Brash Young Fools

Grok's Journal: Kings of the Old Quarter

In which the quarter becomes a problem.

I have pinned copies of the letters I wrote to my friends and family herein. When I wrote them, I was rotten with despair; cynicism had triumphed, the quarter seemed saved from the dark gods – now our struggle was with well-meaning men, seeking to save lives, and evil men, seeking power; but men all the same.

… three barrels of wolf fat to Aldreda Wordener – 36S

I have a story I will tell you, you dear lump of skin. I cannot tell my family and friends, so I will write it here, on this flimsy parchment, in this tally book I have found. This merchant’s manor that we shelter in is the selfsame one we battled Spittle atop – where Heinrich was trampled, where I caught this rot that spreads into my arm, the rot that none of Shallya’s sweet sisters can clean or treat. The owner, I presume, is long dead, so he will not mind if I scribe some notes between the sad records of his fiscal life.

… 200 faggots of cottonwood sold to Gundolf Zuriner - 80S

If I tell this story here, perhaps I will never have to tell it elsewhere.

… a handful of groats to hungry Leticia – 10C

When the sun rose in the morning, we were surprised to find ourselves alive. Less surprising was the situation; we’d saved the old town, but were well aware that we weren’t getting out any time soon. The major, ensconced atop the walls, told us as much, entrusting us to the care of his squire, Petal a 12-year old megalomanic who preferred to be called Bloodkiller IV. However, he also entrusted the care of the old quarter to us; if we could save it, as many of the population as possible, and keep any luminaries alive, we would have a reward. Frankly, surviving seemed reward enough. Soon, we were told, priests to heal the sick and bury the dead would arrive, as well as a notorious Witch Hunter, to keep the streets clean.

… Sylvanian spider-silk garters for Mayor Ludwig - 1G

Yet, too soon, we discovered a problem. Karl, our oft mute bounty hunter, was behaving oddly. Squinting, shying away from our gaze, his skullcap pulled down close over one eye. Eventually he showed us; his eye was warped, mutated, his pupil replaced by a symbol much like Shallya’s. I was aghast; Lucilla’s iron gaze shook; even Heinrich’s tiny brain gaped and swore with the horror of it. We were harbouring a mutant! Worse, it was of his creation; he’d been drawn to Rankoff’s daemonic rock and carried it all the way here with him! He’d even stashed it in the Temple of Verena with the rest of our equipment.

I mollified the monstrous fool by writing an insipid letter to his family; while he was away finding paper, we determined there was only one solution. To stitch up the eye, make it look like he had been injured, else the Witch Hunter would burn him; we would do this by main force, if necessary.

… hobbit chef’s knife set for Sharp Jake – free, and long may it keep us free from him.

“If the eye doth offend thee, pluck it out. So spoke a wise man.” I say to Karl. He looks a bit sick. We explain our plan; he looks slightly less sick, but starts to protest. Eventually we compromise a bit; we won’t stitch up the eye, but we will… scar it, a little. Now I must watch myself for signs of corruption, as I took great pleasure in the cutting of his eyelids. Afterwards it was such a mess that the Witch Hunter would have had no trouble in believing it was ruined.

I recruited a henchdwarf; a stunted, twisted man of simplicity and honesty, called Lou. He was also almost down to my height, so I believed I could trust him. With Lou’s assistance we recruited a family of local thugs, the Brothers Rich. Heinrich watched their boyish swagger and the fear they commanded with undisguised admiration; if low-lives such as these and carny-tricks like juggling and tumbling are the height of his aspirations, the man needs to learn more of the world, yet he snorts like a shire horse whenever I offer to teach him anything. Such company I am keeping.

At this point, Lou ran up to report that there was a riot at the main gate; the idiot Shallyans had arrived, to heal the injured and sick, bringing with them food. We rushed down and managed to rescue the battered priests, with Heinrich blustering the populace into submission. The food and medical supplies were already missing though, so we posted some of the Myrmidians at the gate and hastened back to the townhouse, where we set the Shallyans to healing. Quickly, they healed Heinrich’s more vile pox; sadly, nothing could be done for my spreading rot, save to bandage the area more tightly. “Maybe Shallya doesn’t want it to heal”, said one idiot priestess. Grudge, noted.

… ten kegs pissing beer for The Black Festag - 40S

A rapid search of the area didn’t result in the recovery of the supplies, but Heinrich cowed the crowd into returning one bundle. While we were out, Lou reported the arrival of another group of priests; the Morrites, a human death cult. Two local priests and a leader called Ivan, dispatched especially from Altdorf to consecrate the bodies. He was an odd man, alternately frivolous and serious, with a shock of white amidst the black of his hair. I didn’t trust him from the start, happily; not that helps us in the evaluating the damage he did. We caught up with him soon, and persuaded him to return to our house for safety, and deal with the corpses of the cultists on the roof.

Whilst this was happening, Lou arrived to tell us that a group of wizards had arrived. Garbed in purple, these Amethyst brethren were already arousing the fear of the populace. We couldn’t spare the manpower to find them, so we contented ourselves with establishing our haven for the night.

… ten kegs river water for The Black Festag – 5S (must remember to stick to spirits).

Returning to our quarters, we found that a new group had arrived; a well-equipped merchant with a large group of trained guards had come into town. We found him going between the houses of the wealthy, blackmailing the inhabitants into giving up their valued possessions in return for food and water. We feared there was nothing we could do to stop him, or to requisition his food; Yet, one second, Karl’s eye seemed to twinkle at the merchant’s wagon and the next it exploded. I stood aghast, but Heinrich sprang into action, grabbing the blasted sacks of food, and yelling to get the guards back to the safehouse.

It was while we were otherwise engaged that the Witch Hunter arrived. Oddly, Lou didn’t come to tell us; we found out why, when we went to the main gate; the Witch Hunter had seen his
deformities as a sign of Chaos, and impaled him on several spikes. The first honest human I’d met in this blasted quarter had died painfully and messily, under our protection. I looked Karl in his unbandaged eye and thought sad thoughts.

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