Scaled Down Scales

Aftermath: Uncovering a Conspiracy

Investigation is a Team Sport

Whose team is the new guy really on?

As they mopped up the remnants of their rooftop mayhem and hustled their prisoners off to holding cells in the basement of The Order of the Black Feather’s headquarters, the heroes noticed some missing bodies: Seems some of the Lost Ones were feigning death and snuck off to lick their wounds.

Or maybe some of them were doppelgangers, too. Pretending to be minions.

As the stealthy hobbit followed the figure up ahead — sure he was following the doppelganger the party suspects has taken Capt Aerun’s place — a signal came from Zumos indicating the rest of the party had found their target on a nearby street….

Questioning the prisoners led to a number of revelations.

What they didn’t know:

  • the name of the city-watchman who hired them
  • who he works for
  • who else is hiring

What they do know:

  • lotsa muscle being hired
  • member of the city watch is the one who hired them
  • description matches Capt. Aerun
  • hangs out at the Pig & Bucket
  • hard to follow after he leaves each night
  • doesn’t go back toward the headquarters of the city watch at the Ministry of War in High Hall
  • the Lost Ones have tried to tail him, without success

The Lost One was recruited to work for Roland. And Belinda took the recruit back with her to Fallcrest, but not before Zumos made a date with her to go see Jerath’s new play, Roland and Juliette. He was unable to convince her it was a tragic romance. Maybe Jerath can spice it up with some spider jokes.

…Sam hurried over to the other street, cursing himself for hiding from the wrong dwarf…

Coppershot “Copper” Thundershield decided he was the right dwarf for the job of investigating the construction in the Divine Knot. He thought he could convince the workers there he was just another dwarf with a piece of wood on his shoulder. But he did not reckon with the fame which has been spreading. An old rival of the party’s has been hired to do security at the temple of Moradin which is being refurbished. Nor did he reckon with the fact that the Ironfell clan has been financing the renovations and providing many of the workers. (Most of the construction workers in the city are shoring up the city’s defenses.) Copper is not that popular with the Ironfells, owing to his association with Storm Johnson.

The Ironfell clan blames Storm for corrupting Bram Ironfell, whom they sent to find the Lost Mines of Karak.

Copper tried to tell the Ironfells that he was all in favor of exploiting the mines, but that was a tough sell: Bram had already told them that Copper and Storm had assisted him in destroying the mines.

Just about the time a fight was about the break out, Ancestor Karros (one of the top aides to the high priest) showed up to escort Copper out. This forced Copper to solo a diplomatic skill challenge for which he was totally unprepared — unless a string of lucky die rolls can be called preparation. Copper found three pieces of information:

  1. High Priest Durkik has assigned almost the entire staff of the Stone Anvil to work on this facility in the Divine Knot, siphoning off good workers from the important business of preparing the city for war. This came as little surprise to Copper, as the party has already decided Durkik is a doppelganger.
  2. The Ironfell clan has invested heavily in the renovations. Many of the workers supplied by the Ironfells are speaking poorly of about the party whenever one of the other workers mentions how many times they have saved the city.
  3. Karros is worried about Durkik.

…leaping from building to building only to be told that Zumos was wrong again…

After their investigations pointed them once again to the Pig and Bucket, the party returned to The Blister’s seedy dive. They found Copper there, slightly the worse for wear.

He had been eating the sausage there all afternoon. And even his dwarven constitution was not enough to protect him from the mystery meat found in those links of tied pork intestine. Assuming the intestines did, in fact, come from pigs.

He was washing down the sausage with weak beer when the rest of the party showed up. They did not disguise themselves this time, even though they knew that Aerun had spotted them spying on him the last time they were here. Several party members DID take up positions outside the building. When the undisguised portion of the party realized the captain of the guard might spot them, they hid in a back booth until he left.

…forcing the halfling to exhaust himself racing back to where he had, in fact, been stalking the right Capt Aerun all along.

As Sam bounded acrobatically to the rooftops to follow their target, he noticed the dwarf was headed deeper into The Blister. Not a place where high-born dwarves who work for the city watch are necessarily welcomed.

Rinoa demonstrated the benefits of her athleticism (she is a veteran of the Special Olympics the dwarves run for races who lack a dwarven constitution). She raced ahead to get a good place to spot where Aerun was headed next.

The Keystone Kops scene which unfolded next was not so much a product of bad planning on the part of the party. Most of them concentrated on aiding Zumos, correctly identifying him as the most perceptive of the party for spotting their quarry. In the gathering darkness, however, Zumos could not make a good die roll.

By the time the foresworn rogue spotted Capt Aerun slipping into a large warehouse, it was obvious he had been spooked by the rest of the party. Any chance at surprise was clearly lost and some kind of defense should be expected as the party closes in on the heart of whatever conspiracy is threatening Overlook. The party was exhausted by their race through the streets, chasing shadows spotted by Zumos.

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Scotus

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