So Mara, Aliya, Serai, and Shurrin continued in their struggle against the rat men in the sewers. They learned that officials with the Temple of the Rat God, whom they knew to be in league with the rat men, were seeking someone with knowledge of machines to help them with a job. Posing as criminal mercenaries, they went to the temple discreetly and offered their services, as Serai did indeed know a little something about machines. There they met a motley assortment of villains—humans who consorted freely with rat men, and priests who seemed to revel in filth and disease.

They discovered that the temple had somehow gotten hold of a chaositech golem. Posing as someone who knew much more about what he was doing than he actually did, Serai investigated it and learned a little about how it worked—just enough, in fact, to sabotage it. The golem ran amok, and the PCs just barely escaped the ensuing battle. That adventure taught the characters some valuable things. Apparently, there was a loose confederation among the various cults of chaos gods, many of them fronts for mysterious evil beings called the Galchutt. Something big was afoot, and it was definitely cause for concern.

After a short rest, Aliya learned that, before she could join the Order of the Fist—a wellknown but small group of monks who practiced a philosophy of goal-oriented empowerment—she would have to perform a quest. Her quest was to rescue a soul-gem that held the soul of Quideth Minisham, the lover of order’s leader, Wynn Rabinall. Quideth was said to be within the tomb of a long-dead wizard named Alchestrin. Apparently, Wynn and Quideth had somehow traveled back in time and encountered Alchestrin while he was alive, 500 years earlier. Quideth was trapped in the past, and Wynn had learned only recently that her soul was locked inside a gem. Alchestrin’s tomb, of course, lay within the Necropolis, by far the most dangerous part of the city. The Necropolis was infested not only with undead but with humans called the Forsaken, who worked with and worshipped the undead, and with demons that called themselves the Fallen.

Meanwhile, Sercian, Vexander, Chanticleer, and Gaerioth were seeking an elf cleric to go with them on a mission. Eventually they found Laethando Silversong, a particularly elfcentric (read: racist) priest. They hired him. Doraedian Mythlord, the influential patron of the city’s elves, had convinced them to escort a mysterious woman down into the Undercity near where the Prison lay. This would involve hiring a boat and entering the Undercity via a sea cave along the cliffs. They were to help this woman pick up someone from the Prison. While this activity might not be entirely legal, they were assured that there would not be much danger involved. In addition, they might find a way into the Undercity ruins near the Prison, mostly unexplored by delvers because the Prison guards at the sea cave entrance did not let anyone in.

The prisoner pick-up and escort went smoothly, and the characters used their time there to figure out how to get into the ruins through an old window hidden within the cliff wall.

After they returned the woman and the man she picked up—whose identities were never revealed—safely back to the city, they made their way back to the cliff wall and through the window. There, they found ruined areas originally built by a wizard named Sokalahn. Some goblins and bugbears occupied the place now. The bugbears utilized some tricky lever-operated portcullises to get the characters to face some owlbears, one of which killed Gaerioth. In that pitched battle, the adventurers encountered a device that once was probably a magical dragon monument but now amounted to little more than a deadly firespraying trap. The group’s only source of light, a lantern, was blackened and scorched in the melee. Thus, from that point on, the group called itself the Company of the Black Lantern.

The PCs escaped back to the city and got Gaerioth raised. When they returned to the area around the Prison, however, their boat was smashed upon the rocks near the cliff. They made it up the cliff and inside, but found themselves trapped. With nothing to do but investigate more of the forgotten underground ruins, they learned that Sokalahn had plumbed this area looking for an ancient artifact called the Black Grail placed here by an evil entity named Eslathagos Malkith.

Next Time: The group in the Necropolis is captured by demons! More about Helmut Itlestein! And the Company of the Black Lantern goes to work for a crime lord!!