Surveillance is the first stage of the plan. The Rats scope out the safe house during the day – Nik inveigles his way into the company of the carpenters at a coffin maker’s workshop across the road, providing some entertainment for the workers for a few coppers and a crust of bread and some water at their lunch; Shackle takes some day labour nearby. A couple of armed men walk out of the house in the afternoon, and Tess tails them across to the Curzian where she observes a meeting with some swarthy looking sea-dogs. As the meeting ends, she tails the sailors across to the Delian ward, by the Docklands, where they saunter into a dingy little rope shop only to disappear into a back rooms. Under the calculating gaze of the shopkeeper, Tess unobtrusively heads back to the Kythan.
After establishing that the place is guarded pretty constantly, Tess gets Shackle to lift her up onto the roof at night so she could get a closer look. From above, Tessa has an easy view of the movements of the guards in the small courtyard below, quietly noting that there are at least six or seven rough and ready looking fellows active, even at night. She overhears a conversation between them, indicating that this rather hard-boiled crew are mercenaries, brought in by this courier – a human woman, called Charis. They confirm much of the intelligence given by Hamel, but with a significant divergence: they have been operating on the fringes of the Chondalwood, significantly further upstream from the Glass Mesa. One of them quietly says that he’ll be glad when they’re out of the Chondalwood because the elves are getting suspicious, and he’ll be even more glad when this entire job is over because these foreigners are vicious bastards, and they’ll be well free of them.
Prowling across the roof she finds a set of boarded up shutters that (when the nails are removed) allow easy entry into the attic space, and once there she is in her element. By carefully tracing the layout of the rooms by the wall spaces beneath the attic’s beams, she is able to guess at the location of the safe room at the defensible back room on the upper story. With some wriggling she is able to work herself into the wall cavity and, by carefully sawing through the plaster and wooden slats supporting it, she is able to gently push out a section of the wall and gain entry to the room. Finding a heavy cupboard with an imposing lock, she supposes that this will be where the shipment will be stored. She carefully prises out the nails in the back panel, but replaces it so that it can be moved easily. Feeling quietly smug at her preparations, she slips out and away, leaving no visible trace of her passage.
Cheered by the news of the easy passage into the safe house the Rats prepare for the other stages of their plan, finding a cabinet maker through mutual acquaintance who will be able to knock together a replica of the chest the gems will be shipped in, and a theatre propmaster who can produce rough replica stones from coloured glass.
Nik’s surveillance spots the courier arriving with her escort, three grim-looking Chessentan soldiers, a few hours ahead of their anticipated time. Notably they are carrying a small chest as they enter.
- With Nik & Hargraine waiting in reserve in case things go poorly, Tessa & Shackle get up onto the roof of the safe house.
- Just as they’re about to enter the attic, the crew of sea-dogs that Tess had previously tailed to the Delian Ward arrives at the gate, clearly unannounced. Nik’s well-travelled eye picks their kohl-eyed and beringed leader as a mendicant-priest of Calimshan, the others as a gold dwarf upper-world exile, a New Abeiran dragonborn warrior-pilgrim, and a sinister drow shadow-walker who trails silently behind. Without a doubt Nick decides they are not just sailors, but pirates.
- From inside the attic, Tess & Shackle overhear as the courier greets the pirates warily, and enters a heated discussion with their leader. She takes the opportunity to complain (again, obviously) about the wasted time before their departure, but the pirate dissembles about tides and supply matters. He reassures her that they will deliver her as arranged by the appointed day – ‘Provided you’re not bringing anything… illegal with you, we won’t have any trouble.’ Charis tells them to stop fishing for information they don’t need, and just get her to the rendezvous as arranged. ‘You don’t need to worry about what I’m carrying.’
- During this exchange Tess decides the discussion is sufficient distraction, and goes about the tense business of completing the burglary. She gains access again to the safe room and, as anticipated, finds the lacquered case in the cupboard she had prepared previously (along with some other minor loot to be covered later). She passes it up to Shackle and replaces all the panels to hide any trace of her passage. The pair carefully make their escape with the case of gems.