April 17-18, 213 Tyr
The party continues their investigation of the recent murders in Darrow. Their search leads them to the Eastway mine, an abandoned side shaft of the main Darrow mine that now is now infested with the desert spiders. Unfortunately their progress is blocked by a large stone door which they are unable to open.
Upon returning to the surface the group is met by a messenger from the city guard. Apparently Marreesh, the Overseer of the Drag, had failed to report for duty that evening and the guard has yet to locate him.
The party hurries across town to search Marreesh’s apartment, hoping to find some clue as to where the missing man may have gone. They scour the apartment and find notes which reveal that Marresh too suspects that some criminal activity was going on at the Eastway Mine. The party also interviews one of Marreesh’s neighbors who reports that he had heard someone rushing off from Marreesh’s apartment several hours earlier, heading towards the Eastway district.
Despite the late hour, the group follows this lead to the Stonefire Inn in the Easway District where they interview the patrons, including the boastful Lord Hanley, in hopes that one of them may have seen Marreesh. No one had, however as the group is about to leave the inn Sid spots a large figure dashing down the street towards the old Eastway Mine. They noticed that the figure was carrying a large bundle, but the stranger quickly was out of sight.
The party was able to follow the stranger’s trail all the way to the old Eastway mineshaft and the mysterious locked stone door. However this time Gan takes decides that no imposing stone door is going to stop him; he takes up his sword and in a feat of brutal ferocity smashes his way through the carved stone.
On the other side the party finds a store room which has been converted into some sort of torture chamber. Strange alchemical components and vicious looking weaponry lie next to a table stained with what Arden is able to identify as the blood of one of the recent murder victims. However the mysterious figure they had chased across town is nowhere to be found. Realizing it is too late and the party is too tired to continue their chase, they alert the town guard as to what they had found and rent rooms in an upscale inn for the night.
In the morning, the party discovered that the duchess was missing. A note had been left behind by Gil Halfcutter, the owner of the Stonefire Tavern and a local crime lord, demanding the payment of 2,000 gold in return for the duchess. Gan informed the party that he once worked for Halfcutter and left the man’s employ after a botched job, but he didn’t go into the specifics. After brief preparation and strategizing, the party marched down to the Stonefire Tavern to retrieve the duchess and ensure that Halfcutter wouldn’t interfere anymore in their affairs.
The fight was short and decisive. Gan engaged Halfcutter with reckless abandon, throwing lit bottles of oil around the bar to confuse and frighten the enemy; Halfcutter’s flunkies were incapacitated by Joules’ sleep magic; Sid rained eldritch power down on their foes from the ceiling; and Arden and Maize burst through a window, flanking the defenders. Lord Hanley was present, and he attacked Joules (fairly) unprovoked, but once Halfcutter was bested and the party turned their attention towards the belligerent noble, he beat a hasty retreat.
The party carried Halfcutter upstairs to question him, and told the various remaining patrons and the just-arrived local constabulary that they were agents of the Combine on official business. They said that Halfcutter was involved in a plot to kidnap a visiting dignitary. After a brief and brutal interrogation conducted in Lord Hanley’s room, Halfcutter revealed that the duchess was in the care of the alchemist Wilhelm. Halfcutter continued to spout threats at the party despite being severely wounded and tied to a chair, and knowing that his pride would never allow him to swallow his losses, Gan dispatched the crime lord with some lantern oil and a flame. What effect Halfcutter’s horrifying and sudden demise will have on Darrow’s underworld politics remains to be seen.
A quick search of Lord Hanley’s room revealed a Witch Hunter’s talon stashed in a box underneath the bed. Coupled with his unprovoked attack on Joules, this would seem to suggest that he is a member of the magic-hunting group. A dagger emblazoned with his sigil was left behind, to confuse the local law enforcement and help build a case against him, if it comes to that.
Wilhelm proved very cooperative when the party confronted him with the knowledge of his role in the duchess’ kidnapping. He claimed that he had been forced to by Halfcutter, and he seemed far too terrified (and not enough of the criminal sort) to have been lying. He turned over the duchess in short order (indeed, he had little reason to keep her with Halfcutter dead,) and promised an assortment of discounts and unquestioned cooperation in the future.
With the duchess back and Halfcutter dead, the party’s next move seems to be returning to the mine and investigating the tunnels. A day and a half remains before Amarak destroys Darrow…