While Markas, Cazna and Ogwu Onu went to investigate Keyghan Ghelve, the gnome locksmith, Jeb and Turin go to introduce themselves to the Lord-Mayor. They head to Cauldron’s city hall, a well maintained building in the city’s administrative section. There, they gain an audience with a man preoccupied with a large stack of paperwork who they assume is the Lord-Mayor.
Introducing themselves and stating Mulnis Lenz sent them here with the promise of adventuring work, Turin hands “Lord-Mayor Navalant” the letter of recommendation. From their host’s reaction, he does indeed seem to know Mulnis, and seems a bit amused by the whole affair. Saying he does indeed have work for the party, the desk-bound man wishes them luck when the kidnappings is mentioned, saying the guard has yet to find a lead. He hands the duo a sealed letter, and sends them off on their mission: A funeral procession is to be held in “honor” of the Crimson Killer. The party is being hired to escort it to the graveyard and is to head to the barracks for briefing. He then returns to his paperwork, Jeb and Turin returning to the Drowning Morkoth.
The duo share a few celebratory drinks, and after a while the rest of the party makes their way back to the inn with their strange cargo, having somehow avoided questioning by the guard. Carrying the strange humanoid inside, they find the inn rather full, such familiar faces as Patch, the half-orc orphanage employee and Grigor Marsk their guide into cauldron enjoying drinks with friends, not to mention Jeb and Turin. Greetings are exchange and at Ogwu Onu’s insistence, the party regroups in one of their rooms, to discuss the situation out of earshot.
Both halves of the party fill each-other in about their discoveries, relating to the kidnappings and the work opportunities. The creature’s wounds are looked after again and it is bound in silk rope without being crippled or otherwise molested further much to Ogwu Onu’s disappointment. Despite Markas’ concern of the Keygan Situation, the party elects to leave the creature in the room and head to the barracks, deciding they have several hours until nightfall comes and the gnome is set upon by dark things from below. Sometime during all of this, they realize Cazna has wandered off again but pay it little mind. She will be fine.
Before setting off towards the guard barracks, Ogwu Onu asks that his room is undisturbed as he is cooking, then pays for another round for all the patrons. The innkeeper starts to protest the use of his rooms in such a way but is soon swarmed by thirsty patrons. The party makes their escape.
At the barracks, they are directed to Captain Marsk, a terse, humorless man. Letting them know that they “cost him three of his men” then ignoring the near totality of the party’s questions, and explains their task: The hearse will go around the city, and the guard (and party) are to ensure it reaches the graveyard without being attacked. The Captain then directs them to Constable Pardesh and walks away without another word.
Already distrusting the guard, the party’s paranoia only grows, fueled by the tense atmosphere. Though they currently run drills, many of the guard glare daggers at the party, who now consider fight or flight. Constable Pardesh comes in at this point, apologizing for the Captain and proceeds to enlighten the party as to what is going on.
He reveals that the three thugs the party encountered on their first night in Cauldron were actually members of the guard posing as Last Laugh thieves. He advises that the party keep a low profile as there is much resentment towards them from the guard, due to the killings and general distrust of adventurers, despite the three guardsmen’s less than stalwart reputation and the Captain having forbidden reprisals.
Urging the party to keep inquiries about that situation for later, Constable Pardesh next explains the background to their mission. Months ago, a series of murders and disappearances overtook Cauldron, caused by someone the citizenry took to calling the “Crimson Killer”. This state of affairs continued for months with the guard finding no leads and the folk of Cauldron living in fear. This all came to an end a few days ago, when Sir Tercival, the paladin protector of the local temple of Helm rode up to city hall and dropped the body of a man he assured was the Crimson Killer onto the stairs leading to the building.
Up until this point, everyone had assumed both the killings and the disappearances were Crimson’s doing, and the Lord-Mayor immediately ordered a grand celebration honoring the paladin and displaying the killer’s body to assure the populace that all was well. Sir Tercival, a dour man By Constable Pardesh’s description, wanted nothing to do with this and rode out of the city and into the jungle that very day. This combined with the disappearances continuing forced a change of plans leading into the current funeral procession.
The Constable recalls all of this a bit gloomily, adding that the total death toll reaching 29 with Lars Tannerson, the commander of the eastgate who was found a few days ago and who’s body now resides in the other hearse present.
After taking all of this in, the party proposes a a cunning alternative to the current plan, which the Constable brings up to his superior. It is quickly shot down, to Pardesh’s chagrin. After assuring the party that they will likely receive further employment from the city leadership after this and informing them of their reward (100 gold each), the Constable leaves the group to discuss things amongst themselves.
Concerns mount amongst the party about the guard’s intent and the possibility of a trap. Regardless, they decide to take on the job. The procession starts an hour or so later, the party and town city guard taking their positions around the hearses, one containing Crimson the other his last victim. The procession attracts mourners, some angry, some distraught and despite a few close calls the group wards off the followers, the hearses making their way to the cemetery unmolested.
A sizable crowd awaits in the mist filled cemetery, making for a few hundred people crowding the site along with the procession. Wood and oil have been gathered into a massive pyre that waits to consume the killer’s corpse and bring some closure to the crowd gathered around the pyre.
The party starts to feel relieved at how well this endeavor turned out, with no bloodshed or major problems, though Jeb comments that it isn’t over yet, Markas noting that the situation would be bad should a riot start.
Panic quickly spreads through the crowd as a swarm of hundreds of rats appears in the middle them, starting off a veritable stampede as they attempt to run from the vermin. The party’s call for order falls on deaf ears, the rats biting at clawing at everyone near. Quick thinking on Markas’ part leads him to start the pyre, the swarm or rats recoiling from its heat. Through the panicking crowd, Jeb spots a cloaked figure unmoving amongst the sea of people. He calls out to the party and charges towards the figure, jumping clear of several people but falling short of reaching it.
During all of this, the hearse containing Crimson’s corpse departs, trampling several people, the party busy with the swarm of rats. The cloaked figure reaches into its cloak, still standing alone in the back of the now emptying pyre area. It then throws something into the crowd, and soon after a renewed series of screams resound as a shambling undead sets upon the panicked mourners and then the party themselves.
The party now having to deal with the undead as well as the swarm or rats fail to stop the cloaked figure before it simply disappears from view. Following this, the swarm of rats dissipates and the undead is put to rest, leaving the party wounded, the hearse gone and the presumed instigator of this situation gone.
Markas chases after the cloaked figure, stating that it has not “disappeared” but not elaborating further, followed by Ogwu Onu. Turin goes down the path to follow the hearse and Jeb has gotten lost In the crowd, the party effectively split. The pyre ground behind them, surrounded by thick fog and the cloaked figure nowhere in sight, Markas and Ogwu Onu return to pyre. There they meet with Constable Pardesh and hatch a plan:
While the Constable tends to matters here, the party will regroup at the inn, and the Constable will meet them there before nightfall. There, they hope to gain the help of the guards they can trust to deal with the Keygan matter.