Gorthaur and Grognak head to the Magical College to do some information gathering while the others stay in the hideout to either fraternize with the new thief underlings or inspect their new base of operations. At the College, they discover that the magical goblets cause any liquid poured out of them to be poisonous (though they do not know the effect of the poison yet), and the magical choker is a Bardic amplification device, which allows for certain vocal effects. In addition, the (sub)party finds out that it will cost about 10,000 gold for them to be sent to Hell, due to “magical component and additional guard detail costs.” Gorthaur also bribes a magical student (“Codsworth”) to allow for a meeting with the Keeper of Illusion later in the day.
Meanwhile, Mira spends time memorizing the layout of Archduke Augustus Augusto’s inn (the Hotel Kilazio), as well as his itinerary. Calderón and Arvi make inroads on winning over the underling thieves to be supportive of their new leader; Calderón gains the nickname “the Hammer” amongst the thieves. Mira uses a magical, mirrored cube on Jule’s desk to contact T, requesting he visit for advice. T essentially tells the party extra information about Augustus Augusto: he is a very skilled mage, renown for his inventive abilities. He will be giving a technical talk about his newest invention at the College in two days. T mentions that this new device is rumored to be a powerful teleportation machine, and the group wonders if it may be a potential tool to get them to Hell.
The party regroups and heads to the College to meet with Magister Eliot, Keeper of Illusion, in a backroom that Codsworth has arranged for them. The old dwarf is clearly lecherous and extremely condescending, repeatedly referring to all in the party other than Gorthaur as peasants and addressing Arvi and Mira with by the excessively forma “M’lady” at all times. He eventually requests that Grognak and Arvi “join him in his chambers later.” The two wisely refuse. The party attempts to convince Eliot to help them get to Hell by explaining the situation with the dodecahedron, but he raises several questions: “if it’s so powerful, how did these two peasants (Gorthaur and Calderón) survive?”; “it wiped out a small elvish town, and elves are clearly a weaker degenerate race, so what does Broughton have to fear?”; “why should the party be trusted in any capacity with such a weapon, if it is in fact as dangerous as they say?” All this while insulting everyone continuously. Finally fed up, the party appears to want to start a fight, but Eliot blasts Calderón with a weak disintegrate, nearly killing him and forcing the party to slink away back to the hideout.
In the hideout, the party makes a new plan: they are going to steal the Archduke’s device while it is in the Hotel Kilazio. They hope to start off sneaky, but the codeword “Grapple!” will be shouted if everything goes wrong and they need to resort to combat. To aid in the heist, they recruit three thieves: Clark, Bethany, and Stacy. Some specifics: Arvi is to dress as the bellhop, with the thieves acting as the other inn workers. Gorthaur will attend the talk at the College and will see whether or not Augustus brings the device with him or leaves it at the school; he’ll alert Arvi by ordering at the bar: “if beer, we’re in the clear; if not, water.” More details are discussed, which (spoiler alert) won’t ultimately matter. Note also that Gorthaur takes the time to carve identifying initials into the foreheads of his skeletons/corpses and animates three of them, giving him four animated corpses.
On their “day off,” Mira sells some of their excess goods, as well as the Bardic choker.
The day of the talk comes; Gorthaur attends and finds out the device needs a huge magical source (like a Fount) to operate and that it sends targets to signatures of huge magical energy (these sources need not be emitting magic, just have a large potential). The Archduke then hobnobs amongst the upper crust of the College, while Gorthaur discusses casual Necromantic theory with some lesser mages. He notices that five of Augustus’ standard guards and three of his elite guards have accompanied him.
At the inn, the rest of the party is set up and ready to go. They see that some of the standard guards have already set up camp in the hotel. Grognak plays cards with one of them for pocket gold. Mira, momentarily forgetting the finer details of the plan, says aloud “Am I supposed to poison these guys?” which prompts Calderón to begin the “Grapple!” process (though he doesn’t shout the word). In the ensuing minutes, the party finds out the goblet poison acts as a complete paralytic, with the victim retaining consciousness. Mira cuts off some fingertips of one of the victims, learning that involuntary responses such as pain sensitivity are not diminished in this state.
The following standard guards are subsequently killed and placed in the bag of holding, filling it completely: Fred (strangled by Calderón while paralyzed), Jed (fingers removed by Mira while paralyzed, then slain by Calderón), Zed (beheaded by Mira), Ed (poisoned + slain), Led and Ged and Med (all slain in combat), Tedd (beheaded by Calderón), and Ded (after having a foot sliced off). Blood utterly drenches Mira and Calderón (Arvi and Grognak are much cleaner). The visible standard guards killed, the party stops to wonder what they’re going to do next, now that their plan has been so significantly derailed.