Cuana Chapter 8 Entry 6

8/23

After speaking with the slave girl at the home of the late slaver, Urian, we turned our attention to our own needs, namely finding some remedies for healing our wounds. If we were to confront Galbro at the Tovalis mansion we would need to be in better shape than we were at the moment.

We arrived a short time later back in the merchants’ district, seeking curatives while the Stygian hunted for herbs and alchemical components. We eventually happened upon a small shop where the proprietor did indeed have some strong healing medicine. The others had managed to haggle the man down to a more reasonable price, but my continued attempts to net us a better bargain resulted in our having to pay full price after all. I’m learning that there’s more subtlety to bargaining than meets the eye, and will study my companions’ technique more closely in the future. After purchasing a healing salve from the man, we slipped into an alley, doffed our armor, and applied the medicine to our wounds. I’ve used herbs that have restorative power in my days in the wooded hills of Cimmeria, but by comparison the salve worked as if enchanted. By the time my armor was back on I was feeling much stronger, as if my most recent wounds had been little more than scratches.

After seeing the pain which had afflicted the Nordheimer seemingly out of nowhere, it was obvious that we were facing somebody wielding potent powers of sorcery. My companions and I all agreed that it would be prudent to aid Dhak in boosting his own magical strength to help counter any further sorcerous attacks made upon us. We returned to the slums in search of vagrants so that the Stygian could drain them in the same manner as he had with Timeon’s servants. No one would miss them during their recovery and they would appear as though they were sleeping off common inebriation. We located two such drunkards pretty quickly, lying in the filth of an alley nearby. Tullweim restrained one, and I held the other while Dhak drew power from each, leaving them both even more witless than when we found them. I suppose my consious got the better of me because when it was done I slipped a silver piece inside each victim’s grimey tunic, out of sight of anyone else who might come along and prey upon those hapless sots by robbing them of their single silver piece.

We left the slums and headed for the Tovalis mansion. We wished to get a look at the place before we decided on a specific plan of action. It was possible that we could go in straight away and confront either Galbro or anyone else who might be there, or go back to Timeon’s and get some reinforcements to return with if the place looked too well defended against just the four of us. We found the place boarded up with neighboring buildings sitting flush up against it to either side, no alleys to provide direct access from the front to the back of the building. The place looked deserted by all appearances, but furtive movement – a shadow perhaps – seen through the slats covering an upstairs window, told that the place was indeed occupied.

Assuming that we had been spotted by whoever was behind that boarded-up second floor window, we backed away from the house in an attempt to make it seem as if we were looking for a certain address and hadn’t yet found it. With no alleyways to give us access to the back of the mansion, Dhak and Xacksmith split from Tullweim and I to walk around the block and look for some way to get to the back door of the place. In the meantime, the Nordheimer joined me in walking up and down the street, never letting the mansion out of our sight while trying to make ourselves look as casual and uninteresting as possible. Regardless, we probably stuck out like a sore thumb due to our pale complections, our comparatively massive size, and the heavy armor we wear. We began to grow concerned for our allies, as some time had passed since they had left to check out the property. We decided we’d wait another five minutes before forcing our way in to be sure our friends hadn’t run afoul of any of Galbro’s mischief. After just another moment, the front door opened in a puff of dust – the significance of which I know not – and the Hyrkanian stood in the doorway, gesturing and giving us the ‘thumbs up’, the signal to charge. One quick glance at eachother, a mutual nod of assent, and we ran for the open door and into the mansion.

Xacksmith was indicating a closed door ahead and to our right, saying he heard at least five or six people talking on the other side. The Nordheimer went straight for the door while I looked for another way into the room. I kicked open a door and think I was hit by some kind of small projectile, but I was already moving and payed it no heed. The room I was looking into was nicely furnished and looked like someone’s den or office. There was another closed door facing the same direction as the one Tullweim had battered open, so I kicked it open and saw room full of men, at least ten or eleven of them, and my Nordheimer friend berserking into their ranks from the other entrance into the room. I jumped into a group of them, my greatsword slashing downward as I closed.

I met my first opponent head-on, my sword hammering down upon his shoulder and opening him up clean to the breastbone, killing him instantly. A second was directly next to him, and my backswing caught him across his neck, nearly severing his head and killing him just as quickly as the first. A third had positioned himself on the dining room table just in front of me, so I slashed across his midsection, his life spilling out in a gout of steaming intestines upon the floor. A fourth was writhing on the floor just to my left, and I recognized the symptoms of Dhak’s handiwork in his painful contortions. His torments were ended when I buried my blade deep into his chest, but his face still bore the expression of the agony endured from that dark, Stygian magic. I looked around for other foes, but the fight was already ending. Tullweim had tried to subdue their leader for questioning, but hit him so hard that he was out cold, and at least for the time being was unrevivable. When the last of them surrendered, Dhak interrogated him. We learned that this was indeed the place where Galbro made his lair, but that he was currently away on a job with his ‘best men’. When pressed further he confirmed our suspicions – Galbro and his goons were headed to Timeon’s mansion. During the time that the Stygian was questioning the prisoner, the Hyrkanian approached me carrying a message written on some kind of fancy parchment. The script was unknown to me, but he was good enough to read it out loud so that I could understand it. It said:

actual wolves, stained red with the blood of others, will visit the house on wolve’s row today. stay away.

change is in the wind and even respected merchants are hung without fear in Ianthe. I strongly recommend you acquire the item tonight by whatever means you posess.

your patron,

A

That message, presumably meant for Galbro, is both very informative and very troubling, and I stated as such after the Hyrkanian read the scroll aloud. Xacksmith asked me ‘who is ‘A’?’, and I answered that I believe ‘A’ is Antimides, supposed ally of Timeon. I had already stated my suspicion of Antimides back when we fought the riders in red hooded cloaks. The riders had been sent to watch us – not to steal the scroll that we had just picked up from the mines, a scroll that can summon Al’Kiir. They followed us to ensure Timeon didn’t try to raise the evil god on his own. That means that whoever had sent the riders to watch us knew that the crucible was in Timeon’s house, if not directly in Timeon’s posession. If that person had been an adversary of Timeon and wished to summon the god themselves, they would have taken either the scroll or the crucible before Timeon had a chance to use them. I had stated in the past my suspicion that Timeon was a dupe for his ally, Count Antimides. Once Antimides knew, either from Timeon himself or from a spy in Timeon’s house that both items were in Timeon’s posession, he could have sent thieves to recover them. We already had Galbro as a suspect in the murder of Katos, and now we find a scroll warning Galbro of our attempted trap at the house on Wolve’s Row, and of the importance of acquiring an ‘item’ by tonight, this item presumably being the crucible. Signed ‘your patron, A’ leads me to believe that it was Antimides who wrote that note. I believe he had Timeon round up the items necessary to raise their evil deity and is taking them for himself, not sharing any of the spoils of success with anyone, not even his associate.

The Stygian was still questioning the remaining thug, from whom we learned the hidden location of the stairway that led to the second floor. After a moment I found a catch that caused a panel to swing aside, revealing the stairs. I began to ascend, the Hyrkanian behind me and the Nordheimer following him. At the top of the stairs I found a similar catch, another panel swinging aside to reveal a short, dusty hallway. I stepped through the portal and started down the hall. I had only taken a few steps when someone dropped from the rafters directly in front of me brandishing a blade. At the same time I heard a similar sound from directly behind. Before I fully knew what was happening, the man in front of me had managed to slip his blade past a gap in my armor and deep into my vitals. Nemain’s black balls, the pain was so intense as to rob me of consiousness. He twisted his blade visciously, pulping my guts and spilling an appalling amount of blood. I sank to the floor, vision fading into blackness, the smell of my own blood strong in my nostrils, and as I did so I heard the portal being slammed closed behind me.

I’m told that I wasn’t down for more than a few minutes, but I had been gravely wounded. My first sight upon regaining consiousness was the face of the Stygian, who I learned had healed me, at least enough to ensure that I’d live. He can be a cold, evil man, but I now owe him my life. The Hyrkanian had also been wounded nearly unto death, and was recovering on the floor next to me just as I was. We managed to drag our carcasses up off of the floor and had a look around the upstairs. Aside from tripping a few traps that sent darts harmlessly rebounding from our armor and seeing thick layers of dust everywhere, we found nothing. We returned downstairs and looted the place before returning to the merchants’ district to try to acquire more healing salve.

We made it back just before closing time to the same shop where we had purchased healing salve earlier in the day. The proprietor made a big sale this time, as we were spending a lot of the diamonds that we had obtained from Galbro’s private stash. I immediately returned to the alley outside, removed my armor, and spread three doses of the stuff across my wounds. Just as before, the salve acted as if enchanted, and I felt a great amount of my strength and health return. I saved two doses of the stuff to use later on, but I could have used it all and still had some degree of fatigue from the wound I had suffered. On our way back to Timeon’s, Tullweim aided Dhak in draining power from two more victims in order to boost his magical power. We still have a magic-wielding foe somewhere out there, and need to be ready to combat whoever it is when they next try to strike.

We arrived at Timeon’s mansion well after sunset and were greeted by Enaro who informed us that two more of the Crimson Wolves had deserted. We all went inside, wary of the fact that Galbro and ‘his best men’ were likely somewhere close by. If only I could see the look on that bastard’s face when he goes back to his hideout and finds all his lackeys slain and his treasures ransacked. Within a few minutes, Dhak smelled smoke coming from somewhere – a moment more and I could smell it too. The Stygian found the source – a closed door had smoke seeping out from behind it and was hot to the touch, so I immediately ran to fetch a large basin of water. At the same time, Tullweim went upstairs to see that all was secure above. As I was returning with the water, Dhak thrust the door open and we could see that a fire had been set to as an obvious diversion. I heard Tullweim’s voice raised in challenge coming from the upper levels of the mansion, so I set the water down and ran for the stairs, drawing my weapon and moving as quickly as I was able. So, Galbro was striking was he? I hope I get the chance to tell him we ransacked his place and killed all his lackeys before the pig dies- If the Nordheimer is kind enough to leave enough of the bastard’s hide still attached for me to skewer, anyway.

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