By Brian Flood
Chapter 21 - Splitting Up
At the Main Gate
Kendall Keep, Kingdom of Cormyr
Noon, 18th Day of Mirtul; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
The sun is at its zenith as the exhausted adventurers raise their heads to gaze up at the cold, stone walls of Kendall Keep. The drawbridge is raised, leaving a gap between the road and the gatehouse towers.
As they set the litter to the ground, a voice cries out from the northernmost tower. “Halt! Who goes there? Friend or foe?”
“We are friends!” yells back Amiel, stepping forward. “Lower the drawbridge and let us speak with Gatekeeper Sabine! We have a wounded party member that needs attention!” she continues loudly.
Turning her head, she says, “Cob, come forward please so that they can see you.”
“By Solonor’s bow, for all the security you’d think this place was besieged by roaming bandits,” comments Tiron wryly, before a thought occurs.
“Must we bond our weapons again, I wonder?” the half-elf asks his companions as he stares up at the tall walls.
As Cob steps forward, the guard continues her shouted inquiry. “Names?” she calls out.
The tired dwarven priest replies in a thunderously loud voice. “My name be Velgardrin Silverforge and I be friend.” Then he places anything he’s holding on the ground and peace-bonds his battleaxe in its sheath. Next, he checks on Baulin’s condition.
Declan sighs and leaned tiredly on his staff. “Amiel, right, just tell the guards ‘oo we are all and be done wiv it, right? I’m bloody well tired of standin’ out ‘ere in the wilderness and need someplace quiet wivout monsters ter worry about.”
Malk glances at the others around the litter. “Yes, can we just get in there? After Baulin is cared for, I could do with a bath, and so could some of you,” he chuckles. Then he peace bonds his sword, and as he looks up at the gray walls, starts to hum light tune under his breath, the first time that day.
Watching the wall he says to no one in particular, “It was not this difficult when we first arrived as individuals. I wonder if anything has happened, or if they were not expecting us to return?”
“Well?” shouts the guard’s voice, preempting any response from the others to Malk’s assertion. “I have heard that one of you is named Velgardrin – who be the rest of ye?” she asks. “As Helm is my witness, ye won’t be settin’ foot inside ‘til I have yer company name er yer individual names, if that’s wot it takes! And I won’t be summonin’ the Gatekeeper for every ragged band of miscreants that drag themselves to the moat, either!”
“I see at least two of you know the law on peace-bonding,” shouts the guard from the second tower. “I’d recommend you tell your friends about it – since we won’t be letting you in – names or not – until you bind those weapons!”
Setting down his corner of the gurney, Alain looks down and begins peace bonding his weapons. Using his lowered head to mask his words, Alain whispers to the group. “Easy my friends, guards have a prickly sense of honor, and Cormyrians are renowned for taking a dim view of those with a dry sense of humor. Besides, if any of you are wounded, I would have to lay siege to the Keep, and I am sure no one wants that.”
When he is satisfied that all of his weapons are secure, Alain lifts his head and smiles at his companions. Stepping forward and flipping back his cloak to display his black tabard, Alain proclaims in a clear voice. “Hail Gatekeeper, I am Alain Mornswith, friend to Kendall Keep and those who she protects.”
Lifting his hat, Alain runs his fingers trough his hair in an effort to straighten up. “We may be a little ragged but we are far from being miscreants. Please forgive our unseemly appearance at your gate, we have been harshly tested on the road leading here."
Looking to the tower, Alain gestures to the party. “My friends will happily bind their weapons.”
Lowering his hat and resettling his cloak, Alain steps back and resumes his position at the litter.
“My name is Amiel and this is Salik, Declan, Baulin, Tiron,” she says to the guard pointing to each in turn. “Malk, Vel, and Alain have already stated their names. We will bind our weapons as we did when we entered a few days ago.”
Turning to the others she says, “They’re going to be difficult about this, so let’s just do it – and do it now.” She emphasizes the last. Then putting her own words into action, the tall woman starts tying up her sword with a piece of cloth from her pack.
Salik grumbles has he hastily peace bonds his trusty scimitar and his vast collection of daggers. “Should serve me right for carrying so many weapons,” he says gruffly. “Still, at least I have two daggers less to bond thanks to last night’s escapades!”
He leans over to Amiel and asks softly, “Didn’t we have a charter or some other document? My memory’s a bit hazy after the recent events, but I thought Jadale gave us some legal documents...they would help speed this process up.”
The guards watch from the towers as the adventurers peace bond their weapons. When they are satisfied, the southernmost guard announces, “Right!” Then she disappears from view.
A few moments later, the drawbridge starts to lower with the clanking of gears and chains. After the bridge has been lowered across the moat, the party sees that the portcullis is still in place in the sally port between the towers. Then, the face of the second guard reappears in the battlements above. She gives a curt nod to her companion and then the northernmost guard disappears from her post.
After another brief pause, the portcullis slowly rises. Glancing into the gloom of the sally port, the adventurers can see that the set of large double doors at the western end of the entry passage remains closed.
A small shutter in the barred right-hand window opens and Sabine’s familiar face appears. “Ah!” she exclaims. “You have returned – and in two day’s time. But I see that one of your own has fallen.”
Her eyes conduct a quick scan to verify that the adventurers’ weapons are properly bonded and then she closes the shutter. Immediately thereafter comes the sound of a great bar being slid back from behind the double doors.
The large portals open to allow a view of the courtyard beyond. Sabine looks again at Baulin’s still form and then says, “I would suggest you take your friend to the chapel – Chaplain Abercrombie may be able to help him, Torm willing. And I imagine that Lieutenant Jadale will be wanting to see you now that you have returned. One last thing – a small merchant caravan arrived yesterday. They probably took rooms at both the ‘House and the Green Man, but I imagine you could probably find a few rooms to squeeze into. But, enough talking already – you all should see to your business. As I told you when you arrived, we expect civilized behavior out of all who dwell or visit here – there will be no exceptions, regardless of your cause. As long as you mind yourselves, you should have no problem.”
Amiel smiles and waves a greeting at Sabine. She says nothing as the gates are opened, her mind clearly occupied.
Looking up from carrying the litter, Alain’s grin becomes a full smile. “Well met Sabine. Any news about this trader? Is he perchance an arms dealer?”
Sabine directs her attention to Alain. “Ah, the young Mornswith lad, isn’t it? As for your question, it was a mixed caravan – a collection of varied merchants. One of them was an armorer – but that does not guarantee he has any weapons for sale or trade.”
“Pardon my interruption,” begins Tiron apologetically before Alain has a chance to reply, “but I met Abercrombie on our previous visit and I’d like to get Baulin to him. I'm concerned for the color in the dwarf’s face. I’ll need some help with the weight, of course,” he states matter-of-factly, slinging his bow over his shoulder.
Giving a quick smile to Sabine, Alain looks back to Tiron and then to Baulin as the ranger’s worry shows itself. “Of course Tiron, I did not intend to delay any treatment to friend Baulin. I am ready when ever you are.” Squatting down, the warrior grips his end of the litter, ready to transport his ailing friend.
“Right,” replies Salik, “I’m going to go to the market and try and sell this earring. I think I might sell some of my stuff too, as this backpack is getting rather heavy.”
The rogue glances questioningly at Amiel. “Where and when shall we all meet up? In the same tavern as we were before?”
“Let’s get Baulin to the good father,” Amiel says to rest of her litter-bearing companions.
To Salik, she gives the coins that she took from the bird-woman. “We’ll need some rooms. I don’t want anyone sleeping alone if possible…getting paranoid. So, find rooms with two or three beds each. See if there are any at the Inn we stayed at before. I think we could all use a decent night’s sleep in a decent bed. I think you should wait before selling the bauble – it may be magical after all.
“Dec, I’m sure you can ascertain such, you go with him. We’ll meet you at the Inn. Vel, you come with us. Tiron, I need you to show us the way to the priest so take an end,” the ranger directs, nodding at the litter.
“Everybody ready? Good! Remember, we’re just adventurers looking for employment and are here because of the Caves. NOTHING more…”
As the party members prepare to follow Amiel’s instructions, Salik takes Declan aside and shows him the earring. “Can you tell if this is magical then?” he asks the mage. “I have my serious doubts that it is. I think it’s just a bit of jewelry, but it would be a shame to sell it if it indeed does have powers.”
Declan takes a look at the earring. “Now that we are hammer and tack in town, I can cast a spell that will tell me such a fin’. However, right, I need ter rest first. Yesterday’s exertions wiv them vampire bugs left me wiv no spells, do wot guvnor! Do yer mind waitin' until I rest?”
“Alright, fair enough then,” Salik replies. “Do you need to buy or sell anything? Or do you just want some rest? I need to go to the market to get rid of a few things in this backpack of mine, do you want to come or go straight to the tavern?”
Declan pauses then smiles, a genuinely warm smile towards the adventurer. “As much as I would like ter come wiv yer, right, I fink I ‘ad better go find a place ter lie dahn and cop some rest, right? ‘owever, if yer could buy a few fings for me I would appreciate it.” Declan then proceeds to give Salik a list of spell components that Declan needs – nothing too out of the ordinary, things that are readily available in the common markets.
“Oh, before I forget, do wot guvnor! May I keep the earrin’ or do yer want ter hold on ter it?” Declan asks.
“I’ll hold on to it for now if that’s alright,” the rogue answers. “I want to get it valued by the merchants in case it’s not magical.”
He hands Declan the money that Amiel gave him. “Here, you take care of all the room bookings and I’ll see you by the bar.” Salik winks at the mage as he goes off in search of the market.
The rogue has gone only a few steps when he yells back over his shoulder as he has a sudden thought. “Remember Declan, you’re supposed to get everyone’s rooms with that money – don’t spend it all on ale!” With a cheeky grin, Salik disappears into the crowd.
Reminded, Declan goes to get everyone a room. The remaining party members all turn their attention to carrying Baulin’s litter to the Keep’s chapel.
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