Forgotten Realms: Birthright
Human Thief Transmuter (Assassin / Involuntary Euthanasia Facilitator).
A very young man with dusky skin and a thick mustache sits to the side of the tavern, his back to the wall. His hair is long and wavy, trailing into the black cowl which was now pulled back and draped over his shoulders. He was looking into the crowd, but not menacingly. In fact his demeanor was rather nonchalant. As you approach he looks at you, with equal disinterest.
“Are you Frak?” you ask.
“Who wants to know?” he said. He had a slight Calimshan accent, but spoke as if he used Common most of his life. Standing in front of him you realize that you can’t see any weapons; his black cloak covered his sides. His right hand sat lightly at a beer stein on the table. His left elbow leaned on the table, but his left hand fell in his lap so it was not visible.
“Someone with coin who would like to spend it.”
Frak paused, seeming to consider. “On what?”
Chapter 1: Childhood
Frak didn’t remember much from his childhood, least of all the birthname he was given. Frak came much later. He remembered a farm. The feeling of loving parents but only hazy faces; vague images of other children, siblings? The summers were warm and the winters tolerable enough to still grow things. Some festivals at a tavern (always the same one), friendly old folk, a sense of community and tranquility. But around the age of 6 or 7 (as much as he could gather) this all changed when raiders burned the farm and killed everybody, except Frak. The details were gone about that night. Hauled off by the raiders he ended up sold as a slave to a silver mine. There began his first real memories. Memories that would only surface unwarranted in his nightmares if he could help it.
As in most slave mines existence is constant misery. Many children suffered alongside Frak, as they could crawl into places the adult slaves could dig up but could not enter. There was routine: a day in the shaft then a day processing silver in the smelting camp. Once a tenday was a holy day, where a priest would lecture them in the morning about the honors and otherworldly rewards of praying to Jergal and the eternal burning hell that would await anyone who would seek escape by suicide. A paltry threat given the hell they lived, where the beatings and rapes were constant. It was sure to deter some, but it did not deter all. A day did not go by when Frak did not see a body being hauled away out of the pits along with the silver, or help clean up the bloody mess of a creative suicide after sermons. (Holy day did not mean rest after sermons, as the camp still needed to be cleaned, so often the gruesome remains may have had to wait wherever the poor bastard left himself until holy day.) Anyone who fell asleep during the sermon would be whipped to death by the priest himself. Once a man simply keeled over dead during the sermon, and the priest still whipped the body to a bloody stain on the flagstones that Frak had to clean up himself. A continuous stream of new faces replaced the dead. Frak survived by learning to avoid the gaze of the overseer as much as he learned to accept the cruelty of life; a life as cruel as the former life he could not remember was compassionate. The many months, perhaps many years, passed where he only thought of himself as ‘slave’, if he thought at all.
Frak did not remember the incident that set him off, if it was violence to him or to someone else. It was all a red blur when it happened, but some injustice was too much to bear and he snapped. Frak had killed five overseers before he was stopped. He had made his way across the work camp intent on murder rather than escape, until he came to a figure in rich black robes with silver piping unlike any clothing he had ever seen, even grander than the priest’s. The figure’s back was turned to Frak as it was talking to another overseer; no matter, any person who was friendly to an overseer deserved death. Frak charged the figure’s back and as he lifted his bloody dagger his body was lifted off the ground; his first contact with magic. Momentum brought him hovering slowly to the robed figure. The figure raised a hand and the overseer stopped talking. Frak came to a halt just out of arm’s reach of the figure and it turned to face him. It wore a black mask, but said nothing. Frak’s murderous energy waned as he hung helpless in the air, but he threw his dagger at the mask anyway. The figure moved its head briefly to the side and the dagger flew over its shoulder, clunking on the floor behind. Frak heard some overseers burst through the door behind him but he couldn’t turn his head far back enough to see them. They were shouting about how the slave had killed them all, then fell silent as the robed figure started to nod. The figure turned back to the other overseer and said with a voice that was disturbingly distorted “This one comes with me.” It then turned and walked to a cart already loaded with barrels of silver ingots. Frak floated silently in tow, always a few steps behind the figure. In total shock that he might be escaping the mines, as he well expected to be dead by now, he caught by happenstance the eyes of the remaining overseers as he drifted around a corner. “I’ll kill you all,” he mouthed.
Chapter 2: Adolescence
It was a long journey of many days over land and water to the next chapter of his life. As uncomfortable as sleeping under a cart was (the figure who never removed their mask slept in the covered wagon) it was an enormous relief and Frak did not press his luck to challenge his rescuer. Travel rations which were bland to any soldier were a luxurious feast for Frak’s gruel-spoiled tastes. One day when Frak figured they were far enough from the mines that he would not be sent back, he ventured to ask some questions of where they were going and who the figure was. The figure only said in that distorted voice “to the Guild”. No more answers were forthcoming. They finally reached a castle in the mountains. No flags flew on the parapets. Grande doors opened into a long hall. The cart stopped, and more figures in similar black and silver robes but unmasked approached. Frak was taken to a bathhouse and was told to clean himself and thus began his education in the Guild of the Red Death.
There were two types of people at the guild. Those who wore black robes, sometimes with and sometimes without the sigil of the guild embroidered on their chest: a red skull with bat wings. These were teachers, administrators, and what was called Operators. Operator was the term for those who carried out the main task of the guild: to meet out death. The other roles in the guild were Operators who had retired from field work, so they claimed. There were some who never removed their guild masks. These guild masks had masterly constructed reverberation chambers in front if the mouth, so that any who spoke had the same eerie deep guttural sound to their voice. Then there were those in grey robes, in training to become full guild members. Those in grey were of various ages, but none much younger than Frak and none older than being able to grow a full beard. All were humans of various hues, girls and boys, and all were given the name Stand and a number. Frak was Stand 306. This was the first name that Frak could remember having, as previously he was only ‘slave’ and before that was lost to time. The elder Stands took charge of the younger Stands in organizing the menial duties of a home, as there were no servants in the guild. Frak was content for the first time in a long time.
Frak was introduced to a new world of learning. Arithmetic, geography, history, languages, theology and the like rounded out a general education. More specialized classes directly related to the guild’s craft were poisons, anatomy, thievery, magic, fighting and murder. Exams were held to advance in the lessons, and it was in one of the first exams that Frak received his second name. It was common that the Stands gave each other nicknames from their shared experiences. Hanging onto the ceiling with his shuko directly above the teacher who played the intended target, the bloody nose he got fighting into this room dripped blood right onto the book the teacher was reading. The teacher looked up and said “You failed, Stand 306.” It would not be the last failure, but to the other Stands he would always be known as Drip.
Years later Frak’s final exam would be held to graduate Stands to Operators. By then he had needed to shave regularly for almost a year. He had witnessed the graduation exam every year and it was no less harrowing each time. The Stands were set against each other in a match to the death in an arena, the Chief Operator presiding. This was the only time the Chief Operator, who wore a white mask, was seen by Stands. The purpose of killing their comrade was two-fold: weed out the weak and to inure the guild member to taking a life, no matter what the personal feelings about that life were. Frak went into the exam with no hesitation to kill whomever he was set against, but his determination to live did not save him from a fatal misstep. Frak saw the blade thrust under his guard at the same moment he realised he had misjudged his foe’s faint. He felt the blade connect with his belly, then cut into his guts. The pain was accented by the shock of realizing mistake. His mind raced through the possibilities of recovery and retaliation. Before he could take any decision his mind started to fog. He recognized the effect of a fast working poison and tried to identify it but all went black before he even fell to the ground.
Frak woke in pain; more from being bumped and banged around the bed of a cart than from any wound. He sat up in surprise and felt his stomach; nothing, no wound or mark. He looked at the driver of the cart, dressed in an Operators field garb. The Operator looked back over his shoulder. “Ah, you are awake, Drip.” The voice was distorted by the mask. “Relax, it’s been a few days; everyone thinks you are dead and buried. There’s food and water next to you. Rest, you are still weak from the poison. You have a long road ahead.” Frak knew better than to ask who the Operator was, if he had the mask on he would get no answers. After a few day’s journey they reached a port town. Frak did not know which, for he had never been out of the castle since arriving and in all his geography lessons they never revealed the location of the guild. Such knowledge was only for Operators. They rode right up to the gangplank leading onto a caravel. “The men aboard have been instructed not to say a word to you. Go. The captain will tell you when to disembark.” Frak was handed a weighty backpack. “It’s got all you need to survive. Remember, you owe us for this gift, Drip. You’ll be called upon one day to repay this life.”
“I thought you said everyone at the guild thinks me dead?” responded Frak.
“Heh. Well, almost everyone.” The Operator hesitated. “Oh! You’ll need this.” Pulling off the mask revealed the face of a lady, her skin a light olive brown like his own, a rather indistinct face with a short nose and dark brown, almost black eyes. The eyes had a slight slant to them, very much not like his own. Frak did not recall ever seeing her in the guild. She handed him the mask.
“But only Operators can carry the mask,” Frak objected.
“You’re in the real world now, Drip. The rules here are slightly more….versatile than in the castle. Congratulations… Operator 306,” she smiled as she added the last. It was not a pleasant smile at all. “Now move it.” Frak climbed the gangplank and sought his bunk.
Chapter 3: Freedom
The journey took almost two tendays. Sometimes no land was visible, sometimes land was visible on only one side and sometimes on both sides. Sometimes they sailed west, sometimes east, and Frak was at a total loss as to where in the world they may be. He did enquire once with the captain as to their destination. “I will tell you this one thing, so you don’t look the fool when you land. We are bound for Marsember. You will disembark and then I leave. Now shut up, your curiosity is not worth my life.” For the first time in Frak’s life, he was his own man. Free to sail his own course once he landed, at least until the guild, or whomever, came calling. The journey gave him ample time to think about what he would make of it.
Frak stayed in Marsember just long enough to cut enough purses to book passage across the Dragonmere. He had no intention of staying where the guild could find him. His days at sea with no distraction let him contemplate his past as he had not before, free from the needs of survival or expectations of his surroundings. He realized that he felt no obligation to the guild; he owed them nothing. They may think they saved his life (twice) but they were complicit in the slave mine’s existence and slavery created the demand for raiders to destroy peaceful homes such as his. In addition it seemed that elements within the guild worked at cross purposes, or at least illicitly from each other. Given Frak’s knowledge of guild history, he knew how dangerous these people could be, especially regarding debts. He decided he would steer clear of them. Within a few days he booked passage to Teziir.
Once in Teziir, Frak decided to shed his identity as Drip; he did not want the guild to track him in any way. Feeling around his pouches, amongst ingredients for poisons and thiefcraft he felt a nugget of frankincense. Yes, that will do for now: Frak. Frak let his beard grow out for the first time, it came out a surprising tint of red around the chin. He also let his hair grow long which he previously kept cut quite short. Teziir was a city of merchants, loosely organized for security but with little centralized authority, a perfect place to blend in. What military or gaurd there was was spread amongst different factions. Within a few days Frak found an empty shack in shantytown on the south side which had not looked used for months, but was locked so no one seemed to have noticed. His first place to call his own. If the owners came back, well he would deal with it then; he changed the lock in any case.
Frak knew that he could not advertise his services as a hired killer without getting attention of whatever underground organization operated here, and he could not risk them having ties to the guild. He started to get some income with picking pockets and light burglary, just enough to get by without gaining attention so he could get his bearings. He also made sure to target those who he felt deserved the loss. Violent criminals, corrupt merchants and the like. A few of the muggings of particularly vile targets lost their life in addition to their purse. It was a few months into this activity that Frak was on a rooftop seeking targets in the docks quarter by a particularly seedy inn when he heard a woman’s scream cut through the night. It was already a couple of bells past midnight so it was quiet and only a few night businesses left open, little din to mask the noise. He bounded over a few alleys taking him to a shoreside tavern, to find below him a woman being held down by two men, one was in the process of trying to get her clothes off but seemed to be having trouble with some complicated undergarments. Frak’s mind raced back the rapes in the mines and thought one thing: these men must die, now.
Frak tied his rope to the roof gutter directly above them and rappelled head first down the two stories that brought him within weapons reach. He could smell the booze on them from here. The men were too engaged with the women to notice, one holding down her shoulders and head practically suffocating her and the other forcing himself between her legs. Frak, still suspended by the rope, unsheathed his kukri and chopped the side of the neck of the assailant forcing himself on the woman. It bit all the way to the spine, the blade’s wide belly cutting his windpipe before he could scream. Frak twisted forwards and pulled the kukri back and up against the man’s chin, the kukri’s curve angeleing a wide gash that sprayed blood outwards to the face of the other man, just in time to blind him as he looked up to see what the disturbance was. The man shouted in surprised and let go of the woman to rub the blood from his eyes as he stood up. In that moment Frak let go of the rope, dropped to his feet over the woman and stabbed the kukri into the belly of the man, curve rotated up so that it would gouge more organs in the torso. It was not a really a stabbing weapon, but it did give Frak a satisfying feeling as it sank into flesh, tearing muscles wider apart as the width of the blade increased. Frak covered the man’s mouth with his free hand to muffle any noise of the scream as he pulled the weapon out. Guts and blood spewed forth from a frightfully large vertical gash right onto the still prone woman’s face, who was only just struggling to come to grips with the open necked corpse bleeding over her bosom. The muffling hand was not even necessary as the man let out a comically high pitched croak and fell backwards. Death be like that, sometimes. Both men died never having seen their killer.
Frak stepped back and pulled the woman to her feet lest she choke on the shit stinking offal covering her. Her eyes looked disbelieving at him, large white saucers with pale blue irises in a mask of blood. “What’s your name?” Frak asked, with his guild mask still on: to the woman the reverberated voice must have sounded like death incarnate come for her. She fainted.
By the time the woman came to, Frak had dumped the bodies in the sea and cleaned her face with his water flask. He had taken his mask off against his better judgement but he did not want to scare her again. Anyway, he doubted that she would testify against him for the murders, should enquiries be made. Her clothes were a total loss. He pulled a hand full of silver from his pouch and put it in her hands. “Sorry about the dress.”
“Oh. Thank you. I-” She looked at his face properly for the first time. Her stressed features seemed to relax. “I’m a mess.” She clenched the silver. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. You are unhurt I think, but in no state to be alone at night in this neighborhood. Where can I take you so you can recover?” asked Frak. She gestured to the wall she was leaning against and let out a nervous laugh.
“That’s my inn,” she said. “Help me around the back, I can’t go through the front looking like this.” They entered a door that let into a shed full of buckets, mops and the like, then crossed through another door into a kitchen. She gestured towards an open hall beyond. “Please, make yourself comfortable. There’s still a flagon of ale on the counter. Help yourself. I’ll get cleaned up and then join you in a moment.” Frak sat at the end of the counter so he could see the whole hall. It was a fairly simple inn: tables and chairs, no podium. The only thing of note was an ornate tarnished silver shield bolted to the brick chimney stack over the fireplace. The hall was now empty, but dishes and cups still littered the tables. Frak sniffed at the ale, then took a cautious sip. Passable.
Shortly the woman appeared, carrying a tray of bread and jams. She had washed her hair and changed. Frak saw that she had light auburn hair, cut practically to her shoulders. A fair complexion with the beginnings of crows feet by her eyes, thin lips but no frown lines yet. He judged her to be around 40. Her eyes were bloodshot, it looked like she had been crying. She sat next to him and placed the tray. “Those two you killed were the last customers. I kicked them out, but I suppose they did not take lightly to that. I was taking out the garbage when…I don’t know how to thank you. This is what’s left of today’s bread. I have cheese… and uhm….” She was rambling and looked like she was going to cry again.
“Don’t worry about it. You owe me nothing. Those men died because the needed to.” He changed the subject quickly to avoid any more tears. “So what’s your name? You run this place alone?”
“With my father and brother. They are both out fishing now”
“In the middle of the night?”
“Largemouth bass is best caught in the deepest night, when they are not spooked by the noise of shipping and the colorful lures look all the brighter in moonlight.” She smiled. Her voice had a singsong rhythm and she was not at all unpleasant to look at. “You are not from the Dragoncoast, obviously.” She held out her hand, “My name is Iefke.” Frak shook it.
“Frak,” he said.
“An Illuskan name, like mine. Funny, you don’t look Illuskan,” she said incredulously. Shit. Oh well, he made a decision, he’ll stick with it.
“It’s a nickname,” he added. “In my line of work you can’t be too careful.”
“And what work is that, Frak? Butcher?”
He gave it some thought. “Well, yeah, basically.” He gave a bitter chuckle. Her smile faded hearing it. Hrrrrn. “So, it’s a nice place. I like the shield. Has it got a name?”
“Bilda’s Bass,” she said. “Named after my mother. I cook the bass now, but the name stuck.” She looked at him sardonically. “I can’t believe I was rescued by a mere boy.”
“Hey, I’ve got a beard.”
“Ha! Barely. Not what I am used to in my family. Speaking of devils…” She looked towards the front door as it opened and two men came through, both with polls on each should and six large fish hanging from each poll. One was quite elderly but obviously still fit, the other was middle aged and tall. Both had dark blond beards roughly braided. The eldest saw Frak.
“Iefke, varför finns det fortfarande en kund här?”
“Det är okej, Pappa. Det här är Frak, han räddade mitt liv.” Iefke responded, and proceeded to explain quickly in Illuskan what had happened. Frak couldn’t follow a thing. When she stopped talking the younger one turned to Frak and continued in Common.
“You have our thanks, Frak. A friend of Iefke is a friend of mine. I’m Jorl.”
“Thank you for saving my daughter. My name is Skivpfen,” said the older man, heavily accented. “Jorl, can you put the fish away?” He put the fish polls from his shoulders to Jorl’s, who buckled slightly under the weight but put on a brave face. When Jorl had left the hall, Skivpfen turned to Frak.
“Where did you put the bodies?” This fellow looked like he had lived an interesting life.
“Weighted down with rocks on the sea bed. Don’t worry, I was discreet and the pier I used was not that one.” Frak nodded in the direction of the door. Skivpfen did not seem too impressed.
“The sea will eat through rope and the bodies can still surface here.”
“Who said anything about using ropes?” Frak had gutted them, stuffed stones from the rocky shore into the rib cages and tied it all up with their own small intestine. By the time that the crabs would eat through that, they’ll also have eaten any recognizable features and any buoyancy will have been lost. “Don’t worry, they won’t be found.” He thought it best not to describe the gruesome details to his new host.
“To be able to dispatch two men so proficiently at such a young age…” Skivpfen trailed off, inviting more information.
“I’m efficient.” Frak stood from the bar stool. “It’s near sunrise, I best be going. Thank you for the ale. I’ll leave through the back.”
Chapter 4: The Reaper
A few weeks later Frak came back to Bilda’s Bass, out of curiosity and some loneliness, but through the front as a lunching patron. He found Jorl cleaning up after the morning meal. Jorl was surprised but happy to see him. Skivpfen was out buying stock and Iefke was in the back preparing the fish. Frak indicated he would stay for the midday meal, and chatted with Jorl as he tidied, preferring not to disturb Iefke from her business. The hall started to fill up with sailors, merchants, dock workers and the like, all coming to eat. Jorl and Iefke hurried around to take serve and take coin, and when Iefke came to Frak’s table, she was pleasantly surprised.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came to try the bass.” He gave her the coins he’d counted out while waiting. “And a small ale please.” After the meal and when the hall began to empty (most of the patrons seemed to rush through their meal, eager to get back to their own work) Frak chatted a bit more with Iefke and even exchanged some pleasantries with Skivpfen. After that he would become a regular coming a few times a week. He noticed that there were other regulars who would also arrange meetings with each other at Bilda’s. Apparently this was an information hub, and it was not long until Frak discovered that Skivpfen was a Knight of the Shield, a kind of merchant exchange network that dealt in trade information, and sometimes less savoury information. By now Frak had gained Skivpfen’s trust, and he found that the tarnished silver shield over the mantel was his. A symbol for the patrons to recognize a safe place to discuss matters of money. It was from listening to these conversations and making some enquiries himself that Frak found that a very rich merchant who was known to have made his fortune in slave trade with Thay across the Sea of Fallen Stars was in Teziir. A tenday later this merchant was found garrotted in his own carriage when it pulled up the the Temple of Tymora, ironically. The city was abuzz with the news, so that a few days later when Frak saw Skivpfen, he was pulled aside to the kitchen.
Skivpfen explained that he deduced by marking the people that Frak spoke with over the last tendays that he could well have figured out the schedule of the murdered merchant. “Look, I’m not saying he didn’t deserve it, he was an evil piece of shit, but if I could figure it out, someone else here might too.” Skivpfen was a masterly information broker afterall, Frak was not too surprised he figured it out.
“Slavers die, Skivpfen.” Frak handed the old man a small pouch of coins. “There’s enough gold in there for you to repair the porch and refurbish a new modern kitchen for Iefke.” Skivpfen stood there blinking at the pouch.
“Someone paid you?”
“No. I took that off him, and kept a bit for my own needs. I don’t do contracts for other people. I do what is necessary.” Frak put his hand on Skivpfen’s shoulders. “Don’t worry, I won’t do anything that will bring undue attention to your family or reputation. I promise to be more careful with who I talk to.” After that, Frak would be careful to disguise himself when gaining information at Bilda’s. He shaved his beard to a moustache now, just in case.
In an anarchic merchant city like Teziir there was always some violence, but it was often of the street crime sort, drunkenness or occasionally a hit job, but the hit jobs were commonly limited to one faction or another as they were supposed to act as messages. In the year following, Teziir experienced an increase in oddly random murders. The few witnesses to the murders, rescued survivors usually, spoke of a black shadow with a wicked scythe for a sword and a voice from the Abyss itself. People started talking of The Reaper. Street crime went down, but alertness of the more corrupt officials and merchants went up. Frak’s work sometimes took him further afield, to other cities around the Dragonmere tracking down his prey, cities which also sometimes included a Knight of the Shield, so Frak expanded his information network. The Reaper of Teziir was happy to let the myth grow. It was more likely that should this wild tale reach the ears of the guild, they would consider it some madman as opposed to some organized player they may take an interest in.
Chapter 5: Wanted in Sembia
In this bustling port city of Saerloon it was easy to walk unregarded. Frak had come here chasing a lead on a slave trader, Mart-Shuul, who had briefly visited the Castaway Coast of Dragonmere to procure slaves for trade in the east. Given the reputation of this city, it was not hard to figure out why the trader stopped here. Saerloon was politically unstable, nominaly controlled by a council of merchants who rarely ever met; in truth various guilds, both legit and unscrupulous, kept the city from falling apart. Assasination was commonplace, as the competition amongst factions was very high. Frak’s only worry was that the Red Guild might be operating here, but he put that worry aside to concentrate on business. He arrived in the morning and had calculated by the shipping routes that he had just enough time to strike before the evening tide when the trader would leave again. That means he couldn’t wait for dark. He contemplated some options, likely he would not be able to use a blade or garrote. Poison then. Frak had a vial of Oil of Taggit which only worked if ingested and even then it took a minute to knock someone out. Not ideal for this; he would have to be creative to make it work and he could finish them off once unconscious. With some luck Frak found the ship Mart-Shuul came in on and enquired to his whereabouts. A tavern towards the Dolphin Market is where he was doing business. Frak scoped it out and found it served food which was perfect, but it had a large terrace where on this sunny day most of the patrons were sitting which was not perfect. Frak indeed found him sitting outside, a fat man with grey hair cut close to his head and clean shaven thick jowls sat opposite two men, one in fine purple livery with a thin mustache and the other had the look of hired muscle. Frak went around the back of the tavern to find some way to get to the food, then he came across the laundry hanging on lines and was inspired with a plan to avoid going inside. There were white shirts and aprons hanging. Frak took off his cloak and coat and stashed them under a pile of discarded crates; it didn’t look like anyone was cleaning the piles too often as they had been there a while. It means he would also have to be parted from his weapon and other items, but so be it. He donned the shirt and apron, went back to the terrace and grabbed a tray from an empty table. It was quite crowded so the staff were luckily overworked.
“What can I get you sirs?” he asked in the Common tongue as he stood next to the table where the three men sat.
“Small beer for me,” said Mart-Shuul, not looking up. Frak looked at the muscle, who simply shook his head in refusal. Then Frak looked at the finely dressed man, who looked back suspiciously and paused for a moment. He sensed something amiss, perhaps he frequented this place more often and expected someone else or was put off by Frak’s speech or dress. Frak gave his stupidest smile, playing the idiot.
It seemed to work. “The same for me, please,” he said in a posh accent. Frak gave a short bow and retreated. A quick glance around the terrace allowed him to spy some unused cups and half emptied pitchers, from which he made two drinks and doubled around to the tavern a couple of times to look busy before bringing them to the table. He had already slipped the poison into one of them. Once Mart-Shuul went unconscious, Frak would make a big show of bringing him inside out of the sun but actually take him around the back to cut his throat, and scamper off before anyone was the wiser.
“Here you go, sirs,” placing the drinks on the table. The muscle snatched the cup from Mart-Shuul as if to intimidate him before Frak could ask if they wanted anything else.
“Remember who’s boss around here, Marty,” the muscle said, and downed the cup entirely. Shit. Frak turned to go before the poison would affect him, he didn’t want to be around when the accusations started.
“One moment, boy,” said the gentleman. “I would also like to eat. What is on the menu this noon?” Frak’s mind raced, trying to remember all the food he had spied without turning to look, and counting the minute in his head for the poison to affect.
“We uhm, have pork chops and beans, or uhm fish…”
“What kind of fish?”
Frak hesitated for another moment losing his count, and as he did Mart-Shuul’s neck exploded in a shower of blood all over Frak. Mart-Shuul keeled over onto the table, a crossbow bolt having punched through his neck removing a large chunk of flesh from it; the bolt embedded into the table. Instinctively Frak turned to the direction of the shot, then heard a grown behind him as the muscle fell off his chair. Shit shit shit!
“Assassins!” the gentleman shouted as he jumped up from his chair.
“It wasn’t-” Frak started as he put his hands up turning back, but the gentleman interrupted him barking a word and pointing his finger. What the word was Frak couldn’t tell, because he was already falling asleep.
When Frak awoke from the sleep-spell he was sitting in a chair in what looked like a wine seller, dimly lit through some wide thin windows high against the ceiling. It was still day. His hands were bound behind his back, and in front of him were two men. One was the mustachioed gentleman from earlier, the other wore similar purple finery but had a clean shaven scalp and face. He had a nasty looking scar a handspan long across his right eye, but the eye itself looked uninjured, only blue while the other was brown. Possibly healed. This one spoke first.
“You are under a truth spell. Try not to resist, it will cause immense pain.” Frak said nothing. He knew from his training that the less he gave the less they have to work with. The scarred man gave an exasperated sigh. “Fine. He’s one of those types I guess.”
“The Syndicate doesn’t take interruptions lightly little man,” the other one with the mustache said. “What is your name?”
“Frak,” he spoke without thinking. The truth spell worked, he could tell. He was slightly surprised that he gave this name of all the ones he had in the past. Perhaps because it was the only name he had ever chosen for himself.
“Who do you work for?” asked Mustache.
“That can’t be right. Are you sure it’s working?” asked Scar.
“Yes, of course it’s working!” said Mustache, irritated. He turned back to Frak, “What is
“See? It’s working. Who paid you to kill Marty?”
“Then who is going to pay you?”
“Are….” he hesitated to find his words. ”Are you doing this on credit?”
“Nope.” Frak was beginning to enjoy himself and smiled.
“Why isn’t he in pain?” asked Scar. “We are wasting time. Cast the spell again.”
“I CAN’T cast it again! It’s working, we are just asking the wrong questions.”
“Let me try then,” Scar elbowed Mustache out of the way. “Why did you kill Mart-Shuul?”
“How would an assassin know?” mumbled Mustache.
“Just let him answer! We’ll try everything,” Scar turned back to Frak. “Why did you kill
“Oh, of course you didn’t. Who was your accomplice?”
“I don’t know.”
“Plausible deniability,” Mustache interjected. “These guys are pros. But not pro enough
to not get caught. You messed up Frak. Your poison was too slow or your partner too fast, but either way we have you for as long as we need you.”
“No, you don’t.”
Scar sighed. “Maybe he is an idiot. Let’s start again. What is your relation to
“I tracked him from…” Frak resisted finishing the sentence and winced as a surge of pain
invaded his head. Nevertheless he answered entirely unwillingly “…Teziir.”
“Ah ha! Now we are getting somewhere! Why were you hunting Mart-Shuul from Teziir?”
“Because he needed to die.”
“Was it personal?”
“No, it’s business.”
“What business is it of yours? Why did you take him out?”
“He was garbage. I take out the trash. That’s my business.”
“Gah! He speaks in riddles,” moaned Mustache. “This will take forever. I have business with the Exarch. Keep him talking until he dies of thirst, just get to the bottom of this.”
“Fine,” replied Scar. “Not like I have anything else to do.” Mustache walked around Frak and walked out the door behind him. He heard it shut. Scar meanwhile grabbed another chair and seated himself in front of Frak. “Alright Frak, we’ll do the long way. What is your mission?”
“Oh? And how do you plan to do that?”
“By killing you.”
Scar laughed. “That would seem a difficult thing to do in your position.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Because I am no longer bound.” As soon as he said the words he knew he had to act. Frak had kept a small lock pick and blade on the inside of his belt at the small of his back just for these occasions. His binds were rope which he had been slowly cutting this whole time. Frak leapt up with the blade and slashed at the man’s windpipe to silence him. Blood arched over Frak’s head as the man fall backwards in his chair, sputtering blood and gasping for air as he tried to clutch his throat closed with both hands. Frak straddled him to keep his limbs from noisily flailing about; he’d let the scarred man bleed out or choke on his blood, whatever came first. This would take a minute or two. The man’s eyes had the look of a man knowing they are going to die, pleading in fear, begging words soundlessly escaping his lips. Face to face, Frak could see that the right eye was in fact glass, but of fantastic craftsmanship so that the iris was some faceted blue gem carved around an obsidian stone that was the pupil, all encased in glass. “I’ll take that,” said Frak, and dug his fingers into the eye socket, ripping the item from his skull. A soundless scream erupted from the man and the look of fear was momentarily replaced with indignance before he passed out.
Frak got up and looked at himself. He was still in the server’s whites, but covered now in two people’s blood. He looked down at the body. Also bloody, but less obvious as the doublet was dark purple. He exchanged his whites for the doublet (and pinched the man’s pouch which contained some coins and a silver ring with some kind of emblem, a winged pig) then looked around the room for anything else that might be useful. Nothing but wine barrels and assorted kitchenware. Frak opened the one door a crack and saw that it led to stairs going up and outside. He was actually under the very same tavern! It must be their territory, perhaps why the suspicion when he first met Mustache. Frak saw the pile of crates where he had stashed his stuff and got changed.
Frak pulled his hood over his head and went straight to the dock to find the first ship out of Saerloon. This Syndicate sounded dangerous, and now they had his name and face, and a murder which could only be his, assuming credit for Mart-Shuul was taken by the other assassin. Frak wondered if the truth spell was still active. He tried to speak a lie and got a splitting headache. He would have to be careful with who he spoke with until it wore off. Hopefully a ship’s captain won’t ask too many questions.
Chapter 6: Fresh start in Turmish
Escaping Sembia brought Frak to Alaghôn, in Turmish. The journey by ship across the Sea of fallen stars took almost a week, as they hugged the west coast to give the Pirate Isles a wide berth. During that time, Frak had was able to contemplate. Sembia had been too close, and he now had the Syndicate on his tail. Perhaps it was time to give up on trying to rid the world of bastards. There were just too many. Frak took the glass eye out of his pocket and appraised it as he leaned back on the foredeck of the ship. He was no expert but he had the feeling that in his hands he held more wealth than most people earn in a lifetime. Could he give up on the purse snatching and thieving and just make a clean start in Turmish? It seemed enticing. Frak got up from his perch on the foredeck as he heard the crow’s nest shout port-in-sight. Looking out over the green choppy water he saw an enormous city on the coast, dozens tall masted ships swaying gently all along its dockfront. Alaghôn.
Alaghôn was well respected as a civilized and competent capital to a well organized and content land, or so Frak had heard. Disembarking, he decided to explore a while, keeping an eye out for the kind of establishment that might have enough funds to take the jewel for it’s true value. His enquiries led to so many different money lenders and jewel specialists so that Frak got the impression that underwriting and financing were a crucial part of the local economy. The place was incredibly crowded, Frak wondered that they were not at each other’s throats but they seemed incredibly friendly. He didn’t want to flaunt the jewel around so eventually settled on an establishment with the name Bank of Ithting. A large stone building with marble accents, as if the architect had wanted to make the entire thing out of marble but just couldn’t afford it. Inside everyone seemed entirely busy or entirely bored waiting in a rather large hall. About half the people wore red conical hats with a tail of black strings hanging down the side, which seemed to be the only uniform piece distinguishing employees form anyone else. He caught a passing clerk by the elbow and asked who to see about appraising a gem. The clerk didn’t even look up as he said “take a number”, pointed to a table with three clay pots of different colors before disengaging himself and scurrying off. Frak approached the table. In front of each pot there were little piles of wooden tags neatly organized and numbered, and in the pots they seem to be discarded after use. One pile of tags was wooden, one clay and the other leather, each bearing numbers. There was a sign in front of each pot with a word in three languages, two that Frak did not recognize but one was thankfully Common: deposit, withdraw, lending. It was midafternoon and the pot with lending was almost full. Frak took the topmost wooden tag from the deposit pile, numbered 13. Great. Frak sat on a bench with a number of other bored looking patrons, and proceeded to wait.
It must have been an hour before a man with a short square beard and conical red hat threw a wooden tag into the pot, turned to Frak and said “Thirteen?” Frak nodded and got up. The man smiled and said “This way please.” He was led out of the hall to a room which contained half a dozen square tables, each with two chairs. One side of the room was glass windows that looked upon a busy street, opposite the windows was a wall with rows upon rows of ledgers, a short fence blocked the shelves so that you could only approach them from an opening in the middle. Next to that opening stood a clerk holding a tablet, he seemed to be keeping an eye on the entire room. Each table had a pot of ink, a quill, a pile of paper scraps, and a lit candle, even though the windows offered more than enough light. The clerk sat Frak down at a table and held out his hand. Frak hesitated. “Your number, please,” the clerk said kindly. Frak sheepishly handed it over, starting to get the hang of this ritual. “Thank you, now, my friend, yes, how can I help you?”
“I would like to have a gem appraised, and then be able to either sell it or trade it for credit or…. Something. Forgive me, I have never used money lenders so I do not know the possibilities,” Frak said. It was not entirely true, he actually knew quite a bit of the theory that goes behind money lending from the guild, but he did not want to tip his hand.
“I understand, not to worry, yes, this is common for first timers, yes. We are here to serve, yes, and I can give you a number of options depending on the value of the gem. Firstly, yes, I will appraise it’s value, secondly, I will give you options for obtaining liquid funds, yes?”
“Yes,” said Frak.
“The gem, please.” Frak pulled it out of his tunic and held if forth. The clerk did not touch it, but first took a moment to look at it in Frak’s hand. “Hmmmmmm, yes…” he mumbled. After a while he said “May I?” holding his hand out. Frak gave it to him and the clerk turned it in his hands. He then handed it back before picking up the quill and a scrap of paper. “I am not skilled enough in appraisal of this level of quality to give you an exact amount, yes; we have an appraiser who can be more accurate later. However, I can give you an estimate from my experience of what it at least would fetch at market, although it might be more.” He scribbled a number on a piece of paper, and handed the paper to Frak. Frak put his game face on as he read it.
“Is that in silver?”
“No, my friend. In gold.” Frak’s heart skipped a beat. It was indeed a small fortune in his hand. Enough to live modestly for the rest of his life. Frak handed the paper back to the clerk, who took it and immediately burned it over the candle, the ashes falling to the candleholder’s bobeche which contained the remnants of previous interactions. “There are a number of options, yes. You could sell it, not to us but I can give a name of an honest broker, yes. You can deposit it here as collateral for a loan, which you may withdraw in full or parts. You can deposit it here as capital for credit, which you may withdraw in full or in parts, yes. There are other, more complex options of investment you could make….”
“Let’s keep it simple. What is the difference between collateral and capital? I get cash either way, so…?”
“As capital the gem remains in your ownership, yes, and it’s value determines the amount of credit you have at this bank, minus holding fees. With collateral, the ownership of the gem turns to us until you have paid back the loan which contains interest. You can loan more than the value of the gem, yes, and the amount you owe increases over time. This is useful if you need large sums of money to make investments which will return more than you owe, yes?”
“Sounds like quite the risk to take.”
The clerk laughed. “My friend, this is Alaghôn! Everything is risk! What will it be?”
“I’ll take credit.”
“Capital! I will seek the appraiser and set up the ledgers. Excuse me, yes?” The clerk got up and left the room. Frak observed the rest of the tables while waiting. Two other clerks deep in conversation on other tables seemed entirely oblivious to him. The clerk returned and went straight to the space in the fence protecting the ledgers, spoke to the tablet holding man for a moment. The man scribbled something on the tablet and stepped aside to let the clerk reach the shelves. He came back to Frak holding an enormous leather bound book, sat down and started flipping pages until reaching a blank one. “The appraiser will come to us shortly, yes. Now we record our contract here, copies will be made for you to take with you as well as for the withdrawal ledgers, yes, where you can take your credit in coin or in writ, and when all is signed you may deposit the gem at vault.” The clerk paused and sat up a bit straighter as if trying to convey more formality. “Do you swear by your own gods to be honest and true in answering the rites of ownership as laid down by the Assembly of Stars in the Laws of Mercantile Exchange of 1325 DR, section 12, parts 5 through 29?”
“What is your name?” Ah. Frak thought fast and decided he really needed to make the whole thing up from scratch.
“Besastian. Besastian Pleech.” A common enough name in the Dragonmere.
“Place of birth?”
“Westgate.” The clerk raised an eyebrow. “In the Dragon Coast.” Frak chose the free city as it was a squalid but rich haven of piracy and corruption, so anyone could be from there. Frak sensed the clerk was not satisfied. “But my family is originally from Calimshan.” That seemed to put the clerk at ease.
“How did you acquire the capital?”
“From whom?” And so it went, question after question asking about his family, when he arrived, where he was staying, how long he expected to stay, etc. Frak honestly didn’t have all the answers and said as much, but the clerk seemed to always said not to worry, yes, he knows someone who can set him up with whatever had not yet been arranged. Frak had no doubt that the clerk would be making money out of all this that was not part of the bank’s deal.
When Frak didn’t think there would be any end to this contract, another man with an ornate grey beard, a black cap with silvery finery and spectacles of dark glass came to their table and doffed his cap. “I am the appraiser,” he said pulling up a chair from another table. “May I see the item?” Frak presented it. The appraiser’s features were like stone. Years of negotiating prices had hardened his face to an unpierceable mask. He wrote down a number on a piece of paper and showed it to the clerk.
“Ah, yes, I was a bit off, but not by much.” He passed the paper to Frak. The number was again half as much, Frak could not hide his surprise. As the clerk burned the paper, the appraiser got up and whispered something in his ear. “Oh? Alright, yes,” was his response. The appraiser bid good day to Frak and left. “Now, Mr Besastian, yes, let me show you the credit rates and fees to finalize the contract and we can sign…” With that, he took Frak through enough arithmetic that it felt like being back at his lessons in the guild. By the end of it Frak was mildly confident he understood it all, and quickly jotted an unintelligible signature that he was sure he could replicate, given that he expected more paperwork. “I will take this to be copied on our way to the vault, please follow me, yes.”
The clerk led Frak out of the room, to a table in the big hall, where four scribes were busy copying from ledgers to lose sheaths. The ledger was given to one with few words in Turmish which the scribe nodded to, and started copying incredibly fast. Frak was handed a copy of the contract which had large sections written in before hand and asked to sign. Then Frak was led to another room which contained only two armed guards and flagstone stairs leading down into a torch lit hall. Here there were two more guards flanking a desk with two officials pouring over piles of ledgers and papers. The clerk handed them his ledger, spoke something in Turmish to them and asked Frak to provide the gem and the contract. They both briefly looked it over. One of the officials took a key out of his breast pocket, and opened a heavy oak door banded in iron behind the desk. The other official took the gem from Frak and a torch from a sconce on the wall and disappeared within. The official with the key closed the door behind him and locked. Everyone waited. Then there was a knock on the door, and the official with the key opened if again for his colleague who gave Frak another piece of paper with ornate writing on it, prepared with a wax stamp, and Frak’s false name written in the center. “Your writ of credit, my friend, in order to withdraw funds,” said the clerk.
They walked back up the steps and once back in the main hall Frak saw the appraiser was waiting for them. The clerk turned to Frak and said “I will leave you with my colleague to help you further, yes?” Frak sensed that this was out of the ordinary for him, but before he could inquire further the clerk left and the appraiser beconned Frak to follow. They led him to down a narrow hallway with a window at the end of it, letting the sun in, doors on either side, entering one which looked like a personal office. A painting of an old man wearing a similar conical hat but with gold designs on it hung behind a desk. In the office there were two other officials sitting on chairs on either side of the desk facing the door. The appraiser sat at the desk, leaving Frak to stand in front of it. There were no more chairs.
“We have a problem. Or rather, you have a problem, Mr Besastian.” Frak tensed at the way the name was said. Was that sarcasm?
“Firstly, you have given false testimony on the rites of ownership,” he said. “You are no doubt aware that is a significant crime, with hefty penalties or even banishment.” He paused to see Frak’s reaction. Frak said nothing. “Secondly, you are part of an illegal organization, which calls for banishment or even death.” Frak’s heart skipped a beat. Had the Red Guild of Death caught up with him? How could they know?
“I do not know what you are talking about.”
“Oh but I think you do, Mr Besastian. The only thing I cannot figure out, is why would the Syndicate try and establish itself in Turmish again after what happened last time?” Frak breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’m not part of the Syndicate, I don’t know how you got that idea.”
“Then how do you explain being in possession of what the Syndicate took from me?” he asked, while taking off his darkened spectacles. One eye was entirely missing, just a dry gaping whole. The other was a glass covered gem just like the one now sitting in the vault, obvious now that Frak new what to look for. Incredibly, the appraiser was somehow able to actually see with it.
“I stole it. I swear.”
“Sure, you stole it right out of Giovanni ‘Scarface’ Giorgio’s own face, one of the most dangerous enforcers in the Syndicate? I think not. Did Giovanni send you as a message? What is your game?”
“Look, I admit I lied on the contract, I did not inherit it, I stole it. So let’s cut our losses, you keep it, just banish me and I won’t come back. Scarface won’t come back for it, I killed him so I have done you a favour.”
“What? A runt like you? Kill Giovanni Giorgio?” The appraiser laughed. “Don’t insult my intelligence. I could believe you may have stolen it from someone else if he was dead, but now I know you are lying. No matter, The Assembly will decide what to do with you.” As he said that the two men on either side got up and pulled bronze truncheons from behind their chairs. They motioned to the door. Frak turned around and opened it, surprised to see six guards with truncheons drawn waiting for him. Frak used the door to hide the actions of his left hand as it quickly dug into a belt pouch and pullout out an egg wrapped in cloth. He let the egg drop out of the cloth to the floor at his feet and when it hit the ground there was a loud band and an enormous plume of smoke filled the hallway.
Frak pushed a stunned guard on his left out of the way and sprinted to the window, jumping through it shoulder first. He planned to land with a roll and sprint off back to the docks but instead landed on top of someone and they both tumbled into a pile of trash in the alley the window looked out on. Dazed, Frak looked around to take his bearings. He noticed a crushed brass listening horn of the type to hear conversations through walls, and the person he had fallen upon, who looked like a dirty beggar, shaking his head before making eye contact.
“YOU!” the beggar shouted, then drawing a dagger and pouncing on Frak. Frak grabbed the man’s wrist to stop the attack but the full weight of his assilent pinned him prone. He noticed the dagger was far too ornate to be that of a beggar, and engraved in the gold crossguard was a flying pig. Whether coincidence or if they actually tracked him, Frak knew he was now dealing with dangerous Syndicate professionals. Frak actually pulled the assailant closer into him, the dagger cutting into his padded coat, but close enough that Frak then bit the man’s nose. The man pulled away screaming, ripping half his nose away in Frak’s teeth. That gave Frak the space to pull out his kukri and while the man fumbled to stem the flow of blood from his face, Frak stabbed him in the gut, twisted and ripped his innards out. Before the man had completely fallen to the floor Frak had already run out of the alley and made his way to the docks.
He arrived before any search party which hopefully was milling about the body he had left instead of chasing him, and walked down the quai looking for any ship which looked like it was pulling out. He saw one with rowboats already trying to pick up the slack in the guiding ropes and the hands pulling up gangplanks. He shouted at one of the deck hands “20 gold to let me on!” which was possible more than the hand earned in a year. The man hesitated, nodded and held the plank a moment longer so Frak could race up.
“Now, or you go overboard,” said the hand. Frak gave the money. The hand would probably loose half to the captain, who probably would try to shake down Frak, but he was fine with that.
“Where are you headed?” Frak asked.
“Westgate.” Frak had to laugh at that. He supposed going straight just wasn’t in the cards for him.
Chapter 7: Across the Dragonmere
In Frak’s second year in Teziir he set out to Suzail. It would take two days by sail to reach there. Suzail was a massive bustling city, capital Cormyr which had a well organized central government. Frak couldn’t take much risk there, the authority was heavy handed on murder, and well organized. He had gone to Suzail to let things in Teziir cool down a bit and sample the food, which he heard was excellent. Essentially he gave himself a vacation. When he arrived he was surprised to see the city in total disarray. Apparently half a tenday ago, the Queen of Cormyr had been murdered. This was not an urban atmosphere that Frak wanted to operate in; far too much antsy security for his comfort. He decided to rethink his plans. Since he had made the journey this far north he thought he may take the time to obtain ingredients outside the city he may not find easily on the Dragoncoast. He made for the Ant’s Nest, a pub which he knew to be a meeting place for Knight of the Shield information brokers. There he could discreetly purchase information about the surrounding area. He learned that in the swamp to the north west there were many wyverns, sometimes hunted by nobles under the escort of knowledgeable guides in some of the villages in the swamp. One such village was Wyrmhall, which was more of a hamlet really. Frak bought supplies for the journey and headed towards the swamp.
Reaching the hamlet after sundown he saw smoke rising from the chimney of only one of the shacks. Frak approached quietly, and heard the voices of people gathered inside. They seemed to be arguing. He put his ear to the side wall which was not much more that a plank of wood. Half a dozen distinct voices, speaking Chondathan which Frak had only started learning so it was very hard to follow. But he did pick out some common swear words, and a few names were repeated many times. Jaque, Karin and Captain Berkus. Then the front door slammed open and someone stormed out shouting what Frak assumed to be obscenities. Frak followed the man to what looked like the only structure that could be generously described as a store. Before the man could disappear inside Frak called out “Excuse me.” The man turned and lifts the oil lamp he was carrying.
“Who are you?” the man asked in heavily accented common. It did not sound like he spoke common much.
“I am Frak, I’ve come to speak with a wyvern guide.” Frak lifted his hands to pull back his hood and stepped into the light. He could now see the man was powerfully built, despite hair and mustache being all grey.
“You are looking at him. I am Ries.” Ries looked at Frak with a calculating eye. “It’s a bit late and cold, come into my shop. We can talk here.” He opened a door and crossed a dark room and hung the lamp from a chain hanging from the ceiling, raising the lamp wick as he did so. The flame grew and the room became brighter. A kind of haberdashery. A counter blocked another door and some logs functioned as stools in front of it. “Asseyez-vous, sit down.” Frak did.
“I seem to have come at a bad time, I am sorry.”
“Oui, but cannot be helped. Normally I have escorted noble friends of the Duke to the wyvern nests, but had you been one I would have knocked you on your ass.” He seemed to assess Frak a moment longer. “You do not look the type to go wyvern hunting.” The man’s demeanor seemed to relax although he was still visibly upset.
“I am not looking for sport, but for remains. You likely know that wyverns are useful for their scales, wings, teeth…”
“Oui, I know,” Ries pulled at a necklace which Frak now saw were wyvern teeth on a string. “And for organs and glands, some of which are not, eh… appreciated by the authorities.”
Frak said nothing.
“Heh, J’ai pensé ainsi. Pas de probleme, no worries. Fuck them, putain de merde aristocrates. I will not stay quiet, j’en ai plus rien à foutre.” Then came a string of Chondathan that Frak struggled to follow, but it sounded scathing.
“I sense you are upset with the Duke?” asks Frak.
“Vraiment?! What gave you that idea? Il me fait chier, connasse dégénéré. They have always been unfair and rough with us, and that is fine. But since Captain Berkus assumed command they have treated the swamp villages like slaves.” Frak’s eyes narrowed at that.
“Is that what the argument was about? I heard shouting from that house,” Frak gestured behind him.
“Non, that was about what we are going to do about Jaque and Karin. Some sans-couilles in the village want to pretend nothing happened, I do not.” Ries slammed his palm on the counter. “Si j’en revois…”
“What did Jaque and Karin do?” asked Frak.
“Karin was raped yesterday by a gang of Berkus’ soldiers, and Jaque, her father, got himself killed trying to stop it. Karin died today of bleeding.” Ries nodded in the direction of the other house. “That was her wake.”
Frak was deathly still. “How many soldiers? Under Berkus?”
“Five to a patrol, but I do not know exactly how many are at the watch. Maybe fifteen, twenty? Pourquois?”
“I will do this thing for you that you wish to do but cannot. Tell no one in the village. I only need your help to get their keep.”
Now Ries was silent a moment. “Why would you, un étranger, care? I cannot pay…”
“I want no payment. Your hands stay clean. Just guide me close to their keep.”
“If you do this, Frak, I…” Ries’ face scrunched in pain. “C’est plus que ce que j’espérais!”
“How do you say ‘Let them die’ in Chondathan?”
“Laisse les mourir.”
“Laisse les mourir,” Frak repeated, a hungry grin on his face.
Frak stayed the night with Ries and early next morning as the residents of Wyrmhall still slept, they made their way northwest to Yellow Snake Pass; Ries headed back just before they got in eye’s sight of the tower. Ries had helped Frak concoct a cover story with his knowledge of the area, so that by the time they got close to tower Wyvernwatch Frak was prepared to play the part. Frak was a wine merchant trying to establish a trade route from Evereska to Cormyr, the type of wine merchant who delved a bit too much into his stock. Frak wanted to be imprisoned in the tower. It was the easiest way to get in and to keep the soldiers off guard if they felt no threat from their prisoner. He made sure he approached the tower close to sundown, so he had the excuse to ask for a roof for the night. When refused, as he knew he would be, he started cursing out the guards. It didn’t take much for them to be provoked. They stripped Frak of his possessions and threw him into a jail cell. Little did they know that Frak had hidden some lock picks in his boot. Now he just waited for the opportune time to make his escape and get to work.