That night, the last night of the Week of Peace, Ben Firenze comes calling to DCM HQ...
"I've finally unlocked the Gem," he says with a flourish. "It took some doing, I don't mind saying... Whoever created this item didn't want it to be tampered with. But a series of divinations, hyperspatial delvings and a minimacromicroscope were needed to glean the pass word to unlock the Gem and listen to its contents."
"What's a minimacromicroscope?" asked Saladin.
"Its a device I created to look at something very bigly, as if I were quite small," He glanced at Xeno, barely supressing a grin. "By projectinig the gem's surface into fourth-dimensional inverse-space and simultaneously retrojecting myself into obverse-space, I found..."
"You found what, exactly?" Xeno interrupted with gnomish contempt.
"I found the pass word engraved on the bottom of the stone!" Ben couldn't quite hide his glee.
"Give me that," Xeno swiped the gem fromk Ben and held it up to the light. "Hey! There IS a word here. And it's gnomish!"
"That's the second weirdest thing I discovered..."
"Efilnikufesin!" cried Xeno, and the Gem started to speak...
The sound of footsteps... a door opens.
"Ah, Ragnar. Do come in. Have we heard from Voletare?"
"Not yet, my Count. But I have arranged payment for the statues at the designated place. They will comply. They are writers, after all. They need the coin."
"Excellent. my Master will be pleased. He believes these statues could be very promising, very promising indeed."
"Could you refresh my memory as to whom your master is?"
"What a queer question, Ragnar. Are you feeling quite alright?"
"No, actually, I do not. This mission to the Outer Planes has me worried. I've never enjoyed travelling there. The people give me the creeps."
"Worry not, Ragnar. Lemuria is so caught up in herself she'll never notice one painting missing. The plan is airtight. Have you got the cube?"
"Yes, my Count."
"Good. Now get back to DCM before they notice you're gone. I don't want anything upsetting our plan. Rest assured, Master Eel will reward you most handsomely for your work."
"Are you sure he won't have me double-crossed? He's done it before..."
"Relax. Its not like I'm going to just have you shot once you hand over the painting. That would be just too trite... haha."
More footsteps, and a door opening and closing.
A few moments of silence follow, and then...
"....hehehe. Just don't ask TOO obvious a question. We need him to mention Chang, not to get suspicious."
"Just play it cool, Ragnar. Like you always do."
"You can count on me, Xoe... Oh, by Grunther's Beard, this thing's still on. Eccentrica!"