Perry was shopping that morning in Kazgrad. The love of his life (thus far, at any rate), Audirah, had been waking up sick to her stomach and putting on weight. She had asked him pick up some things from the herbalist shop run by a cantankerous but canny little snerg named Kenso and while he was in town he thought he might as well run a few other minor errands. Perry was a talented conjuror but looked a bit of a lightweight. On top of that, people, especially bigoted people, tended to see his elf heritage rather than his human side, despite his lack of pointy ears, and so it was as well for Master Stroika that he was accompanied by his hulking warrior friend, Wolfe, who had business with a certain Dominick.
They had stopped for a bowl of stew and a brew for brunch. Tucked up in a corner of the Pig’s Bladder Inn they overheard locals discussing the strange crimes recently committed near the city. In a couple of the outlying farms, a gang of brigands had apparently raped, mutilated, and murdered the parents, and then kidnapped the young children. At this distasteful news Perry decided to head back to the Rasulki Manor with Audirah’s herbs. He knew she was safe there but it made him happier to think he would be there to protect her too if danger threatened. Wolfe told him to tell the Captain of the Citadel, adding that the and Dominick had to go to Khazan for a couple days. Earnest as ever, Perry wished them a safe trip and headed back home, using his perception talent to check every passerby in case of ill intentions.
As Mensa, a dwarf warrior and smithy, pounded happily away at his forge making beautiful metal things, another dwarf returned from an errand, very upset. He had taken a load of farm tools and implements to a farm near the estate and found the house in ruins, the farmer and his wife murdered and mutilated, their two young children gone without a trace. He liked these people ( good customers!) and if he was a warrior he would storm out to track down and punish the perpetrators of this heinous crime. He was especially sad about the lovely young children. He had made toys for them. He said he was going to report this to the Captain of the Citadel.
Mensa struggled to remain calm long enough to ask detailed questions of his friend. Were there any tracks? Did it look like gobble work or human work? (Mensa could not imagine anyone destroying a house, torturing the couple, then kidnapping the children - EXCEPT for gobbles or humans. And gobbles would have eaten some of the humans, rather than just leave them mutilated. Despite his experiences, Mensa still tended to divide the wicked into gobbles and humans only.)
After questioning his friend, Lavabreath, he asked if he might take some of toys, because he would find the children and he would want to bring them some happiness. He then split a tree stump all the way to the roots with his new lucky axe and said he would deal with the dirty kidnappers likewise.
Mensa had a lovely double-bladed axe that was his dissertation for advancement in the manly art of forging. He started with the broken blade that was his "lucky axe" and had merged and folded its metal and new sky-metal together to make the blades. ("Sky-metal" = iron ore found in meteors or meteorites.) He would love to test it on nastybad slavers, things even worse than gobbles!
Lavabreath thought it must have been humans because gobbles would have killed the children too. Unless they were going to eat them later...All the dwarves were upset. Knowing he was going to need someone who could follow a cold trail, an expert tracker, Mensa went out to look for his ‘brother’ Wolfe.
As Mensa went out to find the wolf man, he saw an odd thing. Nalki, the rogue hyenaman, was racing breathlessly at top speed across the parade ground toward the citadel where he normally stayed. Nalki seldom ran, unless he was being chased by something bad or he was pursuing something. Even Mensa could tell that the hyenaman was riled up.
"Whoa! Stop, Nawwlky!" (Mensa's accent tended to roll R’s and elongate W’s. Not quite Scottish, but you get the idea.) "Who chasing you?!" He wondered if a hyenaman 's sense of smell would track as well as Wolfe?
As Zhahn and Kannish watched, Mensa came out of the dwarf compound, and caught up with the hyenaman, who stopped there, huffing and puffing to catch his breath. Kannish grinned a wolfish grin and chuckled, "I smell a fight here." He set off at his distance eating lope to join the pair. Kannish loved a brawl. He had worked on occasion as a bouncer and his scuffles with Wolfe and Dominick were something to watch. For his part, Zhahn took a last good slug of his beer, got to his feet and started to amble in the direction of Mensa and Nalki. He decided he would wait to run until the situation actually required it.
Elsewhere, Perry returned from Kazgrad on his fine horse, letting her run, as she enjoyed the exercise. As they rounded the Manor House he saw Mensa with Nalki. The hyenaman looked like he was trying to catch his breath and then there was Kannish coming from the house at a run to join them. The half-elf rode up to see what was going on, instantly curious.
Mensa looked up and saw Perry. He knew that Wolfe had gone to Kazgrad with Perry that morning. "Where Wolfe?" yelled Mensa.
"Vot!! Vere??" yelled Kannish, drawing his dagger, and spinning all around.
“Vere iss Verwolff??”