Exploring the catacombs
The party spent the night in the catacombs. During her watch, Charis mysteriously fell asleep, but ultimately chalked it up to long hours on the road. After preparing for the day, the party explored the one remaining tunnel, excepting the passage with a spider. After trekking north for quite some time, the hallway began to climb upwards, ultimately ending with a heavy wooden door with strong iron fittings. With some difficulty, Rashan was able to open the stuck door, finding himself on a hillside north of Kehm. The party left the catacombs through this exit and walked back to the city to gather more information.
Back in the market
The party stopped by the funnel cake stand, but the suspicious figures from before were missing. After wandering the market for an hour or so, several party members noticed they were being tailed by two gnomes, a man and a woman. The party stopped at a milliner’s stand and the gnomes continued walking, disappearing around a corner. Just before arriving at the milliner’s, the party also noticed one of the shady figures from the funnel cake stand yesterday having one of his boots repaired. As he completed his business at the cobbler, the party tailed him. When he tried to run after realizing he was being followed, Charis nearly killed him and tied him up.
The man revealed that his name is Carlos and that the ringleader of the cult the party was looking for is an elf named Gala Fiche, a man with connections to Ephraim Hurst. He can be found at a speakeasy in the catacombs that is hidden near a false dead end, for which the passcode is “funnel cake.” After soiling himself, Carlos ran away home to weep over his cabbages.
The party returned to the catacombs, armed with the passcode and convinced this was the only information they would need to find the speakeasy since they obviously already knew where it was. They were wrong. A disembodied voice offered a trade for the knowledge and the party bartered away a black pearl with a symbol of Boccob. The gnomes that had followed the party through the market came around the corner, collected the pearl, and opened the secret entrance which was fifty feet from the end of the hallway. Upon entering the speakeasy the party immediately spots Gala Fiche sitting in the corner with the third man from the funnel cake stand.
In the speakeasy, Charis again paid the gnomes to learn more of local events. They told tales of bright lights in the northern sky just before the Swift Wind disappeared near the Beskar River. The Acolytes of Boccob associated with the temple have been stockpiling magical reagents for an unknown purpose. Demand for arms, armor, and combat-oriented magical items has increased, seemingly due to the influence of a single buyer, using many middlemen to hide their presence. While interacting with the various clientele of the speakeasy, Charis thinks she overhears a snippet of Celestial but is unable to determine the source.
Aren sees the halfling fletcher who sold him his new composite longbow the day before and greets him. The fletcher buys Aren a drink that he later learns is made by distilling together various mutually neutralizing poisons. Expensive and dangerous, but the taste is well worth it. Aren asks the fletcher and his compatriots about Gala Fiche but they respond coldly, recommending to Aren that he steer clear of Fiche and not ask too many questions if he values his life. Aren subsequently bribes the bartender into telling him all about Gala Fiche. He learns that Fiche is working with mercenaries from Blackknife guarding Ephraim Hurst though the bartender does not know where. The fortuneteller’s tale is also corroborated, confirming that Fiche believes in an impending apocalypse and is taking it as his own sacred duty to avert it.
Aren buys a large round of drinks – Black Filters – that the bartender gives out on a first-come-first-served basis, causing a brawl to ensue. With this cover, Aren approaches Gala Fiche and his compatriot Carl, successfully earning their trust and convincing them that Rashan has had a similar revelation in his communion with Fharlanghn. They agree to form an alliance and Gala Fiche suggests that they go somewhere more private to discuss details. Fiche takes the party back out into the catacombs and down into the spider’s nest, using a spell to calm it. After carefully stepping through and around cobwebs and egg sacs, the Fiche pulls aside a large slab of wood blocking a carved out chamber where Ephraim Hurst and several Blackknife fighters are hiding.