Campaign of the Month: July 2012

Guardians of the Frontier

Day 26, 'Arrangements and contracts'

Day 26, 'Arrangements and contracts'

Alvyra is given a room for the night at Charcoals and in the morning, during a breakfast of strong tea, corn cakes, fruit, crispy thick bacon, and oats with cream, Hoken informs the group that ‘Marcetheus will be sending a representative by later this morning to discuss his offer and if the party will accept.‘

Assuming Farouk, Kistol, and Francis have returned
Farouk comes back, the meals here are great!
Alvyra has a nice bath. She sings battle hymns to Tyr while she lathers her shapely body with spice scented soap. If anybody bangs on the door because she’s taking too long she shouts out, “The just and righteous are patient!”
Alvyra will stay true to her purpose and assist in the tablets/items hunt. She could be persuaded to work the guild turf war if the case is made for the long-term greater good. It’s been explained to her before that the guilds are part of the order in Frontier, that they serve an essential function, but she’s not convinced. If it’s all on the up-and-up, then why all the sneaking around and veiled threats? Still, helping one guild take down another means fewer guilds to roll-up in the end, so that’s a kind of progress. The just and righteous are patient…

Farouk is up for helping the mages guild as long as it doesn’t interfere with him helping the thieves guild… How hes going to do that… hes still working on an angle.And Farouk is all about helping the thieves guild… as long as he doesn’t have take sides in a war. Hes an arms dealer willing to sell to all sides… Its their business what they do with it.

Kistol returns and enjoys the amenities of Charcoals. He is definitely in on the Blackcloak drop. If he can help with the tablet job without conflicts he will, but the drop takes priority.Wren will consult with Trist and Finna to see their thoughts on the matter. But as a new member of the guild to which Hoken offered, she feels obliged to aid the mages. Its just that underground is not her special suit.

Alvyra has had her bath and is lounging in the inn’s common room at the party’s communal table. She smells of roses. A long row of untouched drinks are lined up in front of her, courtesy of some of the inn’s other previously hopeful and now disappointed patrons. Alvyra is not wearing her armor. She’s wearing a simply adorned black gown with gold trim over a deep red shirt along with thigh-high riding boots. Her holy symbol of Tyr dangles prominently from her graceful neck. Red, her sword, leans against the back of her chair. Her shield rests by one of the chair’s legs. Alvyra isn’t expecting trouble, but she’s ready for it.

As the rest of the party filters in from the day’s activities, Alvyra looks them over.

Trist: Is that a man or a woman? An elf or a human? A little of all of the above?

Finna: Holy bulging biceps of Tyr! What did they feed that one growing up?

Wren: I hate elves. Plus they look funny with those ears. Alvyra is intensely jealous of the long lives of elves, sure Alvyra’s hotter now, but when Alvyra is a toothless hag, Wren will still be in the prime of her life.

Kistol: Alvyra barely notices the elf when he comes in. She takes him for just another plain-faced suitor and dismissively ignores him. She doesn’t even notice that he doesn’t offer her a drink. “Put it over there with the rest of them,” she says on autopilot as he walks past.

Klembsy: Scrawny like the mage, but not as good-looking. Also lamed, missing an arm. Alvyra’s not into charity, at least when it comes to love. A man needs at least two hands to handle her.

Francis: Oh yeah, now we’re talking! Finna’s biceps plus the mage’s good looks! Plus he’s got a sword… and a whip… She hopes he knows how to use both.

At some point, Alvyra introduces herself, “I am Alvyra, sword for hire. My employers presented your comrades Maltron and Farouk with a proposal for all of you to consider. Should you accept, I will assist. I’ll leave it to them to share the details somewhere less public. Whatever you choose, may Tyr guide you and bless your endeavors.” She beams a luscious smile at all of them.

At first sight of the new comer to the table Wren nods and notes the armor on the thin human frame. How much that must slow one down she thinks smiling as she looks back to the others. She continues to talk with Finna and Trist about their day. Upon hearing Alvyras introduction….. to no one in particular Wren laughs saying “In my homeland it would be quite doubtful that Tyr would offer blessings or guidance to a group where elves are present but I suppose as long as he provides aid to the human members of The Company all should do well, for I am certain the elves will be guided by the blessings of Frey and Freya” then saying no more she turns her attention to Maltron listening to the details of the proposal as he presents them.

After hearing the details of the guilds request, knowing her tracking skills will come in handy on this type of mission she will offer her support to the team and the guild.
Trist feels obligated to help Klembsy out in purifying his temple once that is completed she will make sure Hoken does not require her services elsewhere and assist the Mages. Trist will also take council from Finna since her training has not been completed and will team up with her and probably Wren as the sisters three. :o) Trist introduces herself to Alvyra, “Hello, I am Trist a Frontier Ranger and priestess of Freya. Glad to have you with us”. Trist thinks to herself -Lady, your ego is writing IOU’s your body can’t cash. Well, maybe it can. I’ll just have to talk to Francis later to find out.Klembsy introduces himself to Alvyra as a druid of Mielikki and notices the holy symbol of Tyr dangling prominently from her graceful neck. He also notices her graceful neck, face, body, clothes and perfume. He is not in a very good mood but will try to seem pleasant, not to embarrass or worry the newcomer. He explains to the others his urgence to reclaim/cleanse the forgotten shrine and welcomes anyone wanting to join in, especially Trist. Waiting for his turn to speak and as all others express their preferences, he says “This is a task I have to do alone. Your help is mostly welcome but you are not bound to help me. I owe a lot of gratitude to Trist for helping me. Please chase your own chances and follow your own adventures. I have sworn to fight evil as many of you here but to do that I need a place to replenish my own soul and my inside good. May Mielikki bless you all in your actions. And it will not be long until we meet or fight together again”.
Saying that, he enjoys a drink and waits to hear what the others have to say.

As Kistol walks by Alvyra the first time he stops at her comment, still shaking off his embarrassing meeting with Farouk, he says, “Do I look like a barmaid, lady? You need a drink, you can ask one of them. Though, it looks like you’re set up already.”

After she introduces herself, Kistol gives her a nod of acknowledgment and will apologize and introduce himself if approached.

He gives Farouk a wide berth and sits next to Francis or Maltron. If he knows Francis is talking to Trakas, he’ll advise against it, “They’re part of the Ingots, Francis. Rivals of the Blackcloaks and part of this turf war going on. Don’t get involved with them. It’ll put us on opposite sides, plus my reputation will go way down if both the people I brought in turn out to be trouble, ok? I’ve got enough trouble with Farouk trying to tell Jo what’s what. Plus we need you, mate.”

Maltron listens to everyone’s plans while sipping tea and eating the delicious meal prepared by the chef. He knows that meals like this are not going to be around for his next adventure.

Addressing the group:

“I know there is a lot going on right now and everyone has his or her agenda, but we have some unfinished business from our last outing. Klembsy is still missing his arm. We made a promise to him to help him get it back. He feels that restoring his deity’s shrine is the right thing to do and given his dream vision, I believe that the act of cleansing the shrine is the first step in helping him get his arm back. I intend to go with him to help guard over him while he performs his rituals and I would hope that as many of you as possible will join us. I would do the same for any of you, were you to find yourself in a similar predicament.”

“The Mage’s Guild has asked our assistance with a task as well (he explains it), but it is going to have to wait until Klembsy’s rituals are complete. The Mage’s Guild task would be best completed with all of us cooperating. I know at least Kistol has a more pressing matter due to immediate obligations to his associates. It is unfortunate that Max has been coerced in joining the opposite side of the conflict with Kistol’s friends. We can work to remedy that in the future. I would advise against joining up with that lot Francis. Wally is a self serving bastard and you will find it a one way partnership. From what you all have told me, I believe that the Guild War and the Mage’s Guild task are somehow linked. Perhaps we could kill two birds with one stone later on.”

“Our initial goal that gave this party cohesion was survival, followed by a desire for revenge against the slavers, which developed into a moral obligation to protect others from the fate many of us suffered. Unfortunately, none of the current tasks, taking sides in the guild war, cleansing a holy shrine, proselytizing, this Mage’s Guild job, etc., has such a cohesive bond for this group. Hopefully, our friendship and dedication to one another will continue the bond we have formed thus far. Let this be a guide in your decision on the next direction you take in life.”

“If we decide to remain as a group, I propose we name ourselves The Company of the Broken Chain. This represents our past freedom from slavery as well as the fact that we are not linked together by force, but by choice.”

“As I have said, I plan to set out with Klembsy immediately to go to cleanse the shrine and would like everyone to accompany us. Afterwards we can decide our next move as a company.”

“Alvyra, you are new to this group and have your priorities, but your company would be most welcome. The last time we were at the Shrine, we had to kill two Ettins.”

Kistol votes an affirmative to the group name.

He gives his best to Klembsy, “I wish I could help Klem, but I’ve got other obligations I have to take care of first for the next few days. How long do you think it will take to clean the shrine? Once I’m finished here I’ll join you guys. Good luck.”

Once all business is taken care of, Kistol doesn’t stay long. He makes quiet goodbyes and heads out the door giving Alvyra a, “Nice to meet you,” as he walks by. He’ll then make his way to go meet Jo.

Between big mouth fulls of deliciousness Farouk chimes in..

“Ya yer right Mal, Klems needs a hand… hehe.. get it a hand… ahem… sorry… but I’m for hitting that shrine and makin it right. Lets work together on this one. I think at least in the short term its something we can all easily agree on.”

Alvyra nods to herself approvingly at Maltron’s words, Here is one that honors his commitments in the order made, not as convenience prefers.

“I will gladly help guard while the druid re-sanctifies the shrine. That is a noble endeavor and must be seen to completion. As for the underworld war, one guild may rise while another falls, but they are all the same. Shaking down honest folk, smuggling, rigging games, stealing, and worse. There are no sides to choose among, there is just the one side, mayhem.”

Alvyra is not going to pull up any weeds. It’s not her shrine, and she’s not a Watch Lackey anymore. She’s looking forward to getting out in the field on her horse, though.

Farouk smiles at Alvyras simple words…“Mayhem? Hardly. You see these guys make sure that mayhem is kept to a minimum, and at tolerable orderly level. No mayhem without permission you see, otherwise there are consequences. Chaos is bad for business. Everyones business. A turf war that’s chaos, rules become meaningless and agreements hold no weight. And that’s when the truly innocent are gonna get hurt. It will be messy.”

" Look there are gonna be guys trying to make a quick silver until the end of time. Best we can do is go with the flow, or maybe make sure that flow doesn’t get broken."

“Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard all that before. The little thugs take orders from the big thugs. Terribly orderly. It’s still thuggery, and a thug is a thug is a thug. No reason to favor one over another.”

After spending some early morning time praying, Finna dons her spare robe, places the dirty items on a chair, and walks down to the common room for breakfast. What a glorious day! Thank you Freya for allowing me to serve you. Now, to see what everyone else is up to. Wonder what they think of this new person… Alvyra, it was?…. who has some part with our band. Well, she worships Tyr… which is good… and not so good. Rather black and white views and so rigid, not much room for change at time. And singing those hymns! His followers are rather fervid, no denying that.

Passing a errand boy, she asks him to have her soiled clothes sent out for cleaning, pressing one SP into his hand and patting his cheek. Arriving at the table, she sees a few people have arrived before her. She greets everyone and begins to eat the food presented to her. She sees the look on Alvyra’s face as Wren arrives and notes Wren’s response later on to the greeting. Ach… Why do I feel like these women are already sharpening their fangs? They need to grow up a bit. Heh, that’s rich… Wren is already older than I, why an I thinking she needs anyone acting like a mother to her?

After Farouk and Alvyra banter back and forth, Finna speaks on the matters at hand. “As for the possible turf wars of these guilds, they hold no bearings on my duties as a priestess of Freya. I see no reason for my involvement in them, no matter who among us may get dragged in. The tablets are a matter than I shall assist in. As a to-be-new member of the Adventurer’s Guild, once the signaltarian comes by, it shall be my duty to assist the governing body of Frontier in this matter.”

“As for assisting Klembsy, that is something of concern. To assist in restoring the shrine to his deity in not something I should do. It would show dishonor to great Freya. I would not go and neither should Trist go. It would also show great dishonor to Freya if Trist was to go back on her word of honor that she gave to Klembsy to assist him in this task. It could become known that followers of Freya do not honor their oaths, something that I know Freya would frown greatly upon. So, Trist will go to honor her oath. Thus, I shall go along as well since Trist needs to continue her training as a priestess. I will help guard the group that works to restore the shrine but cannot assist. That much I will and shall do with The Company. If we leave, I would ask to wait until the morrow as my armor is being repaired and I have some tasks to tend to this day.”
Trist listens carefully to her sister, grateful for her wise council then says, “Sister, my devotion to Freya has not waned. I simply wish to help a friend in need. I know Freya feels that from my heart. This could be part of her plan and the gods may in fact be working together through each of us. I shall stay by your side whatever path you chose after we help Klembsy”.

I’m sure Freya wont mind. I’ve heard plenty of stories of the gods helping one another. This to me is kinda the same.

Klembsy stands thoughtful and serious-looking while others speak but cannot help himself hearing Maltron speak. As the words come out from the mage’s heart, Klembsy is overcome with emotions and his eyes begin to water. By the time Maltron finishes, Klembsy stands up and goes beside the mage. “My friend, those words come from an honorable heart and make me completely obliged. You have utterly touched my feelings and allow me to hug you (if you call it a hug with one arm)”.
As Kistol, Alvyra and Finna take their turn in speaking, Klembsy nods in acknowledgement of their sayings.

“Dearest Trist, I do not doubt your devotion to Freya, nor do I doubt your devotion to friend Klembsy. That is far from my mind. However, your oath is what is important here and how it reflects upon Freya. That is why you shall go to assist and why I shall follow you. While I do not feel I can assist with the actual restoration, I can protect those who wish to assist in that task. It gives me the opportunity to continue practicing and improving my skill with handling my weapons. Francis could definitely show me new tricks, especially in dealing with a cutlass and Alvyra has an interesting looking sword, she may have a style of combat that I could incorporate elements into my own.”

“Farouk, I thank you for trying to make me feel okay about this situation but I know you do not understand the fullness of my situation. I have only been fully restored into Freya’s following less than forty-eight hours now. I shall not do anything that may give her cause to pull her blessing again. Besides, those stories generally deal with deities within a group. If the deity of this shrine was Frey, Njord, or Skaddi, I would feel compelled to assist, as all of the gods will fight side by side on the day of Ragnarok as will those slain followers who inhabit the great halls in Vahalla. Helping a deity of whom I have no knowledge is a dangerous thing for a priest of another deity to do. Still, my assistance can be in the duties of guarding those who are working, that task would be honoring Freya.”

“Klembsy, if I had the ability to do so, I would cast a spell to return you to a whole state without hesitation. You watched out for Trist many a time prior to Freya joining us. After I joined The Company, you tended my wounds without hesitation. Allow me the chance to show my gratitude by standing guard for you, allowing you the opportunity to work without fear of interruption or bodily harm.”
Trist hugs Finna and says,“Thank you sister for your wise council. I now see Freyas path for me in helping my friend. I shall do as you plan to do. I shall guard the others with you and keep both pure. You have truly been blessed by Freya. Praise be to Freya”.Francis simply states, “So, Klembsy, do you need all of us to come with you, because if you do, I am right there with you, or is this something that you need to do yourself?” Francis not the one to get in the service of gods, or ‘follow’ them in any real sense, also know that those who do generally have to show their devotion and such without the aid of a group of others. Now thinking a bit more like one who would follow a god, and thinking the way Finna speaks. “If your path of devotion and to show your deity the effort he expects, his he going to be mad that we’re doing this with you? Or is he going to expect you to do this all on your own?” Finishing his question with a shrug of the shoulders.

Assuming Klembsy wishes us to come:

“That settles it. We shall all go with Klembsy to the Shrine of Mielikki. Some of us shall help him directly, and some, for whatever their reason shall simply provide him with safety, so that he shall be able to focus on his task without fear of danger. For those of you who are having inner conflict over the religious aspect of this act, please remember that the Goddess Freya once gave Klembsy a blessing in the form of a feather, his religious symbol.”

Maltron will ask the nearest errand boy to seek out up to 10 commoners willing to work to help clear the Shrine. He would prefer that they be followers of Mielikki, but any followers of a just God/Goddess will do. He will offer to pay them 5-10 gold each per day (whatever the going rate). “Tell them they will need to be ready in the morning and will not need to fear for their safety for they will have armed guards.”

“Kistol, take care of yourself. When we return, be assured that if I do get involved with this guild war, it will be on the side of your guild. I still have a feeling that our destinies will meet up with you helping the Blackcloaks and me helping the Mage’s Guild.”
Kistol nods, not sure how to handle the warm feeling of family support, “Thanks, Mal. Good luck to you, too. I know you guys’ll handle anything that pops up. Like I said, if you’re not back by the time I’m done I’ll find you.”

“Of course I want you to come. I just didn’t want to force you to come. I wanted you to do it by your own free will”, says Klembsy to all that volunteered. “Kistol, don’t worry my friend, no hard feelings”.
Francis puts his hand on Klembsy’s shoulder. “You are my friend, and I want you to get whatever it is that you need, and I think with the entire group, and Maltron’s Mercenary’s you’ll be excessively taken care of. I don’t like that Kistol is going off on his own. You have your reckoning with your god. I’m going to go watch Kistol’s back. I don’t like any one of us going off on their own. It wasn’t good for Bel, I don’t like it with Max, and I don’t want to loose Kistol either.” With that Francis puts both hands on Klembs shoulders and bids him a genuine farewell.

Kistol relaxes a bit with Francis’ statement, “Thanks Francis. Glad to have you. We’ll meet Jo tomorrow night. We’re doing some recon for the drop.” Kistol sits back down and orders some ale and enjoys the group’s company for the evening.

Eventually he makes his way to Farouk, without attitude he says, “Hey. What were you doing with Jo at the meet, mate? Trying to set conditions like that on her turf just wasn’t that smart. You could have gotten all of us in a lot of trouble. I’m sorry about how it turned out. I hope there’s no hard feelings. Just don’t expect any recommendations from me for awhile.”

Farouk smiles between big bites of kitchen goodness…“Hard feelings? Nahhh…Not at all. I’m not trying to tell Jo how to run the show, not at all! She can do whatever SHE wants. I just wanted to make it real clear about what I could and could not do. I think she understands that now. Sometimes the less I know about your business the more I can help.”

“Now if she were to come to me and say… well… I want 10 guys made invisible for instance… Id say sure it will cost ya X. But if she said I need 10 guys made invisible so they can go and make a rival guild captain go away… Id say no thanks, no matter how much gold she threw at me…Too much information. Get it?”

“Nothing personal and it never will be. Business is business. I won’t tell ya how to run yours, and you don’t tell me how run mine. Respect your business partner and we will all be richer for it.”
Kistol takes a long draw of ale and nods to Farouk, “Hm. Makes sense, I guess. Good to know how you work so I can relate it to Jo. She still might use you, by the way. Even after you pissed her off. So I guess you didn’t do too bad. Fair warning, though. She said she’ll kill you if she finds out your working for the other side. Not sure if that means ‘playing both sides’ or just ‘the other side’ period.”

Farouk rolls his eyes dismissively, “Today I’m gonna do some yard work, after that I got a little business to attend to up the street, after that depending on how my earlier business went I MAY be available to help your girl out. Kindly remind Jo that I work on first come first serve basis, and my schedule is filling up.”

“If shes got an offer let me know. And remember bout what I said about too much information.”

Farouk scarfs up the rest of his meal, slaps his ample belly and smiles.

“So we ready to do some cleanup or what!”

Klembsy seems to be finding his good mood after so many mishaps and dangers. He turns to Farouk and comments with acidic humor “You have already cleaned up half the table, do you still want more?”.
Farouk smiles and stands as he pinches one more piece of bacon, “Hehe, thanks my boy but I don’t want to seem greedy!”

Farouk goes back to town… he avoids the wilderness if possible… its dangerous out there… besides there is mage guild business to attend to.

Farouk helps out and complains alot. He keeps an eye out for useful herbs…It is a druid shrine after all. Farouk creatively and lazily applies magic to get the job done before hightailing it back… Boots of speed, and invis…
Wren will volunteer to keep watch over Klembsy over the night from a perch nearby that she can see the caves opening clearly and within arrows reach. This will allow the others to return to Charcoals to rest. She needs to spend some time in the forest and this is a perfect opportunity.Finna would either go to a store to buy two flasks of oil or have someone from Charcoal’s procure them for her.Maltron will stay the night at the grove, feeling that the night is the most dangerous time out in the woods. The hired workers can be sent home if they are done. Maltron will cast Find Familiar after the shrine is restored, hoping that Mielikki will bless him with good fortune by helping to guide the best familiar to him. Maltron will get his hands dirty with the work.Alvyra’s ready to go.

If/when Finna asks Alvyra about her sword presumably on the way out to Klembsy’s shrine, Alvyra opens up a bit. She explains somberly, looking straight ahead, not at Finna, “I was assigned to bodyguard a visiting dignitary. An assassin got past everyone else. He was covered from head to toe except for his eyes. He looked like a mummy, except black cloth instead of white bandages. He’d already killed or maimed a lot of better fighters than I, but I was lucky since they’d all worn him out. He almost got me too, but I managed to knock him down. As injured as he was, I still wasn’t sure I could take him. Reinforcements were coming, so I stalled and told him to surrender. He laughed at me and spit in my face. I ran him through and twisted my sword to make sure he was dead.”

Alvyra is silent for a few moments. She turns to Finna, no attitude, no arrogance, none of the slinky bravado of the night before, “There was an inquiry. Some said I should have taken him prisoner, used Tyr’s gifts to keep him alive since the reinforcements were so close. But they weren’t there, they didn’t see his eyes… mocking, predatory, evil… He used poison. A lot of good people died that day. People who trained me, looked after me, had my back, you know? So yeah, I killed him, gave him justice.”

Alvyra looks down at the ground, and then turns back to Finna, “Oh yeah, this was his sword.” She draws it part way so Finna can see the blade. “I’ve named it Red since it’s got this red shimmer to it. Pretty creative, huh?”
Alvyra will also stay the night. She likes being out in the field with her horse. Plus, the good-looking mage needs somebody with a sword to hide behind.

Trist will stay the night to watch over Klembsy. She prefers the wilderness to town anyway. After Klembsy is taken care of Trist will make a choice.

She eats and drinks a bit but not to excess as others may have.
Francis will pay another 200g to get another charge of the wand. Otherwise his business is concluded, until meeting with Jo.

Klembsy thanks everyone beforehand for coming and especially those that volunteer to stay the night too. As for the real actions, Klembsy waits for the things to unfold as described by the group and specifically:
1. Waits to hear more details regarding Marcetheus’ offer.
2. Waits for Finna’s armor to show up
3. Leaves with Maltron, Farouk, Wren, Finna, Trist, Alvyra to begin clearing the shrine. (Also with hired help.) Of course he takes Bobo with him and all the necessary things that Hoken provided him with.
Waiting for Marcetheus to turn up, Klembsy approaches Maltron and says, “My dear friend, I’m sure Mielikki will grant you the blessing you want. As for your generous offer (and good idea on the same time), it is my duty to pay the commoners that will work for the clearing of the shrine. As a druid, I cannot stash money in chests or live a luxurious life. Almost all of my earnings must be devoted to my goddess, the shrine (now that we have found one) and in acts of charity. So, please, allow me to pay for their work”.

A gruff and apparently grisly male ½ orc shambles into Charcoals. He’s dressed in dirty tattered robes and a wide brimmed hat.
Approaching the bar, he signals Hoken for a drink

Hoken approaches, sliding a tankard in the stranger’s hand. The ½ orc then moves past the party, eye-balling the group, and disappears upstairs.
Hoken then moves to the group and leans in talking low. “That’s Marc’s boy. Mal, Al, Farouk, you three can go ahead and meet him up top.”

The two mages and the paladin take the spiral staircase to the rooftop patio.
Three stories high and located on the highest tier inside the citadel, the view from Charcoal’s rooftop is quite pleasant.
The air is crisp and somewhat fresher than below. Various guards move about the citadel wall patrolling the battlements while the morning sun glints off of the Citadel palace’s large stained glass front window, casting and reflecting about a prism of colors. Looking over the rest of the small population interior, various roof top gardens and apartments are bustling with light activity and the swaying lush greenery of the huge oak tree in the center of the citadel entrance square can be seen rustling and fluttering in the light wind.
The patio itself is also flush with various trellises, lattices and planter boxes full of miscellaneous herbs and vegetables.
Underneath an open air gazebo are several chairs, benches, and small brazier. Sitting down and pulling from the tankard is the ½ orc who motions over to Al and Mal.

As they approach, the messenger stands and pushes his hat up with one finger in a sort of ‘howdy’ gesture. In doing so his form ‘ripples’ revealing Marcetheus underneath! The mage winks at the pair and then, pulls the brim of his hat back down. The rippling illusion ‘re-solidifys’ back on the form of the ½ orc.
Marcetheus (in ½ orc form) sits and begins to speak in a completely different voice than expected.

“I am Eggugat but you may call me ‘Eggs’ and I have been instructed to speak with you regarding details of a recent offer. My employer believes it is best for both parties involved, given the nature of the proposal, if you do accept, that being seen in public together would have detrimental effects. My employer is now confident of where the 2nd tablet can be located and has good reason to believe there will be an attempt to retrieve it sometime tomorrow evening. I am able to provide you more specifics should you accept. What have you decided?"

A pair of couriers arrive delivering a small trunk. Hoken greets them, exchanges a few words, then a few coins and the couriers depart.
Hoken addresses Finna. “Madam, your lovely new dress has arrived.”

As the Cleric walks over to observe the contents of the trunk, she is pleasantly surprised to see the contents include her armor, repaired and polished.
Hoken beams. “I’m afraid my affinity for blonds and steel has again taken hold of my coin purse. Your tab with the armorer has been covered fair lady. On the house.”
He blushes slightly before continuing.
Clapping his hands he calls for two errand boys. “I’ll have them take this to your room straight away.”

A gruff and apparently grisly male ½ orc shambles into Charcoals. He’s dressed in dirty tattered robes and a wide brimmed hat.

Trist spits out her drink and stands up quickly looking at Hoken and then at the 1/2 orc.

Approaching the bar, he signals Hoken for a drink

Hoken approaches, sliding a tankard in the stranger’s hand. The ½ orc then moves past the party, eye-balling the group, and disappears upstairs.

Trist pushes back her hatred slowly realizing that the thing is somehow granted access here.

She smiles a bit hoping she got a little on Farouk and Alvyra and says, “My apologies as she coughs to pretend to clear her throat. Wrong pipe”. Apparently this is important in some way so she settles in and finishes her meal. She slides over to Finna and Wren to chat a bit about the coming days. Trist realized that Finna seems a bit distracted as her armor comes back and elbows Finna a bit after Hoken shine on her a bit. She smiles at Finna and adds a soft giggle.

She grabs Kelmbsy and says, “Soon my friend”.

“Farouk addresses Eggs. “Business is slow right now and I got nothin better to do. I think my boys are up to it as well. But you know dealing with those guild boys can get tricky, they don’t trust easily. Sneakin behind them as they pinch some tablets, then following them home without them noticing. Well that’s asking alot. This will require alot of subtley.”

“Now…your boys have a pretty good idea where the tablet is located right? Well if we can beat the treasure hunter to the tablet, we can make sure we can find it again. Magically tag it. Or leave something seemingly important with the tablet that the hunter takes as well. Whatever that is, will be used as a focus for later scrying.”

“Hmmmm… what would make a good tag for scrying purposes. How bout you give us a little of your blood. We tag the tablet and leave like we were never there. A guy like you should have no problem scrying for the tablet with some of your blood stained on it.”

Alvyra never understood why Eggs wants all this sneaking around. She wonders, Why don’t we just kill whoever shows up to try to steal the tablets? Whoever is behind all this will eventually run out of people to send and have to show up themselves, then we can kill them too.

She’s also worried about Inkpot asking for some of Eggs’ blood. Mages don’t like to give that sort of thing up. What’s Inkpot really up to? Who’s side is he on? Alvyra decides to play along for now, “That seems like a good idea. If they get away from us, we’ll need a plan B. We could use my blood.” Alvyra’s left plenty of her blood all over the place, a little more couldn’t hurt.

Farouk shakes his head, “Get away from us? Sounds like your want to get up close and personal. The job is to Let the guy take it and follow him back. Sorry to burst your little fantasy, but I don’t see you sneekin around very well.”

“We have to beat him to the tablets, and tag it. And it has to be with Eggs blood. You see the way scrying magic works, is the more your connected to somethin you are the easier it is to scry for. That hunter once he has the tablet is gonna hide it. Not just from plain sight but from magic as well. The only chance to penetrate the wards is to tag it with something very very close to the one doing the scrying. Eggs, I think you know Im right.”

“If you want to continue to spy on that tablet and anything around it no matter where it goes, a blood tag is your best bet. Look Eggs, even the best spy isn’t gonna be able keep track of that tablet forever. But with magic..well that’s different.”

“We can do this, and get out. With a little bit of support from mages guild it will all happen and no one will be the wiser. You insist on us physically sneaking around, following peeps, then you can kiss that tablet good bye.”

“If its that important to ya, I think you can put a little of yourself into it. So whatdaya say Eggs?”

After Maltron finalizes the group’s plan to help Klembsy at the shrine, Finna takes a moment to move over to Alvyra to speak with her. “I hope you did not mind my saying that I could learn some weapon skills from you without asking thee. It was a bit forward, especially since you are under some complusion to join with us, and I understand if you do not wish to engage in that activity. Your choice of weapon intrigues me, I’ve not seen a follower of Tyr with a weapon quite like that.”

Finna listens to Alvyra as she speaks about her past. Nodding her head in agreement as Alvyra mentions the inquiry, Finna begins to see the bit of the toilsome past in this new companion. “Oh yeah, this was his sword.” She draws it part way so Finna can see the blade. “I’ve named it Red since it’s got this red shimmer to it. Pretty creative, huh?” Finna smiles and gives the sword an appreciative look. Creative? Really? Is she serious? The blade has a reddish hue to it so she calls it ‘Red’ . By Baldur’s beard, she could have found a more suitable name like…. Pink or… Salmon or… or… Yeah, I’ve got nothing. "Yes, Red is a rather apt name for that blade.

Finna quickly is alert when Trist violently stands up as someone new enters the place. She looks to see the half-orc walk to the bar. Moving back to her seat near Trist, Finna stares at her, ready to intercept Trist if she acts rashly. Once the half-orc leaves the room and Trist settles down, she grabs a cloth and tosses it at Trist’s face. “Keep yourself calm and wipe up, you’re a bit of a mess.” Got to remember how much she dislikes anything orcish. Wonder what happens if she ever comes across a half-orc follower of Freya?

Hoken’s voice pulls her out of her reverie. “New dress? What are you going on about, I sent my robes out for cleaning, that was not a dress.” Crossing to the trunk and opening it, she freezes for a moment. Her armor is inside, entirely repaired and more polished than she ever had done. It sits beside a sky-blue dress of a fine material that she has not see before. Hoken beams. “I’m afraid my affinity for blonds and steel has again taken hold of my coin purse. Your tab with the armorer has been covered fair lady. On the house.” He blushes slightly before continuing. Clapping his hands he calls for two errand boys. “I’ll have them take this to your room straight away.

Finna seems rooted to the spot as the chest is moved towards her room, her gaze trailing behind Hoken’s movements. She steps woodenly back to her seat and sits down with the grace of a dropped mallet. Even Trist’s gentle elbow is not enough to regain her attention. Where did that come from? It’s been a long time since any man has paid even the slightest amount of attention…. Great Freya, he’s making me feel like a silly young girl. He is rather nice to look at, as many muscles as Thor, nice beard to boot. Not as polished as someone like Francis but the navigator is more… swarthy than a girl needs. Well, he’s put it out there for everyone to see, I should try not to seem rude or cold for his generosity. Finna grabs a cup of tea and swallows some of the tepid liquid as she glances over to Hoken and back.
Listening to Maltron lay out the plans for aid to Klembsy and aid to the mages guild. Then standing Wren begins to speak in a calm and confident voice “My bow and I will happily aid our comrade Klembsy by guarding him while he completes his homage to his Goddess. In my lands Druids are respected and allowed to travel through Alderbriar unescorted as we share a common love of forest and land. As aid to the mages, since I am also quite capable of tracking most living creatures, I can certainly track the bearer of the tablet to their home base and signal the rest of The Company of the location for further surveillance,, at least if my understanding of how these signals work is correct. Plus a solo tracker decreases the likely hood of discovery and I would be quite happy to do this for the guild.” Nodding to all she sits back down. – I will surely need to pray for guidance from Frey tonight. This follower of Tyr is certainly no friend to the elves of this party and any aid she offers to even the humans will be for her own agenda! – Bringing her attention back from her thoughts to the group she listens to the remaining conversation as plans are finalized. When they set out to the temple she puts some distance between herself and Alvyra but never lets her get too far from sight.

Trist stands and says, “Thank you sister for your offer, but as a frontier ranger my tracking skill may be slightly better. Two sets of senses may prove useful though sister. We would need to be extra careful though. I’d be honored to have you with me”.

Trist sits back down and finishes her meal. If she didn’t bathe earlier she does now. She will alwasy have ripper with her. If possible she will pray with Finna each day together.

For the night, well before midnight, she heads to bed and in her room she says, “Ripper create two 4 HD jaguar. She instructs them to alert her to any other presence in the room beside her and to attack those who try to attack or touch her”.

The next day early Trist pays to get her wine and water refilled in her skins and purchases fresh rations giving the old ones to the kids in need nearby.
Klembsy has prepared himself for the shrine yesterday night by casting away Purify Food and Drink, Magical stone and Barkskin and has prayed for Create Water, Bless and Sanctify.

Eggs responds.
“We’ve thought of that, unfortunately these tablets have proven to be magically resistant to any form of detection or scrying.
I would guess the individuals who hid them were particular about them staying hidden.” He says with a smirk.

“We’re not quite sure what exactly these items do, we have some theories but because the ‘treasure hunter’ already has the first item, it’s important we discern their identity before we attempt to recover the item, if that course of action is decided upon. It’s important we tread carefully without spooking the ‘hunter’ into disappearing with the first item. We need to know what they know about the items, what their intent is with them, and who they’re working for or with. Right now this job is purely surveillance.”
Maltron responds, “I am in, however, I have already committed myself to helping my friend which will lead me into the surrounding woods. If there are no delays in the return, I shall be prepared to aid you and your people in this task.”

Farouk Facepalms…“Ok Im in.” Looking over at Maltron “You know, this aint gonna be easy, not at all.”

“I got some ideas how how to make this work, but Eggs, I wanna know what your boys got in mind, and what kind of resources you can make available to us. You see, this kind of job on such short notice is bound to fail unless I got a little more to work with. Know what I mean?”
Eggs takes a pull from his tankard. “What exactly are you interested in? My employers need you to observe the person or persons locating the tablet. You’re to pursue them, without being noticed, and to report back once you confirmed their retreated location or drop. Make sense?”

“This hunters no amateur, from what you’ve told me so far. Following without being noticed wont be easy. Especially if its a large group. You got that fancy hat see, my boys well they got dumb luck, and I think its about all used up. I’m trying to figure out how to follow someone used to not being followed.”

“Honestly, Id prefer to get to those tablets first, plant some sort of something, and track that. Maybe the tablets cant be tracked but something else the hunter picks up can be. You say that tablet is elven. Something from the crown wars. Well If we leave something with the tablet, something elven, something they feel compelled to take take. That’s our in. Once they nip the goods, we will be able to track them. Taking the direct route is risky. If you got a good idea where the 2nd is, we can do that”

“Simple magics like a locate object would work then. Throw in a clairaudiance or a clairvoyance and you got your boy. Once again, just to stack the deck id blood mark anything you want to be found.”

“Being a guild and all, those things should be fairly easy for you to do. Me I got no crystal ball.”

“Now Eggs, don’t get me wrong, Im curious just like you are, and I really want to help, But the following without being noticed part, well that has me bothered a little.”
Eggs rubs his chin. “Not a bad plan, we could create a fake tablet and plant it there before the hunter arrives. There is a high level of risk involved with this. The location must look undisturbed. This will most likely prove to be difficult if the location is trapped or the tablet is in a precarious position, in the wall or rock or the like. Or even the area may have some magic resistance of it’s own. And what if there is a guardian? What if the hunter arrives while the forgery is being planted? This route seems to have too many contingencies for failure.”

Alvyra stares katanas at Farouk for his snide remark about her lack of sneaking skills. Alvyra thinks, I don’t need to be sneaky, there are spells for that, duh! Some mage!

However, there’s serious business here, so Alvyra rises above Inkpot’s pettiness and refrains from rebutting. Proud of herself for not stooping to his level, she remarks, “What if we tag the hunter? We pose as some common thugs attempting a random mugging. When he fights, we back off as if we realize we’ve picked the wrong fight, but one of us places a tagged object on him before he ‘scares’ us off. Otherwise, are there any devices we can use to communicate with each other remotely? Then we can split up and not look so obvious. If we have some horses, we can take turns tailing him, you know, leap frog past each other. This way we don’t risk him noticing the same person behind him the whole time. Of course we should take full advantage of magic, Invisibility, Flying, Change/Alter Self, and Polymorph Self. We can try a variety in case any one fails. If the hunter can detect Invisibility, perhaps he won’t notice Maltron flying overhead in the form of an owl.”
Eggs smiles. “Yes! That could work. Do any of you know a sleight of hand master who would be able to accomplish this? My employers would be able to provide you with potions of invisibility, flying, perhaps polymorph and a few others that could come in handy. We’ll also come up with a ‘marker’ of some sort you’ll use to plant on the hunter. In regards to your communication request, that is something I will have to look into. Unless anything immediate comes to mind?”

Alvyra relishes the praise. Hah! Here I am telling you Inkpot the Oh So Clever how to get it done with magic!

She continues. “If the magical communication proves too difficult on such short notice, perhaps we can make do by transforming one of us into an invisible talking bird-man (Aarakocra, Flight 36). This person could fly around and pass messages as needed.”

Alvyra thinks dreamily, Or perhaps a pegasus, they’re faster, but I don’t think they can talk. Alvyra would love to polymorph into a pegasus, ooh horses, flying horses…

Farouk stares back at Alvyra, This chick is into really into me, too bad, Farouk thinks not my type.

Horses and such might work, but if this is taking place in the sewers, thats a no go. Various polymorphs would be good. Turning into rats and such.

If no one has quick enough hands, Im sure a little magic can do the same. We can rehearse planting the object a few times to make sure though.

“So Eggs, what else can you tell us, where are those tablets?”

At the mention of sewers and rats, Alvyra snaps out of her reverie of riding bareback on a flying pegasus, blue skies and bright yellow sun at her back as she lays into some evil scaled demon-dragon creature thing that bears a purely coincidental resemblance to a polymorphed Farouk.

What!? Sewers!? Rats!? No horses!? It’s not that Alvyra can’t handle it, it’s just that it’s disgusting and definitely Town Watch jurisdiction. I’ll have to wear extra perfume and swap out my plate mail for standard issue leathers. Alvyra hates the standard issue leathers. They never have anything in her size and they make her look so… rectangular. Cows wear leather and Alvyra is no heifer.
Eggs continues. “Where we believe the tablet is located are two adjacent shops in the south end of River Tree, ‘Whitesmiths’ territory. Side by side, one ‘Elhmunds leather workings’, the other a bakery called ‘Two Cart Dry Goods’. Each of these have stone foundations so we assume they must have cave cellars. The tablet will most likely be found in the caves. A representative from my employers (he gives you a wink) will be in touch with you within 24 bells.”
With that, Eggs stands.
“If you don’t mind gentlemen, I’ve been instructed to deliver a private message to Alvyra.When the pair are alone, Eggs leans in to the paladin and speaks in Marcetheus’ voice. “Practice great caution. I fear the others perhaps do not realize the unknown potential this ‘hunter’ may possess. I have also been told, each of the separate warring guilds have been generously recruiting not only from the shady pools of thugs and mercs in River Tree but also from the 1/2 orcs of the southern farms. With this big a crowd of undesirables and ill-repute, watch your back at all times. Things may escalate quickly and we are looking to you to maintain focus. Good speed and may Tyr guide you.”

Hoken reassures the group he’ll make arrangements for help to meet the party at the Shrine.
After a few hours of swift travel, the party arrives without incident.
As gear is unpacked, a group of young boys moves silently out of the trees, greeting the group.
7 in all, ranging from the youngest who looks to be around 9 to the oldest who appears to be in his early-mid teens.
4 appear to be human and 3 look half elven.

All appear to be dressed somewhat shabby and dirty, in hides and worn leathers, and each carry a dagger and shortbow.
The oldest, a human who carries a short sword, approaches Trist, salutes her in Frontier ranger fashion and introduces himself as Haalwin.
He explains they have been hired by Hoken to assist in the party.

Trist relays to the rest of the group that these boys are rangers in training. They live and train in the forest for such time until they can successfully complete the Ranger’s trial and become an official Frontier ranger, just like she and Ein did long ago.

Trist explains to Haalwin the plans for clearing and cleaning the grove and shortly after Haalwin breaks off, barking orders to the other fledgling rangers who break out wood axes, small shovels, and picks. Obviously looking to impress the older adventurers, they begin assisting the party in their task. Receptive to orders, enthusiastic, and with a level of discipline bizarre in young ones such as these, the party is amazed at how quickly and efficiently the boys work.

Alvyra remains on the fringe of the grove, she takes the opportunity to groom and brush her grazing horse while keeping a watchful eye on the perimeter and the group.
Maltron finds a nearby secluded spot to focus and concentrate. Once ready and confident, he casts Find Familiar.

Close to late afternoon, work winds down to completion. As Klembsy begins his priestly preparations to cleanse the shrine stone, 3 of the ranger boys head out to hunt for dinner while the others start a campfire and collect wood for the night.
The party takes the moment to relax. A wineskin is passed, the air is cool and calm, the rustle of the forest sways and blends with intermittent birdsong, as the sun begins to set the scene is quite content and peaceful.
As Haalwin and the two other boys return from hunting with several braces of rabbits, Kistol, Farouk, and Finna bid farewell as they have appointments back in Frontier.After his shopping Francis wanders a bit throughout River Tree. Catching a quick drink here, a card game here (+3 GP), he familiarizes himself further with the small urban sprawl.
A bell or two after midday, the navigator wraps up a meal or blackened fish, baked salted asparagus, green apple slices, and a small wedge of sour rye bread with sharp yellow cheese. Washing it down with a pewter tulip of smooth brandy, a man approaches his table. “Captain Francis I presume?”
Short, balding with long hair, his bushy eyebrows furrow as he levels a stare on the navigator over his hooked nose. Dressed in black leather armor and sporting several daggers and a short sword, the ugly weasel of a man cracks a yellow smile revealing a few missing teeth and asks “Buy you a drink?”

Farouk after a hard day of memorizing one unseen servant after another bids* Klembsy* the the best of luck and bows out. Farouk heads back to the town, invisibly and quickly utilizing his nifty new boots.

Once back in town, Farouk cases the points of interest noted by Eggs, before heading back to the hydra, with a full complement of ESP’s and a new disguise.

Farouk tries to drum up a game of cards, and plays a less than fair game. In Farouks terms that means he loses just as much as he wins. Does his best to make some “friends”, glean some rumors, and maybe, just maybe a little more with the ESP’s

Maltron will inform the boys that he intends to call a familiar and to avoid killing it while hunting. He’s not sure how to describe what they should expect, but if they see a smallish animal or other rather harmless creature approaching him, they should exercise restraint until they are sure it is not his familiar.

Otherwise, he will meditate on purity of thought and at times conjuring a mental image of himself bowing and praising Mielikki. He is hopeful that the Goddess will hear his need of a familiar and aid in guiding him the best familiar for him. He is unsure of what will come, but is excited, feeling that this is another step in becomming a powerful mage.

Once/if the familiar shows up, he will assist with the clearing of the shrine.

hearing the drink offer, Francis thinks to himself, finally some recognition. This little town really is growing up. “Well my fine fellow. Captain Francis indeed.” He says with a nod and a wicked grin. “It just rolls off the tongue, don’t you think? You look like you’d make a fine sailor. You’re in luck, I’m in the market for some core crew members. The last lot wasn’t up to task, and had to all be put down.” He says with a shrug. “You look like fine stock. A drink it is, I’m not one to refuse a proper drink.” Francis goes on to order a fitting drink for his station of Captain Francis. “Who might you be, and what brings you to this fine establishment?”

Klembsy is happy to see and meet the young ranger-to-be boys. Mielikki likes rangers and favours them with gifts for their faith.
Klembsy’s plan about cleansing the shrine is as follows:
1) Upon arrival, begin with a thanking/welcoming prayer.
2) Gather all people around him before the start of works and cast Bless centered on him.
3) As the others begin working, concentrate on praying alone, asking about forgiveness and praying again to regain Bless.
4) Use the bucket to cast Create Water then cast Bless centered on the water. (Klembsy cannot cast Light)
5) Use the blessed water with a brush to clear the defiled stone statue from the orc blood spilt during the Ettin battle while continuously praying for forgiveness.
6) After clearing the statue, or if facing difficulty, cast Sanctify centered on the statue.
7) If needed, repray for 40 minutes to regain spells and repeat steps 4-6.
8) Finally, pray again and cast Bless to the shrine and circular grove before people leave for the night.
9) Make clear to everybody that they will have to camp and lit fire outside of the circular grove of the shrine while he will stay inside the grove in front of the statue.
10) End the evening in prayer and contemplation and ask from Mielikki a sign of her favor, a dream for guidance and perhaps a vision of where the broken horn of her statue can be found.

During all these processions, Klembsy will not eat anything to show devotion in these tasks.
After the meeting with Klembsy and seeing that the youths have an understanding of how not to damage the area while clearing the temple Wren sets off to find a secluded location with a clear view of the temples entrance and as much of the surrounding landscape as possible. After finding a few solid branches that look like they will fashion well, she settles in to her “spot”. While keeping a close eye on the surroudings Wren begins crafting some “exceptional” arrows as she watches.

The short man introduces himself as Steegh. He motions to the barkeep for another round and pulls up a chair next to Francis. “Me? No, no, no, I’m not much of sailor but I am in the market for two things. One, I will most likely need a captain to ferry me n’ my crew to Phlan and from there on to Mulmaster, no questions asked. I’m not sure at this point when I’ll need leave exactly but I’m willing to pay you to be on retainer so that when the time comes, we can leave at a moment’s notice, saavy? My job here will prolly wrap up within a week er’ so. N’ two, I heard you run with a mage fer hire, Faroot? I got need of few spells asaps, like yesterday. You set up a meeting tonight and there’s a generous ‘finders fee’ inna for ya. These sumfins’ you figure you kin handle? “ He sips his tulip of brandy.
“Well, Steegh, I believe we could work somthin out for our mutual benefit. I’m beginning to take a fierce liking to the brandy from around here, not bad.” Taking a sip from his tulip, Francis leans in to Steegh. “I don’t mind the job with no questions asked, your business is yours. But you heard, huh? Who might these birds you’re hearing things from be? I’d like to know a little bit about how you came to know of me and Faroot.”Steegh smirks, “Word gets round ya know? You think you kin’ handle these arrangements?”

Trist returns the salute and chats with him a bit. Later on Trist approaches Haalwin and says, “Thanks for helping out. I’m sure the boys will gain a lot from this experience. She asks Haalwin if they can stay the night to help with watches and to help protect Klembsy”? Trist remembers back to her younger days in training to be a Frontier Ranger and enjoys the fond memory. Hard work but well worth it she thinks.

Trist tells Wren, “I will be on watch just opposite you. We will need to figure out our night watches with who is staying”.

She says to Finna if she has the opportunity to, “Lets pray together before you go sister if that is ok”? Afterwards if they get to pray together she hugs her and says ,“I’ll join you tomorrow if I can. Be safe sister”.

When Farouk makes his way to the Hydra, he goes as a non-descript commoner, albeit a good humored easy going one, maybe a little rough around the edges but generally an all around good guy that you wouldn’t mind downing a ale with around a poker table.

He becomes especially friendly with the half-orc barmaid if possible, charms an interesting patron or 2 and ESP’s shady characters that look like they know more than they should.

Farouks purpose here is to blend in, a likable sort of way, but not to blatant or too much all at once. As Jo’s hangout, he figures this place is as good as any to get a feel for whats going on in the underworld, and to gather intel. At least in this part of town.

If anybody asks he’s friendly but evasive about his past and insists he just arrived in town today and is looking for some good company and a place to stay.

“RJ,s my name good to meetcha!”

“I guess these young lads are more than adequate for the job. Since Wren is off over there somewhere, I’ll go over in this direction to keep a watch.” Finna paces around the area with her spear and shield, trying to keep watch but finds her mind wandering again and again. When three of the youths startle her as they head out to hunt, she sighs and moves to the campfire that has been started.

As the sun begins to set, Finna stands up and begins to gather her things. Trist quickly pipes up “Let’s pray together before you go sister, if that is ok?” “Actually, I was gathering my things so I could move away from this sacred spot in order to pray to Freya. That way I would not have to come back over and could immediately move onto Frontier. Walk with me,” she replies. The two priests step away and find a spot where they can face west to see the setting sun and pray. After a few minutes, Finna stands up to hug Trist. “Be safe, may Freya watch over you. Keep the group safe as well and I shall see you on the morrow. Let the others know I said good-bye.” With that, she begins her trek back to Frontier at the quickest pace she can.

Entering her room, she places her weapons in the rack and removes her armor. She begins to change into her other robes as her eye spies the trunk. She stops then returns to changing. Indecision begins to fill her mind and she gets caught in a state of mid-dress. A sharp intake of breath, a nod of the head and she moves into action. She draws a quick bath and furiously scrubs herself head to toe. She dries off even faster and plaits her hair in a loose braid. Hands tremble as the trunk opens, the soft material seeing light once again.

Finna slows her steps as she approaches the common room and tries to stop where she can observe without being noticed. Once she spots Hoken, she waits until he is looking in her direction then enters the room. Moving towards him, she keeps looking anywhere but at Hoken. Once she is within a few steps, she pauses and finally looks at him. “Good sir, I never did thank you for your generosity. I feel wearing this wondrous item now would be a good start to thanking you. The fit is perfect, please let the tailor know.” She pauses, biting her lower lip. Indecision begins to keep her from speaking until a small growl sounds from her stomach. Laughing, she wraps her arms around her. “Guess I’ve forgotten to eat much today. Ummm… if the signaltarian hasn’t arrived yet, could I get a quick bite before conducting that business?”

Francis takes a swig from his tulip and stands. “Ok, you find me when you need me. But if you cross me, or this goes bad, then things wont end well. You keep your nose clean.” With that Francis thanks him for the drink and leaves.

Francis goes back to Charcoals and looks for Kistol.

After cleaning up and a quick meal at Charcoals, Francis accompanies Kistol as he goes to meet with Johana at her shop. Once there, Jo is pleased Francis came along and the trio head off to Northern docks of River Tree.
Johana insists a quick stop by The ‘Death Naga Grogshop’ first.

Walking in, the place is packed and Kistol recognizes and acknowledges quite a few blackcloaks among the crowd.
Jo leads the elf over to a table where five individuals sit, mulling over ales.
She introduces Kistol (using the alias ‘Pinch-pin’) and Francis to each, Catarina (female Halfling), Yernal (half-elf male), Banielm Edge-beard (Male dwarf), Perbel (Human male), and ‘Sticky-toes’ (Male halfing).
Johana goes on to explain this new crew will assisting them in their coverage of the drop.

After a quick drink and some light discussion, Jo and Kistol depart from the Naga, leaving the new squad and Francis behind and head over to the drop point at the docks.
MAP

Walking the area, the pair survey the area. She notes the drop will go down on a docked river barge (X, boat not yet present).
The duo notice a few dock workers loading crate onto a nearby barge, couple of stumbling drunks, and every now and then a random passerby. Overall the traffic is fairly light at this late hour and Jo expects even less during the drop. “RC will have the area on lockdown.”
Ducking into an alley, both don face wraps and acrobatically move up to the rooftops. Checking the ‘upper deck’ of the area, Jo points out areas of stakeout where crew will be stationed to observe. (1,2,3,4,5)

“I’m thinking Francis n’ me on rooftop 1. You n’ Farouk, if he accepts the offer, and Yernal on 2 top. Catarina, Perbel, and Baniel will be on the ground in the shadows of 4 and 3, and ‘Sticky-toes’ will be topside on 5 watching the eastside. Bows all round, we’ll cover RC if he needs to bail or a rat pops up to make a move or any of the other crews come strolling down the street. Saavy?”

The pair then make their way back down to the street and remove their coverings.
“Tell Farouk I’ll pay 1500 GP now and 1500 after. If he does well, there’ll be a bonus involved. If that’s not enough, pokk im. That’s more than the new guys are getting but less than your cut. Let’s head back over to the Naga and see if the crew is still around.

Once back at the naga, Jo explains to the crew to meet back here at 3 bells past sundown tomorrow.
“Bring your gear, your bows, your balls. Be ready and be discreet, this is the big time kiddos. Do well here and Raven will take notice, pokk it up and it’s your ass.” She pounds an ale.
“I’m in the mood for a brawl. I heard over at the Hydra it’s short pint (halflings) fight night again.” She says with a smile. “Anyone in?”

Francis looks at Jo, “I’ll follow that sweet ass over to the Hydra,” and finishes his comment with a Charismatic wink and a whistle.

RJ (Farouk) turns it on thick. The barmaid is simply smitten and makes sure his cup is never empty. General charm, combined with flowing drink, and good ol’ fashioned ESP, Farouk is able to discern the following intel.

-In general people are either scared of the guild turf war or excited at the chance to make gobs of money on it.

-All three guilds (‘The Ingots.’ ‘Whitesmiths.’ ‘Blackcloaks.’) are looking to hire as many hands as they can get and the pay ain’t bad.

-There’s quite a bit of mixed feelings about which guild is going to come out on top

-“Something big is supposed to go down soon, I need to get in on it and quick!”

-“They say the people snatching is done n’ over but Marrig ain’t been seen for days. Course they did find that one part of him but I know he didn’t go down without fight.”

-“Look at the hind-fruit on that wench. I wouldn’t mind taking a bite outta that green peach.”

-“If I don’t get some coin soon, Trakas is gonna lose it. Why is it always my dirk that gets knocked in the dirt.”

-“I’m really having a good time, it may be dirty but you can’t see this in the citadel.”

After a few bells, the barkeep announces ‘Short pint fight night’ is about to commence. The room cheers and an area is cleared. A chalk circle is drawn on the floor and a couple of swarthy, shirtless halflings are paraded out of a back room to the crowd’s elation. Bets are exchanged, a bell is rung, and the halflings begin pounding the snot out of each other.

Farouk amused and intrigued as always listening in on the the the thoughts of others makes his way to show, and finds a spot near the guy from the citadel,

“Halflings gotta luv em! So full of heart! Names RJ! Just arrived in town today, Not quite what Im used to but hella of a show!”

Farouk/RJ takes a closer look at this guy and tries to get a better feel for him. Quality of clothes/boots, manner or speech, how clean is he?

In a nutshell, Farouk/RJ is trying to read this guys level of wealth and status and his appropriateness in a place like this.
Cat walks around Frances after Jo and Kistol leave looking him up and down, her ruby red shoes sparkling with each step she takes, then she smiles a cheesy grin “You look like a bloke who can hold his drink, so how ’bout you order us up a pair of stout ones while I hit the head” her pubescent look and young girl voice seeming out of place as she tosses a coin on the table "I"ll be back quicker than two shakes of a rats ass and then we can con-vo-sate while we wait" laughing heartily at her own humor. Then she bounces off towards the door leading to the outhouse(s)((or whatever you call it here lol))

After being introduced to the new crew (before recon and return with Jo), Kistol asks the crew, “So, big job ahead. Let’s get to know each other a bit. Jo probably told you I’m a window man, I know what Francis can do. What about you lot? What’s so special about you?” He gives each one a good subtle looking over as they speak.

Kistol has missed this rooftop city work. It feels good to be out again. He says with a grin, “Francis and you, huh? Heh. Sounds like a plan. I’ll find the Fat Man and fill him in. I’ll give him the least amount of details he needs. The money’ll be the important thing.”

Kistol thinks the Hydra sounds like a great idea. He catches Francis alone on the way, “After this let’s find Mal, see if he can rustle us up some invisibility and go check out the drop site. I’ll give you the run down and I wanna check for any surprises.”

Kistol will also find Farouk and fill him in on the job with only necessary details. Cover the drop, keep alert for any attacks or foul play, cover RC and crew’s escape.
Farouk is curious about who the potential players hanging out in the Hydra tonnite, and casts a detect magic. He then scans the place while making small talk.OOC-Farouk keeps a cantrip spell up.Well….” catching eye contact as she strolls over to Kistol, “As Jo told ya my name is Catarina but you can call me Cat ……..if your nice to me anyway!” she laughs heartily “So the things that make me special are….. that Im super cute, I have these awesome shoes aaaaannnnnnddddd…..” she opens her small hand which contains a small vial (which Kistol recognizes) and extends it towards Kistol “I have a nack for finding things and I do believe this belongs to you” as she smiles a sly cheesy grin. “Im sure you are happy I found it since no one like to lose stuff”! smiling happily she skips back over with the others.Kistol recognizes the small vial as his vial of anti-toxin.

Farouk casts message and targets Kistol and Francis, and continues talking to fancy pants from the citadel, Farouk makes no eye contact or any other move that would suggest that RJ is actually Farouk.

“Didnt, expect you back so soon, I see you boys have made some friends.”

There is a slight double take when Hoken spots Finna enter the room coupled with a moment of hush among the patrons. Even Francis, Kistol fell to pause. As she approaches, the chatter room quickly picks back up and Hoken flushes trying to busy himself behind the bar.
After she speaks, he replies hesitating only a moment, standing straight, he briefly focusing on his next words as if he were addressing royalty.
“My lady, a woman of such notable piety and beauty such as yourself deserves nothing less. A thing of passing, a mere token, the least I can offer a living Valkyrie. You humble this old warrior with the blessing of your presence and you honor the guardians with your courage and steel in land.”
He voice lowers with some seriousness as he leans in only slightly.
“Know this Finna the fair maiden of Frontier, here, in my house, you will always be welcome.”
Hoken blushes a bit and immediately collects himself.
“Where are my manners, of course, you must be famished! I hope the ‘ranger-lings’ who assisted performed you well. Please take a seat, the finest fare Frontier has to offer will be at your disposal.”
He winks.
“I hope you brought the appetite of a warrior, I expect nothing less.”

After a quite lush and extravagant dinner for the party, Hoken escorts a gray bearded human male to the table. Late in his middle age and wearing expensive robes, his grooming and appearance are meticulously tailored and clean. Around his neck, on a platinum chain, is a signal that appears to have been carved from a large blue sapphire. Hoken introduces the man as ‘Martimbert Dun-Can, Frontier’s signaltarian.’
Martimbert Dun-Can produces what appears to be a patch of dark black silk from inside his robe. He lays it on the table and unfolds it four times. Surprisingly, he then reaches ‘inside’ the cloth, as if it were a hole, and lifts out a lacquered wooden box. Setting it on the table, he opens the box and from it pulls a small ornate dagger which also he lays on the table.
“Adventurer’s guild correct?” Looking to the Finna.
“Will you be ‘blood-marking’?”

Farouk chats up the patron, utilizing his ESP realizes this is only a somewhat wealthly merchant who has decided to ‘slum it’ for the evening.
Not much else is revealed.
Detect magic on the crowd reveals minor ‘pulses’, nothing of any significance, a few low level mages in the room as well a some low level items.

After a bit of brawling, Farouk spots Johana, Francis, and Farouk enter the tavern.
The trio grab drinks and join in the festivities of ‘Short pint fight night’.

Kistol smiles warmly as Finna’s pleasant feminine side shines and brightens the room, exchanges a glance with Francis, nods with eye contact with Finna, but otherwise, says nothing.

Kistol grins and takes the vial out of Cat’s outstretched hand, “Nice. Glad to have you on the crew. I don’t know what use that’ll be on this job, but you never know. Oh, and uh, I think it goes without saying you don’t do that again, hm? And the rest?”

Enjoying the festivities, Kistol bets 10gp on the shortest fighter.

Upon hearing Farouk’s message he looks behind I’m then slowly around trying to pinpoint where it’s coming from. Guessing this is some kind of magic Kistol responds subtly, “Oh, good, you’re here. Heh, friends, right. Very difficult to find friends in this business. New crew. Interested in a job? Where are you, by the way?”

Francis thinks this Cat woman could be trouble, the good kind of trouble…
Francis orders up a few drinks while the lady is away. He stands close to her when she returns and does his best to act Charming around her. “So Catrina, is it? A pleasure to meet you.” After small talk and con-vo-sation… “Have you ever been at sea, or know your way around a Seafaring vessel? I will be happy to give you a private tour of the Captains quarters.”

In reply to Kistols offer for people to volunteer information about their abilities and qualifications, Francis simply says, “I make this operation look good, and if the need arises, I can burn everything to the ground.”

Francis pulls Kistol aside as opportunity permits, describes the man Steegh, and asks if he knows or has heard of this man, has any knowledge of his type of business or guild affiliation, but doesn’t describe the conversation that took place. “Between you and me, some ugly puss of a human came up to me and made conversation. He looks the cutthroat type, the kind that is likely be part of the underground in some form of another. Does this man Steegh, ring a bell, if not any chance you can ask around and see? Keep it on the down low, thanks buddy.”

If Francis figures out Farouk is Farouk, he’ll pull him aside and speak to him about the offer made by Steegh… “Any ugly puss of a man cam round asking about you, and your services. Could be just the client you’re looking for, has money, doesn’t like to talk. Can’t vouge for him one way or the other, I don’t trust him myself, but he made me an offer too. Keep that between you and me though.”

Speaking to Jo, and Kistol during the outing, Francis asks Jo. “Say one would need a nondescript crew at short notice. I can captain a ship, but to have a few loyal and trustworthy fellows as the core of my crew, that would already have some seafaring experience, you know any? I can pick up some swarthy fellows in Phlan, but it would be nice to find a handful of men I could trust. If we’re going to make this relationship work, we should think about having some go to Seamen.”
Farouk lies, eyes on the fight, “Don’t bother lookin kiddo, I’m not there. I seem to remember last time Jo had some issues when I came to visit so keeping it low profile you know. You got something special in mind? My schedule is about full for the next few days but I may be able to squeeze you in. Whatcha got in mind?”

Assuming, Francis decides to talk to an unseen Farouk “A Job eh? No idea what he needs? Hmmm… Ive got nothing special lined up this evening, so I guess Im free tonite if he is.”

I’ll be having a round at XYZ pub, for a few hours remember that place? Bring your guy, and make sure he has gold. Don’t keep me waiting too long, gotta get my beauty sleep. Oh yeah and let him know my rules, Jo got that speech helluva of lady but damn shes insecure."
Francis mouths without sound to Farouk, “The work he wants done, he said he needs it done like yesterday. So meet me at the Bronze hare as soon as we get out of here, and we’ll see if he shows.”Farouks waits around to see what Kistol needs before he leaves.

Kistol replies to Farouk, “Nah, eyes are watching. You want the job, I’m at the Hydra. Long as you don’t run your mouth too hard, you’ll be fine. You don’t have to deal with Jo, anyway. I’ll fill you in.”

“Steegh? ( DM: do I know him? ) I’ll ask Jo. What’s he needing? We need to be careful right now. Farouk may not care, but it’s important we don’t end up on the wrong side.”

DM EDIT: Kistol hasn’t heard of Steegh and neither has Jo

RJ takes his leave, and finds an out of the way place to cast invisibility. Farouk returns to the Hydra about 40mins later (visibly) and finds Kistol, Farouk some fresh spells in hand is ready to negotiate.

Invis x1
Levitate x 1
Kistol moves aside with Farouk and fills him in on the job, “Basically we’re there as eyes and ears and to cover the crew making the drop. We watch out for anyone trying to intercept the drop and prevent that. We’ll all be at different stations with bows. You and I will be on a roof with that one, Yernal. We’ll be southeast of the drop point along the docks with line of sight. If you want it, it’s 1,500 gold now and 1,500 after. If you’re in you can come with Francis and I to check it out tonight. I’ll show you where we’ll be. This is tomorrow night. You in?”

“Hmmmm I told you my schedule fills up quick, tomorrow night is not good for me, but heres what I CAN do. 1500 will get you 15 invisibilities and 15 pieces of magic armor. The Invisibility will last ya a full day if ya don’t misbehave, and that armor will protect you better than any leather without the weight or restriction, and it will last longer than most guys in a fight. I may have a few other things that Jo could use as well. If this is going down tomorrow night, Ill need to get an early start, thats alot of magic.

“If Jo still wants me, have her set me up with a private back room where I can do what she needs.”

Kistol responds to Francis, “Haven’t heard of any Steegh, neither has Jo. I’ll go with you and meet him. See what I can figure out.”

Addition:
Kistol also relays Farouk’s offer to Jo, “Those spell would come in handy for something like this as long as RC knows we’re there. Might make it easier to catch any rats if they turn up.”
Kistol, Farouk, and Francis head over to the Bronze hare.
The tavern is somewhat dark and business appears to be slow.
Francis spots Sneegh sitting alone at a table nursing an ale and puffing on a pipe.
As the trio approach, Sneegh looks a bit wary. Standing, he addresses Francis “Hopefully one of these is Faroot, who’s the other?”Kistol lets Francis make introductions unless directly addressed and subtly checks Sneegh out looking for any signs of rival guild membership.

Farouk sits down, "Pleased to meet ya, so I hear you need some some special services and your in a bit of a hurry.
No no… before you say anything hear me out. We all got rules without em we don’t stay in business long. No what I mean? The less I know about you and your business the better. Actually I don’t care who you are or what your business is. As far as I’m concerned we are just two guys trying to make a deal. You give me a general idea of what you need, and if in my honest opinion I can help, ill give you a price. Gold up front, that buys you discretion and honesty. I don’t do wetworks, and I don’t take sides. Screw me over, and everyone will know. So if you like my terms, then Id love to hear what you need.

Farouk smiles genuinely and orders a drink.

Feeling the heat on her face, Finna looks towards the bar, away from others who may be looking. Composing herself, she turns back and speaks in a lower tone. “You honor me with your praise. I pray to Freya that I can continue to embody the spirit of a Valkyrie and live up to your view of me. And do not belittle yourself, by no means should you consider yourself as old, perhaps seasoned. One would be foolish to think you could not handle a weapon still. If the opportunity arose, a spar with you may prove to be educational.” She gives a quick, sly look at Hoken.

Her voice returns to normal, “Yes! I am famished! The food here has been second only to what I imagine the feasting halls in Valhalla have and they are being sorely pressed!” She quickly tucks into the dinner. With the initial hunger pangs relieved, she slows down to speak between mouthfuls. “To answer your question earlier, those ‘ranger-lings’ were very suited to the task. They worked hard and performed the tasks assigned to them with little difficulty. It was impressive to see the bounty of game they were able to gather just prior to my leaving to keep this appointment. I need to remember them and have Srren give thank to Frey for their presence.”

Enjoying the last of her mead, she watches as Hoken escorts a man to the table. She notes his fine, sharply dressed and groomed look. Her eyes lock in on the signal, the sparkling sapphire casting light around the room. That would make a wonderful gift for Freya, alas it has to serve a duty. They stop at the table and Hoken introduces the gentleman. “This is Martimbert Dun-Can, Frontier’s signaltarian.” “Well met, good sir. I am Finna Frilund, Priestess of Freya. My humblest thanks to you for meeting me so quickly in this matter.”

Curiosity grows as she watches him unfold the cloth on the table top. Her eyes cannot help to widen as his hands reach into the cloth and pulls out a lacquered wooden box. He sets it down, opens it and removes a dagger from within that he also sets down. He looks up to Finna, “Adventurer’s guild correct? Will you be ‘blood-marking’?” “Correct, Adventurer’s guild. Aye, I shall be ‘blood-marking’ as well. I have noted first hand the folly of not having that done and this area is still too wild to not take that precaution. Besides, there are some around here who would want to make sure where I was.”

After introductions, Steegh orders a round and the group sits.
The ugly weasel man leans in and explains the job to Farouk.
“I need 6 spells, this one, no questions asked.” He lays a single sheet of parchment on the table, it appears to be recently torn out of somewhere.

Looking it over Farouk recognizes it as the spell deep pockets.
Steegh then lays three 100 GP trade bars on the table for the trio.
“This if for your trouble.”
He pushes a 500 GP trade bar into Francis.
“Finders fee.”
He then slides across a 1000 GP trade bar to Farouk.
“Cast me six of that spell and you’ll get six more of these. I need magic tomorrow asap. Take this tonight, learn the specs, meet me here 10 morning bell sharp. You no show, you’re dead. You’re late, payout takes a dive, bigtime. That’s it, you say yes or no that’s all I want to hear, we got a deal?” He pounds his ale, spits in his hand and reaches out for a shake.

Farouk sets down his mug, and smiles “Well I guess I better get started then! Gnite fellas!”

Farouk beats feet back home invisibly, gold in hand, and prepares for a long night.

Kistol accepts the gold, but keeps track of the specific bar on his person. Kistol gets a good look at Steegh to remember him and be able to provide a description. Any guild affiliation that Kistol can sense?

If Kistol can get them before tomorrow’s job, he will buy caltrops, a glass cutter and tar paper.

DM EDIT: Kistol isn’t able to discern/sense any guild affiliation from Steegh. He is also able to find caltrops while shopping the next day but a glass cutter and tar paper will take a few days to acquire.

Francis takes the bars and keeps them separate as well. He heads back to Charcoals for the night. He whispers with Kistol as they walk back, “I know your reservations and understand your worries, but there’s no way of getting to know more about the underworld workings than to get involved. This could go against Jo, I know, but either way we’ll know more being out here working the streets then sitting around and waiting for Jo to tell us what’s what.”Kistol nods, “You’re right. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be so on edge, but with these turf wars going on everyone’s a little touchy. Didn’t you mention Steegh having work for you, too? What’s that about? By the way, Francis, I wanna go check out the drop site tonight. You want to come with me? We can check out the docks and the surrounding area.”“I would like to check out the site with you, sounds good. I’d also like to start looking out for some people I can trust to man the ship back in Phlan. I need a crew for the ship, we need a crew for the ship. But to find people trustworthy and loyal, at least a core of sailors and those with experience at sea.”

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