The Whisperer in Darkness

Day 4: Sheep in Wolves Clothing

The disguised Punishers prove that Sam Fisher could still teach them a thing or two.

As the intruders step quietly out of the basement, they overhear two students speaking of a midnight meeting. Could be worth checking out. But first, the infirmary – perhaps the surviving robed assassin is being treated there. The walls are covered in helpful signs so the Punishers have little trouble finding the place. The large, bed-filled room has only one patient – a sleeping boy. Ignatious goes to wake him up as Wistark holds Grimlock well back. Pretending to be a visiting medic, the ex-soldier discovers that the child has seen no other patients during his stay. The Punishers leave him to his rest and proceed to the midnight meeting.

Ignatious leads the party, engaging in light conversation as though he has every right to be there. Grimlock lurks in the shadows some distance behind. No amount of cheerful conversation can make a gigantic, scarred dragonborn look natural. With growing apprehension the group see a guard post in the corridor ahead. They draw close and consider what to do. Wistark devises a plan. He uses magic to create the sound of drunk teenage girls in the corridor ahead. Two guards emerge from the post and head toward the sound. Ignatious and Grimlock creep up behind them, ready to knock them out from behind as soon as they close the gap.

Norman makes a sudden decision – to grab the keys from within the guard’s office. As Grimlock and Ignatious draw ever closer to their unsuspecting targets, the dwarf scuttles into their office and reaches for the keys, which hang from a hook on the wall. He jumps to reach them, knocks them off the hook and they clatter to the ground. The noise breaks the silence. The guards turn around to find two warriors stalking them. All hell breaks loose. Ignatious rams into one soldier and grabs him, pulling him into an embrace where his sword rests against the man’s neck. Grimlock leaps and grabs a light fixture in the ceiling, hoping to grapple both guards with his legs. Surprisingly, the fixture supports the 380kg reptile. Unsurprisingly, the guard not restricted by Ignatious simply hops out of the way of his flailing legs.

Sensing that all of this is his fault, Norman makes amends by clambering over a desk, falling over, getting back up and almost shattering a glass window in an incredibly noisy manner. Grimlock attempts to throw himself at the unrestrained guard, but falls off the light fixture onto his back instead. Wistark jumps over the idiot’s massive, sprawling body and slams the guard against a wall, pinning the man with his staff and threatening him with a number of magically-summoned, needle-sharp daggers to the neck. Ignatious loses grip on his own captive, who struggles free and speeds off.

The quick-thinking soldier leaps upwards, slices through the top of the light fixture and sends it crashing down onto the fleeing guard. The fixture’s circular outer rim is wider than the guard’s body and therefore traps his arms against his sides as it falls onto him. Landing on his feet, Ignatious grabs him again, puts his sword back against his neck and proceeds to be very serious and threatening. Now restrained by a smashed light fixture and a wizard’s staff, with sharp blades at their necks, both guards surrender. They are knocked out and hidden. The Capital Punishers make their way to the meeting.

Through the closed doors of the meeting chamber they hear only an uninteresting speech by Donnull Portolee on the merits of being a university sponsor. They are now running out of ideas, and head to their last port of call – the dean’s office. Norman’s pilfered keys prove helpful in shortening the time it takes to reach this destination, but all this sneaking about is wearing on Grimlock’s patience. The dragonborn charges off at full speed, forcing the party to nervously sprint after him in none-too-stealthy a manner. They arrive, panting heavily and seemingly unnoticed, at the door to the dean’s office on Esselfine’s third floor. Wistark tries the door’s handle and receives a mild electric shock. The door has been sealed with magic!

Further investigation is interrupted – two guards appear and demand to know what they think they are doing. Ignatious tells them that “this dragonborn” (gesturing to Grimlock, of course, who squints at them fiercely) is looking for the dean. The guards ask where they found him, and Ignatious claims to have found him roaming the inner corridors. The guards are not entirely convinced by this. The dean’s office is not frequented by monstrous dragonborn mercenaries and the escorts look rather old to be wearing student robes. They come closer and demand to see their identification passes. As soon as they are within range, Ignatious leaps forward and tries to grapple with one, but this time he is cast aside. The guards draw their weapons.

As Norman steps in with halberd in hand, Grimlock pushes a large bookcase forward, hoping to drop it on both guards at the next opportunity. Wistark shocks the guards with a thunder wave, hoping to keep them from crying out. He also tailors the attack to knock one guard into the range of the bookcase. Ignatious is an unintended third victim of the wave, and is briefly paralysed accidentally. Grimlock slams the bookcase down. One guard hops nimbly out of the way, while the other is crushed beneath, receiving a blow to the temple that knocks him out instantly. Ignatious holds his sword to the neck of the other and is both serious and threatening. The guard pisses himself and surrenders.

He is interrogated, revealing that the magic lock on the door was created by the dean himself and that he is the only one who can dispel it. When the discussion is complete, his unconscious body is hidden away with his squashed comrade. The party decide to wait for the dean’s return. They clean up the mess in the corridor and get Grimlock to climb up into the rafters for a surprise attack. Wistark, Norman and Ignatious hide in a nearby classroom and wait for the dean to trigger the attack. Wistark realises that the dean could be someone he knows from the Magicians Guild. He tears a scrap from his disguise and ties it around the lower portion of his face to hide his distinctive moustache.

Twenty minutes later, the man in question arrives, accompanied by another. He goes to his office door and dispels the magic barrier. As he opens the door and starts to move inside, Grimlock drops from the rafters and crashes to the ground behind the shocked men. He slams them both into the room and charges in after them, drawing his greataxe and holding it to their necks as they lie on the floor. Upon hearing the noise, the other Punishers charge in after him. Unfortunately, the dean is not as defenceless as they’d hoped. He blasts Grimlock with enough magic to fling him back out into the corridor. He helps his companion up (Donnull Portolee, it turns out) and begins to crackle with arcane energy.

Encounter: Wizard’s Might

The dean is incredibly powerful. He magically beats Norman and Ignatious to a pulp in little more than ten seconds, then threatens to kill Ignatious if Wistark and Grimlock do not cease attacking. Wistark follows this order, in a manner of speaking. He uses all of the arcane power that he has summoned to, in a split second, flee the room. Having thrown his greataxe far beyond his reach, Grimlock decides that he too desires not to be captured and proceeds to leg it down the corridor after the wizard, grabbing Norman’s dropped halberd as he goes. They hear the cries of the dean as they run for their lives, shouting for the guard.

They sprint back the way they came, charging down the stairs to the second floor. Hearing that guards are approaching, they scramble up into the rafters and watch a number of them pass obliviously below. Unfortunately, two guards stick around and begin to suspect the wooden squeaks they hear from the darkness above their heads. The wizard and the dragonborn leap down from the rafters and throw themselves through a window onto the roof of the first floor, landing on its slippery tiles in a messy, sprawling tumble. The alerted guards chase them onto the roof in time to see Grimlock leap off the edge of the building with Wistark on his back.

The dragonborn takes some damage from the fall, but it is nothing he is not used to. Patrolling outdoor guards hear the loud crash and approach to investigate, but Wistark tricks them into running the wrong way. He leads Grimlock into the woods, where even the conspicuous dragonborn cannot be seen. They run across the campus under the cover of the trees, but the guard captain has anticipated this escape route. They reach the woodlands border to see guards waiting between them and the university’s exit.

Wistark notices that some of these look more nervous than others and, as they spread out to search the woods, advises Grimlock on the best pair to intimidate. Grimlock leaps out of the bushes at the chosen targets, knocks them onto their backs, stares at them with silent, furious rage and treats them to a long look into his open mouth (a fetid, toothy, dribbling maw that is at least as frightening as its owner’s bellowing roar). They are shocked into petrified silence, leaving Wistark and Grimlock free to escape past them into the city without a word of objection. They lie terrified on the ground for minutes afterward – shaking, sweating and soiling themselves.



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