(I probably butchered the other PCs’ intents and motivations, so please change, add, revise!)
Shallieth skirted the shadows, floating as much as walking. She knew the dangers of this neighborhood all too well; she was one of them. But a danger known is a danger lessened and once again she made it home without incident.
Against all odds, it was after this that the trouble started. Having just shed her cloak and helped herself to a nightcap and a book she was caught off-guard (a rare occurrence) by the shifting and cracking of the very ground beneath her abode giving way. Allowing her instincts to take control, she beat a hasty retreat in the opposite direction, diving out the back door just as the timbers began to collapse.
Hell had broken loose, had a picnic, and decided to play some cricket with the broken bodies of her neighbors. Amidst shrieks of alarm, panic, and utter pain she fled, never pausing to assist those she passed, her mind focused on one thing.
Gods and spirits, she’s found me.
Shallieth let out a yelp in spite of herself as a beam came crashing down, grazing her right shoulder. Got to get out of here fast. Got to make sure she doesn’t follow me. In the relative safety of an alley, she poured her mind into the aura of the Chameleon. She didn’t really become invisible, per se, so much as people would suddenly find their attention diverted to more important things. It was a game Shallieth had been playing long enough to be very good at, but panic and distraction took their toll, not on the hastily-cast spell but on the caster herself.
Got to find Gennaro. He’ll know what to do.
Always work to be done. Gennaro sighed as he shifted another page from a long pile of reports onto the “finished” pile and noted the specifics in his own log. Working by the lantern’s dim light was taking its toll on his eyes, and for a moment he contemplated joining his guardsmen in slumber.
No, there’s more work to be done. Got to at least finish this batch of reports.
The next thing Gennaro noted was the whispering in his ear. A voice without a body. How this intruder had gotten past the guard at the front door, he could only guess. But he did know the voice. Shallieth Trifalgar. This could not be good.
He waited in a state of semi-shock as his underworld informant notified him of an emergency situation in the Temple District, a situation his fellow guardsmen were apparently doing nothing about. Resolved to see to the rescue of his fellow townspeople, Gennaro hurriedly rallied the garrison, sending a few to gather experts and advisors and leading the rest through the otherwise-quiet streets to the broken crater that had mere minutes ago been a stable, if destitute, neighborhood.
Onetwothreefourfive. Sharp rapping noises. For a moment Murridoc struggled to comprehend the strange rhythmic tapping. The door, definitely the door.
A clearly-shaken guardsman stood outside and for a moment Murridoc wondered what the City Guard was accusing him of this time around. And then the guardsman began an uncharacteristic plea for assistance.
A collapse? My stone, my houses and precious walls? How could this be? And yet as Murridoc stared out in the direction of the loud crash he had heard earlier, a mere 1,423.7 meters away, he saw the evidence with his own eyes. Grabbing his coat he hurried out the door to assist.
Chaos reigned. What was left of the streets was choked with the wounded and the dispossessed. Many more were still buried in the rubble. And what had been the guardsmen’s first and only act? A blockade. As if these were dangerous livestock to be contained, to be kept away from those with a right to live. Gennaro was appalled.
There were criminals, certainly. These sort of districts always attract the lower elements. But there were far more innocents, law-abiding citizens whose only crime was not being able to afford to live elsewhere. Surely even the criminals deserve better than this.
He saw it in Shallieth’s eyes as well, gave her a cautionary look when he saw those eyes boring into the offending guardsmen. She had doubtless lost her home as well. Her friends. Her neighbors. Gennaro struggled to take command of the situation, but he could not completely keep Shallieth at bay and he didn’t blame her. Poor woman; grief has taken her and her “protectors” could care less.
Shallieth’s mind, however, was elsewhere. It was not grief or sorrow that burned from those eyes. It was anger. And vengeance. How could she? In my very own home! Mother, I’m an ocean away and no threat to your damned ivory palace! I don’t want it! Just call off your dogs already! But her words were honey and ice as she gently appealed to the man’s sense of dignity.
Gennaro tired quickly of the verbal posturing. There was work to be done, lives to be saved, and so Gennaro Infondato, hero of Ponte Luka, took up a rope and led the charge into the twisted wreckage. This was of course after their master mason had assured him of its stability; no need endangering the lives of those who must assist those trapped within. So certain had Le Lacheure been, in fact, that he was one of the first to follow.
Good. That takes care of the Guard. Now let’s see what there is to be seen. Shallieth wasn’t certain what she was looking for. Cut timber, perhaps, weakened stonework, the stain of black powder and a smoking fuse? There had to be some shred of evidence to prove what she already knew. This was no accident, it was an attack. But if the evidence was there her untrained eye steadfastly refused to register it. Perhaps a more personal approach was in order.
Wreckage everywhere. Torchfires lighting up the dry timbers, highlighting stains of blood, dust and oil. They were too late for the first several victims, and without a single moan to guide them, searching for the survivors, if indeed there were any, was going to take some time.
Murridoc found the first. Found himself face-to-face with a wretched, furred visage, hissing in pain and panic. Something less than human. Doubtless if there was one roden here there were many, and if many were here . . . perhaps they had found their culprits. But for the time being he had to ensure that this roden survived to testify. Calling for the guardsmen and a rope, Murridoc began to extract the furred survivor.
Shallieth looked suitably haggard and stricken as she surveyed the wounded and the dead. It was all an act, of course. She felt no particular sorrow over this lot; many were probably better off dead anyway. But each was potential lost revenue, and of course corpses are hardly fun to play with. And there was something else that bothered her . . . but she pushed that to the back of her mind where it belonged.
Four. Four missing. She had names, faces, descriptions. They were likely dead, and this made little difference, but she put on a show of tearful anguish as she returned to pass the news to the Guard.
His name was Krim. He was clearly not all there, but aware enough to mumble about what he had seen. Or at least to mutter repeatedly “Went up, should’ve gone down.” At one of his more lucid moments he mentioned a machine and a man named Ijax. Murridoc’s suspicions of the savage began to crystallize into something more solid.
When Krim spotted the temple, what remained of his sanity broke and he took off running. Fortunately, Murridoc, Gennaro, and Shallieth all happened to be looking that way.
Can’t these roden say anything useful? Or at least learn when to shut up? Shallieth had heard enough of their dodging. Her gut told her they were in on it, but of course she had no proof. Not even any useful leads. There had to be something better to do with her time. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw the other roden, the injured one, make a break for it.
“Excuse me, but I have other duties to which I must attend. Perhaps we can continue this later?” She didn’t wait for an answer.
At length the bolting roden was cornered and recaptured, and the guard had taken him to a very secure location in the temple for treatment of his wounds. The three had regathered to question their witness/suspect. At this point, though, he was nearly foaming at the mouth. It took all of their combined efforts to convince him he was, in fact, among friends (however true or untrue that may actually be).
But convince him they did, and Krim began his tale.