From Melior’s Personal Log:
The day started like any other, I woke to the sun’s beckoning and greeted her in meditation. I proceeded through my routine of stretches and began repetitions of inverted sit-ups. A figure, Monsoon by the colors but otherwise unidentifiable, approached and nodded, tilting their head sideways in attempt to meet my eyes. A folded sheet of paper was laid atop my folded cloak, and the figure receded. I unhooked my knees from the tree branch that is my exercise bar and flipped over to drop to the ground. The paper was as I figured – a job, or prelude to one. “Good. Been needing something to do, aside favoring the sea with my gaze all day and letting my head get all full up with thoughts. Ain’t nobody gonna pay me for those.” The paper’s instructions were to show up this morning, at Gillie’s place. Slinky finally woke up and lazily climbed from my pack to my shoulders as I trotted down the avenue and further into Monsoon territory.
Gillie’s place, better known as The Harlequin and Chalice, is a fine establishment. Drink for the thirsty, food for the hungry, beds for the weary; and discreet corners for Monsoon business. The ol’ battleaxe herself seemed busy when I entered, but tipped her head to the bar, indicating Drina’d take me. I held up the note between two fingers and Drina seemed to know exactly what’s what afore I said anything. A quick wave and she’s headed round back. I followed, chafed that I didn’t get at least one drink in first.
Apparently, this was not an exclusive offer. Several other low level Monsoon thugs such as myself were waiting to be…enlightened as to just what we were doing. The names rang familiar in my ears but the faces were not stirring up any recollection. I glanced round: Humans, two of ‘em. A proper lady by the dress and posture, and a scrappy-looking inked fella (fella? gal? not sure), an Elf with a quietness like he was used to hunting rather than being hunted, a loud Halfling with a louder red hat, and a’course lil ol me. We were none of us privvy to the ‘who or what’ and ‘how much’ in all this – necessaries for a job as I recall.
A scritchin’ noise at the back door caught someone’s ear and when we opened it, a deathly blank-eyed human pulled a cart inside. He wasn’t zombified or nothin’, just… blank. Out of the cart poked a tentacle, then the bulging eye/body of what I’ve only heard in tales must be a “Beholder”. ’Bout now I was wondering if ol’ Gillie and Drina were playing us foolish…
The eyeball-gent proceeded to offer an obscene amount of coin for an assassination. Normal day, I’d nod and be on my way to off the poor slob and collect in time for happy hour. And most any other name in the world would’ve gotten the same, but this daft oculus-on-wheels said the name “Viktor” followed by “Blutfaust.” Now, alone I’da just laughed and went back to the bar. But a group of Monsoon talent, varied skillsets, we might have a chance. And it is against my personal beliefs to turn down 1000gp unless the reason is well and truly profound. Blinky even gave us the where and when of good ol Mr. Blutfaust’s agenda for the day, how considerate.
The lot of us was each mullin’ it over. It did involve moving deep into Bloodtusk territory, infiltrating the restaurant where the green-skins run their organization, and murdering one of the most dangerous men on Tok. The eye, (called “The Maestro”) and his human-packmule left. Assured us we wouldn’t need to find him, he’d find us. Red-Hat was rather suspicious to the idea, like he might not be on board, which I found troubling. The Skirt and the Elf were a little tentative, Scrappy was all-in. I threw my vote in to the affirmative. Hells, this panned out, I’d get to kill the half-orc king of Tok, AND get paid for it. Offing Tuskers is practically reward in itself, but self-satisfaction don’t pay my bar tab… Finally the rest come around and we started the nitty-gritty of planning.
Best we figured, a clump of non-tusks moving headlong into the Gang’s territory would raise some protruded brows, so we split up to keep profiles low. Us wee folk decided to scout ahead, the rest’d make their own way after a bit. The Madame turned out to be a cleric of a trickster-goddess, lucky enough. She offered to bless one of us in our imminent stealth. Squeezebox was a bit rude, while my charming self won the Lady’s favor. In the end, though, it did make more sense for him to have the superior cover, he’s got the tools for breaking and entering. We slipped out the back door and made our way toward enemy lines.
I let Roscoe lead on ahead, and I lost him several times to the shadows, tricky bastard. Me, ‘course I got singled out. Guess my disgust was written on my face such that even cover of shadow couldn’t hide it. Some Tusker grunt got in my way, asking what my business was. I try the tourist routine, he don’t buy. I can’t believe I managed to say the words and not gag on them, but I said I was looking for authentic half-orc cuisine. He seemed to hold on to his distrust and asked for a bribe, poorly. I gave him a few coins – Monk, not much monetary wealth. I shrugged and he pointed me toward the street ahead with several food carts and… the target restaurant. His beady yellow eyes followed me as I faked my interest in the food vendors. I made it to the side of the restaurant, and caught Roscoe peeking out of the building’s rear. I caused some commotion across the street with a Minor Illusion and ducked into the door Roscoe held propped.
We took stock of the place, some storage, meat locker, pass through to the dining room… pretty much what you’d expect. No stairs we could see, though there was a visible second story from outside. The meat locker had in it a mechanism of some sort, connected to one of the chains, but we couldn’t get it to do a thing. Not long afore it’s go-time and the crew assembled, waiting. Sam came thru the front, after a very brief thud – must’ve killed the doorman. Nice.
The mark came in, sat his fancy-suited ass down. Roscoe put him under with some kind of sleep spell and tied him up. No sooner do we all come out to take a look-see than a deafening boom rocked the joint and we’re damp head-to-toe. I got hit by something came flying outta nowhere. It dropped and I saw it to be a huge gold ring. Took a sec for me to iron out the reality of it: Viktor Blutfaust was a smear, just… nothing but red goo and a shredded suit. The hardware what hit me in the face – bastard’s nose-ring. I grinned and slipped it around my wrist, gore and all. Well, job complete, yes? Great! Oh, ‘cept every Tusk for blocks was pounding ground to get here and see just what went BOOM in HQ.
The couple regular guards busted through just then. In no time, I sent ‘em reeling, Sammy knocked ‘em out. Got beautiful form, if I do say so myself. I could get used to someone like that at my back, time to time. Roscoe, man of many illusions, whipped up a fake pile of powder kegs and a sign daring anyone lookin’ to poke at it. He slipped under the kitchen counter while her Ladyship, Tatts, and me hightailed into the meat locker and shut the door behind us. Viktor, (our Elvenkin, not the pile of orc-meat) must’ve taken the back door immediately. Didn’t even see him leave.
I pointed out the mechanized chain and Sam jumped right on, tuggin’. I lent my meager weight and a trap door slid open. Madame Lorelei gave the passage a quick once-over, and we went on up to floor the second. Sharp as a knife as well as a right classy lady, that one. Quick and dirty room-by-room checks, I found a sixer of some orc-still spirits and gulped one down. Say what you will about the green-skin bastards, (and I do) but they know how to make a drink with some kick. Went blind for a short spell, wasn’t quite my usual balanced graceful self for a while longer. Kept the rest of those babies for a rainy day. I think Lady Lorelei and Sam found some explosives, but I wasn’t payin’ much mind.
A locked door and none of us with the proper tools. I woke up Slink and he scurried under the door, looking for keys. Moment later, saw him at another window. Soaked through and smelling pretty as a flower. About then, Roscoe got our attention at the side, on the roof of the next building. We all decided to torch the place and scram under cover of smoke – illusory and real.
Miss Lorelei was incognito and lost in the crowd with expert skill. Sam went to go find that big ol’ lovey camel friend of his. Guess Roscoe tagged with them, wish I had. I ran a bit, and crossed paths with Drina of all people. Driving a cart with return glassware, by the look. She offered a lift and I took it. Slinky went right up and made himself a nest in Drina’s hair. Loves tieflings, always has. It’s a temperature thing, mostly. Meantime, I must have nodded off…
The cart jolted to a stop in front of some temple in the neutral zone. A Dragonborn in robes was talking to Drina, and it looked like this place was Raven Queen Cult holdings. Now, I ain’t the religious sort, really. The Goddess of Death claims us all, some time or other, but I preferred to keep on breathing for now. I drew a dart from my belt. Musta still been a little sleepy, or drunk, cause I elbowed a crate of glassware off the cart. The Raven Cultist hurriedly waved Drina inside and closed the doors behind. Drina halted her horse, and I called Slink away from her. Dart pulled, I demanded to know what in the Abyss was going on. I can land a dart right in your eye socket at fifty paces, drunk or not, and she knew it. She was terrified, I never seen such a pitiful display of ‘No, ya got it all wrong’ and sputtering ’I’m sorrys’. I always thought Drina was alright for a Hornhead, could mix up a great cocktail too. But I’ll be damned if I’m getting sold out by one again.
She was all fear and praise, wrapped up with worry. Apparently, while I slept off that orcish throat-varnish, the Spell-n-Says were broadcasting the particulars of me and mine to the whole area about the Blutfaust incident. Drina’s googley-eyed lizard boyfriend gave me some robes to wear so I could get to Gillie’s without a big bloody target on my chest. After some eye-to-eye scrutinizing of Drina, I took the robes and hoofed it back.
I made it without incident to the Chalice and let myself in, cowl drawn. The rest were already there and gathered upstairs, Gillie said, so I joined them to sort out the “what now”. (Well, everyone except our Viktor, who disappeared after the big badaboom.) I briefed the group about my “adventure” with Drina and this D’Jefththphbt guy. Damned Dragonborn names, and I thought Gnomish names were complicated. And don’t you know it, not a one of us had the foggiest idea about what happened, why we’d be set up, or what this ‘Maestro’ could be scheming on.
The bar got to be quite loud as the hour grew later. Drina appeared, proper hammer-smashed by the smell, and let us know our adoring crowd was waiting. That most of Monsoon was there celebrating our victory. All said and done, regardless of what comes, we had been witness to a crippling blow to our rivals. Hells, as far as anyone knew, we were the ones who did it. My lips curled into a smile and I spun the blood-crusted gold ring around my wrist. This’ll be good.
We came down, people cheered. I raised my fist (yeah, the arm with the nose-ring round it) and shouted “Viktor Blutfaust is no more!” That got ‘em off their stools.
Drinks, music, singing, laughing, dancing, girls, boys, me riding on Sam’s shoulders, Roscoe in a chandelier what didn’t exist before… I ended up face-planting into a pretty Human girl’s chest and falling asleep there. Good time to be Monsoon that night.