Tainted Inheritance, Part 2
The next day the party should run into Zaff. He is talking quietly to a local sailor and would be easy to overlook except many onlookers are staring at him curiously. (Also his clothes are quite high quality.) If the party eaves drops on Zaff's conversation, (this won't be hard, Zaff is not trying to be secret) this is the gist of the talk.
Zaff is arranging to forgive the fisherman's debt to the family for one year. The man's wife has been ill since the birth of his last daughter, and money is tight. The fisherman, with a broken voice thanks Zaff from the bottom of his heart, but Zaff laughs off his thanks and says, "...maybe some day you can help me and my family. That's what neighbors are for!"
If the party wants to talk to Zaff, Zaff is willing. He is a friendly young man, and will be quite patient, even if the party is just fishing for gossip. If the party tries to help him by telling him of the rumors, or things that they have seen, Zaff will be very attentive and try to make the party think that what they have told him is very important.
If the PC's look wealthy he will offer them a couple magic items. "I find I need some money so I am liquidating some of my stock..." If the PC's are interested, he has 3 items on him for sale. (See appendix at bottom of adventure.)
If asked about his plans, Zaff will say that he has a few things planned but can't go into details.
Zaff is quite willing to recruit the party, especially if they have a visible wizard. If they want to help him, Zaff would like them to stay out of trouble and keep their ears and eyes open. If the party needs to get in touch with him, stop by the Traveling Tea Tavern around noon time, he usually has a cuppa tea with some friends there at lunch time. He is not really willing to pay the party money at this time, but if they press him for money he hints that if they are helpful they won't find him ungenerous. (This is true, but remember they approached him not vise versa.)
For the rest of the day, it is more of the same. The GM should let the party know / witness the following things:
- Many of the lower class are working for Mort. In addition to his thugs and their friends, he has spread almost $30 around and these people are loudly taking Mort and Emmeni's side, spreading rumors for him, etc.
- The Carrol family is worried about Sheena. She has not been seen for a couple days and they think that Emmeni has taken her prisoner inside the Manor.
- A rumor has started that the Carrol family have faked a will where they get a big slice of the estate. That is why they are so interested in the whole affair.
- A young man reports that "Zaff sent me to the Barron! The baron will be here tomorrow to see to the will!"
- A servant from the manor visits all the local businesses and tells them that Zaff is to be refused all credit. The business owners like Zaff and usually ignore this.
- The lower class people generally support Mort (and Emmeni), while the better educated support Zaff and Sheena. The Carrol family is especially outraged and several of their clan have taken the day off work to go thru town and shout down rumors.
- People loudly talk about the family members, and if the party is curious they should get a pretty good idea what each of them are like. In particular, Zaff is highly regarded and his successes trading magic items are retold and exaggerated. Mordant thought very highly of Zaff and he would have to be mad to disinherit him.
- There is a rumor that a Thobbef (a respected scholar) witnessed Mordant writing out the will. If this is true then maybe Emmeni and Mort's will IS the last one.
That night, a crowd of people is collecting down by the docks. A number of lower class types are spreading the rumor that Zaff will pay 3 coppers to everyone who shows up (this is a lie, Zaff has promised no such thing).
At the docks, Kunnell Carrol (the eldest brother) has climbed on a box with a bunch of torches around him. His is giving a speech saying that everyone knows that Emmeni and Mort's will is a fake & that the towns folk should put a stop to Mort and Emmeni's bullying. He says that Mort's thugs have pushed us around too long and we should stand up for ourselves. (Loud agreement.) He says that his brother tried to see his sister in law (Sheena) but Emmeni set the dogs after him when he approached the house. (Boo's) Sheena and the grandchildren are prisoners in their own house!
Kunnell is a good speaker. Despite some hecklers, he is getting the crowd quite stirred up.
Then Kunnell is shot in the back. Someone has fired a heavy crossbow from the darkness behind him and it completely punctures his gut, coming thru the front of this tunic. Screaming Kunnell falls of the box he has been speaking from.
The crowd yells in horror and basically backs away from the violence. A few people run up to help him but the wound is far beyond simple bandaging. Most people run home fearing the assassin shooting those trying to help Kunnell.
If the party has healing potions, they can save Kunnell's life, otherwise he dies. (If the party can save Kunnell's life the players will earn the gratitude of the Carrols, Zaff and the hatred of Mort. Zaff will pay for any healing potions used and hire the players to 'look around and keep your ears open' if they are interested. He will pay them $1 per day per person to help out.)
If the party swears to help Zaff, and really impress him he might sell the magic items below for half price. (To get this sort of deal, the PC doing the talking should have Diplomacy or Charisma.)
If the party chases after the assassin, they find a crossbow quarrel with 18 bolts in it some 20 meters away behind a box used to steady the crossbow. A figure is seen moving behind some boxes on the docks, and within moments the party and other people surround the area. The assassin has disappeared but a hatch in the docks is found (closed) behind the box that the figure went behind. (This is used to lower stuff into boats under the docks when the river level is low.) People speculate that the assassin dove into the river and start lining the river bank and docks waiting for him or her to reappear. The assassin never shows up.
If a party member makes a 6vsIQ roll, they will notice a crossbow barely visible floating a the surface of the river a good distance out. Give the player +4 IQ if the PC says he is studying the river.
If a party member has detect traps, give them a 3vsIQ. If it is made, they should point out, that anyone diving into the water would have a terribly difficult time to close and latch the hatch from underneath the dock (there is no boat down there). This makes how the assassin escaped a real mystery.
The assassin was an summoned myrmidon that fired a pre-loaded heavy crossbow. Once it ducked behind the boxes it threw the crossbow into the river and vanished. The wizard created it 5 turns earlier and walked away he was not wearing his blood red robes so it would be easy to over look him, especially from the rear. He will return to Mort's house if not disturbed. If he thinks someone is following him he will enter a bar and kill several hours. (Mort will find him and hopefully allow him to get back out of sight.) Unless a member of the party was on the docks they would not see him ahead of time.
If for some reason the party manages to get close to the wizard they should make a 4vsIQ to notice that the man dressed like a shabby traveler or peasant has the same face as the red robed wizard.
If the party discovers that the assassin was a summoned creature and asks around town for a wizard, they will find that this town is so small that there are no wizards in it. (With the possible exception of the parties' wizard if they have one.) If it gets out that the assassin was a wizard, the party may fall under suspicion.
What happens now will depend on the party. If they wish to become active participants they will gradually be swept into the center of things. If they don't want to get involved then they will hear about what happens and that will be it.
If the party is clueless about what to do, have an old respectable / wise townsman in a bar summarize some of the mysteries, and say "Mort has spread a lot of money around to get people telling his stories. The problem is, no one knows what is really going on!" (A mutter of agreement from his listeners.) This should remind the party that they might try to track down some truths.
If the parties' thief tries to spy on the participants he or she will be quite successful. Zaff is talking to a few of his friends and mentions that he has sent for the Baron and hopes that the Baron will impose the terms of the 3rd will, then will talk about a plan to hire a river man to work on his boat. Zaff thinks that he might someday make a good officer.
If the thief tries to spy on Sheena, she is crying alone in her room. (Her children are locked up in a storage room in the basement and are miserable / terrified.)
If the thief tries to spy on Mort's quarters in the poorer part of town, he or she will have to dodge a number of guards and odd people walking about. However with a bit of patience and care the parties thief can get up to the roof and look thru a high window. The wizard in the blood red cloak is in Mort's room and is practicing casting Image. He is trying to do the spell with out any words or gestures. (He can do this, but obviously continues to do use gestures out of habit. After casting the spell several times, he has got it down so he can cast the spell totally quiet and still. The player can see it is an Image because he dispels the fighter by waving a finger thru it.)
Near Mort's quarters a few thugs are talking. This could easily turn into a fight if they notice a PC. (A 5 to 1 fight is just their style. The PC would end up unconscious and naked if he or she loses the fight.) These people are talking about what they could do to 'hurt the Carrols'. The leader thinks that 'he' will make it worth our while. The others point out that the Carrols are a tough bunch and clannish. Messing with them is a bad business. The leader scoffs 'ha, Kunnell was not so tough.' The others pester him with questions but tho he hints he know much, it is pretty obvious that he is as clueless as to who shot Kunnell as they. Those afraid of the Carrols more or less win the argument and nothing is decided. One of them says 'hey, I have a silver, let's go to a bar and get hosed!' With a shout of approval they head off.
If the thief tries to spy on Emmeni or Mort at the manor, they are together plotting. Like some evil people they don't imagine that anyone else will be clever enough to spy on them and have taken few precautions over someone listening to them. (Perhaps they know Zaff is too honorable and they have Sheena under their control.) They feel that they have enough supporters in town to prevent riots when they publicly show their will. They are worried about what the Baron will do, and are concerned because Zaff is taking it all too calmly. (They are careful never to say that they wrote the 4th will.)
Mort and Emmeni soon get into an argument, Mort wants her to pay for the upkeep of the town house. Emmeni says that the ferry and warehouses will create enough easy income to pay for the house. Mort says that he is doing the most to intimidate the town folk and is spending all the money to buy people. She should pay what ever expenses the house generates. She laughs at this saying that she is already paying for a dozen servants from the house. "You could get by with a couple in that little place!" (Mort looks affronted but says nothing.) Emmeni eventually agrees to pay $100 per year for upkeep on the house (hiring an upkeep and cleaning man, etc.) If Mort wants more servants to scrape to him, HE can pay for them. Mort, happy at the promise for some help to pay for the house subsides. The two then go to bed.
Appendix 1. Zaff's magic items for sale.
(All are for 1 hex figures.) These prices are all well below what he can get from his regular customers so they are firm prices.
Blow Away Ring. Self powering. This item costs $500 normally but Zaff will try to get $450 as he feels he will need some money soon. Each turn it will cause the first arrow fired at the wearer to automatically miss and continue past the wearer in a straight line.
Haste Boots. 1 fST per turn. Several straps allow the largish boots to be tightened so they will fit any normal sized person. A person wearing these boots get +3 MA if they are wearing no armor, +2 MA if they have cloth or leather armor or +1 MA if they are wearing heavier armor. The boots are very well made and look dashing if you like the roguish, Erol Flynn, look. Zaff would like at least $1,300 for these.
Fine Dirk (+2 damage, +1 DX fine,) wa/e to do +2 damage. This fine dagger is obviously of the highest quality. Zaff would like $3,500 for it.
Onward to Part 3