Back in Rarmon, Tanasia and Yeti return to Charan’s Hoof and deliver the news to their contact, Sinna Tor. Tor pays them then indicates that he may have more work for them. The two agree to return later.
The two first go on a shopping spree with their recently-earned shins. Since Haro and Karner are still away on their personal business, Tansia contacts two old acquaintances of her’s in Rarmon, the Jacks Crail and Uraz. The two agree to meet and the four of them head back to the Hoof.
There they ask Tor about the job. Tor warns them that it may involve friction with the town guard and after a brief discussion, they agree. Tor then gives them the details.
Yesterday Kyler Metcami, the eldest son of merchant Lord Metcami, was murdered. Lord Metcami has said that he does not trust the Rarmon city guard to investigate the case and wants someone from outside the city to look into it.
The hunters ask Tor about Metcami. He tells them that Metcami is one of the more powerful trading families in the city. He does not run any caravans or merchant stalls himself; instead he acts like a broker, buying and trading goods between the convoys and caravans that do enter the city. He owns a series of warehouses and brokerages and is one of the more respected members of Rarmon’s upper crust. He would be a good ally and patron. Also, as someone who deals regularly with many travelers, he would be in a good position to find any information on Caiden Phorr. The characters talk among themselves a bit then agree. Tor tells them that any further information will have to come from Metcami and gives him directions to his estate.
When the characters arrive they find that a runner preceding them has already relayed their agreement to help. The abhuman guard at the gate greets them then escorts them to a study within the estate. A few minutes later, an older man dressed in black but expensive clothing enters and thanks them for coming.
Before he continues he thanks Tanasia and Yeti for their work in defeating the Mechanical Beast, then he tells them why he needs their help. The day before, his son Kyler was killed; murdered in an alley behind a place known as “Gron’s House of Happiness”. He explains that his son was at a bachelor party; he was supposed to be married today.
Without being asked he continues to elaborate. Kyler was to be married to the Honorable Eveyl Camor, the daughter of Baron Camor. The Baron is one of the ruling families of Rarmon and part of the city council. Metcami freely admits that this was a political marriage; the Camor family is finding themselves in unfortunate financial straits and his family, though wealthy and respected, remains outside the nobility of the Pythorean Empire. This marriage would benefit both families; though Eveyl was not the eldest of Baron Camor’s children she and her children would still inherit his title and some portion of his holdings, while Kyler’s position as a member of the prestigious Metcami family would ease any financial concerns of anyone Camor wished to do dealings with. Everyone would benefit.
Except, he tells them, Eveyl was not happy with the arranged marriage. Since the city guard answers to the ruling families he feels that Eveyl’s obvious unhappiness with the arrangement may lead them to not investigate as closely as they should. He wants a group of outsiders to conduct their own investigation. He is willing to pay them 100 shins each if they can bring him any information as to what happened, with a bonus if they can tell him why he was killed. The players agree.
The players discuss their options and decide to start with Gron’s House of Happiness. They find their way there.
The House of Happiness is a circular, two-story building with an open courtyard. Construction crews are on the roof, apparently either adding or repairing an upper level. Despite this the building is open and they are able to enter.
Inside they make their way to the courtyard which is open to the sky. In the center of the courtyard is a pool of water with floating “lilly-pads”.
Surrounding the pool are a number of lounges, many occupied. Vines extend from the pool to the occupants of the lounges, all of whom have one of the pads attached to their foreheads. Some lounges have two (or three or more) people on them. In these cases the vine splits at the end and each of the people have a pad on their forehead. Every now and then someone will disconnect a pad, which retreats back into the pool. Sometimes the person leaves but usually they retreat with another guest to one of the private pavilions around the perimeter of the courtyard.
A hostess approaches the characters, a female abhuman with bird-like features and feathered skin. She asks if they wish to experience the pool. They decline and start asking questions about Metcami. The hostess tells them that all of the employees have been told not to talk with anyone about the incident and says they need to talk to Gron directly. She gives them directions to Gron’s office upstairs.
The characters proceed to the second floor. The office is to the left but they hear loud voices from the right and go in that direction instead.
They find themselves in a gambling room. There are the usual card tables and the like, but most of the patrons are standing around a machine of some type. Three players are at the machine, each with one arm inserted into an opening in the machine while they manipulate a lever with their other hand. Above them is a tower with a heavy ball rolling through a maze. The players are tilting the tower with the levers trying to control the ball.
Eventually the ball falls to the bottom of the maze, barely missing crushing the hand of one of the players, who jerks his hand out of the machine just in time. There is a mixture of groans and cheers as shins change hands between the watchers and players.
Curiosity satisfied, the characters return back to Gron’s office. Explaining their reason for being there to the heavyset Glaive at the entrance, they are allowed entrance and meet Gron.
Gron is a very short (less than 4 feet), hunchbacked human. Uraz notices that the hump on Gron’s back moves periodically but doesn’t say anything. His office is fairly opulent with a wide window providing a view of the courtyard below, though the constant hammering and construction sounds from overhead detract from the ambiance a bit.
The characters explain why they are there and Gron tells them what he knows. Kyler had been a regular at the House, and he had come for his bachelor party. He had been drinking too much and Gron had gotten the impression that he wasn’t looking forward to his marriage the next day. Whatever the reason, he had become angry with the entertainer who had been performing that evening; a minstrel named Jakka Chush. There had been a confrontation between the two and one of the staff had suggested that Kyler go outside to “cool down” while they got Chush out of the building. Once Chush was gone they sent someone out to bring Kyler back in, only to find him dead in the alley.
Gron lets slip that he is worried about a loss of business after the killing and wants to find out what happened himself. He gives the characters permission to talk to anyone at the House and asks that they keep him informed.
The characters split up into two groups. The first goes back downstairs to talk to the bartenders while the others go out back to check out the alley.
They don’t learn much from the bartender. He tells them that Kyler was a regular at the House and liked pretty much everything they offered; drink, gambling and “companionship”. He also tells them that Kyler had a bit of a temper.
The group in the alley has more luck. They find the crime scene with no problems, but Yeti then hears a sound coming from behind a garbage cart. Investigating, they find an odd man. Wearing rags and looking like a vagrant, he is very jittery, jumpy and distracted. Upon seeing the characters, he immediately asks if they have found “it”.
Under questioning, the strange character (who they learn is named Betis) slowly reveals information, seemingly accidentally. He works for someone he calls “Mistress Shen” and is looking for something he calls “The Scythe”. He says that he had given The Scythe to someone named “Toba” and that they were supposed to stab Kyler with it. He was then supposed to come and get Kyler and lead him back to Mistress Shen. But this Toba killed Kyler instead. Now, he needs to find The Scythe (which Mistress Shen somehow knows was never used) and bring it back to her so she will give him “things”.
They ask about “The Scythe” but he doesn’t seem to know much more about it. They do find out that he does work for Mistress Shen because she gives him “things” but the never get anything more specific than that.
They talk a bit more but get nothing else of use. Betis eventually wanders off and the characters search the area again. One of them uses his light to look for reflections. Looking for light, they see a dim glow from beneath a storm drain. They cannot tell what it is and are unable to remove the drain, which is mortared into the street.
They go back inside the House and retrieve the rest of the party. Returning to the alley, they examine the drain and hear the voice of Betis talking to himself from within it. Uraz shines his light through the drain and yells that they are the city guard. They hear Betis rapidly run away.
With the full party they work together and are able to pull the grate from the ground. Tanasia descends by rope and finds the source of the light; an unwieldy scythe-like weapon with a glowing patch on the handle.
Tanasia returns to the surface and they examine their find. It is a scythe, its blade made of a dark grey metal, but it is badly balanced to be used as a weapon. Anyone who attempted to use it as such would certainly find themselves at a disadvantage.
The only odd thing about it is its handle. There is what looks like a circular piece of glass set into it, and the glass is glowing a bright blue. They cannot determine anything else about the scythe and take it with them.
They decide to return to Lord Metcami. He welcomes them and they tell him what they have found. They then ask if he knows of a “Mistress Shen”.
He thinks a bit then says that he thinks he does.
Several years ago he became involved with another brokerage house in the city. They mostly dealt with tinctures and potions; a polite way of saying they traded in drugs. Unfortunately they had problems in the running of their business and found themselves in financial straits. He agreed to help them in exchange for a percentage of their business. The business was run by a man named Aman Drell and a woman named Taln Shen.
This turned out to only be the first of several times they came to him for help. Eventually he found himself in majority control of the brokerage. Realizing that the business could be profitable if it were better managed, he bought out the rest of the business from Drell and Shen (telling the characters he was careful to give them a fair price for their remaining share to protect his own reputation.)
For a while Drell and Shen lived in an estate in the merchant district but eventually sold it and left. He does not know where either of them are now, though admits they may still be in the city; there are so many partially-ruined buildings yet to be rebuilt or repaired that many people are squatting in them.
The characters also ask about “Toba”. Metcami does recognize someone with that name. During their arranged courtship many times the Honorable Eveyl would come by to pass the time with Kyler. She usually brought her personal guard with her; a man named Toba Hama.
This seems to confirm Metcami’s suspicion that the city guard was not investigating thoroughly. He thanks the characters and pays them 100 shin each. He then asks if they will do a bit more; if they will find proof that Hama, operating under Shen’s instructions, was the one who killed Kyler, and why. He finally asks that they keep him informed and leaves.
The characters elected to not tell Metcami about the Scythe. Their next plans were to find someone who could help them identify it. It obviously isn’t a very good weapon, so why was Shen so insistent that Kyler be killed with it. Why was she so upset when he wasn’t killed with it? And why was she so determined to get it back.