It is late in the hot Carcosan afternoon when the merchant train arrives in the mining town of Jaftgong. A few of the local population of greens raise their eyebrows at the number of brown guards in the caravan, but the citizenry is growing inured to such sights; the price of being a prosperous city.
As the merchants and their teamsters begin to unload the carts and wagons, a few of the guards naturally gravitate together. The merchant notes the gathering and wanders over.
"I kanna' pay ya' off," he begins apologetically. "Profits at our last stop were nah' as much as we'd hoped. Here is 100 gold fer each a' ya, and me marker fo' tha rest. I'm expectin' to make up fo' lost time here in Jaftgong, ye kin collect the rest of ye pay then. Ye may wanna check in wi' me in a few weeks fo' tha trip back south."
A few you have bonded over the trip and remain together as the rest of the hired muscle disbands. You gather your equipment and discuss what to do next. One of your band, (a green NPC named) Berist, has been here before.
Last Edit: Sept 6, 2009 10:38:56 GMT -6 by Deleted
"Begging your pardon, sir, but the best place for a hot bath would be one of the temporary barracks in the tent city." Berist looks and sounds mournful, and even when he's smiling he looks a bit sad. You've never been able to figure out if he is a product of a tragic past or if that is merely his natural facial expression.
Berist points out the difficult-to-miss tent city south of town. "I can guide you to the place I stayed last time," he continues. "The owner, Tobbler, seemed an honest sort. He charges a silver for a bunk, another silver for a sturdy locking chest to stow your gear. He charges 1 copper for a bath, 2 coppers for a bath with clean water, and a silver piece if you want it hot.
"The place most mercs hangout is called 'The Lusty Virgin' and you can probably find a game of skill and chance going on there. There are two other places to get a pint of ale; the 'Silver Pick' is a favorite for the ruby miners but it's the worst dive in town (spit) if'n you ask me, sir. The other place, the Guild House, I don't know too much about. I don't think I'm hoity-toity enough for them, if'n you know what I mean."
Last Edit: Sept 6, 2009 12:33:39 GMT -6 by Deleted
The party arrives at The Silver Pick, some smelling a bit fresher than others, and enters the building. A few of the miners stare for a moment but most seem content to ignore the newcomers. Most of the clientele seem to be greens but there are enough other colors here that you don't feel uncomfortable.
A rather no-nonsense green fellow is leaning against the wall, not-too-casually watching the crowd. He isn't drinking, and his bearing suggests he knows how to use the sword hanging from his belt. He notes your arrival and nods a greeting, then continues scanning the crowd.
The bartender waves you over. In spite of Berist's assessment of this establishment, the aroma of cooking food seems rather enticing.
The small town has been experiencing some rapid growth, due to the discovery of rubies in the mountains. Located in hex 0909, at the southern foot of the mountain range, Jaftgong is home to some 300-400 greens, and another 200 or so transients; mostly miners and merchants.
You've heard the town is lawful and its leader (Siprapis, the Peerless Fountain of Radiance) is a no-nonsense type but your impression of the tent city and The Silver Pick tells you that perhaps things are more relaxed (read: wilder) than you've been led to believe.
E'ssej has his electro-mace tucked away as well as he can, but it's still obvious under his armor. He follows Gozer to the bar and orders a cheap drink and something hot to eat, flashes his marker in the air and toasts: "May we live long enough to collect on these markers!"
Berist turns his big, sad eyes to Gimyip. "What ever do you mean, sir? The ladies think I'm the life of the party." His deadpan expression is at odds with the audacity of the statement, and it's difficult to say whether he's pulling your leg or self-deluded.
Off to the side, you hear a group of miners talking about a rather odd purple woman seen about town recently. When asked by one of his buddies what is so strange about her, the fellow replies, "Are you kidding, she's got ..." The rest of what he has to say is drowned out by the bartender bringing you another round of drinks.
"Get yourself around that lot, my boys!" He says, "Say, are you fellows looking for work in the mines? I hear the guild is hiring guards to watch the conscripts. Not these," he indicates the room at large, "these guys are free-miners. I'm talking about the slaves."
People come and go, conversations ebb and flow. Most of the conversation you overhear is about mines and mining; the free-miners are all hoping to make it rich and retire to a life of luxury (a recurring rumor is the tale of "friend of a friend" who recently found a ruby the size of a fist in the mines and smuggled it out). At some point in the evening the green warrior type who nodded at you when you entered left, to be replaced by an different but equally no-nonsense type fighter. Like the first, he doesn't drink. He merely scan the crowd with an attentive eye. A few of the miners greet him as if they know him but none engage him in conversation.
E'ssej ears perk up at the mention of the purple woman, as "She must be something to draw this lots attention away from their pipe dreams." Since the miner's seem fairly talkative, he asks around about the purple woman.
E'ssej asks around about the purple woman. You can't find the fellow who was talking about her, and most of the other miners don't seem to know who you're talking about. In fact, they don't seem real anxious to speak with you at all.
Discouraged, you've almost given up when the green warrior-type leaning against the wall near the door calls out, "Hey! You're looking for a purple woman?" Obviously, he overheard you talking to the miners.
The man introduces himself as Mactosa, a sergeant of the town guard. "She's trouble, that's who she is. If you're smart you'll stay away from her. She used to be captain of a mercenary troop, around 100 or so men-at-arms. She got them all killed in a battle a few years back, only she survived. Luck she says, cowardice says I."
"She's been hanging around town, looking for adventurers who know how to handle a sword. She seems pretty choosy about who she hires, but you look like you've been in a scrape or two.
"As I said, I'd recommend you stay away from her, but if you want to talk to her yourself, she's over at the Lusty Virgin. You'll know when you see her." (chuckle)
The Lusty Virgin is even seedier than The Silver Pick. The clientele is loud and boisterous, but they recognize you as one of their own and nobody gives you a second look. The bartender pours you each a drink and, when asked about "that purple woman" he waves a beefy arm over toward the southeast corner of the room. Through the crowd you see a robed woman sitting at a table talking with a couple of rough-looking men. A shapely purple leg in a high leather boot sticks out from under the robe ... it looks as if you've found the woman you're looking for.
The woman turns her head to get a good look at you. You get a quick impression of her dark, black eyes and long black hair and deeply purple skin ...
... then your mind corrects eyes to eye. In place of her left eye is a red, glowing cybernetic implant. She is a study in opposites, her low cut blouse revealing an inviting expanse of bosom; contrasted by a metallic left shoulder and arm that looks capable of easily crushing the bones of your hand.
"I'm Bothess," she answers in a voice of honey. "And I believe that brown is my new favorite color." She uses her cybernetic left arm to indicate an empty seat at the table, and you notice the gleaming aperture of an energy weapon on the back of her robot hand. She looks at the men with whom she was speaking when you approached. "Get lost," she says softly and the men and women seated there leap to their feet in great haste and hurry away, one of them looking over his shoulder as he scampers away.
Bothess indicates the rest of the now empty chairs, nodding to the rest of the party. As you take your seats you notice her regarding your companion, Berist, with an amused look. "Welcome back to Jaftgong, Berist," she purrs. You note he refuses to look her in the eye.
"I'm looking for a good man ... or woman. Actually, more than one. If you're interested, or even if you're just thirsty, why don't you have a seat and I'll tell you my story. Drinks are on me."
"It takes fire to fight fire," she begins. "My master, Obregon, understood this well. Though he served Law he took it upon himself to study the ways of sorcery. He did this to better combat the forces of Chaos that threaten to overwhelm humanity of every color. Even (shudder) the bone men.
"Obregon studied and mastered the dark arts, but his inner strength was such he resisted the seductive power the elder beings offered. Together, my steel and his magic, we drove back the forces of evil on many fronts. People of all colors live and breath today because of us. Then, it all changed. Then, my master took an apprentice, an orange man by the name of Darsiaas.
"Like Obregon, he sought to learn the black arts in order to combat evil. Unlike my master, he lacked the strength of being to resist the dark side. He grew powerful, and evil; and then he betrayed us. He sought to unleash a horror upon the the world, a Shambler of the Endless Night.
"Summoned by my master, my troops and I accompanied him to Prigruin Tor to confront Darsiaas and his evil minions, and stop his foul ritual. We fought a fierce battle and won a Pyrrhic victory: we stopped the ritual but Darsiaas' troops overcame my soldiers. My personal guard sacrificed their lives so that I would live to fight another day. The Shambler, partially summoned into this reality, slew my master and dragged his body into the nether planes. I was denied even the consolation of burying his remains and granting his soul its final rest.
"That was three years ago. A week ago, Obregon's spirit began to visit me in the night. He demands justice—and revenge. I must kill Darsiaas, and I must recover an artifact known as Harbinger's Lotus and use it in a ritual to allow his soul to complete its journey to the afterlife. Only then may my Master know peace.
"Help me. I can see you are more than front line cannon fodder, you are warriors through and through. Help me grant rest to my master and avenge his death. Your reward is wealth beyond imagining. I'll do anything to convince you to help me." A slight spreading of her legs accompanies these last words as her voice grows huskier. "Anything at all ... "
You note the absence of underpants. The rumors are true. There is no place they aren't a least little bit purple ...
"I can pay 500 gold apiece, but I need your earnest pledge to assist me in my quest." She replies. "I'll not blanket the truth, the road ahead is not for the faint of heart. Journey's end, however, is wealth and renown. Are you up to the challenge?"