The Wild Coast

The Story so far...
Corian assembles the group

“Greetings friends!” the young man beckons, identifying the new adventurers as they enter the tavern. “Please sit and enjoy the best wine this place has to offer!”

This is a bit of a dubious invitation, as the region is not known for its wine, and the tavern in particular is known more for the warm swill it calls ale. Yet, the half finished bottle next to the smiling red haired man indicates that it can’t be completely undrinkable. Beside the bottle, a sketch pad lies open showing the lovely face of a young woman – unmistakenly that of the serving girl in this very tavern. His artistic talents are clearly evident, although misguided as she seems determined to avoid the table.

Names are exchanged, and the party learns their host’s name is Corian. An well spoken fellow, he regales the newcomers with useless trivia, thoughts flitting from topic to topic. The impression is of a creative mind sorely lacking organizational skills. Probably a good move to hire people to accompany him.

At length, Corian gets to the point:

“A moderately wealthy fellow recently passed away. As he was reclusive, news of his demise has not yet become known. I only know because of someone my uncle knows.”

“Anyway, he didn’t leave behind a next of kin. You know how things are around here. His tower will just get looted. I’d like to visit before the place totally gets run over. The location of his tower is known to me. And there are some items belonging to one of his associates that I was hoping to recover. In addition, the fact that he’s fairly well off means he likely has a fair amount of gold stashed away.”

“It’s strictly a recovery mission. But obviously, I can’t go on my own. The roads at night aren’t always safe for a single fellow like me. This is where you come in. Help me out on this straighforward journey and an equal share of the proceeds will be yours.”
-———————————————————-
The dwarf has a short bushy beard and full mustache, thick eyebrows that don’t hide his piercing black eyes, a wide, flat nose, and wild brown hair above his high forehead. The few steps he takes from the door of the tavern to the table are enough to make apparent his martial background, and his bare forearms are spiderwebbed with scars earned learning his trade.

He accepts Corian’s offer of a drink, and introduces himself as he pours, “I am Drebb.” He pauses to take a swig from his glass and grimaces, then tosses down the rest. “This is terrible,” he says as he begins to pour himself another.

Drebb takes a seat at the table as the others introduce themselves, and listens to Corian’s small talk, interjecting a comment here and there.

When Corian finishes his tale, the dwarf is silent for a moment. “An interesting proposition, though your flowery talk seems to be hiding much that I would know before agreeing. Who was this recluse? What was his occupation that he could live by himself in a remote tower and be ‘moderately weathy’ as you put it. Who is this associate and what are you retrieving for him? It does not sound so straightforward to me. It sounds like you mean to rob a dead man.”

Drebb seems to realize that perhaps he has gone too far, and softens his tone, “Please explain so that I can better understand.”
-———————————————————-
“Well, er, ahem,” Corian mumbles, a bit taken aback at the dwarf’s abrubtness. But, recovering quickly, he leans forward, and in an (unintentionally) theatrical whisper, he says, “I’d like to tell you more, but,” glancing about, “listening ears, you know…”.

“But what I can say is, ooh! Samantha, more wine please!” as the tavern girl walks by. He is clearly smitten, and completely obvious about it.

Drebb’s glare brings him back to topic. “Um, the person in question was a bit of a dabbler in magic. Not his profession, mind you, more of a hobby I think, but anyway, that’s not important, he’s dead, right? Ha ha,” pouring some more wine. Not only is he inexperienced with the ladies, but it appears he can’t hold his liquor either.

“Now as to the question of the poor fellow’s belongings. His more important possessions would be wasted upon common looters, or worse, the orcs in the south!”

“We would simply be preserving valuable items that could possibly be damaged or destroyed once his tower is found to be unoccupied. In fact, we’d be doing a great service to his memory, yes?”

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Tales at the Inns
At the Drunken Cockatrice and Cask and Flagon

Helman plays his banjo and people enjoy the revelry. The town of Fairhill is small but well kept. The people are simple farmers who keep close to nature. They trade with Dockalong, a town to the North at the confluence of the Jewel and Handmaiden Rivers as well as Badwall. They also send goods south to Ulek – The town of Rittersmarche (northern Ulek) is nearby to the South and on the other side of the Jewel River.

The group hears rumours. Orcs and other savage humanoids have been seen in increasing numbers recently. For so long the devout people of the town have felt safe under the protection of the Goddess Ehlonna. Shandril is her high priestess in town and she has worked with the lords of the town to keep everyone safe. This seems to be ending. People are abuzz. Recently orcs have been attacking. They kill the men and then savage the women and children, leaving them for dead if they survive their initial ravishing. It’s all too horrific for the people of Fairhill.

They also know of Eralion’s tower. You hear many different stories… Eralion built it long ago, and there is some disagreement on what happened. He WAS a follower of St. Cuthbert and there is rumoured to be a temple of St. Cuthbert on the site of his keep. He’s also rumoured to have used demons and blood to help raise the stones to build the keep.

People last heard of him two years ago and he’s rumoured to be dead. For sure he’s dead, right? But now there are tales of a Vampire that has moved into the Keep. No one goes near the place but it casts a shadow over the country side. It’s about 8 miles as a crow flies away but the old path loops through the forest for 12 miles to get there.

Quotes:

“Shandril has been here a long time, as long as anyone can remember! Without her this village would have disappeared long ago. Praise be to Ehlonna!”

“It’s horrible. I hear they found an entire family by the road, mutilated. And the women and children… I can’t speak of it.”

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Killer Orcs!
Tougher than any of us thought...

A midnight Orc raid, a temple of Ehlonna on Fire. The town’s relic – the crucible of Ehlonna – stolen!

Brave Bannor, Drebb, Corian and Galdar joined Lauriel the Elven Ranger (and Lieutenant of town guard) to head into the woods to track down the Orcs and bring back the crucible. They did so and when the orcs eventually turned off the Old Trail to Eralion’s keep they caught up to them. The orcs were singing about war crimes and human rights violations when the party fell upon them like avenging angels. Except the Orcs fought back ferociously! Drebb and Bannor were both struck down and Galdar saved the day by calling repeatedly on the blessings of St. Cuthbert. Bannor was saved but Drebb had breathed his last. The survivors carried his body back to Fairhill where Shandril used her one ancient relic scroll to call upon Ehlonna to return life to his body. Drebb answered the call and returned. After waiting for five days for all to heal they pushed back to Eralion’s keep. They entered by the back door (naturally) and surprised Tavik the dark priest in his fouled quarters in the ruined Temple of St. Cuthbert. A vicious fight ensued and as the melee swirled wildly in the pews Tavik was slain, riddled with arrows. Bannor and Galdar and Lauriel and Drebb stood four abreast (no flanking!) to face the Ogre and a small horde of orcs who smashed their way through the temple doors. Galdar saved the day once again with a bolt of pure energy that St. Cuthbert infused with extra power (natural 20 – 8d6 damage!!!) to stun and smash the powerful beast.

The battle was quickly won. Some future group can explore the depths of Eralion’s keep…

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Poverty forces hard choices
Pale Eye and Valshea take a menial job - 'caravan' guard

If by ‘caravan’ you mean three donkeys and the pay is 10 gold.

How it all began
Valshea and Pale Eye were poor. Months of questions about people disappearing along the Wild Coast and nothing gained. They needed money and they needed it now. Valshea was down to her last few gold coins.
Valshea and Pale Eye met a merchant. His name was Mebren. He was obviously a hard luck case. He was willing to hire Valshea and Pale Eye to be his ‘guards’ all the way through the Gnarley Wood to Dyvers. His cargo – who knows? But it could be stowed on three scraggly donkeys. Not a promising start. The pay? 10 Gold coins of various manufacture. But Valshea and Pale were not in a position to refuse.

Patchwall 18 (Godsday) – Day One
They were four. Pale Eye, Valshea, Mebren and his mute son, Hael. There were also three heavily laden donkeys. Gods know what they carried.
They left Narwell travelling north. At first things were calm. They passed farms and pastures. Eventually, they came to Camp Adalorn, the northernmost reach of the soldiers of Narwell. Here Mebren turned west, off the beaten track. Not long after a knight, the commander in fact, of the Adalorn contingent rode up to beckon them back. This knight, Beltlin Urthadar, bade them not to head west, lest they be slain by foul forces and goblins and such. Perhaps even orcs. And there was always the Bad Deep, which they had to pass by. Mebren eschewed this advice and arrogantly continued. Valshea was happy. Perhaps Orcs would try to attack and they would find evidence of malfeasance or who directed them. Perhaps these orcs were in league with the bandits and abductors who plagued the Wild Coast. Perhaps…
They headed west, off the main trails, past the ‘Bad Deep’. They camped on the shores of the Jewel River. Something watched them and rustled disturbingly in the night, but it was not found and gone by morning in any case.

Patchwall 19 (Waterday) – Day Two
goblin_sniper.jpg Mebren took them along an ancient, overgrown road. it roughly traced the Jewel River North. Leaves of Gold and Red fluttered around them and blazed from the branches of trees. Autumn was in full swing. After some hours Pale Eye (who walked in front, looking for ambush) spotted a horrible goblin in a tree. He quickly shot it with his crossbow – sluck – right though the heart. It fell down to the ground. Three more of the hateful creatures lay in ambush. Furious combat ensued and Pale Eye slaughtered two more of the vicious evil creatures (Valshea killed the fourth and final). They had nothing of value.

That night the travelers finally made it to Namburil. The East bank, anyways. They did have to pay a ridiculous toll. Thugs pretending to be men-at-arms obeyed the orders of a thug lord, Suramen Ustwill, and guarded the only bridge crossing of the Jewel River. Two gold per person and one per donkey. A completely outlandish and ridiculous rate. Valshea bade them all to pay. It was too early to fight these thugs. Patience in all things and one day the worm would turn. One day that ‘lord’ would pay.

At the Inn they met out of work miners and a worried merchant who ran the inn. His fetching daughter made them all feel welcome. Valshea purchased commoners clothes and a grey woolen cloak, rustic but warm, and circulated in the smoky common room. She slowly learned many rumours about this place. It actually seemed like a good base of operations. Too bad they were contracted to Mebren.

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Dwarves, Orcs and Dark Caverns
Into the Underdark - Part 1

Patchwall 20 – Day Three
In the morning Valshea and Pale Eye waited for Mebren . He was deep in conversation with another merchant. After more patient waiting he broke off his conversation and approached Valshea and Pale Eye. He announced that he had sold his wares to a fellow merchant and would not longer need to hire them to Dyvers. He would only pay them out four gold coins.

Pale Eye shifted closer to the merchant. “That was not the deal,” he muttered darkly. Valshea calmed him, whispering to him in Dwarvish, which surprisingly they both spoke, that this gold was not the issue. “We had a verbal agreement of service, which by its nature, is a somewhat loose contract. Besides, this is better for us. We are going to play a longer game – patience, my friend.”

An uncomfortable pause (while the merchant nervously eyed the strange black human). “Hmm, yes, I suppose you are correct Valshea. I normally take payments in advance, however, in this instance, a prorated fee is acceptable.” Then, Pale Eye simply nodded at the merchant and walked away.

After taking their payment Valshea circled back to the Innkeeper, Carth. When asked about his bad mood he finally allowed that he was concerned. He had only bought the fortified stockade and Inn recently, this spring in fact. And he had discovered something. He took Valshea and Pale Eye to the basement. He showed them a secret door – locked. “If you explore it you can keep anything you find inside and I’ll let you stay here free of charge for the duration.”

Pale Eye and Valshea discussed. “Deal”. But they would need backup. They recruited two Dwarves who were self styled adventurers. They were paid 2 gold each plus an equal share of treasure. The Dwarves had chainmail, shields and battleaxes. They would be doughty and worthy additions. They lit some torches and Pale Eye picked the lock on the secret door.

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Ancient bones and huge caverns
Into the Underdark - Part 2

Patchwall 20 – Day 3

The intrepid crew walked down a steep, rough hewn tunnel. Pale Eye carried a torch as did one of the Dwarves, Beris. They came quickly to a large room with passageways to the East and South. Valshea asked Belgrum, who presumably was wise in the ways of the underdark, which way led down deeper (thinking, perhaps that’s where any true danger would lie…). Belgrum replied “Yes. Always the left tunnel.” And so they went left. They walked down and to the east for a long time. Perhaps over one hundred feet. They were deep in the Oerth. Had they gone under the river? Valshea didn’t know enough about tunnels. Maybe Belgrum did.

Finally they came to a scrambly bank. Beyond was a simply huge cavern running off to the right. They scrambled down the bank. Their torches could not even illuminate the far walls. The ground was scattered with little totemic devices and bones. Very creepy and disconcerting. Why was all this.. junk.. here? They forged ahead. And as they searched Valshea asked that they all stay within close distance of each other.

As they approached the far left wall a horrible thing happened. A cloak on a skeleton rose up. Where the empty hood should have been was instead a maw of sharp teeth and horrible giant pupil eyes. An Abomination! Valshea felt cold fury boiling up in her against this affront to nature. “Slay it!” She cried in Dwarvish. She lunged to attack but it was too quick for her. Belgrum circled around behind it. He slashed it vigorously and it was hurt. Valshea could not see what color blood it had. It looked black in the torchlight. It lunged and snapped at Belgrum but missed. Then Pale Eye and Beris circled around it. They had it cornered! There was no escape. it lunged and snapped but no matter which way it turned blades found it. It then emitted a long moaning noise. The most horrible, blood curdling noise. Every instinct screamed – leave – but the group remained resolute. They hacked the abberation down.

It hovered over a pile of bones. where they found 43 ancient gold coins, a garnet ring and an Iron Scrollcase. Valshea would have to examine that later.

There were three open doors leading out of this massive cavern. Two led to large rooms with old sarcophagi. Inside were orc bones but no treasure. They made sure to remove the bones and stomp them to powder. No orc grave would go undesecrated while Valshea still drew breath! In the final room they found something much more. Two large sarcophagi and a stature of Gruumsh missing an eye (and an arm). They locked their torches into sconces and got to work searching the place. The two Dwarves threw open the stone lid and a massive skeleton draped in shreds of chainmail and wielding a greataxe attacked them. Desperate battle was joined. They chopped and stabbed but the beast was nigh unstoppable. And as they fought a most terrible thing occurred. With an ominous grinding the lid slid of the other sarcophagi. Another towering skeleton emerged, draped likewise in shreds of black chainmail and wielding a greataxe as well. Valshea was slashed viciously and stunned by the first giant. Beris found himself between both of the towering skeletal horrors. All looked dark.

But their desperate struggle paid off. Beris fought his way from between the two. Belgrum came to his aid. The first horror finally fell in a mass of splintered bone. The second one followed soon after as the group surrounded it hacking away like grim bonecutters.

Finally, silence. They would need to bring what they had gained out to Carth the Innkeep and rest a while. Perhaps they needed reinforcements?

Once back in the safety of the inn (with the door locked and barricaded behind them) they could rest and regroup. Valshea retreated to her room and removed an old Tome from her backpack. She, with some resignation, began rehearsing her lessons in Eldritch Power. Her family had taught her much but it time to apply herself to her studies. They were going to fight things that a strong sword arm alone could not fight.

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Kill Monsters, Take their Stuff, Go Shopping
but in a small village...

Valshea has 2 Greataxes, 2 ragged suits of chainmail, a garnet ring worth around 25 gold. She asks Pale Eye, Belgrim and Beris if they want to accompany her, and heads to market. She wants to get rid of these things and split the cash up. How does this turn out? Who can take it? Opportunity to meet Blacksmiths and Jewelers, etc.

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Beautiful Music
Valshea and Pale Eye meet Ander

When they returned to the inn disheveled from their sweaty endeavours in the bowels of the earth, they found the inn lit up with a new life. The lute music weaved itself through the air. In tavern room proper they were greeted by the sight of a handsome young half-elf with bright blue eyes and a blazing smile capering around playfully playing his lute to the demands of the village folk. Upon his spying the tired and sweaty group the tune changed in nature, leaving the traditional folky rhythms behind and moving to align with the impromptu beat of his tapping heel into a something akin to a more modern dance tune and then he – Ander Liadon – welcomes the group with a smile and a song into the inn.

Ander is a very young half elf, with long dark hair, bright blue eyes and a dazzling smile and tremendous charm. not to mention musical talent. He can’t have been here long but he seems friendly with all he sees already. Garbed in what appears to be travel-worn simple clothing with the odd patch, he nonetheless carries a surprisingly fine Lute and even in the initial greeting there is perhaps a hint that he is highborn.

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Working for the Lord of Trobridge
Into the Caves of the Goblin Scum

Patchwall 20 (Earthday)

Valshea joined the party in the common room and watched as the dwarves drank a gallon of ale provided by Ander, a troubadour of no small skill. She found him to be…intriguing. His words were inspiring and he she suspected he would make a valuable addition to the group, especially in the long term. She spent the rest of the night listening for rumours and figuring out who lived in the town and what their stories were.

Patchwall 21 (Freeday)

Valshea spent much of the day with Ander and Pale Eye as they visited merchants to sell the weapons and armor they had found in the caverns under the Inn. Ander again proved to be a valuable companion and a shrewd bargainer. Valshea also visited the blacksmith to commission a suit of armor. After some time measuring he said it would take a week and cost forty five gold. She was left with one gold piece. It would be worth it to have superior armor.

Once the others left Valshea went for a long walk into the woods. She called her old friend, Seanait, to come back to her. The Peregrin Falcon rested on her left hand most of the time it was not flying around high above.

That night Valshea noticed some interesting mercenaries pass through town. The leader’s name was Telrath. They were heading west but were vague. Something about their manner and appearance triggered a suspicion in Valshea. Although the leader retired to his room, Ander would pump the others for information. Ander himself entertained the entire Inn with engaging songs and stories. He was very talented and Carth must be happy to have him in residence.

Patchwall 22 (Starday)

Down into the dark.
She visited Belgrum and Beris and recruited them for one last push into Carth’s basement cavern complex. They were leery but willing for an equal share. The returned to the deserted dark passageways. They went into unexplored territory until they found what appeared to be a large room with a sarcophagus in the middle. Around it were seven horrific skeletons armed with great axes. Pale Eye passed his war hammer to Valshea and she smote the nearest one on the left. It exploded into shards most satisfyingly, but the other six lurched to life. Ander called on everyone to leave as he would wreath the undead in illuminating flames of the faerie. And so they did. Everyone backed out of the room quickly and Ander wove his hands in the air and said words of power and flickering bright purple light burned all over the skeletons. And now the grim task began. Belgrum fought in the front rank beside Pale Eye for a bit until Valshea bid him leave. She took his place and began smiting the horrors. Ander inspired them with battle humor and mocked the bags of bones viciously. It worked. Even the dead can make mistakes it seems…
Once all the undead were destroyed they set to work removing the lid to the sarcophagus. To her surprise what lay beyond was a hole. A long deep dark hole. Hundreds of feet down. They dropped a torch which seemed to fall forever before being snuffed out. Very strange…
They put the lid back and returned to the surface to tell Carth that the job was done. Nothing below would be bothering him now.

Patchwall 23 (Sunday)

Valshea had noticed a pirate in the Inn. A pirate who was three feet, six inches tall. He was a gnome but clearly one who had been to sea. He carried a small cutlass but didn’t use it in bar fights. And he appeared to like getting into bar fights. Valshea admired his courage and ferocity. A Wolverine. Yes, he would make a perfect fourth. She spent some time talking to him and discovered his name was Gerbo Timbers. Very Gnomish. She found his company delightful and unpretentious.
Together they visited Lord Ustwill looking for work. Despite her earlier misgivings the Lord turned out to be a decent enough man, if hard on commerce. He was recruiting men to take work of a more independent and far ranging sort. He paid 5 pieces of gold per goblin killed and needed a particularly troublesome group eradicated. Valshea was only too glad to comply. She had an abiding and furious hatred of goblins, orcs, and their goblinoid kin. He would even lend the party horses for their travel and the services of a groom. They even got to wear his badge as his agents.
To celebrate their new found work they had another night of partying in the Inn. Valshea, again, didn’t partake to a great degree preferring instead to observe others, including the maudlin miners. Their travails would need following up on.

Patchwall 24 (Moonday)

They set out that morning. It felt good to be on a horse. Seanait ranged far and wide and brought her tidings of fat pigeons and grouse in the area. Before long they came to the site of the latest goblin ambush. Gerbo proved an able tracker and was able to follow the war party back towards their cave. It was a small cave and a frontal assault looked dangerous. As they were searching around the outside they came across two goblins. Fast little demons they both attacked Pale Eye, who was walking on point, stabbing him viciously. Ander broke in though, before Pale Eye could slay the beasts, and called for a truce. He appeared to convince the beasts that the party was in the service of bad humans and could help them kill the good humans. One goblin went inside while the other talked to the party. Eventually he started to lead the group into the cave. Ander could tell from the imps body language that he was lying. He was leading us into a trap. Valshea fired an arrow but missed. He ran away into the cave, shrieking.
There was some disagreement. Valshea did feel that surprise was lost and a frontal assault would be very dangerous, a point Ander was making. So they put the goblin cave under siege. Valshea called out threats to the goblins to let them know the nature of their eventual death. They piled wood up in front of the entrance and burned it. After a few hours there was no signs that the smoke had any effect. So they let the fire burn down and retreated. After some time two goblins leading wolves on leashes came out to investigate. They followed the party’s scent right to them. Battle was joined. The two wolves were viciously mocked by Ander and one of the goblins ran away screaming while the other was cut down. Gerbo went wolverine berserk and chased the goblin into the cave. One of the wolves snapped at Valshea, too close for comfort. She barely had time to put up a shimmering sparkling ward before it’s jaws closed on her creamy white neck. She drew her sword and cut it down. Then they raced into the cave after Gerbo to find him locked in mortal combat with the fleeing goblin and another wolf. More loud screams and Ander called out very distracting threats and the goblin was indeed rattled. Then a goblin from further in the complex started shooting arrows at Pale Eye. The two were locked in a sniper battle. Valshea stepped out to draw his fire. She saw where he was and dropped her shield and drew her own longbow. She killed him with one well placed shot to the eye. They stormed deeper. They found another room with a small army of goblins. They commenced the slaughter. Valshea fought side by side with Pale Eye and the two hacked their way through more of the foul brutes. A lucky stab threatend to gore Valshea but she was quick with her wards again. The Goblins were fast but luckily Ander was faster with another spell. With a gesture four of the beasts slumped down asleep, ensorcelled. The leader fled. They pursued him, hot on his heels, through another room with some goblins to dispatch, until they entered the final chamber. More goblins awaited along with a terrifying bugbear chieftain and a vicious warg. Ander wove his spell again and faerie fire wreathed them, making them very easy targets in the dark. More combat ensued. Gerbo flew into a berserk rage again and it was a good thing since the goblins appeared drawn to him. They stabbed him over and over but Gerbo shrugged them off. Pale Eye and Valshea methodically killed one after another as Ander cried out the most vicious and distracting taunts. It’s no exaggeration to say he saved Valshea’s life at least. The evil ones were simply so distracted they could not land a telling blow. Despite that Valshea did get banged up by the relentless assault of spears and teeth.
And then there was silence.
They looted the Goblins treasure. There were some trade goods. Eleven Goblin ears and a bugbear ear. A small chest filled with coppers and silvers. A statue of a Frog. And two flasks that Valshea later identified as potions that would bring healing if imbibed. Gerbo skinned the wargs and wolves. Those hides would come in handy…

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Seeking help in Namburil
Is there hope for Sildar?

Patchwall 24, (Moonday) continued

The party finished ferreting out every bit of loot. Valshea’s Falcon glared at the nooks and crannies and one could swear it was helping to find overlooked treasures.

They used wood and poles to construct a travois to carry out the man they found, Sildar, as well as their other goods. It was all heavy but Valshea alone could carry a surprising amount of weight.

They followed the creek down to the road and out of the woods and reunited with their horses. They carefully lifted Sildar up onto Valshea’s horse (or at least the one she was borrowing). The other horses saddle bags they stuffed with silver and bloody bound wolf pelts. Then they began the walk back into town.

The sun set. They lit torches to guide their way. After a few hours they made it back to the bridge. Rather than checking in with Lord Ustwill they instead took Sildar to the temple.

Dunstan, the young priest in attendance frowned at the adventurers appearance. From the armor and weapons they were obviously straight from a battle of some sort. He was shocked by Sildar’s appearance, as he was malnourished and had clearly been tortured. He looked him over and found no permanent physical damage, however. After feeding Sildar, and tucking him into a bed in the back room, he told the party he should be up and about in a few days.

His initial cold reaction had lessened somewhat, though he told you that he would prefer you not wear weapons in the temple in future. His eyes narrowed as he noticed badges that showed the group to be in service to Lord Ostwill.

He politely inquired as to what happened to Sildar, and how the party are involved.

Valshea explained that they were hired by the Lord to put an end to a goblin menace plaguing innocent travellers in the road. They did so and in the process of clearing their foul cave warrens they found this poor prisoner.

Then she covered up the badge with one hand and said softly to the man… “I am new to these parts as are my companions. Is there something we should know before we take further service with the Lord?”

Meanwhile, na’Pungu did not help matters with his steel-tipped whip bumping into the pews as he came in with Valshea. As he politely tried to rearrange it to cause less noise, the rapier on his other hip clacked against the chairs on the other side. He grimaced with embarrassment, which, with his unusual face, came out looking like a challenge.

Dunstan was surprised by their story, and plainly believed they were exaggerating, or distorting the facts. He seemed to believe they were in league with the lord, whom he plainly did not like.

“Lord Ostwill is not well liked on this side of the river. His men have convinced some of the people that they are in danger, and they take liberties that are not due with the promise of protection. He charges unjust tolls to use a bridge that borders his territory – half of the bridge is in Namburil, but none of the money goes to the townsfolk.”

“His actions are morally reprehensible. If you are truly concerned, it would be best for you to not wear that badge around town.”

“Now, if you will excuse me, I have duties which require my attention”

He pointed them towards the door.

With a look of shock on his face Ander stepped forward.

“Good priest, believe me when I say I am a friend of the people. Never have I and never will I knowingly support the immorality of the parasites that call themselves ‘lords of men’. My companions are of like mind. Tell us more. You can trust me.”

The priest turned and nodded to Valshea, and looked disconcertedly at na’Pungu for a moment before shaking his head and continuing.

“I must apologize, it seems I have misjudged you. I should not presume character based on appearances.”

You felt that his apology was somewhat lacking in grace; he was obviously flustered.

“I’m glad to hear that you are of sound moral character. I would recommend you limit your dealings with Lord Ostwill, though perhaps he is not as bad as I had thought.”

He looked pensive for a moment, then continued.

“I must pray for guidance on this.”

“I hope to see all of you here for services in the morning. I truly have much to do to prepare, so I bid you goodnight.”

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