The festivities of the Gondola Games had come to a close hours ago but Lady Valapart, Artair and his friends continued to enjoy each other's company well into the evening. The noisome inn they had found themselves in was closing their doors; signalling an end to the companion's night.
"Well I must be going home," says Lady Valapart. "Artair would you be so kind as to walk me home?"
"Of course M'lady," replies Artiar with a flourish of his hand. His comical gesture draws giggles from both Lady Valapart and Erhi. Artair smiles and rights himself, a little too quickly and the evening of drinking causes him to stumble slightly.
"You sure you will be alright to escort her home?" asks Kolivan. "I could walk with you."
The suggestion brings a slight furrowed brow to Lady Valapart, a clear indication that she favored a quiet walk home with just Artair. Eelco notices her reaction and intervenes on behalf of romance.
"It is just a short distance Kolivan," says Eelco. "The cold night air will sober Artair up in a few short steps. I on the otherhand am seeing double. Do you mind giving me a hand back to the Sly Ministrel?"
"You never could hold your drink," replies Kolivan as he helps Eelco from his chair and slings his one arm over his shoulder. "Well let us be off and get some much needed rest."
With the danger of a third wheel adverted the companions bid each other a goodnight and leave the inn. Artair and Lady Valapart part with the companions a few blocks before the Valapart Manor and begin their romantic walk home.
"I had a good time today Artair," says Lucia.
"So did I," replies Artair as he takes Lucia's arm in his. "A great few weeks as a matter of fact."
Lucia smiles as they continue to walk. The night moon casts its pale glow on the street before them, while a gondolier sings a love song to his passengers in the distance, making the whole moment seem surreal. Lucia stops and turns to Artair with a longing in her eyes. Artair hesitates for a moment before catching her cue and placing his hand on her cheek. He moves in to kiss Lucia when her eyes grow wide with panic. Artair turns to face the attacker too late and catches a fist to his jaw that sends him reeling.
"WHERE IS CONNOR!?" bellows a Half-Orc woman as she readies herself to strike again.
A pair of thugs step out of the shadows on either side of Artair and Lucia blocking their escape. Artair shakes the fog of drink from his head and tries to steady himself.
"He is safe Myev," replies Artair. "Let's calm down and talk about this..."
Never in the history of telling people to "calm down" has anyone, least of all a Barbarian Half-Orc mother seeking her son, ever "calmed down". Artair realized that the moment he said it, wishing instantly he could have taken it back, sadly the fog of drink made him speak before he considered the consequences. Myev flew into a rage and charged Artair swinging wildly. Her haymaker missed by a mile and Artair grabbed Lucia by the wrist and moved to flee. His escape was blocked by one of the thugs who attempted to Bull Rush him backwards into the waiting arms of the other thug. Artair avoided the thug's rush but lost his grip on Lucia. Lucia took that moment to scream for help.
The other thug grabbed Lucia and clamped his hand over her mouth to silence her while Artair maneuvered against the first thug to try and reach Lucia. He avoided a feeble attempt of the thug to thwart his movement and attempted to break Lucia free from the grip of the second thug. Artair slammed his fist into the small of the second thug's back causing him to loosen his hold on Lucia for a moment. Then came a roar from behind Artair. Myev had regained her momentum and had reach Artair once again. He turned to face her but a moment too late as her elbow landed squarely on his cheek. He dropped to the ground and everything faded in and out. He could hear Lucia scream for help, he could hear Myev yelling at him about connor and even the sounds of the nearby citizens shouting about the assault. The last thing Artair heard before unconsciousness took him was the sound of the Constabulary's whistles heralding their arrival.
Artair woke to the gentle caress of Lucia's hand on his cheek. The sound of muffled commontion seemed distant because of the ringing in his ears but after a moment he opened his eyes and saw Lucia's face ringed with a pale halo from the moon in the sky above.
"You look beautiful," whispers Artair as he smiles weakly.
"Well you look terrible," replies Lucia as she touches her handkerchief to his split lip. Artair winces in pain and begins to sit upright.
"What happened?" asks Artair as he surveys the carnage. A half of dozen constables lay scattered about the ground; each writhing in pain.
"The Half-Orc proved a challenging foe to bring down," interjects Sergeant Grigori as he stands over Artair with an outstretched hand. The constable helps Artair to his feet. "What happened here?"
"A misunderstanding Sergeant," replies Artair.
"Some misunderstanding," says Sergeant Grigori. "Well, do you want to press charges?"
"No," replies Artair. "I think she has garnished herself enough trouble tonight without me adding to it."
Sergeant Grigori stares at Artair for a moment before turning to Lady Valapart.
"How about you M'lady?" asks Sergeant Grigori.
Lucia hesitates for a moment, looking to Artair confused. Artair shakes his head "no" to her.
"It was a misunderstanding," replies Lucia unconvincingly.
"Okay," says Sergeant Grigori. "You two are free to leave, I have enough her to charge her and her accomplices anyway. I'll have two of constables escort you home safely. Goodnight."
The Sergeant motions for two of his men to go with Artair and Lucia and gives the order for the others to take Myev and the thugs away. As the struggle to get Myev to her feet she yells to Artair as she is dragged away.
"Is she why you took connor and left me!?" yells Myev. "You can't hide him from me forever Artair. I swear I will take everything you hold dear away from you until you give him back!"
The constables drag Myev away and her yells of rage turn to cries of anguish. "Give me back my son!" echoes in the cold night.