The caravan finally arrives in Bornheim, one of the largest port city on the continent of Miran. Nearly 32,000 people live in or around the city and while the population is mostly human – there is a large elven and dwarven quarter within the city walls. Most of the other non-human population live within a large Foreign Quarter or small communities in Oldtowne. Amer has to deal with family business first, but he arranges for a large bunk room over The Bear and Pike Inn.
The Dark Beauty of Song
With a nose for trouble, Rakul leads the others off to a gaming house near the docks. While he is asking around about a ship named the Gorgon. Briz speaks to many of the sailors and a few of them believe the shattered city from his dream is one of the many ruined Theodovan cities along the shores of the Serpente Sea. A few possibilities, but nothing concrete so he waves down Xarth and heads over towards a table where a particularly gifted singer is singing a rather despondent dirge.
The man’s name is Dobry, a Mladovian whose people were conquered when the Dakarians arrived. Briz feels sorry for him and tries to give him tips on how better to entertain a crowd, but Dobry is not singing to entertain but instead the songs of his people. His great grandfather wrote down the songs with the Dakarians arrived so their history would not be lost. When his father passed his younger brother stole the book and ran off to this city. Rakul overhears the man’s plight he immediately says that he will help him recover the birthright that was stolen by his brother. Rakul also punches him for singing such dark and depressing songs.
The Elven Connection
Briz helps the young man and after talking to him a bit more, with a wary eye on Rakul, he believes the book might contain the written magic of the Mldovians. It was believed lost many generations ago when the Dakarians killed off those few spirit singers that were still alive following the Mldovian Civil War. The only clue they have is that his brother, Natan, came into the city a month ago and the family owned the watermill outside of the village of Ciosny.
After several hours they find Leonek, a carpenter who lived in a nearby town and often traveled to Ciosny. He remembers both the boys and their father. Natan found him just a few weeks ago. He always knew the younger boy was trouble, but he wants no part of what is happening. Rakul and Xarth manage to physically convince him otherwise, which sends everyone nearby somewhere else. Leonek relents and says that Natan wanted to know about elves. Natan said he met and elven woman outside of the village and came to the city to meet her. Leonek warned the young man about the treachery of elves, but he fears his warning fell on deaf ears.
With a partial lead they come across Alka, a half-elven sailor, who overheard a conversation between a man matching Natan’s description and an elven woman with long braided hair. He was discussing the sale of a book to the woman, but seemed very nervous.The man left with the elf but it was clear that he was very afraid of her. She tells that that rumors say the elf works for Tomacarne, known as The Bloody Elf, among the smugglers. Tomacarne is often seen at Radlof’s Lucky House, a gambling house in Fishtown.
The Shining Blade
As they make their way there, Xarth sees someone following them. He cannot determine much from the tall cloaked figure, as they disappear into the crowd when he looks back. Rather than risk leading someone to Tomacarne, the best lead, they go to a nearby tavern called The Shining Blade. Dominated by a fighting circle, Rakul decides to use the time waiting and enters the competition. He wins his fight against a large mountain of a man and the respect of the other fighters.
While Rakul is fighting and drinking, Xarth and Briz try and turn over any rumors on Tomacarne. His reputation is as an enforcer for several different smugglers. People tend to disappear if they work too close with him. He is known to work with an elven woman with long blonde hair named Mirwen. She has a reputation as a sorcerer and one not to be crossed. This information does come with a cost, the two of them are lured outside by some local thugs with “information.” It does not work out as the muggers hoped and after gathering Rakul they head for the Lucky House.
Tomacarne is already seated at his usual table when they arrive. They make brief introductions, but it is pretty clear that The Bloody Elf has already been informed. He tells them that a small group of elves are working very hard to get the book. When Briz mentions the Red Blades his intensity increases. He demands to know their stake in the matter, but does not seem to fully believe their story of simply helping Dobry. Rakul has the look of a dangerous man unwilling to help another without money crossing hands.
They have been talking longer that Xarth would like as he notices several people in the tavern watching them. At a look from Xarth and Rakul the men back down, but such a thing will not be forgotten quickly. Briz finally convinces Tomacrane to trust them. Tomacarne says that Natan can be found inside of a white house with a broken red door along the northern wall of The Wash. The Wash is the most destitute district in Bornheim and not a place people enter willingly – certainly not at night.
Assassin in the Night
Deciding that it is far too dark to go stumbling around The Wash, they return to their rooms above The Bear and Pike. Just a few hours before sunrise, Rakul hears a noise and sits up, only to be clubbed unconscious by several quick blows to the body. Xarth and Briz roll out of bed, but as soon as Briz begins casting spells the attacker turns on him and drops him to the ground as well. Xarth manages to hold of their attacker long enough that footsteps can be heard outside the door. Fearing being trapped, the attacker flees out the window. On the way out Xarth hears a definite female voice muttering about Tomacarne sticking his nose in where it does not belong.
Worried that things might be progressing faster than they expected, Xarth wakes up Briz and Rakul and head into The Wash. As the dawn breaks they find the house in question. Someone has hidden the fact that the houses on either side have been gutted and used to increase the interior of the central house. In addition the door has strained against its hinges because its been reinforced.
Briz weakens the door allowing Xarth to break it down with two swift kicks. Rakul rushes inside and kills the guard near the door just as he wakes up. With no time to waste the three of then rush through a small hallway into a back room. Various traps and spikes hinder their movement, but they finally reach the back of the house.
The only way not boarded up is a ladder secured to the wall. Xarth tries to climb up, but the trapdoor on the ceiling opens up and hot oil comes down scalding him and Rakul. Briz is forced out of the room and back into the front room to avoid the oil. He hears the guard calling out, “Ingram. Tell Ingram to bring more guards, the elves have attacked.” Briz realizes that something is very wrong, but not in time to stop Xarth and Rukul from running up the ladder and severally beating the guards on the upper floor.
After some questioning they get the story from the guards. This house is used by Ingram to smuggle goods in and out of the city. He has been protecting Natan for Tomacarne from the elves that are looking for him. Natan has been pretty badly tortured, but he is currently still alive and resting in an underground storage room midway along the tunnel.
When they reach Natan he confirms the story. The elven sorceress captured him when they last spoke. She took him to her employer Turin, who tortured him for many days. They wanted the book, but he refused to give it up. Eventually he was rescued by several people and brought to Tomacarne, who arranged for him to safely stay with Ingram’s smugglers. He tells him that the book is in a hidden cellar under the millstone at their mill. He wants the book to go to his older brother as it should have – he will protect it.
Rakul, Briz, and Xarth continue down the smugglers tunnel eventually reaching the end in a heavily wooded area west of the Hashan village. The dawn has passed as they make their way towards the village of Ciosny. When they reach the mill it appears uninhabited, but tightly boarded against the storms or intruders. They make a long route around the mill and do not find anyone watching.
With Rukul’s directions they make their way to the water wheel and climb up it and into the mill through a small door near the top. The inside is dusty from disuse, but the stone foundation seems sturdy and the timbers supporting the roof intact. Xarth and Rakul go down to the millstone and see if they can figure out how the mechanism works. Briz, who is looking around, notices that the small window at the peak of the mill is now open – it was closed when they first entered.
He summons forth his magic and bathes the area in a soft yellowish glow. In addition to everything that they can see – there are two figures that are now visible. Rukul grabs one of the ropes and cuts through it. As the counterweight falls he is carried quick towards the upper rafters. Xarth takes cover behind the millstone as arrows whiz around him eventually scrambling up the ladder after Briz jumps down.
One of the elves jumps to the ground, but his senses are still dazzled from Briz’s previous, so he ends up twisting his ankle when he lands. Outnumbered and injured the elf tries to flee through the door, but although the bar cracks it does not break and the door remains closed. Xarth jumps off the ledge and unto the elf, knocking him unconscious.
Rukul and the remaining elf trade blows with their swords with the elf receiving the worst of the exchange. Briz decides to assist Rukul by weaving an illusion in the elf’s eyes of many more supporting timbers supporting the ceiling. Rukul watches in fascination as the elf seems to simply step of a timber and falls to his death on the grinding stone.
With the elves dead they find Dobry’s book under the grindstone’s mechanism. Briz recognizes many of the song and believes the song history if a book of spells for summoning faeries and other ilk. Not taking any chances they look outside before they leave and see a scraggly human with a crossbow crouched at the woods line. Xarth recognizes him as one of Ingram’s men when Tomacarne comes up beside him.
Tomacarne brings Dobry from out of the woods, along with nearly a score of armed smugglers; although he approaches the mill only with himself and Dobry. He explains to them that a very dangerous elf lives within the Elven Quarter, an elf that spent time torturing him. That elf wants one of the songs in the book and Tomacarne will do whatever it takes to see that he never gets it.
Dobry has come to trust Tomacarne, who rescued his brother from those who were torturing him – but he will do whatever Briz and Xarth think is best (he does not trust Rukul who seems both violent and greedy). They believe it would be best for Dobry to either leave the city and travel east or be hidden among the dwarves. Given the problem with either solution they decide to hide Dobry and his brother then talk to Amer and see if his family can help.
Tiny URL for this post: