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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thieves' World - Stepsons and Jubal

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 : Sikkintairs & Portals : The Swans

Stepsons and Jubal
2nd of Sperraz
Inside Marta’s for dinner, the Group is once again alerted to happenings outside by screaming people. Outside, there are two more Sikkintairs in the sky; these are much larger than the ones from yesterday. The Sikkintairs are circling, looking for prey on the East side. They swoop down and grab some people and fly off. All the arrows from the guards and the Group are not enough to kill one. Afterwards, the Group goes back into Marta’s for a while, and then heads out on the streets for home. On the way through the East side, Kalima and Modig see a group of thugs hanging out at a doorway, and when the thugs leave, they follow them. They recognize it as one of Roxane’s Death Squads – with a Soul Sniffer with them. They seem to randomly pick another doorway, and hang there for a few minutes, and move on to yet another doorway. Modig goes to get some of the others while Kalima watches the Death Squad. Malkar, Nicolas, Modig and Kalima attack the Death Squad, which flee immediately. The Group manages to knock one member is unconscious and the Group takes a prisoner. An explosion is heard nearby, and the Group checks it out. The first doorway was trapped with a trap that exploded in a fiery ball, and was set off by someone. The Guard is there and looking for suspects. The Group sneaks off to look at the other doorways, and find them trapped as well. Modig attempts to disable the trap, but accidentally sets it off instead. Modig has some mighty quick reflexes, and doesn’t get hurt. He’s a little embarrassed, but the black marks from the fire covers the red. The second trap goes a little worse for Modig, as he is not quick this time, he gets slightly hurt. He’s confident that the next time he comes across any more of these Death Squad traps, he will best them. The Group decides to take their prisoner to the temple of Sabelia for questioning and healing – both for the prisoner and Modig. On the way, the Guard stops them, as they are still looking for suspects or witnesses to the explosions. The guard contingent consists of several members of the Watch, and a Hell Hound captain. After some discussion about what the Group saw and witnessed, the captain assigns a member of the Watch to go with the Group to make sure that everything is accounted for. They get to the Temple and find that their prisoner has died during the travel. They pay for a “Speak with Dead” spell and they get to ask 5 questions.

1. Where is your base of operations? – In the swamp, about a 2-hour walk outside of town
2. How many squads do you have in the city? – 2 currently
3. Where is Roxane? – In a top floor apartment near the Street of Red Lanterns
4. What contacts do you have in the city? – Just Roxane
5. Where is your homeland located? – We are from Nis. North of here, in the mountains

The Group leaves the Temple (After Modig gets some healing, but no eyebrows are able to be regrown) and Kalima sends up her owl to look for SoulSniffers and Death Squads. The Group combs the East side for more Death Squads. Finding and approaching one Squad, the Squad immediately scatters. A little later, they find the other Death Squad setting traps. Their attack kills three of the Death Squad members as well as the Soul Sniffer.
After dealing with the Death Squads, everyone is ready to go to bed. On their way back to the West side, they spot Tempus on the Processional heading into the West side. Sneaking after him, they watch him find, follow and attack a Hawkmask. The man in the Hawkmask drops after just one blow. Tempus spits on the corpse, and stalks off. Waiting a few seconds, Jack runs over to the Hawkmask, stops his bleeding, and pours a healing potion down his throat. The Group makes their way to the Vulgar Unicorn with the Hawkmask in tow, sans mask. When they get inside the Unicorn, they find a table and order some drinks. A comrade of the Hawkmask’s approaches them from another table. He says he is a friend of the man they brought in and is interested in helping him get home safely. The Group wants to question him first, but don’t want to offend the man. The man buys them a round of drinks, and slips some money under a mug for good faith. They get the wounded Hawkmask awake, and Jack tells him he owes him 55sh for the healing potion he used on him. The man gives him a leather pouch containing a very nice set of thieves’ tools. Jack doesn’t know what they are, so he gives them to Modig. The man tells them his name is Mor-am, and thanks them. He leaves with is buddies from the other table. As that group of three men leave, a nearby table of six mercenaries erupts in laughter, as if goading the three that are leaving. The Group listens to the boisterous mercenaries as they talk about the War with Nis, and a person they call ‘The Riddler’. The Group finishes up their drinks, and leaves.
Back out in the Maze, the Group comes across a man about to hit a beautiful woman, cowering from the possible blow. Jack rushes to the aid of the woman when men hidden in the alleyways suddenly jump out and throw nets over the Group. Kalima and Jack both get caught up and struggle against the nets. Modig deftly dodges the net meant for him and prepares for yet another fight. The thugs are armed with saps and attack, trying to knock them out. Kalima works her way free first, and starts dealing out some justice. Another couple of seconds, and Jack gets free and metes out his revenge on the men. All of them are killed. The woman thanks them and the Group escorts her back to the Temple of Sebelia where she can be safe for the night. In the morning, the woman is gone, with none of the Priestesses seeing her leave.

3rd of Sperraz
After the busy night they had last night, the morning starts a little late at Marta's, with Jack, Malkar, and Modig meeting for breakfast. After the three are almost done, Isabella shows up, and says it is starting to rain.
Gagino is at his tent in the Bazaar watching some new soldiers in town; they look to be mercenaries. He strikes up a conversation with two of these mercenaries, Niko and Abarsis. They are Stepsons looking for Dubro's forge. Gagino keeps them in his tent by talking with them and determines that they are in town on a mission, working for their old army buddy the 'Riddler'. They've heard that the fabled steel of Enlibar can be found at Dubro's and they are looking for some swords made from this famous steel.
Four other Stepsons are in Marta's and Jack starts carousing with them. He also manages to get some information about their mission in Sanctuary. He drinks with them for a short time, and is invited to the Rank & Shield later on for some more drinking and carousing. The rest of the Group watches the Stepsons carefully, with some interest.
After a bad day of business, due to heavy rain, Gagino shuts up shop early and meets with the rest of the Group at Marta's. He talks of the Stepsons, their patron the ‘Riddler’, and how they are in town to destroy Jubal and his empire. Malkar secrets off and sells this information to Gastov at the Happy Beaver.

The rest of the day is spent indoors drinking out of the rain. Eventually the time comes to meet the Stepson’s at the Rank & Shield. The Group makes their way slogging through the rain and mud. At the soldier bar, Jack decides to go in first. He finds and sits at the table with six Stepsons and Tempus. The rest of the Group comes in after Jack and sits to watch and listen to the stories of the War in the North with Nis. Conversations wind from old war stories to new, and to current events in Sanctuary. It is obvious that the Stepsons are not pleased with the piss hole that is Sanctuary, Tempus agrees, and finishes his drink. Tempus bids everyone a goodbye and leaves the bar. After a short time, the Stepsons get bored with the Rank & Shield, and decide to go to a better bar they have heard of: The Vulgar Unicorn. Jack says he can take them there and accompanies the Stepsons. The Group waits a while, and then decides to go to the Vulgar Unicorn as well.
On the way, the Group (less Jack) sees a mugging take place. As they typically do, they jump into action. The muggers seem to have killed their victim, but they don’t fare well with the vengeance of Malkar, Gagino, Modig, Isabella and her bodyguard. The Group rolls the bodies of the muggers, and they find that the man is not dead; they save him from a certain death. Isabella bids her bodyguard to take the victim to the Temple of Sabellia for healing. The money in his purse is used as a donation to the Sisters of Sabellia. The rest of the Group continues on to the Vulgar Unicorn. They get there, and the Stepsons and Jack are not present.
Meanwhile, Jack and the Stepson’s are lost and wandering the Maze, finally stumbling across the Vulgar Unicorn. They go in with a lot of noise and take the biggest open area for themselves. Gagino plays his Mandolin while Isabella dances; they earn enough coins to keep the Group in drinks for not only tonight, but also for quite a few nights.
The Vulgar Unicorn is unusually busy; there are several drawn curtains at the booths. There is another large group of men there, obviously out of their element and grouped together for safety. The group of men is talking about the exploding traps that are wounding people in their neighborhoods, but no lives have been taken, not yet. They are discussing possible courses of action since it seems the Prince Governor and his guards are not doing anything about the Death Squads setting these traps.
The Group listens around and gets a lot of information, and decides to head out into the night to see if they can confront any of the Death Squads they've run into the past few nights. The first Squad they run across spots the Group, and immediately scatters.
The Group determines that Death Squads aren't much of a problem tonight, and head for their various homes for the night.

4th of Sperraz
Malkar wakes in the Happy Beaver, and has a chat with Gastov about some possible work he has available for him and his friends.
The Group is at Marta’s, eating breakfast when an armored woman comes in. She sits alone at a table and eats. Eventually, she notes that Jack looks like the fighter who her Father, Tempus, told her about. He and his group of friends can possibly be recruited for the task she is here to deal with. Kama introduces herself to the Group and starts talking to them. During the conversation, Malkar gets a note delivered to him. It is from Gastov, and he wants to finalize any deal that will get the group to help Jubal.
Two Stepsons also show up at Marta’s, and Jack is distracted from Kama for a while as he chums up his new buddies from yesterday and last night.
Kama goes to scope out Roxane’s, near the Street of Red Lanterns. Meanwhile, the Group and 2 Stepsons go to the East side to assess damage from the Death Squads.
Kama watches Roxane’s building and follows an agent. She is seen, and diverts away to the Rank and Shield. In here, she learns of the portal in Molin’s quarters and goes to the Temple of Vashanka. After talking with some guards at the Temple, she meets up with the Group. They are on the East side mapping out the attacks, looking for a pattern they can identify. Jack, scouting the East side with a few Stepsons, chats about the note that Malkar received earlier that day. Jack tells them that it was from Jubal. One of the Stepson’s takes this information directly to Tempus, who orders the Stepsons to prepare for attack tonight, before Jubal can prepare. The Stepsons inform Jack that they have new orders and leave for the Palace barracks. Jack follows in surprise, and on the way, he sees Kama and the rest of the Group. Kama goes to the Golden Oasis; Jack follows her in, intrigued. Jack pesters Kama to the point where Kama twists Jack’s wrist painfully – Kalima (peeking in) sees this and is very amused. Kama mouths ‘Marta’s’ to Kalima, and Kalima turns and leaves. Kama pays for lunch, and leaves, leaving Jack behind with another fresh ale. She slips outside and immediately hides in a nearby alley. Jack downs the ale and leaves the Golden Oasis, looking for Kama, but not seeing her. He gives up looking, and makes his way to Marta’s. Kama then follows him to Marta’s.
With Kama and several Stepsons at the table, the Group discusses the map and starts planning their assault on Roxane. During lunch, a scroll bearing Gastov’s mark is delivered to Malkar. It is a personal invitation from Jubal for dinner. Malkar passes the scroll to Modig, who reads it, then to Kalima and finally, to Jack. The note content is kept secret from Kama and the Stepsons. The Group decides to let Modig deal with the meeting with Jubal, while they do some reconnaissance on Roxane and her Death Squads.
Spying on Roxane’s begins again at dusk, when the Sikkintairs are summoned every night. Kama positions herself on the tall walls of the Palace watching Roxane’s building. Kalima and Malkar join Kama on the wall as well. While they watch, three figures arrive on the rooftop, it is Roxane and two other figures, not human, but humanoid. She casts a spell or two, and then returns downstairs. The witch summons 2 Sikkintairs and they appear over the Wide Way. The Stepsons and Jack are nearby, and they run through the fleeing crowd to the docks. Jack presents himself as a target to the closest flying creature, and it swoops down to grab him. The Stepsons fire their crossbows, and Jack steels for the attack. Jack, with his sword still swinging, is grabbed and is taken into the air. Crossbow bolts continue to sink into the Sikkintair and while in the clutches of the beast, Jack delivers the final killing blows to the flying creature. The creature goes limp, and falls heavily to the ground taking Jack heavily to the ground with it. Jack barely escapes being crushed by the falling beast. Tempus shows up on horseback, still concerned about the remaining beast in the air, but glad to see one of them is already dead. The other Sikkintair swoops and grabs a citizen and flies into the air, flying north to escape with its prey. Malkar, Kama and Kalima all get pot shots at it, but not enough to take it down. The city Watch is dispatched to dispose of the dead beast’s corpse.
To get to his meeting with Jubal, Modig goes to The Happy Beaver, and is escorted to Jubal’s estate through an underground passageway that starts in the sewers. He enjoys a lavish meal, in the sense of atmosphere, not so much in food. Jubal asks why he, Modig, was the sole respondent to his invitation, Modig says he’s here as the representative for the whole Group. Jubal offers Modig and the group a lot of silver to help him defend his estate from Tempus and the Stepsons. Modig says he’ll consider the deal, and inform the Group of the offer. He leaves the same way he came, through the tunnel and sewer.
Modig looks for the group on the Street of Red Lanterns. Malkar and Kama spot him wondering the Street. Malkar goes to get Modig, and brings him up on to the wall with the others. They remain for several hours watching for any more activity from Roxane. Nearing midnight, Kama sights the Death Squads assembling near the river, on the other side. They ford the river in a low spot and go into a wooded area just on the other side of the river. The group assembles an ambush at a wall opening and wait. And wait. No squads come through the gate, and the Group searches the woods for the Death Squads. They do find a portal, through which they go.
They appear on the Wide Way and immediately set out looking for their quarry. The Group sees an eerie orange glow from the west, Modig estimates that the glow is where Jubal’s estate is. An explosion leads them to one of the squads. As they approach they are spotted by a Death squad, which immediately scatters, except for the Soul Sniffer, who attacks Jack. Jack, hurt from the Sikkintair attack, takes a nasty blow from the Soul Sniffer, and returns in kind. Malkar steps in to help, and together they take the Soul Sniffer down.

The Group decides the glow near Jubal’s is more important than finding the other two Death Squads. Leaving the other two Death Squads to do their deeds near the wharf, the Group goes west towards Jubal’s estate. Tempus intercepts the Group at Jubal’s, and informs them that his attack was a surprise to Jubal and that Jubal is no longer in business, here or otherwise. The Group surveys the battlefield; there are bodies everywhere, and very few of them are Stepsons.