DM Proving Grounds

Preface story 1
2 monks

As Zade walks in to the City of Ruin he was baffle by how much corruption and disarray the city has been in. The city was a remnant of the old kingdoms, before the War for Dawn. The shadowed, smoke covered buildings hinted at the beauty the city once possessed. Now it had fallen apart and been taken over by separate gangs. It was the definition of corruption.

As soon as he waked through the gates he saw a mugging and with no hesitation he chased after the mugger and tackles him to the ground. Zade took the purse and, with one hand, lifted the man off his feet.

The mugger started to cry. Zade put him down gently and the mugger ran off, Zade then turns to the lady and gives her back her purse. She didn’t even say thank you as she turns and walk away. Zade was still smiling and was proud of his actions. So he decided to go deeper into the city. While walking he could tell by the force that someone was following him. So he decided to lead the stalker in to a dark alley.

Tujroy followed the dark elf into a side street. He was curious about the man he had seen take action. He slid cautiously forward, and the end of the staff smashed into his chest. As Tujroy rolled with the impact he drew the large rusty dragoon from the holster at his thigh. Tujroy landed one knee down, left foot flat with his sights on his attacker. “One chance to talk.” was all Tujroy offered.

Zade look at the stalker with confusion. Zade was very impressed of how well the stalker took the blow. So he asked the stalker “why where you following me?”

“You took action to right a perceived wrong.” Tujroy could see the change of body language in the man. He holstered the dragoon, as he rose to his feet.

 “I’m intrigued.” he offered the man his hand, “Tujroy, of nowhere particular.”

Zade returned the staff to its place on his back and shook Tujroy hand “Zade Cross also from nowhere particular.”

“Can we go somewhere more comfortable to talk?” Tujroy made a silver bishop dance across his knuckles, “I’m buying.”

“I was heading into the heart of the city and I am pretty sure there might be something more comfortable there. But I have a meeting with a group of men to try and make peace with their enemy. Care to join?”

“Gladly. I’m unattached and wandering. It is nice to see someone take action and not simply ignore the world around them.” Tujroy brushed off his duster and fell in next to Zade.

Zade started to walk not saying much. He was more focus on the path ahead. There was too much light in the area. Looking around he could tell there was something off. With the force Zade felt a blade coming at him and he felt another coming for Tujroy. Zade jump back and force pushed Tujroy. Zade then turn around to confront the attacker.

Tujroy felt himself pushed, but it was his entire being. He turned as his feet slid in the mud. Zade was turned and now a good 5 feet behind him. Tujroy slowed his breath, his right hand found his gun and he drew, his left hand found his Kukri. “I do not aim with my hand,” he thought to himself as his aim settled on the man closest to Zade.

Tujroy watched Zade snap the man’s head up with his staff and turn to the second attacker. Tujroy squeezed and the bullet found the first man’s head before he could hit the ground.

Zade hit the second attacker on the knees and looked at Tujroy “Don’t kill him. That only brings more violence.” As he looked into Tujroy’s eyes, he saw the darkness and the pain. He saw Tujroy with his finger on trigger, ready to kill.

“We need answer Tujroy. If he is dead we can’t get answer. Without answer we can’t solve problem.” Tujroy lowered the pistol back into its holster as he walked up to the 2nd man, who remained motionless.

 “Very well, speak little bird.”

Zade look at the attacker and ask “Who sent you to kill us?”

The attacker didn’t answer.

 “I am really sorry about your friend. He attacked my friend, and my friend retaliated out of self-defense. You attack us and you’re still alive. So I will ask you again. Who sent you?” Still nothing, the attacker was either well trained or he had something he was protecting. “I know how it feels to be back into a corner. I can assure you that you are safe with me. So please tell me and I can protect you and your family.”

The assassin still did not break.

“Very well your very to go. Just know that I can find you at any time. So try this again and the result would not be the same.” The man scampered away in disbelief.

Tujroy shook his head as he checked the dead man’s pocket. 5 copper priests, 2 silver knights and a silver bishop, dice, probably loaded and a purple cloth scrap with the image of a grey dog on it. He whistled at Zade and tossed the scrap to him. “Mean something to you?”

Zade caught the cloth; he started examining the cloth at different angels. Then Zade sat down and meditated with the cloth in hand, using the force to try and detect where it might come from. He saw images flash through his mind. A group of men with a woman in the middle, they were all heading to the city of ruins. A next flash of images came.  It was the assassin they set free kneeling down, in front the woman. A next flash of images occur, the woman then slaying the assassin for failing the mission. Zade caught his breath, stand up and told Tujroy of his images. “We need to get to the heart of the city or else this would be a battle ground and a lot of lives will be in danger.”

Tujroy nodded and followed as Zade set out at a run. They sprinted through the streets and crowds. Within a few desperate minutes the ended up at a cross roads where 2 group where gathered. These where the men Zade had been asked to parley. One half of the men wore the green sashes with the red owl of the Forest Watch. The second group wore the blue of the Sons of the Sea. They made their way to the center, to the obvious leaders. Zade use the force and jumped between the two leaders. “What is the meaning of this? Why are you battling each other?”

The two group panic and fell back. The leader of the red owl said “These men took something from me and I want it back. They claim they did not have anything to do with what the stole from me. But my men saw there symbol so it has to be them.”

Zade look at the leader of the sons of the sea “Speak.”

The leader said “We did no such thing! What would we steal from you low life thieves? If anything you had this coming. We knights are noble men.”

The leader of the Forest Watch caught him off guard, “Corrupted noble men that takes money from the weak.”

“Silence,” Zade said “Tell me what was taken from you.”

The Forest Watch looked at Zade “An ancient pistol that holds many scerets.”       

The mention of a pistol piqued Tujroy’s ears. “What kind of pistol?”

“A pistol, what’s the difference?” Markus, head of the forest watch snapped.

Tujroy brushed his duster back revealing his own gun. “I happen to know iron.”

Markus shrugged, “Bigger than a pistol, smaller than a long rifle. Barrel is made to look like a dragon.”

“And where did you get this from?” Zade asked.

“Part of a job pay off.” Was all Markus would say.

“And you do not have this weapon?” Zade asked the Sons.

Davin the head of the suns turned to him, “No. we have no use for guns. Guns are dishonorable.” He gave Tujroy a sharp glance as he said the last.

“So,” Zade turned to face both of the men, “We have an accusation and a denial, but what is the proof?”

Both men now tired of talking, weapons where now at the ready.

“I shall not allow this to happen!” Zade yelled. “I well find this object of yours and the person who did this will face justice.”

Both men stared at Zade. They heard of this Drow Elf with mystical powers beyond any magic they have seen. In all of his mission the where minimal casualties and peace was restored.

Markus looked at Zade. “Fine come to my domain and we well talk. MEN LET’S MOVE OUT!!”

Zade turn to Davin, “There will not be any battle today. Let me take care of this. Take your men home and rest.”

Davin nodded and left with his men.

Zade look at Tujroy, “Well let’s go to that comfortable spot.”

The inn was a small place by the name of “The Lucky Bastard.”, the sign out front showing a man whose noose had broken. They sat at a small table, the purple sash with a grey do between them.

“The gun sounds like a blunder buss. Old, maybe special maybe not.” Tujroy said over the top of his ale.

Zade stared at the band, going over thing in his mind’s eye. There seemed to be a third party involved, but how?

“If you boys are part of the Bitch’s Hounds. There is no table for you here.” The barman barked as he seen the band.

“No we are not,” Tujroy answered, “Just had a fool wearing this try to kill us.”

“Bad bunch,” the barman said as he nodded at the sash. “New in town and vicious. A group came in here trying for a payoff. Told them, we pay the Son’s. They threatened to burn my place down. Said the Sons would soon be ghosts.”

“Did they touch or sit anywhere in the inn?” Zade asked.

“Well yeah the sat at that corner of the inn. Planning there no good plan I assume.” The barman said.

Zade walk to the corner of the inn where the group sat. He sat down and started to use the force to detect some clues. Nothing came, he was to exhausted he needed to rest. He stood back up and walk back to Tujroy.

“What did you see?” Tujroy asked.

“Nothing. I am too exhausted. This is my first time resting.” Zade said. He looked to the barman. “Can I get two beds for the night?”

The barman nodded.

Zade looked at Tujroy “you look like you can use some sleep as well.”

 Tujroy nodded and headed upstairs as Zade followed.

Next morning…. Zade woke up bright and early and sat in the corner of the inn. He started to use the force. Images started flowing through his mind, he saw the leader again, she was holding something in her lap. Another set images in flash in his head, he saw the leader walking in to an abandon building. Zade caught his breath. He waited tell Tujroy woke up and told him of the images.

“This might get real nasty my friend. I would not want you to get hurt. I think it might be better if I go in alone, but your skill will be really useful and make the mission easy. So I leave the decision up to you.”

“I serve the balance of things and right now that is backing you. Lead, I will follow.” Tujroy did not look up from the cleaning of his pistol and maintenance of his gear.

As Tujroy began his morning exercises, Zade watched. The copper skinned Mūl constantly adjusted his body, gun and blade into strange shapes and forms to address unseen enemies. Zade eventually made out the words that Tujroy recited like a prayer as he moved.

“I do not aim with my hand. He who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I aim with my eye. I do not shoot with my hand. He who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I shoot with my mind. I do not kill with my gun. He who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father. I kill with my heart.”

Tujroy finished his katas and washed in the Basin. The cold water was a pleasant shock. Across the room from him Zade was taken aback by the cross hatch scarring, that covered most of Tujroy’s body.

“The Master’s tail.” Tujroy had turned and recognized the unasked question. “My old master, Mordain’s favorite way to punish slaves short whip, braided leather with teeth or metal braided leather into it.”

Tujroy finished by downing his gear. Gun belt, gun on right thigh, kukri on left. Tujroy ran his finger around the cartridges looped into the belt. 50. Plus 5 left in the dragoon. He needed to find a tinker who knew how to make ammunition.

Down stairs were a humble breakfast and a lead. The barkeep threw the plates in front of them.

“On the house, word came in about you two keeping the peace between the Son and the Foresters.”  

“Thank you.” Zade said, as Tujroy nodded.

“What is the plan?” Tujroy asked while starting into his breakfast. “Are we going to just attack or are we going to try an alternate path?”

“I believe I should go to their base and see if I can speak to them. Hear them out, before I take them to the Foresters. If they even have what we are looking for.” Zade started into his own breakfast, “How well can you shoot at a distance? Can you shoot to wound, not to kill?”

“I can. I have five rounds I can fire before I have to reload.” Tujroy spoke as he finished his breakfast. He had eaten quickly and purposefully. No time for enjoyment.  “I will follow, but stay back. I know Drow can produce a globe of shadow. If you do this I will take it as a signal things are bad and begin my attack.”

As the barkeep, Owensar, cleared the plates, the two travelers asked where they could find the Bitch’s Hounds. “Old bar at the water front. They call it the kennels now. They killed the owner and his family when he wouldn’t sell.”

As they approached the building that Owensar had directed them to, Zade nodded to Tujroy. The Mūl headed down a side ally to try and find a vantage point.

Zade continued to the center of the meeting streets and stopped in the middle.

“I would like to speak to your leader. Let me speak and no harm will come to anyone, attack me and there will be blood.” Zade announced in his strongest commanding tone.

“Are you shitting me?” A voice with a distinct Dranshire accent called out from the bar. “You have got to be shitting me. No one comes out to the kennels and calls out the Hounds.” The man’s voice was conversational, easy and light hearted.

Two men walked out of the tavern now called the kennels. The building had originally been called the ‘Fisherman’s Tale’. Its broken and burnt sign now lay in the alley. When the Bitch’s Hounds had taken the place they had renamed it the kennels, right after they killed the previous owner.

Tujroy could not hear the small talk between Zade and the two men. He weighed his options and quickly scaled the building wall next to him. On the roof, he began to make his way to the kennels. He had seen no firearms on the two men and felt the time was now to make the move to an unexpected attack line.

Zade relaxed his hand on the staff and loosened up, “I wish to talk to the Lady.”

 

“Lady doesn’t drop everything because a stray shade calls. You want to join the pack, just say so and I’ll walk you through those doors myself.” The man answered. His friend had yet to speak. A glint above signaled that Tujroy had moved to the roof of the kennels.

“I have no interest in joining your group. I am here to talk to the Lady, as you call her. No need for violence. She has something that I believe is not hers.” Zade said cautiously.

The two men now looked very aggravated.

“You came here not seeking any problems? Well your shit out of luck, mate. Men Fire!” the speaker yelled.

Zade called on the Force to jump up and away from the incoming attacks. He dodged one bullet as the other bit deep into his left arm.

“Big mistake.” Zade said quietly.

Tujroy heard the distinct report of gunfire as Zade leapt away faster than he could follow. The sound of the guns changed things. He gathered his breath to yell the words he had herd his mentor Loken use when he met another gunslinger, words he had not expected to say till after his 25th summer. He yelled in a voice strong and clear, “Ni copaanir gra’tua!”

“Vorer!!” The word roared out from the bar.

Tujroy made his way back to the street, as a golden skinned elf walked out of the kennels to meet him. They circled each other, sizing up the competition. The elf was older, but Tujroy had no idea how much older. How long had those hands worked the guns?

The elf pulled his long coat off and tossed it to the speaker. Speaker caught it without protest. His clothing was very finely made, lipstick on the collar showed he was popular with the women. His hair was swept back and well maintained. His black guns had silver handles, and silver was worked all along his gun belts.

Tujroy simply brushed his duster back so his coat fell behind his dragoon. His gun was a beaten horse compared to his competitor’s pistols. It was old and patina was present along the entire metal. It had been a lump of dirt and rust when Loken had first given it to him. Tujroy’s holster was the plain creased leather of the working traveler.  Worn and old, but a sheen of Kerx oil was well worked in to that leather.

The elf gave a yipping laugh, “Can that thing even fire?”

This sent a wave of laughter through his pack.

Tujroy was glad of his focus. He had to admit the guns the elf carried were much more beautiful than the old workhorse his master had given him. Pretty did not guide the bullet.

Zade seen the standoff and in a blink Force jumped between the two men.

“Tujroy, please don’t kill this man. It is bad enough we have to battle these people. Remember my friend, killing only leads to more killing.”

Tujroy was simply watching the elf, whose hands were at the ready.

Zade seen a group of men charging towards them, he  ran to them and force pushed two of the men who flew back and struck the wall of the bar. Zade’s staff was a blur as he struck one guy on the head, and then swept another off his feet and the final guy took a staff to the face. He turned and looked at the two men who paid no attention to their surroundings.

"Tujroy, this path is not forced on you, but this requires you to guide your path! The outcome is yours to choose. You control your destiny now.” Zade said.

Tujroy was aware of Zade, but his focus was on his opponent. He watched, like a hawk, waiting for the elf to move.        

The elf waited on Tujroy.

“Make your move, Boy.” The elf taunted, “But what is your name so I can add it to your pyre?”

“Tujroy.” He said his name quickly and methodically, and grimaced as he did. Having been born a slave, Tujroy had been trained to answer or get of the master’s tail. His upbringing betrayed his training and he had answered before he was aware.

The elf laughed, “Tujroy? That’s it? No fancy add on? Well now my name is Quazin Darkgun, on account of these.” He idly tapped the butt of his right hand revolver. “Do you know what Tujroy means in Dalish? It means dog. Tell me are you a dog, boy?”

As the last word cleaved his lips, the elf’s left hand had dropped and pulled his gun. Three shots rang out.

Zade watched the exchange of words, he seen the elf’s hand move, quick as lightning and the deafening roar of the gun just as quickly.

Tujroy simply no longer occupied the same space. He had dropped his body supported by one leg, crouched the other, stretched back for balanced. Next Tujroy launched himself, from his crouched leg and covered the distance to the elf, his right hand drew and tossed his gun as his left hand caught it.

The elf was drawing his right hand pistol as Tujroy was on him. Tujroy slammed his pistol down on top of the elf’s. His right hand drew his Kukri which he placed into the hollow of the elf’s wrist.

“Yield or be the one hand shooter.” Tujroy said.

A group of 12 men ran outside the Kennel with weapons at the ready. Zade was in aww by Tujroy lightning fast reflexes. He thought to himself that in order for Tujroy to become that fast he had to undergo some harsh training. Zade saw the battle of the two gunmen coming to an end. Tujroy would stand victorious. There gun skill where clearly at different level.

Now there was the decision to make yield and take the cowards’ way out or be a one handed shooter and remember your battle that you loss for the rest of your life. Still not satisfied with the outcome, at least no one died.

All of sudden Zade felt a sword slice his back. The pain drove him to his knees. Now on one knee Zade looked up to find himself surrounded. All 12 men with their sword at the ready, Zade was in so much pain, he could feel the blood run down his back.

One of the men said “We got you now; there is nowhere left to run.”

Another yelled “Lady, we have him surrounded would you like to deliver the final blow?”

All the men smiling thinking Zade death was near.

The Lady step outside the door with the satisfied smile of the cat that ate the canary on her face.

“You have some balls coming to my place and demanding we talk.” She turned to Tujroy. Her smile fades. “You better kill him or I will.”

The Lady had failed to realize her mistake until without moving the kukri; he rolled his body and extended the left hand with his dragoon leveled at her face. “My friend if you please.” Tujroy thumbed back the hammer to emphasize his determination.

The Lady was looking straight at Tujroy, her eyes held no fear. They were only deep pools of rage and hate.

Zade had no choice. Using the force he jumped out of the circle with lightning speed, but in the process two of the men sliced either side of his arm. Now bleeding from both his arm and back he was standing face to face with the Lady.

“The way I see it you either die by me, the great Kassandra or you run away like little dogs with their tail between their legs.” Kassandra, leader of the Bitch’s Hounds said distastefully.

All of the men now rushing toward Zade, “I see your hate Kassandra, why is it here? Why do you want to hurt the weak and not help….”

Zade was caught off “Silence you fool!! Don’t you see you are about to die.” Kassandra yelled.

Zade with no hesitation swept Kassandra off her feet and before she hit the ground he slammed his staff in her stomach. Then turn to face the twelve men.

From behind Zade heard the dragoon roared. The man closest to reaching Zade fell as his right knee exploded. The dragoon roared again. The next man fell as well. Zade snapped the staff in a circular arc causing the crowd to back away. He kept himself within staff reach of Kassandra. His movements cool and on point. Zade began to slam the hands holding swords in quick hard movements. Bones snapped and swords clanged against the ground. The first two were now unarmed.

As Tujroy pulled his sights to his next target he felt resistance from his prisoner.

Quazen intentionally placed his weight against the blade of the kukri and kicked away from Tujroy. Warm blood bathed Tujroy as he fell, his balance lost as the resistance he strained against disappeared. Tujroy hit the ground and as Quazen’s remaining pistol began to bark. One round struck Tujroy in the right thigh.

 Kassandra took advantage of the chaos and ran towards her pet gunslinger. Tujroy lost sight of them as he was attacked by two men who took him for a softer target than Zade. They began to stomp and kick at him as he tried desperately to avoid their strikes.

Zade was encircled. He continued to twirl his bow to maintain room from the crowd. The speaker from earlier was closest and Zade was a bit distraught with himself over the joy he felt as he smashed the man’s toes. The man directly behind him now, took the advantage and charged Zade. Having felt the man there and his intentions, Zade guided the bow staff in its recoil arc from speaker’s toes; back across his shoulder and jabbed it into the approaching man’s face, breaking his nose.

Only 3 men remained they decided running was the safer option.

Zade turned to help Tujroy as the gun went off and both of the standing men fell. Tujroy rose to his feet and limped over to his friend. Both were a battered mess. They limped over to the speaker.

Before they could question him, he raised his hands in supplication. “I yield! I know where the gun is!”

“Good.” That is the only word Zade could find through the pain he felt.

Tujroy just nodded.

Zade tied the speaker hand together and toss him over his shoulder.

Out the corner of his eye, Tujroy spotted Quazen’s pistol. Tujroy limped over and picked up the pistol and examined it. The metal was a deep black, almost like cast iron, but it felt more like steel. The metal seemed cold to the touch, even after laying in the sun. The silver slab grips were engraved with the four moons of Ginner. Tujroy tucked the gun into the small of his back. He would have to spend time going over the weapon and looking for safeties and traps. Many gunslingers trapped their guns to prevent others from using them. He filed back in to Zade and the limped away.

 A few hours of limping they arrived at the red forest domain, home of the Foresters.

“Markus we have your proof that the sons did not steal your gun.” Zade said as he sat the guy on the ground.

Markus and two men caught out and looked at the men before them.

“What the hell happen?” Markus asked as he saw the two men bleeding.

“Speak.” Zade said to speaker.

The speaker looked up at Markus. “The gun is located in a safe in the Lady’s office. The combination is 12, 18, and 21. The Kennel is where you well find the safe.”

Zade then cut the gut free. “Be gone.” Zade said to the speaker.  The two men then took the speaker inside.

Markus signal for men “Let’s go get our gun back.” The men started to move out.

Zade sat down on the ground as Tujroy did the same. A few minutes later Markus came back with his gun in a case.

“I owe an apology to the Sons. Hank give them a call and invite them over and get these two cleaned up.”

Zade then collapsed on the ground because he loss to much blood. Tujroy was not far behind as he fell to the ground as well.

The next day Zade woke up and found Davin right beside him.

“You’re up, that is a surprise. Your wounds are healed to as well. How do you feel?” Davin asked

Zade Stretched “Sore . Like I have been sliced in the back.”

Davin chuckled “Well you did us a great deal. How can we ever repay you?”

Zade looked at Davin “All that I ask is that you turn your corrupted ways into helping the innocence.”

“Done.” Davin Said “Hear is the money for helping. It is amazing the work you and your partner did. Taking on a whole group all by your selves, we will forever tell this tale. This money in the chest is our appreciation to you. Thank you my friend. There is also horse outside for you and your friend so you can take on your next journey.”

Zade nodded “Thank you.”

Davin got up off his seat “If there is ever a time you need help or resources the sons of the sea is at you service.” Davin said as he bowed.

Zade bowed his head “The same goes for you my friend.”

Davin then turn and walked away. Zade now putting on his he sat next to him. Zade now putting on his he sat next to him.

“Well that was some battle. Thank you for the help my friend.” Zade said.

Tujroy nodded.

The barkeep then handed Zade a letter. Zade open it up and read it.

Zade sighed “On to the next mission.”       

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