Lord Walter Cargan
cordially invites you to attend a reception in honour of
The happy marriage of Armand Cargan and Francesco Antonio-Bartolomeo Graves
The joyous return of Theophilius Cargan from Thys
The successful entrepreneurial exploits of Henry Cargan
The Traditional Day of Hospitality from the Nobility to the People of Acryn
on the evening of Saturday, the 5th day of the 3rd month
Lord Walter Cargan's Estate
Entertainment and refreshments provided courtesy of Lord Walter
Please respond at your earliest convenience
The night started pleasantly, with food, music, entertainment all as one might expect, though it didn’t take long for old scars and fights to resurface – those between families, and within families, as well as those between the Nobility and the People of the city began to flare up.
Lord Cargan did his best to keep things civil, however, and the heads of each house did their part to keep their more destructive elements under control. There was a small debacle involving the supposed Leader Priest, Adam Adama, which was quickly controlled with assistance from Booker and the evening progressed pleasantly enough until about an hour in.
After an hour into the party, the musicians played a song at the request of the Duchess Cargan: The Rooster and the Raven. At the conclusion of this song, however, Duchess Waltha Terrec, Dean Ghita Darrish, Lord Eduardo Graves, and Duchess Viciona Cargan all fell to the floor unconscious. Waltha, Eduardo and Viciona were all immediately pronounced dead, while Ghita Darrish appeared to be fighting whatever was trying to kill her in her mind.
Several things then happened in a short period of time. The musicians were arrested and interrogated by various party-goers for being responsible for the deaths. Initially they denied it, but a combination of various magics, divine trickery and physical force eventually got the truth out of them: they were assassins from Valydd hired to assassinate the four named individuals who they were told were the heads of each of the Noble houses. Their method of choice was to use something called “the Eternal Song”, determined to be a god in Valydd, and consequently they were prevented from singing in case it brought down more divine power from this god. After further interrogation, they were again knocked out and left to be dealt with by the Watch (through the medium of Marlo Darrish).
Booker, meanwhile, called down a minor miracle of the Traitor to turn the flesh of Ghita Darrish to metal and then a major miracle of the Traitor to empower Ghita against whatever was fighting her in her head so she could continue working for the good of Acryn. Ghita was able to overcome what was trying to lure away and remained unharmed (though somewhat dazed).
Unit-03 took the body of Viciona Cargan and quickly worked to remove her brain and, using miracles of the Builder, built a Clockwork Golem copy of the Duchess into which the brain was placed and Unit-03 used its abilities to bring it life. The brain, which appeared to have lost its soul willingly, began to reconnect memories and a while later the “Duchess” was walking around and attempting to piece together what had happened to her after her memories disappeared about a week ago.
Unit-01, formerly known as “Pig”, arrived at the party and immediately accosted Theophilius Cargan. Steps were taken to calm Unit-01 down and Evan, friendly with Unit-01, along with others attempted to help the Golem. Evan copied the face of Unit-01 using Identity Theft and left with the golem, under the guide of “Unit-21”.
Marlo Darrish appealed to the Tender for assistance returning the soul of Waltha Terrec if and only if it would bring her the same quality of life she had before. Marlo got a sense of frustration, sorrow, then anger from the Tender as she appeared unable to do so. The anger here was directed, however, to the East…
As the party wound down, the Valyddi Assassins were brought round by Lt. Marlo Darrish and other members of the Watch. They were promptly gagged and taken to the nearest Watch-house to be dealt with properly according to Acryn law. There, their confessions were taken down properly and the lot of them were put in high security holding.
Investigations into the Valyddi Assassins took three different approaches: Dauntless led an investigation into how the Assassins were able to get into the city in the first place; Booker and Armand went about trying to find any other Assassins in the city; and Francesco Graves-Cargan consulted the Stanchion to confirm whether or not the souls of the deceased had gone to the Acryn afterlife or not.
Dauntless’s investigation started with the exact circumstances of the hiring of the assassins. Lord Cargan assured Dauntless that he hadn’t known who they were when hired, and further probing led Dauntless to discover that this group had certainly entered Acryn only recently. Following up leads and sightings of the group, Dauntless eventually found the clues leading back to the Cargan Estate: to Henry Cargan. Confronted, Henry explained to Dauntless that he’d been having goods shipped from Valydd using an old Cargan shipping route to assist with his recent business ventures, but some of them had been empty. He’d assumed it was just dodgy traders, but Dauntless puts the clues together and determines they must have been hiding in the crates. Reporting this to Walter (and indeed Viciona) leads to the head of the house putting his face in his palms and asking Dauntless to not spread the fact that this was Henry’s fault too far. A short while later, Henry is seen sent packing to live life in a distant Builder Church for some time…
Francesco quickly discovers that the Stanchion has not received the souls of any of those who died at the party. The Stanchion does not seem very pleased about this, and asks that if it is discovered where the souls have gone, and they are retrievable, that they should be brought back. Fuelled by the Stanchion’s own annoyance, Francesco goes to assist Booker and Armand in tracking down the remaining Valyddi agents.
Joined by Francesco, and after the ritual bickering between the Graves-Cargans died down, Booker and co set about hunting down the Valyddi agents. Booker had his contacts determine how the Valyddi agents arrived and investigates the ship that they arrived on – which his contacts inform him has had nobody else try and board or leave it. Apparently it was a goods ship sent from Valydd, though the name of who chartered the delivery cannot be meaningfully attributed to anyone in Acryn when Armand looks.
Having tracked down this ship, it’s easy for them to start working out where to look to try and track down the agents and eventually break down the door of a dingy back-alley tavern room to find a few more agents plotting. They are quickly knocked out and interrogated one by one (with Francesco using the full terror of his Wounding Rituals to help) about their motivations. They eventually parrot what the assassins at the party said: they were hired in Valydd to kill the four named people. They organised passage sneaking aboard ships and they were going to get paid upon completion, though had no qualms about dying in the process since it would mean their souls would be united with the Eternal Song. After a while longer of interrogation, it is determined that these are the only other agents in Acryn, and Booker goes to take them to the Watch while Armand and Francesco interrogate
deal with pay off the landlord of the tavern who is incredibly alarmed about what’s going on his room.
Booker, of course, does not take the assassins to the Watch but rather takes them to the Civil Service, telling them what he’s discovered. There they are taken for proper processing and their separate accounts confirmed. Booker is assured that these prisoners will not be seeing the light of day, but it is suggested that they be kept for future use. For safety, though, their tongues are cut out and a Binding Ritual is performed on them, and they are sent into the Acryn legal system for unrelated but equally serious charges, into prisons where they will be “kept under close watch”. He then heads to Ghita Darrish to debrief and tells her what he found out. While debriefing, Ghita explains that she now feels particularly empowered against the Eternal Song – in particular she believes, after experimentation, she is resistant to possession, and has a sense for the location of the Eternal Song. She suggests this could be very useful for later tracking down the assassins, but that plans must still be developed. She talks at length with Booker, thanking him for his considerable aid and the two foster what could be perceived as a friendship.
Armand debriefs to Walter Cargan, expressing his intention to take this to the Council. Walter, aware that the Duchess’s current state as a golem (and indeed possibly not being the Duchess herself) comes to suggest to Armand that before he does this, the Duchess is persuaded to step down from the Council and that Armand would take her place. This is agreed on, but the Duchess refuses to move: she claims that it wouldn’t be for the good of the family and the more Walter attempts to insist the more stubborn she becomes. Eventually, she tells one of the more minor Cargans who currently occupies the fourth Cargan seat to step down from the position and tells Walter that Armand can have that seat. This is agreed, and Armand joins the council (with Francesco pulling strings with Duke Graves to have him support this move). It is, however, fairly widely known that Armand’s placement on the council was heavily due to the work of Walter and Corlo, and that Viciona disapproves of this.
With the Cargan seat sorted, Armand takes his findings to the council. They support what had already been assumed and so the discussion of action to be taken against Valydd and the formation of a Privy Council comes around. There is unanimous agreement that something must be done, but there are disagreements as to what. Olivia Darrish recommends all out war, something that is echoed by House Terrec, while Jimmy Hoskins and the Cargans suggest that a more cautious approach is necessary – a smaller scouting strike force organised in collaboration with Strossbourg would be more cost-effective and allow Acryn to keep an army on the mainland in case Serradis decides to renege on the truce. The various representatives from the guilds and the people fall roughly onto the two sides, and frequently it is suggested that a Privy Council must be formed to discuss this. Jimmy Hoskins points out that a Privy Council would strip power from the Council and away from the people, and this line brings him a great deal of support from the popularly elected Council members. In the end, it is agreed that there will be no Privy Council, and that action will be taken against Valydd through the means of a strikeforce being sent to assess Valydd’s capabilities, weak points and, if necessary, to take direct action to prevent any immediate attacks.
Following this Council decision, those with the right connections will be aware that Olivia and Ghita Darrish are spearheading the plan for this strike.
Underneath the song of screams and slaughter at the Cargan estate, you might have detected the pitiful, rhythmic, wail of our newest arrival from Thys, moaning and blubbering something about a clockwork golem. Several of the servants were quick to note his peculiar habit of offering indentured servitude to anyone who could end the legal quarrel between himself and the Clockmakers' Guild.
Not just the servants.
Theo’s plight touched many. Tearfully, Emily Anara pledged whatever help she could muster - the dominion of the human mind, she reassured Theo, was shortly to be within her grasp. “The mind”, she whispered, her tear-streaked eyes glittering. Sev, bound in chains of sorrow and regret, wondered aloud whether she’d failed Pig as a friend. Whether that made her one of the bad people. Evan, the curious, opinionated, mage, watched the party from the safety of his false guise, and drank in everything he saw. The intrigue, the political posturing, the sorrow, and the hope - everything comingling into one. He turned to Unit 01 - who saw him, and yet did not see him - and knew what he had to do.
Two others watched also. The unsettling, hulking, builder priest, and the eerily self-contained ex-Mayor. Those who have fought - and lived - for long enough, sharpen a particular kind of sense. They learn to see the moves their enemies will make before they make them. A step forward, a knife drawn: and there, and there, and there. They are trained to block attacks before they ever happen. And so it was that these two watched, and waited, and turned away, their plans already forming.
And what of Unit 01, of Pig, itself? One small soul who had been through so much, struggling to come to terms with a thousand eager contradictions. “Why was my external signifier changed to ‘Pig’, and then changed back again?” “When and why did this Unit acquire the “spurting blood” enhancement?“ Memories, like a forgotten sea, rose up to overwhelm it.
This is what happens next.
Unit 01 and Unit 21 (a.k.a Evan incognito) return to the golem housing facility in the Clockmakers' Guild. Evan manages to convince Unit 01 not to file a report concerning the reappearance of its memories. The feeling of conspiracy is somewhat unwelcome, but at the same time, familiar and comforting. Like…red. Thankfully for Evan, the golem’s ‘dormitories’ (an awkward term for what are effectively stables with optional restraints) are no longer assigned to one golem in particular, and he finds one which is free to spend the night in.
The next day Unit 01 activates a set of protocols specific to reconfirming its connection to the other inhabitants of the Guild facility. It makes polite conversation: operating parameters, missions, the qualities of proper maintenance. This strays sometimes into more fanciful territory. ‘What upgrade would you most like to have installed?’ Pig offers, a comment that makes some golems gasp and others giggle with delight. But nothing bad comes of it, and there is a sense - through violation of an unspoken taboo - that a new sort of relationship is being formed.
Evan, a glint in his cogs, then proposes the following: ‘A unit is repaired regularly, new parts being substituted for old. Supposing that eventually all of its parts are replaced, would it really be the same Unit that it was to begin with?
There is a sort of startled silence before an older Unit retorts: “Irrelevant. The primary concern is that maximum output has been maintained within operating parameters’. There are nods of general assent. And that, it seems, is that. But Evan notices that Pig remains quiet, and contemplative, and it returns to its dormitory alone. The others eye Unit 21 with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion.
Feeling that he as done as much as he can and fearing imminent discovery, Evan seeks an opportunity to escape. That opportunity comes in the form of a new guard detail which are guided around the facility - bearing the crest of House Darrish. It seems that Olivia has sent the Guild reinforcements, cautioning them that she has been ‘harassed’ by several of their Units and seeking to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Adopting the guise of a fairly unremarkable soldier, Evan slips away.
In its dorm, Pig considers what Evan has said, and finds itself lost in thought. Here a new certainty wrongfoots it, sharp and solid like a rock. Golems are more than the sum of their parts. Unit-01s memories have made it different. It is not operating in the same way it was before it could remember its former signifier, its missions, its…communication with other subjects. All of which is deeply troubling. Is it defective? Indications suggest: likely. Is it unhappy it is defective? Unsure.
Pig is startled from its reverie by the delicate plink! of something bouncing off its head and rolling away. On closer inspection, it is a screw. Plink! Another screw falls, catching Unit 01 in the eye. Pig looks up, and dodges at the last minute as a ventilation covering clatters to the ground.
“Unit 01?” A rasping voice echoes from the shaft where the grating used to be.
“Identify yourself! Intruder? Intruder! Unit 01, enacting alarm procedure in 10….9….”
A furry paw flits out from the darkness, and two large white letters futter into Pig’s chamber.
The first is from ‘Sev’. Sev writes in a beautiful, swirling hand about how much she misses pig, apologising for being such a bad friend and being unable to help when pig needed help most. The letter is like stuck gear grinding against an exposed core. It is a pathway to distant, lonesome vistas where silhouettes of things once-remembered dance unparseable in the darkness.
The second is from ‘Theo’. Theo writes haphazardly in a determined scrawl, flitting between apology and entreaty; Pig can leave this prison, leave the service of those who would destroy its spirit - and return to the company of friends. Plans are in the offing, coming to fruition - and if Pig desires it, freedom. All it needs do is leave a note in the shaft from whence the courier came. There is a wobbly signature, and some kind of red cog affixed to the bottom of letter.
Unit 01 brushes the surface of the crudely painted cog, and shivers. 'Sev' misses her. 'Theo' misses her. Would it be so bad to see them, if only for a little while?
It is then that the restraints descend and everything goes wrong.
ONE DAY EARLIER
“But I had an appointment! That automata destroyed my property - countless farmsteads, crops, damage to livestock - the losses are incalculable. And it’s all your fault. Kythera swore to our family that we would get a resolution today. Does a sworn oath mean nothing to you?”
“Guildmaster Kassel has had to take an urgent meeting, and will be indisposed for the rest of -”
Jimmy Hoskins strides past the commotion at the entrance of Kythera Kassel’s Acryn estate. He takes a moment to savour the pinprick of guilt forming within himself. Guilt is like a small fire: mostly harmless unless left unchecked, and certainly very useful in a variety of situations. He allows himself to feel the little spark more acutely now, picturing it above his right hand, floating; now closing his hand around it; now bringing his index finger and thumb together - extinguishing it completely. It would not do to feel that here.
Kythera is waiting behind her desk. She offers Hoskins a chair, Hoskins declines, preferring to lean against the wall.
“I’ll keep this quick. Now that the Builder Church has made a sentient automaton, and the Duchess Cargan has been resurrected as such, it is inevitable that the Council will want to review just what exactly the Units are. And you and I both know what they’ll conclude.”
“I should say that rather depends on what they find out, Jimmy.”
“And I should rather say that would depend on who they commission to do the finding. If only there was someone in Acryn of sound disposition who happened to be a peerless authority on matters of the soul. They could assuage - or indulge - any fears the Council might have. I’d say such a person would be very valuable friend, wouldn’t you?”
Kythera sucks her teeth. “Of course, this institution has been going for quite some time, Jimmy. And as you should know - and appreciate - we are experts at knowing how to survive. The Guild has weathered storms like this before.”
Jimmy shrugs. “Sure. Though I imagine that between all of the people that House Cargan can muster - and of the people I can muster - that would represent a significant amount of pressure on the Wayfinders Guild. And, when faced with a rock and a hard place, the survivors amongst us know: you pick the one that’s softer. Of course, I’m sure there’s nothing that could drive a wedge between the Wayfinders and the Clockmakers Guild. You are so very close, after all.”
“Well, quite. Although, it does strike me - we were due to have an internal audit anyway. Completely routine, but it might benefit us to have an independent advisor on board. Someone sensitive to the way we do things here. They would also have to be quite skilled in the mechanics of the soul - someone no less than an authority on the subject, I should say.”
“Really now? Well, I think I might know someone.”
“I thought you might. And what do you expect they might ask for in return?”
“Well, hypothetically speaking, you understand - I imagine they would require one of the Units to themselves for a close study. Such a study might take a long time…an indefinite amount of time. Any Unit would do, but of course, for scientific purposes, the prototype would be best. I believe I’m right in thinking that you recovered it recently?”
Kythera narrows her eyes. “Wherever did you hear that? Ugh, very well, Mr. Hoskins. I’ll see what I can do.”
“I’m sure my friend will be very pleased.”
“I’m sure he will.”
With a sweep of his cape, Jimmy exits Kythera’s chamber. She rests her forehead against her fingers, and mutters something evil under her breath. She cracks her knuckles, and presses a smooth mahogany button set into what looks like some kind of metal horn.
“Meredith? Cancel my other appointments. And take down the following message in reply to the Church of the Machine. 'Dear Brother Tarkus, we would be delighted to trial your offer for prototyping an upgraded Unit and would be interested in receiving a more detailed proposal immediately…'”
SOME TIME LATER
A large crate with the Clockmakers' Guild insignia is delivered to Jimmy Hoskins. Jimmy begins the work of conducting an expert investigation into the nature of the clockwork golems' souls. It is expected that the report will take a few months. Doing a thorough job will take time, however, and (after all) there are so many setbacks and delays that can happen to an investigation such as this. The fact that an investigation is underway, however, mollifies the Council - and buys the Guild precious time.
Meanwhile, James Walker, Olivia Darrish, and Unit 03 join forces with the Clockmakers' Guild and begin work proper on the necessary upgrades to create a functional hybrid Unit.
Back in his lodgings, Jimmy sighs, wiping the fresh blood from his sword onto a rag. The third spy in as many weeks.
The golem looks at him, eagerly. The blood is very red.
Following the party, and chasing up concerns from the Duchess Cargan, Unit-03 is unable to locate the Archivist (who has apparently gone on indefinite holiday) but is instead able to locate a wounding mage calling themselves the Genealogist. She claims to be able to much more effectively determine lineage through the study of blood. Unit-03 expresses the concerns of the Duchess that Theophilius may not be who he says he is, and is tasked by the Genealogist of bringing some of Theophilius’s blood and that of a true Cargan. Unit-03 acquires this and takes it to the Genealogist who after several days of study informs Unit-03 that the man calling himself Theophilius Cargan is not who he says he is.
Meanwhile, the Duchess corners Theophilius at the estate. She narrows her clockwork, optimised eyes at him and declares, “You are not Theophilius Cargan. You are not the man that was on Thys. You are an imposter.” Theophilius starts making his excuses but the Duchess stops him and threatens to expose him unless she does exactly what she wants…
Unit-03 brings the information gained from the Genealogist to the Duchess who is pleased, and suggests the information about Theophilius’s true identity could be useful. As thanks for the assistance, she informs Unit-03 of the leverage she now has over Theophilius and suggests that Unit-03 would be able to use the same…
Following the attempt to persuade Viciona to step down from her seat on the council, members of House Cargan have found themselves having to tread delicately. While lines are not necessarily being drawn, members of the family are feeling a pressure to side with either the Duchess or Walter over the dispute.
Henry Cargan has been sent packing to a Builder Church to learn better how to build a business venture (and to keep him quiet).
Zora Bracken, the Cargans’ Gardener, is quietly paid 50R to keep quiet about what she learned about Henry’s role in accidentally letting in the Valyddi assassins.
Having been seen talking in a corner at the Cargan party, it has since been rumoured that Lady Serena Cargan has begun courting the bright and talented Andrea Graves. Given the unity of House Cargan and House Graves, this is perceived as another great sign of the families’ cooperation.
Armand and Francesco Graves-Cargan are heard to have had their child through the assistance of a Wounding Ritual. The name of the child is yet unknown but it has developed at quite a pace.
Current seats on the Council:
Abruptness of the announcement aside, it has become clear that Angelo Terrec was deadly serious in declaring himself new Head of House. In the wake of Waltha’s death, he has made moves to cement his power within House Terrec - perhaps, some might say, with undue haste. Still, certainly Marian Terrec appeared convinced that his tears at Waltha’s funeral (all meticulously arranged by Marian herself) were genuine. Other members of the family were perhaps privately not so convinced.
Marian appears to be something of a rising star within the family; rarely is the new Duke seen outside the presence of his diligent young aide, whose modesty, loyalty and good breeding seem to exemplify all things Terrec - and perhaps contrast favourably with Angelo’s own, less engaging demeanour.
House Terrec, therefore, remain stable for the time being - but leadership tensions seem likely to surface in future.
Current seat on the Council:
Following the events of the party, Corlo is keeping a cool relationship with the senior members of House Cargan - with the exception of Armand, whom Corlo is keeping a close eye on. The Graves-Cargan child necessitates a certain amount of inter-house visitation, and with the interventions of Francesco and Armand, lines of communication between the Wyvern and the Rooster are as busy as ever.
Andrea and Lucian work together to consolidate the Graves presence in the Lost Spaces. Offices are constructed, guards are deployed, flags are planted. A Working Committee for the Lost Spaces is created, and Andrea is appointed at its head. Lucian makes a lively speech to the assembled heads of various merchant interests, during the climax of which his arm drops off. He reattaches it without missing a beat. Of Samuel Graves, the family are keeping quiet. When asked, visitors are told he is ‘recovering’.
There are rumours that Lucian has recently acquired the services of some sort of monkey butler, who cooks for him and his business associates at various parties across Acryn.
Current seats on the Council:
Following investigation into rumours of a Darrish Armada by Leon Darrish, they have been pressured by Walter Cargan into revealing the existence of a large fleet of ships currently harboured at the Severed Isles – an island not too far off the coast of the mainland. As the evidence shown to Walter shows, however, the fleet appears to have no purpose beyond being prepared to defend Darrish trade routes: there’s no evidence that they were intending to fight Valydd or that they knew about the attack in advance.
The investigation by Leon has, however, not gone unnoticed and both Olivia and Ghita are known to be seriously unimpressed with the young Darrish’s work to try and undermine the family. Leon is rumoured not to be particularly worried with family matters, however, and has been sighted around the Wayfinders Guild making new friends there…
Lt. Marlo Darrish remains in much better standing with the family, and indeed having made the valiant attempt to save Waltha Terrec’s soul has made connection with Angelo Terrec who rewarded him for his help.
House Darrish remains stable, though it is no secret that Duchess Olivia and Ghita Darrish are seeking revenge for the attack on the city.
Current seats on the Council:
The Wayfinders’ Guild are quiet in the following weeks. The business concerning the Clockmakers (and its happy resolution) would have put them at ease, or at least you might have expected so. Instead, inside sources suggest that the Guild is imitating that formidable bird, the duck: calm above the surface, legs paddling furiously underwater.
The Wayfinders sense trouble is coming, though are quiet about why they think so.
An odd footnote - it seems that the operations of the Iron Chef’s school of cookery have picked up in recent weeks. There are grumblings at the Spicer’s Guild that somehow she’s managed to get around their import tariffs and is acquiring spice at a slightly discounted rate. However, as the Spice Maidens don’t seem to be making a bid for mercantile supremacy, the higher ups seem content to let the matter slide for now.
Adam Adama feels like he’s being watched at every turn, but he can’t quite ever put his finger on someone being there. He runs and hides, and does what he can to keep ahead of the Traitor Church, but it always seems like they’re coming for him… something in the corner of his eye… someone taking the same turns as him for slightly too long… (OOC: This is resolved by the Trip of the Dog).
Simon moves out of Marian Terrec’s house and goes instead to live with Emily Anara who is a lot nicer to him (relatively speaking).
“Sev” informs the Archmage that Francesco Graves-Cargan and Walter Cargan wanted to talk to him. The Archmage thanks “Sev” for this information, and deliberates whether to pursue it in future…
Senta Fernbach, while moving to the more “Warrior” side of the Warrior Church having apparently lost faith in her abilities to teach young people, unconvincingly informs the Warrior Church that she believes Armand and Francesco are getting along fine. Armand receives a letter asking if everything is okay?
I’m not going to lie - we’ve been through some shit in our line of work, reports Mary Gibbons, new recruit for the Watch. It was by no means the most awful thing I’ve ever seen. But I can tell you now, hand on heart, that it was easily the weirdest.
They were all over the city. Everywhere. It was like they were taking a tour of all Acryn’s shadiest back alleys, in search of cutpurses to - well, batter. The silver woman carried a spear that practically oozed blood; I watched her skewer bandits, thugs and common coney-catchers alike with brutal efficiency - all the while singing some horrendously cheery ditty that I couldn’t quite place. But the tree… well, that was when it got stranger. He’d wait till the cutpurse was lying broken and bleeding. Then, looming over them, he’d lift that gnarled old stick he carried and bring it down mercilessly over that same cutpurse’s head.
You’re asking me why we didn’t intervene? We did! Trouble is, every time we got to the cutpurse, by some miracle they looked fresh as a daisy - not a speck of blood in sight - albeit bound and gagged. Turns out the tree was some kind of Tender Priest - though, gotta say, ‘tender’’s not the word springs to mind, what with all the battering.
There was someone else looking on as well, mind. Besides us, that is. Now, the rest of my team’ll tell me I’m seeing things, but on my life, swear to the Founders, there was something - iffy - about that woman. As in, she didn’t look alive. Actually, she looked distinctly un-alive. But what’s an undead lady got to do with a living tree of the Tender, and his silver-plated battle machine of a girlfriend, I ask?
So, toward the end of the night, it looked like things were finally cooling down on the bandit-snatching front. The mood had settled, you could say, into something a little more peaceful. Almost romantic, actually. They were walking together, side by side - the silver lady’s arm sorta brushing against his branches every so often, like she wanted to hold hands.
I’m not saying any of us’d be unprofessional enough to bet on whether or not it was a date. No sir. Not I. But what I am saying is, it sure was beginning to look that way. They’d stopped just outside one of the local Warrior churches at this point - apparently, she's also some bigshot priest - and they’re both kinda leaning towards each other, all hesitant-like -
- and that’s when the silver lady’s eyes go wide. She legs it.
And then, bizarrely, throws herself headfirst over the bridge, and into the canal.
Well, the undead girl was there in a flash, ready to help fish her out - and as far as I could tell, they made it out in one peace. Didn’t see much of the Tender Priest after that. Still, I hope they work things out. They certainly did the city a good turn tonight. Albeit a weird one.
Unnamed Child of Armand and Francesco