Shit’s about to get real!
Almawt Alwashik entered the room, the air was thick with the smoke from water pipes, he inhaled the air in a deep breath and went straight for the bar. “A large mug of your sweetest wine!” he asked the bar wench as he sat down at a small table on the edge of the room.
“You shouldn’t travel alone! There be vile beasties out there.” a voice nearby said, Almawt turned his head and saw some of the local sailors talking. Almawt had heard the rumors of broken shapes attacking people in the night, but he didn’t believe them. People with multiple arms and claws and hooves… Bah, just the ramblings of drugged madmen. Many times had Almawt helped the smugglers importing Starpowder filled stonedust mushrooms, knowing full well that they could render an otherwise sane man into a raving lunatic seeing lights and shadows and the most wondrous of sights. Only a fool would believe the ramblings of such a madman as actual evidence for a crime.
“Harbourmaster Alwashik?” a man approached him. “Aye” he replied. A man carrying two tall glasses of wine sat down opposite him. Alwahik looked up at him, he didn’t know him, but he had the distinct look of a foreign sailor about him, “Yes?” he asked. “I hear that you’re the man to talk to if I want to get something into the city without questions being asked.” “That might be, what excactly are we talking about?” “I am Gilbert de Pontenac, captain of the Windstrider, which is currently moored in the bay outside the city, I come bearing precious cargo.” Alwashik raised an eyebrow and gestured for the man to sit down. “Precisely what and how much are we talking about?”. The captain sat down opposite Alwashik, “Amongst my cargo of fine clothes and hides I have fifty cases of Green Arbour wine, but as you know very well, the port authorities will never let that wine enter the city, which is why I need you.” Alwashik knew about Green Arbour wine all too well, considered by many to be the finest wine in the world, but presently very much illegal to bring into al-Hammâm due to political tensions between Green Arbour and al-Hammâm. “That might be possible, but it will cost you” he said with a sly tone. “… Which is why I brought this…” the captain said placing a pouch on the table before him, Alwashik looked in the pouch, “This is not nearly enough, my services don’t come cheap, there are arrangements to be made and bribes to be placed if you want to get that wine into the city safely. Or you could just take your chances in the dead of night if you feel the price is too high.” Alwashik knew that the captain would never be able to move his contraband without his help, and therefore knew that he could demand a steep price.
They talked for a few minutes and in the end the captain settled for Alwashiks price, not that he had any choice in the matter. “A pleasure doing business with you” Alwashik said with a smug smile grabbing the pouch before him “I will take this as your initial downpayment, make sure to have the rest of my fee ready when we unload the ship.” He emptied his mug and stood up and left the tavern.
Business had been good this night, Alwashik thought, he had gotten almost twice his usual price from the captain, more than enough to cover all his own costs in the matter and still leave him with a hefty profit. He pocketed the pouch and pulled the hood of his cloak up over his head, the weather was fickle this night, cold and foggy, not at all pleasant.
A few hundred feet from the tavern he heard a soft clicking sound, he turned around and saw a dark figure behind him. He picked up his pace and went down an alleyway holding a hand on the dagger at his side. He turned his head and saw that the figure were following him and had gotten closer. The clicking sound had gotten higher and closer. He ducked around another corner and prepared to face the figure head on. No common thug would get the better of him.
He could hear the clicking sound getting closer and closer, he drew his dagger and stepped out in front of the figure. “What do you want, don’t you know who I…” his voice disappeared as he saw his pursuer clearly, it was no man, at least not entirely. The face was a mosaic of different faces, some of it human, but not all of it, the right side of the face was furry with a red eye, the lower jaw had green skin and long tusks and above the maw were small pincers one would expect to see on an insect. Surprised he took a few steps back before he found his courage again. He raised his dagger to strike, but as he did a big crablike pincer caught his arm around the wrist sending searing pain down the length of his arm. His grip around the dagger loosened and a soft clank sounded as his dagger hit the cobbled street. Alwashik looked at his assailant with a mixture of panic and utter amazement. “Wh-… wh-… what are you?” he stuttered trying to squeeze away to no avail. The pincer pulled him closer and the mouth of the impossible face opened impossibly wide before sinking it’s teeth into his should opposite his trapped hand. Alwashik screamed in pain and sheer terror, all thoughts of fighting back gone from his mind. The creatures raised it’s other arm, which ended in a long stinger dripping with a vile green liquid. The stinger plunged into Alwashik’s left thigh with a jab of sharp pain. within seconds all feeling in his leg had vanished, and he could feel the sensation spreading throughout his body and he started to get dizzy. He struggled to remain conscious, but knew it was a battle he could never win.
“The Magus needs more subjects” Alwashik heard a raspy voice from the creature say before he passed out.