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Act 1: The Ixian Prisoner Scene 2: Once More into the Breach
Two and a half days after you leave the gates of Keshan you see in the distance wide fields being tended by scores of laborers. When you get closer to the fields you see that these are not simply farm hands, but massive gangs of slaves, numbering fifty or more, chained together working under the watchful eyes and whips of slave drivers as the work the all but barren soil outside the city. There is little to gain by working this ground but it helps to sustain the City of the Slave Princes, keeping the thousands of other slaves destined for sale alive and fed until they can be sold.
The city of Ix itself is surrounded by a high wall. The ancient walls do not appear to be made of stone, but the look as if they have stood for many generations, defending Ix and trapping the captured slaves inside of the city. From what you know of the city, largely relayed to you by the agents of the Despot of Keshan, Ix is divided into four Quarters, the Military Quarter, the Government Quarter, the Thieves' Quarter and the Merchants Quarter. These four districts are not divided by walls but by wide boulevards a hundred feet across that are heavily patrolled by city guards.
The Despot's agents suggested that you attempt to enter from the West Gate into Thieves's Quarter as that should be the easiest to gain passage into as it has the least patrols. When you approach the West gate you see a handful of guards at the gate, but the tall wooden doors are open and they appear to be only giving each group of travelers a cursory look over before ushering them into the city. Waiting patiently in a long line of ragged looking travelers you eventually get inside the city walls when the sun has almost set. The lengthening shadows of Ix are a relief after three days out in the desert sun, the Thieves Quarter is a squalid place, filled with people off all races, each one more suspicious and filthy than the last. Many of the buildings look like their timbers are about to break as they have rotted through.
Now that you have gained entrance to the City of the Slave Princes the question remains, where is Janissary Captain that the Despot sent you to retrieve, and how are you going to get him out of Ix?
Phase of the Moon; HP: 78/78 AC 26 Fort 21 Ref 22 Will 25 AP 0 Surges 1/9 used
Feeling himself becoming overwhelmed from being surrounded by people in masses he has not been a part of since he first left home on a quest to avenge his master, Rune has to take a moment to think what the best course of action is. Rune has always found himself being able to relate to those who fight constantly or conversing with those with cunning guile that obtain information from the shadows. Hoping to find aide for his ever active quest in freeing his maker's hometown, Rune decides to try his luck within the thieves' quarters first and then the military quarters. I vote for gathering information in the most discreet route possible, first from the thieves and then from the barracks. Anyone wish to agree with me, or does anyone have any better ideas?
"Finding some intel is a wise course of action my friend," Irimus says, eying the squalor around him as he sets eyes on the unfamiliar city. Looking about, the bard closes his eyes for a moment, mouthing a silent prayer as he tries to fortell the events surrounding their next move to guide them in the best course of action. "Finding info is indeed wisest, for we do not wish to end up lost amidst the maze of bodies and buildings. Let us find a bar of some manor and I shall offer to perform in exchance for food or drink. While I do, keep your wits about you, and I shall influence those about us to make them more apt to loosen their tongues," Irimus says.
The warden checks his gear making sure everything is bundeled up tight and secure. His hand lingers on his hammer at his side whiile he keeps his shield firmly attached Alright well if you need people shoved or moved out of your way I'm your man he says sticking a meaty thumb towards his face. sneaking around a city smooth-talking the locals isn't my strongest suit with that Greil casts a wary eye around at the citizens of the city and tries to keep his wits about him.
Silently Orion follows as they make their way through the Theive's quarter to a promising and unsavory looking tavern. As the others buy drinks and make talk with the patrons Orion simply listens. In Keshan he kept to himself, contemplating in solitude in a garden of the Despot. It has been a long time since the monk has been out in the world of men, though he has not forgotten of it's temptations and sufferings. And so he just listens to the tales that are told to them, and wonders about the hearts that tell them.
The squalor and crowding of the Thieve's quarter is overwhelming compared to the lush decadence of the Despot's Palace in Keshan. The smell alone is almost enough to turn a man's stomach, but the denizens appear to have grown accustomed. When you pause in the middle of the avenue to get your bearings you are rapidly crushed by oncoming waves of foot traffic from every direction. Soon you are forced off to the side of the road and you collect your breath and decide to venture further into the Quarter to find a tap-house at which to begin to get the lay of the land.
As you walk the streets you see all manner of refuse and vermin, humanoid and otherwise. You carefully avoid a patrol of four City Guards who are marching down the middle the street. They are given a wide birth by most people, but one wiry man with a black/grey beard stumbles into them, apparently drunk at this early hour, one of the Guards grabs him and shoves him to the side where he scrambles to his feet and runs off with more dexterity than you expect from a drunkard.After cautiously working your way past the guards you find a small public house that looks promising, its just off the avenue and looks like a safe place to stay for a couple hours.
Walking into the establishment, Irimus heads for the bar, and the others head for a long table where a number of other patrons are seated drinking and eating bowls of porridge and fried sausages and potatoes. When the bard offers his services in exchanges for breakfast for him and his companions the bartender looks at him with a skeptical eye. You suspect that he knows that you're here for more than his meager offerings of food (you still have a little of the fattened look of Palace living on you), but he's smart enough to know that a good Bard is worth his weight in ale so he points Irimus to a stool by the hearth where he can play.
The Bard sings, not an epic song of heroes and great feats of strength, but the trials of a common man, saved from death by nothing but the aid of his friends and neighbors. These words, laced with a subtle magic makes the other patrons receptive to inquiries of Irimus and his companions who sit at the breakfast table.
After Irimus has played for half an hour the bartender brings out five plates and five bowls and afresh pot porridge and platter fried sausage and potatoes for you, and gestures to Irimus to keep playing. Just then the door opens and you recognize the man who steps through, the black/grey bearded drunk who stumbled into the guards in the street. He sits down at the far end of the table and calls for a plate of food. When Rune begins to get up to go an talk to the drunk, Griel quickly grabs his comrades shoulder and hold him in his seat, shaking his head ever so slightly left to right.
Greil keeps his grip on Rune, If you don't want your food, you can just pass it over here The warden says with a smirk. no need to get up and return it releasing the warforged's shoulder the goliath says in a hushed voice, That there bearded guest is much more than just your average drunk. His tussle with the patrol involved an exchange of sorts. With him the stumbling drunk receiving a package from the armed guards. he pauses swirling his spoon around his bowl. Now we have in our sights someone who has connections, how can we get access to them? cracking his neck he scoops another spoonful of porridge, and Rune, pass me your sausage already!
Realizing that his rather large friend has noticed something about the importance of this drunkard, Rune decides to contemplate his next action properly and sit back down. You hardly need to ask Greil, you know for a fact that such mundane things as eating and drinking are incompatible with my body, so here you go. But for once, please do not be so crass as to chew and guffaw at the same time like you normally when you're famished, it's rather repulsive. As the plate is passed toward Greil, Rune takes a look around the tavern in hopes of overhearing some tidbits or noticing some discreet glances that last longer than a moment.
You eat your breakfast in quite, listening to your comrade recount tales of honor and valiant men. Strange tales in a land that knows little of either. You spend an hour sitting and listening to the bard's songs and the grumbling of the patrons. Their complains are nothing you haven't heard before in any number of run down taverns; the guards cost to much to bribe, the beer is watered down, some merchant or another sold someone a fake something. The more morsels of information learn, the less interested you are in what these people have to say.
When Irimus finally ceases playing, he begins to move to the table to have something to eat. Before he gets a chance to sit down the bearded man at the end of the bar motions for him to join him. With his mouth full of sausage, Griel doesn't get a chance to warn the Bard about his suspicions. Irimus sits down next to the man, who orders him a beer and begins to talk, "Names Wallac, I haven't heard songs like that in many years. Tell me where did you learn them?"
Without waiting for Irimus to explain the bearded man begins to recount what must be the majority of his life story. It isn't a pleasant tale, but he recounts it quickly and begins to tell you more interesting things about life in the City of Ix, How to recognize a couple of guards who are easy and cheap to bribe (Bjenk, a red-bearded Dwarf with a lizard-skin cape and Nouri Al-Shenp a Human who wields a distinctive Axe with a Orc femur for a haft), when to know to stay off the streets (If you hear drums, get inside, the Elite Guard is marching through) and finally that for some reason the Slave Masters in the Military Quarter have been having more trouble than usual with the slaves over the past few weeks. Usually there is little unity among the slaves, each looks to make his own escape but recently there have been more riots causing great billows of smoke visible all over the Ix, though it is unclear to Wallac why.
Greil swallows his sausage hard. Grunting as he forces the meat down his throat he takes a swig of ale as he keeps a cautious eye on the bard and the bearded stranger. With his food finished the goliath takes out his shield and checks to make sure everything on it is still useable in battle. As he performs maintenance on his shield he perks his ears trying to catch anything going on in the bar or directly outside that could be of impending danger
He sits fairly still though internally he is waiting for someone else to initiate the next move for the group.