Shadow Chasing

Encounter Details

Following The Cedars Inquiry there are clearly some loose ends, as an open verdict should indicate. It is possible that the players will be motivated to dig a little further, and to do that we engage in an extended skills challenge that includes several encounters.

Following a little time spent in Fortuna it is possible that The Silk Glove are not inquisitive enough to feel drawn to meddling where they are not needed. If they really need a patron, then there are several possibles, firstly a factotum acting for Lord Cedars, dissatisfied with being obliged to leave an open verdict, might encourage them. Secondly, one of the several bards of Fortuna might be tempted to recruit agents to act on their part. Finally, there is House Lions itself - Stern Lions has been persuing this as well - in fact it was him who placed Shevek Palfrey onto House Butcher caravan taking the weapons to Stonespoke. He is unlikely to be trusted by The Silk Glove and he knows it, so he may act through another agent such as Celidah Of Canum.

There are several leads that could be followed up:

Riverside Foundry
The goods that were allegedly beng supplied to the orc tribes have been returned to the foundry where they were created. The foundry itself has been mothballed and rendered property of the state. Finding an example of that steel and comparing it to an example of the weapons that the orcs were using would make a stronger case.
Butcher and Sons Hauliers
Who commissioned the goods to be transported to Stonespoke? The mercanary group that went along with them disappeared, who were they and where were they from? Is avoiding taxation and registration for goods like these common?
Barfi Kord
Did he order the shipment and arrange for it's protection? Why no punishment for him?

Riverside Foundry

The snow lies all about as the party first come across the foundry, it sits between the river and a broad man-made pool that restricts access to a single gate at the north end. The pool is currently frozen however so entering the complex unobserved is easier. There is a wall around the perimeter bearing signs that read, "Private Property. Deadly force will be used to maintain security." The gate is warded by a watchman who has a cottage next to it, he lives there with a single dog and a little investigation will reveal that he is an alchoholic. A little further investigation (streetwise, moderate) will reveal that once a week, a butcher's wagon delivers a live pig to the foundry.

Getting into the foundry requires a moderate amount of thievery once the guard has been dealt with. The doors are locked (thievery, moderate) however if the walls can be scaled (climbing, moderate) then the ventilation louvres can be forced (thievery, easy) and the main gate unbarred and opened.

Within the foundry the furnaces are still kept warm by their captive elementals that can be seen held chained in pits below the great cauldrons. Great chimneys carry the was heat out from the place and vanes within them make a constant sound as they in turn drive air back into the hall. There are several office like buildings but the great central hall is clearly the goal.

Within the foundry hall's brick walls, there is a core that is crafted of windowless stone, that appears to present some kind of additional security. There are tracks in the floor for handcarts and a complicated points systems - these lead along a spiral passageway that run around the outside of the central chamber before arriving at stout doors that seal it.

The door to the chamber is secured with a significant lock though they could be picked (thievery, hard) however there is what appears to be a trap (perception, easy) attached to them. A little further investigation might reveal that there is a second trap (perception, hard) on the door.

From within the storage room the party could steal twenty thousand gold pieces worth of weapons (non-magical) however they are not very easily parried and will be hard to sell on. They can also take an example of the steel batons from the stash that was recovered from Tiniel.

The baton is five-fold steel, just the same as the orcish example (Puff bears one). However it bears the House Lions stamp, if the orcish weapon ever bore this stamp then it has been removed. A smith can tell the party that removing the stamp is difficult. An alchemist can spend some time and reagents (100gp) to come to the conclusion (perception, hard) that there are significant differences, drawing some doubt over the similar provenece of the weapons.

Butcher and Sons Hauliers

The household and business has been pretty shaken up by the inquiry and getting information out of them is a difficult business. It is a complexity 6 skills challenge to find out who set up the transport and who were the caravan guards.

The challenge starts with some predefined tasks that can be taken on by anyone.

Get Interview with Hamman Butcher (diplomacy, hard)
Failure means that the challenge will have to be undertaken through his staff rather than directly, success permits these challenges:
Threaten Hamman Butcher with further revelations (intimidate, medium)
Failure means that the interview ends.
Recognise that Butcher is motivated by appearances rather than truth (insight, medium)
Success permits the final closing roll in the interview.
Offer to conceal House Butcher involvement in further investigations (Bluff, moderate)
Convincing Hamman Butcher of this is worth two sucesses.

Once the interview is concluded, questioning has to be followed up with associates of Butcher and Sons Hauliers, neighbours and staff members.

Question staff members (intimidate or diplomacy, hard)
This may be repeated as many times as necessary.
Question neighbours (streetwise, moderate)
Only one attempt is permitted, success unlocks the following.
Speak to city watch (streetwise, moderate)
Only one attempt.
Speak to security staff (bluff, moderate)
Persuading the doormen that the boss says it's OK to chat alows this roll once only.
Speak to clients of the company (diplomacy, moderate)
This may be done once only.

Success reveals that the deal was set up by an agent for a third party named Chiral - Hamman never met him but he was obviously familiar with how this kind of business runs. He set up what is called a Duty Paid Resale purchase - this happens when a sale of goods fails after the tax as been paid but before the goods have been purchased. It permits the seller to sell the goods on to a third party within a week without having to pay tax a second time. Mr Chiral's agent had assured Hamman that the paperwork was in order, but Hamman was ultimately responsible and should have insisted on seeing it first.

When it came to finding caravan guards, Hamman thought that he had a stroke of luck. A ships marine company had presented itself as availble for service at very reasonable terms whilst their vessel, The Dirty Blade, was being careened. Their service was secured with a minmum of fuss, and along with the teamsters the caravan set off without trouble. At the last minute there was an addition to the roster - House Lions had insisted that a security consultant, Shevek Palfrey be added to the wagon train, travelling as a cartier.

Barfi Kord

Travelling up to Stonespoke is easily done and arrange for an interview is also fairly simple provided that the party is courteous (diplomacy, easy). It is clear that Barfi Kord is confident in his position here at Stonespoke, he is runs several of the main businesses above ground in the city and appears to be a convenient liaison with the Dwarven kingdom below. He is aware that the paperwork for the Duty Paid Resale purchase is the responsibility of the seller and that he is in the clear. He also freely admits that these kinds of transfers often screen tax evasion, but he has no part in this.

Asked about who set up the transfer, he describes a man named Mr Chiral, who approached him with the deal at exceedingly favourable terms. Since he had no knowledge of the man, he agreed only to a payment on delivery agreement, though he was prepared to meet a nominal sum for hauliage if Chiral met the fee for security, which was agreed. Barfi describes Chiral as a well built fighting man, with a scar beneath is right eye who had lost his left hand and wore a hook in it's place.

Having set up the deal, nothing further was heard until he was contacted by Lord Cedars.

Leaving Town

Having tracked down the names Chiral and The Dirty Blade, the party should hopefully find themselves asking questions in the docks of Fortuna. It is easy enough to find a record of The Dirty Blade registered by the harbour master (diplomacy, easy) a little more digging will tell the party that she was flying false colours and that she has another name. Finding the true name of that ship is a little more difficult and requires some digging in the less salubrious dockside bars (streetwise, normal) the party can keep rolling but each roll beyond the first costs 100gp in bar bills, bribes and repairs.

Success leads the party to discover that The Dirty Blade was actually named The Scalpel and is a merchant adventurer that sails out of Greenhaven on The Anvil. That means that she probably trades stolen goods and brokers ransoms. It appears that she left at the same time as the arms shipment and has not been seen since.

A passive perception of 12 will spot that their inquiry has raised a little interest and if they are quick they can strike fast in anticipation of an ambush, if they dither then the level of the encounter rises. The minimum level is one less than the party if they strike immediately, it rises quickly to two above if they leave the scene. This is a mixed crew of marines and sailors who are on the promise of a bounty should anyone ask questions of The Scalpel.

Greenhaven

The trail in Fortuna runs cold, the only option is to find passage to Greenhaven and here the party can call in favours or flash some money. One week later they make the tricky passage through the reefs and screening mangroves and into the hidden port of Greenhaven.

Time in the town is constrained as their return passage will leave within a day or two and so failure will result in healing surges lost. Investigation is a skills challenge and success will lead the party through Tigermane to Cemetery Beach.

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