Sunday, 18 December 2011

A Tale of Two Emilys

Hunting a prince whilst nursing a mammoth hangover is no easy task. An early tactic of knocking on doors and asking if "anyone has seen a boy that looks like the prince" is quickly abandoned for discretion's sake. By the docks, the party are accosted by some mean-looking gangsters that turn out to be henchmen of Vitor Gambarini - the Queen's cousin and notorious gangland boss. Vitor has heard that his nephew is in town, and is keen to have him over for dinner. The party make some excuses about security and melt away into the evening rain.

Thelonius tries getting help from Mr. Noriega, who for some reason considers him persona non grata. Squid find her missing stiletto embedded in the head of a corpse lying the gutter in the Temple District.

After hours of fruitless searching, Chops declares that their task is futile and decides that their time would be best spent in contemplation and trying to use intelligence-led techniques to track down the missing royal. To this end, he herds the whole party into a nearby curry house and settles down for a four-hour meal in the warm embrace of comfortable cushions and the aroma of spices and vindaloo.

The party decide that rather than tread the streets themselves, they cajoule, bribe and menace a group of street-food hawkers into doing their leg work for them. This soon pays dividends when one reports that someone matching the prince's description was seen in the Temple of Pel last night. Reluctantly leaving the bosom of the Port Blacksand Karahi Hut, they make their way to the Temple.

Guess what? There's a huge queue because it's alms giving. The poor and wretched form a long line into the temple to receive a few pennies. The PCs have trouble getting the attention of the duty priests, but throwing a cauldron of coins into the street disperses the crowd from inside the temple (although this has the effect of starting a riot in the street). Having the full attention of the priests, it appears that a young man was sitting in a pew for several hours late last night talking to a teenage girl believed to be a barmaid named Emily. The priests name two local drunks that may know her - a one-legged sailor and his friend.

Venturing outside once more, Chops halts the riot long enough to locate the sailor, before allowing it to continue. Promised huge bounty, the sailor quickly gives up that Emily is a barmaid and the daughter of the innkeeper of The Star & Anchor in Spice Market Square. The two wretches are quickly off to spend their riches, although Squid rather unsportingly ambushes them in the bar and takes back their fee.

It is almost early morning when they arrive at the Spice Market - the cobblestones a rainbow of colours from centuries of exotic spices being ground underfoot. All the stalls are closed up, including the Inn. A young woman - presumably Emily is seen in at the far end of the square.

Yet again, it's a trap - but a deadly one. Crossbowmen from all sides fire bolts on the party, whilst heavies jump out of an empty lot to engage in hand to hand fighting. A wizard atop a small building pours deadly lightning bolts down. Even "Emily" pulls out a crossbow to join in. Squid is struck by an very well-aimed shot and badly wounded. Her early contribution is to crawl under a cart to hide. She's exposed when Crow and Chops upend the cart to crush two thugs hiding behind it. Several crossbowmen all aim at Mr. Shambles, who goes down.

The party are having a hard time of things, especially them wizard, but they are assisted by a mysterious figure who flings acid and flame on the assassins from behind. They mage makes his escape, and their mystery benefactor - an intense-looking young man nods to them before disappearing off into the alleyways.

Sadly, Mr. Shambles was killed. Fake Emily was captured alive, and when interrogated it appears they had been contracted to kill the Prince - and they had presumed that Mr. Shambles (with bucket on head) was the he. They also learn that the mercenaries had been retained by an assassination broker in Royal Forge - Muraf Arshad. The party try a new tactic, and recruit the mercenary Fake Emily to their cause. Ransacking the pub, there is evidence that the innkeeper and his family left town in an awful hurry, and apparently on the road back to Royal Forge.

Walking down the mainstreet, Lady Amelia TwoGood, the chief paladin has arrived to take charge of The Great Food & Penny Riot of 1534. The party decide to make good their escape and hitch a ride on a cart headed back to Royal Forge.

Sleeping off the labours of the last two nights is welcome, but on the road, they are attacked yet again - this time by a hit squad looking very much like a traditional adventuring party - fighter, ranger, thief, cleric and mage. Initially things go badly, but Fake Emily turns out to be a deadly shot, killing the mage outright. Squid remembers what it was like to be upstaged and 4th Rogue, so uses her turn to kill Fake Emily. We've seen this before with Errol Flynn, so there is general shock, but no surprise.

The rest of the attackers are seen off without too much difficulty, but the party limp into Royal Forge, having survived two attacks.

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