Wandering idly through the markets out in Wickerville, the players were confronted with a mad, babbling elf. She might have just been any old, crazy bum, save for her very peculiar words.
Red eyes in the cliff
Red eyes down the mountain
Dark windows speak silver riddles
Puddles of floating bones grow up
They flood up in amber
When you took the red eyes down the mountain
Augh recognized her babbling. She was referring to that blasted idol. The party knew that they couldn’t just walk away. Asking around, they learned the mad elf’s name and her home. Escorting the poor creature to her keepers, the PCs discovered the apparent source of her anguish: Children have been vanishing.
Red shadows in thick mist every night come and claim a few children. No one knows how long this has been going on, mostly the urchins and orphans went first. Rafto Budgewagon has been organizing a sort of neighborhood watch. He has a great deal of resentment for adventurers, and refuses to help the PCs unless they are willing to scratch his back first. Such a seemingly simple request: Find employment for some of his people. How difficult could that be?
A meeting with the Baron proved difficult indeed. A number of other petitioners waited for an audience as well. Pacing back and forth in the main hall, the PCs met Captain Ecklan and the boisterous lawyer, Dantarion Beepe. The Baron rarely keeps his own appointments and the petitioners held little hope that they would be seen. Altering tactics, the PCs went looking elsewhere.
Down in Penny Basement, Sheriff Groat was interested in hiring on extra seasonable help, but he asked a steep price: Poison a hundred of Ecklan’s horses. THe PCs left the Basement with Groat’s bitter hissing ringing in their ears. After some debate, they settled that they couldn’t work with Groat. They betrayed him to Ecklan, thus earning a ruthless enemy.
They weren’t able to secure the work until making another tour of the city and pulling some strings to finally gain an audience with the Baron. They lined up a few dozen jobs renovating sewer tunnels beneath Gilded Hill. Rafto was pleased. That night, they went out hunting.
Sure enough, the ghosts were out. Red, sickly pillars of flame leading zombie kidnappers. A brutal skirmish in the streets lead the PCs to a basement where their old friend, Gakpra was tied to an altar, imprisoned in dangerous magicks.
After freeing the little kobold, he described the strange spirits inhabiting the ruby idol and how a number of worshippers of Jubliex had tracked him down and stolen its power. They were the ones behind the kidnapping, feeding the children directly to their mad god’s oozing belly.
A frantic race through the city’s mist lead to a heated scuffle around a portal to another world. The maw of Jubilex waited, almost claining a few savory meals. Finally, the mangled worshippers were felled and the portal sealed. In doing so, the players won a powerful, albeit reluctant ally in the dwarf, Rafto.