Chapter One recap, part 2

It was late when we got to Keegan’s locksmith shop. We didn’t think we had time to wait. The kidnappers had a full day’s lead. Getting inside his shop was relatively easy. Finding answers was not.

Keegan planted himself behind his counter, in front of a curtain. He was brusque. He was not about to tell us anything. We needed to get behind that curtain. We needed a diversion.

In the guise of warming her hands at the fire, Myntilly thoughtfully set her own cloak on fire. Suddenly we all panicked. Myntilly artfully fanned the small flame as she appeared to be trying to squelch it, all the while muttering “Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness!” like a silly old woman. Sadi shouted for water and Keegan ran behind the curtain, Cinder at his heels. Ilea tried to contain her mirth.

Sadi realized that Keegan might be back too soon. She flung aside the curtain and found the stairs up to Keegan’s living quarters. Behind the curtain were several locked chests. Cinder worked quickly to unlock them. To give her more time, Sadi tripped Keegan and made him spill the water bucket. Cursing her clumsiness, he refilled it. Sadi attempted to push him down the stairs. Although it failed, the noise was tremendous and it gave Cinder the chance to hide among the chests.

By the time Keegan arrived in his waiting room, with half a bucket of water, we’d put out the fire. We hadn’t fooled him, not entirely, and I think he took pity on us. He said, with eyes raised to the ceiling, “Let’s go get a drink. We can’t talk here.”

I’m sure we all felt a moment of triumph — he’d forgotten about Cinder! And she would get a chance to snoop!

Keegan confided in us that he was being forced to make skeleton keys to all of his locks. Some bad people had stolen his familiar, a rat named Starbrow. They would hurt or kill Starbrow if Keegan disobeyed.
Later he confided further: his house was always guarded, alway occupied by invisible creatures. We knocked over benches in our haste to leave the pub.

Cinder had very good luck in her search. She found a map and a spellbook. She was just resetting the disarmed trap on Keegan’s bedside table when she heard Myntilly’s voice in her ear: “You are not alone.”

We arrived in time to help Cinder fight off two invisible creatures. She was hurt badly and we are lucky she didn’t die. Keegan showed us the secret entrance to the Gnomish city of Jzadirune. It was conveniently located under his stairs.
Thus ends part 2.

Chapter One recap, part 1

Now that we are at the end of our first adventure (or perhaps I should say that we have ended a chapter of this story) I want to go back and wrap up the events that led us here.
I joined this band in a little town on the edge of nowhere. The local folks (including an acquaintance of mine, the innkeeper, Frida) were nervous about a stranger who”d moved to the town. Strange lights, strange sounds, strange faces surrounded his house.

The group lacked a main healer, so I joined up. It didn”t take us long to discover the secret of the wizard”s house. The townspeople were right: there were strange things connected to the house. The basement led to an underground system of caves. I fought my first sponge creature there. Later we joked about the ex-foliating properties of the creature”s limbs. Its skin was loofa-like.

The true source of the strange lights and sounds was unlike anything I”d seen in my travels and I hope to never see its like again. It was a troglodyte disco. The human slave we rescued was a handsome young man named Griffon. He came from Cauldron. He”d been kidnapped from his house and sold to the wizard and his troglodyte minions. We escorted Griffon to Cauldron and there found ourselves drawn deeper into Griffon”s kidnapping.

Some of our group were sad to learn that Griffon was engaged to be married. He had been kidnapped days before the wedding. Worse still (as we learned when we arrived in Cauldron) his bride-to-be, Haley, had vanished just days before our arrival. In talking with Haley”s parents, we found out that lots of people were disappearing. Griffon had been one fo the first, but the kidnappings had continued, unabated. In truly tragic fashion, four children from the orphanage disappeared the night before.

With reward money offered, we decided that we would make inquiries about the children. On our way to the orphanage, we passed by a man being beaten in an alleyway. It was three against one. Cinder, our rogue, climbed up the side of the building to get a better look. The rest of us waded into the fight. Who was right and who was wrong didn”t matter as much as three against one. Cinder leaped down on one of the attackers; Ilea laid into one with her great axe. Since I didn”t know who was good or bad, I aimed my mace swings at the attackers” knees. The attackers tried to run away from the suddenly even fight. They were dressed in dark clothes and their faces were painted half white and half black. Later in jest Sadi called them the Yin-Yang Gang and the name stuck. The victim was a young cleric of St. Cuthbert named Rufus. We escorted him back to his church. We were given an audience with the head of the church — I should say the acting head of the church. She was very nice and we were rewarded with a prophecy from St. Cuthbert. I do not agree with all of their tenets, but I know they revile evil as much as we Pelorians do.

We continued to the orphanage and they were helpful. One of the four children kidnapped was an odd boy named Terrem. I filed that information away for later. The matron of the orphanage suggested we check with the locksmith, Keegan. Those were his locks that had been breached by the kidnappers.
Thus ends part 1 of the recap.

My Past

In his later years my father became a rich man. His friends would slap him on the back, wink at me and say “Gold sticks to your father’s fingers; you are a lucky girl!”

I was happier when we were poor. The long dusty days of walking behind the wagon, my sister, Persia, and I talking and laughing. My father was a rug salesman, a traveling rug salesman — the lowest rung on the ladder. I remember the laughter and the singing. I was eight when my brother Ahmad was born. He was early — we were far from a town or even a village. It was a hard birth. I think in some ways my mother died that day.

As we made our way to the capital city, Ahmad died. Father said that Pelor had welcomed Ahmad back into the sky, but I wondered. Mother was nothing but a figure, asleep in the back of the wagon most of the time. We were within sight of the capital, a few days more of dusty travel, when Persia started complaining of pains in her stomach. I started crying at the blood, but my father assured me that Persia was fine; she was simply no longer a child.

I sat up that night and watched my father stare at the campfire. He was silent. His eyes looked empty in the dim light. In the morning I woke to see him and Persia packing a satchel with her clothes. “Where are you going? You are sick, aren’t you?” I cried.

She rushed over and assured me that Father was taking her to the city first. He knew of a wealthy rug merchant who would be happy to foster her for a few years. She said, “Now that I am a woman and Mother cannot teach me, I must go and live with this family.” Her eyes were wet with tears, but I could tell that she was excited to be going. I did not see her for almost 8 years.

My fathers business began to grow, seemingly overnight people sought out his stall and bought his rugs. As the saying goes, “he shook the sand from his slippers and gold coins fell out.” Mother did not improve, but nor did she decline. I floated down quiet corridors of our house, lonely for Persia and for the happy days on the road.

My fate was to marry some merchant’s son and have babies. I’d always known this and I didn’t know that anything else could befall me. The parade of prospective husbands began in my 16th year. They were of a kind to me — not that my opinion mattered. This was between fathers, this joining of dynasties.

On a day I was to be fitted with the beginnings of my bridal costume, I discovered the truth of my father’s wealth. At sixteen I was finding a seed of rebellion inside me. I slipped away from my chaperon, an ancient maid my father had gotten to help with polishing my manners. I was in a part of the city I did not know when I heard my sister’s voice. It was on the other side of a wall. I followed the curve of the wall with sudden hope that I could see Persia again.

The stones of the wall were old, cracked and dark with mosses. I slid my hand along them, barely breathing. This must be, I thought, the courtyard of the wealthy family! The wall ended in a door. I could not go any further this way and I was afraid to try to follow the wall the other way — I might be caught by my chaperon. So I knocked on the door.

A small door at about eye level slid open. A voice said, “Do you seek The Reaper, child?”
“I want to see my sister, Persia, please. She lives here!”
“Those who follow Nerull do not have sisters or brothers. We bring darkness to all.”
I couldn’t see the face that spoke these words and I was confused. “This is a church? It’s not a house? A wealthy rug merchant’s house?”
“Ah. Is it wealth you seek? We can help you there. Nerull rewards his children with wealth…… and other prizes. Do you wish to join us? Say the words and I will open the door.”

The voice was inviting and repulsive at the same time. I backed away shaking my head. I heard laughter as I ran back the way I’d come. It was a short matter to discover that the church of Nerull — worshipers of the god of death, darkness and murder — accepted acolytes and that sometimes the god granted a wish to the family of the child……. a wish for wealth.

My Books

NaNoWriMo 2014

Friends and Favorites