Episode 45: the Heist, Part 1
The assassins closed on the party in two groups and battle was joined. The assassins moved with a fluid, dancer-like martial grace which had the effect of confusing the eye and making it difficult for melee attackers to land a hit. To make matters worse, the cavern in which was found the main entrance to the Pashtum Bank contained anti-magic security that saw any attempt to cast a spell met with increasingly powerful electrical shocks issued from an array of white crystals embedded in the cavern walls. Thus as the party’s casters worked to defeat their attackers, they were met with strike after strike of lightning damage.
The assassins coordinated their attacks, first attempting to slay Yuna to remove her healing magics from play and then focusing on Keen. But despite the element of surprise and advanced martial training they were quickly outmatched by the party; the lead assassin was cut down by a series of vicious attacks from Magnus; Keen, armed now with both the Punisher and Tak’s enchanted dancing sword “Levani” took down two others. Yuna repeatedly healed the party despite the dangers of the anti-magic system; Magnus’s mystical bond with Yuna allowed him to absorb much of that damage.
Sirlius and Ara quickly handled the remaining three attackers. Ara’s training quickly overpowered one while Sirlius charmed a second foe, and together they dispatched the final remaining assassin.
Ara then attacked the charmed assassin, whereupon the spell was broken and, realizing they were alone and faced certain death the assassin dropped their scimitar and dagger and begged for mercy. She (for their attackers all turned out to be young women) surrendered, and while Ara was inclined to slay her anyway, Magnus restrained her and the party began an interrogation.
They learned that the young woman and her comrades were all students of Madame Elethi’s Finishing School For Girls, a school in which Umani women of noble birth are taught etiquette, art, and business. They are also, it turns out, trained to be assassins-for-hire. They were sent here to execute a contract on Keen, though without much information: they were given a location, detailed description of their target, and instructed to announce the salutation from Henry Smalls before they completed the contract.
The young woman was indentured to the school in order to pay off her father’s debts to Madame Elethi, and the contract on Keen was in fact a “final examination” of sorts, after which she was meant to become a freelancer, working contracts for Madame Elethi in order to clear the debt. But by surrendering rather than dying in the attempt to fulfill the contract, she had forfeited her life and that of her father’s to Madame Elethi, and begged the party to let her go, so that she and her father could run from the city and perhaps evade Madame Elethi’s wrath.
Magnus took pity on her and released her, giving her some pocket money and directions to the Temple of Syf in Whitebridge. Before she left, the party asked the woman if she knew anything about Sabetha. The would-be assassin, already fearful for her life, was overawed upon realizing that the party was the same group who had repeatedly stood against Sabetha, of whom she was clearly terrified. The fact that she had been sent to slay one of this group was enough to bring the woman to tears. She thanked the party for their mercy and ran with due haste out of the cavern.
Two strange things were noted by the party during the fight: first, despite Sirlius’s claims of a pact with a dark and eldritch power, his spellcasting seemed to result in random, decidedly-un-eldritch after-effects; bubbles, flowers and colorful streamers seemed to coalesce from the arcane energies he drew forth. Second, Ara’s reticence in the face of violence seemed absent, and he dispatched his foes with a viciousness and bloodlust that was most out of character for the gentle, confused Elf. He even suggested repeatedly that their prisoner, surrendered and unarmed, deserved death for daring to attack the Fist of the North Wind.
While the party discussed these latest complications, Magnus looked over the bodies of the five slain assassins. He discovered no clues as to the contract, the client, or their whereabouts, and no identifying marks of any kind. He examined one of the concealable crossbows the assassins had used, a clever mechanical design using a wood and brass mount, coiled tension springs and leather bracer to conceal it on the fore-arm. He stowed one in his pack, and the party, anxious to be away from the Bank and its security system, quickly made for the Fourth Tier and secured lodgings at the first inn they could afford.
After a long evening in the inn during which the party learned some of Keen’s history with “Handsome” Henry Smalls, saw him manifesting magic powers for the first time, and were visited by Sabetha, they awoke on the morning of the day of Danta Kosht’s proposed heist of the Pashtum Bank.
Encouraged by the oily black voice of his arcane patron in his mind, Sirlius again made to touch the raven’s feather stowed in Levani’s pack. Keen noticed too late what he was doing, and despite attempting to tackle Sirlius and keep him away from the feather, the tiefling warlock’s red-skinned fingers grasped the strange object, and the party was immediately subjected to a vision. They found themselves standing on the Shore, that strange realm-between-realms that is a physical manifestation of the boundaries of the Sea of Chaos. A black dragon, large enough to fill the sky with its vast body beat its mighty wings over the waves and made to land among them, before the vision abruptly changed.
Now the party found themselves standing in a wide passageway carved into solid rock, brilliantly lit by enclosed oil sconces that gleamed across the white marble slab floor. At the end of the passageway was a great square room, dozens of feet on all sides, entirely empty but for a circular dimensional portal hanging in the air at its center. Sirlius approached the swirling grey-black energy, reciting a series of numbers. He reached out, saying “The Dragonhead,” and plunged his arm into the portal whereupon the swirling energies seemed to solidify into a sort of living shadow, black and thick. The portal lashed out from the center to envelop Sirlius entirely and in an instant had pulled him in.
The vision faded, and the party found themselves back in the inn. The voice of Sirlius’s patron echoed in their mind, saying, “Finally! What’s with you guys?” This was accompanied by the strange certainty that the feather’s function was to grant the party visions of a possible future, and was a powerful, if strange, gift.
The party made their way to the main floor to break their fast, whereupon a messenger arrived with a note from Sabetha, encoded in Thieves Cant in response to Keen’s message sent previously. They were to meet on the Fourth Tier, at the gate to the Fifth, at noon. The note also indicated they should be “prepared to climb.”
Having no climbing gear to speak of, Keen led the party through the merchants quarter of the Fourth Tier. They eventually found a shop that seemed to cater to wealthy dilettantes looking to give the impression of a dangerous, adventuring lifestyle, called Panaver Knacklebun’s House of Adventerous Wisdom. Inside the shop, Ara and Keen was greeted by a tiny imp familiar and Panaver himself, an ostentatious gnome who all but threw the bloodstained, dirty rogue out on sight. Keen badgered the gnome into showing him the shop’s limited quantity of functional sporting gear, including climbing equipment, but the gnome refused to entertain selling to Keen, believing there was no way he could afford the shop’s prices. Keen and Ara thanked the belligerent gnome and left.
Keen suggested robbing the shop, and convinced Ara that he both knew Panaver, and was just “borrowing” the gear. Despite his suspicion Ara was convinced, and so Sirlius entered the shop to distract the surly Panaver while Keen sneaked around to the back of the building. He found a wide set of doors for loading shipments into the basement, broke in, and in an impressive display of thievery avoided both Panaver and his imp while grabbing all the climbing gear and making his escape undetected.
Having secured as much climbing gear as they were likely to do without a long trip back down to the lower tiers of the city, the party made their final preparations to meet Sabetha, break into Pashtum Bank, and finally recover the Dragonhead coin, hoping to do so before whatever designs the mobster Danta Kosht had could be realized.
Edgelord Warlock Rating: So Pretty!
Umani Classism Level: Pervasive
Divine DM Insertions: 1
RP Rating: Awesome!