Session 12 (Part One)
When we last left our intrepid band, they had finally reached the outskirts of civilization in the form of the Two-Headed Stag and Wayhouse
. After an entertaining "Bard's Duel", the party prepares to continue their journey to Oar.
The Big City
Brigit joined them the next morning over a bountiful breakfast of eggs, toast and bacon, chatting amiably about the contest the night before and road ahead to Oar. She was as gracious in victory as Sextus was in defeat and the two got along famously. The saar
indicated that they had a 2-day journey ahead or one-and-a-half if they pushed hard. She told them that the road was patrolled by troops of the ruling Merchant’s Council and was considered fairly safe.
She did, however, warn them about the political situation in Oar. “The biannual election for the Council approaches and the political infighting this year is particularly nasty! The ‘greens’ and the ‘reds’ brawl in the streets daily whilst the ‘stunties’ keep a low profile and work behind the scenes. Old man Sestius is trying to pack the Council with his cronies, but the stunties will give him a tough fight this time around!”
The party’s collective ears perked up at the mention of the Sestius
name and Quintus noted that Drusilla fought hard to control her emotions. Further discussion with Brigit yielded the following information:
- The Merchant’s Council was the ruling body of Oar. It was “elected” every other year from among the leading merchant families and concerns in town. Political factions in town included the “Greens” (led by Antoinine Sestius), the “Reds” (led by a loose coalition of other human merchants) and the “Stunties” or halflings (representing the various halfling merchant houses). The run up to the election consisted primarily of vote-buying, intimidation, poisonings, stabbings, shifting alliances and street brawls between the various factions.
- The halflings were able to stay above the fray, largely because of their immense economic power. Outright attacks on the halfling candidates or merchant houses would result in a boycott and economic ruin for the offender. This left the “Greens” and the “Reds” to battle it out for second place, which both factions did with relish!
- The election was about 2 months distant and both human factions were re-doubling their efforts in a final push to “get out the vote” (or kill the other factions voters).
Brigit named the current council members, although she warned that one or more might have been permanently withdrawn from the race due to death. They included:
- Nolius Bramthin (Halfling Faction)
- Firthin Battenhorn (Halfling Faction)
- Antoinine Sestius (Green Faction)
- Koldric d’Beck (Red Faction)
- Matron Leonir (Unaligned, but thought to be stepping down)
Council aspirants included:
- Vandorus Skibbereen (Halfling Faction)
- Octavius Rook (Red Faction)
- Del Vandross (No known affiliation although rumors circulate that he is a “Green”)
- Tavorius Creed (Green Faction)
Thanking Brigit for her timely information, Quintus inquired after her saar
troupe. She indicated that they had traveled northeast to the Monrovian Highlands about a year ago, but she decided to stay at the Two-Headed Stag
. The party finished their breakfast, packed up their gear, made their farewells and departed down the Oar Road under a warm summer downpour!
Within the hour, they were soaked through and through, but the rain didn’t carry the “bite” of the weather around Glynden. Just past midday, several in the party caught the ringing of metal on metal and muffled curses. Hefting their weapons and closing ranks, they moved forward cautiously.
Around a slight bend in the road, they found a young farmer with a heavily laden produce wagon drawn by two dilapidated horses. The left rear wheel of the wagon was bent and the young man was trying, unsuccessfully, to fix it. The party approached quietly, alert for signs of an ambush. They closed to within several paces of the oblivious farmer before speaking.
“Do you need some help?” Lew called out.
“Gahhhh!” The farmer dropped his hammer, stumbled to the front of his cart and pulled out a gnarled cudgel before spinning about. Seeing the number in the party, he dropped the club and stammered, “Please don’t hurt me, take the team and the goods but leave me with my life!”
Quintus, suppressing a grin, waved him into silence. “We don’t want to hurt you…we asked if you needed any help.”
The farmer, still clearly frightened, stood stock still as they approached.
“The wainwright said the rim would hold, but it bent again ‘n I can’t seem to get it straight.”
Quintus looked at the wagon wheel. He had no experience with wagon wheels, but he had straightened a mining cart wheel or two in his day. “Mind if I try?”
The farmer nodded is ascent and two deft whacks later, the wheel rim was as good as new!
(DM’s Note: Quintus rolled a natural “20”!)
The farmer, who introduced himself as Kordas, fell all over himself thanking the party. “I can’t really pay you, but you can help yerself to a bushel of turnips if ya want.”
“Are you traveling to Oar?” Quintus inquired. Kordas nodded and the sorcerer continued, “Then perhaps we can travel with you and the lady can ride in the wagon with you.”
A slow grin crept onto Kordas’ face as he noticed Drusilla for the first time. “Absolutely, Cap’n, whatever you say!”
Kordas caught Quintus’ scowl as he held his gaze on Drusilla a bit too long. The farmer quickly ducked his head, coughed and suggested they get moving.
The rain trailed off before nightfall and the party could see, with increasing frequency, small crofts and stone-lined fields planted with summer wheat, turnips, carrots, cabbages, corn and hay. Kordas proved to be quite talkative…unfortunately, most of his knowledge centered on farming, the weather and his aching back. Rowan guessed the farmer to be no more than 20 winters, yet he was already bowed by his labors. It was soon clear that Kordas was a simple man with simple dreams, content with his uncomplicated life.
As they set-up camp in a small grove of trees, Lew asked Kordas if he could look at his back. Initially reluctant, Kordas quickly relented and Lew examined the farmer’s lower back. The priest quickly determined that the man’s spine was slightly out of alignment.
“Hold still, now, this may hurt a bit!”
Lew mouthed a silent prayer to Osirian and popped Kordas’ back into alignment. A resounding “crack”, like that of a rotten branch being stepped on, echoed across the encampment. Kordas let out a high-pitched scream of pain and then fell silent. For a moment, Lew thought he had killed the man, then the farmer let out a “whoop” of joy!
“Bless me! It is a miracle! You are a miracle worker! My pain is gone!”
DM’s Note: Another natural “20”!)
Kordas jumped around the campfire for a moment, dancing an off-beat jig, then grasped Lew by his hands. “You have healed me and worked a miracle! First your companion fixes my wagon and then you fix me! Osirian be praised!”
Profoundly embarrassed by the young man’s display of emotion, Lew disengaged and replied, “ I am able to do that which Osirian provides.”
Lew did take the opportunity to discuss the mercy and goodness of Osirian with Kordas, who proudly admitted going to the Cathedral every chance he got. When Lew pressed for how often he attended services, Kordas beamed, “I go at least twice a year! But now I will go even more often…praise be to Osirian and his miracle worker Lew for taking my pain away!”
The rest of the party exchanged smiles over Lew’s new “hero” status and over his general discomfiture with being in the limelight.
The weather cleared during the night and the remainder of the trip to Oar was fairly uneventful, although Kordas continued to sing the praises of “Lew the Miracle Worker”! They encountered increased traffic on the road in the form of farmer and merchant wagons, pedestrians and a Merchant Council cavalry patrol. The patrol consisted of a dozen men, accoutered in lorica hamatas
and armed with spathas and lances, atop big horses. The traffic cleared off the road as they approached – Kordas and the party followed suit.
As the patrol thundered past, one of the cavalrymen yanked his mount out of the column a stone’s throw past the party. He glanced at each one in turn, his eyes lingering on Rosë’s hulking form and Drusilla before he spun his mount and spurred ahead to catch up with his fellows.
Kordas informed them that the Council imposed a “gate tax” of one denarii for each person or animal that entered the city, plus additional tariffs for trade goods. Rowan inquired as to how much Kordas would be required to pay.
The ranger nodded and quietly slipped the farmer the coin. Kordas shook his head in amazement at the generosity of the group. “True miracle workers,” he mumbled to himself, a wide grin across his simple face.
Quintus had inquired after suitable inns to stay in. Kordas only knew of two – The Boarding Pike
, located along the wharf in the Dock Quarter
and the Bright Lady
, a newer inn run by “stunties” that was located just outside the city gate.
“I would stay away from the Pike
unless you like bad ale and good brawls,” Kordas warned. “Them sailors have nasty tempers!”
As he was speaking, they turned a corner and the walls and gate of Oar hove into view. Sextus whistled through his teeth, visibly impressed. The whitewashed walls of Oar were half-again as high as the massive fortifications that enclosed Glynden, with the battlement soaring 30 paces above the ground. The towers added another five paces atop that. Blue flags with 5 white stars flapped lazily in the afternoon breeze and a queue of wagons and travelers awaited entrance into the city. A large wooded hill, topped by an impressive looking fortress and ringed by large villas, rose inside the city to the left of the gate. Enormous steeples and bell towers of what could only be the Cathedral of Oar commanded the center of the city.
Rosë stopped for a moment and gawked. He had been impressed with Glynden and was amazed by Oar. “Never did I know men could build such things!”
A gaily-painted three-story inn, with numerous outbuildings, lay to the south of the road just before the gate. A huge sign announced The Bright Lady Inn
. After a brief discussion, they bade Kordas farewell and wished him luck at the market.
“Goodbye, miracle workers!” He called over his shoulder. "I promise to visit the Cathedral every chance I get, Brother Lew!"
Quintus entered the Bright Lady
while the others waited outside. The staff seemed to be all halflings and several well-dressed patrons were enjoying delicious smelling meals. A sandy-haired halfling called out from behind the bar, “Greetings sir, I am Ronjeur! How may I help you today?”
Quintus inquired after room and board, barely managing to keep a straight face as the diminutive proprietor rattled off the room tariffs. Quintus nodded his thanks, “Let me speak with my companions.”
Sputtering angrily about “gouging stunties”, Quintus rejoined the group. “Lew, do you think the Cathedral might give us shelter? The prices here are outrageous!”
Lew (who had earlier suggested they seek lodging at the Cathedral) sighed and nodded is head with a “see, I told you so” look on his face. The others nodded in agreement and they joined the line waiting to enter the city. It was nearing nightfall when they reached the shadow of the massive gatehouse. Closer inspection of the impressive walls showed numerous cracks and other signs of neglect. Several bored looking guards in studded leather and armed with long spears and gladius’ watched as a pinched-faced tax collector and scribe accosted each entrant.
“Name and goods to declare,” the pinched-faced man whined in a nasally, yet officious, voice. The young scribe beside him waited patiently, quill pressed to parchment.
Lew stepped forward and brandished his holy symbol. “I am Brother Gandlewyn of Glynden and I have business at the Cathedral.”
“Very well…one denarius and pass through.” The tax collector’s boredom was readily apparent. “Next.”
Quintus stepped forward and gave false names for the rest of the party. Lew gritted his teeth at each falsehood and he met Quintus’ eyes over the shoulder of the tax collector, holding them for a long moment with obvious displeasure. The names were duly noted and, after a perfunctory search of Josephus the Mule, a tax of one denarius each was leveled and the rest of the party was waved through. Rowan noted the murder holes in the roof of the passage under the gatehouse.
(DM's Note: Lew (who is LG) gets very put out by some of Quintus' schemes. I will post Lew's log a little later that details his feelings in greater detail!)
As they entered the city, their senses were assaulted by a myriad of unfamiliar smells, sights and sounds. The sharp “tang” of sea air hung over the city, mixed with the smell of woodsmoke, rotten fish and slops. To their combined amazement, the streets were made of cobblestones and several men in leather smocks and large sacks were placing wooden ladders against 5-pace high wooden poles that lined the main street at regular 20-pace intervals. As they watched, the men climbed up the ladders and pulled leather coverings off wooden globes set atop each pole.
The soft glow of Continual Flame
spells soon illuminated the main avenue that wound through the city towards the Cathedral. Close-packed buildings of stone, most three or four stories height, lined the main road and numerous alleys and side streets forked off from the avenue at irregular intervals. As the party slowly made their way through town, a slight figure leaned from one of the alleyways, regarding the group intently from behind for several long moments before darting away, chuckling quietly!
To Be Continued…
Next: Session 12 (Part Two) – The Cathedral of Oar