In the port town of Holt on the southern coast of Ispentine, our heroes are running errands. The market square in the poorer area of town is bustling with the activity of foreign merchants and townsfolk.
The kobold Ly’miirik, disguised as a pink-haired halfling with the alias “Ketta Longwinter”, has set up a tent displaying her wares, particularly weapons and armor. She has hired the fourteen-foot-tall Grunt as a bodyguard, a giant orc who is not the brightest knife in the deck. Adjacent to them is “Doctor” Jackal Strangelove who sells a variety of alchemical supplies, and no poisons, thank you very much, and good day sir. Conrad Chelmsford is a human mercenary, who is in town to visit his parents. He just finished delivering a batch of swords, on behalf of his family’s smithy. Fiona Veiral is on general errands, after performing her temple duties as a cleric of Aisara. The market is graced with the unusual sight of a regal Tengu, Katsuo Running-Cloud, walking his horse through the crowded street.
Grunt, standing at the entrance of the pavilion tent, notices movement in an alleyway between storefronts across the street. Katsuo not only notices, but identifies the lurking creature, and draws back his bow. This excites Doctor Strangelove, who runs toward the tengu in order to convince him not to fire upon the giant orc. Meanwhile, Grunt smashes and the silent tengu makes a killshot on the mysterious creature with his bow. The alchemist is alarmed, and hugs Katsuo to prevent him from, in his view, firing on the orc.
A scream erupts past Grunt. Several people rush to the rescue while Ketta attempts to convince the crowd to clear the area, after jumping atop Grunt’s shoulders. It is only partially effective, but allows most of the not-yet-a-party to surround a giant ant that has attacked Francis Farkas, the representative for this neighborhood. A lot of smashing occurs, and Dr. Strangelove tosses a bomb at the insect, also scorching the storefront of the apothecary. The bomb prompts passerby to summon the guard.
With this threat eliminated, the group is not thanked by the alderman, but find themselves giving hasty introductions instead. Mr. Farkas recognizes Fiona as a blessed one of Aisara, and thanks her for her healing services. Grunt prepares to shake Mr. Farkas’ hand, which Ketta rides down and flourishes a bow to introduce them both. She is nearly shaken off by Grunt’s “hand shake” in response. The guards question the group, to which Ketta announces, “No need for thanks, citizens!” and Dr. Strangelove interjects, “Though gifts of cash are accepted!”
Grunt begins to retrieve the ant for lunch, but Ketta realizes how disastrous a pheromone trail could be and informs Grunt that it will “make belly hurt”. He then throws the ant casually on top of the general store.
Meanwhile, Katsuo lassos the first ant out of the alleyway, and investigates the space with the alchemist. They find a hole chewed into the side of the general goods store, and decide to send their horses to somewhere safe. While Dr. Strangelove calls indiscriminately for a mercenary, Katsuo displays a sign to the group announcing he will provide food for keeping his horse safe. Grunt picks up the squealing horse and brings it to Ketta’s tent. Dr. Strangelove begins calling for a competent mercenary. Conrad is hired to bring the horses to the smithy for safekeeping.
Katsuo busts through the locked door of the general goods store. He is confronted by four Medium ants, but is unperturbed, as his bow is great. The group, sans Conrad and Fiona, prepares to combat this new threat. Ketta, from the tent, points at the store and orders Grunt to “sick ’em!” The giant orc charges toward the store and doesn’t bother trying to fit in such a small opening. Instead, he crashes through, causing a Large hole, essentially creating more door.
While Katsuo, Grunt, and eventually Fiona deal with the four ants inside of the general store, Ketta makes her way to a crashing noise in Bellinda’s Bakery. She nimbly scales the wall and cuts a hole in the window to perch in. The ants inside have pushed all of the shelves against the wall nearest the general store. Ketta starts to pick them off with her heavy repeating crossbow, but begins to get worried at her separation from the party. She calls for Grunt as she shoots.
Grunt is raging his way through ants while Katsuo shoots them, though the shockwaves from his hammer make it hard to shoot the ants tossed into the air. Finally, after the ants are killed, Grunt heads toward his employer. He rushes toward the bakery… and ricochets off the wall of the general goods store. This refusal of the wall to give way to his will puts him into a rage, and with a roar he crashes through the general goods store into the bakery, and shoves the shelves over the other way. The ant that was crawling up the wall toward the halfling falls, and Ketta shoots it dead before complimenting Grunt on his timing. Grunt takes a moment to write “improved knock” into his barbarian “spellbook”.
In the general goods store, now with even more door, Katsuo is presumably inspired by the giant orc and crashes through the back wall. The alleyway seems to be unused, except by vermin, for quite some time. However, upon inspecting the store itself, the trio finds a hatch behind the counter. They open it up and head down a creaky wooden stairway into the darkness.
Meanwhile, Ketta searches for a cache of loot. However, there is no register, safe, chest, lockbox, or secret cupboard to be found. Disturbed by the absence of any evidence that this was ever a real store, Ketta tells Grunt to search for secret doors. Grunt proceeds to punch through the floor in front of him, and drop into the dark basement below.