The Search for the Assassin
Tullweim, Xacksmith, Lady Julia and three members of the Crimson Wolves stood in the room with Katos’ lifeless body. Several of Baron Timeon’s servants arrived to clean up the mess in the room and remove the body of the dead Argossean merchant but Tullweim wouldn’t allow it. The Aesir demanded that nothing in the room be touched until Cuana and Dhak had a chance to survey the scene. Tullweim posted 2 mercenaries at the door and put the rest on high alert. They were to sleep in shifts and patrol the grounds for the rest of the night. Tullweim wanted to post 2 guards at the Baron’s door, but the Baron refused to allow the guards within 30 feet of his door. Though he too was concerned for his safety, Timeon desired privacy even more, and insisted, quite importantly, that his friends in court would never allow him to be assassinated. After the Baron left, Tullweim ordered Taras to keep watch over Timeon’s balcony.
Lady Julia was rather bored by the mystery and would rather stay at the palace than get involved. The Nemedian troops were quite fretful and Lady Julia’s beautiful hand-maiden Torali added to their fear when she said “only a supernatural being could have penetrated into the heart of the palace.” Tullweim’s slave Accalia then ran up to Katos’ room to find the barbarian. She stopped in shock at Tullweim completely naked in the hallway with Lady Julia in a bed sheet at his side. The barbarian clumsily attempted to smooth the situation over while he walked with Accalia back to his room.
Once preparations were made and armor was donned, Tullweim decided to locate Cuana and Dhak. Cuana had left word that he would be at the Bull & Bear inn so the Aesir and Hyrkanian headed that way down Ianthe’s darkened streets. When they arrived at the inn, they found Cuana had purchased a large keg of ale for the troops. Tullweim pulled the group outside and explained their current predicament. Dhak was eager to have a look at the crime scene and Cuana and Tullweim carted the keg back to Baron Timeon’s palace. When they arrived they looked the scene over and all the clues found were made known to the Cimmerian and Stygian. It was decided they would need to question Baron Timeon and perhaps confront him with what they already suspected about his dealings with Al’Kiir.
The next day the party rose early and checked the grounds. Katos’ body had been removed and the room cleaned. Tullweim gave Accalia some silver to go to the market district and buy something for herself to atone for the night before. Dhak also went to the market district to inquire about the knife that had ended Katos’ days. The Stygian noticed Accalia and grabbed her arm. She yelped with a start and met the Stygian’s imposing gaze with a coy smile. He asked what she was doing and she explained herself. Dhak caressed the girl’s cheek and bid her be on her way.
Cuana, Tullweim, and Xacksmith then arrived to the market and saw the Stygian and the slave-girl. Tullweim greeted Accalia and she showed off her purchases, then the party continued their inquiry, but did not get any useful information other than that the kingdom of Koth had attacked a border fortress.
The group decided to return to Timeon’s palace after mid-day and saw Enaro moving nervously about the grounds. When Tullweim approached Enaro, the Acheronian explained that he had noticed 3 Crimson Wolves missed the noon meal. Cuana asked around and found out that now that their contract was over and despite the fair pay, some of the men desired to go back to their lives in Nemedia, and away from the intrigue and murders in the Baron’s palace. Cuana said he could not blame them and informed Tullweim about the deserters. Tullweim and Cuana both addressed the troops to raise their morale. Dhak immediately moved out about the town, asked the city watch if they had seen the soldiers and learned they had left the Avanrakash gate early in the morning. Dhak informed the city watch that he wished to put bounties on the deserters heads.
The party then walked to Baron Timeon’s room to confront him about Darios’ and Katos’ murders. They arrived and saw Vanemoth carry Timeon’s first meal of the day to the Baron’s room. The Baron had opened the door and Tullweim interrupted and said they must speak immediately. The Baron sighed and told his chamberlain to take the tray to the dining room and Vanemoth shot an annoyed look at the mercenaries. Once in the dining room, the party confronted the Baron with what they knew. The Baron once again brushed aside Tullweim’s insistence on guards at Timeon’s door. Cuana asked about the riders with the red hoods they had encountered on the road back to Ianthe, and Timeon claimed complete ignorance of any knowledge about them. Cuana then pressed the Baron for information and mentioned Al’Kiir. The Baron replied that the Cimmerian’s primitive intellect could not comprehend the wills of gods and denied any sort of malicious activity. He then turned to Tullweim, quite furious that the day was fast passing and no new information had been discovered about Katos’ murderer or the items which had been stolen. The party left to discover what they could in the city with the clues they had.
The party explored the slums of Ianthe for rumors and people who might be able to lead them to information. This district reeked of poverty and neglect, and the buildings were in great danger of collapse. Many were already collapsed. Here were the desperate and poor, the resentful debtors, and the cunning thieves. Here it would be easy for bandit bands to hide from justice, sending their webs out across the city. Xacksmith spotted a couple of people in well-worn clothing who followed them when a pungent odor assaulted the groups nostrils. 7 haggard men approached, they held cups out in front of them and they pled for alms. “Please, a quarter silver. A copper. Anything. I’ve not had a scrap to eat in days.” “Please, please, my family is starving, my boy, my youngest is at death’s door.” Tullweim and Cuana gave them some silver and inquired about the bandana and knife. One of the beggars responded, “Well. I tell ‘ee, there’s only three groups of brigands in Ianthe smart enough, brave enough, or fool enough to commit murder in a noble’s own palace. One is Galbro, but he’s a bit of a fop. The other is Urian the slaver. And the third is the The Red Hawk, but she’s a woman so don’t really count no how, I’d put my money on Urian. He’s the only one with any real guts.”
Cuana gave the beggar more silver and the group went on its way and the party kept a wary eye out for the people who followed them. Once they caught sight of the pair the party went into an alleyway to try and lead their shadows into a trap. The pair of trailers apparently knew the alleys of the slums well as they attacked the group from connecting alleyways behind the party. The alley thieves attacked first and drew blood from Dhak and Cuana. Dhak quickly tossed Lotus smoke in front of the attackers, but managed to catch the party with it as well, the alley-rats and Cuana were out of commission for several seconds. Tullweim used this opportunity to hit both bandits with the flat of his blade and knocked them unconscious. Cuana asked Dhak to pour some of the strong ale he carried onto the alley-rats and the Cimmerian and Aesir carried the thugs as if they were drunk. They were stopped by the city watch, but their bluff worked and they were allowed to continue to the Baron’s palace.
Once at the palace, Dhak took one of the alley-rats up to his room while Tullweim took another to his. Tullweim called the mercenaries’ medic up to the room as well. When roused, the alley-rats spat at their captors and claimed they had followed the party in order to rob them. Unconvinced, Dhak issued threats of mystical death and damnation to intimidate the thief to talk. Tullweim used more barbaric measures. Blood-curdling screams rang out on the floor which acted as barracks for the mercenaries which woke several mercenaries from their sleep as Tullweim cut off a finger for every question he asked. When he had finished, the thief’s entire hand was lopped off. At the end of the gruesome interrogation, both Dhak and Tullweim had learned the thieves had been hired to get a “crucible” from the party and they learned the name of the man who had them followed, Galbro. The thieves did not know where Galbro could be located, but revealed a drop-off point in the slums for messages.
Tullweim let the thief that Dhak had interrogated go, but not before Dhak drained him to fuel his magical power. Dhak stole essence from the one-handed thief as well, and took the thief out into the entrance hall of Baron Timeon’s palace. There he gathered 10 Crimson Wolves and put on a horrific display. Dhak held the Elephant’s Heart out and murmured powerful words of dark sorcery. The large ruby in his hand glowed malignantly and the simple thief that stood in front of him shrank down to half his size. Their was an audible gasp of shock and horror at this display and Dhak announced that this would be the fate of any that would oppose the Crimson Wolves. Dhak then took the thief back to the slums to leave at Galbro’s drop-off point.
The next day, the party learned 2 more mercenaries had deserted, whether out of fear or disgust was unknown. The party decided to gather information in the Old Town district of Ianthe. This district was one of the oldest in the city. Many of the buildings had stood for centuries. A few had collapsed. The remains of the old city wall still ran through the area. It was a poor area, but not poverty-stricken. Many beggars and common laborers surrounded the party, along with soldiers and stables. While they attempted to get further leads on Galbro, the party learned that a fire had destroyed large parts of Gurian’s Heart.
The mercenaries continued on their way and were privy to some information. One disgruntled Ophirean let his feelings for foreigners be known, “It’s foreigners like you what’s making all this trouble, But you’ll get your own. Soon the King’s dead and Iskandrian takes the throne, he’ll impale you mercenary swine, and scatter your ashes in the river.” It was not long after when the adventurers noticed they were being followed by a gang of five alley-rats.
The party continued through the old city streets when their path was barred by a funeral procession. A long line of mourners clogged the streets so no chariot, horse, or man could pass. Tullweim decided to try and cut through the dim alleys and that is when the alley-rats struck. The five rogues cut Dhak and Xacksmith deep. The Hyrkanian retreated behind Cuana and Tullweim. Dhak moved back and cursed one of the thugs. Cuana stepped up and killed two of the rogues with two vicious swings of his great sword. Tullweim’s blade cast a swath of death in front of him. Finally, only two rogues were left and knew they were beat, so they fled. Cuana gave chase, but his armor slowed him down and he did not know Ianthe’s streets and alleys as well as the thieves. The party was left with no one to question, and so set forth with their inquiries.
Several hours of questions to anyone who would talk to them gave little results. The sun was setting past the hills and the mercenaries went to one last hovel with a woman sweeping in front. When asked, the woman revealed, “I know something about Galbro. Used to be from Zingara. Always wears a big scarf tied around his left wrist for some strange reason, likes to collect antiques and weird stuff like that. Bit of a fop, but a good swordsman.”
It was little to go off of, but more information than they previously had.