MAGICAL, AWESOME, AND NOT HERE
Following the tracks of the monsters, which seemed to have passed Mark off to a set of more normal escorts, the heroes found themselves back in Heron’s Gate. They were approached by Jiselle, who offered to add a couple members to their rescue party. And so did the heroes meet Markus the Jedi warrior (Psion/Swordmage) and Skamos the Teifling Paladin Warlord.
Deciding Mikal was likely moved through the slave trade, they contacted an underground gang/club boss, Korlan the Goliath. Entering the underground club, Markus caught Korlan’s attention by lifting his chair over telekinetically, Markus, Skamos and Kindulas were invited to speak with him upstairs. They learned that there was a large slave trading operation run by the Darkferns, now that the Silverferns had competitors.
Meanwhile, Jade was keeping an eye a mysterious cloaked figure, while Grey was keeping his eyes on Korlan’s strippers. Grey was led outside by the cloaked figure, a young woman, who attempted to seduce him. Drunk at this point, Grey misread her flirtations. Failing to seduce her target the woman sedated him instead, and began to carry him off. But Jade was not far behind, and managed to restrain the kidnapper.
As it turned out, she was a noble’s daughter and a rapist. But from her the heroes got a lead on a black market shop, as well as 1,000 gold by trading her to Korlan for ransom purposes. At the black market shop, where everything was allegedly Magical, Awesome and Here, according to the salesman Stan, they found a gnome slave trader who recognized the description of Mikal. He was being moved tonight, but beyond that the trader didn’t know; he was merely a storefront, effectively.
Their next lead was the information broker Lyra, who was willing to tell them where to find their friend in exchange for their tales of the Eladrin Psion. Beginning their story, she seemed, like everyone else, not to believe their tale about the mind-controlling plant, but Kindulas could see she found the tale almost familiar, that she had heard hints of this before. And so it was true that she believed the tales of their exploits, and in return informed them that their friend was on a boat with green and red stitched sails, and that it was leaving for Aurixan in half an hour. It must be noted, however, that they also agreed to find for her a black book marked with a dragon’s claw and eye.
To make a long story short, a story including summoning a horse into a crowd, they missed the boat. But they were not defeated—in fact, this was likely a turn for the better, as they would not be boarding the boat within the watch of guards who viewed them as mass murderers. Instead, they returned to the flailing-armed Stan to purchase a ship. Short on gold, the party made a 2,500 gold down payment and sailed off in the Devil Ray after their beloved paladin.
Upon entering the merchant city of, Aurixan, where the only rule was ‘don’t impede business or anger the dragon,’ they docked just across from their target boat and quickly slaughtered half its guards, who promptly surrendered. The guards claimed that
a) Their paladin had been on their boat, but was taken to the city.
b) Please don’t kill us
c) They were not the first party to assault their boat; there was another group of a gnome, a dragonborn, and a human with waving arms who had previously assaulted them.
d) Please don’t kill us
Searching the ship, they discovered Mikal was indeed gone, but they did manage to discover a hidden mark on the back of one guard’s hand, who had been trying to scrape off that part of his skin. He explained that the mark was given to him by a dragon born with a certain dead appearance, specifically his uneven scales, though before he could say much more his throat was pierced by an arcane ray, the caster being another of the guards, who then promptly slew herself. None of the other guards had this mark. With an array of new mysteries to ponder, they were off to find Mikal within the justice-free city of the merchant dragon.