That was a bit concerning, since the hotel was a well-known meeting point for the city’s criminal element. Concerning for the officers, most of all. But even without that angle of contention, the fact that they did not know about such a connection to a person they worked very closely with was worrying.
Equally concerning, the letter referred to an attack on the club in the hotel’s cellar (The New Bargewright) that had left it in need of repairs. Indeed, this was the reason the caretaker needed help. Jack jolted at this, because he knew that his brother had played at the hotel with his band very recently. And something told him that that shithead would likely have been part of anything so stupid as starting trouble at a club frequented by high-ranking Family members.
They headed out in civilian gear, the undercover op being logged by Ulrich with great zeal. “The Old Bargewright” was only a few hours walk east of Red Larch, and so they reached it by late afternoon.
It was a weird place, sticking up high above the surrounding buildings. Dark stone exterior, with a black roof. High, narrow windows. It looked defensible, for a hotel. The buildings around contributed to that feeling, making it feel like the central keep of a castle.
And then there was the doorman. It’s not everyday you see a hotel porter carrying a sword and shield. Or that big. Nice guy though, very courteous. He let them inside once told that they were there on the invite from Nalskrr.
Inside, the building was dark wood and smooth stone, polished to a shine. Impressive chandeliers, and consequently quite a high ceiling. There was a smell, which they reckoned was somewhere between “lavender” and “expensive drinks”. The bar looked nice.
Mr Nalskrr was called to the lobby, and was understandably confused as he expected Mei. But he nevertheless let our heroes into his office to speak to them about his problem.
The club had been attacked by some pyromaniac gang, and now the owners wanted a full report from him. There would also need to be some additional funds required for the repairs, which he did not relish having to ask for. Mei owed him one, and was one of the few people he trusted. Given their mutual connection to her, would they mind taking on this form him. He was clearly pressed, or would not have considered asking for help. It seemed something further, unmentioned, contributed greatly to the feeling that the attack was most inopportune. Or he just wanted to get away quick before the blame came falling down.
Anyway. Mr Nalskrr claimed that he would be gone for three days at most. Four, five – tops. He would let the staff know that the acted in his stead. Our heroes were not that keen on helping the man, but having the run of the place would probably make looking for clues about the attack and Mei (and Jacks idiot brother) easier.
They had barely nodded to this idea before Nalskrr was out the door. Dink tried to ask some follow-up questions, but the cart was rolling out of earshot. Nalskrr yelled something about being back inside of seven days.
Back in the lobby a woman in porter gear (with some extra flair) was standing, looking at them suspiciously, holding a note apparently written by the caretaker. She introduced herself as Chalaska Muruin; head of security, and the other half of the management of the hotel. Unimpressed with the first half’s choice of stand-in, she nevertheless acquiesced to it as it meant she would not have to deal with the various mundane requests of the guests. She followed our heroes aside into Nalskrr’s office. She was clearly testing them somehow. How much they knew, about whatever was the deal with the hotel. And there was something about how she kept playing with a big silver coin.
Not that this turned out to be a concern that really figured into the job, as things turned out.
First, though, our heroes had time to check the New Bargewright for clues about the attack. The place was clearly built much more recently, but echoing the old-time opulence of the main building. There were two stories of VIP boxes around the walls, pointing towards the center stage. The damage done to it all looked pretty bad, burn marks on top of gilded wood is not a good “worn” look. But the structure underneath seemed mostly fine.
The place was empty, except for someone moving bottles behind and below the bar. Grendo, it turned out his name was, and he had been there for the attack.
Apparently, it was very targeted towards another group attending the concert. The pyromaniacs had killed all the members of some weird goth-sailors, with little concern for the other attendees in any way. Once that was over, they had simply left.
The band had apparently fought the fire starters as well, though only after they attacked first. Jack seemed reluctantly accepting of the fact that his brother had not been the cause of the violence, even if it seemed his awful music had had the place in a fighting mood.
They found no further clues searching the room, so went up to Nalskrr’s office again to try their luck. Sure enough, there were some secretive stuff. A hidden lockbox in the desk, and safe behind a painting. Both, though, were locked with a padlock without a keyhole. Only a shallow, circular depression into one side.
Something would open them, but not them. This was annoying. However, a further search did turn up a mysterious note behind a bed table. There was nothing but four numbers written on it. Room numbers? Why these?
They went for the lobby desk and started to check the records. The Old Bargewright traded on security and discretion, so nothing about the people staying there was kept. However, the numbers on the note did match a record of rooms being refurbished, two years back. It seemed four rooms were chosen every week for this. According to the people working the desk, Muruin came by every seven days and told them which rooms were not to be rented out. Part of the security promise was having only a single key for every room.
They decided to check the rooms that were on the note. And promptly discovered something very interesting about some of them: There were hidden rooms for spying into some of them via means of disposable magical scrying. Strange, for a hotel big on “security and discretion”. And frankly, it was sloppy. It only took a detect magic spell to notice the outline of the scrying “window” through the wall.
And then the theft was discovered.
Apparently, six room keys were missing. This is embarrassing, not to mention costly, for any hotel, but here it seemed even more of a problem. Muruin swiftly had the entire place on lockdown, preventing anyone from leaving until they were found. This was met with some grumbling from the guests, but they seemed quite accepting of the measure.
Four of the six missing keys matched the currently blocked rooms, which seemed far beyond coincidence. The staff were the first searched, since they were most likely to be walking among the keys without notice. They started with some people that Celendril remembered walking past them as they had looked at the room logs. One, a janitor called Inglor Brathren, seemed very angered by this, complaining of how Muruin had screwed up as soon as Nalskrr had left the place.
Things then took a turn, as on the bartender Grendo was found a note, which he claimed never to have seen. It said: “Tell Kendrin Feldarr it is Chalaska”. Brathren made an accusatory “huh!” sound. Muruin refrained from punching him.
Kendrin Feldarr. A guest currently at the hotel. Muruin knocked the door to his room down. Feldarr dropped a box, yelped and immediately tried to run out. (which was fairly stupid since Jack stood in the door). The box smashed and four spiders bursted out onto the floor.
They questioned him, and it seemed he was a smuggler of exotic animals, on edge regarding some competition that wanted him dead. It seemed he had little to offer the investigation. In fact, it quickly became clear this was a distraction, because some bellhops came running and pulled Muruin aside. There had been breach of the vault.
Outright telling our heroes she did not trust them enough to follow her when checking this out. So they decided to follow her. Down into the cellar, but the guard detail that accompanied her was too much. They did not want to start a fight. So instead, they went to search her room.
Meanwhile, it seemed word of the vault theft had spread, because the janitor was standing in the lobby complaining loudly about it.
Muruin’s room was right next to Nalskrr’s. Jack popped a window from the outside using mage hand, and Celendril stepped inside. Similar to Nalskrr’s room, there was a safe behind a painting, with a hole-less padlock, though this one with a slightly bigger depression. Celendril remembered her coin. It would have fitted well.
Of further interest; a pouch of 300 gold coins and an exquisite gun made by Jane Firearms in a dresser. Way too easy to find, in fact, so a plant, or Muruin was even worse at stealing from her employer than protecting their things.