Thardis Hornhelm is a minotaur fighter. Thardis comes to the caverns in the hope of finding ancient wonders. he also hopes to end the evil of the cult of Ulexnil. Thardis doesn’t hate life above ground but he would rather be underground away from the darkness that plagues his race and hunting the evil dwarves he despises. Thardis fears that a beholder may be influencing the cult of Ulexnil…he would prefer it if it didn’t exist…but if it does, he would be happy to put an end to its vile monstrosity of a life.
The Singing Dragon Scales had just bashed the last bugbear to climb the tower stairs, and they look over to Nillaffin, on the floor, prone and still, breathing painfully. Lothric, Grotto and Lamanon try to lift Nillaffin onto an broken, unhinged door as a stretcher. As tears stream down Nillaffins face and he gasps and cries in pain, they discover how broken he his after being thrown against a wall by the bugbear chieftain: literally a broken back. Unable to move him–Nillaffin, unable to wiggle his fingers or toes, had not long to live. Lothric and Lamanon raced back to Drafter’s ranch. Drafter raced into action and took them right to Tallum Ironspun, the most skilled cleric on the island.
Kevbin did not go adventuring with Nillaffin and the rest of the ‘Scales. He went into town, and started chatting up the local shop keepers, and wound up at Tallum Ironspun’s workshop at the suggestion of Mr McGinty. Tallum opened the door for Kevbin, when Drafter ran up the lane, shouting for Ironspun’s help, crying “Nillaffin’s hurt! Tallum!”
Barron Ultrapoor (Barron Poorrich), Elmore (was Taj, a monk) and Halt (Soren’s character, a ranger) were also at McGinty’s, trying to determine the value of six plates of dried spider carapace, spinnerets and poison glands. McGinty recognized that those components might have value, but none of the residents practiced the kind of magecraft that used those components, so all he said to them was “I don’t know who would buy those, lads. Maybe Ironspun would know.” As they walked out the door, Drafter, Ironspun and Lotheric were all talking loudly about Nillaffin. Elmore and Halt, knowing they can help heal people, volunteered to help.
Back to the coliseum they went, leaving the Barron, Kevbin, and Grotto (who went to the Axe and Sparrow). Across Drafter’s fields and through the ruins they went. At the tower inside the coliseum, Ironspun gathered the group around the helpless body of Nillaffin. They all got out their healing components and all started a prayer to Elhona. But they were not synchronized. Such a diverse group–still mostly strangers–could not truly be in tune. Some gave up faith, some forgot their words, but most strove for his well-being. The blurry sunbeam coming through the tower window slowly slid across the floor as they repeated their prayers.
A gasp! Nillaffin’s chest rose with breath and renewed strength. The group gasped and sighed as he blinked and asked why he was on the floor. He was healed enough to be placed on the door-nee-stretcher and they took him back to Drafter’s ranch.
Elmore, having finished being of service, decided to go back to town–a beer sounded nice. Soon enough, he was sitting next to Kevbin, the Barron and and Grotto. The clouds grew thick and the light quickly waned as afternoon grew late. Snow fell outside, creating short drifts along the street. The door of the Axe and Sparrow quietly yielded a tall, cloaked, dark skinned elf. A step before Antsy Thinbone served them their drinks, this Drow sat at Elmore’s table.
“Hello, Vlonneth. I notice you still have an unpaid tab,” Antsy mumbled as he served drinks to Elmore, Grotto, Kevbin and the Barron. Vlonneth was well dressed. Below his dark wool cloak, he wore black satin robes, sported black onxy loop earrings, and red jasper eyebrow studs. Across his cheeks and forehead were the mild scars of an intricate black tattoo on his dark face. He raised his hands and rubbed a golden ring on his finger…grinning like a card player.
“Greetings, young chaps! Some of you I’ve heard about. Some I’ve heard from a distance.” Grotto and Kevbin immediately took offense and blamed each other for their reputations. “Enough, boys!” Vlonneth interrupted, “I’ve heard about some good battles lately, but I’m interested in those who recently chopped up a giant spider!”
“A giant spider?” thought Kevbin, “why hadn’t I heard of this?” But Vlonneth was eying Elmore and the Barron. Grotto wondered what he was doing there. But the thought of new spell components was interesting. He has a mostly full component bag, but rare components are always worth the time…
“Do you have the goods on you?” asked Vlonneth. “I have a buyer. I’m getting up after I finish my drink, and we’re leaving.” Some muttered conversation bounced between our party for a minute before they agreed to this…suggestion.
Outside, the sunlight had completely fled. Few citizens were in the avenue, and their walk to the marina was nearly silent except for the rising sound of the breeze and the crunching frozen dirt underneath their feet. Paying close attention to not slipping on the frosty dock that lead to Vlonneth’s ship, our party froze as they gazed up at a splintery two-masted frigate decorated with orc bones on the bow. The dark eyes of a minotaur captain meanly surveyed them. His grayed leather vest sported three pairs of daggers. Fog billowed out of his mouth when he ordered them to come aboard and “stay to the foredeck, land worms, or I’ll beat your heads and toss you overboard.”
A dim green glow crossed Vlonneth’s silhouette as he stepped aft, across a brass strip that spanned the beam of the craft. He sat at a lone bench and reached under the table, fetching a black bottle of wine. “Do as Vall says. He’s the captain! You want this deal, don’t you?” Yes, they did. As they filed to the bow, a soft chill filled the threadbare sails and the docking lines threaded themselves back into coils on the unmanned deck. The ship was underway in moment.
Vlonneth was pleased with the group. After a gulp of wine, he asked, “Do you know how Vall pilots this craft? He stands in a cursed magic circle. He dips his hand in a bucket of blood and flicks it in the direction he wishes to go.” Clearly, Vlonneth was quite amused at this disgusting mechanism.
Kevbin and Grotto continued to argue what a bad idea this all was. Ultrapoor couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Elmore continued to say the least of the party. Theu stepped onto a ship of the dead with a friend of a … devil? And evil was filling the sails. The Maligna bore south to Willow Island.
An hour of sailing later, the Maligna pulled into the docks of Willowhall fishery, alongside a the salty-white tin-plated hull of another two-masted frigate. Six orcs with oiled canvas jackets over their black vests and red sashes stood stoically on guard around the captain’s wheel on the poop deck. Behind a table and chest on the fore deck of the tin plated ship, a very tall half orc with a black vestments and a red cape stood expectantly. Kevbin and Grotto immediately blamed each other for bringing them to a trap. How could they have been so stupid?
Vlonneth, having finished his bottle of wine, foolishly waiting for Grotto or Kevbin to shut up, briskly stood and smashed the bottle on his own bench to gain their attention. “Fools!” Vlonneth hissed. “You will now show some respect...and by respect, people expect….silence!”
After some spluttering, Grotto and Kevbin decided to not talk. “Now,” Vlonneth continued, “I shall do the talking. I am the agent. You can only talk to our seller if you have a contract with him.”
“Vlonneth!” the rich voice of the half orc bellowed from the adjacent ship, “come aboard! I haven’t seen you in some time!” Grotto, who looked keenly at Vlonneth the first time they met, looks keenly at the half orc. Whispering to Kevbin, “that’s a priest of Vecna.” This was not a silly trading run at midnight.
A plank was placed between the ships and promptly Kevbin slips off the frosty board and about meets the drink when Elmore and Grotto grab him by the hair and an ear before he splashes in. They quickly look up towards the half orc and smile: “be right there!” Vlonneth bites his fist and looks away.
Kevbin can’t wait, “what do you have in the chest?” While Grotto spouts, “how much are you paying us?” Vlonneth clenches and unclenches his fists and bites his lip while Elmore grabs the chatty pair by the shoulders and pulls them back to the gunwale. “Wait, I have questions!” Kevbin shouts.
A loud guffaw quiets them all. “Vlonneth! What a happy bunch you’ve brought tonight. I haven’t had a smile on my face for months. These young boys must know nearly…nothing!…to be so entertaining!” and grandly gestures with a big grin on his face.
“What do we get paid?” Kevbin demands. “I’m going back” the Barron mumbles. “We’re not young!” challenges Grotto. Vlonneth waits for his turn, then mentions, “This is Priest Asomi.”
Asomi resumes, “What have you brought tonight?” They all chatter at once. Asomi laughs again, and chides them in his low voice, “Oh oh oh, just wait, young fellows! You should let your agent make the deal. Otherwise, you’d have to enter a contract…with me.”
“Asomi, sir, you’ve got some unusual components for sale tonight. Freshly dried spider husk, a mandible, two poison glands and two spinnerets.” Elmore unloads his sack on the table. Asomi unsheaths his dagger and pokes at the guts on his table.
“Fresh, but starting to spoil. Fifty gold pieces…” Asomi mutters.
“We’ll take it!” Kevbin and Grotto shout. Vlonneth’s eyes go round and his knuckles go pale with anger at their idiocy.
“…for it all.” Asomi finishes.
Vlonneth spins on his impetuous marks. “Fools!” he hisses, and calmly rotates back to Asomi. “That was…quick. Sounds like we’ll take it.” he quietly says. Asomi just grins, thinking of a orc mage who would love to buy some spider-shell armor.
Grotto, Kevbin and the others give Vlonneth his split and end up with about twelve gold pieces each. Asomi asks, “and I have some things you might want…” reaching under his table, he brings up a wooden box, and opening the lid, he places three rings on his table. “These either save you from arrows, sword blows, or the sight of others.” Elmore buys a ring immediately.
Kevbin stays behind as the rest of the group re-board the Maligna. “I’m a sage. I know how to make potions and spells and I can help you. Hire me!”
Vlonneth pushed him back and faced him, “You know what you’re asking? You want to be in a contract with this priest? It’s typically for five years.”
“I just want off this dumb island!” Kevbin responded.
Placing his hand on his chin, Vlonneth turned back to Asomi. “You’ve got a smart little human there…rare find, not many of them aren’t intimidated by you. He’s got some craft. He would have been working for that Dwarven cleric on the island today if I hadn’t invited him along.”
“Vlonneth, I haven’t been disappointed in the people you’ve brought me so far. I’ll take him for 2000 and five years.”
“Give him some credit, he’s not even afraid of you, and he argued his way here, 2100 and three years.”
Asomi raised his eyebrow, put his hand in a pouch and handed over a vial of diamonds to Vlonneth that lept into an inside pocket of his vest, vanishing without sign of a bump. “Thank you Kevbin, I hope to see you around.” Vlonneth crosses the plank back onto the minotaur’s ship and promptly fishes out another wine bottle from under his bench as they start sailing north.
Hadreus, sloshed from a fun evening in the Axe and Sparrow, stands silently, swaying slightly, in the snowy pre-dawn breeze as the Maligna’s ropes magically tie them selves to he dock’s cleats. Elmore, Grotto and the Barron debark without trouble and the ship silently leaves. As the group turns to walk up the dock to the town, Hadreus shouts “Boo!” and startles them to bits! And has a good laugh. “Where’s Kevbin?” he asks. “New contract,” they answer, glum for some reason.
“Well, I haven’t see this new camp of Bildur’s. Let’s head over there. This town’s all shut down for the night.” And off they head, getting to the dwarven dell before dawn. The workshop is still warm from the heat of the evening’s fire, and they toss their snowy drenched cloaks atop a blank stretch of workbench.
Grotto pauses, hearing something: claws. “We’re not alone,” he says. Elmore shakes his head, wondering why the day isn’t done yet. The Barron reaches for his spell component pouch. Hadreus opens a window and sees…goblins!
Grotto, out the opposite window, casts magic missles at the nearest one, promptly dispatching it. The Barron opens a door, and casts acid spray, but misses. Hadreus fires his short bow out his window, missing. Elroy leaps out his window and smashes a goblin to the ground with his quarterstaff. The goblins advance, and Grotto dispatches a second goblin with another group of glowing missiles, Hadreus misses, the Baron gets clobbered, and Elroy cracks the neck of the goblin he smashed with his staff. Grotto sends more glowing missles into the goblin that ran across the Baron, finishing him. Hadreus kills one outside, and Elroy clubs the last one down.
What a day: saved a life, did a deal with a devil worshiping scumbag, and killed a pile of ambushing goblins. Life doesn’t let up in Faroth. What will there be next?