The air in the place was hazy, as you strain your eyes to look around...must be from the cigar smoke, you thought. You counted eight oaken tables with mahogany chairs, with stools at the counter. People huddled together, whispering, and looking around to see who was listening. Like if you didn't know what they were talking about. It wasn't exactly a news flash that Westcrown was heading to hell in a hand basket, given the number of disappearances, the escalating murder rate, and the monsters that prowled the night. Yeah, you knew all too well the troubles Westcrown faced, as you took another sip of your drink and finished it.
The place was still pretty crowded (after all, the Crossed Swords tavern was one of the cheapest around in the Rego Scripa or Scribe Sector of the city) but a few of the regulars had left by now, hurrying home before the curfew. Curfew?! Bah! The hell with it, you thought, let the shadow beasts come for me! Nothing left, anyways...nothing to do but wait and die. And have another drink, of course! Besides, you still had 45 minutes to kill.
As you raise your hand to call the serving girl, four armed dottari (city guards) burst into the establishment. All of the patrons froze, accustomed to these entrances. Their leader, a man named Lars Tannerson, spoke, "By Order of the Lord Mayor Aberian Arvanxi, the following people are required to attend the funeral procession of Armin Velbottis." The guard captain then signaled to six of the tavern's customers, seemingly at random, his finger, thankfully for you, falling on a person next to or near you. He then continued, "You six, your appearance is mandatory tomorrow at noon at the Qatada Nessudidia. Failure to appear will have severe consequences, including but not limited to fines, appropriation of any properties and/or business, and/or exile to the Rego Cader ("Dead Sector")." The people present in the tavern gasped in horror at the reference to the fancy term given to the Northern ruins of Westcrown, mostly abandoned by the dottari and now home to cutthroats, barbaric humanoids, goblins, tieflings, and horrific monsters from nightmares. The guard captain finally directed his comments to his men, "Check their papers and get their information." Turning back to the crowd, he said, "Have a good evening" and walked out, crossing a name off a list. You hear curses under their breath, as the six people reluctantly show their papers and then leave, worried looks on their faces, a pretty red-haired halfling girl among them.
A thunderclap! Seems like rain is coming. Good! Hope the dottari catch a cold this evening, drafting mourners! Well, that was someone else's problem, right? You were lucky today to have missed the draft..now where was that serving girl? You only had 30 minutes of drinking left!
Hrumph. Attend a funeral or have one thrown in your honor. So that's the way of it these days? Gregor says to no one in particular as he considers his near empty cup..hoping it will be replaced by a full one before too much time passes.
Naeli sunk deeper into her hood as the door banged shut, like the strike of a gavel dooming the chosen few. She had nearly leapt from her seat when the dottari unit came in, ready to fight for her life. As the captain had read his pronouncement she had slowly calmed, and now, in the aftermath as the tavern’s patrons made light of the “draft” and settled in to drink the establishment closed, a pervasive feeling of gloom settled over her.
She had fled her family’s estate three nights before, in the aftermath of that chaotic situation. Her father had already been taken, her stepmother unwilling even to look at her. You brought me into this mess, woman, and now you don’t have the courtesy to explain what had happened. She knew only the vague outlines of the mess, her father’s illness. The accusations.
Oh, father. What have you done? If you’ve damned this family a second time I’ll never forgive you. She did not necessarily believe the charges. Armin had found himself on the wrong side of what passed for the law in Westcrown for many years now. But even if he had done those things, foolish and wicked though they may be, he had not deserved to die for them….and to be trussed up and displayed to all the city for the edification of the dottari. He had always been cautious, had always, as he was wont to say, “kept it in the family.” Which meant someone had known and someone had told. Someone would pay.
The city was going to hell and appeared ready to take her family with it. She sipped slowly at her ale, lost in thought.
Jerod pushed open the door to the smoky tavern, averting his face to cough momentarily as he entered. He was covered from head to toe in plain, but well-crafted garb of commoner's colors, a hooded cloak thrown about his shoulders and pulled over his face. The rain had already made its presence known outside, his cloak sprinkled with a sheen evidenced of its onset. His quiet, measured steps padded to the bar counter where he took an empty stool. There he discussed price and order with the bartender after settling into his chair, hunching down over the counter and not bothering to look around.
After receiving his drink, he quietly nursed his mug while relaxing and listening to any background conversation. Despite his dress, he seemed a little too clean, a little too well-mannered; these two details might make him appear out of place to the observant eye.
"Oh the usual, cheap drinks, long hours, and...." Stopping to take a look at the new comer: "The interesting crowd."
Taking a moment to peer around the tavern: "Sure beats walking the streets afraid you might not make it back to your bed!" Raising his voice, he continues on his tirade..."If it's not kidnappings or murders during the day, it's these 'disappearances' at night. And what are our 'protectors' doing? They are recruiting for funeral detail!"
If it's not kidnappings or murders during the day, it's these 'disappearances' at night. And what are our 'protectors' doing? They are recruiting for funeral detail!
Shaken from her brooding by the booming voice, Naeli eyed the loud one from her shadowed corner table.
The dottari are slipping, she thought. Its these types they need to sweep up. From what little she'd gleaned since her return, she'd come to understand that men willing to stand up and make themselves known were an increasing rarity. This could get interesting...
Turning his hooded head as the voice of the upstart grew louder, he listened intently. "Here, here!" he emphasized upon hearing the mention of disappearances and darker days. He slammed his fist down in agreement. "They don't even pretend to care or investigate, even for people that are important!" He added as he raised his mug, some of the ale spilling out onto the counter. "Recruiting for funerals..." he ended shaking his head, his words dripping with venom.
The proprietor, a big belly of a man in his late 40s, steps out from the behind the bar, with a worried look, "Please, kind sirs, no need for such open talk here in my place of business. Dem's words be getting you in trouble with the dottari and I don't wants no trouble, ya hear?"
Suddenly, another man, in his early 40's, graying hair, two day old stubble, speaks up, "Bah, don't worry, Lou, those young 'uns just talkin' trash, blowin' off steam. Bah! What they gonna do? Them three against five thousand dottari in the city? Hahahaha! That'll be the day! I'll pay to see that. Wake me when it happens."
Lou replies, "Yeah, Zeke, how about you paying your bar tab once in awhile? That's what I want to see paid!" The bar erupts into laughter, as Zeke takes another drink of his ale and slinks back into his chair.
The serving girl, a blond young miss of 16 years, comes over and refills your drinks, "Please young sirs, Lou is right. That talk will get you killed. Try to remain calm, ok and I'll keep refilling those drinks of yours. If you die, I'm gonna lose customers. Ya don't want that, right?" She smiles as she leaves your tables.
Think I have set a record in getting thrown out of a bar! Didn't even get to meet the mysterious strangers! And... I might need to find a younger looking avatar for Pallius....
His grin now banished with the emergence of Lou, he stands to greet the owner. Pallius reaches to put his hand on Lou's shoulder to try and ease his concern. "Causing you trouble was not my intent, Lou. You can throw me out if you like, and everyone here can attest to it."
Diplomacy to improve Lou's Attitude?1d20 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 1 = 4 Going to start sacrificing dice to appease the Paizo Roller...
Smiling as the serving girl leaves and his drink now full, he turns back to Lou. "I'll keep from bringing you more trouble, but I stand by my words."
I'm thinking of trying to convince Lou to kick Pallius out after all (Bluff check?) so as to get a word in with him away from prying eyes -- but I don't want to derail your prequel set piece, obviously. Thoughts?
After watching the exchange between Lou the proprietor and the unnamed upstart, Jerod heated his mug with ease and removed himself from his stool. He approached the man and asked, "Don't mind if I join you fine sir, do ya? Might I have your name? " Without really waiting for a response he took a seat, waving a hand for the serving girl to refill their drinks and add the man's tab to his own.
Seeing her opening, Naeli detached herself from her corner post and siddled up to the tavern's proprietor.
"Good sir, a word?" She leaned in close, as if imparting some dred secret or choice bit of gossip. "I couldn't help but overhear....it is good of you to warn away such talk at your establishment. I know for a fact there are at least two dottari agents in the crowd tonight. Why do you think the Crossed Swords was targeted this eve?"
With a tilt of her head, Naeli indicated the rabble-rouser and the few others he seemed to be chatting with. "Look! Even now after your fair warning he conspires with the like-minded. Perhaps you ought to ask him to leave after all? I would hate for your name to be on the dottari's list tomorrow. I quite enjoy this place...."
"You may call me Jerod, my good man! A pleasure to make your acquaintance. Please, feel free to drink and enjoy yourself, " he added, waving the inconvenience away with his hand, "... no no, I insist, it's on me. Your words struck a chord and it's been a long time coming since anyone's taken a stand around here. "
Seeing her opening, Naeli detached herself from her corner post and siddled up to the tavern's proprietor. ** spoiler omitted **
Lou stops and listens for a second. Then privately, he says, "That's interesting, two you say? And might you be one of them? Cuz' I never seen you in my bar till tonite. And my bar wasn't targeted, little lady. Didn't you see the dottari captain cross something off on a list? Seems my place was one of many on their draft stop. See, him over there, that's Jerod Winstrom, he's an actor of some renown. I know he's no dottari. As for dottari spies, they're usually poor souls who would sell their mother for some coin. Look at those fellas. Scale armor, greatswords, those don't scream dottari, they scream mercs with coin. So, I don't know what your play here is little lady, but it didn't work, so best go back to your seat before I kick you out. If you want to hustle those sods, do it on your own time, don't be getting me involved! Got me?"
Worth one last shot, I think. Naeli's mood can't get much worse...;-)
Naeli's smirk straightened into a tight line. For a moment she thought about giving in to the whispers...throwing her cloak off and letting the reality of who she was come loose for all to see, reveling in the perverse pleasure she felt as the claws came out, plunging them into this fool's fat face...
No. He's done nothing wrong. He's just running a slightly seedy little bar here. His sort aren't the problem in this town. But I have one more play to make. She spares another glance back at the group. And if he tosses me out, that would get their attention to, wouldn't it now...
Smirk again, she said"And what if I am the spy? Might be I misheard what you said to that man, hmmm? Might be I heard, with my very own ears, Lou of the Crossed Swords say 'Hear, hear! Any enemy of the dottari is a friend of mine!' Might be YOU I saw plotting with the big one over there this night..."
Disregard previous per PMs "Hmmmph." Naeli leaned away from Lou, a drew herself upon in faux disdain. "Fine. It's on you when those thugs next come knocking. Though apparently they'll be in good company here."
Well that didn't go well. Need to be more careful until I get they lay of things here. She had been gone too long.
Naeli broke away from whispering with the tavern keep and returned to her seat with a sour look on her face, hoping that too many about the place didn't see or hear much. Not likely, drinking their way to cup-bottom 20 minutes 'til close.
She sipped her mug, keeping an eye and an ear on the soldier-looking type and his new dandy friend.
Seating himself back in his chair, Pallius retrieves his mug and takes a long pull. With a lowered voice he begins again: "So Jerod, what drove you here? The rain? The cheap drinks? But where are my manners?" Extending his hand palm up to acknowledge the brown haired, blue eyed man. "This one here is Gregor. Gregor, Jerod. Jerod, Gregor." After his hand pointing introductions are finished, Pallius enjoys another sampling of beverage while looking over his shoulder for other 'interested' patrons.
Male HP 10/10 AC 18/12/17 F +2, R +1, W +2 Initiative +1, Perception +3
Poshment stands in the corner, a mug of ale in his hand growing warm as he doesn't seem to be paying it much attention. He watches as the events of the night unfold. He pays particular attention to the cries of the people who are fed up with the current situation in Westcrown. I agree things really are starting to get out of hand...I just wish I was trusted more to take things into my own hands he thinks as he takes a sip from his mug and then makes a face. He still hasn't gotten used to the taste of ale.
Flashing a signature smile at the question, Jerod leans back in his chair comfortably, then takes a swig of his ale as if mulling it over. "Ah, you know, just like to get away from it all, take a breather, remove myself from more complicated things and clear my head. The showmanship required of rubbing elbows and perfecting my craft sometimes drains even I. " He takes another gulp of his ale and let's out a sigh. "Bitter and cheap, he mentions, referring to the ale, "...provides a nice contrast to remind me where I come from. And, I guess, where I'm headed, where I've been. "
While the conversations continue throughout the bar, most people start to leave, as the curfew approaches, until the only people left in the bar are Gus, four regulars, and the party members. The rain continues outside, getting heavier as the night progresses.
As you listen to the hypnotic rhythm of the rain drops landing on the wooden roof, you are suddenly jarred by a male scream of "HELP!" coming from outside. As you regain your senses, you hear the scream again!
At the second shout, Naeli starts to stand before remembering herself.
As the others in the tavern began to react, she wondered....A good man will answer another's cry. Let me see what these few are made of. Follow their lead... She still wasn't sure of her place in the city and could ill afford to draw attention to herself.
Just when he was about to regale his two new friends with a tale about the finery of acting and the tribulations revolved therein and all around the business, he startled at the sound of the scream, spilling his mug in the process. Collecting himself, and with a quick glance around hoping no one had seen his reaction, he sighed, looking at the beer now darkening the wooden table.
"Did anyone hear that? Or have I drank more than I...," but he didn't get to finish as he was cut off by the next plea for help. Jerod flicked his eyes back and forth between the two men, gauging their reactions as he stood up from his chair. "Could be someone getting assaulted, or worse. Maybe we should investigate, before it's too late?" Whatever it was, he knew one thing; he didn't like the idea of having to swim for help, but from the sound of the torrent hitting the roof outside, it seemed less of a stretch every second.
As Pallius rushes out the door, into the rain, he looks east in the direction of the scream and sees a man, about mid-30's, stumbling around and gripping the left side of his ribs with his right hand, though blood continues to trickle out from an apparent wound. The man wields a short sword in his left hand, which is also stained with blood. When he sees the big warrior, he runs toward him, "Oh, thank the gods! Please help me, they're after me!" he says, through gritted teeth.
After asking the proprietor for his rapier, Jerod follows Pallius and Gregor, but he stops in the frame of the doorway, watching for signs of danger. After his attention is brought to the wounded man, he steps out into the rain, calling out, "Call me no doctor, but I dare say this man needs immediate medical attention. We should hurry him inside, perhaps Lou has something that can put a damper on that.." he finishes, making a dreadful face at the wound and shaking his head, as though it looks rather painful.
Jerod looks for signs of any attackers, but is careful to position himself in the safety between the Crossed Swords and Pallius and Gregor, just in case. "Here, allow me."
Casts Dancing Lights towards the East, beyond the man, keeping them about 15ft above the ground and 30ft out, each light stretched to cover as much distance as possible. If there are no signs of hostility, he will move them in that general direction, searching the area.
Male HP 10/10 AC 18/12/17 F +2, R +1, W +2 Initiative +1, Perception +3
Poshment will take his longsword from the barkeep and then will rush to the street. Seeing the injured man he will rush to his side and start assessing the mans wounds. He will also cast a quick glance behind them an to see if he's being followed. If so he will try to determine if the pursuers are evil(Casts detect evil).
Heal check on injured man(untrained):1d20 + 0 ⇒ (5) + 0 = 5
Perception check to see if hes being followed:1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 17
As the man comes into the light, panting and huffing, drenched in sweat and rain, you see he has the eastern facial features of the Tian Xia lands, complete with Fu Manchu-style moustache. In response to Pallius, he says, "I..am...Ishiro, mayordomo to Levington estate." He pauses, as pain sets in and he struggles to get words out. "Goblins chasing, big green goblin men, clawed feet, swords." He points out his wound as he clutches it. Poshment comes over to help but inadvertently sticks his finger in the wound, causing more blood to flow out and Ishiro to scream in pain! "You stupid midget, that hurt!" He walks into the tavern, dropping his short sword on the floor with a clang, as he grasps a nearby table to avoid falling over.
Pallius scans the streets and even with Jerod's magically conjured lights, the streets are bare and the only sounds are those caused by the rain. Poshment detects no evil in the stranger or the area. The rain quickly washes away the blood from his hands.
Inside, Lou and some tavern folk are clearing a space for the man and gathering water in a basin, as well as bandages. However, no one there appears to be trained in first aid.
Ishiro is a little reluctant, probably due to his prior experience with the gnome, but due to the pain, finally consents to the treatment. Gregor does a decent job of treating the wound, and though he does not help Ishiro recover his health, at least he stops the blood loss. "Thank you, kind sir." Ishiro smiles faintly.
Gregor gets a few pats on the back from the tavern customers, including Zeke, who raises a glass of ale to him. The four remaining customers leave, wary of the curfew, one of them remarking, "Always an interesting day in Westcrown. Can't wait to hear the tale of this tomorrow. Later all, later Gus!" Gus says his goodbyes to them as well as they exit the tavern, while Zeke bids you all a good night and leaves as well, heading upstairs.