Thursday, March 09, 2006

My little Old World: Swimming with the Sharks #2

Assaults in and on the Sword and Flail
The PC's welcome was just as warm as before. While they were waiting to get their drinks at the bar, Berthold noticed a drunk being taken through the door behind the bar. He was able to see into the stairwell, and to conclude that the stairs down into the cellar were through that same door.

Having learnt the local form on their last visit, the 3 companions decided not to go for a table this time. They decided instead to stand close to the one table that was occupied. Berthold managed to overhear the burly looking bravoes sitting at the table discussing the violent fate that was to befall some poor unfortunate.

Just at that moment, one of the bravoes noticed Berthold's earwigging. Feck off! the young scribe was told. Before he could react Seigfried jumped in and told the bravo to feck off himself, before launching into a tirade the long and the short of which was that he could take them all, starting with the one who had- in his own earthy fashion- told Berthold to mind his own business. Naturally enough, the bravo and his 4 companions decided to show Seigfried the error of his ways.

The resulting brawl only lasted a couple of minutes, and at first it seemed to go rather well for the PC's. Alane managed to put 2 bravoes to sleep using her magic, and Seigfried managed to knock 1 assailant down, and forced another to withdraw. It was when people stepped forward from the crowd to replace those taken out of the action that Seigfried realised that he had misjudged the locals' reactions to a brawl with strangers.

The final outcome had a certain inevitability to it. Alane and Berthold were quickly knocked out, leaving Siegfried to fight alone against 4 men. Blow after blow rained down on the young protagonist, to no avail. As his stand dragged on and on, Siegfried was filled with a peculiar joy. He knew that he would be beaten down in the end, but he also knew that he would be remembered by the locals at the Sword and Flail.

And so it was that when Grundi and Mordrin returned to the Sword and Flail, they found their 3 companions lying bedraggled and unconscious in the alley outside the tavern. Seigfreid was still full of himself when he came to: sticking his head round the door of the tavern, he tossed a gold crown into the taproom, announcing that it was to pay for the damages, and to buy drinks for the locals.

Not content with that, as the party headed off in search of another tavern in which to eat, Seigfried popped his head back in again to deliver a cocky message to the Sword and Flail locals. This provoked a local to come to the door. A few tense moments resulted as the local and Mordrin and Seigfried indulged in trying to stare each other down. Neither side had any appetite for a fight though, and the party eventually went on their way.

Fed and watered, the party returned to the Sword and Flail with the plan of breaking in via the 1st floor windows once the tavern had emptied.

At the appointed time the party snuck round the side of the tavern. After enduring the humiliation of watching Berthold succeed where he had failed in getting his grappling hook securely located in the 1st story window sill, Seigfried climbed up and levered open the wooden shutter with his dagger. Inside he found himself inside a room full of junk. Sneaking forward he could see light coming in under the door, and could hear the sound of laughter and ribaldry from beyond. At the same time he could hear scrabbling and moaning and exclamations of dismay through the thin wall of the room.

The noise continued for some time. Siegfried decided to risk a peek through the door. He carefully opened it just a crack, and saw in the hall outside the door the barkeep and another man head through a door into another room, leaving a 3rd man waiting for them. He heard the sound of a quick beating being administered in the room from which he had heard the scrabbling before the barkeep and his companion exited the room. Alright said the barkeep, it's time to go downstairs.

Siegfried waited a few minutes, then snuck out the junk room and made his way stealthily downstairs. Reaching the door to the bar, he opened it a crack as carefully as he could. He looked through the door to see shadowy figures crouched behind the bar. One of them was looking straight at him. Hoping that perhaps he hadn't been noticed, Seigfried beat a cautious retreat back up the stairs. Unfortunately Seigfried's efforts at stealth were in vain at this point: he was pursued up the stairs, and the next thing he knew, he had been grabbed by the shoulder and was tumbling back down the stairs, where a swift blow of a cudgel knocked him senseless.

Outside the rest of the party were already restless and edgy when Berthold heard the crashing and thuds from the tavern's stairwell. It was time for action everyone decided. Mordrin and Grundi crashed into the door, once, twice, and burst through. As Berthold and Alane followed they saw the barkeep standing behind the bar, and Siegfried lying still between 2 other men at the end of the bar. The noise of the dwarf's first attempt at the door had alerted the 3 men in the tavern, and they were already drawing weapons and preparing themselves for the fray as the PC's moved in to the attack.

Alane opened the hostilities with a magical firey dart. Grundi and Berthold charged the 2 men standing above their recumbent companion, while Mordrin charged the barkeep. As the combatants exchanged blows and Alane sent magic darts flying, Seigfried came to. Finding himself on the floor in the middle of a melee, he briefly considered crawling out of the way before deciding on a much more useful option: he grabbed one of the enemy by the legs. Moments later, a quick twist brought the man crashing to the floor.

Grundi took full advantage of Seigfried's surprise attack on his opponent, delivering some telling blows against a foe outnumbered, grappled, and then prone. With Seigfried on top of him and a dwarf lining up his axe for another swipe at his head, the man decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and promptly gave up. Seigfried put his knife to the man's throat to keep him honest, pulled his rope out of his pack, and began to bind the fellow. Grundi went to assist Mordrin's against the barkeep.

Meanwhile Berthold's opponent too decided that enough was enough. With some fancy footwork and feints from his cudgel he forced the young scribe back a pace or two, then slipped past him and headed for the door as fast as his legs could carry him. His luck was out though: Alane was still in the doorway and he couldn't slip past her. Alane tried to no avail to drop the man with a sleep spell. Then Berthold charged in and grabbed hold of him. In a superhuman effort the puny scribe was able to wrestle his burly foe to the ground, where he called for help.

Hearing Berthold's shouts Mordrin left the barkeep to Grundi's tender mercies and ran to help the scribe. The dwarf's intervention was enough to foil their foe's escape attempts and Alane was finally able to use her magic to send him to sleep. Berthold began to drag the man across to his fellow so that he could tie him up too.

Grundi meanwhile had been swapping blows with the barkeep, who was proving a capable and determined opponent. Seeing his companions down, he decided to beat a retreat. Vaulting over the bar to head for the door, the barkeep was unlucky when Grundi caught him a blow before he could get out of reach. The man went flying to land in a heap on the floor.

Grundi followed up and quickly had him pinned to the floor. Mordrin ran up and opened Grundi's pack to get at the dwarf's rope. But the barkeep hadn't given up, and he broke free of Grundi's hold. Grundi grabbed him again, and Mordrin laid into the man's head with the edge of his shield. Eventually, sheer weight of numbers and his wounds told on the man's determination to escape: he too gave in, and was quickly bound.

By this time Alane had headed upstairs. Going door-to-door she found a bedroom, the junkroom through which Seigfreid had made his entry, and an upside down room in which an unconscious beggar lay on the floor.

Downstairs Seigfried made for the stairs into the cellar, only to stop when he realised that he was heading into the pitch dark. He backed up and waited until a lantern was lit, which was done while Berthold made the ground floor secure, and dragged the prisoners out of sight behind the bar where he could guard them with a crossbow borrowed from one of his companions.

The cellar, when eventually entered, proved to be just that: a tavern cellar full of barrels. There was certainly no sign of the hideout of a chaos cult, although the PC's suspected that the Sword and Flail tavern had yet to reveal all its secrets.

Swimming with the Sharks
- #1 High poltics and mixed demeanours
- Index:- My little Old World: Ashes of Middenheim

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