[17 Feb] After the drama of last night, it’s a relief to be back at the Temple of Emrys. My head is clear, here on the edge of the city. I can think. I pray to the god of the forests, searching for guidance, but I still can’t decide what to do.
I leave a gold piece for Ash’s soul and resolve to return again tomorrow.
Nightshade and Alix have accompanied me, and I make sure the route back to our new lodgings (Tippa found us a room in a very dodgy house, near the Spill) takes us past the Kelsen markets again. The captive animals continue to call me.
Today I spend time with a desert cat. She’s the colour of dust and sand, with rippled markings in darker shades of brown. Her eyes are amber and they see right into my soul. Her condition is not good — underfed, dull coat, and terrible fear — but her spirit is strong. I long to free her from her cage and see her run.
[18 Feb] This morning I’m still furious with Abra for his foolish behaviour yesterday. The idiot went out on his own and got himself arrested. Now Blizzard is left explaining to his church why his friend revealed himself as a mage, after being expressly commanded not to. Worse, Alix and I are out of pocket again from bailing him out. I think it may be the first time Blizzard and I have agreed on anything.
Almost as annoying, Tippa is constantly nagging us to do something about Liak, the man who killed her father. We have told her over and over that we need to lay plans if we don’t want to die. Of course, we have our own agenda, and that is to retrieve the gold stolen from us by the thieves guild. She’s an impatient kid, and I get that, but… She’s probably going to run the thieves guild one day.
Fortunately for me, Squirrel seems to have things in hand. He spent yesterday learning some spells, and today he’s staking out Liak’s house. We have a rough plan. Of sorts. Hell.
I take myself off to the temple again, with only Nightshade for company. When I’m done, I inhale deeply and head back to the market. I think I’m ready.
I go right up to the cage where my desert cat is confined. She growls first, low and deep, and then hisses when I put out my hand. I think I had better stock up on linens for bandages.
It takes all my skill to get her to come with me, but she does. Perhaps she is lured by the sack of rabbits I’m also carrying. I am glad of Nightshade’s assistance. We take her to the edge of the city, where it borders the forest, and release a live rabbit for her to chase and kill and eat.
Even in her poor physical condition, she is fast. My heart sings a little as I watch her tear into the rabbit. And it hitches when she comes back to me. She’s still wary and full of fear, but she follows.
I name her Fleet.
[19 Feb] Fleet is settling in well. I took her once more to hunt this morning, and she returned willingly with me to our lodging. She has spent the rest of the day curled up in the corner asleep, for in truth she is naturally a night creature. Already her condition and temperament improve, although she is still very thin.
Tonight we have business to deal with. After staking out Liak all day to pacify Tippa, Squirrel went out last night to use one of his new spells. Our plan was to try to locate the stash of the thieves guild by locating the amulet they stole from us. It took a while, but he managed to locate it in one of the market stalls. This means, of course, that the object has most likely been sold on, but perhaps we can get at least it back. Or a lead.
It’s dark and pouring with rain, but not all that late, as we head to the market. There are guards around. A man with two children crosses the square and enters the building behind our target stall. My stomach clenches. I hadn’t counted on there being children.
Half an hour or so later, Squirrel picks the lock and sneaks inside, returns quickly. He reports the children are sleeping within. There are two adjoining rooms and a forge, with several items of gold jewellery. Our amulet is there.
Three of us enter, intending only to ask questions, but three of them approach us with drawn weapons. Some of my companions are not good at restraint; before I know it, a woman and a man are on the floor. We stablise their injuries, but the third is persuaded to talk. He gives us a name. Soma. We take our amulet and a couple of other items and leave.
We make a deal
It isn’t all that difficult to persuade Soma to talk. We’re ‘visiting’ her at home, where she was all alone. We tell her we don’t really want trouble, we just want our stuff back — or the equivalent in gold.
The only reason we came here was to trade gear for coin, resupply and leave. So far, Kelsen has cost us dearly.
Without consulting any of us, Blizzard* hatches a plan to get Soma onside. I’m numb as I listen to them negotiate, and within ten minutes we’re agreeing to take out five of the guild’s highest ranked members to pave the way for Soma’s rise to power.
The deal is for the money they owe us. But two things are occurring to me:
- We should get paid a hell of a lot more than that if we succeed. Taking out five top guild members is surely worth substantial coin on top of what we’ve had stolen.
- I still do not trust Blizzard. He’s been having secret meetings with his church all week. What is his agenda?
* [ed 21/12/15: Apparently I remembered this wrongly and it was in fact Squirrel doing the deal-making. Figures…]
Still raining. Soma has given us directions to a warehouse, where three of our targets are hanging out. We fight our way in through a hidden entrance, and creep into an elevated storage area to take stock. Unch proves handy for some invisible reconnaissance. He informs us we’re on a mezzanine, with our targets in the room next door, and a bunch of lackies drinking and gambling on the lower floor.
Well, this is what we’re here for. With a prayer to Emrys, I enter the room and attack.
The battle is fierce. I try to take stock as I fight. Six in total, one of who is up the back muttering a spell. That would be the cleric (target 1). Guntar No Nose (target 2) is big and obvious, as Soma warned. One of the others must be the muscle guy, Rastas (target 3) but I have no idea which one he is.
We do all right. Abra and Squirrel do their mage thing, while Alix, Nightshade and I fight hand-to-hand. My sword and dagger flash and I allow my rage at the guild to stream through me. At one point, Nightshade is fighting atop the table, then she’s down, then Alix leans over and she’s up again. We win.
Except Guntar escapes. All of a sudden, he drinks something and just disappears. Fuck.
And there’s smoke everywhere. Great thick billows of it, clogging up the room. We’re trying to regain our breaths, coughing and spluttering.
And I can still hear fighting.
Outside the room, we find Blizzard under attack from the lackies downstairs. Once we get there, it doesn’t take too long to dispatch them, but the warehouse is seriously on fire and the smoke is worse out here.
We need to leave. Now.
Out on the street, it’s still raining, so hopefully this means the adjacent buildings (and the town) are not too endangered from the fire. The warehouse itself is doomed, and I savagely hope the thieves guild is losing a fortune in stuff.
But overall this is bad. Really bad. We only got two of our targets, and Guntar escaped. There will be retribution. Can we hide out the rest of the night? I fear we will need all our strength to face whatever is about to hit us next.