A platter of grilled shark and a pitcher of saltwater beer is ordered as our plucky duo enamors themselves of the sailors and dockworkers mucking it up in this rough and tumble joint. Little did they suspect what this evening held in store for them.
As the golden rays of the setting sun bathed the Waterdown doorway, a pair of unusual characters entered the bar. The first was a tall and thinly frail looking elf with long white hair, her glimmering pearlescent dress billowed about her preternaturally, it was belted at the waist in silver and from it hung a long thin elvish blade. Beside her swathed from head to toe in black and gray cloth, was perhaps another elf. None could be sure for the outfit revealed only a pair of crystal blue eyes that scanned the tumultuous crowd. Chi took immediate notice of them and leapt from her seat, just as a bowl of boiled eel arrived. Garrote clasped a warm eel in his left hand and stood on the table to better watch his friend rush across the crowded bar.
"Oh! Elves!!!" screeched Chi as she rushed headlong into the woman and clasped her about the waist. "I've only had Calis to talk with and most times he is too boring!"
At that same moment Garrote tosses a handful of coppers on the table and yells, "I bet the little one will win! She's a vicious fighter!!" The collected sailors and dockworkers are still awed by the sight of the elven woman as she slowly caresses the white hair of Chi. The cloaked stranger standing beside her looking at the smaller elf as well.
"Bah! elfs! Weirdos!!" mumbles Garrote as he begins chewing on the eel, while watching.
"Hmmm, she has your mother's eyes." The tall elf says as she separates herself from the clingy fairy.
The swathed one replies, "And your hair." He looks intently at Chi causing her to feel very apprehensive.
Taking a step back the little one squeaks like a mouse, "Would you like to join my friend and I?"
The two strangers nod in unison and Chi leads them back to the table where Garrote scowls and makes no attempt to hide his suspicion of these most unusual characters. "I'm Chi, and this is Garrote." motioning to the swarthy gypsy still standing on the table amongst the food. "Who are you?" Chi leans in close practically whispering to the newcomers.
"Yea, who goes bout dressed like this," grumbles Garrote leaning in close to the blue-eyed stranger, "less they gots sumpthin' ta hide."
"I am called L'lorlin Chi, and this is Randy." says the elf woman as she nods towards her companion, "We are your parents, and have come to see how you're faring on this mortal plane."
"My parents!!! wheeeeee!!!" the little elf squeals in delight, "I've been having an amazing time since the Man-beasts burned Eros to the ground. I have so much to tell you! But first you should come with Garrote and I for a tour of Modron!" Chi stands and motions for the door of the tavern.
"Oi! I've not finished my food yet!" gripes the halfling, still eyeing the cowled stranger.
After a bit of wrangling the two friends are soon leading Chi's new found parents on a tour of the town.
Exiting the back door of the Waterdown Chi decides that taking the alley to cut across town and reach the main street of Rampant Real would be the best place to start the evening. About halfway there the party comes upon a two laborers unloading a cart. Garrote and L'lorlin notice the wobbly cart wheel just as it gives way! The young boy in the rear of the wagon pitches over and before striking the cobbled alley he is caught by the Elf. Garrote lies sprawled in a puddle of mire as Chi was able to push him away before the cart collapsed on him! An old baker thanks L'lorlin and begs the party to tack a sack of fresh baked breads in return for saving his boy from a cracked skull.
As the group proceeds, Garrote continues to talk in a loud manner about escorting wealthy tourists through the more exciting parts of town. Just then the sound of heavy boots rounds a corner from an intersecting alley and the group is brought to a stop by a half dozen men in blue jerkins. The leader with a yellow star emblazoned upon his right breast introduces himself. "Hellooo, I'm Sgt. Bracken of the Modron Constabulary. What may I ask are folks such as yourselves doing lurking in these back alleys?"
Presuming the Elves don't speak any native tongues Garrote steps forward waving his hands about, "No fear good officer, I am just escorting these fine fay folk on a tour and they asked to see a bit of the "dirty" side if you catch my mean. I'm just heading them to the Real for a bit of window shopping now!" Garrote motions to Chi to get the others moving.
Before the party can move on the Constable steps to block them saying, "My good little fellow these alleys can be very dangerous, but I could assure you and your wards encountered no trouble tonight, if you catch my mean. A donation to the Widows and Orphans fund would be appreciated."
"What is going on?" asked L'lorlin to Chi.
"Garrote?" whispers Chi.
Turning to his friend, the halfling grumbles "Seems we are the victims of a shakedown. We may need a goldy or two to get out of this."
The tall Elf woman quickly stepped up to the barrel chested Constable, looked him in the eye and slapped him across the face! "Me-leth! Plummy kil-lili." She stared the shocked man down and he took two steps back. With a look of disdain L'lorlin turned and headed off past the befuddled watch men. Randy, Chi, and Garrote followed her. The Halfling turned to see the red-faced Sgt. bellow at his men as they tried to hold back their laughter.
The noise of the Real was close as our party rounded the last corner and headed straight for the lighted main street. Just as they were about to emerge onto the street they group found themselves blocked by a corpulent man in a furred vest, his oiled hair and curled beard almost as gaudy as his bejeweled fingers. Attached to his wide leather belt were ten young slave girls each tethered by a silver chain linked to a collar on each girls neck. "Oh ho, might I interest you in my wares? A night of pleasure you'll not forget! A mere ten silvers!" the fat man oozed as he twirled the curls on his chin, "Boaran's girls are the best in Modron!"
"I am disgusted." stated L'lorlin as she stopped and looked at the Human flesh-dealer.
Chi, at first confused then noticed the girls collars. "Oh! Are they his... eww!"
Randy looked back down the alley to see if the Constables were near. Seeing they weren't he began to free his blade.
Stepping again to the fore of the little group Garrote knowingly winked at the Pimp, "No, not tonight. My charges have other entertainments awaiting them. Now clear the way if you please."
"Surely I could offer you a deal for the women, my little friend. Even the cowled one, some like a little mystery eh!" Boaran softly patted a coin purse on his belt.
"The girls are owned by you?" asked L'lorlin, "I would see your proof!"
"Oh my dear, you excite me! Slaves are not uncommon here, and I have papers of ownership." the man patted his vest near his right breast. "I could make us both a bit of coin if you'd allow me to represent you."
"I should kill this foul pig now!" hissed Randy in Elvish, hand clenched on his dagger.
Chi pointed at the girls, "Do you all serve him willingly? Would you rather be free?"
"Free! free is something they will never be. The girls are mine by law and you should not push me." Boaran shuffled deeper in to the alley. "Boaran, gets what he wants, and I think I want you." A bit of a shrill laugh dribbles out of his pursed lips.
With an unnatural speed Randy pins the scum lord to the wall with his dagger poking his belly. The Elf lady removes the folded sheets of parchment from his vest and looks them over quickly. Eyeing the oily man she slowly drops a few gold coins on the ground at his feet, then tucks the papers into her sleeve.
"You have been compensated, I now own these girls." a quick flick of her hand and the ten silver chains release from his belt and fly into Chi's hand.
"You, you can't do that!" squeals the Pimp.
Randy slowly shears the beard and moustache from the right side of the slavers face, "Hush pig."
"I have done it, and you will abide by it, fat scum!" looking at Randy, then back to Boaran, "If you object any more my companion will make sure you never find pleasure again."
"Eeeeeeppp...." the greasy pimp slides to the ground and begins picking up the coins dropped there.
Garrote calls over a street urchin, asks him if he knows the abode of Marcus the Decent. Confirming the lad does he gives him a silver and the leashes of the ten girls. "Deliver these to the Villa without delay, should I discover you haven't, you won't live past morning."
The coins collected, Boaran slid into the shadows cursing the party silently.
After an hour of window shopping along the Real, the group begins to look for something else to do. It is then that Randy catches sight of a small being stalking its way up the street towards them. Thinking at first it might be a street thief, he alerts the others. A grubby filth covered halfling in a leather butchers apron pops from the shadows, a bloody cleaver in one hand and the other stuffing a headless rat into a belt pouch.
Garrote nods to the fellow and says, " Benar darkmans, I be an abram rascal."
"I'm fly." the fellow responds then looks over the elves, "There's a blowen mot!"
"Well they stick together like cackling cheats, ken me?" Garrote winks and the two pass each other, the rat-hunter turning into a dark alley.
"I don't even want to know." sighs Randy.
A few stick-meats and cups of street ale are purchased from a cart vendor as our crew decide to look for a nice quiet venue for a proper meal.
"I think they would like the Kellarbari House, don't you Garrote? Slone has such yummy wine there!" grins Chi as her eyes twinkle in the light from the streetlamps.
"That's a nosh joint fer' sure. We can take the short route to get there, follow me." Garrote tosses his empty cups to the street and leads the group into another alley.
Five minutes later and the party is within a street of their destination when a high pitched giggle echoes from the shadows. The alley ahead and behind our group is suddenly filled by lean shadowy figures.
"Steal my girls, deface my person, then toss me coins!" a familiar voice says. "You thought I'd let that go, because you scared me? ME!" Boaran leans from a dark alcove, his half shaved face livid in anger, "Boys, skin the halfling, and beat the rest. Not too badly though, they'll need to be serviceable for later!"
Hemmed in from both sides with nowhere to go, Garrote faces the group at the head of the alley. Eyeing the largest of them and drawing out his dark bladed short sword he remarks "Come wurp, ya cadgers, an I'll spit ya with me poker!" Chi at his back Garrote stands his ground as the thugs rush him. L'lorlin draws her thin blade and begins chanting a spell at the the same time Randy raises his hands shouting "Lustful Lances!"
A barrage of black spear-like missiles are cast at the thugs rushing the party and half their number fall as the inky lances tear into flesh! L'lorlin disappears from sight in a wisp of cool wind, now almost invisible she stalks thugs and slays them without hesitation. Chi covers herself in a deadly coat of quills and proceeds to make short work of her targets as well. The big thug and Garrote go toe to toe, Brass knuckles verses shadowy blade!
His hired goons falling like wheat, the greasy Pimp decides he better make a hasty retreat. Turning to run he is stopped as L'lorlin captures him in a magically summoned rope that binds the slaver.
With the coins reaped from the thugs and Boaran, our little group rents a private room and wastes no time in getting stuck-in to some fantastic food and wine at the Kellarbari House. It is well after midnight when L'lorlin announces she has a task that needs to taken care of. Thanking Slone for his hospitality the group follows the tall elf back across town to the alley behind the bakery where the falling lad was saved.
"ehhh, why we come back here?" mutters Garrote to Chi. The tiny elf-child shrugs and watches L'lorlin as she approaches the wagon with the broken wheel. Randy positions himself near the end of the alley and turns to give a sign to the Lady. Slowly, the lady lifts her hands and begins a sweet lilting song that seems to float on the night air. Wispy motes of light appear and weave themselves about the wagon and the broken wheel propped against it.Garrote and Chi watch in amazement as the wagon begins magically heal itself and become whole.
Smiling, Garrote looks to L'lorlin "Good work!"
"Of course it is." she responds looking down her nose at the halfling.
"Psst!" Randy calls attention to himself, motioning for the others to join him. "I've just seen something odd across the way. We should check it out."
Crossing the lane quiet as mice the four companions enter a winding alley between leaning tenements. A filthy dribble of sludge winds its way down the middle of the alley to a drain at the far end, while above twine and frayed ropes for laundry span the homes of the poorer folk. Crouching together near a pile of wooden crates Randy points to a nearby rooftop, "There it is look."
As the group peers up in the gloom they all see five small child sized beings wrapped in dark clothing and hoods scamper down the walls, swing along the laundry lines and then deftly break in to a third story window. Two of the little beings enter the room, while the other three position themselves as lookouts. One clings to a window shutter, the second on the sill and the third dangling one-handed from a line.
"What the hells, them aren't halfling thieves, they move wrong!" Garrote says gripping his dark short sword.
"Oh, their eyes burn like red coals." chirps Chi.
"Hmm, up to no good I'm sure." L'lorlin sighs, "we should stop them."
Turning to the elf woman Garrote asks, "Why, if they want to burgle let them. Who cares."
"They look to fill their ranks." says Randy turning to Chi and Garrote, "They do not reproduce as we all do. They have to make themselves."
"What does that..." gulping and wiping his forehead Garrote looks at Randy, "mean exactly...."
Everyone turns as the muffled sound of an infants cry catches their ear.
"NO?" blanches Garrote.
"Yes." state the elves in unison.
Moving as one L'lorlin and Garrote ascend the rickety steps of the tenement towards the guarded window. "What are they?" hisses the halfling.
"Swerting," drawing her thin blade silently, "dark fae, twisted by evil." Three strides carries the elf woman directly at the creatures who are caught off guard by her appearance, the slim blade cleanly slicing the throat of the creature hanging on the window shutter, his death spasm causing the closure to swing about knocking the one on the sill into the darkened room. Garrote leaps to the now clear sill and slashes with his blade cutting clean through the wrist and rope the third creature was dangling from, its scream is stifled as it hits the cobblestones below.
Chi and Randy position themselves in the alley just below the window through which they're companions have now followed the swerting through. Chi is disgusted as the two slain creatures begin to dissolve into an inky black smoke smelling of putrid waste, and the clothing melts into a sickly goo.
"Go up and help them, I'll cover us down here." commands Randy to Chi. The elf-child quickly ascends the three flights like a squirrel.
L'lorlin and Garrote find themselves in a small bedroom facing three of the vile creatures, one of whom holds a swaddled babe in its arms. Another mewling bundle now rests in the crib next to him.
"Interlopers!" intones Garrote as he glares at them.
"No children for you tonight!" spits L'lorlin at the one with the babe.
Blades flash and the three dark fae are sent back to wherever it they spawn from. Chi leaps in from the window and points into the crib, "What about that!"
Scooping up the baby and calming it before it cries out L'lorlin motions to slay it.
Garrote is able to dispatch the hideous changeling before it can tear the girls flesh.
"Ugh, disgusting thing!"
The door to the room suddenly begins to open and a disheveled woman with a candle followed by a man with a cord of firewood peer into the room. "My baby, oh!"
In quick succession L'lorlin smiles at the parents as she places the babe back in the crib, as fog like darkness consumes the room. from the alley Randy sees the candlelight blotted out and then his three companions come shooting out the window. Seeing that they have had to make the jump without caution he casts a magical aura upon them to cushion their fall.
[more to come]