Really old person, so old you can’t tell his race. Has cracked glasses and a wheelchair. He seems to be crippled from the waist down.

Conversation 1: October 1st 2016
Me: “Good afternoon”
Ven: “Aye…. ahoy there. I was told to… help you fill out this paper.”
Salisbury: “Want me to make sure this conversation is private?”
Me: “I’d appreciate that”
DM: Venyard flicks something out of his stack of papers, then Salisbury exits and closes the door.
Me: “What was that?”
Ven: “Bugs sometimes get into the old wood work…”
Me: “Okay. Well. I was hoping we could get to talk Venyard. New recruit to new recruit”
Ven: “Sure… you ask a question and I’ll ask one. First person to get caught in a lie owes the other a beer.” He offers his hand to shake
Me: “hahaha I like it” I shake his hand. “I’ll start off with an easy one. How the hell did you get up that ladder”
Ven: “Eh. I was pulled out by some dwarves. They heard me yelling. Alright… so it says here you have to be committed to justice. What is the least just action you’ve done this past month, Pearce? Most of these questions are useless. Asking if you stand by honor, etc. People who both do and don’t answer the same way. Rubbish questions.”
Me: “I killed a person for money. She had a bounty on her head. Doesn’t make it just though”
Ven: “Wowzer. I’ll leave that off the sheet.No judgement here, man. Who hasn’t killed someone for some dumb reason?” He nods to you. “Your turn. I know what you want to know about, so just ask it.”
Me: “Why can you cast healing magic?”
Ven: “My mother taught me. Before the pierced the veil, so the speak.”
Me: “I don’t quite understand the expression”
Ven: “Died. What are you willing to die defending? Top choice. What would you be proud to die for?”
Me: “My friends”
Ven: “Nah. You tell me you’d die for…. what have it, that pretentious looking guy you were allied with? It’s not just your friends, is it?”
Me: “Allies are not necessarily friends”
Ven: “Fair. Your turn.”
Me: “Where does your magic come from?”
Ven: “Can’t answer that beyond conjecture. You want my guesses?”
Me: “I do”
Ven: “I don’t think all the gods are as dead as they say. I think they left for other reasons. My mother always said we could do it because of a deal my great grandmother made back before the gods disappeared. But I don’t buy that. I think they are hiding from us, and exceptional people can find them. Can you perform magic?”
Me: “Not like you”
Ven: “Your turn.”
Me: “Why now? You seem like you’ve been around a while. Why did you get rushed through to go on the Patricia mission”
Ven: “Dunno. I was approached. This guy walked me through what Patricia did. I realized I needed to act. Don’t care about this group anymore than the other district leadership, but anything is better than what was happen if the city turned on itself again. What kind of magic do you do?”
Me: “The Arcane kind. Do you know of anyone else who can cast divine magic?”
Ven: “Paperwork is all done. Go ahead and read it over.” He passes you the papers. "Yeah, I knew one guy. Dead now though, or so I hear. He was a homeless guy back in the docks. Obsessed with trees and baked goods. Sometimes the strangest people have the most remarkable lives. “Lost touch with him after the invasion. Hard times. Alright, one more question from me. Do you have a relationship with a god?” He looks at you flatly.
Me: “What? No”
Ven: "Huh. Well, you owe me a beer. Alright, all done here. " He seems to be smiling a little bit. “Good meeting you, Pearce.”
Me: “Good to meet you too Venyard”

Conversation 2: 10/5/16
Venyard: Bell has her weapon poised to destroy his throat. He is quietly talking. “Now now crazy lady… I made it better, not worse…. put down the…. stick sword.”
Bell: Bell makes a furious noise. With her mouth.
Venyard: “Fixed her mouth and this is happening?” He says meekly to you, holding his elderly hands up to Bell Toll in a clearly ineffective blocking position.
Me: “Belltoll calm down!” I get in between
Bell: She signs “he broke my vow. Let me do what is honorable.”
Venyard: “I thought she wanted it back… who wants to have a mutilated tongue?”
Me: “Ok. I get that your upset but just take a second to breathe. It was an accident”
Bell: Her breathing slows. She relaxed her posture. She signs, “I could have ended you. You owe him your life, pitiful man.” Venyard understood none of it.
Me: “Venyard. Can you just do me a favor and not agitate another person so I can get you out of this? Okay. We’ve all taken a deep breath”
Bell: She is observing him. She signs after a few moments, “I wouldn’t have done it. He is too old to be an honorable battle. He is ignorant and small.”
Me: I sign “I didn’t know you had a complex code Bell toll. I apologize. I thought you were just forced to fight”
Bell: “Both are true. I forgive you. I can kill for any aggression, but he made an error. I do not forgive him, but I choose to not punish him. He would die.”
Me: “Thank you Belltoll. Venyard could you please say you’re sorry to the angry orc who let you into her home?”
Venyard: “From the bottom of my heart, I wouldn’t have healed you if I knew it would have upset a woman as beautiful as yourself. I’m sorry.” She returns to her seat, staring at Venyard. He looks bewildered. “She has done this since you left…” he says to you. “just… staring.”
Me: “Yeah well she’s supposed to make sure you don’t escape. She’s really good at her job. Look if you don’t piss her off you get food and a spare bed. Better than a jail cell. We’re even for the ‘drink’ by the way”
Venyard: “Understood… yeah, I think I owe you one at this point.”

DM: Pearce and Bell eventually leave. Pearce comes back later with Sam
Me: “Just wanted to make sure our guest didn’t run away. Ok. I’ll admit I was also hoping you could heal me Venyard. I’m still kinda hurting from the Patricia fight”
Venyard: “Permission to help my captor, orc lady?” He asks and then begins casting. “I… is there… sir, you require an exorcism.”
Me: “What makes you think that? Although now that I think about it, can you cure diseases?”
Venyard: “You have a bad vibe, an unhealthy vibe. Something is in you that wants to do bad things. If you let me, I can tell you more. Oh certainly, but that will cost you. And no, my life is not the price I am setting.”
Me: “I’m fine but Bell has a disease. I’m willing to pay to cure it”
Venyard: “You kill me and you kill the only person who can retrieve your soul. But I won’t work for free.” He says.
Me: “I didn’t say you should. Look I’m willing to pay to cure her”
Venyard: "I don’t need money. " He says. “Money is useless in a city of thieves.”
Me: “Sigh. What is it gonna take to cure her?”
Venyard: “Let’s start by dismissing the orc for a while.” He says. “Until our conversation ends.”
Me: “Belltoll can you leave us? Apparently he wants privacy”
Venyard: He repositions himself on the couch. “You are hiding so much. From yourself and from others. Who is that other who dwells in you? I couldn’t target you easily, and that only happens… during possession. Devil, do you speak?” He asks suddenly.
Me: “I have no idea what you’re saying but I think you’ve gone mad”
Venyard: “You owe me a beer. Your turn.”
Me: “Tell me if you can cure Bell. That is all we’re discussing”
Venyard: “I can.” He responds. “But I won’t do it.”
Me: “Why? She wasn’t going to harm you, you should’ve sensed that”
Venyard: “Because you will end up threatening me if I say no, and I want you to be aware of that.” He says again.
Me: “There are other cures. You are not the exclusive healer in this city. If you will not cure her then our discussion is over. I think we both should just forget this happened”
Venyard: “If I cure her, will this discussion continue?”
Me: “There is nothing more to discuss. Good day Venyard”
Venyard: He says, quietly. “Devils don’t always know, Pearce. Good luck.”
He leans back and relaxes s bit. “Get me two bottles of fine bourbon and I’ll cure her.”
Me: “It’ll be done” Pearce says and slams the door and goes upstairs.

Conversation 3: 10/13/16
Me: “Good evening Venyard. I apologize for my abrupt exit yesterday”
DM: He gestures me to sit and you do.
Venyard: “No hard feelings.” He says. He pours you a small amount of alcohol from a flask. “Used to brew the stuff back before the Docks crisis. Barrel aged. Back then it was easier to get the quality ingredients… probably can’t make small businesses work with the demon crisis.”
Me: “They make a lot of trouble for a lot of people”
Venyard: “Yeah. But they can’t be helped. Thank you for visiting, the Orcess isn’t much for conversation.”
Me: “She’s more talkative if you speak language” I say and make a few signs
Venyard: He shrugs. "Back in my day they taught that to thieves only. "
Me: “I wouldn’t mention that to her. Word of advice”
Venyard: “What brings you down to visit?”
Me: “It’s about what we described yesterday. You said that I was possessed by a devil. I want to know what a devil is”
Venyard: “An entity of great evil. They are like…. eh… take the average person and strip away all subtext, you still have an entity that needs friends, food, and a few other F’s. That is what makes us so boring. We are animals.”
Me: “So what? They lack emotions?”
Venyard: "Imagine if all we were were our other stuff. The personality and all that, but not constrained by meat. Now give those entities enough power to kill a small army. No real concept of what our bodies are like in function, but maybe a vague sense of connection between our higher selves and themselves. "
Me: “What you’ve described isn’t evil. You’ve just described something that is foreign”
Venyard: “The evil is what they do. Whatever they try, to us, is evil in the end. They save a puppy, long term that hurts us.”
Me: “So what separates a devil from a deity that your family made deals with”
Venyard: "The biggest difference is devils still exist. "
Me: “And do you think devils do this on purpose? Or do they just naturally pick the worst outcome?”
Venyard: “That question is like asking a dog why his master falls in love. I can give you an answer, but it would be a guess and probably wrong.”
Me: “You don’t know how devils work but you believe that they choose the worst outcome?”
Venyard: Venyard shrugs and says, “All I have are my answers.”
Me: “Don’t suppose you’d be willing to share those source huh?”
Venyard: “I could say it was my dear grandmother, but it hits a little closer than that. Grammy taught me about this stuff, but I didn’t believe it. Until I saw one for the first time. But that isn’t a story I go into with kidnappers.”
Me: “So how do you differentiate a devil from a deity? You told me you think they’re still hiding. Possession alone?”
Venyard: “I have told you all I’m going to until you give me some proof your friends and you won’t just kill me or hurt me.”
Me: “Fair enough. I’ll be honest with you. I couldn’t kill you now if I wanted to”
Venyard: “Why is that?”
Me: “Your double got to Salisbury and asked him about … events. If you showed up dead on my watch I’d basically be throwing myself into prison. Although if I didn’t harm you last night I’m hoping you believe me when I say I wouldn’t have anyway. I can’t tell you what will happen to you, it’s not my call but I can give you my guess”
Venyard: “What’s your guess?”
Me: “My boss, the guy you gave coffee beans, portly guy, will have you thrown into jail. You will stay there for probably less than a day before he comes to you with an offer. Sell out what you’ve learned about me and he’ll either give you something or punish you if you don’t cooperate. Not sure which. I would really really not like that too happen but I don’t know if I can convince you to keep quiet. But I wanted to try. I don’t know if I can keep you out of ‘confinement’. You’ve admitted to crimes and stated you will do more. I think I can propose to some higher ups to keep you under house arrest though if you agree to help them. You’re talents are rare. We both know it’s valuable”
Venyard: “What do you think I should keep quiet about?”
Me: “Anything involving me. Or Salisbury. Come on Venyard. You know what I want kept quiet. I need time to disprove your theory”
Venyard: “How much longer am I going to be kept captive?”
Me: “Here?”
Venyard: “Yes, here.”
Me: “Honestly i don’t know. I can vouch for you but I’m not the one that makes that decision.Probably a day or two. Does that count as enough info to get you to tell me where you contacted a ‘devil’?”
Venyard: “It was out at sea. I was on a deep sea fishing vessel, lot of strange things you find in those nets we throw behind us. Strange creatures. Strange objects. Well, we pulled something in … looked like a corpse, but wasn’t waterlogged or bloated. Just… a naked body.
We were pretty out of our minds on drugs, so we just accepted this thing onto the boat, no question. Well, a few hours later it was telling us its name, walking like it’d been awake and alive the whole time. Things started going wrong, though. A few days later, three of my friends and the body were missing, and we almost lost our lives to a shipboard fire that had no apparent source. The key to knowing it was a devil? It hurt everyone. And cost me my legs. All because we tried to save it. I doubt it knew what it were, but it behaved like a devil, and had the mark.”
Me: “The mark?”
Venyard: “All devils only know people from seeing people. This lady had no… you know, ladyparts. Or nips. It was just… flat skin. Like a child guessin’ at what a lady has. Devils can’t reproduce like animals. They only reproduce through the minds of men.”
Me: “What was it’s name?”
Venyard: “Weirdest thing, I have a pretty good memory, but i don’t remember.”
Me: “That doesn’t seem like conclusive evidence Venyard. You had one bad experience with something supernatural. That isn’t enough to convince me who I’m working with is some mystical devil”
Venyard: “Then don’t be convinced. I wasn’t certain it was, but you kept pushing the point.”
Me: “You seemed pretty convinced last night you were facing a devil”
Venyard: “There are things I can’t prove to you because you don’t have the insight of this sort of magic.”
Me: Pearce laughs “Were you certain because you sensed evil?”
Venyard: “No. You can’t sense evil. Evil isn’t a… force. What I did sense was someone willing to do so much for someone, or something, that wasn’t naturally part of him. I know you have something unnatural in you. If you permit me, I will cast a spell to try and… sense you.” He pauses. “If you make sure I can leave the district before the Weather tries to throw me in prison.” He adds. “You want an answer so badly, you help me with something I need badly.”
Me: “Go for it. I can tell you the answer. I know what’s off about me”
Venyard: “What is that?” He asks
Me: “I can’t tell you if you’re gonna go off and tell my story”
Venyard: “I don’t tell everyone everything. I just don’t bother lying over little things.”
Me: “And is my condition a little thing to you Venyard? If they smack you is it going to become a little thing?”
Venyard: He stops talking. “I don’t feel comfortable sharing more with you.”
Me: “I understand. I’ll do what I can to help you, unless you would rather I didn’t considering my company. It might end up hurting everyone if you’re right. Maybe you’re supposed to rot in a prison cell”
Venyard: "Oh, I doubt I’ll make it out of this year alive. Either way. And I don’t blame you for it. " he says quietly.
Me: “Sigh. I’m sorry. I got emotional again. I know I’m gambling big here Venyard. But I think the apocalypse is coming and I think we need to gamble to make it out alive. Even if we disagree I think you’re a good person Venyard. I’ll do what I can to save you and this city”
Venyard: He shrugs. “You save the city now, with her, and you might find it wasn’t worth saving. But who can say.”
Me: “Goodnight Venyard. I hope for both our sakes your wrong”

Conversation 4: 2/28/17
Me: “Venyard. Why are you here?”
Ven: “He beat me up and kidnapped me. That is why I am here.” Venyard does not seem confident about his answer.
Me: “Was the tower already destroyed when he brought you here?”
Ven: “I don’t know. I was unconscious for a while… I heard an explosion at some point, but the bag was on my head.”
Me: “So how long have you been down here? Hours? Days?”
Ven: “Probably a day…. maybe a little more.”
Me: “Did Harrison discuss anything with you?”
Ven: Venyard pauses. You can tell he is not comfortable with that question.
“Look. I have nothing to protect myself with here, I used the last of my casting to heal you guys… I need to know what I say here won’t get added into the wrong reports, if you get what I’m saying. It isn’t about protecting me…”
Me: “I’m okay with excluding you from reports if you give us info. We’re after Harrison. That okay with you guys?”
DM: The others nod.
Ven: “Alright… so he kept asking about my heritage… what my lineage is. He wanted to know which devil bore me.” Venyard seems super humiliated.
Me: “Why was he interested in your heritage?”
Ven: “He wanted to make contact with my dad. And he used me to do that. He needed a witness with burning blood… there aren’t many left in the city.”
Me: “Wait. Is your dad a devil?”
Ven: “Yes. There are cults… secret cults, or there were before the demon invasion – they had the ability to communicate with devils. Some made deals with those devils… and to consummate the deals, people like me were made. I got out. Most didn’t.”
Me: “Why did he need someone of your… persuasion? What exactly did he do?”
Ven: “We were born into the world to be a connection between this plane and the infernal plane – a way to have regular communication with the devil of choice. But this was more than communication. I recognized that he made a binding deal here, and my gut said it was the big one. The end of the road type of one, the goal of the devil cults – effective immortality. But I can’t be sure. I escaped early on in my life, and I tried to put that knowledge behind me.” he sputters. He seems miserable.
Bro: “Which devil is your father?”
Ven: “T’zalin. His cult has been dead for fifty years… I swear I didn’t know this secret was still around! I didn’t know…”
Me: “So what happened to your clothes?”
Ven: He shrugs. "This ritual I’ve never been a part of before. I guess it was some kind of reaction of my… not-average parentage. " He looks over at the dead body of Dogan and the FoM. He quickly looks down. “I can’t believe this happened.”
Me: “Do you know why he needed Lucky Dogan and that Fom? Did you overhear him say anything to them?”
Ven: “Yeah. I heard some taunting… that one, Harrison, kept saying something to one of them.. said ‘Your daddy is going to die today.’ Don’t know which one he was talking to. So… am I going to be let go, or do you folks plan on seeing me die in custody? I did everything I could to help stop this. If you decide I need to die here, I want that at least noted.”
Me: “I think the city has bigger issues than a tiefling. Do you uhh. want us to help with the … ya know” i point at his tail
Ven: “No. I tried cutting it off about halfway through my life… hoping it’d let me live normally. It paralyzed my legs. Can one of you carry me to the surface?”
Bro: “When we leave here, we’ll carry you and your chair to the surface. What else can you tell us about what Harrison was doing? And where could we find more information on these cults?”
Ven: “I can tell you that Harrison had, based on my count, more wealth in that ritual room than I’ve ever seen in one place. I’d estimate.. oh..over a hundred thousand gold in components. This had to be the big one. I heard him talking to those rats, but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. He kept asking questions about that machine in the corner, but I don’t think the rats were answering…” Venyard gestures for you to lean in close.
“Thats a lie. The rats told him a lot. I don’t want the rats killing me after this, so don’t involve me in that interrogation, please. If you want to know more about cults, you are out of luck – I think most of the survivors were moved to the refuge camps, and who knows how picked clean those camps have been.”
DM: Venyard reaches into his pack.
Ven: “These are pretty stale, but I’d say I owe you for our previous… misunderstanding.” he feigns
Conversation 5: – 10/5/2017Log
Ven: “…. tell him I’m not in.”
Me: “Venyard please. I apologize for anything I might have done in the past”
Ven: Venyard pauses and then turns. “Lets walk, son.”
Me: Pearce bows and follows.
Ven: He gestures for Jacket to pull away. “Give us a moment.”
DM: Jacket, not sure what to do, looks at you?
Me: “Just wait here a little while”
DM: Jacket walks to the side. The old people all want to touch his sleeves. “You know you are the first of you people I’ve ever met… you know…” one of them says. “Not that I’m against you, but… you know.” They continue to rattle on as you leave.
Ven: “Alright. So, before you tell me what this change of heart is getting you in return – what, specifically, are you sorry for?” He says, in a pretty serious voice. “Specifically.”
Me: Pearce shuffles “I’m sorry for treating your warnings as anything but an attempt at helping. About her. About the lies I had to spread in order to cover my own ass when you escaped”
Ven: He nods. “Okay. We aren’t friends, but we aren’t enemies either. Going forward. We are starting fresh, starting with this favor. That is how apologies and forgiveness works, kid. Do you accept? And I’ll ask a favor of you. And we’ll negotiate from there.”
Me: “I accept. What is your favor?”
Ven:“Yours first. Mine is easy to explain. I doubt yours will be.”
Me: “I … I need to go to the Shadow realm, and I need to get back”
Ven: "That isn’t easy, but I get why you came here. Yeah. Fine. We can do that. But in exchange, every week, once a week, for at least four hours, you come to this building and you entertain these terrible old people. And you do chores around there. You help this community. Until you die. You don’t have to pay a cent, they are… you don’t have to pay money, but these people have no family, nobody helps them with anything. Their “Guard” is a half-starved dog Maggy keeps in her room. I won’t live forever. You have another 10 years at least. Those are my terms. That sound fair to you?"
Me: “Until I die.” Pearce bows
Ven: “Alright. I won’t bow, because its hard to move like that. So, back in the day we needed to soul of an innocent. And we are still in that day.” He says, looking at you carefully. “So… soul of an innocent. I can’t acquire that. Well, I can, but you have to find me an innocent.”
Me: “Unfortunately that can be obtained. Do we need one for the return trip as well?”
Ven: “No. Its a two-step process. Living things that pass through return back, sort of like a band of elastic – we use the soul to push the band, which builds up a tension we have to actively resist. Getting back is easy. Its getting there that is hard. Its the same with them, coming to us. Its why they don’t just live here all the time. If you were curious….” he says.
Me: “The soul is at my residence. Where should I bring it”
Ven: “How soon do you need this to happen?”
Me: “Now”
Ven: “Bring it here, but you also bring someone to clean up afterwards – I am not leaving this for Maggy.”


Gallowsbird (2016) Random11 Random11