After a few days of travel the party passed out of the lightly forested region surrounding Bristor and came upon the trade city of Mechant – a bustling, young city surrounded by a wooden palisade and straddling the flood plain of a shallow river. Having been warned in Bristor that such as they would not be welcome in this city they party skirted around its edges, camping for the night on the southern bank of the river east of the city proper.
Swan’s Son and Marcon, noticing ample sign that citizens of the Middens had been able to find plentiful work in the region lit a fire on the edge of the wood to broadcast their availability for work. That call was answered by two men, well dressed but appearing competent as agents and enforcers of their Lord, a man who desired their services for some “quiet work.” They seemed surprised at the presence of two halflings in their midst, but the revelation seemed only to make them insist all the more that the party follow them to their master’s estate.
While at the estate they are treated to a meal while they await Trei’s presence. Perrin takes particular note of the artifacts of humanity’s enslaved past which are prominently displayed on several shelves which line the room. Finally, Trey Peddit reveals himself – he is under four feet tall, with a somewhat over-sized head crowned with stringy red-grey hair and a bulbous hooked nose. Despite his obvious condition, he is dressed in fine clothes and introduces himself as the mayor of Mechant – an oddity in the normally matriarchal human society. Despite this he gives the party a warm reception, seemingly giving the halflings a significant amount of his attention, peppering them with questions regarding halfling culture and physiology. When it it well into the evening, Trei will order a nightcap, drinking to the health of the party and to a prosperous working relationship.
It isn’t long after retiring to their rooms that Perrin and Trym realize that they feel woozy and more tired than they ought to. Perrin successfully retched up the contents of his stomach, but to no avail – he passed out into his own sick… but not before he called out to alert his companions. Perrin and Trym are retrieved from their rooms dragged off.
Marcon and Swan’s Son, hearing Perrin’s cry, attempt to escape their rooms to help only to find the doors have been locked from the outside. Both start to batter at their doors – Marcon with his blade and Swan in the form of a bear. After a few moments Marcon emerged from his room, busting out into an empty hall. Without pausing to help Swan finish off his own door, Marcon rushed into the dining room to find one of the men who escorted them who started to pull his own blade and call for his partner. By the time the larger man appeared, however, just behind Marcon stood an angry bear, sapping some of the will to fight from the younger. It is the captain, the large man, who gathers up his courage and attacks first, encouraging his subordinate to take up arms as well. When the captiain gets roughly bisected by Marcon’s blade, however, the fight goes out of the younger man, who surrendered willingly.
After interrogating the terrified kitchen crew and rolling the younger guardsman in a blanket, Swan and Marcon discovered a hidden hatch in the mayor’s room leading into a darkened tunnel. As the pair crept further into the dungeon they came upon a door with light flickering underneath it and the sound of muffled voices beyond. They were about to creep stealthily into the room when a very clear scream echoed through the corridor – Marcon burst through into the next room. The sight that met them was disconcerting – both Perrin and Trym were stripped to their undergarments and strapped to racks against the far wall. The scream had come from Perrin whose shins now sported two hollowed spikes which had been driven into the bone, a greenish fluid running into them through yellowed tubes. The room was littered with the detritus of laboratory work – books, beakers, cataloged bones and fleshy bits of experimentation.
In the end, not even the surprise addition of another combatant skulking in the shadows could stop the party, enraged by the depth of their betrayal. Trei fell swiftly to a knock-out blow from Marcon’s sword, and his assistant (the man who struck from the shadows) attempted to escape with his life. He wasn’t fast enough. When he was struck down it was revealed to the party that he bore the outcast scar.
Clothed (and two inches taller) Perrin stormed through the household collecting anything of value he could find while the others looted the basement laboratory. Afterward they gathered the staff of the home to explain to them what had happened. Shaken by their employer’s predilections, the staff promised to tell the truth of what happened in Trei’s estate. The bulter, in particular, examined the basement laboratory for confirmation and did his best to set things aright with the party – giving them absolute permission to loot the house as much as they wanted and getting them horses. However, he urged them to be on there way. While they might believe them, the news that the mayor of Mechant was a degenerate sorcerer would drive some to a rage best directed at the man and not those who uncovered him. Trei Peddit, he swore, would be dealt with.
The party agreed and rode their new steeds off into the night, seeking shelter far away from the city.