The party was interrogated briefly by Malathemnon’s departing spirit, and offered one answer apiece in return.
Theodoric was asked what he was willing to do to avenge his master and protect what his master died protecting.
He asked in return…I don’t remember, but it was about Thornlin and the rats and the cult, not about Olfric, as I recall. LIkewise I do not remember the answer.
Elspeth was asked what she was willing to do to give her aunt Katarine the answers she’s looking for about why her husband and children had to die.
Elspeth asked in return what she and the Church should do, and was told to heal, strengthen, and hunt down the evil that has infiltrated through the docks.
Arblaith was asked what he would say to his father when he saw him again.
Arblaith asked in return how to defeat the Plague Lords. Response: “You five are in a very good position to find the turncoat.”
Immanuel was asked whether he would choose the burden of heaven or the prison of hell.
Immanuel asked in return what his book could reveal to help overcome the threats facing the party. The response was “Secret below secret, depth lying below depth, but the truth is behind the veil of matter. The Crocodile stirs in the depths of the abyss,” which wasn’t very charitable of the DM at the time.
Malathemnon asked Hug Hug what he wanted with all these surface dwellers, and Hug Hug boldly said that he wanted to be on the winning side for once. Malathemnon left the poor goblin hanging and didn’t give him a chance to ask his question.
Hug Hug had the party finish looting the last chamber of the mine, which featured a moldy body that Theodoric set on fire to sterilize.
The party met back up with Z the ranger and was introduced to his mentor, Morro the druid, who put them up for the night and showed them the cave where his bats roosted, the bats being the reason you were originally down here. Now that the mosquito tower has been cleared out, they will have to work a little harder to find food…
The party returned to Thornlin about dusk, reported in with Hug Hug (now Huggarar of Gamsin, a town outside Girifrid) and left a message at the temple, then turned in after a long cold journey. They were awakened after midnight by watchmen to let them know they were expected shortly after dawn at the City Tower on Government Square. None of the protagonists were impressed by this.
The party was met at the Inner Gate to the Old City by Nain, the Watchmaster of the Dwarven District, whom they had met once or twice before. He escorted them into what turned out to be the interrogation room, introduced them to the Foremost Liseli, the Watch Overseer Netschman, Alrigo the city Task Mage, and Def-marius of the church of Zuran (god of strongholds), and was dismissed. The party was subjected to magical lie suppression by the tight-lipped cleric. The wizard refused to play his part via detect thoughts and instead offered his critique of the situation telepathically. Netschman took the lead and questioned the party very minutely about their adventures, passing over events in the slums quickly but getting every last detail about what rats or cultists the party had seen where and on what dates.
At the end, Netschman ordered the party to full silence on the matter of plague cultists and ratmen. Arblaith and Elspeth objected warmly that the Temple should know, and the Foremost laconically called Netschman to heel and said that the High Priest and the Treasurer were quite reliable people. Netschman gritted his teeth and agreed that they alone could also be informed.
The Foremost issued the party a 400 crown reward, to be picked up from Nain the following day, and asked if the party had a favor to solicit for themselves or anyone in the Dwarven District. The party took a raincheck.
Afterward, two acolytes with pie on their faces eagerly escorted the party back to the temple, where not just Fror and Balin, but also Grora (Elspeth’s superior and head of charitable works), Dr. Cornelius (Arblaith’s tutor), and Eldrid the Librarian (and Theodoric and Immanuel’s supervisor in their scribe work) were there. The party informed Fror and Balin of the whole story as agreed. Fror promised to have a polite word with the Foremost to make sure that the city administration acts on things, but party members could tell that his primary concern is staying on good terms with city government. Balin quietly shares his greater concern with the party and escorts them back to the others.
The others have been joined by the most prominent person in city government in the Dwarven District, Bolger the Broad, Most Secure of the Locksmiths Guild and on the seven member Council of Elders that is the highest legal body in the city and duchy. He is underwhelmed by Netschman’s order of secrecy and promises to take it up when the Council meets on 11 Secundus (it’s 8 Secundus today, and the start of the two-day midcycle “weekend”). He also offers sponsorship and a favor to the party in the future if they require it.
The afternoon is spent getting back oriented with the party’s day jobs. Arblaith has lessons with Dr. Cornelius and Athos the weapons instructor. Elspeth talks with Grora and then takes a shift at the orphans’ laundry. Theodoric and Immanuel both have books in their queue for copying.
In the evening, the whole party goes with Arblaith to the Fine Time. Arblaith, assisted by his lighting techie Immanuel, gives another superior performance punctuated by inspiring and heartrending sea shanties and continues the Fine Time’s climb toward the upper echelon of drinking establishments: “The Fine Time: Better than you may have heard!”
Elspeth and Theodoric, with minor setbacks, winkle out some news:
- The alcoholic woman whose son died of plague and whose house was overrun by rats has not been seen drinking recently, which is presumably a good sign.
- There is friction between the Blues and Meatheads, who had before the party left been coexisting and staying off each other’s turf.
- One nasty man in the corner, over some rotgut rye, mutters to Elspeth that he knows there is a figure in the Meatheads leading the trouble, and that this figure may be from outside Thornlin. If there’s one thing a Thornlinian hates more than thieves, it’s foreign-born thieves.
- Some wagoneers, who arrive late, inform Theodoric about an influx of miners, put out of work up country, due to change in ownership and failure of mine ownership. There was a lot of consolidation—pretty much all the iron mines were bought up by the same guild, the Lenday Guild, who up to that point had mostly dealt with luxury items. Big politics. The iron mines in Thornlin had been mined out of their easy ore decades ago and were slumming along. The Lenday Guild wanted the best excavators to try some new techniques that were filtering out of Lower Papimic…oh, and by the way, there wouldn’t be any other work for them if they turned Lenday down.
Stage 2, Lenday decided after a couple of years that the iron mines weren’t going to turn around on a timescale that pleased them, so they sold them to some shadowy other guild, or rich bastard, or something.
Stage 3, of course, is that morning comes for the fly-by-night operation and mines are shutting down. Another couple failed at the end of last cycle, and some of the miners are down here, probably up to no good, recruited by the Meatheads or Blues or both.
Meanwhile, late in the evening a woman in a gray cowl comes, sits by Immanuel, appreciates Arblaith’s performance for a while, and then starts telling Immanuel that people in Girifrid have noticed what he’s about and have work, answers, and the ability to teach him more about his powers. Immanuel is cautious but leaves the door open to potentially working out an agreement. She leads him to a nearby alley where they talk a brief while longer until Arblaith and the others arrive.
She turns around to greet Arblaith, who is poleaxed: This woman has the voice and look of his dead mother Kayra. She reaches for him and is just about to clamp down on his neck when Theodoric slams into her and Elspeth, tapping into the righteous forces of life, turns her away with a pulse of holy light. [Kayra rolled a 1 on her Wisdom save.] She leaps up and clings to a wall, climbs it with preternatural speed, and dashes eastward over rooftops toward the docks. Meanwhile Elspeth trips into the four ruffians set to block any escape north toward the Dwarven District. With Kayra gone, and Arblaith channeling his horror into RAGE, these flunkies are no match for the party, and three drop rapidly. (The Legend of the Silver Whip of Wrath is born.) Immanuel, whose ability to detect thoughts stubbed hard against the lead circlet Kayra was wearing (she was apparently not bluffing about detailed knowledge of Immanuel’s abilities), was subsequently able to pull some pertinent details from the mind of the last ruffian as he, too, prepared to run east toward the docks: a vague image of a ship, a pier, and a stong sense that he’ll be safe if he can just get on that ship and out of Thornlin. Theodoric, attempting to head Kayra off, only hears her curse and spit something about “that bitch Lydia” as she dashes with horrible grace over the open space of an alley.
That’s when Athos the weaponmaster, Aramis the out-of-town bard you met at the Side of Bacon, and some fellow with a lot of elven blood that Arblaith has not seen in a long time charge into the intersection, swords and bows waving, looking for more brigands. So we closed on a cliffhanger:
Elspeth starts running after Kayra, with the feeling that she has to try to at least find out more about where she’s going.
The fourth ruffian would really like not to be here any longer!
We are about to see if Arblaith has done any further thinking about Malathemnon’s question: What will you say to your father when you see him again?