After another quite night and another nice breakfast as the Brothers Deville, our heroes, The Hellbenders, headed out to find this illusive “Info-merchant” character who might be able to help them find out more about the power in the shadows backing their prey Hammelthal.
Unfortunately, the brothers had been unable to help, so the part headed out of Abriymoch to visit Penelopix in Styxhaven, both to hear if she knew of this Info-mechant person as well as to see if they could find their guide, James Brimstone.
Back at Hell’s Delight
While Penelopix had heard about the Info-merchant, she only had vague rumours including that the person was handsome.
But while they were talking, a lively table of energised people, got even more lively when they saw Polly the Owlbear.
After some trying, and failing, to buy Polly off Kaari, the people at the table explained they were tourists from Stygia, immense icy sea and fifth layer of Hell. they had come for the warm entertainment of Phlegethos and especially come to see the monster cage fights at the infamous tavern “Hellhound & Hare”.
The party asked the Stygian tourists to bring them along to the Hellhound & Hare, which the the tourists agreed to after a short discreet conversation with Penelopix.
Hellhound & Hare
To the heroes’ surprise, the Hellhound & Hare did not reside in Sin Side, but rather it was found in the dingy backstreets of the otherwise busineess-like Strict Side.
The Hellhound & Hare had to be the absolute worst establishment our experienced heroes had ever seen. The smell alone was enough to age a person by several years, if not decades.
Inside the place was as filthy and downright disgusting as promised by the exterior.
And on the bar, in the middle of the fights and the lewd encounters sat a baby devil crying.
Pestilence and Kaari approached the crying baby from two sides at the same time. Kaari asking if the baby was ok, while Pestilence asked if he was selling tickets to the monster cage fights.
Surprisingly, the devil baby reacted to Pestilence and puffed up a big cigar before telling them the cage fights were accessible in the basement to any interested.
Seconds later the party heard a loud voice announcing the start of evening’s cage fight.
Let’s get ready to rumble
Downstairs the crowd was energized bidding primarily on “the hounds” whatever that meant. A few joked about bidding on “the hare” only to immediately change their big to the hounds.
Down in the centre stage, 3 meters below the audience, 3 mean looking Hell Hounds stepped out biting and snarling at the audience.
In the other end of the ring, a female Harengone. The fey creature was as scared as it was out of place in this dingy place.
And the race was on.
Running clockwise the Hell Hounds chased the fast little Harengone, one caught up with the Harengone behind the centre pillar out of sight of the disappointed audience, but to their surprise the Haregone came out alive with a confused Hell Hound chasing her as if blind.
But alas, the three Hell Hounds eventually cornered the scared fey creature at which point our heroes had enough and intervened.
As the three experienced adventures jumped down, each on their own Hell Hound, the hellish canines never stood a chance and the battle was over before it had even begun.
“What in the hells do you think you are doing?” – said the Harengone lady with disbelief in her voice. Suddenly the scared demeanour was gone, replaced by a grumpy sassiness.
But before the heroes could reply with their good intentions, the audience broke out in a riot demanding their bets back.
Shaking her head in disbelief, the Haregone looked up at the rioting mob, seeing a few Ogre bouncers try to stop the mob, but they stood no chance.
And our heroes could just watch in embarrassed amazement as the riot turned to looting the betting booth.
And almost as sudden as the riot has started, the rioters had left either with pockets filled, empty handed or thrown out by the bouncers.
Meeting Mad Maddox
“Maddox will be so pissed” – said the Harengone and before the party could ask, the Devil Baby with the cigar stepped on to the ledge. No longer crying, but instead deep red in the face with anger.
“What in the absolute fuming hell are you doing?”
The Devil Baby was Maddox the owner of the Hellhound & Hare and the race within.
After Maddox’ rage ran out of steam, the heroes, Maddox and the Harengone reconvened upstairs over some drinks.
But while the party tried to get information out of Maddox, it was clear he did not look upon them kindly, but when they mentioned the “Info-mechant”, his attention woke up.
It became clear that Maddox had been severely aggrieved by the Info-merchant, who Maddox revealed was actually Basavaraj, the owner of the Burning Spice tea house in return for the heroes’ promise that they would kill Basavaraj.
And on their way out, the party found a drunken James Brimstone who turned out to know Maddox through Maddox’ sister.
Chilling at the Tea House
From the outside the Burning Spice Tea House looked like a nice fancy tea house with sophisticated patrons sipping tea of floral cups.
But when the heroes opened the front door, all they saw was a pitch black hole that in no way matched the scene they saw through the large windows.
In the end Thorga stuck his head in and to his surprise saw a room full of pillows, people enjoying themselves in each others company, sipping tea. The place was sensual, almost erotic, with beautiful smells and decor.
Taking his head out Thorga told his companions: “It’s fine” and went all the way in followed by Pestilence and Kaari.
“Welcome”, said a very tall pale skinned man dressed in too small shorts, long boots and long feathered cloak. The man introduced himself as Basavaraj the owner of the establishment.
The party pushed for how to purchase information from Basavaraj, but he was not in a hurry and as he said, his establishment didn’t do business with unknown guests so he invited the party to join him for a cup of team.
While Thorga drank the tea, Kaari faked it by pouring the tea over her shoulder and Pestilence drank it but kept the liquid in his mouth and stayed silence.
Basavaraj requested proof of the party’s commitment to an honest relationship and asked them to bring a small metal box full of runes to none other than Fierna, the co-ruler of Phlegethos and Belial’s daughter/sister/lover.
Thorga scanned the box and although magical runes were not his speciality, he was fairly certain these were powerful protective runes.
Basavaraj asked the party to be discreet about the box and asked them to enjoy themselves as he walked away to attend other guests.
And with that, the party left the Burning Spice Tea Room.