19 May, 103 CY (Continued)
GM: (Reeoh has a bonus Fate point for accepting a compel last session. Perrin has two free invocations on A Stolen Shoomma Sword, discovered last session.)
GM: Aramis, Perrin, and Reeoh make their way to the former Watch captain’s house. His wife has managed to wrangle all six(!) children back to the house, and she gives him a stern look as he walks in the door.
Reeoh: “You in trouble now.”
Aramis: Aramis pauses at the threshold.
Perrin: “It seems I had an unexpected visit with the Watch, dear. Was there any trouble since we left?”
GM: She gives him the standard We Have Six Kids, Of Course There Was Trouble And Also Go To Hell look. “Some Watch wench left that for you.” She gestures at a pile of weaponry near the door. Perrin’s bow and the Shoomma Sword are in the pile.
GM: “I’m going to fix lunch. Staying to help?” Her gaze takes in Aramis (curiously) and Reeoh (suspiciously).
Aramis: “I’m Brother Aramis,” the cleric offers with a nod.
Reeoh: “My name is Reeoh”
Perrin: “My nephew is missing. Hasn’t reported to anyone in a while.”
GM: She frowns at Perrin’s news, concerned. She apparently decides to err on the side of Good Hostess and acknowledges the two visitors with a nod and the slightest softening of her expression. “Welcome. I’m Mariel, in case my loutish husband neglected to mention. These are the children…” she looks like she’s about to start naming them, but her expression shifts to What’s the Point?
Perrin: Looks to his companions “Hungry? We might as well eat before starting the investigation.” He starts helping with lunch
Aramis: “I could eat. What manner of help do you need?” Aramis asks, only realizing after he’s done so that he’s probably making a mistake.
GM: The three were put to work, chopping things, stirring other things, and setting the table. Said table is large enough to accommodate more than two extra guests, so there’s no question of everyone fitting in comfortably. It’s a madhouse of noise from the 12-year-old going on about All her Favorite parts of the FAIR! to the 3-year-old making general 3-year-old noisy demands. After food is ready, Mariel calls the madness to order and silence drops like a shroud. “Brother Aramis, would you care to offer grace?”
Aramis: “Of course.” He chooses one of the faith’s briefer, less depressing threnodies to chant.
GM: Immediately after, the children dig in with gusto. Mariel tells Aramis that she does remember Perrin telling her about their chats. She remembers hearing about Reeoh, too, but that puts the sour expression more firmly back in place. She skirts the specifics of the Nature of the chats Perrin and Aramis had. She seems … uncomfortable about it, but hey. He’s her husband.
Aramis: Aramis is content to let her skirt.
GM: Despite her stern greeting, it is clear from her tone when she talks to her husband and her body language that she really does adore him. There’s a fierce pride underneath it, almost as though she dares the world to speak ill of him.
Perrin: “These two are going to help me look into the attack today. I’d leave it to the Watch, but with the Captain missing I think they might need some assistance. And my gut says it’s related.”
GM: “Are we goin’ back to the fair today, Da?” asks the 7-year-old.
Perrin: “Not today, Adam. I think there’s been enough excitement for today. But there is plenty more time to see more of it.”
GM: “Awww…” he says, crestfallen. His siblings largely echo it. Except the 2-year-old, who stares ahead silently. Mariel encourages Anna to eat a bit more, and the child complies. But it’s automatic.
Aramis: Aramis cannot take his attention away from Anna. “My nephew, Henri, is the same,” he says evenly.
GM: Mariel looks up at the priest, surprised. “Do you … have any idea what it is?”
Aramis: He shakes his head. “Alas, I do not. But his mother – my brother’s wife – is searching for a cure, even as we speak.”
GM: She nods, though what little hope had alit in her eyes was snuffed like a candle in a gale.
Aramis: “I have faith that she will, given time.”
Perrin: “Adam, I bet Rheeo might be able to show you some magic tricks if you ask her nicely. I know she’s good at sleight of hand.”
GM: “For true!” Adam says, turning to Reeoh excitedly.
Reeoh: “I’m best at making coins dissapear, but maybe I could make them reappear?”
GM: Adam and the 9-year-old clap their hands. While Reeoh entertains those two, Mariel conscripts the 11- and 12-year-old into helping clean up. The 3-year-old occupies himself “teaching” Anna to play patty-cake. He doesn’t seem to mind that her movements are rote.
Aramis: Aramis sits with Perrin. “This is a good family you have, Perrin.”
Perrin: Perrin smiles. “Yes, it really is. They are the reason I do what I do every day. Those wererats today are just the next in a long line of threats to my family.”
Aramis: Aramis nods.
Perrin: “Sometimes the threats are simple… such as young kids who think they are the King of Thieves” looks to Rheeoh “Or Queen I guess…” “But what happened to days gives me a very bad feeling.”
Aramis: “We will get to the bottom of this.”
Reeoh: “I’m not simple!”
Aramis: “I am beginning to see that,” Aramis tells Reeoh.
GM: “Come on, kids,” Mariel said. “Da has work to do.” She paused for a moment, and more softly says, “Important work.” It sounds like a mantra.
Perrin: “Let’s go see a man about a blade, shall we?” Perrin, says goodbye to the little ones, hugs his wife and grabs his bow as he starts out the door.
GM: Mariel holds him tight before he goes. “You be careful out there, Perrin Hargrove. Come back to us.”
Reeoh: Reeoh discreetly drops a few coins on her way out.
GM: Mariel notices it, and her eyebrow raises as though she’s reconsidering her opinion of the light-fingered rogue.
Aramis: “I will watch over him for you, Mariel,” Aramis says before departing.
GM: She nods gratefully to him.
* * *
GM: They make your way to Chatterstreet Market. Shoomma is a master weaponsmith, maker of many famous blades and one of Brindinford’s most famous personages. She has plied her trade for one hundred years under a simple sign reading “Smithy,” and she commands the respect of every other merchant and artisan in town. Her weapons are renowned, not for their enchantment (though many were enchanted after leaving Shoomma’s hands), but for the quality of their workmanship. Her nephew and apprentice, a dwarven soldier named Horken, hopes to continue the old dwarf’s legacy.
GM: Shoomma is wiry and muscular despite her age. Her face and arms are dark and leathery from the heat of the forge, and her eyes are sunk deep and surrounded by wrinkles. She is known to be brutally honest to the point of being tactless and is quick-tempered as well. “Welcome to Shoomma’s,” says Horken. “How can we help you, sirs? Lass.” He adds as an afterthought when he notices Reeoh.
Reeoh: Reeoh cases the place, but does NOT take any suspicious actions at all.
Perrin: Perrin puts the blade on the table. “Hello Horken. I’d like to have a brief chat with the Mistress regarding this blade.”
GM: One eyebrow raises as he considers the blade, but then he bows, scooping it up as he rises. “Right this way, sir.”
Perrin: Perrin follows.
Aramis: Aramis also follows.
GM: He leads them back to the forge proper, where Shoomma is sitting in a rocking chair, stoking a fire. She looks up as you enter, glaring at Horken. “What’s all this, then? Who’ve ye brought ’fore me?”
GM: “It’s that former Watch captain, Auntie. Seems he’s got one of yer swords here.” He hands the blade over to her.
Perrin: “Hello Shoooma. It’s good to see you again. We’ve had an attack at the fair. Nasty business. You might be able to help us make it right.”
GM: She inspects it for a moment before turning her glare up at Perrin. “Oh aye? A nasty attack? Lose yer head again?” She cackles at her own crass joke, but only for a second before her glare returns with backup. “Where’d ye get this, whelp?”
Aramis: Aramis masks his amusement with well-practiced sobriety.
Perrin: “From the attackers. They were robbing the booths at the fair. And they released giant rats into the crown. One of them wielded this blade. What can you tell me about it?”
GM: She scoffs, then takes a second look at the blade. “This’n was stolen along with a few more not a week back. Tell me more about the cur you took it from.” It’s a demand. After a beat, she says, “Wait … did you say ‘rats’?”
Perrin: “I did. Does that mean something to you?”
GM: “Reminds me o’ somethin’ is all… Might be nothin’. Might breathe life anew into yer investigation.” She cackles again. “D’ye get it, boy? Or did it go over yer head?!” She cackles again. Clearly, she amuses herself. “Are ye returnin’ this ta me, boy?”
Perrin: Perrin just lets it slide. “Technically I should be returning it to the Watch, as it is part of an ongoing investigation. But I might be convinced to forget about it as I leave if you can tell me what you know. I promise I won’t lose my head over it.”
Aramis: “It would give you the best chance of getting the rest of your merchandise back,” Aramis offers (helping, +1).
GM: She eyes him shrewdly, pointing the sword at him like one would a simple pointed stick. Then she tosses it into a pile to her side. “I like you boy. Kinda surprises me, but there it is. I don’t know what happened ta you, or why ya hang about with a death priest and a street urchin, but ye done me a good turn, so I’m inclined ta help ye.”
Aramis: “_People are often surprising,_” Aramis says in his passable Dwarven.
GM:Her eyes twinkle a bit at that. “The rats ye mentioned, put me in mind of the Bell Tower. Place is s’posed ta be crawlin’ with the filthy vermin. I were well acquainted with the preivious keeper of the tower, Revven. I remember his son Turvin – current keeper, mind – as a baby, but I don’t know him as a man. If’n ye’re lookin’ fer rats, ye might start there.”
Perrin: “Thank you for the information, Shoomma. You are doing a great service to Brindinford” It is clear that he has said that about a thousand times.
GM: “Fah. Brindinford’ll keep. I’m just helpin’ a fella who amuses me.”
Aramis: “I will take that.”
Perrin: Perrin makes his exit. Upon reaching the street again he asks “What do the two of you know of the bell tower?”
Aramis: “I’ve never been inside, no.”
Reeoh: Climbed it once, never went inside
Aramis: “Azal wanted to climb it one night, but she got too drunk.”
* * *
GM: They head to Eastgate, reentering the throng of fair-goers. As they came nearer the scene of the attack, they saw a handful of city guards aiding with the cleanup and talking to several people. One of the Watch, a strong, stocky woman with a square face, a hooked nose, and a big bastard sword, looks up as the three approach. “Well, look who it is,” says Lieutenant Shella. “Coming back to admire your handiwork?”
Perrin: Perrin nods at the Lieutenant “I could have left it to the Watch, I guess. But there didn’t seem to be any around.”
GM: “Convenient, that. First our Watch Captain disappears, then someone with knowledge of patrol patterns shows up to ‘handle the problem’. Where is your nephew, anyway, Hargrove?” Two other Watch members, including Watchman Lar, move up to support the lieutenant.
Perrin: “Last I saw him was for Sunday dinner. You seem awfully worried about him though. Was he working on something particular?”
GM: “Mm,” her disdain is palpable. “What, he didn’t tell you over dinner?” Her tone says she doubts it.
Perrin: “House rule. No talking about the job at the table.”
GM: She sighs. “It sounded routine. He was following up on reports of extortion in Chatterstreet. He might be an entitled, nepotistic prat, but he’s no fool. Something’s happened to him.” She actually sounds concerned.
Perrin: “You and I both know what tends to happen to people that disappear. I’m worried too. If I learn anything I’ll inform the Watch first thing. Thanks for the information, Lieutenant.”
GM: “Wererats,” she practically spits.
GM: She nods to Aramis neutrally. “Brother Shepherd.” It never hurts to be polite to death priests. Her glance falls upon Reeoh. “Street rat.”
GM: She raises an eyebrow at the epithet, but merely shakes her head and rolls her eyes. She has more important things to do.
Perrin: "Attacking in the middle of a crowded fair is bold. They are confident. Be careful, Lieutenant. Rats only attack when they think they have the upper hand.”
GM: She shakes her head. “My guess? These wererats are a transient gang of thugs who came from out of town and decided to live it up in Brindinford until things got to hot.” She indicates the busted up stalls. “Now that we’re on to them, they’ll leave town.” Lar seems annoyed that Shella is talking to you instead of arresting you.
Aramis: Aramis is unable to keep his free eyebrow from raising.
Perrin: “It’s a reasonable assumption. But I intend to find out for sure. About the wererats and about ”/characters/merdick" class=“wiki-content-link”>Merdick Forren."
GM: “As you will. Obviously.” She sighs and turns her men around.
* * *
GM: Brindinford’s architectural pride and joy, the bell tower that stands in the middle of town is a 125-foot-tall tower of fine workmanship and elegant beauty. It is thirty feet square, with a five-foot-wide stone staircase winding around the outside of the building, climbing thirty feet for every circuit of the tower. The duty of ringing the bells every 3 hours during the day has been carried out by members of a single family since the tower was built. It rings 3 PM by the time you arrive. Not many people are around. (Ominous Bell Tower and Empty Streets)
Aramis: “Do you have any friends among the guard still?” Aramis asks Perrin.
Perrin: “I’m beginning to wonder.”
Reeoh: “They’re all creeped out by the ‘dead guy’ thing”
Perrin: “Yea. The ‘dead guy’ thing. One day I’ll find out what that was all about. Who knows… maybe everyone else is right to worry. But I’ve never felt any different since that day, so I’m just going to go on as if I still had plans for my life and the rest of the town can just deal with it.”
Aramis: Aramis nods., then looks to see if anyone’s actually on the tower.
GM: Looks clear. There is a wooden door on the street level.
Aramis: Aramis looks to his companions. “Should we just knock? Or does this call for something more subtle?”
Perrin: Perrin takes a few minutes to surveil the area around the tower, looking for anything out of the ordinary.
GM: The place is awash with eau de rat. Perrin finds several recent footprints leading to the door. Reeoh notices that the door is locked. She also notices the grotesques atop the tower, sitting in silent vigil.
Perrin: “I’m used to having the authority of the Watch to back me up. I’m not too practiced at subtle.”
Aramis: “If you present yourself with enough authority, they might mistake you for a watchman…” He doesn’t sound convinced.
Reeoh: Unlock the door (all sneaky-like; Burglary 7)
Aramis: “Orrr perhaps we should see what Reeoh is doing.”
GM: She has opened the door, looking back at you guys like it’s no big deal, and what are you waiting for, anyway? (They Don’t Hear You Coming*, 1 free invocation)
Perrin: “Meh. I was run out of the watch for being dead. What Rheeoh does is less of a concern to me anymore. Especially when it helps my cause. Don’t you dare tell her I said that though.”
Aramis: “Following her, I expect.”
GM: The door opens into an antechamber, with steep, narrow stairs leading up to the right and another heavy door straight ahead. Though the ceiling rises high above and another window pierces the wall above the door, all light is swallowed up in the dark granite walls and floor. (Yes, even at 3 PM)
Aramis: Aramis looks to see if anyone has left muddy tracks here.
GM: Dust only.
Perrin: Perrin watches to see where Reeoh decides to go, counting on her instincts.
Reeoh: Rheeo sneaks inside (Stealth 3), and listens at the keyhole in the far door.
GM: She hears someone shifting, as though in a leather chair of some sort.
GM: As Reeoh opens the door from her position above the lintel, an old man’s voice calls out uncertainly. “H-hello?”
Aramis: “Hello, the tower!” Aramis calls.
GM: “Who’s there?” the voice sounds scared. “Help! Intruders! Someone call the Watch!”
Aramis: Aramis walks toward the door so he can be seen. “We are not intruders, sir. We are adventurers who were told that you have a standard giant rat infestation.”
GM: An oil lamp flickering in the far right corner offers this room’s only illumination. It rests on a low bookcase, beside a comfortable looking, if weathered, armchair. In the far left corner is a bed, carefully made, and a small nightstand. From a 5-foot-square hole in the center of the ceiling, four heavy ropes dangle, coiling on the floor. The speaker is an old human, stooped with age and gray-haired.
GM: “Adventurers? Help! Adventurers ! Call the Watch!!!”
Aramis: Aramis sighs. “This was never my strong suit.”
GM: A pair of brutes advance on Perrin at the door from a nearby alley, moving at speed. (3 zones: Outside, Inside Antechamber/Stairs, Inside Apartment)
GM: The brutes have no problem attacking first, one driving Perrin Off-Balance and the other stabbing him with a sword. (Perrin is Stabbed! Mariel’s Gonna Be Pissed!)
Aramis: “Please, sir, if you’ll just listen to me I’ll – shit. Next time I’m knocking.”
GM: The old man transforms into a rat and scurries up one of the ropes hanging from the gap in the ceiling. Perrin tries to duck into the tower, but one of the brutes blocks him.
Aramis: (Attack – Lore +1) Aramis hurls a freezing spell at the fleeing wererat.
GM: The fleeing rat squeaks! Perrin desperately defends against the thugs. The second pushes the advantage to the archer’s wounded side and scores another scratch.
Reeoh: (Attack – Shoot +2)
GM: The brute is so fixated on Perrin that he doesn’t see the knife until it’s in his thigh. He cries out in anger and pain, but does not fall.
Reeoh: “Fall; I’m running out of daggers!”
GM: Perrin takes advantage of the knifed one’s distraction and puts an arrow through his heart.
Perrin: Perrin moves into the antechamber after dropping the thug.
Aramis: Aramis goes to climb a rope after the old man / wererat, and accidentally climbs the bell rope, creating a dismal cacophony and making terrible progress.
GM: (For Whom The Bell Tolls Erratically)
Reeoh: (Opposition – Athletics +2)
GM: Reeoh shuts the door in the brute’s face as he advances. It stops him cold. Perrin bleeds on the stairs.
Reeoh: Pulls open the door and throws a knife at his nuts (Attack – Shoot +3; invoking Short (Tempered))
Aramis: (Overcome – Athletics +2) Aramis continues to climb after the fleeing wererat.
GM: Perrin puts a lethal arrow in the thug in the street. Aramis comes face to face with three wererats in their hybrid form!
* * *
GM: From Chatterstreet, the sound of the tower bell could be heard ringing chaotically. “That’s strange,” said Lieutenant Shella. “Didn’t it just ring three?”