Ander flipped through the small stack of papers in front of him. He was human, a bit on the shorter side but with a face that made a man think twice about pointing that out.
“You’re all new here,” he stated, addressing the group of mercenaries seated across from him. “And you’re green as grass, so the Hand wants to start you out easy. Each anomaly is ranked with a threat level based on how dangerous its innate powers are. There are three ranks, and you’re going up against the bottom: Safe-class. But just ‘cause it’s called Safe don’t mean it’s gonna be easy to get a hold of.”
He pushed the papers towards the party. The header of the front page read: Assignment: Anomaly 762. “You’re going to locate and retrieve an iron maiden.”
One of the elves, a cleric, looked up. “What, like the torture device?”
“Not quite. It only looks like an iron maiden. It’s an anomaly, so it doesn’t act like it should. We don’t know what it does, but we know what it doesn’t. Apparantly, its victims aren’t dying.” He paused to let it sink in. “The device is currently in the hands of Lord Iridel, a sadistic half-elf noble who runs a small town called Lodenburg in southern Galenwresh. The Northern Alliance tosses him the prisoners of war that they don’t care too much about. He purchased 673 about a week ago, and discovered its little quirk soon after. We need you to steal it and bring it to us before he does something truly stupid.”
“Steal it?” repeated an elf. “We’re the Syndicate, can’t we just requisition it or buy it off him or something?”
“It isn’t that simple,” Ander explained. “We work from the shadows. If we revealed ourselves to every peasant who finds a magic stick, we’d be exposed in no time. One of our agents has already tried to purchase it anonymously, but Iridel fancies himself as some kind of collector. He won’t budge. Especially now that he knows about 673’s irregularities; he probably considers it the pride of his collection. If the Syndicate can acquire an anomaly discretely, they do. When that’s impossible, they give to job to the Crimson Hand. That’s where you all come in.”
He leaned back in his chair. “That’s about all the information we have. You’re just Initiates, so you’ll get no other support from the Syndicate. Think of this as a trial. If the Hand is pleased with the outcome of this mission, you can move up to the interesting jobs. So good luck, and uh…” He gestured towards the three scrolls sitting on the table. “Don’t forget to write home.”