Title: The Meat Market
Date: Late Trilan, 1332 Avard
Synopsis: ME is asked to investigate the disappearances of three eligible bachelors in Chasadan – and find a vampire mistress.
Mid-morning of the 22nd of Trilan, 1332 Avard.
William Kavriss, official master of Meridian Explorations, grabbed the first employees he could find: Sorsha, the orc Tiny, a new fellow named Io, and the dwarf Wreckless. William needed them to help him find his friend Gerald. Gerald had supposedly gone to Teras just a few nights before, but had returned without him. Ordinarily, it would not have been a big deal, but one of Willia'ms friends that worked at The Order tavern indicated that Gerald was not the only one missing. William was in a tizzy hoping that ME could find Gerald – and anyone else that had gone missing.
Sorsha asked if William had ever gone into The Order, and the ME master became even more nervous. The back of the tavern had become known as the 'meat market' in certain circles, for it was where eligible bachelors were taken to see if they were suitable for the widows, dowagers, and unmarried ladies looking to find a rich husband. William had, indeed, been through the meat market – but it was a humiliating experience for him, because the ladies back there were only interested in his brother Hershel, Ducal Mage of the Janis Plains, and the real master of Meridian Explorations.
William was distraught and nervous and bedazzled by the luscious Sorsha, and handed over all his purse if only she would help him find Gerald – before something terrible happened to him.
Sorsha opted to use Tiny as the brawn in case something went wrong, and intended to dress Io and Wreckless up as best she could. She had seen at least one dwarven widow among the meat market's crowd at some point, and so Wreckless would do well. Io was likely to be the main target, even though he was eladrin and not human, if he were dressed well enough.
After getting measurements and placing an order, the team waited until evening to approach The Order. Their day was spent leisurely, and Tiny was particularly glad to be on the mission, rather than in trouble like the rest of the orcs. The other orcs had apparently mistaken a small pony for a large dog – or, at least, that was the excuse being given. The pony had been eaten, saddle and all, and no one had come forward to complain, making the manager Ryviik's job that much harder.
When the afternoon began to cool off a bit towards evening, Sorsha made sure they were in their best clothing. For Tiny, that meant a burlap sack of a bit of clothing that showed off superbly defined muscles, contrasting with his tiny brain pan.
Sorsha and Tiny went in first, and were seated not too far from the back where the meat market crew tended to stay. The restaurant was only half full, tending to derive most of its revenue from the noon-day crowd. Judges, paladins, leaders of the guard, and other city officials tended to enjoy the ordered atmosphere of The Order. Although, occasionally, Sorsha heard distinctive giggles and feminine laughter from the back room.
She also heard disparaging comments about Tiny, as some older woman decided that Sorsha must be having an affair with her bodyguard.
Io and Wreckless came in, both of them putting on as best an act as they could. Wreckless was actually impeccably dressed, and performed beautifully. Io appeared to be the perfect slightly-bored and slightly-drugged son of a noble that he was. Even though his conversation tended towards monosyllabic responses, his brain was awash in polysyllabic thoughts.
Dinner was fine, and Sorsha was honestly getting a bit bored, waiting for something to happen. So, too, apparently, were the ladies. A waiter came out of the back room and invited Wreckless and Io to have a bottle of wine 'on the ladies'.
Sorsha had abilities that tended to defy explanation – and one of them was an ability to speak to and hear minds within twenty-five feet. She almost spit out her dessert when Io shared with her a vision of the south face of a mountain, where a vineyard was not too far from a small grove of pines. And that the wine was tainted with a bit of a tranquilizer that would amplify the effects of the alcohol considerably.
The information was shared silently with the others, and Io and Wreckless continued to pretend to drink the bottle of wine.
After a time, the two bachelors were invited into the back. There, a dozen ladies of varying ages kept a small court of sorts. They were led by an older woman possessed of an inner fire, but the attention of the lads was caught by a timeless beauty sitting next to the older woman. The beauty was captivating, with eyes that seemed liquid pools of warmth that beckoned to them.
A quick interview of sorts established that Io and Wreckless were merchants in town on a bit of business, and would not be staying permanently. This brought a coo of disappointment from some of the girls, but the beauty apparently took a liking to Io.
The eladrin and the dwarf were escorted back out, where a secret note was handed to Io. It said to meet in The Order's exclusive garden dining room, alone.
Wreckless pretended to be just as intoxicated as Io was pretending to be, and helped the eladrin to his feet. Together, the two went to the exclusive garden – while Sorsha and Tiny settled up their bill. The two of them were out of the tavern before Wreckless and Io had even managed to get away from their table.
Sorsha and Tiny set up to watch from a discrete location, the red light of Maroth just a dark pink tinge to the world at that hour.
Wreckless helped Io into the garden, where a waiting servant finished the assistance, and bid the dwarf a rather pointed goodbye. Wreckless then stumbled away, and as soon as he was out of sight, sprinted around the building to join the others, guided by Sorsha's mental summons.
Not long after, the timeless beauty swayed seductively out into the starlight to join Io. The eladrin feigned the need to rest, but the beauty easily kept him from falling over. Io's adrenaline kicked in when he realized his feet were inches off the ground. The beauty was strong.
She easily carried him along, out of the garden, reassuring him that he would be fine, and she would take care of him. Then she climbed up the sheer walls of another building and up onto the roof without slowing down, holding Io off the ground with one arm.
Io, being an eladrin, had a spark of the arcane within him that let him teleport back down to street level inside of a heartbeat.
The beauty, realizing a trap, began to run along the rooftop with a speed that was frightening. Io tapped into his powers, bringing forth the image of a great white bear directly in her path.
Tiny leapt the garden fence, tossed aside tables and chairs, and made the edge of the building's roof with his hands, hauling himself up with his massively muscled arms.
Seeing Tiny moving into position, Io, too, climbed up the side of the building, using more conventional means than the beauty, but taking no less time for it.
Sorsha followed in Tiny's wake, sending a mental command to the orc to freeze as she turned both him and herself invisible for just a moment.
The beauty, seeing Io clambering back onto the roof, spun away from the great white bear, slipped past Tiny, and moved to attack the eladrin. Tiny, seeing too good an opportunity to miss, swung at the beauty – missing, and tearing the veil of his invisibility aside.
Io saw her eyes – those lovely eyes – and could not resist himself as he threw a primal burst of power into Tiny. The beauty… He had to protect the beauty…
Her lower jaw distended and inches-long fangs glistened in the starlight as the vampire mistress drew back her head to feast on Io's neck.
Sorsha blasted the vampiress with light that burned as brightly as the sun, just as Tiny's axe dropped through the vampiress' body. A split second later, Wreckless' eldritch blast made the vampiress explode into black blood, covering Tiny and Io.
The vampire mistress was dead before she could even realize her danger. The team stood where they were, astounded at what they had done.
A quick investigation, with the aid of paladins and judges still in The Order, revealed that none of the meat market had known of what 'Lily' had been doing. At Lily's room, they found a false wall – beyond which lay the stinking remains of half a score of men.
The vampiress had used her powers in Teras to waylay the Meridia's Gift into stopping there, against orders. From there, the ship had gone to Chasadan, unloading the vampire mistress as a fallen son of Chasadan come home for burial. The ship's crew had paid up front for berthing, and then gone missing without anyone the wiser.
After midnight of the 23rd of Trilan, 1332 Avard.
Dinner was red beans and rice, courtesy of Zattarain's easy-make packages. I dared the group to finish the huge pot (easily two gallons) of red beans and rice, but alas, we had leftovers. Mrm…. Yummy.
Nick joined us as a guest player, while Whitney simply observed and drew a nifty picture of Tiny. This was another one-shot while Dave spent some quality time with his daughter at the pool (or some sich). The group appeared to have a rollicking good time.
RPG System: Dungeons and Dragons, 4th Edition.
All characters were 12th level.