Spies and Agents, some working for The Chain of Acheron itself, try to make contact with the Senior officers, and another contract is offered.
First Speaker : The Chain of Acheron
Second Speaker : The Helltroopers, dread sovereign
First : Mmm...once formidable.
Second : Now reduced to a rabble.
First : Regardless, be they ten or ten thousand...they have stolen something of ours.
Second : A grievous insult, it must not go unanswered.
First : I'm glad we agree. Go then, and retrieve what is rightfully ours.
Second : I will teach them the meaning of pain.
First : So long as you return what was stolen, we care not.
Voz of the Footstool
When last we left our heroes, they had just completed a shopping trip and received Angel’s report about the state of Capital. Most of the senior officers returned to the Pharaoh's Dream, with Boots heading to the Prince's Footstool. Voz comes to Boots’ table and gives him a big tankard of ale, on the house, and apologizes for Gront’s reaction to the attack. Boots confirms that some segment of The Chain will stick around to help in need. Voz says they have earned the acclaim of The Stonebreakers. That was their company, back in the day, before they retired to run the inn. There are a few regular customers, but most of the patrons in The Stool are The Chain. They make some small talk. Boots attempts to recruit Voz and Gront, but Voz declines for themselves. Boots asks Voz to keep an eye out for likely recruits, which he agrees to do.
Dimelza Mendado of the Fulcrum
Back at the Pharaoh’s Dream, King wants to have Ox look for the other articles about the Shadow attacks. A pregnant Riojan introduces herself to the rest of The Chain. Leech offers her some of his food, and Slim says she must be very hungry, since she has 30-40 eggs in her belly. She works for the Office of Exchange Integrity. She says her job is to make sure that sales on the island are above board and no-one rips anyone off. She tells them about the occupation of the Citadel by “a few ratcatchers” and tries to recruit them to kick out the Shooting Star. Slim asks if they’ve exhausted all other avenues and she says they have. She doesn’t want to wait too long because the Knights of the Black Glove, a religious military order, may take an interest.
When they begin discussing payment, she asks that they want and King tells her they’re looking for a base of operations -- if not the Citadel, something similar. She says she can’t make the deal immediately, but she’ll go back to the Director and see if they can come to an agreement. King says he’d rather take a different job in an unclaimed part of the city.
Orlandria de Gietti of the Chain's Spy Network
Back at the Footstool, a young woman with a rapier at her hip comes in and sits down with Boots. She introduces herself as Orlandria de Gietti and says that a “Guardian Angel” sent her, revealing herself to be a member of the Chain's Spy Network. She says that the Royal Heraldic Society, the ones asking the Chain to retrieve a document from the Library, work for the Fulcrum. They make their money inventing noble lineages for high-ranking guildmembers so they can get into nicer parties. Boots asks about the Library Job. Orlandria explains that the Library was built on top of a mausoleum filled with undead. She also says that the Society will almost certainly offer them knighthoods if they ask, but then they’d be beholden to Shirome. She won’t exercise that influence right away, but she’s sure that Shirome will eventually call in the debt and threaten their knighthoods. She says the Pellet wards are administered by the Red Falcons, the Prince’s military.
She offers to take information back to Angel for their next round of investigation. Boots asks about forged knighthood credentials, she says those will be easy to come by, but they won’t stand up to close inspection. They should be enough to let them move throughout the city, though. She asks if Boots wants her to obtain some and he says maybe wait for now, that their courier seals given by the Society may do the job well enough. This concludes their meeting, and Boots heads to the Pharaoh's Dream after lunch.
Marquis Demasco of the Military Academy
Boots catches them up on the conversation he just had with Orlandria. They hear a voice that they recognize call out to them from the hanging garden and a herald starts to announce a nobleman, who just walks in and waves the herald off. It’s the Marquis Demasco. He’s wearing a naval uniform. He comes in and sits without asking. He asks, “How have you been finding Capital?” Boots says, “Well, it’s right here.” King says it’s okay for a city.
The Marquis asks King if they’d be interested in coming to the Military Academy and giving a presentation on any topic they like. He says that they are seasoned warriors, and anything they'd want to talk about would be valuable to hear, though he's particularly interested in the Chronicle as a remarkable piece of history. He says Slim, as a Gith, must have some unique information to share.
Boots wants to know, if they agree to lecture, whether they can recruit in the Academy. He says they can try to recruit, though most of their graduates will likely have their sights set on something a bit loftier than a mercenary company. If they’re doing something exotic, though, they’d probably have some takers. As he’s getting ready to leave, he says he was given tickets to the opera, but he can’t stand it. He throws the tickets on the table and says, “I’m told one hasn’t seen Capital until one has been to the opera.” King picks up the tickets before Boots can and some negotiations look to be about to take place between the two of them.
They discuss the merits of agreeing to give a lecture. He didn’t offer them any money, but the boost to their cred may be worth it. King suggests that the fall of Alloy may be a good topic.
The Herald of the Royal Heraldic Society
Later that evening, the half-elf herald shows up. He looks out of sorts. He approaches King and says, “I assume you’ve considered the job?” King says they’re looking at taking the job, but they need to discuss terms. Boots says they just fought a lot of undead for 20k gold and that he thinks that would be a reasonable price for a similar job. The herald says that much gold is more than he can put his hands on and asks if there’s some other payment they’d accept. He says that their research into a minor noble house only costs 12k. King says finding a title for them could be part of their payment, but they’d expect some gold on top to fight undead. The herald seems confused by this talk of undead and King reminds him that the library is built on the mausoleum.
They discuss the possibility of proving Boots to have a noble-enough lineage to a minor noble house to smooth their way in Capital and be able to give out some knighthoods to members of The Chain. The herald says they can find a forgotten noble lineage for Boots. Boots realizes this may be a way to find out what family he might still have living, too. King is concerned that if they opt for a minor house that they might be aligning themselves with an unknown house and that might have implications. He finally offers them 3k gold and proof that Boots is from a minor house, or 8k and prove that he’s a noble of a lesser house. They decide on the 3k and minor house.
The herald tells Boots to come to the Society for an interview and they’ll get started on their task. He gives them the wax courier seals that they need in order to accomplish this job. He gives them a serial number for the document they need, which will prove the legitimate heir to House Brunadetti. King wants part of their payment to be that the heir knows that The Chain helped to prove his claim.
The herald leaves and comes back with a contract for the Library Job. There’s no NDA in this contract, the terms are straightforward: “Get this and we’ll pay you and provide documents demonstrating the providence of House Boots.” He signs it and hands it to King for his signature. He offers them some pleasantries and leaves.
Buts of The Chain
They go back to the Pharaoh’s Dream and meet with Buts to give her some magical components received from the Permanent Transient. This is the sinmetal, to make armor for Leech that lessens his vulnerability to sunlight, and the demon's heart, to make Judge a sword of demon slaying. Slim says he makes excellent weapons. Judge says, “I’ll be the judge of that, as Weaponmaster.” Buts says that for at least some of this work, she will need the help of Slim, who has smithing experience. After this meeting, the senior officers are ready to go to the library.
Off to the Library
It takes them about a half an hour on the ferry to get from the Stays to the Pellet. The Stays are very metropolitan. The Pellet looks like it’s built on Commonwealth (Roman style) ruins. It looks mostly residential, very suburban. On their way to the Library, they pass lots of civic buildings, restaurants, and housing. After about a two hour walk, they get to the gate that separates the Olive and the Columns, the two districts in the Pellet. With their courier badges, they’re easily able to get through the gate, bypassing the line. There are more civic buildings in the Columns than in the Olive. In both districts, they see a lot of the Prince’s army, who act as cops for the Pellet districts. After a short time, they come to the Library.
The Library has huge double doors at the top of a large set of stairs. Most of the people going in and out are Riojan. In the interior, there are wings to the left and right. There’s a large reference desk behind which sits a woman with a bunch of rolls of parchment spread out around her. King approaches her and she startles, initially believing they’re Red Falcons. King says they’re there to pick up a document. A courier had been sent previously, but went missing, so they were sent. She says, “I had nothing to do with it. Am I under arrest?” They describe the courier and ask if she spoke with them. She doesn’t recall seeing that specific person. King gives her the serial number of the deed. She checks a card catalog, then disappears behind the counter and checks another one. She says that the deed they’re looking for is in the basement. King asks if she can guide them. She says she can take them to the entrance to the basement, but then they’re on their own. She says some of the documents down there have a mind of their own and that books are dangerous things. She has to unlock the basement for them, so she accompanies them that far. She says she doesn’t have a map and isn’t sure what happened to the last person who tried to map the place.
Slim asks if anyone has been by to look for this document and she says she doesn’t know. Slim asks if anyone else has been to the basement recently and she says a few of the senior staff has been down there recently, but no non-staff that she’s aware of. She says that there are documents in the basement that certify noble houses and that the nobles of those houses have taken steps to ensure the security of those documents, potentially including undead guards.
Judge asks about her weapon and wonders if she’s armed because they have problems with people trying to steal documents. She seems shocked at the idea, but says that if she caught someone trying to steal a document, of course she would defend it with her life.
She takes them to a huge bulkhead door with a heavy key. When she unlocks it, they hear an intricate system disengaging.
Into the Dark
Boots casts Light so they can see down here. They march down the mausoleum, following the librarians directions. They come to a large round room. Boots’ spell illuminates the room with stark shadows. There are three sarcophagi in the room and the walls are lined with bones and scrolls. The scrolls examined here have serial numbers far from the one they're looking for, so they know they're not in the right place yet. They see what looks like it would be a secret door if it were closed, but it’s hanging open.
Slim grabs Boots by the scruff and holds him in front of the door so his light shines into it. Boots turns one of Slim’s hair beads into his own personal flashlight. Beyond the door, they see stairs leading down. Judge examines the sarcophagi and finds nothing but bones.
They go down the stairs behind the not-so-secret secret door. At the bottom they find another room with alcoves, each of which has a statue inside it. There are scrolls piled up around the feet of the statues. Slim picks up a scroll to look at the number. It’s closer to the one they’re looking for, but it’s obvious they have a ways to go still. One of the statues looks like its face has been chiselled off. Boots examines one of the statues to see if he can tell what it is. It’s a statue of two gods, young lovers.
There is a corridor leading out of this room and they come to another large room with two sarcophagi decorated like lovers reaching for each other. There are more alcoves leading off to the north and south. They check scrolls for numbers to see if they can tell which direction they need to go. Judge, King and Boots check one direction, Leech and Slim the other. Coming from down the hallway towards Judge, King, and Boots is a glowing skeletal figure that looks like it’s floating off the ground. They don’t notice it until it’s almost on top of them. And it’s initiative time!
Judge casts magic weapon on his sword and steps forward to attack, but he encounters a clear, gelatinous membrane, revealing the monster to be a gelatinous cube, with the skeleton just the remains of a victim. He quickly frees himself from the membrane and attacks with his sword, hacking at it. His sword slices into it and some liquid starts spilling out onto the floor. As Boots reaches out to grab a scroll, scrolls start erupting out of it and it grows teeth. This is a mimic. Boots attacks the mimic with his rapier, then tries to reposition, but the mimic bites down on his sword arm and stops him. Leech casts an eldritch blast at the skeleton, striking it twice, while Copper shoots two arrows and hits twice. Bigcat also attacks and does some damage to the cube. Odie is highly amused by everything happening here, rolling on the floor laughing and kicking his legs until Leech orders him to assist King. The cube advances and engulfs Judge, Boots, King, and half of Bigcat. Judge reacts with a hellish rebuke, doing some fire damage. King is able to pull himself out of the cube with Odie’s help. Slim uses his action to move and activate his psionic crystal, too far away to do anything else.
Judge attacks from inside the cube and hits it twice. The mimic attacks Boots for some more damage. Boots has to make a choice; to move out of the cube and towards the mimic, or pull himself out of the mimic's jaws and remain in the cube. Boots opts to try to free himself from the cube, and manages to wrench his sword arm away to cast healing on himself. Leech blasts the cube again and then moves to a more strategic position. Copper fires two more arrows, while Bigcat muscles her way out of the cube.
Back in the library's ground floor, the librarian says to herself, “Oh, I should have told them about the cube. Nah, they’ll be fine.”
Back in the mausoleum, Judge is the only one left inside the cube. Leech orders Odie to move next to Slim and offer him help. The cube moves into the alcove, re-engulfing Boots and now the mimic is also inside as well. Judge takes some digestion damage. Those outside the cube see Judge’s skin and horns begin to bubble. Slim steps up to the cube in preparation to rock its world. Slim attacks and multicolored sparks fly from his psionically enhanced sword. The cube quivers and splooshes all over the floor, flooding it with digestive fluids. Slim redirects his attacks to the mimic, hitting it once. King uses his Commander ability, ordering Slim to attack it again. On the second attack, Slim slices into it. The tongue sticks out, turning purple, and the pieces of it turn back into something looking sort of like bits of a sarcophagi.
After the fight, they quickly look at scrolls and determine they need to go the other way.