Modus Sharn's page

5 posts. Alias of thelesuit.


Oathday, 17 Desnus 4708
The last few days since our debacle at Eel’s End had been quiet. Most of us attempted to lay low and lick our wounds. I know I wasn’t eager to show my face anywhere north of Northgate Avenue. Damn Barvasi. I know that he isn’t going to let this rest and it is only a matter of time before our actions, or failure to act, comes back at us a hundredfold. Best not to dwell on that though, unless we want to return to Eel’s End and finish the job there is little we can do to stop whatever he might plan. No, Barvasi will keep.

OOC Yes, Modus is in denial. He has a tendency to not want to deal with things: his mother’s addictions, the disappearance of his father, Iralmi…even his relationships with his ex-wife, Erisana, and current girlfriend Elfrila. Maybe this will change as he grows more confident. But he hasn’t exactly been a “go getter” for most of his life. We’ll have to see if adventuring changes him. It would be nice to have a character that not only advances in level, but also grows and matures in his outlook.

The house on Lancet Street (Zellara’s old place) needs a lot of work. We don’t yet have title to the property but we are working on making that happen. Aula doesn’t think Zellara has any living descendants. It would be nice if we could turn her place into something befitting her memory. I think Aula wants to set up a storefront to sell some of her father’s wares. Apparently Master Wintrex isn’t well received in most quarters and having a shop that didn’t obviously bear his name might aide his fortunes. I think Crispin wants to open a pub. All I want is a place to call my own. My father was never able to aspire to much more than a shared tenement room in Bridgefront. None of my grandparents ever had the means to do more than rent or squat. And after my father left…well I was lucky to eat regularly. I wouldn’t call living with the succession of my mother’s paramours secure. And after her addictions wore her down to the point none would have her…we didn’t even have that. If nothing else Gaedren Lamm has insured I won’t have to go back to that. How quickly my fortunes have changed. I catch my reflection sometimes and I’m not sure who it is.

I was doing some cleaning on the main floor this morning – mostly sifting through the junk to see if any of it was salvageable. Cleaning, and watching Corvis. He had cornered a rat behind some old burnt boxes. I think he was just playing with it, as he always knew exactly where the rat would appear next. Of all of us he was probably the happiest to be leaving Eel’s End. When we got him out of there Amber and I carefully examined him. I don’t think pseudodragons have the same concept of time as humans, but the scars on his hide showed how ever long his captivity to the Spider King had been it hadn’t been pleasant. He seems to be recovering well enough – but nervous doesn’t begin to express his demeanor. I think the thing he enjoys most is spreading his wings and taking to the air. He is engaging to watch and inordinately proud of himself. He is still a little unsure after his confinement in that iron cage, but he is improving. I won’t be sad if he takes flight and decides not to return, but so far he seems content with my company. I wouldn’t call him a pet by any measure – I’m not sure what he is though.

I’m also not sure what to think of the rest of the group. What are we? Are we an adventuring party now? I never thought of myself as adventurous – but I suppose as a group we have certainly grown bold. Individually any one of the perils we have faced would have eaten us alive. We are stronger when we are together – but is that enough? Already I can feel each of us pulling in different directions. Aula is drawn to her magic and obligations to her family. Crispin is bound to his god. Amber has more in common with her ally cats than with most people. And Lem seems only to be using us as a cover for her scams and thievery. Am I any better? For now I think common cause unites us; but it would take little to fracture us entirely.

The others had gathered at Number 3 Lancet as well. Even though it is little more than a shell it seems more welcoming than the barracks at the Citadel where we are subject to the unfriendly glares of the Guard. Aula and Crispin joined me in what was once Zellara’s parlor where I taking a break and watching Corvis. Aula explained that if we wanted to legally claim Zellara’s townhouse we needed to fill out the proper forms with the Properties Bureau and tender a significant portion of the property’s value. We had pooled 400gp each – but that didn’t nearly cover the down payment. We agreed that we might be able to secure a loan from the Temple of Abadar. I was donning my new embroidered robe when an out of breath Guardsmen arrived at No. 3. Given his anxiety I shucked my new robe and eased into my old, torn affair – the Temple of Abadar would have to wait.

“The Field Marshal needs you urgently,” he sputtered. “You must come at once.”

Crispin summoned the others. We slung the exhausted guard between us and made all due haste to the Citadel.

Our summoning to the Citadel wasn’t much of a surprise. The streets had been in a major state of agitation since the latest rumors surfaced. According to most, the Curse of the Crimson Throne was still active; our late king already dying of the leprosy, had been poisoned. Regicide was a good a reason as any to rile the mobs to violence. Wild talk ran rampant in the streets. Strange figures in red masks had been seen in the city. Neolandus Kalepopolis the Castle Seneschal had mysteriously died in the riots. It was only a matter of time before something fanned the smoldering embers of the city into flame. Under the wary eyes of the duty Guardsmen we were conducted into Field Marshal Kroft’s office.

Kroft was quick in getting to the point. She had a lead on the King’s poisoner, a portrait painter named Trinia Sabor. She had apparently conspired with a guard named Sandricks to slip poison into the King’s tea. Sandricks had fallen off the wall of the Castle during questioning, but not before naming Trinia as his coconspirator. With all the violence in the streets and the Hellknights enforcing their own brand of “peace”, Kroft needed us to get to Trinia before some lynch mob found her. Her flat was at 42 Moon Street in Midlands right in the middle of the worst of the current street mob activity. She needed us to get into Midlands, find Trinia, and bring her back safely to the Citadel.

“I want to be absolutely sure of Trinia’s role in Eodred’s death,” Kroft assured us. “She’ll be safe here at the Citadel and we won’t have her dying during questioning.”

I knew it was going to be a busy day when I woke up, but I didn’t know it would get this busy so quickly.

We were all pretty familiar with the streets of Midland. Moon Street wasn’t far from the University of Korvosa. We made our way in haste through the riotous streets. We were doing okay until we got to Gryphon Row. A number of the little shops had broken windows and there was some indiscriminant looting and arson. But a crowd gathered around a young Shoanti boy stopped us cold. They had beaten him to the ground and were about to string him up over a broken shop sign frame. None of us were comfortable letting this continue. As an outsider myself I’ve always had a soft spot for the Shoanti – on the streets as a boy I had even picked up some of their fragmented lingo. With practice born from years living in the streets, Amber and I eel’ed through the crowd into the packed center. He was being held by two brutes – looked like stevedores or porters – and being beaten by another. I chain-stroked the first and he kissed the cobbles. Amber shrieked in the face of the beater which rocked him back on his heels. And I pulled the boy from the last one’s grasp before he realized his fun was at an end. Lem ascended the side of a nearby building and her barks and growls quickly got the crowd’s attention. Amber grabbed the boy and sheltered him while I eased the mob back with my whirling battle chain. Lem dropped into the crowd snarling, biting, and threatening all sorts of mayhem with her blades. It took them little time to realize that despite her size she was mad enough to take them all on. They rapidly dispersed to find easier prey. Amber made sure the boy was alright.

“Don’t worry boy, we won’t hurt you,” I told him.

“Thank you dark one. I will not forget your kindness,” the boy answered. He then darted off into an alley. Lem thought to give chase, but we convinced her that we had other business to be about.

Moon Street was quiet. An old woman sat on the stoop in front of Number 42. She turned out to be the landlord and we told her we were her to see on of her tenants: Trinia Sabor. She indicated that Trinia was in #C on the third floor. On the way in another of the tenants told us that Trinia hadn’t been home in days. We told him we would try her door anyway. He grumbled but left us to our business. We made our way up to the third floor and stopped outside the door to #C. Amber continued upward to the Shingles to make sure Trinia didn’t try to slip away over the rooftops. Listening at the door we heard nothing.

“Miss Trinia Sabor, we are here from the Korvosan Guard,” Crispin barked as he banged on the door. “We would like to speak with you.”

Lem and I winced, “So much for the element of surprise.” Lem made short work of the lock and we advanced into the room.

It was a small artist’s flat. On the far side of the room Trinia appeared to still be asleep in her bed. She must be a sound sleeper not to have heard us. I approached the bed and as I reached to wake her my hand passed through her slumbering form.

“It’s an illusion!”

We heard scrambling on the side of the building outside the window.

“She’s going for the roof and the Shingles!”

I hesitate to describe what transpired next. It was a roof top chase through the Shingles. It became rapidly apparent that several of us were not prepared for such a venture. Crispin in his heavy armor. Aula with her lack of physical prowess. And me with my apparent inability to stay affixed to a sloping rooftop. While Trinia was easily able to outdistance the three of us; Lem and Amber were another story. Between Aula’s magic, Amber’s cajoling, and Lem’s intimidating manner (and purely awesome leaping ability for one so small) they were able to corner Trinia on the roof of a haberdashery and convince her to cease her headlong flight.

Trinia confessed that while she was involved with the guard Hendricks, she had nothing to do with the poisoning of King Eodred. She seemed sincere. I have met many convincing liars in my day and Trinia was not one of them. We believed her. The mysterious circumstances around Hendricks’ death increased our suspicion that other parties were using Trinia as a scapegoat. We needed her to live long enough to be truth-read and perhaps expose the plotters. Crispin and Aula wanted to return Trinia to Field Marshal Kroft straight-away. The rest of us counseled that this might not be the best plan. We compromised by agreeing to take her to the Lancet Street house. She would be off the streets there, safe from the mobs, and presumably safe from whomever was behind this plot to frame her.

By sticking to the back streets and less travelled neighborhoods we were easily able to avoid the mobs running amok in Midlands. As we darted across Nightingale Court the cobblestones in front of us erupted in a fury. We were tossed around like rag dolls as an enraged otyugh burst forth from the Vaults below! Trinia was hurled to the far side of the Court and down with a cobble to the head. The rest of us picked ourselves up and made ready to engage the vile smelly poop-eating beast. A tarnished identification tag around the otyugh’s forelimb proclaimed this one to be named, “Ralfy”.

Ralfy spat out a cobble. “Fresh meat!” he roared. I bashed the beast in the side with my battlechain. Crispin darted underneath a slimy tentacle and skewered the otyugh. Ralfy flailed rather ineffectually at us as Amber darted around to the prone Trinia.

“She seems okay. I’m going to get us out of here,” Amber stammered and began casting.

Aula singed the creature with her magic and both Crispin and I dealt it another blow. It flailed at us and gave Crispin a bite. Ralfy seemed to be tiring of this game. “Hurts!” he whimpered. Magical mist enveloped Nightingale Court making it hard to see.

“Back beast!” I shouted at him, “Back into your hole!” I clouted him again. Crispin poked him. Ralfy wailed and slunk back into the Vaults.

“Hurts bad,” groaned Ralfy, quickly retreating out of range of our weapons.

Crispin and I shared a look. “Either we are getting better or those aren’t as tough as everyone seems to think,” quipped the war priest.

We gathered up the rest of the party and made haste out of the area least our din draw the curiosity of one of the roving mobs.

Number 3 Lancet was quiet and mobs hadn’t ventured this far south. We settled Trinia. We decided that Aula and I would go the Citadel to talk to Marshall Kroft while the others stayed at No. 3 insuring Trinia’s safety.

Marshall Kroft saw us immediately, but she wasn’t terribly happy with what we had to say.

“Trinia Sabor must be questioned by the Guard – we can best determine her guilt,” Marshall Kroft insisted.

“She doesn’t trust that you can keep her safe Field Marshall,” I replied. “Look at what happened to the Guard Hendricks.”

“True,” Kroft steepled her fingers and looked over them at us, “you can see the quandary this puts me in. Trinia needs to be under Guard protection.”

Aula looked pained. She really hated to disappoint Kroft.

“Maybe we can find a compromise,” I ventured. “Does the Guard maintain any safe-houses? Places away from the Citadel?”

Kroft brightened. “Yes, as a matter of fact we do maintain a place outside the city where we occasionally stow witnesses we don’t want to bring into the Citadel.”

We arranged to have Grau Soldado and one of Kroft’s lieutenants accompany us back to No. 3. Kroft also provided a Guardsmen’s livery for us to disguise Trinia in to get her out of the city – something Lem had suggested when we first got the assignment. I mentioned to Grau that we had encountered his old master, Vencarlo Orisini who had spoken well of him.

We headed back to No. 3, convinced Trinia of Marshall Kroft’s noble intentions, and got her into her Guard disguise. The trip outside the city was uneventful. The Guard’s safe-house turned out to be a small working farm. We settled Trinia, Grau, and the Lieutenant and departed.

For now Trinia is safe. I hope we have thwarted someone’s plans but I can’t help but think that a larger game is being played and not all of the players have shown their hands.

Fireday, 11 Desnus 4708
I helped a bit at the shop this morning. It was a bit tense after all the action last night. We had Parnes with us. He was one of the deserters and did most of the butchering for Kroth. But he wasn’t happy with the arrangement and didn’t like cleaning up Baldrago’s messes. Field Marshal Kroft had sent him back with us to help us run the shop. He seemed pretty repentant – I’m not totally convinced though.

I lit out early to go check on Elfrila. I was worried that something might have happened to her during the riots and unrest. She shares a flat in Ridgefield not far from where she works as a seamstress. About a block away from her place I ran into Mentasudo, one of her neighbors toting around a crossbow. He explained that the people in the neighborhood had pulled together to man a barricade during the riots over the past couple of nights. Elfrila had been among those assisting and was fine.

It looked like they had some sort of communal kitchen going. Elfrila’s lithe dancer’s figure and characteristic scarlet dress weren’t hard to pick out among the volunteers. Elfrila rushed to me and I swept her up tight. She seemed sound and whole though tired. I assured her I was fine. We found a bench out of the way to talk.

I explained that I had found a new job – something that paid better than working for Old Yendoui. The new job was a bit more dangerous than boating but paid much better. My partners were mostly reliable – I didn’t want her to worry. I’m not sure she was convinced. I also told her that I was going to be in and out over the next while. She gave me a look. I tried to give her 50gp to cover some of her expenses. She made me take back half and asked how my mom was doing. I didn’t answer. I smiled and asked her if she had time to fit me for a new outfit. I told her I was good for it. She smiled shyly and we went back to her flat.

Starday, 12 Desnus 4708
Another early morning at the butcher shop. I really loath this work. I like giving folks the meat. Though I can’t say that telling them it comes from the Queen means much to them. But preparing the meat is an arduous task. I need a bath. Parnes likes it well enough.

Yesterday evening I managed to catch Cohlrack the Armourer in his shop. I traded in my old chainshirt for one of better quality. I got a fitted padded haqueton and a light leather surcoat dyed to match my vambraces – in green of course. The new armour doesn’t seem to bind under the arms like my old one did and it feels better across my shoulders. Cohlrack, or rather his lead journeyman, Ashorn does really fine work. I took a couple shots from Apprentice Luthvol’s padded sword and didn’t feel a thing. That kid has a mean hook-rap. I think his father sold him short by buying him an apprenticeship to an armourer – even if Cohlrack puts mail on the guard. I can imagine the look on Luthvol’s face if I told him I was working for Field Marshal Kroft.

Down from Cohlrack’s I stopped by Satvalmar’s Arms and purchased one of his specialty pieces: a real fine rante battle chain.

I laid out some coin among some folks I know. I want to see what there is to learn about Glorio Arkona and maybe this cousin of his, Vimondé.

We had an odd visitor while we were closing down the shop. A shoemaker calling himself Master Pekka wanted to speak with Baldrago about a particular job. A couple months ago a gnome had opened a shop just down the street from Pekka’s shop and Pekka’s business had been dropping off since. Crispin and I were manning the counter, mostly just considering where we might go for a pint of dark. Crispin shrugged as if to say, “This is yours to handle.” I asked Master Pekka if he had spoken to the gnome, he said, “Yes”, he had tried to convince the gnome to leave and been unsuccessful. Now he needed professional help and he had heard that Baldrago at All the World’s Meats was a fellow who could assist.

“Baldrago is no longer in that business,” I informed Master Pekka, “but my associate and I might be able to assist you.”

“Oh…I understand completely,” Master Pekka squeaked nervously.

“We are now in a new era of cooperation and harmony. Let’s close up shop and go pay a visit to your gnome friend.”

The three of us made our way down to the Slopes ward and the shop of Sketcherheelindrome the Cobbler. Crispin and I were greeted by a very effervescent gnome with purple dread-locks whose ends had been wrapped in tinkling brass bells. The proprietor also stood five feet tall, and wore outrageously long green and orange pinstriped trousers. His torso was normal gnome sized. He was wearing stilts.

“Sketcher” effused, “They are elevator shoes! Everyone should want some. Aren’t they great?” Noticing that Crispin and I probably wouldn’t need such, “Well, maybe not you fine fellows.” He noted Master Pekka, “Hey, you are the guy that told me to shut down my business…these are just the thing for you.”

He then proceeded to show us all his other innovative shoe designs. We attempted to put forward Master Pekka’s case to him, but he wasn’t having any of it. He did have more shoes to show us – and the design flaws had been worked out of most of them. Amid shoes with vomit bladders for those who don’t have any place to puke in polite company we departed and walked Master Pekka back to his shop.

We had several suggestions for Master Pekka: diversifying his inventory to appeal to a wider base of customers, specializing in lower quality boots for the working man, etc. Crispin suggested boots with a reinforced toe for those who have a tendency to get into bar fights.

“Master Pekka,” I said, “This gnome is a novelty. He makes really nice shoes but either he is going to blow himself up innovating or people are going to get tired of his zany antics. You just need to hold on till then.”

“So you aren’t going to convince him to move along?” Master Pekka inquired.

“No. Like I said. We are now in an era of cooperation and understanding. We don’t want to rub anyone out.”

“Well, I can keep a secret and I won’t tell anyone about what happened to Baldrago.”

“Yeah, you do that Master Pekka.”

Sunday, 13 Desnus 4708
Our morning routine of handing out free meat to the poor and desperate was interrupted by the arrival of a couple of Guardsmen. They explained we were needed down at the Citadel and they were here to relieve us. We quickly complied and made our way to Citadel Volshyenek. The “we” did not include Lem as we hadn’t seen the halfling for several days.

At the Citadel we were ushered into the office of Field Marshal Kroft. She had an esteemed visitor, Master Vencarlo Orisini, the most practiced and revered swordsmen in all of Korvosa. Together they explained the situation at hand and our role in assisting.

The Chelaxin Ambassador, Darvane Gios Ampray was planning on calling on a trade embargo against Korvosa from Cheliax. There was good reason to believe that Ambassador Ampray was acting out of purely financial self interest – with Korvosa in disorder he would be able to buy land on the cheap and set himself up in style. The Ambassador was known to frequent Eel’s End, Old Korvosa’s most vile den of iniquity. Eel’s End was run by Devargo Barvasi, the Spider King of Old Korvosa. Kroft and Orisini felt that Barvasi might have “dirt” on Ambassador Ampray and for a sum would be willing to part with it. Of course Barvasi would never deal with known members of the Korvosan Guard, which is where we came in. We would venture to Eel’s End and purchase anything Barvasi held on Ambassador Ampray. With such ammunition Ambassador Ampray could be dissuaded from calling for an embargo on the city. Field Marshal Kroft handed us a bag of gold coins. We could keep anything not used to bribe Barvasi. She didn’t encourage us to kill Barvasi, but indicated that the Guard would not take any action should something happen to him.

We accompanied Master Orisini across the city to Old Korvosa. For an old guy he seemed pretty agile and he couldn’t keep his eyes off our pretty Aula. I had to chuckle – from what she has said I don’t think he is her type. He did thank us for helping to get Grau Soldado back into uniform and away from his wine. We went our separate ways once we hit Wave Street in Bridgefront. I have no doubt we will be seeing Master Orisini again.

Finding Eel’s End wasn’t terribly hard. I had been here often enough to retrieve my mother from her drug induced degradation at the Dragon’s Breath. Enzi and Ustarin were on gate duty at the end of the wharf. This place never closes.

“Your mother isn’t here Modus,” Ustarin informed me.

“We’re here to see Barvasi,” I told him.

Ustarin’s eyes got large, “Go on in, you know where to find him.”

We wound our way through the milling crowd, even with unrest in the streets Korvosans would not be denied their pursuit of pleasure. We boarded the rotting hulk of the Eel’s End itself and made our way aft. I didn’t recognize the goon at the door. I decided they should be Lumpy and Big Nose.

“We are here to see Barvasi,” I repeated for this pair.

“Do you have an appointment with High Majesty?” queried Big Nose.

“No, we have business.”

“You ain’t gettin’ in without an appointment,” Big Nose intoned.

“Well maybe we could leave Mr. Barvasi a note,” I ventured.

“What do I look like? His secretary,” Big Nose shot back. Lumpy just grinned idiotically.

“How about this,” I said proffering a platinum piece, “will this get me an appointment?”

Pocketing the coin, Big Nose pushed the door open, “Go right in sir.”

The place was dark, barely lit by some ship’s lanterns hung around the room. It was covered in spider webs. Barvasi slouched in a padded leather throne on a dais on the far side. Large bloated spiders scuttled over the Spider King. I don’t much care for spiders, I had seen more than my share growing up in the Shingles of Bridgefront. Barvasi appeared to have some affinity for them. Off to the side eight or so thugs loafed at a couple of long tables. Next to Barvasi’s throne hung an iron cage in which a very pitiful pseudodragon cowered.

“Who are you and what do you want?” sneered the Spider King. It was show time.

As best I was able I spelled out our desires and the compensation we were willing to provide.

“Information of that sort is very valuable. It is going to require something more than just coins. I need entertainment,” Barvasi explained.

“Entertainment,” I asked.

“Yes. Knivesies!!” roared Barvasi. There was an accompanying cheer from his men.

“The rules are simple. Two men with their left wrists tied together stand atop a table. Between them is a knife and a pile of gold coins. Fall off the table, you lose. Die or be knocked unconscious, you lose. Man with the most coins wins. Game ends if any coins touch the floor. Simple.” Barvasi beckoned one of his men, “Urik here will meet your man.”

Crispin and I debated momentarily which of us would face Urik in “knivesies”. Scissors beats paper and Crispin was selected. He stripped out of his armor and mounted the table. Crispin and Urik had their wrists lashed together and we all gathered around to watch the entertainment.

The odds were declared to be even and I put 50gp on Crispin.

The action started with a bark from Barvasi, “Go!” Quick as lightning Urik had the knife in his hand. This didn’t look good. It was fast and furious. Crispin took a couple gashes. Urik gathered up some coins. Crispin gathered some coins and suffered a gash in turn – Urik was scoring some really good hits and blood blossomed on Crispin’s chest and shoulder. Urik gathered more coins. There was little Crispin could do to stop him – he called upon Cayden Cailean to staunch his bleeding. My eyes were on the contest – in my gut I knew it should have been me up there instead of Crispin – we weren’t impressing Barvasi.

Aula’s eyes were elsewhere. She was intently studying the pseudodragon in the cage. It beckoned to all of us, almost as if we could hear it’s pleading in our minds.

Crispin decided to go all out. He grabbed up another handful of coins, took another gash for his troubles, and kicked the remaining coins to the floor.

Barvasi shouted, “Coins down – we are stopped!”

We helped Crispin from the table as the coins were counted. “You have won my intrepid friends. We find you entertaining. You will have what you desire.” Barvasi departed into the bowels of the ship.

I collected my winnings. Aula fixed us with a look as much to say as we wouldn’t be leaving without the pseudodragon. This would get messy.

Barvasi returned with a letter, “The good Ambassador has made himself popular with a certain Chelaxin lady. I’m certain that this letter will provide whatever leverage you need.” He proffered it to Crispin, “You play the knivesies well. Our business is done, yes?”

“How much for your pseudodragon Your Majesty?” I queried.

“For him? I like him much. The spiders like to bite him. 5000 gold pieces. On this there is no haggling,” replied Barvasi.

“He is wearing out Your Majesty, surely you could part with him for some lesser sum?”

“Then he will die and I will feed him to my spiders and get a new one,” Barvasi said with a grin.

Crispin completed donning his armor and Aula fixed us all with a telling look. I loosened my battle chain.

“We will have the pseudodragon sir,” Aula demanded.

“What is the meaning of this? Do you know who you are talking to? I am Devargo Barvasi, the Spider King of Old Korvosa. I am not to be trifled with or annoyed by pissants such as you,” Barvasi declared hotly while eyeing us with well reasoned suspicion.

I looked to Aula, “This is not going to go well,” and with that I whipped out my battle chain and struck Barvasi in the teeth. Things got dicey from there.

Barvasi triggered some sort of trap door that nearly dropped me into a spider pit on the deck below. Aula set off a spell with all sorts of scintillating lights that seemed to drop a large number of the thugs into some sort of stupor. Crispin moved to try and stick Barvasi with his rapier, and Amber threw her cat at some guy.

We held our own pretty well against Barvasi’s thugs. Aula barred the door so we didn’t have the entire deck rushing down our throats. But Crispin couldn’t seem to land a blow on Barvasi.

Most of the thugs got dropped to the floor – but their fellows outside rapidly broke through the door. Crispin and I attempted to team up on Barvasi, but he got wise and jumped into the spider pit. Amber summoned up a huge rat to keep the thugs at the door busy. That didn’t hold them long at all and soon Amber was fighting for her life. Crispin and Aula retreated through a door into the lower deck dragging the cage containing the pseudodragon.

More thugs rushed in, one gave Amber’s cat Goblin a terrific boot across the room – I’m not sure why she keeps putting that little beast into danger. Amber summoned up a concealing mist and we were able to follow our compatriots below decks.

Our hope had been to find some other way out of the ship and danger from below decks. What we found instead were a half a dozen locked doors and an open hatch into the bilges. We stopped momentarily to have Crispin invoke the healing aura of Cayden. Unfortunately it seemed like Barvasi got caught in the effect as well.

“Sweet like Mother’s milk,” Barvasi chuckled from out of the darkness. We had no response.

We tried the doors – one smelled like it went to a Shiver lab, another probably to some sort of brig. We found the privies. And we found the forward stores which proved to be trapped with all sorts of nefarious devices. We chose not to investigate them further. But we found no way out. There was a constant scrabbling that seemed to come from within the walls. Damn spiders.

In the dim light of the passage we noticed one of the doors start to open – we readied ourselves, but there was no way we could have anticipated what we found. Crispin booted the door open in the face of some strangely spidery humanoid aberration – all spider eyes, spiny hairs, dripping mandibles, and clutching claws. It was surrounded by enormous dream spiders. We bashed it. Sadly this was the exact moment Barvasi chose to strike, out of the darkness of the passage behind us he appeared and struck down Amber another huge spider at his back. He rapidly closed on Aula and I while Crispin valiantly fought the spider-man. Spiders scuttled across the overhead in an attempt to get at us. We dealt with them readily enough, me with my chain and Aula with her fiery beams of magic. Each spider death elicited a bark of consternation from Barvasi, “Those cost money!”

The spider-man-thing grew annoyed with Crispin, edged back out of range of his rapier, and spat a huge wad of silky goo at him. He was rapidly covered and rendered immobile. Barvasi rushed in and dealt both Aula and me vicious strikes. This was not going well.

The spider-man-thing, who Barvasi had called “Chitters”, hauled the struggling Crispin off into the bowels of the ship to enjoy a meal uninterrupted.

Barvasi pulled back, “We will call it even.” Fixing Aula and me with a glare, “You two may have your lives if you leave now.”

“Never”, said Aula through clenched teeth, “we will never leave our companions to the likes of you.”

“So be it”, spat Barvasi, “I gave you a chance now you die.”

More blows were traded, I was wearing fast and I knew Aula had few resources left. We were heartened somewhat as Crispin staggered back into the passage having escaped Chitter’s clutches. But the spider-man scuttled in pursuit. Crispin turned and dispatched the creature with a single blow.

As Chitters expired, Barvasi turned away and lowered his blades. “Get out,” he spat over his shoulder, “you have cost me too much. Take your friends and leave and never come back.”

We gathered up the fallen Amber, her limp cat, and the caged pseudodragon.

“If I ever lay eyes upon the lot of you again, you will draw your last breaths,” threatened Barvasi.

He followed us above decks glaring hatred the entire time, but his men let us pass without trouble. Crispin invoked the power of Cayden to halt the bleeding among those fallen thugs we passed – but some would never rise again. We limped out of Eel’s End – we had succeeded in our mission but the cost had been high.

Oathday, 10 Desnus 4708
While the others rested at Citadel Volshenek I made my way through the streets of the city to Northgate and All the World’s Meats. The streets were somewhat quieter this evening – even so the Hellknights were out in force and I narrowly avoided their attention. I know Northgate fairly well and everyone was talking about the free meat. I recall as a child when free meat would have been a gift worth having. Finding 22 Stirge Lane wasn’t a problem. I studied the place like my old mentor Urdest had taught me – two story wood construction, lights burning in the windows on the second floor, main entrance on the first floor to a shop front, two side entrance bays opening into a small divided corral of wooden fencing. Wagon in one half the corral. A couple of obvious places to observe the building undetected. It sounded like a card game going on in one of the lit rooms; it looked like someone reading papers in front of a candle in the other. I watched the shop for about half an hour according to the Epochal Tower clock and headed back to the Citadel.

We broke our fast in the Citadel’s mess hall and then discussed our plan of attack. I advised everyone that we seemed to far better tactically when we remained together as a group. Beyond that we discussed how several of our number might be able to queue up for free meat. Amber and Crispin, in his tavernkeeper’s apron, might be the best candidates. The morning found the streets much quieter, though there were still signs of unrest. A line had already formed at the door to All the World’s Meats by the time we arrived. Crispin and Amber queued up and the rest of us settled in at a hidden vantage point across the street. Our basic plan was to learn what we could about the interior layout and the number of combatants we might face, but wait until nightfall to carry out our raid. The day was pretty uneventful. Amber and Crispin got their meat – which Crispin took back to the kitchens at the Citadel.

After some time, Lem revealed that she knew the butcher shop fairly well. She had had a hand in driving the former owner out of business. In the past she had made several forays into the shop via a movable grate on the slaughterhouse floor down which offal was thrown but which was accessible from the Vaults beneath the streets. Her thefts had been the butcher’s downfall. In any event she could readily guide us to beneath the shop and an entrance that was probably unknown to the former Guardsmen. This was much preferable to bashing in the front or side doors.

At dusk we made our way to a sewer outlet along the shores of Northbridge and entered the Vaults beneath the city. It was rough going at first. Most of us had never been down into the Vaults. I had been under the city a couple of times – mostly boyhood adventures and such, once to avoid some toughs I had fallen afoul of. But it was nothing near so foul and vile as this venture. We were following the outflow of a slaughterhouse upstream to the source. The halfling proceeded to get us lost. Aula and I were able to figure out where we should be compared to where we were and we found the vault beneath All the World’s Meat. Beneath the offal grate of the slaughtering room we waited in the muck and filth for the butchers to conclude their business.

As we waited we could hear all that transpired above. The sounds coming through the grate indicated something far more sinister than the mere butchery of animals. This was confirmed when human remains rained down upon us from above. The rebel guardsmen were conducting business far more nefarious than just distributing free meat to the populace and inciting them to riot against their sovereign. They were engaged in murder and facilitating cannibalism. Aula dug around in the muck a bit to find proof we could later use and found a partially gnawed human skull. Unfortunately the skull was attached to a rather irate and prodigiously sized reefclaw. The creatures must have found the fare beneath the butcher shop to their liking; they didn’t appreciate our interference though. Lem placed a grappling hook on the grate and scrabbled to safety quickly followed by Aula. The rest of us engaged in a short scuffle with several maddened reefclaws in the muck of the vault. Reefclaws are vicious and difficult to kill. We managed to smash the little bastards, but it was a near thing. We were all grateful to escape up the rope out of the vault.

The slaughter room had little of interest for us and seemed to pose no harm. We could hear laughter and activity coming from the rooms above. After a small conference we concluded that Lem and I should sulk around and see what we could find. Behind one door we found a short hall that led into the shop-front and stairs leading upstairs. I stopped at the bottom of the stairs. The stealthy Lem crept to the top of the landing and listened in on the conversation among the card playing rebel Guardsmen. I think that perhaps she got too confident, or our companions were too noisy (Crispin in his splinted armor), for one of the Guards was sent to investigate an errant sound. The Guard stepped right over Lem on his way down the stairs, unfortunately Lem’s first attempt to catapult him down the stairs failed. She attempted to bluff her way out of it, but failed at that as well. He remained distracted enough for her to push him down the stairs on her second attempt though. This set the remaining guards in motion. All of us rushed to engage the rebels and assist Lem and the stairs became a chaotic melee of whirling blades, flashing chains, and magical emanations. We had bested all the guards save one when Sgt. Kroth appeared with a deadly looking composite bow in his hands and an arrow knocked. He bade us surrender. We were having nothing of that and insisted that he surrender instead. It was evident that Kroth had been drinking heavily. Even so he sunk an arrow into Lem to emphasize his point. A standoff ensued for a time until we showed Kroth evidence of his men’s evil deeds. Defeated by the wickedness of his allies and his ultimate responsibility for their misdeeds, he crumpled to the floor. Crispin ensured that none of the fallen Guards would expire and thus cheat the Arbiters their chance to administer justice. We securely bound them all and searched the building for some sign of whatever patron had put Kroth up to this.

In Kroth’s chamber we found evidence of correspondence with a noble Lady far beyond his station as well as signs that she had visited him here in this sordid locale. Kroth had been carrying on an affair with a Lady Vimonde. I pay little attention to such things, but both Crispin and Lem had heard that a woman of this name was a member of House Arkona and perhaps cousin to Lord Glorio. We gathered the letters and an expensive-looking and masterfully crafted dagger we found to take to Field Marshal Kroft. While we had searched the top floor – Amber had been engaged in her own investigations of the main floor and animals pens. She had found two vicious boars, which she released into the corral. She had also found a lock box containing the coins the errant Guardsmen had taken from their victims and in exchange for the services they carried out. The boars were exceedingly irate, and rather than tangle with them we bundled our prisoners into the unused wagon and departed the butcher shop. We encountered some Hellknights along the way but Kroth’s sad admission of guilt managed to convince them of the lawfulness of our mission.

Field Marshal Kroft was pleased with the success of our mission and rewarded us well. We explained what we had found and showed her the letters and dagger. She told us that the dagger was of Vuduran manufacture and further proof of the involvement of House Arkona – though not conclusive enough to take to the Arbiters. We also told the Field Marshal how well received Kroft’s mission of distributing free meat had been among the poor and desperate of the neighborhood. We told her that if she could provide some assistance we would be more than willing to carry on with that mission, though now distributing the meat in the name of Queen Ileosa. She readily agreed to our plan. Tomorrow we go into the meat business for ourselves and perhaps see if we can discover more information on Kroth’s mysterious benefactor.

Wealday, 9 Desnus 4708

The streets were in chaos. The King was dead. Presumably the Queen would pick up the pieces of his rule. It seemed like many folks were taking this opportunity to settle some old grudges and make off with anything not nailed down. We could see the Hellknights vigorously putting down rioters and administering street justice. We were still hurting from our tussle with Lamm and his minions. No one wanted to tangle with the Nailers. A hippogriff crashed out of the sky into the street nearby. We rushed to assist the fallen Sable Company rider. A quick look showed the rider, a sergeant by her livery, still lived, but the hippogriff was beyond our ability to help. Lem immediately began going through her pockets – had we not just fought our way into and out of Abaddon together I truly would have struck her down. Lem did find her identification papers which named the fallen flyer as Sgt. Miranda Goodwin. Both rider and mount were covered by huge welts and stings. We tried to bring her around to no avail. Our ministrations on the marine were interrupted by her attackers: a covey of imps. They swarmed us and utter thwarted our attempts to fight them off. Nearly all of us were stung by their cruel barbed tails. Amber, the cat lady, was felled as one of the blighters clawed viciously at her face. One stole my battle chain, but their main intent was to land and feast on the fallen marine. One imp turned into a vicious boar and attempted to gore Crispin. Were it not for a fortuitous wing of dragonlings we would have been in a much direr situation. Wheeling, snapping, clawing, and spinning among the imps; the fury of the dragonettes gave us an opportunity to grab up the fallen marine and flee. Lem wanted to stay to fight them, fearing for her safety I hastily snatched her up by the back of her britches and hoist her onto my shoulders at a run. Neither of us was happy with the situation – the fool halfling would have to seek her death some other time.

Avoiding the Hellknights and rioters, we made our way quickly to Zellara’s shop, the only refuge that came to mind. We encountered a place entirely different from the one we had entered just yesterday. Zellara’s shop was a wrecked and ruined shambles. Gone were the tapestries, rugs, furniture, and incense. All that was left was garbage and debris. But it was a place to hunker down and attempt to come to terms with all that had befallen us recently.

Aula pulled out the box containing Zellara’s rotting head and her Harrow deck. The head was just dead and dying flesh. But using her arcane powers, Aula determined that there was something going on with the Harrow deck. Further investigation caused Zellar’s shade to materialize. She explained that while she was sorry for the ruse, we had accomplished what she had sought and now could go on to her final rest. Her prescience was weak, but she still believed that we would be at the center of momentous events. I buried her head in her herb garden and Crispin said some words to his god over her remains. It seemed like the right thing to do. The other items we had retrieved from Gaedren Lamm’s lair seemed more and less disturbing. For most we would never know their stories, or the pain and misfortune they represented. Certainly Lamm would not have kept anything unless the keeping was beneficial to him and hurtful to someone else. The items varied: a Chelaxian gold ingot, a masterfully crafted shuriken, an adamantine arrowhead, an octopus of whale ivory scrimsaw with gems for eyes, a ring, erotic Chelish statuary, a vial of what turned out to be Keening Oil, an arcane wand of magic missiles, and a fanciful brooch. Aula recognized the brooch as belonging to Queen Ileosa Arabasti; with the death of her husband, the reigning monarch of Korvosa. Lem coveted the brooch, but the rest of us felt it would be best if we returned it to the Queen. Crispin and I retired to the roof of Zellara’s townhouse to watch the riots and consume more of Cayden Cailean’s Best Dark.

While watching the Hellknights impose order, fires flare-up throughout the city, and the Marines of the Sable Company wheel overhead on their hippogriffs – Crispin had a slight epiphany. He could use his god’s magic to signal to the flyers and perhaps summon them to their fallen comrade’s aid. This was quickly accomplished and before long two marines and their hippogriffs joined us on the roof. We bundled up Sgt. Goodwin and she was strapped between the two hippogriffs to be airlifted to the Company headquarters. I managed to disentangle Lem from the sling between the two hippogriffs – for some reason she was intent on getting a ride with the marines. I can’t think of why she thought that would be a good idea. Amber let the marines know where the body of Sgt. Goodwin’s hippogriff could be found. We rested the remainder of the night amid the ruins of Zellara’s shop and set off in the morning. One day had seen tremendous changes come into our lives. I didn’t know what to make of most of it.

In the morning Aula announced that it was imperative that she visit her father. Master Wintrex, owned Hedge Wizardry, an alchemist shop on Eodred’s Walk. We moved there with all haste. Lem took point, looking for trouble; I brought up the rear to insure that trouble didn’t follow us. We encountered more Hellknights but managed through our orderly conduct not to antagonize them. We noticed that many shops and buildings had suffered damage during the previous night’s violence. Eodred’s Walk was not spared. Many of the affluent shops had had their glass fronts smashed in and been looted. We noticed an odd gathering outside Master Wintrex’s shop: guardsmen in Arkona livery. Through the smashed glass windows we could see Master Wintrex engaging in some sort of transaction with a noble gentleman who could only be Glorio Arkona. We weren’t able to see what Lord Arkona purchased, but it seemed he only paid a few coins for a large number of vials and bottles. We were all transfixed. I could barely breathe.

Concluding his business Lord Arkona departed the shop. Encountering us on the way out, he showed only disdain for the lower class. His eyes alighted upon the bedraggled Amber and he exercised his noble prerogative by striking her to the ground with his gloved hand. So overcome with emotion, I don’t even recall if he uttered a syllable. Amber pulled herself to her feet and I watched Lord Arkona’s departing back. The others withdrew into the shop. Aula greeted her father. Crispin used divine magic to repair some of the damage wrought by the riot. Lem had other business to be about and departed. I watched Glorio Arkona depart the square and still after marked the place where he had disappeared from my sight. Even now I am unable to come up with any reasonable or worthwhile plan to reclaim my daughter from him.

How am I to wrest Iralmi free? I need to find out what Glorio Arkona was purchasing from Master Wintrex. If Lord Arkona holds my daughter I will need a plan to purchase her release. I must know everything I can about the most powerful noble in the city. The Arkona do not willingly part with anything they value.

After assisting with the clean-up in Master Wintrex’s shop we decided that taking the brooch back to the Queen was the next best course of action. We did not wait for the halfling – but she managed to find us in the street as we made our way toward Castle Korvosa. As usual Lem was in trouble – something to do with promising a teamster a certain sum of coin to carry her about and not fulfilling her promise. It is obvious that the halfling is not familiar with life in Korvosa I often cannot fathom her motives or desires. She is vexing but insuring her welfare is not my job. Fearing how she might be received in Royal company, Amber chose to remain amid the alleys at near to the palace. She maintained she had business with some crows but would find us when our business at the castle was concluded.

Castle Korvosa is indeed impressive. I had never had much call to do more than gawk at it in passing. To have business here struck me dumb. The guards were much in evidence and despite their harried expressions were polite. They informed us it would be near to two weeks before we could get an audience with Her Majesty. None of us wanted to be burdened with something belonging to the Queen for that long. Crispin hit upon the idea of making a rubbing of the brooch and sending it along with a note explaining how we had come by it. Verily this seemed to do the trick for in a nonce we were being conducted up the steps of the Grand Mastaba. We passed through a series of increasingly senior flunkies, aides, ministers, and sycophants, were asked to tender our weapons, and given over to the charge of Sabina Merrin, Queen Ileosa’s bodyguard and handmaid.

Trained by Vencarlo Orisini himself, Mistress Merrin is indeed an imposing personage. In her quiet efficient manner she bade us follow her to the Crimson Throne. The throne room was impressive. We approached the Queen on her red throne and all except the contrary halfling bowed before her. I shudder to recall the actions of the halfling and can only say that I have no doubt that her actions will continue to endanger the rest of us should we continue to associate with her – I can only hope that her contrary nature soon takes her out of my life. Eventually the guards corralled the halfling and she executed a perfunctory bow to our sovereign. We gave over the brooch to the Queen and she thanked us profusely. I cannot exactly recall the words she spoke to us, but despite all the rumors and stories I had heard about her scheming and venal nature and loathing for our city, she seemed in person to be quite the opposite. The Queen appeared very young, very sad, and very tired. It was obvious that she was greatly troubled by the death of the King and the turmoil that gripped the city. The return of her brooch, a gift from her mother in far Cheliax, filled her with a renewed sense of hope and kindness. I was near brought to tears by her grace and a desire to help this great lady in any way I could. She was heartened by our resolve in such trying times. She hoped that we would continue to serve the city and bade us assist Field Marshal Kroft at Citadel Volshyenek. To reward us for the return of her brooch she had a solid silver chest filled with gold ingots brought forward. All agreed to follow our liege’s wishes and our audience came to an end.

We followed Mistress Merrin out the way we had come now laden with truly impressive wealth. Four guards were assigned to accompany us on our way to wherever we wished to go. A messenger was sent ahead to inform Field Marshal Kroft of the Queen’s wishes. We asked Merrin to include details of Amber, our missing cat-lady, in the missive as she was a valuable member of our company – but not one that felt comfortable coming before Her Majesty. We bade Merrin farewell.

Our first stop on the way to Citadel Volshyenek was the nearby Temple of Cayden Cailean, where Crispin served. The hall was truly packed. It seemed like the entire city had gathered here to drown their sorrows and anxieties from the vats of the Good Priests. There was much argument, shouting, and threats of fisticuffs. Many here held Queen Ileosa in poor regard and were vociferously arguing with those who favored her. The press was thick and it was difficult to get served – the priests seemed to be handling it well though. Crispin fought his way to the bar and slammed a gold ingot on the wood, “The next round is on Queen Ileosa!” he shouted.

There followed absolute silence in the hall as all eyes turned toward the gold and our friend Crispin. This broke in a roar as, “Let’s hear it for Queen Ileosa!!!” erupted from the mouths of all assembled.

Amid the tumult I noticed a Guard’s tabard lying beneath a bench. Above it was a man that seemed somewhat familiar to me. He was one of the Korvosan Guard – and by drinking her in the Temple when the city was in such dire need of guards – in serious dereliction of duty. I spoke to him and learned that his name was Grau Soldara. The horrors of the last evening had broken him. He had once trained with the famed Vencarlo Orisini – but had been discharged from service and now served the Guard as a private. I convinced him that he could still make a difference and that Korvosa truly needed all able men who still held some love for the city in their hearts. This cheered him somewhat. Crispin and I carried him to one of the duty priests who was able to somewhat diminish Grau’s drunken state with the Cayden benediction against drunkenness, “In the name of Cayden Cailean – HOLD YOUR LIQUOR!” Bound for Citadel Volshyenek we departed the temple.

At the Citadel we found another scene of absolute chaos. In the eye of the storm stood the resilient form for Field Marshal Kroft issuing orders, delegating duties, and receiving reports. She had been told of our coming and was pleased to see us. This was not my first meeting with the Field Marshal, I had faced her before when Iralmi went missing to beg her assistance. I was heartened somewhat that she remembered me – but in truth there are few Garundi in the city and black fellows of my size wrapped in emerald-dyed headscarves are rare. She welcomed us into “informal” service within the Guard and allowed that our aide was sorely needed. She indicated that she had worked with “adventurers” before and that we would be fairly compensated for our service and further that accommodations within the Citadel would be made available to us. Two other guards then came forward to relieve us of Private Grau.

Field Marshal Kroft pulled us aside and spoke of the current matter that truly vexed her. A disgruntled member of the Guard had gathered about him several of his fellows and taken up residence in an abandoned butcher’s shop in Northgate. This guard sergeant, Dieland Kroth, was calling for the removal of Queen Ileosa and inciting other guards to desert and join his cause. Sergeant Kroth was another guard known to me – as a patrolman he had been in charge of the investigation into my daughter’s disappearance. While never truly sympathetic to my plight he had been dutiful in carrying out his duties. He had risen to sergeant now but had been hardened by his service to the Guard – now he had turned his back on his duty. Kroft wished us to bring Dieland Kroth in, alive if possible along with those that currently followed his cause. She dared not expose more guards to his destabilizing presence – but as irregulars we should be immune. We felt that this was a good employment of our talents. Kroft also indicated that Sgt. Kroth was acting out of character and that there might be other forces as work. We agreed to pursue this quest in the morning.

It had been a busy day and we had had little rest the night before. We accepted the accommodations offered at Citadel Volshyenek and stowed our newly gained wealth in a lock-box there. Tomorrow would bring new challenges and we would need to gather our resources to face them.

Toilday, 8 Desnus 4708
Two old men died last night. One sat in wealth and opulence over looking the city he ruled. One rutted in filth and squalor destroying and soiling all he touched. One I imagine died without suffering wondering if his legacy would endure. One I know died in pain and agony, condemned to Hell equal to the torment and suffering he wrought. The greater died in lofty heights and in death heralded destruction and wrath unimagined. The lesser died in my arms, gasping foul filth to his last, but promising to some hope and perhaps redemption.

It began with a single card. I was ferrying a turnip farmer across the Jeggare from the Dock Street No. 5 to Vesporlon’s New Dock on the Midland side. This is what I’m good at: a mean sprint across the Flow dodging cattle and ore barges and the Free Privateers bonded by the finest of Korvosa. The Lark is always ready. The Lark is what I call my shell, is lean and shallow, and at 4 ell is longer than somes that run the Flow, but agile. She fairly dances on the foam and swirl. I think Iralmi would have liked her. And it is a rare delight to race the luggers bound Up Flow with their massive banked oars or drawn by divers sea beasts – a chary bet with the later. I shuffed the foam abaft of the Honour of Endrin and the old plodder turned green. Bet he thought his turnips were bound for Azlantia. It was a tidy run Mr. Turnip paid his pinches. He is a regular so I knew he wouldn’t be a cheap Ermer. I didn’t check my catch until after we had loaded the cart at Vesporlon’s, so I was keen surprised to find a Harrow card in the gullet. It wasn’t from a gambler’s or sailor’s deck that was certain. This was a real Harrow card like the kind my Nana used. Old and worn by many spreads, but the colors still vivid. The face showed a roiling, thunderous sky, slaves and bound folk raising up their arms, their bonds shattering as lighting danced across their features. On the cardback was scrawled:

I know what Gaedren has done to you. He has wronged me as well. I know where he dwells, yet cannot strike at him. Come to my home at 3 Lancet Street at sunset. Gaedren must face his fate, and justice must be done.

I reeled and nearly fainted at this. Iralmi! When my daughter disappeared three years ago shattering my world – the only evidence I could find were veiled hints about the shadowy Gaedren Lamm. The authorities had not been able to assist us, and Erisana blamed me. To be truthful Erisana blamed everyone. But if I could wrap my hands around Gaedren Lamm’s neck I might be able to wring some truth from him. I had been trained for caution, so before I could take the words on the back of the Harrow card at face value I needed to learn more.

Number 3 Lancet was easy enough to find. It was in Midlands, just up from Pinter’s Dock toward Warehouse Way: a small shop for a Varisian fortuneteller named Zellara. I checked with Nana’s apprentice, Anozsha, on the mean of the card: the Big Sky, escape from bondage. I watched the shop till around sunset and saw some interesting characters enter: a young drunken priest of Cayden Cailean (is there any other kind) and a sad, but pretty little mageling of some sort. Someone else seemed to be watching the shop as well – but I couldn’t quite tell who or from where. Adjusting my battlechain under my robes I entered the shop. It was a cluttered sort of shop, a lot more prosperous than Nana’s: tapestries, lots of incense, rugs, and some nice chairs around a table. The priest and mage girl had already settled in. There was a note on the table indicating that Zellara would return soon and to help ourselves to the bread and wine in the basket. The priest had no problems complying with that. He introduced himself as Crispin, and seemed like a bluff fellow. The sad little girl called herself Aula. Two more individuals joined us shortly: a shabbily dressed young halfling woman and a reeking empty (a woman, I think) that stank of cat urine and garbage. The halfling introduced herself as Lem – I’m not sure why a tiny dancer would use that for a street name (she didn’t seem either bean-y or goat milk-y). I don’t know much about halflings though. The empty mumbled that her name was Amber. She’s probably a woman then – I did my best to breath through my mouth. We all sat rather pensive, but not for long when with a poof of sparkling dust and a cloud of smoke, our hostess, Zellara appeared. She fixed us with a practiced stare and bade us listen to her tale.

Apparently she had been wronged by Gaedren Lamm as well; her prized Harrow deck stolen. She had discovered his location, but was not sufficiently strong to approach him in his lair, an old fishery. Perhaps as all of us had been wronged by him we could find cause to work together to bring him to justice. The others admitted that they all had reason to see Lamm brought to justice. I explained I wasn’t terribly interested in justice. I wanted my daughter back and that I had every indication that Lamm had stolen her three years ago. I was quick to act on the fortuneteller’s information. She advised that such ventures are best started with a Harrow reading. I recall that Nana had done such for my father before he went wandering.

I drew the Rabbit Prince, capriciousness in combat. I’m not sure I needed that; though if our foes be mighty such might come in handy. The others drew equally portentous cards. The full spread was filled with storms and portents. Lots of destruction and impending chaos. The cards fell too fast for me to fully comprehend. I noticed that Aula and Lem both seemed mesmerized by the movement of Zellar’s hands at the deck. Thoughts of catching up to Lamm pulled me back out into the streets. I knew the area of the docks Zellara had indicated; I could find the fishery.

We arrived without much delay. Already dark the fishery looked empty and abandoned. Some light leaked from under the front door and through some boarded up windows though. Lem took a peek. She noticed a very ugly spiked-backed dog under a desk in the front office. She padded to the next window while the rest of us arrayed ourselves along the front. “There are kids in here!” she whispered. I had to see for myself.

Behind the boarded window was a chamber where children were working at some trough with paddles and pushers. Even through the crack the place was thick with the stench of dead fish. They seemed to be pounding garbage fish (skates, rays, net hangers, and sunbakers) into some sort of slurry. I popped the door and Lem rolled in. She pulled her hat low, scrunched her face and fed the kid at the door a line about looking for work – pretending to be an urchin herself. Unfortunately, he wasn’t an urchin either – but a gnome. He grabbed her, slammed the door and whirled with a knife at her throat. That was enough for us. Crispin shattered the door and clouted the gnome. I came in behind him and gave the bugger a belt as well. Aula and Amber followed behind us. We shook the gnome a bit, and I asked him if he had seen my daughter and he croaked out some nonsense about “Giggles”. Lem ushered the kids out the door and I eyed each in turn – no little Garundi girls among them. We coshed the gnome – I gave him a good rap with the battlechain and he dropped like a stone. Amber went to an interior door where she heard something scratching: the spike dog. She reported that it sounded like no dog she had ever heard. About that time a huge one-eyed half-orc with a cat’o’nine burst in through one of the other doors and a full imbroglio commenced. The spiky dog turned out to be two monstrous rats followed by some beaky acid flinging fellow in fancy clothes. The acid flinger, Yargin, and half-orc, Giggles, turned out to be old friends of Amber and Crispin. Giggles gave Crispin a horrific lashing and nearly dropped him to the ground. I shoved Crispin behind me and went toe-to-toe with the Giggles. Crispin called for a blessing from Cayden Cailean which greatly improved his health. Unfortunately this also roused the troublesome gnome. Crispin dealt with him. Aula and Amber had their hands full with Yargin and the rats. Lem darted behind the half-orc into the other room leaving me to face the brute. Amber’s cat arrived and lent a paw. Crispin roused himself to action and our opponents went down in short order.

Beyond the fish trough room was a chamber hold a huge vat of bubbling roiling fish filth. During her explorations Lem managed to find out just how disgusting it was. She also had promised the children found there succor at the Temple of Cayden Cailean. The kids fled, but not before she found out that Iralmi wasn’t among them and had been sold. Sadly I didn’t get a chance to ask the children further questions. We had finished off Lamm’s henchmen, but there was no trace of him. Either he was hidden somewhere or Zellara had been wrong. We searched the remainder of the Old Fishery and found little of interest. A hole in the vat room seemed promising – the children had indicated that this is where Lamm took some of the children. We also discovered that behind the fishery was moored an old dilapidated scow. We moved to examine the scow further.

The old boat proved to be little more than a nesting place for some truly vicious spiders. I’m used to handling such vermin and we managed to overcome them without too much problem. Lem’s keen eyes spotted a secret door in the hold of the vessel. Beyond it we found an Underdock area that led to the bottom floor of the fishery. A jigsaw shark swam lazily beneath the opening that led up into the vat room – fat from the fishery’s leavings. We avoided him. The underside of the fishery proved to be Gaedren’s lair. A fat alligator wallowed on the muddy bank beneath small sets of manacles. Gaedren himself sat before a table piled with loot on the far side of the chamber. We rushed to engage him.

Lem, ever the first into trouble stepped onto the planking that edged the room and was snagged up by a choker that had been hiding in the shadows of the ceiling. Crispin moved to assist her. Amber spied the alligator and sought to calm it with her soothing nature – she appeared to have a way with animals. Aula began waving her arms, presumably to cast a spell of some sort. I moved to tangle with the old man himself. Things moved rather quickly from there. Aula targeted the gator with a spell and blew Amber’s chances of calming it – in return the gator gave Amber a mighty chomp and pulled her into the mud. Lem escaped the choker and moved out amid the nets and lines hanging from the ceiling. Crispin tangled with the choker. I gave Gaedren a clout with my battlechain and he tried to plink me with his hand crossbow. Lem managed to get an astounding shot off that dropped Gaedren. Aula jumped into the mud to pull Amber from the gator. With Gaedren down the choker fled and I dove into the mud to attack the irate alligator. Crispin jumped to assist and between us we managed to finish off the beast. We pulled ourselves from the mud and brought Amber around. Lem worked on Gaedren, as I needed him alive to find out what he had done with Iralmi. Crispin called upon Cayden Cailean to prevent him from dying.

I’m not sure why, but for all the misery and evil he had caused, I expected Gaedren Lamm to be more physically menacing. He wasn’t. He was a pitiful, wretched old man. A scrapper and a scoundrel it is true and more than deserving of death a thousand thousand times over. He stank. He lived in squalor and foul conditions that most Shinglers would disdain. Using all the tricks to keep a body moving we roused him to consciousness. His talk was as foul and disgusting as his person. Despite the pain he had caused her, Aula could not watch us question him. Crispin had some qualms as well. I had none. We shook him. We threatened him. We were unkind. I asked him pointedly what he had done to my daughter – the pretty Garundi he kidnapped three years ago. Iralmi. My only daughter. The spark that had lit my life and for whom my spirit had cried every day since.

Gaedren leered, “That is a tiger whose tail you don’t want to twitch boy. He likes young Garundi.”

I contained my rage and the despair that threatened to overtake me. “Give me a name old man!”

With the light dying in his eyes, he gasped and shuddered in my grasp, “Glorio.” With that he rattled, coughed and died.

I wiped my hands and arose. I knew some men of that name in the city – but only one with a reputation for dealings with the undercrust. Only one tiger few men would tangle with – Glorio Arkona – the most popular nobleman among the poor of Korvosa. I swallowed and hoped that there was some other Glorio that would fit the description, but feared the worst. My grandfather had ever counseled optimism.

The others had broken into Gaedren’s lock box and appropriated anything of value. There was a lot that was useless trash. Some things that might be of interest to someone though: a gold ingot, a teak cigar case, a tiny gold crown, an ivory carving of succubi, an obsidian wand, a jeweled broach, a shuriken. Aula was of the opinion we should return belongings to their owners if we were able to determine them – I’m not sure if she was applying the same measure to the obviously magical wand. We also found a large hat box that contained the head of Zellara the fortuneteller and our patron along with her Harrow deck. This was more than a little surprising. It was evident that she had been dead a week or more. None of us was sure how such a thing was possible. More than a little stunned and exhausted we hauled ourselves out of the dim recesses of Gaedren’s lair to find a night sky lit by fires.