A goblin ship attacks the merchant vessel as it sails to the island. They try to board but are defeated and the surviving goblins sail away, leaving one of their member on the deck. 2 gold coins and a document are found on the goblin, and given to the captain.
The rest of the trip goes smoothly, and they arrive at the docks of a rough town – Varmburg. Some take notice of the sight of people arriving, but they are mostly interested in a ship arriving.
The PCs meander a ways down the street and come across a fistfight between a human and a half-orc, and stop to watch. There is a small crowd gathered but most citizens are just walking by. The human is on the bad end of the fight, and pulls a dagger. Evol and Luna step in and block the fight, which the half-orc is none to happy with. The half orc draws his long sword and offers to continue, but the human then decides he’s had enough. They convince the half-orc to leave, and brush off the human’s attempts to thank them.
They ask a few in the crowd about who is in charge and who is lawful, and one responds that they may feel more comfortable “that way” (pointing away from the sea) and to talk to Big Joe – because there’s no law in this area.
They arrive on the East side of town to find it well kept, with large gardens and guards on each corner. They announce that they are there to find Big Joe and ..
They are escorted to Big Joe’s house, and Evol uses her detect evil before and during the conversation. One of the two guards and Big Joe have a faint aura.
They inform Big Joe they are there to assist the town and will eliminate him to do that. Big Joe informs them that they have until sundown to leave and invites them in for a drink, which they decline.
They speak to a number of Big Joe’s guards and find that most have only been in town for 2-3 years. They don’t know how long Big Joe has been around.
They head back to town to a tavern they saw – the Rusty Hinge. They talk to the bartender, a jovial half-orc by the name of Aratar, and a few patrons, and find out that nobody will speak against Big Joe because his ears are everywhere. It is well known what sort of person Big Joe is.
They also find that there are a few options for safe places outside of the city. They can go along the coast, to a fishing village, go deeper into the jungle (although that isn’t as safe), or go under the city. Big Joe doesn’t go into the ruins under the city.
As they leave, a human that was sitting alone follows them out. He seems a bit shady, but says that anyone that is going to annoy Big Joe is a friend of his. He directs them to an entrance to the ruins under a mill by the River Tonfor just outside town.
They thank him, and tip him a gold, and head for the mill just about sunset. After a careful search, they find the lever to move the millstone and find a stairway down.
They carefully move down the steps and choose to go right – there are more footsteps that direction. Several paces down the hall is a door. As they approach it, it is flung open by a surprised looking Drow female (Coutra) who promptly shuts it and yells for “Pelim to get over here and take care of these idiots again”
The PCs nervously – but cautiously – ready for what may come through the door. Soon a meek Drow male (Pelim) comes out and shuts the door behind him. He greets them and discusses why they are there. He describes the human that sent them – “Is this him?”, and explains that the human routinely sends armed people to disrupt their family, hoping that they will attack first, perhaps, or just to be annoying.
Coutra grudgingly allows the PCs to stay the night in the living room, and they meet the kids. Soon the drow shut the door to the room so the PCs can sleep through the night while they go about their business. In the morning as far as Coutra is concerned, the PCs can’t be gone soon enough. Pelim tells the PCs of the closest entrance to the underground, under the third house from the edge of the city. He also gives them a bit of background on Big Joe – that he arrived about 5-10 years ago and “took over” from the previous person in charge. The town is more orderly now.
The PCs clear out the basement of that house, which is abandoned, and drop down through a hidden trapdoor into a long hallway.
A bit down the hallway, a spear hits the wall in front of them and a loud voice demands that they surrender their weapons and gold to Guangkou. They refuse, and two large secret doors rise up – one in front of them and one behind – so they are trapped. The fighter falls under heavy damage from being flanked by a rogue and a thug, but not before getting in a few shots of her own. Soon after, the last bandit falls and her comrades run to her side and are able to revive her.
Among the bandit’s things they find a few trinkets, a bracelet with a charm that detects as magic, two divine scrolls, and three scroll cases that appear to be filled with research on the ancient ruins in the island – written from stories and other sources – along with some writings about under the city first hand.
They search the area thoroughly and find a secret door which they break down. They wade through 4 or 5 inches of dust that has no footprints to find an ancient crypt with several sarcophagi in the walls. The carved statues lying on the sarcophagi are different than any race they’ve seen before. They decide not to enter the room, and as they leave they shut the larger secret doors to help protect the area. (The smaller one was broken in the entry attempt.)
The party heads further along the hallway, not stopping at this time to explore side passages. They note that it appears that this used to be basements of houses that were all connected with a main hallway.
Soon they hear voices up ahead, and come upon a wider area that appears to be a sort of Bazaar. There are merchants lined up along the walls with various items including weapons, a few lesser potions, and they can see a room with tables that a few people are sitting and enjoying drinks.
After selling a few trinkets, they gather in the bar and inquire about the person in charge. The bartender, Yahua, directs them to Tirand, a Dwarf in the corner, and lets them know he can help them see the leader Brogan.
Tirand hears them out, and lets them know that Brogan will find them.
One party member gets healed by the cleric in the chapel, who dons a vestment of Pelor (out of several hanging there) for the healing.