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A Certainly Uncertain Future

McIan

Adventurer
Suka's deliverance, unexpected though it was, rekindled hope within him. Torak was free again but with limitations. His easy-money-making enterprise was over and he was a felon on the loose with a price on his head. To make matters worse he was broke. His bank account had been confiscated, small as it was (he was much too smart to put the bulk of his gold there), and his palatial mansion had been seized by Scar and his band of do-gooders. They had used HIS gold to rebuild it into a haven for themselves and other of their ilk, calling it "Sanctuary" of all things. Worst of all there was nothing he could do about any of it... not just yet.

His first contact with his Drow "friends" had met with disaster. Having neither much money nor clout anymore to influence them, they jeered and mocked his misfortune. Thus his connection to the realm where Deminatza lived was cut, though perhaps not permanently. He begged them to reconsider and they told him if he would deliver a high ranking, prominent, elf to them, they would do business with him again. Obviously the poor elf would be cruelly treated, perhaps even killed, but that did not bother him. What did was that he would have to come out of hiding and move about in public. He was not ready for that, wanting the furor of his escape to die down first. So to get back to her would entail a long and dangerous waiting game.

He was glad, however, that from his last foray in the other realm he had brought across and kept hidden several items that would reveal to the world that her fiance' Scar was not what he seemed to be. He had a chequered past, being a lycanthrope that once was out of control - a murdering, cold-hearted, rampaging beast that could never be fully trusted. If he could not kill the swine outright, he could anonymously discredit him in the eyes of his do-gooding friends and allies. Some token of revenge was better than nothing and his ability to disguise himself and deceive by fair speech remained a potent asset.

In the meantime, he would join whatever band could use his skills to do the worst possible damage to the Imperial world. Suka was a good choice. So were the pirates. Maybe too this Piper fellow could use some aid. Whatever the future held, he intended to wreak as much chaos, plunder, and damage as he could for as long as he could.

Then he would worry about how to get back to his beloved.
 

McIan

Adventurer
ENCROACHING DARKNESS

One more drink and Scar knew he would be quite drunk. Shaking his head and waving him away, he declined an ale offered him by the waiter of his favorite tavern in Jhelom. His head hurt but not merely from the overabundance of ethyl alcohol. Things were going very badly for him.

For one thing he got word that his nemesis, Torak, had escaped from prison, or rather been liberated. Who did it and how did not concern him; he half expected some attempt to be made. Now he could not interrogate him at leisure as he had planned, in order to squeeze information from him to find Deminatza, his one true love. She was as lost to him as she ever had been.

It was his fervent hope to find her, reuniting her and their daughter once more and forever. That was his most cherished hope in all the world; his real reason for living. Now, however, hope gave way to despair and the illumination of its inherent virtue was now dimming and darkening. He knew what that meant - the horrors of reliving a tormented, nightmarish, past.

Many years ago he had been bitten by a diseased wolf that had been ravaging Papua and Delucia in the Lost Lands. He had killed it but not after a great struggle; he had a special dagger, one especially made to slay wolves and had finally put the maddened beast down. It turned out to be a man named Malikai, a werewolf.

The bite did not heal, but festered, taking the shape of a blood-red pentagram. And then the real horrors started. He shook his head, trying to put the images out of his mind; the pain of them was too great to bear even now.

Somehow, in time past, he had found someone who had administered potions that allowed him to learn how to control the shapeshifting, as long as he was able to control his emotions, whether they ranged from deep anxiety to excessive anger. This he had managed to do successfully for years. He could control the bestial urges becoming adept, practiced, and for years there were no more unleashed "episodes."

Now, however, he felt a trembling in his hands, and a blackness appeared within that threatened to blot out all his efforts to maintain control. His hands trembled slightly now, like before. He jumped at the slightest noise and his heart raced whenever someone came near. These were the beginning of sorrows, he knew.

And now this: someone was going from town to town dropping his name, telling folk about his violent past, warning them that a "werewolf" might once more be on the loose to terrorize and murder the innocent; that they had better take precautions. He had heard it here, in Jhelom, but first in Papua, his native home, and in Delucia.

The dreadful part of it was that it could yet be true, his reality, once again.
 

McIan

Adventurer
LUCKY DAY

It was as if a dream come true. In his research Torak discovered the son of the famous "Werewolf of Delucia" who, as chance would have it, was named Malikai after his murderous father. A few gold coins spread around and lips began flapping: yes, we remember the Malikai, Scar, incident. Not a few lost loved ones to the marauding monster. Scar put it down finally. Yes, his son tells a different story but we don't believe him. No, we don't know what happened to Scar, but Malikai's son works at the Barely Inn and lives there... etc. Now he had something, and someone, to work with.

"I come as a friend," he told the man, now in his thirties, noting the man's sallow cheeks and dark rims under his eyes. "You look like you could use one." He took a pouch of gold coins out of his pocket and jingled them. "All I ask for is information. I pay well."

Malikai frowned. "I don't need a hand-out," he protested, though none too convincingly. "I don't believe I can be of any help," he added, eyeing the pouch.

Torak started to put the pouch back in his robe pocket. The man laid his hand on his arm to stop him. "Well, I can try," he said. Torak smiled and gave him the money. "What is it you want to know... is it about my father?"

"Not entirely. I am well aware of that tale, my young friend. I seek information about his killer, the man named Scaramandine... Scar... for short. What can you tell me?"

Malikai's countenance fell. He scowled. "He is a murdering liar! It was he that was the werewolf, not my father! He killed my father and then blamed the murders on him... but nobody believes me around here. I will see him dead one day, and I will do it myself, if he ever comes back and I see him," he stated heatedly. "You don't believe me either, do you?!"

"Oh, no, I could not agree more. I know this Scar. He is a villain to be sure! He lies about me also but I plan to take my revenge on him. Perhaps we can work in this together? As I said, I pay well."

The younger man's face lit up with vindictive hope. "Tell me what you want me to do," he said, eagerly.
 

McIan

Adventurer
A ONE TIME OFFER

Entering the tavern in Jhelom, Scar was met by the barkeep whom he knew well enough to trust. The man handed him an envelope. "I didn't open it friend, I swear," he vowed. "Never saw the fellow before but he made sure that I knew it was to be given to you only. Happened a couple of days ago," he added.

Scar took the message and found a seat at an unoccupied table. Looking around carefully to see if anyone was watching, and satisfied no one was, he proceeded to open the letter with a blade.

"My dear old friend,

As you well know by now I am free from the prison. Yet the horrific experience has given me pause to reconsider my life. I am presently unable to get back to the realm where our mutual love is kept and I feel terrible about it - leaving her there to wonder what has become of you and me.

I know you loathe me with an eternal hate, and I can understand why. For my part, the cooling off in the prison has awakened long suppressed sensibilities. I realize my actions are inexcusable. I am sure you will doubt me, and I don't blame you. However, I do possess a couple of items of interest to you: a precious necklace and a book you wrote to her long ago. She hid it from me but I found it and brought it over with me. I want you to have them. I want to make peace between us if that is possible. In that vein, I wish to meet with you at your earliest, on some safe haven where we cannot possibly engage in combat. I suggest Delucia. I would say Papua, your home, but I do not wish for either of us to have the advantage. Just tell the barkeep when, or if, in writing. I will have a courier pick it up and deliver it to me covertly. Do not follow him. I will know.

Believe this or not. I will tell you that it is my first and last attempt to make peace between us. Take it or leave it. I care, but not to the point of dying at your hands. Come alone, or I will know and you will not see me again. Take advantage of this. You have nothing to lose and much to gain.

With Sincerity,
Torak"


Scar crumpled the note and tossed it away. This would take some thought... but only after an ale or two. In any event, Lord Chanticleer and his new-found cohorts of the Emerald Fist, must know.
 

McIan

Adventurer
IN REPLY

Torak's choice of agents to assist him was wise. A most discreet inquiry at the Jhelom tavern netted him the response from Scar he had sought:

"Torak, my nemesis,

I received your message. I have given it much thought. While I know you to be a chronic and pathological liar, I accept your offer. I will come alone as requested, but know well that at the drop of a word, aid will come speedily to my side. I have no doubt that your henchmen, pirates, or whatever they may be, will be around, but if they are, know this: If you ambush me I will chase you through the gates of the nine hells. And when I catch you, you will know pain like no other. You know my plight well and my fury. Be true to your word, give me the items, and we shall go from there in peace; perhaps even discuss the return of my love. She does not love you. If you have read the letter from her, you will know this. Let this be a first step in a form of reconciliation. If not, it will be the last step in anything you may call a normal, peaceful, life. On my life and soul I swear this. - Scar"


Duly received, it was duly delivered to Torak. Shortly thereafter he met with Malikai and together they discussed what was to come of it. He then sent another missive:

"Friend Scar,

I accept your offer. I shall send word by a raven. We will meet at the place appointed by that message and at the time inscribed therein. Keep your word and I shall keep mine. Until you hear from me again, - Torak"


He knew what risks he was taking, but it would be worth it. Putting the mad dog down would grant him revenge and more freedom of action. Then he could concentrate on kidnapping some noble Elf to make the trade with the Drow, to send him back home, in the other realm, where he might stay for a while, safe and sound.
 
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