Mists Over the Musarde

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.

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