Memstara

The Lost and Found of Tok

Or how I was blinded by the light.

From Melior’s Personal Log:

I woke up blind.

And no, not just raging hangover, “Oh Gods, my head!” kind of blind. I couldn’t see. Something smooth and cold was clamped tight as death’s grip in one of my hands. A bottle. Drinking. I’d been doing a lot of that last night, celebratin’ our great success at the Chalice… I lifted my head slowly and through bleary half-focused eyes I saw an empty in my clutches and a human girl in the knot of blankets beside me on the bed. I regained some semblance of normal vision and came aware of a Raven Queen insignia on this broad’s cloak. Great.

I tried careful as can be to gather what’s mine from what ain’t and make my exit. The bedded gal stirred and I fell into my old rasping “Missy Halfmoon” voice, hunching over and making claims I thought this was the coat check, and apologizin’ something fierce. Seemed she was none the wiser, so I sneakfully moved further. But I don’t get too far. Next thing ya know, I tripped over a bottle and she’s bolt up, asking where I’m off to. Gotta tell her somethin’… “Oh hey babe, I’m totally coming back up. Just gotta go and check in downstairs.” She seemed accepting and flopped back down, asleep before she hit mattress, I reckon.

Plenty of activity already, or plenty still ambulatory from the night previous… hard to say. Judgin’ by the state of the place, the latter may be what’s what. Miss Lorelei was talking to our Lady of the Drink, so I whistled for Mr. Slinksalot and pushed out into the alley afore I heard anything about any supposed ill-advised words or deeds I may or may not have committed.

Pancakes. That’s what needs to happen when one finds his or herself in this state. Roscoe was tossin’ his guts onto the cobble outside, but was of a mind to agree on pancakes. Sam, Lorelei, we’re all headed across the way to Danny’s with a resolve to sate our breakfast-starch deficits. Orders placed, we got on to the more interesting part of piecing together the evening. The Madame had a fair feeling her daddy’s the one got those blasted Spell-n-Says to stop pointing their magic flip-card fingers our way.

Just as we’d all of us crammed forkfuls into our faces, some jittery mid-age gnomish fella strolled on in and made a pastime of throwing glances our way. Now, I don’t know the chap, but he’s presented like a tradesman of some sort. Guess he felt our collective visualized inspections, ‘cause he decided to approach. No funny stuff, not threatening-like, but right up in our sightlines. Introduced himself as a journalist. Named Nibben Inkwell, I think. (Being honest, I wasn’t listening all too close. Didn’t know him and didn’t care to, this point.)

Sammy’s good for a spot of entertainment or sport any time of day or night, and told the guy we’d talk for 1gp each. That got ‘im near foaming at the mouth with questions. Tossed coins haphazard on the tabletop and started in with the queries. “What is our super vigilante killer group called? Why’d we do it? How?” So on and such like… I zoned out a bit. Miss Madame and Roscoe took an iced-over front, not sure we should engage with the press. We did say we don’t have a statement as of yet. Almost felt sorry for the guy, pen all aquiver and gettin’ nowhere with us.

Slinky started munching off my plate since I was neglectin’. Mr. Inkwell spouted off some local developments what proved interesting and I plain forgot there was maple-soaked heaven afront of me. The Business Council found a full on functioning gold mine under what’s left of the Tusker’s burnt up husk of a HQ/snitsell-house. Tourism board snapped that right up as shinin’ opportunity number one. We all mulled this over and I suppose we bored the journalist to death. Made ourselves ambulatory again and gathered up the check, but come to find it already paid up for us. A note’s waitin’ alongside, and we’re instructed to go to the H&C, now. The wax seal is familiar to us, at least in legend if not actual likeness – a fancified number 7. Our waitress was shaking in her apron as she handed it over. Got a look in her eye like she wants us to be on our way.

As we were just about to steppin’, Miss L asked if we are loyal to Monsoon. Each of us answers to the affirmative, in varying degrees of earnestness. No sooner did we drop boots into Gillie’s than she waved us upstairs. Not a word or sip of drink offered. Shrugging and tramping up the wood steps, we made our way up and found the hall to be extra long. Elongatified to a weird and unnatural stretch. At the far end, a door with a ‘laborate number 7, what ain’t ever there afore in all my reckoning, drunk or sober. Our Lady got to investigatin’ magic-wise. Said the number was wrong, something off about it. There’s not a doorknob on the blasted door, so I stood confounded as to the ingress and soon my interest in this whole thing dwindled like the last cinder of an abandoned fire. But not our sharp Madame, no sirree. After a bit of magicking, she pulled that note out from her pocket and fit that waxen seal right into the same seven what was on the door and a falsified panel slid away into the wall.

A thin mist seeped out of the walls, or the ceiling, or somewise we can’t stop it. Soon, darkness cradled me off to sleep better’n a tankard of mead and a pretty girl’s bosom…

I awakened in the traditional manner: on a cold stone floor with a pounding headache and my dearest gettin’ his whiskers all up my nose. Coaxed my lids aflutter and saw all of us was boxed up in a stone room, ten feet to a side. Not a window or door was apparent. The only feature to the place were some metal funnel things in the corners and in the walls. Good ol’ proactive Sam got to talking in one and we was treated to a booming “SILENCE!” shaking our very bones. The voice continued, tellin’ us we done well, and asking us to keep up with serving by clearing out some greenies what are holding up business at the gold digging site.

Roscoe’s big ol’ yap opened and a gushin’ of talk came out. How we got hired by that big eyeball on a cart, and how Blutfaust exploded afore we got to doing diddly shit to him. Rossie accused the disembodied voices of gettin’ played. The funnel-gang fell silent a tick, then told us we gotta keep up the front, for the good of Monsoon. A bit more hemming and hawwing and we reached agreement, accepted the mine clean-up job. Then, like dawn on the docks, a mist poured in and we all dropped into repose again.

It ain’t much past midday, so we came to the accord of heading out straight away. A military-like surplus store became a short pit stop and Roscoe stocked himself with all manner of paranoid-hitman paraphernalia. Meantime, I fed Sam’s tower of love and fur a sugar cube and Slink seemed to be curious of such a larger critter. Bet that camel and ferret will be best of friends afore too long…

We arrived at our destination without further interruption and it looks deserted. The entrance to the mine, now obvious amidst the rubble, yawned afore us like a monster’s gullet. Lady Lorelei made her dagger glow and we tried to get a better vantage into the mine shaft. While we was all preoccupied, crew of renegade tuskers ran up, think’ they got us cornered. Miss seemed to search among them for someone in particular, but don’t find who she sought. She asked after a “Tomas” and the green-skins said they don’t know. They assert that we lot should “prepare to die”. Ha.

We scuffled, I threw some darts, made some thrusts and punches. Ros worked some minstrel magic and sat stealthy-like behind a partial wall. Miss Lori ran up and just touched a guy: I swear, just a single gloved fingertip, and the tusker fell dead. Sammy fired off some crossbow bolts. The damn tusks beat on us some, I dropped a guy wailing on Sam. Not long afore we got 6 of ‘em down and one’s left. Some talk, some tying of his hands and feet. Blah blah and so forth. Sammy and me decided to poke around the mine a little and Lorelei and Roscoe stay topside to talk to this lonely fool and look out for others closing in on us.

We find torches what had been discarded and light ‘em up. Slink’s curled around my neck with eyes shining as we enter the mine. Not too much to see, really. Tunnel starts out straight and true, leaning down into inky black. A mine cart on tracks stands alone. We continue down, not seein’ any rights or lefts in the path. Down, down some more, thin bands of gleaming yellow struck my eye and I pocketed a chunk of gold-ribboned stone. We found where the down-slope evened out, and it was awe-strikin’. The size of it. A cavern like an elder dragon could have a romp. And on the far side, multitudes of other tunnels fanned out. This gorram mine’s gotta lace the entire island with underground passageways. No wonder the damnable green-skins got such a hold. Sammy-cat and meself decide that, whilst we’d love a gander at these cris-crossin’ of tunnels, we best check back with the Miss and Bard topside. So up and up we went.

Some kinda sorcery the likeness I never seen was manifest once the waning day met our eyes again. The tusker’s leather was making efforts to eject from its host, but got all bunched on the binds what held the wearer’s wrists. Lori-lass and Roscoe was fightin’ against it, by the look. A’course, Sam and me can’t neither of us say “nay” to a tussle with the unknown, so we jump in. Soon enough, the rogue leather is put down, but the “un”fortunate tusker wearing it is dead. Like, DEAD-dead. Miss Lorelei cut away some scrap of the leather vest with a kinda marking on it, musta been important. Just as we’re departing, a guard decided this was a fine time to come into our business. We talk a bit, negotiate. (Well, less me and more the talkers of our fine lil family of outlaws) Finally we’re all of us able to get on our way.

Apparently, a meetin’ of the Council and public is convening this eve, to discuss and vote on how to deal with the green-skin menace. Every one of us seems amenable to attendance, so that is where the lot of us head. Ros makes a beeline for the central seating area, with the stuffed shirts and old money of Tok. Madame L goes along as well. Fitting for her, though. Me, I’m fine just with watching the tuskers publicly shamed and/or deported and found a spot where’s I can see off to the fringes. Sam ended up nearby where I stood, which was just fine and dandy by me. Folks of all types file in, and not too long a time goes by than I found Roscoe and Lori back to us in the outer ring. Turned out, that inner ring requires a special ticket or pass or somesuch. Roscoe’s intent on infiltrating and got a stub offa some official-type. With that I forge a fake second for our lovely Madame and wish them good luck. Little time passed afore the both of them found seats with the rich and powerful.

Boring opening formalities ground on and on. Eventually the topic of whether or not to uproot and remove the pestilence of the tuskers came up. I popped a bottle of that throat-varnish I found a day previous, and proceeded to get besotted. Handed one off to my Sam-sam who began the same. All sudden-like, a big brute of a green-skin with a full entorage storms front and center. Dumps a bucketload of gore in the middle of the floor and glares at us all, darin’ anyone to object. Mr. Viktor Blutfaust Says he’s tired of this oppression and that he and his are leavin’ Tok. My lil gnomish heart pounds and I yelled some choice obscenities, chucked a half-full bottle their way. The crowd gets to following my shinin’ example and bottles get tossed about. Riot-level vocalization swells.

A terrible booming thunder and quaking of the very earth below us stunned us all silent as the dead. None other than sweet pretty Miss Lorelei, fire in her eyes, steps up and calms us all, beggin’ this tusk to stay. Tomas. I wonder at just who he is to her to spark such a reaction. A glance between them, or maybe I just imagined it, and he and the other tuskers tromp off and into the night. People were going nuts, everyone is everywhere at once it seemed. The press descend like vultures. Miss Lori ran off toward that Tomas I reckon. I’m still belligerent, a’course, and suddenly Sam was in my face, askin’ what my problem was. I scowled and spat out somethin’ like how the green-skins are trouble and how in all my years of travel not a one has done me anything but harm. Sam got defensive (which, if you’ve met Sam, you’d know can be a mite imtimidating) Said half-orcs were people same as anyone, and how they were friends growin’ up here on Tok. I grumbled that I was going to the bar and smashed my last bottles of that orc-spirit drink I been carrying.

Fullness of night consumed the Isle by the time I made it to the Chalice. Sat on the corner stool and ordered some Gnomish fluff of a drink. Not my usual, but Drina knew not to press me about it, bless her. A few rounds in, the others appeared. Sam took the stool adjacent. We got to talking a little and I admitted I had been royally screwed over by humans, tieflings, and others over the years, but there were always good souls who balanced things out. Never had a good interaction with half-orcs though. Never. I like Sam, and Madame Lorelei, and if they both feel tuskers are worth a damn, maybe I just got dealt the unluckiest hand in life as far as interactin’ with ‘em. With a graceful nod and smile, Miss Lori halved her loaf of bread and left me part. Went over to the fireside, givin’ me space. Sam and I drank together a spell longer. Slinky inevitably left my neck to nest in Drina’s auburn locks.

Such was the night until a squirrely gent in goggles and a big coat made himself known across the bar. Fella was covered head to foot with various gadgetry and fumbled with one such device even as we encircled him. After introductions, Roscoe engaged the poor sap. He asserted to be Kevward, a monster tracker or hunter or somesuch nonsense. Sam egged on Ros, who wound up this sucker. Talkin’ of finding bigfoots or banthas or boogeymans. I dunno. All in all, it was hilarious.

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