Mercian Intrigue

The Adventure Begins

Alton indicates that he is ready to leave immediately. He asks the other about whether the guide seems worthy and adds that he’s like to give him a shot.

“I can agree to that good sir. Thank you for your fairness and understanding. We will do our best to complete the task at hand. Lets grab some of the food and supplies from the barracks for this trek and be on our way.” With that, Nathan extends his hand to shake Sir Belwors and then turns to the others, in particular the guide,

“Well, I assume you know what task we have been sent on since you were no doubt eavesdropping on our conversation. What do you know of our task and the direction we will be taking. Also we will need to be informed on possible situations that might require specific gear, such as swamps, lakes/rivers we will have to cross, mountains, cold, snow, etc. Where are we going and what of its climate and almosphere. How long is our trek, how much food should we bring? Perhaps we should buy a wagon to carry us, our companions and all the hostages we rescue. They are not likely to be well cared for by their kidnappers and I doubt that when we find them they will be willing and able to flee quickly if necessary….in fact the trek back may be twice as long as the one going out? A wagon would speed our departure. We could ditch it when we got close and then come back for it when we t should not regularly be turned down. He also tries to get a few skins worth of water to take with them. Probably cant carry 2 weeks worth but he will take what he can in case drinking water ends up being hard to find.

Alton listens and the nods. “Me thinks a wagon would be most appropriate given the situation. But it honestly depends on how much money its goings to cost us all.” Alton nods and shakes the young guilds hand. “Yous be of use to us then, but i gots to ask, how are you with a sword in case things get a little hairy?”

The young man creases his brow when you ask him about his skill with a sword. “well I don¹t have enough money to pay for no sword. And I never killed anybody if that¹s what you mean. But my father used to teach me how to use a spear and I used to hunt with my old bow and arrow before it was broken. I haven’t ever been in a fight with men before, but I’ve killed plenty of deer and wolves and the like.” He looks at you with questioning eyes as if asking, ‘does that answer your question?’ he may not be a hardened veteran of wars but at least he knows how to handle a weapon. “I know a man on the way out of town who would be willing to rent us a wagon for the trip!” He pipes up, remember the wagon question, “he owes me a favor or two so he might be willing to lend it to us for cheap.”

Nathan nods in agreement and wonders what has the guide’s tongue?! After hearing the response and reaction from his new companions Nathan grabs Jack along with all his belongins and begins to follow the guide towards the edge of town to see if this person can cheaply lend a wagon. Along the way he converses with his companions and double checks to make sure they have everything then need. “luckily jack wont be too burdened on this trip thanks to the wagon! I hope we can afford this. probably should have gotten a loan from the barracks or Belwar himself! Either way this should be a fun trip…” Nathan scratches his head a bit… “does anyone know what our task is again?...i cant seem to remember the task at hand!? Go rescue some captive people right? My mind was kind of wandering during his long talk.”

Kalika is still slightly unsure of exactly what good a guide will do for them since they dont know where they are going… They’re going to have to rely on their own tracking and wilderness skills to find the kidnappers… But if it makes everyone else feel more secure she’d agree that the boy could come along. We do need to get him a weapon though, she thought and turned to the others saying “are there any weapons here that we could borrow that would be suitable for Gabriel to use?” Then she agreed that a wagon would be an excellent idea for transporting the hostages back to town. She didnt know about the others, but being a small elf, she wouldnt be able to carry any human back! Then she picked up her bag and asked Nathan if she could grab more bullets for her sling since she had all that she could carry but maybe Jack could tote some for her. After getting more ammo if Nathan agrees and finding a weapon for Gabriel if there is anything suitable for him, she follows Nathan to go check out the wagon.

Gabriel walks ahead of you down the streets of Freeport. He is almost constantly glancing back at you. You begin to think that he has never seen an adventurer before. Either that or he is worried that he will loose you and then never be paid. The man with the wagon for you runs a small stable close to the western gate of the city and greets Gabriel with a smile and a handshake. “nice to see you again Gabe! what can I do for you?” They speak quietly for a moment with the slightly chubby man looking over Gabriel at you every so often. After a time he pats him on the shoulder and Gabriel returns to you. “he said we could borrow a small wagon from him for as long as we want for only 5 gold. That¹s pretty cheap considering we don¹t know what we will put the equipment through. I told him about your donkey too Mr. Nathan and he said that the wagon is small enough for his to haul. I guess it will only fit the really hurt prisoners but that¹s better than leaving them behind. I had been keeping my things here while I was in the city too so now im ready to go as well.” Indeed, when the wagon is brought around Gabriel appears with a small pack, a bow, and a spear. He looks dashing is a poor woodsman sort of way that only the very young seem to be able to pull off. Hopefully this means your adventure is right around the corner!

Nathan approaches Gabriel and the man as they conclude their quiet discussion. He had not been really listening as he was distracted thanks to the unfamilar surroundings. He gazed about for a few minutes and then realized they were ready to go. he approaches and quickly gives the man a look over. He seems ok and Nathan offers his hand in agreement to the deal of 5 gold for the rental of the wagon. He glances at Alton and Kalika to see if they have any coin to split the costs of the money. He leads Jack over to the wagon and hooks him up accordingly. The donkey seems pleased as all of the load is unloaded off his back and into the wagon. The weight seems to be easier to pull than carry and Jack is pretty excited about that as he stamps his feet on the hard dirt to show his appreciation. Then, after everyone is settled up, he decides that its a good time to pay Gabriel. He flips him a few coins and say, “Youll get more depending on how well you do your duty young one! Plus we will of course give you a fair share of any treasure or gold we find provided you stay alive and do your duty to the best of your ability.” With that he turns Jack around and points him south on the road. Everything is loaded into the wagon and Nathan turns to the others, “Well thats it for me! Are you guys ready to go?”

Kalika checks out the wagon that the man presented to them. It’s certainly small, not room to carry more than a few men, but its a good size for Jack to haul, and would be able to carry the wounded back to Mercia. Also, a small wagon would be more likely to fit through any narrow passageways they might encounter. And for 5 gold… not bad. Kalika turns to Alton and says “Alton, what do you think about us splitting the cost of the wagon, since Nathan is generously donating his donkey to pull it?” She waits for Nathan to finish hooking Jack up to the wagon and then places her pack inside it, along with the extra bullets she secured from the barracks (or she assumes she was able to take more since she asked and no one said otherwise). Then, turning to Nathan, she said “Yup all ready! I’m excited to be getting back into the wilderness and out of the city! I’ll wait til we’re on our way out and then call Nailo, she’s probably sleeping anyway right now.”

Nathan has kind of a blank stare on his face when he erupts..”Who is Nailo!?...and how do you call her?..”

He glances around the area, “now where did Alton run off to? he was here just a minute ago!?”

Kalika is beginning to wonder a little about Nathan… he always has a blank stare on his face and seems to be distracted easily. Despite that, he was still rather attractive – for a half elf. “Oh, have I not mentioned Nailo before? I’m sure I have! She’s my good friend. She often accompanies me when I travel and keeps me company, warns me of danger, and helps me hunt. Oh- I guess I should also mention – she’s a black panther. She’s really quite beautiful, and rather tame – with people she trusts and considers friendly…” With that, Kalika trailed off wondering how Nailo would react to Alton…

Nathan’s jaw drops in disbelief…”ahh-ahh-uhh panther?! What does it eat?!” Nathan stammers as he quickly casts a glance at Jack the donkey who has pulled his cart to the side of the road within the reach of some fresh greens. “How big is it?? It doesnt eat halflings or small boys does it?! Well I am glad that I am one of the bigger people traveling with us!” Nathan chuckles as he casts another glance over at Gabe and Alton. With that he turns his face to the sun which has broken through the clouds. “Well if there is nothing more, we should be off! Gabe!” calling the boy foward he waits for him to come up beside him as he and Jack start off in a southerly direction. He puts his hand down on his shoulder and lowers his head a little to speak more towards him. “Ok, lead the way and don’t wander off too far ahead. You never know what might be lurking in the forest… In these times, no one is safe! not even little boys with wooden spears.” He pats Gabe on the back and proceeds to walk side by side with Jack down the road… glancing back once or twice to make sure Kalika and Alton are in tow.

Kalika laughed to herself at Nathan’s fear… an adventurer afraid of a panther… and she had just said the panther was tame and her very good friend… and, she looked down at herself, she was much smaller than Nathan and Nailo had never even looked at her as food! “Nathan, relax” she said “Nailo eats meat, but she won’t attack anyone who is kind to her, or anyone who I ask her not too… she mostly catches small animals like rabbits and squirrels and eats them.” “Although she might start eating halflings or small boys if they cause any trouble…” She quietly added, laughing to herself, as she followed Nathan and Jack along the path.

Alton tails behind everyone as things are moving. He agrees to splitting the cost of the wagon and nods to show he is ready. His hood is pulled over his head, but his head is held nice and high. He listens to the half-elf and the lady elf speak, but mainly he just watches the young boy. Something weird about this young man getting a wagon for so cheap, and happening to be listening to their conversation, and so eager to lend his help. Why would a boy be so ready to take on this undertaking, especially one that hasn’t ever seen combat? Alton decides he’d better make it his job to watch the boy. Can’t trust them farm folk, so poor they do anything for money. As they walk Alton hides his amusement at the two elves talking. “Panther you say? Black you say? Does it carry saddle bags?” Alton makes sure to hide his grin within the shadow of his hood. As they walk he stays rather quite, instead, his attention is focused on his weapons. He repeatedly thumbs his daggers making sure they are as sharp as he remembers, and he even hops into the wagon to load and work his crossbow. When he is satisfied he hops down, but leaves his bow drawn. “Best to be ready me thinks.”

“Sir, ill have you know I’m rather good with this wooden spear.” Gabe says with a smile to Nathan. Gabe hikes his small bag higher on his shoulders as he walks, apparently oblivious to the comments about being eaten by a panther or the wary eye Alton occasionally casts his way. He seems like any other farm boy, happy in his lack of complications and content with hard work. Sometimes he whistles a small tune as he walks, obviously not concentrating on guiding you anywhere because the road is still clearly marked with waystones.

The road winds along the coast southwest away from the hustle and bustle of Freeport. The walled houses and estates lining the road give way to farms and orchards and olive groves and after a few miles more they give way to grasslands, scrublands, and small groves of trees. The wilderness embraces you with a cool sea breeze and layers of clouds in the sky. Autumn is fast approaching and the days are becoming cooler. You can hear the ocean faintly over the hills and you know that you are close. The road even dips down to run right along the beaches in certain areas. The rocky coastline and crystal clear blue water are beautiful even in this so-so weather. Eventually, a few hours after the suns have begun their descent towards the west, the road begins to leave the coastline and curve westward inland. Gabe stops for a moment and takes a swig on the water from his skin. “we have a few more hours of good traveling time left but after that we should consider setting up camp someplace. We are on the stretch to Three Points, a village of farmers where I live. When we get there tomorrow evening we can all sleep in my house, so you wont have to worry about sleeping outside all the time. You are lucky I live this way or we would all have to pay for an inn or sleep outside constantly.” Gabe smiles at you and continues on.

When the group had traveled a couple of miles outside of the city, Kalika called Nailo. She appeared much faster than Kalika had anticipated and she figured that Nailo must have been following them waiting for her invitation instead of sleeping as Kalika had suspected. Kalika greeted Nailo and introduced her to the group, trying to be clear that these people were allies. Nalio looked up at Kalika with her round onyx eyes, understanding, but with a face that said “I’m exhausted.” Kalika thought about how this journey would differ from all of her previous expeditions… she usually traveled at night. Being an elf, she didn’t need sleep; a couple hours of meditation was all that she needed. And with Nailo being nocturnal, it only made sense that they gained most of their distance in the darkness hours. Kalika suggested to Nalio that she climb into the wagon and get some rest by pointing at the wagon moving slowly down the road ahead of them. A couple of hours later Gabe announced that they would be stopping soon and that tomorrow we could stay at his house for the night. “Silly humans,” thought Kalika, “What’s wrong with sleeping out of doors? I sleep outside every night and, in fact, have never slept inside a building!” “And also,” she continued in her mind, “Does he think we’re going to return to his house every evening for supper and slumber?? This could be a several week long endeavor and we’re certainly not going to have nice cozy cottages to shack up in every night along the way… and pay for an inn?!? Good luck finding an inn in the middle of the woods, or halfway through a field, or in the mountains… We’re adventurers, this is what we do! We can make camp…” She still had her original doubts about the usefulness of a “guide” to trained adventurers, and this child wasn’t doing much to relieve them… As long as the others were content with him, she’d keep her mouth shut, and as long as he didn’t lead them into danger or get them into any trouble, she was sure they’d be fine. Kalika stopped herself and took a breath. “Not everyone is the same as you, Kalika.” she said to herself. She realized that just because seeing everything that the earth had to offer and spending time in different places, and sleeping under different skies and treetops were the things she cherished most in life, it was not the same for everyone. “When we make camp we should take turns keeping watch.” she said to the group. “I only need about 4 hours, so if someone doesn’t mind staying up a little later, I’ll keep watch the rest of the evening.” It was a clear evening, and she was looking forward to a beautiful star filled night. It would also be a good time to catch Nailo up on the events of her day and the assembly. Nailo didn’t always understand everything Kalika said, but it was nice to have a friend to talk to.

Alton trudges along behind the rest of the group, his crossbow at the ready. His small frame doesn’t appear to be tense but, instead, he looks alert. However, he jumps when the panther appears out of the forest to their side. It seems clear that he was listening and watch or attempting to and had not discovered the feline stalker. After the initail shock, Alton settles back down. He listens to the the offer of the boy and he ponders. A farm house. Surely there will be no wealth to speak of. Also, what point is their sleeping in a house. “Thanks for the offer of sleeping, but it seems I think we should push on past your farm house, only resting for the Donkey. Time is essentail here. I feel greater reward awaits us if we finish our task with speed. It can only be to our advantage.” With that, he goes back to listening to their surroundings and peering into the woods. He still has a feeling that not everything was explained to them in the meeting hall.

Rocky, shallow hills surround you the further inland you travel. Grasses and clumps of woods can be seen in all directions by the time evening rolls around. When the sunlight begins to wane in the late afternoon Gabe begins to suggest making camp for the evening. He keeps glancing at Nailo with an apprehensive look on his face, apparently un-nerved about being so close to a wild animal that, under normal circumstance, would not think twice about killing him and feeding him to her young. The clouds of the day have stuck around for the evening and a chance of rain lingers on the air. Gabe pulls a large square of canvas that has been sewn into a sort of man-sized pocket from his pack and lays it on the ground. You think to yourself, ‘well that¹s a no frills way of keeping dry at night, the boy must sleep out a lot’. A fire comes to mind for almost everyone in the party and Gabe disappears into some nearby woods for a few minutes only to reappear a few minutes later with armfuls of firewood. He lays the fire quietly and soon a nice sized flame dances in the center of his impromptu fire pit.

Nathan nods at Altons comments for pushing on. Although the exit from Freeport was quite slow, traveling in open terrain makes them an easy target and time is not in the hostages favor. As they make their way towards camp Nathan unsheathes his longsword just as a precaution even though its unlikely that an animal would be in waiting right where they would make camp. He begins to quietly approach a clearing several yards off the road to the right, trying his best to move the donkey and wagon off the road and out of sight. His slender frame twists and curves between the low lying boughs and branches as his ears perk up. He listens and about to make sure no other creatures inhabit the area that they intend on spending the night at. Based on what he hears (assuming nothing), Nathan decides its safe and motions anyone behind him forward. He grabs some things from the wagon and returns to the camp with a bedroll, blanket and hooded lantern in his arms. “Alton, Kalika, Tell me a little bit more about yourselves!” I have not really gotten a chance to get to know you as well as I feel. Also, I have a surprise for the three of us in my pack for when we rescue these poor hostages.” With that he rolls out his bedroll in preparation for a night of story swapping and hopefully some rest as the trip so far has been a rude awakening compared to the easy past few days in the city. “I’ll have to get used to sleeping on the ground again i suppose”

Assuming Kalika hears and sees nothing suspicious, she sits down by the fire and addresses her companions. “I agree with Nathan and I’d also like to learn more about you all. But, I think, before I share anything about myself, I want to tell you all a little more about Nailo. I can see that none of you are comfortable with her presence, and I hope to make you feel more assured about your safety in her company.” Pausing to see that she has anyone’s attention, she continues “About three years ago I was returning home from one of my trips across the country. I paused one evening in a densely wooded area to rest. Midway through my meditation I heard a terrible screeching sound that instantly broke my concentration. The screeching continued and it was such a piercing, penetrating sound that I almost didn’t hear the other sound. The sounds of pain, fear, and distress that seemed to be coming from a very young animal. I was able to focus my hearing on the second sound and follow the cries. After a couple of minutes I came upon a baby panther, badly injured, bleeding, with a broken leg, and very close to death. It looked (and sounded) as if she had been attacked by a dragon, but somehow managed to get away. Not wanting to hang around to find out for sure, I scooped her up, wrapped her in my cloak to catch the blood, and took her back to my campsite. I cleaned and dressed her wounds, but was still not sure if she was going to make it, and she certainly wouldn’t have a chance if I left her alone, so I made a satchel out of my cloak and strapped her to my body. I managed to keep her alive until I reached my village, where I immediately fed her unicorn milk. After about two days on the unicorn milk diet, she regained her strength, appetite, and ability to walk. I had also made a friend for life. Nailo and I can’t actually speak to each other, but we definitely have an innate understanding of each other. She can sense when I want her to come to me, or when I need her to hide. She won’t hunt anything I don’t want her to kill – or anyone, and she really does make a great traveling companion and has been excellent company to me on many journeys since I found her.” Kalika paused to think if there was anything else she should add to the story, or if she had said enough to convince her fellow travelers that they could trust Nailo. She certainly wanted everyone to be comfortable since they were already in a dangerous situation, and she wanted Nailo to feel welcome, as the panther was already distancing herself from the group and was currently lying just outside the clearing in the woods. “So what do you guys think?” She asked the group. “Does that help you to better understand my and Nailo’s relationship? I hope that once we’re all more comfortable with each other we’ll be able to get to know each other better and maybe become friends.”

The clearing for camp is comforting after the long days march. Nailo disappears into the wilderness, presumably to hunt for her dinner. Everyone’s cautious looks and wary eyes seem to go unnoticed by young Gabe as he prepares for the evening and pulls a small loaf of bread out of his pack and smears some sort of soft cheese on it. Taking a big bite, “we are only one day’s hard travel from three points village. I only suggested we sleep at my house because we will need to sleep around there anyway. And if you folks are adverse to sleeping inside then that¹s no problem because my house is so small that someone will likely have to sleep in the barn anyway!” he laughs as he takes another bite of his bread and cheese and nearly gags on it. Coughing he gets up to get some firewood and lights a small fire for the evening. Looking at this young man you begin to think. He is guiding you through the wilderness, eating bread and cheese, using homemade weapons, and without any sophisticated equipment. It dawns on you that Gabe must be rather poor. Why else would a strapping young man need to undertake a dangerous mission when he could be earning a living in a safer, if less lucrative, live of work. Pity sweeps into your mind but you doubt that Gabe needs nor wants you pity.

Nathan, settles down and listens to Kalika tell her story of her panther, throughly entertained by her ability to capture her audience’s attention as well as the story of her compassion towards animals. He comments here and there as she tells her tale and then makes small talk with the rest of the group. Feeling the weariness creep over his body he decides to retire for the evening as the fire begins to die down. “I dont know if we really need to keep watch being this close to town and in the middle of Mercia. I expect most people and creatures would have serious trouble sneaking up on a full blooded elf in the middle of the woods.” He casts a glance over at Kalika giving her credit for her abilities with a nod. “Anyway, I am tired and we will need our strength when the fight is upon us in the coming days. Let us all get some rest” With that he cozies up to the fire and pulls his blanket up over his shoulders as the moon rises over the tops of the trees and the fire dies out.

Alton listens to the two elves talk about their lives. But, his mind is on other things. He doesn’t feel as if these two should even know his life story, because he’s quite certain that the truth would send them both packing. Also, he’s quite positive that no one is falling for the sewer cleaner routine. His mind is primarily focused on the events of the day. This whole mission seems questionable, and the reward seems to be lackluster. And he doesn’t exactly trust the guide. Evesdropping is something thieves, bandits, spies, and assassins do…After all, Alton’s one of the best at it. So he sits mainly in silence listening to their conversation. “Sorry Mr. Half-elves, I believes that this is the perfect place for an ambush. Close enough to town to not cause any traveling problems, but removed from the main road and in a large clearing surrounded by woods. And as for sneaking up on elves in the woods? Ain’t hard to do. Not even an elf can hear what makes no sound.” He grins. He also offers to take the first watch.

As the others begin preparing for sleep, Kalika settles in, leaning against a tree. “Ok, Alton, take the first watch. I’ll be meditating for about 4 hours, then I can take over, since I don’t need to sleep.” Kalika always appreciated her elven trait of not requiring sleep when she was in new or strange places. And her first evening alone with these men was no different. Even though they had spent the entire day together, they were still strangers and she didn’t entirely trust her companions. She sat and thought for a little while about what the next day, or next couple of days, might bring. There had to be more to the story than rescuing kidnapped servants… Before sitting down against the tree and preparing for the evening, Kalika uses the Detect Magic Level 0 Druid Spell (60ft). Then she uses Wood Shape to bend the tree branches into a platform 12 feet off the ground, large enough for her to lie down on. Then, she sat by the tree and thought, as below. After a couple of minutes, she climbed the tree into her platform and began meditating.

Nathan watches in awe as Kalika forms the tree tops into her own platform. When the transfiguration is complete he comments, “Wow! You can do magic!? That was amazing!” He continues to glance between the platform and the elven woman who so effortlessly formed the tree into the shape of her desire. After the conversation Nathan lays back down and rests for several hours until the light comes.

Alton nods to the elf and hops out of the wagon. Instead of setting up watch in the clearing he decides its best to patrol around the forest circling the clearing. He ensures his crossbow is cocked and loaded and sets out disappearing into the forest.

“Yes, I can do magic” Kalika responded to Nathan. “But not much. That’s about the extent of my skills right now. I’m still very young in elven years…” she continued, before lying back down on her platform and closing her eyes.

The night sets in quietly with Kalika meditating in her tree and Nathan, Alton, and Gabe sleeping on their pads on the ground. The fire that Gabe made gradually burns itself out and every once in a while Gabe will toss another stick onto it just to keep going. The patchy clouds keep the night from being lit by the moons or the stars constantly so a pitch black blanket occasionally covers your world. The sounds of the Mercian hills are all around you; the chirping of crickets and the occasional hoot of an owl. In between logs being thrown on the fire you are slowly awaken by new sounds in the forest. There is a rustling in the woods to the north and while you are slowly awakening by this disturbance, thinking its just a fox or something, you are awakened by an odd sound that you cant quite place in your memory. It almost reminds you of a dog chewing on a bone. You snap awake just as the clouds part for a moment and you are greeted by the sight of 5 large zombies shambling into your camp in unholy silence. They wield rusted long swords and what appear to be pieces of some wooden structure that they have torn apart. The wood forming some sort of crude club studded with nails. They wear scraps of armor that are hanging off of their rotting bodies. An eye hangs from its socket and one is missing its left arm, a clean cut, the zombie apparently a soldier in its past life. The zombies steadily walk towards Nathan, Gabe, and Alton in the moonlight with their mouths open, screaming in death but making no noise. They appear not to notice Kalika.

Nathan awakes from his slumber to the foreign sounds approaching from the forest. He quickly scans the edges of the clearing looking for the source. (checking for other enemies besides 5 zombies) (spot: 9+5=14) Assuming he finds only the five zombies gathered at the northern edge of the clearing, Nathan creeps over to where he thinks Gabe and Alton are sleeping. Only finding Gabe, he realizes Alton is probably already aware of and prepared for the incoming enemy. He shakes Gabe awake while reaching for his bow and quiver and quickly strings up an arrow to let loose towards the newly arrived threat.

Kalika hears the rustling at the edge of the clearing and immediately sits up on her perch. She silently calls Nailo, informing her of that they’re under attack and to approach with caution. Then she reaches for her sling and bag of bullets. She looks down and sees Nathan with his bow strung, prepared to launch an attack. Realizing her advantage over the enemy in that they haven’t noticed her yet on her perch up in the tree, she decides to wait before attacking, and assist her group by slowing the enemy down before they can reach the campsite. Remembering the night’s meditation, she concentrates on an Entanglement Spell, focusing her mind on a space 20 feet behind the zombies. Almost immediately, the brush around the zombies begins to grow up and around the 5 confused zombies. A limb from a nearby tree wraps around one of them, sweeping him off of his feet and tying him to the trunk. Another zombie becomes enclosed in a bush… The spell causes brush overgrowth to fill half of the clearing, with limbs and vines reaching out for any nearby object or person. Nathan grabs Gabe and pulls him back to the edge of the clearing. (Kalika realizes that she hadn’t seen Alton and hopes he isn’t injured or affected by the brush overgrowth.) As she begins to tire, she grabs her sling and fires a bullet at the closest zombie, aiming for his head. (Assuming the zombies are all entangled.)

Nathan, seeing the growing forest spring up before him and Gabe, backpedals away from the reaching vines and branches in shock. Amazed at the possibility of a sorceress in their midst, he watches in awe as the plants bind anyone or thing nearby. Since most of the creatures are bound, he takes this time to straighten his chain shirt and position himself in front of Gabe near the base of Kalika’s tree. He then readies another arrow from his quiver, notches it and aims at whatever zombie is within his field of vision.

The zombies shamble straight towards the tree occupied by Kalika with Nathan and Gabe nearby. When Kalika finishes her incantation three of the five zombies are rooted firmly in place but strain against their wooded bonds mouthing their silent screams. (unfortunately, because I am ruling this round as a surprise round, kalika cant attack this round, but we will save her attack for the first normal round) Nathans arrow flies true and pierces the shoulder of the nearest free zombie, a dark ooze gushing forth from the puncture wound. Gabe appears shaken by the zombies and is seen holding onto his makeshift spear with both hands, keeping the zombies at bay even though the creatures are 30 feet away and moving slowly. The two free zombies shamble forward another 20 feet by the time Nathans next arrow is readied. A whistle sounds for a moment and, as you look past the nearest undead, you notice the shaft of a small bolt protruding from the belly of one of the bound zombies. Alton is apparently opening fire on the rear creatures while they are bound, but he is still nowhere to be seen. It is obvious that he does not wish to be seen as that is his way.

Alton breathes deeply. It is early in the combat and already Alton is gasping for breath. His eyes are wide as saucers. Fear flows through his viens. Not only is he witnessing the dead walking, but also the forest is alive. The branches have been twisting, turning, grasping, and scratching for what has seemed like minutes. Nothing in the sewers and towns of the north have ever prepared him for this. But suddenly, Alton’s eyes catch a sight that stirs him to act. He focuses on the scene of the two free zombies barreling down on the Half-elf and the young boy. Gabe’s eyes are just as frantic and panicked. The Half-elf looks far more composed, but still, they are all in trouble. Alton launches into action. He peels himself from the tree he was using as cover and bounds forward. Bushes, branches, and grass reach for him, but with each attempt to make contact, Alton looks to be one step ahead. As he bursts towards and into the clearing with the vegetation on his heels, he pauses. In a lull in the attacks from the vegetation, Altons brings up his crossbow and fires. The whistling sound of the crossbow bolt cutting through the air can be heard again. The whistling sound terminates with a deadening thump. It finds its target in the zombie Nathan had already targeted. Its point protudes from the center of it neck unleashing a larger flow of the black ooze. Just after firing a shot, Alton’s fatigue catches up with him and a stray branch manages to knock the crossbow from his hand. With a quick motion, Alton pulls a small dagger from his boot and begins to move toward the unentangled zombies. “Aim for the same ones, Watches for a finger waggler! The Forests and the Deads are alive,” He shouts in warning to his friends.

Turning a quick glance towards Gabe and seeing the fright in the young boys eyes, Nathan focuses his attention on Gabe’s defense. With two of the zombies unhindered by the rapidly growing plants around them he decides that this will be his last arrow before going to melee combat. “Get up into the tree boy! Your little spear will do little to slow the undead!” he shouts to Gabe. He watches as the two zombies close in on them, now only 10 feet away from the base of the tree, as he strings another arrow into his short bow. He stares down the shaft of the arrow as the bow is drawn tight and hears the whistle of another arrow headed in his direction. He pauses, waiting for the source of the sound to show itself, only to catch a glimpse of a fast moving object lodge itself into neck of one of the zombies. Hearing Alton’s cry from the overgrown forest he again focuses his aim, this time towards the wounded zombie and lines up the shaft of his arrow and with its chest. “Hopefully we can take one down before it reaches us!” He lets loose the arrow with a twang of his bow and it finds its target with a resounded thud. The arrow protrudes from the chest of the wounded zombie as the black ooze stains its tattered coverings. Nathan considers notching another arrow but the arrow did little to slow their approach. He drops his bow behind him and unsheathes two shiny sword-like weapons, one a bit longer than the other. He then takes up a battle stance in front of Gabe, twirls his weapon in his hands, and waits the few seconds before the zombies are upon him.

Gabe snaps out of his fear-spawned trance and glanes at Nathan. “I’m not getting stuck up in some tree with zombies all over the ground!” Gabe clings to his spear, standing his ground in the face of the encroaching zombies. Two of the zombies struggle againts the wooded bonds that hold them but they are so slow that as they rip off the branches, more grow up and around them, holding them fast in place.

Kalika, watching her entangle spell immobilize three of the zombies, puts a bullet into her sling and aims at the zombie approaching the base of her tree. She hears Nathan and Gabe yelling and sees Nathan’s arrow puncture the chest of the zombie. Her bullet hits the zombie right between the eyes, knocking him off-balance. Knowing her entangle spell won’t last much longer, she yells down to her companions “The entangle spell will wear off soon, and we’ll have all 5 upon us again! I’ll try to conjure up another spell real quick to keep them busy!” Thankful that she had finished her meditation for the evening, she plans to summon a creature from the elemental plane of fire. She also thinks of Nailo, wonders where she is, and expects her to show up any moment and come to their defense.

The two free zombies finish shambling towards game and Nathan at the base of Kalika tree. It appears that zombies can move quickly when their prey is near. You are startled however when the zombies slow down as they move closest to Nathan and Gabe at the base of the tree. They appear to be sizing up their opponents and preparing to attack!

Alton watches that action thats all around him. He hears the zombies straining against their bonds and knows that if they don’t take one of the free zombies down before the others get here they are going to be in a lot of trouble. Instead of closing to melee with the dagger, alton lifts his arm and heaves it at the already injured zombie. The dagger wheels around in the air and the blade sinks to the shaft into the fleshy should of the zombie.(Z2) Alton watches with satisfaction as the dagger hits home and starts off moving towards melee with the intent of readying his mace and engaging the zombies.

Nathan, allowing his training and natural instincts take over, advances in a blur to engage the first of the two advancing zombies. The zombie, brainlessly lumbering towards Gabe and Nathan offers little resistance to Nathans blades. His swords slice into the creature creating huge gashes in its core. Dust, gas, and old blood spew out of the bloated undead body of the zombie as Nathan wheels around to face his opponent and continue his relentless attack.

The zombies shambling toward Gabe and Nathan have been reduced to one. One zombie has been slashed and pierced beyond recognition, lying in a slump on the ground, its fingers still opening and closing, trying to grab its prey feebly. Gabe, seeing that the zombies can indeed be killed attacks the remaining zombie with new fervor. His homemade spear catches the zombie in the thigh drawing a small amount of black ichor, the zombie attempts to swipe at gabe but is too slow. Gabe backpedals away from the beast a short distance and brandishes the dripping end of his spear towards the undead.

With one zombie down and another closing in on Gabe and Nathan, Nailo finally arrives at the clearing. She maneuvers around the entangled zombies, growling, and leaps at the zombie near Gabe. Her claws dig into the zombies chest and, as the zombie lets out a roar, she sinks her sharp teeth into its neck, tearing at the flesh. Kalika surveys the situation and realizes that something big has to happen if they want to defeat the zombies. Her entangle spell will be wearing off any moment now. At Nailo’s arrival, she is reminded that they’re not alone, and she decides to summon another of nature’s allies. She sees Nailo attack a zombie, and hopes for her safety. Kalika’s eyes roll back into her head as she travels to the elemental plane of fire to summon one of her friends, the Thoqqua. Immediately the Thoqqua appears by springing out of the rocks between the entangled zombies. Its body uncoils as it launches itself toward the nearest zombie, igniting everything in its path, its tail whipping around behind it and slapping the other entangled zombies.

Nailos teeth and claws rip deep into the zombies flesh. As the panther pulls away a small spray of black oozing blood mists into the air. The zombie staggers back away from gabe, severely wounded but regains its standing and mouths a wordless curse as it lunges back into the fray. Meanwhile, the Thoqqua bursts forth from its firey den and lunges towards the entangled zombies. The mounded zombie is caught aflame and crumples to the ground after a few moments of burning. Its corpse twitches for a few moments and then is still. Another zombie is struck by the springing beast and is knocked to the ground and lit as well. The flames quickly burn off the undeads tattered clothes and goes out, leaving a charred naked being who miraculously rises to its feet, badly hurt. The zombie that has been torn open by nailo now shambles back into the fray and swipes at the panther. Unfortunately for the zombie nailo is too quick for it and jumps backwards while letting out a low roar. The restrained zombie that is not already engaged with the Thoqqua attempts yet again to pull itself free of the snaking vines but appears to be loosing strength as the battle wears on. It fails to break free yet again.

Having launched the dagger, Alton reaches into the folds of his cloak. His hands find the haft of his mace hanging from its sling. He frees it easily and pushes towards the melee. Intent on ending this fight.

Nathan, fully confident that the fight will go in their favor, drops his defensive nature and lunges forward to attack the closest remaining zombie. He twirls his blades as he approaches and watches the zombie eyes swell with hunger as fresh meat approaches. Nathan spins away from the first swing of the zombies large arms and parries the next swat attempt, batting away a balled fist with the flat of his long sword. An opening appears as Nathan feigns to attack low and then spins and brings his blades around the back side of the creature. The zombie bends over to try and block the feign but is too slow to react. Nathan makes the turn and stabs his blades into the zombies back. Black ooze flows from the wounds as Nathan pushes the blades into the undead beast with all his strength. After they can sink no more he puts his boot up on the undeads behind and kicks his blades free.

View
Introduction and Assembly Continued

After about an hour of chatting with the bartender, who tirelessly filled Kali’s ears with tale’s of the city’s history, folklore, and gossip, she left the tavern and headed towards the assembly. The streets were beginning to clear and Kali figured everyone was heading over to hear what the King had to say. She approached the large brick amplitheater and felt herself instantly intimidated by its massive structure, and the amount of people it held. She heard, over the roaring crowd, a man near the front yelling, “Adventurers this way!! Adventurers down in front!! Aventurers this way!!” There were several people dressed as adventurers lingering in the entrance and looking around. Apparently they didn’t have her kean elven hearing. Kali followed the man’s advice and started to make her way toward the front. She spotted a familiar face through the crowd and started walking over towards him. The front row was quickly filling up, so she cut through the second row of seats, paused behind Nathan, then stepped over the seat and sat down next to him, the contents of her bag clanking together with the abrupt direction change. “Hello Nathan, how are you doing today?’ she asked.

“greetings!” says Nathan in excitement over the familar face…”ummm I’m terribly sorry, but in all the extracurricular activities last nights i seem to have forgotten your name…” nathan turns his face to hide his embarrasment and awaits the response from the strange woman….

(assuming you dont bitch slap me back to africa…)

“Oh…Kalika! thats right, im sorry, i can be quite forgetful sometimes (thanks to low intellegence). Whats all the jingling in your pockets? I do love your elven attire, especially your cloak. Why I was just telling my donkey…” nathan pauses again as his face turns flush…”not that i talk to donkeys… but anyway, I’ve been eyeing up a nice cloak myself and yours is quite beautiful. where did you get it? how much did you pay for it?!”

“Oh! Its just some shells and smooth stones I found this morning this morning when I was walking along the beach. I was thinking to make a necklace from one of the shells and the stones are good for meditation… but, what’s wrong with talking to your Donkey? I have an animal companion, who’s actually waiting for me in the woods just outside the city. She’s a black panther called Nailo (i think) and her and I often have tons to share with each other!! Animals are intelligent creatures and they have much to say and share with us, if we only take the time to listen much can be learned about the earth and nature, and even our fellow living creatures…” Kalika’s voice trailed off as she realized she was ranting. “Sorry, I don’t mean to sound preachy, I just do really love animals and nature. So my point was that I actually think more highly of you for talking to your donkey – not that you talk to donkeys – but if you did…” She trailed off again… “What else was it that you asked about?” “Oh! my cloak!” It was passed along to me from the woman who raised me when I started traveling. She had gotten it from her mother. So you wouldn’t be able to get one just like mine, but the elves still do make excellent cloth and their tunics and traveling cloaks are unlike any you can find in any city or town!!” She paused to think, “Hey, Nathan, if we end up traveling together and pass through an elven village, I’ll see if I can’t get you a new cloak.” Then she blushed at her presumptions that they’d be traveling in groups, traveling at all, or especially that Nathan would want to travel with her if they were. Then she remembered his friend Alton. He hadn’t turned up yet, but was surely around somewhere. The elven community wouldn’t take too well to an outsider among them… especially one who was so obviously into theiving… he’d be very difficult to trust with elvenwares. Her face contorted in thought as she debated these things, and she simultaneously hoped Nathan could and could not read her mind.

Alton struggles out of the sewer that was his home. He sniffs his cloth to see if any of the smell settled in but he doesn’t really care all that much if it has. He ponders his actions for the morning. He decides his best course of action is to find a place to eat so he trudges off in search of a tavern for breakfast. He orders a decent meal and then bored of the low energy in the bar shuffles his way out the front door. He steps into the sunlight and looks around. Seeing the people suddenly reminds him of the assembly that he had momentarily forgotten about. With a little hop in his step he makes his way toward the assembly area. The crowds present in the area draw a look of glee in the young halflings face and he dives right in. It is not long before he notices the flutter of an expensive cloak. He makes his way over and suddenly realizes that it is the elf lady and the half-elf from the night before. He straightens his attire and then shouts,” Heya Half-elfs and elf ladies! Told you I find yous today. Lots of peoples from all overs me thinks.” He takes a seat near them.

Nathan looks in interest at Kalikas shells and nods in agreement about the woods and animals, allowing her to continue her rant. At the end he chips in with a “its good to find someone who appreciate the outdoors as much as I. My donkeys name is Jack, just in case you see him around” He adds “I figured (about the cloak)...well things should be getting started here any minute.” With that he glances around the stage area in anticipation of the start of the ceremony. he notices Alton as he announces his presence. He waves and continues to glance around, looking for anyone of importance to signify the start of the announcements…as time passes in waiting he glances back to Alton and whispers “glad to see you made it through the night….” He chuckles as he recounts the previous evenings events in his mind…and then proceeds to continue casual conversation with Kalika and Alton until the events begin.

Greetings are finally made as the three of you settle down into your seats towards the front of the stage. Many townspeople fill the stadium area of the amphitheatre and the adventurers area is nearly filled to capacity. The drone of conversation continues for some time as the stage lays empty. Just when it sounds like the crowd is getting rowdy and restless a man steps out onto the stage and begs for a few more moments of patience before the assembly begins. The conversations start up and the announcement seems to have done little to calm the people so anxious for news. This assembly has been built up over days by the townspeople into something larger than it likely will turn out as. Regardless of this fact a man soon emerges on stage. Not being from the city, you gather this man is important by how quickly everyone quiets when he raises his hand. An apparently native adventurer whispers to the person next to him, “It must be important if they sent Sir Belwor. He’s the kings own spokesman!” Sir Belwor is accompanied on stage by four men that stand behind him. The kings spokesman begins his speech. “Countrymen! I know you are all wondering why the king would call such a meeting. You are wondering what it is that would cause so many stranger to be called to our fair city. And I know that there are many a rumor floating in the tavern smoke about the recent events. You all have questions but I am afraid that I am not able to answer all of them. I am here to deliver a message from the king himself!” Sir Belwor clears his throat and unfurls a piece of parchment he produced from his sleeve. “Loyal citizens and fellow Mercians, long have we prospered on the bounty of the sea and the trade it so graciously brings to our shores from our allies in distant land. Our navy is proud and strong! we have grown rich and fat on the goods that pass through our harbors, and our enemies have grown jealous. Cowardly bandits and outlaws from the coalition challenge our ships at sea and raid into our territory on land! Mercia can no longer tolerate this insult!” The short speech seems to have drawn only more confusion from the audience. The short letter from the king is returned to Sir Belwor’s sleeve and it appears his is handing the stage over to one of the men behind him. Perhaps this next speaker can be a little clearer as to why everyone was called to Freeport. Before taking the center of the stage the man leans over to one of his companions and says something to him, the attendant trotting off stage. As the man steps forward it dawns on you that you recognize the speaker. He was the drunkard from the previous nights scuffle at the tavern! the urge to sink lower in your seat grows as he begins to speak. “I, am sir Alfonse. Head scout of the kings woodsmen. I am here to notify all adventurers that their aid is required in breaking this coalition string of raids. You are being offered this opportunity because as free citizens, you can go where we cannot. and you can accomplish what the kings larger forces cannot.” The unspoken offer hangs before the crowd. An offer of sanctioned raids on the settlements and trade of the coalition. Many adventurers look to be thinking the offer over and some are wearing grins that betray their intentions. The assembly is called to a close and the people begin to file out. The adventurers of Mercia must now decide weather or not to take the king up on his offer of work in coalition territory.

Alton sits patiently next to his two new friends. But soon, the need to move and be active overwhelms him. He finds it hard to keep his attention on the first man speaking and instead starts counting the number of times birds fly overhead, or the number of grey hairs on the individuals infront of him. Suddenly, movement on the stage catches his attention. As soon as his eyes fall upon the drunkard from last night he begins to snicker to himself. He quickly glances at Nathan and jabs him in the ribs. After jabbing him he points to the stage with a mask of laughter on his face. “the drunk-fool is a sirs. this towns not to picky with its lordships me thinks. Yous make a better lord then slipperygrip up there.” With that he nods to himself and prehaps to leave the arena. “No talk of rewards…mes nots interested. No idea who these coalitions are. Very uninformative I think. But if there be a reward, I thinks I’d be in. What about you half-elfs and lady elfs? You likes making money and fame?” He grins again.

Nathan ponders over the messages sent during the gathering and discusses with the people around him including Alton and Kalika. “Its clear that Mercia is worried about the growing forces in the Coalition but why not declare open war? What stops them from gathering an army and the navy and defending our western border? most of our border is via the bay between the two nations and the coalitions navy is not much to write home about. Our navy rules those waters and the land border to the north of the bay is small indeed and probably actively reinforced and supplied. I really don’t see the issue at hand. Perhaps some others around us have more perspective to offer.. I will write to my father as well who lives on the eastern shore of the bay to find out if he has heard anything from his travels in and around the bay. Also, Alton is right! Whats in it for us? Unless the coalition is a threat to me, mercia, or my homeland, I have no interest in fighting for the pittance of a reward that might be offered to a few measly adventurers and travelers…” Nathan pauses, out of breath from his rant, and waits to hear what others might have to say…

Kalika sat in silent contemplatation while the others vocalized their feelings, questions, and concerns about what had just been told to the assembly. She pondered what she had heard. The speakers had said a whole lot without actually telling them anything – but she knew one thing for sure, she had no intention of defending Mercia. There was a whole host of political uprisings going on right now in her own homeland of Emperor’s Grove and her own land and people needed defending and support. Kalika had come to Mercia in hopes of being sent on an adventure. She was looking for an excuse or reason to travel to far away places, see new lands, discover new (or new to her) plants and animals, and meet new and different people… lingering around the borders of Mercia wasn’t exactly the ticket she was looking for. Finally, she spoke to her companions, “Nathan I’ve got to say that I agree with you. I still have so many questions and I’m trying very hard not to feel let down. With all the hype and excitement leading up to this assembly, I feel there still has to be something more. Something they’re not telling us… And no, Alton, I don’t want fame or fortune. I’m a woods elf, a druid by trade, there isn’t much that money can buy me that I need or want. And fame, what does fame really mean? One who is famous in their community might be hated by another. I’d rather seek happiness and adventure, personal glory, growth and discoveries… that’s what I’m here for… and I’m not sure that defending Mercia from the Coalition will bring that to me. Yet… I remain here, because I am curious. I still think there is much they’re not telling us.”

Nathan nods in agreement, waiting for others to chime in…when it appears that no one else has much to say he speaks up, “I agree, theres not much i wouldnt do to defend my homeland but right now the threat is not clear. No attacks has been mentioned on our lands and no woodland or town has been threatened by the Coalition that has been out of the ordinary. Tension between the two nations has been evident for decades and the borders to our country are well guarded. I see little motivation for adventurers to risk their lives to raid villages within coalition borders, only to end up dead or worse!...Perhaps there is an official around that could answer more of our questions…”

Nathan gathers up his few possessions and looks around the audience/crowd, etc for any person who looks of importance or who happens to be wearing the colors/garb/flag/etc of Mercia. Alton listens to the other two talk with both ears. He nods to Nathan, but looks puzzled at the lady elfs. “You don’t want rewards? Whys not? Much of the world doesn’t care that the sea shell is pretty or that the wind bring new air, they want money. Sees that lord man who was talking…I beat him in darts and he got mad…saids i robbed him. Says to me one thing speaks to his heart, and to the heart of this king and his subjects. I think no matter how much yous hate the way they live, you gotta play by some of their rules. And whos doesn’t want fame. Do you think that those who are not famous aren’t hated by someone? I betcha that lord man up there on the platform hates me plenty and I’m not famous. Here watch!”

With that Alton gets a slight grin on his face and he makes his way toward the stage calling for the man that he “beat in the darts” the other night. “Hey yous! I gots a questions for you.”

The human from the bar on stage watches patiently with a smirk on his face as Alton approaches. He smiles in an obviously false manner to the small person and over-flourishes him bow.

“oh YES fine adventurer! My superior would be happy to answer your intelligent questions! and those of your companions as well!”

His last sentence is flat and dead serious without sarcasm.

“Follow me.”

nathan looks excitedly at the city officials thanks to the thought of more information. He quickly gathers his things and follows the officials to the backstage meeting area, keeping his senses about him in case of any type of trouble.

“Finallys, some answers! See Nathan yous just gots to be upfront with the titled people and eventually you will get some answers.” With that he trots off following the official.

Questions flood Kalika’s head… “why just us? what about the other adventurers? isn’t this the man from the bar last night? this can’t be safe… why are these guys so eager to follow this stranger? i wonder what questions this man can answer? i do have lots of questions… The speeches made by the men at the assembly did nothing to spark my interest in helping Mercia, but I still feel like there’s something more going on here. Maybe this will be the way to find out? And the officials already think I’m with these two… I could be in trouble if I don’t follow… and I don’t know anyone else here… And Nathan and Alton could use someone level headed with them as they’re rushing off with strangers into dark corners…” And with these thoughts, Kalika convinced herself. She picked up her bag and followed the men.

With that his companions indicate you should follow sir Alfonse off stage. They are not overly kind but stop short of ordering you around or trying to place you under restraints. Sir Alfonse heads off stage and towards one of the many small meeting rooms provided by this facility behind the stage. You take account of the men around you and notice that none of them are armed save for a small knife each one carries, which is common for personal security in a city such as Freeport. Your guess is that Sir Alfonse was ordered by the superior he mentioned not to harm you and that this superior will likely have more answers than sir Belwor did recounting the kings message.

It is probably best to follow them for now and avoid some sort of conflict by not obeying them. And besides, maybe you will actually get some of your questions answered by someone who actually knows what’s going on.

The obviously annoyed sir Alfonse leads you down a well lit hallway to a room. The room is brightly illuminated by clerestory windows and contains a long wooden table. A man sits on one wide side of the table reading some scrolls which litter the desk. You recognize the man as sir Belwor, the man who delivered the kings message at the assembly. Upon entering the room, sir Alfonse stands to the side and watches you. Sir Belwor looks up from his maps and charts and motions you to stand in front of him. He does not look particularly happy but he doesn¹t seem angry at you either. He carries the look of a man with a lot of responsibility and not a lot of time. Still, hopefully he will be able to spare enough time to answer some of your questions.

“my name is Alexander. I understand you have some questions for me? Hopefully we will be able to help each other.”

Nathans plans to go in and just ask some basic questions. As a long standing member of Mercia and his father and mother also residing on the western border of the country all their years, he should be in good standing with the government and with no altercations or blemishes on his records he should easily be able to deduce some information as well as to why he should even embark on such a quest for a few measly rewards considering the coalition has been going at mercia for the last 100 years at least! Nathan enters the room and waits for everyone to settle into their places. Upon hearing the tone of sir Belwor, he decides that perhaps he should be straight to the point. “Hello sir, My name is Nathan Amastica, from Willow Bay, my friends and I were just discussing the recent annoucement and don’t really see why we would be motivated to assist in such a matter considering the Coalition has been our enemy for quite a few years now. What makes the attacks now that much more threatening than before? Besides, we have a much stronger navy which can dominate most of the western border, and the defense at the north western land bridge is quite fortified and able to be reinforced if necessary. Why the need for thousands of adventurers and travelers to raid small villages in a foreign and hostile country?” Nathan finishes, and waits for a response or a chime in from one of his newly found companions.

Alton bounds in much more interested in seeing if the fool from last night remembers him then getting any real answers. But when Nathan brings up the fact that no true motivation exists , his attention shifts to the man at the table. “Nathan is rights me thinks. Why should Alton travel all this way, do horrible deeds, and not get a grand reward for it? An adventurer that works for free is not to bright me thinks. Also, me thinks that an adventurer that works for cheap is likesly to not be very good. But you tells me what I’m doing exactly, and uses give me a fair reward for doings it and you got yourself a deal!”

Kalika entered the room more worried about what her companions were going to say and do than what Mr. Alexander Belwor had in mind for them. She immediately plans to use her skill of diplomacy to maintain order in the room and keep them on Mr. Belwor’s good side – at least until they’re out of reach of the guards (I have to roll or something for this?). Kalika also wonders why such a large assembly has been called, and knows there must still be more going on than meets the eye. She’s also wondering why her group was so quickly and unreservedly allowed into the back room to speak with Mr. Belwor. Surely there’s other adventurers at the assembly who have similar questions and concerns they’d like addressed… But it was she, Nathan, and Alton who were here now, so worrying about the other adventurers would have to wait. She did have questions and she wanted answers. Kalika chimed in with the others voicing her concerns, questions, and sentiments – using as much diplomacy as possible. Then she looked around at the others, back at Mr. Belwor, and they waited for a response.

Due to everyone’s rolls, the kings spokesman has divulged certain information… But not everything! Sir Belwor listens to your comments and questions while sir Alfonse stands by the door glaring at the backs of your heads. “The king realized that his announcement would most likely bring on more questions than answers. The offer the announcement expounded is in fact real, but it was also a tool to discover which adventures were smart enough and driven enough to question their king rather than lay down and take it at face value. Our king is infallible as you know but it is not always in his best interest to appear as such. This seemingly ill-advised request is a ruse.” Sir Belwor is obviously a man who supports his king wholeheartedly. “The fact of the matter is this: the king has asked me to search out smart, talented adventurers for a special task deserving a special reward. The announcement was a tool to find such people. You will not be asked to go to coalition territory and instead will be given the option of undertaking a special mission of some importance to the kingdom.” His straight face darkens ever so slightly as he continues. “of course there is another matter that would have brought you before me weather you came to ask questions or not.” He glances at sir Alfonse for a moment. “And that is the matter of swindling and assaulting a knight of the realm, a serious offense.” You can almost sense the twisted grin growing on sir Alfonse’ face. Sir Belwor looks at him for a long moment before continuing. But when he speaks again it is with that kind smile back on his lips.

Nathan nods in agreement, waiting to hear more…

Kalika looks around at the others and decides not to say anything about the darts game until directly accused. She plans to keep using her diplomacy skill and hopefully get out of there safely and with much greater understanding of the King’s plan. She looks back at Sir Belwor, and seeing his smile, is slightly comforted. She relaxes slightly and waits to hear more.

“Swindled you say! I don’t believe it. Never seen this mans behind me. Last night, I was at a seedier inn with friends. There was a belligerent drunk, but surely knights of the realm don’t hang out in seedier locations. Also, no one touched the belligerent man, instead he feel on his own accord into a table. So mes feels that you should continue to explain your kings problem.”

Sir Belwor smiles his warm smile when he lets the bomb drop that your group may be on the hook for “assulting” a knight of the realm. However, his smile seems to calm you and you arent too worried. the way he continually glances at sir alfonse has you wondering what he has up his sleeve. “to be honest, under normal circumstances, i would be honor bound to have you thrown in jail and prosecuted.” he glances at sir alfonse again. “but we have a special situation here. and due to the fact that sir alfonse has been “swindled” one too many times for it to be anyones fault but your own.” sir alfonse comes forward with a pleading look on his face. “Sir! this is an outrage! i have a right to their punishment!” “i outrank you alfonse! i dont HAVE to do anything!” “when my father hears of this…” “I’ve had enough of you hiding behind your father and his money. you’re dismissed!” Sir alfonse storms from the room in a huff and sir belwor composes himself “in actuality the mission we had planned on giving to you was to be given to sir alfonse, but he has become… unreliable… of late and we can no longer indulge his indiscresions”

Nathan turns to the others with a slight grin and then points at Alton with an accusitory finger, “This is all your fault!” he then laughs, obviously joking. “What a little spoiled girl?! I concur with the Sire’s notion of unreliablity. I wouldnt trust that guy as far as I could throw him!” He chuckles a little, hoping the rest of the room joins in on his taunting of Alfonse. As the laughter dies, he turns his attention back to Sir Belwor and says eagerly, “So what are the details of this so called ‘mission’?”

Sir Belwor looks at Nathan with a small glare. “I may have admitted that he isn¹t as reliable as I would like, but I will not stand for anyone slandering a man under my command. Regardless of his current situation, he used to be a friend and that still counts for something.” Sir Belwor continues to tell you of your proposed mission “Sir Alfonse is our head scout and if you take up his mission while we disipline him then you would be filling his boots. All we want you to do is seek out a small party of kidnappers who have kidnapped some servants of the nobility from the city. The people themselves aren’t all that important but we need to appease the nobility if we are to retain their support.” You find it slightly disturbing that sir Belwor would say that the servants aren’t important, but you chalk it up to him being a soldier. “The servants may be carrying things of value to the Mercian noble houses and we would like those returned as well. The kidnappers were last seen heading South on the road to Three Docks. They are probably going to try and get a boat in Oak Bridge but I have reports of the ruins of Eramathan being used as a bandit hideout nowadays.” He breaks from his recitation and looks at the three of you. “I am not forcing you to do this but your help in this matter would be greatly appreciated… And rewarded.”

Alton listens to the man talking and ponders a bit when he finishes. “I’m in, but first I want to know if we have to rescue them all alive. I do not knows how these bands will react when we enter their hideout or ambush them on the trail, and I want to be assured that no harm will come to mes or my friends if we cannot rescue them all alive.” Alton looks at the other two waiting for their responses.

Sir belwor nods at your question, “of course we will not begrudge you should a hostage or two fall during the raid but we may be less inclined to give you a substantial reward should too many of them be killed.”

Alton nods to the man. “Fair enoughs! I’m in. But I would like more clarification of the reward. For instance, will it be monetary? What use does a woodsperson,” He points to the elf,” have for money after all? Will it be land? It seems a bit wierd that you have not detailed a sum for this service. “

“To be honest, we hadnt really though about a concrete reward for you yet. Alfonse was a knight of the realm and did missions like this out of duty.” Sir Belwor ponders things for a moment. “we could offer you any number of things I suppose. Free lodging and meals while in town, some horses maybe, information, some sort of deal to ignore someones criminal record perhaps?” Sir Belwor smiles at you. “if you like, you could decide whats fair price for a job like this.”

Alton nods as he listens to the man. “Free food, you say? Information? Criminal records? I’d take free food and any information you could give me about just about anything. But a criminal record? I have no idea what you are talking about? No criminal records here to speak of.” Alton grins and he winks at the man.

Kalika senses the pause in conversation and is awoken from her deep thought. She had been taking in everything that the man was saying and trying to figure out what was in this for her and what motive she would have in going. The way the men talked about the servants was alone enough reason for her to go, she thought. Not caring if they survived… only caring that the nobles be made happy and their possessions returned… silly humans and their possessions, Kalika thought. But… maybe there could be something in this for her… She wasn’t quite yet ready to return home and was still looking for some adventure. And maybe, just maybe, if they were successful, she’d be able to get the government to place some forest under protection for her elven community to live in… Plus, she still wasn’t sure if going on this mission was optional or not… She could choose not to go and then what? ...she’d have the whole of the Mercian government and nobles against her… and they’d probably shun her elven community, too… No, what her community needed most was allies, not enemies. Kalika looked up at her companions and then over to Sir Belwor. “OK, I’m in.”

Nathan realizing that Kalika has just volunteered decides theres nothing else going on in his live and taggin along with an real wood elf would indeed be something worthwhile. Nathan nods and says, “I’ll go too”

Sir Belwor smiles widely when you all agree to undertake the mission. he shakes each of your hands in turn vigorously. “Thank you so much brave adventurers! you are doing your country a great service and will be rewarded in kind!” he leads you out of the small meeting room and into a building adjacent to the assembly stadium. it is a squat stone building with small slits for windows. the door you enter through is made of heavy wood reinforced with thick strips of iron. two guards salute sir Belwor as you enter the building. “this is the barracks in case you are wondering and my office is located here. you should get whatever supplies you need in town and then head out the west gate of town and try to catch up to the kidnappers to the southwest.” Sir Belwor shakes each of your hands again and waits for any questions you might have before heading into his office.

“Sir, I believe we are forgetting an important matter! The reward for such a quest has not been agreed upon. i know not what will satisfy the other companions but I for one will not be risking my neck for nothing. What did you have in mind for each of us? Also, I have been thinking. none of us are familar with the land to the east where we might be trekking. Would it be possible to borrow a guide from the city? No soldier would be necessary as we are more than well equipped to take care of ourselves but it would be nice to have someone with us who knew the lay of the land.” Nathan pauses as if finished with his requests and then pipes up again. “Oh and what sort of equipment might we need for such a trek? I have most of the gear that any adventurer might need but I do not know the dangers we might face and if we knew where we were going, what type of terrain and climates to expect, we might be able to prepare ourselves a little bit better than usual.” As for supplies, Nathan is already well prepared for any journey since that is what most of his time has been spent doing over the past year or two. After Sir Belwor dismisses them, Nathan leaves the barracks to gather up his supplies and saddle up Jack, his donkey, for an extended adventure. He even decides to open up a little to his companions and when he meets up with them again, he graciously offers to lend out some spare room in Jacks saddle bags. “Take a little weight off your shoulders my friends. We are traveling into unknown territories and we might need all the energy we can muster. Jack will be more than happy to carry some of the load.”

Sir Belwor finally lets you know what the reward will be in a sort of tone that lets you know that he has repeated it many times before. You surmise that you aren’t the first group of adventurers that he has hired. “our government give a standard pay rate for outside help. That pay is 2gp a day minus any equipment you borrow. We keep guides around the barracks if you need one. They have already been paid by the city so you wont need to worry about paying them. I’m sure it wont be hard for you to find one around here. They usually love their work and volunteer readily for jobs.” Upon leaving sir Belwor’s office you stroll through the barracks looking for a guide before heading out of town. A scrappy looking young man approaches you. He is not in a soldiers uniform and you assume this is one of the guides sir Belwor was referring to. The man looks to be about 14 with a lean build covered in knotty muscles most likely from hard living on a farm or something. He smells like farm animals but only slightly, like he at least attempted to wash himself before coming to the city. “hi there!” he exclaims, taking off his knitted cap and bowing slightly. He is dressed in the poor single layer of farmers clothes, obviously handmade by his mother. His face is scrubbed clean and he flashes a quick smile that reveals a mouth of slightly stained teeth. This boy is obviously a hard worker. “I couldn’t help but overhear that you might be in the market for a guide!” The boy kneads his hat in his fists. He is new at this and clearly hopeful that you will take him along with you. Perhaps he needs the money badly, you think. “my names Peterson! Gabriel Peterson. I’m the best guide this city has to offer. I grew up around here and know every back road and deer path between Brian’s port and Oak bridge! if you’re looking for a guide, then I’m your best bet.” The boy is obviously anxious because he was just hanging out in the barracks. You surmise he was waiting there while you were in the meeting with sir Belwor and knew you would need a guide. He probably listened to the portion of the meeting that took place there.

Nathan stammers in disbelief…”you’re kidding right?! We are no ordinary commoners off the street sir! We deserve more than your standard goverment wages!” Alton could go slit open a coin purse in 20 minutes and get more than 10 gold pieces. I can’t imagine we’re the first group to go out and try to follow these kidnappers or robbers. Has anyone been on this task before? Surely if this was such a “standard” task, you wouldnt be hiring randoms picked out of a crowd of adventurers. You’d just ask 5 of the men in this here barracks to go out, cut some throats and get your stuff back. There’s no way I am doing anything for 2 gold pieces a day. I spent 2 gold pieces on lunch yesterday and I’d be using my own rations and gear on this adventure if we so accept. You sir, can find someone else!” Nathan continues to mutter under his breath, something about “being outrageous” and “cheap goverment” can be overheard but nothing you can be sure of. He waits a few moments for Sir Belwor’s reaction and if no reaction comes from him, he motions to Alton and Kalika to see what they think.

“Sir Belwor” said Kalika turning on the charm and using her adept diplomacy skills to sweet-talk him, adding on to Nathan’s outburst “You seem to have contradicted yourself… When we were just in your office you said that you hadn’t thought of a reward for us yet, and that Sir Alfonse did these things out of duty. You then went on to say that we could decide what would be a fair price for a job like this.” She paused, surprised at her abruptness and upfrontness with an unknown man… Then, after a moment, she suggested, “Maybe the three of us adventurers could discuss what would be a good reward and I’m sure we can agree on something that you’ll think is reasonable as well. Something like an amount of gold up front, and then, if we’re successful in our mission, you could grant each of us something, like protection, a clean record, or gold…” She trailed off suddenly feeling very unsure about this mission and hoping she wasn’t soon going to regret agreeing to assist Mercia. With Nathan grumbling a couple feet away, cursing the government and the large government official standing in front of them… and there was a scrappy looking boy who kept anxiously looking at them around the corner of the building… “Oh, one more thing” she continued hesitantly, “I will be needing to pick up a couple of supplies before we head out. Are we going to be given a sum of money to use towards purchasing supplies, or are we to take it out of our reward? Either way, I’ll need to run back into town for a moment.”

Alton listens to the back and for of everyone. He turns a shade of bright pink when Nathan describes his line of work, but quick lets it pass hoping no one saw. “Nathan, here is right, and so is the elf ladies. Two Gold per day you say? No whats my incentive to do this quickly or without delay? None as I see, best to just walk along and stop for food every hour.” Alton nods.

Sir Belwor rubs his chin for a moment. “you are absolutely correct. I must be so used to dealing with unskilled laborers that I offered you an unfair price.” People from Mercia are usually fair traders but usually like to get a good deal. Its no wonder sir Belwor tried to pay you the going rate for a job that obviously requires special skills. “I could pay you as much as 10gp per day, plus bonuses. You can stock up on rations and things like rope here at the barracks. Weapons are mostly bought and maintained by the soldiers here so you wont find many of those for sale. As a bonus for your mission, if you perform above and beyond what is expected of you (retrieving the hostages) then you will be rewarded extra somehow upon returning to the city. If you can gather information about these thugs, proof of kills, how they pulled of the kidnapping, who they are working for, maybe even bring one back alive for interrogation. Any of these things would warrant extra rewards.” Kalika’s wise, even toned words have coaxed extra recompense from the tight purse strings of sir Belwor and the time of departure draws near. Any other preparations should be taken care of now, lest the kidnappers slip away completely, robbing you of any reward whatsoever.

View
Introduction and Assembly

Introduction- The farmland surrounding you is a rich golden color as wheat, ripe for harvest, sways gently on the breeze. The paved road carrying you to Freeport is wide and obviously well traveled, although not many people are in sight at the moment. The occasional farmhouses you see are splendid Tuscan courtyard homes set back from the road on dirt cart paths. Some have small private gardens with what appears to be olives and tomatoes as well as other vegetables growing for the houses kitchens to use. You can see farmhands tending the fields and children at play. A gentle warm early autumn breeze blows across the fields as you crest another hill. At the top a sign reads “Freeport – 1 mile” and looking beyond the sign and between two hills you can see a bit of the town resting on the bay. A few ships can be seen passing the temple to Semorjon, their blue and gray flags displayed prominently as they enter the harbor. A few minutes later you are passing under the arched gateway into the city. The farmland left behind, you take in the new sights of the metropolis. It seems that the harbor can be observed from almost anywhere in the city. In fact you soon realize that the city is a large crescent shape surrounding much of the harbor. Heading down to the waterfront you discover that most, if not all of the businesses and restaurants are oriented towards the water. If you are to find anything in this city then you are to find it by the water. Taking in the views of the inner harbor, you think back to a few days ago. The messenger dispatched to most of the surrounding towns and a few of the friendlier neighboring nations said “if you¹ve a mind to aid the nation of Mercia in a matter befitting an adventurers skills then be present at an assembly of great importance in the amphitheatre of Freeport on the 10th day of “Spellebb” fortunately for you, the weather cooperated and you have arrived with a few days to spare. The amphitheatre can easily be seen from the harbor and the entire city is laid out before you. Restaurants, shops, markets, guildhalls, residences, and inns are all visible from the harbor. With a little time to kill, your biggest challenge now is to find something to do until the assembly is called.

Nathan walks into town enjoying the wonderful weather that he has become so accustomed to. With the occasional wave and nod to the people working outside the city, he makes his way into town as inconspicuously as possible. Unfortunately for him, hes a half elf with a donkey in tow so he draws a considerable amount of attention with all his possessions and weapons hanging at his belt. Making his way down to the harbor he takes in the scene as the boats bob in the water and people make their way to and fro. The breeze is very pleasant and prompts our hero to head towards the nearest tavern and book the nicest suite in the joint. “A view of the ocean is necessary my good man! and a balcony if possible!” he demands to the inn keeper.

Chance Meeting: To Alton: While wandering the city and taking in the sights of the harbor you notice a small band of what look to be adventurers. Eyeing them up you see them walk over to a man apparently in the employ of a local inn and ask directions. The man is attending to a pair of horses that seem too riled up from not being used to the city. The man calms the creatures handily before steering the group into the inn that he seems to work for. You surmise that this man must know a little more about the city than you do… Perhaps he has been here longer or is more knowledgeable about Freeport. The man appears half-elven, which is obvious even from this distance and dressed for traveling. That is all you can glean from where you are.

Aldon examines the man from a distance. He instantly sizes up the man as best he could. Years of his profession has helped him in estimating the wealth, intelligence, wit, and strength of those he meets randomly. He doesn’t always mean to do this…or at least that’s what he lets himself believe, but its usefulness has definitely been noted before. He studies the man from his distance for a while trying to remain unnoticed. He spends time determining if he can figure out if he is a member of the guard or a local, or a traveler that might have settled for a while. Either way he remains watching just to see exactly how this man behaves. The thought that he might have found his first mark begins to enter his mind, but he waits patiently preparing to stalk, or maybe, someone who’s knowledge of the city could get him into places he doesn’t belong.

Your examinations, however unintentional, reveal at least some things about the man. He is dressed as a traveler, which tells you that he is not a local and probably not a member of the city guard. He is tending to horses as a job which lends itself to a person in need of money, so he most likely isn’t rich. You overheard him giving directions to the adventuring party so he must know a little about the city, but he calmed those horses easily so he must know a thing or two about the wilds. You cant tell much about his intelligence or wit from a distance but that isn’t surprising. He seems to notice you but isn’t paying you much close attention as he concentrates on his work.

Alton thinks about what he has learned about the individual. Not rich, not a member of the guild, and a horse tamer. Nothing of note to him in those details, but his knowledge of the city might prove interesting. He decides if he’s going to take advantage of all the wealth that has come to the city he might as well see what he can learn from this man. He pulls his dark cloak with him as he sets off towards the man with his small stride. As he approaches he shouts: “Hey Horse Tamer, names be Alton. I wonders if you could give me some help.”

“Oye! Hello there sir. My name is Nathan, what can I help you with? Nathan responds in his clearly fake “customer” voice as he turns from his duties to face in the direction of the shouting voice. Noticing the cloak man as he approaches, his head begins to swim with thoughts and assumptions of the mans possible inquiry as well as his strange attire. “Who wears a dark cloak this early in autumn? I guess you never know how the weather might change” He thinks to himself. Clearly not paying much attention to anything but his own thoughts.

Alton’s short halfling stride carries himself to the half-elf gingerly. He cracks a friendly smile and removes the hood covering his features. “You look like you’ve been in this job for some while or enough to get you aquainted with the town. Mays I ask you a few questions about the layout of the city?” Alton peers at the man then spits out his questions trying not to seem completely odd in his surroundings. Does this city have a sewer system? Are all parts of the city connected by the sewer system? Is the city divided by wealth? After asking these questions, Alton explains that he use to be in charge of sewer maintainance in many towns of the halfling homeland

Nathan was hoping for a more interesting inquiry, or at least something he could answer. Instead he shrugs and replies, “Not from around these parts sir and don’t usually spend much time down in the sewers neither. Id reckon one of the locals may be able to help you better. Only been in town a few days and just started here at the pub to earn a small wage and learn what i can. Unfortunately the cities sewer system has yet to come up until now…” With that Nathan dismisses the stranger and turns his attention back to the horses. Mindful of the little mans action out of the corner of his eye, he watches the man to gauge his reaction. As he waits he begins to count the days hes been here in his head..and wonders when this adventures meeting will start…when he realizes… “Oyi! Sir! Are you an adventurer as well? You wouldnt happen to know when the ceremonies are supposed to start?!” (nathan exclaims in a upbeat tone”

The short brown haired halfling ponders the answers the man has given him. Alton looks down at his feet pondering the suggestion about ask one of the locals, but given what he wants to due with the information, decides against it. Then suddenly, he has an idea. He beams up at the half-elf and exclaims an a rather excited voice: “Aye, yes I’s be an adventurer of sorts. I’s guess thats what yous can call me. I’s have traveled a great distance because of the meetin thats suppose to be happening. But I’s seem to be in the same position as yous. I’s don’t know when its going to start, probably going to announce it via a crier or messanger. Do yous know what exactly the ceremonies are for…and do you think they will let us into the castle…” With the last sentence a flash of gold appears in his green eyes, but just when you think you’ve noticed it for sure, it disappears and the small halfling continues to grin.

Nathan lowers his voice a bit and says, “I dont know when the ceremonies are…but i reckon theyll be happening any day now..I doubt theyll be in the castle though, dont seem to have much going on in there and working here prevents me from keeping a good eye on the coming and goings.” Nathan, ponders what his eyes see and quickly makes a check for his coin purse. assuming its still around or at least close to normal weight, he ignores the fleeting feeling and continues on with his duties.

While your conversation continues you begin to notice a steady stream of people flowing to one of the major roads through town. Some people are trotting or running and they appear to be rushing to catch a glimpse of something coming down the road. A murmer rushes through the crowd as something comes into view. Soldiers of Mercia are telling people to keep clear of the road as a small military convoy of wagons and horses move towards the keep. As the convoy rolls by you manage to get a look at what they are escorting. One of the wagons appears to be a jail cell with a man inside. The man inside is probably the reason the convoy drew such a crowd. The man does not have the look of a criminal but in fact looks much like a noble or at least a high ranking government official. He is wearing the colors of Mercia, blue and grey and from the murmers of the crowd around you appear to be a well known official. “oh my gosh, I thought he disappeared days ago!” “I never liked that Dinotario fella.” “I wonder what he did?” “I heard he didn¹t leave the city alone.” “I heard he took something from the royal family!” The rumors continue and you wonder how many of them are truthful and how many are just speculation. Apparently excitement is running through the city right before this assembly is to occur. With the assembly slated for tomorrow events look to be transpiring ahead of schedule. Perhaps the assembly will clear up many of your questions.

Alton watches as the caravan approaches. The moving jail cell and its prisoner holds his attention for just a few seconds. Instead the growing crowd is what attracts his green eyes. While looking around he tests the pockets of many of the individuals in the crowd feeling around for lose coin, or small items that they may be carrying in their pockets. For those that have money pouches, he quietly works out his dagger from its boot sheath and slices the ties so that it falls into his hands. He does not discriminate with is targeting, but instead looks for anyone of opportunity, which with all the distracted people should be just about everyone.

Wow look at all these people headed this way. Something must be going on” With that comment, Nathan packs up his tools, stables the horse he was tending to and heads inside to let the manager of the tavern know of the growing crowd outside. He grabs his few belongings he has with him and bids the tavern owner farewell. He steps back outside only to glimpse Alton moving into the crowd unnoticed. He catches a flash in his eyes like the sun reflecting off a shiny blade. He follows Alton into the crowd to investigate and continue their conversation. As he makes his way through, the other rumors and conversations flow to his ears and he begins to piece together the importance of the man held within the cage. Obviously something is going on and he plans to at least entertain himself for a while and perhaps learn the location and time of the ceremonies to come…

As the crowd disperses after the caravan departs, groups of people linger and discuss the recent events. Pieces of their conversations drift over to you. “that¹s what the king gets for picking a non-native to serve as one of his advisors” “I heard he has been missing for a few days” “come to think of it, that¹s the first time I ever saw him alone” “a short drop and a sudden stop for him if he did” “I thought he was sick” “he must be up to no good if they put him in a jail cell like that” “I heard he stole something from the king” “I’ve noticed a lot more patrols leaving the city” Apparently they are discussing this Dinotario fellow that was in the cell a short while ago. The conversations go on for a while and the sun slowly dips towards the horizon and afternoon gives way to evening. The taverns and inns of the city are alight with activity, you assume because of all the commotion today. With the assembly tomorrow questions swirl through your mind that you hope will be answered within the next 24 hours.

As the crowd clears a slight grin becomes noticeable on the face of the young Halfling. His eyes dart to and forth looking at the individual walking away. He chuckles to himself and pats his own coin purse with a gesture that almost seems lovingly. Suddenly, his eyes catch the half-elf walking towards him. Alton’s eyes widen as if almost to show a sense of panic, but he quickly reverts to a normal demeanor. “Ay, Elf man…”, He ponders for a second. “I mean Nathan.” He adds a small grin. “Where yous going? Yous definately have more stuff then when I saw you in the crowd; One of the few I’d reckon.” And with that last sentence he lets out a trickle of laughter. Obviously, something he knows is rather amusing. So much activity, Alton thinks to himself. “Looks like the commencement might happen tomorrow.” He looks at Nathan. “Will yous be there, because if so I’m pretty sure I can meet yous there. Going as a group might give us more of a presence and more of a chance of getting to here what the King has to say. But thats another matter for a later time, I need to celebrate. It’s time to get a drink.” He grins abit and pads his pouch and waits for the Half-elf.

Nathan sits around mingling with Alton and some of the other adventurers and townsfolk. He converses with a few people and questions them on the history of the kings advisor as well as possible information on the kings missing items. He glances at Alton as he questions about the stolen goods, wondering how long Alton has been in the town and if he really hasnt been to the palace yet. He checks his coin purse once more to make sure its contains are still with him and then proceeds to the biggest and best tavern in town. Tonight seems to be a huge event and nathan sure doesnt want to miss it! The excitement in the air is contageous and its been awhile since hes been out and about. He accompanies Alton to the local tavern and looks to get a few drinks and make some friends.

Kalika was wandering along the shoreline collecting shells and stones when she heard a commotion coming from the center of town. As she looked up, the wind caught her long black hair, whipping it into her face. Something big was happening, she thought, and placing her collections into her bag, she walked into the city to see what was going on. Kali had already missed the cause of the excitement, but her keen ears picked up the townspeople’s comments from blocks away. Hearing that the scene was caused by an official of Mercia, who had been captured and paraded through the streets in a cell, and knowing that this would definitely impact the assembly the following day, she decided to find out more. She went to the pub she’d visited the night before upon entering the city. The bartender had told her to come back anytime, with a sly grin, which was actually lucky as she didn’t have much human money… Kalika walked through the darkening streets and entered the dimly lit, smoke filled pub. Her keen green eyes scanned the crowd quickly. They seemed to almost glow in the darkness. There were people of all different races present in the pub – “must be all the adventurers,” she thought. There were tons of humans, several dwarfs and Halflings, several other elves, and a couple half-elves – just on first glance. The only open seat in the bar was at a table where a half-elf and a shady-looking dwarf sat. As she walked over to their table, Kali unfastened her gray traveling cloak. Even in the dimly lit bar, her cloak shimmered, as the elven material it was made from was able to catch the light, as well as keep her protectively camouflaged. Walking up to complete strangers was completely out of character for her, but she reasoned that as she was alone in this city, she could use some friends, or at least learn some information. She hesitantly approached the table and asked, “Is anyone sitting here?” Without waiting for a reply, she sat down and said with a smile, “Hi, I’m Kalika. Wanna buy me a drink?” She was aiming for funny, and wasn’t sure if it went over well with the guys or not.

The Tavern: As Kalika settles into her chair the tavern resumes its bustling chatter after surveying the newcomer. Plenty of drinks and stories are shared friends are made and from the looks of a game of darts a few enemies are being made as well. Most likely due to the money changing hands over the game. Introductions can be made easily in this festive atmosphere. “so I clobbered him and took my chair back!” “AHAHAHAHA” “Anyway, nobody ever suspected it was his brother the whole time!” “I swear! as long as my arm!” “ALE!” :burp: Everyone seems to be excitedly waiting for the assembly tomorrow and are enjoying their time off.

Nathan meanders into the bar with Alton nearby. His eyes take a few seconds to adjust to the dim lighting as he looks around for an open seat. He sets his cloak in one of the open booths and nods towards the waitress. “A pint of ale if you please…” he asks upon her arrival. After she returns with the pint, he begins to sip down the frothy brew and starts his usual eavesdropping. Eavesdropping has become one of Nathan’s favorite things to do since traveling across the nations is usually a very lonely trek. He welcomes the company of Alton and feels a little better knowing that he wasnt the target of Altons blatant thievery. To each their own though..Not really Nathan’s style but he was never one to judge. The long day begins to set in on Nathan as he takes another swallow and begins to stare off into space, listening to the conversation around him. After taking in some conversation he walks around the bar, mingling, watching Alton has he hustles some gents at the dart game and even stops by the one group who made the comment ‘Anyway, nobody ever suspected it was his brother the whole time!’. He asks a few questions to see if he can gather any more information about the adviser and the history of the whole affair. After that he returns to his table, casually making sure another mug full of ale has arrived at his table. He licks his chops and considers ordering dinner when the long haired, woodsy looking elf walks in. The resemblance is similar to that of her mother but then again most of the elves look the same. Much like those darker fellas that work in the fields. (haha) When the elf suddenly turns toward his table he lowers his head and stares into his glass, haphazardly reaching for a nearby menu… Nathan listens to her as he greets her in that sweet elven dialect that he rarely gets to hear… and proceeds to choke on his beer and spit it back into his glass when she asks him to buy her a drink. “Not really shy are you miss…?” He questions. “My name’s Nathan, and you best be sure to watch out for the little halfling over there playing darts. He’s Alton..and a friend of mine” He pipes assertively as if having a halfling as a friend was something to be proud of…

Alton enters the bar with a spring in his step. He marches straight up to the bar and plops down in an empty seat. He chuckles to himself as he fingers a few of the new coins. He looks over the bar, just a bit below his eye level, and exclaims at the bar tender,” Me and mys half-elf friend are going to need two of your best drinks.” He nods excitedly. After ordering, he quickly surveys the rest of the patrons. Certainly drunk, but certainly not rich enough to rob. He sighs and listens to the talking. It takes him but a few minutes to notice that darts are being played for money in the corner and he attempts to wiggle his way in. Silence strikes the bar, and Alton turns his attention to the door and watches the elf enter. He ponders for a minute and then notices she sits down next to Nathan and his empty chair. The Half-elf knows even more people in the town! Perhaps befriending this stable man was a great idea… After playing darts, he attempts to introduce himself. “Hellos, Lady elf. Names be Alton. Halfling by births. Sewer cleaner by trade. Pleasure is to meet yous.” He grins while quickly measuring up her net worth and extends his hand in greeting.

Kalika was about to ask why she should watch out for the halfling when he approached and extended his hand to her. She surveyed him, saying, “Hello, Alton, I’m Kalika. Your friend Nathan and I were just making acquaintances.” Then she turned to Nathan and said, “I’m sorry for just busting in on you like that. I’m not used to being around this many people and figured I should at least try to introduce myself to a couple people. So are either of you from around here? Do you know what the plans are for tomorrow? Have you heard anything about that Dinotario they carried away earlier -” Kalika suddenly stopped talking and blushed. She was nervously asking tons of questions since she felt so out of her element… crowded bar in the middle of a bustling city… not exactly the woods, was it?

The introductions continue and the activity in the bar rolls on into the night. Drinks are shared and the patrons begin to thin out. The three adventurers enjoy a few drinks together and quickly become acquainted. Stories are swapped and tales and told. (feel free to do this later or now if you want) suddenly a voice peels through the crowd apparently directed at your table. “YOU! You took my money!” The voice belongs to a man dressed in a blue and grey tunic with brown wool pants and soft leather riding boots. He is holding a dark green cloak and a travelers hat. A dagger is stuck in one boot and a pair of gloves accompany an open purse at his belt. Apparently he is one of the men who was playing darts and in the process of closing out his tab discovered his purse was significantly lighter than it should be considering he WON the dart game. “It had to be you! You were the only one who smiled when I beat you! Give me my money back!” He is obviously drunk and appears to be staggering slightly and slurring his words a bit. He lunges for Alton and knocks the table over as he reaches for the halfling.

Mes! Steal Money!. Not possible. I am a sewer cleaner from the north,” Alton exclaims as the man points and throws his complaint. Something glints in Alton’s eyes quickly, and you realise that he as a certain facination with causing and getting into trouble. Maybe, perhaps, he did take it, but he’s never going to admit it. Just then the man lunges at him, Alton jumps quickly out of the way easily avoiding the drunk and awkward man. He has a grin on his face, he has either been in this position before and has experience to back him up, or he’s quite insane. “But say look at the time….I think I should be leaving.” With that line he winks at Nathan and the elvish lady makes his way quickly towards the door. “I meet you tomorrow half-elfs and lady elfs. Don’t worries…I’ll find yous!”

Kali jumps up from the table just as the man lunges at it and knocks it over. She stands, her green eyes fixated, watching horrified as the drunk man reaches for Alton and then as Alton avoids his attack and flees from the bar. She turns to Nathan and says “Now I see what you were warning me about. I can’t believe you called him your friend.” Then she thinks to herself, “this is why I usually avoid citys like this and people like that. I hope I’m not going to become associated with him…” She grabs her cloak and throws it over her shoulders, the gray fabric shimmering as it flies through the air, but then somehow allowing Kali to blend into the dim background. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow at the assembly,” she says to Nathan. Then checking the straps on her leather, lace-up boots, she leaves the pub and heads toward her campsite in the woods. “Hopefully Nailo will be there waiting for me,” she thinks to herself as she hurries along the deserted city streets towards the woods.

Nathan chuckles at the hilarity of the situation. Alton finally getting what he deserves and then blantantly avoiding the conflict. Since Nathan was seen with Alton for much of the evening and shared some laughs over at the dart game, he decides its best to be on his way. As the bar enters an uproar, he grabs his posessions and motions towards Kalika and the exit. He side steps the man on the floor and makes his way into the darkness of the night. He quickly takes a turn down the alley nearest to the bar and waits to see what might come spilling out into the street after them. Alton and Kalika can take care of themselves but he surely doesnt want to be followed back to his occupancy. Assuming no one follows him outside, he enjoys the evening by traveling down some of the streets, greeting fellow travelers. He stops by the stable to spend a few times brushing his donkey Jack and eventually makes his way back to his room to prepare for the next days events. If Kalika or Alton manage to turn up during the rest of the evening or after the barroom incident, Nathan obviously takes some more time to get to know them and swap manly stories.

The bar seems to be in an uproar about the disturbance but nobody makes a move to stop you from leaving. Apparently it is just a booze fueled ruckus and a reason to be louder than normal. The chilly autumn breeze greets you as you step into the night and make your way away from the bar. As you are making your way to wherever you plan on lodging for the night you notice three men walking back the way you came. They are all wearing blue and grey tunics, green cloaks, sturdy boots, and travelers hats. They appear to be talking amongst themselves. ”...Fourth time in a month. I think he cant handle the big city.” “its orders, lets just find him and bring him back like we were told.” “fine but I’m not grabbing his arms this time, last time he nearly flipped me through a window!” The group moves along and their conversation soon becomes unintelligible. The night is aging rapidly and the assembly is tomorrow. Sleep beckons.

When I get back to my campsite I’m going to spend some time with my panther, Nailo. I guess its not technically a campsite… I’m just staying in the woods… where do elves sleep? trees? Then, since I’m an elf, I don’t have to sleep, but I will meditate for 4 hours. I also need one hour of prayer to Obad-hai to get my spells. The spells I’m going to meditate for are: 3 lvl 0, 2 lvl 1, 1 lvl 2, 1 lvl 3. Lvl 3 – Summon Nature’s Ally 3 Lvl 2 – Wood Shape Lvl 1 – Cure Light Wounds, Obscuring Mist Lvl 0 – Create Water, Detect Magic, Know Direction

I would also like to rise early and use my search ability to look for gems, shells, or anything of value to me on the beach.

Nathan makes his way back to the Inn, checks on his donkey and then retires for the evening after a brief check of his gear and such. After finding everything in working order he takes a long time to fall asleep thanks to the swirling thoughts of tomorrows activity in his head. He plans in his head as he lies there to pay off his room and board fees, get Jack from the stables and make his way over to the assembly area a little early after a hot breakfast.

Alton shuffles out of the inn into the darkness and quickly becomes untraceable. He spends his night searching for a dry sewer to sleep in, he spreads out a table cloth he liberated from the earlier tavern and kicks aside the trash and leaves. He hardly sleeps that night instead he lays awake pondering tonights occurances. He grins as he thinks about his earnings tonight, but most importantly, he thinks about the two strangers that he met in the bar and street. The half-elf seemed nice enough, and didn’t seem that put off by his shinangans. However, the elf seemed to be a bit agast at his thievery, but he’s gotta live some how. In the morning, he gets dressed and ensures his dagger and crossbow are ready for him at any moment.

You spend the dawn hours searching the beach but there is nothing of monetary value in the sands. You do however find several attractive shells and sand polished stones. The deep purple hue combined with the white in thick bands. Your panther enjoys your company for most of the night before taking her leave to hunt.

The night passes with ease for the three of you in your respective locations and the city seems to be in a peaceful slumber. The night drifts away and dawn is soon upon you. The city comes alive with the rising of the sun and vendors soon begin hawking their wares all over the market squares of the great capital city of Freeport. Housewives and hired help are busy shopping here and there for their daily necessities. Ships sail to and fro in the bay and the noise of the dockworkers drifts into the city on the sea breeze. Midday soon arrives and the traffic moving towards the amphitheatre begins to increase. Most of the people you see are common townspeople coming to hear what the royal spokesman has to say. Others you see are plainly adventurers for hire, their weapons and armor in varying degrees of quality and use. Most of these people have sharp eyes but some are jovial, like they are going to see a sporting event. When you arrive at the amphitheatre (I assume you go there) the seating is rapidly filling. The adventurers are afforded a section towards the stage while the townsfolk seat themselves in the sloped portion of the stadium.

Kalika returned to her camp from her morning stroll along the beach, admiring her newly found treasures along the way. She’d found a couple smooth rocks and several very pretty purple and white shells. ‘These shells would make wonderful jewelry.” she thought to herself. She dressed for the assembly, wearing tradtional elven clothes of a black cloth dress, her gray/translucent/comoflauge cloak that she had inheirited from the woman who raised her, Mae Rose, and she laced on her leather boots. She combed her long black hair and washed her face. The entire time, Nailo, her panther companion, never came by. ‘She must be out hunting,’ Kali thought to herself while packing up her camp and hiding her bag in the trees. Once she was finished, Kalika headed down towards town. Even though the city was alive with activity and the streets were crowded, Kalika found she was still a little early to head into the assembly, so she browsed through several shops and then stopped in the local inn to talk with other adventurers and hopefully find the half-elf from the night before. He seemd to be a decent fellow, even if his companion was shady. “But,” Kalika thought, “Alton was nice enough, and as long as he doesn’t steal from me or cause me too much direct trouble, I don’t mind him. He seems to be a nice enough guy.” So Kalika walked into the inn and took a seat at a table. She had about an hour to kill before heading over to the assembly.

Nathan awakes early in the day as the sun begins to rise over the eastern shores. He readies himself for a full days worth of events by packing up all his belongings in the most sensible and organized manner. He decides that most of the heavy items will stay with his donkey to lighten his burden except his weapons and armor which might be necessary. He starts off by putting on his casual attire and heading downstairs for some morning porridge. The warm oatmeal warms his innards on this cool autumn morning. He eats his bowl clean by himself and then casually walks back upstairs, sending a passing word to the innkeeper “big day today sir!” He straightens his room, to leave it like he found it and washes up in a small wash basin. Bathes are rarely available and this might be the last one he gets in a while. As he cleans up his hair and nails, he ponders the possible meaning of this assembly and what the king might need adventurers for…

“was someone kidnapped? maybe it was a princess?! nooo why would he need all these people. The kidnappers might just contact the king directly for ransom…hmm possibly something has been stolen. Quite the object if it necessitates this many people to search for it. Must be very valuable! I wonder if its every person for themselves or if this is some sort of team event. Perhaps I am way off base..for all i know were about to be stretched from the gallows for being in town with weapons during an assembly. Or maybe a series of events pitting adventurers against each other! Who knows...”

As his mind wanders he dries off and gets dressed. His attire is composed of decoratively styled brown calf high boots, typical brown pants, a lacy frilly white shirt which is partially hidden by his thin metal chain-link vest. Over it he wears a heavy gray cotton vest, meant to conceal the armor that lies beneath it. On his belt he sheaths his weapons and usually carries a medium sized green canvas backpack. (more details to come later since i cant remember all my descriptions here at work)

Nathan assembles his things and, with a significant spring in his step, makes his way over to the stables to pick up his “horse”. Jack is obviously quite excited to see him with all his belongings, which typically signifies Jack’s departure from the caged environment of the stable. Nathan pets him gently and greets him with whispers of long and eventful journeys. He securely fastens the saddle bags and loads up Jack with some non essentials such as his rope, tent, and a few days worth of feed for jack when he cant find decent grass. The donkey holds his head proud as he exits the stable, obviously showing off for the horses and other such animals stabled there.

They make their way through the crowded streets and even stop at a few stores to browse through some of the sale items and interesting goods. Nathan is specifically looking for a new traveling cloak as his has several snags and pulls from his “off the beaten path” travels. “I think i should go with burlap…maybe canvas…i don’t really know Jack…then again what do you know about traveling cloaks?!” Jack snorts in agreement…”what i really need is something of elven quality. That stuff is so hard to find and when you do it costs 2 years wages! Only a few gold pieces in my pocket and the money i did have before leaving home was spent on all this traveling gear. Oh well, well find something someday!” Jack snorts again…but clearly not as optimistically as before.

The two make their way towards the assembly area and Nathan posts Jack up near the entrance of the assembly location. Much of the day was wasted in shops and stores and the time has finally come to assemble. Nathan makes his way down towards the front of the seating area, hoping to be as close as possible to the kings words so as to hear them more clearly…for every detail may be most important! As he waits for the assembly to begin he glances around, looking for familiar faces. Unfortunately his friend from last night has yet to turn up and even if he had, spotting someone so short would prove difficult in such a crowd…

And what about that elven woman….. perhaps she will turn up as well…

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