Well, for 15 years I was used to having to write a report at the end of every shift. I just can’t quite get out of the habit.
Madness. A week of madness.
Eight days ago I rushed into my apartment, grabbed everything I could, threw it in my sack and ran out the door. I knew they’d be watching THAT place soon and, at a loss for what to do next – well – I must admit I did what I always do. But I went to a DIFFERENT bar! No-one can call ME a “creature of habit”!
Well, with my purse weighing heavy filled with my entire Life savings and a pile of gear shoved under the table, I was sure hoping nothing was coming to find me – and yet something always does! Not what I was expecting of course.
I’d already drank as much I was gonna drink and was thinking about where I was going to spend the night when a bard came in. Can’t stand music. Can’t stand musicians. But before you could say “Hobb’s a bastard” a man came around filling the tankards for free and I thought “Hell, what’s one more?!"
One too many, THAT’S what it is.
Everything went sideways. That singer was telling the tale of some fiery worm, a great dragon – and a knight that came and tried to slay him? It gets muddled in my head. Maybe it was the drink or maybe he was THAT GOOD but suddenly there was a dragon right there in the room throwing fire every which where, baking the knight into the ground and singeing the inn.
I’m not proud. I slumped right under the table and didn’t come to for a good couple of minutes.
Still – beat almost everyone else to ten shut and up.
As I shook it off there were only a couple of other figures that what my old sergeant would’ve called “ambulalalalatory” – up and about is what I mean – and they were wild-eyed, looking for the dragon or the bard – the bartender had scarpered too. One thick-necked fellow who… well… I’m not saying he was Elvish but there was something pointy about the ears and slanty about the eyes, you know? Well he was already looking out the window, scanning around and there was this other man who… well… he looked kind of dazed but not from the drink. Still, when we started looking out the window he looked too.
My old friends from the watch were running riot control or maybe just running riot outside and I think we ALL came to the separate conclusion that they were coming for US. Guilty conscience all around? Don’t know. I think if we’d had a quick conversation about it we’d all have had one of those “comedic moments” where we ALL say “they’re after ME!” “wait, they’re after YOU?!?!” all at the same time – but we didn’t talk about it – instead Thick-Neck made a short but impassioned case that what we saw was magic but we knew it wasn’t OUR magic, right? So the cops were gonna probably ask pointed (and blunt) questions of anyone left standing – and they were probably gonna BLAME (both pointedly and bluntly) anyone who was still standing and not 100% human.
It took me about 15 seconds to think about my former co-workers and reach the same conclusion.
15 seconds after THAT, Thick-Neck was huffing it down the stairs with an elf over his shoulder. I nabbed the other obvious elf in the house and threw her over MY shoulder and before we knew it we were in the cellar with that dizzy-looking guy locking the door behind us.
I guess I’m sure glad I was already packed!
We got through a quick “hi my name is” whip round before we heard something down here in the basement with us. I don’t think we’d even planned to stop to chat, just look for a back door and a quick exit but there’s just SOMETHING about long, narrow staircases that inspire you to get to know the person next to you!
I guess the “hello, how do you do’s” woke up the elf I was toting and so it was that with an aching head and an aching shoulder I met Ayan. I think I must’ve caught her skull on the door jam on the way down cause she kept saying her name different : “I’m Aye Anne” “er… Ian” “I mean Eye INN”. And then there was Herman, the spacey one who I know for a FACT didn’t hit his head on anything – he was just that way, you know? And then Thick-Neck turned out to be Akar from that shipping family who’s got that fancy boat that JUST came in. The one that makes the stupid joke about their name? Over and over? I don’t normally pay attention much to the boats, but I was worried it was bringing in another shipment from Harrtlund and that all my hard work was about to be turned RIGHT around and sent home again – plus that stupid joke DOES stick in your head, so I guess it’s good advertising after all.
OH – and then there was this monkey. I’m not sure what the monkey’s story was. It followed us right down the stairs like it knew where it was going but everyone was all “not MY monkey” and in any case we soon had other fauna to deal with.
Bottom of the stairs: barrels check, pumps check, back door check! We start heading for the back door when a creature out of some storybook comes leaping out of the shadows! And I say “leaping” but I never saw anything move so fast! I mean that literally! It moved so fast I didn’t see it move! Head like an ugly, ugly man and eight legs like a spider. I don’t know that I even thought twice before we were all laying into it. I mean – I don’t remember who hit first but it sure didn’t look like it was just there to show us the way out.
I’d say I held my own, but I sure didn’t. Still fuzzy from that beer I guess. I poked the monster a couple of times but Thickneck and Ayan really did most of the work. Herman did a lot of standing around and staring in that creepy way of his and then he’d like scoot around and chant a bit – Ayan almost got plugged then and there, got bit sure as Hells, and she was bleeding first red and then some sort of thick green goo that didn’t smell like it was supposed to have ANYTHING to do with a Living body.
Once we’d toasted the spider thing (and I DO MEAN TOASTED! Before Ayan slipped out of consciousness from that thing’s venom she was shooting LIGHTNING out of her fingertips – I’d never seen anything like it!) – once we’d beaten that thing into a pulp we made for the back door as quick as we could. We almost started “discussing” our situation when we heard the watch pounding on the door. On the one hand I knew it was only a matter of time before they’d “brave the dragon” and check in on a roomful of unconscious citizens – but I’d really hoped they’d take some time relieving them of anything weighing them down before helping them back to their feet and looking for more trouble – but I guess we WERE kind of making a ruckus.
With Ayan BACK over my shoulder and Akar toting that other elf along, we piled out into the alley. That monkey was picking little somethings off that dead spider thing and popping’em into it’s mouth right up till I went to slam the door, when it decided to come with and scamper out.
Well, Ayan was in bad shape and I think we’d figured that the other elf had been drugged, cause they don’t take drunk like you or me, so I raced us all across town to an apothecary I know to see if he could help. Venoms and potions and bad beer – that’s GOT to be in their bailiwick, right?
Pounding on the door got us some quick attention, pounding some gold into the man’s palm got us some quick service and before you knew it we’d bought ourselves a quick trip to the graveyard.
I don’t mean metaphorically – the druggist DID come through – but he needed some moss that only grows in graveyards. Herman and Akar and I ran to the city necropolis, hopped the fence (well, me and Akar hopped, Herman went up but seemed to not entirely knowledgeable about coming back down… he’s getting to freak me out a little, to be honest) and found the moss. Easy as pie but as we made our way back out I could’ve sworn SOMETHING was following us.
There we were in a church yard but then something was howling and they sounded like THEY were in a CHURCH. I turned around, sure I was going to have to face some big-headed dogs and nearly dropped my rapier cause that damned monkey was standing behind me.
We eyeballed one another and I tried not to lose track of the little monster as I made it back over the fence. It made eye contact with me and stepped between the bars like I was stupid for taking the long way. I asked Akar and Herman about it. “Not my monkey” was the unanimous reply. I don’t feel that this subject is settled.
The apothecary did well by us. Within the hour we had two conscious elves, and though Ayan was far from mended, she WAS on her feet. The other elf, Feena, turned out to be a member of the crew of the SS Melly, in port to trade [fish? Did she tell us it was a fishing vessel at first?] and headed back to her people as I rounded US up and out to a flophouse I knew down the street.
Safe, sound, exhausted – or at least so exhausted that we decided we were safe and sound ENOUGH – we bedded down for the night. Even the monkey. Maybe one of our famous Arashan Rats will eat it before breakfast.
[IT is NOW that I realize that actually this has all been already written up! at Dragons Cause Zzzzz’sBAH!]
The rats didn’t eat the monkey. A week later and nothing ate the monkey. We get attacked by giant octopuses. Octopi? Octstopids? THEY don’t eat the monkey. STILL, no-one takes credit for the monkey, but I sure think it’s got something to do with Herman. They just LOOK at each other a lot and I’m not sure if I want to know more about their relationship but… I kind of want to know more about their relationship.
Well, after a narrow escape from cephalopod infestation in the basement, we figure we’ve probably still got time to check through the house. Maybe I’m just in cop mode – you know? You look hard enough and SOMETHING is gonna be a clue! I think Akar was kind of jealous of Ayan’s ring and Herman – well, you just can’t tell with Herman. Maybe the monkey was whispering “seaaaarch the hoooouse Hermaaan” – but like, in monkey?
So we set Ayan on the door and seeeearch the hoooooouse.
Sapphire Order alright. Maybe everything we’ve heard is true. There sure seems to be enough books and in my experience, that much literary aspiration all in one place NEVER adds up to “law-abiding citizen”. We found secret passages and of course the octopuses – yep – the Sapphire Order is more than just a pleasant blue robe or two. Herman showed me some woodcuts that might make me try that “vegetarian option” the nobs have been on about.
No more corpses – but as we moved up through the house we saw increasing signs of recent habitation. From the layout of the place it looks like the old Sapphire Order may have been set up to take some quiet notes on visitors without said visitors noticing AND to maybe quietly feed said visitors to the party in the basement once they’ve said all they’re gonna say.
And by “party” I mean the octo … octopusseses. Both octopus a and octopus b.
That’s when the neighbours started getting nosy. Later it turned out that “the neighbours” were Mr. Green’s men (and woman) but we didn’t find THAT out till they’d come racing up the stairs flinging spells and crossbow bolts and waving a giant hammer around.
Don’t attack the high ground, kids. We put them down hard along with the wannabe wizard that came floating out of the attic.
We tried pumping them for information, but somehow that’s always a lot easier with a bunch of trained cops working TOGETHER. Good cop, bad cop – you take turns, you know?
Ayan batted her eyelashes and had one of them eating out of her hand, Herman dug through the books and Akar did that thick-neck glower thing of his. Myself, I dragged the wizard downstairs and sort of tried to do a one man “ginger beer interrogation” but with octo – threat of intimate cephalopod incursion. I at least manage to confirm that out of the four of them, the wizard is the most feckless, and probably the most harmless. I don’t know what Herman did to him (turns out all that staring is like how Herman does MAGIC) but that wizard swears he can’t see even when I wave my sun rod in his face.
Turns out that the CURRENT Sapphire Order is pretty much this one loner and his inflated sense of his own importance. If THIS is who will be bringing it back together, I think it’s safe to say that the Sapphire Order shall remain defunct.
By the end of the night we have :
Some ill-gotten gains and proooobably the eternal enmity of the biggest crime boss in town. I’m not sure that this was time well-spent, but Herman seems really happy with the book he found, Akar got a nice cloak and swapped it to Ayan for that smelly ring. Hey, even I’M 10 gp ahead of where I was this morning and I guess we’re bonding over continued acts of violence. But are we any wiser?
These people ARE associated with the underbelly of SHIT in this town, so maybe it’s time I was let of the leash for a sec. If I’d had Thug E, Thug F and Bard G all in a cell somewhere, ginger beer or no, Mr. Green would’ve had them out on the street tomorrow morning at the latest. This way at least they’ve got some bruises and I get a new chain mail shirt. Still, this is the shit UNDER the street. I wish we could take the fight to the shit that WALKS the street.
- It’s not the octospusses but the tentacles, so I don’t need to worry about how to pluralize the former, just how to chop off the latter.
- I think Ayan is convinced that Mr Green is a dragon. I’m less-convinced of this. For future reference, Ayan should probably NOT be left to her own devices for the purposes of interrogation. She’s got the skills but not the definite articles and in hindsight, what with the way that bard was looking at Ayan, she’d have said whatever she asked her to say.
- In the spirit of the above note – what I MEAN to say is that “she” meaning “the bard” would’ve said whatever “she” meaning “Ayan” told “her” meaning “the bard” to say.
- Also in the spirit of the above note, and for the sake of clarity, when I “waved my sunrod in his face” this was a completely literal statement.
- I’ve been trying to think of a good “big headed dogs barkskin is worse than its bite” joke, but think this is probably not worth continuing to pick at. Unlike the bark skin itself. I DO keep picking at that and I know it’s supposed to wear off, but I don’t know if I’m like, supposed to WEAR it off and scratch at it, or if it kind of falls of and makes a mess (am I going to be shaking bark chunks out of my drawers for days?) or just fades away. After seeing the phase spider melt away I’m worried that there will be goo. I hate goo almost as much as I hate tentacles.
- Glad someone explained that phase spiders can just kind of slip in after someone teleports like a…. well, like a monkey if you don’t close the door fast enough, I guess. Makes me happy to know they’re not lurking in every basement in the city. On the other hand, makes me SURE I’ll never want to teleport anywhere!
- Knowing where a mostly-useless blind wizard is has GOT to come in handy, as well as the knowledge of where to find (and how to access) two bloody huge octopuss’. Octo… see above. Tentacle factories. If nothing else, I bet that new Sudmoorian tavern would pay good money for them.
- If the monkey won’t go away and it’s nobody’s monkey, I need to think of a name for my new monkey.