Winter 13 – Day 3 of 6 on the train.
The day started out normally enough as Malia Baccarin took many of the first- and second-class passengers atop the caboose for another Malice Land Safari. A few solitary creatures were spotted during the morning’s ride, making for an entertaining few hours of leisurely shooting and abundant refreshments. Simon Beckman (Templeton) was adventurous enough to stand while he fired.
Suddenly, the train slammed on the brakes, sending poor Beckman over the side of the train (tumbler of scotch still in hand, with not a drop spilled). The cause soon became apparent, as from the swamps to one side of the train emerged a massive five-headed monstrosity. Its form was similar to a hydra, but it attacked by purposefully shedding its own heads, which then split into four spawn apiece.
Wary of using their magic in the Malice Lands, Joliet and Oscar (Kida and Hugo) stayed put, firing rifled weapons from long-range while Brug (Qiyet) charged into a thicket of monsters, felling them by the handful as they tried to skirt by her/him toward other meals. Beckman hustled back to the train, making good use of his boarding boots. Calius (Talon) slept peacefully in his bunk.
Meanwhile, a half-dozen or so bandits lead by a man named Rodinn rode up to the front of the train on bird-like steeds. After they killed two guards, the conductor surrendered, and the bandits moved onto the cargo cars. As they started unloading valuables into their saddlebags, the train’s unusual hobo was disturbed from his nap. He moved to confront their leader, but was repelled by a volley of well-aimed fire bolts, which seemed to disable his preternatural healing ability. Screaming, the hobo fled from Rodinn, only to be caught in the line of fire of a few advancing train guards. Weakened and outnumbered, he dove into another cargo car and hid for the remainder of the fight.
Calius woke from his nap, hurriedly joining Brug as she advanced toward the front of the train. Mr. Hengehill and a half-dozen or so train guards had set up formation just behind the midway-point of the train, and helped to finally drive away the screaming malice-beast, after it had been significantly softened up by Brug. Once it had fled, Joliet’s bodyguards confronted Rodinn, who began jeering at them in rhymes, and unleashed a strange spell that transformed Calius’ battleaxe into a stack of capital tax papers (thankfully, a temporary effect).
Since the blockade of boulders that had caused the conductor to stop the train in the first place was merely an illusion set by Rodinn, the train was able to continue on after putting the bandits in restraints. All in all, the train was less than an hour late… but that was still enough for the engine to be met in Trekhom by a group of concerned soldiers with lots of questions for the crew and passengers.
Calius decided to follow Mr. Griento, who muttered to himself and generally looked rather pale as he went to the scheduled presentation with Vlendam Heid at the local theater. The two were the only audience members from the train that night, sharing the aisles with a studious group of philosophy majors in the back.
Vlendam broke from his prepared speech, launching instead into an honest discussion with Calius and Damata about the tragedies of the day, how they relate to Eschatologist beliefs, and in particular how Damata could best move forward with his life now that he was facing its possible end…
Many of the details didn’t come out until after the show; apparently Damata was heavily indebted to the family after being suckered by a con artist posing as a train magnate. In talking with Vlendam, however, he realized he’d rather have a noble end to his life than a cowardly continuance under the syndicate’s heel. He asked Calius to come with him in Nalaam to formally refuse the Family’s demands that he hand over his family’s heirloom magic items.
Joliet followed Elanor, who met with a dwarf in the basement of the Korol Morya, an inn near the Trekhom docks. With clever eavesdropping, she was able to pick up a conversation between them, though the dwarf’s voice seemed to lapse into differing accents: a brusque Drakran, a charming Crisillyiri, and a smarmy Risuri. Elanor responded as if addressing a group, assuring them that she would “deliver the goods unmarred—I haven’t had to beat her once, yet.” They agreed to meet at “the Tower” in Nalaam, which Hugo suspected might refer to the Grand Casino.
They also asked her about “prospective fodder for the arena,” to which Elanor answered that there were plenty of good fighters on the train, but none of them easy to abduct.
“Besides,” she added, “I can’t very well go around kidnapping wealthy travelers. Some of them might be clients of mine, someday!”
As Joliet moved to the rooftops, watching for Elanor’s departure, Simon Beckman and his batman arrived, keeping tabs on Luc and Ottavia. As chance would have it, they arrived at the very same inn, along with Verzubak and Boone. Oscar managed to “overhear” the sign language conversation that night once again, in which Luc mentioned pulling a few strings to “get them all set up,” even though “it was kind of an extreme measure.” Ottavia reassured him it would be worth it.
Afterwards, the two of them left, and were followed to Trekhom’s lighthouse where they met with an important-looking dwarf, whose address was noted for future investigation.
As Elanor left the inn, she was struck (non-fatally) by a shuriken of unknown origin.
Qiyet chose to shadow Mr. Hengehill, who went straight to his hotel room after leaving the train, changed into innocuous clothing, and then rented a room in the cheap hotel, carrying a duffel instead of a suitcase. After midnight, he left the cheap hotel for the railyard.
In a dilapidated warehouse, Cardiff met up with a fat old dwarf and a dozen or so thugs armed with maces. They exchanged a few cautious formalities, then exchanged bags. Hengehill walked away with a sack full of gems and platinum coins, while the dwarf received the man’s briefcase, apparently full of Danoran military intel.
Qiyet, seeing no reason to jeopardize her own mission over this spy, quietly left. On her way back, she was stopped by the hobo, who finally introduced himself as Mr. Mapple. He’d hoped to find a kindred spirit in Brug, but he/she rebuffed the man, almost flat-out telling him that Isobel’s situation was of no concern.