28. Shadowy Dealings
Returning to Curieux, the adventuring Bard, André de la Conais, made his rounds to the Grand Arcaneum and, while there, received a letter from Lord Randall de Cranbierre. André reported to the noble estate with due haste, in the middle of the night, and conducted his audience with the lord, his estranged father. Lord Cranbierre informed André that a delivery that he expected to receive had been stolen while in transit. While attempting to mask his chagrin, Lord Cranbierre then proposed a mission for his son: to retrieve the parcel, which contained an expensive brooch and pin that would have been the family’s gift to the newlyweds of the Trow and Roffheld families. For completion of the task, he promised to reward his son, and the latter took no hesitation in deciding that his boon would be an invitation to the upscale wedding. With their arrangement settled, André departed from the Cranbierre estate to pursue his quarry the following day. The next morning at the Adjective Noun, Kent discovered a note with a silver spoon instructing him to go to the Black Cats’ hideout in the Commons called the Cradle. He entered the Cradle with little trouble, though the disdain was obvious from his former guildmates. Then, brought to a direct audience with the Black Cats’ leader, Belinda, the two discussed another deal of their own: Kent would acquire a prized bust from the Trow Estate in exchange for the Black Cats swearing to leave him alone and for Belinda to tell him more about a threat to Angramax. While he attended to that affair, Andraste and Varris returned to Flara’s tailoring shop to commission garb for the cleric that would be suitable for the expected pomp of the wedding, the latter of the duo sparing no expense on the matter. However, when Kent sent Varris word of his location, she immediately left Andraste to look for the mage. Andraste took the opportunity to return to work at the charity stalls where Idan and Alexandre, disguised as a child, encountered him and aided in his efforts for a brief time. Meanwhile, André launched into his investigation of the missing parcel. With the leads from his father, he first looked into the Black Cats, with some help from a street merchant. Once Kent exited the Cradle, André took notice of him. The two mages conversed for some time before Kent provided André with the means to safe entrance, at the condition that André would not kill anyone of the thieving gang. Subsequently, André conducted an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate with Belinda, leading to a scuffle in which he tried to force his way through the thieves’ hideout. However, after running invisible circles around the thieves, he eventually left the Cradle and returned to the streets of Curieux where Kent saw him battered and bruised. With Varris joining them, the three convened at the Virginial Spoon for coffee and snacks. They discussed their respective businesses, though Varris was eventually tapped away by a message from the Cloaks. Returning to her own guild’s hideout in the city, the Manager, Priva Wulan, stated that she had confirmed Varris’s claims with the other branches as well as gave her a job of her own. Within the Trow mansion, Lord Beren Trow kept a prized sword collection, and the Cloaks assigned Varris with the task of procuring one of its members, an exotic scimitar, for a client. Varris accepted, albeit with masked hesitation, and then left the hideout; meanwhile, André and Kent conducted more snooping on the Black Cats via magic. During the endeavor, Kent discovered that Belinda did not have the items André had been searching for but instead possessed knowledge of its possible whereabouts. Armed with the knowledge that a group of dwarven thieves had been responsible for the robbery, the adventurers resolved to look further into the matter the following day, before resorting to a fine dinner and rest for the night. The next morning, Andraste returned to work at the stalls and Varris sought out books on the Scourge from the local library. André and Kent looked further into the dwarven thieving group. While Kent’s attempts did not result in much success, André once again ran into the merchant, Otis the Watchman, from the day before who also directed them to the Feral Bucket where the dwarves purportedly had made their base. The duo, turned trio with Varris reuniting with them, proceeded to the tavern in the Commons. After entering the rough and tumble establishment, André convinced the bartender to provide them access to the dwarves’ private fighting club. Continuing to rely on his charm, the bard managed to acquire a direct audience with dwarven honcho, Daddy Minnezoda. After their introductions, the Daddy openly confirmed that he had come into possession of the desired brooch and pin but had already settled on a buyer for the set. Without missing a beat, André attempted to negotiate for the bobbles, offering gold as well as his services in exchange. Daddy Minnezoda stated that he had already acquired the expensive contract of another warrior, Ronan. Yet, humored by the half-elf, he proposed that André prove himself in a bout against all of his fighters. André accepted the challenge pridefully and without hesitation. Put into the fighting pit, the bard prepared a force of animated knives before the match began. The Daddy’s champion, Ronan, proved to be the greatest threat as he immediately began slashing away at André, though the other fighters also joined into the assault. With his knives, André managed to deeply wound Ronan, but when pushed to the brink, he resorted to transforming into a mammoth to at last render the champion unconscious. However, faced with the remaining fighters, the morphed bard continued the fight until he could no longer hold the spell. Reverting back to his previous self, André fell the blade of one of the other combatants. After the match, Kent restored both André and Ronan while Daddy Minnezoda applauded the bardic warrior’s efforts. The dwarven gang leader acquiesced to André’s proposition for an exchange, turning over the brooch and pin for two favors from the bard, and André sealed the agreement by signing a contract. With André’s prize secured, the group left the establishment with the midday sun beaming on their backs.
"The Daddy enjoyed the presence of that one. Perhaps next time, his compatriots will prove to be just as entertaining."
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