Upon sighting the bone tower of Khin-Oin and the Great Lift which descends into Morglon-Daar, the Empty Keg withdraws out of sight to plan their next move — taking refuge in relative comfort thanks to Barnaby’s recovered Dragonmark while Jack finishes crafting demonic weapons and armor. The company decides to simply approach the slums surrounding the tower as if they belong there, trusting that false bravado will repel any attack. As it turns out, they seem to be correct as they are not openly threatened while walking among a throng of twisted half-humanoid demons. Jack locates the Lift Master and opens negotiations with him; by claiming the rest of the company are his slaves, he talks the demon down to the equitable price of 3 soul larva.
Hoping to distract Barnaby, Jack sends Azera to take him outside while he tries to negotiate an exchange with the Lift Master. As the company leaves, however, a disfigured, ugly wretch wearing sackcloth approaches, gesticulating with both his humanoid arm and his tentacle. Identifying himself as Skrumbum, he claims to have overheard the party and offers them a deal — unlike most of the rest of the city, he has a use for gold and especially gems. For a mere few thousand gold, he will take them to his “secret” lift on the other side of Skagtown, the slums, and take them into the city without fuss or customs fees. Joshua suspects a con, or perhaps is simply repulsed by the repugnant little creature, but eventually the others overrule him and agree to Skrumbum’s terms (after talking him down to 5000 gp for the trip). On the way, Skrumbum explains to Barnaby how soul larva and residuum are the currency of the city, and that gold and gems are only worth it to him because he can trade them with a few strange looking half-orcs that make regular, if infrequent, trading trips.
Skrumbum’s “secret lift” is little more than a rickety dumbwaiter with miles and miles of decaying ropes and pulleys, but the company risks it. The journey is harrowing, and takes all day, but eventually their guide sets them down in Beggar’s Fall, the poorest district in the city, where they immediately receive black looks from the inhabitants. Skrumbum suggests that they head for the Cinnabar Shadow, the only place in the district which rents rooms — “it’s the enormous mushroom, you can’t miss it!” With a cackle, the demon starts to pull himself back up the cliff face. Barnaby heads directly towards the largest mushroom building he can see, and slows down as it takes him down a blind alley. His instincts are correct. When he turns around, his path is blocked by two huge malgodemons. Out of sight, a voice calls out: “Right on schedule. Get ’em, boys! Take the female; angel slaves are worth a fortune!”
The muscle does it’s job — the malgodemons move to flank while the braxarat, a horrible flayed monstrosity, heads directly for Azera and grabs her by the throat, it’s face twisted into a leering grin. Azera’s eyes flash — the demon has made a terrible miscalculation, as whatever power Azera channels is stronger near the Blood Rift, much stronger. Spitting out abuse, the thing staggers backwards, but its fate is sealed by the deva’s curse. The rest of the Keg converges on the demon as one, and while it tries desperately to channel the pain it feels back, the braxarat’s head is taken from its shoulder by Barnaby within seconds. The rest of the ambush does somewhat better — Azera is spent, and the malgodemons begin to spirit her away, bashing her into unconsciousness while their leader, which appears as little more than an amorphous puddle of black slime, attempts to engulf Jack and then Joshua.
Gnome trickery is too much for the slime demon, as Jack escapes and then blows an enormous hole in the creature. It cries out for surrender, but Joshua is not in the mood and continues to bring the thing down. While Barnaby stops the malgodemons from taking Azera away, the slime demon flees for its life. It’s movements are completely unpredictable — sword swings, thrown weapons, eldritch blasts all fire at where the thing should have been, but never was. Joshua makes a last ditch effort, leaping from rooftop to rooftop, but comes up short and the demon makes its escape. Despondent, Joshua’s pride is further savaged by Barnaby’s taunts, after he ministers to Azera.
Searching the corpses, the company comes across a few larva in curious coin form. While the Cinnabar Shadow is right near them, the Keg decides that Beggar’s Fall is not where they want to be. Consulting their map, they try to navigate to the trade district, but make a wrong turn and find themselves in a slave market. Azera is terrified, and before any slavers can turn their eyes on her, the party beats a hasty retreat. No one seems to be able to find their way, for instead of the market district the company finds themselves outside a five story building built from the bones of death titans, still pulsing with necrotic energy. Spilling out of the establishment, which proclaims itself to be the Howling Devil, are all manners of demons, drunk and roaring with laughter. Inside, succubi and incubi ply their trade. More out of dread curiosity than anything else, the company enters the building.
Inside, the Howling Devil caters to the exotic. Dancers, drinks, drugs, and gambling go on in every corner, in every secret niche and private booth. The noise is overwhelming. Slack-jawed, Barnaby is approached by Madame Xiat — a squat and fat, toad-like creature wearing heavy eyeshadow and lipstick around a distended mouth full of fangs. Gushingly, she refers to him as “Packaos” and offers him his usual suite of pleasures. Uncertain of how to respond, Barnaby is swept away to the penthouse and pulls Azera with him. Meanwhile, Joshua is offered a drink called the Tears of Rashak, made from the tears of deva — it is salty, but he immediately begins to feel incredibly mellow and pleasant. Jack keeps his ears open for rumors and hears about a series of tremors in the chasm that has everyone concerned. At the same time, he marks the gambling tables where a well dressed rakshasha seems to be cleaning up the competition.
Upstairs, Barnaby barely repels the advances of three succubi working girls in the penthouse. The tastes of demons are bizarre; while the penthouse has silken beds and sweet smelling baths, there is also what appears to be a torture chamber, a room filled with small pits of fire, cold, and acid, and a full bar. Barnaby attempts to get information out of the succubi, telling the other two to “bathe” Azera, who he claims is his newest slave. He learns that Kuvu is a curio merchant in the bazaar, but the succubi is surprised to hear that Barnaby wants to meet with her.
Meanwhile, Azera bathes and learns what she can about this Packaos that people seem to have mistaken Barnaby for — Packaos, known as the Immortal, appears to be a cherubic halfling in his late adolescence. Despite having met his demise countless times in front of witnesses, Packaos always appears in the city the following day as if nothing untoward has happened. He has held the title of Blightlord twice before now, where he serves as the master of Beggar’s Fall. He is known for his quixotic nature: one day he is the soul of charity, and the next he is a ruthless killer. The speculation is that he has grown somewhat mad in his inability to die, but that only makes him more dangerous.
The Keg decides to spend the evening in the brothel, so long as it’s on this Packaos’ dime … though Jack starts to edge towards the card tables.
9 soul larva
An “honest” demon 1000xp
This is how we roll in Beggar’s Fall 1200xp
The Howling Devil 1000xp