After rising from the dead in a strange catacomb below the City-State of Vancia, the heroes met a traveling adventurer named Cambion who directed them to seek help at Ivy’s Tavern.
Larialla Ivyleaf, gray elf landlady and bard, agreed to let the party sleep in her attic for a few days until they could get back on their feet. The party passed their first night in Vancia uneventfully and awoke the next day feeling refreshed and decided to focus on outfitting themselves and finding work. Ivy agreed to put the party in touch with a contact of hers that evening and directed them to a few merchants she was friendly with and could secure some steep discounts with.
Vriska’s Pawn Shop, Minstrels’ Quarter, The New City, Vanica
Jace visited Vriska’s pawn shop to purchase a variety of odds and ends. The city goblin pawn broker was interrupted in his attempt to help the sorcerer by a dark-skinned Alqadi woman who was looking for a specific item, which Vriska insisted he had not seen.
After the altercation, at Jace’s suggestion, Marayna approached the woman. Tanza Zaqal, daughter of a fat render named Mazrim Zagal on Perfumed Row, revealed that a small metal scarab broach was stolen. The item was not terribly valuable, but it was an heirloom of sentimental value. Tanza suspected Vriska, who was suspected by many to be a fence and trafficker in stolen goods, had come across it or would come across it in short order.
Thraim’s Alkemy, Perfumed Row, The New City, Vancia
Following a leaflet he found, Morgrym lead the party to Thraim’s Alkemy, a foul-smelling shop run by a rather confused and distracted human man named Raluf Thraim. Thraim often purchased reagents and monster bits from explorers and adventurers and he was currently in the market for the spinnerets and poison glands from giant spiders. He agreed to pay the party 25 gp per jar they filled with useful spider bits.
The Streets of Minstrels’ Quarter, The New City, Vancia
Nasri had noticed several people conspicuously wearing red cloaks and lurking about the common room in Ivy’s Tavern the night before. He decided to ask around to see if it meant anything. From some passers by on the street, he learned that there is a loose alliance of folks called “The Red Cloaks” based in the New City who have devoted themselves to helping the poor, the downtrodden, and the the unlucky. However, in the last few years, they have gone from being an underground network of helpers into a vigilante gang, with some of their members now openly wearing their colors. They have begun to have confrontations with the City Watch.
Ivy’s Tavern, Minstrels’ Quarter, The New City, Vancia
The party returned to Ivy’s for dinner and to meet with her friend while also making plans to go spider hunting in the catacombs the next day. A City Watch sergeant arrived during the dinner rush to post a bounty for two bugebear murderers, but it was clear the City Watch was unwelcome in Ivy’s Tavern.
A halfling in a Red Cloak taunted and chided the sergeant, insinuating that the Watch was ineffective and had to ask the citizens to police themselves with bounties. He also taunted them for being unable to protect their own because they had let someone named General Firstleaf die.
The party recognized that name as the name from their strange dreams while they were dead.
The halfling was clearly trying to taunt the guard into attacking and the sergeant was clearly doing her best to restrain herself. The party did not want to get involved, but then, a strange, severe looking man in the crowd surreptitiously threw a grease spell at the sergeant, which very nearly resulted in a fight. But Jace had noticed the spellcaster and called attention to him.
The spellcaster tried to flee, but Morgrym and Nasri helped Jace corner him. Meanwhile, Ivy invoked a prayer and used a divine Command spell to force the halfling to flee, revealing that there is more to her than a few bardic tricks.
The cornered spellcaster threatened to drag the party before The Circle of Seven, but the sergeant called him out, saying he did not have that power. Then, the sergeant asked the party to let the wizard go. He left. But not before the party noticed that his clothing was a good bit cleaner than the rest of the folks in Ivy’s and that the man was obviously trying to fit in among the less successful artists and performers in the common room.
Marayna also noticed that the guards were wearing yellow scarves and ribbons. For members of the Taiian faith, a yellow scarf is a sign of mourning.
Ivy’s Tavern, Minstrels’ Quarter, The New City, Vancia
After things calmed down, the party looked over the bounty notice and noticed that it, too, had Firstleaf’s name on it. Otherwise, it advertised a bounty for two bugbear murderers who had fled into the catacombs and were presumed to be hiding beneath Perfumed Row. But before they could discuss the implications, Ivy invited them to a private dining room to meet her friend.
Valiaran Whiteflower was a gray elf of stately bearing, though obviously he was no more wealthy than anyone else who frequented the tavern. His plain gray cloak, though, was noticeably reversible and had a red lining on the inside. This detail was not lost on the party.
Valiaran apologized for the halfling, a loudmouthed guard-hater going by the name Barrelgut. Valiaran mentioned that most of his fellows were not all like the halfling.
Valiaran wanted to hire the party to rescue three friends of his who had vanished while exploring the catacombs under the Perfumed Row. The party realized they had already met one his friends. Or at least, found his remains. They turned over the fanged earring that belonged to Ander Drus. Valiaran asked them to go seek out the other two, a halfling named Jalli and a gray elf wizard named Avrioni Moonrose. The party agreed to take the job.
Valiaran left them alone and the party discussed their plans to visit the catacombs and their interest in Inspector Alviara Firstleaf, who was apparently the one to see regarding the bugbear bounty.
The party discovered Ivy had been spying on them when she entered the room, closed the door, and told them they were asking too many dangerous questions for strangers new to the city. The party assuaged her concerns and she answered a few questions for them. But it was becoming clear Ivy was becoming nervous about them.
Ivy explained that Colviarin Firstleaf had been the Commander of the City Watch under the Archmage Esri Fahima. He had been a trusted confident of the wizard’s and, after she had disappeared, he continued to command the City Watch and was quite well-liked. But six months ago, he had been killed when a sorcerer he had consigned to prison managed to escape and sought revenge.
The whole thing had created a political mess. Colviaran’s second in command, Izrahim Afir, became acting Watch Commander, but the laws of city did not allow him to be confirmed as the new general without the express appointment by the archwizard. So, effectively, without rewriting the laws of the city, he cannot become the Commander of the Watch. But he does not have enough support among the Circle of Seven. He is not particularly popular among the wizards, especially because of his Taiian faith. So the Watch, effectively, has lost some of its power in enforcing the laws of the city and without a strong mandate from the Circle of Seven, the Acting Watch Commander’s authority is severely limited.
Meanwhile, Colviarin’s daughter, Alviara Firstleaf, became an Inspector at the Dragon’s Gate Garrison (the garrison that covers this neighborhood). She is young, inexperienced, and still working to distinguish herself, but she is making waves by calling into question the circumstances of her father’s death.
Ivy asked why the party was so interested in this story, but the party would not reveal much. However, they resolved to find the bugbear thugs to give them an excuse to meet with Alviara. They also resolved to be careful about getting too deeply involved with the Redcloaks and to raise enough money to find a boarding house as soon as possible to stop imposing on Ivy.
The party went to sleep…