The street outside is starting to fill up with curious passersby, their attention no doubt attracted by the torrent of rough looking but terrified patrons who just left the Sloop of War.
Azov has little difficulty slipping into the gathering crowd, and soon is on his way home to your safehouse, albeit taking a circuitous route that makes it hard to follow him without it being obvious.
Sighild is a little more direct, and simply walks off like she's nary a care in the world. She makes a fairly straight line home, and gets there well before Azov.
That leaves Skunk to make his way home. Or possibly to find somewhere to hole up and have a drink. Hard to say, really.
Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold
Arrie and Spigot hear their fellow thieves come home and daintily leave their room to greet them. Arrie offers them a wistful smile as Spigot twirls around her ankles. She clearly expects good news and begins to frown at the morose faces that filter back into the hideout.
Sighild arrives first and ignores Arrie and her questions while she makes a beeline to the barrel of ale. She keeps her single focus as she fills a mug, tips it back, and drains the contents as only a dwarf could. After letting out a huge belch and slamming the mug on the table, she looks direct at Arrie and says in a disturbingly upbeat tone, "Well, Mandy's dead."
Skunk arrives in time to hear Sighild's news, as though he didn't already know, but he doesn't address it at first. Instead, he disappears to his chamber for at least a full minute before returning to the common room, a new 'light' coat of cologne perfuming him.
"We're gonna miss him," says Skunk as he also taps himself half a mug. "But, hey... one less cut of the loot, right?"
Arrie takes a chair, shocked at the news. She frowns deeply. "He was always so polite."
After a few moments of silence she beckons Sighild to tell her the events of the night. The original purpose of the venture seems to have momentary slipped her mind.
Sighild recounts the nights events, starting from descriptions of the tavern's "cozy" environment and using colorful phrases like "big fuckin' spider" and "started bittin' 'im like Mandy squashed his mama."
Arrie's face changes from sadness and concern to horror as Sighild recounts the night. She has never met a spider as large and menacing as Sighild describes. Spigot is her guardian when the nasty little creatures try to roam about.
Her eyes wide, she compulsively pets her familiar until Sighild finishes with her tale. Although stunned and horrified her mind is quick to point out the potential use of a large spider in their mission. She shudders at the thought but files that thought away for another time.
She presses her lips together and waits for the rest of the group to come home.
She also takes a mug of ale and turns an eye to Skunk. Sighild is big and powerful, she highly doubts Skunk did much if anything to save their companion.
Skunk listens as well, this being the first time he's heard the entire account of the events.
"Aye, that's a bit of bad luck," he allows. "I bet the constabulary doesn't even get called."
Azov makes it back home in one piece, although he took his sweet time.
Finding the group in the common room, he sees Arrie's face and shrugs. "I guess they told you what happened. Today was a bust, and we lost an important part of the team. I want to talk about the possibility that this wasn't a random attack from some mindless monster, but a hit on Mandy. Are we in danger?"
Arrie seems shocked at Azov's comment but then puzzled. The only common factor between them is their employer. She stays quiet and reserved.
"Who knew where we would be tonight, besides the people in this room?" asks Skunk. "Unless we are being secretly spied upon by our employer, and I don't put that past his... YEAH, I SAID IT!" he bellows, looking around, as though daring the stones of the building to be offended. "And why would he want Mandy dead?"
"Fair questions. OK, so if it wasn't a hit, it was just some awful coincidence? Do you think it had to do with Mandy talking to ghosts? Otherwise, there were a lot of people in the bar. I just find it a little hard to swallow that one of us, out of all those people, was targeted by a weird spider thing right in the middle of a job."
A thin, reedy voice speaks up, "Probably an imp."
Your resident brownie seems reluctant to become visible to your eyes, but continues, "Some can turn into spiders. I'm impressed that it managed to get him. Most of the time a shaman would sense its presence once it got to within about ten or fifteen feet."
"Na-nuh! A damn imp and a demon goblinorcwolf? Lotta things from far away interested in too much right here."
Sighild looks suddenly thoughtful, "That might explain why it didn't go squish when I hit 'im with my hammer."
"Use silver," the brownie's voice replies, before continuing thoughtfully, "I think you should tell Aturelon about this. He'll want to know about the killing. Because if it was an imp, then Azov was right, and it was a hit."
"But why just Mandy?" asks Skunk. "Why not as many of us as it could get?"
"Maybe it knew he was a shaman? If it were me, I'd have done him first so he wouldn't be around to sense my presence."
There's a pause, as if to shrug, then the reedy voice continues, "Tell Aturelon."
"He'll need to know anyway," comments Skunk. "Gotta change the split. With our luck, he'll want to bring in another ooga-booga man." He wiggles his fingers in the air, a faux representation of weirdness and magic.
"Right," agrees the brownie. "So you should call him. You know how to do that . . . don't you?"
Sighild stares blankly at the question.
Skunk gets quiet as well and his eyes suddently find something very interesting on his fingernails. He obviously does not want to be the one to admit that he does not, in fact, know how to contact Aturelon.
"That's not really the way this works. It is the way it doesn't work, though, apparently." Azov shrugs helplessly. "Whatever. Mandy's death is a sore blow but it doesn't really change anything. If we're being hunted by devils or those who can summon them, time is of the essence. What is our Plan B for recruiting decoys?"
Sig shrugs, "I guess we could try again. Maybe we could get our host to hire some dupes when we break the bad news about Mandy. I think he's good at finding people for different uses."
"We could always look in a different place," suggests Skunk. His tone suggests he's considering how to word things in as delicate a manner as he's capable. "There are other places. Places that house people with nothing left to lose. Those who would do anything for a taste of banyon wine, or the money to buy one."
Azov nods. "If they're already too far gone to save, I wouldn't have a problem with that. But luring new victims with poison like that is a bridge too far for me."
"People new to the wine generally feel like they have a choice, something to lose. That's not what we need."
The half-orc considers Skunk's face for several moments, then finally nods. "OK. Do you have anyone in particular in mind? If not, where could we meet someone like that?"
"Godsgarden, most likely," says Skunk. "That place is a real shithole, so it's not like we'd have to look far to find someone willing to do whatever we want for a taste of wine. We don't wanna get caught with the stuff there, though. The Prefecture would just hang us and be done with it, but the big-wigs out Godsgarden way are less polite."
Skunk thinks a moment and adds, "If needs be, we might find a couple of candidates in Tile Town. Or maybe Dockside or The Goad. Lots of transients there."
"Good. We have lots of options. I think we can try Godsgarden first. The next question is whether we should stick together from now on or try to avoid attracting attention. If Mandy was murdered, three of us were seen together with him today. On the other hand, if Mandy was murdered, any one of us could be next, and we'd probably be safer in a group."
Arrie seems less and less interested with where the conversation is going. She drinks her ale quietly and tries to avoid being volunteered for dirty scum trafficking.
"If Aturelon comes in while you're gone, I'll tell him what's happened," comments the brownie, adding, "You had better hurry up if you're going to do something. An imp is about as much as I can deal with on my own. If it's got friends and knows this safehouse, you have a problem."
"If you see a blue lantern burning outside the front door when you get back, don't come in here."