The First Foray

I must set this into writing, for such exploits much be recorded. These past few days have set the stage for the rest of my life, I suspect. After escaping the ambush of the Brass Buckle, the renowned Peregrine (NOT Poragren, I discovered) and the charmed pit fighter Albion ran out into the night in search of the man who ordered the attack, with me trailing haplessly behind. When we arrived at the arena at last:

I stood in shadows, shrouded by silence
And hearkened then to sounds of violence.
Words of flinty tone, uttered by those lips of stone
Punctuated by a Halfling’s tenacious attack.

Guards fell and blood flowed,
Blades clashed, destruction sowed.
The tale of deceit the pair soon unwound
One way of escape, was all Abercromb found.

He leapt from the height, to his death below.
His Elusive master we would not know.
All was still then, muffled by death –
Save for the Halfling, who can’t hold his breath.

I rushed to their summons, breathless as well
Half from anxiety, but mostly from smell.
To every surface in the ring,
Blood and decay seemed to cling.

Callously they stood, those seasoned men,
And pondered aloud, what to do then?
A deeper plot they had revealed:
This adventure was far from sealed.

But then, alas! Sealed were we.
Portcullises shut on dallying folly.
Torches flared and footsteps pounded
All chance of flight was grounded.

I, heart in mouth and bow in hand,
We staked our ground and made our stand.
Then lo, through the gate, he came.
Framed by lurid flames,
Alistair Diazon – kyrie eleison!

Ach, but I broke meter! Clearly I am too worked up to continue thus. I shall try to continue more calmly. Here’s how it happened:

Abercromb’s nefarious business partner, Fitch, had arrived and trapped Albion, Peregrine, and innocent little me in the gladiatorial arena. The Oread and Halfling seemed to revel in our sudden situation, but for the life of me I cannot understand it!

Two massive orcs thundered in, my teeth chattered at the vibration, and more besides. Here was a situation I could not talk myself out of. I was in too deep.

One of the monsters advanced on our capable rock-man, while the other lumbered towards my cowering place. Peregrine, of course, had leapt atop a central statue to begin taunting the enraged gladiator. I was beginning to see a pattern.

I stood, transfixed as I watched doom approach, when an arrow lodged itself solidly in the orc’s chest. The Halfling! Perhaps I had been too harsh on him. Before my sigh of relief was too complete however, the orc was upon me. Adrenalin surged, and I lashed out with every weapon I could lay my hands on. A trembling arrow glanced off the thick hide, but my rash rapier struck home. The orc fell with a colossal thud at my feet, and I leapt aside just in time.

Energy rushed through my veins, and I vibrated like a plucked harp string. Perhaps this was what my combative partners relished. Hardly able to hold myself back, I burst into a grand ballad, hoping to similarly inspire Peregrine and Albion in their battles.

It went poorly with them.

Albion was hard pressed by the second orc, and Denizon — as Albion had declared his name – was climbing towards Peregrine with a most fearsome countenance. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the despicable form of Fitch leaning over the balcony above. The greed in his eyes was apparent even from my position, and before I could rationalize, I had sent an arrow to bury itself in his ostentatiously attired shoulder.

Back in the arena, the battle raged on, Albion felled the second orc with a mighty blow, and Peregrine continued to harry the gladiator, while my attempts at assistance continued to fall short – or far, in the case of my alchemist’s fire.

Finally, the three combatants stood locked in bloody contest at the statue’s base. In horror, I watched at Alistair Denizon displayed the reason for his renown, and landed three devastating blows to my comrades. Near their end, the valiant companions fell back. This seemed to be the end. But no, I could not let the quest end this way. There is no more heinous offence to a bard than to have a story cut rudely short. Enraged, I dashed out from behind my sheltering pillar, and made a last, desperate stand. With all my might, I sent the power of my music ripping though the barbarian’s toughened hide, and he toppled at last.

From there, it is a blur. After healing what we could, the Halfling and I climbed back to the now-empty balcony to attempt to open the portcullises. We were discovered by guards, however, but they were luckily sympathetic to our plight – or my tattered bodice, either one. Thank goodness for hormones. Their influence has saved me more times than I can count.

We passed a surprisingly pleasant night in jail, leaving Fitch imprisoned behind us, and proceeded to DeSica’s to outfit ourselves for the upcoming journey to Almernae. While examining the wares, whom did we spy but the escaped Teifling! Loath to let him escape again, and hoping that he might have some useful information on this Elusive Man, we gave chase.

The streets of Gootham are treacherous at best, but eventually I cut off the henchman’s flight. Leaping ahead to balance on a clothesline in front of him, I brought him to his knees with my whip. Unfortunately, this feat was surprising even to me, and I — but that’s not important.
Albion and Peregrine climbed up to the rooftop behind, the Oread inexplicably spattered in blood, and commenced badgering the poor thing. As if killing his brother and chasing him across half the houses in town wasn’t enough. But I digress. The Teifling did not have any important knowledge, and after I finally made it to the rooftop again, I suggested we try not to make even more of an enemy of the unfortunate fellow. Goodness knows what his life must have been to bring him to this point. Eventually, I succeeded in convincing both the big and the small brute to release the Teifling, under the condition that he amend his ways, and even to entrust the Brass Buckle to his care in our absence. Perhaps not my best decision, but those deep black eyes were just so sad, I couldn’t help myself.

We spent a pleasant night at the forge, and I even taught a few rudimentary chords to the reformed goon – Ralzarek is his name. In light of his disillusionment, Albion set out to seek new information about his missing family – poor, tortured fellow – and left Peregrine and I to break our fast at the local tavern.

With light hearts and full stomachs, we left for Almernae. Despite feeling slightly uneasy about abandoning my stewardship, my good deed sat warmly in my breast. Perhaps I will meet Ralzarek again, and we can swap tales. Yes, I left, for a bard must follow the action. Onward, to adventure!

—Moira Magee

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