(belated notes from our mid-July session)
The party began the adventure by informing the Dev’shir family of the desecration at their family tomb. Thanks to some supremely slick game-sense, Lia noticed the worried look of the servant who was ushering them out, and she totally Power Manipulated a little info out of the valet. Namely: daughters Dugesia and Lakaisha had both perished in a tragic barn blaze, though the servant made some oblique references about bad blood between those two daughters and internal worries about public opinion and the continued social standing of the Dev’shir family. This seemed to indicate there was more to the story than the public had been led to believe.
Lia was able to form a Promising Theory about the identity and motive of someone who would desecrate the family tomb. (Nice going, guys! I didn’t see that total fast-talking grifter maneuver coming, and you cobbled together some critical info a session or two early! Well done.)
After this, the party was hot on the trail of Latimer, the half-orc who pawned the Dev’shir heirloom. Following a tip from Oskar, the pawn shop owner, they entered the raucous tavern called The Famished Froghemoth. It was about 7 in the evening, and though many were already hunkered down with their mugs of ale and mead, none appeared to be the distinctive half-orc they sought.
And so, to blend in, they drank. And drank and drank. Gareth and Redgar nursed their mugs and watered them when possible, but Lucas and Lia took this opportunity to reclaim their college drinking days. And boy did they put on a good show. Lucas nearly got into a scrap over a drunken game of darts, while Lia was nearly convinced to “earn some beads the Mardi Gras way.” Redgar kept her under close watch.
The hours ticked by. No Latimer. Lucas got drunker.
Captain Thurg “bumped into” his guardsmen grunts in the tavern. Clearly he has known Gareth and Lucas are moonlighting and picking up good money and notoriety with the noble crowd, and he wanted a piece of the action. Gareth was, to be honest, a little brusque with the captain, who hung around all night waiting for things to happen.
Which they did. Around 9, Latimer walked in, to shouts of “Norm!” all around the bar. He quickly fell into drinking and gambling, losing as much as he won, until an opening appeared at his table. Gareth and Redgar moved in. Latimer talked them into a wager on a game of Punjar Hold ‘Em. Their cards stunk, but as it turns out, the sharp-eyed Gareth just barely noticed Latimer slip the extra pair of aces into his hand at the last moment. He decided to keep mum and let Latimer scoop up his winnings.
Their queries soon made Latimer uncomfortable. He slipped out the front door and the party followed. (Lucas mostly stumbled.) Captain Thurg tried to join, but Gareth bristled at his boss’ interference – the quarrel nearly allowed their quarry escape, but they heard a muffled cry from an alley. They arrived in time to see Latimer getting bound by a pair of shadowy thugs. When the party accosted these ne’er-do-wells, they were warned to leave or face the wrath of “the Slayers.” Lucas and Thurg instantly recognized the gang symbol these thugs flashed – the Slayers are an infamous league of Punjari assassins and mercenaries quite separate from the Thieves Guild; their agenda is their own.
A tiefling warlock on a balcony overhead warned them that Latimer was now “property of the Slayers” but did the party listen? Of course not. Despite Lucas falling down drunkenly at least once, they managed the thugs quite well. That slippery warlock nearly got away – BUT thanks to Thurg, who had moved around to the opposite end of the alley, they pinned him down and rendered him Not Alive. Lucas pinched a swank Cloak of Lurking.
Latimer was grateful to be rescued, and (since his life was forfeit now anyway) he spilled the beans: He had been a mercenary for a small band of bandits called the Crimson Hand. The Hand had been hired by a secretive, black-robed sorceress (whom Latimer had never seen directly) to exhume bodies from the City of the Dead. Easy work for good money. But thanks to his old debt to the Slayers coming due, he decided to go on the lam. He shared the directions to the particular abandoned iron mine where the Crimson Hand holed up.
I think we all know what’s coming next. Bring your miner’s hat and a caged canary!