Mists Over the Musarde

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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