Part two of this week's Dungeons & Dragons session, find the first part here.
1pm, Eighth Day of Patchwall
Guards rush through the street. An upturned cart lies abandoned. Why is everyone so worked up about a severed head? Nobody got this excited when Larissa lost her head after that sorry business with the consul.
Twinkle Toes is standing uneasily by the crack den. He's looking at everyone who's passing us in the street, but I don't think it's because of what I've just set in motion. "Let's go chase down this other lead," I say.
We head around to the Lysium entrance. The street is full of scholars now, most are visibly shaken. Some are comforting colleagues who have lost their lunch. I walk up to the guards at the Lysium entrance. "Some crowd, eh? How did you go finding Melinna?"
"Couldn't find anyone by that name, but you're welcome to go inside and look around for yourself," the guard says.
"What's your name?"
"You da man, Hemon."
The guard puts down his now empty tankard and points at me. "No, you da man."
What a nice guy. Inside, there's a lady behind a desk. Seems like a good place to start.
"Hi, we're here to see Belinna about a quest. We've got this, er..." I pat down my pockets, trying to find the quest token.
Twinkle chimes in. "You left the token at the crack den."
Dammit, Veto won't be happy.
The clerk is just as lost as us, looking around her desk for something. "You said you were looking for Belinna?"
"That's right, she's had some book stolen and we want to help get it back," I reply.
This gets her attention. "Oh, did Veto send you? I put out a quest for someone to get back my spellbook. I'm Marinia."
Marinia? Oh, that's what the paper said!
"Right, Marinia! The quest notice was a little smudged, we couldn't read it properly," I explain, somewhat embarrassed.
"Ah, I understand. Now that's out of the way, let me explain the situation. Somebody has my spellbook, which means I am stuck doing this kind of work," gesturing to the papers strewn across the desk. "I uh, spent the night with somebody. He asked to see my spellbook, then said it would be good for his collection."
She seems hesitant to tell us who it is. "He didn't so much take it, he refused to give it back. Rothvell, he's a collector of sorts, he lives not too far from the Frozen Rose in one of the colourful houses."
"I know the place," Twinkle Toes says. "You can see the it from a mile away."
"We'll get your spellbook back, Marinia. You can count on us."
We stop by the Frozen Rose. I shed my cloak, washing off the worst of the blood and hanging it up to dry. Twinkle hides the strong box in our room.
Downstairs, Veto is signing some papers at his desk. "Hey Veto old buddy, you know how we can't finish quests without the little tokens you give us?"
From the way he puts down his quill, it's clear Veto is no stranger to this conversation.
I press on, not waiting for an answer. "We got swindled by some drug dealers who tried to kill us and they took our token. We made sure they won't hustle anyone else, but one ran off with it before we could catch him. Can we get another one?"
He looks up at us unimpressed. "Do you remember which number the token was?"
He crosses something off a ledger and pulls another token from a drawer. "It's a fee of 25 gold for losing a quest token. Make sure you don't lose this one."
The colourful houses are in a cheerful little quarter near the city wall. Rothvell has a sign on his letterbox with his name in large, cursive lettering. The house itself looks big enough to hold a dozen people comfortably.
We walk through an immaculate front garden, up a few steps to the front door. The doorbell rope hangs off to the side. Pulling it sets off a distant series of chimes.
A well-dressed servant politely answers the door. "Hello, we weren't expecting any guests today. Who are you?"
Putting on my best impression of a merchant I say, "That's right, Rothvell was not expecting us. However, I think he will enjoy the nature of our visit. He is a collector of rare and exotic goods, yes? Well we have something that might interest him."
The servant seems convinced. "Wait here a moment, I will see if my master will see you."
Rothvell's house could be mistaken for a museum. Rare artifacts sit on display at every turn, antique tapestries line the walls. The furniture seems carved from wood, though no tree in this land could yield such rich timber. The servant leads us upstairs, down ornate hallways, across a rooftop garden overlooking the street. He ushers us back inside, across another hallway and into a large room designed for these kinds of meetings. A colossal table dominates the room, we are directed to two plain chairs. Opposite us is a single seat upholstered with plush velvet and inlaid with gold leaf on intricate carvings. This is a chair better suited to King Hanin's throne room. It's clear Rothvell is a man of fine taste.
The servant leaves to fetch some tea. Twinkle decides to look around the house, I stay put. The far wall has two large windows that overlook the city wall and the forests beyond.
Twinkle sneaks back in, quickly followed by the servant holding a tea tray. "Rothvell will be just a minute, until then you can wait here."
I'm convinced, but Twinkle decides to follow the servant. I look at the pot of tea and wonder if it's laced with anything. Better to leave it.
Twinkle comes back having found nothing interesting. Rothvell follows soon after, servant in tow. He strains to move the oversized throne, pushing it into the table as Rothvell sinks into the luxurious fabric.
He looks at both of us with eyes filled with hunger. "Gentlemen, my servant tells me you have something I may be interested in."
It's incredible how easy it is to get inside some places. "On the contrary, it seems you have something that we are interested in. Something you have acquired rather unscrupulously. We are here on behalf of Marinia, whose spellbook you refuse to give back."
If Rothvell is surprised, he doesn't show it. "Ah, yes, Marinia. We had such a lovely evening, in exchange for her spellbook."
"You took her spellbook because she spent a night with you?"
"That's right. My time is a valuable commodity, something which you are wasting right now. Perhaps we could make a trade, I would be willing to part with the book for 500 gold."
Is he serious? "I don't think so. My partner and I have been tasked with recovering this book and we are certainly not paying for something you stole. Now, will you return this book freely, or do we have to take it by force?"
"Is that some kind of threat? I don't take kindly to threats." He gestures to the servant, who pulls the chair back, replacing it as Rothvell moves around the table.
This ends now. "I will ask you one last time. Give us the book, Rothvell."
He takes a dainty monacle from his breast pocket and studies us. "I see you have little of value on you, but I would be willing to part with Marinia's spellbook in exchange for that dagger of yours," gesturing to Twinkle.
Affronted, Twinkle tries to cast a spell and fails spectacularly. Rothvell narrows his eyes, storms out the door and locks it. "GUARDS," He yells, muffled by the thick ebony door.
The servant is still in the room. I grab his shoulders, shake him and yell, "where did Rothvell put this book?"
"I don't know! Master never tells us these things," he cries, shaken. "There's a library next door, it could be in there but I have no idea!"
I let go of the servant and he drops to the ground. We need a way out of this room first. I charge at the door, hoping it will give way. It doesn't budge, instead rattling my skull and leaving my head spinning.
"Look!" Twinkle exclaims behind me. "You've opened a crack in the wall, we should try breaking through here."
We both begin hacking at the tapestried wall, sending plaster and antique fabric flying. The servant tries to stop us from his position on the floor. "These tapestries are incredibly expensive, don't destroy them!"
Without turning around I say, "Your master should've thought of that before going about this the hard way."
After a minute we've made an opening big enough for us to squeeze through. The walls are lined with shelves holding hundreds of leather bound books. On the far wall is a glass cabinet holding a single spellbook.
"Go get the spellbook Twinkle, I'll guard the door."
Opening the door slightly, I hear the faint rumbling of men running somewhere in the house. Closer, I hear Twinkle swing his mace and hit the books next to the glass. "Stand aside, I'll take care of this." I start firing off arrows at the glass, shattering the cabinet on the second shot. This triggers a trap, sending blades slashing out of the bookshelf and slicing the arrow's shaft in two.
"Get the book Twinkle, and mind those blades!" I turn to the door, the clatter of armed men is getting louder. I hear a dull thunk as Twinkle triggers the blades again, seconds later he comes running past me holding the book on his shield now dented around the edges.
We run out into the hallway where three guards are running towards us. "Stop! We're just taking back what's rightfully ours!" This stops them for a couple seconds, all we need to make our escape.
As we run into the garden I hear the guards start moving again, their captain saying "no, they're thieves stealing our master's things, get them!"
There's a low wall at the edge of the garden. We jump over it, landing in the front yard facing the street. It's a one storey drop, so we hit the ground hard but we're free and clear. Crossbow bolts fired by the guards whistle past us, but we're already out of range before they can hit us.
We leg it back to the Frozen Rose. From our room's upstairs window we see the three guards running through the street, past the inn, still pursuing us.
Twinkle starts leafing through the book, checking out the spells. This mage is powerful beyond anyone I've ever seen, with high level spells like prismatic spray and reverse gravity among her incredible repertoire. She could become a powerful ally...
As we turn down the street where the Lysium is, I can tell something is wrong. The crowd has thinned a little, but the guards outside the tavern have doubled. I begin to pull the hood of my cloak up and in doing so I catch the eyes of a guard. He points and yells "That's him!"
I run, leaving Twinkle to return the book. This part of town is unfamiliar and busy with late afternoon crowds. I struggle to make any lead on the guards and they catch up with me in a small square filled with fruit stalls. Four guards pin me down as more arrive in the square. Manacles are placed around my wrists.
"I'm innocent, that guy was a drug dealer," I feebly protest.
Unmoved, one guard replies, "We'll figure this out tomorrow, you'll have your day in court."
Half dragged, half carried, I'm taken to the city jail where a surly clerk takes all my possessions and marches me into a dank cell.
The door clangs shut, a key turns in the lock, and I'm all alone. How will I get out of this mess?