The newly named Rift Walkers retreated from the Untouched district of Priem with the surgically altered assassin's hand (severed by Uli), coin, poison-coated daggers, and the strange dispersal box that released the plague.
Back at the Adventurer's Guild, the party rested, but Ireni still felt sick from her Rat King bite. Kaneza pulled the party to her quarters when they asked about the coin, explaining that it is used to purchase an assassination within a small chamber in the Temple District.
After their talk, the Rift Walkers went to craftsman's row to track down who made the dispersal box. Jade was able to talk to enough people to trace its clockwork components back to a small shop called Olwin's Clockworks. Olwin, the elderly proprietor of the shop, confirmed he did make the jar; it was an expensive process with a timed release mechanism. He would not share who paid him to make it, but agreed to pass on a message to his client that the Rift Walkers had purchased it from a shady merchant, a lie meant to distance themselves from what happened. Ireni distracted him by dropping her open decanter of endless water with Uli adding to the chaos. Vani snuck behind the counter and, with some quick thinking, grabbed a year's worth of sale records and shoved them into her pack. The party avoided paying Olwin for water damage with a casting of Destroy Water by Ireni.
Stopping for dinner at a restaurant that served very spicy dishes with a vegetable base, the party found the order for the canister under an Annah Sylveste. Yuna bit into a pepper and had a cartoonish moment involving the geyser function of the decanter.
The party returned to the Adventurer's Guild and asked Kaneza about Annah Sylveste; Kaneza wrote on paper that she was the guildmaster of the Transmutation citadel and had the ability to scry. A troubling stop at the Healer's Guild got Ireni briefly locked in quarantine; she had contracted the plague that had ravaged the city a year ago. A cleric from the temple of Waukeen was dispatched to restore her to health, at a cost. Yuna suggested the temple stock up on scrolls with the spell.
The Rift Walkers went back to Arrold, who was a Transmutation instructor at the academy; he was less than pleased to hear about Annah, and even less to see the mutated hand, which had jointed bones much like a spine for hyper-flexibility. After using detect magic to make sure there was no scrying spell active, Arrold painted a cold picture of Annah; she did not even fire him from the academy personally. She also had great interest in the rift, and frowned on Arrold's objections to it being open for study. Scrying spells require an expensive magical device, which Arrold suggested he could get to at the Academy if he had some money to bribe the guards he knew with.
Next up, the party went to the Apothecary's guild to get information on the poison in the daggers. At the guild hub, which turned out to be a small, gardenlike cottage, they met the Firbolg Guildmaster, Arana. When asked about Isz, she recalled meeting him a few years ago; he took great interest in the swamps outside of the city; they had a persistent blight and still do. She also said the best poison specialist the guild was a green dragonborn at a shop called Dragon's Blood. Arana explained that she suffers their presence because they can produce antidotes to poisons on demand. Yuna decided to stay with Arana after learning that the shop had a drow assistant.
At the Dragon's Blood, the party met An'Seath, a female green dragonborn who brushed off most of the party's questions. She agreed to examine the poison in the dagger, and called up her servant, a male drow named Invoro who looked like he recognized the substance on the knives. A wood elf named Kess barged into the shop while the party was waiting, chastising An'Seath for tempting two rookie hunters with slaying a Catoblepas. She left in an angry huff after Uli asked after the reward. Pleased with this, An'Seath negotiated with Uli and settled on 200 gold per Catoblepas eye, 500 for an intact pair. Uli knew that they were dangerous creatures that had the ability to kill with a glance. Invoro returned and said the venom was White Underdark Spider Venom, extremely potent. An'Seath shooed him away, but agreed to make a batch of antidote for it which would be ready in a day.
The party then went to the rift, which was guarded by Kenku and mercenaries they hired. Belial contacted Jade, ordering him to follow an extremely tall woman flanked by two guards at the registration booth for portal time. The woman was delivering enormous amounts of gold to the kenku, buying multiple timeslots with the rift. A bit of investigation and speaking with trees by the party yielded that the woman's name was Opal.
Jade and Vani followed Opal to the Slough, where she was offering gold to the poor citizens of priem for some sort of contract. She then trudged into the Husk, which is considered to be gang territory. Leading her flock, she approached a building, murdered the occupants within, then inscribed a golden sigil that meant 'Contract' in infernal on the door. There was a whole street full of such buildings, and all had lavish interiors filled with people in fine clothes, a physical impossibility.
Jade and Vani spotted Patches, who led them back to Roxx. The rest of the party caught up with the group. They learned the Gold Fang had been muscled out of part of their territory by Opal, who stayed in a particular house marked 'Palace' in Infernal, the only unique marking on the row. The party was amicable enough to the criminals, and they suggested working together again; trying to gain entrance to the 'Palace' summons hordes of the contracted to defend it. The Gold Fang promised the party they would be a distraction while they broke inside.
Belial made vague excuses about politics when pressed for information by Jade, but ordered him to kill Opal and warned him "not to be greedy". Roxx was also floored to learn the party had an assassin's coin; she explained there was a dummy in a building in the temple district that accepts the coin and records hit requests. Her men tried to stake the place out before, but were killed, so she decided to live and let live. Roxx also offered money for the coin, but the party refused.
The party returned to the Adventurer's Guild for a rest, then tried to stake out Dragon's Blood; they made some noise, however, and weren't confident they weren't spotted. They got together with Roxx and Patches again, ready to storm the Palace.
Scrying magic is powerful, costly, and naturally invites paranoia.