|The Crime Underground|
Designed by Shrike & Mhordamis
Lifespan: 25 minutes
Medium Groups: 18-28
Large Groups: 16-26
"There be dark things, where you least expect them."
I yawned and tried to ignore the old man in the seat across the table. He didn't seem inclined to move, just as he hadn't seemed inclined to ask permission to join me. There are times when one would refuse such a request, and this would have been one such time had he asked. Had this mendicant ever washed?
"Oh yes," he continued, tapping the side of his nose as if he was about to reveal a secret. "Them Cityguard and Stormguard been looking for them all over. Them can't find these folk, though."
He cackled, breathing a foul stench at me, and I wafted it away. The tankard of ale no longer seemed quite so appealing. "Really," I said, bringing out my handkerchief and covering my face. The clerics at the Temple would be able to cure disease, I was sure, but I'd not want the symptoms this beggar had before I sought their aid.
"Aye," the old man said, looking around. I followed his gaze and saw Heron staring at my table suspiciously. "There are them in the law," he added, spitting as he said the word, "as would like to know how they come and go so secret like."
"Is there a problem?"
I looked up gratefully to see Heron staring at the old man. "This man is-" I began to say.
"Thirsty, and I'll take you up on your generous offer of a tankard of ale," the old man said. "If you'd be so kind." He smiled, showing gnarled and yellowed teeth from which I recoiled.
"Ah, he's..." I began and stopped, for the old man had transfixed me with a stare. "A tankard of ale for him, please," I heard my voice say. Heron frowned but walked off to the bar.
"Mighty kind of you, good sir," the old man said. "I'll return the favor. Honest man, me, honest man. See, these thieves live and train in a place far to the south. They hide where you wouldn't expect, clever of them. They gets here by using magic, see? That's why them lawboys can't find them, eh?"
I stared and nodded dumbly, unable to do anything else.
"Oh aye, they have mages in their lair - why thank ee," he said, nodding familiarly at Heron who slammed the tankard down hard. "O' course, ye have to be careful of these boys. Not only magic and odd things in their lair. They can hide where you don't expect, and walk so silent as to be quieter than a mouse, eh?"
I sat quite still as the old man grinned before downing his ale in one gulp.
"They says that they train from birth, but others say that they kidnap urchins - you know, people you wouldn't miss - and indock, indoctrun, train 'em from young. Gets right good at it, they says. Don't try and ask about their leader, though. I barely heard his name and it don't bear repeating." He cackled again and then leant close. I tried to move away from his breath but couldn't. "Vonliege, they calls 'im," he whispered in my ear.
"Is there something the matter?"
I looked around to see Heron standing at m yside, but of the old man there was no sign.
"Ah, I seem to have been accosted, good Heron," I said. "There was an old man, you see, and he..." I looked around but the beggar, if such he was, was nowhere to be seen.
"I don't know about any old man," Heron said. "I do know that you ordered a second tankard and you seem to have drunk it before your first." He sniffed, peering at the two vessels on the table.
"I.. I... I see," I eventually said. "I'll settle with you for those now."
"That would be most gracious of you," Heron said, smiling broadly.
I smiled back and reached for my coin purse, only to find empty air...
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