Hermann's Tales 15

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After Giorgio revealed our full mission to Rangeer and Andrei, Rangeer demanded that we keep Nadia out of things. After all, she was a mother and was his only living relative. He offered that if we let her go be safe, he would accompany us on our mission to find Baba Yaga. After a lot of discussion, most of which needed to be translated for me, Benedictus agreed to let her go.

Rangeer decided he could smuggle us into Whitethrone through the Howling’s gate. The Howling is an area of Whitethrone ruled by werewolves, and the gate is thus more poorly managed than those for the rest of the city. The city, by the way, seems to now be on high alert. Maybe something to do with our actions at the Pale Tower? Either way, the normal city guards have been replaced with the current queen’s own guards, and they are clamping down on security.

His plan called for us to transport fish into the city, to feed those starving within, and he could hide our gear in the bottom of the fish cart. With this in mind, the next morning found us dressed in rags. I had given my Blade Belt to Idrin, as he was the best fighter in the group, and used an extra length of rag as a bandage to cover my precious – there was no way I was willing to take the risk of losing my ring by taking it off! We worked our way down to the docks, met with the real delivery fishermen, and took over the task of delivering the fish.

There was a short, if animated, discussion at the gate, and we were waved on through. Almost immediately once we were inside Rangeer was called to by the gate guard, and he muttered something to Benedictus before going back. Benedictus turned to continue pushing the cart, so I presumed he knew where we were heading. He is the boss, after all.

A few minutes later, we rounded a corner to be faced with a strange apparition. Imagine a cloaked and hooded human, barefoot, with a large mirror where his head should rightly be. ‘He’ was wandering down the street, looking into all the houses as he went, and looking at all the travellers that he passed. Which, in this particular case, was us. Wordlessly he stared at each of us in turn, before resuming his search along the road.

We hurried onwards towards a large red brick building, where Benedictus bid us to stop. He went up to the door, knocked, and had a short discussion with the person within. Lots of people then came out and started to unload the cart. We managed to smuggle all our stuff into the house along with the fish, and the owner thanked us profusely for the delivery.

Everyone went to warm themselves at the, admittedly feeble, fire, but after only a few minutes Benedictus said that we had stayed too long and that we needed to get to the far side of the Howling to get some fake documents made.

The way there proved to be frought with danger.

Having seen the network of roof bridges linking many of the houses along the way, and noting that the Mirrorman was still patrolling the street nearby, we decided to take the roofways as far as we could. The going was very slow and very slippery, but we finally managed to sneak over the rooftops past the Mirrorman, and then let ourselves down to the ground to continue on.

The next problem occurred whilst we were moving down an alleyway. Without warning a bunch of Goblins popped up and started shooting at us. Andrei and Idrin leaped to the attack, taking down one each. I cast my shielding spell, which should have prevented all but the luckiest of blows from hitting, but to my amazement it had little effect on these bandits. If it wern’t for Benedictus’s healing pulses I would have probably dropped before the end of the combat, but we eventually turned the upper hand, and after I downed the leader only one managed to get away.

Just around the corner from that we ran into two drunken wolvens. One of them talked to Idrin in a dismissive tone, whereupon everyone gathered around to witness a fistfight! There were many vicious blows both given and taken, but after a while Idrin dropped his opponent, victorious once again. The other wolven, upset at his friend’s failure, attacked us in a rage. Or rather, attacked Idrin in a rage, which allowed us to surround it and ‘put the boot in’, as it were. It seemed extremely resilient to attacks, but eventually I hit a major artery with my claws and dropped him. I gave a small mental thanks to Sarenrae for protecting me and for guiding my hand, and we continued onwards.

Only a few minutes later a slave ran into us, exhausted and almost falling in fear, crying out in that unintelligible language they use around here. Moments later a huge wolven appeared and accosted us. Tempers quickly frayed and he turned into wolf form to attack.

Quick as he was, we were quicker. Idrin and Andrei flanked him, allowing me to cast my remaining strength spell on Idrin before joining the fight. For you see, as much as I would have benefitted from the spell myself, I both acknowledged that Idrin could make more use of the strength boost, and accepted that I needed to get over my resentment of his behaviour. Lest I get dominated into attacking him again.

With Idrin boosted as he was, and the rest of us attacking with free abandon, the wolven didn’t last long. Again I struck the lucky blow that ended the fight, as only an enchanted claw to the heart can do. We decided to continue on, the now ex-slave accompanying us, as we made haste to the forger’s house.

There was to be one last obstacle in our path. Two of the queen’s guards were arguing with two more wolven in the middle of the street. Benedictus, activating the Rime Pelt, told us to behave as if we were his slaves. He appeared to transform into a wolven, then verbally abused us for our slowness as he herded us along. The argument seemed to break up at this point, with the wolvens leaving, but the queen’s guards gave us no note due to the wolven that appeared to be our master.

We got to the house, and knocked on the door. There was no reply, so Benedictus said something to Idrin, and he tried to break down the door. After two failed attempts I cottoned onto what he was doing and tried to assist him, but in the end the door only opened when the owner of the house unlocked and unbarred it.

We all hustled in, out of sight of the queen’s guards, and Benedictus started talking to the owner. After a lengthy discussion he told me that the forger would make us all documents, one showing Benedictus to be a local lord, the rest showing us to be his out-of-town guests. Whilst his wolven disguise was still in effect Benedictus went off with Idrin to gather our equipment and bring it over, as no-one would question a wolven making his dwarf slave carry a really large load.

An hour later they arrived back, and soon after we were fully dressed again. I was greatful to have my encompassing robe again, for it made hiding my precious far easier. Thinking back on things, it was with my ring hand that I felled all three of my recent foes. Maybe that is what my lovely ring does, make my attacks more potent? Only time will tell. Even if it does not, it is still mine. My precious.

We overnighted at the forger’s house, then headed to the internal gate to the rest of the city. There were two more Mirrormen at the gate, but after a short discussion with Benedictus, they let us pass. Onwards, into Whitethrone!

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Hermann's Tales 15

The Reign Of Winter The_Jay Niknokitueu