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  #1  
Old Feb 5th, 2019, 10:59 PM
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Chapter One: An Honest Day's Work

"Please state your name for the record."

"I do not recognize your authority, or the authority of your so-called legal system, over me or for that matter over--are you actually writing down everything that I'm saying?"


There was a moment's silence, Chris looking wearily down at the parchment on his desk, then up at the well-dressed orc in the cell. "Is that your full name, or is there more?"

"...Chairman Tasskar."

"Chairman... Tass... skar... got it. I will be taking your full statement in a moment, in as much detail as you care to give it, but first I would like you to answer some prelimary questions, and if at all possible I would like you to keep your answers brief and to the point."

"I don't have to tell you anything."

"No, you don't, but I have to ask. What were your intentions with the four people you kidnapped?"

"It was a social experiment. And really, what does 'kidnapped' even mean? It's really a subjective concept, when you think about it."


Chris ignored that particular mess and pressed on to the next question. "Do you know the current whereabouts of the..." He put a hand over his mouth as he yawned, then shook his head to clear it. "I apologize. Do you know the whereabouts of the lizardfolk your accomplices have identified... as Vice... Vice Chairman, uhm, hmm, Tulok..." Despite his best efforts to rally himself, he dozed off.

Tasskar stood up and took hold of the bars on the cell door, peering around the room. All the rest of the watch had fallen asleep, as had all his subordinates in their cells. The only ones left awake were himself and...

"Hello Tasskar."

Tasskar gave a barking laugh and applauded loudly. It wasn't like anyone was awake to hear him. "Vice-Secretary! Marvelous show!"

"I'm not interested in flattery. I want to know what happened after you got up here to the surface. How exactly you all got in this mess."

"Well, I'll be glad to tell you the whole story, once we're far away from here. If you could get me out of the cell, maybe help me carry the others--"

"You don't get it, Tasskar. I'm done with your stupid club and I'm not here to help any of you. But, if you kindly tell me what I want to know, then I'll let you live."


The orc's jovial demeanor sobered, and he looked down at the man on the other side of the bars. "...no you won't," he said softly.

"Well. No, but it was worth a try, wasn't it?"


~~~

Four heroes traveled north: a holy knight, Anita Blum; a mighty hunter, Bloodwolf the Epic; a deadly stalker, Luchi of the Undercommon; and a magical prodigy, Valon Gashi. Ahead of them lay the town of Heuco del Halcon. Behind them lay the city of Veratuna, and many unanswered questions.

For example, who had slain the Chairman of the South Undercommon Debate Society (Veratuna Division) in his cell, mere hours after he had been taken into custody? What had happened to the Vice Chairman of that same Society, who had last been seen bleeding out on a stone floor, yet had vanished without a trace? The Watch suspected the two incidents to be related, but despite the chaos of the crime scene--the cell door ripped off its hinges, the Chairman torn limb from limb, reports rifled through--there was no conclusive evidence, no tracks, no witnesses. Even the finest noses in the city had not found a whiff of the assailant.

The Watch were still canvasing the area, and sending whoever they could spare to nearby settlements, in case the perpetrator had already fled Veratuna. But Heuco del Halcon was a bit out of their reach; they'd sent word of a murderer on the loose through the Beacon Tower, but hadn't gotten clearance to send any Watchmen there personally.

Christoph Vargas, the officer who had arrested Chairman Tasskar, and subsequently taken most of the blame for failing to protect a suspect in custody, had asked the four who had rescued him from the Debate Society to travel north to Heuco del Halcon.

"It's a long shot, but we need to explore every possibility as thoroughly as we can."

His offer: a small cash advance out of his own pocket just to go and ask around. If they found any pertinent information, or apprehended the murderer, they would be rewarded accordingly by the city.
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Last edited by Morathor; Feb 5th, 2019 at 10:59 PM.
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Old Feb 16th, 2019, 08:18 PM
ProudOddball ProudOddball is offline
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Bloodwolf the Epic was bored with so much walking and decided to see if she could annoy a party member amusingly. "Hey Luchi," she said. "You're from the Undercommon, right? What do you think the odds are that the lizardfolk's body is missing because Undercommon people took it and ate it?"

Antia Blum sighed. Was she going to have to break up an argument? Again?
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Old Feb 16th, 2019, 09:29 PM
Qith Qith is offline
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Luchi looks at Bloodwolf and says "I don't think that's likely, we had everyone else tied up, and it's tough to eat someone that big when you're tied up, or even when you're not cause he was pretty big. I guess it's possible a group of them were hiding and then dragged him away when we were upstairs, but I think it's more likely that whoever killed the chairman did it. He must have had pretty powerful magic, and with the right spell I bet you could eat someone really fast."

Valon sighs, "There aren't any spells for eating someone really fast, that's stupid. Maybe he was disintegrated or teleported. I don't know why someone with that level of magic would care about that group of losers though. Maybe they were bored? I don't know."

Last edited by Qith; Feb 16th, 2019 at 09:31 PM.
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Old Feb 16th, 2019, 09:40 PM
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"I eat faster when I'm a wolf; bigger bites. And there are definitely spells for turning into a wolf. I think there are spells for turning into bigger things too. But I wasn't asking if the tied-up people ate him, I was asking if another group of Undercommon people came up to the tower and did."

All right, they weren't arguing, just bantering. "Do you really think there was another group in that society besides the ones we defeated?" Anita asked. "If another group got to him fast enough, maybe they could've healed him. He wasn't fully dead when we last saw him, remember?"
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Old Feb 16th, 2019, 09:56 PM
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"You're all overthinking this," said Valon "There was probably a coward that hid when he saw us come, and then gave that lizardman a potion or something after we passed then they ran away. I doubt it has anything to do with that happened to the Chairman. The chairman probably made other enemies. Perhaps a powerful mage that was sick of his nonsense and decided to take care of him."

Last edited by Qith; Feb 16th, 2019 at 09:57 PM.
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Old Feb 16th, 2019, 10:08 PM
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Anita nodded. "That's certainly possible. But it's also possible that the big lizardfolk and whoever healed him attacked the Chairman together. Chris said his body was torn apart, after all, and I think that matches the fighting style of our missing enemy."

"It doesn't really matter to us, though." Bloodwolf said. "We probably won't find anything in this other Ascana city--"

"--Hueco del Halcon--"

"All Ascana cities are basically the same so I'm not studying their names. That guard sent us just in case. They're sending people to look all over. We probably won't be the ones to find whoever."

Last edited by ProudOddball; Feb 17th, 2019 at 04:02 PM.
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Old Feb 17th, 2019, 07:27 PM
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As the four traveled, continuing their discussion as they went, they began to hear the sound of running water filtering through the dense forest. Before long, they rounded a bend and saw the road come to an end at the banks of a river. The muddy brown water must have stretched a hundred feet to the opposite bank, though gauging the depth was more or less impossible with as cloudy as the water was. On this side of the river, the trees grew right up to the very edge of the bank, but on the far side, they had been cleared away, leaving a hollow in the forest for what looked like miles. And right on the banks of the river sat Heuco del Halcon.

Veratuna was not a large city by Ascana standards, but it was more than twice the size of the town that lay before them. The construction was also a bit of an oddity, from what they could see; there was very little of the pale adobe that dominated the architecture of most League cities. Most everything here seemed to be made of wood. But that probably to be expected from a lumber town like Hueco del Halcon.

There was no bridge across the river, but there was a pier built at the end of the road. It was broad, sturdy, and well-maintained. The ferry that sat by the pier seemed in good shape as well, with a ramp that fitted snugly to grooves carved in the edge of the pier--presumably for that purpose. The ferrywoman, on the other hand, looked to be in bad shape. Her face was drained of color, and heavy bags under her eyes attested to a lack of sleep. Her bright red beard was rough and raggedy, with uneven stubble and assorted shaving cuts adorning her cheeks and neck. Though she clutched her oar so tightly her knuckles turned pale, her hands seemed to be shaking slightly.

With bleary eyes, she looked at the four travelers as they approached. "...silver apiece to cross," she croaked. "It's non--" Mid-sentence, she erupted into a coughing fit--making an awful, hacking sound, seeming to border on vomiting. She was doubled over for a solid ten seconds, and spent another ten gasping and gulping for air, before clearing her throat weakly and straightening up. "It's non-negotiable."
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Old Feb 27th, 2019, 05:41 PM
ProudOddball ProudOddball is offline
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Bloodwolf shrugged and pulled out a silver. She didn't really care much about Ascanian money.

"Are you all right?" Anita asked. "Do you need help?" Between the four of them they could probably find another way across the river if they really needed to; for example, if the ferrywoman wasn't up to the task.
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Old Feb 27th, 2019, 08:26 PM
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The ferrywoman collected their coins before answering Anita's question. "I'll be fine. S'just. What's it called. A Heal or Nature check may give you more information on this.Blackscour. It'll pass. And, it's not airborne, you can't catch it from me. Just, while you're in town, watch what you drink."

Once the travelers had all paid and boarded, she hoisted up her ramp and began to guide the ferry across the river. The craft bobbed gently as the lazy current pushed it gently downstream; the ferrywoman's skilled work with the oar and rudder kept them from drifting off course. About a third of the way across the river, though, she plunged the oar deep into the water, halting the ferry completely as she rode out another coughing fit.

Once she could breath again, she straightened up, wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, and continued as if nothing had happened. "So what brings you all to our neck of the woods?"
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 09:06 AM
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"We're looking for someone." Valon says, "A murderer."

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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 10:19 PM
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"Oh yeah? There a reward?" She coughed again--briefly, this time, although the sound was still rather awful. "If they came from down south like you, my family runs the only ferry. I might've taken them across myself. What they look like?"
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 10:45 PM
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"The problem is, we're not sure. They cast some sort of sleep spell on a whole guardhouse, tore a prisoner to pieces and ransacked the whole place. Nobody got a look at them, not even any smells or tracks we could use. Worst of all, we were the ones who had captured that prisoner in the first place! That's just insulting." Valon pauses. "The only thing I can think of is some kind of powerful magic user, and they could look like anything."

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Old Mar 13th, 2019, 08:13 PM
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Anita tried to remember everything she could about Blackscour, how it related to the ferrywoman's symptoms, and how to avoid catching it. Bloodwolf was completely unconcerned; she was strong and healthy, and could easily cast Purify Food and Drink to "watch what she drank."

Anita nodded at Valon's summary of the situation. "The other problem is we're not sure they came here. Veratuna is sending search parties in all directions. Anyway, if you've ferried someone suspicious recently, or have other information that might be useful to us, I could pay you a little for it. But I advise against confronting any suspects or letting them know anything's wrong: this is a very dangerous person."
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Old Mar 14th, 2019, 12:17 AM
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"You're not kidding. That's not--" The ferrywoman was interrupted by another fit of coughing, leaving Anita to rack her brain. Was this really okay? Were these symptoms normal?

 


Blackscour taint was not common in Luez, where Anita grew up, but neither was it so rare that one could go through life without hearing about it. And her education as a priest had touched on it, among many other simple remedies and first aid techniques. It was a fungal infection folks got from tainted food or water; the symptoms included a lot of coughing and retching as the body tried to expel the offending matter. As for treatment, there wasn't much to do but rest well and ride it out, though she'd heard that if it got really rough there were medicines that could help out. Still, it wasn't the sort of thing people died from; if anything, it was hardest on the farmers, who could lose an entire field of produce to the fungus if they weren't careful.

By the time the ferrywoman could speak again, she didn't seem much in the mood to continue the conversation, and hurried them to the opposite shore in silence. She had one more hacking fit as she sent them off; this time, although she did her best to wipe it away before they could see, she had definitely coughed up a bit of blood. "Good luck with your hunt," she managed to wheeze.
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