What’s so bad about getting involved?
As the Candidates survey the sprawling city below them, they notice a strange vibration coming from Melanie’s bag. They discover that it is her journal that is making such a fuss. They open it and it reads: “Melanie, where are you?“
After all of the deception and manipulations that they have endured over the last month or so, they party did the obvious thing and declined to answer. Instead they hid the book in the ruins and started making plans to get as far away from civilization as possible.
Unfortunately, fate had other plans for them. Before they could depart, a young Kobold female ran up the road being chased by two Humans. The Candidates scared off the attackers and met Zishi who told them that Kobolds had been disappearing from the city for over a month. Despite the concerns of some of the more prudent members of the group, it was decided that they go into Aridan City and try to help the beleaguered Kobolds.
They encountered little difficulty in entering the city unnoticed, but Winter drew the attention of an old beggar who recognized her Gont accent. He asked her if she was a refugee and from him she learned that the Goblinoid army that attacked Hectal had burned the city to the ground. Why they had given up such a strong tactical position and instead decided to head back north into the mountains was a great mystery to all.
Zishi led the companions down into the sewers where they were introduced to her father. Zarsin turned out to be the leader of the Kobolds and he filled the group in on the plight of his people. After much exposition, the Candidates learned that someone had been kidnapping Kobolds. Unfortunately, no one in Aridan City cared enough for the diminutive race for it to be of any concern… except for one person.
Zarsin told the party about how Senator Adara had protected them when her Sewer Reclamation Project threatened to displace their entire community. He urged the group to seek the politician out and tell her about the missing Kobolds. As it turned out, Adara was conveniently going to be at a street festival where the Candidates could possibly gain access to her.
Instead of taking the prime opportunity to practice their social skills, the party instead attempted to lure out the kidnappers by using Zeph as bait. It wasn’t terribly successful at first, but eventually they were able to track down a suspicious pair of humans and subdue them. In a surprising move, Zeph created the alter ego of Zygor, the Kobold God of Vengeance and scared their prisoners enough that they revealed the location of where they were taking the Kobolds that they kidnapped. Feeling newly empowered, and perhaps a bit schizophrenic, Zeph led his friends to free his brethren.
What they discovered was an excavation that was using Kobold slave labor to unearth a buried Ta’Garan. It quickly became apparent that they had encountered a group of Kingsmen who were intent on giving the Warlock King access to Aridan City.
A brutal battle was fought and the Candidates narrowly won the day. Before they could do much, a group of soldiers burst in the room. Their leader, a man named Kestral, revealed himself to be the old man that Winter had encountered numerous times over the last day or so. He claimed to be a part of the King’s intelligence service. Apparently he was smarter than the average person for he put two and two together about the party’s identity and asked them, “_Where is Melanie._”
Who this man is, and what his relationship is to the woman who misled the Candidates so terribly remains to be seen…