At the Planar Church of Olympus, 15th day of the 7th Month, 5049 OC:
An old priest named Adelard has heard of place like the island, "Just a legend, a flat world said to have been the center of a powerful empire. Ruins supposedly dotted the planet, and it was dominated by gigantic lizard creatures. I suspect the Seekers would know more." Adelard smiles, "Discovering a such a sphere would be a great coup for a young priest of the Star Treader."
Raken's eyebrow arches a little at the mention of the empire. "Interesting. An empire would imply they likely had colonies on other worlds... exploring the ruins alone would be well worth the trip. Is there anything else the legend speak of? Who the natives were, their beliefs, why the empire fell, anything?"
"It is a very old legend, one which echoes in later poetry. The implication is that they were not human, but that is often assumed in ancient legends of this sort. I do recall they are mentioned in the 'Lyric of the Eternal Lotus', a holy epic of the thri-kreen. I don't know much else about it, however. It's been ten years since I read that." Adelard answers.
Concerning the assassination attempt on Ferric, 5th of the 7th Month, 5049 OC:
Looking about the docks, the watchers see people moving about their normal business, aside from a few who are staring at the odd goings-on on the NIGHT WIND. Of course, the bolt made little sound, so the attack wouldn't have been obvious elsewhere. From the angle of the shot, it must have come from upon the cliffs above the docks. Intense gazing up onto the heights reveals no one acting out of the ordinary, or even carrying a crossbow. It was a long shot, apparently, perhaps 150 yards. Vais has moved quickly over to Raken and Ferric, placing his metal body in between them and the direction of the bolt. He looks quickly at the yellow sap and says, "That's the sap of the yiki tree from Ginsel. It slows the heart until the victim dies, as well as burning like hell when first injected. It's a favourite poison on Ginsel assassins, because the antidote is difficult to concoct there. But here, we have access to herbs not found on Ginsel." Vais quickly lists three fairly common herbs, "brew those quickly into tea, and feed it to him. It should counteract the poison and bring him back around." Vais kneels next to Ferric. "I'll bring him below to his cabin."
Mage Guild, 5th day of the 7th Month, 5049 OC:
"Si Lung of Karatin? The man is dead! He was found with his throat slit in his room at the Red Door boarding house six months ago." the man shakes his head, "Perhaps this is the same assassin."
The Rat War, 5th day of the 7th Month, 5049 OC:
Those leaving the ship find that today, it's not business as usual on Bral. Though the streets are not deserted, they are less crowded then normal. Most of the information the halfling presented seems to be common knowledge: the streets are buzzing with talk of the guild wars which folks are already calling the 'Rat War'.
Apparently, thousands of rats swarmed through Shoutown last night, attacking businesses and anyone walking the streets. The Yakuza were almost powerless to stop them, and Yakuza thugs are noticeably absent from the streets today. Shoutown is like a ghost town, with only the occasional sound of hammering echoing through its streets while someone boards up as many entrances into their home as possible. Some folks worry that the rats will soon start attacking other areas of Lowtown. Mercenaries are seeing a brisk trade...
Meanwhile, the Halflings' Guild and Red Masks have fought a more traditional gang war, with street youths attempting to ransack all the Halfling protected shops in the Great Market, and mostly failing as Halfling hired guards slay them in the streets. The Red Masks have also hired the Blackfoot clan of Anadian halflings and turned them loose against Bral's native halflings. These dark-skinned halflings have taken to the rooftops around the Burrows, sniping at any halflings or halfling allies they see with their arquebuses.
The seeming coordination between the rats (whom many say must be led by wererats) and the Red Masks has caused endless speculation. Some claim the Red Masks have hired the rats much like the hired the Blackfoot clan, others that the Red Masks are wererats and that the groups work as one because they are one. Still others hint that a wererat is the mysterious Underbaron of the Underdark, and that this powerful figure has decided to sweep the other Underbarons away, and establish his iron hold over all the criminal activity in the city.
Regardless of cause, most of the city is unaffected by the Rat War so far, the Upper City and more prosperous areas of the Middle City (like the temple district) especially are untouched. Approaching, it's clear that House Moune was one of the businesses target by the street scum working for the Masks the night before. Several bloodstains dot the cobblestones before the building, and the front door is chipped around the lock, as if someone tried to pry their way in with a crowbar. The guard grimaces, "We know not. They are a pox upon the city, though, and may they soon be cleansed from it. The Red Masks have long been the most vicious vipers in this nest of thieves and scoundrels; it appears they have found allies to suit their nature. But, until the rights and wrongs can be sorted, the High Priest has ordered us to wait." He leans over and says quietly, "Though those faithful to Tyr shall have extra guards on their homes this night in the Low City."
After the rat attack, 4th day of the 7th Month, 5049 OC:
Jax nods and it becomes apparent he's quite shaken. "There is open fighting in the market area. I can also hear cries from Shou Town and the firing of smoke powder weapons from other areas. The city has surely gone mad this night. Perhaps we should leave as soon as possible and return when things have been sorted out." The last seems more of a plea than a suggestion. Plus: Ferric, Elmarelena, and Freneth report that only two other vessels on the docks were attacked, a galleon and a tradesman owned by House Murawa. Otherwise the docks are relatively quiet. Plus: "The Red Masks are attacking the Burrows and any shops in the Middle City protected by the Halflings." Billy tells the others, "They let loose street urchin on the stalls of halflings and halfling friends in the Greater Market." Billy's face darkens, "But the worst thing is, they've hired halfling barbarians to join in the attack!" Billy spits in disgust, "The Blackfoot Clan from Anadia. They're the ones firing on anyone with halflings around the Burrows."
During their date on the 4th of the 7th, 5049 OC:
Elrohir hands her a glass of white wine from the bar. "So, has Herminard made his move yet? I doubt if he is here for me, he knows well I am out of his league. I assume the Shipwreckers' must have sent him after your band. I understand your band had some encounters with the Shipwreckers before this last altercation."
Leera sits up and pays close attention. "It sounds like you're describing an assassin! And you think he's after us? Why didn't you say something earlier?"
Elrohir looks startled, "Haven't you kept a watch on incoming vessels? The REBUTTAL, she docked the day after I arrived. She was at the Barre during our escapades. A wasp ship. I mentioned her and her captain to Holland and others of your party while we observed the Barre those first few hours."
Elrohir shakes his head, "You did expect some sort of pursuit, yes? Herminard has a reputation as an assassin of some repute. We have played cards before, and once stalked the same mark, though for different purposes. He failed that contest badly. He has two concubines, a wizardess and a half-orc priestess, who helm his vessel for him, though he has some minor skills in magic himself."
On the 21st day of the 6th Month, 5049 OC looking down on the Barre Sinister:
Elrohir smiles, and begins pointing vessels out. "That black hammership is the RAMPAGE captained by a man named Cain. The most successful pirate in this sphere, as his ship should show. Few pirates can afford hammerships. The white squidship is the SPECTRAL HAND of Tomigan Rex. You might have heard of him as the Ivory Knight. His presence is a surprise. He used to haunt Realmspace. The great galley is the NIGHT PROLWER. She's a vessel of the Shipwrecker Fellows. They are a loose confederation of the smaller pirate gangs, those flying wasps and eelships and such. Their leader is a mage named Dred. He'll be aboard the PROWLER, the eelship is the TEMPEST," Elrohir glances again at Holland, "Which apparently some of you already knew. Another wizard, Laocoon, captains her. TEMPEST is also one of the Shipwrecker's Fellows, but Laocoon has aspirations to take Dred's place, according to the rumours. The wasp is the REBUTTAL, captained by a man named Herminard. Herminard is an assassin, supposedly, though I doubt he's first class."
Elrohir glances at the minotaur. "The second hammership I don't know, but she flies the colours of the Tauran Empire, and her crew are in the uniform of the Imperial Tauran Navy."
Laocoon and the Shipwrecker Fellows
"Sabbagh has questioned the prisoners, several were willing to
cooperate provided we request they not suffer the standard penalty
for piracy on Bral, jettisoning. They revealed that the other
eelship was the Tempest, under Captain Laocoon. He was apparently
the commodore" Wilhelmina glances at Italapate, "of this little
pirate band, and a wizard of some power. None of them, including
the half-orc captain, knew if the attack on the Flowfish was
planned or simply opportunistic. Apparently Laocoon is not the
sharing type. He is an older human male with an
unkempt white beard and one milky white eye, the other eye is a brilliant blue. They often frequented the less reputable ports of this sphere, the Barre Sinister for one."
"Well, since its conceivable that Laocoon may come looking for his ship, you needed to hear that." the Captain gestures towards the Flowfish, whose crew have already cast off from the wharf as she slowly eases back and up, away from Finagle. "It's six days from here to the Rock. try to get me there in one piece." She then moves to the forecastle, and leans against the ballista so she can observe the cast off.
Talus speaks up, "I agree with Holland there. A ship traveling empty makes no profit." The young half-elf continues, "I did not have any luck finding leads for work either. I did find out some information about Laocoon. He has something of a reputation here. He is a member of the Shipwrecker's Fellows, a loose pirate brotherhood with a secret base somewhere on that planet in Bralspace. The Captain's Council of Bral has placed a 5,bounty on his head, dead or alive. So keep that in mind people, his body is worth 5,000gp to us if we catch him. If we are really lucky Laocoon is also involved in the Chalice that could get us 12,000gp." Talus looks somber for a minute, "Or dead for that matter. Laocoon is probably a bit unhappy about us taking one of his ships."
The Shipwrecker's Fellows are a loose federation of perhaps ten pirate vessels that dock at a port they maintain jointly somewhere on Shipwrecker. They rarely operate together, the extent of cooperation seems to be that they don't fight each other and pay to keep the port facilities up. Most of these ships stay within Bralspace, raiding the trade routes near Bral or Shipwrecker. Known captains include Laocoon (who used to command two eelships), Milken (who commands a Great Galley), and Lazzer (who commands a Lamprey). In many ways this reminds me of a much smaller version of the Pirates of the Sea of Fallen Stars on Toril." Talus pauses as he receives several blank looks and moves on, "Many feel that if someone in the group did get the Chalice, a lot of infighting will occur as others try to take it; so the captain that got it is likely to keep it secret from his fellows."
Talus spends several days getting to know the underbelly of Bral. He returns to the ship early in the morning and heads back out into the city after lunch. The third night the ship is in port, Talus remains in the ship. Sitting down with the rest of the company at dinner he announces, "I have learnt a lot about various power groups in the city over the past few days." The half-elf then proceeds to relate the information he has learnt.
An organization of slavers, they are currently banned from Bral (where slavery is technically illegal). They are generally suspected to operate behind the scenes, however, and many known Chainmen vessels have been known to dock at Bral for resupplying. Lady Moune is a great foe of slavers and during her adventuring career she clashed with them many times. Chainmen vessels fly a flag with a pair of shackles displayed as their colours, and the Chainmen are known to operate one or more asteroid bases within the sphere. Some suspect the Chainmen are a front and money making arm of the Tenth Pit.
No one is exactly certain what the Tenth Pit is. Most agree it is an evil organization bent on conquering the Known Spheres. Why it wishes to do this, or how are open to question. The organization is suspected to have agents placed within many local governments. Many suspect that Bral is a center of Tenth Pit activity. Lady Moune is a foe of all such groups.
Lord Diadan Cartan and House Cartan:
House Cartan is one of the noble houses of Bral. The House fortunes were once based off the importation of food from the larger worlds, but Lady Moune's farming asteroids nearly drove the House to ruin. When Lord Diadan (then a younger son of the Lord) returned from a career in "property redistribution" the House was on the verge of selling its land on the Rock, and losing its noble status. Diadan reinvigorated the House with his wealth, and when his father died a few months later Diadan was revealed as his heir. The other sons haven't been seen on the rock since, and many suspect the "trips" they went on were of the fatal sort. House Cartan's current business is difficult to pinpoint; though it is obviously one of the richest Houses on Bral now. The only obvious House business is in money lending and speculation, though Lord Cartan does seem to own a handful of spelljammers. Lady Moune and Lord Cartan passionately hate each other, for reasons that seem to go deeper then House Moune's destruction of the food market and the near bankruptcy of House Cartan.
Today, Lord Cartan is the chief noble adviser of Prince Andru (though he holds no specific title) and his Houses resources dwarf those of the Merchant House Moune. Like most of the noble houses Lord Diadan supports a number of bravos who swagger about the city in House Cartan colours looking out for the interests of their noble patron. These young swords use rapiers and main-gauche by preference, and consider dueling an art form. While House Cartan's bravos may not be the most numerous (that honor belongs to House Kullek) they are the most aggressive and cruel of those walking the streets of Bral. Even the Thieves' Guilds' toughs leave them a wide berth.
Lord Diadan Cartan is a handsome, elegant man with long black hair, a closely trimmed beard, and a rogue's charming smile. He is always dressed at the height of fashion, and favors sabre and main-gauche. Lord Cartan has a reputation as the most dangerous duelist on Bral, though he has not been challenged in many years.
This noble house is composed almost entirely of half-elves. Swashbuckling and fun loving, these half-elven nobles sponsor many adventuring bands and artists. Their parties are renowned even in a city as jaded as Bral. The wealth of House Mosantas is based off the booty of their pirate forefather, one of Captain Bral's original crew. They often oppose House Cartan and duels between these two Houses are not uncommon. The House is a strong supporter of the Pragmatic Order of Thought. In fact the heir of the Lord Mosantas, Tareo, is the leader of the Bralian chapter of the PoTs.
Lord Mosantas was one of Lady Moune's adventuring companions and paramours. Though their romance died long ago they remain close friends.
Pragmatic Order of Thought (PoT): This multi-spheric organization is dedicated to increasing individual liberties and freedoms. PoT members oppose slavery bitterly, and fight against the many slavers (be the human, neogi, or worse) of wildspace. Though Bral technically does not permit slavery the law is widely believed to be somewhat porous. The PoTs run a series of safe houses on Bral for escaped slaves, and use Bral as a nexus point for getting groundling slaves back to their homes.
Several priesthoods on Bral support their efforts, especially the Celestians. PoTs are often considered heroes by the common folk of the city. The PoTs local leader, Tareo Mosantas, has suffered several assassination attempts.
The Pantheon of the Olympians:
The priesthood's of two of the deities worshipped at this temple complex (Hermes and Demeter) are very friendly to Lady Moune, who tithes to both of these churches and maintains shrines to Demeter on her farming asteroids.
The Halflings Guild:
This thieves' guild is slightly misnamed, as it is open to thieves from any diminutive race (for example, gnomes, pixies, kender, etc). Halflings do dominate the guild, however, and guild traditions seem to favour them. This guild controls much of the Middle City, where they extract an "insurance" payment from most of the businesses. Their payments are never exorbitant, however, and if a non-halfling thief robs from a store protected by the halflings mark, the shopkeeper's goods will be returned, or an equivalent amount of coin. The guild also has a hand in common burglary, robbing visitors new to the city of small amounts of coin.
This small, aggressive thieves' guild is trying to carve out a niche for itself in the Greater Market. Their symbol is a red veil. They are burglars, pickpockets, and cutpurses, and do not respect guild boundaries. They've already fought one short guild war with the halflings, and it's believed they will try again. They also fight against the Juggler's Men. This guild has the most to gain and the least to lose, and is a constant danger to the stability of Bral's underworld.
This guild is actually a branch of the Kuo-tan; a secret society dedicated to supporting the Shou Emperor. This branch calls itself Yakuza, a term more properly applied to Waan or Kozakuran criminal groups, those in the know say this is simply to cover its tracks. They practice extortion and racketeering. The Shou and Halflings have often clashed in the past, but before the coming of the Red Masks both groups had reached a détente. Now, tensions mount again as the Halflings' worry the Yakuza will use the Red Masks as a distraction so they can claim more territory.
The Jugglers' Men:
Run by the Juggler, the mysterious Underbaron of the High City, this group is composed of swindlers and con artists. They control the Greater Market and High City, but have little contact with the Halflings' Guild. Of the four guilds, this is the one most similar to the Halflings' in style. The Juggler's men are fighting the Red Masks for control of the Greater Market, but the Juggler reportedly doesn't care about the market enough to make the war a priority.
Other interesting tidbits:
The Pantheon of the Olympians (#68, SJR5 calls this the Planar Church of Olympus), a temple dedicated to a fairly widespread pantheon of deities, has announced that it plans to host a festival of games in the Arena of Frun. These games will be dedicated to the deities of the temple but are open to all. The festival will begin on the 1st of the 5th and will last 2 weeks. Those interested in competing (fencing, footraces, poetry contests and other events are expected) should contact that temple.
The latest fad at Lord Hastain the Reigar's villa is painting elaborate designs on your body the diving into Lake Bral with acrobatic skill.
The Royal Theatrical Company is alternating nightly showings of The Fallen and Starward Sail. Merethian, the half-elven actor playing the lead role in The Fallen is considered breathtakingly handsome. His recent dinner with the still beautiful Princess Ellana Calar (the wife of the deceased Prince Frun, brother of Prince Andru (who took the throne upon Frun' death)) is the current scandal of the city.
Several thieves guilds seem to control different aspects of the city. "Underbarons" are apparently leaders of the more powerful of these guilds, and they are a part of the city's acknowledged power structure. A young guild, the Red Masks, has recently escalated its conflict over control of the Greater Market by murdering a halfling thief, he was left hanging from a noose in a back alley near the market. The escalating war is the subject of much whispered conversation in the city's taverns.
Vergedain's Hammer, a hammership owned and operated by the Smith's Coster pulled into Bral yesterday showing a great deal of damage. They were traveling from Greyspace to Bral with a cargo of smokepowder, wheellocks, and shortswords. Soon after entering Bralspace they were attacked by a Monarch-class Armada. The 'HAMMER suffered moderate damage, but was able to lose its attacker in a small asteroid field nearby. Doin Fireaxe, captain of the Hammer, has said the attacking vessel was crewed by elves or humans, judging from their size.
The Elves take your names and mention they "might" get back to you later. The Smith's Coster offices are closed for the day, the staff attending the funerals of those lost in the attack on the Hammer. The Captain's Council office have many job offers listed on the board, but most involve long trips for little profit, or require a larger vessel. A sign does mention that those wishing Bralian Letters of Marque against pirates in the sphere should present themselves to Bianca Micharle, Secretary and Royal Representative to the Council of Captains on the 1st, 5th, 15th, 20th, or 25th day of each month with their ship's papers and the 1,000 gp fee.
A crowd of shipping agents outside the Council of Captains (#66) is in an uproar. Bianca Micharle today has announced a crackdown on smuggling, and backed this up with the creation of a small fleet of Bureau of Customs' vessels (6 wreckships, each armed with a medium ballistae). Under her new system no vessel will be able to dock on Bral without undergoing an inspection by a Customs' vessel first. Some openly speculate that the new crackdown is merely to give the Custom's agents more opportunities to receive bribes.
The simmering II Unhuman War might be rekindling here in Bralspace. Tongues are wagging because both Valkan, the leader of Valkan's Legion, a famous merc company, and Celestia Silverfist, leader of the War-Drake privateering fleet, have been seen entering the Elven Forest. Others hint this has nothing to do with the war, but that instead the two are engaged n a romance.
5th day of the 7th Month, 5049 OC:
Jax clears his throat, "I found out something about the Shipwreckers. Apparently they sell their captives as slaves to the Chainmen on an asteroid called Iceberg. I guess if they've got no other use for him they might sell him there or someone there might know more." Jax frowns. "I'm sorry it's not much, especially for 15 full moons."
Italapate looks coldly at Jax, setting eyes on him for the first time. He cocks his head, and then walks up to the man. Finally, he nods, and then looks back at the group. "I know of Iceberg. When my family hosted a safe house for runaway slaves, the slaves would talk about this horrible place. It's an asteroid, and it resembles its name precisely, nothing but a chunk of ice, carved intricately with a maze of tunnels and caves. I don't know where it is. I never really paid that much attention to my parents work. And I doubt the Chainmen would pick a place that shows on anyone else's charts either.... but I know how to work back up the Secret Pathway, and I'm sure I can find a PoT that knows."
The halfling continues, "Now, this Milken, his crew is sort of interesting." He looks at Billy, "He works with two of our former associates who've gone rogue. One, Atr, is a halfling mindbender, a psionicist. He was suspected of cheating his fellows with his mind powers and forced out. The other is Sean Uac, a gnomish witch kicked off Ironpiece for unnatural magical experimentation. She's worked with several groups on Bral, selling poisons and potions. Both joined with Milken a few years back."
Allagan says, "How many of the barbarian halflings are there?"
Bosil shrugs, "Perhaps fifty."
Allagan says, "Who was behind the rat attack on the docks and parts of Bral?"
"Wererats." Bosil answers.
Allagan says, "How many Red Masks are there still on Bral?"
"Twenty." Bosil says.
Allagan says, "What was discussed between you and Herminard just recently?"
"He wanted an attack on this vessel, I introduced him to a wererat friend whose services he hired." Bosil answers.
Allagan says, "Who was the wererat? How do we find him?"
"Toltos. He used to stop by the Twisted Thumb every few days." Bosil says.
Allagan says, "Describe him so if we see him we will recognize him."
"He stinks like a sewer, has a pock marked face, and stringy brown hair. His clothes are usually old and dirty, and he carries a shortsword." Bosil answers.
Allagan says, "What are some of the names and covers of other leading members of the Red Masks? Or at least your contemporaries?"
"Gwardolith, he lives in the Mauve Mansion boarding house in the Middle City, his cover is that he's a gambler. He's my contact with the High Council. You saw him at the Thumb, did he get away?" Bosil answers.
Talus looks puzzled, "Lead us where?" Before a greedy grin alights on his face, "And how much coin are you talking about?" the young thief asks.
"Fifty thousand gold lions. In a cellar in Midtown." Bosil answers.
Talus's eyes widen at that, he murmurs in a voice of awe, "Fifty thousand" before shaking his head at the dwarf, "That sounds nice, but I don't doubt it will be a trap." The half-elf steps back and watches Bosil with a frown.
"No trap." Bosil says, "I need you folks on my side. No matter what, the Masks'll gut me now. They'll see me as a traitor because I was captured. It's not a forgiving sort of guild. So, it's be killed by you, or be killed by the Masks. Unless I can convince you to let me go, then maybe I can get off the Rock before the Masks can find me. Start up new somewhere else. Maybe Refuge."
Allagan says, "50,000 gold is a lot; whose gold is it? Who will be guarding it?"
"It's mine, saved from my pay. Only traps guard it, but you'll need me to get through them." Bosil answers.
Dru looks over the group watching him, shifting his weight to drape his arm over Pate's shoulder. He says, "Why didn't you tell me the Captain of your vessel was the one missing?" Dru pulls Pate towards the table and says "Find me the charts, I'll have a course laid out to you in ten minutes." Dru turns his attention to Allagan and says "I've mapped my way to that hellish ice chunk for seven decades. And I've done it in worse shape that this. I'll get you there. If you agree to ask one favour of your Captain."
Elrohir's info on Holland, 5th day of the 7th Month, 5049 OC:
Italapate begins "Okay, so there I was, sitting on the floor of Jase Foxfire's tepee, overlooking the great expanse of Bral's Sovereign Airspace, when Nihuant'ooah tells me I have a visitor. Much to my surprise, it's Elrohir, and he says he has a message for me to relay to the Company. It appears that our ever-beautiful and bewitching enchantress, Leera, asked him to look into Holland's kidnapping, and can I just interject here, "HUNH?"; I'm gone for three days and you go and lose the captain? By Coyote's Smelly Butt, you can't get along without me can you?" He grins, and then continues. "Okay, so after he drops that bombshell like he's talking about which courtier caught which noble's eye, he tells me what he dug up, and asks me to tell you. So, I'm telling you. Some Herman-guy and some of his crew returned to their vessel last night at about 9 bells with a huge, rolled up rug. Perfect for covering dirty floors, nasty stains, or hiding wayward Captains. They took off right afterwards, and left a destination of Hobert's Hold with Port Authority, but ole El thinks that's a smokescreen. El thinks he's going to Shipwrecker (and you know that's _my_ all time favourite vacation spot) cause the guy is probably working for the Shipwrecker Fellows. Elrohir thinks they still have a secret hiding place on Shipwrecker cause they were so struck by the coincidence that the planet and their group had the same name. They figured it was a natural. Here's the thing: they probably plan to sell Holland into slavery, and we can't let that happen. That's all he could find, and suggests we use magic to get more info." <snip "That sounds familiar.... Bosil... Oh, I think Elrohir mentioned it. I was so focused on what he had to say about Holland, I disregarded this tale of a yellow-clad dwarf. It appears that Hermy was seen two days ago at the -Twisted Thumb- speaking with this Bosil, who is an 'hassassin' himself with the Masks, and some other guy El's connections didn't recognize. They sealed some kind of deal, and then went their ways. If Bosil is an assassin himself, perhaps your assignment isn't so bad after all. But, I would hasten to suggest that perhaps, we should -speak- to this Bosil, halflings be damned (no offence, Billy), as he may have some knowledge of our misplaced Captain if Hermy was chatting with him."
Harbourmaster's Office, 5th day of the 7th Month, 5049 OC:
"Departure time and destination for the REBUTTAL, yes?"
"Ah... here it is. She left at 9 and a half bells last night, Hobart's Hold is listed as the destination." the clerk says. He walks over to the table. "Hobart's Hold is an asteroid freehold near the Giff."
The Job Offer, 5th day of the 7th Month, 5049 OC:
"Okay, the job is simple. The Red Masks still use the Twisted Thumb as a place to meet with their hirelings. One of their assassins, a dwarf named Bosil, hired on the Blackfoot Clan in order to confuse our hirelings and fight halflings with halflings." The non-descript halfling spits, "He'll meet with them there early tonight to organize their attacks on the Burrows. Just go to the tavern around 6 bells this eve and disrupt their meeting. Kill Bosil, if you can, and any other Red Masks you find there. He's not likely to be alone. If you can eliminate any of the Blackfoots, that would be good as well. The most important thing is to prevent the Blackfoot leaders from speaking with Bosil and getting their assignments. We need to separate these groups, keep them off balanced like they did us last night."
He concludes, "We'll know when the job is done, and I or an associate will deliver the payment and any information we can dig up on your missing friend back here." snip< "He has grey eyes, auburn hair and beard. He favours the colour yellow, and carries a shortsword. A brown-green lizard man named Reodry often accompanies him. But there won't be any innocent bystanders in the Twisted Thumb tonight. Just Red Masks and their hirelings." the halfling answers.
After Kain & Holland mindspeak, 5th day of the 7th Month, 5049 OC:
"Holland's been kidnapped, by a number of spell casters," Kain says as he wrings his hands together. "Last evening, when he was on his way to the... ahh... Red Door to meet a mage. He gave me a description of two of them, and that's what I've been working on," the young man says as he passes a hand over his sketching. "He's on a... ahh... 'jammer. And fairly far away, I had a very difficult time ranging his mind," Kain finishes quietly.
Kain passes Ferric his first drawing, of a female half-orc with long dirty blond hair and a dark-skinned human male wearing a head-dress that left his skull uncovered but held a red gem above the bridge of his nose. "That's... ah... how Holland described them to me," Kain explained. "The dirty blond hair and headdress seemed most... ah... prominent to me," he shrugged.
Taking the drawing back from Ferric, Kain bends over the tabletop again, sketching the pair again, before stopping and looking around again. "A couple more issues from my discussion with Holland, Magister Si Lung of Karatin was the magi he was to meet at the Red Door. And he also wished me to ask Deigatt about Milken, and to read his logbook, neither of which... ahhh... I have done. So Deigatt, what have you to say of Milken?" Kain calls up the stairwell before turning to his sketching again.
Here's Dhebun's information from when he was a prisoner of Milken's:
In 3/5049 by the SJ calendar Dhebun hitched a ride on the eelship BROWNSNAKE, a free trader that occasionally stopped secretly at Mahl-zir to trade with the petty-dwarves. The trader was scheduled to continue its route to Shipwrecker, and then back to Bral but was instead captured by the pirate galley NIGHT PROWLER. The pirates landed on Shipwrecker, where the eelship was quickly refitted and left again to be fenced. The galley remained, and where the crew of the BROWNSNAKE left with their vessel, likely to be sold into slavery, Dhebun's cooking skills had earned him slavery of a different sort, as cook aboard the NIGHT PROWLER.
Not long after the eelship had left, a battle of some sort occurred. Dhebun was locked in the galley the whole time, but he heard the sounds of the battle. When it ended the captain was in a foul mood, and the ship had suddenly flown back up into Wildspace:
This was about a month ago, since then the ship returned once to Shipwrecker, landing in a calm ocean bay surrounded by forest. Several other vessels (a lamprey, an eelship, and two wasps) were there. After a day the eelship and the NIGHT PROWLER sailed back into the sky, and came to Barre Sinister. While at the bay a dark haired man with a nondescript face came aboard and took the guest cabin.
Ship's Complement: Captain: Milken [human male pirate] - Perhaps 35 yrs old, short [5'5], black Hair, yellow eyes -Seems cruel, not especially well liked by the crew but seems to have some sort of power which they fear. Usually wears a broad sword, and keeps a short bow and quiver nearby.
1st Mate: Sean Uac [gnome female wizard] -An gnomish woman, gnarled, with limp blond hair and white eyes. She radiates power and unease, and mumbles to herself at times. Often comes into the galley to brew potions and poisons, or it seems that's what she's doing.
2nd Mate: Atr [halfling male wizard] -he looks like a typical halfling with light brown hair and grey eyes, but he dresses like a wizard, carries a staff, and has an air of power. The crew fears him as well.
Helmsmen: Oquid [human female wizard] and Oit [human male wizard] -teenage apprentice wizards barely better then slaves themselves.
Talus did some info gathering on Shipwrecker, 1st day of the 5th Month, 5049 OC:
Heading over to where his comrades congregate, Talus says "I had a chat with some of the locals and found out a few bits of news, including the fact that the Church of Ptah has an ongoing rivalry with the Shipwrecker shrine. The Shipwrecker's Fellows are basically a loose federation of perhaps ten pirate vessels that dock at a port they maintain jointly somewhere on Shipwrecker. They rarely operate together, the extent of cooperation seems to be that they don't fight each other and pay to keep the port facilities up. Most of these ships stay within Bralspace, raiding the trade routes near Bral or Shipwrecker. Known captains include Laocoon (who used to command two eelships), Milken (who commands a Great Galley), and Lazzer (who commands a Lamprey). In many ways this reminds me of a much smaller version of the Pirates of the Sea of Fallen Stars on Toril." Talus pauses as he receives several blank looks and moves on, "Many feel that if someone in the group _did_ get the Chalice, a lot of infighting will occur as others try to take it; so the captain that got it is likely to keep it secret from his fellows."
Holland says, "You said one of these captains is named Milken?" in a forceful yet quiet voice.
"Yes." Talus answers in a puzzled voice as he looks at the suddenly tense Holland, then the half-elf continues, "I also learned a little about the two ships on the landing field at Wrighters, the yellow Dragonfly is "The Resplendent", and is owned and operated by the "Gallants", an adventuring party from Greyspace. The black wasp is "The Rebuttal", it's owned and captained by a man called Herminard the Eloquent. These are not known pirate ships but seem to be vessels hunting for the Chalice."
Asking the Temple of Ptah on Shipwrecker about the Chalice, 30th day of the 4th Month, 5049 OC:
Piet smiles, "Ptah thanks your for your generosity." Taking the coin he slides it into an offering box and hands over the drawing, sighs, and says "It's well known that the Shipwrecker's Fellows keep spies in town, considering the groups name I wouldn't be surprised if those spies lived in Shipwrecker's Shrine (#16)." With that, Piet ushers the ladies out.
Asking about the Mage Guild on Shipwrecker about the Chalice, 30th day of the 4th Month, 5049 OC:
Grype frowns and says, "You are the second group to come by and ask me that. I can tell you what I told them; which is basically nothing," Holland nods his head, indicating for Grype to continue, "Well, I have heard that the Shipwrecker's Fellows, our own little band of pirates, had something to do with it. The 'Fellows supposedly have a base somewhere here on Shipwrecker. They have not interfered with Guild business so we haven't really bothered ourselves with them."
Grype furrows his eyebrows and says, "Oh, I have heard that the 'Fellows are in league with the goblin tribes in the mountains here on Shipwrecker, and that the 'Fellows are mostly goblins themselves. Also there has been some activity lately of goblin attacks on prospectors, maybe the two are related, maybe not."
Nilaroo and Jamila speak with House Moune, 17th of the 4th Month, 5049 OC:
Standish frowns, "I'm afraid my experience with street wars is very limited. But, I can assure you that turning these Red Masks over to the magistrate would be very dangerous. Without direct evidence he would likely charge you with assault and release them. Especially as the Halfling's guild would undoubtedly fail to come forward. Best to keep the magistrate out of these sorts of affairs, that is the Bralian custom." Standish smiles, "I suppose you have at least chosen the stronger side. The Halflings' leader is known to be one of the city's Underbarons, while the Red Masks are a new group, barely above gang status."
The First Job, at the Broken Tankard, 17th day of the 4th Month, 5049 OC:
Billy Continues "...It would be a shame, though. The murderer goes by the name of Gantius. He and his seven goons assaulted an innocent halfling, bound him and," <sob, " skinned him alive... 50 gp a pop. 100 for Gantius dead. 300 for him alive." <snip questions Billy seems to take some comfort from his friends. Seeing that he will have help confronting Gantius, his anger and tension seem to flow out from him. In a quite voice, he tells you what he knows. "Gantius can usually be found at a dive called the Twisted Thumb. You know? Where Wasp street opens onto the Great Market (#54)." Billy turns to Talus, "Anyways. Gantius is a member of the Red Masks, a murderous thieves' guild vying for control of the Rock." He now turns to Deigatt. "I guess those cowards thought to take out the 'toughest' competition first, namely the oh-so-dangerous, big and nasty halflings." <snip Talus looks troubled, "I heard quite a bit about the Red Masks yesterday. More than just thieves, they accomplish their tasks by extortion and murder. Just the sort of thing I hated at home."
In the Broken Tankard tavern, 16th day of the 4th Month, 5049 OC:
Talus speaks up, "I agree with Holland there. A ship traveling empty makes no profit." The young half-elf continues, "I did not have any luck finding leads for work either. I did find out some information about Laocoon. He has something of a reputation here. He is a member of the Shipwrecker's Fellows, a loose pirate brotherhood with a secret base somewhere on that planet in Bralspace. The Captain's Council of Bral has placed a 5,000 gp bounty on his head, dead or alive. So keep that in mind people, his body is worth 5,000gp to us if we catch him. If we are really lucky Laocoon is also involved in the Chalice that could get us 12,000gp." Talus looks somber for a minute, "Or dead for that matter. Laocoon is probably a bit unhappy about us taking one of his ships."
On the House Moune asteroid Finagle, 9th day of the 4th Month, 5049 OC:
"Sabbagh has questioned the prisoners, several were willing to cooperate provided we request they not suffer the standard penalty for piracy on Bral, jettisoning. They revealed that the other eelship was the TEMPEST, under Captain Laocoon. He was apparently the commodore" Wilhelmina glances at Italapate, "of this little pirate band, and a wizard of some power. None of them, including the half-orc captain, knew if the attack on the FLOWFISH was planned or simply opportunistic. Apparently Laocoon is not the sharing type. He is an older human male with an unkempt white beard and one milky white eye. The other eye is a brilliant blue. They often frequented the less reputable ports of this sphere, the Barre Sinister for one."