By Beth Griese
Date: January 16, 1999
|Borreau||Blonde Human||Tempus Cleric||Brian Smith|
|Lorivar Menasson||Short, dark, & hairy||Monk||Vaughan Herron|
|Nory||Gnome||Illusionist / Thief||Stu Collins|
|Telaran||1/2 Elf, Buzz Cut||Fighter||Jim Gaynor|
|Verence Gallow||Thin human||Mystra Cleric||Kent Jenkins|
Quote of the Day:
"He's noble of bearing! He's blinding of teeth!" -- Jim L
To Garen Thundersson, cleric of Mielikki. From your faithful friend, Jade.
We reached the town of Proskur with our wagon of giant and dragon booty and found that a carnival was happening. Nory was tickled, until we pointed out that the extra people and bustling of a carnival made it that much easier for our wagon to be pilfered from, which made him a little more serious like the rest of us. We decided to try to pick our way through the outskirts and find a spot where we - and our wagon - could safely spend the night. Why am I no longer surprised when our simplest of plans don't work out like we expect?
I'm not sure which of us first noticed the man hawking entrance to the "Tent of Mystery." But the carnie was a familiar face - the very one who had sent us through the illusory carnival tent over a year ago right into the hands of the mad magician Mutator. Our plan to make it through town quietly was forgotten.
We approached the carnival hawker and, though he recognized us immediately, he started trying to haggle a deal with us, like some slimy goblin who can't keep from grabbing at purse strings even with the jailer's iron around his neck. We drew swords on him and he changed his tune quickly, dropping to his knees and begging for mercy as if we were highway killers. Most people scattered fast at the sight of naked blades, but one group stayed... another adventuring party, surely, by the dusty look of their clothes and the well-worn look of their weapons (and holy symbols, and spell bags).
I picked up our mercenary hawker and held him up in front of the rest of the Wayfarers. I really mean that I held him up - he wasn't interested in getting his knees to lock properly. Before we got three sentences into speaking with him, Nory piped up out of the blue with a surprising demand - that he drop his illusion. He tried to claim ignorance, but all of us know all too well that Nory knows his illusions, so he finally (after a few shakes) changed the view around us. His clothes were less flashy. The magnificent tent was now a latrine stall. And even the adventuring party was not quite so flashy - or as tough-looking - as before.
Answers came quickly after that. Melvin, the illusionist carnival worker, had been paid by the Mutator to send us to his trap. He didn't know anything more about the Mutator, or about this adventuring party he had souped up for our benefit. And the man was trembling enough in my hands that I believed him.
He offered to give us passage anywhere we wanted, like he had done to the Mutator's trap, in exchange for not facing the anger of our party. We were afraid of a double-cross, of course, so we told him he'd have to come with us back to our home. He agreed, given he could get rest and board there for the night before he sent himself back to... wherever he wanted to go next. The deal was struck.
Next we turned our attention to this other party. They were called the Company of the Crossed Swords, a well-trained group who had been together almost twice as long as we had, and were cocky as jays about it. But after a few moments of cautious feeling-out (mostly in the form of bravado stories), they seemed no threat to us, and both parties (with Melvin, of course) seemed to decide that this was now the campsite for the night.
Telaran and Lorivar decided to go into town to get enough ale to really enjoy a night of mixing with another adventuring party. One fellow from the Crossed Swords - a cleric of Torm, no less - at first wanted to take the idea of "mixing" a little too seriously with me, but before I could even tell him how bad his idea was, Borreau had strong words for him and a stronger arm to put around me. It was sweet, really - it's rare for anybody to come along who's brave (or foolish) enough to make Borreau jealous.
Nory created a sealed hut around the wagon to protect it, then settled down to talk with Melvin. That combination made me - and a few others, I noticed - frown with some suspicion, but what was I to do? It's not illegal for two illusionists to talk to each other, much as I might like it to be.
Lorivar and Borreau returned with a wheelbarrow full of a keg and some bottles... and some interesting news. They had run into some clerics of Leira, the joybringers, who smelled the scent of a party and were planning to join us later. Some of the people in both of our groups acted as if they were given early birthday presents. I was glad the wagon was sealed up.
I met the other party's ranger, Richard the Wood-lover (I think his friends must have given him that name), and he was a good fellow who taught me quite a few things just in a short conversation about the forest paths in the kind of weather we were having. By the time our conversation slowed, Obmi and Melvin were singing so loudly together that we didn't immediately notice the parade that was headed our way from Proskur.
I do mean a parade. A line of torches that must have been 150 people long snaked out of the city. By the time the head reached our camp, everyone's attention was centered on it, which turned out to be a huge wagon filled in a pyramid three people high with ale casks and with joybringers riding on every available surface. Dancing at the front of the wagon was a woman named Arlath, who introduced herself as the joydancer. Our little mixer had now turned into an impromptu town festival. Now I was very glad the wagon was sealed up.
Arlath quickly took an interest in Verence. She told me at one point in the evening, as she leaned against his blushing face, that Verence seemed the most in need of happiness. I couldn't argue with her.
Telaran and Lorivar got into sparring matches with members of the Crossed Swords, which sparked a lot of money changing hands among the townspeople. I think the Crossed Swords had already had too much of the ale, for neither offered our men much competition, though they both looked to be excellent fighters. Telaran's opponent hit his own leg with an early strike and bowed out of the spar quickly. Lorivar's man kicked a wagon wheel and, I think, managed to nearly break his foot. I saw him later getting consolation from a couple of joybringers who couldn't let his defeat ruin his good mood for the party, so I don't think he held any grudges by the time morning came.
About the time in the night that I saw Arlath leading Verence away from the fires, I decided it was time to steal away with Borreau and try some of Richard's new tips for passing through a forest without leaving a trail for any drunken party members to follow. Whether anyone tried, I don't know, but despite the raucous celebration which could probably be heard in Suzail, Borreau and I enjoyed a peaceful night together under the stars. Let the joybringers go get their own joy.
In the morning, after rousting quite a few drunk villagers and sending them packing back to town, we were ready for Melvin to take us home. To my surprise, Arlath and her small troop of joybringers wanted to come with us, as did the company of the Crossed Swords. I guess she decided that for all the joy Verence was needing, a town he had founded would need all the more happiness. We ended up on the road just outside of home, and the first glance at the town of Weston was a shock. It had grown even more since the last time we saw it. Jeremiah told us later that the town's citizenry now numbered over 1,700 people. Unthinkable to me!
We sponsored a feast with the treasure of our latest journey, and the joybringers came in handy with their suggestions for the party. We had enough gemstones to give a small bead to every townsperson (I saw some children using theirs for games in the dirt). Arlath took up residence in Castle Weston with Verence, who never complained once, although I swear to Mielikki I caught him trying to look more morose than usual just to merit more attention from Arlath.
The company of the Crossed Swords stayed for a while in Weston, too; I think they enjoyed having another adventuring party to talk with. I appreciated the chance to show off the Mielikki shrine and the surrounding lands to Richard, although I know he taught me much more in those days we spent than I managed to teach him.
All told, it was a well-spent and peaceful summer that we spent in Weston. Your visit was the highlight - I'm so glad Borreau found you and you agreed to come see our new home and the town around it. Seeing you in the Mielikki shrine outside Weston was as proud a sight as I think I've ever seen. I'm sorry again for that ridiculous story Verence told you about me expecting a baby - you know how my friends are, and I think Arlath is starting to really have an effect on Verence.
Until next letter, I remain,
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