Olarune 21, 998 YK
The heroes spent their first night of protective custody out on the bridges and byways of Sharn, getting a head start on their investigations. They headed down to Lower Menthis to join up with Agent at the location where Aric Blacktree‘s body disappeared, but before they could arrive they came across a strange scene – a Shifter with the features of some kind of deer ran out into their path, followed by a mob of bloodthirsty, fanatical humans wearing amulets which bore the symbol of the Silver Flame. They dispatched the humans and Elias used the opportunity to loot two nearby shops, acquiring two potions and a wand, all unidentified, in the process. It was only when the dust settled that their Watch escort, a portly older sergeant, finally caught up to them, and demanded that they also bring the young Shifter in for questioning — a task made more difficult as he was still in a panic and now careening madly away from the obviously dangerous newcomers. Quercia’s cat caught up to him and managed to pin him without hurting him though, and he reluctantly fell in with the group.
They reached the very bottom of Lower Menthis and found Agent standing perfectly still in the middle of five bodies, all with their skulls split open and their brains removed. Agent invited them to contribute their own efforts to his earlier, cursory investigations, and they quickly came across a blood trail a few yards out from the scene — apparently outside Agent’s normal investigation range protocols — and, after communing with some of the local birds, learned that Aric’s body had been taken away by what the avian minds could only describe as a “wrong thing”. They followed the trail to the nearest shaft down into the Cogs, in Lower Dura, but the entrance was completely blocked off by a crowd of Warforged foundry workers in the middle of a protest for fairer wages. The heroes did some checking around, and three things became apparent:
1. The Warforged were being organized by a mysterious half-construct, half-human creature resembling the presumed-dead Moira d’Cannith.
2. Moira d’Cannith, or whoever was under all that armor and Warforged plating, is actually a sort of ambassador for the being known as the Lord of Blades, whom the workers apparently hold in high regard.
3. The management being recalcitrant, and the Warforged protesters having no need for rest or food, meant that there was no sign of the way into the shaft being cleared any time soon. This thread would need to be picked up later.
The heroes finally retired to their apartments in the watch garrison in Middle Menthis, but not before Elias drank one of his two stolen potions. Its effect was immediate, transforming his physical form into that of a female elf. He took the transformation in stride.
The next day they trekked to Upper Menthis, where everyone but Bird visited the second crime scene: Bren ir’Gadden’s apartment. They found it every bit as bloody and ransacked as they had been told. Skull invited them to search the premises, which her investigators had not been able to do in anything but a superficial capacity thus far. Quercia found a hidden cache which contained gold, fungible gems, a pair of Goblin Stompers, and a journal whose last six months of entries were in a similar script to the papers found in Aric Blacktree’s town house. Skull informed them that it looked like an old Brelish military cypher, and that the only people who could crack it were House Sivis. As they left Bren’s apartment they encountered Luca Syara, an Eladrin playwright who apparently knew Bren for some time and needed his help getting her out of debt. She told the heroes that she could be found in Lower Menthis and left, looking troubled. They traveled to the nearest Sivis enclave and dropped the documents off to be deciphered.
Meanwhile, Bird had traveled to Morgrave University to pay a visit to the strange prodigy who was rumored to know more about Xen’Drik than most of her professors. He made his way to an old academic hybrid commune/dormitory and introduced himself to the girl, who turned out to be named Dala Arand. She expressed friendly curiosity as she invited Bird in and invited him to tea, but after only a few moments she revealed that she knew of Doctor Dad and that she had some kind of close ties to The Ornithologist. Bird tried to press her for more information, but she left for class, leaving no opportunity for Bird to follow.
The decoded documents were as follows:
Bren’s Diary: The coded entries grew more and more troubled and confused, rambling about a watcher in the darkness, the “serpents of the Chamber,” and it ended with, “I think it will make its move soon. Perhaps they can help me. By the Host, let them be able to help me.”