Good idea searching the warehouse, Mark. I didn't think of it.
Joana, I feel your pain. Getting kissed hurts.
While Phillip searches the warehouse, Heward asks Khismia to find out what the infected know about the two who got away and the vargouille's attack.. "How did he get them all? Some of them should have retained freedom to move."
Then he steps outside to find Laya.
Finding one infected in the alleyway, he sends him in to Khismia and Phillip. "Announce yourself when you go through the door. You wouldn't want them to think you might attack."
We should be able to round this up pretty quick. We can pick up Robal, stop by the local Watch office to put them on the trail of the escaped infected, and maybe get them to escort the infected to Pharasma's temple too.
Khismia grimaces at being sent into the midst of the deformed creatures but nods grimly. She pauses at the doorway to take a breath and compose her face in a calm and neutral expression before walking in amongst the blank and tentacled faces. "The Watch stands ready to cure you of your infection and save your lives," she assures them, "but before you can be taken to the priests, they need any information you can provide about the creature that infected you. In his former life, he was called Mig. Did any of you know him? Did you know each other before falling prey to him? Where did he find you? How did he overcome you? What were his intentions in holding you imprisoned here until you had been transformed?"
One young woman, obviously a prostitute from her attire, responds, "I don't know what he had planned. He just said that he could cure us of the change if we did what he told us, which was mostly find more people to bring here, to worship him. I knew him before, to see him. He just flew up when I was working my corner, screamed at me, kissed me, and told me he'd kill me if I tried to run. Then when my hair fell out, he told me I was turning into something like him, but he could stop it if I served him, and that sunlight would slow it down. He told the same thing to all of us. I know a few of the others, mostly just to see them around the End."
"So all of you just ... followed him here?" Khismia asks a bit incredulously. "After he attacked you, and before you showed signs of infection and he had anything to hold over your heads? Was there no one to whom you believed you could go for protection and justice?" She looks back at the working girl, given pause for a moment. "He lied," she tells her bluntly. "He had no more power to stop what was happening to you than he could stop it when it happened to him. The Watch," she gives a wry smile, "intends to follow through on its promises. Stay calm and stick together, and you'll be taken to the temple of Pharasma to be cured. The Watch wants no more monsters on the city's streets."
Assuming no further information is forthcoming, Khismia goes back out into the main area of the warehouse to find Phillip (and Heward and Laya, if they're back inside the warehouse by then). "If the temple intends to do no more for them than it did for the graverobber, it would be kinder to barricade the doors and burn this place down with them inside it. These women fed themselves by selling their bodies on the street corners; how drunk or desperate would a man have to be to pay for the favors of a woman with a bald head and tentacles sprouting from her face? The men who have families: would you send them home to their wives looking like monsters and even less able to earn a living than they were before? Or does the Cryptmistress intend to shield them from public disdain and support them on charity for the rest of their days?"
Male Halfling Inquisitor of Calistria (Heretic archetype)
Phil drags Mig's headless corpse out into the open area of the warehouse. Seeing Khismia he adds "Rest of the place is clean, so those out there are the only ones to worry about."
Hearing her whispered thoughts Phil just stares at her for a few moments to make sure she's serious.. and then gives her a flat "No. It is not ours to choose if they live or die... if they choose to see Pharasma before their time then it is on them... but I've no desire to make that choice for them."
She nods to Mig's headless remains. "He kept them cowed and under his control by promising them a cure. Now the Watch does the same thing. Do you believe they will think they are cured when the temple releases them still looking like monsters, still foggy of mind and unable to think clearly? Will they not rather expect that a 'cure' will return them to what they were before they were attacked and think the Watch has lied to them just like the graverobber did? Will you sleep well tonight and think yourself a hero, having left guiltless victims in such a state?"
Male Halfling Inquisitor of Calistria (Heretic archetype)
Wow.... just wow...
Phillip stares wordlessly at Khismia as she speaks... taking in all of the callous words and her attempted justification of cold hearted murder. He lets a level gaze sit on the woman for a few moments before shaking his head and removing himself from her presence to check the door and see if Laya and Heward are returned.
Laya approaches the doorway. If the door is closed (I'm presuming it probably is), she'll knock gently and call out. If it's open, she'll peer inside and call out. "Hello? It's all right. I don't want to hurt you. I want to help you. I can take you to where you can be cured. I can stop you from becoming any more like the creature that was trying to control you. Please, if you wish an end to your predicament, you must come with me."
"I know nothing of your being put in a holding cell," Laya replies. "What you've done in the past has no relevance to right now. I offer you a chance to keep living and I won't throw you in a cell because you take me up on it."
Heward rumbles up. He glances at the bald woman, then swings his eyes to Laya. "You found her. Good. Let's get back to the others. We need to get moving if we're going to get them to the Temple before sunset. Shadows are growing long."
Pick up Robal on the way. Get this half of the party together and see if we can this lot of infected to the temple?
Laya nods to Heward, then smiles at the woman. "Please, come with me. As he says, we need to get you to the temple before sunset. The darkness will worsen your condition so we must act while there is still light." She offers the woman her hand.
Mia (her name) accompanies you meekly enough, though she looks abashed when she sees Phillip, remembering her attempted clubbing of him. The sun has fully set when you reach the Carhedral, though you don't lose any infected. The Cryptmistress confirms that she will see to their care as best as possible.
Once the infected have been release into the care of the Cryptmistress, Laya breathes a long sigh of relief. "Thank goodness that's over with," she says. "Now we just have to worry about mad wizards. Oh, and there was that meeting with that counsellor--what was his name again? Nevermind, I suppose we'd better get to that, shouldn't we? I do hope he got our message."
"The councilor ? Oh, Councillor Pellerin. Griffin's balls! It wouldn't do to stand the man up. We'd best get right down there. We'll take a cab."
"Hargreaves, Khismia? Care for a drink? We're headed for a dive in Rag's End and with what we've seen today I think we'd best stick together. Two or three may not be enough with these vargouilles around."
A buxom serving wench wearing less clothing than a Calistrian abbess roughly deposits three mugs of cloudy warm ale onto your table. Councillor Pellerin takes a drink from it, grimacing at the taste, or maybe the texture.
"Augh. That's n-n-nasty. But the eyes here are l-l-l-looking at our purses and not our f-f-f-faces. F-first, let me say, well done with that whole in-n-ncident at Lord Millis'. Too bad about b-b-b-being arrested. Obviously, that all worked out for you. Tell me, what do you know about M-m-m-Magnimar politics?"
"No one will worry you about your purse while we are here." Declares Awgin. "And about politics I know nothing. I'd rather keep it that way, though I get the feeling you're about to educate me some anyway."
A bit of anger flashes in his eyes, "If you are going to continue operating within MSI and this city, you need to get educated, lest you get yourselves arrested again. We worked too hard, lobbied too much, cashed in too many favors, to get this division formed, and in the end, we got one unit. You, and if bumbling through political waters you don't know the currents of because you're too proud or stupid to bother learn them gets all our efforts wasted, then it will be the people of Magnimar who suffer the loss. Something is afoot in this city, something not right, something not good. Some of us can see it, though we have no clue what it is or what it means, but we can't depend on heroes from Sandpoint happening to be on hand to save us when it does come to pass. Millis and his yes-men on the Council blocked our efforts. We don't know if it's because they're behind whatever is going on, or if it's just because we made this initiative seem to come from the Lord Mayor and Millis opposes the mayor on sheer principle alone."
"It is a 'G-g-g-game' in many ways, if a d-d-d-deadly one at times," Pellerin says, his anger vanishing and stutter returning in perfect time. "The likes of you and m-m-m-me can find our lives ruined, or simply g-g-g-g-gone with one wrong step."
"Some of us on the C-c-c-c-council of Ushers are there to make some sort of d-d-d-d-difference. Most simply want the power, prestige, and k-k-k-kickbacks that tend to go with the position. I've seen many good men and w-w-w-women with good ideas get burned out (or f-f-f-forced out) fighting the corruption, but there are a few of us left. They...they d-d-d-din't want me to meet with you t-t-t-tonight, and don't want me to reveal who they are...yet. We - they - want you and your g-g-g-roup to prove yourselves, more than you already have, that you, t-t-t-too, are in this for the g-g-g-good of Magnimar. To oppose those like Lord Millis and Lady Phillipa Harvent who only seek to secure power for themselves, no matter the cost. G-g-g-g-grobaras is not a nice man, for sure, and is h-h-hedonistic to the extreme, but he's careless and foolish in many ways, ways that let us operate for the good of the city and its c-c-c-citizens without his opposition."
He pauses, looking concerned. "Perhaps I've said t-t-t-t-too much as it is." He stands up, quickly passing you a note. "An address. If you need to c-c-c-c-contact me. There's a street lamp at that corner with a broken base that you can open. Put a c-c-c-c-coin inside it, a copper for a meeting, a g-g-g-g-g-old if it's an emergency. I'll have somebody discretely check it every d-d-d-day. We can meet here. Be careful, and k-k-k-k-keep up the good work."
"Not everyone sees a position in government as a responsibility, with obligations and a duty of care towards those whom they govern," said Calatin. "It is to your credit that you do understand that it is a challenge to step up to, not an honour or an opportunity to serve your own interests... So, what do you need us to do to support you in fulfilling your role properly in the service of the citizens of Magnimar?"
As Awgin and Calatin pay their bill (a few coppers in this place) and head outside, they spot the others (minus Khismia?) stepping out of a cab. Happy to be able to get out of Rag's End, the summit-based cabby takes off as soon as you're out of his vehicle and doesn't look back.
"Not a great deal, I'm afraid," says Calatin, absent-mindedly stroking the owl. "Just that a scant few of the Council of Ushers are there for the right reasons, public service, and they approve of what MSI is intended to do. They want us to 'prove' ourselves, and while they do not wish to reveal who they all are at this point of time, have given us a way to contact them in case of need."
"I think you ask the wrong question. You should have asked what did he want. I think he wanted to size us up. To see if we are what he hopes us to be. To see if we are what Captain Percival has told him we are. You should have been here, Law-man. I hope you have a good excuse to give the Captain. But you know, no pressure."
Heward frowns. "Politics. I wish they would just get out of the way and let us do our job." He snorts a little at Awgin's comment. "Quit cracking my stones. I'm sure you two represented us very well. We're doing our best and this vargouille thing should be a more than adequate excuse. We found Mig by the way. Dead and flying with his ears. He'd already infected a half dozen citizens. We got them to the temple in time. Poor bastards." He shakes his head "I hope Wizzo made out well uptown. If we can lay this to rest we can get back to work on the mage case."
Male Halfling Inquisitor of Calistria (Heretic archetype)
Phil gives a mild gesture of greeting to the others before calling for ale. As the others speak, he is quiet in reflection. Ale in left hand and making a silver piece dance across the knuckles of his right hand. Grunting as Heward updates them he adds "Aye, we got Mig... but theres still another out there somewhere isn't there?"
"Quit playing with that shiny before someone takes undue notice." Awgin snaps at Philip. "We can't wait for Wizzo. It has to be us that takes that thing down. Every victory we get makes not only makes us more friends in power, but also strengthens the power of our friends."
So once Phillip has finished his rather vile ale (though not the worst he's ever had - he has spent time in Riddleport, after all), the group of intrepid heroes heads north and up. Khismia has met with the Princess to report the evening's success and received instructions to continue working with the MSI Unit in securing the city from these vargouilles (with a bit added in to make sure she spreads the word that the Princess has lent the City Watch this aid on their request). She's waiting for the group back at MSI headquarters and you head towards Magnimar Memorial Gardens as a set of six.
Arriving at the Gardens, you find Sgt. Vic Wizzo standing outside the main gates to the cemetery, a steaming mug of coffee in one hand, and his longsword in the other. He offers you a stiff salute (with his sword hand) as you approach.
"I take it this means all went well in Rag's End?" he asks. "Either that, or you're here to tell me we're evacuating the city."
"Craptastically! I have men out, scouring this cemetery, and nothing. We've searched the surrounding areas, canvassed almost two city blocks, and other than some old bat who got up to pee (and i got a great tale on the woes of her bladder infection!) and heard shrieking the night your thieves did their thing (or it might have been last month, she wasn't too sure), nothing. Did I mention nothing yet? Wherever your floaty head guy is, he isn't hanging around these parts."