The City of Cowls

Arson

Twenty-seventh of Sunharrow, 474

As Alaric departed to conduct his researches, the rest of the group headed towards the Kraken’s Maw, talking as they walked. Dove asked for help distracting Falcon‘s new friend so she could get a few minutes to talk to him, and this gave Anu an idea. She jogged off to Adrik’s shop, to see if he knew anything about Falcon. Unfortunately, she had forgotten to get his name, or his description. Regardless, Adrik seemed surprised to see her. He realized she didn’t know that the Maw had been torched. What?

At about this time, everybody else was discovering the same thing. Hedra was there, screaming Jorlim‘s name, while Franz simultaneously tried casting spells to cool the smoldering embers while holding Hedra back from diving into the wreckage in search of Jorlim. As Mica comforted Hedra (while also preventing her from harming herself), Franz magically cooled the debris, and Fiona muscled a huge beam out of the way. Beneath, she found Jorlim, on death’s door. Even Maudrin’s healing magic was unable to completely restore him, though it kept him alive. Mica carried him to the monastery, with Hedra close at hand. Everybody else took stock of the situation.

There was a strange sigil painted on the building across the way. One of Fiona’s beggars had also seen the people who torched the place, and he gave her all of the information he could recall. It seemed that the arsonists had nailed the front door shut and doused the walls with lamp oil. A search turned up the charred remains of heavy iron nails, and melted crossbow bolts. Based on Anu and Fiona’s informants, and the strange sigil, it seemed apparent that Twilight’s Thieves had carried out the attack. Wait, who?

All they knew about the Thieves was that they operated out of the Ratrun and had interests in the Bazaar and Crescent Ward, and were reputed to be an elite crew. Not much to go on…but Franz had a solution. He had many rare dweomers in his grimoire, and one of them might allow him to speak with the animating spirit of the nail used to hammer the door shut. But he would need time to prepare the spell. Anu accompanied him to his house to recover his grimoire, while everybody else headed for the Skull and Gibbet to eat and process the awful events of the morning.

At the S&G, over lunch, Franz seemed surprised to learn that Nyx had gifted everybody with magical items…but a quick Detect Magic later, he laughed and made some cryptic comments to the effect that he now understood that Nyx needn’t worry about the Thundercranes anymore. After dining, Franz studied his book, while the Thundercranes planned and discussed. Dove was in a funk, and Mica was not thrilled about Franz’s boots on the table. Then Franz was finished studying, and things got really weird.

Franz was able to telepathically communicate with the nail. It gave up several names: Vogel, Evert, Thilo, as well as the scent of pipe tobacco and fish. It also confirmed hearing the phrase Twilight’s Thieves. Finally, it told Franz that the arsonists had walked no more than 5 minutes to reach the Maw. Armed with this data, Franz suggested a Locate Object spell., to find the hammer that had driven the nail. It was a long shot, but the only shot they had.

The spell led them to a tobacconist’s shop on Axe Street, that appeared unguarded. While Anu broke in the back way, everyone else walked in the front door. Maudrin was on crowd control, turning away potential customers, while Dove took point. The tobacconist proved uncooperative, and tried to run, but Anu stopped him, and Dove enchanted him to tell her what she wanted to know.

He was, in fact, Thilo, and he was an agent of the Gallows Corner slavers who had infiltrated Twilight’s Thieves. He had convinced the thieves to attack the Maw by persuading them that the Thundercranes were a dangerous upstart guild that was murdering its rivals. He did this for revenge, for the lives of his comrades. There was a lookout on the roof; Anu and Maudrin dealt with him, terminally. That left, he claimed, 7 more in the basement, and he even gave them the secret knock. But he didn’t tell them where to use it.

In the basement were many barrels of tobacco. Calling for the Thieves to come out and parlay, Dove was surprised when the front of the last barrel swung out from the wall with a click. A wiry man popped partially out, and seemed surprised and angered by Thilo’s deception. But it was all a ruse; when asked by Dove, Thilo confirmed that this was in fact Evert, another slaver agent, and that yet another waited behind the secret door. Evert quickly retreated, and began rallying the Thieves for a fight, but Dove’s Thaumaturgy-enhanced voice cast that into doubt, and the sound of a short, sharp struggle could be heard. While Fiona stuffed Thilo into a tobacco barrel, Mica kicked through the door.

Fiona led the way into the dim passage beyond. It led to a room, in which two fresh corpses lay, one stabbed in the kidney, the other eviscerated and gashed across the throat. A single closed door led from the room; when Anu opened it from afar, an ambush was struck by the slavers!

Evert charged at Fiona, while the halfling, Alton, shot her with a poisoned bolt! Battle was joined. Dove’s magic held Evert in place, and Maudrin’s Moonbeam seared both of the slavers, while the other three Twilight’s Thieves charged into the slavers from behind. Fiona beheaded Evert with great panache, and the fight seemed won. Still, the depraved halfling was determined to kill at least one enemy before Hell took him, and he focused his wrath on Mica, who was poisoned, stabbed in the gut, and slashed badly across the thigh, dropping from shock and blood loss. Anu heroically shielded her from Alton’s death blow, and Maudrin pulled her to safety, healing her most grievous wounds. Maudrin’s spell finally burned the life from the halfling, and the battle was over.

The three Thieves were worried, but agreed to deliver a message requesting a meeting to their mysterious guildmaster. The Thundercranes stuffed Thilo back into his barrel, carried him back to the S&G, and dumped him in one of the very cells where his compatriots had once kept their human chattel. It had been a long day already, and it wasn’t even dinnertime. Questions hung over the gathering. Would Jorlim survive? Were there more slaver agents out there? And who was the mysterious leader of Twilight’s Thieves?

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