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shilsen

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PostSubject: Session writeup   Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:51 pm

Amber began doing a writeup for the last session, so here is the first installment, with some additions by me. Enjoy.

* * * * *
Penelope leans impatiently against the wall outside the mansion of The Stagger’s magistrate. The old warlock Asarlai is the only other member of the League of Justice not inside the large edifice, and together they await the rest of the group. Very unfortunate for me, the archer thinks as Asarlai drones on about the “good old days” of his youth. She nods every so often at him, muttering a generous and insincere, “Yeah, I bet,” at appropriate moments.

After some time, Penelope hears a commotion from inside the mansion. There are raised voices, shouting, and finally a loud, “GET THEM OUT OF HERE!” that draws even Asarlai’s attention. Just as Penelope is fingering her bowstring and wondering if she should seek another vantage point with an uninterrupted field of fire, she sees the first of her companions – Heyoka. The shifter shoots out of the building’s main door, propelled through the air by two imposing looking ogres. Artichoke, Odanais, El, Yatagan and Sidney Distaff follow him, quickly but on their own feet, with Distaff’s bugbear bodyguards hurrying behind them. More ogres bring up the rear, stopping menacingly at the doorway. One, apparently in command, silently points at the gate to the compound.

Penelope walks over to join the group even as Heyoka lifts himself off the ground and shakes off the dust.

Looking up disapprovingly at the shifter, Distaff growls, “What the hell were you thinking? Slapping Scatter? Come on!”

“Odanais say magistrate sleep with little boys!” protests Heyoka. “He deserve it! It wrong to do that to children!” What the hell? As Penelope wonders what the shifter is referring to, she notices Odanais dropping his gaze to the ground, an amused smirk on his aristocratic face.

“He was just saying that,” Artichoke sighs. He frowns, visibly unhappy. “You gu—ehr, we, really ruined our chances of stopping Petard from replacing him.”

After wondering for a moment if she’s better off not asking, Penelope finally speaks up as the group heads for the gate. “What exactly happened in there? Besides Heyoka slapping Scatter, that is.”

“We were speaking to the magistrate,” Yatagan begins to explain in the booming but sing-song tones that Penelope thinks of as his stage voice, “And out of curiosity I inquired—pleasantly and subtly, mind you—what sort of events would prevent him from being replaced by Petard. He said, ‘Me becoming seriously ill, perhaps, but I will not be getting sick anytime soon.’ I responded—hmm?” Yatagan pauses for a moment. The silence is marked by a loud snoring. “Is that Asarlai?”

The old man in question is leaning against the wall, his eyes closed and jaw slack. Somehow, Asarlai has managed to fall asleep in the short space between the group’s expulsion from the building and their exit from the compound. Penelope elbows him in the side, causing the old half-elf to straighten up with a snort, mumble something incomprehensible and grumpy to her. He then proceeds to follow the others with half-closed eyes, leaning on his cane and muttering to himself.

“As I was saying,” Yatagan continues, “I asked Scatter, ‘Would a riot do the trick?’ Strangely, he became suspicious of me. I then asked, ‘What if a new god in the Port commanded it?’” The paladin reaches down to his codpiece – where the God in the Box currently resides – as he speaks. “The magistrate seemed interested, but he did not give a decisive answer as to whether or not that would sway him.”

“Ah. Great,” says Penelope, studiously looking away from where Yatagan’s clawed hand is adjusting both codpiece and portable deity. “So you didn’t persuade him to stay in The Stagger?”

Yatagan shakes his head cheerfully. “Scatter is obviously immune to our diplomacy. But never fear, fine men—and, um, lady. I have a cunning plan.”

Distaff frowns. Artichoke nearly turns green. “I’m afraid to ask what,” he says.

“I mentioned to you earlier that we should start a riot in the Quadrille. Now I am certain of it. I am well known… kind of. They will listen to me. I think.” Yatagan grins broadly, displaying two brilliant rows of fangs,

Unsurprisingly, the League’s supposed leader looks dismayed. After a short pause, to Penelope’s surprise, Artichoke says, “Sure,” though dismay still colors his voice. “But I’m not having any part in it. In fact, I’ve never heard of this plan. I’m escorting Distaff home and getting some rest at the Hall. Anyone that wishes to accompany me is welcome to.”

Penelope weighs her options. Though she finds Artichoke slightly repugnant, what with his strangely bald head and tendency to gesticulate too much, she eventually decides following Yatagan to start a riot would be much worse. A large crowd of people, she thinks, trailing behind Artichoke, El, Distaff, and the bugbear bodyguards. I’d rather gouge my eye out with an arrow…

***

Yatagan stands before the crowd, suspended on a near-invisible and floating stage. Behind the reptilian warrior stands Odanais, while Heyoka and Asarlai are on the ground, among the crowd gathering around the platform.

“I have come before you all to reveal a most shocking thing,” Yatagan bellows in a theatrical voice. “Stephan Petard—your magistrate—is guilty of … pederasty!”

He pauses, evidently trying to create a dramatic effect. The crowd simply stares.

“Stephan Petard,” Yatagan repeats, “is guilty of pederasty!” Again he pauses, but the desired reaction still doesn’t come.

Odanais whispers, “I think the plebeians don’t know what pederasty means.”

“Oh,” says Yatagan, only momentarily nonplussed. Grinning cheerily, he proclaims loudly, “I mean he touches your children in unfathomable ways! And he makes them touch both heads…”

Odanais whispers urgently, “Yatagan, humans only have one head… there.”

Yatagan frowns and whispers back, “Really? That’s … odd!” Then he shrugs and again addresses the crowd, “… the one head of his penis!”

The crowd is really paying attention now. People whisper to each other. Did you know that, one person asks. In another corner, someone quietly says to the man next to him, Hmm. I always suspected there was something strange about him…

Excellent! Yatagan’s disconcertingly cheery grin widens as he explains the consequences of having a pedophile magistrate. “Think of your children,” he repeats over and over, “Or, better yet, think of yourselves in their shoes—would you really like to touch Petard there?”

The League’s audience is strangely attentive by this point, some beginning to agree with dragonborn rhetoric in disconcerting unison. But others clearly need more convincing, so Asarlai begins to speak, explicating the extent of Petard’s pederasty via somewhat unconvincing “eye-witness accounts”. And then Odanais takes the stage, weaving an eloquent (albeit inaccurate and exaggerated) account of magistrates and pedophilia throughout the history of the Port. And when he is finished, Heyoka informs the crowd in graphic detail of the physical effects of grown men sodomizing children, slamming his fist into his palm at appropriate times and attempting once to illustrate the point by humping the side of the unfortunate bystander closest to him.

When the shifter has finished (and the whimpering recipient of his attention has fled), Yatagan raises his hands above the crowd. “People of the Quadrille,” he bellows, “This is a new time in the Port. A time for a new morality. For the Radiant Seed of Justice to spread its sticky goodness among you! A new god has spoken to me!” He grasps his nether regions in a gesture which only has real meaning to the other members of the League. “We must have justice!” Odanais gestures surreptitiously as the paladin poses dramatically and a halo spreads out behind Yatagan, illumining him in golden light. Cries of excitement and wonder arise among the crowd.

Grinning maniacally, the paladin jumps off the stage and begins moving through the excited people. “Now you know what must be done! Show Petard that he cannot get away with molesting defenseless children!” he bellows dramatically. “To the Magistrate’s mansion!” He waves a hand to indicate a direction, wavers and then pauses uncertainly, until Odanais’ stage whisper says in his ear, “It’s the big building behind us!” Unabashed, Yatagan turns and gestures, “Forward!”

There is a roar from the crowd and it surges forward, quickly transforming into an angry mob. The change is underlined by the almost immediate appearance of torches and pitchforks. Few in the mob stop to ask themselves where these objects came from, and why an old man with a cane and an especially hirsute shifter seem to have had an entire wagon full of them ready and parked nearby.

As the outraged mob start to swarm around the Magistrate’s home, the members of the League quickly slip away into the night. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

**********

Captain Dagobert Hax is understandably unhappy. It has taken a long time for them to finally reach land. A very, very long time. And now it looks like there is a mob at the docks. Or a strike, as some wildly waved and badly written signs indicate.

After some thought, despite the large gathering of goblins, Hax orders his crew to unload the shipment, trying to breed confidence by disembarking first himself. He stands at the bottom of the gangplank, warily looking over the crowd. I’m just trying to go about my business, he thinks, drumming his fingers impatiently against the hilt of his sword, And then this shit hap.... Hax’s thoughts are interrupted by a porcine snort as two of his men proceed down the gangplank behind him, using long spiked poles to chivvy along their largest passenger, a large feral boar. Four of the guards follow behind them, carefully staying away from the pig. Other sailors are on the deck, nervously aiming the light ballistae at the mob blocking the way.

One of the men asks, “What are we going to do, Cap’n?”

Hax scowls over his shoulder. “We are going to make our delivery – goblins or no.”

“It’s not just the bloody gobbos. Look.”

Hax turns to see that a strange group walking to the end of the quay. In the front are a goblin carrying an ornate staff and a man in well-kept hide armor. The latter, Hax observes, is going bald. An overweight dragonborn (That’s not something you see often, the captain thinks) in shining plate mail follows behind, awkwardly passing his battleaxe between his legs for some reason. Next to him is a well-armed and armored shifter, and a slim and effete-looking human with tinted eyeglasses stands close behind.

The group has just broken off from their remaining members, who remain standing a little distance in the rear. One is a burly armored dwarf, apparently busy taking down notes on a large scroll. Near him stands an old half-elf, or rather leans, since he is supported by a staff. The third and last is a tall archer garbed in black from head-to-toe, her eyes and nose the only visible parts of her body (if the figure is indeed a woman at all). In front of her sits an unusually large housecat which looks like it just came out of a very vicious fight, which gives Hax the strange impression that it is glaring at him.

The captain frowns and then slowly walks up the quay towards the waiting group. Who are these fools and what are they doing? Gods…

The goblin speaks first, quickly and excitedly, “The workers are on strike. You will not make your delivery until our demands are met. Return to your ship!”

Yeah, right! “Listen,” Hax says, attempting to be patient despite his irritation, “I’ve been on the Aster for months. Your problem clearly isn’t with me. I’m sympathetic towards your cause … er, whatever it is, but I’ve got a delivery to make.”

“I’m sorry,” insists the goblin, “But you will not unload this ship here. You will put that pig back on the boat and wait until this matter is settled and we goblins have had our demands for equal treatment met.”

“No,” Hax shakes his head. “Simple as that. I’m under a contract I have to fulfill. And I’m a friend of Captain Clagoff. I presume you know what happens when you interfere with his business.”

“Our cause is just,” replies the goblin, “And Clagoff or the Governor, we shall not bow to tyranny any longer.”

Gah! Ignoring the goblin, Hax looks at the other people. “And who are you?”

As the goblin scowls at being ignored, the balding man says, politely but firmly, “Our identity is of no importance. We are simply here to prevent unnecessary violence.” Ignoring the sudden snicker from his spectacled companion, he continues, “Please return to your ship.”

“We have no quarrel with you, sir,” quickly adds the dragonborn. He smiles toothily, reaching for a pouch on his belt. “So what if we give you some gold to not unload today?”

“Hey,” says the other man, “Isn’t that some of the money I gave you for the…”

“Yes,” says the dragonborn. “The pitchforks cost less than we expected.” Turning back to Hax, he continues, “You can take your men out for a good time, relax, and do what you will … just do not make your delivery until tomorrow.”

“No, no, absolutely not,” the goblin growls, turning his frown from the captain to the dragonborn. “They need to believe in the cause! I brought you here to … I mean, I didn’t pay you to bribe them!”

“It’s unimportant if a ship captain and his crew believe in your cause,” the dragonborn responds. “You need the magistrates and the governor to believe.”

The captain scratches his chin, pondering the repercussions of delaying the delivery. Clagoff would understand. And it’s only one day, he thought.

“Very well. I’ll unload tomorrow,” he says. “Now give me the money.”

“No!” says the goblin, getting more and more excited, “This will not be over tomorrow! You cannot do this!”

Hax ignores him, looking at the dragonborn, who says, “Excellent!” He hands over the pouch. “Here are fifty gold pieces. Thank you for your understanding.”

Tucking the money away, the captain turns around and heads back towards his vessel. Or begins to, when the goblin strikes him with the staff in the back. And electrocutes him. And the sailors release the pig. And the ballistae fire. And the infamous Big Pig Riot begins.
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Mallus

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PostSubject: Re: Session writeup   Wed Dec 17, 2008 10:11 am

Very nice. I see we have first few posts for our new Story Hour. Is it worth doing quick write-ups of the previous sessions? We could just start here.
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PostSubject: Re: Session writeup   Wed Dec 17, 2008 10:15 am

Mallus wrote:
Very nice. I see we have first few posts for our new Story Hour. Is it worth doing quick write-ups of the previous sessions? We could just start here.

If any of you are willing to do a quick writeup of the earlier sessions, that would be nice, but I definitely don't have time for it. The only reason this got done is Amber doing the bulk of it and me tweaking things. I'll handle the fight when I have the time or need a break from grading.

BTW, we decided to do the sections where she's present from Penelope's POV. That makes it easier to gloss over things where needed and not worry about pesky accuracy issues. So having other sections from the POV of different PCs would be a good way to go about it, I think.
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PostSubject: Re: Session writeup   Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:55 am

shilsen wrote:

If any of you are willing to do a quick writeup of the earlier sessions, that would be nice, but I definitely don't have time for it.
I might do what I did for some of the CITY Story Hour posts I wrote: stitch together our emails/messageboard postings into something that resembles narrative prose.

Quote :
So having other sections from the POV of different PCs would be a good way to go about it, I think.
Heh... I might include *brief* selections from Yatagan's epic poem, The Savage Sword of Onan, which, oddly enough, bears more than a passing resemblance to the League's activities. Other than that, I think I'll stick to 3rd person.
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PostSubject: Re: Session writeup   Fri Dec 19, 2008 2:49 pm

I'm officially a free woman, so I have time to write and stuff. Just umm... let me know what you guys want written or something.
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PostSubject: Re: Session writeup   Sun Dec 28, 2008 10:19 pm

This one's written by Shil and tweaked by me (umm, though my tweaking was very minimal). Enjoy!



What the fuck?! Penelope looks back and forth quickly, wondering what to do, as pandemonium breaks out after Distaff strikes the captain in the back. The wounded man staggers forward, crying out in agony as sparks fly off his back from the electrical discharge, and spins around, drawing at his sword. Yatagan, clearly angered at the sudden attack, glares at Distaff and levels his axe at the goblin, perhaps inadvertently splattering him with dragonborn semen. “Do not attack again, or you will pay!” he says firmly. Nearby, Heyoka quickly draws his sword and looks around, uncertain who the enemy is. The assembled goblinoids and the sailors on the ship and on the wharf add their voices to the commotion, the goblinoids surging forward and the sailors readying their weapons.

Penelope looks back and forth, half swinging her bow to cover the advancing goblinoids and then moving it back towards the sailors. Shit. Whose side are we supposed to be on?

The purported leader of the Just-Us League is evidently wondering the same thing, since Artichoke raises his arms and bellows above the hubbub – “EVERYONE calm down! Lower your weapons! NOW!” The tone is both angry and commanding, and it has the same effect that he usually does in matters involving the League – nothing.

Admittedly, this time it is not the League’s doing. Even as Artichoke shouts, one of the sailors manning a light ballista at the docked ship’s bow fires. The giant crossbow bolt thuds into the wharf only inches from Yatagan’s feet, spraying him and those nearby with splinters. A bolt from the second ballista shoots by Odanais’ face, turning the mage’s patrician countenance just a trifle paler. Distaff, seizing the opportunity, swings his staff at the distracted dragonborn, causing Yatagan to take a step back as burning sparks erupt from his armor.

If that weren’t enough, one more factor now enters the fight. The big boar at the bottom of the gangplank snorts in surprise as the battle begins and then, instinctively, charges. The sailors who were holding the ropes which controlled it have slackened their grips in surprise, and before they realize it is gone, five hundred pounds of angry pig is roaring down the wharf. Unfortunately for him, the first obstruction in its path is the captain, and his first sign of more trouble is when he is catapulted forward by the impact.

Artichoke jumps out of the way with surprising adroitness as the captain rockets by, and then growls, “That does it! Take them all down, but don’t kill anyone! Yatagan, Heyoka – form a line! Odanais – we need some space! El, get up here! Penelope, Asarlai – I want Distaff down!” Punctuating his words, he swings his sword at Distaff. Though the goblin quickly parries, he is forced few steps back, Artichoke forcing him away from Yatagan. The goblin levels his staff at Artichoke, but then hesitates as an arrow from Penelope barely misses his ear. He steps back and quickly moves his staff to trace a doorway in the air. The shimmering silver portal hangs before Distaff as he steps into it, and then it disappears, along with him. Odanais quickly says, “Dimension door spell! He can’t have got far,” but there’s no time – or way – to search, as the mass of onrushing goblins surround the League.

Penelope too is surrounded by goblins, but she swings her bow like a club to clear a space, while Asarlai near her settles for blasting the first goblin to touch him. The archer glances at Distaff and then past him at the enraged boar. Oh, what a cute pig… Even as she thinks so, she hears Artichoke say, “Yatagan, Heyoka – focus on the boar! It’s the most dangerous thing here!”

Oh no! Penelope shouts, “Captain! Nobody hurt the boar!”

“What?!”

“Nobody … hurt … the … boar! Or else!”

“Ah … shit! Okay!” Artichoke shakes his head and then switches his command to, “Heyoka! Yatagan! Take the boar down, but don’t kill it!”

Yes! Pleased, Penelope shows her appreciation as she knows best, two swift arrows dropping a couple of goblins menacing Artichoke’s ample rear.

The fight now devolves into a strange multi-sided melee. The boar, out of its head with anger and fear, attacks whatever comes near it. The goblins, angered by the League’s treatment of Distaff, swarm around them. Luckily, most are unarmed, but they provide a significant nuisance, kicking and clawing and scratching. The sailors on the dock charge the goblins and especially the League, seeing them as the best armed and most dangerous enemies. And the members of the League, confused and irritated, take on everyone around them.

In the beginning, the battle goes well for the League. Odanais’ spells clear somewhat an area around them, first slowing down the sailors and rendering one asleep before they can intervene, and then sweeping half a dozen goblins into the water with a blast of thunder. Having just made it back to his feet, the unfortunate captain is caught in the blast, screams and evidently decides he’s safer underwater, throwing himself off the dock.

Heyoka and Yatagan focus their efforts on the boar, which is still rampaging back and forth, and also focusing on them as they attempt to bring it down. For the most part they focus on battering it over the head with their sword-hilts, but it’s hard to avoid inflicting a scratch or two. El, behind them, either blesses them with healing energy or blasts away the odd goblin mischief-maker. Asarlai and Penelope attempt to find Distaff, but he’s currently lost in the mass of goblins, so the old warlock focuses on keeping the goblins away from the two of them, while the archer uses the longer range of her greatbow to pin down the sailors manning the ballistae. Even Sappho has her role to play, leaping back and forth between the feet of the goblins and sometimes clawing one painfully. Every once in a while she pauses to maul one of those which have fallen.

Artichoke, as usual, seems to take no particular role, almost ambling around the battlefield, barely lifting his sword except to bat away a goblin or two, calling out advice or instructions once in a while. But, Penelope notes, his presence seems to make just the minor difference that is needed, whether it be to almost coincidentally stand just where Heyoka needs to brace himself when pushed back or where he can distract a goblin for the second that Yatagan needs to smack it on the head. And when he calls out, “Heyoka – hit him on the right arm,” or “Yatagan – his helmet is weak on the left,” the advice invariably seems accurate. Maybe he’s a little better than I gave him credit for, muses the archer, drawing a bead on another sailor and then pinning the man’s hand to the ballista he was loading.

Penelope’s concentration is disrupted a second later, however, by a triumphant – if slightly wheezing – cry. “There he is!” says Asarlai, indicating Distaff emerging from a mass of goblins nearby. “I’ll get him!” The old warlock hurries forward, leveling his walking stick, and a blast of dark, crackling eldritch energy shoots forth to strike Distaff. As he yelps in pain and turns, Asarlai cackles, “Not so fast!”

Penelope begins to swing her bow in their direction, but is again distracted, this time by a surprised cry from where the melee is in full flow. The sailors have finally reached the other members of the League, and while Heyoka is distracted with the pig, one smashes him in the back with a polearm, sending the shifter off his feet. The others swarm around Yatagan and Artichoke, while the pig continues to be a large distraction.

I’ll be right there,” snaps Penelope, before laying down a volley of covering fire at the sailors. This provides just enough of a distraction for Heyoka to make it back to his feet, and the sailors are quickly on the defensive once he rejoins the fight.

Penelope shifts her attention back to Asarlai, so see the warlock and Distaff exchanging blasts of arcane energy. The goblin’s electrical attacks seem more powerful than the warlock’s ones, but Asarlai doesn’t seem to care, a broad grin covering his scorched face. The grin slackens slightly as a powerful electrical attack sears his chest, but he responds with one of his own, causing a fist-sized orb of blue-white radiance to appear near Distaff and circle the goblin, shooting fierce rays which fence him in.

If things were not bad enough for Distaff, a shaft suddenly sprouts from his shoulder and he cries out, dropping to the ground. “Hey!” shouts Asarlai, “I have it under control!” But as Penelope ignores him and takes aim again, the goblin’s staff flares and a thick cloud of bilious yellow vapor envelops Asarlai. While the warlock coughs and retches at the poisonous fumes, Distaff crawls behind the cloud and out of Penelope’s sight.

“Damn!” Penelope turns and shouts to Artichoke, “Distaff’s getting away! What do we do?”

“Stay put!” shouts back Artichoke, stepping back from a sailor he just bludgeoned to the dock, “We’re not splitting up! And someone, please drop the pig! And yes, gently, Penelope!”

Luckily, with the sailors disposed of and the remaining goblins giving the League a wide berth, this isn’t that difficult to achieve, and a sweating Heyoka and Yatagan finally manage to knock the pig out. As they do, Artichoke steps forward, seeing that the ship’s captain has managed to swim to the other end of the pier and climb up, and is now staggering up the gangplank.

“You!” shouts Artichoke. “We wanted no trouble with you and didn’t attack you. Call your men off before they get seriously hurt.”

The wounded man stops, anger and confusion warring on his face, and then slowly nods. “Get back on the ship,” he mutters to the sailors who were warily proceeding down to join the battle, and then hurries on board as fast as he can.

Artichoke watches him go and then looks around. “Okay, folks, let’s get together.” He glances over to ensure that Asarlai, who has emerged grumpily from the cloud and failed to locate Distaff. “And head back to the Hall. We…”

“And take the pig with us!” points out Penelope.

“WHAT?!”

“We need to take the pig with us,” insists the archer, speaking slowly and firmly. “They’ll just kill it if we leave it here. And I am not letting them take that sweet, cute animal to the circus.”

“Sweet?” There is a certain rare degree of horror in Yatagan’s tone, as he leans sweating on his axe, his armor dented by the boar’s attacks.

“Yeah. Sweet. Whatever. I insist!” Penelope looks around at the League’s expressions and smiles triumphantly. We saved the poor creature from a pretty miserable life… what a good day!
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PostSubject: Re: Session writeup   Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:33 pm

Here's the next bit of the writeup, which is mostly just cut-and-pasted from the forums by Amber with some minor tweaks.

* * * * *
Despite the crowds of irate goblins gathered outside the “Hall of Justice,” showing their collective anger towards the group’s “betrayal” of Distaff, Penelope is in a pleasant mood. I saved…, the archer takes a moment to inspect the unconscious animal in front of her, looking for the telling sign of its gender, …her, this majestic creature, from the Ethical Circus. Though onboard with the rest of the group’s decision to help the goblins, she feels much more connected to the strife of … well, living creatures that can’t talk. Animals also aren’t stupid enough to hit a surrendering ship captain over the head…

While looking the pig over for any serious wounds, Penelope sees that the group’s leader is approaching her. She sighs in mild irritation as she turns to face the bald man.

“It’s a feral pig,” says Artichoke.

The darkly clad Penelope responds, “But she’s cute. Also, she smells a hell of a lot better than Heyoka. Odanais and Yatagan seem to like her…”

“As if that’s a good si—” The wannabe motivational speaker stops short at her expression, and then hangs his head in a show of frustration. “Go ahead, Penelope. Do whatever you want. I don’t think I really have a say in the matter.”

Grinning triumphantly, the archer begins to stroke the unconscious pig in a strangely loving manner. Tense, somewhat threatening body language instantly transforms into comfort. “What should we name her?”

Odanais, taking interest in the conversation between Artichoke and Penelope, says, “Treasure, perhaps? After all, the sow’s all we procured from our latest adventure.”

“Experience too,” Artichoke adds. “Valuable experience to—”

“Not trust goblins?”

Instead of answering the wizard, Artichoke turns his attention to a goblin messenger that has quietly entered the Hall.

"I... ah... I have a package for Captain Artichoke," he says nervously and then, making a show of self-confidence, strides into the center of the room upon his over-long legs, and holds out a large wooden box for the consideration of the group.

"Relax," says Artichoke honestly, "I have no quarrel with you. Put it on that table over there and open it, please."

"I do hope this contains an apology for your master's cowardice," adds Yatagan pleasantly.

The messengers bows, opens the box, and takes a hasty step back. There’s no explosion. The box is, well, merely a box.

Within the box, which appears to be lined with straw, Penelope notices three items: A long sword in an elaborate sheath, a small bag, presumably filled with coins, and an envelope sealed with Distaff's seal. Within this is a folded piece of parchment, which bears the following writing (read aloud by a progressively more pleased Artichoke):

Captain Artichoke:
I shall not insult you by tendering my apologies; any such that I could make would be woefully insufficient. Let me say only that the twin demons of fatigue and worry were whispering in my ear this morning, and that I, to my everlasting shame, succumbed to their blandishments.

When the captain turned his back 'pon us -- no, in truth, upon me -- I felt it such a gesture of contempt that I simply acted without conscious thought. That I attacked a man who was no threat to me, and that I struck him from behind, is a shame that I shall never entirely escape.

Even worse was my attack upon your man, which was born quite simply of abject panic. I let my guilt overwhelm me, and the scowl upon his face made him seem a veritable fury of justice.

The blade, and the coins that accompany it, are but small recompense, and I am aware of that. I shall trouble you no further, but will be forever grateful for those services you performed upon my behalf. If nothing else, your saving of Master Jobbernowl has left me forever in your debt.

Henry Distaff


When Artichoke is done reading, he looks around the group and then at the goblin. "Thank you. Tell master Distaff that we accept his… explanation and payment, and matters between us are now settled. Completely." He glances around the group again. "Right?"

The group responds with a collective yes – except for Asarlai, of course, who responds with a snore.

Turning to the long-legged messenger, Yatagan adds, "If I should see one of your kind unjustly harmed, I shall aid them. With force of arms, if necessary. Despite the unfortunate events on the docks you should consider Sir Yatagan Fracas an ally."

The goblin nods solemnly and then quickly departs from the tavern, leaving the group to their own devices.

***

It is just before dawn the next day when Artichoke hears knocking on the tavern door as he heads down the stairs. Asarlai, already in the common room, merely peers over his morning coffee and waits for Artichoke to react.

When the League’s supposed leader finally approaches the door, he hears voices from outside.

"Sir, really, we don't have time for this. Can't we just…"

"We're going to make time, Mr. Call. Besides, this shan't take long. Standard deployment now, if you please."

Crap! Now what? Weighing the tactical advantage of having everyone awake against the disadvantages inherent in them actually being present, Artichoke decides to risk waiting until he's certain there's trouble. He turns to exchange a glance with Asarlai, then sighs and waves until the old man looks up from his morning coffee at him.

With what little reassurance can be gained from having a crotchety and trigger-happy old warlock covering his back, Captain sighs again and opens the door, his other hand carefully hooked in his belt near the hilt of Distaff's recent gift.

The man at the tavern’s threshold stands ramrod straight.

He wears a Port naval uniform, one entirely devoid of medals or badges of rank, and wears a sabre at his side. He looks to be about sixty years old, his precisely trimmed hair and beard grey, but somehow conspires to give the impression of being more than capable of cutting Artichoke in half with little or no effort.

“Captain Artichoke, I presume? Stefan Petard. I'd like to have a word or two with you, if I may.”

Without waiting for an answer, he steps forward, two men in uniforms similar to his following behind him. As the door closes, the pair take up a position on either side of it, staring into the middle distance, each with one hand resting on the hilt of his sword.

Petard looks around the room as he strides in, grimacing a little at the squalor. “Fine place you have here,” he says with patent insincerity.

He seats himself at a table, produces an elaborate pipe made of brass and ivory, and kindles it with a flick of his finger. He takes a long draw upon it, exhales a plume of faintly sulfurous smoke, and cocks an eye at Artichoke.

“So,” he says, beginning to drum his fingers on the tabletop, “I'm a pederast, am I?”

Yup, I'm definitely dead! Artichoke barely manages to keep from closing his eyes. After taking a deep breath, he says, sounding strangely calm even to himself, “One moment, Magistrate. Asarlai, would you please wake everyone and let them know Magistrate Petard is here and they should come down? Immediately.”

Having bought himself a couple of extra seconds’ time to think, Artichoke then turns his full attention to Petard. Smiling ingratiatingly and looking slightly puzzled, he says carefully, with complete honesty, “A pederast? I'm sure I've never thought that you were one and certainly never said that you were.” After a moment's hesitation, he adds, still speaking slowly and carefully, “But I did hear of some sort of commotion in the Quadrille based on obviously untrue rumors about something of the kind. Is that what this… visit is about, Magistrate?”

As Artichoke speaks, the other members of the League begin to trickle downstairs, joining Captain.

“Is not this 'Yatigan Fracas' fellow in your employ?” Petard asks. “He's made quite a name for himself in the Quadrille, you know. A number of people recognized him … and of course, he is a rather … distinctive personality. He, and a number of accomplices, said some very unpleasant and completely untrue, things about me the other day, directly outside my offices.”

“It's 'Yat-ahh-gan', Magistrate,” says the Dragonborn as he swings his bulk out of the stairwell. “I am here. I take full responsibility for the incident in the Quadrille.” He says this in a strong, sincere voice that's about as close as dragon-kin get to contrite. “I admit that I may have been mistaken.”

One of the men standing by the door starts to take a step forward, but freezes at a glance from Petard.

“May? Strong words, from a poet.” The Magistrate shakes his head, and sighs. “I'm getting old,” he tells the room. “A decade ago, we'd have cleared a space among these tables and be dueling even now, Master ‘Yat-ahh-gan’. And then, I rather suspect, you'd be finding how difficult it is to slander a man when your lungs are full of blood.”

"But," he shrugs. "I am older, and perhaps even wiser – or lazier. Some days it's very difficult to tell the difference.

"I can assure you, though, sir: You are very much mistaken."

Artichoke sighs. He's never been quite as happy to hear Yatagan's voice as he is at the moment. He slowly slides his chair back and away, noting that the others are following the dragonborn paladin down the stairs. Oh, this can't go well!

“Magistrate Petard,” he says, “May I introduce Sir Yatagan Fracas?” Deciding that taking a little responsibility here is necessary, not only because it seems there is no way to avoid it but because it offers some small chance of channeling things to a non-explosive end, Artichoke continues speaking. “While Yatagan is not strictly my employee, he does work under my comma… under my guida… make my life di…, well, we work together. And I, as I'm sure he does, apologize unreservedly for any inconvenience caused you by recent events. Is there any way my companions and I can express our regrets?”

Petard exhales another cloud of smoke, which flows into the form of a perfect spiral as it ascends towards the ceiling. “On my first voyage as captain," he says, “I was somewhat… overzealous. A common sin among new officers, as I've since learned. But I decided, one fine day, to personally investigate the ship's stores. Terribly arrogant thing to do, very much a slap in the face of the Quartermaster, but to be frank I was a little bored.

“I was somewhat appalled by what I found. The hardtack was moldy, and crawling with maggots. So I ordered it thrown overboard; 'Let the fish have a feast,' I said. The quartermaster protested, but I laughed, and told him not to worry. We were only a week away from making port, after all.

“Two months later, lost in the Deep Astral with supplies all but gone and no land in sight, the very thought of that hardtack was enough to make my mouth water.

“I swore, on that day, never to discard anything that still might have a use. Even if,” he pauses, eyeing Yatagan once more, “It's. Infested. By. Vermin. Do you understand me, ‘Captain’?”

Artichoke simply nods, figuring nothing more needs to be said. Petard continues. “At the moment, I have no need for your group. But in the future?” The magistrate shrugs. “Who can say? There are limits on what even a magistrate may do, after all. And there have been times when I've seen a need for an... unaffiliated force, I suppose you could say?”

Then Petard pushes back from the table and stands up. "This has been interesting, certainly, but I need to restore order to this miserable district. Riots are terrible things; alas, the causes of this one seem unclear. No two people that I've spoken to have told me precisely the same story. That's all too common, of course."

He pauses on the threshold, and turns back to Artichoke to raise a single admonitory finger. "Do try to stay out of trouble, hmmm? Even my patience has its limits."

Artichoke nods again. “Certainly. Oh, and if you're searching for the source of the riot, Magistrate, I believe you may find it worthwhile to check on the Driftglass Society and a certain strike which was underway at the docks this morning.” He smiles blandly. “Or so I've heard.”

Once Petard does actually take his leave, Artichoke waits for a few seconds before slowly putting his head in his hands and running them through his rapidly thinning hair. “You guys!” he groans, looking for more words, and then settling simply for an inarticulate “Aaargh!”
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