||[Jun. 26th, 2007|10:15 pm]
Enemy of my Enemy
((OOC: Yep. It's back, after what... four months? Blegh. On with the show!))|
The party wasted no time in leaving behind what was left of the kitfolk village and hurrying away from the area with the Ghostfang scouts in tow. Eventually, they put enough distance between the ruined town and themselves to outrun the chill that lingered in the area. They set up camp as best they could beside the road in the lingering darkness, hoping to get at least a few hours' rest before dawn. Less than an hour had passed, however, when two mounted figures came trotting up the road. One seemed to be roughly human-sized; its mate was perhaps half its size, and rode a creature closer to a dog's size than a horse's.
As the riders drew near, Garen, the leader of the Ghostfang, called out to them. "Take it slowly, travellers, and let's have a look at you. We've had one hell of a night, and we're taking no chances with strangers 'till daybreak." A feral snarl issued from under the hood of the smaller rider, but it ceased its noise when its fellow rider spoke.
"Stand down, Garen," the larger rider replied. "You know me, and I'll vouch for Lumbie here."
"Bird?" Garen asked.
"The same," she said, drawing back her hood. "Now, what can I do for you?"
((OOC: For those who have forgotten, these two came from our very first session - Bird was the governess of the town of Muffin's Honor who sent the party to Devian in the first place, and Lumbie was the kobold on exhibit in the freakshow as "The Lizard Boy."
Meanwhile, unknown to the PCs, the Royal Coroner to the Imperial Court of Emperor Marcus Argentus was also having an interesting night...))
The High Chancellor was an impossible man, Khelmort thought. Even a dwarf could only tolerate so much stubbornness. What was the point of performing autopsies on all of these dead criminals if the Chancellor would only refuse that the results be forwarded to the watch? Khelmort had learned a great deal about this vigilante killer that the Morning Press had dubbed "the Wolf" - his methods were constant, as was his choice of victim. Every corpse had been a career criminal; each had its throat ripped out, its lungs punctured just above the lowest rib, and the main artery leading from the heart severed. Death would have been by exsanguination and mercifully quick, likely a matter of seconds. A savage modus operandi, to be sure, but Royal Coroner Khelmort also saw a deliberate professionalism in it.
Even the Press knew and said as much, though. As he stomped back from the palace to the morgue, Khelmort felt far more frustration at what the Chancellor forbade him to tell anyone else. Rumors of wolf-men had flown since the first killing, but Khelmort had proof, proof that should have seen all the night watch re-fitted with silvered weapons. The Chancellor, ever unmovable, refused to take any chance of an information leak causing a general panic. Khelmort sighed as he pushed through the heavy oak-and-iron back door of the morgue. It couldn't be helped. Not if he wanted to keep his job, anyway.
It would all be a waste, Khelmort thought, if he got sacked. The bright tile hallway he followed from the door, the examination room it led to, all of it - it'd all go to rot and ruin without him. Nobody, he knew, would be able to carry on his work. He'd made two hundred years of painstaking study to get there, and no one would fill his shoes if he blabbed and got fired. As he stepped into the examination room, he ran a hand along one steel basin, admiring for the thousandth time its workmanship, the flawless reflection of the gasless ceiling lights - his own inventions. Khelmort yawned, stretched, and pulled on a drawer handle beneath the basin, removing one wand from the box within. He walked over to the examination table and gave the corpse on it one long last look.
"Well, mess," he told it, "it's been a long night, so the rest will have to wait 'till morning." He waved the wand over it and, satisfied that the magic would keep the cadaver from decaying, placed the wand back in the drawer and headed for the door. As he stepped outside and locked up, he remarked, "Not that whatever we find tomorrow will ever see the light of day."
"Oh, I don't know about that," a voice growled behind Khelmort. One black-clad arm swept about him, gripping him like a noose, and Khelmort felt the prick of a blade under his chin. "Let's take this somewhere more private, old boy," the growl suggested. "The alley sound good to you?"
"You-" Khelmort began.
"I thought so." The figure behind him dragged Khelmort around the corner in its steely embrace. "Now, master dwarf," it said, "can I trust you not to turn around if I let go of you? I'd bet my bottom copper that a bright one like you knows who I am by now anyway, eh?"
"I suspect you are the Wolf. Bearing that in mind, I'll stay put." Khelmort was too busy trying to commit the voice to memory for his own to betray any fear.
The arm was gone as quickly as it'd grabbed him. "Good man. I hate to hold you at the point of my sword so. We want the same thing, you see - or at least, one thing in common."
The voice laughed a short, curt chuckle. "I admire your pluck, dwarf. What we both want is for the notes in your satchel - aye, THOSE notes, the ones the Chancellor saw - we both want them to find their way to the public."
"If I may be so bold...?" Khelmort asked.
"Why do I, of all people, want them published?"
"My very thoughts." Khelmort stared unblinking into the darkness, waiting the Wolf's reply.
The growl moved closer, until Khelmort could feel hot breath on the nape of his neck and hear it whistling through bared teeth just behind his ear. "I want the filth of this city to know what hunts them."