The party gathered supplies and rested prior to setting out back into the Carlinwood to go after Black Rock and the source of the goblin raids. Since their victory at Greywater Keep, goblin raids have increased across the region. News has spread quickly, especially with Ah-Zhi’s rousing anthem, Rage Flows Like a River. They also took the opportunity to turn some of their loot into money – they sold the tapestries and silver place settings for a grand total of 52 gold crowns.
Htaed handles his new found dubious fame well, but notices that the city watch, the Red Cloaks, are keeping a careful eye on him wherever he goes through town. Joseph Forester met up with the party again to trade information – when he discovered they were going after Black Rock, he indicated that traveling without a guide and perhaps some additional information would be difficult or impossible.
He gave them information on finding Glep, in the Undermarket. Glep was someone whose name they came across before in a letter from the bandit leader, Kainis, to a hobgoblin. The entrance to the Undermarket could be found in the Mole tavern in Neth, guarded by a large man named Magrin. There was a price to enter the Undermarket, however – something stolen must be given freely.
Ah-Zhi tried to cheat by buying a penny candy and passing it off as something he stole from a child, but Magrin ate the candy and said it was not stolen. He offered an alternative – to play the knife game with him. Htaed immediately slammed his hand down, fearless. Magrin put his meaty hand over Htaed’s and began the game. After five stabs at the table, Magrin slammed the knife down hard, severing both men’s right pinky finger. Magrin picked up Htaed’s finger and ate it before regrowing his own. He then waved the half-orc through. The rest realized they could give some of the silver they stole from the goblins at Greywater, and were let in.
Magrin explained the rules before they passed the door:
- No drawn steel
- No stolen blood
- All exchanges are final
- All trades are freely given and freely accepted.
The Undermarket appeared to be an underground cavern with a small village and market built into the walls. A stream ran through the center and a spire, from top to bottom, dominated the center of the cave. A veiled soothsayer beckoned them for their fortunes while a debtor’s auction took place in the market center. A young woman’s beauty was being bid – the final sale was well over 500 gold crowns to an elven woman. Merchants sold stolen and hard to find cargo from across the region.
The soothsayer told fortunes in exchange for offered truths.
- Paz was told he would see his boat again, but not in one piece. He revealed he hated the confines of the mountains which was why he left to become a sailor. The soothsayer was not impressed with his offerings.
- Ah-zhi learned he would receive the fame he deserved, and revealed he was of noble blood and disowned. Also the only woman he ever loved was in love with another woman.
- Zenon learned his father was not in good health and he would see him again. He revealed the reason he left Amara was because he did not agree with the religious beliefs of his clan and he doubted the power of the entity they worshipped.
- Ser Archibald and Htaed were not interested, although the woman warned Htaed that his blood would find him. He shrugged the warning off.
They finally went to the spire to meet Glep. Glep was some sort of dark fey goblin who knew more about them than the group did about him. He offered help in exchange for something he wanted.
After much questioning, they agreed to return the obsidian dagger in the possession of Kainis in exchange for a way to find him. He gave them a small box with a obsidian needle floating in shadow. He told them it would lead the way to black rock, but not to open the box in direct sunlight. When the group asked about the consequences of breaking the deal, Glep told them that deals are sacred in the Undermarket and they would make enemies of the market and the fey by failing to live up to the bargain.
The group left the Undermarket and, once back in Neth, met with Joseph Forester once again. He told them that a guide to the deep forest would help them avoid some of the deadlier areas and offered to find them one. He returned with a goblin from a local tribe named Pek. Pek hated Kainis and his clan of hobgoblins and was happy leading the party to find and kill him.
The party set out on the river, winding through the narrow channels of the various rivers in Carlinwood. After several nights sailing, including besting harpies and a manticore, the group finally beached their craft and made camp before making the final journey overland to the looming spire of Black Rock.