Moon, Hearth, and Prophecy

Chapter 1, Verse 1 and 2: The Sandman Thief

The godlings were resting at Poppi's place of employment in Corso, The Veeg. Suddenly, the inn's owner Yuna started strangling a patron! Poppi pulled her away, and saw that she appeared to be in some kind of trance. After Poppi snapped her out of it, Yuna told him that she was reliving a nightmare from the night before. In her dream, she watched as slavers stole away her family while she hid under the floorboards. Unlike what actually happened in real life, in the nightmare the slavers then found her too. They told her that she would experience this dream every night until Rolz was found. She explained that the price of dream dust had skyrocketed due to the recent thefts from the Guild of Sleep's approved merchants, and she couldn't afford to pay and keep the bad dreams away. Poppi gave her some of his personal supply so she could get some dreamless sleep.

Meanwhile, Zee questioned the man who Yuna had attacked. He was understandably sour, and said that creepy people had been calling him "Rolz" all day. After conferring with the others, Zee headed to the Guild of Sleep's headquarters, The Comorancy. There she saw that more of the mages were awake than usual, dealing with the angry customers who could not acquire dream dust. Speaking to her usual contact, Murugan, he openly denied knowing Rolz but quietly beckoned Zee into his office. In private, he admitted that Rolz was a Guild member, but that his Adherent beliefs in the old gods had made him a political liability, so he worked outside their structure. Murugan theorized that if Rolz had angered nightmares in Nod, they might have engineered the dream dust thefts to create a network of spies to find him in Corso. He gave Zee the last known address.

The godlings investigated Rolz's home, under the pretense of living in the area. When they arrived at the apartment, they found the door had been forcibly opened by someone else earlier. Moon Unit noticed that a street gang on the corner seemed unduly interested in their activities; she awakened a dream of a Tauran to scare the gang members while the godlings hid inside the apartment. Once inside, Zee's scan detected a secret compartment in a desk, and Moon Unit discovered a secret passage in the wall! Attempting to open the desk, they triggered a trap which set the desk's contents alight – Poppi used a cypher to quench the flame, and they found a singed journal. Investigating the secret door, Moon Unit discovered that it revealed a ladder into a basement below. Going downward, the godlings found a passage which appeared to pass beneath the streets into an abandoned warehouse.

Suddenly, a pair of ghouls attacked!

The heroes destroyed the ghouls, although Poppi was briefly frozen in place by their paralytic venom. Examining the scene, they found some money and a few cyphers which likely belonged to the ghouls previous victims. They also saw hints of a dream gas having been used: it seemed likely that Rolz had gone this way. A half-open door exiting the warehouse led into the hive of the lawless Undercity that coils beneath Corso's streets.

Consulting the burned journal, some information became clear. Rolz had experienced something strange in a journey to Nod, and afterwards the nightmares attacked him. They even tried to ambush him on a subsequent night's sleep! He was certain that he had drawn foul interest. In his final entry, dated the day before, it noted that he had made arrangements with the Four Claws to protect him.

As Zee wondered aloud about the Four Claws, she heard a whisper in her ear of her own voice. It had the distinctive echo of a whisper across years, and it told her that the Four Claws were a criminal street gang in the Undercity. They were opposed by the Green Claws gang. Moon Unit was pretty certain that those gangs made their home in this part of town. Reluctantly, the party decided to proceed into the Undercity.

After some very careful exploration, the heroes found a young girl hiding in a covered alley. It appeared that many more people typically inhabited the alley. Moon Unit handed her water to Poppi, who approached the girl and offered her food and drink. Speaking to her afterwards, he discovered that her father Stefan sometimes worked with the Four Claws, but a group of slavers had kidnapped him and the other residents of the alley this very night! The godlings resolved to free her father. 

With the girl's guidance, they soon found themselves outside a brick building with a sign that said "Leo's Long Term Labour Solutions." After investigating the lock for traps, Moon Unit easily picked it. Inside they found a guard asleep next to a chalk board listing prices. Beyond him was a metal door, barred from this side, and a ladder going upstairs.

Moon Unit created a sleeping draught to keep the guard drowsy, and they unbarred the door. Inside they saw the prisoners, all manacled to the walls. Realizing they needed a key, they went back to the guard and gingerly lifted the key ring from his sleeping hands. After unlocking the prisoners, Stefan became hysterical when they told him that his daughter had led them here: his daughter had been killed by the slavers, and her body lay here in the room!

The slavers upstairs heard Stefan's bellowing. Poppi grabbed the girl's body and ran out the door, while Zee yelled at Stefan to snap him out of it. As they fled, they heard the slavers preparing to come down the ladder. Moon Unit awakened a dream of a terrible undead creature climbing the ladder to make them fall back, and gave them all time to escape!

Upon finding a new safe place, they spoke to Stefan. He told them that he had been a merchant guard, but had given inside information to the Four Claws when he needed extra money for his daughter's illnesses. He was fired by the merchants and ended up having to live down here. He planned to take his daughter's body for cremation the next day; Moon Unit offered the 2 pennies to him if he needed it. He agreed to take the party to meet the Four Claws after that was done.

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