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The Cabal of Eight II: Introduction

A cabal enemy the Checkered Knights
Symbol of the Checkered Knights

This campaign is the continuation of The Cabal of Eight. So, for those who did not read the first half, it takes place in the city of Ezmer at the tip of the Ezmerian headland extending into the Silverset Sea. This sphere is collectively named Ezmeria. All characters are mages and involved in a secret cabal with the mission of enriching members and gaining influence.

The Player Characters are Fauna a Druid played by Jenn, Szoosha a Black-Scale Naga fire elementalist and high-strung paranoiac played by Isis, and Excor a Mage played by Cris. Fauna is a young Southlander woman, dark-skinned, red-haired with violet eyes, and a demonstrable tendency towards hotheadedness. Excor is a young Ivoran mage but still dresses and tries to speak as a Westlander. Although he has a tendency to being a schemer and gambler, he has found the rat fights are magnetic more so than any gaming table. Above all, his secret of being of noble blood remains unknown to Fauna and Szoo.

Nearly a full month and a week and a half have passed since our fine adventurers had last had an adventure. The story thus far is Captain Nelig, the captain of the gate guard has finished his lessons in training Fauna horsemanship, Virtra Wefa and her man-servant have since drank poison in lieu of execution, and Xanto the Wasp and his pupil, Ilna of Nezorik aka Bumble, have made themselves scarce as a result of their shady actions.

In addition, Belrae the cabal “leader” and Riahm, his right hand, have become somewhat secretive with the other cabal members and have seemingly struck up some sort of business relationship with Draega Skullshine, the publican of the Red Helm Tavern and all around shady person. The Bronze Heads as well have been keeping an obvious eye on our heroes whenever they wander the Eastern District and Old Town. The gang has been deliberately obvious but has otherwise left the adventuring mages alone.

On a positive note, Jirek the secretary of the cabal maintains his friendship with our heroes and Paej, Szoo’s primary contact in the city, has managed to purchase her own ship. Apparently, she used her life savings being a successful and avid gambler as well as saloon bum. The ship is named the Angry Sea-Lion and is an 8-oar Feren Merchant with a triple rig of a Thrahssk’ Tradesman (Arvan pg.103) and an artemon foresail with a small rear cabin.

Helpful map for a wagon trip
Ezmeria

Rat fight season, winter, is 3 months away though the weekly exhibitions continue under the wall with Excor and Szoo occasionally entering a “good candidate” from their stable and watching and betting more often. So far, no real progress on the rat-fighting front. Both PCs are however looking forward to full on fighting season.

Gornix the salt lotus wizard (played by Gil) was understandably AWOL since the Black Knight (aka the White Swan, Sir Illin) was still seeking his blood. None of the cabal members has seen much less heard from him in about a month. Although Excor has seen a courier, a foreigner of Ivoran extraction, with the same salt lotus imagery on his cloak asking about town for his missing friend.

However, rumors have it that the Black Swan, the white knight (Sir Illjin), and the brotherhood of knights that they lead, the Checkered Knights, had gotten into a scrap after setting up a sting on an assassin named Ssthriss when he made an attempt to kill the head of the Gold Sashes (political party). They pursued him into the area around the Rum Palace where he evaded them. The Black Knight decided to stay and keep the heat on the assassin as well as Gornix. The white knight and his men have left Ezmer sailing north after receiving word that a Creschan ship has sailed carrying a secret weapon back called Creschan Fire back to friendly territory.

With naga bar marked
Straight from the GM notebook; Map of the City of Ezmer

Fauna, Excor, and Szoosha found themselves stumbling home from an ale-soaked dinner at the Red Helm down a narrow alley headed home. Hence, they were about half the distance home when Fauna and Excor noticed a beggar in a grey cloak following them. He ducked into a side alley as soon as they turned around. Immediately Szoo whipped around and charged in the man’s direction…

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…

Rats of Tanglethorn Pt.14: Wicked Blades

A readied blade whooshed past Wufcor’s head. Afheesh (played by yours truly) charged the human fighter one of his paired psi-like weapons parried easily as the second found its target. The human fighter winced trying to back further into the room as the ratlings flooded in. Sikeek (played by Jenn) dashed into the gap and buried her dagger to the hilt in his side. Blood ran all over the floor even so the fighter in bronze plate gritted his teeth, stopped, and stood his ground.

Wufcor (played by Isis) leapt back in and caught him under the arm blood spurting everywhere as the evil ratling laughed. The fighter swung his sword desperately at Sikeek who was still angling for an opening in her opponent’s defenses. He missed by a hair. Again, Afheesh jumped in one of his weapons getting clinched by the fighter’s longsword the other, however, rammed into the human’s throat. As a result, the fighter dropped immediately to his knees as a pained expression came over his clean features. Afheesh tore his weapon free; the fighter dropped dead face first into a sea of his own blood. Sikeek rushed to the door and shut it.

Sikeek: “Well, we need our privacy!”

Wufcor: “Yeah, we need to take our time and REALLY rip this place off GOOD!”

Afheesh (motioning towards the two shut doors to the left and the two openings to the right): “Shhh! Let’s do this.”

Subsequently, Afheesh prowled gracefully to the nearest opening and peeked around the jamb. Inside the other well-lit room sat a table spread with three still steaming plates of food, each meal lying partially eaten. After that, Wufcor glided up to the next opening finding the kitchen and the cook cowering in a corner. Before anyone could say a word, the vicious ratling slit the rotund and elderly man’s throat.

Jenn (frowning at Isis): “Y’know sometimes you make me wonder about you.”

Isis (laughing evilly): “WHAT!? Wufcor’s EVIL! He LOVES to slit throats and smell the blood!”

Me (highly focused on the mission): “Besides it’s witness elimination. HE wasn’t who I’m lookin’ fer.”

Jenn shook her head.

The fiendish group of thieves then turned their attentions to the two doors. Both locked. So Wufcor went to work on one and Afheesh put Sikeek to work on the other. Soon enough, Wufcor got his door open and found behind it an expensively stocked study. Meanwhile, Sikeek opened the lock on the door in which Afheesh was interested. The scrawny saloon bum stepped aside and Afheesh excitedly kicked open the door finding a bedchamber. Hiding under the bed Afheesh found his target, a terrified young woman. He withdrew a small vial of sleep toxin and tipped one of his weapons with the noxious oil.

Before long, the prize was unconscious and slung over the surprisingly muscular shoulders of the villainous Afheesh as he lowered himself into the streets via a rope through a window. He left any booty to be found in the apartment for the others to despoil. Anyway, they were  too focused on a strange chest in the study to even notice his leaving.

Later that night, Afheesh waited as the fearsome shadowy form of the troll known as Snotnack rose from the mouth of the Green Well. Shortly the troll was inspecting the sleeping woman the ratling had at his feet.

Snotnack (all the while sniffing her): “Hmmmm, this very fine woman little ratling. She is high quality.”

Snotnack immediately turned to the ratling with one greasy lice-sprinkled black eyebrow raised.

Snotnack: “Where you get her? Huh!? She no wizard woman huh!?”

Afheesh (very nervous): “No no, she’s alone, her um betrothed was a warrior, I killed him. Heh heh.”

Snotnack (stroking his gross chin): “Hmmm. Okay, here.”

                The troll tossed the ratling a small bundle. Grabbing up his prize Snotnack slunk back into the depths of the Tanglethorn underworld. Afheesh was long gone for the reason that he did not want the troll to change his mind. When he though he was far enough away to be safe the ratling criminal undid the bundle and found a pair of highest quality, heavy, razor-sharp, serpentine bladed hook-guard knives. The wrap on the grips was some sort of exotic leather, he guessed human though he did not know for sure. Most notably, the exquisitely balanced troll-make blades each had a nasty butt-spike. Expertly, the ratling twirled his weapons into their sheathes.

                Now, utterly self-satisfied, Afheesh finally strolled to the Dancing Rat tavern where he met up with Needles (played by Natalie). He sidled up to his new and often-absent recruit at the bar and called the runt “a loser”. Needles suddenly leapt onto the bar as he had done when they first met and performed a perfect backflip, he even managed to easily avoid Afheesh’ attempt to hook his ankle and trip him. The slight ratling even convincingly lied telling Afheesh that he had been drunk before. Afheesh was puzzling over what secrets the “fodder” might harbor as he drank his tankard. After finishing a single round of strong ale, Afheesh left to retire to his room.

Come morning and another predictable shift of guard duty above the gate Afheesh lined up for his previous shift’s pay at the bursar’s office. After several minutes of waiting, he had finally come to the bursar’s desk and had just received his pay when he consequently noticed a large wanted posted pasted to the wall behind the desk. The poster boasted drawings that had a passing resemblance to both Sikeek and Wufcor.

 The quickling inquired about the poster. Apparently, those two were wanted for attempted burglary, murder, and the suspected kidnapping of a Mage of the Red Robe’s mistress. The pair had been caught by the mage in question trying to push a rather large and heavy spell-locked chest out of a window. Fortunately, the incompetent thieves had gotten their ill-gotten gains stuck. They got away with nothing. Hence, the reward was currently at 500 gold pieces.

The Stacks highlighted in gray.

“Useful information”, Afheesh thought to himself briefly having weighed the profits of betrayal against his companions’ current value to his plans. He thanked the bursar and ran to join a patrol in the Stacks, the stacks being large blocks of tall apartment buildings in the northwest and northeast corners of the city and the known territory of the Roaches street gang. He needed some intel on the Roaches.

Later that evening, while Afheesh stripped off his uniform and geared up for the streets he contemplated some newly acquired information. There were two leaders in the Stacks, Ikeek a double-cutlass wielding Mantck and Phenor the Knife. The latter was a human who rarely ventured out from Roach territory. Either could be found around the East Stacks with the other at the West Stacks on a typical night. Ikeek often hung at the East Stacks near a large tree extorting the local merchants that had to pass through there.

It was not long after that Afheesh was dragging his lackeys to the East Stacks in search of a fight.

To Be Continued…

We are Coming Off Hiatus

A little delayed…

Sometime this month Ranger Games Publishing is coming off hiatus. We are moved in, set up, and ready to start back up. Delays include the publish date of The Armatelorum: Folio of Ancient & Medieval Arms & Armor. However, the book is quickly moving into the first proofing stage. The other planned books for this year will continue forward along a delayed timeline. Keep an eye on our Upcoming Releases page for more info!

The last few entries of the Rats of Tanglethorn will begin again in May. I have been planning a couple of more articles on RPG theory but those may be put on hold depending on how well I can develop those topics in the given time frame. Technically, we are off hiatus but it is tough to get things rolling again quickly.

Going on Hiatus

We are going on hiatus so the last few entries of the Rats of Tanglethorn will be delayed. This also affects the publication of the Armatelorum delaying it by a week or two. The reason is that we are currently in the process of moving to temporary digs. Other projects scheduled for this year will be delayed by about a month but so far, that is the limit of the impact on our publishing schedule. Regular posts will start back up in about two to three weeks if all goes well. However, regular site management and maintenance will be unaffected.

Inquiries during this time may also experience a delay in reply as well as any associated social media. The hiatus will last around two weeks and after that, another may follow when moving into a permanent location.

In the meantime, we hope you will continue to follow our posts, browse our archives, and patronize our publications.

Sincerely,

Robert A. Neri Jr.

Rats of Tanglethorn Pt.13: Walking on Needles

After a forced march around the parade ground and a breakfast of fruit, veggies, and bread in the mess, Afheesh (played by your dear narrator) went to the bursar. He collected the previous day’s pay, 95 bronze thorns (it would have been 100 but for the 5% Mezcor tithe). He spent the rest of the morning atop the thorns above the gates spotting for incoming caravans.

Less than an hour into the shift on the battlements, the rest of the guards, Thorn-runner ratlings like him, were asleep. In frustration, Afheesh approached the ratling wearing the captain’s helm, also snoring in a dirty corner. The helmet was a bronze peaked open helm with a thorn design around the edges and a faded and ratty red-dyed horsetail, there was a groove just above the brow for a turban wrap, which was missing. Portions of the bronze were badly tarnished other spots were polished to mirror shine. The helmet did sport some signs of combat, blade gashes and multiple dents, all old and oxidized.

The snoring ratling once wakened turned over the helmet without argument. When Afheesh shouted out commands it only elicited grumbles and groans from the rest, so he spent the time marching up and down the guard walk occasionally glancing outside. All was business as usual.

When his shift was finally over, Afheesh went to return the captain’s helmet.

Formerly Snoring Ratling: “Just toss it in the corner. That’s where I found it. The sun was in my eyes there so…”

He stumbled off leaving Afheesh standing there looking perplexed. Eventually Afheesh threw the worn helm against a wall putting a new dent into the old bronze. He left in a huff.

Later, after first stopping by the White Rose Perfumery to purchase some sleep-poison, Afheesh met up with his cohorts at the inn for some dinner. Then they made their way to the Caskroom. There was a single remaining target to eliminate there, the bartender. It was not long before Wufcor (played by Isis) and Afheesh were engaged in a full-blown fight versus the bartender and the cook, the latter armed with a longsword. Meanwhile, Sikeek (played by Jenn) was off picking pockets of the onlooker mercenaries that populated the rear tables and benches.

After the ratlings already slaughtered the two bar-backs, the mercenaries jumped up and pursued Sikeek and Wufcor who were fleeing through the back door. Unseen, Afheesh broke off and ran out of the front door, then turned, shouted, and laughed at the mercs distracting them long enough for his other two coconspirators to flee.

The next day Afheesh got himself onto a patrol that protected the streets around “the good blocks” and took the opportunity to familiarize himself with the place. The day went slowly until a fight broke out in the Blue Lotus Well plaza among street toughs, the captain let them go after they paid a hefty “fine” which he cut the rest of the guards in on, Afheesh’s cut was 30 bronze thorns. Eventually, Afheesh was able to spot his goal, a young woman who presumably lived alone in one of the apartments. He had taken note of the building and got her apartment number by stalking her. He could feel his new troll-make weapons in his grubby little claws already.

After his shift was over, Afheesh went to the Last Rest Inn to his room to change his outfit. Afterwards, he walked to the Dancing Rat to try to find the other two. As he entered the rowdy establishment, he spotted a female ratling leaving with a familiar backpack cradled in her paws. As a result, he barred her way and did everything he could to try to snatch the pack back. However, she was highly agile and dodged nearly everything he could throw at her. Nevertheless, she had to drop the pack to recover from a successful trip when he hooked one of her legs with one of his weapons.

Afheesh snatched up his companion’s presumably stolen backpack. He introduced himself to the she-rat impressed with her skills. Her name was “Riknik” and she was not interested in working for anybody but herself. With that, she turned to run. Afheesh snatched one of five coin purses at random in the pack and tossed it to her before she ran away.

Afheesh: “Here! You earned this!”

Riknik (as she ran): “I owe you nothing!”

Afheesh shrugged.

Sure enough, when Afheesh entered the place he immediately spotted Wufcor asleep with his head on a table. Riknik, if that indeed was her name, had drugged him.

Later, Sikeek and Afheesh were dragging an unconscious Wufcor through the streets to Afheesh’s room at the Last Rest Inn. Suddenly, charging them from an alley buried in garbage came three giant centipedes.

Me (at GM Cris):  “Again!?”

GM Cris:  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The battle was brief but Wufcor was almost dragged away to be eaten. Eventually they got their companion to the room. Morning came and they parted ways once again pledging to make the Dancing Rat their common meeting place.

On the way to guard duty, Afheesh passed by a sanctioned duel with a green robe behind each fighter. It was a disappointingly quick match. The two brothers of the Green Well exchanged two handfuls of gold.

Afheesh (laughing derisively): “With that much money changing hands you’d think you’d get better fighters! Aha-ha-ah! I could’a taken ‘em both on! Aha-ha-ha-ha!”

All the ratling got in passing were several dirty looks. Afheesh served out his guard duty at the West Gate and in the course of the afternoon accepted a bribe from some Troll Boy gang members earning a 75 bronze thorn “bonus”. Later, he went to the Dancing Rat finding his companions there. Sikeek was drunk after losing a drinking contest sitting alongside another scrawny ratling named Needles (played by Natalie). Wufcor was sitting next to them quietly drinking keeping his drinking jack close.

Afheesh (to Needles): “So, you have any skills?”

Needles: “Aw yeah, I got all the skills! What you need, I got it! I’m good with weapons and I could balance on a leaf!”

Needles back-flipped easily onto the tabletop and Afheesh easily tripped him by hooking his ankle. Having fallen face-first, Needles suffered a bloody nose. In disgust, especially as Needles started to cry, Afheesh turned his back on the scrawny ratling and addressed the other two.

Afheesh: “We have a mission let’s go!”

Sikeek grumbled as she rose from her seat.

Sikeek (motioning to the bawling Needles): “Come along, you’re good for a laugh.”

Afheesh (mumbling angrily): “And for fodder.”

On the way to their goal, five giant cockroaches swarmed from the Blue Well itself. The fight did not last long but Needles proved himself very inefficient in combat. He was unarmed and punching the giant bugs doing nothing but annoying his enemies and allies until Wufcor tossed him a dirk. Needles killed the last with a single blow. However, as he almost died from a single bite he ran off to the nearest White Star guild. The others continued on their way to the target apartment.

After sneaking past guards and picking the lock on the door, the ratlings prepared to burgle the place. However, after carefully opening the door so that there would be no sound a human fighter in a bronze chest-plate, a full bronze helm, and short sword confronted them.

Us (the players): “What!? Really!?”

GM Cris: “Hey, he natural 20’d the listen when you guys approached the door.”

To Be Continued…

Rats of Tanglethorn Pt.12: Petty Vengeance

The pair of guards walked in, one with a bottle of wine, the other placing the key in his satchel. He lit an oil Murder D20lamp and then set to lighting the fireplace. Afheesh (played by yours truly) from just up inside of the flue, could hear the second guard pop and pour the wine. He was shaking with anticipation. His vengeance was soon at hand. Two thuds on the floor indicated that their helmets were off.

The first grabbed some logs from the woodpile next to the fireplace. Just as the first guard knelt down to place the first log into the hearth, Afheesh picked a chunk of cinder from the inside of the chimney and flung it down. Of course, the first guard poked his head in to check it out.

Suddenly, Afheesh dropped down and stabbed him in the neck. Wufcor (played by Isis) leapt from his hiding place under a table stabbing the reeling guard in the back. Sikeek (played by Jenn) sprung from her dark corner and stabbed the wine guard who then snatched a fighting spear from the wall. Afheesh redoubled his efforts against the first guard nailing him again but the guard’s chainmail absorbed most of the damage. Sikeek moved in on the other guard and slashed him.

Wufcor struck at the first guard wounding him badly. He in turn pulled the spiked mace from his belt and desperately swung the weapon at Wufcor accidently smashing a small table. The second guard struck at Sikeek with his spear barely missing. Afheesh ran the first guard through with both of his weapons killing him instantly. He and Wufcor then turned their attentions towards the spear-bearer.

Sikeek struck out and got a good hit in on the spear-bearer. Wufcor ran in and jabbed him in the back causing the blood to run. He thrust at Sikeek catching her in the belly. The small ratling stumbled backward from the fight (requiring a recovery check to keep from dropping). Afheesh leapt in missing with one weapon and hitting with the other but again the guard’s armor lessened the blow significantly. Wufcor tried to get in the last stab but tripped over his own feet. The spear-bearer lunged at Sikeek once again but missed then swung the butt of his weapon around and smashed her in the skull. Sikeek stumbled back once again nearly passing out.

Afheesh lashed out with both of weapons but the haft of the guard’s spear easily parried both blows away. Wufcor moved in and stabbed him again. He thrust then swung with the butt of his spear but missed both times. Afheesh landed the killing blow through the guard’s clumsy defense (a Natural 1 parry).

The blood was still pooling as the trio of ratlings looted the place and cracked the lock off a chest. They absconded with 5 gold talons, 6,000 bronze thorns, a low-quality bullwhip with a butt-spike, a silver ear-cuff, and a high quality dirk.

Thinking that no one was looking, Sikeek found a secret compartment at the bottom of the chest discovering a gold and ruby ring, and a sack of 6,000 bronze thorns and 4 gold talons.

Afheesh (to Sikeek): “Good, we each get more shares!”

Sikeek: “But I found this…”

Afheesh: “And we both saw you. So now, it’s group shares. Besides you’re a hired dagger or would you rather be dead?”

Sikeek (turning over the loot to Wufcor): “Aww man.”

Meanwhile, Wufcor tried to get away with the 900 bronze thorns he found on the corpses to Afheesh’s chagrin.

Wufcor: “Don’t kill me boss! See, I’m putting it in the group PILE!”

Afheesh gritted his teeth and the trio began to file out into the street after vacating the apartment building. However, just as they broke out onto the street they ducked swiftly back into the cover of a shadowed corner. A gang of roaches with a Mantck leader was out front obviously looking for trouble. There were too many to deal with at this point. The ratlings easily snuck past the gangsters and proceeded to travel to their other mark’s home in another apartment building to the south.

Soon enough, the trio clustered around a sturdy locked wooden door in a narrow plastered ill-lit hallway. There were only a couple of clay chamber pots set outside the doors aside for the sparse lamp lit niches in the walls. The smell was not pleasant.

Afheesh (to Sikeek): “Okay thief, get to crackin’ that lock.”

Sikeek: “Hey, c’mon guys, we already have money. Let’s just get outta here.”

Afheesh: “No…hey weren’t you badly wounded a little while ago?”

Jenn: “Yeah, healing potions. That guy almost killed me in a single hit TWICE back there!”

Sikeek: “So, I really don’t wanna go in there guys. C’mon, we already got some cash…I need to roll some BONES!”

Wufcor (flashing a piece of quartz to Sikeek): “Betcha can’t open that lock.”

The Canny-Jack (Wufcor) put his ear to the door as Sikeek went to work on the lock.

Again, Wufcor (in a hushed tone): “Hmm…I think I can hear him. Sounds like he’s messing with …metal stuff?”

Sikeek kept trying the lock but its artisanship kept evading her skill. After three tries at it, finally the click of success tweaked their twitching ears.

Wufcor: “Hmmm..I don’t hear anything anymore. … Um. What’re we gonna do?”

Afheesh had his back against the wall opposite the door ready to pounce. He was huffing in the foul air of the hallway with every deep breath. His needed to quell his thirst for vengeance.

Afheesh (through clenched teeth, yeah he knew this was a bad idea): “Let’s do this.”

Sikeek slowly opened the door while trying to stay under cover. The door came to a creaking stop and revealed the guardsmen, their target, in full chainmail wielding a bronze shield and a great sword replete with bronze great helm.

Guardsman: “You Ratling thieves have come to die eh!?”

What ensued was a deadly dance of whirling weapons, lightning reflexes, and sheer luck. Eventually, Wufcor buried his blade in the guardsman’s kidney nearly killing him then Afheesh followed up with a paired weapon strike ultimately downing their prey. Their enemy had not landed a single blow in two full rounds of combat. Afheesh felt some satisfaction standing over the body of the last guard against whom he had pledged vengeance. Vengeance indeed tasted sweet. However, he was now also eager to hurt the Roaches in any way possible.

As before, the ratlings ransacked the place, again finding a chest, and again breaking the lock and absconding with a fat sack of coin. Inside they had found a bag of 4,000 bronze thorns, a bone pipe with a bowl carved into an eagle’s head, a pouch of high quality smoking herbs, and 5 gold talons. They also looted 400 bronze thorns from the corpse. The three eventually landed in a room, rented by Afheesh, at the Last Rest Inn where they split the take. Afheesh netted 4,566 bronze thorns, 4 gold talons, and took the silver ear cuff. “Not a bad start”, he thought.

After the dividing of the spoils, Afheesh and Wufcor decided to cut Sikeek in on a standard share instead of paying her thereby welcoming her into the crew. Shortly thereafter Wufcor and Sikeek left. The latter mentioning something about getting “one more game in” before dawn. Afheesh settled in for some well-deserved rest. Thoughts of making the Roaches suffer never far from his mind.

To Be Continued…

Rats of Tanglethorn Pt.11: Dagger for Hire

A few days later, the pair of ratling villains, Afheesh (played by yours truly) and Wufcor (played by Isis), walked through the crowded streets at evening. The pair neared the plaza of the Blue Well and the Dancing Rat Tavern. They were going to drown their sense of loss in a sea of cheap booze. Even possibly work off some frustration in low stakes fights there and then maybe start recruiting for their own gang. The roguish pair stepped up to the saloon doors.

Overgrowth partially buried the tavern building underneath the snaking thorny vines of the Thorn-Ring. The hedge of thorns that serves as  Tangelthorn’s city defenses along gatehouses and partial fortifications at all four compass directions. The thorns spilled over the top of the three-story building canopy-like and wrapped tightly around the eastern half, the thorny vines at grips with the alien waxy-orange masonry. The ratling companions strutted into the yellow lit, smoke flooded tavern.

The thorn-creepers had extended into the bar itself cramping what could have been a spacious establishment. The woody vines shaped into a second tier in the western half of the combo taproom/common-room was crowded both atop and underneath with ratlings most bearing the light golden brown hair of thorn-runners. Tending the bar itself were ratlings and a human bar-back. On the far end, a half-troll sat on the floor wedged into his cramped station overseeing the all-sorts barrel. It was 1 copper bit (copper piece of eight) to dip your jack, no fliks accepted.

Layer after layer of compacted filth interspersed with sawdust and straw covered the floor. A fresh layer of straw and sawdust added a welcome fresh vegetable musk to the somewhat fowl and smoke-thickened air. Large scorched areas attested to the fact that the place was a fire hazard. As a result, there were water buckets on both sides of the entrance and the side door as well as behind the bar.

However, the ratling patrons used the water-filled buckets to relieve themselves thus adding a certain unmistakable bouquet to the place. It also made the extinguishing of the frequent fires a most disgusting affair. Even so, patrons still lit matches from the straw on the ground using the enclosed candle lanterns (no open flames allowed) often absentmindedly tossing them back to the floor.

The pair of beleaguered ratlings shuffled in among the rowdy crowd. Most of the tables were occupied, both of small and average size, with raucous rogues slinging down copious amounts of cheap grog and sour wine. Crowding the rear of the place, patrons at the gambling tables eagerly lost their shirts, some literally, to the house dice.

Afheesh and Wufcor settled into a couple stools at the ratling end of the bar the occupants wisely vacating their seats after being told to “scram”. Afheesh bought a pitcher of low quality ale fortified with some sort of cheap grain alcohol. As they commenced getting “sloshed”, a scrawny ratling sidled up to the disheartened pair.

This ratling was brown with white-grey spots on her face. She had on a wool jerkin, leather gauntlets, and had a horn-handled bowie knife at her side. She seemed a viable candidate for their gang.

The Ratling (very excitedly): “Hey Guys! I’m Sikeek! You wanna go throw some bones in the corner?”

The pair shrugged and joined Sikeek (played by Jenn) in a corner and started throwing dice. After a few small wins, Afheesh tossed a piece of quartz onto the table.

Afheesh (to Sikeek): “If you can’t pay the losses after this round against me, you’ll work off your debt in my service!”

Sikeek agreed to the terms and easily took Afheesh for his money. Apparently, Sikeek was a very skilled gambler. After that, the conversation turned to her weapon skill. She assured them that her skills at the gaming tables matched those of her roguery. As a result,  Wufcor and Afheesh took her on as a hired dagger to their cause.

Later, all three were well pickled and Sikeek’s appetite for gambling whetted. Wufcor and the new employee headed to a squat in the north. Afheesh went back to the guard barracks to catch some rest.

Early the next evening, Afheesh found himself hiding on a roofline. Wufcor hid in an adjacent alley and Sikeek was “acting casual” while leaning against a nearby corner. They were staking out the Cask Room to observe the three guards against which Afheesh had a vendetta (see last episode – Rats of Tanglethorn Pt.10: All These Roaches). They watched as two of the three guards approached the place from the west and a little while later the third from the north. The doors to the Cask Room seemed to have been opened from the inside to allow them egress.

The ratlings watched carefully and took mental notes. They also followed the guards when they left late at night. They repeated this the next day.

That night, the ratling trio had just broken up and Afheesh was loitering around the streets hoping to run into members of the Roaches street gang. He was hungry for trouble. Instead, he ran directly into a troll. The same troll that he had encountered almost two weeks prior. The little ratling recognized that massive iron maul, “Skull-Biter”, which was slung over the monster’s hill of a shoulder.

This time instead of panicking, Afheesh decided to try to strike a deal with this troll. The troll ability to forge extraordinary weaponry well-known and renowned in Tanglethorn. It was not long before Afheesh had struck a deal with Snotnack the troll. If the ratling were to bring the troll a beautiful human woman, he would and give the ratling a reward. He would forge a pair of weapons just like those that he now bore but “better”. For his new hook-guard daggers in three days, the ratling had to bring the young woman to the orange well. He would also have to call the troll’s name into the well. Of course, Snotnack bullied Afheesh into accompanying him all night long anyway.

By morning, Afheesh was exhausted and later in the evening was late for the third day of tracking the guards. This time, the trio was able to track two of the guards to a single apartment. The next night, the ratlings went to the apartment just before the time the guards would be getting off work. Sikeek picked the lock although it took a few tries. She popped the lock just before the pair of guards came up the stairs. The ratlings carefully shut the door and turned the lock, jaunted quickly to hiding places around the well-furnished room, and waited for their prey. Their ears perked as the lock turned and the door opened.

To Be Continued…

Rats of Tanglethorn Pt.10: All These Roaches

Three gang members ran in through the shattered front door of the abandoned warehouse armed with loaded Afheesh's anti gang weaponscrossbows. They spotted out Pabst (played by Jenn) and one took a shot. She knocked the bolt aside with her buckler (more of a targe but virtually the same in game terms). Afheesh (played by yours truly) pulled his paired weapons, matching variants on the sai, and lashed out at the Mantck who was blocking his egress through the rear door. The first blade stung the intruder but the second easily parried by a cutlass.  Afheesh turned to see Wufcor (played by Isis) leap from his hiding place and engage with five more Roaches who had surrounded Pabst. Pabst lashed out with her scimitar missing horribly. Afheesh turned his full attention back to the Mantck.

The Mantck slashed with his paired cutlasses, missing badly with one and the other parried easily by the ratling Quickling. Afheesh retorted striking deep with a single strike, the other deflected harmlessly away. Two thugs behind the Mantck pushed their way through the doorway as Afheesh took this opportunity to strike at both once each with his weapons. One of his narrow blades struck home, the other clinched by a short sword. The battle between the other two street mercs and the hordes of Roaches raged behind Afheesh where he could not see the fate of his two companions only hear the clash of steel.

It was at this moment that the Mantck took this opportunity to hack at the ratling while his human accomplice kept the clinch on the Quickling’s right arm and weapon. Afheesh was barely able to swat aside the Mantck’s double cutlass strike with a single weapon. He tried to break the clinch but failed. The Mantck took another paired weapon strike but again parried by Afheesh’s left-handed weapon.

In a desperate gambit, Afheesh reversed the clinch hooking the thug’s wrist with his weapon. With his second weapon, Afheesh stabbed the Mantck further wounding him. The Mantck responded hacking into the ratling’s side after a failed parry attempt (Natural 1). Both blades glanced of Afheesh’s tiny ribs. Horribly wounded he started to bleed out. The human thug broke loose of Afheesh’s hook. Breathing hard, the little ratling glanced around on the edge of panic looking for an escape, any escape. He spied through a window, the boards having been knocked out by the surge of Roaches, a naga with a large scythe on her back amongst the horde of gang members.

In a last ditch move Afheesh tucked and dove between the legs of those gangsters blocking the door. However, Roaches overflowed the alley, their daggers and swords bared and thirsty. In response, Afheesh leapt to the wall and used his supreme parkour skills to scale the bricks up to the roof all the while narrowly avoiding flurries of enemy blades. He found dozens upon dozens of thugs already atop the roof!

Cris (the GM): “They’re all heavily muscled and full of gang tats too.”

Me (to GM Cris): “So they have street gangster levels?”

GM Cris: “Yup. They look very experienced.”

Me: >:(

He made a quick survey of the roofline intending to jump to another roof. All of the surrounding roofs were populated with Roaches bearing loaded crossbows. Afheesh barley dodged several poisoned crossbow bolts that flew at him imbedding themselves in the bricks.

Me: “POISONED!?”

GM Cris: “Well yeah! They’re not taking any chances!”

Afheesh jumped onto the roof and ran around gaining momentum avoiding the clumsy strikes of the gangsters and leapt onto a neighboring roof tucking and tumbling as he landed followed by the thud, thud, thud of misguided poisoned bolts. He kept running as he bled finally escaping the few human-led ratlings that tried to pursue him over the building tops. Eventually he stumbled over the threshold of the local White Star guild where he collapsed.

An hour or so later Afheesh came to. The White Star had treated his wounds and taken their pay from the coin on his person, and no more. The ratling thanked them and left before they could go into their “would you like to come and pray with us” shtick. Although exhausted at this point, he had to find his friends.

At the Caskroom Tavern, Afheesh found Wufcor the ratling Canny-Jack. Pabst had been killed in the raid and he himself had barely escaped through a window. They sat in silence for a while and then began pounding jacks of ale. Afheesh pledged vengeance against the Roaches and Wufcor concurred with a hearty gulp from his frothing cup. The Canny-Jack mentioned that he did have a lead, there had been a naga bard with the Roaches maybe she could help them get their revenge. Afheesh grabbed the other ratling by the collar to make him lead him to the bard. However, Wufcor just lifted a finger and pointed. She was currently singing some poetry drifting from table to table for tips.

Barely a second later a beggar came to the ratling’s table apparently to beg. As a result, the bard passed their table up. Enraged Afheesh stabbed the man in his neck who then stumbled away and out the door bleeding. After her number was finished, Wufcor waved the bard over. As soon as she sat next to them Afheesh threatened her and got the name Skilneel from her for the Mantck that had fought him during the warehouse raid.

The Bard (played by Natalie): “I’m just gonna go, um.” She got up and slithered over to the bar.

The bard tried to rent a room from the bartender. He told her that there were no vacancies. Afheesh strode up next to her and asked the bartender how much a plate of food ran. The bartender set down a half full tankard in front of him and tossed him a plate of half-eaten food from the other side of the bar in response. So Afheesh smashed him in the face with the tankard and told the bard that she was coming with him and his friend. Wufcor sidled up to her on the opposite side smiling.

The Bard: “Uhm, I’m just gonna leave?”

Afheesh (with one of his paired weapons pointing at her): “If you try to run I’ll kill you.”

Wufcor: “He will, he’ll kill you so don’t run.”

The bartender groggy from the rattling that the Quickling gave him snapped his fingers and three guards ran from a back room. Armed with pikes they wore scale-mail.

Afheesh: “Wufcor. Pull yer weapon!”

The scuffle with the guards was brief. They attacked all three equally, the ratlings and the bard. The latter of who fled through the saloon doors into the street. Wufcor followed, after stabbing at one of the guards a few times.

Guard Captain (to Afheesh): “Ratling! Just leave! Get outta HERE!”

Then the guard captain got in a lucky hit that nearly skewered Afheesh. The ratling tumbled out of the saloon doors and into the street. The other pikes hit the floorboards fortunately missing the little hoodlum by a mile. As Afheesh galloped away from the tavern, he caught sight of the naga bard and Wufcor side by side just ahead. He increased his speed to a full run.

Afheesh flew into the air in mid leap attack and came down on the naga’s back practically nailing her thrashing half-serpent body to the street with both of his weapons. He twisted them as she died then ripped them free, wiped them clean with her hair, and scabbarded them. He stomped off to the White Star guild house once again.

With a tear in his eye, Wufcor looted the bard’s corpse. He then cut a swatch of her scaly skin from her shoulder. Then he sweetly caressed the still warm swatch to his hairy cheek before jaunting off to catch up to his leader.

To Be Continued…

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