Thoroughly cowed now, Jerr agrees to take the adventurers on to the warehouse. Continuing
An old male human hobbles up the street, his long staff bearing most of his weight. His wrinkled face tells a tale of many hard years lived in poverty. As he passes an alleyway entrance, he looks up at you and grins, revealing his last few remaining teeth. But even as he opens his mouth as if to speak, a pair of meaty gray arms emerge from the alley entrance and yank him into the darkness.
Kosh tosses a fireball into the alley for some light and and challenges the attackers. A javelin is chucked at her and the fight ensues. The female tiefling acolyte named “Devil Dog” is killed shortly into the fight. Big Gustava, a duergar, enlarges a couple of rounds into the fight and knocks Kosh unconscious. Shortly after becoming bloodied she turns invisible and takes off.
Gard revives Kosh who then goes to help the fallen man.
Kal’s eyes come into focus and he becomes as sober as a priest of Ilmater at sunup. “Their plans are afoot,” he whispers. “Their staff are ready. Their balance sheets are totaled, and that total is grim. They mean to bring the end of all things! You must seek the magic! Only you can stop them! Only you! You … are who again, sorry?”
After this brief statement Kal’s eyes go unfocused again and he starts grinning madly and chattering to himself.
The group check over the fallen tiefling and discover a pair of silver earrings worth 40gp.
Continuing down the street, eventually, the characters spot the sign for Jolly’s Lamp Emporium.
Jolly’s Lamp Emporium is an unassuming, ramshackle shop in the midst of other unassuming, ramshackle shops — including the collapsed warehouse next door. People in nearby shops and apartments peer warily through their shutters as you approach. Next to the warehouse, three members of the Waterdeep City Watch stand guard. No one else is on the street, except a seemingly inebriated halfling who stumbles toward you.
The halfling continues on by, muttering to himself as he goes. A member of the group takes a closer look and decides the inebriated-ness is an act and he’s probably a spy for one of the factions in this part of town.
The three members of the City Watch standing guard at the collapsed warehouse make sure no unauthorized people enter the area. At the same time, they ensure that nothing terrible escapes from the fissure into the city.
The leader of the trio is Captain Mergen Truff (NG female elf veteran), a laconic figure who would rather be doing “real work” than standing here warning off vagrants too foolish to avoid falling into a massive hole in the ground. Her companions are Orvis Torval (N male firbolg guard) and Rosko Bosh (N male halfling guard). Orvis and Rosko are new constables, not the sharpest swords in the armory, and as lazy as wizards who’ve used all their spell slots.
When the characters approach, Captain Truff steps forward, tells them that the area is off-limits, and orders them to move along. When the group states Omin Dran sent them, Truff is clearly relieved, though still not entirely friendly.
The captain sighs. “Took you long enough,” she says. “So let’s get this done so we can get on with our lives.”
She pulls a scroll from a leather pack and squints at its barely legible writing. “So which one of you is Ozgood the Ugly? I need you to sign before you go in. Nothing but paperwork and signatures since the newest Masked Lords got seated on the council, but what can you do?”
Livy promptly points to Garz in group who steps up to sign. They then establish the rest of the names they’re expecting to meet:
Carlot “Squeaky” Wickel
“Great Maul” McTickleton
Mad Haddey Flagon
After a few failed deception skill checks in the group the captain begins to eye them a bit more closely, but relaxes when Garz steps up claiming to be Ozgood and signs the contract.
Chatting up the guards the group discovers:
- The fissure opened beneath the warehouse during the earthquake two days ago. The partially collapsed building has been deemed structurally sound, so it shouldn’t fall into the fissure unless someone inside does something foolish, such as knock down a support beam or bang against the remaining walls.
- The fissure has exposed access to a number of mysterious tunnels beneath the warehouse. It’s not known how long the tunnels have been there, who created them, or what might be lurking within.
- The contract the characters sign is fulfilled only if they investigate and clear every tunnel the fissure exposed. After they finish, a city surveyor will be assigned to map the area, and an engineer needs to assess the integrity of the tunnels to ensure that no further collapses are imminent. If either professional is injured or killed because of negligence on the part of the adventurers, the party and Acquisitions Incorporated can be held liable.
- Two members of the City Watch — Sergeant Ava Teeshe and Constable Yander Boot — descended into the fissure a day earlier to make sure it held nothing dangerous. From the bottom of the sinkhole, they followed an underground passage north. They haven’t been seen or heard from since.
- Sergeant Teeshe is a tall, strapping female human who has seen her share of scuffles and doesn’t back down from a fight. If something took her out, it must be powerful.
- By contrast, Constable Boot is a runty male human, and infamous for his cowardice. However, anything that caught him while he tried to flee must be fast.
- The three guards have been ordered to remain on site until the exploration of the fissure is complete. Captain Truff is clear in articulating her hopes that the adventurers can wrap up the investigation quickly. Every second she spends in this unruly section of Dock Ward grates on her nerves.
The group decides to enter the shop and:
Find the short, rotund proprietor standing behind a rough-hewn counter. Jolly (NE male half-orc thug). The number of lamps in the so-called Lamp Emporium totals exactly six. From the looks of those wares, it’s not clear that any of the lamps actually work.
At first the show owner is incredibly brusque with the group, clearly wanting to get them back out of the shop. Leroy seems to notice something in the shop and passes a signal to the shopkeeper who immediately relaxes and becomes much more chatty. This shop is actually a front for the Xanathar guild. He opens a side door to a storeroom full of many useful items and wares. Inside there is also female half-elf that he introduces as his assistant, but she looks nothing of the sort and seems to be moving stiffly, as if her shoulder is badly injured.
Asked about the earthquake or the fissure beneath the warehouse next door, he says only that he heard the ground shake and felt the warehouse cave in. The tunnels beneath the warehouse were used by thieves at one time, but they were abandoned because of unknown dangers that came up from the darkness below. Jolly has no idea what those dangers might be.
Stocked up with some extra supplies at 2 gp each, the group is ready to begin their exploration…