Chapter 02: Questions & Answers

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Session Number: 91
Date: Sunday 20 March 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

In the morning, Feren explains his task: to retrieve a hammer stolen from a local museum. He invites the others to attend a second meeting between himself and Prince Dimaan; Tomen declines. The others head off.

Feren leads the others to a richer part of town. The building they enter is large but otherwise unassuming. Feren talks briefly to the man at the desk. Shortly thereafter, a man with a large build, long dark hair and angular features enters the room. The only thing that reveals his station is the way the other man reacts in his presence. Feren inclines his head. It appears that the prince likes things informal, Rowaine notes. He looks a little like Prince Arthur, his older brother.

Feren introduces the others: Lady Rowaine Kharag of the Silver Hand, Arrian, a cleric of Corellon Larethian, and Lord Étella Roulae.

"…the dwarf," Troll appends. The prince looks at him rather quizzically then flicks a questioning glance at Feren, who offers the merest shrug of his shoulders as explanation.

"Welcome, companions of Feren," the prince says. "Let us not discuss matters on the doorstep! Come." He leads the party upstairs to a verandah overlooking an internal courtyard.

The party converse with the prince concerning the hammer's disappearance, ten days ago. It is known as the Hammer of Lawmeron, after its owner. The hammer's thief left evidence of his presence at the scene of the crime; footprints in the dirt and some clothing strands snagged on the corner of the chest that contained the hammer. The lock on the door had apparently been defeated by someone well-versed in skills taught at the thieves' guild.

The evidence points to the culprit being a human teenager named Argot, a member of Ashhope's thieves' guild who until now had confined his misdemeanours to the lower socioeconomic areas of the city. If he were indeed responsible for the theft, he would have been extending himself. Perhaps even overextending. Four days ago Argot's body was found by a local in Haul, a small village up the coast from Carthenage, two days away. The local reported the discovery to the sheriff who called in the guard from the capital city. When they investigated, they found Argot's body with clothes, weapons and other personally identifiable items still upon his person. It is not clear how he died; his weapons were stowed and unbloodied. It is unknown whether the hammer was offloaded in Ashhope or elsewhere. Argot had no known association with the village.

There is a knock on the door and a servant enters, begs pardon and whispers something into the prince's ear. Prince Dimaan excuses himself. In his absence, the party discuss their options. Arrian suggests that he and Feren pay a visit to the thieves' guild, where Feren has contacts. Rowaine suggests obtaining some sort of writ from the prince to lend authority to their investigation. She also proposes to pay the museum a visit.

Prince Dimaan returns, apologising that the meeting must be cut short as he has urgent matters to attend to. He looks worried.

"We will not take any more of your time, sir," Rowaine says. "We have but one small request which we will leave Feren to discuss." They leave and wait downstairs. Feren descends a few minutes later. The writ will be ready tomorrow morning.

Rowaine asks Feren about the nature of the prince's distress. A village has been attacked - not Haul. The prince is mobilising forces.

The party split up. Tomen visits the markets, asking around after Argot. Feren begins tracking down his contacts; Arrian tags along. Their work will continue well into the night.

Rowaine and Troll visit the museum. It is a large, old building. They enter and ask the woman seated in the lobby whether they might speak to the curator about the matter of the missing hammer. She asks the pair to wait and briskly walks off. She returns soon after with an older man bearing the air of someone in charge. Rowaine introduces herself and Troll, then asks about the hammer. The curator says that there is nothing missing from the museum's collection.

"Will it be missing tomorrow when we come back with a writ from the prince?" Troll says.

"When you come with that writ," the curator says, "I will talk to you." Troll pulls out one of his wands.

"What are you doing?" the curator says, backing away.

"Put it away, Troll," Rowaine says, her hand dropping gently onto Troll's forearm. "We will do this the way the gentleman wants to do it."

"I must ask you to leave!" the curator says. "Come on, Troll," Rowaine says, heading for the exit. Troll reluctantly stands down.

Outside, Troll convinces Rowaine that he return inside, invisible. "Don't blow anything up," Rowaine says. "Don't steal anything, either. Just find out what this curator is up to."

Troll casts a spell and disappears. He walks back into the museum and sees the curator talking to the woman at the door. "It was good that you came to me," he says. "If they come back tomorrow, come to me immediately." The man turns and walks away. Troll sneaks after him. The curator senses something out of place in his museum and turns around. "Reed, did you hear something?"

"No," the woman replies. The curator turns around and continues on his way, heading towards a door. Again he hears something.

"Who's there?" he says, turning around. "If you are there, show yourself!" He starts walking in Troll's direction. Troll tries to open the door with Dimension Reach, but cannot do much more than rattle the knob. The curator is too wily for Troll to risk doing much more. He retreats towards the woman sitting near the door. When she looks up, curious, Troll tips over her vase of flowers to cover his escape.

During the day Feren and Arrian learn that Argot has been a member of the thieves' guild for close to five years. He is regarded as ambitious and a keen student.

The party gather over dinner at the Smiling Monkey. Rowaine asks Arrian to prepare at least one Zone of Truth spell for the questioning tomorrow. Afterwards, Rowaine and Troll settle in while Feren and Arrian visit the thieves' guild. There, they learn that Argot was meant to have done something big a week and a half ago but has since gone missing. Feren's contacts with the thieves' guild do not know anything about any job to steal the Hammer of Lawmeron. Argot had no partner; he lived alone in a block of rough flats in the seedier side of town. Feren is told the address.

At about an hour before midnight, Feren and Arrian stand outside Argot's address, a large building divided into four flats. Two beggars sit outside. Arrian tosses them a copper each to better determine if they are genuine; the smell of stale urine and their unkempt appearance suggest they are.

The pair walk around the building, looking for any security measures or lack thereof. At one end are a pair of doors to what might be the building's basement. The area is not well lit. Arrian casually inspects the doors for traps, finding none. The door is unlocked. Feren opens it and they slip inside.

The basement runs the length of the building. Its dirt floor is divided into four by long planks dug into the earth, sitting on their edges. Each area has a stairway leading to a trapdoor in the timber ceiling above.

Arrian and Feren walk to Argot's area and Arrian climbs the stairs. The trapdoor does not appear dangerous, but is secured with a padlock. Feren makes short work of it and opens the trapdoor. The two rogues quietly climb up.

The flat is a simple, single room. The only piece of furniture within is an unmade bed, surrounded by a number of sheets of paper. A thorough search reveals no traps or anything untoward. Written on the six papers are accounts of previous burglaries: the item in question, the value of the job, and a name. All but one also include a circled number between 1 and 5: some sort of system rating how well Argot performed the job. The exception is for one Hammer of Lawmeron, under which is written '50,000 gold!' The phrase has been heavily underlined. The job is not rated. Arrian collects the paper and the two leave the way they came.

Argot does not come across as a particularly clever thief.

The next morning Arrian and Feren share their findings with the others. On their way to meet Prince Dimaan, they see thirty armed soldiers walking away from his building. Arrian tries to make conversation but it must not be in the soldiers' brief. Inside, they are led up to the verandah where the prince is seated, looking over his courtyard. He looks distressed. Feren asks whether the writ of authority is ready; the prince hands him a leather scroll case. Feren opens and inspects the writ. It grants himself (and anyone within his presence that he designates) the right to pursue the investigation of the missing hammer, unhindered. It only applies within the bounds of Ashhope. Arrian talks about their plan to begin by interviewing the museum curator and the guardsman responsible for the initial investigation. The prince says that the guard is away on urgent business.

Arrian briefs the prince on their discoveries to date, including showing him Argot's indiscreet notes. "That's quite a large sum of money," the prince says after seeing the note concerning the missing hammer. "I don't know many people outside of the nobility that could afford such a fee." Rowaine asks about the urgency about the prince's court and whether it might be linked to the hammer's disappearance. The prince does not believe so, telling the party that a town has recently been attacked. "I'm sure you have matters to attend to," Rowaine says, standing up. The party leave, heading for the museum. Along the way, Troll hides himself with an Invisibility spell. Rowaine says that once they have established the location of the hammer exhibit, that Troll should invisibly investigate while the others interview the curator.

The woman in the lobby sees the party enter the museum and promptly walks away towards a door. Tomen decides not to wait and strolls inside. The others stay near the entrance. The woman returns shortly thereafter with the curator. "Can I help you?" he says in tones that suggest he is not at all interested in helping. Feren shows the curator the prince's writ. He reads it carefully and inspects the wax seal. He looks annoyed.

"We have questions," Arrian says. "May we ask them of you in private?" The curator leads the group to his office. Arrian introduces the party. The curator's name is Crarn. He seems to relax somewhat once Rowaine is introduced as a paladin, but then tenses up as Arrian stands, walks behind Rowaine and starts casting a spell.

"What are you doing?" Crarn asks. Arrian completes the spell: Zone of Truth. "I have merely cast a spell that encourages you to be truthful," Arrian explains. Crarn looks at the writ on his desk. "I can't ask you to leave, so…"

Rowaine takes her cue. "Would you mind telling us where the hammer is ordinarily kept?" Crarn describes the exhibit's location. Rowaine gets up and opens the door, looking out and allowing Troll to exit.

Arrian and Rowaine take turns asking questions of the curator. The hammer was originally owned by a well-travelled hero called Uther Lawmeron who disappeared some fifty years ago. The hammer itself had no magical properties; its worth lay in its symbolism. Uther Lawmeron was such a well-known and highly regarded personality of the area that cities around the human empire immortalised him. The local hero and his hammer watch over the streets as a symbol of heroism.

Meanwhile, Troll inspects the exhibit, a low marble pedestal covered by a tall glass box hinged at the front. The words "The Hammer of Lawmeron" are written on a placard on the pedestal's front. There is a circular hole in the top of the pedestal, conspicuously empty. Behind the pedestal is a statue of man holding a hammer aloft. Troll can detect no magic about the exhibit. Opposite, an hourglass is housed in a similar glass case. The hourglass radiates magic. The placard on the pedestal identifies the exhibit as 'Zonya's hourglass.' Troll has heard the name but does not remember the context. After ensuring he is alone he dispels his Invisibility spell and turns back to the hammer exhibit. The wear on the tile floor suggests many people have been here over the years. The pedestal, glass case and statue are pristine.

Back in Crarn's office, the curator says he is not aware of anyone or any group wanting the hammer stolen. When not on display in the museum, the hammer and a small number of other priceless items are kept in an underground storage room beneath the guard barracks across the street. This fact is not widely known; only the curators and a handful of people from the court are party to that information. The door to the storage room is the only way in or out, and is ordinarily locked and guarded by two men, one of which is stationed outside the room at all times. The hammer was taken at night while in storage. The large, locked chest it was normally stored in was forced open, but strangely, the door was not. Nothing else was taken. Crarn doesn't know much more about the incident.

The museum has four curators. Arrian asks for a meeting with all four curators and the guards; Crarn says he will arrange for the curators to attend such a meeting this evening, but says that he is not responsible for the guards.

Rowaine asks to see where the hammer is ordinarily displayed. Crarn leads the group to the exhibit. Rowaine makes sure her boots make sufficient noise on the tiled floor to alert Troll of their impending arrival.

Crarn turns the corner into the room that houses the hammer exhibit, somewhat startled to see Troll. "He's with us," Rowaine explains.

"Can I open the case?" Troll asks the curator. "What will happen?"

"Nothing," Crarn says. "There are guards watching though, through there." Crarn points down a corridor where a guard sits at a desk, arms folded.

"Can I open it?" Troll repeats. Crarn appears conflicted. "Yes," he says. Troll manoeuvres behind the pedestal, in between it and the statue, careful not to knock his head on the statue's elbows. He unfastens the clasp and carefully tilts the glass case away from him. The guard watches his every move. Troll looks thoughtful, closes the case and returns to the others.

Troll is casing the exhibit - he wants the hourglass!

Rowaine thanks the curator for his assistance and the group leave, heading for the guardhouse. It is a relatively small building. A guard sitting at a desk greets them as they enter. Rowaine requests to be shown to the museum's storage area, nodding to Feren to show him the prince's writ. Troll Detects Magic but cannot see any in this first room. The guard inspects the document then leads the group through two rooms containing desks, bookcases and shelving. Troll Detects no magic about the rooms. Arrian asks for the guard's name; it is Garon. He leads the group to a door to the left and into a short hallway. A guard stands outside a locked wooden door in the right hand wall.

"That is the door to the basement," Garon explains.

"Can you open it, please?" Arrian asks.

"The key isn't held here," Garon says. "The museum people have keys, as do the night shift guards." Arrian asks Feren about the lock quality. It is quite intricate; Feren would have rather a hard time picking it.

Rowaine excuses herself and returns to the museum. She asks the curator for the storage room keys. They are stored in a desk drawer in another locked office belonging to a curator named Jack. The offices are all keyed identically.

Rowaine returns to the guardhouse with the keys to the door and chests. She unlocks and opens the door.

"I presume there have been people coming and going through here since the theft?" she asks Garon.

"Yes, lady," Garon replies.

Troll Detects no magical emanations. The party descend the wooden stairs into the basement, accompanied by Garon. The room has an uncovered earthen floor with three closed chests along the far wall. Its walls are of wooden-lined compacted earth. The ceiling above is made of timber which forms the floor of an office above.

The party fan out and begin thoroughly searching the basement. They cannot find any traps or concealed exits. There has been too many movements for Tomen to be able to make sense of the myriad of tracks. Rowaine confirms with Garon that the room is used exclusively by the museum. Arrian suggests that Harley might be useful.

"Stand back, will you all?" Rowaine says. Arrian explains to Garon what is about to happen:

"You are going to be completely safe, but it's going to be a bit scary. You may want to stand back."

"What is it?" Garon asks.

"A giant wolf that can fly."

Rowaine summons Harley, climbs on and sinks into the floor. Troll summons a Disc and levitates to the ceiling, looking for clues. A minute later, Rowaine returns. Harley growls her strange language; Rowaine nods in understanding.

"Harley saw many other basements dug out of the earth," she says, "but there is nothing connected to this one." Troll completes his search, finding only a few loose boards. They turn their attention to the chest. Arrian opens the lid. Inside is a black velvet cloth that bears a semipermanent hammer-shaped dent. Feren inspects the chest's lock; it has been forced open and is now broken. It too is a masterwork lock; Feren believes he would struggle to defeat it and would probably have to resort to noisy violence. Rowaine asks Garon whether any of the guards stationed here have disappeared within the past ten days. Garon shakes his head. She then asks for the three night guards to attend a meeting at the museum later this evening. Garon says he will arrange it. The party thank the guard and depart. Rowaine returns the keys to Crarn.

That evening the party return to the museum. The four curators and the three guards are present. Introductions are made. The guards' names are Dageth, Jemaine and Huack. No one appears particularly worried. Rowaine describes the purpose of the meeting while Arrian begins casting Zone of Truth.

"Did any of you steal the Hammer of Lawmeron?" Rowaine asks, shooting from the hip. All in turn say that they did not. "Did any of you have anything to do with the theft of the hammer?" Again, no. Dageth indicates that he was not on duty that night.

Rowaine continues. "Were there any disturbances or anything out of the ordinary on the night of the theft?" Troll pulls out a wand and begins mumbling something in draconic. "Please continue the questioning," he says, arcing the wand at everyone present.

"Hang on a moment, let me think…" Huack says, one of the two guards present that night. "Some stuff was going on outside the guardhouse… Some people were fighting."

"Were you always at your posts at the appropriate times?" Arrian asks.

"No," Huack says. "No, we weren't. I went out to break up the fight."

"Who was guarding the door?" Rowaine asks.

"Me," Jemaine says.

"Is there anything that you're not wanting us to know about that night?" Arrian asks them both.

"No," says Huack. Jemaine stays quiet. Rowaine is sure that Huack is lying. She is not the only one.

"Hang on," Troll says, his wand swinging between the two guards. "The wand of death is picking up something here…"

"Answer the question, please," Arrian says.

"You are implicating yourself by your silence," Rowaine says to Jemaine.

"Alright," Jemaine says. "So when we were switching over, that's when he went to go see about the fight. So for a short time the door wasn't guarded."

"Explain it to me," Rowaine says.

"It was about an hour after midnight," Jemaine says. "I was guarding the door when my turn ended. Him here," he says, pointing at Huack, "he was supposed to come over and relieve me but he didn't come. So I went out to the desk and he's not even there. He's gone outside and is talking to some people about a fight. I suppose the door was unguarded for a few minutes."

Troll points the wand at Huack and utters the command word, casting Charm Person. Huack shrugs off the compulsion. "What are you doing?" he says. "That was scary!" Troll barks out the command word again. "Stop it!" Huack says, valiantly fighting off the spell.

"Did either of you have anything to do with the hammer's disppearance?" Rowaine asks the two guards.

"Well, we did leave the door unguarded," Jemaine begins, "but we didn't open the door, or give the keys to anyone."

Troll casts the wand's Charm Person spell a third time at Huack. This time the compulsion is too strong. The guard grins mindlessly at Troll.

"Did you have anything to do with the theft?" Arrian asks the guards.

"No," says Jemaine. "We're not associated with the thieves' guild!" He sounds as if he's now hiding something. Arrian attracts Huack's attention. "Troll has some questions for you, go with him." Huack looks at Troll for confirmation. Troll nods his head, smiles and leads Huack into the corridor.

Huack says that he must have left the key on the reception table by accident. He sees Troll's disapproving eyes and nearly cries. Troll leads him back to the meeting room, shaking his head to the others.

"This fight," Rowaine says to Huack. "Tell me more about that."

"Who was involved?" Arrian adds.

"I'd rather not say," Huack says, looking at Troll, who nods his head, urging him on. "Alright then. Two people were running rampant down the street outside the guardhouse, fighting. I was sitting near the window and saw them pass. One of them was my brother so I went out to try and break it up. I got jostled around a bit but once Jemaine came out to help we got the two of them under control. I made sure my brother was alright, then went back inside. It was then that I realised that the basement door key wasn't on my belt. Jemaine and I ran to the basement, and bugger me if the damned door didn't just open in my hands. It was unlocked. We both went down. That's when we discovered the big chest lying open and the hammer missing."

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