The proprietors of the Deaded Bowl wanted to talk to Adarji ibn Farrokhruz about being a patron to build a road to The Bowl. However, Adarji would have nothing to do with them.
Given that the High Commander did not want to help them, they turned to his second-in-command, Thomas Senegal. The protagonists ambushed Thomas at The Peony Rose, and they agreed to meet up the next morning; Thomas did not mix business with pleasure.
The next morning, THomas told the protagonists about a blackmail plot that was going on in Requitae. He explained that ‘The Moon-Thief’ was skulking about, blackmailing people. His insignia was a stylised crescent moon. There was one case where someone had stood up against the Moon-Thief, and they ended up dying in a conveniently-timed explosion. Thomas explaiend that now Adarji was being blackmailed, and introduced the protagonists to Adarji, offering their help.
Adarji explained to the proprietors that the letter falsely claimed he was a Ketite spy, and threatened to revela this fact if he did not hand over his sword and his necklace – grave insults to a Ketite as Adarji was. The protagonists found planted evidence in Adarji’s office.
Returning to Thomas, the protagonists pressured the second-in-command to reveal that he, too, had been blackmailed; he had been forced to provide his officer key and a schedule of Adarji’s whereabouts for the next two weeks, lest his masochism be revealed. This provided means for the Moon-Thief. This was further supported as the guard on duty said he was relieved by a woman (this woman could not be found), and a set of armour was missing from the armoury.
Asking around town, they talked to Tundil Boltbreaker. They there met Hofriya bint Veer, the town messenger. Tundil admitted that he was being blackmailed, and that he’d lost 1000 griffons in gold to the blackmailer. When the protagonists asked about the alchemist, Tundil explained that there were now apartments where the building once was.
The apartments, as it turned out, belonged to staff of The Peony Rose. The next step was to talk to Lady Tormentosa, the proprietor of that establishment, and this is exactly what the protagonists did. Tormentosa, who did not speak Common and thus had to use a translator, explained that although could not produce the note herself, she, too, had been blackmailed into revealing clients’ doings in exchange for protection of her staff. She was reluctant to agree to such terms, but she had little choice.
At this stage, they had two suspicious parties left: Thomas Senegal and Hofriya bint Veer. Targeting Adarji so specifically was clearly the work of someone who would profit from the removal of Adarji as High Commander, and who would gain more than Thomas Senegal? Thomas had often been described as ‘lucky’ as far as his career advancement went; he wasn’t particularly smart, but he was good with the men. Hofriya, on the other hand, had all the opportunity any blackmailer needed. Although Saleek tailed her for a few hours and found nothing suspicious, it would be easy for a messenger to know people’s secrets.
On their way to talk to a few of Tormentosa’s staff, the protagonists were attacked by four guardsmen who, as it turned out, were being blackmailed by the Moon-Thief and had been specifically ordered to attack the owners of The Dreaded Bowl. The protagonists incapacitated their opponents and moved on. At the apartments, they interviewed Chamelaucia, Thomas’ favourite girl. Chamelaucia did not attract suspicion, had no particular riches, and did not seem to know of any particular cases of blackmailing.
Next, they visited Hofriya’s apartment. She did not show up, although her husband, Bandon Phlebbs, was unconcerned. He was more interested in getting rid of the protagonists and visiting the Tom Cat to hang with his friends. He explained that it was not unusual for Hofriya to come home late, and they sometimes didn’t see each other much in the evenings.
Time was slipping away. At 7 pm, the protagonists left Hofriya’s, Hofriya never having returned home, and interviewed Thomas once more. Thomas’ handwriting did not match that of the blackmail notes, and so suspicion of him was relieved. They had no time left; they went to the grotto where Reynard had died, and where the drop-off point for Adarji’s weapon was.
Falron and Rengar made themselves obvious; Soren and Saleek hid in the shadows. Using paper planes, the Moon-Thief sent them messages to leave the bag in the centre of the clearing and move away. Falron hid in the forest; Rengar at the entrance to the grotto. Nobody saw her until she already had the bag in-hand.
Hofriya was the Moon-Thief. She fought with the protagonists, holding herself well, and proving herself magically apt. When the tides turned against her, she mounted a Broom of Flying and left. She rummaged through the bag but – no! – there was no sword in there. Falron bluffed that he had the sword in-hand, and Hofriya turned around to swipe it. She was too slow, however; Falron ran up the side of the grotto and leapt onto the broom as well. Thus began a mess of a mid-air chase with Saleek running alongside and Rengar and Soren chasing them on foot through the Stronghold, trying to bring guards with them.
Hofriya began to change during the flight, her hair growing thicker, her eyes glowing gold, stripes on her arms and back forming. To Falron’s horror, she became a tiger. They crash-landed in Adarji’s office, but things were going badly for Hofriya. She ended up skulling a potion of invisibility and trying to leave, but it was tough to get rid of Falron’s vice-like grip. Soren and Rengar rushed to the scene, half a dozen soldiers in tow. Finally, she escaped and Saleek and Falron slammed shut the Dwarven shutters on the window. They heard a crack and a growl; a piece of tail and half a broom materialised on the inside of the shutters. When they opened it, Hofriya was gone; the other half of the broom was there and the balcony was bent. They tracked her into the forests atop the stronghold, but she was well past gone.
And what was her motive? Only one thing could tell. While they were struggling in mid-air, Falron and Saleek heard Hofriya cry: “I need that amulet!”
But what is the amulet for? Why does she need it? This, as yet, is unknown.