Mid-morning the following day, the wet and weary party arrives back in Corvis to be greeted by Sergeant Arn with a request from Watch Captain Julian Helstrom, who wishes to meet them immediately at a tavern called the Falling Star, in the Docks district.
The Docks are busy during this part of the day, though the reputation of the burg at night is somewhat seedier. The Falling Star is no different, and even at this time of the morning is filled with customers; dockhands grabbing a quick bite or pint, laborers looking to hire onto a river boat or as a dockhand, layabouts looking for an easier way to snag a few coins. The tavern is a grimy place, and its patrons are even grimier. They drink watered ale from flagons and tankards, and engage in loud conversation forming a crude and ever-rising din. The walls are adorned with furs and hanging tapesries of every color, and a pair of shaggy dun and brindle dogs crack bones by the hearth. The barkeeper, a huge man known as Dando the Bull (by reason of the fact that his neck is actually thicker than his head), wipes a wooden flagon with a dirty-looking towel. His trusty bouncer Gajan sits at a dark corner of the bar, frowning and toying with the grips of the twin pistols holstered on his thighs. Though a man of slight build, the more boisterous tavern-goers give him a wide berth.
Helstrom is sitting by himself at a table, though it is evident that he is not alone. Neither he nor his two men are wearing their Watch cloaks, in fact they are dressed in civilian garb without armor. Helstrom immediately questions the group as to what they have learned so far, and the team reveals their findings from the Witches Tomb and the catacombs under the cathedral. He is dismayed to learn that all the evidence points to Dumas’ niece as the perpetrator, and how that news will effect Pandor. He expresses his frustration with what he considers the irresponsible position of the Watch Commander to allow him to investigate the crimes, and suspects that the interference is coming from the city council, from the highest levels of the government. He admits that he can only rely on his few trusted watchmen and now, hopefully, this team of newcomers, an advantage as they are an unknown factor to the powers that be.
Helstrom then reveals to the group that he has indeed disobeyed orders, and detailed two men whose loyalty lies with him rather than the Watch proper to scout the area to the northwest. They in turn had reported the movement of what seemed to be animated skeletons periodically headed further to the northwest, deep into the swamp. The only place of any significance in that direction would be the ruins of old Fort Rhyker, an ancient and abandoned outpost from the days of the Thousand Cities, and the site of a major battle. His suspicions aroused, he had dispatched the two scouts in that direction days ago, but they have not reported back on time.
Helstrom asks the party to investigate Fort Rhyker, about a two day ride through the Widower’s Wood to the edge of the swamp. He also asks that they try to learn the fate of his men… Their families deserve to know what has happened to them, and Helstrom holds himself responsible. As a hedge against what he suspects may be the worst-case scenario, Helstrom will provide the team with two small casks of blasting powders, and a small pistol that he requests be returned to him, as it is not really his to loan out. He also provided a writ of service that proclaimed the team members to be operating in the interest of the Watch and City Law, that might persuade some merchants to be more flexible with their prices. It was decided that Durin would leave early, scouting ahead and meeting the team later.