The Wine of Wrath - Part 1
The witch hunters of the Order of Illumination remained in Five Fingers for a few days more, waiting for news from High Captain Kilbride regarding the whereabouts of the rogue arcane mechanik, Rustiban Vandred. They got their reply - in the form of a certain gobber with a message - Smek.
Smek explained that Rustiban had been found and had been spotted conversing with another mechanik, McGreedy, of McGreedy's Clockwork Emporium, situated on Bellicose Island.
With Smek as their guide the group of hunters to shop, the hope being that McGreedy would help them locate Vandred. The street, being centre for trade, was busy, rowdy, and chaotic. But even in the flux of people, Investigator Beck Hurst was able to spot that McGreedy's was being watched. He pointed out the rough looking gangsters to Smek, who nodded and drew the group over to a liquor vendor. There in the cold damp they drank the warm syrup liquor and listened as Smek explained to them that the gang was the Scarlet Skulls.
Given the apparent danger, Hurst and the aristocrat-hunter, Darcey de Dimiani, sneaked into the back alley, escaping the view of the gangsters, and slipped into the back of the shop. They found the place in complete disarray, with the back of the shop serving as a workshop and small forge, and the front a spare parts and clock work shop. Hurst put his keen eye to work and was able to piece together events. There was recent blood stain on shop desk, and the draws had been pulled out, including the paper work. Darcey found in the pile of coal a hand, reaching out and grasping. It was McGreedy, and in his hand was a scrap of fabric. Hurst was able to find a secret cabinet and within another ledger. Within was a the most recent upcoming sale, Rustiban Vandred. But there was also other information. There was an envelope, signed 'DC', and with it a note of credit. Whatever the item was that was being paid for was to be picked up today by Rustiban. There was also a diagram of the item. And orrery, and one that seemed to map the moons of Caen and more. The design was not something Hurst had seen in Wester Immoren, nor did it look Orgoth. But they did have a ship name, the 'Frozen Cannon'. In the forge and workshop there still pieces that matched the orrey, and the strange runes that covered it. Hurst also quickly performed a test on the 'DC' signature. The chromatography was similar to his own writing ink. A writing ink that came from Corvis, and from the university.
Darcey and Hurst left the shop and together with the others they kept watch over the shop and the gang. The gangsters seemed concerned, as if expecting something. And after 3 more hours they left. Something was wrong, as the witch hunters also expected Rustiban to arrive. Gregore was sporting for a fight and suggested that they follow the gang, but Brother Eckert called for patience. They waited some more, and then the Scarlet Skulls returned in force, but led by a figure with a strange gait and form, and with what were obviously the dead, though well concealed. Eckert, blessed such as he was by Morrow, could see the signs of magic at work, and necromancy. Eckert then realized the nature of the necromancer - a Satyxis. They waited and watched, and watched the necromancer leave, apparently angry. Gregore demanded that they follow, but Eckert warned against it. They were few against the numerous followers of Thamar and the forces of Cryx who undoubtly lurked on this island. Instead they would go talk to the captain of the Frozen Cannon.
The sun had almost set, and a cold wind blew in from the north, but the deck of the Frozen Canon was alive with gambling and singing. Khadoran singing. Much to Eckert's chagrin, the ship was a Khadoran privateer, captain by Captain Durga, and ex-Khadoran naval officer. With a little persuasion the gruff man explained that he had sailed to Zu, the tropical continent, and from there he acquired the Orrery on behalf of Vandred. Vandred and McGreedy has arrived yesterday morning to pay for the item. It was now clear that Rustiban has left for Corvis.
The band of witch hunters had been back in Corvis for a couple of weeks so far, and Hurst was certain he had seen the signature before. There was no sign of Rustiban in the city. Their trail had led them to nothing, and they still were tasked with recovering the Witchfire and Alexia Ciannor. They group was once more called by the master of the Order chantry. He was aware of the upcoming wedding of Darcey's brother, and so asked that the others, on behalf of the Duke of Corvis, that they act as envoys and take a wedding gift.
With their rather more quiet mission, the group took a steam barge, and with them the Duke's present, a writing desk, and left for Llael, and the city of Rhydden in the duchy of Voxsaunny. Their journey up the Black River, and through the bayous of Bloodsmeath Marsh, and eventually stopping at the decrepit and mouldering riverside town of Bloodsbane.
The town was nothing more than elevated decking and a few dozen ramshackle wooden sheds that barely withstood the cold and the mist. With the gruff greeting of the port master they were directed to the town inn for a night's rest.
Within the inn, little heat came from the fire, the locals drank the foul smelling frothy brew, and the inn keeper, a wiry old man, sneered at them. The food was barely edible, consisting of a broth of chewy fish and vegetables.
The night drew on, and the locals left, and then, in the dead of night, there came a gutteral scream. The group took up their weapons and looked out the windows of the inn. In the mist they spied something they had seen once before in the sewers of Corvis - a gatorman. But rather than just one, many lurked in the mists.
The door of the inn slammed open, as Gregore hefted his broadsword. 'Come and get it fiends!'