Sunday, Harvester 16, 552 CY (50 AN)
Croitus, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, and Southie continue planning before infiltrating Lord Book’s hideout. While they are discussing, a sparrow lands on Khuna’s shoulder, and in Mr. Monkshood’s voice, indicates that plans have changed; he is watching Lord Book’s hideout, and will contact them when they have finished with it. The sparrow flutters away, and Khuna relays this information to the group. They plan a little further, deciding that perhaps they will try to access the building from the roof.
plan a little further, deciding that perhaps they will try to access the building from the roof. Taking the rope-extending grappling hook, Resh sneaks across the street into a side alley. He throws the grappling hook and catches the overhang of the building; a rope extends to his waiting hand. He starts to scale the building, but notes someone in the window and determines he cannot pass without the person noting him. He climbs back down and informs them of this fact. After some discussion, the group decides that Resh will distract the people inside the building by firing an arrow into one of the front windows, while the others climb into a window on the side.
Croitus, Khuna, Nobody, and Southie sneak across the street while Resh takes his position in the alley. He fires an arrow into one of the front second-story windows, and everyone else starts climbing when they see the man move away from the window. Resh quickly moves to join them, and the group crashes through the window and moves inside.
The building appears to be an old tenement, and while it is obvious that it has been kept in some manner of repair, it is hardly furnished or decorated. Croitus summons his ghoul-amalgam, and the group moves through the rooms before coming to a door. Southie presses his head to the door, and is surprised when the blade of a bastard sword comes slicing through the door, nicking his head. As he reels backward, the door swings open.
Six men crowd around the door. The leader appears to be a pale man with flaming red hair clad in plate and bearing a shield and bastard sword. His five warriors are clad in scale mail and bearing battleaxes and shields. Croitus sends the ghoul-thing to bar access to the doorway and engage the men; Resh fires arrows past the ghoul. Knowing that his axe can dance and fight at his command, Southie throws his axe over the ghoul, but somehow does not activate it correctly and it lands harmlessly on the ground beyond the warriors. Croitus sends the ghoul-thing crashing through their ranks and engaging the leader; Southie follows the creature, using the confusion to grab his axe.
Croitus maintains command of the ghoul-thing, tearing into the leader, while Resh fires arrows into the warriors’ ranks. One of the warriors falls, but the other four rush into the room, moving to engage Nobody and Resh. To everyone’s surprise, Khuna — who has largely been hanging back and observing the combatants — leaps forward, knife in hand. After scrapping with a warrior for a few seconds, she manages to stab him in the neck, dropping him to the ground. The other warrior turns on her while Nobody continues to engage the two warriors fighting her.
Although Southie is powerful, the man in plate is careful and methodical in combat. Southie manages to stagger him with axe blows once or twice, and even cut his shield arm, causing him to drop it, but the man is proficient with his sword, managing to hold off Southie and the ghoul-thing simultaneously. Croitus commands the ghoul-thing to collapse on top of the leader, and then he de-animates it, leaving the man in plate pinned under its bulk. He still stabs his sword at Southie, dealing him a mortal injury; in response, Khuna summons a bit of healing magic to keep him alive and fighting. Southie takes the opportunity to finally get inside of the plate mailed warrior’s sword reach and decapitate him with his axe. Croitus reanimates the ghoul-thing and sends it back to harry the surviving warriors.
Meanwhile, Khuna leaps on her other assailant, sucking at his wounds to devour his blood. In a panic, the man starts trying to pry her off with his axe, but he is finally slain. Nobody continues to struggle with her two assailants as they knock her to the ground; she slays one, and is struggling with the other when Southie approaches with the leader’s decapitated head. He starts talking to the survivor with it as a ventriloquist dummy, but when the man does not pay attention — apparently locked in struggle with Nobody — Southie works the head’s jaw to take a bite out of the warrior’s throat. He collapses and bleeds his last atop Nobody.
Exhausted, the group takes a moment to rest and Khuna binds the group’s wounds as best she can. Southie takes the leader’s plate mail for himself, while some of the others take the scale mail. Croitus cracks open the warriors’ skulls and samples their brains, determining that this was Dragomir Negrescu and Negrescu’s Nagas. He also learns that Lord Book is evidently downstairs, and Lord Key has apparently come to Scandshar; she is evidently staying in the Plum Blossom Inn. Once Croitus, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, and Southie are ready, they search the building. There is little of value; it appears that the warriors used this place as a barracks, but likely had all their equipment with them when they were slain. They move downstairs, and finding nothing of value, move to the basement.
Descending the stairs, Khuna realizes she has seen this place before — her first strange dream from a couple of days ago depicted this place. At the bottom of the stairs lies a room; to the right, it opens into a larger space bound by walls of stone and replete with bookshelves. Closer to the group lies a table cluttered with scientific equipment — books, tools, a brain in a jar of brine. The far wall bears a wooden door. At the far end of the room is a table; in Khuna’s vision, her Margot lay upon it, apparently dead. Now, a stitched-together monstrosity of flesh lies upon it. Looming above it is a pale, bearded man with a turban bearing a peacock feather. He wears a heavy, white coat with heavy black gloves; strangely, as her vision intimated, he bears raven’s talons instead of human legs. Several shuffling corpses mill about the room.
Khuna dashes for the table, hoping to knock the brain jar onto the floor.