Thieves of Pice

The rogue and paladin descend, the latter’s heavy steel footfalls clanking on the ladder rungs.

The Vagabond by Remedios Varo,1958. Oil on canvas.

At the bottom of the ladder, the mouth of a tunnel, carved from earth. They follow it for a short distance, the orange light blooming brighter and the sound of of wild violin music echoing against the tunnel walls.

After several minutes’ walk, the earthen tunnel gives way to quarried stone — one of the many ruins that the city is built upon. Strange bulbous mushrooms glow with bioluminescent glee, the source of the orange light.

The two adventurers pass several others as they come closer to the source of the music. Foul-complected thieves, wispy whores with glittering knives, and several cutpurses barely old enough to be away from their mother’s apron strings. Many accost the pair, but turn aside when Corben flashes the sign of Visiting practitioner.

At last the flood of traffic leads them to a vast cavern, hundreds of feet high. Stone houses fallen into ruin fill the space, but centrally located is a tall dome, surrounded by mighty columns. The music is coming from there.

A blind man stood in the center of the ruined dome, tall spindly frame whirling like a maddened scarecrow. His eyes were tightly bound with a strip of white linen, and his hands moved feverishly on the fiddle. He ducked and bobbed around the roaring fire, never once touching the flames.

Three dozen people stand around, watching the performance with varying levels of attention. Two men and a half-orc are busily occupied, sharing the attentions of a battered looking whore. A brace of thieves loll in the puddles of a ruptured cask of wine. No one immediately pays any attention to Corben or Haskeer.

The blind man stops dancing abruptly, one leg still outstretched. A discordant note hung on the fiddle.

Without turning, he spoke.

“Who the fuck are you, and what’s your business in Oregano’s Court?”

His grisly court obligingly tittered and brayed.

Oregano tapped his jutting chin with the bow of his violin.

“What business do you have here in my city? And don’t lie to me boy, I can hear your heartbeat and smell the sweat on you. I’ll know if you speak falsehood.”

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