The recap of our first episode after returning from a hiatus! This is a literary achievement brought to us by the remarkable Kelly Colby, our dungeon master this season. Seriously, folks, this is a fun read.
Misty Moonraven dropped off the crew at the Lucky Lady Tavern. She paid Winston and Ieneak their agreed upon fee of ten gold each and threw in an extra gold to buy the first round of drinks for the whole party. As Misty left, she told them she was impressed with the way they all handled themselves. If they needed more work, they could find her at the Guild Hall.
Montie the barkeep, with his Irish-esque accent, was willing enough to swing whatever drinks the party desired. Ieneak had a Dwarven stout and Errias a red wine. No one seemed too bothered by the appearance of a tiefling, but it’s a largely diverse town and they’re used to non-human visitors.
After bonding a bit on the wagons into town, Max and Winston expanded their camaraderie by sharing a drink called the Rusty Nail. No one except Montie knew what was actually in it. A sparkly bottle at the top of the shelves behind the bar caught Kizmyth’s eye. Montie got a gleam in his as he poured a healthy portion for the ranger.
“What is this?” Kizmyth asked as the bottle proved to be plain glass while the liquid inside provided all of the sparkle.
Montie just winked. “Try it, darling, and tell me what you think.”
As she took an unlady-like swig, Kizmyth’s eyes bulged, then half closed in delight. “Imma need more of this.”
“Pan-Planar Gargleblaster satisfies every time.”
A feminine voice called from the back. “You might want to be careful, young ranger. Montie likes to push new customers right to their limits.”
Winston raised his glass in greeting as a tall human woman with her brown hair tucked into a leather sleeve glided behind the bar. “Glenys.”
“Welcome back, Winston.” She leaned over the bar top and met him eye to eye. “We’re not going to have a repeat of last time, are we?”
“No, ma’am.” Winston pushed away from the bar and sipped his drink with a bit more restrain than he had started it.
Max looked at him puzzled, but didn’t ask.
Satisfied, Glenys turned her attention to her barkeep. “Montie, where did you get that fancy, shiny drink? I don’t remember ordering it.”
“Oh you know, here and there.” Montie rubbed at a spot on the bar top, not meeting her eyes.
Winston joked about emptying chamber pots into the bottles. Montie gave him a stern look, then saw he was joking and laughed along.
Winston asked the barkeep, “Where can one find work in town?”
Montie answered, grateful for the change in conversation, “Well, Misty being your best bet, but you could also ask around. What kind of work are you looking for?”
Winston shrugs. “Looking to kill bad people I guess.”
Max adds, “We have a certain kind specialized skills.”
Errias looks a bit shocked at the darkened mood of Winston. “You know, you could offer to help people,” he said in his voice that sounded much too soft for such a frightening visage.
Glenys eyed Winston’s mug trying to judge how much he had to drink. “You know, there are other ways to earn a living.”
Montie tried to help. “You could hire on as ship crew or lend a hand with the farmers”
Winston vetoed that option. “Sounds boring.”
Max completely agreed.
“There are fighting rings in Cromm’s Hold that are always in need of warriors,” Glenys said.
Kizmyth slurred her words a bit. “We could throw Max in the ring with his specialized skills.”
Glenys continued, “There are also many specialized shops in town who always need escorted goods and extra hands.”
The party vastly ignored her and joked back and forth.
Glenys clapped her hands and smiled at the bunch. “Excellent. Enjoy yourselves at the Lucky Lady.” She turned a stern eye to Montie. “And you behave yourself. No free rounds.”
Montie snickered, but bowed his head in acquiescence.
The Lucky Lady Tavern wasn’t crowded in this time between lunch and dinner. A beautiful, but not young, woman in a dress with a tight top and a large, flowing bottom sauntered close to Ieneak. She raised her eyebrows suggestively, but he took little heed of her attentions.
A group of cloaked, though unhooded, elves gathered around the hearth, deep in conversation. In the corner farthest from the door were three tables set up for dice. Only one was active at this time, but the three humans and two dwarves laughed raucously, obviously having a good time.
Errias took a sip of his wine and indicated an empty table. “Maybe we should look at our findings from the raid?”
Though reluctant to leave the bar, the rest of the party followed him and placed what they’d found on the table. Max had an unusual dagger; Errias a spellbook still caked in blood; Ieneak a pendant with a flaming sword; Winston a pendant of a wolf head. Kizmyth shoved the couple coins she had found deeper into her pocket and shrugged her shoulders.
Winston picked up Ieneak’s flaming sword pendant. “I know this symbol. It’s on the door of the Shrine of Tempus in town. I know the guy who runs the place.”
Kizmyth straightened in recognition. “I know them, they despise cowardice and supply weapons to anyone who requires them for a just battle.”
Max titled his head. “Should we visit this shrine and see why one of their followers would be attacking caravans?”
After Winston refilled his flask at the bar, the group left the Lucky Lady. The streets flowed with travels of all races and sizes. Everyone was pretty well kempt. Beyond road dirt and the occasional animal droppings, the roads were as well-maintained as the surrounding buildings were opulent.
“Now, I want to warn you,” Winston began, “that Baergon Bluesword, the caretaker of the Shrine of Tempus, is not exactly stable. He never leaves the place so I’ve not gotten to know him well.”
As the party turned the corner to the poorer side of town, the streets became more treacherous to walk on. Paint peeled from the window casings on most of the buildings. The air filled with rotten food and the fetid sweat of unwashed human.
Winston took a swig from his flask and indicated a ramshackle building, slightly leaning to one side. Squeaking as it swayed in the ocean breeze, the door was painted with a huge blue sword surrounded by a red and orange flame.
Ieneak held up the pendant with the identical sign on it. He nodded.
Pop up stores selling sundries scattered across this part of town, some little more than human drawn cart and a sign. One had fruit that had seen better days, while another offered baubles like buttons and charms.
Kizmyth squeaked and rushed to a pop up full of cages. “I want a pet.”
The woman by the cages cracked a crooked smile and squinted through one eye at her much taller customer. “Oh yes, of course, what would you like to cuddle with.” She rattle a hanging cage with a bird that would be brightly colored if he had all of his feathers. “This lovely song bird will entertain you with beautiful whistling.” The bird whacked its head on a bar of the cage but didn’t make a sound.
Kizmyth bounced on her toes so excited at the prospect of an animal companion that she didn’t notice the sad state of the lot. “What’s that?” She point at a cage with a fluff of fur in the corner.
“Oh, the adorable ground squirrel of Kent. Very popular.” The woman shook the cage, but the furball didn’t move. “Uh, it’s nocturnal. As soon as the sun goes down, it’s a lively fiend that eats very little.”
Kizmyth dropped to the ground to admire two rambunctious animals with pointed noses and stripes wrestling in a cage together. “What about these ferrets?”
“Ferrets?” The woman looked confused. Her face brightened at the eager look on her customer’s. “Oh yes, ferrets. That’s what they are. Wonderful companions, but you always need two, you know.” She wiggled a finger at them and one lunged at it, teeth barred. She pulled her hand back and knocked down a buckle behind her. “And they don’t bite at all. How’s two gold?”
Kizmyth jumped up and targeted Winston. “Can I have 2gp? Please?”
Max shook his head. “I’m not sure this is such a good idea.”
Ieneak tugged his bag against his side protectively, but didn’t offer support or disapproval.
Winston melted at the young ranger’s pleas. Maybe, she reminded him of someone. “Fine. Here two gold. But you have to take care of them.”
The merchant held out her hands and tucked the coins into her blouse before Kizmyth changed her mind. She grabbed the change with both hands and shoved it into her customer’s chest. “And here ya are. Take the cage two. My treat.”
Before Kizmyth had time to ask any questions, the woman threw the rest of her cages in the cart and headed out.
Kizmyth tried to pet the furry ones through the cage, but they both lunged and bit her fingers. Every time she tried to pet them, they’d lunge at her. “Now Demetrius and Aristotle, behave yourselves. We’re going to be best friends.” The furry ones seemed to disagree with her assessment as they nibbled on her fingers clutching the cage.
Errias rubbed one of his horns casually considered the bright side. “They are most definitely healthy things, aren’t they?”
With a sigh of frustration, Kizmyth came up with another solution. “Maybe they need to be let out.”
“No!” The rest of the party yelled at the same time.
A kindly older woman stopped by Kizmyth and helped her set the cage on the ground. “Oh deary, what have you got here? Badgers?”
“Badgers?” Max put a hand on his dagger, ready to end this disruption.
The old woman didn’t seem to notice. “Oh my, does that bring back memories. Badgers make terrible housemates. My daughter used to bring home all sorts of beasties. The badgers never quite took to city life I’m afraid.”
Kizmyth tried to put the wrestling badgers in her bag, but the cage wouldn’t fit. “They just need some love.”
“That’s what my daughter used to say.” The helpful woman leaned in conspiratorially. “But I found a touch of alcohol would knock the furry disasters out for at least four hours at a time.”
Kizmyth held her hand out to Winston, who instinctively knew what she wanted. He gave her his flask. She proceeded to drench her fingers with its contents. The badgers stopped struggling and sniffed the air. Kizmyth managed to smear some of the alcohol on both of their noses. The badgers licked the liquor off each other’s snouts and promptly curled up in deep sleep.
“Thank you,” Kizmyth said to the lady, as she scooped the docile creatures out of the cage and into her shoulder bag.
“Of course, my dear, and good luck to you.”
With differing levels of denial and acceptance over their new party members, the group entered the Shrine of Tempus. The inside was no better maintained than the outside. The far wall held a floor to ceiling tapestry of a stunning blue sword surrounded by red and orange flame. On a raised stage before the symbol of faith laid hundreds of flickering white candles, all of differing heights, which offered the only bit of light in the windowless building. Not a single piece of furniture covered the floor, but the walls were engulfed in weapons of every shape and size: cutlasses, swords, spears, bows, daggers.
Winston shouted into the empty room. “Baergon? Are you here?”
A human head, so thin it first appeared to belong to a child, peaked from behind the curtain. “Who is it?” asked a shaky voice.
“It’s me, Winston.” The paladin’s deep voice echoed in the chamber. “Come on out. We have a question for you.”
The extremely thin man popped out from behind the curtain. His arms and legs were so gangly he appeared to have more than one set of each as they moved around the candles, somehow not overturning a single one. His clothes were clean but well-worn. “Friend Winston, it is such a pleasure to see you. I’m so happy you came to visit me. Please have a seat and we can chat.” Baergon flourished a fancy bow to indicate a mostly dusty spot on the empty floor like it was a throne.
“Ah, sure,” Winston mumbled and plopped onto the floor, pretty spry for an old guy.
“Welcome, welcome. I have a new shipment. Would you like to see what was brought?”
Winston indicated the rest of the group. “Can I have a seat for my friends here?”
Baergon jumped two feet in the air like the rest of the group popped in out of thin air. He back up two feet. “OH! You brought more people.”
“I’ve been traveling with them. They’re good. They watch my back.”
Baergon looked skeptical. “They’re not cowards, are they?” he asked with a distinctive quaver to his voice.
“No,” Winston assured the man.
Max stepped up and held out his hand. “I’m Max Derringer.”
Baergon delicately accepted the offered hand with the tips of his fingers. “It’s very nice to meet you.”
The halfling thief practically growled at the perceived wimpiness of the man.
“I have something for you. I’ll be right back.” Baergon hopped back behind the curtain.
Max asked, “How well do you know this man? I don’t trust anyone who shakes a hand like that.”
Winston thrusted out his own hand to the halfling. “You trust me, right?”
With careful consideration, Max gripped the old paladin’s hand. Satisfied with the tight grip, he nodded. “I do.”
Baergon returned with two dusty bottles of wine. “I found these in the stores and I hate to drink alone. Who would like to have a drink with me?”
Errias smiled, his upper and lower fangs gleamed fiercely, but his voice offered nothing but joy. “It’s a party! Let’s have some wine.”
Max mentioned, “We have some badgers that could use some wine.”
Baergon froze and his face paled. “Did you say badgers?”
Winston raised an eyebrow at the Tempus follower. “You’re not a coward are you, Baergon.”
“Of course not, my god will protect me as long as I am brave.” He ripped the cork out of one wine bottle with his teeth and took a long draft. “I’m very brave.” He handed the unopened bottle to Errias.
The tiefling popped the top, took a drink, and passed it on to the rest of the group. When Kizmyth got it, she duped a good portion on top of the sleeping badgers in her bag. They didn’t move.
Ieneak wiped drips of wine from his chin and held up the Tempus medallion to Baergon. “Have you seen this before?”
Baergon flipped the pendant to the back and showed the group an engraving of two Ws. “Oh yes, I have. This is William Waverly’s pendant. He was once one of our most loyal followers until he ran off to the Misty Forest and abandoned his calling. He had been on a mission to arm the ravished people of Cromm’s Hold. Instead of returning for the second set of supplies, William sent a letter proclaiming he had a new mission in the Misty Forest and he never returned.”
Errias scratched the base of a horn. “He abandoned his teachings and his faith. That’s not done lightly.”
“All I know is the people of Cromm’s Hold are being attacked by Lizardmen and Tempus calls us to arm all of those who are brave enough to defend themselves. Somehow, I have to get these weapons to them, but I know nothing more of William Waverly.”
Winston’s eye ticked as he thought of invaders attacking a peaceful settlement.
Baergon sensed the attention of the party and thought maybe he could convince them to complete William’s mission. “If you would be willing to take the final large cask of weapons to Cromm’s Hold, as William was meant to, I would gift you this.”
He removed a cutlass from the wall of weapons. Dust fell from its surface as if it couldn’t stick there with the agitation of movement. The metal danced with the flickering candlelight. The hilt was jewel-encrusted with a resin of unknown origin smoothing the grip.
Ieneak gasped. “I know that weapon. It is the Cutlass of Ocean Storms. You can harness lightning with it.” His fingers gripped and ungripped like he wished to take the weapon from Baergon now.
Winston motioned to the group. “Let’s huddle.”
After a bit of grumbling about how it was only one weapon and most of the party couldn’t even use it, Winston, with Errias encouragement, convinced the rest that it would be worth it to accept the mission to help the people of Cromm’s Hold.
“We’re in,” he said to Baergon.
“That’s wonderful news.” Baergon replaced the cutlass on the wall and called to the back for the cask of weapons.
Four small gnome-like creatures hobbled out from the back, again somehow missing all of the candles, carrying a large crate on two long poles. They scurried to the back as soon as they set it down with a thump.
Baergon opened both sides of the lid revealing stacks of swords, a few good bows, and an impressive amount of arrows. “If you are in need of a cart and horse, seek out Derval Ironeater, the blacksmith. He is a supporter of ours.”
Errias and Winston carry the heavy crate outside, as they all head toward the caravan side of town once again.
As they pass the Master Guild Hall, Ieneak had an idea. “I’m going to make sure Misty doesn’t need anything transported to or from Cromm’s Hold.”
The well-dressed guards at the door eye Ieneak. After a bit of questioning, they allow him in since they’d seen him work for Misty before. The lower level of the Hall was packed with desks and paperwork and young pages running around delivering messages back and forth. Scribes yelled orders across the room. Some craftsman studied bits of cloth while others weighed exotic spices. Ieneak couldn’t tell how any had any clue what was going on. Also, he’d never been inside the building before and had no idea where Misty would be.
Ieneak caught one of the scampering page boys he recognized from around town. “Where’s Misty?”
“Oh, Ieneak it’s good to see you. Misty? Do you have an appointment?”
“Yes,” Ieneak lied without a second thought. He didn’t have the patience for niceties.
“Oh well, that’s alright then.” The page boy motioned to the stairs. “She’d be up there.”
Climbing the stairs with complete confidence, Ieneak blinked at the utter quiet of the second floor. He stared down a long hallway with doors on either side. Each door had a name plate in Common, Elvish, and another language he didn’t recognize. When he found Misty’s name, he knocked on the door. Nothing happened.
He knocked again, and called out to her, “Misty? May I have a word?”
From within the closed room, something smacked to the floor and some furniture scraped along the baseboards. Angry whispers filled the emptiness, but Ieneak couldn’t make out the voices. Before he decided what to do next, the door cracked open.
“Darius?” Ieneak recognized Misty’s trusted companion.
“Ieneak? What do you want? Didn’t we just buy you drinks? How are you back so soon?” He looked flustered and a bit out of breath.
“We are headed to Cromm’s Hold and were wondering…”
“Cromm’s Hold? Well, then go. We’ll see you when you get back.” Darius slammed the door, and ended the conversation.
Ieneak resisted the urge to set the door on fire. Instead, he made his way back downstairs and checked out the four work order boards on the wall. He didn’t see anything for Cromm’s Hold so headed back out to meet up with the rest of the party.
At the blacksmith’s establishment, the rest of the party were having a hell of a time getting the grumpy old dwarf to cooperate. After Ironeater finally figured out that the group was heading to Cromm’s Hold, he offered them the use of his cart and horse as long as they agreed to find his son Xanic and return him to Daggerford. He’d gotten mixed up with the gambling and fighting rings in Cromm’s Hold and refused to come home.
They agreed since they didn’t see any other way.
The whole group decided to get rooms in the Silver Flood Inn for the night.
Adventure to continue next time…