The Dwarf With Many Names - Episode 3

The Quarry and The Circus of Blood (Mike GM - 2/17/09)

The Dwarf is huddled on a Cliffside, freezing. He looks down upon a blazing fire beneath him. He's convinced himself that he's been stalked for days, but so far all he's seen is stragglers and people escaping a war that means less than nothing to him. If he has his way, he'll dive neck-deep into that war by sunset tomorrow. I just have to get out of these Mountains, he thinks to himself. And perhaps get a bit warmer. No. They're looking for him. The Crimson Strand.

He's heard legends of this group, but has never had the pleasure of doing any business with him. Dwarves like him don't usually run across do-gooders like The Strand while on business. And if so, they'd most certainly be on opposing sides. Yes, he's heard of this Crimson Strand, but how have they heard about him? It is this suspicion that keeps The Dwarf from going down to the huddle refugees that surround the fire below him. Instead he sits Cliffside, and freezes. Listening to the sobering accounts and theories of these elves without a home.

"As long as Eldros Elenesse stands, Dorthone will find its way back to glory," says one.

"Then why are you hear, trying to cross the mountains to the west?" retorts another.

"For it could be some time… and much more bloodshed before Dorthone is at peace."

"I'm of the opinion that until Dorthone is destroyed, there will be no peace."

"You speak traitorous talk of your kingdom!"

"Says the man who is leaving his beloved kingdom. Besides that's not what I meant. Don't you think that Dorthone has dabbled long enough in the protection of others that have shown no such reciprocation back to Dorthone. I speak of places of sin such as Gribale, Halton, or God help us Buildar. These are cesspools of near-savages who have no pride, no allegiance, and no interest in the greater good of Taern. Until this land is wiped free of infection, the glories of Dorthone or Lamascus or Steadhelm will never be able to truly lead."

"From what I've heard Steadhelm is in no position to lead. Their queen was assassinated some months back."

"Aye… and yet I, and others like me, would say that only now is Steadhelm truly about to be ready to lead."

Then a female voice interrupts… "You speak of these kingdoms leading as if they are truly following lockstep with some sort of plan of your own. Would you care to include us in on just what nations such as Steadhelm or Lamascus or MY KINGDOM OF DORTHONE are supposed to be doing if not helping those that can't help themselves, such as Buildar or Gribale?"

The crowd starts to speak in hushed tones, and The Dwarf decides that instead of getting any sleep tonight that he will look down and see what has got the refugees feathers ruffled. It is none other than Princess Thedra, heir to Dorthone who stands amongst them. The cloaked outcast who spoke against Dorthone quickly retreats away from the fire with a simple "I was only speaking in theory, my lady. It need not even be pointed out that such as I would know as you."

"Aye. You may wield power across this nation, but you should look to others on matters of Dorthone." With that The Princess looks to the guard on her left, who can't even manage eye contact.

The Princess eyes the pessimistic refugee and then turns to the rest of the elves gathered on the cold Mountains of Misplacement. "I know that to find you here means that you have suffered greatly. It means that you have given up on making a life for yourself in your home of Dorthone… at least while this war wages. Know this. As long as I am Heir to Dorthone, I will harbor no ill-will to those who only seek safety for your families. Though we may have failed you now… rest assured that one day Dorthone will rise again, and you can retur-"

The Princess stops speaking and looks down. The Dwarf doesn't even have to hear the screams to know that there is an assassin in The Mountains of Misplacement. Thedra raises her bloodied hands from her wound and before The Dwarf can see what type of projectile was used, her two guards are on top of her.

"I knew it was foolhardy to come looking for Eldros' Disgrace!" one of her Elven Guards exclaims as his Princess dies before his eyes. However his insult seems to bring Thedra back from unconsciousness, as the normal fire in her eyes is rekindled.

"Never call my sister a disgrace! We got word that she was here in the mountains, and I don't intend to leave her without her!"

After the attack, The Dwarf realizes that he has been followed by his Vampire friend as the Vampire jumps out and drinks from Thedra's open wound. When one of the elven guards pulls him off of Thedra, the Vampire bites him.

The bitten guard starts calling out to Thedra's other Elf Guard, "Lenwe! Lenwe! Call The Crimson!" and The Dwarf realizes that he has been setup by The Strand.

Carrion, reveals himself to be the pessimistic refugee as he casts off his cloak, and looks upon the Elf Guard from Dorthone with disgust. "The sheer incompetence…" Carrion pulls out his blade and holds it to the guard's neck but then smiles as he realizes The Dwarf watches. "I know you're watching me Dwarf. Know this, the longer you remain, the more inevitable it becomes that we find you. And yet flee… and it is inevitable that we track you, and find just what it is you are looking for. Or perhaps what you lost?"

Mountainbeard flees, but not before wounding Carrion in the face brutally.

"Track him," Carrion orders The Crimson Strand as blood flows from the wounds to his face.

"But you are hurt, Carrion."

"DON'T," Carrion looks up at the rest of The Strand, his face barely recognizable as the skin seems to have been peeled off. "Don't ever look upon me with concern again. I am Carrion, Lord of the Crimson
Strand. And once my will is done, no one will ever have to have concern for the side of good EVER AGAIN."

Carrion's orders are interrupted by the screams of Thedra, and theysee the turned Elf Guard is drinking her blood that has been spilt ashe climbs atop her. However before he can bit Thedra, he keels over and dies.

"Something in the blood," Orz, The Crimson Strand's Eladrin Wizard says as he grabs a vile and fills it from Thedra's open wound before even thinking about attending to her.

THE DWARF & THE VAMPIRE
"Where are you taking me?!" the vampire demands.

"To the circus. The Circus of Blood."

Darkness surrounds the vampire. But there is also smoke. Something is burning. He is trapped. He must escape into the light.

The vampire sees freedom and then a dirty fist to the eye. He falls back into darkness. And into the sack that The Dwarf has made for him as they make their way down the mountain. But what is that smell?

The vampire looks around him and he appears to be in the belly of a dragon. He's dead! Again! But since he's a vampire he will slowly be digested until…

"I just fashioned a sack for you out of a dragon. After all dragon-hide is commonly used to carry vampiric companions on a sunny afternoon journey to the circus. Now be quiet… what was your name
anyway before you turned vampiric? Or do you have a vampire name now?"

*Corey tells him his name and why he was following the dwarf.*

*At some point The Dwarf will find a suitable spot to scout behind them and confirm what he anticipated. The Crimson Strand was following him as he had hoped they would. Only one thing surprised him. They were only sending one… the frail Eladrin. And he appeared to be carrying no weapon with him, only a vial of blood that he seemed to be obsessed with. The Dwarf tried to take this as good news, but something must be up if The Strand tracked him to The Mountains of Misplacement, have him in their sights and then to only send one of their kind to finish the job. I guess we'll see at the circus, The Dwarf thinks to himself…

The Two Sexual Replacements for Willy Clark Griswald
Rancid and Dusty must pick two musical instruments that they have talent for. They have squandered their lives up to this point, playing contrived music and though much to the embarrassment of their
families, have yet to find "sensible work" as they pursue artistic success that seems as if it will always elude them. That is until they scored backstage passes to a Willy Clark Griswald concert.

It wasn't so much what they saw on stage that inspired them, with Willy's substantial musical prowess, no, it was his backstage sexual prowess that left more of an effect on them. One conquest in
particular, Arsissa Lacuna, the famed muse of Willy Clark Griswald. An elf said to have inspired the greatest inspirational force that Taern had ever seen. Both failed musicians made a solemn vow to woo Arsissa and perhaps then they would find the success that had always remained out of reach.

And tonight, The Circus of Blood was coming to town, a traveling group of vampires who perform for those self-loathing liberals who must accept every kind of demon or monster, no matter the threat to their own well-being. Well neither gentleman suitor was going to show fear in front of their lady that they had spent so much time courting. Especially after Arsissa had made such a big deal about the Circus of Blood's arrival to Halton.

Maybe tonight is the night. Tonight's the night. But for which gentleman caller?

The Opening Act
The show opens with a vampire giving a speech on what his kind is, and wants to demonstrate what it is they do. He asks for the popular Halton resident Arsissa Lacuna to join him on stage.

"We are monsters. But we are not without charm."

The vampire begins to seduce Arsissa by putting a charm spell upon her.

"As you can see, this beautiful, intelligent woman will soon be powerless to resist my every whim with her. But when you are vampire, there is but one whim."

His fangs come out and he makes a grand gesture of reaching for her neck. "Is this what you people wanted to see? Is this what you get enjoyment from?"

*Dusty or Rancid can attempt to save her. If only one does then he is attacked (with fake blood effects) and wins the heart of Arsissa. If both, roll to see which one wins. If neither, Arsissa will fall for the vampire, and they reveal the fake blood effects themselves.

A great laugh comes from the audience and everyone in the crowd gasps as they see the great crime lord Asmodeus is in the audience, and greatly enjoying the death he has just seen. Unfortunately he somewhat spoils the mood for the vampire on stage:

The vampire continues: "As you can see, all just an act and all in good fun! I hope you all have a pleasant evening, and we in the vampire community truly do thank the town of Halton for being so open and welcome to our kind. Especially the lovely and talented Arsissa Lacuna! Who I do believe is now the next part of our show, give her a round of applause ladies and gentlemen!"

The Tightrope Walk
"I knew it was fake. Vampires have too much control. That is of course unless they are in a bloodlust. But don't worry, without blood spilling, we should be safe…"

The Dwarf starts to have a good time. That's the sign. Something's wrong. He never has a good time. Not without blood being spilled. And blood is about to be spilled as The Dwarf's eyes drift up to the
beautiful Anrisis, Halton's famed performer and former lover of Willy Clark Griswald. Too beautiful and all alone on the tightrope. Why if someone wanted to shoot her…

The Dwarf's eyes instinctively roam to the best spot to shoot the lovely young lady. After all, he was having a good time. And there she was.

The Lady of Red. The package. With a long bow. And an arrow she lets fly.

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