Arcanis: Gonnes, Sons, and Treasure Runs (COMPLETED) - Page 36
  1. #351
    The thing I like best about Kham is how subtle he is.

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    I was pretty shocked myself when Kham's player shot the guy. At that point he was getting aggravated with the railroading part of the adventure, and the guy was so detestable that he didn't seem worth time.

    What really was hilarious was how Sebastian stepped in as the "good cop" and offered the guy a healing potion afterwards. This has become a running joke in campaigns since.

    I should point out this is just the beginning. When a major NPC in Freeport goes after Kham...well, you can probably guess how he reacts.

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    Terror in Freeport - Part 6a: The Shakedown

    “From what I can gather from the records,” said Sebastian, “Verlaine’s men were looking fro street maps in the Eastern District and Scurvytown. They wanted to see how the sewers in the Eastern District match up with the Merchant District and the rest of town.”

    They stood in front of the Office of Public Records. Most of the city’s denizens gave them a wide berth.

    “Let me guess,” said Kham. “They lead right from the bricked up house to Verlaine’s home.”

    “I’m afraid so. As for Verlaine…”

    “What about him,” said Kham. “Verlaine took office right after Anton Drac was assassinated. Before that, he was just a typical sailing merchant. Drac’s lackey through and through.”

    Beldin swung the lajatang around thoughtfully. “Verlaine diversified his holdings too, including a big chunk of Freeport’s masonry trade. Strange business for a ship merchant to get into.”

    “Unless you’re looking to build a lighthouse,” said Vlad.

    “Right,” said Sebastian. “According to the records, Verlaine is currently overseeing a number of projects for the Sea Lord, including construction of the lighthouse. But that’s not the bad part.”

    “There’s a bad part?” asked Vlad.

    “Milos was the main consultant on the project.”

    “Of course he was,” said Kham.

    “Company,” said Cal.

    Six guardsmen led by a captain were approaching.

    “This day just keeps getting better and better,” said Sebastian. “What seems to be the problem?”

    “Your presence is requested at the Courts by Chief Councilor Verlaine in connection with your unlawful entry into a restricted area!”

    “He’s right,” Kham said nonchalantly. “We did do that.” His hands inched towards the folds of his jacket.

    “You are also charged with impersonating an officer,” said the guard captain. One hand was on the hilt of his sword. “Now will you come peacefully or do we have to use force?”

    Kham’s pistols were out in an instant, pointed at the guard captain’s chest. BLAM! BLAM!

    The captain fell backwards in a red and black spray of blood and smoke. His hand reached for his sword, but Kham had two more pistols out in the blink of an eye.

    BLAM! BLAM!

    Everyone froze in shock. Then Cal, Beldin, and Vlad drew their weapons, just in time to face off against the angry guardsmen. Bijoux leaped back and swung her sling overhead.

    “What did you do that for?” shouted Sebastian. He pointed his palms towards the guards. “You just shot a Captain of the Guard!”

    “Relax,” said Kham. “They’re just more of Verlaine’s thugs.” He returned the two pistols to their holsters and drew two more. “Now if you’ll excuse me.”

    “Fuco aspergo!” shouted Sebastian. Two guardsmen fell to the ground, unconscious.

    Only one guard was still left standing. He fled for his life.

    “Now we’re in for it,” said Vlad. “They’re going to come looking for us!”

    “Over here!” said a familiar voice. It was Brother Egil, waving to them from an alley. “Kham, I’m so glad I found you in time! I don’t know what those brutes intended for you, but I can only assume it was what they have planned for poor Lucius.”

    “Lucius?” asked Cal, pulling his axe out of a guard’s corpse.

    “Yes,” said Egil. “The ssanu have taken him.”

    “Damn it Egil,” said Kham, reloading his pistols. “You lost Lucius again?”

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    Terror in Freeport - Part 6b: The Shakedown

    Egil glanced both ways down the street, and then urged them down a quiet lane. They were making their way towards the Eastern district.

    “It all happened so quickly.” Egil looked around nervously. “I was just down the hall from Lucius when I heard a short, sharp cry. I raced to his chamber to find papers on the floor, the desk upended—chaos. I hurried into the street but saw nothing. I knew you were my only chance, but when I asked at the Pale Plate, they hadn’t seen you in some time.”

    “We were busy,” said Kham.

    “I knew the ssanu could not have taken you by force, as they took Lucius; it had to be some human agency, even if it was disguised. Once I discovered there was an order out for your arrest, I knew I had to reach you before Verlaine’s guards did.”

    “You’re a little late,” said Vlad.

    “There’s no time to lose,” said Egil. “Time for Lucius is running out. I fear the serpents intend to complete the job they started a month ago. I think I know where they’ve taken Lucius,” said Egil. ”It should be right…here.” He pointed at a pile of trash.

    Cal tore at the pile with his claws, removing scrubby weeds to reveal an old sewer access.

    “Well,” said Vlad. “I guess we’re going in.”

    Kham shuddered. “The sewers are where Freeport dumps everything too unsavory for Freeporters. Think about that for a minute.”

    “I’d rather not,” said Sebastian, covering his nose.

    Bijoux gagged several times before making her way in. The stench was overpowering and took a moment to get accustomed to.

    “Breathe through your mouth,” said Beldin. “It might help.”

    “You can’t smell it like I do,” said Bijoux. She looked like she might throw up.

    They were in a damp, dripping tunnel with a narrow walkway on either side and a river of effluvia oozing down the middle. The walkways were enough for single file.

    Cal cocked his head. “We are not alone,” he said.

    Bijoux pointed at claws marks on the walkways. “The ssanu are down here.”

    At the edge of the Merchant District, an iron grating blocked the passage. It was cemented in place.

    “Stand back,” said Cal, flexing his claws. “I’ll open it.”

    “No need.” Bijoux walked over to the bars and with a firm yank, removed them.

    “You’re stronger than I thought,” said Cal.

    Bijoux dusted her hands. She didn’t bother to point out that the bars had been sawed through in the middle and then replaced.

    Beyond the grate there was…

    “A dead end,” said Vlad. “Looks like the tunnel’s been bricked up.”

    “Not quite,” said Beldin. He pushed on several of the bricks and the wall swung open to reveal a thick, dusty darkness.

    “You first,” said Sebastian to Egil. He leaned closer to whisper in his hear. “I don’t care if you’re Kham’s friend or not; if you betray me, I will find you and kill you, like I killed the other Altherian traitors before.”

    Egil gulped and stepped first into the darkness.

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    Terror in Freeport - Part 7a: Rocks and a Hard Place

    They were crowded into a small room, barely ten feet high. Massive shapes, indistinguishable in the dark, were scattered about.

    “These are rocks,” said Beldin. They were piled up around the edges of the room, though a few boulders were lying loose on the floor.

    Bijoux sniffed the air. “The air smells strange.”

    “Chalk dust,” said Cal, sniffing beside her.

    Beldin spun on his heel. “That’s the same dust from these rocks!”

    Then the door slammed shut behind them.

    Sebastian whirled. “Egil, if this is a trap so help me…” but Egil was nowhere to be found.

    The room began to shake. The roar of machinery boomed all around them.

    “What the hell is that?” asked Kham.

    “I think I know what device Ambrose was building for the Brotherhood,” said Beldin. “The records said Verlaine diversified his holdings…”

    “Into masonry,” said Sebastian. “Which is what we’re about to become if we don’t get out of here fast. Everyone spread out! Find an exit!”

    Some rocks slid from the heaps.

    “The ceiling above is hinged,” said Beldin, pointing upwards with the lajatang. “It runs through the middle.”

    “I don’t think that’s an exit,” said Vlad.

    The machinery roared louder. The room heaved and rock piles collapsed all around them.

    “I hate to share this,” said Beldin at the far end of the room, “but this wall is hinged too.”

    “So?” shouted Kham, to be heard over the din of the machinery.

    “That’s not the bad news,” Beldin shouted back. The flat of his palm was against the wall. “There’s something big and heavy pounding on the other side.”

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    Terror in Freeport - Part 7b: Rocks and a Hard Place

    As if on cue, the floor began to tip and the hinged wall hung partially open. Beyond the hinged wall were two grinding cylinders, mechanically pounding up and down.

    “Everyone!” shouted Beldin. “Grab hold of something!” He lifted his axe high overhead and then slammed it into the floor. The floor of the crushing machine was no match for Elabac’s superior craftsmanship. The blade bit deeply and held.

    Vlad did the same with Grungronazharr, which pierced the metal like butter. Kham speared the ground with Fleshripper. Cal and Bijoux dug in with their claws.

    Rock heaps started to slide downward into the crushers. They were pounded into dust.

    “I see something!” shouted Sebastian. He could make out a small opening where a man’s silhouette stood in front of a lever. He pointed his palms forward. “Fuco aspergo!”

    The coruscating cone of light struck the opening. The figure slumped forward, but the machinery continued to grind away.

    The floor tipped to a 45-degree angle. Rocks slammed into Sebastian. He plunged into the void towards the crushers…and then stopped as his forked tail wrapped around Kham’s leg.

    “So that’s why you always wear those robes!” shouted Kham. “You have a forked tail!”

    “Now is really not the time!” Sebastian shouted back.

    Beldin pulled the lajatang off of his back and hurled it down into the mechanism. The polearm bounced around inside the gears and then caught. There was a horrible shrieking noise as metal and bit into metal. The polearm’s magic resisted the irresistible force.

    “Bijoux!” shouted Beldin. “You have to get to the—“

    Then the lajatang cracked in half and was engulfed in the machine. The noise became deafening. Large masses of rocks bounced around in the crushers and all over the bin. A steady pile of rocks and debris slammed into Calactyte’s snout. He turned his head, but the rocks kept piling up. A small mountain piled up in his face.

    “Cal!” shouted Bijoux, even though she knew he couldn’t hear her. “Hold on!”

    Cal clawed desperately for purchase. His hind claws tore furrows in the floor, but it was no use. A huge boulder as large as a man slammed into him and he disappeared into the crushers.

    Vlad was shouting something to her and pointing at the opening. Bijoux couldn’t make out what he said; the infernal pounding was rattling her teeth. It was so loud that it was becoming impossible to think.

    Then a pile of rocks smashed into Vlad and he disappeared, flailing, into the machine’s maw.

    Bijoux blinked back tears. It was hopeless…

    Or was it? She could jump further than any of them.

    Bijoux crouched as a pile of rocks slid towards her. She dove to one side and spread her wing flaps. She passed Sebastian, who was dangling helplessly from Kham’s leg.

    She hopped forward again. A big gray stone bounced to one side, just missing her head. Bijoux passed Kham, clinging to Fleshripper.

    A pile of gravel pelted her in a swarm. She turned her face away; shielding her eyes with one of her arms would drop her back into the bottom of the machine. Bijoux passed Beldin. He couldn’t spare the time to look at her—he was starting to lose his grip.

    Finally, she reached the small opening. The operator was unconscious, so there was no one to stop her. But she couldn’t fit through the hole. A lever was barely visible through the opening. If she could just reach it…

    She stretched out her fingertips. The bin began to shudder violently. Bijoux knew why. The machine was shaking loose any remaining rocks.

    Her fingertips brushed the edge of the lever. She couldn’t reach it! Unless…

    Bijoux extended one claw and hooked the lever. Then she yanked back with all her might.

    The machine slowly righted itself and ground to a stop. Bijoux collapsed in relief.

    “Remind me to take you everywhere, cat girl,” said Kham.

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    Terror in Freeport - Part 8a: The Serpent’s Nest

    Ilmarė had tracked Egil while he was on an errand for the Temple of Althares. He disappeared down an alleyway and she lost track of him, only to discover he had been spotted in the street near the Office of Records. She tracked him to the sewers and found a piece of Egil’s robe

    The elorii’s superhuman senses immediately detected the outline of a door. But it was too easy. The door was a trap, placed to lure the unwise into certain doom, she was sure. Only a fool would fall for it.

    There was a bang. Ilmarė could hear a muffled, familiar voice on the other side of the door. She opened it.

    Out spilled Beldin and Vlad. They blinked up at Ilmarė.

    “Ilmarė!” said Vlad with a smile. His armor was rent in several places. It looked as if the Milandisian had been dumped into a meat grinder.

    Bijoux and Sebastian dragged out the mangled form of Calactyte. Kham sauntered out behind them.

    “What happened to you?”

    “Remember the crushing machine that Ambrose designed for the Brother of the Yellow Sign?” asked Beldin.

    Ilmarė nodded.

    Beldin dusted himself off. “Now we know how it works.”

    Ilmarė bent down to inspect the ss’ressen. “He’s still alive?” she asked in disbelief.

    Bijoux nodded. “I have done the best I can. We must get him to the Temple of Althares so he can recuperate.”

    “Maybe not,” said Sebastian. “Egil betrayed us. I don’t know if we can trust anyone at the Temple.”

    “Egil?” asked Ilmarė. “He was in there with you?”

    Vlad rose to his feet. “At least, someone we thought was Egil.”

    “Here.” Kham handed Bijoux a card. “Show this at the Pale Plate. They’ll put you up in a safe house.”

    ”I’ll go with her,” said Sebastian. “It will take two of us to carry him.”

    They both put one arm under Cal’s bloodied shoulders.

    “I think I know where the real Egil is,” said Ilmarė. “And judging by the scraps of clothing I’ve found, there won’t be much left of him if we don’t hurry.”

    “If Egil is still alive, I bet the impostor is with him.” Kham loaded two of his pistols to explain what he would do when he found him.

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    Terror in Freeport - Part 8b: The Serpent’s Nest

    The room at the end of the hall was a good hundred feet high and at least as wide, dripping with stalactites, its walls formed of stone that seems to bend impossibly in upon itself—perhaps a trick of the light, perhaps a result of the abhorrent evil that was transplanted there.

    Looming before them, at the other end of the chamber of horrors, was a gargantuan statue of the Unspeakable One.

    Kham was invisible, thanks to another one of the Emerald Society’s invisibility potions. His Society contacts were always happy to provide him with the latest magical concoctions for a fee, but seemed strangely silent on the subject of Fleshripper. Kham was starting to think they wanted to see what he did with it…or what Fleshripper did with him.

    He recognized some of the items on the altar, remnants of the original temple they had wiped out before. Unfortunately, one of them included Egil.

    Egil was strapped to the altar. A hooded figure lifted a dagger over him while four ssanu chanted, their tails and heads swaying in unison. Egil also stood in the corner, cleaning his nails. The impostor.

    “We sacrifice this priest to you, Unspeakable One!” shouted the cultist.

    BLAM! BLAM!

    The cultist’s headless body slumped to the floor.

    Kham winced as he turned visible. Fleshripper got him so caught up in the thrill of battle that Kham sometimes forgot to worry about his own safety.

    Ilmarė skidded into the room. “There you are!”

    “Took you long enough,” said Kham. “Didn’t you hear the signal?”

    “What signal?”

    The fake Egil spun on Kham with drawn blades. He faced two more of Kham’s pistols.

    BLAM! BLAM!

    “That signal,” said Kham. He holstered his pistols and drew Fleshripper.

    Beldin and Vlad charged into the fray, facing the ssanu head on.

    Kham dodged the swipe of one of the ssanu’s curved blades and hopped up onto the altar. “You okay Egil?”

    Egil moaned, barely conscious. The Altherian priest was bruised all over.

    “I’ll take that as a yes.” He jumped over another ssanu’s slash; the blade just missed Egil’s nose. With a flick of his wrist, Kham sliced Egil’s bindings apart.

    “Be right back.” Kham hopped over another ssanu. It spun to face him, but Vlad intervened.

    “Pick on someone your own size,” snarled Vlad.

    The ssanu obliged and Kham hopped back onto the altar. He rolled Egil off of it and popped open another vial with one hand. He lifted it to Egil’s lips. “Drink,” he said.

    Egil swallowed the contents as the sounds of hisses and metal echoed behind them. His eyes fluttered open.

    “Better?”

    Egil nodded. “Yes. Thank you.”

    “What happened?”

    “They ambushed me,” said Egil. “I think they were planning to brand me, but I’m not sure why. The only thing I remember clearly was a voice saying: After tonight, your kind will be out of the way for good.”

    The sounds of combat stopped. Kham peeked over the altar.

    All the ssanu were dead.

    “So does that mean all of humankind? Or all of the Brothers of Althares?”

    “I don’t like either choice,” said Vlad.

    “That’s odd,” said Ilmarė.

    Vlad looked around. “What?”

    “The incense smoke.” Ilmarė pointed at the sputtering candles and smoking brazier. “It’s flickering. There’s an opening to the surface around here somewhere.”

    Beldin grunted. “Yep.” He pressed one of the screaming faces on the statue of the Unspeakable One. A door slid open behind the statue. A ramp led up into darkness.

    “You’d think with these two on our side, we wouldn’t fall into any traps,” said Kham, shaking his head.

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    Terror in Freeport - Part 9a: Verlaine’s House

    The door at the other end of the long ramp opened into a large cellar, well stocked with interesting vintages.

    “We’re in Verlaine’s house,” said Kham. He took a bottle off the shelf and popped the cork with one hand.

    “How can you be sure?” asked Vlad.

    Kham pointed at an open create with his boot. “The Bierce Vintners stamp was on the crate we found in the old snake temple too.” He took a swig. “This is where they’ve been delivering the crates of magical bricks, disguised as bottles of wine.”

    “So Verlaine’s in on it too,” said Egil. “This is very troubling.”

    “This whole city is a mess,” said Ilmarė. She peered up the steps.

    “Actually, Freeport’s usually like this,” said Kham. “Only there are less snakes.”

    Ilmarė hushed him. She craned her neck to listen.

    “Combat. Upstairs.”

    There was a cry of agony. Kham took a swig of a potion and rushed up the steps.

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    Terror in Freeport - Part 9b: Verlaine’s House

    Kham crept his way towards the door across from the stairway. He eased the door open.

    The room was a mess. Books from the bookcases lining the room lay scattered on the floor. A big, dark wood desk was similarly ransacked.

    Kham locked gazes with McNeil, a mercenary of some note. Or at least, Kham thought he did—McNeil was staring through him at Vlad, who stood in the doorframe behind him.

    Vlad charged ahead, heedless of his companion’s presence, and it was all Kham could do to spin out of the way. Then Ilmarė screamed in pain. Kham ran out into the hallway after her.

    The elorii lay on the ground with Egil tending to her wounds. A masked figured covered in black from head-to-toe was backpedaling, a rapier and wicked dagger in both hands.

    “That assassin…” gasped Ilmarė. “I recognized her…she tried to kill Baldric!”

    Kham recognized her too. It was the notorious Jesswin, the deadliest assassin in Freeport. He decided the Brother of the Yellow Sign was much more influential than he first thought—they were hiring expensive killers.

    Kham padded after her. He would teach this Jesswin a thing or two about assassinations.

    Jesswin cocked her head. She heard him.

    One hand disappeared into the folds of her bodysuit. A black globe skittered out onto the wooden floor in front of Kham.

    He dove forward just as it burst into flames. The flames cut Kham off from the others. It didn’t matter; Kham was exactly where he wanted to be.

    He slowly drew his two pistols from their holsters, resisting the urge to just charge after her with Fleshripper, screaming bloody murder. Some days, it was harder to resist the blade than others.

    Jesswin wasn’t fooled. She crab-walked sideways until her back was against a wall, eyes darting left and right. Then she slid into another room. Kham pursued her.

    They were in a bedchamber, done up in dark oak and lined with heavy wardrobes, with a canopy bed in the center.
    Under ordinary circumstances, it would have been a warm, comfortable hideaway. But it was turned into an abattoir.

    The bed held what was left of Councilor Verlaine; on the carpet laid four members of his personal guard. All have been hacked almost beyond recognition.

    Kham took careful aim at Jesswin’s head with both pistols.

    BLAM! BLAM!

    Jesswin ducked just as the triggers on his pistols clicked. The blast shattered the windowpane behind her.

    “Thanks, Kham” said Jesswin from behind her mask.

    The assassin back flipped out of the window and landed on her feet two stories below.

    Kham swigged another potion and dove out of the window after her. He landed a second after Jesswin, who dodged and weaved through the crowd.

    Kham rolled to his feet and came up with two more pistols. He fired, but only succeeded in killing a cantaloupe and a merchant’s stall.

    Vlad huffed up to him. “Did you get her?”

    Kham shook his head. “Worse.”

    “Worse?”

    “The most dangerous assassin in Freeport now knows my name,” he said dourly.

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