Campaign Logs

Company of the Silver Claw

By Brian Flood

Chapter 5 - Canvassing the Keep, Part 2

Kendall Keep, Kingdom of Cormyr

Late Afternoon, 15th Day of Mirtul; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)


Salik replies to Jess’ inquiry saying, “We have just traveled from Arabel actually and are taking a break for a while after a long journey. I acquire many strange and beautiful things from far off lands and peddle my wares around the realms. Unfortunately, I have sold all my merchandise in Arabel or I would offer you a gift from my collection. You shall have to make do with the tip I'm afraid.” His eyes twinkle merrily as he smiles at Jess.

“Tell me Jess, is there any particular region which is particularly bad for Bandits? A place where people tend to get robbed more than the rest of the land?” He taps on the table thoughtfully with a silver coin. “Come to think of it.....have there been any strange occurrences or robberies in the town? Are we safe here or need we post guards to protect our wares?” With that, he gets the money out of his pouch.

“I will only have one ale, seeing as my companion has rudely left me all alone,” he winks at Jess. “You can have his drink instead. Here,” he presses the coins into Jess's hands, “and thank you.”

Jess returns Salik’s smile saying, “Thank YOU sir! As for your question, most of the robberies have occurred east of the Keep, and all have been along the road. And, no, there have been no incidents here in the Keep. Jadale and Sabine see to that!”

“Now,” she continues, “let me go get you that ale. I’ll be right back.”

The serving girl moves off to fetch Salik’s order. After a few brief minutes, she returns.

“Here you go,” she says, setting a tankard of ale in front of the ‘merchant.’ “Will there be anything else?” she asks.

“Just one more thing,” Salik answers. “Do you know anyone personally who was attacked or are these just rumors? I would very much like to talk with one of these poor victims so I may recognize these bandits.” His eyes gleam with menace. “Once I find them, I do not think they will bother me again,” he says quietly to himself.

Jess shakes her head in a negative reply. “Yes and no. Those that told tales of being robbed were mostly traveling merchants. They stopped here, told their tale, rested and then moved on. And those groups that the bandits haven’t robbed and let go….” She shudders involuntarily before continuing. “Well, there’s been no one left alive to tell the tale. They’ve just been found…..butchered,” she gasps, barely able to contain her emotions, “butchered like animals along the road! Just like the group that Cob found yesterday,” she finishes with a stifled sob.

Salik pats her arm reassuringly. “There, there, I’m sorry so see you distraught, but I must learn all I can about these terrible people to protect myself and my friends, you understand? So these bandits have actually robbed no one from the town? Were the poor souls that were...killed…traveling merchants also?”

Jess shrugs. “No one who lives here really has need to travel much. We grow are own crops, raise our own livestock. Passing merchants trade for whatever else we need. As for the travelers that were killed and robbed -- I don’t know. They might have been merchants. Some had wagons, so I guessed they were merchants, anyway. They were just travelers, I guess. The Trade Road gets pretty busy – so we get a lot of traffic through here. Most of ‘em stop here for a meal or a drink before they move on. That’s where we get our tales from.”

“Thank you very much Jess, you've been a great help.” Salik downs his ale and moves over to the table where the others are talking to ‘Third’.

“I'm off to see what I can find out at the marketplace,” he announces. “I’ll meet you back here at sundown as agreed,” he says, and then strolls out of the door.

Salik finds that the market square is devoid of people. The few permanent merchant booths set against the western wall of the Keep sit empty, awaiting the next market fair. In the center of the market, the large nymph-shaped fountain gurgles softly as water softly splashes from the front of the statue to the round pool at its base.

Salik clicks his tongue in annoyance that the market is deserted and decides to return to the tavern. He opens the door to the One-Eyed Cat and almost runs into Malk and Alain who are – apparently – on their way out.

* * * * *

{Alain, Baulin, Malk}

Malk grins broadly and shakes Third’s hand warmly. “I would wish I could always make friends as easily.” He executes a lavish bow, points to Third and mimes eating and drinking and then shrugs.

For a moment, Third remains motionless as she digests Malk’s gestures. Finally, she shakes her head.

Immediately after Third’s response, Salik arrives at the tableside. “I’m off to see what I can find out at the marketplace,” he announces. “I’ll meet you back here at sundown as agreed,” he says, and then strolls out of the door.

“Baulin,” Malk says, addressing the dwarf, “how could I possibly leave you to look after this lady all by yourself? Don’t you appreciate the company?” he teases, knowing Baulin’s reputation as a ladies’ man.

“Malk,” Baulin retorts, “what do you not trust me to be left alone with this beautiful woman?” He smiles as he speaks.

Malk smiles in return and then waves to Third as as if greeting or fare welling her. “I’m going out to see what is happening Alain,” he declares. “Shall we go out into the Market Place?”

Alain rises and drains his ale. “A stretch of the legs sounds good Malk. How ‘bout a tour round the market?” Looking to Baulin, "Did you want to come?"

Baulin nods in response to the two adventurers. “Ok, I'll see what info I can get here.”

* * * * *

{Alain, Malk, Salik}

With that, Malk and Alain head for the door to the One-Eyed Cat. Reaching it, they run into Salik, who is on his way back into the tavern.

Malk strolls off with Salik and Alain into the market place. “I'll do a little juggling and maybe a bit of entertaining to get a few people around. Mayhap you two could get talking with some of the friendly souls that come to watch, about these raids?”

“Ho there friends,” greets Salik, “Where are you off too? I’ve just gone to the marketplace and there’s no one there...absolutely deserted. I was hoping to find a few merchants that might know of the robberies.”

The three companions shrug in unison and return to the tavern. Soon enough, the others return from there tasks and the party moves to its original table and gathers around Tiron, the elected leader.

* * * * *


Baulin watches the others leave. He turns back to ‘Third’, “Now where were we?”

The dwarven warrior pulls up his axe and points to it. “Battle axe, this is my weapon. Third’s weapon is ...” Baulin then puts his weapon down.

‘Third’ looks at Baulin blankly. “Battle-axe…?” she asks, with a quizzical cant to her head.

Baulin says, “Yes, it is a weapon.” He then decides to try something and ask in dwarven, <Do you speak dwarven?>

“Weapon…” repeats ‘Third’ narrowing her eyes and frowning. At the dwarf’s comment in his native tongue, she cocks her head and looks at the stout warrior in bewilderment.

“Sorry, was seeing if you spoke dwarven,” replies Baulin. “I am a dwarf. I am Baulin the dwarf.”

Once again, ‘Third’ frowns at Baulin’s attempt at communication. “Baulin…dwarf…” she repeats, somewhat uneasily.

Baulin looks at Third’s weapon. “Nice weapon. What kind is it?”

‘Third’ retrieves the large spear that leans against the nearby wall. “Stick – er,” she pronounces proudly.

The interchange between the Baulin and ‘Third’ is cut short as the other party members re-enter the tavern. The group reforms around Tiron at the original table.

* * * * *

{Amiel, Declan}

Amiel waves to the smith as the pair of adventurers approach, “Good day, Master Smith! My name is Amiel and this is Declan. We’ve arrived lately in town and are wondering what sort of weapons you can make? We will need to provision ourselves as we have heard rumors of bandits and so forth.”

The smith sets his hammer and tongs down and stands erect at the hail from Amiel. “Hello yourselves! I am called Rafe.” He frowns before continuing, “I regret to tell ya that I don’t have any weapons for sale here. Don’t make ‘em either. I can do some simple repairs, if ya need ‘em, but I don’t have the skill or equipment to be makin’ armor an’ weapons an’ the like.”

Declan approaches the forge, his eyes curious. The flames and the coals seem to fascinate him about as much as the smith intimidates him. Declan doesn’t say anything, but his eyes are bright and almost feverish.

Amiel glances disapprovingly at Declan. “Hmm, no weapons you say, friend Rafe? That's odd. I would have guessed that given the trouble in the environs of the Keep lately, there would be a pressing need for weapons.”

She considers something for a moment. “This also means that you don’t supply the Keep’s militia, so where do they get their arms from?”

Rafe shrugs. “Not sure what you’ve been told, but there hasn’t been any trouble in the Keep lately. There’s been some trouble along the Trade Road, sure – but I’m not sure how a stockpile of weapons will keep a road safe. Anyways, the militia keeps its weapons in old armory. We got enough arms for our people and a few spares left over. Those times when we need something, the Castellan just buys or trades it from a passing merchant.”

“I see,” replies Amiel. “The trouble along the Trade Road was what I was referring to. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that would you?” she asks a little hopefully.

Rafe nods in response. “Only those rumors that have been circulating the Keep. Seems as though someone has turned from petty robbery to murder. I believe the Castellan has put out a call for free-swords to look into the matter.”

Declan has moved closer to the forge and is staring intently at the coals and the heating metal. He seems to be rather excited and is muttering something under his breath.

The smith frowns in Declan’s direction and then turns to Amiel. “Is your friend all right?” he asks.

Amiel smacks Declan on the shoulder. “Hey!” she says. She begins to pull him away from the smithy, “Get away from that! Master Rafe, we bid you good evening. We will be sure to be in touch with you if we require any repairs to our weapons or armor. But one final favor I beg of you. Would you be able to give us directions to Arpad’s house?”

Declan pulls away from Amiel with a growl and a scowl, “Hey! I won’t doing nothing. I was just looking! Let go of me ye scurvy wench!”

As Amiel lets go of him, Declan turns to smith, “Ye have ma apologies, good smith.” Declan shrugs, “Some familiarity with the fire ye see, and ye forge awoke it within me. Forgive me if I intruded.”

Rafe raises his eyebrows at the verbal exchange between the two customers. “Uh,” he says, “Arpad’s been missing for some time now. Her father, Asham the cooper, lives across the way from the Guild House. You all have a good day, now.”

With that, the smith returns to his work and the two adventurers head back to the designated meeting place. As they make their way through the Keep’s outer bailey, Amiel turns to Declan.

“Just looking?” says Amiel in exasperation. “The smith was starting to get as concerned as I was. I thought you were about to throw yourself in to the forge!” Her eyes suddenly narrow – still pretty, but definitely no longer friendly. “Scurvy wench?” she asks the mage archly.

Declan still hasn’t lost the scowl. In fact, his usually placid demeanor has been changed to one of surliness.

“Yeah,” he says. “All I were doin’ were ‘ave a lookin’. Perhaps I ain’t as worldly as yer Amiel. I were ‘ave a lookin’ wile yer went on. Yer the chuffin’ one wiv the words so yer talk ter the blokes, so wot! I just wotch buggers. So I were wotchin’ the forge. Is that a problem?”

Declan shrugs, he is clearly frustrated, but he squares his shoulders and heads back to the inn with his companion. His accent has gotten thicker with his emotions.

The two adventurers make their winding way through the outer bailey of the Keep. They soon rendezvous with the other party members at the One-Eyed Cat.

* * * * *

{Tiron, Velgardrin, Cob}

Tirondalin raises his hand and in friendship, which is expressed more in his wide smile than his simple greeting. “Pleasure to meet you Moseley!” he exclaims. You have a fine establishment here, indeed. My friend Velgardrin,” he introduces with a nod of the head toward the dwarf, “and I have come to make some purchases. I myself need some torches, and I’d also like to see what in the way of rope you have...” he finishes, searching the walls laden with goods.

The storekeeper returns Tiron’s infectious grin. “I’m sure we have somethin’ here that’ll meet yer needs!” he says. He walks to a nearby by shelf, saying, “Let’s see what we ‘ave here….”

A few moments later, he turns around, holding a cluster of thick branches that have been wrapped with oily rags. “How many torches did you say you needed?”

“Three will be fine,” Tiron responds.

“Alrighty,” the Moseley replies as he sets all but three of the torches back onto the shelf. “Now, he continues, “I have two kinds o’ rope. I got yer normal hemp – three twists, it is – and I got some of this silk rope. The silk’s a lot lighter, but it’ll cost ya a little more.

“I’ll take the hemp,” Tiron replies. “And tell me, how does one provision a store with such a comprehensive range of goods while being such a distance from civilization?” the half-elf inquires eagerly.

Moseley grabs a coil of hemp rope from the shelf and walks back to the counter. “Well,” he says, “I do some purchasin’ from merchants when they pass by ‘ere. Being set along the Trade Road has its advantages, I tell ya!”

The storekeeper chuckles before continuing. “Now, that’ll be one gold lion and three coppers for these. Is there anything else I can get ya?”

“You better add something to light my torches with, if you would Moseley,” replies Tiron. “And in the name of safety, if I could ask for something along the lines of healing equipment?” This last is a half-query, betraying his ignorance in the healing arts.

“Hmmm,” Moseley mumbles as he returns to the shelves. Shortly, he returns with a leather sack and two small items. “Flint and steel,” the storekeeper announces, indicating the two smaller items, “and a healer’s bag. This ‘ere bag ‘as bandages, needles, and the like.”

The quartermaster pauses as he does the math in his head. “That’ll be seven gold, five silver, and three gold coins for the lot,” he says.

Tiron digs into a belt pouch and produces a handful of the proper coins.

Moseley nods and turns to Velgardrin. “And for you, sir?”

Velgardrin says, “And I be needin’ a blanket. These nights even a dwarf be catchin’ a chill sleepin’ without one and they be chargin’ lots ta rent one.” Then he mumbles something and the others catch a few words. “innkeepers… dwarves made of gold…common room.”

Moseley nods and walks over to yet another shelf. Humming softly to himself, he shuffles through a selection of blankets and finally selects one. He walks back to the counter and sets it down.

“That’ll be five silver falcons for the blanket, good dwarf,” he announces.

Turning away from Moseley, Velgardrin reaches inside his clothing and withdraws a pouch clinking lightly with coins. He carefully counts out 5 silvers and then turns back to Moseley and with obvious reluctance exchanges them for the blanket. Then, he stows the blanket in his pack.

“I be havin’ flint and steel if ye needs it Tiron. And I have a lantern just in case.”

Tirondalin continues to talk with Moseley, trying to maintain a light-hearted tone, “And these traveling merchants always ensure you with a steady supply of goods, sir?” He thinks for a moment, twisting his ring, “I myself was attacked by a small group of vicious bandits on the way here, and my journey was quite short. I question the safety of valuables passing over a relatively large journey?”

Moseley shrugs. “I’ve heard no problems from the larger merchant caravans. Some of the smaller groups are attacked, sure. But that’s why merchants and the like usually travel in large groups – safety in numbers, and all that.”

Tirondalin listens carefully to the merchant as he packs up his newly purchased items into a rugged backpack. “Do you yourself know anything about these bandits, are they murderous, are they organized, are they human?” He pronounces ‘human’ with some emphasis.

“Are there any merchants presently at the keep that have encountered these robbers?” The half-elf realizes he has just bombarded the man with questions, and seeks to excuse himself with, “I do not fancy being set upon during my travels, and wish to take utmost caution, is all.” He says this last piece somewhat apologetically, and absentmindedly smoothes a loose strand of dark hair behind his ear.

Moseley’s eyes widen at the barrage of inquiries. “Let’s see,” he says, “where do I start? I’m not sure who’s in the Keep right now – you’d probably want to check at the Guild House, that’s where most of the passing merchants stay. As for the bandits, those merchants I have talked to said that they were human – or at least closely related. The brigands wore masks, so I guess they couldn’t tell for sure. Not sure how I’d tell about the other stuff you asked.”

Tirondalin nods his understand, “Well let us hope that someone does something about this menace soon, for both our sakes!” he adds with a friendly smile. Once all his belongings are properly packed, he hefts the load over his shoulder and mounts the straps, “Ugh, so much for traveling light!” he exclaims with a grimace. Turning toward the dwarf, he asks him quickly, “We be finished here, Vel?”

“Thank you Mosely, for your time and your fine goods, and I wish you good business,” the young half-elf says as he turns toward the door. Velgardrin, having concluded his business and thinking of nothing to ask, follows Tiron out of the store. While waiting for Cob and his friend to exit the shop, Tiron bows slightly before he himself leaves, closing the door gently behind him.

As the three companions stand together outside, Tirondalin directs a question to Cob, “How long has Moseley been at the Keep?”

“I reckon he was born ‘n raised ‘ere,” replies the hunter.

“Ah, I see,” Tiron replies thoughtfully. “Well Cob, you’ve proved your worth already, I am grateful for your knowledge. I must see if your hunting skills are of matching proficiency,” he states in grinning jest, almost a boast. “But as for tonight, where will you be staying?”

“’Spose I’ll get me a place in the common room at the Green Man,” Cob answers.

And so, the three adventurers travel back to the One-Eyed Cat tavern. Entering the tavern, Cob splits off from the party and moves toward the bar by himself.

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.

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