The Macabre Waltz

Falling In
The Lyanna Tal Case Begins

Son heaped the last of the dog-sized rats onto the pile. “A truly unappetizing sight,” said Niavara as she stepped to avoid a pool of warm rat blood oozing out from beneath the mound of fur. It trickled a slow, slippery zig-zag pattern through the cobblestones to the low center of the room.

“What should we do with them?” Asked Falco, “We can’t set a fire down here.”

“Contrary to the witch-elf’s belief,” Ironbrand guffawed. “Surely it’d be possible to just spirit the lot away. It’s that or we get our hands bloody.”

Niavara shook her head, “Bringing things in is a simpler matter than sending, I’m afraid.”

“Then perhaps you’d best bring in a wheelbarra’, love.”

An hour later the rats were gone, a few candles had been lit, and the floor was beginning to feel clean – or at least as clean as it was likely ever to get. A small iron stove in the corner did its paltry best to push warmth out across the room, but the others continued to complain about the smell of mildew. Once the rats had been hauled off to the alley behind the building and burned, Son had set to work sweeping and scrubbing every surface within reach. Now done, he could think of nothing else to do with himself. He propped up against a wall and watched the stout dwarf poke at his new mattress.

“Truly fine lodgings these Orrifin lot provide,” he said.

“I’m not complaining,” replied the small Falco. “Better a dingy bedroll in a damp basement than a rock for your pillow and rain clouds to make your blanket.”

“Mm, well said, lad,” Usill conceded.

Before long the dwarf found his own contentment with the lumpy bed and fell into a rumbling sleep with the halfling close behind. Geroldt sat by the warmth of the stove for a time. Having fashioned a short table and stool out of a pair of old crates he went about the quiet task of honing his sword’s edge. The deliberate, persistent movement of steel on stone rang as soothing to the Warforged as a babbling brook.

Without looking up from his chore, Geroldt asked Son, “do you sleep?”

“Not often. Not long.”

The man inspected his sword in the stove light and, apparently satisfied, stood. “I suppose that means you’ll be watching over us every night. Just mind that you both keep your hands to your own.”

Son didn’t answer, though Niavara, who was sitting still as stone on her bed at the shadowy far corner of the room cooed low and deep, “it’s not necessarily my hands that need your worrying, human.” If Geroldt was pushed aback by her sultry repose he didn’t choose to show it. In a short time the only two of the band left awake were Son and the Eladrin.
She flicked her fingers and one by one the candles around the room were extinguished. The only light that now remained wavered through the slats in the wood stove, the only sound the dripping of water behind the walls. The elf’s eyes burned like soft blue embers in the shadows, never shifting, rarely blinking. Surely she would take to her sleep soon as well, leaving him alone.

The night continued, another long wait for the dawn. Son had grown used to the waiting in his short life, and had discovered a particular talent for approximating the death of an unfed fire, which he used to tell time on nights when the stars were obscured. The stove’s flames died relatively quickly, and in just two hours there was naught but the heat of the coals emanating from the iron appliance. Snores bounced off the cold stone, but in between, there was quiet.

A frantic knocking at the door upstairs broke the peaceful silence. It was still hours before dawn, perhaps Carric had returned.

Upstairs, the knocking had slowed. Thick as the wooden front door to the building was, Son could hear a winded voice on the other side, gasping, “please… please…” He opened the door and a woman fell into the Orrifin Agency.

She was clutching her middle. Ruby blood stained the rug on which she was now prostrate. Breath shuddering, she appeared to be barely concious.

Niavara emerged from the stairwell and surveyed the scene. Son looked to her, then back at the black haired stranger. With a gentle nudge of his large metal foot he rolled the woman onto her back. Her hands were coated with the blood and clutching a very large stab wound in her belly. Son had seen injured humans before, but they had all died within minutes of receiving their injuries. Perhaps this one would as well.

A large purse had fallen alongside her, which Niavara was now inspecting. Currency clinked inside, a good sum from the sound of it, but rather than a handful of coins the elf removed a small leather bound book.

“Green grasses, what’ve ya done?” Usill shouted. He ran with stomping footfalls to the
woman’s side, elbowing Son out of the open door.

“We have done nothing,” Son said.

“That much is obvious, ya great fool!” the dwarf admonished. Though she was not awake, it took some effort for Usil to unbind the woman’s clenched fingers and inspect the wound. He spoke to her softly, saying “Come now, dear, let me see then. That’s right. You’re safe now. You’re safe now.”

“Elf,” Usil commanded, “wake that Geroldt and bring him here. We’ll need more than a needle and thread to staunch her bleeding.”

It took a moment for Son to realize that Niavara had melted into the background of the scene. There was a brief pause, but she acquiesced. Moments later, the five new companions were standing in the foyer. Geroldt knelt opposite Usil to inspect the woman’s wounds. “This is very bad. It’s a knife wound and quite deep. I don’t know if it missed her gullet or not,” Usil summarized.

Geroldt made his own assessment and was apparently in agreement. “You’re right but there’s something more. I think I can stop her from dying here but we need a healer stronger than me to keep her going.” He cut the woman’s silk shirt to expose her midriff, then, starting at opposite ends and moving slowly inward, traced his fingers along the bloody wound while whispering words in a language Son had never heard before. A green light emanated from under his fingernails and seeped into the woman’s exposed flesh, followed by a wisp of gray smoke.

Though unconscious, the woman struggled under Geroldt’s touch. “Easy, lass. I know, I know,” Usil said gently. Each time she writhed the rough and bearded dwarf was there with words of comfort, which evidently worked. Son suddenly felt very useless.

“What can I do?” He asked.

“Go fetch a blasted healer, and be quick about it.”

Falco volunteered to go as well. “I know of a healing house nearby. We’ll be back in a few minutes.”

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The Lyanna Tal Case
The adventure begins!

Five lonely souls found themselves at the foot of the Oriffin Agency’s stoop.

“You must be the new stringers. Come on in, it’s about to rain,” the elderly elf said.

“I’m Carric, the foreman. Try not to knock over any of the papers,” he said as he led them through the maze of papers, scrolls, books, and other sundries.

They filed into his office, wedging themselves into corners, as the rain started to fall heavily. Carric spoke up, projecting over the steadily drumming rain.

“So, I see here, one of you applied for a bodyguard position, I imagine that’d be…”

The warforged with not a single possession but a truly enormous waraxe replied “me.”

“Oh, you must be a late model version, haven’t seen anything like you walking around…”

“Alright, I was looking for an adept….”he leered at the scantily clad eladrin at the end of his desk.

Her skin crawling under his lecherous gaze, “My name is Niavara and you should really stop staring”

With a nasty grin on his face he turned his attention to the halfling, “I imagine you’d be the cracker I was looking for, what’s your name?”

The cheerful fellow replied brightly “Falco!”

“That’s a stupid name.” The halfling darkened a bit.

“And how about you shortstuff?” The dwarf, obviously unimpressed, burst forth “Usill Ironbrand, ye’ wafty wine-drinkin’ ponce!” Despite himself, the old elf chuckled.

“Leaving only you human…alright, I’ve got a hot date, and I don’t plan to miss it. Good news bad news here. Good news is, you’re all hired. Here’s your expense vouchers, be sure not to lose them. The agency pays for your food and drink, lodgings, and reasonable case expenses. Bad news, you have to stay here tonight, and to be honest, the basement hasn’t been cleaned in about three years. Have fun!”

With that, the old elf rushed from the room, and out the front door.

Excerpts from the diary of Usill Ironbrand:

Wir, the 21st day of Rhaan, 998YK

The inside of this place was nothing like I’d seen, Elves are supposed to be organized, but this was a bloody mess. I looked around at the others assembled in a room, an assortment of outsiders just as desperate as me.

There was some manner of Elf I have never seen before, definitely something unusual about her, I’ll keep me eye on her. Then there’s that hulking animated scrap pile, seemed a capable contraption, I’ll keep me eye on it. A cheerful and pleasant little halfling, claims to be from here, I’m sure he is hiding something, but keep me eye on ’em. A cleric of the sovereign host stood there, a human of divine inspiration, an aura purpose surrounding him to need to keep me eye on him, but I will anyway. I told them all who I was, I could see by the expression on their faces that they were truly impressed, as I expected.

The sloppy elf told us to go downstairs and cleanup our berthing, I stayed in the rear to guard against any cowardly attackers. As I reached the bottom of the stairs I heard what sounded like the squeaking of rats, but louder and more guttural. I heard some strange incantations coming from the mouth of the bizarre elf, then all of a sudden, the living pickle barrel was bathed in arcane light. I could see them now, rats the size of an ogres. They began to swarm, engulfing him, gnawing out bits of wood. Bravely I sprung into action, I pushed aside the mage and ran toward the center of combat. Ax in hand, I found the biggest one and issued him a direct challenge, it was too afraid to come directly at me so I raised me ax to swing at another, at this point someone in the party tripped, probably that halfling, and fell into me. Since I was already off-balance with me ax in the air, I fell to the ground. So great was me prowess, that I was able to wound one before regaining me footing. Quickly, I leapt to me feet and rushed over to help the wood golem, with a few more well-placed blows, crucial healing and some minor help from the rest of the group, we dispatched all the nasty vermin. At this point, covered in filth, I went back upstairs to clean meself off with some of vellum that was lying about, I came back downstairs to discover the others had put the dresser to work cleaning, I was also told there was a locked door that had been opened, but apparently nothing of value was inside, a shame.

It appears that the lumber pile has finished cleaning and the human has procured some bed roles, Time for a quick nip from my flask, a prayer to the sovereign host and a wee rest.

A New World: Through the eyes of Niavara
It’s been a while since I’ve stayed in any town long enough to associate with a male. It was rather refreshing when Carric’s eyes traced my body longingly, although I’m ashamed to admit it. I would never desire it to progress any farther, though. He really did creep me out. Kind of. Right? It was an interesting welcome, to say the least. He seemed to have a shimmer when he stood near windows, a shimmer that created a vague sense of longing within me. But there was something I couldn’t quite get past. His words seemed to be accompanied by a foul smelling mist, like his saliva couldn’t wait to escape the hell that is his mouth. I did not trust him. Not by the last leaf of fall. And when I came across that bleeding woman’s book, I knew that it was knowledge I didn’t want him to have. I had plans to share it with the rest of our group. Until Son opened his mouth, that is. I figured it wouldn’t hurt Carric to have a little less knowledge than the rest of us.

The dwarf that called himself “Usill” (or maybe it was “Usole” — I don’t really care to remember) had a particular odor to himself as though he was never introduced to the idea of bathing. (Unless bathing in his own filth counts.) He quickly panned out to be as greedy as dwarves tend to be — which reminded me of a racist joke that I cursed myself for enjoying. He did, however, seem loud and proud, which although it gave me a headache sometimes, seemed to draw my curiosity. It felt as though his loudness was born of a desire to hide a dark history, but maybe I’m just projecting.

There was a halfling by the name of “Falco” there too. He had an innocence about him that made me initially doubt his fighting abilities, you know, besides the fact that he is eye-level with my waist. I wonder how the world appears from down there. I can’t recall a time where I was ever that size, and had it once been, I would no longer remember. Falco proved to be loyal during our dispute with the basement rats, staying back to guard me. I wonder why he thought I was worthy of his defense. He later made an interestingly dangerous move, leaping off the back of another to an enemy-occupied soarstone. When it didn’t end well, as I imagine we all assumed, I was the only one who could save him. I couldn’t bare to see such innocence blink out so quickly. Even the idea of it flashed some vivid images of a young boy’s face through my mind. These images hurt like a monstrous shard of glass pierced my heart, but for the life of me, I didn’t know who the boy was. All I knew was that it felt like I should know him. And I had seen this image before many times. And the pain from it twisted everything in my chest up so tightly that I felt like I might never inhale a sweet breath of air again, had Falco died. Why did this boy flash into my mind now? And why did he seem to be… linked to Falco? Maybe it was the innocence. I don’t really know. It took a few hours for the anxiety to pass. I’m still lingering in the curiosity of it all.

“Son” whose name both reminds me of that which provides light to the world, and simultaneously a father’s child. I’m curious as to it’s seeming lack of origin. It’s a strange name that I’ve never heard before. And I thought I might’ve heard them all. After watching his behavior, I might sooner describe him as the latter, with emphasis on “child”. So seemingly lacking of a sense of responsibility - and, for that matter, gravity! Although I do admit that his arrogance is carried out with a delicacy, sort of like a ballet. He danced to that soarstone like a baby bird learning to fly. But he made it, at least. He also has trouble keeping his mouth shut and his fists tamed. Little piece of shit called me out to Carric. I sincerely doubt his loyalty. Maybe I could train him…

The cleric, “Geraldt” seems to be pretty quiet so far. I’ll have to keep evaluating him, but I don’t get a sense of dismay from him. I appreciated his decision to not share as much gold with the dwarf, as I was tired of hearing him beg. Geraldt seems loyal, but I am unsure of who he is and where he came from. This is a little concerning to me.

Onward, boys. To new adventures!

Geroldt’s Notes

I haven’t had much luck picking up work lately and the coin purse is getting a little light. Gonna have to head over and see if Carric need some more hands, since his last crew seems to have come up missing.

Looks like he’s in need of plenty of hands. Seems hes picked up a couple of short races, a dirty dwarf and sketchy looking halfling. Hes got a real strange looking elf (though I can see why ole Carric would go for that one). And hes even brought in a tin can, he must be really desperate if hes resorting to using one of those things.

First night on the job and we can’t even make it all the way through without getting woken up. Seems some lady got herself stuck real good on her way to hire us, and looks like its our job to figure why. I hope Carric is paying good for this considering what he took from her.

Ran up to the post with the elf and dwarf to get some info on the addresses in this lady’s book, turns out these are all the bombing sites from the Emerald Claw, and this lady happened to be investigating them for the Inquisitor.

Seems the tin can and the halfling go them selves into quite the scrape, and barely made it out with their lives, looks like someone doesn’t like us looking into this.

Found out this Lyanna lady, he been doing some nasty stuff with some orc from cogsgate and got herself terminated from the Inquisitor, wonder why she is still digging into this story.

Now we got those Grobas Gang scum on our tail, seems someone has payed them well to keep us from our investigation.

Found Dolgruf (the orc our client has been getting busy with) down in cogsgate, looks like they are on the outs now, but with a little convincing we got some info out of him about who might be interested in all that garbage they are making.

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A new day in Sharn

The Great War is over and done, and the only winners? Undertakers. All across Khorvaire, the dead have been laid to rest, and an uneasy peace prevails. It is in this uncertain time that five wandering souls came to meet and play out their bloody tale.

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