Wrog Uvenk, Jean Lafitte, and Wallow Tallshadow arrive in Blacksands on the evening before Faren’s inauguration, led through the gates of the city into Esterfay Quarter by Torry Tosscobble, Lord Faren’s chauffeur and personal assistant. The mood in the city is festive, Faren is a popular Lord and a hopeful view of many in the city is that, “one of their own,” is being elected to a prestigious position of power.
One of the largest parties is occuring in and around The Roc & Oliphant, an upscale inn and tavern near the well-to-do Waterfront District in the Quarter. There the adventurers meet with Zara and several Hounds and are informed that they will be staying for the week at no cost in the Master Suite at the Roc & Oliphant, and any need they have will be taken care of while they are in town. After some carousing, they retire for the evening.
In the morning, the heroes head for the steps of the Baron’s Manor House just outside the Manor Stalls Coster Market, the largest open-air market in the city. A throng of people have gathered, as word seems to have gotten out about Faren’s arrival here. Upon his approach, Faren is viciously cut down by an assassin hidden amongst the crowd as Wallow and the heroes give chase. Wrog and Jean attempt to cut the assassin off at the pass, fearing he is fleeing to the bridge to the Grey Ward, whose lax policing would make it easier to go to ground. The assassin is caught and before he can attempt to swallow a seed and presumably take his own life, he is wrestled into submission by Wrog. A brief interrogation leads nowhere, the rambling druid yelling over and over about a Coming Storm. A search of his belongings turns up the scraps of a letter mentioning the Hooded Lantern, a tabloid-style smear rag run by the Dirt Boys, rabble-rousers predominantly occupying Endalmeet Cemetery and the Grey Ward.
After a quick debriefing with Vekel, he suggests they start at MInisters’ Publik House, a real greasy spoon in the Grey Ward frequented by the Dirt Boys. Wallow meets with an ‘independent contractor’ of the Patrons, a homeless, elderly drunk named Ellim who’s been observing the Ward for some time. He confirms Wallow’s suspicions, stating he had seen a man matching the assassin’s description leave the tavern early that morning. Inside, Wrog and Jean get into a tense negotiation with Brynn Dyrbjörn, the proprietor of the establishment as Wallow manages to slip around the back entrance to MInisters’, uncovering the undead remains of Edgird, Brynn’s husband, chained to a wall in the basement. Rejoining the party, the group manages to leverage the location of Edgird for information from Brynn. Finding the Dirt Boys distasteful, and clinging to the last remaining vestige of her husband, Brynn acquiesces and tells the party where to find the Dirt Boys.
Approaching the warehouse, the party battles its way through the Dirt Boys standing watch by the entrance, but not before one of the lookouts manages to escape inside. The cacophonous noise that guided the heroes to the warehouse is found to be coming from large clockwork and steam-driven presses, and a battle breaks out between the Dirt Boys desperately attempting to hold the warehouse and the heroes. After dispatching the last of the Dirt Boys in the room, the party notices in the presses, the issue of the Hooded Lantern being printed off is about Faren’s assassination, however there is no way enough time had passed for this to be on the up and up. Discovering a door in the warehouse that had been disguised to resemble a wall, Jean and the party stumble upon a former office converted into an alchemical laboratory, with a strange plant creature of humanoid shape laying dead on a granite table. Notes here seem to indicate it was provided to one “Bloodknuckle”, to thank him for his hospitality. Further investigation of the warehouse leads the party to the main office in the back of the building where they find Bloodknuckle, lying in a heap behind an overturned desk, a go-bag laying open next to him on the floor, surrounded by shattered vials and the stains of potions. Transforming into a giant raging berserker, the party tires the lumbering Bloodknuckle out before subduing him. All is not well, as the Grey Watch arrives suspiciously mere moments after the beast falls, taking the surviving Dirt Boys into custody and removing the heroes from the area.