People were missing from the poorer parts of Town. There were animals going missing from the lands up north. Other jobs that seemed outside our wheelhouse of expertise. All these and more were available after things were set “right” in Dillard. We opted for the missing persons. Maybe it was because we’d all lost something on our own personal journeys. Maybe it was just out of some sense of duty. Probably it was really just about the gold. Gold buys stuff. We like stuff. It was easy math.
So we headed to The Shades. It was the poorest part of Dillard and was little more than a slum. For the most part the streets were quite narrow and it was easy to see why it was called The Shades.
On the widest of the streets, if street was really the appropriate term here, we were wandering almost aimlessly when we came upon a vendor with a little cart selling bread in the street. It looked like trash but I knew how Shojins belly worked. He bought some and I couldn’t bear for him to be unhappy with the taste. So I worked a little something and it seemed to make that bread taste like the heavens.
The vendor was happy with the sale and when asked about the missing people he didn’t know anything about it, but he did point us to one of the finer establishments locally, The Velvet Saddle.
The Velvet Saddle was a… well brothel.
We were met outside by what I at the time could only imagine was the madame of the place. She was hesitant to talk in the street but when presented with a little gold was more than happy to bring the lot of us into one of her rooms.
Of course that room turned out to be her office. She asked us to turn around and so I let Huginn help me see where the safe in the floor was, in case I would ever decide to come back later since it sounded like there was a good bit of gold in there.
Valerie, the madame, knew nothing of the missing people, but did seem to know about a group calling themselves “The Rats”, who were shaking down local businesses for protection money. It seemed that they travelled in packs of three and were due back later in the day. But first we needed more information.
So we travelled down the street to what appeared to be a coffee house or tea shop, but upon entry was neither. Siefert the owner was more than happy to fill us in on the comings and goings of these “Rats”. It seems that they tried to collect from him but Samuel, the man mountain by the door, I would later find out was Clever’s brother, broke their leaders arm and had sent them scurrying off to the shadows.
While there we also encountered a man called “Clean Peter”, who tried to plie us with kind words and seemed to know more than he let on, but we never had the chance to find out. We were burning daylight and we needed a plan. So we headed back into the street for a return to the Saddle and to see if we could get anything more.
Before heading inside, I hung back and let Huginn fly and looked through him at the local surroundings. I was looking for groups of three and after a few minutes found a group that looked like it fit the bill, except that it was five, counting Mr. Broken Arm and I saw them coming out of what I would find out was “The Albatross”, some dump a few blocks away. We had precious little time to prepare. But we work best under pressure and love to test our mettle.