Day 5 (contd):
Returning to the Pelican's Perch tavern the companions retrieved their evidence and travelled to the Temple of Shallya to leave it in the care of the acolyte Getta. There Zhlak and Darok were treated for the sneezing they began to exhibit from floating in the canal during their misadventure with the monkey. The two were forced to wander around the city wearing pungent herbs in a pouch around their necks.
Back at the Perch the companions asked the barkeep about their assailant - the one legged man with the eyepatch and monkey, but before long turned their attention to the mysterious whaler Whitey that Max had told them about. Ishmael, the proprietor of the Perched Pelican, directed them to the White Dove, a ship that had been in dock for the past few days.
Directed to the captain, van der Valk, onboard the company asked if he knew where Whitey was. The captain said he did not know, and that Whitey had not signed on for the next voyage yet. He told them to look either in the Suiddock keghouses or ask Godymas, a priest of Manaan who tended a local whaler shrine nearby. He warned them not to offend the priest as he was well-thought of in the local community.
At the whaler shrine the group met Godymas and he told them he knew of Whitey, but not of his whereabouts. In exchange for a few guilders the priest mentioned they should speak to another crewman, Chekov, who was in a house of ill-reputed called Beatrice's, and Voger, who was indulging in the Black Lotus at Ho Kong's den.
As the company travelled to Beatrice's they witnessed a docker being attacked by thugs. When challenged the thugs told the company they were on guild business. Never the less Zhalok and Mellisandra wounded one of the thugs while Dharok covered the other in canal mud. After the thugs withdrew, vowing vengeance, they learned the docker, Rip Otter, was being threatened for working on the docks without being a member of the Stevedore's guild - yet another example of Marienburg's laws that favoured the multitude of guilds. Zhalok feared they had made yet another powerful enemy within the city.
Beatrice's was a terrible bawdy house and its sawdust floors and stench of tobacco offended the companion's senses. The caked-makeup of its madame did little to disguise the multitude of bruises on her face, and the clientele comprised of sailors and unsavoury types. Dhalok left in disgust after an initial inquiry into the whereabouts of Chekov was met with jeers. Only when Melissandra offered 10 guilders did Chekov reveal himself.
The man, a Kislevite, spat with disgust at Whitey's name and said he was not friend of that kossak. He said all the sailors were gathering for a cock-fight on a ship called the Salderbeam that night, but also warned Melissandra off the man, telling of how he had been found adrift in the Sea of Claws by the White Dove and had no memory of his past life.
The trio then travelled to Ho Kong's den, perhaps the least salubrious of Riddra's Black Lotus dens. Only after paying 5 guilders to enter did the Nipponese folk allow the company into the den, and the stench of the smoke overwrought Melissandra's elven sense of smell, lightening her head. Within the dregs of humanity that lined the berths and floorboards of the den Zhlak noticed even one of his kinsfolk partaking in the Black Lotus.
Finding Voger was not as hard as finding Chekov - the man, giddy on the lotus readily identified himself and spoke with him, though often he lamented about a comrade called Jake, and seemed to find it hard to focus. He said he thought Whitey was staying with his friend and fellow whaler, Terather, or Lady Veil.
Enquiries around the Suiddock lead the companions to Terather's house - she was well known being an oddity, a woman whaler - believed to be an elf, who dressed all in black and wore a veil. Knocking on the door the trio tried to pretend that they knew Whitey, and that Melissandra was called Ella. Though the veiled elf saw through the ruse she opened her door to them and they were greeted by Lady Veil in her full mourning regalia. With some trepidation they entered the woman's darkened parlour where she offered them tea while she regarded them peculiarly - Dhalok especially.
While Dhalok tried to sense for magic the dwarf and elf spoke to Terather, who evaded their questions about her veil, her profession as a whaler and elven ancestry with platitudes. She spoke of Whitey sympathetically, claiming she recognised him as a kindred spirit, a damaged person, and that she permitted him to take a room in her house. He was away, and was often away from the house.
She told them a tale of when Whitey had been lost on a whaler's boat, and when she pulled him from the water he said, "I can't find them. They are gone ... must find ... the Guilder ... Stein." and that in his sleep
The company idled away two hours with Lady Veil but eventually they decided Whitey was not coming home and they wished to go to the Salderbeam to seek him out. After wasting several hours in a dockside keghouse the trio saw scores of seamen boarding the Salderbeam. A queue began to develop as two dockmen took coins off each seaman and let them aboard the vessel. After a while Melissandra used her feminine whiles to arrange the trio to be allowed to cut in front of the queue. This infuriated a boorish drunk that was in the queue behind the company.
Later the trio split and mingled amongst the crowd. While Melissandra and Zhlak grew despondent that there was no sign of Whitey amongst the seamen Dharok found his luck was in on betting on the cockfighting and after a tip from one of the sailors he made a small amount of coin. He again ran into the boorish drunk who started to fight with him.
A circle formed around the two combatants and the sailors began to take bets. Dharok swiftly beat the man with his stave and left the fellow vomiting up the contents of his stomach on the deck. He was congratulated by several seamen, including one called Wilheim who introduced himself and invited Dharok to share a mug of rum.
The two discussed Whitey and Wilheim revealed he too was a crewman on the White Dove, and was a friend of Whiteys. Whitey was not in attendance this evening as there had been an incident on the docks this afternoon that had upset him - a beggar in a ragged coat of the Pilot and Seaman's guild had approached them and had knelt before Whitey begging forgiveness. The fellow was as bald as a coot and was missing two fingers, but Wilheim swore he wore a Holy Olovad medallion identifying him as a pilot who had fallen on bad times. Whoever he was, his presence had soured Whitey's mood. He had returned to his lodgings in a foul mood.
Flush with his success and the congratulations of the seamen Dhalok returned to his companions. In the morning they would return to Lady Veil's dark residence.
After a Pelican breakfast the three set out to Lady Veils and were granted admission. While Dhalok finally penetrated the mysterious energies of Terather's magical accoutrements and talked with the elf about magical training, Melissandra and Zhlak found Whitey in the kitchen preparing a breakfast of eggs. He did not recognise Melissandra from their encounter in Messtag and seemed reluctant to talk to them, even when she tried to introduce herself as Ella.
Whitey seemed almost disinterested in learning about his past life and when Dhalok pointed out his wedding ring he looked at it as if it were the first time he had seen it. Whitey struggled to remove the band and only judicious applications of grease by Melissandra were they able to remove it. Dhalok noted a maker's mark on the ring.
The three left Lady Veil's residence. Dhalok left for the Pelican to ask about someone named Guilderstein. Ishmael, the ever knowledgable barkeep, told him it was not a person but a van Onderzoeker vessel that had sank 3 years ago. He said the Port Authorities might be able to tell them more.
Meanwhile Melissandra and Zhalok travelled to Winkelmarkt to seek a jeweller. The jeweller identified the mark as being that of Stew Underson, a halfling who lived nearby. They decanted to Underson's house, an elderly halfling who offered them food and weed, whilst ensuring he took great quantities of both. He remembered he had made the ring 7 years ago for a wedding, and that the mark identified it as a Verenan wedding ring.
The trio left to go to the Temple of Verena, where for a handful of guilders earned them access to the marriage records. Alas without a surname they realised there were 30 Ellas. They tried a handful but none of the residents answered to Ella, and some of the addresses were empty.
As the day drew to a close the company returned to the Perched Pelican. As they walked along the docks a drunk bumped into them. They recognised the drunk as Max, and he whispered killers were following them. Sure enough two men were following them and after making certain they were being shadowed the party fended them off by threatening them with their weapons.
The group went to the port authorities where they learned from an unhelpful clerk that the Guilderstein was an old decrepit vessel belonging to House van Onderzoeker that sank with all hands and cargo enroute to Bibali three years ago. The date of departure was the same day as the White Dove. The House of Fooger had been obliged to pay the van Onderzoekers an extensive insurance claim. A second clerk was unable to find the detailed file on the Guilderstein - the files being removed by a clerk named Gheist that no-one seemed to know.
The group discussed what to do and returned to Godymas to ask about the Guilderstein. The elderly mariner-cleric said the captain of that ill-fated vessel was one Claude Bresson, who had owed many debts to the van Onderzoekers. He knew the captain had a widow, Ursula, and that a former mate on the vessel, Tanner, was still at large in the Suiddock.
As they left, the priest's voice echoed as he recited a poem, "That ship was there when I visited the Raven's realm. I saw it sailed his seas."
The company found Tanner drinking in the Pelican, where he cursed his lot, for he was now a stevedore - having been unable to secure a post on another ship. He confirmed the Captain owed the van Onderzoekers a lot of money, and stated the ship occassionally carried prisoners - prisoners that often disappeared after a few ports. As a mate he could not be certain - perhaps they were sold as slaves in ports like Bilbali. Occassionally from the hold he had heard children's voices. He was glad the Guilderstein was gone - he was certain the van Haagens had sunk the Guilderstein.
Hearing the name van Haagen again Zhlak frowned - was it the van Haagens that were behind this whole affair?
To be continued...