The players convened at a party thrown for them by the Duke of Friedvale, the honorable Lord Gormless Fatsbury. Attending the party were numerous persons of import, and Brog seemed determined to speak to each and every one of them, with or without the Bard's help. Their first attendee was Lord Malrond, the official ambassador to Hell for the city of Friedvale. Their conversation was rather productive, where Brog learned he could procure a Get-Out-of-Hell-Free scroll if he aided Malrond in convincing the Good Bishop Gorgio (another party goer) to sign over his immortal soul in exchange for the High Priesthood of the church of Abadar (still the 'official' religion of the Empire, although it is rumored that the Emperor has himself made deals with Asmodeus, ruler of the 9 Hells.)
Next, the trio of Falister, Tannis and Brog spoke with Bishop Gorgio, and his assistant, Postulant Clark. They asked if he would be willing to sell his soul for the High Priesthood, upon which the good bishop made it known that he would do so only if he were assured of a prominent place in Hell upon his demise....
Brog also had a brief conversation with Lord Bartimeus, who was quite obviously not human. Bartimeus asked if Brog would be so kind as to exonerate him in a small matter involving the illegal feeding upon non-slaves. Lord Bart stated that he was innocent of any non state-sanctioned feeding and that someone had planted a body in his stables to discredit him. Brog agreed to help investigate later.
Sharp-eyed Tannis noticed one of the guard corporals acting suspicious. Corporal Wiggins was sweating profusely, eyes darting nervously. When Fallister questioned him, Wiggins said, "Not here, it's not safe. Meet me at the [name escapes me] Tavern at dusk tomorrow."
Grog spoke to Lord Kinrei and his body guard Virasu Leafcutter (an elf) and inquired why elves were tolerated at this party. Lord Kinrei allowed, rather sheepishly, that this elf in particular was only allowed in because he was Kinrei's slave and body guard. When asked why he was here from the capital, Kinrei explained that he was seeing to Lord Bartimeus after he complained of bad dreams. Lord Kinrei was an expert in the Eastern Healing Arts of directing the flow of chi through the body using acupressure and acupuncture, and he was assisting Lord Bartimeus with these dreams. He asked to examine Brog's aura, touched him in the middle of his forehead, after which Brog had a strange vision but could remember none of it. Lord Kinrei allowed as how Brog had a very bright future ahead of him, and then Brog excused himself.
It was around this time that Brog had the presence of mind to ask about when the next full moon was due. It just so happened, through his knowledge of astrology, that Fallister recalled that the next moonrise would occur in just a few minutes. Brog dragged Fallister to the stables (as he began sprouting long whiskers) while Tannis appealed to Bishop Gorgio for help in removing the curse from their friend. Bishop Gorgio said he would lend the services of a priest in his service who was also attending the party this evening, but the Heroes of the City had to agree to help him ascertain what Dr. Jessup was up to in the harbor at Friedvale. Numerous explosions had been witnessed in the bay, and Gorgio wanted assurances that his assets at the docks were not in any jeopardy. Tannis hastily agreed and led the good priest to the stables where Brog was wrestling furiously with the now transformed bard. Fortunately, Brog was armored head to toe, and the vicious wererat failed to inflict any damage on the valiant ranger. The priest removed the curse from Fallister, who instantly regained his human form.
The final party guest consulted that evening was Hong Wei Tung, a wealthy silk merchant's son. Lord Hong informed Brog that he had made a grave error, that the Black Hand Murderer was still at large and that the identity of the murderer was one Li Hao. [Much excitement from Vocifera as she looked over her notes from previous sessions.] When asked how he knew this, Lord Hong stated that the person they had apprehended was at his residence when several of the murders were perpetrated, so the person they had caught could not be the real murderer. The party remained unconvinced, but said they would investigate, if for no other reason than to ensure their good name and that they remained in the good graces of Duke Fatsbury.
With the final interview completed, the party took their leave of Fatsbury Castle and retired for the evening, leaving watches and taking their ease and recounting tales of their exploits to Karsh and Vocifera.
It was decided the following morning that they would keep their appointment with Corporal Wiggins that evening after interviewing Li Hao at the Inn where he was staying. The party made a deposit at the Temple of Abadar on 9th street, and then proceeded to the inn where Li was reputed to be staying. At the mention of the Centipede and the Black Hand Murders, Li promptly picked Fallister up by the throat with one hand. Fallister hastily convinced Li that they were friends, and the smooth talking bard even got Li to admit that he was none other than the Toad, the fifth of the last pupils of the Poison Clan. Li stated that a share of the gold belonged to him and his friend, the Lizard (whom he did not identify by name), and the party agreed to give two fifths of the Scorpion gold to Li and his friend. They went to the bank, gave Li his money, saw a bunch of guards coming their way and wished Li well and then ducked down an alley. The watched as Li promptly beat the stuffing out of the guards, but then another guard approached and seemed to convince Li to stop fighting. The group left together and the party left satisfied that Li was in good hands.
The rest to follow in Part Two.