Paths, pt 7

Thursday, August 14, 2008 - 10:42 AM

The nexus point between certain groups of similar destiny has dispersed somewhat, so the Paths installments are now to do with any background NPCs during my current campaign cycle. This one has to do with an NPC the players haven't had contact with in a while, but they sure do remember him fondly.

Hanging upside down, several hundred feet above the streets of Yhelm, Iolo carefully slipped a thin knife through the window to nudge the latch free and prying the window open. Arching upward, he wrapped his arms firmly around his leghold, and uncoiled his legs to slip a foot outward, pushing the window fully open.

A moment later, Iolo slipped in, silently, and carefully closed the window behind him. Pausing to listen, his ears told him this tower was as quiet as it was supposed to be, and he strolled down the hallway, keeping close to the wall.

For several years, Iolo had made a living getting into places people thought he couldn't. His ability to get in and get out again so swiftly was regarded as near-supernatural by many in Yhelm's underworld. They wondered how he managed to get so much information, and there were a lot of stories: Iolo has a pact with a tiny demon, Iolo gets strange inspiration from the duskshade liquor he drinks, Iolo has a highborn lover who gives him secrets.

The truth was very mundane. Iolo had simply been to most of these places before.

Raised as a pickpocket by his father, Iolo joined a group of Kishune performers at a young age, and found himself quite a talented acrobat. When they left, he chose to stay, and found performing paid better than pickpocketing. He was a frequent guest at aristocratic households as his reputation grew, and he even went by a different name, hoping to leave his criminal roots behind him.

Idealism fades in the face of the truth, he thought, unrolling the map of his mind and moving swiftly down a flight of stairs to a well-lit hall. Pausing to listen again, he padded to a hardwood door, slipped his lockpicks from his belt and was surprised to find a very good lock waiting for him.

Grinning at the small challenge, he wheedled the lock open with well-oiled arguments, and was through the door in another moment. He locked it behind him.

The offices beyond the door were what he expected. Someone had left an oil lamp burning, which made him particularly wary, but the light was necessary for his search in any case. He had only come here for one item, after all.

As a performer, he'd eventually grown annoyed at the exorbitance and self-satisfaction of the rich. He noticed everything during his times performing on their estates, and after time, his struggle to remain honest and law-abiding failed. He started to steal again, aiming ever higher for greater prizes which he would sell outside of the city, distributing a good deal of money among the needy or poor. However, he certainly kept enough for himself, building alternate identities and fronts, originally to fulfill dream of legitimate power and wealth.

These days, Iolo didn't care. He worked because it was art. He had enough to retire, but he would still take jobs that he saw as a challenge. The riskier the better, and in one case, he even paid other people to try and stop him from succeeding in a job.

Now, that had been a challenge, he thought to himself, and then froze. Footfalls outside.

Moving swiftly, he settled close against the wall where the door would open towards, and waited, slowing his breathing. The door did open, after a key scraped in the lock, and a man wearing magistrate's robes stepped in, shutting the door behind. Iolo listened intently, and hearing no one else outside, sent a poisoned dart into the man's back with a single deft movement.

The older man made a shocked sound, whirling and grasping at his back, but dizziness overcame him, and Iolo drifted forward to catch him before he fell. The magistrate mumbled something before his eyes rolled back into his head, and he passed out.

Lowering his target, Iolo plucked his dart free, and resumed his search. The magistrate wouldn't wake for at least an hour, and his recollection of events would be foggy when he did.

Iolo was a thief, not a murderer.

Finally, half-hidden under a pile of legal notes, he found the wooden case that had been described to him. Quickly wrapping it in dark cloth, slipping it into his tiny custom-made backpack, Iolo took the magistrate's keys, exited, locked the door, and then moved swiftly up the stairs.

Only a few minutes later, he was another shadow, moving across the rooftops. He moved quickly to the designated drop point, a decrepit alley behind the now-disused tanner's factory near the city wall, and slipped down to place the box there, still wrapped. The payment would come later, as would his contact to take the box... so Iolo left, dodging along a few older rooftops to slither into another alleyway and walk back to his theater residence like a fine, upstanding citizen of Yhelm, draped against autumn damp with a travel cloak.

He considered, and decided he would celebrate by taking in a play. He also made a mental note to call on that unruly quartet for their assistance in his next job; certainly he could have used them this time, even for as long as it had taken to get to his target.

Then again, he pondered that it might be time for a change of pace. Maybe they could hire him?

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At August 15, 2008 1:02 PM, Blogger Montgomery Mullen said...

Thank you! Iolo was a lot of fun. He did, in fact, pay my PCs to stop him from stealing something he was being hired to steal. He told them where he was going and when he was going to do it. The restrictions were that they couldn't begin to stop him until he actually started his work... and he told them exactly when he'd begin.

Iolo did get away with it, but the players came pretty close a couple of times to putting a crimp in his plans.


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