Friday, March 7, 2014

PBM: Chapter 2: Handle With Care: Part 1

In which the party sees more of the Slums' underbelly and we learn about Lyra's powers...

Lyra

Lyra awoke before dawn, in an unfamiliar, yet quite comfortable bed.  She rolled over and pulled the covers up to her ears to escape the stares of Amara's … companion.

At precisely dawn, a sudden breeze caused the fireplace to gutter slightly.

"Lyrathwen Alethiel Beragaion!  Just where were you last night, young lady?"

Lyra stiffened and pulled the covers all the way over her head.  This was not how she wanted to start her morning.  "I went by the clerk's office to try to find you, but you had already left for the day, then I accepted the hospitality of the temple to Tyr for helping save one of their priests in the slums.  I … I tried."

The silence was deafening.

"Discreetly?"

Lyra sighed.  "Of course, Mother."

"If you could stay out last night, you can get up this morning.  And make the bed, I did not raise you in a stable."

"Yes, Mother."  Lyra begrudgingly rolled out of the soft, warm bed.

"And your things aren't going to pick themselves up, young lady.  Someone might trip over them."

"Yes, Mother."  Lyra's whispers are increasingly exasperated as she finishes gathering up her gear.

"Are you going out dressed like that?  Put your cloak on, it's chilly out."

Lyra shook out her grey cloak.  "Of course I'm going out dressed like this!  I didn't even have any other clothes before Professor Aumry's prepayment for escorting his niece to Melvaunt…."

"WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY"

"My party was contracted to escort Amara to Melvaunt to visit her sick grandmother, and return with a shipment of spell components."  Oh boy.  Not exactly the way Lyra would have liked to break the new.

"Who is going, and when will you be back?  Lyrathwen Alethiel Beragaion, you have some explaining to do!  Meet me in the park in ten minutes."

The wind dies down abruptly, as Lyra headed upstairs shortly after daybreak.

Her meeting with her mother was brief.  Faelana had about as much love for the Eraka as the minotaur, but the sword of Selune seemed to warrant something close to approval as a traveling companion.

----

Donovan

There is a scream, followed by a loud thud, and a smaller bang, and the tenement shakes.

With a groan, Donovan sits up, rubbing his rump and trying to get his bearings. The world is dark and blurry. He feels around him and finally locates his glasses. Less blurry, but still dark. He sees that he is in his own apartment, rare as that event is, and that he is on the floor beside his bed, still in his clothes from the day before. He groans again, rises from the floor, the realization that he fell out of bed slowly dawning on him, and tries to remember what he was dreaming. Something about a girl, of course, maybe two or three, and a singing lizard, and a leaning tower, and a bull locked in mortal combat with a big snake, and a man hanging upside down, and a floor covered with glowing runes. Tymora! he thought, he hated surrealism.

He makes his way to the one window and props it back open, looking out to see the dimmest light beginning in the east. He stretches, finds his chamber-pot, relieves his bowels, then empties the pot out the window. There was something about that dream, something important...

Like the sun, feebly trying to peak through his window, realization dawns on him--it wasn't a dream. As he suddenly recalls all the events of the past two days, he rubs at his eyes, pleased to find that his headache is gone and he feels reasonably well rested. He scurries about the room, righting the tick mattress that had been knocked askew by his tumble out of bed, finding his bags, and pulling out his spellbook and components. He casts his last spell from the day before, identifying the bracers he had taken off the kobold leader, then sits down to study spells for the upcoming journey.

Seventy minutes of study and meditation later, Donovan is feeling much more alert, and hungry. He brushes off his clothes, rearranges some things in his pack, sorting out a few items to be pawned into the backpack he had taken from Vinnie, puts on the bracelets and his earblades, checks his knives, grabs a long oaken staff from the corner of the room, and heads out the door. Pausing to lock it behind him.

Right, Donovan thinks to himself, to the temple. He beats feet down the stairs. The sun is properly up now, just cresting the mountains far to the east, and casting an ambient gray-blue light through a mostly overcast sky. A stiff, wet breeze blows off the Moonsea, threatening rain in the near future [sorry, it just sounded good]. Donovan jogs down the docks. He stops briefly at the market to sell the extra backpack and a few items to a guy he knows and to peruse the morning's catch, buying an halibut-pastry from a vendor for his breakfast, then books it up the Parkside Road. Almost exactly two hours after falling out of bed he is standing at the front doors of The Waiting.


Frantiska

Donovan arrives to find Frantiska already awake, outside, and seated strait-backed on Thistledown. From high on her horse, both literally and figuratively, she appears to be very heatedly questioning Teldicia about the nature of her upbringing and how she managed to avoid learning the "mother tongue", as she insists on referring to the Espruar language when speaking Common. Seeing Donovan come jogging up, she immediately clams up, nodding to him briefly and saying only, "You're late."

Lyra

Lyra fidgets with her backpack straps as the two older women talk, trying not to show her annoyance at being designated a 'half-person' in the 'mother tongue'.

Hrud

A moment later, Hrud saunters around the side of the temple astride his horse. The barbarian and his horse are both chewing on something - an apple most likely, based on the apples bulging from a small sack strapped to the saddle.

Donovan

Donovan puffs up in indignation, "I am not late, Madam." He looks over his shoulder at the sun. "I was up quite before dawn. Surely you understand the time it takes to commit a great many spells to memory...and I missed dinner, had to stop for a bite to eat...and had a few things to pawn, figured it'd be faster to do it at the market rather than making an extra stop at Jerome's on the way out..." He blusters a bit more, then finally settles to, "It's close enough to dawn, eh?"

He shoves the last bit of the fish pastry into his mouth, chewing noisily. "Well, now, we all here?" He does a mental count--Frantiska, Teldicia, Lyra, Hrud. "Where is Amara? Wasn't she with you Lyra?"

GM

"She is here." The doors of the temple open and Amara comes walking out, wearing a similarly indignant expression, apparently directed at the guiding hand of her new bodyguard resting on her shoulder. Brother Rant stands one step behind her, decked in full mail and coif, with a large triangular kite shield and mace strapped to his back. "I had to ask Sister Winona to wake her up, since I am not allowed in the women's quarters. Apparently Miss Lyra left the dormitories early..."

Frantiska

Frantiska nods curtly to Donovan again, then turns to Lyra and Teldicia. "So, what is our itinerary?"

Lyra

Lyra looks around at her traveling companions.  "First, we should pick up the wagon out in the slums.  Do we need additional fodder, or other supplies for the journey to Melvaunt?  It will be at least three days' travel each way."

Donovan

Donovan, trying to ignore Frantiska's obvious sexism, speaks up' "Thank you Lyra." He smiles at everyone else, "Good morning Brother Rant, Hrud, Teldicia." Then, "If everyone is ready let's just get going. The best place for cheap supplies is the Slums Market, and we can ask Ernst about fodder for the horses and the ox-team." He turns up the road and starts walking towards the gates.

He stops and pivots, "Oh? Did we figure out if anyone among us knows how to handle oxen?"

GM

Brother Rant begins translating for Hrud.  [Assume that Rant will translate all public conversation from this point on...]

Hrud

«I know a little about them» Hrud replies.

Frantiska

Frantiska considers that she might have the requisite skills, but imagines that the barbarian is much more suited to dealing with...cows. She pats Thistledown to reassure herself that being a teamster is not for her.

GM

You reach the gates in short order, and find two long lines of merchants, labors, adventurers, and even a few farmers queued up to leave the city--and almost all of them visibly armed in some fashion. The gates stand open and a double contingent of guards are ushering people through at a good pace, giving only cursory attention to everyone's papers, as they seem much more concerned with keeping the line moving and keeping the beggars and ruffians from the other side of the wall from coming in.

Donovan

Donovan asks Brother Rant to "Tell Hrud thank you for me." Then queues up at the gates.

Hrud & GM

«I'm driving a wagon?» Hrud asks Rant.

Brother Rant shrugs, «They seem to have hired a wagon for the trip to Melvaunt, but none of them know how to handle the oxen that would pull the thing.»

Hrud replies to Rant, "Dasi munggah pasukan padha ora bisa ngontrol, iku umum karo iki bangsa?"

Rant smiles, "Ya," he says simply.

Donovan

As the party makes its way through the gate, Donovan keeps a close hand on his purse, being more flush with cash than he has been in several months, if not longer. When the press of people on the far side of the gate becomes too much, he throws a large handful of coppers (pulled from a different pouch) haphazardly into the crowd off to the right-hand side of the road, then pulls the others behind him through the gap left by the beggars moving to collect the coins. "We've got a long way to travel," he mutters, his voice just barely audible to whoever is right behind him, "better to waste the coins than the time."

Frantiska

Frantiska rides along behind Donovan, pressing her last few coins, mostly gold, into the outstretched hands. While she is free with her money, she keeps a sharp eye on any hands the get too close to her fine boots, and the swords strapped to them. Once clear of the crowds, she continues to follow Donovan to their destination, keeping Thistledown at a slow walk and carefully picking their path around the refuse filling the streets.

Lyra

Lyra keeps a close eye on her belt pouch as they pass through the crowds.  "Umm....  Did anyone else hear those merchants in the queue talking about shipments from Melvaunt running into issues, or about the kobolds in the swamps having strange powers and growing to enormous size?"

Donovan

"Kobolds of unusual size? I don't think they exist..."

Hrud

Despite the crowd pressing in around the procession, no one seemed too eager to get close to Hrud, a situation the barbarian was happy to maintain. He was already feeling little confined within first the confines of the temple, then those of the city, and now the crowd surrounding them.

Hrud watched the scrawny, bedraggled forms of people - some crawling about on the ground, desperate to find a coin or two, others begging pathetically for a handout - and shook his head. He wondered if any of them ever once considered stepping outside the dirty, smelly city to dig up a root or catch a rabbit on their own.

As they gradually passed through the crowd, he began to feel it, out there ahead of him - the siren call of the open road. Well, not completely open, he reminded himself, as it appeared that he would be travelling with this caravan, but certainly better than being trapped behind stone walls. It was almost like participating in one of his tribe's Migrations. Hrud wondered what surprising and exciting new things this journey and it's unknown destination would held in store for him.

GM

You reach Ernst's Livery in short order. Up the street you can see construction on Professor Aumry's tower continuing apace, which is to say, you see the hundred or so workers slowly shuffling to their positions, and promptly laying down to rest. Three guards patrol Ernst's coral, leading a dozen or so horses about the enclosure to give them a semblance of exercise. The man himself stands just outside the coral, yoking a pair of Ayrshire steers, easily a ton a piece, to the massive wagon that the professor has contracted for you. Seeing you approach, he waves. He looks at the two riders and smiles, "Got yerselves a proper hescort, eh?"

Donovan

Donovan looks at the eighteen-foot monstrosity with its extra-wide wheels, How big IS this components shipment? he thinks to himself. "Aye, Ernst, we picked up a couple of outriders to help with the transport." He walks around the wagon, looking at the wheels, the hitch, peeking underneath, and otherwise trying to look like he knows anything about what he's looking at--and likely failing. "Is fodder for the oxen included in what the Professor gave you? Or will we have to acquire that on our own?"

GM

Ernst leads Donovan around to the back of  the covered wagon. "I want the animals back healthy, so the feeds included in the price. Thereare two bales of alfalfa hay and a bale of hops in there for them. You'll want to stake them out to graze in the evenings as well. If you want some oats for the horses, I could sell you a couple bushels..."

Hrud & GM

[assuming Rant is still translating, Hrud wants to know how much he charges for the oats for his own horse]

Ernst looks back and forth between the priest and the barbarian, listening to the exchange. "Tell yer friend that I'll charge 'im twenty gold for a thirty-two pound bushel of whole oats, bruised fer easier digestion of course, with some linseed added fer extra proteen. That's about a tenth off the going market rate, and should last 'im about three days if he's working the horse, six if the horse is an easy keeper. He'll probably want a block of salt too, which I can chip off for a silver a pound. One pound will probably cover him for the round trip to Melvaunt and back." As he talks, he walks around looking at the horses, seems not too impressed by the shaggy steppes pony, but stops and spends a long time staring at Thistledown then looks up at Frantiska. "This one's almost too young to be ridden, but I guess you elves are light, eh? She'll make an excellent brood mare in a year or so, if'n you don't break 'er. How much would you sell 'er fer?"

Hrud barely manages to stifle a gasp. 20 gold pieces - No wonder there are so many beggars here! One would have to go out of their way to starve a horse on the Ride, with its verdant rolling plains. Herds of wild horses thrive there, even through the snowy months ... Deciding not to dwell on the matter, Hrud simply nods and turns his attention to the driver's seat on the wagon.

Frantiska

Frantiska's face probably mirrors Hrud's on hearing the price, though less from surprise than the realization that she just gave away her last gold piece to a beggar. Hearing the follow-up comments, her face changes from one of mild depression to cold anger. "She is not for sale, Sir."

She turns to Lyra and addresses her in the mother tongue, «Lyrathwen, do you know anything about the possibility of forage between here and Melvaunt? Mr. Lietch mentioned some swamps. Is it such the entire way, or only partly?» She stops and thinks for a moment. «Actually, I remember passing along the swamp road to get here. It was not pleasant and took a few days to cross. Do you think this merchant would accept gems as payment? I'm afraid I gave out the last of my coins to those unfortunate's back there...»

Lyra

Lyra thinks for a moment.  «Merchants are usually happy to accept gems, especially if they are getting the better deal for it, or can transact them easily.  I could give you change for your gems if you would prefer that option.  And Frantiska ... that man you gave the gold piece to may very well be murdered in his sleep tonight for it.  Stability, not money, is what is needed to save the people of Phlan.  Someone or something tried to kill us five times yesterday, just going to that tower and back to the gates, yesterday.  It was a very eye-opening first day in town.»

Frantiska

Frantiska turns back to the liverer, pulling a large white amethyst from her pouch. "Here," she says handing it to him, "I would like two bushels of oats for the horses, and a large salt-block to share between the animals."

Without another word, she turns back to Lyra. «I saw some of that--kobold horse-thieves, animate skeletons, a gate to the nether-world, an oni, and a forest linnorm--all not more than two blocks from this very location. If it is this bad this close to the city, with such a strong Tyrran presence, I hate to imagine what it is like elsewhere in the ruins. Were it not for the pour souls unable to find shelter within the city walls, I would suggest that the Council just burn this shanty-town to the ground.» She looks around at the squatters huts and the rubble. «From the generosity that I saw at the temple, if we were to make a concerted effort to root out the more dangerous monsters and criminal elements, I'm sure the priests could do much to improve the lives of these people. Sadly though, even if bearing coin puts them at risk, I am sure these people need to eat, and in a town controlled by merchants, that means that they need money.»

GM

Ernst looks at the gem. "Aye...M'lady. I'll get that for you right away," he says, turning and heading towards a storage building inside the paddock.

"Are we about ready to leave then?" asks Brother Rant, lifting Amara up into the front wagon.

"Yeah, who's riding where?" Teldicia interjects, walking back to where Donovan is peaking under the keel. "If the barbarian is driving, will someone need to be riding his horse? Or should we tie it up and let it just follow behind?"

Hrud

Hrud, wearing pretty much all of his gear at this point, walks his horse to the rear of the wagon, where he loosely ties the reigns. «Since we raise them from birth, Eraka horses will follow their owners of their own accord. But I will keep him tied until we are out of the city»

Donovan

Donovan waits until Ernst has loaded the fodder for the horses in the back, then climbs up onto the driver's bench, making sure to leave plenty of room for the barbarian. He looks at Amara behind him, and around the rest of the wagon. "Looks like there is plenty of room for all of us up here. Hrud's driving. I'll navigate since I know the area best. Frantiska, you're riding, correct? Lyra, Amara, and Teldicia can ride in the covered section. Brother Rant, would you mind riding in the back and keeping a rear watch?"

As everyone gets in, he points to the left. "We should head towards the market first, to make sure we have food for ourselves, camping gear, and probably a tarp to string up to keep the animals dry when we camp. Then swing out to the west and circle north. There is a bridge north of the old textiles district--it's a little close to the older ruins for comfort, but the alternatives are either going strait through the ruins to the east, or trying to ford the Stojanow. Lyra, do you mind handling the shopping, or would you like me to? We should make sure two or three of us stay with the wagon to make sure the whole thing doesn't get stolen."

Lyra

Lyra nods.  "I can handle that.  What all do we need?"

Donovan

Donovan stops to consider, "Well, we'll need food for the seven of us for three days, four or five to be safe. Sleeping gear--though, if people don't mind being too cozy we can sleep in the wagon, in which case just blankets, otherwise sleeping bags for those that don't have them and at least one tent since it looks like rain. A large tarpaulin to cover the animals, especially their food, if it rains at night. I have a lantern, but we should probably have a second, plus three to four nights worth of oil. Flint, tinder, and firewood so we can have a hot meal and don't have to camp in the dark..." He stops and looks at the others. "Feel free to chime in if you think of something else we'd need for a three day trip through a swamp, or if you already have any of the such, so we can mark it off the list..."

"Oh, and you should probably take Amara along and see if you can help her find those candle or whatever she wanted to take for her grandmother."

Lyra

Lyra nods and commits the list to memory.  "Mother knows a few of the shelter spells, so I'm not really used to 'camping' in the traditional sense."

Frantiska

Frantiska turns Thistledown in the direction Donovan indicated, keeping the longsword Teldicia had given her layed across the pommel of her saddle as a warning to would-be thieves. "Lyra, do you know what sort of market this is? I can't imagine it being particularly legitimate, being in this ghetto. If it is an open-air market I should be able to follow on Thistledown to provide you and Amara with some security."

Hrud

«Can one fish in a swamp?» Hrud asks. «or hunt?»

GM

«Sure,» Brother Rant replies, «the knights of Iniarv's tower largely feed themselves on the swamp's bounty. Of course, it depends on what you prefer to eat. There are a lot of frogs, muskrats, beaver, raccoons, pope dear, furbears, though I think the tower-folk mostly hunt the big reptiles.» Once Amara is secure under the canopy, he climbs up in the back and calls up to Donovan, "If you're planning provisions, we should be able to press upon the hospitality of the Helmites at Iniarv's Hold for at least one meal."

Donovan

"Hunting and stopping at the tower both sound like good ideas, but we'll still need some amount of provisions." Donovan looks around to make sure everyone is aboard. "Alright, this ain't no hayride. Let's move 'em out of here!"

GM

The road south from the livery to the market is much wider, and, more importantly cleaner than the road running from the gates. While the road is largely clear of debris, corpses, and human waste, it is packed with people, making travel along the route very slow indeed. The crowd, for the most part, appears to be people just going about fairly normal lives--peasant women carrying baskets with babies or groceries, merchants hawking their wares, urchins running about, a farmer driving a herd of pigs to market, beggars and panhandlers asking for handouts--though the term people is used very broadly, as you see goblins, orcs, and even gnolls freely mixing with the human residents. More sinister undertones are obvious, however--you see small armed groups (mostly goblins and orcs) walking about, occasionally stopping at various merchants stalls where bribes are hastily handed over, you hear the sounds of weapons clashing and the occasional scream from side alleys, you pass collapsed buildings, both ancient and recent, and even have to stop at one point while a couple of dead adventurer-types are dragged out of the road in front of you.

Judging by the accumulation of flies and the lack of valuables, it looks as if the bodies had been lying there for several hours. The creatures that pulled them out of the road are best described as 'whats'--vaguely humanoid, they wear billowing, thread-bare robes which do little to hide their misshapeness. One has a severe hunchback, which helps to keep his face hidden in the folds of the robes, but his exposed feet are grotesque, the left is tiny and turned inward, like a child with a club-foot, the right looks like a bird's talon affected by a severe pox, his hands are wrapped in strips of rag. The second's head is uncovered, revealing a horrible, bloated mismatch of parts--one ear pointed elf-like, the other large and fan-shaped, a large porcine nose, differently sized eyes of a color that resembles urine, the vestiges of a third eye slightly off-center in the forehead, a mouth filled with bleeding gums and smattering of oddly-angled teeth, and a few loose strands of straw-coloured hair over a lumpy cranium.

Once the bodies are cleared, the two creatures both bow deeply, the better to hide their faces, and hold out chipped wooden bowls to you, as if expecting some recompense for the service.

Frantiska

Frantiska rides along slowly, torn between fascination at the ancient ruins around her and a kind of enraged horror at the violence of the city. For a time she scans the crowds, detecting evil, then gives up when she realizes how truly despicable the population of this ghetto really are. She guides Thistledown closer to the wagon and leans down to be heard by those within, "I hear screaming. Should we help?"

Donovan

Donovan watches the mongrelfolk with feigned interest while scanning the crowd around him--this smells like a set up, he thinks. When the bodies are cleared without an ambush happening he breathes an inward sigh of relief and flips a silver into each of the two misfits' bowls. As the wagon starts moving again, he suddenly realizes that that was probably the set up and looks behind to see if they were replacing the corpse-roadblock for the next passersby.

He looks up at Frantiska as they ride along, avoiding eye contact by looking at her chest, so as to not make her uncomfortable--nice view anyways--and responds, "Other than picking up the wagon this morning, the Professor didn't give us a strict timeline for his deliveries. We can't help everyone, but if you want to check out the screams, I'll back you up." After a brief pause he continues, "This place sucks, but its home. Would you guys be in for making a concerted effort to clean this place up once we get back from Melvaunt?"

GM

They wait until you are about a block away, but sure enough, Donovan looks back to see the two mongrelmen dragging the bodies back into the middle of the street.

Frantiska

Frantiska takes a deep breath, ignoring Donovan's lecherous gaze, "Alright, we may not be able to help everyone, but even one life saved is worth it." She turns Thistledown in the direction of the screams. "Hrud, kita akan memeriksa jeritan. Kau mau datang? Lyra, are you coming?"

Donovan

Donovan shakes his head at the unnecessary heroism of the elven woman, but wordless slides down out of the wagon. "Teldicia, Brother Rant, can you two guard Amara and the wagon while we check this out?"

Lyra

Lyra slips out of the back of the wagon, glancing back at the robed figures dragging bodies.  "I'm still not much help in a fight, but I'll do what I can."  She looks up at Frantiska.  "If I were to get a set of archery targets, would you be willing to teach me how to shoot sometime?"

Frantiska

"Lyra, if you get yourself a bow, I can turn you into a competent archer right now...and then would gladly train you later." Frantiska nudges Thistledown to move, using the warhorse to push a gap through the crowd for her allies to follow. «For now,» she calls over her shoulder in elvish, «we have more pressing concerns.»

Hrud

Unsure if he should leave the wagon, and even less sure of exactly what the elven woman was trying to say, Hrud sighs, unslings his short bow and hops down, knocking an arrow as he follows. «As long as someone is watching the wagon ... », he says to Rant, in passing.

GM

Teldicia moves up to the front of the wagon, cocking and loading a crossbow. "Hurry back," she calls after Donovan.

Rant maintains his perch in the back of the wagon, "Coba supaya mau metu saka alangan," he says to Hrud as everyone runs off.

Frantiska leads the way, Thistledown cleaving a path up the road and then down an angled alley towards the sounds of the screaming. Supremely used to adventurers, do-gooders, and meddlers rushing about at the slightest sign of trouble, the crowd easily parts to let you pass. Dashing down the alley you come by the back way to the northeastern edge of the market. The screams, now clearly identifiable as female, though weakening and interspersed with sobs, appear to be coming from inside a long, low stone building to your left, one of many that mark the perimeter of the old market square. To your right is a fortune-teller's stall, a triangular sign with the traditional palm symbol identifying it as "Madam Esmerelda's" in common. A brightly dressed old woman leans against one of the tent posts, arms crossed, staring dispassionately at the closed door of the building from which the screaming emanates and looking at you with a raised eyebrow as if to say, 'What can you do about it?'

Donovan

Donovan stops at the door, smiles at the Gypsy-woman, and tightens up his grip on his staff. "So, should we just rush in there and see what's up?"

Frantiska

Frantiska knocks and arrow and walks up to the door, ignoring the callous glances from the fortune-teller. "Judging by the sounds, I'm not sure we have time for detailed intelligence gathering." She looks over at Hrud, "Hrud, anda ingin menghancurkan membuka pintu?"

Lyra

Lyra peers through a gap in the crumbling building.  "It looks like at least six men surrounding someone, and I assume the screams are from the person they're hitting.  Is that sufficient intelligence for now?  Mr. Donovan, crowds seem to be your specialty."

Hrud

Hrud quickly stows his short bow and unsheathes his broad sword. Moving to the door, he tries the latch, ready to barrel through should it open ... and determined to smash it open if it does not.

GM

The door swings open easily, looking as if it was closed in a hurry and not latched at all. Inside you find what appears to be a warehouse, with many boxes piled around, and a small gang of orcs, eight in all, in various states of disrobement and disarray. Only a few are armed, though many weapons lie about on the floor in easy reach. A human girl, perhaps in her mid-teens lies naked on the stone floor. She looks severely battered, her face a mass of bruises and her nose askew, and is being held down by a particularly large orc who is forcing himself on her. The other orcs stand around, grunting "Ebe! Ebe!" presumably cheering him on. Judging from the amount of blood on the ground, he is not the first...

Frantiska

Frantiska gasps and nearly pukes in a mixture of rage, horror, and revulsion, her fingers loosing the string of her bow which, by coincidence of staring at the scene is pointed at the one currently raping the girl. Recovering her senses as the arrow strikes home, she immediately knocks another arrow, chants the words of a charged arrow spell, and lets fly at the rapist. "GET OFF OF HER!" she screams in common.

Lyra

As the door allows light into the room, the surprise, shock, and disgust are clear on Lyra's face.  She places a hand against, no, through the wall; concentrating as the space between gives way, and she pulls the girl through into the alley.

Donovan

"Crowds...right," Donovan fumbles in his bag for a pinch of sand and flings it into the building, casting a sleep spell at the orcs.

Seeing the bloody and battered girl materialize beside him, he then reaches into his backpack for the rod of health.

Hrud

Hrud rushes in, making a bee line for the nearest Orc.

GM

Frantiska's first, clumsy, instinctive shot buries itself into the orc's exposed ass-cheek, causing the creature to jerk and then fall forward as the girl vanishes out from under him. All the orcs begin to yawn as Hrud rushes in, swinging wildly. Hrud strikes mightily, but finds the orcs falling before his blows get close enough to connect, as the three closest to the floor collapse, asleep. As the remaining orcs spin around, the room is lit up by Frantiska's second arrow, crackling with electricity, striking the still dazed and confused orc rapist in the back. There is a small explosion, a spray of sparks and viscera, and the orc is left lying where it fell, a smoking hole the size of its head where its chest cavity was a moment before.

The four orcs still standing look confusedly at their prey standing outside and surrounded by armed, spellcasting ruffians, rather than lying on the ground where they expect her to be, then at their friends lying suddenly unconscious, apparently struck down just by the wind coming off the mighty barbarian's blade, then at the smoking hole that is their leader's torso, then at the face, and the bow of the enraged elf-woman standing in the doorway. Looks of unbridled terror cross their faces. They ignore the weapons lying about and make mad, scrambling dives to take cover behind the various barrels and crates filling the warehouse.

Donovan

Pulling out the rod, Donovan rushes to help Lyra catch the girl as she falls out of space. "Nice trick that..." he says, pressing the hand end of the rod lightly to the girls skin and willing it to bring forth its curative powers.

Lyra

Once the girl has her footing after being unexpectedly upright again, Lyra digs in her backpack and wraps a blanket around the girl. What could she possibly say to her?  That she's safe?  Was anywhere in the slums safe?  That it would be ok?  Would it be ever again for her?

Lyra shakily puts her hand on the wall again, this time bracing herself against the oncoming headache.

Frantiska

Frantiska knocks another arrow to her bow, "Donovan," she says, "when we get back we are definitely cleaning this place out. I'll go door to door if I have to..." and fires again, and again, at the panicking orcs.

Hrud

Hrud stalks the nearest conscious Orc, determined to feel his blade bite deep this time.

GM

The girl collapses into Lyra and Donovan's arms and promptly passes out from blood-loss. Even with the swiftly applied healing, it looks as if she may never find her footing again, judging from the awkward angle that her left knee has taken--though you might be able to set that...you think. While she seems stable, she appears to have several broken bones and...other injuries which may never heal.

As you all concentrate on the girl's health, the orcs dash for cover. Unable to find another exit from the building, one orc actually runs shoulder-first into one of the crumbling brick walls with enough force to shake the building slightly. While he seems dazed, the hole he creates is large enough for one of his friends to start climbing through...only to be nailed in the back by Frantiska's first shot, causing him to go limp, effectively blocking that mode of egress.

Hrud's swing narrowly misses the third orc, maybe even grazes it's heel, as it dives headfirst over a pile of crates, screaming "Pooš!"

The last orc, seeing no other recourse, scrambles for the pile of weapons, coming back to his feet with a strange, green-bladed, basket-hilted, broadsword in his hand. He glares at Hrud and strikes an en garde, then staggers backwards a step as Frantiska's second arrow takes him in the left shoulder, right through the iron-studded jerkin he is wearing. Growling he snaps off the arrow and looks ready to charge the door.

Lyra

Lyra picks up the girl as best she can.  "We should get her back to Brother Rant.  Maybe he can ... augh, my head."  Lyra shakes her head, eyes squeezed tightly shut. Which really only makes things worse. "If we get her back to the wagon, I have spare clothes, and Brother Rant might be able to assist with some of these injuries."

Donovan

Donovan looks at Lyra, "You've done that a few times now...How far can you go? Can you get yourself and the girl to the wagon so Brother Rant can administer to her?"

He moves over behind Frantiska, and grips his staff like a spear, ready to lash out past her at any orc that get's too close.

Frantiska

Frantiska squints to focus on the orcs as white spots begin to dance in front of her eyes and the throbbing begins again in her temples. "I hate kobolds," she mutters as she knocks another arrow. She considers stepping back to avoid the orc getting ready to charge, but with Hrud to slow it down and Lyra and the girl behind her, she decides to stand her ground. She looks for targets--five orcs down, one behind the crates, one too close to Hrud, and...that one. She unleashes both arrows at the orc who bashed that hole in the wall.

Hrud

Hrud, extremely frustrated that he can't seem to land a blow, bears down on the remaining orc.

GM

The orc with the sword feints towards Hrud, though still too far back to connect, then charges Frantiska and the door. Hrud pivots and easily hits the orc as it runs by him, causing it to stumble forward, dropping its blade much too low to stop the butt of Donovan's staff from ramming it in the stomach. The orc bends double over the staff, knocking Donovan backwards from the force of the impact, then slumps, incapacitated to the floor.

Frantiska stands her ground solidly against the oncoming orc, then calmly unleashes her arrows once it drops out of her line of fire. The other orc, still dazed from running head-first into a brick wall, however effective that might have been, is struck cleanly by the first arrow, and would have fallen to the ground, had the second arrow not come right behind it and pinned the dead orc to the wall.

From behind the pile of crates you hear the last orc screaming "E! Skrše Zab! Pooš! E bol, e bol!  Pooš! E e go kažeš! Toa e sao eda devoJka, te e se bro! Pooš! Jas zvad! Jas zvad!"

Lyra

Lyra could barely walk, carrying a girl the same size as herself.  I'm not much use in a fight, but I'll do what I can to help.  Through the haze of pain, she knew what had to be done.  The stone wall in front of her gives way to the wood and canvas cross section of their covered wagon.  As gently as she could, she lifts the girl and places her into the back of the wagon.  She leans forward, just enough.  "BROTHER RANT!"  The girl safely out of harm's way, Lyra's fingers gently caress the rough, crumbling stone of the wall for a moment.  "It's ... complicated."

Hrud

Hrud moves to the fallen Orc, takes the green broadsword from it's slack grip and executes it with its own weapon - curious to see what, if anything, happens.

GM

It dies. The sword's grip is a little thicker than you are used to, but the heft and balance are very nice. You also notice two identical swords lying near the other, sleeping orcs. Aside from the green blade, the other notable feature of these swords is that the shell-guards are made to look like a gauntletted fist, and have two black eyes painted on the back.

Hrud

Hrud turns to Frantiska and, pointing his sword at the (very soon to be) only remaining survivor, asks, "Bisa diajak Orc?"

Frantiska

Frantiska shrugs, "Saya tidak berbicara Orc," then walks in, asking over her shoulder, "Do either of you speak Daraktan, or should we just execute these barbarous pigs?" Her voice clearly conveys that the latter is the preferable option.

Lyra

Lyra shakes her head.  "I can usually pick out parts of it, but not always enough to make sense.  I think we've established that 'Pooš' is 'help', but I was a bit distracted to catch everything he was yelling.  Brother Rant may, but he's probably a bit busy at the moment, and I'm really not in the mood to negotiate for, or accept, surrender, given the circumstances."  Lyra slumps against the wall, rubbing her temples.

Hrud

Hrud sheathes one of the two swords he's carrying and walks over to the Orc cowering behind the barrel. He reaches down and yanks him up by his filthy hair, holding the other Orc's green sword to it's throat. "Pedhang wis arti. Njupuk iki siji menyang klapa lan beras."

Frantiska

Frantiska furrows her brow against the rising pain, and starts to go around, dispatching the sleeping or wounded orcs with her shortsword. She tries to follow what Hrud is saying, but is completely lost.

GM

As Hrud pulls the orc upright, it continues to scream, clearly not understanding a word Hrud is saying. Seeing his companions being executed, his eyes widen and he begins to blubber even more. "E! Dolgo zeJa, Hung Kako Bul, Ltl Topk, Ja Ebe Od Pozad, Skrše Zab, Crvea Agare, Toa Trae Vo Zadot! Ve ste g ubJa! Ve ste g ubJa! Pooš! Džudžja! Pooš! Zee ož! Zee devoJka! E e ubJat! E e ubJat!"

Hrud

"Aku bakal bali. Mbantu nindakake laro."  Hrud says, and marches the orc out of the building and back to the wagon. Upon seeing Rant, he says «A group of orcs were caught raping a girl.» Laying the green broadsword on the wagon by Rant. «And they had these swords. This one is talking, but we don't understand.»

«I have to help them carry stuff.» Hrud says, grabbing his captive's wrist and pressing the orc's hand to one of the posts on the wagon. The barbarian then grabs one of his arrows and slams it into the orc's hand, pinning him firmly to the wagon. «Stay here.»

GM

Brother Rant looks up from where he has just finished popping the girl's hip-joint back into place. Hearing Hrud's account and seeing the sword, he glares daggers at the orc, asks Teldicia to watch the girl, and climbs out of the wagon. «The sword is the mark of Xvim and the Church of Darkness. I did not think Mace and his crew would act so openly.» He pulls the mace off of his back. "Što e vašeto e ork?"

The orc, between piteous wails and attempts to dislodge his hand replies "Ebam TvoJot čerep!"

Rant then speaks loudly, drawing the attention of the passers-by.

"Ebam TvoJot čerep. Ste ble obvet za krvčo delo sluvaje, kako sle zakosk, baterJa protv ovaa devoJka, služ a teata volJa a Xvim, Sot a surovosta. Od svedočejeto a ove svedoc dokaz što se gleda tuka, ve ste se aJde va vo očte a Sovetot, a Tyr, a Zakoot. Kako sudJa Tyr, Jas ḱe rečeca da eposreda srt. Kako Tyr Zakoot se edo, eka bde taka."

He then translates into the Common tongue.

"Orc. You have been accused of the crime of rape, both forceful and statutory, and battery against this girl, and serving the dark will of Xvim, the Son of Cruelty. By the testimony of these witnesses and the evidence seen here, you are found guilt in the eyes of the Council, of Tyr, and of the Law. As Tyr's judge, I sentence you to immediate death. As Tyr and the Law are one, let it be so."

And the local language.

"Cherep Ublyudok. Vy buly zvynuvacheni u zlochyni z·hvaltuvannya, yak sylʹnyy i zakonom, i batareya proty tsiyeyi divchyny, i sluzhachy temnu volyu Zvima, Syna zhorstokosti. Za svidchennyam tsykh svidkiv i dokaziv bachyly tut, vy znayshly provynu v ochakh Rady, Tir, ta Zakonu. Yak suddi Tir, ya zasudyty vas do nehaynoyi smerti. Yak Tir i Zakon odyn, nekhay bude tak."

And again for Hrud's benefit.

"Kéwan. Sampeyan wis dipuntudhuh saka angkara saka rudo pekso, loro kuwat lan kukumipun, lan baterei iki marang prawan, lan porsi bakal peteng Xvim, Putraning kekejeman. Miturut paseksiné iki saksi, lan bukti katon kene, sampeyan ditemokaké kaluputan ing mripate Dhéwan, saka Tyr lan Hukum. Minangka Tyr kang ngadili, aku ukara sampeyan langsung mati. Minangka Tyr lan Hukum iku siji, supaya iku dadi."

He grips his mace in both hands and brings it down full-force right onto the orc's head with a sickening crunch.

"Let all who bear witness know that Tyr's law has been done." He breaks the arrow off, allowing the orc's body to fall to the street.

Hrud

Having stopped to witness the execution before rounding the corner, Hrud gives Rant a nod before setting off. The elf woman would have liked to have seen that, he thinks.

Hrud then makes his way back to the others.

Donovan

Donovan seems dazed and sits rubbing at his head for a while before finally getting up off his ass. "At least we're getting better at this whole killing things thing," he says to no-one in particular, as he watches Frantiska and Hrud dispose of the orcs. He hauls himself up and starts systematically removing valuables from the orcs. Given the interesting swords, he casts detect magic just for good measure.

Lyra

At the sight of the pile of trinkets being gathered up, Lyra turns and retches, the full force of what just happened hitting her.  She leans with her forearm against the wall, the other hand holding her skirt and cloak out of the way, her shoulders shaking until there is nothing left but dry heaves and sobs.

Lyra coughs and wipes her mouth with the back of her hand, and stands back up.  She half smooths her skirt and carefully rearranges her cloak to re-conceal the soft glow around her.  "The swords mark them as favored of the temple of Xvim.  As for the green....  Huh."  Lyra looks both confused and deeply concerned.  "The alloy is from the plane of Baator, and particularly effective against extraplanar creatures, especially the Tanar'ri."

Donovan

Donovan looks at the green swords carefully, "Carrying these would probably give us a good amount of clout with the tribes in the old city, but might get us arrested, or at least questioned, in New Phlan--Xvim not being particularly popular with the Tyrran-led government. Still, these are good weapons and might be pretty useful if we ever have to deal with the Xvimlar or the orc tribes...or if we run into demons. Matteo the Smith does some lacquer work and his shop is just on the other side of the market here. Maybe he could give the guards a coat of paint to make them less obvious religious icons. Even if he can't I think we should hang on to these."

"There are plenty of undead beasts and similar monsters that they say can only be harmed by enchanted weapons, so it's probably worthwhile for us all to have one." He picks one up and makes a clumsy swing with it. "I never really learned to fence, but 'stick them with the pointy end' seems easy enough. Frantiska has Sir Guy's Spoon [love the Price of Thieves reference], so you should probably grab the other one, Lyra.

"Lyra," he says, "you have a remarkable gift. I can understand why you would want to keep it secret--especially given how useful it would be for escaping capture or imprisonment. I promise not to speak of it openly...and I'm very glad to have you on our side." He stops and thinks for a moment, trying to ignore the growing pain behind his eyes. "You're the one who got your mother and yourself onto the boat, aren't you?" He smiles, "I thought your mother's explanation for how you got there sounded a little off. She can't teleport on her own, can she?"

Lyra

"Gift?"  Lyra scoffs.  "My mother wanted me to grow up to be a powerful mage like her.  My 'gift' ruined that."  Lyra sighs.  "This is the only time the matter will be up for discussion.  A natural telepath, untrained in defending oneself, is a very dangerous thing to be, so she grudgingly allowed me to hone my skills.  The headaches.  I don't think they were caused by Frantiska.  Mother may have done something to ... discourage ... any further public display of my abilities.  It is my understanding that my way is both easier and more precise than the more traditional magical teleportation.  And with a moving target, precision is everything.  Look through Mother's eyes as she scries the vessel, calculate the necessary adjustments for speed, acceleration and direction, and just ... go.  We made it to Phlan from Waterdeep in less than a week.  Partly Mother, partly me.  I haven't pressed her for why we left in such a hurry, but she burned most of her research before doing so.  She's trying to protect me from something, and I don't know what.  But if she thinks here of all places is safer for us than back in Waterdeep...."

Donovan

"Lyra," Donovan looks at her with narrowed eyes, "no offense, but if these headaches are your mother's doing, I may have to turn her over my knee at some point." He gathers up the rest of the weapons, armor, and other loot, using one of the orc's cloaks as a makeshift bindle. "Frantiska, can you and Hrud grab a corner here."

"Also, did you say you can see through your mother's eyes? What else can you do?"

Frantiska

Hearing Brother Rant's voice carrying [it sounded like we're only a block away or so, right?] Frantiska steps out of the building to listen to his pronouncement, pleased both that justice is being done and at his impressive linguistic skills, Maybe I can pick his brain as we journey, she thinks. Teh deed done, she walks back in and looks distastefully at the swords--only a Xvimlar would mass produce magic weapons and then give them to orcs. "Mr. Leitch, much as I hate the look of these things, your reasoning is sound. Better that you should take them than for them to end up in the hands of other creatures such as these." She leans down and grabs the other side of the tarp. "What do you intend to do with the rest of this? There are enough weapons and armor here to start a small army."

Hrud

As the group carries the load back to the wagon, he slides the leather curiass and spears over to his side and makes a mental note to retrieve the sword he left at the wagon.

Lyra

Lyra distastefully picks up the last green sword, and gives it an awkward swing.  "Wasn't there something about a broadsword course at the training hall?  We might want to look into that when we get back."

She speaks softly, as if not wishing to be overheard.  "As for what I can do, some you've seen firsthand.  Telepathic two-way conversation, which is how I arranged for us to speak with Professor Aumry.  Traveling hundreds of miles while sleeping to awaken somewhere else.  Displacing myself in time, which really isn't as interesting as I thought it would be.  With animals and a wagon there's really nothing I could do to expedite our journey, although without those, and with the liberty to operate openly, dream travel would have had us all there in Melvaunt in time for breakfast."