Mercian Intrigue

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.

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