After a good night’s rest, the group gathered in the Fort Icemaul mess to eat breakfast. The Paladin had scampered off for some do-goodery, the dwarf was still out cold from his conk on the head, and the Tiefling was nowhere to be seen, probably doing nefarious things out of sight. Kerad indicated that once they were finished, that they could enter Icemaul proper and meet with Gert Stoutbarrel. He also sent a young female rogue named Ariyel – hailing from the southern trading city of Qartel – along with them. A few rashers of bacon and one dwarven estate later, the party of four gained access to Gert’s mansion, and entered his meeting chamber.
After gold and riddle box exchanged hands, the mood lightened. Gert cracked jokes, and mentioned another task for the adventurers: security for the movement of his trade caravan to the south. He offered to sate the curiosity of the group, knowing they’d tried to open the box. In a quick motion, he activated it, placed it on the ground, and smashed it open with his hammer. Inside were a small sheet of paper (the Stoutbarrel family recipe, he admitted) and a strange blue stone, lined with white. This stone, when dropped in liquid, allowed Emere to drink without consequence, neither igniting the alcohol nor doused himself.
The group shared in Gert’s famous heavy black stout, and toured the brewery underneath his home – several dwarven workers were hard at work preparing it for purchase. The drink was strong, and caused some light-headedness and general joviality; at least that is, until the rogue spilled some, earning herself the disdain of all dwarves present. The visit ended shortly thereafter, but on a high note – Gert voiced his approval and thanks, and offered to show them the recipe (before laughing and whisking it away).
After catching up with Kerad at the Bearded Trough (famous for its sign of a goatee’d pig drinking from an overflowing trough) and now without a task, at least until the caravan’s departure in the coming week, the group opted for a bit of shopping. The entered a store of magical curios, run by an eccentric and high-pitched dwarf named Artix. They purchased some upgrades, commented on the enormous spiral horned skeleton in the corner, and discovered a book written in a strange and spindly language titled (in common) On magical gemstones and their properties. While Emere nearly torched the book in flames, the remainder of the group. The rogue lifted an interesting and innocuous brass ring, and which couldn’t quite be looked away from without grabbing attention. Not least strange among the wares was a pile of red peppers, dried, crinkled and slightly transparent. Artix revealed them to be highly flammable and corrosive – the wraith chili – and suggested they be left alone. Goaded into handling them (and perhaps distracted by his book) Emere attempted to handle them. They promptly exploded, leaving a fine red powder of much of the store. The group paid for damages, and departed.
The group moved on to the outdoor market, where one dwarf managed to sell them a few wraith peppers, but not before attempting to pawn off a few worthless magical baubles. Fayad pocketed them carefully for future use. Meanwhile, Rowan took note of a strange hooded dwarf who had been watching them in the market for some time. She mentions it to the group, but he dashed away as they approached. Chasing him through the streets, they manage to corral him into the Crusty Tankard, a rather seedy establishment in the bad part of town. With a booming voice, Fayad announced his just intention to catch the lawbreaker, and the crowd parted. Ariyel slipped away in the commotion, but the other three pursue him into the cellar.