Tiddy, the Aquiri ranger and her trusty Labrador Marcos
Exxar, the dragonborn fighter
Glarn, the human gladiator
Ricardo, the fire genasi wizard
The four used a ritual by which they could breathe underwater, and so were adept at sneaking into the Weighters. Inside, they subdued some guards and cultists (Children of the Archmage) and snuck into the deepest recesses of the largest ship in the Weighters. At times Glarn thought that he could hear noises of people when there wasn’t anyone there, and several times people could hear chanting going on in rooms in front of them but when they entered there were boxes and hammocks but no one in sight. Eventually Glarn looked through his axe (infused with pure Elemental Water) and saw that in one room there were two realities. The one that they could see with several pirates drinking and gambling, and one that had a dwarven ritualist surrounded by the missing Rockhold citizens. Glarn walked right up to the phased dwarf and hit him with the only items that could… the axe. The dwarf lost concentration which caused the two phased realities to merge once more. People who merged back into another person’s space were thrown back violently, stunning them. The dwarf, however, merged with a non-living item. After the inevitable fight, the party was disgusted to find a table infused with the soul of the dwarf, forever writhing and moaning. ...and bleeding. During the fight, one of the cultists was hurt by the PCs and fell to the ground, twisting and shaking, his screams turning into roars as his eyeballs melted and were replaced with glowing red power. One of the civilians recognised the threat and doused the man/thing with holy water, ending the transformation. The thing was a human who had bonded his soul with a demon willingly with the intention of peace. This “Peacefiend” had considerable power as a human and could prevent almost anyone from taking harmful actions in their presence. Furthermore, they had the ability to sway others to their cause and could use supernatural powers of persuasion. The tradeoff however was that if they become bloodied or killed, the defenses keeping the demon from taking over were breached, allowing the demon to be fully summoned. It is a terrible ritual used by stupid people who believe that peace is worth any price. It is also used by evil people who wish to seed an entire city with potential demons and then harm even one… the resulting demon would then kill other Peacefiends, until the city was overrun. Talking to the civilians for a while, it was discovered that the fives heads of the houses were missing. And so the five other adults and the five children (who all seemed unnaturally precocious for their ages) were taken back to the diplomatic headquarters in the red flag district.
Where they discovered that the heads of the houses had been discovered. Dead. No sign of physical trauma but their faces were expressions of horror and pain. Whilst examining the children, Ricardo detected a magical emanation on the children, one that bespoke of a ritual being cast upon them at some point in the last 24 hours. When mentioning this to the lead diplomat (former adventurer rogue Lord Montierry), he also noted that there were five elderly Aquiri in the main healing center who had also been indentified to have a ritual aura upon them. It was at this point that the adventurers started thinking… five Aquiri children who acted too mature for their ages. Five dead heads of houses. Five elderly Aquiri who had been acting in a state of absolute horror. All with a ritual aura. And the Illumians had stated that somewhere within the city a demonic ritual had been cast… This is their idea (and they’re correct): The five leaders used a demonic ritual that swapped their minds into their children, the childrens’ minds into the minds of the elderly, and the elderly were killed. Thus the adults would have escaped the consequences of their supposed part on the attack on Rockhold.
However, as it stands the “children” cannot be dealt with by Rockhold law as their physical age makes it illegal for them to be tried under the legal system. The Aquiri have no such compunctions, but they do not allow for undue interrogation and all legal proceedings go through the official Aquiri state. Therefore, the Rockhold government would not gain the information they need to press ahead with their own inquiries. They could try and duplicate the ritual, but it’s a demonic ritual that requires five sacrifices. Or they could ask the Illumians to help, but their intervention would raise questions, and the Illumians are counting on them to keep their identities a secret. They could seek the help of the Mathews Foundation or the Titan Institute, but they don’t trust those organisations. Finally, they could just interrogate the children for the information, but then they’d be breaking 2nd degree laws in the city of Iquara.
Finally, they could just hand them over and not interfere. But they wouldn’t be adventurers if they did that.