Episode 27.5: Keen and Ginny
While the rest of the party engages with the Myconid Colony and its war against the Deurgar Zombies in the present day, Keen finds himself reliving his past, specifically the events that culminated in a turning point in his life, when the man he was became…someone else.
On this late summer morning, Keen is awoken by his lover, Ginny Mjornsdottir. The Spectacular Spectacular, the traveling circus and theatre show to which they belong, has been making the circuit of the East Road out of El Astrum towards Zikrin’s Eyes in Eastriver, and has been playing to farmhands and residents of tiny hovels in the area for over a week now, but the Ringmaster, a gnome by the name of Raffa Grinwind, has been uncharacteristically late with the Family’s pay. At the behest of his friend and partner Abel, Keen goes to see Raffa to find out why payment has not been forthcoming.
As he approaches Raffa’s tent across the camp, Keen sees the gnome engaged in a hushed conversation with a rakish, olive-skinned human with a chin-strap beard, goatee and slicked-back hair, a piccolo mandolin slung over one shoulder and tornado-steel rapier at his hip. Their business concluded, the man turns to leave, but pauses to speak briefly with Keen. With his easy smile and quick patter in the unmistakable lisping accent of the Six Isles region in south Telisar, Keen takes an instant dislike to the stranger. But before he can say anything the man mounts a beautiful white gelding and takes his leave.
Keen confronts Raffa in his tent, and learns that the circus has been extorted by an unknown criminal element for over a year, beginning with a series of misfortunate accidents and bad luck that mysteriously disappeared once Raffa started paying for protection. But debts have mounted and Raffa is no longer able to pay. He asks Keen to speak to Ginny, who it is rumoured has some connection with wealthy merchant houses in Uman, to see if she can help.
But Keen is reluctant to involve Ginny; the Family leaves its past behind when it joins the circus, and he cannot bring himself to violate this trust. So he engages Abel in a scheme to head to the nearest Inn in the local farming community, the Cracked Wheel, to fleece the locals out of enough gold to stall for time.
Keen and Abel put on a command performance, and in a single afternoon take the locals for nearly 50 gold pieces; a princely sum for a small community. Keen returns to Raffa to present him with the gold, only to find that in his absence Raffa has spoken to Ginny directly. She has reluctantly agreed to help, but requires Keen’s assistance. Keen agrees and distributes the winnings amongst the Family, and then goes to see Ginny.
Ginny hands Keen a letter, sealed with a merchant house’s official stamp, and tells him to deliver it to the Hierophant’s Decree, a bar in the town of El Qatra a few days’ ride north. She tells him to leave quickly and to go alone; she and her twin sister Janey do not want their Umani nobility to be common knowledge.
As they are speaking Keen hears Levani’s voice somewhere in the distance, telling him to wake up.
Keen delivers the letter as promised, but finds himself betrayed, blackmailed into serving the Skink, a criminal organization run by an albino lizardfolk named Blacktongue. Blacktongue sends Keen back to the Spectacular Spectacular with “Handsome” Henry Smalls, a goliath in his employ, who assumes control of the circus.
Keen awakes suddenly to find himself laying in the lush undergrowth of the Underdark, beneath the 50-foot tall mushroom that is the heart of the Myconid Colony, and surrounded by the corpses of Deurgar zombies. His companions stand close by, as does a docile Djinn, floating in midair, its whirlwind form full of glowing Myconid spores.
Backstory Rating: Heartbreaking
Betrayal Level: Rosencrantz/Guildenstern
Souls Removed From Bodies: 0
Questions Raised: So many!
RP Rating: Awesome!