Chronicles of Khaldun: Bread and Circuses

Session 7

Freeday, Harvester 14, 552 CY (50 AN)

Ashraf, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, and Southie plan as they await the return of Mr. Monkshood. Ashraf inquires if Khuna knows any places where shady dealings may take place; having made occasional backdoor transactions on behalf of her masters, and having spoken with some of the other servants and slaves in her time, she is more than aware. She indicates that the mercantile districts and the waterfront tend to have such places.

As the group is discussing options, they start to hear a scratching in the walls. They make sure their equipment is gathered, but otherwise continue talking. As the noise suddenly stops, Khuna, disgusted at the constant adversity in Scandshar, exclaims that they ought to burn the town to the ground. A shrill, whispering voice emanating from the air around them agrees.

The entity begins to speak with them, and Nobody asks for it to reveal itself. From a shadowy corner of the room, over where the original scratching sound emanated, emerges a small, grotesque, misshapen imp that Nobody recognizes as a demonic quasit, usually known for acting as wizards’ familiars. Bipedal, somewhat mammalian, somewhat reptilian, somewhat insect, and bearing sharp, needle teeth, the creature indicates it wishes to parley with them.

Southie, having heard the term “parley” earlier in the day from an aboleth speaking directly into his brain, immediately launches at the creature with his spear. The quasit only has an opportunity to exclaim, “No! You can’t—” before being impaled and dissipating into a black stain and a greasy mist, smelling faintly of brimstone.

Everybody bursts into a confusion of shouting as they deride Southie for killing the creature. Ashraf and Khuna explain that parley is usually a sign of peaceful negotiations, the encounter with the aboleth notwithstanding, and that if Southie needs to kill something during a parley, Ashraf will issue the command. Otherwise, he should just remain quiet, particularly since they don’t know what wizard or demonic entity Southie may have just enraged by killing its minion.

With that clarification complete, Ashraf reveals that he has settled on a plan. The group is to move to the waterfront, hit a warehouse belonging to the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks, and leave evidence that Daeron Hollysword and The Wolf committed the deed. Then, when the Peacocks move to retaliate, the escaped gladiators can save Daeron and The Wolf and use that as leverage to get them in the employ of Mr. Monkshood’s client.

As everyone seems amenable to the plan, the group starts to move, sticking to back alleys and side streets. Khuna navigates while the others discuss their roles in the plan — at least until they realize that Southie is missing.

During the planning phase, Southie learned that the Peacocks are slavers. Nobody was one of their slaves, and they own the gladiator complex from which the group escaped. Those loyal to the Peacocks frequently invoke a peacock motif in their attire — a pin, a brooch, the pattern of the fabric, and suchlike — while those who are their slaves are often marked with some manner of peacock tattoo. Armed with this information, Southie decided to slip away from the group. Emerging onto a larger street, he glanced around. Seeing a well-dressed woman with a peacock feather pinned to her jacket, accompanied by two more drably-dressed women with noticeable peacock tattoos, he decides on his target. Emerging from the alley, he rushes behind the woman, screaming, “Thus always to flesh-peddlers!” He then slams his spear into her rectum, impaling her clean through her torso so that the spear blade emerges from her mouth. He then plants the spear between cobblestones, declares, “No gods, no kings, no masters!” and ducks back into the alley as the street explodes into panic and chaos.

Meanwhile, Ashraf, Khuna, Nobody, and Resh have realized Southie is missing. They start to backtrack, pinpointing his location when the hear the screams start. They hustle to converge on his position while Khuna stays behind to maintain plausible deniability and act as a gawking onlooker.

Southie, unarmed, is facing three guards in the alley. Despite his fearsome countenance, they feel their chances of success are great, and so they advance without fear. Southie launches himself at the first and grapples with his spear. The man manages to throw him off and smack him with the butt of the spear, but Southie tries again, planning on controlling the spear. As he does, Ashraf, Nobody, and Resh appear in the alley. As Southie grabs the guard’s spear and proceeds to hideously massacre him with it, Ashraf and Nobody advance on the other two guards as Resh covers them with his bow. Ashraf kills the first while Nobody chases down and kills the second.

Emerging onto the street, Nobody sees Southie’s handiwork. The two slave-girls, sobbing and obviously in shock, are trying to revive their clearly-dead master. Nobody approaches them and tells them they are free. As they look at her frightening visage and start screaming, she half-whispers to them to run, which prompts them to do so.

Seeing that guards are converging on their position, Nobody informs the others and they flee, successfully losing the guards in the confusion.

The group continues on their way, keeping a closer watch over Southie as they go. After a few minutes, the city alarm horn sounds, and the group notices the streets start to clear. The group starts moving carefully through the alleys, dodging guard patrols. At one point, Khuna, still leading the group, happens to round a corner — and run smack dab into a couple of guards she didn’t notice previously. She manages to keep them away from the alley and convince them that she was merely running an errand and is trying to return home. Despite her assertions that she can make it home herself, they insist on escorting her to the nearest guard post for her own safety. She agrees, having little choice.

Not that she has to worry about it very long. Ashraf, Nobody, Resh, and Southie emerge from the alley to intercept the guards. One turns to face them, shouting for the other to get the woman to safety. The other guard starts running with Khuna, urging her to run. Feigning panic, Khuna collapses; the guard grabs her and fireman carries her down the street as fast as he can.

The first guard stands little chance, and the second hardly fares better. Despite taking a tumble on the ground when the guard falls, Khuna is unharmed. The group continues to the waterfront.

Emerging at the waterfront, the group sees the workers packing things away so that they can effectively wait out the lockdown. Several guards are assisting. Rather than hitting a prime target, the group discusses the options and ultimately decides to target a smaller warehouse attached to a shop on the outskirts of the waterfront.

Khuna comes to the back door while Ashraf, Nobody, Resh, and Southie all gather around her, out of sight. She knocks using the “secret knock” and the door opens. The Peacock soldier opening the door is immediately surprised by impalement by Southie’s spear, although this gives the other Peacock soldiers in the warehouse time to register the commotion. A couple of gangsters move forward to engage, but are swiftly stopped by Ashraf and Nobody. The remaining soldiers knock over several of the boxes to form a barricade, and prepare for the fight. Southie begins barricading the back door.

Khuna, feigning panic, screams that she was captured by Daeron Hollysword and The Wolf. They forced her to come here, and requests the Peacock soldiers help her. She starts clambering over the barricades while the Peacock soldiers, convinced by her deception, ignore her and begin firing arrows at Ashraf, Nobody, Resh, and Southie. Khuna throws open the door between the warehouse and the shop, and seeing a frightened shopkeeper and several Peacock soldiers within, she screams that they need to save themselves, because Daeron Hollysword and The Wolf are here. She then throws the door closed and locks it.

Ashraf, who has taken cover and started forming a plan, notes a rope and scaffold assembly supporting several of the boxes. He tells Resh to fire on it, severing the rope with an arrow. Resh fires a successful shot and sends a whole stack of boxes tumbling down. As Khuna sees the stack of boxes start to topple, she realizes she can’t escape fast enough. She does, however, see an empty box falling, its top open to the ground. She quickly dives underneath the falling box and drops into a fetal position, effectively shielding herself from the falling debris.

With both exits blocked and most of the soldiers out of commission, Ashraf and Resh set to work building a trap by the back door. Nobody and Southie scale the uneven wreckage of collapsed boxes and begin moving to engage the Peacock soldiers. Although one manages to climb free from the debris to engage Nobody, she swiftly slays him. Nobody and Southie then proceed to search through the detritus, killing gangsters as they go.

Meanwhile, Khuna has been working to free herself of the heap. She manages to heave the box off herself, only to find that one of the soldiers has been tunneling in her direction. She again plays on her distressed damsel act, generally acting like a frightened mess to keep his guard down.

Once they seem to have killed most of them, Southie extracts a final gangster out of the wreck and begins interrogating him, truthfully telling him, “If you cooperate, Nobody will hurt you.” After some coercion, he agrees, telling them that the Peacocks are currently organized under Lord Key, although Key only took over after Lord Oculus died last week. This particular soldier works for Lord Book, who lives over in the ruins. His building is also the base of operations of Negrescu’s Nagas, who patrol the area, and there are tunnels underneath leading throughout the city.

True to his word, Southie then sends Nobody to kill the man.

Searching further, Nobody hears the commotion among the littered boxes. Digging through the wreckage, she finds Khuna and the Peacock soldier. The man asks Nobody to just let the two of them go, and when Nobody refuses, he prepares to attack. Khuna feigns distress to take the opportunity to collapse and try to trip the man. He manages to keep his footing, but after trying to avoid this, he finally hefts Khuna off the ground and uses her as a human shield. Nobody indicates that this is not a wise course of action and proceeds to stab at him — she manages to avoid Khuna, although the blow is not fatal to the gangster. Wounded and frightened, he flings Khuna to the ground, and when Nobody next attempts to lunge at him, he manages to grab her and spin her around, holding her as a shield with his sword to her throat. Southie looks ready to lurch himself at him, but it is Ashraf who steps forward and attempts negotiations. However, this is merely a ploy to get the man to lower his guard; he stops mid-sentence to step forward and cast his spear at the gangster through Nobody. The spear-tip pierces her side, but fatally punches through the soldier’s diaphragm, causing a harsh exhalation of air as he dies. Ashraf casts the blood off his spear and then returns to the task of building a trap on the back door. Khuna, meanwhile, sets to treating Nobody’s wound.

Meanwhile, Croitus has been waiting in the cemetery. After growing tired of the prospect of waiting around until nightfall to fulfill his necromantic experiments, he decides to just burrow through the earth to the remains in a coffin. He begins digging, but after digging mostly into the earth, he manages to get struck between two large stones in the ground, and wedges himself so firmly that he is unable to extricate himself.

He is not certain how much time passes, but it is some time before he feels vibrations and then feels a tugging on his tail. He begins thrashing, and between his thrashing and whatever force is on his tail, he feels himself manage to wriggle free. In the midst of this, he slams his tail into something, and he stops feeling the pulling sensation. After managing to climb back to the surface, he finds he struck and accidentally killed the groundskeeper. He invokes his necromantic rites and inters the man’s essential salts into one of his canopic jars.

As he finishes, he hears the alarm horn resound throughout the city.

His goal of obtaining another zombie servant complete, he decides to return to the river. From there, he decides to travel down to the waterfront in the hopes of establishing contact with members of the Claasen noble house.



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