When Brue shook the gnome's corpse, something slipped from his fingers; a metallic ping ringing out as it hit the floor. Examining it closely, Brue identified it as a platinum ring with a marquise cut amethyst set within it.
Greycastle nodded, "Coward and sneak, he was. It would have been nice to take him alive to find out if he had accomplices, but it's probably better this way. Sorcerers tend to be sneaky."
The paladin nudged the gnome's corpse with a foot, then took his blade and made sure both Vials and the death dog were truly deceased.
"That thing's a nasty piece of work,"
Greycastle continued, pointing to the dog. "Diseased and insane, the two heads don't make things better. Why the Hells would he be keeping that thing down here? In any event, you're right, let's look for some answers."
Brue collected her torch from the table, it had only just started to burn a few papers, which were easily put out. Walking the perimeter of the room, the genasi lit a few more torches that rested in sconces on the wall, bathing the room in light. Walking to the northwest corner of the room, she examined the hole she had seen earlier. It only took her a few moments to figure out what was going on when the woman spotted several bone scroll cases resting on the shelf closest to the hole. The cases looked exactly like the one she had found with the troglodytes. Vials had probably dropped messages down the hole. Sniffing, she smelled the acrid stench of the burned hay coming from the hole, confirming her suspicions.
The bookshelf itself contained equipment related to the pursuit of alchemy and medicinal compounding. Beyond that, there seemed to be little of value or interest.
On the table, Brue flipped through the papers. Some found two stacks of parchment, one written in a language she didn't understand and the other written in the Common tongue. Comparing the two, she guessed that the documents contained the same information, just in different languages. Reading through the stack written in Common, the genasi realized these were notes concerning Vials' research and progress. A preface at the top of the first page indicated the notes had been translated for ease, but the originals would be sent along as well. It seemed the gnome was planning on sending his research onto someone, but they remained unidentified.
Sitting on the edge of the table, Brue read with great interest, passing the pages to Greycastle as she finished them. The gnome had been the architect of the disease from the beginning, using the death dog's saliva as the foundation for the plague. Expecting that the disease would be readily transmitted through ingestion or injury, the gnome contracted with a pair of troglodytes to setup shop in the town's subterranean reservoir, in anticipation of large scale tests. For the initial test, Vials killed a travelling merchant and commandeered his vehicle, using his magic and deceptive talents to pretend to be the merchant. Contaminating a few barrels of ale, the disease would originate from the local tavern. Once the first signs of sickness showed up, the gnome contacted the troglodytes to initiate the mass poisoning of the reservoir water. It was then that the Kirgard garrison showed up and unexpectedly quarantined the village. Concerned that his plans would be discovered, he turned to his previous research that indicated Fairy Cap mushrooms could be added to the compound to introduce an inhalation vector to the disease. He attempted to recruit a passing warrior to break the quarantine to fetch the mushrooms, but she refused.
That's right about where the notes end, barring a rather large appendix containing post mortem results of people who had died from the disease. If nothing, the gnome had been very thorough and detailed.
A final scroll tube rested on the central table. Pulling the scroll from the case, Brue read it carefully, her eyes narrowing.
While conducting your research, be on the lookout for an agent of the Queen traveling between the Wealdath and Zazesspur. It is our understanding this agent has made contact with the Suldusk and Elmanesse elf tribes in an attempt to ally with them for the safety of the realm. The agreement hinged on the safe delivery of both the signed treaty and an ancient staff to the Queen-Monarch in Darromar.
If you identify the agent, only act if you can do so without revealing your work. We have additional assets in place along the Trade Way to neutralize this threat, so do not take any unnecessary risks. If you do happen to claim the treaty and staff, bring them to the Triton’s Tankard in Port Kir. Ask for the Harbor Room and leave a purple sash hanging outside the window. Someone will meet you.
Scrawled at the bottom in what Brue recognizes as Vials' handwriting was a response.
I don’t have time for this…