Monthly Archives: September 2009

SOW Chapter4: Dinner with Bram

Dinner with Bram

Fine food wine and vittels
dwarven mines lost with intrigue
follow or not, soon

Dinner with Bram

An Invitation to Dinner

zeframLeaving 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.”   

Invitation - click to enlarge


“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

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."


SOW Chapter4: The Hunt for Clues III

The Hunt for Clues III

Aenied wakes up

Death and carnage find their prey

Erathis cries out


Part III – Aenied, Bhenedict, and the Freeriders

As Bandit grumbles in a low growl complaining
of Megan’s stench while pacing back and forth around the square stage front, his
fur of his back bristling in rhythm with the rise and fall of his very tense
tail, he searches for the trail of halfling rabble-rouser. Jerion sits on the
stage and tentatively unfolds a dark leather bag looking at it closely as if
seeing it for the first time. Unlocking the flat bag, Jerion reaches in pulling
out an impossibly large fur, followed by a great helm and huge axe and starts changing, placing his old equipment in the bag.

 

Witnessing the strange
event Benedict pauses asking Jerion, “What are you up to; where did you get
that gear?”

Aenied

Briefly looking up towards
Bhenedict but looking beyond his friend in a distracted fashion Jerion has no
reply at least not immediately. Turning away he goes back to dressing. Not
stopping until he has finished shaving his facial hair and he finally dons the
great helm. Looking up with new eyes and fresh determination he announces, “At
last, I am whole…I am once again Aenied, Avenger of Erathis, Scourge of the
Underbelly of the City of Seven Dark Delights!”

 

Looking at Jerion,
Bhenedict notes Jerion appears bizarrely elf-like, shaved and wearing the helm,
“Are you daft? What did they do to you? And who is Aenied?”

 

I could tell he was confused. Who wouldn’t be. This town was dark, dark and chaotic, like any big town. But it had touched me and brought me back to myself, and like all dark cities it was with a touch of dark confusion.

 

"I am…Bhenedict, my friend, I am Aenied. True, I am also, your companion, Jeroen. That however, is but a brief memory that resolved itself as I, my true self, was lost."

 

"It is a long story that begins with a dame in a trench coat sitting on my desk as I walked in from the cold, damp night air in the City of Seven Dark Delights…" Aenied started to trail off, but refocused on the dwarf, "But we don’t have time for a long story so I’ll make it brief."

 

"I was a dick. Working the streets of the city trying to make it safe for those who needed a little extra help. A vetran of the streets, my last case ended in a psychic battle. A battle that I lost. I should have been dead, but apparently only my mind was killed, my self was only sleeping. My body was alive, but my mind, my memories, was dead. Dead, like the feeling you get when a dame who pretends that she loves you stabs you in the back for a little piece of pretty metal."

 

"I must have wandered around until some farmer took pity on me and helped me come to a sense of self. A new self though, that of Jeroen. I was a blank slate and the farmer planted seeds that grew into the person you new as Jeroen. But, my life as a farmer, while real in a sense, was but a resting place for my true self. Dead, but only sleeping in the soul of Jeroen. I wandered from farm to farm, staying out of the city but not knowing why."

 

I saw her standing there looking disinterested, a poor farmers daughter. Sure she was beautiful, but the scar running down her cheek was more than a memory. I could tell that she was trouble. She and her companions were going to lead us to death. Hers…ours…someone else…it was too early to tell…

 

"Erathis has brought me back to my senses. There must be work to be done. Civilization is threatened and she has called me back into her service. I’m a dick who works for the gods. They pay my fee and I see to it that they get what they want. Justice and truth. Truth sometimes that hurts, hurts like the pain of finding out that she doesn’t really love you but only wanted to use you as a patsy in her twisted plan."

 

Interrupting Aenied’s explanation Madrick yells, “He’s found it, hurry; we are on
our way. It won’t be long now, you’ll see,” as he scampers after the fast
moving raccoon.

 

Bhenedict, mutters under his breath as they head out, "Thank the gods that Madrick interrupted him."

 

MadrickMoving westward through the tight streets of Tradetown
to a wider thoroughfare still barely wide enough for a horse, then making a
sudden sharp right Bandit comes to a stop at a stall where a halfling is
hawking salted fish.

 

“No, Bandit, this is not
the halfling we are looking for,” offers Madrick.

 

“This is a waste of time; your
varmint is only tracking down his dinner. What a beggar!” chuckles Megan.

 

Bandit say Wait“Ach, you can hardly fault the little guy, Megan; I
remember when you were a wee lost girl and you were no better than he,” replies
Ragnum.

   

Aenied suggests, "We need to stay focused. If we cannot rely on your familiar Madrick we have to rely on ourselves to
track down the felons so they can be judged for their misdeeds. My skills should
be sufficient to locate them. I should like to find them now before their trail
grows cold and the night falls."

 

“He is just hungry …
Bandit will be fine sir; if you could just get him a fish we’ll be on our way
in a jiff, please,” begs Madrick.

 

“And you’re worse than
that four legged thief!” says Megan to Madrick as she flips a silver piece to the merchant who
tosses a fish to the ground for the raccoon.

 

Bandit is madBaring his teeth, Bandit growls before picking up
the fish and quickly runs off with his prize without so much as a nibble.

 

“What’s wrong with him
now?” asks Bhenedict.

 

“Now he has to wash it,”
explains Madrick.

 

When Bandit finally
finishes his meal the party is finally back on course, heading back to the
thoroughfare they again head west for the inner wall at the gate to Bordrin’s
Watch; but, turning north after they pass the wall they find themselves moving
through Nine Bells past Cadrick’s Boarding House. Moving past the rabble you
read such profundities as, “Dwarfs drool! Orcs Rool!” and other similarly misspelled words of wisdom from the masses.
This part of Overlook is clearly reserved for the bottom of the barrel, scum
suckers. Yet the sounds of good living and free spirits still permeates the
air.

 

Moving further on
towards the city’s north wall but not so far as the Divine Knot, they arrive at
a dilapidated estate that looks to be struggling under its own weight. Eerily
quiet, they approach and Aenied detects the signs of forced entry even as Bandit stops, looking
nervously at the building.

 

“What’s wrong with him?”
asks Ragnum.

 

“He smells blood, blood
and death,” answers Madrick.

 

Cautiously entering the
building they find a slaughter–bodies everywhere amidst blood and wreckage.
Whole walls have been ripped clean through with bodies, hanging like obscene trophies
hung up on the walls, still dripping blood. They find two dead dwarves and a
handful of humans but no immediate sign of the halfling. Some of the bodies had
been sliced open as if mauled by a large beast others were obviously killed
with weapons, most likely slicing and large piercing weapons. Some victims appear to have been hurled through walls and some were crushed under debris, others were mauled.
Rats, the size of small cats have already come to claim their reward…rats chewing on the bodies…just like a dame chewing on your heart as she looks for her next gold piece…, thinks Aenied.

 

The blood is everywhere and there are footprints heading every direction making it hard to tell which are victim and which are victimizer. "Sylen, should be able to follow these," says Megan.

 

"Bandit says he’s pretty sure some of these are cat tracks," adds Madrick.

 

Aenied takes a closer look at the tracks that Bandit has found, "Yes, I believe you are right and here is some fur. This looks like tiger fur wouldn’t you agree?"

 

Eventually, Bandit locates the sole survivor, buried under
rubble. It is the halfling but his throat too has
been ripped open. Pulling him out carefully Aenied kneels and asks, “Who did
this to you?” But, as he examines the halfling’s wound he notes the throat is
crushed and there will be no answer to his question. Without hesitation Ragnum prays to Moradin laying hands upon the
halfling energized with the power of Moradin’s healing blessing.

 

Waking the halfling
whispers, "Eee-seee- agh," before passing, as the poison in his blood finished him off.

 

Ragnum says, "Leave me
here to deal with this … this house must be cleansed and these unfortunates need
be put to rest. Send the guard. I must stay here."

 

"You are not staying
alone!” answers Megan. "You Brigade boys need to see to the others. Gather them,
tell them we are here send for the rest of the Freeriders. We will secure this
place. Off with you!"

 

Before Aenied and Bhenedict leave, Aenied asks, "Do either Ragnum or Ghena know any rituals that might help us? Such things as Last Sight Vision, Object Reading, or Speak with Dead?"

 

She snaps a reply, "Ghena is not here and Ragnum is busy. We will be thorough in our investigation; do not worry."

 

Even in the grim abattoir Aenied choked out a chuckle, "While Ghena isn’t present…I was assuming you would know your companions better than that (and might know what rituals they know)…now I see why you were giving me a hard time about knowing my companions…life is a mirror and we project our faults onto others."

 

"Save some of their damaged clothing. It looks like the attackers did a good job of trying to destroy tongues and throats, and have taken a few heads as well in an attempt to make speaking with the dead more difficult. But there are always clues that an attacker leaves that they miss in their attempt to cover their sins."

 

"We will be back soon."

 


SOW Chapter4: The Hunt for Clues II

The Hunt for Clues II

Two little wee ones
Searching for some Snare Drum fun
Saved by a ghost, ha!


Part II – Bairdyn, Bingus and Sylen


(Within Stonehome Treasures)


bairdyn“Absolutely not, I look ridiculous . lame, lame, and lamer!” exclaims Bairdyn. Bingus gives Bairdyn another good look-see top to bottom and declares “You look dashing . besides you didn’t want to dress as a lass as I suggested and you know we can’t go sneaking up on Snare Drum without disguising you somehow. Why I hardly even recognize you and I think of you as my own brother, may Avandra grant him full pockets and a pleasant trip. Maybe we should buy you a cap?” 


And so it goes until late in the afternoon when Bingus finally decides Bairdyn’s disguise is just right all the while Sylen keeps watch at the door. The proprietor, Mikal, appears genuinely amused watching his two diminutive customers fussing over Bairdyn’s ‘disguise’ but after paying a mere 6 gold pieces the deed is done.


Leading the way out of the shop Bingus announces, “Now we are ready to find the Lost Ones.”


“I thought you said you know where they live?” asks Bairdyn.


“Oh yes, what I meant to say is I know where they live . as in live not sleep or stay or anything like that, no . where they live is where we are heading directly . the Salty Mug. It is nestled neatly here in Tradestown not far from here at all. Quite clever of us to stop in at Treasures eh? Now no one will see us coming . well sure they’ll see us, but at least you won’t stand out like a weasel in a necktie.”


“Weasel in a necktie?” asks Bairdyn quizzically, not really expecting an answer.


And thankfully before Bingus explains further Sylen asks “So what exactly is your plan?”


Bingus replies, “As fate would have it . I am finding myself, a wee bit short of snuff.”


“Snuff?”


“Yes . trust me you don’t really want to know. Anyhow, no one knows snuff like the Lost Ones and our friend here, Merry Pippin, he has a serious hankering for some snuff in the worst way. That’s your code name Bairdyn.”  


“Merry Pimpin?” asks Bairdyn.


“Pippin . anyways we negotiate and then when comes time to make the buy we get Snared-em.”


“Snare Drum!” corrects Bairdyn.


“That’s what I said, Snare Dumb to follow us outside . you know for the gold, any Gnome knows not to carry his gold into a thieves den, Snarem will understand that. So he follows us out and we jump him.”  


Sylen stares at Bingus and says, “I am no expert but you seem hardly convincing and I am no expert, moreover I am an archer not a strong arm . maybe it would be better if Bairdyn did the storytelling and I stayed out of sight in case things don’t go a smoothly as planned.”


Bairdyn says, “I look like a fool! – Our friend the elf is right. This will never work. Face it, Bingus you are a terrible liar, not that that is a bad thing. You go in there and find Snare Drum and tell him that you’ve got me . Tell him, you have me, Bairdyn, with you waiting outside and that he, meaning me, wants to meet with him, meaning Snare Drum, alone so I can talk about joining up with the Lost Ones but that I will run if I spot trouble, which is mostly true . and tell him you want a finder’s fee. Sylen, you stay out of sight, hidden, and ready if we need help. If this works, we will have Snare Drum surrounded when I hit him; Bingus – you back up and cast a spell on him. When he goes down, and he will when I hit him, Sylen you come fast and help us carry him out of here before we’re caught. Maybe I’ll stick this stupid disguise on him. This way, Bingus won’t really have to lie much and it might even work. One way or another, Snare Drum is likely to come out.”



Acting on the plan Bairdyn hides in an alley across the street from the tavern while Sylen stealthily climbs the Salty Mug hiding on the roof in a way reminiscent of the attackers at the award ceremony earlier in the day and completely disappears into the shadows. The Salty Mug itself lies between a steep cliff that runs through Tradestown and the middle wall of Overlook in such a way that the sun shines on the Mug only very briefly at midday, the rest of the time, like now, shadows cloak the building and alone Bingus enters the Mug and Bairdyn and Sylen wait, and wait, and wait.


strongale


Inside the Salty Mug, Bingus looks but he sees none of the Lost Ones . Modra had brought him here before and met with them here so Bingus knew this was the best place to find them but not seeing them he decided to work the bar and moisten his tongue. Everyone knows that is the way to get the barkeep talking. The bartender, a brutish hobgoblin named Krunk poured him a strong ale with a piece of hard bread. As one drink turned into two and minutes turned into hours the next thing he knew Bingus woke up on a cold damp floor in a dark room.


shadowy“What do you want Gnome? Who send you, the Dwarves?”


“No, there’s a misunderstanding . I’m not a dwarf. It’s Bairdyn, I mean I want to sell . I mean get the reward . brussel sprouts! I mean I want you to pay me to see him . or pay you . he’s outside. Mr. Stare Dum,” answers Bingus stuttering.


“Bairdyn’s here? He has to be looking for a reward but it wasn’t me! . I should kill you now and be done with you. no one notices when a gnome disappears.”   


“No sir . I mean sure they do . but what I want to say is Bairdyn’s really sorry, and you should see him, he’s so sad. He is trying to hide and he’s not very good at it . you should see the disguise he wearing. He is in big trouble and he is hiding. Those heroes from Brindol left him here alone. They called him a thief! He was talking about you guys . he said you used to be chums. I’ll point him out to you, you’ll see there are no guards with him and even if there was wouldn’t they be here already?” Bingus pleads.


“Send Krunk to check it out.” orders Snare Drum. Reluctantly Bingus leaves the tavern with Krunk, one meaty hand holding him tight but in truth Krunk’s reputation would have been enough to keep Bingus in line. Spotting Bairdyn, Bingus begin waving him over fanatically.


Seeing Bingus, Bairdyn smells trouble. Thinking quickly he grabs a sling stone and fires a shot at Bingus without hesitation.  Krunk thinking the shot is fired at him adopts a defensive posture releasing the gnome . and Bingus tagged by the stone immediately disappears. Turning to run Bairdyn spots shadowy figures approaching from the back end of the alley . turning quickly he spots even more rogues including Snare Drum coming out of the Salty Mug. Finding himself surrounded he starts cursing his own stupidity and swearing under his breath that if he lives through this he would never listen to a gnome again when without warning he flies into the air and slams into a building barely managing to break his fall just as he sees one of the horrors from the black shrine appearing.


spiritRogues starting running in every direction . and seizing his opportunity Bingus raises his orb of indisputable gravity to the height of his glare and muttering he fires a magical salvo from the orb dropping the spirit to the ground even as a volley of arrows streak out of the darkness piecing the ghost one after another. The ghost falls to the ground screeching and wailing as it claws restlessly at the air and as Bairdyn approaches weapons drawn the spirit sinks slowly into the ground disappearing. As it does, Bingus and Bairdyn make a run for it. Aimlessly the pair run, until somehow breathing hard they find themselves back to the Stone Anvil suddenly remembering why they were staying there in the first place. 


SOW Chapter4: The Hunt for Clues I

The Hunt for Clues I

Brothers joined again
Stars aligned, what will they find
truth and falsehood here

Part I – Councilman Troyas, Jimmy and Ghena

Moving quickly the guards move the prisoner, Donn, towards the Old City in the center of Overlook for detainment and questioning. The roads of Old City are tight and cramped adding to the tension of the moment. After traveling a circuitous route they drag the prisoner into a tower attached to the fortress-like Ministry of War building where inside you find the Captain of the guard and surprisingly Zephram Troyas waiting.

Zephram greets you, “I am pleased to find you in good health, it is a pleasure to see you again, my brother.”

Vaguely disturbed, Eoffram nods.

Zephram continues, “As the stars are smiling, it is most fortuitous that you were available to assist Elder Cadrick in his weakest of moments … a blessing upon the representative and so the people of Overlook.”  

“Not to appear inhospitable brother but I am surprised to see you here at this time and place; is there some explanation?” asks Eoffram.

“The explanation is simple … when I heard word of the attack at the ceremony, one which I had very much hoped to attend, I rushed here to make certain that you were not hurt and well attended to. I am only now returned to Overlook.”

“Family reunions are well and nice, but we have business to attend to,” interjects Ghena.

Having already strapped Donn tightly into a heavy chair, the steely-eyed Captain of the Guard is putting a stare down on the perp. Then with a sudden violent thud he slams the full weight of his armored elbow hard on the prisoner’s right hand with a sickening crack … Donn breathes in heavy in a gasp as the pain finds a home.

“THIS CAN GO ONE OF TWO WAYS, the easy way or the HARD way.  I hope you pick the hard way, but the choice is yours. I’ve got all-night,” says the Captain.   

By the time the interrogation is over … and thankfully, it didn’t take that long though the Captain wasn’t kidding about being willing to take all night, Donn gave up the following:

  • They were hired to take out someone, but they didn’t know it was going to one of the Council Elders until they got there … it was a mistake but he wasn’t in charge.
  • After significant beating he confirmed that Snare Drum was in charge of the operation.
  • He explained that they weren’t alone there and they knew it, they didn’t know who they could trust and Snare Drum was certain they would be caught or worse if they didn’t go through with the attack.
  • Donn says they were paid a significant amount to pull this off and Snare Drum thought they were going after Bairdyn.
  • Finally under fear of certain death or disfigurement he gave up a name … ‘Hammerfist’, a Dwarven clan name.

Watching this unfold Jimmy is certain that Donn is holding back information and he is also confident that at least some of his story is untrue. Pressing him further gets Jimmy nowhere so he is not sure what is true and what isn’t. One thing that he is sure of is that this isn’t Donn’s first rodeo.

While Donn is questioned something was eating at Eoffram and he finally figured it out; in the previous encounters with the Lost Ones they all shared a specific tattoo hidden on their person … examining Donn he doesn’t see one. At various times Eoffram tried to glibly interject some common sense diplomacy with Donn but it seemed the Captain’s tactics were the only thing the would-be assassin understood.

Ghena listens intently but adds little else to the proceedings. After the interrogation Donn is to be imprisoned within the tower until the Council decides what is to be done with him.  

Before you depart Zephram says, “This is a most troubling development, I am certain I know someone who can be of great assistance to you and I know that he was hoping to speak to you. I would have preferred to have invited you all but given the situation at hand perhaps I should introduce you to him directly, over dinner and drinks, of course.”


SOW Chapter4: The Hunt for Clues

The Hunt for Clues

Unforgetable

We used to be together

this could be the end

The Hunt for Clues

In the aftermath of the attack Cadrick thanks both Jimmy, who has successfully healed his wounds, and Aenied for their timely rescue. Before being whisked away Aenied asks, "Cadrick, now that you are safe, do you know anything about the Lost Ones and why they would be willing to get the wrath of the city council on them by attacking you?" and he answers, “No, this was unexpected, I am certain no stone will be left unturned … these wrongdoers will be caught.” Megan replies, “They will, sir … you can damn well be sure, they attacked us too. We won’t fail you, sir!”

Turning to Megan, Aenied states, “Perhaps we should pool our resources so we can cover more ground.”

She answers, “We Freeriders are a family … and we stick together.”

Noting that the guards are moving away with the prisoner, Donn, Aenied says, “Jimmy, Councilman Troyas stay with the prisoner … see what they get out of Donn, maybe you can be of some assistance, " turning toward Megan, "perhaps Ghena should go too, her magic may turn out to be helpful.”

Megan adds, “Maybe he is right. Ghena … meet us back a Belden Rest;" and then turning back to Jerion, “I trust your men will see her there safely?”

Jimmy replies, “Of course.”

Again Aenied points out, “As I was saying maybe we can work this once as a team. What are the strengths of your people, Bairdyn and I are both sneaky…”

Bairdyn interrupts overly loudly, “Compared to who, Bhenedict?! What have you been smoking lately? Did you slip away with Bingus?”

Megan answers, “I prefer the direct approach, Ghena is very smart and studied, both Madrick and Sylen know how to stay hidden, and Madrick could steal the last gold piece out of a dwarf’s front pocket while Ragnum is our heart and spiritual leader, he was born and raised here in Overlook.”

Looking crossly at Bairdyn, and Jerion / Aenied says, “Who was it that diappeared into the crowd to successfully strike at Snare Drum before he knew what hit him, Bairdyn. I didn’t see you making it there before the cows came home. However, I suggest Bhenedict and I start combing the streets for Snare Drum or at least some of the Lost Ones …”

Bingus interrupts this time, “I know where they live.”

And Bairdyn points out, “I know Snare Drum.”

Aenied answers, “What does knowing him have to do with finding him? Bingus, I did not know you were familiar with the Lost Ones. We didn’t have to rescue you from them so I assumed you hadn’t dealt much with them. We may have to get rough with them.”

At that Bhenedict says, “Then count me out I’m a chef not a thug.”

"Thug you may not be, but your sense of where to find things in a town such as Overlook is not to be discounted."

Megan lifts her nose in the air and says, “You hardly seem to know your own team. Let’s try this … You two (pointing to Bairdyn and Bingus) go find Snare Drum, Sylen will go with you two keep you out of trouble. Ghena, Jimmy and the Councilman are all ready on their way to the dungeon, and the rest of us with track down that halfling with the flaming dagger. Madrick can that smelly raccoon of yours track down the halfling’s trail?”


Madrick

 

Kneeling down Madrick whispers something in Bandit’s ear and then after looking eye-to-eye for a moment Madrick stands and answers in his high-pitched voice, “Yep, he sure can … Bandit says … he says, he ‘has a good nose’ … and he wants to go with the other team … ‘they wash’.”   

Aenied replies, "That’s fine we can try it your way, Megan. Personally, I think that Bairdyn and Bingus are going to find more trouble than Snare Drum, but perhaps with Bingus’s familiarity with the Lost Ones they will do fine. If nothing else, he may need rescuing again."