The next morning the group headed back to the Temple of Shinare to recruit the help of the Brass Tigers. They needed more information about this Whitescale Society of Frost's and they hoped that Gywnneth and her men could help. The party had the highest faction rating with the mercenary company (+6), and in-game Gywnneth had offered to help multiple times. So that's where they went first.
She met with them over breakfast. They quickly caught the Brass Tiger up to speed about the attack at the Guild Hall, Reichert's death and resurrection, and Salinus' disappearance. Given the adventures they'd shared previously she had no reason to doubt them and almost immediately asked Degamar what she had to do to get the cleric on retainer. The dwarf smiled and said that they could discuss it later. After some discussion she agreed to have some of her men Investigate the Whitescale Society in Kalaman and our first faction combat was under way! Given the pressing nature of their situation the heroes elected to increase the DC of the check to speed the process up and Herschel successfully made the check to instigate an Investigate action. Plus, since he crushed the dice roll and beat the DC by 10 or more the heroes gained a +1 bonus to all faction checks and offensive/defensive checks for the rest of the chapter! Gwynneth promised she'd said word as soon as she knew anything.
The party made a quick stop at the Temple of Mishakal where Herschel dropped off the map he'd made to the Fountain of Renewal with an acolyte to give to Naelathan. Feeling like they'd done all they could to find Salinus for now they elected to focus on tracking down Gilthanas until they could come up with some kind of plan or heard back from their allies. They headed for Merkane's Maps where, once inside, they were greeted by a cheerful chorus of kender voices. The shop, while jam-packed with scroll tubes and maps in glass cases, was full of kender; hanging from the shelves, sitting on the counter, rummaging through sheaves of old parchment. Oddly enough the gaggle of kender actually worked here!
Before anyone lost to many of their possessions a well-dressed, middle-aged Daewar man emerged from the back room. His dark brown beard was tastefully decorated with shiny jewels and baubles. Degamar noticed that despite the other dwarf's hands being covered with ink they were well-calloused. This was a dwarf who had spent most of his life working with his hands current despite appearances. He shooed away the kender and introduced himself as Donald Copperplate, apologizing for her helpers. Kender knew maps better then anyone and he was desperate enough to overlook the “challenges” of working with them.
I had a lot of fun with this scene. Role-playing Donald and constantly interrupting him and the PCs with various bits of kender chatter was a delight. Despite all the nonsense, however, the party did make some headway into their quest. They purchased some maps of Southern Ergoth and pre-Cataclysm Daltigoth and Herschel sold a number of the maps he'd collected and created over the course of the campaign. They confirmed that Shala had disappeared suddenly about two months ago, about the time the party believed Gilthanas had come through the city. Donald was a friend of the family and had been running the shop in her absence ever since. However, being a carpenter and an architect by trade he had recruited some kender help to manage the task and had been steadily losing hair ever since.
Before the party left the shop Shroud brought up the lost fortress of Bastion and asked if there were any maps in the shop that might help them locate it. The oldest kender there, a wrinkly cheeked fellow with a white top-knot who was seated cross-legged on the counter nodded and said he thought he'd seen something a few weeks ago, but was almost certainly it would take some time to locate. This was not the first time in the conversation helping inventory the shop had come up. Donald reiterated that perhaps with some “more focused help” he and his helpers could find it sooner. However, the party was to zeroed in on tracking down Gilthanas and finding Salinus to coop themselves up in a cartographer's shop for a day or two. That's when Shroud's spirit companion, Wrenthistle, appeared and volunteered to help. Donald promptly fainted and the kender flipped out, peppering the wild gnomish ghost with questions and launching into their own tales of times they'd encountered ghosts in their travels.
Degamar revived Donald and between Herschel, Shroud, and the mighty anvil they managed to convince the other dwarf to let the ghost help him and kender inventory the shop. She'd been a scholar and an explorer in life and had the right skill set for the task at hand (aside from being dead of course). She was willing to help too since she and Shroud had recently come to an agreement to end his “haunting” and forge a more beneficial partnership for the pair of them. It had become obvious to the seldom seen spirit that Shroud and his friends were wrapped up in important events; events that she could help shape.
Donald promised that if he found any kind of map of Bastion he'd bring it to The Blind Cockerel himself. The last time he'd sent a kender runner somewhere he'd never seen that particular kender again. After the party left Herschel immediately checked his possessions (he'd already had to recover a silver dagger early in the scene) and discovered one of the pitons that he'd ruined pulling Cam out of that earthquake-related hole in The Desolation so long ago was gone. Arclight couldn't believe Luthen still had them on his character's sheet. Herschel was going to actually go back inside for it, but his friends convinced him to let the useless piece of junk go.
Since they were nearby the party elected to swing through Kalaman's open-air market for an abbreviated shopping trip. After taking twenty minutes or so to track down the kind of vendor he was looking for Herschel haggled with the merchant and bought himself some alchemist's fire, a climber's kit, and a tanglefoot bag for slightly higher than normal prices. By the time Herschel had finished shopping it was early in the afternoon. The party decided they'd waited long enough and decided to return to the Guild Hall and talk to the two elven courtesans who had survived the Whitescale attack last night. On the way there Shroud discovered that his coin purse was gone! There was some chuckling as the players realized that the other kender had probably just borrowed it from their new afflicted friend. They could swing by the map shop tomorrow and get it back.
Shroud had actually been pick pocketed in the market, but no one had spotted the thief. I had rolled the random percentile from the module for everyone in the party and it was the afflicted kender who got robbed. And knowing what I know about the NPC I created for this express purpose it was doubly funny to me. We'll discuss this later if it becomes relevant to the plot again. I rolled up a pretty cool minor character.
Reichert led the way into the Guild Hall, which seemed to be operating normally again (aside from some extra guards outside and in the main lounge). Reichert requested the services of “Cinnamon” from the matron. They settled into a private room on the first floor to wait for the woman. They didn't have to wait long. As soon as the whore recognized Reichert she panicked, but before she could flee in terror Degamar hit her with the wand of calm emotions they had used so often on Isolde. I'd actually forgotten about the wand and Cinnamon actually failed her Will save. She calmly sat back down at the satyr's request. Reichert then used the Shard's true-seeing ability for the week to scan the room and the elf to make sure there were no lethal surprises in store for them. Cinnamon was Cinnamon and there were no invisible assassins lurking about.
Unfortunately, she couldn't tell them much more then they already knew. She'd fled Reichert's room after the minotaur woman and the human man had been killed and hadn't seen or heard anything about Salinus. While Reichert and Degamar questioned the woman Herschel slipped back out into the main lobby and stealthy mingled with the crowd there. Shroud followed him in case there was trouble. No one paid Herschel any mind as the young man casually observed the exits, entrances, and number of guards. Still in stealth mode he returned to the other room as his friends finished with Cinnamon and accidentally surprised Reichert when he slipped up behind him him to talk. The satyr barely stopped himself from punching Herschel in the face – he was understandable a little jumpy.
Calming down Reichert gave Cinnamon thirty steel and a blue quartz gem with instructions to use it to get out of the city and make a new life for herself. He made it very clear that this was not payment for anything, that it wasn't for Ekatrine or whoever else normally got their cut. It was for her. He didn't want her to be hurt or killed. With an emotionless thank you she accepted his gifts and promised she would do as he asked. This was such a weird scene to play as the DM. It should have been very emotional and tense, but the wand of calm emotions put a halt to the way I would have played the scene. I think everyone was a little uncomfortable with the results. Consequently when they met with the next woman, Sunblossom, they didn't use an enchantment on her.
They had to wait almost a Watch for her. The woman was with another client, a fact that disgusted the heroes. They couldn't believe that after what the woman had been through last night she was back at work. The scene was a little more natural to play. The heroes kept Sunblossom calm without magic, but even so the courtesan started crying at least once during the heroes' interrogation. She also couldn't provide them with any more information. Reichert gave her a considerable amount of money and told her that she and Cinnamon needed to get out of this business. When they found out that she didn't have any family to go to Herschel told her to find Etharion down at the fish markets and tell him Herschel sent them. He and his friends would help her and Cinnamon get out of Kalaman to a safe place if they wanted to. She thanked them and promised to do just that. They met briefly with Ekatrine in her office, but learned nothing helpful. If anything they were becoming more and more frustrated and suspicious of her.