Early Malader, 2718: Some idle time passes. Vorzheva decides to purchase a horse, and Par introduces her to the dealer Ruul Pakshrin, who sells her the mare Lumbri. Halwain brings a pair of novices from his temple to the Tattered Gryphon, and Vorzheva debuts a new dance for the occasion based on Vayani courtship dances (one that later becomes known as “the Scandal Dance”). She ends up in Halwain’s lap at the end of the dance, embarrassing him, but claiming it’s to make him look good in front of his friends.
On their way back to the temple, Halwain and his two friends discover a body. The victim was apparently strangled by one hand, then had his throat cut to drain away the blood and his own hands removed. Investigation over the evening and the next morning reveals this is the ninth to die in this fashion, though the first two were stabbed rather than strangled. The Thehtites from the Temple Under the Mountain have done what divinations they can, revealing that “a Southlander is in danger.”
Halwain brings the news to the Gryphon at noon, where he meets the others (Vorzheva returning from the first of many visits to Mother Farla’s orphanage). Deducing that this means someone from Ibrydos, the group assumes the target is Marib-abn-Li. Going to her house, they find she’s already been forewarned, and her wards have destroyed animated hands that attempted to find their way inside. She agrees to send for them later.
As the group waits at the Gryphon, a messenger arrives to tell them that Marib-abn-Li has been attacked again. It’s a trap, however, and when Vorzheva and Hope go to their rooms for their gear, Vorzheva is attacked by a small swarm of severed, animated hands. They destroy the hands (Zath nearly igniting the inn) and intercept two suspicious men watching from outside, slaying one and capturing the other. The culprits turn out to be members of the Five Blood Society.
The corpse of the dead cultist is taken to the Thehtites, who coerce information from its animus. He names his master as Tairg, Slayer of Mothers, says he makes his home among the roots of the rose, and asserts he is guarded by the faithful, that which was taken, and that which was sent.
They spend the evening investigating, and find a suspicious house downhill from the House of the Rose brothel. The contents include some traces of ritual work, and the landlord is able to describe the renter. With the help of gate guards, the group tracks their quarry to a farm in the nearby town of Lockstone.
The infiltration isn’t quite a success; fire mages are not terribly stealthy. Speed prevails, however, and Vorzheva, Hope and Zath are able to cut down Tairg while Par and Halwain struggle with the hideous snouted thing, “That which was Sent.” Zath finally burns the summoned entity to death. A crate of animated hands is dispatched shortly thereafter. The group takes a few of the priest’s spoils (including his chainmail, which Hope dons), leaves his money with the farmer family to assist with damages, and goes back to collect their reward.
Characters Introduced: Ruul Pakshrin, Salder, Mirin, Mother Farla, Madam Amberyll, Tairg
Characters Departed: Tairg