Tales of the Righteous Vanguard

Part Ten: On the Eve of Dark Clouds – Chapter 3

On Sunday, the 16th day of Goodmonth, in the Common Year of 580, the Righteous
Vanguard was spending their second day cooped up inside Nero’s tower when the Scarlet
Brotherhood made their first attempt at assassinating Nero. On the band’s first day inside
Nero’s tower, during which nothing appeared to happen, Alavarius cast a commune spell
and the band was able to learn more about their would-be attackers. But there was still
much that they did not know and early on it appeared as if the second day would pass just
as uneventfully as the first.
But early in the evening, at about 5 o’clock, the Scarlet Brotherhood made their move.
Nicholas and Alavarius at that time had been asleep since about 10 in the morning
and would be waking up in an hour to begin the evening watch. Dravos and Kieranen
meanwhile had gone to bed at 4 in the afternoon to get rested up for their overnight watch.
This left Nero, Ale and Book awake at the time along with Nero’s familiar Maximo, Nero’s
dwarven follower Bleryn, and Nero’s recently acquired hireling librarian Arthur. Ale and
Book were on watch at the time and were therefore on the first floor of the tower along
with Bleryn, while Nero and the others were on the second floor in the library.
Ale entered the library at that time and, in a calm but concerned voice, told Nero there
was something downstairs that he thought Nero should take a look at. Nero, with no
reason to suspect any kind of treachery, followed Ale back down the stairs and as soon as
he reached the bottom suddenly felt the stab of a knife in his back. When he turned to see
who his attacker was, Ael likewise stabbed him in the back! Nero, now in grave danger and
very close to death, let out a yelp and tried desperately to defend himself. But already it
appeared to be too late for him, as the next thrust of a poisoned dagger took him down.
As the two assassins struck however, Nero’s stone golem, which at that time was
stationed nearby on the first floor, suddenly came to life and moved to attack those who
attacked its master. But then two men in dark robes appeared from behind the kitchen
door and attacked the golem. Fortunately, while all of this was happening, Maximo, who
had wandered downstairs just a short distance behind his master and witnessed all that had
taken place, pulled out what he referred to as his Staff of the Magi, but which in reality
was a Rod of Wonder, and spoke the command word as he pointed it at the two assassins.
Much to his and everyone else’s surprise, a rhinoceros suddenly appeared and charged at
the assassins.
While the two monks in dark robes tried to stop the stone golem and the rhinoceros
battled the two assassins, the others upstairs heard the commotion down below and began
rising from their beds and grabbing their weapons.

Maximo meanwhile used his rod again and cast a slow spell on the two assassins while
the stone golem ignored the two monks and went instead after the first assassin. The
golem beat the assassin quite severely and it was clear that the assassin could not take
another pounding like that. So the assassin spoke a command word and disappeared in
a puff of smoke. The second assassin, the one that appeared to be Ael, gulped down a
potion and likewise spoke a command word which rendered him invisible. He then took
off out the front door. With the two assassins now gone, the golem and the rhinoceros
turned on the two monks. One of them went down very quickly, as the other fled out the
back door through the kitchen.
At this point, some of Nero’s companions were just now arriving at the first floor,
trying to take in the situation and understand what was happening. Nero by now had
succumbed to the poison of the assassin’s attacks, but just barely. So Alavarius cast a spell
that miraculously brought him back to life with not a moment to spare. Nicholas, Kieranen
and Dravos meanwhile chased after the fleeing assassin though they could not see him.
Still Nicholas was able to find his tracks which led a short ways into the woods and then
straight for the city gate. But despite all their efforts, including see invisibility spells, they
could not locate the assassin, and once inside the city they knew there was no hope of
finding him.
So, after a while, everyone gathered back at Nero’s tower. There, Alavarius was able to
fully restore Nero back to full health despite the assassins’ handy work. But they could
not find Book, Ael or the dwarf Bleryn. After some time spent looking around however,
they did find a pile of dust outside Nero’s front door, which they suspected was all that
remained of Book. Another pile of dust at the bottom of the stairs to the second floor
appeared to be the remains of Bleryn. As for Ael, Nero put forth the suggestion that he
had been killed on the previous night, right about the time that his laboratory exploded,
and had since then been replaced by one of the assassins who was a master of disguise.
In fact, it now occurred to them that this might be the one they knew as Seips Foretsam,
whose name they now realized spelled backwards was Master of Spies.
After discussing this among themselves, and realizing there was nothing they could do
to bring back their lost companions, Nero suddenly detected someone attempting to scry
on him. He then pulled out the scroll that Otto had given to him with the false vision
spell on it and quickly read it, hoping he could trick the Scarlet Brotherhood into thinking
he was dead. Unfortunately, the spell failed to work as hoped and Nero realized that the
Brotherhood would know that the assassination attempt had also failed.
As this was the subject of further discussion, they made plans to further protect Nero’s
tower with magical wards. Before doing so however, some members of the band were
anxious to try and locate the current whereabouts of the assassins and their fellow
members of the Scarlet Brotherhood.

So, making use of a fly spell and several locate object spells, Alavarius began a
methodical search over the city for an object he knew to be in the Brotherhood’s
possession. Eventually, as he flew over the southernmost portion of the Thieves’ Quarter,
Alavarius found what he was looking for inside the Hanged Man Inn, a known gathering
spot for all the thieves, assassins, cutthroats and river scum who passed through or made
their homes in the Free City of Greyhawk.
It was about 8 o’clock in the evening when the Righteous Vanguard once again used
magic to look in upon the rooms of the inn where the Scarlet Brotherhood was now hiding
out. There they saw most if not all of the monks and assassins of this particular gang taking
up three rooms of the inn along with some familiar looking equipment and a well-equipped
disguise kit. After a thorough look around, the band made some quick plans and moved in
to attack. Nero went in first, taking the form of an air elemental, while the others followed
soon after using dimension door spells to catch them by surprise. The plan worked as they
had hoped and with complete surprise all the monks and assassins were quickly taken out
and with little effort. Unfortunately, it was only then that they discovered the two main
assassins, the ones who had almost permanently killed Nero, were not present.
The good news though was all the others were now dead and that the band had
recovered most of the items previously owned by Book and Ael. So, leaving the dead
bodies as they were, the band quickly gathered everything and made a hasty retreat back
to Nero’s tower. The bad news of course, was that two of the Brotherhoods deadliest
assassins were still out there somewhere, now more determined than ever to finish the job.

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