After learning from Counselor ir’Sora about the girl gone missing, the group decided to prioritize the search for her over anything else. “This ain’t no house, this is a better sized closet!” Handirlum said as they approached the little hut, the Counselor had pointed to. Gorond knocked at the door, careful not to break the worn down place to the ground. Some murmuring voices from the inside stopped and they heard footsteps, before the door opened and an older, upset looking woman came into view. “Dear woman,” Gorond said in a most comforting way that seemed out of place for a dwarf of his demeanor “we were send here by the good Teral ir’Sora, who told us, that you are missing your daughter.” “Oh, okay” the old woman responded a little confused “It is my little Tamara, who went missing two days ago. We were at the market, as we do most of the time that trader from Tarvik’s Landing comes by the plaza. He always has prices that even we refugees can afford, so we try not to miss out on these occasions.” She looked bashfully at the ground when she continued “Tamara was with me that day and I told her to go get some fruit and turned around to look at some of the other wares. When I turned back around to her, she was gone. Just gone, I tell you. No trace of her anywhere. I looked all over the place, but she was nowhere to be seen!”. “Calm down dear Woman” Gorond comforted her “tell us more about that trader you visited when Tamara got lost. Maybe he or someone else saw something you could not. We would like to speak to him first, to get a better understanding of the situation on the market that fateful day”. “I don’t recall his name, but he has a banner with the picture of a boar wearing a golden necklace and he comes here to Highwalls every second day of the week around noon” she answered. “That should be enough to find the merchant,” Gorond assured her “also, what does Tamara look like, how old is she and is there anything else that might be helpful to know about her?”. “Well she is 9 years old, has long, brown hair and was wearing one of her normal dresses. Nothing fancy or new, but it kept her warm” she stated with a certain pride and then stopped for second. ”But, although I don’t think it might be important, I feel like I should tell you, that Tamara is not my biological daughter” she finally continued a little uneasy. “I took her in, after her parents were lost to the mist back in Cyre”. Again Gorond took to comforting her “We are quite familiar with the tragedies, which ended the war back in the home-country, and how old family-bonds were broken, but new ones were formed. We appreciate your honesty! It would also be very useful, if you could provide us with some kind of token that Tamara recognizes, so we can convince her of our good intentions, should we find her.” “Well there is this old family heirloom, she will recognize for sure” the woman replied, passing them a small hand-mirror she grabbed from the nearby desk. “It’s pretty much the only thing that we were able to save from the mist!” she acknowledged to herself more than to the dwarf in front of her. “And by the way, my name is Morell!” she informed them. “Thank you Morell” Gorond wanted to finish, when suddenly Tibitz cut in “…and who is that fellow there in the back, and if you don’t mind, may I ask him a couple of questions too?” “That boy is my 13 year old son, Toben and if you think he can help you with your investigation, then please go right ahead” she replied a bit irritated. Tibitz shifted into the small house and approached Toben “so, my boy, do you have any other information, that might help us in finding your sister?” “No sir!” he answered “I wasn’t even at the market that day, since I was running errands around town for Counselor ir’Sora!” “And what kind of errands might that have been?” Tibitz continued his questioning. “Well most of the time I convey letters from one point to the other and deliver messages to be carried out by members of House Sivis” Toben explained. “I even have permission to enter the local branch of House Sivis” he proudly stated. Tibitz quickly gestured Julien to come over and bluffed Toben into showing them the certificate, so that may attest its authenticity, while in truth he wanted Julien to maybe find a way to forge them. They thanked the worried family for their hospitality, said their goodbyes and told them to come to the “Grey Sword Inn”, if they should have any additional information. Back outside and out of ears reach Julien explained to Tibitz, that there was no easy way to duplicate the permission papers for House Sivis, since the sigil on them appeared magically enhanced.
Since they had no real clue to go on besides the merchant, the party decided to ask some of the residents that were out on the streets in the vicinity of the plaza. Looking around, they found a couple of beatniks loitering in one of the side streets, throwing stones into the attic of one of the many ruins around town. Due to her convincing “arguments” in form of her looks they figured talking to the group would be a perfect task for Emily. She agreed and Gorond accompanied her over to the group. Although she tried her best to get their attention, it was Gorond’s two copper coins, which finally got them to talking. Apparently one of the group, a boy of 13 called Argo, had a little crush on the girl Tamara, they were looking for, but had not witnessed anything about her disappearance. When the others also had closed on the teenagers, Tibitz wanted to get some information about the unusual rat situation around town. For another copper coin, the boys told them about one of their friends, Fistan, who was visiting the sewers a lot, to find some of the “valuables” down there. Apparently he had seen Kruthiks, frightening big bug-like lizards, down in the sewers, which was not normal this high up in Sharn. Since Tibitz wanted to know more, but Gorond and Emily did not think it was worthwhile, the group split up. Tibitz, Handirlum and Julien decided to question this Fistan-character, whereas Gorond and Emily wanted to take a closer look at the plaza where the market-stand from the merchant with the boar-banner had been two days ago.
For the promise of two copper coins, Argo led the three adventurers into a large sleeping hall, where a lot of refugees seemed to have found shelter. Intuitively Tibitz tried to stash his valuables, but Julien deemed it to be a dilettante effort and took his purse for safekeeping without him realizing it. “I may give it back to him one day” Julien thought to himself with a satisfied smile on his face. They finally arrived at Fistan’s cot without any incidents. When Julien tried to attach Tibitz’s purse back to the gnome’s belt, he was caught red handed, but Tibitz saw the cleverness behind Julien’s actions and asked him to keep it, except for 3 copper coins, he took into his hands. Fistan was able to give the group some more information about the Kruthiks, but nothing about Tamara, except for the name of the trader with the boar and golden necklace on his banner: Darn. They pay the boys and decide to go back to the bar. Before leaving they tell Fistan to keep in touch for later business-opportunities by dropping by the “Grey Sword Inn” every once in a while.
Meanwhile Emily and Gorond were looking around the plaza for anything suspicious, but were unable to find anything interesting. Although they asked every passerby they found, no new information turned up, except that apparently somebody in the Cogs was looking for help cleaning up Kruthiks. Afterwards they also decided to quit and go back to the bar.
Joining back up at the Grey Sword Inn the group went into the cellar once more to see if they could sift out anything they might have missed the night before. Julien detected a smell on the broken window he was able to associate with the blood of the Kruthiks: The smell of Vinegar. The went back up to ask Brasco if he knew, why Kruthiks might be this high up in Highwalls and if he realized the beasts activities growing over the last couple of months and especially since the cleansing that took place back in 996 YK. Brasco could not help them directly, but was more than willing to tell them of one of his friends, who seemed to have been in rather unpleasant and almost deadly contact with those insects. “His name is Molric and he can usually be found drinking in the Snakepit, a local Bar down there in Tain’s Foundry. You are sure to meet him if you go there at night!” Brasco turned back to tend to his customers while the group decided to go to the plaza for clues one last time. Meanwhile Tibitz had tried to get in touch with and to partner up with the local bard at the “Grey Sword Inn”, but since he had not been successful in acquiring a new flute, he was doomed to fail and so he accompanied the group to the plaza.
Although it was getting a bit dark, they were able to find a possible clue this time around. Handirlum who was smart enough to check walls in the vicinity discovered that there was an unnatural whole in one of them, leading down. “This is the work of claws,” he concluded to the best of his knowledge “could be the work of those Kruthiks!”. Checking the whole further, they found traces of blood, which had already dried up and could have been from a couple of days ago. To get a better grip on things they decided it was a good idea to let one of the dwarfs down into the whole. “I guess it is my turn climbing this time” Handirlum joked with a prevenient smirk towards Gorond. They tied a light-enchanted rope to the sturdy dwarf and carefully let him down. “Wait, I got something better” Tibitz exclaimed excitedly. He cast another Light-spell on a stone and threw the stone after Handirlum, without thinking it through any further. A clonk from stone on metal and a cussing sound from the dwarf assured Tibitz, that his good idea had arrived at its designation. Handirlum picking the shining stone from his head, using it as a lamp went further and further down the tunnel until reaching an outlet into the sewers. Looking around he found a girl-sized shoe and some more tracks of a body being pulled. Taking past experiences down here into account Handirlum decided to climb back up and find a way for everyone to get down there as a group. Before making his way through the tunnel back up, he went to the next crossroads, to leave a mark, which would enable him to find this place later on.
Back up top it was time to get into touch with Fistan again, to get him to show a way back to the marked sewer-crossroads via one of the more appropriate entrances. After about 45 minutes the group, led by Fistan, was back where Handirlum found the shoe. Picking up the sander marks down here again they convinced Fistan to stay with them. Following the tracks for about an hour, Fistan seemed more and more uncomfortable, since he was not that familiar with a lot of the tunnels and alleys anymore. He also told them, that it has been about two weeks, since he started to see Kruthiks up here. Going around a corner they suddenly heard what sounded like a thousand small feet scuttling on metal surface. With one final plonk there were dropping Kruthiks from the ceilings up in front and up behind them. Fistan shrieked cowering to wall, as far away from the beasts as possible, while Handirlum was entering defensive position in front of him. Immediately he was swarmed by small Kruthiks stabbing and snapping towards him. In the back Julien and Emily were engaged by medium sized Kruthik, while Gorond charged on the biggest one of them, coming out of one of the pipes up ahead. Tibitz tried to take out the lot of the smaller ones with one of his illusion spells, but their simple mind did not succumb to it. Although the party was beaten up pretty good in the beginning, they were able to take out the biggest Kruthik first and then the smaller ones, one after the other. Fistan, thinking to see an opening, tried to make a run for it, but Tibitz was able to lock him down in place, so they could further protect him. After the last of the insects burst into bubbling vinegar, the party reformed and felt stronger than ever before. They were content to push on in the search for Tamara, the little girl, who most certainly did not belong in a dangerous place like this.