Seetaan Keeloak, a sea elf in his younger years, stares out at the brisk morning wind lightly frothing the tops of the waves in Bibbon bay. “I can’t wait to try out my frost bolt spell,” he mutters to himself. It’s not tool cold a day on the sea, I’ll go find something to do in the ruins of Faroth.” He slides his spell book into his side pouch, pats his component bag, jingles a bit of coin on his belt and buckles on his sword to his wide black leather belt. His red cloak is lined with golden silk, and hangs oddly because of things in pockets. It is a heavily felted wool cloak and good against the brisk sea air. Seetaan briefly scratches a crusty burnt spot…some splatter from a potions lesson a few days ago.
Lightly stomping…as if an elf could stomp…but only as any teenager of 107 could, Seetaan shouts to his mom, “Amin’ll entula e’ y’ re, atara.” She always encourages me to study magic, but never see the world, he grumbles as he trots down the path to his boat. He fishes out a pair of gloves and unties and casts the single masted off into the bay with ready ability, and draws his cloak close and buttons the collar against the wind. The day is warming up and it looks like it will only be near freezing most of the day. After the first large gust of wind and regaining an even keel, Seetaan feels his left wrist for the brass braclet from his mother, Cinnitta Keeloak, the mayor of Bibbon.
Bibbon is a well run town. It is not the chaotic circus of pirates and merchants that clog the waters of Perval bay. The sacking of Sing’jar has created quite a stir. Seetaan has seen some of the refugees that have landed on South Faroth, two were given jobs in Bibbon bay. The tales they told of how they barely escaped to the sea with their lives and nothing else to speak of gave new life to old stories of the burning forests and the beginning of the sea elves as they took to the sea, hundreds of years ago. So long ago, the only other people that accepted them were the Minotaurs…now maybe its time for the sea elves to show equal compassion.
In an hour, Seetaan is tying up at the Faroth pier. So strangely abandoned…barely taken card of. The only other ships are some scurrilous looking southern merchants who have clearly been robbed of a deal. A lot of people about, but not much actual business at noon. Marching up the road, climbing the slope to plateau that leads to the town square, he turning to admire the view, he notices that two young humans and a wolf have been following him.
He is followed right into the town square, where there is only a vegetable stand open, and one or two townsfolk immediately turn to stare at the two people with the wolf. A wolf is alarming, but among all the other strangeness, why so?
“Oh, hello, pup!” Seetaan exclaims as he feels a wet nose brush his hand. The wolf has trotted up to him and is eagerly inspecting his scent. The two humans are very self-conscious and haltingly introduce themselves. One is Amasia (a bard), the other is Leonitus (a monk). They just reclaimed their wolf from some of the merchants at the pier. Ah, so that was the ruckus. They are trying to stay…heh…trying to stay inconspicuous. Beginners!
The wolf perks up and trots of towards some thing very interesting. They all run after it. Between the hedges and through the ring of trees that encircle the Giant’s mansion, they cross the plateau at a run and start downhill towards a large ranch. The wolf gives a tentative yelp and speeds up.
Out from the vale a ranger on horseback kicks to a gallop and draws up before the wolf, who ratchets to quick stop, intimidated by the well trained horse. The wolf swerves it’s nose left and right as if it were looking at the ranch animals in the distance between the legs of the horse. The ranger, dark haired, long thin beard, dark-olive elven features, unshoulders his longbow and nocks an arrow. This no chump on a horse: the ranger deftly coaches the horse to block the path of the wolf to the ranch entirely with his hips. He motions with his bow to the wolf and strongly says, “Is this your animal? It’s not welcome here! Get it under control or I’ll shoot it!”
Leo calls the wolf and motions at it. The wolf ignores him. “I’m serious, you fools!” calls the ranger. Seetaan, seeing some leadership was necessary, steps forward, kneels down and wraps his arms around the wolves shoulders, shushing. “You are approaching a ranch. We sell our sheep and goats to the whole rest of the island. Predators are not welcome here. You will have to pay for any of our animals that wolf kills. Keep him under control!”
The adventurers are taken aback for a moment with the intimidating circumstances. Seetaan wonders, could I frost stun him? He’s got a bow at the ready…and I’m trying to control a hungry wolf. Leo steps forward and offers a strip of salted beef to the wolf, who breaks concentration at the scent of food and starts to slaver over the meat strip.
The ranger backs his horse up a step and (with the arrow in his hand) motions towards the the Worblad mountains. “You’re explorers, right…Adventuring? I suggest you hike to the ridge between Catworblad and Dowardblad mountains. You will find the dwarven pool fed by the spring that flows from the north side of the pass. But go now, you are not welcome here.”
An hour later, they crest the pass atop a very steep slope, but the path has been clear and used with some frequency. In a few minutes they descend to the pool and find dwarven runes on each side of the spring describing the two sharp ridges. The story is one side is cats, one is dogs, and they are constantly locked in a struggle and thus squeeze water from stone with the tension between them.
They follow the long straight grassy creek at the bottom of the valley to the ruins of the coliseum. There, a murder of crows is feasting on the bodies of dead bugbears. The wolf slips from grasp of Leonitus and sprints ahead to the carrion, scattering the crows with a cacophony. These bugbears clearly were killed in combat…and then…butchered. A lot of humanoid foot prints have been through this abandoned place, many surrounded these corpses. The paths lead across to a tunnel with a broken portcullis, a broken pair of giant sized doors to what appears to be a library, and then north to a short ziggurat.
Ascending the ruined ziggurat, they peer down a huge hole, twenty-five yards across, threaded with a spiral path into the depths. Amenasia argues they should not go down there, but into the courtyard beyond. Seetaan was not listening, and neither was Leo. The wolf was eagerly sniffing around the ramp. At the first sign towards the ramp, the wolf sped ahead down the ramp into the dimming light. The wind was calmer as they subsided and they realized that while they were now not chilled by the wind, the stale, earthy air was damp and chill, and there was no sunlight to warm their cloaks.
Three turns later they reached a landing, lined with brick facade in front of a broken wooden door that barely hung on rusted hinges. As their eyes slowly grew to the dark, the stale scent of scat and urine appeared in the air. The bottom of the door was freshly chipped, showing a hint of pale wood, and tufts of fur and were scattered about the floor. A snort and a shuffle showed the position of the wolf, busy peeing on a pile of long since eaten rat bones. Large rat skulls to be exact. Large. “Let’s open the door…” Leo said.
Amenasia walked forward and tried swinging the door out. It wouldn’t … oops! A loud screach and a ringing snap ricocheted around the stone chamber as the rusted hinges broke and the door slid diagonally in the frame. Nervous laughter. “No sense being quiet now,” she said, and then pulled the door out of the walkway and let it fall on top of the rat carcasses.
The dim light from the overhead opening of the shaft now showed tracks from various animals: some with paws, some with hooves. The wolf, ears fully forward, sprinted into the door almost immediately. They chased after: left down the curved hallway, right at the first door where they heard the wolf growling and other animals snorting a hooves scraping. Bursting into the room, they saw four boars facing the wolf, green reflections from their yellow eyes barely visible in the dim. The wolf pounced!
Seetaan sprung to action with his frost ray, striking a boar. Leo struck with his kana. Amenasia fired a hand crossbow. The wolf fell, being tusked by all three boars at once. “Help the wolf!” Cried Leo, and Amenasia bit her lip and stepped forward to heal the wolf by reaching out her arm right to it’s tail, hoping the boars would not jump the wolf and gore her.
Another bolt of frost and a boar died with a squal. The wolf sprang up with a growl and dived on the boar in front of it. Leo swung and missed. Amenasia fired another crossbow bolt and hit.
In a few seconds of fighting there was silence: all the boars lay dead on the floor. “This is a lot of meat,” Seetaan said. The wolf didn’t waste a moment and was busy sawing his teeth into the throat of the last boar. The group pulled the other three carcases back up the ramp and were met with an icy evening blast of brisk wind even thought the sun was still barely above the mountains. “We need to get to a butcher and find a place to get warm.” Seetaan said. As they hauled the boars up Worblad pass, the wind was steady. They had picked the carcases up and carried them across their shoulders into the wind to stay warm.
Lanters were lit and swaying in the town square as they pushed through the ring of trees. The wolf was still with them, dragging a well gnawed boar in its jaws. Dozens of people turned to see this group who clearly had been busy. Often hunters carried a blanket just for their kill, but this group had gone out without a that or even a mule to haul their catch back. More than they bargained for? Clearly.
“Hello!” called Mr McGinty, the town’s provisioner, the manager of the general store. “I can offer you nine silver pieces per boar and have them butchered tomorrow morning. You can have them as credit steaks or rations. Free butchering, of course. I’ll take you to Rufus Rudblad for butchering tonight, if you’d wish.” Attractive offer.
“Ach! You’re staying at my tavern, aintcha?” A lower, older voice made them turn their heads. The grizzled old half-orc publican, Antsy Thinbone, was also adjacent to them, carrying a sack of tubers from the vegetable stand. “I’ll offer you a gold peace each for them boars, and from them you can have a hot male and free drinks tonight. I’d like to year the bard sing tonight as well, if’n yuh dun mind.”
And off to the Axe and Sparrow they went, greeted by the barmaid, and were quickly served. Amenasia was thrilled to not be carrying dead creatures around, and promptly took a swig from her tankard and stood on a chair, brandishing her ukulele, and with an inviting strum, announced to the crowd, “What a day we’ve had! Let me sing you about it.”