Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Day Six-Hundred-Thirteen: Murderousness

Shit. Things have become complicated. Very complicated.

With Libby's leg pretty much mended and our plan well underway, we set out this morning to infiltrate Trademore's black market. The entrance we'd coaxed out of Dodger the previous day was right where we'd left it, and as we approached the rear of the bar a gruff-looking lad with greenish skin was stepping out of the trapdoor beside the trash bin. He regarded us warily.

"You cops?" he asked. Stupid question.

"We look like cops?" Libby rolled her eyes. "Outta the way. We're goin' down."

"Oh. Yeah." He moved aside. "Uh, I think there's... a password... I have to ask you for...?"

I shook my head and whistled a brief showtune, the only one I knew.

"Yeah, that'll do, I guess." He scratched his head. "Hey, though, you guys might not wanna go down there right now."

Libby, already halfway into the trapdoor, ignored him. I grabbed her shoulder before she could disappear. "Why not?"

"Rough folk down there." He scratched his head again. Too much dandruff fell out. "Real rough."

"Well, fuckin' duh, it's full of criminals." Libby yanked away from me. "'course it's rough."

"Yeah, but... extra rough, see?" He swallowed. "Some big shot is down there, lookin' at the stalls. Weird little guy. Won't stop talkin'. Has two huge body guards. Like, really huge. Seen 'em beat up a few fellas who tried to get too close already. S'why I'm ditchin' the place."

"Huh." Libby faltered, ever so slightly. "One of them a penguin? Big guy with a hat and a sword? Pigtail things for hair?"

The lad shivered. "Nooo, that's Umbro. Everybody knows Umbro. He ain't one of 'em. You stay away from Umbro 'less ya got business with him. The bodyguards're covered in bandages. No clue whether they're penuins or orcs or, hell, could be fatass sloths for all I know. Best ya steer away, ladies."

I went cold. A suspicion began forming in my mind. "We'll keep that in mind. Thanks."

He tried to invite us back to 'his place', surely a filthy rat warren of some description, but we ignored him. Libby seemed a little uneasy; I was quite uneasy. I didn't say why, though, because I feared Libby might charge right into battle if I voiced my fears. All I did was admonish Libby to 'stick to the plan'. 

The passage from the Sidewinder to the Bushmaster was long, poorly-lit, and cramped. Despite the entrance leading straight underground the actual path took us through a dozen cellars, basements and abandoned homes, some manned and some not. None of the occupants of these trash-filled rooms paid us any notice, and we took pains not to ask any questions. That led to some backtracking -

- but, after an hour of struggling our way through the guts of Trademore, we emerged in an alley. Beside us was a door leading into a room full of drunken merriment and drawn daggers. We'd arrived.

Sticking to the shadows - which is pretty common down here, I think - we made our way through the 'streets' of the black market and found the market itself. As Libby described, it's essentially a huge collection of underground alleyways filled with seedy-looking merchants. Banned weapons, narcotics, slaves, children's toys, you can buy anything in this place.

Most of the customers kept quiet. Most of the customers kept to themselves. Most of the customers are not all of the customers. One had a very big mouth, and he was exactly whom I'd feared discovering in the deep dark. We heard him before we saw him, and I IDed his voice immediately. He came into the pub back home too often for my liking.

"This is trash, yes, yes!" The sound of something flung against a wall. "Don't you have anything of use? A scalpel? A rusty hook? Something with which I may tear, and rend, and operate? I will need these things, yes, I need investigatory devices of the meanest order. Your wares are useless! THIS PLACE IS BORING! WHERE ARE ALL THE POINTY BITS!"

"Errrr... I sell baskets, um, m'lord. You might want to try down the street."

"Do not presume to tell the mighty DOC what to do, you low brigand! You foolish fool of a fool's goat! TITAN BLUE, GUT HIM!"

I peeked around the corner of a stall. Down the street, standing in front of a stall full of baskets (illegal baskets), tottered three distinct silhouettes. Two towered glumly around a third which skittered about crazily on the floor, shaking its sharpened fingers in the air.

"No," answered one of the bodyguards. Titan Blue. She looked very uncomfortable in the narrow passage, despite somehow being nearly half of her normal height. "Stop acting like a brat. You're making a scene."

"YOU'RE MAKING A SCENE! Blah, blah, blah, blah!" Doc picked up a basket and hurled it into another stall. "Do you know how aggrieved I am?! My timetable is RUINED! I should be home by now! I should be dissecting by now! Instead... instead I'm bargaining with fools -"

"Not their fault you used your fast track," Titan Blue replied. "Will you hush? You've already got the guy. Stop freaking out. We're having enough trouble without -"

I didn't hear any more. I was too busy holding Libby back. She was trying to rush at them. She clearly came to the same conclusion I did.

After calming her down, we retreated. Found a back alley that wasn't currently in use and discussed the situation. It seems pretty clear-cut: Doc, the guy... Non, says Libby... who snuck into Pubton previously, is here. He's trying to - or already has - captured Dragomir. The chances are pretty good that he hired the bounty hunters. For some reason, though, they can't leave town.

I'll bet on the army outside being a big reason for that.

Libby and I have taken shelter for the night in the same alley where we first stopped. There's a delightful dirty mattress to sleep on, and we're taking watch shifts to make sure nobody stops by and robs us blind. I keep thinking of how nice my room at the inn is, especially considering how we've already paid for it and all.

But Libby won't leave the black market. And if I try to take off, she's going to charge into the fray solo. Can't let her do that. This twitchy-ass woman is going to be the death of me.

Goddammit. Can't things be simple with this crew? Just once?


Bora the Bartender


  1. This reminds me of adventuring parties in a good role-playing campaign.

    1. The endless squabbling? Sounds like campaigns I've played in, fo sho.