Thursday, 12 April 2012

Seawell: a murky deal

  Having checked the immediate area is secure, they return to the lighthouse and collect Morgan. He’s been watching their progress from the tower as best he can.

  They spend quite some time discussing how best to lay their ambush. In the end, they decide to lurk in the dunes. It is a long and uncomfortable wait, with sand slowly working its way beneath their clothing and the sharp grasses grating on bare skin. At last, the elves spot distant signs of movement, and they scramble into position. Three figures stride towards them, tough-looking men in a motley array of clothing; some of it most likely stolen from the lost ships or their crew. The group wait patiently for the wreckers to walk into their midst. As they approach, Elefthenea sneezes – but just at that moment the wreckers burst into laughter at some unheard joke, and they miss the warning. Suddenly, Raylin and Lawson spring to their feet, weapons ready but lowered; the others stay hidden, but keep hold of their bows in case of trouble. Raylin throws up a hand and commands the patrol to stop. They’re startled, which gives her just enough time to forestall an attack. Before they can act, she calls out loudly that she’s here to make a deal, she will pay well for information, and she doesn’t particularly want to kill them.

  Despite the armoured bodyguard standing beside her, the well-dressed (if somewhat grubby) priestess doesn’t seem much of a threat to the three burly wreckers. They’re quite amused by her proclamation and pause a moment to listen, grinning.
  “Go on then, lass,” one of them calls, toying lightly with a crossbow.
  Raylin makes a hasty offer. She wants them to tell her the layout of the camp, the number of wreckers and so on; and finally, not to back up the other wreckers if a fight breaks out. They seem a little taken aback, and inclined to scoff, but the leader of the bunch is wily enough to sense that something’s in the offing.
  “Oh, is that all? How much?”
  “How much do you want?”
  “...a hundred crowns and I’ll spill the gaff,” says the leader, glancing briefly at the other two.
  Raylin folds her arms. “How much is your life worth to you? I don’t have a hundred crowns with me.”
  “...fifty crowns, then,” he suggests, begrudgingly.
  After some tense discussion, they haggle it down to a reasonable sum.
  “Why don’t we shake hands on thirty-five?” offers Raylin. Lawson nudges her.
  “Do you really want to stroll into the middle of those fellows to shake hands?”
  “I mean, why don’t we call it thirty-five,” she corrects. They grin gap-toothed smiles, broken with the glint of gold teeth – or something like gold, anyway.

  With some prodding, the wreckers divvy up a bit of information on the camp, the ‘two or three’ sentries they post at night, and the ‘about a dozen’ wreckers. Raylin gets the feeling they’re being at least broadly honest. Their vagueness seems part reluctance to turn coat on their comrades, and partly down to erratic discipline and whimsical leadership.
  “Who’s your leader?” demands Raylin.
  “Erqua,” grunts one of the wreckers.
  “How can I recognise him?”
  “Him?” The man’s lips twitch. “Don’t go saying that to her.”
  “Her, then.”
  “She’s middling high, wiry strong. Good red hair.”
  He shrugs. “More or less...”
  She switches tack, asking the leader about the lizardfolk. He confirms that there has been a skirmish over felling trees in the forest, but he wasn’t there, and nods to one of his men to take up the tale. He says that a dozen or so of the lizardfolk attacked them while they were dragging trees back to the camp.
  “Whose were the graves we saw down by the woods? Theirs or yours?”
  “Ah, those were ours... but don’t worry,” with a grin. “They come off worse.”
  Seeing as the pirates lost at least three men, that doesn’t bode well for the lizardfolk.

  After a couple of minutes, the wreckers notice the others lurking nearby. They clam up and look belligerent again, standing back to back and raising their bows. It’s hard to say what their original intentions were, whether they took the deal seriously or planned to attack Raylin and Lawson once their curiosity was satisfied – now they clearly want to get away from an uneven fight. They demand their money and start trying to back out of the circle. Raylin tries to keep them talking, but they say they’ve answered enough questions and want their pay. After a little terse argument, she gives them seventeen crowns – half the original pay – with the promise of the rest once the wreckers are defeated. They grab it and slide off warily, heading inland rather than back towards the camp. What they’ll do now is anyone’s guess.

  The party head back towards the camp, initially planning to make a quick attack while at least three are out on patrol. On the way, they talk it over, and half-a-dozen plans are discussed and abandoned. In the end they decide to wait until most of the gang are asleep and try to quietly take out the watchmen. It may mean that the patrol they just met will slink back to the camp and warn them, in which case things may be tough; however, they don’t think they can expect to win a stand-up fight if there are still seven or eight wreckers in the camp. Elefthenea agrees to keep watch from the undergrowth nearby to get a better feel for the place, while Morgan and Lawson lurk nearby as backup.

  Meanwhile, Raylin and the Professor, escorted by Fhastina, will try to contact the lizardfolk and see if they can provide any information or backup. There’s a chance they might be attacked, if the lizardfolk have become wary of humanoids, but they got on peacefully enough with the lighthouse crew. With any luck they’ll be willing to help out, or at least provide advice.

  “We’re off to see the lizard...” chants the Professor quietly.

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