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Party 1

TemplePhantom

New Member
Tegan grips the woman's arm for balance and thanks her as he steps backwards. His eyes remain fixed on the embers in the pit while his mind analyzes the flood of newly reacquired knowledge. "A gemstone, I need a gem." he thinks to himself.

"Beg pardon Ma'am, but it seems we've been gone quite some time. Might you point us in the direction of the Bluewater?"
 
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jfish

Junior Member
Ina nods to the man who gave her the new bill, reading over the contents and frowning slightly, passing it to Moire with a look.

"Wouldn't miss it," She turns and smiles to the strangers, looking them over for any signs of suspicion or recognition in their faces. As Tegan speaks, she nods, casually reaching out to hold his elbow in an attempt to ground him, a look of concern crossing her features. "Indeed, it seems we've been away longer than expected. Shame we missed the jamboree."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
"Bluewater's where it's always been: middle of town, north side of the Svalich road as it passes through. Just look for the waterfall sign."
 

jfish

Junior Member
"Thanks, we'd better go and find rest. May fortune watch over you," Ina replies, real concern in her voice. Despite the apparent harshness of this land, the few people they'd met had been...kind, of a sorts. More accepting of strangers than they had any need to be, anyway. She begins to lead Tegan by the arm towards the gate.

"We really must find somewhere to rest, you've been out of sorts twice today now," She says in a low voice, her brow furrowed.
 

TemplePhantom

New Member
"A good long rest and a bath would do wonders. However, not all my visions have been equally exhausting."

Tegan says an incantation in a low voice and folds his hands, when he opens them, he presents Ina with a tulip bloom, surrounded by gold leaves.

"Don't get attached, beauty is fleeting." he cautions his companion.
 
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ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Hircus stares at his feet as they slowly sink into the muck. Lifting one foot then the other then back to the first again. "I would much rather be standing on the ale-soaked floor of a tavern than sinking into slop and filth. Let's find this Bluewater place and see if a trade is going to happen or all of your hard work is going to go up in smoke."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
As you turn in the direction of the gate, the guard bids you farewell with the monotone phrase, "Until the Morninglord returns."

Those are indeed severed wolves' heads on the spikes outside the gate, a half-dozen of them in different stages of decay, none more than a few days old. Two guards, a man and a woman dressed in the same red and yellow livery you just saw at the fire, stand on the other side of the gate. They hold long pikes that could easily prick at someone through the iron bars.

The road you've been traveling continues through the closed gate ahead, accruing one and two-story houses as it goes. A church steeple pokes up a block or two behind them. Beyond that, more rooftops and the occasional tree. There's very little activity in the main street—some people are unloading a donkey-drawn cart in front of one house; others congregate on the stoop of another home. From this scant sampling of Vallaki, Ina and Tegan feel they have a pretty good measure of the place: certainly larger than a hamlet, but small enough that you could walk all its streets in an afternoon with no chance of getting lost along the way.

The pike-wielding guards examine you with the same degree of sang-froid you were met with at the firepit. "Welcome to Vallaki on the sunset side," mutters the male guard as he slides half of the gate noisily aside on a track. "All will be well." It appears you are free to enter.
 

jfish

Junior Member
Ina coos over the flower from Tegan, twirling it so it catches the fire light. She lets out a small, surprised laugh as it vanishes and looks to him, her eyes twinkling with a mixture of amusement and curiosity.

"Well that's...new?" She hedges and let's put a dramatic sigh,"Here I thought my message trick was fun, and now I'm travelling with you three who know real magic - and a shape-shifter!"

She laughs again, shaking her head as they approach the gate. She smiles and nods to the gatekeeper, returning his acknowledgement, and strides through the gate with the promise of rest guiding her.
 

Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
Agreeably, Moire returns the departing wish of those people with "Until the Morninglord comes."

She makes the trip to Vallaki in relative silence, tired from the long day. Besides, it's nice to listen to her friends. Despite her sense of knowing them, Moire has found actually remembering their specific adventures together difficult, so paying attention to their banter now is a way of rediscovering them, learning anew what made them all friends.

Upon being greeted by the guards, Moire comes to a stop and gratefully eases the burden of carrying wolf off her shoulders, with the side benefit of displaying the body for the guards to see. "All will be well," she returns in a friendly way. "We haven't missed the Baron's festival yet, I hope?"

Accepting any answer she's given, Moire once more hefts the wolf body and proceeds into the town proper with her companions. With the streets so lightly populated, she's conscious of how much the four of them stand out. So anyone looking her way, she meets with good eye contact and a friendly smile. This party of adventurers has nothing to hide.
 
Chapter 2

Baba Luga

Vestige
CHAPTER 2: ALL WILL BE WELL

The guard who moved the gate aside for you informs Moire that the Festival of the Blazing Sun will take place tomorrow evening. "The parade starts at St. Andral's," he advises, pointing to the nearby church spire. He hands Moire a rolled-up Festival of the Blazing Sun flyer from a leather case at his hip.

With the way open before you, and the promise of rest and whatever safety the palisade offers, you can finally exhale. The Bluewater Inn can't be far—good news for Moire and Tegan, whose necks and shoulders are growing stiff from carrying the wolves. There's probably still an hour or two of daylight left, but, glancing in your direction, the people on the stoop take their business inside, and those tending the cart lead the donkey around the corner, giving you free run of the street.

Vandwandir crawls out of Moire's pack to rest himself, unseen at the back of her neck. His wings brush against loose strands of her hair and a tiny claw grips her earlobe, into which he whispers, "Did I hear we're going to the inn with the waterfall? If you're worried about the gifts from Stump Slab, Hairy Golem and my old master being recognized, that's one place we should definitely avoid, especially if the ones I call 'Deadbeat Gargoyle' and 'Cold Memory' are still there. In perhaps the strangest of all this land's insults to natural law, the latter was an especial admirer of the Golem."

"If I may suggest, a more discrete course would be to continue to the far end of town. There are merchants just inside the gate there with whom Stump Slab traded goods before. My assessment is that even if they recognize your inherited possessions, they won't care one whit. I wager they'll give you something for these beasts—do we really have time to track down a couple of chiseling hunters? After that, we find a convenient house for you to spend the night in. Based on the paucity of locals, I wager at least half of these hovels are abandoned. In the morning we can be off to petition the lord of this land at his castle, which can't be more than a half-day's easy hike from here."
 
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TemplePhantom

New Member
Tegan notes at the sudden emptiness of the street. "They may not be an openly hostile people, but they sure aren't friendly."
 
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Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
"No, they're not," Moire says, quietly agreeing with Tegan even as she maintains that friendly smile should she catch someone's attention. "I would usually guess they're wary of strangers or have had some bad experiences with them, only the guards didn't give us any sign of that. Something else is going on here." The Paladin takes a deep breath, holds it a second as she thinks, and finally continues. "If they're in trouble, I'd like to help. But we're barely standing. We're of no good to anyone without rest at least. And there's a lot more we can do once we're reprovisioned and rearmed. Either way, I have the impression that getting off the streets before night is the wisest course."

The dark-haired woman stretches her shoulders once more, shifting the heavy corpse around once more. At which point she cranes her neck and leans in a little to listen to the familiar. At this point, having a talking bat-this-time gripping her ear and talking is the least alarming aspect of her current life. There's a part of her that wishes Vandwandir didn't make as much sense as he did. Certainly, the other Paladin-trainees she'd learned with, and to a degree even her teachers, might have questioned any proposal to cover up something like looted goods. It was easy for the holy to move immediately to avoiding even the perception of impropriety.

But Moire had been a pirate. She was well used to the difficulty such recognition could bring. And bringing attention to their existing inventory, even by explaining why they had it, was more likely to cause trouble than solve trouble at this point. If questioned, she could always explain herself as truthfully as any Paladin. But in the meantime...

"Good advice, my friend," she says to Vandwandir. To the rest of the party, Moire spoke up. "Our newest ally suggests we try some merchants on the other side of this small town. They'll likely compensate us, perhaps as well as the hunters. More importantly, we'll avoid a tavern that his former allies used to frequent, if you catch my meaning. Once we offload these beasts, we can look at finding a place to sleep for the night. If the tavern runs the risk of us being recognized, there may be lodging with the locals we can find instead. Especially if one of these houses is..." Moire sighs but dutifully finishes her sentence. "Empty."

A Paladin didn't steal, even if it was only a place to sleep. But if some disaster had befallen this place, well, Ilmater had no issue with His holy using what belonged to the dead. Whether that was the handaxe at her belt or a home without an owner. If there was any obligation to settle, she could always settle it with the lord of the land, if the party set off for him tomorrow.

That last bit she kept to herself for now. There was something to be said for talking to the locals and learning about the lord before approaching him. Besides, this festival was clearly important and an easy half-day hike there and back would likely cause them to miss it. And missing this Baron's festival could be unwise, judging by the advertisement.

For that matter, he could very well be coming here tomorrow.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
As you follow the "Old Svalich" road deeper into Vallaki, you continue to pass the human occupants, on their own or in small groups. Most head off down side streets or look at you with blank, numbed expressions. Only one or two of the locals regard you with keen, active interest. The smaller lanes that now extend for blocks on either side of the main boulevard appear to hold more activity than this broad open stretch. After a few blocks you pass the church. A group of about ten men, women and children are huddled in front of its doors—the largest gathering you've seen here so far.

Familiar handbills dot the houses along your way—worn and tattered ones for the Wolf Jamboree and fresh ones for the upcoming Festival of the Sun.

It's another ten blocks on the winding Svalich Road before you see the long two-story building with two smoking chimneys and a painted waterfall sign hanging from its eaves. A couple of glum looking women sit smoking pipes on the porch that runs the length of the Bluewater Inn. The sounds of subdued conversation can be heard through the closed door and covered windows.
 

TemplePhantom

New Member
Tegan pulls the wooden shield off of his arm, quickly admiring the wolf on the surface before turning to Hircus. "You know, if you're willing to hold onto this shield, Hircus, Ina and I might be able to visit the tavern without raising suspicion. Plus, we run the advantage of at least one of us getting the best deal for a wolf if I sell this one at the tavern and you follow Vanwandir's advice."

"I also think ale-loosened lips may divulge more information about tomorrow's festival. If all are agreed, shall we meet back here in an hour?"
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Hircus eyes Tegan with a skeptical squint. "I am not sure that this place is the sanctuary we had hoped it would be. Sure, folks seem tolerant, but there is a kind of weight to the air here that I just can't put my finger on. If you think splitting us up is a good plan then I will trust you. I can tell you a hundred tales of the battlefield that proved this tactic to be the wrong tactic." He sighs and runs a muddy hand across his pinched brow. "Aye, get on with it then, but drain an ale for your friend here, yeah? I've been dreaming of it since the midday and it seems that I will be waiting until another day to enjoy one myself."

Hircus accepts the shield and other items from Tegan but is forced to hand off a few of his own things to Ina to lighten his load. "Now, we need to decide on a meeting place and a time. If one pair doesn't make it to the rendezvous then the other can come to seek them out."
 

TemplePhantom

New Member
Tegan looks at Hircus skeptically. He is so at ease in this environment that he fails to see the value of the experience behind Hircus' words.

"I'm sure you'll be fine. If my count is right, you two make up the most formidable members of our group. Plus, I'm now one of tho-" Tegan chokes back a sneeze "thos-" he arcs back his head, making a foolish display "THOSE-" as Tegan releases the sneeze, he utters the incantation for Prestidigitation and a shower of sparks fly out of his nose.

Wiping his face on his sleeve, he smiles at Hircus and says "Magical types. Shall we meet at the church in an hour, then?"
 

Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
"Agreed," Moire says, smiling at the other warrior's magical display. Her smile slipped slightly as she realized it hadn't surprised her, even though she hadn't seen him use magic until now. Because they'd traveled together for a while, of course, and they were well familiar with each other's capabilities, surely. Except you can't remember how you met or what you've done together.

Annoyed with the insistent distraction of memories that don't make sense, and seeing this as not the venue to make sense of them, Moire hefts the wolf corpse again and tips her head to Hircus. "Let's get this done with. If we wrap our business soon enough, there may be ale waiting for us tonight!"

She sets off for the far end of town.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
Moire and Hircus continue east on the Old Svalich Road, leaving Tegan and Ina to investigate the Bluewater Inn. From his hiding place between Moire's backpack and hair, Vanwandir mutters, "Oh well, it was nice knowing those two, but we may as well give them up for lost. Half an hour in there and they'll be talking about how we have to find some farmer's missing pig, gather ingredients for a mince pie or escort a jester to a fairground two towns away. The place is a veritable breeding ground for Hairy Golem adventures. But we three will carry on as we must: Loopanom, Noolabax and Vanwandir."

Not far past the inn, a secondary road cuts north to south across the Old Svalich. This seems likely to be the center of town—an open square is visible about a block to the south where people gather around a statue. There's also some kind of building in progress in the square.

Ten blocks on and the palisade comes into view again. It's the eastern gate. You've walked the length of Vallaki. To the right of the road a large sign reading "Arasek Stockyard" hangs over the entrance of a broad dirt lot ringed with long, low buildings. Some of these have signs whose shapes might give account of what goes on within—a wheel, a sword, a coffin. A large covered wagon, painted green, peeks out from where it's parked between two buildings at the far end of the lot.

Only one building seems in any way open or inviting. Through it's wide doorway you can see a broad-shouldered, middle-aged man at a counter, absent-mindedly chewing his lip. Shelves full of assorted items stretch out behind him, where a woman in a smock with many pockets and a bearded man with a heavy brow appear to be reviewing the available goods together.

The man at the counter sees you passing by and beckons with his hand. "Come in, come in. Yes, we are open. How can I help?"
Passing the two women on the porch, Ina and Tegan open the front door of the Bluewater Inn and find themselves facing nine or ten men and women standing with glasses in hand. One of them, her white-streaked black hair tied up in a bun, has her glass raised, and was just saying something as you entered. Despite the fact that you seem to have interrupted her toast, she looks at you with only mild surprise and no sign of irritation.

rictavio.jpgireena.jpgAll eyes are on you for a prolonged moment, until a balding, bespectacled man with faintly-elven features speaks from where he stands by the roaring fireplace. "Ah, look my friends, we have visitors fresh from last week, when wolves were still in fashion!" He stomps his foot three times. "Now bring us the fiery orb! The sun! We demand the sun!" A young auburn-haired woman in a high-collared dress who stands next to him smiles wryly and rolls her eyes at the jest. There is something about this woman's bearing that reminds Ina of the social graces her parents often struggled to impress upon her.

"Come in, join us!" continues the man with spectacles. "Our gracious hosts are serving out the last of the 839 Bloodhawk. A momentous occasion, this. An excellent vintage and the final barrel of wine in Vallaki!"

A dark-haired boy of eleven or twelve approaches you. He wears a serving apron a couple of sizes too long for him and carries a tray with glasses or red wine.
 
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TemplePhantom

New Member
Tegan Takes a glass from the serving boy's tray, gives him a wink as if to say "thank you" before raising it to his lips. Enthralled by the promise of intoxication after the day's events, he takes a sip without so much as a second thought before noticing all the eyes on him, eyes with glasses still full.

Tegan blushes and draws his lips into a curt smile before swallowing the wine in his mouth and awkwardly taking another glass, passing it to Ina before raising his own glass to the toast at hand.
 
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Baba Luga

Vestige
Ina & Tegan
Bluewater Inn


danika.jpgWith wine in Ina and Tegan's hands, the woman with the white stripe in her hair raises her glass to resume her toast. "And so, in conclusion, to all good friends, all good drinking friends, and companions, and lovers. Yes, lovers—you heard me right, Orban!" She cranes her neck to address the back corner, where more people sit at tables. There's low laughter in reply.

"And to this fine wine, which, despite my father-in-law who makes it being a grizzled old crow, we are happy to drink with you. May it's memory lift your spirits until the next shipment comes. Down the hatch. Everybody drink!"

The people around you voice their assent and drink. The wine is quite good. Ina and Tegan have both had far better in the past, and there's a fair amount of sediment, but for tonight, it will do.

szoldar.jpgThe toast over, conversations pick up around the room. The woman who made the toast is over by the fire, talking to the man with spectacles. The two of them look over in your direction from time to time. When you notice her watching she smiles.

The younger, auburn-haired woman stands alone, looking up at the high ceiling as she sips her wine. She paces in a small circuit, as if practicing the steps of a dance.

A big, shaggy man whose thick beard covers half of his face sets his empty glass on the bar and lumbers over to you. Without introduction, he points at the dead wolf and says, "Not a bad specimen. Did you kill it?" He leans in close to inspect the animal, sniffing and probing its coat.
 
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ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Hircus responds to the man's beckoning with a big smile and a wave. He enters the building with a pace of a man eager to end his errand quickly. Gesturing to Moire, "We are looking to unload this here wolf in exchange for some coin." He holds his hands up toward the shopkeep. "I know, I know, we have missed the wolf jamboree thing and the smokehouses are likely packed with wolf meat, but we have one nonetheless. I think you can see it's a solid beast with good meat. Will you take it or must we find another?" Hircus leans on the counter with both hands and smiles.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
Moire & Hircus
Arasek Stockyard
The man at the counter looks the wolf over and bites his lip. He glances back at the woman helping the man with the beard, exhales through his nose, then turns back to you and says, "Three barovs; five in trade." He points at the shelves that are piled deep with sundry gear. It's really more of a rummage sale than a proper outfitter. You see ropes, tools, lumber, crates, lanterns, cooking pots, a stack of warped books, curios of no particular classification. Who knows what's buried back there?

Only some of the goods have prices, written on slips of paper nailed to the shelves. Based on a few examples you can see, it looks like a barov is roughly one-fifth of a gold piece and a ghakis is the equivalent of a silver piece.

The customer with the beard and heavy brow is going through a big bin of nails, sorting them into separate piles as he talks to the saleswoman. She looks over at the counterman with a pained expression and then apparently notices Hircus and Moire for the first time. Her eyes widen at the sight of the wolf, and she opens her mouth to say something, but the bearded customer has started to pull a heavy-looking metal bar from a high shelf and she scrambles to stop him before he brings a torrent of bric-a-brac down on the two of them.
 
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Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
Moire nods to Hircus and considers the offer. Then, after glancing over the supplies on the shelves, the Paladin sees the imminent collapse of the shelf and calls out "Hold it there, sir!" If he completes his motion, she intends to move to prevent it, only to be too burdened by the heavy wolf corpse. With an apologetic smile to the storekeep, she shrugs the wolf to the floor and steps up to help the woman and the customer to get clear of the scattered sundry items. She swiftly collects them into small piles before helping to remount the shelf and restack everything.

Only afterwards (if it happens at all) does Moire return to the evident owner of the place and says "Trade will do, if you can also put up four weary travelers for the night or see us accommodated somewhere." Moire somewhat sheepishly gestures to Hircus and herself, both of whom look like they've seen better days. "We'll be off your hands tomorrow, Ilmater's word on it."
 
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Baba Luga

Vestige
Moire & Hircus
Arasek Stockyard
henrik.jpgThe bearded customer looks over his shoulder at the sound of Moire's commanding voice, his arm still extended to grasp the metal bar dangling over him. His expression is one of absolute shock that Moire is speaking to him at all, much less so sternly. What he does not see from where he stands, but Moire and the shopwoman can, is that a large, nasty-looking sickle, which must have been resting on the metal bar, was lifted along with it and is slowly sliding its way down the length of the now-tilted implement. "Shit, Henrik!" the woman exclaims. "Don't move a muscle!" Henrik looks more perplexed still, frozen in place with his arm raised, his eyes fixed on Moire, and the curved blade sliding towards his head with a gentle hissing sound.

The shopwoman deftly kicks a stool over next to him, hops up on it, and catches the handle of the falling sickle just as it leaves the plane of the metal bar. "You damn fool!" she berates the baffled man. "This woman here just saved your life! Now get out of here and go home. We're closed. You can pick up your things in the morning."

Henrik mutters his acceptance of these terms and passes by Moire and Hircus on his way out of the shop. The look he gives them is far from grateful. Resentment at the shame incurred by Moire's intervention has cut him more acutely than any blade.

The woman comes over to Moire, wiping her hands on her smock. "I'm Yelena," she says, extending her hand to grasp Moire's. "I'd normally throw you out of here for bringing that dead dog in so close after the so-called Jamboree, but you saved us some blood and gore here today, even if old Henrik don't realize it. So fine, you can have the credit, and I'll let Gunther here figure out what to do with that mutt." Gunther, the counterman, raises his hands in protestation of his innocence.

"As for where you and these other two you're talking about are gonna bed down,"
she continues, "I'd say Henrik's the one owes you, but I don't suppose you'd like sleeping in coffins tonight, would you?"

"He makes all the coffins, you see," explains Gunther. "For the dead people."

"That's right," says Yelena. "And on behalf of all dead and soon-to-be-dead citizens of Vallaki, yes, you may sleep in one of the storage rooms. Gunther and me won't even ask why you don't just get rooms over at the Bluewater Inn. There'll be no mattresses, but we might find a few blankets about. Just knock next door when you bring your friends around if you're gonna be more than an hour or so getting back here. For now, Gunther can get you whatever you want to buy with the credit for the beast, plus anything else you have to trade with us."

Yelena goes back to the shelf where Henrik nearly lost his head and starts packing up the items he selected. Gunther helps you unload the dead wolf and writes up a five-barov credit slip for you.
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
"These are fair terms, Gunther. May Torm's light shine favorably on you." Hircus says with a raised open palm. He then moves around the room looking over the shelves of goods asking the occasional question and complimenting the two shopkeepers on the quality of their product.

"It seems Vallaki has a lot of festivals this time of year. I heard mention of another one coming up soon. This must be a boon for a business such as yours, no?"
 

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