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Ratlings of Tanglethorn Pt.16: Judgement Night

Visual of the final confrontation with the roaches

It had been a week since the last street fight with the Roaches. Afheesh had just finished guard duty, already changed out of his colors, and bopping his way to the Dancing Rat. Surprisingly, it had been an interesting day. Near the end of the shift, he had ended up in the Bronze Tankard with his squad. Not much earlier, the ratling had single-handedly helped to avoid a confrontation between his squad and a group of Moth gang members. At the Bronze Tankard Afheesh paid for the entire squad’s drinks and on top of that, he had sprung for “the good stuff”.

Random Guard (the same one that started the trouble with the Moths earlier): “Haw, Haw! Didn’t know that ratlings were so RICH! Maybe next time we make your cut a little SMALLER! Haw, haw!

Afheesh (pulling one of his weapons): “Oh yeah! I’ll make YOURS a little smaller!”

Afheesh proceeded to try to mash the butt-spike of his troll-make weapon into the eye of the offender. The guard parried with his short-sword and their weapons locked.

Sergeant: “Knock it OFF! The ratling has purchased us some fine drinks!” He saluted Afheesh with his overflowing cup.

Afheesh holstered his dagger slapping over the offending guard’s full cup spilling it.

Afheesh (to the bartender and pointing at the rude guard): “I’m not paying for HIS!”

Afheesh strutted through the saloon doors of the Dancing Rat. Inside he spotted Wufcor (played by Isis) already bellied up to a table along with Needles (played by Natalie) and Sikeek (played by Jenn). Sikeek was in the middle of an all-day bender; she was flush with cash from gambling most of the day.

Wufcor motioned his fearless leader over. The canny-jack had been scoping out the alley where the Roaches had “handed them their  @$$es”. He had also been roaming through the series of alleys and streets for the past week that the Roaches had led them through that night. That path was the Roaches primary trafficking route for stolen goods and what-have-you. Because of his extra effort, Wufcor was eager to get to bloodletting. Afheesh cheerfully agreed.

Wufcor (angrily gulping down his jack): “Let’s go find us some Roaches!”

Sikeek: “Yeah! I have some bones to pick with them too!”

Later after dark, the ratling gang found themselves hiding in the alley across from the East Stacks and the Red Rose Well. They observed six Roaches (3 thugs and 3 gangsters) walk out of a side alley to loiter on the corner. Wufcor strained to listen in on their conversation. However, unable to control himself Afheesh immediately began to make a beeline, though prowling, directly to them. A second later Wufcor jaunted up to his side just before contact.

Wufcor: “Uhm. They’re on the lookout for three ratlings.”

Afheesh (yanking his troll-make weapons): “Well ain’t it their lucky day!”

Both ratling killers, undetected so far, leapt from the shadows each dropping a gangster before the Roaches knew what hit them.

One of the three Roach thugs frantically shouted a signal call and ran away towards the Stacks. Afheesh turned on the nearest gangster but the target easily parried his savage thrusts. Wufcor stabbed the same gangster in the back wounding him horribly. The blow forced the gangster to recuperate from the blow or drop immediately. Sikeek prowled around behind the remaining two thugs and got in a sneak attack against one wounding him bad. Sikeek easily avoided their clumsy retorts.

Afheesh fumbled one his weapons but stuck the other hilt-deep into the last gangster killing him instantly. Wufcor turned his attention towards the unhurt of the last two thugs and slashed him badly. The last two thugs turned and ran and the ratlings were ready to run them down but then heard the boots of reinforcements running in from all sides.

Dozens of Roach gangsters and thugs charged in from every alleyway flooding the plaza and crowding the area at the corner of the building that the ratlings had killed three of their brothers. Wufcor engaged a gangster who was able to keep up with the ratling’s speed and Sikeek got in a good blow on another but left only a scratch. A gangster covered in tattoos charged Afheesh. His dirk was easily parried. Another thug slashed at Sikeek striking only air. Yet another thug hurled himself recklessly at Wufcor and missed by a mile. Afheesh easily dropped the tattooed gang member.

Another thug attacked but missed Afheesh; Sikeek attacked another thug but got clinched. Another gangster struck at Afheesh with his dirk easily auto-dodging the ratling’s counter-attack. Afheesh then turned and killed another thug. Wufcor attacked the thug clinching Sikeek’s weapon wounding him badly, the bloodied street thug was determinedly keeping Sikeek’s weapon tied up no matter the cost. Afheesh dropped another Roach. There were now too many gang members to easily tell them apart. It was a mess of blood, struggling bodies, and death shrieks.

Even in this violent, tangled mass of humanity and ratling, our heroes could hear yet another wave of gang members running in all the while shouting, “it’s them! The ratlings! Get ‘em!” In response, Wufcor screamed, “Give me Phenor or there’ll be MORE bodies!” Immediately he dropped another thug with a single blow.

The ratlings found that in the current wave of Roaches their numbers were bolstered by knife-fighters using paired daggers. The numbers of thugs surrounding them precluded strategically focusing on any one target but instead flailing at the nearest foe. The storm of thirsty blades rained on the ratlings opening dozens of little cuts. Stomps, kicks, punches, everything from the gangsters was slowly bleeding and beating them down. Bouncing around between gangsters the ratlings transformed into bleeding bruised danger-balls with their flying blades finding random targets including eyes and testicles. However, the ratlings despite their wounds and suffering a few severe wounds from the knife-fighters continued hoping that victory was just a few more corpses away.

Suddenly, several quarrels thudded into the ground and walls near each ratling. Some of these appeared tipped with an oily poison.

Sikeek: “Aww crap! They have CROSSBOWS!”

Each ratling was close to losing consciousness from their wounds thus each decided to run for their lives. As they fled, they barely avoided the opportunistic knives of nearby foes. Once again, Afheesh found himself dropping barely conscious to the floorboards of the White Star healer’s guild. He looked over and found Needles standing over him soaking wet.

Needles (almost proud of himself): “I was hiding in a storm barrel.”

Natalie: “Seriously, no way I was gonna survive that.”

The next evening, Afheesh and his crew had gathered in the backroom of a shop backed by the Obsidian Brotherhood Mage Guild. Out front below the signboard hung another sign escutcheon shaped and painted brown with a black border and a golden eye at the center. The seal of the brotherhood. They were meeting with the owner, a mage by the name of Cankilnor. The fragile old man was dark of skin and in the drab plain brown robes common to his order. The ratlings were taking their turns making their marks on a scroll that the wizard had presented them at their leader’s behest.

Earlier, Afheesh had shirked guard duty and found a mage after he had had an idea. It turned out that he could get the old mage to cast a spell that could grant him a vision of his lost weapon and use it to track whoever had it, presumably the Roaches if not their Mantck leader. However, it would cost him 2,800 gold pieces or 56,000 bronze thorns. Nevertheless, the wizard had offered him an exchange. It was that he and his crew were to steal a tome bound in black dragon’s hide from one Malrig. This mage currently resided in a tower at the northwest corner of the Tin Well block. He and his crew would have to sign a pact of sorts, a Geas Quest. The rest of the crew could split a 5,000 bt reward amongst themselves after the job was done. Of course, the 5,000 was coming straight from Afheesh’s pocket.

Afheesh did understand what a Geas was generally, his crew did not and all signed. It was not long after that they were all on their way to Malrig’s tower. They were in view of the four story square tower its plastered exterior painted in yellow and black bands with red and spirals. However, just as they had gathered in its shadow and were contemplating a plan of attack…

Scarred Mantck Bounty Hunter (drawing his paired rune inscribed scimitars): “Well it was easy to find all of ya, probably be just as easy to kill all ya too!”

Behind the bounty hunter were a dozen charging Roach gangsters. Out of nowhere, Needles screeching a war cry leapt out and did a flying punch against the lead thug. He bounced off dealing no damage.

Cris the GM (to Natalie): “What!? Where’s all your ninja gear!? You have some bad @ss ninja stars that I gave you too!”

Natalie: “Oh all that’s back in my nest, I don’t want any of these people to know that I’m a ninja they’re evil.”

Isis (commenting on Needles total lack of a weapon): “Oh yeah I took my dagger back so I could sell it! Hah HAH!”

Needles was in reality a Moon Rat, the Arvanian version of a ninja along with specialized equipment and armor. Natalie had decided when roleplaying her character that Needles would strive to keep all of that secret from everybody.

Afheesh charged the Mantck with a pair of powerful strikes. Both attacks simply swept aside. As a result of the charge, the Mantck struck back at Afheesh and the ratling barely auto-dodged both blades. Sikeek struck at a nearby gangster who parried her blow. Needles bouncing around easily dodging the strikes aimed his way but got nailed by a natural 20. The blow forced Needles back to recover. Another gangster buried his dirk to the hilt in Afheesh getting in a lucky gut-shot wounding the ratling badly. A wave of knife blows fell all around the ratlings fortunately missing them all.

Afheesh dropped a nearby gangster. The Mantck struck again at Afheesh but the Quickling easily dodged (Natural 20). Wufcor turned on the Mantck and jabbed him good but leaving only a scratch. Sikeek dropped a gangster. Another storm of blades fell on the ratlings from the large group of Roaches. Needles was nearly killed but was able to endure long enough to run away (he rolled a natural 20 recovery). Afheesh dropped another gangster. The Mantck scored a double hit on Afheesh wounding him horribly. The rune covered scimitars glowed evilly and the Quickling realized he was no longer as quick as he had once been. The Mantck swung at Wufcor missing both times and then backed out of the pile up and drank a healing potion healing him completely.

The Mantck bounty hunter charged back smashing his magic weapons in a double-weapon power attack at the ratling leader catching Afheesh completely off guard (Natural 1 auto-dodge). The paired blades sheared through the little ratling’s scant flesh and fragile bones. Before either of the two halves of his corpse hit the ground and as his fading vision beheld his companions in full retreat, his last thought was, “Heh, Geas Quest, at least those wimps will soon be joining me in HELL!”

The End

Campaign Played between September 2017 and February 2018

Rats of Tanglethorn Pt.15: Gangsters in Paradise

colors of roach gangsters

Early evening over the city of Tanglethorn, the dimming sky was aflame with yellow, red, pink, and smoky orange. Already a deep bluish gloom shrouded the narrow alleys completely and the already long shadows of buildings flowed like widening black rivers on either side of the wide paved boulevards. Along these murky paths, the group moved through the streets like the murderous thieves in the night that they were in pursuit of gangsters. The group of shadows led by Afheesh (played by me), was followed by a zigzagging Wufcor (played by Isis), the pad foot Sikeek (played by Jenn) taking up the rear.

Afheesh had thought that the scrawny Needles (played by Natalie) had not been able to keep up but was proven wrong when the group came to a stop under cover and where they had a superior vantage, behind some rain barrels. Needles had just appeared from seemingly nowhere when Afheesh turned to survey his troops.

The ratlings had been tracking a small group of low-level Roaches (a little history and a little more). The street thugs led them to an old tree growing near the thorn wall to the far east  of the city but still adjacent to the East Stacks. However, there the small gang of five thugs had joined a contingent of 10 full-fledged gangsters hanging around the tree where a human, presumably Phenor the Knife, leader of the Roaches conversed with a Mantck with a cutlass at each hip. Undoubtedly, that was Ikeek the Roach lieutenant.

Afheesh: “I guess they’re planning something. Let’s hang abouts and wait until they get on the move.”

Sikeek: “Then what?”

Afheesh: “Then we follow ‘em wait until it’s time to strike and go after the leaders and kill ‘em.”

Wufcor: “Yeah! Let’s kill ‘em all!”

Sikeek: ‘What are you CRAZY? There’s too many, they’ll kill us all!”

Needles: ‘Yeah. Especially me.”

Afheesh (turning to Sikeek initially): “Shut up you. By the way, that’s what the RIGHT TIME means! Now shut up and follow.”

Soon half of the gangsters broke off towards the west end with the Cutlass leading. Thus, the ratlings decided to follow them. Meanwhile, Afheesh kept an eye on Needles as they traveled in silence and recognized the wimp’s superior stealth, even when compared to his own. He became suspicious of the slight ratling.

The Roaches stopped in the plaza of the Pink Rose well to the north of the Pit. Subsequently, they walked to a tree across the street from where the group of ratling adventurers hid in an alley. Three merchants emerged from a nearby doorway and rushed south. Their multicolored silk robes ruffled and their cheap bronze jewelry clinked. Consequently, the gangsters and the ratlings followed them all the way to Mezcor’s Tower where the Roaches relaxed and waited.

Not even the Roaches were going to interfere in the paying of Mezcor’s tribute. The gates slowly creaked open by themselves as the last purple-red flames of dusk faded into night. So the lead merchant tossed a bag of coins onto the white flagstones of the forbidden courtyard and exhaled a sigh of relief. That was when he noticed the gangsters and he and his two cohorts began to move at a more rapid pace south pushing past and through other merchants that were converging on Mezcor’s black tower.

The gangsters kept up and the ratlings kept pace with them. During the moderately paced chase, it seemed to Afheesh and Wufcor that the gangsters knew that they were being followed. However, suddenly both ratlings and Sikeek spotted another group of five thugs with the Roaches leader waiting in an alley just ahead of the merchants. In an instant, the merchants were surrounded and pleading for a cheap exit.

Afheesh: “That’s it! Let’s get ‘em!”

Wufcor: “Alright!”

Sikeek: *exasperated sigh*

Needles (drowsily): “Well. Okay.”

A thug charges Afheesh missing by a mile with his dagger. Ignoring this lesser enemy, Afheesh in turn charged the Mantck leader but both of his weapons were easily parried. Wufcor stabbed a thug with his new dirk drawing some blood. Seeing that, Sikeek flanked the same opponent and nailed him with her dagger severely wounding him. Several of the thugs tried to overwhelm Sikeek and Wufcor with a rain of slashing blades but the ratlings avoided their clumsy strikes. Meanwhile, Afheesh and the Mantck fell into a lightning round of simultaneous attacks and counters leaving the Mantck barely scratched by a powerful blow and Afheesh suffering multiple, deep wounds.

The Mantck attacked again, Afheesh tried to anticipate but failing that tried to intervene with a final simultaneous attack but although wounding the Mantck badly he was also barely standing having failed to intercept the paired blows. Consequently, Wufcor rushed in and buried his blade in the Mantck’s back wounding him horribly. A mass of thugs surrounded and attacked the trio of adventurers from all sides while the Mantck was able to withdraw and drink a healing potion. Additionally, the ratlings could see Phenor, the Roach leader, whistle and be joined by five more full-fledged gangsters.

The trio of raltings was overwhelmed as Phenor and his gangsters attacked. In short, from the very first blow, the ratlings were obviously outnumbered. A series of parrying multiple blows and barely defending against the higher level and better-equipped gangsters ensued. However, Phenor attacked and nearly killed Sikeek with a single blow. She dropped to the ground and Afheesh moved in and slashed the gang leader. So, Wufcor ran away. At the edge of utter and thorough defeat, Afheesh roared and redoubled his attacks.

The Quickling managed to avoid the flurry of blows made at him lucking out when a few thugs had to retreat after fumbling their weapons. Vastly outnumbered he fought head-to-head with their leader, wounding him but nearly killed by a glancing blow. Then, suddenly, Phenor caught hold of one of his hook guard daggers with his knife and disarmed the ratling. Fortunately, Afheesh had been fighting with his old weapons and not the new troll-make daggers. It was obvious that the ratling in his current state and under these circumstances was no match for Phenor especially as he was without a single ally and outnumbered.

Because of his utter desperation, the ratling gritted his yellow teeth and dashed for freedom avoiding knife-blow after knife-blow leaving the brief battle behind. As a result of this flight, Phenor strutted after roaring in triumph through his broken teeth, every muscle in his slender frame flexed to bursting. Later, Afheesh flopped onto the floor of the nearest White Star guild. There he also met up with Wufcor. Here also was Needles.

Afheesh (to Needles): “Where the HELL were you!?”

Needles (shrugging): “Hiding. I ran away when I saw Wufcor running.”

Afheesh: “You spent the whole battle HIDING.”

Needles: “It’s what I’m good at.”

Isis (thumbing towards Natalie): “Yup, she’s really good at it; I’ve seen her character sheet.”

Immediately after his restoration, Afheesh dashed back to the scene to retrieve Sikeek who was barely alive. He also noted that his hook-guard dagger was gone, taken probably by a gang member after the fight. Back at the guild house, Wufcor paid for Sikeek’s healing. It later turned out that Wufcor had pickpocketed Sikeek on the way to the fight and used that money for his own and Sikeek’s healing costs.

Jennifer: “Aww man! They looted my body!”

Isis: *shrug*

Sikeek (to Wufcor): “Hey! Do you have any money I could borrow to buy new stuff?”

Afterwards, thoroughly beaten down, the four split up and limped off to their respective rented rooms. Needles slipped off to a hollow in the Thorn Ring amongst its thorns, a traditional thorn-runner nest. As a precaution, Afheesh switched establishments that night from the Long Rest Inn to the Yellow Lotus Inn.

The Quickling struggled for sleep although he was more than exhausted. He could not stop yearning for vengeance not just against the Roaches but Ikeek the double-cutlass and Phenor the knife. He would not stop until they were dead. His last try at sleep was ultimately successful. After all, he had guard duty in the morning.

To Be Continued…