RE: Swamped
You have a weird thought. You're carrying Setrus, and while she might hurt you, she wouldn't hurt him.

So you carefully lift his arm, and attempt to pat her on the head with it.

She seems confused more than anything. But confused isn't angry, so that's a starting point. You use the pause to drag him away and put him on the couch.

After a little while, Nocta calms down, and returns to a less frightening size. Then she walks over to Setrus and curls up next to his unconscious body.

You've made a real mess for this old woman now. And it's probably not safe for her if Setrus wakes up. So you pick up the poor soul and carry her outside, shutting the door behind you.

Mortimer soon runs up. He stares at the unconscious woman in your arms.

"I'm not sure that was the best way to handle things," he says.

"I know, it's a disaster. I was just trying to get his pet out of the way."

"Was that all?" Mortimer groans. "She knows me. I could have played with her a bit if you'd just made that clear. But it's a bit late for that now, I suppose."

"Not much for it but to fix this as best we can," you sigh. "The old woman's fainted, so she probably just needs to be woken up, but I want to get her someplace safe. And I guess I'm not entirely sure what to do about our other, ah, patient."

"He'll be out for at least six hours, and Nocta won't be going anywhere without his orders." Mortimer says. "So we can take our time on figuring that part out." He looks at the woman again. "As for her... I know where her child lives, and it's right near where I was headed next. Seems that would be a good place to drop her off."

"As long as it's not too far," you grumble.

"No, only a block or so."

That sounds good to you.

"All right. So where are we headed, then?"
RE: Swamped
The smithy.
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"We're going to the smithy. There's something I noticed during the accident and I think it's important."

Accident? You're not sure you're up to date on that, but you follow him, carrying the old woman.

He stops right outside.

"The light's on inside," he says. "That makes things more awkward. The smith will be none too pleased to see me."

"Well, then why don't you wake up the old woman's family?" you ask.

"That's another thing. She's the smith's mother. I thought we'd drop her off at the house, but if the smith's at work..."

Something strikes you.

"Do we know it's the smith in there?" you ask. "Can't see inside too well."

"Why would anyone else turn the lights on?"

"So we think it's the smith because no thief would bother to turn the lights on," you point out.

"But the smith's house is right across the road. If she's not working late, she'd be there and could see it. Any thief trying to be clever would realize that."

You suppose he's got a point there. But now that the idea's in your head, something about the scene strikes you as odd if it really is the smith inside.
RE: Swamped
The door is unhinged.
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"I don't think so. The hinge pins are loose."

Mortimer stares at them.

"Huh. I didn't notice. It's still hard to spot, honestly - they're just poking out a little."

"Yeah, they take 'em out, unlock the door from the inside, then put them back in. But it's hard to make 'em go in perfectly smoothly." You think for a bit. "If what you said is right, then whoever's in there must have had some plan for dealing with the smith. Maybe check if she's okay."

"She'll throw something at me if she sees me!"

"If she' does, then she's fine, and she'll see the light at her smithy and wonder what's going on. You can drop her mother off while you're at it." You hold out your arms in his direction. Grudgingly, he takes the old woman away.

"Fine, but if I get another injury, you're taking care of me."

You're more concerned with who's in there, frankly. You didn't mention it, but the tool for taking those hinges out was pretty crude in its first incarnations. It was only about a year or two before you joined the Guild that they had one that worked cleanly.

So whoever's in there is either from the future, or somehow has access to impossibly high-quality tools. Either way, you're expecting to be in for something serious when you enter.

Which means, for one thing, you want to be careful about how you make an entrance.
RE: Swamped
Is there a back door? Put a low obstacle outside that door in case the occupant tries to run for it when your presence is discovered. Then go back to the front door and knock.
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You look around quickly for a back entrance. If the thief is startled, they'll try to leave that way, probably in a hurry.

And there is one. There's also a trash box nearby, which looks to have mostly scrap iron in it. You move it in front of the doorway - the door opens outward, so it'll run into the box. And you can say with confidence it's heavy enough that just swinging a door won't move it out of place.

Now that you've set your little trap, it's time to spring it. As safely as possible. You knock on the door.

The light suddenly fades out. And you don't hear anything - especially not a door running into a trash box.

So you think they've opted to hide rather than running. An odd choice, but you suppose it makes some sense - if you come inside, they might be able to ambush you. Still, you're hardly without protection, so it seems worth the risk.

You pull the door open and look inside. No ambush yet - they probably haven't spotted you yet, since you haven't actually entered. Or they're just trying to stay hidden.

Either way, it gives you a glimpse at what's in there. Maybe you can spot something helpful.
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A polished piece of metal. There's a reflection in it, which you can almost make out...
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There's a shield. A very polished iron one. It's just lying around, and you can see something reflected in it.

It's too dark to really make anything out clearly, but you're fairly sure you see the shape of someone crouching on the floor. No sign of a weapon, though. Most likely, if they make a move, it'll be to tackle you. Or perhaps attempt to run past under cover of darkness... but if that were it, why not go for the back door?

Well. No sense making yourself an easy target. You duck down yourself as you head inside.

Something bounces off the shield, right towards you. They must have spotted you in the reflection the same way you saw them. But you manage to catch whatever it is...

Hmm. Looks like mistflowers. So they wanted to be sure you were distracted. Well, might as well turn that around on them. You toss the mistflowers over to where you'd guess the figure is, and it seems they don't have your reflexes. Or a mask, judging by the sudden coughing fit.

You slip into the fog, keeping very low. You manage to spot someone, and grab them. When the mist clears, you can see who it is...

A grebling. Who, you can't help but notice, is missing a tail.
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Ask them what they're doing here
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"Mind explaining what you're doing?"

There's no response at all. Not even a grunt of defiance. It's unsettling.

What's also unsettling is the state of the smithy. You were too focused on finding the intruder to really notice before, but now you see there's stuff strewn about everywhere. And the forge is wrecked.

Mortimer soon comes in, looking worried.

"Couldn't find the smith. Her door wasn't locked, though, so I just left her mother inside." He glances at the grebling. "Huh, don't recognize you. Which is weird, I know most of the greblings in town. And I haven't heard of any losing their tails."

Still no response.

"Not a particularly talkative one," you say. "So I don't know what they wanted in here. Maybe the same thing you were coming here for?"

He glances around quickly.

"Don't think so. That's pretty easy to spot and it's in the same place I saw it earlier."

"Does anything else seem particularly out of place, then?" you ask.

He thinks for a bit.

"Well, there's one thing I just noticed."
RE: Swamped
He points to an open cabinet.

"Pretty sure she keeps that closed during business hours. This little sneak probably went scouring through it."

You glance at the cabinet. It's open, sure, but it doesn't look like anything inside has been disturbed. And all you can see in there are the smith's tools...

Wait a moment. There's a set of pliers in there that looks a lot like the kind Feldspar has - and he liked to joke they were only twenty years out of date instead of fifty. In short, they're out of time.

So your guess is the thief took the old pliers and swapped them for newer ones. But you have no clue why, and you're getting a disturbing lack of a read from the grebling. Not even a hint of any facial expression.

But the lack of tail reminds you of the prisoner you caught snooping around the camp. That feels like an age ago, even though from another point of view it's a long way from happening in the first place. And the lack of any response - you heard that followers of the forgotten god would be completely silent when caught and questioned, and would disappear from captivity without a trace.

To another time, maybe.

Which is all well and good as speculation, but true or not, it doesn't tell you what to do with this grebling, right now.
RE: Swamped
Well let's keep the this streak of unconscious people going and knock them out, Mortimer can carry them to the hospital later
RE: Swamped
Well. They're not going to tell you anything, so it doesn't seem to be worth much effort to keep them conscious. Although, you're a bit lacking in clean options for that right now - no lazy swampleaf, Mortimer's presumably still out of darts, and you're not sure they'd faint even if you dragged them over to Nocta.

You're not going to try punching them, though. You once tried to pull that with Crosswinds in a training session and they taught you very clearly not to underestimate a grebling just because you've got a grip on them. This one doesn't seem as well-trained, or they'd have thrown those mistflowers better. But you're still wary.

Before you can think further on it, though, the choice is made for you. Something suddenly falls from the ceiling, right onto the grebling's head. Their eyes close, and you hand them to Mortimer.

"Best get them to the clinic," you say. "And what I mean by that is, go back there yourself. If you've got anything else to take care of, tell me about it and I'll see what I can do."

"It was really just seeing what Setrus was up to, and retrieving that." Mortimer points at something with his free hand. You take a glance at it.
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Some sort of symbol? It looks a little too intricate to be just that kinda like a clock or something
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Supposedly it contains his uncle's ledger
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One of the shields has a symbol on it. It's a rather odd one, though - you don't know what it means. It doesn't fit the style of a family crest, or of a national flag. For that matter, it doesn't even look much like the other shields here.

"This shield?" you ask, picking it up.

"Yes. Uncle Leo was asking about it. I think it was meant to be delivered to him, and wound up here by accident. But the smith just got mad at him, and then something happened with the forge..."

He doesn't look comfortable.

"I don't remember a lot after that. I was out like a light. Seems I got off easy compared to the others, though."

Hmm. So the shield was delivered, that's probably why it looks so out of place. The smith most likely made the others herself. You wonder what it means.

Well, one thing you notice is that the shield feels somewhat lighter than you'd expect. By poking around, you find that the handle comes loose, and pulling it off, you find a hidden compartment.

There's a book inside. Glancing through, it seems like a ledger, though the words are in an unfamiliar language. This must have been the real delivery. You show it to Mortimer.

"Any idea what this is?"

"It's something I've been looking for," says a voice you don't recognize. "How convenient that you found it for me."

You turn towards the voice, and you see a man who looks a lot like Mortimer, and two large, unruly characters at his sides.

You're kind of wishing you hadn't blocked off the other exit now.
RE: Swamped
It's a safe bet that Mortimer knows more about this person than you do, so you might be able to read from his body language whether fight, flight, or negotiation would be... Wait, why are they hugging?
RE: Swamped
Mortimer responds before you have a chance to, by flinging himself at the stranger.

"Oh, thank goodness you're here, Father!" he declares. "This brute forced me to help him in his depraved schemes! He even made me attack the smith's dear old mother, and kidnap this innocent grebling!"

"Father" seems thrown off by the declaration, but his eyes turn immediately to the unconscious grebling as Mortimer mentions them. You only note this in passing because you're already running to the back room. Maybe if you press on the door hard enough, you can dislodge the box...

"Get ahold of yourself, boy!" you hear the man shouting as you duck inside. "Stanley, get that ledger! And the shield, while you're at it. I don't care what happens to the thief. Christine, go outside and try to cut him off in the back alley."

Good thing he doesn't seem to care how loud he's barking orders. Now you know you're going to be in trouble even if you do manage to get outside.

Which suggests your best bet is to figure out how to deal with Stanley. Is there anything back here that can help you?
RE: Swamped
That looks an awful lot like a mudpike
RE: Swamped
It's darker in here, but there's enough light that you can spot a bunch of poles sticking out of a box. You reach for one.

And the feel of it is immediately familiar - it's a mudpike. Not quite the same as yours, but close enough; the overall style of them hasn't really changed over the years.

Maybe this smith has a contract with the Bogknights. You don't really have time to reflect on that, though, because Stanley is rushing inside.

A little too fast for his own good, mind. You stick the mudpike in front of his legs and he goes tumbling towards the door. Sounds like he hit something on his way there, too.

Seems your best bet right now is running back into the shop and hoping Mortimer's dad doesn't have any tricks to pull. Stanley's blocking the one exit here, and Christine is apparently coming from the other side.

And then you hear some noise. Some loud scraping, like a trash box being moved... and then a loud noise like a door swinging open, and a couple cries of pain. Looks like Christine tried to give Stanley some backup at just the right time.

And... then you hear footsteps from the front. Probably Mortimer's dad, wondering what all the noise is. This could be your chance. You raise your mudpike for a knockout blow...

And see Mortimer, shaking. You stop as he turns towards you.

"We should get out of here," he says. You follow him, a little confused, but it becomes a bit clearer as you see his father lying unconscious on the floor.

But something's odd.

"Where's the grebling?" you ask.

"I don't know! I dropped them, and... maybe they were just faking? What even fell on them?"

You were a little too distracted to notice that yourself, so you take a quick glance around where you were standing.
RE: Swamped
Pretty sure it was some kind of blacksmithing tool. Kind of odd for that to be balancing loose on a rafter, now that you mention it... Anything else up there? Oh, hello, Nocta Mortimer!
RE: Swamped
The first thing that catches your eye is a pair of pliers. And it clearly looks older than the model you saw in the cabinet.

Did the grebling pull some sleight of hand maneuver to make it look like it was falling on their own head? That seems unlikely. But the fact that there was a blacksmithing tool that high up seems more than a little odd. How would it even get up there...

As you glance up, you think you see your answer. There's some lizards crawling up in the rafters. There's a pile of junk in there, which one of them seems to be guarding.

And another one jumps down and lands on your head as it spots you looking at it. Must have thought you were a threat or something.

None of that really clarifies anything, though. But you hear some groans from the back room soon after - sounds like Stanley and Christine have picked themselves up.

"We'd best be going," you tell Mortimer.

"Okay, but where, exactly?" he asks. It's a good question that you hadn't really thought of an answer to yet.
RE: Swamped
Time to do the rendezvous for the wiz
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"Well, there's a meeting that somebody should be at soon," you mutter. "Best to head there. If nothing else, Minnie or Arlene might have the same idea."

Your first inclination is to send Mortimer off, but your second is to glance down at his unconscious father.

"Take his hat and jacket. If the light's poor, we might be able to pass you off as him. Could be useful."

"I guess," Mortimer says, a little nervously. He reaches down and takes the stuff, and you both walk out. Quickly.

The wizard told you that the meeting would be outside the sailor's guildhouse, just across from the hospital. You figure enough time's passed by now, not that you've really been keeping track.

Fortunately, when you tell Mortimer you're heading there, he says he knows the way. That's convenient. You make your way there. You run into a group doing something, but Mortimer's resemblance to his father, combined with the clothes, is enough to get them to stay out of your way.

But there's one more matter to deal with just as you arrive at the guildhouse.