Rise of the Savage Runelords

03 - Cold, dead merchants... (continued)

Logan looked over his shoulder at the motley bunch behind him and winced, wishing not so much that he were back home, more that these guys just weren’t here. This group had taken ‘lesser of two evils’ to new extremes.

He turned to face Pagor and leaned closer to him, lowering his voice.
“So you are expecting to be staying here in sandpoint for a while, yes?” he said quietly.
“I expect that calls for a celebration” interrupted the elf. “Drinks on you when we get back?”
Logan grimaced and decided talking quieter only made people listen more closely.
“Free beer? Aye, sounds good!” belched the dwarf, his ears ever keen when food or drink was on the table. “You buying then?” Nighthorn added.

Pagor looked back and shook his head, “Well, I told you already that was one free lunch. I can’t afford any more”

“Dwarf, Nightthorn….” Logan looked behind him for a minute, then drew a hammer and smashed a hole in a crate in the wagon. “SHADDUP!”

Tia leaned over and drew Nighthorn’s indignant attention to something in the back of the cart. Presumably, the contents of the crate…

“So, as I was saying, you intend to stay in town?”

Pagor nodded. “I was thinking so.”

Logan nodded. “I thought so. Well, no doubt you being a friend of Ameiko’s, you would be expecting to stay at the Rusty Dragon eh?”

“Well, we do go back a long way. I was going to ask if she had a room spare, yes.”

Logan looked thoughtfully ahead of them. “Well, she would, of course, turn out a room for you. Probably Rhula’s, actually. But I don’t think this is such a good idea yes?”

Pagor looked confused for a second. “I don’t follow you.”

Logan patted the Orcs arm reassuringly. “Look, look, I’ve seen you handle yourself and you can look after yourself without resorting to, shall we say, typical Orcish tactics. Ameiko says you are trusty and that is enough for me to be convinced, that’s why I’ve brought you along with us, try to make you feel at home, eh?”

“Yes, very exciting, thanks..”

Logan looked earnest. “But look here, until you earn yourself a reputation in this town you will scare children, you will scare customers and you won’t be welcome in the town. Neither will the people that do business with you.”

“What are you trying to say Logan?”

“He says you’re a filthy c*nt” Drek offered.

Logan picked up a broken piece of crate and threw it at the dwarf.

“Ameiko is a respected business woman and since the unfortunate deaths of her family, "

“Brutal and very bloody… " Nighthorn added

“And since the unfortunate deaths, she is now the head of her family, and she doesn’t realise she has a more important role to play. She is a very proud woman and she is fiercely independant,” Logan continued

“Aye, a fiesty one that.” Drek mumbled.

“Spirited, for a woman whose entire family were horribly brutally murdered I think” Nighthorn was now ignoring Tia’s attempts to keep him entertained.

“Aye, aye” Drek slurred. “Word is she goes like a shit house door when the plagues in town…”

Pagor and Logan both looked fondly lost in thought for a minute, then both shook their heads clear.

“In any case. She is the kind of woman who would defy all townsfolk who thought it would be a mistake to have you in her tavern, a well respected and high quality establishment, which has…” Logan glanced at the people in the back “.. Uh.. Generally well respected clientele… Anyway.. Not the sort of people who would stick around in a bar where an Orc was known to be staying.”

“Well, I do get treated a bit off, I guess” Pagor nodded thoughtfully.

“Yes, yes.. People don’t see the real you, they just see a savage Orc.
Ameiko wouldn’t ever think she could turn you away and would possibly lose her business sticking to her principles.”

“She is the sort” Pagor nodded.

“Yes, so of course, with all the trouble with the family politics and the vacuum her family have left behind, and all the worries of the glassworks and everything, Ameiko would ruin her standing in the town if you stayed. She absolutely must think that you’ve already got somewhere to stay and it’s somewhere where you want to stay, rather than at the Rusty Dragon. I would think if you really cared about her, and I can tell that you do,”

“Yeah I do”

“Well, then I think you, hiding a thoughtful mind underneath that helmet, would see it’s is for the best for Ameiko that you stay somewhere more.. suitable.. Say the Fat Man’s Feedbag?… When youre reputation improves a little, maybe stay at the White Stag, this is where I stayed when I came to town… "

“I don’t know,” Pagor pondered

“Look at it another way,” Logan leaned closer “If you stay at the same Tavern as the guys in the back, they will bleed your purse dry for free food and drink. They will bankrupt you in days…”

Pagor looked back at the elf, giving him a toothy grin and a thumbs up… and at the Dwarf, leaning over scratching his backside and muttering something about having had to leave his last ‘deposit’ half way through.

As the wagon rocked and swayed down the Lost Coast Road, the night drew closer and the rain became a downpour. The conversation gave way to hunkering down miserably to find some shelter from the cascade of water sheeting down from the heavens.

The ancient road hugged the coastline for several miles. The waves crashed against the tall cliffs far below and the seagulls screamed their fury at the dark skies. Ahead, the sporadic lightning gave glimpses of a large imposing building built out on a tall bluff. The road curved around and then headed inland, leaving the roar of the sea behind quickly.

“What was that place?” Pagor asked Logan.
“I’m not sure, perhaps I will ask Ameiko when we return.”
“Or I could ask her…”

Logan turned and fixed a look at Pagor.

“Perhaps you could. But it will be easier for me, as I live at the rusty Dragon, while you will be speaking to the Fat Man about lodgings, won’t you?”

Pagor ignored the stare and kept his eyes fixed on the road ahead. He grunted once noncommittally and the conversation ended.

The road headed further inland, a brooding forest a constant companion on the north side of the road, to the south, wide open fields and meadows full of late-season crops ready for harvest.

After several more miles, Pagor pulled the wagon up and looked at a carefully painted wooden sign that read “Saintly Haven of Respite”. Pagor grunted and turned the wagon onto the narrow track.

The corrupt and depraved duergar was almost chirpy as night closed in. Those with the misfortune of spending time with Drek knew how he despised that burning orb and the daylight it created.

Something Logan had said gave him pause though, the thought of missing out on the interrogation spurs the corpulent cleric into something resembling action. Drek scrambles to the front of the cart and fixes Logan with that now familiar dead fish eye stare.

“Listen ‘ere longshank. This crackpot knows a thing or two about my murdered merchants and he’s gonna spill … one way or the other.”

Drek rummages around and finally recovers the stolen clerical garb. He killed that sap months ago and it showed; the clobber was caked in filth and foulness. Struggling to stretch the vestments over his bloated gut he turns to the warden and grins a vile and murderous grin.

“I am Ramel Ramelson, the Chosen of Yilas Frosthammer”

An amber light plays across those strange white eyes for a heartbeat, dancing like flames in furnace.

“You’ll get your turn Dwarf. Lady Tia and I need to speak to the boy first, get some sense out of him. Once we’re done, you get whatever…
else.. you need. But I’m not sure you want to be talking to him about your own ‘business’ with the rest of us in the room, eh?”

Logan doth raise an eyebrow and fix the short prossie-poo-bin a knowing look.

The slaver priest nods and chews his beard thoughtfully for a moment.

“Aye, right you are Logan… so long as The God gets his pound of flesh.”

“Well, I doubt very much the boy did this, but maybe he saw who, or rather what, did. Then all we need to do is find it and not die trying to kill it. That’s why we’ll release the squinty eyed man tomorrow. Mad though he is, he can handle a blade well.”

The wagon pulled up outside the squat, stone building that serves as the sanatorium. The sanatorium comprised three floors under a stout stone-flagged roof, which was built in the lee of the limestone escarpment known as Ashen Rise. There was a brisk sense of cleanliness and order that filled the area, and despite the rain there was a somewhat sour smell of burning incense somewhere nearby.

The heroes headed to the large wooden front door and pulled the bell chain. After a short time, well-maintained bolts could be heard being slid free and the door swung open. A sombre looking man, mid-thirties with black hair and dark rings under his eyes looked at the party expectantly.

“How may I help you?” He looked at the dwarf, nodded simply and looked up at Logan. “You are here seeking respite care for an unfortunate soul I take it?”

“Actually, I was hoping we could see Rayste Sevilla, a young man brought in here in the last couple of days.”

The man tilted his head to one side “It really is beginning to get a bit late for visitation, sir, and with respect you don’t much look like family”

“I am here assisting the town guard in an investigation into some recent murders. Lady Tia here and I work in the interests of the town militia, the mayor and the church. The other three here are…
people… who… come along to these things…”

“Do yer reckon any of the inmates here are lookin fer gainful employment?” Drek said to the custodian.

“Ah, you are the heroes of Sandpoint aren’t you?.. Well, you must come in, come in”

Logan thanked the man and they all entered the main hall, in from the rain. Logan leaned closer and said “Lady Tia and I should like to speak to the man first, on our own. I’m not sure the others should be involved, at least for our first discussion. We may want the Elf in later but we need to figure out his state of mind, since if it’s too fragile, the Elf may drive him over the edge completely…” Logan nodded reassuringly. “Perhaps they could get a tour or see some other, lower risk patients… they would probably enjoy that.”

“Ahem, a tour? I think not…this is a centre for respite and care. Not a tourist attraction!” The orderly says primly. “There is a waiting room through here. I will call Master Habe who will no doubt wish to accompany you during your interview. For the record, I very much doubt you will glean anything useful from Rayste, he is a very sick man and not terribly cogent.”

The orderly waved in the direction of an austere room with several benches and chairs arranged in a circle and then scurried away…

A few minutes later he returned with a very clean, simple looking gentleman in his late fifties. He smells strongly of lavender soap and smiles without it ever reaching his eyes.

“My name is Master Habe, I understand you are with the Sandpoint town guard and wish to interview a patient? I must say, it is very inconvenient and I resent my work being interrupted like this.”

He put his hands on his hips and looks expectantly at you.

Tia steps forward and with her best smile says, “Erm…yes…our investigations into a bout of murders leads us to believe that Rayste is a very important witness. The interruption is unavoidable but we do apologise. It would be greatly appreciated if we could see Rayste without delay.”

Master Habe sighed and indicated the heroes should follow him. Leading the way he talks excitedly about his most interesting patient…

--x——

Sorry guys, did want to write a whole scene but time has slain me today…so here’s a somewhat less than ideal information dump that you get from Master Habe and/or talking to Grayste himself…

- Grayste Sevilla was brought in by the town guard after he attacked a routine patrol…all the signs of mental illness… - Grayste is found crouching in the corner of his cell, sobbing and screaming. His skin is pale and looks gangrenous, his eyes milky and his wild. Its obvious that he’s very sick and actually close to death…closer than you would expect in a place of healing and respite in fact… - Closer examination, especially by Rhula and/or Tia leads to the almost certainty that he is suffering from the later stages of ghoul fever. - From Habe, it seems that Grayste’s mental trauma was caused by him bearing witness to some unspeakable horrors. - Grayste talks constantly, mostly incoherent mubling but the occasional phrase can be determined…“razors”…“too many teeth”…“the Skinsaw Man is coming”…“he knows where you live”…“he cut them”…“seven points for His Lordship”…he is seemingly unresponsive to physical threats, slaps, questions or anything…he just mumbles over and over the same thing each time… - But when he sees Tia properly for the first time his eyes bulge and he thrashes in his straitjacket until you can hear joints pop and bones snap. All the while he’s laughing and screaming “He said! He said you would come and visit me. Rhual. His Lordship told me your name. A hero from Sandpoint, and so beautiful. It has to be you. Rhula, his Lordship’s precious. He knew. He unmade me and he has a place for you. A precious place. I’m sooo jealous. You are special. He told me to give you a message. I haven’t forgotten. He said that if you come to his Misgivings, if you join his pack, then he will end this harvest in your honour…” - after delivering his message he collapses and issues a low moan. A moan that rises to a shriek and he lurches to his feet. He is limited by the dislocated shoulders and broken arms as well as the straitjacket but he is undeterred. He attacks wildly and without self-preservation. The orderlies rush in to subdue him. In the ruckus, Rayste goes limp and lies still. When the dust settles, he is very very dead. It seems his heart gave way… - A post mortem examination reveals a festering bite on his shoulder. It stinks of rotten dead flesh…

Asking Habe nicely , he will allow the corpse to travel back to town with you…he provided a small cloth sack with some personal effects…when you get a chance to examine these they comprise:

- a small money pouch containing 24gp - a letter of introduction, from Silas to the three merchants, introducing Grayste as his representative and inviting them to Sandpoint to take a tour of the facilities and to discuss a possible business venture that will make them all very rich… - a set of ripped and bloodied clothes…lots of blood in the shoulder region

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