“So,” Dale said, glancing back at the assembled group. “What’s the plan?”
“We’ll make a reservation,” Reina suggested.
“Us two?” Lius asked.
“Unless the Amazonian shifter or the loudmouth halfling want to come in,” Reina said, looking at Ina and then Dale.
“No,” Dale said, ignoring the sally. “I’ll happily wait out here.”
He hopped up and sat on the lip of the fountain in the centre of the plaza as Ina nodded to Reina and Lius. “I’ll watch your backs.”
Reina and Lius approached the Edge of the Sky, and when they reached the door, Lius held it open and stepped aside with a grin. “After you.”
Reina scowled and stepped into the lavishly decorated restaurant, which was surprisingly quiet but for the subdued murmuring of the many well-dressed people within. The lighting was pleasant, and the air full of various appetising smells.
As Reina looked around, half in wonder and half in bemusement, the dapper greeter cleared his throat. Reina turned to him, and he smiled politely. “May I help you?”
Reina opened her mouth, but was unable to think of anything to say. Lius glanced at her nervously, then turned to the greeter with a smile. “We were looking to make a reservation.
“Certainly,” the greeter said, opening a book which sat on the desk in front of him. “Did you have a particular date and time in mind? I’m afraid the earliest availability we have will be… Hm, we have had a cancellation on the 25th of Therendor…”
“The 14th of Vult,” Reina murmured, still peering around the restaurant.
The greeter nodded and flicked over a couple of pages. “Yes, I’m sure we should be able to fit you in then. How many will be dining?”
“Four,” Reina replied.
“And what name shall I put them under?”
The greeter made a note in the book. “Very well. The 14th of Vult, party of four under the name of Mya Stone. Anything else I can help you with today?”
“That should be it,” Lius said, studying the restaurant himself.
As Lius and Reina exited the restaurant, they gestured for Ina and Dale to follow. The four walked through the plaza without speaking, noticing that one patrol of city watch seemed to be paying close attention to them. Reina shot the guards a questioning look, only for one of the watchmen to smile saucily and wink at her. Horrified, she turned her gaze resolutely ahead.
“I don’t like the looks of that,” she grumbled.
“Me either,” Lius said. “We should head elsewhere to discuss this.
“Maybe we should head for Brilliant,” Reina suggested.
The group concurred, and walked into the next district, passing through several luxurious housing estates guarded by groups of men in House Deneith colours.
As the group searched for a quiet place to talk, a guard standing outside a house yelled, “You look lost!”
“Indeed we are, sir!” Dale called back. “We’re looking for the nearest park!”
“You’re heading in the wrong direction,” said the guard. “You want to head to the Azure district.”
“Ah!” Dale said, shooting the guard a smile. “I knew we’d taken a wrong turn back there. Thank you very much, good sir!”
A brisk walk back into the Azure district brought the quartet to the large, magically illuminated Cloudpool Park. The group took a seat on an ornamental stone bench, with Ina perching on the back, looking around nervously.
“There’s not a lot of floor space in there,” Reina said under her breath.
“No,” Lius agreed. “That’s probably why we had to make the reservation.”
Reina described the basic layout of the restaurant to Dale and Ina, and Lius mentioned that he had detected various magical auras inside. “I didn’t have enough time to identify it properly. It’s going to be incredibly risky, but we already agreed to it.”
“We’ve got to try,” Reina agreed, looking down with a scowl. “We need a plan of action.”
“We’ve got to assume that security runs all night,” Lius mused.
“That’s a given,” sighed Reina.
“So, we need to get in and out quietly and quickly.”
“I don’t see any way of getting in but the front door.”
“Which is fine. We can do that.” Lius thought for a moment. “I don’t think we should all go in. That would be an awful lot of commotion.”
“Someone should stay outside and look for guards,” Reina said, looking over at Ina. “You’re an archer. You must have fairly good ranged sight.”
“And I will join you inside,” Dale exclaimed, “in case there are guards!”
“The only way I see this working,” Reina said quickly, “is trying to get in and out as quickly as possible, and doing it as directly as possible. We can’t allow for magic or anything like that, because we don’t know, and until it happens, we’re not going to know.”
“Do you want me outside with her?” Lius asked, nodding towards Ina. “Sorry, my dear, what is your name?”
“Ina,” said Ina.
“Nice to meet you,” Lius said with a smile, before turning back to Reina.
“Yes,” Reina said. “You’re fantastic at creating distractions.”
“And I will accompany you, madam!” Dale reiterated.
Reina did her best to hide her dismay. “That’ll work out great.”
The party decided to go their separate ways, and meet back up in the park at first bell. Reina decided to stay in the park, napping in one of the magical cloud bushes of the park. Lius found a high-end inn, while Dale found a less sophisticated place to drink. Ina, meanwhile, was feeling incredibly uncomfortable, and elected to find a narrow, empty alleyway to hide in.
Lius nursed an expensive glass of wine for over an hour, listening in on the banal conversations of the aristocratic patrons. One man was talking about putting a hat on a skeleton in Karrnath, while his friends guffawed mindlessly.
In his bustling establishment, Dale had struck up a rapport with several servants who were drinking there. Having lied about the family he was serving to the barman, he spun story after story, and the more unbelievable they became, the wilder the others’ tales became.
Reina awoke just as the bells were chiming twelve. She got to her feet and walked stiffly over to one of the water features. She splashed water onto her cheeks, and then jogged a couple of laps around the park to wake herself up.
Dale arrived in Cloudpool Park first, and tipped a nod to Reina as she slowed her pace. Lius and Ina arrived shortly thereafter. A few groups of people freshly turfed out of the inns stood around talking, but otherwise, the park was empty.
After a brief discussion, in which Dale was made to promise not to scream, bellow, yell, or otherwise enunciate until the job was complete, the group walked back to the Edge of the Sky, taking a winding route through several back alleys to avoid guard patrols.
“Aren’t you going to find it a bit cumbersome in that bodice, good lady?” Dale asked of Reina’s extravagant dress. Glad to be rid of it, she tore it off and pushed it into her pack.
Finding the gates to the restaurant closed, but the windows still illuminated with at least one person moving around within, the group hid as best they could in the square. Reina crept over to the gate and tried the lock, finding it sealed.
Lius and Reina elected to disperse once more, while Ina and Dale volunteered to watch the restaurant. Dale perched on the edge of the fountain, feigning waiting for someone and Ina secreted herself in the shadows of a neighbouring building.
Reina and Lius returned to find the situation unchanged. A shadow was still moving inside the restaurant, and the gate remained closed and locked.
Reina walked over to Dale and nodded towards the Edge of the Sky. “We should probably…”
Dale pursed his lips and let out a little whistle. “Okay.”
Reina glanced over at Lius and made a quick hand gesture, then slinked over to the iron gate. She picked the lock fairly easily, then made her way up to the restaurant. She slowly turned the doorknob, but found the door as locked as the gate. A quick look revealed that there were two locks, one at the top of the door, one at the bottom.
Aware that a guard patrol would be coming by shortly, Reina hurried back into the square and hid in a dark corner at the edge of the plaza. Like clockwork, two guards walked through the square, yet shortly behind them came something unexpected; two heavily armoured dwarves wearing the crest of House Kundarak and carrying between them a hefty wooden chest. As they headed towards the restaurant, they glanced pointedly at Dale, and then cast their eyes over the three others, hidden as they were.
The dwarves knocked curtly on the door of the Edge of the Sky, and it was opened within seconds. One of the dwarves headed inside with the chest, while the other stood outside, arms folded, eyes fixed on Dale, who stared right back. After a few moments, the first dwarf stepped out, and the pair walked off, the door slamming closed behind them.
A short while later, the greeter opened the door and let out two chefs. Reina watched them walk out of the plaza and down a street, then headed back to the restaurant. She methodically unlocked the bottom lock, then hurried back to the same corner just as the next guard patrol headed through.
After they had left, she returned to the door, but before she could make a start on the top lock, she heard a voice from within say, “I’m all done here. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Heart in her throat, she dashed back to the shadowy corner as the greeter emerged. As he locked the door, he jostled the bottom lock and frowned, confused. Nonetheless, he walked off, and as soon as he had disappeared, Reina went back to the door and finally picked both locks. She turned back to the square and clumsily indicated for Dale to follow when the next set of guard passed through, before heading into the restaurant.
Hoods had been placed over the everbright lanterns leaving the whole room dim and full of long black shadows. All was silent. She padded silently around to the kitchen doors and peered through the porthole, seeing nothing but darkness inside.
Dale entered a short time later, and took a moment to spot Reina crouching behind one of the tables. She lifted a hand to Dale, and he returned the gesture, before she pushed open the kitchen door and headed inside. She found the door to the office was unlocked, and gingerly pushed it open.
The room within was small and sparsely furnished, with one wall dominated by a desk and window, and another by a human-sized metal safe.
On the desk was a sparkling golden statuette of a dog on its hind legs, holding a plate with an engraving proclaiming the Edge of the Sky the best restaurant. Reina handed the statuette to Dale, who shoved it into his pack.
Next, Reina began searching through the drawers of the desk, finding a half-empty bottle of liquor and little else. A small cabinet next to the desk was full of paperwork. Reina asked Dale to look through the paperwork while she broke into the safe. With a small nod, Dale did as he was bid. It didn’t take him long to find the receipts from Nymm, which he put with the statuette in his pack.
Reina, meanwhile, set about picking the lock on the safe. Dale found himself scanning the room, and noticed the back window was slightly ajar, and that there was a damp patch in the corner of the room.
“Reina,” Dale whispered.
Reina halted, wincing at the unexpected interruption. “What?”
“There’s something very, very weird here,” Dale said, looking from the window to the discoloured patch of floor and back.
“You don’t say,” Reina hissed. “We’re breaking into a restaurant.”
“Would you look?” Dale grunted.
“I’m kind of in the middle of something,” Reina snapped back. “What? I can’t leave the safe.”
“There’s… some damp stuff.” Dale paused. “And the window’s kind of open.”
“Who gives a fuck?” Reina sighed, rolling her eyes and continuing to work on the lock.
Frowning, Dale investigated the damp patch closer, and noticed a faint smell of alcohol. The halfling then walked over to the window, drawing his rapier. The view outside was impressive, with the towers of Sharn glowing below and the stars and moons high above. Dale poked the window with the tip of his rapier, but it budged not an inch.
There was a click from within the safe, and Reina quietly asked Dale to move aside. He did so, and Reina slowly pulled the door open, shrinking behind it as she did. When nothing sprung forth, Reina peeked her head around the door. There was a man inside the safe, his face pale and drawn. Reina gasped, and the man sprung forth.
Reina stumbled backwards as the man hammered at her with cold, stiff fists. Dale ducked past Reina and jabbed at the man with his rapier. The thin blade sunk between the man’s ribs, but the man made no more sound than a grunt, and did not give an inch.
“Well, that’s not very sporting, sir!” Dale declared.
All of a sudden, every light inside and outside the restaurant went out. The floor suddenly tilted, and Reina and Dale lurched to keep their balance. Papers spilled from the safe, and the man who had come from within it tumbled towards the back wall, Dale’s rapier slipping from his body.
In the plaza, Ina and Lius watched in horror as a fissure appeared between the restaurant and the Skyway with a deafening crack, and the building began to list away. Lius rushed towards the building, and felt a cold chill of fear when he detected absolutely no magic there.
Reina shouted for Dale to grab as much paperwork as he could, and snatched up a couple of handfuls of paper before struggling towards the door. Dale plucked up an armful of documents and followed close behind. The pair made it into the kitchen, plates spilling from cupboards and smashing on the floor, which was slanting further and further. They hurried through the main restaurant and Dale flung open the front door – to see the Skyway slipping away.
There was a sudden terrible, grinding screech, and the Edge of the Sky slipped off the edge of the Skyway and began to plummet towards the rest of Sharn far below. Reina grabbed hold of the doorframe, which was now above her, and grabbed Dale’s hand as the halfling fell.
Reina clambered half out of the door and looked up desperately as the Skyway rushed away. She screamed for Lius, but saw instead a humanoid figure with huge leathery wings soaring towards her. Dale kicked off the wall and leaped past Reina, grabbing onto the doorframe and shimmying onto the outer wall of the restaurant.
The winged creature set down next to Dale, and the halfling was shocked to see that it was Ina. Reina struggled up onto the wall, just as the restaurant began to pass the towers of Sharn’s upper wards.
“Get onto something!” Reina yelled at Dale and Ina as she got to her feet.
Dale looked at Reina, then glanced about himself. “Good view of the city. Shame about the broken furniture. And the staff are really rude. I think it’s time we left.”
With that, the halfling turned and ran along the wall of the restaurant. When he reached the edge (which was the floor of the building), he leaped, landing on a large balcony. Seconds later, the restaurant collided with a tower on the opposite side, sending a shower of debris below. The restaurant tipped forward once again, becoming wedged between two towers.
Ina and Reina were thrown forward as the downward momentum suddenly halted. Ina took wing, landing on the ground beneath the tower. Several people had gathered, expressions of sheer incredulity on their faces.
Reina, meanwhile, grabbed onto a windowsill, but struck the ledge hard with her ribs, and fell again. She managed to grab hold of the sill with her fingertips, but was left dangling precariously.
Meanwhile, Lius fled the plaza, only to be stopped by the watch. The half-elf did not slow his pace, gesturing frantically behind him as he yelled, “Part of the Skyway is falling!”
Several of the guards rushed past, and Lius heard a yell of disbelief from behind him. “Keeper’s fucking teeth!”
One guard, however, remained, staring at Lius sceptically. Frowning nervously, Lius muttered a word under his breath and made a slight hand gesture.
“What are you doing?” the guard demanded.
“You really need to go and investigate,” Lius exclaimed. “I was just walking by and the whole thing just collapsed!”
The guard was silent for a moment, seeming confused. Then, he muttered, “Alright. But stay there, we’ve got questions for you.”
The guard walked towards the former site of the Edge of the Sky, and Lius sprinted out of the plaza.
Ina moved below Reina just as the redhead lost her grip on the windowsill. Reina fell into Ina’s extended arms, and both women fell to the ground. Dale jumped down from the balcony and climbed down the tower, using protruding stones as handholds.
Bruised and shaken, Ina and Reina got to their feet. Dale looked at them with a smile of relief as he hopped onto the ground.
“I think it’s time we made a hasty retreat, bat woman,” he said.
Ina’s response was drowned out by the roar of masonry being torn away as the Edge of the Sky was dislodged from between the towers and continued its fall towards the lower wards of the city.
“Are you alright?” Ina asked of Reina when there was quiet again.
“No,” Reina whimpered, clutching her ribs. “That went bad.”
Agreeing to meet at The Wooden Pegasus at ninth bell the next night, the three parted ways and made their way down. Dale returned to the hostel in Tumbledown he had rented earlier, while Ina headed towards Fallen. Reina staggered back to her apartment in Broken Arch, an agonising journey which took well over an hour.
When she reached the apartment, Lius was pacing back and forth, his cheeks wet with tears. She had barely stepped through the door when he pounced on her and wrapped her in a tight hug, earning a pained groan for his trouble.
When they parted, Reina offered Lius a weak smile and said, “I’m just going to sleep for the next… seventeen hours.”
“No, no,” Lius responded. “I’m taking you to House Jorasco in the morning.”
“How suspicious is that going to look?” Reina asked pointedly. “Turning up at House Jorasco with wounds consistent with falling when a restaurant was just burgled and fell off the Skyway? I’ll just take it easy for the next few days.”
“When have you ever taken it easy?” Lius snapped.
“I’d argue,” Reina sighed, staggering through to her room, “but I’m already asleep.”
Ina hurried back down to Fallen to see the shattered remains of the Edge of the Sky. Several people were clambering onto the wreckage to scavenge what they could. Ina looked around, but could see no one with any obvious injuries, and realised that although the restaurant had smashed through a bridge and torn away half of another tower on its way down, it had hit no buildings here on the lower wards.
There was no sign of the watch yet, but Ina knew they would be here before long. She turned from the wreckage and headed for her box, giving her robe to a particularly sickly-looking goblin on the way.
In his hostel, Dale searched through the papers he had taken from the restaurant but found nothing remotely resembling a recipe.
Lius was the first to rise, early the next afternoon. Reina got up a few hours later, and sat down to look her wounds over.
“Did you get it?” Lius asked. “Did you get the stuff?”
“I don’t know,” Reina sighed, pulling up her top and gingerly touching her bruised ribs. “Let’s have a look.”
The pair searched through Reina’s satchel, but could not find the steak sauce recipe.
“I hope Dale got it,” Reina mused.
Lius looked at Reina with wide-eyed wonder. “Reina, what did you do?”
“Opened the safe,” she replied. “There was a guy in there. Then the restaurant started falling off the Skyway.”
“Why was there a guy in the safe!?”
“Your guess is as good as mine.”
Lius looked down with a deep frown. “I don’t like this.”
“Me either.” A look of worry suddenly fell upon Reina. “Do we know where the restaurant fell?”
“Presumably, straight down,” Lius suggested helpfully.
“Someone should check and see if the recipe is there,” Reina said, “just in case we missed it. We didn’t have a lot of time to search through the safe.”
“I gathered. Do you want to head down?”
Lius chose his grubbiest outfit and headed down to the lower wards. Finding the debris of the Edge of the Sky was not difficult. People of all bents were swarming to fallen, where a line of guards have formed a perimeter around the crash site.
“This is clearly a sign of the end times!” someone in the crowd was yelling. “Magic’s failing the world! The whole of Sharn will collapse in on itself! But you can find salvation in the Dragon Below!”
Lius kept his head down and strode towards the wreckage as if he had every right to go there. As soon as he reached the line of guards, however, he was roughly shoved back.
“You’re not getting’ passed ‘ere,” the guard snarled.
“Excuse me,” Lius exclaimed. “House Medani.”
The guard squinted suspiciously at Lius. “Do you… got any identification?”
“Do I need it?” Lius asked.
The guard looked dumbfounded at first, then somewhat panicked. “Captain!?”
A portly dwarf in gleaming armour stalked over to the guard. “Aye?”
“House Medani,” Lius repeated. “Let me past.”
“I.D,” said the dwarf, unmoved.
“Damn it, this is an investigation!” Lius barked. “It needs to be done quickly! Let me past!”
“Oh, aye?” the dwarf said with a lopsided smile. “Well, I’m sure some of your friends over there can vouch for you. Hey, Soren! Get over here!”
A willowy half-elf in a long leather duster, who had been picking over the rubble, turned and walked towards Lius.
“Yes?” he asked.
“Trelib sent me,” Lius whimpered, staring at the half-elf, pale and wide-eyed.
The half-elf rolled his eyes. “Just another time-waster. Get rid of him.”
“Sling your hook,” the dwarf growled. Lius glared at the men blocking his way, and stormed off.
Lius next visited Viv’s bookshop to ask what she had heard about the collapse of the Edge of the Sky.
“I’ve heard pretty much everything,” the aged gnome replied. “People saying it’s some kind of divine influence. People saying it’s sabotage. Someone trying to rekindle hostilities between nations. I don’t know.”
“You don’t care, do you?” Lius asked.
Viv smirked. “It’s too early to tell. Have you heard anything?”
“No,” Lius said quickly. “I went down to try and check out the wreckage, but they weren’t having any of it.”
“Where?” Viv asked with genuine curiosity. “How far down did it go?”
“Down to the lower wards,” Lius replied. “Looks like it took a few buildings with it.”
“Bit of a coincidence, don’t you think?” Viv said. “Just a couple of days after Crystalfall. What do you think about that? Someone trying to send a message?”
“A very thinly veiled message,” Lius agreed enthusiastically.
“We’ll see if the best and brightest of Sharn manage to pull their finger out and actually get someone competent in to look at this.” Viv laughed, and Lius laughed along with her.
As the afternoon drew on, Dale purchased a roll of brown paper, and wrapped the receipts he had taken up with the statuette. He went straight on to The Wooden Pegasus, and wasn’t even through his first drink before Reina and Lius arrived.
“Did you get it?” Reina asked. “Did you get the recipe?”
“No,” Dale replied. “I didn’t find it. I take it you didn’t have any luck either?”
Reina frowned deeply. “I wouldn’t be asking if I had.”
She glanced around, but could not see the fixer. There were a lot of people mumbling about the fall of the restaurant, however. Reina bought herself and Lius a drink, and as the barman poured, he said, “So, have you heard what happened to the Skyway?”
“Yeah,” Reina said flatly. “That doesn’t interest me.”
“No?” the barman asked, cocking an eyebrow. “Seems to interest most of the city.”
“Well, I’m not most of the city,” Reina said, snatching up her ale and stalking over to a table.
Ina arrived momentarily, and stood outside. Within, Reina, Lius and Dale sat drinking. The bell tolled ten, then eleven, and still, there was no sign for the fixer.
Reina got up with a sigh, and turned to Dale. “Keep that package safe. I’m sure the fixer will come to us.”
She left with Lius close behind her. Dale finished his drink, and then headed for the hostel. As he stepped out of an alleyway, he saw a group of five watchmen standing outside the door, with the hostel owner talking to them and gesticulating wildly. Without missing a beat, Dale turned and walked back down the alley.
Reina and Lius returned to their apartment to find the door closed and locked. Lius knocked, and after a moment, the voice of Brian Treager, their landlord, came from the other side. “Who is it?”
“Lius,” Lius said, “and Reina.”
“Oh!” Brian said, sounding surprised. “Oh. Uh… hold on. I’ll just… unlock the door for you.”
The sound of shuffling came from within, but it sounded distinctly like the movement of more than one person.
“This isn’t right,” Lius whispered. “We should go.”
The pair turned to leave, just as the door to their apartment burst open and a number of armoured watchmen spilled out. “Stop right there!”