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Friday, February 27, 2009

Thieves' World - Kadakithis, HellHounds and Assassins

If you are just picking this up, I suggest reading the previous posts first!
Prelude : Characters : Act I : Act II : Act III : Act IV : Prince and Steel : Festival

Kadakithis, HellHounds and Assassins
17th of Eseris
Rumors are fast and furious around town; Prince Kadakithis is finally coming to town, on a ship, sometime today or tomorrow. Modig is on the hunt for more information about the Prince. His contacts get him an invitation to the Vulgar Unicorn for a drink with Rabben the Lighthanded, one of the most well-known thieves in the Maze. His protégé, Shadowspawn, is almost as equally well-known. The Group decides they will go after dark with Modig to the Vulgar Unicorn.
Seeking fame and fortune, or just a new place, Brennus arrives into town on the same ship as the new Prince Governor. The Prince and all of the Ranken Elite Guard are let off first, and then the rest of the passengers. Malkar, Nikolas and Jack are at the wharf watching the proceedings, so they see that there is little fanfare with the arrival on this Prince. The new Prince and his entourage travel north, straight to the Palace, followed immediately by many crates and wagons full of what the Group supposes are his belongings.
The ship hires a labor crew from the commoners hanging around the docks to unload the rest of the ship’s goods. Jack is recognized from previous work done, and is hired as a foreman for one team of workers.
While Jack works for pitiful pay, Malkar goes to the Happy Beaver to see if there is any new information that Gastov might have for him. Gastov talks of someone asking about him and his friends, and to watch out.
Later, the Group goes to the Vulgar Unicorn with Modig for his meeting with Rabben. Still a little put off in the Maze, the Group arrives early in the evening, and they get a few drinks while waiting for Rabben. Rabben shows up with Shadowspawn accompanying him. Modig and Rabben find a separate area for themselves, and they get a friendly round of drinks. Rabben informs Modig that there has been someone asking around for him and his gang. He says to keep an eye out for trouble. The guys doing the asking were unsavory types like them, but definitely Ranken, recently in from Ranke. Modig pays Rabben for his efforts and returns to his cohorts. The Group discusses this information and believes it’s a threat from Arion Swan. The Group stays a while longer in the Unicorn, and eventually leaves for home.
On the way out of the Maze, a gang attacks the Group. The gang is made up of some low life youths from the Maze who call themselves the Black Hands, but tonight they are teamed up with two well-trained leaders, who seem to be professional assassins. Someone yells for guards, but it’s not likely they will venture into the Maze. The fight produces two new corpses of young boys, and the remaining single gang member escapes with the two assassins. One gang member is left behind for dead, but the Group revives him for questioning. Much to their surprise, a contingent of guards show up, five local Watchmen being led by a Ranken soldier with markings the group is immediately unfamiliar with. The guards show up as the Group is searching the bodies of the dead. The Ranken Guard ceases all looting, and informs the Watch to take care of the bodies. Meanwhile, the Group and the captive gang member are escorted back to the Palace, post haste. Upon arriving at the Palace, the Group notices a lot of new guards in the new uniform. Kalima recognizes the new soldiers as real Ranken Elite soldiers. The Group is led to the leader of the Ranken Elite, an impressive man by the name of Zalbar. The story is related to Zalbar, and the captive gang member is immediately found guilty of assault, and swift punishment is administered by Zalbar. The young gang member screams as his hand is branded right then and there.

With Jack’s busy day yesterday of unloading the ship, he had forgotten all about a date he’d made with one of Marta’s finest – Mary. Jack attempts to make up with Mary by promising to take her to the Bazaar later in the day.
On the hunt for information about the people asking questions about them, the Group decides to track down the Black Hands in the Maze, wanting to get information about the guys who they were working for. After finding the Black Hands, and getting them in one of the few empty buildings in the Maze, Brennus summons a Hell Hound. The Black Hands give in to the Group and tell them that they were hired to initiate the attack, and then just run away. They don’t know anything except that they were paid with Ranken coin. They don’t know where the guys can be found, or whom they might be working for.
The Group discusses a plan to set up a trap for the assassins by using a lone, wandering Jack as bait. Nicolas, Malkar and Modig shadow Jack waiting for opportunity to catch the assassins in the act of attacking. The Group runs these rituals for two days. First, Jack works at the docks, and the others watch from hidden places for the assassins. After his work is done, Jack wanders around the various places around the Westside; nothing happens. No attacks, no leads, no assassins. On the third day, they finally spot someone following Jack from the rooftops of the buildings. The three sneaky Group members watching Jack’s back react quickly, springing into action and prepare an attack. Climbing to the rooftop, the assassin sees them and flees by jumping down to the ground and running down the nearest alleyway. Malkar uses this exposure as the start of a hunt, using his skills he’s had from tracking animals in the swamp to his newly developed city tracking. He tracks the man to a small residential building in the Maze, and up a set of stairs. In the upstairs hallway, there are six doors to choose from. The six Group members place themselves outside one door each, and in unison, each one attempts to kick in the door in front of them. Four doors are smashed in and the residents inside each door are quite shocked. One of the rooms contains the two assassins, and Jack finds himself facing them.
‘Jackpot!’ yells Jack, as another door in the hall falls to a second kick.
The rest of the Group rushes to Jack’s door to face the assassins. The assassins fire crossbows, and hastily jump out the window. The Group gives chase out the window. A few of the Group make some nice jumps and smooth landings, and others end up falling roughly to the ground, with loud grunts or yells. Jack loses it and goes into a battle rage. Malkar is the only member who stays behind in the room, and starts providing arrow fire from the second story window. The six-on-two fight ends quickly, with one assassin quite certainly dead, and the other one heavily wounded. The Group takes the bodies back into the apartment before there is any outside intervention. A very thorough search of the bodies and the room, and the Group finds all of their possessions. They decide to take the wounded one to a place more appropriate for ‘questioning’.
When the Group exits the Maze, a watchman stops them and questions them, and they are convinced to go to the palace and the Ranken Imperial Guard. Grumbling, the Group hauls the unconscious assassin to Zalbar, who questions them and threatens to charge them with vigilantism. With some tough negotiations, the Group is let off with a strong warning, and they are forced to leave the body and the captive assassin. The Group manages to not say anything about the possessions of the assassins, and get away with that loot. One of the items is a scroll case with all of their pictures (crudely drawn) and a contract for their deaths. There is no evidence of who has hired their assassination, but the Group single-mindedly agrees that it was probably Arion Swan.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thieves' World - Festival

If you are just picking this up, I suggest reading the previous posts first!
Prelude : Characters : Act I : Act II : Act III : Act IV : Prince and Steel

5th of Eseris, Festival
It's many weeks later, and we find the Group anticipating the Spring Festival that is coming up in Sanctuary. The city is always full of new people and there are numerous activities, games, and contests with plenty of drinking and betting. Pickpockets abound, so watch your coin purse!
The Group finds themselves drawn to various activities. A vendor named Crazy Ernie convinces Jack to ‘wrassle’ some bears. Bets are laid out, and Ernie leads out the biggest one for Jack to try his skills on. Much to the delight of the onlookers, Jack manages to pin the bear! A lot of folks are impressed, including Crazy Ernie and three young women. Jack uses that as an excuse to get to know the young women better, and sees the Festival with them.
Malkar enters an archery contest. After several rounds, he wins quite comfortably. He gets the contest purse of 500$h.
All is not fun and games as Elorin crosses a childhood adversary, Borrin. Heated insults are exchanged and the confrontation comes to a conclusion in a duel, right then and there. Elorin uses his anger and rushes in quickly, promptly dispatching his opponent in a single thrust. Borrin’s date leaves with Elorin, who is obviously superior, in her eyes.
That night at Marta’s, many games are being played and Jack arm-wrestles 3 opponents for 3 victories, winning some drinks and the eye of all serving girls there. Modig and Nikolas take advantage of the Festival and set up to gamble as a team; together they manage to end up with Nikolas as the table winner. The Group is on a mighty high from all their victories in the day.

The following day is the day of the public arena fights; entrants pay a fee, and are pitted against each other in single combat for glory. Of course, there is a lot of money to be made by betting in the stands. Nikolas fights in the arena; his opponent is a Hawkmask. Several rounds go by with Nikolas being victorious.
Gagino takes part in a musical contest, and takes both purses of 250 $h for Best Single Song and Best Overall Performer.
Elorin befriends some strangers in town. He’s not certain who seems more strange, Wess or Aerie. Aerie is unconventionally tall for a woman, taller than most people Elorin’s ever met and she wears a very heavy cloak on her back. Wess, the man Aerie travels with, is easily a head taller than she is. They are both very slender of build, and are traveling very light. Elorin tells them where to meet up with the Group later, when the light starts to fade for the day.
When the two travelers enter Marta’s, they attract more attention than usual. Strangers are common in Sanctuary, especially during Festival, but these two have an aura that seems to cause unwanted attention focus on them. They are not only strange in dress and but are even stranger in mannerisms. The strangers seek out the Group and join them at their table. There are introductions all around, and the din of the tavern recedes as the two strangers entrust the Group to their purpose in Sanctuary.
They are here because they’ve followed a path of clues to this Festival. They are looking for a friend of theirs who was kidnapped a few weeks ago from their homeland, far to the north. They completely believe their friend is in significant danger and are willing to do anything to rescue him. They think his enslaver is bringing his circus to the Festival. They don’t know much of who has their friend, but they think it will be easy to find him. The Group ponders their situation and agrees to aid in any way that they can.

The Group arrives at Marta’s and the strangers are there already. The rumor on the street is that there is a traveling show coming to town for the Festival. The newcomers have a feeling that this traveling circus will provide more clues to their friend.
A man in town for the Festival enters Marta’s and looks around. He spots what he seems to be looking for and approaches Kalima. He’s carrying a quarterstaff and since she is also carrying a quarterstaff, he challenges her to a friendly bout in the arena, using only their quarterstaffs. The stranger puts up a 100 $h wager, and Kalima agrees. They walk over to the arena, requisition a slot for fighting, and go in. After a short wait and watching a few fights, Kalima and the man enter their ring, and the fight begins! The battle goes evenly, but Kalima ekes out a win with a lucky blow. The Group watches a few more bouts at the arena, and then is drawn to some new activity from the north; the traveling circus is arriving.
The circus wagon train comes through town, starting at the north gate, through the caravan square (leaving some of the wagons there) and across the Wideway to the Processional, and then north to the Palace grounds. After some setup, an announcer starts revealing the contents of the wagons. There are creatures in cages from the far reaches of the continent. Finally, the last, biggest wagon of them all is revealed and it contains a tall, red, winged humanoid. The announcer calls the humanoid ‘Satan’. The wagons head back to Caravan Square, and the group meets up with the strange travelers in Marta’s. Satan is their missing friend, and they have sworn to free him, and are bound and determined to do so tonight. Elorin cools them down by convincing them to wait one night so they can scout the situation first. The Group is going to the performance tonight to figure out the activity, and then on the second night they will attempt to free him.
In the tent of the circus, several acts are performed, with Satan as the finale. He’s brought out on a stage, and is ordered to provide a show for the crowd. No one in Sanctuary has ever seen nor heard of such a creature, and the Northerners are disgusted with the cruelty with which their friend is treated. Whips and shouts of threats are used to get Satan to show his wings fully spread out, and eventually for him to fly around the tent.
The scouting proves very worthwhile, and the Group waits until the second night for the end of Satan’s flight, then they will spring into action. Outside, Aerie emits a high-pitched keen to alert Satan to her presence, and she removes her heavy cloak. She has wings, too! Aerie takes to the air, while the rest of the plan take shape. Kalima casts some darkness spells at the folks on the stage while the Group outside starts cutting support ropes to the big tent. As the tent collapses, Aerie cuts a hole in the top, allowing her and Satan to fly free. Chaos ensues as the public starts running for the exits while the tent collapses. Wess takes initiative and starts to open the rest of the animal cages, setting all of the captured creatures free.
Outside of town, the Group meets up with Wess. Wess reveals that the group was wrong about something. Wess is commonly mistaken for a man outside of her native land, so she sets the story straight, and bids the Group farewell. The Group wishes her a good journey. She’s going to meet her friends far to the north in a day or so. After watching her in action, the Group does not doubt her ability to survive on her own. Goodbyes are said, and the Group and Wess take opposite paths.