Mists Over the Musarde

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Mists Over the Musarde Chapter 1 Part 6

C: Cirdan will haste towards where the cries come from.

As he arrives, he’ll quickly scan the situation, then run outside to where he hears the hoofbeats…

G: Cirdan cannot see the riders. From the fading clatter of hooves, already distant, he’d guess they’ve headed towards the riverfront district, or at least in that general direction[ east].

Standing outside the gate, Cirdan spots a small yellowish-brown leather case, no bigger than palm sized, lying on the ground.

‘’Euuuuuu….uuuuhhh…’’

Denys Sancerre has come to. He sits up on the lawn, rubbing his bruised pate.

N: Norzak will rush to the presumably dead girl, seeing as Cirdan is at Mr. Sancerre. It was pointless to go after the horses. They could in time find out where Evangeline was taken in vue of previous days activities. There’d be a ransom note soon enough with instructions.

G: Norzak discovers that Charlotte is still alive. She’s in a bad way, though. The girl had lost a lot of blood from a deep slash to her torso. Her skin is very pale, and her breathing is irregular and shallow. She doesn’t seem to recognize Norzak, and appears to be slipping in and out of consciousness.

N: “Potion or healing! Now!!!!!!!!” Norzak yells out “Or this lassieain’t fer long in this world!”

B: “Stand aside,” Bennedict shouts, grabbing the dwarf by the shoulder and pulling him back. “I’ll see to her.”

He drops to one knee next to Charlotte, eyes closed, and holds his hands over her wounds, mumbling an ancient prayer to the Morninglord, suffusing the girl with healing power.

C: The half-elf will pick up the leather case and throw it towards Bennedict.

“I’ll follow them! We’ll met here later!!!”

Is there a horse, regardless of his quality, somewhere in sight?

- Cirdan will just storm towards it, mount it and haste behind the kidnappers.
- Or into the general direction they went, hoping to catch them out of mere luck!

G: The prayer proves effective- the flow of blood from Charlotte’s wound stops, and her breathing returns to normal. Her eyes open and she looks about sleepily.

In a weak voice-

‘’They took miss Evie…’’

Looking about, Cirdan spots a man leading a roan draught horse down one of the side streets, just a short distance away. Storming towards the animal, his plate armour clanking and sparks flying from his armored boots striking the cobblestones, he quickly closes the gap. The man leading the horse jumps back in alarm as the knight vaults onto the animal’s back and rides away!

The leather case lies on the ground near Bennedict. It has popped open, spilling a part of its contents onto the lawn: illustrated cards of some kind.

C: Cirdan will race after the kidnappers, at all cost.

B: “Do not be concerned, Frau, I am certain Sir Cirdan will recover her. Rest now, and do not try to talk.” Bennedict tries to cradle the servant’s head before setting it down gently to the floor. I feel sorry for the poor bastards who took her if the half-elf does catch them. he thinks, as he turns to regard the bag. His eyes narrowing in suspicion, he reaches forward and dumps the contents out onto the ground.

N: Norzak looks at Charlotte, relieved she’s ok. Seeing as Cirdan ran after the fleeing men and he doesn’t have a chance to catch them, he waits for Benn to inspect the papers he’s dumped out. “So, Benn, what do ye make of them papers?” He asks as he moves closer to have a look with the huge man.

G: Out of the small case tumble a stack of painted cards. The backs of the cards are plain fileds of blue and the faces are variously illustrated with numbered sets of stars, daggers, banners, and crowns. The detail work is quite good, and the style seems vaguely exotic. A close look reveals notice finely inked miniscule arabesque traceries along the facing margins.

Charlotte smiles weakly at Benn, then drifts off to sleep.

Denys Sancerre hobbles over, rubbing his head.
‘’Where is Evangeline! I tried to stop them…sweet Ezra, did they take her, then?’’

G: Cirdan is riding hard in the direction he thinks the villains have gone, but hasn’t caught sight of them yet. He can hear the clatter of hooves down the street, maybe around the next turn…

Despite the lack of a saddle or stirrups , Cirdan is able to manage the horse well enough, getting the big animal to move down the street at a trot while he searches and listens for some sign of the kidnappers.

The neighborhood into which the knight has ridden is a quiet place of forlorn boulevards, desolate mansions, overgrown parks, and vine shrouded statuary. Here, there are no people to be seen, only birds nesting in abandoned houses, stray cats prowling in the alleyways, and a pack of dozen or so feral dogs feasting on the the remains of a sheep- now just bloody meat and tatters of white wool.

Horse and armored rider make plenty of noise, but even so, Cirdan ought to be able to hear the sound of his quarry riding along. He cannot hear them, though. Has he lost the trail of his unseen quarry? Was he even riding in the right direction from the beginning of his wild pursuit?

Looking about for some indication of human activity, the knight spots a humanoid shape- a furtive figure that darts into an alleyway across the street to his left. It’s not far away, perhaps fifty paces.

B: “It appears so, Herr Sancerre. Sir Cirdan is in pursuit as we speak.” He speaks in distracted tones, the majority of his thought process already bent to deciphering the meaning of this new addition to the puzzle. Benn reaches forward with an index finger, gently pushing aside the cards, fanning them out to allow for a better examination of the individual artwork. He was familiar with the Vistani cards, the Tarokka, and looks for any of the major identifiable cards, like the Darklord or Death. He assumes that, given their current situation, chances are good they will be close to hand to provide even more ominous portents to their already grim situation.

G: These cards aren’t Tarokka cards, Benn is pretty sure of that. None of the major identifiable characters are present.

Benn may have seen similiar cards somehwere before. Hard to place it though….

Some of the cards have numbers or letters painted on them, in addition to the images. Benn recognizes the script as Vaasi.

C: Cirdan will quietly draw his sword and ready his shield, then spur his horse towards the alleyway. If the persons there do anything even remotely suspsicious, he will simply ride them down.

G: The horse covers the intervening ground quickly, bringing Cirdan to the mouth of the alley.

Inside the alley, is a man clothed in ragged robes, perched atop a mound of rubble and refuse. He has a wild look about him, with a long scraggly beard, tangled hair, and intense blue eyes.

‘’Hello.’’

G: The man could easily hop onto the other side of the big mound and flee down the alley into the street on the far side, but he does not do so. He just sits and watches Cirdan.

C: Cirdan feels a bit perplexed, and lowers his sword a tiny bit.

“Hey, old man, have you seen a group of armoured riders carrying a young girl with them?”

G: ‘Yes, I have.’’
The old man cocks his head and smiles, revealing a beautiful smile with gleaming white teeth and no gaps.

The strange old man continues speaking -

‘’They weren’t all wearing armor, just two of the six. The girl had red hair. Those are the folks you’re looking for?’’

B: Of course, that would be too simple Benn thinks.

Being short on time, he scoops up the deck of cards and stuffs it back into the snatchel, grabbing it and turning towards Norzak.

“Are you hurt? I think we should follow Sir Cirdan, but I will tend to your wound if it will slow you down.”

G: Evangeline’s father issues orders to a trio of servants, who have since come out to investigate the ruckus in the backyard.

‘’…and be quick about it! Now, you two take her inside and let her rest. I think she’ll be fine, now. Don’t admit any strangers to the house or grounds, execpt the gendarmes, of course.’’

Denys walks over to join Benn and Norzak, while two of the servants carry Charlotte inside, and the third races off on his errand.

‘’ I’ve instructed the servants to summon a coach and four- it will be here very soon. We’ll make better time in a vehicle than plodding along on foot, and the driver ought to know the streets of the city even better than I do.
I’ve also sent a runner to the gendarmes,of course, but I don’t think waiting around for them is a good idea.’’

C: The strange old man seems to take a bit of Cirdan’s thundering rage off.
Rather bewildered, the half-elf will just ask: “Where did they go? – I must hurry, or they might harm the girl!”

G: ’’I’m sure I know where they have gone. It isn’t far away. Why don’t you follow me? ’’

The old man hops down on the other side of the mound. His head and shoulders are still visible, but the rest of his form is concealed by the pile. He turns back to face Sir Cirdan and says,

‘’Just this way….’’

Meanwhile, at the Sancerre house…..

While all three of you [Norzak, Benn, and Denys Sancerre] are conversing, the expected coach-and-four arrives. The driver, a portly fellow with a peaked hat and drab overcoat, remains seated while an attendant seated beside him climbs down and briskly walks over to your group. The young man executes a quick bow and says,

‘’We are at your service, Mesieur Sancerre. Where would you like to go?’’

Denys starts to speak, then turns to you both and asks,
‘’Where should we begin looking?’’

N: “I ain’t hurt bad, Benn. Let’s catch up ta the elf. Them varmints are cruisin’ fer a bruisin’.” Turning to Mr Sancerre he says “We’ll get lil missy back. Them gendarmes ain’t done much good but we seem to be doing their job!”

B: Bennedict gestures in the direction Sir Cirdan sped. “I believe that way is our best bet.” Without delay, the archivist hustles into the cab of the coach.

N: Norzak quickly follows.

G: Denys takes his seat, and the driver urges the team into a canter. The coach is soon rumbling along, headed east. Denys opens the curtains on the window nearest him. He mutters to himself as he stares out into the streets.

‘’Nothing….’’

C:
Cirdan grins coldly and dismounts from his horse.
The blade still raised and ready to strike, he nods to the strange old man.

“You lead the way.”

Should this proove to be a trap, he will make sure that the other one doesn’t leave with life.

N: Norzak concentrates and begins uttering arcane phrases and moving his fingers in intricate patterns. When done he focuses his attention on elves.

G: As Cirdan follows the old man down the alley , he hears a scraping, scampering sound behind him. Looking back, he spot a pack of feral dogs sniffing about the far end of the alley- possibly the same animals he’d seen earlier,devouring the dead sheep.

’’Don’t you worry about them. Friends of mine. They won’t bother you as you walk. Sure, they know when men mean to do killing, and are only looking for their share of the meat.’’

As the coach rolls down the street and enters a mostly abandoned part of town that lies to the east of the Sancerre house, Norzak begins to see streaky, faint glimmers of an elfin aura. It isn’t much, just fading gossamer traceries, hanging almost invisible in the air of the street

C: Cirdan won’t respond, just ride on.

Those dogs better stay away from my horse.

The stranger frightens the half-elf enough to sweat.
Should the old man make any suspsicious move, then Cirdan won’t hesitate to inflict the maximum damage possible.

G: in the empty quarter, with the strange old man and his friends, the feral hounds….

Cirdan’s guide comes to a stop beaneath the shadow of a broken aqueduct. He points across the street to a tall building with a crumbling marble facade. The place has the look of a public building, perhaps a library or a temple of some sort?

The old man faces Cirdan and smiles, his brilliantly white teeth looking oddly elongated[a trick of the shadowy illumination beneath the great arch? ]. He says,

‘’In there.’’

G: in the coach…

Denys asks Benn, sotto voce, so as not to disturb Norzak,

’’’Do you have any idea who could be behind this? ’’

N: Though Norzak appears to be concentrating he tells the others which way to go, to which they relay to the driver.

G: Denys relays Norzak’s directions to the driver. He comments,

‘’Norzak seems to know which way we should go. ’’

C: Cirdan will throw a coin to the elder stranger.

“Make sure my horse isn’t stolen, and I’ll give you nine more of these.”

The half-elf will dismount and walk straight to the door, sword drawn.
There, he will kick the door open, and storm into the house.

Subtleness apparently isn’t a warrior’s way…

B: Bennedict lowers his voice as well, recognizing the signs of magical concentration at work. “I have a suspicion, but little evidence to back it up.” He scowls at this. “We apprehended a fellow named Pierre Renault who, we confirmed, had paid three gentlemen to kidnap Evangeline, at least the initial attempt. On a normal day I would suspect him exclusively for the continued abduction efforts, still attempting to settle some score between the two of you. However this appears to be more sinister. For one thing, he’s dead now.” His expression becomes apologetic, since Denys knew Pierre. “Either because he was panicked or guilt driven, he threw himself out the window of the room in which we were questioning him. We knew there would be questions and, technically, we were guilty of kidnapping at that point so we elected to leave the matter. Then comes news that the man’s grave is empty.” He shakes his head ominously. “This compounded with the discovery that your recently recovered artifacts contain some manner of occult and diabolic significance is very unsettling. I fear that the threat against your daughter is much greater than we could have imagined.”

G: The door must be dry-rotted, because it gives way very easily, exploding inward as Cirdan’s armoured boot smashes into it. A quick step carries the knight into the first room, a large antechember.

He sees a man standing just a little to the left of the door and another in front of him, both about three paces away. Both men are looking directly at him, and don’t seem the least bit surprsed by his violent entry. The man to the front is holding a matchlock arquebus leveled at Cirdan’s chest! The big fellow to the left grips a spiked flail in both hands and is winding up to take a swing at Cirdan’s face!

Before Cirdan can react, the handgunner squeezes the trigger and his arqubeus belches forth smoke and fire. Cirdan feels the lead ball smash into his his breastplate towards the left side, hitting him so hard he spins halfway round.

The thug with the flail swings the ball and chain at Cirdan, just barely missing the knight’s head and taking out a big chunk of the marble doorframe, instead.

G: ‘’ Oh! I knew Pierre was dirty, but this is terrible! Damn him.
This talk of a greater threat is most disturbing. I had assumed these were the ordinary sort of rogues, kidnappers for ransom. In such cases, it is customary that the victim is returned unharmed so long as the ransom is paid in full. Of course, trusting such scum is a risky proposition, regardless.’’

Denys pauses for a moment, deep in thought.
‘’You really think that mirror and the other things from the old house might have something to do with this? Are they cursed? Maybe I should get rid of them?’’

In the coach…

The coach travels the silent streets, not meeting any traffic on the way.
Looking out the window, Norzak can see the silken strands of essence growing thicker- meaning that they must be getting closer to Cirdan’s present location. The trail turns sharply and leads down an alley, a space too small for the coach to pass.

Norzak feels his spell falter as the limits of his power to maintain the effect are reached. The trace of Cirdan’s passage through the alley vanishes from his view!

N: “Down there but spell’s done” he points down the alley. Then casts again.

G: Seconds after chanting the words, the traceries of light reappear in Norzak’s field of vision. It’s definitely thicker and more vibrant here- you may be only a few minutes behind the knight!

The alley is wide enough for a horse to enter, but not the coach. Its middle section is choked with debris, although it wouldn’t be hard to climb over the mound.

Upon hearing Norzak’s words, Denys calls for the driver to halt the coach and then bring it closer to the alley. The driver does so.

B: “I do not mean to alarm you overly, sir, as I have merely consulted a single text and have not correlated my discoveries elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is strongly suggestive evidence that these devices have some some relation to a powerful demon, or in any case to a cult that worships him.” Bennedict looks alarmed to hear Denys’s declaration to throw the items away, “Er, I should think that that is a bit premature, Herr Sancerre. I have reason to believe investigating their origin further may have some bearing on the efforts to protect your daughter, and my furthermore lead to a discovery regarding a possible origin for this city.”

He hears Norzak’s declaration and waits for the carriage to come to a stop. “In any case, Herr Sancerre, this discussion can be held during less dire times. It appears we have caught up to the action. We will go forth and investigate further.”

With that he readies his crossbow and prepares to continue the pursuit down the alley.

G: Denys nods in response to Benn’s summation of the situation at hand. He leaves the coach and joins Benn outside.

N: Norzak leads the two men ino the alley. He concentrates on the elvish heritage of Cirdan. He unsheathes his crossbow.

C: Badly hurt, and pushed out of balance, Cirdan will do what a knight has to do in the face of the enemy: Not think about retreat or surrender. No step back. Only one step forward, the sword risen. Into battle.

G: Cirdan raises his sword and chops at the man with the flail. The big man is swinging his flail back to take another shot at Cirdan, so the ball and chain aren’t in the way of the sword blow. Cirdan’s longsword arcs downward and shears through the man’s unprotected face, laying it open from crown to chin. Blood pours forth from the hideous wound, and the injured man collapses to the floor, shrieking loud enough to wake the dead.

The arquebusier throws his unloaded weapon at Cirdan [ easily deflected by Cirdan’s interposing shield] and turns for the door, scrambling to get it open and escape the knight’s furious counterattack!

The trail winds through the alley and down more empty streets. Once, as you are walking, you hear a muffled boom from somewhere up ahead. As the spell fades again, you find it has lead you to the vicinity of a dry aqueduct. Beneath the decrepit arches stands a horse [which you may recognize as the animal Cirdan nabbed, if you were paying attention when he left the Sancerre estate]. Nearby, a pack of a dozen or so feral hounds lounges in the shade. An old ragged man squats atop a fallen marble block, between the dogs and the horse. His back is turned to you.

Norzak, Benn…..

You all hear an anguished scream coming from inside a collonaded building across the way. The dogs immediately begin barking and moving about exitedly.

The old man raises his voice to admonish the pack-

‘’Patience, let the butcher cut your meat, lads.’’

N: Norzak totally ignores the dogs and the man, after the man speaks. He runs past them and yells out ""Ay, Cirdan, ya there laddie? Sounds like ye got some trouble on ye hand, man." He loads his bow and readies to shoot in case he needs to.

C:
Cirdan cuts him down.

If possible, the answer will be the second attacker’s severed head flying out of the door…

G: And so it is…..

Something round and red flies out of the door and spins through the air towards Norzak. The dwarf fires and his bolt catches the object dead on. It rolls to his feet. Looking down, Norzak sees that it is a man’s severed head!

N: “Oi Cirdan!” Norzak yells as he passes thorugh the door. “Save some fer uis tha next time, man!” Norzak surveys the scene and nods in appreciation at Cirdan. “Nice work, elf. I like yer work!”

C: As an answer, Cirdan spits blood against the wall and gives a bloody grin.

“Thank you, my friend. Let’s go save the damsel in distress. You now, in Darkon, we have that old saying:
Save the lady, save the world. Can you heal my wounds, so we can” the half-elf cleans his throat, then gives another, feverish grin
“go and kick some asses?”

N: “I can’t. But perhaps Benn can, or at least I hope he can. Lemme have a look.” Norzak approaches Cirdan and is actually gentle as he looks at the dent on the half’elf’s mail. “That looks kinna nasty ta me, bub. ‘N’ spitting blood ain’t a good sign.”

B: Bennedict steps through the door, surveying the grizzly scene. His lip curls in disgust, and he pulls a handkerchief from a pocket, holding it over his nose.

He eyes Cirdan’s wounds with a critical eye, stepping forward to administer some healing to the gunshot. “You are lucky to be alive.”

Muttering the invocation to the Dawnbringer, he channels healing power into the elf.

C: Cirdan seems strangely moved by the arrival of his comrades.
As the magic energies flow over his body, he cleans his throat again.

“Sir Bennedict, Sir Norzak… If we all die today, you shall know that it is an honour for me to fight at your side.
I might not have shown it the proper way, but I can clearly see that you are good men and I admire your courage.”

B: Bennedict harrumphs, Lamordians not being generally disposed towards shows of affection. “Yes well, ahem, likewise.” He looks back to the wound, which seems to have closed up and reduced to bruises. “Well, that’s going to sting, but you’ll be alright.” He gives the elf a clap on the shoulder. “Back to the pursuit, then?”

G: A quick search of the building yields little. This place is old, dusty, and in ill repair. Some statuary remains, along with a few faded frescoes depicting robed figures with the faces of various beasts and vermin- dogs, rats, flies, cats, etc. One might gather the impression it is either a museum or else a temple of some kind. In any case, it doesn’t appear to be occupied by the living.

The back door [ beyond the headless corpse of the arquebusier and down the length of the hallway] stands open, swinging gently back and forth in the breeze. It is very bright and sunny out. A large and long shadow moves about on the ground just outside the door, but whatever is casting it doesn’t move into the doorframe to be seen.

N: Norzak says to Cirdan. “I ain’t no Sir, elf. I’m a dwarf ‘n’ just doing what’s right in my eye. I’m thinking that yes we should……” Norzak stops speaking. What was that he heard? He moves towards the back on the building, not far from the others and whispers “Hey keep it down, I heard something near the back of the building. I think maybe we should have a look. It sounded big.”

C: “Hell, yeah!” Cirdan will then assume a defensive position, and slowly, so the heavy armour doesn’t hinder him, move forward to the door and look outside…

G: Outside the door is a small brick courtyard, half overgrown with weeds that have pushed up between the bricks and surrounded on all four sides by a ten foot stone wall. To the right , the wall is pierced by an open gateway that provides egress to the street. To the left, from whence comes the shadow and the noise…

A chestnut horse sticks its muzzle towards Sir Cirdan and whinnies. The animal seems a little agitated, but not hostile. Another horse stands on the far side of the chestnut, a dun colored mare. Both horses are saddled and bridled, and both are tied to a scrawny apple tree that grows hard by the wall. No human being is in view.

B: Bennedict raises his crossbow, creeping behind Cirdan and Norzak towards the door. At the sudden and unexpected appearance of the horse, he jumps and fires his crossbow, jerking it away at the last second so that the bolt impacts with the door frame.

“Ah, eheh, sorry about that. I’m a little jumpy.”

With recognition that no enemies are lurking in the shadows outside, Benn mops his brow with the handkerchief and takes a moment to examine the building more closely. Perhaps it’s nothing, but the recent revelations regarding the Incabulos activity in the city makes any room containing vermin seem somewhat suspicious.

G: Benn’s closer exmination of the building brings him across a few items of note: a pit or shaft in the middle of a small room to the left of the main hall, and a storeroom to the right that contains five wooden chests. Other than that, the place is empty of everything but broken stones, dust, and spiderwebs.

Shining a light into the dark pit will reveal that it is twenty or twenty five feet deep, with a rusted iron ladder running down one side. At the bottom is an iron lattice. Beneath that is an open space, possibly a horizontal tunnel of some kind, though It’s hard to see clealry from the top. Patches of light reflect dimly upwards, and a gentle sound of flowing water can be heard from below. A faint odor hangs in the air over the opening, somewhat like the smell of meat that’s been spiced to cover its rancidness.

In the little storeoom to the right sit the five chests. All five are locked and latched. They all appear to have suffered some degree of dry rot.

B: Bennedict groans as he looks down into the pit.

“Perfect,” he says to no one in particular, “Just perfect.”

He turns to the others. “I have a bad feeling the assailants may have fled down here.”

N: “That’s okay, Benn. Ye wanna descend ’n we go after them? Maybe we kin lookit these here chests first. Might be something useful in them we kin use, I say. And is the elf okay to continue on with us?” Norzak asks as he approaches the chests.

C:
Cirdan will smile to the horses – maybe the nutbrown one reminds him of a stallion he rode in his younger days back home -, but then quickly turn to the pit.

“So, to the sewers, my comrades? – Norzak and I can see in the dark, what about you, Ben?”

B: “Not so much,” Benn says, doubtfully. “I should be able to create a magical light, in any case.”

N:
Norzak approaches the five chests. He casts a spell upon himself and thus feels more dextrous. He nimbly unlocks each chest and deftly plays with each hinge, thus opening each chest.

G: The chests contain grotesque masks of brass, tin, and tarnished silver, some decorated with cut glass of a deep green color. They are made to resemble the heads of rats, mice, flies, and other vermin.
Also in the chests are the ragged remains of deep burgundy robes, a set of a dozen iron daggers of curious design, and a small bronze medallion on a golden chain.

N: Norzak doesn’t touch anything. Looking over his shoulder to the others he asks “Any you fellers know what these things are?”

G: The medallion is of greenish metal, and fashioned to resemble a grotesque eye.

B: “Don’t touch that!” Bennedict shouts, catching a glimpse of the amulet. He rushes forward, looking on with deep concern at the objects contained therein.

“Mein gott, it’s worse than I thought.” He stares down at the amulet of the eye, fear clearly apparent on his features. “The Incabulos cult is active in the city.”

He scrawls backwards in his mind, looking for the words to the Ezran incantation to reveal if any of the objects are magical. Bennedict tries not to let his voice shake as he casts it.

“None of this is magical,” the archivist states simply, reaching in and picking up the amulet, holding it up to the light. “I assume you recognize this, Cirdan?”

C: Cirdan spits. “Sure.”

Assuming it is safe, Cirdan will take up the items in the chest.

“A conspiracy is going on here. Those thugs were paid by someone with power. No wonder the other one jumped into his death.”

B:
“Particularly if he knew the cultists would come for him and bring him back to some form of life.”

G: As the party stands in the dimly lit room, discussing the possibility of cult activity, and what to do next….

You all hear footsteps and voices coming from the direction of the back door, down the hallway! It sounds as if two or more men are headed in your direction, but of course the wall prevents you from seeing them- or them seeing you. They sound as if they are getting closer to the doorway of the little room with the chests, though.

‘’ Jacques and Henri must have finished of that damned elfling by now. I see they left their horses tied up. They probably already went down.’’

‘’You think they left any loot for us?’’

‘’Probably not, but it wouldn’t hurt to check.’’

C: “YOU MISERABLE PIECES OF SCUM!”

Cirdan face is hot red.

“I will cut you into two, you scoundrels!”

His sword high over his head, he storms out of the room.

G: As Cirdan comes running out into the hall , he spots two men in mail shirts, just a few paces from him. The one on the left carried a poignard and his companion to the right carries a hatchet.

The hatchet-man raises his hatchet over his head and rushes to attack Cirdan. The man with teh poignard slides along the edge of the wall to the left, trying to position himslef for a flanking attack against the knight.

Cirdan’s sword whistles downward, striking the hatchet-man alongside his head, taking his left ear off and smashing into his mailclad shoulder. The blade turns against the armor, rather than cutting clean through, but the blow is hard enough it to drive broken links of mail into the man’s shoulder and push him to his knees.

The hatchet-man swings his axe into Cirdan’s armored leg. It impacts just above the back of the knight’s right knee- a vulnerable spot in the armor. The blow has little immediate effect, other than being painful.

While the knight is tangling with the hatcheteer, the man with the poignard darts in to stab at Cirdan’s face, but hits the knight’s gorget instead, doing no damage whatsoever.

N: Norzak sighs. Looking up from the chests he hears the two men approaching. Not more a these ruffians….. Aye I though we’d had our share of them. Zounds! I’ll try ta get in a nice quick shot on one of them fellers. As his crossbow is already cocked he moves as silent as possible and tries to get a bead on one of the two men.

G: The loosed bolt grazes the side of the man with the poignard, wounding him slightly.

C: With his shield, Cirdan will try to drive the hatchet man towards a corner of the room, and there pierce through him with his sword…

“Cover my back, friends!”

N: Norzak drops his crossbow to the ground. He unsheathes his short sword and rushes the other man.

G: Both men throw down their weapons and raise their hands over their heads. The hatchet-man cries out:

‘’We give up! Don’t hurt us!’’

N: NOrzak approaches them both with an evil glint in his eye. “Ya best be talkin now! Or I cut yer fingers off one by one, ya mongrels! Tell us who ya work for now! OR else!”

C: Cirdan will collect the weapons from the men, then step back and start cleaning his sword, all the while patiently watching.

B: Bennedict sighs and rolls his eyes as the elf charges out the door, thankful that he discovered the healing discipline that allows some level of restoration all throughout the day. That elf is going to get me killed.

He hefts his crossbow and heads for the alley, but is surprised to discover that the enemies have already surrendered.

“Feel free to speak up,” Bennedict adds after Norzak’s threats. “He means what he says about the fingers. Seriously. I’m not joking.”

G: The two men press their backs against the wall and keep their hands in plain view.

The taller of the two is an ill-favored man with greasy brown hair, tied behind his head in a knot. [He’s the one who attacked Cirdan with the hatchet]. He speaks up, his voice a little shakey:

‘’We work for Claude Malreux. He’s the Boss! Euh…..You must be looking for the girl, yes? We don’t have her. The others took her down the hole, to bring her to the Boss. We are just here to clean up, and take the last couple of horses back to the stables. We won’t give you no trouble. Just let us leave and we won’t tell nobody we saw you fellows. Is that good?’’

The shorter man is shaking pretty badly. He tries to speak, but doesn’t manage anything intelligible beyond: ‘’No trouble….’’ A spreading wetness appears on the front of his trousers. It isn’t dark enough to be blood.

B: Bennedict turns up his nose in disgust at the man who is wetting himself, turning his head to regard the other man.

“What do they want with her?”

G: The tall man replies:

‘’For a ransom, why else? We snatch the girl and her father pays us gold for her safe return. From what I heard, it was Pierre Renault’s idea, to begin with. Somebody threw him out of a tower window and broke his neck, so he won’t be getting none of the ransom money now. ’’

The man frowns, then goes on to say,

‘’It was the Doctor who told the Boss about Renault’s plan, now that I think of it. ’’

G: Denys Sancerre enters the building, steps over the mangled corpses in the antechmber, and joins the party in the hallway.

‘’That old man is creepy! Ah! Who are these two? Kidnapping scum?!’’

Denys draws a dagger and brandishes at the two men.

‘’Where is my little girl, you villains?’’

N: Norzak rolls his eyes when the man wets himself. “Ya manly enough ta kidnap an innocent girl, are ya? Ye disgust me. I got more respect fer dirt then you, ya varmint!” Norzak spits on the ground and looks back when Sancerre enters. Looking to the men once again, he approaches the two men, now in very close proximity. His short sword is still in his hand, but at his side. He speaks in a very calm voice to the two men, but his eyes tell different. They say I’ll slit yer throat cause I can. “Now listen up here, scum. THat’s the girl’s father. Ye help us or ye die, understood? He’ll do anythin’ fer his girl, not counting the fact ye mutts nearly killed her servant, ya bastards. Me sword arm is mighty itchy. And me friend is right, I will cut yer fingers one by one.”

B: Bennedict’s eyes narrow in suspicion.

“What doctor?”

He cocks a glance towards Denys. “We have the situation under control, Herr Sancerre. You may wish to leave these brutes for us to deal with.” He looks back to the men with meaning. “I wouldn’t want you implicated if this becomes…unpleasant.”

C: Cirdan listens. Calmly. Like a wolf would watch two sheeps.

G: Denys nods and leaves the building.

The taller of the two captives begins to answer Benn’s question about the doctor-
‘’We call him the Doctor. He’s a foriegner, some kind of Southron. The Boss hired him to…’’

Norzak’s blade flicks out, lightning fast, and takes off the little finger on the left hand of the pants-wetter[ who stands just a few feet from the man Benn is questioning]! The man stares in horror at his bleeding hand, screams, and turns to flee towards the well room.

B: Bennedict is listening intently as the man speaks, but turns in shock as the dwarf lashes out. “What the hell is wrong with you, dwarf?” He shouts. As the man runs toward the well room he looks at Cirdan “Go get that one, and take the dwarf with you.”

He turns back to the tall man and raises his crossbow, leveling it at his chest. “Keep talking.”

C: Cirdan will eye Norzak with disgust, but stay calm and motionless.

N: Norzak will curse and mumble “Stay still ye dagnabbitted scum!” Taint ne’er gonna get us some answers if ye run off like that ya jackaninny!" Totally oblivious to the others exasperations, he follows Cirdan after fingerless joe.

C: Cirdan won’t go after the fleeing man. He doesn’t accept Norzak’s method at all, the knight that he is.
The only thing that he will do is grant the fleeing man a quick and possibly merciful death, if that is possible.

G: The man with the missing finger is fast! He makes it to the rim of the pit in the other room, and skids to a halt there. He turns, facing Norzak and shouts,

’’Don’t you come any closer, you madman!’’

B: The tall man blinks, swallows a gulp of air, and continues speaking,
‘’Euh…euh…the Doctor! Yes! He’s a strange man. All skin and bones, and looks as if the sun’s a stranger to him. He hangs around boneyards, rubbing papers against old gravestones. Dunno why he does that. He stitches folks up when they get cut , and mixes medicines in his workshop. His place is down near the river, near the Court of Crows- you know, where the Great Gallows stand. ’’

C: Cirdan will make a step forward to the man with the nine fingers.

“Sit down, or the finger won’t be the only body part you loose today, human.
- I haven’t yet decided if you’re worth killing. Don’t push me.”

He says his calmly, but the look in his eyes woould make newborn kitten cry.

G: Standing near the rim of the pit, the nine-fingered man cries out:

‘’No, don’t hurt me! Stay Away!’’

He takes a step backward- and falls into the gaping pit behind him! There is an awful crash as he smashes through the iron grill, followed by a loud splash as he hits the water at the bottom of the tunnel below.

If anyone looks over the edge, he’ll see the man lying twenty-odd feet down, half submerged in the stream of filthy water at the bottom of the tunnel that runs beneath the shaft. He is face down and motionless.

B: Bennedict winces at the sound of the man falling down into the sewer. Saw that one coming.

“Do you know where they’re taking the girl? You would do well to lead us to her.”

G: The tall man answers –
‘’They are taking her to Monsieur Malreux. There’s a tunnel route to one of his warehouses. That’s the way they are going, down through the drains. I can show you, if you promise to let me go before you go up into the building. I want to be far away when the trouble starts!’’

He slowly pulls a hankerchief from his pocket and presses it against the left side of his head to staunch the flow of blood from the spot where his ear used to be.

‘’I feel awfully weak, though..maybe I should just tell you how to get there, and you can let me go to a leech, eh?’’

N: “Saves me the trouble a slittin’ his throat, or worse!” Norzak mumbles then guffaws as if laughing at some private joke. “Bah, another one fell to ‘is death. Them criminals like te jump outta me way. Takes all the fun away from hurtin’ ’em even more.” Looking at Cirdan he says “Ya think I kin find the finger? Might keep it as a souvenir!” At this Norzak explodes in laughter, and Cirdan can’t tell if Norzak is joking or serious as he walks past the elf, back to Benn,Sancerre and the culprit. Norzak sheathes his blade.

C: Cirdan’s thoughts over the new dead can only be guessed.
With his ice-cold elven eyes, he turns to the remaining thug.

“You lead us, and you live.”

G: ‘’Yes. I’ll take you there, just keep that dwarf away from me!’’

The surviving man climbs down into the pit using the ladder built into the stonework, moving slowly and cautiously. He waits for you all at the bottom of the tunnel, next to the spot where his comrade lies dead atop the wreckage of the iron grill, face down and partially submerged . The tunnel is dark [you’ll need a light source], built of cut stone, roughly cylindrical, seven feet in diameter and filled up with water about two feet deep in the middle. The passageway is ever so slightly inclined , so that the dirty water flows down in one direction, albeit gently.

B: Bennedict casts a light spell onto his crossbow, causing the tip to glow brightly with illumination. He then rubs the bridge of his nose, before turning a withering glance to Norzak.

“We need this man alive, Herr Dwarf, and we need him cooperative. I know it is a struggle for you, but if you could please keep your knife safely contained within its sheath, we may be able to save the girl. For our employers’ sake, please, I beg of you, show restraint.”

He gestures towards the ladder.

“After you, Herr Cirdan.”

N: Norzak shrugs. “Me blade is sheated, Benn. Well once we get info outta him, he won’t be any more use, now will he?” Norzak says a little too eagerly. He follows the others down the shaft. He takes a big whiff. “Oi!!! Smells like a clan ‘o’ dwarves all gathered together for a reunion down in a small room down here”Norzak states matter-of-factly.

C: Cirdan will tie a rope around the surviving man’s neck.

“So I can be sure that I’ll get a hold on you if this should be a trap. I’d accept your word of honor, but I think we both know that it isn’t worth that much.”

And to the others: “Sir Norzak, would you lead the way? – And, Sir Ben, the dwarf and I can see in the dark. Can you make your magic do that for you, or will you need an artifical lighting?”

B: Bennedict points his now illuminated crossbow at Rafael.

“Taken care of,” he says, "After you, gentlemen.

N: Once he reaches the bottom, he looks around. He kicks the dead man once for goos measure and spits on him, then looks him over quickly while the otehrs descend the rope. Norzak merely nods and unsheathing a dagger, moves forward. He will listen and do spot checks as he plods along. Every few feet he wil stop and try to discern if there are any tracks.

G: The party moves down the sewer tunnel….

Norzak, moving a short distance forward of the main body, spots a tangle of broken furniture and other garbage which partially dams the stream ahead. Water flows through gaps in the mess , or over its irregular top. Crossing it shouldn’t prove any great obstacle, as it is little more than two feet high.

As he draws closer, Norzak spots a bit of something red waggling in the stream on the far side of the low pile of trash. It proves to be a lock of hair, snagged on a splintered wooden board that rests just below the waterline.

View
Mists Over the Musarde Chapter 1 Part 5

[at the little cafe near the river]

The two gendarmes don’t seem to be paying attention to anything but their plates, once Odall brings them their meal. They don’t even talk with each other much, but concentrate on eating and drinking.

N: Norzak looks pointedly at Cirdan but says nothing. He concentrates on his plate and tries to be as inconspicuous as possible.

G: The two gendarmes finsh their meal and rise to their feat. They toss a few coins on the counter , thank odall, and turn to leave. The cleanshaven one of the pair- his friend called him Jean- casts a glance over in your direction. His gaze passes briefly over Evangeline, then shifts to Charlotte and settles there a moment. He smiles, she turns her head to the wall and ignores him. He shrugs and hurriedly walks on, lengthening his stride to catch his compatriot,-who’s already exiting the cafe.

Once the two have left. Evangeline looks over to Norzak and says,

‘’I hope you are enjoying your meal, Norzak. You are so quiet!’’

N: Norzak looks up from his plate and says to Evangeline with a staright face “T’aint no reason ta be alarmed missy. I love food” he pats his stomach area “and take eating very seriously. That ‘n’ drinkin’ is mostly me main loves. So when I’s eatin’ I rarely speak but rather concentrate on me plate and keep quiet. Also me Pa liked a quiet table, so when we did eat it was in silence.”

B: Bennedict blinks in surprise at the last passage of the book. “Well, he certainly sounds charming.” He turns and jots some notes in a blank page of his notebook, specifically circling the words “North Country” and drawing a line connecting the circle and the word “Portal” written at the top of the page. He taps the feather pen thoughtfully against his lips for a moment, before adding a large question mark next to the connecting line. He then turns back to the book and continues scanning the pages. No mention of rat men, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to find one. Rats and pestilence are connected, after all. What better worshipers could Incabulos hope for?

G: [back at the Marbble Faun, Benn continues to read the book…]

Johannes then spends a few pages telling of the natural features , animals, plants, etc of the North Country. He mentions a few fantastical beasts of legend , such as manticores and unicorns, although he admits he never actually saw such creatures himself, but is only relaying the accounts of the locals.

Benn finds a couple of references to rats :

‘’ These north-folk hold rats to be agents of Incabulos. Anyone who kills a rat must make penance to the god by a petty sacrifice. Of course, it is often necessary to kill rats, so the petty sacrifices have added up over time , combined with other offerings, to greatly enrich the clergy dedicated to the demon-god. ’’

‘’ It is told that Incabulos has blessed certain rats with cunning and powers beyond the natural estate. These rats are subject to the influence of the moon, so that a full moon is a time of power for them. These rat-things render homage to Incabulos with baleful rites performed in lonely places beneath the full moon. ’’


‘’Oh,yes. I see.’’

Daintily, Evangeline finishes her meal. She remarks to Charlotte-

‘’I think you are getting a bit sunburnt. Here, wear my sunhat for a while.’’

‘’Oh, how kind, thank you Miss Evie.’’

After you are all finshed eating and have paid out, the girls suggest you go down to make one last sweep of the marketplace before heading homewards.

……

A short walk takes you down to the boardwalk along the river. The shops and stalls here sell all sorts of things, from glass lamps to fresh fish.

Evangline stops at a flower-seller’s tiny stall on the and picks out some blooms, while Charlotte walks a short distance away to look at silver jewelry being sold by some gypsies.

’’Aren’t these violets simply wonderful?’’

From your left, down the street, you hear Charlotte’s voice-

‘’Help me…mnppph!!’’
[Anyone who looks in time will see this:]
Charlotte is being dragged off the boardwalk and into a small boat by two burly men! She is kicking and struggling, but cannot break free. One of the men has covered her face with a scarf, so that her shouts are muffled. Both men have bandanas tied over their lower faces and slouch hats pulled down snugly on their heads. This is all happening about forty feet away.

N: Norzak bolts into action. Looking back over his shoulder he yells at Evangeline “Call tha gendarmes missy, yer pal’s bin taken by two men in a boat up ahead!” Reaching to his sweaty forehead, he dabs his palm as he runs. Now his fingers wiggle and he utters a few arcane phrases. Black energy begins to churn around his finger and as soon as he is in line of sight to the first thug he can see, the black energy flies from his finger. It hits the man squarely in the chest.

G: Evangeline begins shouting and waving her arms over her head, calling loudly for the gendarmes.

The thug hit by Norzak’s ray slumps a bit, and Charlotte is able to get an arm free. She pulls the scarf from her face and screams. The man still has a grip on her other arm, and his companion has her legs off the ground, now.

C: Cirdan draws his sword and dagger.

“Evangeline, find a safe place and lock you in. I am sure these thugs are after you as well.”

With that, the half-elf draws his sword and goes after the dwarf. (Which shouldn’t be that difficult.

Whatever comes in his way, he will kill.

G: The first thug looks at Charlotte’s face and says-

‘’This isn’t the right one! Oh no, them!’’

He points at the two of you [Cirdan and Norzak], waving his extended arm urgently.

The second thug shoots a panicked glance in your direction and lets go of the girl, dashing for the boat.

His friend is right behind him- but not fast enough to get away from Sir Cirdan, whose fleet feet have carried him within sword’s reach.

N: Norzak reaches to his belt and removes a wand. Uttering a word, a fiery missile flies from it, hitting the thug sqaure in the chest!

G: The would-be kidnapper stumbles as the balefire bolt from Norzak’s wand strikes him. He regains his balance and prepares to leap for the boat- when Sir Cirdan catches him and delivers a vicious sword blow. The man screams in pain, but doesn’t stop moving. He leaps into the water, which quickly turns red around him. He’s trying to swim away, but isn’t making good progress- possibly slowed by his injuries, or perhaps he’s just a poor swimmer.

His erstwhile companion has made it into the rowboat , cut the rope mooring the little vessel, and pushed off into the current. He’s still not far away, perhaps ten feet of water between his craft and the riverbank.

Charlotte is kneeling on the boardwalk, out of breath from fighting and screaming, her face red and her hair in disarry. She doesn’t appear to be injured, but is quite obviously shaken by her experience.

A small crowd of bystanders has gathered, keeping a fair distance from the scene of the fight. Over the din of excited conversation, one can clearly hear the shout:

‘’The gendarmes are coming!’’

[back at the Marble Faun, Benn continues to read the book…]

In the next chapter, Benn comes across this little tale:

‘’ The local people have told me a colorful story connected with the cult of Incabulos. The account has been handed down from the time of their great-grandfathers. For my part, I doubt it’s veracity. Many peasants of many nations tell such fireside tales to frighten children and amuse their elders.
In a duchy of long ago days, there lived a lady named Wolutha, daughter of the duke. When she was still young, a wasting plague swept the duchy and killed many. The young girl is said to have been especially horrified by the frightening aspect of the corpses left behind by this pestilence.
Wolutha grew to be a fine lady, fair of face and pleasing of figure. Knights contended for her favor, at court and at tourney. She spurned them all, though, seeking out and eventually marrying an older man, Hollfram the Bent. He is said to have been a scholar of black magic who had earned the enmity of the priesthood of Incabulos, on account of having stolen from them certain secrets or treasures.
Not long after the marriage, the old duke fell sick with a wasting disease, and Hollfram and Wolutha took up a co-rulership over the duchy.
She ruled as co-regent alongside Hollfram for a short time, before her father succumbed to old age and illness, despite the best efforts of the healers. Wolutha is said to have spent much time trying unsucessfully to cure her father, and was filled with grief when she failed to save him.
Claiming that Incabulite cultists were to blame for her father’s illness and death, Wolutha launched a witch hunt that killed dozens of prominent citziens. Their holdings were confiscated by the duchess, of course. Hollfram himself fell victim to his wife’s inquisition. He was seized by the duchess’ men and beheaded withoiut trial, protesting his innocence right up to the headman’s block.
The story grows murkier here, but the Kargites told me harrowing tales of Wolutha’s reign: children disappearing near the castle, only to be found later in the forest-horribly aged and covered in running sores, vermin swarming through the fields and eating livestock left unprotected, and midnight demon-summonings in the courtyard of the keep. The people were oppressed, but afraid to flee in numbers or to rise in rebellion. By day, Wolutha’s brutal gaurdsmen watched all the roads leading into and out of the duchy. The woods and hills around the settlements had become dangerous to travel, stalked by montrous beasts loyal to the witch-tyrant. Most especially, the folk feared the black winged shapes that swirled from her keep after sundown and carried off people foolish enough to walk the fields and raods at night.

A travelling knight and his retinue heard of Wolutha’s wicked rule and came into the country, boasting they would overthrow the evil duchess and restore the people to freedom. The people prayed to all the gods of light that the knight would prove victorious. He and his companions entered the keep, but only the knight ever emerged. He had been enscorcelled by Wolutha, and gone from being her direst foe to her most faithful vassal. He took over leadership of her army and began to tighten his mistress’ deathgrip on the country.
Their hopes for liberation destroyed with the knight’s conversion, a number of people sought to flee the country. A mass flight began, with peasants and townsmen braving the dangers of the borderlands in their scramble for freedom. Many perished, but many others did manage to escape.
The fate of those who remained is a mystery. The few brave souls who returned to attempt a rescue of those they’d left beind found nothing but empty fields and misty bogs where once the barony had been. No trace remained of the castle , the villages, or even the farmers’ fences.
The priests of Incabulos in Karg, which was not far away from the vanished lands, claimed that Incabulos had sent his wrath upon duchy in punishment for Wolutha’s blasphemy and impiety. It is my opinion that this myth has been used by the modern day Incabulites to impress upon the people of Karg the necessity of honoring their patron god. ’’

[at the Marble Faun, cont.]

You hear footsteps coming up the stairway.

The door creaks open. Mattheo stands there, holding in his hands a bakset. He walks over to the desk at which you’re seated and sets the basket down. Inside, you see a bottle of wine, some cheese, a couple of apples, and two sandwiches.

’’’I thought you might be hungry, Benn. It’s past noon, you know. Put out the ‘closed’ sign and came up to see if you wanted a little company and some food. How’s the research coming along?’’

C: While Cirdan wounds the man and he jumps in, Norzak sees Charlotte and heads for her. Out of breath “Are.. pant…pant…. ye…. okay….missy?Pant….. gasp….. The gendarmes are coming…” He helps her up and then looks her over to see if she has any injuries. Curse that bugger, ’e got away! Hope them gendrmes get ’im good

B: Bennedict writes the name “Wolutha” in his notebook, with a few notes beneath about her tale, prominently underlining “Blue Eyes”. He then pauses for another thoughtful moment, before drawing a connecting line between Incabulos’ name and the name of the witch-tyrant from the legend. Above the line he scribes the words “Friend or foe?”

At the sound of Mattheo’s footsteps on the stairs, Bennedict nearly leaps out of his skin. Seeing that it is only his old friend, however, he collects himself and smiles appreciatively at the food. “Thank you, I had lost track of time.” He pulls out one of the sandwiches, taking a ravenous bite and nodding again in appreciation. “Things are going well, in a manner of speaking. I confess, however, that the more I learn of the subject of my research, the more concerned I am for Herr Sancerre and his daughter.” He carefully turns the book towards Mattheo, indicating the passage he had been reading to the bookseller. “Have you ever heard this woman mentioned outside of this tome?”

G:

‘’Wolutha? No, I am afraid I have not.’’

Mattheo takes a long draught from the wine bottle and settles into a chair. His speech and manner becomes more animated, which is typical of him when discussing such matters-

‘’ Based off my research, I’ve estimated that Johannes was writing about six centuries ago. Your own country of Lamordia was but a young and half-barbaric nation, then, and the wizard kings of Il Aluk had not yet launched the Wars of Unification. What records of the northern countries which survive from that time are often confusing and incomplete- making it hard to judge the reliablity of Johannes’ account. Imagine it, Benn, this book may be a window into the legendary past! Or it could be nothing but lies and fairy tales. I’d love to know the truth of it, wouldn’t you?’’


Charlotte, with Norzak’s help, gets to her feet. She isn’t really hurt , just frightened and bruised.

‘’Thank you, Norzak!’’

By this time the man in the boat has made it to the swifter flowing waters of the center of the stream, and is being carried away down river.

The crowd parts to admit three gendrames, armed with swords and bucklers. The three quickly look over the scene , and one of their number begins bawling out orders-

‘’Pierre, get a boat and a gaff- catch that swimmer. ’’ He indicates the bloody waters trailing the injured man, who is struggling to reach the opposite bank of the river- a long swim, indeed. His subordinate runs off find a boat, as ordered, leaving only two gendrames on the scene.

The gendrame sergeant turns his attention towards Norzak and Cirdan-
‘’You two gentlemen lay down your arms.’’

Charlotte steps forward and cries out-

‘’These men aren’t criminals, they saved me!’’

B: “It may be a window to the legendary past, but I am also afraid it may contain dire portents of the future. This Woluthra woman…” his voice trails off, again travelling in his mind’s eye through the mirror to the woman with the saphire eyes, “…I may have had recent contact with her, by way of a magical device. My client discovered it along with an incantation to Incabulos and a key of some kind. But he did not discover them in the north country, Mattheo. He discovered them here, in this city, in the walls of one of the buildings.”

His voice trails off again. “I wonder how it could have made its way this far south,” He taps a finger thoughtfully on the desktop, before looking up at his friend. “Have you ever heard rumors of a gateway of some kind beneath the city? One guarded by rat men which is capable of transporting someone to a far-away land?”

N: “Hey mack” Norzak addresses the gendarmes “We’re with Miss Sancerre over there” he points to Evangeline. “I doubt very much her Da would appreciate her saviors being badly treated, now would ye? NOt counting her servant’s savior as well? ‘N’ I ain’t dropping me weapon fer ya cuz I did nothing wrong in tha first place!” Norzak holds his sword with one hand, the tip on the ground, leaning on it casually.

G:
Surprise at Benn’s words is plainly written on Mattheo’s face.

‘’Well, I must say- this is astounding!’’

When Benn asks about the portal, Mattheo answers:

‘’ Well, I’ve certainly heard stories about enmormous rats in the sewers, and man-rats, too. Of course, I couldn’t tell you if they are true stories.
As for a magical portal….hmmmm, it seems I have actually heard something like that someplace…’’
Barozi leans back in his chair and rubs his forehead, deep in thought for a moment.

‘’Ah,yes! It’s an old legend of the town. The hero finds an enchanted doorway, deep in the sewers, and guarded by demons. He defeats or tricks the demonic guardians, and passes through the portal. Whether it leads to the land of heart’s desire, or to a country out of nightmares, depends on who is telling the story.’’

Mattheo pauses to take a nibble of his sandwich, then adds-

’’If you want to know more about this, you could always check with the Confraternity of Sewermen and Streetcleaners, or the Worshipful Guild of Rat-catchers. Those people always know these sorts of stories, naturally.


The two gendrames begin to look distinctly unfriendly. The one who’s been doing all the talking draws his broadsword a handspan out from its sheath. His companion in arms is nervously fingering the hilt of his own weapon.

Evangline runs forward through the crowd to embrace Cirdan.

’’Don’t harm them, Sir Cirdan, they are only trying to do their duty.’’

She looks at the two gendarmes, and tells them quite matter-of-factly:

‘’These are not the men you’re looking for’’

With Evangeline’s declaration, the whole situation changes. The aura of hostile intent vanishes quickly.

‘’Mademoiselle Sancerre.’’

He doffs his cap and bows to Evangeline.

‘’Since you vouch for them, I will not press the matter. I would ask that you all give a statement, of course. We’ll need information to catch the criminals responsible for this outrageous assault. ’’

He looks at Norzak and Cirdan again, intently, as if he’s trying to place their features….

‘’Hmmm, you gentlemen seem awfully familiar. Have we met before?’’

N: “I tole ye I was trying ta protect tha missy , ya jackaninny! ‘N’ why ya need me ta state tha obvious? We was protectin’ tha missies, bub. ‘N’ I ain’t seen ya bafore taday. Him either” Norzak points over his shoulder at Cirdan. “If’n thar’s nuthin’ else ye be needin’ from us, I think tha l;adies might wanna return home after all that excitement. You wanna be tha one ta tell her Da she was detained by you?” Norzak eyes the gendarme with a raised eyebrow.

G: The policeman blows air through his lips in a low whistle. He sighs, shrugs, and shoots Norzak an exasperated look.

‘’Now see here, Monsieur Nain, there’s no need for you to carry on like this. Just give us your names, and a brief statement about what happened. If we have other questions later, we will come and find you. I’m sure Monsieur Sancerre will understand if his daughter is help up just a few minutes- for such an important matter. You DO want to help us catch the villians who attacked the girl, yes? ’’

The second gendrame is walking about the boardwalk nearby, questioning people from the small crowd of onlookers.

N: Norzak’s eyes narrow at the gendarme. “I don’ know what no nain is or some mon seeuur is either. I’m Norzak bub. An if I din’t want her persuers ta be found, I’d never a helped her in tha first place.” Norzak still leans on his sword not sheathing it.

B: “I’m inclined to believe the story ends badly, but maybe that’s my glowing and optimistic nature talking.” Bennedict pours himself a glass of wine, sipping at it absent-mindedly. “Confraternity of rat catchers? What a charming and charismatic group of people they must be. I’m almost afraid to ask, but how would one go about making contact with one of them?”

G: The gendarme visibly relaxes and begins to question Norzak and Cirdan:

‘’A nain is a, euh, dwarf. Now, please tell me what happened here,exactly.’


Mattheo nods and answers,
‘’ Just go to their guildhall. It’s on the Plaza of Statues, on the south side if I recall correctly. Near the gate there is a bronze statue of a rat. ’’

N: “I’ll sleep better knowin’ a nain is a dwarf. Now I seen ‘n’ heard this here missy” he nods to Charlotte “scream. Then I saw them two men tryin’ ta git her in a boat. I started running and yelled back at tha other missy” he then nods to Evangeline before continuing. “I casted me spell at one of that varmints who was tryin’ ta kidnap the first missy, Charlotte. He got tired from me spell ‘n’ fell into the boat. Elf here” he points at Cirdan " he did his part in tryin’ ta protect missy Charlotte. I used me wand ta slow them down but one of em got away on tha waterway there." Norzak realises that this is the second time in a few days that young women are being kidnapped or at least the attempt is there. He choses not to mention to the authorities that this is their second save this week.

G: The officer questioning Norzak confers with his subordinate, who has been questioning other witnesses. After a brief huddle, he turns his attention back to Norzak and Cirdan.

‘’Oh, I see. A kidnapping foiled, very good. Well, thank you for that. I think we are done here. We will send a man to the Sancerre house if we have further questions. You may leave. ’’

Just then, the third gendarme returns, a little wet, and says -

‘’We caught him! He’s in custody, on his way to the healers. Nasty cut on him, sir.’’

All three gendarmes quickly turn and walk away, pausing only to tip their caps to Evangeline and Charlotte as they pass.

B: Bennedict’s face flushes red. Perhaps the wine is a bit stronger than he is used to, or perhaps his nerves are finally catching up with him. “Ah, ahem,” he begins, pushing the glass around in circles, watching the red liquid swirl around in the glass. “Mattheo, you and I are old friends, yes? We have known each other for a long time.” He harrumphs, not quite knowning how best to put forth the next bit. “The sewers of this city, it is said they are filled with many rats, nien? And perhaps things which are worse than rats?” He arches an eyebrow suggestively. “Perhaps things which combine elements of the two? In any case, when one visits Pont-a-Museau one expects to hear the sounds of rats crawling in the sewer lines and in the walls of most buildings. It is a matter of course, something a local comes to accept.” He winces, looking up at his friend apologetically. “Is it possible these rat-catching men are not entirely dedicated to performing their jobs? I have difficulty trusting men who are so evidently failing in the completion of their tasks, as these rat catchers clearly are. And if worse things than rats dwell in these sewers, how am I to know that they do not work in congress with them?”

He heaves a heavy sigh, sliding the glass of wine away decisively. “I am sorry old friend. I do not mean to insult you or your council. You know this city better than I. I simply find myself surrounded by mysteries, and I am not certain who or what I can trust.” He picks up another sandwich, taking a bite out of it and chewing thoughtfully. “You must admit, though,” he says, his mouth still full, “It is terribly coincidental, this story of rat-men and a pestilence god popping up on the same day. Enough to make any man suspicious.”

C: Cirdan briefly nods to the officers, but without his usual friendliness and servility.

“Wow, that was a close call, Norzak” is all he says.

He will then walk over and attend the ladies if they need his help in some way.

You might notice that the elf is unusually quiet compared to the afterplay to the other fights.

G:
Mattheo has finshed his sandwhich. He refills his wine cup, and takes another draught from it before answering-

‘’Well, it is a fact that establishments which spurn the services of the ratcatchers often suffer particularly bad infestations. That might be explained very simply, of course, with nothing sinister involved.
As for failing in their duties, well, the city is old, and there are countless places for pests to hide. The rats have been here longer than the current race of men, though certainly their numbers have grown explosively since the colonization began.
In the early days of reclamation, there was little organized effort to control the vermin. Rats the size of large dogs would emerge from the sewers and catacombs to carry off children. The awful famines in the surrounding countryside, the sickness that would befall any who entered certain unclean houses…it must have been a harrowing time, if the old accounts are to be believed.
The cities of this country were inhabited by lesser numbers of men in those days, and Man’s mastery here was in question. Rats and men were at war, Benn, and the rats were winning. Maybe now we have a stalemate, or a truce….’’

G: Evangeline is fussing over Charlotte, standing on the baordwalk near the little cafe.

‘’Oh you poor girl! I hope you aren’t hurt badly.’’

‘’No, I am fine Miss Evie. Just shaken, I suppose. I need to lie down, I think.’’

‘’Of course, we can go home immediately.’’

Evangeline, seeing Sir Cirdan approach, walks quickly to his side.

‘’Sir Cirdan, let us return to my father’s house. Poor Charlotte needs to recover from this awful experience.’’

Evangeline is blushing and her whole form quivers slightly. Her breath is coming just a little faster than would be usual for a person standing at rest. She takes a half-step towards Cirdan. She opens her mouth to speak, pauses a moment in silence, then says,

’’Oh, how will I ever thank you properly for saving first me, then Charlotte? You are a true hero Sir Cirdan. Norzak, as well. It is our good fortune that you came into this city when you

B: “Hmm, quite right,” Bennedict chews thoughtfully on a corner of sandwich. “This has been extremely informative, Mattheo. As always your hospitality and personal collection exceed their reputation. My client will be most interested to hear about my discoveries.” He closes up the notebook, stuffing it back into his satchel before carefully closing the cover of the old tome and handing it back to Mattheo. “If I have any other questions, I will return and discuss them with you. Thank you again.”

He stands, tossing back the last of his glass of wine and brushing the crumbs from his lap before shouldering his satchel and turning towards the door.

G: Stepping out the door of the Marble Faun, Benn sees that it is mid-afternoon. The weather remains bright and sunny, but the heat of the day has begun to subside. The neighborhood is quiet but not empty. A young couple stroll down the avenue opposite of the spot where Benn is standing, and further down the street in a vacant lot some little children are playing amid the fallen cloumns of what must have been an impressive building, long ago. Now, only the long white marble pillars remain, and these are broken and scattered across the grassy field.

N: Norzak mumbles under his breath as the Gendarmes depart “Good riddance. A buncha mangy dogs if yer ask me….” When Cirdan addresses him Norzak nods at him “Aye, ‘twas a close shave there, elf. Them pOlice are quite incompetent. We gone done their job twice ’n’ nuthin ta show fer it too! Bah! Nothin a pint won’t cure…. I wunner what Benn’s bin up to this afternoon? No matter I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.”

When Cirdan goes to look in on the ladies, Norzak sheaths his short sword and looks around warily. Then he approaches the three others and nodding in agreement with Cirdan’s assessment of getting the ladies home, he leads the way.

G: The walk back to the Sancerre home is a pleasant one, and passes without incident.


When you arrive at Evageline’s home, you see that M. Sancerre has returned from his errands. He is pacing in the garden, pausing every now and then to take a swig of wine directly from the bottle in his right hand. As you arrive, he turns to you, red-faced, and blurts out:

’’I’ve had disturbing news, friends! A man I knew well has been murdered! He was a rascally sort, and I shan’t miss him, may Ezra forgive my unkindness is saying so. That he was murdered, I can readily believe, for he lately kept bad company. No, it is this item that disturbs me: Pierre’s grave is empty! I just heard that, only a moment after I learned of his being dead. Someone has stolen his corpse. What a dreadful crime!’’

C: “No thanks are required, mylady. It’s not what I am, but what my order”, Cirdan briefly touches the skull medal hanging from his neck, “has teached me to do.”

As the group arrives at the Sancerre house, Cirdan quickly rushes Evangeline’s father. “Mylord, no time for explanations. Get some clothes, food and money, and be ready to leave the house in half an hour. Don’t talk to the servants, don’t inform any of your business partners. By my honor as a knight, take haste.”

And to Norzak: “We must bring them to a safer place, and quickly, my friend! It is obvious that the murderers won’t stop that easily. And maybe we should investigate yesterday’s suicider again.”

B: “Gone from his grave?” Bennedict stops dead in his tracks, confusion and fear evident on his features. “How can that be possible? He’s only just been put in it! And he didn’t die of anything one would expect to cause him to rise back from the dead…” His eyes narrow in confusion before suddenly widening. “The old man! He must have had something to do with it!”

N: “Awright. I ain’t from this here city so where can we hide ‘em fer now? Elf? Benn? Ye got any ideas? Oh Benn we had a nice afternoon with the lassies. We’ll tell ye about it later. ‘N’ what of yeself, lad? Was it a productive afternoon?”

B: “I’m sorry, what?” Bennedict comes back from his suspicious train of thought regarding the fellow who encountered their “murder victim” several nights previous. “Yes, yes, productive. I’ll fill you in later. Unfortunately the best safe house I knew of is compromised, due to our missing, recently deceased friend.”

G: For just a minute, Denys Sancerre stands there in the garden, open-mouthed, dazed by the impact of Sir Cirdan’s words. He blinks rapidly, and stammers out,

‘’Y-yess. I’ll do it. Oh Evangeline, come with me, we must hurry!’’

Evangeline hastens to follow her father into the house to collect the things for their flight.

C: “Norzak, please go in and inform Ben of what happened. I’ll stay outside and guard the entrance. – If we both stay outside, we might look too much like those strangers on the wanted poster!”

Cirdan will put on the hood of his cloak and sit on a chair on the Sancerre Veranda, his dagger drawn, but hidden from any bypasser’s sight.

B: “Wanted poster?” Bennedict confusingly begins, before stubbornly shaking his head. " Nevermind. Tell me later. Come, herr dwarf, I have my own preparations to make."

Bennedict hustles through Sancerre house to his temporary quarters. Stepping inside, he reaches underneath the bed, drawing out a small wooden trunk. The archivist pulls forth a rattling bundle of keys, flipping to one in particular which he uses to undo the latch. He impatiently flips the chest open, uncovering a worn, iron breastplate. With a sign, Benn snatches the armor out of the box, throwing his arms through the shoulder straps.

“I can’t say that I saw myself needing this when I woke up this morning. You two must have had an eventful trip to town.”

G: Within the hour, the Sancerres have packed their things. While the last of the preparations for flight are being undertaken to the rear of the house, two visitors arrive in the front…..

Two men enter the gate and walk up the path towards the spot where Sir Cirdan is sitting. The taller of the two is a tall, slim, mustachioed fellow wearing a drab outfit and armed with a long, narrow blade. His companion is a rather rotund fellow who wears a short cape despite the warmth of the day.

The tall man with the sword steps speaks as the pair draws near to the veranda where Cirdan sits on watch.

The tall fellow smiles obsequiously and tips his cap to the knight.
‘’Ho there, friend, we have business with Master Sancerre. Would you kindly direct us to him? We’d be most obliged.‘’
The fat man doesn’t say anything , but fixes Cirdan with a cold stare. He reaches towards his left flank, near a spot under his cape. Cirdan notices a bulge there, under his arm.


Just then, Charlotte walks into the room. With her right hand she carries a wooden tray with two steaming mugs resting on it. A smell of cloves and other spices creeps across the room.

‘’Surprise! I brought you both some mulled wine…oh, is everything alright?’’

She stares at Ben’s breastplate as if she never before seen a man in armor. Her lips are parted slightly and she is breathing rapidly and shallowly. He face grows a bit pale as she reaches with her free hand for the rabbit’s foot pendant hanging about her neck.

C: Cirdan spits on the ground, in front of the men’s boots.

“Master Sancerre is unable to attend any visitors at the moment. Tell your comrade to keep his hands where I can see them, and then leave this private property.”

The half-elf will slowly stand up, giving a mute prayer to the Eternal King that he had kept his armor on.

Even if the other man tries to only to argue, he will attack.

G: Both men react quickly. The tall man tugs at his sword to free it from its scabbard, taking two quick steps back as he does so. The fat man, who is standing a couple of yards back, flips aside his cloak and grabs for the butt of the big wheellock pistol that hangs under his left arm!

B:“Are you feeling alright, Fraulein? I understand you had a taxing day at the marketplace.” He flashes the lady a quizzical look. “Here, let me take those off of your hands so you can sit down for a moment.” Bennedict reaches forward to take the tray of drinks from Charlotte.

G: The fat man has his pistol in hand and instantly fires a snapshot at Cirdan. The gun leaps in his pudgy hand, letting loose a crashing roar and a puff of acrid smoke. Cirdan feels the wind of the ball’s passage as it narrowly misses his head!

The thin man is also very quick and manages to get his sword free with near blinding speed! He slashes at Cirdan’s face, leaving the elf-knight with a nasty wound.

G: Charlotte hands the tray to Benn and speaks,

‘’Oh, I shall be fine, I think. I just saw you in that armor…well, I imagined something might be wrong. I know I’m being silly, it’s just that things have been so crazy lately. I don’t feel safe anymore. I…’’

BOOM!
You all hear a loud noise from the front of the house.

C: Cirdan will have just one goal: Kill the man with the gun!

In a first move, he will try to stab the enemy, then, if possible, pull his shield from his back so he can block the sword.

B: Ben is setting the tray of drinks on top of the bed as the shot rings out. He looks around in alarm before dropping to a knee, reaching into his trunk and pulling out a small crossbow. “Herr Norzak, I believe Sir Cirdan needs our assistance.” He hurries to the door, loading a bolt and turning the crank. As he steps out into the hall he turns back to Charlotte. “Not to alarm you, Fraulein, but it may be a good idea for you to barricade the door behind us.”

G: The Thin Man leaps to the side as Cirdan pushes past him, advancing on the cubby pistoleer. Thin Man swings wildly at Cirdan head or neck, but the elf -knight has managed to bring his shiled into play and easily blocks the blow as he rushes past, bearing down on his intended prey. One more step will carry the knight within reach of the Fat Guy.

Fat Guy is ramming a ball into his pistol when Cirdan’s last lunging step carries the point of his dirk into his chest! He stands transfixed by Cirdan’s blade. Pink ,frothy fluid pours bubbles up from his mouth and nose, and the pistol falls uselessly from his hand to the wooden floor of the porch.

C: Cirdan will open his grip on his dagger, and try to draw his sword, while covering himself with his shield.

G: Charlotte immediately sets to work dragging furniture across the room to erect a barricade.

N: Norzak will go and help Cirdan. Removing a dagger from his belt, he takes careful aim and throws it a the fat man.

G: The Thin Man advances against Sir Cirdan, who has just drawn his sword/ His is able to block the Thin Man’s attack with his shield.

The dwarf bursts out the front door and hurls a dagger at the Fat Guy, who is stumbling about with Cirdan’s dagger buried in his chest. The knife leaves Norzak’s hand and spins through the air, end over end, to impale the fat man in the gut. He tries to scream, but can only manage a horrible gargling sound as he coughs up more blood. He stoops to pick up the pistol he dropped, and fumbles to charge it with powder….

At this point, Benn arrives at the front of the house. He has a clear shot at the Fat Guy, while the Thin Man is awfully close to Cirdan, making him a risker target.

C: Cirdan will try to hit the thin man with his shield, then stab him with his sword,
all the while shouting: “Don’t shoot me, Ben!”

B: Bennedict sizes up the situation, seeing the larger pistol-toting man bleeding profusely from multiple wounds and the injured Cirdan battling an otherwise unscathed opponent, and shifts his crossbow to one hand. “Do not worry, some attacks do not rely on my aim.”

Recalling the ancient language of the Harakir, Bennedict closes his eyes and begins an incantation. “Weapon of Ra, bring forth your searing light to devour the darkness.”

G: Cirdan rams the Thin Man with his shield, sending him staggering backwards a two or three paces. Cirdan executes a follow up thrust, but the Thin Man jumps aside at the last possible second, saving himself.

As Benn chants, a patch of shimmering golden light springs into being near the Thin Man. Very quickly, it takes on the shape of a heavy, curved sword composed entirely composed of golden light. The luminous falchion moves through the air of its own accord, striking at the Thin Man!

’’’Aaargh!!’’ Thin Man screams as the conjured blade rips into the flesh of his back

Fat Guy has slumped down against the front wall of the house. He’s winding the firing mechanism of his pistol with a spanner [ a wrench-like tool].

Thin Man darts to the left and strikes again at Sir Cirdans’ face. The rapier impacts the knight’s gorget, instead, and the steel plate turns aside the blow.

B: Bennedict smiles in satisfaction at the prayer’s successful completion, relieved that the new incantation actually worked. I would have liked to have tried that one out first, but good to see all the same. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees the heavier fellow winding his flintlock pistol and snaps his crossbow back up, firing a bolt at the fellow.

C: Cirdan, relying on his superior ability in defending with a shield, raises his defense and tries to cut the thin man with a hit coming from downside.

N: Norzak again this day wipes his brow, getting some sweat on it. Uttering a few arcane phrases a ray flees his hand and strikes the fat fellow right in the gut!

G: The Fat Guy sighs heavily and slides down to rest on the floor of the veranda. He lies prone, moving very slowly, as if the effort to make even small motions were almost too much for him to manage. Feebly, he attempts to raise the pistol to take aim at Norzak.

Cirdan’s forceful blow cuts across the Thin Man’s torso, leaving a long , shallow laceration. Dark blood oozes out quickly, spreading a crimson stain across his tunic and breeches.

Benn’s aim is true and the bolt strikes the Fat Guy in the left shoulder and lodges itself there, only the very back of the feather shaft showing out from the wound.

G: The glowing falchion still dances in the air behind the Thin Man. Now it swoops in again to stike him in his back. The blow cuts deep, and the Thin Man topples forward to lie at Cirdan’s feet, motionless.

Fat Guy takes aim at Norzak and squeezes the trigger. The weapon leaps in the man’s grip and belches fire and smoke.

BOOM!

Norzak feels something hard strike him in the arm. It hurts.

The smoke clears, revealing the Fat Guy lying flat on his face, just barely twitching, the discharged pistol still clutched tightly in his right hand.

N: Norzak stops a moment as his arm is splintered. “Ouch! Ye mangy dog! Comin inta someone else’s home ‘n’ doing nasty deeds ain’t right! ‘N’ ye shoot at me! That’s it!” Norzak removes his dagger and runs up to the fat man, furious. "All i’s doin’ is tryin ta help these people ye dag! and proceeds to jab the dagger in between the man’s both eyes. Then not bothering to wait he darts off to where he heard the scream coming from. He loads his crossbow on the way.

G: The Fat Guy makes a pathetic mewling noise as Norzak stabs him in the head between his eyes. He burbles a bit, and quits moving entirely.

As Norzak hoofs it for the back yard, running around the very big house, he hears- as do the others- the unmistakable sound of a woman screaming. Evangeline? Charlotte?

In the rear of the house, Charlotte lies crumpled on the ground in a pool of her own blood.

A few yards away from the servant girl, M. Sancerre lies sprawled motionless on the ground. Near him lies a heavy pack, supplies spilling out of it onto the lawn.

Evangeline is nowhere to be seen.

The rear gate stands open, creaking on its hinges as the wind blows against it. You can hear the rapidly receding sound of hoofbeats echoing down the cobbled streets, but the riders are obscured from your view by a row of houses.

View
Mists Over the Musarde Chapter 1 Part 4

G: Denys replies-

‘’Certainly you may examine them. ’’

The key is of baroque design, with tiny arabesques etched into its flat surfaces. It appears to be made from a solid piece of silver. It isn’t tarnished.

The scroll is a piece of yellowed parchment covered with crabbed handwriting and weird diagrams of some sort. The writing appears to be either a cypher of some kind or else a foreign langauge. The back of the scroll is entirely blank.

Evangeline fairly leaps up out of her chair.

‘’ Oh, it’s late and I have yet to..’’

She darts out of the room, returning a moment later with a cheesecloth bundle.

‘’I went shopping with my girl this morning and found something lovely for Mesieur Norzak. I am sorry I don’t have presents for the rest of you gentlemen, but this was just something I saw and thought- aha, perfect!’’

She hands the bundle to Norzak.

‘’I trust you will like it, mesieur.’’

N: Norzak accepts the package as if it was a delicate flower. Placing it in his lap, he wriggled his fingers a few times, as if he was deciding the best way to open it. Looking at the young woman, he merely said “Thanks.”

Then he picked it up and brought it to his nose and sniffed. Then he weighed it in his hands. Yet again he lay it in his lap. Eyeing it with determination, he finally laid a hand on the wrapping and ever so carefully opened the package, wondering what he’d find inside.

G: The package smells of liquor and something sweet, a scent that seems oddly familiar.
It weighs several pounds, so whatever’s inside must be fairly heavy- not likely a paper thank-you note or an embroidered napkin.

Opening it, you find……

a fruitcake. Ah, but this is not just any fruitcake- it’s a dwarven fruitcake, just like Norzak’s mum used to make! The dark, massy, loaf is slightly sticky. A distinctive rummy odor emanates from its every pore. Blocks and wedges of dully glistening fruit can be seen partially buried in its slablike surfaces, like crystals embedded in a lump of rock.

Wherever did this human girl find a proper dwarf bakery here in Pont-a-Museau?

Evangeline waits expectantly, looking at Norzak as if hoping for some sign of his approval.

N: Norzak’s eyes open wide. He looks at the fruitcake, then at Evangeline, then back to the fruitcake. “Where did you….” he mutters and slowly , Norzak’s mouth cracks up into a …. smile! “Jess like me mum used ta make…..” He breaks off a tiny piece of this dwarvish treasure and brings it to his mouth and chews it slowly, savoring his most favorite treat. Well that’s not counting a good dwarvish ale. “Missy I dinna know where you got this here, but ye’ve got me thanks” he tips his fingers to her in a salute. “Now ye’ve got ta show me this here bakery in tha mornin!” He moves off to a quiet corner and merely eats another little piece of his gift, mumbling to himself, but smiling!

G: Evangeline smiles brightly.

‘’Oh, I’m so happy you like it, mesieur Norzak! Of course I will show you the bakery tomorrow. ’’

Denys rises to his feet, perhaps a bit usnteadily from his intake of wine, and addresses the party.

’’ Thank you so much for honoring me with your presence here tonight, gentlemen. Again, I invite you to remain here for the night. It is late, and the streets can sometimes be unsafe at night- as well you know. My servants have prepared accomodations for each of you.

Tomorrow morning, I have business to which I must attend, and after that I prepare for the grand masque to be held at the end of the week. I’m certain I can manage an invitation for any of you who wish to accompany myself and Evangeline. All the elite of the town will be in attendance, and it is the social event of the season. Not to be missed, no, not to be missed…’’

At her father’s mention of the masque, Evangeline looks over at Sir Cirdan, blushes faintly, and looks away demurely, casting her attention towards the night view of the garden through an open window.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Pont-a-Museau…

Between two ramshackle mansions, long since fallen into ruin, lies the pauper’s cemetary. Here are buried the city’s poor and forgotten. Around this forsaken plot of ground stands a sagging stone all covered in creeping nightshade. A single open corridor provides egress from the street. The gate that once hung there has rusted away, leaving only a pair of corroded hinges hanging loosely from the stones. Within the yard, the lake of upkeep is even more evident. In place of the nobly carved marble headstones and vaults of the wealthy, the pauper’s cemetary has only piles of rubble and hastily erected wooden poles to denote the final restings places of its inhabitants. Clumps of sickly yellow grass sprout between the stones and along the forlorn pathways. Here and there, a token may be seen atop a humble gravesite- a child’s doll or a bunch of wilted flowers.

One grave lacks even a humble cairn or wooden mast as a marker. No flowers have been left by the poor man’s family. Only this evening did the gravediggers deposit the site’s inhabitant. The freshly turned soil exhales strange vapours into the night air.

A man enters the cemetary alone and on foot. His black cloak swirls about him in the moonlight, so that an onlooker[ were there any such present at this unholy hour] might imagine him to be a great bat, swooping over the boneyard in search of prey.

The lone man pauses at the fresh and unmarked grave. He bends a knee and snatches up a handful of earth with a long, narrow hand. Holding it to his nose, he inhales deeply.

B: The mention of a party of rich potential patrons proves enough to draw Bennedict out of his train of thought long enough to mumble “Certainly, yes, I’d be pleased to attend.”

The acknowledgment of his host out of the way, the archivist was free to return to examining the items. More mysteries, he thought, mysteries upon mysteries. And some of them quite a bit more dangerous than I particularly prefer. He cast a nervous sidelong glance back to the mirror, images of a blue eyed woman calling to him again for a moment before his gaze turned back to the table. Shaking his head to clear it, he picked the piece of parchment up from the tabletop and unrolled it, staring at the symbols and trying to divine some meaning.

G: Evangeline excuses herself and retires to her chambers for the night, casting a coy glance over her shoulder at Sir Cirdan as she departs.

Denys gets to his feet and announces he is likewise going to rest.
‘’The evening has been altogether too short, my friends.’’

Servants arrive to direct those of you who choose to spend the night to your chambers, should you wish to sleep. If anyone is still hungry, wishes a bath, needs a candle,etc the servants will provide for that, as well.

B: “Incabulos…” Bennedict mumbles, squinting at the scroll. “Who is Incabulos?”

When a servant comes by to ask Ben if he needs anything, he asks for an ink pot and a pen, flopping a dog eared, weatherbeaten pocket journal onto the table and flipping to a blank page towards the back.

C: Cirdan bows silently to Evangeline, then uncomfortably steps from one foot to another.

Incabulos… I know that name… Back from home…

“Bennedict… I think I know that word you just said. From my home, in Darkon. I think it was…”

B: Bennedict’s eyebrow arches as he sets the quill down carefully on the table and removes his glasses. “Indeed? Perhaps you’d care to elaborate.”

G: Ambrose, a young serving-man, brings Ben his inkpot and pen. He also sets a pitcher of water out, should anyone need a drink. All the lights in the house have been extinguished, save for four candles in silver candlesticks, which stand atop the dining room table. The effect is that you all sit in a wavering pool of light in the midst of the great darkened house.

Ambrose begs you l;eave to go into the other room an lay down awhile-
’’I’ll be on my feet in an instant, if you call,’’ he promises. He draws up a couch upon which to take his rest.

N: Norzak grabs two tankards of ale before heading to his guest room.

G: [for Norzak]

The guest room is small, but well-appointed. A sturdy wooden bed, topped with heavy, soft blankets and feather pillows dominates the far side of the room. Next to this stands a little night table. A chamberpot sits at the foot of the bed. Above the bed is a window, the shutters open to admit the night breezes.

N: Norzak removes the matress and places it on the floor. He packed it with his hands a few times before finally satisfied he sat cross legged on it. He downed both ales quickly and rubbing his belly, he bleched rather loudly. He took a pillow and placed it under his head. Laying back, he closed his eyes and near a minute later was snoring.

C: Cirdan seems to hesitate for a moment, perhaps a bit intimidated by the scholar’s direct addressing.

“Near Nevuchar Springs, were I grew up, people used to tell tales of a demon with that name. A spirit of plague with skeletal hands, that brought pestilence.
- This superstition is farily common among humans there; when they eat chicken, they spare two bones and put them in their chimney, forming a small bone cross. That is said to keep Incabulos away.”

Cirdan reaches out for his glass of wine. “Maybe the artififact is Darkonian, then.”

N: Norzak wakes with a start. Rubbing his eyes he gets up and heads downstairs. Finding Benn and Cirdan he walks over to them and sits. “Couldn’t sleep.” He retrieves the stones and now inspects them. “Oh I think I can definitely help you with that mirror scroll and key if yer willing to listen ta me, Benn. I hear things and know things. But yer going ta have ta trust me.”

B: “Now that you mention it, Cirdan, perhaps I have heard of this being. Well, this certainly does seem dire. It is good we were here to take these things out of Herr Sancerre’s hands before they caused him or his family any harm.
But the hour is late, and I prefer to discuss demons of pestilence with a bit more daylight.”

With that he turns back to the scroll, scribing more notes into his journal. Norzak likely comes down to the table to find Bennedict face down into his journal, glasses knocked akimbo to one side and a smudge of ink dried on one cheek. At the dwarf’s address, he starts back to alertness, readjusting his spectacles. “Hmm, what, key? Ah, yes, the items. You know something of them, you say?”

N: Leaning in and speaking in a low voice, Norzak relates what he knows “The mirror shows you another land. The key opens a portal to this land. From what I remember, the portal used ta be here in Pont-A-Museau sonewhere on the surface, but is now in somewhere in the sewers guarded by some rat men. I have no compinction at all about killing some rats ‘n’ I doubt either a you do either. If I am right and I’m pretty sure I am, what do ya say we venture into tha sewers n have us a rat ke bob?” Norzak asks eagerly.

“Oh by tha way, these here stones are uncut onyxes ‘n’ I think they’re worth a lil bit ‘o’ gold Benn” Norzak adds as he removes them from his pocket and hands them over to the big man.

B: Norzak’s description of the stones barely even registers with Bennedict as his face narrows into a suspicious squint. “You’ll have to forgive me, Herr Norzak,” the wiry man begins slowly, “but, perhaps you could explain to me how it is exactly that you came to know of this? It was my understanding that you were from Darkon, originally.” He pauses as his eyes drift to the corner of the table, where the mirror is still resting, covered by Bennedict’s handkerchief. “It is possible that this place you speak so cavalierly of visiting may perhaps be dangerous.”

In the back of his mind, Bennedict tries his best to push away the image of deep, staring sapphire blue eyes…

N: “How do we come to learn things? We listen, we read. Yeah I read. Don’t lookit me like that, even I read. So though I am from Darkon don’t mean squat. I coulda learnt things there from me elders you couldn’t from yer elders. In case ya ain’t noticed dwarves live a lot longer ‘n’ you humans do but not quite as long as Cirdan’s folk do. So we know things ya don’t. We pray ta different gods you do ‘n’ perhaps get different information. So that being said, I did sleep but had a dream about this mirror, scroll ‘n’ key. I dont remember any of it cept that the answer is in the sewers ‘n’ that we might have ta kill some rat men. I ain’t got nothing against killin ratmen. You?” Norzak pauses then continues.

“I said you’d have ta trust me. I tole ya what I know. I gave ye back the stones ‘n’ tole ya what I knew about ‘em. This could be a good opportunity. And Benn, when you looked into the mirror I think ya saw someone with long hair ’n scantilly clad with a nice body but no beard. So what do yer say. I ain’t steered ya wrong yet.”

B: “Your knowledge of the being who attempted to ensnare me through the mirror does little to quiet my concerns, to be honest. Perhaps it simply seems a bit too convenient for my tastes.” He pauses for a moment to consider his options more fully. “I will admit, however, that thus far you have done little to engender my distrust.”

Bennedict rubs the bridge of his nose, clearly still tired. “In any case, I don’t see a reason to travel to this land you speak of and face these rat-men. If they are content to remain in the sewers and protect the portal you mentioned, I am more than happy to leave them to it. Besides, I believe Herr Sancerre is interested in retaining my services here in the city. I wouldn’t want to simply vanish so soon after joining his employ.”

To say nothing of simply not wanting to be eaten alive by rat-men in a sewer. The archivist mentally continues. Risking my neck for no better reason than to satisfy a dwarf’s curiosity isn’t exactly what I’d call a good idea.

C: Feeling that his knowledge is not appreciated the way he had envisioned it, Cirdan will politely retire to his bedroom and try to catch some sleep, while quietly cursing about arrogant intellectuals…

G: The rest of the night passes uneventfully. Servants rouse the sleeping members of the party, provide fresh water and other necessities, and inform you all that breakfast will be served in an hour, in the sun room.


The sun room is situated so that it receives plenty of warm sunlight through its many large glass windows. The shutters are all open, and several of the windows as well, so that a gentle breeze fills the room with balmy air and the scent of roses from the east garden.

Breakfast consists of ommelettes, crepes tooped with fruit preserves, soft cheese, bread, and little brown sausages. Tea with cream and honey is served from a tall silver samovar.

Evangeline seems quite animated this morning-
‘’ I am going shopping and visiting some of our friends today. Would any of you like to come along with me? I’d be glad of an escort, and I could show you all my favorite shops! Oh, don’t forget the bakery Mesieur Norzak!’’

C: Needless to say who will volunteer first…

G: Evangeline is obviously delighted by Sir Cirdan’s response.

‘’Oh! It will be fun! ’’

Denys finishes his plate [he was eating quickly!] , politely excuses himself and leaves the room, sayiing-

‘’Forgive me my friEnds, but I must attend to business matters now.’’

N: Norzak sleeps like a baby. Upon waking he is hungrier than a starving halfling! He gets his fill then when Evangeline asks him to ecort her he tells her “Yeah I’d like ta see this here bakery you got me fruitcake from, missy.” I’d like ta get these here men ta git down to tha sewers ta open that there door but thay ain’t too trusting. Bah! I’ll have ta convince em otherwise.

G: Evangeline finshes her meal, excuses herself, and goes to prepare for her outing.

A old servant woman is cleaning in the adjacent room- M. Sancerre’s study. She sings softly as she works.

’’Lolly lolly, rags and bones,

down the pipes where ratters roam,

I found a hat pin in the muck,

now in my chapeau it is stuck,

Lolly lolly, rags and bones,

down the pipes where ratters roam,

Far I wandered in the gloom,

till I found a lonesome tomb,

Lolly Lolly rags and bones,

down the pipes where ratters roam,

In the tomb – a door to Hell,

opened wide and through I fell

Lolly lolly rags and bones,

down the pipes no more I’ll roam..

C: “Strange song” Cirdan comments as he holds the door open for Evangeline…

G: Evangeline remarks-

‘’Oh, that? Hannah just likes to sing those old airs while she works. It’s a song for children, she used to sing it to me when I was little.’’

Evangeline soon returns, wearing a sun hat and a green dress. With her are Sir Cirdan and a servant girl who carries a basket and coin purse.

‘’Shall we go out now? It is a lovely day for walking, bright and sunny. ’’

While her mistress talks with Norzak, the servant girl regards Benn with a friendly smile. She’s a bit taller than her mistress, with raven black hair, fair skin, and hazel eyes. She wears a dress of blue cotton, a nice piece of tailoring but not too fancy, that shows the lines of her petite, well formed figure. Around her neck dangles a rabbit’s foot charm on a length of rawhide.

The girl leans over and whispers something to Evangeline.
Evangeline blushes faintly and supresses a giggle.

B: Bennedict politely excuses himself from the trip to the market, feeling a bit tired after spending most of the night transcribing the scroll into his journal. To say nothing of the exhaustion from listening to Evangeline drooling over Sir Cirdan, he thinks. However, he makes a gesture to Norzak, handing him what the dwarf had previously identified as a piece of uncut onyx.

“I am not completely aware of who would be best to go to for this, and perhaps you know better than I. I think this must have been Lady Evangeline’s abductor’s payment, so considering that both they and their employer are unlikely to bother us or her again, perhaps it would be best to pawn these and divide the proceeds amongst the three of us?”

He picks up his cup of warm tea, taking a short sip to avoid burning his mouth. He sighed, pleased as the smoky-acrid liquid went down his throat. Too many places in Pont-a-Museau tried to pass off watery dishwater as tea, and Bennedict was pleased to see that Master Sancerre’s tastes ran parallel to his own. He pauses, however, at the sound of the servant’s song coming from the next room. His face unwittingly took on the same slightly curious expression as Cirdan, though he did not vocalize his concerns. Now that’s entirely too coincidental. Benn thinks, recalling the discussions of the evening prior. Perhaps I’m being paranoid. All this talk of ratmen in the sewers and pestilence demons is making me jumpy.

As the others stand and depart, Bennedict walks towards the servant girl, flashing the what he thought passed as a winning smile, “You have a lovely singing voice. Might I be so forward as to ask you where you learned that song, fraulien? The tune sounds somewhat familiar.”

G: [To clarify: there is a old servant woman in the next room and a younger servant girl with Evangeline- two different people. The old lady was the one singing]

The old woman [ the one whom Evangeline called Hannah] is just about finished cleaning the study and is getting ready to begin the sun room when Benn addresses her.

‘’Oh , hello there. You like my song,eh? I learned it of my father. He used to sing it to me when I was just a li’l moppet. Old tune, old as the cobblestones, they say.’’

B: While Benn is busy talking with the old woman, he notices that one of Evangeline’s party has hung back- the pretty young servant girl with the raven black hair. She peeks at him from around the corner, smiling in a rather flirtacious manner.

Evangeline’s voice calls from outside,

‘’Charlotte! Come now, we must hurry. I don’t want to keep poor Norzak waiting- he’s ever so anxious to see the bakery.’’

Charlotte vanishes around the corner. Benn can hear her run to join the others.

Evangline leads the way. Just behind her walks her servant girl, Charlotte.

The weather is quite pleasant, not too hot but sunny and breezy. The city is busy, with many people out in the streets- buying and selling or just strolling the avenues.

The Clothiers Street , at the end of which is the Sancerre’s home, is the first leg of your trip. Evangeline does a little window shopping, but doesn’t buy anything.

‘’I like to look, but of course I’ve had my gown made already.’’

The next stop is a shop on Bakers Row, a short walk from the Street of Clothiers. The bakery is a squat single storey building, solidly constructed of stone and heavy timber. It looks [to Norzak, anyway] like it might be dwarf-built. Local materials, perhaps, but the syle is unusual for the city. A smell of freshly baked bread wafts out from inside. The windows and the front door are wide open, letting in sunlight, fresh air, and customers.

Evangeline enters the shop. She exhanges some pleasantries with the owner, a rather plump dwarf.

N: Dwarvish:
“Heavens begorrah! Who might you be, mack?” Norzak asks in his ususal brusque fasion. “I be Norzak. Norzak Darkender of Darkon. Out ta see these lands ‘n’ report back ta me clan.” Norzak puts out his hand for a handshake. “I was very impressed by ye fruitcake. It’s just like me mum used ta make.”

G: The baker replies in Dwarvish:

’’Name’s Brom Barrelhouse, from Tempe Falls, originally. Nice ta meet ‘nother ’un from the old country. Who’s the elf?’’

Brom shakes Norzak’s hand with a firm grip- leaving some flour on his fellow dwarf.

N: Norzak replies in Dwarvish:

“I dunno I met him in town two nights ago. Seems like most elves Ive heard of. The missus seems to fancy him fer some god awful reason as yet is incomprehensible to me. ‘N’ she ain’t got a beard. Where’s the attraction without a beard, Brom?” Norzak guffaws.

G: [in Dwarvish, of course]-

‘’I like mine cleanshaven, actually. Course, I’m eccentric. ’’

‘’Glad you liked the fruitcake- it’s me specialty. I cannot get the humans who work for me ta do it right, so I always make that meself. ’’

B: “Old as the stones, hmm,” Bennedict recalls Norzak’s tale of the subteranean rat-menace, “Perhaps even older.” He smiles once again to the cleaning lady and raises his tea glass before turning back to the breakfast table.

The unexpected attention from Charlotte the serving girl distracts Benn’s musings for a moment, but her absence brings him back to the present. To recap, we have no less than three unexplained magic items, rat people in the sewers, a portal to…somewhere else, and a pestilence god. To say nothing of the odd figure in the street the night we murdered Evangeline’s kidnapper…accidentally.Questions were starting to pile upon questions, and Bennedict was beginning to lose patience.

Which means it’s time to go to the library.

G: Leaving the bakery after Norzak’s coversation with Brom, Evangeline leads her small party to the Dockside Market.

The River Market turns out to be noisy and vibrant. The waterfront is lined with crates, barrels and chests. Stevedores are unloading more from the numerous rafts and boats tied up along the wharf. Hawkers and small vendors line the inland side of the street, all busily attempting to sell passers-by something or another. In the few vacant lots along the street, open-air auctions are being conducted- the goods are simply piled in stacks on the ground. The variety of goods is very great- bundles of cotton and tobacco from Arkandale, casks of Invidian wine, Elvish crystal-work form distant Sithicus,etc.

G: As you walk down the waterfront, you approach a cafe. Outside the door is hung a very large wooden board, roughly square, and quite weathered and nail-scarred. To this board are tacked scraps of parchment, posters,and broadsides of various sorts. Now and then, someone will stop at the board and read one of the notes, then hurry along his way.

N: Norzak will lean into Evangeline and ask in a low voice “I got these here stones I’d like ta change ta gold, miss” and he removes the stones and shows her quickly before putting them back “Kinna ya find me an honest jeweler or they don’t exist here?” Once she answers him he approaches the board and reads the notices at the café.

G: ‘’ Jeweler? Of course I know a good jeweler- it won’t be much trouble, Norzak. We can go there later today. ’’

Checking the board, Norzak sees a variety of ads, announcements,etc. Some look official, and many others have obviously been posted here by private citizens. One poster stands out:


ATTENTION CITIZENS!

WANTED:

Information leading to the arrest of two men and a dwarf suspected in the abduction and possible murder of Pierre Renault- last seen alive in the company of the three leaving the Sign of the Two Goats.

Suspect 1 is a dwarf, shabbily dressed and filthy besides.
Suspect 2 is described as being handsome, tall, and of noble bearing, dressed as a knight or gentleman in the fashion of the northern countries.
Suspect 3 has spectacles and gray hair. By his accent, he may be Lamordian or Falkovnian.

To collect your reward of twenty florins, bring information to the central gendarmie station.

CASH REWARD: 20 FLORINS


C: Cirdan stops to read the poster attentively, while his faces changes from red like a tomato to white like marble.

Witha theathrical gesture, he draws his dagger, and cuts the poster from the wall.

“We won’t stop until we find those vicious criminals, or will we, my filthy friend Norzak?

G: Evangeline and Charlotte stand nearby, discussing the possibility of eating at this cafe.

‘’It looks like fun! ’’

‘’My lady- they have a pig’s foot in a jar! That seems odd. ’’

Meanwhile, Bennedict has arrived at the store and home of Mattheo Barozi, a seller and collector of books of all kinds.

The sign outside the chipped and weathered marble facade reads ‘’THE MARBLE FAUN, BOOKS & SCROLLS’‘. Benn enters the shop and sees that it is much the same as when he last was here. Little motes and swirls of dust hang in the air, illuminated by the sunlight coming in through the leaded glass windows. The shop is crowded with tall wooden shelves, most of which are nearly full of books, scrolls, and parchment. Behind the front desk sits a harmless looking balding man of middle years- Mattheo Barozi, the shop’s proprietor.

[Benn knows Barozi both as a personal friend and as a business contact. Mattheo is an Invidian immigrant who arrived in the town a couple of years ago. He’s also a prominent collector of books on a wide variety of subjects. He is reputed to possess one of the better private collections of books in town. Incidentally, Benn know that Barozi lives in the upstairs loft and keeps his best books up there.]

B: Benn gives the doorframe a tap with his walking stick. “Good morning, Mattheo,” he greets the man, warmly. “Good to see the moneylenders haven’t closed you down yet. I happened to be in the neighborhood, and thought I’d stop by and say hello to my old friend.”

The archivist gives the older man a wide smile.

“Found anything interesting, recently?”

N: “Er no we won’t Elf. Cirdan yes, yes I kinna agree there.” Norzak overhears the pigs foot in a jar and rubs his tummy in anticiapation. He walks over to Evangeline and Charlotte and says “Missy ya t’aint ne’er eaten anything quite like a pig’s foot in a jar. It’s pickled I’m sure. It’s considered a delicacy amongst me people. This looks like my kinna place! I bet I kinna persuade them ta git me a nice ale ta boot! Whatta yer say missy? Wanna give the pig’s foot a try?”

G: [at the cafe]

Evangeline wrinkles her nose just a little bit. Charlotte giggles.

‘’Oh, well, I will try it.’’

She turns and enters the cafe, Charlotte quickly following.

The interior of the cafe is roomy and well lit, between the open window and a lantern suspended from a hook on the ceilling towards your left. Underneath the lantern is a long counter, with a set of wooden cabinets mounted on the wall behind it. The counter is topped with cotton napkins and the open cabinets contain wooden cups, jars of various things [including pickled pig’s feet, jam, peaches,etc]. Against the counter are several stools. Across the room to your right, facing the open windows and the riverwalk, are several small wooden tables with wicker chairs. The far wall has an half-door leading to what appears top be the kitchen. The whole place is very clean, and the walls are whitewashed. Someone has placed vases of flowers in the windows.

The place doesn’t seem too busy, at the moment, with just a few customers inside. A young girl is taking their orders.

As your party enters a heavy-set man with iron gray hair, dressed in simple workman’s clothes and a white apron, greets you thusly-

‘’Hello friends! Welcome to mah place. ’’

[at the Marble Faun]

Mattheo smiles.

‘’Interesting? Of course, Bennedict. I’ve come into possession of an illuminated Ezran hymnal from the early years of the church. Quite unique and very valuable. I may try to sell it to the church authorities here.’’

B: “Ah, well, if you think that is best.” The younger man steps up to Mattheo’s desk. “I’ve always found them to be a bit of a bore to negotiate with, myself. Very stodgy, and very tight fisted with their cash. Though I suppose they have enough of it that it’s at least worth feeling them out. I might like to take a look at it if you don’t mind. There may be some incantations worth noting contained therein. You know how such things interest me.”

He walks around to one of the shelves, glancing at the titles without interest. He knew well enough that Mattheo didn’t put the good stuff out front for the average consumer to bump into.

“While we’re on the subject, I was wondering if I could ask a favor. This town doesn’t have any public lending libraries, a real testament to their dedication to higher learning. I’m looking into something for a client, investigating the origin of some items he discovered. They may have something to do with matters of an occult nature. I know you have some texts that may be of use, so I was wondering if I could look through your private collection, to see if there is anything I can dig up?”

N: Norzak eyes the place with appreciation. It seemed a fair enough establishment, especialy if pig’s foot was made here! Then he spied the owner. Heavy-set also merant he enjoyed his own cooking meaning if he ate it, then the food had to be good! Not all cooks did that. Approaching the man, he extended his hand “Nice ta meetcha! I’m Norzak and I’m accompanying these here ladies” he points back over his shoulders at Evangeline and Charlotte “As well as tha elf. I saw ye had pig’s foot in a jar, bub. A man after me own heart ‘n’ tummy” he rubs his stomach before continuing. “Tha ladies wanna try it ‘n’ I wanna have some ‘n’ buy some fer me own personal use. Set us up with a table fer four!”

G:

[at the Marble Faun]

‘’Research, eh? Of course, of course. Here, let me find the key. ’’

Mattheo digs in his pockets till he comes up with a large brass key.

‘’You remember to watch out for that fourth stair- I’ve not yet had it fixed. Take as much time as you need. I’ll be down here, minding the store.’’

Up the narrow stairs and beyond a creaky wooden door is a large room that doubles as library and quarters for the bookseller. Shelves of books line the walls, stacked nearly full from top to bottom. What doesn’t fit on the shelves sits in chests stacked in the middle of the room. Only a small space to your left is occupied by Mattheo’s concessions to bodily comfort and necessity: a chamberpot, an old cot with a heavy blanket draped over it, some simple utensils, and a little writing desk on which stands and oil lamp [unlit]. The blinds on the rightside windows are oopen to admit sunlight.

Looking at the books, you can see that Mattheo has made some progress at the task of organizing them by subject. It’s hardly scientific, but it does mean that you won’t have to hunt through the shelves at random.


‘’Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Norzak. Mah name’s Odall . ’’

The big fellow and the young girl set a table for you all, near the window so you get plenty of sunshine and fresh air.

The cafe turns out to be an ethnic affair- they serve Arkandaler cuisine: lots of garden vegetables [including many dishes made with squash and tomatoes], cornbread, catfish, and pork. Half the food is fried. The dessert menu includes various dishes made with peaches and berries. Drinks include some weird concoction called the ‘’mint julep’’, coffee, and also a line up of more usual beverages.

G: After you are seated, Evangeline turns to Cirdan and asks-
’’What’s that notice you cut down? ’’

The door swings open and two men enter, their green surcoats marking them as gendarmes. Both men are armed with longswords and have bucklers hanging on their belts. They take up seats at the counter.

‘’Hi ,Odall’’, says one of the two- a wiry looking man with a Van Dyke style beard and mustache.

‘’Jean and I will have the usual, please. Oh, and some coffee, too. It’s been a long shift.’’

[They are sitting with their backs to you]

B: Bennedict opens his bag, pulling out the dog eared journal and setting it on the cot with his writing implements. “And now, down to the business at hand.” He turns to the rows of bookshelves, brushing his hands along the spines lovingly. One day he wanted a collection this good. Well, maybe a little better.

“Ratmen, portals beneath the city, mirrors…” he mumbles, scanning the titles for anything useful. Finaly, his eyes settle on one that is of use, pulling it free form the shelves. “Incabulos,” he mutters, dropping it open and paging through.

G: The spine reads, quite simply:

The Incabulos Cult

Nothing fancy about the covers, just plain brown leather. Inside the book, on the first page, is the full title, handwritten in an old fashioned style:

The Incabulos Cult of the North Country, a true account of the dyvers strange and terrible superstitions of that land’s inhabitants, as regards the
veneration of the demon-god Incabulos, as given by Johannes of Egertus, Year of the Gray Mists-

[at the Marble Faun]

Leafing through the pages, you see that the entire book is handwritten. Although faded and sadly water damaged in spots [no doubt before it came under Mattheo’s care] , the manuscript remains mostly legible. It is the account of a traveller from the city of Egertus- presumably the city of the same name in Nova Vaasa, although perhaps not. The dating system used is unfamiliar to you. A scribes miniscule notation in the margins indicates that the book is a copy made from the original manuscript [listed as having been copied in the Year of the Bright Standard- whenever that was.]

In the first chapter, Johannes introduces himself as a merchant caravaneer by trade, the son of a silversmith in Egertus. He goes on describe his adventures on the way to the North Country. His travels north take him into the region of Arak, a place he describes as a green and pleasant land, but inhabited by ferocious savages who force chained captives to fight to the death in earthen pits- merely to provide an amusing spectacle at feasts. In passing, he mentions a few local curiosities, such as the custom of drinking wine mixed with mare’s blood, and the practice of divination by examining the entrails of specially raised temple doves. The people of Arak warned him of the demon-worshippers of the North Country.

In the following chapters, Johannes writes of how the caravan pushed through the foothills of the mountains and reached at last the North Country, a region of forests interspersed with moors and meadowlands. The Mists were never very far away there, and several members of the expedition went missing , swallowed in banks of fog. The people they encountered along the trail were simple farmers and herdsmen who told them of larger towns futher to the northwest, places they might be able to make a profit with the trade goods they’ve carried up from the southlands. Deeper into that unknown country went the little caravan…

Far through the wild woods, and along a rushing river, they came at last to the settlement of Karg, a palisade-ringed town and center of both trade and agriculture for the region.

The inhabitants, Johannes tells us, did indeed practice strange rites, as the Arakians had warned him. They sacrificed their own children to a demon-monster called Incabulos, entombing one child each year at the start of the harvest season in a place called the Pit of Nightmares. What exactly happened in the Pit, no one would tell, but they did say that no remains were found of the sacrificed children when the Pit was reopened after a fortnight. No remains, but only scratches left by the children’s frantic attempts to escape. It is believed , so Johannes records it, that Incabulos will become angry should the sacrifice ever fail to be made in the proper time and manner, and will send dooms down upon the people.

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Mists Over the Musarde Chapter 1 Part 3

B: “If this place is not to your liking, herr elf, you have obviously not been in Pont-a-Museau for long. You will find far more buildings in even worse a state of repair than this scattered throughout. In any case, I do not believe we will remain here for long.” He casts a sideways glance at their reluctant companion. “That assumes cooperation on your part, monsieur.”

Bennedict then leads the motley crew to a secluded room in the building, and waits for others to get settled before asking questions.

G: The room is about half of the third floor- enough space for everyone in the party to comfortably stretch his legs and walk about. A door, loose on its hinges and half rotted away, hangs loose on sqeaking hinges. The only other egress is a shuttered window that faces the main boulevard. Three large wooden chests are stacked against the far wall. Some random furniture lies scattered about the chamber, in various states of disrepair. A faint odor of persimmons fills the air.

Renault has torn a strip of cloth from his blue cloak atop the middle chest with his back against the far wall, he looks about at you, his captors.

He speaks,

‘’This is about the shipment, of course. I told Clement that was an accident, blast it! I’ve never cheated him- does he think I am a fool? Why don’t you men let me go? Tell your boss I’ll recompense him for everything that was lost. I just need a little more time.’’

N: " We ain’t here bout no shipment, ya dullard" Norzak spits on the ground then continues. “People nabbin’ wimmin taint no better than murderers. I don’t care bout no shipment ‘n’ I don’t surely care ‘bout yer health. Gimme a reason to keep ya in one piece, otherwise ya start losin’ digits. After that I think I’d like ta use yer body as a sharpness tester….. See how I kinna puncture skin n bone with me blade.”

Norzak advances on Renault and moves his hand to the scabbard at his hip.

G: ‘’Not about the shipment? ’’

Renault looks confused for a moment, but Norzak’s words seem to clear things up.

‘’Women? You mean the girl- the red head? Why should you care? I’m sure you’re no relation to her, dwarf. ’’

N: Norzak stands right in front of Renault, eyes on the man’s. Faster than the blue cloak can react, Norzak’s hand flies out and he grabs the man by his partials. “You sicken me, mack.” His hand near to his scabbard, removes his short sword. “Just like ye’ve no care for wimmin, I’ve no care for you, ya dimbulb. Now pray to whatever god ya pray to, else I lop yer head off.”

The short sword touches the man’s neck, barely nicking it, showing Renault he means business. “Careful how ye talk to me, I might slip n end it now.”

G: Norzak’s sudden assault throws Renault into a panicky fit of apologies and oaths-

‘’Merciful Ezra! Please , no! See here, I’ll tell you whatever you want to know, just let me go. I won’t bother Evangeline again, I swear it!’’

C: Cirdan will gently nudge Renault with the tip of his sword.

“More etiquette, Sir, or you’ll find one hanging from your toe.
Just stop making noise.”

G: Renault quiets down.

‘’You have my word I won’t bother the girl. I’ll pay you to let me go free. What else do you want? ’

C: “Who’s that Clement you are talking about? – And what accident? – Why do you engage in criminal activities when your butt is apparently worth a price to someone? – And, indeed, how much?”

Cirdan suddenly stops and, in resignation, puts a hand over his eyes.

“I think I am getting a slight headache. You go on questioning that peasant.”

B: Bennedict’s eyebrows shoot up inquisitively. “So you know the mademoiselle in question? Perhaps you should begin there, sir, and make it fast. If the dwarf has made anything clear today, it is that he has a bizarre fetish for cutting off body parts, and is quite eager to act upon it.”

N: Norzak grins evilly at Bennedict. “Maybe, I collect them.” He laughs maniacally and looks at Renault.

G: Renault looks dejected.

‘’Blast! I’ve said too much already. Well, I’ll answer you, since it seems I’ve got no choice but to talk. ’’

Renault wipes his sweat soaked face before continuing-

‘’I know Evageline and her family through my trading business. I’ve always wanted her, I won’t deny it. Her father rejected any talk of a union. Ha! He never scrupled to do business with me when there was a profit to be had- but his daughter was too good for my sort.

I lost a shipment of tobacco in a boat fire several days ago. I was contracted to bring it to Clement Malreux. He is very angry that I’d lost the tobacco, and wants the advance money back. I am not in a good financial situation, and am unable to pay him back out of my own pocket.

My plan was to have Evangeline kidnapped, and then demand a fat ransom for her safe return. I’d heard that her father had recently come into quite a lot of money. I figured I could pay off Malreux and get back at the Sancerres for their ill treatment of me.’’

B: Bennedict sighs. “It would appear Evangeline’s father was more correct in his assesment of you than you give him credit. You may wish to give your illicit plans a bit more effort in the future, sir. Or at least be more discriminate in who you hire to perpetrate them.”

G: Renault slowly rises to his feet. He pulls a bejeweled ring from a finger and sets it atop the chest to his right.

‘’There is my ransom, such as I can pay. I’ve answered all your questions. Now, I must leave. I need to have a chirugeon look at this cut.’’

C: “We cannot let him go”, Cirdan muses to himself. “He would sell us on our enemies when he first got the chance. – Dwarf, can you remove a human’s tongue without inflicting too much unnecessary pain?”

G: ‘’AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!’’

Renault shrieks like a madman and rushes to the window. He’s trying to open the shutters!

N: Norzak bolts nto action as fast as his legs can carry him, he unsheathes his short sword and runs after Renault.

C: Cirdan won’t try to go after the miserable criminal, just quietly grin to himself.

B: “Now see here,” Bennedict shouts, rising to his feet. “You have no more right to harm this man than he had to endanger Evangeline.”

With that he tries to step betwen the dwarf and Renault to intervene on the man’s behalf.

G: Bennedict is able to move quickly enough to interpose himself between Norzak and Renault- foiling the dwarf’s attempt to stab the man.

Renault smashes open the shutters with his fists and leaps out the window! You all hear his terrified shriek as he plummets towards the ground- ending a few seconds later with a sickening CRUNCH.

Anyone who looks down out of the window will see Renault, the tatters of his blue cloak wrapped around his head and shoulders, lying motionless at the base of the tower.

SCRATCH….SCRATCH….

A little noise can be heard coming from inside the chest on which Renault had lately been seated.

B: Bennedict looks in slack jawed horror for a moment at the crumpled form of the man lying at the base of the tower. Coming to his senses, however, he quickly ducks out of sight from the street-facing window, jabbing an accusatory finger toward the dwarf.

“I hope you are pleased with yourself. You seem to have made us into murderers now.”

He is so preoccupied that he pays little notice to the scratching sound, given that the sound of rats crawling in woodwork is an everyday occurence in this place.

N: “I am pleased with myself. He deserved that and more. And moreover…” Norzak pauses as he hears th scratch scratch from inside the chest. “What the…?” He approaches the chest and with his short sword in his hand, he prods the chest almost as if testing to see if it was alive, senses alert.

G: The scratching noise inside the chest stops abruptly.

B: Bennedict peers around a corner of the window, looking closer at Renault. “It’s just a rat. They’re everywhere in this city. What are we going to do about this man.”

G: [Ben sees al this from the window. Others who come to the window will also see it. Everyone can hear the sounds and voices described]

Renault’s limp body lies where it had fallen. His form gives no sign of life, although you are to far away to be certain.

Just then, you all become aware of the sound of footfalls outside the tower, accompanied by a soft whistling tune. It sounds as if someone is approaching from around the lefthand street corner.

A ragged man walks into view. He’s carrying some sort of a staff, with small , dark shapes dangling from near the top.

As the man nears the corner, he turns from the street and cuts across the yard below the tower. He’s walking straight towards Renault!

N: “Dagnabbit! What we do now? This ain’t lookin too good. Let’s scram from here ‘n’ get to seein this ladies poppa on the morrow.” Norzak moves away from the window and heads as quietly as he can to the stairs.

B: Perhaps it is the odd timing of the man’s arrival, or perhaps it is his odd appearance, but Bennedict hesitates to move from the window, wanting to observe what transpires below. “I will meet you there tomorrow, herr dwarf.” He mutters quietly, trying to take in every detail of the scene below.

C: Cirdan has watched the scene with curiousity…

Finally, he gives a deep sigh. “Humans…”

He’ll then join his comrades in walking out of the building…

G: The ragged man stops walking as he draws near Renault. He looks around. Then he looks up at the open window. He bends down to take a closer look at the fallen man. The stranger is speaking to himself- although his voice isn’t loud, the night is still and quiet, so it carries well.

‘’Must have fallen- or were ye pushed? Dead, that’s certain. Best if I fetch the gendarmes.’’

The man turns and moves off at a brisk trot.

Anyone who gets a good look at him will see:

IMAGE

It is a warm summer afternoon in Pont-a-Museau, where our heroes are to meet the family Sancerre, and receive the thanks of the father of Evangeline, a young lady they rescued from ruffians the night before…

The Sancerre residence stands at the western terminus of the Street of the Clotheirs. It is an impressive structure of stone and oak, with a terra cotta tiled roof. All about the property stands a tall fence of wrought iron, pierced by a broad gate at the front. A pretty garden lies in the front yard, with blooming lilacs, daffodlis, and tulips. A walkway of red bricks leads from the gate through the garden to the front door.

In the garden, a small party is sitting on marble benches making conversation. A number of servants stand in attendance.

N: As Norzak approches the estate he wonders what this man will tell them. Bah humans! Soon as she was of age I’d of sent her ta work tha mines or sommeat else. They ony undserstand gold ‘n’ their own pursuits of power…. As he walks up to the estate he stops and spits in his hands. Then he tries to mat back his messly lump of hair with it. Now his hair looks a bit better, but he still hasn’t bathed in near how long and even before he is before Evangeline they knew he was there just by the smell.

B: Bennedict watches as the dwarf enters the estate, still on edge and expecting to be imprisoned at any moment for Renault’s unfortunate death the evening prior. He shakes his head at Norzak’s unkempt appearance, wondering whether the family will turn him away at the gates or simply shuffle him around the party and do their best to pretend not to be offended by the odor. It was times like these Ben regretted not studying arcane magic. A simple cantrip would help his general appearance immensely.

Then again, Bennedict was fairly certain he saw the dwarf cast a sleep spell the day before, so perhaps Norzak’s choice of appearance was deliberate. In any case the archivist muses he’ll stick out no more than the elf or the calliban. Resolving himself to another evening of hurriedly covering for the social faux paus of demihumans, he strides through the gates into the manner house.

Lengthening his stride, he catches up with the short-legged dwarf and walks beside him. “Herr Norzak,” the archivist begins, “I was wondering if you could assist me in a matter. The ruffians we defeated the evening prior were carrying an odd stone, one I was wondering if you, given your people’s inclination for working underground, could help me identify.” Bennedict reaches into his pocket and retrieves one of the objects he recovered from the alley, showing it to the dwarf.

N: Norzak puts out his hand and holds the stone that Benn hands to him. He inspects it closely seeing if he notices anything odd about it. In a low voice he says “Ye say ye found this on one a them idjits from lass night, lad? I’d like to look at it when we’re not in front ‘o these here rich varmints. I think y’ad agree on that as well, Bennedict. I think I’ll call ye Benn fer short tis a mite easier on me vocabulary.” Norzak winks at Bennedict and guffaws.

N: The dwarf’s sudden serious change in tone grabs Bennedict’s attention. “We may speak with it at your leisure, sir. I am merely glad to have found someone who recognizes it.” He looks around. “Do you see any sign of the other gentlemen from last evening?”

G: As Bennedict and Norzak stand talking with one another, two serving men approach them. Both men bow and the elder of the two adresses Norzak and Bennedict thusly:

‘’Esteemed guests, I welcome you to the home of the Sancerres. If either of you would like, perhaps, to first refresh yourselves after your day’s exertions, I can take you to the necessary facilities. I am certain Mesieur Sancerre will be pleased to delay your meeeting a few moments longer. out of consideration for your needs. ’’
The servant is looking straight at Norzak for most of his speech. He sniffs the air delicately, and clears his throat.

’’Ahem’’

N:Norzak looks straight back at the servant with a serious look “What ya keep lookin at me fer like that?” He sniffs under his arms then says to the servant. “Nah, I’ll be fine. It ain’t been a year yet since me last bath. I kinna wait another month fer me next one. Hey did yer never seen a dwarf before, bub?” He pauses then adds.“Ain’t pOlite ta stare I bin taught so keep yer eyes ta yerself. And I ain’t exerted meself today, this is my natural state.”

G: The servant blushes bright red.

‘’Forgive me if I have offended you. I simply thought you might enjoy a refreshing wash, sir. ’’

The servant executes a simple bow to Norzak, then motions towards Eanglkeine and the older red haired man sitting on the garden benches.

‘’My master awaits us. If you require nothing further, shall we go to him now, gentlemen?’’

N: “Yep that’s what we’s here for after all. Might as well see what the” and he exaggerates the name at this “M – A – S – T – E – R wants huh? Don’t wanna keep his royal highness waitin after all” and he rolls his eyes at this. He does follow the servant though, curious as to what this Evangeline’s father might want to offer them.

G: Evangeline rises to greet you as you approach.

‘’Ah, my heroes! Father, these are two of the men who saved me. ’’

Her father rises to his feet and addresses you both.

‘’ Thank you so much for protecting my daughter. Thank Ezra you stout fellows were on hand when she was…Forgive me! I’ve not even properly introduced myself.’’

The big red-haired man extends an open hand towards you each in turn.

‘’Denys Sancerre. My home is yours.’’

B: “Charmed, herr Sancerre,” Bennedict shakes the man’s hand. “I’m sure Norzak and I were just happy we were there and could be of service.”

Inwardly, Bennedict hopes that perhaps no one brings up just how little service the archivist was, during the event in question. At least not until after the rewards are distributed, anyways.

N: Norzak grips the man’s hand firmly, gauging the grip he gets in return, while eyeing the man straight in the eyes. Satisfied he says “Well twer nuthin, really. I always say ya kinna get tha measure of a man by hims handshake and hows his eyes are. Ya look good enuff fer me. Norzak’s me name. N’ twas a pleasure takin care ‘o’ them there varmints, bub.”

G: Evangeline turns to Bennedict and asks,

‘’Where is Sir Cirdan?’’

Denys smiles at Norzak’s comments.

‘’I gauge men in the same way. As a merchant, I deal with all sorts, and being able to read your man comes in most handy. Speaking of work, what trade do you practice?’’

N: Norzak thinks about that a moment before replying. “Well ta be honest, I jess got here in this here town. I traveled from Darkon ta see the lands and live a little. You might say I’m a jack of a few trades, yet not one in particular. I ain’t decided as of yet what I wanna do as a profession. Leaves my options open that way ya might say.”

G: ‘’ Well, if you are looking for employment, I’m sure I can help you. We should eat and drink before even thinking to talk of business, though. Shall we? ’’

Denys orders his servants to bring some wine, sandwiches, and extra chairs and small tables for his guests.

Evangeline makes pleasant conversation with everyone present, but keeps looking back towards the gate and staring at some point just beyond it.

C:
Late again, by Hextor’s filthy beard!

Cirdan suddenly bursts into the room.

“I apologize, Mylady, gentle Sirs… I was stuck in traffic.”

N: Norzak finds the food good enough, but the wine makes his nose wrinkle. Not bothering with manners(Dwarves aren’t known for their manners anyways) he grabs a passing serveant by his clothed arm and asks. “Hey bub, did yer got any ale? Wine ain’t something I’d consider even if I was in a pinch. Thanks.”

G: The garden party is moved into the house for dinner. The dining hall is well appointed, decorated with beautiful tapestries and tastefully carved woodwork. West facing windows are opened to allow the late afternoon sunlight and the pleasant smelling garden air to enter the room.

A servant brings Norzak a tall glass pitcher, filled to the brim with ale. He also brings a stoneware mug for Norzak’s use. The ale is quite good, with a creamy head and smooth but strong flavor.

Evangeline seems overjoyed that Sir Cirdan has arrived-

‘’Oh , I’m so glad you were able to come!’’

B: Bennedict glares somewhat in irritation at Evangeline’s back as she brushes him off and moves towards the elf. Perhaps if I carried myself like an offacious ponce she could spare me a moment of attention. He accepts a glass of wine, taking in the drink’s aroma appreciatively before giving it an experimental sip.

Hearing Master Sancerre’s conversation with Norzak, Bennedict steps away from Cirdan and the fawning debutante to converse with the adults. “My name is Bennedict Gehrman, herr Sancerre. I am an antiquities broker, acquiring artifacts as well as more contemporary items for succesful gentleman such as yourself. As it happens, I am currently between jobs and looking for a new client.” Bennedict arches an eyebrow suggestively at the merchant, taking another sip of the surprisingly tart Chardonnay.

G: Denys turns his attention to Ben.

‘’Well, as it happens I’m something of a collector myself. I will show you my collection after dinner, if you like. If you are indeed looking for work, I would be happy to place you on retainer. There are always things on which I’d like expert advice and help.’’

B: Bennedict perks up at this welcome news. “Ah, that would be most agreeable, sir. May I ask what you collect, primarily?” In the back of his mind, Bennedict hears the sound of coins falling into his pocket. "I trust you will find my advice to be sufficiently “expert” to fit your needs."

G: ‘’My interests are rather eclectic, so my collection is broad. Lately, I’ve become enamoured of Hazlani tea services. Lovely work in silver and brass, I’ll have to show you.’’

Denys smiles pleasantly while speaking of his collection.

The main course is served; roast quail, broiled potatoes, a garnish of leeks, and slices of good brown bread. Wine is brought for all, except Norzak- a servant refills his pitcher with more of the excellent ale.

It’s getting closer to sunset now, with light through the windows taking on a rosy hue. Oustide, you can hear crickets chirping. A gentle breeze blows in from the garden, carrying with it the scent of flowers.

C: Cirdan will quickly try to engage Evangeline into one his usual “let’s pretend it’s a conversation but I am really just trying to tell you how cool I am” moments.

At the table, he’ll sit as far away as possible from Norzak (no offense, but we all know how dwarves eat), and eat quietly, but noticeably quickly.

Must have been some time sinec he last good something warm for his belly…

G: Evangeline is intent on Sir Cirdan, hanging on his every word.

‘’Oh, you are so brave!’’

The evening progress pleasantly, with wine and conversation flowing freely. Dinner is finished and cleared away.

Looking out the window, one can see the dying blaze of the sun in the west. It will be fulll dark soon.

Denys Sancerre rises and addresses the party,

‘’Gentlemen, if you haven’t pressing business elsewhere, I’d be most honored if you would consent to be my guests for the night. ’’

N: Norzak rolls his eyes at Evangeline’s behaviour towards Cirdan. Muttering into his ale “T’aint no wimmin if she ain’t got no beard anyhow, BAH!” He takes a deep swig of his tankard and gets a refill. Belching rather loudly, he uncermoniously wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. “Good ale ye got, Denys. ‘N I’ll take ye up on yer offer. ’N tha meal was perty good too!” He pats his stomach in appreciation and takes another healthy swig.

G: Your host has become quite jolly, possibly from the not inconsiderable amount of wine he’s quaffed over the course of the evening.

’’I’m pleased to hear it, Norzak. I hope your companions will be able to stay, as well. ’’

Denys Sancerre rises from the table.

’’I’ll be right back, I’ve got something I want to show you all.’’

Evangeline is chatting with Sir Cirdan-

‘’What sort of horse do you ride? Is he very big and strong?’’

B: While enjoying the meal, Bennedict has been very careful not to overindulge in the wine, fine though it may be. As he saw the elder Sancerre getting further and further into his cups, Bennedict slowly started drinking less and less, letting the man get fully under the influence while the archivist remained clear headed and ready to take advantage of any openings the man gave. One never knows when an opportunity will present itself, after all, and Benn had taken advantage of a detail a patron had let slip unintentionally on more than one occasion.

Still, he found the evening to be agreeable enough, though he wasn’t sure what was implied by the master of the house’s invitation. Odd that he would invite strangers to remain in his home for the evening, he thinks. Especially given the oddity of the aforementioned strangers. Bennedict watches as Norzak picked the remainders of dinner out of his messy tangle of beard, popping the pieces of meat and cheese into his mouth after clearing off most of the hair. Still, we have business to discuss, so I will remain for a short while, at least.

G: Evangeline’s father returns carrying a wooden coffer. He sets it down on the table.

‘’ Here it is.’’

The small box is built of hardwood, possibly oak, with handsome brass fittings, lock, and latch.

Denys fumbles with the key for a moment, before opening the coffer. The interior is padded with velvet a shade of blue so dark it appears almost black. Lying within can be seen three items: a silver key, a roll of yellowed parchment tied with a green ribbon, and a curiously crafted mirror.

B: “Uh, that’s very interesting,” Bennedict says, with a quizzical expression. “May I ask what the significance of these items is?”

G: ‘’ Last month I directed my workers to collect some decoratively carved marble from an empty building in the neighborhood. In doing so, they came across a hidden space within the walls. Inside, they found these three items. I was present at the time of discovery, and I immediately took them into my possession. ’’

Denys takes a long draught of wine from his unsteady cup.

‘’Take a look in the mirror….’

B: Bennedict quickly racks his mind for any mirror related stories of the supernatural. Not wishing to appear rude in front of his host, however, he squints and stares into the mirror’s surface with an analytical eye.

G: Denys turns to Nozrak and asks-

‘’Friend Norzak, I understand dwarves have a certain knack for locating hidden treasures. People say you do it by smell. Is that true?’’

B: Bennedict’s head tilts quizzically to the side at the odd sight reflected in the mirror. Not really hearing Denys’s question to Norzak, he drums his fingers eagerly on the table in front of him, twitching to reach out and touch the objects. “That is truly unique, herr Sancerre. May I perhaps be permitted to examine it more closely?”

N: Norzak stares at Denys. “That we can smell hidden treasures? I dunno where ya done heard that, but t’aint no truth in it. We might be good at mining ‘n’ working tha stone, but ‘tis all. Whoever tole ya that prolly had too much ta drink ’n’ made it up!”

B: Denys replies to Ben-

‘’Of course you may examine it further. This is something that’s been on my mind since the secert space was uncovered and these items retrieved. I’m not sure if the key and the scroll are related, but it might be so- someone hid all three rogether, after all. I wonder what the key opens….’’

and to Norzak-

‘’Ha! I suspected it might be merely a legend.’’

C: Cirdan has been busy eating, like if he had been starved, all the while busily nodding to everything his companions say.

In one of the rare moments his mouth is empty enough that he may talk,
he responds to Evangeline: “I ride a white stallion, named Achilles. I took it from the first giant I slew. He had wanted to grill it like a steak, but I saved it.”

B: Almost as soon as Denys finishes speaking, Benn’s hands eagerly dart forward towards the mirror. He lifts it gingerly from the tabletop, holding it between his fingertips at arm’s length. He tilts the mirror and turns it, watching the odd background closely to see if, by moving the mirror, any other clues from the background of the mystery room might be revealed.

Additionally, he mutters the words to a prayer of revealing, hoping to detect any magical auras on the mirror, scroll, and/or key.

G: Evangline smiles happily at Sir Cirdan’s response.

‘’Achilles, what a splendid name for a horse. A giant- oh my, that must have been very frightening. I suppose not to a hero like you, though. I would have been terrified! ’’

Evangeline pauses a moment to take a sip of her wine.

‘’ I’ve read that the king of Darkon is a powerful sorcerer who lives in an enchanted castle. Have you been to his court? Is it very grand?’’

N: Norzak perks up at the casting of Benn’s spell. Though he had no interest in a mirror, if it was magical that was a completely different story. I could bring it back to Darkon for an offering…… Yes…. it’d be mighty pleased with me then…. Hmmmm….

He coughs and looks at Benn and nods, letting him know he’d heard. He mouths “Lemme know” to the big man and waits.

C: Cirdan sighs. Time to be honest. “Lamentably, not. I visited his summer residence once, with my father, but the king was apparently ill, or absent for some other reason, and we were commanded to leave. However, each one of us was given a silver cup that now adornates my parent’s cupboard in our castle’s hall. – If you want, I can take you some day!”

G: Evangeline seems impressed by Sir Cirdan’s account.

’’I’d love to go and visit Darkon! I’ve spent nearly my whole life here in Richemulot. Papa did take me on a riverboat trip to Arkandale when I was a little girl. I remember it was very hot and humid, and that the people spoke with a strange accent. They had HUGE riverboats that belched smoke like angry dragons. I’m afraid that’s all the far-way travelling I’ve done.’’

B: Completely ignoring Norzak, Cirdan, and the fauning Evangeline, Benn stands up from the dinner table, still holding the object before him. “Herr Sancerre, I believe all 3 of these objects are magical. Remarkable.” Staring intently into the glassy surface and trying to mentally record every image. Even more strangely, Bennedict starts walking backwards, not even looking at where he’s going rather than simply staring at the image in the mirror.

G: Denys speaks-

‘’Magical! I suspected the mirror was, of course- but the key and scroll as well! ’’

B: Benn’s eyes never leave the mirror. “Indeed, all 3 of them. The mirror seems to be a tool for divination, perhaps a scrying instrument of some sort…” His voice drifts off as he comes to a halt, pivoting in both directions. “Really quite fascinating,” he mumbles and starts walking backwards again, after making a 90 degree turn to the left.

G: Evangeline becomes distracted by Benn’s antics.

‘’What is your friend doing, Sir Cirdan? It’s quite peculiar.’’

G: Norzak’s mention of stonework has steered his host’s ramblings in a new direction:

‘’You see, we don’t need to work from scratch here. Oh no, the Old People left us plenty of fine buildings. We just refurbish those. The ones that time has laid low are quarried for their stones, so little is wasted. Every once in a while, we come caross something queer- as when my men found these-’’

He indicates the key and scroll, adding a sloppy wave in Benn’s direction.

‘’I wonder if they are from the Old People. It might be so. That hidden space looked like it had been sealed for a long time. Of course, I’m not a mason. I don’t know too much about such things.’’

B: Bennedict is continuing to walk backwards, despite the no doubt confused stares from the rest of the room. Just as he is about to bump into one of the walls of the room, however, he stops moving. His eyes unfocus and glaze over for a moment, before Bennedict finally snatches his eyes away from the reflection. He blinks rapidly, seeming for a moment to come back from a deep sleep. He quickly snatches a handkerchief from his jacket pocket, draping it over the face of the mirror and setting it down on one of the tables. He pauses for a moment longer, scratching at the corner of his mustache thoughtfully, before finally lifting his gaze back up to the rest of the room, finally noticing Evangeline and the rest of the people in the room staring at him quizzically.

G: Denys turns away from his rambling conversation with the dwarf and asks Ben,

‘’What did you see? The strange room, yes, but something else besides?’’

N: “Was it like ya had eyes behind yer head? That’s what it looked like ta me, Benn.”

C: Cirdan nods to Evangeline. “If you excuse me a moment, mylady, I will find out.”

Cirdan stands up and girts his sword.

“Is there any danger, my friend?”

B: Benn casts a wary glance down at the mirror concealed under the handkerchief. “No immediate danger, I believe. If the mirror posed some sort of peril, I would assume it would have acted by now upon Herr Sancerre.” Hearing Norzak’s question, he turns to answer him. “No, not eyes in the back of my head. I was merely using the mirror to navigate. Walking backwards through whatever…castle or tower can be seen on the other side of the looking glass. The area seemed benign enough, but still, I would be cautious before looking into it in the future. I can’t be certain of what I saw, but I’m fairly confident that someone may have been looking back thought it at me, someone with the power to affect in some way those who use the mirror.” He scratches his mustache thoughtfully. “There are legends of such beings, of course, but nothing that can be relied upon, fragmentary tales of witches and the like. Probably concocted by some country folk to explain why their crops died off…” Bennedict’s voice drops to a mumble, obviously traveling along his train of thought and not bothering to wait for the others in the room to keep up. At last he looks up. “I would like to examine the scroll and key as well, if it be permitted, herr Sancerre.”

View
Mists Over the Musarde Chapter 1 Part 2

GM: The man grunts in pain as the dwarf’s fist smashes into his groin, twice. He whimpers a bit, then says-

‘’Please, no more! I truly do not know the name of the man who hired us. He said we should bring the girl to him, at the Goats, this very night. Paid us coin up front for her, and promised more when the job was done.’’

When asked for a description of the blue cloaked man, he repeats what he said earlier, with some added detail-

‘’Big fellow, blue cloak, black beard…eyes were green, I think…had a ring on his left hand, silver with an emerald..please, I don’t know anything else, I swear!’’

The man looks toward Bennedict with stark fear written over his features.

‘’Oh yes! I’ll tell the others we should get a different line of work, just as you say. This business is too dangerous. We won’t trouble the lady again, I promise.’’

Bennedict: “Now, now, gentlemen. This is beginning to feel a touch too much like vigilante justice, which I’m fairly certain the local law frowns upon. Either we escort this gentleman to a local law office and turn him over to the gendarme, or we let him go. He obviously knows little more than what he’s telling us.”

Bennedict continues to frown in disaproval, considering routes to get away from this strangely violent duo.

GM: The door to the tavern across the street [from whence our hero Cirdan entered the scene] swings open, spilling warm light out across the cobblestones. A small crowd is beginning to gather just inside the doorway, peering out with curious faces.

Norzak: “Awright then” Norzak sighs “Yer right. Let’s take this mangy rat to a guard station n be done with the sorry sap.”

Leon: " I believe this poor soul should not trouble you any further mademoiselle, he should be disappearing right now from your sight. "

Léon drops the thug to the ground and replaces his hat, hiding his face in the shadows of the alley.

" It is time for me to leave. Feel free to escort this fellow, gentlemen. I’d rather stay far from guard stations and from those spectators.
Aurevoir"

The large caliban executes a graceful salute and starts walking toward a darker alley, brushing off dust off his outfit at the same time.

Norzak: “Hey! Wait a tick. WHatsay we go to this Goat Inn n have us some fun? T’aint no fun drinking by meself anyways.” Looking at Bennedict “Wanna take this thug to the guard post? Like that fella there, I might not be welcome. We kin meet up at the Goat Inn after. Whatta ya say, man?”

GM: Evangeline , still grasping Sir Cirdan’s arm, speaks to the group.

‘’Gentlemen, allow me to invite you all, on my father’s behalf, to call at our home tomorrow evening. I’m sure he’ll be delighted to meet my rescuers and thank each of you in person.’’

Bennedict: Bennedict grasps the man by the arm, pulling him as roughly to his feet as he can, saying “Certainly, herr dwarf. And if you are going to the Sign of the Goat perhaps I shall see you there later as well.”

He turns to respond to the lady’s statement. “That would be wonderful, madame. Where would your father’s home be located?”

GM: Evangeline replies to Bennedict’s question :

‘’It stands at the west end of the Street of the Clothiers. The house is tall, with a red tile roof. ’’

Leon: Léon removes his hat, bows gracefully and says " Your invitation is an honor and I will gladly be there if your father isn’t bothered by my kind."

He then lowers his voice to a whisper " I believe it is time for an ale. We can’t miss the opportunity to learn about this blue cloaked crook…oui? "

Raising an eyebrow towards Bennedict, Léon says “Would you need a hand to escort this thug closer to a guard station..monsieur..?”

Norzak: “He kin take the dimwitted doornail there. A few pints with me name on em await me at the Goat! I hope ya kin drink, boy-o cuz I got me a thirst!” Rubbing his hefty abdomen which has probably seen a few tankards of ale in its time. “Yeah we’ll see ya later at the Goat, bub. And even the cretin arrives a little worse for the wear, I’m sure after ye explain to them what happened, he might be weven worse for the wear after they get through with ‘im. Kidnappin a noble’s daughter of all the harebrained schemes!! WHen they was givin’ out brains ye got rocks eh boy?” he adresses the thug.

BAH! Off with him then, I heard the ale call me name!!” Looking to Léon he grins. “Cmon then, let’s go get a tankard ‘n’ find this blue caped goon who’s soon gonna wish he t’aint never been born!” Norzak guffaws good heartedly as he and Léon head for the Goat.

Cirdan: Cirdan listens with mild interest, then addresses Evangeline.

“Mylady, if it is your wish, I will escort you home.”

GM: Evangeline nods and says,

‘’Yes, thank you Sir Cirdan.’’

Then the pair of them walk off into the night, Evangeline still holding Cirdan’s arm.

As for the battered and bruised woman-snatcher, he gives Norzak, Leon, and Bennedict no trouble whatever. The guard post is less than an hour’s walk away. At no point does the man even look like he’s thinking about running away or fighting back. When you turn him over to the gendarmes, the poor fellow looks a little less frightened, but obviously still very unhappy.

The green jacketed gendarmes at the station [a stoutly built house of stone , standing on a street corner, with narrow windows and a heavy brass-banded oak door] is happy enough to take your word the man is a miscreant of some sort and has him hauled into the rear of the building.

The gendarme officer on duty [a distinguished looking fellow with a neatly trimmed goatee and mustasche] speaks with Bennedict, ignoring Norzak and Leon.

‘’Thank you for helping us out. There are too many of these scum running loose. Don’t worry about it- the civic courts know how to handle his kind.’’

Bennedict: “Very good, very good.” Bennedict murmurs, somewhat uncomfortable himself to be this close to the law. “One point of interest however, before I go. I noticed someone in the scuffle dropping this, and I am not certain if it is pertinent to the incident or not.” Bennedict fishes around in his bag, feeling for one of the dark stones he discovered at the scene of the attack, and handing it to the gendarme. “Do you have any idea what this is?”

GM: The officer takes the rock. He examines it closely for a moment, then hands it back to Ben.

‘’Just a rock, I suppose. Doesn’t look valuable to me. You might as well keep it. Maybe it’s someone’s lucky stone, eh?’’

-at the Sign of the Two Goats….

The Goats stands along the Drover’s Way, in the west end of town. The pub is a two storey rectangular building fronting the street, with a rubble filled lot behind it. One gets the impression the original structure was much larger and more impressive, but centuries of neglect and abandonment have taken their toll on the former glory of the place [indeed, much of the city of Pont-a-Museau seems like this, as if the busy activity of the inhabitants is only postponing a final collapse into ruin]. The facade of the pub is decorated with mismatched bits of sculpted stone, marble gargoyles and smiling girls, all worn and weathered by centuries of rain and wind. Glowing lanterns hang just outside the doorway. Above the door to the left, hangs a handpainted wooden sign. Two goats are depicted thereon, butting heads. Candleight from within shines through the green tinted glass windowpanes. Music and laughter can be heard- someone is playing a fiddle, and the guests sound as if they are having a good time.

[inside the Goats]

The interior is one large room, with a back doorway leading to what is presumably the kitchen[ a serving girl is coming out with a plate of fried fish and earth apples]. A long bar stands against the back wall. Behind it hang racks of wine bottles, kegs of ale and small beer, and rows of wooden mugs sitting on shelves. Tables and chairs are scattered about the room. About half are occupied. The crowd looks pretty low class, dressed as common laborers. A few are better dressed. Most of the folk seem to be in good spirits. The west end[ to the left as you enter] of the room is dominated by a big brick fireplace, but only a small fire is burning in it [it is summer , after all- so it’s warm enough outside]. Seated near the fire, an old man is playing the fiddle.

Norzak: Norzak walks into the Inn. Slowing at the door he spies the interior, and liking the looks of the fireplace, he walked over and sat at a chair, with his back to the wall, giving him a good view of the interior of the Inn.

Soon as a host approached he says “I’ll have a pint an keep em coming. Better be better n tha last place I had an ale” and slides a few coins across the table to the waitress. He looks around the Inn for a blue cloaked man.

GM: The serving girl seems repelled by Norzak- although whether due to his race or simply his poor hygiene, it’s hard to tell. She hangs back a bit, not coming too close to him as he orders his drinks. Taking the coins , she quickly fetches Norzak a pint of ale. The stuff’s a tad weak by Dwarvish standards, naturally, but it’s pretty good for these parts.

As Norzak looks about, he spots a blue cloak hanging on an empty chair near the bar.

Leon: Léon waits a few minutes outside..Still wondering what he is really doing there.

Now let’s hope I do not make a bad impression.

As he enters the Inn, the caliban tries his best not to attract too much attention. He chooses a seat near the fireplace where he can watch the fiddler and look at who’s inside the Goats.

Sitting on his undersized chair, Léon raises his hat to the serving girl.

GM: The serving girl looks at Leon, blinks, then nods and speaks:

‘’Allo, m’siuer. What will it be for you tonight’’. She has a pronounced Richemuloise accent, quite different from the way folks in Dementlieu speak the language.

She seems like she’s just a little bit frightened of Leon, but is taking it rather well. She’s not shaking, just a little pale.

You’ll notice that Norzak is sitting near to the fire. Seeing him in better lighting , he looks like he needs a bath [smells like it, too].

An old fiddler is seated near the fire, as well. He has now stopped playing and set down his fiddle. A serving boy brings him a glass of wine and some food [cold ham, sliced thin and glazed with honey- also some kind of whitish cheese and black bread].

The other patrons [the place is about half full, you’d say] are studiously ignoring the two non-humans in their midst [Leon and Norzak] and amusing themselves by drinking, playing cards or dice, and telling jokes and stories. Most are dressed in the garb of common laborers and tradesmen, with a few well dressed [but not too flashy] fellows mixed in. Several women are present. Many of these women are busy flirting with the better dressed patrons or else trying to wheedle free drinks from the obese man tending bar.

Leon will also notice an empty chair at the bar with a blue cloak hanging from it.

Bennedict: Bennedict is still turning the dark stone over in his hands, thoughtfully, as he passes through the door of the tavern. Looking around, he spies the dwarf and caliban, sees the blue cloak, and sees that the dwarf and the calliban see the blue cloak.

Deciding that disgression is often the better part of valor, he finds a table and sits down, trying to avoid calling any attention to himself until he knows what’s going down at the bar.

GM: A few minutes after Bennedict enters the tavern, a man comes in from outside and walks over to the bar. Big fellow, and well dressed, too. He’s a bit unsteady- tipsy, perhaps? He orders a cup of wine and downs it in one long gulp, the wine dripping into his bushy black beard and onto his tunic. He then sits down in the chair with the blue cloak hanging from the back. He removes his belt and hangs it over his knees. Hanging from it is a long poignard in a leather sheath.

He’s talking with the bartender, but the noise of the tavern makes it hard to catch what he’s saying from where you all are seated. Perhaps if you strain your ears……

Cirdan: The door swings open, and Cirdan enters the scene again…

He walks straight to where Bennedict and the others sit.

“Sirs and ogre, I come from escorting lady Evangeline to her home.
Tomorrow, Monsieur Sancerre will receive me for an audience where we
will discuss the circumstances of this kidnapping matter. It is my perception,
Sirs, that you share my interest in this affair, and thus I hereby ask you to assist me tomorrow.”

Norzak: Norzak eyes Cirdan in complete astonishment. He looks first to Bennedict then to Léon then back to Bennedict and scowls. Shaking his head, he looks Cirdan straight in the eye. “Ok, thanks for sharing that with everyone else in here as well, elf.” “I can’t believe he said that, in here, in front of alla these people. Like the blue cloak won’t know who we are now? Bah!” Norzak mumbles to himself. He looks to the others, ignoring Cirdan “Well it looks like we won’t be able ta do much tanight asides drink a few pints a course.” Looking to Cirdan he says “Make sure those people in the far back heard ya too, ya dolt!” He downs his tankard and gets the attention of the waitress, pointing to the tankard. “I hope she ain’t so daft she won’t get me meaning.”

Leon: Léon takes a look at the bar to make sure Cirdan’s speech didn’t reach the wrong ears. He then procedes to remove his hat, gently placing it on the table in front of him.

Completly ignoring Cirdan, Léon shouts “MADEMOISELLE, a pint of ale!”

Bennedict: Bennedict watches the man at the bar carefully, watching for a reaction to the noise. For a moment he wonders if the dwarf had bothered considering that a deep, roaring, angry dwarven voice carries through a crowd much better than the voice of an elf who is merely making conversation.

“Did you learn anything else of note?” he asks Cirdan. “It strikes me as odd that this man would wish to carry on with this, unless of course he was concerned that the threat against his daughter had not truly passed. Unless of course he’s trying to get some measure of revenge, which doesn’t sound like an entirely pleasant option either.”

Bennedict’s voice trails off and he stares down at the table, wishing he had a drink and enough sense to go home instead of continuing to dig into whatever was going on here.

GM: The serving wench comes out from behind the bar, a tall mug in either hand. She lifts them up and looks at Leon, then at Norzak.

’’I’m coming m’siuers. Here are your drinks.’’

She hurries up and sets the drinks down at their respective tables, first Norzak, then Leon is served.

The blue cloaked man seems to have heard neither Cirdan nor Norzak, but the bartender may have- because he’s staring at Norzak. He whispers something to your suspect, who quickly gets to his feet, grabs his things, and hops over the bar! He’s making for the door to the kitchen!

Cirdan: Cirdan will not hesistate and get after the man in the blue cloak… Running and tumbling over tables and chairs, he’ll try to draw his sword!

Norzak: Norzak doesn’t miss a beat and leaving a few coins, he grabs his pint and begins to run after the blue cloaked man. Never one to waste a semi decent pint, he downs it as he runs after the man. When he can get a good bead on the man he will toss the mug at the blue cloak, going for the head.

GM: The blue cloaked man is opening the dooor to the kitchen with at least two of the party in hot pursuit!

Norzak: Norzak drops the mug and belches rather loudly. Concetrating he points at the blue cloak and utters a few words of power and a ray leaves his fingertips, heading for the blue cloaked man.

Bennedict: It looks like the drink will have to wait. Bennedict thinks as the blue cloaked man sprints for the exit. Seeing that he had no real chance to catch him and not sure that he could do anything to the large fellow if he did, he began to incant the words to the ancient Ezran prayer of blessing, feeling the words of power burn in his blood to guide the hands of his allies.

GM: A thin ray of sickly green light darts from Norzak’s fingertips and strikes the fleeing man in between the shoudlerblades. He slumps forward against the open door, seemingly exhuasted. His breath comes in gasps. He turns and leans against the door jamb, fumbling to draw his poignard and holding it out to defend himself.

Sir Cirdan comes thundering across the room, hopping up onto a table and running down it’s length to execute a flying leap over the bar! He pulls his sword free of the scabbard in mid air. Hitting the floor,he lands a savage blow on the blue cloaked man, striking him in the chest so forcefully with the sword that the man is flung sideways , away from the kitchen door and halfway over the bar.

The blue cloaked man pushes himself up from the bar, leaving a pool of dark blood on the wooden counter-top to match the crimson stain on the front of his slashed tunic. He grimaces in pain, then makes a clumsy stab at Sir Cirdan, one the knight sidesteps by a handspan’s space.

As the fight continues, all of you suddenly feel as if something or someone is watching over you, even helping you!

Cirdan: “Dwarf! Can you make him sleep?”

Cirdan doesn’t want to kill his opponent – obviously, this peasant may be able to give some information.

However, he isn’t going to risk anything either. If noone of the others reacts, he is going to strike again, not caring at all what damage he causes…

Norzak: Looking at Cirdan, Norzak shook his head no. Putting away his crossbow, he removes his short sword and rushes after the man. “Don’ ya go too far ya filthy kidnapper!” Norzak yells out to the man. “Ya kinna go peacefully or tha hard way, ‘is up ta you, mack. I don’ usally give a choice, but I’m guessin’ them guards ‘ll wanna have you in their fancy lil’ jail ‘n’ take care of you their own way. If ‘twas fer me, I’d slit yer throat ‘n’ feed ya ta the sewer rats.” As soon as he can reach the man he’ll give him a choice “You gonna run or do it the easy way. Imma itchin fer the hard way meself, but tha elf here” he points his thumb over his shoulder at Cirdan, “prefers ya not be harmed. Take it or leave it.” Norzak keeps five feet from the man, waiting to see what he’ll say or do. If he tries anything funny, he’ll try knock him out.

GM: The man, his face drawn and pale, looks from Cirdan to Norzak, then back to Cirdan.

‘’Hold! It is enough- I yield!’’

He reverses his poignard and extends the pommel toward Sir Cirdan.

Norzak: “Now yer talking, bub. Hey why don’ we take this mutt to tha guards. I bet they be really happy ta see the filthy dag. Then I kin get to me serious drinkin the tavern outta business!” NOrzak grins as he sheathes his short sword and removes a dagger from a boot. “Hey” he looks meaningfully at Cirdan “Ya ming if he loses an ear? Hmm mebbe a finger or even better, I kin cut out his tongue.Hmmm?” He looks at at the blue cloak with an evil grin, spitting on the ground then licking his dagger. “There, now it’s clean. C’mon elf, lemme take an ear at least!”

Bennedict: Bennedict glares at the dwarf, wondering just when exactly that one had drug himself out of a nearby storm drain. “Perhaps it would be best if we adjourned from this location, and perhaps got away from prying ears, before continuing this.” Bennedict turns to look at the bar’s customer base, who are no doubt staring in befuddlement at the odd melee that sprang up in their bar a moment earlier. “If nothing else so we can let these people get back to enjoying their drinks.”

With that he turns to the barkeep, fishes around in one of his pockets, drops some coins on the bar, says “A round for the house, on me,” and turns to walk out the front door.

GM: The crowd in the Goats is indeed unsettled. The sudden outbreak of violence seems to have caught most of the patrons by surprise, and rections are mixed. Some men have drawn daggers and are warily staring at your little party, in a none-too friendly manner. Others have moved their chairs to the far corners of the room and are studiously avoiding making eye contact with any of you. Two men at a table near the bar are loudly discussing the realative merits of calling the gendrames.

All this changes when Benedict’s stack of coins clanks onto the bartop and the bartender announces, with a nervous stammer:

‘’Uhhh…drinks for whole …uh…house …on the gentlemen ’ere. ’’

The mood immediately shifts. Daggers are returned to sheathes. Men and women jostle each other in an effort to get to the bar before the free drinks run out. No one makes any attempt to stop any of the party from leaving, or to aid the blue-cloaked man.

Cirdan: Cirdan signals the cloaked man to drop the dagger on the ground.

“Might I have the pleasure of your name?”

GM: The man drops his long dagger to the floor . He steadies himself by gripping the bar with his right arm and manages to regain his composure. An ugly sneer creeps over his features.

‘’My name? I’m Pierre Renault, and you are making a big mistake, foreigner! I have friends. You will regret this.’’

Cirdan: Cirdan moves closer, his blade now touching the throat of the man, and visibly cutting him.

“Friends? – Then tell me their address, so I can send them your remains.
Talk, master Renault, talk, or will run you through with my sword, I swear.
One more word I am not pleased with, and I’ll end this conversation the way the dwarf would. – Think twice before you answer.”

And all this coming from an elf with a viking helm on his head.

GM: Renault stands stock still, seized with terror as Sir Cirdan presses the naked steel against his throat. A thin stream of blood begins to trickle down his neck. Bullets of sweat stand out on his pallid brow. His lips move wordlessly, as if he’s trying to speak but cannot get the words out.

Finally, he manages to say, in a small and frightened voice,

‘’I…. yes…no trouble at all monsieur. I’ll tell you whatever you wish to know. Please don’t kill me.’’

Cirdan: Cirdan grins like a hungry wolf, waving the others near,
he looks for a free table in a dark corner of the tavern.

If there’s one, he’ll guide Mr Renault there at the tip of his blade and order him to sit down, the hands pressed on the table board.

He’ll let the others ask their questions first, since he realizes he has come a bit late to the scene…

Norzak: Norzak spits on the ground. “Let’s follow Bennedict outta here. Too many people seen us ‘ere ’n’ I think we should go somewhere quiet to get some information from this scumbag, elf.” Looking to Renault, Norzak says. “Yer coming with us bub. Try anything ‘n’ I’ll cut ya a new smile. And do introduce yer friends to us, mebbe they’ll have as much luck as you and your dimbulbed associates have had this evening, eh?I hope they got more sense ‘n’ you do. C’mon.. let’s get outta here.”

Calling after Bennedict “Hey, wait up! I am presuming ya got a place we kin go talk ta this loser?” He asks.

B: Bennedict nods.

“Yes, herr dwarf. I know of a place nearby that is well suited to clandestine discussions of an ill nature.” In his memory, the archivist returns fondly to a meeting in a nearby abandoned tower long ago with a certain female client who had been very, VERY grateful for the return of her great grandfather’s original writings. His mind had been occupied with physical pursuits at the time, but his recollection of the building was of it being mostly inhabited by those who don’t care particularly what anyone around them is doing, and that it featured a fine place on the roof for a lookout should one be required. “It should suit our purposes nicely.” Bennedict reaches for the door to the Sign of the Goat, opening it and gesturing for the prisoner to step through.

“After you.”

G: M. Renault stands up, a bit unsteadily, and moves towards Bennedict. He holds his open plams out at his side.

‘’Alright, I’ll go with you. ’’

Perhaps twenty minutes walk through the moonlit streets and you arrive at Ben’s chosen spot. It’s a tall tower, perhaps seven storeys, standing in one corner of a cobble strewn vacant lot, near the intersection of two streets. In the moonlight, the pale stone takes on an yellowish-white coloration, rather like old bones. You can see that the tower has a massive wooden double door at the base, hanging just slightly ajar. Narrow windows with closed shutters are spotted along it’s height. One great window, like the unblinking eye of some awful giant, stares out at the street corner, its pane of greenish glass reflecting moonbeams in such a way as to suggest movement. No lights shine from within the tower and the area about it is quite still and empty.

C: Cirdan has been happy with just walking along the others,
still visibly proud of his heroic deed in hacking down a man with a dagger…

At the house, he doesn’t try to hide his disgust. “Your place, Sir ogre?”

View
Mists Over the Musarde Chapter 1 Part 7

N: Norzak approaches carefully, then picks up the red hair and waits for the others. He shows them the hair, a grim look on his face. If’n they’ve ‘urt Missy I’ll kill em all, the bastards! She better be livin’ fer their sake, all I kin say

C: Cirdan will gently – wait, not so gently – push the thug on the line.
“Move. And pray that the girl is still alive.”

G: No one appears to be following the party.
The captive continues to walk on, sullen and fearful. He clambers over the trash pile and waits for Cirdan to cath up before continuing forward.

After about ten or fifteen minutes of steady walking you come a four way intersection of similiarly sized drains. The captive points to the righthand tunnel.

‘’This is the one we want, bosses. Right down here.’’

Benn’s magelight shows a rippling inthe water behind the roped guide, as if something has moved into the water behind him, just outside the circle of light. From further down the tunnel comes a soft weeping sound…

B: Benn gestures with his crossbow, indicating that the prisoner should head down the tunnel, towards the weeping.

“If this is a trap, Herr, I intend for you to step into it first.”

G: The prisoner makes his way past Norzak and down the rightside tunnel. He hesitates for a moment as he reaches the edge of Benn’s circle of light, then continues walking, the hempen rope trailing behind him.

He quickly comes back into the light. His face is pale and his eyes are wide. He looks sweaty, despite it being rather cool down here.

‘’ There’s some kind of animal back there! It’s big!’’

N: Norzak keeps moving along then stops as he scans the water. Frowning, he looks again just to reassure he wasn’t seeing something. He holds his hand up for the party to stop. Looking back he puts his fingers to his lips. He looks at Benn and Cirdan and points to a piece of moving cloth in the water, and imitiates a dog as he gets on his fours and pretends to howl, less the howl of course. Then he sheathes his dagger and unsheathes his short sword, grinning. He looks at the floating cloth and approcahes it, following.

DORGIO: In a passage not far away, Dorgio trudges towards an intersection of tunnels. The light emanating from the tip of his spear casts harsh shadows on his grime-covered face, and he narrows his eyes at the darkness ahead. Little Anja, he thinks to himself, when this is over, your father and I must have words. He grits his teeth and silently curses the fumes.

The cleric passes straight through the intersection, then stops as a noise reaches him.

“(…kind of animal back there! It’s big!)”

Dorgio perks up and slowly approaches the sound, his short-hafted spear poised and at the ready.

G: The cloth spotted by Norzak proves to be a section of burlap tarp, big enough to cover a grown man. It is moving against the current, oddly enough.
As Norzak draws more near the lumpy mass of torn and stained burlap, he spots small and pale humanlike limbs moving in the muddy water beneath it. Something under the cloth is shifting about in an agitated manner, and Norzak spots a bright brown eye staring at him through a tear in the fabric. It certainly isn’t a human eye….

Dorgio comes down the tunnel. Ahead of him, he sees a small group of men gathered about the far end of the tunnel. One of them stands to the rear with a light source of some kind. Another of the men, a very short and stout fellow, is creeping forward with a naked shortsword in his right hand! In between Dorgio and these strangers floats a brown mass of sewer flotsam, upon which the little man with the sword seem most intent…

Norzak, Benn, and all the others in that party notice the approach of a lone figure coming from further down the tunnel under investigation. The man is holding what looks to be a glowing spear! He’s perhaps sixty feet from the dwarf.

N: They couldn’t be so bold, yet dimwitted as to approach us with a lighted spear, now would they? I’m not complainin’ mind ye. Let ‘em come ’n’ we kin get lil missy back easier ’at way. Norzak looks back at the others quizically, then to the approaching lighted spear.

G: Whatever is under the tarp is now moving through the water towards Norzak!

N: Norzak will keep that in mind and his short sword is out. Once the thing under the tarp acts, he will attack it in surprise before it attacks him. Wait till the last minute if that’s at all possible.

G: The thing, whatever it is, comes very close to Norzak. Something cold and wet brushes up against the dwarf’s leg!

N: Norzak played his cards well. When the beastie was close enough and touched him, he struck. “Git offa me ya dagnabbittted water cretin!” he hisses as he strikes with his short sword, slcing deeply into the flesh of the thing.

G: Norzak’s sword tears through the damp cloth and into the soft body of the thing beneath. The thing lets out an awful shirek and flails violently. The cloth is thrown aside, revealing the monster…

a little girl, perhaps eight years old, who was swimming on her back underneath the cover of the burlap. A scrawny puppy paddles in the water above her now still form, making frightened noises but refusing to leave her side.

C: Cirdan all the while stays close to the prisoner, his sword always ready to strike. When he sees the girl, his face softens, but he doesn’t make a move.

D: Dorgio breaks into a run towards Norzak when he hears the shriek.

“ANJA!”

As soon as he is close enough to see what has happened, he squats down beside the child and begins chanting a prayer, all the while keeping his spear level at the dwarf’s nose.

“Morninglord, owner of the rays, bestower of the rosy-fingered dawn, stay this child’s heart!”

B: Bennedict shakes his head in wonderment at the dwarf crawling around on all fours. He is insane. There is no other way to explain it. The archivist follows on the group’s heels, trying to will caution upon the dwarf, when suddenly he strikes, wounding what is shortly revealed to be a small child!

“You monster!” Benn snarls, rushing forward to help the girl, when the man with the spear rushes forward and drops down next to her, muttering a very familiar prayer to the morninglord. Assured of the girl’s safety, he whirls on Norzak. “Mein gott, dwarf, is it your intention to kill everyone we meet on this little sojourn?”

Grumbling in irritation he turns back to the man, looking over the girl’s wounds with a critical eye. “Is there any way I can assist you?” he asks the man quietly, trying to lend a hand without disturbing the man’s concentration.

G: The suppurating wound on the girl’s chest seals and fades as the Morninglord answers Dogrio’s prayer. Slowly, the deathly pallor of the little girl’s face is replaced by a rosy glow, and her small limbs begin to stir. She coughs, twice, then breathes deeply. Her blue eyes open and she casts her eyes about fearfully, before focusing on the newcomer.

‘’Oh!
Father Dorgio!’’

She sits up and embraces the mustachioed healer.
‘’I am sorry. I went to look for my puppy. He ran away. Oh, is he alright, too? Something bit me, Father Dorgio. ’’

The prisoner on the rope tugs on his lead to get Sir Cirdan’s attention.

‘’ That dwarf is crazy! I’m not going one more step until you swear by whatever gods you worship that you won’t let him kill me.’’

D: As signs of life return to the girl’s face, Dorgio lets out a breath he’d only been barely aware of holding in. “It is all well, little one, we will discuss it when we’re above.” With one hand, he unfastens his cloak and wraps it around the Anja. With his other hand, he maintains the spear level with the dwarf.

Though he still stands poised to attack, the words of the man with the crossbow and the prisoner complicate things. He turns his head towards the man with the crossbow, but keeps his eyes locked on the dwarf. “I am listening. For now.”

B: “My friend is on edge, herr, and a bit too quick with his blade.” Bennedict says, pointedly lowering his crossbow to point at the ground. “We are in search of a young woman, taken by members of what I am very much afraid to be a plague cult operating within this city. This rat-” He points at the prisoner with his crossbow. “-works for them, and is leading us to their hideout in hopes of rescuing her. So, if you please, we will move on with our pursuit and allow you to escort the child back to the surface.”

N: “We’re lookin’ fer the daughter of Denys Sancerre who bin kidnapped ‘n’ taken down in these sewers by this ingrates pals” Norzak points opver his shoulder, even as he sheathes his short sword. “I’m a bit on edge when it comes ta kidnappers of innocent young ladies, bub. Kindly remove yer spear from me face. After all I don’t know ye and Ive put away me blade. Now. Put yerself in me place. A tarp moves along the water and all of a sudden grabs me leg. What would ye do? If ye’re lookin’ fer kidnappers down here? Bah!” HE looks back at Benn n Cirdan “THink what ye might, but youwas thinkin tha same thing that under tha tarp was a creature, not some innocent girl. READ ME LIPS, ‘N’ READ ‘EM ONCE, FER I WON’T BE REPEATIN’ THIS AGAIN. I HAVE NEVER AND WILL NEVER HARM ANY INOCENT. THEM’S I HURT DESERVE FAR WORSE. I FEEL TERRIBLE ABOUT HARMIN THE YOUNG ANJA. CALL ME DAFT IF YE WAN’ BUT I DO WHAT NEEDS TA BE DONE.”

Norzak’s voiceg grows soft now, and his face actually looks remorseful as he looks at the little Anja. He approaches tentively, unsure, and feeling absolutely awful. Cirdan and Benn haven’t seen Norzak act this way before. In a low voice almost a whisper, he speaks to Anja as he gets to one knee. “I’m really sorry, Anja. Ya done scared me. I fell real terrible I done hurt ye, and would like to make it up to ye. Me name’s Norzak. Norzak Darkender of Darkon. Pleased ta meetcha” he winks at her before continuing “I’m here with my pals” he points over his shoulder at Cirdan and Benn “Lookin’ fer a young lady, lil older n you, who’s been kindapped by bad people. If I kin, I’d like ta help find ye puppy. Wots is name?”

Norzak stands. He turns and looks at their captive moving away from Anja. Very calmly, he walks up to him. He leans up and whispers in the man’s ear, so that the man and the others hear, but not Anja. “Bub. You are lucky that Anja is alive. All I have to say to ye. Lead us right or die, unnerstood? I don’ care if me pals try to stop me, sleep with one eye open, ye piece ‘o’ rat droppins.” Norzak moves back to where he was and looks to the others. “I kin accompany ye to find Ms Sancerre or get ANja back home ta safety.” He looks at Anja “It’d be an honor,missy.” He winks and waits.

C: Instead of an answer, Cirdan pulls hard on the rope around the prisoner’s neck, so the bandit falls on his knees.

The tip of the sword pointing at the bandit’s belly, Cirdan moves his face close to the criminal one’s.

“By the Kingdom of Gray and my the eternal balance of the Order, I swear this to you, you piece of scum. Look at me! LOOK AT ME! The dwarf will kill you quickly, if you do something that is against his mind. I’ll however, enjoy killing you slowly, if we loose the girl.
- Now, GET UP and walk on!”

G: The prisoner, looking cowed by Cirdan’s wrathful display, gets to his feet and continues walking down the tunnel.

Anja seems a bit frightened of Norzak, but she isn’t crying or running away.

Some noise can be heard from a short distance off- the sound of a group of men moving closer, and not at all stealthily.

N: Norzak nods to the others and whispers “Lemme get lil missy ta Sancerre, he kin take care ‘o her. Anja, I kinna bring ye to a nice man who will take care of ye, if ye be favorable ta the idea. Hear them’s footsteps there? They’re tryin’ ta sneak up on us ‘n’ hurt us ‘n’ you. Are ye good at playin’ quiet? I kin be purty quiet meself” Norzak winks at her and makes a funny face then places a finger to his lips and winks again at her, trying to put her at ease. He moves to the puppy and picks it up, then returns it to it’s owner.

G: The sound of footsteps and indistinct voices draws closer.

N: Norzak feels the time is now to act for her sake or she may actually get hurt by the men approaching. She gently takes her by the hand and speaks in as soothing a voice as he can. “Anja, trust me. I got ta get ye outta here and to a safe place. A nice man up there” he points up where they came from “Kin help ye and keep ye safe. BUt I’m gonna have ta carry ye and yer pup.” Norzak looks into her eyes, showing her only warmth. He reaches to pick her up and holds her in one arm. Then he bends and gets the pup. Turning to the others and the newcomer he says “Take care ‘o that, I’ll come back soon as I can” With that he turns, and with pup and girl in his arms, hurries back up to find Sancerre.

D: A few tense moments pass as the cleric meets Norzak’s eyes with a steely gaze. Finally, as the dwarf is finished explaining himself, there is a look in Dorgio’s eyes. Not absolution, but understanding, perhaps even recognition. At last he nods, and lifts his spear away from Norzak’s face and holds it at the ready, tip pointing up, as a fencer might do with his foil.

“Such things…they do happen. But what does one do? One must accept risk to oneself instead, and takes fate by the nose!” He is silent for a moment, then continues. “Dorgio Varga, of the Morninglord.”

When Norzak takes Anja, Dorgio starts to reach to pull the girl from the dwarf’s hands, but stops short, thinking it perhaps better to avoid a struggle, for the child’s sake. He begins to follow, then hears the voices, too indistinct for him to make out. “Take care with your blade,” he whispers to the group. “There are others down here searching for her.” With that, he readies his spear and follows the dwarf, keeping a careful eye on the dwarf and his weapons, and especially on the girl.

“Keep the cloak tight around you, little Anja.”

N: Norzak nods appreciatively to Diorgo. " I be Norzak Darkender. I’ll take good care ‘o tha lass. Take care of them’s coming to try to do her harm, unnerstood?" In a gesture unlike of Norzak, he opens his backpack(YEs he has it on him) and removes a well worn blanket. He puts ANja gently down and wraps her in the blanket along with the pup. “You be warm now, Anja.” Looking to the others as he departs he mouths “Save some fer me. ‘N’ keep that one alive” he points at their captive " I be wantin some fun with him later!" He winks at the others out of sight of the prisoner and heads back up with his two “little” packages.

G: Norzak takes the girl and the little dog and moves off on his way back to the surface.

…………………..

The captive has made it to the far end of the tunnel down which Dorgio had come. He stops, turns, and looks back to Sir Cirdan.

‘’It isn’t far. Just a little ways more, and we’ll be under Malreux’s warehouse by the river. Now can…’’

Something long and brown shoots through the muck behind him and takes him off his feet in a swishing motion. You all get a quick glimpse of something like a big , dark, and vaguely serpentine wrapped around his chest, and then he’s gone, pulled out of your field of vision.

‘’Merciful Ezra! Help…’’

The tunnel carries sound well, and you can all hear something big thrashing about, and soft ,wet, tearing sounds….

C: Where is the pipe? – If at all possible, Cirdan will run behind the prisoner, or jump after him…

B: “You are a long way from home, Dorgio. What brings you here from Gundarak?”
Some of the foulest profanity even Norzak has ever heard escapes Bennedict’s lips as the prisoner is jerked off of his feet and pulled away.

“Will this night ever end?” he concludes, face flushed with fury, as he hefts his crossbow, turns away from Dorgio, and moves to follow the rope, flashing his light back and forth for any sign of the man tethered to it.

D: Before he follows Norzak, he looks at Benn and says nothing, though he raises one eyebrow, followed by the barest hint of a grin. He then continues to follow the dwarf, eyes darting warily.

“Until she is safe, I do not leave her side.”

N: “Ye’d be more helpful helpin’ me mates take care o the kidnappers. I aint lettin nuthin happen ta her, unnerstood? Put yer spear ta good use man.” Norzak stops and looks at Dorgio. “I be responsible for her cuz I say so, bub. GO help me pals I;ll be right back n help.” He turns and walks back towards where Sancerre was last.

G: Cirdan runs forward, splashing down the length of the tunnel.
Benn moves behind him, flashing his light from one side to the other, searching for any sign of your guide.

At the far end of the tunnel, you find a T-intersection. The left and right branches are both filled with water to about three feet in depth, and otherwise much like the tunnels you’ve already traversed. Both stretch off into the darkness. Even Sir Cirdan, with his superior vision, cannot see the ends clearly. Directly overhead, right in the middle of the intersection’s ceiling, is a bronze hatch,. It looks very old, and is mostly covered in verdigris. There are some bright spots along the rim and on the wheel-like handle, suggestive of recent use.
There’s no sign of your prisoner, except for some spots of crimson gore. The rope lies limp in the water, its end severed- a ragged cut.

[with Norzak and Dorgio, heading back to the surface…]

The way is clear, and the little party makes good time in hurrying to the exit. Down a tunnel, around a corner, and you come to a vertical shaft, perhaps twenty or so feet. A dead man lies near the base of the shaft, going upwards perhaps twenty feet. Below the opening of the overhead shaft is a dead man, laying face down atop some sort of smashed and twisted iron grill. A few loose blocks of masonry lie nearby. Looking up, one can see the iron handholds of a ladder, leading up into a dimly illuminated room.

Ascending the ladder, you emerge into a small room [Norzak will recognize it as the room with the shaft through which his party had made their initial descent, of course]. A big black candle sits in one corner of the room, casting flickering light across the dusty space. There is one other egress from the room, a wooden door, open to a hallway. The hallway is dimly lit by sunlight. The open door wobbles ever so slightly, as if pushed by a breeze.

[This is definitely the same room and building from which Norzak and the others came- but the candle certainly wasn’t there when his party made their initial descent…]

D: “I came here for the girl, nobody else,” Dorgio replies without slowing his stride. “When she is safe, then, perhaps, we talk.”

When they enter the room with the candle, Dorgio looks from the flame to the door. He then looks from the candle to Norzak. “Your group light this?” he whispers.

N: “No, but mebbe the girls father, Sancerre did?” He thinks….. “Sancerre, u there?”

G: ‘’Norzak?’’

A big man, red haired and dressed in sweaty travelling clothes of fine quality, enters the room. Norzak recognizes his friend Denys Sancerre, naturally.

‘’You didn’t find Evangeline? What, who are these people? Where are Sir Cirdan and Bennedict?’’

N: “Quickly now, sir. This here be Anja we met her n Dorgio down there in tha sewers. Cirdan and Benn are down there now, about to attack some culprits. I have a favor ta ask so we kin take care ‘o gettin’ Evangeline back. Look after Anja ‘n’ ’er puppy fer Dorgio. Tis a long tale we kin explain later. Now we got ta get back ta them rugrats n get missy back fer ye.” Turning to Dorgio. “He’s a good man he’ll look after Anja fer now till we come back up. Join us ta take care ‘o the kidnappers and getting back Denys’ daughter Evangeline back from them, Dorgio.” He turns and not waiting to see if the cleric follows, leaves back to the others.

D: Dorgio pauses, leaving Norzak to return to his comrades. He eyes the candle thoughtfully, then looks to Denys. “Sir, I have your word that Anja will be safe, yes?”

G: Denys answers quickly-
‘’Yes, of course. I’ll watch after her. You have my word. ’’

D: The temptation is there—take the girl up to the surface yourself, leave these bolondok to whatever goose chase they’d gotten themselves into, get the credit, get the glory, get the gold. For the church, of course. And the movement. And maybe a little for Dorgio, too. Just a little. Besides, it’s been ages since his last cigarillo.

But Dorgio looks at Denys and sees in his face what Anja’s father must be feeling. He casts his gaze down for a moment.

“A fene egye meg.”

He kneels by the girl and reaches for his cloak. “Anjaka,” he says, using the diminutive, “I must take this again.” He gives her an awkward smile. “When I am back, perhaps we’ll have a new friend for you!”

When he gets the cloak back, he will affix it, nod to Denys and Anja, and go back down the tunnels he and Norzak came through.

N: Norzak unsheathes his short sword as he walks, sure he’d find hisself some fun upon his return.

C: Without any hesitation, Cirdan enters the left tunnel.

“Ben, you go for the right! Count to hundred, then turn back and we meet here!”

B: “One moment,” Benn says, fumbling in his pack for a scrap of blank paper from his journal. Tearing it loose, he pulls out a stick of black chalk, and draws two arrows, one pointing left, one right, on the scrap before sticking it to the wall with whatever filth is handy, indicating the direction of their passage. “Alright, see you in a moment.”

Benn tries not to let his hands tremble as he proceeds down the right passage.

“!…2…3…”

G: Cirdan, walking down the lefthand passage…..

The water is lower here, just a foot or so, and its flow [moving back towards from the intersection where Benn placed the arrow] is sluggish. Piles of debris and noisome offal lie strewn about, too large to be easily displaced by the weak current. One gets the impression the passage is slanting just slightly upwards.

It’s dark here, but Cirdan posesses excellent nightvision, and the dim illumination from Benn’s light far to his rear is enough to see by.

Tramping through this mess, Sir Cirdan makes his way down the tunnel a good distance, counting as he goes. Along the way, he notes drag marks in the muck, as of something man sized being pulled further down the tunnel. There are a few indistinct prints of some large animal, perhaps a large dog?

…98..99..100…

The tunnel is wet. Water flows away from the intersection where Benn began counting. The walls are slick with moisture. Little fingers of nitre hang down from the vaulted ceiling, Here and there, water actually drips of leaks out of the massive stonework overhead. Benn senses a slight tremble in the stones, and a faint murmur seems to be coming from above him.The air is even more thick and humid than elsewhere in the sewer.

Benn has spotted no sign of the kidnappers or Evangeline.
He’s quite alone, this far down the tunnel, and cannot see Sir Cirdan if he turns back to look. He does hear faintly echoing footsteps from back towards the intersection, but that could be someone else…

Dorgio and Norzak…

The return journey proves easy enough, as Norzak knows the way well by now. Nothing impedes your progress as you return to the place where you left your companions.

They were both running down the tunnel towards the spot where your guide had been taken by whatever that thing was. Perhaps they found something? There’s a faint glimmer of light from down that way and you can hear the echoes of footsteps from somewhere up ahead.

B: Bennedict breathes a sigh of relief that no horrible tentacles have attacked him thus far. He pulls out the piece of chalk, writing “100” on the left wall of the tunnel, before turning back towards the intersection. Hopefully the footsteps belong to Norzak and Dorgio, or maybe Cirdan.

C: Cirdan will stop for a moment, and pull out a silk handkerchief he has had with him since he left Nevuchar Springs. He’ll look for a stick, twig, or even a bone in the mud, wrap the handkerchief around it, light it and lean it onto the wall.

This might work as a waysign for the others.

Pushed on by the fear for Evangeline, he’ll then walk on into the darkness…

Cirdan will walk 150 steps more, then finally turn around and look for his friends.

D: Dorgio holds his illuminated spear towards the filthy scrap of paper plastered onto the wall. He tilts his head, his face a rictus from trying to breathe through his mouth in the stench.

He moves the point of his spear from one arrow mark to the next. “They have split up, perhaps. You have a preference?”

N: “Nah not really. Eenie meenie mynie mo, catch an elf by that toe. Ok I’m goin’ left. Good luck in bashin’ them baddies!” Norzak turns and heads down the passsage on the left.

G: Norzak walks down the tunnel for a fair distance, the light from Dorgio’s spear rapidly dwindling to the point where things become quite dark. Norzak’s vision shifts to the black and white of a dwarf’s ‘miners-eyes’. He can see well now, to a distance of perhaps sixty feet. He’s able to spot the grossest waste and move around it with ease.

The tunnel is of similiar construction to what he’s seen of the rest of the sewer. The passage is inclined slightly. That would account for the sluggish backward flow of the shallow water. Relatively recent repair work has been done in spots along the walls- the stonework looks newer or different from the older material and the mortar is not the same blend.

Norzak hears tramping down the hall, and the muffled clank of armor. Soon eneough, he sees of a man in armor with a sword. A little closer…yes, it’s definitely Sir Cirdan!

Cirdan has gone far enough away from any light source that his nightvision is beginning to fail him. It’s grown very dark indeed, and touch is of more use than sight.

He reaches his count of 150 steps, but he finds nothing of note. As he walks back down the tunnel towards the intersection where he parted with Benn, his nightvision slowly returns, and he begins to make out dim shapes and blurry outlines. He passes the spot where he placed his hankerchief [which is still there].

Cirdan spots a stout figure up ahead. Squinting, he recognizes it as Norzak

N: “Cirdan, ‘tis me. Any luck in finding missy? Lil’ Anja is safe with Sancerre ‘n’ that new guy, Dorgio is in ta other tunnel. I’m a hoping we kin find some action cuz these her kidnappers deserve a fate far worst than death.” Norzak keeps his ears and eyes open for trouble.

C: “Nothing over here, Sir dwarf” Cirdan shortly greets the newcomer. “I hope you can fight.”

“Either we bring torches, and split up again, or we all go after Ben. On this side, it was too dark even for my eyes…”

D: Dorgio hoists his spear in salute when he sees Benn coming the other way. “Ah yes, the clever one! My charge, she is safe with your patron, and the day is young, so I say to myself, perhaps there is more fun down here. You find any yet?”

“Dwarf went the other way,” he adds, “with the man in odd armor.” He pauses then, remembering something the armored man had shouted at his prisoner. “Speaking of such," he adds in a lower voice, "your friend, he swore by the Eternal Order?”

B: “I saw very little of note down this passage,” Benn answers, trying not to sound too relieved. “Perhaps we should go see if Herr Cirdan requires more assistance.”

Benn pauses after hearing Dorgio’s question. “Yes, I have gathered that he is of Darkonian origin, as is Norzak. That I assume is the cause of Cirdan’s obeyance of the state religion.” He quirks an eyebrow at the priest. “Is that a problem? Outside of a few superstitions it does not seem to overly influence Cirdan’s judgement.”

N: Norzak agrees with Cirdan. “Nothin’ here eh? All right then. Let’s go join tha others ‘n’ get missy back. They be really grinding me gears, Elf. Me blade ‘n’ dagger need their blood. ‘N’ I am gettin’ tired of fightin’ these dimbulbs when we could be concentratin’ on their bosses stead ‘o’ their lackeys. What do ye think?”

D: Dorgio nods soberly at Benn’s confirmation. Time to tread lightly, he thinks to himself. On one hand, the Eternal Order seems to Dorgio to be burdened with regulations and an eschatology completely opposed to his own faith. On the other hand, he has not yet met a Darkonion who held any love of von Zarovich. If if the knight was not a friend, then perhaps at least they shared a common enemy.

“Ha, nothing that won’t sound better when debated over pipes and pints when we’re done here!” He shrugs, hoping to look noncommittal. “We should join them, yes.”

He turns and heads back toward the fork with Benn. “Now, you mentioned a, how did you call it, plague cult?”

G: You all arrive back at the the intersection. Everything is as you left it- the paper with the arrows, the hatch set into the low ceiling overhead, etc.

At this time, you all hear soft scuffling and spashing sounds echoing down the tunnels. Bobbing lights are coming from all three directions, all converging on the intersection! Someone is coming, and the party is surrounded on all sides.

C: Cirdan draws his sword and readies his shield.

“If we cannot flee, we have to take the initiative. We break through on one side, so we have the others in the back, but not around us. Do you understand?! – Follow at my sign, Ben , you have no good armor, so please go last!”

Unless the others do something entirely different, Cirdan won’t wait any longer, and storm into the nearest of the tunnels, ready to slay whatever comes there…

D: Dorgio decides to stick close to the knight, and follows behind, slightly to the knight’s left. “Take care,” he warns, “the little girl, others are here looking for her too. I’ll tell you if we come upon them.”

B: OOC: Rewinding a bit

“Well, I am not certain how much I feel safe relating, given how little we know to be absolutely true. However, we have uncovered artifacts and religious iconography indicating some relationship between Frauliene Sancerre’s kidnappers and worshippers of a god of pestilence and disease known as Incabulos. At best, they are probably misguided fools dressing up in rat and fly costumes and dancing around in the sewers. At worse….well, best not to think about what the worst case scenario might be.”

At that the archivist and cleric meet up with the rest of the group, and were quickly surrounded by torch light. At Cirdan’s comment, Bennedict raps his knuckles off of his breastplate. “Perhaps it is not so fancy as your armor, herr Cirdan, but it will have to do for now.” He casts a nervous look at the number of lights coming closer and the grim determination set in the knight’s jaw. “Still, perhaps it would be best if I was rear guard. You know, to be prepared for a flanking manuever?”

G: Standing in the intersection, our heroes see the lights and hear the footsteps converging on their position from all sides. Whoever they are, they’ll be here soon…

Bump.

Scuffle, scuffle

Bump

You all hear something moving above you. It sounds as if it might be coming from the other side of that bronze hatch set into the ceilling.

C:
Cirdan looks at Ben as if he was seeing the breastplate for the very first time…. “Oh, well, then! Come and fight at my side!”

When he hears the sounds above him, Cirdan doesn’t wait any longer:
His weapons drawn, he runs into one of the tunnels, hoping to slay as many as he can…

D: “Ostoba!” Dorgio curses in Luktar as he sees Cirdan run down the hall. He follows the knight, keeping his eyes peeled. Every few seconds, he will look behind him towards the hatch.

Not wanting any more civilians hurt, he shouts, “Friends, it is Dorgio! Declare yourselves!”

B: Bennedict aims his crossbow at the figures Cirdan is charging towards, a bead of sweat dripping down his brow. Noises overhead, figures moving closer with torches, Bennedict thinks, I’m going to need some laudanum if I ever get out of this.

“Dorgio, are the other searchers armed?” he mutters, drawing a bead on one torch and walking down the tunnel.

G: right hand branch………….

Three men are walking rapidly down the tunnel toward the intersection. The one in the lead carries a lantern. The trio stops, surprised, as Cirdan and Dorgio appear out of the semi-darkness, running towards them. All three men take a step back and draw daggers from their belts.

Dorgio recognizes all three men, and knows the lantern bearer by name, Konstans.

Konstans calls out:
‘’Ho! Wait, we mean you no harm! Dorgio?’’

B: Bennedict breathes a sigh of relief, continuing down the tunnel but turning to face the crossbow back towards the other two branches.

“Are there more of your party down here?” Bennedict shouts over his shoulder at the three men. “There are others approcaching!”

D: “Only lightly,” Dorgio shouts down to Benn. “No soldiers’ weapons.”

When he sees Konstass, his shoulders slump in relief and attempts to
step in between the three men and Cirdan. “These are friends,” he tells
the knight. “Friends down this way!” he shouts in Benn and Norzak’s direction.

He then turns to the lantern-bearer. "Good to see you unhurt, Konstass! Good tidings, as well—little Anja has been found! She is now safe with a trustworthy man named Sancerre. I’ll give you directions to get to her. “But take care another woman has been kidnapped here—we’re looking for her, too,” he adds, gesturing towards Cirdan and the others.

After hearing Benn’s question, Dorgio hastily adds “Yes…are there others close by?”

N: Norzak arrives and looks at the newcomers. “Well tha more tha merrier I allas say. Make it more easy ta find tha scum who kidnapped lil missy n’ teach ’em a lesson.” Norzak belches and spits on the ground. “So which way we goin? I be goin’ first cuz’ a me eyes. That way I get first choice ‘o’ them maggots.” He says with an eager glint in his eye.

G: Konstans smiles to see his friend Dorgio.

‘’Others? No it’s just we three. But who are they?’’

He points behind Dorgio and company, to the intersection. You haven’t moved very far up the righthand tunnel, and the light of the lanterns is enough for you to see a small group of strangers gathered at the conjuction of tunnels. They are perhaps six or seven men, armed with swords and clubs.

One of the men looks down the righthand tunnel and spots your group. He waves and calls out:

‘’Marcus, is that you? C’mon you sluggard, we’re going topside. They must have left- wait- you aren’t Marcus! IT’S THEM LADS, GET ‘EM!!!’’

The men at the intersection quickly react, raising their weapons and launching a ragged charge towards your party.

The tunnel is narrow enough that no more than two men may easily fight abreast of one another.

N: Norzak reacts first(I hope) and charges them, yelling at the top of his lungs “Ya gonna get whats comin’ to ye. Come meet yer maker, ya jackaninnies!” He waves his short sword at them even as he removes a dagger from his belt. Once he is in range he takes aim and throws it at the first enemy he sees! Then switches his short sword to his good hand!

B: A cold glint drops into Bennedict’s eyes as he draws aim on the man shouting, loosing a bolt from his crossbow.

G: The bolt flies off into the darkness somewhere behind the onrushing attackers. Incredibly, Benn’s shot didn’t even graze any of them!

Norzak’s dagger flies through the air, perhaps a second or so after Benn takes his shot with his crossbow. The knife whirls end over end, and plants itself in the chest of the nearest attacker. The man doesn’t seem to realize he has been hit, and keeps coming, with a wild look in his eyes.

‘’Kill the whoresons! KILL ’EM ALL!!’’

The half- dozen attackers will be close enough to trade blows in a the space of a few heartbeats!

C:
“Magic doesn’t work with you? Then, try to dodge this sword.”

With the calmness of an experienced killer, Cirdan will jump forward and stabb the shouter.

D: Dorgio spins around to see the attackers and runs his free hand over the symbol of Dawn at his belt. “Stay behind us, back to back!” he barks to Konstas and the other searchers.

He moves into position behind Norzak, then focuses on the closest sword-wielding attacker. “Morninglord, maker of the mist-boiling morning, you whose beams burn the blackest night, shine your searing light upon them!”

G: The lead swordsman, Norzak’s dagger still lodged in his chest, tries to parry Cirdan’s swordthrust- but fails. The blade tears into his left side, the impact sending him reeling against the wall. Just then, a nimbus of light flares around the dagger stuck in the man’s chest. The light fades away quickly, but the dagger is now glowing red hot! A smell of sizzling flesh fills the air, joining the odors of sweat, blood, and offal.

’’’AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! IT BURNS!!!’’

The foeman screams in pain and passes out, to slump down into the muck. The filthy water boils over the spot where the still glowing hot dagger is submerged.

The thugs keep on coming. Two men with shortswords get close enough to attack Cirdan and Norzak.

The man to the left lunges at Cirdan, but his blade turns on the knight’s armor, sparks flying as its point skids off the steel breastplate.

The ugly one to his right aims a backhanded cut at Norzak’s face, but the dwarf is too nimble for him, and easily evades the attack.

One of the men to the rear is fumbling with some sort of bottle. It’s hard to see exactly what he is doing, but it looks as if he’s touching a match to it. He tosses the glass container over his buddy’s head. It’s on fire!

SMASH, the flask of burning oil crashes into the ceiling over Benn and Dorgio. Flaming liquid rains down from above!

The other two men, unable to help their companions because of the restricted space, content themsleves with shouting encouragement from the rear.

‘’Get ’em, boys!’’

Benn was splashed by the flaming liquid, but Dorgio was fairly soaked with the stuff. The priest’s hair, clothes, and skin are burning!

D: Ever since entering the sewers earlier that day, Dorgio had been craving a cigarillo to calm his nerves. He had mustered up what little discipline he could to keep from lighting one up, thinking it foolish to start a fire in a place where a pocket of flammable gas could be around any corner. So the irony of his current situation is not lost on the now-engulfed cleric. He grits his teeth and starts to mutter something about how the Morninglord was only supposed to set his enemies on fire, but whatever quip he was going to make is lost int the pain. With a jerky motion, he attempts to pull something out of his pouch while diving into the nearest pool of water, struggling to keep whatever’s in his hand away from the muck.

B: Bennedict sees the flask of oil flying towards him, ducking to the side in time to only have some of the flaming liquid land on his cloak. Brushing at it in irritation, he grumbles “Well, that is quite enough of that.”

Observing the grim situation, he decides it is time to take a chance. In an instant his demeanor changes, as he assumes a hunched posture and lets his eyes roll up into his head. Intoning a curse from the black language of the Sri Raji, he calls down the power of Shiva the Destroyer to strike terror, pointing a finger in the direction of the fire-starter as the incantation reaches a crescendo.

C: Cirdan will continue to attack whatever enemy is within his sword’s range. Striking to kill.

G: Benn’s incantation is evidently effective, as the man drops the just-lit bottle of oil he’d been preparing and takes off running back down towards the intersection.

One of the goons sees the incendiary bobbing in the water and snatches it up- in time for it to explode in his hand! Flaming oils jets out to set the unlucky man and the man next to him on fire. They drop into the muck, screaming and thrashing.

Sir Cirdan steps forward and lands a solid blow to the man in front of him -cutting deeply into the man’s shoulder and throwing him down into the water, where he lies twitching and groaning. Bright red blood mixes with patches of burning oil about the knight’s greaves.

Dorgio, with help from the men behind him [Konstans and the other two searchers] is able to fully extinguish himself, saving himself from worse damage.

Your enemies are in disarray. Both of two uninjured men look fit to break. The one facing Norzak and Cirdan at the front is waving his sword around like a madman, and the the other one is already turning to flee towards the intersection. The two burning men are rolling in the water, trying to extinguish themsleves.

A second later, and the two men are running headlong down the tunnel, one of them trampling on his smoldering companions in his haste to escape.

B: Bennedict shudders and stops swaying, breathing heavily and looking on in satisfaction at the results of his spell.

“There could be more foes in the tunnels, gentlemen,” Bennedict grunts, pointing his crossbow towards the two opponents who are on fire. “Lets regroup.”

G: Norzak rushes forward and stabs one of the fleeing men, twice. The man clutches at his bloody back and falls with a scream. He jerks about for a moment, then becomes very still. A pool of dull red blood stains the water about him.

The two men who did not flee, but were rolling in the water to put out their flaming clothing, now get up. They throw down their wepaons and hold up their singed hands.

‘’We give up, please don’t hurt us!’’

Meanwhile, the one that got away is sprinting for the intersection.

He reaches it and stops. He grabs the bronze hatch overhead by the big wheel-shaped handle and strains to turn it!

D: Dorgio picks himself up and tries his best to grin, though with the fresh blisters oozing blood and pus down his cheek, it’s perhaps less than convincing. “My thanks, brothers, that’s a bottle or two owed!”

He then quickly assess the situation. Norzak and the knight should take care of the fleeing man, he figures. He turns his attention to the two men who’ve surrendered and lowers his spear at them.

“Where is the girl, and who is this Marcus?”

G: ‘’Uh, she’s topside with the Boss. Marcus, he’s just one of the guys. We got seperated a while back, looking for you. Boss wanted you off our trail. ’’

G: At the intersection, the ruffian has managed to get the hatch open. It swings down with a metallic groan. The man begins to haul himself up…..

Sprinting as fast as his stubby legs can carry him, Norzak rushes up in time to jump and grab or hack at the man’s feet as he ascends.

C: …And Cirdan follows! Whilw running, he’ll take up a weapon that lies around and throw it after the fleeing man!

G: Norzak leaps up and grabs the man by his scrawny left ankle, dragging him down through the hatchway, kicking and screaming.

Sir Cirdan snatches up a club someone dropped and hurls it at the man, striking him in the gut. The impact doubles him over. He kneels in front of Norzak, gasping for breath.

B: “I’ve heard enough,” Benn says, and smashes the brigand in the face with the butt of his crossbow, hopefully knocking the man unconscious.

“The girl is topside, with Marcus!” Bennedict shouts up the tunnel towards his compatriots

N: Norzak registers Benn’s words. He glares at the man before him, on his knees and struggling for breath. Showing great restrain he merely spits in the thugs face and growls “Bub yer lucky the girl is more important then ye are, else ye’d be dead thanks to me sword.” He passes the man and heads towards the young lady Sancerre and the unfortunate Marcel. He calls back to Cirdan “Keep ‘im alive, but don’t ye be holding back on the dolt. Imma gettin’ lil missy.” He jogs towards his date with Marcel, face grim in determination. He holds his short sword in one hand and his left slips down to his boot as he removes yet another dagger. He grins to himself, anxious to meet the so-called brains of the operation he and his pals had sabotaged thus far.

G: Climbing upwards through the hatchway, Norzak finds himself in the center of what appears to be a large warehouse. It’s shadowy in here, with light from the waxing moon and the stars slanting in through a skylight overhead. Boxes and crates are stacked haphazardly all over the place, forming a sort of labyrinthine network of passages and potential hidey holes. Norzak notices a set of closed double doors set into the western wall, across the box-maze. No one is here- at least, no one that Norzak can see….

Benn’s blow knocks the man out cold.

N: Norzak will approach the double doors as silent as possible, eyes alert for traps and he’ll listen. Once at the doors, he’ll listen again.

D: “Take your friend and go,” Bennedict says to the other captured man, “and don’t let me see you again.”

He gestures for Dorgio to follow and heads towards the ladder, ascending towards Norzak.

D: Dorgio cranes his head from side to side as if considering Benn’s words. Finally, he tosses each of the men two gold coins. “Remember we showed you mercy.”

He then takes the thug’s weapons and hands them to the searchers. He leads them away a few steps and instructs them on where to find Ajna. “The man may be nervous for his own child’s sake, so take care to let him know who you are.”

With that, he salutes the searchers and then follows Benn, Norzak, and Cirdan up the hatch.

G: Up the hatch, in the warehouse….

Norzak is listening at the double doors , across the floor of the warehouse, when the rest of the party joins him.

Through the heavy oak door, the dwarf hears a cultured, deep timbred voice speaking:

‘’Excellent work. I am pleased.’’

Another man, his accent distinctly lower class, replies-

‘’And my reward?’’

‘’Yes, of course. Here, let me give you what you deserve….’’

’’That’s…ARRRRGGH!’’

‘’I told you fools, the girl was not to be harmed. I wanted her fresh! Now, take him and go.’’

N: Norzak whispers back to the others “There be two men inside here. One be the lackey the other nust be Marcel. This Marcel wants missy f r e s h??? What in tarnation that mean? He gonna eat her?” He turns to the locks and sheathes his short sword and dagger in his belt. He then removes some item from one of the many pouches on his armor. He works it on the lock for nearly thirty seconds before hissing and cursing quietly. “Ye dagnabbited lock. I canna open it. So what we do now? Them two ain’t gonner’ stay there long I kin assure ya..”

Norzak notices everyone is there. Realisation dawns on his face that the thugs are alone now? In a very calm yet cold voice he whispers. He turns back, eyes as cold as ice as he asks “Where are the numnuts we beat? Don’ tell me they be gone?”

C: Instead of any class of response, Cirdan, his face pale and cruel like the skull of the reaper, kicks the door open.

“My name is Cirdan Carnesir! You hold hostage the girl I love! Prepare to die!”

B: “They’ve been dealt with,” Bennedict returns, just as Cirdan steps forward to kick open the door, anticipating that this would be the elf’s response. As the knight draws everyone in the room ahead’s attention, Bennedict peers carefully around him and into the room. Suspcious that Marcel had risen as some manner of undead monstrosity, the archivist scrambled to identify him, hoping to perhaps come up with a scrap of knowledge that may be of use to his comrades. I only hope that I can determine something in time.

N: NOrzak has his dagger ready to toss at the first man he sees.

G: Sir Cirdan’s armored boot smashes the door open, bursting the steel lock like cheap glass. Shards of wood and metal spray out in an arc.

Beyond the doorway is an alley illuminated by moonlight, the far side of which is the wall of of a tall stone building. In the alley are four figures of men- one lying supine on the ground, his body twisted and bloodied. Two of the men are bent over this fallen one, and are busy dragging him toward the left end of the alleyway. The fourth figure stands and watches.

All of the men, even the injured man, turn to stare at your party when the door is forced open and Sir Cirdan screams out his battle cry.

The man who stands apart turns to face the now open doorway and begins chuckling softly- a hollow and lifeless sort of laughter. His hood falls back from his face….

It’s Pierre Renault, the man who jumped to his death from the tower a few days ago! His face is strangely swollen, and his neck seems twisted to the right a bit. His skin is deathly pale, and his eyes are bright yellow, as if jaundiced.

N: Norzak had readied his dagger to throw so he throws it at Pierre Renault? Then he follows Cirdan’s charge and brandishing his short sword rushes Pierre, whom he thinks might be Marcel.

“Ye dag! Ye ain’t dead? NOw me blade gonna make sure ye ain’t ne’er breath agin! Meet yer maker in me BUB!”

D: “Kurva!” Dorgio curses when he sees the dead man. He reaches for the holy symbol that hangs from his belt and holds it aloft. His eyes roll towards the back of his head as he begins chanting. “The Morninglord melt the flesh from your bones! The Morninglord blast your bones into dust!”

B: Bennedict says some ungentlemanly things in Lamordian before switching back to the common tongue. “He is a Druagr,” the archivist begins, lifting the crossbow to his shoulder. “Beware the hands, he can drain the life out of you with them. And cut to dismember rather than wound. They don’t feel pain.” With that he lets fly with a bolt, hoping to strike Pierre someplace that will hinder his movement and aid in wearing him down.

C: In the face of the enemy, Cirdan knows only one option… To attack!

G: Norzak’s aim is good, and his dagger impales Pierre in the chest- to no apparent effect! It’s the same, a half second later, when Benn’s bolt shoots him clean through the chest. Not a spot of blood shows anywhere.

One short rush carries Sir Cirdan across the gap and brings his sword crashing down into the walking dead man. The blade bites deeply, and Pierre stumbles backward a bit before recovering his footing.

Dorgio calls on his god to smite the druagr, but no miracle takes place. The thing just keeps on chuckling.

Ignoring its injuries, the thing counterattacks, lunging forward to grab Sir Cirdan by the head and hurl him backward into the wall of the warehouse.

-The instant the creature touches the knight, he feels a deathly chill wash through his body, and a sense of something vital leaving him.

The two men who’d been assisting their wounded comrade turn to flee, leaving him to his fate.

C: Sir Cirdan rallies and launches a counterattack. He’s able to beat the fiendish monster back a few paces, inflicting a grisly wound to its chest that would have killed a mortal man.

D: A little color drain’s from Dorgio’s swarthy face as he sees the knight hurled into the wall. He lets go of the holy symbol, letting it swing once more from his belt. He moves towards Cirdan, and begins chanting in direction.

“Morninglord imbue this soul with your puissance!”

N: Norzak sheathes his blade and removes a vial. He takes careful aim and throws it hard! It splashes on the dead thing! “There ye go, how ye like that, ye dag! I’m gettin’ me oil next mac! Yer burnin til ye ain’t alive or dead or whatever ye are!”

G: The burning fluid washes over the undead monstrosity, setting it aflame. It burns without screaming but lurches about madly, lashing out furiously at anything that draws near.

The two uninjured ruffians who have dropped their wounded friend are now out of the alley, running down the street as fast as their legs can carry them.

C: Cirdan will go on with his attack, trying to focus the undead’s… Diogr… Dragr… Drugar… Whatever! …Attention on him, so the others get time to launch their spells…

“Come on, hit me!”

B: Bennedict’s eyes light up as he sees the dwarf hurling alchemist’s fire. “Capital thinking, dwarf. Yes! That should do the trick nicely!”

Looking at the wounded elf, however, lowers his enthusiasm a bit. If Herr Cirdan goes down, we’re likely all dead. Best do something about that. He therefore says the words to a brief prayer to the Morninglord before stepping forward and infusing Cirdan with healing energy.

G: The burning druagr spins to the left and makes a dash for the street adjoining the alleyway. Sir Cirdan is able to strike it once as it flees, hewing off its right arm. Norzak manages to douse it with oil as it passes him, causing the flames wreathing the monster to shoot up even higher.

It moves swiftly past the alley opening and across the narrow street which runs alongside the Musarde river. The undead monster never slows down, but leaps into the stream! There’s a splash and a sizzle of steam and smoke, and the druagr has vanished from view.

The wounded man abandoned by his comrades groans as Dorgio moves to him and begins to attend to his injuries.

The severed arm of the druagr lies at Cirdan’s feet, smoke curling from the charred flesh.

G: The injured man,who is being looked after by Dorgio, feebly gestures towards the other party members, calling out in a weak voice:

‘’Ohhhhh…help me, please don’t leave me….I know where the girl was taken….ohhhhh…‘’’

N: Norzak reacts rather swiftly at that remark. He moves next to Dorgio and before any one can do anything, punches the man in the nose! “Talk now, or I rip yer tongue out, mac! And don’t think I won’ do it, cuz I will! Ask ye pal who’s missin’ a finger!”

G: The man’s nose is bloodied by Norzak’s blow, and he slumps back into Dorgio’s arms. He sputters and coughs, blood coming out of his nostrils and mouth. His eyes unfocus and for a moment he looks like he might lose consciouness.

When he recovers, the man looks at Norzak and says,

‘’Arrrgh! Stop hitting me you lunatic! I’ll tell you where the girl is. Unhhhh…how can I talk if you smash my face in?’’

The prisoner then pauses to wipe away the blood dripping from his nose before adding,

‘’I didn’t sign on for this sort of thing. Ohhhhhhh…..was supposed to be a simple job.’’

N: “Talk fast, me patience is running thin.” Norzak steps back and turning, winks to the others, hand going to his scabbard. He mouthes “Pretend to hold me back” He turns back to the thug as he removes his short sword from its sheath. He laughs an eerie grating laugh then looks at the man with dead seriousness. “I don’t think I wanna wait, lemme cut his tongue out now!” Norzak waves his short sword threateningly at the man, growling.

G: Getting a better look at the prsioner, Norzak [and anyone else who cares to examine the man] will see that he’s a human male of twenty-odd years, with a rough look about him. His garments are dirty and torn. He is unarmed, Dorgio having confiscated his club and knife.

The prisoner looks frightened!

He begins to speak rapidly, pausing only to blow bloody mucus from his nose.

’’She’s on the boat with Monsieur Malreux! He’s taking her to his place outside town. It’s downriver- maybe a day’s sailing. I swear!’’

‘’The boat- they must have left only a little while ago. They may still even be tied off at the pier. I can show you!’’

N: Norzak appears to think a moment as he sheathes his blade. “Get up, bub. Taday’s yer lucky day. Git outta here afore I take back me own thoughts n feed ya yer tongue, unnerstood? Now git ‘n’ tell all ye pals to stay away from the kidnappin bizniss cuz’ Imma be watchin n so will me buds.” As the boy turns he kicks him on the butt to help him on his way, laughing.

Turning to the others “It’s me good deed ta society or somethin’, freein’ that one. Well, shall we head to this dolt’s place up the river?”

G: Unless one of Norzak’s friends stops the man, he limps off , leaving down the right end of the alley [away from the river, and NOT in the direction the other kidnappers had fled].

D: Dorgio shoots Norzak a disgusted look when the dwarf strikes the prisoner. When Norzak mouths “pretend to hold me back,” Dorgio gladly obliges, mouthing back, “I’m not pretending.”

When the boy gets up to leave, Dorgio turns towards him. “Hold a moment! That…thing said he wanted the girl fresh,” he says, remembering Norzak’s words. “Do you know more about that?”

N: Norzak looks at Dorgio like he was from another planet. “First off I don’t care if yer not likin’ me style. I aint changin fer nothin’ bub. I get results and that’s all that matters. Now about the girl bein’ fresh, I ain’t got no idea more ‘n’ you do. My methods might appear barbaric ta you, but I dont care. I aint ne’er kept no one fresh if thats what yer insinuatin’.” He looks outside and up the river where the lad said their target was.

“We goin’ ta get us a ringleader or sit around like wet rags?” Then looking to Dorgio “Oh ‘n’ mac, ye kin keep yer holier than thow speeches to yerself cuz I ain’t lissenin. I’m waitin outside fer ye all.” To which Norzak walks out and awaits the rest of the party.

B: Bennedict watches the smoldering spot in the river where the flaming Druagr landed only moments earlier, shaking his head ruefully and thinking two things at once: one, that there was almost no chance that they had seen the last of that undead monstrosity, and two, that The Flaming Druagr would make a fine name for a pub. I must be getting tired.

Snapping out of his reverie, he turns in response to the conflict between Dorgio and Norzak. Waiting patiently for it to play out, he rests a restraining arm on Dorgio. “It is not worth the breath, friend. Norzak is a loose cannon, but only because he is passionate about saving the girl. You may be assured he would be equally viscious in his efforts to aid the rest of us were we in harm’s way, and I have seen that there is good in him. You saw it as well, when it came to your little girl.” Bennedict sighs, hoping that the words sounded more convincing than he actually felt. "As to your line of questioning, I wish I could answer you. It is possible that the creature wanted her “fresh,” as he put it, because the Druagr feed on life energy. Any injury to her would likely sour the meal. Or perhaps there is something more that we are not seeing." The man’s face twists in irritation, and he removes his spectacles, angrily massaging the bridge of his nose. “There are too many damned unknowns about this. We are losing time wandering around this city on one clue after the other, and getting no closer with any.” He puts the glasses back on his face. “Come, let’s go see to this boat.”

G: The young man lingers a moment, to answer-

‘’I guess I owe you for patching me up – so I’ll answer your question as best I can. Renault told us that the girl had to be fresh and unhurt. I dunno why exactly, except it maybe had something to do with a mirror. Alright then, I’ve got to get out of this city now. Good luck getting the girl back safe. The boat was to pick us up at pier number five. I’m not going there, but you can find it by moving downstream on this bank of the river.’’

With that he finally does leave, walking as swiftly as he can manage. Soon, he is out of sight, swallowed by the gloom.

D: “Take the lesson with you!” he calls to the thug as he leaves.

When Benn puts his arm on Dorgio, he gives the scholar a harsh look, but it evaporates almost as soon as it appears. “Perhaps you are correct,” he answers, “But the boy would have talked without further coercion. I’m not against a little rough treatment, far from it, but are there no lines? Is he passionate to save this Sancerre girl, or simply for an excuse to wet his blade?”

As he says this, images of his younger days fill his head. Images of him standing over the bloodied and broken boys of Barovian descent, of kicking them as they tried to crawl away, of laughing as they cried for their ill-bred mothers. He shakes the thoughts away, telling himself that it was a different situation in a different time.

The thoughts dispelled, he nimbly rolls a cigarillo. He draws his dagger and gives it a single, solid rap against the confiscated knife. A spark jumps from the blades and almost uncannily lands on the cigarillo’s tip. He breathes deeply, wincing only a little as the smoke stings his burns. “Yes, let us find this Sancerre girl, then.” Looking to the water, he continues speaking to Benn. “You think we’re lucky enough that running water hurts that thing?” He gives a single, cynical chuckle.

As they begin walking towards the pier, he looks at Cirdan. “Holding up well enough?”

N: Norzak watches the thug disappear into the night. Glad he was that he had. Else he might have slit the boy’s throat! Wass’ takin’ ‘em so long?? Bah! ’Umans ’n’ half-pointy eared peeples. That Marcel wassisname’s in for a rude awakenin’. Kidnappin’ innocents. I’ll show him tha error ‘o’ his ways, ‘n’ get lil missy back ta her da, I promise. When thass done, I wanna see tha lil gurl I near killded earlier. Make sure she’s doin’ fine….. Mebbe bring her a lil’ somethin’ to wet her appetite, lil dwarvish gift from tha bakery we stopped in where I got me fruitcake!

Norzak leaves his thoughts and turns back to the exit, voice loud and impatient. “Whutch’ all doin’? Tain’t we gonna take care ‘o’ this varmint Marcel wassisname? Get yer behinds in gear lads! The night ain’t gettin’ any younger! Hooss! Hooos! Move it! Move it! Me blades ache fer his blood, so less get a move on. Lil missy is countin’ on us. Ye don’t want her death on yer consciences do ye?”

D: “Unlikely. Given our luck, it will probably make him stronger. I doubt we’ve seen the last of him, in any case.” He pauses, reflecting back on the prisoner’s words. The mirror. She needed to be unspoiled for the mirror. They could only be speaking of the one discovered by Herr Sancerre, and that could mean that this is all being orchestrated by… Saphire eyes dance through Benn’s thoughts, but he shakes the image away as Norzak’s cry echoes through the night.

“If you are ready to travel, Herr Cirdan, haste may be called for. I think it is time we ended this.”

C: Cirdan has spent the last few minutes fixing the rift on his breastplate, and
distractedly nods to Dorgio’s and Ben’s words.

“Let’s go!”

G: After a hurried transit through the moonlit streets of the waterfront, the party arrives at pier number five.

Tied up at the far end of a long and rickety looking wooden pier is a small sailing vessel of the sort ordinarily used to transport passengers and small cargoes on the Musarde. She’s pointed downtsream. A half dozen figures can be seen moving about on the deck, and one man stands alone on the wooden boards of the pier.

Drawing closer, you all see that one of the figures on the deck is struggling with two of the others. The combative figure breaks free for a moment and rushes towards the stern of the craft. It’s a woman- a woman with red hair. She calls out in a familiar voice:

‘’Help me! Cirdan! ’’

Two of the men aboard the boat grab Evangeline and drag her into the small cabin amidships, slamming the door behind them. The others look to be making final preparations to cast off!

The man on the pier turns to look in the general direction of the party. He is carrying a spear or gaff of some kind.

B: His jaw grimly set, Bennedict rushes down the docks towards the man, crossbow raised and levelled.

“If you value your life, you’ll return the girl immediatly and without a struggle.”

C: “IF you value your life, you end it yourself and spare me the mess!
EVANGELINE!!! HOLD OUT! WE’RE COMING!!!”

Cirdan will run on full speed towards the boat, and jump on it, shield and sword ready!

G: The man stares at Benn for a long second, then jumps into the river!

C: Despite the weight of his armor, Cirdan, driven forward with single-minded purpose, spans the gap in remarkably little time. His last, lunging step carries him off the pier and onto the deck of the boat. A man in a steel breastplate carrying a heavy crossbow comes rushing out of the cabin to meet him. Before the man can even fire a shot, Cirdan’s sword smashes through his right shoulder, nearly severing his arm. The crossbowman drops to the deck, mortally wounded.

As Cirdan makes for the door of the boat’s cabin, a dark-clad figure rises up from a pile of cargo on deck, just behind him and towards the stern. The man carries a long-barrelled pistol in his left hand, and is about to shoot the knight in his back!

As the pistoleer takes aim, Benn shifts his crossbow sights onto the man and fires , almost without thinking. The bolt catches the man in the side of the head, and he slumps to the deck without firing his pistol.

Norzak rushes towards the boat and scrambles aboard.

The cabin door is open. Moving sideways around Cirdan as the knight finshes off the crossbowman. Norzak sees Benn drop the heretofore concealed pistoller with one shot! The dwarf makes for the open door as fast as his short legs can carry him.

A tall man appears in the doorway with Evangeline. The stranger stands behind her holding a dagger to her throat. A lantern burns somewHere in the cabin behind them, setting an eerie backglow to the scene. The villain draws his dagger so close to her white neck that you can see drops of blood forming along the edge of the blade’s upper surface.
Evangleine remains stock still, a look of terror on her beautiful face.

‘’No closer, or she dies!’’ he shouts in a voice thick with tension.

[If you pause long enough to get a good look at him…he’s a distinguished looking fellow with a well trimmed beard and mustache and locks of well coiffured gray-black hair. ]

N: Norzak makes a show of slowly lowering the short sword in his right hand. As he does so, he reverses his grip on the dagger in his left hand, held low at his side, and hurls it underhanded at the man holding Evangeline hostage. The knife spins through the air, shining in the moonlight….

D: On hearing the coiffed man’s words, Dorgio begins to say something that might have been a negotiation, but then he sees Norzak’s dagger fly through the air. Seeing that, his initial sound erupts into a scream of rage, and he charges the boat. One moment, the confiscated knife is in his hands, then it’s in the air, flying towards the coward. In his mind, he silently prays that the man will focus on him and not the girl.

G: Norzak’s dagger strikes through Evangeline’s dress, pinning the green silk to her captor’s leg! The man grunts in surprise and sudden pain, then moves to carry out his threat against Evie’s life!

Just as the blade in the kidnapper’s hand begins to move across Evangeline’s exposed neck, Dorgio hurls his own knife, striking the man across the cheek with the hilt. It’s just enough to distract him for a fraction of a second. Evangeline twists away from him, his knife slicing away some of her hair and a bit of lace, rather than her neck.

Cirdan moves like a silver streak, stepping forward and ramming his sword into the man’s guts. The man lets out an explosive cough as the wind is knocked out of him. He jerks about violently, and blood dribbles from his mouth.

‘’You….I’m…Malreux…my….’’

His eyes glaze over, his breath comes in gasps, and then he just slumps over, stone dead and still hanging on the knight’s sword.

Sir Cirdan lowers his blade and pushes the corpse to the deck.

Evangeline, weeping, embraces the knight and kisses him full on the mouth. After a silent moment of clinging to him, she turns to the others, tears still in her eyes.

‘’I knew you’d come for me, my friends! Oh, where is father?’’

N: Norzak rushes forward immediately, leading Evangelique away from the grisly scene “Come missy, ye don’ wanna be see’n that. Let tha half elf finish his business with that thug. Sorry ye had ta be a part ‘o’ these shinanigans. Glad ta see yer okay. Yer da is worried sick but’ll be glad to see ye. Once he’s seen ye ye kin have a chat with Cirdan, ok?” Norzak soothing manner might stun the others. Hopefully Evangelique will listen to him as he leads her away. Over his shoulder he says “GREAT HORNY TOADS, MR.C! Ye dun it good. I be proud. Imma take lil missy back to her da” turning to the others “Take care ‘o’ this mess ’n look around will ye? Hey Dorgio, nice toss, fer a human!” Norzak winks at Dorgio and escorts Evangelique back to her father. Whether the others heed his words or not he doesn’t really care. His only objective is to get her back to her father.

C: Sir Cidan steps forward.
‘’I shall escort her back, Norzak, I’d be perfectly happy if you came with us, of course. ’’

With that, the knight sets off along with Evangeline and the dwarf.

N: Norzak complies, keeping on the lookout for any trouble. An idea is beginning to form in the back of his mind on the subject of little Anja but he’ll wait to learn more of her before he decides anything.

G: When the party arrives back at the spot where they’d left Denys Sancerre, they find him still there, looking quite exhausted, with bags beneath his eyes. He fairly leaps for joy at the sight of his daughter.

‘’My daughter! Oh, Evie! ’’

Father and daughter embrace beneath the fallen stone arch of the Old Builders, reunited in happiness and safety.

…………………………………………

[elsewhere]

Only a black stain remains where the druagr’s charred arm had lain. Little pools of water in the shape of footprints glisten on the cobbles under light of the waxing moon…

END OF CHAPTER ONE

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Mists Over the Musarde
Chapter 1 Part 1

GM: It is a late summer’s night in the city of Pont-a-Museau. The warm breeze is heavy with the fragrance of night-blooming lilies that grow wild along the banks of the Musarde. The moon is new, but no clouds dim the stars. Most of the city is empty, with silent streets and darkened houses. Here and there from doorways and windows spring up little wells of light. A tavern stands open to receive revellers. A woman lights a candle to guide her lover to her chamber. A nightwatchman paces his rounds, lantern in one hand and the other hand resting on his sword’s hilt.

In one of the town’s many half empty neighborhoods a young woman flees down a narrow street, her hair and dress streaming wildly behind her. Three men , all hooded and cloaked despite the summer warmth, are pursuing her on foot. They are gaining on her with every stride. Soon they will overtake her, unless fortune intervenes on her behalf.

Norzak: What a strange city. Rumors of this n that n bogeymen. And not a soul at night. What kind of city is that, I ask meself. Hey what’s this? Norzak asks himself as he spies the scene developping before him. “T’aint right that. Not a care fer a ‘uman but three on one ain’t right!”

Rushing to intercept the three chasers, the surly dwarf yells out “Hey ya mangy ragamuffins, pick on someone yer own size!” He yells out. He begins casting a spell at the first thug.

GM: One of the pursuing men peels off and turns to face the dwarf. He squints at Norzak’s odd appearance and wrinkles his nose when the stench hits him.

’’’’None of your affair, half-man. Get lost, before I gut you like a fish!’’

The thug draws a poignard from his belt and brandishes it at Norzak.

Leon: The sound of a cane and of heavy steps on the pavement are soon heard echoing in the silent night.

A broad and tall silhouette emerges from the end of the narrow street.

“I see that gentlemen take many forms, monsieur dwarf. As for you cowards, you should flee before you regret this faux pas.”

The cavernous voice and the sheer silhouette of this elegantly dressed stranger are quite unsettling.

Cirdan: “Be careful what you boast around, criminal.”

The door of the nearby tavern opens and another figure steps on the dark street, sword in hand. A tall, beardless human, with a bizarre horned helmet on his head.

“You thugs just serve to beat the weak and the helpless… Or other thugs. If you cannot leave those people unharmed, come and try me. Try a knight!”

GM: The cloaked thug looks about himself, his jerky motions suggesting alarm.
He suddenly turns and takes to his heels [not in the direction of his peers, either, but down a side alley].

From up the main street, the young woman can be heard screaming. The two thugs have caught her and have wrestled her to the ground! One of them looks to be trying to fit something over her head- a sack or a mask of some kind, perhaps?

[This is only about twenty yards away from where you all are standing].

Cirdan: Cirdan will attack the two thugs that are kidnapping the woman, without any further hesistation.

Bennedict: The bell on the shop door jingles lightly as Bennedict steps out into the night, his walking cane tapping lightly on the cobblestone as he steps away from “Carson’s Curios.” He hears the sign on the door flip from “open” to “closed” as he turns down a side street, walking with a bit of undue haste once he leaves the storefront. The search for a manuscript of Edgar Crouseau’s seminal masterpiece, “The Devil and HIs Apprentice,” had been a long, arduous, and in the end profitable one. He is looking forward to a night of relaxation, giving his eyes the night off from squinting at old, faded text by candle light and perhaps enjoying a warm bath. And, of course, making arrangements to ensure he was out of town before Carson realized that the document was a forgery.

Gehrman smiles under his grey mustache. “If the old man ever does figure it out,” he mumbles under his breath, feeling the heavy weight of the coins in his pocket.

Suddenly he rounds a corner, coming face to face with what appears to be a mugging in progress. Two men hold a woman to the cobblestone, while a third squares off against a trio of odd looking sorts twenty feet away, with Bennedict stuck more or less in the middle.

“Oh bother,” Bennedict says with a hint of irritation, pushing his glasses further up onto his nose. He turns and steps back towards the alley, waiting for the situation to resolve itself so he can be on his way.

Leon: Léon grinds his teeth and starts running towards the two assailants.

A deep groan resonates in the alley has he is approaching towards the man holding the mask. His cane firmly in hand pointing towards the thug he has the intention to correct.

“En garde!”

GM: The ruffian fleeing down the alley suddenly stumbles and falls motionless, slumping against the side of a building. He appears to be unconsious, although he neither hit his head nor was he attacked in any visible manner.

The two thugs accosting the young woman drop her rudely to the cobbles and make ready to defend themselves. The one on the right has a long clasp knife and the his companion on the left has a wooden club.

Cirdan attacks the club wielder. His longsword whistles through the air and catches the club-man across the chest. He shrieks in pain and counterattacks,wildly swinging his club at Cirdan’s head. BANG! Cirdan feels his ears ring as the blow connects with his helmet, but isn’t harmed.

The other thug slashes at Leon with his clasp-knife , but Leon is easily able to sidestep the arcing blade and counterattack with a punch. A mighty left hook sends the goon head over heels and leaves him sprawled in the street, groaning and dazed.

Norzak: Norzak appreciates his spell and mutters “serves ya right, ya durned thug!” AS he says so he spies the situation. Who is all these folks? Well them thugs ain’t got long. N where is the police around here. Sure are scarcer n an elf in a dwarf mine..

Norzak gets to one, knee and cocks his crossbow. Pointing it at the club weilder, he takes aim, but holds his actionm to see what will become of the altercation.

Bennedict: Casitng about in all directions, Bennedict is unable to spy a law enforcement official to come break up the ruckus. Of course, they’re always around when you don’t want them he thinks, ruefully, to himself. Just then, he noticed one of the ruffians attacking the women drop something off to one side. Eyeing both groups of combatants with suspicion, he edged towards the dropped item, his curiosity piqued. He kept the words to the Ezran prayer of sanctuary on the tip of his tongue, however, in case anyone got any funny ideas about dragging him into the scrum.

Leon: Léon flexes his muscles and looks menacingly at the club wielding thug while keeping an eye on the one laying on the ground.

“A gentleman should escort this lady elsewhere. It is still time to run, human. "

GM: The club weilding ruffian drops his weapon and flees headlong into the night, leaving a spotty trail of blood on the cobbles as he goes.

Leon is able to easily pin the other fellow before he can regain his senses.

The young woman gets to her feet and takes a moment to compose herself. Once she’s got her breathing under control, she speaks:

‘’Thank you, brave heroes, for rescuing me! ’’

Bennedict recovers the dropped object. It turns out to be a velvet pouch with something heavy inside.

On the ground nearby lies a mask with breathing holes made from a heavy cloth sack, a short length of cord, and a gray kerchief.

Bennedict: Bennedict watches as the third ruffian attacking the woman flees into the night, glad that the exchange is over but suddenly concerned that now he’s the only one left. He shoves the velvet pouch into his pack for examination later and steps forward cautiously, looking back and forth between the standing combatants and the now upright woman.

“Anyone care to elaborate on what just transpired?” he asks, an eyebrow arched inquisitively.

Norzak: Norzak surveyed the scene once more.Secure in the knowledge no more thugs were there, he put away his crossbow. He eyed each rescuer up and down, taking their measure.Now that’s an odd looking fella for sure. Thenthe question was asked. Spitting on the ground and eyeing Bennedict as well as the others suspiciously, he asks. “Who’s doin tha asking?Ya don’t look like no POLICEta me, bub.”

Norzak crosses his arms over his chest.

Bennedict: “You are no gendarme yourself, herr dwarf,” Bennedict crossly returned, “And I am simply a passerby who happened to stumble upon you and your confederates fighting with those other men.”

Leon: " I believe this ruffian I am holding on the pavement ought to answer your interrogations, monsieur. This mask they were carrying seems to indicate a darker intention than the mere robbery of this demoiselle’s purse.

It is a gentleman’s duty to intervene in this kind of situation, oui? Is my hat still in place?"

Léon lets out a sinister laugh.

Léon removes the hood of the thug and tries to strengthen his grip.

Norzak: Norzak approaches the thug even as he speaks with Bennedict.“I am no police either, I just ’appened to come along and the three maroons were accostin this here lady.” Now as he removes his short sword and tests its sharpness he speaks with the thug. “We can do this the easy way, ‘n you answer these folk, or we can do it my way, ’n you’ll learn how sharp a dwarf smithy hones a blade. I hope for yer sake yer feelin nigh talkative.”

GM: The man tries to break free when his hood is pulled back- but he isn’t strong enough to escape. After struggling for a moment, he relents.

He doesn’t looks familiar to any of you. He’s maybe thirty years old, with lank brown hair and a lazy left eye, and a prominent scar on his right cheek Looks unsavory- typical riverfront scum. More muscle than brains, from the look of him.

‘’You lot had better let me loose, if you know what’s good for you! My friends will be looking for me.’’

The bravo looks a bit shaken at Norzak’s words.

‘’Errr.. maybe we can talk. How about you let me up?’’

Meanwhile , the young woman seems to have latched onto Cirdan. She is gazing at him with frank admiration.

‘’Noble sir, would you escort me to my father’s house? I’m certain he’ll want to meet my rescuers.’’

[You are all able to get a better look at the young woman now that the fighting is over. She’s just over five feet tall, a redhead, and quite good-looking. Her black dress is nicely made, if a bit torn and soiled.]

Cirdan: After having his opponent flee, Cirdan takes a moment to clean his weapon from the thug’s blood, while the others are still fighting. “Aah… Victorious again.”

As the young woman addresses him, he turns around and bows.

“It was an honour to serve you, mylady. I will escort you to your father’s home, but know that I expect no reward. To protect the innocent is my holy oath.”

GM: The young lady smiles at Cirdan’s gallant words.

‘’I am Evangeline Sancerre- what is your name, good sir knight?’’

Bennedict: Bennedict’s lips twist into a frown of irritation. He glares down at the man lying under the large caliban’s boot.

“Perhaps you should give an accounting for your actions, if you wish to be allowed to stand. The dwarf seems itching for the chance to inflict unpleasantness on you, so perhaps you should consider loosening your toungue.”

With that, he stoops to pick up the discarded mask from the ground, holding by finger tips to keep any filth from getting onto his clothing, but examining it with a critical eye all the same.

GM: The man pinned by Leon responds to Bennedict:

‘’ Fair enough- I’ll tell you what you want to know and you let me go free. Deal?’’

Norzak: “Awright sounds good to me. But if I get the feelin’ yer pulling my beard, Imma cut ya a new smile right on yer throat, ya mangy rat.”

Cirdan: “Mylady, know that I am noble Cirdan Carnesir from Nechuvar Springs in beautiful Darkon, knight apprentice of the Eternal Order.”

Cirdan will offer his arm to the lady.

“Let’s leave this gory scene quickly. These men might find more pleasure in the bloodwork than our kind would do.”

With Evangeline holding his arm, Cirdan will approach the others,
take out his purse, count a coin for each man, and hand them to Bennedict.

“Thank you for your effort, good man. Distribute those among your companions.
- No, don’t thank me for my generosity, I know that this is likely to be a fortune for your kind.
Please, compliment this miscreant to the next police officer’s station.”

Leon: Léon snarls

" I see that the lady isn’t bothered by the presence of this rascal. Be quick with the interrogation gentlemen, I do not wish to stain my boots."

Still holding the thug, the mighty caliban’s eyes light up with anger.

" As for you, monsieur Carnesir, I will NOT tolerate this kind of arrogance. This insult would merit you my glove on the cheek if my hands were not busy dealing with your dirty work."

Bennedict: Bennedict continues holding the mask at arm’s length between thumb and forefinger. Examining it with a critical eye, he tries to determine what its purpose might have been. It certainly did not appear to be like anything he had seen a man on the street wearing previously.

“Perhaps you might put forth a bit more information, friend,” he offered to the man on the ground, “These fellows don’t seem inclined to let you live, let alone set you free. You’ll have to provide some accounting for your actions if you want to be done any favors.”

As he speaks, he slips the mademoiselle’s money into a back pocket. With any luck the brutes would never notice that he had neglected to provide them with their share of the reward.

Norzak: Norzak spits on the ground in front of him, in Cirdan’s direction. “I din’t ask fer none a yer coin, and if I really needed it that bad, I’d rather take it from ya when yer not lookin’. I Kinna gather me own at that, thanks. I did this deed on’y ta help tha missus as it is the right thing ta do, bub. Keep yer coin.” Norzak says as he eyes the thug now.

Caressing his short sword, as if testing its sharpness, he eyes the thug. “Now Imma thinkin ya know more n ya sayin. So bafore I decide to test how sharp this here dwarvish blade is, ya best git spewin else not only you’ll have a new smile but a few less digits too!” Norzal laughs good heartedly at his own humor, but the look in his eyes tells the real tale. He is dead serious.

Cirdan: Cirdan raises an eyebrow. "Well, you are some ill-mannered people! – I was far from insulting you. It seemed just that you looked like people who could use a coin or two and I meant to be gentle. "

Addressing Leon in particular: “- Now, you SIR ogre, we can settle our impending affairs as soon as I have escorted this lady home. You can be sure that I wouldn’t have accepted your help in this fight, had I known what you are.”

And to Evangeline, with lower voice. “I apologize to mylady that she has to watch such an abomination walk among us men, as if he was an equal.”

Norzak: Norzak sighs. As much as he’s like for both of these people to fight, maybe it would be a better idea to go somewhere quiet after they take care of this thug.

“He aint lookin’ like no Ogre ta me, ya pointy eared fancy talker. We just saved this here ma’am. Why don’t we just get the information we can from this” he points his short sword at the thug “dimbulb. Then, Oh yeah, I guess we should be helpin this here human female to her home. Then go get better acquainted at some pub? Nothing better ‘n’ a keg and a ton ‘o’ pints to solve any differences. We did do purty good together. I ain’t no martyr meself but I think maybe we kinna get ta talkin with a few pints in us. Whatta ya say?”

He looks pointedly at Cirdan then Leon. “C’mon fellas. Why fight? Get this dame home then have a pint on me. Whattas ya say?”

GM: Evangeline seems a bit taken back by the conversation between her rescuers.

‘’Oh yes, please don’t fight, noble sirs. It would be a pity to see you come to blows with one another. ’’

She pulls a little closer to Cirdan and says,

’’I’m sure you must be mistaken about him- he is no ogre. He is merely different in appearance from you or I. Surely that is not a reason to be unkind to him.’’

Leon: " A fine idea my dwarven friend. Enough blood was spilled in this alley already."

Léon looks at the trail of blood left by the thug and then turns his head towards Norzak with a grin.

" Muhahahaha I will gladly take this pint dwarf. Let me get some words of this fellow. "

The sinister laugh resonates in the narrow street. Monsieur Delamarre then procedes to grab the throat of the remaining ruffian.

" It is now time to talk monsieur, we don’t have all night. What kind of coward would try to kidnap women? What are you getting from this? S’il vous plaît, tell me before I am forced to rough you up."

Norzak: " ‘N’ cut ya up good n feed ya ta the pidgeons, mack. Answer the fella else i chops off a one a ya finegrs" Norzak grins evilly at that prospect and simply points his sword at the man menacingly, eyes as hard as the stone he mines.

Cirdan: “As you say, mylady, it won’t happen anymore.”

As Leon goes on to torture the thug, Cirdan takes out a silk handkerchief, and puts it over his nose, mumbling somewhat like: “Effective, but so disgusting…”

GM: Before Leon hurts him much, the thug begins talking:

‘’We were hired to take her by a man at the Sign of the Two Goats- he wore a blue cloak- I swear I don’t know his name. Big fellow, with a black beard. He paid us coin, promised more when we brought her to him at the Goats. That’s all I know! ’’

While Leon interrogates the criminal, Evangeline gives Cirdan the directions to her father’s house.

Bennedict: Kidnapping for hire? Bennedict thinks. I knew this place was rough, but that’s a little extreme even for me. Maybe I should have stayed in Port-a-Lucine.

“Well, I appreciate the candor, but I have a feeling that won’t convince these gentlemen to release you.” Bennedict holds up the mask, which he recognizes as an implement useful to kidnappers which blinds and disorients the target while providing them with an airway. “This is somewhat more sophisticated an implement than your typical mugger or street thug has available. This makes me think you and your friends are perhaps a bit more experienced with this kidnapping for hire business than I’m entirely comfortable with.”

GM: The man goes deathly pale as Bennedict speaks. After a drawn out silence , he confesses:

’’We’ve done this sort of work before. Girl catches a rich fellow’s eye, he hires us to take her. It’s just business- we don’t take any liberties, if you know what I mean. ’’

Bennedict: Bennedict sighs, dropping the mask back to the street. That’s what I was afraid of. It’s idiots like this that give honest crooks a bad name. This fool will be lucky if the elf doesn’t finish him off right here for attacking women.

“That is truly revolting, sir. I think perhaps you should consider a new line of work, for your longevity’s sake if nothing else. Would you consider it likely, then, that your compatriots or another group hired by this gentleman will make another attempt on the mademoiselle?”

Leon: " I believe a lesson should be taught to this blue cloaked sire. What was his name again mon ami? "

Léon snarls, revealing his wicked and strangely white dentures to the intimidated thug.

It is not time to let your temper take over.. It isn’t the time to attract attention on you, imbécile. Who are you to correct anyone?

-But this slime does deserve a lesson..

Alright.. Just a quick one to the kidney to soften him in up.

Alright.. Just a quick one to the kidney to soften him in up.Norzak: “Ya ain’t any smarter n a door nail, fool.” Norzak approaches the thug and stands right in front of him. Eyeing him with disgust, he spits in his face, then with his free hand just punches the thug in the crotch twice. Standing back. “Ya better choose a different career, cuz ya give types like meself a bad name, ya dimwit. My short sword” he sheathes it at this point, disgusted with the thug “well ya don’t even deserve ta breath the air I does. Do what ya want with this loser, Imma thinking this blue cloaked fella needs his face rearranged. Kidnapping, Bah! Who wants to go to this Goat Inn place? Mebbe this turd can really describe the blue cloak so we know who to look for.”

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