Shadows of the Rift

Rage and Raven: A Risky Business

Summary

4 Awakening 508

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That morning, at the Dragon’s Flagon in Kalimsport, Alun and Kerra Lanyon bid Lenoria and Rhain Ortha good journey, as they decide to move on and look for work separately. Rhain takes some offense, but not too much, and then he and Lenoria make their way to the marketplace to shop and to look for work. In the course of exploring the southern marketplace, Lenoria hears about a Talyk Skewes, a businessman who holds court in main market district in an exotic rug shop, who is looking for “talent”. As this seems to be their best prospect outside of manual labor, the two decide to cross the city and explore the option.

It’s noontime by the time the two cross the city to the main market district. Skewes’ rug shop is near The Enchanted Staff, the inn that Rhain had been thrown out of previously, so they have a landmark with which to find the place. The shop itself is large, though not ostentatious. Outside are few of the shop’s wares on display as well as a boy, about thirteen, hawking the wares of the shop. He cries out about the exotic rugs from Sianae, Tarsas, and Kuskar. Rhain approaches the boy and asks if he is Talyk Skewes.

“Oh no, I’m not Master Skewes.”

“Well, we’re here to see Talyk Skewes.”

“You’ll need to go inside, then.”

So the two head inside the shop, where there are more rugs on racks and on the walls. They are met by an unctuous man in fine clothes who asks if may be of assistance. Rhain once again asks for Talyk Skewes.

“And what may I say this is regarding?” asks the salesman.

“We heard that he is looking for talent.”

“Very good then. Wait here.”

After a short wait, Rhain and Lenoria are led into a small office made smaller by the crowd of men inside.

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They are met by a round man, bald in fine clothes with a slightly oily disposition. He takes each of their hands and introduces himself as Talyk Skewes. A large desk dominates the background that is flanked by two armed guards in fine, loose-fitting clothes that Rhain notes probably cover armor. Sitting beside the desk is a small, nervous-looking man facing the two newcomers. Rhain and Lenoria introduce themselves to Skewes and then Rhain steps forward and introduces himself to the seated man after he is not included in the introductions. The seated man is taken aback but indicates that his name is Ervyn Grybbin.

Rhain and Lenoria take their seats. Skewes takes his seat behind his desk and begins without much preamble.

“You’ll have to forgive some circumspection on my part. I have many rivals in my business ventures and I wish the details of this venture to remain vague unless we come to terms.”

“Rivals in the rug business?” Rhain asks.

“Ah, my other business ventures. I have many fingers, many pies. Rugs are just one of them. At any rate, I beg your pardon. Master Grybbin here is one of my agents. I will be sending him to conduct some business for me to a certain city. He will conduct said business transaction, then return to me. I wish him to travel in safety to said city, conduct his business successfully, and return to me safely. That is the nature of the job I propose. Safeguarding Master Grybbin as he conducts my business.”

“Bodyguards, then?” Rhain asks.

“Essentially, yes.”

“How much are we paid?”

“Ah, bluntness. I like that.”

“Seems the most relevant question. . .”

“Twenty-five gold up front. Twenty-five gold upon Master Grybbin’s safe return. I have arranged for the travel expenses for Master Grybbyn and his escort. I estimate that it will be not a bad payment for three days work.”

“Three days?” Lenoria asks. “Will be traveling overland or by ship? What about the stabling of our horses? Does that count as travel expenses?”

“These are details, my dear. We have not come to terms, yet,” Skewes replies, smiling. " What sort of skills do you bring to me? I can tell that you, dear lady, are Sianaean and, unless I miss my guess, an adherent of Imtiau. But you, " he says, pointing to Rhain, “I can see are a Northman but I know not what skills you may possess.”

“My axe. Daggers. My fists. But mostly my axe.”

Skewes nods. “Very good, then. Fine skills for a bodyguard. So, do the terms of the job seem amenable to you?”

Both Rhain and Lenoria nod in agreement.

“Very good. Your skills seem to be in accordance with my needs. We have come to terms.” Handshakes are shared all around.

“Now,” Skewes says, a frown creasing his round face. " I must bring a bit of unpleasantness to our friendly gathering. In completing this task for me, I consider us all to be friendly. But this must be said. Master Grybbin will be carrying a sum of funds upon his person in order to complete his duties. Should you, my friends, decide the allure of this sum to be too much and decide to take it and betray these friendly feelings we have nurtured. Well, let’s just say that I have many connections throughout Tarsas, Sianae, Ornis, Kuskar, and other lands and that it will be difficult to find future work of any nature. I hate to bring this up, but, again, I feel it must be said. But enough of that.

Master Grybbin will be setting sail on The Remedy tomorrow morning for the city of Jirra. You may find him at the docks on the morrow. The journey to Jirra should take most of the day tomorrow. He will be attending an auction in which he will be acquiring an object for me, a magical orcish holy symbol. Once he completes his task, he will re-board The Remedy and return to Kalimsport. I do not anticipate any hiccups on the journey, but as I said, I have many rivals that would love to see me fail in whatever business transaction I attempt. "

“This ship, The Remedy, is it your ship?” Rhain asks.

“It is not my ship but it is a ship I’ve employed many times. The crew and captain are trustworthy. But they will be taking on other passengers.”

“What about stabling for our horses?” Lenoria asks. She attempts to make the case for that being part of the travel expenses for the trip. However, Skewes dismisses her argument. “Stabling your beasts is your own affair. However, I do know a man who will treat you fairly.” He gives her the name of a hostelry that he recommends.

At that, Rhain and Lenoria rise to leave with a promise to meet Grybbin on the docks at the The Remedy in the morning.

Next the two fetch their horses and belongings from the Dragon’s Flagon and meet with the hostler that Skewes recommended. The man, Corwyn, was more than happy to accommodate the duo’s horses, even going to far to accept payment for one week with a promise to refund the difference should the two return sooner. The hostler even agrees to hold the belongings that are in the saddlebags. Then the two decide to take up residence at an inn closer to the docks. They pick The Shattered Club, a meaner inn than the Dragon’s Flagon, but clean enough for their purposes.

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At The Shattered Club, they see more of a racial mix than at the other inns they’ve stayed at. There are half-orcs, dwarves, half-elves, and humans in here. Many are obviously sailors and rough folk. The common room is loud and rowdy. A barely-passable bard plays on a corner stage while the sailors dice, laugh uproariously, drink, sing, and employ the trade of both men and women of the night. Rhain and Lenoria order the fish stew and some ale and take a table in the common room.

As the two enjoy their dinner and discuss their new employment, an altercation breaks out across the room. A dwarf and a half-orc call out drunken insults to each other. As the crowd eggs the on, the insults become less and less funny and more and more bellicose, the dwarf has finally had enough. He hurls his wooden tankard and beans the half-orc upon his head. This appears to be the unwritten signal for a general melee as fights suddenly spring up all around the common room. The innkeep, an older red-haired wench, takes up a large club from behind the bar and begins clouting those that get too close. Lenoria and Rhain sit in idle wonderment at the violence that has erupted around them.

The door to the kitchen springs open and out comes a heavy-set man wearing a dirty apron. “Gods be damned! Not again!” he roars and wades into the melee, men and dwarves and half-orcs bouncing off his thick gut and fists as he tries, unsuccessfully, to break up the fighting. A man falls into Lenoria’s lap and is pulled away by another who punches him in the face. Rhain manages to dodge a falling man who careens toward their table. So far, neither have been pulled into the fight.

Lenoria looks across the room to the bard, who cowers further into the corner, protecting his instrument. Rhain debates trying to make his way to the stairs and up to their room, but decides its too far. Instead, both of them decide to make their way to the bar where the innkeep is racking up an impressive tally. After narrowly dodging another combatant, the duo make their way to the innkeep. “Are you still serving?” Lenoria asks. The innkeep looks at her incredulously as she beans another drunken brawler. The cleric gives her a silver and the innkeep serves them up two mugs of ale.

The two watch the fight for a few moments from the bar. It’s starting to die down a bit as some of the more drunken of the fighters pass out. Rhain jumps up on the bar. “Is anyone here from The Remedy?” He receives no response. “Oh well. I guess I don’t have a side,” he laments as he continues to watch the fight from the bar. Finally, the brawl dies down to nothing, with the remaining combatants giving up and Laris, the cook, stomping into the kitchen after giving Lenoria a curious stare after she makes some comments about the fight. The innkeep lets them know that Laris is going to charge those that pass out in the common room for sleeping there, as well as for the broken furniture and such. He doesn’t hope to get much out of the sailors—as they tend to disappear on their next trips—but he gets what he can the next day. Rhain and Lenoria then make their way to their rooms for the night.

5 Awakening 508

The next morning finds Rhain and Lenoria on the docks looking for The Remedy. They find ship along with Ervyn Grybbin waiting for them. He is waiting with a leather satchel with an elaborate inset lock and another bag. After an awkward greeting, Ervyn pays them their 25 gp due to them as the first part of their payment. Rhain and Lenoria then fall into line surrounding him and the merchant’s agent then calls up to the ship, announcing himself and that he has business with the captain. A half-elf peers over the ship’s deck and lowers a plank to allow them aboard.

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Once on board, they all can see that other passengers have arrived as well. One is an attractive woman with reddish-brown hair and a mole on her cheek. Another is a paunchy, well-dressed man with sideburns and a mustache. Another is a weather-worn man in his thirties with a longsword and leather armor and traveling clothes. Another is a blonde, matronly woman in fine clothes. As for the crew, they seem to be a hard-working efficient lot. Mostly human, but with a few half-elves and even a halfling among them.

The three are approached by a straight-backed woman accompanied by a barrel-shaped man. The woman introduces herself as Captain Tamsyn Yew and the man as her First Mate Branek Venton. “I’m given to understand from Master Skewes that you have security concerns you wish to discuss. Come to my cabin.” So the three follow Captain Yew and Master Venton to her cabin.

All settle into the cabin and the Captain gets down to business. “I understand you have a parcel that you wish to keep safe. And that these two must be your personal security. Is that correct?”

Grybbin simply nods.

“If you wish, I can keep the parcel in my care for the duration of the voyage.”

“That will be amenable, Captain.” As Grybbin passes the satchel over to the Captain, he adds. “I would not suggest anyone tamper with that lock, by the way.” This solicits a raised eyebrow and nothing more from Captain Yew.

With their business concluded, the three leave the Captain’s quarters and Grybbin says he’d like to go up on deck to see the ship pull out of the harbor. Lenoria takes the lead and Rhain follows Grybbin.

The rest of the passengers, with the exception of the weather-worn traveler, seem to have had the same idea as Grybbin. All are leaning against the guardrail and watching as the ship pulls away from the great harbor of Kalimsport, greatest port in the known world.

While Lenoria stays with Ervyn Grybbin, Rhain decides to chat up the attractive red-haired woman, who introduces herself as Meliora. The two share a few awkward words, where the woman reveals that she is visiting family in Jirra. Little more is said and Rhain makes his way back to the others. As the ship breaks away from the harbor into the open sea, the heavy-set fellow attempts to introduce himself to Grybbin, but Rhain inserts himself between the two. The man indicates that his name is Caswyn Pynwarden and that he is a man of business. He apparently owns an alchemist’s shop in Jirra and had been conducting business in Kalimsport, establishing connections with herbalists and such. The conversation is brief and decidedly awkward, as Caswyn attempts to talk around Rhain’s bulk. Eventually, Grybbin, Rhain, and Lenoria head down into the galley.

Rhain and Lenoria encourage Ervyn Grybbin to take the lead in conversations if he wishes, otherwise, they, as the bodyguards, are going to steer him away from people as potential threats. Grybbin says that he will try, revealing that he is relatively new to his position, though Skewes is trusting him more and more with new jobs. This will be the first auction he has actively participated in, though he is familiar with the process.

The weather-worn traveler comes down into the galley and gets a snack and props himself into a seat and begins to doze.

The blonde matronly woman comes downstairs and seats herself at the table. She addresses herself to Grybbin. " You work for that Talyk Skewes, don’t you? "

Grybbin asserts that he does.

“My name is Angelet Rosewall. I’m a weaver. I’ve been trying to get my designs into that rug market he’s cornered.”

Grybbin nods. “It is a tough market to enter these days. The competition is fierce.”

“Indeed,” Angelet says and leaves the galley in a huff.

Soon, Meliora comes down and grabs a bite to eat. She joins them quietly at the table where Rhain attempts awkward small talk once again, and then she leaves. Finally, Grybbin grows tired of staying in the galley and wants to go up on deck. “Let’s get some fresh air,” he says.

Once up on deck, Lenoria notices that Meliora is missing. While Rhain waits with Grybbin, Lenoria does a quick sweep of the deck. No Meliora. She then goes down and listens behind the door to Captain’s quarters. No noises there. She then goes down to the cargo hold.

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First Lenoria casts light upon her holy symbol and begins to search out the hold. As she begins to search, she hears the noise of movement. Suddenly she cries out in pain as blade penetrates her back! Lenoria turns and faces a petite short-haired blond woman wielding a short sword. The cleric yells “Assassin!” as she begins to engage her. However, the assassin proves to be too skilled and cuts Lenoria down.

Meanwhile, Rhain hears Lenoria‘s shout from below decks and grabs Grybbin, heading down into the hold. Once he gets into the hold, he sees Lenoria’s inert form bathed in light and blood. Going to investigate, he sees a shadow move. He strikes swiftly, attacking half-blindly with his axe, surprising his target. He grinds the assassin down with his axe, her body slumping into the light.

Rhain calls up for help, for the ship’s doctor. Some armed sailors come down to check out the shouting and say that they’ll get the Captain. Rhain curses them, says he needs the doctor, not the Captain. While the sailors go to fetch the officers, Rhain takes the opportunity to check and take the assassin’s belt pouch. It contains a vial, a supply of gold coins, and a set of tools. These he pockets. Soon the Captain and First Mate arrive, demanding an explanation of the situation. Rhain tells them what happened. The First Mate is apparently skilled at healing and goes to stabilize Lenoria’s wounds. He then assesses the assassin—she is alive, but barely. The assassin is then divested of her weapons and armor and taken to the bilge where she will be secured and guarded.

Rhain then asks if there is a place where Lenoria can be placed to rest. The Captain offers her quarters. He then asks for Caswyn Pynwarden to be sent there as soon as possible. Soon Rhain, Caswyn, and Grybbin all meet in the Captain’s quarters with Lenoria’s unconscious form resting on the bed. Rhain asks Caswyn to confirm that he is an alchemist and Caswyn corrects him that he owns an alchemist’s shop. He knows a thing or two about alchemy, but he has a staff that knows more. Rhain wants to know if he has something that can help Lenoria. Caswyn avows that he may have something in his cargo that may help. He seems a bit reluctant to fetch it until Grybbin assures him that he will be compensated for his trouble. He then goes to see what he can find.

While Caswyn looks for something to help Lenoria, Rhain gives Grybbin the vial he found on the assassin and asks if he knows what it is. Grybbin says that it must be a potion of some sort but knows nothing more. This seems to frustrate Rhain, but Grybbin says that potions are not his line. Soon Caswyn returns with a potion that he administers to Lenoria that revives her and mostly heals her wounds. Rhain has Caswyn appraise the assassin’s vial and he asserts that, while he can’t analyze it without equipment, he thinks that it is similar to what he just gave Lenoria. Grybbin pays the man five platinum pieces for his trouble and he leaves.

The three then go up on deck and talk to the Captain about the missing Meliora. The Captain sends some men to begin searching the ship for the missing woman. Meanwhile, Rhain goes into the galley and confronts the weather-worn traveler who never left the galley throughout the altercation with the assassin. The man simply shrugs it off and says that he likes to stay out of trouble.

The three wait on deck as the Captain’s men search the ship. Soon, they are presented with the what the men find—Meliora’s dress and a reddish-brown wig found down in the hold. They decide to go to the bilge to revive and question the assassin. The Captain allows it.

Lenoria uses the healing spells granted to her by her goddess, Imtiau, to revive the assassin. She is reluctant to talk at first, but Lenoria manages to intimidate her into spilling her secrets. She works for a man called Gerens Belyarrow. Grybbin confirms that this is one of Skewes’ rivals. The assassin was hired to take out Grybbin so that he could not complete his assignment. As far as she knew, Gerens has no agent at the auction. The group has no further questions for the assassin and leave.

Once outside the bilge, the Captain asks if they are satisfied. The response is not really, but that they got all the information they could out of the woman. The Captain indicates that the assassin will be turned over to the authorities in Jirra when they put into port. Rhain wonders why the Captain doesn’t just hang her while they’re out at sea, before they put into port. After a moment’s discussion, the Captain is convinced and has the First Mate make the arrangements for execution.

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As the ship is being guided into the port at Jirra, the Captain conducts the execution of the assassin, Meliora Trevarrow. Other ships watch on in interest as the woman is hung from one of the yardarms. The other passengers on board the The Remedy watch, mostly white-faced and in discomfort, with the exception of the weather-worn traveler, who takes it all in with detached indifference.

Finally, the ship puts into port at Jirra. As they disembark, the group is stopped by Caswyn Pynwarden, who offers to treat them all to dinner tonight. Grybbin accepts and arrangements are made to meet at six bells at the Viridian Chariot, a well-to-do inn where the group will be staying. Pynwarden is pleased and makes his way into the city. The group does the same.

The Viridian Chariot is a very fancy inn near the city’s center in Jirra, at the base of Charter Hill. Grybbin pays for a suite of rooms as well as for a change of clothes for Lenoria and Rhain, as theirs are blood-spattered and in need of mending. Baths are had as well and at six bells Caswyn Pynwarden comes calling. He suggests dining at a tavern called The Cat and Bear near the harbor and Grybbin seems amenable. A carriage is waiting so the group load up and head out.

The Cat and Bear is a well-to-do establishment in a well-lit neighborhood with a high militia presence. Well-heeled patrons wine and dine in the posh tavern. Pynwarden is a good host, suggesting food from the menu, engaging in convivial conversation, and ensuring that they all have a good time. However, long into the dinner, Lenoria notices that Caswyn has just slipped something into Grybbin‘s drink. She nonchalantly overturns the drink, making it look like an accident, and notes the look of annoyance on Caswyn’s face. She then hints at Grybbin that they need to go and, thankfully, he seems to take it and agrees. The three leave the tavern in a hurry, much to Pynwarden’s consternation. Rhain asks if Grybbin wants him to ask Pynwarden what it was he was up to—indicating that there are ways to make him talk. Grybbin says he just wants to get back to the Viridian Chariot.

Back at the inn, Lenoria searches the room for anything out of the ordinary and finds nothing. The three hole up for the night in Grybbin’s room, with Rhain and Lenoria sleeping on mattresses on the floor in front of the door and window.

6 Awakening 508

During the day, the three hang out in Grybbin’s suite, with Lenoria using her prayers to purify their food and water against contamination. They also make arrangements for a carriage to take them to the auction house at six bells. They decide that they will take all of their gear to the auction and not return to the Viridian Chariot for the night in order to throw any more potential assassins off the trail.

At six bells they meet the carriage down stairs and take it to the harbor district where the auction house is. The auction is going to take place in a small warehouse. Other carriages are parked outside. Some have coats of arms, others are public carriages such as what the group took. Grybbin pays the driver to wait on them to conduct their business.

After presenting his credentials at the door, Grybbin and the two bodyguards make their way inside. The small warehouse is tidy and neat. Seats have been laid out and small stage erected where the lots will be presented. Guests are milling about, waiting for the auction to begin. It looks like others have brought bodyguards as well. Grybbin takes a deep breath and introduces himself to a few people before settling into a seat near the center of the room. Rhain takes a seat beside him while Lenoria continues to roam about the room. Soon, the auction begins.
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Most of the lots are sculpture and pieces of art. These are high worth items and this is clearly and exclusive auction. Finally, the item Grybbin is waiting comes forward. The Symbol of Sanguine Protection. It is a silver holy symbol of a spear head. Bidding begins at 5000 gold pieces. At first there are several buyers, but soon this whittles down to three, then down to two—Grybbin and a middle-aged Southron man with a mustache. In the end, Grybbin gets the piece for 12,000 gold pieces. He seems pleased.

Later, all of the participants wait to be called into the warehouse’s office to settle their account. They wait to hear their lot number called. Finally, Grybbin’s number is called and the three go into the office. Grybbin removes a silver key from his pocket and unlocks the satchel, removing a stack of platinum coins and an assortment of expensive gemstones. After a long period of assessment by the auctioneer, the account is settled and Grybbin takes possession of the piece, locking it in his satchel. The three then head back to the carriage, escorting Grybbin.

They decide to take rooms in The Hare’s Meadhall, a comfortable inn there in the harbor district. They once again take a suite but Lenoria and Rhain sleep on mattresses on the floor of Grybbin’s room, on guard for trouble. The night passes without incident.

7 Awakening 508

The group boards The Remedy early in the morning. Captain Yew has taken no further passengers for the return to Kalimsport—no one has asked after the display in the harbor upon their arrival. The journey to Kalimsport is uneventful and a welcome respite from the excitement of the initial journey. They arrive at the port city at sundown and take a carriage to Talyk Skewes’ rug shop in the market district.

Skewes welcomes the adventurers and his agent, clearly pleased to see him and that his mission was successful. He gladly pays Lenoria and Rhain for a job well done. Rhain and Lenoria tell Skewes about the assassin and the possible further attempt by Caswyn. Skewes allows that he knows Gerens Belyarrow—that he is indeed one of his most hated rivals—but that he knows nothing of this Caswyn Pynwarden. The bidder at the auction is probably Kalib, an agent for one of his lesser rivals.

Skewes clearly wants to get back at Gerens for trying to thwart his ambitions and kill Grybbin. He indicates that his sources tell him that Gerens is seeking an object to place on the market. Would they (Lenoria and Rhain) be interested in finding out what that object is? The two demur, saying that their talents do not lie in spying. Skewes says very well, that he will keep them in mind for other work. He asks if they’re staying in Kalimsport. They say that they are, so he says that if he has work, he will find them. The two also negotiate the sale of the assassin’s lockpicks with businessman as well. As they go, Grybbin thanks them for saving his life.

After their business is concluded, the two decide to head back to the Dragon’s Flagon for a drink.

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