7 years ago...
Thick, sausage like fingers, glittering with dozens of ruby-studded gold ornaments, gently caress the parchment wrapping of parcel some 6 inches to a side and carefully tied with a length of fine twine in a series of intricate knots (a cunning system, no doubt, to indicate whether or not the package had been tamper with). Your eyes slowly glide up the the arm of the owner of those digits to where it disappears behind the high back of and overstuffed, scarlet-dyed leather office chair. Normally a slave would not dare cast her sight up from the floor without invitation, but Lord Bartolo Mezinas, patriarch of House Mezinas (least of the 12 high noble families, but still only a stone’s throw from true royalty), seemed distracted. He was facing the picturesque view of the city of Westcrown’s Rego Pena, sprawled out several stories below the window of his ostentatious personal library, high in one of the palatial manor’s numerous spires.
The clock-tower tolled 7 times, its low bell reverberating through the metropolis; a sad, ominous sound-the dark face of its source just as stark and brooding against the twilight sky. The last of the fuchsia and pumpkin-orange that painted the horizon were quickly retreating as the sun nearly disappears completely from sight. Soon would be time of the shadow beasts and the Westcrown was as still and silent as the pale of death. Where other cities were bustling long after nightfall, even the bravest of burglars rarely braved the dark of night, lest they never be heard from again.
The corpulent noble heaves his girth to his feet and turns to face you, his thick lips twisted ever so slightly upward in a cruel smirk. His thin hair, streaked with gray at his temples, and numerous wrinkles left little question as to his age, but Lord Bartolo Mezinas’ many years spent on Golarion had done nothing to soften his vile heart. His beady eyes, barely visible beneath a heavy brow, flickered over to a small, brass lantern, filled with less than a half-pint of oil and back to the parcel that lay on his fine, darkwood desk. Atop it in crimson ink, scrawled in loopy hand, was the name Marcus Phandros, ruler of house Phandros, whose holding was at the far end of Coin Sector. The Mezinas family was rarely on speaking terms with any of those belonging to house Phandros. You’re lord’s intent is obvious:
This was going to be another of his sick, twisted, sadistic games. The oil in the lantern would barely be enough to make it halfway there taking main thoroughfares traveling at a healthy clip, to arrive with light to spare you would be forced to cut through alleyways and brave the increased dangers of both enterprising criminals with noses poking through windows and the mysterious creatures that stalked the night. To take the every so slightly safer streets you would be breaking the state-imposed curfew openly and risk the ire of the Hell Knights, who would not care if you were running errands at the behest of your lord. It was doubtful that old Bartolo actually cared if his his package was delivered (it was likely empty anyway, or contained something catastrophic, such as a curse or disease, for which you would be blamed), he merely enjoyed toying with the lives of his servants...his slaves.
The lord licked his lips in anticipation as he stood quiet for some time, enjoying watching these realizations dawn upon you. His cruelty-his evil-was stomach churning.
”I’ve a parcel for you to deliver, pet,” he utters softly and slowly. It was a rare occurrence that he graced any of his many servitors with a title other than “pet.” He thrived on respect, but rarely allowed for any trace of humanity to be shown to either halflings or tieflings. The bastard probably considered himself gracious by considering his slaves to be the equal of his many hounds. “It is to be delivered to the house of Phandros...promptly. I trust you know the way.” It wasn’t a question.
7 years ago...
The dales were quiet this evening; even the crickets and fireflies respected the almost reverent peace that occurred when the Bellflower Network held a meeting. Anyone glancing over the grassy hills outside of Westcrown would be stricken by their eerie silence; anyone not from Westcrown itself, that is. That city, stretched between the wilderness and the waves in all its splendor was quiet and dead come nightfall. And nightfall threatened to come soon. The sky held warm colors, a special kind of beauty-a beauty that promised both luck and secrets...halflings’ best friends. Only the keenest eyes could spot the small folk popping out of their expertly crafted burrows and skittering to a communal meeting hall.
You are no different. Finally old enough to be considered nearly an adult-finally old enough to undertake missions into the city proper and free slaves at great personal risk. Being a Bellflower agent was both a thing to be respected and feared. Too few Tillers reached retirement healthy and free. But that is the life of an agent; trading ones safety for the lives of others. And there was nothing more honest. Making your way to the meeting hall, you are one of the last few to arrive. The burrow was modestly furnished, with all dozen members present sitting cross-legged on a threadbare rug on the dirt floor. Fingers twisted into intricate, silent greetings as you join the circle. Shortly after all heads bow in prayer to various deities (Milani chief among them), blessing your communal space and your communal goals.
.:Greetings, friends:. the circle leader signs, keeping communication non-vocal in case any far reaching patrols should wander above. Roscoe Greenbottle, both a former slave and former privateer, had great experience in matters pertaining to both slavery and covert operations. His expertise had only wizened with age, and though his old bones were too weak for field work, a natural leader, he had been the obvious choice for Head Tiller of their chapter of the Bellflower Network. After granting a personal, albeit forced, smile to each member in turn.he continues, brushing his, long, silver-tinged hair from his eyes. .:I’ve just received word via missive:. his hands a blur, .:that there was a slave auction earlier this afternoon. Those unsold will be paraded to a prison camp as the sun sets. There they will be worked to naught but skin and bones, with no food or drink, no rest, and no hope.:. This was common practice for unwanted slaves. The old, the sick, and the frail. The state would work them in back-breaking menial labor until they collapsed at which point they would handed over to the temple be sacrificed to the Dark Prince, Asmodeus, or even to underground bidders wishing for live (however barely) blood for their disgusting operas to sate the gnashing teeth of sadistic nobles who frequent such disturbing affairs as a source of “entertainment.”
Once inside a prison camp in the heart of Westcrown under the command of Hell Knights, even the Bellflowers couldn’t hope to free the slaves if they had all of the Andoran Eagle Knights backing them; it would be suicidal to even make an attempt at their release.
.:But there is a chance, if we move quickly. The slaves will be transferred to the camp shortly. They will be led their by their slavers hoping to at least get meager coin for their “catches.”:. If one could hiss a sign, Roscoe’s hands were positively dripping with derision. He was normally passive and forgiving, but slavery was one evil he could not abide. .:There will be several halflings tied in a line, but only a man or two pulling them on. We can save them before they are handed over to the state for the price of a crust of bread and a tankard of ale. We can get them out of that vile city before night falls.:. As he continues he explains a simple plan and those assembled nod grimly.
Most of the halflings are to create distractions and try to lead the slavers away, while several will have slings at the ready from the dark recesses of alleyways, willing to knock the men unconscious if need be. Many would be willing to do more than that, but that level of violence and bloodshed was not within Bellflower philosophy. Roscoe offers you a special job, however. Once the slavers are indisposed you are to make your way quickly and quietly to the gathered slaves, release their bonds, and lead them safely to freedom.
.:Can you do this, sister Sophone?:. Roscoe inquires of you. .:I know that you are young and inexperienced, but I have faith in you. You have a good heart-a pure soul. Nothing can tarnish that, friend.:.
7 years ago...
It seems surreal. Though many miles from Egorian and nearly into Westcrown proper it is hard to believe that you are really free. It has been scant days since you washed your hands of the nobles’ blood and surveyed their gore splattered chambers one final time, but that last image has burned itself into your mind; a crimson soaked memory that would forever be with you. Their death scene seemed almost like a work of Ustlavan artwork, horrifying and haunting, but beautiful in a way. Beautiful like freedom. Beautiful like justice. Now, less than a mile from Westcrown’s gates, the city lies before you.
It is scenic against the painted sky of late afternoon, and oddly quiet, like someone took initiative and crafted the ideal city, but elected to leave it empty and silent to not disrupt is perfection. You’ve heard that dark, mysterious beasts prowl the streets at night, keeping everyone indoors after nightfall. There is even a curfew imposed by the Hell Knights that served as Cheliax’s elite military force in various armed branches. Had you arrived any later you know you would likely not be allowed in, and as a halfling, not be allowed to voice your displeasure without fear of taking a gauntlet upside the head (hopefully one without spiked, steel protrusions that Chelish armor was known for). Even free, those of halfling or tiefling blood were still second class citizens at best.
Which is, of course, why you have come. The Bellflower Network was said to be thick in and around Westcrown; hopefully you’d be able to find a discreet halfling who could point you in the right direction before you are snatched up by the Dottari, the stern city guard, for some crime, real or imagined. Hopefully you haven’t been discovered as the perpetrator of the crime and if you have, word hasn’t spread quickly. A halfling murderer likely wouldn’t even merit a skewed trial. You’d be burned as a sacrifice to Asmodeus within the week.
As you pass into the vast metropolis you draw a scowl from the Dottari, who were preparing to close and lock the rusted, iron portcullis for the night. It seems most businesses are closing with the rapidly setting sun.
2 years ago...
As you walk through the the rolling foothills on the frontier of Cheliax and Nidal, just South of the Menador Mountians, Dizzy must continually crane his neck and thump the side of his head, attempting to pour all of the sand that had inexplicably made it into his ear and lodged itself there earlier in the day while he had taken an after lunch-nap and Lyle was on watch. Where the sand came from this far inland Dizzy would likely never know, but it was uncomfortable none the less, and made for an awkward moment as a good sized chunk of grit loosed itself while making a conversation with a tinker passing on the winding dirt road. Any smiles from Lyle on the matter looked lopsided and broken however, as when he washed his face in a stream that morning he noticed something odd in his reflection. Several of his teeth had been somehow blacked with an oily tar that refused to budge no matter how hard he scrubbed. It caused no pain, nor tasted foul, but made his mouth look like that of an inbred hillbilly from the wilds of Varisia.
Overall it had been a relatively tame week between the two of you.
Sunlight was beginning to wane, softening the sky with a gentle rhapsody of color, and it wouldn’t be long before you would want to once again rest your travel weary feet and make camp, preferably somewhere sheltered by trees to avoid roadside brigands. In the next day or so you should come to the cross roads where your paths would unfortunately split; as Lyle would be turning toward Egorian to learn the fine art of conjuration he had expressed so much interest in, and Dizzy would be heading toward Westcrown to make good on his boast of being able to free all of the slaves in the city. You probably could have pressed to the split in the path with another couple of hours travel, but why starve yourself of one final evening of good companionship?
Veering from the path and heading toward a lightly wooded area perhaps a half mile off, your eyes catch the glimmer of a campfire and a whiff of smoke. From this distance it would be impossible to tell whether those on the edge of the small forest are bandits or men of a friendly sort like so many merchants on the road (both the worldly and respectable types along with the snake oil salesmen you just couldn’t help but get along with-either was preferable to the pompous fat men of the larger cities in most cases). A hot meal over a fire and the sharing of tales into the early hours of the morning was preferable to another night under the stars with just the to of you (both having run out of true stories-causing the only form of entertainment to be lies, boasts, and pranks that more often than not caused more problems than they solved).
As you head a bit closer, the twilight covering your approached, the wind carries with it a keening whine, like that of a wounded pup, coming from the direction of the encampment. A few muffled voices and laughter reaches you, but it is too far off to make out the details.
"I swear... You should have no trouble when you get to the Academy. You already made me in to a Sand Golem. Though they may not like your purdy mouth!" Dizzy laughed softly as they made their way to the fire.
At the sound of the whine, Dizzy frowns, holding up his hand for silence. 'What was that...?' Gesturing for Lyle to follow, Dizzy slips between the trees silently.
Stealth1d20 + 12 ⇒ (20) + 12 = 32
Slipping through the forest, with the grace of a Tian Fan Dancer, emitting no more noise than a ghost would, Dizzy moves from tree to tree, keeping his eyes peeled for any hint of trouble.
Perception1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
Regardless of the smoke and lack of light, Dizzy slips forward, towards the camp, keeping quite, his sickle ready.
20th Abadius, 4705 AR
By the time Lord Mezinas had turned his attention to her, Lupi Rhatwell had wiped all trace of fear off of her face. Yes, she knew the way to the Phandros estate, but it was quite a walk, and the light given to her with the parcel was obviously insufficient, and the old man seemed in disturbingly high spirits, which never meant much good for anyone else.
"Yes, sir." she replied melodically, fully aware that such gusto was out of place in the situation. With her fellow servants, this optimism was a reminder that life could be better, but in the presence of her master, it was a reminder of her own facade of control over her own destiny (or what one could call polite smart-assery).
It could be much worse; when I finally face the courts of the last judge, 'least I'll have died outside.
Lupi grasped the package to her breast as she made her way out of the spire. She began acclimating her senses to high-alert, and stealthily made her way out the back door, so as to avoid any other humanoid contact (though, with her fellow slaves, it was more of an evasion of a tearful farewell that could get them both punished).
Stealth:1d20 + 10 ⇒ (8) + 10 = 18
|Lyle "SkyCaller" Highhill|
20th Abadius, 4710 AR
2 years ago...
Your cautious steps do little to disturb the foliage, not even a dry leaf or cluster of rubble finds its way underfoot. The two of you become as silent as the dark shroud of night itself, darting between the twisted trees of the light woods. Each graceful footfall brings you closer to the source of both the mournful whines and the gay, muffled laughter of drunken men. The scent of a campfire, and with it roasting, herb-seasoned meat (lamb perhaps), reaches you. Dizzy's keen noses twitches at the additional odor of strong wine from a fresh bottle upwind. The flicker of light grows stronger with each moment and soon you find yourselves hidden among the shadows at the edge of a clearing, gazing out over a sad sight.
A chill gust of wind makes the flames licking out of a shallow pit dance wickedly over a nearly overcooked haunch of meat, punctuating the foul scene.
A dead wolf- a recently dead wolf- lays battered and smeared with gore at the far end of the clearing, bludgeoned to death. Aside it lay the crumpled forms of a couple of pups, just as motionless; their regal beauty and their lives stolen from them. A whimper draws your glare perhaps fifteen feet to the side. Four Chelish men, holding burning branches and cudgels, pass about a bottle of wine (a cheap but powerful vintage from the looks of things), rejoicing over their slaughter. They playfully argue between themselves over who was the most brutal and who would get which percent of the coin when they skin the "beasts" and sell their pelts. They have a final wolf pup, singed and with a bad cut on its brow, spilling crimson over one eye, held fast against a tree with a length of thin rope. It alternatively growls and whimpers, but it quite obviously defenseless. The poor creature looks more a dog than hulking silver furred beast that they can age into- it can't be more than a few weeks old, a few months at most.
With how little fur it would have to offer it couldn't possibly be worth the effort to skin it, scant coppers, and no one would dare show off a hunting trophy that small.
If it is possible, the humans' conversation takes an even darker turn just then, as they argue who gets to kill the final canine, the flickering firelight tinging their faces scarlet like vile hellspawn, matching their demeanor.
|Lyle "SkyCaller" Highhill|
|Lyle "SkyCaller" Highhill|
Lyle sits down at the base of a tree, and then pretends to wake, yawning loudly when Dizzy is far enough away. He stands, stretches, and seems surprised by the Chelish men in front of him.
"Ah, morning. Or is it afternoon? Never been able to tell. You chaps knows the way to the Academy? You know, the wizard one?"
7 years ago...
Despite the bustle of the Mezinas household (as both manor servants and family alike are more or less forced indoors with one another as the sun droops beneath the painted horizon), few eyes, if any, catch you scurry past and out one of the many rear doors of the mansion. Your knowledge of the holding’s twisting corridors and numerous alcoves serves you well to avoid unwanted attention. The walled in grounds around the palatial home were secure enough, as would be your path if you stuck to the main thoroughfares; at least for several minutes until twilight gives way to the full dark shroud of night. But Rego Pena could be a dangerous district. Hellspawn thugs could seem as malicious as the mysterious shadow beasts that prowled the night, merely due to the fact that they seemed so very much more “real” and distinguishable.
The quickly dimming evening light seemed oppressive. Lamp lighters were already working in full force, even if their actions would be for naught- no one sane wandered the streets at night and the flickering lantern light would do little to deter any real threats. The silence, silence unlike in any other city on this side of Golarion played an apt ballad, as if the world itself was telling you that you marched to your doom.
It wasn’t a minute after you left the manor’s grounds and were into Rego Pena proper that you were first called attention to. A hiss from a shrouded alleyway and a beckoning claw of gnarled, boil-covered hand with the golden flesh of a tiefling claim your attention. There is a sniffing noise followed by a wracking, hacking cough of one sick with the consumption shortly after. The tip of bronze nose, overly wide with an enlarged wart on it, pokes forth from the inky blackness and inhales deeply.
”You carry iron, pet. Rusted iron. Rusted iron and...and...” Another mucusy sniffle- “is that? Yes...” A black-booted foot takes a step out of the darkness, the sound of its leather sole scraping on the cobblestones gives you goose-flesh. “Yes, yes, yes-” the voice grows exited and illicits more hacking. The figure bends forward as it does so, revealing Hellspawn fangs protruding over its top lip, while still shrouding its face and form. “You carry devil’s blood, a full vial. What is a pet like you doing with rusted iron and devil’s blood?” The voice sounds pleased, and amused perhaps, but also hungry- ravenously hungry, and not for food. “You excite me with the smell of infernal essence, pet!” He laughs, and doubles over again in a coughing fit. “You sacrificing something tonight, pet? Why don’t you give me the...” The voice pauses and you can almost feel a shudder of delight- “the devil’s blood like a good pet?”
20th Abadius, 4705 AR
Though Lupi had hardly opened her eyes, they still betrayed a crinkle of initial confusion, and then realization, followed by a touch of something that might be muted anger. Oddly enough, the halfling didn't flinch at the tiefling's appearance, either.
Oh, she was scared, but not as scared as she could have been. There was no revulsion on her face other than that corresponding to her newfound companion's smell, which betrayed itself as a subtle flaring of the nostrils, as if Lupi believed she could somehow make the muscles work in reverse to shut her olfactories off.
"I owe you some thanks," the halfling stated airily. "You may have just saved my life, but I cannot just hand you this. No, no... too close to the master's house. Besides that, what would you do with it?"
She straightened up and extended a hand to perhaps the only other wanderer of the dark lanes she'd encounter for a little while, at least.
"I know you could probably just kill me and have it done with, but.. if you have it in you to walk with me... just a lil' while... and talk some... I'll likely hand it over without a struggle."
7 years ago...
Quick as a hare and silent as a Westcrown night, after the Tillers had gathered their supplies and held tight their loved one last time the group regathered and exchanged determined nods and a final prayer. Skittering from cover to cover soon after, as your small lot approaches the city. Despite the sun still on the horizon (although most certainly retreating from sight slowly yet surely), the streets, you can see from the hills to the West of the city, are already being brightly lit by a series of fast working lamp-lighters, hoping to stave off the worst of the shadowy beasts that prowl the night.
Once you are within a quarter mile of the gates, you line of Bellflowers halt their advance. Many of them cringe as they here the rusty gate screech shut in the distance. The poor repair of the iron bars was purposeful, everyone knew. The rusted spikes served as an ominous warning to outsiders looking to bring trouble to the metropolis, or even just to dissuade travellers looking for a place to rest their weary legs after a fortnight on the road who are not aware of the dark danger’s in Cheliax’s shattered gem in the dead of night. The keen of the thick bars screaming shut was an alarm to the citizens as well, that soon it would be nightfall, and curfew would be enforced. “There will be no escaping,” it said, “stay indoors. Stay safe.”
After a moment’s hesitation and more than one nervous gulp, the string of halflings continued forth. You weren’t planning on using the main gate anyway. This many halflings striding INTO Westcrown would certainly draw too much attention from the Dottari, the guard, which was human supremecist in its own right anyway.
Once you reach the walls, your group’s best climber scampers up the wall with catlike grace and lowers a rope for the rest of you to scale. Not long after you are all in a dark alleyway, pressing into the shadows as a watchman passes over the top of the thick stone barrier, trying to ease your beating hearts. The freedom fighters go over their plan one last time; after ensuring you know the way to the point where you are to intercept the slavers, they offering you words of luck, and part ways, darting off into the inky blackness of the shadows, looking for positions to best ambush your targets, leaving you wholly alone.
At atmosphere of the Westcrown’s dusk is simply as oppressive as it is grand.
Sophone gulps. I can do this, I can do this... She is dressed in the clothes of a human street child, to avoid suspicion from Wiscrani passers-by. One step at a time... She takes a step, and then another. Soon, she is making her way through the backstreets, headed for the rendezvous point. She mentally reviewed the advice given to her by Roscoe. Hurry enough to look convincing, but not so much as to draw attention. She puts her head down, glancing furtively, but not too furtively, to the side whenever she passes an alley or intersection. Her feet patter almost noiselessly as she passes across the dark cobbles.
As she makes her way through the twilit city, her heart begins to beat a little less quickly. I'm doing it! I'm actually doing it! She imagines how Roscoe will congratulate her when she gets back, the grateful thanks of the soon-to-be-rescued slaves, perhaps even a smile of acknowledgement from a certain Duvey Copperpot... No, more than a smile, an acknowledgement; a compliment even! Sophone, you were so brave to rescue those slaves. I can see there's much more to you than I ever noticed before, he'd say. Say, Merrymead is coming up, are you going to be at the village dance? We could--
Suddenly, the real world intrudes on Sophone's reverie.
2 years ago...
1d20 ⇒ 18
1d20 ⇒ 7
1d20 ⇒ 8
1d20 ⇒ 3
The raucous, drunken laughter of the Chelish men quickly subsides as they turn with a bit of a start to regard the halfling suddenly within their midst. They lower their flaming brands to their sides, a couple near the back, younger blokes, elbow one another playfully and snicker derisively at Lyle, not bothering to cover their chuckles as they point at his small form. Glance over each shoulder at his compatriots, the nearest takes a few strides forward, cocky grin on his face. He wiggles his nose, as he strikes a mockingly pensive pose, causing his dark, glossy mustache to dance erratically.
”They let pups like you learn those magics now, eh?” He asks, rubbing his chin. ”I thought they just used you’re sort to feed the fiends.”
It appears that the Chelish racism runs deep within this one, though judging from the guffaws of his companions he isn’t the only one to succumb to it. Perhaps it is the relative seclusion of the copse of trees, the lack of civilization and authority, or the heavy drink (or a combination of the three), but they seem rather bold with their taunts.
”He is but a pup of a thing, isn’t he?” His friend concurs, briefly nodding toward the mangled bodies of the young wolves. “And we were just running out of pups, too.”
The one with the bottle of heady wine slowly circles about to the side, cocking his this way and that, examining the halfling as he gives a fairly wide berth. Throwing back his skull he downs the rest of the bottle in several large gulps, wiping his dribbling mouth on a already heavily-stained sleeve. Without warning he whips his arm out to the side and smashes the bottle against a nearby tree, the glass raining down around him briefly in a tinkling rhapsody, leaving him gripping the neck of the bottle like a jagged, makeshift knife.
”What do you think his pelts worth?” He jibes, though the cruel glint in his eye tells that he may not be speaking entirely in jest. The rest advance a couple of paces, fingering their cudgels, knives, and torches. Another whimper from the remaining, small wolf behind them punctuates their implied viciousness, drawing gales of near manic laughter from the quartet.
Stealth-1d20 + 12 ⇒ (10) + 12 = 22
Slipping up to the tree, Dizzy begins to saw at the rope, keeping his hands away from the pup, so as not to frighten it. As he gets part the way through the rope, he looks up, meeting the pups eyes slowly. The animal lets out a small whine. Dizzy smiles reassuringly, before cutting through the last part of the lead.
The pup stands there uncertain for a moment, before turning and slipping away in to the trees silently. 'Run hard little one. Get to safety and stay there!'
Twisting his sickle in his hands, he steps out from behind the tree, making sure the fire casts a very large shadow across the ground before him, but that he remains hidden, before he began to shout scream and curse, all in Infernal.
"LEAVE NOW VILE CREATURES OR I SHALL SELL YOU TO A SHEEP FARMER TO USE AS FEED BAGS!"
|Lyle "SkyCaller" Highhill|
"Not much, I'd wager. Halfling are everywhere you see and..." Lyle trails off as he hears the horrible words being screamed. "I can't understand that, but it still sounds bad. He draws his dagger, hoping it looks like he's drawing it against the Infernal speaker more them as he looks around questioningly.
2 years ago...
Checking for morale (Will save DC 10; with a -2 circumstance penalty for being intoxicated):
1d20 - 2 ⇒ (12) - 2 = 10
1d20 - 2 ⇒ (3) - 2 = 1
1d20 - 2 ⇒ (16) - 2 = 14
1d20 - 2 ⇒ (3) - 2 = 1
The men jump, startled with fright. Two of them drop their cudgels and burning brands and exchange worried glances, visibly paling in the flickering light as they shift nervously.
“Either the pup can really do magic or he’s devil-chased...or both,” one whispers to no one in particular.
“That, or one of them wolves was hell-spawned. I’m not taking any chances either way; We’re gettin’ out of here boss,” his likewise shaken friend concurs. The duo quickly slink off backward to the edge of the clearing centermost between where Lyle stands and where Dizzy called out in the infernal tongue, turning and breaking into a full on, all-out sprint through the trees as they pass beneath the boughs.
“Cowards! Where’s your Chelish pride!?” The one with the broken bottle crows derisively into the dark woods. “Come on then, little pup! I know that’s all you with your minor magics. I’ll have none of your halfling tricks. Let’s see if you are any good with that butterer,” he continues with a nod to his remaining companion who stand twisting the point of an ornate hunting dagger on his finger, obviously mistaking the source of the dark-speech as he advances on Lyle.
His friend glances over his shoulder one last time, apparently not quite as sure as he likewise takes a few tentative steps forward.
The two of you will want to roll initiative now. Likewise, you can both attempt an Intimidate check to demoralize your foes before combat begins; Lyle with the -4 penalty for being smaller than his foes, Dizzy without, since they have yet to see him.
I’ve got one coming for each of you tonight.
7 years ago...
“The iron I’d toss, little friend, for it...it...” The shrouded tiefling pauses to go into a cough fit and hacks a few globs of bloody mucus to the cobblestones. “It of of little use to me. No- I have no interest in ritualistic sacrifice which is all a rusted chunk of iron is used for. I bet that you carry a jagged, old dagger, long since spoiled to near uselessness by blood and age; am I right, small one? It is of no matter though...” More coughing sends the hellspawn doubled over once more and nearly to the street before you. “The blood is what I desire. It is more than merely used in sacrifice and diabolic ritual. It is also a potent drug to the infernal blooded like myself. The mere scent can drive us wild-” he raises a knobby, calloused hand to his nose and drags his blackened, claw-like nails across the bronzed flesh- “As surely as demon blood holds man slave, so too does the ichor that drips from a baatezu’s wounds for my kind. If a walk is all you desire in exchange, I will gladly give it, though we do not have long,” the cowled figure turns his head toward the rapidly darkening horizon. “I doubt the shadow beasts that prowl will be forgiving a nighttime stroll.”
He chuckles deeply and unnervingly. Though hellspawn and halflings were both second class citizens at best on Chelish streets it wasn’t often they were found together, at least in legal settings.
“Please...lead the way, small one.” What is exposed of his lips on his shrouded face twist into a smile, and a blood-red tounge lashes out over the protruding fangs.
"DROP THE WEAPONS AND LEAVE THE HALFMAN ALONE OR I TEAR OUT YOUR THROATS AND TWIST YOUR HEADS FROM YOUR BODIES!!"
Intimidate-1d20 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 2 = 7
Initiative-1d20 + 4 ⇒ (15) + 4 = 19
Seeing his words have less effect this time, Dizzy creeps forward, edging towards the leader silently.
Stealth-1d20 + 12 ⇒ (11) + 12 = 23
7 years ago...
A harsh, Chelish voice pulls you from your daydreaming. For a language that is so beautiful the words and phrases that were spoken it were too often harsh and undeniably brutal.
“Come on, you little runts. A least where you’ll be heading you’ll have a chance rather than stayin’ out here and being slaughtered by the shadow beasties!” A rattle of chains being violently yanked punctuates the man’s speech. Moments later at the head of an alley before you a corpulent and well dressed man wanders by. His clothes mark him as well off, but his worn work gloves and hard leather boots stained with dust and mud show that he his a man who is not afraid to regularly get his hands dirty with unsavory work. Clutched in the fat man’s mighty fist is a heavy length of chain, its rust revealing its age and use. Obviously unnecessarily large for the captives that it binds, it is a chain that symbolizes the enslavement and hopelessness of the the Chelish halfling kin under human rule.
As he passes out of sight seven short-folk follow in his wake, manacled at the wrists and ankles. Their emaciated frames and vacant expressions tell of horrors not seen by the common populace, or at least not experienced first hand, and is easily enough to cast a dark shadow over even the most hopeful of halfling’s heart.
The final in the line is a young halfling, perhaps in his twelfth year and already being dragged off to his untimely demise for a mere pittance. He turns, as luck would have it, to meet your gaze directly as he peers into the shadows, his face sullen but eyes pleading. It is uncertain if he sees through your disguise, or even if he notices you, possibly just staring off wishfully. He pauses for an instant before being cursed and and dragged forward. It is within seconds that the strike is set to occur, and sure enough a crack louder than expected echoes down the alley followed by a heavy thump. Peering out, you can see the unconscious slaver lying slumped against the wall, a thin trickle of blood emanating from his scalp and a tiny sling-stone lying on the street nearby. It had been a perfect hit.
The bound halflings cast about, confused.
20th Abadius, 4705 AR
Lupi began her trek, and while she was moving at a normal pace for a halfling, it would have been mercifully slow for the sickly tiefling. The woman wasn't craven, but any bit of company seemed better than none... especially on a night where she'd likely make a life-changing decision. She wouldn't make it all the way to the estate of Phandros (at least not while wanting to live, which she very much did). Nor could she go home.
She'd have to make a break for it eventually, but that break was as uncertain as the end of her current conversation.
"Will the blood help stop your pain?" Lupi asked quietly, ducking away from any bright sources of light amongst the backroads she's opted to take to attract less attention to both herself and her unsettling companion.
|Lyle "SkyCaller" Highhill|
Sophone peeks around the corner of the alley to make sure no other humans are visible, then darts out to the fallen slaver. "Please, everyone stay calm, I'm a friend," she whispers to the slaves, "We're going to get you out of here. But we need to be quiet, so we don't attract attention. Quickly, get into the alley." She looks at the fallen man, the blood making her a little queasy. She steadies herself, and checks the man's belt, and then in pouches and pockets, to find a key to unlock the manacles.