Bad Bribes


The weather was warm and sunny in Healey, especially for this early in the spring. It was just the kind of day he enjoyed, feeling the thick humidity off of the lakes reminded him of the warm summers back home in Blackfin Mire.  He walked through the streets with his hood up to maintain some semblance of anonymity, as he found his handsome reptilian face often drew stares this far north. Still, he took every opportunity to stop and soak in the sun's warmth. 

The morning traffic was just reaching its peak as he stepped from the alley and slammed into a human man nearly a half foot taller than he. Rhask was thrown to his ass in the dirt by the impact.

     "Watch where you're going!" the man said, without even looking.

     "S-so S-sorry, S-sir," Rhask replied, picking himself up. "S-so s-sorry."

As the ignorant meat walked away Rhask checked his palm, dropped the 17 copper he'd just acquired into his purse, and continued on his way toward the administration building ahead. There was always easy, distracted prey near grand buildings like these. He skirted the edge of the crowd; watching for potential marks, then paused to pretend to re-tie laces on boots he wasn't even wearing. From this lower vantage, Rhask evaluated the crowd some more, watching for loosely hug purses; unwatched items or children. He overheard two men arguing quietly, just around the corner from him.

     "Please! It's all I have, just … let him go! er, uhh … ah ..say he escaped! Please! You know he won't get a fair trial." A male elf begged, reeking of desperation. He jammed a burlap bag, that clinked with the promise of coin, into the man's hands. The other, a human who looked plump and delicious in the armor of the local guards, peered into the bag that had been shoved into his hand and turned to walk up the stairs to the back door of the building.

     "Fine! but if he just 'happens' to get shot in the back, that's on you!" the guard snickered.

     "YOU SON-of a  … " The desperate Elf-meat lunged at the guard, grabbing him around the throat and strangling him. "You can take my money, but you won't take my husband from me!"  There was a quiet crack and the human-meat went limp. The Elf-meat looked around, suddenly panicked. Not seeing Rhask, he drug the body into the bushes, of the building and dropped him. Ten picking up the burlap sack, he scurried behind the building. 

Rhask rose and moved to the guard's body, careful not to be seen, and pulled 13 silver from its pockets before following the desperate prey behind the building. He fully expected to have to track it by scent, and he anticipated the hunt, but when he rounded the building the imbecile was just leaning against the wall panting heavily. Seeing Rhask, the desperate meat flew into full panic, produced a short sword, and lunged.

The wild attack was easily dodged and our hero countered with his dagger, slashing a deep wound in its stomach. The prey turned to flee and he drew the dagger across its calves, splitting the fabric but not breaking the skin. As the human ran down the alley, Rhask threw the dagger it into the fleeing prey's back. He dropped to the ground with barely a sound.

The Reptilian dragged the Elf-meat into some long grass under one of the stilted buildings. He sat there in the dirt, pillaging the body while he tore large bites from its soft abdomen. In the burlap sac, he found a mass of coins, including a block of platinum. On the meat, he found a note wrapped around a spell scroll, which he slipped into his pouch without reading. He then took the prey's shortsword as his own and crawled out from under the building on the opposite side, to rejoin the crowds on the street. 



He kept his head down and moved swiftly north, putting as many blocks as possible between himself and his breakfast. The edges of Demon's Borough were lined with handmade signs and barricades warning that the area was under construction but that the shops were open for business. As he stepped past a simple sawhorse-style barricade with just such a sign on it, Rhask looked East. Between the buildings and stalls, he caught glimpses of the cloudless sky where the forty-foot high Eastern wall should have been. The streets here were less busy due in part to the damage to block after block of demolished buildings in a jagged semi-circle equal in size and shape to the sixty-foot-long gaping hole in the wall. He easily moved toward the damaged area of the district, winding through alleyways until the wreckage and rubble came into view. 

Standing at the edge of an alleyway, Rhask surveyed the destruction. He had seen the smoke and even a few of the flying monstrosities from as far away as Blackfin. He did not know then that Zeiram the Lich had sent an army to besiege the city, it had been the twin full the meteor and the moon that had drawn him from his home. Now, standing in the rubble, the stench of death and fear still lingering in the air nearly a month later, Rhask was glad he'd come. 

The area before him was a wasteland of brick, lumber, and thatch. Every building which had previously been within a hundred-foot radius of the impact point had been flattened or bowled over by any number of the thousand-pound bricks that had toppled when the wall collapsed. Five guards, two outside the wall and three in, monitored a crew of about twenty men and women actively working at patching the wall with a wooden fence. Crows and rats picked at corpses half buried and in the center of the rubble, an elderly halfling man walked between the massive stones, tapping a cane on them and waiting for a response before moving on to the next, occasionally calling out the name 'Gladys' in a hoarse voice.

Rask moved along the edge of the destruction, staying out of earshot from the guards, in the area where the buildings were damaged but not destroyed. He had barely moved when he heard a scream from inside a small building ten feet away. Rhask looked toward the guards at the wall to see a few of the guards and workers look in his direction. At the back of the building, the scream had come from he saw a door yanked open by a human female before being grabbed about the throat and mouth by an older, heavy-set man who pulled her from the doorway but, on seeing Rhask stopped and waited to see what the reptilian would do.

Rhask looked back to the guards, two of which had begun the difficult trek across the debris field. Rhask whistled to get their attention and when they looked at him, he waved them off. They raised their hands in a half-shrug as if waiting for more information.

"Startled by a rat!" He hollered across the dusty clearing and motioned over his shoulder with his thumb toward the ally he had just come from as if there had been someone behind him a moment earlier. Unconvinced, the guards continued forward. Rhask made, what he thought was a very human performance of returning back down the alley he'd come from, saying "Where did you go?"

He circled around to the street side of the building where he'd seen the man & woman struggling. There was no one on the street as Rhask approached the single-story timber and brick building, with two stained glass windows. The sign above the windows read Beni's Armour & Shields and the sign on the door read Open. As He opened the door to Beni's, he caught sight of an elderly Elven man coming around the corner onto the street. He had a white beard that hung past his belt and a peculiar mustache that was groomed into six curled ends, resembling an octopus. In his hand, he carried a burlap bag that clinked as it moved. The bag caught on some broken boards sticking out from a tall house damaged by debris. The bag tore open, and several vials spilled out onto the street, a few of them breaking into colored clouds about him as he clambered to collect the rest.

Inside Rhask locked the deadbolt on the door and changed the sign to Closed. Outside the old man, shouted to someone further down the street, "Numiah, my Love, What are you doing here?" He continued toward them moving far enough away that Rhask could not see him. 

The shop was decorated with dwarf-wrought iron furnishings and was brightly lit by magical candles and chandeliers. An intricately carved counter stood in the middle of the room, supporting a few books and papers, a quill and ink pot, and a brass bell. Behind the counter, an open archway lead down a ten-foot hall, at the end of which was a door to each side. The door to the right was slightly ajar and from it, he could hear muffled whimpers and an angry man's voice. "...think you can leave ME!?

Rhask slunk down the hall and peeked through the narrowly open door. The room appeared to be a one-room apartment, but he could not see the figures inside. He quietly backed out to the storefront and fit himself with a simple wooden shield off of the floor. Then he pulled a crowbar from his belt, took cover outside the archway to the hall, and rang the bell.

"FUCK!" He heard from the back room, then quiet mumbling, The door creaked open, and heavy booted footsteps approached. A cheerful male voice rang out "Good Day, Good Day! How may I be of Ser..."

Natural 20

As the man stepped through the archway Rhask brought the crowbar down upon him, and the man crumpled to his knees with a heavy thud. He turned to Rhask dazed and was knocked unconscious by a heavy, scaled fist.

He quietly moved to the back room and held up the shield as he opened the door. The one-room apartment was plain compared to the storefront. It had no windows and held a simple table with a few lit candles and two chairs, a small well-stocked pantry shelf, and a simple wooden bed, upon which the young woman lay. Her hands were bound together and then to the headboard, as were her feet, and an empty burlap sack covered her head. At the foot of the bed hung another length of rope, beneath which sat a large foot locker and in the corner was another small table with a wash basin and pitcher; under which sat a metal pail whose scent was disturbing.


Beni awoke screaming in pain, the sound muted by the burlap sack stuffed into his mouth. As his eyes adjusted to the room, he realized that everything was upside down and it took him several more moments to reconcile this new vantage point. Once affected, Beni saw his Reptilian attacker for the first time. 

Rhask watched as a pool of piss formed between the Elven meat's legs and spilled off the table, to which he was bound. 

Beni again tried to scream through his burlap gag. Rhask grasped Beni's face with a clawed hand and held a finger to his blood stained reptilian lips. He moved to the side of the table and bent over the bound man, who lowered his chin and looked down his body to see the reptilian open his jaws and tear a large chunk out of his abdomen. When Beni screamed again, it was less about the pain, shock having already set in, and more about watching himself be eaten alive.

Rhask when about pillaging the apartment, stepping away from the table so Beni could see that the woman was still bound to the bed as he'd left her, but her hood had been removed and she stared back at him with tear-stained cheeks and horror in her eyes. 

In the trunk at the foot of the bed, Rhask found a set of fine clothes, a scroll of Wrathful Smite, and a Healing Potion. He took another bite out of Beni's meaty thigh, savoring the metalic flavor of the man's iron heavy blood as he listened to the song of his muffled screams and whimpers. Heading to the front of the shop to scavenge further. He tried on several different pieces of Armor, some quite ornate, but disliked the way they felt against his hide, though he did find a small steel shield with the moons of Sandum and his sister, Brothellad which fit quite comfortably on his off-arm. Beneath the counter, he found a small lock box which he took back to the apartment. He found the key in Beni's pants pocket and emptied the small box of coins and gems into one of his pouches.

Rhask returned to Beni, who was on the verge of death, to finish his lunch. He wiggled a hand into the open cavity in Beni's abdomen, and up under the ribcage. The Elven man's eyes shot open but no screams escaped him as the reptilian hand maneuvered around his lungs, and being careful not to yank or squeeze, grasped the heart and pulled it from his chest. As Beni watched, Rhask drew his dagger and cut the heart free of it's strings.

He moved toward the bed and the crying woman tied there, eating the heart in two bites as if it were a juicy piece of fruit. He climbed onto the bed, slid in close to her, and wrapped his bloody, clawed arms around her, resting his hand on her throat. Her body was warm against his chest and her whimpering breath and racing heart soon soothed him to sleep.


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