Two adventurers come to the Ring a’Rosie Tavern, a flower-bedecked drinking establishment near the docks of Shadow Port, to meet with Rosie, the co-owner of the tavern and a low-level fence/fixer for the Prince of Shadows. Saga has been offered a smuggling job, while Max is there to collect payment for delivering the Wyvern’s Egg, a large white gem he stole recently.
The two meet Rosie at the bar, where Tibié serves them drinks, then head down to the basement to discuss business. They sit with Rosie in a corner and watch a ‘friendly’ cage match in which Phaenna handily defeats Brutus, a massive bugbear sponsored by the Red Knives gang. The young draconic warrior joins them after the fight, and Rosie hands out two packages; Max receives a pair of magical shoes as a bonus payment from the Prince of Shadows, while Phaenna gets a letter from the Headmaster of her former school, encouraging her to meet her destiny, as well as some sutra banners that might aid her in battle. Rosie then explains that too many people seem interested in the Wyvern’s Egg, so they want Saga to smuggle it out of town and deliver it to its final buyer, with Max providing security.
Deal finished, everyone heads back upstairs, where Tibié has just learned that her druid friend Janus has gone missing. Before she can process that news, or the next drink order, Phaenna is confronted by… an angry ratcatcher? But this is no ordinary vermin controller; the Ratcatcher reveals himself as a follower of the Diabolist, tipped off to Phaenna’s whereabouts and here to collect the bounty on her head. Nor is he alone, as he tears open his sack of rats to reveal that it’s full of rat-fiends and a huge demonic hellwasp!
Patrons and staff dive for cover as the adventurers confront the Ratcatcher; he proves a tougher opponent than his demeanour suggests, and Phaenna is soon taken down. Fortunately, the cultist and his demon minions are defeated before he can finish off his target; he vows he will return, and mutters dark omens that ‘the Clock of Hell will soon strike midnight’, before changing shape into a swarm of bloody white rats and escaping.
As the battle ebbs, Tibié looks to protect Rosie, but is knocked out by an unknown assailant near the steps to the office! When she comes to, she sees Rosie unconscious at the foot of the stairs; she races outside, chasing the assailants into the main street. They get away, but not before she tears a scrap of cloth from their coach and tags it with a magical sigil. Now recovered, Phaenna also races out; she grabs Tibié and takes to the rooftops to chase after the coach. They track it as far as the Warrens, where it disappears into a maze of narrow alleys. Tibié realises the scrap of cloth she grabbed shows the symbol of the Red Knife gang; she heads back to the tavern to tell the others while Phaenna learns what she can from friendly local urchins.
At the tavern, a recovering Rosie says that three masked men stole the Wyvern’s Egg during the fight with the Ratcatcher; the thieves carried it off in a bone case and knocked Rosie out when they tried to intervene. The timing seems too convenient – did the Red Knives send the Ratcatcher to distract them? Phaenna returns to say that the Red Knives run a bloodsport arena in the Warrens, called the Underpit, and that matches are scheduled for tomorrow night, but the location is a secret.
The adventurers are approached by an unlikely figure – Brutus, the bugbear Phaenna defeated in their earlier cage fight. He offers to tell them where the Underpit is, but only if his challenge for a death-match on the night is accepted by… Max? Brutus offers no explanation for the challenge, other than to hint that it’s related to Max’s family; the rogue accepts and the bugbear gives them the address, although they’ll need to make their own way through Underpit security.
With many questions and few answers, the adventurers try to work out a plan to infiltrate the Underpit tomorrow night and take back the gem. Saga recounts what lore she knows about the Wyvern’s Egg, including that some stories say it is magical, while others clarify to say that it is actually haunted. As well as a plan, they might also require the aid of a necromancer…