Incensed at the blatant manipulation by Draegyn, the team nevertheless decides to engage in his “mission.” Who knows, maybe the pay will at least be as good as promised. However, the four are on edge as they make their way to the building marked on the map, and with good reason. Draegyn’s directions guide them to a northern section of the city known as Filcher’s Crossing, a decidedly seedy district half-submerged in the river confluence, the streets having long-since become watery canals. Travelers either pole along in small boats or navigate a web of ramps and archways between the buildings and the higher, drier surfaces of the neighborhood.
Much like the waterfront, Filcher’s Crossing at night is no place for the sane to be alone, or even in small groups. In fact, this portion of the city seems grossly more insidious, for the lack of bars and entertainment offers no reason for anyone to be about. The only intention that would place someone in this faintly populated backside of the merchant’s bourg in the wee hours is plain. The evidence is found throughout their trip: a garroted body, looted, clutching a tattered ribbon of canvas wrapped around a square-punched coin, a peculiar sigil scratched into it; a fresh smear of blood, where a body appears to have been dragged to a bridge and dumped into the canal; the sound of running footsteps echoing from the alleys and buildings, followed seconds later by a second pair, then silence.
Eventually, their destination looms ahead of them; an abandoned warehouse or factory bordered by an eight foot high wall of crumbling granite, a padlocked iron gate going to rust. The building and grounds appear to be long neglected, the large overgrown yard wreathed with mist, looking much like the swamp except with pieces of metal and machinery jutting from the ground instead of trees. The huge building is completely dark, no light coming from the windows forty feet up from the ground, the many large stacks rising from the roof vent no smoke.
Quietly climbing over a low section of the broken wall, Stringer quickly scouts the perimeter of the building. Climbing the smooth walls forty feet to the windows seems impractical, and the large vent-like shutters on either end of the factory seem equally so. He finds a pair of large double doors that have had the rust scraped from their hinges, but seem barred from inside. However, set into a massive set of iron hanger doors is a single man-sized door, the rust scraped from the hinges and oiled…unlocked. The crew begins to suspect this is more of a trap than a job, but why? Who is Draegyn and who is he working for?
The door is blocked by some stacked crates, but is pushed open fairly easily. The sound of the crates scraping echoes loudly in the huge structure, a faint light from one of a couple of rooms off to one side, revealing stacks of crates, piles of debris, overturned carts. A huge black teardrop shape looms in the dark beyond the faint light source in the corner room, catwalks twenty feet overhead ring the perimeter and radiate like spokes from the center structure, dozens of heavy chains hang from the ceiling lost in the gloom above. Just below the ‘walks a massive cylinder hangs, precariously suspended from some chains. It doesn’t look very stable.
Stringer immediately heads for a ladder to the catwalks overhead, and Durin heads to the office where the light comes from. Inside he finds a lantern on a desk, a map of the area on the wall, and some other items. Fynn and Kah cautiously make their way into the factory, realizing the huge central shape is a massive furnace. They notice the second room has a long table and benches, and a crack in the floor that runs from the corner of the room out into the larger area of the factory. The sound of running water can be heard faintly through the crack. As they make their way further into the darkness between the main furnace and what appears to be a smaller furnace against one wall, several humanoid shapes step out of the shadows from behind various cover to surround them, and the hiss and clank and stomping step of a massive construct of iron and rust, the hulk of a steamjack looming in the back! The leader, a spiky-haired man with a manic grin on his face, speaks: “Welcome, trespassers, to the last night of your life. I shall enjoy watching you die so I can send your heads back to the Gertens in a sack as a warning to stay out of Griffons territory. Thunderwicket, kill them all!”
Perhaps not the wisest choice of words for the madman, as the archaic machine steps forward, raises a massive arm…and backhands the closest thug into the wall, pivots and crushes another to the floor! Chaos immediately erupts, the thugs scattering to avoid the ’jack’s massive fists, yelling at Malek to get the damn thing under control, the leader screaming and waving his arms at the ‘jack, desperately trying to make it understand. Some of the rogues manage to take pot shots at our heroes, but the fight doesn’t go well for them for the first few seconds. In the confusion, Fynn, Kah, and Durin are pushed back a few feet, the ‘jack charges them, and the weakened chains holding that huge pipe overhead break. The pipe crashes down, smashing through the cracked floor and disappearing into a cavern below, part of the old city that’s been buried beneath progress and new construction, much like the rest of the city. The three friends fall into a pool of water, along with several of the thugs, and Thunderwicket itself. Stringer decides discretion is the better part of valor, and manages to sneak back down to the floor and out of the building, leaving a boobytrap for any thugs that might follow him and heading for the cathedral. He eventually encounters a couple of watchmen who take him to their barracks to patch him up and get his story.
In the dark water, the ‘jack struggles to right itself before the water puts out its boiler fire. The dust from the collapsed floor and the dim light, and more importantly the smell reveal they’ve fallen into the sewers. The two surviving gang members scramble to their feet as our heroes edge towards a tunnel opening they’ve notice the water flowing out of the chamber through. Suddenly one of the rogues shouts “Something brushed my leg, there’s something in here!” At his words, a hulking humanoid shape rears up out of the water, its huge hands lined with suckers, its mouth framed with a pair of strong tentacles. It grabs one man and tosses him aside like a doll, his body smashing into the wall and lying motionless. The thing leaps onto the steamjack and begins tearing into its iron body, ripping riveted metal bulkheads with its hands and tentacles! Thunderwicket tries desperately to dislodge the creature, but cannot reach it easily. Fynn, Durin, and Kah take a leap of faith, and dive into the tunnel, which immediately becomes a long, steep, muddy chute, ejecting them into a portion of the Undercity, a large ruin-filled cavern that used to be part of the city above, until it sank into the swamp and was buried. The sounds of the battle above echo down to them, until the screech of tearing metal, the screams of the human thug, and the roars and growls of the monster subside. Exploring the ruins, they find a way out, holding their breath through the rushing underground sewer, which dumps them into the harbor.
Bent on finishing this, the three companions climb out of the river and head back to the foundry, determined to capture Mad Malek, and get some information about this whole mess. On the way, they run across two watchmen escorting Stringer from the barracks to the cathedral, and the team is reunited. Sneaking back into the factory is easy, as the distracted gang members are too busy arguing with Malek to have even set a watch, but while the gang has the advantage of numbers, their general independence and lack of real leadership from Mad Malek dooms them. Many flee. More die, including Mad Malek. A captured thug is taken to the Watch barracks, and a report is filed of the evening’s events. The team heads for home, to clean up, rest, and consider the question of Draegyn, the “Black Bastard,” and just what he wanted out of this.