Saul Vancaskerkin sat with Citrine Vancaskerkin and Ruil, and prepared to explain everything to his daughter whom had found him in the wilds of the world. He was grateful to see his daughter, but it was clear that he was fearful of what she would think of him when he spoke the truth; the truth, not only of his past, but hers as well. It was fortunate then that a client entered through the doors, giving him an excuse to delay the inevitable for at least a few moments.
Corthana, spellthief extraordinaire, was greeted by Saul in a very friendly manner, almost to a fault. She was surprised to see Gunderhoff in the corner, counting coins and looking at the various games to be played in the next day's event. That was the reason she was present, as her new mission was to win the Cheap the Devil And Steal His Gold gambling event; at all costs.
Saul showed Corthana a room, and in the process, was told by the thief in not-so-many-words that she was here on a certain crime lord's request. Saul said that he would make the next day's events easier for her should she choose in turn see him favorably for the crime lord Clegg Zincher to which he had lost his hand to. The deal was accepted.
It was then time for Saul to finally reveal to his daughter his own tale.
Saul had been a crime lord of Riddleport in his younger days. One day he fell in love with a beautiful woman; the daughter of another crime lord named Clegg Zincher. Zincher was none to pleased and sent assassins after Saul. Rather than fight a battle he couldn't win, he and his now pregnant love, left Riddleport, taking Saul's great ill-gotten gold with them to start a life together. Sadly, only a few months after giving birth to Citrine, his love passed away from a mysterious illness. Yet Saul loved his daughter so very much, and did all he could to raise her to become a good person, even taking the false mantle of a priest of Sarenrae in order to surround her with good values.
And then Zincher finally found Saul. He threatened to kill Citrine if he didn't return to Riddleport and pay back the money that Saul owed the man. As proof of how serious he was, he had his goons cut Saul's left hand off, though this was more in vengeance as Zincher blamed Saul for his own daughter's death. And so Saul returned to Riddleport, taking out a loan to pay off part of what Zincher owed and to start up a lucrative gambling hall to pay off the rest of the dept.
He asked if there were any questions, to which Ruil replied that he wanted information on a woman that he was rumored to be hanging around with. There was no other woman however, at least not yet as far as Saul could tell. He said his love had died many years ago, and there would be no other. With no other questions, Saul gave them both free room and board and gave them both a free ticket into the Cheat The Devil And Steal His Gold event the next day. Both Citrine and Ruil turned the offer down however, yet both agreed they would help with security.
The next day brought about a hundred people into the gambling hall. All of them had a single goal; to win the 10,000 silver grand prize. The rules were simple: win games to earn enough chips to buy ones way out of the seven hells. The first to do so, won the great prize, while the rest left with only half their winnings. Saul had with him a caged imp named Old Scratch who spewed forth profanities in its infernal language.
As the day wore on, Citrine's keen eye caught one man putting a card up his sleeve. She reported the infraction to barkeep Farur who promptly tossed the man out to the streets. Corthana, a participant in the contest, was not doing so well, despite the winks and nods from the dealers on when to stay with the cards or which insult the ghoulette head would cry out. After a while, as well as a little pick pocketing, and a loan from Citrine, she was able to buy her way to the third Hell. Gunderhoff meanwhile was not faring well at all, and his seven gold turned into minus twenty after negotiating a loan from a seedy patron.
Ruil kept his eyes open for the woman he was supposed report upon. Without a description, it was a difficult task, but his contact had been specific in saying that Ruil would know her right away. That knowledge gave him some pause as he noticed an elven gambler. Her beauty was exquisite and so he approached her. She said her name was Samarithia Beldusk and she had come in the hopes of becoming a cypher mage as her interest was in the runes upon the cypher gate. They were the oldest runes known to exist, and had been researched extensively, but as of yet, there was little known about them. After a few pleasant words with her, it was unclear whether she was whom Ruil sought. The fact that she didn't seem at all associated with Saul, likely meant that he still had to keep searching.
Corthana had just won a large chip count and was nearing enough for Hell number four, when a sudden explosion before her eyes blinded her to the world. The pyrotechnics left most of the people in the room blinded. Only Citrine and a guard shook off the effects, as several armed goons moved through the crowd, and smashing their clubs down upon those who were armed.
Upon the stage, a bard starting singing a pirate tune that seemed to inspire the goons violence. Corthana decided to silence that tune by launching a dart his way. Yet her orientation in her blindness was off and she heard Gunderhoff cry out in anger as the dart pierced his shoulder blade. Old Scratch meanwhile found his cage magically unlocked, and he flew with delight to the rafters above. A blinded Ruil found himself flanked by a pair of men who, seeing the elf's greatsword, knew right away that the elf was a true threat. One of their clubs shattered three ribs on Ruil.
With no foes in sight, Citrine blessed the room to give those who allied against the attackers, a boost to their fighting spirit. Ruil turned his blade upon one of his attackers, but he simply couldn't hit what he couldn't see as his blade whistled wide. Gunderhoff pushed his way to the center of the room and sent out a wave of healing energy. Corthana put her ear to the air and finally sent a dart at the bard. As is the wish of all singers, the bard died there upon the stage as Corthana's dart struck true.
Ruil again took a club hit in the ribs and it seemed he was done for as, with all the commotion, there was no one to come to his aid. Unknown to him, Citrine finally arrived near him. She caught sight of a wizard shrinking the chest of silver down to size, but the immediate threat was in front of her. She slashed one of the men threatening Ruil with her scimitar. That brought a grunt of pain from him, and also let Ruil know where he was. The elf brought his sword down upon that same place. The spray of blood that he felt upon his cheek was so great, there was no doubt he had struck a death blow.
Gunderhoff meanwhile was dealing with another goon. Though blinded, he still bore his near impenetrable armor. He felt his opponent’s club bounce off his helm, then bashed his warhammer in the darkness. The metal caved in skull, and sent the goon dead to the floor. He felt a mental voice that asked him to attack anyone around him. He pushed aside the imp's words, and listened to the crowd for any other way to help out. Ever the thief, Corthana felt about and picked one of the panicked client's pockets.
Citrine took a small club hit from the last thief, and then gutted him on her blade. To her left, she saw the mage run out the door with the small chest in hand. She attempted to pursue, but by the time she made it through the crowd, the mage was gone.
A few seconds later, everyone's vision returned; and all eyes turned on Saul. He too had been blinded, but that might have been to make it seemed as though he was an innocent victim. Now the people wanted blood. Or, more importantly; gold. After healing Ruil, Citrine stepped to her father's defense, commanding them to ease off. Yet their rage was simply too much to leave empty handed. It was either pay up or lose more than another hand, and so Saul paid them all as much as he had.
When the dust settled, Saul was more broke than ever. His guards left that eve, leaving only the help as well as the only four who made a difference in the fight. He thus offered them all employment as well as a free place to stay. Gunderhoff accepted, given he had no other place to go. Citrine too accepted, having finally found her father and not wanting any harm coming to him. Ruil had a mission that was directly related to Saul. He took the hand offered in order to complete his own mission. As for Corthana, gold was all the reason she needed to stay. She looked to Samarithia and said that a job opening had suddenly opened in the Cypher Lodge, and that she could have it.
The next morning gave Ruil and Gunderhoff a scare as they awoke to the screeching of metal. Looking outside, they noticed that all the weather vanes in Riddleport had twisted around and were all now pointed at the Blot in the sky.
From there, the four new companions helped Saul with the cleanup up the Golden Goblin. Once done, they did all they could to help stem the bleeding of gold the gambling hall was spewing. From guard duty by Citrine and Gunderhoff, to drink mixing by Ruil, to promotion by Corthana. Yet despite their work, they couldn't seem to attract clients. The only ones that did show up were a bunch of drunks that wanted more money after the Goblin fiasco. Luckily, Citrine and Ruil were able to calm them down and send them on their way without a fight.
There was one other visitor, and that was Samarithia. She had come to thank Corthana for her help in getting a spot in the Cypher Lodge. Once she turned her back however, Ruil noted a smile upon Corthana's lips, and it was evident that there was more to Corthana's "generosity." Perhaps it was she whom his allies had sent to look upon.
A few days later, the bartender Farur failed to show up for his shift. Saul explained that he had sent the honorable man to speak with Lymas Smeed, one of the people Saul had borrowed money from. He wished to renegotiate the loan as Saul was out of funds. He thus asked his new favorite employees to investigate what happened to Farur.
The obvious place to start was Lymas’s home. As they arrived at the house, Gunderhoff spotted something in a garbage can. It was the cloak of Farur and it had over a dozen bloody stab marks in it. As Lymas was a crime boss, as well as a moneylender, they decided on caution. Corthana offered to pick the lock on the door. After a few tries however, it was obvious she had much learning to do on the Riddleport security system as the door remained closed tight. A knock on the door did get the occupants attention as a slip opened in it. Citrine tried to negotiate her way in, but Lymas refused her entry unless she was there for a loan. Corthana then knocked, and when the slit opened, she shoved her dagger right through the hole and into Lymas’s eye.
Several moments later, Corthana finally picked the lock. Gunderhoff was the first to move in and hit a trip wire that sent a crossbow bolt into his armor. Shaking off the minor poke, the four proceeded into an empty room. There was an empty potion bottle on the ground in which had been an expensive healing potion. There was also a large pile of hay in the center of the room. Ruil stabbed down into it in the hopes of stabbing an unseen foe, When he retracted his blade, he notice he had skewered several piles of dung.
A staircase led upstairs so Gunderhoff headed that way, triggering another trap that sent a bolt grazing is hand. On the second floor, they came to a hallway. Corthana decided to use her skills to try to find any further traps. As it happened, she came upon a trip wire that was easily bypassed. At the end of the hallway was a door. After ensuring no surprises awaited the person who turned the knob, Corthana motion for Gunderhoff to proceed. It was not much of a surprise when a poison dart jabbed his open palm as he turned the door knob.
As the dwarf entered, he was hit again by a crossbow bolt fired by Lymas who had been waiting behind a desk. In the far corner of the room, a baboon was frothing at the mouth in anger at seeing strangers. Lymas demanded that the four leave his home. He was clearly outnumbered, making the threat a hollow one. Citrine demanded the whereabouts of Farur, but Lymas denied knowing anything about the man. Yet there seemed to be a glimmer in his eye as though he was hiding something. That was enough to spring the battle into action.
Citrine blessed everyone, giving them confidence in their strikes. It definitely inspired Corthana as she charged the baboon and dropped it dead with a single thrust to the throat with her dagger. Gunderhoff moved in swinging, but Lymas was able to dodge the attack and counter with a sword swipe that bounced off the dwarf’s armor. Ruil moved in next to her fighting comrade and slashed Lymas across his ribs with her great sword. That left the crime lord wheezing for breath as one of his lungs was punctured. Citrine then walked up to the broken man and clubbed him over the head with the hilt of her scimitar, knocking him unconscious.
A quick search of the house turned up nothing out of the ordinary, leaving only Lymas as a source for information. After a healing wave from Gunderhoff, he was questioned more about the disappearance of the bartender. He remained adamant about his story about not knowing anything, even suggesting that someone might have been trying to implicate him with the bloody cloak in his garbage can. As he either refused to or simply didn't know any information, they were left with two options: kill Lymas or let him live.
In the end, Citrine came up with a very generous offer. She would give the crime lord 500 gold. In exchange, Lymas would reduce the debt to Saul from 3000, to 1000 gold. They would also take his possessions, what little there was. Lymas accepted the offer, while secretly promising sweet and painful revenge for them and for Saul. Thus the four bodyguards left Lymas to wallow in misery and contemplation over the counter attack that most undoubtedly would be on the near horizon.