Lieutenant Marxus and Commander Archer return to the ship's berth after hours of attempting to wrangle people to re-fit the ship only to find a mopey looking Proteus (trying to scare Archer into thinking his ship is missing) and a half-stunned Lhye (his player was battling a major tension head ache and had scoffed a fair bit of pain killers). He asked what happened to the ship and Proteus gives a rather dazed response that isn't exactly a lie but is mostly gestures. Lhye, on the other hand, recounts what happened.
The ship itself is sitting a lot higher out of the water line as the bilges had been pumped revealing that the lower deck had been flooded and that it's actually a two-decker sloop rather than an ungainly pinnace.
"So the ship was flooded up the mid-deck?" asked Archer disbelieving. "Yet she still floated?" He gave the ship a new look of appreciation. "What is she made of?"
Marxus Lorelli gave a quick run down of his experiences with the old captain. "He was a viciously efficient man but not a very clever one. We attacked several coastal villages and took the survivors as slaves to be sold in Diobel to a mysterious Keleshite man who kept changing his name - but who wasn't the man who spoke to you earlier. They might be connected, though."
He continued: "During one of the raids we stumbled across some strange man's home and they boxed up everything and took it on board. I don't know much of what they found, other than that there were stone tablets, but all of the people involved in that side of the raiding party, including the 2nd Lieutenant came down with a fever and eventually turned into those Lacedon that were barricaded into the forward compartment."
"I'd thought he was just transporting them," said Archer.
"No, they were crew," said the Lieutenant. "Once. We started back but after that incident with the Chelish ships was in such a hurry he didn't sound the leads as we passed close to the Hen's Teeth and some volcanic activity - we'd heard rumors of sea quakes - must've shifted up some more teeth. He hulled the ship pretty fierce on top of them and we started taking in water."
"Stupid," said Archer."
Lieutenant Marxus nodded. "We made it to Diobel and he had to sell all of his cargo and his slaves through his old associate (he named the guy whose house was torn down a few sessions ago) even stripping out and selling parts from inside his ship and they tugged it down a very secret strip of sea lane that allows for a deeper draft. Not sure how we made our own way out without them - it was pretty specific and she'd taken on so much water she should have been grounded."
"So why are you being so helpful?" demanded Lhye, always suspicious on the Chelish.
Lieutenant Marxus shrugged. "I'm considered a criminal in Cheliax because I worked for Captain Dubois but I would have been executed as a traitor if I had committed mutiny against him. You've managed to free me from him without me needing to mutiny. I've no reason to obstruct you."
"Will you be loyal now that you have a new captain?" asked Archer, eager to finally have a Lawful crew member onboard other than Wellard.
Lieutenant Marxus nodded.
From there they turned their attention to the Warehouse Quest though they figured they should assassinate the Whorehouse Reincarnating Slaver first as there'd be less repercussions than a theft. They turned their attention to information gathering. Lieutenant Marxus went down to the unofficial registry office to learn more about local warehouses in that area and with a very nice natural roll of 16 (as he has no Diplomacy) he managed to learn that the property was owned by a group of beardless dwarves who are thought to be a cult that have a seamstress female dwarf called Kallarsk as their main contact with the rest of society. He didn't manage to find out anything about their wares - such questions would've shown too much interest (required a higher check to pull off).
Proteus used Oratory to tell tales in pubs that might set people talking about that particular warehouse. The first tale wasn't as well-suited AND he got a 1 on his Listen check but he made up a second one just for giggles that ended up being quite appropriate (being about dwarves bested by Caiden Caylean in a drinking contest) and though he got a low Listen check he still overheard the phrase 'beardless dwarves'.
Archer and Lhye (Lhye used Disguise Self to appear to be a female human prostitute) walked by the warehouse and noted that there was a shorter vegetable warehouse on one side, a taller fish warehouse on the other, that it was two roads down from the main docks, and behind it by a few dozen yards was the curving cliff side (curving because people had cut out rock whenever they needed it, thus weakening the cliff ironically enough). Further down were a number of boat houses where people built boats.
The wooden warehouse itself had no windows but had ventilation grilles (wooden) under the eaves of the two-storey building, one main door at the front, and three main sliding doors at the back platform. The back platform area was fenced with wooden posts that weren't all that high (about 4 feet) and revealed a broken cart and a Rottweiler-like dog. There was no sign of guards and no sign of any magical alarms.
Lenny looked after the ship during and this and Lunjun went to the markets to see if he could find an Invisibility or Alter Self scroll to learn from. I used the random rolls from the Game Master's Guide for a town of that size and picked 7 scrolls (scrolls being the only Minor Items in the area) that broke down to 1 0-level, 3 1-level, and 3 2-level spells. Unfortunately, there was no scroll that he sought but there was a Knock spell that he did purchase. Regrettably, he failed to study it (rolled a 1) and will need to wait until he increases his Spellcraft (next level) but to give it to Lhye would destroy the spell for his familiar to learn it.
Lhye then walked through the markets as a male dwarf to ask about other dwarves in the area. His Disguise check was fantastic (natural 20) and his Bluff pretty good (natural 18 plus lots) but his actual Gather Information check was low (no Diplomacy, so it was around a 7). Since he probably should have went from Disguise straight to Diplomacy rather than having to roll three dice I took pity on him and gave him the basics.
There's a group of beardless dwarfs (male) who walk around in orange hooded robes with white striped markings. They only go for the main market day (Wealday in Diobel) and normal travel in groups of four. He didn't get any more information than that.
So he became a dwarf woman (another natural 20 on Disguise) and headed to speak to the seamstress and there it ended.
As most such investigation and research checks are generally done independently by my players I offered to let them tell me their research plans over the week and I can roll for them to give them more information. It would still help them to know what the dwarves are capable of and how they tie into the society as well as any defences inside the warehouse. Especially if they're planning to get in and out without anyone noticing for a few hours.