It was a chilly Olarune morning in Sharn, and across the city, three very different people were starting their day. In Broken Arch, Lius d’Lyrandar and his housemate Reina Moonblossom left their apartment to hunt out whatever breakfast they could afford. In Hareth’s Folly, Dale Hornsbuckle loudly protested that he still had stories to tell as he was ushered out of The Wooden Pegasus. In Fallen, Ina the shifter bestirred herself from the box that was her home and perused the seedy markets of Sharn’s lower wards.
Reina and Lius were winding their way through the tavern district of Hareth’s Folly when Reina spied a familiar figure – a short, sharply dressed halfling with bright blonde hair, staggering from the door of The Wooden Pegasus and yelling, “But I have more stories to tell, good lady!”
“I’ve heard it all,” the buxom innkeep grumbled. “We’re closed.”
Her eyes widening, Reina grabbed a handful of Lius’ burnt orange tunic and dragged him around the corner of a tavern.
“What?” Lius whimpered. “What’s going on? What have you seen?”
Reina hissed for him to be quiet, but Dale had already noticed the commotion, and dashed forward, proclaiming, “You there, sir! Don’t worry! Dale Hornsbuckle is here to save you!”
“Who’s Dale Hornsbuckle?” Lius asked as several people walking the streets stopped and gave their attention to the unfolding spectacle
“Now, listen here, good sir!” Dale continued. “Unhand that decent man!”
Looking from the dead end of the alley to the street where Dale would doubtless be appearing any second and pressed herself against the wall, gesturing for Lius to be quiet.
“What’s going on?” Lius whispered shrilly.
“I know that guy,” Reina replied through gritted teeth.
“Well, why don’t you speak to him?” asked Lius.
“Blaggard!” Dale interrupted, drawing his tiny rapier. “Draw your sword! We will fight!”
“Go fight him,” Reina whispered, pushing her partner out of the alleyway. “Tell him you’re not being mugged.” Lius staggered out into the street and held up his hands, eyes wide.
“I’m… not being mugged?” Lius murmured, perplexed. “I’m really okay. Please… go away?”
“It’s alright, sir,” Dale whispered, leaning forward. “If you’re in trouble, blink twice.”
Lius paused, unsure of how to continue, before blurting out, “I’m fine. Really!”
Shaking her head, Reina pulled up the hood of her coat, and walked out of the alley as inconspicuously as she could manage. Attempting to deepen her voice, she muttered, “I think he went that way.”
Lius watched Reina leave with a look of utter bemusement. Dale watched this closely, and then said, “Alright, good sir. I leave you to your dues.”
The halfling turned away, then spun back on his heel, jabbing at Reina ineffectually with his rapier, then feebly attempted to trip her. “Got a bit of weight on you, sir!” he exclaimed.
“Don’t say that!” Lius squeaked, dashing forward, but it was too late.
Reina furiously drew twin daggers, snarling, “What are you implying?”
“Good Lord,” Dale gasped. “You’re a woman!”
“Yes!” Reina growled, pulling down her hood and then grabbing her breasts. “Do these not give it away?”
“Regina, isn’t it?” Dale asked.
Reina scowled. “That’s right. Darren? Daniel? Someone?”
“Madam,” Dale said, bowing theatrically. “You are speaking to Dale Hornsbuckle, the finest swordsman in all of Khorvaire.”
“If you’re the finest swordsman,” Lius said thoughtfully, looking from Dale to Reina and back, “how come I’ve never heard of you.”
Dale was quiet for a moment, then mumbled, “It’s not this part of Khorvaire.”
“Finest braggart, maybe,” Reina said coolly.
“How do you know?” Lius asked, seeming taken in by Dale’s bravado.
Reina looked down, frowning. “We… did a job together. Once.”
“Is that code for something else?” Lius asked.
“Please,” Reina sighed, shooting him a look. “It went somewhat south when this guy started making all the noise and drawing the attention of everyone on the ship.”
“But you have such amazing skills, good madam!” Dale insisted. “How is anyone going to know about it if nobody is there to tell your tale?”
“That’s kind of the point of being a thief,” Reina shot back. “People don’t know who you are.”
“Do you want to keep your voice down?” Lius hissed, but it seemed that the discussion had drawn the attention of at least one person.
A hooded figure of average size and average build approached to the trio and cleared his throat. Reina quickly hid her daggers, while Dale turned his attention to the newcomer.
“Just a little bit of a street performance, sir!” he announced. “Nothing to worry about.”
“Yes, a fine performance,” the stranger said evenly. “I also couldn’t help but overhear what you were talking about.”
“Well,” Reina muttered, “it’s a good script.”
“I wrote it,” Lius added.
“Excellent,” said the stranger, seeming entirely unimpressed. “How would you like to do some work for me?”
“Well, we’re not exactly in the business of performing at the moment,” Dale said. “But we’ve got plenty of things to be doing.
“I could continue along this metaphorical talk of plays and performances,” the hooded man said, “but I’ll just come out and say it. I need several items stolen and I’m willing to pay you good money for them.”
“Who are you?” Reina demanded.
“I’m… a fixer,” the man said. “It’s what I do. I take commission from people. In this case, they want several items, and I think you’re quite well suited to steal them for me.”
“Maybe,” Reina said cautiously. “What’s in it for us?”
“Fifty gold pieces now,” said the stranger. “Another one hundred and fifty when the job’s completed.” Lius and Reina exchanged a quick glance, while Dale thoughtfully jangled his coin purse.
“What’s the job?” Reina asked.
“Can we do this elsewhere?” Lius interrupted.
“Yes, that’s what I was going to propose,” said the fixer. “If you will meet me in that inn over there at sundown, I will divulge more information.”
“Well,” Reina mused as the three walked down the street. “That was convenient.”
“We should speak to Viv,” Lius said.
Reina nodded. “I don’t believe in coincidences.”
“Neither do I!” Dale piped up. “It sounds like an excellent opportunity to continue the tale of Dale!”
“You work on that,” Reina grumbled. “We need breakfast.”
“As do I, good lady,” Dale concurred. “Care to join me?”
“No,” Reina sighed.
“Yes, okay,” Lius exclaimed.
“Don’t worry,” Dale said, looking over at Reina with a grin. “Seeing as we’re going to be working together, I might as well pay for it.”
“I guess it would be a good idea to get to know each other a bit better,” Reina said. Dale smirked, and led the way, elbowing a stall as he passed and catching an apple.
In the slums of Sharn, Ina was securing her own breakfast. She found the usual spots for leftover food picked clean, but found a busy merchant from whom she could steal a mostly fresh apple.
As she walked away from the stall, cleaning the apple on her vest, she noticed a hooded figure following her. Not looking back, she weaved around the various people filling the marketplace and ducked into a narrow passageway, but found the stranger still close behind her. Stopping by a stack of crates which blocked the exit of the alley, Ina nocked an arrow to her longbow and turned to face her pursuer.
“I mean you no harm,” the figure said, holding up his hands. “I just have a proposition for you. You must be quite desperate, to steal from the merchants here to feed yourself.”
“What you talkin’ about?” Ina snapped.
“How would you like some real gold?” the man asked.
“How you mean?” Ina asked, slowly dropping her bow.
“I have a potential job for you,” said the fixer, lowering his hands. “Some minor larceny.” Ina looked at him blankly. “Theft. I need you to steal something.”
“You could have said that from the start,” Ina grumbled.
“I apologise,” the fixer said.
“How much we talkin’?” Ina asked.
“Fifty gold now,” the fixer explained. “A hundred and fifty gold when the job’s completed. If you want more information, head to The Wooden Pegasus tavern in Hareth’s Folly at sundown.”
Reina and Lius, meanwhile, headed to the bookshop owned by their principle fencer, Vivien Vassilia Varadar, to ask about the fixer. The elderly gnome listened to their description, and then said, “Yes, I’ve heard a few things about him. He takes jobs from clients that don’t want to be known around these parts and hands them down.”
“Reputable?” asked Reina.
“From what I’ve heard,” Viv replied.
“Good for the coin?” added Lius.
“Absolutely,” Viv insisted. “He gets the coin off the top clients, he takes his cut and then finds people that are suitable for the job.”
Reina shrugged. “Can’t say fairer than that.”
Dale returned to The Wooden Pegasus as soon as it opened to spin his tales and fraternise with the ladies, electing to ignore the fixer when he arrived. Ina entered at sixth bell, and spying the hooded figure sitting in a corner, walked over to his table.
“I’m afraid we must wait,” the fixer said as Ina sat down. “There are a few more that will be joining us.”
“I thought it was just me,” Ina said indignantly.
“I’m afraid not,” the fixer replied bluntly. “This job will require a small team of experts.”
“I don’t work well with others,” Ina hissed.
“Well, please try and get along with these people.”
“Are we splittin’ the cash, then?”
“No. The amount that I proposed to you is what you will get. Fifty gold pieces if you agree on the job, and another hundred and fifty once you finish it.”
Reina and a disguised Lius reached The Wooden Pegasus at around fifteen minutes past the hour, and sat down with the fixer and the willowy shifter with the large longbow strapped to her back. Dale hopped off the bar stool upon which he was holding court and joined them.
“I trust your masked accomplice is the same gentleman you were with earlier?” the hooded man asked of Reina.
“Yes,” Reina said, looking at Lius’ disguise of hood and scarf. “Edric.”
“Excellent,” said the fixer. “I’ve approached you all because I think you have the skills necessary for a job that a client of mine wants carrying out. Nothing particularly extraordinary, simple breaking, entering and theft. There are three particular items that in fact need to be stolen.” He chuckled dryly. “I apologise, I’m getting ahead of myself. I should probably tell you the location first.”
“That would help,” Reina said impatiently.
“There is a particular restaurant in the Azure district of Skyway,” the fixer explained. “A bit outside of your usual haunting grounds, but-“
“Just a little bit,” Ina interrupted.
“But I’m sure it’s nothing you can’t handle,” the fixer continued.
“Does it have a name, this restaurant?” asked Reina.
The fixer nodded. “The Edge of the Sky.”
“And what are the items?” Lius asked.
“Three in particular,” said the fixer. “Please don’t ask me for any further details, as I do not have them. The items the client wants stealing are the restaurant’s purchase receipts for the month of Nymm last year, a small statuette proclaiming this restaurant to be ‘the best restaurant,’ and my client has emphasised that the final and most important item is the recipe for their steak sauce, which I believe is kept in a safe in the office.”
“Sounds tasty,” Dale piped up.
“So I’m told,” the fixer said impassively. “I can’t say I’ve ever been there.”
“Funnily enough,” Lius muttered, “me neither. So what do we know about security up there?”
“I’m afraid I know absolutely nothing,” the hooded man replied. “I leave all the details of this job up to you.”
“And I imagine your client will remain anonymous to us?” Reina asked.
“Absolutely,” the fixer said. “As you will remain anonymous to him.”
“Is there a particular timeframe this job needs doing in?” the redhead continued.
“The sooner the better. If you think you need to hold it off for a few days, then by all means do so.”
“Might help to learn a little about the place first. I don’t like to go into a job blind.”
“Absolutely. But please, do not take too much time.”
“Where do the items want to be when we have them?” Lius inquired.
“You may return to me here,” the fixer answered.
When it seemed that no one had any further questions, and the fixer was not forthcoming with any more information, Reina said, “I suppose there’s just the matter of the fifty gold, then.”
“If you will give me your absolute agreement that you’re going to carry out this job,” the fixer said cagily.
“We’ll do it,” Reina said matter-of-factly. Lius nodded.
“You can consider Dale Hornsbuckle to be on this job!” Dale said, more dramatically.
“Excellent,” the hooded man said, dropping a small coin pouch before each person, which quickly disappeared under the table. “If you provide good results, I’m sure there will be more work for you in the future. If you don’t, I can find out where you live or where you stay, and get my money back.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Lius said assertively.
“Excellent,” said the fixer. “Good fortune to you all.”
With that, he stood and left. The group dispersed shortly thereafter, agreeing to meet at the Edge of the Sky at nine the next night.
Reina and Lius chose to hide part of their fifty gold at their apartment, while Dale did the same at his room in a more hospitable inn. Ina, meanwhile, bought food enough for those who dwelled in the poverty of the slums.
The next morning, Reina and Lius headed out to buy Reina an outfit more in fitting with the culture of Skyway, while Dale took a skycab up to the Azure district.
“Do you happen to know any good restaurants up there for planning a celebration?” Dale asked of the husky driver as they ascended the towers of Sharn.
“I’ve heard a few names mentioned,” the cabbie replied. “The Edge of the Sky is meant to be good. But it’s all way, way, way too expensive for me.”
Dale tried to hide his glee. “Maybe I’ll have a look for myself. Do you know whereabouts in the district it is?”
“Yeah,” the cabbie said. “I can drop you off where most of the restaurants are.”
Lius and Reina, wearing a frilly new outfit she was none too happy with, caught a skycab to the Azure district a short time later.
“Anywhere in particular?” the driver queried.
“Just drop us off at a rank up there,” Reina said.
“Just heading up for a look around?” asked the driver. “Watch out for the guards. They’re a lot more keen on cracking down on people than most districts. Quite a lot of hired Deneith security as well.”
“Well, we don’t plan on causing any trouble,” Reina said sharply.
“That’s good,” the cabbie said quickly. “‘Cos, you know, getting thrown out of most districts ain’t like getting thrown out of the Skyway, if you get my drift.”
“A lot further to fall,” Reina said with a small, humourless laugh.
“Yeah,” the cabbie agreed. “Have you got any kind of protection against falling?”
“No,” Lius said, suddenly sounding rather afraid.
“I’m sure that won’t be necessary,” Reina interjected, putting a hand on Lius’ knee. “What do you take us for, ruffians?”
The cabbie laughed. “I’m sure you won’t cause any trouble. And I’m sure when you don’t cause any trouble, I ain’t seen you.”
“I’m sure that’ll work out best for everyone,” Reina said quietly.
Dale searched around the large park which dominated the restaurant district, astonished at the warmth, the luxury and cleanliness of the Skyway. He approached a couple of people to ask about the Edge of the Sky, eventually finding a man willing to offer directions. “It’s just down there, to the left and straight forward. If you fall off the edge of the Skyway, you’ve gone too far.”
The gent let out a nervous little laugh, which Dale returned more boisterously. “Thank you for your time.”
“Good day,” the man said, tipping his hat and walking away.
Reina, meanwhile, stopped a fellow to ask if they could recommend a place to eat for her and her friend.
“I don’t know,” said the man. “That depends if you have a reservation or not. If you want to just walk into a place, I’m sure some of the café in the park will be able to accommodate you.”
“Well,” Reina said awkwardly, “we’re looking for somewhere where the food’s… good. Maybe somewhere that does a good steak sauce.”
“Oh, Reina,” Lius whispered, shaking his head. “Steak. You should have said steak.”
“Well,” the man said haughtily. “Most of the truly excellent restaurants you’ll need a reservation for. But if you’re looking for something in advance, then there’s a couple of good steakeries. The Edge of the Sky has won several prestigious awards, and running up a close second is the Noble Sky Bison.”
“Well, both sound lovely,” Reina said with exaggerated enthusiasm. “Where are they?”
“The restaurant district,” he said, gesturing half-heartedly. “Over there. Now, please excuse me, I have things to be getting on with.”
He hurried off, not looking back to see the obscene gesture Reina directed at him.
Reina and Lius found Dale munching on sated beef and dry bread on a bench in the park, with the restaurant just behind him, suspended over the immense drop at the edge of the Skyway.
“Ah,” the halfling said as he watched them approach. “I see you found it, then.”
“It’s fairly easy to find,” Lius said.
Reina looked down at Dale’s grubby tunic and frowned. “Nice to see you’ve dressed for the occasion.”
“It’s not how you dress,” Dale said, flashing a smile. “It’s how you belong. What have you found out so far, then?”
“Guards,” Reina said, nodding to a pair of armoured men patrolling around the edge of the park. “The restaurant’s there.”
“There’s a chance we might be dealing with Deneith guards,” Lius added quietly.
“Ah, excellent!” Dale said. “Very good sport, they are.”
“Yes, but we want to keep it quiet,” insisted Lius.
“Oh, absolutely!” Dale said.
“You know the meaning of the word?” Reina asked pointedly.
“Believe it or not, yes I do,” replied Dale. “But I’ll be ready when things go wrong.”
“If!” Lius hissed. “If, not when.”
The trio investigated the restaurant as best they could, finding the gate to the walkway locked and the restaurant dark and closed. Dale elected to head back down and see if he could find anything out from Sharn’s more felonious residents, while Reina and Lius explored the Skyway, making hourly trips back to check on the status of the Edge of the Sky.
Ina spent her day practicing archery, then purchased a robe to cover up her torn, dirty rags before heading up to the Skyway.
“Where to?” asked the cabbie.
“Edge of the Sky,” Ina replied nonchalantly.
“Of course,” the driver said. “I can drop you off about five minutes’ walk from it.”
“Sounds fantastic,” Ina sneered.
The driver dropped Ina off and directed her to the restaurant. Ina looked back at the cabbie and tossed gold coin in his direction.
“I wasn’t here,” she said.
The cabbie nervously fumbled the coin into his pocket. “I don’t know where I got this coin from!”
Ina nodded, and the skycab flew off. The shifter walked briskly to the Edge of the Sky, reaching the restaurant almost at the same time as Dale. Reina and Lius were already there, watching with some apprehension as the lights inside the restaurant went on, and people began to queue to enter.