Lack Of Initiative

Dia gives the party the doll to return to Byx and a basket of red currant jam pastries. When they leave her home, they find Barry – one of the wolves they believed they had killed earlier – waiting for them in the forest. Barry escorts the party back to the village, but they are ambushed by a giant bat. The party fights the bat and Barry leaps from the underbrush to deal the killing blow. Once the bat is no longer a threat, Dia rings Aribi on the scrying orb and explains that her sister, Sporks, has an affinity for bats and likely sent the creature to slow them.

Back at Underwillow Inn, the party confronts Amhatan and Byx. Byx sheepishly apologizes for deceiving them and Amhatan explains that they consider Dia a neighbor and want to help protect her as she has protected them. Unruhk exchanges some tense words with Amhatan, both due to the village’s deception and their apparent unwillingness to deal with the threat of Dia’s sister themselves. In a conversation with the dwarven merchant, Dorian, Pamplemousse learns that Underwillow used to be a relatively dangerous place. Bandits often raided the town and merchants passing through. Dorian says that the village is a happier and safer place now than he has ever seen it.

Topiary and Pamplemousse strike a bargain with Byx, who agrees to supply some tarps to place over the open holes in the temple while they are away from Underwillow. Aribi gives one final performance – an epic poem detailing the party’s adventure in the inn’s cellars. Aribi receives a standing ovation for her poem. Amhatan gives the group 1000 gold (250 gold per person) as an advance to help them buy the items Dia requested.

Per Glowkindle’s offer, the party agree to meet him in the morning, help him load several kegs of ale onto his cart, and then travel with him through Neverwinter Wood to the city. The journey through the forest is uneventful, though wolves can be seen following along with the cart. After traveling for most of the day, they arrive on the outskirts of Neverwinter in the early evening.

The party makes a brief stop at Fantasy Costco to buy supplies and haggle with Garfield the Deals Warlock. Pamplemousse very nearly agrees to sign up for an in-store credit card with exorbitant interest rates, but Aribi talks her out of it. After they’re done shopping, they return to Glowkindle and pass through the city gates, stopping briefly as they are questioned by the city guards regarding their names and reasons for visiting Neverwinter.

Glowkindle drives his cart through the city, eventually stopping at the Fallen Tower Inn. The party helps Glowkindle unload his kegs and take a pint each inside the inn, which is packed with travelers and a half-elf bard performing with a fiddle. Suddenly, a tabby cat jumps up on their table. The cat has a note that reads “Follow me” tied to its tail.

The party follows the cat, who leads them into a poorer and dirtier section of the city. They turn down several narrow alleyways and are eventually ambushed by a half-ogre mugger who addresses the cat as “Gus.” The cat runs off as the mugger confronts them. Attempts to intimidate the half-ogre fail, but eventually Aribi manages to convince him that they are friends. She tells the half-ogre that he should rethink his life and his career, and maybe get a cat. He ponders this as the party sneaks past him and follows the cat again.

When they catch up to him, the cat speaks and introduces himself as Asparagus, or “Gus” for short. He darts off across a street and into a seedy-looking warehouse. The party follows and finds a large open room filled with tiered benches and hundreds of cats sitting upon the benches. This is the Congress of Cats. All of these cats are able to speak and, the party quickly learns, Gristlemonger is now able to speak to them as well.

Gus explains that King Orvillius the Great, the cats’ king, has been missing for three days. According to their laws, Orvillius will be stripped of his title and exiled if he’s not found by morning. Gus offers the party 200 gold now and another 1000 gold if they can find Orvillius. Unruhk asks Gus if he knows anything about any of the three items they need to find for Dia, but Gus has no knowledge of this.

Gus does tell the party that the King of Cats had some enemies, most notably the Rat Boss. The Worg Lord was also an enemy until recently, when Orvillius was able to negotiate a peace treaty with him. Gus informs them that the Worg Lord has no specific residence, but can usually be found in a nearby alley.

A friendly and helpful black cat called Fox also introduces herself. She explains that there would be a time of political unrest among the cats if Orvillius would be deposed and exiled. She also suggests that the party should speak to the “Wayside Oracle,” who is a friend of the King’s. Gus rolls his eyes at this, calling the Oracle a two-bit fortune teller.

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