Tanglestone

23 - First Steps South

In which a peaceful phase is set to one side, a Petty Court discusses nittering, and a bridge exacts a gruesome toll.

Two months pass since the defeat of the Locksmith, and the Trade Union keeps busy in their own separate ways.

Dewlian makes copies of the map located in the Clock Tower, researches the history of the city heavily, and visits Market Days regularly to keep up contact with the other guild-clans.

Hinge continues to patrol, expanding his route to include the Clock Tower and to observe the most promising paths south — the central (and only intact) bridge over the Moat, which shows troll-sign, and the eastern Grand Wall, which is marked with signs of recent skirmishes. From the Wall, Hinge also spots a patrol of walking dead moving about the region of the Hospital.

Sym uses necromantic rituals to convert the skeletal caged birds in Tattergloom Hall into animated sentries that can warn of intruders. He also researches the possibility of some sort of enchanted warning item, a horn or chime that could alert the rest of the guild-clan of danger.

Peluma “takes a vacation”, though it’s a busman’s holiday at best. She learns that the shadow creepers are still in the city, though they’ve avoided contact with the Night Sweepers who occasionally spot them. She also completes her plan of making an initial courtship contact with the Battleman archivist Tallyblack.

The Trade Union finally reconvenes in full at a Market Day, in which the Tragedians are putting on the phantasmagorical play “House of a Thousand Mirrors”. The show frightens Dewlian’s children, unnerves Sym to an equal degree, and convinces Peluma that she should go shopping for a mirror.

After the performance, a Petty Court convenes — for the first time in a long period, one that boasts representatives from every known guild-clan, indeed every citizen population of Northern Tanglestone save the noble Houses and Detritus. There, Dewlian speaks at length of the Trade Union’s recent activities and the need to find someone to serve as the new master of the Clock Tower. The assembled representatives take the request fairly seriously as a whole, and three potential candidates are mentioned: Vigardine Fell and Brackenflange of the Crafters, and Finecrafter Ratbait of the Forges. Following the formalities, Hinge informs the rest of the Trade Union of his observations, and the group muses over the possibility of exploring south of the Moat.

At length, it’s decided to try for the central bridge, and test the strength of the trolls there. Hinge leads the way, stopping first at the Kitchens to have some fish attached to his armor (to draw the trolls out via scent) and then adding some blazing torches to his pauldrons. Dewlian also acquires some alchemist’s fire for good measure.

As expected, their passage draws trolls — two adult males and one adolescent, who are exactly as dangerous as Dewlian’s research had determined. Hinge is nearly pulled apart in the melee, and the adolescent troll proves to be a deft hand (or talon) at hurling his foes into their allies. It takes every scrap of willpower, trickery and arcane might for the Trade Union to win the battle, but win they do. Rather than press on and draw the attention of more trolls, however, the group retreats to Detritus, where they find a safe-seeming stone hovel to bind their wounds and rest.

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Barastrondo

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