The party decided to withdraw with Rametta from the fight, led by Rametta herself. Josette sent her bear to extricate Alexios from the battle. In the two rounds of combat that Alexios and the bear witnessed after the rest of the party left, here’s what they saw:
The stranger whistles and six flying daggers launch from his bandoleer, and begin to harry his attackers, dropping their defense to 2. He begins carving them with each sweep of his sword, stopping only to kill each and every one of the wounded. He is carving everyone between him and her.
Round 1: Mabilla the Mask is on his left. She is caught on a table as she stumbles back. The stranger’s blade cleaves her side and her body pitches to the right, gushing blood. Nick Wynteryngham is in the middle, and desperately tries to parry. A critical hit carves him in two and the stranger takes a slight step back as Nick’s upper half lands facefirst in front of him. Agetio is on his right and though much more skilled than the other two, he fares little better. He manages an attack but the stranger parries it easily, and the tip of the longsword rips along his abdomen, and he drops in pain. A second slash cuts off his left foot, and a third separates his two halves. The stranger’s final attack is to Magge Elvet, whose left hand flies off, accompanied by the dagger that was in it. Magge snarls and prepares to attack.
The youth faces Helewis and Oldio. He cuts Helewis across the chest (minor wound), and then strikes Oldio a major wound in the left arm. Helewis loses his sword as it flies across the room, but Oldio scores a critical hit on the youth’s left arm, and deals a major wound.
Round 2: In Old Imperial, the stranger says, “back” to his companion, and then ease to the right to cover him. The dancing sword follows. The stranger first cuts down Magge, slicing through her right upper leg, and then brings his sword down on Oldio’s helm crushing his skull. Oldio drops immediately. Helewis manages to retreat back through the other men, as they are now milling in confusion. The youth retreats and wraps a scarf around his left arm. The stranger advances. Mylecent Maudevyle is trying to get out of the fight, but she is blocked by Helewis, and her head flies past the eyes of Jeliana Bours. Jeliana’s head follows Mylecent’s. Olyver the Bastard lunges at the stranger, and seems to strike him in the head, but his blade passes harmlessly through the other’s helm, placing him dangerously off balance and in the next second, Olyver’s head is split in two. Cecili Crossby, a fine archer but a poor swordswoman, screams and flees, only to be cut down with a slash to her back.
More graphic bloodshed follows, but the players are not interested in hearing it, which disappoints me as a DM but is perfectly understandable I suppose. The players flee, with Rametta leading them to the main guardhouse where she hopes to take refuge. Of her many guardians, only the players and Reine and Helewis escape alive.
The party decides this is a good time to visit Faerie with Garryan, so they purchase animal masks (Alexios is a Rat Snake, Josette is a Cow, Brendan is a Beagle, and Ian is a Lion) and follow Garryan into the Thieves’ Tunnels that lead from the Maze to Uptown. From there they go to Beleby Manor and climb the wall, avoiding the black ooze that guards the top of the wall. They enter the famous Beleby Gardens but their talking brings Raadrapo the Mad Gardener, who protects the Gardens with his slingblade. Ian and Brendan both make several Speak rolls, convincing Raadrapo that they will not harm the garden, and he grudgingly retreats. The party discovers the hidden passage to Faerie in the gazebo and descend, all except for the bear, who cannot fit.
The party emerges in the Gardens of Cramoisi, the Red Elf city. Garryan warns them of the dangers and tells them to follow him. When Garryan is suddenly eaten (an illusion), Ian continues faithfully on and is apparently eaten as well (another illusion). Brendan takes the bait and steps off the path, right into the clutches of a psionic man-eating plant. Luckily, he had his sword out, and he cuts his way to freedom. After a daffodil barbershop quartet and a tempting purple flower that looks like jewels (from Rappacini’s Daughter by Hawthorne), the party emerges into the Downlow, the lowest of the ten levels of Cramoisi. For your edification, here’s the levels, as described by Garryan:
- “The Exalted is the top level, for the exclusive delight of the Overlord and his guests. Pray you never go there, because you won’t come back, at least in one piece.”
- “The Lord’s Walk is where the city’s leaders live. Nobody I know has ever been there.”
- “The Red Elves live up in Pleasant Hills and above. The Citedal, they call the top three levels. Beautiful they say. A few minstrels have played up there, and they tell tales of the magnificence of the furnishings, the elegance of the ladies, and the unmatched quality of the wines. We’ll never see that place, I assure you.”
- “The Gallery! Oh what I wouldn’t give to get up there! The finest goods from all over Faerie. Weapons of Quality, Demon Blades, Fancy Potions, and Deadly Poisons. Heavily guarded of course. Nobody gets up there up except the Red Elves and the richest of those from the Market. About the only way to get up there from here is to work with one of the merchants from the Market, one that has a license to sell in the Gallery occasionally. And none of them are going to take a chance on losing that license, especially when it would probably mean being drawn and quartered as well.”
- “Oh, you don’t want to go up there. That’s the Towers — giants, ogres, and dragons. It’s always forty feet high or more, but there’s no need of guards. Anyone caught up there just gets eaten.”
- “Ah, the Market! This place is great. Good food, lots of things to buy, and enough guards to keep people civil but not enough to get in the way. Lovely!”
- “The Plains! Yech. The City Guard is everywhere, and those well-off enough are anxious to keep everything they have, and crawl over each other to get higher.”
- “Downmarket. That’s where we’re headed. It’s the lowest of the markets and anything can be purchased here, if they have it. A lot of thieves though, so watch out. Besides the Brambles, this is probably the most dangerous level.”
- “The Jungle is pretty safe — it’s most workers’ homes. There’s lots of poukas, but also a lot of Wee Folk. The Wee Folk are better off than most, ‘cause most of them have a secret passage up to the Gallery or Pleasant Hills. They are constantly fighting against the rats, which is why we don’t see the Glorious Guard much in the Downlow.”
- “The garden is in the middle of the Downlow. That’s the bottom level of the city, or at least the ground level. It is inhabited only by the poorest of Poukas and the Iron Folk. The Brambles is to the southwest, but we definitely don’t want to go there. The Gnoles control that area and hire Geraede to guard it. But Red Elves rarely come down here, so the Downlow is safe, as long as you can take care of yourself and as long as you don’t stir up one of the gangs. There’s bunch of them: The Toughs, the Iron Folk, the Lost, the Fancies, the Fliers, the Hounds, the Outsiders, the Pounders, the Gnawers, the Old Ones, the Ogres, the Pitfiends, the Puffers, the Unseen, and the Glorious Guard. I’ve got an in with the Guard and with the Lost, and of course the Outsiders, but none of them are very strong. The Unseen are no problem. But around the rest, watch your step. You can see the Gardens is the biggest open space up here. It goes up all the way to the Plains, but we can’t get there from here. Too many guards. We’ll work our way up side paths that run along the Causeway. And the garden is pretty dangerous, so people look, but don’t generally visit.”
The party is caught between a gang war between the Fancies and the Iron Folk, but Josette Shapes a door and they escape into the home of an ancient Pig Pouka. Announcing that he is her nephew, Brendan gains her trust and she provides tea and cookies for all of her nieces and nephews. She is amazed that they have visited, since Faeries cannot have children (that’s they they steal human babies), but she figures she must be an amazing pouka. Garryan takes them to the Outsiders, who tell them that the Monaciello named Bubbles has the baby, and is selling him in the Downmarket.
Garryan leads them on to the Downmarket, where they purchase a few items and then track Bubbles to a stall run by a fox pouka. The pouka sees through their disguises and soon they realize that they are merely talking to an illusion. The fox pouka must have been a Red Elf! Garryan flees, leaving the players to their own devices. The party returns to the Pig Pouka, where Ian manages to convince her he is a lion. He is forced to hide silently in the room while the rest of the team enjoys the cookies once more. Brendan finds the location of the Lost (human changelings) in the Downlow from Piggy, and they visit the Lost, where they agree to help the Lost return to Navah if the Lost help them find the baby.
The Lost take them to the Glorious Guard, where the party buys their help with a silver mirror and some string. Shortly thereafter, the Guard reports they have found the stall where the baby is being held, and that Garryan has returned to the Outsiders. The players prepare for an assault on the stall, while Josette sends word to Garryan through the Lost as to what they are about to do. And here we ended for the night.