By Jaap-Peter Hazelhoff
Chapter 21 - An Early Stroll
Berdusk, 1371 DR, Eleint, 9th day, just past early breakfast
Calathra has said her goodbyes, and as the others leave to ride to the site where Ditalidas was ambushed, Grim and Druth finish their breakfast in the private room at the Running Stag.
Druth stands up and brushes a few breadcrumbs from his clothes. “I’m going the Temple of Kelemvor, Portia is researching information on the Velsharans. Going over old tomes and scrolls is more in my field of expertise. I will help her with the research. If you, or anyone else in the group needs me, I will probably be there.“
“Sweet water and light laughter my friend. Till we meet again.“ With these parting words, Druth walks out the room.
As the rest of the group goes to the horses, Grim quietly finishes his breakfast and also takes a few extra pieces of bread with him. After murmuring a short “Thank you“ to the servant he goes back to his room… takes his time doing several stretching exercises and finally gets fully dressed and ready to go out. Whistling a merry tune he heads towards the stable to see if his friends already left.
As Grim enters the stables, he sees that most of the boxes are empty. One of the stable boys is trying to repair a half door on one of the boxes. Through the open doors Grim can see the inn’s court; it is empty. It appears his friends have already left.
“Ah.“ sighs Jez, “By the Shining Stars of Lliira, it’s another beautiful day.“ Jez continues down the street and waves courteously or greets people he knows and those who know him.
After checking the streets near the inn for signs of his friends for a short while, Grim starts walking towards the spot where his friends and him were followed just the evening before.
“Hey there, well met.“ A jovial looking, somewhat heavyset, man carrying a peddler’s-pack on his back addresses Grim, “I could hear from your accent, and tell by the way you dress, that you are not from around here.“ Pulling himself up a little straighter the man continues, “I’m Halacan Kysus, merchant in fine household wares, I’ve got everything a housewife needs, needles and pins, buttons and combs. You name it, Halacan sells it.“ He sketches a small bow, as far as his peddler’s-pack allows. “Your new in town, aren’t you?“
Jezbodiah stops for a moment thinking the merchant wants him but then shakes his head. It wasn’t he who was being hailed. Good, Jez has one too many problems right now, especially from Sulai, a merchant’s daughter he wooed some time ago. However, something, some thought in the back of his head tells Jezbodiah he should stop and watch both men, for now at least.
Grim turns towards the man and examines him swiftly from top to bottom. “And well met to you too, my friend…” He responds with a smile on his lips. “It seems that I have to compliment you on the sharpness of both eyes and ears, because I indeed come, as you so rightly guessed, from out of town.” Grim finishes with a small bow and an even wider smile on his face. “I arrived yesterday by boat and haven’t had the chance to admire the sights of this fair city yet… something I am planning to do something about on this beautiful day. A man such as yourself must know a great deal of the place he has chosen to offer his goods to… even know things that others might not know, am I right?” Grim asks the peddler.
“Beg your pardon saer? I do know a great deal of this fair city, but what publicly unknown things would you be referring to?” The man raises his fluffy eyebrows in question. Grimm’s smile turns into a small frown as if he is pondering about something before turning into a smile once again. “I had hoped you could direct me to a place or person with more intimate knowledge of the city, but alas… it looks like I’ll have to keep looking then.”
Grimm starts again in the direction he was walking before. After a few steps, he pauses as if realizing something and he turns back to the man… “If I should in the near future have a need of your fine goods… where could I find you my good man?” Smiling, the peddler answers, “I’m staying in the Running Stag. That is my favorite place to stay in this city. But if you need to find me, your best option is Amberside. The marketplace. This time of year, there aren’t that many merchants, so you should be able to find me. Otherwise just ask for Halacan’s Household wares.” With a small bow Grim take a step back. “It will be no problem to find you then.” Grim turns and starts walking again. A final greeting is cheerfully rolling of his lips and soon after that, he starts whistling a simple melody while strolling casually towards the place where last evening they were followed.
Having made only a couple of paces in the direction, a new voice addresses Grim, “Hail and well met good saer. I happen to listen to your conversation a few moments ago and I understand you’re new in town.” He bows before the man and says, “My name is Jezbodiah Wisp. My friends and companions call me Jez. I was born and raised in Berdusk. How can I help you if you’re new to my city?” Jezbodiah Wisp is a half-elf, close to six foot tall, with long straight blonde hair, sparkly green eyes and a clear elvish complexion. His features are very human but sharp and angular like an elf. His ears are small for a human but pointed at the tips. He sports thick blonde sideburns and has an air of sophistication about him, but does not flaunt an arrogant demeanor like most First Folk or wealthy merchants of Berdusk. His build is long, lean, but muscular; as if he has trained in fencing and helped merchants relocate their heavy wares and goods within the city. He wears elegant well-broidered clothing under a suit of fine leather armor. Thick leather gloves adorn his hands and he carries a rapier at his left hip, a dagger at his right, and a short sword slung over his shoulder
Grim stops in mid-whistle and turns around to face this new interruption. After a quick inspection Grim makes a slight nod towards the new arrival and smiles… “And well met to you too of course.” He pauses for a few moments before continuing. “Well then Jezbodiah, I am afraid I need some information about things that are not what you would call common knowledge found lying around in the streets. That’s why I was looking for someone, or somewhere, for me to get my questions answered. I would be very grateful if you could tell me the directions to a tavern where I might learn more about such things.” He looks at Jez while patiently waiting for an answer.
“Please, call me Jez. Only my father and mother call me Jezbodiah. I’m native to Berdusk and I may have the answers you seek.” He says with a smile as golden as his hair. “But how would I answer your question first. Ha, with the second of course.” The half-elf chuckles, “Yes, you seek some place unusual and away from the city guard. Mind you friend there are many eyes in Berdusk. Some eyes belong to the city guard and some with nobler intentions, like those who harp. As for a tavern, Berdusk has many to select. Were you interested in something particular? ‘The Running Stag’ or ‘The Herald’s Rest’ are for a higher class of persons such as myself. No, wait, as I would never sleep or drink there. The place you seek is ‘Hullybuck’s Gamble’. Although the only business I would do at that places is pawning, if you know which way the wind blows and the owner prefers halfling to anyone else.“
“I see… well, being neither your father nor your mother it will have to be Jez then. Where might I find this Hullybuck’s Gamble you are talking off?” Grim asks keeping his expression and bearing neutral. “Ah yes, the Gamble is located southwest of Amberside and Vale Gate. That’s the city market and the city’s south exit.” Jez says. “Need any help such as an escort or guide? Mind you, I don’t need any money or payment. I’m bored rather early this morning.”
“Thank you for the advice my good man.” Grim replies. “But I prefer to travel by myself, besides I’m not such an entertaining companion. You would grow bored with me really quickly.” With that and a nod, he walks away from Jez, leaving the young man a little flabbergasted behind.
Shaking his head and closing his eyes for a moment Jez finds to his surprise that he has lost sight of the man. Trying to find him Jez is amazed how quickly the stranger has disappeared into the small crowd that has begun to gather on the streets going about their own businesses. One moment Jez thinks he catches a glimpse of the man, but the next it seems he is gone again.“What an incredibly rude bastard.” He mutters to himself. “I wonder if Raphtosz will end up throwing the man out on his ass. Oh well.” He says cracking a smile. “It will serve him so.” Jez turns immediately to his coin purse to see if it he has been pilfered.
Jez turns around to where the creaky old voice comes from. An old crone, in a faded gray cloak addresses him. She is leaning on a gnarled old walking stick and underneath the cloak Jez can see she’s wearing a tattered robe, which is half white, half black. “You are Jezbodiah Wisp, son of Evaleen Wisp of Berdusk aren’t you?” The old crone peers with half closed eyes over her nose at Jez. “Yes, you are him, I can tell by the eyes. Good!” Whirling around, Jez is about to unsheathe his rapier but ceases when he sees the old crone. “Yes, that is my name and the name of my good mother. Tell me wise elder, where did you learn of her?”
“I’ve got a task for you my boy, please follow me.” Somehow, intrigued or strangely compelled, Jez follows the old crone through the streets of Berdusk. Why he doesn’t know, but Jez is not paying attention to where the old crone is leading him. After a while he recognizes where they are when she stops. The Crystal Mansion, temple of the Lord of the Dead, Kelemvor, on Steelspur Way. From the outside, the building does not appear to be a temple to the god of the dead. Except for the drapes with Kelemvor’s symbol hanging left and right from the main entrance, there is little to indicate the true nature of the building. “Elder.” He says calmly. “I am a Lliiran worshipper and be it no place for me to complain, but this is the last place I would except to go. I find no joy or festivities in these halls.”
A young man at the entrance welcomes them, and clearly recognizes the old crone. “Fair morning Milady, fair morning saer. Please enter.” He opens the leftmost of the double doors. The pair steps through the door into the main hall of the temple. The temple is actually a converted mansion, and one of the newest temples of Berdusk. The old decorations of the former occupants of the mansion are still present; yet subtly altered into symbols of passing into the afterlife, or other symbols associated with the clergy of Kelemvor. Apparently, the old crone knows where she’s going and leads Jez up the stairs to a small but comfortably furnished room. “And now we wait for a moment.” She states in a matter of fact way. “Wait, wait for what?” He says aspirated. “Is there any reason, why I should wait here? Am I in trouble with the law? I must confess to you Elder that I will have absolutely nothing to do grave robbing or disturbing the dead of their rightful rest.”
“For me, Yes and No. Those are the answers to your questions Jezbodiah Wisp.” A husky voice comes from the doorway. Dressed in ash-gray robes and wearing a silver circlet on his hairless head, an elderly man enters the anteroom. Prominently displayed on the front of his robe is the symbol of Kelemvor, golden scales in a skeletal hand. He holds up his hand motioning Jez to be silent. “Please young man, hold your horses for a moment. You have nothing to fear, and no grave robbing or disturbing the peaceful rest of the dead is required of you.” The man’s voice is monotone and seemingly devoid of emotion. “Lady Malveron will tell you more later.” The man indicates the old crone. “I’m High Priest Sillisten, Death’s Hand of Kelemvor. I just have one single request to ask of you. I would like you to deliver a message to Saer Matteo Ashgale.”
“Pardon my gross manners good Lords and Ladies, if I had offended you. I was raised to believe that both Myrkul and Death had reputations, and a well-deserved ones all to their own. Boogie-Man stories read to me in childhood.” He bows as elegantly and courtly as possible. “The faith of Kelemvor is new and hardly established but I have heard that they have done many great deeds in recent months. So if I may, I will keep my mind, eyes, and heart wide open. My services are yours to honor your request.”
The high priest pulls a sealed scroll from the sleeve of his robe. “Please hand this scroll to Saer Ashgale in person, it will help a certain event around a bottle of excellent wine go unnoticed.“ Accepting the scroll from the high priest, Jez replies to Lady Malveron, “And this Saer Matteo, Where can I find him? He isn’t Zhentish is he? Does he have a place of residence, an inn or tavern mayhaps? What company does he partake? And is this event.” He smiles. “Does it have anything to do with a party? I love a good celebration.”
“Go to the Minstrelride, to the Angruatil mansion.” High Priest Sillisten says, “Saer Ashgale is in the employ of Lady Angruatil. From there I wouldn’t know where to find him. But I’m sure the people at the Angruatil mansion can help you further.” The Death’s Hand of Kelemvor rises from his seat, “Thank you. And may Lliira spread much joy on your road before you meet my Lord.” The venerable priest inclines his head politely and moves from the room.
“Angruatil Mansion… right.” He says as he displays his thumb upward with much enthusiasm for the Kelemvorite clerics. “As for meeting your Lord, I haven’t planned on it for years to come.” He says with a smile. “That must be your father’s side speaking! Such flippant foolery!” The old crone, Lady Malveron, comments in a creaky voice. “Couldn’t be your mother’s side. She and her family were much more polite.” “But enough of family business. You are on a mission. Let’s go.” Putting her hand in her back and leaning on her staff, the old woman rises with difficulty from her seat. “Hmmm… Sillisten should do something about these uncomfortable benches. They’re more suited to the dead.”
“Well both of my parents are half-elves.” Jez says smiling. “My whole family is mixed-blooded. Uh, let’s see… uh elvish… Balduran… Tethyrian… I think… Makes me a unique, one-of-a-kind, all-around, and very roguish but entertaining first son of the Wisp family I suppose. Hey, wait a moment… What do you know about my mother’s side of the family?”
“Wait a moment… I don’t think so young man. You’re much faster then I am. If I wait a moment or longer, we’re going to be late…” Without looking up or back, the old lady moves along. “…And don’t stand their gaping like a fresh caught fish on land, young man. Like I said, you’re on a mission now.” Leaning slightly on her staff the old crone moves to the doorway, and opens the door to step out. “Now if you were a gentleman, you would help an old lady get about…” The creaky voice grates a little on Jez’s nerves, yet there is definitely a sound of authority in her voice, more or less compelling Jez to come along.
Instantly Jez springs to attention, clicks his heels once and salutes the ancient crone like a well-disciplined soldier saluting his superior. He does so in a manner fitting a woman of her station, but she can sense his silliness and humor. “Yes Ma’am. I, Jezbodiah Wisp, am your servant faithful as I take the name Lliira in all festivals. Now.” He holds out his arm, winking an eye and smirking strongly with the left side of his face, “Shall we be off and down the road? Aye, I think a young Lliiran and an elderly Kelemvorite will turns head in Berdusk. I just hope people do not get the wrong idea about me… ehm… us.”
Taking the young man’s arm, the old crone offers a brief smile and lets Jez lead her out of the Crystal Mansion. “Off towards Amberside then. Oh, and I am not a priestess of the Lord of the Dead. Just a simple old woman.” The two are of walking towards Berdusk’s marketplace. “Not a priestess, are you sure about that. You remind me a bit of my grandmother. Nah, she passed away almost a decade ago.”
After a good walk, the old lady points at a building on the corner of Minstrelride. “A place you know well I think…” She gives Jez a wink and a gap-toothed smile. ‘The Ruby Shawl’, one of the halls of pleasure in Berdusk… “I may have danced and strutted there once or twice.” He says with a deep crimson blush. “No, What. Wait a moment…! What how did you know…?” Jezbodiah’s face is flushed with apprehension.
From one of the balconies a girl leans sensually on the balustrade. Pouting her full red lips and displaying her ample cleavage, she looks at Jez and the old crone. In a long sweet drawling voice she calls out, “We’re not good enough for you anymore Wispy boy?” She turns her head toward the room behind her and calls in a teasing voice to her friends. “Hey y’all come and see. Our macho honey baby has a new girlfriend…”
“You didn’t say that last night when you saw the size of my large sausage.” He says with a smile. “And it’s not one I bought from the market. Once I’ve finished my civil service, uh… escorting my grandmother, I be back to give you a few more inches.” Replying to Jez’s somewhat flustered question, the old woman on his arm says, “I know a lot of things, but there are many more that I don’t. Don’t mind an old lady. I’m just rambling about.” The old woman is plainly ignoring the buxom women on the Ruby Shawl’s balcony. “Pay no attention to them.” Jez says. “As a Lliiran worshipper, I can see that your soul dances and sings with reverence and joy. More than I can say for them.”
“Humbug…!” The old woman replies, “…And don’t mind those traipsing airheads up there. We have to get moving.” With surprising strength, the old woman tries to pull Jez onward. “And I’m not your grand-mother. I’m way to old to be her.”
“Odd, you don’t look elvish.” Jez replies in a perplexed manner. The girls on the balcony make a disdainful wave with their hands, and turn their backs toward the street, heading into the Festhall again. The rogue turns his head and yells, “Don’t fret ladies. I’ll be back later tonight.”
A short walk takes the two to the Angruatil mansion. The two arrive almost at the gate at the moment a carriage pulls up in front of the mansion. A lovely lady dressed in fine and expensive clothes, walks out the double door entrance to the mansion, accompanied by an elderly manservant. The lady obviously has elven heritage, judging from the shape of her eyes and the slightly pointed ears. Upon seeing the two at the gate, she smiles and hails Jez and the old woman, “Well Met, I’m Lady Angruatil, can I help you?” The driver of the carriage remains sitting quietly, but his eyes don’t leave the pair at the gate. Obviously the man is also some sort of personal guard.
The dashing half-elven rogue bows most graciously and with etiquette to the elvish woman stepping out of the carriage. “My Lady, your beauty and grace transcend the senses. This is my traveling companion Lady Malveron and I am Jezbodiah Ilthryn Wisp, son of Mathou and Evaleen Wisp. We are here so that I may deliver a message personally to Saer Matteo Ashgale. I was told by a Kelemvorite Cleric …Hmmmm, High Priest Sillisten, that Saer Ashgale is in your employment.”
“Thank you Jezbodiah.” The woman replies with a pleasant smile. “Saer Ashgale is indeed in my employ, but currently engaged in business. And not available on the estate.” Gracefully she turns to the elderly manservant. “Rohr. Did Saer Ashgale leave a message with you as to where he could be contacted?” The elderly servant thinks for a moment, and then replies. “I think the young master is staying in the Running Stag establishment.” Jez smiles and says, “The Running Stag you say? I must say this Saer Ashgale has impeccable tastes. A fine establishment if there ever was one to present itself in Berdusk. The thought of the selection of ales, beers and wines alone is enough for me to open my coin purse.”
“I’m afraid that’s all the help I can offer you at the moment master Wisp. If you’ll excuse me Lady Malveron, master Wisp.” With the swishing sounds of her dress, Lady Angruatil gracefully enters the carriage with the help of Rohr. Once seated properly, she addresses Jezbodiah and lady Malveron once more. “When you find Saer Ashgale, you might want to ask him to contact me.”
“I shall my lady. It will be done.” Jezbodiah bows before Lady Angruatil. “I shall see it personally that he receives the message. And one more thing, how will I be able to recognize Saer Ashgale? Does he travel with any companions or does he travel by himself?” Before closing the door of the carriage, Lady Angruatil replies to Jez, “Typically he is well-dressed, mostly in blacks. He was traveling with a priestess. If you’ll ask around in the Running Stag, the staff should be able to point him out.” And she closes the door, signaling the driver to go.
When the rattling sound of the carriage has receded somewhat, the old woman puts her hand on Jez’s arm. “Let’s be on our way to the Stag then. It’s no use standing outside here. Seems there is snow in the air.” She points towards the sky where heavy snow-laden clouds slowly creep closer. “I wouldn’t mind a cup of hot tea at the Stag. You know they have this very good herbal tea there. With all those woodland folk visiting, you can get some real good recipes for drinks and meals if you have an ear for it.”
Jez pays careful attention to the women’s words. “Lord Ashgale travels with a priestess. Yes, this shouldn’t be too hard.” He smiles, “I can’t say to much about the cuisine at the Running Stag but the scenery is quite remarkable. Once I believe I encountered a playful dryad serving drinks and charming the best of men. Alas I was too young for her charms, a child, no, a minor. That was about five years ago. I wonder if she’s there now that I’m a mature man. She said she liked my ears.” Jez just grins to himself.
He stops and ponders, “Drinks and recipes, hmmm. My mother is always looking for a good recipe. Cakes, cookies, sauces, meat platters, and my mother being an Lliiran worshipper and all. It never hurts to be a hit at the parties. A trip there just might prove to be beneficial.” Taking her arm once again, he says, “Let’s go before it snows too heavily.” Jez patiently looks at the clouds on the horizon.
As the pair walks up Castle Hill, they pass through the shadow the castle and its walls cast on the street. Steelsword Street is relatively quiet. The coming winter has sent some folks to warmer climes, and soon the last caravans of the season will arrive. A baker has set up a small stall under an oak tree, selling fresh baked bread to passersby. The smell of the bread seems to help sell the food. A small crowd has gathered around the stall. Jez sees a street urchin make a quick move, bumping into one of the crowd, only to hurry across the street towards an alley.
“My Lady, I think I saw a small problem.” replies Jez to his elderly comrade. “Follow me please.” Jezbodiah follows the young urchin towards the entrance of the alley, but leaves his hands resting on the hilt of his rapier and dagger, in case danger shows itself from darkened corners. “Come out, come out where ever you are?” He says in mirthful tones. “Don’t be afraid. I saw what you did, and I say you have gumption and style but not enough skill. What say I work out the rough edges with you and give a warm place to stay for the night? Beats staying out in the cold.”
“Not so quick young man.” Jez hears the old woman say, as he makes for the alley and outpaces her. It takes Jez but a blink of an eye to adjust his eyes to the shadowy darkness between the buildings. Dodging piled crates and rubbish, Jez sees the street kid round a corner, followed shortly by the sound of metal scraping over stone. “Well, are you going after him, or are you going to gape here like a fish on dry land?” The old crone says when she catches up with Jez. “I’ll wait here. I’m to old for chasing through alleys and gutters.”
“Gapping like a fish? I do not gape, well maybe at the Ruby Shawl.” Jez says in good humor. “And to mention it, your not elvish like me. You should stay back. Barring all possibilities, this little venture should not take to long. I hope.” Jez unsheathes his rapier and dagger and enters the alley and utters a prayer to Lliira. “Merriment and Festivity light my way.”
Beseeching the aid of the mistress of festivities, Jez enters the alley. Weapons in hand he moves lightly through the smelly space between the buildings. At the intersection with another alley, he skirts a pool of fetid water, but peering around the corner, there is no sign of the kid. Jezbodiah does notice however that the iron grating covering the sewer drain seems to be misaligned. Debating silently what to do and peering into the two open directions, Jez hears a slight splashing sound coming from the sewer drain. The opening appears large enough to crawl into. ‘Would that kid have gone in there…?’
“Beshaba’s Breasts.” moans Jezbodiah. “If mother and father ever catch me frolicking through the sewers in these clean cloths, they’ll kill me or worse have me washing dishes and doing house work for a month. Young rascal, I hope you pilfered enough to pay for my clothing bills.” Jezbodiah sheaths his rapier and places his dagger between his teeth. Cursing softly as he sticks his hands in the putrid waste, he enters the sewer drain after the kid.
Old rusted rungs lead down into the underside of Berdusk. The gloomy light that hangs between the buildings penetrates into the sewer only slightly, yet enough for Jez’s eyes to see by. The brick and mortar is slick with grime and algae, and the smell is not really pleasant. When Jez’s foot reaches the last rung, he can only feel empty air beneath him. About 10 feet above him the sky is only visible through the round opening that provides the entrance to this dismal place. The light reflects in what must be water or other liquid substance. From his feet to the reflecting surface is a reasonable distance. It would probably allow Jez to reach up into the shaft if he let’s himself down into the sewer canal. “Great.” Jez mumbles to himself. “Why couldn’t it have been someone else?” He stops then continues talking to himself. “Forget this. He’s not worth my time and I have no way of getting back up the ladder if I pursue him.”
“Hey kid!” Jez yells. “Just to let you know a snow storm is coming this way. It’s going to get cold in the sewers very, very soon. I’m heading to the Running Stag for fresh biscuits and warm mead. Stay down here if you want, but I guarantee that you’ll miss something good.” Jez wait for a reply, if none comes forth, he goes back up the ladder and out onto the street to meet with the old lady. He has a message to deliver, something more important in his eyes and following a faceless street urchin into the sewers is no this idea of a good time.
After the echo of his voice has subsided, Jez hears some sloshing sounds. It is as if someone or something is approaching through the sewer canal. The echoes of the sewer make it hard to distinguish. Jez waits for the sounds the approach but keeps one hand firmly on the rung of the ladder and one on the hilt of his dagger. Jez waits patiently. The sounds come closer and closer, and then stop. For a while Jez hears nothing and sees nothing peculiar, just the slow flow of the sewage below. About to climb back up, Jez suddenly catches the glint of light reflecting in a pair of eyes. While in effect only a few heartbeats pass, to Jez it seems like half a day could have passed when the eyes blink. The eyes come closer, revealing a small humanoid shaped creature standing in the sewage. The creature is holding something in its hands… something that has a familiar shape… a crossbow!
“Dung Lumps!” Jez gasps as he sees the crossbow. “Beshaba’s Breasts, my parents are going to kill me.” With the quickest of forethoughts, Jez sheaths his dagger and lets himself drop into the sewage. With a splash Jez lands in the muck below, cushioning the impact by bending through his knees, the sewage reaches to his upper legs. The crossbow wielding creature lets out a startled yelp, it almost sounds like the bark of a puppy or small dog. As it tries to swing the crossbow around and bring it to bear on Jez, the creature pulls the trigger a bit too fast. “Twang… Clunk! Splash.” The bolt hits the sewer wall and falls into the muck.
“Whoa!” The half-elf yelps as Jez takes a step back avoiding the bolt and trying to avoid the swinging crossbow. “Hey, I mean you no harm. Just put the crossbow away, I’m looking for a kid that fled in this direction.” Now that Jez has a better picture of his opponent, he sees that it is a small creature; about the size of the kid he was following. Yet this creature doesn’t resemble the street-thief at all. It has a snout and two small horns on its almost reptilian head. As the creature drops the crossbow in the muck, it bares its teeth in a growl while groping for another weapon. Looking beyond the creature, Jez hears more splashing sounds.
“Kobolds.” Jez frowns. Jez begins to back away from the creature but keeps his hands on the hilt of his rapier and dagger. “Time to hide and seek.” Jez chirps as he heads in the opposite direction. He keeps his eyes out for another set of stairs of ladders that will lead him to the surface, as well as deep shadows for him to hide. As Jez backs away, his feet finding a small ledge to walk on, the small creature seems to hesitate for a moment. It is as if it chooses between drawing a knife and picking up the crossbow again. In the mean time the splashing sounds come closer, and Jez can make out the outline of two more small creatures. By keeping his hand to the wall for balance, Jez steadies himself on the ledge. Still moving back, his hand suddenly gropes air. The sewer branches off.
“I see Berdusk has a problem with vermin again. I’ll talk to the city guard when I get the chance.” As soon as his hand gropes air, he turns himself and heads down the branch. Ahead into the sewage channel, Jez can see some daylight falling down into the darkness of the sewers, probably another sewer grating. Deciding to leave the city guard to deal with the kobolds, Jez turns into the branching sewer. Just as he moves from the spot he previously occupied, he hears something hitting the ledge and splashing in the muck behind him.
With speed and grace of an alert cat, Jez unsheathes his rapier and dagger then turns to face his newest adversary, if it is an adversary. Yet he sees none… Then a few seconds later, a shaft comes partially floating to the surface, the wood’s natural buoyancy lifting one end to the surface, while the metal tip on the other end remains resting on the bottom. Splashing sounds from the direction Jez fled from, announce the pursuing creatures trying to catch up.
The half-elf heads down the corridor towards the shaft. Reaching the shaft Jez looks up. Nothing seems to block the passage up. A quick jump allows the young man to reach the lower rungs, and he pulls himself up. Quickly he climbs to the top of the shaft. Putting his shoulders against the grating he pushes it aside. Freedom. A last glance down makes Jez clear the opening in haste. Barely he escapes a bolt again, as it races up through the shaft missing the young man’s legs barely, and flying harmlessly upward. Exciting yapping sounds sound in the sewer below, but the creatures seem reluctant to follow Jez up to the surface. “Ah freedom.” Jez mutters. “Time to find the old woman and deliver that message to Lord Ashgale.” Jez looks around to get his bearings.
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