"Corrupted!? How?" Panrick listens closely and his face falls further and further as Ianna goes on. At the end he sits and runs a hand through his hair. "I swear I'll have aged ten years by the end of all this." Panrick looks at the token and gives a small sigh of relief. "At least I know that you speak the full truth. Yes, it is time to see this done. I will pull whatever strings and favors I still have left." He grits his teeth. "The only person I truly trust anymore is Tosscobble. If you want I can send word to him to join you."
Ymir guides Bjorjus, Dalton, and Ianna back to the surface. The trip is significantly shorter, but still has a number of twists and turns. Clearly the party was lead around in circles to get them lost, luckily Ymir is not tricked so easily.
The party, ever dwindling in size, resurfaces in the secret back room of the governmental building. Panrick is pouring over a pile of papers with a half-empty mug of tea next to him when they resurface. He looks up and takes his spectacles off, coming over with a half-hearted smile. He looks expectantly behind them, then his face falls when it becomes apparent nobody else is coming.
Dalton did just scan the area for magic, and found nothing but a few harmless items on Panrick.
"You honestly didn't seem that much out of the ordinary, even when I'm thinking about it now I can't really think of any differences. I told the council about hiring you a week or so before you came here. I had to get their approval."
What is the sign going to be?
Panrick stops, his mouth slightly agape. "I wasn't exaggerating. I've met you here, in my fishing hut, three times before this. I can't speak for Fosco, he only tells me of the larger issues. You were here a little less than a week ago. You...you were arrested after the robbing of the museum because you were inside when it happened."
"I am not friends with him, so the meeting may seem a little odd. He's been more stressed, but so have we all. I don't know if I can trust my own mother these days."
He stares at the dwarves siblings. "I want to know everything. Frankly I deserve to know, and the more I know the more I can help you. There may be a lot of dirty officials around, but if I was one of them you would already be at Villichi's feet by now."
Panrick stops at the door and listens to Bjorkus. When he's done, Panrick turns with a worried look. "I don't know who to trust anymore. My closest allies have opposed me, friends turned to Villichi's dogs, and no matter what is done the violence and death only seems to escalate. And now I'm forced to put my trust into strangers who I found through the black market. Sometimes I wonder if what I'm doing changed anything at all." He looks out the window, towards the massive waterfall. "Tetserine. He is the most experienced and highest ranking metal-worker employed by Grastle Hollow. When the Skynetal Forge is put to use, he is in charge of the projects. Nobody knows more about it than he does. I can arrange for a meeting in a few hours, tell him it's about some unrelated matter."
Panrick sneers. "Perhaps it's you that's been talking. We had a problem with the underground before you came, but things have gotten worse since you came here. Maybe all of this is just a ruse to let Villichi's claws even deeper into us. Maybe I should just back out from supporting you and see what happens without our support. I'm sure Tosscobble won't be too upset about not having to let you out of jail for the, 4th time is it now?"
"If you want your information, what is the alternative? I hardly know anything about it except its existence."
At Ianna he glares. "I don't know what kind of ragtag missions you're used to, but I'm appalled you came with the reputation you have. You pretend at professionalism and hold yourselves so high, as if everybody else is incapable of any action and the only action they do take gets in your way." He stands. "I don't think you have fully grasped the concept that you are criminals acting above the law with nobody to hold you responsible for your actions. If it were not for me speaking on your behalf, the council intended to have both you and Villichi eliminated at once. So when I tell you it's hard to get them to give you highly secretive information, it's because not only do they not trust you, it's because they'd rather have you arrested or dead along with Villichi. So please, do not insult me by telling me the people trying to help you are incompetent or worse."
"Well I could certainly have the area swept..." He muses. "Look, I'll bring it up with the council, but I wouldn't be optimistic."
As Dalton asks about sweeping he opens his arms. "Feel free. I had hoped between the open area and loud falls nearby that eavesdropping would be impossible."
Dalton scans the area, but beyond a few magic items on Panrick's person (innocent items like a cloak of resistance and a healing potion) there is no magic in the area.
"But...I can't even imagine Villichi getting there. At least not without us hearing about it. I could believe that he smashed his way through security, but slipping in and out dozens of times? It's just not realistic. When I say airtight I mean it literally. Nobody has been down there in months." He shakes his head vigorously. "Absolutely not! I've been fighting while backed into a corner for these past few weeks just to make sure you keep the government's support as is, there is no chance they could approve you knowing of that! Plus I only know the bare bones of the info as is..."
It takes the better part of a full day for the party to set up a meeting with Panrick. But finally, after doubling back and changing disguises, they are back at the official's little vacation getaway. No doubt the current events will taint his memories of the place.
Panrick flashes his brilliant smile as the party walks up. "Well I certainly can't attest to the details but it appears you're making progress! Even Mr. Tosscobble had a few nice things to say about you this time. But I digress; what brings you here?"
Panrick shakes his head. "No, it's not typical at all. We have a very low murder rate to begin with, and something like these gruesome public displays is unheard of here." He frowns and considers the idea. "No, I suppose we do not have any hard evidence that Villichi is behind this. I just assumed with everything going on, with him in charge, and with the adamantine stirring things up, that it must have been him. It scares me to think that there might be somebody else out there."
Panrick gives a grim frown. "They are outmaneuvering us at every turn and have us tripping over our own feet, but I believe a direct fight would end poorly for them. As for bait...I think that's a very extreme measure. I hate to put any loyal guards in harms way. Do you really think this strategy will work?"
Panrick looks at Dalton with mouth agape. "You would make yourself a target like that?" He looks at the others who seem less shocked by the suggestion than him. He slumps with a resigned sigh. "I feel like a child trying to understand the game being played here. Just tell me how I can help."
Panrick is no saint by any measure; in fact among the other government officials here you can tell he's one of the best manipulators by far. However, his game is politics, and not the mean kind. He's a fish out of water in this more dangerous scenario and is just hoping that you're there to help him, not drown him and profit off of it.
Once they get close to the shack, the smooth features of Panrick in a much less formal outfit open the door. He's in blue and green explorers cloth that look like they've seen some wear and his lanky hair suggests he's been out on the water. With an unusual grimness he beckons the party inside.
Panrick sits everybody, getting out some drinks (water or light sleeper depending on preference) before standing at the head of the small dining table. "We've just had a massive influx of adamantine last night into the city. I don't know if it was you or not, and I don't care to know. But clearly it had gotten some attention because we have had six separate attacks on different smiths, all of whom just received this adamantine. Two are missing. The other four are dead, their bodies displayed in public." He gives a dark look and sips his water. "We got the bodies off the street as quickly as we could, but word is already spreading. I hope it doesn't turn into a panic. But that's besides the point. We've put the rest of the smiths under 24/7 watch by the city guard, but the six victims have already have their entire stock looted from their empty shops, and two other smiths report their stocks have been stolen." He gives a sigh and shakes his head. "Just thought you needed to know."
The party is seen to a small and private room where Panrick has some food and drink brought so the party may refresh themselves. While here Rilka is contacted by Drosil who says he received her message loud and clear and is already working on getting the "references" setup.
Several hours later, Panrick returns with a complete information dump, mostly in written form.
A map of the city is first. While incredibly large, the map is surprisingly simple. The entire west side of the city is open to a massive waterfall and lake where the airships come in and go out from. The rest of the city is surrounded by steep mountains. The northwestern portion (where the party is currently) houses government buildings and other official buildings, as well as the docks for the airships. The north-central and northeastern portions are primarily industry, the largest buildings in the city save for the current one. The central-western, central, and south-central portions of the city are all a mix of smaller businesses and merchants and shops and entertainment; all the purchasable goods of the city and a huge portion of the culture is found here. There are also a fair number of residences. The central-eastern and south-eastern portions are primarily residences, as well as housing for workers in the mountains. The southwestern portion houses visitors (full of inns) and is also where docks are for non-flying ships.
The crime is primarily located in the more business centered areas. They don't touch upon the big industries much, although they do drift into government and residences when the occasion calls for it. As for an actual location or base of operations, that is unknown. Panrick has also taken the liberty of marking out particular assets and businesses and people that the government would prefer they avoided pissing off.
The party is also given the complete crime record for the city. Everything from Villichi (disappointingly useless information) to pickpockets is in here. If the party gets a name and consults the list, they know what the person has done.
They are also given information on all of the guards. Name, rank, history, and where they are on a day-to-day basis. Evading them should be easy, as should be using them for other purposes.
The party is also provided their war chest of 3000 gold, a literal chest filled with gold that is hefted by four burly-looking gnomes.
Please remind me if I forgot anything. Also if you ask any specifics about the above information it is assumed that you know all general information and a good deal of specific information.
"No, I've been known to go ice fishing, nobody would think it strange. It will take me a few hours to gather some of the resources as well as get ahold of your contact in the guard. You're more than welcome to stay and wait if you wish."
I appreciate the bump post Bjorkus. It's totally fine when one of you has nothing to say, but it's nice to know you're here and ready to move forward.
Panrick goes back to his brilliant smile. "Oh no offense taken! I am a child in such matters and will take all advice you have on the situation." His smile fades and he looks apprehensive. "You really think so? Perhaps I should increase my personal security..." He murmers.
He snaps back to attention. "Ah yes. A discrete way to meet? Hmm, I do have a fishing house on the outskirts of the city, next to the grand waterfall. Since it's the cold season nobody is really out by the water, and even if there was company the noise of the water makes eavesdropping nigh impossible. It's not an overly comfortable place, but it is quaint."
"So, without any further objection I will have the contract drawn out. I will also gather the necessary people and papers to get you all of your required information, as well as meeting with the representative from the guard. Let us say, meet tonight at five in the grand hall? I will give you a proper welcome to our fair city, complete with dinner and the opportunity to meet other people of note."
"Oh of course. I was more concerned about if they possessed something like one of our airships, or even more important something that is important to our security. Hmm. Three thousand in a war chest but well documented and unspent funds are to be returned. Yes, very appropriate."
With the culture reference, you think him making the government property detail is less about robbing you of funds and more about making sure you can't legally outmaneuver him into owning something like, say, their national treasury. He's covering his own ass more than anything.
Panrick flicks his gaze between the competing points, listening and nodding along to each one. He takes a moment to pause, then responds. "Ragnar, you make a very good point. Overspending is undesirable, but what is even worse is spending money and not even getting the job done. The first priority will be, of course, your success."
He smiles at Ziza's point. "Ah yes, the mercenary discount. I believe any gear you find would better serve you anyways, yes I find that very agreeable. What do you say to the tune of 8000 gold upon conclusion of the job, and you are given free reign to confiscate anything from those you apprehend? Of course stolen government property would be an exception."
He turns to Chibi. "I wasn't sure how much of a budget you already had. I would hate for you to feel underfunded in our city. How about 25% paid up front?"
Fair warning: I have a bias against taking 10 in social situations.
Panrick's lip curls up in a smile. "Of course it is of the utmost importance, but that doesn't mean that lesser goals should be ignored in the process. If I must bankrupt the government to save us I will, but I would much rather get rid of the threat and keep costs down simultaneously." He tilts his head. "Do I take it you are not in agreement with Lopa on the contract? Of course nothing is set in stone yet, if you need time to discuss that is fine."
Sense Motive DC 32:
Oh, he would absolutely be counting silvers in a plague. He would be inspecting the coppers for metal purity.
?: 1d20 ⇒ 18
"More than reasonable, I will gather some educated people to give you detailed annotations wherever possible." I plan on giving you guys a big info dump at the end of talking with Panrick.
Panrick flashes his brilliant teeth once again. "So, are we all agreed on the price than? If so I will have a contract drawn up posthaste."