Jarred as Quentin, the Bard wonder
Collin as Keira, the ever-flexible Swordmage
Hannah as Phelaia, Thief extraordinaire
Katie as The Badass Paladin
Umar as Link, the Not-Silent Warden
After stopping the framing and killing the Flaming Fist, the heroes take the personal effects of the judge and stop in his courtroom the next day. They confirm that he seems sympathetic to the Outer City and seems to unexpectedly lessen a sentence for a thief bearing a subtle Guild symbol they have seen before. They confront the judge privately in his chambers, returning the item and confirming his innocence. They question him about the Guild, the Cult of Bhaal, and Ravengard, but he is mostly unhelpful. He does mention that the Upper City vs Lower City leadership seem to be escalating their power struggle, furthering the strife and pain of the common citizens, citing a new policy by the Council of Four to extend the Upper City curfew several hours earlier, hurting Outer and Lower City merchants, and a retaliatory hike in the tariff on luxury goods passing through the Lower City docks (enacted by the Harbormaster and Ravengard) which is intended to enrage the patriars, but likely to have a side effect of negatively impacting the economy of the city.
The heroes go talk with the Harbormaster, who says it was Ravengard’s idea to retaliate this way, recognizing the tariff hike may be bad for the city, but refusing to drop it until the curfex extension is also lifted. During the conversation, Phelaia sneaks through the offices and finds a large book with an unusual magical seal in the back office. Quentin requests an audience with the Parliament of Peers to argue against the curfew, and while outside the parliament house the rest of the party incites a riot and brawl with the guards to further demonstrate how angry the common people are about the policies (which most were there to complain about anyway). During the audience, Quentin argues passionately and points out the riot as further evidence. The Parliament speaker agrees with his logic and says they will further consider it given their respect for the Heroes of the Wide and obvious will of the people. On the way out, a messenger from Coran stops the heroes and invites them to a party at his mansion that night, intended as a “last hurrah” before the tariff increase goes into effect and reduces supply of the delicacies they would otherwise enjoy.
Everyone shows up at the party that night, and spends time making allies among the patriars and generally hobnobbing and enjoying all the fine things available (and possibly some illicit ones?). Phelaia sneaks around grabbing whatever she can get her hands on to turn a profit, and after finding Coran’s “private” bedchamber, he shows up in the hallway. With a wink, he asks her to restrict her taking to the provided party favors rather than his personal collection, and also mentions that, besides his storing up of luxury goods, the heroes should check out “who else might be hoarding things in the city,” and the Harbormaster might be a good place to start. On the way out, he also offers to help them whenever he can with navigating the complex politics of the city, since he was a young poor adventurer himself at one time. Although, with some questioning he does not provide much directly helpful info and returns to the party.
Phelaia relates the information he gave privately, as well as the book she saw earlier in the Harbormaster’s office, and they decide not to waste any more time but go ahead and break in and check it out that night. They head over, the street is pretty much deserted outside his office but Phelaia breaks off her lockpick in the door. Keira impatiently just kicks the door open and everyone heads inside. He sees the strong protective seal on the book and is able to disable it, but upon picking up and opening the book he realizes there was another magical seal on the table underneath, which has now been broken! No alarm is sounded, but several magical constructs of fire emerge from the seal and begin attacking the party. The others run in from outside and everyone engages.
Fortunately, with strong teamwork and multiple well armored heroes who can keep the constructs distracted, they are able to defeat them fairly quickly. They seem to be a simple magical defense without strong thought or teamwork, so the heroes make short work of them with several heavy blows. Once they are defeated, the magic is spent. The book turns out to be a ledger with records into the distant past of everything that has come in and out of the harbor. It is an overwhelming amount of information, but Keira, The Badass Paladin and Quentin spend some time reading through it and working together to assemble clues to anything unusual. They find that a company called Felogyr’s Fireworks has a history of ordering one annual shipment of smokepowder ingredients [DM Note: read as “gunpowder”, e.g. stuff to make bombs]. But a few weeks ago, after the normal year’s shipment arrived, a second shipment with four times as much ingredients was delivered under the same company. No one else in the city has a history of ordering smokepowder (and, as a controlled substance, it requires a license) so this is very unusual. But what would someone do with that much smokepowder?