Eventually, we, the Untouchables, managed to get back together again, meeting each other en route to, or at the warehouse where we had just been fighting. Most of us were frustrated at the escape of the last Dark One, but we decided to make the best out of it and started to see if the bodies of those we did manage to slay still carried something of use to us.
In the end, a pair of enchanted boots was all we managed to pilfer, so we decided to go back to the carts.
That was when we realized that Geziah had abandoned the carts. He was rather quick to explain to us that we had stayed away for longer then he’d had liked, so he stored the cart, together with the crates, at a local stable, where it would be taken care of properly.
The fight, and the subsequent chase, had taken quite some wind out of us, so when we reached the guilty stable and made sure the cargo was still safely with our cart, we made sure to take a rest before we’d carry on to finish our assignment.
After a couple of hours, during which we made a point to chase anyone who claimed to be ‘sent by Baron Crimson’ out of town, we went for the mansion with our carts again. The same servant answered the bell, this time smiling pleasantly as she told us that Baron Crimson would be happy to meet us and letting us through the gate.
We left the cart and cargo in the capable hands of the Baron’s men as they took care of them while we were led to meet the man in person. The halls of the mansion were filled with expensive-looking paintings and red carpets and tapestries all around. It was pretty imposing, but it didn’t really mean much until we met the Baron.
He was waiting in an obvious relaxing room, with a big fireplace and several chairs looking at said fireplace. The Baron was standing at a table, looking down at something with a glass gracefully held in his hand. When we were announced, though, he looked up and smiled friendly at us.
The Baron was a long, stately man, wearing more royal red clothing that could almost make him blend in with the estate. He certainly brought honour to the name ‘Crimson’, but not in the bad way I had been more or less expecting.
As we explained why we were there, he showed some friendly interest in the state of Sannich, but it didn’t seem more then the question everyone just has to ask, out of politeness. We were given our reward, after which I was already making myself up to turn around and leave, but Jimmy just had to mention the Dark Ones and the fazing Marauders in the warehouse. I expected the good Baron to freak, maybe get angry at us, but he seemed honestly distressed at our misadventures and the things that had happened. We didn’t get any more compensation out of it, but… Well, it was good to know that the man was an actual good guy.
As we were getting ready to leave in earnest, Jimmy asked one more question: what were we transporting? We had made extra sure that Jackie had absolutely no chance to open the crates to peek, so we were all very curious, and not without reason. It turned out to be parts that were to be put together into some kind of machine that would utilize the crystal to do, well, _some_thing.
Jimmy, Geziah and I exchanged awkward looks behind Crimson’s back. We had heard that said crystal was in the missing crate from the destroyed caravan we had met, almost two weeks ago, mere days ago in the Merchant’s Guild. I was still a little weary of the Baron, still ready for him to fly into a rage and turn into a Dragon, or anything, so we wisely decided to keep our mouths shut.
We offered to ‘escort’ the parts with the Baron to the friend that would put them all together, for it was getting too late to start the trip back to Sannich that day, anyway. The Baron accepted our offer, and told us about the powers of the crystal on the road, making us only more uncomfortable on the road.
It turned out that we were talking about a ball of crystallized air, which could be magically harnessed to do anything that needed air to happen. The parts were supposed to be made into a flying machine, and the Baron was very excited for everything to be put together.
Of course, Geziah and Jackie didn’t miss the chance to promote us as ‘the Untouchables’ as well. Word of mouth, they’d probably have shrugged if I had asked them about this relentless campaigning of them.
When we reached the shed where the friend of the Baron would put the parts together, we carried everything inside to meet a Human wearing a long, white coat, somehow making him look… Studious. He looked like a nice guy, who might be just a little eccentric. He had to show us a pipe, which appeared to be made of metal and just as strong, but much lighter.
After faking a little interest, Jimmy broke open the crates, so the man could start using it, but he immediately noticed the critical part that was missing. I cringed lightly as the Baron asked us where the crystal was, clearly determined that we had stolen it.
Because Jackie, who was already openly eyeing several of the machines in the shed, clearly looking if there was anything worth stealing, was with us, I couldn’t blame him.
It took us all our powers of diplomacy to make the Baron see that we hadn’t stolen it, our most powerful argument being ‘why would we have travelled with you if we had?’, which was quite the good one. Eventually, we managed to convince him that we didn’t know where it was, that we had only delivered everything that we had gotten for the job.
But, as a show of good faith, we offered to keep an eye out for the crystal… If we could be compensated for returning it. The Baron told us that the crystal came from Orture, a name that made Jackie cringe slightly, and would have travelled through several places to Altea. We already knew where it was most likely stolen, so after agreeing to the reward of 250 gold pieces, we casually dropped that the crystal might be stolen after all.
Sometimes, I think I’m wavering in my good faith with this party. Every nerve in my body was screaming that ‘we know it is stolen, you idiot! Can’t you see it!?’, but I kept silent anyway.
Crimson found it hard to believe, though, for the crystal was so immensely powerful, so very potent that the power was hard to harness, even by the strongest Wizards. Only the best of the best could do it, including one called ‘Dundee’, who lived in Farla and had designed the machine blueprints.
While Jimmy was trying to make some joke about crocodiles I didn’t really get, Geziah claimed that Crimson should accompany us to Farla, then, to get everything set right there. Both Crimson and I protested against that, mostly because both of us didn’t want to haul the noble through the mountains between Altea and Farla, and because the man was needed in Altea.
Only after we had left the shed, with all our new information and a clear new goal, we noticed that someone had apparently slipped away during the talking.
I don’t know how the creature manages to do it, but Skyph had once again disappeared, leaving us looking around for our Missing Touch. Of course, there was no trace to speak of, leaving all of us thoroughly confused and slightly annoyed at this fact.
We decided that it was probably another temporary thing and figured the Shardmind would reappear sooner or later, so we shrugged and went back to The Tripping Camel, where we arranged a four-person room for the night which we, remembering the last time we spent a night in an inn, fortified heavily.
Luckily, it turned out to be an unneeded effort.
The next day, we set out to the market to lighten our pockets a little. We sold the paintings and valuables that were of absolutely no use to us, and bought materials that would be of use for our rituals. We also managed to trade the enchanted boots we had found for a Magical Leather Armor for Jackie, who was still walking around in the same old clothes as she had been doing all this time. It was about time for that, I guess.
When we were done, the conversation came back to the staff I was still carrying over my back. It had been our intention to hand it to Skyph a couple of days ago by now, but we had never really gotten around to that. It had benefited us a couple of times now, but we still hadn’t find any clear use for it, so I grabbed the thing from my back again.
Jimmy nodded at me, clearly interested in seeing what would happen this time. Geziah had the same look, and Jackie just looked slightly bored.
So I swung the staff around, made some movements with it, and pointed it at Jackie.
Before the Halfling could react insulted, a portal opened above my head and an Owlbear came crashing down on top of me. As the creature roared, my fellow Untouchables grabbed their weapons, and the civilians ran for it, I barely managed to crawl out from under it.
We had clearly underestimated the Owlbear as we started to fight it, for we were taking hits left and right while we were trying our very best to take it out as soon as we could. Jimmy actually almost went down, and Geziah and Jackie had to do everything in their power to weaken the best.
In the end, when I saw that the creature was heavily weakened but preparing itself to deal a Haymaker to Jimmy, I saw the need to try and take it out. And take it out I did, I could feel the creature shake the ground as it crashed down, dead, even though I was thoroughly stunned by Avandra.
Somewhere, I could hear a civilian say “That’s Nick Basel! He’s seven feet tall!”