The Alexandrian

Ptolus - In the Shadow of the Spire

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SPIRE

SESSION 3B: QUESTIONING CRAN

March 31st, 2007
The 17th Day of Amseyl in the 790th Year of the Seyrunian Dynasty

Arriving back at St. Gustav’s Chapel they found Brother Fabitor tending to the altar. When he saw them enter – soaked in blood, coated in ash – he was immediately concerned. The story quickly spilled out (Fabitor: “Wait, you burned down a house?” Tee: “We didn’t burn down a house! They summoned a fire elemental!”). As soon as Fabitor became aware that Ranthir was unconscious, he quickly healed him.

“Oh dear,” Ranthir shook his head. “I shan’t be doing that again. It just seems to work out so well when Master Agnarr does it…” He quickly came to the conclusion that, if he was going to be finding himself regularly in such predicaments, he should start carrying a weapon. He laid claim to one of the daggers the group had found on the criminals they had apprehended, eventually choosing the dagger which had struck Dominic in the shoulder. “That is if Master Dominic is all right with me wielding that blade?” Ranthir said. Dominic said it was fine, “It’s better than selling it on the street where it might end up back in the hands of criminals… and then end up back in my shoulder again.” Ranthir shook his head, “Given my skill with weapons, I’m afraid I can make no guarantees that it won’t end up there in any case.”

After securely binding both of their surviving prisoners (the half-orc and the man with the red top-knot), the party decided to wake up and question the half-orc first. Brother Fabitor healed him to consciousness, and then Tee and Agnarr stepped forward to question the prisoner.

It didn’t take them long to figure out that, contrary to Agnarr’s continued belief, the half-orc actually was Toridan Cran. At this point, Tee turned the questioning firmly towards the assassination: Why had he ordered the death of Phon Quartermail?

Toridan simply denied everything, accusing them all of assaulting him in the privacy of his own home. He turned to Brother Fabitor and demanded that he be released immediately, or he was going to turn him over to the City Watch as an accomplice with these hooligans.

Agnarr began making arrangements to usher Elestra and Fabitor out of the room so that he could use some “more sophisticated” interrogation techniques. Ranthir called Tee over to one side and handed her the ledger. “Perhaps this might of some assistance?”

Tee smiled and sauntered back over to where Toridan Cran was tied up. “You’re Toridan Cran, right?”

“Yeah, what of it?”

“Then this must belong to you.” She waved the ledger in front of him.

Cran blanched. “I don’t know what you think you’ve got there, but—“

“Well, let’s just see what I’ve got.” Tee started flipping through the book, scanning the pages quickly as she went. It didn’t take her long to find what she was looking for, an entry that said that Toridan had received a payment of 200 gp from “MW” to “kill PQ”. Near that entry was scrawled another note: “Methul Watcher demands action.”

“Who’s Methul Watcher?”

Cran blanched, but tried to bluff his way through it. “Who’s that?”

“No, no, no,” said Tee. “You said you were Toridan Cran. This is Toridan Cran’s ledger. And this ledger seems to say that you were paid to kill PQ. PQ… That must be Phon Quartermail.”

With the revelation of the ledger and what it contained, Cran eventually cracked. He told them that a week and a half ago he’d been approached by a man named Methul Watcher who had paid him 200 gp and instructed him to hire someone else to kill Phon. He’d hired Vagger and Laucio and paid them 100 gp to take care of it. Three days ago Methul Watcher had contacted him again and demanded action, and he’d pressured Vagger and Laucio to get it taken care of.

Satisfied that they had all the information they could get from Toridan, the group handed the ledger over to Brother Fabitor and asked him to turn Toridan and his associate over to the City Watch (since the group felt they had already been too involved with the Watch over the past couple of days).

The group headed back to the Ghostly Minstrel to clean up.

APPOINTMENTS

Ranthir retired to his room and spent some time looking at the strange arcanum text they had recovered. He discovered that even a comprehend languages spell would not reveal the meaning of the text, although he was able to discover that each page of the book had been marked with an arcane sigil, much like someone initialing the page. Unfortunately, this was not a sigil that he immediately recognized.

Tee, meanwhile, went to sell several of the items that the group had acquired over the past couple of days. Before she left, she asked Ranthir to cast detect magic to see if any of the equipment was magical. It wasn’t, but Ranthir was surprised to discover that Agnarr’s sword, Tee’s longbow, and Dominic’s clothing were all registering as magical. The party resolved to investigate this further as soon as Ranthir had prepared the proper spells.

Tee stopped by Ebberts’ with two sets of thieves’ tools and brought a wry grin to the dwarf’s face: “Didn’t I just sell you a set of these?” Rastor the litorian greeted the masterwork weapons she brought him with a feline smile.

Then Tee went to the Bull and Bear Armory. While one of the blacksmiths there was laying out the items for inspection, a tall lad with broad shoulders and a shock of blonde hair came out of the back room. Seeing Tee he quickly set down the items he was carrying and hurried over, “Mistress Tee! It’s so good to see you!”

Tee frowned. “I’m sorry… but I don’t know who you are.”

The boy’s face fell. “Oh… I… Of course. Yeah.”

Tee quickly tried to apologize, “No, there’s this thing going on… and I just can’t remember you.”

“No, I understand. You’re important and I’m… well I’m not. There’s no reason you should remember me. But, I guess, if you see Mistress Elestra, could you tell her that I’ve almost got it figured out. If she remembers me…” The boy shrugged and headed into the backroom again.

Tee looked over and saw the blacksmith glowering at her. “You really hurt young Iltumar’s feelings.” Then he offered to pay her only half what she knew she could get for her items elsewhere. She quietly gathered the items back up and got ready to leave.

Before she left, though, she turned back: “Look, I’m sorry about what happened. Could you let him know that? And let him know we’ll be at the Ghostly Minstrel tonight, and he should join us for a drink.”

As Tee headed back to her room, Elestra came out of her room to meet her. “Did you manage to sell that stuff, yet? I need some cash.” Tee explained that, while she had sold some of it, she’d run into some problems selling the armor. Elestra asked what had happened and Tee, reluctantly, told her. Elestra shook her head, took her share of the sales that had been made and headed downstairs to the bar.

The group reconvened in the lobby of the Ghostly Minstrel a little while later and returned to Saches, hoping to catch up with Phon. She had, in fact, come in to work and Marta – who was excited about “all the commotion on the next street over” — went to get her. Phon was completely baffled by the name Methul Watcher – like Toridan and Vagger and all the rest she had no idea who he was or why he would want to kill her.

The party also questioned her regarding the Republican Rally she had been handing out fliers for. They learned that a man named Helmut Itlestein was in charge of the movement.

Then the questioning turned somewhat ugly. Agnarr asked Phon who the father of her child was. Phon refused to answer and Agnarr began pressuring her until she broke down completely. Marta intervened, got Phon into the backroom, and asked the group to leave. “I know your intentions are for the best, but she’s in a very fragile state just now…” Tee played the diplomat, and asked Marta to make sure that Phon wasn’t left alone: With Methul Watcher still at large, Phon was clearly still in danger.

Leaving Saches, they headed towards the Delver’s Guild Library in Oldtown to keep the appointment they didn’t remember making.

The Delver’s Guild Library was located in a tall, wide tower. Entering at street level, the party found themselves in a shaft of sorts extending to the top of the tower and also burrowing down into the earth. In the center of the shaft, running up its length, was a wrought-iron staircase. Every level was packed with papers, books, scrolls, and ephemera of various sorts. An elderly gentleman, who introduced himself as Shad, greeted them from behind a desk as they entered. After confirming that Ranthir was present, he called for Benris, who turned out to be a massive woman over seven feet tall. She escorted the group to a back room where the material they had requested had been prepared for them.

Ranthir began going through the material with the help of Tee, Elestra, and Dominic. Agnarr, however, quickly became bored. Looking at the books with a mixture of confusion and exasperation he cried, “I’ve found myself in some kind of hell!” He left abruptly and headed back to the Ghostly Minstrel.

Despite his best efforts, Ranthir could barely make a dent in the material. Not only was it diverse, scattered, and unorganized, but he had no idea what he was supposed to be looking for. He did find out a little bit more about the dwarven city of Dwarvenhearth: Over the past several years, massive doors had been found in various locations deep in the caverns beneath Ptolus. These doors were all virtually identical and clearly fashioned using dwarven skills, but no one had been able to penetrate them. Assuming that they all lead to the same complex (which, given their locations, seemed likely), the complex would have to be relatively huge. This had led some to conclude that the complex might be Dwarvenhearth, a legendary dwarven city referenced obliquely in many ancient texts.

And those references were, indeed, oblique and rare. Much of the material they were pouring over was not, in fact, directly related to the request they had apparently made (for material relating to the caverns beneath Dwarvenhearth). Instead, a small portion of it seemed to be made up of the ancient and fragmentary texts which contained minor details or mentions of the dwarven city. The bulk of it consisted of journals and reports from recent delvers who had discovered or inspected the sealed doors. And a goodly sized portion of it actually dealt with a place called Kaled Del.

Kaled Del was a small dwarven settlement beneath Ptolus which had been discovered by the Delvers’ Guild about three years earlier. The dwarves there apparently reported having settled the complex 250 years ago, during the great exodus of the dwarves from the Kingdoms of the East. However, the dwarves also reported that Kaled Del – although of dwarven construction – was much older. They moved into the complex after finding it. This had led some to conclude that Kaled Del might be in some way related to the sealed dwarven complex, which apparently led to the material to be included here. However, the Delver’s Guild had managed to keep the path to Kaled Del a guild secret, allowing them to monopolize trade with the dwarves. This had drawn the enmity of many, particularly the merchant houses. In any case, the records related to Kaled Del were somewhat expurgated to maintain that secrecy.

In the end, Ranthir came to the conclusion that it would take him almost a week of dedicated study to completely peruse the material.

Meanwhile, Agnarr returned to St. Gustav’s Chapel and spoke with Brother Fabitor. Fabitor reported that turning Toridan and the other gentleman (who turned out to be named Guun) over to the City Watch had gone smoothly. But he also told Agnarr that he had looked through the ledger somewhat before turning it over to the Watch and had noticed another uncoded entry: Toridan had apparently made a 100 gp payment to “Naosh at the Cock Pit”. Fabitor had no idea what that meant.

Neither did Agnarr, so he went to the Ghostly Minstrel and spent the afternoon frequenting the common room. The afternoon crowd was thinner than the night crowd, but Agnarr was able to discover that the talk of the town that afternoon seemed to be two major stories which had broken in the “newssheets” (whatever those were):

There were more reports of ratmen openly prowling the streets of the Warrens after dark, and the City Watch was refusing to patrol there. The Watch maintained that they had increased their patrols along Old Sea Road to keep the problem contained, but the word on the street was that this was just being said to placate people.

Agnarr was more interested in a story about another high-profile robbery in the Nobles’ Quarter that was being attributed to Shilukar. The master thief-mage apparently broke into Dallaster Manor three nights ago and assaulted the Dallaster’s daughter and heiress.

Agnarr eventually went out into Delver’s Square and began familiarizing himself with his new sword. That’s where the rest of the party found him, balancing on the edge of the fountain beneath the statue of Runihan, when they returned at sunset.

The group decided to head to the Observatory in the Temple District, where Helmut Itlestein apparently worked. When they arrived they were greeted by Unosh, a half-elf who introduced himself as Helmut’s assistant. It appeared that Helmut wasn’t there this evening, having left to make preparations for his rally the next day (a notion which Unosh pooh-poohed as a waste of time). Unosh then excused himself, as it was time for him to record one of the nightly observations: Apparently Helmut tasked the Observatory with making six very precise observations of the night sky every night. Tee took the opportunity, aided by the distractions created by the rest of the party, to poke around some of the back rooms, including Helmut’s office, but didn’t find anything more interesting than starcharts (including copies of the precise observations Ranthir observed Unosh making in the other room).

The group left and returned to the Ghostly Minstrel. Several of them went to the common room and, when Iltumar showed up, Tee covertly pointed him out to Elestra and encouraged her “not to screw it up”.

Elestra headed over and greeted the youth’s enthusiastic greeting with a big smile. It turned out that Iltumar had been working on some sort of riddle for her:

“I am sitting above a horse which was not born,
Whose father I hold in my hand.”

He almost had it figured out, but not quite. (“I know it’s not actually a horse…”) Elestra asked him whether he had been getting any help, and he shook his head emphatically: “Oh, no, mistress Elestra! I’m going to figure this out all by myself!”

Elestra eventually made her excuses and followed the rest of the party up to bed.

CANVASSING THE TOWN

(08/18/790)

The next morning Ranthir prepared several spells which would assist him in identifying the magical items he had noticed on Agnarr, Tee, and Dominic the day before. Unfortunately, he found the enhancements on Agnarr’s sword to be particularly vexing. Although he eventually concluded that it was a +1 flaming greatsword, he didn’t have enough spells left over to properly analyze Tee’s longbow or Dominic’s clothing (which would have to wait until tomorrow). Nor could he identify the command word which would trigger the flaming property of the greatsword.

The party spent the rest of the morning canvassing Ptolus, hoping to follow-up on some of the loose ends and leads they found themselves holding.

Ranthir returned to the Delver’s Library and continued looking through the material there.

Agnarr attempted to find out more information about “Naosh at the Cock Pit”, but had little luck. He suspected that his brash manner was not lending people to trust him.

Elestra tried to follow-up on Methul Watcher, but similarly had little success. As far as she could tell, Methul Watcher didn’t exist.

Dominic asked around about the drug shivvel. Shivvel, also known as the “pleasant poison” or “black powder”, apparently started hitting the streets about a year and a half earlier, but the addicts hadn’t become a noticeable blight until about eight months ago. It was rarely taken in its raw form, instead being commonly mixed with other substances (such as alcohol or tobacco). Shivvel was, in fact, a poison, killing slowly over a long period of ever-worsening madness. The heaviest concentration of addicts, perhaps unsurprisingly, was in the Warrens. Word on the street was that the Balacazars were behind the shivvel trade, but no one was exactly sure where the drug came from. Alchemical studies suggested, however, that it was refined from a black seaweed that grew in the coastal regions of some islands in the Teeth of Light. Recent shivvel busts on the Docks seemed to support the theory that it was being shipped into the city.

Tee asked around about recent developments with the ratmen. She had always been vaguely aware of reports of ratmen moving about the sewers beneath Ptolus, but in her youth they had rarely emerged onto the surface. Recently, however, it turned out that encounters with ratmen had been increasing. How much of this was due to an actual increase in ratmen activity, and how much might be due to the number of surface dwellers delving beneath the surface and into the ratmen dens, was entirely uncertain.

The party reassembled at the Ghostly Minstrel in the early afternoon and reported what they had independently discovered. Then they began pondering what their next course of action should be…

NEXT JOURNAL ENTRY

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