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The Cabal of Eight II Pt.10: The Blue Thief

20th of Monsoon – Dawn was breaking but the sun’s rays were stifled behind cloud-darkened skies and drowned in the heavy, humid air. Stray raindrops randomly pelted the roofs, and cobblestones of the city as well as the heads of retreating rag pickers and soot-brushes. The fitful sleep of two of the cabal members was disturbed by the approaching ringing bell of one of the many city criers.

The Crier: “Hear ye! Hear ye! The city marshal has declared that all those found to commit the crimes of theft, murder, and assault within the city limits that are not citizens of our great city and are found to be the crew of known freebooter and privateer ships will receive the penalty of death! Ships whose crews comprise of more than a handful of such criminals will be banished from harbor come hell or high water!”

Excor (played by Cris) and Szoo (played by Isis) stumbled and slithered from their rooms, slowly due to their bruised and aching bodies roused by the crier’s bell and spiel. Already, Fauna (played by Jenn) was grinding the remainder of her herbs into two doses of healing salve for her wounded companions. As both Szoo’s and Excor’s wounds were still grievous. Fauna, on the other hand, was in perfect health. After finishing the salve and having applied it, Fauna cleaned out the stable and left for the market district. The other two went back to their beds to heal.

Later, in the afternoon, the sun had peaked between the clouds and Fauna was returning from the market with her horse attached to a new wagon loaded with a few months’ supply of oats and hay. As she led the wagon back home she entered the alleyway and only then noticed a tail, someone was stealthily following her. Calmly, she unhitched her horse and put him back into the stall next to her giant frog, tossed that thing a bag of mice. She left the wagon just off the stables. Suddenly, she rushed through the door and shouted.

Fauna: “I’m being followed!”

Immediately, both of her companions leaped from their beds and met her at the door against which she was leaning.  All she could relate about her pursuer was that he was wearing blue with a short, matching cape.

Isis: “*Sigh* Is this the dragon again?”

Cris: “Who else would it be!? Of course it is! Blue cape, sheesh, of course it’s the dragon! Or her slaves.”

Excor rushed to the door and carefully, quietly, cracked it and peeked through. He scanned the scene outside the door from the alley wall to the stable. By a split second, he missed the fleeting glimpse of a blue cape disappearing into the hayloft above the stalls. Because of his spotting nothing, Szoosha cast Heat Vision on himself. In turn, Excor cast See the Invisible on himself.

Excor peeked back out the door and spotted Thorn the beggar ducking behind a rain barrel. He yelled at Thorn to leave while Szoo, head above Excor’s, spotted a heat trail moving from the ground and up into the loft. Thorn waved as he jaunted off after a shrug.

Szoo: “Guys! I got something! I think he’s inside already!”

Excor immediately slammed shut the door and turned. Almost by accident, he caught sight of a cape trailing behind its wearer as it flapped from above down behind a piece of furniture.

Excor (pointing the blue thief out): “Assassin!”

Fauna readied herself to cast Sleep as soon as she could see her target. Szoo moved around to get a better line of sight and was able to spot the blue thief. The short, brawny man was dressed in a powder blue padded/quilted robe with a bright blue silver-trimmed cape and cowl and a broad black belt. He was armed with paired superior quality silver daggers each with a large quartz crystal in the pommel. Excor cast shadow ribbons but the magic went wild. The black ribbons of shadow suddenly expanded into a cone of blazing red light and the thief shrieked in terror, he stood and turned to run through the back door. Fauna let loose her sleep spell but it had no effect.

The druidess let loose a lightning bolt; the thief dodged the bolt easily and tumbled through the back door into the rear courtyard. Szoosha charged towards the back door and made it outside into the small courtyard amongst Fauna’s chickens and goat. Excor moved up to where he could see the thief readying to scale the wall and cast paralyze I. The thief froze in his tracks.

Cris (to the GM): “That was some sort of crazy fear spell huh? Hey! Can I try to remember what I did with that spell with my spellcraft?”

The GM (me): “Yup, um DC uh 20, it was wild magic. Totally randomly rolled spell too.”

Cris: *roll*roll* “Damn, naw, I didn’t get it.”

Szoo had the paralyzed thief tied up with a rope he took from the thief’s belt. Fauna sensed some very strong magic from the silver manacle around his neck and the medallion with dragon-scratch runes that dangled from it. She simply tried to pull it off as it did not appear to be even locked or clasped but it did not budge. It even seemed bonded to the thief’s skin. Fauna then double-checked the ropes making sure they were tight. Szoo then inspected the collar and found the maker’s mark. It was the mark of the Golden Devil Company (The Cabal of Eight Pt.6: Gold Devil).

Szoo (panicking): “Oh no! We made some BIG enemies guys!”

Cris: “Whatever, we’re adventurers, it’s what we DO!”

The three mages stood around while the chickens clucked and gathered around their feet expecting to feed. They did not know what to do with the man. The magic slave collar without a doubt would lead the blue dragon straight to them. They quibbled back and forth for some time before they finally decided on what was to be done with him. They did not want to kill him; after all, he had no choice whether or not to obey the dragon. They also did not want to take him to the guards. The trio did not know how deep the dragon’s connections went. They decided to freeze the thief in amber.

Excor cast Amber Husk, an ancient spell obtained from a scroll they had found in the Lotus Vaults. Excor looked at his handiwork. The thief in blue could be seen at the center bottom of an iceberg of glistening semi-transparent amber.

Excor: “That’ll do it.”

That situation dealt with, for the time being anyway, the trio decided to try to rest until their next cabal meeting on the 24th. However, Fauna had a meeting with the Brotherhood of the Rope on the next full moon, the 22nd.

The next day, Szoo and Excor were sleeping the day away, Fauna, alternately, had hitched her horse up to her wagon and was going shopping around the Old Market District and the Bazaar. Soon her wagon was packed with a 1 lb. bag of healing herbs, another 1 lb. bag of yellow & pink lotus soaked smoking herb (of which she was currently partaking), a wood cage with four chickens in it, a sack of feed enough for a month, an empty 1-gallon ceramic jug, and 5 potion bottles for Szoo’s naphtha. She had watched Thorn while he had followed her the entire time as well.

She signaled the grey-cloaked beggar to jog up next to her she was riding in the saddle.

Fauna: “So…you old beggar… still spying on us?”

Thorn: “Yup! Just business y’know!”

Fauna (flipping Thorn a silver piece): “No info?”

Thorn: “Well, I’d be amiss in my duty if I didn’t ask about certain Pirate friends, ahem, certain friends of certain people maybe?”

He eyeballed Fauna for a reaction, there was none so he continued.

Thorn (pulling out his pipe; Fauna offered to light it): *ffwwwp* *exhaling* “Certain pirate friends of a certain party stealing from certain other people and yet other people, friends of certain people maybe? No. Well, those people hiding the treasure and those people’s friends maybe knowing something about it?”

Thorn glanced over at Fauna with a squint in his eye. Again, she did not react so he shrugged and took another tug from his corncob pipe.

Fauna (exhaling, her eyes sparkling with lotus): “Maybe we can hire you as…..our… houseboy? We could pay you a lot of money.”

Thorn suddenly tore off after shooting Fauna a polite smile. Someone was evidently waiting for him near the corner the pair quickly disappearing into an alley. However, Fauna could not focus enough to see who had been waiting for the old beggar. She lazily trotted her way home through the crowded streets as she toked on her pipe.

The following afternoon, Excor had spotted Thorn hanging out in full view around the house and he decided to see what he wanted. Excor tried to interrogate the beggar but found the old man was far too clever to get any useful information out of him. Even so, they conversed for quite some time. Eventually, Excor gave up and tossed him a silver to move off. As the grey-cloaked beggar walked down the alleyway towards the street he unexpectedly asked, “Hey! You know anything about a Cabal of Eight?” Excor was shocked but hid his surprise well enough that he was sure the old beggar did not read it.

Excor (waving bye): “No, no. Never heard of it! If I find anything out I’ll tell ya!”

Thorn (walking away): “I’m all ears!”

Cris hissed, “Dammit!”

Isis: “Whhat!?”

Cris: “They’re getting close! Too close! Dammit.”

Jenn: “Meh. We can handle it.”

Late that night when the full moon was high, Fauna found herself standing amongst a lineup of certain other characters, all drawn from the anonymous ranks of the cult, the Brotherhood of the Rope. Those in the lineup and her were all stark naked slick with sweat; the caverns under the old Amphitheater were sweltering. Those not participating in the “trial for high priest” were still in their dark blue ropes and hoods with a golden noose around their necks. Anishi, the caretaker of the grove, was presiding.

The cult had gathered in a deep chamber next to a very narrow entryway carved into the rusty, living rock. Vor Jetl “the dragonfly” had told Fauna that the trial would be a lethal one it would be the labyrinth. “Avoid the traps and you will make it to a final test, fail and no one will ever see you again.” Good advice as far as she could gather, after all, he was “on her side”. Apparently, the narrow opening was the entrance to this labyrinth.

Anishi gave the word and one-by-one the candidates walked up to him and he spat lotus powder into their faces, kissed them on the forehead, and pushed them through the aperture, “Tread with care my child and be humble”.

To Be Continued…

Necromancing Xuun Pt.2: Squatters’ Rights

The dark trio of Jíen the necromancer (played by me), Trantox the assassin (played by Fate of the hoods as they vs. the squatter heroesJenn), and Dravor the blackguard (played by Gil) found themselves settling into their bedrolls in a barren room of a deserted adobe apartment building. A few piles of detritus and some debris from the crumbling wall-plaster the only décor. Each settled into their own corner to sleep.

Later, Jíen was shocked awake by Dranor’s shouts. The necromancer awoke to find his companions cornered on the opposite side of the room from him by four black-hooded dagger-wielding rogues. They had not stumbled onto the young necromancer since he had camped out by the entrance and they had apparently gained entry through one or both of the glassless shudder-less windows along the outside wall. Jíen’s skeletal minion was standing between him and the group of hoods.

The necromancer leapt to his feet and cast an empowered Wound spell on the nearest thief. The sudden twinge of the masked man’s body told Jíen his spell had been effective. His skeletal minion continued to guard its master against approach. Trantox ducked behind the larger Dravor to load his crossbow.

A hood stabbed Dranor and another jabbed Trantox hurting him badly with a lightning fast flash of the blade. Another turned and lashed out at the minion, which parried the clumsy blow easily with its boney claws. The thief who had felt the sting of the necromancer’s magic turned and stabbed Jíen wounding him while Dravor clinched a thief’s dagger on a parry. Jíen stepped back and cast Animate Necrosis on his attacker. The necromancer’s back mashed against the damp disintegrating plaster, but the resultant scabby tendril failed to take hold of the man’s throat.

Trantox stepped out to shoot a thief whom tried to parry the crossbow itself but failed miserably getting shot and badly wounded in the process. The thief clinched by Dravor’s axe wrenched his dagger free and his dagger stung at the black guard whom barley was able to knock the blade aside. Trantox pulled his silver dagger and slashed but the hood dodged his blow easily.

The hood on the minion stabbed it piercing the black robes but hit nothing as the blade slid easily between its bleached ribs. Jíen’s attacker stepped in for a kill shot but the gruesome tendril sticking out of his shirt found its grip around his throat and squeezed the last bit of life out of him. The strangled corpse fell at the necromancer’s feet.

Dravor hacked one of the hoods down with a mighty swing and the assassin put another quarrel into one that was hitherto untouched. The thief on Jíen’s minion stabbed the creature again to no effect then it retorted by clawing him. Dranor swung on the thief that had run up to Trantox as the assassin was still badly wounded but his blow was parried. Trantox then got another bolt off from his crossbow nailing his attacker seriously injuring him.

One of the hooded men tried to make a run for it as the battle turned but Dranor took the opportunity to cleave his yellow spine in two. The last hood prepared to defend himself as he looked for a way out of the gauntlet. Dranor’s axe missed its mark as it whistled in from the side but Trantox’s blade found its mark nearly killing the thief. The hood sidestepped and prepared to leap from the nearest window.

Jíen threw a spell in the wounded hood’s direction and as his body convulsed a torrent of blood forced from the petty thug’s body flew directly into the necromancer’s mouth and down his throat, Jíen’s wounds instantly healing. Even so, the last hood, the largest of the former four, was still able to make a desperate leap at the window the two bleeding halves of his body impacting into the wooden windowsill with a thud. Dranor had chopped him apart while he was still in midair.

It took only a few minutes for the trio to loot the bodies. Afterwards the necromancer immediately went to work on the corpses digging out a few long-bones for use as Bone Wands later. The three tried to recoup some sleep for the last few hours before dawn and then parted ways as soon as the purple moon was full against the golden morning horizon. They would meet back up later at the Whiskey Troll Tavern around midday.

Jíen with his disguised minion in tow found his way across town to the charnel house in the east end situated right next to the very crowded cemetery. After a few more minutes he had found the proprietor and mentioning Rantcor’s name introduced himself. The proprietor was a tall, skinny Ivoran fellow with a baldhead and sumptuous oiled brown beard named Exandnor. However, the only business the Ivoran crypt-keeper seemed to be interested in was the delivery of fresh intact corpses “no questions asked”.

Just when Jíen thought that the bard’s tip was turning out to be fruitless the Ivoran offered the necromancer an empty tomb to sleep in which slouched near the center of the cemetery. The name inscribed on the small sunken mausoleum was Ranor Long-Rider. The dead-lander thanked Exandnor for his kindness and after inspecting the new digs went on his way to the tavern.

On the way to tavern however he had to cut through the town bazaar which was already reeking with its hoards of tradesmen, merchants, rubes, thieves, and whores. He passed close by to where a gypsy clan was entertaining, juggling and the like. Their children were moving in and out of the small unwashed crowd that had gathered. “Thieving no doubt” Jíen thought.

So mostly for sh*ts and giggles as one of the earthy haired bumpy-headed urchins passed by him (they were a noticeable mating of faun, human, and naga) he quickly pat the boy on the head all the while subtly casting a Contagion spell, nothing serious only a fever possibly lethal still highly contagious though. After that, feeling wholly satisfied with himself the necromancer continued on his way to the Whiskey Troll his black draped skeletal minion following closely on his heels.

To Be Continued…