TI4.55: Shopping and Schmoozing in Sarnas

The characters for this session:

Fennec, L3 wizard, combat and curative schools

Crompton, L3 rogue, roguery and Runebearer background

Cauleigh, L4 warrior, literate townsman background

It’s the second full day in Sarnas, chief city of the Sarnmark. Our heroes are beginning to gain useful contacts and sniff out job prospects. Aside from seeking clues about Ikkutas and the whereabouts of the Scions of Kolbrannus, they are here to purchase top-quality equipment, and have a couple of items that require “study” to really get best value out of. These are:

  • 24 magic-scribed pistol balls – studying the scrimshaw with the right tutor may allow the student to apply the same Level 1 ‘spite hit’ to blunt weapons/musket ball as the L1 sure-blade spell
  • Gem-set ceremonial knife – with study an incantation may be applicable that would make it equivalent to magical
  • Runebearer axe with the Antimagic property

 

Fennec

The Wizards Guild appears to be a separate building, perhaps south-east of the mighty citadel proper, although illusion may again be playing a part in this impression. It takes Fennec three spells to be “sorted” as to ability and he’s kept waiting a little while before Max Oberhelm, confident magister, welcomes him and signs him in as a visitor. He leads Fennec through to a lofty-vaulted members’ room with its members’ bar in one corner and many deep comfy seats grouped here and there.

Max listens sympathetically to Fennec’s story about Maeglos, mockingly imitates that elf master’s posing, but does admit the price suggested is likely to be fair. In terms of who else might restore the staff’s charges (and possibly store the higher level spells in Fennec’s ring) he brags up their senior member, Lady Bree, and warns Fennec to be on his best behaviour around her. (Fennec may be dressed in good wizard robe but his boots are still the same road boots he arrived in.)

Meanwhile, there’s only one other member in the common room, and Fennec is now introduced to Daisy Brightwater. She is a mightily-well-constructed woman of uncertain years who speaks with a delightful southern twang. And she seems to be a shrewd businesswoman. She’s very interested in the prospects those scrimshaw balls may open up, and arranges to meet Fennec for dinner at a superior dining-house not far from the park.

Over lunch (his chatting with Daisy has taken him pleasantly through the morning) Fennec does meet Lady Bree Greyswan of Greystand. There’s a suggestion of inkiness around her fingertips – in contrast to junior wizards who are liberally smirched in ink. She seems interested in records of his travels and makes an appointment with him three days hence, noon.

“You sly dawg!” Daisy congratuates him, “weasellin’ ya way ’round Lady Bree… [sotto voce] she’s got a thing fer beards… or has she?”

With a dinner date to look forward to, Fennec heads back to the Porters Arms, leaves word for the others and a handsome tip, and walks at leisure, to the upper bridge.

 

A quick recap from Borer

Borer, one of the three Ironbridge rogues that endured the entire Broken Land quest, happens to be seated on a short flight of steps in the merchant quarter as Crompton and Cauleigh make their way away from the south gate, towards the cathedral. Testily challenging at first, Borer discovers that Crompton is willing to pay for a meal and drink!

The trio head for Cinnamon Roll and turn the comfortable vibe in the place into a hostile one as Borer profanely describes what he endured and what he’s seen of the uruk menace. He sarcastically wishes the Templars well – though it turns out, he’s the one who reached them in Briar Keep, to warn them of the invasion.

The white urukin, Borer can definitively say, is not the Uruk Lord, merely a lieutenant. The Uruk Lord is served by three lieutenants, two of whom are Gorgun (who sounds quite rash, but tolerant) and Gariag (whom Cauleigh fought). Those are both full-blooded and huge uruks. Other than that he includes trolls ogres and at least one giant among his army. Which is now armed with gunnes.

The two other companions of Borer to see the quest through to the end are Elyn, who is alright for a human woman apparently, and Binye, a man. He doesn’t know where they drifted to – after meeting up on Sidewinder Creek, Borer headed downriver to Dolem’s Spire and they headed west and south to warn other settlers. Borer adds that he owes the elves a big solid favour, because Wanda, an elf out of the north somewhere, rescued him.

 

Gimme that old time religion

Crompton separates from Cauleigh fairly soon after that. The second breakfast, and long expletive-laden yarn, has taken them well towards the lunch hour and Cauleigh wants to be early to meet whichever elf Shawndel has persuaded to speak with him about the scimitar. Crompton has no reference to follow up, so is at leisure to look around the cathedral grounds. He heads north but runs up short against a old and massy wall and distinct lack of entrance to the cathedral.

A helpful passer-by explains that if he wants to pay respects to the gods, the Adoration chapel is the building with the breast-like dome, not the cathedral proper, and it can easily be reached, from this (south) side by walking west.

The Adoration or Seasons chapel has a regular west-facing frontal and open-air processional, lined with well-groomed hedges. A stone pavilion or kiosk interrupts the processional perhaps a quarter-way along. Despite the chill and occasional scuds of rain, plenty of family groups file along, entering and leaving the chapel.

Inside the chapel Crompton studies the mosaics with an unfamiliar eye and attempts to match them to the ten or so Esgaroth gods that he can recall. He doesn’t see the big boss god, or the boss-god’s lady. And there’s nothing he can match to Ikmal, nor Ikmal’s wife Yavan’. And he can’t quite match a mosaic of what appears to be an elf woman archer, to any god he recalls. But there are a couple at least he only half-recalls and he knows there are other even more obscure gods, so this is not a major discovery.

Half-expecting to see a pallid figure, he stares around and does see a pale-faced acolyte. Noticing his close inspection the acolyte approaches him, accepts a donation, and says:

“Welcome, friend dwarf! Have you come to make your adoration and are, perhaps, confused as to whom will show you most mercy?”

He explains:

  • Belor Cjernin is a hero of the Great War substituted into the pantheon;
  • Ara Fellmir is an elf heroine of the Wizard Wars substituted into the pantheon;
  • The coy lady, hot herald, virgin archer (Ara), good worker, warrior hero (Belor), and weeper are the deities of the adoration chapel, in that order. Seniority of place is given to Zolman Law-giver and Varda Star-mantle in the cathedral;
  • He doesn’t explain the absence of Ikmal/Aule or Yavan’/Yavanna and Crompton doesn’t pursue the matter; and finally
  • Holy Bishop Pausanias is a famed speaker (you’ve just missed the high day!) and Crompton should try to attend six days hence!

Having paid respects to Belor Crompton seeks the acolyte out once more and specifically asks about two murders… [DAROs to 21, earns the first boon of the season, L7 CHR SR] and the acolyte, who obviously has heard of these, retorts:

“There is certainly no question that the city is being punished for its sins… silly rumours…”

“We were able to be there when they examined two bodies…” Crompton begins then realises that he has said too much. He doubles down and ploughs on:

“They were murdered in an unusual way…”

“Were they perhaps harlots?”

“No… We were wondering if there is an undead presence under the city?”

“Pah, crazed necromancers babbling about the sewers…”

“Thank you for that information.”

Crompton keeps a weather eye out to his stern quarter and by the time he reaches the kiosk spots the acolyte ducking out and as he notices being noticed, north through a gap in the hedge-trees. Zipping around and north Crompton is in time to see the man slip into a sugar-loaf-looking circular building. It’s the clergy-house.

Undecided, Crompton hesitates until another scud of rain prompts him to get back on track looking around the cathedral proper. He decides to work back counter-clockwise, passing around the adoration chapel area, past a mighty tree, past the old wall and another mighty tree (and ivy up the wall, he notes) and some temple-related trades such as pillowers and embroiders, then squeezing through some other alleys that seem to mark where the cathedral was once open to the east, then through some plastic arts trades such as mason and glazier and to the north-running processional to the north porch. The processional appears to run north to a very secure, well-walled complex. From here the ground opens out to a cemetery lawn, memorial stones dotting it; and beyond that a handsome building reading “Mausoleum of Heroes.”

Pacing at leisure through the grounds, Crompton notes a disturbed grave. As he approaches, passsing three small family groups, he can see a bushy head he (much later) identifies as belonging to Osusk, at work there and barely sparing him a glance.

To his left as he passes the Mausoleum, Crompton can see another similar building. He steps carefully across a shallow robbed wall and leaves what was once the Abbey grounds.

Having concluded all he wishes to do, Crompton hikes back to the Porters Arms and buys a lunch of last night’s supper and good strong porter. Fennec arrives as he begins to think himself full.

 

Let’s hit the road north…

Watching Crompton eat pub leftovers is boring so Fennec is keen to get on to the next issue, speaking to the smith Meta-something, by the north gate.

The pair walk back through riverside bustle towards the Abbey and swing north over Upper bridge. The daytime stalls are busy; the only thing of note is a bear, coming the other way, [L2 LK OK] being led securely by a bear-handler. Seeing Fennec’s interest he pauses and asks:

“Interested in bettin’ on th’ fight?”

“What’s it fighting?”

“Ooh… couldn’t say right now… mebbe dawg… mebbe they git a wulfan…”

“Interesting… where’s this happening?”

The bear-handler gives directions south-east, outwall. Fennec notes it down for possible investigation but as he remarks to Crompton:

“The fact it’s being led through in broad daylight tells me bear-baiting is perfectly legal. I don’t like the idea of a wulfan being forced but… that’s not a given.”

 

Cauleigh

The burly warrior arrives in good time at Central Perk. It’s already busy: he finds a spot with a view: and Betty, on duty at some other benches, only has time for a friendly wave.

An elf arrives and perhaps unsurprisingly it is in fact Shawndel. The extra day’s delay has given him/her time to investigate Cauleigh’s bona fides and consult others.

Cauleigh recaps the situation and history, and Shawndel congratulates him on not blabbing the facts all over the city; warns him that another party, Sasha Orc-slayer, may be about; and suggests he be compensated for handing the scimitar off to the elven community. Cauleigh wonders where it might be safely stored? Shawndel replies it would be smuggled north to what’s called Elf Mountain.

Cauleigh wishes no recompense: he wishes access to the library! Shawndel writes a note in elven to Reena Spidros, the librarian, and a covering note to the palace. Shawndel decides that it’s best to make one transaction all told and will send an agent to the Porters Arms to complete the handoff.

[100AP for achieving the major thread “get access to the library”]

Betty has still no leisure: balances a spoon on her nose, goggles her eyes, and waves him goodbye.

Cauleigh catches up with Fennec’s intentions at the Porters Arms and walks swiftly around and north and soon catches up the more leisurely pair.

 

Crompton’s confession

Cauleigh is a little sardonic as Crompton confesses that he has made himself a lightning rod for the church.

“You were actually talking to someone who knew the deal, and was trying to find out what you knew, so you told him almost everything, walked away without learning anything new, but you saw where he ran to after that.”

“Yes a sugar-loaf kind of building, the clergy house. Oh and there’s a disturbed grave, and a bushy-headed fellow.”

The trio offer jokes to one another about the real culprit, citing dire mosquitoes and vampires.

Fennec mentions he’s following up the scrimshaw bullets over dinner. At this point they become aware that they are heading to some foot-bridges over a slimy-looking river, and that some young thugs have fallen in behind.

 

That’s dirty Luth

They swing around heading for the theatre and three of the lads swing right to cut them off. Cauleigh swings round and confronts the other three: the leader with a splendid quiff or pompadour of oiled hair:

“Say friend, which way are ya going?”

“Mebbe I’m jest goin’ this way”

“Well walk on by…”

“Mebbe I will… mebbe I won’t… ain’t fer you ta tell me”

Fennec murmurs to Crompton:

“Can you see anything that says they are local Rogues Guild?”

He cannot. Cauleigh continues:

“Do you want to do this with fists?”

“Mebbe I’ll see ya… later…”

The youths make off.

“Remind me to look up local laws about murdering ruffians,” Fennec mutters.

The potential fracas has been witnessed by shop keepers, assistants, and burgers of the tiwn. A smith standing at an imposing smithy and store gestures Cauleigh in:

“Say that was mighty fine! Don’t know as how I’ve seen summun’ square to an’ set them ta rights!”

“Who were they?”

“Dirty Luth an’ his boys… would-be big bad men outta th’ north… say, don’t s’pose ya’d be interested in some ironmongery… vambraces are th’ thing these days… ya got a yuge forearm there, betcha gotta get that tailor-made…”

“I like your pitch my friend, I’ll take a look.”

 

Mettastos

Crompton and Fennec wait patiently, then impatiently, then as Cauleigh is encouraged to head to the gauntletteer across the way next, they ask for directions to the north gate area, and the smith Meta-something.

“That’s Mettastos. Deals mainly with the garrison, money would need to talk.”

The smith also suggests Mettastos might be able to offer a suggestion about Cauleigh’s caliver idea (a Flick spell) and Crompton’s axe (specifically how you are supposed to use an Antimagic blade).

Congratulating one another on not having to work for a living the pair walk through bustling working folk and playing children, around north of the theatre, through pleasant airs and a suggestion of fruit tree, across foot bridges and another foul-looking river. Off left rises a grim barrack, before them extends an open area, and right is a large smith’s workshop.

Approaching it they indeed find the sign “Mettastos Arms & Armor.”

“Perhaps we should head back?” Fennec asks

“I want at least to get his opinion on the axe, to counter magics.”

“Then I’ll come in, you never know, something might meet the eye.”

Mettastos appears to be a burly young blond-bearded man (slightly singed) and though busy is willing to take some coins for his opinion. He examines the Runebearer axe and offers the commonplace that an enchanted axe stops Breaker spells. Then, just as a theory, if genuinely Antimagic, says maybe it could cut through wall spells and perhaps even a Protective Pentagram! As to work:

“Orders are very very tight, it would need to be top priority, tell your friends they’d be best getting a letter from someone in top authority.”

 

Attack of the clueless

Cauleigh places a deposit on the vambrace work (it’s superior steel, specifically resistant but no actual higher points protection) and next visits the gauntletteer. He selects a smooth-polished type and places a deposit on that. Then, seeing his friends have moved on, recollects that his shoes must be ready.

He realises that he’s alone when, at a convenient point in the merchant quarter, Luth and four thugs attack!

Cauleigh [L6 DEX] whips his throw-blade out and gets a throat-shot on one. Then using that initiative leaps to the nearest wall [L6 STR] and with a spinning cut with kukri whicks the next one’s head off. There’s a huge spray of blood! One of the remaining three immediately pees his pants and stops, knees sagging. Launching into Luth and his remaining off-sider Cauleigh slices their guts open and body parts litter the path!

“This is why you don’t try to rough me up and rob me, right, widdle-pants?”

Cauleigh lets the weeping, pee-poo-pants thug waddle off. But what with the slaughter his good clothing is ruined. He accepts a handsome compliment as to his sweep of shoulder, is easily persuaded to buy some outrageously-priced clothing, and is fitted and clothed again. Then, off to the cobbler!

Then, he finds a laundry but the laundrymen are not optimistic. Blood is hell to shift.

 

Plans for the evening?

Fennec and Crompton head south across Temple bridge, to the merchant quarter and the cobbler. They spot Clarrie – notable by his eye-glass – reporting on some street-killing.

“If it bleeds it leads,” Clarrie remarks.

Well satisfied with his shoes, Fennec looks forward to meeting Daisy. He and Crompton return to the Porters Arms, where they catch Cauleigh up with the Mettastos situation and he catches them up with his success on the library, and take their ease until evening.

Cursing because he can’t get into the lockup to get a bullet to show Daisy, Fennec bids the others farewell. But then, as an afterthought, mentions that he’ll be dining near the Cathedral. So the other two offer to eat out, nearby, in case there’s trouble.

 

At the Drunken Nixie

Their hostess is an older woman named Tiara; the crowd is mainly young. A few recognise Cauleigh as ‘the dwarf that was with Betty’ and acknowledge him. The crowd is mainly human: Crompton spots a clean-shaven urukin and a pale-blue woman whose kindred he doesn’t recognise.

Betty bounces in with an “I’m off dooty!” and joins them, but tells Cauleigh regretfully that she has to “hit the hay early” because her aunt’s in town and wants her to learn the bakery business.

While Cauleigh is talking Crompton notices that his group is being subtly watched by a dark-dressed woman. She seems aloof from the crowd. Her build is slender, her eyes and hair are dark as far as he can see. He turns to Betty and interrupts her chatter:

“Hypothetically, if someone was a slender, dark-dressed woman… (he describes the woman) would you be able to say oh, that’s so-and-so?”

“Rings a bell… was there a big shoulder kinda scary guy with her when ya saw her?”

“I’ll just have a look…”

“Wha?!?”

Betty’s head whips round to look where Crompton is looking; having realised she’s been singled out the woman smiles. Cauleigh picks up what’s going on and waves her over. She rises as though to join them, but then there’s a little incident where one of the wait-staff stumbles and people fall over and move across the dwarves’ line of sight and then she is gone.

Betty’s vague recall extends only to her name beginning with T and she’s Trouble.

Cauleigh mentions the delicious baking smell and Betty tells him that’s where she’s supposed to be baking. Cauleigh assures her he’ll call in next morning to see her on her first day; she says goodnight, heads off.

The only other event of note, until Fennec arrives, happens when Cauleigh heads out back to drain the lizard. The place is fancy enough to have built-in stalls and he notices a sturdy thug who may or may not have intended to catch him alone and off-guard there.

 

At the Tranquil Boar

Chef Ona, red-haired, heavily-mustached, offers Pon’frac-accented advice on the courses; Daisy and Fennec are served by Urie, probably a relative of the chef judging by her curly red head.

Daisy is excellent company and the meal is a progression of four delicious courses. She explains a little more about tracking enchantments – though she is no specialist – and how items or people might be tracked, and asks for at least nine of the bullets, offering to buy them.

In terms of funds – since Fennec bewails the high cost of everything – Daisy mentions two courses:

  • Get in the good books of Bishop Pausanias, who may be worried about rumours such as necromancers profaning the cemetery. She mentions Osusk, whom Fennec hasn’t met, in regard to this.
  • The second option is to take a slap at the ruin of Sarn Athrad, north – not killing the poor folk living in the ruin – where at least one wand got left behind in the crisis.

The pair “go dutch” on the bill and Fennec parts with 100gp. Perhaps because he’s with Daisy, Fennec is not molested by any random or planned violence and he heads over to collect the other two.

 

On the trail again?

“There’s some dangerous woman with an eye on Crompton,” Cauleigh updates him.

“So about normal for a new place,” adds Crompton

“New city, same shit,” Fennec concludes as they head out and north towards the river, past the Adoration chapel and the clergy-house. Crompton knows the lay of the land now:

“If we sweep round the Cathedral we may get mugged and find something out?”

They swing east around the Abbey ground and towards the north processional. Looking south across the cemetery, Crompton catches sight of a pallid shape slipping towards the Mausoleum of Heroes, and the session ends.

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