Chronicles of Khaldun: Crux of Eternity

In Our Dry Cellar, Part 3

Godsday, Harvester 11, 552 CY (50 AN)

Confident in their preparations, the Shields of the Sorrowfell travel to the Chateau of Silent Lasses. The Shields decide that Bezaldooz, Peren, Torinn, and Valna will stay at the café across the street while Bosabrieln enters the Chateau to make the transaction. Before doing so, Bosabrieln pockets five platinum coins, just in case.

Peren decides to attempt eating again at the café; the others wait to see what happens. After a few minutes, a commotion erupts down the street. Several people run, ranting about Convergences and the Broken Chain. A woman, tall and pale with long, dark hair, walks after them. She is flanked by two figures in robes. She looks at the Shields as she passes.

However, these things are secondary to the object falling from the sky. As it approaches, it looks artificial, possibly being some manner of vehicle or conveyance — as it approaches, it appears to be some manner of wagon, albeit one completely enclosed and without animals to pull it. It finally lands, bounces, and careens into the front of the café, knocking tables into disarray. The side opens, and smoke billows out as a strange song plays from the inside of the van. A man steps out, wearing embroidered robes and wielding some manner of strange lute. Oblivious to the rest of the group, he opens the front of this behemoth and begins rummaging around, muttering something about parts being broken. Several guardsmen approach, but seeing he is no threat, proceed to stand around to see if their presence is required. When the Shields finally obtain his attention, he asks if there’s a “body shop” around because he needs to replace his “manalytic converter.” When Bezaldooz asks if he is trying to get rid of a body, he looks around, and realizing his surroundings, mutters about this backwater town. He then asks Bezaldooz if he wants any cocaine.

After Bezaldooz assures him that he does not want any cocaine, introductions are made. The man is apparently Doctor Dagger Nazareth, Space-Wizard, from the world of Rockulon Prime. Bezaldooz asks if he needs any help and takes a look at his machine; he can’t make heads or tails of it, although he recognizes a small and somewhat primitive spelljammer helm at the heart of the machine.

Meanwhile, Bosabrieln enters the Chateau of Silent Lasses. He takes tea and waits for the madame. When she arrives, he expresses his intention to purchase Lydia the Tattooed Lady. He shows the pouch of money. The madame leaves, returning with a man who has the bearing of an accountant. He pulls out some contracts and Bosabrieln gives him the pouch. The accountant counts the money and indicates he is 500 gold pieces short of the woman’s 3,000 gold piece value. Bosabrieln pulls out the other five platinum and hands it to the accountant, who gives him the contracts. Bosabrieln signs them and a porter leads Bosabrieln upstairs.

Lydia expresses surprise at seeing Bosabrieln again, but when he indicates he has purchased her, she immediately grows suspicious. He simply asks her to trust him. A large man enters, and indicates that all of her possessions were remanded to the brothel upon the occasion of her initial sale. Since the dressing gown is not hers, Bosabrieln offers to buy it; the man charges a gold piece. The man further indicates that the tattoos are not hers, and refuses to sell them. He then pulls out a large knife.

Bosabrieln tries to get him to stop until he finally pulls his wand and sings a song of distraction at the man. He then tells Lydia to run. Lydia elbows the man in the back of the neck, and he falls unconscious. She then dashes out of the room. Bosabrieln follows, puts an arm around her, tells her to follow his lead, and the two walk out quietly.

When they arrive on the street, Bosabrieln sees the commotion and tells the Shields that they need to leave. Dr. Nazareth begins playing a song he says he wrote for Lydia, much to her consternation. The group leaves with Bosabrieln, although one of the café staff asks after them who’s going to clean this place?

The group arrives at Count Brissot’s townhouse and informs him of the affairs, including their newly-found companion, Dr. Dagger Nazareth. Bosabrieln also reveals to Lydia that she is now free; they are aiding an abolitionist group, and have freed her. She thanks everyone for their efforts, and indicates that if she is to be free, she would prefer to be called by her real name, Ekaterina. Dr. Nazareth, and they ask if she knows anything regarding Darstina Tallcrippler. She says she heard the halfling ran with Scarlet Jax’s gang for a time, and recommends they start at the Troll and Fish, where she and her boys typically find themselves. The group, tired from the morning’s activities, decides to rest until the evening. Count Brissot says he will look after Ekaterina while the others rest. The Shields move Dr. Nazareth’s conveyance to the street, and he decides to sleep in the back of it. Torinn stays at Count Brissot’s house, while the others return to their hotel rooms at the Laughing Maiden. They meet for dinner, and return to their rooms for the evening.

Valna takes a couple of hours to inquire with Count Brissot about any artificers in the area, as her gravity hammer has apparently stopped working. He recommends a Magella Cupshigh, a noble with House Ehrenfest, whom apparently runs a curiosity shop in the market district. Valna finds Lady Cupshigh, and after explaining her problem, Magella says she will take a look at it. She will contact Valna at the Laughing Maiden within the next day to let her know the cost and estimated time.

That evening, the Shields meet in the lobby of the Laughing Maiden. The woman at the front desk gives Valna a message from Magella Cupshigh indicating that the repairs will run 150 gold pieces and will take a couple of days.

The Shields then go to the Troll and Fish, and decide to let Dr. Nazareth rest and go about his own business. They find the tavern down by the wharf, and enter. An old sailor missing an eye and with a hook for a hand looks to run the place. A half-elf with flaming red hair and a red cloak sits with her back to the bar, her feet kicked up on a stool, her arms stretched out on her bar. She wears leather armor, a rapier and dagger on her hip. A goliath, a minotaur, an ogre, and nine humans drink and make merry. The Shields sit and prepare to have drinks. Bosabrieln asks the barkeeper if he may play; the barkeeper refers him to Scarlet Jax. Bosabrieln asks the red-haired woman, and after she stares for a bit, she asks her boys. They agree if he plays properly bawdy songs.

Bosabrieln’s playing properly pleases the crowd, and after a bit, Scarlet Jax slams her tankard on the bar and asks what the Shields of the Sorrowfell want with her. Bosabrieln explains that they’re looking for Darstina Tallcrippler. Scarlet Jax indicates that she doesn’t know what happened to her, but she might know who does — Shaitan al-Ayyim, the Queer Fakir. He keeps his ear to the ground in circles she does not. She indicates that she knows Peren and Torinn, and wonders if they might know where to find the Queer Fakir. When they make it clear that they are not really in the mood to talk of such things, she indicates he can be found at a cabaret called the Perfumed Garden. Bosabrieln also asks if Scarlet Jax knows anything about the Broken Chain assassin, the changeling boy they encountered. She says she doesn’t mess with the Broken Chain, but she recalls him taking other contracts; apparently, the changeling was a street urchin by the name of Lam Jinnam. Satisfied with the information, Bosabrieln then plays a little more and the Shields take their leave.

While walking, Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, and Valna confront Peren and Torinn about their previous activities in Scandshar. They indicate that they do not wish to talk about it; Torinn mentions that as Bezaldooz has a young lady in his room and didn’t see fit to mention it, there are certain secrets Torinn and Peren also wish to keep.

The group goes to the Perfumed Garden. It is decorated in the style of the merchants of the Kharha Desert from the Isle of Anhak. The doormen let them enter, and they are greeted by sumptuous carpets, delightful smells, and a stage show featuring dancing girls in harem costume. Mirrors appear to reflect the action on stage into an upper balcony, so that the stage can still be watched if one is sitting down. Guards stand around the curtains on the balcony, a smoke trails out from the openings. The Shields are seated on a rug to the side of the room, and a serving girl comes around to take their orders. Studying them, she realizes they are adventurers and gushes briefly before getting their meals.

When she returns, Bosabrieln asks if the Queer Fakir is available, that the Shields of the Sorrowfell wish to speak with him. She says she will check. She dashes up the stairs, appears to speak with the guards briefly, and returns to the group. She indicates he should be free in about a half-hour.

True to her word, she retrieves the Shields of the Sorrowfell in roughly a half-hour. She leads them up the stairs to the curtained portion. There, they see a large man in tradition dress reclining on the floor. He is eating from a plate of fruit and meat and smoking a hookah. Lounging on the rugs and pillows around him are six women, scantily clad in harem outfits. They are passing around some manner of pipe with a stylized dragon on it; a thick, resinous smoke bellows forth from it. A few of the Shields surmise that he is smoking flavored tobacco, while his lady friends are smoking opium.

Shaitan al-Ayyim asks the Shields their business, and after appropriate pleasantries are exchanged, Bosabrieln explains that they seek what happened to Darstina Tallcrippler. Shaitan al-Ayyim indicates that he does not know what happened to the halfling, other than she disappeared. However, he suspects Torili Two-Spirit might know. He can grant the Shields audience with Torili Two-Spirit — this person apparently holds a primero game with some regularity, and Shaitan can get the Shields into the game. However, to do this, Shaitan requires a favor from the Shields. There is an arena battle at Blackgem Amphitheatre in three days’ time, and due to a last-minute problem, the original fighters had to drop out. Would the Shields’ be interested in substituting for them? Shaitan requests that they go disguised so that the audience will be unlikely to bet on the unknowns, and he indicates that it is to be a contest against a wild animal, although he does not know what manner of animal at the moment. He further indicates that he will give them a cut for their trouble, 1,000 gp.

The Shields agree. He thanks them and says he will see them in three days.

The following day, a messenger arrives and knocks on Bosabrieln’s door. He indicates he is from Headmaster Ebenezer Jepson, and wishes to speak to the Shields. Bosabrieln gathers the other four Shields and the messenger reports his news — there was a fire at the Temple of the Guiding Light in Jepson. No casualties were reported, however, as the temple was on alert. It was apparently caused by a conspiracy of five guardsmen who were apparently on the take for the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks. Given the stance Jepson plans on taking with the perpetrators, this officially marks an act of war on the part of Jepson regarding the Peacocks. The messenger asks if there are any messages to be sent to Jepson, and the Shields indicate there are not. He takes his leave.

After that, Bosabrieln makes certain to send a message to Vianibrar, saying, “I swear if you die I shall never speak to you again. Be careful. I have something important to discuss with you once this business is done.”

On Freeday, Harvester 14, the Shields arrive early at Blackgem Amphitheatre to get ready. They put down their group name as the Dirty Egg Smashers, and learn that they will be pitted against Durglothtor the Brown, a brown dragon and undefeated veteran of over a dozen battles. The Shields recall the brown dragons’ affinity for sand, and prepare themselves. They also place some bets on themselves as a prize for their hopeful victory.

When they arrive in the arena, they note that the beasts’ wings are clipped so that he can only fly for brief periods. However, encountering him suggests he’s been running more, and is faster as a result.

The creature immediately closes the distance, roaring and striking fear into Bosabrieln and Torinn. Bezaldooz, Peren, and Valna scramble to avoid clumping, and Peren enters into melee with the beast. Durglothtor is fast and covered in durable dragonhide, but the Shields manage to land a couple of telling hits on it. It breathes a gout of scouring sand, obscuring nearly half the arena, but the Shields regroup to face the foe. Bezaldooz mutters some dark chant at the beast in Abyssal, and when that doesn’t faze it, he launches a fireball at it even though this risks burning Torinn. He hits Durglothtor squarely with the blast, but the dragon emerges unscathed. Torinn manages to roll out of the way of the worst of it, but is still caught in the explosion, forcing Bezaldooz to summon a demonic essence to take the hit instead. Valna banishes the dragon to another place, giving the Shields time to regroup and prepare for the creature to reappear.

When it reappears after a few breathless seconds, the tide of battle changes as the Shields overwhelm the beast. It fights valiantly for its life, but the Shields’ persistence allow them to slay the beast within seconds.