“I am Crisandor! A Great House!”
“You’re still human like everyone else! …Except him.” — Tauris Crisandor & Vesper Sespech
The first order of business is dealing with the spoils. After weighing possible options, the group decides to claim the coffers of gold for themselves, and enlist the Black Veils to help return a portion of the silver and copper to the merchants it was extorted from. They will also offer to assist the Black Veils in capturing the Downturn sniper, and purchase some information on Bravadi Rovino rather than an actual contract. Ettorio and Vesper go off in search of the Veils, and eventually manage to make contact with a masked representative of the assassin’s guild, who agrees to their terms. The Veils dispatch a small team of masked workers to load up a cart with the goods and take it to a safehouse. In the meantime, the three remaining at the hideout do their best to keep any errant Executors from discovering how horribly amiss things have become.
The Veils crew takes command of their portion of the goods just before dawn, and the band of blades decides to take a rest before hunting the Downturn sniper. They agree to meet again that evening, in order to perfect their plan (as much as any of their plans can be perfected).
Upon returning to the Sespech estate, Vesper receives a letter; Kosvach and Alesci are responding to her call to act as witnesses, and will be arriving on the Wayfarer that evening should nothing go amiss.
After he gets some sleep, Rugo goes to check on the Drovers. He finds their headquarters abandoned, and no sign of them claiming the territory. A lone Executor is snooping around, apparently in allegiance to one “Vetti”; Rugo notes the name for later.
Carenza goes to check on her girls, and recruit them for the Downturn hunt. She learns from them that “Brino Ruvetti” has apparently been bringing quite a bit of provender into his tower.
Vesper makes time to meet the Wayfarer, but arrives a little after it has made it into port; asking around, she finds that the two passengers of her acquaintance have traveled to the Sand Dragon Inn in Fortune Ward. The place is clearly a meeting place for blades of various nationalities, and Kosvach is easy to spot, apparently quite comfortable with that sort of company. Alesci is much harder to recognize — he has a full, but well-groomed beard that effectively obscures his boyishly handsome features, and is dressed in a far more workmanlike fashion than usual. He explains that the beard is a result of Floressa’s cantrips, and he felt it was prudent to travel in disguise, given Vesper’s warning.
“But Kosvach isn’t in disguise.”
“Yes,” says Alesci wryly. “He isn’t.”
Vesper has the two remain there — their plan is to remain at the inn that night anyway, and then Alesci will go to the Tyliel palazzo tomorrow — and goes to gather the others. They assemble at the Sand Dragon, where they pull Alesci and Kosvach away from the attention of a pair of Archindran markswomen. Opilio doesn’t recognize Alesci at all at first, but gradually decides that the beard is a good move. “It proves that you are ready to become a man!”
The group discusses the sniper hunt; Ettorio mentions that he can put them in touch with the Veils operative he worked with recently, a woman named Tesselene. They plot to pair off (with the caveat that Ettorio and Carenza are not allowed to be a duo, lest they become sidetracked again) and spread out, the better to hunt without being too obvious. Kosvach joins the group at Vesper’s behest, and Alesci is scheduled to remain safely at the Tyliel palazzo, in accordance with his promise to Dechera and Ambira that he would remain safe.
The next morning, the group heads to Downturn and meets with Tesselene, a lean and tense woman with an alley cat’s perception. She tells them what the Veils know of the killer’s methodology. The sniper strikes during the daytime, and seems to prefer solitary targets. His method is to launch a first bolt to startle a target, and then pick the unfortunate off mid-flight. He favors longer, more open streets for this purpose.
The group pairs off: Ettorio and Opilio, Carenza and Rugo, Vesper and Kosvach, and Rabbit takes one Lady while Dua takes two more. Each pair covers their armor and weapons, and does their best to appear like ordinary residents of the slums. Then they choose likely thoroughfares, and stay close enough to aid one another but far enough apart to attract attention. The bait set, the hunt begins.
Not long into the morning, the bait is taken. A crossbow bolt slams into a wall near Vesper. She breaks into a run, drawing a second shot — but despite the ghostly shrouds surrounding her, the bolt manages to catch her in the torso. Her armor holds, but she’s badly bruised. The slayer looses a second shot at her, which Kosvach deflects with his bracer — and Vesper yells at him to chase the sniper, not to look after her.
The Downturn slayer flees along the rooftops, but the alarm has gone out. Ettorio and Opilio quickly make their way to the roofs as well, while Carenza and Rugo pursue down alleys. Opilio leaves many of the slum residents staring in awe, as he takes his ram form and races along the tiles like a mountain goat. Though the sniper discards his signature red cloak in an attempt to get away, he’s no match for the Chapelwood warden. When the slayer drops down to street level, Opilio makes a tremendous leap and lands in front of him, and quickly subdues the killer.
The killer — who receives some rough treatment as he’s interrogated — turns out to be a young member of House Crisandor. When pressed for a reason why he killed these people, he has no real answer. In fact, he seems somewhat flustered that anyone of any real merit would care. The vicious young man takes a nasty beating and is turned over to the Black Veils, Tesselene promising he’ll be kept safe until it’s determined what to do with him.
The question of the Crisandor’s fate being somewhat thorny, that evening the group meets Vestiri at the Blue Jewel in order to make use of his head for intrigues. Vestiri says they can probably meet with Prince Cortifo about the matters of the sniper and the Executors, though it will have to be in one of his discreet meeting rooms, which Vestiri describes as quite dangerous. He cautions them about the Prince: although Cortifo has a vested interest in the stability of the city, “the man has a mind like a bag of oiled snakes.”
Finally, the Black Veils’ information on Bravadi Rovino comes back. In addition to many points of interest already discovered, the Veils confirm that “Ruvetti” has indeed brought more food into the tower than his men need. This could be consistent with the ogre that was part of the “scouts, touts and louts” ambush that greeted the group on their arrival — though, as is pointed out, “We don’t know that it’s a fire-breathing ogre.” According to the Veils, he has in addition struck up an acquaintance with a priest by the name of Savarre, a hypnotic worshipper of the Twins of Ruin, Mal Zath and Xacshi. They finally note that he has had a few very discreet meetings with a person of some repute — Crestir Miriadis.