The party looked down into the chasm as the remains of the falling tower echoed down below. Wounded, shocked and tired, they had to make haste and leave the scene. Up above they could hear the giants chanting of their victory and the freed souls of their brothers. As they fled, they could hear the remaining clerics behind them, probably just beginning to realize what had happened.
They traveled for the rest of the day until the snow began to get thinner, and the earth began to show underneath it. After a brief rest under a lone tree, they made their way to a cave nearby and made camp there. Gulthar and Angel stayed up talking about what had happened, while Ashio seemed distant and quickly lay down to sleep, although his breathing wasn’t calm and even until much much later.
After another full day of travel they arrived at the bridge crossing a large river, and the gates of Crimmor beyond it. These were the borders of Amn. The outpost probably hadn’t seen any traffic in a while, and the sleepy guards were rather surprised at the party’s arrival from the mountains. However, after a brief questioning and some hushed conversation, the party was permitted to enter.
They arrived at Crimmor that evening, perhaps relieved to see civilization and feel warm air after the silent cold mountaintops, and chose to stay at a rather expensive inn.
The sound of conversation filled the common room, even at this time, deals were struck left and right, some in mild tones, some excited, the presence of people accented by the absence of a bard and an empty stage. The party discussed their “cover” story over dinner with Grippa, now trusted enough to know that the purpose of their visit is less than ordinary. As the evening turned into night, Grippa announced that he was leaving for Athkatla in the morning.
One of the young waiters then approached Angel and offered his services as a guide around town. He seemed excited to talk to Angel for some reason, and he was getting excited glances from his friends at the bar. Angel accepted the offer and told him to come back the following morning.
Before going upstairs to the rooms, Ashio asked to have a word with Grippa, which seemed to have had some effect on him, as he gave him nothing but cold glances after that, in addition to being distant and preoccupied.
In the morning Grippa set off on his way, followed by hearty goodbyes. Following Grippa’s advice from the previous evening, Gulthar went to visit the local temple of Kelemvor. Angel met Ashram the waiter/guide outside his room and together they went to explore the local markets. Nocks joined them at first, but they soon got separated as Nocks decided to do some exploration of his own.
Angel’s trip to the markets with Ashram led to a discovery and an unexpected purchase. It seemed he was receiving special treatment from pretty much everyone he met in Amn. People in the streets would stop and whisper, merchants would take out their finest wares and offer them at good prices. Out of curiosity, he began to haggle with a trader about the price of a statuette, and in the process discovered that his, and in fact the entire party’s coming had been forseen by the local diviners, who seemed to be well respected in these parts. Having found this interesting piece of information, Angel requested that the statuette be delivered to the inn in which the party had been staying, and after a brief rest, made his way back to the inn, where Gulthar was having his lunch after coming back from the temple.
As he sat down to eat next to his companion, slightly distracted and without even a word of greeting, something happened within Angel’s mind. His gaze turned blank and unfocused for longer than the usual few seconds. Gulthar, sitting across from him, stopped eating, with a large chicken leg still in his hand. As Angel’s eyes began to change color rapidly, his face contorted as if in spasm into an expression of horror and pain, and he almost collapsed on the counter breathing heavily, catching himself just in time, but still spilling his drink and shattering the glass on the floor. Gulthar rushed to his aid, finally dropping the chicken leg, but Angel was faster – he jumped to his feet and edged backwards, knocking over his chair, extending his arms in front of him to push Gulthar away. Turning around, looking almost frightened he said, loud enough to turn the heads of the few patrons sitting in the room: “I do not want to talk to you right now”. With that he left the room in a hurry, bumping into a few tables on his way out.
Gulthar understood that Angel’s denied memories must have finally snapped into place. He ran out of the tavern and after Angel, who was walking misty-eyed, as if asleep, bumping into passers-by with no apology. Gulthar shouted his friends name as he tried to catch up with him on the busy streets of Crimmor. But Angel did not answer, nor did he turn around. When Gulthar finally came close, avoiding an encounter with a very angered fat lady whose basket’s contents had just spilt all over the road, Angel turned around briskly and started walking backwards again. “I can’t be around you now. You’re an abomination! Leave me be”. But Gulthar persisted and reached out to get hold of Angel’s cloak. “Stay away!” the words were accompanied with Angel’s sword pointed towards Gulthar’s throat.
Knowing nothing of the commotion now beginning to take place several blocks away, Nocks was determined to understand the mysterious taboos of the local populace. Namely, their discomfort at the mention of magic (of which Grippa tried to explain to him as he told them the ‘lay of the land’ before they entered Crimmor). Seeing as, in his eyes, everything was somehow connecetd to magic, and the mention of magic was somehow unwelcome, it puzzled him how these people could talk to each other at all without being discomforted out of their wits. However, he soon discovered that in Amn, asking direct questions more oftrn than not, leads to direct actions. The owner of the third store he entered seemed to have less patience than the others (and more customers waiting) and after a short circular argument he promptly called the guards. Several minutes later, An innocent looking Nocks was taken outside by 5 burly guards, who accused him of “Disruption of Business”.
Now, another thing Nocks did not know about Amn (though he learned quickly), was just how seriously it takes its’ ‘business’, and naturally, its’ disruption. He continued innocently asking the annoyed guards question after question. At first, the guards were resigned to take the ‘halfling’ to the guard station and throw him in prison (for to them he was either drunk or bespelled or just a half-wit or ill – all of which demanded that he be put away), but then one of them whispered something to another with an alarmed expression. After a brief hushed discussion among themselves, the course of action was changed, and Nocks was (so they told him) to be taken back to the inn in which he was staying with his companions, to be held there until they arrive. upon (more) questioning, one of the guards finally gave in and slowly (as if speaking to a slow child) explained to Nocks that his arrival was forseen by the diviners of Amn, who gave the directive to honor the visitors, but also be wary of them. Him not being thrown in a cell or worse was a result of the “honor” part.
But being as yet inexperienced in the various shapes and sizes of honor, he refused their offer of ‘escorting’ him to the inn, calmly stating he didn’t want to go there at the moment. After a brief argument, in which Nocks, yet again, tried to understand the taboos of Amn, the guards decided they had no choice but to revert to their original plan and take him to the prison, answering his questions with annoyed silence and rolling their eyes the entire way.
Just a few blocks away, a small crowd was gathering to watch as a very frustrated Gulthar was trying to defend himself from Angel’s sword, if possible without hurting him. Having insised on following him and trying to explain himself despite Angel’s threats – he had finally provoked an open attack. Once again, however, our heroes were not familiarized enough with Amn’s strict approach to such business disrupting activities. or perhaps they were, but Angel’s mind seemed as far away as it could be from the patrolling guards running towards him when the rope tightened around his ankles.
The pair was carelesly thrown into the back of a carriage, where they experienced a very bumpy ride, full of heavy silence. Gulthar’s desperate attempts for communication with Angel were met with complete obliviousness to his existence.
Meanwhile, Nocks and his ‘escort’ arrived at their destination. Before throwing him into his cell, and especially after his questionable (by Amnian standards) interest in magic, a routine magic detection spell was cast by one of the officers, to reveal any ‘unlisenced’ magic he might be carrying. The room filled with a brilliant violet light so bright some of the guards let out screams. In light of the special circumstances (literally), a command was given to strip Nocks of his belongings. When he realized what they were about to do, using their momentary blindness, he freed himself and shadow jumped to the nearest hiding place, not before slicing open the bag held by the guards containing his gloves. Unfortunately for him, As soon as he teleported, another guard pulled a wand, cuffing both his hands and legs. Finally, with three guards holding the now bound (and writhing in ways only he could) Nocks, they took off his ring, revealing his true form. Shocked, they dropped him to the floor, and began kicking the thing.
At this point, Angel and Gulthar, who were held in a cell nearby, finally put their problems aside and saw the scene of the helpless flesh golem, lying crippled on the floor, with three guards kicking him. Finding no other alternative, Angel quickly used his own teleportation abilities, and switched his body with Nocks’. No sooner than the transfer was complete, A boot cracked Angel’s ribs, and another one hit his head, throwing him into unconsciousness.
A few seconds later, three mages wearing grey robes with cowles covering their entire bodies entered the room, while already in the process of casting an antimagic field. This, of course, completely and utterly immobilized Nocks. With no more then a second glance at the mass of tiny corpses lying, now no longer cuffed, on the floor. One of the mages threw a torch at him, saying “Sweep the remains after it burns down. I wish to study it”.
The sickening smell of burning flesh filled the room. Gulthar, still lying bound in the same cell with Nocks, helplessly watched his companion scream in what probably was his first, and last, true understanding of pain and agony. In the last moments before he passed out, Gulthar saw the guards sweep Nocks’ charred remains, and carry them from the room.
To Be Continued