Chapter 7: On to Caldore

Chapter 7
A mist blanketed the surrounding streets as the overnight rainfall abated. Thunder rumbled far off to the west, the neighbouring county was up for a drenching. Ozman, Cyril, and Altadore reconvened in the mess for a hearty breakfast of oatmeal and kippers followed by fresh baked bread. It had been a long night. A young boy, some new initiate to the ranks, approached them and advised that Ennel Hancey would see them. Mopping up the last of the porridge the group returned to Hancey’s office. The ledger was no longer there, being poured over by the garrison’s Analytics division, however much had already been elucidated from the accounting book. It seems there were at least 3 other gangs operating in the city beyond the 2 discovered the night before. Under the auspices of the Storm Crows these gangs were but a small piece to the puzzle. As such, Hancey indicated the group’s efforts would be best focused elsewhere.

Indeed, Hansey had other news for the group. Merv, the big friendly Goliath, was offering his services to the group to set up and run the Leaning Lady, with Hancey’s blessing. He felt the Tavern was an excellent acquisition and would make a valuable base of operations for the group. More pressing, however, was word of increasing activity up the Caldoran coast; a few weeks travel North / Northwest of Estor Shieliah. Innumerable vessels were seen plying the waves. Were these shipments related to the Storm Crow accounts?

The group took their leave of the Captain and decided to run some errands on their way back to the Leaning Lady. First stop was the bank where they deposited their bounty from the previous night including the 3 gold bars. They kept the rest of their new possessions which included the Alchemical Treatise, 4 wooden tokens, the pewter rod, and the silver ring. Into his safety deposit box Cyril placed the 3 tomes he had pilfered from Bico’s library; Ember in the Foul, Empire of Thought, and The Laughing Cavern. The adventurers then split up briefly, Cyril needed to have his newly acquired spell runes etched onto his knuckles, and they reconvened at the Tavern. There they found Leafy, the perky little Halfling Bartender, sitting somewhat forlorn (and most definitely apprehensive) upon the steps of her prior place of employment. She staggered to her feet and, in breathless staccato speech, offered her services to the group; should they wish to keep the place running that is. Ozman advised that the Tavern would indeed continue to operate and he agreed that they would do well to retain her services, which greatly assuaged her fears. Visibly calmer Leafy advised that many of Bico’s gangs were still active and not yet aware of his death. Indeed, a delivery was being made later that evening. Apparently, The Dirges along with all the other gangs make scheduled weekly drop offs and tonight would be no different. The adventurers immediately began planning to intercept this shipment. To do so, however, they would need to clean up. Here their Goliath friend Merv was most helpful as he brought in 2 of his brothers to help out.

In the meantime, Ozman attempted to contact Jane’s father and advise him of his daughter’s demise. He approached the house/store just down the street from The Leaning Lady, bracing himself to relate the ghastly news. There was no answer. Using his newly honed lock-picking skills Ozman easily gained entry to the quiet establishment and, tragically, discovered Jane’s Father’s corpse upstairs, his throat slit from ear to ear. The body was at least a day old implying it must have happened at the same time Jane was abducted.

Returning to the tavern Ozman and the others continued to prepare for the night’s ambush and they arranged to have some of Hancey’s men join them in case things got out of hand. There was time to spare, however, so Cyril made for Premus Kerator, his preferred salon. If there were to be 2 battles in as many days Cyril thought he had best be prepared.

Dusk settled and the common room began to fill with regulars and newcomers alike, all unaware of the carnage that had transpired not 24h ago. It had taken Merv and his brothers considerable effort to clean the Goliath Doorman’s blood off the floor. They were none to please with that task however it paled in comparison to the morbidity of chopping up not one but two giant Naga and disposing of their remains. Merv was going to need a bonus for his efforts.

With Hansey’s men occupying a table in the common room, Cyril disguised himself as a human at the bar. Altadore casually rested by the door while Ozman retreated behind the velvet curtain and awaited the arrival of the gang. They were ready to spring the trap. Soon after nightfall a tall Elf accompanied by two humans (one an impressive Barbarian) entered the tavern. Dressed in crimson velvets and sporting a fine golden sash he walked with a swagger and arrogance only a petty thief above his station could pull off. He approached the bar preparing to do his business and Leafy gave the signal. These were the louts they were waiting for and they had no idea Bico was dead.

Leafy directed the Elf to the back room behind the curtain. Still at his ease the Elf left the humans in the common room and pushed aside the curtain. There Ozman was waiting while Cyril and Altadore followed close behind, blocking the fools exit. His eyes widened in alarm and a terrified quiver took over his legs. With his constitution failing him a wet salty puddle formed at his feet. A dull thud was heard as the punk dropped a heavy purse; his delivery for the evening. Payments made to Bico for this weeks “protection”. Needless to say the Elf talked and with little encouragement the adventures learned his weekly shipment derived from businesses in the mercantile district on the next spire over. Cyril picked up the coin purse – an impressive 200gp was within. After further questioning the Elf was determined to be one Amir Gimladin, representative of The Rubies gang, an affectation based on the ruby rings such gang members wore. Being of such low rank in Bico’s scheme Amir had little else to offer the group and so was placed in manacles and taken to North Pit Garrison by Hansey’s men. It seems there would be a reprieve from any bloodshed, for this evening at least.

With the encounter coming to an unexpectedly peaceful end the group set forth to complete their tavern clean up. Suddenly an earth sundering BOOM shook the foundations of the entire building sending dust into the air and glassware to shatter on the floor. Before anyone could utter a word a 2nd explosion could be heard further away followed by 4 more further still. Was the city under attack? Was it the Storm Crows? The adventurers rushed onto the street where they witnessed the fiery remains of Jane’s store, heavy girded beams rent in two as the foundation collapsed in on itself. Merv dashed out of The Leaning Lady yelling, “Come on!” and he raced off in the direction of The Middens. As the group followed Merv to the Barracks they traveled through chaos. Men and women screaming in all directions, cries of terror echoed down the lane, supplications to the gods going unanswered. At the Barracks they met Hancey as he directed the response efforts. Hancey looked pissed.


GuyPierce Tastisamich

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