Interludes – Awoken I
A boot jabbed hard at his rib cage, causing Devargo Barsavi to snap open his red, bleary eyes while cursing the gloom around his bed. “The fuck is the meaning of this, who’s there!?” Devargo demanded while reaching for his lantern and dagger.
The speed at which he moved belied his half-drunken/half-sleeping state. Quickly, the small lantern blazed to life, and The Spider whirled in his bed to face the intruder. Then, slowly and carefully, Barsavi returned his dagger to rest on his nightstand. “So I know the who part. Are you going to tell me why you’re here in the middle of the fucking night?”
A tall humanoid wearing a full suit of red chitinous armour moved silently into the light of the lantern. Strange shadows and ridges danced across his insect-like helmet as it twisted down to a chair at Barsavi’s bedside. With a deft flick, a spider mask and black robes tumbled off the chair and onto the floor. Remnants of the night’s festivities. The armoured man scraped the chair behind him on the floor, and sat down beside the bed.
“You’ve got some loose ends to tie-up Barsavi.” The insect-head rasped “Letting a bunch of guardsmen walk off with a crate of Shiver? Turning over your leverage on Amprei? You showed the Guard and Kroft nearly your entire hand, all in one night. Very impressive in a lets-fuck-it-all-up kinda way. And now those same guardsmen are looking into some of our other contracts a little too closely.”
“Who? How did you? What the fuc…” slow realization dawned on Barsavi. “That fucking Markus. Him and his crew. I knew something was sour with the deal! Fuck!” He pounded a fist into his bed, scattering several spiders with the noise.
“And yet you rolled over like a bitch in heat.” The insect-head twisted slightly.
Fucker is laughing at me! How dare he!?
“You dare come into my home, and insult me, you jumped-up little shit!?” Barsavi’s frustration boiled over as several of the larger spiders closed in around the red armor. More crept up the legs and backing of the chair he sat in. “Now listen here, and tell YOUR bitch…” Barsavi’s tirade was cut off in a thick gulp as a long gleaming serrated blade appeared at his throat. A second armored creature stood just beside him.
A second one. Has he been there the whole time? I didn’t even sense him. Barsavi paled, and slumped back in his bed. “What do you want me to do?”
“First, I want you to remember your place, Spider.” He hissed the title at Barsavi. “Your establishment remains open because we allow it to. This shiver business might please our clients but if you upset the balance, and bring the Guard, or the Crown, down on us, well…” Another slight twist of his head. “Well, you wouldn’t like to see how creative we can get when it comes to pain.”
The armored man got up to leave, then paused at the edge of the lantern light and added “But don’t worry, we’ve got you started. There’s a surprise waiting for you in your brig.”
Interludes – Awoken II
Pilts Swastel sniffed at the backs of the three black-robed strangers as they left his grotesque opera. “Stupid guards. You can’t trick me, no sir.” he muttered under his breath.
He gazed up at the darkened rafters and shouted “You see m’a boy? Killers with crossbows and long swords at our very doorstep. But Ol’ Pilts will protect you! Hoo hoo hee hee.”
Pilts did a little dance on the spot, hopping from left foot to right. He liked a little dance; the fleas bit less if he danced like they did. “Now come down from there. Your wound isn’t fully healed yet.”
At his urging, a small figure in a black tunic haltingly descended from the rafters. His progress was slow as he held an arm at his side, and large swaths of tunic were torn and crusted thick with dried blood. Red-lined eyes turned to Pilts. “But why would he want me dead? Sure I left the orphanage but I didn’t steal nothin’ from them or anything.”
“Ah just the way of the world!” Pilts twirled his black cane around him on the stage. “People want power, and they’ll betray you in a heartbeat if you try to get your own.”
Pilts wrapped an arm around Raimy’s shoulder and escorted him to the back of the stage “Now, come with me! Much to talk about hoo hoo, and so much to see hee hee!”
Markus awoke in a cold sweat, cackling laughter in his ears. No, that wasn’t it. The room he found himself in was dark, and the only sound was the occasional halting snore from Hoodlum.
Why does my arm hurt? He itched at his forearm. That blasted innkeeper. He rented us this room on the cheap once we found out that the renegade guards fled the city day’s ago. Just an empty room with no leads, and more pests than guests he guessed.
A memory of bodies crumbled in an alley, throats slit, suddenly came to him. Was that just a part of his dream? Maybe some part of the dead guards in the dungeons had gotten to him. Markus shook off the unsettling feeling, letting the dream blur and fade in his mind. As he fell back to sleep, he promised to give the innkeeper a piece of his mind in the morning.
Interludes – Awoken III
They had ways to move about the city. Secret ways known only to the few that could be trusted to them. One such path led to an unassuming storage room in the lower levels of the Temple of the Many.
In the depths of the night, they passed row upon row of sleeping children. Crimson ghosts moving with deadly purpose to the rooms at the end of the hall. Doors opened with a soft creak of their hinges revealing a sleeping priestess in one, and a paladin, recently returned, and deep in prayer in the other. Without hesitation or sound, the intruders advanced into the rooms, and descended upon their victims.
Aron, exhausted after his day’s events had just returned to the orphanage. Shrugging off his armor and weapons, he knelt at his bedside and prayed over his sword on the bed. Something in that still night, perhaps the guiding hand of Iomadae herself, revealed the intruders to him. He heard the creak of his hinges; the soft pad of leather on stone. Turning, and quickly rising with sword in hand, Aron set himself into a battle stance as the intruder stepped into the light.
Tight red linen wraps covered the attacker’s arms, legs and face while a deep red leather breastplate and guards cover the rest. Ending at the bridge of his nose, the wraps revealed only the hard, unwavering gaze of the attacker as he slowly advanced on Aron. A women’s shout sounded from across the hall. Donna!
“Intruders! Intruders! Guards! Intruders!” Aron wisely began to call out. The intruder cursed under his breath and leapt forward with deadly purpose. A sap, swung wide, sailed past Aron’s face. He responded in turn and deep gashes bloomed crimson across the attacker’s chest.
Inviting another slash across the chest, the attacker reached for something at his belt, and crushed it in his hand. Deep blue light enveloped his hand, and where a feather token had been before, there was now a conjured dancing leather whip. It struck out and wrapped tight around Aron’s chest.
Despite his struggles, he was trapped.
Aron could only watch as a second attacker, with Donna slung over his back, made his way down the corridor. Beneath the wraps, Aron’s attacker smiled, and slowly moved towards him once again. Only the sound of heavy boots coming down the hall slowed his advance. He paused, calculated his chances, and took off after his partner.
Both kidnappers pushed down the main chamber, shoving children out of the way, breaking limbs when they wouldn’t be shoved so easily. Seeing that their beloved Donna was being kidnapped, several groups of orphans formed up in an effort to try to slow their progress.
Shouts from behind, along with the sound of heavily steel on stone, announced the arrival of the Temple Guard. They quickly freed Aron, and together they ran after the kidnappers. Without a heavy body on their shoulders, the Guard quickly closed on the kidnappers. Aron’s kidnapper turned back to face the guard, and using a spiked gauntlet dosed with Drow poison, took one down. Three more guards quickly impaled the kidnapper on the end of sharpened polearms. Seeing that the end was near, the kidnapper slit his own throat.
Owing to the actions of Aron’s kidnappers, Donna’s kidnapper broke away from the groups of children, and burst into the kitchens. Nearly collapsing from the exertion, he continued down the steps to the small storeroom at the back. Moments later, the Guard kicked open the doors only to find an empty room. Donna had been taken.