Campaign of the Month: July 2012

Guardians of the Frontier

Day 25, 'Treasure hunts and pissing contests'

Day 25, 'Treasure hunts and pissing contests'

Max awakes in bed, head pounding, surrounded by empties, and sandwiched between two snoring barmaids.
Sitting up and rubbing his face, the big man is suddenly struck with déjà vu.
The pungent waft of tobacco alerts Max that he is not alone.
Turning to the source, Max sees Trakas leaning against the wall in the corner, smoking a pipe.
“Again with the bad manners bigman. I’m beginning to question if you really are as stupid as you seem or if it’s all an act and maybe I should be worried some eh?.”
The dwarf leans forward a bit out of the shadows, one hand moving to his belt. “Should I be worried Max?”

A young runner arrives in the early morning politely requesting the presence of Maltron and guest at the Mages academy at the earlier convenience. After a light breakfast and possibly a few ‘eye-openers’ for Farouk. The two make their way to the academy. The clerk leads them to a small side room. Inside are 4 high-backed chairs, a crackling fireplace with mantle, and a small table with various glass and clay bottles. Adorning the walls are bookshelves lined with a large assortment of various tomes, manuals, scrolls, and tablets.
Seated are two individuals both of whom Maltron recognizes as Guardian Marcetheus and Bel’Ybryaa Malvetent. Standing beside them is a human priest in robes.
Marcetheus and Bel both stand as the Mal and Farouk enter the room. Marcetheus greets them both with a nod and raised finger of ‘just a moment’. The priest (who was not introduced) bows his head, raises his hand in a slight gesture and murmurs a few low words. The prayer complete, he turns to the two mages and nods his head in approval. Marcetheus dismisses him with a nod, and the priest gives Maltron and Farouk a slight bow before exiting the room.

Bel strolls up and embraces Maltron. Meekly she apologies ‘for everything’ and reassures him that she’s ‘doing much better now’. She explains she has a very busy morning as ‘Marc’ is keeping her busy with various experiments and she must return but she would very much like to catch up with all soon if time permits. With a light peck on the cheek, she bids farewell and asks Mal to relay her apologies to the group and her hopes that she can see them all soon. She’ll send a messenger when she finds a free moment. Excusing herself she leaves the room, closing the door behind her.

Marcetheus introduces himself to Farouk then offers the pair a drink before sitting down to talk.

“Welcome mages. I am pleased to see you have made it through your ‘hunt’ successfully and relatively no worse for wear. Kargan’s head is indeed a valuable asset but is proving to be a somewhat labyrinthian task to withdraw information from. Rest assured, we will crack open that bastard’s head and find our answers, figuratively first of course, then if need be, literally.”

He takes a sip of deep purple wine from his small cordial glass.
“We have much to discuss, first the Zhentarium signet. An interesting custom piece. I’ve heard of such devices and it was a pleasure to study one in person. This ring is a communication device of sorts. It is ‘keyed’ or ‘slaved’ to another. When one of the rings is worn and the right combination of spells are cast, it allows the wearer to ‘notify’ the other ring bearer they wish to commune. The other can then ‘answer’ the call or ignore it. It will take a few more days to discern the correct spell combination to do so I’m afraid. But that should give us ample opportunity to prepare an appropriate strategy when the time comes.”

Turning to Farouk. “Master Maltron has informed me you wish to join our guild. Before we discuss the specifics as to what that entails, let us discuss Farouk. My apologies for this formality.”
Marcetheus casts Charm on Farouk.
“If you please, tell me about yourself, what futures do you seek?”

Klembsy is summoned to the temple of Shi’ti and is invited to tour their gardens with the senior acolyte, a human around the same age as Klembsy. The druid relays his interest in regeneration as well as explains his vision at the shrine. The acolyte responds. “Two items of pressing interest indeed.” Contemplating a nearby brush of herbs, he continues. “The cardinal can regrow your arm but I feel this would be in conflict with your vision. It seems that your goddess Mielikki has other methods in mind for you to pursue. In your battle with the giants at the shrine, why did you not cleanse the stone before you continued on your journey? It would seem this ‘stain’ is deeper than the physical sense. As a druid you came upon one of the only holy sites to your deity in this territory and from what you tell me, a long forgotten one at that. I’m sure Mielikki did not wish you to stray from your task at hand to tend to the shrine but walking away and leaving the holy stone marred with foul blood, that most likely was a poor decision. The site and your faith are tainted brother and both must be cleansed properly. I would suggest doing what you can to clear the years of neglect from the grove. Then the stone should be cleaned in spirit as well as substance. Keep yourself and your methods pure while doing so.
Create water, bless it, perhaps even cast light upon the water. Use this to wash the stone while praying. Meditate on what other gifts Mielikki has blessed you with that you may use to purify and utilize those as well. Once completed, bless the shrine and area once more and end the evening in prayer and contemplation before sleeping there in the grove. If you have appeased your goddess, your dreams may enlighten you that evening. If you find these tasks bring you no aid or sign, return to us once again and we can discuss the expensive and lengthy process of regeneration here. Strength, focus, and honesty in faith be with you in your task my brother.”

When Klembsy returns to Charcoals Hoken informs him that Bobo is in the Inn’s nearby stables and that he has loaded the ass up with gear the druid will need to clear the shrine, no charge. (bucket, scythe, shovel, rations, hammer, wood axe, etc.)

Max gulps, Trakas makes him nervous, always has, probably always will. Wide-eyed, Max stammers, “I, um, I’m sorry? I got distracted? Is there a fight scheduled? Is Wally mad at me?” He looks genuinely flustered and apologetic, eyes wide at the prospect of getting gutted by Trakas. “What can I do? Should I go over to see Wally now?”

Max gulps, Trakas makes him nervous, always has, probably always will. Wide-eyed, Max stammers, “I, um, I’m sorry? I got distracted? Is there a fight scheduled? Is Wally mad at me?” He looks genuinely flustered and apologetic, eyes wide at the prospect of getting gutted by Trakas. “What can I do? Should I go over to see Wally now?”

Farouk smiles and gives a little bow,

“Pleased to meet you! I’m just a guy trying to make his way in this world with as little drama as possible. You know what I mean?
A few guys told me bout this place, great economy, and full of colorful characters they told me. A place big enough to get lost in, but still small enough so that a smart man can still make a difference.

You see, I’m not only a mage, but I’m a merchant. I had a shop once, buyin, sellin, castin and even making a potion or two every now and then. That shop burnt down, and I felt it was time to start a new life somewhere else. When Mal here told me there was a Wizards guild here, well that just made it perfect! I thought to myself. You know *Farouk*… This is the kinda place where you could make a go at it again, and this time, no fires.”

Kistol meets with Jo in the morning for a light breakfast of strong tea, crispy thick bacon, and cheese and scallion biscuits.
He relays his concern over the news of the ongoing turf brawl as well as discusses Farouk and Francis’ interest with the guild.
She responds. “Sure we’ve got more territory but who knows what the actual numbers are. A mage and a pirate with his own ship eh? And you can vouch fer these types? Not bad. Both would definitely come in handy, I can already think of few angles we can use em’ for coming up that will bring in some nice coin. And with our current particular issues, I’m assuming Ravencloak will want as many blades under his belt as he can get. Plus for us, if it gets messy, we may have to put some significant distance between us and Frontier. Having a ship in the wings is a nice extra ace in the deck. Pokk it, arrange a meeting. I’ve got the sitdown tonight with RC but afterwards let’s catch an ale at the ‘Hydra Maiden.’ (in BC territory, Kistol is familiar with it. By the docks, divey but private.)
You can intro your new boyfriends and then I’ll catch you up with what comes out of the sitdown.”
Klembsy walks back from the Shi’ti’ temple very thoughtful. He tries to playback the scenes from the last days and for the first time he concludes that he had been very unfaithful. He had definitely put the slavery ‘business’ at a higher rank than a resecration of his goddess’ only shrines in the area. It seems that his lust for adventure and perhaps violence (or money?) has taken his mind away from his true faith and worship. Klembsy returns praying all the way.
In getting back to Charcoal’s he tries to find Maltron and also see what Max is up to. After the conversation with the acolyte, he wants to leave for the shrine as soon as possible, even alone if needed.
“Let’s see if the big man has waken up after all this boose”, he says to himself.

After Breakfast, Finna hires an errand boy to take her armor and shield for repair, she lets him know to leave word at Charcoals or at Srrens when it is ready.
She, Trist, and Wren then head over to Srrens to pray, train, etc.
Along the way, Trist looks into a few nearby armories for a magic shortsword.
450 for +1 magic
850 for +2, reddish light 20’ radius upon command.
She already has a whetstone. (found one in the orc complex)

The trio is greeted at the temple of the northern gods by the young acolyte Odaenain who alerts Srren to their arrival.
The cleric joins the trio in prayer in the temple. Afterwards Trist and Wren set up a suitable set of targets in an area nearby and begin archery practice. Finna works with acolyte Freeyan (the older of the two boys, both of whom seem very excited to have the ladies around and do their best to hustle and impress whenever they can) in working on the addition to the temple (staging the stones, prepping the area, sweaty work). Srren tends to the garden while Odaenain looks to be building a nearby livestock pen.
A few bells after midday, Srren offers all food and refreshments consisting of chilled tea sweetened with a dash of honey, walnuts, raw carrots, a few apples, and hunks of rye bread with slices of raw purple onion and sharp but dry yellow cheese.
Talk during lunch is light and afterwards work resumes with Wren and Trist opting to assist in the manual labor as well.
As the sun begins to set, Srren thanks the ladies for their help during the day with small drink of home-made mead. Before bidding farewell, The old cleric offers Finna a small manual of Freya to aid in her tutelage of Trist.
A blessing is cast on the trio before they finally depart, returning to Charcoals for baths and supper.

Hoken explains to Finna and Wren he’ll wave the membership fee for the adventurer’s guild for them both and he’ll have the signaltarian come by tomorrow evening. The guild offers members discounted prices on certain items, access to adventuring contracts, recovery and rescue services, identification and vaulting services, and funeral services to name a few. “Basically you’re on the short list when someone or something comes up with an opportunity. Plus people know with Frontier guild members we’re legit types and won’t be robbing the client blind once we’re outta down.”

Trakas moves forward intentionally tapping over empty bottles on the floor with his feet to punctuate his words. “Last time CLANK you wandered back CLANK I told you CLANK you hurt people’s feelings CLANK when you come back to town CLANK and don’t say HELLO.”
On ‘hello’ he kicks one of the bottles into the wall with a loud smash, waking the ladies with a start.
“Bitches, out.” The dwarf grimly states while staring at Max.
The ladies hurriedly grab their clothes and scurry out.

“Get dressed big britches, Wally wants to see you. Now.”

Max puts on just what modesty requires (no armor or weapons), and hurries out with Trakas. “Ok! Ok! I’m dressed, I’m coming.”Marcetheus sips his drink and nods his head listening to Farouk.
“Alchemist eh? Our current alchemist is primarily involved in potion brewing and her fondness for the drink has regrettably transferred to her craft. The potions she puts out as of late, albeit effective, have a distinctively high alcohol content and are not very practical in the field if you can imagine.”
“If you were so inclined, I’d like to allow you a temporary access to a laboratory so you may produce some examples of your craft.
If found suitable, not only would you be granted membership within the guild but we would also seek to set up your own working lab, creating specifics, educating apprentices, commissioned experiments and what not. And you would of course be schooled in the our current Alchemists methodology and practices and hopefully would be able to provide some refinement to her work. Would this be an arrangement that would hold some interest to you Farouk?”

In response to the boyfriends line, “Your just jealous I’m gettin’ more action than you. Yeah, I’ll vouch for ‘em. Farouk’s a little eccentric, but smart and good to have on your side. Francis is just our kinda guy. See you tonight.” He gives her a wink and says, “Say hi to Ravencloak for me.” He turns back before he leaves, “By the way, were either of the fence who got beaten Palladdie?”

Later he arranges the meet with Farouk and Francis, “Johanna wants to meet you guys. Divey place called the Hydra Maiden over by the docks. You’ll love it, Francis!”

For the day Kistol decides to browse around Rock Pond looking for a cloak that will help him hide in shadows. He’ll stock up on caltrops, as well. (Is that a thieve’s guild item?)

Addition: He looks for special bows as well, magic or otherwise that help with either aim or damage, or anything else that seems interesting.

Later he arranges the meet with Farouk and Francis, “Johanna wants to meet you guys. Divey place called the Hydra Maiden over by the docks. You’ll love it, Francis!”

“Sounds great Kistol, Charcoal’s is great and all, but I could use some new surroundings, and a more sea fairing clientele.”

Farouk mulls over the offer and offer his own,

“So let me get this straight. In return for my expertise, instruction and babysitting some prentices, your gonnna fix me up with a lab and guild membership….

Hmmm… That doesn’t leave me a whole lot of free time to take care of my business or do any do any personal research. Not to mention taking care of prentices is not cheap. They blow through reagents faster than a fireball in library.

Ill tell ya what. Let me know how this sounds. Ill pay you back in goods and services equal to the cost of that fancy lab and give those prentices a foundation in Alchemy but I aint paying for their lab fees that comes out of my debt to you. As far as your in house lab rat goes, Ill do what I can to teach her the difference between a potion and a strong drink. But here is the hold up. I like my freedom. After I help yous guys out, I’m in and you cut me loose.

You see I like my independence, and I don’t see myself stuck in a basement lab babysitting prentices all my life. That’s just not for me. Gotta get out, fumes you know… So what do ya think sound fair?"

Farouk is feeling a little uncomfortable about getting in too deep with the Ravencloaks, Farouk inquires about the other factions and where the are located and the businesses they are into.

Farouk breaks away from his comrades at some point and gets into disguise and tours the big city, hitting each of the territories. Using his keen observation skills, ESP and Message, he lets everyone know and to pass the word, there is a new guild mage in town, and that his services are available. First come first serve. Gold buys you honesty in trade and a Don’t ask don’t tell policy.

Trist tells Hoken, I can assist the guardians while here in town if they have need of me. I Al’s want to help my friend Klembsy in his quest.

Trist thanks both Finna and Wren for there guidance and hopes to learn more from them each day.
“Sisters I promised to help Klembsy restore his temple and I will train with you everyday that I can. I was teaching Francis the bow the last time we were in town so he may ask for more lessons.

Trist chats with the others to make sure things are going ok for them.
“You are most welcome Trist, I will continue to help where I can. If Frances is interested, while you aid Klembsy I would be happy to work with him on his bow skills. I practice every day and delight in sharing my knowledge with others”Francis uses any spare time for weapons practice on his new whip. Getting the feel for it, using both his main and offhand.

Marcetheus sets his drink down. “Fair enough. We can re-address these details after your samples have been reviewed.”
With a wave of the hand, Marcetheus dispels the Charm person.

“Until then, we have a matter to propose.” The wizard stands and walks towards the fireplace. The wall shimmers and disappears as he walks through it. With the illusion dropped, the small study looks to be only the front of a much larger room. Lined with bookshelves teaming with materials, in the far back of the room is what appears to be an exact copy of the illusion, a crackling fireplace and mantle. Multiple chairs and side tables are scattered about and in the middle of the room is a large table covered with various papers, books, scrolls, small statuary, and devices. Multiple robed figures also fill the room. Clearly other mages, all appear to be immersed in study. Some sit, puffing away on pipes, others pace, mumbling low to themselves lost in thought. Farouk and Maltron count a total of 5 they can see.
Marcetheus walks to the table and hunches over placing his hands down over a large map. He motions to Farouk and Maltron to join him. The large map appears to be a tunnel or sewer system of some kind. Marcetheus then lays a large stone tablet on the map. Roughly the size of a book, it covered in strange runes and looks to be very old.
“Some time ago this tablet was found by a Rivertree fisherman. It was analyzed and for some time remained something of a guild mystery. It was not until recently one of our Rockseer mages decided to review the tablet. Shortly after it was identified as an ancient elven artifact, and from the inscriptions, possibly even dating back to the Crown wars.
“Translation was lengthy and consuming but the tablet was revealed to be an instruction manual of sorts. Apparently, long ago, this area was the base of operations for a clandestine group of mages who were working to create three particular items meant for use during the wars. Further research discovered the items were successfully completed but for unknown reason never used and eventually stowed away until no further records could be found with mention. We assume they were destroyed or, intentionally or unintentionally, forgotten.”
“In the last few months, certain locales in Rivertree have been sites of what were assumed to be up until recently, mere thieves guild territorial disputes. It wasn’t until an apprentice with, let’s say, some insight into the guild’s activities made an exciting connection. You see, Underneath Rivertree and most of Frontier is a network of caves and tunnels. And on the tablet is also listed specifics hinting to the archived locations of the items. Although items 2 and 3, are not listed in this tablet but the first item is. Our research has concluded the first item’s location to be here (he points to a nearby map of Rivertree) underneath a merchant’s house. A merchant who is also a suspected fence for the guild and a who’s establishment, recently, has also mysteriously been destroyed down to the foundation which, underneath, revealed an ancient cave.”
“We believe someone is also aware of these items, is currently searching for them, and most likely has the first as well as the 2nd tablet. We believe the 2nd tablet reveals the location of the 2nd item and 3rd tablet, which ultimately leads to the final relic.”
“Now the guardians do have some contacts within the thieves guild but up until this point have not managed to discern the mystery treasure hunter. That’s where you both come in.”
“We believe we are close to discovering the location of the 2nd tablet, based on the vague clues from the first, but we need a third party to get there first. Not to retrieve but observe.” “Because of the possible potential these relics may possess we need to know who or what we are dealing with. We need you to let who ever find the tablet and then follow and find out who whomever is?”
“This task is not without risk, but then again it is not without reward. Accomplish this and the guardians are prepared to be most generous with your success.”
“Also, you will have assistance. The thieves guild of Frontier can be a treacherous dance.”
Marcetheus motions to a cloaked figure in the shadows by the fireplace.
The figure steps forward lowering her hood to reveal a young, human, and very attractive female dressed in plate.
“This is Alvyra of the Frontier Road watch. She will assist you with your dealings in the underbelly of Rivertree. She has been in the field for sometime so recognition of her as watch should not be an issue. Regardless, we’ve put strategies in place that should any questions be asked regarding her status, a backstory of an unpleasant and violent situation led to her long ago dismissal from the watch. As far as any one knows, she is currently a hired sword. Your hired sword. It is assumed, of course, that you will enlist the aid of any of your recent companions. Unfortunately, Ein will not be able to assist as he is away on other matters.”
“So young mages, what say you, will you accept this request?”

Alvyra looks over the pair. She thinks, What did I do to deserve this? Seems the Town Watch can’t do its job, and now I have to babysit a bunch of irregulars and do it for them! A bunch of mage irregulars no less. Yeah, they think they’re so clever, but they’re always looking for someone with a sword to hide behind. That’s what it always comes down to in the end, shoving a sword down someone’s throat. Let’s see, we have quill-neck and ink pot I think. Quill-neck is pretty cute, not my type, too scrawny, but still pretty cute. Ink pot looks like somebody’s dirty uncle, too friendly for anyone’s good, not my type either, probably married anyway, look how old he is!

Alvyra flashes a 10,000 platinum piece smile and says, " Well met! May the enemies of justice and mercy face the wrath of Tyr! I am Alvyra servant of Tyr and member, ahem, former member of the Road Watch. I look forward to our mutual endeavors to protect Fontier."

s Alvyra approaches, Maltron and Farouk catch a whiff of perfume, something floral.

Farouk rolls his eyes at Alvyra’s slip…

Marcetheus, dealing with any thieves guild can be treacherous… Mal and I are gonna have to talk to the boys on this one. If its something they are up for we can talk further. Makes some plans and do this right.

You see…Earlier I mentioned I didn’t like drama. Possibly pissing off every guild house in the city… well that to me is drama… And having them all know your name… well damn… even worse. WE are defiantly have to think on this.

Farouk looks over at Alvyra and murmurs…“Definatly gonna need more silk and less steel..”

Such an interesting new path her life has taken since leaving Kappka and meeting her new friends Wren thinks after the meeting with Finna and Hoken. Frey new exactly what she needed to pull her out of the funk she was in. As her thoughts continue to wander on her blessings, she wonders if the Seaman (Frances) would like to take a couple of horses out for part of the day. Wren could use some forest time and the Seaman makes her laugh which she enjoys. Of course she would offer to work with him on his knowledge of archer which would be very productive. So Wren will set off in search of Frances to see if he is interested in venturing out after her meeting with Hoken the next day. “Assuming…… he knows how to ride” she thinks to herself………….

Ah, a fruitful day! This book is a good start to what Trist needs to know. It probably would not hurt myself to read it as well. Finna continues walking back to Charcoal’s with Trist and Wren and speaks to them. “My thanks, sisters, for your company and assistance today. I may not know which deities hold sway in this country but I will not allow Freya or her brethern to be silent and unknown. Helping Srren enlarge and improve upon this temple will go a great way in helping people. In the temples to Freya that I began my service in, we welcomed most anyone, few were turned away from joining. The people here should know this as well. Odin All-Father, Freya, even Frey, are compassionate enough to welcome these people as followers. There are others around here as well, even Max has a symbol of Tyr.”

“I found it amusing, and quite refreshing, to see how those two youngsters carried on today. I think they were trying to impress you two. I think I saw Odaenain slow down when he could see the two of you practicing, Freeyan seemed slightly jealous that he couldn’t see you from where we were. When I remember, I must ask Srren how he came to this city and more on those two pojkes.”

During the meal, Finna listens to Hoken as he explains the adventurer’s guild and benefits. She nods in agreement with his words. “My thanks to you for dispensing with the fee for joining the guild. I look forward to tomorrow evening. After seeing the large number of signals that were retrieved, I see it would be advantageous to have it blood marked as well. May Freya bless you.”

At some point during the meal, Finna will get Wren’s attention. “Wren, on our way back to town, I was somewhat withdrawn into my own thoughts, trying to see what was holding back Freya’s blessing to me. I don’t know if I ever did hear you say anything as to where you were from or why you happened to be nearby, save that Frey may have guided you to us. If it is not too much to ask, could I hear that now or would this be better suited for a more private setting?”

Farouk bows to the Lady of Steel and the guild master “It has been a pleasure, We’ll be back just got a have a talk with the boys”

Unless Maltron has more to add Farouk waits to be shown out.

Farouk tries to squeeze some study time in, If the boys are interested in this new adventure…Hes not going in without a new spell or two, backup, and a contingency plan for his contingency plan. Plans churn like wheels within wheels, how out stealth the stealthy in their own element Farouk thinks…how indeed.

Oh Marcetheus, one last thing, that Zhent ring… you mentioned a combination of spells could activate it. You might wanna try these first…Farouk rattles off the spells..“It was what we found in Enthars spellbook.” Farouk does the wink, smile and point before exiting stage left.

Farouk would like to learn/copy the following from the spellbook on his off time If possible:

Unseen Servant
Detect Invisibility
Forget

Upon hearing Finnas question, Wren slows her pace some and her face saddens. “Lets go find a place with food and drink, the answer will take more than a few moments to provide. And…” stammering a bit " Until I met your group a decision I was unsure that Frey approved of."

So going whereever Finna suggest and ordering food and drink Wren begins in a slow quiet voice looking down at the table:

“I guess the reality is I ran away from home. I simply could not take anymore and so I took a horse, rode to the shore, traded the horse for passage on a ship that was leaving for any land not in the nations. As far away as I could get, thats all I wanted. We were at sea so long that days turned to weeks then months, then, there was a storm” looking up at Finna “Finally we docked in these lands and I have been exploring these forest, praying, searching for inner peace, ever since.” looking back down at the table, “I know how that sounds but much had happened to bring me to that place in my mind” she chokes up as she continues, “The beginning started during the nations tournament of champions, a year long multi-national competition held in arenas in many different lands. I had wanted to compete so much and with my fathers blessing I did. It was during this time a mad man inacted on a plan he had been working on for much time. It was little things at first like his group of thugs causing disruption and attempting to “fix” battles. It just kept getting worse as the tournament progressed culminating”…. she stops briefly taking a large gulp of wine and failing to hide the tears flowing down her face “Culminating with the dinner that was held in honor of the new Champions. All the members of the council were in attendance as was proper including my father. He was also one of the hundreds that died from the sickness that began to afflict them. Within hours a hundred or more nations had lost their leaders and heirs. Throwing everything into to such chaos….. there is so much…..too much.” composing herself once again “I am sure that there will be time for the rest of this story. I feel that meeting you and the others is a blessing that has pulled me from lingering too long in my own sorrow” reaching out and touching Finnas hand “Thank you for caring enough to ask” she smiles and ask “Are these your homelands”?

Maltron looks Alvyra in the eyes and takes a subtle deep breath of her flowery perfume. “Pleasant,” he muses, “pleasant to the eye. This one is no bar wench or sickly waif. This one is powerful and appealing. Perhaps a bit law abiding for my type, but one cannot expect a perfect match.”

With a very slight smile, he then turns to Marcetheus, “As Farouk has stated, we will need to speak this over with our companions before agreeing on their part. We should be more than capable of completing the job.”

Turning to Alvyra, “Well met to you Alvyra. I too look forward to our mutual endevours.” Again with a very slight smile. “It would only be fitting if you were to join us on our return trip to our lodgings so you can meet the others. Would you be so kind as to accompany us?”

Klembsy restrains his impatience and waits for Maltron, Max and Trist to return in Charcoal’s.

Klembsy approaches Hoken and asks if he can leave some coins for safekeeping to him.
Alvyra can feel Farouk removing her armor with his eyes. Ugh! What a lecherous old man! She smiles at Maltron, charmed at his confidence and politesse, “I would be delighted to accompany you.” She tosses her luxurious golden locks as she walks past the pair towards the door. She waits for them to open it for her and lead the way.

Trist notes the price of the +2 shortsword for future reference as she is low on fund for now.

Trist tells Klembsy,“I am ready when you are”.

She thanks her sisters for the training and lets them know of her pending trip with Klembsy.
As Alvyra struts past, Farouks looks at Maltron and Just shakes his head silently, giving the universal man sign…“Uhh uhhh…trouble…”

Trakas escorts Max to the The Duplicate Blessing on River root island in Rivertree.
The bar is fairly crowded but with what appears to be warriors not patrons.
Conversations stop and all eyes turn as Trakas and Max enter.
“Take a seat.”

The dwarf enters a back room leaving Max sitting at the bar. Looking about, the big man counts 16 fighters in the room. A mix of dwarves, humans, a few half elves, and a handful of ½ orcs. Each look to be gritty, experienced, and relatively unsavory characters.

Wally enters with Trakas in tow.
“Max my boy. You look rested. Made it back from your field trip alive?! No doubt it was relaxing I assume? Still have all your fingers and toes? Let me get you the usual. Been sometime since you had one of the house bravery potions eh?” He says with a smile revealing several gold teeth.
The dwarf slaps Max on the arm and moves behind the bar. A few moments later he slides a cold tankard of ‘bravery potion’ into Max’s hand.
Moving back around, Wally takes a seat on the stool next to him.
Lighting a pipe, the dwarf puffs away.

“You’ve made it back just in time for some real fun. Seems some ‘associates’ of mine have decided business for Wally has been too good for too long and want a piece. Naturally, I’m not interested in any partners. But these men are insistent in their greed and have decided to take what’s Wally’s regardless of what Wally says. So, my big lad, the fire is up, the kettle is whistling and Wally’s going to serve up tea time. Hence all of my new employees here.” He says with a wave of his hand.
“Understand Max? We’re taking the fight straight up the arseholds of these carrion crawler mother pokkers who think they can grind me out of my turf. Not only are we going to finally smash the Whitesmiths and Ravencloak, we’re taking over. You’re looking at the next guild master of Frontier mah boy and I’mma gonna offer you the prestigious position of my personal praetorian, body-guarding and the like. Seeing how you owe me and all, I’ll consider this as your repayment to me, installment-like. Hell, I’ll even let you out of 2 of the 3 brawls you’re obliged n’ required. How’s that sound? You’ll be my shadow ole’ Maxy, shack up here back in your old bunkroom just like old times. Trakas will take you back over to pick up your gear and you can let your chummy chums know about your prestigeious new gig, hell let em know I may even have some work for any with the tooth for it. Maxy, my hammer, today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Wally takes a deep pull of a tankard and slaps the bar, hopping down from the stool. “Welcome to the forge brother." (the forge is a reference to the Ingots )
With that he returns to the backroom, disappearing through a side door.
Trakas, staring daggers at Max, cracks a walnut in his hand and crunches on the contents.
Flatly he states. “Let’s go get your gear and get you setup.”

Max chugs the foul brew. It tastes as awful as ever, that’s how Max knows it’s working. He winces and blinks squintingly a few times as he forces it down. When done, he let’s out a relieved gasp and gives his head a few shakes. “Wow Trakas, peoples are moving against Wally? What did he ever do to anyone? That’s not right! Yeah, let’s go get my stuff.”

Back at Charcoal’s, Max leaves a message for his friends (sounds like they’re all out). “I’m gonna bodyguard Wally for a bit, somebody’s after him and it will help pay off my debts. If you’re interested in helping too, maybe Wally will hire you. I’ll be at the Duplicate Blessing on River Root Island.”

With Wren’s story finished, Finna feels a great sadness. The lump takes a bit of effort to swallow to allow speech. She graps Wren’s hand and gives it a squeeze before it can be pulled away. “Whenever you are ready, I know Trist and I will always be available and willing to listen to you. Blessed Freya has helped us join together, three women looking for their place in these lands away from the past that we would rather not dwell on.” She breaks into a wry grin. “It’s funny, here I am, feeling like the older woman, trying to help a youngster out and, most likely, the reverse is the more likely reality.”

Wren smiles and asks “Are these your homelands?” Finna’s gets a wistful smile and shakes her head. “No, this is not my homeland. I grew up a long way from here. I would have stayed there if it had not been for the day I met Edda. She was a sethir, a priestess of Freya who is granted the ability to forsee the future. The day I met her, I was instantly drawn to know more about her and Freya. I left with her and was her assistant for many years.”

“As time passed, I began to take on a more prominant role, albeit reluctantly. I rarely had the visions Edda was blessed with. My calling seemed to be more towards honoring her as a warrior. As we travelled, I had many opportunities to learn different weapons, shields and armor. My days on the farm in my youth had given me a fair amount of strength, I used it to honor Freya. I still tried to honor her by doing those things like Edda but, that sometimes did not work out.”

“The day came when Edda could no longer travel and I was forced to take up the mantle of priestess on my own. I would like to say I did well but that would not be the entire truth. It was a struggle. It was during one of those times that I made a grave mistake. I was to help a woman who was having concerns over her future. She was recently widowed with two young children and was concerned that her age would prevent her from finding another husband. She was at least 10 years my junior and her words seemed more like whining and complaining. It grated my nerves to the point I could not get into a trance. I snapped at her, telling her that she should probably not bother Freya with her request, she should call upon Idun, goddess of youth, to give her a more youthful appearance.”

Finna’s eyes water a bit as she continues. “Freya appeared before me the instant I finished speaking. She removed her blessings from me and cast me away, telling me that I would have to atone for my transgression. When I awoke, I could no longer cast spells, any prayers seemed to not go anywhere and she had removed her blessing of beauty, causing me to be plain. I travelled from temple to temple, trying to learn the way to atone but nothing every could be told to me. I began to use my weapons training, adventuring with the occasional group, to earn money.”

With a cough and a long pull of mead, she continues. “For two years I wandered, not once knowing what I should do. A few weeks ago, I began to feel an urge to travel in this direction. The closer I got to those hills north of here, the greater the intensity of that feeling became. It finally dawned upon me that Freya was behind this urge and that I could be close to learning how to atone and return to her side. I woke up one morning, just 7 days back, to the sound, as I now know, of a frontier signal. Searching for the sound, a received a sign in the form of a hawk flying in the direction of Trist. When I arrived, she was surrounded by twelve orcs, two of them already dead at her hand. I rushed into battle, hoping that saving Trist would be the beginning of my atonement. We killed them all, save the one to whom I gave the option of living or dying if he continued to attack. He ran off and I quickly tended to Trist, who had fallen, her life slowly bleeding out before me. The moment I touched her, we both found ourselves in the presence of Freya. She restored me and gave me the task of bringing up Trist as a priestess in Freya’s name.”

The smile on her face is wide as she speaks of Trist. “I have been given a huge blessing, being restored to Freya and

being given a sister in the faith. I now realize what Edda felt when she took me in and taught me and how it must have pained her every time I was reluctant to try. I pray that I can help her be bold at all times for our faith. One way is to excel in our warrior ways and she is now blessed to have you here. Your ability with the bow is amazing, she would do well to learn from you and use that training to honor Freya.”

Finna sighs and takes another pull of mead. “But, I’ve spoken long enough. Let us enjoy this food and drink and company of friends and comrade in arms. Eh, this food has cooled off too much.” She waves for a serving girl. “Be a dear and see if you can have this warmed back up for us. Give Hoken my apologies for allowing such wonderful food to become cold.”

Kistol wraps up his wanderings and heads back to Charcoals.
There he is reunited with the rest of the party.

Hoken relays to all Max’s message and Maltron introduces Alvyra and then briefly summarizes Marcetheus’ proposal.
Realizing a possible connection, Kistol suggests the group wait to make a decision regarding until after he, Farouk, and Francis meet with Johana.

Kistol, Farouk, and Francis then head off to meet with Johana at the Hydra Maiden.
A seedy place, the trio walk in in the middle of a drunken brawl between two halflings. A small shouting crowd surrounding appears to be placing bets on the outcome and the barkeep, from the apathetic manner he exudes while cleaning a mug, doesn’t look to give two shits about it.

Kistol spots Jo and the trio walk over and sit at her table.
A ½ orc barmaid comes by bringing a round of flat ales, unceremoniously thumping them onto the table.

Jo grabbing one of the ales, takes a deep pull before addressing the trio.
“So…. Kistol tells me you’ve got some skill, a bit a value, and more balls than brains. You’re looking to make some quick coin eh? what’s your stories?”

Francis smirks, “That all depends on whether you want me to tell you stories about my skills, my enormous wealth or my large balls.” Taking a long pull from the flat ale, Francis continues, “I feel like you’re a balls woman, myself.”
Johana snorts nearly spewing a mouthful of ale. Wiping her chin and smiling she looks to Kistol and thumbs to Francis with a ‘this guy’.
Turning back she addresses the navigator. “Tell me about your ship, how bigs yer crew?”

Farouk chuckles a bit. “Well my balls are pretty big, but I’m sure that’s not what makes me interesting. You see I got other skills…”

Farouk slowly drags a finger around the rim of ale producing a trail of white crackling sparks.

“I’m the kinda guy a lady like you would like to know. If you haven’t heard by now. I’m offering my special services. Ill tell you like I tell everyone. First come first serve. I don’t ask questions, and I don’t want to know your business either. I don’t do wet works, and I don’t take sides. Your gold buys a neutral honest and discrete businessman. Screw me over and ill cut you off, and everyone will know about it. Simple really. Just like you I have a reputation to maintain.”

Farouk flashes his killer smile and downs his ale.

Francis sits back in his chair and takes a relaxing pose. (Think Han Solo talking with Greedo.) "You want to know about my ship? How about my fleet of ships? I have one ship docked down in Phlan, the other is in need of repairs at an undisclosed location. My crew, huh? Terrible story about that one. The “Fury’s Eclipse’ used to be crewed by a bunch of Orcs, Half Orcs and bugbears. I’ve seen worse sailors, but none that smelled as bad. Terrible end for all of them, they had to be put down. So as far as a crew, I’m in the market, if you know any willing souls.”

Francis likes this place, I mean, he likes Charcoals and the better food and drink, but this is like a nostalgic dream washing over him. These types of places used to be his home for years. Keeping in the shadows, working with bums and thieves.

Sitting up a little straighter and letting up on the wise guy act Francis looks more serious and stares Jo in the eyes, “What about you, my lady? My buddy Kiss here is a good man. I can vouge for him, but keep eyes on this other one right here.” Pointing at Farouk right in front of him, as if he wasn’t there. “I can see you and I are the straight up kind of folks. What can you tell me about what’s going on around here, and what interest do you have with us?”

Kistol flashes a ‘what did I tell you?’ look back at Jo, but keeps quiet for now and sips his ale. He let’s the boys speak for themselves.

He’s a little preoccupied anyway. He’s concerned that Max is now working for Wally and therefore the Ingots. The conflict there could turn out bad. If they can figure out a way to show Max how bad Wally is for him, they can probably get him back and away from Wally. Kistol will lay out the Max situation for Jo later, “Look he’s a great guy, not too heavy up top, but a more than solid fighter otherwise. He thinks he owes Wally some kind of debt, but Wally’s just using him. I don’t think Max realizes what he’s into with Wally. He mentioned that any of us could come work for Wally if we wanted. Not that I wanna go in there, but Wally doesn’t know me. If we need somebody inside, I might be able to get in.”

Kistol waits to hear what Jo has to say about the sitdown before he says anything about the Mage Guild job.

Maltron spends the rest of the evening relaxing and chatting with Alvyra, bringing her up to speed on the party’s recept expeditions.

“Perhaps when we are done with assisting the mage’s guild, you would like to join us in our quest to rid Frontier of the slavers for good.”

“Not too shabby.” Says Johana as she tips back her mug of ale.
“All right, pokk it. If Kistol vouches for ya, then you prolly have more talent than brains. And considering you appear to be somewhat clever types, I’ll take a shot.”
She leans in.
“Ravencloak has a big import coming in. With the shakedown going round’ he needs all the hands he can available-like on point to maintain security. I’ll let Kistol know the details of where and when, most likely in a few days. RC wants us specialty types to provide specialty-type cover for the event while meatheads get close and personal. This is a big deal and I think RC’s counting on the handoff to weasel out the trouble makers straight up in the midst, most likely to be red mist. If Pinch-pin here (she thumbs towards Kistol) says you’re stand up cats, then you’re in with me. RC trusts this ol’ cat (thumbs to herself) and so that makes us sorta ‘A-squad’. We’re there to take out not just outsiders but any insiders that decide that’s the time to step up against the cloak, savvy? There’s coin in it…if you live. Plus you’llve notched yourself a post in my book, which means future gigs n’ more coin.”

She takes a deep draw on her ale.
“So what do you say boys? You got deep enough pockets to carry those stones yer claiming?”
Alvyra is impressed. Her esteem for this band of undisciplined irregular infantry with no clear chain of command rises slightly. She draws her sword partway so Maltron can see its crimson shimmer. “My sword is red with the blood of brigands, murderers, demon-worshipers, and slavers. I think Frontier tolerates too much chaos and evil in the name of convenience. Yes, when our current task is done, you can count on me to join you to purge Frontier of slavers and cleanse it of all that is unjust!” Her eyes gleam with fervor and determination which Maltron notices because that’s where he’s still looking.

This theives guild business interests Francis, he wants to know more, wants to get involved, wants to earn more coin, (keeping wands charged up ain’t cheap).

“Jo, you can check my pockets anytime you want, you don’t even have to give me any forwarning. I’m in. Since no one knows me, at least as far as I can tell. How about I sit back and play the eagle in the nest. I won’t get into the down and dirty unless absolutely necessary. But if the oil hits the flame, then I will make it burn.”

Francis extends his hand to shake.

Farouk smiles and leans back in his chair, “Jo my girl… You seem like a good enough gal, well intentioned and all, but I can’t make a living off of good intentions. Put yourself in my shoes. Your asking me to do who knows what and your gonna pay who knows what IF I live.”

“Also, like I said earlier, I’m not interested in no turf battle, it’s your business and your game to do whatever you want with what I give ya. Your grown and I’m not your mother. I’m not gonna crack any rival heads on your behalf that’s all you.”

" Now for any rats you got on the inside that’s a family issue. You want me to get involved with family affairs then I’m gonna need to get authorization from the head of the family. You see its just disrespectful to clean another mans house without his permission dontcha agree?"

“So here’s my deal. Since you’re a new customer, Ill provide you with non combat onsite support for the day and that night. And Ill give you a big discount. I do expect half my payment up front. Don’t think on it too long, I work on a first come first serve basis.”

Farouk magically produces a small business card, and slides it face down to Jo, after a good read, it crumbles back into the magical ether from whence it came. Card reads. 5 Large.
Farouk Facepalms at Alvyra’s fervor…but keeping silent none the less.

Kistol speaks up before the guys answer, “You two think about it a minute. I’d like a word alone with Jo.”

In private Kistol says, “How much do you know about that fence’s place getting burnt down? We’ve got offer on a job from the Mage’s guild and that fence’s building just so happens to be sitting right on top of an entrance to the caves under the city.” Kistol explains the search for the tablets. “Now, I think who ever got these turf wars going started it as distraction to cover burning down the fence’s place and the search down in the caves. Or at least it’s a happy coincidence for them. With all of us at each other’s throats, we’d be too busy to notice and the Watch’ll be too busy with us to notice or investigate. Do you know what the import is? Is related to these tablets? Look, I’m in with whatever you and RC decide, so just let me know, but I think RC should know this if he doesn’t already.”

Kistol will accept the work with the Blackcloaks over the Mage guild job. If they happen to coincide all the better. He’ll explain to Mal that he’s part of the group, but has responsibilities of his own that he has to take care of right now.

PLAYER EDIT: I guess I was too slow. Kistol still talks to Jo, but lets her deal with Farouk. It’s about what Kistol expected from the wizard.

DM EDIT: Jo will want to discuss the above privately with Kistol, so we’ll post it out after she’s done talking to Farouk and Francis

Johana shakes hands with Francis
“Like I said, I’ll fill Kistol in on the details, we’ll scout the area and then we’ll come up with a plan.”

Turning to Farouk, listening to his proposal, and after his minor display, Johana replies.

“Look, you came to me. If you’re not interested in this, fine. Plenty of people around who can do card tricks and light shows who are looking to make some scratch. You’re not going to crack any heads? You’ll provide non-combat support? What the pokk use are you? And what the pokk is non-combat support? I agreed to meet with you because I know Kistol but I’m taking a real chance just talking to greenhorns. And you’re telling me you need ‘authorization’ from the boss?!! Just who the pokk you think you are? ‘5 k?! HA! Nice try.“

She laughs and throws back the rest of her ale, slamming the empty tankard on the table. Leaning forward, she coolly continues.
“Look at me…..round here, as far as you’re concerned, I’m all the authorization you need and you’re just the new guy. Don’t forget that. You want in? You do what I say. I make the rules and you follow. Round here you don’t carry enough rep to call terms on a gig. Not interested? Not good enough for you? Hit the bricks and quit wasting my pokking time. Now…All I’m looking to hear out of that fat pretty mouth is ‘yes or no’. Or maybe you’d like to negotiate further?”

Suddenly, where there wasn’t one before, Kistol, Francis, and Farouk become very aware there is a cocked hand crossbow on the table, mere inches from Johana’s hand.

Farouk glances smugly at the crossbow before looking back at Jo… Farouk mentally redirects his cantrip, focusing it on the bowstring. Farouk tries to cut the bowstring.

DM EDIT: Farouk is unable to cut the bowstring using Cantrip.

Player Edit: Obviously Magical….

Kistol puts his hands up, palms out toward Jo and Farouk as soon as he sees the crossbow, “Whoa, whoa! Hold on, now. Jo, I told you he was eccentric. That’s just the way he is. He’s full of himself. Now he doesn’t want in, that’s fine, right? Farouk, I strongly suggest you take it easy. You don’t know what you’re up against. You’re in the wrong territory for that attitude. If you’re not in, then I suggest you and Francis ease on out of here and I’ll meet up with you later. Ok?”

If Farouk beats him and cuts the bow string, Kistol will place himself between Farouk and Jo and start getting him up to leave, “Ok, we’re done here. Farouk, let’s go. Francis help me out. What’s wrong with you, Farouk? I bring you in and you embarass me!? You’re lucky to be able to walk out of here with that kind of talk. Let’s go!” He’ll walk them out and come back in to talk to Jo.
Farouk doesn’t flinch or sweat…And gets into a staring contest…Francis thanks Jo, “See you later, sugar and spice,” nods to Kistol and exits the Tavern alone. He strolls along the more unsavory side of town a while and takes in the sights. Then heads back to Charcoals for a pint.

Farouk stares down Johana until a cheer erupts from the small crowd watching the halflings brawl.
Johana leaps up, grabbing simultaneously in a flash, both the crossbow and Farouk by the collar.
Yanking him in, Farouk can feel the point of the bolt pressing into his neck, under his chin.

Kistol leaps back, pulling his own hand crossbow and moving behind Farouk, levels it at the mage’s back.
“Hands flat on the table, Farouk. Don’t move ‘em. You’re bringing this on yourself, dammit. I don’t wanna do this, but you’re putting me in a bad position. Now we’re friends, but I’ve known Jo a lot longer and my loyalties with her win out over yours. Now apologize and let’s get out of here.”
The bartender shouts to the group. “Hey Jo c’mon not in here! I gots busi-”
Without taking her eyes off of Farouk, Johana shouts back cutting him off.
“Shut your pokking gob hole old man or you’ll be choking down my dagger!”

Farouks Poker face in full swing,

“Lookie here missy, I don’t belong to you, and I’ll die long before my reputation does, If you don’t like what I’m offering, that’s all you gotta say. I didn’t come here lookin for work, I came here to let you know whats out there if you want it. Maybe that wasn’t clear to you the first time around, and that’s ok.”

“My sincere apologies for the miscommunication. But im letting you know now, I’m just a merchant offering services, not a plebe trying to join your club. C’mon is it really worth it? If you pull that trigger you just lost yourself an asset over what?”

I’m sure your boss would probably handle this a little differently especially if that cargo your talkin out is so valuable. But its your show. Your call. Its not everyday you get a guy like me politely offering his wares."

“C’mon…what sounds better when you have to explain things, and you know you will,”

A. I killed a mage cause I didn’t like his prices.
B. This mage is offering us his services but hes not cheap.

Farouk keeping up his subtle pressure now focuses his cantrip on her, creating a single annoying trickle of sweat to roll down her brow and into her eye.

Almost a Whisper now, Farouk continues,

“C’mon, I know this job is important to you, alot of pressure to do the right thing, and you can’t afford to pokk up. You and I are alike in one respect, we are not killers, Its the coin and everything it brings, don’t bring down unwanted attention on yourself now.”

“Gimme a good hard slap, and save some face. If you change your mind, or have a counter offer I’ll make sure Kistol here can find me”
With a smirk Johana let’s go of Farouk and holsters her bow.
“Beat it, go catch up to your buddy. Pinch n’ me got immediates to discuss.”After Farouk leaves Jo and Kistol sit back down to another round of ales. The half-ling brawl looks to be over with the unconscious loser being dragged out the back and the bloodied winner being congratulated with ales, cheers, and various slaps on the back. The overall atmosphere of the bar settles from fight crowd to general drunken discussion and comraderie.

“Quite a pair, your lady friends.” Says Jo.
“We’ll see how that pans out. Back to biz. I haven’t heard anything about any ‘tablets’ but I know RC doesn’t think the other guilds are behind the beef. Unfortunately Wally and Belgeon don’t seem to agree and are hard-pressed to pokk things up. Either they’re in on it or it’s just an excuse for a land grab. Regardless, RC’s gonna use this ‘excuse’ of the import to try and draw out the puppet master and any possible rats. Us n’ couple other loyals will be there to mop up. It’s gonna go down at the docks on a ship. We’ll be up high, naturally, and pick off or chase down targets. I’ll catch you tomorrow evening and we’ll do some recon then two days from now the drop will go down. I’ll look into scrounging some compensation for your friends as we’ll need archers, as many as we can get, and I think a mage in the crew couldn’t hurt, even if he is a pacifist. ‘Non combative’. “ She snorts and pounds her ale.
Standing and wiping her chin she concludes. “Tomorrow sundown, meet me at the shop. We’ll see about your boyfriends, but know this, if either of them turns out to be working for the other side, or pokks this up, I’ll kill them myself.”
On that note, she leaves.

Francis will look into the offer that Wally extended to Max’s friends. He’ll make his way to The Duplicate Blessing on River Root Island solo and see what is what.

DM EDIT: Francis makes his way to the Blessing and finds the place is packed, apparently it’s fight night. In the small pit in the rear of the establishment a brawl is underway. Two dwarves are up against a large, beefy half orc. All three are stripped to the waist and wear no armor. The 1/2 orc has a length of chain while the two dwarves each sport belay pins. The crowd is cheering, goading, shouting, and gambling on the fighters below. Francis finds Max, the two quickly catch up and then the big man intros Francis to Trakas. Trakas tells the navigator to come back in the morning and they’ll discuss things further, tonight is too busy.

Player Edit: Francis will plan on coming back in the morning, unless something else comes up.

Used to underworld dealings, Farouk leaves Unfazed by his encounter with Jo.

After Farouk leaves, he casts levitate on himself. Taking great running leaps, Farouk bounds from rooftop to rooftop, avoiding the main areas.

Farouk leaves the Hydra in the opposite direction of home, before he backtracks. Once home he is observant to any trespass before entering. Farouk squeezes into a pretty dress and spends the rest of his evening trying to to learn the spell unseen servant.

DM EDIT: lol and Farouk successfully learns the spell unseen servant.

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