Threat Level = 1
Heat = 0
Victory Points: Glendal 1, Them 0
Clues I have = 1
Glendal's current hit points; 4 of 6.
Scene 2: Investigation: "Trick an Actor into revealing a Clue. Roll a die; on an odd result you face a Fight whether or not you succeed on the check."
Glendal knew Dassadal's reputation and his methods. The wily Elf suspected that the Vainglorious Coachman was working outside the protection of the Phantom Cabal, for some reason only Dassadal knew. It was not unknown for thieves to distance themselves from the guild on occasion -- certainly Glendal himself preferred it that way -- but it did seem odd for older, less successful thieves to do so.
However, just because the Cabal may not actively sanction a heist did not automatically mean they did not know about it. Glendal decided to talk with someone in more regular contact with the Cabal, who might, with some persuasion, tell him the guild's attitude toward the theft.
Glendal was so energized by his meeting with Essem Meem that he went straight around to where he thought to find his contact. The blood of his fight still stained his shirt.
Glendal slipped quickly through the side streets, hoping to find his target before word got there first. If he could trick the man into giving up the information cheaply, all the better. But if word spread of Glendal's interest in things, it might not be so easy.
The Elf Thief reflected on his past dealings with the man named Aster Doop, the Flatulent Minstrel from the Infernal Festival. He was a wizened little human who had once been famous for his ability to sing any song in rhyme from scratch. Somehow in his minstrel days, he had become a front man for the Phantom Cabal, probably looking for a way to supplement his income as his particular brand of music faded from popularity.
The same remarkable wit that had allowed him to entertain monarchs was still there despite his age: Glendal knew Aster was extremely perceptive with great personal cunning. He was also the perfect front man for the Cabal, as he maintained his air of a retired minstrel; while in reality he was very deceitful, concealing the truth unless sharply pressed. Glendal also knew there had been some event in Aster's past that caused him great shame, because through all of his dealings ran an undercurrent of his looking for redemption. Whatever it was had given the musician a tremor in his hands, a palsy that prevented him from playing his lute ever again.
And he was comfortably wed. Glendal thought that amusing, considering what Dassadal wanted to do.
Reaching the Flatulent Minstrel's abode, the Elf took a deep breath, then knocked and entered without waiting.
Unfortunately, word had already reached the ears of the Phantom Cabal, or at least those of Aster Doop. While the wrinkled old man was casually seated behind a desk, tunelessly strumming on a stringed instrument, six swarthy men in face-covering scarves closed the door behind Glendal and ringed him around with blades drawn.
Glendal bristled but held still until Aster spoke.
"Glendal Lorg, good to see you!" the old man said, sounding like he meant it. He shifted slightly in his chair to more easily pass gas. "Unfortunately, you are too late. These men are not necessarily here at my bidding but here they are and have been told to stop you." He strummed a stridently discordant chord on his lute.
As if this were a cue the men attacked. However, an Elf's reflexes are fast, and Glendal was faster than most. As soon as the door had closed behind him, while the old fool was still speaking, he had been sizing up his opponents. Five were the same old street rabble the Cabal always used: hired thugs lured in with promises of easy coin, and for those who survived, perhaps a "promotion." The sixth, though, was someone different. He carried himself with poise, and his particular style of black hood and the hooked blade he held marked him as an Assassin, no doubt a veteran of the Cabal's various missions.
For an instant, Glendal felt complimented that the Cabal, or Dassadal, or Aster, or whoever had sent them, felt him dangerous enough that it required six men. And then his sword sang from its scabbard and he slew the Assassin with the most basic maneuver of sword-then-knife move ever, and he no longer felt complimented but insulted.
As soon as their leader finished crumpling to the ground, two of the thugs instantly turned tail, flung open the door and ran. The remaining three looked at each other, probably thinking that, hey, that was three less shares of gold they would be forced to split, and attacked. Two missed but one drew blood on Glendal's arm.
Glendal spared a glance for the wound, then met the thug's eyes and slowly shook his head from side to side. With blinding speed, the Elf cut the other two thugs down then, almost casually, flung his knife at the one who had wounded him, thudding it into his chest hilt-deep.
With a deep breath he retrieved his blades, cleaned them on the dead men's clothing, and then pushed the bodies out of the way with the toe of his boot, before moving to sit nonchalantly on the edge of the table in front of Aster Doop, who had stopped strumming his lute and now peered wide-eyed at the point of Glendal's sword, inches from his nose.
"Let's try this again," Glendal said softly. "Hello, Aster, good to see you, too. I know you know things, things that I would like to know. I think you even know what it is I want to know without me having to ask. I hear things on the streets. I think we have both been hearing about the same thing. Now you get to tell me what you know, and hopefully -- for your sake -- it will be what I want to know."
Aster Doop carefully licked his lips. "Let me guess," he quavered. The lute shook, but Glendal knew it was not from fear but his tremors. Despite his apparent fear, the minstrel was still coldly calculating even now. "Let me guess, you want to know about Dassadal's plans? Ahh, I see I am correct. Yes, I know what that Vainglorious Coachman is planning, and where, and some of the how. I will tell you." He looked around, his gaze taking in the slain thugs. "My masters will know I tried, so I have no fear in telling you."
Glendal let the sword tip dip and waited expectantly.
"Dassadal intends to steal the marriage statuette within the next few days. I cannot be more specific," he hurried to add, seeing the look on Glendal's face, "because Dassadal does not know. He is waiting for a certain confluence of events to occur, but it will be soon."
"So he hasn't stolen it yet," Glendal murmured. "Where is the statue now?"
"It is at Fargle Nex and his bride's home. As you know, they are already married and so they live in wedded bliss at Nex's manse. What Dassadal is waiting for, is the stately public ritual that will proclaim their marriage to the world. It's not really official, you know, until that occurs, not in Sorcerer Crest high society anyway." The flatulent minstrel's chair hissed with self-satisfaction.
"How does Dassadal intend to steal it? During the move? That would be a vulnerable time for it, certainly...." Glendal paused. "Violence? Rob the courier? That would fit Dassadal. Or perhaps, if he's going to these extremes at all, he'll be more sly. To pose as the courier?" The sword tip swept up again. "Which will it be, Aster?"
"Alas, that I do not fully know," Doop replied. "I'm not sure Dassadal himself knows. Word...has not reached me. He is, despite his reputation, more subtle than most think. After all, I knew you were coming but I don't know how he plans to carry this out--"
Aster stopped as Glendal's sword tip cut a single string on his lute with a loud plunk. "Yes, I was fast, but apparently Essem Meem was faster. I shall remember that."
Standing up, Glendal sheathed his blade. "One last thing. Why is Dassadal doing this?"
Aster's only response was a shrug of his trembling shoulders.
On his way out the door, Glendal bandaged his bleeding arm.
* * * * *The Investigation scene d10 roll = 7 "Trick an Actor into revealing a Clue. Roll a die; on an odd result you face a Fight whether or not you succeed on the check."
I wanted to find out When, Where, How & Why. I don't want Dassadal to know I'm working this, so who would have the answer?
I asked the Oracle, "Is this Guild-sanctioned?" Unlikely, based on Dassadal's reputation. d20 = 2 = No. Dassadal is solo.
But the guild might know about it. I will go talk to a minor Phantom Cabal functionary, trick him into revealing the answers.
Who is he? I rolled a d6, got an answer that told me to roll on the Underworld listing. So the Quick NPC Creation table rolls resulted in he who became Aster Doop (as named by the Wampus Country Name Generator). Age, Family, Source of Influence, Temper, Motivation & Appearance as detailed above.
The "Trick an Actor into revealing a Clue" Challenge = Target Number = 9. I rolled 2d8 + 1 (CHA) + 2 (Streetwise Information Gatherer) = 11. I succeed on the Check.
The fight d10 = 9 = odd = Fight.
I rolled for the "potential foe" and got "Ruthless Assassin." The fight difficulty ended up equalling 5 Rabble + 1 Veteran (the Assassin). The Assassin was a 2 HD foe, the Rabble were all 1 HD.
Combat Round 1 saw Glendal hitting for 1 HD damage with his main attack, and 1 HD damage with his Fray Die, killing the Assassin. Two Rabble ran, 3 attacked and one scored 1 hp damage.
Combat Round 2 had Glendal killing all three Rabble.
Glendal wins the Scene! +1 Clue, +1 VP. I employed violence against socially-acceptable targets, so no Heat increase. I rolled a 5 versus the total number of Investigation Scenes so far (2), so my foe did not gain a VP.
I then asked the Oracle, Does Aster know...
...When? Very Likely d20 = 16 = Yes.
...Where? Very Likely d20 = 10 = Yes.
...How? Unlikely d20 = 17 = Yes, but....
...Why? Very Unlikely d20 = 4 = No.
The "Yes, but...." = "Sublimely bad or good timing by a sudden event." I took this to mean that Dassadal will strike when a certain opportunity presents itself, something he is arranging.
When? Within the next few days, when a certain confluence of events occur.
Where? I asked the Oracle, "Is the statue at Fargle Nex's house?" I rated this as Likely d20 = 10 = Yes, but.... which ended as, again, "Sublimely bad or good timing by a sudden event." I further asked the Oracle, "Is Nex planning to move the statue?" Likely d20 = 6 = No, but.... which ended as, "A fact the hero thinks they know is actually wrong." I interpreted this to mean that Nex was not planning to move the statue, but his wife is. To confirm this, I asked the Oracle, "Is Nex's wife planning to move the statute?" Very Likely d20 = 19 = Yes.
So to recap: Nex's wife plans to move it from their house to somewhere else. Dassadal plans to steal the marriage statue during the move.
I rolled for a location: Elite, d20 = 19 = "Stately public ritual." Obviously to proclaim her marriage to Nex in public.
How? By stealing it during the move. Violence? Or by posing as the courier? I don't know yet.
Why? Aster Doop does not know why. And neither does Glendal (or me!).
I then healed Glendal for 1 hp, bringing him back to 4 of 6. (I forgot to do this after Scene 1.)
Threat Level = 1
Heat = 0
Victory Points: Glendal 2, Them 0
Clues I have = 2
Glendal's current hit points; 4 of 6.
Thanks for reading. Scene 3 is coming soon-ish!