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Solver of problems

AragmarJan 18, 2021, 1:51:19 AM
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Reader's note - For maximum fun, please read the 1st Episode of Rem's adventures by clicking here: Just another job

Part 1

Contacts

The tall, athletic orc held a note in his hand and, after reading its contents for the fifth time, he unleashed a sad sigh. Neatly folded inside a magically sealed envelope, this missive was delivered by the most efficient means – alley people. One young runner, probably their best, entered and then left via the secret passage only known to others in his boss's employ. Worst of all – the man looked battered! Not only sweat covered his worried face, but a bloody scar, an obvious sword wound, which missed gouging his eyeball by a mere inch. Tenaros gave the runner one of his healing potions and even offered him temporary sanctuary, yet the runner refused. After a couple of minutes rest to catch his breath, the alley man dashed outside, back on the deadly streets. Painfully obvious it was that those who chased after this runner would attempt to finish the job – he'd be lucky if he ran back to his home alley with all limbs attached. Teeth gritting, the orc grabbed his broadsword; partially unsheathing it, he finally saw his own and quite terrified facial expression. His dark blue eyes were wide with worry and that youthful looking orcish mug of his, very pale. Ideally, his beloved wife would never see him like this – instead of the normal light green skin color, Tenaros's elongated face was now nearly white. Not only did someone attempt to murder his employer, it would seem that whoever these “professionals” were, they also aimed to snatch that young maid too! Tenaros took quite the active part in taking down one certain secret society; others provided the necessary information, risked their lives to track all of these vile, degenerate scum down. It was he who mercilessly slaughtered most of the reprobates, whose hands were drenched deep in innocent blood... lots of it. Back then, his current employer was just someone he'd heard rumors about on the street of the Worker's quarter. Then came a messenger, another alley person like this wounded man, who brought him a letter which changed his and his family's lives. Thanks to that warning, he was able to avert a doom most terrible! Tenaros's only child, his son was supposed to be tortured to death in one of the society's dungeons and therefore he, as a Knight Arcanum made sure than none of these monsters drew breath. He did not care who these fucks were – you did not touch other people's children and lived to boast about it! Tenaros's distressed breathing and most probably the gnashing of teeth alerted his wife that something was afoot. She entered the room, took one look at his face and checked if her revolver was cocked.

“How bad?” - Standing next to him, Miverna's ponytail made her look a bit taller than his seven feet.

He needs an escort.” - Tenaros fixed one rebellious brunette strain of hair, which had escaped his wife's hasty hairdo attempt.

“These twisted fucks are back? But.. you and I, we were so thorough!” - She knew him too well, one look upon his troubled visage and her forehead wrinkled, as her green eyes widened, full of fear.

“Rem's note says nothing about that secret society, only that he and Val are being stalked by professionals.” - The orc looked at his blue, lacquered full plate armor and then at Miverna.

“I need your help to armor up and quick, then...”

“Then you will do the same for me, oh knightly husband of mine!” - The statement he dreaded after receiving this note she uttered and with such a silken voice, this wife of his spoke.

“These are no mere assassins, Miverna. Rem had with him one specialist team of Hood marksmen, Felk's powerful magics, and even then they barely managed to best the scum. Moreover, he clearly states in this note that Val is one of their targets.” - He opened the armoire and quickly put his thickly padded undergarment on, a must have for all warriors who entered battle heavily armored.

“If this is the case, then he will call all of his contacts, not just the two of us. Strength in numbers and all of that...” - She helped him don the armor parts he required aid for and before rushing into their home's weapon storage, stated:

“I will grab my second revolver and all spare cartridges for the Clapper.” - Her heavy repeating carbine's nickname was such, because when she used its lever action, the mechanism unleashed an ominous clap.

Tenaros attached the broadsword to his knight's belt, paired with a heavy, wide bladed dagger and reached for the shield. It was pointless to argue; his dear wife Miverna was a seasoned urban scout and arcane firearms specialist. True it was that Rem knew people – he also knew dwarves, goblins, and elves, but... that was beside the point. The Knight Arcanum and his wife were some of the orcs who worked for Rem; with danger pay and full health benefits included, Tenaros would be damned if he allowed his employer to suffer harm. Though the magics he could employ were precious few in number, his spell weaving and martial skill were both honed to perfection. His wife's aim guided her alchemical projectiles well – few of those who faced the dreaded family in battle escaped with their miserable lives. Tales full of dread were told in the wee hours of the night, warnings were offered to other villains like them, eager to do ill and harm innocent Krartians. True it was what the debased spoke about Tenaros and Miverna – going against them was equivalent to a suicide, without having a small army at least. It took the duo counted few minutes, but soon both heavily armed, armored from tip to toe orcs exited their abode through its secret passage. Looking at his gun wielding wife, the knight shouldered his thick, broad kite shield and with hand ready to draw the blade, ordered:

“Let us hurry Young Chatterhand - to the Eastern Gate!”

* * *

Sometimes the forests around Krart were just as dangerous than its shadowy streets.

Krart's enormous walls loomed in the far distance, soot-laden smoke from one fish drying factory concealed part of Rem's view. Though cloudy and smoky, at least there was the aroma of freshly cooked fish lingering about. He gently twisted his torso, in an effort to check how badly cracked his ribs were and weather the bones were healing well. After that armor piercing arrow slammed his chest and ruined Brelt's protective plates, lodged its tip a mere inch above his heart, he traveled all bandaged. Bortom's wife, Loriane, was a skilled doctor and covered Rem's many bruises with a restorative ointment. The cracked ribs, however, those would be needing another day or two to fully heal, even after he consumed another one of his restorative potions. Only the most powerful prayers, provided one of the tree gods were feeling favorable this day, could instantly regenerate bone. Potions were a somewhat slower, yet much safer and indeed cheaper way to medicate oneself. That cloud of soot, it soon would loom above their well hidden camp; set up in one of the Krartian forests, which Irohans planted to be used as blessed fuel, gray snowflakes gently sprinkled the tree tops. Rem shuddered despite him wearing a thick shirt and a woolen cloak on top – the Frost was close. Only one of the blue snowflakes could spell your doom; you don't even need touch it. So overwhelming was its coldness that everything alive in few feet around it turned into a solid block of encased in ice flesh. This Turn, the priests and sages stated with certainty that the Frost would come in one ninth. Probably everyone in Krart was preparing for the festivities and, stashing what extra supplies they could get their hands on. Though Rem liked the “Festival of Life”, which was celebrated after the Frost ended and the Warmth began, the “Mourning of the future Dead” was still somewhat pleasurable. Moreover, being a devout Kannite, the solver of problems had excellent standing with certain priests of Iroh. He could always expect them to gift him with a blessed bundle of wood. Which he then split and donated to poorer families or some of his most needy informants – one had to look after his followers, always.

He scratched his stubby beard and looked at the traveling carts Bortom provided for his luggage. His usual moving crew was forced to work on a short deadline, yet they graciously offered to help “smuggle” Rem into the city. First place he needed to reach was his base – the tavern called “The Busty Elf”. Some of his people were already alerted and those who lived the closest to the Eastern Gate, already there, waiting for him. Now he only had to decide what to do, how exactly he should utilize all resources and what to ask of his allies. The countess had most probably already alerted the city guard, spun a web of lies and labeled him a rogue solver of problems. He breached the contract after all and opened her chest, “appropriated” her property. Fighting with the guards was out of the question – if he did harm them in any way, there'd be no place for him in Krart, nor legal jobs for that matter. Even though Rem did a lot of shady work around the city, solvers of problems like him took legitimate contracts from time to time. It was mercenary work, bodyguard detail and, yes, oftentimes elimination of dangerous criminals. Those paid really well and the city guard owed him a favor or two, but not now. Rem had to call everyone he knew and collect – the guards nevertheless closed their eyes when he and his people butchered all members of that secret society. Many of the cultists were rich, others somewhat famous, some members of what was left of the high nobility and therefore... connected. For months his contacts had to stall and sabotage investigations, lie to rich nobles and traders, deflect hundreds of scrying attempts. They pulled through for him, but it cost him everything; if he ever wanted to get their good will back, Rem would have to do something big, help the guards. No, he had to dodge these ex-adventurers and with all haste reach his base of operations. Then regroup, form a plan to deliver the contents of Levoah's chest safely to the main temple of Kan. It would be a trek most deadly, quite the perilous long stroll across half the city. During the festival and few, counted days before the Frost threw its deadly blanket over these lands. He looked again at each wagon, his eyes carefully examined everyone who toiled or strolled around them. 

Bortom, Loriane, and Valeria were checking some of the cargo crates, which his movers proposed to smuggle him through the city gate with. The elves were experts in their sneaky craft, and Rem would've gladly agreed to do a stunt like this any day, but now. Who knew how many of Levoah's agents were posted on each gate, looking for him and Val? Also, he had to assume that some guards might be compromised – either by blackmail or outright replaced by the countess's operatives. Nevertheless, that was probably his safest bet – these movers had a legitimate company and their caravans, a usual sight. Rem, despite his reservations, decided to adopt their plan, hop inside the biggest barrel or crate and pray for the best. Bortom and his Hoods would provide security – if something bad happened, the stocky dwarf swore they'd bulrush the guards, make sure he got into the city. - If that is Rem's choice, vote 1 in your comment.

There was another option – the old elven musketeer, Martok had devised a dastardly plan of his own. While he polished his musket yesterday, not only his bearded face and alchemist prosthesis took him apart from his elven kin. The grizzled sharpshooter stated with a sterner voice, that if someone could create a diversion, make sure that both city guards and Levoah agents looked the other way – that would be he and his boys. He explained in great detail how they'd simulate a “deadly” firefight between themselves. One side would be them and the other – an elusive band of Useless. With their skill and accurate weaponry, the riflemen would most probably succeed. While a portion of the guard dashed out, in order to provide aid and protect the civilian traffic, Rem and the rest would sneak in with the crowd. - If that is Rem's choice, vote 2 in your comment.

Rem could always attempt to sneak through Krart's sewers, take Felk with him in order to sneak past the magical wards. However few, the guard still maintained patrols recruited from specialists – scouts, and rangers skilled in underground survival. He hated going down there; even a short trek into the sewers could quickly transform into a deadly ordeal. If one of these patrols or a group of Levoah's agents crossed his way, Rem had to halt and go back. If his cloak of improved invisibility carried enough magical charge, he would've had a much greater chance of success. Nevertheless, skilled in the ways of stealthy movement across any terrain, he believed that sneaking through the sewers was probably the best way. He only need travel for a short time, then exit the sewers behind the Eastern Gate. If he committed to this option, Val would have to be smuggled in one of the crates, under the protection of Bortom and his people. Still hurting from his barely healed wounds, with the help of his maid Rem donned Cyant. Teeth gritting, he sheathed Sap and Sparrow on the belt and, after wishing everybody good luck, stealthily strutted towards the nearest sewer pipe. Floating next to him was Felk, whose eyes did not glow, so he would not pinpoint Rem's position to those who kept watch. - If that is Rem's choice, vote 3 in your comment.

Link to Solver of problems episode 2 part 2.

Link to Solver of problems episode 2 part 3.

Link to Solver of Problems episode 2 part 4.

Link to Solver of Problems episode 2 part 5.

Link to Solver of Problems episode 2 part 6.