CB's The Sunless Citadel v3.5

Current calendar reckoning is CY 596, month of Reaping (first month of high summer), 4th Waterday of the month.

Oakhurst is nestled in the Archclericy of Veluna, a nation of LG inclination. His Venerable Reverence, the Canon of Veluna, has recently been handed a vote of no confidence by the College of Bishops and the Celestial Order of the Moons. Seven members of the College of Bishops have been rumored to be inflicted with madness and an incurable wasting disease. His Venerable Reverence, the Canon of Veluna put out a call to healers and theologians across the Flanaess, hoping that someone would step forward to aid Veluna's afflicted council. Unfortunately, those afflicted within the College of Bishops desired the Archbishop to cease and desist and in an effort to undermine the Archbishop's authority, the College of Bishops manuevered to have His Venerable Reverence declared incompetent. Both Veluna's allies (Furyondy and Verbobonc are the strongest) and enemies (primarily the Empire of Iuz and Ket) sit on their heels, watching and waiting to see who will rise to power when the dust settles between the College of Bishops and the Celestial Order of the Moons.

Oakhurst, however, is a small town on the northern border of Veluna, near the southern end of the Yatil Mountain range. Oakhurst's rural nature and distance from the large city of Mitrik have left the town largely isolated and ignorant of the troubles plaguing the Archclericy of Veluna. To the north of Oakhurst are the foothills of the Yatil Range. A recent improvement, the New Road as locals call it, runs north-south directly through Oakhurst, passing by the town's central shared well. The Old Road runs in to Oakhurst from the west and deadends where it intersects with the New Road, near the Healer's cottage. Roughly a day's walk to the west lies the Ashen Plain, a flat expanse of former meadow burnt to cinders beyond even the ken of the oldest storyteller in Oakhurst. Once out of town, the Old Road cuts to the south and heads toward a deep ravine, where an abandoned fortress lies deep underground. Oakhurst's constable, a half-elf named Felosial, believe the goblins with whom the town has an uneasy truce lair somewhere within either the ravine or the old fortress itself.

Grotzkoshter, Karl, Elyan, Kiaphas, and Korgrave are but little known to one another. The half-orc Grotzkoshter has been working as porter hauling casks and barrels for Garon, the Ol' Boar's proprietor, for the last several months. The work is unassuming and pays little, but the free room and board in the cellar at the Inn provides Grotzkoshter with both a place to sleep, a full belly, and time to spare in his off hours. Karl, who has traveled overland from the barges drifting the river separating Furyondy and Veluna, has only recently arrived in Oakhurst the last three days. Out of work and low on funds, Karl has been looking to fill his belt pouch with a few coins before continuing his journey west across the gap between the Yatil and Lortmil Mountains. Elyan, the fair young human of Suloise ancestry always accompanied by a dog, entertains nightly at the Ol' Boar Inn, earning but a few silver marks from the evening crowd. Kiaphas, a long-bladed elf and obviously a devout follower of the elven god Corellon Larethian, returns to the Inn nightly after spending his days in a manner unknown to those gathered at the Inn. In the last two days, a squat half-orc with a poorly shaved and balding head has frequented the Ol' Boar once or twice daily for meals. The squat half-orc eschews the company of others and has quietly remained seated at a side table.

The Ol' Boar bustles this hot midsummer night. Farmers and field hands trek to the Inn's tavern to regale one another with tales of eight score bushels of wheat harvested with naught but a lone scythe in the wee morning hours. A pair of plumb serving lasses, one costumed in a cornflower blue bodice and the other with yellow ribbons in her hair, busily serve ale and clear dinner dishes inside the tavern. A gaggle of small boys in dusty breeches crowds outside the Inn's front window, peering in vain at a thick piece of tanned leather tacked with carpentry nails to the Inn's outer wall. Grotzkoshter, Elyan, and Karl, already inside the inn with a tankard at hand, read the annoucement tacked outside the front door an hour earlier. Kiaphas, having made his way from his daily travails to the Inn just a few short minutes prior, also stopped a moment to make out the annoucement. Korgrave, approaching the exterior of the Ol' Boar Inn from the north end of town, stops short to read the tacked up piece of tanned leather.

"--Family Hucrele seeks the return of two of our kin.---
---For the safe return of Talgen and Sharwyn Hucrele,---
---Mistress Kerowyn Hucrele offers the right of salvage---
---and a reward of 125 gold crowns per signet ring per---
---mercenary recovered from either Talgen or Sharwyn.---
---Should either Talgen or Sharwyn be found and returned---
---to Hucrele Manor of sound mind and body, the offered---
---reward shall be doubled.---

---Signed, this 4th Waterday of the month of Reaping, CY 596---

----------------Mistress Kerowyn Hucrele----------------"
 

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At sunrise earlier in the day, Grotzkoshter sweeps the Ol' Boar's tavern floor with a large broom, singing and whistling to himself. Gathering the dust from his sweeping effort, Grotz goes out front to dispose of it elsewhere. Another day comes, dam bam pam. Stopping just shy of the tavern's thick wooden front door, Grotz spies the notice tacked up to the left of the door. Hmmm, what's that? Leaning forward and reading the newly message someone nailed earlier in the morning to the Ol' Boar's outer ediface, Grotz narrows his eyes. Mistress Kerowyn Hucrele, I know her. Talgen and Sharwyn, I have no idea who is Sharwyn but Talgen is a common customer over here. Scratching his head and continuing to read, Grotz stops and stares at the bottom of message in surprise. "125 gold!" he says loudly, looking around in panic to see if someone overheard him. Wow I can use that amount of money to free mom. Thoughts working overtime, Grotz dumps the pan of dust outside and returns back into the heart of the tavern.

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Inside the Ol' Boar Tavern and Inn during the middle evening hours of a midsummer's night, Elyan sits perched on a wooden four-legged bar stool resting on a slightly raised dais. The bard, his dog Rogue lying beside him, begins a song for the diners inside the tavern. "And now, a little ditty I've written just for you. I give you Farmer Phyp and the Fantastical, Flying Farmhand: a story of love, betrayal, magic and massive yields."

Karl, a half-orc oarman recently arrived in the small town of Oakhurst, sits quietly at a table in the tavern, nursing a mug of ale. He adjusts himself uncomfortably in a chair designed for a human and pulls his hat down further over his eyes. Sighing heavily to himself, he reaches down and places a pouch on the table. He opens it up and looks dispondantly in at it's meager contents.

The sign near the door came back to Karl again. It was a lot of money. . . and it was helping out someone who seemed like they needed it. But then again, it really wasn't any of his business, and all sorts of dangers lurk around for the unwary. But 125 crowns. . . maybe if he found someone to help him.

Looking up and glancing around the taproom, Karl's eyes skimmed over a few simple farmers, serving girls, the bard that might have been a useful type if he wasn't blind, before finally settling on the barkeep's massive half-orc hired keg caddy. Hmm. . . it had possibilities. He certainly wasn't likely to be scared off by Karl's looks. Finishing his tankard and leaving the clay mug on the table, Karl walked over to Grotzkoshter and sats himself nonchalantly nearby.

"You read the note?"

Elyan sits atop a vacant table near the Boar's common room hearth. After a few quiet notes piped through on his recorder, a fieldhand or two go silent and leave off their conversation in favor of listening to the magic of Elyan's music. Even Frodlein Johnston, Oakhurst's resident grump, sets down his clay tankard of nutty brown ale to lend the music an ear. Elyan plays his ditty, earning the obvious favor of those gathered at the tavern, not the least of which is young Margaret Allswist, the barmaid with curling yellow ribbons twined in her brown hair.

While Margaret flashes a simpering look Elyan's way, Elyan finishes his piece. The folk in the room linger in stilled pleasure after the music's end but soon enough return to their conversations and suppers. The din inside the tavern quickly reaches its former bustle. Elyan overhears a pair of human farmers seated at the table opposite the hearth in a friendly argument. A ruddy faced farmer in his early forties frowns at his younger companion opposite and hotly retorts, "Thass a load o' bunk, Von. Yer young ears've been lent one time too many ter that pretty young wife o' yers. I tell ye and I tell ye plain, there ain't no buried keep in that ravine. There's naught but a pack o' rats roaming that rent in tha earth!"

At the long polished wooden bar of gleaming waxed oak, Garon the barkeep flips a linen towel over one shoulder and shoots a meaningful look toward Karl and Grotzkoshter. Turning his back to the pair of half-orcs but clearly keeping within earshot, Garen begins to replace a row of newly washed clay tankards and mugs on a shelf below the bar near a tapped keg of ale.

Elyan steps down from the table. Calling Rogue to guide, he begins to make his way to the two farmers he overheard. Just then the young barmaid contrives to step in front of him, so that he bumps into her. Recovering his balance quickly, he reaches out an arm to steady her and smiles.

"Ah, Margaret, I hope I didn't hurt you. You've a busy night tonight, I'd say. Don't work too hard - and if any of these rowdy farmers give you trouble, you just let me know!" He takes her hand and raises it to his lips. "Let me compliment you on your perfume - it's very distinctive."

"Rogue - guide."


Moving over to the farmers, Elyan greets them and says, "I overheard you say something about a buried keep in a ravine? Please, if I may join you, tell me more. It sounds like a most interesting story - or, if true, an exciting adventure just waiting for someone. Are you thinking, Von, that you might like to explore?"

Just as Karl initiates conversation with Garon's half-orc assistant and Elyan plies young Margaret with courtesy, a third half-orc pushes open the Ol' Boar's front door and steps inside the tavern. His head shaved bare, save for the odd patch of missed stubble, Korgrave the half-orc uncomfortably manuevers 'round bar tables and human customers. Having suffered only meager provisions found of late in the marshes outside Oakhurst, Korgrave has been needing to head into town every couple of days for supplies. It's not a long treck, but it's one he doesn't much like. The people of Oakhurst seem distrustful of him and often either give him a wide berth or act as though he did not exist (he has yet to figure which he prefers). Though he's done nothing to earn thier distrust, niether has he done much to gain their trust either.

It was this thought that was on Korgrave's mind as he made his way through town to the Ol' Boar this evening. Having found that he prefers coming here and buying food rather than going to the market for a couple of reasons: the tavern patrons seem a bit more accepting, provided he stay quiet and seated; he doesn't have the braver (or more foolish, perhaps) of the young boys throwing stones or running by slapping him on the thigh or back as they jibe each other for higher standings in thier social circle by tempting fate and risking his ire; and the stares he does get on occasion do not say "I am watching you as I know you would kill me and take everything I own if I turn my back to you."

No, of all few places he's visited in town, the Ol' Boar is by far Korgrave's favorite, if it could be said that he had one at all. This day, though, something is different about the place. Korgrave steps up behind the people reading the piece of leather nailed to the inn's wall. "Pardon me," he says in his best, mean-orc voice. The startled citizens turn and pale visibly at seeing him right behind them and hurry off, trying not to show too much fear. Korgrave's face splits into a wide grin at the sight of the peasants hurrying off, then fades as he turns to read the posted message.

Hrm, he thinks. This could be just the thing I'm looking for. Oakhurst is not such a bad place, if I could just let people know I'm not here to harm them. Perhaps if I accomplish this mission, I may earn thier trust and respect. Though, I must say I do so enjoy giving a good scare on occasion.

With that, Korgrave steps into the inn and heads for a table in the back, giving the barkeep a nod on his way in. As he does so, though, he notices two fellows sitting at the bar and he stops dead in his tracks for a moment. What's this? Two more half-orcs? That's an odd thing to see...

Realizing that a few people are now staring at him as he stands there staring in turn and his already colored skin deepens a bit as a flash of heat rises to his cheeks. Korgrave hides it as best he can and tries to find a table near enough the two half-orcs so that he might listen in on thier conversation.

Margaret nearly drops her empty cork serving platter at Elyan's soft words. With an appled blush and a titter, the young lass scuttles for the kitchen door.

At Elyan's question, the young farmer starts to open his mouth in eager reply but a dark look from his older companion silences whatever comment might have been forthcoming. The older ruddy-faced farmer answers instead and by the tone of his voice he deems to size Elyan up. "Ye play a fine ditty on yer flute, Master Bard. Me missus's 'eard wind that ye've been 'ere an' I confess ter ye that she's near ter killin' me, askin' me e'ery meal ter bring 'er in fer a listen. When me corn's threshed, mayhap we'll come ter sup. Will ye be 'ere in Oak'urst a long while?" The ruddy-faced man leans in for Elyan's reply, interest writ plain across his face.

At the rush of air billowing into the tavern as Korgrave opens the Ol' Boar's front door, Garen leaves off eavesdropping on Karl and Grotzkoshter in favor of calling out a welcoming, "What's your pleasure this eve, Master Orc? We've the same nutty brown as before, but Mistress Sally's been warming a leg o' mutton in the spit all afternoon. For a mark and four pennies, I'll have Trudie bring you a tankard and a plate, if you wish."

Karl's eyes twitch nervously upwards at the sound of a new arrival and then they pause returning the slightly puzzled glance from Korgrave with a startled look of his own. Karl quickly glances back down at the table again before he can be accused of staring.

With a curt, "Yes, Master Garon," Grotzkoshter hurries to bring another keg of fresh ale to the customers. When he returns he sees his new friend Karl, who only recently arrived in Oakhurst, Grotz shakes his hand and smiles. "Yeah, it's a lot of crowns friend. I can use some...maybe we should enquire about it tomorrow? Now let's drink." Grotz takes a large swig from his ale and looks at the newcomer. Turning to Karl, Grotz quietly says, "Hey,look at this guy who just entered." Grotz follows this up with a nod to gesture at the half orc who just came in.

Elyan, having approached the table of two farmers, continues. "Ah, Master Farmer, I stay as long as there is an appreciative audience and a good fund of tales on which to base my songs. I would be honoured if you brought your goodwife to hear me. I tell you what, tell me your names and I'll write a song just for you. A little ditty about a married couple - he hardworking and just a little henpecked, she past the first blush of youth but robust and nurturing, both of them honest, straightforward and still deeply in love. What say you? Would she come to hear such a song? Would that give you pleasure?" Pausing to catch his breath and gauge the farmers' interest, Elyan again continues. "And if you know any tales of adventure around Oakhurst, I would be grateful to hear them. Such things are meat and drink to me - literally, for without new stories to tell, new songs to sing, I gain no patronage, and cannot stay overlong in any one place."

The elder farmer breaks into a hooting bellow of a laugh at Elyan's portrayal of his marriage. "Why, the missus'll no doubt be best pleased by the likes o' yer honeyed tongue!" Wiping a stray tear of laughter from the corner of an eye with a heavily callused red right hand, the farmer reins in his mirth and continues, still chuckling, "Still madly in love, indeed. Me thinks a'ter nigh on twenty yahrs o' a marriage bed I'm luck ter still 'ave me hide in one piece. The missus 'as a temper, she does." The same callused hand shoots out toward Elyan for a handshake. "I'm Eldred Thrasherson." Pointing to his younger companion who looks to be in his early twenties, the farmer continues. "This's me youngest brother, 'ubert. An' I reckin it's 'ubert 'ere who as tales aplenty ter spin fer ye. Go on, 'uppie, tell 'im what ye were tellin' me a moment past."

Farmer Thrasherson gets up from the table with a wink and heads past the kitchen, presumably to relieve himself in the outhouse back behind the inn's stables. Hubert Thrasherson, left momentarily alone with Elyan, quickly blooms spots of red in both cheeks and palms his nearly empty tankard in hesitation.

Elyan singles out the younger farmer once the elder brother departs. "So, Hubert, please tell me these tales. I'm all ears." Grinning at his private joke, Elyan stretches out his slender legs and waits patiently for Hubert to begin.

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Sauntering through Oakhurst, Kiaphas's spirits were lifted after finally getting some info from a farmer a day north along the New Road who saw two elves travelling that way. The last few days had been frustrating; no one had seen his parents leave and Kiaphas had started to suspect foul play of some sort.

The Ol' Boar now in sight, Kiaphas quickens his pace just a little, still mulling over his recent discovery. The farmer's description leaves little doubt in my mind, they must have been headed to Highfolk, no doubt Iuz's forces are stirring in the Vesve. Well that clears me of that worry, but leaves me without direction. Ah, well. Something will turn up. I hope Goran's received a new shipment of wine from Highfolk as of late the choices at his inn have been lamentable. About to enter the tavern, Kiaphas peers ahead at Korgrave examining the notice tacked up outside the Boar's front door. Another half-orc?! Though this one's far shorter than the mountain of muscles Goran recently hired. What's he looking at? A notice? Another oddity he can read!! As the bald half-orc moves into the tavern, Kiaphas moves quickly to take a look at the notice. Well mistress Hucrele, offers a tidy sum and a task that suits me as well seeking out these missing siblings. Interesting the Half-orc gave this more than a passing glance--perhaps he well take up this task as well?

Striding into the bar, Kiaphas call out to the proprietor. "Goran, have you any of the Highfolk Red? I am dry as the Ashen Field."

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Hubert clumsily beckons to the blue-bodiced barmaid, Trudie, for a new tankard of ale. With raw hands that fumble for four copper pennies from a breeches pocket to pay the maid, Hubert's pale blue eyes light with uncertainty. "I'm not caring what me brother's sayin'. Helen saw it, plain as day, she said. An' not three nights past at that." Hubert pushes his coppers to the edge of the rough-hewn wooden table where he and Elyan are seated. As Trudie approaches with a fresh round of ale, Hubert casts a last rueful glance at his departing pennies before clutching his new tankard close in hand. Leaning forward and speaking in a conspiratorial whisper, Hubert relates the tale his young wife told him of having seen two leather-clad goblin folk walking a large leashed rat during the grey pre-dawn hours near the couples' small farm cottage a half-hour's walk north of Oakhurst along the New Road. "Just as she were hangin' up the bedding, Helen says ter me, she swears it true, she does. Says she saw them two yellow-eyed mongrels with a rat tha size of a roundhouse o' hay at the end o' a leash o' some sort. Saw 'er, they did, an' gave a right ruddy start. Hightailed it ter the Plain, according ter my Helen." Hubert takes a draughty swig off the top of his tankard of ale. Wiping a bit of foam with the back of a sleeve, the young farmer continues. "I'd 'ave 'ad me missus in ter see tha constable, 'cept I'm certain I left the cellar unlocked. Mayhap me wife's been 'elpin' 'erself ter last yahr's cider." Hubert shakes his head sorrowfully at this last. "Ne'er marry a pretty lass. They allays make fer tha worst sort o' goodwife."

Goran, still looking expectantly at the newly arrived half-orc with the shaved head, turns the brunt of his attention toward Kiaphas as the elf enters the Ol' Boar. "Nay, lad. There's naught been a merchant wagon down from Highfolk in half a season. But I've still an Urnst white, left over from Richfest." Goran motions to a tall brown bottle covered in dust sitting on the wooden shelf above the bar. "If it's wine you're after, that or the house red are your choices. The Urnst is a crown a cup. If you're short on coin and can stomach it, the red's five pennies per."

From his spot beside the bar, Grotzkoshter motions to the bald half-orc to come and sit near himself and Karl. "Hey. This is Karl, a merchant of some kind I think." Grotz nods toward the hulking half-orc brute who sits before him. "I'm Grotzkoshter, refugee from Molag, I guard this place and work here. People around here call me Grotz. If you need anything just say." Leaning over to whisper conspiratorially at Korgrave, Grotz continues, "We have some good grog from the Pomarj over here. Old Garon is hiding it, not wanting the others to know, but our people," Grotz taps on his chest and nods at Karl before continuing, "are finding it to our taste." Grotz takes a last big swig from his ale and puts the empty mug inside a barrel of murky water, then places the wet mug back on the serving shelf before turning to Korgrave. "So. What are you doing in this place?"

Karl nods at Grotzkoshter's acceptance of his idea. That went easier than he thought. Hunching his shoulders and turning slightly away when he notices the barkeep watching him closely, Karl tries to be a bit more open than usual when Grotz invites the newcomer over, but is glad his tablemate is taking the lead. Karl decides to remain silent on the issue when he is introduced as a 'merchant'.

Korgrave flushes again when the half-orc at the bar waves him over. He ponders simply leaving for a moment, but figures if anyone in this town can relate to his concerns and feelings about the folk here, it would be these two. He slowly rises to his feet and joins the two at the bar. He places a mark and four pennies on the bar and listens to the introduction.

"I'm Korgrave the Ser... uh, sssssssssserpeeeeeent," he replies in a low and quiet voice. "I don't usually come into town, but the ressssssourccccccessssss in the marsh see..., uh, sssssssseem in sssssshort ssssssssupply of late. So I come here sometimes...ssssss, for sussssstenance."

Karl raises an eyebrow at the new arrival's sssslightly inconsistent silibantssss but then shrugs to himself. Who am I to question it? Still, someone who lives out in the marshlands should be a fairly self sufficient sort. Karl clears his throat and tries to catch Grotzkoshter's eye. Karl makes a vague sort of gesture, encompasing the three half-orcs and then points outside, where the sign was. Then he shrugs eloquently.

Grotzkoshter gathers the coins, then walks to Garon and hands him the coins. Grotz then goes to the backroom, returning after a couple of minutes with a cup slightly filled with a black liquid. "Here you go, Korgrave." Grotz hands the cup to Korgrave then looks at Karl before turning back to Korgrave again. "Say, we are looking for someone to help us find two lost people." Grotz nods to the sign on the door. "There is nothing like three half orcs to do the job...you could buy a lot of supply for your home in the marsh with the prize money. What say you?"

Garon sweeps the coins into a large change pocket on the inside of his green barkeep's apron. Sticking his balding head into the kitchen to call out the order, Garon moves away from the trio of half-orcs to speak with Kiaphas. Soon enough, Margaret bustles from the kitchen, her cork tray laid with wooden plates. With little formality, Margaret sets a plate of sliced mutton in brown gravy accompanied by rough-chopped roasted turnips and a thick heel of fresh bread in front of Korgrave. The lass moves quickly through the room, delivering other platters while deftly side-stepping chairs and customers.

On his way back from the outhouse, a ruddy-faced farmer enters the common room from the kitchen. At sight of the half-orc blood gathered in concert at the bar, the farmer turns visibly red and his eyes glitter with anger. The man says nothing but spits on the floor as he treads past Karl, Grotz, and Korgrave before re-seating himself at a table across the room where a younger man and the inn's current bard-for-hire sit in conversation.

"Ah, yessssss. I ssssssaw the ssssign as well. I was...sssss conssssssidering taking the job myse...ssssself. But as there isssss enough reward to go around, I would think three headsssss would be better than one, no?" Korgrave takes a few generous bites of the mutton and offers a hunk of bread to Karl before stuffing some in his mouth. He continues after washing it down with a long swig from the mug. "When were you thinking of st...sssssstarting the search? Do you have any leadssssss?"

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Kiaphas calls out his order to Garon. "The white, but you'll never sell the rest. I will give you 4 crowns for the bottle." Discretely eyeing the three half-orcs at the bar, Kiaphas thinks, Interesting...three of One-Eye's offshoots at one table, I wonder what they ponder? Perhaps the posting? Or are they up to no good?

Kiaphas takes the closest table 2 the Half-Orcs and sits looking intently around the tavern but avoiding glancing at the trio.

Grotzkoshter throws a wet towel on the counter when he sees the red-faced farmer, then turns back to Korgrave and Karl. "Ohh...I wish I could take him outside." Grotz rumbles in a low tone. "We'll visit Mistress Hucrele first thing on the morning and ask for the job, but I'm afraid she will have doubts about giving us the work. You know, they don't trust our kind, we need someone trustful to come with us, a priest maybe," Grotz looks around in despair and locks his eyes on Elyan, the blind bard. "...or someone they honor and love."

Karl shrugs at the farmer's rudeness and Grotzkoshter's angry reaction. He simply hunches over more trying to de-emphasize his form, falling in upon himself. He remains silent until the other half-orc finishes his train of thought. Karl's eyes dart sideways to follow Grotzkoshter's gaze and he can't help the incredulity in his voice. "Him?"

Garon nods at Kiaphas and reaches for the brown dust-coated bottle of Urnst vintage. "Four crowns it is, Master Elf." Grabbing a smaller sized clay cup rather than the customary ale tankard, Garon wipes the bottle off with a bar towel then uncorks the wine. Gently pushing both cup and bottle across the wooden bar toward Kiaphas, Garon collects and pockets Kiaphas's payment while saying in a low friendly tone, "Three in one room, did you ever think to see it in Oakhusrt, of all places? It's to be hoped that they aren't refugees from Iuz...that's the last kind of trouble we'd be needing. Still, they're respectful enough, and with coins to pay."

Kiaphas strains his ears to hear the conversation between the half-orcs at the bar and quickly picks up on the trio's interest in pursuing Mistress Hucrele's offer contained on bulletin nailed outside. Though Kiaphas doesn't hear every word uttered by the half-orcs over the general din of the tavern, what he does hear is enough to allay his fears that the creatures are interested in making mischief. The taller, skinnier of the trio in particular raises his voice somewhat loudly at the end of the brief conversation and looks at the blind human seated across the common room, saying, "Him?"

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Elyan, still seated at the table and in deep discussion with Hubert, presses the younger brother with a peppering of questions. "Two goblins, you say? Taking a giant rat for a walk? Now that is a wonderful story. Why it could be the beginning of a comic opera - or else of a tragic lay. It all depends what happened next." Elyan pauses half a moment. "You say they realized that your wife had seen them? How did she feel when they saw her. It could have been most dangerous. It's lucky they ran away." Nodding at Hubert's reply, Elyan continues. "Towards the plain? They have a lair somewhere there, don't they? I seem to remember someone telling me about that. In a ravine - or else in an abandoned keep. Ah yes, a setting more fit for gloom than humour - although the judicious application of bathos can be raise many a laugh."

The bard leans back a hair in a natural pause. "But I am sorry. Here am I, nattering about songs, and you are worried for your wife's safety, and her reputation. You are right to defend her to your brother! What is marriage, if not a pledge of trust and loyalty?"

His interest again pricked, Elyan leans back toward Hupert. "Tell me, are these goblins seen often around the town? Are they ... 'domesticated' in some way?

Grotz eyes Elyan as the bard is engrossed in conversation with a farmer. "Yes, him. I had a chance to chit chat with him a couple of times, I even fed his dog." Grotz nods toward the bard and eyes the dog that lies near the stage. "We can try to ask Corkie Nackle to help us, she is a gnome healer I heard, maybe she can help us. One way or the other, today is waterday, I'm working tomorrow and I'll be free on Freeday, the day after tomorrow, so we can search for someone to help us find those humans tomorrow."

"That'ssssss why I don't come into town often," remarks Korgrave as the farmer spits on the floor. Sloppily finishing his meal as Grotz ponders possibilities, Korgrave wipes his mouth with his sleeve and turns to see who his companions are talking about, absently picking at a scab near the back of his shaved head, causing a sluggish drop of blood to gather. "Well," he says in a soft voice, hoping it doesn't carry to the object of their conversation, "he seems to have a love of animals...sssss, sssssso he can't be all bad."

Hubert frowns and takes a drink before continuing, just as his elder brother re-enters the common room. "Helen? I were workin' a patch o' tubers nearer tha trees. Can't rightly say what she might a'done, though at tha noon meal she could no stop 'er tongue from waggin'. It took Eldred comin' tha next day fer a quiet chat wit' me Helen afore she'd leave off 'er stories. Can't 'ave folk thinkin' she's done gone an' lost 'er wit." Having spotted his brother approaching, Hubert downs a third slug from his tankard and leans in even closer. "'Mesticated? They come in at mid-summer, they do, sellin' one apple a yahr. Most perfect apple anyone's e'er seen, too. Me Aunt Janie says 'er cousin Matilda bought it one yahr an' durned if it did no cure 'er Ralph o' tha gout. But domesticated? No. A menace ter decent folk, if'n yer asking me. Why, three yahrs ago, I seen three o' 'em coming outta that ravine just west o---"

Eldred, spying his brother wagging his own tongue from across the room, hurries over to the table and stands red-faced with arms folded across his torso. Despite the older farmer's age, his arms are well-corded with muscle and his movement seems spry enough. In a rough tone, Eldred fairly well spits out, "It's high time we were returning 'ome, Hubbie." Casting a dark look over his shoulder at the half-orcs by the bar, Eldred continues. "Seems ole Garon's done gone an' lowered 'is standards more'n usual."

Leaving slightly less than half his tankard of ale unfinished, Hubert obediently rises from the table at his brother's rebuke. Eldred picks a hat up from one of the empty chairs drawn up to the table and dons it. In a somewhat milder tone, Eldred casts a look at Elyan. "Yer a decent sort o' lad, I kin see. But yer not safe 'ere in this tavern. There's three 'alf-men o'er at tha bar an' men o' their sort'd sooner spit yer bones fer roastin' than bid ye good morn. I warn ye 'cause I like ye." With that, Eldred turns and follows Hubert out of the Ol' Boar.

Karl keeps his eyes downcast, but watches as the scowling farmer and his companion leave the tavern. "Well, it looks as if he is alone for the moment, if you wish to speak to him, now may indeed be the time, before more barmaids or farmers have a chance to waylay him."

Garon raps the oversized wooden spoon kept at the end of the bar against a large ceramic filligreed plate hanging on the wall opposite two tapped kegs of ale. Regular patrons of the Ol' Boar, knowing that this is Garon's last call for food and drink, begin to pony up any coins owed and pack up their belongings. A few locals remain seated, however, lingering over nearly empty tankards of nutty brown. One man, a human fieldhand by the look of him, quaffs the last half of his mug and beckons to Trudie for a refill. Most of everyone else, however, filters out of the tavern into the darkening night.

Elyan remains in his seat. He stretches, raising arms above his head, then relaxes again. He thinks of the conversation he's just had. "So, Rogue, we have a hen-pecked husband and a harridan (no doubt with good reason!), a young man with a too pretty young wife, and her wild story about goblins on a midnight stroll - with a rat on a leash, no less. It seems to have all the makings of a fine comedy about it ... and yet my heart tells me that there's tragedy in the offing." His stretch finished, Elyan ponders quietly. "What of these goblins, and this magic apple? And what of that call for adventurers to seek a son and daughter lost to their loving family?"

"I wonder what other surprises the night will bring!"


Still seated at his lone table, Kiaphas considers his circumstances. Hrrrmmmmm, to join with these Half-breeds in this quest? They are not the companions I would have thought off but...t is said that their nightvision rivals their rougher half and if the local goblins are behind the dissappearance that would be valuable. And as much as my patron favors the blade, I prefer to a bow and they should prove more than capable of keeping my enemies at a range.... all this seems right, considering why I left Celene and Corellon's more entrenched Heirarchy. This may be his test, to seek out those who at first glance, seem least likely to aid the side of right in the likely wars to come. Well no time like the present.

Kiaphas grabs his chair swings it around and abrubtly sits down at the table with Grotz, Korgrave, and Carl. Smiling widely and staring very intently at each in turn, the elven priest speaks. "Well now, I overheard something about you three taking up Mistress Hucrele's commission. By the looks of it you have some scars and likely will acquire more, you will need a healer and that's me. I've got a fair eye and good ears--two of Corellon's many gifts and I can hold my own in battle. What say you, because it's last call and meal and bed are in my future."

Grotzkoshter, in the middle of calling to the bard across the room, "Elyan, Elya ..." stops and and looks in complete surprise as the stranger, and an elf at that, addresses the trio of half-orcs. What could he be wanting to do with three half-orcs in the same table, lucky for the pointy eared creature, most of the people just left the tavern. He just saved himself laughs and gossip behind his back. "Hmm.. you heard us. Hmmm..." Grotz stutters a little bit for he was just ready to call Elyan and invite the bard to the table. "So you are a Healer, of Corellon the Honorable? I'm Grotzkoshter. I guard this place and work here for Old Garon. We do need someone to help us, I say aye." Grotz looks at his new companions, waiting for a vocal approval or just a nod.

Karl starts nervously when Garon bangs the spoon on the counter, but a quick glance around shows that although other people are leaving, his new comrades are remaing. When the elf suddenly joins them, Karl sinks even lower in his chair and avoids eye contact. He is perfectly content to let Grotzkoshter do the talking for him. Still, he casts a sly eye toward the bard, to see if he heard the call.

Elyan is lost in his own thoughts and musings to Rogue when from across the bar, Garon's hired help, the half-orc known as Grotz, booms out and interrupted"Elyan, Elya--." As Elyan looks up at Grotz's call, the scuffling of chairs announces to Elyan's ears that someone else has joined Grotz down at the end of the bar. Though Elyan does not make out the details of the elf's words, it seems to his practiced ear that something momentous is indeed conspiring, for Grotz's own voice is matched in tone by the movements of three other folk.

Margaret and Trudie both appear from the kitchen, cork trays and wet rags in hand. Margaret begins clearing dishes and cups while Trudie wipes down bench seats, chairs, and tabletops. Garon's attention is drawn to the sheriff, who opens the door and beckons to the Ol' Boar's proprietor for a quiet word outside. Audibly grumbling but tossing his rag down on the wooden bar and gesturing to Trudie that she should watch the lock box in his absence, Garon complies with the constable's request and goes out front.

Karl watches quietly as Garon is called outside. He wonders briefly what's going on, but eventually he just shakes his head in puzzlement before returning his gaze to their newest drinking companion. The elf seemed a little too forward for his taste, but a decent enough fellow. Not many would even bother to talk to the three gathered here. He briefly nods his assent to Grotzkoshter's implied question.

Elyan stands and calls Rogue. "Rogue, guide, Grotz." Man and dog make their unerring way to the table by the bar. Rogue pauses by Grotzkoshter's shoulder. "Hullo, Grotz. What can I do for you?" Becoming aware that there are two - no, three - others at the table, he sketches a bow and says, "Good evening. My name is Elyan. This is Rogue. Don't worry - his bark is worse than his bite. Well, no, it's not, actually - but he only bites when I tell him to!" He stands serenely, waiting for Grotz to reply, listening intently for any other clues as to the others.

As they continue to speak, Grotzkoshter spots the dog and the bard as the pair approaches. "Howdy Elyan," Grotz offers in greeting with heavy tone but soft voice. "Take a seat with us, this is Korgrave and this is Karl." Grotz points at them and then realizes that he is talking to a blind man. "Hmmm. Korgrave is on the left, Karl is sitting next to him, they are both Orcs with human blood, like me. The last one is Kiaphas, a priest." Grotz stops to let Kiaphas to introduce himself on his own. "We need your help Elyan, it's not a simple request like the ones I always ask you...you know, to sing the ballads about the war and the defeat of the Old one--may Nerull takes his soul and Incabolus poison it." Grotz coughs and continues. "Mistress Kerowyn Hucrele seeks someone to help her find her lost 2 children, and she'll pay well for those that are interested. Now you know that our kind is not popular among the citizens over here, and Kiaphas is new in town. We know that everybody likes you over here, and your influence on the Mistress will be better than ours... you can help us to find them..." Grotz leans forward and pets the dog, giving him a bone from one of the dirty dishes on the counter.
 
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We lost several pages of roleplay due to a database crash at EN World. The above text, from my own originating post and the first page of our IC thread, was kindly recovered by the players and myself. I have taken the liberty of condensing the players' original first-page posts and creating a narrative out the material I had on hand. I have tried to edit everyone's comments as little as possible and to remain true, in those instances where editing was necessary to make the content fit an appropriate paragraph format, to the essence of the players' words.

What follows below is a condensed re-cap of the action and actions of the players lost to the database outtage.


A small but violent crowd gathered out front of the Ol' Boar Inn. The Sheriff called Garon to the front of the tavern; a loud thud was heard by the company inside the bar. The sheriff and Garon soon returned, Felosial the sheriff quickly barring the front door and escorting an injured Garon to rest at a table. Felosial informed those still inside that the crowd had gathered to protest Garon's service to half-orcs. A plan was soon formed for the newly formed companions to quit the inn, with Korgrave departing for his marsh out the kitchen door and Elyan, Kiaphas, Grotz, and Karl leaving via an old escape tunnel underneath Garon's cellar. The sheriff bid the companions to all come to her jail to sleep in safety for the night. Garon and Felosial helped the foursome escape then closed the trap door to prevent anyone from following after them. Korgrave successfully skulked off to the comforts of his marsh outside of town.

While in the dirt tunnel beneath the Ol' Boar, Karl, Grotz, Kiaphas, and Elyan encountered two goblins leading a rodent of unusual size on a leash. The goblins unleashed the large rat, which promptly charged and tried to bite Karl. Elyan sang a glorific song to inspire his new comrades to action. Grotz took several rat bites and goblin crossbow bolts before finally crushing the rat to death and knocking one of the goblins unconscious. Karl dispatched the second goblin, leaving the body in a crumpled and bloody mess on the tunnel floor. Kiaphas healed Grotz. Grotz claimed the unconscious goblin prisoner. Having vanquished their attackers, the foursome elected to ignore the new south tunnel in favor of continuing westward along the original tunnel that started in Garon's cellar. After ten minutes' walk, the party emerged west of Oakhurst in the hill lands and plains surrounding the town. Deciding to drag the unconscious goblin back to town and to seek refuge for the night with the sheriff, the party carefully skirted north of town before being admitted by the sheriff to her small but welcoming cottage. Grotz and Karl accompanied Felosial to the jail next to the sheriff's personal quarters and deposited the goblin in a special and rarely used cell in the root cellar beneath the main jail. Returning to the sheriff's quarters, Felosial barred her front door, drew the cottage's inner shutters, and drew down the light shed by her lamps. The party commenced questioning Felosial, the female half-elf sheriff, and were soon in the midst of conversation about Oakhurst and the nature of the town folks' relations with the nearby goblin tribes.

Korgrave, who safely returned to the marsh and bid Nimhe good hunting for the night, soon went to sleep on a bed of rushes near a large but shallow pond of muddy water. The moon was already high in the sky when Korgrave woke to the preternatural still of night; the wind ceased blowing from the north and all the crickets and frogs had ceased their nighttime calls. Korgrave laid in his reeds, feigning sleep and spotted a winged creature with small stumps of horns from across the shallow marsh pond. The creature took flight, aiming straight for Korgrave and garbling in a menacing and water-like tongue. Korgrave cast obscuring mist to shroud himself and a sleeping Nimhe from sight, but not before the creature apparently landed some ten feet distant and rained droplets of acid upon the half-orc druid. Responding in kind, Korgrave cast entangle, causing the reeds and rushes of the marsh to come to life. Despite the roots' tangling grasp, Korgrave freed himself from the confines of his own spell and began to move north from his sleeping spot at a slow rate. Having dispatched Nimhe to attack the winged creature in the fog, Korgrave continued to move north until he escaped the fog. Once outside the cover of his summoned fog, Korgrave first drew his sling and waited. Neither hearing nor seeing anything of note, Korgrave put his sling away in favor of his bladed melee weapon and bid Nimhe to lead him to the creature. Nimhe did so, guiding Korgrave back through the tangled mass of grasping roots, moss, reeds, and underbrush to a murky brown puddle of mud-like ooze. The snake began to writhe excitedly around and around the small puddle.

Post at will, please.
 
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hafrogman

Adventurer
Karl leans back and watches the others as they talk to the sherrif. He nods along as she explains the town's fragile peace with the goblins and thinks some more about the tunnels underneath the town, wondering if there are even more.

He stifles a yawn at the late hour and wonders how comfortable sleeping in a jail for the night will be.
 

Grotzkoshter

Pardon me fair lady.
Grotzkoshter turns to Felosial
Can you hand us the key to the cells, so we could travel freely inside the jail for any trouble that may rise, and if you can bring us some bread and wine, we'll pay for it.
 

The sheriff is quiet for a long moment, lost in her cup of water. With a quick frown, she suddenly starts to recognition. "Something you said caught my attention. Talgen and Sharwyn...they are brother and sister, true, but they are not Lady Hucrele's own children. The Lady Hucrele has no children of her own; rather, they are her nephew and niece, I believe. Or so the town regards them."

Rising from her seat at the sturdy hewn oak table, Felosial bids her guests follow her. "Come, I shall show you to your beds for the eve. You needn't the keys to any door. I shall only set the cell doors just to and will not lock them; this will give the appearance, should the need arise, that you are safely kept yet shall not endanger your own freedom. There is bread and wine here in my own kitchen--I do not pass fermented drink to my regular customers...it makes them unruly." The sheriff heads back to her small kitchen and soon returns with a sack heavily laden with two glass bottles, a quarter wheel of cheese, pears, and four loaves. "Here, take this to your beds. I ask only that you rise before the sun and leave by the north exit, lest curious eyes spy your egress."

With that, Felosial leads Karl, Grotz, Elyan, and Kiaphas to the jail next door. True to her word, she does not hand them her set of keys but rather closes the cell doors just to, leaving both cell doors unlocked. The cells themselves are made of bars of thick wrought iron in the front. The ceiling and walls are fashioned of stone. The wall separating the two cells is fashioned of iron bars; prisoners in one cell may freely converse with prisoners in the other. Beds of clean straw, still fragrant from the sun, line the cell floors as sleeping mats.
 

hafrogman

Adventurer
Despite the sheriff's assurances and seeming good intentions, Karl cannot help but check his pockets for his picks while Felosial shuts them in. His hand closes upon the set of tools and he breathes a bit more peacefully as she closes the door. He doesn't remove his hand from it's makeshift security blanket until she has passed from sight.

He sits down quietly on the straw bed and helps himself to some of the food.

"Strange day."
 

Felosial turns to leave, calling out over her shoulder as she departs, "Make certain to bar the door from the inside after I go. I'll leave the door unlocked but I'd feel better for your safety knowing that you at the least had drawn the oak bar from the inside. You may simply leave the door unbarred when you leave in the morning. 'Tis my custom to rise early and the jail shan't go long unwatched after you depart." With that, the half-elf sheriff quits the jail, her keys jingling softly in the night air.
 

hafrogman

Adventurer
Karl rises quietly and walks over to follow the sheriff's instructions, barring the door to keep out any unwanted visitors.
 

Boddynock

First Post
Elyan follows the conversation, listening intently but not saying a lot. He goes with the others into the gaol, and settles on a bunk. He nods at Felosial's comments about food and drink, security, and the need to be out before daybreak, and settles to rest on one of the bunks, Rogue at his feet.

Suddenly he sits bolt upright, startling the dog, who growls then whines uncertainly. "Damn and blast!" he curses. "I forgot to ask Felosial about a bath." Standing and moving to the door of his cell, he opens it and steps out, asking the others as he does, "Is there a bucket of water and a towel here somewhere?" If there is, he strips off his shirt, plunges head and neck in the bucket, splashes water over his torso, then towels himself vigorously dry. Then gathering up his shirt again, he sniffs it, grimaces, and slips it back over his head. Then he goes back to his cell, lies down again (having first closed the door) and is soon snoring lightly.
 

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