Swamped

Swamped
RE: Swamped
The mayor had been caught planting incriminating evidence on dissident aldermen.
Quote
RE: Swamped
Ah, now you remember. The mayor had been exposed for involvement in corrupt dealings - which he had tried to pin on members of the town council who had opposed several of his initiatives.

And didn't Flame say that the informant was looking into the city council? They might well have had a hand in that. You just need to recall the name of one of the framed councillors...

Oh, of course.

"I had something to show you, but it's gone missing. But perhaps I can tell you something instead."

"It had better be good," they mutter.

"Do you know much about Councillor Rose?"

You spot the slightest hint of a crack in their facade of confidence. Perhaps you got especially lucky and they investigated Rose recently enough that they wonder if you spotted them somehow.

"I don't know a lot for sure. I've heard plenty of things. Still need to check a few of them out for myself."

"Such as whether they have a hidden ledger in a secret compartment in their desk drawer?" you muse. "The sort of ledger where someone tracks the debts they don't want anyone to know about?"

You're getting a very focused look in return.

"Stories like that go around about everyone with any sort of power," they reply. "I ain't heard anything new yet."

Not yet. So you suppose you'll have to add in one of the more enticing details you remember.
Quote
RE: Swamped
If you cross-check the payroll records, some of the councillor's cleaning staff are receiving two salaries, one from the Mayor's office. An innocent oversight?
Quote
RE: Swamped
"Is it common for cleaning staff to collect two salaries? Because two members of Rose's cleaning staff are also being paid by the mayor."

That gets their attention.

"That seems worth looking into. I wonder how you found that out."

"I'm sure you appreciate the need to keep sources confidential. Now, if there's any chance you could help me find what's gone missing..."

They point to another table.

"The one in the poncho over there wandered by you while you were talking to someone else. They're no amateur, though - I didn't see the actual grab, and I was watching closely for it. Still, seems new enough to it to be nervous about their own pouch. Meet me in the kitchen once you're done - the barman owes me a few favors, so he'll make sure we aren't interrupted." They wander off.

You glance at the person in the poncho. They look to be middle-aged, with a thick beard. And as the informant noted, they keep glancing down at their pouch, and poking a hand into it.

You need to think about how best to approach this.
Quote
RE: Swamped
Ask Beardy if there's a lizard in that pouch, and if so, did it pay for admission?
Quote
RE: Swamped
You think you can risk a confrontation, as long as you're not too direct. You tap the thief on the shoulder.

"You seem awfully protective of your pouch. Are you hiding something in there? Such as a talking lizard?"

They're clearly extremely nervous, but the last bit of the question seems to have them confused.

"A lizard? Why would I... I mean... What are you talking about?"

Their nervousness seems strange, actually. Good enough to grab something from your pocket unnoticed, and yet clearly unprepared for a confrontation? Why would that be...

Because they realize what they stole. It was more than they bargained for. They're not involved in all the criminal infighting, and probably don't want to be.

That's all just a hunch. But if it's true, then you might be able to use it to your advantage. You just need to think about how.
Quote
RE: Swamped
Tell them that if they were trying to audition to join the guild, their timing is not so great.
Quote
RE: Swamped
"Perhaps you were looking to audition?" you muse. "Because it hardly seems like the best time to join a group like that."

"Au-audition?" they ask weakly. "No! I've got nothing to do with those crooks in the Guild!"

"Pardon? I meant that you might be planning to perform some kind of trick with a lizard and join the actors. But they're leaving town. Not much time to make an impression." You smile. "But perhaps you can tell me more about this Guild you've got nothing to do with?"

They're sweating intensely.

"Didn't... didn't mean any harm, Mister Flame. Here, here's all your stuff back. I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"

And they run off. Though this case of mistaken identity could be a concern if they tell someone else that "Leonard Flame" is here... but you'll just have to deal with that later. First, you've got to have a little talk, one that will hopefully clear matters up.

But as you put your things away in your pocket, you realize that the thief was in such a rush to get away that they handed over something else, as well.
Quote
RE: Swamped
Agent will be in early fifties. Will use the name 'John Long'. To confirm, ask if Kandrian. Agent will reply with a line from the Pledge.
Quote
RE: Swamped
It's a note with an identical message to the one the doctor showed you earlier. You hadn't thought much about it in a while, but now you realize something... isn't the informant going around looking for someone who's mentioning Kandrian names?

But you haven't been told any Pledge, so this can't be about you even if it does involve the informant. You would be extremely disturbed if it were.

You can also tell that this is a different note from the one you saw earlier - it's on an entirely different type of paper. A rather unusual kind, in fact. But why would two people have the same message?

Backup. If one can't make the meeting, the other goes there. And if there's no means of passing a message to the other party, they'd have to use the same codeword.

So could the thief have actually been recruited to meet this agent, or did they just steal this note? Or perhaps they were meant to pass it on?

Well, given how carelessly they handed the message over, it's most likely they stole it. Perhaps from somebody else in here.

You look more closely at the paper, in case it offers some kind of clue as to who.
Quote
RE: Swamped
The paper is especially thin, and fragile. It seems as though it would be better for wiping up spills than writing on. Perhaps if you were too cheap to buy a proper cloth.

So that gives you two thoughts. Why would someone use this flimsy paper to write a message, and who would even have this sort of paper in the first place?

But you don't have answers to either question right now. So perhaps it's another matter to bring up with the informant. Time to head to that meeting, so you make your way towards the kitchen.

The person concealing a sword seems to glance your way briefly as you head there. You're not sure what to make of that, other than that you should be on your guard.

Once you're inside, the informant looks around carefully, and then says something you weren't expecting.
Quote
RE: Swamped
Have you tried the sandwiches here?
Quote
RE: Swamped
"Have you tried the sandwiches here? Surprisingly good. Wouldn't know it from the cheap ingredients they buy." They grab one lying on a table. "Never thought I'd see the day old man Flame asked a wizard for help, though. Things must be lookin' real bad."

"How did you," you begin, but they're already interrupting.

"Got a little ether detector. Pretty rare tool, but useful in my line of work. Got to know when magic's at play. What's the situation, then?"

"A woman was ordering criminals to mix up something foul-smelling, apparently with plans to release it into the city. Another woman, who looked just like her and called her 'sister', came in and attacked her with the help of some swamp beasts. Then something strange happened and she's frozen in midair. I'm concerned that the plan may still be in motion, even with the ringleader incapacitated, and I hoped to ask her 'sister' some questions, but that isn't really an option right now. Oh, and I have a hunch the acting troupe may have some involvement, but nothing concrete. And when I confronted the thief, I got my things back, but also this note."

You think that covers most of it.

"Okay, the foul-smelling mixture might explain all the masks I've been seeing around lately," the informant muses. "And that lady's sister is probably the 'swamp rider' the town council keeps talking about in their letters. The thing you described sounds like magic to me, so I'd expect you to know more than I would. If you're stumped, I'm more stumped."

They pace around a bit.

"Now, I have some ideas for what to do if the plan really is still going. Gonna have to move fast, though. So let me just give you my quick thoughts on the acting troupe and the note, and I'll get on that, and you see what you can do from here."
Quote
RE: Swamped
"The head of the troupe is definitely open to taking bribes, but he's the ask-no-questions sort," the informant continues. "If he's involved, he doesn't know what he's involved in. And only a couple of the regulars socialize much in town. Most prefer to stick to the safety of the troupe. So if there's anything more to it than that, you'd be looking at either those two or one of the new members."

They finish up their sandwich and continue.

"And that brings me to the note. One of those more social actors, Cassie's her name, she has a stockpile of this paper. Spills her drink a lot and she uses these to wipe it up each time."

"So you think she has something to do with it?"

"Probably ain't her note, unless she's faking not being able to read," the informant says. "But whoever did write this probably met her at some point. I'll look into that if I've got time once this mess is dealt with." They start walking out, then pause. "But hold on. Just occurred to me, you'll probably want to keep an eye on the other sociable regular during the show."
Quote
RE: Swamped
They're a master impersonator and pretty good with make-up, prosthetic noses, and fake beards. They work the crowd with comedic bits between acts. But don't worry, you'll be able to identify them by a signature trait that always gives them away.
Quote
RE: Swamped
"Name's Evan among friends, but they'll go by any number of other names. Real good at impersonation. Sometimes they dress up as a local pol as part of the show, either to flatter 'em or to roast 'em. But usually they just blend with the crowd and pull stunts suddenly between acts."

"Stunts?" you ask. "Like, what, pranks?"

"More like pretending to be a heckler. Or sometimes a drunk. The main idea is to keep the crowd occupied while the actors get ready. Though I did see one time when they all of a sudden got up and started juggling."

"So, you want me to watch whoever makes a scene when the first act ends?"

They shake their head.

"No, you'll want to be watching 'em ahead of time. Around ten minutes before the end of the act, they'll do a quick peek at their lines - doin' their best to hide it, of course. Enough time for you to find a reason to leave and, for example, sneak backstage."

"And how am I going to know who it is if they'll be disguised?"

"Their eyesight's not so great," the informant says with a smirk. "They'll have reading glasses to look over their lines, and they always wear 'em to begin with so they don't have to fumble with 'em when they check later. All right, think that's it, good luck."

They walk out before you can even think of any other questions. You suppose that's it, then. You head back into the bar and glance around to see who's got glasses on.
Quote