At their usual table in the Bucket, the crew is approached by Maldor Williamsen, who claims to be an associate of Ulf Ironborn. Constance introduces the crew. Maldor congratulates them on their efforts regarding the Skovlan refugees, and says that Marcus speaks highly of them. It is through Marcus that Maldor learned that the crew is looking for his employer. Constance says it’s in regards to the Hand of Kotar. Maldor says he doesn’t know a lot about the artifact (which Shade and Kobb instantly recognize as a lie), but he’s interested in what the crew would do with it. Constance says that the Circle of Flame are keen to get their hands on it, and Maldor says that Ulf is deliberately keeping it from them, as he is concerned with what they would use it for. Constance manages to convince Maldor that their intentions are noble, and he agrees to set up a meeting with Ulf Ironborn. He gives them an address and tells them to be there in one hour.
After Maldor leaves, Constance tells Shade that Gabriel Clausen approached her about the spirit well. She agreed to allow him supervised access to examine it, and in return Gabriel owes Shade a favor.
An hour later, Constance, Shade, and Moira head to the address given, with Boots driving the cart. They arrive at a townhouse in Six Towers. The side door is answered by a young maid, who ushers them into a storeroom in the basement.
Maldor Williamsen is there with two other men who have the look of bodyguards. It turns out that Maldor is actually Ulf Ironborn (or more accurately, the reverse; “Ulf Ironborn” is a pseudonym). He has been watching the crew ever since the incident with the Grinders and Wulfric the Slayer, and has been carefully judging whether or not to trust them.
He brings out a rune-covered box (Shade can see that the protective wards carved into the box are not currently active) and opens it, revealing the Hand of Kotar: a preserved human hand, cut off at the wrist. Shade and Moira can feel the arcane energy radiating from it.
Ulf says that the rumors about being required to cut off one’s own hand and replacing it with the artifact are completely false. Kotar himself was said to come from a region that is now part of Severos, but he lived and died many centuries before the Cataclysm. He was a hero with a long and storied history.
When asked what it does, Ulf says that the various sources all agree on one phrase: “The Hand is the instrument of the Will.” He supposes that means it can be used to influence the minds of others. He denies having used it himself, explaining that he believes it’s cursed. He says that the Circle of Flame has the Eye, and are looking for the Heart, the whereabouts of which are as of yet unknown. Constance finds the prospect of gathering together such powerful artifacts as concerning as Ulf does, and they make a deal. They will collaborate to take the Eye from the Circle of Flame, and Constance will hold onto it, and keep it away from the Hand. Ulf himself has half a mind to return to Skovlan with the Hand, but is not certain his work here is done yet.
Preparation for The Unbecoming Incoming Homecoming Succumbing:
Everyone is summoned to the table. Constance says that the time has come to eliminate Grace and her crew, and take over the Docks.
There are five potential targets:
- Grace Tompkins (Strangford Trading Company)
- Rossella Mauriello (Paragon, Ltd)
- Alexander Kellis (Lockport Freight, elected after Nathan Hosking was eliminated)
- Lewis Greenstreet (Bellhaven Mercantile, elected after Zelinda Morante was eliminated)
- Glenys Turner (Tyler Brothers, elected after Russell Green was eliminated)
The plan is to have one of Byron’s men call for an emergency vote, and descend upon the union hall when the 5 candidates arrive. Boots and Shade volunteer to go in with Constance and fight side by side. Kobb admits that he would not be the best choice to participate, but Constance says she has other plans for him. She charges him with ensuring the Bluecoats stay out of the situation as long as possible, and advises him not to promise a larger cut than what they’re already getting. Gears gives Constance his single dose of Shatter and explains what it does. He advises to get someone, perhaps Kamali, to administer it via a dart. He also offers her some other substances (Skullfire, Standstill) to help deal with Grace’s muscle.
Kobb goes looking for Bluecoats who had been taking money from the Dockers, but recently haven’t been properly paid due to current events. He attends a friendly card game he’s set up on a weekly basis with Sgt. Bartlett and several of his friends. At the table he comes across Najeeb Sadek, a member of the Cabbies, and very much his counterpart. They recognize each other and an unspoken agreement is reached that they will stay out of each others’ hair. The rest of the night is spent enjoying the card game, drinking a lot of alcohol, and fishing for a lot of information.
Kamali prepares several spots to observe (and possibly assassinate) all 5 candidates, should any of them not show up at the table.
Penelope heads to the Hall of Records to follow the money. She speaks to Edmund Bains, and looks over tax records. It takes several hours, but she finds an actionable item in Grace’s tax receipts. She thanks Edmund and takes her leave.# dontmesswiththedolls