The Alley Cats

AKA Three Old Toms

In the southern part of Koenigsburg, in the crowded streets of Bonnots Fair, is a tavern known only to the locals and to mercenaries.  The door is, appropriately, in the alley.  The sign, swinging on creaky hinges, is a silhouette of three cats: one with a missing ear, one with a missing paw, and one with a broken tail.  Mercenaries and adventurers know it as The Alley Cats, named for a mercenary company. The locals call it the Three Old Toms.  And though only one of the three proprietors is named Tom, all of them will answer to the name.

The tavern proper is the ground floor of a converted three-story house.  Though the outside still looks dilapidated, it’s a carefully crafted veneer.  Inside, the wood floors gleam in the firelight, the tables and chairs are sturdy, and the food is excellent and plentiful.  Trophies hang on the walls: banners, swords, shields, bows, a broken lute, a lap harp without strings, and even some bones.  The “Toms” will gladly tell tales about any of them, though their stories don’t always match.

The second floor has six rooms, available for rent to mercenaries and adventurers.  The rooms are clean, the beds are soft and free from vermin, and the doors have magical locks, attuned to the room keys.

The third floor is living space for Tom and his two cousins, Jarret and Darly.

The Alley Cats Mercenary Company

The company was formed a little over twenty years ago by Tom Damonson and his cousins.  Tom was trying to “liberate” a pig when he was caught by the local constable.  His father Damon, a well-known and respected farrier, refused to speak on Tom’s behalf and disowned his son.  Desperate to save his cousins, and himself, Tom promised to serve the court for three years as a security expert.  Jarret, a capable if temperamental fighter, and Darly, a talented minstrel, agreed.  The judge authorized them to recruit up to three more “miscreants”, and the Alley Cats were born.  Their first mission was to investigate rumors of skeletons wandering an old, unused graveyard.  They recruited a young, overeager paladin whose idea of “right” had crossed the law, and went to investigate.  They found and stopped a young mage who had discovered she could animate the dead.  She was personable (and pretty) so they gave her an ultimatum: give up necromancy and join the group, or be returned to town to stand trial.  Lareena joined the group.

For more than a decade the Alley Cats grew in power and prestige.  At their height they were sixteen members strong, all of them “miscreants”.  Eight years ago, near the end of the war between Velloren and the Svartalfar, the Alley Cats were given a disastrous mission: infiltrate a Svartalfar camp, rescue their prisoner, and steal their military plans.  The Svartalfar discovered them, and only half the company escaped.  Less than a month later they were given a second mission, this time to stop a mage suspected of aiding the enemy.  They were successful, but lost another three members, including Lareena.

Heartbroken, they returned to Koenigsburg, disbanding the company and moving on to other things.

The Survivors

Of the five founding members, four lived to retire: Tom, now called Lightfoot, his cousins Jarret and Darly, and the paladin Sanura.  The fifth survivor was another “security expert”, a wiry Halfling man named Seamus.

Tom, Jarret, and Darly bought an abandoned house in the Bonnots Fair section of Koenigsburg – a very poor district with a high crime rate.  They renovated the house and opened the Alley Cats tavern, putting out the word to mercenary companies and solitary adventurers.  As a result, the cousins hear much of what’s going on in the world, from the highest courts to the lowest slums, from cities to wilderness. The presence of such highly skilled and dangerous people in the district has had the unintended side effect of lowering the crime rate and making Bonnots Fair a safer place.

Sanura, a dark-skinned woman of Yoremban descent, returned to her family’s farm.  With her savings she purchased the surrounding land, built several small cottages, and brought in crofters to work the land.  Sanura is a devout worshipper of the Bright Mother, but she could no longer serve as a paladin.  Instead, with her order’s blessing, she took vows to become a priestess.  In addition, Sanura believes the Alley Cats were deceived, and the last two missions were intended to remove the Alley Cats from the King’s service.  She has spent the last seven years trying to find out who betrayed them, and why.

Seamus (his compatriots affectionately call him “Shy Mouse”) took his loot and moved inland, settling near his family.  He has built a rambling mansion full of secret rooms, traps, and doors that lead no-where.  He takes in a few street kids and orphans every year and trains them in the arts of stealth and security.  Seamus currently has 13 students.  He has 11 graduates, forming the core of a new network of spies and rogues.  They frequently visit Sanura’s farm and the Alley Cats Tavern, ostensibly to exchange greetings and news from Seamus.  But Seamus believes as Sanura does, that the Alley Cats were targeted for elimination.


 

Creative Commons License This work by Jean Headley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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