The party’s captive says that his group had been watching Laila for weeks, to make sure she didn’t talk about a mission she did for the Masks; when the party, known to have contacted her, made their move against “Conor” and the Red Masks’ operation in Mendoros, the leader of the Masks, Jeranil Talinos gave the order to liquidate Laila and her network. With some forceful interrogation, he states that the elf made a delivery to the Spinestone Mountains, but he doesn’t know what the parcel was. He tells the party that if they want her alive, they need to find her before “the twins” do, but doesn’t give any more information about those mysterious hunters. Unable to take the time to get him to the proper authorities, the party kills him mercifully and tries to find Laila.
Leaving the sewers, the party sets their best tracker, Buttercup, to follow the elf’s trail. Buttercup sets of briskly through the city, but ultimately leads the party back to their own inn near the University, the Boar and Cat. While it seems that Buttercup lead the group astray, the party is shocked to find Laila waiting for them in Merrilyn’s rented room. She angrily blames the group for the Red Masks’ attack, and demands that they get her out of Mendoros safely – she has a ship waiting in Immerick to take her to Kestral, and agrees to tell them about the delivery she made for the Masks. The party agrees and they set out immediately.
They are ambushed at one of the elevators from the University district by a group of city guards, although Brundle and Cyrus identify them as Red Masks. The guards confront them on a busy street and loudly accuse them of various crimes, including murder, drug-running, coercion, aiding a smuggler, and necromancy. The charges are largely true, but the silver-tongued Merrilyn does a remarkable job rallying public support, and many in the crowd are unconvinced by the guards’ accusations.
While the two groups fight, Brundle and Lilliana spot that two of the guards’ deputies are wearing dire-looking skeletal amulets; Brundle recognizes that Conor Damilus was wearing an identical amulet when the Red Masks attempted to assassinate the Carthian ambassadors to the High Council. When one of those thugs is badly wounded, the amulet appears to drain the remainder of his life-force, and a hideous undead creature erupts from his body. The Boneclaw is a horrific and dangerous enemy, and while the group is victorious (and manage to subdue the thug who wears the other amulet), they are badly drained. The group has few magical reserves available, and is greatly in need of rest after nearly twenty-four hours of activity; unfortunately, the still have a long way to go to get Laila to safety.
As Platinum Expeditions takes a ferry down the river to the port town of Immerick, Brundle and Carol manage to safely remove the amulet from the subdued thug – no small task, given the way the evil device had burrowed deeply into the man’s chest. Once at the dock, they send the thug on his way and decide to board the ship with Laila and return to Kestral.
Laila explains that she was hired by the Masks to transport a package through Carthia to an old fortress in the Spinestone Mountains. Using her divination magic, she determined that the package was a green crystal in a steel coffer. While it was obviously magical, she was unable to determine it’s function. The recipient of the object was a hobgoblin, magically disguised as a half-elf. She states that she was forced to complete the delivery by her Red Mask escorts, and has regretted being under their dominion since taking that job. Cyrus offers to introduce her to agents of the Jesting Shadows once they reach the relative safety of Howlett.
About an hour after leaving port, it becomes clear that the party is not alone on the ship: a smug and dangerous looking halfling appears out of thin air on the deck. He states quite matter-of-factly that since Laila has said too much, he and his brother can’t allow anyone to leave the ship alive.