DGA5.09: A killing in Mooregate, part one – 2+1

The characters for this session

Cat Weasel, charming lvl 5 warlock;
Seck Rustrau, taciturn lvl 5 rogue;
Phoenix Pilandaros, naive lvl 5 barbarian

Most of this session is social skill use. Characters can choose pretty freely among Intimidation, Persuasion and Deception, though Persuasion has the least ill consequence on a poor roll. Where a character goes with something other than Persuasion I will so note.

In some cases, a character tries to learn something around a “fact.” This generally involves Insight if inter-personal and Investigation if not. Where a character is attempting to learn something there is no failure as such, but greater success gains a deeper step of “factual” information.

Threads the three will be pursuing:
The warehouse, generally (though Cat is more concerned about the valuables, Seck more about the nasty smells, and Phoenix about the cellar clearing);
Seck also wants to talk to Koilev, about the possibility of a potion that removes exhaustion;
Seck, moreover, wants to find out why Helena has such a foul personality and such a down on him;
Cat also wants to get detail from Lochren around the ring of mind shielding and the St Osthenes statue (and Seck is very curious about that statue as well);

Leper-quest: the Physician, Evaine of Odill

A reminder of what this about: One of the duke’s key advisers is the physician Evaine of Odill. This is the man Kaleb asked them to speak to and persuade to let he, Kaleb, press on with his healing at the leper hospice.

Cat gains audience following the conversation with the Duke in full court [last session]. Evaine [pr. e-VINE or more correctly e-VINE-yih] is tall, ascetic, vaguely familiar-looking, surrounded by the trappings of great learning.

[Cat gets to see a version of the World Dragon Map, which portrays the Empire’s physical compass.]

It takes some time [and an Inspiration] but by leaning on the “this would really help the influential families of the city” angle, Cat obtains Evaine’s promise to write permission. They end on fair to good terms, Cat seated and Evaine open to his ideas. But he does have a lot of paperwork to get through…

A murder mystery

En route to visit Lochren following this success, Cat overhears eager, worried discussion about a murder. It seems that two of the departing “soldiery” or crusaders had their throats cut and have been found, clumsily concealed, in an alley.

Easily falling into conversation with the dusk-wrapped gossipers, Cat gains a direction to the scene of the crime. It lies in the area known as the well court. Here, a huge splash of blood still gleams, and not far away, a small alley between two buildings. From the look of the watchmen, this is the scene.

Investigation 18: these are low-level watchmen, simply keeping people moving.

Cat persuades the nearest to at least speak to him, and learns that Watch Captain Ramas is the lead on the case. Kids are snooping (and being told to clear off) and Cat hears one boasting that he found a knife.

The brat shows Cat that he found a knife at a point where someone might have kicked it away from the bodies, into a gutter below one of the nearest buildings. He plans to keep it until some time in the future when he begins a career as a crime-solving constable. His friends don’t believe him in any way.

Cat drops word to the watchman, persuading him [nat 20] that he could advance his career, and moves on.

Lochren is afflicted

It is late. Cat finds the housekeeper, alarmed, on the doorstep. What’s to do? Lochren is crying and screaming, up in his chambers. She heads off to get a tincture, Cat heads upstairs. Lochren’s pert downstairs maid is relieved to let the gentleman deal with her master, who is rolling about, clutching his eyes, and screaming something about cats.

Slap! Cat snaps Lochren out of it [First aid 20!]. It seems that the huge purple crystal bauble that Cat sneaked into Kellerin’s library has backfired in some way.

Sniveling his thanks, and with the help of Cat’s cuddling and the tincture, Lochren recovers. Later that same night he goes over the details of the items Cat wanted to know more about.

Regarding the statue of St Osthenes, Lochren suggests speaking to a learned member of the clergy for what the ‘boon pact’ might entail. Vicar Imdarr Relvaundar or one of the inquisitors most likely…

He also confirms what he already told Cat about Helena – mentor effectively exiled, so marooned without an approved “guild mage” career path.

Out of curiosity Cat asks if Elke has many suitors. Being a gossipy b***h Lochren suggests that not one but all three of the “regular” adventurers are sparking her and president Karl is keen on her too!

Cat’s next day is dominated by the Plant Growth Ritual Vir has previously walked Cat through, payback to his Patron. Vir himself, having hired the work crew, is now actively researching routes and transport options to Haranshire.

Associate-quest: let’s find us some workers!

A reminder of what this is about: the immediate need to get the lepers out requires they feel safe enough to at least clear off back into the city sewers! So if they are worried about a giant croc (and maybe cultists and blobs that eat them) let’s hire us some obsidian ranks or plain old workers, and get those cleared away!

It is late morning, the day after the Duke’s audience. Phoenix has not approached the area at this particular time of day: hears housewives chaffing one another (and slanging off those that have been slow to finish spring cleaning): walks through children and small animals at play: and the busy normal noise of tradespeople hard at work.

In broad daylight the doorway of the building where lies the adventurers guild is dusty and ill-kept. Across towards the mill-gate, the usual run of not-quite-working layabouts slump by the thieves guild, beer-hall and gaming rooms. Phoenix glances above him here at the signs, again marks the one he’s been told reads something about adventurers, and heads up the stairs. They creak, having been in drying air for some days now. At the ornately-scrolled door he knocks and enters.

The same pair of wheezy geezers he hired for the underground job are seated to the right, reading woodblock-printed broadsheets and chewing the fat at a slow, do-nothing pace. They goggle uneasily, as though Phoenix is the harbinger of work.

“I bring you work” – Phoenix

They pass up the chance of fighting cultists blobs and a giant croc:

“Yer ranger friend has been in not an hour since, he booked us up for another go at yer caverns… cor is that th’ time, c’mon Doug, time ter find some shovels…”

Doug explains that Phoenix might be right down to guild associates, because the three full-fledged adventurers are still away. He mentions Helena is due back any day, but it’s odd no message has come in… Karl would know. Or Elke. Exchanging a few nods and nudges about Elke’s measurements they shuffle out leaving Phoenix to search for her. And if he sees Bert tell him they have gone ahead to round up some tools and they’ll meet him out there.

Karl is comfortable, Bert the opposite

Guild president Karl seats in comfort in a well-cushioned wooden chair, heating his drink over a small burner, surrounded by documents and books. Phoenix apologizes and tries the next door along.

Here the scriptorium, and here a slightly ink-spattered Elke is in charge of a very ink-spattered Bert. She glances up and apologizes for not hearing him. They all repair to the booking rostrum.

Phoenix explains as she books the job. He does a good job describing the dangers. Elke’s advice is that he could offer either 10 gold per person if the collectors can claim the kills, or 25 gold if not.

Elke provides three contacts

“Trouble is,” she explains, “we’re very low… I think you might be needing to talk to the guild associates, they’ve just come back from… supposedly from delivering Helena, though it’s odd we haven’t heard from her… they’re all women – you get on alright with women? You see, they’re associates so we can’t just say they will do it… so it’s up to you to convince them.”

Equipped with three addresses and general descriptions – and the moneys the guild recovered from the bailiff Rooksleigh – Phoenix heads out, though not before passing on Grigor and Doug’s message. Bert, realizing he can escape to something not bookwork, does so.

A parish stalwart: Gillian

It’s still early in the day for speaking to frequenters of gaming halls, so Phoenix heads in the opposite direction, to the temple.

The boulevard is just as pretty as ever and the lovelies of the district are perambulating. Wrenching his eyes away Phoenix walks round the temple precinct and enters.

The verger has a dusty greeting for him but undaunted, Phoenix heads on to the noise of cleaning. Gillian, young and sturdy, sings a half-song to The One while she works. Notices him.

“Oh! Hello!”

“Greetings”

“Blessings”

“That too. My name’s Phoenix. You might have heard of me.”

“Uhhhhh… have we met?”

“Not yet”

“Oh. Well my name’s Gillian…”

“So I’m told. I’ve been told to seek you, and two other ladies, associates of the adventurers guild.”

“Ohhhh!! So it’s a job! What’s afoot?”

Gillian turns a more businesslike face on their discussion.

[Insight 19: Once she realizes Phoenix is there to speak about future work, Gillian is a lot more relaxed]

She claims she is more of a support person, says she’ll work if the other two will, and 10 gold each will be OK if Goldie says it will. Her advice on finding both Avery and Goldie is to wait until much later when the gaming hall is busy – she’ll probably be down there herself. And seems more friendly once Phoenix admits he has a liking for drink as well.

With time to kill Phoenix heads back across the way to Jackalham’s.

Seck has all the keys

Seck enjoys the bright, breezy spring morning, passing along the genteeler side of the streets near the warehouse. He and the busy coffin-maker exchange nod and bow. He calls in on the locksmith to get keys. The man leaps to his feet [nat 20] and insists on accompanying Seck so that the lock fit can be double checked.

Phoenix has given Seck the front door key, so – agreeing with the locksmith that the stuck door left does smell foul and they are a little unlucky with the sun in that corner – they pass on to the nearest lock.

There’s quite a lot of re-tooling to do! The locksmith arranges his tools and begins work on the key.

With time to spare Seck pops down to have a word to the lepers. He offers the same encouragement Phoenix did, and receives the same information from them that Phoenix did.

The lock still needs more adjustment, and while he works the locksmith passes on gossip about the murder, and that the leading crusader has gone with his men: but by the morning’s end both are tooled to a point that Seck hands over the 12 gold coins agreed plus 3 tip. He has two of both keys. He locks up securely and heads off south, to the herbalists’.

Watch Captain Ramas is on the case

Passing up the delicious odors from the several bakeries en route, Seck works his way south, veering in-city to avoid the shambles and thieves alley. This takes him through the well court. It is day two of the murder investigation. Strapping Watch Captain Ramas Oakbar is taking his ease at the well (admiring glances from scullions and maids) while over yonder east, burly bald Kirby catches Ramas’ wink and engages Seck in chat. Ramas hoves up nearby.

Seck lacks any empathy for dead crusaders, but can easily account for his movements two nights ago: he refers Ramas to Lord Jackalham. Ramas implies he may visit.

Potion quest: let’s see what the experts say

Being just prior to noon Koilev is out on the business floor and the warm aroma of a good meal being cooked comes from beyond.

Koilev thinks it could be possible, refers Seck to Farley the apothecary.

He retraces his route strictly, arriving at about noon on a hot spring day. Farley finishes dealing with a poor householder (discounts the dose) and recollects Seck from those several days ago.

Farley recollects such a potion – able to remove Exhaustion – being theorized about by a senior wizard, now exiled. But at the time he had a young pupil, since risen in his chosen path. Meldorian, now senior wizard of the guild. If someone were to know such a thing, it would be Meldorian.

With an approximation of where to find the wizard Seck thanks Farley, buys the Elixir of Health they discussed before, re-confirms the advice on dealing with lethal toxins and molds, and departs. Since exploring an unknown quarter of the city sounds like something someone else could do he heads to Jackalham’s.

Jackalham’s room charges will be very reasonable

By this time, the Long Roaders have learned that lady Sarissa imperiously ordered they be lodged at her father’s mansion. All of their gear has been brought over from the Ducal Crown.

Lord Jackalham will charge them board, offsetting it against the 5,200 gold coins he still owes them.

Meanwhile, lady Sarissa wants sturdy bodyguards to be with her as she re-engages with her peers…

Corregido offers pros and cons

The three exchange information and divide up tasks again. They all remind one another (especially Phoenix) not to mention casually murdering cultists below the city two nights ago. Phoenix will scout out Meldorian’s address, Seck will keep on the warehouse job list, and Cat will think about valuables.

In pursuit of the latter Cat tracks down Jackalham major-domo Corregido: strikingly southron, succinct: and asks him about resources for such.

Corregido is one of a tiny handful of black southerners in the city. He speaks distinctly, as though to quell any hint of an accent. His advice is sound but does not entirely help. Both of the two main options he can suggest entail the risk of people recognizing the artwork; and should it prove stolen, that could present problems for his lordship.

Seck meets Ronnie the rooftop runner

Seck has had his curiosity piqued by the other two and now, late in the day, turns up at the well court. Kirby is trouncing a slim, longsword-wielding figure while another ex-soldier looks on and offers advice. On closer inspection the slim figure is female.

Ronnie

This is Veronica, or Ronnie, styling herself Vint’s pupil, rude, lithe, dedicated to swordcraft. Once Seck has adroitly wrong-footed her and bypassed her defense three times, he gets respect from the girl. Part of her training, ordained by her “mentor” Vint, is to break the law by running along the rooftops, forcing the watch to try to catch her. Seck thinks he can help her train.

She leads him – takes side-alleys where she can – to Vint’s place. Scents and listens, sneaks him into the tidy, feminine kitchen for a cup of tea and conspiracy.

Phoenix scouts the north-west mage Meldorian

As Phoenix heads across the west concourse he witnesses a holy man and fully armed escort of crusaders ostentatiously depart. North towards the priory then left to the large, trim, whitewashed inn, to ask for directions.

They point him west to the well, and Phoenix finds it alright, but backtracks to a smithy he passed on the same street. This is an up-market steel-smith offering arms and armor as well as everyday ironware.

Phoenix meets, spans arms with, and gets on with like two muscle-bros, journeyman Garel. Too simple to rise any further in the trade, Garel gives Phoenix directions north, to a large house (but no wizard tower) by the priory gate.

Recalling his last visit to a wizard, Phoenix chooses the tradesman’s entrance, meets pretty, dark and very little housemaid Blackie, and heads back to report his success.

Karl agrees to hove-to at noon next

Cat drops up to the guild as his two comrades, suitably dressed, head out as escorts to lady Sarissa. First stop, Elke at the desk.

Unsurprisingly Elke is willing to go out with him again, but she’s surprised to learn his next stop is over to the gaming rooms. She offers to go over with Cat.

Insight: 6. Elke seems no more than put out.

“I will dress down. I will dress way, way down. And you should too.”

As Elke prepares to leave the desk unattended Cat approaches Karl. He inserts himself confidently into a thick atmosphere of old man, tea, and paper. Asks about pricing out artwork.

Karl naturally asks about provenance and date of acquisition. Since crating and transporting sounds tricky he agrees to meet Cat at the warehouse at noon the next day.

Meanwhile, downtime

Seck and Phoenix have an evening and night downtime. Sarissa first visits house Morgan, embraces the daughter of the house, then the two, fully dolled-up, head out for an upper-crust rave. Sarissa’s chosen wig is blue-dragon-themed.

Phoenix [Intimidate: nat 20] confirms what he already suspected: that Jackalham is not a wealthy house. The other bodyguards give him respect!

Meet Hammerwing Arkul

Cat slips the Ring of Mind Shielding on. Hammerwing Arkul’s spirit occupies it. Arkul’s voice is intrusive. But even in the first exchange, Cat learns that Haranshire is strongly linked to the Feywild. Arkul may be loud, but he is also indiscreet.

Cold-cocked on a hot gaming floor

“Give me a safe-word” Elke mutters

“Exit?”

“Exit… right!”

As Cat and Elke scan the public gaming room for a redhead (Avery) or a loud and cheap girl (Goldie) they are accosted by a thug. With a sandbagger sneaking up behind. He is not caught unawares [Insight: nat1 then Inspiration to a nat 20] but is a little slow.

Initiatives: sneak, thug, Cat

The thug swings slowly and obviously and as Cat sways easily out of line he is sapped expertly. [CON SV: 9]

“Exit…” – Cat

As knees jellified he slumps, Cat catches a red sparkle from beside him where Elke stands…

Money’s always welcome

He comes to, out in the night air, slapped awake gently by a couple of women. It’s not doing his headache any good, and that’s going to really cramp his date style.

Out across the way the gaming hall is still abuzz from the ruckus someone caused.

Two women? A cheap, loud one and a redhead? OK then! Cat offers the sewer job, adds that Gillian is in if they are. Goldie is pretty happy to hear about the recovery option, and the two leave Cat to Elke’s ministrations as they head away to spend more money having fun in the hall.

Elke double-checks with the girls before they head in: what’s with Helena? No report yet?

Insight: 10. Elke is concerned about the sending scroll not working. The girls seem relieved to get an in-city job.

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