The World Tree

Bringing Down the House

The Grey Man turns to face the party, but he is looking squarely at only one person.

“Zaknithra,” he says. “I’m glad you came. You and me…we have some things we need to work out.”

The rest of the party looks at Zak, who seems as confused as they are. Does he know this man from somewhere? He cannot recall.

The Grey Man chuckles. “I’m not surprised you wouldn’t remember me. Perhaps it’s better this way for now. You see, it’s not time yet. But it will be soon.”

“How do you know me?” Zak presses. “Who the hell are you?”

“In time, Zak. In time. As far as how I know you…well, maybe you’ll have the chance to ask Veremillae yourself. Maybe.” Zak freezes. Vere. His lover. His DEAD lover. He watched her die…right? While he is taken aback, the Grey Man sets his gaze on the other party members.

“What loyalties do any of you even owe towards Jarvis? You just show up out of nowhere and pledge yourselves to him? What can he offer you? That man is broke. Desperate. He is losing. You can remain rats aboard a sinking vessel, or” he pulls out a fat coin purse “you can end this conflict on the winning side.” He sees the sparkle in Xull’ree’s eyes and throws him the purse, which contains 1,000 platinum coins. “That is a pittance compared to Elise’s vasts resources. Let this whet your appetite.”

The Grey Man cuts off any further inquiry. “I have other business to finish. Until we get another chance—and we will—I have someone else for you to play with. Don’t die, Zak. I’d be very disappointed.”

A rumbling sound is heard all around. Suddenly, through the wall on the right comes crashing a freakishly large man wrapped in stones and plates of all kinds and wielding two tower shields.

[Battle Music: I Want My Tears Back (Instrumental) – Nightwish]

The Grey Man barks some orders to the half-giant in an unknown tongue, calling him a Wrecker, who then charges forward, crashing through crates and support beams alike. Watching the chaos for a few moments, the Grey Man and his two cohorts then turn to leave. Zak tried to run after him, but is blocked by explosive traps and the rampaging Wrecker, whose reckless destruction begins to bring down the entire warehouse on top of everybody. As he approaches death, the Wrecker makes for the same door through which the Grey Man exited, which is now barred. While smashing on it, Zak delivers the killing blow by leaping atop his back and snapping his neck. Brieck manages to finish breaking the door and the party comes leaping out into open air again as the building collapses behind them.

Meeting up with Jarvis again, the party explains all that occurred.

“Kobolds? Really? I’m…genuinely surprised that Elise would have anything to do with them. I mean, they’re cheap to hire, but unpredictable at best. And a Wrecker? Those are hard to find in these parts, and their service is expensive. I bet Elise felt that loss. As for the Grey Man, he managed to slip through the net that I had set up around the warehouse. That tunnel came out much farther away than I had anticipated…well, DAMN. … sigh … Go get some sleep. I’d say you look as bad as animal waste, but that would be an insult to animal waste.”

Before going to sleep, Samuel asks Xull’ree about the money pouch that Jarvis threw at him. Xull’ree claims (successfully bluffs) that it was lost in the chaos of the battle, but Samuel, who can’t tell if he’s lying or not but chooses not to believe him, tries to knock him out with the butt of his rapier. Xull’ree responds with an Acid Arrow to the face. Before things can escalate further, both of them feel daggers pressed to their throats. They hear Jarvis speak in a calm, cold voice. “If you are finished—which you are—then sheathe your weapons and sleep it off. I will not let this be a problem.” They both nod and Jarvis backs off. Reverting to his usual casual “Seriously, I sometimes wonder how you’ve spent this much time together without having killed each other. Well, I’m not complaining. Not yet, anyways.”

The party takes a much needed rest.



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