They pulled The Hand’s body inside Tanner’s home. When the Mules, led by Danae, showed up at Wetstone moments later, the party kept it simple by telling them that unknown assailants had slain Tanner, and that they would be sought out and punished. Or something like that. People seemed to buy it, though Danae seemed suspicious. Kaijo announced that a funeral would be held for Tanner in the Boneyard in the morning, and the crowd more-or-less disbursed. It was apparent that the Palers who’s homes and camps sat on Old Warwick were less than pleased at the loss of the neighborhood hero.
The party set about looting the bodies, and Tanner’s house. They found various dwarven artifacts that they decided to bury with the dwarf. His money and gems, they took, figuring such things would do him no good in the halls of Mother Mariduer. From Radyran and the Hand, they took several healing potions and a dagger, clearly enchanted, with a hilt, grip, and pommel sculpted to look like twisted tentacles. When seen sidelong, the tentacles seemed to writhe. Nobody thought for a moment that it was anything but bad news, and it was given to Thala to keep safe until further study could be made.
They examined the Hand’s corpse more closely than most. Where they expected to find an Ix’ill brand, they instead found a faint, long scar on the inside of her forearm. Cutting it open, Pony and Ink withdrew a truly unpleasant…stringy, twisted, tendony tentacle…cluster? It was gross. It was clearly something that had been somehow implanted into The Hand, and, like the dagger, bore further study.
Weary in every way, the party returned to their camp to get some rest.
First thing the next morning, Tanner was laid to rest. An lot of the Pale showed up, and many of them glanced or glared with hostility at the group while Ezra said words as close to dwarven tradition as any there seemed able. Billcoch Stonewall, added some surprisingly somber (and sober) words as well. When the crowd began disbursing, the party briefly explained to Ezra an Amanda what had actually happened at Wetstone. Both Keepers seemed relatively unsurprised to hear of the depths of the Hand’s betrayal, but agreed to watch for signs of further infiltration as the last handful of proper Shade members were integrated with the Mules.
Thala and Ink then sat down with the cursed Ix’iil dagger and the gross Ix’iil…implant? To work a ritual that might tell them more of the objects’ origins and nature.
The investigation of both objects took a substantial toll on Ink. The strain showed on ze’s face, and more of the strange, inky beetle-images ran across ze’s features as ze whimpered and groaned through the rituals. By the end of each, ze seemed certain of the following:
The Hand had received both the implant and the dagger from Ralaban the Grey, the human leader of M’ziir’s Thieves’ Guild. It was not clear where Ralaban had gotten either object, but Ink could tell that the dagger was special, powerful, and one of only seven made by who or whatever guided the hand of the Ix’iil. The wizards burnt the implant after the ritual was done. It probably didn’t actually scream as it burned.
The party agreed that the dagger was too dangerous to keep around. They wrapped it kn several layers of sackcloth and leather, and gave it to Amanda. They asked the former Keeper to take the filthy thing to the druid Zaxorii in Aven. They were told to ask Zaxorii to give the dagger to Goord, who, they knew, considered the Ix’iil a hated plague. At the same time, they tasked Ezra with walking the Pale Quarter to try and ease tensions between the Mules and the mercenaries from L’Ekar.
After that, Thala went back to the Grey Manse to gather some supplies.
Sardis went over to the sewer outlets to check on his pube-trap. Sure enough, he was pretty sure that someone(s), likely the Hand and Radyran, had passed through that outlet just last night. The Ix’iil clearly used the sewers to get in and out of the city. Classic, but gross.
Pony went off into the Pale, and possibly the City proper, to look for good materials for disguising the party for their assault/infiltration of Bokor Keep, estate of House Ikar.
Meanwhile, Kaijo, Ink, and Akra met with Bangiziplitizikin to discuss the party’s immanent infiltration of the Palace of Ur. Or…perhaps now the Palace of Imil, if the King followed traditional naming conventions for tiefling nobles.
Bangizi reported, in the first place, that there had been some change in the behavior of the astrologers. It wasn’t clear exactly what, but, now that two astrologers prowled the palace, they had changed behaviors abruptly overnight, speaking differently and with different people, or so it seemed.
Beyond that, he provided the group with a hand-drawn, but reasonably detailed map of the Palace that showed troop positions and patrols; the living quarters of significant persons; and some notes on magical security. It was not, the explorationer cautioned, perfect or exact, but it was one hell of an advantage to have when infiltrating a large, unfamiliar structure.
Bangizi agreed to meet the group by the “poop tubes” around nightfall. He said he could lead them through the sewers into Ganitipantuperan, and then into the Palace of M’ziir through a planar breach above the Castle of King Bevinigiangapilatini. Bangizi also agreed to do his best to gather palace guard tabards for as many in the party as he could, though, looking doubtfully at Kaijo and Akra, he said he could not promise to find six in appropriate sizes.
Thus, they had a plan for a busy, busy day and night.