Last week on the Tuesday game...
It was the herald's last stop for the night. The Black Cat was a dingy little tavern located just on the edge of the respectable side of the city, and it looked to be filled with the usual selection of undesirables: two suspicious-looking fellows dicing off in the corner, a bunch of shady-looking characters who would just as soon stab you for looking at you, a few heavily-armed wannabe adventurers... He didn't think that he would get any takers, but his job was clear: he was to visit every tavern in the west of Ishtar and make the same offer known to everyone who would hear it.
"Hear ye, hear ye! By the order of the Circle of Weejas and the Four Families! All adventurers seeking work are invited to apply at the Courthouse tomorrow at noon. The reward is a thousand gold pieces, and a townhouse located on the front of the Main Canal worth at least another ten thousand gold pieces."
Noon, before the great steps of the Courthouse.
The city's Seneschal welcomed the party when they presented themselves. A gaunt, pale-skinned figure with sunken cheeks and eyes that never seemed to blink, the Seneschal bluntly informed the adventurers that, before they would be allowed to proceed forward, they had to sign a standard non-disclosure agreement in bone and blood.
Written in Infernal and empowered by the magic chiselled into every square inch of black marble in the Courthouse, the NDA would not only allow the city of Ishkar to sue them should they violate the terms of the agreement, but would also prevent them from so much as hinting at anything that they were told within the Courthouse's confines.
Although Chant was fluent in Infernal, legalese might as well be a whole other language. As far as he could tell, the agreement only did what the Seneschal and his scribe claimed that it did. Shrugging, the party looked at each other and signed their names in blood on each copy of the agreement.
With the paperwork out of the way, the three remaining groups were informed that since there was more than one interested party, they each had to submit a tender for the job by being the first party to successfully retrieve the treasure at the centre of the Gauntlet. This appeared simple enough, and the party agreed.
However, the Gauntlet proved to live up to its name. After a few harrowing experiences with puzzle-trapped floors, platforms floating over lava rivers, and rooms full of reanimated skeletons desperate to kill the party, they eventually make their way to the centre, where the treasure - a golden chalice - lay upon a heavy stone plinth.
Unfortunately, they were not alone. Wiping their bloody blades on the bodies of another adventuring party were the other adventurers: the human wizard Viz, the dragonborn warrior Daros, and the half-elven rogue Mikhael. Hagren immediately rushed the fighter in their way, smashing his kneecaps and his face in with his warhammer, while Chant dropped Mikhael with a handful of Magic Missiles, but Viz managed to grab the chalice and get away before the rest of the party could stop him. The party gave chase, and Qilin eventually managed to drop Viz with a well-placed Witchbolt.
The victorious party was then briefed on the details of the job by the Seneschal. The First Master of the Circle, he said, has been killed: a matter which, ordinarily, would not have been much of a concern at all for a city of master necromancers, but his soul has been somehow dragged through the Last Gate of Death - past the multitude of charms and wards the Master had established for this very contingency - and rendered beyond the ability of any mortal to resurrect.
The party's task was simple: they were to find out who did this, take all the necessary steps to prevent this from ever happening again and - for an additional 500gp - bring the First Master back to life if such a thing was possible. Until this was done, the constitution ensured that the Council would remain in perpetual deadlock, unable to make any major decisions.