Brogendenstein Confidential

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Intrepid42
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Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:38 pm

~~~~~~
My name's Dorn. Dorn Iron Anvil. I find things. Or, if you're one of those high muckity-muck nobles, I'm an "Investigator". If you can afford the daily plus expenses, you can call me either as you please. Call me something else, and you'd better be paying extra.

I'm named for some ancient hero. Then again, so is every other stout. Few enough as we may be now, there's been a lot of us, and there's only so many names to go around. Ma, Berronar bless her, read the ancient sagas to me, my sister, and everyone else she could bend the ear of.

So no, I'm not related to the Dorn of old. Last time our houses met was probably Old Shanatar. Or maybe even before. Old Shanatar was a pretty big place.

But this is my tale, not his. And I'm Dorn of the Iron Anvil clan.

That's the Iron Anvil clan of Brogendenstein. We're a good clan. These days you won't find many of us in Council, or in Grundi's Forge. But we're organised as well as any, and help keep things running in the background. Need a northern outpost guarded? Iron Anvil Clan.

That's us. Not myself, but that's the meat (and whiskey) of this tale.

Don't get me wrong. Iron Anvil has a lot going for it. Mithral Hall may have a reputation, and maybe they deserve it. But they'd learn a thing or two about danger over in Arelith. Those mountains are Dangerous. That breeds a certain kind of stout. And a certain routine.

Wake up. Bread and Ale. Battle training. Shift ore. Talk about Camp Duin. Bread with stew. Clean forge. Stew with bread. More Ale. Talk about Duergar and the latest foolish adventurer. That's fine if you're a typical holdborn. Keeps you upright and most of your blood inside you.

But I've always been a delver. Ever since the days of sneaking past a younger version of Grundi to grab a peak at the mines.

I remember the delvesson of Dumathoin talk about how the stone is alive. And she was right. It's alive just like you and me, just on a different scale. Think a decade between breaths. And it shifts, lives. Hurts.

Put beings in it, and it lives a different way. The stone moves faster, and the folks move faster yet. A human city? It's another level of fast. The stone lives so fast it's broken. Mostly. Stacked upon itself like a pile of old bones. But teaming with life, each bit of it leaving it's mark. But the stone leaves it's mark back.

It's a morbid place for a stout. Not a place for a decent stout. Not a place I thought I'd ever end up.

I had other choices, of course. But I'm not as young or foolish now. Well, not as young anyway.

At that place, at that time, to me it was looking like Camp Duin or get off the Isle. I chose the latter.
~~~~~~
Last edited by Intrepid42 on Sun Dec 17, 2017 6:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Sat Dec 16, 2017 6:46 am

I didn't expect to stick around in Waterdeep. But it had something I'd never seen before. And I didn't fancy the endless green expanse that was the way to the Spine. So I stayed. Made some contacts. Met some alright sorts.

I didn't expect to be an Investigator either. But a stout in Waterdeep without a fondness for forging or fighting had better find some other useful skill quick.

No-one listens to the stone there. Well, almost no-one, technically. Proper patience ain't something Waterdhaevians are renown for.

Some noble has a vandalised statue? They look for a dwarf. Dwarf points out the bleeding obvious. And gets paid. Emphasis on that last bit.

Starting out was easy.
~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Sun Dec 17, 2017 6:53 am

Statue vandalism was a good job to start with.

The victim wasn't (usually) going anywhere in a hurry. Or getting hauled off to the Temple before I got a chance to scope out the scene.

But mainly because success didn't have to be absolute. A narrowed range of suspects was better than naught. And if the first time didn't work out, there was always the chance of repeat business. Criminal masterminds they weren't, and they'd usually be back.

Other jobs were different. Like a stolen pedigree racing hound. That poor mutt had almost certainly been smuggled out of the city hours before I got involved. Plus once the blinkered old fop told me to lay off his so-called friends at the Club, there wasn't much to go on.

It was like one of those cracks in the seam that you have to be prepared for, but never see coming. After a few questions and a visit to a holding yard, it was clear that my client's cozy circle of chums was up to no good. If they weren't abducting dogs, they were certainly setting up to abduct something.

But I never got a chance to learn more. The blowback on that was something fierce. Got the "talk" from a Commander of the City Watch in person.

That brought a temporary end to my burgeoning career defending the virtue of the Noble Houses of Waterdeep. I didn't have much choice in the matter. You can mildly piss off the nobles, or the Watch, or the gangs. And maybe scratch out a living if you stay useful. But all three gets you beaten, jailed and shivved all at once.

The whole affair didn't sit right. It left a sour taste in the mouth. Sour like a barrel of orcish booze.

But I had to knuckle down and move on. I had bills to pay. And William the barkeep was just one of them.
~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:50 pm

Complex is the word I'd choose to describe my relations with the Morndinsamman.

I stood in the back of the Temple with the family. I heard the sermons. We've got a place in the world, sure enough. Priests can sure talk a good talk when they mean to.

But for all the talk about duty and teachings, they come up short on certain specifics. That's where it comes down to us, I guess.

It probably all goes back to this one day. The sonnlinor's sermon had been particularly, shall we say, weighty. To be clear, it wasn't that later Braidstone who made a name for himself. This was a fair few years back.

I had just reached my majority. Allowed to wear an axe in public, a different set of beard rings, and all that my house held store by in that. I walked to the side of the Temple on the way out and thought that there must be another way.

Out of the corner of my eye there was a glint. Like a natural facet on the purest of gems. I've always had a good eye. For the briefest moment, the mace in the hand of the statue of Marthammor Duin glimmered. It was enough.

The Halls lacked a Trailblazer at the time. But the delvesson, bless her, helped me with some of the old teachings.

Later, as I worked and endured in Waterdeep, there were plenty of days when I wondered why the Finder of Trails still bothered with me at all. I'd seen too much to really believe all the dogma. Security in fellowship with the other races? I had serious doubts there.

But I was there in that place, and there was no shortage of ordinary folks of all sizes getting done over. I'd tell myself that I was doing Marthammor's work, and most of the time I believed it.

But like them all He was taking the long view. He had his plans.
~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 10:27 pm

You won't be reading this looking for maudling.

So don't get me wrong. There were plenty of times things went to plan.

Like this one time. The rain had lifted. The ground was damp, but not wet. Dawn was yet to break and the streets were clear of honest folk. It was the right time for tracks. And there's always a few who forget that some folk can see in the dark.

So I was out and about. Being pro-active as it were.

The markets stock up in the early hours. So the shelves are laden come sunrise. Carts from the gates, unloading at the Docks. And where there's crowds there's opportunity.

Didn't take long for the sort of cry that means work to ring out. A quick duck through an alley, and a look at the scene.

Upset merchant by cart. Check. Cheap and useless hireling looking around blankly. Check. No City Watch in sight. Check. Obvious gap where a crate used to be. Check. Slightly deeper footprints leading away. Check.

I strolled over with coat open, puffing on my trusty pipe. Honeyed words ain't my thing, but clients are suckers for style.

Her eyes locked onto mine. Funny how that happens. Merchants have a real eye for profit. And unless they're peddling whisky I ain't offering any. So most of the time with merchants it's like I ain't there. But not when they need real help.

I gave her the look. Yeah, I can help you, it said.

She said her piece. I let the words roll over me while I soaked up the scene, feeling for the little points of difference. An unarmoured human. Quick and strong. That was different. Not someone who couldn't afford leather. Someone out of armour by choice. And not likely to be a wizard. Unless it was one of those particularly odd ones.

Here's a tip for anyone starting out. They're angry, confused and don't know what to do. Or say. You want to shut them up and ask your questions. But let them say their bit. There's patterns in the way folks act. Interrupt them, and you lose that. Let the story flow, and you'll get subtle hints that can break the case.

I let a pause hang in the air, then I made my pitch, casual-like. All the while the almost-client imagined her crate scurrying further away. An easy sell. She had coin to spare. If I pulled this off, I wouldn't have to bill some poor widow as much next week.

I made a show of following the tracks until the first corner, then switched to a proper walk. The target could have out-paced me, they were fast. But they got too confident and I could see the pace slacken in the prints. Good. I try to avoid the really skilled ones. I can swing an axe, but no need to take chances.

They stashed the crate in a cellar, then made an exit. Caught a glimpse of them soon after. A real disciplined sort, right down to the face. No weapons in sight, but it was clear that wasn't a good sign. This wasn't someone I wanted to face down in person.

I tipped off the Watch and informed the client that today was her lucky day. Then I just had to wait until the crate arrived. No need to drag that heavy thing myself. Plus it's best not to make things too easy for the Watch. They need to feel that they've earnt it.

The merchant tried to weasel out of the terms. But this Watchman was a local lad who gave a damn. An alright sort, just a little slow.

And so the gears of commerce continued to grind. A decent Watchman got a success for his report. And I had a fair fee in my pocket.
~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:52 pm

Most jobs went pretty clean. And some were beyond anyone.

But it's always the ones you didn't quite pull off that weigh heavy. I had a rep by then. Well, a bit of one. Locally.

So it meant I was seeing those same faces on the streets. Market stalls. Even the local tavern. Also known as my office. If you want fancy digs you can pay twice as much for half the skill uptown.

There's scant living off the land in a city. Forget hunting and gathering. Unless you're eating rats or diving into Undermountain you need to earn coin to put food in your belly. And say what you like about us stouts, we need a fair bit of feeding.

By then I was pushing the spirits pretty hard. Trying to forget. And if it takes a lot to keep a stout working, it takes even more to forget the work.

So I had to charge.

The Hidden Lords push the safe and secure rep pretty hard. And sure, Waterdeep ain't the worst city on the Sword Coast. But if you ain't a rich merchant or adventurer there's ordinary troubles in the back streets.

And ordinary folk don't tend to have a lot of coin. Because they've been robbed half-blind by the time they think of seeing me. So no private office for this stout.

So I had to look them in the eye. The ones I couldn't help.

The years went by. And then the day came I couldn't look at them back.

It was time to get out.
~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:04 am

They say the trip out lasts as long as your impatience, the trip back as long as your regrets. This trip back was plenty long.

The Captain may have called it a spot of weather. But that creaking assemblage of planks he called a ship rocked and moaned like a kneecapped Yeti all the way to Cordor.

Let me tell you. When I got off that boat I was determined to make my place in Arelith. If only to avoid setting foot on another boat from then until Dwarfhome.
~~~~~~

Cordor now was bigger than Cordor past. But at the same time it seemed smaller after Waterdeep. And I wasn't bigger than I was last time. Well, around the middle maybe.

It had one key difference. Younger city. With younger stone. Not many statues needing vandalism chased down. And I didn't have the ken or contacts for my usual work. So I needed some other job for coin. Picked up a job delivering packages. Easy enough. Then there was some city employee that tried to get me to clear out his workplace for him, with naught but some vague hints about coin. Your classic confidence scam. It was starting to feel like home already.

Ran into some Ironhelms in the tavern, then right next to them some new lad offering agency work. Fair enough, I get most of my work sitting in a tavern. But it's not the usual thing for a company. They must be keen to cut costs if they expect that lad to haul sacks of coin around drunk adventurers every day.

But he wasn't looking to hire advice. Mercenary work, and well-paid. Suspiciously well-paid for new hires, adventurer economy or not. That means a catch, so I did some ground work and came back later. Glad I did. When they talk about infested sewers in Cordor they ain't larking about.

This Isle is a layer of gold plate on a rusted core. And when the rust shows through, they get adventurers to scrape it down again. This place is kept by sweat, death, and a river of ancient gold and trinkets.

After seeing one ill-fated fool after another head into Undermountain, here I was on the same path. But the pay was good. Even after paying for bandages and gear I was pulling more than I ever did chasing lost dogs.

And it had it's consolations. The gangs here don't have the same street presence. Forget facing three of them in an alley. The real danger is how likely you are to get shivved sleeping in your own bed. The guards here were obviously doing something right, smaller city or not.

So I didn't have to worry about my next meal for a bit. That was good.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Mon Aug 27, 2018 11:28 pm

They say you need a spine of steel in this line of work.

Me, I've got two. One on each hip.

One's a good waraxe, and it helps keep me out of trouble. The other's a hip flask of Brog's second-cheapest, and it helps me deal with trouble.

I carry an Adbarrim pattern reverse-heft waraxe, as my Pa would say. He knew his axes. Taught me most of what I know about how to swing one.

Tallfolk often joke about how dwarves love their axes. Well, that was my Pa. Practically born with an axe in hand. And died with one, facing Duergar on the mountain slopes some years back.

The priest got to him quick. The hold is pretty damn good at taking care of it's own. But it was his time, I guess.

Don't feel sorry for younger me. I was brought up alright. If there wasn't Pa, there was Ma. If there wasn't Ma, there was family. If there wasn't family, there was clan. If there wasn't clan, there was hold. If there wasn't hold there was kin. There's always someone willing to help a young stout.

Do I still miss him? I don't let myself. I've got worries enough when I'm on a job. But after a pint or two of whiskey? Yeah. Yeah, I do.

Pa would have marched into the Hall of Clangeddin like the Iron Anvil he is, and practically shouted the tale of his deeds to the ancestors. A life lived between his hold and ancient foe. A good clean life.

Lucky bastard.
~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:06 am

It should have been an easy job.

A straightforward wizard escort and trap springing. We were working a job from the Nomad agent, so after my earlier run-ins I had my ears open. But the graveyard was in-use, so I had reckoned on a certain level of undead winnowing already done.

A rookie mistake. This wasn't the City of the Dead back east, but a savage frontier. Looks like the guards hold the walls, and adventurers do the culling. Only it had obviously been a while.

A cult worshipping some sorcerous monstrosity had barricaded themselves inside. But it wasn't just that. Their Master wasn't some two-copper wanna-be. It looked to be a proper lich, with phylactery jar and all the trappings. Gods what a mess that day was, but we both got out alive and breathing. The jar was hidden in plain sight, which was the last place I'd hide it if I had a choice. But magics a fickle mistress, and I'm guessing something beneath was interfering with the leylines or such.

There's a story or three beneath this forsaken city. That maze of walkways was a dead giveaway, if you'll excuse the expression. That wasn't just a crypt, but something designed to keep someone out. Or something in. But this stout wasn't going back.

Not for a while, anyway. It was time to try going freelance again. Couldn't be more dangerous, I thought.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:14 am

Homecoming was much as I expected.

I'd avoided it long enough. But wanderer or not, I was still Iron Anvil.

An ocean between here and the kingdoms of old, but you'll still see more pilgrims and adventuring stouts than probably Mithral Hall itself. There's reason for that, but that's a tale of it's own. So the clans are used to new faces and returning kin both. But there's still a seam in the strata. Why did you leave us, it says.

I get it, it's the schtick that keeps the holdborn on a straight edge. We're actors on a stage, saying the words said before. Bal Rannis had his lines. And so did I.

But like I said, I was still Iron Anvil. I ran a few patrols, and earnt my place by the fire at Camp Duin. Acceptance would come in time, or it wouldn't. If you care overmuch what folks think you won't get far. And the clans aren't daft enough to turn down good help.

The Warden was a new lad. Others must think we have a mold we cast our Wardens, Captains and Axelords from. He had that look. Face carved from granite. And eyes that have seen too much. It's a look I'm familiar with. Only he'd earnt that facing unspeakable horrors beneath the hold, not chasing dogma amongst the tortured stone of Waterdeep. Did he sleep at night? By the Mace I hope so. Because that'd make one of us.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:07 am

I saw the Purser about a case.

I was working a run of thefts in Bendir. It looked like one of those no clues, no suspects, no chance jobs. But reputable payers were offering good coin, and the more I dug about the more of a pattern there seemed to be.

Word was the Hall of Vergadain had lost an Order Board with multiple possible witnesses. I ran down time and place and the shopkeeps. But it seemed that noone had seen anyone lift the Board. On digging around, it looked like with all the shifting to and from the Hall they'd lost it in a bureaucratic shuffle. And someone had just put in a rug big enough to need a whole lot of shifting about.

Not every case is a crime. There's plenty of room for dumb luck in this world. But the what might have been, it hung on me like the stench of Luskan pipeweed. Had someone gotten real clever? Hard to be sure.

But the thing about wood and stone is that you need patience. They're less chatty than folks, most of the time. And they don't give up their secrets quick. But that's alright. You can rebuild stone. People, not so much.

I traded that favour for a crossbow order. I'm not perfect, and I might have been away. But I try not to be deliberately stupid. You don't go asking the Thane of Brogendenstein to pay good coin to a holdborn for doing a job. But barter's something the clans know well. You have to know how to make your way.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:27 am

I remember my first killing clearly.

It was back in Waterdeep. The victim was a young hin lad. He was a stranger in a strange land. I know the feeling.

Now, the smallfolk do a pretty decent job looking out for one another. There's a lot more to them than meets the eye. But there's always those who fall through the cracks.

The Watch did their thing, but it was one of those no witness, no leads situations. Fortunately for his departed soul, he had a sister who managed to scrounge up my daily and get to me in time to beat the priests.

Anyway, this time I got there in good time.

When you're working from scratch, the gold is in the details. Every little snippet forms part of the pattern. The sister had her blind spots, but it was clear the fallen was pretty quick on his toes, but unseasoned.

Now, I know what you're thinking. When do you ever meet a hin on the streets of Waterdeep who isn't quick? Well, let me tell you, assumptions get you the wrong perpetrator. So let me work this case, and you can chime in at the end.

There was a veritable library of wounds and blows on the poor lad. But one of the first was an upward thrust right into the heart. You can tell by the blood splatter. And it put him down well before the last. Either someone or someones had a surplus of anger, or they were trying to hide something. And the poor lad didn't sound like the type to get anyone riled up.

Now the ribs slope out and down. They tend to bounce cuts from above. It's Moradin's way of keeping blood in your body. Hin have the same thing, only with thinner bones. To get an upward chest thrust into a hin you need to get real real close. One of the tallfolk practically has to bend over. And there it was. A knee print. Or more like a narrow kneecap shape where the gore wasn't. So I was looking for a lightly armoured human.

A sharp young thing like this lad saw his killer coming, and let him get that close. Roads here are too sparse at that time for a crowd. So he didn't just know him. He trusted him. Rather too much.

So that cleared the range of suspects like a mageduel in a tavern.

It was mainly rote work after that. Eventually I found hints that our lad had come into some treasure. Nine times out of ten, it's about the coin. Those one out of tens can be tricky, but this wasn't one of those.

One of the local bruisers had both a reputation for mentoring and a newly-acquired habit for more expensive drink. He was also said to be reformed and on the straight and narrow, which was starting to seem both inaccurate and premature. Soon enough I heard that our lad and the bruiser had been seen together.

My relationship with the authorities was going through one of it's difficult stages at the time, so the Watch weren't about to haul him in and sweat him on my say. His former gang, which was looking rather current by now, made pushing him by myself a losing prospect.

The City of Splendours was starting to lose it's shine for me. So I wasn't about to just do nothing. At the very least I had to warn the local smallfolk, but added in some informed hints about time and place.

From what I heard, they passed it on to our villain's former rival, who intervened. Decisively. It turned out he was yet another former player in our performance who wanted to grace center stage once more.

So yes, it was the first killing I had a hand in. Blood was on my hands, sure as if I knifed him myself.

Did I care at the time? Not one bit.

But every deed has it's price. And you don't get to choose when the debt's called in.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:24 am

I hadn't had much to do with priests for a while.

Well, not by choice at least. After leaving a younger version of Modurra behind all those years ago, I'd been running a game of sorts.

Die on the streets of Waterdeep in any sort of fashion that's likely to come across my desk, and another round of that old-time classic known as 'Which Temple' started playing. By desk, I mean table. And it weren't mine, it belonged to the tavernkeep of the day.

Sometimes the game was straightforward enough. Say it was a Watch case involving a halfling, or hin as you should call them to their face, unless you want half a dagger in the kidney of your choice. Anyways, in those cases the Watch would usually approach the local shrine of Yondalla, or the Tower of Luck of Tymora down the Street of the Singing Dolphin. I'd heard there was a shrine to Urogalan somewhere, but I guess the Watch found the grimwardens of that faith just as damned unsettling to deal with as I did.

But some sun-baked human remains with a vague air of mystery, and it was a real roll of the die as to which bunch of unbearded acolytes would come barrelling along.

Why is all this important? Well, a lot of the Temples talk a good talk about preparing the soul for the appropriate heaven or other eternal-or-such repository. But humble yours truly, I always held that the dearly departed might rest or fight or carouse a whole heap better if the bastard that sent them on their way got a taste of what might pass for justice first. There were exceptions, like the Knights of Tyr and this one wandering Hoarite I could write a book about. But on the whole the priests and I didn't see things the same way. And the Temples didn't send their finest on the sort of jobs I dealt with, so I had to deal with all sorts of robed numpties traipsing about the scene of the deed.

Sometimes I could swear they tried to put their great big muddy footprints through all the clues on purpose. And that was often the way, if if I wasn't lucky enough to get hired before the Temples got wind of things. Looking back, maybe I should have lingered some more in the Tower of Luck when I was there.

A few times that sort of mess worked in my favour. I'd turn up to find some particularly zealous priests arguing about jurisdiction outside, and I could stroll past looking like I belonged there, and maybe get a look at the scene before the body or bodies got hauled away.

There were even a few jobs I got hired for tracking down which faith the departed paid due heed to. Dorn of Iron Anvil, servant of the Temples of Waterdeep, that was me some days. You would think a quick prayer or three would sort that out. But I wasn't surprised to learn that the High Ones of certain faiths argued just as hard between themselves as their acolytes on the streets did. And sometimes they'd rather hire some deniable intermediary than have to actually deal in person with their fellows. The pay was terrible, but it was usually rote work if I could get a name.

If this chapter is still in the final print then I'm obviously pretty sure of my place in Dwarfhome. There's a price to tweaking the pride of priests, and I had better things to do with my time. So back then I tended to bite my lip and focus on the job at hand. But I reckon after decades of trying to wrangle the jobs that fell between the cracks I'm owed a bit of plain speaking in this here book.

Anyway, to wrap up, I had gotten used to an almost-comfortable degree of skullduggery in my dealings with the Temples. But that had to change after the trip back.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Thu Sep 27, 2018 5:21 pm

That started to become clear after the first few jobs.

Maybe it was because I found myself suddenly running with adventurers and other notables, or maybe it was something about that thrice-cursed Isle itself as one wizard claimed. But Raises and even full-blown Ressurrections took most of that sort of work away. There's less need for witnesses when you can get the low down from the victim direct.

I wasn't complaining. Working too many murders rots the soul. And in my case was putting me towards needing a priest myself. Hells, probably way past that.

It was still plenty dangerous. Arelith puts anywhere else to shame, as I said. But you don't need an Investigator to tell you the Drow have just hit.

Coming closer to what was still, if not Home, then A home, put a few things front and centre I'd been avoiding. It was past time to work on whatever arrangement the Finder of Trails had in mind for me. It only took one visit to the Hall of Vergadain to work out what I wasn't looking for. I'd missed the last Braidstone, and the High Sonnlinor was a new lad. He looked like the weight of the entire world was his to bear. Then I guess that sort of comes with the territory. Brogendenstein ain't the size of Citadel Adbar, and priests can be thin on the ground. There was probably something I could do to help.

Maybe I could help myself in the process. I'd tried the whiskey option, and take it from me that it gets pricey for one of the stoutfolk.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:43 am

But first there was a Job I needed to put away. Templework rarely pays the bills.

Political jobs never run smooth. Another tip for anyone starting out, never give a fixed quote on a political job unless you really need to make a name for yourself. There's always a fistful of issues, and the expenses are more than you'd ever believe.

It was a Bendir case. The smallfolk are a naturally cheerful bunch. Which is good for them. But it still meant all the fun of political squabbles, plus all the fun of family squabbles. With all the fun of couple squabbles if I was unlucky. And it was starting to look like one of those.

I'd been laid up for a bit following an Orcish arrow, but I probably should have sucked it up and limped about some more.

In the meantime there had been another round of said political squabbles, and now my client was the suspect's dame. So it was an open question if the case was still open. Good thing they had paid in advance.

The suspect had vanished again. Possibly to the far end of Faerun. And the witness I most needed to interview might have just got on a slow boat to some frozen island north-ways called Skal, looking for gnomes.

The fate of the last person who worked this case hung heavy in my head. When you hear the previous schmuck ended up dead without any case notes to be found, that should always ring alarm bells. No matter how the getting dead came about. A wise stout would have hired some protection if he was going to keep working the case.

Yep, just another day in Arelith.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Wed Oct 03, 2018 8:05 am

And just like that, another witness bought it.

They buried her in the graveyard, right next to my predecessor. Probably unrelated to the case, but it wasn't a good look.

It was a good place to think, so I hung by the graveside for a bit, even if this particular lady wasn't feeling too chatty. Graveyards of the mostly-dead kind are good for that. They're usually quiet, and there's always the chance of running into someone who knows the deceased in a contemplative mood. Heh, just like myself.

Plus you can't lose yourself in the place. Eventually you get unsettled and it's time to move on. Especially if there's space for a few more occupants. They build their graveyards big over in Arelith, and it ain't just because they have plenty of space.

~~~~~~

Why was I arsing about in Bendir? That was the question the kinfolk posed.

Well, truth was I owed the smallfolk. Not that I bandied that about too much.

A lone stout in Waterdeep without a hankering for forging or fighting had best find some other useful skill quick, as I said. And it was the family-gangs in the warren-burrows that helped me along when they didn't have to. Some sort of kindred spirit thing, plus a few of them had history with the Earthkin Alliance.

So I owed their kin back west something.

Bendir's like an eldritch draw for every naysayer and evildoer north of Cordor. And yet the ordinary folks there keep chugging along with those damn-the-world grins of theirs. With naught but a thin line of wood and steel between their burrows and the horrors beyond. Fools and heroes both, every one of them.

Even if there were times I wanted to bang my head against a wall.

~~~~~~

All this was back in the time of Thane Ghestaldt.

I spoke with him once. Right before the end, when the ravages of the endless battles were finally claiming their due.

They say Barakor rarely die of natural causes. Well this one lasted right to the end, and I reckon the Sentinel knew he was paying Gorm's greatest price day after day, exactly where he was. He was every bit the stout the legends say, whatever those two-copper hacks say.

He pulled me out of the crowd with a word, and asked me to interpret some human slang. He chose right, too. Everyday Common? That I can handle. He spoke with me for a time after that. He had some things he wanted to, I don't know, maybe get straight in his own mind. Like a final accounting.

He looked at peace, at any rate. Someone who managed to get that last case closed before retiring. And not many can say that.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:37 am

Case closed.

One House against another, but it went a lot better than what passes for 'High' Justice in Waterdeep. More concerned about ordinary folk, at least. What I kept thinking about looking back was the loss of so many of their kin. Strung up and oozing other-worldly infection. Gods, anyone should have been driven half-mad by that. On the mainland the defendant would have been claiming provocation or insanity quick as you blink in anything a tenth as bad. But they never even whispered that defence. Guess they make adventurers tougher than I thought. Either that, or more prideful.

It might have been a narrow squeak, but I managed to avoid being Arbiter or Prosecutor. Would have done an alright job maybe. But truth and justice ain't always the same thing. Those two Houses needed to live and fight together, because there's always some other bastard out there, sharpening their dagger. And I reckoned they'd do better with their own doing the mending.

I'd prepared a bit, in any case. Just in case I went up against some nit-picking wizard. You can always tell the really dodgy ones, because they turn up with some Thayan magus for-hire.

It was a deep case, and those are always hard. I missed a few witnesses, but I didn't work the minor charges too hard. The lad had a point there, it looked like the officials were out to get him by that point. But when you mine that seam you get that rock.

Time to bank the coin and move on. Thanks to a damned fine dwarven vest I had a debt to pay off. And I reckon the Sonnlinor had something other than altar-scrubbing needing doing. Or, there was that other offer. Meant a long trip somewhere, but was certainly something different. If I didn't mind other-wordly ooze levels of excitement.

We'd just have to see.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:21 am

Ended up meeting with the High Sonnlinor. First decent priest I'd dealt with closely in a while. And one I reckon definitely earnt his keep.

We didn't have a Trailblazer back when I left, and followers of Marthammor I could trust were a bit lean where I had ended up. So it had just been me, my choices and few bits of paper. Walk the wild places, and seek security in fellowship with the other races said the books. Fine words, but a bit lean on that all-important execution.

A good priest has a way of looking at the bigger picture in a way I'd sort of explored, but never stuck with. I guess for some things it helps to have permission from someone with that priestly mantle. Like mothers, they have a habit of being right. I'd gone in thinking to help, but ended up getting helped more in return. Marthammor doesn't expect us to do everything alone. And trying to knock off problems by yourself one at a time is a path that ends up with you wanting to bang your head against a wall, take it from me. But I'd been an outsider for a long time. Doing anything different was going to take some thought. It's not as if I was going to just stroll up and join the guards in Cordor.

Yep. If you're one of the stoutfolk in Arelith thinking about dwelling in harmony as the writings say, then you can't avoid thinking about Cordor. It's a fair bit shy of the Sword Coast juggernauts such as Baldur's Gate, but growing up a holdborn on Arelith, it's a constant presence to the South. It's got real problems, but it's been hardened by it's place on the frontier, mark my words. It gets bounced in various directions by whatever faction can muster it's strength for a bit. Amnian puppet. Banite stooge. Private purse. It's been all those things and worse, tale says. But it always seems to bounce back to a natural state of unaffiliated chaos. It's stronger than it looks, but I was going to have to hold onto that thin seam of hope a lot in the days ahead.

And there was a fair bit of current need. Their Treasury had gone "missing" again, and thanks to the latest round of internal squabbles they were down on defenders. There was word of worsening crime in the streets, which made it sound like they needed Baliffs a lot more than they needed Investigators. In my line of work, there's definitely such a thing as too much work.

Their current leadership was a bit of an unknown, and you never know for sure what the next lot is going to be like. So it looked like private work for this stout for now, more of the same. Back to Cordor I went.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 4:14 am

So, Dorn Iron Anvil, nosy reporter.

Yep, that was the offer Twinkle-toes was making. Didn't take long, she practically ambushed me just shy of the city limits. I call her that because she's damned fast on her feet. Not to her face, mind. She's not someone you want to piss off. It's ironic as well, because she hits harder than a barrel full of rocks.

Anyway, she had a job offer. I'd dealt with a few news-sheet hacks in the past. And once folks know you're in that line of work a few doors close, and stay closed. So it ain't a short-term thing, regardless of what's in the contract.

But she was loaded and paid on time. That's a good combination to have in a client, mark my words. So you can be sure I listened careful-like. And it was closer to what I preferred than sticking bolts into hobgoblins. Private investigation work, only this one client prints the report publicly. It seemed doable, long as I kept jobs separate. And she didn't balk when I explained my usual writing style. I ain't one for that noble guff.

It made me wonder how thin loyalty was on the ground in Cordor right then, if the Press thought yours truly was a good hire. It was a city with Problems.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Thu Oct 25, 2018 10:43 pm

So one candle can light two more. And two can light four, and so on.

That was the good word from the High Sonnlinor. Sounded better than waiting for trouble to find me like the old days. And, if any of you wandering kin ever wonder if clan Hallowed-Candle take their candles seriously? Yep, they do. If I ever needed an idea for what to get him as a gift or payment, a set of good candlesticks would probably be fine.

But working for the Times, that wasn't originally what I had in mind. But the Chief was being on-form, and she had some good notions. It was Chief instead of Twinkletoes then. She paid well.

Why muck about with lighting two candles when you can go straight to four? Or eight? Only issue was what do the tallfolk like to read about? What do they need to read about? What would the Finder of Trails want?

Read plenty of things in my time. Wrote some things too. But it soon turned out it's different from working a lead. Never know who's going to read it and when. And what they call literature wasn't a key feature of the stack of papers and reports I got to deal with prior. But I'd seen enough newsheets to reckon what sort of hack I wasn't going to be. Gossip about what noble so-and-so was wearing this season? I'd rather stick my own head on a pike.

So I followed the coin. As in where Cordor was going to get theirs given the last Chancellor had for sure siphoned it off. And you might be thinking that gold's a natural topic for a stout. Well maybe. But if you wanted to read about ladies' fashion then you've bought the wrong book.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:56 am

I knew a stout back in Arelith.

He'd say you can't trust the tallfolk further than you can throw them. But if I was going to do right by Marthammor it was hard to avoid. Security in fellowship with the other races, and all that. So I stuck with the newspaper for a time. Wrote some articles, got some leads, made some contacts. Got a glimpse of the rust underneath all that gold leaf.

Only this particular patch of rust was hiding all the gold.

Anyways it gave a sense of perspective. Reporters might say they're neutral. That they just want the facts, ma'am. Take it from me, you're a mug if you believe that up front. It was like playing every side against the other all at the same time. And you couldn't cover all the angles all at once. I had to make choices. Did that lot really deserve all the attention, and what about those others who were better at leaving no leads lying about.

It was like wrangling every badger in a burrow, as certain someones might say. And that was it's own problem. I could have written a three-volume set about Bendir. Got as far as writing a few articles that'd pass muster. But it would have looked like I was making fun of them, even though it was the unvarnished truth. Putting things on paper changes the context, as I've said.

So I had to shelve a fair bit of ink on paper. Got behind on the quota I set for myself. And found a couple things about myself in the process. There were folks I wanted to look after, it seems.

Then Cordor did what Cordor does and tilted off in another direction. The followers of the Black Lord were on the up and up, and all of a sudden it wasn't the best of locations to be a stout. So I laid low and made an exit. Did I make a difference? Only Marthammor knows. And he ain't telling.

I tried to look on the bright side. It meant a clean break from the reporting racket. And there were a lot of jobs going back north. So I gritted my teeth and trusted my legs to that pile of splinters Laurick calls his ship.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Fri May 03, 2019 9:09 am

Freezing my arse off at Camp Duin had never looked better.

Pa would have been pleased. And Ma wasn't too angry about things, too. Everything went full-circle and I was back where another path might have ended up. Looks like you were right after all, Ma.

I was getting Brog coin for tasks the clanfolk do for ale and stew. But doing Mountain Ranger work's even more dangerous than watching me via that telescope at Duin. And best the coin was staying inside the clans rather than heading south. Or that's what I would have said if I'd thought of it at the time.

So I kept an eye out for jobs more to my liking. Linked a few cases to the Banites. That wasn't hard. Got threatened outside Myon. That also wasn't hard.

But that was just the warm-up.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Mon May 06, 2019 6:57 am

It was early-Mirtul.

The Claw of the Storms was just getting finished. But the days were still the sort that makes a stout need to put on some coats. And in Brogendenstein there's a lot of days like that.

The Hall of Trade is what most think of when they think of the Halls. It's two or three stories high, and spans some of the busiest stores this side of Waterdeep. It sits just shy of the dock-gate, which has probably borne more footprints even than the Main Gate out front. Above sits the emblem of the Halls. Travellers ignore it, but there it sits, watching all that come. It'd be a good spot for a stake-out, if I could convince the Purser to get a space worked into the back of it.

And in that Hall I was, working a case. I was looking for a witness. And she was worth the looking. Chainmail that went all the way down. Proper covering's important, let me tell you. Dwarven metal, with the links layered back and forth over each other in proper style under the plate. The sort of chain that can moisten the eyes of even old Grundi. The axe seemed to float at her side. A good Brogendenstein pattern, it practically glowed with rediscovered runes. It was the sort of axe that meant trouble.

You can tell a lot from armour. Folks make choices, but other folks have made choices before them. And so on, and so forth. And they're often the same choices. Only full helm in a tavern? He might be your suspect. Because he's clearly not there to drink.

Anyway, she had another nugget of information about a case. There'd been a spate of threats, against one merchant in particular. The outer semblance of the threats was a complaint about pricing. But the priciest items were available close by at a fraction of the cost, only they were behind certain barriers. All up that said a few things about our suspect.

But even so, our suspect was being cagey. Real cagey. I wondered if they were closer to us than we realised. Things died down after a bit, maybe they started feeling the pressure, or just found easier marks to get angry at. But if they came back we'd get them eventually. Patterns. It's always about the patterns.

~~~~~~

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Re: Brogendenstein Confidential

Post by Intrepid42 » Thu May 23, 2019 8:58 pm

After that came murmurings from the North. Old foes of the Halls were stirring.

Now, Undeath is something you deal with. Especially when you grow up in Arelith. But there are places where it ain't around every third corner, and you get more nuanced cases. Places like Waterdeep.

Take inheritance. Most of the time the precedent is pretty clear. Even if some wandering cultist gets old Great-Aunty's remains shuffling about, the bit that matters is off carousing in one of the heavens. Mind, sometimes from what I'd heard of their rep I had my doubts about the dearly-departed's final destination, but if you ain't sure it's best to indulge the client.

But then you get the odd ones who try to get, creative is the word, about their will and testaments. Or bequest. Or somesuch. Which opens a whole pile of worms sometimes. Take it from someone who had to open that pile occasionally.

There was one case where there was a new wraith in the family crypt. Usually that ain't a big problem to deal with in Waterdeep. You find yourself an adventurer that fits your budget and hope they have a suitably magic sword. But in this case there were a few wrinkles involving a recently late lamented grandfather, a will, and a chest-load of gold. Where there's a will there's a relative, as they say. And the bigger the will the bigger the room they need at the reading.

So one branch of this family were quite happy running the poor chap's interests for him, while those who were looking forward to getting their hands on what gold was left were quite keen to get him declared totally dead. In short, they needed proof of the deed. Now you can't just tell your standard adventurer you need proof of the deed. Well, you can, but there's no guarantee the Magistrate will buy it.

I had all sorts of trouble trying to tell that to clients, mind. They'll happily fork-out gold for some lad in full plate and a shiney sword. But just try and get them to spend silver on investigation hours so he knows what to bring back, or what sort of torment needs to get lifted. And then if the wraith's back next week because they hired some cheap out of towner it was all going to be old Dorn's fault, naturally.

There were deeper things in play with this one, though. All concerned were very cagey and bristled like a Kuldar facing down a hall-runner, at the very insinuation they might have played some part in their dear old relative's sense of anger and non-absence. That's the usual. But the unseemly coincidence over certain timings wasn't. The whole things smelled of dark magic of the deliberate kind.

Now that put it well above what they could expect from my daily plus expenses. But that strong hint of necromancy in a relatively important family got me some senior Watch and even some Archmage attention. You can run about the back streets with a knife and maybe get away with it. But pull that kind of stunt and their Hidden Lordships will do something about it.

Your classic archmage likes their glowing staves. With extra sparkles. But they have some tradition in Waterdeep about roaming around in disguise. So this hooded traveller in an old brown robe came knocking asking for charity for an old man. It was a good disguise, mind. Any other day I'd have bought it. But while I didn't grow up in the back streets of Waterdeep, I'd been working them for twenty years by then, so I might as well have been. Unlike some up-town outfits I could mention.

So I knew enough hobos to know that the ones who make it to being an old man, aren't daft enough to put themselves at that sort of crime scene. Standard stabbings, definitely. But not magical undeath. That sort of victimhood is contagious.

So I counted quietly to five. And asked him if he was here to help, or wanted some greenstones. Best not to tweak the pride of wizards too hard if you can avoid it. Got a laugh and my point across, so it did the job.

My bit of it was rote work after that. They found the Necromancer and did an almost-decent bit of justice on the ringleader in the family. Got a few things from it. A decent fee. A lot of nobles and their guild buddies angry with me. And a bit of a rep. There's a niche market for playing it straight. Not a large or lucrative one. But a market.

But this next job. It wasn't as clean as that.

~~~~~~

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