2 Growth 508 (cont’d)
After a lengthy discussion in the sphinx’s tent, the group decides to start looking for an alchemist to analyze the vials. However, their search will have to wait for the morning so they head back into the city toward their rooms at the inn.
At the city gates, they are recognized by one of the guardsmen who passes on a message from Captain Feldane to come to the Watchhall and meet with her as soon as possible. Once again bypassing the gate tax, the party is escorted to Captain Feldane’s office. Inside the Watchhall, they encounter a half-orc being apologetically ushered out of the building by a guardsman. They overhear something about his being “caught up in larger affairs” and “our apologies”.
The Captain informs the group that, earlier in the day, her troops performed a raid of the skulk encampment based on the information provided by the skulk captured earlier in the day. Her men were “overzealous” and only one out of about ten survived to be taken prisoner. She offers to allow them to opportunity to question him.
She escorts the group deep below the Watchhall, into the dungeons. Inside one of the cells is the skulk, his hands chained high on the wall. He cringes as the group enters. Captain Feldane begins by reminding him that she has a murder without a suspect that she could easily pin on him, as his tribe has already been implicated in the robbery of the murder victim. She suggests he cooperate, else she’ll have a gallows prepared.
Then Mõrvar begins to try and intimidate him into talking, to giving up the names of those involved in the crimes—especially the humans that hired them for Shiver. After few instances of trial and error, Mõrvar’s threats finally seem to work. The skulk admits that his group is used by a group of humans to steal and “hurt people” in exchange for the drug. Only two of their number—Kymeth and Onamae—deal directly with the humans. He admits that a group, including two named Rogi and Zakhar, were solicited to work a “circus job”—rob a man’s shop while he’s distracting himself at the circus. He insists he doesn’t know who else was involved nor the humans that asked them to it—they deal only with Onamae and Kymeth. Finally, as the group is leaving, he tells them that the group of humans call themselves “The Gilded Hands”.
Captain Feldane recognizes the name—it’s an up-and-coming thieves’ guild in the city. She has very little information other than that—she doesn’t know anything about their members or their origins. She also informs that a half-orc traveler got caught up in their raid, but he has been released with her full confidence that he was not part of their operation. Recalling the half-orc seen earlier as they entered, the group decides that they want to speak to him.
As the group is leaving the Watchhall, they see the half-orc, whose name is Hakak, nonchalantly waiting outside for them. After a brief exchange, it becomes clear that he was looking for them and has information for them. They all decide to take their conversation off the street and head to the common room of the Nine Sisters Inn.
Once in the Inn, the group question the newcomer vigorously about his interest in them. It turns out that he has been in Jossia and was hired by the wizard Almaric to find them and get him the book they were hired to retrieve. He went to the keep that they were sent to only to find that it had burnt to the ground and that a “tall pale man and a half-orc” were wanted for the deed. Reasoning that if things went wrong they’d venture south, Hakak made his way to Skeene. He also bore a message from Almaric—that a man named Lothar was looking for Mõrvar and Surm. The twins reveal that Lothar is their older brother. Mõrvar suspects that Lothar is out for revenge while Surm wants to reserve judgment—perhaps he only has news or information for them.
Surm suggests that Hakak stick close to them as they have business with the circus to take care of and then, perhaps, they can accompany him back to the north to prove to Almaric that they do not have the book in question. Hakak agrees and rents a room in the Inn.
3 Growth 508
The next morning, the group ventures out to find an alchemist. After making a few inquiries they secure the services of a Master Gatling. For a retainer, he agrees to work on analyzing the vials found in the sphinx’s tent to determine what was inside them. The work will take until about three in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, the party decides to explore the site of the skulk raid to determine if there are any further clues there. They find a ramshackle collection of broken down huts near the waterfront outside of the city walls. Here Surm finds another empty vial, discarded and half-buried in the dirt. Examining the vial, Surm finds a maker’s mark for the glassblower that manufactured it.
The party then ventures back into the city to find the glassblower who uses the mark found on the vial. After making some inquiries, the group is directed to a master glassblower in the industrial district. Here they find other works bearing the maker’s mark borne on glass vial found at the skulk village. After confirming with the glassblower that he made the vial, he indicates that he makes them in bulk for a Mistress Robella Autumnwhite of Mistress Robella’s Curiosity Shoppe.
With this bit of information, the party decides to stake out this curiosity shop to see who comes and goes. They secure a table at the Restful Bard and watch the shop from one of the inn’s windows. They also note that the shop is not terribly far from The Locked Box, the place of business of the first murder victim. After watching the shop for several hours, the party sees nothing suspicious and decide to return to the alchemist to hear the results of his analysis.
Master Gatling has determined that three vials contained three different materials: a feral mutagen, an Extract of Enlarge, and an Extract of Invisibility. The party reasons that it was probably the feral mutagen and the enlarge that allowed the murderer to pose as a large beast. The invisibility extract was probably used to make their escape. Master Gatling is given the newly found vial from the skulk village to analyze. He says it will take about an hour. Examining the previously found vials, they find the same glassblower’s maker’s mark on each. With such evidence in hand, they decide to go to the Curiosity Shoppe.
As they approach the shop, they decide to split up. Rilka and Savaric go to watch the back-door while Surm, Mõrvar, and Hakak go inside. The shop has all manner of materials on display, from vials of perfumes and other extracts to masterwork weapons and tools to primitive turtle-shell soup bowls. Behind a counter is a thin, dark-haired woman. “Can I help you find something,” she asks. Surm and the others approach the counter. Surm says that yes, perhaps she could help them find some extracts their looking for: a feral mutagen, an Extract of Enlarge, and an Extract of Invisibility. He lays the three vials on the counter with each declaration for emphasis. The woman narrows her eyes and hisses “If anything has happened to my husband, you’ll all find knives in your back”. Suddenly she downs a vial that she has palmed. Her teeth elongate and her nails become sharp claws. She leaps across the counter and attacks!