We make our way to the traitors’ lair at All the Worlds Meat. Asking around the squalid neighbourhood, we learn that the ‘cowhammer boys’ (when they’re not out selling their swords) are keeping the locals on-side with a daily handout of ‘special cuts’… Though they do have to sing for their supper… or dance, or otherwise humiliate themselves…
We arrive in time to see just such a spectacle in progress and I use the distraction to take a look around the back, while the others join the crowd for a closer look. The abandoned slaughterhouse is indeed back in business with a potential back way in through the animal pen. Satisfied, I head back around the front… to discover a small riot has broken out!
Hecate, transformed into a young woman is dancing with the allure of a dock girl, Milo is inciting a panic over a literal fire, and Pryo (no doubt responsible for the blaze) is fleeing a wheezing cowhammer boy!
Though this might be an opportunity for Pyro to learn a valuable lesson, I decide to follow and aid our Wizard friend as he runs off into the winding backstreets. It doesn’t take long for Pryo to outrun his wheezy pursuer and disappear from sight so I take advantage of the opportunity and deliver the tough with an ultimatum- A free pass, valid until midnight for him and his fellow turncoats if they turn themselves … or it’s the gallows.
We set up in the street opposite their hideout trying and try to stay out of site.
I say we but apparently Milo is one of those halflings who can’t work on an empty stomach and wanders off to the inn…
We wait. There’s sounds of an argument inside and finally Wheezy wanders out, sits down on the porch … and makes us instantly.
We try to close in all causal, giving him a final chance to surrender but he’s spooked.
There’s a brief wrestle for the door until Hecate hexes him to sleep and we leap in.
The shop front is cramped and our hosts come streaming in ready for a fight.
Hecate flings more sleeping hexes, I lay down a flurry of arrows and they start piling up in the door. where Pyro lights them up!
They wrestle on the floor using each other as human shields while I’m screaming for them to give it up. It seems however that the butchers’ life is too lucrative… and so they become the butchered.
Two dead, one bound, another flees.
We chase him into the slaughter room, corner him and truss him up with the other meat.
Another runs upstairs…
And find Verik waiting for us with a vicious looking spear.
We prepare for a tough fight… until Hecate hexes him asleep too.
As I bound the traitor I remember why I like keeping the old witch around…
Not so sure about that damned Halfling though… Hope he’s enjoying his ale…
We turn the place over, finding a few trinkets and a cache of coin.
We also find a few damning documents, showing Verik in the employ of a local noble called Amanda Arkana.
There’s one last, less savoury discovery in the cool room though. Turns out the ‘special cuts’ are not all animal… Not sure if that’s a comment on the populace or the times but it sure as hell put a chill up my spine.
Frog marching the captives back to the Citadel, we bump into a drunk guardsman who insistently mistakes me for a friend. Having drank himself stupid over the King’s Death we drag Grau along with us… I’m sure the Watch could use another able body… Once he sobers up…
When we arrive, the Field Marshall is chatting with Vancarab, a haughty, veteran swordmaster, who takes an immediate ‘interest’ in Hecate… Guess he likes them more mature.
Together they lay out our next assignment.
Apparently some Cheliaxian Ambassador called Darvaine is trying to increase his political influence by buying up Corsovan real-estate. If we can dig up some dirt on this demon-lover, we might be able to tip the balance back in the city’s favour.
According to Vancarab, local underworld figure Devargo Barvasi might be able to help… We’re given a sack of bribe moneys and instructions that should he not prove cooperative, we have the authority to take any action we deem necessary…
Devargo or The King of Spiders as he’s known, is owner of the Eel’s End in Old Corsova. Made up of 5 dry-docked boats, Eels End offers all manner of vice including gambling, drugs and prostitution.
Vancarab shows us the way. The decks are crawling with commoner and noble alike. We move about, above and below deck to get a feel for the place and its owner.
Pyro and Milo wander into the brothel where they learn that the Ambassador is a frequent visitor there…
In the Dragon’s Den we learn from it’s inebriated clientele that The King Of Spiders (so named because his chambers are supposedly crawling with them) was a smuggler until his ‘falling out’ with Stanis Seven Fingers, that he’s possibly having an affair with his Madame and that he currently supplies the Arkana family (there’s that name again) with Shiver.
I also learn that I still need to keep an eye on Hecate who leaves with a sack full of illicit substances.
We lurk about on the main vessel trying to weasel our way into the Spider’s web, until Milo manages to bluff our way in. Be careful what you wish for.
Resplendent on his Purple Throne, The King of Spiders is a dangerous looking villain, probably well capable of doing his own dirty work. His namesake too is clear with every corner and surface, including his body, covered with cobwebs and crawling with spiders.
Behind him, hanging from the rafters is another oddity, a caged, purple Psuedo Dragon, looking, not surprisingly a little despondent.
We push our way through a pack of toughs who he dismisses to a nearby banquet table. Milo, his work apparently done joins them.
We get straight down to business and make our proposal; the dirt on our mutual Ambassadorial acquaintance in exchange for half of our bribe monies (The Field Marshal said we can keep anything we don’t use). It takes a bit of smooth talking but he seems agreeable and comes back with a series of counter proposals…
At first he wants Hecate thrown in for the bargain, though for what purposes he’s ominously vague. Hecate for her part seems she might agree… but thankfully refuses.
Which is when he makes a second counter proposal.
He will except the gold, if we also entertain him with a game of Knifesies.
Knifesies is a colourful, local game where two opponents stand atop a table, wrists strapped together and attempt to scoop up the bettings of onlookers before their opponent slits their throat with the knife on their hip… Not always fatal but I think our hosts’ co-operation is depending on a good show…
And it looks like it’s up to me to provide one!
My opponent is a thin sweaty thug who apparently owes ‘The King’ a debt of his own.
They bind our wrists and we mount the trestle.
The last of the bets are piled high between us.
Milo then yells out, challenging Devargo to raise the stakes. His wolf (of all things) against the Pseudo Dragon.The Kind of Spiders can’t resist
No pressure guys.
I scrutinise Sweaty, his gritty wrist writhing nervously in the binding against mine.
He’s taller than me, but at 5ft nothing that don’t say much.
He’s thin, but now we’re up close there’s muscle on that wiry frame.
Sweaty’s got a mean scowl but as he watches me, calmly trying to centre myself, I catch a hint of trepidation.
He’s carefully eying that gold too, probably gonna scoop before he stabs… If I go on the offense I could end this quick…
Devargo stands, silencing the small but loudly jeering crowd.
Sweaty tenses up, eyes darting from knife to gold.
Milo pushes to the front and makes a masterfully crafted, but seemingly off-hand comment about how badly this is going to end for Sweaty.
The crowd like’s his snipe but Sweaty clearly does not, looking a little shaken…
Was this Milo’s ploy all along? If it was, it certainly worked. Maybe there’s more to this Halfling yet!?
No more time for speculation. It’s on.
The onlookers start yelling and sweaty indeed bends down to scoop up the treasure, eye’s flicking to the knife on my belt.
But I’m no good with a blade, If I can’t use my bow, I like to get hands on…
I yank on Sweaty’s arm and punch him hard in the chest.
Sweaty forgets the coin and goes for his knife. He’s no slouch either, cutting deep across my arm.
For the first time I feel a bit claustrophobic. No, I must focus.
He looks for a second like he might go for the gold again, until I throw a second punch that goes wide.
He’s in for the kill now. He slashes and misses, but he turns face on and I see an opening.
Devargo is salivating.
He can see the opening too.
I could kill Sweaty now, and that might be what’s needed to get ‘The King’s’ cooperation.
But that’s not who I am… and anyway, there’s always spectacular alternatives to killing.
I twist Sweaty too his knee and axe kick down across his raised thigh.
There’s a sickening crack, a yelp of pain and his face Ashen, slumps in an unconscious heap.
The crowd howls, the Pseudo Dragon stands up it’s cage, my companions cheer and the winners rush forward to collect their gold.
Devargo gives me an appreciative nod.
We leave Eels End with half our bribe money, a tidy sum of winnings, a Pseudo Dragon called Majenko and a box of letters, each incriminating the Chelaxian Ambassador in a scandalous affair.
Field Marshal Croft is pleased…