So there I was, in the stable. Those two corrupt city guards corpses lay at our feet. One of them had managed to let out a cry for assistance before being dealt the killing blow. I quickly retrieved Wustov, and checked out the doors and windows to see if alarm or suspicion had been raised. It seems as though our scuffle had gone either unnoticed, or uncared for. Either way, we had some time.
Closing the doors to the stables, I began conversing Kenmei. Kenmei’s role in their deaths would not be known to anyone. Their association with me, however, would intertwine their fates with mine. We had four choices before us. One: Stay and attempt to talk my way out of this somehow. Two: Flea the city before anyone notices the bodies. Three: Murder anyone who had any knowledge of our interactions with these men. Four: Dispose of the bodies and claim ignorance.
There was still much to learn in this city. As such, we didn’t give option One much consideration. Option One seemed a long shot at best. While I was fully prepared to make a solid argument in my defense, we could only guess how far the corruption in the town had stretched. A further concern which I did not voice was my concern over my ‘companions’. They had already sold me out once, they might decide to do so once again should they believe their own skin was on the line. While Kenmei did come to my aid when it was needed most just then, still – she is just a girl. Girls can’t be expected to act with intelligence or honor, as they are only slightly removed from feral beasts.
Option Two, bar far the easiest and safest option, would leave us without the information we desperately needed from this city. Without information, our mission would surely be jeopardized. Given a choice between the incurring the wrath of this city vs that of Landrew and Rajelei – I would choose the city any day of the week.
Option Three: It seemed like this might only include the bastard innkeep, Sharps, and some drunkard patron. As we progressed in the task, this list could easily grow out of hand as more and more witnesses were brought in. Afterall, we are hardly trained assassins. That kind of work requires far more than raw strength. Indeed, a subtle and light touch are the most prized of skills in such a task. Such skills are not well rooted in an old butcher and three feral girl-beasts.
Option Four: Dispose of the bodies and play innocent. This seemed the best of our options. As we talked through various means disposal. Kenmei came upon a capital idea. Perhaps this one has a brain on her after all. She has the ability to perform a spell which would perfectly disguise us for a period of time. We could perpetrate ourselves as the two guards, be seen removing bodies from the city. Once away from prying eyes, we would dispose of the carcasses outside of the city, and again be seen as them re-entering the city safely.
We set off about the business of implementing this plan and saw it come to fruition as well as we could hope. Easily leaving the city, we removed Gary and Bruce to the cliffs, burned their faces to obfuscate the identities and then pushed their remains over the cliff. The spell had worn off in the time. As such, we were forced to spend the night outside of the walls.
The following morning, I copied disguise spell from Kenmei’s formula book and made an extract of it. She prepared a new instance of the spell as well. It was then that Kenmei and Shizuka shared some sort of telepathic communion. I do not understand how exactly that bond works, but it is definitely an asset I shall need to be cognizant of should I ever be forced to put one of them down for the good of the mission.
Shizuka and Kiaran showed up a short time later, meeting us at the haunted watchtower. A great debate transpired over our next course of action. While it seems we might have been successful in removing any suspicion over the disappearance of the guards – I was still elected to fight and win the title in a gladiatorial arena. Dear readers, while I am a party to self-boasting as much as any man, perhaps even more than most, this is something well beyond my capabilities. I resisted strenuously any such plot.
Again, Kenmei came up with a cunning plan that was able to sway my thoughts. Perhaps this one is human and more than a feral girl-beast. She is in possession of a staff with some unique abilities. This staff is able to allow the possession of a person, she could use this ability to ‘throw’ the match and allow for a victory when I might otherwise find no chance of one. It was resolved then that we would re-enter the city. I would enter the arena and engage in this combat. We would milk this town for all the information it was worth before leaving.
Before heading back to town, Zuzu (as her sister calls her) climbed to the top of the watchtower to see what was inside. From atop the tower she denoted a large pillar of smoke in the distance and a view of the inside. She let down a rope and the rest of us soon saw the summit of the tower. Once I saw the smoke with my own eyes, I realized that it was truly the dust cloud of an approaching army. Likely that of this emperor we were to eliminate.
The party elected to go into the tower and see what the warnings on the door were all about. A saw a pile of skeletons near a door occupied the center of the top floor of the structure. Scouting about for traps, I could tell that while nothing of that sort were detectable, a dark presence seemed to be emanating from the next room. We carefully approached the pile of skeletons and set it ablaze as a test. Glass vials could be heard shattering – crap. Suddenly a Shade appeared from the darkness and attempted to touch me!
A short battle ensured with this Shade. While it seemed immune to my weapons, my companions were in possession of magical devices and had better luck dealing with this unnatural … ‘thing’. The one called Zuzu seemed to be interested in recruiting it as a pet of some kind. I shutter to even contemplate the kind of childhood one must have had to even consider such a thing. Unbalanced at best, perhaps mad. I’ll be sleeping with one eye open when she is on watch.
Kiaran made use of some kind of hex that reduced this shade into a clumsy oaf. As it stubbled about the room like a drunken toddler, my companions reduced it to the nothingness from which it had sprung. Eliminated the fire, Kiaran and I immediately put out the fire and saw to examining the pile of enflamed gear at the center of the room. We could hear Shizuka blubbering about her lack of ability to claim the fingernails from the shade (mad?) Exchanging odd glances, the two of us dug into the pile.
We retrieved a few vials which had not cracked under the heat of the fire. Several semi damaged silver daggers, a short sword that appeared to have been untouched and some gold. I thought I had seen an emerald of some kind but must have mistaken a shard of glass from the broken vials. Shizuka and I had a brief debate of the short sword, which was clearing having magical qualities. Of course, the feral girl-beast was no match for the cognitive faculties of a man. I let her have my share of the gold to play with lest she murder me in my sleep.
We returned back to the city, again with Kenmei and myself disguised to get through the city gates. We popped our head back into the inn to show the faces of Bruce and Gary before returning back to the stable to change back into normal clothing. We then moved into the city towards the gladiatorial pits where we ran into a fabrics merchant of some kind.
After some discussion we learned a great many things about the nature of the gladiatorial bouts which caused us to revisit our original plan and a Seer of some kind that might have some information of interest regarding our mission. The bouts take place over several days. Tonight, the entry level bout, is not necessarily a lethal combat. After passing that bout team matches can be formed for subsequent fights. Interesting, very interesting…