By Brian Flood
Chapter 2 - Introductions and Information
Kendall Keep, Kingdom of Cormyr
15th Day of Mirtul; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
Declan steps forward and leans on his staff. He nods respectfully to Jadale, and then turns to the other adventurers. He is wearing a dark red robe, bound at his waist with a yellow rope belt. Several pouches and a small bag hang from his belt. He is bent forward from the weight of his backpack. He looks around and then speaks, “Eh. Right. I can spot that we will 'ave ter become acquainted wiv each uvver ravver quickly.”
He pauses and continues, “I'm bloody well Declan, right, a mage of fire recently cut loose by me master. I 'ave wee and no experience wiv leadin' so would prefer is some bloke else would do that task. 'owever, I can and will advise the leader on matters of magic, if 'e likes.
Jadale nods briefly and transcribes Declan's name, as given, onto the charter scroll. She then waits patiently for the others to answer with their names.
A woman with a pale, lightly freckled complexion with shoulder-length dark brown hair steps forward, “I am Amiel,” she nods polietly to the lieutenant and her new companions. Her voice is slightly husky. She seems delicately beautiful for someone who spends a great deal of her time outdoors. Her sea-green eyes are playful and intelligent. She is very tall for a female, at just under 6 feet. Her build, however, is extremely slender. She always wears a large dark green hooded cloak with weathered, scarred black leather armor discernible underneath the cloak. She wears a 3' two-handed sword on her back under the cloak, and several throwing knives on her belt. Beautifully and cunningly worked silver bracers adorn each arm, and are the only items of jewelry she wears.
“I am pleased to make all of your acquaintances,” she continues. “If I may, I do have a number of questions that may make our investigations more efficient" she says to Jadale. Amiel waits for the lieutenant’s approval before beginning, “Firstly, are there any patterns in the raids that would indicate that there is in fact an organized force? Has anyone been sent to the famous Caves to investigate? Is it really extraordinary that gnolls have been seen so frequently? Wouldn't these types of creatures always have been around causing problems? And lastly, other than us, has anyone new moved into the town or Keep itself? Or perhaps, is there anyone who moves in and out of town regularly?”
Following Amiel's lead, Tirondalin steps forth from out of the assembled company with a long stride, and then turns swiftly with wide eyes to take careful note of each character before him as he fiddles with a delicate oaken ring on his middle finger. On his shoulders is strapped a dark green cloak that does well to hide the wearer, however this obviously young man, although thin, holds some might beneath his trappings of a woodsman. It is a subtly visible strength that is reinforced by the way he holds himself, tall and proud beneath a mane of black hair that is the very antithesis of the youthful radiance beaming from him.
On closer examination, are slightly but noticeably pointed ears; the only visible evidence that betrays his half-elven nature. Set upon a strong, roundish face is a pair of deep green eyes, as well as a straight nose fixed above lips that are curved into a very slight, almost mischievous smile, although one is troubled to guess what mirth there is in the situation at hand. There is little indication of any material wealth visible on his person. A silver medallion featuring a silver arrow with green fletching is hanging on a leather thong from his neck, and a bow whose excellent craftsmanship is evident even to the untrained eye is hefted over his left shoulder. A quiver full of arrows and lastly a light pack is strapped to the half-elf’s back.
Addressing everyone in the room, he states simply, “Greetings, everyone, I am Tirondalin Niraldien. A mouth-full I realize, so Tiron will do, I'm sure. My most effervescent Jadale,” he continues with that cheeky but innocent grin, “I offer my services in the name of the omnibenevolent Solinor Thelandira and with the help of this fine body of adventurers, an arrow will protrude from the rotted heart of whoever or whatever scum is marauding these innocent people, of which I am genuinely, deeply saddened to hear,” he says with a rather serious tone that is strangely a significant change from his former jovial demeanor. In regards to the issue of leadership...” he pauses, pensively, before proceeding, “I offer my services but would like to get to know the rest of the group before I am confident in my ability in comparison to the other individuals here, for surely there is much leadership potential assembled in this small room,” he finishes, and then turning to Amiel, he bows slightly while beginning, “Some fine questions, from a fine young lady, and I have two more to add to that,” he says addressing firstly the hunter, “Tell me, being a man of the hunt, surely you would have noticed tracks scattered about the scene?” he asks, and then, his attention back on Jadale, “I would also like to know more about these frequently mentioned Caves of Chaos,” he asks, and waits quietly for the response.
A young man steps forward from the back. He stands around 5' 10" and weighs around 120 lbs. His tanned face and even features are framed by jet-black hair pulled back into a ponytail, and a neatly trimmed full beard and moustache. He smiles broadly, with a smile that reaches his clear black eyes. His well cared for leather armor, studded with brass, matches the color of his eyes. On his feet are tall brown leather walking boots, folded over at the tops. On his belt hang scabbarded and tied a short sword and knife. The brown handle of a peace-bonded dagger can be seen in the top of his left boot. He moves with confidence and an easy grace.
“Hail Jadale; Lieutenant of Kendall Keep. I am Malk, recently of Highmoon. I seek adventure and would be pleased to join this company on such a quest. You can see though that I am young and as such no leader of such as are round me now.”
Turning to the assembly he speaks in clear modulated tones. “I am Malk, and though young believe that I can be of use. I can hold my own in a fight, and though I am no veteran warrior I can move swiftly at need. I have some skills with animals and also with herbs for healing and cooking. I swear here and now to use such skills as I have to support this quest if you will accept me as one of you.”
He returns to the back of the room with a broad grin on his young face, whistling a merry tune under his breath.
Jadale smiles and nods approvingly at Amiel, Tiron, and Malk. “Hail and well met to each of you. As for your questions,” she says, glancing from Tiron to Amiel, “allow me to finish scribing the names of your companions and then I will answer your well-thought inquiries.”
Turning her attention back to the group, especially those who have not yet introduced themselves, she continues. “I have four of you so far, would the remaining four please step forward and state your name so that I scribe it onto your charter?”
A man in his mid-twenties steps forward proudly. He is wearing leather armor with a green sash across his chest and there are so many peace knots protruding from the sash that it's impossible to tell how many weapons he has concealed under there. He looks around the room at the other adventurers with emerald green eyes that twinkle with fun and amusement, yet seem to be assessing everyone at the same time. He strokes his beard thoughtfully and says: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to make your acquaintance.” He makes an exaggerated bow. “My name is Salik. I am skilled in the arts or stealth and so I think would make an excellent scout for your little band, whether it be in the woodlands or in a Lord’s Mansion,” he smiles slyly as he plays with his moustache. “I prefer not to engage my enemy in direct combat, but if I must I can hold my own so I'll be no trouble.” He pats a strange looking weapon sheathed at his side.
Jadale nods wordlessly and uses the quill to add Salik's name to the list.
A short and stout figure wearing dented but usable chainmail armor and a bright green cloak with silver trim steps forward all the way to the desk. His neatly trimmed dark reddish-brown beard frames the lower half of a solemn, questioning expression. An open helm covers most of his hair but reveals his bushy eyebrows over steel-grey eyes that are the other half of the expression. You see his deeply suntanned face that could almost be considered attractive, almost but not quite. On a thong around his neck hangs some sort of amulet or holy symbol.
Velgardrin looks at Cob and asks “Hae ye seen any orcs er giants around heres? I don’t be liking them but me axe do.” He grins and pats the axe by his side then turns back to the desk.
In a gruff voice he says “I be Velgardrin of Clan Silverforge. It’s answering your call I am and willingly. And I likes to be seeing what these caves be too.” With a wistful look in his eye he continues. 'Twould almost be like home methinks.” Then he removes his right glove and extends his open hand across the desk, well a little across anyway, it’s a big desk but he’s only about four feet tall.
Jadale finishes scribing Velgardrin's name and then sets the quill down. She reaches across the desk and grasps Velgardrin's hand in a surprisingly firm warrior's grip. “Welcome, Velgardrin. And I regret to tell you,” she says with a slight grin, “that we have not had a significant orc problem -- at least in the past few months.”
As Jadale takes his hand, Velgardrin leans forward and kisses her hand. Then he raises his eyes to hers and smiles. “You are a fine looking lady you are.” Then he releases her hand and bows slightly before returning to the rest of the group.
The lieutentant blushes slightly as she resumes her seat behind the desk and readies the quill to scribe the next name.
A small figure with red hair and beard walks forward. He is wearing chainmail and a brown cloak. “I'm Baulin of the Clan Redbeard. We need to talk to some of the survivors and get on with it. I have no care to lead but will go where my dwarven brother goes especially for there be them filthy orc. I haven't killed some in some time. When do we leave?”
Jadale raises her eyebrows at the vocal version of a frontal assault. She nods briefly to the dwarf. “Well met, Baulin. The only survivors that are still here are you and Tiron. There were apparently no survivors from the group that Cob stumbled across. As for your departure date, I will leave that up to your companions.”
A young man steps forward next, adjusting a black tabard a bit self-consciously. A nervous smile lights upon his clean-shaven face. Removing a wide brimmed floppy hat from curly locks that hang to below his shoulders, he bows from the waist, sweeping his hat across the floor in a flourish.
“Hail, and well met Lieutenant, I am Alain Mornswith.” Recovering from the bow, Alain pulls back his shoulders and places his left hand on his peace bonded rapier, in an awkward pose. “When you speak of rewards I wish to assure you that the only reward I desire is to protect the people of Cormyr.”
Nodding, he turns on his heels, facing the group. A slight frown creases his features, “I understand the need to be cautious of an enemy, but I have little use for skullduggery. That said...,”a grin lightens his features. “I offer my services to the group. I have some little knowledge of the surrounding country and people. As well, I have been trained in the arts of war.”
“As for the matter of a leader. My Uncle Seth says that you can't be a good leader until you have been a good follower. As I have no experience as such, I would prefer to pledge my support to who ever the group elects as leader.” Smiling, Alain gives a half bow from the waist, and steps back to rejoin the group.
“Welcome, young Mornswith,” Jadale says with a smile. “I have heard tales told of your uncle – it would be wise to abide by his advice. And I can only hope his talent runs in the family blood!”
Jadale takes a moment to gather her thoughts before answering the series of questions that have been posed to her. “Let me start with Tiron’s question regarding the Caves. Perhaps a short history lesson is in order, here.” Clearing her throat, she continues.
“Some thirty years ago, when Lord Macsen established this stronghold, the focus of effort was to clear the area immediately surrounding the Keep. Macsen devoted most of his time to the affairs of the Keep and did little to patrol or explore beyond several hundred meters around the cleared area. Instead, being a retired adventurer himself, he encouraged bands of adventurers to come to the area and gain their fame by exploring the local area.
“One of the places that became a frequent foray destination was the Caves of Chaos complex. This series of caves and tunnels is located in the forest about three or four miles to the east of here – just a bit north of the East Way. Many bands of heroes went into the caves in the hope of defeating the humanoid residents. Some succeeded, and others were never heard from again.
“Eventually, about twenty years or so ago, the task was completed. Adventurers reported that the cave complex was abandoned. The tribes of humanoids that once inhabited them had apparently been either driven off or destroyed. As well, bands of adventurers also succeeded in eliminating a lizard man lair in the Lizard Mere and a bandit camp somewhere in the woods south of the East Way. Since the caves and the surrounding area no longer offered opportunities for would-be heroes, the adventurers moved on to other regions to gain their fame and fortune.
“And so, no one has been to the caves for over twenty years. In fact, only a few people in the Keep even remember that far back. I myself was born after the caves had been cleared. Therefore, there has been no need for anyone to explore the caves for almost a generation; even the adventurers who originally cleared the caves are most likely retired by now. There has also been little activity – with the exception of the past few months or so – from any humanoids or brigands. That is why the reports of bands of armed gnolls are a bit alarming.
“As for a pattern to the attacks, I cannot say that I see one. Those who survive attacks report that their robbers appeared human. Some have said that the robbers merely threatened violence; but then there are reports such as this recent one from Cob of entire groups being massacred along the road.
“Our location along the East Way brings many caravans to our gates. Over the years, many merchants have made the Keep a planned stop along their travel route. So, we have many ‘frequent guests’ as you may well imagine. But all of them have been coming this way for years – not just the past few months during the attacks.
“There are a few new arrivals that come and go occasionally. Most are travelers that arrive with a caravan and then stay past the time the caravan departs, only to sign on with another merchant later in the season. It would be best if you asked at the One-Eyed Cat or the Guild House for the names of these travelers. Also, Sabine – our gatekeeper – may recall a few noteworthy individuals.
“Cob,” she says, turning to the hunter, “what of the tracks? What can you tell us?”
Cob’s eyes widen at his inclusion in this lengthy discussion. “Uh, well sirs,” he stammers, “I ain’t never been a good tracker, ya see. I mostly just go a huntin’ in the places I’m knowin’. And, uh, I ain’t never seen a sight such as what I seen yesterday and I, well, I uh, I didn’t really think to stop an’ look for tracks and such.”
Standing near the eastern wall, leaning on his fine elven bow, Tirondalin is listens intently as Jadale and Cob sum up their answers. Before the veil of silence falls, he sets his bow against the wall and is quick to raise his voice while striding toward a more central position where he is easily visible.
“Well my friends, before we get lost in the vast details of the mystery at hand, I believe we should firstly overcome the issue of leadership since Jadale must see to the completion of this charter. Therefore, since no one else is willing, I offer my services with enthusiasm,” and his once serious tone is washed away with the return of his omnipresent grin. “As you can see I am young in years, but I consider myself strong of will, wisdom and initiative, as well as being carefully aware of the dangers we may face, if my encounter before reaching the Keep is any example of those. I would strongly advocate that all members of the party take part in the decision making and problem solving processes, as each man and woman here is equally as important to the function of the group.”
He stops, deep in thought for a moment, before continuing, “And yes, if you are wondering, it is not my place to come out here in such a brash manner, yet I felt the need to make a quick decision on this issue, especially while innocent people's lives are threatened.” Finished, the half-elf awaits a response patiently.
Salik steps forward and looks at Tirondalin with a piercing gaze. “You seem like a worthy leader even if a little arrogant,” he says with a sly smile. “I will follow you on this adventure wherever it may lead us.”
He slaps Tirondalin heartily on the back. “So who is with us? Will Tir make a good leader? Well time will only tell, but only if we give him a chance first.”
Barely pausing to take a breath he whispers in Tirondalin's ear, “You don't mind me calling you Tir do you? Long names always seem like a waste of breath to me.”
Tiron smiles, returning the adventurer's warmth, “You may call me whatever you please, Salik, I am of an easy-going nature.” And then, turning on the group, he cannot help blushing slightly while continuing in an apologetic tone, “As Salik mentioned, it was arrogant of me to jump to the fore in that manner...however I was motivated only by wanting to offer services to a position not yet filled so that we as a group may work quickly and effectively together to help Jadale and the people of the Keep. I beg forgiveness if I did offend any of you,” he finishes with seriousness in his green eyes and sincerity in his low bow.
Baulin walks over to Tiron and hits him on the back. “Tiron, I saved you earlier and I'll stay to watch your back so don't you worry about it. Let me know when we leave because we have some unfinished business. So, what about the rest of you? Will you accept Tiron as our leader?” Baulin looks around and at each person in the eye.
Malk speaks up. “Tiron, my mother was wise and told me, ‘One volunteer is worth ten pressed people.’ You have my vote to lead us willingly given.” He grins and adds, “So leader, when do we leave on this adventure?”
Declan shrugs, “Sure. I will. 'e seems ter be worff and trustable, and 'e wants the chuffin' job now, right, don't 'e?” Declan smiles shyly, “No offense meant, boyo.”
Velgardrin calmly looks Tirondalin up and down as if measuring him and calculating his worth. “Aye. I’m no longbeard so I’ll follow yer fer now seeins as how the volunteerin is pretty slim. And so,” he gestures with his head to include Baulin, “how are yer feelin about the Deep Folk?”
Then Velgardrin turns to Amiel and says, “Yer a fine-looking lass ye are. And yer standing tall in me heart right now, too.” He winks at her then turns back to the business at hand.
Alain nods to Tirondalin, “You have my vote. The ability to jump in and make a choice is a good quality in a leader. As for the name of the company, one is as good as the other.”
Malk steps across to Tiron with a smile, “Well, looks to me like you are the boss then, boss. What's the first order of business?”
Tirondalin, still standing tall, still smiling wide, is heartened by the response from the group, feels an instant camaraderie with its members, and he projects such feelings into the room. However, he is reluctant to assume any position of leadership unless the decision is unanimous.
While awaiting Amiel's response, he inclines his head toward Cob, “Hunter, how many hours until one reaches the site of these murders?”
Cob frowns and then says, “I’m guessin’ it’d be near one glass or so to git there from here. Ya just follow the Easy Way ta de east til it veers inta the woods – right near where the river’s gone an’ washed out the main road.”
Following Cob’s answer, Amiel crosses her arms and regards Tiron for a little while before speaking softly. “The leadership of our party is yours, my new friend. I will do my best in ensuring that you are given as much support as possible. But please consider the fact that your decisions may end our all lives! With the approval of the rest of the group, I'd like to volunteer my services as your lieutenant. This will be especially important if, something happens to you or if we have to split into smaller groups.” She looks at him with a strange gleam in her eyes as if she is testing him, but there's something else. Admiration? Curiosity? It is hard to tell. “As for a name, why don't we wait awhile? A name for the company is something that should come from it's deeds and adventures....and we haven't had any yet.”
Tiron pauses before turning back to the militia lieutenant. “Mistress Jadale, apologies for making you wait, surely you have much to do. You will certainly see us before long, but for now, it seems that we, or yourself for that matter, have no further queries?” He asks, addressing the assembly.
“I feel it important we return to the One-Eyed Cat and discuss our options and our plan of action over refreshments. The talk of murder weighs heavy on my mind. What say you, brothers?”
Seemingly forgetting something, Tiron suddenly turns his attention to Velgardrin. “We must have a talk Velgardrin in the hope that you may impart upon me your wisdom of the Deep Folk!”
Lieutenant Jadale inclines her head, looking at the half-elven adventurer. “I have given you all the information that I could think of, for now. Unless you have any further inquiries, I will wish you luck in your task. Please report to me with any information that you discover.”
With that, Jadale pushes back her chair and stands up behind the desk.
Alain rubs his chin and looks from Tirondalin over to Amiel. “Amiel makes good sense, having a second in command would lighten the load of leadership,and provide a clearer chain of command. Lets face it, we haven't exactly chosen the safest professions.”
Alain continues rubbing his chin his eyes slightly unfocused as if his gaze was focused inward. “I would also have to say that I spoke in haste before, about the naming of our newly formed company.” He shakes his head slightly, his eyes coming back into focus. Looking to Amiel, Alain smiles, “You're idea for not naming the company is, I feel, the correct choice.”
Turning to face Jadale, Alain drops his hand from his chin back to the hilt of his rapier and fingers the peace bond. “One more quick question from me, lieutenant. Now that we are under charter, may we remove these, or is it still required within the keep? In addition, will we each be issued a writ giving us sanction to bear arms?”
The militia lieutenant answers Alain’s questions, saying, “We would prefer that you kept them bond within the Keep itself – you will find we have little tolerance for violence within our walls and an unbound weapon would only serve to lead you into trouble. As for the specifications of your charter, your party will be issued a SINGLE copy of your charter on which all of you will be specified by name. Thus, if you choose to bear unbound arms within the Keep lands, you must be together – no individual sanctions will be issued. And let me stress again – your charter is only good on those lands that the Keep controls. If you venture beyond those, you are out of our sphere of influence and you must obey the Cormyrian laws – that is, to keep your weapons bound. Of course, the King offers charters to adventuring bands that are good anywhere in the Kingdom. But, those charters are available in only a few locations – Arabel is the closest to here – and are quite expensive. I believe the going rate is around one thousand gold coins.”
Amiel says nothing as Alain agrees to her suggestion of leaving the naming of the party until later. Instead, she fixes Jadale with a sly look, “I'd ask that the hiring of our party NOT be made public information. A band of adventurers is normal in these parts, but a band of adventurers with a charter to end bandit activities is instantly a target for ANY and ALL bandits. They will naturally try to fight back as a matter of survival once it becomes known what we are trying to do, and the element of surprise is gone. Therefore, I consider it a good thing that only ONE charter is issued. It makes it that much more difficult to find in case we are captured. Because, if it is found, the bandits will execute us. If they think we are just adventurers, they'll just rob us and turn us loose so that they can rob us again!”
She pauses and considers something for a moment, “Then it's odd that they butchered that party. Shoved a spear through her and left her there? Ugh. Stinks of cruelty. There may be more going on than we think.” Shaking her long dark hair, she adds, “We really must try to keep our charter a secret. I'd advise that the Keep continue advertising for adventurers.”
Jadale nods at Amiel’s words. “You make an excellent point. For now, we shall continue to advertise for adventurers. And we will keep your charter as cloaked in secrecy as we can. Obviously, Sabine – the gatekeeper – and some other key figures will need to be informed. Other than those, the general announcement will be avoided.”
Amiel looks appraisingly at Cob, “I'm wondering, friend, whether you'd like to join us. We need a guide in these parts and you seem to be familiar with the environs. You may be extremely valuable in helping put down the bandit threat. However, that any drunkenness will be dealt with harshly.” Her pretty features wrinkle delicately into a mock frown.
Cob’s eyes widen at the suggestion. “Uh, sure, why not? What would I be needin’ to do?”
“I came here a free man. Now I've got two bosses and a quest!” says Malk with a grin. “I suddenly feel the need for a serious drink. Perhaps we could see a man about a One Eyed Cat, and discuss what we do next?”
Velgardrin idly comments in his usual gruff tone. “Err, we need to doing something soon else my purse will be too light to remain in these walls. Mayhaps these bandits er gnolls would donate ther funds ta sustain me.”
He winks at Amiel and with a happy grin and says, “Perhaps I could save me purse by bunkin with you. Yer so fine-looking and so tall. What say ye lass?”
Amiel fixes Velgardrin with a smoldering look. She looks him up and down. “Sorry, my little friend but I'm already sharing a room with Malk here,” she says rather sternly. Her face breaks into a sudden glittering smile, “But thank you for the fine words! I think that drink that Malk was talking about is starting to sound good. Shall we?”
With that, Amiel quickly bows to Jadale, swirls and heads for the door. At the door she pauses and waits for the rest of her companions, before heading off to the One-Eyed Cat.
After a brief absence from the conversation – during which he watched with wide eyes the interplay between his new friends – Tiron once again becomes his animated self with a short laugh. “Well Velgardrin, a forward fellow you are!”
He then addresses Amiel, “My lieutenant...no, I do not like that term, Amiel is by far the prettier,” he announces with a kind smile. “Your position is welcomed by myself. With such a sharp mind as yours,” he continues, reflecting on her questions toward Jadale, “the group would surely benefit.”
Turning to Jadale, he begins, “Thank you, mistress lieutenant for your time and your acceptance of our group whom you have my word will do their best to overcome these troubles faced by the fair people of the Keep. We will report as soon as anything of significance is discovered. However, Solonor teaches me action, not words. To the tavern!” calls Tirondalin melodramatically with a jovial grin, as he heads toward the door. He stops abruptly, “Ah, Cob, I will ask you to accompany us and I shall buy you a drink. It is mid afternoon and I imagine we will take the initiative and head out to the site of the murders before the setting of the sun.”
Cob nods wordlessly and moves to join the small group as the exit.
“One last thing, Tirondalin,” Jadale says, stopping the priest in his tracks. She reaches down and selects another of the rolled scrolls on her desk and hands it across to the half-elven party leader. “I think you will find this useful to your planning,” she states with the wry grin of an experienced campaigner.
“Fare thee all well. I will eagerly await your return!” With those final words, the militia lieutenant executes a sharp right-face and exits the room through the northwest door.
The party leaves the Hall of Justice by the same way in which they entered. The guard escorts them back to the gardened area and politely bids the group a good day.
The content of Company of the Silver Claws is the property and copyright of Brian Flood, and are not to be published or redistributed without permission.
Return to the Company of the Silver Claws main page
Return to Campaign Logs