Chronicles of Khaldun: Crux of Eternity

In Our Dry Cellar, Part 4

Freeday, Harvester 14, 552 CY (50 AN)

After sufficiently gloating and playing to the crowd, the Shields of the Sorrowfell travel backstage at the Blackgem Amphitheatre. Shaitan al-Ayyim — flanked by bodyguards while being served by a serving girl — greets them. He congratulates them on their victory, and indicates that he owes them gems as payment, as well as the information they requested. He offers that he can wait until they have time to bathe and otherwise arrange themselves.

Once prepared, the Shields emerge and a messenger fetches Shaitan. He returns and gives them a pouch of jade gems. He reiterates that Torili Two-Spirit likely knows the location of the lost halfling, or knows someone who does. In either case, Torili Two-Spirit will be holding a primero game at his cabaret, The Heart of Scandshar, in three days, on the evening of Sunday, Harvester 16. The Shields thank him and go about their business.

The afternoon is spent in preparation. Bosabrieln accompanies Valna when she gets an enchanted tattoo; a flock of birds patterned across her arms and torso allow her to escape when enemies press too closely. They take the opportunity to discuss what to do regarding Bezaldooz’s dabbling in dark magic, and decide to confront him about the subject. Torinn acquires a pair of rusty gauntlets that allow him to target vital areas of wounded enemies. Peren accompanies Bezaldooz in gathering alchemical formulae and components, and purchases a few concoctions of his own.

When everyone returns to the Laughing Maiden, Bosabrieln orders food to his room and invites everyone to join him. There, Bosabrieln and Valna confront Bezaldooz about his demonic magics. He explains that he found a book in one of the dungeons the group has explored — he shows Bosabrieln his copy of The Confessions of Gingor the Seeker — and further explains that demonology is a known quantity; many sorcerers have truck with fell spirits which they summon to do their bidding, and suffer no ill effects so long as they only use them to that end. He says he will stop using his demonological tricks if it makes the others uncomfortable, however.

The next two days are largely spent resting, preparing for Sunday evening’s festivities.

That evening, the Shields of the Sorrowfell travel to The Heart of Scandshar. It is a strange place, bearing a strong urban and industrial motif. Bezaldooz and some of the other arcane dabblers suspect that Torili Two-Spirit might be using the place to establish a symbolic connection with Scandshar, in essence making the place the literal heart of Scandshar.

Whatever the case, the Shields state their business to the guards at the door, who proceed to wave them through. A pair of sentries standing guard before the doors into the back of the club similarly let them pass once their business has been explained.

They are led to a relaxed, upper-class pub area. Several servants flit around. Two tables are set for primero, and the bar hosts the bartender and moneychanger for the evening. The Shields just catch sight of Torili Two-Spirit heading into another door leading out of the room.

In addition to the wait staff, several other figures are in the room. A noblewoman, a barrister, and a veiled woman with her attendants all idly chatter in one part of the room. An aloof and icy eladrin woman keeps to herself in another segment of the room. Still another segment plays host to a man, well-dressed, but rough-and-tumble in appearance as if from the streets. He has the look of a foreigner upon him.

While Bezaldooz, Peren, Torinn, and Valna get to drinking, Bosabrieln introduces himself to the throng. He learns the noblewoman is Lady Léopoldine Pénélope Merle de Rais, the robed man is Barrister Lamont MacBeth, and the covered woman is Princess Jawahir al-Taqiyya. Bosabrieln feels the Princess is somehow familiar, but he cannot place how he knows her.

Eventually, more enter. A well-dressed man, accompanied by his valet, incites conversation with Barrister MacBeth, Lady de Rais, and Princess al-Taqiyya. The man introduces himself as Lord Otto Weogora. Another man enters after that; he is well-dressed, but bears the thickness and scars of someone who works with his hands. Peren and Torinn recognize Noraver “The Meathook” Wyvernjack, a street-level fixer for the Menagerie of Peacocks. They also recall that he is not the sharpest tool in the shed, which is more or less confirmed when he notices them and greets them with surprise and recognition rather than the typical suspicion most Peacock guild types have been using to greet the party.

With everyone present, all introductions are made. The eladrin is revealed as Viscountess Ravaatris Silversgleaming, and the rough-looking man is introduced as Murdak of Bala Ged. With introductions complete, the groups are organized into two tables. Barrister MacBeth, Bosabrieln, Lord Weogora, Princess al-Taqiyya, Valna, and Viscountess Silversgleaming sit at one table. Bezaldooz, Murdak, Lady de Rais, Peren, “The Meathook,” and Torinn sit at another.

The Princess wins at her table. Bosabrieln wins notably, but ends up using his winnings to pay Valna’s debt.

“The Meathook” wins at his table. Bezaldooz and Peren both win money, but end up using their money to help pay Torinn’s debt. At one point, Peren catches Lady de Rais cheating; he admonishes her for playing primero incorrectly, but lets it go without alerting the dealer. The look on her face indicates that she knows exactly what just transpired.

Afterward, everybody takes the opportunity to continue socializing. Viscountess Silversgleaming, who notable lost, leaves in a huff. Murdak leaves shortly thereafter, relatively happy despite losing over 2,000 gp. He looks almost relieved, in a way. Lady de Rais takes her leave relatively quickly, although Bosabrieln does take an opportunity to flirt with her. She catches Peren’s eye from across the room and curtsies slightly before leaving.

Barrister MacBeth leaves next. Princess al-Taqiyya starts to leave, but Bosabrieln catches her before she does. He asks if she will be in the city much longer. She replies that she will not, and adds conspiratorially (and with a much deeper voice) that it was recommended that she not stay. Realizing that the Princess is Vianibrar, Bosabrieln quickly assesses the situation and determines that the Princess’s attendants are merely high-class harlots made to appear as courtesans and valets.

Shocked, Bosabrieln turns back to drinking and speaks with Lord Weogora. Bezaldooz, Peren, Torinn, and Valna continues drinking with “The Meathook.”

Finally, everyone leaves and the Shields of the Sorrowfell are summoned to Torili Two-Spirit’s chambers. Torili sits in a well-appointed office, accompanied by bodyguard Balror Baridukr. Balror says good bye to the Shields as they arrive, and Torili explains that he is a contrary. Once proper introductions are made, Bosabrieln explains that they wish to know what happened to Darstina Tallcrippler. Torili Two-Spirit indicates that she was last seen in the company of Large LeFarge before her disappearance. Either she failed him in some way, or she was an infiltrator. Torili suspects the latter, given the questions the Shields are asking. However, Two-Spirit does not much care about their motives, and seeing LeFarge is its own punishment. Armed with this information, the Shields bid Torili and Balror good evening and take their leave.

The Shields decide to confront LeFarge. As they make their way down to the docks, they encounter a group on an otherwise quiet street. It is Scarlet Jax and her boys. They outnumber the Shields thirteen to five. She indicates that the Shields are being sought by the Peacocks, and that she’s going to be the one to do it unless they leave the city and stop causing trouble. Bosabrieln steps forward and explains that just as she has an obligation to her gang, the Shields have an obligation to their allies. Discussion is tense, both sides huddle, and Scarlet Jax finally concedes that they’ll get 2,000 gold pieces for the night’s activities. If the Shields give them three grand, she and her boys never saw them tonight.

The Shields huddle, agree to the terms, and the exchange is made. Jax and her boys scatter down alleyways into the night.

The Shields arrive at LeFarge’s dockside warehouse. Bosabrieln, Torinn, and Valna will enter while Bezaldooz and Peren wait outside for a signal. Bosabrieln covers himself to appear female, and knocks on the door. A man — a thug by his look — opens the door. Bosabrieln states he has business with Large LeFarge, so the man directs the trio to the suit of armor at the far end of the room.

All told, there are six in the room — four by the entrance playing Three Dragon Ante for matchsticks, with another two drinking at another table. There is also a rusty, old, black suit of armor attached to strings. It sits limply in a chair.

The trio approaches and the armor clatters to life, apparently controlled by the strings. A voice echoes from it, apparently the voice of Large LeFarge. Bosabrieln says he is looking for an associate, Darstina Tallcrippler. LeFarge asks what Bosabrieln plans to offer in return. Bosabrieln asks what LeFarge might need, and LeFarge segues into why Torinn — now well-known to be traveling in the powered armor from the Sentinel — is there? LeFarge, now revealed to all as a bloodthirsty pixie warrior, comes flying out of the armor’s mouth with his handaxes, the Shields raise the alarm, and battle is joined.

Bezaldooz and Peren barge through one of the windows as LeFarge starts wreaking mayhem with his axes. Two of his men leap to their feet, with morningstars at the ready. The other four pull crossbows and prepare to launch volleys of bolts. As Torinn moves to attack LeFarge, LeFarge throws pixie dust at him and he starts to float uncontrollably around the room. He proceeds to pull anything he can — a laser projector from the Sentinel, and his handaxes — to attack while floating away.

Meanwhile, Bosabrieln manages to get a little distance between himself and LeFarge after LeFarge slashes at his eyes. He proceeds to sling spells. Bezaldooz, now toe-to-toe with one of LeFarge’s coves, does likewise. Valna takes out one of the dazed thugs while Peren focuses on LeFarge.

In the chaos of the brawl, the Shields dispatch several thugs before Torinn falls back to earth. Back in the mix, he tangles with LeFarge until all the thugs are slain and LeFarge is unconscious.

After resting and poking around, in which they find a cloak with uncannily deep pockets as well as a pair of oversized gauntlets, the group awakens LeFarge and interrogates him. He reveals that Darstina Tallcrippler was transferred to a Peacocks’ subterranean smuggling complex underneath the ruined district. She is likely down in the dungeon level. He informs them of the building that houses the complex, but says they’re dead men if they go there. He also threatens to come back from the dead to find them if they kill him. Satisfied, Peren decapitates the pixie. Torinn retrieves the head and keeps it as a memento, while they tie LeFarge’s body to a rock and throw it in the river.

After some deliberation, they decide to return to the Laughing Maiden. They’ll sleep and disembark for the ruined district first thing in the morning.

That night, Bosabrieln is awakened by a knocking at his door. He rises, dons pants, and looks through the peephole to see a young woman. He opens the door and recognizes one of the women in Vianibrar’s entourage. Her bronzer and makeup is smeared; she is only wearing bloomers, a loose blouse, and her jewelery; and she is quite drunk, likely from the century-old bottle of wine in her hand. A backpack is slung over her shoulder.

She indicates the “Princess” — she makes quotation fingers in her drunken state — wished to send a message. Bosabrieln invites her inside, and she gives him the backpack. It contains a letter and a small, filled pouch. The letter indicates that Vianibrar does not know their next move, but assuming they are continuing their mission on behalf of the Wizard’s Tower and the Zookeepers, there is an item courtesy of the Wizard’s Tower. The pouch contains Sands of Time, which can be spread in a circle to stop time outside the circle. It is useful for resting or ritual preparations. Vianibrar also indicates that Headmaster Jepson will pay for the return of the Sands of Time if they are unused. Vianibrar also sends his regards and love to Bosabrieln. Bosabrieln uses the letter to write back to Vianibrar, thanking him for the Sands of Time and sending his love. He also indicates he wants to see Vianibrar in the burqa at some future time.

He returns the letter and backpack to the woman, and after kissing her deeply and telling her to give that to Vianibrar, he sends her on her way. He then undresses and returns to bed.