Torix and Constantine

The Van Rijn Legacy
Apparently, it all runs in the family.

 The brothers and Mara were getting ready for their assignment, having just ended an interrogation a bit prematurely. The Bull had a few last requests for them, however, before they left.

"I don't want you to kill the Lion. Restrain him, and bring him to me. I have a few words I need to say to him."

Torix and Constantine's record with taking people alive was not very good, but it hardly mattered. They'd give it a shot, and Mara would come along. In the meantime, they had to find something to do in Bhangra Baba. They also had to decide when to tell Mara about their relationship. Business, they decided, would be the best way to avoid it for now.

 "When should we attack?" asked Constantine. "And where is the Lion's Den?"

Mara showed them the location of the Den, and the trio found that it was heavily guarded. Noon was approaching, and they wanted to get the job done before the day was over. The brothers stepped forward and decided to approach one of the guards up front.

Torix: “You there, guard. Go inside and tell the Lion we want to see him”

Guard: “Umm…Who are you guys?”

Constantine: “We are the van Rijn brothers. And that’s Mara.”

Guard: “…okay. Hold on a second.”

The guard goes inside, and returns after a moment.

Guard: “Why do want to see him?”

Torix: “We’re new in town and we heard about the rivalry between the Lion and the Bull. Thought that maybe the Lion could use hand, if he pays well enough.”

Guard: “Oh! Okay, okay, you’re mercenaries! Hold on.”

The trio looked at each other. Around here, apparently, walking around the city fully armed and armored didn’t necessarily mean you were a mercenary looking for work. The guard came back out and told them that one of the Lion’s lieutenants would meet them in the bazaar in half an hour. It was a start, at least.

They went over to the bazaar to see if they could do some shopping. They found an old elf merchant who seemed to have a pretty impressive array of goodies, and they started talking. Mahmoud, the old elf, showed them the fluff items he had: ornate skulls, fine clothing, etc. Finally, Mahmoud asked them what they did for a living, hoping to find something better suited to their needs. When they told him that they were mercenaries, the perfect item sprung into his head. He searched through some boxes in the back of his tent, and finally found what he was looking for. He opened the box and showed them three sets of weighted bracers which were made to let your swings carry more momentum. The trio recognized the potential of such bracers and asked the price. It was too high for them, but, Mahmoud told them he had a personal debt that would more that cover the cost of the bracers if they would but settle it. The brothers knew a good opportunity when they saw one, so Constantine hastily agreed to help Mahmoud.

Mahmoud told them to go to the tavern nearby, Bobak’s, and tell the man behind the bar that Mahmoud sent them to settle his debt. Constantine was ready to just intimidate this bartender into agreeing that the debt had been settled, but Torix wanted to see what the nature of the debt was before they did anything rash. They talked to the bartender, who was apparently Bobak, and learned that Mahmoud had bought Bobak’s daughter from him on credit and had never paid him back in thirty years. This was not worth intimidating someone over, and they asked what would pay Mahmoud’s debt to him. It had been thirty years, and Bobak couldn’t really think of anything. He told them to come back later to give him time to think.

As the trio exited out into the bazaar they noticed a particularly well dressed elf standing amid the crowd. He was wearing a black fez and the golden robes associated with the Lion. This would be their contact.

Constantine: Hello? Looking for mercenaries?

Elf: Yes? Are you the three that came by earlier?

Constantine: Yes. We would like to speak with the Lion.

Elf: I'm sorry, the Lion is not available. My name is Farid, and I am one of his seconds. Let me take you back to the Den to discuss business with my brothers, Khalid and Wahid.

The trio was happy to follow Farid back to the Den. There, as he had promised, were his two brothers sitting on a couch. In fact, they appeared to be triplets, as they all had roughly the same face. THe only distinguishing features were their headgear; where Farid had a fez, one had a keffiyeh while the other wore a scarf around his mouth.

As Farid sat down, he whispered something in one of his brother's ears. Torix caught only little bits of what they were saying. Something about “it looks like him, but I thought humans only lived like forty years”. Torix was eager to get down to business, which in this case meant a good fight.

Torix: Where is the Lion?

Farid: He is… out on business. Before we discuss terms, this is Khalid (guy with keffiyeh) and this is Wahid (guy with scarf).

All say they are pleased to meet each other.

Farid: Anyway, as I said, the Lion is out. However,  if you wait we may be able to find a job for you. What is it you do exactly?

Constantine and Torix: We're problem solvers.

Farid: And the girl?

Mara: Same as them.

Khalid: Wait a minute, don't you work for the Bull? Why is she in here?

Constantine: (putting on his best face) She wants to distance herself from the Bull. That's why she came with us. She just wants money, not all the attached strings the Bull gives.

Farid: All right then. Would you like somethig to drink?

Constantine: Yes, please.

Torix looked at his brother, thinking “What kind of world is it where people sit down to drink together before they kill each other?”

Farid snapped his fingers and an attractive elf girl came out with a kettle of tea promptly. She poured everyone a cup. As she walked away, Farid spanked her. A string of crude remarks ensued, and Mara patiently tolerated them. Now that everyone was in a good mood, Torix tried to see what it was the triplets were talking about as they entered. After a series of questions TnC found out that the elves thought Constantine looked like someone they knew when they were pirates.

Constantine: So this guy looked like me…Did he happen to use two scimitars?

Khalid: Well, yeah. That's not uncommon among pirates.

Constantine: Do you remember his name by any chance?

Khalid: Oh sure we do, we elves live longer than you, its only natural. His name was Prospero. Prospero…uh,well he never told us his last name.

Torix: It was van Rijn. Prospero van Rijn was our father.

Farid: Oh! That explains everything!

TnC engaged the elf triplets in a conversation about their times aboard the pirate vessel. They served on the Derelict Saint under the command of Captain Black John Dalton. His first mate was someone called Crazy Henry (who the brothers assumed was Black Henry). To their surprise, they found out that the elves had aslo served with Mad Seamus. This discover was very surprising to the brothers. They wanted to know more, but they had to get back to Bobak, so they promised the triplets that they would be back.

They returned to the bar and asked Bobak what he had come up with. Bobak put on a big grin, and asked “Have you ever been in a pit fight?”Little did he know how fortuitous his decision was. The brothers told him they were famous (more like infamous) for their exploits. It was an excited exaggeration. They were able to talk Mara into doing it because it was still fighting for money. Bobak told them to come back to the bazaar at sundown, and to be ready for a great fight. Torix was already pumped. Constantine had an idea, though.

He was impatient to get his end of the bargain from Mahmoud, even though the debt wasn't settled. The trio came up to Mahmoud's tent/store and called to him. He invited them in. Constantine told him that his debt to Bobak had been repaid, and that they were eager to recieve their payment. The old elf asked for some help looking though the boxes. Constantine filched an expensive-looking sliver sash from one of the boxes, and almost stuck his hand into a box full of animal traps. Finally, he found the bracers, and the trio strapped them on and took their leave.

Mara reminded them that they should keep the Bull updated on thier mission, so they decided to walk over to his estate. When they told him that Farid had told them that the Lion was out on business, the Bull became very concerned. “You don't understand. We never leave the city. Ever. Something is very wrong here. Find out more.” The trio left with the intent to do just that.

They went straight to the Lion's Den and were let inside to speak to the elf triplets. Only two of them were there. Happy to see them agian, Farid and Wahid knocked on the of the wall. Mara and TnC could hear some muted laughter, then Farid came through one of the side doors, tying his belt. When they were all settled in, Farid spoke up.

Farid:So, you have returned. What can we do for you?

Torix: You can start by telling us the truth, where is the Lion?

Khalid: We already told you, he's out on business.

Mara:Don't lie to us! From what we hear, neither the Lion nor the Bull ever leave the city, no matter what “business” they have. That's what seconds are for.

The triplets looked at them, knowing that they couldn't get out of this by lying agian.

Khalid: We can't tell you. We may have served with your father, but that doesn't change the danger involved with knowing the truth.

Constantine: Fine. But you served with him, you know that he had a sense of honor. We inherited that from him, he wouldn't let this secret out, and neither would we.

Torix: You need to trust us on this one. We might even be able to get him back for you.

The elves looked at each other, then spilled the beans. The Lion had been kidnapped. They found the Kaiser's personal seal on his bed, and their best intelligence was that he was in Vista as a prisoner of the human army. More confused than surprised, the brothers and Mara said that they would bring him back to Bhangra Baba.

This was big, so they went straight to the Bull pen. The trio told him what had happened. The Bull was surprised as well, and said that they would need to leave immediately. Torix reminded his brother and Mara that they had a pit fight to win first. They told the Bull about it and informed him that it was an opportunity to make some money. The Bull agreed, and gave them a package which he instucted them to present to the bookie on behalf of the Bull. It was light (it didn't feel like it had money in it), so they weren't sure what it was.

Mara and TnC found Bobak at the bazaar soon enough. They got everything striaghtened out about bets and setting the stakes, then they were led to the arena.

It was impressive, a box-like depression in the ground with moving pillars and traps. Probably of dwarven design. They were lowered in on one of the pillars, then thier enemies were set free. Four large lizards, and a huge elephant. The battle was bloody and exhilirating. Mara's ferocity was disturbing, Constantine's footwork was fantastical, and Torix's strength was animal. Everyone who bet against them got back exactly what they deserved: nothing.

Bobak talked to them after the fight, he had a business proposition for them

Bobak: Amazing! I've never seen anything like it in my whole life! And that means a lot coming from an elf you know! I've been thinking, what if you three and I made a business out of this. Bobak's Brawlers. How do you like the sound of that!

Constantine: Um…yeah. We have other plans.

Torix: Besides, we're mercs. This is fun, don't get me wrong, but like my brother said, we have other plans. Sorry.

Bobak was crushed. Once a bartender, always a bartender I guess…

They picked up their share of the winnings from the bookie, and took the Bull's package too. They brought it back to him and said they'd won (not like it was totally unforseen). The Bull opened the package, and took out five pieces of paper. He put two of them on the table and commanded Mara and TnC to follow him. They marched over to the Lion's Den and the Bull told Mara to stay outside.

The Bull approached one of the guards, who was dumbfounded by the sight of the Bull.

Guard: Um…I can't let you inside.

The Bull: (drawing his scimitar) If you value your lives, filth, you will get out of my way before I kill you where you stand!

Guard: Okay… just relax.

The guards bolted, and the Bull told TnC to flank him. He pushed open the heavy doors, and they walked inside. He threw the three pieces of paper onto one of the tables in the Lion's Den as the three seconds stood up.

The Bull: I'm offering you these three estates in case I don't come back. Let it be known that the last act of Zero DelToro towards Maurice DeLeon was one of friendship.

He turned around and left.

They had gone back at the Bull pen, and they were preparing to head out to Vista. Constantine noticed that Toophan Ali was still eyeing Leyla Miramar, who Constantine felt protective of. He reminded her that since they were going to Vista she might as well come along to see if that Kayvaan Salazaar fellow was still around. She agreed. They set out on their wildebeests, except for the Bull, who had an immense riding bull.

There was an annoying silence as they traveled through the desert at night. Torix sensed that this might be a good time to break the news to Mara. He looked at Constantine, and there was a moment of clarity between the brothers. They were going to tell her.  

 Torix: “So…Mara…Um…”

 Constantine: “Jacques sends his regards.”

 Mara: “What? Jacques?”

 Constantine: “Yes. We met up with him in Quixote, actually. He told us that we could find you in the Rainy Desert.”

 Mara: [Confused look]

 Torix: “(Torix tries a new approach) Umm…yeah. So when we were talking to Farid, Wahid, and Khalid…Um…”

 Constantine: “Well up until a while ago, we thought our father was dead, but it turned out he faked his own death-”

 Torix: “Before things got crazy in Eisenreich, we talked to him, and he gave us his journal.”

 Constantine: “Right. And it turned out that he had another life before the one with us, Torix and me. He was a pirate, as you heard from the elf triplets, and as we found out in his journal. We also found out that we have a half-sister. We…um”

 Mara: [Starting to see where this is going, but still unbelieving]

 Torix: “-We know it’s you. You are our half-sister, Mara.”

 Mara: “…Huh. Well…Okay. Wow. How?”

 Constantine: “Apparently, when he was ashore he had a relationship with an elf woman. Her name was Tara. Tara Danesti.”

Leyla: So it runs in the family, huh?

Torix laughed.

Constantine: Don't laugh, Torix! Are you okay Mara?

 Mara: “… (Looks at TnC, stunned)…I’m sorry, it’s just…it’s…Okay. This is a lot to take. So your father, our father…huh.”

 Torix: “We know how you feel. More or less.”

 Mara: “Okay, okay. So we’re related. But, why did you go looking for me?”

 Constantine: “Well, last time we saw our father, he was in a very powerful position. He was a revolutionary. After he faked his death, he searched Alfenne for you. After he failed, he went out into the plains and joined a farming community. He met someone there, someone who changed him. He was called The Man in Gray. There was an uprising, under this man’s influence, which failed. But Prospero took up this man’s quest, and his title, and moved back into the city with the intention to start another revolution. This also failed. With our help he had gotten so close to taking power. But, one of our comrades betrayed us and took power instead. In all the chaos we lost track of him again. Anyway to make a long story short, our father is a great man, a revolutionary, and if he is still alive, he would very much like to meet you.”

 Torix: “I don’t think that revolutionary is the right word, it’s more like…terrorist.”

 Constantine: “Don’t call our father a terrorist!”

 Torix: “It’s not like he was a kind of terrorist that just kills people and takes hostages for sport. I’m not saying he’s an anarchist. He just…well, he knew that sometimes you just have to make moral sacrifices to make the world change for the better. And that is the van Rijn legacy. That was pretty well said, I think. I am done talking now.”

 Constantine: “Yeah, so this is what kind of blood flows through your veins. Half of it, at least. But not that that’s a bad thing…”

 Torix: “Okay, I’m not done talking. Mara, now that you know you’re a van Rijn by blood, I will ask you to join my brother and me in our quest to find our father and see him into the position he sought as Kaiser of Hommeland. Well I don’t know if he wants to be called Kaiser, but whatever. What say you? Will you join us as a van Rijn?”

 Mara: “I think I will. I’ll join you. It sounds more exciting than the work that I’d be doing if I stuck around here.”

 Torix and Constantine look at each other approvingly, knowing that their father would be proud, if he’s still out there.

The Bull asked why they had waited to tell her this. TnC said that they had to find the right moment, and that that was their first good opportunity. They the Bull what had happened between him and the Lion.

The Bull:Well, I guess it all started when we were deep in the desert this one time. He tried to eat me.

Torix: What?

The Bull: He tried to eat me.

Torix: Eat you?

The Bull: Am I not saying right or something? Eat me. HE. TRIED. TO. EAT. ME.

Torix: Wha…Why?

The Bull: Well we had no food, and we were going a little bit crazy because we didn't have any water either. That started it, but we did far more terrible things to each other after that. We were friends though. I guess we still are, in our own twisted way. Look over there! Do you see it!

Everyone looked. Sure enough, there was the familiar glow of fires. It appeared to be a large camp of human soldiers. They were going to have to change their route. Constantine said that they (he, Torix, and Mara) could distract them while the Bull and Leyla went around the other side. It was agreed.

They dismounted their wildebeests, and snuck up to the perimiter. Constantine charged in, impaling one of the guards on his rapier. Mara followed suit, and so did Torix. Chaos followed, each of them fought countless men, and killed them. The camp's lieutenant, named LaGrange, tried to reason with them, but they killed him without hesitationl. They ran off into the night when they felt their work was done, leaving a copy of their wanted poster stuck to a wooden post in the camp. Torix saw someone doing light signals, and recognized the pattern as the one for “friend”. They figured it was the Bull and Leyla, so they headed in that direction.

View
The Lion and the Bull
Don't touch the bucket.

After chasing away the bandits, Torix and Constantine told Milo that his animals would be safe for the time being. Since it was still night, he told them the stables were still available for sleeping. TnC looked at each other and went back to “their stable”. When they awoke the next morning and headed back to Water Sheikh Miramar’s caravan.

He was pleased to see them, and asked them how it went last night. He was satisfied in their dealing with the bandits, and asked them to follow him a short ways. He walked them over to a nearby rock, and pulled out a bottle. The Sheikh asked Torix and Constantine to join him for a drink. They accepted and he poured them each a drink of what they presumed was some kind of alcoholic drink. The Sheikh downed it, and they followed suit. Before you could say wildebeest urine, Torix spit out the strange drink. Sheikh Miramar told them the ingredients, which included wildebeest urine. He offered them another drink, and TnC both declined.

He put the liquor away, and told them he had another job for them. He asked them to escort his daughter, Leyla, to the town of Vista where she was to be married to an elf named Kayvaan Salazar. Escort missions, especially ones that involved women, were new territory. They agreed nonetheless, and Sheikh Miramar led them back to his caravan. He presented his daughter to them, and gave them wildebeest to cover more ground. They were previously used to pull the caravan along, so they were not named. TnC settled on names quickly: Torix’s was called Gaius, and Constantine’s was called Gilgamesh. Leyla had her own animal, Bruto. They bid farewell to the Sheikh, and started off into the desert. There was a pretty significant period of silence before Leyla spoke up. She offered to tell them a story that she’d heard about a place called The City of Thieves. Having nothing better to do, TnC asked her to tell it.

It was a story about two boys who had gone to the City of Thieves in search of riches. They found them, but greed turned them against each other quickly, and they started a gang war that consumed the entire city. Torix and Constantine were intrigued by this place, and Torix asked if the setting of the story was a real place. Leyla said it was something of a legend to her, but beyond that she didn’t know. She said something about the human invasion, and mentioned how she had never seen a human before. TnC stopped her, and got off of their wildebeests. She looked at them, puzzled, then they took off their face protection to reveal their true identities. Leyla was surprised at first, but then she touched Constantine’s face and said “You’re much rounder than I would have thought”. TnC looked at each other and shrugged. Torix asked her about this Kayvaan fellow she was supposed to marry. It was a familiar story, she had seen him only once, he lived in a distant location…

As the day went on and the sun began to set, they came upon a water hole surrounded on one side by tents. Torix told Constantine and Leyla to stay on their animals in case something happens. He then dismounted and walked over to the tents. He called out to whoever might be there. A normal-looking desert elf came out of one of the tents. Torix asked if he minded sharing the water, and the elf was gracious. The elf introduced himself as Abu. Torix motioned Constantine and Leyla over. Abu started up a conversation, asking what TnC’s line of work was, seeing as how they were humans behind elven lines. They filled him in on their employment history, and then he asked how good they were. TnC were a little annoyed with him at this point, so Constantine said to him “have you ever seen a man de-legged with a single blow from a sword?” Torix backed his brother up by putting his hand on sword.

Abu started backing up, but let out a whistle. Two other elves came out from behind the tents, and a fight broke out. Torix and Constantine used brutal team work to take out Abu, and Torix de-legged him. One of the elves tried to grab Leyla and make off with her, but he was put to an end as well. The third one ran away. TnC made sure Leyla was okay before searching the rest of the tents. Torix found two rings and gave one of them to Constantine. In searching the last tent, Torix found another elf, who had slept through the entire fight. Still being riled up from de-legging Abu, Torix started whispering gibberish with increasing volume to the elf until he woke.

Startled he asked Torix what he was doing in the tent. Torix reached for his longsword, and said that he would be asking the questions. Torix shot the same question back at the elf, who told him that they were looking for two humans that the Lion had asked them to bring back to the City. Torix grunted, then hauled him to his feet and pulled off his own face protection. It was clear to the elf, who was named Hassan, that he had found his humans.

Torix took him outside to show Constantine. The brothers couldn’t figure out what they should do with Hassan besides kill him. They turned to Hassan and asked him for a reason. Hassan said he could show them the way to the Lion’s home in the City of Thieves. By now TnC had realized that the City of Thieves was a real place. They accepted the offer so they could get to the bottom of this business. Plus, Leyla had no problem taking a detour to a place of legend. It was night by now, so they decided to use the tents that were already there for shelter. Torix, not wanting to leave Hassan alone during the night, tied him up in a strange way and said he would sleep in the same tent as the prisoner. This left Constantine with Leyla. He said that they should probably stay together seeing as how there had already been an attempt on her. She concurred.

While they were in the tent, Leyla said she had a bottle of her father’s liquor, and asked Constantine if he wanted a drink. He accepted and they got too drunk to remember what happened. Torix woke up first, and kicked Hassan awake. He went over to Constantine and Leyla’s tent and found them asleep. He awakened them, and looked at his brother in a strange way, as if to ask what happened without asking. It went over Constantine’s head because he had a hangover. TnC went back to untie Hassan. As they were walking out of the tent, they spotted Leyla undressing so she could bathe in the water. Torix turned around quickly, and pushed the other two back inside the tent. TnC asked Hassan what the Lion wanted with their services, and the elf told them that his boss wanted TnC to kill the Bull. Apparently their reputation had preceded them.

TnC had rarely turned down work, so this was no exception. They agreed to meet with the Lion provided that Hassan bring them there. By now Leyla had finished bathing, so the four of them headed off. Since there were three wildebeests but four people, Constantine gave up his animal for Hassan while he rode with Leyla. They didn’t talk much. Eventually they came to a place in the desert that was flanked by two large dunes. TnC were suspicious, so they looked around to see if they were about to be ambushed. Constantine saw something to their right. They both got off of their animals and drew their weapons. Their assailants sprung out from atop the dunes. There were only two of them. TnC charged the one that they had heard previously. While they were fighting, they saw Hassan attempt to grab Leyla and make off with both her and Bruto. Constantine ran over and delivered a stunning blow. Torix took advantage of Constantine’s attack and struck Hassan hard. So hard, that Hassan went down. While TnC had been taking care of Hassan, their two assailants (who they noticed were wearing bull medallions) had stolen the other two wildebeests. Torix threw Leyla one of his swords and told her to keep an eye on Hassan.

The brothers ran after the wildebeests and caught up. Constantine stood up on the animal to get the advantage, and killed the Bull bandit. Torix managed to throw the bandit off of his wildebeest and they made some passes at him while he was on the ground. The brothers went back to Hassan to see if Torix could stabilize him, but he had bled out during the fight. Holding true to their mercenary mindset, they went over to the wounded Bull bandit and told him to lead them to the Bull. The logic behind this was that since the Lion had wanted to kill the Bull by using mercenaries, the Bull would probably be interested in having the Lion killed in the same way. The Bull bandit was named Mario Ali.

After a few days they finally made it to the City of Thieves. Mario led them to the Bull’s home then they let him go. The brothers had discussed the possibility of killing both the Lion and the Bull to end the “lover’s quarrel” as Constantine put it. Torix and Constantine walked up to the guards at the front of the building and told them to let them in. They were hesitant, but once TnC told them that they were looking for work, the guards said they would get the Bull. The Bull appeared promptly, nose ring and all. He demanded that TnC identify themselves. The Bull’s arrogance was painfully obvious, and Torix started getting angry. The Bull refused them because he already had a mercenary in his employ. Torix tried to ask him who it was, but lost his cool and yelled at him, demanding he tell them who it was. The Bull appeared flustered and went back in his house and slammed the door behind him.

By now Constantine had gotten angry with him too, and the brothers started taunting the Bull to get him outside so they could finish him. The Bulls guards asked if they should attack them, and the Bull gave them the go ahead. They easily took out one of the guards before getting the Bull’s attention. Mario appeared from the gathering crowd to help care for his cousin Toophan, who had been taken out in the fight. The Bull let them in. He asked them if they wanted any refreshments. Having had enough of strange drinks, TnC asked for water. It was brought out in a golden bucket. Clearly Leyla’s story of the treasures of the City of Thieves had not been exaggerated. Realizing that they’d left Leyla outside, they asked her to come inside.

The Bull changed his attitude completely now. He was very diplomatic, and asked what brought two humans out into the desert. TnC gave him a heavily abridged version of what happened with Violet. The Bull looked at them with new understanding. He said that he understood rivalries, and that this fact about their past may allow them to work for the Bull. They were intrigued. He said that, while he could not pay them with gold or trinkets (at least not right now), he could pay them with information about the human military. He gave them a more accurate map, and began to explain how the human army had fallen back to what used to be Aloeste, but was now called Port Rose. They controlled the town of Vista as well, much to Leyla’s dismay. TnC continued to look at the map, and saw that where Westhaven was supposed to be, there was a city called Port Vincent. Constantine made a joke about going on a rampage to destroy the city.

They noticed that Leyla had been very quiet ever since the Bull had mentioned that Vista had been taken over by the human army. Torix asked her what she wanted to do in light of this news. She said that she like the City of Thieves, and had always dreamed of visiting it, and now that she had nowhere else to go she might as well just stay here. Torix concurred. The Bull piped up and said that she could stay with him. TnC looked at each other and then the Bull. He gave them his assurances that he would be a complete gentleman.

Getting back to business, the Bull said that his mercenary was in the process of “extracting” a human officer called Vanderweiss. He was a lieutenant in the army. Once the lieutenant was here he could give Torix and Constantine what they had agreed was the down payment for their services. It was night now, and the Bull offered them his bathroom to sleep in. As they went in, he said “don’t touch the bucket”. Constantine snapped his fingers jokingly to Torix. They spent an uneventful night in the bathroom.

They woke up the next morning and heard voices in the main room. Torix, Constantine, and Leyla left the bathroom to find the Bull talking to who they presumed to be his other mercenary over the tied up for of a human soldier. The Bull introduced the mercenaries to each other. To their complete surprise, the female mercenary was Mara Danesti, in the flesh. They said nothing about their connection, and asked her if this was Vanderweiss. She said that there had been complications, and that sergeant Holtz (the man in front of them) was the best she could do. Making the best of the situation, the brothers began the interrogation.

Holtz asked them why they were working for the elves. Torix tried to hit him, but missed and tried to pass it off as a high five. It worked, but Holtz wasn’t impressed. They showed him their wanted poster to try to scare him. He was scared alright, but was still not being very helpful. Torix said that they were working for themselves, not the elves. Neither Torix nor Constantine were prepared for the interrogation because they had no good questions to ask. They got some information out of him regarding the retreat to Port Rose, but Torix knew that the questions weren’t going anywhere. Constantine knew it too. He came up to Holtz, and asked him if he had any family. Unlike the last time he asked this question, Holtz said he did. Constantine would not be denied, and said that when you work for the army, death was an occupational hazard. Constantine drew his rapier, but Torix stopped him, and said he wanted to do it. Holtz tried to ask why they were working with elves for a second time, and Torix responded by decapitating him.

The Bull was surprised because he thought they were going to ask more questions. Mara spoke up and said “Do you have any idea how much trouble it took me to get him here?” Torix apologized, and volunteered to get rid of the body. He went back inside, and they started talking about dealing with the Lion. Torix was ready right then and there. The Bull said “Don’t you at least want some breakfast?” Torix responded “Oh yeah, right…”

View
Exit Stage Left
Will you not salute your General?

The situation was tense, to say the least. General Dominic Meyer lay unconscious at the feet of the brothers and the Prime Minister. They, in turn, were surrounded by the Colonels and the remaining command guard.

Colonel Metzger said that they could perhaps call an end to the bombardment if they let the General go. DeGaulle wouldn't buy it. He demanded that the Colonels  end the bombardment as a precondition toany further negotiation. Colonel Grimm agreed to call it off, and left to do so.

In the meantime, the trio began discussing what to do with Meyer, and what they could get out of the whole deal. Colonel Metzger mentioned that they were not entirely equipped to make negotiations on behalf of the Kaiser, as they did not know of as much of his plan as the unconscious General did.

After some continued awkwardness, Colonel Grimm returned with two full pike squares of men. Seeing this as a threat, Constantine suggested that Torix take the General to an "undisclosed location" (that is, the Prime Minister's house) and keep him there as a bargaining chip.

At that, Torix flung the General over his shoulder and sauntered through the stunned human ranks on the way back to Artagnan's walls. "What?" he asked them mockingly, "Will you not salute your General?"

DeGaulle and Constantine were getting a feeling that they may be attacked soon, so they hastened negotiations. Together they convinced the two Colonels that, despite the human empire's obvious military advantage, it would be in their best interest to withdraw and consult the Kaiser about what moves should be taken next. DeGaulle wanted to get as much of Alfenne back as possible; Constantine just wanted to get away.

Ultimately, the Colonels concluded that they would withdraw from Artagnan by the next morning, but would continue to occupy the Zonne indefinitely unless something changed during the course of further negotiations. They could not be sure of the Kaiser's long term goals, and did not want to screw them up by getting the General killed unnecessarily. Finally, they let their two former opponents walk back to the capital unharmed, not fearing any further bombardment.

 When the prime minister and Constantine arrived back at the former's house, Torix had already tied the General up and was keeping him upstairs on a bench. The three waited for him to come to.

Upon doing so, he asked about the elven smell in the room and about where he was. They told him he was somewhere in Artagnan, and that was all he needed to know. he asked if he could get some food, and, since DeGaulle was hungry as well, he obliged.

Torix, Constantine, DeGaulle and the General each had a plate of eggs and croissants which the Prime Minister was able to secure through some connections. They wouldn't let the General use utensils, however, and kept his arms and legs bound to be safe. Over for, they began a living room interrogation.

DeGaulle began prying Meyer for diplomatic solutions and his value as a bargaining chip. Meyer said that DeGaulle's time was limited, as the Kaiser probably would have no qualms about losing a General given the scope of his plan. He futher said that capturing Artagnan was not itself a priority, but simply a security measure to decrease the likelihood of an assault on human supply chains when they finally did decide to attack the dwarves.

Since the old leadership was gone, most of Kaiser's goal was complete in Artagnan, much to the chagrin of the brothers. He then went on to say that while he may not be a very valuable bargaining chip in terms of gaining favor or power with the Kaiser, DeGaulle had in his possession two of the best trade-ins he could have hoped for. DeGaulle said that while he liked that idea, he felt it would be unwise to become an enemy of the brothers and still risk an attack from Violet, although he would probably formally exile them to be safe.

At this, Meyer spit on Torix's face. He wiped it off, and responded with a croissant crum-laden salivary retort.  Meyer was forced to rub it on his shoulder as he could not use his arms, to which Constantine quipped, "Oh look, it can use tools!" The brothers high-fived and settled in the burn, and then, with DeGaulle's permission, threw Meyer back upstairs so they could finish their meal in peace.

The brothers decided, then, that as soon as the human battle line lapsed they'd best get going. On one hand, they were a danger to DeGaulle, and on the other, they had a revenge to take care of which would be much easier if they could catch their ship. So at that, they thanked DeGaulle for his hospitality and his good faith and he told them that, despite any formal exile that may occur, they would always be welcome in Artagnan.

The morning of their departure, they decided that they should find Shotglass Alderman and see where he was headed. They found him in a bar celebrating the human retreat with the cannoneers that he had trained and Colonel Franco DeFranco. They were doing shots of Dwarven Vodka that the humans had left behind. The brothers pulled out their map of Fortuna as they told Shotglass that they would be leaving, and asked him if he could intercept the Chasing Oblivion as it sailed up the East Stromm.

He told them that he'd rather stay in Artagnan if that was okay. He had grown attached to the elves and their women, and enjoyed working the cannons with the elf military. He said that if they really wanted him to leave he certainly would, but if they didn't mind he really rather be there if they were to ever return, which he hoped they would. Also, Shotglass said, the brothers would be more likely to catch up with the ship anyway, as long as they could make it to the huge river in two weeks time, which they could if they could get a vehicle or a fast animal.

Seeing his point, the brothers agreed to have one last drink, for now, with Shotglass Alderman. They each had a shot of the Kaspargrad Brand Vodka, and clasped hands with him before parting. They were about to make their exit into the Rainy Desert.

 

------

 

 They waited until they could only barely see the human retreat on the horizon before they advanced. Onward into the edge of the Southern Oasis they walked, leaving Artagnan behind them. They walked past abandoned and fortified farms, chopped palm trees, razed fields, and other marks of the temporary human occupartion of verdant elf lands. In the edge of the Oasis, not an elf outside of Artagnan was to be seen.

Just before the vegetation gave way to sand, the brothers saw something they had only seen in a drawing: a gorilla and her babies drinking and bathing in a watering hole. Cautious not to disturb them, they crept by a bush with their eyes fixed on the gorilla family until a noise in the distance caught their attention.

"Hey, human scum," it said, "you think you can do this to us. We got you alone, who's big now?"

"We can talk about this," said Torix.

"We don't want to talk," the angry elf in the distance said as he drew a curved blade, "we want you to remember not to mess with Eduardo and his bandits!"

This again, thought the brothers. "Well, if they want to die, let's give them what they want," said Constantine. Torix grunted in agreement, and they both drew their weapons.

Eduardo's bandits were a fast bunch, and pulled a lot of flashy techniques the brothers had never seen before. It almost reminded them of their fight with Black Henry almost half a year earlier, and left them disoriented for a moment. Their footwork was sharp, and their blades seemed to dance through the air. This was more than the brothers had bargained for.

 All right then, thought the brothers. Torix got his wits about him first, and assumed his best fighting stance to strike at Eduardo as soon as Constantine had him distracted. Constantine stumbled around Eduardo, but with a lucky, almost drunked swing hit him in the head in such a way as to make him stumble and fail to respond.

The other three bandits consolidated on Torix to take him down, but it was to late. Constantine had already snapped back into action, and leapt back and forth with his sword, gashing Eduardo and forcing him to expose his neck. Torix seized the opportunity in a shower of gore that scared the gorillas away from the combat.

From there, the brothers cut the remaining foes to ribbons. The bandits were all flash and no substance, and Constantine's rapier and the brute's executioner's sword made short work of them. They spared one so that he may run off to tell the tale. They no longer were concerned about maintaining any semblance of a peaceful reputation.

The fight had left them exhausted and thirsty. However, they refused to drink the gorilla water before them and decided instead to press on into the desert. They continued, hoping to find some form of settlement soon. Instead, they first spied a caravan of robed figures, wagons, and wildebeest in the distance.

They tried to flag them down, but a purple robed elf at the front of the caravan seemed to be deliberately ignoring them. This frustrated them, but they were no longer in a fighting mood. Instead, they followed the caravan on foot and fought off heat exhaustion until they finally caught up. At this, the caravan stopped.

The purple robed figure walked around to the back, and pulled down his face scarf to reveal elven ears, tan, wrinkled skin, and a thick, cropped black beard. He introduced himself as the Water Sheikh Miramar, and said he wanted nothing to do with human agents. Torix and Constantine then explained who they were, and he was taken aback. He offered to let them walk and talk with him at the front of the caravan as they headed towards Pallas Arena, a village he needed to check on. He gave them blue and gold desert attired to prevent burning. They were honored.

He explained that, as Water and Trade Sheikh, he essentially managed water collection for the nomads of the southern Rainy  Desert. Pallas Arena was a key collection point, and he needed to make sure the humans hadn't compromised it. He hoped he could maintain the integrity of the water network.

The brothers, in turn, explained that they were pirates, mercenaries, assassins, and self employed travellers look for a job and some transportation. He said that he could get them wildebeest steeds (horses were all stolen or killed by humans) if they did him some favors. They said they would be happy to.

He asked them if they thought they could handle fighting three lions. They said they were certain they could, but they were confused. The Water Sheikh said that, prior to the human invasion, Pallas Arena had a bandit problem, and already since the withdrawal he had heard of a herder's donkey's being stolen. As such, he could compensate them for guarding the village against or eliminating the banding problem.

They got to the village, which was really a collection of tents, a few huts, pens, and shacks, with strange apparatuses which they assumed were for water collection. They found the herder, an elf by the name of  Milo Allende. He had two remaining donkeys in a fenced enclosure that needed guarding. They asked they could spend the night, and he was more than happy to let them. They covered themselves with robes and dawned their Penumbra Masks, and sat down in the enclosure to wait for nightfall.

Long after the desert sun set the brothers herd a noise near them. They saw that there were three robed figures approaching. They decided that things would be easier if they ended them quickly, so Constantine drew and fired his crossbow without asking any questions. Torix then leapt at the unsuspecting bandits. They barely knew what hit them, and although the curved blades they drew in response stung Torix with light cuts, two of the bandits were cut down before either of the brothers batted an eyebrow.

The remaining bandit pleaded for his life, and once again the brothers decided to be merciful. "Maurice DeLeon will here about this!" he yelled as he ran off into the desert night. Whatever, they thought.

View
Risky Business
I bow before your brilliance, General.

Torix, Constantine, DeGaulle, and Colonel DeFranco stood in awe of the amassed human army. Eventually they saw that there was a group of five approaching the city. Torix and Constantine sprung into action. They thought of a plan to get safely behind enemy lines by "allowing" DeGaulle to hand them over to the humans as prisoners in exchange for some diplomatic leeway. Torix took his newly acquired dagger and hid it on his person. The brothers handed their other weapons to DeGaulle so that they would appear to be prisoners. They waited as the group approached Artagnan. There was a very obvious knock on the front gate. The elven soldiers opened the city gate for the group.

It turned out to be four swordsmen and who Torix presumed to be the customary human messenger. The messenger pulled out a scroll and read his message. Though it was annoying, it was straightforward enough for DeGaulle to understand that they were giving him a chance to surrender and become part of Hommeland. The messenger said that their decision was requested immediately. DeGaulle (in accordance with the plan TnC had just outlined) launched into negotiating mode, and was finally able to convince the negotiator to take TnC in exchange for an hour and a half of extra time to consider the decision of surrender. The negotiator and his men took TnC back to the battle lines. On the way there they asked what it was that they were imprisoned for. Constantine piped up and said that they were special agents sent to destroy the opening to the canal that led to Artagnan. Marius had no idea what "canal" they were talking about, but said that if they were agents, they should probably go to one of the higher ranking officers for debriefing.

He said something about a General Meyer. The hairs on Torix's neck stood up. TnC were awkwardly put in the middle of a pike square and waited for a while. Marius came back and drew his sword. He said that if they were real human agents they would have killed themselves immediately after failing their mission. Since they were obviously alive, he wanted to know who they really were. Constantine stuck to the human agent story, saying that when they had been captured had their explosives confiscated. This was convincing enough for Marius because he was familiar with the use of explosives within the military. He left to remind DeGaulle that he and the elves had half an hour left to decide. TnC conferred with each other and decided to slip out of their restraints.

Nobody saw, and they started walking around behind the lines. Meantime DeGaulle had done a big hit of opium to get in the zone, and observed the messenger and his guard coming back to the city. They let Marius in, and he asked if they had reached a decision. DeGaulle realized that he couldn’t really stall anymore, and started mumbling about Torix and Constantine being in position. Marius gathered that the two men they’d just taken behind the lines were probably allied with the elves.

DeGaulle noticed that Marius was paying attention and grabbed his spear and impaled him. With his dying breath, the messenger told the swordsmen that the humans were definitely not human agents, and that they had to be found. They ran. While this was going on,

TnC had found the artillery that the humans had used against the city. Torix gave his dagger to Constantine, knowing that it would be a more potent weapon in his hands. They walked up to an artillery crew, and tried to look like they belonged there. Constantine told them they were observers from the Kaiserheim sent to survey the army. The crew showed them how the artillery worked, and TnC took notes in their head. The swordsmen from Marius came back and told the soldiers to find the people they’d just brought in. The artillery crew was behind a barrier, and hadn’t seen that TnC were ever bound as prisoners. The brothers decided to try to get the soldiers attached to the artillery crew to search for “the prisoners”.

They said that their standing order was to protect the artillery crew, and felt even more justified staying where they were in case the prisoners went for the artillery. TnC decided to try to sneak away, but Torix caught his foot on the barrier and a soldier saw him. They froze. An officer approached them, and introduced himself as Lieutenant Klein. He held out his hand as if to offer a handshake. Torix extended his hand reluctantly, and Klein brushed it through his hair in insult. Torix took a swing at him and a fight started. Klein told a squad of crossbowmen to attack them as well. Torix ran for cover behind the artillery barrirer and Constantine followed. Corporal Ross (a soldier attached to the artillery crew) told them that this was no time to observe them.

A barrage of crossbow bolts flew past them, putting the soldiers into a panic. Constantine drew the dagger and killed the nearest soldier. Officer Ross ran off as Torix reached down to take the fallen soldier's longsword. They killed one engineer and one soldier before taking another volley from the crossbowmen. Constantine lowered the pitch of the cannon. Torix rotated the artillery cannon so that it faced the adjacent one. The remaining engineer pushed the cannon back into its original place.

Sensing a very annoying series of events, Torix slashed the engineer across the chest with the sword, and pushed the cannon back into place. The Constantine loaded and fired the cannon at a the adjacent artillery position. They hit the dirt to avoid another barrage of crossbow fire. They went on for a while repositioning the cannon and destroying artillery and eventually groups of soldiers. The soldiers were not attacking them becuase of a mix of Shotglass's cannon fire and some of the criminals that Enrico Brazzi had unleashed.

In the meantime DeGaulle had rallied some soldiers to meet the humans on the field. DeGaulle took TnC’s weapons with him as he went out. Their forces smashed together, and the elves were clearly outnumbered. However, TnC were able to give them some supporting fire from the artillery, which took out an entire squad of human soldiers in a single shot. DeGaulle saw that his men had the upper hand, and left to give TnC their weapons.

With a three-man team working the artillery,DeGaulle and TnC were able to take out the human crossbowmen that had been firing on the elves. Their immediate area was cleared of human soldiers, so they went back to talk to the elves who survived the recent melee. They had been battling next to a patch of thick foliage into which they had seen Enrico Brazzi disappear. Sure enough, they found him, and hauled him out. He was unconscious, but Torix was able to revive him.

DeGaulle and Constantine were slightly upset that Brazzi was still alive. They decided to fall back to Artagnan to think of their next move. Everyone knew that the elves were outnumbered, and were likely to lose if the battle continued at its present pace. Having no other recourse, they decided that they needed to take out the battlefield leadership, which meant two things. Another, even more suicidal commando mission than TnC were used to. TnC would be striking a blow against their own people.

Torix said that since helping the humans means helping Violet, they had to oppose the humans. There was no other choice. Since there were only three of them, and there was plenty of ground to cover from the city walls to the Hommeland command post, they had to figure out a way to make it there in one piece. Torix suggested that they go by horse, which was a feasible option. Using the newly “acquired” artillery from the humans, they were able to set up a barrage that would land in front of them, providing cover for their mad dash.

It was tough, but they managed to get pretty close to the command post without encountering any real opposition. They dismounted their horses and started sneaking up to the post. They noticed a large wooden tower that was being used to survey the battle lines. There was also a weird kind of prefabricated building that appeared dwarven in design. The human leadership was simply standing there in a clearing. They were surrounded by entrenched crossbowmen and two artillery positions.

One of the officers heard them, and sent a group of crossbowmen to check it out. They saw nothing, seeing as how the group had moved around to the back side of the prefabricated building. DeGaulle made a loud noise as his greatspear contacted the side of the building. A voice said “Whoever you are, you should come out so we can talk.” Torix recognized the voice as that of Dominic Meyer.

Sensing a deception, Torix drew his sword and charged out to start a fight. He was immediately immobilized by a well-tossed bola. There he stood, sword drawn, battle in his mind, and faced by his nemesis. Meyer pulled off his helmet and rubbed his eyes to confirm that he was indeed seeing Torix van Rijn. Torix’s hatred shown through his eyes, and Meyer stood there mind-blown. “Torix?” Meyer blurted. Torix smiled fiendishly, “I bow before your brilliance, general.”

A tense conversation ensued, and the two officers standing beside Meyer were introduced as colonels Tiberius Metzger and John Grimm. Torix had had enough, and threw himself into battle. He shook loose of the bola, and attacked Metzger. Constantine and DeGaulle joined the fight. After seeing the feral determination inside Torix, Meyer tried to withdraw so that he could continue commanding the battle around the city.

Torix hounded his steps, and Constantine managed to get in a painful stab. Sensing the opportunity, DeGaulle went over and attacked the general with his greatspear. Meyer went down. Torix was nearly overcome by the urge to deliver the coup de grace on the downed general, but the two colonels started to talk. They said that they had to be allowed to continue, that more was at stake here than military conquest. None of them bought it. Grimm went on to say that Vincent Violet was trying to destroy the deception, and that all of the past transgressions would be explained and justified. Torix was unwilling to be talked out of taking his revenge on Meyer, who was apparently the only one who knew the full details of Violet’s plan.

DeGaulle seemed convinced that there was truth to what they were saying, and told them he was interested in peace in the long term. Torix reluctantly revived Meyer so that they could get some answers from him. He didn’t say anything particularly revealing before he passed out again. There they were, torn between their curiosity and the fact that they had an opportunity to eliminate the general behind all of the conquest of the elven lands.

View
Honey and Hot Wax
Everybody doing what they do best.
View
Monarch Killing Specialists
Traitors, and loving it.
View
Fighting Dirty
We only do it because we have to.

Torix, Constantine, and Jacques are surrounded by separatists outside the Hazy Barrel.

 "Meet us in the bushes over there," says the apparent leader. He has a sword and crossbow, as do most of the other angry looking elves.

"Do you want us to meet you in the bushes, or just, um,  our friend?" asks Constantine.

 "Alright, so you guys, obviously you're going to try and fight us… really though, I don't know if you are trying to scare us or if you're stupid enough to try and fight us, cause, I mean, you look it, but really, I'm kind of puzzled right here…" begins Torix.

"They look stupid enough?"

"Yeah well-"

"We don't really care about you guys, just step aside from Jacques and let us deal with him behind the bushes," says the leader most seriously.

The brothers burst out laughing, but no one else seems to think it's funny. A crowd is gathering, shouting things on both sides. Constantine makes a wisecrack, and the elves grab their weapons.

The brothers respond quickly.

"You wil not talk about me that way, or my name is not Aleman Vallejo! Get out of the way!" He charges in an attempt to get between the brothers and at Danesti.

Torix and Constantine smile. Torix grips his sword and gets ready to let Vallejo have it as soon as Constantine distracts him. Constantine dives back and tumbles around the elf, spinning him around. As he turns, Torix smashes him in the middle of the shoulder blades with both hands around the pommel of his sword, sending Vallejo to the ground with an incredible amount of force. Constantine kicks him in the face, flipping onto his back and knocking him out cold.

Jacques, the remaining separatists and the crowd are staring wide-eyed. Vallejo is bleeding profusely from his nose and mouth, so Torix wipes his face down and staunches the bleeding with a rag.

Constantine addresses the crowd. "Who the hell are you two?" says one of the separatists.

"Torix and Constantine van Rijn."

"You too ever fought in an arena?" someone in the crowd asks.

"Yup."

"Many times."

"You guys to talk to the people at the kiosk over by the stadium. You'd be good in the ring."

"Oh we will," says Constantine. Torix nods to him. "You guys should leave now unless you want to end up like uh, your boss here."

"Can we take him with us?"

"Go ahead-"

"Constantine!" interrupts Torix, "we have to take him back to the jailhouse!"

"Oh, right, okay, nevermind," he answers his brother, then turns back to the separatists. "No, you can't have him!" he points his crossbow at them as they approach.

The crowd disperses.

View
High and Dry
Turning over a new leaf.

The brothers return from their trip around the world to learn that now-Kaiser Vincent Violet has invaded the elven Empire. On the elven separatist island of Quixote they meet exiled parliamentarians and surly criminals at odds with one another. As usual, Torix and Constantine seek opportunity in conflict.


On the FMS the crew and co-captains Torix and Constantine van Rijn practice piracy on ships as they proceed past the sea of storms into unknown territory.
They came upon islands that were previously undiscovered. The inhabitants of the islands were beast-like savages with scales and fur. They killed some and reached understandings with others. After staying there and adding the new islands to Meursault’s charts they left and continued through the sea of torrents. By the time they saw the edge of the Isles De Este it had been a good six months of piracy and exploration at sea.

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Music to my Ears
It seems like crime follows us wherever we go.

TnC had finally arrived in Westhaven. They left their boat on the shore because they weren’t really intending to have to use it again. Torix wanted to get rid of some of his old equipment, so they sought out a merchant. The merchant introduced himself as Arnie Hoffman. Hoffman was disagreeable at first but clearly wanted a profit. After some haggling, Torix was able to sell his two old fullblades and his old scale armor for 84 gold pieces.

They had decided earlier that their first order of business when they reached Westhaven would be to find Red and Maslow, so they set out to do just that. While they were looking for a music shop, Constantine saw a poster that said something about a challenge being held at Big Joe’s tavern in lake Marcato for the position of first mate on the FMS Derelict Saint (Black Henry’s ship). He snatched it and stored it while they continued to look for a music shop.

Eventually they found Fletcher’s music shop, and entered. It wasn’t very striking. Two musicians were playing and the owner stood conspicuously behind a desk. TnC approached Mr. Fletcher, who introduced himself as Clyde Fletcher. TnC asked him if he’d sold any instruments to a pair of men from up the river- they were friends of TnC who had told them to meet them in Westhaven. He told them he hadn’t sold anything recently, but made a slip of the tongue and said that the two musicians were from Tasch.

TnC turned to examine the musicians. They were beardless, but looked like Red and Maslow. They approached them, and Constantine called out their names. They stopped playing, and a very awkward conversation ensued. Torix was getting angry, and asked Maslow if he could see his bass. He handed it to him suspiciously, and Torix swung it at him. He missed by a mile and smashed it on the ground. Constantine drew his weapon, and Torix followed suit. Not having any real weapons on them, Red and Maslow attacked them with their instruments. They yelled at Fletcher to leave while he had the chance. He busted his back window, and climbed out into the street. Red ran for the door, and escaped past Constantine. The musicians and TnC started to fight. Red turned to run after being hit a few times, and Torix took a swing at him. In his rage, he directed the blade at Red’s neck, and made contact. Red’s severed head sailed through the broken window. TnC looked at each other, and followed Maslow out the door. He was surprisingly fast because he was nowhere in sight. He did leave some noticeably bloodied footprints, which TnC followed. They lead straight into lake Marcato, so TnC decided they had lost him.

Constantine took out the notice for the contest in Big Joe’s tavern, and they headed out. They reached the tavern and walked up to the bar. Torix laid out the notice on the table in front of him. Big Joe told them that that notice was a week old, and that someone called Monocle Mel had won the challenge. Black Henry and his crew were still in Westhaven though.

TnC were disappointed, so they sat down and started to talk to a man named John Meursault. He had some pretty wild theories about being able to sail around the world, and the possibility of another continent on the other side of Fortuna. TnC were skeptical, but he did provide them with a way to get a ship to leave Westhaven. They took him up on his offer to sail around Fortuna, and went to visit the shipwright that Mersault had mentioned.

 When they found the building, there was nobody inside. They walked up to the desk and saw a note that said “gone out to work on the babies”. They figured that this meant that their shipwright (Karl van Shipwright) was outside working on his ships, which he was. Van Shipwright was wearing glasses, which was very rare. They talked about buying a ship, and Karl showed them his catalog. Everything was out of their price rangebut they wanted to see what ships wer available anyway. He showed them the FMS Under Fire, the FMS Fishfinder, the FMS Quiet Fortitude, and the FMS Unsinkable II. None of these particularly appealed to them, so they asked him if there was anything else he had to offer. That was when he brought out the FMS Chasing Oblivion. It was of an experimental dwarven design that did not need sails.

Since van Shipwright knew that they couldn’t pay in gold, he said he had a favor to ask of them. He said he was having problems with a group called the Book Club. TnC looked at each other, and said they knew the group. Van Shipwright said they wanted his business or they’d burn down his shop and kill him. He said he would give TnC The Chasing Oblivion if they could deal with the Book Club in such a way that they wouldn’t threaten his business again. TnC said they’d consider it.

Van Shipwright told them that there was a Book Club agent called Hunter Keelhaul that would probably “visit” his shop tomorrow night. He suggested that TnC should try to either capture him to find where the Book Club’s headquarters was, or follow him back from the shop. Van Shipwright said they could spend the night at the lighthouse because the man who ran it, Hawkeye Larry always had a spare room. They stayed the night there. TnC decided to go back to the bar to talk to Meursault about the ship they might be able to get. He was interested in it, and then started talking about finding a crew. They didn’t have a good idea about whom they could talk into joining their voyage.

Constantine suggested holding a challenge, but that caught somebody’s attention. An old-looking man with a cigar in his mouth told him that if they did that, Black Henry would be very unappreciative. TnC decided to leave. Torix said that maybe they should look for Maslow so they could tie up another loose end. Constantine asked around, and he found out that the word on the street was that two wanted men from Eisenreich had killed a musician in Clyde Fletcher’s music shop.

In addition, Fletcher had hooked up with a Hommeland marine to search for them. That marine was called Officer Stockholm. TnC started planning. Constantine decided that he would plant information in the population, that he would spread rumors to make sure that the officer and Maslow would be misdirected for a while longer. It worked, and they saw Maslow, Officer Stockholm, and some regular citizens all show up at Joe’s tavern (where Constantine said that he and Torix would be) and kick down the door. They walked away after they saw them enter the tavern.

They waited until nightfall to go to van Shipwright’s place. TnC started putting on their Penumbra uniforms so that Keelhaul wouldn’t be able to give an accurate description of them. They had only their masks on when they came to the door of van Shipwright’s shop. It was locked, and a voice from inside said, “Shipwright’s busy”. TnC looked at each other and prepared for combat. Torix kicked in the door. They saw Shipwright behind the counter with someone they figured was probably Keelhaul threatening him with a knife. A tense conversation started as TnC drew their weapons. Keelhaul turned immediately on Shipwright and put his knife up to him, telling TnC to put their weapons away. They, of course, didn’t listen and started fighting. Torix tells van Shipwright to run, and he makes it to the door.

Torix knocked him down, and Keelhaul asked who they were. Constantine replied, “Like we’re gonna tell you”. The fight continued. Eventually Keelhaul realized the fight was hopeless, and surrendered. Torix asked him what Shipwright had done to get the Book Club to go after him. Apparently Shipwright had promised to make a ship for the Librarian, but never came through. Since Shipwright was still there, TnC asked him if it was true. He confirmed it. Torix whispered in Keelhaul’s ear, “tell the Librarian to watch out for Torix and Constantine.”

The brought him to his feet and shoved him towards the door. He caught himself and whispered something to van Shipwright. Apparently the Librarian would be sending more people after Keelhaul got back. Shipwright started telling TnC that there was an officer asking questions around town about two newcomers from Eisenreich, criminals. Shipwright asked if they were them. TnC managed to dupe him into thinking it was just a coincidence. TnC asked if they could stay the night at Shipwright’s shop so they could be close by if the Book Club came during the night. They put on their full Penumbra uniforms in preparation of a fight.

Someone knocked on the door during the night, saying, “We know you’re in there Torix and Constantine.” They recognized the voice as Officer Stockholm. TnC looked at each other, and each backed into a corner quietly. Stockholm busted through the door with Maslow and two other townspeople. Torix charged, but Constantine stayed hidden. They swarmed Torix, and then Constantine joined in. TnC were able to kill all of their assailants. Shipwright was upset by all of the bodies in his doorway. But what he was really concerned about was TnC’s real identities. They told him that they were indeed Torix and Constantine van Rijn, and that they needed a ship so that they could get away from the new Kaiser, who had framed them for being the source of instability and crime in Eisenreich.

Shipwright thought it would be best to help TnC get out of Westhaven before more bad things happened. He suggested subcontracting the problem of the Book Club to Black Henry so that TnC could keep a low profile but still do Shipwright a favor. They agreed, and started to throw the bodies in the lake. After getting some real sleep, TnC headed out, and Constantine spread the rumor that the people that had been looking for Torix and Constantine had been killed by the Book Club. Everyone bought it, so they went to Big Joe’s tavern to look for Black Henry.

They notice a new group in the bar, Black Henry and his crew. TnC approached him, and tired to bargain with him to get him to protect Shipwright. He said he didn’t need anything they could offer because his crew provided all of the services he needed. He introduced his whole crew; Dirty Jerry, Rudy Two-fingers, Monocle Mel, Shotglass Alderman, The Hamster, and Crow’s Nest Moe. However, there was one other thing that he wanted done, a thing that he didn’t want his name attached to.

He stepped outside the bar with TnC. Meursault, who was standing at the bar, followed them out, hearing that TnC had given their real names, and were not in fact called James and Morrison White. Henry noticed him, and asked why he was following them. He said he was TnC’s navigator. Henry said to them that they shouldn’t associate themselves with dirty half-elves. TnC did a double take, and noticed that Meursault was indeed a half-elf. Henry turned away and said that the man he needed to have them deal with was Seamus Flanders. TnC hid the fact that they knew him, and Henry explained the bad history between them.

Seamus was his first mate, but tried to mutiny against him, and left the ship when it failed. Black Henry asked them to find him and kill him. With no intention of doing so, they agreed. Meursault asked to follow them as they set out to take a walk and deliberate. Meursault joined the discussion. He told them that some of the crew was behind Seamus when tried to mutiny, so they might be able to enlist their help in fighting Black Henry. These crewmen were Shotglass Alderman, The Hamster, and Crow’s Nest Moe.

TnC decided that they could probably try to find Jim Mueller in the mean time. They asked around, and found out that he may have had a run-in with the Book Club. Reluctant to take on the Book Club alone, they tried to find a way to contact Mad Seamus. They heard that Hawkeye Larry knew a special signal that they would be able to use to get Seamus to come to the shore. They talked to Larry, and offered him 50 gold pieces to send the signal. They stayed the night there too.

In the morning they saw Seamus’ ship and a small ship on the shore. They got right down to business, and told him they were in a position to kill Black Henry. He asked why they hadn’t. TnC explained the situation with Karl van Shipwright, and Seamus understood. However he asked them to give him Black Henry’s ship after they killed him. They accepted the deal. Seamus said that his supporters in the crew would be very sympathetic to TnC’s desire to kill Black Henry, and they could get their help as long as they explained the whole set of circumstances.

They went back to Joe’s tavern to talk to the potential defectors. Black Henry was surprised to see them there, and asked them if they had taken care of Seamus already. Constantine said they were still coming up with a plan. Black Henry was not impressed, and told them that they should make sure that van Shipwright is okay otherwise doing him a favor might not be worth anything at all. That got TnC concerned, and they went to Shipwright’s shop with Meursault. The door was locked. Torix knocked, but nobody answered. Torix called to whoever was in there, but there was still no answer. They let themselves in, and Meursault stayed outside. Shipwright wasn’t there, and there were signs of a struggle.

TnC were getting frustrated with the chain of events that had happened, and were thinking of dealing with the Book Club themselves. They noticed a book on the ground. They opened it, and found a bookmarked page that indicated where Shipwright had been taken. They followed the directions to a small building in the Town on Water. Meursault volunteered to stay outside.

Constantine put his ear to the door, and heard enough to gather that van Shipwright was being tortured. TnC draw their weapons. Torix tried to kick down the door, but didn’t hit it in the right spot. He tried again, and the door flew off of its hinges. They entered awkwardly, and asked for van Shipwright. The one that looked to be the resident Librarian pulled out a club to make a point. Torix didn’t like that, and started the fight. Torix went straight for Hunter Keelhaul, and Constantine leapt at the Librarian and his other thugs. Torix split Keelhaul’s head open, while the thugs were swarming Constantine. Torix went in to help his brother out. These Book Club guys were better than the Eisenreich ones, and were able to take out Torix during the fight. The Librarian took out a scimitar, and stood over the unconscious Torix. He said Constantine could take Shipwright and Torix and leave, or he would kill Torix.

Constantine left, and got Meursault to help him with Torix and Shipwright. When they awoke, TnC left van Shipwright at his shop. TnC and Meursault went to Big Joe’s tavern to talk to the Seamus sympathizers. TnC left Meursault outside, and made sure that Shotglass, Crow’s Nest, and the Hamster knew what was going on. They made it clear that they would back Seamus in whatever fight was about to happen. Black Henry burst through the door, dragging Meursault by the ear. Constantine said that they’d keep him in line, and the crew pretended not to notice TnC. They left, and went back to the lighthouse to rest.

When they woke up, they went outside to talk to Mad Seamus. They told him which of the crew were behind him. Torix said that they needed more support if they were going to challenge Black Henry directly. Seamus said that the Brothers Clay (the bouncers in Big Joe’s tavern) would keep things from getting out of hand. That was good enough, and they headed back to the tavern. Meursault stayed out of the way for the upcoming fight. TnC went inside, and Shotglass told them that Black Henry and Monocle Mel would be back any minute now, so they should go outside, while he handled things inside the tavern. TnC stepped outside, and waited.

Soon enough, the pirates showed up. Henry asked if they had dispatched Seamus yet. Constantine said, “Mad Seamus sends his regards.” They drew weapons, and the fight began. Torix gave Monocle Mel a bloody ending, and Black Henry ran past them into the tavern. He saw that his crew had divided, and was fighting in the bar. The Hamster and Dirty Jerry were having a knife fight, while Shotglass and Crow’s Nest took on Rudy two-fingers. Constantine charged him through the open door, and the fight continued. By the end, Constantine and Henry were fighting near the bar. Torix made eye contact with his brother, and a bloody maneuver was born in their minds. Constantine smacked Black Henry in the face, then put him in an arm lock. At the same time, Torix made a leaping charge over a billiards table and delivered a clean blow to the back of Black Henry’s head.

The battle was over. Only Shotglass Alderman and Crow’s Nest Moe were still alive. TnC left the two ex-crewmen at the tavern, waiting until they got back to Mad Seamus. First they stopped to get van Shipwright, and then they went over by the lighthouse to get Seamus. He was pleased that they had dealt with Black Henry, and promised to keep the Book Club off of van Shipwright’s back in exchange. The gang went back to Big Joe’s tavern to get Shotglass and Crow’s Nest.

Then, all seven of them went down to see the Librarian, and had a little talk. They straightened everything out, but TnC still had to find out what had happened to Jim Mueller. The Librarian said he was tied up in Fletcher’s music shop. Seamus left the group to assemble his crew and take Black Henry’s place. When the rest of the group got to the music shop they found Jim as promised, tied up right next to Clyde Fletcher. TnC quickly released Jim, but wanted to make Fletcher sweat a little to see what he would offer them in desperation.

He volunteered his services as a musician (which was a necessity on the high seas), but TnC agreed to let him join the crew after he accepted the role of janitor aboard the ship. The ship. TnC turned to Karl van Shipwright, who agreed to give them the FMS Chasing Oblivion in exchange for all that they had done for him. The crew, Jim Mueller, John Meursault, Shotglass Alderman, Crow’s Nest Moe, Clyde Fletcher, and Captains Torix and Constantine boarded the Chasing Oblivion and prepared for a long voyage.

View
For a Fish
Do unto others...

Torix & Constantine get out of the barrels and decide to wait for Dreier on the bank of the West Stromm.  A forest borders the bank. After a few moments, they decide to instead travel down along the bank and see if Dreier is further down. They hear a voice call out behind them, "Ey, where you goin?" They check and see what appears to be a border guard from Eisenreich behind them. TnC have a quick conference to decide what to say, then go forward to meet the border guard. Officer says, "Alright, who the hell are you and where are you going?" He then reaches in a bag while muttering something. He whips out the Wanted paper. "Oh shit, it IS you two guys!"

TnC, mostly pushed by Torix, decide to fight the borderguard. Weapons are drawn; borderguard has a bastard sword. Constantine slashes bordergaurd with rapier. He yells, "Get out here! Help!" Four thuggish guards burst out of the forest. The borderguard and TnC fight, while the borderguard yells, "Shit, I knew they weren't kidding about you guys!" The other guards move in. Three attack Constantine, one attacks Torix. Guard yells, "Look, if you surrender now, we will take you peacefully! I am Hans Eissler, and I am placing you under arrest!"

Torix: "I am Torix van Rijn, and I am going to de-leg you, goddamnit!"

Constantine spins with the rapier, slits two guys' throats, and hits the other one across the knees. Two of them ducked and avoided the attack. Hans is knocked prone. He says, "If I can't stop you both, maybe I can stop one of you!" He attacks Constantine. One of the other guards knocks Constantine down with a big club, then Eissler coup de' grace'd him, bringing him very close to death. Torix kills Eissler by de-legging. Constantine is on the floor basically dying. Torix helps him up. The other two guards attack Torix. Torix kills one of the minions while the last one yells, "Agh! These guys are demons!" He runs away. Torix charges after him and kills him. He then goes back to Constantine.

In the aftermath of this, Dreier shows up carrying this big piece of wood with a bunch of stuff on it with ropes and he's dragging it and there's a bunch of supplies on it, and he stops when he sees all the bodies.

Constantine: "Yeh, we… got into an altercation."

Dreier: "Well, I got you a raft." It's like, the wall of a shack. He asks them to come over and look at the stuff he's gotten for them. "I need to give you some new stuff." He opens a chest thing, and there's a bunch of piled up leather clothes. They are dark greens, earthen tones, etc. There are flamboyant hats and clothes, etc. etc. "You need to put these on. Under these, no one will recognize you."

They are now in new revamped clothes. Lots of greens and browns, with bright patches. One has a large straw hat, and the other is more of a babushka-style. Torix totally took the straw hat. Constantine took Morrison's fur coat. There are two fishing poles. Stick to steer the raft with. A rope. That's about all there is on it. Last thing he says is, "Ok. I guess in the end, you guys can go where you want, but I have my own recommendations of where you should go. I did my best to get my hands on a good map. We are here…. and the best place you guys should get to is the port city of Westhaven. The only real thing you might encounter are military people going down the West Stromm trying to get to the Maritime Islands to inform the Navy of the change of government. You should not stop anywhere, except maybe some of the forests. You must take the right turn, because if you take the left turn, you will end up in the Maritime Islands. If you must stop anywhere along the river of thieves, you can stop at the town of Tasch. That's probably your safest bet. I'm heading back to Eisenreich. Don't tell anybody who you are, you should come up with aliases now. Good luck. And remember, one last thing: Revenge is best served cold. Just like beer."

Tasch

They get on the raft and are going down the river. A boat with four guys comes along behind them. They very much appear to be Hommeland soldiers. They call out, "Where are you two headed?"

Constantine: "We are headed for the town of Tasch."

Guard: "Oh, you have family in there laddie?"

Other Guard: "Oh yeh, I have family in Tasch!"

Torix recalls that they may sell fish in Tasch, and tells Constantine to say something about fish.

Constantine: "We gonna go trade for a fish."

Guard: "Wait a second! Do we recognize you from somewhere?" He pulls out the notice. "Are you guys Torix and Constantine van Rijn?"

Constantine: "Oh yeh, my name's Reynald Gordon."

Guard: "Perhaps we ought to have a little talk on the shore." Two of the guards whip out crossbows and inch toward them. They go to the bank.

Torix: "This is most upsetting, brother."

Guard: "What are you two's names again?"

Other Guard: "McAllen, let me handle this."

Constantine: "I'm Reynald, and this is my brother David Gordon."

Other Guard: "....ok, why don't you step on our boat…."

The guards and TnC go on the boat and start going down the river.

McAllen: "So where you comin' from, goin' to Tasch?"

Torix: "Where are YOU going?"

McAllen: "We're headed to the Maritime Islands to inform them of the change of government."

Informs them that Meyer is now a General.

Torix: "So what's that picture you busted out?"

McAllen: "Oh, Torix and Constantine, these two bastards that have killed people in the noble houses and mafia and innocent bystanders."

Torix: "Can I see that map?"

McAllen gives him the map.

Torix: "Well, these two are pretty bad, huh?"

McAllen: "Yeh. If you two happen to be the guys we're looking for…. well, you know." He pats his weapon.

TnC have whisper conference.

McAllen: "Et Stockholm, as long as we're taking a long time, we need something to do with these two, ey?"

Stockholm: "Contain yourself, McAllen. We're taking them to the Maritime Islands to see who they are first, and then we'll do whatever the military wants to do with them."

Constantine: "What process would go into identifiying us?"

Stockholm: "Well, they said they got some witnesses down there."

Constantine: "Oh… like, who?"

Stockholm: "Oh, just some guys the government could pull off the street without anyone missin em."

TnC just stand around while the raft continues to float, thinking of ideas. Constantine decides to pickpocket bolts from Stockholm. He successfully steals ten crossbow bolts. Torix tries to flip the raft, but FAILS. All the guards (except McAllen) turn on him and say, "What the hell are you doing?" Torix gives them a "wtf" look and tries it again, but FAILS.

Torix: "Who constructed this thing?"

Stockholm: "The… boat-makers near Eisenreich?"

Torix: "Quite, a sturdy vessel."

Constantine: "Me and my brother had a bet, and it looks like I came out on top."

Torix hands Constantine a gold piece. They then both jump at the same time to try to flip the raft, and they both FAIL MISERABLY. The guards draw their weapons.

They initiate combat with Vance McAllen, Jay Stockholm, and the other two marines. Torix knocks down one of the marines. Another one of the marines jumps off the raft and swims off to notify others. Constantine kills the knocked down marine and the corpse falls into the water.

McAllen: "You two ARE Torix and Constantine!"

Constantine: (in mocking Scottish accent) "That's a GOOD guess!"

Stockholm jumps off and swims.

McAllen: "Alright! Alright! If you spare me, I'll help you steer this boat and get to Tasch!"

Stockholm: "McAllen! what're you DOIN'!?"

McAllen: "I'm savin' my ass! Now go and TELL somebody about these two!"

 

They are in hick country, travelling down the River of Thieves. They hear plinking music up ahead. They are both dressed in raggedy hickish clothing. Some weird trappings of fancy, but it's like they're making a play at it. One of them is playing what appears to be a barrel with a broomstick coming out of it with animal guts turned into string. Has opium in mouth, and has a long grey beard. The other one is holding a weird combination between a banjo and a violin. He has a short thick black beard and a straw hat with one of the sides turned up.

Longbeard: "Rah! Ah! Rah'm tah'Tasch'na rahd!"

Constantine: "I'm sorry! I can't hear you!"

They pass by them, about five feet away.

 

Quiet time.

McAllen: "So really, what are you guys doing going to Tasch?"

Torix: "-coughcough-None of your business."

McAllen: "As long as I'm taking you there, I think I should know."

Torix: "No, you don't."

Constantine: "We ARE headed to Tasch to trade for a fish."

McAllen: "So… what kind of fish you trying to get?"

Constantine: "It doesn't matter as far as you're concerned. I mean, we don't care what kind of fish we get, just so long as it's a fish."

Torix: "Presumably to eat."

McAllen: "It looks like we've come to the edge of Tasch. Let me help you dock."

They dock.

Constantine: "McAllen! Stay at the raft!"

Torix: "Actually, no, I don't trust him with the raft."

Constantine: "McAllen! DON'T stay at the raft!!"

They go into town.

Constantine: "Keep your mouth shut."

They decide to talk to a dude.

Constantine: "So, we're just passing through this river town. Anything you can tell us?"

Street person: "Well, you're in the town of Tasch. We fish, and drink, and yeh… I don't know if'n what yer gettin at."

Constantine: "Is there any kind of trouble around here? Because we have a habit of making trouble go away."

Street person: "Uh, not that I know of…"

Constantine: "Well… any where to… buy… a fish?"

Street person: "Yeah, that would be down at Eezeekeel's."

They go there.

Torix: "Give us your weapon."

McAllen: "Well, I've already taken you to Tasch, I don't think you have to…"

Torix: "Yes. Yes we do."

McAllen: "I don't think you want to kill me in front of all these people."

He starts to walk away.

McAllen: "Why don't you two just leave me alone?"

Constantine: "Where are you going?"

McAllen: "To the raft. I brought you to Tasch, now let me go."

Torix and Constantine move in on him.

McAllen: "Perhaps we should talk to the fishmonger first."

Constantine: "But only if you come with us."

McAllen: "....Alright. I'll go with you."

Fishmonger: "Whoodeehow, what can I get for ya?"

Constantine: "Fish. Now."

Fishmonger: "Well, I can get you some tuna, or I could get you some salmon, or…"

Torix: "Salmon."

Fishmonger pulls out salmon. "How much do you want?"

Constantine: "Umm… that much."

They pay the money. They then go into the center of town.

Constantine: "Oh no, McAllen, I don't think these people and their mothers are stupid and uneducated!"

The hicks gather around.

Street person: "What'd you say about us?"

Constantine: "Oh, well, this fellow here was just saying how you and your mothers are stupid and uneducated! These high city government folk are always trying to control us small folk, even where their jurisdiction does not apply!"

Street person: "Well, mister McAllen, maybe you should take a walk with us into Ashton's Tavern and have a little chat with the bartender." They take McAllen into the tavern.

They find out Jim Mueller, a big Torix-sized fellow with fishing-waders and a doublet, can steer a boat. He invites them to stay overnight in Tasch and brings them to his room. Tells them that bar people will mess McAllen up.

Jim: "So what brings you boys through here?"

Torix: "What IS it that brings us to Tasch?"

Constantine: "Well, I'm Morrison White and this is my brother James. We're going to Westhaven because we really don't agree with the new Kaiser that's taken power in Eisenreich."

Torix: "We're trying to get as far away from Eisenreich as possible."

They explain about the Kaiser.

Jim takes a drag of some big pipe. "That's heavy. So, where do you plan to go after you go to Westhaven?"

Constantine: "Well, we're probably gonna go to either the land of Dwarves or Elves. Find some people with some sense."

Torix: "For real, breh."

Jim: "Damn." Takes a drag. "You guys want some."

They politely decline.

Jim: "Well, I guess that's the night for me." He sleeps on his bed, with his back against the wall while TnC sleep on the dirt floor.

 

When they wake up, Jim (and their fish) are gone. They go out the door. They find Jim in the town center with a fish in the firepit.

Jim: "Hope you don't mind I took the liberty of starting this up. So uh, go ahead and grab a hunk of it."

Constantine: "Ever know what happened to that city slicker guy?"

Jim throws a thumb in one direction. There's a limp-looking dude kneeling in the muddy bank with his head in the mud.

Jim: "Yeh, the people of Tasch are generally peaceful unless you say something about their mother. If you say something about their COUSIN, they might just think you're trying to hook them up. So how's the fish?"

Constantine: "It's got a nice flavor. It's actually got a smooth leading flavor with sour aftertaste; but it is welcome. It dances on the pallet."

Torix: "Better than rat."

Jim: "Alright boys, well, whenever you feel like getting ready… though I think we ought to go thank Mr. Eezeekeel for this fish."

They do so. They notice there is a gathering of the folk in the center of town. The two hicks they passed by way earlier on are all mucky and dirty, glaring at them.

Longbeard spits.

Constantine: "Oh, it's you two!"

Longbeard: "Why yes it is, us two!

Constantine: "Where are your instruments?"

Longbeard: "We had to leave them behind, cuz we had to walk!"

Torix: "Hard."

Constantine: "I'm sorry, I didn't know you needed a ride. I couldn't hear what you had to say."

Longbeard: "I tell you what. All will be forgiven if you can beat us in a drinking game."

Constantine: "What happens if we lose?"

Longbeard: "Well, if you lose, you gots to take us to Westhaven, cuz that's where we're headed next."

Constantine: "You go on ahead to the tavern, we'll catch up to you."

Longbeard: "We brought our own liquor."

Jim backs off. "If you guys need a help with a fight, I'll help, but I ain't doin no drinkin game."

Longbeard: "Now as is custom in any Rocky Plains drinking game, we must introduce ourselves. My name Oslo Herring, but you can call me Red."

Blackbeard: "My name is Rey Maslow."

Constantine: "What's your nickname?"

Blackbeard: "It's Rey. Or Mas. Your pick."

Red: "So what's yer names?"

Constantine: "I'm Morrison White and this is my brother James."

Red: "So, who's gonna take the first sip?"

Maslow: "Guess I will."

A crowd gathers. Maslow fails after second sip. Torix also fails after second sip. Red is getting hazy after second sip. Constantine fails after second sip.

Red: "Looks like you're takin us to Westhaven!"

Constantine: "No! We don't have to take you anywhere! You cheated!"

One of the hicks laughs, nudges the body of McAllen, his body slides into the muck and his legs go up in the air.

Hick: "Did I hear someone trying to get out of an official rule in Tasch?"

They get on the raft: Torix, Constantine, Maslow, Red, and Jim.

 

Red: "So, why you two goin' on down to Westhaven?"

Constantine: "We don't agree with the new government that just took power."

Red: "Wow, what new government took power?"

Constantine: "Well, Kaiser Balthasar got assassinated by the new Kaiser named Violet."

Red: "Does the military know yet?"

Constantine: "Pretty much. Also, there's these two fugitives running around."

Torix: "We're really scared of them."

Red: "Would any of you boys care for some of my stronger liquor?"

Everyone except Maslow refuses.

Constantine: "So why you two headed to Westhaven?"

Red: "Well, we lost our last two instruments, so now we're headed to Westhaven to get more."

Constantine: "You got uh, some money to make that purchase?"

Red: "Well, we got skills."

Constantine: "So you two are musicians?"

Red: "Yeh."

Constantine: "Know any songs? You know, to sing?"

Red: "Well, we generally play better with the strung-barrel and arm-guitar."

They decide to make camp on the bank so Red and Maslow can fish. TnC feel woozy. They pass out.

 

They wake up in the middle of some forest clearing. There is a raggedy piece of leather with writing on it on the floor, and a compass.

"Betcha thought we couldn't write. Now there ain't no hard feelings 'bout this, but we figured we had to walk part of the way, you have to find your way to Westhaven from here. We took your navigator along. He was a lot more agreeable after we hit him a couple of times on the head with a large stick and he saw you two were passed out. Hope to see ya in Westhaven. Signed, Red. P.S. Next time someone just asking for a ride, you ought to pick 'em up."

They see three paths going out of the clearing. They go down the middle. They hear a noise, and pull out their weapons. A bear comes down and meets them. After much fighting, they finally kill the bear. Constantine shoots it in the eye. They then continue to walk through the forest. There's a man in the forest hacking up a dead pig. Very wiry, no hair on his face, long dready hair, very greasy. Hacking up a pig. Torix loudly clears his throat and the man yelps in surprise.

Torix: "Whatcha doin there?"

Man: "Eatin some pig."

Torix: "Know where we are?"

Man: "You're in my territory."

Constantine: "We'll be sure to get out of it, as soon as you point us in the direction of Westhaven."

Man: "Westhaven is that way." He makes a weird gesture.

Constantine: "um… which way?"

Man: "That way." Weird gesture.

TnC start leaving awkwardly.

Man: "Where you going?"

Torix: "That way." Makes a weird gesture.

Some dialogue happens and the man, Hadrian Redding, informs TnC about some men with big ambitions and dreams that have a fire and he wants them to get the fire, mentioning that they don't have beards except ones made of metaphors. They go in the direction he indicates and finds some men around a campfire. A trap opens up as they try to move on, and the people around the fire run after them yelling about food in the trap.

One of the men: "Where you goin?"

Constantine: "THAT way!" Weird gestures.

One of the men gives them the direction to Westhaven. They go that way.

 

Bunch of water— egde of the forest. A pirate ship goes by.

Pirate: "Avast, there be stragglers!"

A plank extends to the land.

Pirate: "What are you two doin round here?"

Constantine: "Headed to Westhaven."

Pirate: "Yargh, we be headed there too."

A deal is struck. TnC essentially join the crew as fighters in exchange for passage to Westhaven.

Pirate: "I'm Captain Seamus Flanders."

Constantine: "Would you happen to know any Mark Dutchman?"

Flanders: "Yargh, I be long time associates with Sly Eddy and Brutal Mark."

TnC explain how they know Sly Eddy and Brutal Mark.

Flanders: "Well, any friend of Eddy and Mark is a friend of mine."

They shakes the hands. Flanders explains it will be a day or three before they reach Westhaven. Flanders says the navy doesn't pay attention to small ships like these. He then reveals he knows about the change of government and Kaiser Vincent.

Flanders: "And at the same time, we've been retreating away from Westhaven, ain't we, boys?"

They all yell, "Aye!"

Torix: "AWAY from Westhaven?"

Flanders: "Cap'n Black Henry has taken control of the southern sea 'round Westhaven."

Torix: "You're still taking us to Westhaven, right?"

Flanders: "Yes, we're thinking of challenging this Black Henry."

TnC say they would be willing to join the brawl, and reveal their nicknames, the Butchers of Eisenreich. These pirates haven't heard of TnC. They say they will probably just let TnC go into Westhaven on their own when they get there to handle Black Henry. They come upon a ship.

Flanders: "You boys ready to get some experience in pirating?"

They agree. TnC are sent on a rowboat over to the merchant ship and climb on. They order the five men on board to give TnC their ship. He says his name is Captian Fabian Mahler and is a merchant marine. He orders his guards to attack TnC.

Torix lops one of the guards' heads off. Constantine attacks Fabian. Torix is eventually knocked into the water, but then climbs back onto the ship while Constantine engages the three guards and Captain Fabian. Constantine slashes two of the guards' kneecaps open. Fabian retreats, then charges again, but is eventually defeated.

Fabian: "Alright! fine! I'll give you whatever you want! Just don't kill me! I can give you money, clothes, a sword or two…"

Constantine: "Alright, we'll grant you quarter."

Fabian: "Well, what do you want?"

Constantine: "All of the above."

Fabian: "Oh, bother."

He shows them a chest where all the gold is. There are also two belts that hold their pants very well. They get new revamped outfits.

Fabian: "If I may ask, what are your names?"

Torix: "James White."

Constantine: "Morrison White."

Fabian retreats into his quarters. TnC load all the booty onto the rowboat and take it to the pirate ship.

Constantine: "So how'd we do?"

Flanders: "Good. I hope you do run into Black Henry, and when you do, tell him Mad Seamus sends him his regarghds."

In the distance, is Westhaven.

 

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