Prologue: Gates of Stone
Thalazzar's thoughts, hustling through the streets of Riot's Gate
The scent of a woman was something Thalazzar had known only a few times in his life. Tonight it was of a woman's hair scented with perfumes, like fruits with a touch of sweat from revelry and exertion. The smell wafted on the cool evening breeze, drawing his mind away to a different place. It could have been from any number of the women amongst the crowd. It brought him away from the task at hand but then, in an instant, the woman and the moment had passed.
The streets were filled with people. Riot's Gate was always busy but never more than this night. The celestial phenomenon about to occur had brought many people to town, swelling the ranks of the populace with visitors from afar standing side by side with refugees and the dregs of the city. Even a dragon had come to watch. Some were treating it as a festival, drinking, dancing and singing. Others voiced prayers to their Gods, others cowered in fear. All looked to the sky as the evening gave way to night.
Thalazzar wished that he could experience this evening as others were. He wished that he could have turned, followed his senses, and experienced the embrace of a new woman, but not tonight. Instead, his hand gripped the hilt of his sword that much tighter and he strode forward after his companions, his staff briskly cracking the cobbles as they strode against the crowd, towards the tram and McGreevy Town.
Thalazzar strode with a purpose. He hadn't given a kobold bitch's molting about Mei Mei. He barely cared about Orindish nobles, ancient maps in dead languages, Unspoken spies, dwarven politics, or any of the other craziness that this city seemed to spawn. He had been more interested in the riddles of the dream of horrors. But at this moment, Thalazzar cared. He had been right about the Dripping Blade, but he didn't feel good about it. In fact he felt worse. He was upset for some reason that Domaldi doubted his word, although he didn't really know why. He was upset that a careless act of compassion had now brought Plake into this mess.
He had told his companions about his arrival in Riot's Gate. About how he had signed on as a mercenary guarding a Bostikan vessel of the Gallantish merchant house Ombreclair. A vessel bound for Riot's Gate with a shipment of Trudorean wine…and a few other things. He had told them about the mercenary ogres who claimed to work for the Rigotionni merchant house that had sunk the vessel while it lay at anchor and ate almost everyone onboard. He didn't tell them about the ogre Fagorgitto with the swirling green tattoos and missing eye - the one who had eaten the Gallantish girl alive, the Gallantish girl whose scents he had known. That part of the tale remained Thalazzar's burden alone to bear.
Thalazzar hadn't cared about what he had salvaged that day, who he had sold it to, or the politics of Gallantish and Zularian merchants fighting their nation's struggle on the sea. That day he had only cared about the same thing he had always cared about - surviving. He had never heard of the Dripping Blade, or Silverleaf for that matter, until Plake had connected him to the buyer. He wasn't sure why he cared if his companions believed him.
Plake shared a small part of the heat for the Silverleaf, but taking down Scuz had been his group alone and the half-elf hadn't played a part. His law-abiding companions were learning a lesson in unfinished business, but that didn't comfort him much. No, on second thought, he wasn't upset, he was angry. The Blade was going to pay. They had humiliated Thalazzar at the tavern and even tried to kill him twice.
He was going to find this Iron Tusk in McGreevy Town and he was going to do what he had to do to get Plake out of trouble. Then he was going to find a way to introduce the Dripping Blade to the dream of horrors. Thalazzar's horrors….
An account of the same events, by Domaldi