After a difficult encounter with Lilliana that left her antagonistic toward Jalen, we all sat back and did some planning. We need to be careful how we proceed. As I mentioned previously, we are in dangerous place and don’t even know where the traps are.
Although we’re a little apprehensive to split our group, we finally decided that as long as we didn’t do anything to make waves or to draw attention to ourselves, that we should be safe simply observing and learning ‘from the shadows’, as Jalen kept saying. I reminded him that most of us are not very stealthy, and he explained that being unseen in the city was about blending in and looking like you belong, rather than actually remaining out of sight.
To that end, Jalen and I will be spending time in Upper Hill, learning what we can about the Splendid Manor and about the goings on there. I will start by shopping for the clothes that will let me blend in and then I’ll linger in the nicer taverns there to listen to the gossip and to see what’s going on. Jalen will be nearby skulking. Oh, turns out he does not care for that term. However, from the streets he will hopefully be able to learn different things about the area and the brothel.
Tanka and Nuan-Shu will spend some time on the docks. As a Laetitian adventurer it seems likely that he will not draw undue attention there while he observes activities of Roland and learns the goings on around the docks. There is likely a lot to learn there as Southern Imports and its people are active in that area. It seems unlikely that Nuan Shu will be bothered either. Much easier for folks to go about their business than to poke that hornet’s nest. Besides, toughs and muscle are common in that place.
Faelyn is going to play the part of an Elvish merchant with Talus as his bodyguard. He will spend hours every day in a Dart Hill restaurant observing and letting Elanor fly around outside watching.
It’s been an informative week. We’ve learned a great deal about what’s happening in the city. The city is divided into nine Wards, and apparently each Ward is run fairly independently. Catch the attention of the authorities in one Ward and it’s unlikely that the constables in neighboring districts will have any idea.
From Upper Hill, Jalen and I have learned that the girls at The Splendid Manor are not well treated. They are essentially indentured servants. The exorbitant prices they command go into the pockets of the owners, and Jalen also discovered that the Dark Brotherhood has a stake in it. This isn’t unusual as the more we learn, the more we see that they have their fingers in most things in the city.
We also learned that the women who are most in demand have a little more freedom. Lilliana and a few others are given a couple of days off each week. Jalen seems to have learned her schedule and he followed her when she left. She was extremely nervous and suspicious as she took a long, circuitous route back to her home in West Park. She was hiding a secret. She has a young daughter there and a nanny that watches her during the week. We’ve decided that if we confront her, this is the anchor that will get her to talk to her. We’ll need to handle that carefully though.
Meanwhile, Faelyn and Talus learned that Myla leaves the castle every evening around 6pm and walks to a nearby restaurant called the ‘Whispering Waves’ for dinner. She dresses well, but not extravagantly, and carries a small, lockable, handled case with her. Her routine is such that as soon as she enters, the tavern girl (a halfling), brings her a bowl of porridge and a glass of wine as soon as she is seated. She takes her time with dinner and always has a second glass of wine before leaving after an hour or two. As dull a routine as that appears to be, Faelyn did notice something yesterday. Last night she ordered a third glass, and as soon as the halfling delivered the wine to Myla, she slipped into the kitchen. Elanor saw her leave through a back door and disappear down an alley. A few minutes later the servant returned. Also, when Myla left, she ‘forgot’ her case. While she was gone, a man that Faelyn had not seen before entered the tavern with an identical case and sat at the same table. He left after a drink with the case that Myla had forgotten. When the secretary returned a while later for her forgotten bag, she took the one that the man had left behind. Clearly she was performing a slick and well practiced exchange. We’ll need to get Jalen to follow the man the next time in order to see where he goes and to see what the case contains.
On the Docks, Tanka and Nuan-Shu settled into the ebb and flow of life there. They learned, much to our surprise, that Rolden the Cursed is possessing of two good legs. After talking to folks it seems that this transformation is fairly recent; within the past couple of months. He also has a girlfriend that works in the Island Pearl in Upper Hill. He lives in the Western Docks and works for Southern Imports. They also observed a somewhat amateuring group of older children running a pick pocketing ring. They were working together and targeting well-to-do visitors rather than locals.
In general news, we heard multiple accounts of murders taking place in Upper Hill and Dart Hill. The victims appear to be clawed and ripped apart in a gruesome fashion. I suspect lycanthropes, but the victims are apparently all young, pretty girls, so perhaps there is some other motive.
We also encountered a man with a trained horse, hustling the streets for tips. The man’s name is Archer Kipling. His horse is Ulysses.
Today, at the docks, Tanka and Nuan Shu observed an encounter where a man challenged a regular named Keltin. Keltin appears to be in charge of the docks. People come to him and he tells them what to do. He is also an enormous and intimidating man. The challenger announced the Keltin was going to ‘pay for his sins’, shortly before Keltin disemboweled him with a pair of wicked, curved daggers. We later learned from a beggar named ‘Parts’ that this is none other than ‘The Claw’, who is a major figure in the Dark Brotherhood.
After discussing the situation with Lilliana, we decided to confront her. It seems unlikely that she is the culprit behind Dayton’s disappearance, but there is a chance that we can learn more about him if we handle her the right way. Our plan was to confront her when she was away from her home, on the streets, so we waited til she left and then went to talk to her. Jalen opened the conversation with the knowledge that we know about her daughter. Needless to say, this put her on the defensive, so I did my best to calm her fears, telling her that we had no intention of causing her any trouble. Between us, we managed to discover that her connection to Dayton started when he bought her the house so that she would have a safe place to raise her little girl. She would tell him tidbits that she had learned at her job, and he helped support her. Jalen offered to continue to support her and asked that she continue to provide information. I’m not sure what we’ll learn, but it was a pretty good outcome after such a shaky start.
This evening as I was returning home I happened upon Boylee, a thug that I recalled from my childhood. He was eating dinner with a constable; a singularly hideous man that I dimly recalled being a friend of my father’s. Here we had a member of the city’s underbelly chumming with the law. I think I should go talk to Martha about the constable. She will likely know more about him and his relationship to father. Maybe this is an avenue for information. Maybe this is someone to avoid.
Today I took some time off from sitting around in nice taverns to go talk to some people. First I stopped off at the candle makers’ shop. Martha confirmed that the constable Carson, was a good man and apparently had been a great friend of my father’s. She informed me that, more than once, they had adventured together. I had no idea my father had ever been an adventurer. Perhaps I should go and talk to him.
I also ventured out onto the docks to speak with Parts. Here was a man who had to have seen everything going on there, and as a beggar, was likely willing to share for some coin. I wasn’t wrong. He confirmed that the Claw ran the show for Southern Imports here on the dock. Here was more evidence of the Dark Syndicate controlling Southern Imports. He also shared his horrific tale. Apparently he had been mistaken for someone else when he was a young man. As proof that they had him, the kidnappers began sending back pieces of the man to someone else’s family. Before they figured out thier mistake, the man now known as ‘Parts’ was missing many important pieces of himself.
This evening Talus also reported that he was contacted by Archer Kipling who wants him to help him find and collect something from a pirate named Willow Stormsense; the captain of the Black Wind. The horseman wants to take Willow back with him for judgement, dead or alive. This seems a foolish and unnecessary distraction, but Talus is focused. He seems to think that it will lead to great personal wealth.
Jalen met with Raven today and shared our intel. He seems to think that much of our information was news to her. Good. If anything happens to us, the knowledge may still get to where it can do some good.
We also heard a rumor today about the House of Silk, a whore house in Breezy Point. Apparently the girls went crazy there. Many strange things seem to be happening in the city.
Today Myla made another bag transfer. Jalen, followed the man who made the exchange and was surprised by how confident and unaware he was. The man led Jalen to a building in the Western Docks that had a sign declaring it “The Repost”. Outside the building, lounging and drinking he observed The Claw, along with the Elf Archer from the Splendid Manor gold shipment a few days ago. Also present was a cloak-wearing Dwarf. When we were discussing these discoveries this evening, Tanka remembered seeing a Dwarf that matched this description on the docks. Interestingly, he was one of the few people that met with the Claw there that The Claw did not seem to try to intimidate. Probably a higher up in the Dark Syndicate.
I met with Carson today. I found him at a tavern in the Docks and approached him. Once I explained who I was he became very excited and pleased to see me. He alluded to his friendship with my father and then dropped a fireball on me…my brother, Toby, is still alive! In fact, Carson took him in when my parents died and raised him as their own. We agreed to meet for dinner. He even told me that he’d get ahold of Toby and have him there too. Unfortunately, our plans were interrupted.
As I was walking toward the docks to find the others I ran into Tanka who was holding a badly injured Laetitian woman. Apparently she had run to him while being pursued by some men who were trying to kill her. Tanka had killed her pursuers only moments before I arrived. I sent messages to the others to meet us back at home and, after healing the woman, we quickly retreated to the safer location.
Jalen was late, however. He reported that while walking through the docks he was attacked by a man. From his description it sounded like he was hte victim of a confusion spell. Calm one moment, raging the next. I wonder if this has anything to do with the problems at the House of Silk.
Apparently Marala was the leader of a group of Laetitians who had been captured by a man named, Branish, and was forced into slavery. Since then they had been sold to a Captain Hardlaw who took them to the Southern Isles. There they were sold to Captain Sylban Reach who had brought them to Celedon. She had managed to escape, but had taken several arrows in the process. She begged us to go with her to free her friends. It smelled like a possible trap, but the severe injuries she had sustained attested to the truth of her story. It didn’t take long to decide. While Jalen and Nuan Shu ran off to find horses, the rest of us gathered our gear for the trip. As we were leaving, I paid a boy a few Coppers to take a message to Carson, apologizing for not being able to make it to dinner. Our mission was just too time sensitive. The slaver’s ship had landed in an isolated cove and would likely be meeting with a buyer soon.
It was late afternoon by the time we were able to set out, but we traveled until fairly late before setting camp. It may not be bitter cold, but Faelyn’s protective dome was still welcome for keeping the dew off of us.
We decided to skirt the market town of Seabarrow. It took us a little out of the way, but potentially saved us all sorts of entanglements.
When we came up to the little hidden cove that the slavers ship was on, we made some quick decisions about how to approach the situation. Jalen brought back the intel that there was a group of about 2 dozen sailors gathered around a fire on the beach, drinking. He couldn’t see anyone on the ship. That’s when we decided to skip around the sailors all together. Frankly, until they attacked us or we saw slaves, I was reluctant to just attack them. No one else seemed to have any such qualms. Marala stayed back about half a mile with the horses.
Things started off well. We managed to get almost everyone on the ship before they knew we were there. Things fell apart quickly after that. It seems that the captain is a sorcerer. At one point he confused Nuan Shu and she began attacking the group. Additionally, the pirates had a skilled archer hiding on the beach. Between those two, they kept us pinned down and running in circles. Eventually Tanka killed their archer. However, the captain escaped, fireballing his own ship to try to kill us, and he did manage to kill Faelyn. When we questioned one of the sailors after the fight he informed us that the ship was tied to the Dark Syndicate. With the captain on the loose, it seems we may have more troubles now.
Oh, and there were no slaves on board. Apparently they had been sold already. I feel like we did the right thing, but nothing worked out the way it should have. I’m not sure what Diakris is trying to teach me here, but I need to figure it out soon.