Chapter 1: Entering Khazan, part 2   Leave a comment

The southern gate into Khazan looks something like this except that it’s wider, longer, and there are no modern windows in the walls looking out of the city.

Turn 1:  Wulf

Wulf was first in line when the altercation with the Dwarf happened.  He thought for a moment that the Dwarf couldn’t understand Common–he spoke it badly enough with a Dwarven burr in his voice that made some of the consonants wound like dees.  “Can I help;?” he called out to the guard in Urukish. “Maybe he doesn’t understand.”

“Stay out of this!” yelled the guard.

When the Dwarf had been dealt with and taken away, the guard beckoned for Wulf to come forward.  He went through his litany of questions.  “Who are you?  Why have you come to Khazan? Where do you intend to stay?”

I am Wulf  Wayfarer, a soldier of fotune. My last unit was dissolved when the barons who were fighting ran out of money. I come to Khazan to see the great city, and seek work. I will stay in an inn somewhere. I am not looking for trouble or planning mischief. And having seen the guards at work here I want no trouble with them!”

The uruk guard smiled, exposing a yellow set of tusks.  “You look like a good fighter.  You have a good attitude.  If you want work, go to the Gate Watch station on Wolf Street just inside and talk to the Captain.  Tell her that Jorukk sent you.”

(L1SR on LK to see how the direwolf reacts to Wulf. Rolled 1, 1 then 6, 2.  Made it.  Friendly reaction.)

Across the road the dire wolf caught a whiff of Wulf and perked up its ears.  It started to wag its tail.  It pulled strongly on the chain the keeper held, dragging the uruk across the roadway before the surprised guard could react.

“Look out!” said Joruk.

A woman in line behind Wulf shrank back a couple of steps.  Others in line behind her began to reach for their weapons.

“It’s ok!” yelled Wulf in common.  “He’s friendly. ”  Wulf squatted down to bring his head more in line with the direwolf’s head, and just slightly lower.  He angled his chin up to expose the throat,  He let his hands dangle at his side.  The animal came up, sniffed Wulf closely a couple of times.  It licked his face while wagging its tail.  Wulf sniffed back.  He would remember this young buck’s scent for a while, in case he met him again.  He slowly reached up and and scratched the wolf’s head between the ears.  The wolf gave him a doggy grin.

The wolfkeeper gave an impatient jerk on the chain to the wolf’s collar.  “Back off!” he growled in Urukish.  “That’s my wolf!  Come on, Fang!”  He dragged his animal back to his own side of the road.  The wolf only resisted for a moment, but it was well trained and quickly returned to its post.  Something caught its eye and it began to growl and advance on the next wagon in line.  Suddenly three cats sprang out of the wagon and scampered for the trees north of the road.  The wolf started after them until the keeper dug in his heels and barked, “Fang!  Heel!”

Wulf stood erect and started to go through the gate,  “That was amazing,” said Joruk the guard.  “Weren’t you afraid?”

“It was nothing,” said Wulf.  “I know how to handle dogs and wolves.  My clan kept them for pets, and I grew up with them.”  He turned and walked into the city.  He quickly passed through the gate–a tunnel of stone about 20 feet long at this point.  He noted that the portcullis was up on the inside, and that there was a wide Break–a cleared area before streets and building began inside.  The main road led straight into the city.  A smaller road about half its width went off at an angle to the northeast.  About a hundred paces down that road stood a tall stone building with a sign hanging over the open doorway–the wooden sign showed a painted depiction of two crossed halbards–a common symbol for the Watch in many cities.

* * * * * * * * * *

Turn 1:  Weslyn Janoum

Once the big barbarian headed into the city, the guard beckoned Weslyn forward.  He asked the same three questions.  Who?  Why?  Where?

She answered as truthfully as she could.  “I am Weslyn Janoum.  I was bringing a wagon of wine to the city to sell, something I have done several times before, but it was stolen from me 3 days ago.  I believe the thief brought my goods to Khazan, and I am trying to track him down.  Did you see a wagon full of 12 barrels of wine enter here?”

“No wine wagon entered this morning.  You are among the first to arrive.  The wagons being inspected are mostly from nearby farms to the south and east, but we have to check everything now.  There may be a record of your cargo entering the city, but it wouldn’t be here at the gate.  It will be in the Watch house on Wolf Street.” He snorted a brief Uruk chuckle. “Heh, I’m sending the Captain a lot of business this morning.  If you find the thief, I advise you not to tackle him alone, but to bring the Watch in on it.”

Distracted by her story, the guard forgot to follow up on the where would she stay question, and Weslyn didn’t remind him.  When he waved her through, she strode briskly through the tunnel and into Khazan.  Inside she saw the main road leading off into the heart of the city, a smaller road  leading off at an angle to the right, and on that road a large stone building with a sign hanging over the doorway bearing crossed halbards painted on the board.  Another lane angled off to the left, and the wide Break between the city walls and the buildings gave easy access to the city’s inner perimeter.

A crowd was already beginning to form on the streets.  A pedlar dressed in faded brown clothing and carrying a burlap sack brandished an apple in front of her.  “Be ye hungry, me gal?” he asked.  “Foine apples for ye mornin snack–on ly 1 copper piece.”  The old man gave her a snaggle-toothed grin while thrusting the apple at her.

Weslyn sidestepped the old pedlar and approached a gate guard, a big human who was watching her.  “Why all the extra security on the gate?  It wasn’t like this the last time I came through it.”

The guard smiled at her, showing a broken front tooth.  “I dunno,” he mumbled.  “Orders.  Ya know the brass never explains nuthin to us grunts.  Just do this, do that.  My guess is that it’s the unusual number of murders and robberies the city is having.  There are rumors of enemies and revolt.  Some say the Bear Cult is gaining popularity and trying to cause trouble.  I dunno. I just do what they tell me.  Say, you’re kinda cute, and new in town.  Ya wanna get  a drink with me when I go off shift around noon?”

“The Bear cult?  I don’t think I’ve heard about them before.  What should I look out for? Tell you what, I’ve got business in the guard station, and the Merchant’s Square, but then I can meet you someplace for a bit, I could honestly use a friend.  Where do you have in mind?”

The sargent spoke up.  “Bronnk, get back to guard duty.  Move along, lady!

Bronnk winked.  “You can find me this afternoon at the Grinning Goblin inn not far from the west exit of the Great Market.  Do you know the place?”
Waslyn smiled.  “I can find it.  Now  I  have to go see the Captain.”  She turned  away  and headed up Wolf Street toward the Watch station.
Turn 1:  Algris Srog
A male human wizard stood in line behind Weslyn.  The guard asked him  the same three questions:  Who, Why, Where?
Algris advanced on the gate guard.  He had noticed something magical about the woman in front of him while waiting in line, but could not tell what it was.  He was preopared to tell the guard more than the poor uruk wanted to know.  “I am the great Algris Srog–remember that name.  I am there to collect the remains of my brother–or at least his heart. My sister-in-law wants it for her mantle. I don’t ask questions and she’s not the kind of witch you want to say no to.”
“Was he a wizard, too?” asked Joruk, an alarm bell going off in his urukish mind?  “If he was, I think you’d better go talk to the Captain in the Watch house on Wolf Street.  And you had better be extra careful.  A lot of wizards have been getting killed in Khazan lately.  Where do you plan to stay?”
The unexpected news spoiled Alris’s planned remark about his sister-in-law.  ” Whoo-boy!  Not staying long, and I’m sure regardless of whether or not a particular body shop has my brother, I can’t imagine they’d be too proud to take a few silver for a night’s lodging.”
“You’ll be lucky to find a bed for less than 5 gold per night,” said the guard.  “We would  appreciate  it  if you’d stop by a watch station and let  us know where you can be found.  Move along.”
A few moments later the wizard had passed through the gate tunnel and emerged in the Break between walls and city proper.  He saw the woman ahead of him talking to one of the inner gate guards and overheard something about Bear Cultists.”   He moved to one side, neatly avoiding an apple pedlar who tried to shove some fruit at him.  (Where do you want to go next?)
Turn 1:  Perry Stroika
Behind the wizard stood a half-elf named Perry Stroika.  He tripped up to the guard prepared to rattle off name, reason, and destination, but was met with unexpected hostility.
“We don’t need any more of your kind here in Khazan, elf!”  snarled Joruk. “Why don’t you turn around and go back to the forests you love so much before I sic the  direwolf on you?”
Perry made a slight bow of respect and said,  “Honored Guardian, I am seeking my father.  I know he is a man of Khazan.” He gently shook  the  pocket in his breeches that contained his silver.   He tried his most winning smile.  “I would  gladly pay for the advice of a knowing person once that person was off duty later on…” He removed  his cap to show that he had not inherited his ears from his mother.  (Make a L1SR on charisma to see if the elf-hating uruk is mollified. Roll 4, 1.  Fails.)  Joruk swung his open hand around and backhanded the half elf,  knocking him to the ground.  Shouts of alarm and dismay rose from other people in line,  and  Joruk’s companion dropped his weapon and grabbed him.
“Joruk, Joruk, you can’t act that way,” shouted the other guard.  “This man has done nothing to deserve such treatment.”
“He’s an elf!” growled Joruk.  “Elves killed my father!” He aimed a kick at Perry, but the nimble half-elf rolled out of the way.
“Get inside the city, kid!  Quick!”  shouted the guard restraining Joruk.
Perry scrambled on all fours into the tunnel.  He had lost his cap, and he had a bruise on one side of his face that would turn purple later, but he wasn’t badly hurt.  Getting to his feet, he burst into a run, and came out of the gate at a good clip, moving so quickly  that he couldn’t help running into the old apple pedlar.  The old man went down and immediately began screaming. “Help!  Guards!  Murder!  My apples!”
Turn 1:  Lumlas
Lumlas waited her turn and then started  her charm offensive; all smiles and feminine flicks of her luxuriant long hair. She gave her name and told Joruk that she has come to see the great city of the Death Goddess and find adventure. Perhaps she will get to see the great lady herself at the Arena. Maybe she will attempt to entertain her by volunteering to fight for the wealth and glory to be had.She hasn’t organised anywhere to stay but perhaps (flutters eyelashes) the guard may be able to suggest somewhere salubrious she could spend the night.
Joruk looked at the flirtatious human in front of him.  She looked like trouble to him.  “You want a place to stay?” he growled.  “You might do well at Madame Min’s Cat House.  A lady of your, er, charms could certainly earn her place to sleep there.  Heh, if they ever let you get any sleep.  Move along, lady!”
Lumlas walked through the gate tunnel and found herself inside the city at last,  She  saw the other woman finish her conversation with an inner gate guard, and it occurred to her that perhaps she could befriend that person.  Two women working together in this city would have a better chance than one woman by herself.  But if she wanted to catch her, she’d have to move fast, as Weslyn was striding up Wolf Street with a brisk and determined pace.

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