The next day, the constables met at the office, making their way through a small crowd of people who had assembled to greet Rock Rackus as he was released from RHC custody. Before they could meet up to mull over their new leads, Kida ve Alema found a package waiting for her: a ghost strike ki focus that she hadn’t ordered. Doubtless it would come in handy if she ever had to face those strange thought-eating monsters again, but who had it come from? It was hard to focus on such questions, as her mental state had deteriorated since yesterday – even the simplest acts of navigation were dizzying, and the other constables noticed when she had to constantly steady herself. The elf found it difficult to establish between sights that were near or far, which made the prospect of combat daunting indeed.
The constables were called into Margaret Saxby’s office, where she introduced them to Lord Viscount Nigel Price-Hill, the head of the RHC itself. As brief as all meetings with the Chief Inspectress were, the message she left them with was to cooperate fully with the Lord’s employees, who were here investigating further instances of corruption, seen as a necessary measure after Reed Macbannin’s betrayal. If anyone had been watching Stover Delft’s face carefully, they might have seen a hint of nervousness – suddenly he was regretting his nonchalance about the constables making a deal with Morgan Cippiano, the resident representative of the Family. Hopefully, no one would find out about that…
Left to their own devices afterward, it was decided that Hugo Von Gearkinson and Talon Silverhawk would pose as buyers in order to meet face-to-face with the woman Simon Langfield had purchased his staff from. They even went so far as to equip the technologist with one of the brittle factory-made swords from the fair, to further cement his facade as a clueless moneyed individual.
They were given a meeting place – a construction site for a station of the up-and-coming subrail system in Flint. The woman, Kaja Stewart, came with a single bodyguard and a huge chest full of weapons and other items, mostly exotic gun/blade combinations, with two notable exceptions. A stone amulet and a crystal-edged sword, both radiating strange magic and clearly evoking similar aesthetic design to Simon’s confiscated staff. The sword even turned to gold briefly whenever it was swung, which Talon tested.
There were a few tense moments when it was realized that neither of the constables had brought near enough money to purchase either of these relics, but they quickly recovered, buying a lesser weapon so as not to anger the arms dealer. Rather than confront her here, Kida used her new gift of the goddess Srasama’s sight to follow Kaja to her hideout, where they were able to arrest her and confiscate not only her stolen goods, but a few barrels of witchoil as well. The less said about Kida’s failure to sneak along the roof of the warehouse, the better.
Two of Lorcan Kell’s thugs were in the hideout as well, and after interrogating Kaja it was confirmed that she had been working for him recently – though originally, she’d been in Macbannin’s employ. She had been one of the experts involved in the creation of the rusted rings and other methods of travel into the Bleak Gate. In exchange for leniency in what could very easily be considered High Treason, she was put to work in her cell, puzzling out a way to counteract shadow influences, or altogether ward an area from incursions from the world of shadow. It became personal for her after Qiyet Outrunner did some digging on Kaja’s father, realizing he was killed in one of the Yerasol wars. Confronting Kaja, she claimed she’d been working for Macbannin’s projects in an effort to prevent future wars… but even without an armed conflict, her work had already led to the deaths of many people, their souls infused into the witchoil to power the technology she helped create.
Placed under heavy guard, she was left to her work, which she seemed to pursue with sullen determination. The presence of witchoil was brought to the attention of Team 3’s Dima Kosygin
Following up on a request from Team 3, the constables arrived the next morning in the basement of a factory in Parity Lake. A crime scene had been discovered there, containing the body of a victim with a bashed-in skull, and what appeared to be some kind of advanced golem, shattered into thousands of pieces.
Through the use of careful detective work, they were able to ascertain the following.
- The murderer must have been a spellcaster – the victim’s hands were bound with a steel bar, bent too precisely to have been brute force.
- Rusted iron links were found in the vicinity of the victim’s neck – he was probably wearing an iron amulet, similar to those found at Macbannin’s estate, and the witchoil reservoir below.
- Based on decomposition, the victim died in early summer.
- With more than 5 pp in his pockets, it wasn’t a robbery. He was also carrying a bundle of papers with departing schedules for a number of different ships, all bound for Elfaivar, and all set to leave between the 5th and 15th of Summer.
- The golem was almost completely dismantled, apparently having exploded along every major seam and joint simultaneously, though there was no trace of scorching on its body to suggest a normal sort of detonation. The number of tiny gears recovered suggested it had fine motor control, but it was probably too delicate for use in combat.
- Most interestingly, the bulk of the golem’s skull was intact, and still radiating magic. It was still alive, just blind and mute.
- Obvious to any onlooker, there was a rusted ring set into the wall. What wasn’t obvious was the tiny scrap of fabric clinging to one edge of it.
Hugo performed an Object Reading ritual on the scrap, calling up three images.
- An image of the owner of the fabric: an eladrin woman, seen wearing the dress that the scrap had come from. Its style hadn’t been in vogue since before the Great Malice.
- An image of the room, a minute or two before the scrap was removed from the dress. In it, they could see the golem, the victim, the woman, and the murderer himself, frozen in the act of forcing a vial’s worth of witchoil down the victim’s throat. The golem looked on impassively, while the woman held her hands to her face in horror.
- The place where the woman had spent the bulk of her waking hours over the last month (Alain Templeton made sure to word this correctly to ensure that the ritual wouldn’t simply reveal an ordinary bedroom), prior to the scrap being removed. For this, Hugo saw a huge underground bunker or hangar of some kind, windowless, with catwalks up near the ceiling. At one end were an enormous set of doors, while at the other end was a blurry lump of metal. Obviously, over the course of those thirty days, something had been constructed, and the time-lapse image of it was too indistinct to tell exactly what it was. But it was big… much bigger than the flagship of the Risuri navy, the Coaltongue.