… the four assailants wasted no time in filling our captive with bolts, slaying him within seconds. We gave pursuit, but most of them scattered. Thankfully, Filandrael sneaked around the back and tripped one up, taking him prisoner. It was clear that our enemies knew our location and had no intention of allowing a prisoner to reveal their plans, so the plan had to be changed.
Some guardsmen came out and questioned them. I had thought to enlist their help, but our friend the Warden Dwarf carefully (if drunkenly) hinted that our enemies may be among the Worthy Men as well as among any other group. They pushed for interrogating the prisoner ourselves, in private, and I could not deny the logic in this, though it pains me to lack a face we all know we can trust.
We tiptoed on back-alleys around the night-time streets to the address given by our first prisoner, found a scantily-used apartment, and our group scouted it while I stood watch and Filandrael shared some recent events with me — his membership in a certain group, and the clear attempt by someone to frame him for the assassination that was clearly timed for that exact moment.
We used the apartment to interrogate our new prisoner, who was quick to name the Hurch Gang as his employers. He stuck to this story and offered to take a message to the Hurch leader, Plint Dundarry, if we desired. He insisted he did not know Plint’s location, which seems plausible.
The rogue did not have much else to offer, and did not long survive his wounds. He bore two notes – one with the name “Dick & Pickle” (the place where we held the first prisoner), the other with a description of my old friend Filandrael — clearly, they have singled him out for something, though precisely what I cannot surmise as yet.
What to do now? Believe the rogue’s story or not, the Hurch Gang is our most solid lead, and we have no real reason to doubt it (or at least no more likely direction thus far). But we have no friend in the ranks, do not know the territory, and they are one of the strongest gangs in the region. Entering on our own could be suicide, while entering with backup could start a civil war, or at best might still leave Piter short on men to defend him.
We crept back to the town square and into the rear entrance of the Elf’s Tears — all but Bargol, who threw caution to the wind to spend a luxurious night in his own room across the way at the Dick & Pickle. The rest of us have boarded at the Elf’s Tears for the night after an unexpectedly long day. Filandrael and I quietly went upstairs to find any further hint of those who set him up, but found nothing, and with no further ideas we, too, retired for meditation.
The day has been long and eventful. I cannot help but feel this task we have been given has barely yet begun.
8th day of the Wyvern, Year of the Crown
We awoke early this morning feeling refreshed. On a hunch, I led our group across to “The Crossroads” to see if I could sense my quarry. He remains undeniably near, and confoundingly out of reach. I sensed nothing, apart from the same sign I have had now for nearly a day — all in the region around the square.
We finished breakfast and questioning locals and hurried on toward the King, as we hoped to consult with the King for new instructions.
On the way there, we came across a family fleeing their own home. I regret to say my first reaction was to leave their plight to the guards — we had no time to spare, and our quest was urgent, was it not? But it became clear that the guards paid no attention to their concerns, and the “rats” they claimed had overtaken — overtaken! — their home were far more dire than any should have reason to suspect.
Many of the rats were normal, but clustered into groups that seemed to have a wisdom of their own. Others were of an enormous size, enlarged by some unnatural force — a sorcery not entirely unknown to me, alas. We dispatched them with only moderate difficulty, though Filandrael was nearly slain, and barely pulled to safety.
We laid open the children’s room and I immediately put another horde of rats to sleep. Fyrsson charged into the parents’ room, and then a terrible thing happened, and this I swear: a shadow dislodged itself from the very wall and moved to attack him…