Faren shook his head sadly at me, then went off to his religious revival meeting. Eventually the pounding subsided, and I went downstairs to the common room. Thos-Ki hadn't managed to make it down yet, but Fabada had returned from his night of revels and auditions. He was telling Kava about it.
"How did I do?" he crowed. "Did I get a part? Let me tell you about it. I took a rowboat out to the Wayfarer
--that's the troupe's ship--and found that they had a number of openings. A number of the eladrin had drunkenly teleported home from an aftershow party...."
"Why did they do that? Ever since the emperor died, if anyone teleports, they burst into flame."
"Like I said, drunk. So there were some open roles. I go up to this guy, Giorgio, and I say, I don't know what the play is, but I want the lead. You won't regret it, I won't regret it, the audiences won't regret it. He says to me, he says, 'It's Trial of Toteth Topec. Do you know it? It's a lot of dialogue,' as if he thought I didn't have much experience. 'Dialogue?' I tell him. 'Good sir, that corny old hack work? I specialize in interpretive acrobatics.' And I proceeded to crit the audition." Fabada began to leap and tumble around the room. "Like that! Ha! And that!" His somersault turned into a handspring into a swing off the chandelier. "And that jump right now? That was not the greatest leap in the world. That was just a tribute. A tribute to the greatest audition in the world. Sheena, the guildmaster herself
, gave me the lead. They're giving me a per diem, or should I say, a per daaayum, of five gold pieces a day. I just have to go to rehearsal every day, and then there are the performances, of course." We nodded appreciatively, and asked for comp tickets for opening night.
Fabada, Kava and I went for a walk around the town while Thos-Ki was still indisposed. A plume of smoke directed us to another suspicious fire. By the time we got there, the bucket brigade had things well in hand, and there was no one in the abandoned building to rescue. Many onlookers were muttering that the refugees were starting these fires, but nobody had a description of this particular arsonist.
Kava wanted information about the missing dragon eggs, so we went to the Lyceum. Thos-Ki was up by this time and had rejoined us. Our trip was largely a bust. The dragon lived in the swamp, we learned, but we already knew that. Fabada mentioned that he was going to find the person who stole the eggs and was gonna stab him in the gut. Or was it Kava who said that?
Following that, we still had a bit of time before Fabada had to beg off for his audition. We decided to stop at the Blue House on Oyster Square to make contact with this Jess of the Gate Pass Resistance that Thos-Ki was told about. Kava and Thos-Ki were pretty sure it was going to be a trap, but we could use the exercise. The one-story house was quiet. No people coming in or out. We couldn't spy anyone through the windows. I gave a few coppers to a street urchin for the story. He said that a smith used to live in there, but moved out a while ago. Then there were some other people that went in there and also left, but that was also a while ago. I tried the Official Gate Pass Resistance Knock on the door, but didn't get the Official Gate Pass Resistance Counterknock in reply. Eventually Fabada and I bungled our way into the house. I left some silver on the windowsill to pay for the damage. We searched the house. We didn't find anyone. There was unbroken dust over everything, from statues of the Smith-God to the floor (first floor and cellar floor) to the inner room with a few bedrolls rolled up. There weren't any of the coded signs we used in the Resistance, either. The only thing we found that indicated anyone had been there was this, near the room with the bedrolls.
A dragon? The initials W W and X X? Kava thought maybe the dragon's tail was an arrow; perhaps the graffiti was a clue to the eggs. It didn't seem to be Official Gate Pass Resistance code. I scribbled a coded message indicating the date and that a fellow Gate Pass Resistance member was staying at the Seaside Inn. Then we left. That was odd. It was almost as if the man who spoke to Thos-Ki, who was so oddly well-informed about our party, was giving us incorrect information.
Fabada left for the harbor and his rehearsal space. We were walking back to the Inn when the press of the crowd turned decidedly panicked. "Monster! Fire! Monster, and Fire! Run! Run, if you value your life!" Then the crowds had pushed past us, and we were left on a deserted street. Smoke was wafting out of the window of a general store. There was a giant chicken pecking through the dirt and gravel, near three men frozen in place. Cockatrice!
That thing could turn us into stone! We ducked behind a wagon, then ran into an alleyway for a brief team huddle. We compared what we knew about these things. Apparently if it looked at you or touched it, you would petrify. You didn't have to make eye contact, so the dire ostrich defense wouldn't work here. I was going to grab the tarp that was on top of the wagon. Kava was going to duck into the general store and look for chicken feed, or bird seed, or something that would distract it. We knew that bird-monsters couldn't resist piles of birdseed
. Thos-Ki would bravely sacrifice the crocodile foot-steaks he had been saving for a special occasion. While it was good and distracted, I would wrap it up with the tarp.
And break! Kava ran past the disinterested cockatrice into the shop. Thos-Ki heaved out his delicacy. I grabbed the tarp and retreated to the alley. Thos-Ki and I were joined by two frightened militiamen. They asked if we had it under control. We allowed that we did, but I told one of them to fetch a wizard from the Lyceum to take this thing away, and the other one should get a cleric, someone who could un-petrify people. They took off, looking relieved, leaving us with the monster.
Where was Kava with that feed? The cockatrice was almost done pecking away at the crocodile feet!
Part 2 in a bit. Maybe tomorrow.