Arcanis: Gonnes, Sons, and Treasure Runs (COMPLETED) - Page 47
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    The Last Resort - Part 3a: Conversing With Talbot Estus

    Drinks and food were laid out at The Last Resort for an opening night reception. Bobbin Brandydale, the hotel’s owner, played the role of maitre d’ himself, seating guests and taking reservations.

    Bobbin greeted Kham warmly.

    “Bobbin? What are you doing here?” said Kham in disbelief. “What happened to the Pale Plate?”

    “I sold it!” Bobbin led them over to a table in the corner. “Milton Drac always suspected we were a haven for…” he looked at Ilmarė and Beldin, “dissidents. His men constantly hassled us. When Drac died, business boomed. Me and my brother Edgar threw our savings together and, well, here we are!”

    “Wow,” said Kham. “I’m glad things are working out for you. We just got out of the Freeport Opera House.”

    “How was the play?”

    “It was a real riot,” said Beldin, nursing his head.

    “In that case, the first round is on the house.” Bobbin waved over a serving wench with mugs of ale. “We’ve got a few events planned tonight,” said Bobbin. “I think you know Henry Tranco, Kham?” Bobbin gestured towards a corner of inn, where a well-dressed, dark-haired man was shuffling cards. “He’s hosting a high stakes game of Three-Dragon Ante.”

    “I remember Tranco.” Kham squinted at Henry, who waved back at him.

    “The Countess d’Amberville is throwing an opening night reception for the cast of The Queen and the Stranger. I’m glad you enjoyed the play, The Last Resort’s fortunes rest on its success tonight.”

    “In that case you—“

    Kham cut Ilmarė off. “Thanks for the drinks Bobbin. We’ll try to keep our spirits up and the noise down.”

    Bobbin nodded, scurrying off to deal with more patrons.

    Kham watched Bobbin leave. Then he turned back to Ilmarė. “I don’t have the heart to tell him. I’m sure nobody’ll show up anyway.”

    “You’d better hope the Sea Lord’s Guard doesn’t show up,” said Ilmarė.

    “I doubt it,” said Kham. “People shoot at the Guard every day.”

    “But they don’t usually do it wearing the Order of Drac,” said Beldin.

    “I’m not the only one who’s a member of the Order of Drac.” Kham pointed at Beldin’s amulet.

    “That doesn’t make me feel better,” said Ilmarė. “I have one of those amulets too, but I don’t go around flashing it to everybody.”

    “Maybe you should,” Kham said with a smirk.

    Before long, the cast duly appeared, served by a procession of waiters and serving maids. They all wore extravagant masks.

    “Bobbin failed to mention that this is a masked ball,” said Ilmarė out of the corner of her mouth.

    “Don’t look at me,” said Kham. “Blame Egil, he told me to meet him here. Speaking of which, has anyone see Egil?”

    Few people ate or drank much. The atmosphere was awkward.

    Ilmarė sighed and got up from the table.

    “Where are you going?” asked Beldin.

    “To talk to the cast.” She donned a violet, feathery mask. “I want to meet the creator of this stirring drama.”

    And with that, she stalked over to the cast table.

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    The Last Resort - Part 3b: Conversing With Talbot Estus

    The party seemed to be already on its last legs when the writer of the play, Talbot Estus, appeared, wearing his own half-smiling, half-frowning mask.

    There was applause from his cast, which he accepted graciously. He seemed oblivious to the subdued mood around him.

    Talbot joined the table of masked actors, along with Ilmarė. Talbot showed no signs of recognizing her presence.

    “So you really didn’t notice the ruckus in the crowd?” she asked.

    “Not all,” said the largest of the actors wearing a widely grinning mask. “We thought it was applause.”

    “I must say,” Talbot interjected, “I deplore what happened after the performance, but it wasn’t a complete surprise. Any work of art should seek to inspire fervor.”

    “That was a little more than fervor,” said Ilmarė. “People were nearly killed.”

    “But let us not dwell on such things.” Talbot stood up and addressed the room. “Let’s show the cast our appreciation!”

    Polite applause broke out. Henry Tranco smiled and clapped along with the rest. Kham and Beldin did not.

    “Where did you come up with such an interesting play?” asked Ilmarė.

    “Funny you should ask!” said Talbot. “I was inspired by The King in Yellow. Have you heard of it?”

    “I assume you mean the book, not the character,” said Ilmarė. “Yes, I’ve heard of it.”

    “I purchased a copy off of the famous Coryan playwright, Livius Carbo.” Talbot spoke with rising excitement.” Legend has it that it was performed in front of an entire town; they rioted afterwards, burning the entire place to the ground. Can you imagine such…” he searched for a word.

    “Fervor?” asked Ilmarė.

    “Fervor, yes!” Talbot smiled at from beneath his mask. “What‘s your name, by the by?”

    “I prefer not to reveal my identity until the unmasking at midnight,” Ilmarė entwined her arm around Talbot’s. “In the mean time, think of me as your greatest fan.”

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    The Last Resort - Part 4: A Gentle Reminder

    “There he is.” Kham pointed at Egil. “Egil, come here!”

    The young-looking, bearded brother of Althares looked around hesitantly and then wended his way around the tables to Kham and Beldin.

    “Where have you been?”

    “Keep your voice down!” Egil snapped in a half-whisper. He pulled up a chair. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. You got my note then.”

    “Yes.” Kham leaned across the table. “But you seem to be missing something.”

    Egil patted his robe down. “Oh?”

    Kham grabbed Egil’s hand by the wrist. “A pinky!” Egil’s pinky was wrapped in a bandage. It was missing a piece above the knuckle. “What kind of trouble are you in, Egil?”

    Egil gulped, hard. “I had originally hoped to bring you to speak on behalf of Lucius, but…”

    “Egil,” said Kham. “What kind of trouble?”

    “You recall how I paid you those past two times to investigate the Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign?”

    Beldin leaned forward, intrigued. “Yes?”

    “Well, as you’ve pointed out before, the Brothers of Althares take a vow of poverty.”

    Kham slapped his forehead. ”Egil, you didn’t.”

    Egil rubbed the back of his head and nodded.

    “What?” asked Beldin.

    “He borrowed from a loan shark. And if I know Freeport, my guess is he borrowed from the most powerful crime boss in town—“

    “Finn val’Borda.” Egil sighed.

    Kham leaned back in his chair. “How much?”

    He peered over his lenses to scan the room.

    Egil gripped a napkin and twisted it nervously in his hands. “Well if you consider the interest, I paid you several thousand doubloons the last time…”

    “How MUCH, Egil?’

    “Ten thousand doubloons,” he whispered.

    “Ten thousand gold!” shouted Beldin in surprise. “I’m surprised Finn didn’t take your head!”

    “Shhh!” hissed Egil. “I know! I’m lucky to be alive! But I won’t be if I don’t return what I owe Finn.” He clawed at Kham. “Kham, you have to help me. I don’t have that kind of money! I really did take a vow of poverty! If I don’t pay him back by midnight, they’re going to kill me!”

    “You don’t mess with Finn, Egil.” Kham shook his head. “What the hell were you thinking?”

    “I wasn’t thinking! I was desperate! And in the end, I was right.” Egil continued to twist the napkin like a hangman’s noose. “Freeport needs its heroes. They just had to have the right motivation.”

    Kham sighed. “Let’s go, Beldin.”

    Beldin groggily rose to his feet. “Where?”

    Kham made his way towards Henry Tranco’s gaming table. “We’re going to pay Finn back.”
    Last edited by talien; Monday, 28th April, 2008 at 11:09 AM.

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    The Last Resort - Part 5a: An Honest Game of Chance

    Henry Tranco was a handsome man, with a carefully trimmed beard. His jet-black hair hung rakishly over one eye. He shuffled the cards again as Kham sat at the table.

    “So you’re joining me after all,” he said with a ready smile. “Good to see you Kham. It’s been too long.”

    Kham grumbled as he sifted through his money pouch. “Not long enough. I lost something very valuable last time.”

    “Oh that’s right,” said Henry. “I remember now. Well, no hard feelings. I should warn you, this is a high stakes game.”

    “I wouldn’t be playing if it weren’t,” said Kham. “My companion here is Beldin Soulforge.”

    “Good to see a Solani dwarf who knows his way around men and gold.” Henry shuffled the cards again. “Welcome to the game.”

    Beldin grunted over his mug.

    Ilmarė sat down next to the dwarf with a huff. “Idiots.”

    “Welcome, Osalikene!” said Henry with a grin. “I’ll take your comment as an assessment of the actors over there and not of my gaming companions.”

    “Don’t be so sure,” muttered Kham.

    The cheerful reception caught Ilmarė off guard. She peered at Henry through her feathered mask. Then she turned back to her companions. “The author of the play, Talbot Estus, is delusional. He thinks all the madness is delightful.”

    “That’s good news.” Henry shuffled the cards again. “Talbot’s got money. We’ve got one more seat at the table, so perhaps if you can get him to join us…”

    Sebastian slid into the seat next to Ilmarė. “I’m surprised to see you all here.”

    “Where were you?” asked Beldin.

    “Tracking down Lucius. He is indeed locked in The Tombs,” said Sebastian. “We can’t get in to see him until tomorrow.”

    “Since when do you care what happens to Lucius?” asked Kham.

    “Ah, a dark-kin.” Henry shuffled the cards again. “With a hint of Canceri accent. This is a regular table of nations.”

    “Who are you?” asked Sebastian.

    “Henry Tranco,” said the gambler with a smirk and slight incline of his head. He began handing out cards. “The game is Three-Dragon Ante. Each chip is worth one hundred doubloons. I take it you all know the rules?” They all nodded. “Good. Then we’ll start.”

    “I found something else out too,” Sebastian said to Kham. “Remember that cargo Edward was talking about?”

    Henry flipped card after card to each of them.

    “Yeah?”

    “Well, whatever it is, it’s big and heavy. I trailed Edward to here. It took four men to bring it up to his room.”

    “I thought Edward mentioned that he was meeting Captain Baldric here,” said Sebastian.

    “Sure he is,” said Kham. “So Edward drags something out of Sulfurmarsh, ships it all the way to Freeport, and then brings it up into a room at The Last Resort. What is it?”

    “Whatever it is,” said Henry. “He’s probably planning to sell it.”

    “And how do you know that?” asked Ilmarė.

    “Because he’s a lifelong Freeporter,” said Kham. “Everyone around here is either buying or selling something.”

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    The Last Resort - Part 5b: An Honest Game of Chance

    Kham considered his cards: two Gold Dragons, a weak Red Dragon, a Black Dragon, and the Thief. Winning the stakes outright looked unlikely. Better to play the two Gold Dragons and hope they could provide him with the third Gold to make a color flight. If that didn’t work, he could then finish with the Thief and at least come away with his ante. Decent odds.

    “Hey Kham,” said Henry, “isn’t that Countess d’Amberville?”

    The Countess presided over the Salon du Masque. She floated from table to table, charming the patrons and making sure her guests were satisfied with the fine liquors.

    Kham didn’t look over his shoulder. “Yep.”

    Two heavy-set men in expensive-looking clothes entered the lobby. They looked around and headed for Egil’s table, who was watching Henry’s game intently from afar.

    “Didn’t you two have a thing going?”

    The two thugs stood on either side of Egil’s chair, leaning over him, and a soft but clearly heated discussion took place.

    “I don’t want to talk about it, Tranco.” Kham drew another card. It was a Red Dragon. Damn.

    After a couple of minutes, the men left, stopping at the door to cast a significant glance back at where Egil sat. He watched them leave.

    “Who’s this Countess?” Beldin turned around to look. “I don’t know how you can tell who anybody is. They’re all wearing masks.”

    Egil walked over to the table.

    “The Countess is renowned for her quick wit, her seductive eyes, and her impeccable sense of style.” Henry put down his flight. It was a strength flight; all three dragons had a strength of five.

    The gambler tried not to smile as he stole five chips from the stakes and added two of the remaining ante cards from the center of the table to his hand. Of course, in the game, five chips meant five thousand Freeport doubloons.

    “She seems very interested in that human over there,” said Ilmarė. She nodded in the direction of a man wearing a noble-looking mask.

    “He’s a curious fellow,” said Henry.

    “You don’t know who he is?” asked Ilmarė. “You seem to think you know everything.”

    “Quite the contrary, I don’t know very much about him at all. He’s here with someone, as dinner’s been taken up to his room even while he’s down here. I get the impression he’s recently arrived. My guess is he’s nobility from the continent with something to hide.”

    Kham looked over his lenses at Egil. “Everybody’s got something to hide.” He looked back at Henry. “Even you.”

    “I’m going to go upstairs to my room.” Egil leaned closer to Kham. “Good luck,” he whispered. Kham waved him off.

    “I’m hurt.” Henry feigned sorrow poorly. “Your turn Kham. Let’s see what you’ve got.”

    Kham reluctantly put down the Thief.

    “Now who’s got something to hide?” Henry laughed. “Well played. You lost the gambit but you won the pot anyway. Between the two of us, we took all that the chips this round.”

    Henry collected cards and deftly shuffled them again. “Looks like you’re out, Sebastian. Care to throw something into the pot instead?”

    Sebastian reached into the folds of his robe and placed several scroll cases on the table. “These magic scrolls are worth much.”

    “Sure,” said Henry. “Since you’re a friend of Kham, I’ll take your word for it.” He smiled as he pushed a pile of chips towards Sebastian.

    Somehow, it didn’t feel like Henry was doing him a favor.

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    The Last Resort - Part 5c: An Honest Game of Chance

    “Someone has been loitering by the doors for some time now,” said Sebastian.

    “If that’s an excuse to stop you from losing money,” said Kham, “then maybe you should take it.”

    The dark-kin frowned over at him. “I’m not tapped out yet.”

    “You’re running out of things to cash in,” said Ilmarė. Several scroll cases and Beldin’s adamantium dagger were in the pot. “Perhaps you should quit while you’re ahead.”

    Henry shuffled the cards again. “Your friend Edward has a new guest.”

    Kham glanced in Edward’s direction. “Elijah Quelch,” he said with a sneer.

    “You know him?” asked Ilmarė.

    “Not personally. He’s a rival of an antiques dealer I know.”

    “Good man, Falthar,” said Henry. “But Quelch…well there’s nothing Quelch won’t buy.”

    “I’m becoming increasingly concerned about what Edward took on board the Shrike,” said Sebastian.

    Just then a blustery Altharian merchant and four hired thugs burst into the lobby.

    “Aljandros?” Ilmarė said in surprise. “Last I saw him, he was running for his life in Grand Coryan.”

    “He looks mad,” said Beldin.

    Aljandros made a beeline straight for Bobbin.

    “I demand to know where mah wife ees!”

    Bobbin put up both hands. “Calm down, I’m sure if you tell me whom you’re looking for…”

    “Mah wife!” shouted Aljandros, practically frothing. “She ees here with her lover! Where are you Imelda? I’ll find that lousy cur!”

    “That’d be Thomas Rhymer.” Henry didn’t look at the scene as he began flipping cards to the other players. “He went upstairs a few hours ago carrying a bottle of expensive wine and two glasses.”

    Sebastian smoothed his robes. “This seems like as good an excuse as any to stop playing.” He nodded to Henry. “Thanks for the game.”

    Henry chuckled. “Just like a dark-kin. Rob him blind and he’ll thank you for the privilege.”

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    The Last Resort - Part 6: A Secret Rendezvous

    Aljandros’ men started up the stairs to the second floor, muscling past the hotel’s guards.

    WHAM!

    A door was busted open. A woman screamed, but it was not Imelda.

    “Oops, sorry!” Aljandros shouted into the room.

    It was then that Sebastian noticed the whip.

    “I really don’t think—“ he began, but the sound of another door being kicked open cut him off.

    WHAM!

    “AHHA!” shouted Aljandros.

    An attractive woman was half naked inside the room, covering herself with just a sheet. The man whom Sebastian presumed was Thomas Rhymer was struggling into his pants.

    The thugs knocked Rhymer down. Aljandros cracked his whip. Imelda screamed.

    “Now wait a minute…” began Sebastian.

    The thugs started kicking Rhymer.

    “Hey, now, that’s enough…”

    Aljandros was shouting at the top of his lungs.

    “That’s it!” Sebastian extended one palm towards the room. “FUCO ASPERGO!

    A cone of coruscating colors washed over everyone in the room. The thugs fell. Rhymer fell. Imelda fell. Only Aljandros stood, slack-jawed, arm raised in mid-whip.

    “That’s better.” Sebastian dusted himself off. “Now, as for you.” He pointed at Aljandros’ head. “Medicates privates!

    Aljandros’ eyes crossed to stare at Sebastian’s finger.

    “Better. Now, as I was saying, I think you’re being ridiculous about this whole thing.”

    “I’m being ridiculous about this whole thing,” parroted Aljandros.

    “Maybe if you paid more attention to your wife, she wouldn’t be cheating on you.”

    “Maybe if I paid more attention to Imelda, she wouldn’t cheat on me,” he repeated.

    “So here’s what you’re going to do: You’re going to carry your wife out of here. And then you’re going to love and cherish each other for the rest of your life. Understood?”

    Aljandros nodded. He walked mechanically over to his wife’s unconscious body. Then he paused.

    “Oh wait,” said the merchant. He turned back to Rhymer.

    “Aljandros…” said Sebastian, but the warning was unnecessary.

    Aljandros yanked the man’s pants off and threw them out of the room. “Now he can be as embarrassed as I was.”

    Sebastian rolled his eyes. “Just take your wife and go.”

    Aljandros helped Imelda to her feet. She groggily complied. Sebastian followed them out of the room, leaving the four thugs to snore blissfully.

    Ilmarė watched the whole scene from the bar. “Where was he when the riot broke out?”

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    The Last Resort - Part 7a: The Chosen One

    Kham stared intently at his hand. He had the unique Bahamut card, the Dragon God. Except that he couldn’t add Bahamut to his flight without losing the gambit. The card specifically stated that as long as he had Bahamut and an evil dragon in his flight, he couldn’t win the gambit. All he had were evil dragons in his hand.

    On the other hand, the strength of the Bahamut card was too tempting to pass up: Bahamut had a strength of thirteen. He was bound to be the highest with Bahamut in his flight!

    Making a decision, Kham snapped the Bahamut card down.

    “A strong showing,” said Henry. “With Bahamut and your Copper Dragon, you’re at a strength of twenty-three.”

    Kham leaned back in his chair. “Let’s see you beat that!”

    Behind him, a half-naked Thomas Rhymer fled The Last Resort.

    Henry had a five strength flight with a Brass and Bronze Dragon. The odds were low that he could beat Kham’s flight.

    With a slow smile, Henry snapped down a mortal card: The Druid. “Your turn.”

    “Son of a BITCH!” shouted Kham, throwing his cards down.

    “What?” asked Beldin.

    “The Druid card means the player with the weakest flight wins the gambit instead of the strongest.” Henry raked the chips in the pot towards him. “Judging by our friend’s reaction, I gather he doesn’t have anything low enough to compete.”

    Kham looked away in disgust. “I think I’m done with this game.” He was ahead of where he was before, but not enough to pay Egil’s debt.

    Ilmarė had already left to find Talbot. Beldin reluctantly withdrew from the game when it was clear he was running out of money.

    “It’s all about the timing, Kham. Tell your pretty elorii friend that she’s not welcome at my table anymore.” He grinned. “She nearly cleaned us all out.”

    “You’re a real charmer, Tranco.” Kham shoved his hands in his overcoat pockets. “I’m going upstairs to tell Egil the bad news.”

    Henry started counting the chips. “You might want to hurry. Two pairs of men took a room on either side of Egil’s.”

    Beldin picked up his axe and followed Kham upstairs.

    Henry called over to the masked actors, all huddled around the table speaking conspiratorially amongst themselves. “Can I interest you in a game of chance?”

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    The Last Resort - Part 7b: The Chosen One

    Sebastian and Beldin entered Egil’s room. Kham closed the door behind him.

    “How did it go?” asked Egil, wringing his hands.

    “No time for that now.” Kham looked sideways at the door. “Listen, we have to get you out of this room.”

    “Finn’s men are here already?” Egil couldn’t stop staring at the door. “I told them I would pay them at midnight!”

    “Not Finn’s men,” said Sebastian. “Someone else.”

    “There’s someone else?”

    “Drink this.” Kham thrust a potion in front of Egil’s nose. “I’ll take you to another room.”

    Egil hesitated. “What is it?”

    Sebastian and Beldin set about stuffing the pillow with sheets and pillows from Imelda Haddon’s room. After a bit of fussing, it looked as if Egil was sleeping in the bed with the sheets over his head.

    “Just drink it.”

    Egil did as he was told and swigged from the glass vial. He promptly faded from sight.

    “Now, you’re going to be real quiet. We’re going to say goodbye to you, but you stick closely to me. Got it?”

    Egil nodded. When he realized nobody could see him, he said, “Okay.”

    “Here goes.” Kham opened the door. “Take care Egil. See you tomorrow.”

    “Bye Egil!” added Sebsatian.

    “Take care Egil!” said Beldin, far too enthusiastic for Kham’s tastes.

    They walked out of the room and over to another room on the other side of The Last Resort.

    “Still with us?” asked Kham.

    “Yes,” said Egil.

    They all turned to face where he probably was; judging from the direction of his voice, Egil had decided to move to cower in the far corner of the room.

    “Good, stay here,” said Sebastian. “Don’t open the door unless it’s one of us.”

    “What are you going to do?” asked Egil.

    “We’re going to go ambush an ambush.” Sebastian and Beldin left, closing the door behind them.

    “And you Kham?”

    Kham opened the window shutters. “I’m going to go visit an old friend.”

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    The Last Resort - Part 7c: The Chosen One

    Four men walked over to Egil’s former room. Three stood in front of the door, masking the fourth as he fiddled with the door’s lock. They quickly entered the room and closed the door behind them.

    A few seconds later, Sebastian knocked on the door. “Egil, is everything okay in there?”

    There was the sound of clothing being shredded over and over.

    “Sounds like a no,” said Sebastian. “Beldin, if you please.”

    Beldin lifted his axe and hacked at the door. The doorknob splintered apart as the door swung open.

    The four men had thrown back their cloaks, revealing bright purple robes with the yellow sign emblazoned on the front. They each wielded a wavy-bladed dagger. Judging by the feathers floating around the room, the cultists had plunged their daggers into the bed several times.

    “The Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign.” Sebastian sighed. “I hate those guys.”

    “The Unspeakable One’s vengeance shall not be thwarted!” shouted a cultist. “We shall sacrifice the Chosen One in his honor!”

    “Wait,” said Beldin. “You think Egil was the Chosen One?”

    “Well, yeah,” said one of the cultists.

    “The Unspeakable One’s vengeance shall not be thwarted!” shouted someone behind Sebastian. “We shall sacrifice the Chosen One in his honor!”

    Sebastian spun to see four other men with daggers raised, standing in the doorway behind him. They too had thrown back their cloaks, revealing bright red robes with the yellow sign emblazoned on the front.

    “And you are?” asked Sebastian.

    “The Brimstone Order, fool!” shouted one of the red-robed cultists. He swung his dagger at Sebastian in a wide arc, who promptly ducked backwards.

    “But I thought THEY were the Brothers of the Yellow Sign.”

    “What?!” shouted the red-robed leader. He pointed at the purple-robed cultists. “Who are you?”

    “We’re the King’s Players!” shouted the purple-robed leader.

    “I don’t believe this,” said Sebastian.

    The two groups entered the room, squaring off over the bed.

    “The Chosen One is ours to sacrifice!”

    “No, he’s ours!”

    “We saw him first!”

    Sebastian and Beldin stood in the corner, temporarily forgotten.

    “Well, the good news is that you obviously struck a blow to the Brotherhood,” Sebastian said to Beldin. “They’re not very well-organized.”

    “Wait a minute, this is goose feathers!” someone shouted.

    “That’s my cue.” Beldin plunged into the red and purple mob with wild abandon.

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