Returning to Lepidstadt to gather information on “Vorkstag and Grine” the party found the city in a state of chaos. A large mob had formed outside of the city’s courthouse demanding the end of the farce of a trial. Fired up on anger and strong cider, the mob had gathered torches and other improvised weapons and marched on the courthouse demanding that the Beast be burnt alive in the Punishing Man (the large wooden man being built in the centre of town) so that justice would be done.
It was at this point that the party met Baelor Raventooth, a drifter of an adventurer, who had recently wandered into town looking for more coin. Taking this as an opportunity to get in on some of the action, he joined the party in dispersing the crowd. At first they attempted reason, but when that failed the party dispatched a few of the ringleaders and Simkin dispersed the rest of the crowd by frighting (and not harming them) with a well placed fireball. With the threat dealt with for now, the courthouse guards that remained gave many thanks (given that they were way over their heads), and offered up the information the party had been searching for – that Vorkstag (a human) and Grine (a gnome) were well-respected merchants who run a a mundane chemical factory, Vorkstag and Grine’s Chymic Works. One of the guards, who lived in the area of the plant, also stated that he couldn’t recall ever seeing workers entering or leaving the plant, an how he’s always found that particularly odd. With this lead, and Baelor in tow, they headed off for the industrial area of town.
It was not far into the industrial district before the party was able to see the tall iron chimney of their destination belching yellow clouds into the sky, as well as a tower topped by a lightning rod. As they got closer they were assaulted by acrid fumes coming from the chimney, identified by the party as a by-product of acid and bleach production. With a few more blocks, the (relatively) small brick factory was now right before them. Casing the place, they found the only entrance of the building to be on the other side of a courtyard surrounded by twenty-foot-high stone wall, topped with broken glass. Entry into the courtyard was accessible only via a large courtyard gate, over which hung a sign proudly proclaiming “Vorkstag and Grine, Chymic Works.” Unsurprisingly, the gate was barred.
Smashing the gate open they were immediately confronted by the first actual sign that the place wasn’t on the level, as out of dog house in the courtyard came a beast that appeared to have been stitched back together from multiple hounds. While chained to its kennel in the south-east corner of the courtyard with a 20-foot-long chain, it easily engaged the party in combat as their ranged options were limited in the small space that made up the courtyard. A fierce battle ensued.
Once the beast was dispatched, they assessed their options – a locked door to the north, double doors to the east open, and above those a large set of doors on the second floor of the building. Thinking the eastern doors would be the best solution, given that they were unlocked, they opened them only to find a chamber containing numerous boxes, crates, and bales of straw for packing. Packing these boxes were three creatures identified as Mongrelmen, who immediately attacked the party yelling about “trespassing”. Fortunately these creatures were easier to deal with than the flesh golem dog in the courtyard, the party were soon able to get back to searching. While a pair of double doors lead east from this room, only to open into some stables which proved to be a dead end. Returning to the storage room, they began to crack open the boxes and found them to hold (in total): 12 vials of alchemist’s fire, 12 vials of liquid ice, 10 smoke pellets, 10 smokesticks, and six bottles of bleach with the same labels as the one found in the Sanctuary.
Returning to the courtyard, Riska set about picking the lock of the main entrance, and taking her time she was able to pop it. Opening the door they found themselves stepping into a large chamber that occupied the whole side of the building and onto a stone platform 15 feet above a floor below with a roof high above. On the floor below sat seven iron vats, each ten feet across, occupying the majority of floor space of the room. Each vat was bubbling from the heat provided by the furnaces heating them from below, causing the air in the chamber to be nauseatingly cloying and acidic. At ground floor level a series of planks (each just under a foot wide) had been laid across the vats to allow passage to a ladder that lead to an iron walkway on the level above. Two ladders also allowed access from the planks to the floor below.
While quietly observing they noted eight mongrelmen wearing cloth breathing masks attend the vats in this chamber – each heavily scarred by acid, making them even more horrid in appearance than most. Of the eight, three were clearly trusted with security as the seemed to be patrolling the room while the others directly worked the vats (although given the scars it was likely that this was a rotational duty). Just as they were descend the ladder to the floor below they were noticed by a small red-haired humanoid that had quietly exited onto the iron walkway above. Ordering the mongrelmen to deal with the intruders, the three responsible for security set on the party, and once it was clear that his guards would not prevail the red haired man retreated to one of the rooms off the walkway above. With the three security dispatched, the remaining five begged to be set free, and the party obliged.
At this point, the party was faced with having to make their way across the narrow planks so that they could climb to the walkway above, knowing full well that the small humanoid, who they assumed was Grine given the description they were given, would be expecting them. Taking their time (and praying to the various gods that Grine wasn’t about to come back and start shooting at them) they made their way to ladder and up onto the iron walkway. There they found two doors leading east and one leading south. Opening the central door, they were immediately plunged into darkness and attacked by an unseen foe. What followed was much chaos, but fortunately the party was able to subdue Grine and miraculously without killing him in the process so they could question him – and question him they did, but got little in the response to threats and lacking any further evidence they left him tied up and continued to explore.
With the craziness of combat out of the way they could only now take in their surroundings, finding the room they entered to be as much an abattoir as a bedchamber. It contained not only a four-poster bed, but also numerous workbenches and alchemical gear. The walls were lined with shelves and strange looking objects in jars of liquid and a ladder provided access to a trapdoor in the ceiling.. Bits of rags littered the floor, and the air was even heavier than in the room with the vats – filled with the stench of spoiled food mixed with acrid chemicals. Among this room packed with curios, medical oddities, and the entire set up for a proper alchemist’s lab they found four vials of antitoxin and in on of the larger bell jars full of a liquid, which was deduced to be acid, the found a small golden key. Underneath the bed they found the chest the key belonged to. Setting Riska on it, she disabled not only the lock, but also the dust trap attached to it. Inside the chest they found 200 gp, four more vials of antitoxin, and a small purple velvet purse containing 4 small, cloudy diamonds.
While this was going on, Baelor had wandered off back to the walkway and into the room to the south. Therein he found a room overlooking the courtyard containing a retractable crane made of timber and iron crane, able to raise and lower goods from wagons below through a sliding wooden door. At the time of his entry the room contained only a few wooden boxes that he promptly searched, finding most of them full of nothing but straw. A few of them did contain some things of value: 12 vials of acid, 12 vials of nushadir, five tanglefoot bags, and three thunderstones. Returning to the rest of the party he made use of his masterwork cuffs and chained up Grine in the storage room.
With Grine bound, they began to explore the room above Grine’s via the ladder and found themselves in a room filled with strange art and artifacts from distant lands, and another ladder leading upwards could be spotted across the room moments before they were attacked by a pair of red imp-like creatures. After dispatching them the party searched the room and among the mess of antiquities they found the following items of value: an ebony tribal mask from the Mwangi Expanse, a silver torc from the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, and a magical mammoth tusk scrimshaw from the Realm of the Mammoth Lords with several spells carved on its surface. The tusk weighed 20 pounds and was found to function as a magic scroll containing the spells bull’s strength, ice storm, and phantom steed.
Following the new ladder upwards, the party set off a trap creating a loud boom stunning both of them as well as another one of the imp-like creatures waiting for them above. Taking advantage of this they disabled the beast quickly, and made their way up into the room and found little more than some boarded up windows. And as such, they went back down to the iron walkway…