Story - Part 2

Author: Andrew /

Rollan walked silently while going as quickly as he dared. The streets were all but empty, with a few drunk stragglers tottering back and forth, some simply collapsing into incoherent lumps on the ground waiting for the dizziness to wear off. Rollan hurried along and ducked around the corner he saw Cedric (or at least, who he thought was Cedric) go around. There was no one here but the figure seemed to have been moving quickly. Rollan looked at the ground and saw footsteps in the dust. They were vague and even as he looked, chill alleyway breezes were blowing them away, but they were there all the same. He followed down alley between the tall buildings on either side.

The alley made a right turn and so did Rollan but then, as soon as he turned, he stopped. Where were the tracks? He was following them and now they were just gone? That didn't make any sen-

Then, at that moment, Rollan felt movement behind him and where once was only air, there now was a fine, slim dagger lightly resting on his throat. Hot breath warmed the left side of his face.

"What do you think you're doing?" it breathed.

"Would you believe just going for a walk?" Rollan slowly said, not wanting his throats movements while speaking to nick the knife sitting closer than he would like.

"No, I wouldn't."

Rollan didn't want to admit to snooping. A fellow that could do this... well... he's rather dangerous. He held his tongue.

"Friend," the voice said in a tone that was anything but friendly "you've got five seconds to say the word explaining yourself or I bleed you like a stuck pig and make sure you sleep in the sewers."

"Following..." said Rollan, not wanting to provoke the figure more.

The blade moved from his throat, a hand gripped his shoulder and spun him around to face the mystery assailent. As he figured it probably was, it was Cedric. Now the knife was pointed at him but at least he had a face to look at, albeit one vaguely lit by the moon. The face looked none-too-pleased.

"Why are you following me?" The tone demanded a quick reply.

"The way you tossed coins down in that tavern! I tried to ask about it but, well, you remember how that went..."

"Give me a reason not to still throw you down into the sewers."

"I wanted to see where you make that kind of coin. I live on coppers and here you toss a bartender gold?! I want a piece of that pie. I want to see what you do."

Cedric slid the knife back and grinned.

"You want to see what I do."

Rollan didn't know what to say to this so he held his tongue.

"This is what's going to happen. You meet me here three nights from now and I'll give you a task. You complete this task and you'll be on your way. You fail and, well, lets just say failure isn't an option worth your while considering. If I catch you following me again, and I would catch you, you'll dye your own clothes red, understand?"

With that, Cedric snapped his arm around Rollan's head, bringing the pommel of the dagger into the back of Rollan's head, knocking him out cold.

The next morning Rollan awoke, shaking the cobwebs out of his head, awakening a throbbing pain in the back of his head. He brushed his hand back, feeling a raised lump the size of a walnut. That guy hit hard...

Rubbing the back of his skull, he went back to the inn, found Gregory and asked about an apothecary where he could find some remedy. He directed him across town. Following the directions, he moved along the city streets, staggering a bit from the thud of his own feet resounding in his own head. Follow a guy like that he thought. What in the world was I thinking.... Real smart, Rollan, real smart.

He reached the point the directions pointed to, which landed him in front of a run down shack of a place. The windows were boarded shut and it almost looked worth condemning, except that there was a neat little wooden sign hanging on a nail on the front door with a crude picture of what seemed to be an herb carved on it. Rollan was no artist but even he though it wasn't a very good picture.

He walked into the shop and the inside was absolutely different. The smell of rich, smooth incense was all around as were more potted plants than Rollan had seen in one place in his entire life. The walls were hung with silks and heavy linens in rich deep blues and maroons. There were candles burning around the room, giving it a hazy, flickering light.

Out of the back of the room came a woman. She wasn't what Rollan expected. He'd expected some old, crippled hag who was bent over with bone problems and a raspy voice. She was not those things. She was tall, for a woman, at about six feet and slim. She looked to be in her mid thirties and was dressed in silks like those on her walls. Her hair was dark blonde, almost brown and the candlelight reflected off trace lines of light gold. Her skin was fair and her eyes were sharp.

"Can I help you?" She said.

Rollan realized he'd been staring. So taken aback was he by her appearance that he didn't think to say anything.

"Oh, uhm, oh, I need something for my head. Got mugged last night and they hit me pretty hard. Got a nasty bruise."

"Ah, I thought you'd actually pose me a problem that took solving. You want this salve. Just massage it into the bruise and you'll feel a tingling numbing feeling. That'll take care of the immediate pain. You then want to boil this in a tea. They're Moguish leaves. The fibers break down and have healing properties that will reduce swelling. Drink that every few hours and keep that salve on the spot. You'll be feeling better in a day or two. Also, don't do much strenuous activity."

"Wow, thanks."

"That'll be ten silver pieces."

Ten silver pieces? That was almost all he had! That would only leave him with a few copper.... Well, going with Ced better pay off. Grudgingly he handed over the coins and thanked the lady and left. He had an odd feeling left in his nose, probably from the incense, he thought. He trudged back to the inn, gave the innkeeper his last coins to cover a room for about a week more with basic meals.

He drifted off to sleep, thinking about the coin he'd have soon and in the back of his head, seemingly where the pain also was, was a lingering wonder about what it was that Cedric actually did and, now, he didn't have much choice of whether to participate or not... He was broke.


silent stone said...

You know, having the PCs start out broke is kind of hard to arrange in 4E—they just make so much money by adventuring. I think it would be interesting to have a campaign where the PCs are always broke, always hungry (sort of like Cowboy Bebop), always willing to do crazy stuff just to put a plate on the table.

Lincoln said...

hehe... "It's a hard knock life" comes to mind :P

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