The Fall of Faith

Wondrous Box

Jaq’r is spending a late evening in one of the local taverns he’s come to favor. He likes this place as rabble tend to avoid it and it is frequented by the more influential lot. It’s a place where much information can be gained in more ways than one. Even the well to do will think twice before making trouble in here.

It has been a rather slow evening and the shadowed man is almost the only one left. Suddenly, a loud bang comes from the door as it opens. A figure of a Halfling man appears, his eyes wide with grief and terror. He spits out blood as Jaq’r notices the business end of an arrow sticking out from the man’s chest. A second later, another arrow appears through his head spilling blood all over the floor. The figure drops, the door being kept ajar by his legs. What appears to be a small square Box falls out of his hand and rolls toward Jaq’r’s leg. No one seems to notice the it aside from him as the carnage is a bit overwhelming.

The bar keep, Russ runs in from the kitchen and runs over to the dead Halfling. The thief knows him by now and knows he’s been around for a long time. He’s seen his share of ugly things, so even this is not beyond his ability to deal with. He motions to one of the servants to go for help, who then disappears. As Jaq’r looks at the wounds he can tell right away that they were done by an expert marksman. Russ looks at him and says, “I’m sorry, but it looks like we are now closed. You can take the back entrance if you wish.” The shadowed man knows this is a courtesy he is extended as a regular customer. The guards will soon show up and it is not a place he want to be in, when people start asking questions. It’s not that he’s guilty, he just doesn’t like that sort of attention.

Jaq’r slips out the back door and makes his way through the cobble streets holding the Box in hand, when suddenly it jerks and falls to the floor. As if the night couldn’t be any stranger, six small legs come out of the box and it starts to scurry away from at a quick pace. The thief runs after it through small dark alleys until it stops at an archway. It’s a big city. He’s never been in this particular area before, so he doesn’t really know exactly where he is right now. The Box shakes and the archway fills with what seems to be a pool of water, shimmering in the moonlight. The box quickly jumps through the water as Jaq’r leaps after it.

Comments

This tavern is a pleasant enough place. There is a quality to the light and heat that strikes a chord in this man. There is a memory of home campfires and the light as it radiated on the faces of beloved families and friends. The light here is not that long-ago light, but it is not far from it.

Russ is a sweet enough soul, curmudgeonly but sane and sure. He has a strength in him that speaks of his long, long history, his miles and scenes and loves and losses. He is a good soul, and to be admired for that. His bar is a neat enough place, tucked as it is against a series of hostels near the trade-centric part of town. The man calling himself Jaq’n knows Russ’ cudgel is close to hand beneath the bar, a gnarled stout branch with one side studded with a few wrought iron spikes. Iron is strong, powerful magic and good against the evils of faerie.

The hearthfolk man came staggering through the doorway. The rogue slid his silver-chased dagger back into his boot-top, the sounds of frantic entry explained, and no danger clearly visible. This one was already dead, from his look and the sharp pounding of his heart. Russ vaults the bar, cudgel near-magically revealed and rushes to the side of the newcomer, even before the final arrow arrives. The rogue distantly notes that it is a clothyard shaft that did for the halfling, something not terribly common here in Cibola. Russ murmurs something and the rogue asks him to repeat himself, as the thoughts were instead on secreted the fallen treasure from the dead man’s hand. Such things which comprise the final moments of mens’ lives often turn out to be crucial to the witnesses and cannot be forgotten.

The bar-man mentions the rear exit, and the rogue calling himself Hahhr, leaves the ghost of a smile and a spinning electrum piece as his seat and quickly exits. He will return in a few days to commiserate with Russ and see how the events unfolded. There is clearly another master archer afoot, and the rogue is most curious now to understand who the being is, what its intents are, and why the hearthfolk man had to die. To witness is to concur, and the rogue takes his stances very seriously now.

Thinking on the hearthfolk man again, Jaq’n draws forth the box just in time to catch the miniature porticos opening and minute legs extending. Somewhat shocked, he allows the object to escape, and mentally promising himself penance, he charges after it, as silent as a falcon on the wing, his cloak streaming out billows of out-of-place mist.

The object scurries through an archway and vanishes. Although seeming human, the man called Jaq’n is thoroughly IN-human and thus his vision should not have failed him in his pursuit, But it has. The archway itself roils and seems to thrum with quiet midnight blue power. The rogue hesitates and touches the keystone, feeling eldritch energy at work, something he knows absolutely nothing of.

He turns, his cloak swirling, and in his mind he again seeing the clothyard shaft piercing the heartfolk man, and his last dying breath. His hand unclenching and the box rolling free. And reminds himself that the last acts of good men can be crucial to everyone around them. He snarls beneath his mask, angry with himself and slips through the arch, never arriving at the other side of the dusky alley in Cibola.

Wondrous Box
JungleJuice

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