Dahkath's Council of Thieves
Marius Baradin Journal 3
Starday, Arodus 18
The ride back to Westcrown was uneventful. It gave me plenty of time to think about my new situation. Upon my return, I dismounted the loaned horse that I had been given by Gorvio, and proceeded to make my way back towards his uncle’s stables, where I had been instructed to return the horse. As I approached the shops, I noticed my companions had already found their way here, though a ruckus of some type seemed to be occurring. Jezzie’s hands were gripped in anger, wisps of flaming seeming to slowly gather around her fingers, and I feared that emotions may get the better of her. Thodin appeared to be placing himself in the middle of her and a handsome, well dressed Chelish man, who seemed to be in an uproar over something. Fin stood in the corner, realizing as I did that this incident could draw the attention of the Dottari at any moment, attention that we did not want at the moment.
I approached the group, and the man’s attention turned to me, as he accused me of taking his horse, which he required this evening. Being accused of stealing would have normally lead me to give the man a vicious beating, but I was new to Westcrown, and without knowing who this man’s had alliances with, my only recourse was to attempt to soothe the situation with calmer words. I asked him for his name, and upon asking he seemed insulted that I did not recognize him on sight. Upon informing him that I was newly arrived to Westcrown, he introduced himself as Thesing Umbero Ulvauno, an actor of Chelaxian opera, and a directory as well. As he spewed a list of acolytes, Jezzie’s eyes rolled. Clearly, she had no respect for the man. He went on to tell me that due to a lack of horses for his newest performance, “The Elopement of the Dowager Princess”, he was now running behind in his preparations for his performance, something that House Thrune, his supposed patron, would be displeased about. I had little belief that the great House would have much use for an arrogant opera director, but if for some reason it was true, it would be best to placate this man as much as possible. I made small chat with him, along with Thodin, while Jezzie strode away, seemingly disgusted with the fact that we engaged the man in conversation at all, and Fin, who wanted no associated with this particular incident. After several more minutes of stroking the man’s rather large ego, he seemed pleased enough to suggest he might invite us to one of his next showings of the Dowager Princess, though his invitation was less than sincere, and then departed with his four mounts.
Janavo, Gorvio’s uncle, thanked us for settling the dispute without involving the authorities, and then the dwarf and I made our way back towards the Shrine of Aroden once again. Inside, Arel greeted us, much more kindly that the first time, and thanked us for the rescue, apologizing for his initial reaction after having been now informed by Janiven to the entire situation. I, in turn, apologized for my brash speaking at the time as well, which seemed to please the half-elf. If we are to be allies for this venture, than it will be better if any misgivings have been dealt with early. Arel and Janiven brought us into a small room, where we discussed the events of the past day. Janiven informed us that the Helknights of the Rack would be furious about the ambush of a prison convoy; their legal recourse would apparently be almost nil, however, due to the fact that the attack occurred outside of town limits. She also informed us that even though the Dottari were aware of Arel’s escape, they were making no active moves to seek him out. I expect that the Dottari did not want to bother obtaining the half-elf again only to have the Rack go over their head once more. This pettiness would play right into the Children’s hands. Although they were not actively seeking him, however, Arel felt that it was not the time to make more noise in the city, that that letting the incident cool off was the most appropriate course of action. With that, he gave each of our group a small bag of gold coins, for the services we had rendered. Although being paid for committing crimes did not suit me, I could not refuse the funds, as my own coin had become somewhat depleted.
We left the shrine, and I realized that I had not yet obtained permanent lodgings in the city, having lived out of taverns for most of my time in Westcrown. The group decided to get together in a few hours, to decide what our next actions would be, and so I went off to market, to sell the few items that we had obtained in exchange for some coin, and to hopefully bury the evidence of us attacking several Hellknights. I obtained a decent amount of coin for the weapons we had seized, and Thodin was able to sell the trinkets we’d found in the sewers. Funny that we were being paid good gold for something someone probably flushed down the sewers accidently, but I would not complain. With a decent amount of gold now in my pocket, I found a notice board offering an apartment for rent in the Rego Sacero, and decided to inquire about its vacancy.
With the business of finding lodgings concluded, I met up again with my companions for some late lunch, trying to plan our next move. Thodin suggests that we go and talk to Jan Camdor, the merchant we’d overheard being discussed by the imps in the sewers, and I find myself agreeing with him adamantly. The idea of imps in the sewers plotting did not sit well with me. If they had the authorization of House Thrune, why would they be hiding themselves in such a dismal place? Jezzie and Fin seem to have no objections to the investigation, and so we set out to find him. Fin quickly obtains the location of Jan Camdor, he is in a run-down section of the city, in the <location here>. Fin seems rather comfortable navigating the streets here, and I assume that he must spend much of his table in this squalor.
The shop of Jan Camdor was nothing out of the ordinary at first glance. A clattering of weapons lies all over the shop, not particularly well organized. We approached Jam, who likes any salesperson, tried to sell us anything he could. Fin spoke first, informing Jan that several imps had been plotting against him. The shop keeper takes in the information with a sceptical attitude, and I couldn’t blame him. Several strangers coming into your house and telling you that devil’s are plotting against you can sound unbelievable. Fin asks a common series of questions, with the thoughtfulness of a detective; Once again, I feel that he could be a great asset for the Scourge, for the right price. Jan revealed that he lacked any enemies (or ones that he was aware of), and that his shop contains nothing of interest that he believed imps would want. Fin pressed Jan into letting him investigate the rest of the house, but Jan’s obvious distrust came to the surface, and he told us that although he appreciated such information about his life, he had no reason to believe its authenticity.
We left the house, with little more information than we had come in with. It was approaching late afternoon, and so we decided to find an inn for a quick dinner. As we enjoying the mutton that had been served to us for supper, the group comes up with the idea of observing the house overnight from the inn, to see if the imps were doing anything obvious from inside the building. The party agreed that this might help us seek out the imps, and so we paid the innkeeper for some mats by the hearth for that evening. As the darkness outside quickly fills the sky, the barkeep grabbed a large plank and barricaded the door. For the first time since I have been in Westcrown, I experienced the dread that some malevolent force might smash open the door. It was unnerving, though I kept it to myself. Jezzie went to bed, requiring eight hours of rest in order to use her arcane abilities the following evening. I volunteered for the first watch, as I knew that my human eyes would not be able to see as well later into the evening as the half-elf and the dwarf. I pull up a chair beside the window, and start at Jan’s shop for several hours, but nothing of interest occurs. Only the half-elf tapping on my shoulder made me realize that my watch had concluded. With that, I left Fin to keep watch, and went to bed.
Sunday, Arodus 19
I awoke to daybreak, and the innkeeper releasing the barricade on the door. Fin and Thodin were already talking over breakfast, and I joined them in their discussion, letting Jezzie continue her rest. Thodin seemed annoyed at the half-elf for something, and it was only as I sat down that I discovered that Fin had discovered something last night during his watch, a light travelling throughout the house. The half-elf quickly pointed out that there was nothing we could have done while barricaded inside the inn last night, and wanted us to be well rested for today. I couldn’t argue with his logic in this case, though keeping information from us at a critical point could certainly create distrust in this group.
When we had all prepared ourselves for the day, we travelled over to Jan’s place of business once more, Fin again pressing Jan for more information after informing him of what he saw last night. Again, Jan’s distrust boils to the surface, after Fin has informed him that we had basically been spying on him last night. Fin’s lacked the subtlety that this situation clearly required. As I go to place myself between the two men, I noticed that something was wrong about the shop. Or rather, that something was missing. One of the swords that I had been eyeing yesterday as I investigated the show was now gone. As I approached Jan, Fin walked out of the store in disgust, clearly infuriated that the business man was not taking him seriously. I informed Jan of what I had noticed, and wondered if he’d noticed the same. He said that he did not keep notice of everything in his store, and that I was likely mistaken. Still, I asked him as diplomatically as I could if I would be able to make some subtle chalk marks on his weapons rack, to see if anything went missing the next night. Once again his distrust was obvious, and he plainly asked why I would care about his shop.
Frankly, I replied that I had little care for him or his shop, and that my true reason for this investigation was to find these imps, and banish them back to Hell. He seemed a little taken back by my honesty, but quickly composed himself, and suggested that if I were to make a substantial purchase, he might let us continue our investigation. Cheliaxian diplomacy at its finest.
Leaving with a new Bastard Sword, and the chalk markings in place, we left for the evening. Fin had composed himself, and we suggested that if we were to spend the night hunting shadow beasts, we might also have a chance to observe the shop more closely. Hunting shadow beasts would certainly prove profitable, and a closer look at Jan’s house during the night, though it would mean breaking the city curfew. Am I doomed to continue to break laws in order to enforce order?
We returned at night, as all the shops were beginning to set their barricades. People from inside their houses gave us odd looks, more of morbid curiosity that we would remain on the other side of those barricades this evening.
We began patrolling the streets around Jan’s business, in search of a creature that we could not identify. Perhaps it was nerves, or simply bad luck, but the first thing we encountered that evening was of a much more mundane sorts: The Dottari. Three of them spotted us, with my torch in hand, and quickly engaged us. Blocking our way forward, I knew that these so called lawkeepers wanted one thing from us: Money. Stating our intention for tracking down shadow beasts, the Dottari pointed out the “Night Tax” which we were required to pay. Jezzie slipped a small gathering of coins into the lead patrolman’s hands, to which he smiled, and wished us a good evening. Their laughter as they walked away from us sickened me. These men cared only about filling their own pockets, not with enforcing the law. The Dottari’s corruption would be routed one day, I told myself. Until then, we would find ourselves lacking coin here and there.
Our patrols continued uneventfully, as Fin peaked his head through every alleyway. As he looked down one hallway, the clawing of tiny little feet echoed into the street. Fin quickly ran out of the hall, with a swarm of a hundred rats nipping at his heels. Clearly the vermin were starved, and attacking together in desperation. It was good fortune that allowed us to dissipate the swarm quickly, Jezzie setting them a blaze as I chopped away at them. In an instant, they scattered, their instinct to survive outweighing their desire to eat.
It seemed that the Dark One’s luck was with us, but that quickly changed. We continued our hunt for one of these elusive shadow creatures, and once again, it was Fin who discovered trouble first. His scream alerted us that something had attacked him, and we rushed to him. My torch shining brightly could still barely allow me to see the black, inky creature that now had gnashed Fin, his arm coated in a black, oily goo that seem to cause him to writhe in pain. I plunged my Bastard Sword quickly into the beast, who howled an unearthly scream, and then seemed to disappear into thin air. I waived my torch around, trying to see where the beast had gone. Too late I realized it had somehow managed to climb onto the roof and jump down on a defenseless Jezzie. The beast mauled her into unconsciousness. Thodin lashed out at the beast with his longsword while Fin had gathered himself enough to hurl a javelin at the beast. As they attacked the beast, I called forth my new god-given powers, and placed my hand upon Jezzie’s brow. A magic force shot out from my hand, into Jezzie, and she breathed deeply as her wounds began to mend themselves. Grabbing my Bastard Sword again, I again, lashed out, striking true against the beast as it feel lifeless to the ground. We began to congradulate ourselves on the victory, but too soon it seemed; The beast’s form was beginning to shrink rapidly, as if it were water evaporating in the desert. Quickly we grabbed the beast’s corpse and ran to Leroung Estate, where the beast was to be delivered for a reward from the mysterious “Bluehood”. We arrived in time, though the corpse was only a fraction of the size it had started out with. Placing the corpse on the doorway, we quickly made our way back to Jan’s shop, for the time that Fin had seen the light in the window yesterday was about to arrive, and we wanted to be ready if something were to occur tonight.
We placed ourselves outside of the building, and could do little else but wait and hope that the Dottari did not interrupt our investigation. Fin stood in front of the door, fiddling with something, and I could only assume he was attempting to undo the buildings locks. I frowned again, but couldn’t chastise him at the moment, as we waited for something to happen in the shop.
It was nearly thirty minutes later that a light appeared in the upstairs window, as faint as candle light. The light began to stir, and made its way downstairs. Jan was walking down the stairs, looking somewhat mesmorized, though it could be that he had been awoken by Fin’s fiddling with the house locks. Something was obviously amiss, as Jan began grabbing weapons off the racks, and approaching the far wall. A portal appeared suddenly from nowhere, and Jan tossed in a mace into the portal, a whoosh sound happening as it crossed the threshold and disappeared into the unknown. It was enough proof for me, and I barged through the front doors, running towards Jan to stop him from throwing in yet another weapon. My companions followed after me. As I was about to grab Jan, and stop him from throwing more of his inventory away, Jezzie let out yet another piercing cry and clutched her neck. Behind her, a small, winged imp retracted his stinger from her neck, grinning fiendishly as he look towards the rest of us. The shock of the attacked stopped me from halting Jan, who tossed another weapon into the portal, and grabbed another one from the rack. His inventory would have to suffer as I had to save the rest of the party. Jezzie attempted to light the imp a flame, but the winged devil only laugh as the flames leapt off him. A denizen of Hell would feel no pain from fire, magical or mundane. Fin grabbed his polearm, and caught the overconfident imp off guard, hurting him severely. I rushed towards the other end of the store, but the racks of weapons impeded my progress, and I could not stop the imp from impaling his stinger into Fin’s neck as well. Jezzie’s legs were starting to wobble, and clearly the imps poison was starting to affect her. I finally made my approach and struck the creature with my blade. For such a small creature, its flesh was resistant to the blow, like its skin was a suit of plate mail. Still, it felt the pain, and cried out. Meanwhile, Thodin had taken my place in trying to stop Jan, as he wrestled with the man and tried to pin him in order to stop him from doing more damage.
Jezzie, even in her weakened state, whispered a few words of arcane magic, and small missiles made of magic left her hands, and struck the imp. The imps wounds were regenerating however, and it looked quickly for an exit to make its escape. Fin, angry about the poison now flowing in his veins, struck the beast hard with his polearm once again, deeply in the chest. The imp screamed as his body began to be consumed from inside by fire, and in a flash of light it was gone. The portal on the wall consumed itself, and we were left in the shop alone.
As I recovered from the fight, all I could was Jan’s voice asking: “What are you doing in my shop?”