Dinner with Bram
Fine food wine and vittels
dwarven mines lost with intrigue
follow or not, soon
Dinner with Bram
An Invitation to Dinner
Leaving the Ministry of War, Eoffram, Jimmy and Ghena follow Zefram’s lead back to the nearby Stone Anvil for some much needed change of clothes and to give the trio an opportunity to wash Cadrick’s blood from their hands.
Declining the invitation to dinner, Ghena says, “In truth I should return to Belton’s Rest immediately before night falls lest the other worry. They will be expecting me and I must tell them of the happenings with the prisoner.”
In response Zefram offers, “This is not a problem, I would be happy to escort you back to Belton’s Rest and on the way I can direct Eoffram and Jimmy to the Turned Spoon, a quaint but beautiful restaurant within Elftown. They have the finest selection of spirits, a dizzying array I assure you–all of unimpeachable quality. It is a shame you and the other members of the Brindol Brigade are not here to enjoy Bram’s company. Here is the invitation I spoke of earlier.”
“While you wash, I will send a runner to let him know to expect you; he will meet you at the Turning Spoon, all your needs will be provided for by Bram. I will direct you there while in route with Ghena. It is not far from here.”
Just as Zefram is finishing, a ruckus from the front of the cathedral tells you that Bhenedict has returned, with him the stranger that Jerion has become.
“Ah, it appears the others have returned…so much the better,” says Zefram.
But recognizing only Bhenedict, Zefram asks, “Should I tell Bram to expect three then?”
Jimmy speaks up, “Your attire is most unusual, but speak truly. Jerion is that not you, that is the armor you put on before the ceremony?”
Answering Aenied says, “Yes and no, it is me but in fact I have had a revelation and I have in the course rediscovered myself. I am in truth known as Aenied and I have only just this day remembered my true origin. I was…am an investigator myself from the far-east, beyond the marshes and land-break–the City of Seven Dark Delights, a cesspool, I assure you and in the course of this investigation the gods have seen fit to have my memory reawakened. We have seen a sight most foul and found that death is too near a companion to our prey. ”
Aenied preceded to describe their success, or lack of success depending on how one looks at it, in finding the halfling who had accosted Madrick.
Speaking up, Eoffram says, “We have received an invitation to dinner this evening and with all that has happened I would be inclined to decline but given that would be bad form and considering that our benefactor may offer some assistance I believe at least I should attend.”
“We travel as a group;” answers Bhenedict. "and speaking for the group, where are Bairdyn and the gnome?"
“They have not returned,” answers Jimmy.
“Trouble, and no doubt lots of it,” says Bhenedict. “We should have never trusted their security to an elf and should have never allowed a half-mad human talk me into it,” Bhenedict adds scowling at Aenied/ “Mayhap, I should go look for them.”
“Think, Bhenedict, where would you start?” asks Jimmy. “What Eoffram left out is that we are supposed to be having dinner with an important dwarf, you should come. In truth, I had hoped to study some rituals while I am here so I will stay and study while I wait for Bairdyn. I will know where to find you in case there is any trouble. Zefram has told us that you will not be far and I’m sure he can give me directions should I need to find you.”
“Agreed,” says Eoffram, “’brother’ you can tell Bram to expect three.”
Dinner with Bram
“Greetings, Heroes of Overlook. I am Bram Ironfell, a representative of the Elsir Consortium; and, I hope your friend. Your reputations precede you, and for your actions, you have my personal thanks in addition to the thanks of the city. I have much I wish to share, a tale of sorts, over dinner, of course … and in the telling perhaps some answers to the goings on throughout the day.”
After you are seated and perfunctory greetings are exchanged, Bram orders food and drink … all of the highest quality, and he begins his tale.
“Here in Overlook, at the foot of the Giant’s Shield Mountains it is easy to forget where we came from. Here we are at the very northern edge of the Elsir Vale, but there was a time this age-old redoubt was the very center of the ancient Dwarven Kingdom that at one time dominated the vale, but sadly has faded into obscurity so much so that some even forget this is a Dwarven city at all."
"Though little is remembered of the lost kingdom, our people had in those days traveled far and wide. One dwarf clan, the Ironfell, my own, had made forays in search of mineral wealth in the deserts beyond the Thornwaste to the southwest of the Elsir Vale. There we established mines called the Karak Lode, after the first Ironfell to fall in the defense of the mines."
"Over long years, the legend of Karak’s wealth has grown, for years my clan pulled rich deposits of gold, silver, and other precious metals from beneath the desert sands of Karak. A supply depot was established at the desert’s edge to service the caravans traveling between the mine and the Elsir Vale, but the location of the mine itself was always a closely guarded secret. Only oath-sworn members of Clan Ironfell ever made the last leg of the journey across the sands to the mines.”
“We Dwarves hold our secrets tight, and no doubt, Bhenedict you would concur, doubly so where wealth is concerned. And so it was that the secrecy surrounding Karak eventually became its downfall. Under the pressure of monstrous marauders, famine, and migrant human tribes, the dwarf kingdom of the Elsir Vale declined. As our resources were taxed past the point of breaking; the kingdom’s borders retracted until now little more than the territory immediately surrounding Overlook remains. In those days, long past, sandstorms struck the southern wastes and the Karak supply depot was eventually abandoned. Soon, all contact with the mines was lost, and the Karak Lode was consigned to legend and history.”
Speaking out, Aenied asks, “What does this have to do with the events that occurred today?”
Replying Bram continues, “The location of the Karak Lode was known to few even within my own clan, and it was thought that all who had such knowledge were lost when the mines were reclaimed by the desert. Even within my clan, Karak was all but forgotten. However recent events have changed this.”
“How?” asks Aenied.
And while this is happening Bhenedict finds not only the conversation, but also the finely roasted venison, stimulating, thinking to himself, “clearly marinated overnight … black peppercorns – cracked, dry wine, thyme, garlic … make that smashed garlic, and, what is that ‘yum’ a hint of bacon if I’m not mistaken… ”
Continuing Bram says, “The destruction of Sarshan’s operations in Overlook saw the Shadar-kai’s many warehouses and transit points within Overlook raided. In one of those raids, the watch uncovered documents connected to Sarshan’s operations, including an ancient scroll tube, filled with fragments of parchment. On it was written a list of landmarks and bearings for a journey. The scroll tube was closed with Clan Ironfell’s seal. One of the members of the watch present…” leaning in close whispers Bram , “…was a member of a rival Clan–Clan Hammerfist.”
Knowing this rivalry to be true, Bhenedict pauses long enough to wash down the venison with some wine and muse to his own thoughts, “em, spectacular, a cabernet sauvignon … the perfect complement to the meat. Bairdyn, friend I hope you are well because I am sure you won’t be when I tell you of the meal you’ve missed.”
"Do the Hammerfist have any disginguishing marks or clothing or such that they might be identified by? I fear that I may have seen two of them dead if you are right," asks Aenied.
“No, clans are like your families only larger much akin to a tribe with a common ancestor. Living in the ground as many dwarves do clans are often more isolated than humans giving rise to the clans. But the Hammerfist bear no common mark. Their family holdings are on the south side of Elsir Vale north of the Wyvernwatch Mountains. They aren’t common here in Overlook."
As Bram continues his narrative, “At the watches request, I undertook a study of these documents comparing them to family archives. I had never seen these parchments before; however, when I received them I noticed that the seal had been broken and it appeared some documents might be missing. Still it was clear to me that these parchments held the directions to the Karak Lode.”
“I am sorry if I was unclear before … but still I don’t see the connection,” remarks Aenied.
Eoffram speaks up, “When the prisoner, Donn was questioned he made mention of the name, ‘Hammerfist.’”
“Exactly as I was told,” replies Bram.
"Told by the Captain of the Guard no doubt…how long has the captain been in your pocket or is he just well compensated for selling useful bits of information?" interrupts Aenied
Bram answers, “I make no apologies for my connections, they are often worth more than gold and harder to earn. Speak to the to the high priest of the Stone Anvil, Durkek Forgeheart before you question my tactics or service to this city. He will vouch for my good character.”
“While obviously there is Clan pride and ownership to be considered, my fear, and I am afraid it is well founded is that Clan Hammerfist was in league with the criminal Sarshan all along and they knew that he had somehow discovered these maps. And now with the passing of his operations here, they have stolen the map to the mines. Certainly they would have known that they would be discovered, and I fear, they have gone so far now as to sponsor this attack on Elder Cadrick because they knew that the Council would never allow them the rights to the Karak Lode and in hope that the confusion the attack would mask their trail and delay any response. But no one should ever underestimate the stubbornness nor the greed of a dwarf, and it has been my stubbornness that has led me to the roots of this conspiracy and their greed with shown me the way. Just today, I have confirmed that a party of dwarves made up of Clan Hammerfist left Overlook amidst the confusion heading due south.”
“Yes, I will try some of the stuffed pheasant, thank you,” says Bhenedict.
“Discovering what became of my kin would end a sad chapter in Ironfell history, but that is not my primary motive in seeking your aid. If Karak Lode can be found, its wealth offers the means to shore up the defenses of Overlook and the Elsir Vale. However, it is anyone’s guess what the Hammerfists are up to and what they might do with the wealth of the mines. And there is no telling what manner of creatures might dwell there now, or what defenses may remain to guard the mines. This is no job for the city watch, I fear.”
Sarcastically Aenied starts, "Yes, the city watch is better suited for dealing with rogues and would-be assassins slaughtered by beasts…tigers no less! We are much better suited to going off on a treasure hunt. Bram, you wouldn’t happen to know of anyone who keeps tigers would you?"
“Tigers!? No, I am afraid I am not aware of anyone who does.”
Taking a dramatic pause before continuing in a more casual tone, Aenied asks, "Did you know that some nearly dead halflings refer to your holdings as ‘EC’? He was almost dead, but a priest of Moradin brought him back from the Raven Queen’s dark land to tell his tale. The dead, and nearly dead speak if you know how to listen. I wonder, about those tigers, you don’t keep tigers by any chance do you?"
Eoffram interjects with a glare at Aenied, "Bram, you are a respected merchant. Please ignore the rudeness of my dinner companion. He has suffered a mental accident of late."
Bram says, “What holdings do you speak of? You have been through a lot today, so I take no offense at your tone but I assure you I know nothing of these tigers that you mention.”
Aenied thought to himself, "He says that with a straight face and it is a convincing act. I am inclinded to take him at his word. Perhaps he doesn’t know anything about the attack on the halfling. Perhaps ‘Eee see’ does not stand for Elsir Consortium. Perhaps I am a dick in both senses of the word. And if it turns out that my hunch was correct, at least he will now know that he is not pulling the wool over the eyes of us all and will probably act in a way to reveal his true motives soon enough. Ah, well, a little lost diplomacy for a chance to route out a villian is always worth it."
Aenied smiles knowingly at Bram and continues, "Don’t get me wrong…I’m more than willing to go on this little treasure hunt for you if the money recovered truly will go to the shoring up of the defenses of the city; and I’ll make sure that it does. I’m just letting you know that justice cannot be escaped. Criminals always make mistakes and the gods justly punish them. Erathis may not be looking for vengence in this case, she is more concerned with the city than the deaths of some petty thieves, but she is not the only god one need watch out for. More wine please," holding his glass up, "Bhenedict you are correct, it is delicious."
In closing Bram offers the party a 1000 gold piece worth of reward (half in gold and half in gems) as an upfront payment for undertaking the search for the Hammerfist expedition and in the hope that search might lead to the Karak Lode (and he points out that the party are welcome to any other treasure they might recover along the way), which the party takes him up on.
From the parchments he has in his possession he provides directions, first heading south across the Thornwaste that lies on the southern border of the Elsir Vale; and from there he estimates a four-day journey passing the Hammerfist holdings and the Wyvernwatch Mountains to the east. To what he believes to be what was once the ancient supply depot for the mines. From there he expects that the party will likely need travel due south into the heart of the desert to discover the mines (which would be greatly aided if they can recapture the maps from the Hammerfist clan).
The party continue enjoy the fine meal and engage in small talk and soon return to their lodging for the evening.
Later, back at the Stone Anvil
"Home, sweet home,” says Bennie as he sits warming his stocking feet by the fire.
Remnants of his delicious meal, scraps from the Turning Spoon, on the table and a stout drink in his hand.A weary and bedraggled Bairdyn comes loping into the room. Looking Bairdyn over quickly Bennie smiles and notes, "None worse for the wear I see … really did you think placing salt on a sparrow’s tail would keep it from flying?"
Raising his glass, "The city is no place for the likes of you, got sucker written all over."
"But, but," stammers Bairdyn.
"Please", interrupts Bennie, "I suppose the good news is that you didn’t drink the poison, maybe there is hope for you yet."