Beyond the area where Melody resided, and deeper within the cellar, the group finds a series of well organized artifacts. Rook was right, the ledger was used to catalogue them and Malik had been peddling stolen artifacts.
Using the ledger, the group is able to identify that only a single artifact is missing. The Hegemonix.
The group pieces together the clues and determine that whoever killed the information broker likely also stole this Hegemonix.
Seeing all the damning evidence against her father’s integrity come together causes Remi anguish. Her father wasn’t just an information broker who had rooted himself in the aristocracies of Elenia, he was a smuggler and a thief too. While Remi didn’t know the full extent of the motivations behind his apprehension to let Nightingale and Zeke hang around his estate, she knew that it was likely that the royal family didn’t know how deep his treachery ran. Remi apologizes to everyone, worried that she got them caught up in something awful. Regardless, the others stand by her side, ensuring her that it wasn’t her fault.
Realizing that Malik and Grace are likely up to no good, Remi worries that relying on them will get Nightingale killed. She is decidedly clear that they can’t wait around for someone else to solve this murder for them. Remi wasn’t going to wait around for Nightingale to end up like Melody, nothing but a host for a horrible parasite.
Rook agrees outright with Remi. He shares his concern with the authorities getting involved, yet their being a severe lack of official accountability and intervention. And Grace using the Black Hand to do an investigation only made him more worried that the Duchess of Rhamsted was likely benefiting from all this somehow. Without circumventing the royalty of Rhamsted, Nightingale was in real danger.
Zeke doesn’t seem surprised, nor does he seem quick to defend his cousin. He’d heard stories, and there had been constant rumors about Grace’s surprising ability to turn such a small town into something so successful. But somewhere deep down, Zeke still wanted to give Grace the benefit of the doubt. If Malik was a criminal, she’d need to know.
All of the talking blurred into the background, and in Nightingale’s exhaustion and malaise, she only found herself listening to the Maluma’s whispers in her mind. It lulled her, promising Nightingale once gain that it could take her to the murderer. It knew where they were. If only she’d give it her body, for only a moment.
Before Nightingale can agree to the Maluma’s deal, Rook shakes her out of the stupor. Nightingale’s fear shows for the first time and she trembles as clarity comes crashing back into her. Rook can tell that the Maluma is getting a stronger hold. Slowly, but surely, Nightingale would succumb if they didn’t act with haste and purpose.
Above them the floorboards creak as someone enters the house. Everyone goes still, worried its the Black Hand returning. Instead, through small slivers of light in the ceiling the group catches images of Aisling, the redheaded woman that had been arguing with Padric. Moments later, Aisling darts out of the house, leaving fire and billowing smoke in her wake.
Panicking, the group realizes that Aisling set fire to the house. They narrowly escape the burning building by breaking out a window on the upper levels and rolling out onto the grass.
After letting the adrenaline subside and recovering from coughing fits the group angrily decides to pay Padric a visit about his redheaded friend. Afterall, if Aisling tried torching the place, she might be the murderer. Furthermore, she might also have the papers they need to find the Theodotion Mage.