Heroic Figures if You Squint
The desert wind blows hot over the faces of our protagonists, the sun beats them near blind as the heavily laden caravan plods towards it’s destination. The City of Sanctuary is not far from them, but the desert is vast and their journey has been a hard one to sum up in an atmospheric and grandiose manner. Not to mention that you’d probably have been well out of the desert at the time of this story’s beginning but it’s my geography and I’ll do what I want with it.
In the rear, riding a deeply unhappy horse (it is not a camel, it has never been a camel and it resents being treated like one. The rider had better clean this sandy crap out of its shoes or there will be whinnying the likes of which you have never fucking seen) is Lynn. A mysterious figure who prefers to remain hidden, she has chosen one of the most visible spots in the vast open area. Nothing says subtle manipulator of the shadows like riding exposed in the open atop a grumpy horse 17 hands high. No one will think to look for a hidden person in a visible place. The master of the illusory arts remains silent, however, and scans the horizon for threats and conveniently forgotten chests to open.
Pacing impatiently beside the merchant caravan is a beast of a man, laden with intricate tattoos hidden by his heavy coat, though his canonical lack of shirt makes his desire to conceal his demonic markings seem confusing. Life is hard when you unintentional end up rolling ‘Drax the Destroyer’, but Rand Vargas is a man of great power and ambition, who has learned to make peace with his lot in life. Mostly through diableric arts, but people find comfort in odd places (Don’t ask Koroboros about odd places. You will not like the discussion). His rage and violence are tempered by a sweet daughter named Amelia, an energetic child whose incessant and nonsensical questions are kindly referred to as ‘bright’ and ‘interesting’ rather than several of the more accurate adjectives on offer.
At the front of the caravan, conducting an inexplicably agreeable conversation about the merits of ocular confidence and good oral hygiene, is Francesca Il Fortuna. The woman hails from a place she cannot pronounce, though given her name that seems unlikely. A woman of subtle beauty and less subtle interpersonal élan, Francesca is a rare creature in this land: a complete innocent. Why, you could catch her with the knife in her hand and she’d still be offended at your suspicion. This enchantress wanders through cities buoyed by her great skill in the ancient magical arts of total self-delusion. It is a powerful force that has birthed many famous heroes, and got them killed quite soon after.
Within the Caravan, comfortably shielded from the cruel sun, is Thaddeus Sinclair. A man of many talents as long as they involve wanton destruction. Armed with Helga, his one true love, Thaddeus has travelled the surface of the known world with an expression of chagrin and the rubble of his last enterprise still clinging to his clothes. Thaddeus is an unfailingly loyal man, so long as other people are doing the heavy lifting, and he and his crossbow have been in a committed relationship for many years. They were thinking of getting an armoury and retiring to the country, but Thaddeus really wanted to make a final go of that burgeoning criminal enterprise he knew was within him. Love is compromise.
Give No Quarter! Just All Your Possessions!
Upon their arrival at Sanctuary’s first guard post, the ‘Captain of The Third Tower’ and his associates commit vigorous hospitality on our adventurers. They decide to take the path of least resistance and hand over all their worldly possessions before they enter an expensive city full of thieving murderers. Talented combatants these fortune-hunters may be, but blood is hard to get out of clothing, especially when it might be your own.
Thaddeus doesn’t approve of any fight where his enemy isn’t perched upon a trap of his own design, Lynn doesn’t like the foolish tactic of having to look into the faces of her victims, and Francesca is — not cut out for this sort of thing.
Only Rand showed any signs of resistance, the hot-blooded mage was spoiling for a fight and displayed such behaviour by remaining atop his deeply grumpy horse in the line-up, as is the way of his people.
With everyone being flat broke and no longer in possession of weapons, our story starts.
A decision is quickly made to break into the guard tower and steal back their valuables, as well as some turpentine for their merchant friend Yosef, whose merchandise has been slapped with a ‘contraband’ marker. Lynn takes off into the Bazaar to scout the area, Thaddeus and Francesca go into the Maze in search of a tavern where they might stay, Amelia is left in the dubious care of Yosef, and Rand goes off to get wood.
Lynn quickly assesses various key entry points and potential guard posts, and notices something interesting about the movement of the guards.
Thaddeus and Francesca travel deep into the maze in search of a cheap tavern, buildings collapse and people begin to converse, but they are focused on their destination and pay them no mind. Francesca notices something interesting about the houses and businesses in the area. Rooms at ‘The Vulgar Unicorn’ are acquired.
Rand fails to get wood, and wanders back in search of his friends.
Amelia has been redecorated slightly, but the party pay her little mind. The scoundrels construct a viable plan with a system of distractions. There is brief discussion of how they might cover their tracks, but it vanishes with the pressing need of a smoke-bomb. Thaddeus is quick to oblige and quick to provide a hands-on chemistry lesson for young Amelia.
She is once again left in the care of the merchant, the intricacies of childcare forgotten in the face of loot.
Rand manages to get wood.
A Heist By Any Other Name
Our intrepid bunch of rascals (who really need a name) approach the back entrance of Tower 3, and fling a subtle smoke-bomb into the centre of the market square, causing chaos. The lone guard at the rear entrance races to aid his fellow guardsmen in the fight, but is laid out by a highly effective but unnecessary arm to the throat. Lynn hands her pick pocketed keys to Thaddeus and Francesca, who stand about nervously by the door as Rand and Lynn consider how to ensure their needlessly ruined anonymity.
It is eventually decided that the best course of action is to kneel on his throat, weave the spear between his legs, and pierce his heart. As there is no way to pierce a heart with a spear and actually make it look like you tripped, they left the poor guard face down in the dirt.
After stealing through the tower and stealing all of their items back, the group happen upon a pitiful looking boy in a cell. His companion is dead, and he is likely headed that way soon. The boy calls himself ‘Peter’, and he drifts into what must be a more preferable state of unconsciousness.
Though Rand decided that the boy was no business of theirs, Francesca and Thaddeus insisted on carrying the young man out of the cell and away with them. By some miracle, as though all of the guards totally failed to succeed on their dice roll of fate, they managed to carry the boy into the depths of the Maze, and secreted him in their rooms.
While Thaddeus and Francesca attend to the boy, Lynn and Rand are far more interested in a ring they procured, with a strange twisted face adorning it.
Amelia has been banished from the rooms and told to go play in the corridor of the most dangerous tavern in the Maze, so that the sight of the wounded boy and her father’s demonic consultations not traumatise her.
It is fair to say, that the day did not go as planned.