Montalan 27 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 2

The Red Hearts Gambling Parlor wasn’t hard to find.  Actually, scratch that, it wasn’t hard to see but it was very hard to find a way to get there.  No matter which street we took or what bridges we went across there didn’t seem to be a way to actually get to that section of the city.  It was frustrating enough that I decided to pay someone for directions, even though I know full well most people offering their services to show you around town, especially a town like Preen, are bilko artists – and not even the good ones.  As I was steeling myself to deal with some dirty street urchin with sticky fingers I saw a young woman singing on a corner.  She was wearing a simple tan dress and her auburn hair was a fright, but her voice was rich and full and her technique was strong.  It was familiar enough that it gave me a flashback of my early days in Graltontown.  Martialla and I stopped and listened for a moment.

“What’s the date?”

“The twenty-eighth I think.” She stopped and counted on her fingers for a moment “No, the twenty-seventh.”

“Two days.”

She frowned “Two days what?”

When the singer finished her song – The Swimming Stars – I applauded politely and held out a platinum coin for her.  Eyes wide she reached for it, then stopped herself with a suspicious look.  Her speaking voice was very quiet and low, quite a contrast to her powerful register. 

“What do I got to do for that?”

“That’s for the song.” I pointed to the maddeningly elusive casino that looked like it was just a block away “Show me how to get there and you’ll have another.” She took the coin and examined it closely, frowning. “It’s real.  Besides if you can’t tell a fake from the real thing what difference does it make?”

She flipped the coin into the pocket of her dress and spoke grimly “Trust me, if there’s one thing I know it’s how to detect debased coinage.  You can only get to the casinos from the north, there’s a single bridge that takes you there.  They like to keep all the casinos and whorehouses and dive bars penned in together so the decent and honest folk aren’t offended by them accidentally.”

“There’s good and honest folk in Preen?”

“So I’m told, I’ll let you know if I meet one.” She motioned for us to follow and started walking to the west “Technically the place is open now but there won’t be much of anyone there at this time of day, it’s not the kind of joint where you find the most desperate and wretched of gambling addicts that would be throwing their money away at this hour.  Before long it will be hopping though.”

“What’s your story?  You’re too good a singer to be begging on street corners.”

“I couldn’t agree more, yet here I am.”

“So what happened?”

She gave me a sidelong look “I don’t know what your game is but regardless I’m not dying to spill the details of my life story to you.”

“Fair enough, if you’re still here tomorrow after I lay two platinum on you I suppose that’s your own fault.”  She didn’t say anything, but I could read in her face that she wouldn’t be keeping that money “So that’s the deal huh?  Not enough to skip town I suppose?”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“How much do you normally pull in?  Fifteen silver maybe?  So hand over some silver and stash the rest until . . .”

She scowled “Look lady, I don’t need your help.”

“Of course you do, you’re just afraid, no one has reached their hand out to you that wasn’t hiding their other hand behind their back to crack you across the face if you took it.  I’m not trying to scam you for real.  Right Martialla?”

She shrugged “Remains to be seen.”

“Shut up you.” I turned back to our guide/singer “Clearly something went down that ended you up here, and I know that underneath all that armor you’ve built up to protect yourself there’s a part of you that wants help.  Not just wants but is desperate for it.  Well I’m here to help, take a chance why not?”

She looked incredulous “Who are you?”

“I’m your fairy fucking god-mother.” We reached the bridge and I tossed her the second promised coin “Now, you want to slink back to your corner or do you want to accept my help?”

She turned away “It wouldn’t matter, Generous would never let me go.”

“That’s your pimp?  He calls himself Generous?”

She rounded angrily “I never turned a trick!  I make my money singing!”

“Maybe, but that’s not what he sent you out here for right?  Now let me ask you something, does this Generous person happen to be a skinny asshole with an overly toothy smile wearing a stupid top hat and a dumb purple and green outfit?”

She blinked “How did you know that?”

I grinned and put my arm around her “Oh, every now and then things just work out.”

Making sure to note how to get back to the “vice district” Martialla and I took our new friend back to the Song and Dance to chat.  The name she gave was Aurbesh and she was very impressed by my room, although not so much that I would think she had never seen such luxury before.  I had some wine brought up and we had a few drinks before getting down to business.

“Where can I find Generous and does he have any bodyguards worth worrying about?”

Aurbesh held her glass nervously “Why?”

“Because I’m going to kill him.”

She nearly spilled her wine but managed to recover “Why?!”

“Because last time I was here he ripped me off.”

Martialla helped herself to some complimentary fruit “That’s not exactly what happened.”

“Quiet you, I mean he extorted me at the very least.”

She nodded before biting into a peach “That’s more accurate.”

Aurbesh’s was suspicious but hopeful “How are you going to kill him?”

Martialla nodded again “That’s a fair question since he kicked your ass last time.”

“He never did!  That’s not what happened!  You’re remembering it wrong.”

Martialla raised an eyebrow “O-kay, if you say so.”

Aurbesh looked confused “Do you have a man that’s going to kill him for you?”

“What?  A man?!  No, I don’t need . . .”

Martialla looked at the peach in her hand “That is what you would have done back in the old days, tricked some dope into doing your dirty work for you.  You were a lot more careful then.  I don’t think this is ripe.”

I sighed and took a moment to calm my nerves “Look, all you need to do is tell me where he is and decide if you want to be there when he dies.”

Aurbesh looked horrified “Why would I want to be there?”

Martialla gestured “See, that is the reaction of the normal person.  Back in the old days you realized that unlike you most people don’t want to see another person, even their enemy, slaughtered before their very eyes.  You’ve lost touch with the people Ela.  Your revenge lust has really messed you up in the brainpan.”

I pinched the bridge of my nose to stop a headache “I am starting to remember why I operate alone.”

Martialla smiled sweetly “Because of your crummy attitude?”

“I hate you.”

Aurbesh didn’t know where Generous lays his head or even where he operates from but she did say that at the end of the night he expects his girls to turn up at Gentlemen Jack’s to turn over their hard earned cash.  She claimed that the set-up was always the same, the cook from Jack’s would be cleaning and closing the place up while Generous would be accompanied by two of his goons and another fellow who handles the money for him. 

“Alright, so we have ourselves a nice dinner, then we head over to the Red Heart Casino and make contact with this Tiller person, then we end the night with a visit to Gentlemen Jack’s.  Sound like a plan?”

Aubesh raised her hand like she was in school “You want me to come to the casino with you?”

“Yes, if you want to, you can help us schmooze and gather information.  I’m very generous with those people I employ.”

Martialla snorted “You’ve never paid me anything.”

“You don’t work for me, we’re friends.”

She nodded “Ah, so only people who you aren’t friends with get money.”

“Exactly.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 23,043 platinum, 49,843 gold

XP: 789,511

Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Ring of Disguise, Badge of Last Resort, Tankard of the Drunken Hero, Censer of Dreams, Enchanted White Pathfinder’s Gear (effects as Iadaran Dress Uniform) Belt of Physical Might +4, Versatile Vest, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow with Sharpshooter’s Blade, Ring of Urban Grace, Holy Symbol of Adariel (Sanguine Protection) Black Marketers’ Bag (5), white squirrel fur Slippers of Scampering, Tidy Trunk, Whiterock Family Ring (Ring of Binding), Ela’s Better Walking Stick, Meteoric Amulet, unknown gauntlets, mysterious staff, Cape of the Mountebank, Sandals of Sprinting, +1 Agile Rapier  

Noble’s outfit (5) collegium ring,  pocketed scarf, wrist sheath, signet ring (2) assortment of fake signet rings, silver chain set with moonstones, gold and emerald ring (2), garnets (700), gold necklace with jade pendant, ivory combs, tax collector’s badge, gold bracelet with ivory inlays, silver necklace set with rubies, gold earrings with jade inlays, silver and gold brooch, silver necklace with ruby pendant, disguise kit, covenant ring , tiny diamonds (26), Saryah Phidaner gown, masterwork thieves’ tools, onyx (55) personal signet ring, tiara, masterwork red and black long greatcoat, lots of luxury goods, Turnbill blade of first forging (one of three) 

Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane, Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler, Alice Kinsey , “Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis,  Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee,  Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard, Forsaken Kin, Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo, Jey Rora, Colonel Tarl Ciarán, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage, Essa  

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