largely unsuccessful. The smuggler shouted his name “Handebar Soloco!”, pulled out twin pistols and promptly blew one of the pirate’s heads clean off his shoulders. The party then used a series of spells to light the pirates’ vessel ablaze and trap the pirate with webbing spells. The cult fanatics then released a minotaur they had kept hidden from view, who tried to leap onto the smuggler’s ship; its leap attempt can only be described as a “critical failure.” The party bombarded their attackers with spells and melee attacks until all were defeated, save one cultist who stayed behind on his burning ship and the other, who the party tortured in hopes of gaining information. The cult fanatic only revealed that it would be an honor to die for the leader he worshiped. He then turned to the kenku and spoke in the most steady voice his could muster “You will never fly.”
The session ended with the party sailing away from the burning pirate ship, mulling over possible reasons why this cult would be so concerned with the party and the kenku in particular…