Once the repairs to Boccob’s Barge were finished, our heroes were ready to once again get underway. Before they could see out this discworld for Xil-ta, however, they had unfinished business on Abeir-Toril: the delivery of the cargo they were hauling to Shoushan in Kuo Te’Lung.
As they were preparing to make way, two people approached the ship. One was a familiar-looking Nkosi: Ra-Jareez. He asked for a job aboard their ship. It seems his irresponsible behavior inspired his own crew to mutiny and depose him as Captain. The other was Gwen Sallas, who came bearing a note from the leader of the Red Knives.
I owe you thanks. I knew some of my people were doing business on the side, but certain members of my organization took our relationship with certain clients too far. I doubt my organization will ever call itself your ally, but there’s no need for us to be enemies.
Unfortunately, Van Sallas had to be sacrificed. The clients those slavers were serving are uncompromising beings and they demanded reparations for their investments. I wish to anger neither one of them. The Illithid already took Brand as payment. However, I am not heartless. To you, I give Gwen Sallas. She understands her brother’s mistakes required consequences. She would fetch a good price among the Suel or if you wish to deal with the Illithid or Neogi or what-have-you, that’s your business.
I won’t insult you with threats we both know would incentivize you to seek “justice,” but I will suggest that perhaps taverns other than the Black Bull would be more suited to spacefarers of your inclination. There are many fine establishments on the Rock that are just as good, arguably better even, than the Black Bull. I encourage you to avail yourselves of their services instead.
— You Don’t Really Need My Name
Prime Blade of the Red Knives
Captain Straxius allowed both of them to join the crew, assigning Ra-Jareez to be a cook and telling the Nkosi that he was responsible for teaching Gwen to be a sailor. They shoved off and got underway.
A few hours later, they made their way down through Toril’s atmosphere and landed in the bay near Kuo Te’Lung. They recognized two dragonships of Shou Lung’s spelljammer fleet and docked in their regular berth. Chouxing, Shoushan’s assistant met them as they disembarked from Boccob’s Barge.
She apologized that Shoushan was unable to meet them himself; he fell ill and returned to his home in a nearby village. As a result, she did not have the money with her to pay for the goods they were offloading. Straxius put a stop to the unloading and inquired how long it would take to get the money.
At least a week.
Feeling their timetable with the Arcane was too pressing to hang around in Kuo Te’Lung for a week or more, they got directions to Shoushan’s home in the nearby village of Huaxi. It was about a day’s walk, so they left Rexor and Kagark to watch over the ship and crew and set out immediately.
The lands near the village were verdant, yet marshy. As they drew close, an giant figure stood astride a bridge crossing a deep river surrounding the village. The oni intoned “None shall pass.” A servant of the three sisters, he was tasked with keeping people in and out of the village. After a failed suggestion, the crew of Boccob’s Barge attacked.
Despite the Oni’s ability to fly, they brought the beast down without too much trouble and proceeded into the village. The amazed villagers directed them to Shoushan’s estate where they found the old man bed-ridden.
He apologized for his illness. When Flint offered aid, the old man rebuffed the dwarf, revealing stone legs. Shoushan had been cursed by the three sisters and village priest’s efforts to remove the curse succeeded only in delaying its progress.
Long ago, Shoushan made a bargain with a hag. He gained the influence he currently enjoyed and was to provide the hag with a child in return. Unfortunately, he believed the hag want him to sire her child. In fact, she wanted a child from the village for herself and her sisters. Shoushan refused and was cursed by the hags.
As he wrapped up his tale, they noticed an odd pendant around the neck of one of the servants: an eye watching them. Straxius suggested she come over and tell them about her master and the pendant. The girl was loyal to Shoushan, however, and told Straxius the hags forced her to wear their eye so they could watch her master’s deterioration. Straxius put the eye out.
They then debated how to deal with the hags. Shoushan encouraged them to leave him to his fate; he was paying the price for his greed and they had no obligation to involve themselves. The ideal solution was to attack their lair while they were blinded from the loss of their eye, but no one in the village knew where they hags were. The crew decided to make a show of taking their money and abandoning the village to their fate, then set up an ambush when the hags arrived to seek retribution.
Using the Sending Stones, Straxius contacted Rexor on Boccob’s Barge to have him seek out the local lord and get military backup for the hag’s inevitable attack. After a fitful, night they received another message from Rexor. At Palace. Hag’s servants here with Daimyo. Village safe return immediately for negotiations.
The hags wanted a child or Shoushan, not the village. The local daimyo felt the old man deserved his fate and assured the crew their trading would still be welcome. Straxius offered to let Flint, Veya, Zinniana, and Kagark off since they were back on Toril, but with the devastation evident on the Sword Coast from the return of Tiamat, they chose to remain with Boccob’s Barge. The crew took their money and left Shoushan to his fate, heading out into Wildspace….