Hosting large celebrations in public is always risky in Lankhmar. Such festivities draw pickpockets, drunks, beggars, and violent hoodlums like flies to a day-old gutter corpse. That’s part of the reason wealthy merchants and nobles insist on doing it; successfully hosting a public party is a mark of true power. Quarben the wine merchant has every reason to celebrate. His business has doubled again for the sixth year in a row, he’s a regular in the Overlord’s court, and this week marks his 50th birthday.
To ensure his celebration was free from thieves and their ilk, Quarben paid the Thieves’ Guild a hefty sum to keep their people away from the park. As added insurance, he hired individual troubleshooters to supplement his own guards in watching the perimeter of the park and keeping the riff-raff out.
The Park of Pleasures is a place of open grass, winding pathways, and strange, enveloping trees known as closet trees. The park is open on each side to the adjacent buildings, most of which are shops with apartments on their second stories. Quarben erected a temporary wooden gazebo in the center of the park, big enough for his immediately family, his young wife, Laandra, and their twin children plus ten or so of their closest friends. It had a strong roof to keep the sun and rain off their heads. Beyond the gazebo, the merchant set up dozens of tables laden with food and drink for his guests. Hundreds of guests milled around, filling the area between the tables and the borders of the park.
The sorceress Andalua, the Kvarchish baronet Reuben, and the dragonborn paladin Phthalo were among the troubleshooters hired to guard the celebration. Andalua and Reuben mingled with the crowd in the guise of guests, while Phthalo patrolled the grounds in full armor and regalia. Quarben’s bodyguard Makrat and several other guards also patrolled the grounds, keeping watchful for pickpockets and other rogues.
Reuben was the first to hear a scream coming from a secluded glade east of the main pavilion. He gathered one of the uniformed guards to help him investigate but he couldn’t locate the exact source of the disturbance. Andalua was able to follow the sound and saw a plump merchant run out of the glade, coughing and choking. He doubled over—and then sloughed off his skin to reveal raw, purplish flesh and several long, clawed limbs rippling with sinewy muscle. The creature threw itself on one of the guests with reckless abandon.
Meanwhile Phthalo gathered a group of young bravos to back him up and saw another creature—a fleshy blob with a long proboscis like a mosquito—pin one of the guests and drain him of blood in a single draught. More screams rang out as other onlookers saw this. Soon there was a near-panic, as guests attempted to flee from the close confines of the Park of Pleasures. Makrat and the other guards formed a perimeter around the Quarben family and escorted them away in good order.
Reuben charmed the original mutant and turned it against the mosquito-blob, but Andalua was attacked by another monstrosity that emerged from the same glade. This creature was a massive hulking beast armored in a thick layer of reddish chitin, with three-pronged pincers and serrated mandibles. Remaining in the glade was an even more horrid creature, an oozing mass of protoplasm and tentacles that constantly extruded eyes and mouths along its mass, and sang with many voices.
Several guards died during the fight and others went mad and fled. Andalua and Reuben both fell prey to the madness engendered by the siren song of the blasphemous creature. The fight was nearly deadly, as both Andalua and Phthalo fell and Reuben was forced to flee into the sky. Fortunately, they prevailed and slew the creatures before they themselves were slain.
In the wake of the battle, all of the surviving guests had fled and the party was absolutely ruined, but Quarben and his family had been safely evacuated. Upon investigating the glade that was the source of monsters, Reuben and Andalua found the discarded skin and clothing of several guests who had undergone the horrible transformation, and others who were their victims. The source of the transformation appeared to be some unholy addition to the alchemical brazier that made it produce a noxious green smoke. After extinguishing the brazier they were able to recover a small amount of green powder, which will require further analysis.
By the next morning, the entire city was gossiping about Quarben’s disastrous party and the hubris of the upstart vintner holding such a celebration. The fickle Overlord of Lankhmar has uninvited Quarben from a feast and refused delivery of several barrels of wine, much to the delight of Quarben’s rival vintners. Even though the Quarben family safely escaped from the fray, it seems that their fortune may now be on the wane.
- Humanoid Mutant: 200 xp
- Mosquito-Blob: 450 xp
- Chitinous Creeper: 700 xp
- Amorphous Chorus: 450 xp