New Prospects

We rode up to Nailo harbor and were welcomed in by a local guard. He was kind enought to point out possible locations for a Pub. We set off on a pub-crawl across the city, and narrowed our choices down to two locations. There was the Pleasant Voyage Pub, a well-kept estate that had three floors and was complete with living quarters, or there was Tim’s Tavern, which was quite the opposite of hospitable. Upon entering, we were verbally assaulted by the owner’s bratty child. The boy’s capacity for foolishness was placated when Clare grabbed him by the head and slammed him into the wall.

When we had the owner’s attention, we asked him a couple questions about his Pub, and ultimately decided that they ran an inferior joint. Though the Pleasant Voyage was in an inconvenient location and wasn’t getting very good business, we talked to the owner, who was a friendly and portly man, eager to sell us the Pub. He wished to see his children, who were all unaccounted for, save for one who was going to school in Gootham. The man was prepared to hand us the Pub for next to nothing.

Being the soft-hearted fellow that I have become, I decided to sweeten the deal. I wrote a letter to one Tavros Desica, who was a merchant and mob leader in Gootham. He owed me many favors, and I decided to spend one requesting that this man’s son be given a free education. I then sent him on his way, and we began to fix up the newly purchased Black Dragon Pub. I took the owner’s quarters, as well as his study for myself, while Winfrey and Allister took the rooms that his children grew up in. Clare slept on the roof or something.

At the end of the day, our first shipment arrived. The delivery man asked me who the new owners were, and I gave him our names, paid him, and sent him on his way. In celebration, he gave us a complimentary bottle of champagne.

I called the other members of the pub downstairs, and we sat at one of the pub’s tables, enjoying the freedom of a clean slate, and a new business. Then we all resumed our work.

At around eleven, I was mopping the floors, when a mysterious brown envelope was thrust through the door’s mail slot. I looked up in time to see a dark figure dart around the corner of the pub. First, I looked at the seal on the envelope, which was a wax depiction of a manticore. I opened it, and a black ring fell out, bearing a stone with a similar golden symbol. There was also a note, which told us to meet in the alley near the memorial fountain at 4 am.

I called the company together, and we all agreed to come, but first we would get some shuteye. That turned out to be a tactical error.

In my dream, I was surrounded by a group of Humans, whispering indescernably. I could hear the occasional “Hellspawn” and “Asmodeous Scum,” and all manor of other Tiefling racial slurs. Winfrey was there as well, and as I turned for her to support me, she simply ran. Try as I may, I could not catch up. The crowd enclosed me, and I fell to my knees. I awoke in a cold sweat, only to hear Winfrey’s screams, and Allister trying to comfort her. Apparently we all had similarly rattling nightmares.

We departed in silence, heading for the meeting place. None of us were in a particularly good mood; whoever had arranged this would certainly regret it.

When we arrived, there was a cloaked man, his face obscured. He informed us that we were afflicted by a deadly poison, and if it was left untreated, the nightmares would get worse, and, in due time, we would succumb to the toxin and die. The cure was a rarity as well, he said, and produced a vial of clear liquid. He told us that there were only five vials of the antidote, and then broke the small vial. Make that four vials.

His demands were simple; we would go to Gootham and get instructions from his associate there if we wanted a hope at obtaining the cure. Clare gave a proper rebuttal, by drawing her broadsword and charging at the figure in front of us. To our surprise, instead of cleaving him in half, Clare’s sword simply went right through him.

He had teleported himself up to a nearby roof, and was now taunting us from there. He said something about testing our skills and, with a flourish, had summoned up a small force of Vampires.

It didn’t take us long to kill them, but by the time we climbed up to the top of the roof, we had found that the cloaked figure had made his escape. I gathered up the dirt around the place where he had dropped the antidote, in hopes that I could concoct one of my own, and we headed home, demoralized.

—Wilward Jones

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