Book One: Ordered by Gods

Vengeance for the Keeper
Cuthberta Eosularday & Menteselunday

An account of the duelist, Inigo

Having drunk in the all the sights and sounds of Göesse within minutes of having arrived, Inigo Tarrega had spent the past several days attempting to sort out its truly remarkable array of bad smells.

The complexity of the fishing hamlet's bouquet was truly astonishing--dead fish, bodily odour, sour and again the odd whiff of old urine. It was a perversely satisfying way to spend the time, since he happened to have the time spend. With each day that passed, Inigo was finding it increasingly difficult to avoid coming to terms with the fact that he didn't know where he was going. Certainly, his path led northward through the mountains and wilds to Lake Sular; but with limited funds and no sense of the distance or dangers of the road ahead, he was coming to the realization that he was going to require assistance of some form or another.

Every so often he'd play cards with one or two of more frequent tavern patrons and make a point of pretending not to notice their clumsy attempts to cheat. He'd let them drink their winnings and then win his stake back again when they were fully in their cups--after all, the people of Göesse were good people for the most part. Gruff, uncouth, sometimes shifty--fragrant, definitely--but for the most part, good.

Perhaps he had been mistaken in declining his Cuthberite friends' invitation to accompany them to Riot's Gate. In hindsight, he certainly would have been able to find directions in that city, or possibly some work as a guard or scout on a patrol heading northwards. Of course, putting himself out as a sword for hire had never worked out all that well for him in the past. In fact, it wasn't that long ago that he'd summoned a patrol of enemy janissaries to wipe out the supply caravan he himself was guarding--Inigo didn't expect any of the survivors would give him a very good reference...

And so he waited in this strange, smelly fish-town, standing out like a sore thumb--or would have, at least, were it not for the presence of two highly conspicuous agents of the Monotheocrate Order trying hard to fit in and lay low. "Hello!" Inigo overheard during a conversation between one of them and a local. "Do you like fish? I like fish. I'm a fisherman! Would you like to buy some fish?"

They were not blending in terribly well.

Inigo supposed that they must have been present on some kind of official business--what with their attempt to disguise their origins and that fact that they seriously seemed to think their cover was working. He'd considered buying them a round once or twice on the occasions he'd crossed paths with them in the local cantina. He thought the better of it given the perversely obvious steps they were taking to look like locals. ("We're locals. Yup. We're dirty local peasants alright. What are you looking at? Stop looking at us! Sons of dogs...").

Inigo let the presence of these two strangers drift into the background as he pondered his direction and attempted to savour the full aroma of Göesse in all its splendour. He'd heard rumours of a cave nearby which had been the scene for a recent battle between a brave warrior and a legion or two of trolls...perhaps there remained some secrets or wealth to be discovered there? But when news drifted in of an injured vessel limping into port, Inigo was as curious as everyone else in town. "Perhaps they're carrying a shipment of soap," he thought hopefully to himself.

The town was abuzz with tales of a deadly attack on the water which had resulted in a single dwarven navigator fighting off a dozen murderous fish-beasts ("Well, if it was a dwarf at the helm, it must've been TWO or THREE dozen," Inigo offered to Constantin, the local innkeeper--it never hurt to fuel a little idle speculation now and again).

Oddly, the arrival of the ship seemed to inspire anything but curiosity for the Monotheocrate agents. Catching sight of them as the ship arrived, Inigo noted that they seemed to be locked in a bitter argument. One of them--the tall with the short temper--stormed from the inn without paying his tab while his companion calmly finished his ale and followed moments afterward.

Inigo trailed the agent out, pausing to catch sight of the ship as bumped into the pier and noting by how low it sat in the water that it had barely survived the voyage. He casually followed him a short way down the shore to what appeared to be a pre-arranged meeting with a couple of local fishermen (one of them, Isabye, he remembered from a couple of nights earlier as having been a particularly bad cheat at cards). Not wishing to attract attention to himself, Inigo returned to the pier and got his first look at the "crew" of the vessel on the deck. Although they looked nearly as battered as the ship they sailed in on, they didn't look anything like sailors--sell swords, more like. Clearly, there was more to this story than was grinding through the rumour mill. He decided to make their acquaintance. If they weren't heading northwards themselves, then perhaps they would have information about the best route to take.

As events transpired, he didn't have to wait long for an introduction. Becoming curious about the effect these events were having on his "friends" from the Order, he asked after them at the inn only to find that they'd hastily settled their bill and fled. Inigo started to trace their steps when he was accosted by a pair of filthy orcs. They demanded he surrender his weapons and accompany them and "not cause any problems". "Orcs?!" the thought. "Violent, stinking, dirty orcs holding my own blade at my back and telling ME not to cause problems? Oooooh, I am sooooo gonna kill one of these guys." In the end, however, they managed to keep their heads by politely accompanying Inigo to the headman's dwelling.

When he arrived, he was greeted by the headman and an odd group of characters who must have come in on the ship. "Sell-swords? No. These are adventurers on some kind of quest, clearly." Inigo had entered in the midst of a debate over the fate of a prisoner the group had taken at sea. "There's a fish-beast in a tub in the next room?" thought Inigo. "Who's idea was it to bring a ravenous sea monster to this helpless little town in the first place? Good grief--if they won't take it far away and get rid of it then they should just throw it on the barbie and light a match!"

The headman was clearly embarrassed for having sent for Inigo in such an uncourtly manner and seemed a little relieved when the escort sent out to accompany him burst in--breathless, but with all their heads and limbs. Inigo understood the concern, however, having come to the conclusion himself that so many strangers turning up in the village at the same time could hardly be a coincidence. He answered the barrage of questions from the headman and the adventuring party as best he could, and although slightly puzzled by their probing interest in his background, he allowed that they'd undergone an ordeal and were probably fleeing from danger into danger (as adventurers often tend to do). Inigo assured them that whatever dangers they feared, he was not one of them and accepted the invitation extended by the disheveled monk to accompany the party to investigate the nearby cave where, as it turns out, it had been the paladin Domaldi's father who'd met his end in a massive troll-fight.

But before they set out, there was the small matter of getting to the bottom of the link between the Monotheocrate agents and the attack at sea. While the adventurers had been ripping up floorboards and bailing for their lives, they'd apparently come across a crate containing a mechanical being which was designed for underwater combat. The pieces of the puzzle weren't hard to put together--an underwater killing machine, purchasing agents from the Monotheocrate Order, an attack by fish monsters--someone was dealing in underwater weaponry and someone else wanted to put a stop to it. The party followed the leads as far as they could, but the agents escaped and the prisoner in the tub had a serious attitude problem and wasn't giving out any information.

And so they prepared to set out the following day. Inigo was hopeful that their path would lead them further towards his own objective.

"This is an odd group," thought Inigo. "Clearly, there must be some reason keeping them on the same path. I will travel with them for a while. But the monk...his vow of poverty is noble, perhaps I could convince him to accept a small gift of some soap...?"

An account by Domaldi...

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