11 Illumination 508 (cont’d)
After dinner with Lord Coln and the party’s business is conducted, he decides to turn in for the night. Surm asks if Riverton has a library and the nobleman responds that the town does not but he, himself, has a modest one. It is mostly made up of the journals of various hunters and such, detailing their kills and their travels. The group asks if any of them were supernatural in nature and Lord Coln replies that, yes, probably some of the creatures were supernatural, especially those hunters that went close to the Rift. Savaric asks if there are any tales of werewolves. The lord does not know. At any rate, Lord Coln bids them good night and gives them permission to peruse his library if they wish.
The group takes this opportunity to discuss their future plans. Surm wants to go to a larger city, one with libraries and sages. He hopes to find a magical item to quest for in order to boost his strength. Rilka wants to find a bank in the city to store some of their riches. Savaric wants to make a home base of some sort, perhaps a buy a home. Mõrvar proposes staying in one area and becoming well-known. Surm disagrees with this proposal—he wants to establish a more far-flung reputation and leave with the people’s good will behind them. Bounty hunting is also proposed by Mõrvar as a possible profession, which is agreed upon by most of the group, though no one has any idea how to break into the trade. It is finally agreed to leave in the morning for Jenna, the nearest large city, and see what it has to offer.
12 Illumination 508
The party leaves Lord Coln’s lodge and travels down the pass into Riverton. They immediately visit a livery in town and negotiate a price to rent horses to use to travel to Jenna. The stablemaster, Saren, will accompany the troupe to Jenna and charge them 4 copper pieces per mile per horse (not counting his own horse, of course) for the journey. This price seems amenable to all involved, even Surm, who also negotiates the sale of the his mule to the man for a more-than-fair price. Saren says that he will be ready to ride by this afternoon, so the party asks if they can leave their gear at the stables while they wait. The stablemaster says they can, so they do, while the party leaves to buy an additional tent and to wait at a tavern. Throughout their negotiations with Saren both Surm and Savaric notice that while the man is friendly, he seems a bit wary of his half-orc patrons.
After buying their tent in the marketplace, the party is looking for a tavern at which to wait out the day. As they make their way through the town, they come upon an alleyway and a large vacant lot. From a group of people gathered in the lot, the party clearly hears a voice say “Just stay down, half-breed!” Savaric and Mõrvar approach the group, with Rilka close behind. Surm reluctantly follows, not wanting to get involved.
In the lot is a gang of about six men surrounding what looks to be a half-orc wielding a scimitar and wearing spiked hide armor. Two men are lying on the ground bleeding, forming a gap in the circle through which the half-orc is visible. Savaric and Mõrvar approach the group and one of their number acknowledges them, motioning to another of his comrades who turns to face them. “You asked for a half-breed?” Mõrvar asks, innocently, and Savaric says that he finds that insulting. Finally, after a tense, silent stand-off, the gang moves to attack and a fight ensues. While the party mostly sticks to non-lethal damage, the half-orc at the center of the conflict seems to have no qualms about shedding blood. He manages to down one of his opponents while the party manages to subdue the rest. Savaric ends the conflict by tackling the final opponent and locking him in manacles.
While the others attend to the wounded and decide what to the captured man, Mõrvar asks the half-orc what started the conflict. “I was walking down the street and I would not yield.” He turns to address everyone and says in Tradespeak “I thank you for your valor,” and then turns to the half-orcs and says the same thing in Urkhani. When Mõrvar acknowledges the same in Urkhani, the half-orc seems surprised and pleased and responds in that tongue “Ah! You speak a civilized tongue!”
When the half-orc notices the others deliberating over the fallen man, he walks over and spits on him and says “Come, let’s live this one in the dirt where he belongs and get a drink together.” As everyone gets ready to go, Mõrvar goes to the man, applies his chill touch to him and whispers “Next time be more careful who you’re prejudiced against. Now take your friends and leave.”
As they make their way to the nearest tavern, the half-orc introduces himself as Marek. He hails from the village of Karsk in the Isles of Urkhan. Everyone else introduces themselves and they all find themselves at The Ancient Toad, a modest rustic tavern. They all settle in around a table and someone asks Marek what his profession is. He says that back home his is a warrior and a raider; that he is currently on a quest. After a pregnant pause, Mõrvar asks him what that quest is. Marek leans in conspiratorially to tell and then seems to think better of it. “Drinks first!” he says and takes everyone’s drink order, calling a wench over. He also seems to take an interest in Rilka, referring to her as “m’lady”.
After everyone has had their drinks, he once again leans in conspiratorially and reveals to them his quest. In Karask, he is a member of the Black Talon clan. According to Black Talon clan lore, this “hero” Darkbane slew the clan’s priest of Saarask back in the day, an orc called Truarsk. If Marek can spit in the eyes of the paladins of Barthal and desecrate the tomb of their hero, the slayer of Truarsk, then perhaps Marek is more than a useless half-man after all. . .Marek has traveled a long way to Riverton to complete his mission and return to Karsk with proof that he has completed the deed—a relic from the dead paladin’s casket. The end of his quest is finally in sight. He will impress Gurach with his prowess and his strength.
After he finishes his tale, Marek takes a long pull off his mug and eyes the party. “I think today was a good omen. I have been given capable friends to share my burden. This quest will not be easy. But, with help, perhaps I can succeed.”
Surm is not buying any of it. “No.”
Mõrvar seems skeptical as well. The two half-orcs are silent.
Marek seems to sense their reluctance and mistakes it’s source. “It is also said that the hero’s treasure has been buried with him.”
Surm rolls his eyes. “Oh, and graverobbing as well.” Mõrvar says that the party has already made arrangements to move on to the next city and that they have other plans.
Marek seems put out by this, but then recovers and orders another round of drinks. “Very well. Then another round for my friends and benefactors.”
The party stays for another round, but after a whispered discussion regarding the implications of being seen with Marek in public and his chances of success, and the chances of the two half-orcs being cast as innocent bystanders in court of public opinion of Marek’s crimes, Surm says to Marek, “You know, we can’t leave until we get your word that you will not do this quest.”
“What do you mean?” Marek asks. “What does this mean for you?”
Surm goes on to explain how they would all, especially Rilka and Savaric, could be implicated in his crimes if he were to get caught—and that there was a. high chance of him getting caught. Plus, that it was simply a bad idea. The risks were too great for too little reward. He could bring the paladins of Riverton down on his clan for this quest. Eventually, Marek rises, places gold for the drinks upon the table, takes up his backpack and gear, mutters “You have my word,” and leaves the tavern.
After a brief discussion, it is decided to take Marek at his word.
The party finishes their drinks, during which time RIlka reveals that she cannot remove her jaunty hat—the one she found down in the ruins they discovered in the mountains. Mõrvar theorizes that it is cursed and that a remove curse spell will be needed to remove it. Everyone—except for Rilka, of course—seems fairly amused by the situation.
After drinks, the party head back to the stables where Saren is putting the finishing touches on the readying the horses. Soon, they are leaving Riverton behind, with Saren leading the way and setting a brisk, but far from breakneck pace. The late spring air is warm and weather is fair. The rest of the day and night is uneventful and pleasant.
13 Illumination 508
This morning the two parties part ways with wishes for mutual good journeys.
The travel toward Jenna is pleasant and warm, as has been the usual on this journey. The day goes by without incident and the party stops at the end of the day to make camp. Saren anticipates making it into Jenna the following morning. As the party is making camp, Surm notices something up in the trees stirring the branches and taking in a large breath—something large, green, reptilian, and scaly. . .
Another pleasant spring day of travel with Saren leading the way to Jenna.
The evening brings a surprise as the party meets another party of adventurers on the road wishing to share a campsite. This new party is traveling on the road toward Riverton and is lead by a woman wearing a longsword and a breastplate who greets the party with a “Hail and well-met!” The group acknowledges the greeting and the woman asks if they can share the campsite for the evening. Surm allows that they can, that there would be safety in numbers. The others come forward and begin making camp and introductions.
The woman leading the band is named Bayhild. Her companions are Wulf, a wiry man dressed in leathers; Cynric, a smallish man in long blue robes; and Gisel, an attractive young woman with a lyre who wears a motley-colored cloak. As the groups settle in to camp together, Wulf begins sharpening his knives, keeping a wary eye on Savaric’s new-found snake companion, Victor. Gisel entertains the company with light music. Cynric begins studying a tome on his lap. Bayhild sits quietly. The other group begins to mingle quietly, with Mõrvar taking a special interest in Gisel the bard.
Rilka approaches Cynric and asks if he is a spellcaster. He acknowledges that, yes, he is a wizard. She begins to tell him about her problem with her hat and asks if he can help. He shakes his head and seems genuinely sad that, alas, it is not within his power to help. She says “thank you anyway” and pulls away to let him continue his study.
That night, the two parties join each other in guard duties and Mõrvar joins Gisel in her tent.
14 Illumination 508
The next morning the two parties part ways with wishes of good journeys. Saren then continues to the lead the group toward Jenna along the road.
At the end of the day, as the group is making their evening camp, Surm notices a large creature—a large, scaly reptilian creature—above them, rustling the branches of the trees, and taking in a large breath. He yells for everyone to move and take cover and suddenly he and his brother are engulfed in an acidic cloud. Savaric begins firing arrows and Rilka takes cover behind one of the large forest trees. The beast then begins to swoop into camp, attacking Savaric. The ranger continues to pelt the thing with arrows while Surm fires his crossbow and both Rilka and Mõrvar attack the beast as it descends. Finally, Mõrvar manages to deal the killing blow the beast and it falls from the sky into the campsite. At this point, a disheveled Saren is coaxed from his hiding place.
Savaric identifies the beast as a Forest Drake, a degenerate cousin to a Green Dragon that plague the deep forests. He then expertly skins the beast and takes the teeth and talons. Unfortunately, he manages to mangle the acid glands of the creature when trying to extract them.
After the excitement of the battle, the rest of the night passes without incident.
15 Illumination 508
This morning sees the group arriving at the eastern gates of the city of Jenna.