The one with Jeeren and the puzzle boxes

A soft breeze had picked up early in the evening, playing with Yanika’s long curly hair. She ran her fingers through her locks in a futile attempt to restore them to some semblance of order, much to the amusement of Emine. The two sat on the balcony of the mansion belonging to the captain’s parents, where they had retreated after a lovely dinner with the family. Even though the food and company had been marvelous as always, Yanika had been dying to fill her girlfriend in on the details of their latest adventures, even though she was already aware of a lot of the details.


“For once we weren’t woken up early in the morning before decent people got out of bed, but this time our guest arrived near noon. And quite the surprise this guest was! Har’Hak, the brute we had so much trouble with right at the beginning, had come to hire us in the name of his employer, to do negotiations with the giants in order to procure an item. We had a massive discussion about this as most of us were reluctant to work with Har’Hak, seeing out past troubles, and working for his boss, who’s a devil, especially as that work entails getting him a powerful magical item called a Rod of Law. So in the end we decided against it and declined.”


Emine looked at Yanika and smiled, nodding her head in agreement.


“I think that was a wise decision. Not usually the strong suit of Spade, but I think your good influence is rubbing off on him.”


She added with a grin, making Yanika blush slightly.


“So with nothing much to do for the day I decided to get the materials for a chicken pen and started building it on the roof. Which showed just how paranoid everyone has gotten since they questioned me about why I would do that! If it wasn’t obvious...chickens lay eggs, we eat eggs, Kayne and Aitlas eat quite a lot of them. And we can eat the chickens too if needed.”


Yanika laughed softly as she thought back on the questioning looks and finally Aitlas coming to ask her what she was doing and why. Apparently it had gone so far as thinking that it was some elaborate alarm system. But no, Yanika had just felt like using the spare space on the roof to hold some chickens, nothing special.


“It was while I was working on my chicken pen when I noticed a lot of skyrifles hanging out on the streets and at the Artificers guild. So I went and asked one of your minions and got informed that there had been a break-in at the Guild.”


Yanika had headed to the Skyrifle headquarters to talk to Emine about the burglaries, after having dissuaded Kayne from going after Nathan. He had insisted on ambushing him on the Tuesday meetings, in order to deal with him once and for all, but she had managed to talk him out of the idea, as it would just lead to a similar situation like last time, where they had had to let him go. By now he would have built up contingencies again, and they would need to dismantle his operation before taking him on.


“You gave me the information about what had been stolen at the Guild, for which I am extremely grateful, as it helped us catch the perpetrator, even though it first made us think that Nathan was behind all of it, given the notebook that had been stolen. I can’t immediately think of anyone else who’d steal an ancient notebook regarding sentient constructs.”


Emine smiled softly at Yanika and slid a bit closer, slipping her good arm around the girl’s waist and pulling her close before kissing her cheek.

“You’re most welcome my dear. After all, it helped you solve the crime that had been plaguing our city the past few weeks, and got a lot of work and stress off my desk.”


The redhead made a dismissive motion, like it had been nothing at all, but she did enjoy getting all this loving attention and praise from Emine. So she smiled and kissed her back softly.


“Majid and I, being members, went to investigate the scene of the crime at the Guildhall, while Ace and Spade went to check out the Racks before heading to Goldgulch, and Aitlas and Kayne went to Hillside Rise. They reported back later that there had been burglaries in both Hillside Rise and Goldgluch, but none in the Racks, unsurprisingly, and that someone had been stealing puzzle boxes all over the place, always during the day. In the meanwhile Majid and I learned that there had been a fancy old puzzle box stolen from the Guildhall, but also that there had been a short fight down there in the storage room, which led us to believe that there were two burglars, and not one.”


The dark haired captain of the Skyrifles nodded at that conclusion. It made sense of course, someone was stealing only lockboxes all over the place and had an unfortunate run in with whomever had been there to steal the notebook.


“Maybe you should come work for me instead. You’d make a great detective.”


This again made Yanika blush brightly and she shook her head.


“It was a group effort and I’ve learned a lot from Spade in doing investigations, as I’m sure he’s learned all those skills from you. He came up with the idea to buy a puzzle box and put it out in the open to lure the thief to us. Which surprisingly worked. During Majid’s watch, someone disguised as Spade, went into the office and took the puzzle box. We managed to trace him back to Goldgulch, and after some asking around, found someone who told us he had seen our disguised Spade head into one of the brothels, named the ‘SnowRose’. For some reason Spade was very reluctant to set foot in a brothel, something I will need to ask him about sometime , but he did manage to talk the owner, a woman named Kalla, into letting us investigate the place. In the end Spade found the stolen puzzle box in the attic and Kayne summoned Zoey to sniff out the thief, which turned out to be Jeeren, the cook. Ace used her magic to confirm that he was indeed the thief and of course he tried to run, but Kayne knocked him out, at which point he turned into his true self, a changeling! Which explains how he so easily managed to steal all those boxes during the day.”


Emine raised an eyebrow and nodded as she listened to the story. For a moment the thought crossed her mind that Yanika might be embellishing Spade’s contribution, but she dismissed that thought quickly. Yanika might be prone to exaggerating sometimes, but she would never do that just to put Spade in a better light for her sake.


“We decided to interrogate him a bit first before handing him over to the guards. He admitted to stealing all the puzzle boxes, simply because he thinks they are interesting. Apparently it’s a changeling thing that they’re attracted to some sort of object and get obsessed with acquiring them. He did confirm that there was another thief at the Guildhall and that he fought with her briefly. All he could give in way of a description was that she’s a woman with brown eyes and dressed like the typical thief.”


After this they had informed the guards and the mayor of Goldgulch, and had handed over Jeeren to them. They had told the guards where the thief lived and had convinced them to go and check out the place. Inside they had found almost a hundred stolen puzzle boxes, including the one from the Guildhall, but more importantly, they had found a very fancy silver lockbox in his footlocker. Inside had been a jade puzzle and a scroll. The scroll contained the image of a dragon fighting a group of adventurers, which was the key to opening the puzzle box. Ace had gotten a vision, which had helped decipher the combination. The puzzle box contained a glass key, which they had kept while replacing the rest. They had kept the key, mistakenly thinking it was one of the keys they were looking for.


“For some reason, instead of leaving it at that, Ace wanted to go back to talk to Jeeren, being a fellow changeling. We let her, and stupidly we let her do so alone. I’ll never understand why some people feel the need to share way too much information about things to bad people. Like sharing that we had managed to open the box and had gotten the key. Jeeren was obviously not pleased with this and asked Ace to give back the key, which opens a door somewhere in the city, and told her we could keep everything else, just not that key. And if she wouldn’t give it back, he’d come and find it after getting out of jail, and he wouldn’t be nice about it. As a changeling he was convinced they wouldn’t be able to keep him locked up for very long, and seeing this, Ace made the unbelievably stupid decision to try and help him escape right there and then! It failed though, especially as the rest of us helped stop the escape.”


Yanika shook her head thinking back on the entire thing. What had gone on in Ace’s mind to take such a rash action? I could only come back to bite her in the ass, and almost, not quite, put her on level with Majid and his torture. Aiding criminals was not the way to go about things, no matter the reasons behind it. The sole good thing about it was that they now had an address of where to go with the key.

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