It was late in the morning of the 17th of Pharast when everyone woke and began to make their way downstairs for some food and coffee. Velekh had beaten everyone downstairs to continue his discussions with Clive, the Horseshoe Inn barkeep.
Velekh had much to tell the group, as Clive had shared quite a few rumors and goings-on in town.
First, the War Manual was rumored to be seen at the Crossing Inn. Also, Feck’s father was killed at the Crossing, 70 years past.
Another bit of town news centered around a recent zombie attack at Old Nick’s Gun Emporium. In a strange turn of events, the zombies made a coordinated attack on the shot tower. Strange behavior for zombies indeed.
Finally, a strange looking gentleman checked into the inn mere hours before our arrival. Pale in complexion with a hunched back and long fingernails, this guest made several strange demands before retiring to his room upstairs. The description fits Mercutio perfectly. But what is he doing here?
Oh ya, and one last thing … don’t drink the water in Palon!
Clive indicated that Mercutio had entered the Beer Garden patio area to meet yet another strange visitor, described as a fat, reeling weirdo. The group decided to investigate. Naiaer wove a disguise spell that transformed her into the likeness of one of the Horseshoe busboys and attempted to eavesdrop on their conversation. Xanther hoisted himself onto the roof to observe from above while the rest of the party waited outside in the alley. Xanther had a close call as he failed to enter Mercutio’s room from the rooftop and fell down into the alley. Alerted by the commotion, Mercutio walked into the alley, barely missing Xanther as he scrabbled around the corner out of sight.
Unfortunately, Naiaer’s attempt at spying proved unsuccessful since both Mercutio and his elven companion were speaking in a strange and disgusting sounding language. The repulsive burps, ticks and grunts each were making while they conspired were further amplified by the deformed physique of the elf. His bloated body bulged in odd places and caused him to move in such an unnatural manner that he was hard to watch without feeling uncomfortable.
Naiaer’s failed attempt to interact with the couple prompted the group to confront the two; but Velekh had already separated from the group and approached Mercutio and the deformed elfon his own. Mercutio introduced his companion as Banradril. He made no response to attempts at conversation in Elvish. The at times heated conversation ended abruptly when Nolthenius insinuated that Banradril stunk. A few last works between Mercutio and Banradril, and Mercutio vanished in thin air, calling the party “mortals, servitors, and starvelings.” Banradril drew a long sword. Combat!
Banradril revealed himself as a large demonic worm with a five hinged jaw, but got confused by Nolthenius’s seemingly random chant and started biting himself in the tail. Still confused, Anzo fatally sliced the demon into two, ending the confrontation. A quick search of the remains revealed the the elf was from Mierani. Items included a long sword, leather armor and an empty quiver. No bow was found.
Meanwhile, upstairs, Naiaer disguised herself as a maid and gained access to Mercutio’s room with a the use of a well placed unlock spell, only to find his room empty and unused.
After a brief discussion, the party decided to go to the Crossing Inn and investigate the rumored appearance of the War Manual. Upon entering the seating area of the inn, it was clear that every mercenary in town had gathered here with hopes of getting their hands on the manual.
In the center of the crowded inn, Kail could be seen making a spectacle of himself with extravagant spending and food. Kail went even further by staging a failed beggar pickpocket attempt which exposed a (fake) War Manual. When no one made a move for the fake, Kyle decided to return to his room in the Gold Dust hotel and casino. The party followed, with questions.
Upon further conversations with Kail, it was revealed that he believed that demon lords were conspiring to build an army to enslave the mortal races and that the War Manual was sought by these evil forces to aid in their diabolic plans. The party reasoned that Mercutio was one of these agents, but Kail revealed that there was another in the immediate area of Palon, responsible for the zombie attacks. He also mentioned the name of Skeltur.
Nolthenius was professionally contemptuous of Kail’s juvenile-seeming ruse of using a fake War Manual to attract attention, since it had so far proven itself to draw out vast crowds of “nobodies,” and hadn’t provided any leads to the real killer, or the location of the real War Manual. The party decided to pursue other leads.
So what of these zombie attacks? The party headed out to investigate the most recent attack on the shot tower at Old Nick’s Gun Emporium. Old Nick revealed the source of the zombie infestation to be a maze of catacombs buried under a nearby hill, so the party spent the afternoon preparing for their assault by crafting some stable firebombs infused with a holy essence.