But in the end the group ended up in their private dining room at the Empty Grave to swap stories and figure out how to track down a mutual acquaintance by the name of Snail. It was thought he could provide answers to two mysteries- where the urchin child Kip's friends were disappearing, and what Getha's nephew Trey was doing trying to get out of the city.
The group decided to start where and how they’d found him last, and went to the Dock ward market, and sought out Harken, a rag-and-bone man who’d talk quite happily for pocket pies. For several, he let them know where Snail could be found. Armed with more pies, the group eventually found Snail mudlarking in a large drain. They bribed him to tell him what he knew of the urchins and Trey, but he was very reluctant to speak at all. Evelyn, tired of trying to talk to such an odiferous individual without getting anywhere, cast charm person on him. He still hemmed and hawed a bit, unwilling to expose a friend to the “bad-tempered guy” who had been running some smuggling outside the city, but he eventually parted with the name.
Jayrin was the man’s name, and he’d been using urchins to help him with his operations for a while. Snail had thought the urchins were just being transplanted to keep their mouths shut (being dropped off at the destination city, getting a new life), but let slip that Jayrin had some kind of “silent partner” who took care of problems for him. Snail told the party that Jayrin could be found at the Bottomless Barrel alehouse on Sucker Street.
The party went there post-haste, and found that Sucker Street was essentially nothing but one gambling establishment after another, all of them low-brow. Dice, cards, the shell game, any came of chance that could be crammed into those few blocks, was. Garden said he’d try to scout out Jayrin with a business proposition first. While Garden was able to slip through the crowd unnoticed, his sister was not so lucky.
Where there are gamblers, there are shrines to Tymora and Beshaba, and in this case, right next to each other. And wouldn’t you guess who was manning Beshaba’s shrine? Yes, the group’s dear friend the oily Father Geb from the Pig and Potion. He spied Charissa and loudly beckoned her forward. He then spent the next fifteen minutes spinning a plausible-sounding tale of Charissa’s grave misfortunes and how by placating Beshaba could avoid gruesome immanent maiming.
The rest of the party retreated to the shrine of Tymora and met its tender, Brother Sallis. He treated Father Geb’s elaborate “sermons” as street theater, calling out color commentary and compliments on Geb’s acting, clapping appreciatively at some clever turn of phrase. Geb actively ignored him.
Garden was able to locate Jayrin, a thoroughly unpleasant man who wasn’t much interested in questions or moving things for “Rufus.” He didn’t care for Garden’s tentative propositions, and something about his manner made Garden think Jayrin was probably under the umbrella of one of the greater thieves’ guilds in the city (maybe the Shadow Thieves?). Garden ducked back out to join the group and told them what happened. They ended up being unusually candid in front of Brother Sallis, and he volunteered that Jayrin owned some property a few blocks away, a vacant lot and a warehouse.
Garden said he’d go investigate (being the most stealthy) while the group waited at the Empty Grave. A vigorous cross-town trek for most of the group later, Garden got down to following Jayrin after dusk as he left the Bottomless Barrel. Garden shadowed him via the rooftops and watched as he got to a vacant lot overrun by scrubby bushes. Jayrin paused in one corner and spoke briefly to something there, then went on his way. Garden lowered himself down to the ground after Jayrin was gone, and tried to sneak around to that same spot. But a spike of wood flew from that dark corner and skewered him viciously in the shoulder.
Gravely wounded, Garden ran back to the Empty Grave, where the card towers and stacks of plates were getting precariously high. Shandri healed him as Garden told his tale, and the group set out to see what Jayrin was hiding.
They approached the vacant lot (snug between two other houses), and William sent a magical light to illuminate where Garden pointed. Just then two thorny branches grew from the sides of the buildings and savagely attacked them! Garden was hurt, as was Shandri, and Charissa pressed forward to the dim humanoid forms revealed behind the bushes. Two appeared to be made of thorny brush, while a third was only a huddled corpse. Evelyn used a valued scroll to put a protective aura of energy on her brother as everyone pressed their attack on all fronts.
The thorny branches were resistant to damage from all but magical weapons, and the thorn creatures (which Shandri eventually recognized as splinterwaifs), needed silver to truly hurt them. In the ensuing melee, the braches were eventually destroyed (and vanished into nothing), while the splinterwaifs were terribly hard to hit. Charissa had set the Grapes of Wrath to dance and attack on its own, which gave them another fighter on another front.
Evelyn kept freezing them where she could, allowing the others to attack. But when Shandri cried out that silver was needed, Evelyn remembered she was wearing her silver stilettos in her hair today. She passed them out to Garden and Steven and they went after the splinterwaifs. Just then, the “corpse” rose from the ground, proving to be some kind of undead, which tried to throttle Steven to death. The magical protections put on him by his sister flared in a huge gout of energy so strong it literally blew the dagger-stabbed abomination through a neighboring wall.
Eventually the group was able to destroy the splinterwaifs, and the undead (identified as horrible coffer corpse, an undead created by a sacrificial ritual) was dead again by Evelyn’s magic. Shandri sadly informed the group that splinterwaifs liked to turn corpses into bushes for “company” and camouflage. Every bush in this very crowded lot was a body. This was Jayrin’s dumping ground for all the urchins he’d silenced.
Outraged, the group plotted their next move…