Thrash kicks open the front door of the inn, with Pascal slung over his shoulder. He sees Lok standing by a horse. Lok has taken his travelling alchemist kit out and is feverishly working on mixing various reagents in hopes of effecting an anti-toxin. Thrash drops Pascal who has fallen unconscious at Lok’s feet. Lok looks up. “Hopefully we are not already too late.” With that he plunges a syringe into Pascal’s neck and injects the anti-toxin.
Several moments pass and there is no reaction or change in Pascal’s condition. Lok checks for a pulse but he detects none. But then Pascal jumps up syringe still sticking from his neck, running and cursing. He yells “Get this thing out of my neck!”, and then yanks the syringe out. Lok runs over to examine him and Pascal’s vitals appear to have returned. He then pushes Lok out of the way and runs back inside yelling, “My hand! I had a full house! I have to get back to the tournament!” As Pascal makes his way back inside, another one of the tournament players stops him in the hall. Pascal recognizes him as the Cygnaran who entered the tournament.
“I am glad to see that you are okay. You did not look well when your troll grabbed you and ran off. Unfortunately, Marx declared you a forfeit for leaving mid game with no explanation. Said you must not have been able to handle the pressure. Everyone got a good laugh out of it. Look, I know you aren’t some travelling merchant. Anybody with a single good eye can see you are a privateer at best. But I believe we have a shared goal. I was sent here by the Cygnaran government to beat Marx. It is in the national interest of Cygnar that Marx not be able to make good his loan to the Kayazy families. You have him worried for some reason and that means you have a chance to win this. With both you and I in the game it is far more likely that we win out than Marx. I am prepared to stake you back into the game. However, if you win, Cygnar has first dibs on Marx and of course we get paid back our stake in full. Do you accept?”
“Don’t have much choice, do I? Let’s get back in there!” Pascal’s pride was wounded more than his gut, though a sharp pain in his side still turned his purposeful stride into a clumsy stumble back towards the room. Sure, this was probably going to cause Vesper’s heart to give out, but Pascal wasn’t interested in leaving Khador with 15,000 crowns of debt. He was sure the more politically savvy could deal with the aftermath of who handled Marx once this was all over, but his new goal was to embarrass the scoundrel. Pascal had no problem with cheating; but Marx had gotten caught, and he just wouldn’t stand for that.
Pascal makes his way back to the tournament room. Upon his arrival, Marx stands up and says “Ah it looks like your nerves got the better of you but it is good to see you at least managed to keep your whiskey down. Sadly, we had no choice to take your sudden absence as a forfeiture. As such you have been eliminated from the tournament.” He wears a smirk across his face, looking quite pleased with himself. But just as soon as he finishes the Cygnaran stands up and replies, “Although Pascal has forfeited his stake, I have agreed to stake him from my winnings. I have much to good a time with him present at the table to see him go just yet.” Several gasps of astonishment come from the crowd followed by applause and cheers.
Marx looks highly displeased and his countenance quickly draws silence from the spectators. “Evidently our crowd is enjoying the show and who am I to deprive them of a good time. Let’s continue gentlemen before this turns into anymore of a farce than it has already become.” The next hand is dealt. It is down to Pascal, Marx and the Cygnaran…
After several more deals Marx has won several hands mostly at the expense of the Cygnaran. Pascal has managed to hold his own and has increased his position to 50,000 GC’s. Marx knocks the Cygnaran out of the tournament shortly thereafter putting him at a whopping 100,000 GC’s. Several more hands transpire with neither player gaining an advantage on the other. Then Pascal finds himself holding a pair of Jacks with the current bid at 25,000. Marx raises to 50,000…
Pascal calmly calls Marx’s bid and pushes his chips into the middle of the table. Marx stares into Pascal’s eyes. “You know, you are not very good at bluffing. I picked up on your tell after just a few hands. Unfortunately for you bluffing won’t save you in this game.” Marx then displays his hand which contains a pair of kings which along with another king and a pair of JACKS in the flop lands him with a full house. Kings over Jacks. He is beaming with satisfaction. Then Pascal turns up his pair of Jacks which along with the pair in the flop win the hand. Marx’ smile disappears. He prepares to say something when a man who is standing behind Marx reveals a small hidden blade and slits Marx’ throat. The man then just walks away. No one does anything to stop him.
Marx’ former entourage starts eyeing the money on the table. It isn’t long before they each greedily start grabbing at Marx’ remaining stake of 50,000 GC which is closest to them. The ones too far away to get at that start eyeing the 100,000 GC sitting in front of Pascal…
Bodger Calmly jumps on the table places one of his pistols on the forehead of the closest money grabber and shoots his other pistol into the ceiling. “No honor among thieves.” He says. “It looks like Marx is out and our player won so get your hands off our money!” And he lowers his pistol he just fired at another money grabber.
At Bodger’s threat the two closest thugs hesitate for a second but then go right back to grabbing at the stacks of crowns. Then Wulfe unslings his rifle, points it towards the group of thugs and shouts at the top of his lungs. Everyone stops what they are doing and looks his way. A few of the thugs take off with the few coins they have managed to grab and make a run for the exit intimidated by the barrel brandished and pointed their way. However, far more reach for their own firearms and start shooting. One of the thugs tips the table up to provide some cover and knocks the remaining gold crowns including all the ones sitting in front of Pascal to the ground. Bodger goes tumbling after. Gold crowns scatter across the floor. Now the other spectators join in the fray as they go after the new windfall rolling in their direction and further chaos ensues as point blank gun fire occurs in every direction.
Bodger gets back to his feet and squeezes off a shot at the nearest person shooting him in the head. He immediately falls to the ground and drops the GC he was scrambling to recover. Several of the remaining thugs turn their guns Bodgers way firing in rapid succession. Bodger’s incredible reflexes and small stature allow him to avoid most of the barrage and scoop up several handfuls of gold crowns scattered about. Unfortunately, Vesper Rand is not so agile and several of the stray shots find their mark in her as she also desperately scrambles to try and recover her families gold crowns. She falls to the floor riddled with several bullets. Lok ignoring the irrational scramble for filthy lucre runs to her aid and pulls her from the room in hopes of stabilizing her injuries. Meanwhile Thrash is scooping even more handfuls of crowns, managing to avoid being shot and shrugging off the shots that do hit him as mere flesh wounds. Lastly he scoops up Pascal and dashes out of the room. As with Vesper not all the bystanders and spectators are so lucky.
A young man standing near the Cygnaran gentleman who staked Pascal in the tournament is struck by another stray bullet from across the room. The Cygnaran looks across the room and sees Wulfe standing with his rifle drawn and pointed in his general vicinity. Although the shot was not fired by Wulfe it is clear by the Cygnaran’s expression that he thinks it was. He raises a pointed finger towards Wulfe from across the room and shouts “You did this! I won’t forget it. You will be a hunted man until my blade finds itself across your throat!” He the gathers the wounded young man and drags him out of the room. Wulfe makes a quick exit before he can be blamed for any further deaths. Out of the corner of his eye he catches a glimpse of Gayle diving behind the bar.
Gayle lands behind the bar and then peeks out from the cover. She spies several piles of gold crowns nearby and begins to concentrate. She weaves her will to gather the gold crowns using telekinesis. She catches movement in her peripherals though. The bartender she berated earlier is still behind the bar and has drawn a scatter gun. He takes a shot but his aim is thrown when a chair comes crashing over the bar. Still many small BB’s embed in Gayle stinging sharply and drawing blood. She pockets the crowns she has levitated over and then makes a dash for the door before the bartender can fire another shot.
In the hall, the party converges on where Lok sits over the body of Vesper Rand. She is not moving and it is clear she has succumbed to her wounds. Lok in an uncharacteristic display of emotion, aside from his sarcastic quips, appears enraged. “Fools! Irrational fools! Drawing and firing guns in a crowded room! Have you no respect for the sanctity of life! Are you no better than brutes, capable of nothing more than murder and assassination! Aside from the deaths caused by your actions, what do you think will happen once the Cygnarans figure out that Llaellese operatives are responsible for the death of one of their own. Do you think it matters whether we fired the shot ourselves? What of our relationship with the resistance once we return with Vespers dead body and a measly $12,000 GC’s to show for it?”
Wulfe speaks up, “But I didn’t even shoot. I didn’t even chase after the gold crowns. Am I not innocent in all this. I simply backed up Bodger.”
Lok regains his composure and more typical stoic demeanor. “Wulfe, firstly it is commendable that you did not discharge your firearm and also that you did not let greed consume you. But the actions of those in your company reflect upon you as much as they. Our companion drew and fired in a situation that logically would result in the likely death or injury of many. Whether or not we actually took a life is irrelevant in determining our culpability and role in the aftermath of what followed. By example, we would be no less culpable than if we were to walk into a crowded tavern and shout fire and in the mad rush to exit several patrons died by trampling. And although your support and aid to Bodger is certainly commendable in a fraternal sense, it only acted to exacerbate an already volatile situation.”
Lok turns to Bodger and continues, “Bodger made an excellent case for drawing in the first place. His premises were that the remainder of Marx’ gambling winnings were Pascal’s by right of forfeiture. A logical conclusion to draw. But the further implied premise is that Bodger believed himself in a position of right to defend those forfeited winnings with threat of violent force. Rarely can one claim right to self-defense when they are first to draw though. But granting even that premise, self defense does not give right to cause injury or harm to just anybody in your immediate vicinity. The amount of force must be measured in such a way that the person claiming said defense does not put bystanders in harms way. The sheer potential for collateral damage in this case overrides the use of violent force in self-defense.”
He cocks an eyebrow, then carries Vesper’s body out to his horse and rides out of Rorschik as quick as he can. He gestures for the rest to follow which considering the shouts from back in the tournament room, is probably a good idea.
Wulfe regrets the loss of life. But his actions were justified. Lok’s logic is flawed but only because he doesn’t know all the facts and variables that are in play. However, now is not the time to reveal such things. In time, all will be known. He joins his comrades on horseback and rides out of Rorshik.