Short prologue to the planned Boulder mini campaign. Takes place in Silverstream, a couple of days before the action starts.
The silvered blade sang as it flew from its sheath. “Lie to me again, old man, and I’ll slit your face,” growled the young knight.
“All right, all right, he was here!” said the bartender, eying the blade at his throat (which he instinctively valued at 83 platinum pieces). “But he only had one drink, alone.”
“Who did he leave with,” demanded the knight, young eyes flashing.
“Him? No one! Just wandered off
“Like he was dreaming, like. Never had it happen before, I swear…”
“And the other gentleman?”
“I never saw ‘im leave, like I said. Honest, sir.” The bartender saw displeasure in the knight’s eyes. Not wanting to be skewered on an 83 platinum piece sword, he thought of something to add. “You know what? I bet the Crowd took him out.”
“The Crowd,” repeated the knight, in disbelief.
“Yes sir! Musta been them. You know how I know?” he went on, quickly. “That lady,” he said, pointing at a woman sitting at a corner table, “has got a jade pendant worth 396 gold pieces, and a ring worth easily 20 plat. Must be Crowd. And he was talking her up, drunk as he was. A couple of the Crowd coulda done him in, just like…”
“Right,” said the knight, putting his silver blade away. Clearly, this source of information was tapped out. The Crowd, indeed… as if the gangsters hadn’t lost any of their own men to the unexplained disappearances. But they operated on the other side of the river, in the Walls district. And this was city-wide.
Mssrs. Hal Sexton and Jon Dara had gone yesterday to this tavern, the Left-Handed Octopus, and never returned. He was fortunate to have caught onto this lead so soon, barely 10 hours later. The bartender mentioned Sexton had a glazed look — consistent with the few stories the knight had heard of other disappearances, where anyone had seen the victim leave. But no one saw where Sexton went. Dara was seen talking to the woman with the jade pendant. Maybe she could be of use.
“Don’t see a lot of ladies in the tavern alone, this early in the morn,” the knight told her. Her braided brown hair swept like snakes behind her head as she turned to look.
“I’m staying here,” she told him. Her accent was strange, the knight couldn’t place it — Kamese, maybe? She didn’t have an Oriental face, but round, deep green eyes, and was dressed in the local style, a simple grey “Would you care to sit with me, milord?”
“How did you know I was a ‘milord?'” he chuckled, taking the offered seat.
“I could see it in your face,” she smiled at him. The knight thought he saw her lick her lips, but the motion was so fast that he barely glimpsed her tongue; he imagined for a fleeting moment it was forked.
“Last night, there was a young man talking to you…” he began.
“Oh, he was nothing,” she assured him, halfway grinning. She started playing absentmindedly with her jade pendant. It seemed to be in the shape of a serpent.
“Er, yes,” said the knight, distracted by the sunlight, reflected green. “But could you tell me where he went?”
She didn’t reply. The woman kept fingering her jade amulet. He stared at its strange beauty for a few moments before he remembered himself. “Ah, I said, could you tell me…”
“Of course, sweet milord,” she said, smoothly, still flashing green light from her pendant into his eyes. “I’ll tell you everything. I shall speak the truth, and you need only listen. Listen to my voice…”
The knight blinked, momentarily confused as the woman stood up. Then he smiled vacantly, and stood to follow her out. He remembered now. She was going to lead him to where the others had gone. He trusted her…