Third Saturday of Inaware, 342nd year
The Sea Nymph glides through the late morning mist on the North Sea and saddles up to a battered, rotting dock. Before she is even properly tethered, Captain Spradlock Baddelharrow sends a runner up a footpath on a steep bluff overlooking the harbor while the rest work on securing the ship. Shortly, a mounted figure and a small retinue of soldiers are seen working their way towards the ship. The Captain climbs onto the dock and heads off to meet them.
Eventually, the plank is lowered and Levna, Torgosh, Darius, Ta’kel and Mayuun descend. They are greeted by the pungent smell of fish and algal growth, and at first, they can barely stand, by now used to the constant swaying of a vessel beneath their feet. Captain Spradlock and the previously mounted figure, wearing a set of brown, rusted mail, approach the group on the dock, with the sound of surf all about them.
“Mates, I want ye to meet someone. This is Lord Garrkin Atlroth. An ol’ mate o mine actually,” he says grinning, “but now he be Lord o these parts.”
“Greetings and welcome to Saltbur. Sprad told me of your valiant defense of our ship and I thank you personally for that. I’m concerned about the pirates you encountered. We have reason to believe they were crew from the Spirit, a nefarious vessel indeed. But more importantly, it’s rare to encounter them so close to town. I’d like to meet with all of you and possibly enlist your help with regards to this matter, but I understand that you’ve all had a long journey and need some rest. I’ve made arrangements for you at the Dog-Whale, our local inn and tavern, at the top of the harbor over there,” he says gesticulating to the top of a small hill that runs along the harbor. “Your lodging and food for the evening is on me. Please, do what you must in town, and then get some rest. I’ll send a runner to gather you for our meeting in the morning, if you choose to help us with this… And friends, if you’ve never been to Saltbur before, be wary of certain… elements of society. Some parts of town are… well, anyway, welcome,” He concludes, glancing uncertainly at Torgosh.
Ta’kel remembers the hand axe Darius used in the previous night’s battle and decides that he’d like one for himself. He tries to remember if there were any of the axes among the spoils of their victory and seeks out a crew member who might have taken one and offers both of his new knives in trade.
Ta’kel finds Darius and thanks him for his healing magic last night, then asks if he would help Mayuun.
He takes the silk shirt from his pack and shows it to Torgosh and asks in stilted Ryn, “I want to sell. Where?”
Darius looks down at Mayunn and smiles “That looks painful, I will say a prayer for you tonite. Do not worry Ta’kel she will be fine”
Darius looking into his satchel realizes that in his haste he forgot his healing herbs and most of his spell components back at the grove…No worries, the Earth mother always provides. She always provides.
“My friends I want to take a closer look at the countryside, I’ll return soon! Captain thank you, I hope we meet again.”
Darius leaves town, in search of healing herbs, Herbs that take away pain and comfort the injured. Herbs that are pet friendly. Darius is also in search of common spell components. After searching for a while, Darius takes flight and scouts the area from the air taking note of the landscape and anything else that seems interesting.
Torgosh sniffs of the shirt and looks thoughtful. He points to the northern part of the hill overlooking the harbor. “The marketplace is up there. Maybe someone there will be interested in it. Me, I’m going home.” His face breaks into his wide lupine grin and he turns and sprints down the dock, headed for the gnoll district.
When Torgosh reaches the area, he heads straight to the temple and seeks out the priest, Naug Alee.
“God-speaker, I bring news of our enemy.” Pulling the Direfrost from his belt he hands it to the priest. The ship I ride on was attacked. Some of the ‘pie-rits’ were of our foes. I slew one." He pulls out the 7 silver Schinns he recovered and hands this to the priest, taking back the braid. “I give this silver in thanks to the god for guiding me true.”
“You made very brave young whelpling,” coughs the old priest Naug Alee, accepting Torgosh’s offering, “Hakrak will guard you on your hunts.”
The old hyena with half of his face and one eye withered away by some unknown blight continues to stare into Torgosh’s eyes as he ponders something.
“Young one, we must destroy Direfrost. Direfrost move against us again, out in the wild. Atlroth doesn’t heed our warnings. But we know; they will come. One night, they will come and take babies, women, children, human, gnoll, Direfrost don’t care. All food and sacrifice to their false god. They are searching for us… There is a task for you Torgosh, when you will find many more braids to line your garments with. But now you must rest. I know of your friends too. They will help Ragthorn. In the morning, we will speak again. You come find me here, on this temple mound.”
And with that, the old priest returns to chanting in a guttural, ancient form of the gnoll tongue and waving his burning stick of incenses above several peculiarly shaped and well polished stones.
Torgosh heads down from the mound making sure the braid is visible hanging from his belt. He sniffs around to see if anything looks interesting and then heads back to the Sea Nymph.
After being introduced, Levna flashes a smile and asks Lord Garrkin, “I am pleased to meet you. I am curious, how did you come to be lord of these parts?”
Atlroth takes a half-bow and then replies, “And it’s very nice to meet you too. You have traveled far and have the complexion of one hailing from a much warmer clime. As for me, well, it’s a long story and I’m afraid we’ll have save it for another time.” Concluding, Atrolth smirks mischievously at Spradlock.
After some polite chatter, Levna takes her leave. She heads to the inn and arranges a bath. After so many weeks at sea with only cold salt water to wash up with, she is anxious for a proper cleansing. As she sinks into the tub, tensions that have been piling up gradually relax. The loss of her first love, the horror of the zombie, the palpable fear of the pirate attack, and the exhaustion from fully depleting her magical reserves, all gradually melt away into the warm suds. If the bath is not covered by Lord Garrkin, Levna spends up to 1 gp for the services of hot water, soap, etc.
At the appointed time to meet for dinner, Levna dresses and descends to the mess. She gives everyone a warm greeting and sits at the table with the piece of paper. After ordering marsh clover mead and rabbit cutlets, she reaches for the paper. Assuming nobody objects, she unfolds it to see what it says.
Ta’kel speaks with several sailors and unfortunately finds that no hand axes were recovered from the slain pirates. Perhaps he can purchase one in town.
After reassuring his friends that he will return, Darius silently slips away from the group. He makes his way up the hill and gets his first view of Saltbur, more a collection of tents, shanties and make-shift dwellings then a dignified town. To his right he can make out what is, owing to the size and construct of the buildings, apparently the wealthiest district. Beyond that he can see the bluff overlooking the town from which Atlroth came. From his vantage point, Darius can see the deteriorating stone wall that lines the perimeter of town, and he follows it with his keen eyes until he can make out an opening in the barrier, in the southeast corner of Saltbur. He strikes out in that direction, meandering through cold, dirty alleyways, until he finds himself in the shadow of the town gate. A couple weary guards glance at him quizzically as he crosses the boundary, out into the wilds of the Northlands.
Darius soon finds himself in the vast expanse of marshes and coastal wetlands that make up much of the surrounding wilderness. Though he is unfamiliar with the flora and fauna of the region, Darius searches for several hours before stumbling upon a patch of small mushrooms with shriveled grey caps. He thinks hard, but ultimately isn’t sure whether the fungi are edible or not.
The light grows long and Darius realizes that darkness will soon be upon him. He experiences a rush of freedom, one that he has not felt since he left his homeland of Denrril, as he transforms into a beautiful Gold Streaked Hawk. Taking wing, he reaches a lofty vantage point and sees that the marshlands continue for miles and miles in every direction, bounded only by the bluffs and beaches of the coastline. Spotting Saltbur, he glides towards the small, isolated town.
Ta’kel does seek to trade/sell his knives to get a hand axe in addition to selling the silk shirt, with Darius and Torgosh gone, Ta’kel asks Levna if she would like to travel to town together.
Eventually, Ta’kel makes his way into the Trade District that Torgosh had shown him. It’s easy enough to find a merchant selling tools who is willing to part with a hand axe for 1 ginn and 5 schinns, or for two knives. Ta’kel also locates a ragged looking cloth merchant sitting at a run-down outdoor stand, who seems interested in purchasing the silk shirt. He digs around in his purse and offers 4 ginn, 5 schinn, and 43 chinns for the garment.
At the tool mercant Ta’kel sets down his two newly acquired knives and 2 schinns and says, “Trade?”
At the cloth merchant Ta’kel looks at the shirt then the merchant and give a small shake of the head, “More.”
Ta’kel trades his two knives for an old hand axe. Upon closer examination, he discovers a strange insignia carved into the wooden handle, but is unable to recognize it’s origin. Seeing him eye the rune, the man pipes up, “Got that ‘n’ from a monk passin’ through town. ’E’s from Denes-Perod. That be a Sabanian outpost, far to the south o here.”
The cloth merchant shrugs and points at his purse as if to say “that’s all I have.” Ta’kel notices that he only carries a few bolts of rough, coarsely woven linen and some dingy wool of a local variety.
Ta’kel runs his thumb over the insignia and a slight grin passes over his lips. A weapon with history is good luck. He nods to the merchant and stashes the axe in his belt, “Good. Thank you.”
Ta’kel looks at the cloth merchant’s wares and and back to the purse, “Very well. I’ll sell. Thank you.”
With that Ta’kel returns to the inn. He makes a point to show the axe insignia to Spradlock and ask about the history. After that, he spends some time with weapon and sharpens it.
Although Darius is not quite sure about the mushrooms, he has a deep feeling that they will be useful in some way, Darius gently harvests 5 of the mushrooms leaving the the 6th to prosper.
Darius heads back to saltbur, returning to his human form out of sight. Darius then heads to the inn and tavern to make some friends and take advantage of the local hospitality.
Night falls on Saltbur and the deep cold of a Northlands winter settles in. As planned, the party members make their way to the Dog-Whale Inn, a glowing haven of light by the harbor in the frosty darkness. Entering they find a warm, smokey room, filled with cheerful voices, and they congregate in the center, greeting each other after their afternoon spent on separate errands.
“Ey Mates! Yer tables o’er ’ere!” shouts an extremely intoxicated Spradlock Baddelharrow from a corner of the room where he sits, surrounded by similarly drunk crewmen. A young brunette sits on his lap with her arms slung over his shoulders. She takes a huge slug from a gigantic flagon of ale. Odra is perched on the brunette’s head and is gently picking and tugging at her brown locks of hair with her beak. The empty table next to Spradlock’s party has a small, folded piece of paper resting on it.
Gazing around the room they see several other groups of guests including some men wearing official uniforms with badges, two gnolls tucked away in a corner, a group clustered around someone strumming a lute, and surprisingly, three dwarves (not one member of the group has ever seen a dwarf before).
Before they can react to the captain, a pretty blond woman with dark eyes and a trim figure approaches the group with a smile. She wears a dirty apron and is carrying a tray piled with dishes and cutlery. Though she hesitates momentarily when seeing Ta’kel, Mayuun, and Torgosh, all relatively wild looking characters, she doesn’t seem that taken aback, used to strange company in the only inn in Saltbur.
“Greetings friends, my name is Nynd, I’ll be your server tonight. Lord Atlroth told us of your arrival. We have two rooms prepared for you and your meals and drinks have already been payed for. A table is reserved over there by Mr. Baddelharrow. We have a sizable menu today. For beverages we have whortl ale, streiccha, marsh clover mead, and goat milk. For meals you may choose from salted slold, salted yosi, salted doogh, fried chast, roasted northlands chicken, saltbur stew, and marsh rabbit cutlets. Please have a seat and I’ll be over shortly to take your orders.”
Levna unfolds the small note and scans the contents in the dim candle light of the tavern. The message reads:
Welcome to Saltbur, I’m sorry you do not visit in kinder times. I, Eya Chethpol, priestess of the Greater Temple of Whaythrad, am writing to ask for your assistance. I have heard of your deeds fighting off the pirate raiders, and we greatly need people of virtue in this town. There is an urgent matter at hand. I humbly request that you meet me in the morning, on the steps of my temple in the Noble’s District, so we can discuss the matter. May Whaythrad guide you on your journeys.
Ta’kel and Mayuun join the others in the dining room. At Nynd’s greeting he shrugs and says, “A big strong drink. Chicken for me.” He smiles down at Mayuun, stroking her head, “Rabbit for her.” He gives a nod of thanks and heads over to join the group. He congratulates everyone in turn for their deeds in the battle with the pirates.
After settling a bit, he points to the braid at Torgosh’s belt, “You did well in battle. You took trophy.” He shakes his bag of bones and smiles revealing his larger than normal canines, “I take trophies, too. We are battle kin!” He toasts to Torgosh, clinking mugs with him.
Ta’kel eats then, if they don’t seem too hostile, brings his mug over to the dwarves’ table. He nods sharply, “Greetings. I am Ta’kel Umenni-Saia. I am Scharr. You are dwarves, yes? It is rare for both races to be here, is it not?”
The dwarves, a dejected and dirty lot, slowly look up at Ta’kel and half-heartedly raise their mugs in salute. Their lot in life has been tough it would seem, and it apparently hasn’t made great conversationalists out of them.
Torgosh order ale and chicken as well.
To Ta’kel he says, “We survived. Better alive than dead.” And chuckles as he clinks his mug with Ta’kel’s.
Darius arrives on scene and takes notice of the merriment. “Lord Garkin, thank you for your hospitality, I hope that I can find a way to repay it. This is is a fine inn, much more than I am accustomed!”
Darius catches the eye of the serving wench and smiles, “MUCH more than I am accustomed…I would love some of the marsh clover mead that looks so enticing, and perhaps a something a bit more substantial when my appetite has grown a bit!”
Darius approaches Ta’kel… and nods “Good times, and how fares Mayunn?”
Ta’kel pats Darius on the shoulder a little too hard, "You did well in battle. Better than I thought, "he says with a grin, the ale might be getting to him. A look of concern passes over his face when Darius asks about Mayuun. He drops to his haunches and puts his face forehead to forehead with the wolf, rubbing her ears, “Not sure. Her spirits are high, but she is still injured. Can you help?” He looks up at Darius with serious eyes.
Before long, a smiling Nynd brings over some plates of piping hot food. All stomachs grumble as the first decent meal in weeks is placed on the table. The blond haired woman hands Ta’kel a glass containing a thin, green liquid.
“As requested, something strong. That’s called Streiccha. We distill it right here in the Dog-Whale. See if you like it.”
The party eats and drinks happily, finally partaking of some much needed nourishment, though Ta’kel can’t say he has much of a palate for the strangely colored beverage, which tastes oddly salty and of the sea. The atmosphere is merry as the lute player strikes up a local drinking song and many of the guests join in.
Brig et yer ale, brig et yer wine
O’Th’shore she be gath’rin’ all th’day long
Th’lass th’Perny Lauraline
Brig not yeh bread, yeh puddin’ fine
Th’day she toyl th’Lauraline
Brig et yer ale, brig et yer wine
‘Fye die a’fore we ‘ave mor drink
Brig et yer ale, brig et yer wine
My guril th’Perny Lauraline
But o’ sh’be dead, swept yon by th’wave
Lifesonly so lon, s’a short time we ‘ave
An’ what o’ my Perny Lauraline?
BRIG ET YER ALE, BRIG ET YER WINE!
Torgosh squints at the two gnolls through the smokey, mead-tinted haze but cannot seem to recognize them. Spotting him across the room, the two mangey dogs raise mugs in his directions and then proceed to pound down another pint.
Darius places a hand on Ta’kels shoulder and gives him a serious look “Ta’kel, she will be fine.” After a momentary pause Darius Smiles and calls out to the bar wench. “Another for me and my friend!”
Nynd brings over a couple more servings of mead. A gentle feeling of relaxation, absent during the long sea voyage, begins to settle into the party members as the alcohol works its magic.
“Just let me know if you need anything else. When you are ready to retire, give the word and I will show you to your rooms. Lord Atlroth wanted me to remind you that he will send a runner in the early morning to escort you to your meeting.”
Smiling, Nynd disappears back into the crowded room. Sounds like another round of Brig Et Yer Ale is starting…
Seeing that the dwarves would rather be left alone, Ta’kel raises his drink once more bids them fair well. He catches Nynd, downs the rest of his green drink, hands her the empty glass and says, “Bring me mead, and bring them another round of better. I’ll pay.”
He then returns to the group and listens to the letter. He follows Darius’ lead as his escort, but will go to the temple with the others. He sings along to Brig Et Yer Ale as best he can.
“That mead is the best drink we can offer here in Saltbur, but I’m happy to bring et some more for you and your dwarven friends,” says Nynd with a wink, returning a short while later with fresh beverages for the lot.
The night wears on and eyelids grow heavy from the food, drink, and the resolution of a long journey. The merry atmosphere in the Dog-Whale continues, but eventually Nynd picks up a small copper bell and strikes it once, silencing the room.
“Sorry friends, but this is our last call for the evening.”
A mutual groan arises from around the room and the patrons begin flagging down the nearest server to order their final drink. Nynd stops by the table at which the group sits.
“One more drink? Sorry to rush you, but there are about five or ten minutes left to finish your conversations before we close the room.”
Darius Stands, Raises his mug towards his friends and toasts. “To continued fortunes and prosperity!” Downs his drink and slams the mug onto the table. “Gnite my friends, until morning then!”
“Nynd, and where was that room again?”
Darius takes to his room and begins his meditations…
Ta’kel makes his goodbyes as well and heads up to the room. Finding the bed, too soft, Ta’kel curls up on the floor with Mayuun for the night.
Nynd shows Ta’kel, Mayuun, Torgosh and Darius to their shared room and Levna to a smaller one across the narrow hall. Sleep comes quickly to the weary travelers…