Chapter 2

Chapter 2
Rescue from Hell

The creature stalked in, its fangs dripped with Logan’s blood. Logan stumbled backwards, out of its long necked reach. He almost tripped backwards; his leg barely answered his commands to steady itself. A chunk of his leg muscle had been torn out already, swallowed by the creature. Logan had never fought anything like it before, it was so quick and powerful, when he tried to jab it lept out of the way. It struck and then bolted out of his reach. He had to time his strike perfectly, before he bled out the remaining life he had.

It stalked to his left, he pivoted around his injured leg in small hops to keep the beast slightly to his left side with his right arm coiled back for the strike. It darted in, “Ahhh!” Logan groweled and punched out.

Logan’s hand punched part of the wooden support beam that ran along the churchs interior walls with a loud, Crack! he awoke and recoiled his arm, grasped it with his other hand and muffled a curse. He rolled over and took the pain in, feeling a small amount of blood that wet his hand and blankets. He laid still and hoped no others had heard him, but he could feel them stirring. Lahvanu had already issued a small, “Huh?” type sound as she propped herself onto her elbow and glanced around the small room filled with the new recruits of the Children of Westcrown, the cities next hope for freedom.

Logan rolled over and pretended to just awaken and looked to Lahvanu, she was starring at him with a look of suspicion in her eyes. A shadow near the door caught Logan’s eye and his head motion towards the door drew Lahvanu’s as well.

Janiven now stood at the door entrance to the groups delegated room of rest. Janiven eyed the group and her gaze focused upon a sleeping blanket near the back window were Rutilus had lain to sleep. He no longer was there, and in his place a small child-like form that stirred awake. The figure sat up and noticed everyone starring at him, “Ah, yeah. So, I’m a Halfling. This is my true form and the other that I ‘wear’ is an ability of arcane magic.” The small cherubic face beamed, with curly brown shaggy locks that fell about his face. He still wore clothes of fine nature, but lacked the luster that his summoned form had.

“Never seen that before,” stated Logan.

Rutilus smiled sheepishly, “I developed the ability at a young age, and it’s technically called an eidolon. A summoned form that normally brings forth a creature to serve the user of magic, but in my case something else happened. Perhaps it was my powerful imagination, but as a slave I would imagine I looked differently, stood taller, was built stronger and dressed as the noblemen do. It wasn’t soon after those thoughts that I realized I had the power to actually summon the eidolon ‘around’ me instead of beside me. I could inhabit it. It was in this form that I was able to walk out from my enslavement without anyone stopping me. No one would dare to stop a six foot two inch nobleman, thinking him a slave.”

“Rutilus even your ‘real’ name?” Logan asked sarcastically.

“Well of course,” the Halfling answered quickly with a sly grin.

The others looked at each other, seeing if one another took that at face value.

“No better way to hide a slave…” Rutilus joked.

Lahvanu shrugged and said, “We’re still happy you have chosen to join us, your kind have suffered more than most in this oppression,”

“Thought he smelt funny,” Logan said under his breath.

Janiven stood straighter and said, “Well, if you are all up to it, clean up and meet me in the main room. Breakfast is being prepared, don’t be too long.”

Each stood and began getting ready to leave their sleeping quarters.

“I smell funny?” asked Rutilus in a concerned tone.

“Of course you smell funny,” Vennick said as he stretched and yawned from his bed roll tempted to lay back down.

Logan stepped over Venniks bedroll nearly kneeing him in the face “Watch it,” cried Vennick. Then he realized he was spreaking to one of the pit champions. Logan glared back at him, causing Vennick to look down and say “Um, I was talking to that other guy”. Logan kept his glare only long enough to face forward, he didn’t want the younster to see him smile. Logan continued into the hallway as he finished securing the last strap of his leather armor and turn the corner. Lahvanu smiled at Rutilus and silently followed Logan into the hallway towards breakfast. The smell of bacon, bread and tea filled the hallway and began filtering into the Groups room.

They soon were all entering into the large room of the abandoned church to see ten or more other people moving about. Some sat and ate, while others cleaned and made minor repairs to the interior of the church.

When the group had settled around a long oak table that smelled of wood polish and oil with their plates of food, Rutilus broke the silence as they ate, “So Janiven, may I ask how this all came about with you, Arael and the ‘Children’?”

Janiven put a small piece of bread she had been pinching pieces off on the table and drank that last of the water in her cup, “When Arael first came to Westcrown several years ago, he was distraught at the condition of the city’s abandoned shrines to Aroden. Nowhere else, he said, had the corruption and fall of the once proud empire of Cheliax more blatantly exposed its shame than in this…” she waved her hands around the abandoned temple and finished her gesture motioning out the windows to Westcrown.

She went on, “The ascendancy of Asmodeus-worship has discouraged many people from public worship of other gods, leading to some temples closing as their followers stopped attending, prayed at home, or changed to other churches.” Lahvanu nodded her head in agreement, having experienced this very same trend in her faith.

Janiven explained, “This shrine to Aroden, like many others throughout Westcrown, isn’t technically abandoned—it belongs to the church of Iomedae now, but no one has tended it for years. Arael decided to use this old shrine as a safe house for his latest project for precisely these reasons. The combination of it being a sacred place to his religion and being a building the city government ignores makes it a perfect place to serve as our headquarters.”

She stood and began to clean the remains of the breakfast as others finished and put their plates down, “And as Lahvanu said last night, the long-standing laws that forbid secular groups from looting, rebuilding, or otherwise harming houses of worship work well to prevent Hellknight interest in the building. Yet just to be safe, we have been careful to hide all indications that the shrine is now inhabited. Its facade is as old and filthy as it ever was, and we’ve covered all interior doors and windows with dark curtains to block light sources from within. Very few of Westcrown’s citizens know that Arael has cleaned up the interior of the shrine—and most of those are now among us, his growing group of followers.”

As she said that she waved her arm around the large room that had once served as the church’s cathedral to indicate the other people in the room. “Let me introduce the Children of Westcrown.” Janiven declared.

She walked the group to each of the individuals in turn, “This is Amaya, our resident glassblower and has quite a wonderful singing voice,” Amaya stopped the cleaning she was doing and turned to the group to smile. She was an incredibly beautiful Tian woman who seemed somewhat self-conscious about the effect her appearance had as she turned to face the group of mostly men.

“Hi Amaya,” Vennik shyly stammered to her, almost too silent to be heard by any.

“Here is Ermolos, our blacksmith,” Ermolos was an incredibly muscular chelish man, with a physique as the result of a long apprenticeship of smithing. He turned and walked to the group to shake each individuals hand before moving back to setting up what appeared to be a smithy work space. He walked with a slight limp. “Welcome! Nice to see our numbers growing,” Ermolos bellowed in a deep booming voice.

In all, they met Fiosa, a female halfling, Gorvio, a horse trader, Larko the dock worker, Mathalen a female porter, Rizzardo a gruff man who claimed that Ermolos reminded him of his little brother, Sclavo a scribe, Tarvi whos parents own a jewelry shop, Vitti the wood carver and Yakopulio a slightly offensive female gnome who works as a bartender at a local Tavern called the Bruised Eel.

After they had met all the Children, they had made entire loop around the church and ended back at the large oak table. Janiven motioned for them to sit once again. “I have a favor to ask of you all. The first of many I’m afraid and one of the utmost importance to our cause.” She said in a serious tone of voice.

She steeled her gaze and began, “Most of us are not well trained in skill at arms or in magic, but we do have the drive and heart to do what is right. We only hope we can count on you all for the same. I thereby set you all to undertake a mission to free Arael from the Hellknights.”

A low mummer ran through the room as the other Children of Westcrown realized at the dangerousness of this request.

Janiven motioned for to follower Sclavo who walked to the table, “As a scribe in the court’s offices I can tell you of the current conditions: the half-elf’s custody is even now being transferred from the Dottari, or the city guard to that of the Order of the Rack – Hell Knights of Asmodeus. The Order will soon take the prisoner to their impregnable fortress, Citadel Rivad outside the walls of the city,”

Sclavo paused for a moment to collect his thoughts, “I have also discovered the identity of the Rack officer in charge – a brutal Signifer named Shanwen – whose teams were the very ones you all eluded at Vizio’s Tavern yesterday! You can expect this foe to be on his guard and smarting from his recent failure.”

He clenched his fist,”Shanwen’s squad consists of ten armigers, four of which have horses and will function as a sort of cavalry. Their prisoner-wagon is familiar to us, having been seen around Westcrown quite often. It’s a sturdy wooden affair with a roof-mounted weapon of some sort, like a giant crossbow.”

“A ballista?!” snorted Dose, “Who’s the first to take a shot from that!”

Rutilus, in his summoned form, shifted uncomfortably on the bench as he sat next to Dose wondering if it would truly come to any of them getting shot by a ballista, which would surely doom anyone hit by the large crossbow. It was then he saw out of the corner of his eye the one known as Hellwolf starring at him. He turned to look, but as he did Logan also averted his gaze back to Sclavo.

Lahvanu, “We should probably hit the convoy outside the city walls,”

“Right,” Vennik agreed. “And before they reach this citadel,”

Janiven stepped forward slightly, “I am somewhat familiar with the road out to Citadel Rivad.” She took out a large roll of parchment and placed it on the table. “Here,” she said as she unrolled a large map of the outlining area around Westcrown. “Here and here,” she said again as she pointed to two spots, “I propose two possible places for an ambush, one being a stone bridge over a creek and the other a sparse wood with some places to hide. We have no time to look over these sites ourselves but must quickly make our decisions and plans.”

They all stood and huddled over the map. They all eventually agreed that Janiven, with her squad of untrained followers, would cut down a large tree to put across the road to serve as a distraction to Shanwen’s guards; whilst newer group was to strike the wagon when the opportunity presented itself.

In order to make our attack with speed, follower Gorvio said he would arrange with his uncle, and employer, Jacovo, of Jacovo’s Stables and Livery, to borrow horses to carry them all.

The wooded region was finally selected as the ambush spot; forces divided according to plan and they all broke from the discussion to equip and prepare for the attack. After a few hours Gorvio returned with the group of horses, some needed to double up in saddle, but they all managed to make it onto a horse. They set out across the city roads and tried to draw as little attention as they could.

An hour passed when they finally regrouped at the rally point. They did a quick scout of the area and made their ways to the planned areas. They settle in to await the arrival of the prisoner transport as Janiven’s group moved a large tree across the road. The tree was one of the largest in the area and would definitely be needed to be moved before any could use the road with any ease. Logan and Lahvanu moved behind a tree only twenty feet off the main road. From their vantage point they could see Vennik across the road moving behind a tree with his bow readied. Only a few feet to their left behind their tree stood Rutilus with Dose further off to his left side.

Vennik moved to where he could barely be seen between two large tree thinking " ok Vennik relax its only Hellwolf, I am acually going to fight next to him, concentrait show everyone what you can do".

A cool breeze ran through the air as Lahvanu turned to the road to put the sun at her back. “Strange, the moments of waiting before a battle.” She whispered to Logan.

“Use it, use the time to build your adrenaline. Sharpen your wits, relax and stretch your muscles for the movements of battle to come.” He said matter of factly.

“I don’t like this, I just want it here already,” she stated. Logan’s claws sprang out of his wrists and Lahvanu heard him sniffing the air, “Logan?”

“They’re about here,” he said quietly.

At that moment four mounted armigers speed over the hill and immediately began to pull up at the reigns of their mounts to avoid slamming into the felled tree. The prison-carriage soon rolled to a halt with the driver standing to yell, “What the!?”

At that Logan looked to the spot where he knew Vennik to be, “Hope the kid is ready,” as he said this he sprang from his tree and bolted towards the road.

A fray of motion began, Lahvanu slid out from the other side of the tree with a crossbow in hand and launched its bolt at a rider, and Vennik launched an arrow from hidden spot in the brush along the other side of the road. Dose and Rutilus also jumped into motion, running towards the horsemen.

Dose held up short and rose to his mouth what looked like a black stick. The stick had a small wrapped handle and a circular piece at its end to fit snuggly against his mouth. With the sound of forced breath of air, a dart shot out across the road to sink itself in the cheek of a guard.

The guard’s hand flew up to his cheek and searched for the source of the sting, but not only a sting, but the burning sensation that pumped from the sharp edge. The guard found the dart and plucked from his skin bringing forth a droplet of blood. The guard knew it was poisoned, he just hoped it wasn’t iocane poisno, as soon as he threw the dart to the ground and turned his horse about. He could feel his vision slow and it didn’t track his head motion like normal. His limbs began to feel thickened and slowed. The guard saw the dark skinned man with the blowgun and he spurred his horse towards the individual. As he did he drew his sword and charged in at the man. Off to the guards side a tall pale man ran oddly towards the other guards, he momentarily thought to turn towards him, but did not know the true effects of the poison and wasn’t sure if he had much time. He wanted to end the attackers life first and he spurred his mount in at the dark skinned one.

Dose had just reloaded his blowgun when he looked up to see the horse and man barreling in. He quickly tucked the blowgun into his belt and drew forth his large curved kukri dagger from its sheath in the small of his back in a single motion. He lowered into a crouch and readied his dagger. The horse did not slow and the guard was to use its momentum to gain energy into his sword strike. The guard knew the man would be unable to avoid the strike at this range and as last as he moved in. But at the last second the exotic man in odd glasses bent backwards at an impossible angle to avoid the sword slash. In the same motion Dose dragged his blade across his tongue and covered it with his saliva. As the horse passed he whipped it out and let the horse’s motion drag it across the guard’s calf, right above the boot line. Dose’s salvia was replaced with blood across the sharp edge.

Again the Hellknight felt the burning sensation as more venom was laced into his blood. He could feel his chest tighten and his limbs grow heavier. He was now having trouble breathing and the sky began to spin. He pulled on the reigns of the horse to stop it from spinning, or was it him that spun? He did not even notice when he had slide from the saddle or how he came so close to the large tree that he smacked his head into as the horse steam rolled by.

Logan crossed the terrain in surprising good time, eating up the distance in a matter of seconds before any of horsemen actually registered his movement. Corporal Shanwen atop of carriage reacted first, swinging the ballista around to face Hellwolf. Too late though as Logan ran to the side of the carriage under the arc of motion that the siege weapon could fire on. Instead Shanwen fired it at the human female in the nearby wood line. He hadn’t had time to line up his shot more precisely and the large bolt came up short smacking into a small tree a few feet in front of Lahvanu.

Another guard on the carriage ran to its edge with the intent of stabbing Logan in the face as he climbed up from the ground. Logan hoped his instincts were correct and kept his upward motion onto the carriage. It proved correct and the guard drew down upon him he fell over Logan end over end with one of Vennik’s arrows protruding from his back to slam hard on the road below them.

Logan pulled himself up onto the roof of the carriage just as Shanwen had finished reloading the large crossbow and was swinging it around to bear against Logan. Just then Rutilus sprang up from the ground in a running jump that cleared the roof and his large summoned body pitched into the third guard remaining on the carriages roof. His momentum knocked the guard clear and another ten feet away from the wheels of the carriage leaving Rutilus on the roof to kick out at the Ballista at the last second.

The extremely large bolt fired off and Logan knew it was going to not only hit him square in the chest, but most likely go through him with enough force to pin him across the road into a tree, that or rip through his body and take his heart out the other side. His eyes began to close as he heard the head knight click the trigger, but its bolt flung off and an odd angle and Rutilus’ foot tapped the buttstock end and changed its trajectory angle.

Logan smiled at Shanwen and lifted both arms up to show the soldier the back of his hands as gruesome claws made of bone slid out from his flesh. Blood covered the claws and Logan could see the knight’s expression mixed of fear and revulsion, “Hey bub, I got these for ya,”.

Shanwen was not a recruit and was quick to react to Logan’s threat. He moved his arms into an unholy routine and spoke divine words to his lord Asmodeus. As he finished his spell casting he pointed to Logan as the tiefling moved towards him under the arched bow section of the ballista. Shanwen announced to Logan, “Flee!”

Logan felt the power in those words and halted his movement instantly. He could not resist its command and he backed away from Shanwen and turned to jump off the back of the carriage.

Rutilus saw Logan turn and with his arcane training he guessed what had just happened to the warrior, “Great, a cleric,” he said under his breath and danced forward towards Shanwen. Shanwen turned on the new opponent and pulled a mace from his belt. Rutilus was quicker and shot his great fist out; connecting with Shanwen’s helmed head. Shanwen felt the large fist slam into his head, but had not been thought to try and deflect or dodge the blow as he was protected, or so he thought. The punch hit with so much force that he instantly saw stars and dots of blackness. He quickly recovered and backed away, putting the ballista between himself and the pale skinned man.

Meanwhile Lahvanu moved towards Dose inspecting all the while the battlefield for any of her comrades whom might have been hurt or injured. She then noticed an un-mounted guard running towards her with his sword held high. Dose was quicker though and she heard the breath expulsion from his blowgun. His dart speed at the guard, it just missed his neck and clinked off the rim of his armor of his chest.

She threw her crossbow in hand at the opponent, not thinking to damage the man, but to slow his charge. It worked and she gained a precious second, enough to draw her sword and bring it up as the knight’s sword crashed in. She blocked it at the last moment, but the force of the strike made her hand sting with pain and her grip loosened with numbness.

The guard turned his angle of his weapon and stabbed in at her stomach. She leaped out of its reach, but the tip of its scratched her belt, leaving a deep gouge in her leather strap. She in turn slashed her sword across his arm, but he rotated so that the attack glanced off his shield.

Just what Dose wanted, the movement blocked the knight’s view of him and he charged at that movement. By the time the knight retracted his shield Dose was upon him with his wicked curved blade slashing a thin red line across the back of the soldier’s neck.

The man went ridge in surprise and shock and turned his head to see Dose to continue running by him. The guard flexed his arm to strike him, but felt Lahvanu’s sword tip pierce his gut. He looked back to see the pupils of her eyes as she drew in closer, pushing a full two feet of steel just below his ribs.

Vennik had thought himself lucky and actually was having a bit of fun as he remained up disturbed in his hidden brush, launching arrow after arrow at the distracted knights. He scored hit after hit and his aim increasing confidently with each shot. His eyes scanned from target to target, debating if he could hit or not when he saw a knight running up the short hill to his spot. He almost groaned, displeased that someone had taken the time to search him out already and ruining his fun. He turned his bow toward the guard and let fly the arrow notched. The arrow bit deeply into the mans right thigh and slowed the man considerably. Vennik felt he almost had time to pull another arrow before the man was on him, but he changed his mind seeing the size of the knight’s greatsword. Vennik extended his arm out to drop the bow a short distance away, not wanting to accidentally step on it in the on coming fight.

Vennik pulled his short sword and a sickle from its back sheath out and moved them through a fancy motion he had practiced. He had seen an elf with two long daggers do the same motion in a bar fight a few times and it stuck with him. Now each time he drew his weapons forth he always tried to emulate the fancy move if nothing else to appear well experienced in his blades.

If the knight was impressed or intimidated, he didn’t show it and charged in with anger in his eyes. The large sword cutting away branches of the brush in each swing. The bush was trimmed down with a speed any gardener would have been pleased with. Vennik back peddled a bit and looked for an opportunity to spring in. The large man used his sword well though and kept up his almost wild swinging motion. Vennik almost thought to throw his sickle at the man’s head, to try and cause distraction enough to interrupt the flurry of slashes.

It was not needed though, as the blood began to seep out of the knight’s boot. It had already filled the boot full from the wound in the mans thigh. The man’s face paled and his eyes rolled back in his head a bit, before he started his swinging motion again. Vennik saw the change in his demeanor and used it as his lucky break. He darted in and poked his short sword tip to poke a hole in the under arm of the mans dominate arm. It had its desired effect and the man retracted his arm, off the large two handed swords handle. Unbalancing the blade and it swung out wide. Vennik then used his body weight to swing his left arm out and across with the hand held sickle. It cut across the guard’s face, removing the nose of the knight and sliced through his eye, bursting it in a sickening pop.

The man howled and stumbled backwards. Vennik charged forward and kicked the man in the chest to send him sprawling down the short hill. The man crumpled to the ground and floundered about. Vennik scanned the area again and back to the knight he had just laid out, thinking to charge down and finish the man off, he turned back to retrieve his bow. By the time he turned the newley notched arrow the man had passed out and was bleeding from his multiple wounds, Vennik knew he wouldn’t survive long with injuries like that and lifted his bow to launch the arrow at the tall man Rutilus was fighting.

Logan’s spell bound urge to flee lifted. He turned and cursed himself for having succumbed to a weak trick like that. He hated magic and magic users, arcane or divine a like. Hand to hand battle was all that he respected. Tooth and claw, blood and bone. He turned back to the cleric and carriage and ran as fast as he could. He would taste this mans blood for sure.

The third knight who Rutilus had knocked off the carriage stood and looked up to the roof. He saw Shanwen and the pale man as the moved in and out of fray, each swinging and ducking here and there. He moved to find a foot holds to climb up when a crossbow bolt found his back. He howled in pain and clutched his back. He turned to see a woman in armor hurriedly trying to reload her crossbow. Also a dark skinned man rushing toward the road to his back. The knight turned from the carriage to face the dark skinned man and readied himself.

Over his head he flinched as a white skinned man with black wild hair charged behind him and leaped up onto the carriage. He made the mistake of following the man jumping to the side of the carriage and when he returned his focus to the dark skinned man it was too late. Dose smiled as Logan’s leap distracted the young knight and he sprang forward to jab his kukri into the knight’s chest. It pierced the armor and made a sound like stone hitting stone as the blade bit deep into the knight’s chest bone.

Shanwen had it in his mind that he might be able to edge out this tall pale skinned man if he had a few more undistracted moments. He hit with the force of a brick, but with no weapon or armor on Shanwen thought eventually the big man would falter and Shanwen would get a good clean attack in that would leave the man lifeless soon enough. It was at that moment that he saw the shadow of someone behind him and turned to defend himself. Too late, Logan he already punched out with both hands and sank six claws deep into the knight. Logan lifted the man off his feet and held him in his blood soaked fists. Claws pushing deeper and deeper until the face rested against Logan’s knuckles. Blood poured from Shanwen’s wounds and he dropped his weapon to grasp at Logan’s arms. Trying to extract him self from the viscous claws. He did not have the strength to lift his body up and off the bone blades protruding into his stomach. His vision blurred and Shanwen went limp with an expulsion of his last breath.

Logan snarled and turned to the side, whipping the man off his claws and flinging him to the ground below with a thump. Logan’s breathing was heavy and he shook with anger and rage. His head darted back and forth as if looking for the next one to pounce on. Rutilus stepped a few paces back from Logan. Having not seen this side of Logan before, he was unsure what Logan would do next.

The rest of the group gathered near to the prison-carriage seeing no other enemies about. Rutilus saw Logan’s body slowly stop shacking and he seemed to calm. Logan took one large deep breath and his claws slid up into his wrists with droplets of blood falling from the open holes left in his hands. These slowly closed as his skin knitted itself back together and Logan crouched to climb down. Rutilus too took a hold of the side railing and leaped down from the roof.

Lahvanu had already begun searching for the door to the carriage and its unlocking mechanism. Dose made his way from knight to knight, searching there belongings and pouches.

Vennik also made his way from the ridge line and helped Lahvanu with the door. Soon they popped it open to find a half-elf on the edge of his seat. He was a handsome man, with shoulder length dark brown hair; sharp elven jaw line with almond shaped eyes and pointed ears. His body frame was the only feature revealing his half human nature. He smiled as the door opened and he spotted Vennik’s face.

“Hi ”/campaigns/the-council-of-thieves/characters/arael" class=“wiki-content-link”>Arael, we rescued you, isn’t that outstanding?" beemed Vennik.

“I did not think to hope for as much, but yes it is, how you put it, outstanding” Arael said and scotched to the door as his hand were manacles behind his back. Vennik and Lahvanu helped him out and released him from his cuffs.

“We just wanted the nice carriage, didn’t even know you were in here,” Vennik joked.

Arael smiled and rubbed his wrists to try to get the blood flowing back into his aching hands. Vennik surveyed the immediate area, “New recruits do nice work.”

Arael took a few steps out and looked from individual to individual and shook his head in agreement. He spotted Logan, “Vennik, is that….?”

“Yeah,” Vennik said as he smiled.

Lahvanu asked in a loud voice, “Is anyone injured?”

No one spoke up and she looked to the half-elf, “You?”

“No my lady, I was not treated with kindness, but I am not injured,” Arael said.

Rutilus turned the corner of the carriage, “We should get to the horses and clear from this area quickly,”

“Agreed,” Arael answered.

The group eventually met up with Janiven and the other members of the Children of Westcrown. They made their greetings with Arael and gave thanks and praise to the rescuers. Most of the Children had caught minor glimpses of the battle from their secured positions in the tree line.

As they approached the city proper, they split into smaller groups to not draw attention and when they finally had all regrouped at the church hideout. They all gathered to recount the tales of their battles for the members of the Children who had not seen the battle. They were served cool drinks and a hearty lunch. As they chatted with the other members, Arael and Janiven spoke in hushed tones. Logan could catch parts of their conversation, mostly about his capture and treatment.

Dose cleared his throat when a lull in the conversations, “Hey, you might want to look at this,” he said as he held up an unfolded letter. “I took this off the head knight,”

He handed it to Arael,”It’s from the lord mayor of Westcrown himself, to the chief Hellknight at Citadel Rivad. This letter seems to ask for help in dealing with a group of bandits – and also seems to be repeating an earlier request! This, from Aberian Arvanxi himself… These ‘Bastards of Erebus’ must be of some interest, if the mayor’s own forces are unable to meet the threat.”

Janiven and Vennik looked to each other and Janiven spoke, “We also have heard of the ‘Bastards’, they have been implicated in at least three local robberies. One incident resulted in a double murder of innocent merchants.”

Vennik looked to Logan sheepishly but stated, “They are reputed to be a gang of tieflings,” he saw Logan’s eyes light up and continued, “I’ve heard they claim some territory around the ruined part of the city.”

Janiven shook her head in agreement and looked to Arael, “Their name implies a connection to Hell, though I think they just use it to try and evoke fear in the locals, but regardless its said that they always leave behind a wooden token showing a devils head in the profile and of recent they have become more brazen about their nighttime crimes.”

Logan searched his memory of the gladiators he had fought. He remembered one who also had used a side profile of a devil as his pit fighting symbol. “Mammon? The symbol is of the Lord of Erebus the devil Mammon,”

Rutilus shook his head in agreement.

Arael asked, “Why haven’t the local city guard handled this?”

Vennik spoke up, “I heard not long ago they tried. Tried and took a beating by the bastards. Two or three guards were found in the ruined city’s local square beaten to near death. Each with a wooden coin in his mouth, those bastards!" he said.

Arael said, “Must be why the mayor is seeking Hellknight intervention. And stop saying “bastards” Vennik, you have a good mind so use it"

Janiven nodded, “Yes, it’s not a matter of ‘finding’ them, for everyone knows where the ‘Bastards’ hangout, its just no one has been able to stand up to them,”

“Hey Janiven said the B word” Vennick pouted.

The group became silent for a time. Logan shifted uncomfortably, “So…I think we should put a foot up these ‘Bastards’ asses,”

Dose laughed and Lahvanu nodded in agreement.

Arael straightened up in his chair, “I believe as a united front for the people of Westcrown, it should be our goal of the Children to increase the quality of life for the citizens. How ever we can.”

Janiven smiled at Arael, “An by example and inspiration help Cheliax rid itself of the House of Thrune and its evil taint,”

“Eliminating the ‘Bastards’ will show Westcrown that there are people who care about justice and are willing to protect the innocent! Some one other than the Hellknights can show that there is strength and power outside the clutches of Hell and Asmodeus.” Arael announced.

“It’s agreed then, we’ll move on the ‘Bastards’” said Janiven. “Vennik, I think its time you scout out the ‘Bastards’ territory and gather some information for us on there movements.”

Vennik smiled and stood. He began to collect his gear, “Well if i can’t say the “b” word at least I can scout them out, Give me a few hours and I’ll be back soon with all the “Bastard” information.” With that he turned and shuffled off for the sewer entrance giggling.

Chapter 2

The Council of Thieves Lord_AO