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03/08/998: Late Morning, Blackbeam.

 
Green Willy ushers Jack back inside. Priss follows as he heads back into the privacy of his office. She tries to slip inside, but he closes the door after giving her an admonishing look.

Willy rubs his face wearily, taking a deep breath before he begins to speak.

Green Willy

"I don't think I'm doing you any good by telling you about this. These are dangerous times. Back when the Brotherhood was in charge, we were left alone for the most part. We knew where we could go, and where we couldn't. What palms to grease."

"But that's changed, and there's a power struggle. I didn't want us to get crushed in the middle of it. So when I was approached by the
Knowledge Local, please. They are a very secretive organization, not at all widely known, but Willy knows that you know a lot about the workings of the city. He'd assume that you at least know that the Praetor Syndicate is a group of assassins for hire, many of whom are non-human. You do know that much, automatically based on your KnLocal skill, but how much more you know depends on the roll. LOL, Jack probably knows more than Willy, though Willy wouldn't realize that.
Praetor Syndicate, I made a deal. But I didn't know who they were dealing with in turn. When I signed up under their protection, somehow I wound up involving us in some kind of
The term 'infernal' is used colloquially here, and refers generally to the lower planes, not specifically to the Nine Hells.
infernal pact."

"That boy... he was marked. His father made a deal with the same sort of creatures the Praetor is dealing with. He came to me because he wanted help. He wanted to sign up with us, to leave his father's protection."

"I think the way it works is that, according to their
Now that would seem to indicate that the deal was specifically Infernal.
laws, the soul of the son belongs to the father. While the kid was under his father's care, he was like property. He actually knew more about this than I do. He said he read the contract."

"So, he came to me. I don't know where a kid like him heard about us, but he tried to... change owners, if you catch my meaning. But what he didn't know was that I'm pretty much in the same boat as his old man. I didn't know it either, until just a while ago."

"I think, if he was left helpless outside, then that thing must've seen a chance to collect on the father's debt. No, I'm not mentioning names. I'm not sure you should be involved in this at all."

"Just be happy you're not a Greenarm. That's all I can say."

Jack Dawton

Jack blinks a couple times. "They... " He stops, and blinks again, and then says, more softly. "You signed a deal with infernals!?" He stops. He takes a deep breath. Jack runs a hand through his short brown hair, and takes another deep breath. "You can't just unsign...? No, that's not how this works." Biting into a knuckle, a sign of deep thought and a childish habit he thought he was long behind, Jack frowns at the floor. "But I wouldn't have thought the Praetor..." He looks up at Willy again, and blinks. "You're going to need to bring Priss in on this. All those books she reads..." Jack from habit more than anything else turns and looks at the door for a moment, and then back at Willy. "She's gotta know somethin' bout demons." He shivers. "The Praetor... I don't see how you can break this deal with them, either, without some kinda sureties. They're gonna wanna know why, and I know they ain't so friendly in their askin'. 'Specially if they're making some kind of play for the Brotherhood's position here in the 'aven." Jack shakes his head. "Light, Willy, you really made a mess o' things, aven't ye?" His words are harsh, but his tone is less so, more like wryly stating the facts before getting to work, a pleaful wish on decisions that seemed reasoned at the time but have not turned out so. In other words, an almost tacit acknowledgement that he doesn't hold Willy to blame for this, or at least far less so than the dashing leader of the Greenarms already holds himself.

A moment of thoughtful silence while the urchin cleans under his fingernails, a contemplative activity for any child of the street, and then Jack speaks up. "There're some new arrivals in town. And not any usual ones. Very un'the usual, ya might say. Some o' them are staying at Momma Toki's." He pauses again, the words passing his lips with the greatest of difficulty, like he's prying blood from a stone. "They're acting on behalf o' someone else. All secret-like, but they're here for a slice o' the pie. A big slice. But they're new. They need someone ta show them around town like. Someone like us." Jack twitches with the effort of giving up secrets, even for such a good cause. "Mebbe if'n they owed you, or thought you were a slice o' that pie, they might be able ta deal with tha Praetor. Or weaken them enough someone else could topple'em." Jack looks up at Willy a slight glinting of a glint glinting in his eye. "It's tha longest of long shots, but it's the best one you got. Oh, and stock up on that stuff wot kills demons. Garlic, ain't it?" I can never scarl that swallop, Jack thought to himself roughly, remembering that kind lady with the hands that shot fire. What had her name been? Chasteny? Chassy? Something like that. But his first loyalty was to the greenarms. Where had she been when he'd been out on the streets, lonely as a stung-out bee, all his hard earned craft deserted from him in the grief that threatened to tear out his soul? Nowhere, that's where. Angrily pushing those thoughts down, far down where they couldn't seep back up, Jack fastened his attention on Willy. "Either way, Willy, ya gotta get rids of them. None of the lads'll be safe if there's demons aboot."


Green Willy

"If you have connections that might help, then I'd be much obliged to you if you can arrange a meeting. If I go in cold, that might not go over so well. But I'd like to know who I'm dealing with first... I made that mistake already, and I'm not inclined to repeat it anytime soon."

Willy's brow furrows.

"Priss. I'm keeping her as far away from this as I can. She thinks I don't listen to her, and I'm keeping it that way. I'll make some casual mention of demons or devils or what-not, and she'll spout out what I need to hear, along with a lot that I don't."

He sighs.

"There's something going on with her, too. I haven't got all the facts yet, but I'm not letting on that I know anything at all. She's been having these crazy dreams about some monster sleeping under the city. Keeps waking up in a fright, saying it stirs."

Willy gives a shudder, then falls silent for a moment.

"Just watch out who you mention the name of the Praetor to," he adds after a moment. "They have mind-readers, I hear. Don't want to make dead men out of allies, or at least allies in the making."

"I swear, all this... never thought I'd miss the Brotherhood, but those were simpler times."

Jack Dawton

Jack mulls it over. And then mulls it over a bit more. He looks up, snub-nosed "Okay, Willy." He says, slowly, "I'll prime'em right up for ya. But..." He pauses. "I only jus met'em today. I dunno. But they've got ta be better'n demons." The young boy rubs at his eyes. Damn, but those bunk beds at Mama's are restful. Better not sleep there too much or e'll lose his 'ard-earned edge. Jack looks up at Willy for a moment, searching fer something. "Willy... jus' hold it together, aye? We'll work a way out of it, no worries." Reaching out hesitantly, he pats the older boy on the back. "Okay, well, umm. Seeya." Turning to go, Jack halts just outside the door, looking back slowly, his eyes hard as flint. "And Willy... anything is better than the Brotherhood. I'm glad they're dead." The little boy leaves.

And wanders outside into the main room. And sees Priss. And remembers the New Boy. Seems somewhat uncomfortable for a moment. Shrugs. Wanders over to Priss. "Hey... Priss. Willy tells me you've been having some bad dreams."

Priss

Priss stares silently at Jack with her wide, preternaturally blue eyes.

"There's something under the city," she whispers after a while. "Something old, and strange, and hungry."

She draws closer to him, fixing him with an unblinking gaze.

"I know it sounds crazy, but I can feel it moving sometimes. Big and slithery. And when I'm sleeping, I hear these voices. Singing. Chanting. But they sound... inhuman. They sound wet and fleshy, like fat lips and no teeth, like one of the boys after a really bad beating. And I don't know what they're saying, I don't recognize the language, and the voices are... it sounds like they speak on the in-breath instead of the out. Sucking in words all backwards-like."

Wringing her hands, she continues;

"In my dreams, I can't see anything. I only hear things. And I always see things in my dreams. I always dream in color and detail, but now I don't. Nothing but black."

"You don't think I'm crazy, Jack, do you?"

Jack Dawton

Jack kinda just stares at Priss. Jack doesn't know how to deal with stuff like this. Possibly carefully. The boy screws up his face in a mixture of wariness, concern and consideration. "Priss. I dunno about big hungry things under the city, but I was just chatting to a eight foot tall guy with green skin big, big eyes and claws as long as my arm." He halts, and considers. "You've always been the smart one, figuring out books and magic and stuff. If you say there's somethin' under the city, then I guess there's somethin' under the city." Jack looks troubled. "But I dunno what I can do about it. I've got my hands full with... something." Jack is worried, mainly at that fact. "Wait." Guarded. "Did you say... under the city?" Taking Priss by the shoulders, he looks into her eyes. "Priss... you can't tell anyone about this. I think... I might be able to find something out. But you have to trust me." Jack leaves the question unsaid, not blinking.

Priss

Priss nods solemnly.

"I trust you, Jack," she says.

Meanwhile, Willy, reentering the warehouse and noting the two of you in deep conversation, discreetly heads back into his 'office', closing the door behind him.

Jack Dawton

"Thanks, Priss." Jack seems slightly off-balance. "Um. I'll be back. Probably tommorrow. Um. Bye." Jack looks at Priss for a second, and then darts out, heading for the street.

Perambulating along the cobblestones, Jack mulls. And
Unable to find the game forum
almost absent-mindedly steals a baldric of six throwing knives from a purveyor of weaponry who unwisely set up his stall in the Greenarms territory without purchasing one of the greentokens usually displayed prominently by such.

Time to go and find someone who knows about the Praetor.





 

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