The Circus Marximus was already packing up to leave. Soon enough they’d be gone, but if something sinister remained in Fallenrock, it needed to be found. To that point, even as chaos still reigned about town that night, the Company returned to check on the thief who’d been under Tristem Tsara’s watch at the halfway house. Tristem had left his watch to help his fellows during the mob.
Unfortunately, they found the thief dead outside the building, not far from the body of his killer, a man in a black cloak who had apparently been knifed by his target during the assassination. Quickly rummaging through the assassin’s belongings, the party found a map to a location just outside town, the home of Barto the Riverman, who controlled much of the shipping and river travel between Fallenrock and the city of Phaestia. They decided to pay a visit immediately.
Upon reaching Barto’s abode and finding no answer, the party forced their way inside only to disrupt a meeting of sinister cloaked men. The battle was joined and even though the leader of the cloaked men was a deadly swordfighter, the prowess of the Iron Star prevailed and their opponents were all slain. The dead bodies of the Riverman and his wife were found gruesomely displayed in their bedroom, while their children were found locked away in another part of the house, terrified but alive. Sending the children to safety with Mara, the Company considered their next move.
On reflection, someone in the group recognized the swordsman leader of the black-cloaks as someone they’d seen about town. He was most assuredly the husband of Doctor LaBella, Fallenrock’s practicing alchemist. In the dark pre-dawn hours, the party returned to town that they might confront the healer and discover her connection to the nasty work about town. Unfortunately, she was not unaware and was waiting for them.
It seems LaBella was not only a practitioner of the healing arts, but also a quite competent killer, as the Company discovered to their dismay. Upon their arrival at her townhouse, she imbibed a foul concoction of her own make and shifted quickly into a vicious bestial form intent on tearing the party to ribbons. But luckily, after a desperate battle involving exploding projectiles, more black-cloaked cronies, and the wicked claws and fangs of LaBella herself, the Iron Star was again victorious.
The crazed doctor, beaten but still alive due to her beast form’s disturbing ability to withstand punishment, proved a font of information. The plan to move her gang of Phaestian criminals / shiver addicts into Fallenrock whilst killing the opposition and blaming the Circus was laid bare. Her husband and co-conspirator was dead. The sphinx was revealed to be innocent, as the murders had surely been committed by LaBella herself in leonine form. All in all, the mystery was solved and those responsible were either dead or imprisoned.
Upon being rewarded by both the town and the circus, and receiving much praise from both, the members of the Order of the Iron Star had only one thought. We’ve got to get out of this town as soon as possible!