The adventure starts with the party looking out over the cliffs of the Isle of Kortos near the Western gates of the City of Absalom. They stare down at their handiwork, a cluster of destroyed barrels floating in the water, their mysterious ashen contents extending like tendrils into the ocean. Suddenly, the man they call 'Understood' has a vision of the tendrils catching fire. As he scans his compatriots they all appear covered in otherworldly flames, wherever they had contact with the barrels. Finally he notes a trail heading Westward through the forests. A trail that could only lead one place, the smuggler's port of Diobel on the West coast of Kortos.
Hando attempts to use Holy Water to wash away the vision of the flames and, according to Understood, it works. He uses two vials of Holy Water to clear the whole troupe.
The group realizes how tired and injured they are, so they head back to the Western gates of the "City at the Center of the World". Hando leads them back to the Ascendent District, home of the temples of the healers and the offices of Captain Arnold. Hando meets with Arnold and debriefs him on the happenings of the night before, the Captain has a scribe take his full description down. He rewards Hando and the team with 100 platinum each.
In the meantime, Ragur has sought some refreshments at a tony establishment know as The Fair Lady. The posh regulars for the brunch menu give him wide berth as he gulps his ale. The rest of the party joins him there and orders food. The order of "meat" seems most popular, although the service is as rude as it is snooty. Arrangements are also made for rooms upstairs, perhaps arranged by the offices of Captain Arnold across the square?
Some of the group notice a rather breathless and put-upon elf, who is armed and bedecked in high garb. The elf gesticulates towards the table and then begins bribing other patrons to leave the establishment. Ragur, who had retired to the bar, manages to procure a 10 gp bribe - resulting in nothing more than another large ale ordered.
The elf, name of Belk, turns out to be merely the harbinger and butler of a gigantic individual in shining plate, one Galindor of the First Guard. Galindor is known to the famous investigator Understood, and has used Understood to investigate occult and paranormal occurrences in the less savory parts of the metropolis. It's hard for the party to envision a brash gentleman such as this in a place like The Puddles or even worse.
Esker's, having enough of this loud fellow, goes to his room, advising over his shoulder "Don't accept his first offer!"
After some brinksmanship and bragging on the part of Galindor, he asks Understood to travel to Diobel and find out the source of mysterious demon powder, and also to bring him back evidence of who is behind its production. He is free with his money, and the party is paid 500 gp each (3000 gp) and a small chest containing an undisclosed amount (GM will provide). These funds are to be used for travel and incidentals. After deliberation, Understood decides on a seaward path, taking a ship to Diobel. Understood ensures that ship has no ties to the Pontfoy family.
The party has some time to buy some healing services, which they find at reasonable rates after some haggling. They also have time to buy reagents and resources. Then they all rest. The next evening, they gather at the docks near the ship. They meet with Cage Gemfinder of The Pathfinder Society. Cage makes clear that he will reward them for any artifacts they may bring back. There are some awkward moments as Ragur recognizes Cage. Although Cage focuses on Ragur's recent rescue by the party, while Ragur remembers his younger days and memories of Cage talking with his old slavemasters and arena trainers. Ragur swears to continue the discussion with the dwarf when there is more time.
Cage also provides Understood with a stolen page of the dockmaster's log, showing that a certain Justin Pontfoy headed to Diobel a few days earlier with "animal stock" in the hold. Cage surmises this means slaves, but it could be sacrifices or other human cargo. Understood takes the page with him.
The trip by sea is uneventful and takes the night. Hando uses his fishing skills to catch 6 fish, kill them with his fists and filet them expertly.
The party finds Diobel has a group of Plague Doctors, wearing distinctive raven-like masks, cloaks and hats, has commandeered the town in an effort to quarantine and "cure" the town of a recent fever plague. The plague sounds horrible, involving skin falling off, bleeding from orifices and burning rash. Understood attempts to diplomatically chat up the dockmaster but the man seems under pressure and afraid, only warning the investigator to "stay away from the tents".
The party splits up their investigation with Lily, Esker and Understood going to check the wagoneers, while Glikk, Ragur and Hando seek out the medical tents.
The group sees the tents, and Hando quickly sneaks into one of the tents, finding several patients with gauze all over their faces and most missing limbs. Blood, stench and flies are everywhere. Hando talks with the one man who still remains conscious. The man pleads for a mercy killing but Hando convinces him that he can instead bring revenge. The man tells Hando that he does not believe the amputations were necessary and that the doctors are not healers but torturers.
Meanwhile the group at the Wagons find out that the new packmaster mentions that his crews have been systematically wiped out by the plague. He's new and not the brightest, seemingly easily manipulated. They also note the Plague Doctors are washing down much of the wagons and the city with barrels of water. Just as they are about to leave, they hear a strange high pitched whistle that seems to echo from the doctor's masks. The doctors around them head towards the tents, and they follow suit.
The whistle has originated from one of the three doctors that noticed Hando as he left the tent. Ragur and Glikk also join in to quickly take out the three doctors visible as on-duty at the tent. But one managed to use a whistle alarm to summon others. Also, a doctor attempted to spray Hando with a gas that his pure body seems to allow him to resist.
Just then, the doctor's reinforcements arrive and all-out combat breaks loose when Ragur taunts their leader into ordering an attack. Vial like grenades fly everywhere and Glikk reveals his new wings and dragon's breath. After a few rounds the party reunites in combat and the doctor's are routed, except for one fellow who runs into the back of the tent, barely escaping the ravenous claws and jaws of Glikk.
As the episode ends, a human scream emits from the mysterious chamber behind the flap at the back of the now-burning tent. And it ends only when an arc of blood splatters the canvas and floor.
XP – The group earned 3000 XP this episode for combat and investigation/role playing.