City of Daggers

Session Twelve

The party followed Nikau over to the bar, and gestured to the halfling behind it. “Get these fine people whatever it is they fancy.”
“Rum,” Ina said bluntly.
“I fancy an ale,” Dale said, more politely.
“Your strongest ale,” Reina said.
“Do you have wine?” Lius asked.
“I’m sure I can rustle something up for you,” the barman said.
“One day you’ll like grown up drinks,” Reina muttered.
“Shh!” Lius hissed.
Nikau gestured to the four halflings he had been talking to, and said, “This is the gang. Or what’s left of it. Dollface, Naran, Saran and Nameless.”
“Why is he nameless?” Dale asked.
Nikau contemplated this, then shrugged. “You know what? I don’t really know. This lot do most of the enforcing around the district. Or they will when business gets back to normal. Ideally, what I want you to do is keep an eye on the district. Make sure things keep ticking over. Make sure all the businesses that pay their dues to the Boromar pay up, and if they don’t, go round and find out why not.” The barman brought the drinks over, and Nikau said, “Come on. Drink up. I’ll show you around the businesses.”

When the drinking was done, they headed out into the Bazaar. Nikau explained that the Boromar held sway over the Bazaar and the Callestan district, directly below it. Their first stop in the Bazaar was a hunched, elderly shifter in a back alley, who Nikau introduced as Bakki, the man responsible for pickpockets in the district. Next up, they visited a warforged weapon smith called Sword, then a half-orc named Jon, who ran a carpet stall and a business which Nikau described as a “cleaner,” and a stall which was run by two halflings that Nikau identified as Diveak and Jamgretor Fockle, exporters.
After this, Nikau said, “I’m gonna introduce you to one of the best fences in the district.”
Reina and Lius exchanged a knowing glance, and sure enough, Nikau took them straight to Viv’s shop.
“We know Viv,” Lius said.
“Ahh,” Nikau said. “Okay. This’ll be a quick introduction, then.”
“You don’t have to introduce us,” Reina insisted. “We can skip this one.”
“No, no,” Nikau said. “That’s fine. Just wanna make sure people in the Bazaar knows who’s who.”

The group entered Viv’s shop. She greeted him, then spied the rest of the party. “Oh, hello.”
“Hi,” Lius said nervously.
“Hi, Viv,” Reina said. “Just… dropping by.”
Viv nodded. “I see that, yes.”
“Yeah,” Nikau said. “These four’ll be watching over operations for us in the Bazaar. They say they know you already.”
“Yes,” Viv said. “We’ve had dealings on a few occasions.”
When they left the shop, Nikau said to the group, “No concessions for friends. Make sure she pays her dues.”

Their final two stops were at a stall called Pim’s Poultices and Potions, run by a human alchemist and poisoner called Pimmen Drakeson, and an unnamed stall owned by a gnome scrivener named Jean Albersteen.
“Well,” Nikau said when the tour was done. “That’s it. There the ones you have to keep an eye on. Of course, anything else crops up in the district, be sure to keep your eye out for that.”
“Any of them in particular cause you trouble?” Dale asked.
Nikau shook his head. “Nah, they’re all fairly reliable. You know, Jean occasionally maybe slips a few silvers past us, but as long as we get the cash off him. The better the district does, the better you do, so best keep things ticking over. So, I’ll leave you to it, then. You know where me and the boys are.”

Reina, Ina and Dale immediately started on their rounds, while Lius headed off to Viv’s shop. Viv smiled as Lius entered, and said, “Hello Lius. You here to shake me down for money?”
“No,” Lius squeaked. “Not at all. I’m here to work.”
“Oh,” Viv said. “I thought you were under the gainful employment of the Boromar.”
Lius looked down anxiously. “Um…”
“I don’t think you get to ‘um’ the Boromar,” Viv said.
“You think they’d mind me working here as well?” Lius asked.
“Let’s just say it’s best not to mix your interests,” Viv advised.
Lius frowned deeply. “I like working here.”
“I know you do, dear,” Viv said, smiling fondly. “But I think we both know it doesn’t pay particularly brilliantly.”
“When you work like I do, it doesn’t,” Lius murmured. “Still, if you do ever need anyone. I’m sure a couple of hours here and there won’t hurt. What they don’t know.”
“I suppose not,” Viv said. “And I always know where you are if trouble does occur. It’s nice to know that you’ll be on hand.”

Lius wandered the Bazaar for around fifteen minutes, until he bumped into Reina.
“That was quick,” she said. “Even for you.”
“She doesn’t want me working there now,” Lius grumbled.
Reina frowned. “Awkward.”
“No,” Lius said resentfully. “It might offend our new employers.”
“Well, can we still use her as a fence?” Reina asked.
“I didn’t ask,” Lius said.
“That would be an unfortunate door to close to us,” Reina said. “Well, want to help me look for trouble?”
“Sure,” Lius said half-heartedly.
“It’s alright,” Reina said. “With you by my side, I’m sure no one will cause any trouble. They won’t want to tangle with you.”

It did not take long for them to locate a commotion – a man arguing with a stall owner over the quality of a garment he had bought from her. Before the situation could escalate, however, and before Reina and Lius could intervene, the man threw down the garment and stormed off.
A few more hours passed, incident free, until, just before midday, everyone in their respective areas of the Bazaar spotted pickpockets at work. Everyone set off after their respective targets, Reina and Lius chasing after a young girl who had swiped a belt pouch, Dale pursuing a gangly human who had lifted a wallet, and Ina following a halfling who had taken something from another halfling.
Dale was the first to catch up to his prey. “Good haul?” he asked loudly.
The man spun around, held up two empty hands, and said, “Don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He walked casually away, and Dale set off alongside him.
“What do you want?” the man demanded.
“Nothing,” Dale said. “I was just interested in where you might be going.”
“None of your business,” the man snapped.
“Might be my business,” Dale replied. “Might be the Boromar’s business.”
“What? No. What? I… I’m with Bakki. It’s alright.”
“Jolly good then. Carry on.”
Dale turned and walked away. The man watched after him, perplexed, then continued on his way.

In another part of the Bazaar, Ina crept up to the halfling she had been following and tapped him on the shoulder. In an instant, he was gone, running full pelt down the crowded street. Ina took off after him, weaving in between people as best she could. The halfling was fast, though, and could easily duck between people’s legs. She almost lost him, but eventually managed to grab a hold of his tatty brown robes.
“Get off!” the halfling howled. “Get off!”
Ina dragged him over, and growled, “Hope you’re taking that to the right people.”
“Yeah,” the halfling spat back. “It’s going to Bakki. If it don’t get to him, there’ll be trouble. We’ll come after you.”
“Good,” Ina said. “That’s what I was doing.”
Ina released the halfling, who swiftly kicked her in the shin and took off once again at full pelt. Scowling, Ina sent an arrow flying after him, which narrowly missed.

Lius, meanwhile, walked over to the young girl, while Reina held back. The girl continued weaving through the crowd, and Lius soon lost her. Reina caught up, also having lost sight of the girl.
Lius suggested going to inquire with Bakki, but Reina insisted on getting lunch first. After they had eaten, they went into Bakki’s alley. A couple of children were standing in the alleyway, and both of them glared at Reina and Lius as they entered.
“Don’t worry,” Lius said. “We’re friends.”
“I don’t know you,” one of the youths, a scrawny, sallow-faced lad, snapped.
“We know Bakki,” Lius replied.
“Don’t know Bakki,” the boy said.
“Fine,” Reina said. “You don’t know Bakki. But should you see someone who looks like they might be called Bakki, maybe you should just make sure he’s getting everything he should be today.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked the boy.
“Well,” Reina shrugged. “You don’t know him, so you wouldn’t know. But, just a piece of advice.”
“How am I supposed to pass on a message if I don’t know him and I don’t know what you’re talking about, you weirdo?” the lad demanded.
Reina shrugged, and the children scurried off.

At fourth bell, everyone called it a day. Lius and Reina dropped by a locksmith to have a key cut for Ina, then headed back to the apartment, where Ina was already waiting. After they ate, Reina headed out to search for a copy of the Sharn Inquisitive. She found some copies pasted up, and gave them a quick scan, seeing a brief mention of Fallen now being quarantined, but little else of interest.
Dale, meanwhile, headed out to The Wooden Pegasus, where he caught up with the regular drinkers and spun his usual tales.

A few days passed, and the group continued their patrols for the Boromar clan. On the Sul of that week, as Ina was patrolling her section of the Bazaar, Nikau approached her.
“Here,” he said. “Gather up your mates and meet us at the Talon. Got some business to discuss.”
Ina made her way around the Bazaar, locating the rest of the party, before they made their way to the tavern. Nikau was there, along with his four associates and a halfling with his arm in a sling, his face a mess of bruises. When the group entered, Nikau gestured for them to sit down.
“When we were first chased out of this district,” Nikau explained, “the Daask had an ogre with them. You know it’s all gone quiet on that front, but our friend here’s had a run-in with him. So, yeah, we’re thinking of getting a few of the boys together and going to see what we can do about the ogre problem.”
“Is it just one?” Dale asked.
“Yeah,” Nikau said. “Just the one.”
“Well,” Dale said. “I don’t mind taking down an ogre.”
“I hear they’re big and tough,” Reina said.
“Yeah?” Nikau sighed. “Well, it’s strength in numbers, innit?”

“So, where is this ogre?” Dale inquired.
“Last I saw,” the injured halfling piped up, “he was in Oldkeep district.”
“Why did he…” Reina gestured to the halfling.
“I got off light!” the halfling said with a humourless chuckle. “You should see the other ones.”
“Is he just doing it for fun?” Reina asked. “Or to make a point?”
The halfling shook his head. “No. He’s got one of those little scaly fellas sitting on his shoulder, telling him where to go.”
“Kobold,” Lius said.
“So was the kobold just doing it for fun?” Reina asked.
“No,” the halfling snapped. “He’s doing it for the Daask.”
“They’re probably not gonna hang around in the Bazaar,” Nikau said, “so gather up your things and let’s get going.”

The party headed off to Djinn Alley, where the halfling said the ogre had emerged from. Nikau said that he would gather up his men and follow after them. The street was narrow and somewhat dim, with tall houses seeming to loom over the central thoroughfare. The party gathered on the edge of the street, and waited for a short while until they saw Dollface hurriedly approaching.
“Nikau and the rest are on the way,” he exclaimed, hunching over and panting as he stopped.
“Are you alright?” Lius asked.
“Yeah,” Dollface grunted. “Gimme a minute.”
Before the halfling could continue, Lius heard the thudding of heavy feet approaching.
“I think we’ve got company,” he wheezed.
Dollface looked around, flustered. “Where? Where?”
Lius nodded towards the end of the street. Dollface pointed to an alleyway leading off from Djinn Alley, and said, “That’s where Micker said he came from. Ideally, that’s where we need to stop ‘em going back down. Make yourself scarce.”
Dollface ran off and began to clamber up an awning. Reina hopped up onto a window ledge, but before she could get any further, an ogre lumbered into the street, with a small kobold sat on his shoulder.

Dale clambered up the side of one of the buildings, while Reina continued her ascent onto a rooftop. The ogre stopped in his tracks, and the kobold muttered something to him. In turn, the ogre pulled a huge chunk of wood from its back and waved it around, roaring angrily. Unperturbed, Lius threw a hand forward and muttered an incantation. The kobold looked around, startled, then quickly drooped, tumbling from his companion’s shoulder.
Reina readied her short bow and fired off a shot at the ogre, only for the arrow to bounce off its thick hide. Ina, too, loosed a couple of arrows, but was equally unsuccessful. The ogre, completely ignoring these attacks, prodded his small companion, and growled, “Wake up.”
At his insistent poking, the kobold stirred, and seeming to fully regain his senses, scampered back up the ogre’s thick arm. Lius hopped back and unleashed a blast of colour and light, which took the kobold down once again. Reina loosed another arrow from her rooftop, and the kobold was pierced straight through the middle.
“Yeah!” Dollface cried out. “You got ‘im!”
Reina looked down, horrified, as blood began to pool beneath the kobold. Lius, too, looked down at this, aghast. The ogre looked down at his fallen friend, let out a pained howl, and lurched forward, swinging his club wildly. It struck the slate awning on which Dollface had perched, and the halfling went flying. Detritus rained down on Lius, who stumbled backwards, holding his arms up defensively. The ogre continued advancing, and Lius cast whelm against him.
“Ow!” the ogre roared, clutching its head. “Hurts!”
The ogre barrelled forward and swung its club down at Lius, with the force of an oncoming lightning rail. Lius went down in one horrible, boneless motion and, seconds later, more rubble came falling down on top of him.

With a defiant yell, Dale leapt from his ledge, seconds before the ogre shattered it with a wide swing of his club. Dale latched onto the ogre’s shoulder, and jabbed at it with his rapier.
“Dale!” Dollface suddenly yelled. “Get out the way!”
Dale turned to see a hoard of halflings charging down the street towards them. Taking advantage of this distraction, the ogre hurled Dale to the ground.
Tears streaming down her face, Reina jumped down from the rooftop and charged towards where Lius had fallen. Dropping to her knees, she began to frantically pull rubble away, uncovering the lifeless half-elf. When he was free, she lifted him up with both arms and began to shuffle down the alley, away from the ogre.
The halflings reached the scuffle, and Nameless hurled a boomerang at the ogre. It hit the beast square between the eyes, and with a throaty gurgle, the ogre staggered back and then fell to the ground. Nikau ran out from the group, leaped up onto the ogre and began to frantically stab it with a dagger.

With the battle over, Ina charged down the alley after Reina. She stopped the pair, and whispered, “We probably need to go back.”
“Fine,” Reina mumbled hollowly, turning and staggering back towards Djinn Alley. As they reached the street, Nameless hurried over.
“Is he alright?” the halfling asked.
“No,” Reina sobbed.
“I’m sure he will be,” Dale said, walking over, “once we get him to House Jorasco.”
“I don’t think there’s time for that,” Nameless said, pulling a vial from his knapsack. “Give him this.”
Reina gingerly fed Lius the potion, then continued on her way towards the nearest House Jorasco enclave. Ina followed after her, while Dale remained with the other halflings.
“We’ll leave these two here,” Nikau grunted, clambering off the prone ogre. “Word’s bound to reach the Daask sooner or later what we done.”
To emphasise the point, Nikau snatched the boomerang off of Nameless, and buried it in the ogre’s face.

Reina managed to get Lius to House Jorasco, where he was whisked away on a gurney. Reina followed, collapsing into a seat in the waiting room.
A halfling approached her, and said, “What do you want us to do with him?”
“Make him better,” Reina croaked.
“There’ll be a fee involved,” the halfling said, somewhat indelicately.
“Fine,” Reina said. “Whatever.”
“Shall we give him magical healing or long term care?” the halfling asked.
“Just make him better!” Reina snapped.
“You’re the boss,” the halfling said. “His injuries are quite severe. We could get him up and walking again for… maybe sixteen gold.”
“What if I said he was injured helping Nikau?”
“Maybe five gold, and he’ll be good as new.”
Reina gave the halfling six gold, and let her head loll back, her eyes closed.

Less than thirty minutes later, Lius walked gingerly into the waiting room. Reina flew forward, wrapping him in a tight hug and covering him in kisses.
“You’re so stupid,” Reina said. “You’re so stupid!”
“Why am I stupid?” Lius asked, hugging her back. “Don’t be mean, I just died.”
“Shut up!” Reina insisted, kissing him more.
“Where’s everyone else?” Lius asked.
“Who cares,” Reina said.
“_You’re_ stupid,” Lius said, not unkindly.
“Yeah,” Reina agreed. “We’re all stupid, for getting involved with these people.”

Dale, meanwhile, headed to the Talon, where he explained to Naran and Saran what happened. The twins listened, and then commented that their suspicions of Malleon’s Gate being used as a Daask base were more or less confirmed.
“Good job, Dale,” Saran said.
“It’s good to have you on the team,” Naran enthused.
“Glad I could be part of the operation,” Dale said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a friend to go and see.”
The halfling wandered over to the Bazaar, where he purchased a bouquet from a flower girl, before heading onto the House Jorasco enclave. There, he was informed that Lius had been healed and discharged, and so he moved onto the apartment.

When he arrived, Ina was filling Lius in on what he missed.
“Hello,” Dale said, holding out the flowers uncomfortably. “Good to see you up and about. These are for you.”
“Oh,” Lius said with a surprised beam.
“It’s the best I could do at this time of night,” Dale said defensively.
“They’re lovely,” Lius said. “Thank you.”
“I’ll go now,” Dale said.
When the halfling had left, Lius gave Ina one of the flowers from the bouquet, and left one outside Reina’s bedroom door.

The next morning rolled around, warm and drizzly. Dale made his way to the usual meeting point at the usual time. Shortly thereafter, Lius and Ina arrived, looking tired and listless.
“No Reina today?” Dale asked.
“No,” Lius said. “She’s… ill.”
“Oh,” Dale said. “Alright, then. I’ll cover her portion.”
“We could just divide it between us all,” Lius suggested.
“No,” Dale insisted. “It’s fine.”
The trio divided, and set about their usual routine. Around mid-morning, Dollface approached Lius, and asked how he was doing.
“I’m okay,” Lius insisted.
“Yeah?” Dollface asked. “Well, good job on the little scaly fella.”
“Thank you,” Lius replied. “Did everything work out okay.”
“Yeah,” Dollface said. “Yeah, we got ‘im. Those Daask certainly ain’t gonna be messing with us in a hurry.”
“Well… good,” Lius said, unsurely.

The day passed without further incident, and that evening, Dale returned to The Wooden Pegasus to tell tales of his daring exploits.
Lius, meanwhile, decided to talk things through with Reina, who seemingly had not left her bedroom all day.
“It was an accident,” he whispered, knowing what she had been thinking without her needing to say.
She was silent for a long moment. Then, quietly, sullenly, without moving, she said, “Was it?”
“I don’t think you meant to kill anyone,” Lius said. “Not you.”
“Of course not,” Reina said sharply. “But… I wasn’t careful.”
“It was an accident,” he repeated. “You can’t be responsible. You were defending the rest of us.”
She looked down sadly. “That doesn’t excuse me, Lius. I… I killed someone. You can’t know what that’s like.”
“No, I may not, but I know what you are like. You made a mistake, but that doesn’t make you a bad person. Think about it. The Daask hurt people all the time, they’re not afraid to rough up anyone in their way. I’m not saying it changes anything, but… Perhaps Sharn is richer for losing one of them.”
She was quiet for a long moment, then shrugged. “Maybe. Still… I… I don’t want to be the one to do that. I don’t want to do it again. I… I can’t become someone who’s comfortable with hurting… killing people.”
Lius shook his head and leaned down, giving Reina a quick kiss on the cheek. “You wouldn’t. I know you wouldn’t.”

The next day, all four of the group headed out on patrol, but one by one, were contacted by a halfling, who advised them to go and see Nikau.
Lius visited the Talon first, where he found Nikau counting a huge stash of money. The halfling said, How are you feeling?”
“I’m fine,” Lius said.
“I saw you out there,” Nikau said. “It’s always good to have a spell caster with us. What can you do with that?”
Lius listed some of his spells, and Nikau quizzed him on his more offensive spells, which Lius admitted wasn’t his strong suit. As they talked, Dale arrived, and Nikau gestured for him to wait while he concluded his discussion with Lius.

When they were done, Nikau handed Lius a small pouch of gold and a healing potion “just in case,” and sent him on his way. He ushered Dale over, and said, “Dale. Good of you to join us.”
“You wanted to see me?” Dale asked.
“Certainly do, Dale,” Nikau said. “You got a glowing review from Dollface. I heard you were jumping all over that ogre, giving it what for. That’s what I like, you know? Someone who’s got the confidence to really take it to the Daask.”
“I do have confidence,” Dale agreed.
“I like your initiative,” Nikau continued. “Trying to figure out where they’re coming from, that’s something we’ll maybe be able to look into in the future.”
He gave Dale a bag of coin too, and the blond halfling headed out.

Ina arrived next.
“I hear you did some good shooting out there,” Nikau said. “Good to have someone on point, but if you can lay off the pickpockets a bit? I like your enthusiasm, you know, but maybe less chasing, alright?”
“Dunno,” Ina said with a smirk. “It’s good exercise.”
“Yeah. Don’t wanna scare ‘em off, though.” He handed Ina a bag of gold, and said, “You might wanna check in with Sword. I hear he’s got some good arrows going cheap. Something to spend your newfound wealth on.”

The group met up at lunch, and Lius asked Reina if she had gone to see Nikau.
“Yeah,” Reina said. “I heard he wants to see us. So we should probably…”
“I’ve already been,” Lius said. “I went straight there.”
“Oh,” Reina said. “Well, the rest of us can go.”
Dale and Ina looked around uncomfortably, and Reina sullenly said that she would go to the Talon on her own.

“Hi,” Nikau said when Reina entered the tavern. “How’s it going? Some good work the other day. Just got to ask, though. You and Edric? You… got a thing?”
“You could say that,” Reina said cautiously.
“Right,” Nikau said slowly. “Yeah. Okay. Um… that’s alright. Just so I know. Dollface said you got a bit rattled when he went down, so… there gonna be a problem?”
“As long as it doesn’t happen again,” Reina said, “it won’t be a problem.”
Nikau frowned. “Yeah, well, you know. Dangerous work. But it pays well. Here you go.” The halfling tossed Reina a pouch of coins. “Good work. Just keep it together, yeah?”
“Sure,” Reina sighed.

When their patrols were done, Ina went to visit Sword’s stall.
“Would you care to buy a blade?” the warforged asked.
“Arrows more my thing,” said Ina.
“I’ve managed to get my hands on a few quivers,” Sword said. “Not a lot. Twenty of each, but two kinds.”
“What you got?” Ina asked.
Sword reached under his stall and pulled out two gleaming arrow heads. He tapped one, and said, “Twenty of these. Non-magical, but finest you’re likely to get.” He held up the other arrow head. “Serpent’s head. Okay for shooting people, better for shooting things. Small things; ropes, weapons, strings. Cuts right through.”
Ina bought a number of each arrow, and Sword said that he would inform her should any new items of interest come in.

That evening, Dale hit the town once again, taking home a pretty young halfling woman. The next morning, Lius commented on his odd scent, which Dale brushed off. They went on their usual rounds, until they were once again summoned to the Talon.
Nikau was talking with Naran and Saran as the party arrived. He quickly concluded his discussion, before turning his attention to the party.
“Things have been going smooth in the Bazaar,” Nikau explained, “thanks to the new blood, here. Problem is, we’re having a bit of trouble down in Callestan. Seems the Tyrants have decided we’re clearly not good enough to be offering them protection. Decided to take things into their own hands. Someone’s gonna have to go down there and have a bit of a word with them.” He looked over at the party. “How about it? They don’t know you. They don’t seem to want to talk to any of these lot.”
“What are the Tyrants, exactly?” Dale asked nervously.
Nikau laughed. “Don’t worry. Their bark’s a lot worse than their bite. If you want a new identity, you want a stand-in, you want an alibi, you go to the Tyrants. They’re pretty much all changelings, and maybe some doppelgangers, we don’t know. Either way, you’ll find the head honcho, at least the one we do business with, in a tavern down there called the Broken Mirror.”
“So,” Lius sighed. “What exactly needs to be done here?”
“You know,” Nikau said. “Just go down there, see if you can convince ‘em that the Boromar aren’t exactly on the decline anymore. I don’t know, throw around some magic. Swing your sword, shoot some targets, whatever you want to do. Disappear into the shadows, just impress them. That’s all I’m saying.”
“Anyone we should ask for in particular?” Reina asked.
“If you go to the barman,” Nikau explained, “say you want to talk straight to his face. Don’t ask me, it’s a stupid code thing they’ve got going. He’ll see you to the right person. Let us know how it goes. We get good money coming in from the Tyrants, you know? We certainly don’t want it to disappear.”
“I can imagine,” Lius murmured.
“Well,” Reina grumbled. “No time like the present.”

Session Eleven
Harassy Gnoll

Lius closed the door, and the group began to help Viv clear up the mess that was her shop floor.
When everything was more or less squared away, Viv muttered. “I’m fine. I’ll be able to finish off the rest of this. You’ve got some gnolls to go and see.”
“I think we do as well,” Lius said, his voice uncharacteristically determined.
“Indeed,” Dale agreed. “Do you have any idea where we’re going to find them?”
Viv shook her head. “They’ll probably still be somewhere in the Bazaar. I’m sure you won’t take long to find them. They haven’t exactly been subtle with their business.”
“It doesn’t look like it,” Reina grunted.

The quartet headed straight out, and it didn’t take long for them to find more stalls that had been ransacked. They followed the trail of destruction, until they reached an open square, where a large crowd had gathered around. The party pushed their way through the mass of babbling spectators to see a group of gnolls, orcs and goblins surrounding a halfling who was tied to a post.
“Daask in charge of Bazaar, now!” a hulking, grizzled gnoll was barking. “You give money to Daask! No Boromar!”
Dale stepped forward, drew his rapier, and announced, “My name, good sir, is Dale Hornsbuckle! You ruined my employer’s shop. Prepare yourselves!”
The nearest gnoll stepped forward, jabbing a jagged axe at Dale. “You! You give money to Daask!”
“I don’t think I do, good sir,” Dale replied. The gnoll glared at Dale, and growled something in gnoll. “Really? Then let’s see if your bark is as bad as your bite!”

The gnolls converged on Dale, who managed to spin out of the way of one attack, only to land in the path of another axe, which knocked him to the ground. Hooting and snarling, the gnolls kept at him, swinging down with axes and cudgels. Reina edged her way around the crowd, which simply stood and gawped at the unfolding spectacle. Lius cast a spell, and suddenly, a dazzling rainbow of lights sprayed from the crowd. Several gnolls and orcs fell to their knees, clutching their heads and wailing. The largest gnoll turned to Lius, roared, and pulled out two huge metal clubs connected by a thick chain. Lius staggered back, but with the crowd around him, there was nowhere to go, and the big chunk of metal struck him squarely in the chest. Letting out a great whoosh of air, the half-elf slumped bonelessly to the ground.
Reina suddenly sprung from the crowd on the other side of the square, sinking one of her daggers into a gnoll’s side. The beast let out a lilting yelp, blood seeping from the chink in its armour.
“Are you just going to stand there and watch!?” Reina roared at the crowd.
No one made a move to help, and taking advantage of the distraction, an orc barrelled into her. Reina nimbly dodged out of the way, and an arrow took it in the side. Another arrow whistled from the crowd, striking the lead gnoll. The creature roared and snapped the arrow which was jutting from its shoulder. It stepped over Lius’ prone body and began to stalk towards Ina, swinging its metal club.
“Me kill you!” the gnoll roared. It cracked Ina in the side of the head with its weapon, and the shifter was thrown to the floor, blood trickling from her crown.

Dale managed to slip out from the group attacking him, and jabbed up with his rapier, stabbing one gnoll in the throat. With a gurgling growl, it fell to the ground. Dale let out a cry of victory, but a cudgel swiftly brought down on the back of his head cut it short, and he slumped to the floor. Wasting no time, a goblin ran across and began to rifle through his things, eventually running off with his mirror.
Reina, spying Lius lying prone, ran through the square and began to drag the half-elf into the crowd. Lius’ eyes flicked open alertly, and he pushed Reina away. The redhead stepped aside, surprised, and Lius got to his feet, shouting an arcane word and throwing his hand out at the gnoll which was towering over Ina. The gnoll let out a cry and reeled forward, seeming to lose all coordination and falling to the ground.
The rest of the Daask seemed worried by this, and stepped away from the tied up halfling and the various members of the party. Reina sprung from the crowd and clubbed an orc over the head with the butt of her dagger. Lius cast another spell, sending a goblin spiralling to the ground. This seemed to be enough for the monstrous gangsters, who one by one fled the scene.

Reina tied up the lead gnoll with her rope, while Lius darted over to Ina to see if he could help her. A woman pushed her way through the crowd, and said, “I know a bit. Can I help you?”
“Yes!” Lius said. “Please.”
The woman crouched down and began to look Ina over. Reina checked on Dale, and seeing that he was in no immediate danger, walked over to the bound halfling. She plucked the gag out of his house, and he sucked in a few deep breaths.
“Gods… damn it…” he panted. “Thank you very much for the assist.”
“So… who are you?” Reina asked. “And why are you tied up?”
“My name is Nikau,” the halfling grunted. “I’ was supposed to be checking up on the Boromar situation in the Bazaar. Seems these stupid dogs got wind of who I was, decided they were gonna make an example of me.”
“Seems they’ve got the upper hand over you guys at the minute,” Reina observed, nicking the rope with her dagger. Nikau took a step forward and stretched.
“Did you get the big one?” he asked. “I couldn’t quite see from where I was.”
“He’s… not going to be clubbing you over the head anytime soon,” Reina replied.
“What do you mean by that?” Nikau asked gruffly. Reina nodded over to the tied up gnoll. “Ah. You’ve got him alive. Excellent.”
“What are you going to do with him?” Reina asked.
The halfling grinned savagely. “Probably gather up a few of my mates and we’ll do what he was gonna do to me. Make an example of him.”
“That’s my rope,” Reina said. “Can I have it back?”

As Nikau tied the gnoll up with the very rope he himself had been bound with, Lius asked what had happened to the Boromar presence in the Bazaar.
Nikau shrugged. “Had a bit of a run-in with the Daask down in Fallen, the rest of the boys who were here. No idea what happened to them.”
“What was that business all about down there?” Reina asked. “That’s the one thing I can’t get my head around.”
“I dunno,” Nikau shrugged. “I wasn’t part of it. What do you know?”
“There were a lot of dead gnolls and halflings down there,” Reina said, “back when the whole undead thing was going on.”
“And now it seems to be goblinoid controlled,” Lius added.
“Yeah?” Nikau said. “Where’d you hear about all that, then?”
“We didn’t hear about it,” Reina replied. “We saw it.”
“What?” Nikau scoffed. “You were down in Fallen?”
“We were,” Lius confirmed.
“What were you doing down there?” the halfling asked.
“Investigating,” Reina said.
“Hm,” Nikau said contemplatively. “You guys seem to know how to handle yourselves. How would you like to work for me?”
“Like… full time?” Reina asked sceptically.
“Yeah. You know. We’re a bit light in the Bazaar, as you know. Could use some extra muscle.”
Reina shot a glance at Lius. “I tell you what. Give me your contact details, and we’ll come see you if we think that’s something that’s gonna work for us.”
“Yeah? Well, if you need me, I’ll be in the Bazaar. You’ll be able to find me. Just ask for Nikau.”

Before they parted, Nikau advised Reina and Lius to take Dale and Ina to the House Jorasco enclave in Stormhold. They did so, where they were greeted by a middle-aged halfling, who took one look at Ina and Dale, currently bundled into a barrow, and exclaimed, “Good Gods, what happened to these people!?”
Reina struggled to think of something, so Lius jumped in. “Drunken brawl. You know how it is.”
“This seems like quite a serious drunken brawl,” said the halfling, looking them over.
“Yeah,” Lius said. “They get really passionate when they’re arguing about things.”
“Well,” the halfling said, “what do you want us to do with them?”
“Heal them, please!” Reina replied.
“We can tend to their wounds,” the halfling said. “Or there’s magical healing. Which one are you willing to pay for?”
“I don’t know,” said Reina. “We were sent here by Nikau.”
“He assured us you’d be able to help,” Lius added.
The halfling looked from Lius to Reina to the unconscious pair in the barrow. “Why didn’t you say so? Come with me.”

Ina and Dale were taken into the enclave, and the halfling offered Reina and Lius a heavily discounted rate. He asked about the situation down in the Bazaar, and Reina assured him that things were better now.
Ina and Dale’s treatment took but a few minutes, and they were escorted out into the waiting room.
“You did yourselves proud, guys,” Reina said, standing to greet them.
“Are you kidding!?” Dale exclaimed. “I took down a gnoll! That was amazing!”
“You weren’t the only one,” Lius mumbled. “By the way, a goblin took your mirror.”
Dale began to despair, so Lius gave him his mirror.

The party were discharged, and together, they headed back to the Bazaar and Viv’s shop.
“Oh!” the gnome said. “You’re back! That was quick. Did you find them?”
“Yes,” Reina said flatly.
“They’re taken care of,” Lius assured her.
“Marvellous,” Viv said.
“We even got offered employment with the Boromar,” Reina scoffed.
Viv raised an eyebrow. “Really? I thought they’d all cleared out of the district.”
“Apparently not,” Reina said. “Apparently, they’re a bit more diverse than I thought.”
“Perhaps they’re desperate,” Lius suggested.
“I don’t know,” Dale said. “I like to think I fit quite well.”
“_You_ might,” Lius hissed.
“Sure, the Boromar are mostly halflings,” Viv said. “But the further down the chain you go, the more diverse you’re likely to find it. Seeing as pretty much every criminal in Sharn’s had dealings with them at one point or another. It goes without saying that they’re going to branch out slightly.”
“Down the rungs we would be,” Reina agreed.
“What exactly did they offer you?” Viv asked.
“I think we got the offer to be dumb muscle,” Reina said.
“They didn’t offer us any sort of payment or anything like that,” Lius added.
“I imagine if it’s dumb muscle in the Bazaar,” Viv said, “they’ll want you to be collecting all the protection money and such. And keeping any more Daask from the district.”
“I don’t fancy that,” Lius said.
“Not an enviable job,” Viv agreed. “But I’m sure it could be a rewarding one if you’re willing to do that kind of thing.”
“Well,” Reina said. “Let’s see how desperate we are when rent’s due next time. Speaking of which, are you feeling squared away enough to have a look at some merchandise?”

Viv flipped over the sign on the door, and looked over the gems that the group had lifted from the Bountiful Lass. Viv said that she would be able to find a buyer fairly easily, and asked the group to return in a couple of days. She also said she would forego her usual cut, as thanks for the help with the Daask situation.
Dale and Ina returned to their various lodgings, while the Lius stayed behind to help Viv around the shop. As they worked, Viv quizzed him for details about the scuffle in the Bazaar, and Lius was happy to provide her with information. Reina, meanwhile, headed back out into the Bazaar, where she saw a newly erected wooden stake, with a fresh gnoll skin hanging from it.

The next day, Lius was tasked with minding the shop while Viv fenced their goods. Reina elected to come along and help.
“I’ll make sure he doesn’t burn the shop down,” Reina said with a grin.
“Very good, dear,” Viv said, before whispering to Lius, “Make sure she doesn’t talk to any customers.”
Lius set about tidying the shop, while Reina sat behind the counter, reading a book about dragons. It was about an hour later when the first customer entered the shop, a man who browsed briefly and then left. The next couple who came in asked Lius a few questions, and he helped them find a book they were looking for.
“You’re actually pretty good at this” Reina observed after the pair had left.
“I try,” Lius said modestly.
A short time later, a tall, slender man entered, and nervously asked, “Is Viv about?”
“No,” Lius said apologetically. “She shouldn’t be too long. Can I take a message and get her to contact you?”
The man considered this, then said, “No. I’ll come back later.”

An hour or so later, Viv returned. She looked around with a wry smile, and said, “I see no one’s managed to burn the place down yet.”
“Don’t worry,” Reina said. “I’ll tackle him if he tries anything.”
“Well,” Viv said. “A great success. It seems like your gems were hot property.”
Viv plopped a bag of coins down on the counter. Reina took it and gave it a feel, estimating that the bag contained at least 100 coins.
“A tall gentleman came in for you earlier,” Lius said to Viv. “He said he was coming back later.”
Viv nodded. “Ah, yes. I’m sure he will.”
“It doesn’t feel right you not taking anything,” Reina said, holding out a handful of coins. “Here’s 20%.”
“No,” Viv said. “Absolute nonsense. I won’t hear of it. I told you I’d be doing this as a favour to you.”
“Well,” Reina sighed. “We really appreciate it.”
“Besides,” Viv said, “with the Boromar having a low presence in the next few weeks, I imagine I’ll be able to take a bit more of a cut than usual.”

Lius and Reina headed over to Tumbledown and dropped Dale’s share of the money off, before they returned to the apartment. Lius took ten gold from Ina’s share and from Reina, before heading down to Brian’s office.
“Oh,” he grunted as he opened the door. “Hullo, Lius.”
Lius handed over a handful of coins. “That’s the rent for this month.”
“Oh!” Brian said, clearly surprised. “Thank… thank ya very much.”
He stood there awkwardly for a moment, and Lius attempted a little conversation, but when it went nowhere, he bid him good day and headed back upstairs.
Ina, meanwhile, headed down to Fallen to assess the situation. She noticed that there were far fewer people around than usual, but more watchmen. When she reached the centre of the district, she found a rather large garrison had been set up. Instantly on edge, she quickly made her way back up to Broken Arch.

A short time later, Reina headed down to the Bazaar. As she wandered the stalls, she spied Nikau, who walked over to her and said, “How’s it going? Have you thought anymore about my proposition?”
“Yeah,” Reina said. “We need to discuss with a few people, and see which way the land lies. Have you spoken to any of your people now the Daask are hopefully taken care of?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Nikau said. “We’re… y’know, we’re slowly filtering back into the district. Got it all under control. You know how it is.”
“Good,” Reina enthused. “It’s better with you guys than with… those others. I saw the token in the marketplace, by the way.”
Nikau grinned. “Oh yeah?”
“Hopefully that’ll get the message across,” Reina said.
“Yeah. Should think twice now about messing with us. Buy, you know, if you do wanna think again on my offer, then let me know. There’s benefits to helping us out. I mean, what are you looking for in particular?”
“I’m just browsing.”
“Yeah? Well, as it would happen, we get a bit of a discount. Look after the merchants, the merchants look after us. So, just have a think on that. Alright?”
“Definitely. Will do.”
“Well. Be seeing you, Mya.”

“Hi,” Lius said eagerly when Reina returned to the apartment.
“Hey,” Reina said.
“Did your… errand go well?” Lius asked curiously.
“Yeah,” Reina said. “Fine. I ran into that guy again. Nikau, the halfling.”
“Oh,” Lius said. “Okay.”
“He seems pretty insistent that we help him out. It’s kind of creepy. He kept being like ‘ooooh, name drop me.’”
“Well… I’m not sure we want to get tied in with a criminal gang.”
“Yeah. Damn criminals.”
Lius frowned. “You know what I mean.”
“Yeah. I’m not comfortable with the violence.”
“Maybe we should consider it. On a… not on a permanent basis…”
“Maybe we should see exactly what he’s got in mind.”
“Can you really say no to these people without them holding a grudge?”
“I have no idea.”
“I assume the worst.”
“Well, that’s probably sensible. Look, let’s just see how it goes.”
“Try one thing for him and see if we wanna carry on working for him?”
“if we see him again, we can ask. If we don’t happen to run into him, then it’s no big deal.”
“Okay. Okay, maybe. Yeah. Yeah, I can just about handle that.”

The pair shared a bottle of wine that evening, and when Lius went into the bedroom, there was a box on the bed. When he opened it up, there was a mirror and nice outfit, neatly folded, inside it. He turned to see Reina standing in the doorway, smiling.
“Present,” she said.
“Why?” Lius asked.
“‘Cos you lost your mirror and your outfit,” Reina said. “I tried to get as close as I could. You can show your titties off in this.”
Lius smirked. “What, so you can get into more fancy ships?”
“I help you,” Reina said, “and I am in turn helped by you.”
“Thank you,” Lius said, walking over and hugging her tightly. “I don’t have anything for you. Do you want a book?”
“What’s it about?” Reina sked, smiling down at her friend.
“Pirates,” Lius said.

The next morning, Lius had barely put on his new clothes when there was a knock at the door. He opened it to see Dale standing in the hallway.
“Hello,” Dale said.
“Oh, hi,” Lius replied.
“Just wondered if you were doing anything about this Nikau situation,” Dale said.
“We still haven’t decided,” Lius admitted, standing aside and letting Dale enter the apartment. “Be quiet, the ladies are still asleep.”
“I figured as much,” Dale said, sauntering over to the sofa and taking a seat.
Lius sat down opposite him. “We can’t decide what to do.”
“But Lius,” Dale insisted. “They’re a great bunch of lads.”
“Just… given who they are,” Lius said, “I’m just dubious at the moment. Reina and I were saying we might see what it is he wants doing first, and see how well we work. Just because I don’t want to enter into some kind of contract with him right away.”
“I expect he’ll want the same thing from us,” Dale observed. “He isn’t gonna give us full-fledged membership to a criminal syndicate just for falling over and getting injured. Either way, if you guys aren’t gonna go for it I probably am.”

Lius woke up Reina and Ina, saying, “We need to discuss what we’re doing about the Boromar.”
“That’s why you got me up!?” Reina asked. “I thought we talked about this.”
“Well, we need a definite answer,” Lius said. “We need to know what we’re doing. Are we all going to go with it?”
“Look,” Reina said. “Let’s talk to him and see what he proposes, and then we can either say ‘yes, that sounds great’ or ‘thank you, but we’ll have to pass on this occasion.’”
“Okay,” Lius said. “Well, we should do that today, then.”
“Fine,” Reina grumbled. “In a few hours. Now where’s my breakfast?”

The group headed down to the Bazaar, where they searched around for Nikau until they were directed to a small tavern called the Talon. There were several halflings in the tavern, including Nikau, who was sitting in a corner, talking to a couple of others. He nodded to the group, motioned for them to wait for a moment, and then, when his conversation was over, walked over to them.
“Good to see you,” he said. “So, have you decided to come on board, then?”
“What did you have in mind for us?” Reina asked. “I’ll throw it out there right now; we’re not particularly comfortable with violence.”
“Well… hopefully it won’t come to that, you know?” said Nikau. “You just, you know, you need to keep an eye on the Bazaar. Make sure the Daask don’t decide to move in. Make sure that if there’s anything going down, the Boromar gets its fair share. That kind of stuff.”
“Sounds amenable,” Dale said.
“Yeah,” Lius agreed. “I think we can do that.”
“Alright,” Nikau said, smiling. “Great, then.”
“What’s the… remuneration situation?” Reina asked.
“Well, it’s… commission-based, mostly,” Nikau explained. “You know. You do the work for the Boromar, you bring us a gold, we give you a silver.”
“As long as we don’t have to sign any contracts or anything,” Reina said with a nervous laugh.
“Nah,” Nikau said. “Nothing that formal. But, look, if you’re having second thoughts about this, then fair enough. Ain’t gonna hold you to anything. But once you’re in, you know, we’re gonna expect you to look after us like we’re looking after you.”
“Absolutely,” Dale said.
“That sounds perfectly reasonable,” said Reina.
“Well, great, then,” Nikau said. “Come in, have a drink. I’ll introduce you to the crew.”

Session Ten

After they left the dock, the group headed up to the Bazaar. Dale noticed that there were far fewer halflings loitering around than there had been previously.
“I guess they moved on,” he muttered to himself.
“Who moved on?” Lius asked.
“Oh, just some halflings that I happened to cross paths with,” Dale said. “The Boromar clan. Sent them down to Malleon’s Gate.”
“Oh,” Reina said. “That’s who that was.”
“Who?” Lius asked.
“Shifty halflings,” Reina said.
“Oh,” Lius said. “You saw shifty halflings too?”
“Yeah,” Reina replied. “It didn’t seem particularly unusual.”
“Why would you send them to Malleon’s Gate?” Lius asked of Dale.
“Because I figured there might be something down there that made the goblins move,” Dale replied. “I believe there’s a plot afoot somewhere.”
“But if the Boromar wanted something from Malleon’s Gate, why were they in Fallen?”
“It wasn’t something for them. But maybe someone wanted the goblinoids out of Malleon’s Gate.”
“But why were there Boromar in Fallen, then?”
“I’m not saying it’s what they want. It’s what whoever wants. Perhaps it’s all a ruse. Perhaps the goblinoids were given something that they would quite like to claim, so that they could get free passage through Malleon’s Gate.”
“Maybe it’s nothing to do with us,” Reina suggested, “and we shouldn’t worry about it.”

The party headed onto Viv’s shop, where Dale elected to stay outside.
“We’re trying to hatch something down on the docks,” Reina explained, “but getting intel’s been a little harder than we thought. We didn’t know if you might know a guy who knows a guy who might be able to help us lift some cargo that won’t be too missed.”
“Or a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy,” Lius suggested helpfully.
“What cargo in particular?” Viv asked.
“Valuable cargo,” Lius said.
“Has this power vacuum left anyone starved for a certain something?” Reina asked.
Viv thought for a moment. “Medical supplies seem to be in high demand at the moment. Since the scare down in Fallen, people seem to be stocking up on preventative herbs and curatives. I’m not aware of anything else moving at the moment.”
“Not sure I feel entirely comfortable stealing medicine,” Reina murmured.
“No,” Ina agreed. “Not doin’ it.”
“Well,” Viv said, “everything else will sell. It’s just not in particularly high demand.”
“Well, if you do have a contact,” Reina said, “we can discuss with them what items we can liberate.”
“You might try a fellow by the name of Gyles Helmer,” Viv suggested. “Owns the Knucklebone Tavern down in Sharn’s Welcome. They get a lot of sailors through there. He might have overheard something.”
“And is he the sort of person we’ll have to be subtle with?” Reina asked. “Or can we just lay it out on the table?”
“Probably best not in earshot of the sailors,” Viv said, “but I’m sure if you present some coin, he’ll be happy to oblige.”

The party headed back to their respective lodgings and changed before heading down to the bustling district of Sharn’s Welcome.
“Fancy a tumble, governor!?” one whore called out to Lius.
“Another time, perhaps,” Lius called back nervously.
They found the Knucklebone Tavern, which was a small, dilapidated building full of noise, heat, roiling sailors and half-dressed whores. As they crossed to the bar, a scuffle broke out, but by the time they reached their destination, it has fizzled out. Two men were behind the bar, one older and scarred, the other younger, but only slightly less haggard.
“Good evening, gentlemen!” Dale announced.
The younger man leaned over the bar, and grunted, “Alright. What can I get you?”
“Four pints of your strongest ale,” Reina said, “and whatever else these guys are drinking.” Reina burst out laughing, while Lius giggled anxiously.
The barman nodded. “Four silver, miss.”
Reina handed over the money, and the barman lined up four mugs of ale. Reina downed hers, while Lius took a sip and stuck his tongue out, grimacing.

As they drank, the older barman grunted, “Gyles, I’m gonna change the barrel.”
“Alright,” the younger man, Gyles, said.
Once the older man had left, Reina leaned over the bar, and said, “You’re Gyles?”
“Who’s asking?” the younger man asked.
“We may have something to discuss,” Reina said. “But this isn’t the time or the place. We have a mutual acquaintance, I think.”
Gyles gave Reina a suspicious glare. “Yeah?”
“When does the place close?” Reina asked.
“When there ain’t no more people here,” Gyles returned brusquely.
“Okay,” Reina said. “Well, my name’s Reina. I’ll try and talk later.”
“Alright,” Gyles said, walking over to serve another drunken sailor.
Reina walked over to the others, where Lius held up his ale and said, “You could slice this. We could live on it for a week.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” Reina said, taking another swig.

Reina and Dale broke off to socialise, while Ina and Lius remained at the bar. Ina ordered a glass of cheap rum, while Lius continued to nurse his ale.
Reina found a group of sailors, where a hulking half-orc woman was having a drinking contest with a burly human male, and soon joined in with the chanting and cheering. After a couple of pints, the human collapsed, and the half-orc woman threw her arms up with a celebratory cheer, before vomiting down her front.
One sailor soon began to attempt to chat up Reina, and she gleefully played along, even buying the sailor, Will, a drink.
Reina tried to turn the conversation around to the group’s career, and when she asked what boat they were on, the whole group cheered in unison, “Bountiful Lass!”
“I am!” Reina enthused. “Thank you!” Several of the sailors laughed boisterously at this, and everyone resumed drinking in earnest, with Reina occasionally attempting to find out about the Bountiful Lass’ route and cargo.
Dale, meanwhile, wound up dicing with another group. Lius, also found himself gambling, on a card game, winning eight silver on his first hand and eight on the second, only to lose on the third.

As the night drew on, someone spilled a drink over a man who sat with an armed and armoured group who looked like mercenaries. The man leaped to his feet and drew a sword on the unfortunate patron, who looked ready to faint.
“Uther!” another of the mercenaries snapped. “Hold your sword! We’re not going to get any information if we run through any of the locals!”
For a moment, the mercenary looked as though he would ignore this advice, but finally lowered his sword with a look as black as thunder. The sailors who Reina had been drinking with began to bristle, and a few patrons hastily left the establishment.
The atmosphere was tense for a moment, and then, Uther lifted his sword and cracked the man on the head with the pommel. He staggered back, blood pouring from his brow, and all hell broke loose.
As the sailors began brawling with the mercenaries, Reina went for the door, grabbing Dale as she passed him.
“But it was just getting good!” the halfling complained.
More and more people fled from the bar, and both Lius and Reina found themselves swept along with the crowd. Dale stepped to one side, and continued to drink his ale, observing the mayhem as the tavern’s doors were literally torn from their hinges. Ina grabbed the man who had been knocked out and dragged him under a table as the brawl intensified.

Dale strolled out of the bar and nodded casually to Lius and Reina, who were huddled outside the bar.
“Where’s Ina!?” Reina demanded.
She peeked inside, and spotted the shifter crouching in the corner. The fighting had subsided, with the sailors and mercenaries each retreating to either side of the room, staring each other down. Gyles cautiously made his way out from behind the bar, and said, “Go on, that’s it! You’ve had your fun! Go on, bugger off! We’re closed!”
Slowly, but surely, everyone filed out of the tavern, until only the barmen and Ina, Reina and Lius were left. Ina began to help the older barman set the bar to rights.
“Don’t think this’ll mean there’s a free drink for you,” the barman grumbled.
“Don’t want one,” Ina said dismissively.
Reina, meanwhile approached Gyles, who angrily said, “What do you want!?”
“We’ll help you get your bar straight,” Reina said. “Then we’ll talk.”
“About what?” Gyles asked.
“We were told by Vivian Varadar that you might be a man to talk to about certain jobs down here,” Reina explained.
“So, what?” Gyles grunted. “You want information? Is that it?”
“Yes,” Reina replied.
“Why didn’t you pissin’ well say so in the first place!?”
“Well, you know. Bar full of sailors and mercenaries, it didn’t seem like it was best to go announcing.”
“You don’t have to go and say it out loud, do you!?” Gyles thrust a broom in Reina’s direction. “You want information? Here you go.”

Begrudgingly, the redhead began sweeping up debris. Lius also set about helping Ina clear up the mess. Finally, when the bar was as right as it was getting, Gyles motioned for the three left in the bar to take a seat.
“Alright,” he said. “What do you want to know?”
“We’re looking for some things to steal,” Reina said.
Gyles gave Reina a disapproving look. “What?”
“Steal,” Reina repeated. “From the docks. We were told you might be able to help.”
“What my friend means,” Lius said, “is we’re a little light on coin. We’re looking to liberate some stuff from one of the ships.”
“What he said,” Reina sighed.
Gyles shrugged. “What have you got in mind.”
“Honestly?” Lius said. “Anything we can sell on and is not gonna be missed.”
“Well,” Gyles said, sitting back. “Whatever you take, I’m sure someone is gonna miss it. Best bet, if you want to be taking cargo off a ship, is find one that’s leaving early in the morning. They’ll load up the night before, then leave it overnight and head off in the morning. At least, that’s what they usually do. Coming in and getting drunk in the meantime.”
“I don’t suppose you’ve heard of any bringing in anything of particular interest?” Lius asked.
“Yeah, I’ve heard of a few,” Gyles replied. “Of course, I’m gonna have to replace quite a bit of furniture here. And, of course, I’ve lost the rest of the night’s earnings. So if you make it right…” Lius handed over a small bag of silver, and Gyles shook his head. “Mate, it’s not even midnight yet. It’s going to take a bit more than that. You want the information, it’s twenty gold.”
“Thank you for your time,” Reina said, promptly standing.
“Yeah?” Gyles grumbled. “That’s what I thought. Waste of my time. Get out of here, the lot of you.”

“It’s fine,” Reina said once the group was outside. “I know just the ship.”
“Oh yeah?” Lius asked.
“Yeah,” Reina said, grinning. “He told us everything we needed to know, and he doesn’t even know it.”
“Who?” Lius asked.
“That guy!” Reina exclaimed.
“Reina,” Lius sighed. “I think it’s time for you to go to bed.”
“No,” Reina said. “It’s time for us to rob a ship.”
“Reina, shush!” Lius hissed.
“Listen,” Reina whispered. “All those guys I was drinking with are on a ship that’s leaving tomorrow. They’re taking supplies to some place. It’s perfect! We’ve been handed a golden opportunity!”
“What do they have on the ship?” Lius asked.
“Supplies,” Reina said glibly.
“Reina,” Lius said softly. “I don’t think you can complete a job in this state.”
“I’m fine!” Reina insisted. “We’re never going to get as good an opportunity as this.”
“Why?” Dale asked, wandering over. “What happened to the information?”
“I’ve got the information,” Reina insisted, glaring at the halfling. “We’re gonna… it’s called the Bountiful Lass. All of the sailors are either drunk or have just been knocked out.”

Lius elected to head back to the apartment, while Dale returned to his own lodgings to fetch his rapier. Ina and Reina went down to Ship’s Towers to see if they could locate the Bountiful Lass. After around half an hour, Reina found the ship, it’s figurehead a maiden holding an overflowing horn of plenty.
When Ina joined her, she said, “If you wanna go and wait for Dale, I’m gonna try and find some way to get out there.”
“Alright,” Ina said.
Reina made her way to the edge of the dock, spotting several small rowboats. She found a place to stay out of the way until Ina and Dale arrived. Reina gestured to a nearby boat, and the three of them clambered down to it. Reina pulled her hood up and then untied the thick, slimy rope which bound the boat to the dock. Ina and Reina took up an oar each, and began to row out to the Bountiful Lass.

The going was hard, but eventually, they found themselves alongside the impressive vessel. A light was burning in one window, so they rowed around to the boat’s portside, where a chain led from the deck to the cold water below. Reina tied the ship’s rope to the anchor chain, then turned to Dale, and whispered, “Please try to keep it on the down low this time.”
“I give you my oath as a swordsman,” Dale said, before grabbing hold of the hefty iron chain and shimmying up towards the boat. Ina and Reina watched anxiously as he grew smaller and smaller, until he disappeared into the darkness.
The halfling reached where the chain entered the ship, with the deck still some way above him. Dale considered his options, then leaped up, grabbing hold of a dangling piece of rigging, clambering up to the deck. He peered around, but saw no one, so clambered up onto solid ground.
Reina followed soon after, and then Ina. Reina scanned the deck, spying a hatch which she assumed led to the cargo hold. Creeping over, she saw that the hatch was secured with a large padlock. Reina crouched by the hatch, asked Ina and Dale to keep a lookout, and then set about picking the lock. When it popped open, she attempted to open the hefty wooden door, but couldn’t quite manage. Ina gripped the iron ring and heaved up with her, and together, they opened the hatch.

Below was dark, save for the moonlight shining down through the hatch. Reina could see crates below, and a ladder lying on the floor. Frowning, Reina tied her rope to the hatch door, and asked Dale for his torch, flint and steel. He handed them over, and Reina shimmied down into the cargo hold.
Ina followed, joining Reina in a spacious hold chock full of crates, barrels and sacks. The women decided to split up and make their way around the hold, opening various containers. They bypassed shields, saddles, berries, cosmetics, oats, spices and metal ingots, until Reina found a barrel of fine cut gems. She began to load up her bag with them, ushering Ina over to do the same.
When they were loaded up, they set the ladder up and hurriedly climbed up to the deck. Reina snuffed the torch before she joined Ina and Dale up top. With Ina, she carefully lowered the hatch, and secured it with the padlock.

Reina was the first to leap down to the anchor chain and climb back down into the boat. Ina followed, then Dale, who jumped most of the way.
“Let’s go!” he hissed.
They rowed away from the Bountiful Lass and back towards the dock. They managed to reach a small jetty with several other rowboats moored to it without attracting any undue attention. Reina secured their boat to the jetty, and the three of them walked off as unassumingly as possible.
When they reached the apartment, it was the early hours of the morning. As soon as the front door opened, Lius hurried over to them, and asked, “Did you do it!? What did you get!?”
Reina opened her bag, and Lius eyed up its contents with a gasp. Reina searched through the gems, and thought that their combined worth was probably 100 gold.

The next day was Sul, and Viv’s shop was closed. Dale elected to stay in the apartment and guard his investment. Reina, meanwhile, convinced Lius to go and visit his parents. The pair made their way up to Cirris and Aria d’Lyrandar’s home in Oakbridge, where they were greeted by Lius’ round-faced, curly-haired mother.
“Surprise!” Lius announced weakly.
“Oh,” Aria said, smiling. “What a pleasant surprise to see you both!”
“Hey,” Reina said.
“We were in the neighbourhood,” Lius mumbled.
“Well, come in!” Aria said. “Come in. To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”
“We don’t need a reason, do we?” Lius said. Aria offered him a somewhat sceptical look, to which Lius insisted, “We don’t!”
“It’s been a while,” Reina conceded. “We’ve been a bit busy, but we had a free weekend, so we thought it’d be lovely to come and see you.”
“Well, that’s very kind,” Aria said, “but I wish you’d have called ahead. I would have laid on some extra food for you.”
“It’s okay,” Lius insisted. “We won’t take up your day.”
“Well, I’m just in the kitchen, getting something ready,” Aria said, shuffling along the hallway. “Your father’s in the study, if you want to go and see him.”
Lius was silent for a moment, before croaking out, “I’ll… I’ll leave him to it for the moment.”

Reina and Lius followed Aria into the spacious kitchen, which was full of the smell of fresh vegetables and rich stew. She offered the pair a drink, to which Lius said, “No, thank you. But do you want a hand?”
“If you’ve got a hand to spare,” Aria said. “You can chop some vegetables.”
Lius set about this task, while Reina said, “I’ll have a glass of wine, if one’s going.”
“You do know it’s not even midday yet, darling,” Aria said disapprovingly.
“Yes,” Reina said. “But it is the weekend.”
“Yes,” Aria said, shrugging. “I suppose it is.”
Aria poured a glass of wine for Reina, and a smaller one for herself. She asked if Lius wanted to join them, and when he said he did, poured a small glass for him too. She made small talk with them as she busied herself about the kitchen, asking what they had been up to. Lius briefly touched on his work at the bookshop, mentioning that Viv had scalded him for reading on the job.
“You should totally read it,” Lius said. “It’s really good.”
“Hmmm,” Aria mumbled. “I’m not sure. I didn’t like that last book you recommended.”
“To each their own,” Lius sighed. “This one had pirates! Then again, I think the last one did too…”
“We also had a tour around the Golden Dragon,” Reina said excitably. “It was amazing.”
“Ooh, yes!” Aria said. “I’ve been trying to get Lius’ father to go on a cruise with me on it.”
“I’ll go on a cruise with you, if you want,” Reina exclaimed.

As Lius was chopping vegetables, he heard the click of an opening door, and slowly turned around, gritting his teeth. The tall, slender figure of Cirris d’Lyrandar appeared in the door, and he said, “Ah. Hello, Lius.”
“Hello,” Lius said tersely. “How are you?”
“Very well,” Cirris replied. “How are you?”
“Uh… good, yes,” Lius said, turning back to the chopping board. “Just dropped by with Reina.”
“Hi,” Reina said.
Cirris nodded to Reina, not taking his eyes off of Lius. “And to what do we owe the pleasure of this visit?”
“Why is everyone suspicious of me?” Lius muttered under his breath, before saying, louder, “I don’t need a reason to visit my parents. Do I?”
“Well, we haven’t heard from you in nearly a month,” Cirris said. “We were beginning to wonder what happened to you.”
“I’ve just been really busy,” Lius said. “Sorry.”
“Busy doing what?” Cirris inquired.
“Viv’s been… keeping me busy,” Lius said.
Cirris nodded. “Still in the same bookshop, then?”
“Yes,” Lius said. “Business has been really good. Hence why I’ve been so busy. Busy with business.”
There was a brief, uncomfortable silence, before Cirris announced, “Well, I’ll leave you to it, then.”
Lius did not turn around as Cirris walked out of the kitchen and closed the door to his study.

“The stew smells great,” Reina said after a moment, trying to dispel the tense atmosphere.
The silence stretched out a little longer regardless, until Lius said, “So… what’s he working on?”
“Oh, his usual projects,” Aria said.
“And… how are Aril and Iavar?” Lius asked reluctantly.
“They’re fine,” Aria replied. “Aril’s still in Stormhome. Iavar is doing his usual rounds.”
“So… they won’t be dropping by?” Lius asked.
“Not today,” Aria said. “No.”
There was another silence, punctuated only by the bubbling stew and the rhythmic tapping of Lius’ knife. Reina asked for another glass of wine, and Aria said for her to help herself, before turning to Lius and saying, “You know, Lius, I’m not nagging but you know what your father thinks about you working in that book store.”
“Yes,” Lius mumbled, looking down at the chopping board. “But… it’s gainful employment.”
“I know,” Aria sighed. “But he just wishes that you’d do something a bit more… challenging with yourself. There’s a whole wide world out there. You belong to one of the best connected Houses in all of Khorvaire. The world, even. You could go anywhere, do anything. A small bookshop in the Bazaar of Sharn isn’t exactly an adventure, now, is it?”
“No,” Lius said, his voice barely above a whisper.
“Just… you know,” Aria sighed, “if you do ever decide that you want to do something a bit more interesting, you’ll have your father’s and my blessing.”

Lius finished chopping vegetables, and Aria added them to the stew.
“Sure does smell good,” Reina said again.
“I’m just sorry that you didn’t let us know you were coming,” Aria said. “I could have prepared a bit more for you.”
“Perhaps next time,” Lius said. “I should have a quick word with father.”
“Yes,” Aria said. “I think so.”
Lius walked slowly through to Cirris’ study, his steps heavy and his face ashen. He reluctantly knocked on the door, and Cirris’ deep voice came from the other side of the door. “Yes?”
“Can I come in?” Lius asked.
“Yes,” Cirris said. “Yes, come in.”
Lius opened the door, stepped inside, and quickly closed the door, pressing his back against it. Cirris was sat at a large dress, writing something. When he was done, he set down his quill and turned to Lius.
“How are you doing?” Lius asked. “What have you been up to? Did you hear about the Golden Dragon?”
“Yes,” Cirris said. “Yes, thank you. Someone mentioned in passing that it was due by. You mum keeps pestering me to go on a cruise with her, but the rate that thing travels, we’d never get anything done.”
“You should take her when you get some downtime,” Lius suggested. “It’s very nice. I had a look around.”
“Maybe one day,” Cirris said, “when I don’t have quite so much on.”

“I was talking to Augustus,” Lius said. “He happened to mention-”
“Ah, yes,” Cirris interjected. “Old Gusty. What were you seeing him about?”
“Oh, we were talking about the Golden Dragon,” Lius said. “He happened to mention that some cargo had gone missing on one of the voyages.”
“Oh, really?” Cirris asked. “What in particular went missing? I hadn’t heard of anything.”
“I think some dragonshards went missing,” Lius said. “I found it quite interesting, so I went down to speak to Aelandra about it. I… she wouldn’t tell me anything, so I may have mentioned that you wanted to know.”
“Ah,” Cirris said. “I see. Did you find out what you wanted to know?”
“Not… not really,” Lius admitted. “She didn’t tell me much. But I just thought it was better coming from me that I’d mentioned you.”
“I see. Well, I suppose I should be flattered that you think of me in such a situation. If you do feel that you want to get involved in House affairs, then you need only come to me and I could arrange something. Maybe an apprenticeship. I know several airship captains. Or even on the sea, if that’s what you’re interested in.”
Lius processed this for a moment. “Yeah, maybe. Maybe. Who did you have in mind?”
“I’m sure your brother would be more than happy to take you on as a crew member.” Lius did not respond to this. “But, I sense that maybe you’d prefer to go somewhere else.”
“Perhaps that would be better for both of us.”
“If I recall correctly, old Gusty has a son that captains an airship. I might be able to pull a few strings, get you on board with him.”
“I’ll keep it in mind. Definitely.”
“Yes. Please do.”

The pair made small talk for a little while longer, until Lius excused himself. When he returned to the kitchen, Reina was giggling, and the bottle of wine was nowhere to be seen. Lius suggested that they should be going, and Reina muttered, “I really wish we could stay. That stew…”
“Call ahead next time,” Aria insisted.
“We will,” Lius said. “I’m sorry she’s drunk all your wine.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Aria said.
“I swore it wouldn’t happen after the last time,” Lius sighed.
“Not quite as much as last time,” Aria whispered with a smirk.

When they got back to the apartment, Dale sprang to his feet, wielding his rapier with a yell. Lius imitated his cry, and drew his own rapier.
“Is that really how you hold that?” Dale asked, frowning at Lius.
“Some of us have had professional lessons,” Lius retorted, sheathing his blade.
Reina prepared some food, and everyone ate together. In the afternoon, Reina visited the bath house, then bought some more groceries, while Lius read one of his books, and Dale read one of Lius’ books.
“I hear Lord Hamilton dies at the end of that one,” Dale said, glancing over at Lius.
“It’s non-fiction,” Lius said sharply.
“Yes,” Dale replied, going back to his book.
In the evening, Reina and Lius went for a walk, but got only a couple of streets away from their apartment before they came across a group of monstrous humanoids, including an ogre, walking in the same direction. Lius quietly suggested that they discreetly follow them, and they did so, keeping their distance, until they lost them after cutting down an alleyway. Perturbed, they returned to the apartment, wondering what this could signify.

The next morning, everyone rose early and headed out to Viv’s shop. When they reached the Bazaar, however, they noticed that several stalls had been vandalised.
“What happened?” Reina asked of a merchant who was picking up the pieces of his stall.
The man shook his head. “Bloody Daask. Trying to make a move on the district.”
“Did this happen last night, by any chance?” Reina asked warily.
“First thing this morning,” the stall owner replied. “They just rolled through demanding protection money, and before anyone had a chance to pay, they started wrecking stuff up.”
“Viv!” Lius said, alarmed. The group hurried to Viv’s shop, and were horrified to see door had been smashed open. They hurried in, to see books scattered everywhere. Viv was stacking books on the counter.
Lius ran over to her, and asked, “Are you alright?”
“Yes,” Viv grunted. “I’m fine. I know a bunch of gnolls who very soon won’t be.”

Session Nine
Skills to pay the bills

The next morning, Lius headed off to work at Viv’s shop. Dale, too, headed there, inquiring after work.
“I’ve had a word with Lius, you know,” Viv said to him with a little smirk.
“Oh?” Dale asked edgily. “Really?”
“Yes,” Viv replied. “Quite interesting how your stories differ.”
“Well… you know…” Dale mumbled. “Defending one’s honour, and all that…”
“I’m sure you had nothing but the best intentions,” Viv said.
“Absolutely,” Dale replied. “He’s a good old boy. Didn’t want him to get the sack or anything. Thought I might cover for him.”
“He’s doing a good enough job of that himself,” Viv said, her tone growing icier. “Of course I don’t have any work for you. What do I look like, an adventurer’s guild?”
“Some menial tasks then?” Dale suggested. “As a way of an apology.”
Viv snorted laughter. “Sorry. I don’t think I’ve got anything for you today. I’m sure if I do, I’ll pass it onto Lius. If he and Reina wish to work with you again, I’m sure they’ll be in touch. Good day.”

Ina and Reina decided to take a trip down to Fallen to assess the current situation. The barricades around the district had been reinforced with beams and various detritus, and the watch presence had once again been reduced to zero. There were various groups of goblinoids loitering around, who glared at the pair as they passed.
“You wouldn’t think this place could get any worse,” Reina muttered. “But…”
They headed around to their usual point of ingress, only to find the round opening blocked off with wooden boards. Reina scrabbled up the wall, slipping once on a loose stone, and dropped the rope for Ina to climb up.
Reina peered through a gap between the boards, but could not see much. Frowning, she leaned back and kicked one of the boards. With that one motion, the whole mess fell apart. Reina ducked out of the way, as did Ina. After a moment, when no commotion was raised, Reina peered down, seeing the streets below deserted. They quietly made their way down to ground level, noticing that the rubble caused by the huge warforged had been cleared away, as had the zombie it destroyed. They hurried across the street and into the alleyway. The boxes that Reina had stacked and that had subsequently been shattered by the warforged were still there, but when they emerged at the other end, saw that the debris from the building that the warforged had emerged from had also been cleared away.

As they pressed on, they heard voices ahead, and ducked out of sight. Ina peeked out, where she saw a hobgoblin arguing with two goblins. The women waited, until the voices moved off, and then carried on further into the district.
They soon reached a building, from which more raised voices emanated. Reina peered through a narrow window, but saw only darkness within. Ahead they would have to pass by the open doorway of the building, so they turned back and headed around the other way. They had only gone a couple of steps when they heard a yell from behind. They turned to see two goblins, who had clearly just walked out of the building carrying a large pot between them. The pot was now on the floor, and the goblins were glaring and shouting at them.
Ina nocked an arrow, while Reina began to back up. One of the goblins took a tentative step forward, one hand behind his back. The other turned and yelled down the street. Seconds later, a brawny hobgoblin stepped around the corner, growling. Reina turned and ran, with Ina close on her heels.
“Stop!” roared the hobgoblin. “Stop!”
The women did not obey him, reaching the church in short order and hastily scrambling up to the escape. When they set down on the other side of the barrier, they ran down a couple of alleyways, until they reached the more crowded streets of The Stores.

The pair went their separate ways, with Ina going to practice archery and Reina heading to the Bazaar, to see if there was any jewellery she could buy or lift. Dale spent the rest of his day searching unsuccessfully for work, while Lius managed to keep himself from getting distracted for once, and sorted the entire back room.
“Well this is certainly a turn for the better,” Viv observed when she came to check on him.
“I do try,” Lius insisted.
“Well,” Viv said with a smile. “At this rate, there won’t be anything for you to do.”
“I’ll have to work slower then,” Lius said wryly. “I need this job.”
Viv gave Lius a gold piece for the day’s work, and sent him on his way. Before he left, he let her know that he wouldn’t be in the following day, but would try to make it the day after that.
“Found some more gainful employment, I hope,” Viv said.
“Hopefully,” Lius replied. “It needs looking into.”
“Good,” Viv said. “It’s about time you lot got a proper job instead of badgering me all day.”

When everyone had returned to the apartment, Reina, Lius and Ina discussed how they could secure some funds, with Lius suggesting that they could rob a ship or airship. The group agreed that this was a good idea, and the next morning, Lius headed to Lyrandar Tower to see what he could find. As he wound his way up to the airship docks at the top of the tower, he was stopped by a worker. Lius flashed his identity papers, and with a humble apology, the worker left him to his business.
When Lius reached his destination, he saw that most of the docks were empty, as an enormous airship was taking up almost the entire dock. Lius recognised it as the Golden Dragon, a very famous and very luxurious cruise ship. Hoping to get closer, Lius picked up one of several crates that were waiting to be loaded onto the ship and walked over to where it was docked.
“Here!” one of the teamsters called. “I don’t know you.”
Lius froze, eyes wide, and murmured, “I… just thought I’d help.”
“You what?” the teamster asked. Several other dock workers had stopped what they were doing to stare at Lius. “Who are you again?”
“Well, my name is Lius,” the half-elf said, “and I just thought I’d give you a hand.”
“Yeah?” the teamster grunted. “You wanna be back through that way.”
“Why?” Lius countered.
“‘Cos we’re working here.”
“I’m just trying to give you a hand!”
“Look, passenger lounge is that way. We could get in some trouble if you get hurt.”
“I’m not a passenger.”
“Then you really shouldn’t be out here on the dock.”
“I’m a House member.”
The teamster faltered. “Oh. Well… why didn’t you say do? Don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it. We’ve got it. No need to bother yourself sir.”
One of the teamsters hurried over to Lius and practically snatched the crate from him, before charging up onto the ship.

Lius stayed where he was, observing the work for a while. He got so engrossed in watching that he didn’t notice the captain of the ship approaching until he spoke.
“Alistair d’Lyrandar,” said the tall, tanned half-elf, holding out a hand. “How can I help?”
“Lius,” said Lius, shaking Alistair’s hand. “I was just observing. It’s not very often we get your ship in.”
“Aye,” the captain said with a winning smile. “Another gawker, eh? She’s a fine vessel. Some say the finest.”
“It’s certainly the biggest I’ve ever seen,” Lius enthused.
Alistair nodded. “Well, you won’t see any bigger. Largest airship in all of Khorvaire. In fact, all of the world. Originally commissioned as a warship in the Last War, but the end came to that, and it was refitted as a pleasure vessel.”
“Do you have anyone famous aboard?” Lius asked, grinning excitedly.
“Ah,” Alistair returned, tipping Lius a wink. “That would be telling, wouldn’t it?”
“You can tell me!” Lius insisted. “I won’t tell anyone. I promise!”
Alistair smiled. “Well… no one famous. Just the usual array of diplomats, politicians and high class hoity-toity. No royals, nothing of that calibre.”
“Still. It’s a nice ship.”
“Aye. Well, we should be in port for another two days, resupplying. Then we’re setting off north around Aundair, Karrnath, down over the Talenta Plains and then back over Scions Sound.”
“Is it difficult to pilot? Are there two elementals? Are there two captains!?”
“No, no, there’s just me. There’s four elementals to give it the lift, and another to control the directions.”

The captain went on to describe the ship’s many facilities, Lius’ eyes growing wider and wider. He went on to talk about the crew, until finally, he slapped Lius on the back, and said, “Well, I’d better get back to it. If you ever want a tour, just let me know, and I’d be more than happy to show you around when I’m a bit less busy.”
“That wold be great,” Lius squeaked, beaming.
Alistair grinned. “Marvellous! Why don’t you come back tomorrow?”
Lius gladly accepted, and Alistair enthusiastically shook his hand, before marching back onto the airship. Lius walked away in something of a daze, continuing to wander through the docks until he found himself in the administration offices.
He approached the reception desk, and politely said, “Excuse me, my name is Lius d’Lyrandar. May I have a look at the imports coming in in the next couple of days.”
“Oh,” the young woman behind the desk said. “I’ll just have to call the tower master to make sure that’s alright.”
“Okay,” Lius said. Nodding, the half-elf woman stepped into the back room. Lius heard muffled conversation, and moments later, she walked out accompanied by a rotund, red-faced half-elf with impressive mutton chops.
“Yes?” the man asked in a booming voice. “How can I help you, m’boy?”
“I just wanted to look at the imports,” Lius replied. “See what’s coming in in the next couple of days.”
“Oh?” the man grunted. “Why would that be?”
Lius faltered for a moment, before weakly saying, “Out of interest.”
“Ah, that kind of reason, eh?” the half-elf boomed, raising an eyebrow. “No wonder. C’mon, m’boy. Let’s see if we can find you these manifests. I’m Augustus d’Lyrandar. But everyone calls me ‘Gusty.’”
He laughed boisterously, and Lius smiled. “Lius.”
Gusty vigorously shook Lius’ hand, and clapped a large hand on his back. “Come on, then, Lius, m’boy.”

The chunky half-elf led Lius through to the back office, and gestured to a large, leather-bound book on the desk.
“Here you go,” he boomed. “That’s what we’ve got coming in and going out in the next few days. What are you after?”
Lius glanced at the book, and pointed randomly to an airship called the Cloud Ant. “Ah, yes.”
“Ah, yes, the Cloud Ant!” Gusty said. “What in particular are you interested in about that ship… in particular?”
“It’s got a very interesting name,” Lius said. “Do you know anything about it?”
Gusty laughed. “Do I? Captained by my milksop of a son, Aerdane!”
“You don’t sound too impressed about that,” Lius observed. “What’s wrong with him?”
“Ah,” Gusty murmured. “He’s a pathetic weed of a lad. Was hoping he would take after his old man a bit more, you know?” He let out another roar of laughter.
“Oh. What’s he going to be bringing in?”
“Well, check the manifest. I think he’s coming back in on Sul.”
Lius checked the manifest, seeing that the Cloud Ant had done a round trip to Karrnath, taking out clothes, pots and metalwork, and bringing back some passengers, including an emissary. He looked down the manifest for a likely mark, but saw nothing of interest.
“I think that’s all I needed. Thank you.”
“Excellent. Well, do stop by if you need any more information.”

Lius next headed down to Ship’s Towers, where he was greeted by a host of burly sailors, who eyed him up but did not approach. He entered into the main Lyrandar office to find the front desk unattended. He glanced over the papers which were strewn across the desk, but before he could take anything, one of the sailors walked in, accompanied by a tall, severe-looking half-elf woman.
“Can I help you?” the woman asked curtly.
“Oh, I was just looking,” Lius replied. “Sorry, I think I’m in the wrong place.” The woman nodded, almost imperceptibly, and the sailor moved in front of the door, crossing his brawny arms. “Is there a problem?”
“Yes,” the woman said. “I should think so. Who are you, and why are you rifling through our documents?”
Lius took out his identity papers and said, “I was looking for the Cloud Ant’s manifest.”
“The Cloud Ant is an air ship,” the woman said, narrowing her eyes. “The clue’s in the name. Cloud.”
“I didn’t sleep very well last night,” Lius mumbled. “Sorry.”
“Well,” the woman said. “I expect you want to be on your way.”
“Yes,” Lius agreed hastily. “I think so.”
The sailor moved to one side, and Lius hurried out of the office. Once he was back out on the docks, he walked along the bustling waterfront, past sailors hauling cargo on and off ships, past piscine sahaguin who shouted their services as guides across the sea, keeping his eyes on the docked ships, looking for anything of interest.

He paid particular attention to one ship, a somewhat dilapidated, non-elemental vessel, which was being unloaded. Several men were hauling parts of a huge statue down to the docks. One scholarly-looking man on the deck of the ship was yelling for the men to be careful. Suddenly, the gang plank creaked, and a massive chunk of statue fell into the sea.
The man on the ship began to scream, “You idiot! Do you have any idea what we had to do to get that!? It was priceless!”
The workmen seemed to pay him little heed, continuing to haul the rest of the statue down off the ship. Lius watched the spectacle for a little longer, before heading back up to the middle wards.

Reina and Ina, meanwhile, visited the King of Fire. Ina was amazed by the burning furniture, while Reina simply got the drinks in. As they sat, they heard a couple of dwarves discussing the situation in Fallen. One of them mentioned that they heard that the zombies were cleared out and that everyone had moved back in, while his companion said that he had heard that the place was now overrun with hobgoblins.
“That’s ridiculous!” the first dwarf snorted.
“He’s right,” Reina murmured.
The dwarves turned to the women, and the second dwarf said, “Here, do you know about this?”
“Yeah,” Reina replied matter-of-factly.
“So, what’s going on then?” asked the dwarf.
“You’re right,” she repeated. “The hobgoblins have taken over.”
“I told you!” the dwarf gloated to his friend.
“Alright,” the first dwarf said. “So, what’s going on there? Why the sudden interest in Fallen from the hobgoblins?”
“Why the interest in Fallen?” Reina said, before mumbling, “Sorry, Ina.”

“Plague of zombies isn’t exactly an everyday occurrence,” the dwarf observed.
“No,” Reina agreed. “But that seems to be over now. Suddenly.”
“Now it’s replaced with a load of goblin?” the dwarf asked, still seeming somewhat incredulous.
“Yeah,” Reina said, shrugging. “It’s a bit weird. I didn’t like it when it was full of zombies. Probably a little better with hobgoblins.”
“Dunno,” Ina said. “Think I preferred the zombies.”
The first dwarf laughed uproariously. Reina looked over at him, and said, “You know, when we were in there and there were zombies around, it was pretty freaky.”
“Yeah, as if you were in there!” the second dwarf exclaimed. “The watch had it barricaded off! No one was in that district.”
“The watch is the watch,” Reina said.
“Oh, yeah?” the dwarf said. “And who are you supposed to be?”
Reina shrugged with a smirk. “Just an interested party.”

After their drinks, Reina and Ina wandered into the Bazaar. As they entered, they noticed the atmosphere was a little more subdued and uneasy than usual. A group of halflings were standing around, murmuring unsurely to one another.
Reina walked over, and asked, “What’s going on here, then?”
“None of ya business!” one of the halflings snapped.
“Fine,” Reina said, shrugging and walking away. The halflings glared at her as she went.
The pair headed onto Viv’s, where the gnome looked up from her book, and said, “Ah, Reina. To what do I owe this pleasure?”
“Just came to look at what you’ve got in,” Reina replied. “What’s going on out there?”
“I imagine it’s something to do with the lack of Boromar walking the streets,” Viv said. “Seeing as most of them are now dead. Then undead. Then re-dead.”
“Well, I did just run into some halflings,” Reina said. “So maybe they’re not all dead.”
“Oh, no,” Viv said. “I imagine if all of the Boromar in Sharn were dead, the rest of us would be as well.”
“I would have thought someone would have muscled in on the territory by now,” Reina suggested.
“Yes, well. The biggest rivals they have are the Daask, and they’re also dead. Seems to be somewhat of a power vacuum at the moment.”
“The hobgoblins have clearly got their priorities all skewed. They could be making a killing up here. Hopefully not literally.”
“No. We can only hope. Seems like whatever they are after is in Fallen. Whatever that might be.”
“Not my concern.”
“Anyway, if you’re looking to embark on a criminal venture, now would be the time.”
“Funny you should say that. Hopefully my tiny friend is looking into that as we speak.”
Viv laughed. “Thank goodness. I thought you were going to ask me for a job as well.”

Dale also found himself in the Bazaar, and he too noticed a gang of halflings who seemed to be watching him. Dale tipped them a nod, and after glancing around furtively, one of the halflings approached him.
“Here,” said the halfling. “Do you know what’s going on?”
“What do you mean?” Dale asked.
“What do you mean ‘what do you mean?’” the halfling snapped. “We heard anything from our guys in a few days.”
Dale leaned in conspiratorially. “Well, don’t tell anyone I told you this, but I’ve noticed that the boys and the Daask had a bit of a kick off.”
“We figured that,” the halfling said impatiently. “Then what?”
“As far as I know,” Dale continued, “all hell broke loose then, and the goblinoids got involved. They’ve taken over Fallen, and neither the Daask nor the Boromar down there have been heard from again.”
“We know that!” the halfling growled. “Tell us something we don’t know.”
Dale thought for a moment, then said, “The word is, now that the Daask has moved on, the goblinoids have moved on as well. The higher ups are looking down there to see if the goblinoids have left anything behind, and to check out the Daask, see how many of them are still about.”
“Of course,” the halfling said, nodding. “I knew they’d have a plan, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Dale agreed.
“Yeah. So we’ll… we’ll just carry on as we do.”
“Good. Keep a presence here, and remember. I didn’t tell you any of that.”

Ina, Reina and Lius reunited at the apartment, and upon learning that Lius hadn’t found anything useful, Reina elected to head down to the docks herself.
“Two coppers says you get nothing,” Lius said grumpily as she marched out of the door.
Reina passed through the red light district of Sharn’s Welcome, winking at a courtesan as she did so. When she reached Ship’s Towers, she spied a lone sailor and offered him a flirtatious look, which he completely ignored. Frowning, she undid the top string on her top and walked on. A couple of watchmen passed, and seemed to be eyeing her up. She glared back at them, and they walked over.
“Your district’s back that way,” one said, gesturing back towards Sharn’s Welcome. “Come on, move it along.”
Reina’s eyes widened, and tersely, she said, “I am not a whore.”
“Yeah?” the watchman said. “Then you should probably do that top lace back up, then.”
“Maybe it’s a bit tight,” Reina hissed.
“Come on,” the watchman sighed. “I saw the way you were trying to attract that guy. Come on. Move along.”
Scowling, Reina stalked away from the guards, and waited behind a stack of crates until they headed out of the district. She then headed back to the docks, approaching another sailor.

“Hey, sailor,” she purred.
The sailor looked over at her and grinned, revealing a slobbery mouth which contained only a few brown teeth. “Hey hey! I’ve heard of Sharn’s Welcome, but I didn’t expect it this soon!” He laughed loudly and began to approach her. Gritting her teeth, Reina took a step back, and the sailor laughed again. “Playing hard to get, are we?”
“Come on,” Reina said hesitantly. “It’s not that easy.”
“I’m sure it is,” the sailor said, jingling a coin purse. “I just got paid!”
Reina winced. “Oh yeah? What have you been bringing in that’s worth so much coin?”
“Maybe I can tell you all about it later,” the sailor grinned, taking another step forward.
Reina took another step back, and said, “Come on. Excite me.”
“Ah,” the sailor said. “Treasures from across the world!”
“I’m sure. So, which is your ship?”
The sailor turned and pointed to the grandest galley in port. “That’s the one.”
“Okay. ‘Bye.” Reina rolled her eyes and began to walk away.
“What do you mean ‘bye?’” The sailor pursued her. “Here, what’s all this about?”
“You’re clearly talking shit,” Reina snapped.
“Well, sorry!” the sailor spat. “I didn’t know I had to pass a test!”
“Well, you do,” Reina returned, “and you failed.”
“You little cocktease!” the sailor roared.
“Can’t tease what isn’t there,” Reina retorted, before charging off.

When Reina got back to the apartment, she tossed two copper coins at Lius and stormed into the bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
“Do you not want to hear about the other things?” Lius called through the door.
“No!” Reina shouted back.
“I guess I’ll just tell Ina, then,” Lius said, “about the Golden Dragon.”
When Reina didn’t reply, Lius did indeed tell Ina everything he knew about the airship, as loudly as he could. When he was done, and Reina still did not emerge, Lius took Ina down to the bath house and washed her, much to her chagrin.

Early the next morning, Lius sent Reina out to buy Ina a new outfit, before they went to the Lyrandar Tower. Lius suggested they pick up Dale along the way, and though Reina didn’t seem thrilled by the idea, they did so. When they reached the Golden Dragon, Reina’s jaw practically hit the floor.
“Now that’s a sight to see,” Dale admitted.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Lius whispered.
“Can we have it?” Reina squeaked.
“I knew you’d like it,” Lius said gleefully.
Reina ushered everyone eagerly towards the gang plank, where they were greeted by an open-faced half-orc. “You must be Lius.”
“He is!” Reina exclaimed.
“Yes,” Lius said, brushing Reina’s hands off him. “Hello.”
He extended a hand, which the half-orc shook. “I’m Velgram, the ship’s boson. I’m afraid the captain couldn’t be here today, but he asked me to show you around, if you turned up.”
“Oh, yes,” Lius said politely. “Thank you.”
“Thanks!” Reina parroted excitably.
“I thought it might be alright if I brought some other people to see,” Lius said, almost apologetically.
Velgram smiled. “Sure. You’re the one with the Dragonmark.”
“He is!” Reina exclaimed, pulling Lius’ tunic open. “Look!”
“Come on,” Velgram said, laughing. “I’ll give you the tour.”

The boson took them first to the main deck, and showed them the two elemental rings which kept the boat in the air. Next, they visited the rear observation deck, where he gestured to three ballistas that had not been used since the vessel was a warship. They went below deck after that, where Velgram showed them a typical room, which he said only cost 50 gold a day. He also mentioned that there was a luxury suite that was currently occupied.
Velgram led them through a grand hall to a large restaurant, then to the casino observatory and relaxation lounge, before they returned to the main deck.
“And there we are,” the half-orc said. “Hope you’ve enjoyed the tour.”
“Oh yes,” Lius said. “I think I have someone who is ambitious to join you one day.”
Velgram glanced at Reina, who nodded enthusiastically. “Yes, I’ve noticed.”

The group wandered back down the dock, and while Reina continued to admire the Golden Dragon, Lius noticed a smaller, segmented ship alongside it.
“Did everyone enjoy their tour?” Lius asked.
“It was amazing!” Reina screamed.
“We should probably head off,” Lius suggested, “and let them get on.”
Reina frowned, and kicked her feet, but eventually relented. As they left the docks, the talk turned to work, and Dale said, “I see I’m not the only one having trouble finding employment.”
Reina suddenly noticed a tall, grim looking figure walking out of a side room, flanked by two armoured skeletons.
“Shit!” Reina breathed.
“What?” Lius gasped. “What? What?”
“Skeletons,” Reina hissed. Lius followed her gaze, and surmised that the man was the Karrnathi emissary.
“I’m not exactly a… life-ist,” Dale said, “but I think there are far too many skeletons around these days.”

Lius suggested they go down to the dock and pick a boat at random to rob. Reina asked what happened with his scouting mission, and he reluctantly explained how the half-elf woman had turned him away. Upon hearing that the manifests were readily available, Reina suggested that they try again.
“What do I do?” Lius asked.
“I don’t know,” Reina grunted. “Go in and act like you’re supposed to be there.”
“We could break in at night and steal the manifests,” Lius insisted. “That would be a better idea.”
“That would also be better than picking a ship at random,” Reina said. “We could end up stealing… cats.”
“Then we sneak into the office at night,” Lius said firmly.
“If you think that’s the best idea,” Reina conceded
“_Or_ I could create some sort of distraction,” Dale interjected.
Lius shot him a look. “You could try.”

The docks were still fairly busy when they arrived. Lius directed the group to where the Lyrandar shipping office was, and waited for someone to do something.
After a long moment of silence, Reina said, “Go in there and say you want to look at the manifests.”
“For which ship?” Lius growled.
“All of them,” Reina shot back. “Throw your daddy’s name about if you need to.”
“No!” Lius snapped.
“It’s okay,” Dale said. “I’ll come in with you.
“No,” Lius repeated. “You should go in first. I can’t just throw around random names.”
“Trust me,” Dale said confidently. “If I go in there with you, you won’t need to.”

Lius reluctantly entered into the office, with Dale following close behind. There was only one man inside, a bulky sailor who may or may not have been the same man Lius saw the day before.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
“Yes,” Lius mumbled. “I’m just looking for the manifests for Fury’s Cutter, Silence and the Dawn Star.”
“I’ll have to ask harbour master Aelandra,” the sailor said. “You wait here.”
As soon as the sailor had stepped out, Lius stepped over to the desk and glanced at the papers, which looked more organised than they had been on the previous day. A couple of minutes later, the sailor returned with the same, stern-looking half-elf.
“You again?” Aelandra asked. “What do you want?”
“I need the manifests for Fury’s Cutter, Silence and the Dawn Star, please,” Lius said.
“On whose authority?” Aelandra asked right back.
Lius was silent for a long moment. Then, he reluctantly said, “Cirris d’Lyrandar.”
The half-elf woman narrowed her eyes. “What does he want them for?”
“Part of an ongoing investigation, madam,” Dale piped up when he saw that Lius was struggling.
“Really?” Aelandra said. “I wasn’t informed of any investigation.”
“No,” Dale said. “You wouldn’t be.”
“And who are you?” she inquired, glaring at Dale.
“I am someone who has come to assist Mr d’Lyrandar, here, with his investigation,” Dale said.
“I see,” Aelandra murmured. “And what exactly are you looking for?”
“We’re looking into the incident of the statue, particularly,” Lius replied. “But these other ships have items of interest as well.”
“We just want to make sure everything’s on the up and up,” Dale added.

Aelandra seemed to chew this over, then sighed, “Very well.” She turned to the desk and pulled out several sheets of paper. “These are the ships we’ve had in the past two days.”
Lius looked over the manifests. One ship had returned from Q’barra, bringing back various spices and fabrics. Another was bringing in a large amount of Eberron dragonshards from the Shadow Marches, some of which had been lost in transit.
“Do you know about this cargo going missing?” Lius asked, pointing.
Aelandra glanced down, and said, “From what we understand, raiders from Droaam managed to board the ship and make off with several crates worth of dragonshards. Is there anything else?”
“No, no,” Lius said. “It looks like I have everything I need. Sorry about last time.”
Aelandra frowned. “Yes. Last time.”
Lius smiled politely. “Thank you for your time.”

Lius and Dale reunited with Reina and Ina, where Lius, sweating and breathing heavily, said, “This is a terrible idea. We can’t do it!”
“Why not?” Reina asked, perplexed.
“We’ve come this far,” Dale said.
“I’m not doing anything more,” Lius insisted.
“Why?” Reina asked. “What?”
“I’m pretty sure she knows that something’s going on,” Dale said. “But I’m not entirely sure she knows what’s going on.”
“Who’s she?” Reina asked.
“The Lyrandar bitch in there,” Lius grumbled.
“What does she know?” Reina insisted. “What could she know? We haven’t even done anything yet.”
“Oh, I name dropped!” Lius exclaimed.
“So?” Reina asked.
“She also knows my name,” Lius said sullenly. “Stuff goes missing, it’s going to look like I did it.”
“Stuff goes missing from these docks all the time,” Reina pointed out. “We have to do something, or we’re going to be eating shoe leather for another month.”

Lius explained about the two ships he had examined, and Reina suggested robbing the ship from the Shadow Marches. When Lius said that the ship had already had cargo go missing, Reina pointed out that this made the ship an even better target.
“I’m not sure about this,” Lius sighed. “I’m not sure it would be good for the same ship to be robbed twice. Especially after I asked about it, and claimed that my dad wanted to know.”
“You asked about that one specifically?” Reina asked.
“Yes,” Lius mumbled. “It was good cover.”
“Well, that’s off the table then,” Reina groused. “Were there any that you didn’t mention that you, Lius d’Lyrandar, wanted to look at?”
“I tried, okay!?” Lius snapped.
“We don’t necessarily have to rob any of the ships that he mentioned,” Dale observed. “In fact, he doesn’t even have to be present.”
“So,” Reina sighed. “The best plan is we choose a ship at random, that’s not Lyrandar. Lius, you go have dinner with your family, then you’ve got a rock solid alibi. It can’t be traced back to you.”
“That sounds like the very worst option,” Lius complained.
“It backs up your story,” Reina said. “Plus, you haven’t seen your mum in a while. You know how she worries.”
“Yeah,” Lius sighed. “I do.”
“It’ll be just like old times,” Dale said, grinning.
“Yeah,” Reina sighed. “The last time went so well.”

Session Eight
The Risen

The group took off running, scrambling over the boxes Reina had tipped over to block off the alleyway. The zombie that was still lurking at the end of the passage took a lazy swipe at them, and began to shuffle after them.
Ina, who was at the head of the party, leaped up and grabbed onto the ledge of the church they would pass through to escape the district. Reina ran up behind her and helped haul her up onto the stone ledge. Lius, who was further behind, let out a sudden cry as a zombie lurched up and struck him. The half-elf spun away from the creature and ran towards the church at full pelt, leaping up and grabbing Ina’s lowered hands.
“Apologies for any indecency!” Dale yelled as he ran up, leaping onto Lius’ back and scrabbling up him onto the ledge. Once Dale was settled, Reina and Ina helped Lius up.

As the half-elf slumped on the ledge, a loud metallic roar emerged from the alley, and the enormous warforged burst out, sending sundered boxes in its wake. Its shoulder struck the corner of a building, demolishing it, and ploughed straight into the zombie which had almost reached Reina. The zombie was propelled, along with the warforged, into the pile of rubble by the church, and burst upon impact, sending thick blood and rubbery innards everywhere.
Reina doubled over, vomited, and then desperately leaped up onto the ridge as the warforged stood to its full height, dented front covered in effluence. The rest of the party charged through the church, and quickly descended to the street below.
“Are you okay?” Lius asked Reina, panting.
“No,” Reina whimpered. “Did you see that?”
“No,” Lius replied, wrapping his arms around Reina. “What happened?”
“Nothing,” Reina grunted.

The group returned to the barricade, where Reina volunteered to relay their findings to Captain Nate. Before she could reach his tent, however, she was stopped by a couple of guards.
“State your business,” one grunted.
“Need to see the captain,” Reina replied.
“Which captain?” the watchman asked.
“Empattin,” said Reina.
The watchman frowned. “I’ll see if he’s free.”
He walked over to the tent, and returned momentarily with Captain Empattin, who surveyed Reina wearily.
“What is it?” he sighed.
“Can I speak to you privately?” Reina asked.
“About what?” he asked. “This isn’t particularly a good time.”
“About this situation,” Reina said.
“Do you think it’s incredibly important and relevant?”
“Yes. Incredibly important.”
The captain shook his head. “Okay. Fine.”

Nate led Reina around the side of the tent, and when they were alone, asked, “So, what is it?”
“Okay,” Reina sighed. “I don’t know what you can do, but there’s a church full of people in there. They’re stuck. There must be at least a hundred people in there.”
The captain nodded, a thoughtful expression on his face. “And… how exactly do you know this?”
“I’ll let you use your imagination,” Reina said mildly.
“Fine,” the captain said, his look growing darker. “Get into that tent. Now.”
Reina trudged into the House Jorasco tent, with the rest of the party following with varying degrees of reluctance. Before she disappeared inside, she called behind her, “Blackstone Church!”
Nate nodded grimly, and stalked back towards his tent.

The group were greeted by a halfling, who listened to their story and then hastily ordered a physician to check them over. A middle-aged halfling in Jorasco colours jogged over to them and cast a spell, looking at each member of the party in turn. Finally, his gaze settled on Lius, and severely, he said, “You. This one’s infected.”
Lius let out an unintelligible shriek, and Reina cried out, “No!”
“Calm down,” the halfling spat. “There’s no need for hysterics.”
He took Lius by the arm and led him over to one of the unoccupied beds. He began to ask Lius a number of questions, which the half-elf eagerly answered. Another halfling quizzed the rest of the group.
Finally, the halfling interviewing Lius nodded, and said, “Don’t worry. If you do pass away, these warforged will make sure you don’t get up again.”
Lius started crying, and before Reina could interject, Ina and Dale led her out of the tent.
“You’ll be fine, kid,” she called back to Lius.
“See you later,” Lius returned weakly.

Dale returned to his hostel, while Reina sat down by the tent. A halfling rudely told her to go and sit with the rest of the refugees, and that is what she did, sitting by a wall and watching the entrance to the Jorasco tent attentively. Ina joined her, disappearing after a while to fetch food.
Lius was changed into an unfashionable medical gown, and his clothing was taken away in a sack. When he learned that they were to be burned, he shed more tears. Finally, he asked for a book, and was given a book of herbology, with the firm instruction “not to get anything on it.”

The next morning, a patrol of watchmen appeared. One, Reina took him as their commander, rushed into the command tent, but in her tired state, she deemed it unimportant. Sometime later, more warforged made their way into the district and began to pass through the barrier.
Reina stumbled over to them, and said, “Are you going to the church?”
“We’re heading into the district,” one of the warforged reported. “We’re going to clear out some zombies.”
“Blackstone Church,” Reina mumbled. “Lots of people need help.”
The warforged nodded, then turned to follow his comrades. Reina staggered back to the wall and slumped to the ground, burying her head in her hands.

Up in the Bazaar, Dale headed over to Viv’s shop. She greeted Dale, and asked why “that lazy, good-for-nothing Lius” hadn’t shown up for work.
“I happened to see him,” Dale explained. “He’s not feeling very well at the minute.”
“Not feeling well… how?” Viv asked inquisitively. “This wouldn’t be anything to do with the goings on in Fallen, would it?”
“Well, apparently, it’s not as secure down there as they once thought,” Dale said cautiously. “There’s concerns that he might have contracted whatever it is that’s down there. It seems to have got past the barricade, somehow.”
Viv’s face fell. “Are you sure?”
“It’s not entirely certain yet,” Dale said hastily. “It might just be some sort of bug. Somebody from House Jorasco is seeing to him. I will inform you if I hear any news.”
“I honestly thought these were just rumours,” Viv said quietly, seeming quite shaken, “but it seems like things are a lot worse than I thought. I don’t actually have any work for you, I’m going to get ready to leave the city if I have to, and I suggest you do the same.”
“I don’t think things are that bad just yet. Could be that he just had a bad night. I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first time.”
“House Jorasco don’t usually tend to people if they’ve had a bad night.”
“I’m sure he’ll be right as rain for tomorrow.”
Viv narrowed her eyes. “Tell me the truth, young man.”
“Well, you play a very hard ball. I guess he really did just have a bad night. I just didn’t want you to get rid of him or anything. He is a good kid, after all.”
Viv continued to glare at Dale, and after a moment, he shuffled uncomfortably out of the shop.

Dale returned to Fallen, where he spied Ina, curled up asleep, and Reina sitting there, her head lowered. He crept over to her, and playfully poked her in the shoulder.
“Not now,” she mumbled, not lifting her head.
“Has there been any word?” Dale asked energetically.
“No,” Reina grunted.
“Oh, well,” Dale said. He sat down, and they waited until around midday, when a few House Jorasco representatives walked around, checking people over, and another couple of people brought around big pots of steaming gruel. Ina stirred, seemingly awakened by the smell of food, and eagerly accepted a bowl. Reina did the same, while Dale elected to leave the district, searching for food of a more substantial nature. By the time he returned, Reina had slumped to the ground and fallen asleep.
A short time later, the sounds of struggle came from behind the barrier – the clang of steel on steel, yelling and rumbling. Ina slunk over to the barrier, which was surrounded by gawking watchmen. She heard someone mention a problem with the warforged, and then someone yelled, “Get back!”
Dale nudged Reina awake, and gestured to the commotion. A couple of watchmen ran through the crowd and set ladders against the wall. Seconds later, warforged began to climb over the barrier and shimmy hastily down the ladders.

Reina began to stumble towards the Jorasco tent, but was stopped by a guard. “You can’t come any further than this. Everyone needs to stay away from the barricade.”
“What’s going on?” Reina asked.
The guard glanced uneasily over his shoulder, then turned back to Reina. “You just need to stay away until we say it’s safe.”
“Please,” Reina murmured. “My friend is in there.”
“Look,” the watchman snapped. “Just get back.”
Reina tried to get past him nonetheless, only to be forcibly pushed over. Reina got up and moved to enter the tent again. The guard pulled out his baton, but before the situation could escalate further, Dale hurried over and took Reina by the arm.
“Come along, dear,” he said politely. “Let’s leave the nice guardsman to his duties.”

As Dale led Reina back to where Ina was sitting, several guards entered the tent and began to scan the occupants.
“What’s going on?” Lius asked warily. The guard ignored Lius, who could tell that he had been heard. “You don’t have to look at me. Just… please. What’s going on?”
The watchman continued to pretend that he hadn’t heard the half-elf, who said, louder, “Does anyone know what’s going on?”
“Don’t worry,” one of the nurses said. “Don’t worry. It’s nothing to worry about. How are you feeling today?”
“I’m… not sure how I’m feeling,” Lius said slowly.
The nurse nodded, and jotted something on the board at the foot of Lius’ bed. The half-elf frowned.

After around an hour, the warforged and most of the watchmen dispersed. Suspiciously, Reina approached one of the departing warforged and asked what was going on.
“It’s over,” the warforged said flatly.
“What do you mean, over?” Reina asked.
“District’s clear,” the warforged replied.
The warforged carried on marching, and a bewildered Reina watched him leave.

Inside the tent, Lius accosted one of the guards as he was leaving the tent, and asked, “What happened? Where are you going? Are we in danger?”
“Look, don’t worry,” the guard said dismissively. “Everything’s fine.”
“Thanks,” Lius said sarcastically as the guard stalked away.

As the day wore on, Reina drifted off to sleep once again. The former residents of Fallen began to grow restless, and started shouting questions at the watchmen who remained.
Lius was given another meal and a vial of foul-tasting medicine. A short time later, a doctor came around and asked him how he was feeling. Lius truthfully replied that he was feeling better, and smiling, the doctor said that they would have to keep him in overnight, and assess the situation in the morning.
A few hours later, a group of the dissident Fallen residents were ushered into the command tent. Though exhausted, Reina attempted to follow them, but was turned away by watchmen. Around twenty minutes later, the same people headed out of the tent. The guards opened up the barricade, and people began to file back into the district. Others headed away from the district.
As night fell, Reina and Ina bedded down again, while Dale headed off to his hostel for a proper night’s sleep.

The next morning, Lius awoke to another weak meal and more medicine. He noticed that several beds that had been occupied the night before were now empty. He enquired after this, only to be told that they hadn’t made it.
A short time later, a doctor stopped by, and asked, “How are you feeling? Any symptoms?”
“A bit better,” Lius said.
“Good,” the doctor replied. “We’ll get some papers and you should be alright to be discharged this morning. Seems you managed to fight off the infection. Unfortunately, not everyone in here managed.”
“Are there any clothes going?” Lius asked weakly. “I don’t want to go home in this.”
The doctor cocked an eyebrow. “I’m sure I’ll find you something.”
“Thank you,” Lius sighed, obviously relieved.

Outside, Ina and Reina woke up to find most of the refugees gone. Many of the watch had also moved on, with their command tent having been dismantled. Reina got stiffly to her feet, and headed out of the district to fetch food for her and Ina.
When she returned, Lius was walking out of the tent in plain grey clothes. Reina dropped the food, charged over to him and wrapped him in a fierce hug.
“Can’t keep me down,” the half-elf said cheerily.
Reina laughed emotionally, and looked Lius up and down. “Dude, what’s with the clothes?”
“They burned my pretty clothes!” Lius whined.
Reina laughed again, and gave her friend another hug.

The pair headed back to the apartment, along with Ina and Dale. On the way, Dale sheepishly explained his conversation with Viv, much to Lius’ chagrin.
The group detoured to Viv’s shop, while Dale wisely ducked out. Ina also elected to return to the apartment, while Reina and Lius went into the shop.
“Ah, Lius!” Viv exclaimed. “It’s excellent to see you. Come on in, and tell me everything.”
“I hear you were told I had a hangover,” Lius said.
“Yes,” Viv said, “by our mutual friend Mr Hornsbuckle.”
“It was not a hangover,” Lius insisted. “Otherwise I would have been here. You know I would.”
Viv nodded. “Yes, I did gather that, dear.”
“It seems like whatever happened in Fallen is contained,” Lius explained. “It was never gonna go any further. As if the watch were going to let it go beyond the lower wards.”
“I knew things were bad,” Viv admitted. “What did you see in the district?”
“Gnolls,” Lius said. “Two minotaurs.”
“And I saw a zombie get ripped open like a grape,” Reina interjected queasily.
“Ugh,” Lius grumbled. “Reina, I didn’t need a description.”
“I heard the Daask made a move,” Viv said, “and the Boromar responded in kind. I also heard it the other way round. Either way, both gangs tried to make a move into the district for some reason.”
“And now they’re all dead,” Reina said.
“I doubt it,” Lius added.
“There’s still plenty more where they came from, unfortunately,” Viv agreed. “But I’ve heard that it’s severely crippled their active members in the lower wards.”

“You don’t think the two things are related, do you?” asked Reina.
Viv shook her head. “I don’t think so. It seems far beyond anything either of them would be capable of. I think they just saw an opportunity and made a scramble for territory.”
“Why would they want territory infested with zombies?” Lius mused.
“Did you see any goblins or hobgoblins or bugbears at all?” Viv asked.
“No,” Reina said.
“That’s interesting,” Viv said. “From what I’m hearing, it was them that put an end to the zombie infestation.”
“How?” Lius murmured.
“Well, I’m not sure exactly how,” Viv replied, “but from what I heard, pretty much every goblinoid from Malleon’s Gate down to the Dagger River decided to up sticks and move into Fallen.”
“Something was kicking off last night,” Reina said. “All the warforged came out, and the watch basically said that the problem was over.”
“That sounds… interesting,” Viv said. “Either way, you’re all fools for going into the district, and you’re lucky to be alive. What could you possibly hope to gain by going in there?”
“We were helping,” Lius said quietly.
“Well, from the sound of it, you didn’t even help yourselves,” Viv scolded.
“We were trying,” Lius insisted. “It’s more than anyone else was doing. Either way, I’m not going back.”
Viv couldn’t help but smile. “Anyway, you’re in no fit state to work today. Go home and go to bed.”

When they reached the apartment, Reina and Lius immediately visited the bath house, where they washed each other, and the promptly collapsed into bed.
When Lius awoke, many hours later, he dressed in his second best outfit and headed out to work. Dale also headed to Viv’s shop, asking if she had any work. Smiling sweetly, she said that she did. “Take these and clean the windows.”
When Ina awoke, she headed down to Fallen for archery practice, only to find the barricade still up, now manned by hobgoblins and bugbears rather than the city watch. The various barriers were adorned with a strange symbol, the crude semblance of a sword set against three peaks.

Reina awoke sometime later, and decided to finally take the tube she had taken from Planar Marvels up to Findle Firefland. When she reached the upper wards, the guards scrutinised her closely, but let her pass.
Findle was talking quietly with a half-elf when Reina entered his shop, and he asked her to wait, the tension in his voice exposing his recognition of her. When the half-elf gentleman had made his purchase and left the shop, the gnome hissed, “Where have you been? I heard that my rival is now short of some crystallised darkness. Do you have it? Do you have it!?”
“I do,” Reina said carefully. “Do you have something for me?”
“Perhaps,” Findle said cagily. “I’ll have to verify that it’s all present and correct.”
“Okay,” Reina said, producing the container. “I also have some information about that… that thing you wanted to know about.”
Findle’s face lit up. “Aha! Excellent! What do you know? What is it? What’s he doing?”
“Why don’t you verify this first,” Reina said. “Then you can pay me. Then I’ll give you the information.”
“Yes,” Findle said, snatching the hexagonal container from her. “That seems like a fair trade.”

Findle hurried into the back room and slammed the door closed. A couple of minutes later, he stalked back out, his face pale and twisted with frustration. “It’s gone! You’ve ruined it! Your information better be more useful than this!”
“If you’re going to take that attitude,” Reina said coolly, “maybe I’ll just keep it to myself.”
She turned to leave, but Findle called out, “Wait, wait, wait. I suppose it’s not completely a bust, you know?”
“No,” Reina said, turning back towards him. “You do realise I got chased by a freakin’ metal dog to get you that?”
“Well, I’m sure that was entirely your fault!” Findle retorted. “I did warn you.”
Reina frowned. “I wasn’t going to bring you the entire contents of the shop. Anyway, regardless, the darkness was a bust, but I think you still owe me something for the trouble.”
Findle seemed to chew this over, then grunted, “Fine. I suppose at least Jorn doesn’t have his grubby hands on it.”
“That’s very true,” Reina said cheerfully.
Findle walked to the till and counted some coins into a bag. “Let’s see if your information is worth this, then. So what have you found out? What’s he making?”
“So, my friend snuck into his warehouse,” Reina said conspiratorially, creeping over to where Findle was standing. “Saw he was making some kind of magical device. With pearls.”

Reina suddenly snatched the purse out of Findle’s hand and bolted away from him at top speed. The gnome watched after her incredulously, shrieking, “You insolent wretch! Don’t you dare show your face around here again!”
Reina got a little way down the street, before she was stopped by two Deneith guards.
“Lads,” she said breezily.
“What was that all about?” one of the guards asked.
“Oh, well, the gentleman who runs the shop wanted some information,” she said. “I don’t think I gave him quite all he wanted.”
The guards nodded to one another, and one said, “We’ll just have a quick word with him. See what he thinks about this.”
“Perhaps you should,” Reina said. “Perhaps you should particularly ask him specifically what the information was. Perhaps about illegal activity.”
The guard raised an eyebrow. “The information you were delivering to him? About… illegal activity?”
“I think that’s why he’s not very happy with me,” Reina said. “I didn’t have the information he wanted.”
One of the guards clapped a hand on Reina’s shoulder. “If you would just stay here with me, ma’am.”
“Yes. If you would take your hand off me.”

After a long moment, the guard returned from the Miscellanea Magicka. “Terribly sorry, ma’am. I’m going to have to ask you to come with us to the edge of the district.”
“Would you mind if I just had a quick word with Mr Firefland?” Reina asked nervously.
“I’m afraid not,” the guard said firmly. “We’re going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Leave the district?” Reina asked.
“Yes,” the guard replied.
“Well,” Reina sighed. “If you insist.”
The guards flanked Reina and escorted hear to the nearest gate. As she headed back down to Broken Arch, she hungrily counted the gold she had swiped from Findle.

Both Dale and Lius worked through the day, though Lius again found himself distracted by books. When Viv gave him his silver piece at the end of the day, she said, “I understand you’ve been sick, but I’m sure you can try a bit harder.”
“I can,” Lius mumbled. “Sorry. Thank you.”
Dale, having been paid two silver pieces, went hunting for more affordable accommodation. The goblinoid tenements in Malleon’s Gate were a little too shabby for him, so he settled for a hostel in the middle wards. Once his accommodation was secure, he headed to the Wooden Pegasus, where Ned Rithkier, the proprietor, greeted him warmly.
“Dale,” he said. “Haven’t seen you around in a while.”
“No,” Dale said, spinning a tale about his exploits in Fallen.
“I’ve been hearing from most people that Fallen’s pretty much hobgoblin territory now,” Ned said when Dale was done.
“Yes,” Dale replied. “Interesting, that. I used to run with the goblins, but… untrustworthy buggers.”
“I think the best rumour I heard,” Ned said, “is that it was some kind of warforged plot to curry favour. Secretly infected everyone so they could go in and be immune and save the day. And other ridiculous things like it was some kind of House Cannith mind control experiment where they were putting drugs in the water and turning people into zombies. Or it was clearly the work of some demon cultists.”
Dale nodded, half amused and half intrigued. “There were a fair few warforged there.”

Ina and Lius returned to the apartment at similar times, to find Reina asleep on the sofa, an empty bottle of wine at her feet.
Ina told Lius about what she had seen down in Fallen, sketching out the sigil she had seen as best she could. Lius didn’t recognise the symbol, but it gave him an ill feeling nonetheless.

Session Seven
The Fallen

Nate left the group to think about their options, and after a long moment, Lius said, “Does anyone have a plan? Or an idea? Or something even approaching a plan?”
“No,” Dale admitted. “I’m pretty much following your lead. As far as I’m concerned, it’s nothing to do with us. The watch is dealing with it.”
“It is kind of outside our area of expertise,” Reina added quietly.
“Are you not even a little bit interested?” asked Lius.
“Look,” Reina said. “I want to help. But unless they want me to break into Fallen and steal the zombies, I’m pretty much out of ideas.”
“You could break into Fallen and find the source of the zombies,” Lius suggested.
“I don’t know,” Reina sighed. “This seems awful… dangerous and terrifying.”
“Well, if we were to get into Fallen,” said Lius, “we need to find somewhere where the watch aren’t manning the barricade. Ina, you must know some secret ways in or out.”
“Yeah,” Ina replied, “but we’ll need to climb up to it.”
“I can climb,” Lius said enthusiastically. “Sort of.”

The party elected to walk around the district and survey the state of the barricade. Ina spied a lot of Fallen residents camping outside the barrier, a number the group estimated to be around five hundred. Watch patrols were spaced along the barrier, leaving little room to sneak in.
Eventually, they returned to the central entrance to Fallen. Reina went back to the apartment to fetch food for the group, while Lius crept over to the House Jorasco tent to eavesdrop. Ina followed close behind, while Dale wandered off on his own.
As they approached the Jorasco tent, Ina noticed that the group of warforged who had been manning the wall had vanished. Lius positioned himself at the back of the pavilion, but heard only weak coughing coming from the other side of the canvas. Frowning, he made his way further around the tent, finding an opening. He tried to peer in, but another sheet of canvas further in blocked his view.

A decrepit half-orc that Ina recognised shuffled over to the shifter as she kept watch, and croaked, “I’ve seen you around before. In the district.”
“Used to live here,” Ina said.
“Yeah?” the half-orc grunted. “So did we all. You got out in time, then?”
“Just about,” Ina replied. “Yaself?”
“Yeah,” the half-orc said, “or else I wouldn’t be here.”
“Fair point,” Ina admitted.
The half-orc nodded at the House Jorasco tent. “You know anyone in there?”
“No,” Ina said. “Tryin’ to figure out what’s goin’ on.”
“What? Apart from the zombies, you mean?”
“Well… yeah. Tryin’ to figure out the why. Any idea?”
The half-orc shook his head. “No. People’ve been getting sick for a while. A few days. Then those who die from sickness’ve been getting back up again.”
“Yeah. We’ve seen a couple of them. Scary blighters.”
“You’re right. Soon as I saw the first one get up, I ran out the district.”
“Good idea.”
“Yeah. Most people weren’t so lucky. Wanted to hang on. Not much else place they could go.”
“What actually happened a couple of days ago? Anythin’ specific?”
“No. Well, you know. People’ve been coming down with this for a few days now. People got sick. Some of the old and people already ill, only took a couple of days and they were stone dead. Then they started getting up again. That’s all I know.”
“Don’t s’pose you’ve seen a little goblin with a fancy robe?”
The half-orc nodded. “Yeah. He’s the one who made me leave the district.”

Meanwhile, as he wandered the barricade, Dale felt someone tap him on the shoulder. He turned to see a rather startled looking halfling.
“Oh,” the halfling muttered. “I’m terribly sorry, I thought you were someone else. Excuse me.”
He turned to leave, but Dale quickly said, “No, no, no. I might be exactly who you’re looking for.”
The halfling looked Dale up and down dubiously. “You’re… you’ve been sent from the North Dura clinic?”
“Yes,” Dale replied. “Yes I have. I’ve come to assess the situation, then report back to the HQ.”
The halfling nodded. “Yes. Yes, okay. This way.”
The halfling led Dale into the tent that Lius was still lurking around, where he was greeted by an attractive young halfling lady.

“So,” Dale said. “What’s the situation here, then?”
“They haven’t filled you in on any of the details, then?” the halfling woman asked.
“No,” Dale replied. “No, unfortunately not. They more or less sent me straight here. I’ve only just come back into the city, you see.”
“That’s excellent,” the woman said. “We weren’t expecting you for another day. Well, these are the few people we’ve managed to round up that are definitely sick. We’ve got people out patrolling the camps to make sure no one else is showing any symptoms. People tend to get ill, and it looks like a normal fever, but after two or three days, they get worse until they die. If they die of the fever, they rise again as the undead.”
“How is it spread?” Dale asked. “Is it by touch? Is it in the air? Do we know?”
“We’re not sure. We’ve had lots of people reporting they were ill before the main outbreak, and we’ve had people reporting that they were absolutely fine until attacked by these undead. After that, they started to get sick. We’re not exactly sure what the contamination vector is, but we’re not ruling out any options at the moment. We suspect it’s either airborne or waterborne to start with. There’s also a possibility it’s being spread by the risen.”
“Hmmm. I see, I see.” He looked over at a couple of people, lying stricken in the clean white hospital beds. “What’s wrong with these?”
“Pretty much the same symptoms for everyone. They start off with a cough, feel light headed, they get a fever and then die.”
“Might I enquire as to what sort of methods you use to get these people back on their feet?”
“We’ve been experimenting with a few standard healing spells. Disease removal magics are working fine. The usual sorts of herbal methods help with the resistance. We’ve seen a 50% increase in recovery rate from these people, but it’s too soon to say whether it’s a full recovery or just a remission.”
“Right. Well, I think I’ve got all the information I need. I’ll head back to North Dura and let them know the situation, as it is. Out of interest, at what stage would I be able to ask you for a drink and a night out?”
The nurse looked taken aback. “It’s… not really very appropriate right now. I… I don’t know. Maybe… you should come back when people aren’t coming back as zombies?”
“Good idea. I might do that. Just keep me in mind.”
Dale went to leave, and the nurse cried out, “But wait. I didn’t get your name.”
Dale turned and tipped a bow. “Dale Hornsbuckle, the finest healer in all of Khorvaire!”

As Dale exited the tent, Lius ducked out of sight, and when he was gone, hurried away from the tent. He approached Ina, and whispered, “Is he gone?”
“Can’t hear ‘im,” Ina replied.
Before they could say more, Lius noticed Sergeant Portos marching towards him. He ducked behind Ina, hissing, “It’s that guy, Ina!”
“What you doing, still hanging ‘round here?” Daveth demanded.
“What you doin’ ‘ere?” Ina retorted.
“I work here,” Daveth snapped.
“Good for you, mate,” Ina sneered. “I live ‘ere.”
“Yeah?” Daveth snarled. “Not any more, you don’t.”
“We’re waiting for someone,” Lius said, timidly peering over Ina’s shoulder.
“Waiting for who?” Daveth demanded.
“Our friend,” Lius replied. “She’ll be back soon, and then we’ll go.”
“Why don’t you go to her?”
“She won’t know where we are if we all go in different directions.”
“I don’t care, do I? You don’t want to be hanging ‘round here. It’s not good for you, if you get my drift.”
“Ina,” Lius squeaked. “Let’s go.”

As they headed off, Daveth called after them. “Here, hold on a sec!”
Frightened, Lius turned back to him. “Yes?”
“Why are you hanging ‘round here?” he asked, marching over to them.
“We’re… we’re waiting for someone,” Lius reiterated.
“Why here?” Daveth demanded. “Why were you here in the first place? What you after?”
“We heard about the zombies,” Lius said.
“Yeah?” Daveth grunted. “I know. You had a meeting with the captain. But we ain’t gonna help out, apparently, so what are you gonna do about it?”
“Well… nothing,” Lius whimpered. Daveth offered him a condescending look. Lius shrugged, a weak smile on his face. “What can we do?”
“Probably more than we’re being allowed to do,” Daveth sighed, before turning to Ina. “What about you? That’s your home in there.”
“It was,” Ina clarified. “I ain’t happy.”
“Would you like us to do something about it?” Lius asked.
“I’d like someone to do something about it,” Daveth admitted. “But it’s not like you can make a difference. Unless you know something we don’t?”
“We told your captain everything we know,” Lius said, sounding a little bolder. “Apparently, nothing’s being done, but I suppose we could get in, as long as we were allowed out.”

“Say you do go into the district,” Daveth said. “What are you going to do in there?”
“Nor do we,” Ina confessed.
“Maybe if you do some good,” Daveth said, “I could let you out again. But, if you look sick at all, that’s it. You’re not getting out.”
“But there’s a Jorasco tent,” Lius said quickly. “We could go there.”
Daveth shook his head. “No. Orders is orders.”
Lius looked down dejectedly. “Okay. So where would be the best place to get into the district?”
“Well,” Daveth said, “we don’t technically have any orders about not letting anyone in. But once you’re in, you’re on your own.”
“It’s an awful lot of risk for us,” Lius mused.
Daveth shrugged. “Not my problem. But, you want in, I’ll let you in. Just don’t expect any help when you’re there.”

After Daveth left them, Ina muttered, “What a weird geezer.” They headed away from the barrier, where they were joined by Dale.
“It’s about time,” the halfling said. “Didn’t you see me leave?”
“No,” Lius lied.
“Well, I found out the information you wanted to know,” Dale reported.
“Oh?” Lius asked.
“It’s sort of a good news/bad news situation,” said Dale. “The bad news is it could be airborne, which means you’ll probably already have it. The good news is it could be waterborne, in which case, just don’t drink the water.”
“Just… don’t drink… water?” Lius muttered incredulously.
“_The_ water,” Dale specified.
“Oh, well,” Lius sighed. “What do we have to lose?”

Reina joined the group shortly thereafter, and they quickly ate the food she had brought while filling her in on what they had discovered, as well as Daveth’s offer.
“Why would he help us?” Reina asked.
“I don’t know,” Lius answered.
“Sounds like he wants us to go in so he can leave us in there,” Dale sniffed.
“I don’t know,” Lius said. “He was quite angry when he left the captain’s makeshift office.”
“He’s always angry,” Ina pointed out.
“Very true,” Lius agreed. “But especially angry.”
“Well, I don’t think it makes much of a difference at this point,” Reina said.
“Okay,” Lius said. “So we’re probably, definitely, 100% going in. Right?”
“Seems that way,” Reina said. “Unless anyone’s had a sudden change of heart?”
“Nope,” Dale said enthusiastically.
“We need to find out what’s going on,” Lius added.
“Excellent,” Reina said glumly. “Let’s head into the zombie pit.”

Before heading down into Fallen, Dale hurried up to North Dura, while the rest of the group visited the Bazaar purchased scarves to wear over their mouths and flasks in which to store clean water.
Dale reached the House Jorasco enclave in North Dura and strode in, handing a scrawled list of symptoms and solutions for the plague to the halfling behind the front desk.
“I’ve got information from the situation going on in Fallen,” he said.
“Oh,” the clerk said, looking a little surprised. “Thank you. Um… you are?”
“I am just a… concerned citizen,” Dale replied.
“Oh, well, thank you,” the clerk said. “I think I’ll give this to one of our specialists.”
Dale waited for a moment, then coughed unsubtly. Rolling their eyes, the clerk handed over some copper pieces, and smirking gleefully, Dale left.

The group reconvened outside of the crumbling church on the edge of Fallen. Reina climbed up first, then dropped her rope for the rest of the group to clamber up. Lius ascended the wall last, but as he climbed, he was startled by a rat in a hollow in the wall. He leaped back with a repulsed groan and fell to the ground, managing to roll to avoid breaking anything.
“What the hell, Lius!?” Reina shouted.
“There was a rat!” Lius shot back. “Shut up!”
He scurried up again, meeting the rest of the group in the roof of the church. One by one, they scurried across the rafters of the church. In the dimness of the street below, they could see a couple of shambling figures, and further along, a dull light. Reina crouched and loosed an arrow, which sunk into the neck of one of the figures. The figure lurched unsteadily to one side, then turned and staggered towards the church, making a low, raspy groan. The second figure seemed to notice this, and followed suit, shuffling towards the party.
Clenching her teeth, Reina notched and loosed another arrow. It hit home again, but did nothing to slow the advance of the creature. Ina sunk another arrow, but the zombies kept coming. Frowning, Reina leaped down from the beam, tumbling down a pile of rubble and then springing to her feet. Dale followed, and both darted around the slow-moving zombies and across the street.

Ina hopped nimbly down from the rafter and slid down the pile of rubble. Lius cast a spell which summoned dancing lights in an attempt to distract the approaching zombies, and then lowered himself down onto the rubble.
Reina peered into an alleyway, then made her way down. The rest of the party followed, and when they had passed, Reina shoved over a stack of boxes to block the way. At the end of the alleyway was an open plaza. Shambling down the middle of the square was a large, armoured figure, dragging a huge sword behind it. Dale darted quietly across the plaza, but as he turned to see if the others were following, his foot hit a stone which skittered across the thoroughfare and into the far wall. The figure dragging the sword turned, his neck at a disturbingly twisted angle, and started towards him.
The group hurried across the plaza, skirting round a group of dead bodies. They pressed against the wall of the building on the opposite side of the plaza and inched their way around.

Beyond the building, they began to smell burning, and the air grew smoky. Up ahead, almost lost in the gloom, was another prone corpse, and two small figures standing around it. Staying as quiet as possible, the group headed around a huge pile of rubble and crept past the figures, emerging onto another street. Immediately, the party spotted four bulky figures up ahead, which Lius identified as gnolls. These had the same lumbering gait of the other zombies they had encountered.
“We should go back,” Lius whispered fearfully.
The group stopped in their tracks and backed away, spying more small figures lying still on the ground. Seeing no other way to get through, Reina moved down the pathway and climbed up the side of one of the buildings. From her vantage point, she could see further, and spied another couple of figures moving in the gloom. Frowning, Reina crouched, nocked an arrow and fired into the ruined building behind the gnolls. One turned to investigate the noise, while another turned and shambled towards the building Reina had ascended.

Seeing their opportunity, Lius whispered to Ina, “After you.”
The shifter padded quietly forward, with Lius close behind and Dale bringing up the rear. They managed to skirt around the gnolls, seeing that the halflings lying on the floor had been hacked to pieces. Reina hopped down from the building and joined the group as they pressed on.
As they approached the dull orange glow, they saw that it was the embers of a dying fire. Lius cast detect magic, concentrating as they walked. Further on, as the way grew smokier and darker, they began to hear a heavy, rhythmic thudding. Reina glanced down an alleyway, and saw a hulking figure trudging down the alleyway, slow but more co-ordinated than the walking corpses they had encountered. It was dragging something on the ground behind it.
They reached the fire, which was clearly once a pile of corpses. Now, it was a grim mix of ash and burnt bones, with more intact bodies on the outside of the mound. They skirted around this, and shortly thereafter reached the shattered remains of the Edge of the Sky. After a brief discussion, they decided that the quickest and best course of action was to head straight over the wreckage.

Reina scurried up the ruins of the restaurant first, carefully but quickly making her way over the piles of broken stone and wood. The rest of the party followed, and they hurried on. The streets grew less smoky as they proceeded, and Ina heard muffled voices.
“Slow down,” she whispered.
“What’s up?” Reina asked quietly.
“Talkin’ ahead,” Ina reported.
“I’m already going quite slow,” Lius pointed out.
The group crept to the end of the street, and Reina glanced around the corner. Across the way was a ruined two-storey house. In one of the windows was the flickering orange glow of a fire, and silhouetted against it, a figure.
Reina quickly ducked back behind the wall. “There’s someone up there. I think they saw me.”
“Maybe it’s just somebody who survived this,” Dale suggested.
“Then they might have some information,” Reina replied.
“Let’s hope they don’t attack us,” Lius whimpered.

Reina stepped carefully away from the wall and moved quickly towards the doorway of the house. The doorway was cracked and hanging off its hinges, and within were several shambling shapes. Reina grimaced and backed away from the door.
“Hey!” a thick voice called from the window above. “You a survivor? Are you… Say something!”
“Yes!” Reina hissed. “Survivors.”
“Back away!” the voice instructed. “Stay away from the door! They followed us into the building.”
Reina looked up to see a large figure leaning out of the window. “There are some downstairs.”
“Yes, we know,” the figure replied. “They’ve been trying to get upstairs.”
“Can you get down while they’re inside?” Reina asked.
“Not right now,” the figure called down. “We’re just resting up here for a while. We’re going to make our move in a bit.”
“You gonna be okay in there? You’re gonna keep them out?”
“I should certainly hope so. Look, wither draw them away so we can get out of here or come on up. Just don’t hang around in the street.”
Reina jogged across to the far way and gestured for everyone to follow her. The group jogged over, and as they did, Lius noticed a figure lurch out of the house’s doorway. Reina picked up a piece of masonry and threw it over in the direction the group had come from. The zombie emerging from the house followed after the noise. Reina threw another rock, but this time, the creature turned to face her. Cursing, Reina turned and started away, with the rest of the group behind her. The zombie started after them, only for something to hit it in the back.
“Try and make your way to Blackstone Church!” the man in the house called after them. “I hear there’s more survivors there! May the Faith protect you!”

As the party made a beeline for Grant’s church, Lius detected a faint magical aura. He gestured for the party to halt, and attempted to determine the source and school of the magic. After a while, he identified the spell as some sort of conjuration, and heading in roughly the same direction that they were. He ushered the party to follow him, and followed the magic until it petered out.
As they headed under the archway where Lius had encountered the ranting derelict, Reina spied something big in the street. She ducked behind the archway and glanced back around, seeing that whatever it was was not moving. It looked almost like a cow, furry, horned and covered in blood. Reina headed cautiously along, giving the creature a wide berth. As she headed around, she saw that the horned head was attached to an armoured, humanoid body, and that lying next to it was a hefty battleaxe.
“A minotaur,” Lius gasped in wonderment.

As they neared Grant’s church, Reina heard voices up ahead, and proceeded cautiously, gesturing for the party to move as quietly as possible. As they approached, they heard at least three voices arguing how to proceed, when suddenly, they were cut short by someone hissing, “Shhh!”
Reina halted and waited, holding her breath. She heard approaching footsteps, and took a step back, holding her empty hands out, palms forward. Seconds later, an armoured figure rounded the corner, a sword in one hand and a shield in the other.
“We’ve got some live ones here,” he called behind him.
“Oooh, goodie!” someone behind the corner exclaimed.
“Is there any chance you can sheath that sword?” Reina asked.
“Not until we know your intentions,” the armoured man replied. Another figure, similarly clad, emerged from around the corner, followed by a halfling and a human.
“We’re trying to get to the bottom of what’s happening here,” Reina said. “We just want to help.”
The halfling pushed his way to the fore, and said, “Help? Help? Any of you infected? Have you come into contact with the risen dead? Have you eaten or drank anything recently?”
“No,” Reina replied. “We’ve taken every precaution.”
“I see,” the halfling said. “I see.”

The halfling moved his hands and began casting a spell. Reina quickly drew her daggers, and the two armoured figures stepped forward, protecting their comrade.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” said the first.
“What’s he doing?” Reina demanded?
The halflinh lowered his hands, and Lius, who recognised the spell as detect disease, said, “Please tell us it’s good news.”
The halfling scrutinised the party, then said, “They’re all clean. No trace of disease. Have you seen any more living people in this district? Perhaps some with diseases?”
“We heard some,” Reina said, sheathing her daggers, “in a building up that way.”
“Yes?” the little man said enthusiastically. “Back that way?”
“Yes,” Reina replied.
“Excellent!” he cried, elbowing one of the armoured men. “Let’s go, let’s go! This way!”
The men hurried past, with the halfling admonishing one of his colleagues, “You should have known this! This is your job!”
“I’ve never been here before,” the unarmoured man, who was dressed in the garb of House Orien, muttered. “I get you in and I get you out. That’s what I do.”
“Come on, then,” one of the armoured men said. “If it’s this way, it’s this way.”
“Best of luck,” Reina muttered.

Finally, the group reached Grant’s church. The door was slightly ajar, but they decided to head around the side and enter through the collapsed wall. Reina took Lius’ lantern and lit it. Shining it around, she was perturbed to see the two skeletons lying on the floor in bits.
“Grant?” Reina called out quietly. There was no response, so she began to pad down the stairs. The lantern illuminated the refuse-strewn corridor, and she edged her way down to Grant’s abode, followed by the group. She stepped into the room and looked around, but there was no sign of Grant.
“Maybe he moved on after you found him,” Dale suggested from behind her.
“Looks like it,” Reina said.

The party headed back out of the church, and Ina led them as quick as she could to the centre of the district, where the Blackstone Church was located. As they grew closer, the shifter detected a strange, rumbling noise, but could not identify what it was.
They emerged from a narrow alleyway into a large plaza, around which a sort of shanty town had been erected. In the centre of the stalls and tents was an ornate, obsidian church, well illuminated from within. Surrounding the entryway was a throng of zombies, shuffling and hammering on the enormous wooden doors.
The party surveyed this terrible scene for a long, silent moment, before Lius squeaked, “Are we going to try and help?”
“Honestly, I want to,” Reina said, her voice dry and weak, “but what are we going to do?”
“Aside from climbing up there and being in the same predicament they’re in?” Dale asked.
“There’s too many of them for us to distract,” Lius whispered.
“Once those people get out, what are they going to do?” Reina said. “At least at the minute…”
“They’re safe to starve to death?” Lius asked pointedly.
“Let’s just think for a minute,” Reina hissed.
“What about?” Lius asked.
“If there’s anything we can do,” Reina replied.
“We can alert the proper authorities,” Dale suggested.
“The proper authorities don’t give a shit,” Reina snapped.
“Only the proper authorities have the manpower to deal with this,” Dale said.

Reina found a broken wall and climbed up it, hopping onto the roof of one of the shacks. From her vantage point, she saw hundreds of zombies swarming around the church, the largest accumulation of which was at the doors. She also saw a banner hanging between two upper floor windows, the word “HELP” scrawled on it.
Stricken, she headed back down to the group. “I don’t think there’s anything we can do. The best thing we can do is get out and inform others.”
“If there’s a rescue party going in,” Lius said comfortingly, “_at all_, then at least we know where they should go.”
The group started back towards the edge of the district, the air growing smokier and darker as they proceeded. After a long trudge in silence, Ina called a halt, and alerted the group to something big moving up ahead. A hulking figure moved in the darkness, an enormous shadow, black against black.
The group diverted and one by one, climbed up a squat building. They scurried across the roof and over to the next building, skirting around the figure. As it came into view, they saw that it was a minotaur, one arm hanging limply from its body, a huge axe in the other hand. Reina spied other figures, too, gnolls and other shambling creatures.

The party continued moving across rooftops, hopping over the tight alleyways of Fallen as they headed for the way out. The streets were littered with corpses, mostly halflings and gnolls. Dale mused that this might be evidence of a gang war between the halfling Boromar clan and the monstrous humanoid gang, the Daask.
Suddenly, there was a flash of light and a thundering rumble. The group reached the edge of the building they were on and descended to street level, a loud, horrible grinding sound growing closer until there was a crash, and the building they had just hopped off shook, masonry dust spilling from it.
The group set off quickly towards the building they could exit from. There were more sounds, thudding and the sound of breaking stonework. Dale turned and saw a building with a huge hole in it. Dust spilled from the opening, and a shadowy figure moved, something standing upright until its head almost reached the roof of the building. The halfling turned and ran even faster as a monstrous warforged emerged from the ruined building, fixed its burning red eyes on the group and began to charge towards them.

Session Six
Honest work

“I have some work for us,” Lius declared, once the quartet had assembled at the apartment, “from our old friend Findle.”
“Friend?” Reina said sardonically.
“I wouldn’t exactly call him a friend,” Dale agreed.
“Hey,” Lius protested. “You’re not wearing a rope necklace right now. I’d say he counts as a friend.”
“But when you consider that he was the man who made the bomb that caused the incident in the first place…” Dale countered.
“He took a job,” Lius replied. “Same as us. There are two, so I reckon we could split up and do this as pairs.”
“What are the jobs?” Reina questioned.
“We need to steal some crystallised darkness from a shop,” Lius said.
“That sounds… dangerous,” Reina said.
“It’ll be in a sealed container,” Lius promised. “So, it shouldn’t be too difficult.”
“What’s crystallised darkness?” Reina demanded. “I don’t like the sound of that.”
“Some kind of arcane component. It’s just a shop.”
“Do you know why he wants it?”
“No. But I’m guessing, considering the guy made a magical bomb, it’s probably not for good things.”

“The other job sounds more Dale’s thing,” the half-elf continued. “There’s a workshop in Twelve Pillars where a guy has been working on something, and Findle wants to know what it is. I reckon you could probably talk to him about it.”
“I could try,” Dale admitted.
“I think you’ll stand a better chance than the rest of us,” said Lius.
“But I’m great with people,” Reina insisted.
“You’re a better thief,” Lius said diplomatically. “A very good thief. So, I thought Reina and I could steal the darkness, and you guys could go and see the guy in Twelve Pillars?”
“Did he say what’s in this for us?” Reina asked.
Lius hesitated, then slowly said, “No.”
“Does seem like a lot of work for good will,” Dale complained.
“I don’t do jobs for no pay,” Reina said bluntly.
“I didn’t say we’re doing it for no pay,” Lius insisted.
“What are we doing it for, then?” Reina demanded.
“He’ll… give us a reward afterwards,” Lius said carefully. “I’m sure. I’m sure it’ll be fine. We may have to deal with a small homunculus…”
“What’s a homunculus?” Dale asked.
“A small construct,” Lius explained. “Like a dog.”
“Don’t like dogs,” Ina interjected.
“More of a cat person?” Reina asked with a smirk.
“I’d say she’s more of a bat person,” Lius said proudly.
“So,” Reina said slowly, “not only am I stealing something for free, I’ve got to deal with a homunculus as well?”
“No, no,” Lius replied. “I thought, if we went in during the day, I can distract him and you can sneak ‘round back, find the darkness. Bang. Done.”
“Hope we’re getting paid for this,” Reina said cynically.
“Yeah,” Lius said breezily. “It’ll be fine.”

The group headed up to Upper Tavick’s Landing together, then split up to enter through two separate gates.
“Tell me,” Dale said as he and Ina walked through the streets. “Now that you’re living the high life, have you considered having a wash?”
Ina glared at Dale without speaking for a long moment, then turned and walked away. Dale watched her go, then carried on his way.
Ina soon found Reina and Lius, who looked confused. “Aren’t you going with Dale?”
“No,” Ina replied sharply.
“Why not?” Lius asked.
“You’ve met ‘im, right?” Ina asked.
“Okay,” Lius replied. “Fair enough.”

When they reached the gate, Lius and Reina managed to get through, but Ina was stopped by the Deneith guards.
“Where do you think you’re going?” asked one of the men.
“With those two,” Ina said, gesturing at her companions.
“I don’t think so,” the guard grunted. “Not like that, you ain’t.”
“I’m sorry,” Lius said, walking over to the guards. “Is there a problem?”
“I’m afraid there is,” the other guard said to Lius. “We’re here to make sure everyone in Upper Tavick’s Landing is appropriately dressed to maintain the dignity of the ward. It’s what we’re paid for, it’s what we do. I’m afraid until your friend smartens up a little, she isn’t allowed in.”
Lius walked over to Ina and handed her the key to the apartment, offering her a quiet apology. Once she had left, the first guard nodded to Lius. “Very good. Carry on, sir.”

Planar Marvels was a larger shop than Miscellanea Magicka, and more lavishly decorated. Lius entered through the front door, while Reina crept down the alleyway at the side of the shop.
As soon as Lius walked in, he noticed the homunculus – a spiky, metal dog curled up by the counter. A door behind the counter opened, and an elderly man with a thick white beard stepped out.
“Welcome, today, to Planar Marvels,” he said with a hospitable smile. “May I help you, young sir?”
Lius started to ask about several items, engaging the shop’s owner, Jorn Talath, in a spirited conversation.
After a glance around, Reina set about picking the lock to the side door. After a few moments, she heard a yell from the end of the alley; “Hey! Hey, what do you think you’re doing down there!?”
Reina quickly stepped away from the door, surreptitiously palming the picks she had been using, and looked down the passageway to see a House Deneith guard glaring at her.
“Just… having an… adjust,” Reina called out to him.
“Alright,” the guard shot back. “Be on your way, then.”
“I need a little privacy,” Reina hissed. “That’s why I came down here.”
“Well,” the guard said, “it’s not exactly private, this alley. I’m sure there’s better places for you to… do that.”
“I’m sure there are,” Reina sighed, trudging out of the alley.

Reina waited a few minutes, then slipped back down the alleyway, moving a crate to obscure her from view before going at the lock again. When she heard it click open, she had a quick search for alarms and traps, and finding nothing, opened the door.
The store room within was very dark. Somewhere nearby, Reina could hear Lius chattering excitedly. She had a search around, but soon realised that there were too many unmarked containers for her to identify the crystallised darkness without starting to open some. She uncorked a couple of vials and peeked inside, but found nothing that could be what she was looking for. Finally, she opened a hexagonal-shaped container, and heard a crack from within.
Abruptly, the deafening sound of a huge bell began to ring throughout the shop. Lius’ eyes widened, and Jorn looked around quickly.
“Excuse me,” he gasped, hurrying into the back room.
Reina rushed towards the side door, reaching it just as the door into the shop opened, and light flooded into the room. Reina pulled up her hood and darted out of the shop.
Jorn turned back to Lius, and snapped, “What are you doing? Call the watch!”

Once outside, Reina bolted up the alley, with the iron hound bursting out of the shop and racing after her. Knowing that she had no hope of outrunning the homunculus, Reina turned and leaped, grabbing onto the sill at the top of a nearby doorway. She shimmied up onto it, then clambered up onto the roof of the building. The homunculus skidded to a halt and sprang up, snapping its metal jaws.
Crouching, Reina ran across the roof and jumped across to the next building along. She bolted across this building, too, then dropped down into the alleyway alongside it.
Lius, meanwhile, was able to alert a House Deneith patrol, and pointed them in the wrong direction. Two guards headed off, while another two went into the shop. Lius followed them, where they began questioning the proprietor.
“Well, I was just talking to this fine young gentleman here,” Jorn explained, sounding flustered, “and all of a sudden someone set off the alarm in the back room. It might take me a while to figure out what they’ve taken. It’s quite surprise, you don’t expect this kind of thing in the middle of the day. I’ll be reporting this to my local councillor. What do we pay you people for?”

In a different part of the district, Dale located Simon Nassus’ workshop, and after a brief search, found a small alley at the back of the building. Ignoring the workers who toiled at various points down the passage, Dale secreted himself at the back of the workshop and began to rummage through the bins there.
Finding nothing of interest, Dale walked back around the building and headed inside, feigning confusion. He found himself in a small front room. There was a desk, but no one was behind it. Dale ducked behind the counter and opened the door, which led into a large workshop. A ways into the room, he could see someone hunched over a workbench, and hear the sounds of labour.
Dale attempted to disable the bell, but only succeeded in ringing it. Wincing, he tried again, finally managing to remove the hammer.
The halfling crept into the workshop and shuffled across the floor. He still couldn’t see what the man, presumably Simon Nassus, was working on, so he set about clambering up a tall shelf. As he moved up, however, his foot struck something, and it went clattering to the floor.
The skinny man at the workbench turned around, and shouted, with some alarm, “Hello? Someone there?”

Mouth tightly closed, Dale heaved himself onto the top of the shelf and lay flat. He heard the door into the shop open, and Simon call out, “Hello? Is… is anyone there?”
Dale crawled over to the far side of the shelf and peered down at the now empty workbench. He could see a length of crystalline cable, a couple of spools differently coloured wire, a pile of powder, several pearls, and numerous other varied and unusual items.
After a few seconds, Simon returned to the bench, and Dale scurried backwards. He hid for a moment until the sounds of labour resumed, and then peeked over the edge of the shelf. Simon was scrutinising a pearl through several magnifying lenses. Frowning, Dale shuffled back to the far side of the shelf and nimbly hopped back down to the floor.

Dale dodged back into the front room and mimed hitting the bell, before shouting, “Hello?”
“Just a minute!” Simon called from the workshop. The halfling waited for a moment, before the man emerged, tall and scrawny with a head of thinning black hair. “Uh… yes? Can I help you?”
“I’m sorry,” Dale said. “I know this isn’t exactly the kind of establishment I should really go to, but I thought perhaps one of the more low key workshops might be better for what I was interested in. I have a quick query. A few concerns about somebody.”
“Well… yes, if you make it quick,” Simon muttered.
“Myself and my wife have moved to this city recently,” Dale lied, “and have started setting up a workshop on the other side of the district. I’m not very technologically savvy, though. It’s my wife that’s all about the amazing contraptions and what have you. Anyway, I’m getting a bit nervous. She’s building something, and she won’t tell me what it is. It involves pearls, wire. Silver shavings. Some kind of crystals. I don’t suppose you’d know what that might be?”
“I’m sorry, I have no idea,” Simon mumbled, looking uncomfortable. “Good day.”
He turned and hurried into the workshop. Dale set off in pursuit, yelling, “House Cannith! Don’t move!”
He dove over and skirted around the stacks of crates in the warehouse as Simon charged through the room. The skinny man pulled something out of his satchel and threw it to the ground. Smoke suddenly filled the room, and Dale heard the slam of a door.

“Stop that man!” Dale bellowed as he crashed into the street. “He’s wanted by the watch!”
Simon paid him no heed, continuing his flight, and no one else seemed to either. Frowning, Dale changed tack. “Stop! You’re wanted by House Medani!”
Simon continued to weave his way through the crowd, and Dale pelted after him, slipping between people and ducking through legs as they passed. Suddenly, Simon ducked into an alleyway, and Dale followed.
“You’re wanted by the Trust!” he yelled. “Stop!”
“This is my research!” Simon shouted back at him. “You’re not going to take it from me!”
“Would you mind telling me what your research is, sir!?” Dale called. Simon didn’t respond, turning a corner and stopping at a door. He attempted to open it, only to find it locked. Dale tackled him, but Simon didn’t go down, struggling against the halfling.
“Who do you work for?” Simon growled. “You’re not taking this from me!”
“My employer’s greatly interested in your business acquisitions, sir,” Dale replied.
“I don’t care who they are,” Simon snapped. “It’s mine! Get off!”
“I’ll leave you be if you tell me what the hell it is!” Dale insisted.
“No!” Simon hissed. “It’s mine!”

He managed to writhe out of Dale’s grasp and ran before the halfling could grab at him again. Dale sighed and took off after him once again, trying to grab Simon’s bag.
“Guards, guards!” Dale yelled. “Arrest that man!”
“_Leave me alone_!” Simon wailed.
The pair burst back into the street, once again pushing through the throng of people. Dale swung a clumsy punch at Simon’s legs, but missed by a wide margin. The black-haired man ducked back into his warehouse and slammed the door close. Dale continued on at full pelt, and once he reached the gate out of the district, slowed to a casual stroll.

Lius casually browsed a few shops before leaving the district. As he headed away from Silvergate, something poked into his back, and someone growled, “Gimme all your money!”
“I don’t have any money on me!” Lius squealed, throwing his hands into the air. “Please leave me alone!”
“It’s okay!” the voice said, softening. “It’s me, dude.”
Lius turned to see Reina, wearing a goofy grin. Lius slapped her softly. “Mean! You know I’ve been mugged before.”
“I’m not sure I got it,” Reina confessed.
“What did you get?” Lius asked.
Reina opened her bag and showed Lius the case she had taken from Planar Marvels. “Something went ‘poof.’”
“You opened it!?” Lius gasped.
“Well… yeah!” Reina replied defensively. “What was I supposed to do, take every box? There were quite a few back there.”
“I’m sure he would have labelled it,” Lius sighed. “You don’t want to go around opening boxes of crystallised darkness and making them go ‘poof!’”
“There’s no label,” Reina insisted. “I looked.”
“Maybe we ought to take this straight to Findle.”
“Maybe we should wait. Because, you know, the alarm went off and there was that dog thing. And the watch, and everything. So maybe we should leave it a little bit before we go back.”
“Yeah, but if it’s in our hands, it’s hot, isn’t it? If we give it back to him, it’s his problem.”
“If you want to go back, that’s fine. I’m not going to.”
“Because I don’t want to get arrested again already!”
Lius paused at this. “Okay. We’ll hide it in the apartment.”

They reached the apartment at more or less the same time as Dale.
“So?” Reina asked him as they entered the apartment.
“I… believe I got a good description of what he was building,” Dale reported. “I couldn’t tell you what it was, though.”
“Tell me everything,” Lius demanded.
Dale did his best to describe what he had seen, and Lius furiously scribbled the ingredients into an empty book. Reina suggested that Lius take the book and the container to Findle immediately, and the half-elf sheepishly said that he would do it in the morning.

Ina, meanwhile, headed down to Fallen for archery practice. As she approached the district, however, she noted with some irritation that there were many more people wandering around than usual. She recognised a couple of the district’s residents, and also saw people in watch uniforms. As she pressed on, she found a crude but sizeable barricade constructed of carts, crates and various other bits of detritus.
“Here,” Ina said to a couple she knew owned a run-down inn in Fallen. “What’s goin’ on?”
“It’s ‘orrible,” the landlord wheezed. “It’s… there’s sickness, and people started dying. An’ then they started walking again! Whole district’s overrun!”
“How’d it start?” Ina asked.
“Dunno,” the innkeep replied. “Nobody knows. By the time we knew what was ‘appenin’, we just got out of there. Now they’ve closed the whole district off.”
“Right,” Ina muttered, nodding to the dishevelled couple before walking away.

Ina returned to the apartment, finding the main room empty. Suspiciously, she crept through the apartment, readying her bow. When she opened the door to Reina’s room, the redhead was sitting on her bed.
“Hi,” Reina said, looking up.
“Oh, it’s only you,” Ina breathed, lowering her bow. “That’s alright.”
“Who were you expecting?” Reina asked.
“Zombies,” Ina replied bluntly.
“Uh… nope,” Reina replied. “Don’t think there’s any of them here.”
“That’s good,” Ina said. “Fallen’s full of ‘em.”
“What?” Reina asked incredulously.
“Fallen,” Ina repeated. “Full of ‘em.”
“Since when? I know it’s bad down there, but…”
“It’s just got worse.”
“When you say full…”
“Well, I couldn’t really see in, but whole place is barricaded off.”
“Oh.” Reina frowned. “This isn’t that guy, is it?”
Reina got to her feet. “This is not my fault. I locked him in, and I told the watch. What more could I do?”
“Well. We got trouble, anyway.”
“You don’t trust our noble city watch to take care of it?”
“Funnily enough, no. Where’s everyone else, anyway?”
“Oh, Lius went for a walk.”

Lius returned shortly thereafter, and Ina quickly explained the situation.
“Maybe we should help,” Reina muttered.
“How?” Lius asked.
“I don’t know,” Reina admitted. “But I can’t help but feel a little responsible.”
“Why?” Lius said. “What have you done?”
“That guy,” Reina replied. “Do you remember?”
“But you didn’t do anything,” Lius insisted.
“Well, I was the last one there, that we know of,” Reina sighed.
“What happened?” Lius asked of Ina. “Did anyone tell you anything?”
“No,” Ina replied. “Not really. Bit of a plague, apparently.”
“Okay,” Lius said slowly. “But didn’t that woman say that her uncle was sick before? If it’s a sickness, one man would never have made a difference. It’s probably…” He trailed off, looking horrified.
“Grant?” Reina suggested.
“Why would Grant have anything to do with it?” Lius asked weakly.
“Well, that is kind of his thing,” Reina said.
“He doesn’t make people sick,” Lius insisted.
“Raising bodies, though,” Reina replied. “What if it is just a sickness, and them coming back is something to do with him? The two aren’t necessarily related.”

Ina volunteered to go and scout out Fallen, and the rest of the group agreed, saying that if she wasn’t back in three hours, they would go after her. The shifter made her way down to the lower wards, finding the district still blocked off. Torches lit the barricade, and watchmen swarmed about the place. Several of the residents of the district had bedded down around the barrier.
Ina skirted around the barricade until she found a quieter area. She began to scrabble up the wall of detritus, but something came loose and she fell, hitting the ground hard. Scowling, she got to her feet, brushed herself off and tried again, this time managing to successfully scale the barrier. She found herself in an abandoned church, and scurried along the rafters. The district beyond was dark, and seemed deserted. As her eyes adjusted, she thought she detected movement in the gloom below, but couldn’t be sure.
Concentrating, Ina felt her body change, and deftly leaped down from the beam. Her wings spread and she glided over to a building across the street. As she soared, a figure in the street reached out a grasping hand, but did not manage to come close to the shifter. She surveyed the streets, but saw little of interest. Knowing that her time was limited, she took of back for the church.

When Ina returned to the apartment, Lius wrapped her in a tight hug.
“What did you see?” Reina asked.
“Zombies,” Ina replied. “Couple of ‘em, at least.”
“Any watchmen?” Reina inquired.
“No,” Ina sighed. “Not really.”
“Of course.”
“They might just be letting it run its course,” Lius suggested.
“Or they’re just gonna make sure that it doesn’t get up to where the tax payers are,” Reina added cynically.

The next morning, Reina reluctantly visited the Daggerwatch garrison. She was stopped at the desk by a man who haughtily asked if he could help.
“I don’t know,” Reina grunted. “Is Captain Empattin available?”
“No,” the person behind the desk said hastily. “He’s not, I’m afraid.”
“Okay,” Reina sighed. “What about Sergeant Portos?”
“I think he’s indisposed at the moment, as well,” the man said. “What’s this about?”
“I’m sure you’re aware of the situation down in Fallen,” Reina said.
“Yes. Isn’t everyone?”
“I had a hand in apprehending Shade, the fixer. Is he still in residence here?”
The man shook his head. “No, no. He was transferred up to the Citadel a while ago.”
“Do you know if he’s still alive?”
“I assume so. He’s not a zombie, if that’s what you mean.”
“Well, yes. When we picked him up, he did seem quite ill, and as he’s been involved in this sort of thing before, I thought-”
“Yes,” the man interrupted. “I’m sure people are asking him the relevant questions right now. Do you have anything else?”
Reina frowned. “Not for now. I just hope you’re doing everything you can to keep everyone down there safe.”
“We’re doing what we can.”

Ina, meanwhile, went up to the Necropolis, hoping to find Gaia Sotharr. She was not in the temple, however, and when Ina asked a woman who was praying if she had seen her, she was told that she hadn’t been in residence in the temple for the past couple of days.
“Do you know what’s goin’ on in Fallen?” Ina asked.
“No,” the woman replied. “I’ve heard rumours that the dead are stalking the streets. Do you think Gaia has something to do with this?”
“Nah,” Ina replied. “Doubt she’s involved.”
“I know she’s a great champion of justice against the undead,” the woman continued. “I’m sure if anyone is down there helping the people, it would be her.”
“Maybe,” Ina said. “Oh well. Ta.”
“The Flame guide you,” the woman said.
“Same to you,” Ina said, shrugging noncommittally.

The shifter travelled down to Fallen, where even more guards had appeared. Several large tents were set up, adorned with various sigils. A group of warforged were standing by the wall.
Ina looked for a tent bearing the sign of the Silver Flame, but could not find the sigil. As sneakily as she could, she made her way around to where the church was, and tried climbed up to it. Twice, however, she fell, and scowling, decided to give up on the endeavour, returning to the apartment.

When she arrived, Dale was at the apartment, a drink in his hand. Reina, too, was holding a glass of wine, and when the door opened, she stood up and asked, “How did it go? Did you see her?”
“Couldn’t find her,” Ina replied.
“I went to the garrison,” Reina reported. “None of the people we knew were there. They said that Shade’s still alive, being questioned at the Citadel.”
Dale pulled a note from his pocket, and read aloud, “‘Dale. Zombies in Fallen. Bad. Apartment now.’ I don’t entirely see why this has anything to do with me.”
“Thought you might be interested,” Lius said, a little irritated. “You’ve been here the whole time. I won’t bother next time. Really and truly, it doesn’t have anything to do with any of us, but… it’s interesting, don’t you think?”
“It’s my old home,” Ina said. “It interests me.”
“Well,” Dale said, “it doesn’t interest me unless the watch is offering a bounty for information on what’s going on.”
“Worked out well enough for us last time,” Lius said. “Plus, if it spreads up here, it’ll be your problem too.”
“Not really,” Dale said nonchalantly. “I’ll just move cities again.”
“We’ll miss you,” Reina said flatly, before turning to Lius. “Maybe we should head down there. See what’s going on.”
“I can’t see any other course of action,” Lius agreed.
“Well,” Dale said. “As I don’t seem to be getting any work or anything, I suppose I could always tag along as well.”
“Don’t feel obligated,” Reina sighed.
“No, no,” Dale said. “I insist.”

The quartet headed down to Fallen, reaching the main camp at the barricade by midday. They set about investigating, but less than five minutes after they arrived, a voice cried out, “Those four! Someone apprehend them! Stop them! We need to speak to them!”
The group were ushered over to Captain Empattin. Lius looked down with a put-out frown, and murmured, “You don’t need to apprehend us. You could just speak to us.”
“You’re all involved in this,” the captain snarled, jabbing an accusatory finger. “You need to spill everything you know, right now.”
“Okay,” Reina said. “Well, we found a lady. She said her uncle had died and come back to life. We came and told you guys, and then we heard that there were zombies in Fallen. That is literally the extent of our involvement.”
“Before that,” Captain Empattin demanded. “The business with Shade. Everything.”
“We’ve told you everything we know,” Reina insisted.
“When we helped you,” Lius said, “he was ill. It seemed weird, but people get ill.”
“We did say it seemed suspicious at the time,” Reina pointed out. “Why would you think we’re involved?”
“Well,” the captain said, “for one thing, you happened to apprehend the person who was sick with the very disease that is causing the dead to rise. You happened to come to us, reporting one of these risen dead. You’re involved with the whole affair with Shade. So, to me, that sounds very suspicious.”
“And at every turn, we’ve come to you,” Reina said pointedly. “I mean, if we really were guilty, don’t you think we’d want to keep our distance?”
“Maybe so,” the captain admitted. “But if there’s anything at all that you’re not telling us, we need to know.”

Reina and Lius proceeded to tell Captain Empattin everything they could, about their research, Gaia and the lich, House Tarkanen, but omitted anything about Grant.
“Fine,” Captain Empattin said when they were done. “If you don’t have any idea where these walking dead are coming from, I suppose we’ll just have to do what we can.”
“I… might have an idea,” Lius said meekly.
“Please, do tell me,” the captain said. “There are lives at stake.”
“Okay,” Lius sighed. “With House Tarkanen, there was one… He kept his distance from them. He lived in a church. Only, the last time I went to see him, he wasn’t there.”
“You think he’s involved in this?” the captain asked.
“He can raise bodies.”
Captain Empattin threw his hands up in exasperation. “Oh, Host! Why couldn’t you have come to us with this sooner!?”
“Well-” Lius began.
“I don’t want to know!” the captain snapped. “We just need to find him. See what he can do about this mess, if it is him. May go some way towards stopping this going any further. You four. Come with me. We need to find where this church is immediately.”

The captain led them into a large tent, where a well-built woman in a city watch uniform was arguing with a similarly-dressed halfling, who stood on a chair.
“You better do your job,” the woman hissed, “or it will be my problem. I really, really don’t want to have to deal with you again you insolent little prick.”
She stormed out, Captain Nate giving her a wide berth and a quick salute. When she was gone, he turned to the halfling, and said, “Allow me to introduce my superior. This is Commander Lian of the Daggerwatch city garrison and commander of the Dura city watch.”
“Yes,” the halfling said, climbing down from the chair. “Have you got more information for me, captain?”
“Yes,” Captain Empattin said. “These four people have a possible lead on the cause of the outbreak.”
Commander Lian regarded the group suspiciously. “Well? Out with it.” Lius explained quickly about the aberrant marked gentleman. “Fine, fine. If you want to follow this up, captain, I’ll leave it in your hands. Excuse me, I have more pressing matters to deal with.”

The captain snapped a smart salute as the halfling stormed out, then led the four over to a large, aged-looking map.
“Fallen isn’t exactly the most traversed district,” he explained. “What we’ve got to work with is close to a century old, which is making finding the various ins and outs to the district virtually impossible for us.”
“We’ve got someone who knows there way around,” Reina said, tipping a nod towards Ina.
“We’ve had a few advisors, as you can probably see,” Captain Empattin replied, gesturing to the map, which had been scrawled over in several hands.
“We could probably just lead you there,” Lius said.
“Yes,” the captain said. “Fine. I would like to know the general layout of the area, in case we need to make a swift exit, or if marauding bands of the undead happen to get in our way. An alternative form of egress would be preferable.”
Ina looked down at the map blankly, and Reina quickly said, “I think Ina works better at street level.”
Captain Empattin frowned, and pointed out several areas on the map, reporting what the watch knew. Reina pointed out where she thought the church might be.
“That’s a start,” Captain Empattin said. “It looks like that was the main temple district, so it’s not exactly narrowing things down when we get there. Anyone?”
“I think it’s gonna be best if we just go in,” Reina said. “Ina knows her way around, but she’s not very good with maps.”

The captain scratched his head. “I’ll see what kind of a guard I can muster up, but I’m pretty sure most of the rank and file aren’t going to be too keen on venturing into the district.” He sighed. “House Deneith are a no-go unless the city decides to release any funds to them, which I’m sure they won’t. Apart from that, we’re fairly thin on the ground. How do you think this will help, if we get to this Grant? Will he be able to help at all?”
“It’s the only lead we have at the minute,” Reina said. “He at least knows about raising the dead, so he’s going to have more information than we do.”
“And he never wanted to hurt anyone,” Lius added, “so he’ll want to help, if he can.”
“Well, it might be something,” Captain Empattin said. “It’s just incredibly high risk for one man. We don’t even know if he can help.”
“You’re the captain,” Reina said.
“Yes,” Nate sighed. “I am the captain. Could you give me a moment? I need to mull this over.”
“Of course,” Lius said.

The party filed out of the tent as Captain Empattin shouted, “Oi! Daveth! Get over here!”
“Oh, fuck right off!” Sergeant Portos growled, shooting the party a look before heading into the tent.
“Maybe we should do what the sergeant says,” Reina suggested. The party remained by the barricade, however, and after a while, Sergeant Portos stormed out. Captain Empattin followed, shaking his head and frowning.
“I’m sorry,” he said, as he walked over to the group. “I’ve weighed it up. The risk’s too much for what might be a lead. I can’t risk my men like that, I’m sorry. If you want to go into the district, I can’t stop you. Just be aware, we’re not going to be allowed to let you back out again.”

Session Five
Odd Jobs

After their ordeal, the party decided to part ways. Reina headed to a House Jorasco enclave for some much needed healing, while Dale ventured out to find a place to stay, soon finding a not-too-fancy boarding house in the Tumbledown district. Once he was settled, he too visited a House Jorasco enclave, this one in Clifftop Ina spent a few hours practicing archery before returning to the apartment in Broken Arch, while Lius travelled to the Precarious district.
He asked around for Korrak, eventually being directed to a group of Kenku, who were just as standoffish as before.
“What do you want?” one of them snapped. “Why do you want him?”
“Oh, he wants to see me,” Lius assured them. “I owe him some money.”

The Kenku seemed happy with this, and went to fetch another bird man, whom Lius was fairly sure was Korrak.
“Yeah?” Korrak buzzed impatiently.
“You remember me?” Lius asked.
“Yeah,” Korrak repeated. “Yeah. Got money?”
“Yes,” Lius replied. “A silver for each life you managed to save.”
Lius held out four silver pieces, which Korrak hastily grabbed. “Thanks. This’ll do for favour.”
“Yes,” Lius agreed. “No need to take it any further.”
“Fine,” Korrak said, nodding compulsively. “Fine. We’re done.”
“Okay,” Lius said cheerfully. “Have a good day.”

The half-elf next headed up to the Bazaar, where he bought a bag of potatoes and two loaves of bread. He took the food down to Fallen, and started towards Grant’s church. As he walked the dimly lit and mostly deserted streets, he began to get a horrible feeling of being watched. He clutched his bag of food tighter, dropped one hand to the hilt of his rapier, and picked up his pace.
Nearing the archway outside the church, Lius began to hear a strange mumbling. He slowed his pace and listened, but could not make out what was being said. Frowning, Lius continued, and as he moved under the arch, he saw a figure squatting on a pile of rubble, rocking back and forth and muttering to itself, something about falling.
Perturbed, Lius pressed on, entering the church and trying sneaking past the skeletons. One turned its head creakily towards him, and Lius bolted back to the pile of rubble which led up to the hole in the roof, leaving the bag of food at the bottom of the heap. As he left, he called out to Grant, but got no response.

As Lius passed the archway, he saw the same individual, still muttering and still rocking back and forth. As he walked by, the figure lurched to their feet, revealing a sunken face that was covered in scratches, and horrible, bloodshot eyes.
“Falling!” he growled through a mouth almost entirely devoid of teeth. “The sky is falling! All the buildings are falling! The sun in the sky, and the sun is falling! Everything’s falling!”
He limped towards Lius, but the half-elf easily outran him, and by the time he reached the more populace areas of the district, the strange figure had given up his pursuit.
As he headed back up to the apartment, Lius stopped by Viv’s shop, asking if there was any work for him.
“Well,” Viv said, “the work we did start this morning, but you’re free to pop in and do some actual grifting anytime.”
“Good,” Lius said. “I’ll do that, then.”
“So, I’ll see you tomorrow, I assume?” Viv asked.
“Bright and early,” Lius replied enthusiastically.
“Try not to get in trouble with the watch before then,” Viv said with a sly smile.

When Lius got back to the apartment, Ina was curled up outside the door, asleep. Lius gently woke her up, and asked, “Did Reina not give you her key?”
“No,” Ina said tiredly.
Lius rolled his eyes and unlocked the apartment door. “We’ll get you a key cut at some point.”
The pair entered the apartment, and Lius anxiously looked around outside for a moment before locking the door.
“You alright?” Ina asked.
“Um… no,” Lius replied.
“What’s up?” enquired the shifter.
“I got chased by a really scary guy in Fallen!” Lius wailed. “It was horrible!”
“Day in the life down there, love,” Ina said indifferently.
“It was horrible, Ina,” Lius repeated tearfully.
“He meant no harm,” Ina said.
“No, he meant a lot of harm!” Lius insisted. “I saw it in his eyes! Please don’t leave me on my own.”

The next morning, Lius headed out and bought food for the week, returning it to the apartment and eating a quick breakfast before walking over to Viv’s shop. He spent a short time behind the counter, but when his daydreaming caused a customer to walk out without buying anything, Viv irritably sent him to sort out the back room.
Reina and Dale were checked over before being released from their respective Jorasco enclaves at around midday. Reina headed almost immediately to the Bazaar, where she bought food for the week. She returned to the apartment and saw the food that Lius had already purchased, and with a little smile, added her food to the stash. Ina roused herself shortly thereafter, and headed down to Fallen for more archery practice.

Dale, meanwhile, headed over to Viv’s shop. Viv, who had taken up Lius’ place behind the counter, regarded the halfling with a smile. “Ah, Mr Hornsbuckle. Nice to see you again.”
“And to see you, good woman,” Dale returned heartily.
“Your friend Lius is in the back room,” Viv said, “if you’re here for him.”
“No, not today, I’m afraid,” Dale replied. “I’m here to see you, and offer my services.”
Viv smiled. “Well, I’m afraid I already have an assistant.”
“Ah, yes,” Dale said with a matching grin. “But not for that sort of work.”
“No?” Viv said innocuously. “What other sort of work might I have on offer, do you think?”
“Well, given the people that you seem to keep company with, I understand that we may work in the same sort of business.”
“The… used book business?”
Dale grinned. “Yes, indeed. The used book business.”
“Hmmm, possibly if you call by tomorrow morning, I might have some small errands for you to run.”
“Very well. Small errands it is. I will come by in the morning, good lady.”

Reina visited the bath house and washed herself, and then headed to the Bazaar to check out the new edition of the Sharn Inquisitive. The Edge of the Sky was prominently featured, but the details were sparse. A statement from the city said that the incident was not being viewed as a hostile action, but rather as an unfortunate accident. There was also a sketch of the man in the safe, who was identified as the night watchman of the restaurant. It stated that his current whereabouts were unknown.
After leaving Viv’s shop, Dale went to The Wooden Pegasus, where he ordered a bowl of stew and an ale. He whiled away the afternoon, until people started filtering in around sixth bell, when he started socialising in earnest.
At around the same time, Viv paid Lius four silver, and said, “I trust you’ll be a bit more attentive tomorrow?”
“Yes,” Lius said sheepishly. “I’m sorry.”

Finding the company in the Wooden Pegasus uninspiring, Dale moved onto a sporting tavern called The Rider’s Perch. Dale listened to the talk about a recent Pegasus race for a while, then joined in, using what jargon he had managed to pick up.
Back at the apartment, Lius and Reina decided to get to know Ina a bit better, talking long into the night and draining more than one bottle of wine.

The next morning, both Lius and Reina went to Viv’s shop. On the way, Lius weakly told Reina about the man who had accosted him in Fallen.
“What did you go down there on your own for?” Reina asked.
“I was going to see Grant,” Lius babbled, “and I was taking him some food! I was only trying to be nice, and then everyone was attacking me!”
“That’s what you get for going down there alone,” Reina said, not unkindly. “Don’t do it again.”

When they reached Viv’s shop, she sent Lius to the back room again, and he scurried away sheepishly.
“Nice of you to escort him down, Reina,” Viv said when he had gone, “or do you have some other business?”
“Well, you know what he’s like,” Reina replied with a smirk. “But, no, I just wondered if you had word of anything coming up, because I’m kind of short on coin after that last debacle.”
“Ah, yes,” Viv said, smiling knowingly. “I might have something, possibly. If you hold on, someone else has been enquiring after work.”
“Really?” Reina asked, surprised. “Are we branching out?”
“No, not exactly,” Viv said. “But… I think you may know him.”
As if on cue, the bell above the door tinkled, and Dale walked into the shop.

“Hello!” he exclaimed. “Good morning, good woman!”
“Good morning, Mr Hornsbuckle,” Viv said pleasantly.
“Ah,” Reina said, sounding much less enthusiastic. “It’s you. Again.”
“Ah, it’s you again!” Dale returned jovially. “Hello!”
Reina shot Viv a look, and the gnome smiled back at Reina, the picture of elderly innocence. “If you’re both up to some work, I’ve got a couple of small errands that need running. I need someone to head up to the Korranberg Chronicle offices and renew my subscription. If you two think you can handle it?”
“Yeah, that doesn’t sound too difficult,” Reina said slyly.
“Also,” Viv continued, “I’ve got a… friend named Lillian, who lives in Overlook. Her husband’s been stepping out with another woman, and I was hoping you could teach him a bit of a lesson.”
“Madam,” Dale said, “teaching husbands about their wives is what I do best.”
“You can take Lius along if you really want to,” Viv added. “He’s probably about halfway through that book already.”
“Are you sure you can go without his assistance?” Reina asked. “I know he’s invaluable to you.”
“I heard that!” Lius called from the back room, slamming around busily before hurrying out into the main shop.

After Viv relayed the addressed, the trio headed up to the Den’iyas district, where the Korranberg Chronicle offices were located. As they entered, a woman was jabbering agitatedly at the gnome behind the counter, who desperately tried to explain that this was not where the newspaper was printed, only where it was sold.
Another gnome came out of a back room, and politely asked, “Can I help you at all?”
“Yes,” Reina said, crouching down to the gnome’s height and whispering conspiratorially, “I’m here to renew Vivien Varadar’s subscription.”
“Okay,” the gnome said unsurely. “That’s good. Let me just get our records and I’ll have a look.”
He slipped behind the counter and flicked through a book, and upon finding Viv’s name, asked for the five gold annual fee, which Viv had thankfully provided. The gnome counted out the coins, and then made out a receipt. Reina eagerly snatched it, studied it closely for a moment, then looked at the clerk, perplexed.
“Are you sure there was nothing else?” Reina asked.
“No, that was it,” the gnome said cordially. “Unless you had any other business here today. A subscription, for yourself, perhaps?”
Reina was silent for a long moment, then warily said, “No. That’s okay.”

“You do realise that was an entirely legitimate operation, don’t you?” Dale asked as the three exited the small office.
“So you say,” Reina mumbled.
“Are we done?” Lius asked cheerfully.
“Yes,” Reina replied. “Well, apart from the adultery.”
“Indeed!” Dale exclaimed. “Let’s get to that!”
The woman who had been ranting in the office stormed out behind them, yelling about how her uncle had come back from the dead and tried to eat her.
“Do either of you have a notebook?” Dale asked hastily. Lius handed the halfling a sheath of papers, and Dale said, “Just play along.”

Dale ran up to the woman, and called, “Excuse me, madam. I am Davlannan Trickfoot with the Sharn Inquisitive. I’m quite interested in your story, and I’d like to take some details, if that would be alright?”
“Oh,” the woman said indignantly. “So now you’re interested?”
“Yes,” Dale said. “I am an actual reporter, unlike my friends who only deal in selling.”
“‘Ere, it’s a bad business ‘cause I was goin’ to the Korranberg Chronicle instead of the Inquisitive, isn’t it?” the woman snapped.
“Yes,” Dale replied. “We do like to be the first ones with the story.”
“Yeah?” the woman asked. “‘Ow much is it worth?”
“How about a silver piece?” Dale offered. “How will that do?”
“Yeah, alright. Well, there I was, I was mindin’ me own business, I was goin’ to visit me dear old uncle Danny. ‘E lives over in Foundation district, you see? ‘E ain’t been very well past couple of days.”
“I’m terribly sorry for your loss, by the way.”
“Yeah.” The woman did not look particularly amenable to Dale’s heartfelt condolences. “So, I brought ‘im some food, sat with ‘im for a bit, an’ bless ‘im, dear old man, ‘e passed away while I was there. It was ‘orrible, it was. But then, I thought he was gettin’ better!” She started to sob. “‘E got back up! Then ‘e lunged at me!”
“Oh, that’s terrible. Absolutely terrible. Do go on.”

“I tell you,” the woman sniffed, “it was me uncle that died, but I dunno what it was that attacked me. As though a monster’d come upon ‘im.”
“Out of interest,” Dale asked, “did he have any strange markings on him? Any mysterious incantations appear?”
“I don’t know anythin’ about nothin’ magical,” the woman said.
“Anything obvious?” Dale continued. “Glowing eyes, otherworldly voices, anything like that?”
“It looked like ‘im,” the woman reiterated. “But it weren’t.”
“And there was no one else there?” Reina interjected.
“No,” the woman said. “Like I say, ‘e was a poor old man, livin’ on ‘is own. Fallen upon some ‘ard times.”
“When did this incident occur?” asked Dale.
“Just this mornin’,” replied the woman.
“Where is he now?” Lius asked forcefully.
“I dunno,” the woman said. “I just shut the door on ‘im an’ ran. Watch didn’t believe me. Went to the Inquisitive, they didn’t believe me.”
“We believe you,” Reina said solemnly.
“Oh, you do now!” the woman hissed. “When I gone to sell it to the Korranberg bloody Chronicle.”
“Well, we don’t work for the newspaper,” Reina said.
“‘Ere, I thought your friend said ‘e did!” the woman shouted.
“I do!” Dale said, glaring at Reina. “These are my freelance accomplices.”

When they left the woman with a silver piece, Reina was eager to investigate. Dale was less sure, and so the party decided to split up, sending Dale to Overlook while Reina and Lius headed over to Broken Arch to fetch Ina, before going down to the Foundation district.
Dale found the modest townhouse which Viv had said belonged to Lillian Hollysharp and knocked on the door. As he waited for it to be answered, he quickly took out his mirror and ran his hand through his hair, ensuring that he looked his best.
After a moment, an aging but still handsome gnome lady answered the door, and politely asked, “Can I help you?”
“Madam,” Dale announced, “I have been sent by Vivien Varadar.”
“Oh, that interfering old shrew,” Lillian sighed, rolling her eyes. “I knew I shouldn’t have told her about my husband. What’s she asked you to do?”
“See if I could do anything to help at all,” Dale answered.
“No, it’s fine,” Lillian said shortly. “I’m dealing with it, thank you very much.”
“Are you sure?” Dale asked.
“Yes,” Lillian shot back impatiently. “Absolutely.”
“Madam, I would not like to upset you further by discussing this out in public. Perhaps we could go inside and chat over some tal?”
Lillian sighed. “Fine. I suppose I didn’t have any better plans for today. Who are you? How do you know Viv, exactly?”
“I’m Dale Hornsbuckle, madam, probably one of the finest swordsmen in all of Khorvaire, but for you, today, I am simply an ear who is more than happy to listen.”
“Fine, but you may regret offering that.”

Ina, Lius and Reina arrived in Foundation to find a district of houses and flats which was only slightly cleaner and more intact than Fallen. The house was fairly easy to find, and Reina listened at the closed door, but heard nothing.
The door was unlocked, so she opened it a crack, while Ina readied her bow behind Reina. The interior was dark and dingy, yet Reina saw a shadowy figure standing perfectly still inside.
“Danny?” Reina asked nervously.
Danny turned to the doorway, and the light caught his face. Danny was most definitely dead. The pale figure started towards Reina, and she slammed the door closed. Seconds later, something thumped loudly on the other side.
“He’s in there,” Reina affirmed.
“Yeah, I gathered,” Lius exclaimed.
“He’s dead,” Reina continued.
“Yeah?” Lius said. “I sort of noticed.”
“Looks like he wants out,” Ina observed.
“It does, doesn’t it?” Reina agreed. As if to confirm this, there were more heavy banging sounds from within.
“Right, ladies of stating the obvious,” Lius wheezed. “What do we do?”
“Take ‘im down,” Ina said.
“It’s gonna be easier to look him over if he’s not trying to kill us,” Reina suggested.
“He’s already dead,” Ina insisted. “Let’s face it.”
“What are we going to do?” Lius repeated. “This guy’s noisy.”

Keeping one hand on the door, Reina took out her roll of thieves’ tools and locked the door.
“We should go to the watch,” Lius suggested. “They know about this. One of us should stay, though.”
“I’ll stay,” Ina volunteered.
“Oh, thank you!” Lius breathed.
The half-elf and Reina caught a skycab up to the Daggerwatch district. As they approached the garrison, two guards walked over, and asked their business.
“I have some information that might be useful to Captain Empattin,” said Reina.
“Yeah?” asked one of the watchmen. “What’s it about?”
“Uh…” Reina paused. “It’s related to something we were helping him with earlier.”
“And you are?” the guard asked. “Let’s see your papers.”
“If you just tell him it’s Reina Moonblossom and Lius d’Lyrandar,” Reina insisted, “I’m sure he’ll want to see us.”
The guard looked at Reina sceptically. “Alright. We’ll see.”

After a few minutes, Sergeant Portos walked out and scowled at Reina and Lius. “Yeah? Captain told me to be nicer. Tell me what you want, then fuck off.”
“I did ask for Captain Empattin,” Reina said pointedly to the two guards.
“Well he’s a very busy man, isn’t he?” Sergeant Portos said mockingly.
“Well,” Reina hissed, “would you be so kind as to tell him he might want to check out this address. It’s relevant to the case he’s working on.”
Reina held out a scrap of paper, and Sergeant Portos looked down at it indifferently. “He works on a lot of cases. Can you be a bit more specific?”
“Which case do you think we’d be saying about?” Reina asked.
“What? The one where you got away?”
“Yes! That one!”
Sergeant Portos snatched the paper and shook it. “And why should he waste his time looking at this?”
“If he’s interested in getting to the bottom of the dead men walking, there’s one down there.”
“Yeah? How do I know you aren’t setting us up? Eh? How about more specifics?”
Reina ground her teeth. “Okay. We saw this woman. She said she’d been attacked by her dead uncle. We went to investigate, and lo and behold, her dead uncle was there. We left him there. We came to fetch you.”
“Exactly like the other dead man,” Lius added.
“If you want to check it out,” Reina continued, “that’s fine. It might help. If you don’t, it’s no skin off my nose. We just thought you might want the tip.”
“See?” Sergeant Portos said with a nasty smile. “That wasn’t so hard, was it? The watch thanks you for your cooperation. Now sling it.”

The pair headed back down to Foundation, to find the banging stopped, but Ina with her bow at the ready, and one window cracked.
“Did he do that?” Reina asked.
“Yeah,” Ina replied. “He didn’t take kindly to me lookin’ at him.”
“The watch aren’t especially interested,” Lius sighed.
“They may be coming,” Reina said. “They may not. We had to deal with that walking turd.”
“Oh yeah,” Ina grumbled.
“You two should head to Overlook,” Reina suggested. “See how Dale’s doing.”
“Not leaving you here on your own,” Lius said immediately.
“I’m not staying here,” Reina replied. “I have something to do.”
“Where are you going?” Lius demanded.
“_Somewhere_,” Reina shot back. “Lius, haven’t you learned by now that you don’t ask a woman her business?”
“I don’t ask women anything!” Lius insisted.

In Overlook, Dale enquired after Lillian’s husband, Galisar, slowly sliding closer to her and offering every comfort he could think of. Lillian slowly opened up, revealing that there marriage was mostly happy, but they drifted apart, and Galisar was away more and more.
“Eventually,” she sighed, “I found out he was visiting some trollop down somewhere in the lower wards. But I haven’t said anything, because… I don’t know what to say.”
“Why would he want to go to a place like that,” Dale mused, “when he’s got you at home?”
The conversation continued, until Dale subtly suggested that a good way to get back at Galisar might be to play his own game. Surprisingly, Lillian agreed, and Dale cheered her up in the best way he knew.
When they were done, Dale got dressed, and said, “I will inform Vivien that you’re still having your problems, but I will see about dealing with your boorish husband.”
“Absolutely,” Lillian said resolutely. “You can inform her that I’m dumping his cheating arse out on the street as soon as he gets back.”

When Lius and Ina arrived, Dale was sitting on a wall a little way down from Lillian’s house, whistling happily.
“I thought you were supposed to be handling this?” Lius demanded.
“Oh,” Dale returned breezily, “it’s handled.”
“Oh,” Lius said, nonplussed. “Well done. Let’s go tell Viv. Reina’s off doing something girly, I don’t know what that’s about.”
“Indeed?” Dale asked. “Well, maybe we should check it out.”
“No, no,” Lius said, shaking his head. “She’s fine. We’ll go back to Viv.”
“I suppose I am pretty tired,” Dale said, yawning. “Consoling. Okay, let’s go.”

The three headed up to the bazaar and over to Viv’s shop, where the gnome was busily sorting inventory.
“Are you done with my little errands?” she asked as the bell above the door jingled.
“Yes,” Lius replied. “Reina’s got your receipt.”
“Oh,” Viv said. “I trust she will drop it off with me as soon as she’s free.”
“I’ll remind her,” Lius said.
“As for the other unpleasant business,” Dale said, “I have managed to solve it the best way I could.”
Viv offered Dale a slight smirk. “The best way you could?”
“The very best way I could,” Dale agreed, stroking his small beard. “Suffice to say, she’s no longer upset.”
“I knew you were the man for the job,” Viv said, raising an eyebrow.

Reina, meanwhile, walked up to Dragon Towers, where most of the Dragonmarked Houses had enclaves. She located the House Medani tower, and headed inside.
There was a pretty half-elf woman sitting behind the desk, and she looked up with a smile. “Hello. Can I help you today?”
“I hope so,” Reina mumbled, walking over to the desk. “I don’t know if I’ve come to the right place, but I’m looking for Soren d’Medani.”
“Yes?” the woman said. “I could quite possibly get in touch with him for you. What matter is it regarding?”
“I’ve spoken to him on a couple of occasions,” Reina said carefully. “Um… it’s related to the Edge of the Sky. I have something that may be of interest to him.”
The woman looked through a few records, and said, “It looks like he’s in residence at the moment. He should be over in Twelve Pillars. That’s where his main office is. Otherwise, I can have a message sent over.”
“No,” Reina said. “I’d rather see him.”

Reina headed up to Twelve Pillars, but was denied entry at the checkpoint due to her weapons and lack of identification papers. Irritated, she headed back down to Broken Arch, and by the time she reached the apartment, evening was drawing in. Giving up on the idea of seeing Soren this day, Reina went over to Viv’s shop.
“Hello,” the gnome said as Reina entered. “I hear you have a receipt for me.”
“Here it is,” Reina said, handing the receipt over. Viv took it, and slipped Reina a couple of silver pieces. “So, that’s it, then. That’s your receipt.”
“Thank you very much,” Viv said pleasantly. Reina continued to look at Viv expectantly, and the gnome smiled. “Is there something else? If you’re looking for Lius and your friend Dale, they left a while ago.”
“Friend?” Reina said under her breath. “Thanks.”

Before returning to the apartment, Reina headed down to Foundation. Danny’s house was exactly as they had left it, with no watch presence, the door closed and the window still cracked. Frowning, Reina rapped on the door, and after a moment, there came a furious banging from within. Satisfied that Danny was still there, and unlikely to escape, Reina went home.
“Where have you been?” Lius asked when she walked in.
“Oh, I headed down to Foundation just to check on the house,” Reina said. “Doesn’t look like the watch have been there.”
“We were already in Foundation when you said you were going elsewhere,” Lius reminded her.
“Oh,” Reina said. “Well, that was after I went on my errands.”
Lius regarded her suspiciously, but chose not to push the matter, retiring to his room unhappily.

Reina rose early, eating a breakfast that Lius had made for her and then heading out, leaving her weapons at home and taking her identity papers.
“Reina,” Lius called as she headed out. “You forgot your daggers.”
“Not forgot,” Reina said. “I just… won’t be needing them today.
Lius looked at her incredulously. “But your daggers. You left them in your room. You never leave them in your room. Do you want me to take them? Do you want me to look after them?”
“Just look after them,” Reina said. “Make sure no one breaks in and steals them. I know you can do that.”
“Yeah, I can!” Lius affirmed with a grin.

While Reina headed up to Twelve Pillars, Lius went down to Brian’s office.
“Oh, hello!” the fat landlord said as Lius walked into the ratty little room.
“Hello,” Lius returned. “Bit of a sensitive subject.”
“Alright,” Brian returned nervously. “Is it about… you know… before? What happened?”
“Yes,” Lius replied. “A little bit. You see, I think, perhaps, wrongfully getting us arrested, you may owe us a slight favour. So, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for an extension on the rent.”
“Ah,” Brian said, dabbing sweat from his brow. “You see, it wasn’t really… my fault you got arrested. I was just cooperating with the watch. You know, as a good citizen should do.”
“Of course,” Lius said, nodding. “Of course. But a good citizen would also not want innocent people to be hanged for a disgusting crime like that.”
“Oh, no,” Brian agreed. “But that’s a matter you should take up with the watch, don’t you think? It’s not really anything to do with me.”
“Well, you see, the time I spent in the cell, I could have been earning the money for the rent, so you see my problem.”
“Well… I suppose. But… well…”
“Maybe just a week. A week or two? It’s not long, really.”
Brian ran a hand through his thinning hair. “I… suppose you’ve been fairly good tenants, and… seeing as it was a misunderstanding with the watch… yeah. I’m sure it won’t happen again.”
“Not at all. We’ll be laughing about this in no time.”
“I’m sure we will. Aye.”
“So, a week’s extension!” Lius affirmed with a smile. “‘Bye!”

After breakfast, Dale visited Viv, asking after more work.
“I admire your enthusiasm,” Viv said patiently, “but there’s not really anything at the moment. But, you know Lius. I’m sure if there’s anything you need to get involved with, he’ll pass on the message.”
Dale thanked Viv and headed over to the Broken Arch apartment. He knocked at the door, but there was no answer.
Frowning, he scrawled out a note and slipped it under the door. Ina, who was sitting in the apartment and steadfastly ignoring Dale’s knocking, picked up the scrap of paper, covered in markings that she could not read, and placed it on the table.
Dale left the apartment and headed to the Bazaar for a browse, before once again visiting The Wooden Pegasus, where people were beginning to know him.

Reina went back to Twelve Pillars, getting past the House Deneith guards this time. She found the House Medani and entered.
“May I help you today, ma’am,” asked the short, sandy-haired half-elf who greeted her.
“Yes,” Reina said. “Maybe. Is Soren about?”
“Possibly,” the half-elf said. “What’s this about?”
“Um… I think he’s working on the Edge of the Sky-slash-dead people case,” Reina said.
The half-elf squinted, seeming somewhat perplexed. “Yes, that’s… technically true. Um… you’re not with the papers, are you?”
Reina giggled. “No.”
“No,” the half-elf replied. “Didn’t think so. What in particular did you want to see him about?”
“Well,” Reina said. “He’s spoken to me a couple of times, and I might have something that is of use to him.”
“Okay,” the half-elf said. “I’ll see if he’s free to speak to you.”

Reina took a seat, and a short time later, the half-elf walked back down the stairs, accompanied by Soren, who said, “Good work. You didn’t get hanged. That’s what I was going for. And… now you’re back here.”
“Yeah,” Reina agreed. “Well, for starters, why did you help us?”
“I like to think of it more as helping you to help yourselves,” Soren said.
“Okay,” Reina murmured. “But why the interest? It’s nothing to you whether we were hanged or not.”
“No,” Soren admitted, “but I was paid to investigate the job and I did so. There’s certain avenues that it’s easier for some people to go down than others, if you know what I mean. I’m sure if I was asking after Korrak and certain other Kenku, they may not have particularly liked me nosing around in their business.”
“I see,” Reina said. “So by helping us, we helped you.”
“Yes, it’s a circle of… something,” Soren said.

“Well, that’s why I’m here,” Reina admitted. “Maybe I can help you again, and then maybe sometime down the line, you can help me again.”
“We’ll see,” Soren said. “How are you intending to help me?”
“Are you still interested in the undead aspect of the case?” Reina asked.
“Not particularly,” replied Soren. “I think we have that wrapped up fairly well. Do you have more information that I might not be aware of?”
“I have more bodies,” Reina said.
“More… walking bodies, I assume? And you think this is related because…?”
Reina frowned. “Because he’s acting in the exact same way as the man in the safe in the Edge of the Sky, and I’m thinking it’s probably related. So I don’t think it’s wrapped up neatly. Clearly someone’s still out there raising the bodies, as this only happened yesterday.”
“Yes? So you’ve encountered a zombie? I’m informed they do occasionally happen. It may be related, it may not, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ve got the man I was paid to.”
“So you’re happy to leave it at ‘zombies happen?’”
“For now, yes. If anymore comes of it, I’ll be sure to keep this information in mind.”
“Please do.”
“Well, for now, that’s it. The case is closed. My job’s done, and unless someone comes forth with more coin to pay me to look into something else, that’s all I’m willing to do.”
“Don’t look at me in that direction.”
“I wasn’t intending to.”
“Good, then,” Reina sighed. “Thanks for the… tip.”
“No problem,” Soren said breezily. Frowning, Reina walked out of the office and away from Twelve Pillars.

Lius, meanwhile, headed to Viv’s shop to see if she would employ him for another day.
“I suppose I can find something for you to do,” she said. “But no reading this time, no matter how good or trashy it looks.”
“How did you know?” Lius asked.
Viv offered him a knowing look. “When you’ve worked around books for as long as I have, you tend to notice the little things. See if you can figure it out for yourself.” She paused. “Actually, don’t. I need you to focus on your work. Oh, your friend Dale was in here looking for some more work. I said if I had anything, I’d pass it onto you to give to him, if that’s alright.”
That’s fine,” Lius replied. “I don’t know where he lives.”
“He neglected to mention that part of your association,” Viv said.
“Yeah,” Lius sighed. “So, what work do you need doing?”
“Well, for starters, there’s the work you didn’t do yesterday,” Viv chuckled.
“Okay,” Lius said bashfully, disappearing into the back room.

Reina returned to the apartment and found Dale’s note, which read;
Good sir! I am reliably informed by our shared employer that you, sir, will likely be hearing of work that could be of interest to myself.’
He left his address, and signed, ‘Your companion, Dale Hornsbuckle Esq., greatest swordsman in Khorvaire.’
Shaking her head, Reina left the note where she found it and retired to her room to oil her daggers.
Ina, meanwhile, headed down to Fallen to practice her archery. When she was done, a couple of people she knew approached her to ask for food, and she regretfully informed them that she had none at the moment, but would bring some down as soon as she was able.

After his day working, Lius returned to the apartment, where he almost immediately spied the piece of paper on the table.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“It’s for you,” Reina said. “Well, I assume it’s for you.”
Lius read the note, and then Reina asked him to come with a drink with her, where she explained what had passed between her and Soren d’Medani. This seemed to satisfy Lius, and after a couple of rounds in the King of Fire, they headed home.

The next day, Lius did another shift at Viv’s bookshop, while Reina headed back to Foundation once again to check out Danny’s house. This time, the door had fallen inwards from its hinges, and was broken into pieces. Reina investigated quickly, finding no traces of blood and no obvious tracks leading to or from the house.
Reina decided that the door had either been broken down by the watch, in which case the zombie was likely incarcerated or destroyed, or by the family, in which case they were probably all dead. Contemplating this, she headed up to Viv’s shop.
“Can I have a read of some books on undead?” Reina asked. “If you have any?”
“She has,” Lius announced from the back room.
“This is a book shop,” Viv sighed. “But go on. I suppose. Just this once. If it’s anything about undead, I think Lius was looking at that one over there.”
Reina read up on undead, then went and bought herself, Lius and Viv some lunch. After they had eaten, Reina headed into the back room and helped Lius organise books.
“Thanks for your help, Lius,” Viv said when the pair stopped at the counter at the end of the day. “I’m quite surprised that you need an assistant.”
“I don’t,” Lius insisted. “I really don’t.”
“I’m not his assistant,” Reina added vehemently.
“No?” Viv said. “Then you shouldn’t be assisting him.”
“If anything,” Reina said, “he’s my assistant.”
“Ah,” Viv said. “Then maybe I should be giving this to you instead.”
The gnome handed over five silver pieces, which Reina quickly pocketed. Lius quietly said that he would spare Viv the hassle of having to look after him tomorrow.

While Dale spent the evening visiting a number of different bars, Ina, Reina and Lius played a drinking game, working through most of a bottle of rum.
The next day, Lius rose late and, though he felt hazy and ill, made his way up to Findle Firefland’s Miscellanea Magicka. Reina, meanwhile, headed up to the Skyway, curious as to the state of the former site of the Edge of the Sky. She found the broken bluff cordoned off with a hastily constructed wooden barricade. There were plenty of people gawping, but no significant watch presence.
Reina spoke briefly with a fairly well-to-do looking man, commenting on the shocking events of the twelfth of Olarune, before casually asking if he had noticed whether the Noble Sky Bison had done better business since the Edge of the Sky fell.
“Yes, well,” the man said, “one can only imagine so. I can’t say I’ve been. Don’t particularly fancy the place. But this was their chief rival, so it makes sense.”
“Yes,” Reina said. “It does make sense, doesn’t it?”
“I hear quite a few of the other suspended businesses aren’t doing quite as well,” the man shared. “This has put the fear into a good number of people that this event might be reproduced. Complete tosh, I say.”

On his way into Upper Tavick’s Landing, Lius was stopped by the House Deneith guards, but upon provision of his identity papers, was allowed to keep hold of his rapier after it had been bound into its scabbard.
“Hello,” Findle said, regarding Lius warily as he entered the shop.
“Hello,” Lius returned politely. “I don’t suppose you remember me, I was here a few days ago.”
“Yes,” Findle replied sharply. “I do remember you and your… companions.”
“Oh,” Lius said. “My companions aren’t with me today.”
Findle looked a little relieved. “Good. Good. It’s always nice to see someone who does appreciate the arcane arts. Are you here to purchase some components, perhaps?”
“I’m afraid not,” Lius said. “I had something else in mind. You did us a great service by helping us the way you did, and I wanted to repay that. I wondered if I could give you a hand around the shop for free? Some extra labour, to do the jobs you don’t like doing?”
Findle seemed to mull this over, then said, “I might have some… errands to be run, perhaps.”
“All above board?” Lius asked.
“Hmmmm… your friends and you wouldn’t happen to be… of a certain… persuasion, with regards to work and such?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Lius said, while offering Findle a knowing look. Findle frowned, and Lius added, “We are. It’s fine.”
Findle lowered his voice. “Good. There’s a couple of things you could maybe do for me. You’ve probably walked through the district, have you seen the shop Planar Marvels?”
“I’m afraid not.”
“No matter. It’s very easy to find. It’s just I might have heard, possibly, through a friend of a friend, that they happened to have just gotten into stock a small amount of crystallised darkness which I would very much like to get my hands on. Perhaps if it were to… end up in my shop, somehow. Well. I have many sources, I’m sure I could find some for myself, that no one could possibly trace back to that shop. If it were to just disappear from his shop at a similar time…”
“No harm done.”
Findle grinned. “I’m sure they couldn’t prove that he hadn’t used it in some form of experiment, or maybe let an errant ray of sunshine shine upon it. Many things can happen.”

“I don’t suppose you know,” Lius said, “if he has it out in the shop for anyone to view?”
“Oh, no, no, no,” Findle replied. “He certainly won’t have it out on display. It’s incredibly unstable. It has to be kept in complete darkness, otherwise it will disappear, and I’m sure he intends to use it himself for some kind of arcane experiment. It wouldn’t be for sale.”
“How might one go about getting that without access to complete darkness?” Lius asked.
Findle hurried over to the door of the shop and locked it, before turning back to Lius, an excited smile on his narrow face. “Look, I know the rough layout of his shop. He showed me around once. He was showing off all his fancy bits and bobs, but I’m fairly sure I know where he’ll be keeping it. It will be in a sealed container. Obviously, it will be hard to verify if it’s actually in there, but you’ll just have to take it on faith. I know for a fact that he’s a notorious skinflint. Apart from buying his magical components, he’s spent next to nothing on security except for one small detail. He has a small trifle of a security… watch… thing. Just a small mechanical nothing, you don’t need to worry about that.”
“No, I need to know about it, please.”
“Oh, it’s a small homunculus I believe he created himself. Iron defender, small metal dog. You might have heard of them.”
“What sort of timeframe do we have? Clearly, you think he has it for a reason. Do you know roughly when he will be using it?”
“No, I honestly don’t know. He’ll probably be minding the shop most of the day today. If he’s doing experiments over the weekend, I don’t know. The sooner the better. Or, failing that, there is one other small thing I’d like investigating.”
“Okay. Well, if you let me know about that as well, I’ll see if I can’t do at least one of them.”

“A couple of days ago,” Findle related, “ a young gentleman came into my shop and purchased a variety of components which happened to pique my interest. I just would really like to know what he’s doing with them.”
“What components?” Lius asked.
Findle reeled off a list of components, which included half a dozen small Khyber shards and several lengths of elementally-attuned wire. “I’d very much like to know exactly what he’s intending to do with them.”
“Was he House Cannith?” Lius asked curiously.
“No, no,” Findle said. “I’ve heard of him. He’s recently opened up a workshop in Twelve Pillars. Simon Nassus, I believe his name is. Other than that, I’m afraid I don’t know much about him. But, yes, if you could find out what he’s working on, if you find any notes or if he’s completed any items, if you could get one to me, that would be marvellous.”
“I’ll see what I can do regarding both of those,” Lius promised.
“Excellent,” Findle said, smirking and wringing his hands.

Dale returned to his room after a morning’s drinking to find a note from Lius, which simply read, ‘Dale. Job. Apartment. ASAP. Lius. x’
Dale strapped on his rapier, and hurried to Broken Arch for the next assignment.

Session Four

Lius stepped in front of Reina, and called out, “I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I will.”
The House Tarkanen members laughed at this, but Lius made a gesture and chanted a few arcane words. One of the men in the chamber suddenly staggered back, clutching his head and groaning. A hulking bald man stalked out from the other side of the fire, wielding a mace. In almost perfect unison, a small, scrawny man scrabbled out across the rubble.
Pip, too, marched forward, snarling, “They’ll be scrapin’ ya off the walls when I’m done with ya.” The Dragonmark that covered his arm began to glow, and he reached out towards Reina.

Reina ducked behind the wall, making a half-hearted swipe at Pip with one of her daggers. The big-nosed dwarf stood behind Pip, hopping excitedly from one foot to the other.
“Out the way!” he exclaimed. “Out the way! I wanna fight ‘em both!”
One of the men swung at Lius with a crude weapon, but the blow was slow and obvious, and the half-elf easily managed to duck out of the way.
“Ah hah!” Dale cried, suddenly springing forth from the shadows. “Take this, blaggard!”
He drove his rapier forward, the blade sinking shallowly into the nearest man’s gut. He cried out in surprise, blood spreading across his dirty jerkin. An arrow whizzed out from behind Dale, and the man leaped back, whimpering, “How many of you are there?”

Nearby, the bulky bald man winced as a dim light began to glow at his solar plexus, and a shimmering cocoon of energy spread over him. Lius took a step back as Pip advanced, and cast a spell.
Pip leered. “Ya can’t get away from me that easy.”
He lumbered forward, only for Dale and Reina to slash out with their respective weapons, both drawing blood. Pip came on unwaveringly, grabbing Lius’ wrist with his pulsing red arm. Lius cried out in pain.
Scowling, Reina jabbed her dagger into Pip’s shoulder, and the brute staggered back with a groan of pain. He sunk to one knee, blood spilling from the wound, and then collapsed to the ground.

The rest of the men around the fire glanced around nervously, suddenly seeming unsure of what to do. Reina looked around, a wild look in her eyes.
“Who’s next?” she growled.
As if in response, the ginger dwarf leaped into the doorway, screaming, “Pip’s dead! Pip’s dead! I’m in charge now!”
He thrust his meaty hands forward, and a gout of flame spurted from them, torching two of his associates in the process. Dale and Lius managed to duck either side of the door, but Reina, who was standing in the opening, took the brunt of the attack, and collapsed to the ground, smoke curling from her hair and clothes.
Dale glanced nervously down at Reina, then back up at the men in the room. “Tremble before the amazing skill of Dale Hornsbuckle, the finest swordsman in all of Khorvaire! And companions!”
He jabbed forward with his rapier, but caught his foot on a fallen piece of debris and slipped, completely missing his thrust. In response, the scrawny little man darted forward and stuck Dale with a sharpened piece of rusty metal.
Dale grunted in pain, but grinned nonetheless. “A fine hit, sir.”

Ina fired another arrow from the shadows, which missed the dwarf and clattered off the wall, while Lius crouched to try and rouse the unconscious Reina.
“I’m the boss now!” the dwarf hollered, his voice rippling with mad laughter. “I’ll take you all down!”
He charged at Dale, swinging stubby fists, only for the halfling to duck under his swing and cut the dwarf’s cheek.
“Terrible footwork such as yours, sir,” Dale chided, “it would be a service to put you down.”
The rapier flashed out again, opening the dwarf’s other cheek. Happy that Reina was in no immediate danger, Lius got to his feet, and with a word, threw his hands out. Dazzling bursts of colour sprayed out, and the bald barbarian stepped back, covering his eyes.
The dwarf took another clumsy swing at Dale, but the halfling once again easily avoided the attack, sinking his rapier into the dwarf’s armpit. The blade encountered resistance, then pushed through. The dwarf let out a choked growl of surprise, and dark blood bubbled from his lips. Dale pulled the rapier free, and the dwarf fell backwards.
The bald man and his miniscule partner seemed somewhat shaken by this, but advanced on the party regardless. Lius muttered an incantation and held out a hand, and suddenly, the larger man fell to the ground unconscious.

The little man shook his head, bewildered, and then looked down at his partner with a look of horror. The dagger fell from his hand, and he held his arms up, palms outward.
Dale jabbed his rapier at the scrawny man, and declared, “You are beaten, sir! Stay where you are!”
A terrified look on his face, the little man did as he was bid.
Lius helped a dazed Reina to her feet, then walked over to Pip’s corpse and gingerly took back his ring. Reina staggered over to where the big, bald man was lying and kicked his mace away from his hand. The shoddy weapon skittered across the floor, breaking apart.
“If anyone has the information we asked for initially,” Lius said, “now would be a good time to tell us.”
There was a discordant mumbling from the remaining members of House Tarkanen, and one piped up, “Dunno! Pip knew everyone. But he’s dead now.” He turned to someone behind him, who was muttering. “I don’t know, shut up!”

“What about you, sir?” Dale asked of the little man. The bandit shook his head emphatically. “Are you certain? Look at the tip, it’s very small.”
The little man shook his head again, pointed to his mouth, then pointed to the bald man sprawled on the ground.
“He spoke for you?” Reina asked, and the small man nodded. Reina walked over to the big man and straddled him, pinning his arms with her knees. She slapped him across the face until he stirred, and when he started to struggle, pressed her dagger against his throat.
“Sam!” he called out hoarsely. The little man pointed vigorously at his friend.
“Sam’s a little busy at the moment, good sir,” Dale said.
“He’s fine,” Reina insisted. “For now.”
“He’s helping with our inquiries,” Dale added.
“But you better start talking,” Reina growled.
“If you ‘urt ‘im,” the big man snarled, “I will kill you.”
“Don’t make us hurt him, then,” Reina said impatiently. “We didn’t want to hurt anyone. We just wanted information.”
“Yeah, right,” the bald man grumbled. “What information do you want?”

“We need to know who deals in undead,” Lius said. “We got led to you.”
The bald man frowned. “Is that it? Grant. Dunno where ‘e is. Somewhere in Fallen.”
“Who’s Grant?” Reina asked.
“‘Nother person like us,” the big man answered. “Got a mark. But don’t ‘ang around with us. Prefers to ‘ang around with the dead. ‘E’s weird.”
“Which dead does he particularly hang around with, sir?” Dale questioned.
“What kind o’ question’s that?” the bandit snarled. “What kind o’ dead are there? People who ‘ave died.”
“Lots of people here have died,” Reina said pointedly. “How hard would it have been to just give us this information in the first place?”
“Yeah, well,” the big man mumbled. “Look, you look like you got money. What else was we to do?”
“And we would have happily given it to you in exchange for the information,” Lius said.
“Now you get nothing,” Reina hissed.
“Fine,” the bald man grunted, looking away. “You gonna off me too, then?”

Reina climbed off the bandit and got to her feet. “Not unless you make me.”
The big man got to his feet and lumbered over to Dale. “You best step away from ‘im, little man.”
“Of course,” Dale said warily, taking a step to one side. The big man put a comforting hand on the little man’s shoulder and mumbled to him soothingly.
The group watched this for a brief moment, then headed out of the dark room. Dale went last, and hesitated in the doorway for a moment. “You will always remember the name of Dale Hornsbuckle! Tell your friends! Tell your sisters! Wherever evil is, there I will be!”
“You better not show your face down ‘ere, Dale!” the big man roared.
“If the information is wrong,” Dale retorted, “you will see me again, good sir!”

Dale emerged from the dilapidated building to find Reina slumped on the ground, her back against the cold stone wall.
After a short debate, the group decided to retire for a time to recuperate. They returned to the apartment and slept for a good eight hours. When everyone rose, Reina made a pitiful meal of bread and gravy, which Ina and Lius shared, while Dale munched sullenly on his trail rations.
“If we survive the night,” Lius muttered, “I’ll buy us some more food.”

The bells tolled eight and the sky grew dark before the party emerged from the apartment. They headed back down to Fallen.
As they walked through the filthy, narrow streets, Ina encountered a couple of people she knew, and while they hadn’t heard the name Grant, spoke fearfully of an abandoned church that was known to be haunted.
The building was easy to locate, a huge, spiky, black structure surrounded by dead lanterns and a general aura of dread. One door was leaning slightly, and a flame flickered within.
“I don’t suppose we knock,” Reina whispered.
“Good thinking!” Dale exclaimed, sauntering over and rapping on the heavy wooden door. The party waited anxiously, but there was no response. “Hello!? Tax man!”

Lius tried to push the door open, but succeeded only in tiring himself out. Reina helped out, and using all her strength, managed to open the door a fraction, the swollen wood screaming against the dirty concrete of the floor. Inside, the church was dark, the air full of dust and a dry, musty smell. There was rubble all over, and the only light came from a lantern in the corner of the room, which illuminated a staircase leading down.
As Reina scanned the room, she spied two emaciated figures shambling towards the door, their limbs making a horrible creaking sound. Reina jerked back as a skeletal hand shot out through the gap between the two doors.
“That’s not right!” Ina hissed.
“I agree,” Lius squeaked.
“I would like to be third on that opinion,” Dale added.

“This was a bad idea!” Reina yelped, grabbing hold of the iron handle of the door and trying to pull it closed. The skeleton that was now trying to press its way out of the church blocked her progress, and she staggered back, a look of horror on her pale face.
Ina loosed an arrow, which hit exactly where the skeleton’s heart should be… and passed through its ribcage to thud into the far wall. Dale sprung forward, too, swiping at one of the skeleton’s hands with his dagger, again with little effect. The skeleton retaliated, raking at him with bony claws.
Lius picked up a hunk of stone and hurled it at the skeletons, only for it to hit the door. Dale saw this and threw another rock, but also missed the creatures which still tried ineffectually to escape.
Dale elected to distract the skeletons while the others searched for another entrance. As Lius, Ina and Reina left, he flung a stone, which struck a skull with a crack.

Around the side of a church, the group found that a pillar had collapsed, and caved in part of the roof. Reina managed to climb up the wall fairly easily, and peeked into the church. The skeletons were a tangle of bones in the middle of the doors, and a stone occasionally flew past them. Below her was a pile of rubble, and further along, the stairs leading down.
Reina hopped down onto the rubble and scrambled quietly down. Lius followed behind, kicking a broken stone down. One of the skeletons turned, and began to creak slowly towards them. Reina bolted towards the stairs, leaping over the balcony and thundering down the stairs, with Lius close behind.
When they reached the bottom of the stairs, Lius heard the skeletons stop somewhere above, then move away. He sighed in relief. “We’re okay. I think we’re okay.”

They found themselves in a dark, narrow corridor filled with scraps of cloth, broken stone and other debris. As they shuffled along, Lius spotted what might be the back legs and tail of a dead rat. He let out a whimper of revulsion and staggered back, his heel connecting with a bottle which went spinning into a wall.
Reina heard a frightened yelp from up ahead, and called out, “Don’t be scared.”
There was no answer, so she crept forward and peered around the corner. She found herself looking into what was probably at one time a crypt, but had been converted into a crude den. There was a thin, soiled mattress on the floor, and on it cowered a figure in a huge, ragged cloak which completely hid their shape, size and gender.
“What’s the matter?” Reina asked. The figure flinched, pressing itself into the corner, mumbling under its breath.
“I beg your pardon?” Lius said quietly.
The figure sniffled, and whimpered, “Sorry.”

“Sorry?” Reina asked incredulously. “What for?”
“S… sorry,” the figure babbled, “for what I’ve done.”
“What have you done?” Lius asked.
“I… killed all the people,” said the figure, sounding on the verge of tears. “I made the tower fall.”
“How?” Lius queried.
The figure looked around jerkily. “Why are you here? You’re here for me, aren’t you?”
“Are you Grant?” asked Lius.
The hooded figure shuffled back even further, and moaned, “Please don’t kill me.”
“No one’s going to kill you,” Lius reassured them. When the figure did not reply, Lius said, “Did someone make you do that? To the tower? Which tower?”
“The… the… the tower. Up in Skyway. It fell. I heard about it.”
“How is that your fault? You were down here. Presumably.”
“I… I’m sorry!” Grant yelped. “I didn’t mean to!”

“Do you mean two nights ago?” Reina asked softly.
“Yes,” Grant moaned. “I was up there. He took me up there, said to bring the man back. But… but something was different and then the tower fell! I know it’s all my fault!”
“Who took you up there?” Lius whispered.
“Shade,” Grant responded. “I’ve… I’ve worked for him before, but this hasn’t happened before. Please believe me! I didn’t mean for this to happen!”
“It’s okay,” Lius reassured them. “It’s okay.”
“Who is this Shade?” Reina asked.
“Shade?” Grant mumbled. “He’s a fixer. He does jobs. I don’t ask what, he just… I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Lius repeated, exchanging a wary glance with Reina.
“Do you know where he is?” Reina asked of Grant. “Where to find him?”
“I… no!” Grant whined. “Why? Who are you?”
“We were up there too,” said Reina.
“What!?” gasped Grant. “But how?”
Lius looked at Grant with a small, sympathetic frown. “He asked us to do something for him as well.”

“I… I don’t understand,” Grant said guardedly.
“What did he ask you to do?” Reina enquired.
“The… the same thing that he always does,” Grant said. “I went in, there was a man. He was dead. So I touched him and I brought him back and then I told him to wait in the safe and then we left. That’s it! That’s all I did!”
“Then you didn’t make the tower fall,” Lius said.
“But I did,” Grant insisted. “Something was different, I… I felt it. And then the tower fell! What else could it be?”
“What felt different?” Lius asked.
“I… can’t explain it,” Grant sighed. “It was… there was more.”
“More… more what?” Lius prompted. “More to it? Did he ask you to do anything out of the ordinary?”
“No!” Grant said, sounding a little exasperated. “No. Just the same as the previous two times.”
“Was this at different locations?” asked Reina.
“Yes,” Grant replied.
“So, Grant,” Reina said, “Where can we find this fixer? This is very important.”
“I don’t know,” Grant said hurriedly. “I don’t know. He… he comes to me when he needs me.”
“Do you know anyone else he associates with?” Lius asked. “Have you been with anyone else in his presence?”
“No, Grant answered. “No, it’s always just… just been me and him. He goes in first, and then I go in, and then I raise the body, and then we leave.”

“Did you raise those skeletons out there?” Reina asked.
The cloaked figure looked down, and whispered, “Yes.”
“Can you ask them to stop attacking our friend?”
“No. No, I can’t. I… I can’t tell them what to do. They just attack anyone.”
“Do they attack you?”
“Yes, but… I… I know how to get past them.”
“When we leave,” Lius said, “can you help us get past them so we can get out safely.”
Grant made a wheezing little sound that might have been a laugh. “There’s no trick to it. You just have to run.”
“Oh,” Lius said, looking dumbfounded. “That makes sense.”
“Are you okay in here?” Reina asked the hooded figure.
“I… I live here,” Grant said. “This is my home.”
“Do you like it here?” Reina murmured.
“What?” Grant asked incredulously. “Does anyone like it here? Do you know where you are? This is Fallen. This is the worst place in Sharn.”
“We have a friend who seems to like it,” Reina replied, “at least a little.”
“Then your friend is mad,” Grant said sullenly.

“Are there any circumstances when Shade comes to you?” Lius asked. “Is there anything that’s consistent?”
Grant shook their head. “No. No, he just comes when he has a job and needs me. Who are you? Why are you here?”
“The watch think that it was our fault that the restaurant fell,” Reina said.
“But we’re not here to accuse anyone else,” Lius added hastily. “We just want to clear our own names. We’re not going to give any other names to the watch.”
“No, no, no,” Grant babbled. “You can’t turn me in.”
“We won’t,” Lius reassured him. “I promise.”
“Then how are you going to clear your names? It was all my fault.”
“It wasn’t your fault. You were just there to raise the body. You said it yourself. We just want Shade.”
“The watch say that it was an anti-magic bomb that brought the restaurant down,” Reina added.
Grant seemed to freeze, before whispering, “Are you sure?”
Lius nodded, and Reina said, “They seem sure.”

“It… wasn’t me?” Grant breathed, once again sounding close to tears. “It wasn’t the undead?”
“No,” Lius said. “Not at all.”
“But it may have been this Shade,” Reina said, “and that’s why we need to find him.”
Grant’s shoulders slumped. “What do you want me to do? I don’t know how to find Shade.”
“But you’ve given us a name,” Lius said with an appreciative smile, “which is more than we had.”
“You… didn’t ask his name?” Grant queried.
“We did,” Reina said. “He just said he was a fixer. When he comes to you, does he take you there and then, or does he tell you to meet him?”
“He just gives me the job,” said Grant. “We do it and that’s it. I go.”
“Do you know who his employer is?” Lius asked.
Grant shook their head vehemently. “No. Never. I don’t ask questions.”

Lius and Reina quietly agreed that they had bothered Grant enough, and prepared to leave.
“But,” Reina said, “really, don’t punish yourself over this. It really wasn’t your fault.”
“Are you sure?” Grant asked weakly.
“Positive,” Lius said.
“Okay,” Grant whispered, nodding.
“And thank you for what you’ve told us,” Lius said earnestly.
“Okay,” Grant repeated, sinking back down onto their mattress.

They ascended the stairs and ran past the skeletons, one of whom had a huge hole in their skull. Reina scampered up the pile of rubble and through the hole in the roof, and Lius quickly followed. They met up with Ina, and headed round to Dale, where they explained what they had discovered.
“We need to find out about someone called Shade,” Reina said. “Also, someone should maybe watch this building, in case he comes back.”
Ina decided to take the first watch, while the others discussed returning to the Daggerwatch garrison and tell the watch all they had uncovered so far. Dale was reluctant to go back to the place where he had so recently been incarcerated, so Reina volunteered to head up alone.
“Please be careful,” Lius pleaded.
“It’s me,” Reina said with a smirk.
“_Please_ be careful,” Lius reiterated.

Reina walked into the garrison and approached the front desk. The woman behind the desk looked up, and seeming to recognise Reina, snapped, “What do you want?”
“Can I speak to the captain?” Reina asked flatly.
“Which captain?” Demanded the guard.
“I don’t know his name,” Reina said. “Stocky. Blonde.”
“Oh, Captain Empattin,” the woman said. “Wait here.”
The woman walked off down the corridor, and a few minutes later, another watchman approached Reina.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “Captain Empattin can’t see you. What are you here for?”
“I just thought I’d give him you information we have so far,” Reina said, before relaying the party’s findings so far, being careful to give away as little about Grant as possible.
The watchman rifled through a few papers, and said, “Okay. I’ll pass it onto him. Just wait here, we’ve got someone else here who wants to have a word with you.”

Reina waited as the watchman stepped into another room, and a moment later, a tall, bony half-elf with thick dark hair walked out with the watchman.
“Hello,” the half-elf said to Reina. “I’m the House Medani representative who’s been assigned to investigating the restaurant falling. Captain Empattin informs me that you aren’t, in fact, the culprits we are looking for.”
“He’s right,” Reina muttered.
“Yes,” the half-elf said. “I’m inclined to agree. “But I want to know who is responsible. You say you have a name?”
“I don’t know if he’s responsible, as such,” Reina said. “But he’s certainly involved. We’ve been told his name’s Shade.”
The dark-haired half-elf nodded, and pulled a notebook from the pocket of his long coat. “Does the name Korrak mean anything to you?”
“No,” Reina said, shaking her head.
“Does the name Findle Firefland mean anything to you?” the half-elf asked, jotting something down in his book.
“No,” Reina sighed. “You seem to know more than we do right now.”
The half-elf smirked. “Yes, evidently, and I don’t have a noose around my neck.”

“If you are so knowledgeable,” Reina said coolly, “could you not get that noose slipped off of my neck? You know we didn’t do it.”
“Yes, I know,” the half-elf said, “and I’m sure the captain knows. But that doesn’t mean any of us can actually prove it. Unfortunately, at the moment, all evidence points towards you. Which I’m sure someone intended. What I want to find is who that someone is, and why they intended it to point to you.”
“Yeah,” Reina muttered. “I’d like to know that as well.”
The half-elf nodded, still wearing a smug half-smile. “Anyway, I’ll find my man eventually. Whether it will be in time for you and your friends, I can’t say.”
“And if you find anything more,” Reina said, “can I find you?”
“You can find the House Medani offices,” he replied, “I’m sure.”
“And your name is?”
“Soren. Soren d’Medani.”
“Well. Let’s hope one that of us finds the guy before it’s too late.”
“Too late for what?” Soren asked, genuinely perplexed, before exclaiming, “Oh, too late for you! I see. I’m sorry. Yes, yes, certainly. Don’t worry; I’m sure you’ll find something.”

As Reina headed out of Daggerwatch, she heard someone approaching, and turned around, drawing her daggers. Soren d’Medani froze in his tracks, and held up his hands.
“Well, there’s no need for threats,” he insisted.
Reina sheathed her daggers. “Sorry. I’ve just not had the best day with people running at me.”
“Fair enough,” returned Soren. “You’re not very good at this investigating business, are you?”
“Not as a rule,” Reina said testily. “No.”
Soren took out his notebook and glanced at it. “Well, you can find Findle Firefland in the Silvergate district. Korrak, who is a Kenku, lives in the Precarious district.”
“And who are these people?” Reina asked.
“People you probably want to investigate,” Soren replied snappily.
“Okay,” Reina said doubtfully. “Thanks for the tip.”
“You’re welcome,” Soren replied, once again wearing his maddening smirk.

It was fully dark by the time Reina got back to Fallen. She headed over to Grant’s church, but saw no sign of Ina, until the shifter, who had holed up in a tall ruined building across from the church, whistled down to her.
Reina entered the building and jogged up the stairs to the room Ina was in. “Anything?”
“Nothing,” Ina said. “How ‘bout you?”
“Maybe,” Reina replied.
“Maybe’s better than nothin’,” Ina observed.
“Definitely,” Reina agreed. “You haven’t seen those other two, have you?”
“No,” Ina replied.

The pair waited for a short while, until Lius and Dale returned to the church. Grinning, Reina tossed a pebble at Lius, which bounced off his head. He cried out, and looked up at Reina with a scowl.
“What was that for!?” he demanded, attempting to throw the stone back at Reina and failing miserably.
“Come on up,” Reina said. “I might have something.”
“Yeah,” Lius mumbled. “Stones in your face.”
“In your face,” Reina retorted gleefully.
“Shut up,” Lius pouted.
Lius and Dale climbed up the stairs, and as they appeared, Reina said, “I ran into a House Medani guy at the garrison, and he gave me a couple of names we should supposedly investigate.”
“Why would he willingly give up information on an investigation?” Lius asked sceptically.
“Beats me,” Reina muttered. “Maybe he’s too lazy to do the legwork himself. He said we should check out Findle Firefland in Silvergate and Korrak in Precarious.”

After a brief discussion, the party decided to head over to the nearby Precarious district first. Lius volunteered to watch the church, but when Ina mentioned that there might be rats in the building, he decided to go with the rest of the group.
They headed through The Stores, avoiding threatening groups which lurked in the shadows. Lius spotted more rats here, and Reina offered to carry him on her back for a while. The Precarious district was a bustle of activity, with workers hauling up goods from the docks below and transporting them to the various dilapidated warehouses which dominated the streets and littered the hills.
Lius timidly approached a group of workmen who were huddled around a burning barrel, and said, “Excuse me? I’m looking for someone.”
One of the workers looked at Lius, and grunted, “Yeah?”
“I’m looking for Korrak,” Lius said. “He’s a Kenku, a black-feathered humanoid bird.”
“Oh,” the worker said. “You want one o’ them. Head to north of the district. They’re all up high.”

The party headed further up, passing a field of huge magical cranes, until they spied a group of Kenku. Dale approached, and asked if they knew anyone named Kodlak. The Kenku trilled among themselves, until one turned to Dale and hissed, “What you want him for?”
“Just a chat,” Reina replied.
“Chat about what?” the Kenku snapped.
“He might be able to help us with something,” Reina said.
“Help you with what?” asked the Kenku.
“I think that’s his business, really,” Lius said. “Isn’t it?”
The Kenku exchanged looks, and then one of them buzzed, “It’s our business.”
“Who are you?” Reina asked. “His boyfriend?”
“No!” the Kenku barked. “Why? You his girlfriend?”
“Maybe,” Reina replied with a smirk.
The Kenku exchanged another glance. “Liar. What you want him for? Tell us?”
“He might be able to help us get off the hook with the watch,” Reina explained.

The most vocal Kenku took a step forward, and said, “Yeah? How’s that?”
“Well,” Reina said, beginning to lose her patience, “we need to talk to him to find out.”
“How do you know he can help you,” the Kenku said, “if you don’t know? Hm?”
“We were given his name,” Reina said.
“By who?”
“A guy.”
“What guy? How do we know you ain’t the watch?”
Reina burst out laughing, and Lius said wryly, “Do we look like the watch?”
“Dunno,” the Kenku retorted. “Might be under cover. Tryin’ to trick us.”
“I’m not under much cover,” Reina said, glancing down at her outfit.
“Still,” the Kenku muttered. “Can’t risk it. Don’t know him. Never heard of him.”

They turned to leave, but Reina cried out, “If you don’t help us, we’re probably going to hang.”
The Kenku stopped, and the apparent leader turned back to Reina. “Watch gonna hang you? What you done?”
“They think we brought down that restaurant,” Reina said. “But we didn’t.”
The Kenku once again looked furtively at each other, and one piped up, “Who did? Wasn’t Korrak.”
“No,” Reina said.
“But he might know who did,” said Dale.
“He might help us find who did it,” Lius added.
“Why would he help you?” the lead Kenku demanded. “What’s in it for him?”
“Well, maybe we can discuss that,” Reina said pointedly, “with him.”
“Maybe,” the Kenku muttered. “Maybe.”
“Maybe it’s in his best interests that whoever he does mention may not come after him if he’s locked up by the watch,” Dale said.
“Maybe if he don’t mention him, he won’t come after him,” the Kenku shot back.
“Or maybe he will come after him anyway,” Dale replied, “because he knows who he is.”
This gave the Kenku pause. “We’ll see. We’ll see. Stay here.”

One loped off, and the rest remained, looking charily at the party. After around ten minutes, a pair of Kenku approached, and the rest of the bird people gathered around them protectively.
“Yeah?” the newcomer trilled. “What you want? You want me? I’m Korrak. What you want?”
“Heard you might have some information that could help us,” Reina said.
“Yeah?” Korrak snapped. “‘Bout the restaurant?” Lius nodded. “Don’t know anything. Wasn’t there.”
“We know you weren’t,” Reina assured him.
“No,” Korrak said, bobbing his long beak up and down. “You do.”
“We do,” Reina agreed.
“Yeah. Wasn’t there. I don’t know anything. Can’t help you.”
“Does the name Shade ring a bell?”
Korrak glanced around edgily. “Might have heard of him. Why?”
“We need to find him,” said Lius.

“Maybe I don’t know how to find him,” Korrak insisted.
“But maybe you do,” Reina said tersely.
“What’s it worth?” Korrak asked.
“Our lives,” Reina replied earnestly. “We’d be greatly in your debt.”
“Oh yeah? Maybe. Maybe. Could be. Maybe, yeah. Maybe I know where I met him. Maybe that be enough? Yeah?”
“That would certainly be a start.”
“Yeah. Okay. Maybe… maybe you go to Oldkeep. Maybe that’s where I met him.”
“Do you know anything about him?”
“Only what he said to me.”
“What did he say?” Lius asked.
“Did he try and recruit you for a job?” Reina added.
Korrak shrugged, and then said, in a perfect replication of the fixer’s voice, “I have a job for you. Fifty gold. No questions asked. Place this package beneath the Edge of the Sky restaurant before tomorrow evening. I know you’re capable of this.” Korrak’s voice returned to its normal, harsh cadence. “That’s all I know. Gave me a package. I did it. Got gold.”

“You didn’t look in the package at all?” Lius asked.
“No,” Korrak replied. “That’s all I did. Delivered it. Got gold.”
“The full amount?” Reina queried.
“Yeah,” said Korrak.
“Good on you,” Reina said.
“Yeah,” Korrak repeated. “Now you owe me. Yeah?”
“If it pans out. Yes, we do.”
“Yeah. Good.”
“Maybe our next job, you’ll get a cut.”
“Yeah. Maybe. Maybe I will. Yeah.”
“Of course, if we hang, then nothing.”
“Yeah. Alright.”
“You’ve been very helpful,” Lius said. “We’ll make sure to come back if this pans out.”

The Kenku whispered amongst themselves, and then Korrak turned to Lius, and said, “So, where you from? Who are you?” When no answer was forthcoming, he added, “Need to know where you’re from. Collect on my favour. Yeah?”
“Broken Arch,” Reina said.
“Yeah?” Korrak hissed. “Where in Broken Arch? What’s your names?”
“Mya Stone,” Reina answered. “Edric Storm.”
“And I am Dale Hornsbuckle!” Dale announced loudly. “Greatest swordfighter in all of Khorvaire. Perhaps you have heard of me?”
The Kenku exchanged a look, and Korrak said, “No.”
“Not this part of Khorvaire,” Dale replied disappointedly.
“But don’t worry,” Reina said. “If we get cleared, you won’t have to come to us. We pay out debts.”
“Alright,” Korrak said. “Good. But I haven’t told you anything. Yeah?”
“I don’t even know who you are,” Reina replied.
“Good,” Korrak said.
“Nice talking to you,” Lius said. “Stranger.”

Midnight was approaching by the time the group headed up away from Precarious, and they decided to sleep at the apartment before heading up to Silvergate. Lius fetched breakfast the next morning, and they quickly ate the bread and fruit before heading out.
The walk up to Silvergate took almost two hours, and by the time the party reached the district, most of the shops were open. They asked several passers-by about Findle, but no one had heard of the man. Finally, Lius found someone who directed them to a shop called the Miscellanea Magicka.
Lius opened the door to the shop, which was bright and nicely decorated, full of glass displays showing magical items and components. A tinkling chime announced their arrival, and a white-haired young gnome popped up from behind the counter.
“Can I help you today?” he asked chirpily.
“Actually,” said Lius, “we were looking for Findle.”
“Ah,” the gnome said with a smile. “Yes. That would be me. How may I help you today… ah…?”
“Edric,” Lius said.
Findle grinned. “Mr Edric.”

Lius approached the counter, and said furtively, “Don’t suppose you know anything about what happened with the Edge of the Sky?”
“Oh, no, no, no,” Findle said quickly. “Terrible business, that was.”
“You sure you don’t know anything about that, good sir?” Dale asked.
“Uh… yes,” Findle reiterated. “Absolutely sure. Other than what I’ve heard from word of mouth. I hear the Sharn Inquisitive is going to be running a three page spread on it.”
“We were told you might be a man in the know,” Reina said.
Findle glanced around nervously. “Really? Told by whom?”
“A man,” Reina replied. “I didn’t get his name.”
“But, presumably, being a magic user yourself, you’re interested into how the magical dealings failed them,” Lius prompted.
“Oh, yes,” Findle said. “Yes, well, of course. It was obviously some anti-magic effect of… great power. Other than that, I really couldn’t say.”

Lius leaned over the counter, glanced around, then whispered, “You can tell us a bit more. I’m very interested. How did that happen? How would anyone do that?”
“We’re not the authorities,” Reina interjected grouchily.
Findle ran a hand through his hair, and said, “Why, I never suggested you were. Why are you so interested in this? And why are you asking me? Who is this man you said involved you?”
“A tall gentleman,” Reina said. “Half-elf.”
“I know any number of people who match that description,” Findle said.
“We just have a particular interest in what happened,” said Reina.
“Me particularly,” Lius said, smiling.
“Well,” Findle said. “I’m sure the city watch and House Medani are doing all they can to investigate the… event.”
“I hope I won’t offend you by saying that I don’t have that much faith in the city watch,” Reina sighed.
“Well, I’m sure House Medani will get to the bottom of it,” Findle responded.
“Yes,” Reina said. “I’m sure they will. But they suggested you might know something.”

“Me!?” Findle said, sounding truly astounded. “I don’t know why they would suggest that at all. They certainly haven’t approached me about it. Of course, I would be more than happy to lend them my assistance, but I don’t see what business it is of yours.”
“Reina,” Dale said spiritedly. “Perhaps it’s a good idea if you go and look at something sparkly for a while.”
Reina scowled, but walked away from the counter. Lius watched her go, then said to Findle, “I really am interested. As a fellow magic user.”
“Ah,” Findle said, smiling up at Lius. “A fellow magic user. Yes, well, do you have any particular ideas on how this may have happened?”
“Well, as you say, some sort of very powerful anti-magic,” Lius said.
“Must have taken someone incredibly skilled to design something like that,” Dale added.
“Yes,” Findle said, nodding emphatically. “I suppose it must.”
Lius suggested a number of ingredients that such a device would entail, deliberately getting a few wrong. Findle nodded along, then said, “Yes. Yes. Of course, I wouldn’t be of any help. I don’t sell any of those in my shop. You’d have to look elsewhere in the district to find ingredients such as those.”
“Of course,” Lius said. “Of course. But you know of them?”
“Oh, yes,” Findle said. “Certainly.”
“And that would make a very powerful anti-magic bomb?”
“Yes, incredibly powerful. Well, is there anything else I can help you with today? Were you looking for anything in particular? Or have you just come to visit little old me?”
“Oh, sometimes, it’s just nice to chat to another mage. Especially with such an interesting event.”
“Well, yes, absolutely. Well, if you will excuse me, I’m quite busy today. Things to do.”
Findle turned to leave, and Lius said, “What, like making more bombs?”

The gnome stopped abruptly and turned back to Lius, his face pale. “What? N… no! Of course not! Are you suggesting that I was somehow involved in the… Edge of the Sky restaurant falling? Absurd!”
“I’m suggesting,” Lius said, “that it would have taken someone with considerable talent. You clearly possess that.”
“Well, yes,” Findle agreed. “But I’m sure there’s any number of… of mages and shop owners who could… also have constructed such a fabulous device.”
“But you’re the only one that Shade contacted,” Reina said flatly.
“No,” Findle replied immediately. “No, I don’t know Shade. Never heard of him.”
“Come on,” Dale demanded. “Stop playing this silly game.”
“I… I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Findle insisted. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Please,” Lius said. “We’ve been framed for what you’ve done.”
“But I haven’t done anything!” Findle said desperately.

“We don’t want to get you in trouble,” Reina sighed. “We’re just trying to clear our names.”
“Oh?” Findle asked. “And how do you intend to do that?”
“We need Shade,” Lius said.
“I… see,” Findle said. “What if I don’t know where he is? You’ll have to go then. I… I have no useful information.”
“Then perhaps we’ll have to ask the watch to investigate you very closely,” Reina suggested.
Findle let out a humming sound that was part frustration and part fear. “Well, I could perhaps… possibly… look into where he is.
“And then we could perhaps, possibly not ever mention you to the watch,” Lius said genially.
“Yes,” Findle agreed. “Not say anything. If you’ll give me a while, I’ll try some divinations. Do you know where he is, roughly?”
“You may take a look at Oldkeep,” Reina said.
“Oldkeep,” Findle repeated, nodding. “I’ll see what I can do.”
“You won’t mind if we wait,” Lius said.
“No, no,” Findle replied. “Not at all. Just don’t touch anything.”
“I won’t touch anything, good sir,” Dale said, “but I would like to see how you do this. This might be quite interesting to see.”
“I’d rather you didn’t,” said Findle. “This is a very complicated and delicate procedure. I’m sure you wouldn’t be able to begin to comprehend what I’m doing.”
“Then let my friend observe,” Dale said, gesturing to Lius. “He is an avid magic user, and would like to see a master at work, I’m sure.”
Findle glanced over at Lius, then sighed, “Fine, I suppose.”

Findle and Lius disappeared into the small back room, and when the door was closed, Findle whispered to Lius, “Your friends look rather rough. They won’t steal anything, will they? It’s all warded. House Kundarak will come.”
“They won’t,” Lius said. “They won’t touch anything, I promise. We only want information.”
“Good,” Findle wheezed. “Good.”
“I’m sorry if they frightened you,” Lius said softly.
Electing not to answer, rummaging in a chest until he found a roll of parchment. He spread it onto the table, revealing it to be a map of Sharn. He laid a couple of items over Oldkeep, then muttered an incantation and sketched out a line in charcoal. He repeated this three times, until a small area of Oldkeep was outlined.
“He’s somewhere in this area,” Findle said.
Lius asked for a piece of paper and a quill, which Findle provided. The half-elf jotted down the location, and then Findle led him back out to the front of the shop.
“That’s all I can do,” the gnome said. “He’s somewhere in there.”
“That’s absolutely fantastic,” Lius replied. “You’ve been a wonderful help.”

As the party readied to leave, Reina turned to Findle, and said, “Just before we go, I don’t suppose the fixer deigned to tell you why he wanted to bring the restaurant down?”
“Goodness, no!” Findle exclaimed. “I didn’t even know that was his intention. I handed the device over and a scant few hours later, that’s what happened.”
“What did you understand the device was for?” Lius asked.
“I created it on the premise that I wasn’t to ask any questions,” Findle replied. “It was an intellectual exercise, if you will.”
“Okay,” Lius said, nodding. “Thank you for your help.”

The party hurried from the Miscellanea Magicka and headed down to Oldkeep district as fast as they could. Ina directed the party to where she thought Lius’ scrawl was pointing, and the party split up, with Dale and Reina heading in one direction and Ina and Lius in the other.
Lius eventually turned up where Shade might live, and sent Ina ahead while he fetched Reina and Dale. A short time later, the group reassembled outside a tall apartment building. As they entered, they were greeted by a stout, aged dwarf, who said, “Eh? Lookin’ for a room?”
“We’re looking for someone’s room,” Reina said. “Wondering if you could just tell us the number?”
“Maybe,” the dwarf said. “Depends if they’re behind on their rent or not.”
“Given what we know about them, I wouldn’t expect so,” Reina said. “We’re looking for Shade.”
The dwarf shrugged. “Dunno. Is there anything else?”
“Yes,” Dale said, holding out a silver piece. “I believe I have something that belongs to you.”
The dwarf regarded the coin, then smiled and said, “Maybe I’ve lost a few of them.”
“How many do you think you’ve lost?” Dale asked.
“Four or five of ‘em,” the dwarf replied.
“Oh, look,” Lius said, pulling out a handful of coins. “I found some.”
“That’s them,” the dwarf exclaimed excitedly. “I’d recognise ‘em anywhere. Third floor. Room seventeen.”
“Thank you,” Lius said, handing over the coin. “Don’t lose them again.”
“Oh, you know me,” the dwarf said jovially. “Always forgetful.”
“Maybe you should forget that we were here,” Reina suggested.
“Yeah,” the dwarf agreed. “‘Course. I don’t make note of people who do me the gesture of droppin’ me money off for me.”

The party ran up to the third floor, and found room seventeen with little trouble. Reina listened at the door, and heard a faint coughing inside. She tried the door and found it locked. With a frown, she crouched down and prepared to pick the lock, when Dale walked up to the door and knocked loudly. Reina glared at him, and when there was no answer from within, set about picking the lock.
When the door swung open, Reina crept in, seeing that the apartment was grubby and barely furnished. A hooded figure was slumped against one wall, his breathing laboured.
“Shade?” Reina asked.
The hooded figure turned, his plain face blotchy and shining with sweat. “You found me, then.”
“Yes,” Reina said. “We did.”
“Oh dear,” Shade wheezed. “Hoped you wouldn’t have caught onto me so soon.”
“You hired us for a reason,” Reina shot back.
“Yes,” Shade agreed. “And against all odds, you actually survived.”
Reina turned back to the doorway, where Lius and Ina were hovering, and mouthed the word “watch.”

Lius darted off without a word, and Reina turned back to the fixer. “So. I think you owe us an explination.”
“Indeed you do, sir,” Dale said from behind her.
Shade nodded, his entire body trembling. “What is there to explain? I set you up.”
“Why?” Reina asked.
“Because I needed someone to take the fall,” Shade replied. He let out a bark of laughter, which quickly morphed into a grimace of pain. He clutched his stomach, and a dagger glinted in his hand.
“Looks like you’re about to take the fall yourself, sir,” Dale observed.
“What’s the matter?” Shade grunted. “Never been sick before?”
“Not the way you look,” Reina said. “You don’t look much healthier than that guy we found in the safe, truth be told.”
“Yes, well,” Shade said. “He was dead. I’m alive, so I’d say I’m doing quite a bit better than him.”
Reina drew one of her daggers. “You’re alive for now.”
“Going to kill me off?” Shade asked, eyeing Reina’s weapon. “Is that really the best move?”
“No,” Reina acquiesced. “Not unless you make me. Why did you bring the restaurant down?”
“It was what I was paid to do.”
“And who paid you?” Dale asked.
The fixer let out a quiet, choked chuckle. “I’m not going to tell you. I do have standards.”
“Are those standards going to matter if you’ll be dead in the morning?” said Dale. “It doesn’t look like you’re going to recover from whatever it is you’ve got.”
“No,” Shade admitted. “But if I don’t, I’ll hang anyway.”

“And the other two times?” Reina asked. “That was you as well?”
“I think you already know it was,” Shade whispered.
“And employed by this same stranger?” Reina prompted.
“I’m not going to tell you anything about my employers.”
Reina shook her head. “You’re just another pawn.”
“A very well paid pawn.”
“It’s not going to do you any good now.”
“Unfortunately not, but it doesn’t matter. What are you going to do? Kill me?”
“No, good sir,” Dale said. “That is not how we do things.”
“Of course it isn’t,” Shade muttered.
“I hope it was worth it for you,” Reina hissed. “For whatever reason you did it.”

After some difficulty, Lius managed to rouse a small watch patrol, who followed him back down to Shade’s apartment. When they entered the room, Shade was slumped in a chair, unfocused eyes on the doorway.
“What’s going on?” one of the watchmen asked.
“This is the gentleman who engineered the falling of the Edge of the Sky,” Lius said, nodding to the fixer.
“What makes you think that?” asked the guard. Lius related their investigation, mentioning no names, and after hearing this, the watchman nodded. “Alright, we’ll take him in. You four, come with us.”
“Of course,” Reina said. “We just want to put this behind us.
The watch walked over to Shade, who looked up at them with a tired smile. “It’s a fair cop.”

The patrol picked up more watchmen as they travelled up to Daggerwatch, carrying the semi-conscious Shade on a gurney. When they reached the garrison, he was taken promptly to a cell, while the party were left waiting for almost half an hour before Captain Empattin appeared.
“Looks like we’ve got our man,” he announced. “Or, so you say. We’ll have to wait until he regains consciousness so we can actually ask him some questions. I hear that House Jorasco are on their way as we speak.”
“The two who were there heard him more or less confess,” Reina said.
“Yes, yes,” Captain Empattin said. “We’ll take their testimony into account, but you’re going to have to stay here in the meantime, until we can fully clear you of the more grievous charges.”
“I trust we won’t have to wait in a cell?” Reina asked.
“No,” the captain said. “I’m posting a guard outside the waiting room.”
“That’s good,” Lius said quietly. “I don’t like the cells.”

A couple of guards made small talk with the group, until the sergeant opened the door, and growled, “Captain wants to see you.”
They were led to the captain’s office, where they were invited to sit. The sergeant took up his customary position against the back wall.
“Well, the good news is you’re not going to be hanged,” Captain Empattin said. “I can’t completely let you off the hook. You are still guilty of trespass, but, fortunately for you, no one has reported any actual theft, most probably because the restaurant was destroyed. I’m sure this is good news for you, you’re out on a minor misdemeanour rather than being hanged for treason.”
“Thank you,” Lius whispered.
“We’ll take a fine of ten gold pieces from you,” the captain continued. “Your identity papers will be marked. Please don’t leave the city in the next thirty days. Of course, I am unfortunately authorised to give you a modest reward for your assistance in these matters, which should cover the cost of the crimes and a tiny bit extra.”
“What the hell are you doing, Nate?” the sergeant exclaimed. “You can’t reward these criminals!”
Captain Empattin glared at his sergeant. “Sergeant Portos, do I need to remind you that I am in charge here?”
“Fine,” Sergeant Portos grumbled. “I’m sure you know best. Captain.” He gestured to the party. “Come on, you shits. Get back out on the streets. You’re off the hook, for now, but I’ll be watching you all.”
“You can’t watch all of us,” Lius mumbled.
“Hint; it’s in the name,” the sergeant growled. “City watch.”
“Captain,” Dale said, standing. “It’s been a pleasure. I hope never to see you again.”

As the sergeant led them out of Captain Empattin’s office for processing, Soren d’Medani passed them, and offered Reina a sly nod. She returned the gesture, smiling.
The party left the garrison absolved of their crimes, and with five gold more than they went in with.

Session Three
Stop right there!

“Is there a problem?” Lius asked, looking from one watchman to another with an expression of innocent curiosity.
Brian lingered by the door, and looked anxiously at Lius. “That’s them two, captain! Them’s the ones!”
“The ones what?” Lius exclaimed.
The guards paid him no heed, marching forward with manacles in hand. Reina scowled back at Brian, snarling, “What’s going on?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” the captain sneered. “You’re under arrest.”
“For what crime?” Reina demanded.
The captain glared at Reina. “Don’t play stupid with me. You know exactly what you’ve done. Edge of the Sky ring any bells?” Before Reina could respond, the captain growled, “Don’t answer. Of course it does. You’re coming with us.”
“What exactly are you charging us with?” Lius asked.
“We’ll have more details of that when we get you down to the garrison,” the captain said.
“I’ll happily come with you,” Lius argued, “once I know what for.”
Ignoring Lius, the captain turned back to Brian. “Thank you for your cooperation, sir. You’ve been most helpful.”
Lius and Reina glowered back at Brian. The portly man looked down at the ground, then slipped back into the building and closed the door.
The captain quickly glanced around, then leaned towards Lius, a savage smile on his face. “Terrorism. You’re gonna swing for this.”

Ina left The Wooden Pegasus later than the rest, finally giving up on the fixer arriving shortly before twelfth bell. Her journey back to Fallen was a quick one, with most of the spectators having headed home.
When she got back to the alley where she lived, she found her box missing. Her mouth fell open, and she looked around, half distraught and half incensed.
Her small goblin friend stepped out of the crude tent he had fashioned from Ina’s lavish robe, and waddled over to her. “Ina, the watch took yer box.”
“Where?” Ina demanded.
“I dunno,” the goblin said, jabbing an accusatory finger upwards. “Up there somewhere. Daggerwatch, I s’pose.”
Ina looked up at the towers towering above Fallen, and narrowed her eyes.

Dale returned to the hostel after twelve to find the watch presence gone. He crept over to the door and opened it cautiously, peering inside. The lobby was virtually empty, save for the bored-looking man behind the counter.
Dale slipped into the door and hurried past the desk, keeping low to avoid being seen. He scurried up the stairs, as quietly as he could, and when he reached the door to his room, put one hand on the hilt of his rapier. He slowly opened the door and looked inside, to see the room stripped bare.
“Shit,” Dale hissed, lamenting the loss of his gold, his clothes and, most importantly, his recently purchased fine wine.
He stalked back down to the lobby, only to find the desk unmanned. He slapped the bell, and heard a voice from the back office yell, “Just a minute!”
The building manager stepped out, and looked most surprised when he saw Dale looking up at him. “Oh! Hello, Mr. Hornsbuckle!”
“Yes,” Dale said. “Hello, Mr. Hornsbuckle, indeed, sir! Where may I find the rest of my stuff?”
“Well,” the gentleman stammered. “Well, it’s… I think the… uh… the Daggerwatch garrison… the watch have taken it all. I… I don’t want to pry or anything, but… I think you’re in a bit of trouble. Can I have the key back, please?”
“Of course, good sir.” Dale held out the key, with a coin placed discreetly under it. “Here’s a silver for your troubles.”
“Oh,” said the building manager, taking the key and the coin. “Most kind. Most kind. I… hope it all works out for you.”

Ina reached the Daggerwatch garrison, which was half a fortress, to find the place swarming with armed guards. Frowning, she jogged nimbly towards the gate, only to be stopped halfway across the courtyard.
“Hold it!” a guard demanded, one hand falling to the sap which hung at his hip. “State your business!”
“You’ve got my box,” Ina hissed.
“That’s the one!” a voice cried from behind her. “The one the captain’s after!”
The guard in front of Ina pulled out his sap. “You’re under arrest! You’re coming with us!”
Ina glanced around and saw a dozen guards approaching her from all directions. Gritting her teeth, she held out her arms, and allowed the cold manacles to be snapped over her wrists.

Across the city, Dale headed over to The Wooden Pegasus, which was almost empty at this late hour. The barman spied Dale as he walked in, and his eyes widened. He nodded towards the corner of the room, then nodded to the door behind Dale. The halfling took his meaning, and backed towards the door.
“I’ve got to run an errand,” the barman said to the woman beside him, and walked briskly over to Dale. “Come on. The watch is here. They’re after you and your friends.”
“Okay,” Dale said.
The barman led Dale outside and down a narrow alley at the side of the bar. They reached a small garden at the back of the inn, where kegs of ale sat by the bolted back door, and stopped.
“Listen,” the barman said, looking down at Dale with concern. “The watch are in there saying you brought down that restaurant. Now, you and your friends have been in here quite a bit, and I pride myself on being a good judge of character. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t you.”
“I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me, either,” Dale said.
“Good,” the barman muttered. “If I were you, I’d skip town. Just get out of here.”
Dale seemed to chew this over for a moment, then nodded. “Good idea. Just out of interest, you don’t happen to know what happened to the others that I’ve supposedly thrown in with, do you?”
“I don’t,” the barman said, shrugging. “The watchmen seem to think they’ve picked them up, no problem. Taken them over to the Daggerwatch garrison. You know, if they get you for what they say you’ve done, it’s not gonna look good.”
“Indeed,” Dale sighed. “It won’t look good at all. Very well, good sir. Thank you very much for your assistance, and I thank you for your friendship. I will of course continue to patronise your establishment should I ever be back in this city.”

Dale walked away from The Wooden Pegasus, tossing the paper-wrapped statuette and receipts in a bin as he passed. He wound his way up from Hareth’s Folly to Daggerwatch in Sharn’s upper wards. He found the district heavily guarded, yet walked in with palpable confidence. He managed to pass a few checkpoints unmolested, but as he neared the garrison, a guard yelled out, “Dale! Dale Hornsbuckle!”
Dale turned to the guard with a smile. “Good watchman! What do you require?”
“Uh… you’re under arrest,” the guard murmured with a puzzled frown.
“I don’t believe I am, sir,” Dale retorted.
The guard looked even more confused. “No, you’re under arrest.”
“No,” Dale asserted. “I’m pretty sure I’m not.”
“Are you going to be funny about this?” the guard asked, pulling manacles from his belt.
“No,” Dale repeated, looking around to see several guards watching the exchange uneasily. “I’m being quite serious, actually.”
“You’re being charged with crimes of terrorism against the city of Sharn,” the watchman declared.
“Terrorism!?” Dale spluttered. “_Me_!?”
“Yes,” the guard said flatly. “No, I’m going to put these manacles on you, and we’re going to take you into the garrison, and you’re going to be tried, and that’ll be that. Or, you’re going to resist, and we’re going to knock you out.”
“I see,” Dale said, nodding. “Those are my only options, then?”
“The way I see it,” the guard replied.
“Okay,” Dale said. “Then I really, really hope that you work out.”

Without a second’s hesitation, Dale turned and sprinted towards the garrison.
“Does he know he’s running towards them?” one of the perplexed guards mused.
Several guards ran towards Dale, brandishing saps and pikes. “Stop right there!”
Dale ducked and slipped between the legs of one guard in front of him, snatching a whistle from his belt as he went. Dale leapt to his feet and blew the whistle loudly in the guards ear. He yelled out, clapping his hands over his ears. Dale grinned, then realised that he had just alerted every guard in the vicinity. His smile rapidly fading, he dashed off in the opposite direction.
More guards charged at him, yelling, “Hold it right there!”
Dale leaped forward, rolling between two watchmen, and continued running. One guard broke off from his patrol and tackled Dale to the ground. Another guard held him down, another yanked his arms back, and a fourth snapped manacles around his wrists.
“It seems you have caught me, sir!” Dale grunted. “Congratulations!”
The guard hauled Dale to his feet and scowled at him. “Come on. You’re coming with us.”
“Very well,” Dale said. “Lead on.”

The guards brusquely shoved Dale inside, leading him to a desk, where one announced with a mix of venom and pride, “We’ve got Dale Hornbuckle.”
“_Hornsbuckle_,” Dale insisted, before turning to a female guard and winking. “The women call me ‘Horny.’”
The woman scowled, and a guard behind Dale grabbed the chain of his manacles and pulled his arms painfully up behind his back. “You’ll shut up, if you know what’s good for you.”
“Rarely do, sir,” Dale grunted through clenched teeth.

The halfling was led hastily down a dark, narrow corridor to the cell block. Lius was in a cell on one side of the room, his hands chained together. On the other side of the room, Reina and Ina were sharing a cell.
“Move aside,” a guard snapped at Lius as his cell door was pulled open and Dale was shoved inside.
“It’s okay,” Dale whispered to Lius as the guard slammed the door shut. “I’m here to rescue you.”
“You’re doing a damn fine job,” Lius replied despondently.
“I’ve got to get to the next bit, yet,” Dale admitted. “I’m thinking.”
Lius staggered over to the door and yelled at the guard, “I’m innocent!”
Dale rolled his eyes and slumped on the bed nearby. A prisoner in a nearby cell cried out, “Hey, I’m innocent too!”
“Pipe down!” the guard shouted, striking the bars of Lius’ cell with his truncheon.
“Please!” Lius hollered, desperately trying to reach between the bars. “You have to let me out!”
“You,” the guard growled, jabbing his truncheon at Lius. “Shut it, or we’ll gag you.”
“Please do,” Dale muttered. “He’s hurting my head.”
Lius continued to wail, until the guard turned to a couple of his colleagues and snapped, “Unlock the cell.”
As two other guards approached the cell, Lius staggered backwards, his mouth snapping shut. One guard unlocked the door, and it was thrown open. The guard with the truncheon grabbed Lius roughly, and the others tied a gag around his mouth. The first guard then pushed him over, and the three of them walked out, locking the door behind them.

The hours dragged by, agonisingly slow. Dale and Ina napped, while Reina sat mournfully without speaking or moving.
After an unknowable amount of time, a group of watchmen led by a tall, stocky, bearded man approached the cells. The leader looked coldly at Dale and Lius, then turned to regard Ina and Reina.
“Wake up, you shits!” he roared suddenly, slamming his truncheon against the bars of the cells. “Captain wants to see you! Come on, get up!”
Dale stirred, rubbing the back of his head and frowning. “What time is it?”
“It’s time for you to see the captain,” the man snapped.
“Ah, excellent!” Dale said, leaping spryly to his feet. Ina had not stirred, so Reina shook her and helped her up.

The four were led to a sparsely decorated office, with a table in the centre of the room. On one side were four empty chairs, on the other a middle-aged man with sandy hair and a weary look. He was studying a sheath of papers as the door opened, and looked up with a nod.
“Thank you sergeant,” he said to the big man. “You can take that gag out.”
One of the watchmen removed Lius’ gag, and he sucked in a deep breath. “Thank you!”
Most of the watchmen filed out, but the sergeant and two others remained. The captain invited the quartet to sit down, and observed them silently for a moment.
“As I hope you have all been informed,” he said finally, “you’re being charged with massive destruction of property, terrorism and a whole host of other things that will basically see you dead.”
“I don’t understand,” Ina said in a tone of complete sincerity. “What?”
The captain looked at her incredulously. “Well, you know the Edge of the Sky restaurant? It fell down, and they’re blaming you. Okay?”
“Who’s they?” Reina asked pointedly.
“Us,” the captain replied.
“Why are you blaming us?” Dale enquired.
“I mean, not us, the city watch,” the captain replied. “The city. You know?”
“Why is the city blaming us,” Dale continued, “when we had nothing to do with it?”

“Well, see, we’ve had a tip off,” the captain said, “that you did, and we have found quite a bit of evidence to say that you did, so I’d just like to get your side of the story and find out just what the hell is going on here.”
“Well,” Dale retorted, “so would I. Because wrongful arrest is a bad thing. This is because I’m a halfling, isn’t it? You’re always coming after us shorties.”
The captain did not look amused. “I’ll have you know my superior officer is a halfling.”
“What evidence?” Reina demanded.
The captain looked through his papers, and then looked at Lius. “Well, for a start, we found most of the components for the magical device that brought down the restaurant in your room.” He turned to Dale. “We found several plans in your lodgings.” He looked over at Ina. “We didn’t exactly find anything in your box, but we have several witnesses placing you at the scene of the crime.” He turned to Reina. “You as well, ma’am. So. Do you have anything to say in your defence?”
“You’ve been had the same way we have, sir” Dale said instantly.
“And if I had a copper for every time I’ve heard that, I’d be living up in Skyway myself,” the captain replied irascibly, “so please do explain.”

There was a long moment of silence as the four pondered this. The sergeant at the back smirked. “This is a waste of time, captain. Let’s just book ‘em and see ‘em hang.”
“That’s how justice is done here, is it?” Reina hissed, glaring back at the sergeant.
“No, it’s not,” the captain said impatiently, shooting a look at the big man. “So. Anything to say?”
“We’re innocent,” Reina replied.
“Anything that will actually prove that?” the captain asked.
“What components were found?” Lius piped up.
The captain glanced at his paperwork. “I’ve got a list here. Frankly, I don’t know what half of this stuff does, but I’m assured that if you put it together in the right way, it will create a massive anti-magic bomb, which is what brought down the Skyway as you’re supposed to know.”
“Can I look at that?” Lius asked, nodding to the papers. The captain shrugged and handed them over. Lius looked down the inventory and snorted under his breath. “I would not know the first thing about putting all this stuff together. You know where I live. You’ve presumably been told exactly what was in our apartment. You’ve seen the way I’m dressed. I could not afford all this.”
“Yes,” the captain said, nodding. “I also know that you’re Lius d’Lyrandar. Your father’s fairly well-to-do. I’m sure there’s money available.”
Lius looked a little shell-shocked at this, but muttered, “You must never have met my father.”
“Can’t say I’ve had the pleasure,” the captain said.
“It wouldn’t be a pleasure,” Lius sighed.

“What about these plans you supposedly found in my room?” Dale demanded.
The captain shrugged. “Not exactly the master plan, but basically outlining how you were going to get up to Skyway, plant this device and drop the restaurant.”
“I take it you have the full report of exactly how I came to be in this place,” Dale said.
“Yes,” the captain replied unsurely.
“Does that sound like the kind of man who could create plans like that?”
The captain considered this. “Unless you were fiendishly clever and it was all a ruse to throw us off.”
Lius chuckled under his breath. Dale glanced at Lius, and said, “I think my friend here can vouch for the fact that I’m not that fiendishly clever, sir.”

“Why don’t we go through the supposed events of the night?” the captain suggested. “Where were you on the night of the twelfth of Olarune?”
“I was up in Skyway,” Reina acknowledged.
“As was I,” Dale added.
“I see,” the captain said, turning to Lius and Ina. “And you two?”
“Yes,” Lius sighed.
“I was there,” Ina said.
The captain nodded. “And I suppose you were doing something other than committing acts of terrorism?"
“Absolutely,” Reina insisted.
“Doesn’t everyone normally?” Dale asked.
“Which would be…” the captain prompted. “Come on, help me here.”
“We’d recently come into a little gold,” Reina said, “and wanted to see how the other side looked.”
“We went for a meal,” Lius said.
The captain nodded, scribbling on a paper. “And this money you came into? Where did it come from?”

The question was met with a deathly silence. Reina opened her mouth to speak, but quickly closed it again. Finally, she said, “A friend.”
The captain frowned. “That doesn’t sound entirely legitimate to me.”
“Why’s that?” Reina asked tautly.
“A… a friend?” the captain asked sceptically.
“A friend,” Reina repeated.
“And that’s the best you can come up with?”
“It’s the truth.”
The captain nodded. “Okay. So. A friend… who doesn’t have a name… gave you all a substantial amount of money and you decided to go to Skyway on the exact same day that this restaurant fell. And how exactly did these items come to be in your possession, the magical components and the plans? And how exactly do you all know each other?”
“I’m afraid I don’t know how those components got into my room,” Lius said. “But they are not mine.”
“Mine is obviously a public area,” Dale said. “Anyone could get in there. I’m sure there’s more than one key to my room.”
“Why your room in particular?” the captain asked.
“Darned if I know,” Dale said. “Perhaps they already knew I was going to Skyway. I did plan to do so. I didn’t make any secret about it at all.”

“Come on, captain,” the sergeant said from the back of the room. “They’re clearly guilty.”
“What possible reason would we have to destroy a restaurant in Skyway?” Reina exclaimed. “I’d never even been up there until that night.”
“Exactly,” the captain said. “What possible reason would you have?”
“Your guess is honestly as good as mine,” Reina sighed.
“Because that’s the part I’m failing to get here,” the captain said. “The motive.”
“There was no motive,” Lius asserted, “because we didn’t do it.”
“Surely therein lies the further investigation,” Dale proposed. “If we have no motive, who would do?”

The captain nodded at the sergeant, and with a grimace, he walked out of the office along with the other two watchmen. When the door closed, the captain looked earnestly at the four in front of him, and said, “Look, this reeks of something wrong to me. I need you to be brutally honest with me here, or I can’t help you and, Sovereigns help me, you will hang.”
“Okay,” Lius said, an edge of panic in his voice. “We took a job.”
“Now we’re getting somewhere,” the captain said, leaning forward.
“I swear to the Sovereigns it was just theft,” Lius continued. “It was never going to be anything more than that. It went wrong! I saw all of them fall!”
He fell silent, and put his head in his hands. The captain nodded. “So, what were you supposed to be stealing?”
“A recipe,” Lius whispered shakily. “Some receipts. A statuette.”
“I find it kind of hard to believe that you were all in the restaurant, but carry on,” the captain said. Reina lifted her top to reveal angry purple bruises up and down her side. “Alright. You got into the restaurant. Then what happened?”
“It fell,” Ina said simply.

“Anything else?” asked the captain. “Anything suspicious?”
“There was a man in the safe,” Reina sighed.
The captain looked somewhat taken aback. “What kind of man?”
“He looked very ill,” Reina said.
“Did he look dead, by any chance?” the captain asked.
“I would say so,” Dale interjected, “given that I ran him through, sir.”
The captain looked down, running a hand through his short, sandy hair. “Okay. And who exactly gave you this job?”
“A man,” Reina replied. “We’d never seen him before. Or since.”
“Apparently, he’s known as ‘the fixer,’” Dale said.
“We were assured he was good for the money,” added Lius.
“I’m sure he is,” the captain said noncommittally. “Okay, we’re going to take you back to the cells now. The way I figure it, we’ve got two, three days before the magistrates start to get involved, the pressure comes from higher up, and there’s nothing else I can do for you. But I’ll have some words with people.”

The captain stood up and knocked his truncheon on the desk a couple of times. The sergeant walked in and gave the captain a questioning look.
“Take these back to their cells,” the captain instructed. “I think I’ve got all the information I need for now.”
“Captain,” Dale said quickly. “Before we go, if you ever happen to need any assistance, then you know where you will find us.”
“Hanging,” the captain said without amusement, “most likely. Thank you.”
“Come on,” the sergeant grunted. “Back to your cells, you lot.”

As the four were ushered out, the sergeant snarled, “Sure, the captain’s soft on you. But any funny business and I will break your kneecaps.”
The group were led to their cells, where Ina went straight back to sleep. Lius sat, looking petrified.
“I’m sorry,” he whimpered. “It wasn’t getting us anywhere, lying.”
“It’s not going to get us anywhere telling the truth, either,” Dale sighed.
“It might stop us from hanging,” Lius said. “They don’t hang for theft.”
After a while, Reina needed to go to the toilet. She pushed the pail provided as far into the corner of the cell as she could, and squatted, looking down, mortified. Lius tried to talk to her, but she sharply told him to shut up. After she was done, she sat on her bed, put her head in her hands and cried quietly.

A couple of hours crawled by, until the captain and the sergeant walked over, flanked by a number of guards. The sergeant unlocked the cells, a dark look on his ugly face, and the captain stepped forward.
“Yes,” the captain muttered. “Terribly sorry, but it seems there’s been some kind of mistake, and we’re going to have to let you go. If you just come with me, we will process your paperwork.”
The party exchanged looks of concern and disbelief, but stepped out of their cells and followed the watchmen nonetheless.
“I thank you for coming to your senses,” Dale said as they were marched down the corridor to a small side room. The captain stepped in and ushered for the four to follow, while the sergeant and the rest of the guards waited outside.

“Look,” the captain sighed when they were alone. “I’m taking a massive gamble on you four. But this is the third case we’ve had like this. Two I could put up to coincidence, but this is too much. And the last two didn’t involve part of the Skyway coming down on the city.” When no one said anything, the captain elaborated. “In the last month or so, we’ve had two cases where someone’s taken a supposedly minor job, broken into a place to find someone’s there. They’re dead, but they’re still walking around, if you catch my drift. And then we receive an anonymous tip as to what’s going on. It all seems very cut and dry. We arrest them, we charge them, in one unfortunate case, we hanged them. But there’s a very clear pattern here, and if it’s going to keep escalating like this, we need to stop it. I’m sure you four want to clear your names before you all die, so… I need you to find out what the hell is going on here.”
“Believe it or not,” Dale said, “our goals coincide. I’d very much to catch up to whoever is responsible for this outrage.”

“If you want our help, we may need a little more information about these other jobs,” said Reina.
“I don’t have much detail,” the captain confessed. “It’s mostly through word of mouth from other districts. One job involved someone breaking in and stealing some paperwork. They found the owner was already there. He bashed one guy in the head, he went down, and all of a sudden the watch arrived. Nice timing, or so we thought, until they tried to move the body and it started moving back. This guy swears that when he got there, the guy was already dead, and he attacked him, and he was just defending himself.
“Likewise, another case of minor larceny, they broke in somewhere to find someone already dead, still walking around as a corpse. Again, the watch arrived to catch them in the act. Now this one. There’s definitely a link, only this one ended up with the restaurant falling.”
“Well, at least no one was killed,” Reina said.
“Not entirely true,” the captain said. “There is the unfortunate fellow who you encountered.”
“Just hard for me to believe he was dead,” Reina said. “He certainly was lively for a dead guy.”
“Exactly,” the captain replied. “So, maybe if you find out who’s able to make these bodies start walking around… And if it wasn’t you who planted that bomb, find out who did. If you can track down this ‘fixer,’ all the better. Because if he wasn’t behind it, I’m sure I know who was. If he’s not another helpless rube like you.
“You’ve got two days, maybe three at the most, before people start asking questions as to why we haven’t apprehended the subjects. Then there’s nothing I can do to stop them coming after you.”

They followed the captain out of the room, where he nodded to the sergeant and said, “Sergeant, if you’ll be so kind.”
“Oh yes,” the sergeant spat through gritted teeth. “Absolutely.”
He led them to a cupboard full of confiscated goods. A watchman brought out the things that the guards had taken when the four were arrested, but for Dale’s wine, Ina’s box and all the gold they had on them.
“My wine,” Dale moaned.
“Count yourself lucky,” the sergeant snarled. “You’ve got two days grace. If you leave the city, you’re liable to get nicked. I’m sure the captains there won’t be so forgiving. So don’t even think about it.”
“That wasn’t the plan,” Lius assured the sergeant.
“No,” Reina agreed. “We’ll just do your job for you.”
The sergeant shot a death glare at Reina, his jaw set. “Fuck off.”

The group hurried away from the garrison and out of the Daggerwatch district. Dale checked the bin he had dumped the statuette in en route, to find it had been taken.
“I guess we should go home,” Reina said quietly, shivering against the early morning chill.
“Do you think that’s wise?” Dale asked. “Given that we’ve only got two days until…” He made a strangled noise, and mimed a rope being pulled taut about his neck.
“Please don’t make that gesture,” Lius snapped. “That’s not going to happen.”
“I haven’t slept in nearly twenty-four hours,” Reina complained.
“You go home,” Lius said. “That’s fine.”
“Just a couple of hours,” Reina mumbled.
“Fine,” Lius said, before turning to the tall shifter. “Ina, if you need a place, you can stay with us.”
“Can I?” Dale asked. “I’m kind of poor at the moment.”
Reina and Lius exchanged a weary glance, before Lius said, “Sure. It’ll be easier with all of us together, anyway.”

Reina and Ina headed back to the apartment in Broken Arch, to find the door closed and locked. Reina impatiently rapped on the door with her fist, and after a long moment, a slot in the door opened and she saw Brian peering through.
“Oh!” he gasped upon seeing Reina. “Hello! Uh… you… you got arrested.”
“Yes,” Reina replied pointedly. “Thank you for that.”
“Um… the… the watch,” Brian stammered. “They… they came, and they said they’d be arresting you, so… aaah… I had to help ‘em!”
“Well, it’s all resolved now,” Reina said.
“Oh,” Brian exclaimed. “Good! Um… okay. I might have been a bit hasty… Most of your stuff is… is out in the bins… around the back.”
Reina glared at the landlord. “I’m going to go and look, and when I come back, the door will be open. Won’t it?”
“Uuuhh…” Brian seemed to consider this carefully. “Yeah?”
Reina gathered an armful of clothes, books, and other personal effects which had been carelessly discarded, and stalked back round to the front of the building. The door was unlocked, and Brian nowhere to be seen.
She led Ina up to the apartment, which was half bare and a complete mess. Reina tiredly pointed the shifter in the direction of Lius’ room, before stiffly staggering to her own bed and promptly collapsing.

“So,” Dale said cheerfully. “What’s the plan, Prince Lyrandar?”
“Don’t call me that,” Lius grumbled.
The pair went to Hareth’s folly, and into The Wooden Pegasus almost on instinct. The barman grinned as they entered, and said, “Ah, I see you managed to avoid the watch, then!”
“Yes,” Dale announced. “As always, good sir. Gives an edge to my tales, does it not?”
The barman nodded tentatively. “That’s good, but… you know, we do have several watch members who frequent the bar, so you might want to make yourself scarce when they show up.”
“I’ll consider it,” Dale said. “Thank you, sir.”
Lius went and sat in a corner, and Dale bought two pints of ale, only to find the half-elf slumped against the wall, chin against his chest and eyes closed. Smiling, Dale returned to the bar, drinking through both tankards as he exchanged small talk with the barman.

After a couple of hours, Dale nudged Lius awake. The half-elf looked around groggily, and murmured, “Where am I?”
Dale yanked an imaginary rope around his neck and uttered a choked moan. Then, he laughed. “Come on, if you don’t want that to happen.”
“Some of us can’t sleep in places like that,” Lius grumbled, getting slowly to his feet.
“You were doing rather well here,” Dale pointed out.
“This is cleaner,” Lius said. “Marginally.”

Lius led Dale to the Bazaar, where the halfling stole an apple for breakfast. Lius shook his head and pressed on until the pair reached Viv’s bookshop.
“Ah, Lius!” the gnome said happily as the door opened. “So good to see you. I was worried you’d dropped off the edge of the map. So to speak.”
“Not quite,” Lius said with a small half smile. “This is Dale. Dale, this is Vivien.”
“Charmed to meet you, milady,” Dale said, bowing.
Viv hopped off her stool and walked over, smiling. “It’s a pleasure. What can I do for you?”
“Do you know how to get in touch with the fixer?” Lius asked bluntly. “Or do you know anyone who’s had previous contact with him? Or anything?”
Viv considered Lius’ question carefully. “I don’t know of anyone first-hand. I’ve heard people talking about him.”
“But no one sounds as though they know him?” Lius asked dejectedly.
“No,” Viv replied. “In fact, it doesn’t sound like anyone knows him.”
“That doesn’t surprise me,” Lius muttered.
“He’ll turn up for a job,” Viv continued, “he’ll pay you, and then he’ll be gone. I take it your job with him didn’t go as planned?”
“No,” Lius said. “Not quite.”
“I’m surprised,” said Viv. “He’s got a reputation for being reliable.”
“Then perhaps he’s just as much of a victim as we were,” Dale suggested.

“A victim?” Viv asked, turning her gaze on Dale. “How so?”
“Basically,” Lius sighed, “if the watch come round, you haven’t heard of me. Or Reina.”
“Never,” Viv agreed. “In fact, if the watch come round, I haven’t heard of a great many people.”
“Good,” Dale said, before leaning over to Lius and whispering, “I like her.”
“Do you know anyone who deals in necromancy?” Lius queried.
Viv raised her eyebrows. “Necromancy? Now that’s not a particularly mainstream pursuit.”
“It’s not a personal thing,” Lius said defensively.
“Well, Karrnath’s the obvious one,” Viv said, “but since the war ended, they’re supposed to have… decommissioned all of the undead? I’m not quite sure that’s the word.”
“I suppose laid to rest,” Dale suggested with a laugh.
Viv laughed along with him. “Especially not in Sharn. A few people have said there’s a few undead wandering around in the Necropolis.”
“Out of interest,” Dale said, “is that the only place a person can get dead bodies? Besides the lower wards?”
“For bodies that have been properly interred, yes,” Viv answered. “The most recent dead are either cremated, or dumped if you don’t have the money. If you want a fresh body, the lower wards are always a good bet. Oh, that reminds me, I’ve heard a few rumours about House Tarkanen operating down there.”
Lius sucked in a sharp breath. When Dale looked at him questioningly, he whispered, “Not good.”
“No,” Viv agreed. “But they might have a line into the undead.”
“Which is House Tarkanen?” Dale asked.
“The bad one,” Lius replied.

“Possibly one of the adventurer’s guilds might now a bit more,” Viv continued.
“About dead bodies?” Dale said, puzzled.
“About undead,” Viv replied. ”They’re always delving down into ancient tombs and poking their noses into other people’s business.”
“Can’t trust an adventurer,” Dale agreed, though his statement did not ring entirely true.
“Bunch of fools if you ask me,” Viv said.
“Do you have any books relating to necromancy about?” Lius inquired.
Viv smiled. “I have a few old tomes. Magic section, under ‘N’.”
Lius thanked her and walked over to the back of the bookshop to search for the books. Dale followed, and Lius asked a few questions about the man in the safe. In a book called Libris Mortis, Lius found numerous descriptions of undead creatures, but found it hard to narrow the nature of the being down.

Lius decided that a logical next step would be to visit Morgrave University, though Dale insisted that the adventurer’s guild would be preferable. “Books are boring,” he said.
“How about you go to the guild,” Lius suggested. “You can swap tales, and pick us up some information.”
“By information, do you mean…?” Dale cupped his hands in front of his chest and made a suggestive face.
Lius looked confused for a moment, then vehemently shook his head. “No. I don’t mean that. No.”
“Oh,” Dale said disappointedly. “You mean the other kind of information.”
“I’ve got enough of that at the apartment,” Lius sighed.
“You don’t say,” Dale said, leaning forward. “You’ll have to tell me about it sometime.”

In the end, Dale elected to follow Lius, admitting that he would have no idea what to ask if he went to the adventurer’s guild alone. Lius led Dale up to the Upper Menthis Plateau, and into the university district.
As they entered the grounds of Morgrave University, Lius stopped a handsome young man with an armful of books, and said, “Excuse me, which way to the library?”
“Um…” he nodded. “That way.”
“Can I give you a hand with your books?” Lius offered.
“No, no,” the man replied hastily. “That’s fine, thank you.”
He scurried off, and Lius walked briskly over to the library, which was housed in a huge, ornate building. Within, there were numerous statues of Aureon, the god of knowledge, and enormous shelves filled with books innumerable.
Dale whistled. “That’s a lot of books.”

Lius threaded nimbly through the crowds of students, and was about to head into the library proper when a gnome stopped him.
“Hello,” he said cheerfully. “Are you looking to browse the library today?”
“Yes,” Lius answered. “Please.”
“I don’t believe you’re a member of the faculty,” the gnome said, “are you? Or a student?”
“Um… I’m not,” Lius confessed, looking down. “No.”
“No,” the gnome repeated. “I’m afraid there’ll be a gold piece charge if you wish to conduct research in the library today.”
Having lost all his gold to the city watch, Lius grimaced, and said, “I don’t have any coin on me.”
“Terribly sorry,” the gnome said, still smiling. “We do require a nominal fee to help with upkeep and maintenance. We can’t let all of Sharn in here, can we, now?”
“Of course,” Lius replied politely.
“Getting their grubby fingers all over the books,” the librarian continued. His tone had grown slightly strained, but he laughed when he said it nonetheless. “I’m not talking about you, of course, but some people would take advantage… look at the books with smutty pictures…”

Dale suddenly appeared by Lius’ side, and said, “I can understand. You’re a good judge of character, sir. A good judge of character. You see, my fellow here is unlikely to be doing that sort of thing.”
“I’m sure not,” the gnome said hastily.
“No, quite so,” Dale agreed. “He’s trustworthy, isn’t he?”
The gnome looked from Dale to Lius, uncomfortably. “Yes, I’m sure he is, but… you know, rules are rules.”
“I can certainly understand that,” Dale said amicably.
“I’ll tell you what,” the librarian said, tugging at his collar. “I’ll let you both in for a gold piece.”
“How about, then,” Dale countered, “five silver pieces, and you just let him in. To be honest, I’m one of those people who will look at the dirty pictures.”
“I… I suppose that makes sense,” the gnome whimpered.
“Excellent,” Dale grinned, handing over the coin.
Lius thanked Dale quietly and slipped into the crowded library. He found several books relating to raising and binding the undead, and spent several hours poring through them, while Dale flirted with any attractive female student who happened to pass by.

In Broken Arch, Ina was the first to rise, eating some stale nuts for breakfast. Reina walked stiffly into the kitchen, rubbing the back of her neck tiredly.
“I suppose we better find those men,” she mumbled, picking up a stick of dried meat and tearing into it.
“Yeah,” Ina agreed noncommittally.
The pair headed to Viv’s shop, and Reina asked if Lius had been along that day.
“He was in here,” said Viv. “He was looking at books on undead. I hear you all had a rough time a couple of nights ago.”
“It wasn’t great,” Reina said. “Did he say where he was going?”
“He said he was heading off to speak to one of the adventurer’s guilds,” Viv replied. “He didn’t say which one, I’m afraid.”
Reina thanked her, and with Ina, headed up to the Clifftop district. The streets were lined with elaborate shops with ridiculous names, and packed with people of many races, a number of them armed and armoured.

Between them, Reina and Ina located a building which proclaimed itself the “Clifftop Adventurer’s Guild.” Inside, the building was half tavern and half garrison, adorned with trophies and boards of jobs.
Reina approached the bar, where the hulking, scarred and one-eyed barman nodded to her. “Hello there. Welcome to the Clifftop Adventurer’s Guild.”
“Thank you,” Reina said uncertainly.
“How can we help you today?” asked the barman.
“Have you seen a wee half-elf?” Reina asked, gesturing. “About yay high, scrawny. Hair like this?”
The barman scratched his stubbly chin, and said, “Wouldn’t happen to be a sorcerer, would he?”
“Why, yes, actually,” Reina said, both surprised and pleased at the barman’s answer.
“I think him and his party are just around the corner, there,” the barman said.

Reina and Ina headed around the corner of the bar to see four individuals sitting around a table – a hulking, long-haired human, a bearded human cleric, a halfling with several daggers on his person and a skinny half-elf with wild brown hair.
“Hey, guys,” Reina said, walking over.
“Go away,” the burly man growled.
“Shut up, Kornan!” the halfling hissed. “She might have some work for us.”
“Yeah,” Kornan said, nodding at the halfling before turning to Reina. “Do you have work for us?”
“No,” said the half-elf, stroking his pointed beard. “I sense this person may have questions for us.”
“Questions is right,” Reina said, offering the half-elf a perplexed little smile.
“I know many things,” the half-elf boasted.
“Okay,” Reina said. “Do you know about raising dead bodies? From the dead?”
“No,” Kornan said with an arrogant smirk. “I know about putting them in the ground.”
“I’m afraid that’s not my area of specialty,” the half-elf admitted.
“What about anti-magic bombs?” Reina queried.
The half-elf shot Reina a questioning look. “That’s a very dangerous line of inquiry to be pursuing. Especially in light of recent events.”
“It’s exactly in light of recent events that I’m asking, actually,” said Reina.
“Then I’m afraid that we know nothing,” the half-elf said.
“What if it wasn’t in relation to the unfortunate events of two nights ago?” Reina asked.
“Then I’m afraid that we know just the same,” the half-elf stressed.

“What was this about undead again?” the cleric asked suddenly.
Reina turned to the bearded man. “Just that I have reason to believe that someone may be practicing… necroticism. Necronomy?”
“I’ve heard of such a thing,” he said, smiling, “in the Necropolis of this city. One of my associates there, Gaia Sotharr, has been fighting a long, hard battle against the dead that rise from that place. You may speak to her. She may have more information for you.”
“Thank you,” Reina said gratefully. “Where’s the Necropolis?”
The halfling unrolled a map across the table and pointed. “It’s up there.”
Reina smiled. “Thank you, again. And keep striving. I’m sure you’ll put many bodies in the ground.”
“Yeah!” Kornan exclaimed, grinning. “That sounds good to me!”

Reina and Ina left the Adventurer’s Guild, and Reina stopped, scowling. “Fuck. I’m still no closer to finding Lius.”
Nonetheless, the pair headed up to the Necropolis, a vast cemetery on a mesa high in the city. A funeral procession was passing as they walked through the maze of tombstones and crypts. Reina spotted what appeared to be a well-maintained temple, and headed towards it.
Inside, several people were praying. As Reina and Ina looked around, a tall, tanned woman approached.
“You look lost, travellers,” she said, her voice soft and convivial. “Can I help you?”
“Yes,” Reina whispered. “We’re looking for someone.”
“Is it someone interred here?” the woman asked.
“I hope not,” Reina said. “I was told to come here and look for Gaia Sotharr.”
The woman smiled. “And you have found her. May I help you at all?”

Gaia looked at Reina expectantly, and after a moment, Reina introduced herself and Ina. “We were directed here by a gentleman in the Clifftop district. The Adventurer’s Guild.”
“Ah, yes,” Gaia said. “I know that a great many of our brethren take up the path of the adventurer. All the better to bring the fight to the evil that lurks within the city. But how may I be of service?”
“Well,” Reina sighed. “It’s a different kind of evil I want to ask you about. He said you might know something about nec… necro… bringing dead people back to life.”
Gaia looked suddenly suspicious. “In… what way? As in returning life to the deceased? Or animating the bodies of the dead?”
“That second one,” Reina said.
“I know a lot about putting a stop to it,” Gaia said, “if that’s what you mean.”
“Well, we’re also against it,” Reina said hastily. “But we need information on who might be practicing it.”
Gaia narrowed her eyes. “It’s that lich, Gath.”
“Who is this lich?” Reina asked.
“He resides up in Halden’s Tomb in the Necropolis,” Gaia said. “He’s been the bane of this hallowed place ever since I took up my duties in this temple. I’ve fought constantly against him, but as you can imagine, there’s a never-ending supply of bodies for him to send against us.”
“So it would seem,” Reina said. “These bodies? Are they pasty? Fresh? Do they moan?”
“Bones, mostly,” Gaia said. “Most of the inhabitants here have been long buried.”
“But if he were to find someone recently deceased,” Reina pressed, “would he be able to perform the same magic?”
Gaia nodded. “I’m certain of it. But he never leaves the Necropolis. I make sure of that.”

“What have you done to stop him?” Reina asked.
“I pray,” Gaia replied. “I maintain the wards. The light of the Flame protects and guides me.”
Reina did her best to stifle her exasperation. “And if someone were to take affirmative action. Would you be opposed to that?”
“Absolutely not,” Gaia said. “But I’d warn them against it.”
“Why’s that?” Reina asked.
“Because he’s a cunning and powerful foe,” Gaia expounded. “Only the strongest of warriors will stand a chance of defeating him. Why are you enquiring of this?”
“We’ve been tasked to find who’s doing this,” Reina said. “Hopefully put a stop to it.”
Gaia looked surprised. “There are undead within the city?”
“Some, at least,” Reina replied.
“I’ll send word to my associates in the temple,” Gaia said. “We’ll see that this evil is rooted out.”
“Good,” Reins muttered. “Let’s hope so.”

Meanwhile, at Morgrave University, Dale had grown tired of waiting, and asked the gnome librarian to fetch his companion. The librarian eagerly obliged, marching over to where Lius had secreted himself, finding the half-elf surrounded by stacks of books.
“Excuse me, sir,” the gnome said. “Your associate would like your attention outside.”
“But… I’m…” Lius protested. “He can wait a little longer.
“I’m sorry,” the librarian said. “I really must insist. You did only pay half the cost of entry. I could get in trouble.”
“I don’t want anyone in trouble,” Lius acquiesced, getting to his feet.
“Thank you,” the gnome said, clearly relieved. “Thank you.”

The pair elected next to head down to the lower wards. The bridge that had been destroyed in the Edge of the Sky’s fall meant that the journey took them almost forty minutes. As they descended, they asked around about House Tarkanen, finding a few people who had heard of them, but little in the way of concrete information. One person suggested that they may be found in the Fallen district.
“I wouldn’t go looking for ‘em, if I were you,” he warned. “Hear they can do terrible things. Can kill you with a touch.”
Dale and an increasingly frightened Lius wound their way down to Fallen, and found themselves wandering over to the wreck of the restaurant. The streets were crawling with dirty, dishevelled, strange-looking people, some wandering and muttering to themselves, others slumped on the ground, barely moving.
“If you’re looking for a mad bomber,” Dale observed, “he’d fit right in here.

As they approached the Edge of the Sky, they noticed a couple of figures picking over the ruins, and Lius noticed that it was Reina and Ina.

“Hi!” he called. Reina’s head snapped round, and when she saw who it was, she clambered down and walked over.
“So,” she said, brushing her hands on her trousers. “What have you found?”
Lius spoke at length about his research, suggesting that the man in the safe was most likely a zombie, and that total bodily dismemberment was the preferred method of dealing with such a creature.
When he was done, Reina said slowly, “Lius? What’s a lich?”
Lius shrugged. “I saw it in a book, but… I don’t think that’s our guy. They kidnap princesses. I think. They’re definitely some kind of undead.”
“Apparently,” Reina said, “there’s one raising the dead up in the Necropolis.”
Lius thought for a moment, before saying that it was unlikely that the lich was responsible. He went on to relay what Viv had said about House Tarkanen. “We should probably look for them. But… be careful about it. They’re horrible.”

Ina knew of House Tarkanen, having heard stories of them accosting the residents of Fallen and stealing food and what little coin they could. She led to an even darker, grubbier and generally more unpleasant part of the district. Eventually, they found a crumbling building daubed with a jagged red mark.
“This is the place,” Ina said.
“Are you sure?” Lius whimpered.
“This is it,” Ina said, peering into the darkened doorway.
Cautiously, the party headed inside. The daylight quickly disappeared behind them, and Dale lit his torch. As the lambent light filled the narrow corridor, a couple of rats scurried into the shadows, and Lius let out a high-pitched gasp of fright. Reina took his hand and squeezed it comfortingly.

The floor was thick with dust, which had been disturbed by many footsteps. Reina led the way, creeping along almost silently. As they moved further into the ruined building, they heard voices talking and laughing, and further still, saw the flickering light of a fire.
Dale extinguished his torch, and the group continued in darkness for a while. Finally, they reached a corner, and it was obvious from the sound and the light that there were people beyond. Reina pressed herself against the wall, and suddenly, someone kicked a stone in the darkness.
Reina hissed for silence, but a voice from behind the wall said, “Hey, I think I heard something!”
The murmuring stopped, and another voice said, “Best go investigate.”
“Check it out, then!” a third voice said mockingly.
Reina heard someone approach, and sank back into the shadows. A hunched figure stepped around the corner, and in the light of the fire, Reina could see scars criss-crossing their face. They looked around, then grunted, “I don’t see anyone.”
“Probably rats,” someone called. The figure turned and trudged back into the room beyond.

When the conversation resumed, Reina peeked around the corner into an open chamber where several figures were standing around a blazing fire. The conversation was more muted than it had been, but Reina heard that they were talking about the fallen restaurant, and the loot they had made off with, including an everbright lantern and some fancy carpet.
“You didn’t get anythin’ good,” the largest figure snarled. “You’ll have to be quicker next time.”
“There’s someone there!” another of the figures suddenly exclaimed. “I can see them! Peeking their head around the corner! I can see you!”
The people around the fire all turned to look at the opening where Reina was hiding, and the big man growled, “What do ya want?”
Reina stepped out into the opening, and said, “Information. If you’ve got it.”
“About what?” the big man snapped.
“About raising bodies from the dead,” Reina replied.
“What’s it worth?” the apparent leader of the gang asked. “What ya got? Huh?”
“What do you want?” Reina asked.
“Want money,” came the answer. “Information ain’t free. What ya got?”

Lius stepped out next to Reina, and timidly said, “I have a signet ring. It’s worth a bit.”
“Have a look at it,” the big man snapped at a portly ginger dwarf standing near him. “What’s it worth?”
The big-nosed dwarf waddled over, and Lius held out his hand. The dwarf shook his head. “Hand it over. Need to have a good look at it.”
“No,” Reina said. “We’re not that stupid.”
“Here, Pip,” the dwarf chuckled throatily, turning back to the big man by the fire. “They think they’re smart.”
“Prove to us you have the information we want,” Lius said, “and you can have it.”
“How do we do that then?” Pip asked. “Eh? Not so smart now, are we?”
Reluctantly, Lius handed the ring to the dwarf, who snatched it greedily and hurried back over to the fire. He turned the ring in the firelight, and grinned. “Looks like we’ve got some real gold in here.”
“So,” Pip said, flashing a toothy smile. “We got ‘em smart and rich. What else you got?”
“Sorry,” Lius said. “That’s it.”
“For now,” Reina added. “You give us something useful, maybe we’ll give you something useful.”

The dwarf tossed the signet ring to Pip, who slipped it onto his pinkie. “Or, how about we don’t tell you anythin’ and you get out.”
“No,” Reina said. “I don’t think we’ll be doing that.”
“And you two are gonna take us all on?” Pip sneered.
“No,” Lius said quickly. “But you tell us what we want to know, and I can get you more gold.”
“Yeah?” Pip grunted. “And where ya gettin’ that from? Hm?”
“Well,” Rena said, “you weren’t the first people to be in that restaurant.”
“You sayin’ you were?” Pip asked.
“Pretty much,” Reina replied. “The last people to be in it before it fell.”
“How come I ain’t ‘eard of ya?” Pip demanded.
“We don’t make it our business to be known for things like that,” said Lius.
“Say I don’t believe ya,” Pip said. “Say I like the look of ya clothes an’ want them.”
“Good look getting them,” Reina hissed.
Pip looked Reina up and down leered. “Got some nice jewels on ya.”

“Reina,” Lius squeaked, but it was too late. Reina had already drawn her daggers. Several men around the fire also pulled out crude weapons.
“We don’t want it to go this way,” she said tersely.
“Yeah?” Pip scoffed. “Well, there’s eight of us an’ two o’ you. I’m thinkin’ maybe we’ll rough ya up a bit and take ya stuff.”
“Last chance,” Reina said. “But you really don’t want it to go this way.”
“Oh, really?” Pip asked.
“Yes,” Reina replied. “You can get more gold or you can get dead. It’s your choice.”
An unimpressed smirk on his face, Pip pulled back his sleeve to reveal a ghastly red Dragonmark covering his arm. “Take it you don’t know what this is? This is House Tarkanen. This means I touch ya and I kill ya dead. How do you like that?”
“That’s a shame, then,” Reina murmured. “We’ll just have to keep the gold for ourselves.”
“No,” Pip said. “I don’t think so. We’ll ‘ave it. Get ‘em!”


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