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
Events conspire to bring the party together again at the Bluff. Mord's late-afternoon tea with mayor Dewey goes surprisingly well; he is effusive in his praise and the noble, softly-spoken dwarf appears quite amused by his advances... so much so that Mord receives another invitation, for the following day, this time to dinner. In the meantime his stint at the library had provided some sought-after background on both the town and the Crow family.
The town of Crow's Atoll was founded over 150 years ago by famed dwarven excavator Teremoen Crow. Crow had lived in the shadow of a scandal since the dwarven spur of Norsyne, one of hundreds of small underground dwarvens communities spread across the Plain, had inexplicably exploded from the ground in a catastrophe which, to this day, remains a mystery. Teremoen, however, being chief architect at Norsyne, had always been plagued by rumours that he was somehow responsible for the tragedy, one which killed several hundred dwarves and left a thousand others homeless. The ruins of Norsyne (now known as Kayley's Rend after the famous song), subsequently became the epicentre of violent aftershocks which, over the course of many months, caused the land south of its location to split apart into a great cross-shaped canyon, now known as the Gash. Seeing an opportunity, Teremoen founded Crow's Atoll on the Gash's large central island, where it became a profitable trade and mining town. Since then, stewardship of the town has passed through two generations, first to Teremoen's son, Jogh, and subsequently to his own offspring, Dewey, along with her two brothers.
Mord also uncovers information on the third Crow brother, Drake. Apparently Drake is actually human, orphaned when a good -- and unnamed -- comrade of Jogh's died unexpectedly. In debt to his friend, Jogh took Drake as one of his own, but little more is recorded of his fate, and it seems that the truth of Drake's heritage is mysterious or perhaps even scandalous enough to be kept a secret from the town at large.
Corrash ventures out to the Quiet Corner to have a word with Lord Riva, and although he finds no sign of him, he does run into a slightly inebriated Jilonto-Ressar, the Captain of Riva's personal guard. Perhaps more amenable than he would otherwise be, he reveals that Riva is staying at the mayor's residence, a fact that the wizard would prefer remained secret (all evidence to the contrary), and even hands over the bronze token that signifies him as a member of Riva's entourage. Corrash wastes no time using the token to gain entrance to the mansion, where he elicits agreement from Lord Riva on the matter of enhancing some of their equipment with a magic transferral, but doesn't impose any more on his time than that.
Meanwhile, Jonas decides of his own accord to check out the warehouse district where the strange ore is being stored prior to shipment. Elumai, who is already on-site observing the comings and goings of wagon traffic, grabs his attention and the two of them determine to try and get a better look. Jonas uses a pile of discarded crates to boost him onto one wall of the main warehouse before shimmying, with consumate ease and surprising speed, up to the high windows. Wiping the grime away, he sees an interior stacked full of crates and sacks with several people moving to and fro, loading wagons, signing paperwork, sweeping the floor. What catches his eye however is that absolutely none of them are dwarves... a fact that they later confirm is of some small annoyance to the dwarven contingent in the Union.
Unfortunately a mis-step on the way back down leaves Jonas suspended in mid-air above two workmen bringing a cart of rubbish to the heap, but timely intervention from Elumai and a few silver from the ranger allows them to make a trouble-free getaway and return to the inn.
It's early evening by the time the party decides as a whole to infiltrate the warehouse and find out what's going on. Their two-pronged attack sees Jonas, Corrash, and Elumai sneaking across the roof-tops, an attempt at a stealthy entrance which enjoys reasonable success and gives them a vantage on a corner office in which a strange meeting is taking place. Penelo is there, seemingly in deep discussion with several tall, thin humanoids, their features obscured under grey cloaks and hoods.
At about this time Berend decides to take matters into his own hands, storming the front door of the warehouse and demanding to speak to a supervisor. The janitor who greets him is easily bamboozled, and Penelo is sufficiently distracted from his meeting that the others get a better look at his guests. They are tall and covered in fine grey fur; with their almond-shaped eyes, slit-like nostrils, and mouth-less visage, they are completely alien to the members of the company who catch sight of them. At Berend's interruption, they sling sacks of something heavy over their shoulders, and with dizzying athleticism, scale the interior wall of the warehouse and disappear out of a hole in the roof. Jonas and Corrash climb after them and give chase, with Finial racing around to give them support from outside.
The pursuit takes them from the warehouse district all the way through town to the northwest corner of the Atoll. Corrash soon loses his prey in the urban sprawl, but Jonas manages through a combination of skill and luck to track them all the way to the edge of town... literally, as the creatures swing down over the precipice, clamber down the chains of a descended cage lift, and disappear into a mine entrance below. Jonas decides against following them for now, and returns to the warehouse.
Inside, the other members of the party have by turns subdued Penelo, uncovered hidden stashes of the rainbow-coloured ore, and rifled through monstrous stacks of paperwork describing the export operations of the warehouse. There's a whole lot of information there, but it'll take some time to make heads nor tails of it...