Part 1: The Circus Comes To Town

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Welcome to Baldur’s Gate, a veritable nest of rats and vipers clinging to the rocky slopes overlooking the Chionthar River. From their high perches in the Upper City, the local nobles—known as patriars—gaze down with veiled contempt upon the common rabble in the grimy Lower City, which hugs the foggy harbor. The whole of Baldur’s Gate reeks of blood, crime, and opportunity. One can easily fathom why pirates and traders are drawn to this place like flies to a carcass.

Following the river farther east would eventually lead you to Elturel, capital of the holy land of Elturgard—or at least that was the case until a few days ago. The flood of refugees from Elturel has gotten worse since news first arrived that the city has fallen. Everyone is saying Baldur’s Gate is next, but no one truly knows who or what has claimed Elturel.

The patriars pay a mercenary army called the Flaming Fist to protect their interests in Baldur’s Gate, and by extension, the city itself. The Flaming Fist has gained even more power since their charismatic leader, Ulder Ravengard, claimed the title of Grand Duke a few years ago. Apparently, Ravengard is missing. In his absence, the Flaming Fist has sealed the city’s gates to staunch the flow of refugees. No one is allowed in or out.

All of this was brought to your attention shortly after you were drafted by the Flaming Fist to help defend the city. Your orders are to speak to Captain Zodge at the Basilisk Gate, which pierces the city’s eastern wall and takes its name from the various statues that rest in its niches and perch atop its battlements. Unseen beyond the sealed Basilisk Gate, a dirt road stretches through the Outer City slums to the bridge known as Wyrm’s Crossing, then to distant realms beyond.

Dozens of Flaming Fist soldiers are trying to control an angry mob of commoners eager to leave the city. Armed with only a vague description of Captain Zodge—a tall man with long black hair and a leather eye patch—it takes you a while to find him. A fight breaks out between soldiers and commoners, and you finally spot the one-eyed captain as he wades into the fray and begins throwing punches. Just another day in the City of Blood.

Zodge leans into the swings with glee, punishing the refugees he sees as wrong doers and then taking their coin from them. Suddenly a shout goes out as the crowd turns to look at the party. "The circus in town?" Everyone hushes and looks at the strange group gathering around. Zodge approaches the party.

“The refugee crisis,” says Zodge, “has stoked fears that Baldur’s Gate might suffer the same fate as Elturel, of which nothing remains but a hole in the ground, apparently. Our grand duke, Ulder Ravengard, was visiting Elturel on a diplomatic mission when the city was destroyed. Coincidence? I think not.

“The knights of Elturgard call themselves Hellriders. A few of them escaped the destruction and think we’re somehow to blame for Elturel’s downfall. What a bunch of self-righteous rabble-rousers! We’re arresting them on sight, but that’s left us shorthanded to deal with another problem. For that, I need your help.”

Garbagg is not impressed. "We might consider helping you if you stop beating these refugees" he retorts.

"Oh I don't think you understand how this works" says Zodge. "You will help me or I'll string you and your friends up on that gallows over there."

Larissa takes a steps back pulling up her hood and bumps into a man standing behind her in plate mail. She suddenly realises they are blocking her exit.

"Let me explain why you have been conscripted. Baldur’s Gate has long been plagued by followers of the Dead Three—the gods Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul. I thought we had wiped them out, but apparently not. These purveyors of fear and death are taking advantage of the current crisis to commit murder sprees throughout the city. As my appointed deputies in this matter, you’ll have license to kill these wretches on sight. Find their lair, and wipe it out. Eliminate anyone who gets in your way, and don’t worry about collateral damage.

“If you do what I say, I’ll see that you each receive two hundred gold pieces in addition to my gratitude, which is worth considerably more.

“A few blocks from the Basilisk Gate is Elfsong Tavern. A spy named Tarina hangs out there, gathering rumors for the Guild. She owes me a favor, so tell her you work for me. Ask her what she knows about the Dead Three. And, for the love of Balduran, be nice. Tarina has dangerous friends.”

Garbagg is pretty upset but the Thia agrees to do what has been requested. As they are leaving to head towards the tavern Garbagg eyeballs the Captain hoping to catch his eye, walking sideways... and then backwards until they are out of sight.

A ten minute walk later up the street the party see an Inn with some musical notes on it circled by Ivy. They recognise this as the Elfsong Tavern. Standing outside is a huge half-orc woman eyeballing anyone who comes near them.

Rage strides up to the doors and pushes his way in and the rest of the party follows... except Garrbagg. Rage walks up to the counter and plonks his tankard of Gutfire on the counter spilling ale everywhere.

"One Gutfire please!" he says as Larissa comes up behind him. The bartender turns around and says "I don't know if I have any of that ... Miss?"

"No! Down here!" says Rage as he climbs up on a stool.

"Oh! Hello there my short friend. I didn't see you down there,” the barkeep replies.

"This is Gutfire Brew that we make at the monastery I am from. It is world renowned." says Rage.

Alan reaches out and takes a smell of it. "Oooof. No we don't have any of that here." he says.

Rage enquires about what is the drink closest to it.

"I have some Dwarvern Ale, I think that is probably the closest I have. I'm Alan Alyth by the way. Barkeep and owner here at the Elfsong Tavern." He turns around to pour some from a barrel behind the bar. "Now, give this a go."

"Not bad!" says Rage. "I'll take four more for my friends. Wait. Did you say your name is Alan Alyth? Alan, and your surname is Alyth?"

"Four drinks! Yeah, that earns you a story. My surname is Alyth. And my father's surname was Alyth too. Now I think about it, so was my grandfathers. And his father's. And his father's. Actually. Maybe that isn't unusual?" He plonks the Ales on the countertop.

"Thanks very much. I'd love to hear a story!" says Rage.

"No that was the story," replies Alan.

"Oh. Righto.” says Rage.

Larissa in the meantime has opened up a book and is sketching down notes.

"Father's father is an Alyth," she says and she scribbles it down.

"Yes, yes, that's right" says Alan. "It might be easier if you draw a diagram though. Boxes with the names and then arrows. Yes, like that."

"Do you know of someone called Tarina?" asks Rage.

"Oh yeah, she's upstairs playing Baldur's Bones," replied Alan.

In the other corner of the room Thia is examining a floating suit of armour that is by the front door. She reaches over to touch it and as she does it turns to face her menacingly.

"That's Klank!", yells Alan across the room. "I'd not get too close m'lady".

"What is it?" replied Thia.

"He's security here", says Alan.

Meanwhile, Garrbagg approaches the bouncer outside and starts to chat.

"Hey. What are you up to?" he asks her.

"Make sure nothing bad happen to tavern by drinker," she replies.

"Oh yeah sure. So nothing weird going on around here?" he enquires.

"No today," she says.

"Ok, well you enjoy your day," says Garrbagg politely and as he walks away feels a pinch on his bottom. He is confused but flattered. He heads around the corner and looks in a window at the side of the building. Inside he sees a private dining room with a Green Dragon head mounted on the wall.

He keeps moving around the building and finds another door in. He enters and finds himself in a kitchen. One of the chefs in there lets out a small scream as he barges in. He sees a female halfling, a blind male human and another human male who had let out the scream as he entered.

"Hey, sorry. Got a bit lost. I'm looking for someone called Tarina. Any idea where I can find her?" asks Garrbaagg.

"She's upstairs playing cards," replies the halfling.

"Oh. Thanks." he replies and walks through the door into the rest of the inn. He spots Rage and shouts "I found her! She's upstairs!"

Rage shakes his head and Badwalken heads towards the stairs. Rage does his best to intercept him and bring him back to the a table to talk before moving up but in the end he gives in. Rage, Larissa and Badwalken walk upstairs (Larissa insists she needs to document whatever happens) and see a table with four people sitting around it playing a dice game. Rage walks up to a lady at it and offers them some of his Gutfire. She turns it down. Repeatedly. Until he finally gives up.

At this point Thia and Garrbagg come upstairs. Garrbagg and Rage start to get on one another's nerves and attempt to throw one another down the stairs. Both of them fail embarrassingly.

Larissa looks at some of the other people in the room and spots a man writing in a book. She moves over to him excitedly pulling back her hood:

"You are a writer as well?!?!" she exclaims.

"Ahhhhh! Devil!!" shouts the man as he jumps up and backs away. Larissa is deeply hurt and embarrassed.

"Who are you people and why do you keep interrupting our game?" asks the woman that Rage was trying to give a taste of his drink too.

"I'm very sorry," replies Larissa. "We were sent here by a Captain Zodge to find Tarina. She has some information that could help us?"

"I have the information that you need," says Tarina. "But you're going to have to do something for me first. I happen to know there are a bunch of pirates heading here today to end me and I need some help dispatching them. You help me with that and I'll give you the information you need."

The party agrees and Tarina tells them to sit tight. Then suddenly there is ghostly music filling the tavern and a song sings in elvish. None of the other patrons are surprised by it.

Thia understands what it says:

O sing a song of Elturel
Of water, woods, and hill
The sun dawns on her ruddy cliffs
And fields green and still.
This land of long-abiding joy
Home of the strong and brave
Renowned by all, across the realms,
And never once a slave.
O sing a song of Elturel
When foes are at her door
Her fields torn by cloven feet
From some infernal shore.
Arise the mighty Hellriders
Take up your swift, keen swords
Then charge into the hellish fray
And scatter devil hordes.
O sing a song of Elturel
And when the night does fall
Sleep safe beneath Companion’s light
Until the dawn does call.
We’re bound by mortal covenant
That only ends with death
And so we’ll sing of Elturel
Until our final breath.