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 Post subject: The Friday Knights in Thunderspire Labyrinth (with Pics).
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 6:41 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

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The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Chapter 1: At the gate.

Kullervo stared at the lock on the gate, then the alley beyond, then eventually behind him, at his two companions, and finally through the mists and rain of the night to the mostly sleeping city that formed the backdrop, all this... Fallcrest, it was strange to him, he'd wanted excitement, and yet...

Still, it'd all been worthwhile, he was an adventurer now, he was freezing his ass off in the rain, staring at a lock that was probably trapped, and which he probably couldn't open anyway, and with Cathal and Ignaran's eyes burning holes in his back... but at least he was an adventurer now. It was what he wanted to do- last week, now he wasn't so sure.

A farm boy from Phsant, three days ago something inside him had snapped, he'd bundled his clothes, and in the dead of night, upped and left- no note. He missed home- warmth, smiling faces, good cooking; safety.

He looked again at the lock, then beyond- Cutpurse Alley [1] a well worn thoroughfare, the cobbled path slowly turning into a rivulet of stink as the rain continued to fall, up and right he could see a light, and every now and then hear raised voices- guards more than likely, Kullervo gulped- his throat was dry, very dry.

Home was less than ten miles away, ten miles and one whole world. His life had changed forever, he hoped- if only he could figure out what to do next; how to open the lock, find the traps- it was bound to be trapped Kullervo figured. The gate to Cutpurse Alley was a monstrosity in wrought iron, all leering gargoyles, teeth, claws and talons- it said “keep out”, forget said, it shouted- “NO ENTRY.” [2]

It'd taken Kullervo the rest of the night to walk from Phsant to Fallcrest, he'd never been to the city before, ten miles- he hadn't travelled further than half that distance from the farm in the the first nineteen years of his life, that was going to change.

The massive gates to Fallcrest were shut, that was his first surprise. He had to wait an hour in the dawn mist until a guard [3] came into sight, atop the battlement-

“Ho there, I want to come in...” Kullervo called up and waved.
“Then you've a long wait.” The guard shouted back, and smirked a little, settling in to enjoy the show.
The silence stretched, Kullervo fretted a little.
“What time do you open?” He eventually called back.
The guard shrugged, at least Kullervo presumed he did, hard to see for sure at this distance.
“We're shut.” The Soldier added and stifled a laugh.
Kullervo thought about this for a while- this wasn't going well he decided.
“Why?” Kullervo tried.
“Bandits.” The guard gestured vaguely down the Trade Road, away from Fallcrest.
“Markelhay's orders.” He added by way of explanation, Markelhay the name of the Lord of Fallcrest, even Kullervo knew that.
“What do I...” Kullervo started up.
“Sod off.” The Guard offered and did little to hide his amusement, a little while later he took to making a gesture that Kullervo had last witnessed in the school playground of Phsant, aged six [4]; Kullervo swiftly picked up a stone and threw it.
Ding.
Then ran.

[1] Cutpurse Alley, Back Alley (also known as “The Crack”), Beggars Way and Stabbers Paradise map out the line of conflict, the war zone, between the Beggars Guild and the Shadowmen, perhaps the largest Thieves Guild in Fallcrest. Interestingly the suicide rate in this area of the city is the highest of any region, most preferred methods of “offing” oneself are- multiple stab wounds, poisoned crossbow bolt and self-strangulation- go figure.

[2] The gate to Cutpurse Alley was manufactured and installed by “Gates”, a local firm that specialises in gates, and traps, oh and trapped gates. The CEO of Gates, Build Gates, also runs Microshaft, which operates out of a shadowy booth in one of the night markets, specialising in extreme hardened crossbow bolts with very thin, and therefore lightweight, shafts- alas the present design has problems with loading. The gate in question is a BFTG9000, guaranteed to bloody- Kullervo is right to be nervous.

[3] The guard in question was Arthur Snickett, known to friends, family and enemies alike as a “complete tosser.”

[4] Billy Huffenpuff, also aged 6, made the gesture to Kullervo in the Phsant School playground- he later lost two teeth in a hammer-related accident, the incidents are connected..

Until next time...


Last edited by goonalan on Sat Jan 16, 2010 2:55 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DC53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:11 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
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Location: Grimbo
The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Chapter 2: Getting wet.

Suddenly there’s a hand on his shoulder, Kullervo spins around and straight into the bearded and bristling face of Cathal.
“Well, Thief?” Cathal growls and sucks on a tuft of beard.
Kullervo shakes his head- he can't do it, doesn't know how, he'd learn though.
The warrior, Cathal, half-stomps, half-squelches back to the third of the companions- a slight man, Ignaran the Druid , to deliver the bad news. A strange place for a Druid to be- Fallcrest. Ignaran Kullervo knows his previous life, the Druid lives a little outside of Phsant, in the woods up near Spinney Hill [1]. Kullervo had met him once or twice in the village, at a festival or on a market day, another time he'd been to his father's farm- he was a good man, or so they said, until this morning Kullervo had never said one word to him.

Ignaran and Cathal moved forward at a crouch, it was getting late, they'd left the Blue Moon Inn [2] at midnight and the threesome had been crouched in the rain before the gate for a little over fifteen minutes now. Ignaran reached out and put his hand on Kullervo's shoulder, gripped tight to the farmboy’s leather jerkin and squeezed, he smiled, winked and then pointedly stared at the wall to the lef tof the forboding- soon Cathal and Kullervo were grinning too.

Less than two minutes later the three were on the roof of the building, and beyond the gate, pressed against the incline of the slates, there was indeed a light ahead, on another roof, on the other side of the alley- or so it seemed from where they lay; and noises too- someone was definitely there, and unless they passed the time by talking to themselves [4], they weren't alone.

The trio were soaked, nowhere to hide from the rain up here- Kullervo remembered back to his arrival in Fallcrest, it'd damn near killed him, getting in.

After wandering around much of the south wall of Fallcrest he'd eventually come to the conclusion that there was no way in, solid stone walls- thirty feet high in places, a smattering of guards their odd looks- on sighting him, often leading to flurries of activity and wild pointing, he’d tried to keep out of sight- there really was no way in.

Except for the river- the raging Nentir River, rapids all the way down from the Falls. You'd have to be a lunatic to go in there [5], doubly so because a man would have to swim up-river, you'd have to be pretty desp... Kullervo cut the melodrama and dived in.

It took him a little under thirty minutes to swim the two hundred yards or so needed to a spot on the bank where he could at last drag himself out of the maelstrom, escape the force of the torrent. He'd rested once or twice on his journey, although rested may have been over-selling it a little. What he had done, when his arms were frozen, numb from cold and exertion, was to drag himself up onto some of the bigger rocks in the stream, sprawl there for as long as he dared, before pushing back off into the surge and spray.

And it was thus he'd arrived in Fallcrest. First impressions- it stank. Of fires, of food, of animals packed too tightly, of people packed too tightly [6]; and yet there were few people about. Kullervo, to be on the safe side, had decided that it would be best if he found somewhere to rest, he didn't want to be seen, a young man emerging sodden from the river, a lunatic people would think, more than likely they’d be right. He smiled thinly to himself, and scurried on into a deserted street..

The houses either side were empty shells, broken ruins- a lasting reminder of the conflict that had come to Fallcrest a century past [7], although Kullervo did not know this, could only guess. He found a place with a roof, or else the majority of its roof- and collapsed there, clinging to the floor, his head still spinning, his arms and legs freezing and yet inside on fire. He slept. Badly.

He dreamt of death, a crushing force, pushing all the air out of him- he slept for most of two days and one night, it was Ignaran that found him, weak and fevered and almost unable to move.

[1] At the foot of Spinney Hill is The Spinney, a dense copse of trees rather than a woods, often found to contain the desiccated corpses of travellers and wandering farmers’ sons and daughters, also home to quite a collection of poisonous spiders.

[2] The Blue Moon Inn, or Alehouse, to give it its full title, proprietor Par Winnomer, a flake; the place actually survives, scratch that- thrives, because of the good work of the Halfling Alemaster Kemara “Hollow-Legs” Brownbottle. Hollow Legs, at night, fights crime in the city [3], travelling under the nom de guerre, “The Brownbottle”. Most people who frequent the Inn and/or live in the locale know this- it's made all the more obvious by the Brownbottle's crime-fighting costume, which consists solely of a wide-brimmed hat with lots of fruit on. Other than that the Bottle travels naked as the day she was born

[3] Actually what the Brownbottle does is stagger around till four in the morning swigging from a bottle and singing songs that would make sailors blush. However she keeps the burglars away.

[4] Talking to yourself - voted the third favourite pastime by residents of the Fallcrest Secure Mental Institution, proprietors Burke & Hare; interestingly basket weaving was placed second, while the age-old favourite random slayings came first, again. Swimming in the Nentir River placed only seventh this year- mainly, it has to be said, due to its popularity; most people only try it once.

[5] See [4].

[6] The Fallcrest full time Gnome and some-time Philosopher- Gilbert O' O, once wrote “the smell of excrement is the smell of humanity”, his neighbours agreed wholeheartedly.

[7] Fallcrest has suffered for centuries from invaders, the common adage, “points of light”, a description of the dotted enclaves of humanity within the region, is more true of Fallcrest than many of the other cities- the points of light in question are more often than not fires.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DC53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:12 am 
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The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Part 3: Nature comes to Town.

“What we need is a plan.” Ignaran, the Druid, whispers back and clings to the slick tile roof. He’s a little out of his element, although in the elements, he’s soaked to the skin.
“We need someone to go take a look.” Cathal grumbles, he even grumbles when he whispers.
The warrior stares hard at Kullervo.

Eventually the young Rogue cottons-on, nods once, grins a little, nervously, then slips over the peak of the roof onto the lea side, and abruptly disappears into the night.

Ignaran and Cathal wait a while, several ‘whiles’ in fact, they’ve just the rain and each other for company.

“Where'd you find him?” Cathal eventually grumbles, if only to break the silence.
“I knew him, or rather, knew of him, back in Phsant- that's a little village just outside of...”
“I know where it is.” Cathal snaps back.
“What good is he?” he adds.
Ignaran takes his time with an answer, he counts to ten twice, all the time staring, with a fixed smile, at Cathal’s sodden beard. In truth Ignaran had already decided that Cathal was not a people person, but that counted for little. The way he wore his armour, the sheen of his sword- Ignaran knew the warrior could be relied upon.
“He'll prove his worth before the end, of that I have no doubt.” The Druid whispers back and smiles some more, “as will we all”, he adds for good measure.
Cathal grunts and goes back to peering into the impenetrable dark [1].

Ignaran's arrival in Fallcrest had been much easier than Kullervo’s, although in truth he had been loathe to even enter the city, he'd been to the place before, even stayed in the city a while- but that was a long time ago. Besides he had been sent for, by Nimozaran, High Wizard and Septarch of Fallcrest; a grand title, particularly for an old man who wore mismatched slippers with his frayed magical robes [2], always had crumbs in his beard, and dribbled a little - not always when he was asleep.

Two days ago, at ten bells, the gates of Fallcrest had opened for him, and just him. There'd been a guard sent to meet him, guide him to Nimozaran's tower, he knew the way but appreciated the company, the crowded streets of Fallcrest made Ignaran itch [3].

“Why are the gates shut?” Ignaran enquires.
The guard points the way, clears a passage through the crowd, Ignaran flinches a little.
“Bandits on the Trade Road 'tween here and Winterhaven [4]- an uprising, humanoids- they need putting down for good if you ask me.” The guard confirms and elbows a young man aside.
“Sorry.” Ignaran nods at the injured party and moves on as quickly as he can.
“Have they attacked the city, or threatened to do so?”
“Nah. Markelhay's just being cautious, keep the merchants off the roads- don't want any more caravans disappearing.” [5]
Ignaran nods by way of reply- there are a lot of people about, and now he's had a chance to have a good look at them, the citizens of Fallcrest, they look tired, grim.
“They look...” Ignaran scans the crowd, the guard understands- smirks.
“Trapped- that's the down side, shut the gates and you've suddenly got a lot of people frightened about what's out there; leave them open and you run the risk of what's out there getting in, can't win.” The guard shrugs, and shoos more of the crowd out of the way.

The rest of the journey was fairly unspectacular, although it was obviously true what the guard said, tensions were running high in places, people squabbled over meat at the market, argued outside the pubs and taverns- the City of Fallcrest was at odds with itself.

Over the lea of the tiled roof Kullervo appears, one moment there's nothing, the next there's Kullervo [6]- Cathal grunts- clearly surprised.
“He's good at that.” Ignaran offers with a smile.
“Well, report?” Cathal barks- the sound of the rain on the roof is almost deafening. No one's going to hear them, they can barely hear themselves.

“The alley dog-legs left into a small courtyard, there's something down there- a statue... or a well, something. There are windows there, we could get in... Actually, I could get in.” Kullervo nods at Cathal's armour.
“Don't worry about me.” The warrior grunts, “go on.”
“Anyway, where it turns left there's a low flat roof, on the opposite side of the alley- we could go around, although it'd take a while, and it's slippy; or we could jump down and get up on the other side.”
“Just finish your report.” Cathal's patience is wearing thin.
“Three guards on the flat roof- a fat one, a thin one, and a big one [7]; the fat one and the thin one are discussing something, the big one isn't joining in... he looks a bit... you know, simple.”
“And in the alley itself- where's the door?” Ignaran, who up till now had been silent, enquires with a reassuring smile.
“'bout ten yards straight on from here, and down; the guards will see us though.” Kullervo finishes his report, rubs himself down trying to get his circulation going again, if they don't move soon they're going to be good for nothing.

[1] Impenetrable Dark, or “Off-Black”, street name “Business Hours”, scores 1 on the Dark Scale, recognising the Scales of Dark is a commonly taught skill, particularly in the Thieves’ Guilds and the better schools of Fallcrest. Dark-Dark, or “Black”, street name “Oof”, is to be avoided at all costs, even by our dagger-wielding brethren, that's when accidents really happen.

[2] Nimozaran's left slipper bears the legend “Best Dad”, only someone has added the word “Wiz” betwixt “Best” and “Dad”; it therefore now reads “Best WizDad.” The right slipper is shaped like a huge lion's paw- Nimozaran was heard to exclaim once- “no one can track me”, while the contrary is actually true. His robes are held together by clotted egg yolk, he's not big on solids.

[3] Although that may have been the fact that he used the albumen of lizard eggs as a detergent, although not often- which may also have been a factor.

[4] Winterhaven- we'll get there later, relax.

[5] Actually no caravans have to date “disappeared”, they have in fact spread out, increased in size, what with the tumble of belongings, and the scattered burnt and abused bodies of those that formerly travelled with the caravan.

[6] One of the many benefits of impenetrable dark, see [1].

[7] Union rules, Mercs Guild- three guards= one fat, one thin, one big and stupid; the Friday Knights were fortunate that the Beggar King could only afford three guards, a four person guard unit requires the addition of “one who knows what he is doing”, close call.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DC53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:01 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:57 am
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More! more!


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DC53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:11 am 
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Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
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Location: Grimbo
Count Fosco wrote:
More! more!


Blimey, okay then- a day or two ahead of schedule...



The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Part 4: A Dark Cloud gathers.

Cathal chews at his beard, Ignaran keeps quiet, a confrontation lies ahead it seems- something the Druid knows very little about, leave it to the experts he thinks. Wordlessly Kullervo, the neophyte Rogue, concurs.

Nimozaran's Tower, a bloody pigsty - scratch that - Ignaran had seen cleaner pigsties; arcane implements, for which read odd items of no value, or use, with hieroglyphics and/or stars and moons on them [1], mixed in with the rotting remains of meals, some of which may be fast approaching their birthdays [2].

Nimozaran however was in grand form-

“I have been calculating the movements of the heavenly bodies, making appraisals, my auguries require long hours of research- the Lord Markelhay depends upon me for sage advice [3]. I have no time for the mundane things, per ardva ad astra... as they say- through endeavour to the stars.”
“Head in the clouds more like.” Ignaran mutters and scans the room, in search of a chair, and failing that somewhere safe to perch, to no avail.
“Which is why I called you.”
“Go on.” Ignaran puts a hand out to lean against the wall, regrets it instantly. The chipped plaster is damp and warm, and greasy- he wipes away the traces on his robe.
“Your father spoke very highly of you, before he...” [4] Nimozaran waves a hand about, a vague gesture.
“Yes.” Ignaran agrees.
“Anyway, a natural phenomena, can't see it now”, Nimozaran indicates the spyglass set up at the towers open window, “but during the day, well...”
“What sort of phenomena?” Ignaran circumspectly makes his way to the window, it takes a while.
“A dark cloud, or some such, the stars are more my thing- heavenly bodies, have I already said that; anyway a dark cloud gathers- rather foreboding isn't it?” Nimozaran chuckles.
Ignaran shrugs back.
“Over an abandoned tower, down by the docks, Cutpurse Alley way- Beggar King's domain, not nice- a filthy place.” The last part of the sentence is spat out with as much disgust as the Mage can muster.
Ignaran looks around the tower again, “filthy”, he agrees.
“Yes, well- I want you to take a look. Reports you see.”
“Reports of what?” Ignaran asks.
But is deflected by Nimozaran's 'search me' look and multiple shrugs.
“All this way for...” Ignaran starts.
“Better to be safe than sorry... isn't that what your father used to say?” Nimozaran smiles, a patronising smile.

Ignaran shakes his head, bends to look through the spyglass- he's here now, he may as well take a look, they'll pay- not that money is important, he does however need some new blankets, and his coffee pot is looking battered, a few creature comforts wouldn't go amiss.

The Druid straightens up, fixes a crooked smile on his face and stares hard at Nimozaran, who stares back- expectantly, “Well?”
“You use this to study heavenly bodies?” Ignaran indicates the spyglass.
“Yes, yes. Well- will you do it?” Nimozaran asks impatiently.
“Yes. Of course. My pleasure.” Ignaran smirks back and is met by a nicotine stained grin- which a little later, when Ignaran replays the moment in his mind, makes him feel apprehensive.

The Druid bends down again to get one last look at the naked fat lady sploshing up and down in a much too small water butt, soaping herself, and obviously enjoying the experience [5]; he straightens again, winks at the High Septarch, and departs.

“Right. Listen up- you two make your way forward, stay hidden for a minute, then spring out, give them all you've got. While the enemy are engaged with you I shall cross to the other side, move forward at speed, and take them by surprise- they won’t know what hit them.” Cathal finishes and slams a fist into the palm of his hand, he begins to move away.
“Hang on. How are you...” Kullervo starts up.
“That's my concern. Just you do your bit.” Cathal settles it.
“Which is...?” Ignaran’s still not sure. [6]
“Throw something at them, whatever it is you do- get their attention, sing and dance for all I care. Just give me the chance to get around them!” Cathal barks and splutters.

And with that the warrior shoos the pair away, Ignaran and Kullervo share a worried look, then edge forward, hidden in the lea of the roof. Trying to find a safe and secure hiding place opposite the flat roof on which the three guards perch- one fat, one thin and one staring at the toe-nail of the moon- open mouthed, and in-between gawps, grinning.

[1] “Incantata & Implementia”, proprietor Alan Shuttlecock, Gnome Magikinator; made a small fortune selling Wizard-Kits, Alchemy-Kits, and various other Do-It-Yourself items, including the Home Diabolist Pack, and the “So you want to make a Pact with the Devil- Starter Kit.” Alas his shop “went on fire” three months back, all his stock was destroyed in the conflagration and the Gnome's body was never found. Rumours of Demonic rituals were hastily quashed by the Fallcrest City Guard- it was they said, “an insurance job”, although to date no one has made a claim.

[2] A few of the abandoned half-consumed meals are actually looking forward to their second birthdays- one, the remains of a Child's Portion of Fishy-Fingers and Ye Olde Chips, is only two months away from its third.

[3] The job of Court Magician is actually a sinecure, like Court Jester, only less well thought of. Nimozaran's only use, according to Count Fosco, one of Markelhay's flunkies, is as a convenient place to rest Nimorazan's hat. Truth be told it is a very good hat- although some of the stars and moons have started to peel off.

[4] Ah yes, I wonder what Ignaran's father did? I hope you do too.

[5] Mrs. Candice Fanakapan, 34; cook, glass-washer and general dogsbody at “The Market 'otel”, a low to no-class establishment where rooms are rented by the hour. She is, it seems, very fond of her nightly ablutions.

[6] Ignaran’s last major confrontation was with a swarm of Fire Ants three summers ago. They’d started renting out space in his lean-to accommodation, and were way behind with the rent- something had to give. Ignaran moved out two days later, it took two weeks for the ants to find him again- but those two weeks were bliss.


Last edited by goonalan on Fri May 01, 2009 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DC53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 9:34 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 15, 2004 6:02 am
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Goonalan,

:shock: What Fosco said.

(Aside: these sorts of posts just demonstrate that DMs & players always bring more to the table than any writer or designer.)

//H

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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DC53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 9:48 am 
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Harley Stroh wrote:
Goonalan,

:shock: What Fosco said.

(Aside: these sorts of posts just demonstrate that DMs & players always bring more to the table than any writer or designer.)

//H


Although without the writer or designer DMs & players wouldn't have have such excellent stages on which to enact their stories.

You sir, Mr. Harley Stroh, are "the man", official TM.

And so our story continues, we'll get through much of the backstory by chapter 10, I think. Thereafter there'll be a lot more in the way of rabid confrontation; and the further musings of the Friday Knights and their would-be assailants. Now read on...


The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Part 5: The Strength of Kord.

Ignaran was fed up at the Inn, it was a very nice Inn, the Blue Moon Alehouse, but it was just so full of people. Nimozaran had booked him a room, he'd slept little that night, eager to be about his business, and on edge still. The aged Wizard’s smile still haunted him, and it was noisy the city- and rude till the early hours of the morning. [1]

Eventually he'd got out of the Inn and taken a wander, although that hadn't gone too well either. An ugly man [2] had tried to sell him a 'hot dog', a comestible, some kind of sausage in a bread roll. The man was fairly insistent, and ugly with it, in the end Ignaran had bought two so as not to appear to be a tourist. He’d managed to eat less than half of one, burnt on the outside and raw on the inside- and it didn't taste at all of dog. It left him feeling queasy, a little like the city.

He'd made his way to the docks, which was an experience. He guessed that a good three-quarters of the language being put to good use there was expletives, the rest was anatomical in nature, and equally bewildering. He'd asked a total of six sober men how to get to Cutpurse Alley, their answers varied, favourite by far was a vague arm gesture to the right. One man asked him if he wanted to buy a cat, at least that's what Ignaran thought he'd asked, some cats perhaps. [3]

He found Cutpurse Alley, of course. In despair he’d looked up and in the distance spotted a tower, the upper floors of which were lost in a ripped black fog- 'that’d be the place' he thought, just after- 'stupid'. Look up, that's all he had to do. He made his way towards the tower, quickly and quietly- trying not to meet anyone’s eye. He had less than ten gold coins left; things were expensive when you had to pay for them. [4]

Ignaran got his first view of Cutpurse Alley, and the formidable gate that blocked the way - clearly someone didn't like unexpected visitors- perhaps they were shy. He'd cast around the alley for an hour or more, circled and back-tracked- explored. There were no other ways of approaching the tower; this was the only way in. The Druid mooched away from Cutpurse Alley, musing on the problem, he’d not got far however when something dawned on him. He looked back at the gate and grinned. There was no way in, save one perhaps, a more aerial route across the roofs.

“Ready?” Kullervo whispers.
“What?” Ignaran grips tight hold of the peaked roof, tiles beneath his feet skitter and slide.
“I said ready?” Kullervo tries again.
“Yes. I sup...”
But by then it's too late, Kullervo's legs a moment ago were jelly, the only thing keeping them from collapsing the certainty of his own voice. He pushes off, up and over, half-slides down the roof ahead and comes to a balanced halt, and then in one swift motion lets a dagger fly. Later he will remember not his poise, or agility, or even his accuracy- instead he will remember the sickening sound of the dagger hitting it's target.

A moment ago three guards marked time on the flat roof above Cutpurse Alley. Fat Alan has a pie, a beautiful pie [5], still warm. He bites into it, gravy explodes and runs down his chin, the roof of his mouth is on fire, hot lumps of meat and potato mashed into it. He chomps and wrestles with the meaty bolus trying desperately to swallow.

Squinty, the smaller guard, continues to stare out into the dark, his one good eye working like some demented lighthouse, in truth he can see maybe ten paces in daylight. Squinty overcompensates by hiding pins and coins, and the like in locales he frequents, and thus he appears eagle-eyed to those that accompany him to these set-ups. “Ah. A copper coin”, he would exclaim and bend to retrieve the previously planted coin- while his companions marvel at his keen eyesight. In truth he found one-in-twenty of the items he hid- it was a costly business being eagle-eyed.

The third guard, Kronk, is a mystery even unto himself. A round faced moon child with more than a little Orc in his blood, and, it had to be said, in his wide chin, pointed ears, pig-like snout, and hard ridged forehead. The aforementioned physical characteristics had almost been the death of him on numerous occasions- people didn't like Orcs. He was saved, again and again, by the fact that he weighed just the wrong side of two-hundred and fifty pounds, the most of which was corded muscle.

The guards went about their business- Fat Alan ate, Squinty squinted, and Krunk fired a golden arc of urine into the alley below- giggling slightly, all was well with their world.

Kullervo's knife arcs out, and spins, and spins, and sp... Thunk. And digs deep into Fat Alan's back, Alan falls- backwards, his pie tumbles skyward, his last motions a flailing attempt to grasp the spinning pastry.

“Noooooooooooo.”
THUMP.
Alan lands hard, in combination with badly.
Gravity helps the pie, which leads to a second, but much briefer-
“Nooahhh...”
Fat Alan lies still.

Ignaran hasn't moved, the Druid is paralysed- watching, he looks hard right.

“Give me Strength... Kord.” The last word a hushed whisper, the first three at maximum volume. Cathal sprints down the roof and launches himself into the air, crashes down on the far side of the alley, one foot smashes through tiles, dangles in space for a second, and then is ripped out and kicked forward- the pace is terrifying. In places the roof sags and trembles, the sound of unseen beams snapping and cracking; tiles are smashed, sundered or else sent slithering down into the alley below, like very hard rain. Cathal charges, and is at, and slightly above, the flat roof in seconds.

Kronk turns to stare, fumbles for his blade, but is far too slow, the warrior smashes an iron boot into the guard’s face breaking jaw, nose, eye socket- most everything. Cathal, blade before him, drops in and skewers the Half Orc, the tip of his longsword jutting a good ten inches through Krunk's back. The guard attempts desperately to push himself away from Cathal, to get free of the warrior's sword, one mailed arm shoots out and slams into his back, pushing the blade in deeper.

“You’re a big man, but you’re out of shape. For me it’s a full-time job. Now behave yourself... and die.” Cathal growls in a conspiratorial whisper.

Krunk gasps as Cathal withdraws the blade in a flurry of motion and, for good measure, butts the dying guard in the face- things burst and Krunk is dead before he hits the floor.

Cathal looks about, eventually spots Squinty, the little man, he's two roofs away, and moving at speed, his blade, and watch duty, abandoned.

“Secure.” Cathal confirms with a shout and a wave.

On the far roof Kullervo grins then suddenly feels very sick.

“You can get up now.” he calls back to Ignaran and swallows hard, the Druid gingerly emerges, all three adventurers wander to the edge of their respective roofs to inspect the damage below.

[1] The Brownbottle (see previous chapters) never sleeps, that is until about 4 AM when she slumps down in an alley and enters a state of meditation not too dissimilar to a coma- another hard night fighting crime over.

[2] Big Frank or Frankie, short for Frankenfurter; his marketing ethos is meat with menaces, aggressive marketing for Frankie means ramming a steaming sausage-in-a-bun in a potential customer's face, and then pointedly going for his dagger. It helps that Big Frank has so much scar tissue that his face looks like a poorly constructed jigsaw, one ear is a good three inches lower than the other, and faces in the opposite direction. Visitors to the city often mistake him for some kind of Golem.

[3] The man in question was a pimp, work the rest out yourself.

[4] A Druid needs feeding, and what nature doesn't supply the good folk of the nearest village or settlement make up for. Living off the land sounds very hunter-gatherer, but smarter Druids camp out near to humanoid settlements, especially ones with cake shops.

[5] A Mrs. Miggins “Crusty Special”, as the sign outside of Mrs. Miggins shop states “If you like biggins... try Miggin’s.” Bloody marketing men- the pies remain excellent however. Their best selling “Meat & Something” pies are the staple diet of the masses, most especially the drunken masses.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 10:53 am 
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The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Part 6: Adventurers.

“Pie.” Fat Alan whispers, and wipes meat and potato mush from his face. He's not dead, which comes as a shock to everyone- Fat Alan included.

The last remaining guard gets to his feet- still woozy; looks left, then right, then behind him, rubs the back of his head and frowns- then looks up, “sh*t”, he scarpers.
“Get him.” Cathal orders, and yet is the only one daft enough to leap the fifteen or so feet down from the roof.
“sh*t.” Kullervo echoes Fat Alan's sentiment, his legs buckle- terrified he decides against the rapid descent, particularly after watching Cathal make such a mess of it. The warrior is picking himself up however, although grimacing, clearly in a great deal of pain.

Fat Alan meanwhile has not been idle, he kicks at the door in the alley, once, twice then he's in. A wedge of light streams out, the sound of Fat Alan's voice carries, “under attack” and something about “my bloody pie”, are clearly heard.

And into Cutpurse Alley strides Fernando Del Amitri [1], a swarthy middle-aged man in tight leathers with a network of scars on his face, like fretwork. A wanted man, a cut-throat, ex-pirate- no buckle left unswashed, a villain, a... nasty piece of work. Fernando draws his rapier- Marlene [2], he names all of his blades, sashays forward slicing the air, finally reaches the newly arisen, and very hurt, Cathal. Fernando salutes the warrior with his rapier, then like a cat, crouches- ready to pounce.

“I am Fernando Del Amitri, I killed my father, now prepare to die...” [3] Which as introductions go is not a bad one. Kullervo makes a mental note to get himself an intro, or at least steal that one. Fernando launches his first attack, an attack he calls his 'mystery blade', he prances forward blade before him; Fernando is a swordsman you see.

Ignaran's mind clears, he mutters words, more like guttural sounds, and suddenly a wolf appears in the alley, just to the left of Fernando, his immediate left. It has to be said that while Fernando notices the wolf he remains remarkably calm, right up until the point the salivating canid sinks its teeth into the fleshy part of his calf, a little later we will hear the sound of his left fibula breaking.

Crack.

There, that's it.

Fernando suddenly goes pale, however the colour returns to his cheeks a moment later when Cathal's longsword connects with his right shoulder, hacking into bone and sawing through sinew, blood jets and gushes, the air takes on a reddish tinge.

“I am...” is all Fernando manages as, with a dull thud, Kullervo's dagger thumps into the swordsman's chest. He sinks to his knees, then whispers “I killed my father...”, and pitches forward- very deceased.
“Good work”, Cathal grumbles, catches his breath and tries not to put too much weight on his left leg, “now stop buggering about and get down here the pair of you.”

Ignaran snakes an arm out, grasps Kullervo, “you alright?”. The pair continue to peer down into the alley, the shattered body of Fernando Del Amitri, then over to the opposite roof, and the likewise broken body of Krunk. Kullervo gulps, throat now very dry, and nods- Ignaran offers the young man a flask of water and then leads him away from the edge.

Ignaran had found the unconscious Kullervo yesterday evening. He'd quickly grown tired, scratch that- irritated, by the bustling streets of the city, and the dock quarter in particular. He'd wandered- away from the crowds, and a little while later found himself in the ruins of Fallcrest. The remains of the Blood War, the coming of the Red Hand, a century ago a rampaging force had swept through the Nentir Vale, not seeking to settle, or usurp; seeking only to destroy. Ignaran knew his history- Fallcrest had fallen then, although much of it had been rebuilt. There still stood, or rather didn't stand, areas of ruin- shadows of darker times.

Later Kullervo had asked the Druid how he had found him, lost, as he was, in the ruins. Ignaran spoke of instinct, and the way of nature, how all life is holy, and about the abstract order of the universe being a force for good, a force for survival. He spoke of his dedication and training, his ability to read nature's signs [4]. Kullervo, of course, was suitably impressed.

And so Ignaran carried Kullervo back to the Blue Moon Alehouse, he recognised the young villager, and suspected he knew how he had got into the city, and his reasons for being here. He also knew how to fix Kullervo's particular ailment- drink, good food, a few carefully chosen herbs and a warm fire- and more sleep.

He watched over the young man for the rest of the evening and late into the night, the bar had filled, then emptied, filled again, and then emptied again- it was like watching the tides.

Nobody bothered the pair by the fire, nobody except...
“Mind?” Cathal barks. [5]
It was a question, Ignaran could tell by the question mark, he shrugs and Cathal plonks himself down in the chair next to Kullervo.
The interloper is a big man in his early thirties with a moustache that would leave him tasting his breakfast for much of the day. He seemed on edge, unable to relax.
Time passes, slowly - measured mostly by the exchange of side-long glances.
“Pissed?” Cathal finally asks, and nods at Kullervo.
“No. He'll be as right as rain in a little while.”
“Mmm.” Cathal doubts.
Silence settles over the trio again.
“Work?” Cathal eventually asks, and smooths his moustache.
“What sort of work?” Ignaran replies, a little put out.
“'venturing.” Cathal nods and raises a now steaming iron-clad boot to hover over the flames of the fire.
Kullervo awakes in an instant.
“Adventuring?” His eyes glisten in the firelight.
“Yes.” Cathal confirms, and nods for good measure.
“What's the job?” Kullervo is as quick as a flash.
“Whatever it is we're not...” Ignaran starts up.
“Cutpurse Alley- going to relieve the Beggar King of something very valuable to him.” Cathal gets the hang of things, an actual sentence.
“Cutpurse Alley...” Ignaran starts, but is duly ignored.
“Valuable?” It's Kullervo's turn for the one word questions.
“Hundred gold for each man.” Cathal knows he's winning.
“One hundred...” Kullervo's eyes are like saucers.
“Did you say Cutpurse Alley, the one with the gate?” Ignaran asks.
Cathal nods curtly.
“What gate?” Kullervo adds, but is ignored- it's his turn.
“Count me in.” Ignaran proffers his hand.
“Me too.” Kullervo agrees, and grins from ear to ear.
Ignaran is about to protest when, “Cathal.” Cathal declares and then pumps Kullervo's hand, “be here at midnight, and be ready”, and then he's up and lost in the crowd.
The Druid gawps and stammers, his mind trying to process new information.
“You're Ignaran, aren't you? I've heard tales about you - you're... a survivor, out there in the wilds. You must be pretty tough.” Kullervo grins, nods and offers his hand to Ignaran.
“It's Kullervo isn't it? I know your father.” Ignaran smiles, preens a little, and shakes the proffered hand.

The two settle down by the fire.

“Adventurers.” Kullervo states much later, and chuckles to himself.
“Hmm.” Ignaran murmurs, and suddenly looks less pleased.

[1] Fernando Del Amitri, a legend in his own mind; in truth he is an ageing and yet still handsome miscreant with the gift of the gab. The Del Amitri's are butchers by trade, specialising in blood sausage and the harder to find, and identify, cuts of meat. Fernando was barred from the family trade partly because of his dandyish behaviour, but mostly because he faints at the first sight of blood, and thus he ended up a swordsman; and in the employ of the Beggar King- who is not known for generous salaries.

[2] Fernando sleeps with Marlene, and sometimes his rapier too.

[3] Alan Del Amitri, Fernando's father, is very much alive, and still wielding the cleaver; although he hasn't been in the family butcher's shop for over a decade. Nobody, alas, has come by enough courage to tell him to put the blade down yet.

[4] He'd heard him snoring.

[5] Cathal employs two modes of communication, barking and grumbling, both best suited to the parade ground- he appears most times to be talking, or rather shouting, at someone on the next table over.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 4:55 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:57 am
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Great stuff Goon. I am really enjoying these.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 8:50 am 
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Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
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Location: Grimbo
Count Fosco wrote:
Great stuff Goon. I am really enjoying these.


Glad to hear it, here comes more of the same-

The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Part 7: The Goose.

Cathal strides out of the Blue Moon Alehouse and back into the night, but only for a short perambulation. Actually what he does is exit the front door of the Inn, complete a half-circuit of the place, and then head back in through the back door, to a less crowded bar. The latter circuitous route is employed in order to confuse anyone observing his movements- his paranoia is ingrained. Situated in the midst of the smaller bar Cathal searches- looks left, then right, then left again. Eventually he notices the very small hunchbacked man, beneath his line of sight, tugging at his mail.

It's 'The Goose', his employer [1]. The Goose, it is said, hit every branch of the ugly tree on the way down.
“Is it done?” The small man slurs, not through alcohol but for effect, he's aiming for a mystery wrapped in an enigma but hitting annoying far too often. He balloons his cape, which is far too big for him, and disappears momentarily beneath its bulk. Cathal waits, eventually the Goose surfaces.
Cathal nods.
“Good.” He slurs and clasps his hands together and rubs, “mwah...”, head back he goes to laugh.
“Shut up” Cathal offers, and lets his hand rest on the hilt of his blade.
“Right.” The Goose nods and takes a sip of his Pina Collider [2], the umbrella almost takes his eye out.
“Right.” Cathal confirms and wishes himself elsewhere, seconds later he grants his own wish and stalks off.

He gets about ten paces heading for the exit.

“And don't forget to bring the Beggar King's [3] head back”. The Goose shouts over the noise of the now silent, and staring, bar.
“Oopsie.” The Goose turns swiftly away swirling his cloak about him, he disappears into its voluminous folds, well... not quite, but leaves all eyes on Cathal.
“Kord, give me strength.” The Warrior mutters and grumbles, then quick-smart dashes for the exit.

“This way.” Kullervo motions towards the dog-leg left, “I saw something down here.”

Kullervo edges forward past the sprawled body of the swordsman, Del Amitri; around the corner the alley opens out into a small courtyard, just as he had said- the young Rogue looks behind him, Cathal tugs at his beard and then nods for him to go on.

Kullervo creeps forward; the rain is becoming torrential, he wades through filthy water, almost over his boots. A low mist roils and coils- it appears to snake and curl from the odd-shaped object ahead, he proceeds with caution.

There are windows here, on the floor above, the shimmer of light, clearly the place is inhabited. He waits a moment, silent- focussing on the sounds of the night, only the rain- no other noise.

He creeps forward some more- the alley ends in a fountain/statue affair, all angles- hard to make out what it actually is. The entire structure is covered in rot and a thick black tar like substance- clearly it has been here some time, and has suffered over the years. Kullervo turns around, indicates to the others that it is safe to approach.

From around the corner Cathal and Ignaran wade forward into the tiny courtyard, the mist clings to their legs and lower bodies.

Ignaran gets half-way and then suddenly stops, the mist is red, or else it has a red tinge to it. He holds out his left hand, swirls it through a thick patch of the fog, brings his hand up to his face to see a greasy red liquid; it looks like blood.

“Careful” the Druid whispers, and moves forward to join his compatriots before the strange statue cum fountain.

The stone basin of the fountain is full to overflowing with filthy water. Towering over the basin is some sort of statue, clearly a thick-set creature, winged perhaps, although…

Cathal moves forward, digs the end of his longsword into the thick black mould-like growth and levers a chunk free - beneath is an intricately shaped and sculpted reddish stone. He prises some more of the filth away, then suddenly realises what it is, or rather who it is, that slumbers beneath the slime.

“Kord save us, that’s…”

CRASH

The Friday Knights spin round, the sound came from behind them, back down the alley. Kullervo gulps- audibly.


[1] The Goose is an information Broker, a Go-Between, a Middle-Man, Mr. 10%- actually it's more likely to be Mr. 50% but don't tell Cathal. His motto, which he whispers to himself on occasion, is “half the reward and none of the risk.” The Goose, it has to be said, gets things done. For instance, if the Shadowmen (the largest Thieves Guild in Fallcrest) wanted the Beggar King permanently taking out of the picture. Then rather than attempt such a task themselves, or even employ a third party directly - and this is only an example mind - they would instead simply employ The Goose to expedite such a trivial matter. The Goose would, of course, have to find a gullible group of wannabe heroes and convince them to complete this incredibly dangerous task for half the original reward, or less. Obviously the above is just an example of the kind of thing the Goose gets up to, a-ha-ha... hm, as I say, just an example - honest.

[2] Pina Collider, a Dwarven Alcopop, made from the flesh, juice, pith - and maybe a little of the rind, of a perfectly ripe pineapple - smushed up with ice, to which is added a heaped spoonful of 'Mama Molasses Sweet Sucre', a twist of lime and a good glug of 'Old Daktari Imported Rum'. Add umbrella and serve. What could be more luscious, more mellow and more fragrant? It's like being kicked in the head by a big man wearing huge fluffy slippers.

[3] The Beggar King, an anonymous and foul smelling individual to whom all beggars, and associated non-tradespeople - the lame, the blind, the cursed and the confounded pay tribute. The Beggar King, it is said, hears every whisper in the city - which may account for the extra guards present at his fortified abode when the Friday Knights come calling - more of this later.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2009 4:56 am 
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The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Part 8: Astaroth.

The gate?

CRASH

The sound comes again.

It is the gate. It sounds as if some huge monstrosity has just ripped the thing off its hinges, which as it happens, is a fairly accurate description of events. Cathal takes charge - “spread out, into the shadows, ready yourselves.” Ignaran and Kullervo do as they’re told; the Rogue disappears into the impenetrable dark, with added mist for improved hiding. The Druid presses himself against a wet and dirty wall - half-closes his eyes and wishes himself invisible. Cathal draws his sword and heads for the shadow also.

They wait.

Cathal's mind wanders for a second, he's back at home, 112 Dyvers Row; Fallcrest. Fourteen years old, and stood to attention. His father is elsewhere, stalking the half-empty rooms of their broken home. There's a candle burning on top of both of the coffins, mourners crowd around - not speaking, holding their breath - waiting for his father's return, to finish the prayer and say goodbye to his wife, and the son that he adored. Cathal stands as still as a statue, hands pressed so tightly together that they shiver and shake... finally plodding footsteps - his father approaches.

Splashing - footsteps down the alley into the courtyard, and to a halt; a shadowy figure, a monstrous shadowy figure silhouetted briefly, coal coloured skin, as big as a... big.

The creature comes on, towards the hiding places of the three neophyte adventurers, and then on- till it towers before the half-revealed statue.

The man, scratch that - man-mountain, shivers- then unlimbers his Greataxe, part of a sweeping circular motion.

THUNK.

And takes the statue’s head clean off. The stone head splashes into the basin causing a mini tidal wave of foetid stinking water.

“Huh-huh.” Astaroth rumbles, with a voice as deep as the ocean.
Snick.
“Don’t move.” Cathal steps out of the shadows, his longsword before him.
Astaroth turns around, Cathal's blade suddenly looks much too small, not up to the job.
“I said…” Cathal tries.
Astaroth; six feet six, three hundred plus pounds of interlocking plates of solid muscle, over which is strapped and tied, thick black armour. In his hands a greataxe slightly taller than he is, the double-headed blade almost as broad. A giant black man with a swathe of black hair, seemingly cut and styled by a blind woman with a grudge; he looks bored and shrugs a ‘so what’, and leans on his axe [1].

Ignaran steps out of the shadow, the big man looks suitably surprised, although the Friday Knights will later learn that Astaroth is more in need of spectacles than a decent hair cut.
“Who are you?” Ignaran asks, and finds his voice has deepened [2].
“Astaroth.” The big man replies, which tells them nothing.
“Why are you here?” Cathal cuts to the chase.
“Kill bad men, rescue Lady.” [3] Astaroth offers, and rests his greataxe over his shoulder.
The latter manoeuvre causes Ignaran and Cathal to momentarily scatter, or at least duck and dodge a little.
“Which bad men?” Ignaran asks.
“What Lady?” Cathal tries.
“Bad men”, followed by a shrug in the general direction of the Beggar King’s abode. He then goes on, “Lady Constance [4]- real purty, great big money bags.” Astaroth mimes two hefty sacks, “Huh-huh”, he rumbles and grins.
“She in there?” Cathal points to the Beggar King’s den.
Astaroth nods heartily.

Cathal glances at Ignaran, then decides against asking the Druid's opinion. He strides forward - smiling; “then join us, for our duty lies within, we too have business with the Beggar King - join us, together we will rescue your good Lady and bring the Beggar King to justice once and for all.” The offer wavers between a statement and a question. Either way, when he’s done Cathal watches Astaroth’s face intently for any indication of his answer.

“Huh-huh, great big…” Astaroth mimes money bags again, and then nods and grins like a child offered ice cream.
“Good man.” Cathal chucks the huge warrior's arm, solid muscle, biceps as big as his head. “Cathal, Knight Warrior of Kord”, he offers his hand - which is duly crushed in the Astaroth's oversize paw.
“Ignaran”, Ignaran takes his turn, “owww.” He withdraws his hand from the giant's grasp and shakes the feeling back into his throbbing fingers.
“Kullervo”, from the shadows Kullervo whispers, which causes Astaroth to turn on the spot, his axe leaping into his hands. “Ugh”, Astaroth nods at the newly revealed Rogue, “sneaky”, he adds and chuckles a little.
“Door.” Astaroth proclaims, and goes to stride off down the alley.
Kullervo reaches out and grabs at him which, surprisingly, is enough to arrest his progress “what happened at the gate back there?”
“Gate gone. Gone good.” Astaroth shrugs the Druid off and stomps to the half-open door into the Beggar King's lair.

The three remaining Friday Knight share a look.
“It was...” Ignaran begins.
“And locked, and trapped- probably” Kullervo finishes.
Cathal looks after the man-mountain as he heads back the alley to the half-open door.
“I don’t like this” he states, and chews at his beard.


[1] For those familiar with the great works of Thrud the Barbarian, then be prepared, he's back, or at least his latest incarnation is.

[2] A common occurrence - all males, and some females, conversing with Astaroth drop an octave or two, and more often than not find themselves attempting to appear much larger, and especially broader, than they actually are. It's a defence mechanism, the effect is often foiled by the person's body language, and/or facial expressions, which are usually screaming something along the lines of- 'don't eat me- please, I'm chewy... and I don't taste nice.' By-and-large those facing Astaroth spend much of their time concentrating on their legs, which are frantically sending messages to the brain that they want to be elsewhere, and in a hurry.

[3] A typical Astaroth reply, short and punchy.

[4] Lady Anaconda Forsooth Constance, all the Constance girls are named after serpents, Lord Constance, their father, a devout Pelorian believed all women to be the servants of the Dark One and responsible for the fall of man. His death was mourned by few, including his family, in life he was a lying, deceiving, in-bred misogynist; in death he serves as a rather intriguing hat-stand in the Constance residence. Lady Anaconda, the oldest of the girls, is heir to the family fortune.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 4:42 am 
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The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Part 9: The Bazaar of the Bizarre.

“He looks trustworthy enough, not… you know… bright.” Ignaran adds while making sure Astaroth is out of earshot.
“No, that.” Cathal turns and points to the now decapitated statue, beneath the filth and dirt. Sculpted from blood red stone, wings outstretched, the headless demon waits.
“Who is, I mean, was it?” Kullervo asks.
“Orcus, Demon Lord of Undeath.” Cathal firmly states and heads down the alley after Astaroth without a backwards glance.

Leaving the young Rogue alone with Ignaran, the pair stare at the statue of Orcus- a gigantic cloven-hoofed Demon Lord with the head of a Ram, cruel taloned furred wings spread wide and a huge skull topped rod in his hand.

“What's that all about?” Kullervo asks and motions towards the statue.
“Not good.” Ignaran states and turns to leave.
“I thought we were after something valuable- not killing the guy, the Beggar King I mean?” Kullervo asks, his voice strained- slightly desperate, perhaps even afraid.
Which stops Ignaran in his tracks, the Druid doesn't turn around, merely shrugs his shoulders- “I don't know”, he whispers, “I don't know what we're here for anymore.”

The Druid heads after Cathal, leaving Kullervo alone, the red mist spirals and shapes in the air, a trick of the light perhaps. A single strand of the bloody fog reaches out, dances before the Rogue, Kullervo grins, until the hazy tentacle suddenly jerks upwards, like a snake ready to strike.

“Ignaran… Ignaran, wait for me.” Kullervo heads back down the alley at speed, sploshing as he half-runs through the waterlogged courtyard. He looks back but the statue is gone from sight, lost within the coiling mist, but it's still there, he can feel it, it's gaze.

Back in the alley Cathal pushes past Astaroth and toes the door open, and into a shop, of sorts.
“The Bazaar of the Bizarre”, he adds by way of explanation.
“The what?” Ignaran questions.
“It's a shop, all the sh... ahem detritus of life ends up here. It's a Beggar's Shop, a shop... for Beggars.”
“I got that the first time.” Ignaran adds and then wishes he hadn't, Cathal's gaze is withering.
“How do you...” Kullervo starts.
“Born here”, Cathal finishes, “now shut up”, he adds for good measure.

The shadowy chamber ahead is packed to the rafters with junk, the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life. Broken barrels are stacked in the centre of the floor, tatty and half-collapsed boxes and crates line the walls. Strings of silverware, all tarnished- most worn to dull edges, criss-cross the room, like faded streamers. Bundles of cloth; clothes, rags and scraps. Coils of rope, and rusty chain. Stacks of ancient, and rotten looking, spears and staves; broken swords and blades dot the chamber.

On the far side of the cluttered store, to the left, is a curtained opening, unlit beyond; to the right a clearing before a low counter, a lit hallway on the other side.

“Yerv, ad yer fun, nah sling yer 'ook.” Fat Alan, the ex-pie wielding sentry, totters into view, the obese guard swigs from a bottle of “Smashed Eric” [1], thumps it down on the counter and swats his short sword about haphazardly- clearly full to the brim of alcohol-fuelled menace.

Cathal and Astaroth take several steps into the Bazaar, the Warrior nods towards the curtained opening, the man-monster Astaroth covers the distance quickly, his greataxe at the ready.

“Perhaps we could reach some sort of accord, no need for violence?” Cathal approaches, sword still drawn, but trying his very best to look as peaceable as he can.

“I dunno abowt dat.” Fat Alan slurs, then looks behind him for reassurance, clearly he wasn't aware he was going to have a speaking part in the production.
“Get 'em. Get the bastards.” A voice urges and whines- there's someone in the hallway on the other side of the counter, out of sight at the moment.

Astaroth pulls the curtain aside, peers into the gloom. The dirt floor of the small slum chamber ends at the lip of a stinking black pit full of liquid rot and filth, scraps of half-eaten food and worse scattered about the rim. It stinks.

Astaroth nods at Cathal, who gets the message.

“I think what we need...” Cathal begins, covering the last few yards to Fat Alan, all smiles and goodwill; and then as quick as a flash delivers a southpaw hay-maker to the side of Fat Alan's head. The fat guard slams his hip into the counter and concertinas to the floor.

“Ooo ya fu...”

But Cathal is far from done, his longsword lances out and down- hard and fast, piercing Fat Alan's flimsy and ragged leather jerkin. Stabbing straight through his chest and out the other side. In the process puncturing, slicing and skewering all manner of important organs and vessels.

Fat Alan gurgles a little, and lies still forever.

“Shop.” Cathal approaches and bangs the pommel of his sword on the counter, beyond is a short hallway leading to a flight of stairs, at the top of which is another curtained exit; to the right of the stairs an open doorway, around which a hooded snivelling little man peers, a dark twisted dagger before him.

Cathal smiles at the runt of a thief, while behind him Ignaran and Kullervo move up into the Bazaar.

The man, Arthuro the Fence [2], looks terrified, and then some thing, some... thought wings its way into his addled brain, he smiles back at Cathal revealing his four good teeth and his many not-so-good gnashers. Then at the top of his lungs he yells, “TIMMY!”

The response is instantaneous. Back in the curtained alcove, at which Astaroth still stands, the pit suddenly explodes liquid filth, literally a shower of sh*t, and from the dark recesses of the dank gloom emerges a many-tentacled horror...

Timmy.


[1] 'Smashed Eric', the scumbag's guzzle. Smashed Eric is a potato-based spirit that with time will send a drinker blind and mad. It's named after... well, Smashed Eric, a wild tramp with the fortitude of an ox, who swears by the stuff. Bottle fed on the foul brew from the age of seven; Smashed Eric is to be found staggering at odd times around the wharves of Fallcrest, for every ten bottles he sells he gets one free. On a good day he sells ten bottles, on a bad day- twenty.

[2] Arthuro Ignatius Riptorn the 3rd; the third of his generation to occupy the position of shopkeeper at the Bazaar of the Bizarre. A weasely man whose clothes and soul are stained by a patina of filth. In truth Arthuro had no intention of following his old man into the family business, he had his heart set on becoming a barber, or perhaps a hair stylist. Alas fate, and his father, had other ideas. This travesty set back the barbering business by twenty years, for in Arthuro's possession is an invention that would revolutionise the hair care industry in an instant. A simple device, like a pair of very blunt and flat-bladed scissors, the ends of which are designed to be heated in order to tame unkempt and uncultivated locks. He calls his invention the “Arthuro Ignatius Riptorn Straighteners” which, if fate had played its hand differently, would have been shortened, by the marketing men, to “AIR straighteners”, and thus an entire industry silently suffers- such is fickle fate’s whim.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 4:58 pm 
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Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
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Location: Grimbo
The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Part 10: TIMMY!

Timmy rises from the deep, a six foot diameter ball of undulating rubbery flesh, wrapped in a hardened skin of crusted sh*t and stink. Two slithering clawed and hooked tentacles either side of a shorter eye stalk that snakes into the air. In the centre of the furious ball a gaping maw full of seemingly randomly spaced jagged broken teeth.

Timmy gapes and slobbers, biting at the foetid air...

“Timm-ahh.” the Otyugh gasps, followed by a thunderous rasping farting sound, with prolonged squelches, bellows and gurgles for accompaniment.

The two tentacles lurch and flail forward, set to grasp an unmoving Astaroth who gawps.

“-”

Meanwhile Arthuro the Fence, the weasel-faced Rogue in the hallway, flips the dagger in his hand and lets it fly- a direct hit. The blade bites into a join in Cathal's armour, cuts deep and instantly produces a slick of blood from just below the Warrior’s right armpit. An instant later the dagger disappears, leaving behind a gaping wound, and reappears in Arthuro's open hand. The frustrated hairdresser grins- the effect spoiled slightly when one of his good teeth makes a break for freedom and falls out onto the floor.

“GAWRDS.” Arthuro grunts loudly, and holding his now bloody mouth backs through the doorway and out of sight.

At the top of the stairs the hessian sack curtain is roughly pulled aside and a pair of leather armoured squinting idiots hot-foot it at a rush- a headlong charge down the stairs to reach Cathal. The pair of in-bred attackers are Dog Brothers [1], that is members of the Dog Brother gang. Their armour adorned with the ripped and sliced hides of a myriad mangy hounds that have met their maker at the pair’s hands, and blades. They're street fighters, cruel and indiscriminating- blood is their bounty, whose blood at the behest of the highest bidder.

The Friday Knights are for it, 'caught in a trap' like the song says [2].

Or so it seems...

The first to react is Kullervo who springs forward lightning fast onto the low counter, it bows a little but takes his weight. A dagger spins out of his hand and buries itself in the first Dog Brother- Snarl's fleshy thigh, he screams and clutches at the spot, and then in panic attempts foolishly to retreat back the way he came making yapping sounds.

Which doesn't work at all. The two Dog Brothers slam into each other- one full speed ahead, the other, Growl, in quick reverse, the pair stumble and tumble onto the stairs and end in a tangled mess.

Cathal sees his opportunity, strides over to the chaotic multi-limbed pile-up and slashes hard with his longsword, cleaving into one flailing arm and one flailing leg, screams all round from the bloody pile.

The Warrior grins.

Ignaran is also not idle, his wolf friend appears again, this time in the doorway through which Arthuro the Fence retreated. The ferocious canid growls, clearly it spots its prey. The Druid is quickly to its side.

“Sick 'em Wolfie.”

Ignaran points at the retreating Fence and grins. Wolfie scampers forward and is at full pelt by the time it smashes and tears into a terrified Arthuro. He's bitten badly, and mauled a little for good measure, he spills his dagger.

“Hewp me! IROWCAR...” Arthuro screams falsetto, like a pig-tailed six year old. Wolfie has found his grip, it's in the region of the Fence's groin.

Ignaran spies out the ill lit chamber ahead, some sort of office, complete with a creaking wooden desk overflowing with scrolls and rolls of parchment, spilled and solidified inkpots, and piles and scattered piles of copper coins. Another curtained doorway leads, it seems, into a darkened chamber beyond.

“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRKKKKK-fart.”

The fluctuating flatulent scream is almost enough to bring a halt to the proceedings.

Back in the smaller slum chamber Astaroth recovers his greataxe, rips it from the flabby folds of flensed flesh - a gaping gorge in Timmy's side - almost enough to sever the right tentacle at its root. Astaroth hoists his axe high again, and readies for another swing.

The flopping Otyugh can do nothing but aimlessly lash out with its one good tentacle, which Astaroth easily ducks. A chunk of mouldy plaster from the door frame splats to the mud-bath floor, and is sucked beneath the ooze.

“TIMM-EEE.” Astaroth parrots and rumbles, “funny...”

And buries his axe in the floundering aberration's brain.

Silence for a heart beat.

“Jim-AH. JIM. JimJimJim- JIM-AH?” The Otyugh tries, and with its good tentacle prods and feels the opening in its formerly air-tight brain cavity. A slick of grey goo gloops and pulses from the wound.

“Jiiiimm.”

Gurgle-gurgle-Blooop.

“-ah.”

Timmy finally whispers and sinks back down into the bubbling pit of filth, from whence he came.



[1] The Dog Brothers in action are “Growl” & “Snarl”, as with all of the members of the gang they have no fear of head injuries.

[2] 'Caught in a trap', a lyric from the popular tune 'Suspicious Finds' performed in most, if not all, of the less discerning watering holes in Fallcrest by the beat combo Fine Young Animals- formerly a very minor street gang. The song goes-

'I'm caught in a trap
I can't walk now
Because my leg is caught inside.

Why can't you see
What it's doin' to me?
Why didn't you find it, is what I'm sayin'?'

The Fine Young Animals gave up their lives of crime and wastrel ways when their leader was, well... caught in a trap, said leader survived just long enough to kill the gangs rogue, for not finding the trap. The remaining three members of the gang took to the stage.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:33 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:05 pm
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Location: Grimbo
The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Part 11: The Leader of the Pack.

The tables are turned, big-time, it seems.

Cathal's opponents, the Dog Brothers, mangy human scum- street fighters, wrestle with each other for a moment and then finally find their respective feet.

“Arrrghhh”, and, “Woof” they curse.

The pair head back up the stairs, one of them now dragging a bloodied almost useless leg as Cathal lands yet another slicing blow on the retreating form. The Dog Brothers burst through the curtain at the summit- screaming for all their worth.

“I-RO-CAR!”

“Who's Irocar?” Kullervo asks, and vaults down from the counter.
“Search me?” Ignaran adds and watches Wolfie play with his dinner a little.

“Help... Help me... I... I... surrender, I surrender... Get it bloody off me!” Arthuro screams and battles to save his manhood.

“Think he's had enough?” Kullervo nods towards the break-dancing Fence.
“S'pose.” Ignaran shrugs, and Wolfie disappears, leaving the would-be Rogue staring up at Kullervo, who has taken the liberty of picking up Arthuro's fallen dagger en route.

“Don't move a muscle, they call me Kullervo the... Killer. Rah!” Kullervo adds with menaces, he's going to have to work on his intro some more.
“Please, can I surrender now?” Arthuro offers, a yellow puddle spreads out from where the shaking Fence is squatting.

Kullervo turns and winks at Ignaran, the Druid smiles back.

Meanwhile Astaroth has made his way over to Cathal.

“Who Iron-Car?” Astaroth asks and points vaguely in the direction of the stairs.
Cathal shrugs, “let's find out.”

The Warrior takes the stairs three at a time, shouting as he goes, “Coming... Ready-or-not.”

Bursts through the ragged hessian curtain and sweeps his longsword hard right, and straight into another Dog Brother gang member, the canine accessorised bandit is sent spinning back, his surprise attack thwarted.

The upper chamber is a wreck, hazy smoke from cheap candles and even cheaper tobacco. On the floor the rank bedrolls of the gang, as well as a dozen or more littered bottles of 'Smashed Eric', 'Tinkers Skuzz' [1] and 'Drain-O' [2] - the gamut of quality rotgut, guaranteed to leave the consumer blind, dumb or dead.

Across the chamber a rickety wooden ladder leads into a darkened loft. There are three Dog Brothers in the room, all injured, one on his knees in the corner, a bloody mess- Snarl, the first down the stairs, retching and spewing up all that's left of his courage.

Of greater import is Irocar, it must be he, Cathal thinks.

Irocar is clearly the leader of the pack, his chainmail coif pokes through the wrenched open jaws of some much larger hound, over his armour a robe of stitched skins, all manner of Fallcrest's favourite canines.

“Rawf... Rawf!” Irocar barks, no really, he barks; then slavers and pants a while.

The Dog Brothers, at least the two still standing, redouble their guard and pull back so they're either side of the top dog.

“Rawf... Raaaaa... Awf!” Irocar barks some more and from behind his back, hidden by his doggie cape, produces four feet of serrated blade, a notched and much abused bastard sword. It doesn't look old or ill-kept, as much as too often employed.

“Rawwwwwwwawawwawwawawawawawaw!” Irocar howls and points his blade at Cathal, the Warrior of Kord considers himself called-out, challenged.

The three attackers surge forward, just at the moment that Astaroth levers himself through the doorway and into the chamber; the sound of Ignaran on the stairs can also be heard.

But it's not enough to put Irocar off his stride, a brutal overhead blow that smashes through Cathal's armour at the shoulder, leaves his shield arm limp and possibly broken.

“Koooooo-rd.” Cathal hisses and sucks in ragged gulps of air, his shield clangs onto the floor. He swishes his battered hand behind him and launches his attack, his blade flashing and slashing he cuts back. Irocar emerges from the clinch with a thick red welt across his face, which slowly unfurls a curtain of blood.

Astaroth is quickly into position, he smashes his greataxe into the pack-leader's left hand side, slicing away his dog skin cape, and more importantly splintering his thigh bone.

The Dog Brother's attacks are half hearted and off target, or else easily deflected.

Ignaran pokes his head into the chamber, assesses the situation, and weaves magic in the air – a burst of flame explodes harmlessly before Irocar. However it's enough to send all three miscreants shuffling back further- almost to the wall behind them. The two Dog Brothers look sick, drained of colour, clearly out of their depth and in search of a way out.

Irocar however-

“Rawwwwwwwawawawawawawawawaw!”

Is made of sterner stuff, he grits his teeth and blocks out the pain, a moment later a surge of adrenalin washes over him, he grins and grimaces and is back in the fight.

“RAWF! Grrrrrrrrrrrr...” He barks and growls, and against all odds, dances forward- feinting one way than the other, enough to confuse Astaroth who's left with a six inch gash on his right forearm, almost enough to cause him to relax his grip on his greataxe.

“Bug'r.” The man-mountain simply states.


[1] 'Tinker's Scuzz', a genteel mixture of fermented grain and distilled lamp oil, sweetened of course- connoisseurs usually burn off the excess gases produced by the heady brew before drinking. Failure to do so has lead to more than one case of spontaneous combustion. One of the more expensive brews on offer to the hard drinking down-and-out of Fallcrest.

[2] 'Drain-O', a mild alcohol based acid/bleach/detergent; used by the Dyers Guild and the Sewermen (to unblock drains of course), and others. The old adage goes, 'if the bottom's fallen out of your world, drink Drain-O - and watch the world fall out of your bottom.' The last resort of the career inebriant.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:50 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

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Location: Grimbo
The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Part 12: Meanwhile...

Meanwhile, back down the stairs Kullervo is having a cosy chat with Arthuro the Fence.

“What's with all this stuff?”

The young Rogue flicks the dagger through the piles of papers on the laden desk.

“Receipts... Takings... Coppers, that's it. Honest.”
“Hmmm... What's in there?”

Kullervo points to the curtained chamber beyond.

“My bed.”
“That it?”
“Yes... Can I go now?” Arthuro pleads.

Kullervo grins back at him, gulps and swallows a little- he's feeling slightly dizzy, ever aware of the situation he's in. In control- not something he's used to, having somebody pay attention to him- he's enjoying it.

“I shouldn't think so. What do you do here?”
“Run the shop, this-and-that...” Arthur replies, half-shrugs.
“Busy lately?”
“No, opposite really- they're all deserting him.”
“Who?”
“The Beggar King, now that the Shadowmen are after him- the Beggars are drifting away.”
“What else?”
“He's hiring mercenaries- like the Dog Brothers up there.”

The pair look to the ceiling, a lump of plaster thunks onto the floor, either someone is teaching a very large creature a fairly energetic dance, or else Astaroth is in full swing.

Arthuro gulps. Kullervo grins some more, figures the others would be calling for him if they were desperate. The Rogue looks around again.

“You got a sack?”

Arthuro nods towards a pile of junk in the corner, thirty seconds later everything of value has been swept into the bag, which is soon nestled in Kullervo's backpack. There must be over 200 coppers there Kullervo thinks- it took him four months to save three silver pieces, that's thirty coppers, to buy the leather riding boots he wears.

“In there.” Kullervo points to the ragged curtain, Arthuro crawls on all-fours into the bedroom, the young Rogue wipes his sweaty brow and then the palm of his hand, the one gripped too tight to his new dagger, and then follows after.

It's like the Fence said- a cramped bedroom, a crate for a bedside table with the stub of a candle on it- and the glint of coins. A window that looks out, just- through the smeared filth, onto the small misty courtyard. Nothing else, save for the thick ledger resting on the edge of the bed.

“What's that?” Kullervo asks.
“Nothing.” Arthuro replies, too quickly, and looks everywhere but at the book.
“Fetch.” Kullervo points again with his new dagger.

Gently, gingerly Arthuro slowly lifts the book off the bed, wipes his sweaty brow with his sleeve and passes the ledger over.

“That wasn't so difficult was it?”
“No.” Arthuro confirms, staring up at Kullervo.

On all fours still, Arthuro can see under the bed, his bed, to the mechanism there- the trap. He hasn't slept in the bed for a year now, doesn't dare- hair trigger.

Nestled beneath the bed are a dozen razor sharp spears- highly sprung, set to rip through the mattress and anyone lying or sitting upon it.

It's Arthuro's turn to grin, he quickly wipes the smile from his face and turns back to Kullervo, the young Thief is juggling the book and the dagger in his hands- it can't be done. He shoves the ledger under his arm and lurches over to the makeshift bed-side cabinet- grabs up the scattering of coins on top, then stops- looks over his shoulder at Arthuro who grins back non-plussed. Slowly he uncurls his fingers, he was right, the scattering of coins are mostly gold- he wants to scream. Kullervo makes a gulping sound, half-hiccup half-choked sneeze; his eyes glisten- gold coins. It takes a moment- Arthuro watches on, not sure what he's witnessing.

The young Rogue regains his sense, tucks the money in an inside pocket, then awkwardly manhandles the crate and drags it over to the end of the bed.

He toes the crate into place, thumps the ledger down upon it- the book flicks open to reveal columns of figures, strange symbols here and there- a code perhaps. ‘Interesting’, Kullervo thinks, and goes to take a seat on the end of the bed.

Arthuro crouches, like a sprinter in his blocks- ready to run for his life, any second now.

Three... Two...

Kullervo suddenly stands up- stares straight ahead. Shifts his head to the side, to afford a different perspective- stares hard at the wall ahead, something not quite... Ah.

“Open it.”

Arthuro turns to stare at the blank wall.

“What?”
“You heard me- open it.”
“There's nothing...”

Kullervo leans down to the Fence, swiftly places the blade of the dagger against the man's neck, their eyes meet.

Inside Kullervo is shaking, a small amount of pee escapes his bladder, his teeth clamped tight together- else they'd be chattering. The pair hold position- a fresco

The Fence gulps- once, twice- nods; then crawls over to the wall and thumps at a lower section.

Eeeeeeeeerrrr.

A six foot square panel of the wall creaks open, there's just enough light to see into the newly discovered darkened chamber.

Kullervo stares- absolutely spellbound.

“That's... Nice.” He eventually manages.
“It's not mine. Honest.” Arthuro replies, looking up at the giant young Rogue towering over him, then quickly to the bed behind, the trap- perhaps he could just push him...

In the chamber is a chest- but that doesn't cover it, doesn't do it justice at all- it's more like a cabinet. A well-made cabinet with nine drawers in it, each drawer has a lock, each draw has a chalked or charcoaled symbol upon it.

Kullervo looks down again at the ledger- some of the symbols match.

“Nice.” He whispers, again, and grins down at Arthuro, who still stares past him- at the bed.

“Do you wanna get out of here alive?”

Arthuro is paralysed- not seeing, not hearing.

“I said do you wanna get out of here alive?” Kullervo tries again.

Arthuro nods back- as hard as can.
“Then you'd better have some keys.”
The Fence stops nodding, suddenly looks ill.
“I...”

He grabs for Kullervo's legs set to push the Rogue back onto the bed- as hard as he can.

THUMP

But he doesn't, merely clings to Kullervo's legs.

The pair look to the ceiling- silence, the sounds of fighting above have stopped.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 12:14 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

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The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Part 13: Dog Gone.

Irocar comes again, slashing hard with his bastard sword, catching Cathal momentarily off guard. The blade clangs against the warrior of Kord's armour, saws down leaving a split metal furrow, but doesn't break the skin beneath.

The two still standing Dog Brothers take the attack to Astaroth who flailing wildly and inaccurately is forced to retreat. He thumps into Ignaran who almost tumbles back down the stairs, it's close quarters in here.

The big man heaves himself forward again, goes to swing with his great axe but instead brings the haft of the weapon quick down into Growl's temple. The Dog Brother's head is broken- split open, blood fountains and boils from the wound- he sags and slumps to his knees, almost spent.

Ignaran, recovers quickly, points at the half-fallen Growl- a jagged arc of lightning spits out and wraps itself momentarily around the street thug's head, sparks and salvoes of ragged blue energy fly from his skull. He giggles and groans as he convulses, then flops forward onto the dirty wooden floor, charred and smoking- dead.

“Pretty blue light.” Astaroth smirks.

That just leaves Irocar and two - scratch that - one Dog Brother. Snarl, his mouth a ragged hole, still spews and staggers in the far corner.

Slaver, the third Dog Brother recalculates the odds- he whines a little, but puts up his blade ready to defend.

“Surrender and we'll spare your lives.” Cathal states.
“Rawf!” Irocar replies and launches another attack- blades meet, sing and spark, no hits- Cathal and Irocar step apart.

“We'll give you a biscuit?” Ignaran offers, “a nice biscuit?”
“Kord spare us.” Cathal mutters under his breath.

Irocar comes again, Slaver at his side- but Cathal and Astaroth are ready- weapons clash, a titanic struggle, but no victor emerges from the clinch. A second spark of lightning suddenly scatters the combatants, and leaves a smoking hole in the brick wall beyond.

The four fighters spend a moment, gulp down ragged gasps of air.

“Surrender?” Cathal tries again.
“RaWF!” This time it's for real.

Irocar's launches himself forward, his bastard sword cuts into Cathal's chest, through his armour. He extends his arc and drags his blade across, cuts into Astaroth's bicep leaving a ragged tear. The man-mountain's axe is too slow- Slaver steps aside his guard, at the last moment Astaroth wrenches round the haft of his great axe- blocks Slaver's thrusting blade.

Cathal's slices out with his longsword, but his blow is cut off in its prime as Irocar moves forward into a clinch. The two tussle and dance, their heavy armour clashing and crashing.

At the rear Ignaran looks for an opportunity, raw power fizzes around his blue-lightning fist.

Irocar and Cathal's dance goes on, love taps here and there- the butt of Cathal's longsword breaks a rib, the tip of Irocar's bastard sword scores a red-line along Cathal's thigh. The pair are locked in a deathly embrace- eventually Cathal struggles free, back-peddling furiously, again Ignaran has to take evasive action, his flailing fist shoots a bolt of lightning into the timbered floor leaving yet another smoking hole.

Irocar is fast, and strong still; the hilt of his blade spins in his hands, it's pointing down- his arms extend fully, full arc, clasped together around the hilt tight of his sword- high above his head. He slices down, with all his might.

The bastard sword digs deep, Cathal's thigh is a bloody mess. Six inches of the blade protrudes through the other side- a pool of thick red blood quickly forms, the gasping warrior of Kord his face set in rictus spasm- he wails.

“Koooooooooord!”

But it's not over yet. Irocar draws the sword out, as slowly as he can- given the circumstances- accompanied by blood wet ragged gasps from Cathal, the saw edge blade widens the wound ripping through the flesh.

A moment.

A gaping hole in Cathal's thigh- he's done for, the blood pool on the dirty floor expands.

“Rawf” Irocar declares, grins and pants a little, motions with his head to the growing lake of blood and makes lip-smacking lapping sounds.

THUMP

Cathal falls hard to his knees, head bowed, as if in prayer.

Suddenly the room seems a lot less packed, there's space for...

WHUMP

Astaroth's greataxe describes a terrifyingly broad arc, mere inches from both walls- full extension- full force- it bites into Irocar's side- smashes ribs- sends splinters of bone like shrapnel into odd-shaped organs, the pack leader is sent spinning back.

THUMP

Into the ladder to the loft, all the air gone from him, mostly escaping though flapping cords of tendon, sinew and muscle exposed by Astaroth's axe- one lung deflates.

Irocar wheezes bloody gulps- the end of his tongue flops onto the floor- where he's bitten through it.

“Whof!” He feebly half-barks.

THUMP

Then collapses.

Cathal teeters on the brink of black, Ignaran is quickly to him, bandages and salves ripped from his pack. The last of the Dog Brothers, Slaver, momentarily ignored in the sudden flurry of activity.

Astaroth turns his attention to Slaver, I said momentarily.

“WOOF!” The man-mountain adds.

Thump.

Slaver spins his blade out of his hands, like it's suddenly much too hot for him to handle.

“Call it a draw?” Slaver offers and then, off Astaroth's stare, whines a little.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:14 pm 
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The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Part 14: Dog Daze.

Irocar is dragged roughly down the stairs, his wounds having been half-heartedly bound by Ignaran. Stripped of his armour and dog-pelt cape, he looks…. smaller, certainly less ferocious. Right now Astaroth's meaty paw clutches a thick wedge of his hair. Behind come Ignaran and Cathal, much better now, although he still winces at times- dragging the two other Dog Brothers left alive.

Behind the counter, back in the Bazaar of the Bizarre, the Friday Knights reconvene for a chat- Irocar is pushed into the midst of the Knights, who take it in turns to yap at his heels.

“Who are you then?” Cathal starts.
“We're the Dog Brothers.” Irocar mumbles, trailing off into silence, eyes on the floor, he whimpers a little - he can't help himself.
“Nice doggie.” Astaroth admires the houndskin cape, then gets a whiff of it and slings it onto the floor, stamps on the thing a couple of times for good measure.

“What are you doing here?” Cathal continues his quest for answers.
“Nuffink.” Irocar tries, while trying to summon enough saliva to whistle - his throat is desert-dry.
“Now come on... Play the game.” Cathal chides with a grin.
Irocar looks up, grins back a little, thinks he's found a friend - his head suddenly, and violently rocks back, his legs go from under him, he collapses. Maybe something to do with Astaroth's straight jab, the big man picks one of Irocar's teeth from his knuckle – it’s a canine.

“Pick him up.” Cathal states.
Behind the warrior Kullervo looks suddenly very sick- he turns quickly and mooches off back to the chest he found earlier, doesn't want to see any more.

Astaroth drags Irocar to his feet, he's woozy.

“What are you doing here?” Cathal repeats.
“Hired by the Beggar King, said he expected company... You lot.” Irocar whistles through the gap in his teeth.
“Friday Knights.” Cathal states.
“What?” Irocar staggers a little.
“We're the Friday Knights- tell your friends.”
“Yeah... Right.” Irocar manages.

“Who else did the Beggar King hire?” Cathal enquires.
“No-one, that is... No one I know of.”
Cathal takes a good hard stare at Irocar, eventually smirks.
“Wrong answer.” He nudges Astaroth, who's looking away at the moment, a fly having just buzzed him.
“Wot? Oh.” The straight right comes again, Irocar goes down again - mouth bloody, nose broken - concussed by the looks of things, maybe even a fractured skull.
Astaroth goes back to looking for the annoying fly, his tongue lolls out- clearly he's concentrating hard.

On the floor Irocar swims in a sea of haze.
“I want me mum.” He gurgles.

Cathal grins, then grabs the nearest Dog Brother- Slaver, as it happens.
“Who else got hired?” He simply states.
“Mother Zeb.”
“Who?”
“Fat Tiefling Witch - two guards, big fat nudie fellers.”
“Nudie?” Ignaran asks.
“They wear nappies.”
“He's making it up!” Ignaran sneers.
Astaroth turns back around, draws back his arm.
“No, he's telling the truth.” Cathal clamps his hand on Astaroth's forearm, disarms him.

“Yew-nooks” Slaver declare, “two of 'em, right big fatties.” He nods.
Cathal nods back.

“Okay, you can clear off now.” Cathal declares.
Slaver nods some more, goes to leave sharpish.
“Don't forget him.” Cathal toes the fallen Irocar, who momentarily surfaces.

“I want me Mum!” [1] he states, and giggles a little, pleased with himself.

Moments later the spent Dog Brothers depart, having first surrendered their choice belongings, which turn out to be quite choice, particularly for Cathal, a few coins- some gold, and a Bastard Sword that is clearly of superior quality - marked and notched maybe, but of fine make, beneath the filth and tarnish.

That done, the Knights head in to see the chest that Kullervo has been twittering on about - the one he can't open.

Cathal sighs, “do I have to do everything myself?” he asks - the empty room.


[1] Irocar's Mum, Gwladys Potterton is a cleaner at the Temple of Pelor, a slight woman with a marked limp - all that bending. She won’t be pleased when he gets home, she'd spent hours on his dog cape stitching it all together. Of course she didn't approve of the Dog Brothers Gang, but it seemed to give Irocar, her only son, a purpose in life; and with his father gone. Her only interest, other than her son, is collecting plaster-cast and/or sculpted stone dogs; all shapes and sizes, some even painted - she loves dogs.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:07 pm 
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Location: Grimbo
The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Part 15: Intricate and Complex

It certainly is a big chest - intricate, complex; Kullervo finishes his intro -

“It's... Intricate... Complex...” He shrugs.
“You can't open it, can you?” Cathal stares hard at Kullervo, and then down to the Fence on the floor, a little tied up at the moment. He shakes his head- vehemently; his gag prevents him from replying.

Cathal shakes his head back, nods at Astaroth, who grins and then reaches down.

A moment later Arthuro the Fence is being buffeted as if he were in a hurricane - Astaroth shakes him, hard.

“He doesn't know anything.” Kullervo tries, but it's too late.

Muffled screams for a while and then he's set down again, dizzy Arthuro collapses, his head just missing the frame of the bed.

“I'll try again. Just leave him.” Kullervo makes a stand and stalks back over to the great, and intricate, and complex, chest.

A crowd gathers - watches him, and he's back at the gate with their eyes burning holes in him.

The locking mechanism on the first drawer is delicate, and quite definitely trapped, if only he could... He piggles and proddles with his tools, jiggles and pokes and... Nothing.

“It's trapped,” he spins around and declares. Astaroth and Ignaran take a step to the side, out of harms way, Cathal stands still- confident. That is until Kullervo turns back to his task, at which point he swiftly wrenches Arthuro up from the floor and positions the Fence in front of him - a meat shield.

Time passes.

Inexorably.

Kullervo sweats, frets and generally fails to make headway.

“Complex.” He murmurs.

More time passes.

Ditto, inexorably.

Sweat drips down his forehead, follows the arch of his arm, into the barrel of the lock. Kullervo grits his teeth and finally...

SPUNG.

His lock pick flies from his hand, lies there on the floor, forlorn - the end bent.

“It can't be... Aghhhhh!”

SMASH

Lots of things happen at once, and so, in order.

Kullervo turns to face his audience, begins his resignation speech.

Astaroth swings his greataxe up high, and over his head.

Kullervo spots this, screams, and dives aside.

Astaroth's greataxe connects with the chest cum cabinet.

Smashes through the solid wooden frame, and rips on down, shattering the myriad compartments, dislodging locking mechanisms, scattering the drawers and contents and at the same time triggering every trap.

Thum...Pah.

A needle shoots out and embeds itself in Arthuro's forehead, the Fence suddenly adopts a vacant expression, staggers forward- out of Cathal's grip.

SNIK

A razor sharp scythe blade slashes out in a half-circle, severs the bonds that bind Arthuro's wrists, and leaves bloody cuts in its wake, nevertheless the Fence grins, his eyes dart and dodge- spot the door, the exit - freedom.

Arthuro makes his break.

THUP-WAKKA.

And is just in time to intercept the five foot spear that shoots out from the centre of the now decimated chest.

The spear smashes through Arthuro's thin leather armour and burrows its way into his chest, deflected only slightly by his sternum.

The spear is travelling at quite a speed.

It doesn't stop there.

Nor does the Fence.

Arthuro is flung backwards, off his feet and into the air.

THUNK

He thumps into the far wall.

“Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.”

And tumbles face first onto his bed, the one he hasn't slept on for over a year...

CRUNCH-RIP.

The spear is broken and ripped from his chest as he lands, which by the look on Arthuro's face, hurts a little.

All is silent.

Arthuro lies there, his whole body screaming in agony, although the poison in his brow, and now brain - numbing the experience.

More silence.

Eventually the Fence looks up, to the staring Friday Knights.

He's grinning, scratch that laughing- odd.

“It didn't...”

KERCHUNG!

Half-a-dozen short spears skewer Arthuro, making short work of the thin, now blood-soaked, mattress en route.

Arthuro gargles.

“... work.” He whispers, and then expires.

“I said it was trapped.” Kullervo confirms in a daze.

“Right then. What do we have here?” Cathal wades into the broken treasure chest, Astaroth follows suit - which just leaves Ignaran and Kullervo still staring.

“Pelor's light.” Kullervo whispers and crosses himself.
“Exactly.” Ignaran confirms.

Arthuro's body twitches, and spurts a little- before finally coming to rest.

“I'm not going near any more traps - ever.” Kullervo declares, definite.
“Then you'd better go home now- farmer's boy.” Cathal states, and adopts a half-grin half-frown.

Ignaran puts his arm around Kullervo, who continues to stare at Arthuro's broken corpse.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:48 am 
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Location: Grimbo
The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Part 16: Rats!

The chest is thoroughly ransacked, it offers up all manner of goodies- Cathal sports a new cloak- some sort of protective device Ignaran confirms. The Drow-made spider pendant which previously secured it is quickly discarded [1].

There are poison vials, marked with skull & crossbones, and full of darkly oozing gunk- Kullervo nervously looks over them; working up the courage to open one. [2]

Also a well-made dagger, which Ignaran confirms is magical also - and plenty of other spoils, money and things to sell.

Fully rested the Friday Knights stalk up the stairs to the Dog Brothers' ex-lair. Further searching there reveals a smattering of coin- not nearly as much as they had expected to find, less than five gold in total.

Cathal looks put out- little reward for his just efforts. “Search the place, thoroughly,” he spits.
“Sarge” Astaroth nods, betraying a sliver of his past.

The Knights do as they're told, filthy bedrolls are toed-over, Irocar's cot is smashed and heaved aside, the unlit brazier is tipped over- nothing, it gets frustrating rather quickly, until...

“Here it is.” Kullervo declares. Upstairs in Irocar's loft area is a sliding panel, and what do you know...

“Hang on, it's trapped.” Kullervo states, which is enough to send all of the Knights scampering back down the ladder and out of the loft.

Alone, Kullervo flexes his fingers, hands and wrists; draws out his tools and sets to work, and this time, for no special reason, it's easy. It takes him perhaps thirty seconds to find the two well concealed holes in the hidden door. Another thirty to discern the two short spears that are designed to fire out from the door- this place is a nightmare he thinks, and then chuckles a little to himself.

Thirty more seconds and the trap mechanism is located, a minute more, and... well- he checks again, “it's safe,” Kullervo calls out.

Back on the lower level Cathal stares at Ignaran, who stares back; eventually the pair shrug at each other. Astaroth meanwhile slowly, and with a grin, counts his fingers- he's got the same number twice in a row now, he chuckles a little at the thought of a third success.

Cathal starts up the ladder, stops a while, starts again- decides.

“Are you sure?”

The sound of footsteps, Kullervo heads over, till he's stood above the ladder, looking down on Cathal.

“Yes, I'm sure.” The young Rogue smiles and waves the warrior of Kord on.

Up top, the once-hidden door opens into a dark storeroom, Cathal draws his sword and heads on in. Ignaran chuckles and gently punches Kullervo on the arm and follows on. Astaroth is examining the back of his right hand with great care and attention- it seems he's a finger light- he mooches forward, concerned.

The chamber is a mess, Cathal stands on a narrow rickety balcony, about five feet from the actual floor, a short flight of decayed wooden steps lead down. The floor of the chamber is taken up by sacks, barrels, crates and the like... oh and rats, lots of rats.

The rats take note of the new arrivals, run hither and thither, every now and then stop to wobble up on to their hind legs to chitter and stare at Cathal and the other Knights with their flashing eyes.

“Rats.” Astaroth stops and points, like he's just found the Philosopher's Stone.

There's a door on the far side of the chamber, Cathal leads them over, or at least to the bottom of the stairs, the warrior of Kord hesitates.

In his mind he remembers seeing them, the rats... next to the bodies- he's lying to himself; Cathal shakes his head, tries to clear the thought.

On the bodies, they were on the bodies- eating...

Cathal leans hard against the ancient wooden railings; his knuckles pale as he grips tight.

The rats were on the bodies, eating them- his mother, his brother; the rats were... He remembers getting closer, edging forward, past his father- gripped tight in a ball on the road, clenched inside- outside, the sound of his screams. Creeping closer, closer- his feet on the cobbles, a fragment of her shirt, her hair- tears now, a tuft of her hair- MOTHER. He wants to scream, but he doesn't, only edges closer, closer...

He can touch her, reach down and... but for the rats- eating her.

Suddenly she turns to face him- her eyes are gone, gone, black holes; her face is... there's no word, no phrase- her face... eaten; and then she speaks, says his name.

“... Cathal?” Ignaran's voice comes again.
“What?” Cathal snaps back.
“Nothing I...”
“Well come on then.” Cathal snaps again and sets off for the door.

That's when the rats attack, but he knew that was going to happen- they come for the dead.

It's a slaughter.

Cathal attacks with a fury, Ignaran conjures fire and lightning, Kullervo settles for a ring side seat and hurling his dagger, which as soon as it strikes disappears and swiftly reappears in his hand. Astaroth is the least adept, his greataxe a poor choice of weapon for this close work.

The rats flee, or what few are left.

Twenty seconds, that's all it takes. The fracas leaves Cathal fuming.

“That was easy.” Ignaran half-grunts half-smirks.
Kullervo sidles over with a lopsided grin- an easy victory for once, the Knights are getting into the swing of things.
“This adventuring lark... Not so dif...” Kullervo starts, all smiles.
“Shut up. Come on.” Cathal bites off, as if it were a curse, and wrenches the door ahead open. A long thin, equally decrepit candlelit chamber lies beyond- the warrior of Kord, bathed for a moment in a sickening yellow glow, seethes slightly- bites at his beard and marches in.

Astaroth follows on, ducking beneath the low lintel.

A moment or two.

“Did you see him?” Kullervo whispers.
Ignaran has yet to look away.
“Yes.”
“There's something not... right.” Kullervo adds, and frets a little.
“Yes.” Ignaran fires back.

“What...” Kullervo eventually breaks the silence, the two have still not moved.
“He's suffering.” Ignaran offers.

The two look on until Astaroth appears again in the doorway, looks hard at the pair for a good while, and then with one huge black hand- indicates that they should definitely come in now.

Later, when Ignaran thinks back to this moment, he will finally work out the emotion that lingered on Astaroth's face- it was fear. Fear of Cathal.


[1] The Drow manufactured Spider pendant is a product of Phaervorul, a splendid Drow enclave of advanced and enlightened (for Drow) thinking. It's a shame no one bothered to pick it up... more of this later; much, much later.

[2] The Poison in the vials is Stormclaw Scorpion Venom, a favourite of the 'The Slayers' a perhaps mythical - at the very least greatly exaggerated - organisation. The Slayers motto is unknown, their lair likewise, their members... well, the same. They are the best kept secret in the Nentir Vale, and if you tell anyone that- they'll kill you.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:43 am 
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The Friday Knights in Sellswords of Fallcrest

Part 17: Madame Zeb.

The chamber ahead is deserted, or so it seems... there are a staggering number of bedrolls here, all... what's the phrase, shitty- certainly not the kind of place the discerning adventurers would lay their head to rest. A dozen or more half-burnt candles are wedged here and there, offering up globes of weak sickly yellow light. The air is thick with the stink of sweat, filth, death, and worst of all desperation.

A noise...

“Shhh!” Kullervo whispers harshly, which brings the ragged trail of adventurers to a halt.
“What is...” Cathal, first in-line whispers back, but is signalled into silence. The warrior of Kord chews at his beard, swallows bile, and tries to order his emotions.

Kullervo creeps forward, every now and then the floorboards protest his passing, but the sound, while cacophonous to his ears, carries but a few feet; and besides no-one is listening.

The young Rogue creeps on- at the far side of the chamber, to the left, a set of stairs lead down and into darkness, to the right an archway- light, and the odd noise that earlier arrested their motion.

Kullervo gestures, one hand up for the others to wait, and presses on and into the brief shadow of the arch- he looks through and into Madame Zeb'oltha's lair- the chamber ahead is littered with remnants of eldritch wizardry. Shattered vials, broken canoptic jars, shards of bone and glowing glass globes half full of slowly bubbling demon-slime [1].

The walls of the chamber are covered in all manner of manic scrawls, mixed in with which are bizarre diagrams fashioned from chalk, and more often- blood. One of the diagrams purports to show the correct formula for the completion of the fabled Gnome Rubix Cube [2].

The chamber isn't empty, the noises are the ticks, whirrs and general babblings of an enormously thick-set female Tiefling, the aforementioned, Madame Zeb. The Tiefling wears some circus tent size robe-come-smock, adorned with all manner of bloody splatters and chemical burns. Her hat, pointed like a wizard's, is held in place by a thick rubber cord. She clatters about the laboratory in a pair of ill-fitting clogs, seemingly made from the shaped thigh bones of some recently oppressed, and perhaps even extinct, species.

At the belt at her side is a gleaming, razor-sharp, sickle; and clutched in her fat sweaty hand is a short black rod, topped with a small white skull.

“I hate almonds!” Madame Zeb croaks suddenly, then in a whispered hiss, “Blessings be to my Demon Lord- there shall be no almonds!” The second half of the sentence is delivered with gusto, her face upturned- towards the heavens - actually the blood-splattered ceiling. She cackles a while and gets back to her cake mix.

Creeeak

A floorboard, Kullervo swiftly rocks back further, onto the balls of his feet- ready to race, he's spotted something else, or rather something... else's. Two of them, big fat something else's.

Either side of the shadowed arch in which he stands are mountains of men, scratch that- hillocks of men; great bald headed corpulent barrels of flesh, their shivering and yet sweating folds are etched and scarred. The formulations of Madame Zeb are cut into their skin. A riot of bloody tattoos that in a myriad languages, mostly dark and garbled, proclaim all manner of foul and arcane pledges, oaths and curses [3]. The fearsome pair are, Kullervo notes, wearing nappies.

The young Rogue gulps and tip-toes back to his companions to tell all.



[1] All products shown were previously available to purchase from “Incantata & Implementia”, proprietor Alan Shuttlecock, Gnome Magikinator; a mixture of the Basic Wizard-Kit (Magic Hat Not Included), the So-You-Want-To-Be-An-Alchemist Kit, and the Beginners Home Diabolist Pack (Family Edition). That is, before the fire. As an aside Demon-Slime, a much sought after commodity for the would-be diabolist, is actually made from rendered animal fat and Day-Glo Fungus, but it looks good.

[2] Rubix Cube, a fabled device- basically a manipulable cube of coloured squares- which, in order to unlock and lay bare the treasures held within, must be manoeuvred so that all sides show a single colour. The difficulty lies in the fact that the cube has six sides, of course, and yet there are seven colours. Archimedes Rubix, the Gnome inventor of the device, was famous for two things, the first- his cube, the second his absolute, total and all-encompassing madness.

[3] For instance, written in Deep Speech on Pinky's right arm, the Eunuch to the left of the shadowy archway, is written, “Orcus is Lord!”; while on Perky's left buttock, in Supernal, it states, “need fresh spleen”, which is crossed through and written beneath, “pay milkman- no yoghurt!”


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:36 am 
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Screen shot of the initial action- the Beggar King's Sentries are caught unawares.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:39 am 
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Fernando Del Amitri is up for a rumble... Wolfie has other ideas.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:41 am 
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And into the Bazaar of the Bizarre they go, oh look TIMMY!


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:43 am 
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Arthuro and a pair of floundering Dog Brothers.


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 Post subject: Re: The Friday Knights in (DCC #53) Sellswords of Fallcrest
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 9:33 am 
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Irocar and the Dog Brothers take a beating.


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