Following the successful navigation of the fortress of Raven’s Watch, the heroes of Sandpoint returned home to bandage bruises, polish their gear and trade stories and relax in the company of friends. After a short rest, Zephus again bid the coastal hamlet a fond farewell and rode for Westgate to report back to the Radiant Heart of his findings and receive his next assignment. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew took the time to hone their own skills, Set improving his footwork and gaining further knowledge of the wilds through a week-long sojourn, became able to move much more swiftly to aid in his marksmanship skills and also learned to survive comfortably in harsh environs with little more than the clothes on his back, while also perfecting his ability to hunt creatures that preferred to make their lairs deep in the earth. Nero practiced honing his senses to detect traps and also made use of some good natured drunks at the Rusty Dragon to become better at the art of sneak attacking unwitting foes. Elsbeth, through meditation and study, became more in tune with the power of the Morninglord, gaining a finer understanding of the nature of his magic and allowing the flow of divine energies through her person to occur more naturally which vastly increased her healing capabilities.
A traveling caravan also passed through town at this time, bringing the joys and games usually only found in the big city to a town grateful for a chance to engage in mirth and whimsy, even if only for a day’s time. At this point, Iseri was approached by the caravan’s leader: a particularly verbose gnome in an exquisite crimson cloak. He stated that he was acting as an informal ‘talent scout’ for Caites of the Swift-Fingers, the current leader of a band of thieves known as the Laughing Knives and that a fair sum of cash was promised to those enterprising enough to travel with them to the city of Teziir and make themselves known. Iseri, never being one to turn down a chance for more wealth took the job and also convinced Sumak to come along and provide extra protection. During the 5 day journey, the caravan experienced a slight hiccup and was attacked by wolves. However, Lady Luck seemed to smile on the 2 adventurers as they dispatched the beasts with almost disdainful ease. Arriving in Teziir, the carnival parked itself at the Lucky Drunkard tavern, where after an evening of food, wine and song, Iseri and Sumak were able to meet their new employer. Setting down to a meeting table in a hidden back room inside the tavern, Iseri and Sumak were laid out the parameters for success and payment. A schooner belonging to the Zhentarim mercenary army would be passing through port tonight with a special shipment rumored to be placed under heavy guard by the Cult of the Dragon. Seeking to cause a little mayhem and perhaps delve deeper into the Cult’s latest plots, Caites requested that the ship be boarded and anything of value brought back to him as quickly and quietly as possible. The duo agreed and were given directions to the docks as the late hour approached.
As the team made their way quietly along the docks, they laid eyes on a magnificent black schooner covered in black lacquer and trimmed with gold. 4 Zhentarim guards armored in black full plate and wearing skull shaped helms now stood guard by a single zip line, which allowed the ship to stay out to water in case a quick getaway was needed, with 2 rogues moving artfully back and forth unloading goods. Sumak created a distraction for a pair of the guards by tossing a rancid ham into the water nearby whilst Iseri snuck up from the opposite side. Seeking to find a way to create a further distraction, the paladin then used his flint and steel to light a pile of nearby crates to draw the other guards away, while Iseri used her crossbow to disturb some highly volatile casks of liquor which created a small bomb rendering 2 of the guards senseless for a short period. Making her way up the line, the rogue managed to get to the crow’s nest, where she was pounced on by a hooded figure with a massive schnoz and a poisoned stiletto blade. As the two fenced above, Sumak drew down on the 2 Zhent guardsmen. The battle proved to be vicious, these were no simpleton goblins or common hired thugs and only divine grace and Sumak’s armor and size saved him from being hacked to bits. Iseri bested her attacker and pierced his throat with her shock rapier. Looking down, she could see a Zhent wizard looking about furtively, trying to determine whether to cut the line and flee or stay and finish the job. The rogue happened to notice that the fool had placed himself in front of some very unstable boxes and that with just enough force, he would no longer be a problem. Meanwhile, Sumak had begun to lose more and more ground against the heavily armed Zhent fighters and had attempted to flee into the waters to gain cover. To his shock and dismay, there were no undercrofts in which to hide himself. It appeared as though the docks were crafted from a single piece of solid stone and while the paladin struggled to stay afloat in heavy gear, the mercenaries closed in for the kill. Determining that he should at least take one with him, the mighty half-orc seized one by the legs as they came to the docks edge to pepper him with arrows. It might have been the end at that moment, but for the timely arrival of Caites, who hamstrung one guard while tilting the other into the briny depths. As he helped the drenched paladin onto the dockside he sputtered incredulously “THIS is what you lot call a QUIET job!?!?”
Iseri’s plans had found a snag as well. She hoped to use the natural rhythm of the ship’s movements to aid her in toppling the unsteady crates but timing seemed to go against her at every turn and she was almost left at the mercy of the wizard’s magic. The clamoring of the town guard put an end to their battle as the wizard decided to cut his losses and make his escape. Iseri repaid his magical assault by lighting his cargo aflame and leaping into the water, relishing the song of his curses as she swam for the docks. The group was able to use the town guard’s arrest of the Zhentarim to their advantage: Sumak was tended to by the city patrol while Caites and Iseri made their way back to the tavern. Over a warm cup of cheer the next morning Caites found himself possessed of a good humor, and gave the 2 half of their promised price since they were unable to secure any goods or incriminating evidence, but thoroughly humiliated the spies of the Black Network. As a special reward for Iseri (as well as a possible enticement for future jobs) Caites bestowed the skeleton key of Ramsay Rotjaw. An unusual totem thats tip was shaped in the end of a small, skeletal hand. This tool was enchanted with a Knock spell that could be used twice per day. Very handy in a tight spot. Bidding them farewell, Caites sent the 2 back on their way with a small merchant’s caravan, wishing them well wherever they may go.