Silday 30th of Ohtamo Year of Sola 1342
The small group sat around the table. All currently being at a loose end they had run into each other at The Dragon’s Flagon – a small, but well-established local pub – and decided to grab a drink together and exchange potential job information.
As it happened there had been many rumors flying around Caradys recently. Clan Delmaer was missing an alchemist, while Clan Aquenes was missing a smuggler, and the Brelian town of Skevill was being plagued by monsters. Arakai and Lissa, being averse to violence with creatures strong than themselves quickly vetoed the plight of Skevill.
Senka shrugged and added her two coins, “It’s rarely a bad thing to gain favor with the oldest clan. Besides, this town could really use a good alchemist.”
The others quickly agreed. Sending Lumpy down to the docks with a note for Capt Elma, Senka left to pack supplies and get more information from Annuka, one of her Delmaer contacts.
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Ansday 32nd of Ohtamo Year of Sola 1342
After two days in the air The Topaz Star they reached Brelia.
Brelia is an odd place, not often do you see such a cluster of large islands that travel together so closely and regularly. The port town of Duvton, a busy town full of busy people, was their destination. Capt Elma skillfully navigated the traffic through the large dock area at the edge of the island and brought them safely into an open berth.
Over the course of the trip, the party had decided that the best route to finding Varet – the missing alchemist – would be to search out The Lady’s Storm if she was still in port. This being the ship he was supposed to have come to Duvton aboard. And so they disembarked and wended their way through the shipyard asking directions until they found her.
Arakai, taking the lead, boldly started up the lowered gangplank smiling around at everyone. A cloud-blessed woman with a missing ear stepped into her path.
“Hey now, where do you think you’re going?”
Stopping Arakai arched an eyebrow, “I have business with the Captain.”
“Uh huh…. And what’s your name?” The crewman, persisted, unimpressed.
“She doesn’t need to know my name. I am a Lantern and can do as I please.”
“Wait. You’re… You’re a Lantern? I’m sorry Your Grace, I didn’t realize. I didn’t recognize your robes." Teh woman bobbed a little bow. "Umm.. Of course… Would you like to come on board or should I bring the Captain to you?”
“Bring the Captain to me.”
“Yes, of course of course.” And with another quick bow, she hurried off below decks garnering weird looks from the other crew present.
Several minutes later the crewman returns to the deck with a muscular earth-blessed woman with quick eyes and a wide mouth. They approach the group waiting on the gangplank.
“Hello, Lantern. I am Captain Pelland. I was told you have business with me….” Her voice was laden with indifference.
“Yes, I do. Was Alchemist Varet on your boat? Do you know what happened to him?”
“Oh yes, Varet. Varet and his pet were both here. We dropped them off when we arrived 5 or 6 days ago. He went somewhere in town to wait for his connecting flight. An inn I assume."
“Would any of your crew members know which inn he went to?” Arakai pressed.
“I suspect not, there’re not that many inns here though. He’s reasonably well off so I’m assuming he’s not at one of the worse off inns. Ahh, what’s that one called….something… something Dagger is one of the better inns, though there are a couple others. I’m not too familiar with the inns in Duvton.” Capt Pellant gestured toward the town.
“Thank you for your time.”
Having waited patiently, Senka took the opportunity to ask, "“What sort of pet did Varet have with him?”
“It’s this strange creature, like…kind of like your pet there.” She pointed at Lumpy. “Although, stiffer.”
Lumpy looks surprised.
“Some sort of golem I believe, wood and metal or something. I don’t know. It didn’t talk to me."
Looking back at the town Lumpy started back down the gangplank.
“Can you give us any directions to this Dagger Inn?” Senka quickly inquired of the Captain.
“Uh, no. I’m not sure where it is. I don’t spend much time in the town. I generally stay with my ship.”
Not to be denied Arakai turned to the Lantern awed crewman, “What about you? Do you know where this Inn is located?”
“I’m afraid I can’t really help you much there Your Grace. I’m sure one of the locals can give you directions.”
Turning to follow Lumpy they head deeper into the docks in search of Dock Master Casant. Finding the rain-blessed man grumpy and overly occupied a nearby dock-hand directed them to Morgarus – the Dock Foreman – a cloud-blessed woman with bright, friendly eyes.
“Hello. Dock Foreman Morgaris? Senka asked as they approached.
“Yes, what can I do for you?”
“Do you know an inn with a name something to do with Daggers?”
“Yes, that would be The Boiling Dagger. It’s on the North side of town.” Morgaris smiled at the group.
“Did you by chance see an older CB man, come through here within the last week, would have a golem with him most likely?”
“Well now, I’ve seen a lot of old CB men, but golem… Not apart from the ones that work here loading ships. Not that I remember.”
“This man may have had some very large books with him. Does that stand out at all?” Senka continued to inquire.
“Hmmm…. No, I don’t think so. Doesn’t ring any bells.”
“Well, thank you for the directions.” Senka nodded to the woman the group continued through the docks. Asking around as they went.
Senka studying the people around them more closely was uneasy to discover that while the crowd around them seemed pleasant at first glance, and there was a watch of some sort patrolling, they were greatly outnumbered by the unsavory looking folk, and there was much whispering in the alleyways. There were also a great many people pointing or paying special attention to Lumpy, far more than even a large golem warranted. And come to think of it….
Senka turned to the group, "Lissa, I strongly recommend staying away from the Captain we talked to earlier, she was eyeing you a bit too hard and I’m not sure why.”
They eventually find a dock-hand that remembered Varet.
“Aye, the alchemist wi’ the large books. I sent him over to The Humble Sphinx. Good place if ye’ve got the coin for it.”
After getting the directions Senka looked to the group. One of their members was missing.
“Has anyone seen where Arakai got to? Lissa? Lumpy?”
Lumpy looked to Lissa and then shook his shoulders no. Lumpy them points his arm at Lissa, then points up then back down.
Lissa, taking the cue, soared up into the air above the docks, scanning the crowd with her binoculars. From this higher vantage, she quickly spots not only Arakai but the two shady men following her as well. Hurriedly descending once more she imparts the information to Senka and Lumpy, before flitting off to follow the followers. Lumpy and Senka following behind.
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Meanwhile, Arakai, realizing she has been separated from the group, is wandering through the edge of the docks looking through doors and peering into windows. Not paying attention to where she is walking Arakai turns another corner and runs into a tall, thin cloud-blessed man.
“Hey. You should watch where you’re going.” The man growls.
“Opps. Sorry.” Arakai stated distractedly.
“It’s dangerous in Duvton to be wandering alone.”
“I’ll keep that in mind next time I go out for a walk.”
Kai sensed someone has come up behind her, glancing over her shoulder she saw a short, fat cloud-blessed man. His hand on something behind his back.
Turning back to forward she starts forward to walk past the thin man. “Excuse me gentlemen, but I have places to be.”
The man smiles and puts his arm out to stop her.
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Lumpy, close enough now to see this over the thinning crowd, starts waving his arms, though it is unclear if he is waving at Arakai or trying to clear the crowd away for an easier path.
Having turned again Arakai catches sight of Lumpy and waves in return.
“That’s my friend.” Arakai smiles smugly.
The men looked surprised. “Oh… That’s a nice… that’s a good friend. In that case, it seems like you’re safe enough as it is. You can move along.” They both step out of her way.
“Well, thank you for caring about my safety. I’ll be on my way.” Arakai quickly makes her way over to the party and hugs Lumpy.
The party, reunited, made their way to The Humble Sphinx.
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The Humble Sphinx is a well put together inn, if nothing too fancy. Outside the carved wooden sign with a bowing sphinx sways in a breeze. Upon entering the group realizes that this inn is certainly a step above the norm, with individual rooms to rent rather than communal floor sleeping. This would be a place to go for anyone with coin who wished a modicum of privacy. They wend their way to the back of the room where they can see the bar.
“Hello folks, I’m Edan the proprietor here. What can I do for you?”
Senka nodded in greeting. “I’m looking for a friend I was supposed to meet here. Older cloud-blessed gentleman, might have been carrying around some large books. I had information that he stayed here. Do you by chance remember him?”
“Ah yes, that’d be Varet. He’s here, well, he is currently staying here. He’s out at the moment, at least I think he is, I haven’t seen him in a while anyway.”
“Do you know which room was his? I’d like to wait there and meet him.” Senka smiled.
Edan raised an eyebrow. “Well now, people pay for privacy. I’m not about to just let you go into his room. I could get into a lot of trouble. But you could wait out here.”
“I appreciate the quality of the privacy here. Has anything interesting happened in your establishment recently?”
“Oh sure, there’s always interesting stuff. Just this other day, this guy came in, tall bulky earth-blessed type, and he’s a dentist. It’s crazy." Edan paused and shook his head. “We have many interesting folks, many are just interesting in forgettable ways. We did have a guy in here 5 weeks ago, spent a week here. Said he was waiting on some shipment, but seems it never showed up. Scary looking guy, but ya know, don’t tell him I said that.” Edan winked at the group. "Seemed to get angrier and angrier every day until eventually, he left. Never did find out what happened to his shipment.”
“You do seem to have some colourful clientele. Has there been anyone else here to visit Varet?”
“Umm… No. He’s only been here a couple days. 3 or 4 I think. He’s just all alone in that room. Spends a lot of time out and about. He was asking me about this golem creature I haven’t seen it, but he seems awfully concerned about it. Can I get you anything to eat or drink? We make real good stew here.”
“I would certainly like to try your stew while we wait for Varet.”
“All right, excellent. That’ll be one coin each. It’s very good stew." Edan paused as his eyes went to Lumpy, "I suppose you don’t eat much….”
Lumpy shook his shoulders no.
“And you ma’am? Would you like some stew?”
The group settles at a table to wait for Varet.
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A few hours later
A sad looking cloud-blessed man in a bright red cloak entered the Humble Sphinx. Lumpy, noticing he looks much like the description of Varet that they were given waves his arm. Noticing the golem, the man walks over to their table.
Senka gestures for the man to take a seat with them. “Hello, Varet my friend, our mutual acquaintance Annuka has been quite worried about you and sent me in search.”
“I’m sorry, Annuka?”
“Oh Caradys, okay. One of the Delmaers I assume. I don’t know any of them too terribly well. Yes, I suppose they must be a bit concerned. What’s your name.. names?”
“My name is Senka, This is our friend Lumpy, and these ladies are Lissa and Arakai.” Senka points them out each in turn.
“I’m pleased to make your acquaintance." Varet nods pleasantly around the group. "Yes, I imagined they might send someone, though you are certainly a more impressive group than I expected. I wasn’t able to make my connecting flight. Unfortunately, Fiona has gone missing.”
“Is that the friend of yours that I have heard rumors about around the docks?”
“Yes, yes. Fiona is my assistant. Wonderful golem. She’s kinda conspicuous. Shortly after leaving The Lady’s Storm we got separated and I haven’t been able to find her since. I suspect foul play. She’s a marvelous, marvelous person. But I haven’t been contacted for any ransom or anything like that." Varet looks sadly down at his hands. "I’m sorry, but I cannot go to Caradys until Fiona is safe. Would you maybe be able to help me find her or do you wish to simply go back and inform Delmaer of the situation.”
Senka looked around at the group and considered the situation briefly. “The Clan Delmaer is very eager to have you onboard, so I suspect they would not take kindly to us abandoning you in your plight. What have you managed to find out thus far?”
“Very little. There’s all sort of unsavory types here, but not a lot of them will talk to me." Varet shook his head. "I have narrowed down that there are a few more significant crime families or organizations. The Vameli family, the Abrinul group, and.. oh what was it…. Edan, what’s the Z crime family? Zenal…? Yes, Zenal. They are the significant ones, though there are many unaffiliated hooligans. That’s basically all I’ve figured out and really, most of that was just Edan telling me.” Varet motioned toward the proprietor.
At the mention of the Abrinul Lumpy had perked up and rummaged around until he came up with the paper he had about Clan Aquenes’ missing smuggler. Ripping off the word Aquenes he handed it to Senka then took two of his loose bits of yarn and held them together.
Cocking her head Senka asked, “Clan Aquenes has a connection to the Abrinul group?”
“Do you know what kind of connection? Are they friendly or no?”
Lumpy paused for a moment trying to recollect, then shook his shoulders no.
“Alright, Varet. We’ll start with this and see what we can find.” Senka went to talk further with Edan while the others mingled among the other patron seeing what information they could find. Eventually, they were informed of a person that might be able to help them. Pegdus the Snitch, who just by virtue of names seemed like the kind of person to talk to.
Leaving Lissa at the Inn to watch over Varet they rest of the group ventured out to where the snitch was known to frequent.
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“Hello Pegdus. I hear you’re a person to talk to if we need information….” Senka eyes the flabby toad-like man. He had glinty eyes, that she didn’t trust.
“Aye, aye, information. I am good with information. You need to know stuff, I can help you. This is the part where you tell me what you need to know.”
“Well Pegdus," Senka drawled, "we are searching for a golem that has been sighted around Duvton recently. Would you happen to know anything about that?”
“There’s a lot of golems.”
“This one is new, and unique.”
“Ahh, new and unique. Hmmmm…. hmmmm….” Pegdus stroked his chin with one of his long, three-fingered hands, while holding the other out toward the group. Lumpy reached for some coins before realizing he had given them away. Senka reached into her pouch and handed him 1 coin.
“Yeah, I definitely know something. You’re talking about the uhh fightin’ the uh… are you talking about the one that looks like a suit of armor or the one that looks kinda like a tree with like metal plates on it?”
Senka nodded. “That would be the one. The wood and metal golem.”
Varet paused considering. “I’m gonna need a little bit more than this. You know how it is. I’ve got a family to feed… well, I’ve got myself to feed.”
Senka reached into her pouch once more and handed him 2 coins.
Pegdus pocketed the money. “Alright. Yeah, the Abrinul group picked it up a couple days ago. They saw an undefended but fairly strong golem and took it captive and you know…. I don’t know what they did with it afterwards…. All sorts of things to do with a hard working automaton like that. If you’re an interested party and you wanna you know, have a conversation about it, first of all, none of this came from me…”
Senka nodded again. “Of course not.”
“I’ve got a reputation to uphold. You’ll probably want to look, there’s an entrance down by the docks. You go out and then down, and then in, there is a hole on the outside of the docks you can go into. You can miss it, but it’s right across from The Scrawny Sage. Yeah… Just go straight out to the edge and then there will be like a little stairway down and you can go in that way I think. Not that… I’m sure you wouldn’t want to go there. I mean, I’ve certainly never been there and I have no idea, but if someone were to go there they’d probably find some friendly Abrimulizians.”
“Well, this is quite, quite the information. Have you heard any other rumors about this golem?”
Pegdus rolled his eyes. “No. I mean, I could make something up….”
“Thank you for this information Pegdus.” Senka reached back into her pouch and gave him a glass pebble.
“Oh! This looks fancy. Probably worth quite a lot. I appreciate it very much.” He slipped it into a pocket. “I’ll be seeing you. And remember none of this came from me.”
Senka nodded in his direction and turned back toward the docks.
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Spotting The Scrawny Sage the group started walking along the island’s edge nearby until they came across a small, partially hidden set of stairs that led down over the edge. Lumpy positioning himself in front, with Arakai following after and Senka watching their backs started down the stairs. After a few steps, the island is suddenly plunged into night, as capricious Sola is want to do. Removing her cloak from over the top of Mote’s lantern Arakai provided them just enough light to safely navigate down the rest of the narrow stairs.
At the bottom, there is a wooden door set into the stone of the island. It has no handle or visible hinges. Senka squeezed her way forward and knocked on the door.
“What’s the password?” … “What’s the password?”
Senka paused. “Password?”
Lumpy made punching motions inquiring if he should try to knock the door down, but Senka motioned him back. No need to make enemies yet.
“There’s a password?”
Arakai decided it was time to interject. “Is the password Go Away?”
“Are you suuuure?”
Arakai scowls at the door.
“If you let me in I can make it worth your while…. I can give you some gold.”
“I do like gold. Slide a couple coins under and we’ll see what we can do.”
Arakai pulled out two coins and slid them beneath the door and there is a muted rustling as the man picks them up.
“Ahh. This is a little light… I was thinking more like 10.”
Arakai sighs and slides 8 more coins under the door. More rustling and the door slowly opens onto a roughly carved hallway or tunnel.
From behind the door, they hear, “Man, it sure would be unfortunate if someone were to walk in while I get a bit of fresh air….”
Not giving the door a chance to close again Lumpy pushes through, followed closely be Senka and Arakai who is pulling her cloak back overMote. Noticing as she does that he has picked up 3 gold, which she takes and pockets.
The party continues down the twists and turns of the hallway, until rounding a final bend they see that it opens onto a larger room with stairs down off to one side. There are muffled voices coming from the balcony area. Lumpy and Senka walk into the room as if they belong there, while Arakai hangs back in the hall to watch.
In the room, there is a group of five men sitting around a table playing cards, several cages filled with golems of different sorts and one free wooden golem standing in a corner nearby.
Senka walks casually up to the group of men.“Hello, gents. What are you playing?”
Startled the men look up from their game. “Who… who are you? How did you get in here?”
“Came in through the door, just like anybody else.”
“Nobody else is supposed to be in here. What are you doing here?”
Senka half shrugged. “Just lookin’ around, sayin’ hi.”
“Listen, nobody just looks around. What’s this about? You a buyer?”
“I might be. What’s for sale.”
“Okay… You’re not a buyer. Are you supposed to be in here?”
“Would I be able to get in here, if I wasn’t supposed to be here?”
“Probably. Elombe’s kind of terrible.”
Senka decided it was time to redirect the conversation. “That’s a mighty fine golem you have standing over there in the corner.”
“Yeah. And you’d best explain what you’re doing if you don’t want to have a more personal encounter.”
“Well, you see, I’ve been looking for another golem.”
“Uhuh. Okay, good. Now we’re getting somewhere.”
“I heard there might be one of interest here.”
“Come one. You don’t need to play so coy, okay. You have the money?”
“I have money.”
“Just some off the street? You didn’t arrange this with anyone? There’s proper channels to go through. Whatever. Been hard to find one… this creature.. the newer one, is a bit too wimpy for most people’s taste. How much did we think? … Was it 500 coin? Yes, 500 for this most recent acquisition.” “Yeah. 500 coin and we’ve got a golem for you. It’s not the best, it’s pretty crappy in fact, but you’re coming in without an appt and without going through the proper channels. It’s the best we can do. Of course, if you’re looking for a trade….?”
Lumpy shift his stance trying to look completely busted and worthless.
“Now I heard from Capt Pellant that you guys were might be a bit more accommodating.”
“You’re not familiar with Capt Pellant?”
“No. There’s a lot of captains.”
Senka Shrugged and started walking away from the men and towards the caged golems.
“Listen. If you’re not gonna buy you need to leave. If you’re gonna get violent it’s not gonna end well.”
Senka ignored them.
“Have a nice day.”
Lumpy followed after her.
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Back in the hallway, Arakai leans a bit further out of the hallway to assess the situation. As she scans the scene, she notes a key ring on the table the men had been sitting at. Judging the risk too great to retrieve the key herself Arakai gently removes Mote from his lantern.
Holding Mote up close to her face Arakai whispers, “Mote, I need you to fetch the key ring from the table.”
Mote bobbles reluctantly. She had taken the last shiny he had picked up away from him.
Mote stays bobbing in her hand.
“I’ll give you your coins back.”
Mote hesitates a moment longer before darting off into the corner and slowly making his way across the ceiling toward the table.
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Ever wary of Mote, Lumpy immediately notices the little glowing ball, however, this time he does seem to be trying to help. Quickly making a decision, Lumpy started flailing his arms around wildly to keep the men’s’ attention focused in their direction.
“Hey! Hey! None of that! Come on, take care of your pet. Get it under control.” One of the men shouts.
Senka turned and raised an eyebrow. “My pet? He’s not my pet.”
“Whatever it is to you, your pet, your appliance, your boyfriend… Get it under control.” The men start reaching toward weapons.
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Mote reaches the table and silently picks up the key ring and begins retracing his path back to Arakai.
Once Lumpy sees he is safely almost back to Arakai he stops flailing and turns back to Senka.
A sudden jingling fills the air as Arakai steps into the room and lofts the keys toward Senka. Confused, but now on alert, the men began to looks around.
“Hey! Hey! How’d you?! There’s another?”
Arakai, seeing Senka catch the key, turns and heads back out to the door, her work complete.
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Taking advantage of the men’s distraction, Senka begins sprinting toward the nearest golem cage. Upon reaching the cage she unlocked the door for the large, stony golem. It lumbers into a standing position and heads toward the now open door.
“Help us and you can go free.” Senka nods to the golem before running off toward the next cage.
Lumpy, in full defensive mode, puts himself between Senka and the now approaching men and Wooden Golem. The Wooden Golem charges at Lumpy and they lock arms. Using the other golem’s momentum again them Lumpy continues the turn and throws the Wooden Golem into the path of the men causing them to trip or stumble and giving Senka time to reach the second cage.
This cage holds a golem that appears to be made from continually dripping ice. Senka repeats her previous plea before unlocking the cage and heading towards Fiona.
Senka reaches the dejected looking Fiona’s cage and begins unlocking it. “Hello, Fiona. We’re here to get you back to Varet.”
At this news, Fiona perks up significantly and quickly exits the cage to join the others.
The five men and Wooden Golem are now facing 3 freed golems and Lumpy and seem to be at a standstill.
Senka continues around the room unlocking the other cages until all the golems are free. Training the lumbering golems behind her Senka walks back to face the men.
“Now, are you going to let us go or are we going to have to take care of you?” Senka cocks an eyebrow.
“This is theft you know….”
“Is it really any different than what you did in the first place?”
“I mean, we didn’t steal anything. Whatever. There’s not anything we can really do about it. Just tell me… what’s your name?”
“You don’t need to know my name, but since we can’t have you following us or running off to tell others, why don’t you go stand in that cage.” Senka gestures to the nearest cage.
“Wha.. what, no. That’s ridiculous. We’re not going to follow you, you’ve got like 20 golems or something. Whatever. That’s not necessary.”
“Do I need to have the golems put you in the cage?”
“Fine, whatever.” The men and Wooden Golem slowly shuffle over into the cage and Senka locks them in.
The much larger group proceeds out the way they came. At the doorway, Senka pauses to address the freed golems, “Do you want to stay here or come with us?”
Though none of them speak, they all indicate that they are happy to join their rescuers.
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They dropped the newly acquired golems off at The Topaz Star with a very surprised Capt Elma, then proceeded back to The Humble Sphinx to retrieve Lissa and Varet.
Back on the ship Varet is overjoyed to be reunited with Fiona.“Oh! I missed you so much. I’m so glad you’re safe.”
He turned to Senka. “Fiona is such a spectacular assistant she goes around on the underside of all sorts of islands and picks flowers and herbs for me. I really couldn’t function without her. And of course, she’s my best friend.”
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Upon their return to Caradys, Clan Delmaer is pleased and compensates the group handsomely for their efforts.
Though less known, Clan Aquenes is much less pleased with the outcome.