Solside stories - chapter 20

There are certain things you come to accept when wandering the Krater. You accept the fact that you have to watch your step for ant-hills at every turn. You accept the fact that everyone you meet will either want to murder you, or cower in fear of you murdering them. You also accept a certain level of cognitive dissonance. You KNOW that each and every cave, building or hole in the ground is filled with and endlessly repopulating gaggle of beasts and bandits. You KNOW this, yet you go in anyway. You go in, kill whatever lives there and do whatever some fancy piece of work in town wants you to do. Mostly, it's fetching. This time, it's reveres fetching, or ”placing” as the graybeards and scholars of this world calls it.

Back when we stumbled into Solside City for the first time, we picked up a mission. The fancy piece of work who gave us the mission also gave us five of these “nano-whatever-thingamajigs”. We were asked to place them in five separate caves around the city. We couldn't just pop in and throw it down wherever, it had to be placed in certain locations, preferably a bit down in whatever hole it was. So we went.

Luckily, we managed to place the thingamajig in Treacherous tunnel on our first pass, so that one we could write off early. Varghaala however, needed a re-visit.

Varghaala, second encounter. Börje is indeed flying through the air.

You could see the eyes of our band of mercenaries glance over and go a shade more gray as they went. Stomping every varg on their way. Nothing in this cave gave any resistance. Börje merely had to look at a varg to kill it. But on they went, because some fancy piece of work wanted something done, and our mercenaries wanted to get payed. They said that mercenary work would be the easy life. Get payed to kill stuff and pillage things. Sure, it is the easy life now, but no one said that the easy life would turn into the worst thing for a mercenary. It would turn into routine.

One more thing placed, one item struck from the list. Now only three more to go. The band made a unanimous decision to go to one more, before heading back to Solside City for some much needed R & R, and maybe to go find that one lady we were supposed to. So they picked the hole closest to Solside City, so the trip to the bar afterwards would be that long. Unfortunately, the closest hole was “limbo”.

Some say that Limbo is bottomless. That you could spend weeks in that hole without finding the bottom. People around Solside City claim that few people who decide to go down that hole every return, and those that do come back scarred and not the same. Good thing our band of mercenaries are about as smart and full of character as a pile of wet planks. So they went, down down down. The strange thingamajig had to be placed on the second floor of Limbo. No problem. But curiosity got the better of our group, so they kept going. People weren't lying when they said that some didn't return, since the walls of the cave were littered with skeletons. But even more strangely, those who had survived the onslaught of gnags, björns and bandits had been compelled to set up shop on “safe” levels. Be it by some strange power of Limbo or by some eldritch design, these “safe” levels were every fifth level. Our crew made it down to level 12, before packing it in. It wasn't the mediocre resistance of the enemies that made them do it, it was the sheer level of apathy generated by murdering the same monsters, tracing the same steps. Plus, doing all this spelunking, our crew had worked up a fierce thirst.

In Limbo

After a couple of round at the bars, our crew decided to start looking for Emma. That scoundrel Walter had stolen her away from St. Rehlins and taken her here. But Solside City is large, and our crew quite drunk. Interrogating some locals told us that the one place to go if you want to disappear would be Snarstuck Alley. According to the locals, the dark and seedy alley is littered with most of Solside Citys worst scum and villains. The truth, proved to less dramatic.

A bunch of kids had made the alley their home. These rascals, no larger than one of Börjes feet, were “the worst scum of Solside City”. Hm, good joke. The kids were easy to bribe, some food, some candy and some beer was all that was needed. The only reason for the bribe, however was that Börje had issues with threatening kids. Neither Ola nor Gunde saw the problem, but they knew better than to question the gentle giant when he got in a mood.

Walter, being... straightforward?

The kids led our crew to a basement, a safehouse, that Walter had set up. Inside, we found Walter, Emma and her silent partner. We prepared for a fight, but none was had. Walter was content with letting Emma go without conflict. We wondered if Börje was really that threatening. But leaving the safehouse, Emma revealed that she had given Walter what he wanted. That one item that she had, that we weren't allowed to know anything about. Well, she hadn't given him THAT item, she had given him AN item. A fine contraption of cogs and buttons that surely would keep Walter and his cronies content until we had gotten out of dodge, or Solside City.

Emma, being resourceful.

Emma told us that the last leg of her journey would take her to Broderbo. And to get to Broderbo, you had to take either a boat, an airship or a cable car, all of which went from Farsta Strand. At the mention of that horrid place, a small fire could be seen lighting up in Gundes eyes.

Going to Farsta.