Chronicles of Khaldun: Bread and Circuses

Session 5

Earthday, Harvester 13, 552 CY (50 AN)

After a tense moment of waiting, the side door to the Temple of the Enlightened Metropolis opens, revealing a young female acolyte. She recognizes Khuna as one of Lady Marguerite Weogora’s handmaidens, and invites her and Thava into the temple. The acolyte asks about Khuna, saying that she has not seen her at the temple the past few weeks and that Lady Marguerite has not been appearing publicly in that time, and Khuna explains that problems have arisen. She was kidnapped, but managed to escape, as did her associates. As such, she is requesting sanctuary. The people who managed the feat are potent enough that the situation must be handled delicately — essentially letting the acolyte know that she is discussing the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks. Khuna wants to know if someone could check on Lady Marguerite, as Khuna herself likely could not safely approach. After some discussion, they decide that Thava will stay hidden in the back of the temple. So that Khuna may move about freely, the acolyte will loan her a priestess’ robe. And finally, the acolyte will head past Lady Marguerite’s estate and try to discern her condition. Before leaving, she asks Khuna if she has any message to convey; so that Marguerite will have no information to give the Peacocks if they come calling, she indicates that she can no longer remain in Marguerite’s service or life. Having decided on a course of action, the group parts company.

Meanwhile, Southie has peeked onto the street, waiting for an opportune time to emerge. When the street is mostly abandoned, he emerges — still covered in blood and the tattered remnants of his flesh suit. A well-dressed couple sees him and flees, screaming. Heedless, he heads into the temple across the street. Throwing the doors open, he is greeted by an acolyte working at the altar. He surprises the acolyte, leaping at him spear-first and impaling the lad to the floor, swiftly cutting off the bloody chortle that emerges from the young man’s chest. He is withdrawing his spear as a priest, casually chatting with two guardsmen, enters the chapel. Southie shouts, “No gods, no kings, no masters!” as he launches at the priest, impaling him with the spear and bracing to face the guardsmen.

As Southie enters the street, the others hesitate before following him. Nobody emerges onto the street, nude and covered in blood, and followed by the kobolds Ashraf and Resh. They note the open door to the church, and as Nobody sights inside the temple, she sees the chaos unfolding and joins the fray.

As Nobody enters, one of the guardsmen bolts out the back. She gives chase, and as Ashraf and Resh see this scene unfold, they slip around the side of the temple through an alley. Ashraf and Nobody converge on the guard’s position and quickly slay him. Meanwhile, Southie engages the first in melee, but he manages to slip past Southie and bolt for the entrance of the temple. Southie throws his spear, but the guardsman evades it and runs out the door, shouting for assistance. Resh, hearing the commotion, runs to investigate, and sees the guardsman running down the street. He nocks an arrow and lets it loose, impaling the guardsman through the throat and leaving him bleeding in the street.

As Ashraf, Nobody, and Resh survey the surroundings and check for equipment, Southie decapitates the priest’s corpse, forming a tableau with his head and scribing “NO GODS NO KINGS NO MASTERS” in blood at the foot of the altar. When Ashraf, Nobody, and Resh appear with some holy oil they found in the back, they spread it to set fire to the temple before fleeing. Before they leave, they make certain Nobody has a robe so that she can travel through the city with a modicum of subtlety. After setting fire to the temple, they flee, and as they move into the street, they hear a great horn reverberate throughout the city — clearly an alarm of some sort. They dive back into the sewers and retreat.

As Khuna slips through alleys to rejoin the others, she hears the single, low note of a great horn reverberate throughout the city. Recognizing the alarm, she hurries to the street where her companions were last seen. Smoke billows from a nearby temple, a guardsman lays in the street a block or so away, and another guard is asking Khuna if she heard the alarm, and recommending she get indoors. Not wanting to enter the sewers in full view of guardsmen, she walks down the street before ducking into another side alley. Hoping to find her way to another sewer entrance, she eventually does. As she is debating entering, she hears a voice behind her call for “Khuna.” She ignores it, prying open the sewer lid, but as the voice grows more insistent, offering to help her, she turns to see a mustachioed man in a nice suit leaning out of a nearby doorway. He mentions that he has already spoken to Croitus and wishes to offer her a deal; he can either help her escape, or she can brave the guards by herself. After debating, she drops the sewer lid and follows the man into the side door.

Ashraf, Nobody, Resh, and Southie move through the sewers, hoping to find their way to the center of the city and then to outlying points to hide. They move through the sewers without difficulty, at least until they hear noises and see torches up ahead. Making quick and bloody work of the guardsmen, although they make noise and alert their fellows behind, Southie makes a grotesque tableau out of the corpses, piling them and placing them in torchlight so their comrades can find them. As he does this, Ashraf and Resh set to work rigging this section of sewer to collapse. They task Nobody with standing between Southie and the kobolds, ensuring that no guards get past her.

As the kobolds continue to work on their trap, the guards approach Southie. He looms ominously, allowing them to catch a glimpse of him and the pile of mutilated corpses before extinguishing the corpses and sending the guardsmen into a panic. He then leaps into the water and pulls a guardsman under, stabbing him in the fetid water to muffle his screams. The guardsmen, however, hear the commotion, and begin to flee madly in the darkness; Southie is thorough, hunting them down one-by-one. When they are slain, he leaves their mutilated bodies in embarassing positions, staggering their placement so as to lead to the main pile of corpses. Content in his work, he returns to Ashraf, Nobody, and Resh, and when they finish with their traps, they continue to walk through the sewers. After a few minutes, they hear and feel a satisfying rumble in the distance.

The foursome manages to pick its way through the sewer passages and disused service tunnels until the group finds itself beneath the slums. Scouting potential places to hide, Resh sneaks out of the sewers and slinks into a nearby tenement. On the third floor, he finds a locked door with little signs of movement and no sounds of habitation. He breaches the door to find the place choked with dust, although old footprints in the dust suggest it was once used. The footprints lead to a small cache of gold and vials of a brown, resinous substance — likely opium.

Sneaking back to the street, he informs the others of his find, and they sneak into the building. They set up positions in the apartment, barricade the door, and prepare to rest for the evening.

Meanwhile, Khuna is following her unknown patron through smuggler tunnels and access hatches. He explains that he is Mr. Monkshood, and that he — or rather, his client — seeks to collect her and her associates and offer paying work. The client has ensured that Lady Marguerite is safe and beyond the reach of the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks. He finally leads her through an access hatch into a warehouse that has apparently been prepared as some manner of safehouse. After some discussion, Mr. Monkshood indicates he will leave to see if he can find where her associates have gone. Left alone in the quiet, darkened warehouse, she weeps softly for a long time.

She is surprised to look up and find Mr. Monkshood, apparently having silently returned. She dries her eyes and grumbles about the intrusion, and Mr. Monkshood explains that his agents have located her fellows — they are currently in a tenement in the slums. After discussing how to initiate contact, Khuna suggests she should be the one to initiate contact, as they are likely to be…ornery if approached by a stranger. They decide to go together, but as she is dressed in priestess robes with a physician’s mask, Mr. Monkshood says he will change. He is gone nearly a half hour before returning, perfectly disguised as a young maiden in priestess robes. When Khuna asks how he did that, he responds “contouring” and refuses to elaborate further; she suspects he has access to some manner of illusion magic.

Meanwhile, Croitus continues his trek across the Sorrowfell Plains. When he arrives at the city gates, he sees the city in a state of lockdown. Taking to the river, he manages to find a bent section grate he can squeeze through, gaining access to Scandshar yet again. Making his way to the Troll and Fish, he quietly enters and gets a drink. Wanting some manner of protection, he asks to purchase a spear from Scarlet Jax and her boys, and then he sits in the back of the bar, drinking and plotting his next move.

Appropriately disguised, Khuna and Mr. Monkshood set out across the city, staying out of sight of patrols and keeping a low profile. When they arrive at the slums, they walk to the tenement where Ashraf, Nobody, Resh, and Southie are currently staying. Khuna enters the building first, followed by the disguised Monkshood, making her way to the apartment where her associates were last reported to be staying. Taking a deep breath, she knocks on the door.

Meanwhile, Ashraf, Nobody, Resh, and Southie immediately gather weapons and take positions when there is a knock at the door. Upon opening the door, they see a priestess, which makes Southie immediately uneasy, but he is swiftly calmed when it is revealed to be Khuna. However, the group is quite suspicious of her associate; Monkshood introduces himself and reveals his purpose. Despite Southie’s misgivings, Ashraf is willing to deal, and after a brief discussion, the group decides to hear Monkshood out and give work with his “client” a try. He says he can get the group out of the tenement and into a safehouse; when they agree, the disguised Monkshood leaves, saying he’ll return with a cart.

Ashraf, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, and Southie have several minutes to reunite and prepare before Monkshood returns. Some time passes before there is a knock at the door; the group answers the door to find the “priestess.” There is a cart waiting outside, and so the group gathers its equipment and leaves. Monkshood says there is a brief stop before they travel to the safehouse; sources indicate Croitus is back within the city.

One of Scarlet Jax’s boys notifies Croitus that someone is there to see him. He is greeted by a young woman, apparently a priestess of some kind. She indicates that she is here on behalf of Mr. Monkshood, that she is to collect him and reunite him with his companions. Having already obtained his spear, Croitus agrees to accompany her.

Once everyone is in the cart, the cart returns to the warehouse safehouse on the waterfront. Once Ashraf, Croitus, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, and Southie enter the warehouse, they all prepare themselves to rest. Mr. Monkshood travels to the back, and returns a little while later having removed his disguise. He then explains terms, explaining and elaborating on things he already discussed with Croitus. Mr. Monkshood’s client is giving each of them a 500 gp stipend. He then wants them to recruit Daeron Hollysword, The Wolf, and La Grande Énigme. Daeron and The Wolf are thieves — and if the tales are true, lovers — stealing from small-time crooks and hoodlums in the slums. It is likely they will target a Peacock operation sooner or later, likely to their detriment. They do what they do for themselves and their community; in order to recruit them, the group will likely need to resort to some form of misdirection to convince them to accept employment from Monkshood’s client. La Grande Énigme, on the other hand, likely just needs to be found — he suspects she will react favorably to any prospective job offers. Mr. Monkshood’s client is offering 1,000 gp for each one successfully recruited.

In addition, the client also wants several Peacock operatives assassinated. The client believes killing Lord Book will benefit them. Lord Bell, Lord Book, and Lord Candle formed a triumvirate of sorts in the Peacocks; Lord Bell, also known as Large LeFarge, was recently slain. As such, the client thinks killing Lord Book will draw Lord Candle out of hiding. Additionally, Lord Book is served by the gang called Negrescu’s Nagas. The client is offering 2,000 gp for Lord Book, and 500 gp for each of Negrescu’s Nagas killed.

Finally, there are Peacock operations in Sorgforge, as well. Lord Zrak is the ranking Peacock Lord in Sorgforge, and is served by a tiefling named Mithras Vicelord. Killing Lord Zrak is worth 5,000 gp, and killing Mithras is worth 2,000 gp. Since Lord Zrak is a shadowy figure in much the same vein as the late Lord Oculus, and Lord Oculus turned out to be a beholder, Monkshood’s client suspects Zrak is also a beholder. As such, the group may want access to magical weapons; fortunately, nightclub owner Torili Two-Spirit holds a lot of things in her vault. Since her nightclub was recently attacked and several of the guards were slain, security is weakened there, so it might be worth striking the place for magic items.

With these details, the group briefly discusses plans before finally resting.

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