Faroth: Bogan of Bibbon Bay Intrigue

You haven’t lived in a good elven town unless you’ve uncovered the juicy gossip that those righteous do-gooders try to cover up. Bogan of Bibbon Bay Intrigue here–have I got some dirt for you, my favorite listeners! It was not actually that big oaf Lothric that planted the bomb on the Jobin’Gahr…he would have made too much noise, right? No, it was this elven fighter, Eliza, from out in the northern Sing’jar mountains that pulled that off. (And she actually paid me to do something!)

Lothric wouldn’t have paid me anything. He just threatens people. That gruesome bugbear that attacked us? Don’t be fooled–he didn’t kill it. The killing blows were from the city guard who speared the beast. Lothric is just a meat head. He gets his way by hitting people: the innkeeper of the Grumpy Goat and his wife drove him and their ragtag band out of their establishment right before they attacked the Jobin’Gahr. He was so mad he punched the innkeeper right in the stomach before he left. Thorfinn actually tried to apologize. Thorfinn’s a nice human.

If I were Cinnitta Holleycrown–I’d watch out. That Lothric fellow is not nice. I’m convinced that he’s going to bring everyone around him a world of hurt!

Faroth: How Lothric Meets Eliza

barrel-head(Still in progress)

Faroth Adventures 2017-04-02 — 4/7

Liam/Lothric and Eloise/Eliza

In the north Sing’jar mountians, elder high elf wizard Simon Blackpine and the camp captain stood on a boulder surveying the burning valley of Sing’jar below. “Feltor,” Simon sighed, “our camp and our tribe are not strong. We are becoming shadowy and scared…we hide when we should command.”

Feltor, captain of the high elf camp, Trap’pyz, grimaced as he looked out onto the rising plumes of smoke that began to level about the elevation of their camp, bending as the wind changed direction with the mountain-top elevation. “Simon, I agree. While we have been repelling these orcs daily for years, they still thrive. Something gives them great strength. We know now that they have been interdicting the iron shipments from Faroth for some time. It would seem they want the resources of Sing’jar bay for themselves. It is a shrewd strategem. No one orc I’ve followed in the east would have the foresight to plan so far ahead. We should anticipate a greater host marching west. I shall stay with my band and patrol our realm, Simon. The islands need to know. They yet offer some hope.

”I will send two strong fighers with you, Simon, you need to warn them.”

“Not for some time have I had the joints or hardiness to walk so far, Feltor…” Simon tried to object, but was met with Feltor’s leveled gaze…unblinking. Simon sighed, and admitted to himself he needed to push himself even at five hundreds years old. He would miss his laboratory in the roots of Y’ntil, the largest Fir on the mountain.

Footsteps, then, “Captain!” announced W’ibnee, an elven ranger in a restrained rush, “We have lost…”, he gasped for breath, held it a second to long…”We have lost your son…Zok.”

“Where was he? Was he on patrol? Didn’t I order him back into camp for his next mission?”

“Sir, I heard he came back to camp in the morning after his shift was half finished. He said he needed food. He dropped off an orc dagger on the table and mentioned something about finding an orc cart. I heard your request moments later, and I traced him up the east road where he patrols. There, I saw a wrecked cart with dead goblins still chained to it. Signs of a bear attack. Zok had tracked them north to cave on the east side of the stream. Tracks all around. We found him, dead in the stream. He had been burned by magical fire and … and by acid. He had seen wounds before that, he probably killed six orcs. There were more dead orcs near the mouth of the cave. G’inday is hauling back his body, sir…so sorry, sir.”

Feltor pulled his gaze up off the ground and leveled his eyes at the ranger W’ibnee. “I…wish he had not been so headstrong. He challenged everyone…including myself. Dark…dark times. I shall tell B’ellahra. Go fetch Eliza to us. Her mission is pressing. Then help G’inday prepare rites for Zok.”

Simon looked out over the valley and his heart sank and for the first time in four hundred hears he was…quite nervous? Actually feeling anxious, in fact. He abruptly forced himself to stop rubbing the mole on the back of his right hand. He was going to rub it raw and that wouldn’t do for traveling—and it sounded like he would only have one traveling companion: Feltor’s niece, Eliza.

* * *

Lothric didn’t mind being a bouncer at the Basalt Fist…the “finest brawling tavern in Bibbon Bay.” There was a big uphill climb to it which denied many of the old villagers from making this their daily pub in the winter. The roads were freezing mud and the winds didn’t stop. After a day, the bar tender of the ‘Fist told Lothric to not open the door to just anyone. They needed to pay for a fighting chip or the cover charge, and stop letting in the damned cold air! The ‘Fist’s owner, Big Man, a glitzed out gnome with turtle shell spectacles, glossy black side burns and braided gold chains all over his shark skin vest and turtle shell boots…was constantly complaining about “the help.” The last bouncer got an knife in the ribs and was hauled off to the tallow pits earlier that week. Yesterday, Cleo the Cleaver was again the cage match champion. She was a monk with a frown as deep as her leap was high. Lotheric presumed she could do a dead vertical leap and grab the bars at the top of the match cage and break someone’s neck with a foot hold on them. Usually, she bounded along the wall of the cage and sank a hardened fist into the opponent’s trachea before they took a second step from the center of the ring when the gong rang.

Tonight was a pretty light night, beginning with two sailors trying to scam past the door fee by saying their amulets showed the account payed for by their ship. No, six silver to get past me guys, and then four silver to get inside…a gold piece will do nicely, fellas. The minotaur and sea elf chalked the fight board as Franky the Fist and Gerald the Genie. Gerald and Macho-X-Three started the first round. Gerald began to levitate (against the rules…NO weapons, NO buffs) and the sprang at each other. Macho didn’t have much of a chance, scoring only one or two points before Gerald flipped him and knocked him out with a body slam.

No one was walking up the bluff road, so Lothric closed the door and sat on a stool to watch the next match: Franky the Fist vs. Harry the Hammer. The Doc, a cracked old cleric who announced the fights and swabbed the canvas, announced Franky as a returning former champion, challenging Harry, another former challenger for the belt. Franky pulled his mug of beer between the ropes and balanced it atop his flat skull between his two oxen horns and walked a proud circle on the canvas—twirling his fists into a blur. The audience loved it! Fist! Fist-fist! They shouted. Franky bobbed his head, caught his mug, drained it, and threw it out of the cage to the bar maid. Harry met him in the middle of the mat. “I’m going to love twisting those horns off, bull head!” Harry grumbled. Fist-bump. Gong!

Right off to a surprising beginning: the Hammer sped forward and collided with Franky right into his groin with his head. Franky fell forward over the dwarf, clutching his abdomen and the Hammer sped to the opposite corner not breaking his stride. Franky’s nose was to the mat but one of his horns had pierced the canvas! He jerked his head back and his horn gave way with a rip, leaving at least a foot sized hole. Spinning around, Franky looked up to find Harry falling right on him from a leap off the stool. They both hit the mat. Franky, rolling to a crouch, spun his fists and leap up, striking Harry right in the chin and sending him sailing into the chain wall. The went at each other madly. Then badly: after two more throw-downs and a thrown stool, Franky landed a falling elbow on the Hammer’s sternum in a body slam off the remaining stool. Gong! Ten points and a beer for the Fist! And a cure serious for our sad dwarf here…K-O!

Franky and Gerald denied the crowd a fight as they worked on the same boat. The were not heckled. Franky flipped a silver to the bar maid over the wall of the cage and she delivered him another beer from between the ropes. He balanced it on his head again and walked a victory circle. “I’m all warmed up, now! Who’s next? Next!” and he caught his tipping mug, took a swig, and hung it on his right horn. “This minotaur is ready for a real fight!” The crowd loved it. The Big Man was collecting in on bets tonight, or not…a Drow in a black linen shirt and black vest with a broken nose and greasy hair appeared to be the shark tonight.

The crowd settled to a murmur as the bar-maid rang her bell three times. In from the the rear door stepped Cleo the Cleaver. “Ooooh.” Was the response as she tossed her cloak on the table and pointed a rigid finger at Franky. You’re on, dough boy! I don’t fight rolly-polly dwarves. She stepped between the ropes and was at the mat in a mere moment. Franky drained his beer, raised a cheer, and tossed his mug over the fence. Gong! Barely a fist bump and she sprang to his left, leaping up to the cage wall and running across two sides of it and launched herself to his right shoulder, attempting an in air choke hold landing on Franky the Fist. Franky fell back to the mat to draw her balance off and they both fell to the mat, and rolled away from each other, eyes locked. She flipped backwards, landed on the stool, lept up to grab the roof of the cage and flung the stool at him with her feet. He flicked it away, but she had swung her feet back to and launched herself in a flying fist strike to his face. Franky was not slow, but didn’t anticipate her momentum well enough. He crossed his arms to catch her outstretched fist but her forehead connected with his snout, spraying blood across the ring! They landed side by side, and Cleo brought her feet up to do a repetitive kick to his solar plexus…that did nothing to phase Franky. Grabbing Cleo by the arm, Franky stood and flung her against the cage wall, scraping gouges along the length of her arm, pinning her hand to the fence with his right horn.

That wasn’t even dirty fighting, but the actions were authentic. Franky must have been easily twice as strong as Cleo, if half as fast. At the Basalt Fist, if the fighting isn’t dirty, you haven’t got your money’s worth. This is the good part of town, you know!

Cleo hung by her pinned hand and swung her knees up to strike Franky in the kidneys, bending the fence out towards the crowd with a shriek of metal. Roaring, Franky flipped left, freeing Cleo, and clutched at the small of his back. Blood flowed down his face and he snorted and sneezed out a baseball sized lump of bloody phlegm on the mat. Growing pools of blood at Cleo’s feet were fed by deep scratches along her shins to her knees. She sprinted at Franky! Franky swung a foot forward with his fist to punch her in the face and she fell…into the hold in the canvas, a blood streaked smear right into the gash left by Franky’s horn. Franky’s fist passed right over her head. With more tearing of canvas, Cleo swing both her feet forward and bounced the canvas below Franky and he slipped backwards, pinning his horn into the fencing. Cleo wrestled herself back up on the mat, and sprinted forward again, fists ready to strike multiple times…and Franky stood and with a shriek of metal, the cage tore open and flapped onto the canvas and started sliding out to the floor. Patrons scooted back from their tables and looked alarmed. Whack-wha-wha-whack! Cleo landed four blows right into Franky’s ribs and he just lifted his arm and slammed her down to the mat. Not before she turned with the blow and tried to sweep kick him. He raised his shin and there was a crack of bone on bone she limply yanked her leg away from his. His hand shot forward unexpectedly…Cleo while reversing her spin pulled him forward of his center of gravity and he fell, wide-eyed, off the mat and crushed a tavern table!

Now we were into foul play. Looks like I’m on duty now, Lothric thought as he pushed forward towards the fight. Franky yelled, surprised to be so unexpectedly thrown and was irrationally angry. He picked up the crushed table and flung it into the ring at Cleo. Lothric launched his fist into Franky’s jaw as Franky swung around from the fling. Cleo dodged the flying table and jumped off the ring and landed on Frany’s back, grabbing him in a choke-hold. Franky’s eyes bulged and his anger rose, about to break himself or Cleo to get free…but Lothric quickly slammed the pommel of his great-sword up into Franky’s face and knocked the minotaur out. Whew! That was close…a raging minotaur would have driven off some business, huh?

* * *

Eliza had admired uncle Feltor since she was a child. Her mother and father seemed to take forever to accept she was worthy of a sword. Day and night, she kept her practice sword near her. After her first broke, she kept the shortened practice sword and with her new longer adult sized practice sword, she learned a two handed technique. As an elven teenager, cleaning armor and sharpening the older elves’ swords, she earned two used elven swords. There was no excuse to wait around the house now…she set out east to find the Trap’pyz base camp. After following the eastern trail, she was herded into camp by ranger G’inday while he patrolled.

Feltor was not amused. “You are a child with sharp sticks. I don’t expect much of you, child. You’ve been jabbing at hay your whole life. I’m busy…don’t pester me.” And Feltor turned his back on Eliza, pointed to a corporal, and the corporal walked over and introduced himself as Y’ntil.

Y’ntil taught Eliza and Zok the paths surrounding Trap’pyz and where the traps to catch orcs were places so she could avoid them. The orcs were felling trees and stealing whatever they could from the area. Zok was eager and always carried his sword out. People were constantly telling him to put it away, but Zok’s reply was, “the orcs are so close–going to kill one any minute now!”

Any minute now was just about accurate: the very next day, in a glade along the eastern path Zok and Eliza spotted a campsite: a smoking fire ring and rabbit bones, a two-person saw and a rotting canvas backpack. Crashing out of the bushes, two orcs ran at them with their swords drawn! Adrenaline flooded Eliza as she drew her two swords and crossed them to block the overhead swing from her attacker. Her arms rang from the ferocity of his blow. Swing his cutlass away with the long sword and jab him in the guts with the short sword. That was too easy, her swords were much sharper than she realized. The orc didn’t appear to register pain, just anger and it swung again. Offhand parry and slash with the long blade. As the orc fell to the ground, Eliza was shocked to see the result of her own strength: that downward slash busted through the collar bone and cut the orcs chest open to the rib cage. It lost blood so quickly it only had time to briefly pant a few times before expiring.

Eliza turned to see Zok sheathing his sword, a dead orc at his feet. He should have wiped his blade before sheathing it. Dried blood isn’t going to come off without effort.She kept a rag in her belt just for wiping down her steel…a holdover from her days assisting the blacksmith. Eliza asked, “Should we return to base camp and tell Y’ntil we killed these orcs?”

“No, let’s go kill some more.” Zok replied. “We’re still on patrol. Our shift isn’t over.” And for the next day, that was all they tried to do…but no more orcs were present. Zok didn’t seem to carry his blade out openly as he did before. His eagerness for blood apparently sated. He carried his bow as he walked now. And the following day, he went on patrol with his bow in his hand.

That was yesterday. The orcs were mostly too far south to drive off…except those in the cave that killed Zok. Smoke still rose from Sing’jar bay as the troops below continued to ravage and burn the city. All the boats that had left the bay with refugees probably already left. Now Simon and Feltor stood beside her. Feltor addressed her, “Eliza, your mission is to protect Simon. You are going to South Faroth island and Simon is going to contact the mayor of Bibbon in order to find a high elf rogue named Avo’ka-o, or Avo. He has connections that will help build a resistance network for the survivors of the attack.

“Stay hidden. Don’t take risks. Simon of course will use magic however he sees fit, but your job is to not go off killing orcs like Zok did.” Feltor snapped his head away and closed his eyes for a few seconds, and appeared to whisper to himself…then he snapped his head back and brushed a tear away with the back of his hand. “You are probably as prepared now as you ever will be. May Elhonna bless your journey and keep you safe.”

* * *

The Doc places a few silver into Lothric’s palm, saying policy is for the Basalt Fist doesn’t allow guests to pass out on premises when closed. Hefting the bulky dwarf, whom Lothric doesn’t have any idea where Harry was borded…just figures drop him off at the next inn. Not really my problem. Nearly sliding down the icy mud in the lane down the bluff to the rest of Bibbon, he approaches the Bucking Donkey inn. The door opens and Gerald the Genie pokes his head out (muttering something about fools) and waves Lothric in and takes Harry…with a wince and a grunt. Lothric closes the door behind him with his heel and heads over to the fireplace in the lobby of the inn. The icy mud is seeping in between his toes and his teeth are clenched with cold. That dwarf must weigh two hundred pounds. Fingers stiff with cold, he frees himself of his boots and just throws them right on the coals…and just places his feet right into the ash in the hearth. He can’t feel the heat yet…but that will come in a minute.

Just as he settles back into the chair, the sound of clothing near him makes him jerk his head: in the dim, Mon’eu-lon has crouched beside him. What is this? “I never pictured you as a bouncer, Lothric. It seems well below your capabilities.” Yes. “Well, you are finally are earning something, I suppose. Me? I just had to eject some human mercenary that thought they could be part of my crew. Found him pocketing a few silver I leave on my captain’s table just for bait. Threw the bastard right into the icy water. Hard to find good people…” Certainly is. “I don’t suppose you’ve re-considered my proposal? An honest and strong arm like your own would take you far on my ship, friend.” Friend? “I do a weekly route between South Faroth and Sing’jar. I ship coal and lumber between here and Faroth. Would you like to know who I was buying coal from yesterday?”

Lothric leaned his head up off the back of the chair and looked squarely at Mon. “Who?”

“Orcs.” Orcs? “Yes. It’s clear why the orc army attacked Sing’jar now. The resources of Sing’jar are too great to pass up. Prices are already twice what they were on my last visit.” Mon-eu’lon leaned forward, “No captain or pirate I know has any love of orcs. The captains on this island are amenable to banding together over nothing less than a threat like them. Would you join me? Help raise the resistance to the orcs?”

“I’m interested.” Lothric answered, “but I’m no sailor.”

“You…would learn much just by being muscle on my boat for one week. I can show you the ports on the islands, point out the big men in the game. You are shrewd, people respect a strong man like you. Pirates on the islands wouldn’t pick a fight with you. Come to my boat if you agree–I’m about to start my route again in two days.”

And with a quiet draft of air, Mon-eu’lon was quietly out the door. What was that smell? His boots were burning! And his feet…hot hot hot! All the hair on my feet gone? Damnit! Lothric jumped up, got his searing hot boots on, and gripping his cloak, was out the door. Damnit, so cold!

A few buildings further and he found the Grumpy Goat. Locked. To cold already to be angry, he drew his dagger and jabbed it into the generous gap of the door jam and lifted up the wooden bar behind the inn’s front door, and slipped in. Picked that trick up from Zendra. And there she was…asleep…maybe…in front of a generous fire looking freshly built in the fireplace. Finding a cot, Lothric…

…woke up to screaming coming from the other side of the window above where he slept. Shooting bolt upright, the room spun. He threw out his hands, one landed on the window sill, and the scene from the street came into focus: figures with scimitars were slashing at fleeing people and a large shadowy figure was climbing out of a large cart. Scimitars…orcs!

Lothric lurched to his feet, gripping his sword by the scabbard. Zendra…gone. Anyone? Thorfin was blinking and sitting up. “Thorfin! We fight!” And out the door he ran…into two orcs. These beasts immediately missed their slashes at him and fell in a second. Metal crashing to the street drew his attention to the cart: the rear of the cart was actually a cage that the door just fell off of. Hunched in the street quickly rose a figure in a pale cloak that in a moment stood eight feet tall. With a furred hand, it plucked a wheel from the wagon and spun it like a disk across the street into the window of the Velvet Curtain, the finest tavern in Bibbon. This dire bugbear quickly loped after his wheel and plunged through the front windows of the tavern after his toy.

Grunting from behind, two more orcs ran up behind Lothric. Thorfin, just coming out of the the ‘Goat, swung his mace and one orc flipped backwards into the icy slush of the lane. Lotheric swung and stood poised as the orc impaled itself on the blade of the great-sword…two feet longer than the scimitar it carried. Flinging the body away, two thick snakes slid out from the tarps covering the cart and slid right across Lothric’s path towards other buildings. Snakes? Huge snakes? …later.

Stepping around the cart, the glow of magic shone from the broken windows of the tavern. Approaching, Lothric saw pirate Sasha directing a spray of light at the dire bugbear, blinding it. The bugbear might not have actually cared, however. It held a table and bench in each hand, effortlessly (and blindly) batting away city guards trying to hack at it with long-swords. Sasha was backed against the wall and the bugbear had her pinned.

“Bugbear, STOP! Bugbear, kill humans in STREET!” Barked Lothric in goblin, hoping that this beast was too stupid to tell what accent of goblin was being spoken.

Miracle! The bugbear stood erect and faced the window, dropping a table from one hand reaching out towards the sunlight. “Hoo-muhn-ss?” it slobbered. Quite dazed by the prismatic spray, it nearly tripped in the window sill as it fumbled out of the tavern the way it had entered. “Kill?”

The bugbear was wearing a cloak fashioned of waxed or oiled canvas, as from a large canvas sail of a very large craft. Streaks on it showed where the slippery surface had rejected sword strikes from the guard. Crude, but surprisingly effective. And probably flammable. “Here! You dumb knuckle dragger! You can’t hit a cow, you turd!” Lothric yelled, drawing attention to himself.

Swinging a fist bigger than a dinner plate, Lothric slid backwards out of the way. Sasha, stepping out of the window, raised her hands to the sky, and with a downward gesture conjured a bright column of fire from the middle of the cloudy sky that landed squarely on the oily beast. “Warm!” it said…and smiled.

Lothric covered his eyes as the oiled cloak lit in a flash. Summoning city guards carrying spears, Lothric directed them to use their spears.  “Too warm!” The bugbear blurted as the hem of his burning cloak dropped away in flaming bits. The rancid smell of burning paraffin and fat was quickly turning into the acrid smell of burning fur. The bugbear was waving its arms around and starting to panic. Lothric would approach but the the amount of heat the fire was giving off was too great…the snow around the best was steaming and bubbling away as burning shreds of the oily cloak fell to the ground.

The guards advanced. One jabbed at the bugbear whom felt the spear, grabbing it reflexively and twisted it away with such casual strength that the guard was swung across the street. The second guard caught his spear into the cloak…his spear already on licking with flame…and tore a huge shred of the cloak off the back of the bugbear. “Hot warm!” Shouted the bugbear with growing alarm.

Time to strike! Lothric jumped with his sword to land in the clavicle gap of the bugbear’s neck and as he descended, the bugbear began to flail its arms, batting him away. He landed on his back in the icy muck. Damnit! Thorfin ran in and smashed the kneecap of the beast before likewise getting tossed aside. Rolling up to a kneel, Lothric slashed across the back of the bugbear’s thigh and his blade bit right through hamstrings.

The beast fell back! Lothric stood and waved the city guards forward. Lothric pierced between the beast’s ribs. and the guards pierced the beast in the abdomen. Blue streaks flew from the broken window and sizzled into the bugbear. Sasha stepped out after her missiles fired. In a few moments the beast lay dead.

Sasha walked over to Lothric and placed a gold piece in his hand. “I owe you a drink for saving my hide back there. That ugly thing had me cornered. Thanks.” As she walked off, her black cloak flapped wildly exposing a black leather satchel strung across her back, holding her black over-sized felted pirate hat to her head to keep the wind from whisking it away.  Lothric considered how he missed an opportunity to deal. If I had any idea she’d trick me out of owing me a favor for her life, I’d have refused to take that coin.

***

The western paths of the mountains led Simon and Eliza to the logging roads. Shame we have to sell our trees to these damned humans…orcs…anyone. The rutted trails lead them to gravel packed roads and then to the most disgusting kind of use of wood: the planked road. Right to the bay that floated hundreds of felled trunks, waiting to be sawed and sold. What waste, why not… Orcs! Patrol of three, to the left. Ducking behind a cart and waiting, the patrol passed. A grunt and a sigh drew Eliza’s attention. Simon was clearly uncomfortable, even dressed in his triple layers of cloak and two hats. Age…or infirmity…was not making travel easy on him. His face was pale. Where Eliza’s nose and ears were pink from the frosty air, Simon’s were white as paper, and his face was more lined than she’d ever seen it. He was tired, an no amount of high elven grace was showing now. Are you going to make it old one?

Street by street, they attempted to walk from shadow to shadow in the aging afternoon. As they approached the harbor, the patrols appeared to be fewer…until they turned a corner that placed them at a road-block. Backing themselves up, Simon waved a bit of mirrored metal in front of Eliza and said, “this lasts only a minute. Walk quickly and quietly.” Looking down at her hands, she could see through herself. She turned the corner, and strictly breathing slow regular breaths, she walked up to the orc on guard at the barricade. There was a gap between the barricades. Calmly, trying to turn sideways so to not bump the wooden saw horses placed in the road, she stepped between the obstacles.

Twisting left, facing her, looking up and sniffing…sniffing more! “Here! I smell elves! Stay sharp! Look for elves!” Time to go…bump. The sawhorse behind her ground a few inches across the snow as she finished stepping past it. Unsheathing his cutlass, the orc lept in her direction and brought his sword slashing down. Swirling, she dodged the strike but now she could see herself!  Oh, that’s bad. She drew steel!

Fear crept along her neck as she parried the blows, watching three other orcs run across the snow to arrest…or kill her. Blue flashes caught the rear orc in the back and it slipped backwards into the street. Well, Simon isn’t dead yet. Her short sword deflected a cutlass and her longsword clattered across the rivets of a helmet. In a few seconds she would be surrounded. But instead…it grew warm!

Orange light ginted in the black eyes of the orc she fought. He blinked and she swung her long blade up and chopped the left arm off the orc, her short sword thrusting up under his sternum a moment later. That orc fell and behind him two more were a step behind, trying to slash down at her! Jabbing her short and long swords out into each of their thighs, they tumbled into the wall of flame behind her and the hides wore became fuel that promptly started cooking them into orc bacon. Time to go!

A gong sounded and then a small bell, then a crude cow horn. Simon stiffly ran towards Eliza and waved his fingers at her, motioning her to tip the barricades over. In a quarter of an hour, they had run along a canal that lead to a logging dock. Loosening it’s ropes, a craft labeled the Silver Pearl was about to push off. Drow were milling around on the pier near it, and they looked perplexed as two cloaked high elves ran towards them. “Hold my hand!” Gasped Simon. And before the puzzled Drow could finish drawing their steel, they rose in the air over their heads and descended onto the main deck of the ship.

Seizing the moment, Simon raised a finger at the sky and flicked salt with his other hand and a gust of wind smacked the sails so quickly the ropes sang, and the Silver Pearl was underway. A gnome with a fur-trimmed and shiny leather cloak and a tooled leather cap on blond hair trotted forward shouting, “I didn’t invite you aboard! Get off my ship!” But a startling flurry of black arrows landing on the deck around them proved that the deal this captain was trying to make wasn’t in his interest. Snapping his mouth shut, the gnome just held out his open palm, awaiting payment. Simon dug somewhere beneath his cloaks and produced a small gold nugget as payment. “Finally…some profit!” shouted the gnome. With some quick flair, Captain Peron Jimdo waved a ringed hand at the docking cleat and the rope untied itself and snaked back to the deck. A flick of a blue wand at the sails with the other hand and a causal foot on a locked chest, the Silver Pearl whisked from the docking slip so fast that everyone grabbed a rail. “To Bibbon bay, then!” Peron shouted!

* * *

Four dead pythons later and a dozen spooked citizens reassured, an elven woman in a fur lined and satin trimmed cloak, a thin silver band tooled in the pattern of holly leaves over a fitted wool balaclava approached Lotheric and Thorfin and lead them out of the street. Stepping out of the wind into an outfitter’s shop, Cinnitta Holleycrown, mayor of Bibbon bay led Lotheric and Thorfin into a conversation, “You have helped defend Bibbon!” she said with a big smile. Waving the owner up to them, “Outfit these men with new cloaks and boots and make them warm against our winds. They set sail soon.”

Ignoring the shop keeper (who was pulling a measuring ribbon out of his pocket) the elven mayor continued, “Where are you staying? I’ll settle up your accounts there. When you’re done here, I have a job for you. Please come to city hall and we’ll talk. Soon, right?” Lothric, looking puzzled, surprised to be given things, pursed his libs and nodded. Mayor Holleycrown turned and walked out the door. In a few minutes, Lothric and Thorfin left the outfitters with nicely lined heavy elven wool cloaks that appeared to simply ignore the wind, and new rabbit lined leggings and boots with nicely riveted dagger pockets and hard leather knees that sat nicely over his chain leggings. The shop keeper even had a boy brush rust off his chainmail while they stood waiting.

Outdoors again, the wind still smacked him in the face. But now the snow didn’t leak into his boots, and for the first time in years he didn’t immediately hunch his shoulders and grimace from cold when the wind gusted. Thorfin chuckled and merely said, “Niiice!” in complete contrast to his typically concerned and selfless clerical mannerisms. Shop keepers were busy sweeping debris and fixing porches with hammers and lumber, a glazier shouted at his helper to not drop the glass and the city gaurds grunted as they hauled the burnt, stinking corpse back into the cart used in the surprise attack. What a mess…but probably a good time to quit that dumb bouncer job at the Basalt Fist, thought Lothric.

Later, Lothric meets mayor Hollycrown in her office. She is introduces him to an tan faced sea elf named Avo who sports a nicely shined leather vest with…cleverly tooled pockets for throwing knives…twelve throwing knives, if Lothric isn’t mistaken. Avo opens the office door and ushers in an aged looking elf with a lumpy cloak that probably hides a menagerie of pockets and blonde high elf woman, two swords over scale armor, who wraps her own cloak over the old elve’s shoulders at they sit. Unusual that such an old elf seems so aged. he seems to shiver even in a warm room.

The mayor stand an gestures, “Here are Eliza and Simon, liasons of the north Sing’jar mountains. They are here to help plan resistance and cooperation…to spread the fight to two fronts against the orcs. Simon has time to help create a bomb. This can be planted on the  Jobin’Gahr, orc warloard Garnog‘s three decked battle galleon, anchored out in the bay. “We need to send a reprisal against the Garnog immediately, to show we’re not helpless. If this magic is played well, we might actually damage the Jobin’Gahr enough to keep it from landing more orcs. Lotheric, you’re here to help as muscle if the orcs see through whatever disguises Simon can come up with.”

And as afternoon turns to evening, Lothric quits being a bouncer, buys some hide armor with Eliza, and they go to the tallow maker, and gain bits of smelly orc fat and darken the armor with fat, charcoal and ash. They now stink, and get on a dingy that rows them to the High Moon, Mon-eu’lon’s frigate. Mon sails them fairly quickly to just outside cannon range of the galleon. Avo, thin, was easily strong enough to row the distance to the galleon. Richley, a young wizard, quietly discussed the plan. Eliza would be invisible, the dingy silenced, and she would climb the ship and haul up the crate of enchanted lamp oil. She would lug it under her cloak to get it below decks.

Eliza was scared. The spell might wear off at any time. He hated smelling like orc. She heard her own footsteps. Finding a staircase, she quietly walked down it and was on the main deck with at least twenty other orcs mostly sitting at tables. The spell is going to wear off any second. I really want to drop this right here and go! Taking a big breath as quietly as she could, Eliza turned away from the stairs and placed the box behind a few barrels of salt pork. Twisting the minute-glass tied to the enchanted barrel, she escaped back to the dingy.

None too soon! As she dropped the last foot into the dingy, There was a flash and a shudder from inside the galleon and orcs started screaming! A ball of flame mushroomed up from the aft hatch. Time to go. As they rowed back, the sun started brightening the horizon. the ship was not sunk. The sails were still furled. A column of smoke drifted into the sky and glowed high above as the first rays of dawn touched it.

When they meet next, three more ships will join the battle later:

  • Captain Lintz Gavali and the Swinging Arm
  • Captain Quinoa Garvy and the Red Hook
  • Captain Brinker Kinlee and the Toothless Skull

And that is where we will begin our next adventure.

Lost street sign gains purpose

Traveling through the desert, one only has to look out your window to find items clobbered and freed by high winds and storms. I found a speed limit sign with not one… But two creases and a cut in it in my father’s reclaimed pile. Ironically, it measured 15mph. A thousand miles away, I regularly bike 15mph. The wind that stole the aluminum off this post was much closer to 60 mph, or the sign was in a flash flood area. Whole railroad ties and telephone poles, and abandoned cabins are victims of flash floods in the mojave desert. 

This lonely piece of metal fpund new purpose by becoming the bracket to guide my parents fence gate wheel. I earnestly hope this is the last time I have to fix it.
I think I measured it three times and cut twice 

Or… 

Did I measure the piece three times and cut twice? 

This thickness of aluminum is still quite brittle, and I had to deal with a tear. I folded part of the tear into a corner. I don’t actually know how long it might last, but if Im lucky, I won’t have to fix it for at least five years. 

Faroth: Upcoming Games

Here are updates on the game calendar:

  • April 1: no game. Reynolds family unavailable.
  • April 8: normal game. Jesse Pickard will return!
  • April 15: normal game
  • April 22: normal game
  • April 29: normal game
  • May 6: no game. Consider attending LinuxFest Northwest! That’s where most of the Reynolds family will be.
  • May 13 normal game
  • May 20 normal game
  • May 27 normal game

Groovy on JDK9 #unhappy

Getting compiled with jdk9.

Tried using javapackager. No difference in error.

Java invocation:

.\jre\bin\java.exe -Xmx512m ^
 -DsuppressSwingDropSupport=true -Djava.net.preferIPv4Stack=true ^
 -Dawt.useSystemAAFontSettings=lcd -Dswing.aatext=true ^
 -XX:+HeapDumpOnOutOfMemoryError -XX:+PrintClassHistogram ^
 "-XX:ErrorFile=%USERPROFILE%\java_err.txt" "-XX:HeapDumpPath=%USERPROFILE%" ^
 --add-modules java.base,java.xml,java.xml.bind,java.desktop,java.compiler -cp lfclient.jar;commons-lang3-3.2.jar;glazedlists_java15-1.9.0.jar;jfreechart-fse-1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar;jmathplot.jar;jmathio.jar;miglayout-4.0-swing.jar;groovy.jar;groovy-swing.jar;.\ ^
 candela.lanforge.lfclient

Am wondering if there is like something similar to the ‘tools.jar’ that I should be preparing. All of the errors below appear to be from things missing in the java environment.

Loading plugins...
java.lang.ExceptionInInitializerError
        at java.base/jdk.internal.reflect.NativeConstructorAccessorImpl.newInstance0(Native Method)
        at java.base/jdk.internal.reflect.NativeConstructorAccessorImpl.newInstance(Unknown Source)
        at java.base/jdk.internal.reflect.DelegatingConstructorAccessorImpl.newInstance(Unknown Source)
        at java.base/java.lang.reflect.Constructor.newInstance(Unknown Source)
        at candela.lanforge.GroovyScriptFrame.register(GroovyScriptFrame.java:347)
        at candela.lanforge.GroovyScriptFrame.registerBuiltinPlugins(GroovyScriptFrame.java:225)
        at candela.lanforge.LANforgeMgr$1.run(LANforgeMgr.java:1675)
Caused by: groovy.lang.MissingMethodException: No signature of method: static java.util.regex.Pattern.compile() is applicable for argument types: (java.lang.String) values: [--lfver (\d+\.\d+\.
\d+)]
        at groovy.lang.MetaClassImpl.invokeStaticMissingMethod(MetaClassImpl.java:1503)
        at groovy.lang.MetaClassImpl.invokeStaticMethod(MetaClassImpl.java:1489)
        at org.codehaus.groovy.runtime.callsite.StaticMetaClassSite.call(StaticMetaClassSite.java:53)
        at org.codehaus.groovy.runtime.callsite.CallSiteArray.defaultCall(CallSiteArray.java:48)
        at org.codehaus.groovy.runtime.callsite.AbstractCallSite.call(AbstractCallSite.java:113)
        at org.codehaus.groovy.runtime.callsite.AbstractCallSite.call(AbstractCallSite.java:125)
        at candela.lanforge.GroovyCheckUpdates.(script14907583229861182367337.groovy:40)
        ... 7 more
1490758323: Free-mem: 146093224 totalMemory: 268435456 maxMemory: 1073741824 mem-space-left: 951399592
java.lang.reflect.InvocationTargetException
        at java.base/jdk.internal.reflect.NativeConstructorAccessorImpl.newInstance0(Native Method)
        at java.base/jdk.internal.reflect.NativeConstructorAccessorImpl.newInstance(Unknown Source)
        at java.base/jdk.internal.reflect.DelegatingConstructorAccessorImpl.newInstance(Unknown Source)
        at java.base/java.lang.reflect.Constructor.newInstance(Unknown Source)
        at candela.lanforge.GroovyScriptFrame.register(GroovyScriptFrame.java:347)
        at candela.lanforge.GroovyScriptFrame.registerBuiltinPlugins(GroovyScriptFrame.java:225)
        at candela.lanforge.LANforgeMgr$1.run(LANforgeMgr.java:1675)
Caused by: groovy.lang.MissingMethodException: No signature of method: java.lang.String.equalsIgnoreCase() is applicable for argument types: (java.lang.String) values: [gainspeed]
        at org.codehaus.groovy.runtime.ScriptBytecodeAdapter.unwrap(ScriptBytecodeAdapter.java:58)
        at org.codehaus.groovy.runtime.callsite.PojoMetaClassSite.call(PojoMetaClassSite.java:49)
        at org.codehaus.groovy.runtime.callsite.CallSiteArray.defaultCall(CallSiteArray.java:48)
        at org.codehaus.groovy.runtime.callsite.AbstractCallSite.call(AbstractCallSite.java:113)
        at org.codehaus.groovy.runtime.callsite.AbstractCallSite.call(AbstractCallSite.java:125)
        at candela.lanforge.GroovyPortMonitor.(script14907583237002070177117.groovy:35)
        ... 7 more

Faroth: some brief updates

The Singing Dragon Scales have been arrested, imprisoned, and escaped to South Faroth. The Ukulele Sword Band met them on the island. These stories have been getting written up and need a bit of editing.

We have a new player, Rhys. He’s going to play a Sea Elf ranger, a former constable of Sing’jar, who was investigating the strange trade patterns between the wood elves, the orcs and the Faroth forge dwarves. Dirty trade is happening, and the city suffered because of it. Now he’s continuing his investigation on South Faroth.

Also, our characters have been gaining experience:

Faroth_XP_2017-03-27

Faroth: Jail Birds in the Mansion 

Liam (DM) : Lothric; Dillon: Lord Baron Ultrapoor; Jesse: Grotto; Sunny: Zendra; Brendan: Laminon

The group awakens
and begins walking along the road towards the ruins. In the distance they see riders heading their way. Lord Baron leads the sprint towards the ruins. Lothric picks up Grotto and Laminon and breaks into a lop . Zendra is left to fend for her self, but she is running fast. Breathing hard, the group makes it safely to the ruins. The other members of the Singing Dragon scales met them in the coliseum.

Bildur tells his story. He was simply trying to get help at the mansion to save the citizens from the monsters. He was taken hostage after engaging in a fight, (he feels unjustly)and tied up. The group is so tired they take a long rest.

Upon awakening, the group hears hoof beats in the coliseum outside the Library. A single rider approaches.

“A Message! A Message” one of the town guards shouts from the coliseum. Lifting pictures of each of the group in turn, the guard declares that they are wanted for arson, murder, and freeing a prisoner. All the people start staring at the group. The group retreats to a small room in the back of the ruined library. They hear a knock on the door…

But the door is mostly splinters and is shoved open without effort. “What are we going to say we’re asked if we actually did the things we are accused of?” They all fumble about with a sad story. Then…sad silence: “We need to get a better story.”

The group decides to go find Bildur. They meet up with a band of rangers and are told that Bildur just left to go to the beach. They asked the rangers if the guards of the mansion are malevolent and get a noncommittal answer. The rangers also requests that they do not tell anyone what they said.

The group decides to go into the town. They run afoul the townspeople when Zendra ties to pick someone’s pockets…in the middle of the street in broad daylight. The mark spun around on her and immediately recognized Zentra from the recent news from the town guard. “GAURD!” the woman yells. Lothrick palm-faces in frustration. Lord Baron puts on the ring, becomes invisible and makes a run for it, escaping to the ruins. Laminon glances around for any route or exit. There is nowhere to go.

Gaurdsmen talking to Dovetail the carpenter right next door race out to the street and brandish their swords. The group is arrested for resisting arrest, murder, arson. The group protests and are told that refugees have no rights. Grotto cries “revolution” and he is struck down by a guard. The group is bound at the wrists and to a chain. The captured group is are led away to the Mansion. They do not enter the front door, they are taken around the back to a sunken stairway and marched down into dungeon. Lothric and Zendra go into one cell and Grotto and Laminon are placed in another cell.

They sit in their cells, cursing Zendra. Zendra curses Laminon for not being a bigger better fighter. They quiet down when they hard a scraching at an overhead cell window. They smell Lord Baron Ultrapoor. He passes his ring down to the prisoners imploring “keep it secret, keep it safe…”

Ultrapoor, now visible, turns the corner and bumps directly into the Captain of the Gaurd who is on him like a hawk. Grabbing him by the scruff of the neck, he spins the Baron right around and marches him into the dungeon, complaining about the stench.

The Door opens and in walks Lord Baron, escorted by some shamed guards just roundly cursed by the Captain. They shove him into the cell. Grotto casts a spell of silent image and Laminon casts mage-hand to steal the keys. Grotto pulls out his magic missile and shoots the guard in his chest and shoulder, making him very mad. The guard stabs at Grotto with his short sword. Grotto falters, losing half his health. The already irritated gaurd shouts and berates Grotto, “stupid little punk!” The second guard comes back down the stair with a crossbow and keeps it aimed into the cell as a warning. The group’s spirit falters and they sit in silence.

The following morning the group lead out of their cells, one at a time, and their hands are bound back on the prisoner chain. They are led up an interior stairway out of the dungeon and up a second flight of stairs into Ships Hall, the city hall chambers. Four gaurds stand above them with spears pointed down at the group, each above a corner of the gaoler’s pit: a sunken, gaurd-railed section near the right side of the room tucked beneath the bottom of the mayor’s transom.

Upon the transom, the Mayor, a tall, pale man with pronounced cheek bones and a skinny chin, small glasses and very short gray hair, stares down at them in disgust. “This lot…” He grumbles and waives his hand to proceed. The bailif loudly declares the charges. The captain of the guard affirms them. “And I cought one who was trying to escape, too!” The mansion guards involved in the incident at the burned guard house above the hidden prison entrance tell a story of being attacked. The town gaurds tell their story about capturing Zendra and the wife of the baker affirms it from the audience.

The “Sunken Dragon Scales” attempt to refute the charges. “We can show you the entrance to the prison! It’s not legal! We didn’t burn the house down, we were just trying to get back to town.” The Mayor motions to the Captian of the Guard to come forward. “Baidur, these people sound earnest. We will take two horses and a guard will take…that one, in chains, with him and myself to inspect those ruins. We shall return within the hour. The Mayor pointed at Laminon, who was sized by the gaurds, released from the chain and lifted out of the group.

The mayor leaves to retrace the path that Laminon describes and they arrive to see the evidence at the ruins. When they try to follow the path they took originally. When they arrive at the charred house remains there is no opening in the basement floor when they scrape the ashes away. “Losing a house is losing a large fortune in wood on this island. No native of Faroth would ever let this happen.” They mayor acts unconvinced of the groups story and they ride back quickly, in silence.

Marching back into Ship Hall, the mayor shouts, “Baliff! Proceed with sentancing! These people are time-wasting trouble-making criminals and I won’t have them set free by any means.” Lord Baron and Zendra are sentenced of 8 years hard labor in the iron mines. Grotto, Laminon and Lotheric are sentenced to execution. Stunned silence for a second. Then one of the towns people, probably the baker, mutters “good riddance!”

Back they went, and were all packed into one cell. The guard sits at the end of the stairway for a few minutes, then gets up to stretch, and then just leaves. Laminon casts mage-hand again and pulls their equipment bit by bit across the floor into their own cell. While this is happening, Grotto stands on Lotheric’s shoulders to pry a stone free with a dagger. By midnight, with a wrecked spoon of a dagger, a stone is quietly lowered to the floor, used as a step stool and the party squeezes out of the window.

They sneak out of the shrub ring and then, under the over of the trees scramble down the bluff to avoid being seen on the road. The docks are quiet, but out of the harbor-master’s office, a sea elf steps forward, calling good night to the harbormaster. It is Mon’Eu-lon, who Lotheric met two days before in the Axe and Sparrow. Mon’Eu-lon agrees to take them to South Faroth.

Shouts are heard from up in the town. “All aboard!” Mon whispers and points to his ship. The wind picks up and the clouds release hail. The Freezing Dragon Scales shiver on the deck for two hours while Mon and his first mate tack south to Bibbon bay. Arriving at the island the group breathes a sigh of relief and the hail ebbs as they tie up to the dock at Bibbon. What new adventures await them now?

Faroth: Exploring the Prison

(Feb 25, Liam reporting.) In the party this session, we had Brendan with his bard, Dillon with his sorcerer, Allan with his paladin, me (Liam) with my fighter and Sunny with her rogue.
They started by deciding that they would like to explore the dwarven mines some more, and entered through the large pit near the library. It was early morning as they descended into the dark pit, following along a staircase carved into the wall. Every rotation around the pit finished with a small stone landing, each of which had been numbered, the first 1,1, the second 1,2 and so on. Eventually, at landing 1,6 a small tunnel branched off through the wall. Being the adventurers they are, our party ventured into the tunnel, which was very dark, illuminated only by the light of a rock Lammanon (the bard) had cast light on.
The tunnel had somewhat smooth, carved walls, but the further they travelled from the entrance, the more ragged their surroundings became, eventually seeming like a natural tunnel, albeit without any protrusions from the ceiling or floor. As they marched, they began to notice a slight sheen on the rocks, and the faint sound of water dripping from the ceiling.
After travelling about a quarter mile, they came to a fork. The path on the right led slightly upwards, while the path on the left led steeply down. After some discussion, they began to venture down the left path, in which the faint amount of water began to increase slightly. Feeling paranoid, Baron Ultrapoor (Dillon’s sorcerer) donned his ring, said to render him invisible while in the shadows. After heading on for a while, the party began to notice and incredible stench, like that of rotting meat. They quickened their pace, and eventually reached another fork. To the left, they observed a faint, yellowish light, similar to that of fire, and to the right there was a small amount of white light, shining on a stone wall.
Ultrapoor, being invisible, went to scout out the path to the left, while Lammanon and Lothric (my fighter) checked out the wall. The Baron found himself at the edge of a wall, and below him, a huge throne room, lined with statues of dwarves wielding lit torches, with one statue fallen onto the floor, smashed. Lammanon and Lothric, after walking a couple yards to the light source, found a wall, doused in faint natural light from above, and on it a metal ladder, with many of its rungs missing or rusted.
They all met back at the fork, and Lammanon and Lothric recognized the throne room as the one they had ventured through several days ago, so with seemingly no other options, our party headed over to the ladder.
Sunny’s character, being the most dexterous, began to climb the ladder, carrying Lammanon’s rope. After making it up almost forty feet, she placed her foot down on a rusty bar, and it collapsed. She screamed as she fell down, just barely being caught by Lothric. Embarrassed, and still a little winded, she rested for a few moments, and began to climb again. This time she managed to climb all the way up about seventy feet, at which there was a hallway in the otherwise solid wall. She pulled herself into the hall, and tied the rope to the nearest rung, significantly shortening the climb for the rest of the party.
After they were all up in the hall, they began to trudge on, with Lothric plugging his nose due to the stench of rotten meat, and everyone else but Baron Ultrapoor looking somewhat disgusted. As they walked, they noticed that there was no noticeable water in this tunnel, and is was almost ten feet wide, allowing for them to walk side-by-side comfortably, but none of them noticed the high, dark ceiling. Led by the invisible Baron Ultrapoor, and Gragor (Allan’s Paladin), wielding the illuminated stone, they continued along, and they began to smell that disgusting scent, albeit ten times stronger.
Suddenly, in front of them charged two re-animated, zombie dwarves, wielding large pickaxes, their flesh so decayed it was hardly distinguishable from the shaft of their picks. Everyone quickly drew their weapons as the zombies were rather slow and were almost ten feet in front of them. As they brandished their swords, Gragor felt the whistle of movement on his back, and Lammanon, Lothric, and he turned around to face a large corpse, brandishing an axe seemingly grafted to its arm.
Combat ensued, with the Baron being particularly targeted, despite his invisibility, and both he and Gragor were temporarily downed, before a combination of acid, arrows, and a great sword eventually defeated the undead!
The Baron and Gragor were rallied, and returned to life. As they continued along the passage, it sloped down, and eventually they discovered a staircase, and much more water trickling across the floor. They travelled down, and came across a bolted door, and much more water, almost half an inch deep, on the floor. Sunny’s character, with her lock picking expertise, managed to open it, after almost half an hour of trying, and they used a broken slab of stone from the stairs to prop the door open so the it would remain ajar.
Through the door, they entered what appeared to be an ancient prison, with cell upon cell, many with ripped bars and knocked down doors, others with corpses…now skeletons, if not dust. In some places, there were alcoves in which sat stacks of human sized canvas bags, faintly stained, and disgusting. By now, the party had linked the terrible smell they had noticed earlier back to Dillon’s ring, and he took it off, removing the stench. On the ceiling of the hallway, they saw what appeared to be large birdcages hung from chains, some with limbs hanging out, others with bones below them.

After about twenty minutes of walking, and listening to nothing but the splashing of water falling from the ceiling, and their own footsteps. In front of them, they began to see what appeared to be a kneeling human, cradling a glowing object. They tried to communicate with it, but it only responded in short one or two word sentences, such as “I am feeding.” The Baron donned his ring, but sensing the stench, the creature swatted him away, nearly killing him.

A battle ensued, and multiple characters were downed, but in the end the creature was killed, and when it was, it disguise melted away, revealing its true identity, a sea hag. They carefully used mage hand to pick up the previously glowing object, which was now just a ruby.

To be continued. . .

Faroth: Mandolin Sword Band brings home the bacon!

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.”

 

 

 

 

####