Curse of the Crimson Throne

Thrill of the Hunt Part 4
A New Friend

It was a bit chilly that morning. He clutched his forest green cloak tightly to keep in the warmth. Stopping by the orphanage to check with the head cook there for the food on hand. He needs to step up his game as essentials are quickly dwindling due to the citywide issues.

“Olga, I’ll be back. I’ll check my usual spots, and try my hand at some fish today,” Thorn says to the portly priestess.

Olga nodding at Thorn, “I have enough vegetables to make a stew for tonight with whatever you bring back,” she looks at the storeroom, “I fear that things will get worse before they get better.”

“I’m working on that, Olga,” nodding he heads out, stopping briefly seeing Steven asleep in his cot, clutching his new short bow.

With a sigh and taking some time out for himself he walks out of the city, bow in hand. Tired of the ongoings within the city, leaving it behind for a few hours, returning to nature.

His mind lost in the clouds, which looking up were particularly white, light, and fluffy today in the sky blue sky. He had wandered off his beaten path he normally takes away from his usual spots he told Olga he would be.

A his attention returned to him when he caught wind, a feeling of being watched. He sniffed the air, listened for any sound. Turning around, letting his impatience getting the best of him. “Come out, I do not have time for games, or the patience,” he says readying an arrow in his bow, looking for any movement in the forest foliage.

After a few moments a tall hulking, muscled, dark haired, blue eyed, man steps out from his camouflage. Standing about six foot six, covered in animal hides, a bow in his hand, and a large axe on his back.

Taking a firm stance, he looks at the man, and using his own knowledge of the area he thinks for a moment and surmises that this could be a hunter from one of the nearby Shoanti tribes. Lowering his bow slightly he nods, “Hello, hunter.”

The large man grunts, and with a deep voice, in a thick unique Shoanti accent, responds in common, “Elf,” more of a response than a statement to Thorn’s greeting.

“Half-elf, actually,” correcting the large man. “Shoanti, I presume?”

“You perceive correctly, halfbreed.”

Not enjoying that remark particularly, deciding to shrug it off, “I’m one of the master huntsmen from Korvosa,” he bows, “You can call me Thorn.”

The gruff man nods, “Thousand Arrows, of the Lyrune-Quah, or in your tongue The Moon Clan, halfbreed. Your name is unusual for your kind, a good name for a Shoanti however.” The large man walks up to Thorn, “A huntsman you claim to be. Good profession.”

“It is what I go by and know. My true name lost,” he shrugs, “As for being a hunter, I try my best, and why I was out here today. Providing food to the orphanage I reside at feeding many little mouths that call that place home.”

“I see,” grunted the man, “You think you can outmatch me in a hunt? See how many kills you can bring back?”

Thorn paused for a moment and looked at Thousand Arrows, “Archery is not a game and the bow is not a toy,” Thorn said holding up his bow. “A bow is a weapon, a tool, and must be treated with respect. I do not hunt for sport, but to provide. I take what I need only.”

Thousand Arrows nodded in agreement, “Good answer, Thorn. Many I have met were for game and sport, trophies.”

“That makes me sick. There has to be a balance of give and take. It is the natural order of things.” Thorn replied.

“As in all aspects of life there must be a balance. A night and day, light and dark. Too many people now do not respect that. Your city is one of them places that do not respect the balance,” Thousand Arrows pauses, “It is refreshing to find someone who follows that mentality.”

“I know all too well what the city is, Thousand Arrows. It is my home, where I grew up, I have many responsibilities there to the less fortunate, the kids, and my friends. We are trying to make changes, save the city, but it is easier said than done,” Thorn explains, “I believe with the recent events in the city, change is upon us.”

Thousand Arrows nods, “A noble effort. I do wish you luck on your quest to redeem the seemingly unredeemable.”

“The roots of the city’s infidelity against nature, balance, and its people run deep. It will not happen overnight, or soon I fear, but the potential is there and I aim to sow the seeds for this to happen with my friends.” Thorn stated.

“You may have to attack it at the core to get the results you so desire,” Thousand Arrows nods, “Enough talk of your city, politics, and its corruption. You came to hunt and to commune with nature. I also was out for a hunt. Let us do it together!”

Thorn smiles, “Yes, let us hunt together. I have several mouths to feed and and a tavern to stock with some meat. That three of my adventuring companions work at, and two of them call home,” readying his bow, Thorn gives out a word of wisdom, “Archery is very focused on form and focus, If you are thinking about anything but your shot, you’ll shoot an errant arrow.”

Thousand Arrows nods, “Good advice, friend.”

Together they blend into the environment and start their dance into the afternoon.

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Journal of Perdita Bernardi- the 9-10th
The World of Meat

[Hidden in a secret spot in her room. She writes in draconic.]
Journal of Perdita Bernardi

The riots each night are killing this city literally. I can’t blame the dock workers and other people being worried about what will happen when the next ruler comes to power, but rioting will not do any good. Our tavern has been lucky in that we have food to sell, and eat, many others are not that lucky. I have over heard the mumblings of my hirelings. If they had not taken these jobs when they did, they would have been some of the ones starving. The Guard has turned to their reserve members in desperation for help. The riots have turned the city to chaos and everyone including Sable Company are at their wits end.

Ithamore and Erik picked up a job for us from Cressida Kroft. I’m told she looked worse that a horse that had been worked hard and put away wet, multiple times. With my companions being reserve guard she offered us a few side jobs. It seemed some of the guard members had gone rogue and causing problems themselves. She wanted us to bring in a deserter named Vancaskerkin, and his comrades. He and his group were hold up in an old butchershop called ‘All the World’s Meat’. Rumor had it that each day this guy was giving away fresh meat to all the people. Free food, if that wasn’t a riot waiting to happen I don’t know what is. The gold was good, 1000gps alive, 500 dead. You can’t get information out of a corpse, easily. There were rumors that someone was bringing in weapons to the city to arm those rioting. We suspected that that this Verik Vancaskerkin might be using the butcher shop as a front for it.

Thorn and I scouted it while the other’s worked on a plan of attack. We found the stock pen full to the breaking point. This seemed odd when there has been a shortage of incoming livestock and food stuffs in the city. For the moment it wasn’t important, but was odd. Scouting around we discovered a meat floor where a couple of guys do the butchering for the next day. We didn’t see any weapons other than their butchering knives. As a cook myself I know how sharp those things can be in the right hands. After making our way through the livestock pen we found a side door that had the pens for two large boars. Those things will eat anything, and are mean. Thorn managed to make his way upon to a thatched roof, and listen in at the windows. He was able to identify 4 men upstairs, and another in a side room. After finding all the information we felt we needed we headed back to our friends. A plan was made. We sent myself, and Erik to the front door to prevent escape. Then Ithamore, and Boshi, would be at the back door. Thorn would be in the livestock pen having released those hogs and the cattle, with Kess outside performing. We seemed to catch them somewhat unawares. We managed to kill all the guards, except for Vancaskerkin who surrendered.

We tried to haul his sorry ass back to Commander Kroft but no such luck. We got him to the citadel but found that a doctors was in with her. We feared the worst but Commander Kroft had passed out from exhaustion. She simply worked herself to the brink. What were we going to do with this sorry bastard until morning? We took the guy back to the Falcon’s roost and tossed him in the basement. Everyone took a turn at guarding, we hung up a signed on the front door saying Private Party, and went to bed ourselves.

Adelade was up and making breakfast preparations, and Devin was finishing up things for the night. They raised an eyebrow at us coming in with a guy, but didn’t say anything. They may be young but they do know sometimes it is best not to ask questions. Adelade had hot and fresh food for everyone when they woke up about noon. Coffee was a favorite that morning. While the rest of the group went off to finish their duties, I went to selling all the things we had found. I also placed orders for new armor for myself and Kess. We would be able to pick it up the next day.

That evening we frog marched Vancaskerkin to Commander Kroft. As agreed we were paid the 1000 gold pieces for bringing him in. We left him to be interrogated by Commander Kroft. As to why the guy did it is none of our concern. Who knows maybe he thought he was doing right by giving the down trodden free food. When Thorn went back to check on the cattle, and pigs, it was found that most of the animals were stolen from local farms, and families. This made Vancaskerkin appear even guiltier. He will be lucky if he gets to keep his life.

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Journal of Perdita Bernardi- the 7-8th
A trip through the sewers

[Hidden in a secret spot in her room. She writes in draconic.]
Journal of Perdita Bernardi
Our journeys continue but they continue to be perilous. When I was selling off our gains from the Fishery job we found a Succubus broach that despite all spells to the contrary we could not identify. Kess mentioned there was a rumor from the palace of a lost broach of Queens. We could sell it and get a few 100 gps for it, or we could take it to the palace and see if it is actually the Queen’s lost broach.
While Erik and I sold the rest of our items, Kess and the others went to the palace. She had an ‘in’ with the hand maidens that allowed us to at least approach the queen. Turns out the blasted thing WAS the queen’s lost item. What do you know? I’m not going to turn down 3000 gold pieces split evenly between all of us. Money is money, and money pays the bills. I don’t like the queen but at least were earned some honest money from her.
The next ruler will be decided by the Arbitrators. We managed to convince Commander Kroft to let us be the guards for them when they met. That was a wasted day. Two of them voted for the queen, two voted for the brother, and the other two abstained. It was a tie. When we pushed them why they were abstaining it became clear that they were being bribed to stall the proceedings. I was not pleased.
With the process of having a clear ruler, and the riots and food shortages only to get worse we knew order had to be found and quickly. The only person we thought that could straighten this whole mess out would be Nelandus Kalepopolis, the head of Sable Company and current steward of the kingdom. The problem was he has disappeared.
We managed to find one guy who said he saw him the night of the announcement of the king’s death at the base of the great stairs. We knew where he was standing, but from there he was gone. I was worried that it had been a couple days since he disappeared and any clues to his whereabouts would be long gone. I could have told you which drunk guy had wizzed on the front gates that morning, but I found nothing on Nelandus. Hoping to get a lead we went to the pub right across the street from where he disappeared. We managed to get a couple leads.
Erik chatted up a bar maid and found that the Nelandus was there alone, but wore a hood. He talked to another bar maid named Angie. The bar maid said he seemed afraid for his life. With what clues we were able to pull together, he was said to have gone into an outhouse, and never came out. That left us with one possibility, he escaped down into the sewers. Oh wonderful…………NOT!
After some heated debate of how badly we wanted to find this guy, we ultimately decided to follow his trail down into the sewer. I did not want to think what we were going to be crawling through. I know what I toss down the sewer, and it is unimaginable what we could be going into, and that doesn’t even take into account the creatures down there!
We found a rope ladder still hanging in the nearby storm drain and follow it down. As we go down we find a door in the side of drain, which had a pretty trick trap on it. I manage to disable it and open the room to find what was inside. There was nothing in there except the remains of what could have been a bug gout bag, and a whole bunch of spiders. That was not pleasant.
Having no other alternative we continued down the rope ladder to the drainage pine that had a curtain of some sort blocking it. On the other side of it were a bunch of Trogladytes. Thanks to Isthamore’s ax they didn’t live long, neither did their pet shock lizards. We find on the other side of a makeshift door we found a were rat named Sump. We agree to give him all his equipment back, except for his silver short sword. We offered to get him wolfsbane to help cure him in one weeks’ time provided that he led us to where Nelandus went. He walked us until dawn through ruins under the city that dated back to Thasalon. The next morning, the 8th, I just wanted to sleep. When we came out we happened upon the carriage of the Prince himself. That was a little awkward.
I went home, grabbed a bottle of wine to lessen frustration, and then went to the baths. I was afraid they would not let me into the baths but thankfully did. Soon as I was home I fell asleep until 3 that afternoon. Thankfully Adelade and Devin held down the fort. It is days like this I am glad we hired them.

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Aftermath of the sewers
meanwhile back at the tavern

Adelade was beating the eggs by hand while Devin loaded the latest set of groceries into the larder. “Would you quit complaining Addie. Yes you are up at 4 bells but you still make good tips don’t you?”
“That is beside the point. I just feel it is not fair that you get the overnight shift.” Annie groused as she measured flour into the bowl.
“Tips might be a little better but trust me it is no picnic. You tell me how much you like closing this place down when you are mopping up dwarf vomit at 2 am.” Devin lifted the last barrel of molasses into the pantry.
Annabel made a disgusted face. “Vomit I could do without.” She moved over to the fire where she had a pan with butter melted in it. “From the tales you tell the breakfast shift sounds boring.”
“Oh don’t tell me you are not making good tips. I know for a fact that you got a whole gold piece from that guy.” Devin came over to lean against the counter.
“Only because I kept his mug full of coffee.” Adelade poured hot batter into the pan to make some fritters.
“They pay me for getting them drunk. They pay you for easing the morning after.” He eyed the pan of pastries. “Besides who could resist your pastries.” He tried to take one when Adelade wasn’t looking.
She smacked his hand. “No for you!” She dished up a couple fritters onto a plate. “I’ll get your breakfast made soon as I get Marco’s order. He ordered a large stout and two of the fritters. He is paying extra if he can get them fresh from the pan.” Glaring Adelade took the plate out of the kitchen, stopping long enough at the bar to get the stout.
Annoyed Devin checked the lock on the pantry. Locking ones pantry was not uncommon due to thieves. Normally the lock wasn’t a hard one to deal with given how many he had picked himself trying to get food. Given how food had become a valuable commodity in the city upgrading the lock had been a good idea. Generally he or Adelade were in the kitchen all the time, but better safe than sorry.
It was about then that Adelade walked back in the kitchen. “I take it you want your breakfast as well?”
“If you don’t mind.” He said cheekily.
Adelade began heating another pan. “If you grab another basket of eggs, I’ll start making more fritters.” As requested Devin got another basket of eggs from the locked pantry and placed them on the counter just as Adelade dished up two more fritters.” Let them cool a minute before you eat them.” Adelade warned.
“I suppose a couple more minutes won’t hurt since they are your frit… oh dear goddess.” Devin slapped his hand over his mouth and nose at the stench that wafted in the door. Adelade was holding a cooking towel over her nose.
Walking in the back door looking like a half drown mangy dog was Perdi. She pointed at them and said, “Anything in the dishwater bucket than dirty dishwater?” A little green Devin shook his head. “Good.” She grabbed the bucket went outside in the freezing weather and poured it over her head. She screamed from the cold, but walked back in the kitchen, and shut the door.
The stench was somewhat gone, at least now she smelled like last night’s left over stew instead of someone’s chamber pot that had gone rancid. “I take it last night’s endeavor didn’t go as planned?” Devin offered. The glare he received answered his question.
“Adelade, can you handle breakfast without me? Devin, do you think you could man the bar for a while this morning?”
The two youths looked at each other, “Shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Good. When I get back I have a gold piece for each of you.” She disappeared into her room.
“Where are you going?” Adelade asked.
Grumbling about stupid rats, and idiot men Perdi grabbed a bottle of inexpensive wine, “I’m going to go take a bath! Heaven help anyone who tries to stop me! ”

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Perdi's Rules for Life
  • Her unspoken rule : You do what you have to do for family
  • Rule number 1: Never go anywhere without a knife.

*Don’t belive what you are told. Double check.
*"The best way to keep a secret? Keep it to yourself. Second best? Tell one other person – if you must. There is no third best."
*You don’t waste good.
*Never say you are sorry, it is a sign of weakness.
*Always be specific when you lie.
*Never take anything for granted.
*When a job is done, walk away
*Bend the line, don’t break it.
*Always work with your team
*If someone thinks they have the upperhand, break it.
*It’s better to seek forgiveness than permission
*Never mess with someone’s coffee…if you want to live.
*"There are two ways to follow someone. First way, they never notice you. Second way, they only notice you."
*"Always watch the watchers."
*"If you feel like you are being played, you probably are"
*Don’t sit on the sidelines while your people are in trouble.
*"There is no such thing as coincidence."
*"If it seems like someone is out to get you, they are."
*"Never accept an apology from someone who just sucker punched you."
*"Clean up the mess that you make."
*Never underestimate your opponent
*Always keep a spare

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Thrill of the Hunt Part 3
Learning the Way of the Bow 2

Returning from a particularly tough night of being on guard duty for the city watch after several factions were rioting against one another for who will be the next to take the throne. Having broke up at least a half dozen fights, and chasing Miles O’Sullivan’s escaped pig from his pen he was beat. Dawn was right around the corner by a few hours and he knew he could get just a few moments of rest before then. No sooner than he returned home and his head hit the pillow there was a knock at his door.

Though it was not warm, it was not cold as well. The bright sun shone brightly that morning as it started to peek its yellowish and orange glow over the treetops. A familiar call from outside his door awoke him.

“Thorn?”

“Thorn, are you awake?”

Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, answering slowly, “Yes,” he says says sitting up, grasping blindly for his tunic slipping it on, “Come in.”

Steven from the few days prior came in looking around the humble shack, Thorn called home. Its furnishings very sparse; a bed, a small table, two chairs, a wash basin, with a sponge, and a fireplace. Not much, but it is home, and comfortable accommodations.

“Good morning, Steven,” Thorn says standing up stretching.

“Hi, Mister Thorn,” the lad responds enthusiastically.

“What brings you here,” pausing as a scream is heard from inside the temple from one of the priestesses. “Hold that thought,” snapping awake, grabbing for his bow.

As quickly as he got his bow he was out the door, only to witness two of the priestesses run out from the temple wielding brooms in their hands chasing after a pig. Miles O’Sullivan’s prized hog had escaped again. Amused, he watches them chase the animal around the yard.

Steven joins Thorn by his side, laughing.

Thorn soon joins in with the laughing, but taking a moment he walks forward and claps at the sisters and holds his hand up, “I got this from here ladies.”

Approaching the pig he stares it down like he did previously, and with a loud squeal he starts making a hog call, summoning the pig to his side, handling the animal.

Steven cheers Thorn on watching his impressive skills.

Thorn turns to look at Steven’s cheer distracting him, but the pig also became startled and charges Thorn, knocking him down to the ground.

Covering his eyes with his hands, Steven peeks between his fingers, trying to stifle a chuckle.

A loud high pitched call bursts through the air, another hog call as Miles O’Sullivan calls the pig to him.

Thorn, trying to regain his pride, stands up and nods to Mr. O’Sullivan, “You’ve got to keep a better watch on your pig, or someone will have a mighty feast of ham, bacon, and pickled pigs feet.”

Turning to look at Steven, as the priestesses go over to Miles he walks over to the boy, “Well, now that I am awake, how has your training been going, still practicing your stance?”

With a nod, Steven goes into a stance, showing off his skill.

“Wonderful! You have been practicing,” clapping at Steven’s ability. “We’ll need to work a bit more on this, but great progress. The stance may change due to the bow you will wield.”

Handing over his bow to Steven, “First, we must find a bow that feels good in your hand. We will practice using mine for now. I recommend a bow that has a thin grip. The thinner the grip, the less torque you can put on the bow. Less torque equals more accuracy. Accuracy is your best friend. Now, hold the bow for me, show me what you understand.”

Fidgety, Steven holds the bow awkwardly out in front of him, but in his head he thinks he is a grand archer, one of the best.

“Not bad,” Thorn observes the boy, “But, Ideally, you want the grip to sit firmly against the line on your hand that starts above the thumb and runs through the palm area,” assisting the boy, helping him with the grip.

Steven looks at Thorn, “Like this?”

Nodding, “Yes, very much like that. Once you achieve full draw, the bow should feel like it’s pushing into the palm. We will need to work on drawing the bow string back. This can take great strength, agility, and endurance.”

Lowering the bow, “Can I be a hunter like you someday, Thorn?”

“You can, and will Steven.”

Steven smiles.

Thorn rubs his chin, “We need to find a bow that suits you. I say we go into the city and we’ll find one for you. My treat.”

His eyes growing wide, Steven runs to go and hug Thorn, tightly.

Thorn, not really surprised, but taken back by the affection. He remembers Steven being brought to the orphanage a few months ago after his parents were mysteriously were killed and was rescued from the streets as a thief for the now dead Lamm.

“Let’s go,” he says ushering Steven out to the city looking at the boy, who marches out a few paces in front of him. “Not to far ahead, the city… is dangerous,” feeling kind of strange like an older brother, or a guardian to the child, he wonders is this how his master felt?

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Conversations in the Dank

“Their suffering will be my first odes, and they will not end until I feel satisfied that even dead, resting wherever you are resting, you can hear the pain of the idiot that thought your death would go unavenged.”
― The Angel Ragathiel, from The Trials of Ragathiel 20:2

The sewage pipe was rank and small. The brick tube was slick with waste, filth, and heaven knows what else, punctuated by an earthy, putrid stink that seemed to hover around him, and Aerich was there, keeping an eye out.

For what, remained to be seen. Thus far, spiders had been announced, and the able swordsmen and culinary artists had descended to deal with them. What had helped put his mind at ease was the absence of his wife.

Or the projection of his wife, or whatever it was.

“Gone at last,” he sighed, shaking his head room slight. The truth of the matter was, he felt better being away from the church and out in the city. His darkvision allowed his eyes to pierce the darkness much further than anyone else, yet the confines hampered him at the most basic levels. Aside from Kess, he knew he was utterly alone in the upper portion of the sewer.

How he wished he could stand and stretch. “For a minute there, I thought I was really cracking up,” he muttered quietly to himself.

“Maybe you are,” Aiori said, appearing out of nowhere, watching Aerich smack his head against the ceiling of the pipe, his cloak whirling through her as he turned. Glancing at his head with a wince, she looked back at Aerich with a bemused smile.

“You are a figment of my imagination,” he said at last, his voice a whisper, “you aren’t real.” He rubbed at his head, hard, trying to work her away.

“Of course I’m not real,” Aiori said, walking closer to him, the running waste not bothered a bit. “I’m not a figment of your imagination, either. I suppose you could call me a manifestation of your subconscious.”

Aerich’s eyebrows furrowed. “If you are my subconscious, why did I choose my wife to be its physical manifestation.”

“I’m not here, Aerich,” she reminded him, “so I’m not truly a physical manifestation. What I am is what you are thinking, without filter, so, in that sense, I am very real. As to why I am who I am, perhaps you need to think about that a bit – I only know as much as you let me.”

“So I’m having a psychotic episode,” Aerich sighed, rubbing at his head.

“That’s possible,” Aiori shrugged, leaning against the pipe, crouching close to him “but you have your doubts, maybe that’s why you told yourself that I’m your imagination: that explanation would be the culmination of your anxiety, fears and fatigue talking. What if it was the more simple explanation that I’m just a hallucination that your rational mind has made up to address the strain you have placed yourself in.”

“I’m too busy to have hallucinations,” Aerich replied, trying to make it sound confident as he ignored her headed back to the main drain.

“It doesn’t really work like that,” she replied, appearing in front of him, backing down the pipe with him. “You can’t walk away from me because I am you.”

“Then stay out of my way,” Aerich snapped as they squeezed into the main drain shaft.

“Cleric,” Kess asked, glancing down, then looking around quickly. “I didn’t realize that I was in your way.”

“Sorry,” Aerich said, feeling his cheeks flush slightly, ignoring Number One’s laugh, “I wasn’t talking to you. Carry on.” As he poked back into the pipe, Aerich turned quickly, glaring as Aiori stifled a giggle. “Is there something funny?”

“There are about ten things funny about this,” she chuckled, “starting with how you are talking aloud to a hallucination in the middle of a sewer drain under the streets of Korvosa.”

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Hookshanks

Several days ago:

Hookshanks Gruller whimpered in pain. His severed ear and the stump where his forefinger had been burning in pain. He had been here for hours, shivering in reaction to the pain and then the cold night air.

“ He looked like an angel. Angels are supposed to be good guys.” At least that is what he remembered his mom telling him when he was young. “Not crazy, torturing lunatics!” he whimpered again in pain and fell to the ground has arms still cruelly bound to the heavy railing. His elbows and shoulders twisted in pain but he could no longer stand upright. The dizziness and uncontrollable shivering wracked his body as he tried to find a comfortable spot.

More time passed in agony until he noticed that it was no longer dark outside. “Maybe someone will find me and let me free, or kill me and release this torment.” The thought gave him hope and he called out with all his strength. “Help me! The shout sounded loud in the warehouse but with the doors mostly closed he knew from experience that shouts and screams did not carry far beyond her walls and the locals pretty much minded their own business. “I have a hundred royals to anyone that comes in and helps me!”

Greed. always appeal to their greed.

The day slowly past. The pain in his hand and head hurt, the cramping in his shoulders and legs was agonizing, the thirst was worse. His throat quickly dried out from his shouts, pleas, and promises until he could just not do it anymore. He whimpered and weep and prayed for a bit of water to moisten his lips.
The day slowly crept along.

Then he heard it start raining and he screamed in torment. The roof leaked and he saw a drop fall and splat in the dust about a foot from him, the moisture slowly disappear into the earth. He then felt a drop strike his back and he twisted and squirmed his body around to try and reach the spot with his mouth. Pulling with al his might against the ropes that bound him he tilled his head back and watched the next drop slowly form on the ceiling and then plung toward him bending his body backas far as possible he felt it strike his forehead and run off.

Shrieking he snapped his head forward and smacked it into the heavy railing, he remembered no more for a long time.

Some time later he stired his vision was doubled and he was sick at stomach and tried to throw up and a bit of bile is all that came up.

“Ahh your awake.” Hookshanks looked around and then tried to crawl into the railing away from what he saw. She/it was not very pleasant to look upon nor smell. A pretty laugh came out of the thing in front of him and it leaned closer and gaped/leered/smiled at him. “Is that anyway to treat your possible benefactor, hmmm?” It/she then lifted up a decanter into his sight and slowly swirled the clear liquid around so he could see it dance in the light. Beads of condensation formed on the outside of the decanter and he knew it would be cold, and clean and crisp just like the water from the spring back home. He could not take his eyes off of it as it swirled about in the decanter.

“All you have to do is swear yourself to me body and soul and it is yours, and much more. You will even have the chance to take your revenge on the one who put you here. Such a naughty little angel.” The coquettish laugh coming from the thing was so vile and disturbing that Hookshanks gagged on bile as he tried to throw-up again. Then he swallowed and smiled back at the what-ever-it-was and croaked his oath. The thing looked at him and then looked up into the rafters of the building. “What do you think my pet? Does he truly wish to serve me and our mistress?”

With a hiss a ‘sick’ pseudodragon flew down and landed next to his hands on the heavy rail and looked at him closely with milky white eyes, then turned to it’s mistress and seemed to shake itself all over and then started licking up the dried blood on his hand and ropes. “Ahhh, oh well I am sorry to hear that.” Then lifting up the appendage with the decanter in it she turned it over and let it start pouring out on the ground. At the same time Hookshanks saw hundreds of beady eyes start to close in from the shadows of the old warehouse as rats seemed to come boiling out of its very walls.

He croaked out a scream, gibbered and this time swore the oath for real and the Daughter or Urgathoa took his torment and fear and anger and turned it into something less pleasant.

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Thrill of the Hunt Part 2
Learning the Way of the Bow

Thorn, at his humble accommodations at the temple was outside in the early morning, bow in hand, his quiver of arrows on the ground near him.

His muscles clenched tight against the cold. The cold was like the tiny feet of imps, marching their way up and down your arm. The cold was like minuscule teeth, nibbling on his shirtless extremities. Breathing in and exhaling his breath visible on the air of this particularly cold morning. That was no bother to him.

“Thorn?” A voice called from behind him. A sandy blonde haired boy, about the age of thirteen from the orphanage came up to him, wrapped in a blanket. " Whatcha dooin’?"

Thorn, holding up his hand to silence the lad as he was in deep thought. What he was doing was attuning himself to the wild, drowning out everything around him, focusing, honing his skills. Taking a moment more he makes one final deep breath and exhales.

Turning to face the boy he smiles, “I was focusing myself to listen to nature. Hard to do in a city, but with much practice you can hear the call of the wild. When I am out hunting I need to focus my survival skills, and perception for tracking and spotting the target.”

The boy nods, eyes wide, taking in what Thorn was saying, “Ohhh,” he says in awe of the hunter’s wisdom.

Approaching the boy, “Steven, right?”

The boy nods, fidgeting in place, “Yes, sir.”

“Would you like to practice with me, Steven? I was going to shoot my bow a few times.”

Excitedly Steven shouts, “Yes!”

Another smile crosses his face, “Wonderful. There are a few things you must learn when learning to shoot a bow.”

“Stance.”

“Grip.”

“Anchor.”

“Breathing.”

“Confidence.”

“Release.”

“And, Follow-through.”

“You think you are up for the challenge? This is how my teacher taught me, patience and one step at a time,” he pats the boy on his head.

Steven nods in anticipation, “Mmhmm!”

“Our first lesson is your stance, follow my movements, but do whatever is comfortable. Everyone will develop a stance that promotes a solid shooting platform. Get your feet too far apart and you will be unbalanced forward or backward. Place your feet too close together and you will feel very unstable left or right. Try shooting with your feet shoulder width apart or just past shoulder width apart.”

Thorn kneels down, and the boy follows, “I recommend practicing by putting your feet close together, kneeling down and letting your butt rest on your heels. This creates a very solid platform. Especially for beginners.”

Together the two practice all morning long. As the sun rises into the midmorning glory, the chill starting to dissipate as it starts to warm up.

Looking over at the front of the church, spotting some of his companions have gathered looking for him. “Steven, I need to go. The city needs me, see them people over there? That is my new group of traveling companions and friends. Keep practicing, building stamina for your stance. Next we will focus on the grip. This is the big one. If you plan to drive arrows into the target at extended distances, we must take the time to develop a proper grip.”

Steven rises up and smiles at Thorn. “Thanks sir. Say hi to your friends for me,” he says while running inside the church.

Grabbing his things he heads off to meet his friends.

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A long few days

On the night of the 4 th Perdi dragged herself back into the falcon’s roost‘s kitchen. Devin was on duty cleaning the last of the pots and tankards of the night, and doing a general sweep up of the tavern. “Dare I ask what happened?”

“God forsaken imps.” Perdi grumbled. She began shedding weapons and armor. “By the way, if anyone shows at our back door with an imp ear, let me know. That includes if I am asleep.”

“Imp ear?” He leaned on his broom. “Why…”

Perdi picked up her discarded equipment and headed toward her bunk in the next room. “Bosses orders, and trust me it would take me too long to explain.”

Devin rolled his eyes and went back to sweeping but before long Perdi stuck her head back into the kitchen. “Oh if the supply run happens before I wake up, order an extra 5 pounds of coffee. I have a feeling it will be required.” She then disappeared back into her room.

Davin chuckled then went back to his sweeping. He did not envy the one who was going to have to wake her in the morning.

Perdi was enjoying a wonderful dream of her swimming in piles of gold coins and jewels when she was awoken to the sounds of “no, you wake her up!”

“Neither of you have to wake me up because you have already woke me up. Now WHY did you want to wake me up in the first place?” Perdi snarled as she made her way out of her room.

Wisely one of them handed Perdi a mug of coffee, then spoke, “You said to wake you if anyone came to the door with an imp ear.”

“Yes, and?”

“There is a …lizard creature at our back door with one. He keeps saying in my head ‘He promised dinner.”

“Yeah yeah I know what this is about. Go make up a plate of fish, fried eggs, and some of the hard cheeses, half ling size portion.”

“You are serious.” Devin’s jaw dropped.

Perdi glared at them. “I suggest you do it, unless you want to explain to the boss why you are not upholding his agreements. These psudodragons are as much our guests as the guests in our dinning room. Treat them well, and they will treat us well.”

“A plate of fried fish, fried eggs, and cheese coming up.” Adelade started to cook the food.
“I’ll go talk to our client.” She made her way to where the psudodragon was waiting. “Sorry for the delay. You food is on it’s way.”

It said something in dragonish to Perdi. “ Your welcome, I think. ”The psudodragon responded with an affirmative.

“I will stand by my bosses agreement. The FIRST psudodragon to bring us an imp ear each morning will get a free meal. I’ll also make a deal with you. I’m always interested in information. Anytime you bring me any useful information, I’ll give you some food. The better the information, the better the food. Deal?”

Before she got an answer Adelade was bringing out the plate of food.

“That is my offer good sir. ” Perdi nodded to the psudo dragon and went back to her work. There was a lot to be done before they headed out into the camps. Hopefully they would get the information they needed.


Later that afternoon Perdi was cursing in every language she knew and a few choice words she had picked up along the way. She wasn’t quite sure what went wrong but one minute they were chatting up some shanti the next things were being thrown at them including steaming piles of pooh! All of them were covered in it. I don’t care what we have to do but next time we are taking Kess and our cleric with us, regardless.

It was extra to get hot water in her bath but it was worth it. It was not fun washing all of the filth out of well, everything. Perdi wondered if she had any skin left all the scrubbing she had done. The one good thing she could say about the day was that when she returned to the Falcon’s roost Adelade and Devin had kept the place in one piece well enough for dinner service to start with out any serious problems. Business was even good that night, granted most of it were people discussing the queen vs the brother as the next ruler. No fights broke out, and business was good that is what mattered.


“Where is Devin with the supplies?” Perdi grumped as she stirred the rabbit stew.

“He wouldn’t have made off with them, would he?” Adelade asked as she took the fritters out of the oven.

“No unless he wants me to turn his guts into garters.” Perdi said flatly. Adelade wasn’t sure if she was joking or not.

A moment later there was the sound of Devin shouting for help to get the supplies in the building. “Sorry it took so long. The streets were busy, and it was hard to get the wheat and barley.”

Perdi surveyed the sacks he brought in. “What is the deal Devin? I said 50 pounds of wheat flour and barley. There is only 25 here, and you paid twice the amount.”

“Sorry Perdi, but that is the best I could do. I was lucky to get that much. It is like the grain supply as been stopped dead over night.”

“Oh….” Perdi pinched the bridge of her nose, “The grainery. This is going to be a problem. ”

“What about the grainery?” Adelade looked at her confused. “something happen to it?”

“Devin keep an eye out on the grain prices, and quantity. We don’t want to be caught un prepared.” Perdi starting putting the supplies away, “Adelade two nights ago someone set fire to one of the city graineries. It’s my guess 6 months worth of grain and flour went up in smoke. We managed to save the people that lived near by but the grainery was a total loss. Bread and poriages will be 2 silvers more than normal, if people ask why tell them supply and demand.” Perdi sighed, “Come on we have work to do if we want to make any profit today.”

The day was pretty uneventful other than the special ‘visit’. Two of the ‘The Guild’ came to the bar to give the boss a shake down, but thankfully it went better than planned. Normally it would have cost 100 gps in ‘protection’ but since the bar is open to business transactions and since I do good business for the guild they lowered the price to 10 gps. The boss cut a deal with them for 20 gps and they would pass along information to him that would be helpful to us. The guild’s books show the boss is paid up and we have an informant. Win win for everyone. All in all business was good.

The next morning the streets were busy with the funeral of the fallen king. It was a national day of morning. The bar did well with toasts to the king, and for discussion on who would be the next ruler.

Perdi had sent Devin out to pick up a load of fresh bread when he brought back some odd news. Not far from the tavern they found the body of a Guildman’s man with his tongue cut out. Someone did not want this particular man speaking their secrets, even in death. Devin wasn’t sure if it was one of the men who had been in the bar the night before, but it makes one wonder. That wasn’t the only news that came through the tavern. All the morners not only drank a lot but they also talked a lot. The long shore men at the docks were not unloading ships. There were ships full of goods ready to be unloaded but they just weren’t. The flow of goods in and out of the city was pretty much at a stand still. This raised Perdi’s concerns even more.

That evening after all the commotion of the day had calmed down our friendly cleric and I went about examining, and selling some of our recent ‘acquired’ goods. There was one item, a succubus broach, that we could not identify but we did hear a rumor that it might be a stolen broach of the queen. Kess had a connection with a hand maiden of the Queen. It might be more valuable to us if we return than to just sell it. While the boss, Kess and our cleric meet with the queen, I sold the goods we had left.

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