The Whisperer in Darkness
Ever vigilant, Norman suddenly notices that a street urchin is following Wistark. He alerts the wizard, and Shizbitts demands an explanation of the boy. The kid runs for it. Wistark attempts to slap the boy off-balance with the mage hand, but in the packed marketplace the spell slaps two passing shoppers instead. As the angry citizens closed in on the slapper, he yells “Stop that boy!” at a pair of guards who do not hesitate to give chase.
The boy slides beneath a market stall, runs past some browsers and tries to hide in a crowd. Though the guards make a slow start, their running speed is the greater and they are able to pick him out amongst the dense mass of people. The chase is renewed, with the fatter guard falling behind the other. The leaner guard swats the fleeing urchin with the side of his pike, and in desperation the boy climbs onto a rooftop in a last bid to escape. He attempts to leap to another building, something the armoured guard cannot achieve. Unfortunately for the scruffy lad, he messes it up falls into the waiting arms of the fat guard.
Wistark thanks the two men for their help and rewards them with some booze money. After an interrogation (from Shizbitts) and intimidation (from Skullfucker) the urchin reveals that he was paid by some men to follow the wizard and report back when he found an inn for the night. The boy is still reluctant to share information and derisively claims that the location he was to make his report is an inn called the-wizard-who-stinks-of-shit. After being punched in the stomach by Grimlock he revises its name to The Weathered Mage. When Wistark learns that the boy has been paid one pess in advance and promised one more for finishing the task, he offers the ragged urchin two pess to take him to this inn.
The boy leads the way into the slums and faithfully takes them to the place he had mentioned. He reveals that his employers are of the Dukes and Reds mercenary group, and that he knows where their room is. The Weathered Mage is dank and dilapidated but, after handing the boy his promised reward, Wistark decides to proceed inside with Norman. He asks the boy to take Grimlock around to the back of the mercenaries room so that they can enter from two sides. The party splits and, suspecting that the boy might have a lingering loyalty to his initial contract, Wistark obtains the location of two adjacent rooms paid for by “Duke” from the Weathered Mage ledger.
As they make their way upstairs to these rooms, Grimlock climbs up the side of the building in a surprisingly stealthy manner. He is on his way to a window pointed out by the urchin, and is soon close enough to have a quick peek inside. In the room within a man sits alone on a small bed, his gaze fortunately resting away from the window. In the corridor outside this room, Wistark and Norman walk as quietly as they can, listening out for any interesting noises from the rooms nearby. The only thing they hear is a loud couple, mid-coitus.
Grimlock, meanwhile, is considerably more pro-active. Leaping through the window, he pulls out his axe and deflects a thrown dagger. The man screams for help but Grimlock cuts him off, demanding that he disarm himself and get on his knees. The man is completely terrified of the huge, skull-covered dragonborn, and follows these intructions as fast as his shaking hands will allow. Grimlock is starting to enjoy himself. He orders the petrified traveller to pull down his trousers. In the corridor outside, Wistark and Norman have run noisily into cover after hearing the scream. They soon realise that the noise did not come from the correct room.
Skullfucker is about to scare the innocent even further when the door opens. It is Wistark. He has decided to stop anything awful from happening, and immediately explains to Grimlock that he’s been tricked. The great reptile is outraged, and goes back to the window to see if the urchin is still there. Surprisingly, he is. The boy has taken advantage of his time alone, however, and the Dukes and Reds are now informed of their inept ambushers. The boy is just finishing this conversation when an 8’9 monster brandishing a greataxe suddenly leaps out of an inn window and crushes him to the floor, leaving Wistark and Norman in the inn to fend for themselves.
The mercenaries are not pleased when Skullfucker lifts the young boy into the air by his rags and starts repeatedly shouting “Why did you betray me?!”, so they point two crossbows at him from their window. Grimlock holds the boy in front of him as a shield and, seeing this, Wistark leans out of the petrified tourist’s window and burns the crossbows to cinders with spellfire. He also shouts to Norman in the corridor, telling him to go break down the mercenaries door. The obedient dwarven knight obeys this command instantly and smashes the weak door to matchsticks. As five men inside train their weapons on him he arms himself with his halberd and stands his ground fearlessly. Wistark appears behind him and shouts, “We don’t want to fight!”
This is quite contrary to their actions, so the mercenaries are understandably skeptical. Upon seeing Wistark, one bearded man steps forward. His clothes are of different make to the others and bears different markings. He is angry and has the look of a warrior. Someone not to trifle with. He accuses Wistark of killing his brother. The wizard asks for the man’s name, but he refuses to share it and instead accuses Shizbitts of bringing death to the village of Raylack. No-one is backing down. Hoping to pry some information from the stranger, Wistark declares that he is responsible only for the deaths of members of Cain Dunwithy’s mob. The man laughs harshly and replies, “Berek Moor was no follower of Cain”. The stalemate continues. This is not someone Wistark can recall ever meeting.
Suddenly something crashes through the room’s window. The street urchin. Grimlock had apparently had his fill of shouting “Betrayer!” while squashing him against the wall of the inn. The unconscious lad bleeds quietly onto the floor, and all present watch in stunned silence as Grimlock’s face appears at the window. The stillness continues as he hauls himself inside, his gargantuan frame blocking out most of the room’s light. Oddly, this is a turning point in the negotiations.
Wistark is the first to break the quiet. He suggests that the mercenary spokesman should accompany him downstairs, where they’d discuss the events in Raylack together in the bar. Though disgusted by Grimlock’s actions, the warrior is willing to co-operate. He agrees to this truce, adding that they must be unarmed and accompanied by a man of their choice. As Wistark, Norman, the spokesman and one mercenary go downstairs, Grimlock remains in the room with the weapons and the Dukes and Reds. In typical dauntless fashion, the dragonborn is not particularly uneased by this arrangement.
The four men return an hour later. The spokesman has finally offered his name, Ignatious Moor, and after hearing the tale has insisted on accompanying the group throughout their visit to Gerelden. Though he is no longer planning to murder the wizard he is still very uneasy, and does not want him to walk freely in the city without supervision. Ignatious leaves the Weathered Mage in the company of the party. The battered street urchin is left in the company of the Dukes and Reds.