In a week’s time the party will take place. Plans are laid out: it will include gambling, jugglers, performers, musicians, dancing girls, other dancing, multiple bars, and a hors d’oevres chef. At the party they will present Kilbride with the figurehead from the Ineluctable, and tell him of their plan to retrieve the talisman and deliver him a wish. In this way they will curry his favor.
It is also decided that they should lure a hobo in to drink the Alzabo distillation, and then interrogate him. Dirty Burt goes out to find a hobo. Luring him with drink, he brings the hobo back to the tower and brings him into the basement. Burt cold cocks him and shackles him to the wall. When he awakens, they force him to imbibe a drop from the Alzaiban vial.
He spasms and his eyes roll back in his head. One eye rolls forward again. He starts speaking in many voices at once, with different modulations. Hours pass, Merk tries to hear and write down words, Burt tries slapping him and asking him questions. These methods yield little, but hours pass and eventually the man passes into a half asleep state as his strength ebbs. In that state, he starts stringing more words together, and the party discerns that what they talk about around him becomes the topics that he talks about. Sometimes he has periods of silence, but his eyes move rapidly. From his ramblings, different coherent voices at different time, Merk discerns some technical data taken from a weather instrument, Blythe discerns some ports of call, Burt discerns some constellations for navigation. Trying to steer him towards the talisman, he often goes silent, but they do discern that the talisman involves shining rubies.
It is the early morning by the time they wrap up the session, and Merk goes to get some sleep. A watch, Thuum, is posted over the hobo. Thuum is cranky about being woken up early, but he follows orders.
All go to sleep.
Thuum rouses the party, telling them that the hobo has woken up. House servants make a delicious brunch for Blythe. Servants are not allowed in Merks rooms. The party goes down to the basement to interview the hobo. The hobo is confused, and says he remembers too much, that there is too much in his head. They hear of how the Ineluctable came out of the mists, the speaker watching from a dock, and the crew killed everyone and could not be killed in return. The man tells of being on the deck, stabbed by Lady Black, with the ship sinking and on fire, and another fire burning in the distance above the horizon. There is a whitish rock cliff jutting out of the water, and Lady Black is going into the water, floating like dust in the air, and not worried about breathing. She has a talisman of rubies, 3 shining, 4 dull. The glow of them are the last thing he sees as she descends into the water.
Then, a hoofed and toothed horror goes about the deck, ignoring the dead crew, but eating the live crew. The thing eats him.
Blythe thinks the fire on the horizon is a lighthouse, and this, combined with their previous gleanings, might be researched to reveal a particular area.
The hobo, now complaining of having too much in his head, is moved to the ship and given a supply of rum, food, etc. and placed under Wolfshead’s watch.
Planning for the party continues. On the invitation list are the Bringles Hall Boys, led by Jase Lowell, the party military contacts (particularly Kelin Narvosh), Kilbride, local neighbors, and non-homely Black Dawn crew and officers.
VIP areas are designated, and weapons will be checked at the door. Merk sets up a gambling area, and intends to man it for the event.
The day of the party:
Toughs, guards in Kilbride’s service, arrive early. Blythe shows them around, and multiple guard posts are established. Thuum will serve as the bouncer. Blythe directs decorations and preparations, and the performers arrive and are searched. Out of season flowers are placed. Spart steals the blooms from some of the wild lillies, and is reprimanded by Blythe.
Bloody Barry is appointed head of security. Leu Bloodfire follows Blythe closely as bodyguard.
Merk mans his gambling den with on of Kilbride’s men, a slim man with framed goggles who is obviously concealing a number of firearms beneath his leather coat.
The guests begin to arrive. Each is formally announced in turn. Spart arrives on fancy stilts and wonderfully brocaded coat, complete with fancy title. Many guests take him to be another performer. Blythe has Burt watch him carefully.
Kilbride arrives, wearing a smart white suit. A froglike visage looks placid, yet takes in all the surroundings in an instant. There is something predatory about him. Blythe and Fang greet him, and escort him around.
After suitable formalities and conversation, they retire to a special VIP area. Lounging away from the hubbub of the main hall, Blythe, Kilbride, bodyguards, Fang, Burt, and Merk get down to business. They show Kilbride the figurehead depicting the snarling beast with the insect eyes, and the bear trap jaw. Kilbride is impressed, and laughs to himself, understanding the implications. The party offers to salvage the wreck, delivering key items, including the necklace, to Kilbride. In return, they tell him that they desire safe harbor, and he agrees. He says that life on land tends to distract and smooth the otherwise sharp pirate. He thinks Blythe best keep to the sea. He says that he can be their land contact, arranging things for them in the Fingers. The accord struck, Kilbride and Blythe dance, and she is excellent. Eventually the party winds down and Kilbride takes his leave. The party is a success, and Narvosh is invited to stay the night. The lesser guests stay into the next morning gambling and carousing.