After pushing past a slovenly guard trying to extol a bribe, the party sees that Cambria is in terrible shape. A few ragged individuals watch them warily from the shadows. One even wears the tattered rags of a noble. Durth presses on and leads the party to Jarvis.
Jarvis, surprised to see them, asks them about their disappearance and about Rekton. When the party is unable to elaborate, he asks them if they have been to the Tree. They show him their marks. He gets excited and says that with them here he should be able to put his plans in motion.
“I’ll be blunt,” Jarvis says. “I need you. The longer this goes on, the more the people of my city starve and suffer. We can go about this in two ways: either you can volunteer to help me and you will be rewarded upon completion of the task, or I can use the Blood Contract on you for this. You will be forced to do it, but payment of that debt will be your reward. How do you want to do this?” The party volunteers for the reward.
“Excellent,” Jarvis continues. “Elise has a confidant working for her that we believe to be her right hand man. The problem is, we don’t know anything about him. His ability to remain hidden under even my scrutiny has been quite difficult for us. We only have two things on him: the first is his moniker that his minions use: The Grey Man. Clever, I know. The second is that he will be at one of their manufacturing warehouses a few hours from now. This is a new warehouse, so we don’t have any detailed maps or schematics of the area, save for one thing: there is a back entrance that leads into a collapsed part of the cellar. Through there, you can access the storm drains which will take you into the middle of the warehouse. It will be tough to get through there unseen, but MUCH easier than any other entrance we’ve seen.” He turns to Daniela. “You will not be accompanying them; you know what I need you to do.” At this, Durth steps in, saying “I’m going with her.” Jarvis nods his assent.
The party heads out. They make it to the cellar and into the storm drains without raising any alarm. From the drain they can see up into the warehouse where dozens of workers go about their tasks. They overhear a few mumble about when “the boss” is coming by, so the party decides to wait. A few hours pass before they hear the whispers and the commotion above them. Peering through the grate they can just make out the head of a figure hooded in grey heading off down a side passage, accompanied by a small entourage.
After waiting for the hubbub to die down, Xull’ree creates the ghost sound of a fire. The workers hear it and slowly begin to panic, looking for the source of the noise. Then he jumps up through the grate and quickly starts a real fire. Amidst the chaos, the party slips into the side passage to pursue the Grey Man.
[Music: Arabesque (Instrumental) – Nightwish]
The passage turns into a tunnel of strange design. The party overhears the patter of footsteps that sound like they belong to children. Suddenly a strange gas bombards them. Most of them seem to come out of it unfazed, but Samuel and Brieck begin acting strange. Samuel simply looks at the others in shock, and a creepy smile begins to curve his lips, but he does nothing else. Brieck, on the other hand, begins to hit on Arrow, professing his love for “her”. What the party doesn’t know is that Samuel and Brieck now see the others as beautiful versions of the opposite gender.
Pressing on, Brieck gets caught in a trap of some oilish miasma. Arrow goes to help him, but gets trapped as well. From across the room, a high-pitched voice squeals from a strange panel on the wall “Hey! You guys! You’re in our oil quicksand! If you want us to let you out before you drown, one of you has to kill the other one!” It is immediately followed by child-like squeals of laughter (though these are clearly not human children). After exchanging nods, Arrow lets loose an arrow into the muck and Brieck screams and falls limp. “You killed him! You bastard!” the rest of the party screams. The creatures buy the bluff and they hear a lever being pulled. Nothing happens. “Oh well, I guess it won’t work. Thanks for doing it anyways!” More squeals of laughter. After frantically and unsuccessfully finding a way to escape, Brieck is up to his chin in it when his feet hit solid stone. The voices being shrieking.
“You idiot! I said dig it two-person deep!”
“We did! We dug it out as deep as two of us!”
“Not us! They’re a lot bigger than us! Two of THEM!”
sounds of slapping and squealing
The party pulls them out Brieck and Arrow as Brieck begins lamenting that he might have died before showing Arrow how true his love for “her” is. Zak and Samuel press ahead as a kobold appears from a trap door in the ceiling above them and hoses them down in oil, laughing and disappearing back into the hole. Wiping their eyes, they see a strange light at the end of the tunnel ahead of them. A kobold appears, wearing a thick chain vest, a spiked hat, some roller skates and is sporting a stogie in the corner of his mouth. He reaches behind him and pulls out two torches. He looks at the oil-soaked party and smiles.
[Music: Chariots of Fire opening theme]
Time seems to slow as he begins skating towards them. In panic, Arrow lets loose a shot, but between the oil soaking his bow messing up his aim and the chain vest, the kobold keeps coming. Xull’ree lets loose a barrage of Magic Missiles that blasts one of the torches his hand. Arrow gets off one final shot into his neck, but the kobold goes down throwing his torch at the now very close party. … He misses!
In the next room the tunnel opens up to a wider chamber with a locked door on the end. As the party approaches the door, the walls recede and a horde of rust monsters appear! Furiously laying waste to the monsters—with fire, fist and steel—the party stands in the middle of a gory pile of…kittens! They were not rust monsters at all! Arrow stoops down a picks up two of their bodies, overcome with grief and what he has wrought. Just then, the door opens as three more kobolds appear, each carrying an armload of lit grenades.
“I regret nothing!” the first one squeaks.
“I immediately regret this decision!” the second one squeals.
“…HUGS!” the third one shrieks.
[Music: Yakety Sax – performed by Boots Randolph]
The party scrambles. Except for Arrow, who is obliviously lost in the kittens. The first kobold explodes when no one is near. The second one manages to corner Zak, who runs up to punt him away. He succeeds in doing so, but the grenades are dropped and go off. Zak erupts in flames and cries for help. Samuel runs over to put out the flames, forgetting that he, too, is soaked in oil. Samuel erupts in flames and cries for help.
After dousing them, the party presses on. In the next room, the ceiling opens up and they can see daylight coming down a long vertical shaft. In the distance, they see 10 shapes dropping in at incredible speed.
[Music: Flight of the Valkyries]
As the shapes approach the ground, large sheets sprout from their backpacks as they land on the ground, some of them spraining their ankles or breaking their legs on impact. Kobolds. Armed to the teeth. After nine of them land, the last one plummets headfirst into the ground screaming. The other nine look on in horror. Two seconds later, its parachute deploys. The remaining nine look at the party. All of the injured kobolds’ legs regenerate completely, and they seem emboldened—strengthened—somehow, as if by magic. As the fight progresses, each time one of them is killed, the remaining ones are healed and bolstered by this strange arcane bond they share. When only one remains standing, an unusual stillness seems to freeze everything in place and time itself. Light warps around him as he changes. With energy seeping from him like an overflowing container, he proclaims “I have achieved enlightenment! I am a part of the fabric of the universe, which now bends to my will! I have become a GOD!”
“… … … Welp, see ya.” He disappears. Utterly at a loss for words, the party presses on.
As they enter the last room, they see through the stacks of boxes and crates three figures on the opposite side of the room. Two of them are facing the party: formidable looking bodyguards for the third.
The Grey Man.