A fine dinner is set at the Borsari manor to welcome a pair of visiting Sespech necromancers; all the PCs are invited. Unfortunately, only one of the expected Sespechs arrives, bringing news of her master’s death on the road at the hands of bandits. Secordis Ossomont was slain by poison, and his apprentice Vesper was delayed by setting his affairs in order. The bandit Galignante and his Spotted Cats are the culprits blamed — a local band that’s been causing great trouble for some time.
Unfortunately, more bad news comes when a messenger reports that Galignante has struck again. This time, the Spotted Cats have intercepted and stolen the coach headed for Maviolo that bore Ossomont’s body.
This does cast an unsurprising pall over the dinner. Soon Andelac Borsari is shouting angrily at Captain Crevant, while Crevant coolly defends his men by citing how impossible the Spotted Cats are to track. While these distractions uncoil, Ettorio, Roberto and Opilio speak quietly with Vesper and Ramilante about their concerns. If the Scarhawks can’t be trusted to do their jobs, then perhaps someone else should help track them down and retrieve Master Ossomonte’s body. The PCs need little more motivation to do so. So it’s off to the stables to acquire some horses, and when there aren’t quite enough to go around, a little pressure on the stablehand encourages him to look the other way when Captain Crevant’s is one of the steeds borrowed.
The players ride to the way-inn of the Coiling Snapdragon, there to interrogate some of those involved with the hijacked coach. They learn a few details from the driver, and Opilio notices a suspicious man trying to sneak out of a second-floor window. The fellow gives his name as “Cavo,” and proves to be a terrible liar, insisting that he has perfectly ordinary reasons for sneaking out of a harlot’s window instead of walking out like a normal customer. Opilio marks the sole of his boot in the pretense of helping him get the boot on, and lets him go. He tells the others of his discovery, and they move up to interrogate the hosting slattern. Unfortunately for her, Vesper is in a killing mood, Opilio is very disapproving, and both suspect her of feeding information to the bandits. Only when Ettorio arrives does she show some sign of hope.
“Ettorio?” she asks, grateful to see a familiar face amid all the panic.
“I… I’m sure your name is very lovely,” the Iluni responds eloquently.
Between Ettorio’s sympathetic stance, Opilio’s stern disapproval, and Vesper’s barely restrained anger, the (unfortunately never named) doxy tells all she knows. She hasn’t been in league with the bandits in any fashion other than the typical business transaction, and isn’t sure how they knew of the Sespechs’ travel plans.
Tracking “Cavo” is not a difficult task for Opilio. They find that he’s traveling up a disused road to an abandoned quarry and logging camp. Some time ago, the camp was stricken with sickness, attributed by local legend to the fae. The local gentry forbade any return to the site, fearing that it would stir up another outbreak, and gradually the place was forgotten.
As they head up the trail, they spot what seems to be a lookout’s blind on the edge of the woods. Ettorio slips ahead and dispatches the sentries with disconcerting ease. The group is then free to travel up the forest road to the abandoned camp, and they find no other sentries posted before they reach the settlement.
Several of the bandits have set up their bedrolls in a split-level sawmill, designed to cut both wood and stone. The group ambushes the bandits there, and the fight is a challenging one that spreads around the still-functional sawblades and splits off some of the heroes from one another. The bandits are defeated, however, and one almost makes it to the quarry before being brought down by dogged pursuit.