And They Appear to Lead to the Ancient Ruins of Augur.
Awakened by a knock on her door, Magdalene peered through the tiny hole she had drilled in the door to her room at the River Jewel. Not very surprised to see Fariex on the other side, she told the dragon (who was still using some kind of magic to appear as a human trader) that she needed a moment to freshen up.
Fariex asked her to meet him in the garden just next to the posh inn, so she soon found herself discussing the Filth King surrounded by sculptures and flowers. Seems the king of the beggars was now on the run (having betrayed his benefactor, sold out the Laughing Shadows, and run out on the Golden Scales.
Fariex says the Filth King came to him this morning, right after the Coalition Meeting broke up in rancor. Knowing of Fariex’s commercial interests the beggar king tried to sell him a very valuable set of armor. “Of course, I do not deal in pawnbrokerage, even with very valuable items,” Fariex said, “But I did direct him to a factor of mine, suggesting he might offer a good deal.”
Giving Maggie directions to a dealer in exotic armor, the copper dragon told her, “It occurred to me that such a set of Pouncing Drowmesh would be an excellent complement to your considerable skills.”
Not sure how Fariex might know about her leaping skills, Maggie thanked the dragon and asked him if she might be of assistance to him.
“Oh, I am sure the time will come,” Fariex replied as they returned to the inn.
There Maggie found Maxim explaining to the rest of the party what his plan for the tea party to which Telicanthus had invited them. It was all very complicated and involved distracting people and searching the mansion via Stealth. “I’m sure that’s a plan that will need some revisions once the battle has been joined,” Maggie thought.
Sure enough, the tour of the mansion offered small opportunity for distractions (but many opportunities to explore the mansion) and once the party itself was going, few distractions were needed.
But Stealth was at a premium. Maggie could see that Pennel, the butler who looked like an assassin to Maggie, was constantly watching everyone. Telicanthus was much more discreet about keeping an eye on people, but Maggie was convinced he was watching as well.
Valhalla had noticed the old adventurer grimacing in pain and rubbing his knee, so he went back to the ballroom and told Baranor the Black about using Elfstar, a flower which eases the suffering of older orcs whose joints cause them grief. In his gratitude, Baranor rambled on about his days as an adventurer, comparing Valhalla to his old cleric friend “Goldie.” Apparently he and Goldie had once survived the destruction of a city far to the south which was hit by an earthquake. The real information Baranor provided comes when he mentions the “earthquake” he felt a few nights back, and the few nights before that. He told Valhalla he’s complained to Lord Torrance, but neither Torrance nor anyone else has felt them. “Sometimes you can feel things when yer deaf no one else can feel, I thinks,” Baranor told Valhalla. “Back when I could hear, I ignored the first tremors of the quake in the south because I couldn’t hear anything. Goldie didn’t, though.” When Valhalla pressed him further he was able to figure out that the tremors seemed to come from behind Telicanthus’s mansion.
Sam the Foresworn saw Valhalla heading back to the large ballroom (“apparently intended for bigger parties than this,” he thought) but decided not to follow, “Baranor and Valalla seem suited to each other,” he suggested to Maggie.
Soon Maxim was executing his distraction plan. Apparently, the Hobgoblin felt that a ruckus in the Portrait Gallery would attract attention away from those attending who might have better sneaking skills. Peeking into the gallery, he saw Maxim talking loudly to General Taramin, who was casually examining Telicanthus’s family tree. Engaging in what seemed to Sam to be loud but meaningless small talk, Maxim learned that Genera Taramin was asked, as a personal favor, to leave his watch patrols away from the mansion, since their presence was “a distraction to Telicanthus’s work.”
Seeing at least one of the other guests distracted by Maxim, Sam returned to the Tea Room, where he saw Zumos spying on the archdean of the university, who was speaking to Telicanthus in an agitated conversation about food storage in the city.
“Well, Zumos’s insight should be sufficient to glean whatever can be gleaned from that.” Sure enough, later Zumos revealed that Telicanthus was surreptitiously looking around to see if anyone is paying attention to the conversation, and reassuring Archdean Grimaldi at the same time. The archdean concluded the exchange by looking pointedly at Telicanthus’s kitchen and stores before walking off, seemingly pacified.
Getting ready for his own excursion into the rooms of the mansion, Sam found Delis in the back hall, bouncing up and down on her feet without really jumping. The elf explained that she had noticed that, near the back of the house on the ground floor, the floor felt extra creaky, indicating something was happening near the foundation at that back portion of the property.
Zumos spotted Archdean Grimaldi in a conversation with Telicanthus. The Archdean was agitated and asking something about food storage in the city. He also noticed that Telicanthus was surreptitiously looking around to see if anyone was paying attention to the conversation, while reassuring the Archdean at the same time. The Archdean concluded the exchange by looking pointedly at Telicanthus’s kitchen and stores before walking off, seemingly pacified.
Maxim Shalion thought his plan was working out quite well. Nobody had done much searching of the mansion yet, but the distractions were flying hot and heavy. Magdalene was just beginning to work her diplomacy on Lord and Lady Torrance in the Tea Room.
She was reassuring the pair about the Golden Scales intention to keep their investigation quiet. Obviously successful in this, Lord Torrance seemed to Maxim to be assured of their capabilities. Lord Torrance gave a hint of a nod in the direction of Pennel, the butler who was openly staring Maggie down from across the room. When Lord Torrance saw Maggie notice Pennel, he gave a slight nod and moved away.
When Magdalene came up to Maxim later and suggested the butler’s rooms be search, Maxim agreed.
But it was Sam (of course who got to Pennel’s rooms first, searching the butler’s bedroom as well as a storeroom. Reporting nothing of interest in the storeroom, Sam was unable to get into the small lockbox he found in the bedroom. When he reported that failure to Maxim, Max knew just what he would do about it.
After Valahalla produced the key to Telicanthus’s office, Maxim sent Alen to get inside the box in Pennel’s room, the quasit demon ate the clothing he found inside and returned with his mouth covered in blood. He seemed to have enjoyed it.
While Pennel did not see the demon (or the blood on his lips) he did detect Maxim’s lips moving as he gave instructions to the demon telepathically. Zumos was spotted by Telicanthus trying to sneak down the hall as well.
Fresh off his success with Baranor the Black, Valhalla decided to attempt a little Thievery. Telicanthus’s butler had raised suspicions all around, so Valhalla decided to pick his pocket. Spotting Pennel (the butler who seemed strong enough to also act as a bodyguard) pocket the key to his office, he snagged the key out of Pennel’s pocket as he passed by on an errand.
Delis Erinthal knew she had find something before Telicanthus and his butler got any more suspicious, so she headed strait for Pennel’s office. It was easy to get in using the key that Valhalla had lifted off the butler.
Going through the papers there, she was able to tell that Telicanthus and his estate were going through a preposterous amount of money, but she was unable to figure out exactly where it was going. A more thoroughgoing search turned up the key to Telicanthus’s office which she passed on to Maggie.
Maggie headed off to Telicanthus’s office (trying the key in each door as she came to it), after Bluffing Pennel into thinking she was headed in a different direction. The door at the end of the hall was locked, but opened with this key.
The journal on the desk held nothing but guest lists for the parties Telicanthus was famous for throwing. Impressive lists, but nothing more. Delis did not find the secret of the room until she brought Sam and Maggie back there.
They noticed the room wasn’t wide enough, given the size of the master bedroom next door. Sam noticed that the full-length mirror was magical, but Maggie did not need that: Walking Through Shadows, she was able to teleport to the other side. Sam and Delis figured out that the touching the mirror with a pieced of stained glass caused it to allow passage for those without teleportation powers.
Once behind the wall, they found a set of stairs leading down into the undercity. Deciding they should get back to the tea party before Maxim’s distractions wore out, the trio returned and asked General Taramin if he knew about the excavations beneath the mansion. The general told them such excavations had been common in the early days of Sayre, but that they were strictly prohibited because they had caused many cave-ins and much loss of life.
The Golden Scales decided they would have to return later to find out why Telicanthus was so interested in the ruin of Augur beneath Sayre.