With the Lotus Dragon Guildhall secured and firmly under the eye of both the Sunrise District city watch and a representative of the Dawn Council, Dorian, Othar, Kizziar, Tobin, and Churtle ascended up from the sewers beneath Sasserine with the first light of dawn, leaving Traxen, who was identified by one of the Sunrise Watch members as an old colleague, to give the official statement and show the Dawn Council’s representative around the now empty guildhall. Promising he’d catch up to the rest of them later on, the rest of the group decided it would be best to visit Lavinia immediately to give her the news, good and bad.
With a disguised Chortle in tow, the party beat a brisk path from Dead Dog Alley to the nearby Merchant District, noting along the way that the city was preparing for the first annual Wormfall Festival, a celebration of the defeat of a lich by heroes from the neighboring city of Cauldron, the year before. At last they arrived at Vanderboren Manor, where Lavinia’s valet, Kora, lead them to the familiar private dining hall. Lavinia shortly joined them, breathlessly trying to contain her excitement about the large chest full of coin bearing her family’s seal that the party carried with them. Othar and Dorian cautioned her to curb her enthusiasm for a moment, as there was a good deal of bad news with the good. Bidding her sit down, they recounted the evening’s events to their trembling employer.
While overjoyed to have the coin stolen from her family’s vault by her brother Vanthus, she barely managed to contain her grief and sorrow when they finally informed her that by his own admission, Vanthus had been responsible for their parent’s murder, and for the sole purpose of profit, no less. While momentarily overcome, Lavinia quickly steeled herself and changed her directive to her faithful retinue; no longer was Vanthus to be returned to her for salvation. He must be held accountable for his crimes.
Removing his portrait from the wall overlooking the hall as a gesture of catharsis, she thanked the party again both for their bravery and honesty in all their dealings with her, and gave each of them a massive parcel of coin out of the money returned to her. “Take a day or two off”, she told them. “We know from the paperwork you found where Vanthus has gone, and it’s as good a lead as any we have. But rest for a little while, you have more than earned it.” While Kizziar and Othar returned to their homes, Dorian requested and was granted temporary lodging in one of the guest rooms in the manor for himself and Churtle, just until they took to sea after Vanthus.
Deciding to meet up later that afternoon at the Vanderboren Manor, the group closed the book on the Lotus Dragons for the time being and set in to enjoy a little R&R before following their clues to the Bay of Blood.
That afternoon, they gathered the bulk of their spoils from the Lotus Dragons and set out to sell what they could before indulging themselves. A little wheeling and dealing netted them a good price on Rowyn’s expensive clothing, jewelry, furnishings, and toys, the only notable hiccup occurring when they attempted to sell the perfume.
The city’s best perfumier, a half-elven man named Joch Phillipeau, explained that the bulk of the perfumes they had were pedestrian, and he bought them in a lot. Four of the vials, however, were exceptional and rare. Delighting in explaining at length the pedigree and rarity of the bottles, there remained one on which he was unwilling to speak. He attempted, rather clumsily, to buy the bottles outright at a low price, but Dorian spotted that he was holding back. Shrewdly, he simply attempted to leave, but Joch called out to him, exclaiming that he could not allow such a rare and magnificent bottle to walk out and live a life of anonymity. For a large sum of gold and the possession of two of the other bottles, he explained with a great deal of pride that the last bottle was a rare, aged perfume that was a favorite of royalty. Its smell is intoxicating, to the extent that many people were powerless to resist those who wore it. A mere dose of this perfume was worth over two hundred gold, and in the bottle there were many doses. Joch lamented that he would make an offer, but he hadn’t the money to come close, and he ventured nobody in Sasserine both knew what they had on their hands and could afford to buy it. Nevertheless, he was glad to have smelled such a magnificent example of his art, and with all feeling they had come out ahead, the party left with the magnificent perfume.
Flush with newfound wealth, the party delivered Tobin’s parcel of gold to him, where he promptly turned it over entirely to his church father. The others decided to get some shopping done. While Othar researched the possibility of investing his money in the city, Dorian purchased a new set of armor. Kizzier, meanwhile, visited the only firearms merchant in Sasserine, a wizened old Kaidan named Mister Dakka, who sold him a scope-mounted rifle. Traxen, for his part, received the glamered armor taken from the body of Kersh, the Lotus Dragon’s torturer, and the armored collar that had belonged to Gut Tugger.
Reminded of Gut Tugger, Othar returned that afternoon to the Lotus Dragon’s guildhall, and after greasing the watch with a little coin, had Gut Tugger’s carcass hauled above ground with the intention of having it taxidermied and stuffed. Having no other options in the city, he sheepishly returned to Nemian Roblach, whom he had assaulted only the day before. Nemian seemed nervous and on edge, but Othar managed to show him Gut Tugger’s body before being shut down completely, and at the sight of it, Nemian became visibly excited by the prospect of the job. Putting aside his dislike of Othar to do business, an arrangement was made to have Gut Tugger stuffed and mounted. Othar was to return in a week.
Returning to Vanderboren Manor, Othar and Dorian made a brief detour to purchase a conch shell and a few sets of brightly-colored clothing for Churtle, who was acclimating to life in the city poorly. Delighted at the beautiful gifts, Churtle put her new friends in an awkward position when she immediately offered them sexual favors in return for the gifts. Talking to Othar in her native draconic – something that delighted her immensely – revealed that Churtle was under the warped impression that what she was doing was the natural expectation from someone who gives you a gift. It had to be explained to her very carefully, so as not to crush her feelings, that nobody in the group would be molesting her in exchange for gifts. The matter was complicated by Churtle’s belief that not being taken up on her offer would equate with rejection, but the mess was temporarily averted for the moment.
The following morning, the party was visited at their respective dwellings by a messenger who delivered an invitation from the Dawn Council, inviting the group to a party in their honor to be held at Castle Taraknian the following evening. Lavinia, it seemed, had been invited as well, and the party got together in the early afternoon to gear up for their jungle adventure ahead and purchase formal clothing for the bash in their honor.
During their shopping it occurred to them that they still had one loose end left untied from the guildhall; that of Lucas, the halfling thief whom the mysterious “M” had asked them to recover. Making their way to Last Ditch Lovers, the group gained an audience with “M” in her shabby, brothel room. While she was saddened by the loss of her friend, she thanked the party for returning his things to her and for the destruction of the Lotus Dragons, and gave them Lucas’ magical badge as payment. Enchanted by the young lady, Dorian asked her if she would accompany him to the party being thrown at Castle Taranian the following evening. She agreed, and at last told the men her name: Moxie.
The following evening, Lavinia hired a carriage to collect her friends from about the city and take them in style to Castle Taraknian. After retrieving Traxen, Kizziar, Othar, Dorian, Tobin, and Moxie, they arrived at the castle to a round of wild applause. Most of the nobility and heads of the major guilds in the city were present, including all six of the living members of the Dawn Council, chief among them Worrin Lidu, who organized the event, as well as the headmaster of the House of the Dragon, which Othar had been kicked out of, and Heldrath Kellani, Rowyn’s mother and matron of the Kellani family, who appeared to be the only one in no mood to celebrate.
The party continued with drinking and dancing as the party hobnobbed with the luminaries of the city. While Kizziar attempted to drum up more business for his friend Mister Dakka, Dorian played the part of the social butterfly, engaging everyone, making friends everywhere he went, and by the evening was the toast of the party. Othar, on the other hand, had a direct agenda, and in private talks with his former headmaster and Worrin Lidu, he set in motion plans that would raise his esteem in his family’s eyes and in the noble community. Lavinia was hailed as a genius and heroic matron to Sasserine for her hand in forming and funding the party, while Moxie seemed to be chasing an agenda all her own.
Midway through the evening, Worrin Lidu calmed the crowd and called the group to the raised stage at the far end of the room, and presented the five of them with the Spire of Sasserine, a medal awarded only to those who were deemed to have performed a great service for the city. Throughout a wave of cheers and applause, the group was lauded as heroes. The only source of quiet in the room was Heldrath Kellani, who glared at them with an expression of pure hatred.
As the party wound down, Lavinia, slightly drunk, said she’d be asking the carriage to take her home soon. Kizziar, Traxen, Tobin, and Othar decided to take the ride, while Dorian and his date decided to go find trouble elsewhere. Romance seemed to be on more than one mind as Othar passed his drop off at home to “see Lavinia home safely”, only to be completely cockblocked by Kora, who was waiting for her lady’s arrival. Despondently, he walked home alone. Dorian, meanwhile, fared better. He and Moxie made their way back to the Shadowshore by way of a dozen pubs and gaming halls, where they drank, gambled, and perhaps even got into a fight or two before calling it quits in the early morning. Thanks to a dab of the rare perfume applied earlier in the evening, Dorian made a favorable impression, and as the liquor flowed, Moxie’s tongue loosened, and she told Dorian of her plans about a new thieves guild in the city, an actual “guild” in the strictest sense of the word, one without torturers and punishment, an organized criminal underground, one that could possibly even work with the city to accomplish ends it can’t publicly back. Enchanted by the idea and the woman, Dorian returned to Vanderboren Manor alone.
The time for celebration had passed. The next day would find them seeking passage to the Bay of Blood, and hopefully to Vanthus.