Children of the Night

Trouble in Tamrivena

Month of Erastus, 4709

A night spent scouting the ghouls’ trail revealed deep, long tunnels that looked to go on for miles underground. Dozens of corpses chewed to bones lay piled around the entrance but that was only perhaps half the villagers taken. Without even a sound of the ghouls or the prisoners they took Halda and Sulayn decided the townsfolk were as good as dead. Back on the ship they explained the futility to Aetherton and Elias. Marching their two hundred into those tunnels would be sending them to their deaths. The ghouls outnumbered them and had the advantage of terrain and lighting. Elias struggled most with this decision, soul crushed at abandoning the hundreds. He looked more haggard and worn than Sulayn had ever seen him.

Exhausted but very concerned about the murder of one of the ap-Blutte Sulayn and Halda conspired to search the rooms of seedy trio Elias had hired to control the barges. As a mouse Halda slipped into their rooms and found some damning evidence but not being a spy by trade made the unfortunate decision to take it with her. When the two confronted Elias with a handful of horror writings and cult like trinkets he was all excuses for them and tried to shame Halda and Sulayn for invading their privacy as if such a notion as a right to personal privacy had already been conceived. Elias promptly returned the stolen goods and came out of the room stinking of cheap liquor. The three sailors eyed the rest of the group from that point on.

Collapsing onto his cot Sulayn managed to get a few hours of shut eye before the barge docked in Tamrivena. They were greeted at the docks and sent on their way towards the city council still in session despite the late hour. They walked past an ugly cheering mob ringed around a demagogue frothing at the mouth and shouting of the evils of various kinds of sinners who didn’t look or dress like him. Sulayn had seen plenty of this before. It seems even the outskirts of Ustalev were full of hate. He wondered if the orcs were any different than these people. He had heard they ruled the neighboring nation. Perhaps they had learned there what these people had not. Sulayn made his excuses and after pointing out an inn he had stayed at on his last visit separated from the group to gather some information.

The bright lanterns at the gates faded quickly as Sulayn left Tamrivena behind and headed towards the crowded tents of Narthus, the Sczarni village sitting in the shadow of the city’s wall. The deepening shadows of dusk seemed to only enrich the varied hues in the camp before him. His elven eyes taking in the tangle of colors and the melodic tinkling of bracelets and chimes. Dark brown eyes lit on him only briefly before turning to the evening’s chores. Moving through the Sczarni he mixed questions with coin and was eventually directed towards a larger tent draped in green and decorated with silver dragonflies. Inside he could hear two men in deep debate.

Sulayn was up until dawn learning about the Sczarni’s situation from a handful of village leaders. Orc raids had been growing more bold, the latest burned down a ranch less than a mile distant. Displaced people of the road had been gathering here swelling the size of the makeshift village but outside the city walls they were no more safe than out under the stars. Never much trusted to begin with it hadn’t been hard for voices within the city to work up the locals, some even suggesting that the orcs would be doing Tamrivena a favor by wiping Narthus away. The others in the tent seemed to defer to one man, Harnin MIrgravos above the rest. He admitted that while the safety of all the Sczarni here had to be his chief concern he had been lost in desperation and rage since his daughter had gone missing six weeks prior. Gabriel, the daughter’s favored explained the rest. Harnin’s daughter Kiaria had been seduced away from the village by a wealthy local named Toladda Johvanki. It seems the man, the same orator the group had witnessed spewing hate near the docks, had a fancy for hiring young girls and in his pleasure taking roughly to them. Both Harnin and Gabriel were beside themselves with worry since Kiara had went off with him and not returned. Gabriel had been caught twice prowling Tamrivena after dark. After taking a finger the city guard banned him from the city at all under threat of hanging. The girl’s father tried to hire Sulayn offering five hundred crowns. He declined the coin but promised he would look into the matter with urgency.

It was nearly dawn when Sulayn scaled the city walls to slip back into the city. It would be smarter to wait until the gates reopened in an hour or so but he was tired and ready for bed. In the predawn light the wall guard spotted him and gave chase only escaping after a lucky quarrel glanced off his shin guard. Given the orc armies less than a day’s march it was probably a good thing the guards were so alert.

After a short nap Sulayn was woken by the Innkeep’s daughter and told his friends had arrived. He met with Halda and Elias and caught them up. Elias seemed to know this Tressa that Gabriel had told him about and was very excited to hear she was in town. For their part it sounded like their audience with Tamrivena’s council had gone pretty much as Sulayn had guessed it would. A lot of posturing yielding very little useful information, the most interesting of which was that there was a prolific murderer in the city who dumped their victims marred bodies on the same cross roads. The three ate a greasy breakfast and set out to gather information trying to prioritize between the various leads that pulled them in different directions. Sulayn abandoned the two at a formal tea party to go make ready for the Navid’s funeral. Aside from the five on duty at the barges the rest of the ap-Blutte, as well as Aetherton, were at the service. It was short and honest, just like Navid.