Being a member of Morgan Weeg’s Strange and Wonderful show for the next two days is pretty uneventful. As soon as the caravan gets to the main road, you start passing travellers. Ranging from weary souls to armed patrols, the traffic never gets too thick. Some do eyeball the caravan, but none seem to want to mess with it.
The occasional armed patrol, Crimson Fork insignia displayed prominently, is seen “questioning” the occasional traveller or group of travellers, usually ones they outnumber and outgun. Their tactics are brutal and efficient, and often rewarding.
None seem to give a second glance to Weeg’s group. Weeg does mention to you at a quiet point that there are more out than usual.
Soon, the road forks, with a dirt path leading northeast to Char, and the main one continuing east to Soulless, the walled city that sits on the lip of the Ditch like a predator over a fresh kill.
As the caravan heads to Char, Weeg explains to you about the village.
It’s been around almost as long as Soulless, and has the unique pleasure to be the main encampment for indentured servitude.
Soulless has a garrison of fat, lazy guards in Char. They have a large network of mines outside the town, as well as a small penitentiary where all of Soulless’ petty criminals are sent to work off their penance. The mines house a number of forges and has close to 80 workers. Of the 30 guards in the place, about 10 of them are on the bottom half of their life. If someone gets assigned to Char, they’re either close to being terminated, or close to being retired.
Char is a small town of about 300 people; a quaint community that, at first glance, looks like it could be any town in the Empire. But the second glance points out the heavy clouds of soot that hang low above the square stone dwellings’ roofs, and the swirling clouds of ash and cinder that blows constantly from the mine vents to the east of town. Within the town proper, the ambient temperature is about eight degrees higher than the normal.
Due to Char’s close location to a mining facility and it’s ill effects, the people’s physical deformities are rather unique. Instead of the black and scaly patches of skin seen on Weeg’s people, the citizens of Char have a more burnt appearance, ranging from blackened and blistered to fleshy faces reminiscent of partially melted wax.
Char’s residents gather around the caravan, talking excitedly to Weeg and his people in a familiar way. Weeg’s people start to set up camp, and Weeg tells you he will meet up with you later. He has to speak to the officials.
Char has 2 bars, which are The Smelter, and the Buzzard’s Craw.
The Buzzard’s Craw is where most of the older locals go, while The Smelter is where some of the actual mine employees go, as well as some of the guards.
The town is abuzz with news of Weeg’s arrival, and on a quieter note, that the Penitentiary has recently received some fresh ore mongers. About 20 of them came in last night. They were taken right to the pen, and put to work this morning. Apparently there were a dozen extra guards brought along, a full half of those being actual Fork soldiers.
No one has any real details, but gathering information reveals that a dwarf was among the new ore mongers. He was kept under lock and key, along with a couple of humans.
While mingling with the gathering crowd, a half ogre laborer picks a fight with Lucen. During the brawl, Lucen’s Jade Sting insignia shows in the open for a moment.
After Lucen drops the half ogre, Ashen breaks away to look around town. While trying to gain some more info about the prisoners that were just brought in, he notices that there was some hefty divination magic being used. Waiting it out, he finds out who was using the spell. He follows the person, who disappears into the crowd. One fleeting glance was all Ashen needed to identify the newest danger: Willem Greywell.
The Firstborn decide to break into the prison, to see if the dwarf is indeed Akram Halfhand. When they sneak onto the prison grounds, carrying with them a barrel of poisoned ale, they notice that the guards are already half drunk, and seemingly violent.
More investigation shows that the guards have been given beer laced with Khan’s Lament, designed to incite violence. Using this as a distraction, they manage to get into the actual mine. Meeting one of the slaves, a Jade Sting soldier, the Firstborn locate Halfhand, and free more of the Jade Sting soldiers.
The Firstborn, with surprise on their side, manage to decimate the remaining soldiers, along with the score of undead and the controlling cleric.
At the end of this battle, the Firstborn gather with the remaining Jade Sting, and formulate a plan to get them out of the Unclaimed, and to get into Soulless to free Belias.
Willem Greywell, invisible and armed with two potent wands, unleashes a barrage of fireballs upon the party. Willem Greywell, hurling curses and epithets at the party, dies upon Lucen’s sword.
To their sorrow, the Firstborn learn that in the ensuing fiery battle, the remaining Jade Sting soldiers died, along with Torrin’s son, Dorgen. Consumed with grief, Halfhand storms out, attempting to walk cross-country to Soulless to retrieve his ship, and to kill Dorien Ashe, Torrin’s brother and Commander of the Crimson Fork.
The party convinces Halfhand to blend with Weeg’s Travelling show, in order to sneak into Soulless undetected.