After returning from Limbo, the group had the opportunity to relax a little, and take stock of everything that has happened so far. They are becoming quite known in the Crumple, and even the Hive more generally, and they often entertain guests, either allies or contacts, from their regular table at the Rusted Oven, on the Crumple’s main street.
About a week after their planar jaunt, Lucius, the steward of the von Krat estate, called on the group and informed them that the Hall of Speakers would hold a session the next day to decide on the issue of the von Krat succession, as two other claimants had emerged. Timothy von Krat, and Sid von Kierlane.
After a back and forth trial that the group entirely dominated, and an incredibly stirring speech delivered by Soren in favour of Tai at the Hall of Speakers, Sid challenged Tai to a duel and was promptly killed. Timothy’s claim, which the group suspects was fed to him by his mother Elba, was almost laughed out of court.
The day after the duel, the group was called for another session, this time to discuss some tedious issues concerning public works dealing with the von Krat’s marble and granite interests. However, Jamie also turned up to the session, and stirred up a commotion which allowed him to take a shot at Amarya, the First Voice at the Hall of Speakers. Julius managed to make his way through to her and healed her, earning her gratitude.
After this session, the group impressed the Doomguard enough for them to send Annabelle, a member of their faction, to summon them to an exchange of information with Factol Pentar. The meeting was guarded, but in the end the group agreed to make a best faith effort to ensure that a unit of Doomguard rookies Factol Pentar would station at the Broken Oak would not be harmed.
The players also began noticing two members of the Athar, a young woman named Penelope and her half-orc lover named Yuld, who seem to be around in the background quite often in the Crumple.
On their way to a meeting with Taria, the group encountered Geraldine and a few Revolutionary Leaguers who were together brutally beating Becky, a local prostitute and her customer. Geraldine had joined up with the Revolutionaries soon after being freed from Oltos by the group, but she’d now become a harsh and fanatical devotee of Epyrus, a god of storms and lost battles. She had been taking actions all over the crumple to try and shut down brothels and the sex trade.
While this was happening, and before the players could intercede, Marcus stepped in and rebuked Geraldine, throwing into stark relief the clear distaste the two had for each other. Geraldine attempted to storm off, but Julius went after her and made several emotional appeals to her better nature, which seemed not to affect her.
The group then went on to meet with Taria, who told them that the situation with the Stygian Red trade in the neighbourhood had really come to a head, that the whole district was experiencing severe economic decline and hundreds were derelict and homeless as a result of the addiction, and she implored the players to do something about it. She mentioned that she has seen some of the dealers come out of a derelict tenement nearby, and that she believes it leads to the Mortuary, the headquarters of the Dustmen.
The players investigated the tenement, and in the process discovered another cranium rat nation, referring to itself as Many-of-One. After some bargaining, they attacked the rats and dispersed them. Passing under the tenement, they came into a large sealed off hall which acted as a portal to the River Styx. Corpses would float down this river and be pulled down by three Dustmen, Casket, Urn, and Ditch. They utterly confounded the three Dustmen novitiates, who summoned their Factor, a man named Morgan who seemed undead. Morgan cut a deal with the group, stating that he would cease supplying the League with Stygian Red if they found and killed Phillis, who had recently resurfaced as alive, in breach of his Dead Contract with the Dustmen.
As the group made their way back through the tunnel to the Hive, they met what seemed to be a doppelganger with some sort of spider features, named Fabien. He behaved extremely amicably, and openly told the players that he was a spy working for Oltos, and that he would report news that Geraldine was planning to turn on Marcus shortly. At this point a massive (and very unusual) earthquake struck, burying two of the group as well as Fabien. The remaining party members managed to dig everyone out, and Fabien told the group that he owed them a debt of gratitude.
Back up in the Hive, the players witnessed some of the devastation that the earthquake had caused, including the collapse of the sensorium in the Crumple’s main thoroughfare. They set about investigating Phillis’s location, and after finding that he had taken a rod of resurrection from the house of the Montbelliard family, they decided to cast locate object to discern its location. This pointed them to the Great Prison, run by the Mercykiller faction, which Soren noted has often had revolutionary tendencies. The group infiltrated the prison through its sewers, posing as guards (with Julius creating a handy distraction as a cleric at one point). They found Phillis in the political prisoners section, being guarded by a combined force of Mercykiller wardens and Revlutionary League shock troops. Tai killed Phillis in spectacular fashion, but when the group searched for the magical rod, it was nowhere to be found, not even using another locate object spell, indicating that either someone was magically hiding it (or using lead to store it), or that it was on another plane.
The next day, the group attended the public execution of 23 Mercykiller men and women who were involved in the plot to harbour a Revolutionary League fugitive, and afterwards witnessed the issuing of a bounty of 10,000gp on Jamie’s head. From reading the journal of Phillis, it seems that his next step was to meet with Gareth Brightwing on the third layer of Mount Celestia.