At the sound of the soldiers coming down the alley, Gronk orders the rest of the party up through the roof hatch to flee, taking the magic device from Vernon in an attempt to provide a distraction. They flee across the rooftops of the slums, noting an entire company of Peacekeepers, a Strangler, and an Avenger in the alley, queuing up to assault the safehouse. After fleeing across a few row houses and hearing the one-dwarf battle rage on behind them, Alton returns to try to aid Gronk from the rooftops.
Gronk finally succumbs to the overwhelming numbers against him, but as he starts to fall, seven Dwarven Slayers enter the fight shouting the battle cry “Kara m’arou” – Gronk remembers all of them from miscellaneous incidental contacts during his journeys through the Southlands. The Dwarves decimate the Peacekeeper forces with Poppy and Alton providing support from the rooftops above, but in the process all of the Dwarves save Gronk are slain.
The party rents a room in a boarding house a few blocks away to regroup and continue questioning Vernon and discover that Corky is being held in a laboratory in a hidden sublevel beneath the University of Invention. The group takes to the sewers and finds a concealed escape route from the University, granting them access into the lab. The party finds Corky along with the plans and a working scale model of the auto-loading mechanism for the Bubblesneezer Cannon. They convince Corky to aid them in destroying the flotilla and to escape to the North.
They spend the remainder of the day liquidating the gems awarded by the Godfather, upgrading a few weapons, and procuring the necessary supplies to execute their daring plan….
Several ideas ran through Moriel’s head, all of them bad. She glanced at Poppy, trying to figure out how to get the halfing to leave.
Gronk snatched the ring, then grabbed a bottle from the big human, apparently trying to empty the bottle. Then he growled for the rest of them to get up on the roof and run if they heard signs of battle. Moriel hesitated for a moment, but it seemed the dwarf had a plan, and since she herself had absolutely no idea what to do, she was more than happy to follow the dwarf’s directions.
They got onto the roof in the nick of time. As Moriel replaced the cover to hide the hole they had climbed up through, they could all hear the sound of fighting. Somehow, they all got over to the next roof without anyone falling down. It did not look as if that would last, though. She suspected that luck rather than skill was the reason none had fallen. To her relief, most of the humans decided to descend to the streets below as soon as they were out of sight from whoever had come marching up the alley. She and Poppy stayed on the rooftops, following the others, Moriel carrying the gnome.
One of the humans, the only one still on the rooftops, suddenly decided that he was going back to see if he could help the dwarf. And for some stupid reason, Poppy decided to follow. Moriel made a grab for the hafling, but the young halfling dodged her hand, and darted after the human. Moriel wanted to follow, but realised that if she got caught with the gnome, they would lose what little chance they had of succeeding. With a sigh, she continued towards the inn where they had planned to meet.
They got there without being discovered, and one of the humans managed to rent a room facing a narrow alley that did not seem to see much use. The rest of them got in through the window. Then there was little for Moriel to do but to wait.
It felt like an eternity before Poppy and the others, even Gronk, showed up. The dwarf was covered in blood, and she could not say how much of it was his own, and how much of it belonged to others. Poppy looked unharmed, though, and Moriel breathed a quiet sigh of relief. The halfling was, or so the elf thought, old enough to choose her own path, though it was hard to say with the short-lived races.
It struck her then, that in a few short decades, she would lose her friend. In less than a century, everyone in the room, maybe except from the dwarf, would have grown old and died, even should they all survive the war, disease and accidents. For the first time, she truly understood why so many elves, even before the Evareâ€™Nin, chose to avoid close ties with the younger races.
She watched with interest as the dwarf questioned the gnome. He was quite the intimidating sight, and she did not blame the gnome for caving in. Soon enough, they had the information they needed, and they quickly came up with a plan to find the imprisoned halfling.
Moriel had thought the trip through the mountains was bad, but it was nothing compared to this. The whole place stank, of course, which made quite the difference. The only bright side was that she did not expect to be trapped in here for days, though she was not sure if she would ever get rid of the smell.
The hidden doorway was hard to find, and Moriel suspected that without the dwarf, they would never have found it. It opened into a small privy, and the group tumbled through the opening, and then into the next room.
Her hopes that their job here would be done were quickly dashed, though, as the halfling seemed to have a problem understanding that he was a prisoner. It was not that he did not believe them, but rather that he did not seem to truly understand what they were saying. It was as if he was distancing himself from their words, listening as one would listen to a fairytale or a lay, as if what they told him somehow did not apply to him, did not really happen in his world.
“Do you know how I met Poppy?” The words slipped out of her before she could stop them. Too late, she wondered if Poppy would appreciate her telling the story, but Poppy nodded at her, and as it seemed she did have Corky’s attention, she quickly told how the old halfling how the two had met.
She was not sure whether her story had any effect, but soon after, it seemed that the halfling made up his mind to come with them, and together, they started planning how to take out the fleet in the harbour.
In the hazy lamplight, the quiet calm takes a hold of Halfling eyelids, slowly making them droop, until they finally shut. Her breathing slows and dreams sweep her away.
Boats burn brightly, a magical fire twisting over the timbers, licking the sails, possessing all that the fleet is, and was. Poppy sits upon the edge of a crowâ€™s nest attached to the highest mast of a ship edging away from the deadly inferno. Her black-booted feet swing, bouncing off the nest, giving her short legs even more momentum as they go back and forth. A cutlass, strapped to her side, equaling the length of her legs, swings dangerously about, almost matching the motion of her legs. One wild eye stays focused on the fires in the growing distance, the other eye is covered by a black patch. Strands of straw-like hair swirl about the most mysterious of black hats which sits atop her head. A Ruffled white shirt, is tucked neatly into black breeches, a single red rose, tucked into the breast pocket is the only adornment.
As if jolted, she springs to her feet, now standing upon the edge of the crowâ€™s nest, one hand stretches out to hold onto the mast, the other draws her cutlass. She leans forward into the briny air, raises her cutlass to the sky, and pronouncesâ€¦.â€I am Poppy! Destroyer of evil, Ruler of land, air, and now sea! Bow before Halfling pirate of the seas! Arrrgh!!â€
A disgruntled gnome stands upon the deck below looking up at the Halfling in disbelief. He sweeps a low bow.
Captain Poppy looks pleased, but canâ€™t help wondering why the sea smells like crap.