The Arvan Game Pt. 24: Crossing Staffs

They intended to stay in town and “rest” for the 10 days that it would take for their commissioned gear to be ready for pickup. They spent the time going back and forth from their room in the Hammered Helmet and the beerhall located on the main street across from the market place. So around day 7 they were randomly shopping, checking out the shops and merchant tents in the marketplace when they saw a vendor being harassed by 4 Crossed-Staff thugs basically pulling a protection extortion racket. Both being good-guy (good aligned) characters they stepped in when it looked like they were going to beat the guy up which of course ended up in a brawl where two of the four thugs ended up dead. The other two fled and at the sound of the approaching guards our two heroes fled as well ducking into a dark alley as the guards ran by the shop-keeper unwilling to point them out. They were not alone.

Leaning against a wall with a nonchalant air about her was a pretty red-headed violet-eyed woman with half of her face concealed in shadow and a wave of red bangs. She was wearing an arming doublet, polished bronze bracers on her arms, and polished greaves on her legs. On her side was a rapier and what appeared to be two daggers on her arming belt.

Red-Haired Woman in a light Ivoran accent: “Nice Skills. So you’re the dragon-slayers I heard came into town. Suppose you have a few enemies.”

Neither answered, their grips creaked as they clutched their naked, bloody weapons. The players seriously considered just cutting her down. She just grinned from the visible corner of her mouth as they ran past her down the alley. After they broke into the street after wiping off their weapons and sheathing them in the alley Dead-Eye sighed, “I know I’m gonna regret not killing her.” Bers just shrugged.

They made a round about the town and after an hour of walking they returned to the marketplace and began to enter the beerhall when a masked man burst from the saloon doors bumping into Bers and as he ran away he hissed, “See you at dawn!”

A ruckus could be heard in the hall and when they entered they found a crowd surrounding the body of the man Bers had drank with (see Pt.23); the one in that had admitted to her, or rather bragged drunkenly, that he had made a big score and was wearing a mystical disguise. His throat had been slit and as they watched the ratlings which had accompanied him were also gathered about the corpse with worried looks on their faces and one snatched at the gold amulet around his bloodied neck and as soon as it was snatched and the ratlings coursed out of the hall the mystical disguise faded away. Bers and Dead both recognized the dead-man. He was crossbowman who was heading the ratling crossbowmen when they were ambushed at the border of the Falmark. He probably betrayed the gang when he saw how much the potions were worth that were in the chest they stole and having the loyalty of the ratlings he absconded in the night. As for sticking around in the gang’s territory that was due to his personality (cocky, Wildman, takes unnecessary risks). The duo dismissed it and sat down to eat. They returned to their room where Vorwulf was waiting and updated him on goings on and then went to sleep.

They were waked at dawn by someone yelling from outside and tossing stones at the windows. When they looked out bleary-eyed they saw a large group of Crossed-Staff thugs these armed with staffs with the Captain with the tattoo on his neck standing in front of them with the red-haired woman next to him apparently amused. They, all three, yelled back down in chorus, “What the hell do you want!”

The Captain: “Get down here and face us or we’re goin’ up there and drag you out!”

So the group quickly geared up, stomped down to the waterfront and the situation instantly became a standoff.

The Captain: “You killed my men we have witness!”

Dead-Eye: “They deserved it!”

Bers: “Grrr!”

Vor knocked an arrow and readied.

The Captain: “We want satisfaction!”

Dead-Eye: “A duel eh?”

Bers began to step forward but Dead-Eye stepped in front of her.

Dead-Eye: “Alright then who am I dueling?”

The Red-Haired Woman strode forward: “Me.”

All the non-combatants parted and formed lines behind their duelists. Dead-Eye armed himself with his longsword and bowie knife, a buckler with a large emerald strapped to his right arm. The woman drew a rapier and one of the daggers on her belt which flicked open revealing it to be a rapier-trident. With a wide smile she readied herself for the fight a sea breeze blew and the lock of bang that hid half of her face moved revealing a savage scar appearing as a ragged gash from her mouth to what was left of her ear.

The fight went for two rounds consisting of constant strike, parry, counter-strike and simultaneous attacks. The actual blows were few but powerful. Dead-Eye did suffer significant wounds killing the female duelist on his last attack in the second round. The Crossed-Staffs were visibly shaken which quickly turned to a smoldering hatred on their faces as they dragged her corpse and tossed it over the side after stripping it of all its gear. They parted in silence. The dragon-slayers waited there until they were gone and went to the White Star shop to buy some healing for Dead-Eye. They decided they were going to try to keep a low profile but on their way back from the healer they noticed a lot of travelers just getting into town from various lands some fairly far away and among them a fair amount of archers. When they asked around they found that in two days in Asternor across the river there was going to be an archery contest with a mysterious prize offered by Lord Vorahd to the winner. This definitely got both Dead-Eye’s and Vorwulf’s attention. They then pledged to keep a lower profile than they had been and made a beeline back to their room. They noticed they were being followed by the Crossed-Staff Captain a couple of lackeys in poor disguises.

After getting back inside they secured the room the best they could setting up sound traps on the door but neglecting the window, after Bers picked up a cask of ale from the beerhall that is. Then they hunkered down for the day and took turns keeping watch at night. The next morning Dead-Eye and Vorwulf left Bers in the room, she wanted to go to the beerhall but they told her no, and went out to pick up the dragon-bone quarrels and 2 quivers of arrows they had commissioned. Unbeknownst to them a ratling with a tattoo around its left eye was tailing them and watched them return to their room with the dragon-bone ammunition. They did however notice that they being followed again by some Crossed-Staffs in lousy disguises.

Dead-Eye: “That’s it.”

He and Vor marched up to the room and told Bers that they were going to the Prancing Pig.

Bers: “Yippee!”

They marched in and immediately all eyes went right to them and stuck the whole time that they were in there.

Cris (Dead-Eye’s player): “We’re showing these pukes we’re not afraid of them.”

There were six thugs at one end of the place around a hill-giant with a gold necklace gleaming on his neck and an iron staff against the wall next to him. At the table next to him and cuddled up to his shoulder was the Ferenoi (amazon) they had seen entering the place when they first found it. They didn’t see their former hirelings anywhere. They ordered ales but only pretended to sip on them and noticed that every time they did so every thug in the place leaned slightly forward in anticipation.

Cris: “We’re not stupid ya know.”

After about an hour the amazon walked over to their table, the one by the door, and pounded both her fists onto the soggy wood.

Ferenoi: “You! Hey you. What’s Yer name?”

Bers: “Me? Bers the dragon-slayer!”

Ferenoi: “Yeah? I’m Taga and see him?” She pointed to the giant. “He’s my man and you were staring.”

She went to punch Bers in the face and missed. Bers swung at her with a power punch as she jumped up from the table forcing the amazon to dodge the blow.

Taga: “You saw her! You all saw her! I want satisfaction NOW! OUTSIDE!”

The giant smiled and the thugs all snickered as Taga began to walk through the saloon-doors followed by Bers. When all were outside in front of the dive two thugs came out struggling with a solid steel double-ended spear which Taga lifted with a single hand it thudded loudly as she set one end to the ground. Dead-Eye said he was watching her back and nocked an arrow and as he did so the giant readied himself to act if Dead-Eye would make the “wrong” move. The duel began and it lasted only two rounds.

Taga was using her double-ended spear as paired weapon and Bers was using her newly acquired feat Counter Attack to full advantage. In the second round Bers was able to disarm Taga and being badly wounded she fell to her knees and surrendered.

Jenn: “Damn! I wish I wasn’t GOOD!”

The Crossed-Staff again humiliated went back into their drinking hole and the three triumphant adventurers went to the beerhall to have a celebratory round, Bers was not that badly wounded.

In the beerhall they again saw the red-bearded man in the grey cloak he seemed poised to approach their table his face displaying pure hostility. He was interrupted by a ratling, one in nothing but a loincloth and appearing scraggly and unkempt, a savage probably, ran up to him and whispered something into his ear. His fist pounded the table and he left the place with the little ratling leading, the man locked eyes with Dead-Eye. Bers and Vor noticed the ratling’s tattoo, the one around his eye.

That night during Bers’ watch sometime after midnight the window quietly opened and someone small stole into the room. Bers saw a ratling emerge from the shadows as it leapt to the window sill cradling 3 quivers in its arms. She shouted and swung at it missing as it hopped outside and Dead-Eye shoved his head outside and saw a trio of ratlings duck into an alley. One had looked back and as the light caught its eye he could see a tattoo, a tribal pattern, around its left eye. Dead-Eye didn’t even gear up before ran out into the streets shouting and trying to pick up a trail which he followed into the alley but lost it as it seemed the ratlings climbed a wall and fled over the roofs. They tried a few times more to pick up a trail but it was fruitless. Cris just kept repeating while staring at me, “Bastards, little f*@&ing bastards!”

They decided to depart for Asternor immediately.

Bers: “You don’t think that ratling has anything to do with the Crossed-Staffs do you?”

Dead-Eye: “They have to. Thieves for hire or something. The Crossed-Staffs aren’t going to call us out anymore, we have to watch our backs.”

Bers: “What if they aren’t the Crossed-Staffs?”

Dead-Eye: “They have to be.”

To Be Continued…

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