The old, one-story, windowless stone house with a slate roof was tucked in the middle of the alley, surrounded by taller buildings. As the party turned the corner, they caught a glimpse of a pale, gaunt woman handing over the Stone of Golorr to another woman who quickly scrambled up to the rooftops. The gaunt woman drew a shortsword as she turned to face them. Another thug materialized from the shadows.
“The stone is on the move!” said Swift.
“Eat more fiber, Swift!” said Korahd.
The shifter tried to run past the thug and was sorely wounded for it. Sam K advanced on the thug and stabbed him. The woman and her companion did not last much longer against the adventurers.
“Which way, Swift?” asked Korahd.
“Woman on the rooftops. She has the stone.”
The eladrin nodded, fey stepped to the roof, eldritch blasted the woman, and raced toward her. Unfortunately, the roof tiles were rotten and hampered the party’s efforts at pursuit. Sam K fell behind but shouted for his companions to go on without him. Swift managed to catch up to the woman, but only for a moment. The woman merely winked at him as she spun and leaped across to another building, grabbing a banner and using it to slide down to street level. She ran into a theatre lobby.
“She dropped into the theater!” said Swift. “I’m going after.” He entered the lobby in time to see her entering the auditorium.
“I can keep this up all day, girl. Best just give me the stone and be done with it.” She looked back and ducked behind some people in the theatre as Korahd joined Swift at the theatre’s entrance.
The plush lobby was decorated with red carpet and ornate wallpaper. On display were several painted wooden mannequins dressed in fancy costumes, each one representing a character from a famous play. Along the walls, banners displayed the current play, “Blood Wedding.” A ghost dressed in a suit, his hair unkempt, floated in plain sight, waving his hands about in gestures of greeting and salutation. “Let not this harried visage diminish you, gentlesirs and beautiful ladies, for I am but your friendly host. What fine art have we wrought for you this day? Buy your tickets and behold! You shan’t be disappointed!”
The adventurers sensibly ignored the ghost and rushed past, chasing their quarry. Wean blinked at his companions from his seat in the auditorium then gamely joined the chase, which led back outside and to the rooftops once more. Additional magic and weaponplay followed.
“Can we talk about this?” Swift asked the woman. “Maybe work out some sort of arrangement?”
“Why? This is sooo much fun,” she retorted.
The shifter shrugged and put a bullet in her. “Is it fun now?!” She made a rude gesture.
The chase continued for several moments more before the woman stopped running and put her hands up in surrender. Swift caught up to her first. “Okay, maybe it was a little fun,” he said. “The stone please.”
“Nice try, pretty,” said Korahd. “The one Ol’ Pale n’ Gaunt gave you.”
Swift pointed his gun. “I do have more bullets in here.”
“She can search me if she wants, but she’ll find no stone on me,” said the woman.
“So where is it?” the eladrin asked as she started frisking.
“I’ll never tell. I’ll take my chances with the Watch rather than double cross my employer.”
“Who said anything about taking you to the Watch,” said Swift.
“I certainly didn’t,” said Korahd. “Isn’t our ghost getting hungry, Swift?”
“Please, I know the laws of the city,” said the woman. “Plus all the witnesses seeing you chasing me around? You don’t take me to the Watch, they’ll be looking for you soon enough.”
“I … also … don’t mind taking my chances with the Watch,” said Swift.
“They might forgive a lot, but murder isn’t one of them.”
“That is, assuming they find you at all,” said Wean.
“Oh, my employer will make sure they find me and make sure to point them straight to you.”
Swift sighed. “Honestly I’d prefer not to resort to that. Your boss is scary, I get that. But surely there must be something we can work out.”
“So who is this employer who’s so fortunate to have your undying loyalty?” said Korahd.
“It’s better for your health if you never find out. He doesn’t like people knowing his identity.”
“All right. Thank you for a lovely evening, I guess.”
A pair of griffin riders arrived, circling the scene. The Watch took the woman into custody after questioning the party and getting their side of the story.
Afterward, the adventurers retraced their steps to the theatre, where they saw Fala Lefaliir, owner of the rooftop garden near the tavern. They were dressed for a night out and waved the party over. “You know how to make a play more exciting.”
“Uluvathae, Fala." Korahd smirked. “You didn’t miss much. It turns out that the vampire did it.”
“We went through all that and she didn’t even have the thing on her,” said the eladrin.
“Oh, she must have given it to those people that left right after you did,” said Fala.
Korahd’s eyes widened. “Which people were those?”
“Well, I only recognized the man. He’s a bard named Agorn Fuoco. I don’t know who his lady friend was though.”
“Well, that’s something. Where do you know him from?”
“I’ve seen him play a few times. He’s fairly decent. If you’re going to look for him, I hear that he spends a lot of time in the Mistshore neighborhood.”
Korahd made an mmm noise. “And what did the woman look like?”
“I really didn’t get a great look at her.”
“Okay. That’s very helpful. Thanks, Fala! Sweet water & light laughter ’til next.”
“Why don’t the two of you head back to the bar?” Korahd told her companions. “I’ll go find Sam and bring him back.”
== * * *==
The rain was really coming down by the time the adventurers reconvened at the bar. Sam K informed the others that he had found a dwarf with a beholder hat tied up in the meat pie shop neighbor’s house.
“Did you let him loose? Was it a nice hat? Tell me everything,” said Korahd.
“I did. The hat was tacky. And honestly, the fellow couldn’t tell me anything relevant to finding the stone, so.”
The eladrin nodded. “As much as I’d love to rest and dry out by a nice fire, we should probably find this bard sooner than later.”
The others agreed and set off for Mistshore, except for Sam K, who stayed to mind the bar. When they arrived, they noted a conspicuous carriage. Korahd approached the vehicle but was intercepted by the driver. “Sorry but this carriage is spoken for, Miss.”
“Good sir, do you know which way Agorn went?” she asked.
The driver glared at her. “I’m a woman, and he went back that way.”
“So very sorry, milady. Happens to me sometimes, too. I am in your debt.” Korahd headed in the indicated direction then heard a struggle behind one of the doors. She called back to the others, “Over here!”
Inexplicably, Agorn Fuoco was inside the house, trying to smother a bedridden woman with a sack while tears streamed down his face. Korahd immediately moved to stop him, and the man said, “Let go of me!”
“Not happening. I don’t know why you think you want this, but I promise you that you don’t.”
“She has to go. She’s no longer my family. I will just remove her so my new family can accept me.”
“WHAT new family?” said Korahd, also glancing around the room for any sign of the Stone.
“I don’t think he got a full quiver if you know what I mean,” said Swift.
“I get the feeling that you’re in a lot of trouble, Agorn. Why don’t you start at the beginning? Wait, no. Tell me what’s happened to the stone.”
“Uh, guys?” said Wean, pointing out that several thugs in familiar black armor were approaching with apparent hostile intent.
“I’ll be right back,” Korahd told Agorn. “DON’T kill your mother while I’m gone.” She took the pillow with her as she fey stepped into the street and struck the nearest thug with an eldritch blast.
As the brawl continued two more people jumped in to help the party fight the thugs
“Who are you?!” Wean asked.
“Probably better to save that for after the fight,” one of the strangers responded.
“You’ve fucked up for the last time, Agorn,” one of the thugs declared.
Wean went down under a hail of clubs, and Swift cried out, “Hold on, Wean!” While Swift was distracted, another thug moved in and finished off Agorn. The adventurers swore as the vicious melee continued, but with the strangers’ help, they eventually defeated the last of the black-armored thugs.
“Thank you for the aid,” said Swift.
“Glad we could be of some help.”
“Hail an’ well met. I’m Korahd; that’s Swift.”
“Mavia,” said the heavily injured stranger. “That’s Salazar.”
The eladrin nodded. “Excuse me one moment while I tend to my friend Wean. Swift, I feel like I know the answer, but can you see if Agorn had the Stone on him?”
“Sure thing.” The shifter searched all the bodies but came up empty. Once Wean was conscious, Korahd went back inside to check on the old woman.
Mavia, leaning heavily on Salazar, said, “So, what did you do to piss off the Zhents?”