A Hard Day's Night
An Evening's Entertainment
Decembra 7, 887 Af.
With the bodies gone, the group gathered together to look over the results. Dobra was holding up better than expected, likely because of the faith of Carta. They looked at the body left behind, and couldn't tell much more than it was a Human man. A detachment of the Mist Watch came along, and Dobra called on them to take care of the disposition of the body. While they prepared the body to be taken away, Durdeg entered the building that was damaged in the fighting, and offered to pay for the repairs.
With as much done as they could, the group gathered and planned what to do next. Night had fallen, but they were concerned about further attacks. They immediately headed to the Market, where they knew from the butcher Matilda that there was a drain to the sewers below that may have been the entrance point for the fiends. They arrived and followed the stains from years or decades of blood washing from the butcher to the drain. It was large enough for any of them to fit through, and the cover moved readily, but there was no evidence of claw marks as they had heard.
They briefly debated entering the underground then and there, but after the fight with the Band and another with the hounds, they decided it would be best to recuperate for the night before doing anything else. Sharlot reminded them that she was planning to see Rasputin at the Moose and Squirrel, and they agreed it was time to return. Dobra looked relieved - Adalci's gift had made him braver, but it didn't last forever.
They returned to the inn as it was beginning to fill up with patrons. The heroes were grateful they had returned when they did, and tables were still available. They ordered at the bar, and took a table to wait for dinner. The bar maid, Molly, came along and told them she'd bring out the food shortly, but was interested in hearing their story if they had time. The heroes told her about the battle, and the guests at the nearby tables overheard.
As they related the story, a few people at nearby tables noticed that they had a Watchman with them. None of them seemed to know Dobra, but one of the women started to look at him wondering eyes. The heroes noticed, and started to play up his role in the story a bit more than it may have deserved, which caused both Dobra and the woman to blush. When they finished, they encouraged Dobra to go and talk with the woman. With enough encouragement, he finally agreed, and left to talk with her.
Molly had enjoyed the story immensely, thanking them for their time. The group asked her if she knew anything about the town in trade, and she obliged. She answered their questions about Elinda by telling them that she used to work on special projects with Ulf Nine-Fingers over at the Iron Works, and that the man was just not the same as he had been before she disappeared. With that, she had to tend to other tables. She brought back their food and briefly stopped, but soon moved on to other tables to share rumors with the other patrons.
The inn was filled to capacity, with a surprising number of young women on tables near the stage. The party heard the now familiar refrain, and turned to watch as Rasputin came through the door, dropping his cloak to the floor and quickly drying from the weather. As he played and moved to the stage, the familiar effects of lighting and wind in his hair performed their task of making the women swoon. Durdeg rolled his eyes at the display, and Sif and Sharlot saw through the simple cantrips.
When he finished his intro, he thanked the crowd, and sent his monkey, Vlado, around to the crowd. When it got to a table near the fire, it paused at an unusual pair. There was a dark skinned Goliath man, watching everywhere at once, and a Human man wearing rich clothes and a wide brimmed felt hat with a jaunty feather. The man in the hat smiled at the monkey, and the group recognized the platinum coin he deposited in the cup. The monkey continued on, but after a few more people it returned to its master and dropped off the contents of the cup. The party went silent as they heard the bard strike a chord and sing, "Mal..."
It had been months since they had seen Malcer, and here in this backwater town they found a bard singing the tale. That was strange enough, but the connection to the man in the hat made it stranger. While trying to piece together what was happening, the song came to the ending they knew, then continued on. It claimed that he had returned, or was going to return, or something, to lead a rebellion. The man in the hat smiled at the bard, and tipped the hat in response to the song, while the women on the front row sighed at the tale of star crossed love.
Vlado had resumed his quest for coins, and stopped at the party's table. It shook the cup at them, demanding more than they planned to give. When eventually they put in a total of 10 gold, the monkey screeched at them a bit, but moved on. Rasputin dove into another song, this time a ballad about the problems in the town. He looked the members of the group in the eye as he sang about the golden wire winder, cutter of the trees, and seer of the stones. The group listened, but were more interested in the reason for singing about Mal.
Eventually, Rasputin took a break, and the party took the opportunity to seek out answers. They approached the man in the hat, to see what he knew. The Goliath looked at them suspiciously, and gave the Human a warning glance. The man waved him off, calling him Dembe as he asked what he was worried about. He welcomed them to sit, and asked what had lead them to such an inn, on such a night.
They let on that they knew of Malcer, and the man asked what they knew. They played it close to the vest, but in the end it seemed that they gave more than they got. Any time they asked a question, or pressed on an issue, he redirected the conversation, telling stories of far off lands. When they mentioned that they had seen Malcer in Geton Towne, and asked where he knew of him from, he turned to the topic of lobstrosities and eventually went on a rambling tale of a town on the coast where one could hunt the much deadlier salt water variety.
While he may have been an entertaining story teller in his own right, he was not a very informative one. They left knowing little more than they knew before except a more precise location of Castow. They also attempted to speak with Rasputin, both about Mal and about their own interests. Rasputin was cagey, not giving much away other than refer them to the song and talk about an increase in thieving about the town. He thanked them for the donations, but had to return to work soon. The heroes watched as Dobra left the inn in the company of the young woman he had met, and they decided it was time for them to get some rest.
Sif and Sharlot both went straight to their rooms to study and commit some things to memory or paper. The others each decided to make one last outing - Carta and Durdeg to the shrine of Adalci, and Kasret to the baths. They all reached the shrine together, and Kasret continued on his way. Carta and Durdeg looked over the statue of Adalci's Eagle, and Carta said a quick thank you to the noble Akogi. The shrine had a plaque that said, in celestial, that a follower of Adalci can pray here and find help. While Durdeg watched respectfully, Carta spent a long time in prayer, getting in touch with the God's desires. Eventually, he felt that he could open the shrine by touching the plaque. It opened to reveal a cache of greater healing potions. Carta at first considerred leaving them for others, then decided that if his Deity opened the hidden compartment for him, he should take them to help them as they proceeded.
Carta was at peace, and ready to return to the inn. Durdeg decided to follow Kasret to the Bath House, although he was the better part of an hour behind. He arrived to hear of a death in the private baths, and asked a crying Human woman what had happened. She told him of the large, hairy being that came to the Baths that night, and how she had first thought him a demon.
When Kasret had arrived at the Bath House, he had approached the woman on duty at the door. She was clearly shocked by Kasret's appearance, but he remained calm and she was able to accept that the person was not a demon, and that their coin would spend as well as any. She offered him the full array of services, with a private bath and massage for a high but fair price. Kasret looked forward to a bit of luxury, and paid gladly. He left behind his weapons and armor in a locker near the entrance, and wore the provided robe to his private room. The steaming bath beckoned, and he quickly sank in to sooth his tired muscles. The heat and perfumed water did their job, and he was quite relaxed by the time the masseuse arrived.
She led him to a table, and began ease his aches. He was relaxing into the massage, when something began to feel off. Whether it was just natural paranoia, or whether she made some mistake, it was enough that he turned at just the right moment and caused the long spike she was thrusting towards his back to slide off across his shoulder. She sprang back as he rolled and came to his feet. The spike held high to ward him off, she backed toward the door.
She may have felt she could run with him disarmed and naked, but she did not expect that he had bargained for power that couldn't be taken away. He called upon the power of the Great Old One, the Jewel itself, to blast eldritch energy in her direction. She stumbled, and while she attempted to fend him off by throwing a heavy bottle of perfume, he came on relentlessly. Blast after blast, until she finally went down under his power. He sped past her, headed towards the entrance and his gear, not knowing if more were coming. He grabbed his belongings and pushed past the hostess at the door, and quickly made his way back to the inn.
The hostess finished the story, telling Durdeg that she found the body of the actual masseuse in the laundry, and the scorched body of the assassin in the hall. She shuddered at the memory and turned away. Durdeg made his way back to the inn as well, and the party all settled in for the night.
Assassin's in the Night
Decembra 8, 887 Af.
In the middle of the night, most of the group were awakened by noise coming from the inn below. Durdeg, Carta, and Sharlot were all staying together in a bunk room, while Sif and Kasret both had their own rooms on the opposite end of the building. Kasret was exhausted from the previous evening and did not wake up immediately, nor did Sharlot. Durdeg and Carta quickly woke her, while Sif got up and went to Kasret's door. They all had just awakened enough to hear muffled footsteps coming up the stairs and charging down the hallway to the shared room.
Carta charged the door, with Durdeg close at hand. Carta ran the first thug at the door through, while Durdeg tossed one of his inventions through the door to the middle of their ranks. It exploded into a mass of tough and sticky webs which covered the ranged fighters behind the people trying to knock down the door. Sharlot came forward and lent a bit of inspiration to the others, and prepared for what ever else may come. Sif and Kasret heard the commotion, and ran towards the other room as quickly as they could.
The two came around the corner to see the other three making quick work of the thugs. Kasret began firing off a string of bolts at the ones visible, while Sif held back most of her power to avoid damaging the inn. The attackers were dying quickly, but the heroes did not notice the second wave coming up from behind. Two skilled rogues and two more thugs made their way up behind Sif and Kasret, and struck hard and fast. The master thief, wearing dirty studded leather armor and wielding a rapier, struck from behind and cut deeply on Sif. His companion, a large brutish looking Human lashed out with his short sword at Kasret, scoring a minor wound. The two turned from their focus on the others, and quickly struck back at the new assailants. Fully armed again, Kasret quickly killed the brute, and Sif called down enough power to set the master thief running. She tried to track him with her magic, but it was unable to take. They gave chase, while the other three finished off the other assailants. Unfortunately, the attackers were able to make it out the door before they could be stopped, and Sif and Kasret let them go.
They surveyed the scene in the inn, and found the barkeep Fitch unconscious by the fireplace. They were able to wake him up, but they also found Molly, lying in a pool of blood by the bar. Her throat had been slit, and the blood was no longer being pushed from her veins. They looked at her body sadly, and saw how much it hurt Fitch, out of respect for him and exhaustion, they all returned to their rooms to salvage a night's rest.
The next morning the awakened recovered physically, although perhaps not emotionally, from the night before. They saw Fitch comforting Agatha, the owner of the Moose and Squirrel, over the loss of Molly. A kid came running in and yelled for Fitch. Fitch tried to quiet him, but the kid shouted something about the Band going in down at the market. The party thanked the kid and told him to go on his way, letting Fitch return to Agatha. Then they decided to see what was going on.
They made it to the market, on Raiment Row, to see the Band of the Crimson Mantle preparing to venture underneath the city. Sharlot immediately tried to warn them, bringing up the things that they had learned, but the dark priestess rebuffed her warnings. Sif called for Kal, who again told her to go home, but looked at her fondly as he was preparing to go underneath the city. With a last speech by the Daikini leader, the Band disappeared beneath the city streets, and the heroes looked to each other, wondering what they should do next.
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