The first thing the party did in Kaer Maga was reject a child.
“I’m Gav,” the kid said, “and I know every corner of this city! I’ll show you around for the low low price of only 5 gold pieces a day!”
“Five gold?” Scratchy exclaimed, “Get outta here you little thief!”
The second thing the party did in Kaer Maga was find a place to stay. At first it was the unfortunately named Sorry Excuse, a common inn for first-time visitors.
Milacent took one look at her room and said, “No.”
The third thing the party did in Kaer Maga was look for a better place to stay, and that was also when they did the fourth thing: split up, because there were very particular things that each of them wanted to do.
Zelcor went out looking for an animal trader. Most of the city was in warrens carved into the thick walls (indeed, it was often said that the walls were the city), but the main trading district was in the center, open to the sky. This place was called Downmarket, and according to everyone Zelcor asked, you could get anything you wanted there; surely a dog would be no problem.
Downmarket itself was a chaotic tangle of carts, tents, wagons, and awnings, with hurried crowds squeezing between them looking for the latest bargain. There were humans here, of course, but also elves, and halflings, and towering half-orcs muscling their way through. At first glance, it was a dangerous place for a tiny gnome to be, but Zelcor had grown adept at maneuvering around the unwieldly large folk, and presently he came to the animal pens. Most of the creatures there were large ones, like horses and aurochs, and a few strange ones that he couldn’t identify. Presently, however, Zelcor came to a pen with several small dogs of the sort he needed. Standing in front of it was, appropriately, another gnome.
“Hello,” Zelcor began, “I would like to purchase one of your dogs.”
“Hunting or riding?” the seller asked.
“Here you go,” the seller said, “be sure to take good care of him.”
“Of course,” replied Zelcor, “but just in case, you do have more, don’t you?”
The seller gave him a quizzical look, but sold the dog to him anyway.
Theodora’s interest was in finding the local wizards’ guild, but unfortunately she found herself lost in the maze of streets and tunnels that made up the outer ring of the city. A building with the sign “The White Lady” caught her eye, and she stopped to ask for directions.
“Wizards’ guild?” said the man standing in front, “You probably want the Arcanists’ Circle. They’re up in Tarheel Promenade. I can have one of me boys show you the way, but first could I interest you in a little companionship? I cater to all tastes – boys, girls, gnomes, half-orcs, even …” and here he paused for dramatic effect, “a little after-living action, for them that likes them cold.” He called into the building, and a zombie in a negligee stepped forward.
“Um, that’s okay,” answered Theodora, and looked around for a guide with fewer dead things in his employ.
Many questions later Theodora found herself at the Arcanists’ Circle’s guild hall, shut out by guards who swore they’d be turned into toads if they let her in. It turned out that to join the guild you had to be recommended by someone, and Theodora didn’t know anyone in the city. She thought for a while, then came up with an idea: somewhere in this city there had to be another priest of Nethys.
She eventually found that priest: a pallid, fidgety little man who ran a small temple nearby. When Theodora asked about the Arcanists’ Circle he exploded into a rage. “The Arcanists’ Circle??!!! Fools! Knaves! I spit on them all! Ptui!”
“Well, clearly you know them. Do you think you could arrange an introduction?” Theodora asked as calmly as she could.
“For a fellow servant of the All-Seeing Eye, I will try. Meet me tomorrow night for dinner, and I will tell you what progress I have made.”
Theodora sighed. She sighed some more when the proposed dinner happened. The man chose one of the more expensive restaurants in town, a place that specialized in meals prepared from magical beasts. As he vainly attempted to stick a fork in his displacer beast steak, he explained that he hadn’t made any progress yet, but as long as they kept meeting he would keep trying.
Theodora glumly called the waiter over to pay him the bill.
While searching for better accomodations, Milacent discovered there was an excellent bath house in the city: magically heated and priced up to keep out the riffraff.
“I’ll just stay right here,” she told the others. “Come get me when it’s time to kill stuff.”
Scratchy noticed that he attracted far less attention here than he did in Magnimar, and he took advantage of that to blend in and hear what rumors he could. One in particular caught his attention: The Therassic Spire, the city’s ancient library, had been closed up for the several weeks, an event that had no precedent in recorded history. Whatever was causing it was worth learning about, Scratchy reasoned, and proceeded to stake out the tower. As he had been told, it was indeed closed off, and several visitors who pounded on the heavy iron door were sent away with angry curses. One visitor was not: a female troll in bloodstained white robes. She had a brief conversation with the person behind the door, then left to go about her other business. Scratchy noted her face.
Scratchy eventually got Zelcor to cast fly and invisibility spells on him, and used them to get to the top of the tower unnoticed. He settled in for a long watch from a higher vantage point, but most of what he saw was identical to what he had seen from street level. Towards the end of his stake-out, however, he was treated to the curious sight of several Duskwardens breaking into a home near the tower. There was a short commotion inside, and thereafter they emerged holding a man in manacles, his wife crying loudly behind them.
I’m going to have to talk to that woman, Scratchy thought to himself, then remembered that he wasn’t the best talker in the group; he’d have to bring Theodora along, and if he brought her he might as well bring Milacent and Zelcor as well. Clearly, it was time to get the party back together.