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When last we left off in Tallavanor’s Tales, our gallant investigator, saddled with a group of not-quite-so-gallant allies, was chasing down a lead about the influence of a certain Count Magnus on the docks of Mulhussen. While our leads were beginning to spiral in multiple directions, a few things sifted to the surface of our clues like weevils in a bag of flour…

Given a hint about a member of the Zhentarim and a shipment of banned goods coming into the docks from a contact of Claudia’s, we made for the ship while I mulled over several thoughts about the new information we had uncovered. The murder of the first chancellor/treasurer was just a convenient killing. A replacement of one lackey with another. The turning into a thrall of Lord Ramfk’s eldest son. So was Magnus a vampire? We’d learned he’d come from a town to the far north, (one which I hadn’t written down at this second, but I’m sure will come to mind), and it was one of the oldest towns in the entire region, which screamed vampire to me.

Maxwell boarded the ship, soon gesturing for us to board as well. Claudia’s contact, a crewman, cleared out several other workers and took us into the hold. “Look, I don’t like these things either, but they’re supposed to go to Albrect of the Tower. You can look, but then you have to get out of here.” He shared, the portly man gesturing to the boxes. I looked and my soul shivered. Three thick volumes bound in human skin, covered in infernal writing. Just looking at them made my skin crawl. A sudden flurry of action made me turn to look as Maxwell murdered our contact, slitting his throat. Blood sprayed across the dark hold, and he collapsed limply.

“What did you do?” I cried, pulling my gun. The lantern in my other hand quivered as I shook. Every part of me wanted to shoot Maxwell right then, but I knew if I fired my gun, the entire dockside would hear. Maxwell and Gregario grabbed for the books. “We can’t leave these here, they’re evil.”

“So we should take them? And do what with them?” Claudia said, mouth open as she checked on the crewman. I already knew what she’d find. Maxwell’s strike had been incredibly targeted and deep. No amount of healing would save that neck.

Gregario turned as he shoved the books deep into his pack. “It’s done. We need to get out of here.” I was still shaken, and followed, trying to decide what to do. I placed the lantern on the edge of a nearby box, and it wobbled, falling to the ground. The flames licked hungrily at the wood around it. I could stop this. I thought. But why? We can’t let anyone know we were here if we want to get closer to Magnus and Albrect.

Behind me, the fire burned as I walked, dazed, out of the ship. But I soon had to run after the group, and adrenaline pounded through my ears. That was a murder. Regardless of the organization, we didn’t just murder people who hadn’t attacked us.

Right?

Several blocks away, I caught up to the group. Shoulder down, I slammed Maxwell into the wall, holding my weapon right against his temple.

“What in the name of the gods do you think you were doing? We don’t murder people.” I demanded. “Being part of the Zhentarim is not an excuse to go about murdering people.”

“He wouldn’t have let us take these though.” Maxwell said.

“We shouldn’t have those. We should burn those. They are evil things, and we all know that.” Claudia moved to cut off Gregario, who was inching forward.

“You killed my contact. My mentor’s contact. You don’t know what you’ve done. We could have followed them, figured out other things.” She said. Magic coiled wispily around her fingers. Gregario eyed her warily.

“It doesn’t matter now.”

“It always matters.” I said. “We don’t kill people in cold-blood.”

“Yea, but I saw the flames behind us. You let the place burn.” Maxwell said.

“Yes. Because I don’t want to be accused of murder. And because the owners of that happen to be the most powerful magic users in the city with the ability to magically spy on people!”

Gregario stepped forward. “How about we calm down? We can’t change this now. Let’s just go to the Black Lotus and check in with my superiors and see what they think we should do.” The magic in Claudia’s hand sparkled for a moment again, and Gregario shook his head.

“First, you will give Claudia one of the books. I don’t want to hold them. They are a corrupting influence and they need to be destroyed.”

“You don’t even know what they do.” Maxwell said. “Neither do you, and anything bound in human skin is automatically a bad thing.” I slowly removed my weapon and holstered it. Damn. Maxwell handed over one of the books to Claudia. The things gave me the hebeegeebees. I eyed Maxwell suspiciously. This was not going to plan, and not what I wanted at all. Was it worth it to follow this course of action and murder our way across Mulhussen?

Gregario turned and led the way. I followed, consumed by rage and frustration.


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