Leaning over the guard who had passed out from his garrote, Toshiro and his brother Tempo looked smug. When the guard came around Timone smiled and suggested, “You wanna change sides or die?” Tempo always was a quick judge of character and the guard nodded vigorously. “You’ve got to pay better than the lady I’ve been working for. She’s crazy evil.”
When the adventurers had gathered and counted noses, they discovered that Charlie the Tuna had joined their ranks. Charlie was a ubiquitous rogue that always found his way into lucrative situations. The new recruit introduced himself briefly as Toshiro, Kaladry and Tempo rifled through the boxes in the storeroom.
“I am Demetrius Ronin. My parents moved here after their caravan on the Silk Road was destroyed. Haven’t seen the Beggar King in a long while. Been takin’ orders from some evil witch. I’m more than ready for a lateral move professionally.”
Toshiro showed everyone the beautiful white wolf hide and a broken blade from a sword that was engraved with cryptic runes. Kaladry sighed, “That blade looks interesting. All I found were these.” She showed everyone a leather case filled with silver tools of all sorts.
“I’ll give you the blade for the thieves’ tools. You don’t have any need for them anyway.” Toshiro’s obvious lust for the tools was impressively unfeigned.
“Sure. I think I recognize the writing on the blade.”
Ka’Rak impatiently stood next to a door. “Anytime you guys are ready. We’ve got people to meet and places to see. Or people to kill and places to loot. Something like that.”
Ka’Rak, Partuur and Mouse pushed through the door. A weaselly little bookkeeper type squeaked and barreled through the trio, punching Ka’Rak so hard that everyone heard the crack of ribs. From our newest recruit, Demetrius rang a cry, “Stop him. That’s Arturo the bookkeeper. He’ll warn the people upstairs.” With that as the battle cry everyone ran after the fleeing miscreant.
When Drasak made it to the top of the stairs he saw Arturo slipping through a secret panel. “Get the nimmer (a thief of the lowest order) up here; we’ve got a secret door.”
Toshiro pulled out his brand new thieves’ tools and a twist of his wrist caused the panel to pop open a fraction of an inch. Slipping his fingers into the space, he pulled at something and then brought a spear around from the other side. “Trap disarmed. Who wants a spear? But the door won’t open. I think there’s something barring the door. We need a more forceful method of entry.”
Ka’Rak smiled. “That’s my cue.” He took a step back and then hurled himself at the door, but the popping sound came from his shoulder as he bounced off the door. Mouse rammed the door and broke it open neatly.
Demetrius roared and charged into the room, even while something from behind them at the stairs attracted the attention of Charlie the Tuna. Demetrius saw the witch in the room beyond, pulled out a sword and stabbed through the soft midsection of a guard. “Hey, Lady! I quit.” Demetrius brandished his terrible sword and, with a crack of thunder,pulled a second sword from the first.
Ka’Rak, seeing Arturo, the guy who cracked his rib, pushed his way in next to Demetrius. Rats swarmed from the wall and one leaped at his face. Ka’Rak flailed at the rat that had grabbed his face while Drasak ran into the room and began blasting away at rats. Arturo ran into the room beyond. Ka’Rak, blind and staggering, a rat hanging from his thick brows, stumbled into the next room and took a wild swing which hit nothing but air. Another rat leapt onto his sword arm and bit into muscle. Ka’Rak’s scream split the air as he thrashed at the vermine swarming around him.
Timone fell to a withering blast from the witch and Drasak’s fierce attacks were met with resistance that brought him to his knees.
In the other room, a vile tentacled creature swelled up the stairs. Charlie Tuna hid in the shadows behind the door and stabbed at the creature as it came into range. Toshiro threw a poisoned dagger into the beast’s craw. Kaladry fired into its soft midsection, but when Charlie the Tuna ran it through with his short sword, the creature folded in on itself.
Partuur fired mystic bolt after mystic bolt, hurling healing in each direction wildly as his partners fell about him. Drasak, Mouse, Ka’Rak, Timone. All fell to their knees again and again from the attacks of the henchmen and the Witch, but Partuur healed, shining in the dim room with the glow of inspiration, and encouraging his friends to shake off their wounds with stories of great valor and heroic sacrifice. Surprisingly enough, telling stories actually helped.
Demetrius swung his sword in a cleaving arc that froze the air into shards of shrieking ice and took off the heads of three soldiers, but the follow through was messy and Ka’Rak, Tempo and Drasak also fell. When Tempo fell, life blood flowing weakly from his several wounds, the party cried out and he gained a single point of life that kept him from true death.
Partuur screamed in rage and shouted at Tempo to rise like the glorious heroes of old. Tempo staggered to his feet and shot a final vengeful arrow at the sorceress witch. The arrow screamed through the air and punched through plate and leather to strike at the wicked thing’s tiny heart. As she choked her last breath, Demetrius felt a cold chill run up his spine.
Emptied of enemies,the room offered very little of interest. Toshiro sneaked up the stairs, studying each floorboard and the door at the top for traps. He peeked through the slats on the ramshackle door and saw what he took to be the beggar king on a pile of pillows flanked by a pair of guards.
Drasak decided to check out the witch’s room, which was a veritable abattoir of necromancy and fetid horrors. A human head, crudely decapitated,a faint susurration of breath leaking from its livid mouth, stared at Drasak with pale dead eyes. Drasak withdrew from the room, the taint of unnatural evil clinging to his skin like nitre.
Demetrius walked into the room grandly and introduced the adventurers as emissaries from a thieves’ guild from a distant town. When the troupe marched in, the beggar king transformed before their eyes into a little girl, the two guards, only manikins. A trap door sprang open beneath Mouse. The careful plan degenerated into a disaster, so Charlie Tuna threw a dagger that lodged in the little girl’s back, causing her to fall forward heavily, her hand reaching for the bolt hole. Tempo rushed to her, and singing a children’s song soothed her into a careful wakefulness.
With a mixture of creepy suaveness and allure, Tempo convinced the little girl to tell all she knew. With tears and sniveling, the little girl admitted that several enemies waited below, that dark magics were in play, and that any attempt to rescue Mouse was doomed to sure defeat. Demetrius looked at the rest of the adventurers and growled, “Bring it on.”