The following evening, after a day of trading, we sat down to another dinner to strategize our investigation into the Scofflaws and the drug trade in Shinumetu that may have brought them down. I smelled a faint whiff of burning woodsmoke and our group went to investigate the stables, fearing the worst. Those fears were founded when we saw smoke emerging from the stables. We also spotted a figure desperately trying to look innocent as they hurried away from the scene. While Tywon used his magic to snuff out the flames, the rest of us chased the suspicious individual down, only for three more to emerge from the alleyway where we cornered our suspect.
In the midst of our battle, a t’skrang guard approached on horseback, ordering us all to cease our fighting. She then leapt from her horse and tackled one of the remaining thugs, while her wolf came face-to-face with me. No words were needed for me to understand that this creature wanted me to stand down. The one remaining arsonist began to run, but a well-placed shot from Dave and a pounce by the guard’s pet wolf subdued the final perpetrator.
Our guard friend began questioning the perpetrator her wolf had apprehended, and he claimed his friend was the one who planned the caper, trying to steal from us. Inspecting the arsonist, we found he’d stolen some of our reagents, and had a strange tattoo of a seven-pointed whirlpool-type shape on his arm. The dead thug also had Weeper’s Wail on his person.
The guard was looking for a group called the Shadow of the Braid, whose goal was to taint elementalists and bring in a Horror from another plane. She added that Weeper’s Wail was currently funding this dark group, and so it seemed our plans aligned.
We interrogated one of the foes we managed to take captive, and learned much. Of course, he required a blood oath that we would not turn him over to the guard, as certain death awaited him at the hands of his boss’s agents if this happened. This captive, Gronk, was one of the lieutenants of an ork named Shern, who operated out of the East-West tavern. Shern got his Weeper’s Wail from a t’skrang crew who operated in and out of the capital bubble, and distributed it further within the city. As Shern was an ork with many friends in high places, he was given a directive to run our trading company out of town for our earlier meddling. Gronk was the lieutenant chosen to put a group together for just this purpose. As far as the gear we sought to recover for Vix, Shern gave most of the swords to some other lieutenants of his, who generally stayed around the East-West. Gronk also, naturally, kept the best gear for himself.
A plan forming to assault the inn, we began asking more questions about Shern’s activities at the East-West. He usually did his business out of his own room there, and most of the people in the inn are loyal to him. More alarmingly, he had plenty of friends in the city guard. The level of poltiical and guard connections this man possessed was such that he had been able to get loyal followers out of prison before hanging charges, or even killed them before they’ve been able to get out in an effort to keep them quiet.
We left Gronk to convalesce in one of our rooms (under guard by our employees), then investigated the East-West. Peeking through a window with some broken slats, we saw a number of people preparing for a feast before the inn opened around midday. After Tywon imbued our armor with the power of elemental air, we attempted to batter down the back door and fight our way in by covering the stairs down in sorcerous ice. While we dealt with the foes down the way, the higher-ups including Shern made their escape through a window. Janine gave chase, with Lokan and Dave firing arrows to try and stop Shern, while the rest of us dealt with the remaining thugs in the East-West and hoped we could run down the perfidious gangster.