Day of the Mouse, in the Month of the Lion, in the Year of the Dragon
Frisk considered The Flying Fist Tavern aptly named just as a Northerner’s rock-knuckled fist landed squarely into his face.
Frisk spat out a mouthful of blood and felt a tooth loosened by the barbarian’s punch.
The seventeen year-old Lankhmart wasn’t all too certain what started the evening brawl, but it was as he knew an event which occurred more than often in the tavern popularized by adventures down on their luck.
Despite having lost a hard-stolen coins’ worth of supper, Frisk was in no mood to involve himself in a barroom brawl.
A voice from near the tavern’s exit drew the young rogue’s attention. A short but muscular Mingol stood by the exit, motioning for Frisk to follow him outside. He also noticed a tall bear of a man dressed in plate armor and sporting a longsword following the Mingol a few steps behind.
Frisk ducked beneath a wild swing and quickly made his way outside to join the others who, like him, clearly weren’t interested in the fist-fighting as well.
“My new friends,” the Mingol said. “I smell the approach of the city guards. We best make haste and leave this place.”
The tall blonde man in plate nodded his head in agreement. He introduced himself as Calvin of the House, Storm, a noble family whose ancestry could be traced several centuries back in Lankhmar’s history.
When asked what a nobleman was doing hobnobbing with the common citizens, Calvin explained that he was trying to enjoy the many pleasures the City of Black Togas had to offer. Although he admitted that he dressed as a noble and appeared to be an easy mark for murdering thieves and bloodthirsty bravos, Calvin was confident in his skill with his longsword and in his ability to defend himself against any foolish enough to confront him.
Having left Cash Street, the party of three new friends made their way north along Carter Street. Along the way, they introduced themselves to each other and gave one another the short versions of their past, keeping—for each knew for a fact—some secrets about themselves best left unshared.
Even before they reached Dim Lane, which because of the night-smog seemed an understated name for a street filled with deep shadows, the raucous from the establishment known to many Lankhmarts as the Silver Eel could already be heard.
Inside, the noise of dozens of singing patrons mixed with the smell of Braggi’s famous stew made for a most welcoming place to spend the rest of the night and see the morning’s arrival, for it was well-known that the Silver Eel never closed its business. To everyone’s memory, the Silver Eel’s front door had never been locked since it long ago opened for business.
Once past the leather-curtained entrance, the trio made their way to the only table left with enough chairs to accommodate them all.
A drunken young man sat by himself. Three empty flagons and an empty trencher lay on the table. The three newcomers asked if they could share the table after they had all sat down.
The man said something that sounded like, “I don’t care”.
The three newcomers didn’t either.
A comely female slave arrived to take their orders. Frisk eyed the woman and asked for her name to which she replied, “Elasha”. Frisk further asked if her companionship was available. Calvin, feeling like quite the host for the evening, offered to pay for everyone’s drinks, meals, and even for an hour’s use of one of many rooms available upstairs.
Frisk asked Elasha to join him soon and then raised his flagon in thanks and salute to his new-found comrades.
“Are you well, my friend?” Frisk asked the drunk man.
The drunk man raised his head and said his name was Quelp, a self-proclaimed “courier” from Ilthmar. The bearded young man seemed to be on the verge of passing out. He explained that he was carrying a bottle of exotic Ilthmart liquor, procured by his brother Pellek, which they were supposed to deliver to Lord Vannik in the Noble District. They’ve already received a sizable down payment for the liquor, but had been promised 50 gold rilks upon delivery.
Unfortunately, Quelp went on to sadly relate, the brothers were attacked on the road by a brigand before sunset. Pellek was killed. Quelp said he would have been killed too, but he ran and didn’t stop running until he reached Lankhmar. He found his way to the Silver Eel and began drinking away his sorrows. He hasn’t stopped yet. He said he was waiting for the sun to rise so he could complete his delivery and leave Lankhmar for good.
Before Quelp coud utter another word, he passed out.
While Calvin left to relieve himself of much of his drinks, Frisk reached into the drunk man’s satchel.
Inside was a small glass bottle, hand-labeled with “Tears of the Gods” upon it and sealed with black wax. A closer inspection revealed an impression of the Rat God’s symbol upon the black wax.
When Calvin returned, Frisk and Quilph said that it would be a kind gesture on their part if they would help Quelp complete his delivery, seeing as how the young man was far too drunk to do it himself.
They all agreed to complete the task and share a portion of the payment with the drunk man after.
Sometime after midnight—and after Frisk had reluctantly parted company with Elasha—the trio made their way to the Noble District to Calvin’s family mansion to sleep the night away. They agreed to leave at dawn for Lord Vannik’s mansion.
It was known to all three that Lord Vannik was a cruel noble with a reputation for an unwholesome interest in dark magic and forbidden lore. He was known for his vicious violence against beggars and stray dogs that got too close to his property. Some beggars have even been dragged inside his crumbling mansion. Those who have returned from his dilapidated domain were scarred in body and mind, unable to speak of what they saw.
Once at the mansion, Calvin, Frisk, and Quilph were ushered inside the mansion by a slave servant.
Lord Vannik was surprised to see the three instead of Pellek. They told him about what they had learned from Quelp and of their offer to complete the young man’s task. Lord Vannik didn’t seem to care who made the delivery as long as he received the bottle.
As payment, Lord Vannik handed the trio a small chest filled with coins and gems. He then hastily asked the three to leave citing some important affair he had in the city early that morning.
On the way back to the Silver Eel, the three found themselves being followed by a Mingol armed with a short sword.
When they stopped to confront the man, the Mingol shrugged his shoulders. “Nothing personal,” the Mingol said. “But Lord Vannik doesn’t want anyone knowing he has the bottle.”
Not wasting any time, Calvin quickly drew his longsword and charged at the Mingol.
The Mingol did’t have time to raise his own blade in defense as Cavin’s blade sliced into the man’s neck, decapitating him.
Calvin used the Mingol’s shirt to wipe the blood off his sword before sheathing it.
Frisk and Quilph were impressed with the noble’s skill with the longsword and asked about the sword’s exquisite craftsmanship.
The noble said the blade’s name was Stormguard, and that it was forged centuries before to help protect the noble family. Each generation, the named weapon was handed down to a family member who was appointed with the task of protecting the family’s honor and its members.
Suddenly, a dagger struck the back of Calvin’s plate armor, bouncing harmlessly off him to land on the ground.
Turning around, the noble spotted a young woman in a nearby alley. She was dressed in dark leather armor and was armed with a brace of knives. A short sword was sheathed across her back.
“You’d best explain yourself,” Calvin said between clenched teeth. “If need be, I’ll kill another before the sun reaches its peak today.”
The woman did seem taken aback by the noble’s not-so-idle threat.
“Where is the bottle?” she asked.
“It’s with Lord Vannik as it should be,” the noble replied moving towards the woman.
The woman quickly turned and disappeared from view before any of the heroes could reach her.
When they arrived at the Silver Eel, a large crowd had gathered outside the tavern at the corner of Dim Lane and Plague Court. The trio pushed their way through the crowd and found Quelp lying on the street in his own pool of blood. A dagger, similar to the one the woman threw at Calvin, was sticking out of the man’s forehead.
All three were shocked by the young man’s murder. Equally disturbing was their discovery that the chest of coins and gems Lord Vannik had given them contained mostly fake coins and gems. In all, there was less than 10 gold rilks worth of payment in the chest.
Angered by Lord Vannik’s deception, the trio quickly made their way back to his mansion.
There, they found that the young woman who attacked them in the alley had already gotten her hands on Lord Vannik.
Lord Vannik laid on the ground dead, along with his manservant who opened the gate for the three earlier.
The female assassin stood nearby, the small bottle visible in her hand.
“I’ll give all of you a chance to walk away from certain death,” the woman threatened as she hid the bottle inside a pouch attached to her belt. “My name is Yorrabba the Huntress. I’ve been sent from Ilthmar by a priest of the Rat God to retrieve this bottle.”
Calvin confidently motioned for his two friends to stay back as he unsheathed Stormguard for the second time that day and made his way to confront the murderous huntress.
Frisk sought to surprise the woman by flanking her. He deftly climbed over the estate’s outer wall and quietly made his way to gain a better vantage point for a surprise attack.
Quilph, meanwhile obliged the noble’s overconfidence by staying out of combat.
The noble however, had underestimated Yorrabba’s skill. As he moved within reach of the woman, she quickly drew her short sword and with a quick motion swung at Calvin’s midsection. Yorrabba’s blade struck across Calvin’s armor doing no more than leaving a shallow scratch upon its recently polished surface.
Calvin quickly followed up her attack with a mighty swing of Stormguard.
The huntress easily parried the sharp blade. Yorrabba then sought to disarm the noble by twisting Calvin’s sword from his grasp. Unfortunately, the attempt failed. Instead, the huntress’s own blade fell from her hand.
Having lost her sword, Yorrabba moved to distance herself from the well-armored noble. Calvin struck the fleeing woman across her back, raking her deeply.
The wounded Yorrabba limped away to try and make her way to a nearby wall to escape, but not before Calvin charged at the woman.
With speed that amazed Calvin, Yorrabba drew a dagger from one of her braces and tried to stab the noble. Calvin barely managed to parry the huntress’s attack.
Calvin took a step to the side and, with a single thrust of Stormguard, tore through the woman’s chest; the razor-sharp blade exiting out of her back.
With a barely audible gurgle, the woman who was Yorrabba the Huntress fell to the ground and died.
Frisk was disappointed to see the woman dead before he could lend a hand in battle.
“Nice work, Calvin,” Frisk said. “Let’s search the mansion and see if we can find anything of value.”
Before Frisk could move towards the mansion’s front entrance, Quilph whistled to get his comrades’ attention. “We best leave, my friends,” Quilph said with urgency. “I can smell the city guards quickly approaching.”
Calvin found the bottle upon the dead huntress and pocketed it. Together, he and Frisk joined Quilph outside the gate.
The heroes, now an unlikely trio of friends, made their way back to the Silver Eel.
Along the way, they talked and wondered about what was inside the bottle that had cost the lives of so many people.
The three new friends especially wondered what the future held for them, especially with so many possibilities for adventure in the legendary city of Lankhmar.