though missed at first, the second sound caught your ear. a deep, raspy shout, spat in an unknown language and pregnant with urgency and anger.
after deciding to investigate, the party cleared several stalks of the forest before finding a mammoth, disfigured giant crumpled on the cavern floor. by the damage done to the surrounding fungus, it was easy to deduce that the struggle was both epic and relatively recent.
his purplish skin was matted with the thick ichor of coagulated blood and four javelins protruded loosely from in his hip and lower back. cautiously, you watched for breath, but thankfully, it would seem that the creature drew none. a short distance from him, a small wood cart was overturned; its dark-iron rebar cage mangled and strewn across the ground. propped against the shattered yolk, you found a nondescript drow, gravely wounded and passing through bouts of consciousness. not six feet from him, lie an ashen dwarf, black as night and freshly freed from the binds that restrained his hands and feet. his head, completely bald save for twenty or so waxy quills that protruded from his scalp, craned around in consideration of his situation.
cautiously, the decision was made to approach.
as the dwarfling caught sight of you, he spoke in a strange variant of deep speech that ming was able to roughly translate.
what, pray tell, are a bunch of tops doing in the ass end of the shallows wandering along a femorian slave route?, spoke the dwarf. he seemed to rub his head, as if reconsidering the possibility of a concussion.
carefully, you began to recant a guarded version of your story in the hopes of a bit of kindness. instead, the duergar cackled to himself silently and said, you. each of you, in your own special way, are just good and proper fucked… and i, he righted himself and glanced around once more, am leaving. good luck, maybe you and the drow can diddle one another until another shi’telek comes through. glancing back towards the mushrooms, he muttered, shouldn’t be long now.
with this he climbed to his feet, dusted off his burlap pants and croaked venomously, fucking map. he then grabbed a splintered piece of wood from the cart, hefted it onto his shoulder and, as he rounded the giant, spat on the corpse and muttered, ’nother page in ’ol stormcrow company’s book, you are. another shitty, shitty page.
with that, his words trailed off as he began climbing a rocky outcropping towards the edge of the forest.
you were able to revive the drow, and with cautious consideration for one another, all parties agreed that a femorian slave route is the last place you wished to remain. as you shared information, the duergar’s mention of a map began to clear the fog around uzo’s memory. with no real destination, outside the rough indication that a city called harrowhame lied somewhere to the north, you were left with little choice but to differ to the drow’s expertise and familiarity with the landscape.
uzo mentioned that your skin would buy you nothing but slavery in the shallows and, more than likely, your currency held little to no value among the fey and fey-kin. residuum, on the other hand, has the power to grease palms along the slave routes and those palms could get you skyward if you so desired. a further discussion was held, where both parties continued to be reserved about how much information each was willing to share.
ultimately, an agreement was made:
For 3/4 of all valuables found, uzo would escort the party to stormcrow tor, the once lost hideout of stormcrow company.
suspicious, the party continued to press for further details before agreeing to any terms. who was this stormcrow company and how was their ‘lost hideout’ suddenly found?
to this, uzo shared the tale:
illugi swordbreaker, the emerald warlock, and agera of the shadow face led a mercenary group called stormcrow company. each had a storied adventuring background before they joined their strengths, but those stories are as nothing compared to the tales of the exploits of their collaboration. the mercenaries made their base in old tunnels said to be hidden beneath a rocky tor located somewhere outside harrowhame. furthermore, it was the stormcrow company who was credited with infiltrating the svirfneblin shrine of callarduran smoothhands, and stealing the carving that adorned the masthead of his grand archway, only to affix it, in a most suggestive posture, to the bosom of lolth in one of the lower warship walls of menzoberranzan. this solitary act nearly ignited yet another war between the drow and deep gnomes, had stormcrow company not laid claim to the defacement a few weeks later. on another occasion, the entire derro ward of betheran was left in cinders after the company ‘passed through’ and derro / drow tensions in the city have never recovered. in the end, stormcrow company were feared more than revered.
ten full years have passed since any member of stormcrow company have been seen, and that sighting (of illugi swordbreaker traveling with a kenku caravan toward the world above) is probably just a rumor. each year that passes with no news from stormcrow tor is a year that nearby keeps and walled villages give thanks. anyone with an opinion on the topic now believes stormcrow company took on a challenge it was unequal to and came to a bad end in some far off land or echo dimension.
ming considered the story and then asked the question again,
how do you, uzo, know the location of something that has been lost for 10 years?
to which uzo cracked a smile and handed over a crude map, covered in duergar shorthand.