The Alexandrian

Ptolus - In the Shadow of the Spire

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SPIRE

SESSION 3A: ON THE MURDERER’S TRAIL

March 31st, 2007
The 16th Day of Amseyl in the 790th Year of the Seyrunian Dynasty

As the party left the red warehouse on Able Row, the rain had started again – a downpour that washed the city clean and left the air fresh and pure. They returned to St. Gustav’s Chapel, where they had Brother Fabitor wake Phon.

When asked about Toridan Cran, Phon shook her head. “It seems ridiculous, but I don’t know any of these names you keep talking about – Vagger, Laucio, Toridan Cran… I don’t know any of them! I’m just a seamstress! This doesn’t make any sense at all!”

Fabitor took Phon back to the room he had made up for her. The party promised him that they would continue looking into this matter and follow-up on this Toridan Cran lead in the morning.

The party headed back to the Ghostly Minstrel. The first thing they noticed as they headed through the door was a woman with an arm of red glass, long red hair, and a green dress sitting in the common room, sharing a table with Sheva Callister and Steron Vsool.

Ranthir and Elestra headed straight up to bed. Tee started circling through the crowds, seeing if she could pick up any sense from the rough-and-ready wanderers if Toridan Cran was someone known around town. (It turned out that he wasn’t.) Agnarr, for his part, headed to the bar, bought four drinks, and then headed over to pull up the fourth chair at the table with Jevicca, Sheva, and Steron. (Dominic pulled up a stool at the bar, ordered a drink, and settled back to watch the show.)

Agnarr played it cool and coy with Jevicca, dropping no hint that he didn’t remember who she was. Sheva was scarcely able to conceal her laughter, but Jevicca didn’t seem to notice. They chatted for awhile, with Agnarr asking for their advice on how to handle the Toridan situation. They agreed that the attack on the pregnant Phon sounded horrible. Jevicca offered up a divination from some of her friends, but said that they would charge for it. (“At a discount, though.”) Otherwise, Sheva thought his best option was simply to “pound the pavement and hope something turns up”. Agnarr thanked them and called it an evening himself. Dominic and Tee headed up to bed shortly thereafter.

Tee came down a short while later and gave a letter to Tellith, asking her to send it by courier in the morning. The letter was addressed to Aradan, one of her childhood friends. It explained that she was all right and, although she was back in Ptolus, she wouldn’t be home for awhile yet (although she had stopped to check on her house and get the spare key). She said that she missed him and the rest of her friends terribly, but she had to finish something before she could return. She told Aradan that, if he needed to contact her, he should do so through Doraedian.

TORIDAN CRAN’S HOUSE

(08/17/790)

In the morning, the group gathered over breakfast again. Agnarr, hearing that Tee had had no luck in turning up a lead on Toridan Cran, concluded that he must not be well-known and suggested that he must work for someone else; someone more powerful.

After breakfast, the group headed over to Nar Street in the southern reaches of Midtown, near the border of the South Market. They discovered that Toridan’s house was actually right around the corner from Saches, where Tee had discovered that she and Elestra had had their outfits made during their period of amnesia. Tee thought it was possible that Phon might actually work there—

–and she was right. As they entered Saches, Marta (the seamstress they had spoken with before) greeted them with a smile: “A good morning to you! I didn’t expect to see you back so soon!” When they asked about Phon, Marta confirmed that she worked there, and her spirits soon fell when she learned that Phon had been attacked the day before. She told them that Phon wasn’t due in to work for another half hour or so.

The group left Saches and headed around the corner, casually strolling past the house they had been told was Toridan’s. They found that, while it faced Nar Street, it also had a back door opening out onto Kader Row. The house, like much of the neighborhood, was in pretty shabby condition and the windows were shuttered tight. Tee and Elestra stole between a couple of nearby buildings to reach Kader Row and discovered that the back windows were shuttered, too.

The party decided to find out what they could discover with a more direct approach. Tee and Ranthir hid around the corner from the front door, while Elestra and Agnarr stood near a warehouse across the street. Dominic walked up to the front door and knocked. The door cracked open and a man with bright red hair pulled back peered out. “Whaddya want?”

Agnarr almost charged the door in impatience, but Elestra laid a restraining hand on his shoulder. This may have been noticed.

“Would you be interested in an exorcism of your house? Our church is offering them at a low discount in the interests of—“

“We’re not interested.” The man slammed the door shut.

“Maybe he just went to ask his wife,” Dominic murmured to himself, and then wandered back across the street to where Elestra and Agnarr were standing.

“How many of them were there?” Agnarr asked.

“At least two,” Dominic said. “But I didn’t see his wife.”

Elestra noticed that someone was peering out of the front shutters at them. She pointed it out to the other two, but this may have just drawn even more attention to the fact they were watching the house.

Tee and Ranthir, meanwhile, had decided to creep around the back and listen at the windows to see if they could hear anything. They couldn’t through the thick glass and shutters, but they were in a position to hear the door on the side of the house open and a man begin murmuring what sounded like a magical ritual. Then the door shut again.

Out front Elestra, Agnarr, and Dominic spotted a flash of light coming from between Toridan’s house and the next building. While they pondered what they should do about that Tee stuck her head around the corner to take a peek at what was going on at the back door.

What she saw was a small fire elemental making its way up towards the street, but at Tee’s sudden motion it spun around and ran towards her! It slammed its fiery fists into her chest, singing her slightly, then spun about, opened the door to the house, ran inside, and slammed the door shut.

As the door slammed shut, one of the shuttered windows on the front of the house flew open. A half-orc stood behind it. “Toridan Cran will not be taken without a fight! You can tell whoever sent you that!” Then he threw a dagger with incredible accuracy, taking Dominic full in the shoulder. The window slammed shut. Dominic fell back against the side of the warehouse with a groan, reaching up to pull the dagger free and heal the grievous wound.

Tee ran out to the street and Ranthir followed: “They’ve got a fire elemental!”

Tee heard the side door open again, and she ducked around the corner and peeked out. She saw three men scurry out the back door: The man with the red top-knot, a half-orc with a cigar clenched between his teeth, and another man with a bushy brown moustache. Unfortunately the last of these spotted Tee, and he cried out: “They’ve seen us!”

Tee drew her bow and fired. Her shot scraped past the shoulder of the last man. He whipped out a scroll, leveled his hand at her, and sent an unerring bolt of magical energy which burned an even larger hole in her shirt.

That was the least of her worries, however, as the man with the red top-knot spun around, drew his mace, and charged at her. She tried to duck back around the corner, but the mace landed a solid blow along the side of her head and she collapsed, bleeding profusely.

At just that moment, Agnarr came running around the corner of the house. Seeing Tee laying in a widening pool of her own blood, he flew into a rage and drew his greatsword, throwing himself forward. Before the man with the red top-knot had even had a chance to react, Agnarr’s sword had run him through.

As the man slid off Agnarr’s blade, gurgling on his own blood, the half-orc swore: “Shit! Back in the house! Get back in the house!” He and the spellcaster quickly scurried back through the door and slammed it shut behind them.

Ranthir, also seeing Tee down, ran out into the street and called for Dominic: “Tee needs help!” Elestra, meanwhile, had run for the front door and was trying to kick it open, albeit to little effect.

Agnarr, however, ran to the side door on the heels of the half-orc and the spellcaster. With a single kick of his mighty-thewed leg, he splintered the door into kindling…

… only to find the fire elemental waiting for him immediately on the other side. In a surge of flame, the elemental’s arms thrust forward against Agnarr’s chest, having little effect against a hide toughened by northern winters. Beyond the elemental he could see that the cluttered and garbage-filled house was smoldering in multiple places. The spellcaster stood near the middle of the house, with the half-orc behind him.

Agnarr brought his greatsword around, gouging his way through the elemental’s ephemeral form and sending a great gout of living flame gushing across the wall of the house. Perhaps this momentary heat would have been all right, but then the spellcaster lowered his hands and sent a wash of flame towards the door, bathing the entire wall in fire. That entire end of the house began to burn fiercely.

Agnarr, for his part, had ducked when he saw the spellcaster’s gout of flame rushing towards him – thus taking only the slightest singing from it, while also avoiding the half-orc’s hastily thrown dagger which might otherwise have found itself buried in his eye. The fire elemental, feebly trying to pull its fiery form back into cohesion, sent a weak attack in the barbarian’s direction, only to be answered by another mighty sweep of Agnarr’s greatsword. The last sentient remnants of the fire elemental were dashed apart, sending another gout of flame gusting across the room, spreading the fire even further.

Meanwhile Dominic had healed Tee, allowing the elf to quickly pop back up onto her feet. Elestra, still largely oblivious to what was happening around the corner of the house, continued to ineffectually kick at the front door. Ranthir, now confident that Tee was all right, rushed past Agnarr to see what was happening on the far side of the building.

He was just in time: The half-orc and the spellcaster were trying to escape out the window! Ranthir shouted back to his companions what was going on. (Elestra, still oblivious, continued to pound on the front door.)

Tee rushed out of the alley, lowered her bow, and took a shot which grazed across the half-orc’s cheek as he tumbled out of the window. The spellcaster stood up, drew a dagger, and clumsily threw it in Tee’s direction to little effect. Then he ran off across the street.

As he went, Ranthir noticed that he had two books tucked under his arm. “Oh my! The books! Get the books!”

Agnarr, hearing Ranthir and convinced that no measly half-orc could possibly be Toridan Cran, went chasing after the spellcaster. As he went he bellowed, “ELESTRA! WE NEED YOU BACK HERE!” Agnarr finally caught up with the spellcaster as he emerged onto Ugly Child Lane, and opened him from head to toe with his greatsword. This attracted no small amount of attention, but no one seemed interested in actually getting close to the blood-soaked barbarian as he hefted the spellcaster’s body over his shoulder and headed back towards the burning house.

Meanwhile, back at the house, the half-orc took a book he was carrying and threw it back into the burning house. “Damn all the luck,” he cursed, unstrapping a greataxe from his back and charging towards Tee. His first mighty swing took her full in the side, but was caught up by her chainmail.

Elestra, meanwhile, had finally heard Agnarr’s shout and came hustling around the south side of the building. Seeing the half-orc charge at Tee, she quickly drew her own sword and move up on his flank.

The momentary distraction allowed Tee to take a step back, level her bow, and shoot an arrow into the half-orc’s side at point-blank range. At the same moment, Ranthir suddenly decided to get heroic: Discovering that he carried no weapon of his own, he drew a piton from one of his many packs and satchels and, with a great cry, leapt full-bodied at the half-orc with his cloak billowing dramatically out behind him.

The attack, unfortunately, was ill-fated. “What the hell–?!” the half-orc cursed, his furiously-chewed cigar dropping from his mouth. In his shock, he swung his great-axe around towards the seemingly half-crazed attacker.

This blow cut Ranthir down in mid-leap, but it left the half-orc wide open to his flank. Elestra seized the opportunity and thrust forward with her rapier, carefully aiming to slice open a gash on the half-orc’s thigh and then again on his shoulder.

The half-orc stumbled away, limping and slipping in his own blood with his arm dangling useless at his side. With his remaining arm he tried to bring his axe to bear, but it was a useless effort for it was at just that moment that Agnarr strolled back into view with the spellcaster’s body slung over his shoulder. Dumping the body unceremoniously, Agnarr roared and charged at the half-orc, drawing his greatsword as he went. The half-orc whirled at this new threat, but in less than a moment it was over.

Agnarr paused for a moment to wipe his blade clean and noticed Ranthir lying nearby. “I can’t leave you guys alone for two minutes without somebody dying!”

Dominic quickly brought his healer’s equipment out of his satchel and went to work. The spellcaster was too far gone, but he found that – although the half-orc had stopped breathing – he was still within the reach of his magic to restore him. He stabilized Ranthir, the half-orc, and the man with the red top-knot.

Tee, meanwhile, leaped into the burning building to recover the book the half-orc had thrown in there. She found it laying near the edge of the now roaring inferno. With the thick, hot smoke burning at her lungs, she managed to grab the book and escape back out the window.

The party then dragged the corpse and the three unconscious bodies across Nar Street and hastily searched them, while working to make their efforts look like the ministrations of concerned citizens.

Most notable were the three books: One was the spellcaster’s spellbook (his name, written inside the spellbook, turned out to be Collus).

COLLUS’ SPELLBOOK

0 – acid splash, arcane mark, dancing lights, daze, detect magic, detect poison, disrupt undead, flare, ghost sound, light, mage hand, mending, message, open/close, prestidigitation, ray of frost, read magic, resistance, touch of fatigue

1stanimate rope, burning hands, comprehend languages, detect undead, feather fall, shield

The other book carried by the spellcaster appeared to be an ancient journal of some sort. Handwritten and meandering, the language looked like nothing Ranthir had seen before. But several diagrams suggested that it might be some sort of text discussing spell theory or magical practice.

The book which had been recovered by Tee, however, immediately caught their attention. It appeared to be a ledger covering the past two weeks and the next two weeks. Most of the entries, while highly suggestive of criminal activities, were apparently kept vague and coded: People and places were referred to only by first initial, for example. It seemed that Toridan took some care in making sure that his records were limited and indecipherable.

After glancing through the books, the party decided it was time to clear out before people started showing up and asking questions. Throwing all of the bodies – conscious and otherwise – over their shoulders, the party headed back towards St. Gustav’s Chapel. Tee, concerned about the fire they left behind them, made sure to stop at a firehouse on the way back and alert them to the fire. The Fire Brigade dispatched with all possible speed.

Ptolus - House Fire

NEXT JOURNAL ENTRY

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