Season 1, Episode 3
'Nowhere to Run'
Tomar. A man in the garb of the city guard moves unhurriedly down a street. The golden trim of his cloak identifies him as an officer. His eyes sweep back and forth, back and forth. Then, they alight on something, and his nose wrinkles with disgust.
The bloodied Wastrel has managed to drag himself up to his feet, and is leaning heavily against a wall. The guardsman make a rolling noise in the back of his throat and then marches over.
"Move along before I charge you with delinquency."
The Wastrel's eyes widen. "Sir! Good, kindly sir! I was attacked! I was—"
A hand slams into the wall above Wastrel's head. He flinches. "Move. Along."
"But sir, I—"
He's cut off by a backhanded blow to the face. The Wastrel drops, and then the captain is on top of him immediately, cocking back a fist.
Hard to call it this, but... A fight!
Wastrel vs. Guard Captain Lewin
[Pretty short and more than brutal. Lewin takes it to the Wastrel in what's more of an extended beatdown than a proper fight, particularly with Wastrel still hurting from his earlier injuries. At one moment there's a brief hope spot when Wastrel spits blood into Lewin's eyes and gets off a quick flurry of punches to the guardsman's midsection. Lewin doubles over, but then retaliates with an utterly vicious knee that completely drops Wastrel. It's over in an instant.
Lewin looks down at the groaning Wastrel with cold, cold eyes. There isn't even a hint of emotion on his face. The captain adjusts a bracer slightly, and then brushes off some dirt from his breastplate. He steps over Wastrel without even looking down, resuming his earlier patrol.
A Guardsman hurries down the street towards him.
"Captain! Captain Lewin! We have a situation!"
Lewin regards his man. "Explain."
The guardsman squirms like he's the criminal. "We flushed a couple of rats out, but they're resisting arrest. We're having some serious trouble."
The man is almost audibly sweating. "Yes sir."
Lewin looks at him for an uncomfortably long time. "Very well. Lead on."
The guardsman turns, and looks as if it's everything he can do not to just flee.
Out on the plains, Womi and Vestala are moving along at a comfortable jog, eating up the miles with their confident strides. They slow as each spot movement up ahead in a broken up set of rocks, rising up from the ground like enormous tombstones.
"They came straight through here," Womi observes.
"At least they leave a trail."
"Looks like someone's still alive out there," an odd look comes across Womi's face, a mixture of frustration and regret. "We can't afford more failures."
Vestala just shrugs, and the two of them advance.
The scene around the rocks becomes clear as they approach, and it's a grim one. Blood and bodies lie strewn across the ground, two survivors are sprawled across makeshift mats, whilst a third attempts to tend to their injuries. Where the camera focuses, however, is on a fourth individual.
A young, but stern looking woman stands clad in steel, a sword belted at her waist. Her breastplate is embossed with the head of a lion. She seems weary, dirt and blood-streaked, but unhurt. A hand drops to her sword as the Monster Hunters arrive, eyes narrowing to take them both in.
"If you're travelling east, I'd advise against it. Great beasts stalk these plains," her tone is wary and guarded.
Womi and Vestala exchange glances. "Great beasts happen to be our quarry," Womi offers.
The armoured woman raises an eyebrow. "Dangerous game you hunt."
"We're dangerous," Vestala replies levelly.
The woman's grip tightens, and Womi steps forward, hand raised in a warding gesture. "What Vestala means is that we have to be. We're of no danger to you and yours."
Slowly, the armoured woman relaxes. "Very well. These folk have endured quite enough today. It was everything I could do to lure the beasts away," she gives a respectful nod. "Sir Raven of the Bold Order."
"Womi and Vestala, of nobody in particular," Vestala answers in a flat tone that could be sarcasm.
Sir Raven looks at her for a very long moment. "I can't prevent you from pursuing them, but it's a fool's errand. I urge you not to throw your lives away."
"Creatures like that can't be ignored," Womi tips her head back. "This is something we chose."
Sir Raven smiles ever so slightly. "In that case, I commend your bravery and resolve. The creatures... well, I fear pointing you in their direction would insult your tracking capabilities," indeed, the telltale gouges and torn up turf extend immediately from the rocky area. "If you happen to visit Tomar, I would be pleased to hear of your success."
Vestala snorts. "Of course you would. People without the steel to do what needs to be done are always pleased to hear somebody else did it for them."
The knight barks a laugh. "You drove those beasts this way, Monster Hunter. Some of my order would place the blame for these deaths at your feet."
Vestala's expression remains impassive, and she heads straight past Sir Raven, following the trail of destruction, brushing by without another word. After a moment, Womi follows.
"Thank you," she tells the knight softly.
Sir Raven simply looks back to the injured and the dead. "I hope you are dangerous enough."
Now taking shelter in yet another alleyway, Renhart and Samuel are having a moment to breathe for the first time since the tavern.
"Sure, old man. Question."
Renhart gives him a look. Samuel grins.
"What are you seeking?"
Renhart blinks. "What am I seeking?"
Samuel leans back against the wall, propping his head on linked hands. "Sure. Renhart the Seeker, right? So what's being a-seeking?"
Appearing legitimately caught off guard, Renhart takes a moment to respond. "That's a trade secret, kid."
Samuel makes a face at him. "We're on the run from the law together. Can't you trust me?"
"You tried to rob me."
"You holding that against me? It's ancient history!"
"It was an hour ago."
Samuel just keeps grinning. Shaking his head, Renhart starts smiling too, in spite of himself.
"Anyway..." Samuel pushes off from the wall, swinging his arms. "We need to get off the street."
"Why? It's been working so far."
Samuel shakes his head. "They've caught up to us once already. Guards in this city are like bloodhounds. They don't give up easy."
Renhart strokes his chin for a moment. "I guess I'll listen to the bigger rap sheet."
His companion snorts. "Don't have a rap sheet. Never been caught."
"Let's keep that up then. Which way?"
Samuel wiggles his eyebrows and then points up.
"Ayup. Give me a boost."
Renhart shrugs, and then steeples his hands for Samuel, lets him climb up the wall like a spider monkey, clamber up onto the roof...
Directly into a guardsman.
"Stop right there!"
Renhart whips around. Another has appeared at the mouth of the alleyway. He sighs tersely, palming his coinpurse.
Renhart the Seeker vs. Guardsman #3
At Stake: Renhart's Coinpurse! (Kind of)
A messy brawl ensues around the alleyway. It's more of the same from last time and unfortunately isn't quite as good as what we've already seen tonight.
The two of them do all right, though. Renhart takes control pretty early on, continuing with his dirty tricks from before. The guard gets a moment in the sun where he grabs Renhart by the head and then runs up the wall before planting Renhart with the falling momentum. That gets him groggy for a while, and it's not until Renhart suddenly bunches his coinpurse in his hand and drives it into the guard's abdomen, doubling him over that the momentum swings back.
That's enough for him to ball up both fists and slam them onto the guard's back, then drop a jumping knee straight onto his head.
A daring rooftop battle is taking place simultaneously. Whilst said roof is perhaps a little flatter and sturdier than might be expected, there are certainly chimney stacks and thatching, and there are certainly significant drops at the edges. Samuel appears to be in his element, vaulting over the stacks, at one stage using it as a makeshift hobby horse to leap over and plant the Guardsman with a flying kick. The Guardsman is a pretty agile fellow too, and at one stage manages to drop Samuel with a rolling kick that takes both men perilously close to the edge.
The Guard drags Samuel up and appears to be attempting to arrest him as he stands dazed and out on his feet... but he was just playing possum! Samuel pops up with a rising elbow and then leaps upward, connecting with a scissoring kick to the back of the guard's head. He staggers—and then falls!
Thankfully, there's a stall below with a canvas awning which breaks the Guardsman's fall, but the crash and sound of splintering wood leaves no doubt as to the victor.
Renhart secures his purse again, and then looks up to the roofs. Samuel cheerily waves down from above, and then tosses down a coil of rope.
"Was that up there the whole time?"
"Sure was. I've used this route before. Guess they're getting wise."
Renhart uses the rope to clamber up, and as soon as he reaches the top, Samuel coils it back up and tucks it behind one of the stacks.
"We've still got a ways to go," says Samuel. "Hope you can keep up."
"If they knew you'd come this way, they might know where you're going."
Samuel shrugs. "Then I suppose we better move before the noose tightens too much more."
He runs to the roof edge and then leaps to the next building across. Renhart watches, shakes his head, and then follows.
We cut to another street, dark and dingy. The narrow winding alleys and the barely visible skies make it clear that this is an area of Lowtown.
Down we pan, and a figure clad in a long leather coat leans against a wall. He cups his hands to his mouth, there's a brief flicker of flame, and then a wisp of smoke begins to to curl up from the rolled tube of tobacco between his teeth. His eyes are bright and alert, but his posture is relaxed and laid back, someone at perfect ease both in himself and in this place.
Panting gasps echo from off the walls. After a moment, another emerges from around the corner.
It's the Beggar, still looking worse for the wear, arms pumping madly as he moves at top speed. He skids to a halt alongside the man in leather, who removes his rollie from his mouth and raises an eyebrow.
"Guh... guh..." Beggar's gasping for air, hands on his knees. He takes a huge gulp. "Garrick!"
"Morten, Morten. Take it easy. Calm down," Garrick speaks in a husky drawl.
The Beggar—Morten—takes another few deep breaths. "A woman a-attacked me! Hacton h-hasn't shown up for his meeting either!"
Garrick's eyebrows rise. "A woman? One of the Magistrate's?"
Morten shakes his head. "No. Someone new. Never seen her before. I think she's heading into Lowtown!"
Garrick makes a thoughtful noise, takes a drag, exhales a puff. "You reckon? Can't be having folks muscling in. They'll give our scum a bad name," he says 'scum' almost affectionately, and without a trace of an insult.
Morten nods along eagerly. "Dunno what she's after, but don't you think it's coowince- uh, coende— funny that I get attacked then Hacton don't show up?"
"A coincidence, Morten. And I agree. Never ignore a Morten hunch, right?" Garrick pats Morten on the shoulder. "Let's check out the Den, see what the word is. Drinks on me," he takes another drag and then makes as if to toss the rollie, then pauses, smiles slightly, and hands it across to Morten instead.
The pair set off briskly down the narrow street.
"Now now, I'm a reasonable man."
It's hard to tell with his face so heavily concealed, but the Chief conveys the idea of a smirk without actually smirking. He advances towards the cowering Merchants.
"I'm a reasonable man," he continues. "You don't need to die today. You just need to give up what you're carrying."
They back up further, but then stop short with a decisive thump.
"On the other hand..."
The Chief leans in closer, eyes alive with the type of mirth held only by someone who likes to have others at their mercy.
"Maybe you do."
The Merchants vs. The Highwaymen
At Stake: Valuable Cargo!
This time around, the Merchants don't have anywhere to run, and that ups the stakes immediately.
Their backs are to the wall, and they fight as fiercely as they're able, as fiercely as can be expected for a pair of civilians who are hopelessly out of their depth. The Highwaymen, though, are both powerful and ruthless, and they kick the merchants around with vindictive delight. The Thuggish Bandit, in particular, has a lot of power, at one point lifting #2 off of his feet and hurling him bodily against a tree with a sick thump.
#1 rushes to his aid, kicking the bandit's knee out from underneath him, and then as he buckles, uses his leg as a launchpad to boot him in the head. He goes down, but then his comrade is waiting for her to land, snatching her out of the air with a flat-armed lariat that folds her in half. Unhurriedly, he lifts her onto his shoulders, and then unceremoniously flings her down onto her partner. They're down for the count.
Valuable cargo lost!
The trees echo with a hearty round of applause. Bandit Chief, having been watching the entire fracas, approaches with considerable swagger. The Highwayman checks on his Bandit companion for a moment, and then roughly hauls him back up to his feet. He stumbles, but then sets himself.
The Chief looks down upon the two merchants, tutting under his breath.
"You picked the hard way. Too bad for you."
He glances at his lackeys and then back to the motionless merchants. "I'm feeling just a little generous though. You two have rope?"
Highwayman grunts, which apparently translates to 'yes'.
"Good, good. Let's show them around our home, see the sights," he takes another couple of steps forward and crouches down, studying some of pieces that have been scattered around in the wake of the scrap.
Then he leans forward, brushing open #2's shirt.
"Well hello there..." Revealed is a pendant with a small black orb set into it. The Chief pulls it free. "Now, aren't you just the most interesting thing?"
He stands. "Good score, boys. Get them trussed up and we'll celebrate."
The bandits get to binding their captives.
Charon and Aloysius are in the same dingy part of the town that we saw Garrick earlier. Once more, the light of the sky is scarcely visible. Charon halts every so often, studying the buildings. On the third such occasion, she holds up a hand, gesturing for Aloysius to stop.
Aloysius looks the building up and down. It looks just as ramshackle and run down as all the others, with very little to distinguish it. Charon notices, gestures to the wooden door. In zooms the camera, and engraved there, ever so faintly, is an innocuous little sigil.
Wordlessly, Fletcher bows in deference to the attention to detail.
Charon raps a fist on the door. After a moment, it opens just an inch. Words are exchanged in hushed tones, a hand appears around the edge, gold coins change hands, and then it opens.
We find ourselves in a bar so seedy that with a little dirt you could call it a garden. Grimy figures hunch around tables stained by years of use. Guttering lamps cast a greasy light around the place. A gnarled barkeep stands manning a long slab of stone shaped into what's more or less a bar. Suspicious eyes alight on the pair as they enter, but Charon has eyes only for the solitary figure seated at that bar.
The red-headed woman's sleeves are rolled up, showing lean musculature. She nurses a tankard of something indistinct.
Charon nods towards her.
Aloysius studies her. "I'm not familiar."
"You do not need to be."
"As you say."
Charon looks at him expectantly. He blinks.
"Madame, I was not expecting—"
"Your expectations have no bearing on mine. Recruit her."
Aloysius's composure is rattled momentarily, but his calm is restored swiftly. He nods and heads over to the woman at the bar.
She snaps around. Fast.
"I find myself in need of a guide," Fletcher purrs, laying on the charm. "And I have heard you are the one to speak to."
She takes a swig. "Don't know you. Don't care."
"But I must insist—" Aloysius reaches for her arm, and she catches his hand. Grins.
Bodily shoves him back.
She rises, bringing up both fists.
"All right. Insist away."
Aloysius Fletcher vs. Mariavel Drox
Sadly, another Aloysius bout is hampered by some issues with timing, which means that the action suffers. Mariavel and Aloysius seem to be evenly matched for all that, both showing speed and strength in equal measure. Aloysius catches both of Mariavel's hands, manages to pin her down backwards to a table, but then with a hoist and explosive double footed kick, she manages to flip him completely over her head.
That leaves Aloysius dazed and out of sorts, but as Drox attempts to press the advantage, he slips to the side almost on instinct, catching her in a drop toehold which would have been fairly innocuous but becomes downright nasty as it bounces her head right off the edge of the bar. Fletcher than takes control again, driving Mariavel across the tavern with a series of lightning quick strikes, pushing her back and back.
However, it appears this is according to plan.
Drox's hand alights upon a glass bottle, and she swings it around at force, connecting with Fletcher's head! It shatters, Aloysius is on jelly legs, and with a roar, Mariavel grabs him around the waist and smashes him through a table with a slam that a 'wrestling' fan might call a spinebuster.
Aloysius groans in the wreckage of the tavern table, just about moving, but debatably conscious. Drox straightens up, blowing a sweat-streaked lock of hair out of her eyes, and then rolling one shoulder, then the other. An ugly welt has already broken out across her cheek where she collided with the bar, but in spite of a little fatigue, she doesn't seem to be suffering the effects too much. Certainly less so than Fletcher.
Charon, watching her, has that predatory wolf's smile on her face. After a moment, Mariavel seems to sense those eyes on her, and turns.
She nods to Aloysius. "Your man isn't bad. I'm better."
"So it would seem," Charon's smile has vanished.
Drox tilts back her head. "I don't make a habit of working for people who aren't as good as their help."
Charon makes a sound that can only be called a laugh insomuch as it phonetically resembles 'ha'. "I'm better," she echoes.
Charon gives her a flat-eyed look. "I see no need for that."
"All right then," Mariavel cracks her knuckles. Advances.
Charon's smile returns.
SHOW GRADE: D-
They have taken up residence in a basin-like area of the plains, a deep depression surrounded by jagged rocks.
The Hunters are peering across the lip of the basin, side by side as always.
"Lost Crater," Vestala intones. "How appropriate."
"Lost?" Womi glances to her. "Who could miss something this size?"
Vestala freezes like a headlit deer. "You don't know the story?"
"I don't, actually. I'm not from these parts," she pauses, smiles very slightly. "Which you know."
"I..." Vestala still looks uncomfortable. "I'm no bard."
Womi raises an eyebrow.
"...The tale goes that it's named for the lives lost when a great rock fell from the sky and crashed against the earth. I believe a more accurate translation from the Old Tylmian would be 'The Crater of the Lost'."
"Hm," Womi says nothing for a while, and then her eyes narrow. "Let's add two more, shall we?"
Vestala nods once, firmly.
"You have the nets?"
Womi nods now. "Let's do this."