Berend - Dwarven Fighter 4
Corrash - Dragonborn Warlock (Fey-Pact) 4
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard 4
Finial - Half-elf Paladin 4
Jonas - Human Ranger 4
Mord - Dwarven Fighter 4
Romto - Halfling Cleric (of Pelor) 4
Suspicious of the curious crystal-clear lake, the party engages in a brief test by lobbing first a backpack, then a dead body into the water. Both of them sink into the shallow depths exactly as one would expect, although the thin layer of grime sloughed off by the water seems to evaporate from the surface more quickly than normal. This does not promote any more confidence in the lagoon and the party decides to leave it alone. Retreating from the cavern, one last point of interest resolves itself out of the murk: the lake actually seems to have been created by damming a flow of water from the opposite corner of the cave.
Ringing the bell they were given earlier, the company summons the lift-cage which drops slowly towards them and settles on the gritty ledge. The ride back up is slow and somewhat precarious, but the cage transports them safely to the engine house at the top. Curiously, no-one is on-guard, and Corrash takes the opportunity to sneak a look through the grimy windows of the engine house; within, he sees an assemblage of cogs, wheels, and chains, seemingly run by water. A quick examination of the bell, however, discerns that the summoning of the cage lift is actually a magical effect.
Asimuth is pleased (and, it has to be said, somewhat surprised) at the safe return of the party with one of the survivors, a human called Arctus. He is escorted through the door at the rear of the office under the ministrations of a Union nurse, and talk turns to payment. Royt has already shuffled several long papers on which he was working back under the desk, and from a large lockbox, scoops a handful of coin: the 100g, as promised. All the while, he keeps the PC's at bay, obviously not wanting them to glance under the desk. This naturally piques the curiosity of the adventurers, and with Mord's help (plastered walls, after all, not resilient against the force of a thrown hammer) Elumai ultimately maneuvers herself into a position where she catches sight of reams of rolled up papers, not one but three lockboxes, and a small sack of the very same strange mineral that Berend, and since then Corrash, collected in the mine.
The conversation moves on to another, somewhat less public problem that Royt and the Union are facing. He asks for the company's help in rooting out a foul corruption within the organisation which, he is convinced, no less than the Mayor herself has instigated. The dragonborn makes no effort to disguise his dislike of Dewey Crow, whom he says is much too pre-occupied with affairs outside of Crow's Atoll and doesn't have the head for business that her brothers do. She clearly sees the Prospectors as a threat to her power base and has put a plot in motion to discredit the Union and consolidate her grip on the town. This plot, he is sure, involves turning certain influential members of the Union against Royt in the hope of bringing the institution down from within, and he has his suspicions about one of his right-hand men, pit foreman Penelo Greentack. The commission is therefore simple: to follow him for the next 24 hours and see what he gets up to. The fee, 100gp per person. The party finds it hard to turn the offer down, despite having their reservations about the dragonborn.
At this point they decide to split their efforts: Finial will mine for information at the Bluff, seeing what he can uncover about the Union and the politics of the town; Berend, Romoto and Corrash will keep an eye on the Union office; Jonas will stake out Penelo's residence starting that night, to be relieved of the duty by Elumai in the morning; and finally Mord decides to wait until morning, and then see if he can pay the mayor herself a visit.
The Union office proves to be an uninteresting object of study. A flickering light burns for the course of the entire night, and morning dawns with no-one having come or gone from the place. Berend and Corrash lose patience in the morning and go back in, only to find a clerk behind the desk who they have never seen before. Bluffing their way past the bureaucrat, they make their way to a hospital ward toward the rear of the building and have an informal chat with Arctus, the miner they saved earlier. He is pleased to see them and extravagant in his thanks, but it becomes clear during the conversation that given his age and injuries he doesn't expect his contract to be renewed (Romoto applies the blessings of Pelor, healing his injuries almost completely, to ensure he has as good a chance as possible). The adventurers also ask Arctus what he makes of the strange mineral they've being seeing around the place, but the miner becomes immediately agitated, wanting nothing to do with the rock which he says has brought the prospectors nothing but bad luck in all the time they've been excavating the cursed stuff.
Jonas finds Penelo's hovel, a squat building squeezed between two larger houses, on the east side of town. Setting up watch from a nearby roof, the rest of the night passes uneventfully, and it's not until Elumai is on watch the next morning that Penelo appears. He makes a quick trip to market, purchasing a bundle of some kind of fruit, but it's his second excursion that is of more interest. Elumai skilfully trails the half-elf to the warehouse district near the tramways on which they first arrived; he has a brief conversation with the guard on watch at the main door, slips him something which she can only assume is a bribe, and disappears inside. Observing a variety of laden wagon-traffic leaving the warehouse, she decides to hold-off on following him inside for the moment.
Finial meanwhile has retreated to the Bluff and engages a tired-looking prospector in idle gossip, a conversation which confirms much of what they've already deduced. The man grows gradually quieter and more introspective as Finial plies him with Shent, the ale brewed from seaweed, but divulges that the miners work on short-term contracts, paid daily with a wage that buys them food and beer, and not much else. Finial is told matter-of-factly that prospector's can expect to be dispensed with when they out-live their usefulness, and recounts the tale of Alma, a popular lass whose job was to pass water around the various mines; she was summarily dismissed after contracting dustrot, a disease which makes it hard to breathe in the confined workings of the mine. The man does not seem to want to pass judgement on this state of affairs; it is as it is.
Royt, however, is considered a respected steward for the interests of the Union, always having the best interests of the business at heart, just as it should be, although he could do with making more regular appearances at the coal-face. The dragonborn's dislike of Dewey Crow also seems to have spread to those working under him, with the miner voicing his distrust of the new mayor and her apparent business naivety. Her brothers, he declares, would do much better for the town than she ever will.
Finally, Mord. Researching the art of flattery from his many books on the subject, he buys a bunch of flowers from the market and presents himself at the gates of the mansion. The reception from the warden on duty, at first, is cold, but some fast talking from the loquacious dwarf convinces the guard that he is on an unannounced diplomatic mission from a distant dwarven kingdom (not entirely untrue) and gains entrance. He is shown to the grand foyer of the mansion, an exquisite building in the most opulent dwarven traditions, where he is asked to wait for the mayor, who is currently enjoying breakfast. Who should arrive shortly thereafter but Lord Riva, apparently already in residence at the mansion, or at least there as a privileged guest. Riva arranges for an audience with the mayor herself, a fair, soft-spoken and attractive woman by dwarven standards who renders Mord almost beside himself with nerves. Referring to his carefully prepared notes, however, and gaining maximum benefit from the flowers he so thoughtfully purchased, he acquits himself well (at least he thinks so). Dewey has business to attend to throughout the course of the day, however she invites him to a short tea later in the day, and meanwhile gives Mord free reign of her extensive library, a luxury which leaves him almost as speechless as when he shook her hand for the first time.