The group goes to their respective homes, where they rest and gather some intel.
Eddie heads back to the Cordoba townhouse in the Clerk’s Ward and receives the weekly payout from the Planar Trade Consortium: 220 gold coins, including the 10% markup. He also pawns off the gemstones they found at Crale’s for a total of 200 gold. Then he hands out 141 each to Gareth and Ziggy for their work, 75 gp to the family, and the rest (60 gp) he keeps for himself.
Ziggy takes the cart, the 3 visible rods from Arthani, and the 2 invisible ones home to the Guildhall Ward. In the morning, all rods are visible, and he shows them to his mother. She’s appalled that he has such devices, which she calls “gate disruptors”. She wants him to be careful and reminds him that her farewell dinner will be on Festival Eve.
Gareth slithers off to whatever flophouse he’s staying at.
In the morning, they reconvene. Eddie has a note delivered from Estavan: Doros Gilex is the man behind the curtain. He was last seen by Arthani at the House of Song, a festhall in the Gatehouse district of The Hive.
When night falls, the group heads to the festhall. Eddie disguises himself magically and they enter. After some discussion with the bartenders, and some delicious drinks (junkajuice, a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage made from fermented mushrooms, and perscheraine, a teal-colored draught carbonated with magical gas and flavored with perschefruit), a dark-haired man in black leathers comes out of a room and begins guarding the door. Eddie and Gareth distract him, thanks to a nearby group of rowdy young men, and the group slips into the rooms beyond.
There they find a hidden cache of magical books, a ring, and a wand, as well as a summoning circle. Handwritten notes mention a pact with the devils of Baator and the following:
Tradegate: Crale’s Arcane Wonders, Fesdin Crale: cavefire & snails
- Lady’s Ward: Sphinx’s Oddities, Heahor: cavefire
- Ildor’s Vault, Ildor Half-elven: snails
The group escapes through the window, Eddie concealing the broken glass with a cantrip. Outside, the black leathered man meets them in the alleyway and summons six lemures, mindless blobs of molten flesh who lash out with their shapeless fists. The group makes short work of both lemures and the man, and after Ziggy forces himself to vomit all over the unconscious fellow, they drag him off to Gareth’s nearby safehouse.
Gareth plays bad cop and Eddard is the good one. The man has a surprising will for interrogation and seems to bristle at intimidation. Won’t give you his name, won’t say anything about Gilex or Arthani, the beaded necklace or the devils he summoned…
As Ziegfried flips through the books, he stumbles upon some intel. The first of the two books from the room is a leatherbound journal. Much of it is written in code, but there are hastily scrawled messages toward the end about a summoning ritual. Some key words jump out at you: “Dis” and “Laysat”. The first is familiar, obviously, but so is the second… and you’re not sure why.
The second book, jacketed in crisp black leather, is just a jumble of slightly unsettling incoherent words and phrases on near-new sheafs of paper. Scratched into the inside front cover: “Doros Gilex, 11/23/1586. Found in Killavullen.” The first paragraph: “Kn’a ah kn’a nnnsgn’wahl sgn’wahl ng’ai geb ‘fhalma ngvulgtlagln uaaah Erethu Tsathoggua n’gha chtenff, shogg Chaugnar Faugn lloig ya ah nglui nog gof’nn ch’ ah. Ron n’gha vulgtlaglnoth nilgh’ri ee ron n’ghft, goka syha’h k’yarnak cfm’latgh fm’latgh hupadgh.” You flip through it and find nothing else useful.
Gareth needs more clues. He’s hungry for them. If he just watches more. Experiences more. If he could read the entrails…
No, that would scare everyone. That’s how his mother would do things. It’s the quickest way to understand, but it also makes a messy floor.
“Bang around all you want. You won’t find anything.” The man is stoic and calm. He smells of sweat and bub and something else. Dirt. Fresh air. Not the kind of odors commonly encountered in The Cage. “We’re doing important work. Leveling the field. Your fancy sick chow is just the beginning.”
“Fancy sick chow?” Gareth mouths to Eddard behind the captive’s back.
He tries to place the smell. The loam. Something about him isn’t in the right place. Maybe it’s his head. Maybe it’s his shoes…
There’s something off about his clothing. Not fashionable by any stretch, but it’s hard to stay in fashion in Sigil. “You great balmy berks,” he says, under his breath, and there’s something particularly odd about his accent suddenly. Eddard hears “balmy” and wonders… what the hell this barmy cove is talking about. It’s pretty clear he’s not from around here. But he sure as hell is trying to act like he is.
“Come now, sir – such theatrics do not become gentlemen like ourselves.”
Eddie gives his top hat a tap, the rest of his white tie and tails suit spotless.
“We know you are not from here. Honestly, dear sir, Gareth here just wants to make dolls from your wiggly bits. Gets six bits a doll in the ant hill for them I hear tell. I would like to send you home without that sort of unpleasant experience so you may father many a mewler. Perhaps with a bit of dosh for your troubles. Give us a bit on the old dazzler and you’ll be in fine shape – one gentleman to another.”
Ziegfried watches the interrogation unfold with an apparent, uncharacteristic lack of interest. He’s idly picked up the second book again and seems to be dividing his attention between the other three figures in the room and the many pages of gibberish in the book, flipping through them with no real method.
As the captive digs in his heels, Ziggy offers, “He’s barmy for sure, but he knows what we want to know, and the drow could make him talk. Give him one last chance to take the less painful way out.” Ziggy speaks without really looking up, seated in a rickety chair with the inscrutable tome in his lap and his feet propped up on the mound of his own arms and armor. Aside from the whisk-whisk-whisk of flipping pages, this is the first noise he’s made in quite awhile.
At the mention of his wiggly bits, the man goes a bit ashen. He looks to Gareth as if to confirm this unpleasant bit of news. Hoping, praying that there’s anything in the dark elf’s face that might suggest otherwise…
“I used to use this to forage for mushrooms in the wild,” Gareth says, pulling a long dagger from his leather gauntlet. It’s a simple dagger. Unadorned. No Elvish scrollwork or inset gems. Nothing but a black wooden hilt and a delicately thin blade. He turns it parallel to the ground. “You wouldn’t believe how useful it was. The top of certain fungi with which I’m familiar are perilously poisonous. So I needed precision to dissect the top from the… from the rest. If I went fast enough, the shaft would remain, unmoved. But if I didn’t focus…” His odd lavender-pink eyes narrow, and then he smiles, white teeth appearing between his lips as it spreads across his face.
The man’s mouth slowly opens during this monologue and his eyes turn dull, as if he’s trying to will his brain to take him elsewhere. Then he closes his mouth. Opens it again. Like a fish trying to breathe out of water.
“I… we’re just trying to stop them from coming to the cave. For their snails. It’s not right, that they can just walk through that gate and take those things. And…” He looks down, shaking his head. “We tried to close their gate. All the gates. But… they won’t let us. And it’s cost us so much. It cost Doros everything.”
- Wand of the War Mage
- Ring of Protection
- 250 xp apiece
“Nice sword. Did your mom make it?” “Yes.”