Punjar: Den of Iniquity

The Den of Thieves

I went to Smoke again. I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for… something.

So I found my way to Cire’s tavern. Cortabo the dwarf was there, out front, with a giant tarred leather mug of ale. He took a big swig, and blew the foam from his rather grandiose beard.

“Where’s your friend?” I asked, thinking of the half orc.

“He gpt buggered off,” grunted Cortabo. “Too much fooling around, not enough results. The master don’t like that.” He took another swig of ale. “This stuff is foul, but I like it anyway. Er, where was I? Oh, yeah, the master had him disappeared, permanent-like. I think some fishies is shitting him out now, hehehe. Never did like his kind, anyway.”

“Is Master Cire home? I would pay my respects,” I said.

“Yeah, he is. I was wondering when you’d be back. Heard you went out of the city for a while. No accounting for some people… go on in.”

I entered the tavern. Guttering oil lamps lit the place, lending it an air appropriate to its district. Cire himself was sitting at a table watching several of his crew. They were watching two large mantises fight, fervently betting on the outcome of the match. Cire himself was a dapper man with thinning hair, a neatly trimmed beard and a carefully waxed mustache, not really the sort you’d think would be Master of Smoke. He was drinking a blood-red wine from a fine crystal glass.

He looked at me, “Ah, the Nightlily returns to Smoke. Tell me, what brings you to my fine district?”

“I have business from time to time with Mother Zeb’oltha, as you doubtless know,” I replied. “She is often interested in the things I come across in my travels.”

“Ah, yes, of course,” he nodded. “Tell me, Lily, what is it that you do? I hear things, but in your wake there is death. I don’t like trouble here, not after what happened during the rule of my predecessor.”

“I assure you, Master, I am not seeking trouble here.”

“Yet it has its own way of finding you, leaving ruin in your wake, and you depart….” He eyed me.

Half of the crew started cheering. Obviously the bout between the mantises was over. I could see that one was headless on the ground, with the winner greedily masticating the loser’s head.

I shrugged, “I’m not sure what to say, truly.”

“Then don’t say anything. But I’ve got my eye on you.” He sipped the wine, “Before you go on about your business, tell that barbarian I’ve got some matches for him to fight.”

~L.

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