: Light rain, but with a growing chill. Time
: Settled afternoon. One might say "prevening"
, that being a horrifying mash-up of Pre and Evening, which likely shouldn't have been mentioned. But seeing as this was already posted, it's a little bit late to change it now. Ambience
: The cloud cover was breaking up in places even as the slight rain continued its earthbound travel. The alley behind the Silversmith's place was mostly barren with the exception of the stack of crates, likely the castoffs of merchants and awaiting pickup from same. Occasional bits of worried chatter could be heard from the main thoroughfare on the other side of the building, indistinct enough that only the occasional syllable was discernible from the otherwise unintelligible droning. General awkwardness might have been the more pervasive feeling of the hour as attempts to read a generally righteous situation were marred by the dread cast about by recent events, not to mention the insular tendencies of rural communities. An opportunity to quietly exit a situation before it escalates is usually welcome in these instances, which seems to be the general consensus.
Somehow, unthinkably, and counterintuitive to the obvious danger and/or oppressive weather that day, the faint scent of pork and burning, aromatic wood can be detected in the air. Those guys were still at it
The southern path led the group past both the stacks of crates and the westernmost side of the building. Not as obvious as circling around the other side, whose only egress was to the main street, but an element of risk was involved. So long as all parties kept their wits about them and moved carefully, they would be able to reach the slim space between buildings that would lead them further into the southeast quadrant of Avonshire Township and closer to Neil & Bob's Public House. Unfortunately, fate had conspired to make this somewhat more stressful and less simple than that.
Most everyone was doing an adequate job at remaining unnoticed, some doing notably better than others, but even the noise of Kathryn's armor wasn't obvious enough to draw any attention from the townsfolk around the front of the building. In fact, everyone seem3d to have this latest challenge in the bag until sheer, dumb, inexplicable disaster struck. A single stray link of Marita's mail armor caught the edge of a crate - one nearer the bottom of the stack than the top - and held fast. The very next step that the Cleric of Pholtus took resulted in the sound of already damaged wood splintering further, creating an overall imbalance in the stack. From here, gravity took over, felling the simply shaped wood like skeletal timber and spilling them across the alley, a couple skidding into the aperture with the direct view to the main thoroughfare.
For just a second, time seemed to freeze. "What the Hells is THAT, Jacques!?"
came the familiar, if still nervous voice of the door-knocker from earlier. "They're sneaking in through the back, now!"
Raised voices and the clearer path around allowed for better understanding of more of the conversation, such as it was. "Pitor!"
came an equally loud and much more annoyed voice. This belonged to none other than Monsieur Mallard himself, who had to have opened the door to speak, else it would not have been heard with the limitations of standard human hearing. "Don't be a fool if it is possible!"
He was outright yelling at this point. "Those were guests and clients, and if you had only half of your head out of your ass you would mind your own business! GO HOME!"
There was a brief pause and simple followup, "NOW."
Conversation faded back to mumbles from the point of view of those in the alley, punctuated by the slam of a heavy door.
This exchange seemed to bewilder the small crowd of folks gathered, at least enough that no one came running around immediately. Swift feet would carry one away before the more curious ventured to the back, though one could never tell if a glimpse had been taken of the retreating group and their human(ish) cargo. From somewhere back in the direction of the street, one might hear the voice of a child exclaiming, "Hey, Mommy! I found a spear in the road! Can I keep it?"
The escape was not without a hitch, however, the overall potential sneakiness was just enough to allow the group to navigate - mostly unnoticed - around until they picked up on something more familiar. Coming up from the other end of the side street than the party had taken thusfar in their stay in Avonshire, a recognizable hanging sign could be spied in the distance.
Entering the tavern, one could see Lea
standing by the bar. She had a towel laid across her forearm like she was expecting to provide pour or cleanup service, but her face struck one was being more nervous than anything. As for the proprietor, Robert
, he looked downright feverish. Paler skin than usual was enhanced by beads of sweat and an overall visage of discomfort, yet an immediate (if only partial) change to relief flushed over him as the party entered his establishment. He walked to a window and peered outside before pulling heavy curtains shut. "You got it, right?"
he half whispered.
Five other people were present; customers, by the look of them. Bob shook his head and addressed them all in brief, "I'm closing for a couple hours. Whatever you haven't paid for is on the house. Unless you have business with me, it's time to go."
The people grumbled their complaints, but dutifully began to shuffle out. Once they were out, Robert turned his attention to the group of clandestine outsiders and hastily inquired, "What happened?"