Evening set in on the island, and it found the group of adventurers in the common room of The Halberd. Dimopulous was deep in conversation with Taksony, the lycan that Airest and Thorn had rescued from incarceration. Yosephine, singing, and the still mysterious goliath, Stella, dancing to the tune.
Jiggo, curious as to what the sorcerer and lycan were discussing, ventured over to have a seat. He asked Taksony how long he had been here. Taksony replied that he has been here barely a month, and that he was in the guardian trade. Dimopulous excused himself and Taksony, and the two walked off to the kitchen to be alone again. A moment later the kitchen servants quickly filed out, being shooed out by the sorcerer. Frustrated, Jiggo decided to take a short walk. As he was about the leave, a large shadow suddenly filled the doorway. A half-orc stood on the threshold, refusing to move. Seeing the large bow strung on his back, Thorn readied his weapons. The half-orc tossed him only a cursory glance however.
“Someone wants to meet with you, all of you” he tells the group.
The group exchanged looks and after a short moment’s discussion agreed to follow the half-orc hunter. Their march through the twilight city streets took place in silence. Each of them anxious and ready for ambush by the gangs. From the far distance came an otherworldly barking, and a low thundering growl. Their guide’s eyes darted briefly towards the sound, a look of worry flashed across his face. They came upon a small, unremarkable hovel. A series of knocks from their guide opened the door. Inside was a single empty room. A large trapdoor was in the middle of the floor. As it opened they could see a long winding staircase. As the trapdoor stopped it’s motion, magical torches suddenly sprang to life around the room. Their guide gently gestured towards the stairs and slowly they began to their decent into the stone beneath Malteton.
A collection of voices, and languages drifted up the stairwell as they made their way down. They could hear people conversing in common, orcish, and gnome. Soon they came to the bottom of the stairs and into a large luxurious meeting room. A long, elegant table stretched out before them, with room enough to seat twenty. Two humans, a half-orc, and a gnome fill only a few of the seats. Their hunter-guide slowly made his way down the table, taking a seat next to one of the humans. Both of the humans looked to be brothers, the same dark hair, and clear eyes. Their dress however was very different, the one at the head of the table was dressed as nobility. His shirt and breeches made of a fine cloth, and a large fiery gem set in a necklace hung around his neck. The other seemed to be dressed more simply, but there was no mistaking his bearings. It was that of a man accustomed to battle, a large shield lay against his chair. Jiggo recognized it as being made of white dragon hide. The half-orc sat confidently in his chair, unconcerned with the newcomers. His leather armor was studded in many places with sharks teeth. Next to him sat a young female gnome, her green robes were not studded with teeth, but its patterns resembled that of teeth. Jiggo, Yosophine and Airest take their seats, but it takes some coaxing by their host to get Thorn and Stella to take theirs. Jiggo and Yosophine leaned forward and began to speak, the human raised his hands and gently motioned them for quiet. He would introduce everyone, he said, when everyone had arrived.
Time passed, the group waited anxiously in silence. Except for Jiggo, who decided to partake of the bourbon, becoming somewhat tipsy. He sobered up quickly, however, when they heard the door upstairs open. All eyes turned towards the stairs, and after what seemed an eternity, a female drow descended into the room. Her face lifted in an arrogant manner. She wore a dress that seemed to be magically sewn from bones. She began to speak in undercommon,
(“Why did you switch places? This is not the usual spot”) she said. Then her eyes alighted on the group, they flashed angrily.
“What are THEY doing here?” she demanded. Yosophine and Airest, both able to speak Undercommon replied that they had been summoned, but the drow, ignored them. Her eyes still on the human at the head of the table.
“They may be able to help with some of our problems” he replied.
“They’ve helped enough already” the drow shouted. Yosophine began to stand, indignant, but the human motioned for her to sit back down. The drow’s eyes darted around the table.
“Where is your guardian. They are missing” she said.
“I notice yours is not with you either,” the human replied. Before the drow could answer back, the human removed his necklace, placing the gem on the table. His face hardening in concentration. Airest could feel that a sort of telepathic conversation was taking place. The drow’s voice cut through the air again.
“What is he doing here?” she screamed. A tall, pale human had appeared behind their host. His garb was of a dark leather, and two menacing short swords hung at his side. His face was narrow and angular, ending in a pointed beard. Jiggo demanded to know what was going on. The host explained that there was a conversation going on, and that this crystal simply sped up conversation. That this man, indicating the pale human, was simply a servant. Enraged the drow stormed back up the stairs. After a moment they could hear the door open and slam.
Their host, slightly exasperated, informed them that she was Brenna, the leader of the Bones. He introduced himself as Alaron, the human to his right as Abrecan. The half-orc that had guided them to the meeting point was Krushk and the half-orc wearing the studded leather was Gottfriet, leader of the Teeth, and the small gnome his guardian, Rheda. The group in turn, introduced themselves. Alaron then informed them that the pale man was a ‘servant’, that he had been brought along in case Brenna had brought her guardian, but Alaron had seemingly correctly guessed that his and Brenna’s guardians were probably meeting at that very moment somewhere else.
Jiggo insisted that Alaron get to the point. Alaron agreed. He explained to the group that the gangs were very interested in their ability to come and go in the forest. Jiggo informed him of the boneyard, and Alaron in return informs him that something was forcing the boneyard from his usual haunt. He explained that there are at least two creatures in the forest other than the boneyard and that these two other creatures only make trails through the forest when they wished to attract more victims, making them especially dangerous and nigh impossible to track. He then offered the group a proposition that he would ask after explaining his situation.
The Bones were the tax collectors of the gangs. They worked with the people to collect money as the other gangs made sure that the town was safe from the mysterious creatures that seemed to attack the town at intervals. But the Bones had become too soft handed and this was not good for business. The Bones had a monopoly on all the skill in Malteton, but the arrival of the adventurers and the subsequent first fight with the Bones had upset the balance a little. He mentioned Thorn’s previous dealings with the Teeth and the Bones and offered the group safe passage through the forest. He explained that since the rune hounds were under the control of the skins so he could make it possible. In return, he wanted the adventurers to oust the Bones from their position. Their duties would be split up between the other gangs. Destroyed or simply removed from power, Alaron didn’t care, as long as they were no longer on the island.
Airest asked him how they would treat the people of the town after they the Bones were removed. All Alaron would say was that they would be treated the same as the Skins and others had always treated them. Jiggo requested that they discuss this in private. Alaron acquiesces, and the gang members file out of the room, leaving them alone. They begin to discuss and debate amongst themselves. Airest and Yosephine seemed unsure of Alaron’s intentions for the town. Jiggo is convinced that the gangs simply want to use the party and they should refuse to even go along with their plans. Thorn suddenly speaks up, declaring that he will kill the Bones regardless, but does not like the plan. Jiggo asked why.
“Because they are an enemy” Thorn replied.
“If that is the case, we might as well go along with their plan and gain something” replied the monk. Thorn twisted his face in disgust. “NO, I kill them because they are an enemy….you kill for gain”
The gang leaders filed back into the room, and Jiggo spoke to Alaron. He told him that they acted as a group, but each had their own individual interest. That each might want individual payment in different ways. Airest, disgusted with the drow’s manner (and possibly her race), demanded Brenna’s head as well as other compensation. Yosephine wanted a catalog of the island’s plant and animal life. Thorn informed the human that he will tell him his price to him and only him. Alaron smiled, and informed the gnoll that he will be contacted. Despite Jiggo’s insistence, Alaron refused to give out the location of the Bones center of operations, worried that they might do something rash before the time was right. He dismissed the meeting and told the group that they should speak with Gottfriet and the others before they left. Trying to break the awkwardness of being suddenly thrown into a social situation, Airest turns towards Rheda the gnome.
“May I ask what type of caster you are?” she asks. Rheda informs her that she was raised a cleric, but has studied some wizardry, she politely asks what manner of spell caster Airest was. She tells the gnome she too is a cleric.
“We clerics have to stick together,” the gnome replies with a smile. It fades from her face however, as she turns to notice Thorn standing over her. The seven foot five gnoll towering over her like a mountain. He stared at the gnome without saying a word.
“Does….does he do this often?” she asked Jiggo.
“Yes” Jiggo replied.
Trying to break the awkward moment, their half-orc guide, Kursk, spoke up. He noticed that Thorn carried no bow, and offered to acquire one for the ranger. Thorn accepted, but did not take his eyes off the gnome.
“WHERE….did you learn magic,” he asked of her. She nervously told the gnoll that a wounded hedge mage had turned up near the abbey where she studied to be a cleric, and that during his healing, he had noticed she had a talent for the arcane and had offered to teach her some wizardry if she followed him. Since abbey life was all she had known till that point, she had decided to explore and follow him. This seemed to calm Thorn somewhat.
Meanwhile, Jiggo and Krushk were conversing. Jiggo was curious if the Teeth might be next after the Bones. Overhearing this, Gottfriet snorted with derision. Jiggo insisted that it might happen. The leader of the Teeth, however, was confident that it would never happen. Krushk mentioned to Jiggo that there might be ruins in the forest, inhabited at one time. The location was somewhere to the south east, but he warned the monk that the boneyard frequents that area. After a moment’s thought, he asks Krushk if the boneyard has any sort of weakness. Krushk, informed him that positive energy would kill the horror, but he also warned him that it regained strength with every kill and it would have to be weakened substantially before the positive energies would become lethal. The best bet was to shatter every bone beyond use, so it could not reassemble itself, then strike to kill. Jiggo nodded and thanked him for the information, he then asked if there was a place on the island where he could get a boat. Krushk pointed out the fisherman’s guild towards the dock areas.
Across the room, an increasingly nervous Rheda stood under the glare of Thorn.
“What…magic.” he asks her.
“M-mostly evocation and conjuration” she replied.
Thorn gestured over to Gottfriet. Understanding his unspoken question, Rheda replied that she was with the Teeth because Gottfriet had helped her. She was on a merchant ship when it was attacked by a dragon turtle. Nearby fishermen saw the attack and quickly moved to help. Many of the fishermen were Teeth, Gottfriet among them. At that time he was only a guardian. Thorn looked to the half-orc and then back at Rheda.
“You remind me of someone,” he said.
“A good someone….I hope?” she asked.
The others were saying good evening to the gang leaders. Thorn turned back to the gnome. He stooped low, sniffing at the small cleric, and then stood back up, sneering.
“Not all life…..is good” he said. Thorn turned and made his way out with the others.
Later, at the inn, Thorn, Dimopoulos, and Taksony sat in the common room as the others slept. Thorn told the sorcerer all they had seen and been told at the meeting. Dimopulous seemed especially interested in Alaron’s gem. Thorn told him that some of the group had been somewhat eager to take part in the Alaron’s plan.
“I am not surprised,” Dimopulous replied. “What do YOU think?”
“I am going to kill the Bones one way or another,” Thorn answered.
Branka came and asked the gnoll if he wanted anything. Thorn requested tea. After a bit of silence, Dimopulous asked Thorn if he had any idea how they might disguise Taksony, so that he could move in the open, and help. The gnoll could provide no help other than to suggest maiming his face or changing clothes, pointing out that humans place great emphasis on them. Dimopulous was hesitant to start cutting at the lycan’s face while Taksony rejected the clothes. The three became silent, each seeming to be alone in their thoughts and the night drew on.