By gnawing through a dike, even a rat may drown a nation.
Session 4: 'Public nuisance'
Nik, when arriving the plaza which the Collegium faces onto, finds a chaotic scene lit by leaping flames. One corner of the Collegium itself is fully ablaze, and a throng of locals – not just the Curzian men, but everyone from the neighbourhood – and they’re all labouring to contain the fire. A bucket chain has formed, pulling water from the nearby waterfront. There are others carrying prostrate bodies out of the smoke, and a little triage area to one side. There is shouting on all sides and people running to and fro – some fleeing the area, some charging to help. Through the smoke Nik catches a glimpse of one of the other Curzian lieutenants shouting orders furiously – the vicious hook-handed half-orc Fesk.
Nik finds out, probably by asking amongst the smoke-stricken group huddled against a wall across the plaza, watching the fire, that there was an actual attack on a group of Curzian men, that carried along the streets and ended up at the Collegium itself, and that ended up causing the fire. Reports vary on the number of assailants, and some guesses are that it was one of the other Collegia straying into Curzian territory, one rumour does have it that there was some kind of valuable item at the heart of the attack.
Finding one Curzian man catching his breath, Nik shares a drink with him. He determines that even they don’t know precisely what happened before the fire – just that there was a running skirmish along the street, which turned into a complete rout at the plaza. Expecting safety on home turf, there was panic as the attack continued into one of the several tavern-entrances to the Collegium. Curzian reinforcements were called in with better weapons, but that just made the fight uglier. It ended with a lit oil lantern, a heavy brass storm lantern no less, being smashed over the head of one of the Curzian men, which started the blaze almost instantly. The assailants retreated at that point, the last anybody saw of them was an injured man who ran out carrying an ornate box.
The Curzian man who was felled with the lantern was Baronal, who is still unconscious and may not recover.
Hargraine stabilises Maagar’s condition, then busies himself washing the trail of blood that leads to the Nightwatch Emporium, noting that it leads clear down to the canal. Over the rooftops he can see the threads of two large fires within the Curzian district. Shackle arrives while he’s cleaning up, and Hargraine sends him off to find a proper healer. Concerned about the half-orc’s presence, he uses an old hedge magic trick to send an animal messenger to Nik to let him know the complication.
Not long after getting Hargraine’s message, Nik finds the only one of Baronal’s men who is still alive and conscious, and he does little but mumble something about taking a box from Prasek. Nik does what he can to reinforce the rumour about ’Prasek’s Box’ and then makes himself scarce, heading back to the Nightwatch. When he gets back he uses his gypsy arts to salve the worst of Maagar’s wounds, but is furious at the path of destruction through his home turf.
Maagar only regains consciousness once, for just long enough to croak out the message that he had been surprised by Prasek’s men while already badly injured and escaping with the box. Maagar barely managed to kill one before he was brought down and they dropped him, unconscious, into the estuary. He passes out again with Nik shaking him by the shoulders and screaming about Prasek.
Furious, Nik leaves for the Chessentan safehouse immediately, and Maagar is dragged down into the cellar. Nick tells Charis what Maagar had said, and the Chessentans gear up to go find Prasek, despite Nik’s attempts to talk them out of further mayhem. He tries to counsel them to blame Prasek and Maagar together, but they dismiss the idea out of hand – it becomes abundantly clear that they’ve no problem burning their bridges in Airspur. Charis expresses her sympathies for Nik’s unhappiness – she regrets the situation got so out of hand, but doesn’t feel she has any alternative but fast and brutal options. Fully armed and doggedly single-minded, they leave to retrieve Maagar from the Night Watch, and to track down Prasek. Nik heads back to the Nightwatch, exhausted and dispirited, vowing never to deal with Chessentans again.
As the uneasy night rolls on, Tess dangles her legs over the edge of a tiled roof, looking down at the commotion in the street below her. In her eyes there glints the reflection of the conflagration that was once Prasek’s pawnshop. Smiling wanly, she swings herself easily up to her feet and walks away over the roftops without a backward glance.