Before Gaerioth left with the other adventurers to explore the Seven Jewels of Parnaith, he, Sercian, Vexander, and Tellian took a well-deserved rest. They had just dealt a terrible blow to their enemies, the dark elves who had kept Sercian prisoner for so long.

During their break, Sercian was approached by a woman claiming to be the figure they’d once escorted into the Prison for the recovery of her husband. She said she needed help in another matter now. A book, important to her family, was stolen and she wanted it recovered. She offered a very large sum of money for its return. She would not say what the book was, only that it had a lightning bolt on the cover.

The book was stolen, she said, by a crime lord named Aggah-Shan. Aggah-Shan operated a number of gambling dens in the city, some legal, some not. One illegal establishment the group quickly learned of was a tavern called the Cock and Bull in the South Market. This, they discovered, was the most likely place to contact Aggah-Shan, a mysterious figure who rarely met with anyone.

The group did some investigating and learned that the woman was Fransin Nagel, leader of House Nagel. Convinced that the offer was legitimate, the Company went in disguise to the Cock and Bull and cased the place. Sercian (posing as his brother, Serai), managed to speak with Aggah-Shan’s lieutenant, Naosh, a half-orc. After more wrangling, he got an “audience” (through a magical mirror) with Aggah-Shan, although he could not see the crime lord clearly.

Hoping to gain some information about the book, draw Aggah-Shan out, and potentially ingratiate himself, “Serai” told him that his new enemies, the Company of the Black Lantern, were after the book. He even told him where they would be later on. The crime lord indicated that he did indeed have the book, and thanked “Serai.”

Meanwhile, the rest of the company gambled, gathered information, and tried to find a secret door or some other way into a private area where Aggah-Shan might be. Gaerioth became very tempted to take on a minotaur gladiator in a fighting pit. Eventually, however, they all left so they could wait in ambush for Aggah-Shan or some of his powerful servants to show up where “Serai” had told the crime lord they’d be. If Aggah- Shan himself didn’t show up, at least they could question some of his servants.

But neither Aggah-Shan nor his servants showed. Instead, to the surprise of the company, the crime lord tricked some of his own enemies, the Shuul, into attacking them instead. The Shuul were a secretive organization devoted to order and the old ways—the use of firearms, steam-powered clockwork mechanisms, and so forth. The Company of the Black Lantern, assuming that the Shuul were allies of Aggah-Shan, attacked and defeated them.

What followed was a confusing period during which the company tried to sort things out. Gathering some information, they learned that Aggah-Shan was closely related to the forces of chaos, not order, and thus the conflict with the Shuul must have been a mistake. Tired of all this maneuvering, the Black Lantern elves decided they just needed a way to confront Aggah-Shan directly. Spending the money to get some help with powerful divinations, they learned that he was working on a huge machine. Sercian remembered his brother speaking of a forbidding door with a huge serpent on it in a chaos temple they had raided—behind which, Serai had said, they’d heard the workings of a vast machine. Putting machine noises plus chaos temple together, the group developed a hunch that they could find their new nemesis there.

Gaerioth, however, had to leave to join his friends going to the Jewels. Short one combatant, the group was happy to welcome into their ranks an elf who belonged to the Order the Dawn (the Emperor’s personal knights). This elf, Thoreaen Lightbringer, was actually sent by the office of the Emperor to infiltrate the Company of the Black Lantern and keep tabs on the increasingly powerful and somewhat roguish group. Together, they prepared to go to the chaos machine, find Aggah-Shan, and recover the book.

Of course, the whole thing was predicated on a lie. Fransin Nagel never contacted Sercian. That was a falsehood that he and a woman friend of his came up with. A woman whom they both knew the rest of the company would not want to work with. A woman who really wanted to recover the book. A woman Sercian was beginning to fall in love with: Fesamere Balacazar, daughter of Menon Balacazar, the worst of the city’s crime lords—and quite a capable rogue and thief in her own right.

Soon: The Jewels of Parnaith, Part 2