Sixth Report: Danorian Consulate Murder – Day 2
I’ll skip the part about who got to the office latest the next morning (not Betty, for a change), and the discussion about what to do next with those of us who’d actually read all the reports. When you looked at the information we had, we could either head off to the Thinking Man’s Tavern, and find out what the late Nilasa had been doing there from people we didn’t have any leverage over (and who’d be quite happy to dose us with powdered fae pepper, or worse) — or we could go to Goodson’s Estuarial Reformatory and ask her known associates as per the criminal file Betty had brought back last night. We chose the prison – ‘scuse me, ’reformatory.’ It’s an old sailing ship, moored off shore, kept by Derek Goodson, who boasts (of course) that nobody’s ever escaped.
Goodson showed us around the place, more to boast about it than because any of us were curious. Then we got down to business: Ford Sorghum and Travis Starter, both of whom were imprisoned there. We needed to talk to them, and none of us wanted to go down into the bowels of the boat to do it, especially not me. Ianco persuaded Mr. Goodson to let us borrow his office for the discussion – something about them both being male, or human, or both, who knows. So far so good, but of course he wanted to watch. Betty explained that they wouldn’t talk – or rather, being Betty, she batted her eyelashes, and cooed something breathily, and I swear I saw the man’s eyes cross and little hearts appear in them as he left the room. (She grinned at us, and buffed her nails on her tunic. She has no shame.)
First order of business was negotiation. Sorghum and Starter wanted out in exchange for talking. Thava explained that wasn’t happening. The prisoners blanched, and changed their request to weekly visits from his son (one of them, I didn’t note which) or his wife (the other). Thava shook her head and smiled, and the prisoners promptly suggested maybe they could get their sheets changed every week, and the ability to go above-deck once in a while. Goodson, waiting in the hallway outside, agreed to their request.
Per my notes, they said they knew the deceased from seeing her around. She’d invited them to join her in a big smuggling deal, something to do with a stash of wands, that would mean a large amount of money. Why hadn’t they said something before now? For fuck’s sake, she’d said she was working with The Family. They gave us a few other names: Gael, The House Elf, Hannal Solong, Morgan Chipano. But they either didn’t have any details, or they knew better than to tell them to a bunch of cops just for clean sheets and a chance to see the sun every so often.
We left the prison, and headed for the tavern to see if our good luck would continue. Ha. The tavern, like most taverns in the early afternoon, proved to be all but deserted. If we wanted to question anyone, we’d have to come back later in the evening.
We sat in the tavern and (quietly) went over our options. We knew that the late Nilasa Hume had been up to nothing good – not if she was involved with The Family, and possibly with fae terrorists as well. We knew she was connected to a foreign national (whom we still needed to find). But we were running thin on leads. Then Thava, looking over Nilasa’s criminal file, suggested we go pay a visit for Mr. Heward Sechim, who paid Nilasa’s bail – especially since he lived at her most recent place of residence.
Thava can knock at a door as impressively as anyone, but if a man’s not there, nobody’s going to be impressed. Instead, we headed for the place next door: Sechim’s Alkahest & Etchings. The woman who ran it was someone called Denisca Weriya, according to Betty’s information, a mage who made potions – which explained her in an alchemist’s. More interestingly, her husband was a magician who called himself The House Elf.
Betty led the way in through the crowded shelves of potions. “Hello there! Are you the Denisca Weriya who knows Nilasa Hume?”
Weriya blinked down at Betty. “I, ah…yes. How do you know Nilasa?”
Betty leaned against the counter, then straightened up, possibly because lounging against the counter doesn’t work as well with halflings as it does with taller folk. “She asked us to pick up an order for her. Is it here?”
“She hasn’t placed any orders with us. Are you sure?”
“Oh, no,” Betty said, and frowned up at the ceiling in a nice pretense of thought. “There must’ve been a mix-up, then. Maybe your husband would know, she mentioned him – where is he?”
“Next door,” Weriya said. Her eyes flicked from Betty, to me, to Thava lurking in the doorway. “He’s, ah, practicing for a show. With his honey badgers.”
Betty bade her farewell. We went next door, and found the House Elf practicing, as promised. The interrogation went from polite inquiry, to ‘why do you look so worried,’ to our subject running for the stairs in nothing flat. At this point, as might be expected when you combine a fire mage and a show-off who loves to play with knives, things went to chaos.
As near as I can tell, Ianco and Betty chased the House Elf up the stairs, pausing only to deal with the honey badgers (which proved to have vile tempers). Thava ran outside and into the Alkahest & Etchings. Unfortunately, as she was running, rather than politely sidling through the shelves, she promptly ran into something, plus two guards who’d jumped to the conclusion that she meant nothing good. (Technically true, but their mistress meant even less good.) I’d attempted to follow her: she yelled out the door for me to go after the magician. Inasmuch as her warning was accompanied by a billow of smoke and the sound of coughing, I took her seriously.
I followed Betty and Ianco up the stairs and across a bridge between the two buildings (with some difficulty – the magician had left a trap at the bridge door, and I’m not the lock-picker in our cohort, so I had to wait until Betty was done shooting at honey badgers). I believe I spent more time praying for healing than I did in fighting, as Weriya joined the fight soon enough, throwing all sorts of entirely illegal potions at us. Fortunately for us, Thava did not die, Betty really does know her knives, and Ianco’s fireballs are good for more than just property damage.
When we finally captured them, we brought them both back to the office (over Ianco’s protests – he wanted to light them on fire). The House Elf obstinately refused to say anything, but Weriya was willing to talk about the smuggling ring, in exchange for leniency. The ship Djorn Ferdman was leaving two hours after sunset, and meeting up somewhere (she wasn’t sure where), some uninhabited rock on Agre Island.
Useful information, but not for us. I can’t speak for the others, but Delft took the paper out of my hands as I started to write up my report, and firmly informed me that I should go off to bed, and someone else would take care of the smuggling ring.
“But!” I said.
“Sleep,” he said. He smiled at me, if you can call that a smile. “See if the stars give you anything useful. Go home, Magstein Astafyev.”