Scales of War
Creeping the Creepers
In which the heroes of the Second Wind canvas the streets of Overlook for answers to the dark questions swirling about them.
Scene 1: Haelyn’s Advice
You intervene between a couple of rival butchers quarrelling over a potential customer. You suggest the two join forces in order to maximize their earnings, allowing them to control the price of select cuts of meat in their corner of the district. In return, they put you in touch with Haelyn, a keen-eyed, friendly old woman who tends the shrine of Erathis. “The far traders coming into Overlook talk of more and more trouble on the roads," she notes. "They say the Red Hand of Doom was behind what happened in Brindol a few months past, but there’s more cults than that on the rise across the frontier. We need the blessing of Erathis to maintain our way of life, in the face of this chaos.”
Scene 2: Lost Ones
You return to Swain’s Boarding-House, the scene of the death of a local drug addict. Wendell Swain goes pale when you arrive, his face ashen beneath its layer of dirt and dried food. He is only too glad to tell you whatever you want to know. “You get all races in Overlook, but the dark creepers that pass through the city keep to themselves. More often than not, those you do see are in the company of Lost Ones bodyguards and enforcers. Lost Ones? Why, you must be blind, friend! They’re the thieves’ guild what runs this city. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of them.”
Scene 3: The Heckler
Over the course of your inquiries in the Blister district, more than one passer-by stops to congratulate you. Apparently, word has gotten out that an intrepid band of heroes exposed the depraved devil-worship of Ruth and Rory Teng, and put an end to their vile practices at Belden’s Rest. As a crowd of well-wishers gathers, you pick out a sardonic-looking dragonborn male in richly embroidered black robes, discreetly watching you from across the street. A few minutes after the crowd dissipates, he approaches you, breaking into a slow, mocking clap. “Hail, heroes of Overlook and scourges of the Father of Hells,” he drawls, then chuckles. “Those two old fools. Anybody can slip poison into a drunken sot’s ale and offer him up for sacrifice, but to look your victim in the eye, knowing that you will eviscerate him with your own hands, the name of your God on your lips? Now that takes real stomach. These creepers, for example. Secretive little folk, but if you cross them, beware. They’re the front for arms dealing in the city. No one knows who’s behind them, but I suspect their employer’s concerns extend far beyond the petty rivalries of Overlook thieves’ guilds. We’ll see if you handle them as adeptly as you did those dire threats to mankind.” With another contemptuous laugh, he saunters off. Passers-by confirm him by reputation and sight as Anwar, a local cleric of Bane.
Scene 4: Power Struggle
From what you are gradually able to observe, it seems that until the siege of Bordrin’s Watch, a creeper named Modra was in charge of the Dark Ones in Overlook. Since then, another creeper has taken Modra’s place. She is known only as Skuld.
As you work your way through the city’s military hierarchy, you hear that Watch Captain Aerun is a good source for off-the-record information. You’re told to look for Aerun at the Pig & Bucket Tavern, and sure enough, that’s where you find him. Off-duty, he looks desperately in need of a drink, but his funds are low. Generously, you come to the rescue, and the good captain begins to unbend. On his fourth whisky and soda, Aerun rather slurringly tells you that “those blasted creepers were said to be buying information a few months back, looking for those with experience mining the old caverns of the Stonehome. Don’t know what that means, but it can’t be good for the city.”
Scene 5: Family Friend
Jing Lee, retired clerk, at Mountain’s Rest, to Nissa: “You’re Pock’s daughter, aren’t you? I knew your father when I was in the trade. Goodness, you’re all grown up now. Your father’ll remember old Shanta Singh; she used to do his books, until her sister fell down the stairs and broke her neck and she had to move back to Brindol to look after her dead sister’s child. Well, turns out old Shanta went a bit loony after that. Started seein’ things and goin’ out to the woods at night to meet strange folk. One fine day, so the talk goes, she never came back. Poor little boy, lost his mother and his auntie within a span of a few months. Never found out what happened to the boy. Anyhow, when you next see your father, you might tell him about old Shanta. Sad, that. She was a good woman before the madness took her.”
Scene 6: Party Organ
At Merty’s, the haughty Riley Swifttoe refuses to indulge in what he calls idle gossip. Fortunately, the pompous halfling is a bit slipshod in his security practices. While your comrades keep him distracted, you’re able to leaf through some private papers in his backroom in which Riley’s brother Ronald voices his concerns about the creepers in Overlook. “By Avandra’s wings, I’m glad that Modra is out of the black market. Gone to ground, it seems like. Good thing for us. He was taking away our business! This Skuld person still deals in arms, but the organ market is her real bread and butter these days, from what I can tell. Keep marking up the short swords at three times their wholesale price.”
Scene 7: Reniss
The half-elf woman who approaches you wears brown leather beneath a green cloak. Fiercely, she says, “I’ve heard word that there’s a group in the city looking for someone named Skuld. What business is this Skuld of yours? I warn you, if you seek to ally with her, you will not find a friend in Reniss.”
After Aldor assures her that they are not in league with Skuld, the woman introduces herself as Reniss. She says, “Perhaps you’ve heard of the Company of Wolves. My sister Jenna was a member, until she met her death in the Stonehome Mountains. I told her she was a fool to take orders from that pompous fop Summerfield, but she’d not listen.” For a moment, she turns away, overcome. “I seek my sister’s murderer, whose name she whispered to me with her dying breath, using the Sending Stone that she carried. I see you have the stone with you. I have its companion stone here." She produces an identical stone. “Through it, I know that Jenna’s murderer is named Skuld, and I will not rest until this Skuld’s lifeless head dangles at my belt. A dark creeper I met at the Clean Sheets Inn said he used to work for Skuld until the failed orc invasion, but left when Skuld started to take an interest in harvesting organs. He didn’t know where Skuld was, but said he’d heard her talk about a Tradetown almshouse called the Happy Beggar. I’ve asked questions at the poorhouse, but have come away with nothing but blank stares and incomprehension from the old folks who run it. They seem kindly and trustworthy, but oblivious. If there is wrongdoing, I doubt they know about it. Let me accompany you to the Happy Beggar. My sword will be at your disposal should you penetrate whatever secret this poorhouse has to offer.”