Part 1: (Sidebar) Sundown on the Southside

   
Braids smiles as she dusted off some eraser shavings from her parchment. "I thank you, Katariah, for your understanding. I honestly appreciate it." The explorer did not look up and give the bodyguard an encouraging look, mainly because she felt unsure if she should give one. This relationship was just temporary, right? Braids didn't know how long this arrangement would last, and she also knew very little of the woman before her, making her hesitant of forming a strong and lasting bond. She ad to be careful, so she would have to keep a fair distance from her. While the subject ended and they waited for their drinks, though, she did glance once or twice at the woman to watch her. She was an unusual one, for sure.

***

At the sound of the ruckus outside, Braids gave a wary look to the door, and at first thought nothing of it, but there was a slight feeling of dread in her chest, causing the archaeologist to reconsider shuffling her papers back into place. It took her a while, as the papers seemed to be blown away by a gust of wind at an inopportune time. Slightly frustrated, Braids scurried to gather the papers. When she collected them, she would wrap them up in cloth and bind them with twine, putting them away in her pack.

When the mineral water touched the table, Braids nodded at the barkeep as soon as she finished delivering her rounds. She would have said more, if not for the ensuing chaos that built up outside had distracted everyone. At the sound of panic and chaos, Braids sat there and picked up her drink, secretly hesitating on what to do. She was not a brave warrior that swung her sword at the prospect of any incoming danger - she didn't even have a sword, but a few measly daggers at her disposal. It was when both Ameinko and Katariah told her to stay that Braids sighed softly. She nodded to them both with a soft and now relieved look on her face. When a black hand picked up the bodyguards drink, Braids did pause at the sight of it, but seeing as it came from Kat herself, she wasn't immediately alarmed, but it did give her pause to look at Kat while she hurried off.

Staying inside, Braids sighed, and another scream rang out from the woman outside....

She clutched her glass tightly, her face clouded with indecision. As one more wail rang out, she shook her head once, took a quick drink from the glass and got up from her chair. She said nothing as she hustled through the door, trying to catch up.


Upon reaching the square, Katariah rushed forward bearing steel to take on the goblins that were moving toward the helpless girl. Behind her, she heard a soothing sound... a hum holding a single, fluid note. Ameiko Kaijitsu had begun some sort of throaty, far-eastern chant that filled her allies with a feeling of freedom in their movements; a sudden deftness in their step that gave them a slight advantage over their opponents. The humming rose to a higher note, and then another as Ameiko herself also rushed forward to come to the aid of those who were in danger. The Minkai native moved toward the guard who was surrounded, and lashing out with her whip, she wrapped the long, leather weapon around the leg of one of the goblins and swiftly pulled him off of his feet.

The goblins had now completely overrun market square and were destroying or setting fire to everything in sight. One of the knife-wielding bandits toppled over a sculpture on display in the northwestern part of the square, the clay construct breaking in pieces as it hit the ground. To the east, one of the goblins pulled a painting from its stand, and entertained himself by smashing it over the head of one of his companions, leaving his target helplessly wrapped in the wooden picture frame and the one who had done the smashing rolling around on the ground laughing, tearfully tickled by his spontaneously devilish act.

The waif girl struggled as she tried to escape with her work, carrying at least a half dozen of her creations piled in her arms. As she dropped a small drawing on the ground and stopped to pick it up another goblin moved in behind her, swiping at her with his torch. The attack singed the edge of her tattered clothing, but missed doing any serious damage... for now.

The goblins surrounding the guard continued trying to attack him in whatever way they could. The one that Ameiko had just dropped attempted to scramble to its feet, leaving himself open to opportunistic attacks from both Ameiko and the guard. The daring bard barely missed, her whip cracking just beside the goblin's ear, but the guard burried his longblade deep into the goblin's shoulder, releasing a torrent of blood and drawing a painful shriek from the little monster. The bandit's swipe with his dogslicer went wide of its mark, but the torch-wielding goblin on the opposite flank found an opening and managed to badly burn the guard on his right leg.




<Updated Battlemap>


Katariah d'Keleshii Suleiman Saharkar

Katariah's eyes filled with rage as the shrieking goblin darted past her blade to shove a torch of burning pitch at the waif of a girl trying to collect her artwork. "
<A thousand burning deaths are too good for you.>
S'al kelef vishar velem.
" She hisses from between clenched teeth, and leaping forward in one last movement, grabs up the girl with one hand, turning her body to put herself between the girl and further harm.

A hissing laugh, like water droplets sizzling away from hot coals, comes from a pair of bright black flaming eyes and a mouth that has appeared on the aura encircling her. "Ssesheshen, Imalai. As you command, so mote it be." Katariah's face is cold as a tight whip of black flame hurls the contents of the mug, brandy, spices, and all, into the goblin's face. By way of it's torch. FWOOSH goes the brandy, covering the shrieking goblin in a firey cloud.

Katariah's travel-cloak swirls around the girl, protecting her from view, while the ninja's armoured form steps between the girl and the goblins, one arm holding the girl close to her protection while the other wields her mighty sword. She looks down at the thin girl with concern in her dark eyes, the veil and armour and fire lending her a fierce aspect that is softened by her kindly words. "Don't worry
darling, sweet one
mi'ala, you're safe now. I won't let any of these monsters harm
Diplomacky check
you.
"

Leaning over the burning goblin the dark firey aura opens a hole in it's bulk, a firey maw filled with tiny, sharp fires that glitter ominously. Still trying to put itself out, the goblin stumbles and the bite closes on empty air, with a hiss of frustration the firey aura opens it's mouth wide to try again. Katariah's attention is already elsewhere. Her eyes narrow at the two goblins engaged in the destruction of art and having fun. Monsters should act like monsters... try to hurt innocents, and then pretend you're at the fun fair? Take your mockery somewhere else, goblins! She flexes her fingers, and as if by magic, a pair of long, thin needles appear between her fingers, sticking up out of her fist like odd claws. "Ninja Art," Flame starts to flow over her hands, twining itself up the two metal spikes like an odd sort of ivy "Flame Stitching!" Drawing her hand back with a flourish that makes it seem like the spikes have disappeared, she flings her hand forward, and the two needles, trailing a coating of black flame, fly towards the goblin encased in a picture frame, and for a brief second a boiling mass of black flame obscures everyone's vision of the goblin in question. When the illusory flame clears, the goblin is standing stock still and upright, a single wicked long needle standing out of it's eye, and second impaled deeply in it's side, both still red hot and burning. The goblin stands there for a long moment, completely still, face turned skyward, as it's hair starts to smoulder and it's eye bubbles and runs down it's goblin face.

Then it's head explodes. Bits of goblin brain get scattered around it, and the headless, smoking corpse falls face-first onto the hard cobbles.


While Katariah was using the goblins as fodder for her display of pyrotechnics, Ameiko drew her dagger and stepped up on the bandit that had just regained its footing. Using her flanking position to full advantage, she waited until the goblin was preoccupied with the guard and took the opportunity to slip the sharp blade beneath a weak spot in its crude, leather armor, thrusting the dagger deep into her victims side until blood bubbled up from its lungs and it fell in a lifeless heap at her feet.

The goblin nearest to Kat and the waif leaped around shrieking in horror as the alcohol driven flames licked its body. Unaware of its surroundings, the undersized raider left itself open to a viscous strike at the hands of the Keleshite Princess, who brought her greatblade down with full force on the goblins skull, splitting it wide open and killing the runt instantly in a burst of brain matter and blood.

The girl whom Kat had pulled to safety seemed at first to be pretty frightened by the strange woman and the flaming tendrils that leaped out from her body and gnashed at her enemies, but she was comforted by the fact that Ameiko seemed to be an ally of this woman, and gladly submitted to the offer of defense. The girl was clearly frightened by the scene around her as flames were tossed about and heads exploded, but she managed to keep her composure as well as she could. But when Kat split the skull of a goblin just a few feet away, the waif could take no more and doubled over as a wave of nausea forced up her dinner and left her spewing all over Katariah's feet.

Braids watched the scene unfold in wonder, frozen for a moment by the unexpected violence. When she saw that her bodyguard and the unexpectedly adept barmaid turned brawler were now engaged in combat, she carefully crept forward, but as of yet took no offensive actions.

With his flank well-protected, the guard turned fully toward the torch-bearer and swung wide with his longsword with enough force to lop the head right off of the little runt, but he just missed his target. He also missed with another forceful swing as the goblin pyro turned to flee the scene after seeing its partner shanked by Ameiko.

With three of their kin lying dead, the goblins who were still out of reach seemed to weigh their options and decide that staying to fight was not a very good idea. The two farthest north sprinted in the other direction and ducked into the closest ally or down a side street to make their escape.

As the goblin threat was eliminated from Market Square, there were several more loud explosions to the north and you could see colorful bursts of sparks atop the cliff where the Cathedral stood. There was supposed to be a display after the dedication, but these were far from organized, firing off in all directions and even skimming low across the ground where there were surely still spectators present. Meanwhile, more mayhem could be heard coming from farther up Festival Street. You could hear smaller explosions, clashing of steel and more goblins chanting, along with the unmistakable sound of a woman calling out loudly for help!




<Updated Battlemap>

<Reference Map>


Katariah d'Keleshii Suleiman Saharkar

Kat looks down at the young girl suddenly doubling up, and then in understanding as she threw up. What sheltered lives these northerners have, if this is the first blood and gore she's seen. Katariah effortlessly supports the girl's weight while she throws up, her aura of flame enhancing and strengthening her movements to compensate for the weight. She pulls the girl up, though, as soon as she is done, and looks intently into her eyes. "It's okay. You're safe now, the goblins have run away." She smiles encouragingly at the girl, forgetting that her face is hidden by her battle veil. "I need you to do something for me, if you can. That man, over there," She turns aside so that the girl can see the man in question, the town guardsman. "He was wounded by a goblin torch. He shouldn't fight anymore, today. I need you to help him to a healer, and then keep your head down until this blows over. Alright?" With another encouraging smile, and sense of words said that now she has no time for, Kat ruffles the girl's hair, shoulders her sword, and dashes across the square towards the source of the calls for help, hot on the heels of the fleeing and panicking goblins.


Braids watched the battle nervously, her eyes darting between the sword blows and the ensuing chaos. While the odds looked to be not in their favor, it seemed that these goblins were just that, simply goblins, and not organized like soldiers. Plus, as Katariah danced in battle like no other dancer, the archaeologist could see that the woman was incredibly skilled in battle. It seemed that the gold spent was worth it.

She clutched her holy symbol as the battle transpired, which was that of a marble eye, one of the many symbols for Nethys, the All-Seeing Eye. Her heart raced as swords pierced skin, as blood spilled onto the floor. In the span of a few seconds, this small scale of a battle was over, and the remaining goblins had fled. As the battle was over, she looked up at the woman she had traveled with, her gaze now fixated on the black shadow of flame that was with her. Who is she?

And finally, when the bodyguard rushed off to pursue the goblins, her eyes widened. Wait. she called, but the words would not come. Standing there for a moment or two, she forced her body to lean forward so her legs would catch her, as otherwise the pair of them would not dare move. She walked slowly at first, stumbling a bit, passing the girl and the guard. She wanted to say something encouraging as she looked their way, but her mouth was dry, and she came off a wordless mute for a moment. Looking back up ahead, she regained the power to her feet from the feat that numbed them, and took off for Katariah. Her braids bounced against her chest as she moved, and in an unusually coordinated move despite her earlier sluggishness, she deftly drew a dagger from its secured place alongside her right thigh. Then she drew another dagger from the other leg. She held the blades firmly, each one in a hand, their thin blades pointing outwards as she hustled once more.


Katariah and Ameiko were close on the heels of the escaping goblins, and as the undersized invaders tried futily to escape they left themselves open to attacks from their determined pursuers. A thick tendril of dark flame burst out from the Keleshite Princess, forming itself into a wide maw and gnashing hungrily at the throat of one of the pyros, opening a wound across its neck and leaving it lying in a heap as a fountain of fresh blood spurted upward from its severed artery. Ameiko once again lashed out with her whip, wrapping it around the ankles of the second pyro, causing it to fall flat on its face. She called out to the guard who was just a few steps behind her to take care of the fallen goblin, as she retrieved her whip and turned her attention further up Festival Street. Unfortunately, the third escapee was able to disappear down a side alley, his fate uncertain as the sounds of battle surrounded the square. Atop the cliff, the fireworks had ended. There were several small fires burning and a pillar of smoke appeared to be rising from the new Cathedral! Braids advanced a few feet behind the group, and the waif girl, now over her nausea and happy to be out of immediate danger, moved to the other side of the archeologist, but stayed close to her side as the guard moved to finish off the remaining goblin.

<Resolved Market Square Battlemap>

<Reference Map>

As the small group of defenders moved north along Festival Street, the source of the cries for help came clearly into view. Outside of the
23 on the reference map
Sandpoint Theater there was a woman in a long red gown being accosted by a strange looking animal that looked like a dog with its skin turned inside out. The beast, who was no bigger than one of the goblins themselves, was foaming at the mouth and closing in step by step on the woman and her aristocratic, male companion, both of whom looked absolutely terrified. The woman, who was likely one of the actresses in the theater's latest play, was screaming loudly for help. The man, who was probably one of her assistants, appeared to be so scared he couldn't even speak, and when another loud explosion from elsewhere in town took the dog's attention away for a moment, the shaken man took the opportunity to run for cover, leaving the diva alone just a few feet from the snarling creature. Just behind the animal was another goblin, this one wearing a shirt made of animal hide and holding a jagged
goblin polearm
horsechopper. The commando also bore two curved, black horns on its head. Further back there was a second goblin in tattered robes over leather armor. Bearing a wicked, toothy grin, the shaman appeared to be commanding the dog to attack!






<New Battlemap - Outside the Theater>

Braids eyes widen as she sees the horrid animal poised to attack the maiden, and rushes as fast as she can to the scene.

As she ran, her mind raced as she tried to pick the right word for the situation...

<Map>

Dice Roll: 1d20+3z
d20 Results: 12 (Total = 15)
Initiative (15)

The hideous, fire-toothed maw bites down on the shrieking goblin who probably doesn't like flame anymore, pulling him entirely off his feet and into the air, shaking him like a dog until with a wet schrrrriiiiippp half a goblin, on fire, smashes down on the cobblestones along with a brief hail of something wet and uncomfortably warm, quickly followed by his lower half as the huge mouth makes a ptooie noise and grins in delight. "<Ignan><Ah, I will never tire of the taste of these little fleshlings, how they crisp in one's mouth!>"

Katariah doesn't bother to reply, feet pounding as she runs up the street after the one remaining goblin - towards the source of the screams. She turns a corner, and another desperate tableaux, not doubt similar to others being played out all over the town from the sounds of things, a beautiful woman and a man caught by a pair of goblins in front of a garish theatre. However, instead of charging headlong into battle, something gives her pause. The goblins before were clearly amateurs at their first battle, laughing and giggling as if they were at a moonday fair. These goblins, though, wear more serious clothing, and if looking like they are having fun, still seem in control of the situation around them - veterans, in other words. No easy meat for her sword. She knew she would have to approach this situation carefully... but, sarenrae dammit, there's no time! That dog's like to take out that fool woman's throat if I don't act... alright then. With a hoarse shout, Katariah draws the goblins' attention to her, and stopping stock-still in the street, assumes a specific stance, and closes her eyes, leaving her blade in one hand as she pulls the other to her heart and then out.

Strange strings of light follow her hand from her chest, which she quickly scribes into symbols that glow and hang in the air, sparking occasionally. She speaks swiftly, in a strange tongue. "Mel'arydary'b kekuthel anictdas sovieyen samuhl! Padishah du kelesh ki, saryaan ri!" <Ignan><Servants of the Sultan of Laughter, imperaglios of the Palace of Roses, hearken! I, of the padishah blood, of the royal line, command you!> The sigils collapse into a tiny pocket of intermeshed light, which with a pushing motion Katariah sends rocketing down the street with the screaming of displaced air. Directly in front of the startled diva, the glowing light slows and in an opposite motion to the one that collapsed it, whirls outward into a human sized opening, which stays in the air, slowing down as the glowing light was, for a brief second, before a bright light flashes through it.

When everyone's eyes clear, the cobblestones in front of the woman are smouldering with heat, and a roiling puddle of magma is rising through them, twining about a naked woman formed from magma and ash. I hear, and obey, child of the mortal realms. The woman's hands start twining through the air, which is already starting to heat up and fill with ash around her. What do you wish of me?



Defend the singer. Attack the short ones. Taste their blood upon your fires. A sound like tinkling music rolls through Katariah's mind, and it sounds amused. As you wish.


Ameiko Kaijitsu rushed forward alongside Braids in an attempt to protect those under attack, all the while her almost haunting chant lingered. She had dropped the dagger she used to eliminate the goblin back in market square, but she still held her whip curled at her side and ready to strike like a serpent at a moment's notice. As the two moved around the corner of the building to their right, they immediately noticed a second redskinned dog about thirty feet to their east in the middle of the road, and Ameiko hollered out that there was a third lurking behind the edge of the nearest building in that same direction.



The finely-dressed woman was frozen in fear outside of the theater, as was her male cohort who was now cowering against the wall, offering no help whatsoever. The dog closest to her tried to get at the woman, moving around the statuesque, smoldering diva now blocking its path. The summoned creature lashed out with an arm made of molten hot glass, barely missing the dog. Fortunately, the gnashing bite the monstrous canine made against the frightened woman also missed its mark.

The dog that stood further down the road broke into a flat charge toward Ameiko. The Tien daredevil attempted to wrap her whip around its legs to stop it in its tracks before it could close the ground, but her whip was off the mark, and the dog's foaming jaws closed around her hand, ripping open her flesh and leaving a fresh torrent of blood running down her arm. The third dog seemed content for now to slowly creep forward, searching for a weak spot where it could attack.

The fuming, goblin commando took one look at the molten figure, and appeared to conclude that it was the biggest and most immediate threat. Lunging with a swipe of his shimmering pole arm, he connected with full force against the summoned creature's body. The molten child pulsed with a fiery light, and then dissolved directly back into the earth from whence it came.

In the background, the robed figure began waving its gangly hands through the air and muttering strange words in a disturbingly devilish tongue, preparing to invoke some sort of magic. Meanwhile, the threatened actress managed to take a single step back and away as the goblin onslaught continued...




<Updated Battlemap>




 

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