One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
The group remains sidetracked in their attempt to get back to Lendore Island and free Peylae, the last of the true line of the Duke of Kroten, and overthrow Nebub.
Tathar Surion, Priest of Sehanine, and Morwen Alcerin remained at the Pholtus temple in Midmeadow while the rest of the group went on a side trek for the temple. Breymeer was geased by the temple leaders after being resurrected.
Breymeer's mission was to recover a holy sword carried by one of the church paladins who was now feared lost along with his companions. They were lost in the area of White Plume Mountain.
The group sent with Breymeer included:
Breymeer, 6th level male human (suel blooded) ranger, Captain of the Restenford Rangers.
Relmak, 4th level male 1/2 orc priest (Kord), Henchman to Breymeer.
Isiaweil, 4th level male half-elf ranger from Lendore Island, associate ranger to the Restenford Rangers.
Lexington Krupps, 4th level human male mage.
Mandellay Muffintops (AKA Speck), 7th level male halfling thief.
Markus, 4th level fighter/4th level cleric (Kord) half-elf male from Lendore Island.
Stahl, 2th level male human paladin (Pholtus) from Midmeadow.
Ergon, 2th level male human paladin (Pholtus) from Midmeadow.
Jandre, 4th level specialty priest (Pholtus) from Midmeadow.
Droget, 2nd level human male fighter from Midmeadow.
Those from Midmeadow were assigned by the church to accompany the group. Jandre was the church's leader among the group.
The group traveled through the badlands along the south side of the Rift. A random encounter with some hill giants was the demise of Relmak as he was crushed by a boulder.
In short, the group me Thingizzard, the Witch. She told the group the sword they seek is now in possession of another witch. Their friends were ambushed at the Dead Gnoll's Socket and the holy sword stolen. The thieves, in turn, met their fate in the swamp and the other witch recovered the sword.
Thingizzard offers the group a bargain. The group is told to go into White Plume Mountain and recover four weapons of power to trade for their holy sword. Also, Thingizzard was interested in the recovery of her sister and her cauldron. If the group could complete the quest, a trade for the holy sword could be arranged.
Figuring the witches were too powerful, the group decided to delve into White Plume Mountain.
Last edited by Sheepdog on Sat Jan 05, 2019 9:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
I used several additions of White Plume Mountain and Return to White Plume Mountain to create this adventure for the group. The first level was essentially the same. The lower level from Return to White Plume Mountain was adjusted to fit my needs.
The group made it into the mountain and were able to complete the first riddle and move past the sphinx. They came to the flooded chamber and encountered a water (sea) hag. Droget fell victim to the hag and was pulled into the water and cut to ribbons.
The group didn't take kindly to this and were able to slay the hag. Unfortunately in their haste, they did not consider that this was Thingizzard's sister. Breymeer beheaded the beast and has much to fear from Thingizzard.
The group next encountered the spinning cylinder. Speck attempted to negotiate it and was surprised when Burket set it ablaze with a flaming arrow. Speck, nearly dead, made it out but was taken prisoner by Burket and Snarla.
The group came to his rescue and defeated the duo though Breymeer was bit by Snarla in the process.
The room contained a few prisoners (AKA help in the form of more PCs).
Gustaf, 2nd level human male Paladin (St. Cuthbert), his lacky Digwin, 0 level human male, and Seeler, 2nd level dwarven male fighter, joined the group. The Pholtus followers were none too happy to see a St. Cuthbert paladin. They refused to aid each other directly.
They continued on to the huge flooded cavern with the magical shell. Suspecting a trap, they retreated at the sounds of chittering.
They moved again past the sphinx successfully, this time going west.
Speck scouted ahead and got greedy. He was surprised by the ghouls and paralyzed. He fell face down in the water and drown.
The party defeated the ghouls and thought of a solid plan to get by the frictionless room using ghoul corpses dumped in the trenches and wooden doors to span the trenches.
They next encountered Sir Bluto and the river boat crew. They defeated this group; killing half and taking the other half as less-than-willing help. They had no love of the party but did wish for escape.
The party moved on to the multi-tiered chamber. The manticores were quickly dispatched with a series of web spells and coordinated attacks. Many of the other creatures were bypassed other than the sea lions. A broken glass wall brought them into battle and Breymeer was nearly lost. In his anger, his cloak transformed him into a bear. Markus and Breymeer were able to slay the sea lions.
The party moved on and encountered Qesnef. The party parlayed with him and won him over to their aid. Lexington Krupps was not on board with this and nearly attacked Qesnef on his own until Breymeer threatened to dispatch Lexington on the spot. The mage quickly submitted but remained very paranoid of Qesnef. Qesnef the halfling changed into a half-ogre. The group is suspicious of him and suspects his true nature though they are not sure what he is. They do believe him to be powerful.
In addition, the party recovered Blackrazer.
The party moved east and encountered the flesh golems. They answered correctly and the golem joined the group only to be sacraficed in the next encounter with the mud geisers and Clenmilr.
Using Qesnef's ability to fly, the group was able to get by the mud geisers. Seeler was almost lost but Qesnef saved him from a boiling fate. They uncovered and battled Clenmilr at the entrance to his lair. Using a silence spell and some quick actions, Markus, Isiaweil and a few others were able to defeat the vampire. Entering his lair, they destroyed his coffin. Clenmilr slipped away in gaseous form. His status is unknown. Markus and Isiaweil were drained a bit during the encounter.
The party recovered Whelm.
The party took one of their man rests. I rolled a random encounter with wights so as the group passed by the previously inanimate corpes in room #5, they came to life and battled the group. No one perished but some energy was drained.
During the battle, the uneasy cohesiveness of the group finally failed. Gustaf and Sir Bluto came to blows as Sir Bluto and his men were backing away from the encounter. Gustaf could not appreciate their perceived cowardliness.
Sir Bluto got the better of Gustaf before he and his men were held by a hold person spell.
It was one of the two encounters with the undead that Markus learned not to use Blackrazer against the undead.
Finally, they moved into the lair of the giant crab.
Isiaweil got too brave and charged the creature while others flanked it. The creature made quick work of the half-elf, clipping off his head and one of his arms.
The shock of it caught the party off guard. They made a desperate assault on the poor creature and slew it without further causalties.
They recovered Wave.
The group began to make its way back to the entrance.
The party felt somewhat confident they were going to be able to exit the mountain but knew they were one weapon of power short.
At the entrance, they encountered the sphinx and an elderly human male.
The man, calling himself Nix, told them he unfortunately could not let them pass.
The party anticipated the man was more powerful than he appeared and they did not test him.
Nix advised his brother, Nox, had come under some type of mind control and now believed himself to be Keraptis.
Nox (Keraptis) was battling some type of enemy Nix referred to as Mossmutter. Mossmutter also appeared to believe itself to be Keraptis.
Nix explained where to find the valve to drain the first level of water. Once the water was drained, the party quickly located the hidden door that led deeper into the mountain.
Nix also offered to bring back one of their fallen comrades if the party wished. They voted for their meat shield Isiaweil, the fallen half-elf ranger. Isiaweil was suddenly returned to the party intact and healthy.
The party encountered Nox (Keraptis) in the indoctrination chamber overlooking the heart of the volcano. They volunteered to join his forces against the false Keraptis.
To ensure their loyalty, Nox mentally bound Markus to his will.
With the gnomes showing the party the way, they safely bi-passed the burning golems.
The gnomes pointed the way and the party traveled on alone. They moved north through several iron covered rooms with destroyed doors.
They explored one side room and recovered a cauldron they believed to be the one stolen from Thingizzard. They seized it and Breymeer hoped it would be enough to appease the witch knowing it was he who had slain her sister-witch in the level above.
Moving past a large hole in the floor that led to the unknown, the party encountered a large, though destroyed, mechanical device. They assumed it had something to do with the hole but left it for later examination.
The party encountered the first of the fungus hulks. They moved into melee with confidence but nearly lost Breymeer in the initial moments. They defeated the hulks but realized they were moving into dangerous territory.
The party moved into the mushroom and fungus gardens where they encountered the skin puppets. They quickly defeated the first conclave of a dozen puppets using a combination of web spells and fire.
With luck, they moved in the correct direction and encountered Mossmutter surrounded by dozens of skin puppets, an oversized full plate armored gnome with an ice sword and a fungus hulk.
The battle was long and fierce. Ergon and Seeler fled back to get aid from Nox. They met gnomes enroute to aid them (Nox sent them when he saw the party (through Markus' eyes) doing well against Mossmutter).
The party had convinced an invisibly and flying ogre-mage to fly in and snatch the gnome while the party attacked.
A fireball destroyed the skin puppets. Qesnef made his move.
The party was unprepared for the spell power of their enemy.
A lightning bolt felled Lexington Krups but Markus was able to save him at death's door.
Qesnef was eaten by Mossmutter and died inside the 50' towering plant creature.
Markus took Blackrazer to hand. Quickly overtaken by the intelligent blade, Markus charged in to battle the gnome in attempt to gain its soul for Blackrazer.
Markus was quickly in dire straights trying to fight the incredibly talented gnome with the ice blade.
Mossmutter placed a prismatic wall at the entrance to the chamber. Isiaweil went blind.
A recovering Lexington, brought to consciousness previously by the warrior/priest Markus, was able to dispel part of the flashing wall using a magic wand. He created a cone of cold directed at the wall.
The magic partially defeated the wall. Unfortunately, Markus was caught in the blast as well. The gnome put Markus down as the cone of cold washed over him. Markus was slain.
Sir Bluto, Breymeer, Gustaf (flying via spell) and Stahl engaged in the fight while Jandre attempted to assist with his clerical powers.
They attempted to breach the wall through the quickly opening and closing hole created by the missing color of the prismatic wall. They attempted to time it right and jump through the temporarily appearing hole. Stahl stumbled and was immediately slain by the power of the wall.
Sir Bluto also died quickly in the battle that followed.
Breymeer was quickly beaten down. Facing death, Breymeer used his bear cloak to transform into a bear.
Mossmutter attempted to breath spores on Breymeer but he was able to spare himself. All party members had the aid of cloths tied over their mouths and noses.
Gustaf went down but was saved before death settled upon him.
A back up unit of gnomes arrived in time to blast Mossmutter with spells including a lightning bolt.
The enemy was finally defeated. The party lost Markus, Stahl and the NPCs Qesnef and Sir Bluto, along with about a dozen of Nox's gnomes.
Ergon and Seeler never made it back to Nox as they encountered the burning golem and dared not face it.
The party recovered the plate armor from the gnome and Ergon was able to fit into it.
The party also recovered Frostrazer.
With Breymeer, Isiaweil, Lexington, Ergon, Jandre, Gustaf and Seeler remaining, along with two of Sir Bluto's henchmen, the party returned to Nox.
Nox commanded them to place the four weapons of power before him and then retire and rest.
The party hesitated and the burning golems rose from the burning pits. The entire party is severely weakened. Gustof remains unconscious.
The standoff continues until the next tabletop session.
Wisdom prevails and the party places the weapons of power down before Nox.
Nox allows them to regroup and rest. They take advantage of the situation. The party spends two days recovering under the umbrella of Nox's protection.
Once recovered, the party has a meeting with Nox again. Nox tells them he would like them to investigate down the hole on the north end of his area of control though Nox was not certain what force caused him to make this request.
Joining the group was Ek, a 2nd level male drow elf mage/theif, Cholakk and a 2nd level male hill dwarf fighter/priest. Ek was an underling to the drow elf hunters under Nox's command. Cholakk was their servant.
With all four weapons of power, now in the hands of the party, the group calculated how to get down the hole. They find the hole dark after the first 60'.
They attempted to lower the second to last of Sir Bluto's henchman with a torch and lantern with continual light cast upon it. The lantern dismisses the darkness revealing magma below with a small ledge around it. The hole is 240 feet deep.
A blade cuts across the hole severing the rope and depositing the henchman into the magma below. Lucky for the henchman, he died from the fall before burning up.
The party next lowered the cable down the hole with a make-shift gondola engineered from one of the rusty doors recovered from the room. The blade again shot across the hole but this time shattered upon the cable.
The party returned to Nox who decided to join the group.
Isiaweil, using the fly spell storing ring, was the first down. Finding the palm prints and placing his hands upon them, he was transported to the fane.
Once he arrived at the fane, he froze up and held his ground without moving.
The party quickly got down the hole, activated the transport and arrived at the fane with Isiaweil.
The ghost of the lost druid appeared and confronted the party. Nox claimed to be Keraptis but the druid dismissed him as an imposter. Nox, believing himself to be Keraptis, attacked the druid.
The party, seeing the obelisk with the images of the four weapons of power chiseled into it, made their move.
Placing the weapons of power into the obelisk, the party watched the baby Keraptis arrive and then immediately get slain and torn apart by the druid of the fane who identified it as the real Keraptis.
The fane begins to collapse as the party escapes. There were several tense moments while the party attempted to climb up the hole with haste. Nox promised Isiawiel a wish if the ranger flew him to safety. Isiaweil took him up on the offer.
The party escaped the mountain. Isiaweil used his wish to bring Markus back from death. Ek was abandoned by his fellow drow elves. He joined the party for lack of better options at this time.
Having recovered the cauldron and defeated Keraptis, the party returned to the Great Swamp in attempts to make a trade with Thingizzard for the holy sword.
The party was apprehensive to enter the Great Swamp. One night, while camped nearby, a troupe of trolls presented itself to the group. Instead of a fight, the party was encouraged to follow them into the swamp. They did.
Once into the swamp some distance, the trolls abandoned the party to their fate.
In the morning, the party realized the swamp had changed and they were lost. They kept getting a fleeting glimpse of a peasant girl in a dress darting away from them in the swamp.
They attempted to follow but unfortunately lost the last of Sir Bluto's henchman to the bog. The henchman fell through the bog and was suddenly overcome by a mummy The party nearly dropped the cauldron down into the bog as well.
Finally, they came upon a small island of soil that held a small wooden cabin surrounded by skulls set upon spears as a make-shift fence.
The group soon met a young girl, identified as Thingizzard, through the parlay. A second, massive hag, was also encountered though she did not identify herself. The party gave much respect to the witches and handed over the cauldren and relayed their story of what occurred in the mountain.
Much to their surprise, the large hag handed over the holy sword the party sought.
The party was able to exit the swamp and return to Midmeadow victorious.
The party now hopes to return to Lendore Island and continue their quest to recovery Peylae and defeat Nebub.
The party made their way back to Lendore Island landing in Restendford.
Tathar Surion and Morwen were able to convince the Church of Pholtus and King Archbold III to send approx. 100 troops and mercenaries (along with a galley) to aid Baroness Andrella. The catch was they (Church of Pholtus) get to claim ownership of the Spiral. The church is funding the expedition at this point.
Breymeer had a side trek as he found himself battling Lycanthropy. He woke up in an inn owners room in Midmeadow. The inn owner and his wife were slain but the children unharmed. He later slew a shepard boy in the Nyrond countryside before he and his companions were able to beat the curse (or so he hopes).
Over the summer of 578 the group returned to Restenford where the campaign restarted as a play by email campaign.
Hopefully it is off an running again.
Lendore Island Adventures – Part 8 – The Return
They arrived at Restenford in three waves over the summer.
First, on Reaping 9th, came Tathar Surion of the Spindrift Isles, Lord and rebuilder of Tur Thar-guldar (AKA Bone Hill Keep), a Sehanine priest and guide to his fallen elvish comrads. The elf lord has sworn to recover Peylae from the clutches of hell iteself.
With Lord Surion is Lady Morwen, also an elf of the Spindrift Isles. Lady Morwen carries the title of advisor to Baroness Andrella and Lake Farmin Mayor Belina.
The two elves brought with them two companies of Nyrondese soldiers.
The first company was sent with the blessings of King Archbold III. It consisted of a war galley, a captain, two lieutenants, and four platoons of two squads each. Each squad had seven soldiers and one sergeant. A total of 67 soldiers of Nyrond. The church of Pholtus promised to fund the campaign.
The second company was sent by the church of Pholtus comprising of the church’s own mercenaries. It consisted of four squads, each with a squad leader and nine foot soldiers. A total of 40 soldiers of Pholtus.
Once ashore, Lord Surion met with Baroness Andrella. The baroness agreed to allow the soldiers to came on the fields just northwest of Restenford. She could not hide her sense of relief to have more defenders for the barony. Duke Nebub has continued to threaten the very existence of the Barony of Restenford. With the assistance of the neighboring dwarves, the elves of Tur Thar-guldar and some politicking, the barony has kept any further assaults forces from entering its borders.
Both Lake Farmin and Restenford itself have been slowly trying to rebuild after attacks late last year (557 C.Y.).
The Church of Pholtus, in return for the soldiers, received permission to investigate the spiral from whence Gosmel ad Nyrond-Rax was recovered from once Duke Nebub has been neutralized.
Baroness Andrella sent runners to the dwarves of the Thesdrorlum clan that guard the mountains to the northeast and the barony’s northern border. The baroness requested a meeting with the clan in Restenford to update them and plan a future campaign against Duke Nebub.
The second group arrived on Reaping 15th. This was the church’s overseers of the troops. The group consisted of Jandre, an adventurous Pholtus priest and field agent. With Jandre was Ergon, a paladin in the service of church and bearer of a holy sword of Pholtus. The sword was recovered from the witch Thingizzard after it was lost to her by a band of thieves. Ergon wears full plate armor and carries his shield with bravery. Stahl was among those that would have been in the leadership of the companies but he was lost in battle under White Plume Mountain.
The third and final group to arrive was the adventurers. They did not arrive until just before the harvest festival week of Brewfest. They arrived two full months after the others, landing ashore on Harvester 24th. They were much delayed by the studying of the mages, Ek and Lexington.
The group consisted of:
Breymeer the Bear, Captain of the Restenford Rangers. A northman, once lost to death, who wears a bear skin cloak of Llerg allowing him to transforms himself into a bear when provoked. Though he wields two axes in combat, his archery skills have saved the party on more than one occasion.
Cholakk, a recent addition to the party. The dwarven warrior/travelling priest has been a stout addition to the group.
Ek, a drow elf. He was recovered from the lava caves below White Plume Mountain. Having been cut off from his people he joined the group as it fled the erupting mountain. Very little is known about the dark elf but so far, he has been reliable. He possesses spell power.
Isiaweil the half-elf ranger and associate to the Restenford Rangers. Isiaweil, also lost once to death when he faced a monstrous crab under White Plume Mountain, was returned to the party through the power of one of the mountains denizens. Isiaweil remains greatly weakened from battles with the undead. His will is damaged and he suffers occasionally from a TBI received while fighting an ettin. Though badly beaten down and broken, the immensely powerful half-elf still fights like a savage. He bears a sword named Hoknuk Gnoth taken from a hobgoblin leader slain in battle.
Lexington Krupps the human mage. Though Lexington has had his disagreements with some other party members, he remains faithful to the group. He has been continuing to group in his spell casting powers. He carries with him two wands. One is a bone wand is quartz tipped and capable of creating several frost/snow related enchantments, much to his enemies demise. The other a wood wand with a glass tip that paralyzes his enemies.
Markus, a half-elf warrior and priest of Kord. He was nearly felled under White Plume Mountain but lived the day. He represents Kord well in battle once joined. The powers of Kord, channeled through Markus have often saved the day. He now carries Sir Bluto’s magical longsword and a steel shield emblazoned with a red border.
Lastly is Seeler, the dwarven warrior that joined the crew under White Plume Mountain. Seeler fears no battle.
Long remembered is Speck, the mischievous halfling. He was slain while battling ghouls under the mountain. His spirit appears to still follows the party looking for the day it may rejoin them in the flesh.
With the long-awaited arrival of the Restenford Ranger Captain and company, Baroness Andrella send an invite to the castle to the leaders of men and the adventuring party. Not one to waste time, the meeting was set for Harvester the 26th, giving everyone Godsday (Harvester 25th) to spend in religious observation. The middle day of each week is Godsday; it is a day of rest and religion during the week; even for the common folk.
The morning of Waterday, the 26th of Harvester, breaks with a light breeze off the sea and cloudy skies. Like so many days the adventurers have faced, the skies threaten rain.
Each of the members of the party prepare themselves for the meeting with the baroness and then make their way to the castle.
The soldiers at the castle gate are a more serious lot than they had been. The onslaught against Restenford cost many locals their lives and many buildings were lost to fire, including the castle’s barn and guardhouse. Both are in the process of being rebuilt.
The meeting hall is near standing room only before the three-tiered dais upon which Barnoness Andrella sits. The barnoness sits in her father, Grellus’, seat while her mother, Fairwind’s, seat sits empty. The barnoness is dressed in a fine gown with her long brown hair pulled up in braids that wrap around her head under her simple golden headband. She appears tired and stressed.
The Captain of the Guard, Gelpas, stands behind Fairwind’s thorne, at Baroness Andrella’s side wearing his shining chain mail armor. At his side is sheathed a decorative long sword. Gelpas gives a faint sigh of relief as Breymeer enters. It is good to have the Captain of the Restenford Rangers back, along with the rest of his companions. Sorely missed is the two elvish blooded mages, Cirdan Saralonde and Grimlock; whose magic nearly single handedly saved both Lake Farmin and Restenford.
One the second tier of the dais sits the wizard Pelltar in his prescribed chair. He soberly nods at the arrival of the party. The only other chair on this level holds a smiling Dalic Steelcoat. Not one to hold his emotion, Dalic gives out a shout to his previous travelling companions, “Time ta be bringin’ out da ‘Fear Lantern’ me boys!” Pelltar quickly casts a disapproving glance at Dalic and he calms himself.
Curate Almon, from the Phaulkon Abbey, is upon the lowest level of the dais. Standing beside him wearing chain mail armor, with his hand resting on his weathered flail, is Krelar, champion of the abbey.
Finally, the last two persons on the third tier are Almax, the half-elf druid, who is seated, and Amos, his son and fellow druid.
The final person in attendance on behalf of the baroness is Belina, Mayor of Lake Farmin and Lieutenant of the Restenford Rangers; second in command after Breymeer. Belina stands at the base of the dais to the audiences right. She wears a dress instead of armor today befitting her political title. Her curly red hair falls upon her shoulders.
Belina’s emotions towards Breymeer are betrayed the moment she sees him; turning red with the comfort of seeing him.
The party enters the room without practiced etiquette.
Breymeer, being a captain of the barony, enters first. His eyes are immediately upon Belina. Breymeer winks at Bellina but refrains from taking her into a bear hug in order to not damage the professionalism of the moment.
Next to Breymeer is the heavily cloaked and hooded Ek; Breymeer’s henchman. The elf wears a hooded cloak low over his face and drops out of line near the back left corner of the room. Though not threatening in nature, the move in noticed by Gelpas, the Captain of the Guard. The captain makes other motion or indication of planned action.
Following Breymeer is the Elvish Lord and Sehanine Priest, Tathar Surion and the advisor Lady Morwan Alcerin.
Lord Tathar has his face blackened and his eyes surrounded with silvery moons, indicating he is about to depart on an adventure. He wears pants and a blouse the silvery color of the Sehanine elves and his elven chainmail can be seen, by the keen observer, underneath. He also wears a silvery floor length cape with the symbol of Sehanine on the back. He carries his quarter staff with his backpack and horn wood bow. These he deposits by the door, before entering the chamber.
Morwen Alcerin is with Tathar, but had no obvious travel gear. She appears to be ready for court. While she is normally a very beautiful lady, she has quite outdone herself today. Her hair done up, jewelry on and she wears a silvery Elvish gown with a red sash. She throws beaming smiles at the other members of the group that she knows.
As Tathar sets down his backpack and heads into the chamber, Morwen takes his hand into hers and walks in by his side. For those taking notice, Tathar gently tries to remove his hand but Morwen holds firm and Tathar quickly relents, letting the she-elf have her way. Morwen beams brightly at her victory, while Tathar blushes and looks somewhat uncomfortable.
The next to enter are Ergon and Jandre. Ergon’s armor is freshly polished and shines. Both stand as rigid as their deity’s moral code.
Markus and Isiaweil enter together followed by Cholakk and Seeler, the dwarves.
On the heels of the dwarves is a long-lost friend; the gnome Esned.
Lexinton Krupps enters. The teenage human appears wise beyond his young years. He is inwardly pleased to see Pelltar present; knowing the wizard is sometimes known to take in fellow mages for study and training.
Lastly, enters Vicros, the half elf rescued from the sea-side orc compound. Set free by Grimlock and Noble Circan Saralonde, Vicros was advised by them to sail to Restenford. His sense of adventure, and name dropping, has brought him to this meeting.
Lady Andrella makes her greetings. “Captain Breymeer. It is good to hear of your return and see you are well. Your new friend there, she nods to the corner in which Ek has placed himself, is not an overly welcome guest. However, we survived the introduction to Dalic Steelcoat so, therefore, Breymeer, if you vouch for this elf’s worth, he shall remain unmolested by my forces.”
She continues speaking to Breymeer, “I wish to speak to you in private at the conclusion to this meeting.” Her face is calm and her voice even. Nothing is betrayed to indicate if the meeting bodes well or not.
“Tathar Surion, Lord of Tur Thar-guldar and honorable priest of Sehanine, welcome.”
“Lady Morwen Alcerin. I am grateful to see you and Lord Surion back. I see your travels together have brought you closer together.” The baroness smiles kindly.
“Isiaweil. We will be truly blessed if you have returned home to the island to continue your services to the Restenford Rangers. We may be looking for more commanders in our unit should this interest you.”
“Esned. Your bravery in the past is commendable. If you should wish to continue on serving the interests of Restenford, you will be very welcome to do so.”
“Lexington Krupps. You still have the bearing of a young man but you appear to me to be much more worldly. Your travels have served you well I imagine. Your service to Restenford would also be greatly welcomed.”
“Vicros. You are a stranger to me. It has been told to me that you were rescued from an orc compound by none other than Grimlock and his noble companion Cirdan Saralonde. This barony remains standing because of the actions of those who rescued you. It is by name alone that you are welcomed into this court at this time. If it is adventure you seek, you have come to the right place.”
“Markus, you remain relatively unknown to me. You travel with heroes. I shall assume you are of the same caliber. You wear the markings of a priest of Kord. I can only assume you have earned such a position. We can only benefit from one of you fighting spirit.”
“Cholakk and Seeler. Though you are not of the local Thesdrorlum clan that aids in protecting our northern border, you are welcome at my court. Until recently, I have had little to do with dwarves and their ways. I have learned this though, you are a brave and honorable people that once set upon a task, do not relent until the task is complete. I hope you choose to give us your aid.”
“Finally, Jandre, honorable priest of Pholtus and Sir Ergon, holy warrior of Pholtus. I welcome both of you and the warriors you have brought with you. I hope this new alliance bodes well for Restenford and your church.” Baroness Andrella looks out of the corner of her eye at Pelltar who returns her look with a blank face. Meanwhile Curate Almon looks upon the two Pholtus followers with guarded curiosity. Almax, the druid, shifts uncomfortably in his chair. The contempt on his face for the followers of such a rigid deity is obvious.
The baroness, having finished her greetings, asks a simple question, “I must know who wishes to stand and fight for Restenford. I assume that those in attendance today stand for the freedom of Restenford against the evil forces that have taken over Kroten. I ask of each of you, do you pledge to continue the fight against the fiend, Duke Nebub?”
“If each of you affirms this commitment, you may remain here now. Those that wish to continue with their lives elsewhere are free to leave this court. You must now choose. Shall you stay or shall you go?”
Morwen nods her commitment.
Esned as well, “I am ready for more adventuring!”
Cholack speaks, “I honor a temporary call of service to the causes of the barony. However, I chose to remain behind and aid with local defenses, patrols and possibly as a liaison to the local dwarven clans. If you find need of my services Baroness Andrella, please send for me. I shall be staying in town for the time being.”
“I dare not leave my companions to their own devices without my aid,” comments Markus. “I pledge my loyalty to them. I find the plight of the barony a most worthy affair and for a priest of Kord.”
Jandre quickly takes a step forward and adds, “Pholtus’ name shall also be honored. Ergon and I shall fight against the dark forces in your defense and for the glory of Pholtus!”
“I am in!” boldly states Breymeer. “I vouch for all present. I assure you that Ek has his reason for not wanting to be front and center. He will cause ill will.” With that, Breymeer glances at Ek with a look letting him know misbehavior is not an option.
Isiaweil’s will being broken, lacks much for enthusiasm. He simply nods. Isiaweil is in.
Lexington Krupps confirms he is in.
Seeler, showing the bravery of the dwarves, is in.
Vicros stands solemnly, knowing his verbal contributions would not help the situation. He looks around, watching for others answers. He watches Cholack back out of the quest. Vicros briefly considers leaving himself. He shifts a leather bag he carries around his back. The load the bag carries is heavy; likely books. His sword is sheathed in a very plain sheath that barely pokes out from underneath his cloak. He carries it generally concealed.
After a pause, Vicros, with conviction in his eyes, agrees to aid the quest.
Tathar clears his throat. "I hold in my hand written proof of the lineage of Paylae, daughter of Ledago. She is the rightful heir to the throne in Kroton." Tathar holds up a bone case scroll. "I now present this to Baroness Andrella for safekeeping. I trust, baroness, that you will know what to do with it at the right time." Tathar turns to Breymeer and hands him the scroll to present to the Baroness.
Breymeer moves forward and hands the scroll to Belina, who, in turn, passes it up to Baroness Andrella. The baroness holds it for the moment without reading it. She waits for Tathar to finish speaking.
Speaking louder, and a bit more authority he continues. "Paylae died in the dwarven delve, or so we thought." Tathar pauses and looks over the people present to ensure he has everyone's attention.
"The Lunar Lady, Sehanine Moonbow, Lady of Dreams, has seen fit to bless me, her unworthy servant' with a vision!" He almost yells the last word, and all can see that the zealot is working himself up into a frenzy. As if noticing it himself, Tathar calms himself. He pauses for a moment, looks at the floor and takes a deep breath. Letting it out he looks up again and continues.
"Paylae was taken into hell itself by the bone devils that lived in the delve. She is there body and soul, but she is kept alive to be tortured as sport for the evil denizens that live there." Morwen gasps and covers her mouth at this news.
"Sahanine, The Mystic Seer, would not have shown me this if she did not wish me to right this wrong. I will do so or die trying."
Now, I do not know how to access the realm of hell. If I were to travel North to the Forbidden Island my superiors may know the way but I am hoping that one of the other priests present might know how to solve this riddle. Further, I am not so arrogant as to think that I could survive there on my own. I beg my friends and colleagues and anyone who will listen to lend your aid in this noble Quest."
He pauses again and looks around the room singling out the priests of the different deities that are represented. Please sirs, let us work together. We will do good for the world, and maybe learn about each other so that we may grow in our own faiths and in the tolerance of the faiths of others."
Lexington Krupp digs into his pocket and raises up the shriveled little finger of Speck, “I did not know him well, definitely not as well as some here. If he were brought back, his prowess’s may be helpful in whatever your plans.”
Lady Andrella smiles, “If I had a way, I would certainly welcome Speck back. He has served this barony well. I wish you well in that quest.”
To the group she continues, “As I wish you all well on the defeat of Nebub!” She holds up the scroll case given to her by Tathar. “I will hold this until Nebub is destroyed. May Peylae reign in his stead.”
“I do not have any suggestions in regards to getting to Kroten. I am afraid the tactics and logistics will be up you all of you. I can tell you both roads into Kroten from Restenford are heavily guarded and fortified. My only advise is to try and find a way around them or by deceit and deception.”
“Rest well and may you be blessed on your quest. I thank you for all you have done and all you endeavor to do.”
Baroness Andrella closes with, “Captain Breymeer, please remain behind for a moment.”
With that, the group is dismissed to prepare for their adventure.
I am enjoying the adventures herein, though I am not yet through the 2nd page.
Please tell me that Ide Otneaux is pronounced, "I don't know.". 😁
Additionally, I find it curious that the party is willing to split up so often. That tactic seems to have proven disastrous in the ruins on Bone Hill. Now, they are doing it again when assaulting the dwarven mine. 🤨
Yes. I was attempting to get my ex-wife (we were still married at the time) involved by making a character for her. I asked her to name a character and she simply said, "I don't know." Ide Otneaux seemed appropriate.
As for splitting up, they do know better but find themselves apart often anyway it seems.
For a little while the game went away from play by email to tabletop and I didn't take very detailed notes so the story gets paraphrased and loses a lot of detail. Mostly for the White Plume Mountain side trek.
Winter has come early to Minnesota this year. I am hoping to get things rolling at a faster pace again soon. Kroten, here they come!
Okay, the party just got hit by a fireball in the dwarven mine. Some of the PCs made their Save and some did not, but all had some of their equipment destroyed by the explosion. I remember rules to the effect of only the equipment of individuals failing their Save need roll a Save of its own. I am not sure what edition of the rules you are using. Is it different than I remember, or are you 'house ruling' it?
I guess I would have to consider that a house rule if it goes against the written rule. I played it that if the player saves, they have sheltered themselves enough to take half damage; however, their exposed armor, equipment, weapons, etc are still in the area of effect and, to me, therefore subject to a save as well.
For example, a character may hide behind his shield, exposing the shield. Or maybe the character balled up and hid his exposed body parts but his backpack, though sheltering the body, is exposed to the flame and heat.
I use 2nd edition (nod to Lanthorn) rules but still reference 1st edition a lot. I lot of my houserules are stolen from 3rd or 5th edition. I have a copy of player's handbook, dmg and monster manual from all the editions just out of curiosity sake if nothing else.
Breymeer looks unexpectedly uncomfortable as the rest of the adventurers file out of the meeting, eventually exiting the castle.
Belina’s smile turns to a concerned look for her fellow Restenford Ranger. She hugs him warmly and whispers in his ear.
After releasing Breymeer, Belina looks to the rest of the group, “I am staying at the Inn of the Dying Minotaur. Come, have a drink with me while you plan your expedition.” She gives one more playful look over her shoulder and Breymeer. The corners of her lips curl up into a flirtatious smile.
Considering most of the group has taken up residence at the same Inn since arrival two days prior, it will not be hard for Belina to convince most of the group to join her at least in going to the inn. Of those not staying at the inn are the dwarves who stay at Falco’s Tavern. They chose the tavern, renting two of its four available rooms, since the owners were fellow dwarves. Jandre and Ergon have been staying with the troops at the northern encampment since they arrived two months prior. Tathar Surion is staying at the inn overnight though he had been at Tur Thar-guldar. Morwen has been staying at the inn when in town or in Lake Farmin or Tur Thar-guldar when away.
Following Belina out are Curate Alman and his champion Krelar. Behind them are Almax the druid and his son Amos.
Staying behind with the baroness are Captain Gelpas, Pelltar and Dalic.
Belina’s smile turns to a concerned look for her fellow Restenford Ranger. She hugs him warmly and whispers in his ear, “I would like to visit with you later. Come find me before I must leave back for Lake Farmin.”
Baroness Andrella smiles warmly at Breymeer, “So captain, please tell me of your travels. What can you tell me of your companions? I am most interested in the ones I do not know. Especially that dark elf you bring into my council.”
She continues without waiting for him to answer, “Also, tell me of Isiaweil. He has long been a friend to the Restenford Rangers. Is he well?”
The group exits the castle complex and begins to descend the hill. The devastation from the raid on town had fallen mostly on the northeastern section of town between the hill that holds the Phaulkon Abbey and the hill upon which rests Restenford Castle. The third and final hill that dominates the town is the home of Almax and his family. Most of the damaged buildings have been repaired while those that were burned to the ground are in various states of construction; if not left as vacant lots.
As the group levels off at the base of the hill and turns easterly towards the inn, Jandre positions himself to be close to Tathar. The Pholtus priest speaks to the face painted Sehanine priest while they walk.
Jandre speaks openly enough that the group can hear him, “Nyrond has been confronted with the fiend worshiping enemies in the once Great Kingdom. Though I have not personally done battle with something from the hells, I have had some education regarding fiends. If this Nebub is truly a fiend, I believe the road to hell must lead through him. I would assume he must have some connection or access to the hells in some fashion, manner or form. The trouble will be finding it or recognizing it for what it is. At least, that is my assumption. I, nor my paladin companion, would shy from an opportunity to shine the light of Pholtus upon the hells.”
A voice calls down from the castle wall, “Belina, your presence is requested again.”
Looking back, the group can see Belina, Almax the druid. Amos, the Curate Alman and Krelar have also exited the castle and are walking downhill behind the adventurers.
Belina pauses, gives a farewell greeting to her companions and re-enters the castle.
With the interruption in his thought, Jandre ends his statement, “Honorable Ergon and I are going to find some supplies for the quest. We can continue this conversation at the inn.” Jandre gives a look at Ek before finishing with, “In private if necessary.”
Breymeer addresses the baroness, “The news I have for you I bring with a heavy heart. Our battles have taken a heavy toll on many of us. First of all, Isaiweil was lost under White Plume Mountain and returned to us through the power of one of the mountains inhabitants. His will is severely damaged from battle with an Ettin. Despite his challenges, he remains a trustworthy battle partner and continues to fight for the cause."
"The dark elf Ek was rescued from the mountain and since joining our group has been a reliable asset and possesses a certain set of skills I foresee being very useful. I will however keep an ever watching eye on him."
Breymeer pauses and takes a deep breath before continuing, "The following story is for the most trusted ears only and I ask that we retire to a comfortable setting where I can revive my story over a glass of whiskey. If you don't object, I ask that Bellina be present."
The baroness maintains a stoic face for a moment while seemingly studying Breymeer and reflecting upon his remarks. “Captain Gelpas, send a runner for Belina.”
Captain Gelpas steps down from the dais. While walking past Breymmer, he pauses and places his hand on the ranger’s shoulder, “It is good to have to you back captain.” With that he continues quickly out of the chamber to complete the task given him.
“Pelltar, my trusted advisor,” begins Baroness Andrella.
“Yes, Baroness. I believe Dalic and I have some business to attend to in my tower.” The baroness nods as Pelltar stands and he and Dalic leave the chamber leaving Captain Breymeer and Baroness Andrella alone.
“Come with me captain.” Baroness Andrella stands and removes a key from her gown and walks to a door at the rear of the dais. Breymeer climbs the dais and accompanies her through the door once unlocked.
The door opens to a windowless stone hallway lit by torches in sconces. The hallway turns immediately 90 degrees to the left. The left wall is lined with six doors not counting the one Breymeer just walked through. The end of the hallway turns left again and disappears from view. Judging by the distance, it is likely the outer wall of the castle.
The baroness leads Breymeer down the hallway to the fourth door on the left. Unlocking it with the same key, she enters a small room, ten feet wide and twenty feet deep. There is a door on the far end of the room. The center of the room has a large table and four padded chairs. The side walls have comfortable looking divans against them. The walls have murals on them; the left being that of the castle while the right is of the nearby countryside. Finally in one corner of the room is a small table with several bottles and glasses upon it.
Almost immediately, a woman enters. She is kindly in appearance. “What may I get you Baroness?” she asks.
“I will have water but please pour our good captain a whiskey.”
The servant does as instructed, bringing the beverages to the center table where the ranger and the baroness take seats in the padded chairs.
The baroness introduces the woman to Breymeer, “This is Marie, Captain Gelpas’ wife. And this, Marie, is Captain Breymeer of our rangers.” Marie gives a polite bow, “My husband has spoken well of you Captain Breymeer.” With that, she gives a second slight bow and exits the room.
Breymeer and the baroness make small talk for a few minutes until Belina arrives; guided by Marie. Belina dismisses Marie, and pours two whiskeys. She sits next to Breymeer and places one drink in front of herself and the other in front of Breymeer to replace the now empty glass he holds.
Breymeer shares with Belina and the baroness the battle with the wolf beast and how he was injured by it. He explains the killings and his belief that he is responsible for them though he does not remember anything about the events other than vague haunting dreams. Breymeer explains how his friends aided him in attempting to cure himself of the lycanthropy and his intent to make right the unintentional harm he caused. Finally, Breymeer asks the baroness if she has any advice for him.
“I know little of lycanthropy. You may wish to seek counsel from Almax the druid. He is a trusted friend.”
Breymeer continues, "What gets me through each day is the knowledge that the evil acts committed were not my doing but caused by evil forces. I have taken revenge and killed the creature that caused my evil acts and have sought a cure for the force that took over my body. I will continue to make sure I am cured and continue to fight for those oppressed by similar forces. I will continue to banish evil forces from the land.”
The ranger takes a sip of the whiskey, “As for the inn keeper’s lives and farmers that lost their stock, nothing I do will heal the human losses, or the weight I bear for having a hand in it. I have left those effected with financial support and will continue to make sure they want for nothing. I intend to monitor the lives of those affected either in person or through hired couriers and they will find themselves taken care of."
Breymeer ends his words by standing up and slamming a fist on the table, "I will delve into the depths of hell and do everything in my power to defeat evil....and Nebub….and anything else that gets in my way or die trying......and time will tell if that's enough to put me at ease." Breymeer downs the rest of his whiskey.
For a moment, Breymeer’s hands begin to transform, his palms grow thicker and broader while his fingers shorten. His face begins to draw into a snout as he lets out a forceful growl that rattles the bottles on the table in the corner of the room.
Baroness Andrella leaps backwards and draws a dagger in the same instant while beginning to mutter something Breymeer doesn’t understand.
Belina leaps up and draws forth her sword in a flash of steel. She nimble moves around the table; taking up a position between the baroness and the ranger. She holds he blade out towards Breymeer, “Hold Breymeer, we are your allies.”
As quickly as it came on, Breymeer’s features return to normal.
Putting his hands up and putting on a trusting, partially smiling fact, Breymeer assures the two women, “Fear not my trusted friends. It is not the evil force you just witnessed, but the powers of the cloak upon my shoulders. I have learned to control its power over time; a power created by worshippers of the Suel deity Llerg. It is the same cloak that turned me into a bear allowing me to have the power to defeat the wolf beast and ending the beast’s evil once and for all. I assure you there is no threat. Please, return to your seats.”
Belina slowly lowers her sword as Breymeer sits back down. He empties his whiskey and nods towards the bottle on the far table indicating his wish to have another.
The baroness remains standing, seemingly studying Breymeer’s face. Belina remains on guard for a short period of time before walking, sword still in hand, slowly to the whiskey bottle on the far table.
Belina carries the bottle over to Breymeer though she keeps the table between them. She sets the bottle on the table and Breymeer calmly pours himself another drink. “I think a visit to Almax is in order my dear Breymeer,” is all she manages to say.
Jandre spends the afternoon checking on the troops marshalled in the field north of town.
Ergon and Seeler each spend some time purchasing gear before returning to the inn for a meal and some beer.
Tathar, Morwen, Isiaweil, Esned, Lexington, Ek, Markus, and Vicros all head directly to the inn.
The Inn of the Dying Minotaur is a large inn. It is all of eighty feet wide and forty-five feet across. A modest stable sits behind the inn. The inn has two stories. The left-hand side of the main floor is the common room. The right-hand side contains the kitchen, owner and servant quarters and several rental rooms. The upstairs of the inn is all rental rooms. The inn has thirteen rental units.
The common room has a double door entry. The heavy wood doors open outwardly. The bar extends forward, from just right of the entry doors, nearly the length of the room; some thirty feet. It is lined with sixteen barstools; fifteen along its length and one at the far end. Centered on the wall behind the bar is a stuffed head of a minotaur. A large heavy rectangular wood table sits in the center of the room, ahead and slightly left of one entering the room from outside. It can easily sit a dozen people. On the near and far end of the rectangular table are two smaller circular tables; each seating eight people. To the left of the door is a smaller rectangular table that seats six. On the left wall are two rectangular tables that seat eight each. Between the tables on the west wall is a large fireplace. On the north wall, across the room from the entry door, are two more rectangular tables that seat eight each. Finally, in the corners to the near and far left side are round tables that seat ten each. The room is can sit 102 people.
The owner of the inn, one Gellcuff, is a talkative man of Suel decent. He comes across very friendly if not slightly cracked. He often claims to have slain the minotaur mounted on the wall single-handedly though the story often changes in details. He dresses in simple clothing topped with an open front brown leather vest. On his belt is sheathed a dagger.
Gellcuff has two serving girls working the bar area. Both are of Suel blood; commoners in appearance though both attractive enough. This being one of the better eateries in town, both young women make a decent living.
The rooms are very clean and comfortable. Gellcuff has a relatively large selection of food items to choose from and all are of fine quality. His ales, beer, wine and mead are all of fine quality.
Gellcuff is obviously proud of his inn and he runs the business very soberly regardless of his somewhat strange personality.
Currently, the inn is sparsely populated. A couple of local men sit together at the bar eating. The waitresses are busying themselves cleaning the tables and moping the floor. Gellcuff is not in sight.
Baroness Andrella agrees, “Yes, Breymeer the Bear, Captain of the Restenford Rangers, I very much would like Almax to speak to you about this, er, cloak. I wish to have his opinion in regards to what kind of affect it has on you.”
She walks to the table and pours herself a small glass of whiskey, her hands shaking slightly as she does so, though it is obvious she is trying to hide the adrenaline reaction. She takes a sip before continuing, “You see Captain Breymeer, I have a proposition for you. The western lands near Lo Reltarma remain open and generally unprotected. I wish to grant you the title of Lord Breymeer and direct you to build a castle in the highlands overlooking the plains and western road.”
“Does this interest you?” The baroness studies Breymeer’s face while she waits his answer.
Breymeer looks at the Baroness with an appreciative and humbled look, “I am honored and humbled by your offer Baroness. And, yes, I accept and pledge to fulfill your requests to the best of my ability. And request I also have the opportunity to assist our group in completing our unfinished business. I assure you, a meeting with Almax will happen at the first opportunity.”
Belina looks pleased.
Baroness Andrella clarifies, “Yes, Breymeer, I intend to send you on this mission first. You will have certainly earned the title Lord Breymeer should you complete it. However, I order you to visit Almax immediately upon leaving the castle. Belina will walk you over there.”
She finishes her whiskey with a quick toss back of her head. Though she winces some, she manages to keep her royal composure. “Fair thee well Breymeer. I pray I will see you again in victory and health.”
With that, the baroness exits the room to the hallway.
Belina sheaths her sword and gives Breymeer a smile, “Well now. You have your orders Looord Breymeer.” She draws out the word in jest to her fellow Ranger.
Breymeer begins walking by his fellow Ranger, “We must have time for me to buy you a few more drinks and a steak Belina. Been a long time away from the finer things in life.” He gives her a wink and a smack on the ars.
Belina blushes and winks back but then says in a more serious tone, “I just want to make sure I don’t end up the steak. We shall go directly to Almax and then the inn. I promise. If it gets too late, we can skip dinner and you can tuck me into bed.”
Belina leads Breymeer the Bear out of the castle. She turns towards the eastern hill.
The duo walks past the Tavern of the West Wind before turning north and climbing the small hill upon which rests the Almax family home.
They walk past some peasant housing before entering the small grove that houses Almax home. Just outside the grove, to the east, is a second house that houses a widowed woman. A sheltered grove of deciduous trees form a relatively tight circle behind the house. A small path leads to, and disappears into, the grove.
Almax is in the yard tending to some autumn flower gardens and pruning some roses. He looks up and greets you warmly, “What do the two leading Rangers wish of a simple man?”
Eventually Amox, Almax son whom with the group travelled with previously, exits the home with a pitcher of water and several glasses. Strangely, he is dressed in studded leather armor and has his scimitar sheathed on his belt. Almax exits behind his son.
Amos sets the water down on the table and takes up a position at the front door of the house.
Almax sits at the table with Belina and Breymeer.
Breymeer speaks first, “I have no doubt you will be able to help after the way the Baroness explained your character. Please understand, I expect nothing and appreciate your efforts. There are a couple of other items on which I could use your expertise if you choose to oblige. My constitution has taken a hit and maybe you could help me determine how to regain my health. I also have this sea hag’s dagger and this leaf ring which I came upon in my travels.” Breymeer shows both items to Almax.
“I have an inkling that the ring can help my vision but other than that, I know nothing about the items and maybe upon your inspection, you could shed some light as to their value and possible abilities.”
“Once your inspections are complete, please set with me and Belina and let us talk of less serious and more enjoyable topics. I have a very fine bottle of whiskey I would like to share with you.”
Finally, Breymeer concludes, “As you may know Master Almax, I am a steward of the land and respect all things wild. Please, if you wish, educate me on the plants you have in this impressive garden and specifically the ones that can be of medicinal value. We are about to attempt to confront Nebub, would you have anything in your garden that could be of assistance to me and my companions during the next stage of our journey? I expect we will be challenged by all things evil and predict the need for healing against everything imaginable.”
Almax shortens Breymeer’s list some, “I have little in the knowledge of magic and weaponry. I would suggest you speak to Pelltar in reference to those items. Or even your own Lexington Krupps. He may be of assistance.”
“I may be able to help with your lost health,” Almax smiles warmly before allowing the kind gesture to fade, “First we shall deal with your possible wolf-curse.”
Almax attempts to ease the situation, “I have my son here for fear the beast takes over Breymeer. In the event it does, my son and I will first attempt to make peace with the beast. However, should it rage, we will defend our hearth and home. Belina, as a servant of Baroness Andrella, I expect your assistance as well.”
After letting the sobering information settle upon Breymeer’s mind, he continues, “I wish to examine your shape changing. I have some knowledge in this realm. Shall we continue?”
Once the serving girls have taken the orders and headed for the bar, the group begins to relax a little bit.
It is then that Vicros makes a statement, “I am honored to have been spoken for so favorably. However, I have thought more about the adventure you are about to take part in. I fear I may be more of a hindrance that of value. You have travelled together for some time. I know not where I would fit in. I am going to remain here in Restenford and learn of the local history. I would surely enjoy spending the evening drinking and entertaining with you fine people if allowed.”
<Vicros has chosen to sit out this adventure do to the player’s busy schedule.>
“Proceed my good man,” is Breymeer’s reply.
Almax requests Breymeer to exhibit the changing of man to bear using the powers of the cloak. Breymeer focuses on the bear within him and completes the transformation into a very large bear; nearing 10’ tall. Almax is intrigued but by no means startled by the sudden transformation.
Breymeer remains in control of his mind during the tests. Belina and Amos stand by at the ready should something amiss happen. Having done as told, Breymeer turns back into his human form.
“There are several ways for which a man can change into a beast. Your cloak, for example is one. The curse of lycanthropy is another. You seem to have been affected by both. There are yet other ways in which a man enters the animal realm though they are not our focus today.”
“Captain Breymeer, would you try something for me?” questions Amax. “Would you please remove the cloak and then make your most valiant effort to change back into a bear. Focus on the energies you have felt during your transformations whether they were to a bear or a wolf.”
Both Ergon and Seeler go about their business of restocking their adventuring supplies.
Seeler gathers up everything he believes he needs before he is drawn back to the inn for food and beverage.
Ergon also gathers supplies but then walks to the encampment on the north end of Restenford. There he finds Jandre and requests of the priest holy water.
Jandre agrees, “Yes. For where we are about to travel, holy water seems appropriate. It will take me a couple days to try and find Pholtus favor. May we be blessed with his gifts. Return tomorrow evening.”
Ergon then returns to the inn.
The group is just finishing up with their meal and making their second or third beverage order when Seeler, the dwarf, enters the establishment and takes up a seat at the table to the south of the fireplace. One table away from the Tathar and crew.
Seeler orders an enormous plate of food and does not hesitate to dive into the drinking.
Later, maybe an hour or so after Seeler arrived, Ergon enters the building and follows suit; placing a food and beverage order. He sits at the table with Seeler, on the side facing the exterior door.
By this time, several other townfolk have started to enter the building. A group of fisherman entered and are then joined by Zahrdahl, the fish dealer who had accompanied the group north to Grest. During that adventure the party faced off against a horde of hobgoblins, burning down the barn at Zerman’s crossing in the process. They sit at the table to the north of the bar; in the northeastern end of the common room.
Perk, the town bowyer, enters and takes a seat at the southern end of the bar. Perk, a high elf, gives a respectful nod to Tathar as he scans the room and sits to order.
The waitresses busy themselves about the room. Gellcuff has since returned to man the bar and spin his tales.
The group only now awaits Breymeer and Belina.
Breymeer removes the bear skinned cloak, “I will attempt the bear transformation without my cloak as you request though I do not believe it will work.”
“However, if there is any chance during our attempts of the wolf form coming back, I would request more warriors standing by.”
“My dear Breymeer,” begins Almax, “I would not endanger the town should I think you would be transforming into a wolf. In any event, the three of us are not easily trifled with.”
“From what you have described to me, I believe you will not become a wolf. However, I do fear there is something more to you than meets the eye.”
Breymeer, having been convinced Almax knows what he is doing, attempts to transform into a bear. At first, the ranger does not have much of an inkling that anything will happen. But, quickly, Breymeer recognizes the now recognizable feeling of transformation.
Breymeer finds himself once again in bear form. He finds himself to have the body of a grizzly bear, standing some 7 ½ feet tall. Breymeer has his own mind and recognizes Belina, Almax and Amos as friends. In fact, he finds his bond to them strong, knowing they are protectors of the woodland realm as is he.
Almax smiles at Breymeer the bear, “Now, my friend, change back please.”
Breymeer finds he, without much effort, returns to his human form.
Almax greets him again, “Dear Breymeer, I feel the powers of nature, or possibly even the hand of Llerg, have been twisted upon you. Whether it was the werewolf’s curse, the Llerg bear cloak or a combination of both, I believe you have become a werebear. Not cursed, mind you, but a true master with control over the beast.”
<Breymeer’s alignment changed to Chaotic-Good>
Breymeer questions, “Werebear? I feel I have much more control of this change that has been set upon me. My dear Almax, the more I know the better. What can you tell me, if anything, about unique abilities, limitations and dangers that I can expect to deal with when changed?”
Almax takes a breath. “Well, the good news is, I believe you will remain an trusted friend to the barony. Though I believe you to remain independent of thought, your heart will remain in the right place. A keep on the edge of the barony may be just the place for you after all.”
“Be warned though! If I am correct, the ability to change is in your blood and soul now. Should you claw or bite someone, there is a chance you may bring them into your fold. Also, any children you bear will most certainly carry this trait with them as well.”
“Obviously, your fellow man may find this situation a curse and most difficult to comprehend. Those you seek to protect may turn on you. I would keep this revelation most private. You can trust we here will keep it sheltered as long as you are honorable to your oath to the barony.”
“I believe you will not be beholden to the moon since that part of the curse has left you after your friends intervened with prayer. Nor should you, with luck, be drawn into a blood lust that overwhelms your mind.”
“It is in your best interest to keep your cloak and hide your powers with it. Those around you are used to its ability to change you. Let them continue to believe so. Trust no one else with this lest you open yourself to betrayal.”
Almax’s serious look fades into a smile, “Now my good ranger captain. Pour us some of that fine whiskey and let us walk among the garden and I shall pick you items for your healer’s pouch. As for your constitution, unless you are simply looking for some healing of wounds, I believe you will have to return to me at another time. I can research your request and see what I learn.”
“What again is it that caused your ill health?”
Breymeer answers the druid, “Ever since my visit to Valhalla, I have felt a slight weight upon me. For a time, I passed from my body and visited the halls of my fallen fathers. Since my return, I feel not whole.”
Almax smiles and places his hand upon Breymeer’s shoulder as the ranger pours out several glasses of fine whiskey; handing them out as he does so. The druid speaks soothingly, “Dear Breymeer, I will see what I can do to help you and hopefully have an answer for you upon your return. Understand though, you only escaped death for a time. It will, one day, find you again. Your feelings may just be a gentle reminder that we all shall find entrance to our father’s halls one day whether we wish it or not.”
Breymeer nods understanding and holds up his glass in a silent toast. Almax, Amos and Belina all join him in turning their glassed up. Breymeer refreshes each cup as the four of them walk among the garden.
Almax gathers up several herbs and spices that he feels will aid Breymeer; giving him a quick tutorial on the uses of each. Finally, he gives Breymeer some Belladonna. “If the wolf should find you again, this may help save you. Eat it all but then prepare for its side effects. They are a rough row to hoe. Do not eat more than I have given you or it may be even more harmful to you.”
The foursome finish in the garden. Breymeer stows what remains of his bottle and he and Belina bid the father and son goodbye. Almax calls out to Breymeer as he walks away, “Come back dear Breymeer once your mission is complete. I shall give you lessons in botany.” Breymeer looks over his shoulder and nods to the affirmative. His gaze remains for a moment on the beauty of the gardens and trees under Almax care. Taking a breath of resolve, the ranger breaks his gaze, smiles at the druid and turns boldy towards his destiny.
The two leaders of the Restenford Rangers descend the hill and walk to the Dying Minotaur to join their friends in a final night of rest before setting out to bring low Nebub, Duke of Kroten.
After what seems like an extended delay, but not more than an hour or two after Seeler and Ergon arrive, Breymeer and Belina walk in together. Breymeer scans the room and gives a respectful nod towards the local townfolk that live under the protection he helps provide.
As Breymeer and Belina entered the inn, Ergon and Seeler rose from their seats. As the couple approach the table, the paladin and the dwarf give the rangers a warm greeting. All four warriors sit after Breymeer and Belina are invited to join. To make up for the tactical disadvantage arriving last has given them, Breymeer and Belina turn their seats so that the sit with the exterior door at the edge of their peripheral vision.
It is quickly approaching the supper hour and more locals are starting to fill in. At this point, other than Perk, the bowyer, and Zahrhahl, the fish peddler, no one of much interest to the party has arrived.
Lastly, Jandre enters about supper time. Jandre sits near Ergon at the end of the table.
The group is now reunited in the Inn of the Dying Minotaur. It is near the 6pm hour on Harvester the 26th in the year 578.
As Breymeer and Belina entered the inn, Ergon and Seeler rose from their seats. As the couple approach the table, the paladin and the dwarf give the rangers a warm greeting. All four warriors sit after Breymeer and Belina are invited to join.
It is quickly approaching the supper hour and more locals are starting to fill in. At this point, other than Perk, the bowyer, and Zahrhahl, the fish peddler, no one of much interest to the party has arrived.
Breymeer is apparently feeling pretty good after, by the smell of his breath, quite a few shots of whiskey in the last couple hours. He approaches all of the members of his group with a warm smile and pats them on the back, “Please gather around this table as close as we can.” He points to the round table in the northwest corner where Ek, Lexington, Seeler and Ergon are seated.
Belina takes a seat near Ek, leaving room for Breymeer between her and the drow elf.
Since Vicros has decided to stay in town, he moves away from the tables and takes a seat at the bar near the fish dealer.
Esned moves over and joins the round table to the left of Seeler. The gnome sits noticeably closer to the dwarf than he does the drow elf. Jandre also joins the round table, in between Ergon and Seeler. Jandre's position is not only next to his fellow Pholtus follower, it is near directly across from Ek.
Tathar and Morwen join Isiaweil and Markus on the north side of the long table sitting between the fireplace and the northwest round table.
Breymeer walks to the bar while the party situates itself as requested. On Breymeer’s return, he stops at the long table and pours four shots of fine whiskey from his long-treasured bottle. He hands the elvenfolk each a shot before returning to the round table and pouring each tablemate there a shot. He uses up the remaining contents of the bottle before handing everyone a glass.
In a low voice, just loud enough for the group that is tight around him to hear, Breymeer reveals, “My friends, some great weight has been lifted off my shoulders and it does my heart good to be here with all of you now.”
Breymeer looks everyone in the eye and states, “I have figured some things out and I tell you now, you can trust me and I am completely devoted to finding and dealing with Nebub. Raise a glass my friends and let’s plan how to take this son of a bitch out.” Breymeer holds up his glass in hopes everyone salutes in confirmation of being all in.
Esned quickly raises his glass, “I’ll drink to that!”
Ek looks toward Breymeer. Without removing his hood, Ek takes the shot.
Seeler stands and salutes with his glass towards Breymeer as he nearly shouts, “I agree, let’s get this son-of-a-bitch!”
Ergon, more refined, agrees with a salute of his glass.
Belina raises her glass, “Though I will be staying back to watch over the area, my spirit is with you.”
Jandre is in and, along with the rest of the party, he quietly takes his shot.
While the shots are being consumed, Breymeer scans the room before requesting, “Does anyone have a map we can use to aid us in our planning?”
Belina pulls out two parchments. She spreads them out on the round table in the middle of the group. “These are for you to take with you Captain Breymeer.” She smiles warmly at him; her emotion for the man showing before she collects herself, “The first is a general overview of the Lendore Island. The second is a partial map of the Kroten area. On the Kroten map, the road north of Restenford begins at Grest. The road west of Kroten travels to the southwest to Pelreltarma and Loreltarma before turning back east to Lake Farmin and Restenford area.”
Breymeer gathers up the maps and tucks them away, “I would like to eat first and them maybe we can find a more private area to discuss plans.”
Breymeer hails a waitress with the wave of his hand and a quick bird-like whistle.
To Breymeer – While the party is taking their shots, Breymeer catches sight of the fish dealer. Zahrdahl appears to be paying extra attention to the group though the men with him appear more oblivious; only looking over as Seeler gives his enthusiastic toast.
Lexington, being the youngest of the group by far, being in his late teens, doesn’t talk much. His youthfulness and upbringing as a bookworm lend to more of an observational stance in these social situations. His experience adventuring though doesn’t lend him to be easily spooked. He knows his powers in the magical arts has grown.
Lexington does not take his shot in one gulp. He sips the drink instead; doing his best to hide his gag reflex in hopes the more senior members do not see.
As Breymeer finishes talking and calls over the waitress, Lex downs the rest of the whiskey in his glass in one pull and responds in an embarrassingly whispery voice from the burning effects of the liquor, “Yhesss! Bring the fhooood!”
He looks around as the reactions of the group as they hear his failed attempt at sounding tough then slouches back in his chair.
Breymeer places his order with the waitress and then stands. He walks across the bar towards the front door where he takes a position at the bar next to Perk, the bowyer.
Morwen smiles kindly at Lexington’s embarrassment before standing herself. She removes her baliset and begins to strum it lightly. She moves back to the fireplace side of the long table.
Tathar followers her and they both take their original seats again. As they are sitting down, Krelar, the warrior-priest of Phaulkon from the town abbey enters the inn. After a quick glance around, he spies the group gathered around the northwest corner. He moves directly to the corner as if he was looking to find y’all here.
Morwen’s music is slowly getting louder. The patrons of the inn appear very pleased to be graced by her talents this evening. Most happy are the bar owner and his waitresses as the music promises to bring in a decent crowd.
Krelar approaches the round table and asks Belina, “Good evening Ranger Belina.” Krelar looks around the table and gives a nod of his head or a hello to each of the group that he had traveled with and fought beside. Some of those at the table he does not recognize though he remains unguarded about their presence. “May I have a moment of all of your time?”
Ergon gives Seeler a nudge drawing the dwarf’s attention away from his brew. Seeler looks at the paladin with a hurt expression until he sees Ergon motion to him to stand.
Ergon introduces himself to Krelar and extends his hand in friendship. Krelar returns the handshake. Seeler cleans the froth out of his beard and wipes his hand on his trousers before extending it to Krelar. With a polite smile, Krelar shakes the dwarf’s hand as well.
As the three are exchanging pleasantries, the inn door opens and Felix, a mercenary living in town, and his gorgeous girlfriend, Orella, enter. They both smile as they see the music is indeed coming from the famed Morwen Alcerin. They quickly sit at the table just left of the entrance door.
Breymeer buys Perk, the bowyer, a drink and speaks with him for a few minutes. They converse back and forth for appearing to be talking of archery and bows. They shake hands and Breymeer departs; returning to the group at the northwest table.
Breymeer leans into Belina and whispers in her ear. She looks over his shoulder very slightly in the direction of Zahrdahl, the fish dealer. She whispers something back to Breymeer. Breymeer looks next to Ek, “If the fish dealer leaves suddenly, see if you can follow him. Find out where he goes and if he talks to anyone.”
It appears at the moment that Zahrdahl is content speaking with a few of the local fishermen. They are relatively dirty and smell of one that works around fish all day. Even Zahrdahl isn’t overly well dressed. He appears to do well enough to make a living but his manner of dress is only that of a common man.
Morwen continues to play and sing. It is obvious she has already won over the crowd. Many, like the three men at the bar, have nearly given up speaking amongst themselves and generally sit mesmerized absent-mindedly sipping their beverage.
Under the cover of the music, Krelar leans into the table and speaks, “I am here, as directed by Almon, head priest at the Abbey of Phaulkon, to request a meeting with the away team that is traveling to the Kroten area. Almon believes he have some information that may come in useful to you. In addition, it will give you a more private area to plan without having to worry about spying eyes or eavesdropping ears.”
Krelar pauses and looks cautiously around the room, though in a manner that seems relaxed; as if he was taking the time to look upon Morwen and listen for a moment to her voice. He continues, “I would like to accompany the group. Please consider this offer. You may stop in at the abbey any time before you leave.”
Breymeer – Perk believes he may have what you are looking at for a bow. He invites you to stop into his shop tomorrow and have a look around. If nothing else, he offers to make you a bow to your expectations.
When Breymeer questions Belina about Zahrdahl, she replies, “He has been around town for some time dealing in fish. I know him not well. He has always been a bit suspicious but he seems to do a fair business. He knows most of the dock workers and fishermen by name.”
It isn’t long before word of Morwin’s music gets around. The inn begins to fill quickly. Mostly, it consists of local residence. Pheldman, the half-elven store owner, is one of them. He is an importer of fine food and drink from the main lands. Pheldman is getting old, even though he has some elvish in his bloodline. He is ancient by human standards, having lived long enough to know the great-great-great grandfather of some of the townsfolk.
As with any port town, even as small as Restenford, there are a few folks that are not from town, or even Lake Farmin for that matter. Some come in or leave by ship, never staying long enough to leave a name. Of those in the bar this evening, the adventurers make up the majority of them. Ek, the slim and shady elf sitting at the edge of shadow in the back of the room, Vicros, a half-elf drifter. He, like Morwen, is a musician and story-teller. He seems to be in the crowd whenever Morwen plays. Then there is the somewhat fanatical holy men of Pholtus that migrated here with a small army from Nyrond. They are far too rigid for the local independent minded populace to handle; if it were not for the comfort having one hundred well trained military professionals camped at the edge of town. Markus, the half-elf battle priest of Kord. Markus has begun to distance himself as the evening goes on. He seems lost in thought.
Not long after Pheldman arrives, Cholak, the dwarven warrior priest, enters the bar. He nods to the party and takes a seat at an open table in the middle of the north wall, directly between the party and the fishmonger, Zahrdahl.
Outside the bar, many locals that can not afford the spare copper for a beverage, start to gather outside the inn. The sound of Morwen’s voice and baliset carry well enough to the street. Gellcuff, the innkeeper, doesn’t seem to mind because in no time, it is standing room only inside.
The evening continues to pass.
Lexington watches Pheldman enter and take a seat next to Perk. Lexington, until beginning his adventuring career with this party, spent all of his time learning magic and studying ancient languages and histories. He hurries across the room to take a seat next to the old half-elf before the seat is taken. He is intrigued to glean information and knowledge from someone who has lived so many years.
Perk and Pheldman both look up at the arrival of Lexington. A conversation begins.
To Lexington: Pheldman is the first to speak, breaking the ice, “Mr. Krupps I presume.” A warm smile is upon his face.
Seeler gets up just after Lexington leaves the table. The dwarf excuses himself and moves one table away to where Cholak sits by himself. Seeler asks the warrior/priest if he may sit with him at his table.
Markus also gets up from his chair. He walks over to the north end of the bar and takes up a position on Vicros’ right side. The two begin chatting.
Breymeer motions for Krelar to sit at the table. Ergon moves to his right filling Lexington’s place while Jandre moes to Ergon’s seat to make room for Krelar.
Krelar sits between Esned and Jandre. Krelar greets Esned the gnome with a quick nod of his head. Breymeer leans forward and speaks to him. Krelar listens a while longer to the music, looks around, and continues the conversation.
To those at the northwest table: Breymeer leans forward a little and asks Krelar, “What do you know of Zahrdahl?” Krelar takes a brief moment to glace over to Morwen playing. Once he is satisfied no one but those at the table are listening, he speaks, “He hasn’t drawn a lot of unwanted attention to himself. He deals mainly at the docks. He leaves town now and then for Loreltarma. ‘Doing business’ is what reason he claims. I trust him not. However, he may have some connections in the capital that could be useful.”
Markus, after a short conversation with Vicros, moves over to the table with the dwarves. He takes a seat with Cholak and Seeler; having his back to the adventuring group in the northwest table. Markus faces the table with the fishmonger and the three fisherman.
Vicros returns to listening to Morwen play.
To Lex: Lexington replies, “Hello sir. Please pardon the intrusion of a mere child. I see that you are a man of many years and I can only assume those years have brought knowledge and wisdom. In my short life, I have studied intensely in the area of ancient language and history. The chance to gain knowledge directly from someone who has seen things that happened long before my great-great-great-great grandfather was alive is too much for me to resist. If it isn’t a burden to you sir, I would love to hear any stories, legends and myths about this region that you would be willing to share.”
As Lexington speaks, he positions himself in the most tactical way possible to protect himself from possible pick pockets as the inn gets more and more crowded.
Pheldman smiles at the upstart, “Well now, how can I pass up such an offer to regale you with a tale or two.”
Pheldman looks away to watch Morwen for a moment. “Tonight, in this crowd, may not be the best time for storytelling. However, if you wish to swing by my shop tomorrow, I will speak with you then.”
He watches Morwen for a moment again and then finishes, “However, I am soon travelling to Loreltarma, so you best stop in soon or you will have to wait until I return.”
Morwen’s music continues to ramp up in intensity. She strums the baliset effortlessly while blending her voice to the instrument in a way that is becoming alien to the non-elven in the room.
Around the room, the common folk have all but stopped talking. They have more and more been entranced by Morwen; staring slack jawed while their drinks and nearby friends go unnoticed.
In the street, the crowd has gathered around the entire front of the inn and filled the street for some distance. As Morwen begins to play more intensely, those in the street continue to grow in number. All this despite the damp, cool evening.
Ek, sitting with his back to the wall, has all but blended into the dark. His dark complexion blending well in the dark corner. His white hair completely hidden by the deep hood on his cloak that he has pulled down low over his forehead.
Breymeer and Belina have slowly migrated into each other. Belina appears to have become somewhat emotional from the music and has uncharacteristically place her head lightly on Breymeer’s left shoulder, pushing her torso into his in the process.
Ergon and Jandre absent mindedly listen along. Opposite the table from Ek, they are nearly his opposite. Both proud shining examples of the diety of light.
Krelar, who had been talking to Breymeer about Zarhdahl, has forgotten the conversation and turned his back to the table to watch the elf maiden.
Esned happily sits enjoying being back among some of the traveling companions of his past.
Seeler sits idly by as Cholak and Markus continue what appears to be an important conversation.
Isiaweil, suffering from a weakened will, a traumatic brain injury and having been brought back from the dead under White Plume Mountain, almost seems at peace as he relaxes in his chair.
Tathar, in a strangeness that has only become common with Tathar, slowly pushes his chair back. Wearing his black face and moon pained eyes, he takes a knee and slowly rotating around the room because what appears to be an elvish prayer. He holds his holy symbol ahead of himself. All of this would normally bring about a strange reaction from the crowd, however, the common folk have becomes used to the strange little elf’s odd behaviors. In addition, his behavior is not worth taking their eyes and ears off of his elven companion strumming the baliset.
Zahrdahl stands and excuses himself from the table. The three fisherman hardly notice his exit. Zahrdahl appears to struggle a bit to break himself from watching the elf maiden as he approaches the bar. After hailing several times, he is finally able to secure three drinks. He hands over several coins and approaches the NW table slowly, trying not to spill in the crowded room.
Reaching the adventurer’s table, he greets them kindly; tending to ignore the nearby Sehanine priest’s strange prayer. He hands Breymeer a fresh whiskey and Esned another beverage as well. The third he holds aloft ahead of himself. “Before the night ends, I wanted to make sure to take a moment to thank both of you again for keeping me safe at Zerman’s crossing when I traveled north with you. You kept me safe from the hobgoblin horde that raided us in the barn.”
Belina only removes her head from Breymeer’s shoulder long enough for him to quaff the whiskey as Zahrdahl finishes his. It appears to be an honest show of respect and thanks. Esned smiles warmly as he takes the second mug. His large nose appearing to become a little red with the intoxicating liquids stirring in his blood. Zahrdahl’s attention fails him and he stands blankly watching the elven musician. Breymeer gives a nod of thanks and leans back allowing Belina to settle back into his arm.
Lex smiles and says, “Thank you sir. I will stop by tomorrow, as in my adventuring ways, I know not when I may see you again.” He will then take to listening to Morwen’s lilting melodies with the old man and look about the establishment enjoying some people watching time. He is quickly swept into the sweet melody.
Felix’s girlfriend has begun to wipe tears from her eyes.
Morwen plays on; ramping up the intensity as she continues to play.
Tathar: Tathar completes his spell and very slowly examines the room, specifically, Ek and Zahrdahl. Surprisingly, the drow elf does not appear to have an evil slant to him. However, Zahrdahl carries with him an aura of mistrust and deceit.
As the evening moves on, Morwen returns to playing her Baliset and singing.
It is well known that the elves are the most talented musicians in the land. It is said that they do not play their best when around other races because their best music would ruin others enjoyment of lesser quality music performed by humans or gnomes etc. Given the elves' love for music, they would never want to detract from the other races' enjoyment of it, even if it's a lesser quality.
Whether it's the liquor that has been flowing or something else, it's hard to say, but it is obvious that there's been a change in Morwen's music.
The music from her baliset is deeper and richer and almost seems that there are multiple instruments being played at once. Her voice is richer and more full then has ever been noticed previously with an elvish twang to her singing that is almost haunting.
She sings of an elven maiden's love for her childhood sweetheart. The times that they spent frolicking in the woods and swimming in rivers in their childhood.
As all is going well, but as they grow into adulthood, something changes in her sweetheart and he leaves for foreign lands never to be seen again.
The elf maiden waits for many years for her true love to return, but when it becomes apparent that he will not, she grabs her cloak, and travel bag and sets out on her own, to find him.
The song ends explaining how the elvin maiden travels dusty roads for the rest of her life never finding her true love, her heartbreaking as she leaves every town until she just wanders off into the sunset never to be seen again.
As Morwen stops playing there is silence in the bar that is overpowering. Everybody except Tathar, is staring at her. Drinks are held loosely in hands, totally forgotten about. Mouths are agape, and the two barmaids, standing and holding their trays, are weeping openly. Tathar, for his part, is staring at the table.
Morwen, sensing the silence, looks up and sees the reaction of every patron in the bar. Realizing that she may have pushed the musical envelope too far, she smiles faintly looks down and says "goodnight" to the crowd. She then glides across the floor with elvin grace, never looking back, and leaves for her room.
The rest of the bar remains in their stupor for several more moments before the barkeep finally clears his throat and asks if anybody would like something else to drink. This seems to stir people out of there dazed state and everything returns to normal.
Tathar, finishes his drink, and stands to excuse himself for the night. His black-painted face with white orbs around his eyes, his adventuring war-mask, hides any expression.
Morwen begins to play a ballad in the elvish language.
It is well known that the elves are the most talented musicians in the land. It is said that they do not play their best when around other races because their best music would ruin other’s enjoyment of lesser quality music performed by the other races. Given the elves' love for music, they would never want to detract from non-elves enjoyment of it, even if it is of a lower standard than their own.
Whether it's the liquor that has been flowing or something else, it's hard to say, but it is obvious that there's been a change in Morwen's music as the evening wore on. It becomes undeniable as she begins her ballad.
The music from her baliset is deeper and richer so that it seems that there are multiple instruments being played at once. Her voice beautifully blends with the baliset. It is more full than has ever been noticed; with an elvish timbre to her singing that is haunting.
She sings of an elven maiden's love for her childhood sweetheart. The times that they spent frolicking in the woods and swimming in rivers in their childhood.
As all is going well, but as they grow into adulthood, something changes in her sweetheart and he leaves for foreign lands never to be seen again.
The elf maiden waits for many years for her true love to return, but when it becomes apparent that he will not, she grabs her cloak and travel bag with which she sets out on her own, to find him.
The song ends explaining how the elf maiden travels dusty roads for the rest of her life never finding her true love, her heartbreaking as she leaves every town until she despondently wanders off into the sunset never to be seen again.
As Morwen stops playing, there is a silence in the bar that is overpowering. Everyone except Tathar, is staring at her. Drinks are held loosely in hands, totally forgotten about. Mouths are agape, and the two barmaids, standing and holding their trays, are weeping openly. Tathar, for his part, is staring at the table.
Morwen, sensing the silence, looks up and sees the reaction of the patrons in the bar. Realizing that she has pushed the musical envelope too far, she smiles faintly looks down and says, "goodnight" Morwen glides across the floor with elvish grace, never looking back, and leaves for her room.
The rest of the bar remains in their stupor. The humans are slow to recover. They stare forward, not in depression or despair but with a deep sadness. The short-lived humans, having for the moment, felt a touch of what a centuries long love could be. Incomprehensible to them, they can only sit in bewilderment at the depth of their feelings. The dwarves, used to big, booming songs that fill cavernous halls, even remain quiet. They watch Morwen exit with repect. Even the elf blooded in the audience appear affected; not having heard such beautiful notes in many years.
Tathar, finishes his drink, and stands to excuse himself for the night. His black-painted face with white orbs around his eyes, his adventuring war-mask, hides any expression.
The crowd slowly finishes their beverages and begin to clear out into the night. The streets have already cleared. Those listening from outside were sobered more quickly by the cool rain.
The room is quiet now.
Zahrdahl, seemingly remembering that he was talking to Breymeer and Esned before being carried away by the ballad, states, “So, anyway, if you should need anything that I can provide, please ask. I feel indebted to you.”
Zahrdahl finishes his glass, nods politely to the group, and walks out into the night.
Perk and Phelman follow him out. Having recovered, they have very satisfied looks on their faces.
Markus, Cholak and Seeler turn their chairs so they may all see the northwest table. Lexington crosses the bar and rejoins the group. Only the adventurers remain, minus Tathar and Morwen.
Markus announces, “Kord has something else he requires of me. I shall not be going with the group. Cholak shall travel in my stead to bring honor to his name.”
Seeler appears pleased another dwarf is again in the group.
Krelar nods respectfully and heads for the door, “See you all at the abbey tomorrow. Come at sundown.”
Lexington passes the rest of the evening in his room studying his books. He strains over spells that have escaped his ability to master. He wakes in his chair, having fallen asleep reading and studying. Seeing it is now morning, he heads over to Pheldman’s shop.
It is a short walk of less than 500 feet from the Dying Minotaur to Pheldman’s store. He is located on the northeast edge of town near where the Pholtus soldiers are encamped. The walk is nice as the sun is out; though a steady breeze blows ashore.
Pheldman greets the young human. The store is not busy at the time so the two chat for much of the morning. The conversation is only broken by an occasional customer.
Pheldman tells Lexington of the Duchy of Kroten. When Pheldman arrived in Restenford, the Duchy of Kroten did not exist. It was an area populated by occasional farmsteads. It was the common year 443 when the Oerid warrior, Lord Kroten, Celestian High Priest Ellisabor and the wizard Delcartis arrived to scout for an area to settle in an attempt to escape the unrest in the Great Kingdom.
They settled in the area of present day Kroten, brining their families there by 449 CY. An inn, a temple to Celestian and a tower for Delcartis were quickly built. The town quickly expanded in trade and size, adding several more inns and establishing a town guard unit. The guard unit was created with a tax organized by Febartus, Lord Kroten’s son.
Chestella, Febartus wife, gave birth to a son, named Nebub, in 482 CY.
The Celestian chuch sold its church to the followers of Syrul, the deity of deceit. The Celestians left the area, considering it to overgrown for them. This was 490 CY. Within a few years, Ellisabar and Lord Kroten both die of natural causes. Febartus died prior to 500 CY. Delcartis died within the same month (Coldeven, 499).
In 503 CY, Nebub became Mayor of Kroten. Ten years later he began declaring himself Duke Nebub, claiming to have a ‘rightful’ title bestowed upon him on a trip to the Great Kingdom. Those that tried to oppose him or question him disappeared.
He built a Kroten Castle, having it completed by 524 CY.
As soon as it was done, he imported a horde of hobgoblins, assisted by ogres and stone giants, to dig an extension of the Kroten river. The river flowed on one side of the town. The completion of the project had the river flowing both north and south of town. Three thousand feet of river channel were dug.
He also had city walls built until his merchants became near mutinous at the loss of business resulting from having ogres and giants in town. Duke Nebub was furious but actually relented to their wishes. The giant-kind were shown the door but the hobgoblins, now generally civilized, were allowed to stay.
Duke Nebub is nearing 100 years of age, yet he shows very little change from when he was appointed Mayor back in 503 CY.
It is known the duke worships at the Syrul church. He has an association with the northern town of Asmogorgon, where the worship of Syrul is also prevalent. Asmogorgon is an isolated community on the northeast coast of Lendore Island. There is only one road to Asmogorgon and it starts at Kroten. The trail is of minimum maintenance as it travels through the Barrier Mountains. It is well marked but not easily traveled.
Pheldmen then excuses himself from Lexington, “I have to close up now. I need to prepare to travel to Lo Reltarma tomorrow when the Lendore Express leaves port.”
Lexington passes the rest of the day and joins the party at the Phaulkon Abbey in the evening as requested.
Ek does his best to try and keep tabs on Zahrdahl. The merchant went straight to his house after leaving the bar. The next day he appeared to be up to business as usual. He spent the whole day in and around the docks appearing to be conducting his normal course of business; that of a bait and fish dealer.
Breymeer awakes to a hangover. He smiles as he wiggles himself free from the red-headed ranger Belina. She simply rolls aside and lets him go; knowing he is seeking out a new bow this morning.
Captain Breymeer steps out and curses the clear skies as the sun drives daggers into his eyes enraging his headache. A steady breeze blows ashore.
Breymeer travels to the base of the hill that holds Restenford Castle. He continues past the road to the castle towards where the Pholtus soldier encampment. Before the encampment, he enters Perk’s building.
Perk greets the captain warmly. To Breymeer’s surprise, Almax’s son, Amos, is also in the building. No one else appears to be around. Amos has been waiting for Breymeer.
Amos approaches Breymeer and greets him, “Captain Breymeer, I wish to share with you some information. My wife, Janabe, is currently in the Kroten area. She is a druid of Ehlonna. She does not travel alone. She knows who you are and can be trusted to aid you should you come across her path. Her and her group work to the benefit of Restenford. I do not know where she is currently, only that they sought to gain intelligence about the Kroten area.”
Breymeer nods acknowledgement. He has traveled with Amos and knows his character to be true. “What does she look like?” Breymeer asks.
“She is half-elven. She has long brown hair, most often worn in a pony tail. She has brown eyes and fair skin. However, she may be disguised. Also, she travels with her eagle named Keikolah. She would likely only trust you, Belina or Isiaweil should you come across her.”
With that, he respectfully shakes Breymeer’s hand and exits the store.
Perk and Breymeer chat further as the ranger shops for supplies.
By sundown, the party gathers at the Phaulkon Abbey. The main church building, damaged during the raid on Restenford approx. 11 months prior, has been repaired. A new rectory was built where the previous one had been burned to the ground.
Lead priest, Almon, greets the party warmly. Krelar, the church’s warrior, stands by his side in plain clothes. Many of those standing currently before them were on the mission to recover the abbey’s mace; a relic of the Phaulkon church. The other church members are not present.
Almon states sincerely, “We, here at the abbey, are indebted to many of you. It is out of this respect that I offer you the peace and security of this church to prepare for your upcoming mission. I have also given Krelar permission to accompany your group to aid in your cause. Krelar is dedicated to the church, Restenford and your group.”
Krelar concurs, “A great evil lays upon our border. I shall aid your group to victory or give my life in the effort. On Phaulkon’s honor I state this to be true.”
Almon has prepared for the group by setting up a makeshift meeting area. A table has been brought in and pews moved around it to provide seating for the group. There is water and wine in pitchers on the table and goblets for everyone to drink from.
Almon requests all to be seated.
As the group begins to take seats, Almon removes a flask from his pocket and hands it to Captain Breymeer, “I did not think the good captain would suddenly find a taste for wine. I found a little whiskey for you Captain Breymeer.” He hands the ranger a fine crystal flask wrapped in soft dark brown leather. The flask is over-laid with silver in the form of wings draping down both sides of the flask. The neck of the flask, also over-laid in silver, doubles as the neck of an eagle. The silver cap is the head of the eagle with its beak open and an intense look about it. The cap screws into place. The leather wrap has a flap that folds over the top of the crystal and secures into place with a buckle. The craftmanship is exquisite (250gp value).
Breymeer starts the planning. He looks to Krelar first, “Krelar, your support is more appreciated than you can imagine. If Zahrdahl is still in town, I see value in sending some Rangers to gather him up and bring him in for a quick interrogation. It would seem worth the effort to grill him about where his allegiance lies and gain what knowledge he may have about the goings on in Kroten. He may even know the best route there. What do you think Krelar?”
Krelar thinks for a moment before answering, “I think there is wisdom in your statement.”
Ergon, perhaps wishing to keep the Pholtus presence acknowledged, states his agreement.
Breymeer looks to Belina. She simply nods in return and looks at Isiaweil, “Isiaweil, come with me. We have a fish to catch.”
Isiaweil turns and follows her out. The poor half-elf ranger has very little of his personality left. The head injury from the ettin’s blow, loss of will to the undead and getting cut in half by the giant crab under White Plume Mountain has taken its toll on him. Though he was magically brought back, he remains more of a zombie than a ranger. Two things are not questioned about him however, he is forever faithful to his friends and immensely strong in combat.
While the group is waiting for the delivery of one Zahrdahl, Breymeer removes a large ruby and asks anyone in the party if they are able to break for him (1000gp value). The party rummages around a bit but all generally come up empty.
Almon, the head priest, cannot help, “The church has nearly expired it funds rebuilding. I am sorry Captain.”
Belina and Isiaweil return relatively quickly with a somewhat shocked looking Zahrdahl. He appears to have come on his own free will. He does not look nervous. He smells like he has been down on the docks and his clothing is partially covered in fish goo.
Zahrdahl is given Belina’s seat at the table next to Breymeer. Belina and Isiaweil stand behind the fish peddler.
Zahrdahl greets the group, “I am sorry for my appearance. I did not expect to be making a formal appearance anywhere today. This is much unexpected. Rangers Belina and Isiaweil did not mention what this meeting was about, only that I was requested to attend. What is it I can do for you?”
Breymeer answers the fishmonger, “Your attire is completely acceptable and I respect a man that works hard for a living. Please have a seat and relax.” Zahrdahl’s hands are noticeably sweaty as he takes Belina’s chair and sits.
Breymeer continues, “I noticed your attentiveness the other night at the inn. Please sir, what is your interest in our group’s presence here in Restenford?” Breymeer pauses and watches Zahrdahl, giving him a moment to answer. The rest of the group watches. The Pholtus priest and paladin appear to be glaring into his soul. Zahrdahl is well aware of the powerful men surrounding him.
“I meant not to garner your attention other that to buy you a drink. I was watching for an appropriate moment to approach your group is all.” Zahrdahl’s unintentionally eyes the door. His breathing an pulse have increased noticeably. He is obviously uncomfortable at the moment.
Breymeer presses further, “You are a well-traveled man. Where are you off to next? When have you last been to Kroten?”
“I have not been to Kroten in some time. Long before the blockade was established. Before Restenford was attacked. I travel to Lo Reltarma when I leave. I go there on business.” Zahrdahl calms a little and begins to ask his own questions, “What of Kroten is your focus of interest? I have some knowledge of the area but am a simple mans of simple means.”
Ergon stares intently at Zahrdahl, reading his soul.
Breymeer fetches a glass and pours Zahrdahl a glass of wine from the pitcher. The Ranger Captain pulls up a chair very close to Zahrdahl and hands him the glass, “Relax my friend. I understand you are a traveled man and wish only to share your knowledge. You say it’s been a while since you’ve been to Kroten?” Breymeer pauses.
Zahrdahl takes a sip of the wine, he appears to be collecting himself well. His hands and voice are steady as he speaks, “Before Duke Nebub blocked the paths into Kroten, I used to travel there.”
Breymeer questions the general mood of the local populace, “Last you were there was there an evil restlessness about the air? Or, did the town and surrounding lands appear proper and right?"
Zahrdahl analyzes the moral of the populace as follows, “Though the Duke rules with a relative iron fist, he holds to the law. Even the hobgoblins follow the rules. Punishments are very strict for violations of the law. However, the people prosper well enough. I believe that is why the have tolerated the Duke.”
Taking another sip of wine, this one a little larger, Zahrdahl continues, “After the blockade, I generally only travel to Lo Reltarma. I had set up accounts in Kroten prior to the blockade. Now, I go through a middle man in Lo Reltarma. I mainly deal locally in bait for the local fisherman. However, I also trade fish to inland markets if and when I can work it out. In fact, I am traveling there tomorrow or the following day. Once the ‘Surf Express’ arrives in port. It should be departing for Lo Reltarma within a day or so.”
< Ergon detects the man has a darkness to him. He appears to have an evil aura about him.>
Sensing truthfulness, Breymeer leans back in his chair, “I believe your information to be truthful, though somewhat worrisome. Talk of blocked roads, middle men and iron rule cause me concern. Tell me this Zahrdahl, this ship, the Surf Express, would it be possible for our party to travel to Lo Reltarma as passengers with you? Would we be able to do it without drawing unnecessary attention? And this middleman you work with, is he someone we could trust to provide further information about the current state of the lands near Kroten?”
Zahrdahl takes another sip of wine. “I speak the truth of Kroten. I have not dared travel there since I was with you at the attack on Zerman’s crossing. Those that know me in Kroten know I am from Restenford. Considering the current political climate, I dare not attempt to venture into the dutchy.”
“As for the Surf Express, she does not usually take passengers. Though, for the right price, I am sure that is negotiable.” Zahrdahl looks around at the size of the group, “I do not think all of you could go though.” Zahrdahl looks at the Pholtus priest and paladin, “And I am certain the two of you would stick out like commoner at a royal court.”
“The middleman I deal with does travel into Kroten from Lo Reltarma on a somewhat regular basis. In fact, he has contacts within Duke Nebub’s very castle. The hobgoblins in town appear to like our pickled freshwater fish. That. and other freshwater catch. are provided to the castle occasionally as well. Hence the reason this middleman has a contact in the castle.”
Breymeer leans forward again. He places his hand across Zahrdahl’s shoulders and speaks to him eye to eye, “Know this my friend, your information and help will be rewarded. But our meeting and discussions must stay between us with no exceptions. Is that understood?”
Zahrdahl, being a business man that doesn’t like to miss an opportunity to better himself, suggestively states, “I do understand Captain Breymeer. However, if this is going to stay on the down low, I will need some, er, shall we say, encouragement funds, to persuade a certain ship captain and middleman to help out without asking questions. Silence is not a cheap commodity on the docks.”
“I should take the most plain of you with me on the ship. Those that will not stick out in the sailor’s memory. Not the gnome, no pretty woman, no overly large warriors, no men in shiny armor and, unless you disguise yourself captain, not the Captain of the Restenford Rangers.”
Zahrdahl looks at the group and begins pointing out possible traveling companions, “Krelar would not draw suspicion. Isiaweil should be okay. The dwarves even could be smuggled aboard I believe. Neither of them are overly well known.”
Zahrdahl thinks for a moment, “Krelar and Isiaweil should come aboard with me in Restenford. The dwarves should quickly get to Lake Farmin and buy themselves aboard when the ship docks there next. It would draw less attention.”
“Must anyone else travel by ship?” Zahrdahl asks. “Otherwise, the remainder of you could travel overland to Pel Reltarma and meet us there. The ship will stop at both the main town of Lo Reltarma and then make port on at the mainland village of Pel Reltarma before the middleman begins his journey overland north to Kroten.”
Breymeer looks to the others to see if anyone else had ideas. Seeing none, Breymeer states his readiness to get going. “The overland group can set out immediately to get to Lake Farm before the ‘Surf Express’. Krelar, Isiaweil and Zahrdahl can board the ship in Restenford. The overland group can bypass entering Lake Farmin other than the two dwarves.”
“The gnome may be able to join the dwarves at Lake Farmin. I doubt a gnome traveling with the dwarves would raise much of an eyebrow,” states Zahrdahl, somewhat lost in thought, possibly even thinking out loud.
Lexington pipes up, “I would like to go with Zahrdahl on the ship. I doubt I would draw any attention.” Zahrdahl agrees.
The fish dealer makes a request for coin, “Does anyone have 30 gold coins I can use to get these three onto the ship. The dwarves and gnome can buy their way on when we get to Lake Farmin.”
Lexington, Krelar and Isiaweil all pitch in 10 gold coins to pay for their ride.
“Watch for the ship to dock and then come find me around the docks and I will get you aboard. It will be tight quarters but it is a short trip.”
With that, Zahrdahl is allowed to leave the abbey. Shortly after the fish dealer leaves, Breymeer has Ek sneak out into the darkness and tail him.
The group makes its final plans and sets them into motion.
Lexington, Krelar and Isiaweil will wait in town to watch for the arrival of the ‘Surf Express’.
Cholak, Seeler and Esned will strike out immediately for Lake Farmin in order to be in town when the ‘Surf Express’ arrives.
The rest of the group will begin their overland journey in the morning.
The meeting ends and the group exits the abbey.
While still on the hill, Tathar pauses. He looks up into the clear night sky and then uncharacteristically speaks. He calls those going with him overland to Pel Reltarma together while the others continue on.
“I am still in possession of the Ungohling. It will hold us. We can take it to Pel Reltarma instead of going overland.”
Tathar continues to explain his thoughts. By taking to the sea, they can follow behind Zahrdahl and lay a trap for him should he be up to no good. Tathar wants the group to keep their ears out on arrival for any hint that there was an ambush or similar that had been set up along the overland route.
Tathar instructs everyone to keep this change of plan to only those in the inner circle. Those we know we can trust.
The group traveling on the Ungohling will be Tathar, Morwen, Breymeer, Ek, Ergon and Jandre.
Tathar advises they can get together and set sail sometime after the departure of the Surf Express. The group agrees to regroup after the ship has left port.
Breymeer advises the group he wishes to speak to the priests about a donation. Breymeer knocks on the front door and, after a brief moment, is told to wait outside for a few minutes before he is finally welcomed back in.
The group walks down the hill and back to the Dying Minotaur with the exception of Breymeer. The ranger arrives at the inn only some five minutes after the others. After a meal, the group retires for the evening.
Breymeer is allowed back into the abbey. Almon and Krelar both meet with Breymeer about the ruby (1000gp) that Breymeer had wished to trade for coin or smaller gems. Almon produces a small leather pouch. Into his hand he pours four sapphires (200gp each) and two pearls (100gp each). “I believe this is a fair trade for your ruby.”
Breymeer agrees with a nod and hands over the ruby to Almon. Almon, in turn, puts the handful of gems, with the exception of the ruby, into the leather pouch and hands it to Breymeer.
Almon states, “I know you did not mean to bring up the donations the way it was brought about (DM apology). I did not wish to speak of church funds in front of the group. Our treasury was basically depleted repairing and rebuilding after the raid. The gems are a final point of savings. However, I trust you, Captain Breymeer, and agree the value of the ruby is worth the trade.”
Breymeer removes one of the sapphires from the pouch and hands it back to Almon, “Please use this as you see fit, and thank you for everything.”
Almon smiles warmly at Breymeer and gives the captain a nod of approval.
Krelar is also pleased, “I shall not fail to aid you, my friend. May Phaulkon see us through.”
With that, Breymeer leaves the abbey and catches back up with the group at the Dying Minotaur.
Cholak, Seeler and Esned grab their gear and head out into the night for Lake Farmin. By keeping a steady pace, they will arrive later the following day and should easily be ahead of the Surf Express. The weather cooperates.
During the night, the group makes the loop through the local hills to the north before bending back to the south; passing Tur Thar Guldar as dawn begins to break. The morning light brings some scattered clouds but the trio remains dry on their walk.
The journey is completely uneventful. Even the creepy passage though the Dead Wood is uneventful though the trio knows their passing has likely been witnessed by the Sehanine elves of Tur Thar Guldar.
The three travelers arrive in lake Farmin without incident. A quick check of the docks verifies they have beat the ship to town. They go to the House of Abhram and rent out a room. All three are exhausted from their travels. After a warm meal and some beverages, they take to their room and sleep through the night.
Ek returns quietly to Breymeer’s room at the Dying Minotaur and reports he followed Zahrdahl back to his fish/bait shop and entered it. He remained there for several hours before Ek departed and went back to the Dying Minotaur to advise Breymeer.
The morning of Harvester the 28th arrives with scattered clouds but no rain. The temperature is a kind 70ish degrees but a strong wind blows ashore.
At the military encampment, Ergon speaks privately to Jandre. The paladin asks the priest of he was able to receive Pholtus’ blessing and create some holy water.
Jandre replies that he is still working on it but should have a few vials ready by the time the group disembarks. “In fact, I will work on that the rest of the day.” Jandre returns to his tent and completes the ritual to create holy water.
By mid-afternoon, the Surf Express is securely docked at the docks near the burned-out guard shack. The docks are conveniently located near Zahrdahl’s home. The longshoreman get busy off-loading cargo. Zahrdahl pays the ship a visit.
Zahrdahl seeks out and finds the party at the Dying Minotaur where he gathers Isiaweil and Lexington together. He advises the ship will not be leaving until the early morning hours the following day. He suggests the party meet him at the inn after nightfall and they will stow themselves on the boat. Their passage has been paid and accepted.
Isiaweil delivers the message to Krelar at the abbey.
Night sets in. Luna is nearly ¾ full yet but waning. Celene is waxing and nearly full. The Brewfest holiday week begins in the morning.
The priest, the ranger and the young mage all arrive down at the docks where they meet Zahrdahl waiting. “The ship is empty,” informs the fish dealer with a twinkle in his eye. “Seems the sailors found themselves with a few extra coins in their pockets and thought to spend them at the local inns.”
Zahrdahl leads the group onto the ship. It is a small craft, certainly not worthy of the open sea. It has an enclosed hull, a rear cabin and a single mast. Zahrdahl leads the three adventurers into the hold where three hammocks are strung from port to starboard at the bow of the boat. They are closely side by side. There is little room for each of them to move about. Their gear is stowed below them.
Zahrdahl informs them, “Remain here until we dock at Lo Reltarma. We will depart there and I will help you catch a ferry to Pel Reltarma.”
Zahrdahl points at a simple wooden bucket on the floor. “For you to use until we arrive. The crew would appreciate it if you dump it before you depart.”
Once Isiaweil and Lexington have joined Krelar and Zahrdahl on the Surf Express, Tathar, Morwen, Breymeer, Ek, Ergon and Jandre meet at the inn for final planning. They have been informed the Surf Express will be departing at first light.
Lexington’s somewhat formal upbringing makes him cringe a bit at the thought of doing his business in a bucket and having to dump it himself. Maybe he’ll get lucky and Isiaweil will dump the ‘honey bucket’. The young mage settles in as comfortably as he can for the watery journey.
A lantern was provided, along with enough oil. It hangs from the ceiling in the general area of the three stowaways. Lexington uses the light to study by.
Isiaweil spends his time lying about or preparing his gear.
Krelar also prepares his gear. In addition, he spends much time in prayer.
Tathar, Morwen, Breymeer, Ek, Ergon and Jandre take up the northwest table at the Dying Minotaur again. Without Morwen playing, the inn remains relatively quiet. Ek sulks in the corner with his hood characteristically pulled low over his face.
Tathar discusses the folding boat. He is concerned the party may not be on the boat and/or ship when it changes form. The planks unfold and change shape in dramatic fashion. It is Tathar’s belief that at best, the party will be deposited into the water if on the boat when it changes. Worse case, those on board take damage from the moving and shapeshifting parts. Because of these concerns, Tathar decides the safe bet is just walking down to the docks, floating the box out and having it change into the ship. Everyone can climb on and then they will sail away.
Tathar believes much of the crew is still residing around town and would likely join the group in sailing the ship once again.
Once away from Restenford, Tathar plans to stay as close to the shoreline as they safely can. He wishes to remain hidden from the view of the other ship. Once they approach Lake Farmin, they will disembark and walk into town.
Tathar, already having spoken more that he is accustomed to, asks the rest of the group if that plan is okay with them. He is open to suggestions.
Breymeer speaks, “I am fine with your plans Tathar.”
Ek speaks quietly, “I shall go by land. I care not for the sea. I will find you at Pel Reltarma. If I do not arrive, do not concern yourself with attempting to find me. I will either arrive or perish along the way; whatever my fate shall be, shall be.”
Tathar is pleased Breymeer will be taking the ship and not traveling with Ek. Breymeer is the only other person from the voyage from the swamp to Restenford that is currently in the party. Tathar could use the sailing skills that the ranger learned on the voyage, limited as they may be.
For those not aware of the ship, Tathar explains what the Ungohling looks like in ship form. The ship is 30 feet long, 10 feet at its widest and 7 feet deep. It has a full deck, with railings and a row of single rowing seats, five seats in all, midship. A single mast with a square sail is located just aft of the rowing seats. There is a steering oar, anchor, oars, and a rear deck cabin that sleeps two. The ship can hold 18 souls comfortably enough.
Tathar finishes the evening locating Comus. He and the surviving members of the crew have taken up residency around the area and have been plying their trade to make ends meet. Being accomplished sailors, it hasn’t been too hard.
Comus tells Tathar he will find as many of the men as he can and be to the docks mid-morning.
Sometime during the night, Ek sneaks out into the darkness and begins his solo travels.
The morning that marks the beginning of the Brewfest festival arrives with steady 20+ mph winds and scattered clouds.
The dwarves and gnome remain at Lake Farmin awaiting the arrival of the Surf Express. The enjoy the day of leisure. They spend the day getting to know each other a little better over generous amounts of food and various alcoholic beverages.
The Surf Express, being a relatively small coaster, finds its way out into the open water despite the wind. Once clear of danger, it unfurls its sails and begins to make its way to Lake Farmin.
Shortly after the coaster has disappeared from view, Tathar gathers his companions and walks down to the docks. Tathar and Breymeer both vouch for the loyalty of Comus and any remaining crew. Both of them survived the jungle adventure alongside Comus and the crew; then under the leadership of Ledego.
As the group arrives at the docks, Comus awaits with the remains of Ledego’s original crew. All surviving members are present. Next to the crew are a couple barrels, one water, one beer, and a two large chests of equipment Comus felt the crew may need. It includes much extra rope, some spears, two grapple hooks, two heavy crossbows, two light crossbows and related bolts, and other miscellaneous gear such as lanterns, torches, oil, hammocks and the like.
In addition, a small row boat is docked nearby.
Comus, a dark-skinned human, greets Tathar as his captain, “Captain Tathar, unless you have a change in mind, I am assuming I remain the first mate aboard the Ungohling. As instructed, I have gathered up the crew. In addition, I gathered some supplies I anticipated we would need.” For a sailor, he speaks well. Probably from being captained by well spoken elves for many years.
Comus, was promoted to first mate by Peylae when she assumed the position of ship captain at the death of her father. At the loss of Peylae, Comus informed Tathar of Peylae’s wish for him to become owner and captain of the boat.
Comus introduces the only elf among the group, “This is Larrig, he is the crewmaster.”
The remaining crew members are all human; likely of mostly Oeridean blood. Larrig introduces them by name, “These sailors, men of valor on the waves, men who have faced sea monster and storm alike, are Ment, Tiz and Nedwyn.” All three of them are dark haired and relatively olive skinned.
Morwen, Ergon and Jandre make their introductions to the crew amid some handshakes to the men and polite bows to the lady elf. The crew, though incredibly hard to avoid staring, remains polite in front of the attractive elf woman. They have been in town long enough to know she is a respected person and an accomplished musician. To speak about her in sailor’s terms would end poorly for them, and they know it.
Tathar walks to the shore of the river and sets his little wooden box afloat. Tathar simply speaks, “Cair.” The box begins to unfold, splashing some in the water, as it continues to grow. The repetition continues until a small ship begins to form. First the hull, then the deck take shape. Before long, an aft cabin rises off the deck. A bench rises in the middle to form rowing stations. A mast and square sail shoot up behind the benches. Oars, rest on the deck. Finally, railings protrude. All of this to the surprise of Ergon and Jandre.
When it is finally done, the Ungohling floats next to the dock while Comus and crew quickly climb aboard and prepare for departure.
Tathar and his companions join the crew on the ship after assisting loading the equipment and foodstuffs Comus had collected.
With Breymeer and Ergon assisting, Ment, Tiz and Nedwyn row the ship slowly out of the river and into the open water. They begin to head for Lake Farmin. Once the sail is opened, they begin to put Restenford behind them. The small rowboat, attached by rope and being pulled along, bobs and weaves carelessly behind.
The Surf Express arrives in Lake Farmin uneventfully by mid-afternoon; a trip of nearly 20 miles. It docks near the statue of Xerbo and begins to off load shipments before taking on other merchandise, water and other foodstuffs.
The ship remains docked overnight.
Zahrdahl, knowing this is still friendly territory, tells the stowaways in the hull they may go ashore without attracting attention if they wish.
The Ungohling approaches Lookout Peak around noon. The hill stands between the ship and Lake Farmin, some five miles to the southwest. As soon as is practical, Tathar has the ship brought as close to shore as is deemed safe. From there, he orders the rowboat brought up. In a series of trips to shore, the party is brought to land.
Tathar and Comus are the last off the ship. They join the crew in the rowboat as Tathar gives the command word to return the ship to a box. In reverse order, the ship, board by board, folds in on itself until only a small box remains floating on the water. Tathar quickly collects it and they row for shore.
It is early afternoon once the party is all on shore and ready to travel. The walk is relatively easy to town from here. The party can stay near the shore and arrive on coming around the south end of Lookout Peak or traverse the hill and come into town by way of the road to Restenford on the north side of the hill.
The two dwarves and gnome realize at mid-day that their relaxing and drinking have come to an end as the Surf Express is docked. Now they have to figure out how to get themselves on board.
Tathar advises he thinks it would be best to appear to come from Restenford by road.
Breymeer, being the Captain of the Restenford Rangers, states he doesn’t feel a need to be sneaky and wishes to stay on the ocean side of the hill. The ranger does see the wisdom in Tathar’s route though and agrees that the road is a logical way into town.
The group spends the rest of the day moving counter-clockwise around Lookout peak. They arrive at Lake Farmin near nightfall.
Ek makes his way through the Kelman Woods south of the southern Kelman Hills. He passes south of Pebble Hills and Tri-Top. The area used to be home to a band of worg riding gnolls not long ago; however, they have been cleared out by the actions of adventurers and Restenford Rangers.
Ek travels through the woods without meeting anyone or anything of importance.
Ek follows the edge of Kelman Woods and crosses the clearing to the southwest to another wooded area on the northwestern slopes of Lookout Peak. He sneaks his way clockwise around the hill and takes a position at a small corpse of trees overlooking town not long before the sun sets.
He can see the Surf Express docked in town. He also spies Tathar and company walking into town on the Restenford road. The sun will be setting in an hour or so.
The first day of the Brewfest festival splits the party even further.
Tathar, Morwen, Breymeer, Jandre and Ergon enter town without much notice amongst the fanfare and revelry. They join in some mild entertainment, sampling beverages and various morsels for sale. Eventually, they take a room at the House of Abraham and spend the night.
In the morning, they witness the Surf Express leave port with Lexington, Isiaweil and Krelar aboard. The group makes their way down to the sea shore, unbox the Ungohling and continue their pursuit of the coaster towards Lo Reltarma.
The dwarves and the gnome do not have such luck. Having drank and ate their way into a stupor, the trio misses their encounter with the coaster and have no choice but to now walk towards Lo Reltarma.
Ek breaks camp on the morning of second day of Brewfest and begins his solo journey to Lo Reltarma.
The second day of Brewfest is warm enough, being in the mid 60s. The wind from the previous night has died down and a gentle rain fell before the sun rose. The clouds are breaking as the various groups move out.
The Surf Express struggles to make much headway on the first day. There is a complete lack of wind. The crew roads steadily to the east. Unfortunately, for the stowaways below deck, another day has likely been added to the journey. Lexington looks disgustingly at the already dirty bucket that has doubled as a latrine.
The Ungohling has a bad go of it on the first day. The complete lack of wind forces the skeleton crew to row. It isn’t long before the Surf Express has outpaced the magical boat. The craft makes little progress on day one though there is no other encounters to hinder progress.
Esned suggests to the group they purchase ponies for the overland travel to Lo Reltarma. The two dwarves find this a charming idea considering it will cut the duration of the travel in half.
The horse trader occupies a small area at the base of the hill that boasts the Lord Mayor’s keep overlooking Lake Farmin. Before long, the trio is riding fresh ponies, saddled and geared for travel.
The trio rides the duration of the daylight, enjoying a nice travel day for once. Dusk begins to settle upon the valley as the group approaches a river that runs south out of the northern mountains.
Ek decides to follow the valley on its northern fringe where the foothills meet the mountains. The southern end of the valley leads to the ocean front. Ek feels the foothills give him two advantages. First, he has a much better vantage point from the elevations. Second, he will be able to hide much easier should the need arise.
Occasionally, Ek can see the two dwarves and the gnome riding along the valley road. They are all three now mounted on ponies.
Moving around a small rock formation, Ek suddenly comes across a very large rattlesnake. It is about 13 feet long and nearly a foot in diameter.
Both Ek and the snake are caught off guard. After being initially flat footed, the snake coils and its tail begins a loud rattle.
Ek reacts quickly.
The river is crossed by an old stone bridge, arching shallowly over the top of the water. It appears little concern is given to flooding that occasionally plagues the river.
There has been very little traffic on the road for some time. It appears few brave the road for commerce anymore. The road, really more of a dirt track, is beginning to grow over but remains very visible and easily travelled. Any farms or signs of settlement disappear within a few miles of Farmin Lake. The burned shells of farmhouses here or there are proof enough of the dangers of orc raids both in the not so distance distant past.
In the distance, the road encounters the foothills of a stray spine of the Farmin Mountains. The small spine parallels its larger father to the north. Upon reaching the foothills, the road parallels the low peaks on the north side. A little to the west of the foothills, the Farmin River turns from its southern flow out of the mountains easterly towards Lake Farmin. West of the river the valley elevation increases as it is closed together between the main mountain chain and the lonely spine.
The mountains themselves generally follow the shoreline of the sea from Loreltarma to north of Lake Farmin and terminating to large foothills and scattered high areas such as Bone Hill near Restenford. The grassy valley narrows the farther west one travels until the main peaks and the stray spine come together as one.
Esned walks across the bridge. The far side appears clear of dangers.
Seeler suggests a small fire. As much scrub brush and burnable material is gathered and a fire started.
Seeler volunteers to take the first watch. He recommends that we tie the ponies; keeping them close to campsite. The ponies are roped together and secured to the ground with a spike.
The group begins to settle into camp. The skies are clear and there is no wind. The sun has dipped below the horizon and darkness quickly follows. The stars shine brightly, competing with the nearly full smaller Celene moon and the quarter sized larger moon Luna.
Aboard the Ungohling, the night brings no sign of a wind or even a breeze. Tathar’s mood is only slightly improved by a clear sky giving full radiance to Celene as she is nearly full and Luna in her quarter shape; Sehanine’s symbol.
Aboard the Surf Express, the night brings no sign of wind or even a breeze. Lexington draws a heavy sigh. Krelar prays. Isiawiel brings up the ‘bucket’ and dumps it over the edge much to Lexington’s approval.
Tathar spends the night of Brewfest the 2nd to the 3rd praying for better winds.
The other ship continues to outdistance the Ungohling. The crew maintains the oars as much as they can. However, it becomes apparent, especially when the next day dawns with no wind, that the group may have to come up with a plan B on arrival at Lo Reltarma.
Ek, reacting instinctively with elven grace, quickly jumps backwards arcing his back and springing off his hands. He twists his body while completing the tumble so that he lands on his feet facing away from the snake; with the rock between them. Ek sprints off for several hundred yards before slowing and continuing on his way.
The dark elf is used to sudden surprises from living in the dark and sometimes confined spaces underground. This large outer world is going to have its own style. He reminds himself he is always one step away from death.
The rest of the day passes without unusual encounters. He rests for a few hours and then continues on as Brewfest 3rd becomes a new day.
It is not but a couple hours after the party settles into camp that a soft bell is heard over the river. The bell is rung softly a couple times.
Seeler confirms his two companions have also heard the bell and are alert for trouble.
Soon, his dwarven ability to see in darkness illustrates to him a sole figure walking eastbound towards the campsite. It is totally draped in a hooded robe. Its hand is held out before it. Occasionally it rings the small bell it holds in its hand. The figure is about 200 feet from the bridge.
Seeler quietly curses himself for letting this figure slip so close on his watch.
The Surf Express continues its slow, windless journey towards Lo Reltarma. The days drag on.
Cholakk looks around for somewhere to hide and observe. He quickly sees his only two options are either the edge of the bridge or amongst the ponies.
Seeler, with his battle axe in hand, stands at the ready. He yells to the hooded, robed figure, “STOP! Announce your intentions!”
Esned more politely but sternly seconds Seeler, “Who goes there?”
The robed figure indeed stops and places the bell within a pocket. A feminine voice carries forward, “I am sorry, I rang the bell so as not to surprise you.”
She continues, “I saw your firelight and wish to make company with you so that I am not alone overnight again in this valley. I know it not to be safe, especially for someone travelling alone. May I join your group?”
The figure remains some distance away. There is still a little time for Cholakk to attempt to secret himself should he chose to do so.
Cholakk moves off and hides among the ponies.
Esned whispers to Seeler, “She still did not identify herself.” To the lady, Esned more firmly states, “Reveal your identity. Where are you going and why are you traveling alone?”
The lady pulls back her hood as she walks forward. She has the pale skin and long, light blond hair of a Suel woman. She is of average height and build. She is attractive. Her hair spills out across her shoulders as her hood is drawn back.
“I apologize,” she begins with a kind smile upon her face, “I am Alluvianna Danagale. I am sorry I must be elusive but indeed, I travel along in dangerous territory. I fear not for I am not an easy target for those unwise enough to test me. However, there is always safety in numbers.”
“I am not overly familiar with those of the gnomish blood. You have a fine example of a nose though. You people should be proud to set you out upon the land with that appearance. And for your cousin there,” she motions towards Seeler, “I know little of the dwarves as well.”
As she continues walking, she makes a final request, “Let me sit next to that fire and I will continue to answer your questions. May I join you now?”
“I agree, there are safety in numbers,” states Esned. “Your company is okay with me.”
Seeler, struck by her beauty, says, “Yes, m’lady, you may join us and rest by our fire.” His beard hides his flushing face.
Cholakk continues to secret himself among the ponies. They get a little antsy at the approach of a robed stranger.
Alluvianna Danagale approaches gracefully and steps up to the fire, remaining standing for the moment, “Thank you.”
A pleasant smell of perfume, almost overdone, wafts across Esned and Seeler. The woman carries herself as one of elegance. Her outer robe is of very fine quality. The perfume alone is outside what any commoner could afford. Her speech is of one that is well trained in language.
Seeler offers Danagale some of his rations. She politely refuses, “I thank you for the offer. I graciously pass upon your offer for at least tonight. I have some spiced meats and wine of my own that I prefer.”
Her greyish-blue eyes look the gnome and dwarf in the eye, “So what are your names? What brings out into this valley upon this nearly vacant road?”
Seeler does not respond as he as filled his mouth with food for the moment.
Esned introduces himself, “I am Esned. We were not able to secure transportation by way of the water.” Esned reflects upon the day of drinking and feasting that prevented the three of them from actually getting aboard the ship.
Cholakk remains among the ponies, very suspicious of the newcomer.
Alluvianna smiles and reaches into her robes with one of her hands. Her eyes study Esned and Seeler while she calmly states, “I guess I prefer solid ground myself.”
Ek has moved carefully after the sun disappeared. He follows the river south towards the firelight that Seeler, Esned and Cholakk have lit. The three encamped by the bridge that passes over the river.
While closing in on them, he witnesses a heavily robed humanoid figure join the group. From the distance, he can judge it is likely a human or an elf, female by guess. It removed its hood and joined the group around the fire.
Ek notices that the entire time, Cholakk secreted himself among the ponies and remains hidden there.
Ek continues to move closer in attempts to be able to aid his companions should the encounter goes south.
Cholakk, having convinced himself this newcomer is a villain, stays among the ponies. He awaits any move on Alluvianna’s part that would betray her and confirm his suspicions.
Seeler, appearing a bit shy and red in the cheeks, introduces himself and agrees with her on preferring solid ground, “I would actually prefer to be underground, truth be told.”
Alluvianna removes a small box from an inner pocket in her robes. It contains spiced meat from which she begins to nibble.
She makes small talk with Seeler and Esned while she eats. She appears friendly though the unknown aura around her keeps the adventurers perceptive for dangers.
Ek watches as Cholakk remains among the ponies and Seeler and Esned converse with the newcomer.
Seeler and Esned chat with Alluvianna for a short time. She finishes a few bites of her meat and removes a small flask from within her robes. She takes a few quaffs from it and places the meat container and the flask back.
“Is your guard over there by the ponies shy or just that astute of a watchman? I shall sleep well knowing his dedication to safety.” Alluvianna smiles before ending her conversations, “Pardon me, but I am going to sit alone until I rest. If you allow me to, I wish to travel back west with you tomorrow. It promises a more interesting way to pass time than I had on hand prior to meeting the three of you.”
Alluvianna stands, looks both Esned and Seeler in the eye with a smile on her face and then nods in the direction of the ponies and Cholakk before excusing herself to the edge of the bridge. There she sits and begins to hum or sing to herself.
Ek continues to stay out of sight of Cholakk and the others. He gets into a kneeling position using the river bank for cover the best he can. He keeps his bow knocked and trained on Alluvianna until she departs for the bridge. Ek watches carefully for any sign from Alluvianna that would betray an attack upon the dwarves and the gnome.
Cholakk does his best to secret himself from the ponies back over to Esned and Seeler. He sits with and softly mutters, “Sommabitch.” Cholakk quietly watching Alluvianna’s reaction.
Alluvianna does not appear to be watching the group. He continues to sit alone, humming, sometimes singing to herself softly.
Ek remains hidden. He allows himself rest while keeping an eye out for threats from Alluvianna. He remains behind the cover offered by the riverbank; hidden in the darkness.
Alluvianna remains by herself throughout the night. She continues her meditation for sometime before quieting and possibly falling asleep. She remains sitting throughout the night hunched forward with her head bowed down.
Esned volunteers for first watch; which is uneventful. Seeler takes second watch allowing Cholakk to rest. Cholakk stays near the fire with it between he and Alluvianna. He manages to sleep trusting in the watchful eye of his friends.
Ek waits most of the night but finds it uneventful. He secrets away before morning and heads back for the foothills to the north before turning west again for the coastal towns he has been told to reconvene at.
The Surf Express rows its way along the rocky shoreline of the southern coast of Lendore Island. Lexington and Krelar are both becoming somewhat restless sitting in cramped places below deck. The air is unfresh and heavy. Isiaweil, in his reduced mental capacity, spends most of the day either mindlessly staring at the wall or sleeping.
Tathar addresses the ship crew and occupants, "Gentlemen, I have prayed to Sehanine for a wind. She has either determined that we do not need her help or is pointing us in a different direction. Of course, she may not feel that we need her help. I would never dare to speak for her. Either way it seems it would be easier for us to walk on the road than to row on the sea. I propose that we move ashore and walk, and if the wind picks up we can take back to the sea."
Tathar examines the coastline finding it absent of good landing areas. Even if landing were made, the group would still have to traverse the small mountains that hug the coastline.
The crew rows for a few hours slowly along the coast before giving up any hope of landing ashore.
Tathar orders the crew continue to row towards their destination until the wind picks up. Non crew members that are capable take turns rowing as well. Slow progress is made.
The third day of Brewfest is uneventful. The trio and their new companion walk the old road towards the coast. They pass the occasional old farmstead. This far from town they are all but abandoned or burned having been routed by orcs or other humanoids.
It is clear the barony is in trouble if Nebub isn’t overthrown or some other way is found to reverse the fortunes of Restenford.
Ek continues on throughout the third day of Brewfest without incident. He takes to staying out of the sun and traveling during the dark hours. The sun pains his eyes and weakens him and this day was cloudless by noon.
The morning of Brewfest the 4th arrives will little wind and clear skies. It is a pleasant 69 degrees. By mid-morning the Surf Express is guiding into port at Pel Reltarma.
Pel Reltarma is a small coastal fishing village with a several docks though none are large enough to take on sea going vessels.
Goods bound for Kroten are first off loaded to smaller vessels at Lo Reltarma and then brought across the channel to Pel Reltarma. It is easily assumed the island port has taxes and fees it collects on the goods before they hit the mainland.
In addition, one can easily see the ship banners displayed are of many of the neighboring countries; some of them at odds with each other. The counsel of Lo Reltarma is playing all sides in the sea trade environment. One can only guess at the politics that keep the opposing forces from open war in the harbor and on the docks.
The council also has turned a general blind eye to the refugee tent city that sprung up on the outskirts of Pel Reltarma. Many of the farmers, loggers and mountaineers of the western plains of Restenford’s barony have fled west and get by in squalor on the edge of town. Some, seemingly better off than the others, have constructed wooden shelters or even small homes. The town is slowly expanding as a result though most structures are temporary at best.
It appears some type of economic exchange has begun. Those new to arrive, and skilled in the wilderness, have created gardens, tend to animals, log nearby and hunt. These goods they exchange in town for supplies, fish and other necessities.
Several taverns operate in town, two in the dock section and one near the edge of town towards tent city. Only one true inn exists on the main route from the docks to Kroten.
The town is very busy during the day. With the newcomers, the population is nearing 750 or more souls. Compared to the nearly 4,000 upon the island port city.
Though those in the tent city section are all of the barony, their allegiance is not something they lean on at the coastal town. Pel Reltarma would better be considered an extension of Lo Reltarma. Here, the focus is on getting through each day in the relative safety of the port as opposed to the dangers of humanoid raids on the plains of the barony.
The Surf Express is small enough to dock in Pel Reltarma. Zahrdahl has a few crates offloaded. As the trio of stowaways exits the boat, Zahrdahl requests of them, “Please watch over my cargo for a few hours while I cross the channel. I will buy your meals and beverages today if you can do so for me.”
Having very little knowledge of the small coastal town, Lexington, Isiawiel and Krelar set themselves up in the shade of a warehouse building along the docks and get comfortable. The sea air and sunshine feel amazing compared to the constrains of the hold. Krelar, a priest of Phaulkon, appears especially happy to be out in the open air. He prays quietly while the three wait.
Not long after the Surf Express arrived in port, a strong easterly wind picked up. Within a few hours, the gusty wind blew itself out but not before driving the Ungohling into the small docks at Pel Reltarma. For now, not wanting to draw unneeded attention, Tathar leaves the magical craft in its ship shape. Comus and the crew remain aboard to keep it secure.
Tathar, Morwen, Jandre, Ergon and Breymeer all quickly find the others securing Zahrdahl’s cargo in the shade of a nearby warehouse.
The small caravan makes its way west on Brewfest the fourth. The weather is calm and warm. An afternoon wind blows up the valley for a few hours in mid-afternoon but soon dissipates.
The group follows the road between the foothills of the mountains. The roads runs parallel the low peaks on the north side. The valley elevation increases as it is closed together between the main mountain chain and the lonely spine. The grassy valley narrows the farther west one travels until the main peaks and the stray spine come together as one.
As the group nears nightfall, they encounter an encampment of hearty loggers. They have constructed several wooden structures and built a low wooden palisade around the complex. The wall is only about 3 ½ feet to 4 feet high. The top of the wooden posts are sharpened to points to discourage one from scampering over.
Though initially cautious, the loggers are friendly enough once they see the caravan is a couple dwarves and a gnome. They do not much care for the hooded and quiet pale lady that travels with them. A superstitious group, constantly on guard for dangers in the wild, look at her as if she was a witch. This group has little trust of those who twist magical energies.
However, the caravan is able to re-provision a supply of dried meats, fish and water. Allunvianna re-stocks her meat supply as well though she appears disappointed in the lack of fine wine. She says little during the encounter.
The group continues on, arriving in Pel Reltarma late in the day.
Ek, from a vantage point, is able to locate and track the caravan as it moves west along the edge of the foothills. He follows them undetected to Pel Reltarma.
Zahrdahl returns to Pel Reltarma as the group is reuniting on the docks. He is ferried across the channel on a different craft and offloads more goods. A second man is with him as he approaches the group. The man is human, approx. 40 yoa, with short trimmed light brown hair and a brown well-trimmed beard that shows a few hints of greyness. The man dresses better than Zahrdahl; hinting of a middle-class stature. He has on well-tailored trousers, a white, light-weight, long sleeve cotton shirt and a soft dark brown leather vest. He appears Oeridian but his pale skin betrays some Suel blood as well.
Since the overland expedition has not yet arrived, those standing around Zahrdahl’s original cargo are Breymeer, Tathar, Morwen, Ergon, Jandre, Isiaweil, Lexington and Krelar.
Zahrdahl directs some dock workers take both sets of his cargo into a warehouse, tipping them for their service. Then he and the other man approach the party.
“Thank you for waiting, I see most of you have arrived.” Directing his attention to the other man, he introduces him to the group, “This is Loris Naef, my business partner.”
Loris Naef gives a subtle nod of his head. “Well met,” is all he states. He looks to Ergon in his full plate armor and Jandre in his plate mail and continues with a slight bowing, “Gentleman.” Next, his gaze meets that of Breymeer. He quietly acknowledges the ranger, “Captain.” Finally, he looks upon the Sehanine priest with a little wonder, “May the Lady of the moonshine be blessed.”
It appears clear this man is used to dealing with those of higher status than he. He appears comfortable meeting the group.
The dock workers go about their business without much fanfare for the odd group gathering about. On the docks, it is better to not ask questions or put your nose into another’s business. With that in mind, it would be remiss if the group didn’t assume their arrival went unnoticed, whether recognized or not.
Zahrdahl suggests the group head for the inn where he promised to buy a few of the companions food and beverage for watching his crates.
The group makes its way away from the docks up the main avenue to the north. A few blocks from the docks and warehouses the town turns more to shops and homes; often a combination of both. Many of the buildings along the street are two storied with most of the others away from the main avenue single storied structures. The vast majority are made of wood. The inn, however, has the bottom half of the lower level made of stone with a wood frame constructed over the top of it. The sign above the door depicts a relaxed crab holding a flagon in one pincer and a smoking pipe in the other. One the sign is written in Suel and the common tongue both, “The Comfy Crab Inn.”
The inn does not appear to try and compete with the three taverns in town. The bar is not set up with much of a common room. It appears to be more of a dining establishment than a tavern.
The group enters the establishment and lets their eyes adjust to the quiet and somewhat dimly lit atmosphere.
Zahrdahl choses a large table for the group and then invites Breymeer, Tathar, Ergon and Jandre to sit at one end near he and Loris Naef. Zahrdahl orders some crab, salad and roast venison for the party along with a round of ale, mead or wine. It is obvious he is breaking out some coin in front of his business partner. One cannot tell if the meal is going to set Zahrdahl back a week’s pay or if he truly has the funds. Either way, this meeting appears very important to the fish monger.
The room has a few other patrons in it, a couple serving girls. The room lacks an actual bar as drinks are brought from the back room by the serving girls.
Speaking quietly, Zahrdahl addresses the group; specifically, who he feels are the leaders, “I am not sure what your destination in Kroten is nor your reason for going there. However, my partner Loris Naef has the means to get you into the barony.”
Breymeer leans over and reaches his hand out to Loris, offering a very firm handshake with intense but welcoming eye contact.
Loris meets his handshake with a firm grip and looks the ranger in the eye. Breymeer notes his hands are not those of a dock worker but then again, neither are his clothes. This man has not seen a day of hard labor in a very long time. One would guess he pays others to do his labor now.
Breymeer speaks first in a hushed tone for only those at the table to hear, "We have heard you'll be a great help to us in our journey to Kroten and am pleased to have you with us. Please tell me a bit of yourself and how you've come by the means to get us to Kroten. I've heard the heavy handed rule of the Duke has made travel by road perilous."
Loris answers with a friendly, quiet voice, “I am a merchant. Like Zahrdahl, I deal in fish and similar type food supplies. I have developed a reputation for a dependable supply chain and a quality product. Enough so that Duke Nebub is one of my accounts. This has earned me the ability to pass by the checkpoints with little trouble. In fact, I deliver directly to Duke Nebub’s castle.”
Breymeer listens closesly, watching his body language, trying to get a feel for Loris. Jandre and Ergon both watch Loris closely as well though remain quiet.
“Should you succeed in getting us past the road checkpoints, would there be somewhere we could drop off and use as a camp so that we could spend some time watching or exploring to get the feel for the conditions of the town?” Breymeer questions further watching Loris closely as he responds.
“Indeed, there are foothills and forests that would easily cover a small group camp if done so cautiously as I presume a man of your nature is capable of.” Loris pauses for a moment and then turns the conversation slightly, “My price for your ‘tour’, shall we say, of Kroten will depend on if I am just getting you into the duchy, the town or the castle. Obviously the price goes up considerably at each level.”
Loris is an obvious business man; though possibly greying the lines between smuggler and merchant.
Breymeer inherently knows this is not the place to discuss something so important. He looks around casually for any sign of eavesdroppers. Seeing none, he takes a deep drink and continues, “As Captain of the Restenford Rangers, I can’t believe I won’t be recognized and draw attention. As will our entire group.”
“Loris, are conditions such that a group such as ours will not draw attention if we spend a few days in town? Will we need to be smuggled in secretly or do people trust you to a point that we will be accepted as long as we are riding with you?”
Loris answers, “I will sneak you past the security patrol that blockades the roadway. From there I can sneak a few into town as well. Or all of you if you wish. Once we are past the foothills, you are free to head for the foothills. Just know the area is regularly patrolled. Once in town, if you keep your group sizes small and common, then you should be fine with a little wit and common sense. I would not send in heavily armored men or an undisguised Restenford Ranger Captain.”
Breymeer takes another drink while Loris is talking, affording the sharp-eyed ranger another look around the room to see if anyone keyed in on the Restenford Ranger comments.
Seeing the way still clear, Breymeer continues in a hushed voice, “I see value in having a couple of our party get smuggled into town to do some research on goings on while the rest of us find a safe spot in the foothills and explore from there. What says the group?”
Breymeer tries to read Loris eyes as he asks him, “Are there others in town that would have interest in aiding or sheltering us?”
Loris answers very carefully, “I mind well to my own business.”
The ranger, unsure of Loris’ loyalties, feels comfortable with the answer. Breymeer responds, “What type of monies will it take to get us in?”
Loris, steel-faced, responds in a near whisper, “100gp a head to cross the border. Another 100gp a head to get each person into town. I am well aware your visit to town is going to bring an end to either your group or the duke. I am well aware, should you fail, I will likely have to be on the next boat out of Lo Reltarma and never return. This risk dictates the price.”
Breymeer looks to the group and takes a vote, “Who’s in for crossing and who’s going to town?”
As the group looks to each other and begins discussing a plan of action, the inn doors open. Walking through the threshold is none other than the multi-talented half-elven mage known to the party as Grimlock. He instantly recognizes most everyone in the group as he quickly scans the room. With a sly smile on his face, he moves towards your table. The odds of success seem to have increased with this unexpected visitor.
Upon seeing Grimlock enter, Tathar stands and faces him as the half-elf approaches, “Well met, Grimlock! You are a glad sight in these troubled times. What news have you of our friends that joined us in the dwarven delve? How do Cirdan and Kuba fare?”
Grimlock answers Tathar briefly, “Cirdan fares well. He asked me to pass on some information to his friends, should I see any of you. I can explain later. Kuba, unfortunately, has fallen.”
Grimlock then turns his attention to Breymeer, “Ahh, my old friend. What sorts of trouble might you be causing in such a fine town? I just so happened to be a bit bored and looking for a bit of trouble and good company. I’m not sure what your plans be, but if you would like to join me in the shadows, I see really no need to trouble ourselves with silly disguises!”
To the rest of the table mates Grimlock recognizes he addresses them with a request, “Hello mates! Who wants to join old Grim with some brew?”
A hale of cheers follows.
Breymeer replies to Grimlock while looking around the room to make sure nobody has taken extra notice to Grimlock’s outburst about shadows and disguises, “So good to see you Grim. Have a seat. Seems you’re a little late and have some catching up to do.”
Seeing no one acting to strange considering Grimlock’s arrival and comments, Breymeer hails the bartender, “Bring a couple pints for our friend!”
Breymeer is surprised to see the half-elf. He can’t help but wonder how Grimlock located the party though he assumes his dark art of magic is at play.
As the pints for Grimlock, in addition to those ordered by others at the table, are delivered, Breymeer requests a private counsel, “Zahrdahl and Loris, may I request a private conversation with my friends for a moment?”
The two merchants look to each other. Loris nods to Zahrdahl before standing, “We will move to the bar until you are ready for our return.” Loris moves away far enough to grant Breymeer’s request and Zahrdahl follows alongside him.
As soon as they are out of earshot Seeler speaks, “I prefer the foothills to a busy town.”
Ergon seconds his statement, but for his own reasons, “I feel that I would draw too much attention trying to go about town. I shall also remain in the foothills.”
Jandre agrees with Ergon, “I too shall wait in the foothills until the town can be assessed and a further plan detailed.”
Breymeer listens as his companions give their statements.
Most of the group fails to come to a decision on whether or not they wish to enter town or remain in the foothills.
Breymeer tries to focus the plan, “I do feel it would be best for me to stay out of town and take my skills to the foothills and search the outskirts of town. Depending on who’s up for going to the warehouse and gathering information in the city, let us choose a landmark outside of town where we can meet after three days. A place I will plan to be every day, a couple of hours after dark, in case folks need to get out of town suddenly and regroup with those of us in the hills.”
Breymeer glances at the two merchants, “If a map of the city is available, it would be nice to look to see if we could choose a landmark in the foothills outside of town that makes sense. Basically, a hideout.”
Lexington, upon hearing his companions desire to camp outdoors in the foothills states, “I prefer to stay in town. Though I’m no stranger to roughing it in the wild, I find it more pleasant to stay in the comforts of a bed with tables and chairs. Libraries seem to be less fraught with dangerous creatures. I will venture into town and gather what information you need. I can make sure to get we’ll stocked on my spell components too. Let me know when and where to meet up with you. “
Alluvianna adds, “Kroten seems like an entertaining destination though I wish not to be secreted in by some fish merchant. Lexington, should you wish to travel with me, I believe we could pass off as a mother and son looking to visit or move to Kroten.”
Lexington is the youngest man in the group and none of the other humans are old enough to be her husband without drawing a little suspicion. She thinks for a minute and adds, “We could probably take one of the warriors with us under the guise of hired protection. Though, from what I have been hearing, a Restenford Ranger would not be a good choice. Maybe you Seeler? Cholakk, as a priest, may be more memorable. You have been kind to me Seeler and are certainly stout enough to convince someone you are hired protection.”
“I would like to get ahead of the group or well behind. I would wish to leave tonight or else a couple days behind the others. Whichever, I do not care.” Alluvianna, understanding she is a stranger to the group, offers the obvious alternative, “I can also travel on my own.”
Seeler says with elation, while looking at Alluvianna, “I’ll be happy to go along as your hired protection, milady!”
Lexington also concurs with her plan, “I will accompany you to Kroten. I would like to stay in town.”
Alluvianna appears pleased, “I have a few things I need to gather before we leave. I will meet you back here in a few hours. We shall leave tonight.”
With that, Alluvianna excuses herself from the table and exits into the street.
The two merchants make notice of her leaving and see that as their cue to rejoin the group.
Loris Naef lays out his plan, “We shall leave tomorrow morning. Make sure you are a few miles north of town just after daybreak. Wait for me along the road. I will be coming up with horse and wagon. You may pay me at that time and we shall depart.”
Zahrdahl nods politely to the group, “Good luck. I will be returning to Restenford. Seek me out should you need further assistance.”
The two men prepare to leave. Breymeer stops them and requests a map, if available, of the town or surrounding area.
Loris Naef, unfortunately, does not have a map, but he gives a quick overview of Kroten’s layout, “The town is surrounded by the Kroten river. A channel was dug from the main river body around the town so that the river splits on the northeastern corner of town and rejoins on the south western edge. North of town, wrapping west and then to the south, is the Phytal Woods. Between the woods and town are three hills. The center hill, Kroten Hill by name, hosts Castle Kroten, home of Duke Nebub. The castle overlooks the town some 100 or so feet above the river. The final hill, Thorp hill, has two farms at it base but is otherwise unoccupied. South of town is the Kroten Forest. Phytal woods sits back a bit from town but the Kroten Forest abuts the southern branch of the Kroten River. There are a few farms, a guardhouse and lumberjacks along the Kroten Forest. Town proper has two additional hills, Sheep Hill on the northwest and Celestian’s Rise on the southeast. The area of town nearest Sheep Hill is the only part of town that is walled. There are guardhouses along the roadways.”
The two merchants exit.
Tathar advises the group that he and Morwen will catch up to the group in Kroten. He has some things he needs to take care of in the morning.
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