he City Watch
The tracks were fresh. The falling rain did little to help conceal the light
indents upon the muddy field, making them all the more visible to the eyes of
the Watch investigator as he moved swiftly to reach his target. He smiled to
himself, and murmured quiet tribute to Tymora that his suspects had failed to
account for the storm in the haste of their departure from the city. They had
taken the utmost care for many months, evading the eyes of the Task Force
assigned to the case. And yet, this slip was just what the investigator had
waited for so that he could finally bag the criminals and bring them to justice.
The training since his enlistment was what brought him to this point.
Patience and deduction; skills that helped maintain his sanity as the grand
finale continued to elude him. Nonetheless, the long wait would make the victory
all the more sweet. It provided him with a swelling sense of satisfaction to
know his months of work would soon reward him with answers to the questions that
had kept him up for those many long nights.
As he reached the edge of the field and into the edge of the forest, the
investigator took a moment to stop and survey the ground before him once again.
The canopy of the trees shielded the soil from the rain, and despite the
dampness of the dirt the tracks were no longer as visible as they had been out
in the open. He lowered himself to one knee and removed the gauntlet of his
uniform; its silver and blue trim darkened by the shade and the absorption of
his palm lightly against the ground, he soon found what he was looking for. The
indents of the tracks he had been following continued deeper into the forest.
Another smile came to his lips as he fit the gauntlet snuggly back onto his
hand. He rose to his feet and continued on, slower now so that he could
recognize any sudden changes in the path that his targets may have taken.
His chase led him to a large opening on the side of a ridge. He smiled,
realizing that his suspects were likely meeting within. A series of slow and
steady breaths to soften the thumping in his chest and to relax his nerves. It
would be a shame if he mucked the whole investigation up, because he was
overeager. The taskforce leader he'd been assigned to wouldn't like that.
A quick survey of the area revealed no traps set about to warn the
inhabitants of his intrusion. He offered silent tribute to Tymora once again for
the fortune of his target's carelessness. Were she to continue to smile down
upon him, the arrests and interrogations of these men would be just as easy.
He took a deep breath and descended into the tunnels of the cave. The
smell of damp moss grew thick, causing a queasy sensation in his head. The
shadows hugged him and embraced him into the darkness as he moved silently
against the tunnel wall. It was no matter. In fact, he preferred the concealment
that the blackness offered him, for he would be able to see hostiles before they
As he continued deeper, the investigator began to hear the sound of his
quarry ahead. He neared the entrance to the dimly lit room at the end, and knelt
down on one knee at the edge of the opening, his ears perking up as he listened
to the conversation ensue intently. There was only but one question left to
answer before he made his move. Confirmation that he had found the men he needed
to bring to justice.
“I expect Olso Evarar will grow worried over the loss of ‘is goods, aye?"
The first voice spoke in a heavy maritime accent. “Can't expect ‘im to sit
around pretty while we got so many of ‘is shipments. The bloke'll start takin'
more nasty steps soon, aye?"
“He already begun moving since the last big score a tenday ago," another
spoke, his words and grammar betraying his lack of basic grammatical education.
“Poor fella' been all over them city Watch, tryin' to find where be all the
things he lost."
“I doubt they'll help him much, considering the man they assigned to head
the taskforce for the case," a third, well educated and calm voice spoke.
“Moreover, once everything gets to the Melvaunt Militants, he will have plenty
more to worry about than stolen merchandise."
The investigator's lips curled up in a smile in recognition of the irony.
Here the suspects were so confident that the Watch would never find them,
completely unknowing that one of their number was just around the corner. He
could feel his heart beginning to race again with anticipation. He was eager to
see their faces when they realized their folly.
“Aye. They payin' well for this ‘ere cargo, aren't they? And just watch
when the Council finds out that them fellers attackin' their city be supplied by
Evarar himself. No more trust ‘mongst them, and ill be all the easier to do what
we do best."
“Truly. The plot was executed perfectly and before long, Phlan will be in
turmoil again. Then everything will be much easier for all of us."
That was all he needed. The educated voice confirmed the involvement of
these three in the Evarar thefts that had occurred over the past months.
Thousands of gold worth of arms stolen from import ships and caravans, bound for
Evarar to distribute in their dominance over the arms trade within Phlan. There
was more to all of this, and the investigator longed to hear it, but it was time
to make his move to identify these ring leaders.
Quickly, he attached the small shield to his left forearm, preparing for
when the other three members of the taskforce would arrive and the arrests would
be made. These men would likely not come quietly, and the investigator had to be
ready for combat. He gripped his short sword comfortably, and began to move to
the edge of the opening into the room so he could identify the individuals.
The first man at the crude wooden table had hair as gray as the sky that
day. Long and stringy, it ran down to his shoulders and looked as if it hadn't
been groomed in months. He sat hunched as he spoke with the other men, picking
at his teeth with his pinky finger which had a nail longer than any of the
Across from him, to the right side of the investigator's field of view sat
a large, burly man with an idiotic grin on his face. His hair was shorter than
the others, and seemed to grow uneven in certain spots, as if he cut it himself.
Despite his unkempt appearance, he looked powerful and competent in a fight.
More than the investigator could handle on his own without back up.
With his back to the entrance to the room, sat the third individual, whose
hair from the back looked to be neatly combed and fashioned in a way that made
it seem strange that he was in the company of the other two. He sat with
excellent posture, comparable to that of a wealthy merchant or noble from some
But it was the forth, silent individual in the room that took the
investigator by surprise. He hadn't spoken all the while, and sat with a
militaristic posture as he listened intently to the other three. His presence
brought a sting to the investigator's heart as he recognized the silver chain
mail with blue trim, and he began to feel weak in the knees.
It was his taskforce leader who sat as the fourth member of the quartet.
It was his mentor and the man who had trained and taught him the lessons that
had brought him to this moment. The man who was supposed to be in charge of
finding those responsible for Evarar's stolen goods.
With that recognition, the eagerness and excitement of the pursuit
dissipated. The investigator felt his heart sink into his feet, and his feet
fall below to places not physically possible. His hands shook uncontrollably,
and then his muscles suddenly relaxed involuntarily. The short sword dropped to
the cave floor with an echoing sound, drawing the immediate attention of the
The investigator quickly retook his position at the edge of the tunnel
wall, a desperate hope that the sound of the sword falling would be dismissed by
the men in the room. For what seemed like an eternity, he listened carefully for
approaching footsteps or the hushed whispering of the quartet. His mind raced,
and the voice within his head urged him to get away. But his heart spoke
differently, beckoning him to stay. To make sure he hadn't made a mistake.
When he heard nothing approaching, he peered around the corner once again,
only to meet the sudden thrust of a hand moving forward to grasp his throat. The
well-groomed man whom had sat with his back to the investigator had moved as
silently as a well-trained assassin and laid in wait for him to make the one
mistake. That one mistake, amidst the many things he had done properly. Yet that
one moment of faulty rationalization cost him, and it cost him dearly.
“An Investigator for the Watch," The well-groomed man said calmly as he
dragged the struggling investigator into the room. “I presume he is one of
yours?" The task-force leader merely nodded with an almost sorrowful look in his
eyes as the investigator stopped his struggling and met his gaze. He felt a
clash of emotions ranging from betrayal to pure anger as he felt the grip of his
captor relax slightly and slide to the back collar of his leathers.
“He's your responsibility then. Think of your family, and what will happen
to you if we reveal your involvement in all this. Silence him."
The task-force leader stood and slowly drew his long sword from his
scabbard, approaching the investigator slowly without hiding his reluctance. He
stopped in front of him, taking a deep breath as he held the sword up in both
hands, readying a forward thrust.
“Don't do this," the investigator struggled again, and his captor's grip
quickly slid up and squeezed painfully on the back of his neck; the fingers
closing on either side of his throat.
“I'm sorry," the task-force leader said. “You weren't supposed to know. No
one was supposed to know."
Without another word, he thrust the blade forward, ending two promising