The party rested at the top of the Tower of Sorrows for a “night” despite their obliviousness to the position of the sun. The rest was welcome after the struggle with the undead but they slept and meditated uneasily in the dim, thick air of the undercity. A brief discussion suggested that they prefered to emerge from the unknown door in the House of Might rather than definitely springing out from a floor board of the Palace. They moved quietly and carefully, keeping their distance from the huge, skeletal cyclops that stood motionless in the garden. They crunched over the fallen skeletons of Eladrin soldiers and through the gates of the House of Might.
Past the empty barracks’ beds, up the spiral staircases to the modern iron hatch in the ceiling of the tower. Kinaa, Amata, Vikram and Collain gathered under the hatch and shoved. With a sudden, sickening creak the hatch exploded open. As the party climbed through the door, they emerged into a dusty, spicy air that filled a small, dark hallway. By the light of Narayan’s witchlight the bodies in the alcoves of the hallway appeared pale and green. It was from them that the spices emanated, and tar too.
Suddenly the door at the far end of the corridor burst open and a woman bearing a holy symbol emerged, backlit by torchlight, to drive them away in the name of Cyprissar. When it became apparent that the intruders were quite alive, the Priestess changed her attitude. Seeing that some Eyrie-born were among the group, she offered an exception to the rules against the presence of the uninitiated in the bowels of the temple. In exchange, she demanded that the Dragonborn swear on their Dragon Gods to locate her brother, Yustan Vinter, who was taken as a slave several years ago, and to convey to her whether he be dead or alive, and the price of his freedom. The party waited in a small hidden closet for a long time as the Priestess explains away the incident to the temple guards, then they were led into the open air in initiate’s robes.
It is night outside, and the party wandered for several hours looking for a familiar street. The air was thin, at least compared to the undercity’s musk, though new smells of dung and human waste confronted them here. At last they found their way to The Cast Helm, pounded on the door for entry, and stumbled into their rooms to collapse, soiling the clean linens.
After a breakfast of grittlecakes, the party divided the coins they had found and ran their errands. A debate took place in which the option of counterfeiting the dagger by replacing it with another was weighed and rejected. They were concerned that handing the dagger over to Jacquard’s client might bring more trouble but could not conclude a better plan, and knew well that they hadn’t the gold to make up for it. Each party member took up the dagger with varying reactions to the sudden sense of their blood relatives’ pumping blood by their ears. Collain lamented the fact that the dagger might be the only way to track down the family that had abandoned him.
Desirous of speaking to the Loyalist Tieflings of the city, the party went down to the Slough to find Liaz and ask her for assistance. Although she had been bruised in her last investigations of the Tieflings, a little extra coin from Kinaa made her eager to take the group to Lord Droette, who had apparently expressed interest in meeting them. Liaz led them through the city and into the marble quarter, explaining that Droette is a friend of King Galaferey, who tolerates Droette’s religious eccentricities, and that Droette lives in “one of the finest palaces in the marble quarter.” Tree shaded avenues and guards bearing the black bear and amaranth of the city accentuate the luxury of the marble district, and Droette’s villa palace lived up to the claim. Communication through the guards and a representative soon leads the party through the gardens and into the northern dining room of the house.
The room is cool, shadowed, with a long table lit from above by the sun in high windows. At the one set place was Lord Droette, a Tiefling in his early 40s with entirely black eyes and long canines. A conversation ensued in which Vikram and Droette discuss Vikram’s astronomical researches, and Droette noted that there are “cells” within his religion that sometimes burst out into violence. One of these, he said, must have been responsible for the violence in Reyen, oppressed as they were by the purity laws. When he said that he was unsure who the party was following, all who heard him thought him to tell the truth. The group then revealed Ashkenu’s name to him, and he seemed not to show recognition, but suggested that he didn’t think his compatriots would be involved with someone from Sargothine. The end of the discussion covered information dealers in the city, and seemed to suggest that Droette was aware that the party had been in contact with Jacquard.
Back at the Cast Helm, the party spoke with Liaz, who noted that a number of men at arms and knights had left the city while the party was underground. The soldiers had gone to assist the Cantor in war. The Drunkard then arrived, to arrange a meeting at sunset at the Tower of Parting. The party scouted the place in the afternoon, a lovely spot with cliffs on three sides, a lovely waterfall and a nice view. Having checked out the location, they returned to the inn and Collain took one last use of the dagger before they headed out to deliver it to its new owner.
As the sun set, Jacquard arrived with an Elven swordsman and an Eladrin woman in a black cloak. The cloak was over military garb. Brief talk about the loveliness of the view and the awfulness of the undercity moved quickly into business. Amata and Jacquard sparred verbally over the hatred between Blasphemers and Dragon worshipers, with Jacquard saying that he finds the rivalry unimportant and useless, dangerous to the Dragonborn because it takes their attention away from real threats. Vikram questioned the woman threateningly about what her use of the dagger would be but receives only a promise that her business was personal and would not threaten the party. When Vikram handed her the dagger she seemed to look west, as though the dagger forced her mind in that direction.
At Amata’s demand, Jacquard began to speak of what he knew. He delivered a Low Fleuresian translation of the prophecy and explained what he had heard from an innkeeper in the south pit. Apparently some Sargothines with tattoos of black eagles (the symbol of the emperor’s bodyguards) had rented a room in his inn for several weeks, leaving on 17 Heckatombian, about a week prior. They were accompanied by an older man, presumably Ashkenu, and a youth, Celid son of Cignar, the best guide for the marhes of the battlewashes. Jacquard predicted that given the prophecy of slepeing legions mentioned in the translation, Ashkenu was probably heading for an old Sargothine Fort named Dab Khazat, eight weeks southeast of Lycon that possesses an extensive mausoleum.
Jacquard also let the party to know that the Emperor of Sargoth is dead and that the Ebon Council has met to select a new emperor, and that the Eagle Scepter mentioned in the prophecy is the personal sigil of the Emperor of Sargoth. Kinaa then asked the Blasphemer about guides in the marshes, and Jacquard named Ives Marshstrider as one of the best.
After Amata had finished staring down Jacquard and demanding that he swear upon something he cared about (Paela and Cyprossar, he chose) that he had told the party all that would be of use to them, the party left first at the information dealer’s request. Desiring to know more about the woman’s intention for the dagger, the party waited at the bottom of the steps leading to the tower. When an hour later the three descended, Jacquard was disappointed but resigned to see the group there. Amata let him to know that he had nothing to fear, and Vikram interrogated the woman, learning that she sought her daughter who she had Sained some time ago. Before the party left, Amata demanded her name, and she said it was Ishwara Glowworm, and that her daughter was named Gaia.
Errands the next day, selling antiques and dividing coin, and then a trip into the Slough to find Ives Marshstrider, a hokey fellow with a rural drawl and a spear for stabbing stuff. The party decided to pay him an additional thirty gold pieces for his services in battle, and an hour later they had retrieved their horses and were riding south with Ives and his mule, making quick time toward the marshes.