The City of Lives

Treasure Hunters for Hire: Homecoming Part 1

In the few days between their amnesiac adventure and their next job, the hunters relaxed and followed up on loose ends. Thalia and Akina both pulled some money together to buy the Mirror of the Watchful Eye, Thalia wishing to return it to her not-father Tremes, while Akina simply lusted after the power of unlimited surveillance. They bid against each other, and even though Thalia borrowed some money from her mother, Akina still won the auction, taking the mirror home.

While asking her mother for money, Thalia also confronted her about Tremes and the identity of her father. Apparently, they had had this conversation many times, with Erema often throwing around cliches like “It doesn’t matter who your father was, we’re all children of Prometheus” and “It was just you and me against the world.” Erema admitted to spending time with the imperious Tremes, saying “sometimes a girl just wants to be dominated,” but said she knew he wasn’t Thalia’s father. Thalia didn’t ask her mother about “Cabot Thule,” the man who Tremes had identified as Thalia’s real dad, but she did ask around her mother’s social circle, her many “uncles” and such. They all remembered Cabot as a reclusive, powerful Crafter, who had vanished nearly twenty years before, and was rumored to have created his own Realm that he had retreated to.

Returning to Mr. Fix, the hunters fought with him about his not telling them enough about their tasks, not liking stealing relics from “innocent” people like Tremes (though the group was split as to how innocent the man was), and he argued back that it was work-for-hire, that they could decide not to take any job they chose, and that he had been more than reasonable in agreeing not to sell the Perpetuum to Master Clutch, and selling the mirror to Akina. Agreeing to disagree, the hunters allowed Mr. Fix to give them their next mission: following an earthquake-creating staff to Yorgen’s home Realm of Reich, where it had been purchased by a denizen of Yorgen’s hometown Kron, one “Fultermann.”

Yorgen was both eager and unhappy about returning home, not wanting to bring his magic-using compatriots to the intensely anti-mystical culture of the Droghan. He tried to prepare the other hunters, ritually cleansing them to remove the “stink of magic,” so that they would only start being obvious as Crafters once they started using their magics again. Akina, who had learned the Droghan language and culture from Yorgen, documented the scenario, but decided to take her relics along with her (tired of being practically unable to move without her magic shoes). Thalia (who spoke a little Droghan, mostly curse words) left her magical boots behind, and Moregar left his focus stone behind as well, not wanting them to be taken and destroyed by the Droghan Hexfinders.

The hunters Realmshifted to Kron, in the midst of winter, where Yorgen noticed that the wall surrounding the village was damaged and hadn’t been repaired… which he found very suspicious. Speaking to the mayor, he discovered that secret magic-using saboteurs had destroyed it, and had been doing a lot of damage recently. These saboteurs were described by one of the twenty Droghan words for “one who does not know their place,” specifically “those who have willfully denied their place,” and Yorgen thought about his recent Worldshaping temptation and the fact that while he had given it up, it was “like biting the inside of your cheek, much easier to bite it a second time.” He found magical traces on the wall, and gave the mayor quite a bit of money to fix it.

The mayor said that Fultermann was a recluse (always suspicious in the community-based Droghan culture), and Yorgen vaguely remembered him. Yorgen considered visiting his parents, but realized he had little connection to them: as Droghan are largely raised by the community as a whole, and especially since Hexfinders are sent off to study early on. He led the hunters to Fultermann’s small farm, where they trudged through the pristine snow and examined the farmhouse and barn. Thalia began by getting distracted, her breath fogging up the glass and proceeding to draw pretty pictures, while Akina failed to find anything notable looking around the area. Gemma entered the barn and found a frozen body of an elderly Droghan man, and continued investigating, not bothering to tell the rest of the team about her discovery. Thalia climbed to the top of the house and down the chimney, and the hunters discovered that a plate was mysteriously on the floor, the bed hadn’t been slept in… and the mysterious chest held nothing more exciting than clothing.

Eventually, the other hunters attended Gemma, and her investigation skills combined with some very impressive Bloodshifting on the part of Moregar revealed the following facts:
-Fultermann had died exactly six days, twelve hours, and twenty-three minutes earlier.
-He had been attacked by two other Droghan, each wielding similarly-designed daggers, and while he struggled, they had easily dispatched him and hid him in the hay.
-The animals had apparently been taken or released.

After burying Fultermann in the hard ground, Moregar tracked the blood traces the murderers had left, guiding the hunters into the nearby woods. There they encountered a quartet of Droghan, who immediately assaulted the hunters as soon as they saw the ritually-shaved Hexfinder. Yorgen was intensely confused by these antagonistic Droghan, and tried to calm them down—which made one consider giving up, but only angered the others more. Thalia was attacked by a Worldshaper, and lifted him into the air to cut him off from the earth… and Moregar, after holding another heretic in place with his Bloodshifting, gutted the man hanging in mid-air. Yorgen knocked another unconscious, and Gemma did the same to a third.

Meanwhile, the apparent leader of the Droghan touched Thalia’s mind, possibly learning about the hunters’ mission, before Yorgen blocked his magic, and he started to flee. Thalia refused to let the man escape, and leaped onto his back, trying to bring him down. She failed to injure the huge Droghan, but held tight as he leaped over a nearby cliff…

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