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Week Five

May 22nd, 1997
Avg. Rating: 4.2

Watercarn, Aproth 13th, Year of the Shield

Early this morning Kelly came down, and Juliet and Erik arrived for breakfast, to find five strange men in the Stone Hearth, arguing with Olaf. They each wore dark red leather armor, with the badge of a golden shield on their back, and they kept their conversation with Olaf quiet. Although the words couldn't be understood, the tone was unmistakably that of an argument.

Suddenly Olaf struck one of the men in the face, sending him reeling across the room and into the far wall. The other strangers all drew their weapons, as Juliet and Erik rushed into the fray to assist Olaf. Kelly grabbed Olaf's axe from above the bar and handed it to him just as the melee began.

The fight was brief but decisive. Four of the five men were killed, with no injuries among the party...the fifth man, apparently the leader, fled into the city streets, with Olaf in hot pursuit. As Erik was cutting loose one of the corpse's armor badges a Watch patrol arrived. They asked about what had happened, and if anyone knew who the strangers were or what they wanted. Since no one at the scene had any idea, they asked for Olaf to come to the nearest Watch tower to explain the morning's events.

Olaf returned soon after that, went to speak with the Watch, and finally returned to the Hearth. His only reply to everyone's questions was that the strangers must have been thieves, there to rob his tavern. Though no one was really satisfied with this explanation, it was clear that Olaf chose not to discuss what, if anything, he knew about the men (Kelly even tried speaking with him alone, away from the others, to no avail).

Once Olaf and Minya decided to close down the tavern for the day, Kelly walked to the Tower of Luck (she even convinced both Juliet and Erik to go with her). It was clear that attendance at the temple had diminished greatly- when Kelly spoke to the priestess Calishara about this she was told that, though overall attendance was lower, the number of worshippers and families who came seeking assistance was much greater. Before Kelly left, Calishara admitted to her that she was concerned with the recent changes in the city, after the Storm...the tension in the air, the rising crime areas, the blackened plants which flourished everywhere. No one seemed to know what was going on.

It was now late morning as Erik, Juliet and Kelly returned to the Stone Hearth. Though it was officially closed Talyth sat there, next to the Hearth, quietly plucking a few strings and humming a beautiful tune. The PCs asked him if he could find out who the marauders were. He agreed.

A few hours later Talyth returned with the information the party was seeking. The badge belonged to a newly formed mercenary group named the "Broken Shields", with about 30 members. Their reputation was mostly for being enforcers, "leg breakers" and "debt collectors"; they were formed about a month before. It seemed likely that these Broken Shields were hired to harass Olaf, but who hired them was a mystery. Erik and Juliet decided that the best course of action would be to go to the Bloody Fist, one of the Broken Shields' hangouts, and wait around. Talyth joined them too, as would have Einor if Olaf hadn't forbidden him to go. They didn't need to wait long...

Juliet first ran into Arnga, the large man she had seen during the night of the now infamous scavenger hunt. She chatted with him for a brief while, but it was obvious he didn't know much about the Broken Shields. An hour later Erik and Juliet noticed the survivor from the morning's incident talking with some other men by the front door; they rushed over to grab him (Talyth was positioned outside, near the door).

This being the Bloody Fist, a full scale bar room brawl quickly broke out. Erik and Juliet managed to knock the man unconscious and carry him outside, leaving the confusion of the brawl to cover their tracks. As they exited with the man they saw Talyth still out front, standing over three more Broken Shields face down in the street. Their weapons had been drawn, but they had all been knocked out. Talyth, Erik, and Juliet slipped away, heading back to the Hearth with their unconscious prisoner in tow.

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Not a hard man to track. Leaves dead men everywhere he goes.
-- Outlaw Josey Wales