Team BAJA had finally arrived in Lastil-Taswell, the Twinned City. The group was previously instructed by Cho-Mak, high archmage of divination of the Purple Order to seek out the Lady of Light to uncover more about the Gems of Azuroth and their whereabouts. The group’s long journey through shadow and fire had finally led them to the fabled Jewel of the Southern Coast. The group found refuge in a safe house owned by the halfling assassin, Rainer. While the group decided to rest and recuperate their strength, Rainer decided to venture back into the city and visit an old friend. 

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Rainer had found his way to an old vermilion building at the end of a street corner in the Sapphire district. It was early evening and the streets had emptied while the taverns filled with laborers and artisans from the nearby districts. After traversing down the familiar stone steps to the cellar, past the open door and behind a wooden desk, an older halfling sat busy with his work. He looked up and his face became pale at the sight of Rainer.

“Hello, Dodger. It’s been a while,” Rainer said with a grin.

“Is that really you, Rainer? You’re not some ghost or spirit?” The aged halfling inquired, his hand was still holding the quill and a piece of parchment on the other.

“Yes, I assure you it’s me.” Rainer replied.

“Where have you been? Do you know how long you’ve been gone? Or who are looking for you?” Dodger frantically demanded. It was a mix of joy and annoyance coming from the seasoned halfling, he had already put down the quill and parchment while waving his hands in large gestures into the air. It was quite the spectacle for Rainer who couldn’t help but chuckle at his old friend.

“It’s a long story, I sort of only recently learned how long I’ve been gone. Which was why I decided to visit you and get some information. I need a feel for the city, you said that were people looking for me. Who?” Rainer asked, approaching the beaten, wooden desk. Dozens of dusty tomes and scrolls littered the top, a few candlesticks provided extra lighting for the under lit cellar. This room was a place many wet workers within Taswell city would come and acquire jobs, not always wetworkers but other laborers, sometimes smugglers, and whatever thief was brave enough. The Grey Network was the city’s bloodline for work besides the Nest of Shadows and the Trade Confederation, whatever jobs those two either did not fulfill or were too meager in profits to post, the Grey Network was there to look out for the less affluent.

“Well, not sure if you had the time to look but you’re on the bounty board. Timeaus Randor placed a hefty bounty, preferably alive. Almost ten thousand gold pieces. You must’ve seriously pissed him off, never seen him put such a high bounty.” Dodger informed while chuckling aloud. There were more streaks of grey in his dark brown hair that Rainer noticed. If there was one thing that his adventure has done, it was stealing time from him to be with those he trusted and valued as friends. But the assassin knew that sentiments would have wait, he came on business and thought it prudent to finish it quickly before returning back to the group.

“It’s been while since I left, I need a lay of the land, Dodger. What’s been going on? I get this feeling that something is going on but I haven’t the faintest clue what it is exactly.” Rainer said softly, there was a level of sharpness in his eyes like a cat fixated on its prey.

Dodger paused and looked at Rainer for a moment, the older halfling was trying to find gathering himself before speaking. “Things have not been boding well, the Nest and Randor have sort of stopped with their squabbling in some sort of stalemate. It’s unlike them, the city is holding its breath wondering when the whole things blows over and all hell breaks loose. It’s like they’re waiting for something, no one knows what exactly. But it ain’t good.”

“I see, well there has been an odd air with the town since I’ve come back. That will explain a few things at least, have you heard from Hornraven?” Rainer asked calmly, he was not quite sure how to process the information but he knew Lapin Hornraven would know more and perhaps give him a better idea of the situation. Most importantly, she was also Jimmy Moon’s mother which the half-elf druid would be equally interested.

“Lapin? No, I haven’t heard from her in a while. I know she took up a job not long ago, but it’s been quiet since. It’s not like her either, though I don’t have much to go on. I’m sorry.” Dodger slumped down in his chair, the weight of stress had finally caught up with the old halfling. Rainer rarely saw the old man look some gloom, clearly these events were only recent but definitely had an impact on the city as a whole.

“How long has this thing between the Nest and Randor been going on?” Rainer inquired.

“Probably six months or longer? I would say it didn’t really affect a lot of the traders and commerce until maybe four months ago. Lots of ships and people being transported, lots of unspecified cargo shipments too.” Dodge replied, taking a small tin cup and glass bottle with an amber liquid inside. He pour himself some of the liquid into the cup, taking a big gulp from it. His face turned a bright red for a couple of minutes, letting out a sigh of relief.

Rainer stood silently for several minutes, letting all the information sink in. The information was valuable and needed to be conveyed to his friends back at his hideout. There were many things that Rainer wanted to know from Dodger, especially the many things that must’ve transpired from his five-year absence. But the assassin thought of something better, especially if really wanted to get a better feel for the town.

“Thanks for the information, old friend. I’ll try to stop by again,” Rainer thanked and waved before leaving the cellar. The assassin took the long way back to the safe house, his thoughts full of the information Dodger relayed to him. One his way back, he made his way to the bounty board near the Gloom Court in the Onyx district. There among the multitudes of bounties and wanted posters, Rainer’s sketch and bounty was plastered near the center of the board. He needed to find out more about the city, and knew that sooner or later he would come face to face with Timeaus Randor, one of the scariest individuals who resided in the city of Lastil-Taswell. The halfling arrived back to the safehouse and checked his surroundings one more time before heading inside to find my friends sleeping in the beds and haystacks. Tomorrow was another day, the group will most likely journey out into the city to gather information, Rainer thought.

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