Chapter 11: Conspiracy Theories

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Session Number: 82
Date: Sunday 9 January 2011
Venue: Fergus'
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr8 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Feren Rog9 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal9 (Craig) (kills: none)
Tomen Rgr9 (Ash) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz9 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBC

Morning arrives and the party gather over breakfast. Troll looks better than he has previously; reducing his research hours seems to be paying dividends. Arrian pays particular attention to him, staying close and trying to be friendly.

The party talk about the neogi. Princess Ethalyn does not believe them capable of breathing underwater. She has heard that they have invented machines that enable them to fly. The race has a reputation for foul deeds, but Ethalyn does not know if the race is inherently evil.

Shortly after breakfast a runner arrives at the Roasted Goat, bidding Rowaine follow him for an audience with Lord Fallowhay. Tomen accompanies her. Arrian spends the morning in his temple.

Gershwin Fallowhay meets his visitors. He asks how Tomen's conversation seeking permission to reveal the boat's location went. Tomen says he can lead someone to the site. Gershwin says he will get one of his men to go along. Rowaine asks if Gershwin was able to find out more about the boats' power sources. He responds in the negative. With nothing more to say, the trio make to leave. Gershwin calls for a servant.

Tomen leads Rowaine and Gershwin's man to the warehouse. It has no signage, unlike most other buildings in view. It looks occupied and well secured. There are a number of windows in the first floor wall, all intact. It is quiet within. The servant thanks Tomen and stands by, expecting him to leave. Rowaine and Tomen do just that.

Arrian talks to one of the priests at his temple about the undercity. The elf describes the place as mostly chaotic, mostly abandoned by civilised society. The church of Corellon Larethian does not minister to anyone belowdecks, even the aquatic elves - there is plenty of work up here. Most of Aquilla's buildings have basement levels, some of which are still watertight but most are flooded. Some areas are inhabited by denizens of the deep - sharks and worse. The elf has heard rumour of slavers.

At lunchtime, Arrian heads back to the inn, meeting Rowaine, Tomen and Feren. They decide to investigate the other missing people mentioned in the posters.

Rowaine notes the details of a second poster, a missing fisherman named Jared sought by his wife. The group go to the address and Rowaine knocks on the door.

They are greeted by an attractive young woman who is lost without her Jared, missing for about a month. Oddly, she has not spoken to Aquilla's authorities about the disappearance, instead choosing to put up the posters. Rowaine cannot understand this seemingly huge omission - perhaps a cultural difference? Tomen thinks the woman is merely stupid. Jared is a trawler, a fisherman on a small boat dragged astern of Aquilla. He was out at night, alone - something that he wasn't supposed to be doing. When they discovered that his boat was still out the following morning the early morning shift retrieved it but Jared was not aboard. The woman does not remember the name of person who told her the news. She has never been to the dock where his boat is berthed; she cannot stand the smell of fish. There has been no response to her posters. She thinks Rowaine's suggestion of going to the authorities is a good one, and she makes to leave.

Rowaine, Arrian and Feren seek out the third missing husband: Jacob, son on Krin. The poster mentions a silver piece reward for any information leading to his recovery. Feren and Arrian approach the door. The woman who answers the door is in her forties, short and rather rotund. Her name is Mary, Jacob's husband. She offers tea.

Jacob was a cleaner who went missing while working at the docks cleaning the side of the ship, two days ago. Martin is his boss. Mary thinks Jacob must have fallen off. She has reported the incident to the authorities but has not yet heard back from them. When asked about his friends, Mary mentions his workmates. Jacob was a very studious man, spending much time at the library, always learning something new. He was not acting unusual in the time preceding his disappearance. Arrian winds up, mentioning to Mary that he stays at the Roasted Goat should she think of anything else.

Perhaps Troll should ask after Jacob at the library? Maybe his boss knows more? Jared was self-employed, but Harold must have had a supervisor. The three return to Harold's residence and learn from his wife that his boss' name is Taryn. Time to find out more from middle management…

The docks are not fenced. Rowaine finds a supervisor and asks for either Martin or Taryn. The supervisor says their full names: Martin Hogsmith, Taryn Kathil. Both are to be found at Dock 7, the starboardmost dock at the stern of the ship. When asked of disappearances, the supervisor gets very defensive and denies everything, warning Rowaine that if she or her companions are spreading rumours, he will have them up before the captain.

The three wander towards Dock 7, quietly discussing how to talk to the supervisors without getting thrown out - or possibly off. All the docks appear to be well-kept, those towards the centre somewhat longer and sturdier than those towards the edges, making the dockside roughly V-shaped. The outer docks seem to be have the most boat movements. Dock 7's street frontage is roughly fifty feet wide and the port itself extends some two hundred feet back.

Rowaine talks to a man with a clipboard at Dock 7, asking to speak to either Martin or Taryn. When asked about the nature of her business, Rowaine says it is employment-related. The man points out a bearded fellow inspecting the side of the wharf, identifying him as Martin. The group walk over and Arrian introduces himself, saying that he wishes to ask about Jacob. Martin seems annoyed, saying that Jacob hasn't been showing up for work. When asked whether Jacob had gone missing, Martin replies that nobody goes missing around here, and that the dock has watchers. The last time he saw Jacob was a couple of days ago. He came into work then went home at the end of his shift, as indicated by the sign-in and sign-out sheets that employees use. Martin uses the word "obviously", which makes Rowaine uneasy. The records are used for payroll and are kept at the harbourmaster's office. Jacob was a good employee who had worked at the dock off and on for the past 25 years. Martin believes that Jacob decided he didn't want to come to work any more, and as such, his employment has been terminated. Jacob was a crewman, as are all the dock's employees. Dock 7 essentially leases space for self-employed trawler operators. The harbourmaster keeps records about trawler contracts. Taryn is not at work today. Martin appears to be a very busy man; the adventurers thank him for his time and return to the man with the clipboard.

Tomen looks for suspicious activity around the dock but cannot see much from this distance. The trawlers themselves are obscured by other vessels and equipment; he cannot see whether they are all out or not. Rowaine asks the man whether they might be allowed to visit the trawling operators. He says they will all be out. He keeps record of day-to-day trawler operations, then passes the records to the harbourmaster. Arrian asks if any of the trawlers was called Jared. The man immediately becomes defensive, asking questions in return and saying that Jared no longer works at the docks.

Rowaine advocates going to the guard with the information they have collected to date. Feren and Arrian accompany her while Tomen seeks out the princess. Rowaine speaks to the same guard she saw previously. He recognises Rowaine and begins by saying that the captain has not yet deemed it necessary to call upon mercenaries yet. Rowaine discloses the information they have gleaned so far. The elf's body language suggests he already knows this, which he confirms when Arrian asks. Arrian talks about the defensive nature of the dock's workers, saying he is suspicious of a cover-up. Rowaine mentions the harbourmasters' logs of employee movements, hinting that they might reveal something. The guard says that after a thorough investigation that included employee logs, that the guard are satisfied that the people in question did leave work and in fact may have left the ship by normal means. Rowaine asks whether the investigation included verifying the person's handwriting, worried that information might have been falsified. The guard thinks it highly unlikely. He goes on to describe that on Aquilla, should a crewman employee be injured while working, all expenses are covered by the employer and the employee remains on full pay. If an employee dies or is lost, their next of kin is compensated in proportion to what the employee might hope to earn over the remainder of their life. The clear implication is that the person's spouses might be telling falsehoods to improve their lot. Arrian says that the handwriting on the logs might give powerful evidence one way or the other. The guard repeats that the investigation is closed, that they are satisfied with their findings, that the men had indeed logged out, but adds that they simply do not have the resources to examine every log entry.

Rowaine queries the claim that Jared the fisherman logged out, thinking back on the conversation she had with his wife. The guard says he believes that is what happened. Rowaine asks how they found out about that, given that he is said to have disappeared at night and that his wife has not approached the authorities. The guard launches into a long explanation of how trawling operations work on Aquilla that does not quite ring true to Rowaine's sensibilities. Something about their investigation…

Rowaine winds up and they leave, more confused than when they arrived. Is the guard corrupt, or merely witholding sensitive information from the public? Arrian thinks the latter is more likely. Should they talk to another guard in future? Might the spouses be lying to win a big payout, or for some other reason? But if that were true, why then would Jared's wife not have approached the authorities? Perhaps the men simply did disappear after work?

Arrian thinks the group needs to keep an eye on Dock 7 and to find Taryn. Rowaine thinks they need to speak to another member of the guard. Arrian thinks that perhaps he and Rowaine should speak to their respective orders regarding the trustworthiness of the guard. It's not out of the question to do all of that, but it's already nearly midday…

Rowaine speaks to Crane, Arrian to a priest of Corellon Larethian. They both believe the guard is quite effective and have never heard of any corruption within its ranks - the captain deals very harshly with that sort of thing.

From church, Arrian goes to the pub. Specifically, the pub closest to Dock 7, an establishment called the Sea Urchin. He orders a beer.

Rowaine wanders past the warehouse that Tomen identified as the site of the exploded boat. Two aquatic elves guard its open doors. Rowaine nods, telling them to give her regards to Lord Fallowhay.

Feren and Tomen continue to trawl the local news networks for any information on missing people. Rowaine joins them for a while, concentrating her efforts around Dock 7.

Arrian asks the bartender whether he knows Taryn Kathil. He has heard the name but explains that this is a worker's tavern and suggests that he go to the Copper Coin, by Dock 4. Arrian continue to make some discreet inquiries about the guard, then heads back to the Roasted Goat for dinner.

Troll, Shalélu and Ethalyn arrive late for dinner. Troll mentions that they are on the track of another boat. He thinks they will have answered the riddle of its location soon. During a discreet moment, Rowaine asks Troll about the princess. Troll is embarrassed by the whole affair and plainly does not wish to discuss it.

After dinner, Feren goes to the Blackened Knife along with Arrian, who has asked to join him. Rowaine goes to the Copper coin along with Tomen.

Alone with his sister, Feren asks Ethalyn how go the plans for Troll. She says that his reaction has been quite cold. Feren asks whether Ethalyn plans to continue her efforts; she does. She has been given a royal decree.

On the way to the Copper Kettle, Rowaine and Tomen divert past the warehouse. Two different guards stand outside the doors which are now closed and locked. The pair continue without stopping and enter the Copper Coin. While ordering drinks, Rowaine asks the bartender about Taryn. He points him out; he's sitting behind them. Rowaine turns around. Taryn is an aquatic elf.

Rowaine learns that Taryn usually drinks white wine, orders one and takes it over to his table. She offers the drink. Taryn invites her to sit down. She mentions missing persons posters looking for Harold. Taryn says that Harold left his employ. Suspicious, he establishes that Rowaine is neither a family member nor from the authorities, and quickly terminates the conversation. Rowaine excuses herself and leaves the tavern. Tomen stays to keep an eye on Taryn. His mark leaves at about an hour before midnight. Tomen tails him.

At the Blackened Knife, Feren and Arrian find Antonio. Feren buys him a drink and introduces Arrian, then talks to Antonio about adding more names to the harbourmaster's roll. Antonio plays dumb, perhaps put off by Arrian's presence. Arrian excuses himself. Antonio asks after Arrian, saying that he doesn't trust him. Feren again asks about the roll. Antonio says anything is possible, if you have the money.

A thirty year old woman wanders over to their table, a sword and dagger easily swinging at her hip. Antonio introduces her as Karen. Arrian returns to the table and Feren introduces him, then asks Karen about the undercity.

Karen says that there are very few people that live in the undercity. She goes there to explore. She hasn't heard anything about slavers. When she inquires about the pair, Arrian says that they are doing jobs that may conflict with slavers. Karen says that it is a big place underneath, bigger than on top. Arrian wishes to 'enter into a mutually beneficial arrangement with someone that could help.' Karen says that may be possible, but that there is a matter of hers that needs clearing up first. She was recently involved in a commercial affair that has gone slightly wrong. She finds herself in the unfortunate position of being in possession of four trunks of goods, mostly food, that she doesn't want. The people that were going to buy… well, they're not there any more. She looks the pair up and down, saying that if they buy the goods, then maybe she will point them in the right direction. A price of 35 gold is agreed. Karen says to meet at a warehouse near Dock 1 the morning after tomorrow. Arrian excuses himself and leaves Feren with Antonio. Once Arrian leaves, Antonio again says he doesn't like him.

Back at the Roasted Goat, Rowaine asks Shalélu how Troll and Ethalyn's interactions have been. Shalélu becomes agitated and defensive, saying she is tired and doesn't know what Rowaine is talking about.

"If it is because you simply doesn't want to talk about matters to do with your employer, then that is fine," Rowaine says. "Say it and I will be at rest." Shalélu nods, saying that she feels like she betrayed Troll when she talked to Rowaine before.

Arrian finds Rowaine and briefs her regarding his talk with Karen and their upcoming transaction. Arrian wants all the party to be present. Rowaine says she will be there, and suggests that perhaps they gift the goods to their respective orders to distribute.

The next morning, Arrian suggests that Feren find out where Taryn lives. Rowaine is interested in finding out more of the supposed widows' background - particularly if they are trying to work the system for their own benefit. Arrian and Feren assist. Tomen spends his time talking to locals about Dock 7.

Over dinner that night, the party discuss their findings. Troll's research continues with no major breakthroughs. Rowaine, Arrian and Feren have not spotted any nefarious activity regarding the wives of the missing men. Tomen discovers that Dock 7 is getting a bit of a reputation of being a dangerous place to work. Some are deciding not to risk it and are packing in their jobs. The dock is a little understaffed at present.

As night deepens Feren borrows Tomen's Hat of Disguise and assumes the form of a nondescript elf. He visits the Copper Coin and spies Taryn, who leaves shortly before midnight. Feren discreetly follows him but loses him around a corner near Dock 7.

Morning arrives, the day of the transaction with Karen. Arrian convinces Troll that he should be there. The entire party save Ethalyn walk to the warehouse around midmorning.

Two guards armed with crossbows linger outside the warehouse's open doors. The transaction happens without incident, everyone noting that Karen brought backup also. Arrian asks about the less tangible part of the deal. Karen says that the people he is after work in the undercity and come abovedecks around the edges of Aquilla. There are some basements that lead to the undercity, but nearly all are locked up or flooded and are therefore unusable from either direction. Apparently, if you can swim and hold your breath for a while, you can get there - that is how Karen does it. She believes the people the party are after are using some form of aquatic creature as transport. It is rumoured that the creatures are coming up around the starboard edge, one street up from the docks. Arrian thanks Karen for the information and gives her another gold coin. The party transport the trunks on two of Troll's Discs. Transporting them to the two temples attracts a fair amount of attention.

Around lunchtime, Arrian, Tomen and Feren head out to the ship's edge that Karen indicated. Rowaine heads to a guard station near the area.

There are many places that someone could slip over the side unseen. The ship's edge is a wooden street surrounded by a low wall. Beyond the wall, the dark stained timber of the boat curves downwards towards the sea. On the road's opposite side are rows of two-storey houses.

Tomen checks for evidence of things crawling up or down the boat's edge and quickly finds grappling hook marks over a thirty or forty foot stretch. Arrian walks to the closest door and knocks. There is no answer so he moves next door. An old man answers. Arrian says that the man has a very convenient window, would he be interested in renting a room? The man looks bewildered and tells Arrian to leave. Feren has similar luck with the next resident.

Rowaine talks to a guardsman about about Dock 7 and the rumours of movements between Aquilla and the undercity around the ship's edge nearby. The guard writes down Rowaine's statement and thanks her, saying he shall pass it on. Rowaine asks if there is an investigation already under way. The guard says he is not at liberty to discuss.

Arrian spends the remainder of the day sword training. Tomen tries to find any more information about a resident named Taryn, and whether there are any houses for rent in the area. Feren asks around about any new missing persons reported. Rowaine asks the widows' neighbours subtle questions about the women's character.

Everyone discusses their day over dinner. No one has discovered anything untoward or particularly interesting. Feren originally planned to tail Taryn again in the evening, but something came up.

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