CorsoPart 1 – Written by Jeremy Tully
Corso’s index fingers twitched, ready to fire the pair of guns currently trained at the back of a guard’s head. “I hate this part,” he thought to himself. With every muscle in his body tensed Corso stood in a shrouded corner, back pressed against a wall.. waiting for a city guard to move on to another part of his patrol. As moments pass the tension only mounts, adding further worry to the already existent storm of shouts running rampant through the back of his brain.
“Why the heck isn’t he moving on? He’s going to end up being overdue for his next checkpoint.. which means trouble.” Every variable Corso went over in his mind just churned further worry. “I swear, this is the last ‘easy contract’ that I take from those goblin pests.”
After what seemed like a swirling eternity the guard swiveled on his heels and started to march, continuing on with his patrol route. Corso breathed a sigh of relief as a few shreds of stress flaked off the mountain of pressure still bearing down upon him. A few steps across the parapet has Corso standing just outside a thick framed window, the only barrier standing between him and his goal. He could hear the clicking crunch of guard boots on the stone walkway as they got farther and farther away. Another survey of his surroundings confirmed it: the coast was clear.
With a snap of his fingers, Corso had a bony impish creature standing before him, wrapping itself in leathery wings.
“Your command, master?” the creature quietly muttered. “Scratch, always glad to see you,” responded Corso. “I need you to cover my back, as you always so expertly do. I trust your keen eyes do not mind keeping watch for me?”
“Never a bother, master. I am here to do your bidding.” Scratch stirred with eagerness as he whispered, almost brimming with eagerness. Corso stops to ponder how, despite more than three years of training and field experience with the Arcanist Arts, he still gets slightly disconcerted by an imp’s willingness to please a master.
“Keep an eye peeled then please. A quick double tap on the window will be more than enough to signal me if you see anything.. then make yourself scarce. You aren’t here to fight, not this evening.” With a quick wave of his hands the lock for the window quietly clicks open, allowing the window to be silently opened. Bending over and side-stepping through, a dark room awaits him. Reaching his left hand into a jacket pocket, Corso produces a slender pair of wire-rimmed glasses that he unfolds and puts on. Immediately the darkness of the room is washed away, leaving the brilliant colors and textures of a government office to surround him.
“By the gods..”, Corso whispered in quiet amazement. “I need to remember to thank Reimana for making these spectacles. I suspect these will be getting a lot of use.”
The room he is standing in is the mid-sized office of a corrupt city official. Elaborate furniture and imported decor appointed every available corner and surface of the room. The west wall was composed entirely of bookshelves crammed full of sleek leather bound tomes originating from all corners of the map. Any free inch of space not filled by a book instead was occupied by small ceramic knickknacks from points unknown. The walls were just as ostentatious, holding everything from paintings to decorative tribal masks. But Corso wasn’t here for the decor. He had been hired to retrieve a particular log book being kept by this slime of an overseer to track the payoffs he was receiving and distributing out through is rank of corrupt city guards. A list of names that would be transformed into a hit list by Corso’s employers.
Footstep after silent footstep carried Corso across the center of the room and upto the vast carved oak desk that sat squat against the middle of the north wall. Getting close to the desk, he slides the wire-rim glasses down to the end of his nose, and concentrates. As his physical eyes begin to close, his astral eyes slowly open. The world around him transforms from the substantial and mundane to the ethereal and transitory… the astral plane. Every real item in the room had a ghostly equivalent on the astral, appearing dull and lifeless in comparison to anything brilliantly glowing with the vibrant energies of life and magic.
“Hmm, interesting” Corso noted as he surveyed the room. A few of the trinkets on the bookshelves had a vibrant glow of magic to them, not so subtle sparkles and swirls that denoted their being imbued with active magic. “All well and good, but I’m not here for dust collectors. I need to find where he’s hiding that book or the twins will have my neck.”
A glance back to the squat oak desk makes a glowing sliver of shimmering energy the focus of his attention. The glowing sliver was emanating from beneath the bottom left drawer on the desk. Corso pulls the bottom drawer out completely and flips it over. There it was, a nice little hole in reality.. hidden on the bottom side of a drawer. Peering in through the opening, Corso could see a dimly lit pocket of existence… with a book floating within! Another astral peek reveals a spell bound across the opening.
“Alarm. Damn! I remove the book from the pocket dimension, an alarm goes off. If I just take the giant heavy drawer with me it still goes off.”
A voice whispered in the back of Corso’s mind: “Master, a guard is due back around on his patrol in a matter of minutes.”
“Understood Scratch. Things are about to get crazy so be ready for anything,” Corso communicated back to his imp minion.
Breathing deep, Corso readied himself. With lightning reflexes he darted his left hand into the dimensional opening, pulled the desired book out and immediately sunk it into a deep pocket inside is jacket. No sooner had he drop the heavy oak drawer then all of the lamps within the room light up. The wooden drawer hits the floor with a solid thud just as the sound of footsteps and shouts come from just beyond the door on the east wall of the room. As he began to move across the room, picking up speed as he headed for the open window, Corso drew both of his black powder pistols.
Three quick blasts of light and smoke fill the room, each bringing an angry orc guard in tow. With two guards flanking him and one now directly in front of him (blocking his open window exit), some quick thinking would need to be done. Thankfully a little advanced planning was done, putting more than a few tricks up Corso’s leather jacket sleeves. He swivelled both of his guns, bringing them to bear on the guard directly blocking his escape path. A quick pop from each gun is immediately followed by a deafening blast, the sound of two Thunderclap bullets striking their target squarely in the chest.
The resulting thunderous explosion blows all of the office’s windows out, shooting the target guard out of the opening behind him like a gopher being fired from a catapult. Corso continued his charge diving head first out the window, into the waiting embrace of a twenty story fall into the shadowy depths of the city below. Corso spun his body around in mid-fall to look back behind him, seeing the menacing visage of the orc Tragonus leaning out of a devastated office window.
“I will get you, human!” screamed Tragonus. “If it’s the last thing I do in this life, I will pick my teeth with your BROKEN BONES!”
“Scratch, I need you!”