Earthday, Harvester 13, 552 CY (50 AN)
Croitus awakens and begins dressing and preparing for his day when there is a knock at the safehouse door. He answers it to see a burly minotaur who indicates that Scarlet Jax — presumably the red-haired half-elf woman he met last evening — wishes to speak with him at the Troll and Fish. He arranges himself, hides in the waiting cart, and goes.
Arriving at the Troll and Fish, he enters through a rear entrance. Among the gangsters and sailors is an out-of-place, well-dressed man. Jax explains that he paid more than Croitus to find and speak with him, so she brought Croitus here. Her goliath bodyguard leads Croitus and the man to a back room to speak.
The man introduces himself as Mr. Monkshood, and indicates he has sought out Croitus on behalf of an unnamed client. This client appreciates the things Croitus and his associates can do, and wishes to recruit them. Mr. Monkshood recites a litany of their histories and accomplishments, noting that Croitus’ background is not well known to his client. He notes that Ashraf and Resh both come from a kobold tribe in the Hoarfrost Ridge (although not the Blizzardtalon tribe, apparently) and they are owned by Lady Minodora Anghelescu, who has apparently been purchasing kobold slaves nearly exclusively. Khuna, also known as Dhavita, was a house slave owned by Lord Geoffrey Weogora II and Lady Marguerite Weogora, although she was apparently sent to the gladiator pits as Marguerite was distracted by her, apparently being a “mirror-polisher,” as he says. The fighter known as Nobody apparently has an old bill of sale listing her as “Dar’amaraltria,” and she is currently owned by the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks; she is apparently one of many gladiators who has lost her identity in the pits. Southie was apparently birthed into the pits and is currently owned by Lord Revaz de Rais, although Southie has apparently killed every messenger sent by Lord de Rais, and so has never met his master.
Mr. Monkshood continues, saying his client seems to think the Peacocks are on their way out, and that they will collapse within the next year. He says that his client wishes to retain people of the caliber of Croitus’ associates. As such, he is curious if Croitus can retrieve his associates from the gladiator pits, assuming they do not successfully escape in the meantime; following their failed escape attempt, they are apparently still alive, and Mr. Monkshood’s client wishes to recruit them. The client has a couple of jobs for Croitus and his associates, and is willing to pay before letting them go about their business. The client is also willing to pay in information, giving information regarding the whereabouts of everyone’s slave masters.
If Croitus requires assistance in the prison break, Mr. Monkshood’s client also has three people he is willing to pay Croitus for recruiting. Two of them — an eladrin named Daeron Eregmegil and a human known only as “The Wolf” — are a pair of lovers stealing from the minor street gangs in the slums, although they have recently touched at the periphery of Peacock operations. They might be willing to join the client’s operation if they are convinced the Peacocks are coming for them. Additionally, there is a burglar working the upper class districts known as La Grande Énigme whose expertise might be useful. Monkshood’s client is willing to pay 1,000 gp a head for each one recruited to the cause, and 500 gp a head for each of Croitus’ associates rescued from the gladiator pits.
Croitus agrees to these terms.
Once left to his own devices, Croitus takes to the sewers, delving deep enough to encounter the truly monstrous dire rats of the deep sewers. Trying to capture, kill, and reanimate one, he is swarmed by them and leaps into the water to be free of them. However, he dives so deeply that he is caught in the suction of a sewer pipe. Unable to scrabble free, he is sucked into the pipe sent down it for several minutes before being deposited in an underground stream. Unable to see, he just allows the current to carry him. Passing by phosphorescent mushrooms, he emerges from the stream to break off a piece of mushroom to carry with him and to light the way. The current carries him to an underground lake, where an ancient intelligence makes telepathic contact with Croitus and tries to force its way into his mind. Croitus is able to repel the assault, causing the thing to request his capture. He swiftly swims away, avoiding strange tendrils in the river and the cast of a net before he disappears downriver.
He passes by loincloth-clad dark elves fishing the river. They make an attempt to capture the passing crocodile-man with spears and nets, but he is too swift, dodging their fishing implements. He continues down river further before emerging into a surface river, amidst the rolling Sorrowfell Plains. Avoiding the road on the far side of the river, he goes into the tall grass to hide and sun himself for nearly an hour before making the long trek back to Scandshar.
Meanwhile, Ashraf, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, and Southie awaken one by one in their dark cells. With no clothes, mattresses, or equipment, it has been an uncomfortable evening. Many start probing their surroundings, but finding no weaknesses, they settle in to plot and plan. Khuna starts singing, and at this, Nobody is roused to act. She stretches and prepares herself, before delivering a swift kick to the door, cracking the hinges and sending the heavy metal door spilling into the corridor. Despite straining the muscles in her leg, she’s free and mobile, rushing out into the hall to engage the guards. Two start firing arrows at her while the other four advance with spears; as one lunges forward, she grabs his spear and flings him at another guard. The two collapse in a heap and do not awaken. She then wheels on the two guards and advances. Hearing what’s happening outside, Khuna changes her song into a war chant while Southie starts beating on his door. Despite being grazed by several arrows and spear points, and even taking an arrow to the shoulder, Nobody manages to take down the two guards before rushing back to what she presumes to be Southie’s cell and prying open the door with her spear. Using the door as cover, she crouches and waits as Southie exits. As he does, Nobody dives for the fallen guards, grabs their keys, and starts opening Khuna’s cell. The guards, seeing Southie, scream and try to escape, but to no avail — they trip and fall as Southie rushes forward. One pierces his own throat with his dagger rather than face Southie, while the other attempts to get away as Southie falls upon him. Southie asks if he prays to any gods, and when the man indicates he does, Southie says he’ll wait. The man starts quietly praying; Southie finally says he doesn’t feel anything, and breaks the man’s neck.
Having acquired keys, Southie sets about unlocking the doors on this level. After finding Ashraf and Resh, they also find another gladiator, a female dragonborn and apparent sorceress. As Khuna treats Nobody’s injuries, the rest equip themselves with clothes, weapons, and armor. When Nobody is back to fighting shape, Khuna similarly arms herself with clothes, a shield, and a dagger. Nobody, always faster unencumbered, merely takes a spear.
As the magic doors do not open for the group, Southie attempts to bypass the doors by carving out a hollow in one of the guard’s corpses and wearing him as a suit. The door does not fall for this trick, but as Southie is attempting to reason with it, it opens as a small contingent of guards enters. They are shocked to see Southie, and are quickly overwhelmed; however, knowing that the doors recognize the guards, they spare them, holding them at spearpoint and forcing them down the corridor. The magic doors part, and when the group is certain they are where they wish to be, they quickly slay the guardsmen.
The group finds Croitus’ cell, and finds it boarded up. They pry off the boards and enter to find the hole in his cell has been bricked shut. Ashraf and Southie get to work prying out the mortar while Khuna decides she wishes to retrieve the medical supplies in her cell. Resh decides to keep watch for Ashraf and Southie while Nobody follows Khuna. As they try to access Khuna’s cell, they come across a contingent of guardsmen and Nobody engages them with her spear. Hearing the commotion, Resh approaches and begins pinning the guards down with arrows. As they fall one by one, the last turns to flee, but is caught by one of Resh’s arrows and slain by Nobody’s spear.
Khuna decides that attempting to acquire her materials is more trouble than it is worth, so the group returns to Croitus’ cell. Finding that Ashraf and Southie are finished, the group slides one by one into the slimy tunnel.
After nearly an hour, they emerge into the sewers. Noting claw markings on the walls, they follow them to a long-disused access tunnel. Seeing that the claw marks also exited the tunnel, they follow them until they come to a ladder leading to the street. The group decides to wait behind while Khuna scouts ahead. The dragonborn decides to accompany, and the rest will wait in the sewers, waiting for a signal.
Khuna and the dragonborn arrive on the street, realizing they are in the Temphill district. They garner a few odd looks but in general are not immediately recognizable as escaped gladiators. The pair ducks into an alley and the dragonborn introduces herself as Thava. As they shed their armor and weapons and stash them, Khuna explains that there is a nearby temple to Erathis that may grant them sanctuary. At the very least, it is worth a try.
Having safety stowed their gear, the pair creeps through back alleys until they reach the door of the Temple of the Enlightened Metropolis. Khuna takes a deep breath and knocks.
Meanwhile, as ten or fifteen minutes have passed without word, Southie grows restless. He throws aside the manhole cover and beckons the others to follow onto the street.