Episode 49: a Pact of Piggies
Despite the protestations of the gnome Panaver Knacklebun, Bartok Brescht seemed reluctant to take the party into custody, and while irritated at their continued disregard for his warnings about their conduct, it was plain the guard captain-general disliked the snivelling gnome even more. With a wry smile, he pointed out that as the oldest living member of House Pashtum by centuries, Magnus probably owned the whole bank anyway, and as Panaver had repeatedly pointed out the Bank was sovereign territory, meaning he had no cause to interfere with internal House Pashtum matters. Ara, in a clear, articulate and slightly menacing voice warned all present that it would be a grave mistake to impede the Fist of the North Wind in his solemn duty.
Magnus agreed, told the gnome he was fired, and began to stride out of the bank vault antechamber. Knacklebun protested loudly, but with a look from Bartok the guards decided to ignore him and escort Magnus and the rest of the party out of the bank.
As they left, the gnome vowed retribution, that House Pashtum would not stand for such a grave insult. Magnus pointed out that if the bank hadn’t been robbed in 500 years, what would it do to its reputation for the party’s raid to become public knowledge? To this Knacklebun had no answer, and the party exited with Bartok Brescht, the Dragonhead coin safely in Yuna’s possession.
In the cavern outside Pashtum Bank’s main entrance, Bartok Brescht told the party that the guard had been received a tip that Danta Kosht’s crew was engaging in criminal activity at the same spot where the party was to have met them on the 6th Tier, and the crew was rounded up, apparently sparing the party a deadly encounter with angry mobsters. He again admonished the party to try and abide by the city’s laws, wished them luck on their quest, and left.
The party exited to the main square of Uman’s 2nd Tier, exhausted, bloodied, and covered in liquifacted beholder, debating where to go to spend the night. Someone suggested the Lovers’ Lament, where they had stayed previously, but the inn was in the Temple District Westfalls on 6th, several hours’ walk from the 2nd tier. Magnus and Keen knew of a few private lifts scattered throughout the city, reserved for nobility to quickly move between tiers, but that they would be under guard and their use not permitted.
As the discussion ensued, Sirlius remarked that Keen’s hair was a beautiful rainbow hue of color, a view no one else seemed to share.
Faced with a long walk down thousands of stairs Keen again said “we can take the lift,” meaning to sneak or bribe their way on, whereupon the party found themselves standing on such a lift approaching the 6th TIer. The guard running the lift brought it to a halt, opened the gate and wished the party a pleasant evening. Confused, they asked the guard if he remembered how they got onto the lift, which confused the guard. He eyed them with suspicion momentarily before reversing the lift upwards into a large square shaft cut into the rock face of the mountain.
Yuna noticed that Keen’s pupils had taken on a different shape; no longer round, they were a complex, three-body shape that bore a striking resemblance to the eyes of Whibraxis, the young dragon now ruling the town of Whitebridge, when he was in a humanoid form. Sirlius recalled an old phrase, “and you shall know them in their eyes,” referring to dragons that walk among the humanoid races.
The party exited onto a well-kept thoroughfare on the 6th, just east of the Grand Stair, and travelled west to the temple district, arriving at the Lovers’ Lament. Belia, the proprietress, seemed unenthused to receive the troublesome party, but took Keen’s money for a room. Sirlius told Belia Keen was paying for everyone, and one by one each adventurer bathed and retired to a room for rest. Yuna gave Keen the Ring of Bliss, which he once agreed to wear so that his dreams would not manifest in reality.
As he drifted off to sleep, Sirlius had a vision: he stood in a cold, inky blackness, the sound of his breath echoing in the dark. A bard plucking a lute next to a softly burning hearth appeared. As the bard continued to play, the familiar, menacing voice of his patron, Drahnus, announced that their pact was at an end: Sirlius had completed the task of retrieving the Dragonhead, and was now of no further use to the infernal god. Sirlius, hurt by these remarks, scolded Drahnus for being callous and shortsighted. Drahnus deflected, saying “I have other pacts, you know,” to which Sirlius responded “But what we have is special.” Sirlius cajoled, baited and shamed Drahnus, and despite being utterly unconvincing so exasperated his patron that Drahnus agreed to permit him to keep his dark powers just so that he’d go away. The vision faded, and Sirlius smiled in his sleep.
When he awoke, he was surprised to find that his room was littered with dozens of small stuffed pigs. Each unique in brightly died leather and design, but every one exceedingly cute. Sirlius stuffed a dozen of them into his pack just as Yuna entered with Stella, who immediately pounced on the pigs, throwing them in the air, shaking and gnawing on them, and enjoying the pleasant squeaking noise they made.
The party had breakfast, Sirlius playing with piggies that resembled each of his companions. Keen argued about having to pay the bill. Ara, once again in a refined and elegant voice, indicated that since Keen had repeatedly stolen coin from the party it was his responsibility to pay for expenses. As the talked, Yuna noted that Keen’s eyes had returned to normal.
A messenger arrived from Bartok Brescht with a note for Yuna. In it he asked for the party’s help dealing with the madwomen at Drahni’s Temple on the 7th. The party considered this, as well as using the newly-recovered Dragonhead to pursue the next shard of the Heart of Bahamut. In the end they decided on the latter, and sent the messenger with a reply that they would look into Bartok’s request soon.
As they were making ready to leave, a half-elf bard approached the Lovers’ Lament. He approached the party, naming each of them, and asked Keen to step aside for some privacy. He did so, but the entire party followed. The bard announced he was here to collect on a bounty on Keen on behalf of Madame Elethi. He attacked, but Keen dodged, ran out of the room and closed the door behind him, leaving the party to deal with his attacker. Magnus swiftly cut down the hapless bard, with Ara dealing the killing blow. In fact, Ara’s first blow killed the man, but he continued to pummel him into the floor with his bare hands, brains and viscera getting everywhere. He announced with elocution that such was the fate of any who would cross the Fist of the North Wind.
Belia, exasperated and disgusted demanded the party leave. They did so, and followed the direction of the Dragonhead compass to outskirts of the 7th Tier, a slum known as the Mudslide that abutted the outer wall of the tier and extended long past Longdrop Falls and the mouth of the Throm River. Eventually they encountered a ragged, filthy barker standing on an overturned box yelling about the Mistress of the Temple, and admonishing the indifferent crowds to seek purpose and meaning in her service. Realizing that Bartok’s “madwoman on the 7th” might be related somehow to their search for the Heart of Bahamut, the party followed his directions partway around a small hill, where they encountered a woman sitting next to a shabby wooden sculpture of a man, arms outstretched in welcoming embrace, standing before a hearth; this evidently was meant to symbolize Drahni, God of the Hearth.
As they approached she stood: a tall, thin woman with long straight silver hair and glowing skin. As they watched her eyes became golden pools of radiant light, angel’s wings burst from her back, and she rose into the air, arms outstretched, and in a voice like the sunrise, awesome, distant and beautiful she addressed them, saying “Welcome, travellers. And welcome to you, Yuna, my daughter.”
Party Members Now With Major Psychological Issues: 5/5
Plot Convergence Status: Ongoing
Infernal Pact Level: Just Friends
My Little Piggie Rating: Adorable
RP Rating: Awesome!