“And so,” said Lady Evelyn Garringsburg, her voice lilting in a faintly deranged but undeniably highborn fashion, “despite the fact that my home was recently broken into by scurrilous ne’er-do-wells who made off with a priceless painting from my personal collection, I feel absolutely no compunctions whatsoever about leaving my door unlocked, so that random people off the street can wander into my parlor and ask me personal questions about recent events in my life!”
“Splendid!” said Madeline Chesney, Savior of Arcanum. “And a good thing for you! Had you not been so hospitable in spite of your recent misfortune, you would not now have at your disposal a quite extraordinary group of ladies and gentlemen. We shall retrieve your painting for you, Lady Garringsburg!”
“Oh, good,” said Lady Garringsburg, fanning her face with patent relief. “I so wanted to entrust the safety of my personal belongings to a crowd of heavily-armed strangers with no experience whatsoever in criminal investigation rather than go to the police with my concerns.” She offered a plate. “More sweet biscuits, children?”
* * *
Jayna Stiles emerged from the dark opulence of the Garringsburg parlor into the busy noonday light of Tarant, munching on one of Lady Garringsburg’s sweet biscuits and feeling largely content with her lot in life. Despite the eccentricity of her current employer, it was impossible to deny that Jayna loved the city and all of its modern marvels. The ancient, technophobic monarchy of Dernholm was no place for a young girl with a keen interest in Medical Science, and Dernholm, well, Dernholm was backwards enough that it didn’t even have proper sanitation. Not that Jayna Stiles ever wanted to see the vast and labyrinthine sewer system of Tarant, but it was indeed a comfort to know that it was there.
“Well,” said Madeline Chesney, Savior of Arcanum, striding forth into sunshine, “there’s no helping it. We must descend into the vast and labyrinthine sewer system of Tarant.”
Jayna choked upon her biscuit. She coughed ineffectually for a moment before her predicament was resolved thanks to a sound smack on the back from the mighty-thewed palm of Gar, The World’s Smartest Orc.
Meanwhile, Virgil of Panarii — his voice unencumbered by biscuit crumbs — was the first to speak.
“In God’s name– I mean… In the name of… I mean… WHY?!?”
Madeline Chesney crossed over to Virgil and placed her hand on his shoulder in a most unladylike and quite chummy fashion. She gazed for a moment into his watery blue eyes.
“Money,” she said, calmly. And then she was off again.