Starday, 18 Neth, 4733
At the Kaijitsu Villa, Marcus catches up with Duli and asks about her relationship with her estranged brother Brodi. The dwarven woman explains that she and her brother are from the Goddig family of the Wyrmbreaker Clan of Janderhoff, but as exiles they can no longer use those names.
A decade ago, her brother was accused of stealing the key to the Great Gate of Janderhoff, which connects the Dwarven Sky Citadel with the Underdark. Duli thought her brother was being railroaded and joined him in exile as a protest, only to realize he had stolen the key after all.
She describes the key as an adamantine object about the size of a mace, bearing the face of King Jander. Spells are woven into it to prevent scrying, which may be why her brother stole it. She suspects he was smuggling goods out of the Underdark, and has ties to the Korvosan underworld.
Duli has been striving for some way to restore her family’s honor, but she doesn’t have the fighting skill to go about the usual way—killing a shit ton of goblins, orcs, and giants—and she lacks the roguish talent to steal the key back. She’s been trying and failing to figure out a way to retrieve it. Marcus offers to help, though he admits his interest is driven in part by the presence of an adamantine magic item.
Their first stop is at Billivin’s Benevolent Balms and Effulgent Elixirs, the eclectic magic shop run by the absent-minded gnome Billiver Billivin. The gnome shopkeep forces Marcus to answer some riddles before suggesting that they think about how to acquire the key without magic, since it’s warded against spells. Marcus then asks about crafting a magic rod into a weapon. The gnome directs him to the Stone of Seers, Magnimar’s finest wizard’s academy.
At the school, all the professors are busy but a talking stone angel statue outside schedules an appointment with the headmaster. Marcus then moves on to the Founder’s Archive. He fails to impress the head librarian, but is nonetheless able to research the origins of the “snake lady” Xanesha.
His information suggests that she is of the lamia-kin, cursed beings who often take the form of comely women with the lower halves of lions. Xanesha is likely a more powerful form of such creatures, a so-called lamia matriarch. Lamias are spiteful and predatory, known to corrupt the innocent, defile sacred places, and lure in mortal lovers who they devour once they grow bored.
Lamias can breed with mortals, and it is likely that Xanesha’s “sister” is a genuine blood relation. Marcus’ research suggests that there is an unusually high prevalence of lamias in Varisia, with some scholars speculating they have ties to ancient Thassilon.
Marcus also researches the Janderhoff key and discovers a reference sketch of it. He has a plan to create a replica and startle Brodi into thinking it was stolen, in order to provoke the dwarf into rushing to check its hiding place. However, it will be a challenge to whip up a convincing replica.
Marcus then goes to meet with headmaster Leis Nivlandis at the Stone of Seers. The half-elf who believes that Marcus’ proposal of merging a magic rod into the shaft of a weapon is feasible, but faces challenges. He directs him to work with a halfling wizard, Ander, who has an interest in constructs.