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The one with the man in the skull mask

As Yanika made her way along the street, she mused over the happenings of the past days. The streets were busy with people coming from or going to their jobs, peddlers trying to convince people to buy their goods, and street urchins playing around and occasionally trying to lighten people’s purses. After the group had gathered back up in the aftermath of the most recent earthquake, and Yanika had told them about the abandoned inn near the guildhall, they had gone to investigate. They had wanted to do it very cautiously, maybe a bit too cautiously, but it had not prevented a fight breaking out between them and the bronze scouts. And that fight had not gone well. An attempt to isolate a few of the creatures had not worked as they could just burrow through the floor, and Spade, Kayne, Majjid and Aitlas had all gone down. But in the end they had prevailed. The first ten minute incursion into the inn had then led to a few hours of resting for them to recover, before heading down into the tunnels. The tunnel had indeed partially collapsed and they had been forced to crawl through the debris and dust, with the risk of the tunnel further collapsing on top of them and burying them alive. Surprisingly this had gone pretty good, except for Majid who had dislodged a broken beam and as a result had had some rocks rain down on him. But in the end we had gotten true and followed a staircase leading up into the dancehall Maerissa had described.

Yanika stopped at one of the peddlers to buy herself some fruit. She dropped the coins in the man’s hand before moving back into the stream of people. She took a bite of her apple as she recalled the images of the dancehall. It had been human architecture, so must have been built after the dwarves had already been killed and the first human settlement had been here. The room itself had been old but all the decorations had been brand new, which included a center stage with a statue, and a very fancy piano that had been tinkered with so it could play on its own. A quick investigation of the room had revealed a secret passage between two statues of gargoyles, leading into the Black Maze. They had quickly made their way through the tunnels, following a set of tracks, when Majid had pointed out some large weird bat that was looking at them. When he pointed it out, it, and some of its hidden companions swooped down to attack us. The fight was over quickly and when the bats died, they turned into their true selves, quasits. By this time some of them had started feeling the effects of the toxin so moving on quickly was a good idea. The tracks had led to a room a little further down the passage, and after setting off the trap and opening the door, they had found themselves in a gruesome laboratory of sorts. On a table in the center of the room had been the body of Marin, the last person to have disappeared from the guildhall, and a further investigation of the room led to a dungeon where all the other people who had disappeared were being held, luckily, all of them still alive, if somewhat malnourished. As Yanika had set out to unlock all the doors, Spade, who had stayed behind in the room with the body of Marin, got attacked by a red Slaad, which is basically a big red bipedal toad. It proved to be a difficult fight, especially as it was so large and there was little room to maneuver, but they had killed it in the end.

She tossed the remains of her apple in the gutter and cleaned her hands as she reached the shop she had been aiming for. Once inside, Yanika had a food basket made, including some expensive wines, cheezes, fruits and nuts. As she waited for her order to be complete, she thought back on Emine, being happy that she would see the beautiful stern woman again so soon. She would tell her all about what had been happening to her group, the story of how they had gone down into the tunnels and rescued the prisoners. When they had taken them out of the prisons and the red Slaad had been defeated, they had rushed back to the dancehall, taking the body of Marin with them, and Kayne dragging the body of the angry dead toad after him. When they had reached the dancehall, the man in the skull mask had been waiting from them. Our first thought was that we would be hard pressed to fight him here, having already endured two painful fights that day, and all of us feeling the effects of having been in the Black Maze, but the man didn’t seem interested in detaining us, not his prisoners. They had tried questioning him a bit, but other than that he had something to do with the earthquakes and that he had no bad intentions for the city, he was unwilling to share any information. He was willing to just let us, and the prisoners, go though, in return for us stopping our investigation into him. And that would have been the end of it if Kayne had not decided to attack him. So a fight broke out and the first thing the man in the skull mask had done, was animate the statue on the stage, before teleporting away. Now as we were all already wounded and exhausted, this fight did not go well one bit. Everyone except Ace and Yanika had been cut down by the statue, and while Yanika had made sure the others had been all stable, it had been a close call, but in the end, they had prevailed. Yanika, herself badly wounded, had rushed to the guild to get help for her friends and companions.

Once they had been patched up, the only thing left to do was report back to Ravan dox, as their job investigating the disappearances had now been completed. They had even received a bit of extra money before completing it so fast and retrieving most of the workers alive and well. Kayne then had come home with Yanika so he could personally apologize to Estar, while Yanika had crawled into bed, completely exhausted. The next morning the group had gone to the giants to report to them also, and to ask them about the mithril that was deep inside of the mountain, as described by the prisoners they had freed. The giants explained that they considered the mithril to be the lifeblood of their ancestors and that they have an arrangement with the mining guild to not mine it at all. They also agreed to see if they could locate the cavern the prisoners had talked about.

Yanika stopped at the place she had selected for the second date with the woman of her dreams and straightened her hair before heading inside. She had arranged for a balcony overlooking large parts of the city, hoping the view would inspire some more conversation as they enjoyed their wine and food. Only a few moments of waiting passed before Emine showed up, punctual as ever, and Yanika greeted her lovingly, giving the woman a hug and kiss on the cheek before leading her to the location of their date.

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