By Scott Kujawa
Date: 2nd day of the 1st tenday of Mirtul to the 3rd day of 1st tenday of Mirtul in the year 1375 - The Year of Risen Elfkin
Time: Morning to Early Afternoon
Location: Headquarters of the Red Shields to Phlan.
Weather: Warm and clear.
Similar to Lantanese clockwork Luie woke an hour & a half before dawn. He made his way to the kitchen to have a cup of tea and once he was done, he started to get everything ready for the trip out of the compound.
Caerlin woke about an hour before dawn. She held her symbol of Mielikki and said a quick prayer for her, and her companion’s, safety and for their mission to be successful. Once she was done, she quietly packed her backpack, donned her armor and weapons, and headed downstairs. She had a quick breakfast of porridge and tea before heading outside to help Luie with the supplies.
Valentre was already awake as was the gold elf since they only need four hours of rest. He took care of all grooming issues - and then said his prayers to his deity for his swift feet and quiet actions. He looked across the shared room and saw that the gold elf was awake and ready to leave. Valentre stood and proceeded downstairs and outside to help his companions make ready to ride.
Ithyria woke at dawn and readied herself for travel. She went through her ritual that started with brushing her long hair and wrapping it up tightly about her head. Once she was done she gathered her things and prepared to meet her new companions. She stopped downstairs for a cup of warm tea and some toast before heading outside.
Ragnar woke shortly after sunrise, cleaned himself up, puts on a more somber outfit consisting of a brown shirt, dark blue breeches, boots, and a brown cloak, and went down to the common room in the tavern once he's put on his rapier, prepared a place in his sleeve for his katar, and put the quiver of crossbow-bolts at his sword belt. Once in the common room he ate a quick meal of ham, eggs, and fried sausage.
* * * *
Luie waved Caerlin over. ”Nice day for a ride,” he said with a smile. He looked up at her and continued, “I’m almost done and I just need to finish with the last horse. I think I might have gotten enough supplies for the expedition but I did not take into account the other two members. We got only the four horses but I plan on riding with someone, however, if the sixth member does arrive then that person will need to bring there own horse.”
Caerlin smiled as she walked over to Luie. "Aye, it does seem like it will be a nice one. I am sure that there will be enough supplies, between all of us."
Valentre looked around at his companions - especially the Ar'Tel'Quess. "This is where we'll have our work cut out for us. I hope you all are ready. Goblins may not be fierce by themselves, but they fall quickly to a pack mentality. Let’s scout the ruins so that we may make a plan for our enemies swift demise. Do not worry, lady gold elf, since Ragnar has obviously volunteered his protection for Caerlin, or the other way around, I will protect you and make sure that your spells bring terror to this scum." With that Valentre turned to Caerlin, "What did the scout tell you about this tribe?"
“I don’t know much about the tribe but she did say that there are some trees and other ruins we can use as cover. There’s a tree that is taller then the others on the south side of the manor that provides shade to it.”
“Valentre, I never claimed to have taken a woman under my protection because it often ends in a sharp smack, as I'm sure the lady wizard will teach you soon if you're not careful," the bard remarked.
“I merely know that she will be of utmost importance to the success of the mission. I would never presume to one's bodyguard," Valentre said with a wry smile.
* * * *
Once each member of the Companions of the Silver Wyrm had finished their morning actions, they mounted. Luie rode with Caerlin while the others rode by themselves. They passed through the compound and they left by the southern exit before they turned east. They rode through the mostly cleared countryside since the company keeps the beasties from getting to strong. However, they did see a pack of nine wolves the second hour that Companions rode. As they passed across the river on the ferry, Luie opened the saddlebags and handed a potion to Caerlin and Valentre while explaining that they are curing potions with two doses each. When they were an hour away from Phlan, all of them noticed the red-flame covered hound that was loping northward and away from the party.
Ragnar remained largely quiet for the ride, until they saw the red-flame covered dog. He pointed at it and asked, "Have any of you seen one of those before?"
Luie turned in towards the north since that was the direction Ragnar pointed. “No and I take it that that is not normal?” Luie relinquished his grip on Caerlin and put one finger in each of his ears. “Are we there yet?”
"You should be cautious because that flaming hound is a hellhound, and probably much more fierce than all of us put together. We should remain somewhat focused, don't you agree?" the gold elf said as she looked after the hound that is heading away from them.
"A hellhound? Apt name, I guess the big flames should've been a give away. But surely there's no risk of it turning up in one of the stores in town? It'd seem a bit inconspicuous, I'd think? Never-the-less, care shall be taken lady wizard." Ragnar nodded.
Caerlin half turned to Luie, shook her head, and rolled her eyes. The bard took up his flute and he started to play it until they reached the gates of Phlan. An hour later, the Companions of the Silver Wyrm arrived in civilized Phlan and passed through the guarded gates. They knew that the entrance to the ruins was to the north of the growing town and that they had to pass through the settled part to get to the ruins.
Luie removed his fingers from his ears and placed both hands on Caerlin’s waist before he leaned over to get a better view of Valentre and the town. A wooden road led towards the heart of civilized Phlan from the gate. Houses, shops, and only a handful of taverns and inns lined the main road.
Ragnar finally stopped playing and he rolled his eyes at Luie. "You know, I only played scales at first and the rest were all reels my master learned when he visited Luiren.” He favored Caerlin with one of his many winks. "Caerlin, I guess we'd better try and find that statue that Synalee mentioned and perhaps we can learn what kind of cultists we have to look out for."
The hin chuckled at Ragnar before he got a serious expression. "I’ve never been there, of course with music like that..."
"I will search up ahead for this statue that you are looking for - and the cultists that worship it. Unless you have become bolder, and you wish to do the scouting from now on?" Val said.
"So are we going to take the horses with us to the ruins instead of stabling them? Should we muffle their hooves... Wait, what? Cultists?” Luie said from behind Caerlin.
Caerlin spoke up, “Yes, the scout told me that as she was leaving the ruins, she spotted about six human male cultists just to the east of the four-way that leads back towards Phlan." She looked over at Ragnar. "She said that they were worshiping a stone statue, didn't she?"
"You can do the scouting and it's not a lack of boldness on my part. However, bards were not made to do things quietly you know," Ragnar said with a smile.
“I’m not surprised.” Luie rolled his eyes. “I like your plan Ragnar, and Val can scout and we will stay in the back to let the women protect us. And we can have a light snack too? It’s been at least four hours.”
Caerlin turned towards Luie and raised an eyebrow at him over her shoulder. "Let us protect you, hmm? And do you ever get enough to eat?" She chuckled and turned back around. "Well, shall we find someplace to stable the horses and get Luie something to eat? And when does everyone want to go into the ruins? Today, or at first light?" She looked up at the sky and thought that maybe they had hours of light left.
"I’m always hungry. I have a bottomless pit for a stomach.”
Ragnar looked up as well and saw the same. "How about we decide once Valentre returns from scouting? If there's not enough time to enter the goblin-lair then we can go look for the cultists, provided our wood elf friend finds it."
Caerlin nodded. "That’s fine with me if that is how everyone else wants to do it."
"Hmmm... sure. We could at least take in the sites near the gate that leads to the ruins and it’ll allow Valentre to find us easier."
"Very well, I will go ahead when the time is right. Ragnar, be sure to protect the women, that way you can be the hero of your own epics!" Valentre said with a smile. "Right, Caerlin, where about was this statute supposed to be at? I will go scout out the terrain before we finalize our plans."
Ithyria put her hand on Valentre's shoulder as he is prepared to separate from the group. "I will accompany you. You may need help if those creatures are what I think they are." She dismounted from her horse and handed the reins to Ragnar. "Will you please take care my horse? We Tel'quess are better scouts on foot."
Ragnar accepted the reins from Ithyria. "Certainly m'lady," he said, "I'll look after it as if the company quartermaster would make me pay for it if I lost it. Just be careful, I'd hate for me to become the group's most accomplished spellcaster. Tymora's blessing to the two of you."
Caerlin nodded at both of the elves, and relayed what Synalee told them of the cultists and ruins as she took the reins of Val’s horse. "Be careful, and may Mielikki guide your steps. But before you leave, where shall we meet again, and how long should we wait before we come looking for you?"
Ithyria turned to Valentre, "Shall we?"
Valentra and Ithyria broke away from the party and headed north towards the gates of the ruined part of Phlan.
Luie kept watch as the others talked about the cultists and he noticed one male human glance at them for a moment before he continued to walk along the right side of the main road. Caerlin looked around at the buildings that looked to be newly built in the last ten or so years as well as the many different men and woman. Ragnar looked around as well.
"We should probably get a bit further into town because there’s not much to see here." He turned his smile towards Caerlin, "Perhaps we should get our lovely archer a dress for the victory celebration?"
“More than you realize, my friend.” Luie settled back on the horse. “Just a moment Caerlin,” the small agile hin said before he rolled off the horse before he gave a beaming smile at her. “You can hit him now.”
Ragnar threw up both of his hands in a warding gesture. "There’s no need to get violent! I promise we'll get you one as well, Luie."
"Only if it has bells," the hin said with a laugh.
Caerlin stopped her horse, shook her head, and chuckled at the two of them. "Nay, no dress for me Ragnar, but a new shirt might be nice. On the other hand though, one for Luie might not be a bad idea." Caerlin continued to laugh as she reached down and helped Luie back onto the horse.
After the hin accepted her hand up and settled on the horse, he said, "How about a kilt with bells on it instead?"
Ragnar bowed in the saddle, a move that is somewhat spoiled by his tight grip on the reins. "Right, that's settled then. A nice not too opaque shirt for Goodmaid Caerlin, and nice dress with bells on it for our Tymoran friend. Bass or Tenor?"
Luie shook his head before he looked up at the blue sky. "It is a kilt!" He grinned, "Tenor." Luie motioned his hand towards some of the newer buildings on the right side. "How about further in that direction, I think I smell some food."
Luie took care to not fall off the horse as he stood on top of
the horse and leaned over Caerlins' shoulder. With mirth issuing from
his voice he said, "Hey, since we have the horses, lets ride past them
and meet them at the entrance to the ruins."
Caerlin hung on to the horse, and looked up at Luie. "What are you trying to do, get a broken neck? Or worse yet, are you trying to break mine as well?" She then looks around to see what kind a spectacle they are creating and saw some of the residents staring at them.
"No, of course not, if I wanted to do that..." His eyes went a bit wide and he gave a sheepish grin. "Nevermind, I apologize." Luie turned to look at Ithyrias' horse and mumbled something to himself. His head then popped up over Caerlin's shoulder again. "So are you going to do it? Huh? Huh?" He then began to eye the mages' horse again. "I think I can..." he said as he rubbed his chin.
Caerlin looked back up at Luie. "So are we going to do what, meet them at the ruins? I don't know... It might be a good idea for all of us to stay together. And you think you can what?" She looked concerned by the scheming look in Luie's eyes.
"Well Ragnar, since you put it that way." Luie sat comfortably back down behind Caerlin. "We can still beat them to the ruins entrance and still get a midday meal."
Ragnar guided his own and Ithyria's horses closer to that of Caerlin, and Luie - taking great care not to spook the two-seated steed. "Luie, care to borrow the elf-lady's horse? It sounds as if it'd give Caerlin a calmer time of it. Not gallop I hope," Ragnar said. "Now be a nice halfling and we'll get you something to eat first. I'm sure there'll be a stall selling live herring in a bun or whatever the local delicacy is in Phlan."
"I think I will.” Luie said as he stepped onto her horse and it rolled its eyes at the smaller and lighter rider.
Caerlin turned a bit green at the thought of eating a live fish, and she looked at Ragnar. "What do you think about them going off by themselves? Do you think we should find them or just wait and hope they return?"
"We should intercept them before they head in. I don't mind Val scouting, if he was only a hundred yards or so ahead... but..." Luie scratched the back of his neck. "I have a bad feeling about this."
"That sounds like a good idea. However, maybe we should keep a certain distance, just to make sure that if something catches either them or us unawares, the other group will have a shot at responding? I know Luie may think otherwise, but I doubt my flute will be enough to scare away a group of cultists, or some goblins guarding their lair."
Luie looked over at the others. "I agree. Except for the part about your flute."
Caerlin nodded. "As do I. Well let’s head that way, and get Luie something to eat as we go through."
They finally came to an agreement and headed north towards the guarded and sealed gates of the ruins. One tavern/inn could be seen near the gates and it was called The Swinging Chain. Of course, since it’s near the ruins, it wasn’t as well kept, and clean, as the couple of places that the unit already passed. They also passed quiet a few stables.
"Well, Luie, you have the greatest experience when it comes to eating, what shall we have?" Ragnar asked the halfling.
“It being a port city, we could start off with some sholehe-ghalamkar. Filled with herbs, rice, and lamb meat, I think. Oh, I’ve seen some dwarves out there, maybe we can have some infamous dwarven drunken beef!” He rubbed his stomach. “I’ve heard that kobold was good eating. Especially when marinated in irongut ale.” Luie watched Caerlin for any interesting color changes. “Then there is always the old stand by, cheese and bread with goat eye stew. Dessert can be pickled eels and onions.”
Caerlin turned to look at Luie with a slightly pained look before she shook her head. "You can order any “delicacy” you wish. But I think I'll stick with a slice of beef on some bread. And I'll eat outside to keep watch for Val and Ithyria and that way we can go in together."
"Kobold?" Ragnar gave Luie a peculiar look. "I'll admit that stewed goblin brains taste a lot better than it sounds, but kobold? That’s not my cup of wine I'd say and I think I'll go with the beef and bread with maybe a dollop of mustard. Shall I go in and get the meal or does one of you wish to do it?"
“You can do it. It would take the barkeeper ten minutes to look down at me. And beef and cheese is perfect and it will be served to us faster since we are in a hurry.”
Caerlin shook her head at the two of them while she watched the street. "I think it would be best if you went in Ragnar. Luie and I will wait here and watch the street, and the door to the tavern/inn, in case you get yourself into trouble." She reached into one of her belt pouches and handed Ragnar a gold piece. "I'll buy this one, but one of you can spring for eveningfest." She smiled at the two males.
Ragnar accepted the gold piece as he gave Caerlin a bow. With a twinkle in his eye, he asked, "Are you sure you don't want a dress instead?" Before she could comment he hurried into the tavern/inn to get them their food.
“He sure does want to see you in a dress. Come to think of it, he wants to see a lot of folk in dresses. That is very...” he rummaged through a small sack on his belt before pulled out a small bit of sandwich, “...very strange” Luie sniffed the tidbit before he ate it and started to watch the street again but he saw no one that was taking undue interest in them anymore.
Caerlin watched Luie eat his leftovers, and turned back to watch the gates. "Aye, he seems to have some fixation with dresses." She shrugged. "I hope we didn't miss Val and Ithyria, I don't think we should have split up... Especially since they didn't say where and when to meet." She frowned a bit and shook her head. "Oh, I forgot to ask, how did your fishing go yesterday?" Caerlin turned back and glanced at the tavern/inn door, then behind her, then back to the gates.
"There’s no need to frown, they have not passed us. We are on horses and they are on foot. Unless they are taking a different entrance to the ruins, they must come in this direction." The halfling gave a distant smile, "It went well. Lady Luck populated the cool stream with plenty of fish for me. I am certain most of the people at the inn at well that night.”
"There was fish last night?" She frowned again. "The barmaids said nothing about it to me when I asked what was available. Ah well, mayhap another night." She looked at Luie. "Is there another gate into the ruins? Neither Synalee nor the Commander said there was, but maybe there is. How long do you think we should watch for them?"
"This is the only gate that we were told about, unless Val went over the walls and I doubt that, so they will be here soon. We can wait until it is three strikes of the bell before dark and then we will go in." Luie started to tap his foot. "Yup, any time now.... Ragnar will bring the midday meal."
* * * *
Once Ragnar entered the Swinging Chain he walked straight towards the innkeeper and caught his attention by flashing Caerlin's gold coin. Once he had ordered the group's meal, he hastily added, "You haven't by any chance seen any strange looking folk sneaking out into the ruins lately, goodman innkeeper?"
“There’s always adventurers and others entering the ruins. Can you describe said strangers?”
"Hmm... I'm afraid not," Ragnar said. "I was told by a friend that she'd spotted some stranger-than-usual people mucking around a statue in there. She thought that I should keep my eyes out for them, but she didn't get close enough to get a good look herself. Never mind, though, if I don't bring this food out to quickly, the hin waiting for most of it will most likely use me for a meal next."
“There’s always strangers coming and going around here and through the ruins...”
Ragnar stepped out of the building carrying the bread and mutton in two baskets. "Well," he said. "Here's smoked rothé meat and freshly baked bread. Do leave more than one piece of each for me and Caerlin now, Luie," Ragnar said with a grin at the halfling, keeping a wary eye on Caerlin. "I asked the innkeeper if he'd seen anyone strange pass into the ruins, but it appears we need a closer look at those cultists if asking around is going to help."
“Sure,” Luie took a small bit even for a hin, “I thought that we were contracted for goblins. Are the goblins dressing up?”
Caerlin smiled and took a slice of both. "My thanks, Ragnar. Well, what is strange to one person may be completely normal to another. Chances are there are quite a few people who go through here everyday looking to make a name for themselves by clearing out the ruins." She took a bite of food and turned back to watching the street. "Whether or not they come back out is the real question."
Luie’s head nodded in agreement as he made enjoyment noises as he reached for another slice.
Caerlin watched the street and gate while she ate her food before she turned to look at Luie and Ragnar. "Why don't we go ask the guards at the gate if they have seen Val and Ithyria? That might be more productive than just sitting here watching Faerun pass us by. Then, if they have already gone in, we can stable the horses and go after them. I am sure the guards will remember if someone from the Company went through, since we have been hired to clear that part of the ruins."
“Brilliant idea. We have unique credentials giving to us with the Phlan City Council stamp on it. Let’s go!” With his horse in tow, Luie made his way towards the gate.
Caerlin smiled at Ragnar, "Shall we?"
"By all means," the bard saids with his mouth full of bread. "Lets."
Caerlin and Ragnar followed Luie as the two taller humanoids held the reigns of the horses. They stopped for a moment to allow the gates to be opened after showing their seals and once they were through the strong and fortified gates, the gates closed behind them. The sounds of locks and bars being put in place could be heard behind them.
Stretching to the north of them is what was once the main road through the larger city until the dragons came and burned the old city. The map that they have shows that after fifty, or so, feet the road turned into the four-way and the goblins are west of the four-way. The smells of rot, char, decay, and other smells wafted among the ruined buildings. Bones, coins, broken buildings, and other items could be seen littering the spaces between the buildings. Every so often the three of them also saw flashes of magic light up the ruins. And screams, grunts, cries, yells, and other sounds, in many different languages, could be heard among the rubble. Ragnar wrinkled his nose at the smell and kept a close look at the ruins nearest them.
* * * *
Valantre broke off from the group to head towards the gates that are sealed that lead to the ruins. The gold elf followed after him and once they waited for the gates to open they entered the ruins. The gates closed behind them but they knew that the guards would open them again once they two were close enough for the guards to see.
Val stuck to the shadows and kept his foot steps silent as he headed south. Screams, grunts, moans, and other sounds filled the ruins and the two elves continued to see movement out of the corner of their eyes. Once he got to the four-way, he paused to better get a bearing on the place. He marked the passage from where they came with a piece of chalk.
"Ithyria, we are going to a not so nice place it seems and it might be best if you stay close and keep your footfalls light. Be prepared, though, we may have to move return to Phlan in a hurry if we run into trouble."
With that he prepared to head west towards the goblins since that would be the most logical move. Ithyria kept close and behind Valentre as he crept forward. She tried mimic his footing, and as she walked she began focusing her mind for the possibility of danger and the castings that she will have to perform if the two of them run into trouble. As the passed many different ruined buildings, some which look like they melted, and others that have just fallen over, they smelled death, rot, decay, and other unpleasant smells. The sounds of screams, cries, shouts in many different languages, battle, and other sounds could be heard as well. The two of them felt many eyes watching them and every so often they also saw flashes of magic that came from those that could use the Art and Power.
After keeping to the shadows, the two elves finally made it to the manor to the west and they entered one of the abandoned buildings near the manor. The wood elf looked across the road and noticed the tracks of about six or so goblins entering and leaving the manor. The tracks don’t lead in any one general direction and they led in all directions. Every so often he saw, through the shattered windows, a goblin head look out before it moved away from the opening.
"Should we try to sneak past, or do you think they will just leave us alone?" Ithyria looked around and back the way they came to make sure that they were not being shadowed and she didn’t see thing that was taking an undue interest in the building the two elves are using as cover. "What do you think we will find at the manor?"
"Well, my friend, that manor is our objective for this mission," Valentre mused. "We should go get the others before we attempt to enter the manor. Plus, I will be interested to see if the half-elf has bedded the archer yet." Valentre turned around and began to bring Ithyria back to Phlan.
Before they returned, they found the other three members of the Company standing at the four-way.
* * * *
The two elves soon met the rest of their Unit at the four-way as the elves came from the west.
The bard raised a hand in greeting to the two elves and kicked his horse into a trot to cover the short distance between them. "Oloré, Ithyria and Valentre, have you found anything worth mentioning in this cesspool of a place?"
Caerlin moved up to the elves while she watched all around them. "Well met Val and Ithyria," she said as she pulled her bow off of her shoulder and readied it.
"Well met," Valentre said with a smile. "I’ve seen some goblins, but not too many - though they are holed up in the mansion down the avenue. With all of us prepared, we should be able to take the mansion. I suggest Caerlin and Ragnar keep your bows ready. I will try to draw their fire as I sneak to the mansion. Luie, are you up for a fight?"
"I’m ready. So what’s the plan? Does it involve the front door? Or does it involve the window near the shade tree? Burning the manor down?" the halfling asked.
Trips Cantorum, who is a black haired and pale skinned male human that that has been seen around the mage tower at the settlement, could be seen heading towards the Companions of the Silver Wyrm from the direction of the gates that led back into civilized Phlan.
Ragnar dismounted from his horse as he spotted Trips coming towards them. The bard pointed at Trips as he unstrapped his crossbow from the horse’s saddle, "Hey, I recognize that man, I think I sawr him when I stopped by the mage tower yesterday. Does anyone know him?"
Trips noticed the gathered group and he recognized that these were probably the folk he was supposed to be "Cooperating with to help clear the ruins.” He made his way over to them and waved his hand lazily in greeting while he spoke to the peculiar black raven that rested on his shoulder in a language that sounded like hissing and deep reflections of stone scraping against stone.
"I suppose all of you have come up with a plan already? Now if you don't mind, I'd like to be filled in on the current situation. If we must do this, let's do it quickly so I can get back to my studies," Trips said after his discussion with the animal.
Ragnar took his crossbow in one hand and leaned in to speak quietly to Caerlin in Illuskan. "Somehow, Ithyria seems almost personable all of a sudden, don't you think?" He straightened up and addressed Trips, with a glint in his eyes, "Well... we were thinking to take whatever guards they have by surprise by having the squad-member least handy with a sword make a diversionary attack on the main gate whilst the rest of us climbed the back wall. We were just about to give Ithyria here our well-wishes, but I suppose that you're a decent enough fellow to save us that bother and take care of her task instead, right good mage? Oh, and I'm Ragnar, the elven mage is Ithyria, and the wood elf that is no doubt shooting daggers at me with his eyes is Valentre. The halfling is Luie and if you have the time and inclination, you can discuss dress-patterns with him later, I think he likes bells. And the charming archer with the beautiful, brown tresses is Caerlin."
Luie nodded at the newcomer and at the mention of new clothes he tapped his vest.
"I say this once bard, and once only. If your foolishness and general disregard for this mission causes any single person harm, be sure that I will make the choice that is good for the group, and for the people of Phlan. Your incessant flirtations with the archer are becoming a distraction. If you two wish to bed each other, do so on your own time. We have come here to clear the warrens, and that we shall."
Luie put his hands around his own small throat and made a gagging face towards Trips. He stopped and then clapped his hands together and fluttered his eyes at the Caerlin. Luie stood proud while he gave a snappy salute that would impress a cleric of Tempus.
Valentre turned to Trips. "Well met, we'll have need of a level head and a sharp mind for this mission. If you are a wielder of the Art, then we shall have much use for you and thank Tymora for your timely arrival. Luie and I will move through the shadows to the manor and try to get inside. Ithyria has volunteered to help bolster the group that will prevent the goblins from running too far. You may choose which group you wish to join.
"Luie, are you ready for some entertainment? I do hope so." With that Valentre drew his blades and leveled the group a serious look. "We are on a mission - do not forget."
Luie flexed a small bicep, "I am ready Val to smite evil and take care of these non-cultist goblins." A quizzical expression passed on his face as he asked, "Er, which way are they? And what is with the explosions earlier?" He put his hands on his hips, "Who is shooting at you this time?"
Trips spoke in that strange language to his raven again before he addressed the group. "We can possibly gain a temporary over these goblins from the confusion that will be caused from us coordinating the two attacks at the same time. I would go with the group that is sneaking in from the back, but I'm not very good at sneaking. So I think I would be most effective with the group at the main gate. But if there is to be bickering, save it for the long ride to Shadowdale. I'm you all can work out any problems with each other during that long and hopefully relatively uneventful ride."
Trips bent his head lower to hear something that the raven on his shoulder has to say and then he leaned against the nearest building and pulled a small book from the inside of his robes and started to read it. Once he noticed the group again, he said, ”The plan seems sound, just tell me when everyone is going to be ready."
Luie watched the exchange between bird and master. He started tapping his chin wondering which one is in charge. "Does the big crow have a name? Can I pet it?"
Trips looked over at Luie and lifted a finger to gently rub the underside of the raven’s beak. "His name is Kaejax, and he doesn't like to be touched by anyone except his master. The pair of us are not one for getting our hands dirty, but unfortunately for me, I have to stay while Kaejax enjoys the quiet respite of the mage tower back at camp. If anything should happen to him, I would be deeply grieved. He has been a good companion and will be hard to replace." Trips gave the raven another affectionate nuzzle before he commanded to it in the strange tongue that only he and the raven seem to understand. The bird then took flight in the direction of the mercenary camp.
Caerlin looked at Valentre and shook her head before she said something in a language that only Luie doesn’t understand. "I'm not sure what has your breeches in a twist, but Ithyria and you going off by yourselves was not in the best interest of the survivability of neither you, nor this mission.” She continued in the common tongue, “Now... if everyone is done throwing insults around shall we do what we were sent to do?"
Caerlin raised an eyebrow and looked at the entire group. "Well met Trips. We should be done in time for your studies to have not been to badly put behind."
She turned to Val and Ithyria. “Now, would the two of you care to inform us where all the yelling and magical flashes are coming from? How concerned should we be about them?" Luie bobbed his head up and down in joyous agreement.
Caerlin turned to Luie and smiled. "I don't think that we should have a need to burn down the manor at all since that would be a little too obvious."
"Aw, but Caerlin,” the hin kicked a small non-existent pebble out of the way, "fire is good. Fire is my friend."
She turned to Ragnar and quietly spoke in Illuskan. "It seems that for some reason, your jests are not taken in the manner that they are offered. It might be wise to tone it down a bit, before parts of you are removed."
Now that Caerlin got that off her chest, she looked up through the ruins and saw that they had hours of light left. "Now, let's get this done before we lose anymore light."
Luie mumbled, "No one ever likes my plans. Fire is a good plan. We wouldn’t have to worry about the dark... and being cold." He shuffled towards a horse to conceal his mirth.
The bard smiled faintly before he answered, "Worry not Caerlin, my old teacher often chided me for my lighthearted view on life, and considering that he was a bard as well, that says a lot, I would think."
Ragnar turned to Valentre. "Shall I take that to mean that the elves of the wood do not take battle as something to jest about? Once we're back I think I will tell you some of the tales my mother's father told me of his time as one of the warriors of Rottesheim. But that will have to wait until after the mission, now I assume that you wish me to stay with those tasked with preventing an outdrawn goblin-rout, or do you think a bow and spellcaster at your back might come in handy? As you pointed out earlier, I am good at diversions. And should you encounter some sort of goblin spellcaster, my music might just be useful."
Valentre looked over at Ragnar. "As for you, my friend, and your incessant flirtations - keep them for after the mission, when we can all enjoy a good laugh and a good ale. Wood Elves know how to jest as well, but I do not want to lose focus whilst on a mission. Plus, if you and Caerlin do bed each other, then I can take up a pot on the racial makeup of your offspring!"
Ithyria waited until the bickering quieted down. “I believe that there are about a dozen or so goblins. They are running around freely doing their own thing so I am not really sure if they will contest our presence or not, however I feel it is always wise to be prepared. As for the explosions, we really did not get a chance to check it out completely.”
She turned to Valentre, ”I came along because I was worried about your safely because we saw that hellhound wandering around as we rode towards Phlan."
The female elf turned to the group. “So then, if we are done I suggest we make a plan. I can go with the main group or stay down to cause a distraction so the fighters can get inside the manor. It matters not to me. I feel confident enough with my spellcasting to stay out of harms way.” She folded her arms and looked at the others to make the decision as to how they should proceed.
Caerlin turned to Ithyria. "What does the building north of the manor, that faces the fallen wall, look like? Are there any windows that face that wall?” She thought for a bit. “If there are windows on the bottom floor then we could use them as cover as we pick off the ones outside. Eventually some of them will come to get rid of us." The archer slightly smiled. "Then we can capture one to find out about the lair, if any of us speaks goblin, that is. Or we could fire arrows at them to create diversions while the others go through the door." She looked at each member of the group. "Those are just ideas and it’s up to you."
“Right, Val and I shall sneak up to the tree closest to the manor. Everyone else can station themselves outside the manor door while Trips knocks on it; unless there are some goblins outside and then Ragnar can try to talk with them or at least play that awful flute to draw their attention. If possible Val and I could scale the tree and enter the manor to flush some out.” Luie changed his walking speed to get behind Val.
Trips looked up to address the group. "It really is too bad there are no visible goblins. I would like to have one captured and questioned before we go in, so as to ascertain whether or not the scout’s reports were correct. I am really becoming quite good at getting information out of those not willing to give it." He smiled wickedly as his stare became distant, as if he recalled a recent memory. "Yes, quite good indeed.”
"Luie’s plan sounds like a good plan to me," Ragnar said. "Although, if I am to talk to those goblins... perhaps Caerlin should get into a position where she can keep her bow ready to loose arrows on them without being spotted by the flat faces?"
"Perfect plan, Luie. Ragnar, if you could play the flute, perhaps the goblins, being the slightly unintelligent race they are, will come to investigate. You could perhaps parlay with them until we draw most of them out. Caerlin could then snipe them from the trees while Luie and I come out from the inside of the manor, where Ithyria and Trips could destroy them. Come Luie, shall we prepare to climb?"
“Five steps ahead of you... err make that behind you,” piped up the halfling.
"Right you are. Let's go see if goblins have a better ear for music than Luie," Ragnar said with a slight smile. The bard nodded to the two mages and Caerlin before he pulled his flute out of its case and eased the rapier in its scabbard as he made sure that the straps holding his katar in place on his left arm aren't so tight that he won't be able to wield it quickly. "Do one of you two want my crossbow?" he asked as he looked at Ithyria and Trips. "I don't think it'll be of much use to me if the goblins rush out to have at me and I don't run back to you if you want it when we are fending off goblins."
Caerlin nodded and adjusted the two quivers on her back, and loosened her longsword for an easy draw. "Sounds good, but one thing concerns me and that is that once any of us start firing on the gobs, any of us that are alone take a chance of being overrun and cut down." She looked at the group. "Watch yourselves, and don't under estimate them, just because they are goblins. May Mielikki watch over us."
“Almost there, wait a moment Val.” Luie stopped and stripped off his leather backpack. He placed it on the ground before he removed several items from within. Two small bags, the smallest making a clinking metallic sound, the slightly larger making no sound at all as it lay limp on the ground. He then removed a bundle of sticks wrapped with a chain. He picked up the small pouch and tied it off next to his sack holding yesterday’s lunch. Then he opened the limp bag and placed his hands inside and when he brought them forth he revealed a black dust. He applied the black dust over his exposed skin and underneath his simple outfit. Luie took the now empty bag and wrapped it around the bundle of sticks to muffle the chain. The black hin then put his backpack on a horse. He returned to the bundle and tucked it onto the back of his belt. “We can go now.”
Caerlin watched Luie get himself ready and she smiled. "Well, you are going to need a dunking in some water before we can take you anywhere. What are we going to do with the horses while we are clearing the manor?"
Luie turned around and stuck his tongue out at her. As he got some dust on his tongue, he made a different face. "Uh... hmm... not bad actually." He pointed off to the right, "You can picket the horses there, I think they are light warhorses... chances are they can take care of themselves."
Caerlin nodded, took the reins of the horses, and walked them over to where Luie pointed and picketed them. She returned to the others and watched all around her because of the sights and sounds that filled the ruins. "Are we ready then?”
Ragnar nodded and checked his rapier one last time, "Ready when you are. I'll try to get their attention, and once things start turning hostile I'll leg it in your direction while you pick them off one by one. All I'm waiting for is for the two mages here to get in position."
Once the others answered, she quietly moved into position and waited while she kept to the shadows. Trips positioned himself beside Caerlin while keeping one hand in a pouch at his belt.
The Company quickly headed back towards the manor and once there they started to take their positions.
Valentre entered the manor and he tried to quickly, but silently, to surprise the goblins that are enraptured by Ragnar. He saw the two goblins that Ragnar also saw.
Having done his last check-ups, and seen the mages get in position, Ragnar started to walk up towards the manor. He played an up tempo, and merry tune on his flute as loudly as he could while he kept his eyes open for goblin sentries and he saw two gobbo’s looking out towards the street where the movement of some of the party members could be seen.
Luie tucked his nunchaku in his make-shift belt, double checked his sling bullets and then his sack with his left over midday meal. He scanned the area that he is going into to spot anyone else there and once he saw that it was clear, he made his way to the tree and then climbed the tree with swift movements and grace. Hearing Ragnars' flute, Luie prepared to enter the window that was a few feet from him. Once inside he hugged the walls because there’s a less chance of creaking the floor boards and falling through them. He stood in room that was once a bedchamber but is now left untended and forgotten. A wardrobe, bed, nightstand, and desk filled the room. A closed wooden door, across the room, could be seen as well.
Trips began to move his arms in a circular fashion and his hands looked like they are shaping an imaginary ball. He closed his eyes as he spoke a word of power and directed his hands toward his feet.
Ithyria stopped and started to incant something while she moved her fingers. As she finished, a flickering set of arcane armor, that was shaped like leafs, covered her.
Caerlin quietly moved into position behind some bushes at the corner of the manor that faced the fallen wall. She made sure that she has a clear view of where Ragnar and the others are positioned and she watched the area. Caerlin noted the positions of the three goblins that she could see within a room that used to be a dinner area. She took the potion that Luie gave her and put it in one of her belt pouches for easy reach because she knocked an arrow and waited and watched.
The two goblins, which were looking out, started to move towards Ragnar while they carried their short spears.
Valentre drew his swords and started to engage the goblins. His attack cut the two goblins down before they could even scream.
Ragnar waved his rapier at Valentre and shot the wood-elf a grin. "You could have saved at least one for me. I've a girl to impress, remember?" He walked up to the two corpses and started to search their bodies for anything useful, like daggers or coins. After he found ten gold pieces, forty silver pieces, a small gem, a handful of shells, and a small gargoyle figurine, he said, "Now what do we do? Kick the door in and search the rubble for more goblins, or take Luie's cue and torch the place so Caerlin and the mages can do target-practice on anyone running out of it?"
Luie made his way to the door, once he heard Ragnar’s voice. He listened at the door for the sound of movement while he peaked through the keyhole that was built to human heights. He opened the door once he saw three goblins pass the empty room and he stepped out behind them. Two of them carried spears and the third carried only had a dagger.
Trips focused his attention on the two goblins approaching Ragnar and removed a scroll from his pouch but before he could use it, he saw that they were dead.
The female sun elf readied herself when she saw another goblin moving on the first floor of the manor in one of the rooms that the other members of her team haven’t gotten to yet.
Hearing Ragnar start yelling, Caerlin muttered under her breath in a coarse sounding language that had a lot of grunts and snorts. She said a prayer to Mielikki, and continued to scan the area, waiting for a good shot. As she watched, she noticed a goblin step out onto a second-story balcony and look around because of the noises. She pulled back her arrow and let it fly and as it entered the goblins small body, the creature gave a URK before it tumbled backwards to lie dead on the floor of the balcony.
The three goblins that have their back to Luie haven’t heard the stealthy hin.
Valentre smiled back to the bard, "Come now, you had your fun impressing your woman with your flute - I say we bust through the manor until we slay all of the foul creatures!"
"Good point, and I suppose Luie might get a bit upset if we set it on fire with him in it," Ragnar said to Valentre. Ragnar started after Valentre and the bard kept his rapier and flute in hand while he waved for the two mages and Caerlin to follow. The two men entered a room that was once a small study. A wooden door led further into the manor and it could be seen on the back wall. The shelves in the room once held items but the shelves have been stripped of the items. A tall wooden cabinet, that hasn’t been destroyed, could be seen on the left side of the room.
“Boo,” Luie said in a natural voice as he slammed into the middle goblin. His body hit the middle goblin and it tumbled down the stairs with a cry of surprise. Before the other two could attack, Luie connected to their bodies and they fell down the stairs. He smiled as he looked down and picked up one of the discarded spears before he spun and looked down the hallway that had another two doors off it.
Trips waited a few seconds and then followed Ragnar and Valentre with caution. He wanted to put as much distance between him and the goblins as possible.
Ithyria easily launched a missile of magic at the goblin that she spied from the rest and as it hit the goblin’s body the creature hissed in pain before falling over dead.
After her shot, Caerlin tried to blend back into the cover and she scanned the area to see if her position was noted. She notched another arrow and watched to see which goblin she should shoot next. As she looked around, she noticed a male human dressed in red and black clothing with a flaming skull on its robes standing forty feet away and he was watching the Unit as they fought the goblins. The human’s eyes passed over where Caerlin stood but it looked like he didn’t notice the archer since she is keeping to the shadows. Caerlin memorized the flaming skull symbol on the human’s robes while she watched the rest of her Unit. She turned away for a moment to look at the battle and once she saw that the two goblins were down, she watched the human move away from the manor and head northeast, back towards the four-way.
At a snails pace Luie moved down the hall. "Which door?" he breathed to himself. “Did all three share one room? Or did the dagger one have separate quarters from the other two?” He looked through the keyholes but all three rooms were dark and there were no obstructions when he poked the spear under the doors.
Caerlin watched the human as she tried to decide to take a shot at him and get some answers, or let him go and take a chance on him coming back, bringing reinforcements. Once he was almost out of sight, she looked around for any goblins that might sneak up on them from behind and then sighed when there was nothing left to see and the others were entering deeper into the manor. She grabbed her backpack, and slung it over her shoulder as she darted up to the others before they can get any further into the manor. She pointed at the human that is walking away from them.
"I think that the cultists that Synalee mentioned have found us. And there are at least two or more goblins still within. I have a feeling that getting out of the manor may be a lot harder than the getting in was."
Ragnar turned and looked back at Caerlin and gave his view of the matter, "Oh dear, not good..."
Valentre looked back with a smile, "Come now, I thought that you wanted adventure! We'll survive, else we'll end up in the forests of Arvandor!"
“Well see, that's the problem. I'm strictly a towns-person. There’s not much call for a bard in the middle of a bunch of overgrown shrubbery after all. Does anyone have any ideas on how to deal with this? Do we take out the goblins first, and worry later, or do we make a run for it?” Ragnar asked.
Caerlin looked around the inside of the manor, with her bow at the ready. "Well I think we should find Luie, and make sure he is okay, then finish the job we were sent to do. We will just have to really watch ourselves as we leave the ruins. Hopefully he was just curious, and nothing will come of it." She said a quick prayer to Tymora for good luck in getting out of the ruins.
"Well, let's find a way to get the halfling out without getting traps or held up with goblins in there. It seems we have weakened the goblins enough to the point where we can get together out here and access our situation, then make the best possible choice as whether to finish off the rest of the goblins and risk this new threat, or try to do something about it.
"That is, if the man brings reinforcements." Trips looked at Caerlin, "we don't know if he is hostile or not?"
"They usually are when they look like that!" Valentre smiled. "Come then, let's get Luie out and reassess the situation. Its better remove one enemy completely so that if we turn our backs, they will remain safe."
"Exactly, never trust a man in a gaudy dress," Ragnar said, "except possibly for a few halflings. Now let's go get Luie and whatever there is left of the goblins."
"Indeed, Ragnar, perhaps I was wrong about you," Valentre said as he nudged the bard. "Ragnar and I will continue into the manor. Caerlin, do you think you could defend the mages while we finish? You have one of the prettiest, keenest sets of eyes among us. Ragnar, shall we go play Quel'telia Yavon Ishta, or Kick the Goblin, as it is called in the Common tongue?"
Ragnar nodded at Valentre as Caerlin nodded and said, "I will do the best I can, but do you think we should really be splitting up again? I think we have been pushing the favor of Tymora so far, and maybe we should just stay together, the whole 'safety in numbers' thing, you know." She gave a quick smile to the others. "But I think finding Luie should be our first task. Clear out the upper level and then make sure this one is clear, and check to see if they have burrowed under the manor anywhere." She looked at the others to see what they thought.
"I think what Caerlin says has merit, but at the same time I can't help but feel that it would be useful to have a lookout keeping an eye on our exit to warn us if something comes up. Oh," Ragnar said and turned to Valentre with a grin, "complimenting Caerlin's eyes is my duty."
Luie was satisfied that there was nothing else upstairs, so he sneaked backwards facing the two closed doors. Once he arrived at the stair's railing he slid down it to the bottom floor and saw the three dead goblins he pushed down the stairs. He made his way towards the party since they are talking loudly and as he walked he kept an eye peeled in case any of the remaining gobs moved towards him. Ragnar and Val met the hin as the three of them came together in what was once a dinning room.
Luie waved with his free hand. "Fancy meeting you two here. Is everyone well? And what took everyone so long? And I think we should make more noise, I do believe the rest of the manor has not head us." He flashed a grin and then cradled the short spear. He jerked his head towards the base of the stairwell and the three goblin bodies, "Before anyone asks me, they fell down."
"Of course they did Luie, and if we've been heard, so much the better. That should mean that they're hiding in some overturned cupboard by now, trembling at the though of such mighty warriors as us," Ragnar answered the halfling before he spoke even louder. "Not to mention that it'll keep them unaware of the second squad moving in, I just hope the gobbos didn't spot their mage when he was watching the fight."
Caerlin motioned to the mages to come along, and walked into where the other three are, shaking her head. "Well, they definitely know we are here now," she quietly told the bard. "Unless one of them speaks Common, they will have no idea what you said, and chances are that they will have a trap or ambush prepared for us." She continued to watch around the area they are at, and up the stairs as well but she didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
"Oh yes," Ragnar said with a mortified look and a much lower voice, "I forgot that goblins are not keen linguists. Stlarn."
"It is all right Ragnar, just one little mistake to hold against you for at least a meal or three." Luie waved a hand towards the upper story, "There are three doors upstairs. One door is the room I entered the manor by, as for the other two. I didn't check behind them. So we can finish checking the upstairs and then find the basement or finish checking the ground floor."
"No more than three? I guess that means I'll be forgiven before we've left the room with your pace of eating, then, Luie," Ragnar answered the Tymorian in a whisper.
“Only if you have a portable kitchen,” Luie chuckled.
"Let's do a sweep of the manor before we worry about the cultists. I just hope that it wasn't the cultists who brought the hell hound. That isn't good," Valentre said and he looked around the dilapidated manor. "And Ragnar, I apologize for overstepping my bounds with Caerlin." Valentre smiled and started off.
Luie blinked. “What? Everyone came inside because we are surrounded? Huh?”
The six of them turned and climbed back up the stairs. At the top of the stairs they looked down the hallway and the room that Luie came out of was the only one that had an open door.
Luie fished a coin from a pouch, "Left or right?" With a slight toss the copper coin soared through the air. "Oops," he said as the coin bounced off of his hand and rolled on the ground before it came to rest in front of the farthest door on the right. "Well now. Right it is then."
"After you Luie," Ragnar quietly said as he pulled out one of the daggers that he took from the goblins. "Does anyone have any talent for spotting traps, by the way? I have a little knowledge of how to dismantling them, but I usually need someone to point them out to me first."
"I tend to spot them after I trigger them. Does that count?" Luie remarked.
"I generally can find traps pretty well, and I’m mildly good at disarming them. However, I’m more used to the traps of the woodlands. Ragnar, it's up to you," Valentre said with a nod.
"Drat, I was afraid that you'd say that," Ragnar said with a grimace.
Caerlin smiled at Ragnar and quietly said, "Sorry, I tend to be like Luie in the fact that I find them after the fact." She thought for a bit. “I think maybe that is something I'll look into when we get back to camp."
The archer turned to Luie, "No we weren't surrounded at the time we came in here. I only saw one human male." She described the male human to Luie and continued, "But when we leave, I think utmost caution would be advisable." She turned to the others. "But we may have an element of surprise in that he may think that there are only four of us, as Luie was already inside. I'm fairly sure he didn't see me, but I’m not positive."
"Now, I agree that the mages don't count, Caerlin. But don't you think it’s a bit rude to point that out where they can hear you?" Ragnar said with a wink in the archer's direction before he shrugged and, with a somewhat uncertain smile, walked towards the right door and started to examine it. "Right, everyone keep clear in case they've rigged this with something nasty alchemical stuff that goes boom," he said in a quiet, soft voice. "Oh, and everyone stand somewhere where I can't see you, especially Caerlin. It's real hard to focus on something with those legs moving about at the edge of your sight."
Caerlin looked startled at Ragnar's response. "I never said, nor meant to imply, that anyone doesn't count."
Ragnar mumbled back at Caerlin, "Don't worry Caerlin, I'm sure they're nice enough. It's just that Trips seemed a little too keen on interrogating a goblin. And Ithyria looks a little too much like my aunt for me to be comfortable around her. I keep thinking she's going to sniff and say something nasty about my mother!"
"Cut the idle chatter and get this door open," Valentre said with a smile. "You had better concentrate or they're be none of you left to stare at those legs."
Ragnar answered with a whispered, "I'll have you know that I never stare, I ogle. And now you had better let me examine this door without interruptions, my dear wood elf."
"Don't forget my coin Ragnar." Luie got behind Caerlin’s legs, where he preceded to ogle. He nodded his head, "Hmmm."
Caerlin quietly made a disgusted sound, glared at the two elves and the hin and then stepped around Luie so that her back is to the wall opposite and towards the stairs a bit. She watched the stairs with her bow at the ready to make sure that nothing came up from behind the group.
Luie gave Caerlin a quick grin. "Nice boots," he said with a straight face before he proceeded to watch the other closed door. Caerlin rolled her eyes, shook her head, and continued to watch the stairs.
Ragnar started to examine the door more carefully, prodding it gently in certain places. After checking for a few moments, Ragnar did notice a thin piece of twine that ran from the door to a hole in the wall next to the door. "Right, there's a piece of twine here and it’s most likely some sort of trap. I'll see what I can do about it, right? Or does anyone else feel like having a go at it?"
Caerlin whispered back to Ragnar with a smile, "No thanks, the only go at I would succeed with is setting it off."
"I can try at it if you like," Valentre said. "I’ve had some experience with traps in the past. I'd be willing to give it a go, if you can afford to lose the opportunity to show off."
"You had to put it like that, didn't you?" Ragnar said before he started his attempt at disabling the trap.
A small click could be heard as Ragnar jiggled the twine and as he jumped back a small bolt fired from the wall and plinked off Caerlin’s chain shirt as she flinched, before it dropped to the floor leaving her uninjured.
Ragnar smiled sheepishly at Caerlin, "Erm. Oops?"
"Maybe next time I will just go ahead and try it myself, if I'm going to be hit by it anyway."
Trips had been standing at the very back of the group, taking no notice of the comments about "mages". He seemed to be preoccupied with a lengthy scroll in his hand, which he has been reading ever since the group got to the door.
Caerlin glanced at Trips, "I hope that scroll has something useful for us on it, and not just your research."
Ragnar whipped up his arm, holding one of the daggers that he looted from the dead goblins, ready to throw as he scanned the room behind the door. Once the door was opened, Luie tumbled into the room and through the spear thrust that came from a surprised goblin. The archer continued to keep watch to make sure that nothing came up the stairs and out of the closed door on the other side of the hallway as she waited to get a clear shot at the goblin that tried to hit Luie.
Ragnar threw the dagger that he held ready at the goblin and it entered the goblins chest, causing the goblin to stumble but not die.
Caerlin pulled back her bowstring and launch her arrow as she saw one of the goblins peek around the corner, down the stairs. Before it could pull its head back, her arrow took it through the eye.
As Val advanced to finish off the bleeding goblin, a light surrounded Trips and he was pulled away in a flash of light. Val’s two attacks cut into the last goblin as Caerlin whirled around with a startled curse.
"Well... it seems that his research must have been more important to him after all," she muttered under her breath. In a slightly louder voice she said, "Luie, you alright in there?" She pulled another arrow from her quiver and continued to watch the unopened door and the stairs while she waited for the hin to answer.
"Caerlin, I am just peachy." Luie set aside his spear while he retrieved his copper coin. "Is that all of them?"
Caerlin relaxed a bit, but still held her bow at the ready. "Hmm.... I think that might be all of them, but one never knows. Let’s search this one and the four at the bottom of the stairs, there may be something of importance on them." She turned to Ragnar, "Do you want to have a go at checking the other door? I'll stay here while you do that because there’s no need to tempt Tymora again." She gave the bard a quick smile. "We might also want to do a quick run through the rooms to see if there is anything that may be useful."
"Sounds like a great plan," Valentre said. "Next time allow me to disable to trap, the worst I could do is be as bad as the bard." Valentre nudged Ragnar. "Now, do we think we're going to run into those cultists outside or do we think we've met the only opposition?" he finished as he started to remove the ears from the goblin.
“We were only contract for the goblins and there is a good chance we did the cultist a favor. But we can always leave the same way I came in once we are done taking a look through this place,” the hin commented.
Caerlin poked her head into the room that Luie and Ragnar are in and took a look around. "Hmm... anything interesting in here? Oh, and there's another gob body out on the balcony," she pointed in the general direction. She looked at Luie, "Did we do him a favor.....or did we disrupt his plans?" Caerlin looked around the room again, “Do you think we should turn that banner into the council? It may have some meaning to the family that lived here, if any survived that is." She moved towards the windows and stopped before she could be seen from the outside and looked out one of them. She looked down on the front of the manor and the street that ran along it. To her right is the pile of rubble that blocks the street and to her left the street led back towards civilized Phlan.
"Bah, the cord was slippery and it was purely Beshaba’s luck and nothing else Valentre. But sure, go ahead and take a look at door number two," Ragnar answered the elf with a faint smile. "At least no one got hurt. Well, apart from the goblins at least." He walked over and retrieved the dagger that he threw, wiping the goblin's blood off of it on what it has as clothing. Ragnar examined the goblin's body for valuables, leaving this one's dagger alone. He found fifteen silver pieces, a small brass bell, a silver brooch with a jasper stone, a pouch of dried meat that is half chewed, and a battered death card from a talis deck.
Luie saw that this bedchamber was larger then the one that he entered by, which was to the right. This chamber, like the other, contained a bed along parts of the front and right walls, but it had four wardrobes spaced between the windows along the back wall, a desk, but no chair, along part of the left wall, and purple and green banner that has the image of a spear through Selune woven in the middle of it.
Caerlin entered the room and looked through the three drawers of the desk. Only one of them held anything and the item inside of it is a ten inch by ten inch oaken box. Once she lifted the lid, she saw a plain silver ring and a silver bracer that is etched with roses. Putting away the items she moved to the wardrobes and looked through them. The first contained shreds of rotting dresses. The second feminine pants, shoes, and shirts that were also mostly rotten except for one shirt that time hasn’t touched. The third wardrobe had nothing in it. The forth contained sleeping wear like shifts, lingerie, and other feminine clothing to sleep in and all but three of them are moth eaten.
As Caerlin carefully put the green and purple shirt in her backpack she turned to Ragnar, "It looks like you are off the hook for buying me a shirt." She winked at the bard. "But eveningfest is still on you." She looked over the sleeping clothes to see if they are something she wanted, and called the sun elf over. "Ithyria, is there anything here you might like?"
The halfling peeked behind the interesting banner and saw the faded marking on the wall from the three foot wide and eight foot long banner. He removed it from the wall, folded it up, and carried it.
The room across the hall contained no goblins but it looked like it was used as a sleeping room for them unlike the other two rooms on this floor. The furnishings have been mostly destroyed or turned into sleeping places for the goblins. Blankets and pallets is all that is left except for a wardrobe that is half fallen over, since one side of it has been hacked into and splintered.
Back on the first floor, the group entered the remaining rooms. Starting from where they entered, they found a kitchen, that is empty, that enters from the dinning room. In the far right corner of the kitchen was a small room where foodstuffs and other items were stored but since the right wall has fallen out, that room has been looted and it’s bare. Caerlin met up with them after she searched the bodies of the four goblins. The three goblins at the bottom of the steps had ten silver pieces each, a small jasper gem, a brass mug, and a steel disk that is stamped with a gargoyle’s face. The goblin on the balcony also had ten silver pieces and a pouch filled with chalk of various colors.
Following the long hallway away from the dinning room, they entered a shrine to Mystra, Azuth, Oghma, Tymora, and Beshaba. All that is left in this room are the markings of the holy symbols of those deities on the walls and carved into the wood paneled walls. Luie left the coin that led to the correct door at the shrine as an offering to Tymora and he smiled after it disappeared.
Lastly they followed the hallway to the back of the manor and stopped before a stone door instead of a wooden one. As Valentre moved towards the door, he said, "Well, this shouldn't be too hard, I hope. Sehanine bless me." Valentre started to search the door and look for traps and once he found that it didn’t contain any, he spent a bit of time trying to get the lock to open. Once he was about to give up in frustration, he felt his worries wash away and the lock clicked open as Tymora smiled down on the group because of Luie’s offering.
Val pulled the door open and the Unit entered a room that looked to be a study. Four bookcases are bolted into the wall on both sides of the door and another four bookcases are bolted into the right wall and books, scrolls, and loose pieces of paper are stuffed into the cases. Along the wall facing the door is a larger wooden desk and a stuffed chair behind it. A closed stone door, in the left wall, leads into another room.
"Do you think the goblins knew about this room? From what one hear about them, one would assume that they would have used the books as kindling by now," Ragnar said as he started to examine the stone door in the left wall.
Luie examined the room and saw that the dust hasn’t been disturbed until the Unit entered the room. "Many interesting discoveries today and it seems that this room has not had guest for a while. First, goblins that are better paid than most villagers and now this miniature library. Well Ragnar, I’m not sure. There were no scratch marks on the door to show that anyone tried to force their way in. Perhaps they were assigned to guard it or they could have been trying to locate a way into this room. Or they just didn't care."
"Indeed, however, perhaps, since this room is secure, we rest a bit and recover from our battle and come up with a plan to get out of here alive," Valentre said. "I know I, for one, would like to see this Shadowdale that I've heard so much about. Now, what should we do if that cultist has some not so nice N'Tel'Quess friends?"
"I don't think that our horses would like to spend the night without us,” Luie commented.
Ithyria looked around, "I still have some spells remaining this day if we are to see combat. If the job is done, however, I would like to head back to our camp. Though goblins are weak, every spell does drain my energy."
Caerlin looked around at the shelves of books, and walked towards the desk. "I have a feeling that the gobs might have been guarding this room," she shrugged her shoulders, "hopefully I'm wrong. Ithyria, you may want to glance at some of those books because there might be something of interest to you."
Caerlin smiled and began searching the desk and the five four drawers. The bottom right one is locked but the other three open easily. She pulled out a gray leather book with a title written in an alphabet she can’t read from the top-right drawer. The top-left drawer is filled with inks, pens, parchment, paper, and other writing supplies. The lower-left drawer has another box of the same size as the one they found upstairs but this one is made out of steel. "It might not be a bad idea to go ahead and finish searching this manor. That way we can give the Commander a complete report on what we have found here. Hopefully we can find a key for that door," she pointed at the one they came through. "So when we go through the stone door, we can lock it behind us, so nothing can sneak up from behind."
Caerlin carefully laid the book, all the writing supplies, and the steel box on the desk. She looked up at the others, "Can any of you read the title of this book? And there is a drawer here that is locked, does someone want to have a go at opening it?" She carefully opened the steel box and saw two bracelets that are silver and gold woven together and tiger eye gems are set around the outside of the two bracelets. She moved herself and the box to the other side of the desk. "Do you want any of these writing things Ragnar, Ithyria?" Caerlin closed the lid on the steel box, took out one of her sacks and carefully wrapped the box in it, before she put it in her backpack.
Ragnar stopped examining the door. "Well, I can't find anything special about this, but you've noticed my luck with doors today already. Oh, and Caerlin, I bet you'll want a skirt to go with that shirt. I think I'll take a look through those books too and there might be a song- or history-book among them. I'll give the door a go, as long as you promise it's not trapped."
"I didn't seem to find any, but I can't promise anything." Caerlin said with a smile.
Ragnar shrugged, "Ah well, what's the worst that can happen?" He quickly added, "nobody answer that."
Caerlin didn’t say a word and she just looked at Ragnar with a raised eyebrow as he looked over the book that Caerlin found in the desk. He realized that he couldn’t read it either and he started to look through the books on the shelves.
Ragnar saw that they contained many different subjects like geography, nature, philosophy, religion, magic theory, flora and fauna, and many other subjects. However, all of them seem to be a bit dated and there are none of the shelves hold any books that have come out in the last ten to twenty years.
"Ithyria, you might want to take a look at this one," Ragnar said and held up one of the books on magic theory. "Other than those, I don't see many that will fetch enough coin to be worth the effort of dragging them with us." He shrugged and added, "Besides, who needs books when you can memorize things? Have we decided on a plan yet?"
Caerlin shrugged as well. "I think we should check the entire manor, but I will leave it up to the rest of you." She turned to Luie, "We could always go and get the horses and try to bring them in the manor." She turned to the bard, "Ragnar, I thought you were going to try to open the lock on the desk drawer?"
“Right, I will go get the horses then,” Luie said after he looked at the cover of the book and shrugged since he couldn’t read it either.
"Um, what? Oh of course, sorry Caerlin. Do any of you carry a hammer that I can borrow?"
"Luie, do you want me to go with you? We can watch each other's backs." She smiled and winked at the hin, "And that way you won't have to use your mouth to lead any of the horses this time. Ragnar, I thought that you meant that you were going to try and open the drawer. I didn't realize that you meant that you would just try to read the book." Caerlin smiled at Ragnar. "I'd hate to damage the desk if we don't need to."
Luie chuckled. “I would appreciate the help.” He skipped over to Ragnar and patted him on the side, leaving a small black handprint. “Hold down the fort. We’ll be back.”
"Luie, that's my second best tunic!" Ragnar gave Luie an indignated stare. ”Oh, I'm afraid I'm even worse at locks than I am at traps," he answered Caerlin with a wink. "And I suppose you're right about not damaging the desk, if old Luko was here I'm sure he'd explain how it was an excellent example of the work of the ninth Dale Reckoning master carpenter in the style known as Rustic Phlannish or something like that. Never travel to long with a Sunite I say, unless you like her legs, of course."
"I knew there had to be a comment about legs in there somewhere, Ragnar." Valentre looked around. "So are we done here and heading back, or should we explore that last room to verify that they are all in Maglubiyet's kingdom? Also, shall I try unlocking that drawer, or should be we leave it be? Who knows, maybe they'll do some renovating now that the goblins are gone?" Valentre chuckled. "Caerlin, it seems that you've become the de facto leader, what is our course from here?"
Caerlin looked horrified at the thought. "Me? Leader? No I don't think so... That should be left to one of the rest of you, who have more experience than I do. I just try to look at all the options that we have, to make sure that we make the right decision."
"Very well, then I say we go with the plan we have now and explore the last room, but remember, we are on a timeline. We need to get back in time to catch the caravan, do we not? Plus, we must have time to report this cultist, and that fell creature we saw on the way to Phlan.”
Caerlin nodded in agreement with Val. "Commander Aurythe said that it would take a few days for the caravan to be ready, if I remember correctly. It's about eveningfest now, so we should decide if we are going to stay somewhere in Phlan and head back to the settlement in the morning, or go back tonight, and take the chances that traveling at night can incur."
Ithyria looked to the book in Ragnar's hand and she could read the title which is written in Draconic and is Halithar’s Apprentice Guide to the Art. "Magic theory? I suppose I can look through it and gain some knowledge. However, I'd rather do that out of the mansion than in the mansion. Can we be going now? Surely the goblins are all dead and if not, I doubt they're in any number strong enough to do anything. Plus, they are small and can hide in many, very dirty places, and I for one do not feel like getting any dirtier than I already have become." Ithyria looked around for some place to sit that was not covered with dirt and dust. "Someone should have taught these goblins how to clean!"
Ragnar shrugged in Ithyria's direction. "You're definitely right about it being too dirty by far in here. Filthy little creatures."
After returning with the horses, Caerlin moved to the shelves and started to look at some of the loose pieces of paper that are stuffed into them. Most of them are loose pages of various languages and subjects while others are handwritten notes about the different subjects. Caerlin turned away and moved back to the desk. She took one of the pens and paper and began to write down what they had encountered so far, including a sketch of the flaming skull symbol that was on the male human, as she waited for Val to try and open the desk drawer.
"Good idea, Caerlin. If our esteemed bard cannot figure out what the symbol is, perhaps the commander will,” Val remarked as he jiggled with the lock and popped it open. After he opened the drawer, he found a dragon figurine half-covered with blue-white silk.
Ragnar peered over Caerlin's shoulder as she drew. "Hmm... what colors did the symbol have Caerlin?"
"He was dressed in red and black robes, with this symbol, in yellow and blue, on the robes. I wanted to get it on paper while the memory was fresh." She smiled at Valentre and Ragnar. "And this way, we will already have a quick outline for the report to give the Commander when we return. Has anyone had any luck with reading that book?" She looked at Val and Ithyria.
Once Caerlin told him the colors, Ragnar frowned for a few seconds. "I think that it could be an alternative dress and symbol for the followers of Kossuth. Errm...is there any water-supply available to us in here?"
"Water supply? Hmm..." Caerlin tried to remember if she saw any when she walked through the kitchen but she didn’t recall any water nearby except for the well that is in the ruins that they passed on the way to the manor. "There is that well outside, and I have a full waterskin." She looked at Ragnar with a questioning expression.
"Well, if I'm right and those cultists are Kossuthians, then they mean trouble... Well, they like setting things on fire."
"Oh....." Caerlin looked around at all the books and papers in the library and then nodded. "That could be a bad thing. Have we come to a decision on what we are going to do?" She looked around at the others. "If we decide to stay here, we should be able to seal the door shut somehow, to make it harder for someone to come through. Unless someone has found the key for it?" She asked hopefully but she was pretty sure that she would get a negative answer.
“Did someone say fire?” asked Luie as he entered the room wearing his backpack. “Oh by the way I finished tethering the horses in the dining room, except Val’s horse. Somehow that silly horse walked up the stairs and now it doesn’t want to come down, so I tethered him up there on the rail. Have any of you had any luck on getting through this stone door?” The hin walked over and tapped on the second stone door that is in the left wall.
"Yes, we think that the guy Caerlin saw might be a Kossuthian, and as I told her, they enjoy setting things on fire," Ragnar answered the halfling. "As for Val's horse, perhaps he wanted a good view of things? And no we had no luck with the door. Do you want to give it a try? I thought unlocking doors were supposed to be a specialty of halflings..." Ragnar winked at Luie in order to show that he's not completely serious.
"If you mean unlocking the door by banging my head against it, then yes. Of course it being stone, there is a good chance that my head would give in first." He walked over to the bookcase. "Is there any chance that there is a fake book that will trigger the door?"
As Caerlin finished the sketch and the outline of the report, she looked over at the bard and hin. "I don't see why there couldn't be Luie. There may be some sort of clue in this book that no one seems to be able to read." She held up the grey book that she found in the desk and then carefully wrapped it and put it in her backpack, along with the writing supplies. She carefully folded the report, and put it in one of the inside pockets in her cloak. "There has to be some sort of trigger to open it in here somewhere." She shrugged and looked out the door they came through, making sure nothing is coming in behind them but nothing stirred except for some large dust bunnies.
"Well, neither Ithyria nor I can make out anything in this book, but we should take it with us none-the-less. Let's hope that it's not a goblin cookbook. Should we try to push the door in, or is there something keeping it in place?" Val commented after a moment.
After she settled everything in her backpack and pouches, Caerlin walked over and examined the door carefully for the first time. Ragnar walked over to the bookcase nearest to the stone door and before he could start to randomly pulling out the books, he heard Luie’s words.
"Ragnar hold still." Luie used Rangar as a makeshift ladder to ascend to a bookshelf. "Well met, little dragon statue. Why are you hiding here?" His small hands gave it a tug and it came off the shelf and into his hands. "This looks like the one Val found earlier," he said as he climbed back down.
Now that the others could see it, they saw that the talons and snouts on both statues could connect together and once connected the two dragons would face each other.
"Do you think that this might be the key to the door, once they are connected?" Caerlin asked the others in the group. "Or maybe it’s the key to something else that we may not want to know about...."
"Never mind that right now, what really matters is whether Luie made me even dirtier during his climbing," Ragnar said. "Once that has been settled then we can start discussing possible keys and exits."
Caerlin hid a laugh as she checked Ragnar's clothes. She pretended to not notice the small hand and foot prints on Ragnar's back, "I don't see anything..."
"That better be true, or the Tymorian gets laundry-duty when we return. Now, why haven't we connected those two statues yet?"
Luie rolled his eyes, "One little mistake." He placed the statue on the ground before the closed stone door as he walked over to Ragnar, "My most sincere apology, allow me to dust you off."
"Oh no," Ragnar backed away towards one of the bookcases. "Keep your dusty little paws away from me."
Luie chuckled, ”Paws? I didn’t think that I looked much like a druid.” He gave his hands a glance, “then again...”
"Ah well, sorry about the paw-comment Luie. It's just that I hate dust-spots, even on this dreary outfit. Why don't we see what the statue does now?"
"How do you manage combat at all, Ragnar? Let's place these statutes together and figure out what intrigue this will create,” Val remarked as he started to pull out the statue he has.
"I never said that I minded bloodstains, did I?" Ragnar winked to Luie and nodded. "Lets."
Luie picked up his statue from the floor after Val finished pulling out his. The two met near the door and after they connected the snouts and talons, a flicker of green and gray light appeared in the middle of the second stone door and then spread outwards to fill the doorway. Looking through the portal of light, they could see another room behind it that has five closed wooden chest along the walls, five suits of studded and normal leather armor, and a collection of ten different weapons ranging from short swords to long polearms.
Caerlin stepped back a bit after the light spread to fill the door and she waited a moment after the portal stopped growing. "Well, that's an interesting way to store things. So....." She looked at the others to see what their reactions are. "Who is going in there first?"
"Well," Ragnar said, "I'd volunteer, but someone told me to never do that. Especially if you have a friend who's on good terms with Lady Luck.”
“Here Val... hold my piece, so I can toss Ragnar in.” With that said, the mischievous hin walked through the portal and found himself in the room that everyone could see.
"Well, there are no explosions or horrible, disfiguring effects on him that I can see," Ragnar said before he followed the halfling through.
Luie glanced over his shoulder at the bard, “Nice of you to join me.” He checked the room over and he smelled just slightly stale air but not stale enough to impede their breathing. ”This is a very interesting place. I wonder if...” Luie cocked his head slightly as if trying to hear something in the room. “Wait. Listen...”
Ragnar arched an eyebrow and listened and the two of them, since they are the only ones in the room, heard a clicking coming from within the wooden chest that was by itself against the wall that is opposite the portal.
Ragnar turned to Luie and asked, "So, do you think that was a “I've just unlocked myself, now please come and gather the treasures inside me”-click, or a “a nasty wizard made it so that if one of you silly adventurers move so much as a toe, I'll blow up in your faces”-click?”
Keeping his eyes upon the chest, Luie answered, ”I was thinking that it would be a “I’m going to pop out an eat you”-click, sort of like one of those gnomes-in-a-box toys.” Luie motioned to the party that has not followed through to portal, “Try not to move, hopefully the others will know something is wrong.” He scanned the room once more with just his eyes. “On my signal take cover by one of those chests closest to you. Understand?”
"I got it."
"Is there anything you'd like me to do while you are questing for this treasure of the creature inside the chest?" Val’s voice said behind the two.
Caerlin readied her bow, and moved so that she is partially covered by the edge of the wall as she stood near the side of the portal and looked into the room where the others stood. She glanced at her backpack that is lying on the desk, then at the overflowing shelves before she frowned and muttered under her breath, "I bet that there is some clue in that book... or somewhere in this mess."
Not knowing that the sneaky elf followed them through, Luie gave an unexpected response of, “Aiiiiieeeeee!!!” which was followed by a four-foot jump straight up into the air. As he landed on the ground, Luie made a mad dash across the floor and attempted to hop on top of the chest. With a half-scramble, half-dance, he finally managed to sit on the chest but the clicking continued to come from within.
Luie shook a tiny fist at Val before a sheepish grin spread across his face. “The good news is that nothing happened,” he folded his legs, “But the bad news is that I still hear a metallic clicking... and... there is a pattern.”
He began to tap a finger against the chest lid, in rhythm with the clicking for the others who could not here it. Then he looked over to Ragnar and said, “Errr... Go!” while he giggled.
Ragnar arched his second eyebrow. "Not even a very catchy rhythm if you ask me. However..." Ragnar leapt behind one of the other chests.
"I hope that it's not clicking down and going to drop a trap on us anytime soon. I finally relaxed," Val said from where he stood.
"Oh, I doubt that anything small enough to fit in that chest could be very dangerous," Ragnar said before he peeked up from behind his cover. "Anyone care to try and open it?"
"How about I stay right here, while the rest of you check out the rest of this room,” Luie said as he continued to sit on the chest.
Caerlin shook her head at the antics of her companions. "Well Ragnar, why don't you start with the one that you are hiding behind?" She said with a smile. "I'll stand here and shoot anything dangerous that comes out of it."
Ragnor stood in front of the second chest on the left and after he saw that it wasn’t locked but closed, he opened it. Ragnor looked inside and a found a bracelet of thirteen tiger eye gem stones, a pouch that is filled with what might be coins, a folded blue scarf, two white candles, a hand sized statue of a wolf, and a brass sickle whose handle is carved with the phases of Selune.
Luie hollered at the archer to get ready, before the hin slid off the chest and flipped open the chest. He saw that inside is just a large music box made out of silver and bronze and the small hand-crank was stuck, causing it to tick as the crank tried to continue to spin.
"Hmmm," the hin leaned over the chest to gain a better look. "Hey Ragnar, I think this is for you."
Caerlin relaxed a bit with Luie's words. She took a couple of steps into the room, and looked at the weapons and armor. "This is getting more interesting all the time."
Ragnar looked at Luie, and used his best imitation of a Cormyrean country-lord. "You're absolutely certain that you do not wish for our good lady ranger to penetrate it with one of her arrows just to be sure it's not dangerous, old chap?"
Luie arched an eyebrow before he tilted his head towards the upper right. After a brief moment he responded in a horrible imitation of a Cormyrean noble. ”Indubitably, old chum. Indubitably.”
"Good, how about we open the rest of the chests and see what they hold?" Ragnar remarked.
“I doubt that the owner of this place was paranoid enough to trap everything but maybe there are a few curses. We should pack the horses up and get to the gates before they lock for the night,” the hin said as he continued to gaze at the music box.
Caerlin started to walk over to the weapons and armor, but she stopped at Luie's words. "You're right Luie, we should finish this and get out of here... or we may end up spending the night." She continued over to the armor and weapons and looked them over before she looked back at Ragnar to see that he is wearing no armor but he might want some of the leather or studded leather. Caerlin looked back at the armor and she saw a set of scale, chain, and splint mail that interested her.
"I don't suppose that you want any armor do you, Luie?" she said with a smile before she looked at the various weapons, which probably could supply another weapon to each member of the party.
“Even if there was some in my size, I travel light. Are there any fuzzy slippers?” Luie picked up the music box, gave it a quick check, “Might need a Gondsman for this...”
"Did anyone bring a sack? It might be easier to carry the stuff that way. Otherwise I'm all for getting out of here before dark." Ragnar dumped the contents that he found in the first chest into his pack and moved over to the next one. After making sure that it wasn’t locked and trapped, he opened the lid. He saw a blue sphere nestled inside green cloth.
"Oh, this looks nice," Ragnar said, holding the sphere up for the others to see.
"Yes, I brought a sack but do not forget that we have saddlebags too. I wouldn't drop that Ragnar, it might release a blue dragon." Luie withheld a chuckle.
"I have an empty sack as well, Ragnar," Caerlin stated as she looked through the weapons for a good longbow or longsword, "as Luie said, there are the saddlebags as well.”
After she pulled down a longsword that has a unicorn head carved into the pommel, she held the chainmail up to see if it will come close to fitting her and she figured that it would. She saw no bows thought as she picked up the studded leather and carried both armors over to where Luie and Ragnar are looking at the sphere. "Here Ragnar, try this on and see if it fits," she said as she held out the studded leather with a smile.
Ragnar accepted the studded leathers with an answering smile, holding the sphere out to her in return. "Um... perhaps the two of you would care to turn you backs while I change? Caerlin for obvious reasons, and Luie because, well, you never know with halflings, I've noticed. Oh, and everyone knows blue spheres contain behirs, not dragons, Luie."
"My mistake Ragnar." Luie shuffled over to the weapons, "You never took baths in the Commons have you?" He scanned the weapons looking for something just his size. "By Sune, even at the monastery we all bathed together." He rubbed the back of his head and pulled a hand-axe off the wall that he thought would be light enough for him to wield. The axe was unadorned except for moonstones that have been crushed into pieces and fused into the head of the axe.
Caerlin chuckled a bit as she carefully took the sphere from Ragnar before she turned her back to him and carefully examined the sphere carefully. The sphere is about a foot in size and as she looked at it a green mist inside of it roiled and moved. "The two of you may want to take a look at the weapons over there, to see if there is anything that you want. And how much of this stuff are we going to try and take with us? Since we have the keys to open it, we could write down what we leave here, then later, if we find that we are in need of it, or are short of coin, we could always come back to get it."
"Whatever we decide to take, we need to make sure that we don't make it obvious. Take extra effort to conceal them because this place was being watched or we were being watched." Luie paused long enough to wait to hear Ragnars' clothes make a rustling noise before he grinned at Caerlin. Luie put his fingers to his lips and made a catcall whistle, "Gods, I thought you had great legs Carlin! Take a gander at his."
Val and the gold elf stepped out of the room as Val called over his shoulder, “I have been given orders from the Commander to take the gold elf to the Baldur’s Gate. It was nice adventuring with you but we are off.”
Caerlin smiled at Val and Ithyria. "Safe Journeys then, and maybe we will meet another day."
"Time for us to go." Luie left the room and headed for the horses. He appeared a breath or two later with a bag of flour and he placed it in an empty chest. "Don't ask," he called as he left the room again. Once back at the horse, he carefully packed the music box in a side saddle wrapped in some cloth to muffle the 'click' noise. He secreted the axe in the folds of his outfit after he left a black hand print on Ragnar’s horse.
Ragnar quickly donned his new armor, turning about to give Luie a suspicious glance before going through the weapons. He looked for a better, or at least as good as, but better-looking, rapier or cutlass than the rapier he's currently using. "If you say so, Luie. And I suppose we should hurry the horses as much as we dare, now that we're down to three." With that said, he quickly checked that he's not forgotten to stuff any of the small coins and gems he's found into his belt pouch. "Right, ready to go," he finished as he took down a steel cutlass that is carved with a wave fighting against a lightening storm while a ship is tossed between the wave and lightening.
"Did we check all of the chests?" Caerlin asked as she headed towards the library. She carefully set the sphere on the desk and then went back and got the chainmail. She rolled it up as best she can, and replaced her longsword with the unicorn one. She made a quick mental note of the splint, scale, and leather armors and the dagger, glaive, guisarme, sickle, kama, and short sword left here, so she can write it down later.
"Who wants to carry this sphere?" She asked as she took the chainmail over to her horse, and put it in one of the saddlebags.
"Only three I think, Caerlin," the bard answered her. "And seeing as Ithyria left, I'll be our main spellthrower and explorer of the weird and mysterious stuff of the Art, so I should be the caretaker of the weird and mysterious stuff that we find."
Caerlin nodded, "Sounds good to me." As she picked up her backpack from the desk and headed back into the room, she picked up the dagger and saw that its handle was carved into a stag. The ranger moved to the first chest on the right and opened the lid and saw that it contained a scepter that is about her arms length. Rubies are set into the blue metal and a large clear quartz is set at the top.
"Hey Ragnar, come take a look at this." Caerlin carefully removed the scepter from the chest and placed it on the desk next to the sphere. When Luie came back from putting his things on the horses, she asked, "Would either of you like this dagger?" She held it out for them to see.
“No thanks. I’m set.” Luie said.
Ragnar took a look at the dagger and replaced his old dagger with the new one with a happy smile. "I like this room so far. Hmm... a scepter. Who feels like becoming high priest or priestess?"
The hin looked back at Ragnar and said, “Maybe later.”
Ragnar peered more closely at the scepter. "Hmm, you know, there's a ballad about Northkeep, that city at the bottom of the Moonsea, that has a scepter that looks like this in the opening stanzas. Something to do with defending Northkeep, but I guess that failed... since the city is at the bottom of the Moonsea."
Caerlin opened the last chest as Luie stood behind her hopping up and down trying to see what the chest contains.
Ragnar looked down at the hopping halfling as he joined the two of them. "Shall we describe it to you, or would you like us to find you a box?"
The last chest contained a silk hand fan that can open and close and painted on it are butterflies. A green silk veil that looked feminine. A miniature gold chariot pulled by four white horses carved from ivory. The last item in the chest is a plain white silk robe stitched to fit a female human.
Ragnar quickly snatched the veil, and attempted to fit it over Caerlin's face while he winked and told her, "As strange as it may be to hide such beauty away, I've always felt there's something very alluring about these things."
Caerlin snatched the veil away from Ragnar and smiled. "You're a bad liar there bard, I know better." She held up the white robe and the carving of the chariot and horses because it went with the music box. "Here, this will go well with the music box you've got already, Luie."
Ragnar grinned back at Caerlin. "You got me I guess, but I'll still have you know I'm a brilliant liar if it's called for."
"I would trade it all for a box." Luie took the robe and proceeded to fold it after he secured the carving in one of the side saddle inside a bag of flour. “Ragnar, this is why I didn’t ask for you to describe anything,” Luie said as he began to exit the room. “Don’t forget the key.”
Once they had all the items stored away, they quickly rode through the ruins of Old Phlan and passed through the gates of New Phlan just before the gates were going to be locked for the night. Caerlin moved her horse so that she could speak quietly to Ragnar and Luie. "So, are we going to stay in Phlan this eve, or are we going to try to make it back to the camp?" She looked up at the sky and thought that the sun would set in about three hours. "Luie, what kind and size of box do you want?"
“The kind that can hold a small kilt,” the hin replied. “Also, I think most major cities lock their gates at night, don’t they? And... when is eveningfast??”
"That depends, Caerlin," Ragnar said. "Do they close the gate out of the city at the same time as the one into Old Phlan? If not, I suggest we press on and return to the mercenary settlement and make our report."
Luie patted his stomach. “Actually, I just remembered that we are required to report our findings to the City Council and if we don’t we get placed on clearing duties in the ruins.”
"Really? So who forgot to report to them to send us there in the first place? Never mind actually," Ragnar's eyes twinkled, "Seeing as they left so suddenly, I'll just blame Val and Ithyria." He turned to one of the gate guards, "So... how does one get to the City Council?"
“City hall. Head south and west of here and you can’t miss it. It’s the large building where all the functionaries can be seen going in and out. Oh, and if you are heading there, can you bring this outlander there? He seems lost and he said he’s looking for three five people from some mercenary company. The Red Slaughters or something like that.”
Ragnar grinned at hearing the name, put on a wild look, and brandished his new cutlass. "The Red Slaughters, that be us laddie. Don't y'worry we'll look afterrr'im. Arr." He returned to his usual demeanouras as he guided his horse closer to the newcomer as the guard tried to figure out if he should glare or be amused. "Pleased to meet you, I'm Ragnar Swifttongued, bard extraordinaire out of Waterdeep."
"Well met, Ragnar", said a towering boy, with a low and confident voice. "I’m Gereth Bearheart, an Uthgardt from the distant north! And well met to all, fellow members of the brotherhood! Many tendays I have traveled, seeing the way of the land, and sleeping under the light of Selune, only to join the strength of my arm to your abilities, and help in some way to carve our names in the legends." He appeared to really have traveled for a long time, because his simple vests are covered with the dust of the road, and his horse demonstrated signs of a long ride. He looked at Ragnar. "A skald, eh? Good to hear this. Maybe this night we have a time to hear some good tale of the past ages, or maybe a song of valiant heroes?"
"Ragnar, put your weapon away, before you get us in trouble with the guards," Caerlin said with a stern look. She turned to the outlander, "Just who were you looking for, and who sent you?"
"I aided one of members of the Red Shields in the North, and after I commented with him on my longing of to know more on the world, and to improve my abilities as combatant, he introduced me to the Commander and she sent me to this city to join you. Well, here I am, and I believe I have arrived in a good moment for me to help you, no?" Gereth winked after this last comment and smiled at the group.
"Yes'm," Ragnar answered her before he saluted the archer with his cutlass before he stuck it back into his scabbard. He leaned down to speak sotto voice once more to the guard. "And that be Caerlin Carlcrusher, who ravishes more men in a tenday than there were soprano bards when the green dragon Grimnoshtadrano descended on the Shieldmeet celebrations of the Year of the Waves."
Ragnar smiled at Gereth. "A pleasure to meet you Gereth. You're an Uthgardt you say? Dare I hope that means I won't have to worry about only having Luie and Caerlin's arrows between myself and whoever decides they want to take offence at my music or spells? I'm not sure about the tale, as I'm not very good at making stuff up." He paused to grin at Caerlin, "As for singing, let's just say it's hard to sing with a flute stuck in your mouth."
Now the guard decided to be amused and he burst out laughing before one of the other guards reached over and slapped the back of the laughing guard’s metal helm, making it ring and making the guard wince.
Caerlin shot the bard a murderous glare and then looked over her shoulder at the hin behind her, "Not one word out of you." She then returned her attention to the outlander.
It was at this point in his life that Luie didn't know what to do. On one hand he did have a great joke lined up; but, on the other hand, plucking arrows out of his bottom didn't seem too appealing. He decided to hold it all in until she was out of ear shot. He nodded red faced and cheeks puffed out at Caerlin before his hands shot up to muffle any noise issuing forth from his mouth and all that was heard from the tiny hin was an, “Errrppp.”
"Now that's really showing her bravery," Ragnar continued to the guard. "I'd never have dared speak like that to Luie. Don't let his hapless appearance deceive you. That's Luie, the Kilted Killer of Chionthat, the Swaggering Scoundrel of Scornubel, a hin so rotten his family was exiled from the land of the hin ten generations before he was born, who sacked Selgaunt single-handedly and who just now, all by himself, laid waste to a whole nest of hobgoblins in service to the city council."
Gereth is amazed as Ragnar declaimed the deeds of Caerlin and Luie. Luie’s eyes turned red as tears begin to form and his hands turned white as he held his amusement in. The guard tried to hide his snickers while the other guard glared at him and frowned at Ragnar.
"Um, Luie was in service of the city council that is, not the hobgoblins." Ragnar gave the frowning guard a sheepish smile before he started to whistle softly to himself after winking at the newcomer.
Luie's body shuddered once and as he wiped tears from his eyes, he said in a hoarse voice, "Please to meet you. I will meet everyone at the City Hall." With those words, he dashed off into the crowd and a few breaths later a child's laughter erupted from that general direction that he ran off towards.
"Hmm, you'll have to excuse him. Halflings, you know," Ragnar gave Gereth a meaningful look.
Gereth retributes Ragnar’s glance with a prideful and jovial happiness that can be noticed in the northman's blue eyes. Without removing the smile of his lips, he grabbed a beautiful and balanced greataxe off the saddle of his horse and exhibited it for the companions. "I have faith that I can be of some help, yes," he said, while his eyes stayed fixed on the weapon and his fingers traveled the extension of the axe. "But I am sincere enough to affirm that I haven’t tested my expertise on the battlefield... still," Gereth let escape a soft sigh, and he looked at Ragnar and Caerlin again. "Well, where are you going?"
"It seems that we need to make a report to the City Council about our findings in the ruins," Caerlin told Gereth. “We will most likely head back for the settlement in the morning, since I personally don't relish the thought of riding the countryside in the dark. What part of the North are you from Gereth?"
"Well, so I will wait to hear your report and learn a little of our tasks. My tribe has a settlement in the north part of the High Forest. I lived all my life there, and this is my first time out of my homeland." Gereth looked at Caerlin and asked, "And you? The bard said that he is from Waterdeep, and the hin is of the halfling lands, right?" Gereth winked at Caerlin and smiled.
"My father has a small farm just on the edge of the Moonwood," Caerlin said to Gereth. "And like you, this is the first time I've been away."
Gereth looked at Caerlin with a renewed interest. "Moonwood? That is very close to my home and it’s very good to hear that. So, I’m not the only one that came from the North. Good news, indeed".
The three made their way through Phlan and met with Luie outside of the City Hall.
"I hope that you have gotten your misplaced humor out of your system now Luie," Caerlin stated with a slight glare at the hin when they meet up with him.
Luie’s big forest green eyes met her gaze and for a moment his lips trembled. “Arr... I mean yes... all... out...” He took a deep breath. “...of my system,” he finished with another deep breath.
Caerlin raised an eyebrow at Luie, not at all convinced.
The hin ascended the stairs and opened the doors for everyone as the guards glanced at them. After waiting for an hour, the four of them were finally called into the council chambers and they faced the eight men and woman that were mostly human that made up the Council.
Caerlin stepped forward a bit and gave a respectful bow to the council. "Well met, Lords and Ladies, my name is Caerlin DeLoux of the Red Shields, and these are my companions." She introduced each member of the Company. “We were told that we needed to give our report to you about our findings in the ruins."
Once she got a nod from the head Council member, she continued but she paused for a moment as she noticed the male human standing in the shadows and behind the second female human on the left. "We cleared out the manor of House Nolane of goblins that had laired there." Caerlin describes the details of the fight and the searching of the manor but she didn’t mention the library or the secret room.
“You’ve all done well and you have our thanks. Your Commander will reward you once you return,” the elder male human answered after they listened to Caerlon. “If you are staying the night, the inns won’t charge you for rooms.”
Gereth waited in silence while Caerlin made her report and he is amazed with what he heard. How does it can such a big city, with so many clans living inside of its walls, need to pay a group of mercenaries to remove goblins? The young barbarian thought about that and about the weaknesses of the civilization, while he made a silent prayer to Uthgar so that this evil never falls upon his people.
Caerlin bowed again respectfully to the elder. "Our thanks for your offer of hospitality, we have not yet decided if we are staying. If we do, will we need a writ or token from you to give to the innkeeper?"
“Nay, they have been given descriptions of who you are and to look for your guild markings.”
Caerlin looked at the elder with a questioning look. "Our descriptions? How would they have our descriptions, when this is the first time we have reported to you?"
“The Commander gave us descriptions on who was coming here and the guards noticed you as you asked to be let through the gate that seals Old Phlan, of course.”
Caerlin bided the council a good eve, and bow for the third time before she turned and left. Once the party returned to the horses Luie gave Caerlin a sidelong glance and asked the inevitable question, “When do we eat?”
Caerlin raised her eyebrow at Luie's question, and shook her head as she smiled. She quietly spoke to all three of her companions, "So, are we going to stay in Phlan this eve, or do we want to take the chance of heading back to the settlement?" She looked at Luie and gave him a wink, "Once we decide what we are going to do, then we will figure out when and where to break our eveningfast." Caerlin looked around, like she is just taking in the sights of the City Hall, but she was actually checking to see if they are being watched by anyone. However, no one seemed to be taking any undue interest in them.
In a normal tone of voice that suggests Luie is just discussing the local weather, he said, “Leaving now would draw attention. We could seek solace in the Temple of Tyr since I heard that they have a strong presence in the city.” He kept to a hushed tone that is just audible, “Less chance of food poisoning.”
Gereth heard the last comment and he began to question himself on what could be happening. When heard mention of the temple he answered, with a rude tone in his formerly calm voice, "I don't like nor want to pass the night in the temple of such a greedy god!" After a moment, when he calmed down a little, Gereth smiled again at Luie. "Forgive me, master halfling, but I have my personal reasons on disagreeing with this idea. I vote that we head to the settlement but I leave the matter to you three to decide." Gereth looked at his comrades and continued his reasoning. "But for me, this place is too noisy and the night is only beginning. The weather is pleasant and we can see the stars and Selune clearly. I think that we’ll have no problem going to the settlement, unless there are any thieves and other perils on the way.”
“Or we could do that, as long as food is involved,” Luie answered. “To each there own Gereth, just don’t say that too loud in a crowded tavern.”
Gereth laughed before he said, "I´ll try to remember that, my friend." Once he stopped laughing, he looked at his companions and with a soft voice and a firm grip in his axe, he said, "I really don’t have to decide which will be the better curse of action. I really don’t want to pass a night in the temple and I don’t know of your... our problems. But you can count on me, of course.”
Luie said in a low voice as he kept his eyes straight ahead. “No temple then, but if the gates are closed we are stuck here for the night. If that ends up being the case then we need to stay at an inn, which has good food and ale.” He rubbed the back of his head. ”We could hop on a ferry or hire a boat to take us across the river.”
"I think that it’s better that we decide soon," the large barbarian remarked.
Caerlin nodded at both Gereth and Luie's suggestions. In a very quiet voice, she told Gereth about the hell hound that they spotted on the way into Phlan as she continued to scan the area unobtrusively. "It’ll be Beshaba’s chances that we will be watched and followed, maybe until we reach the settlement."
"I see, the cover of night is a good excuse for an ambush, or something worse," Gereth replied in a very soft tone. The barbarian looked at the surroundings and waited for the others to make a decision. He showed a little regret in his face while he spoke. "Why don’t you three go to the temple? It will be a good measure to assure your security. I think that I can survive a night in a tavern." He winked at the companions, with a little sincere but sad smile on his lips.
“Well as old Master Kalin said, “Never enter and exit through the same door.” Of course, he was killed after taking a backdoor out of a building because the angry mob had the place surrounded.” Luie began to lead the party to the docks and no one stopped them.
Ragnar turned to look at Luie, "Funny you should say that because Master Luko had a similar advice, but only if your instrument was out of tune or, for some reason that he never explained, if the crowd was made up of mostly turnip-farmers.” Ragnar stopped and sniffed the air. "Ah the smell of fermented fish-scales, the excrements of the poor part of town, rotting seaweeds, and plenty of tar. Just like home. Tymora, I’m happy to have gotten out of Dock Ward!"
Gereth gave Ragnar a disgusting look and said, "Bard, if your home smells like this, I begin to understand why you choose to be a mercenary!" A breath later, Gereth exploded in vigorous laughter which made some of the citizens look at the group in surprise or interest.
“See if you can secure us a non-turnip filled barge,” Luie said as he scanned the rooftops of the warehouses.
"Sounds like a plan to me," Ragnar said before he trotted his horse down to the water’s edge. The bard started to try to find a barge, or other floating transportation, that will be big enough to take the group across part of the Moonsea and he saw that there are many different boats and barges that could do that.
Ragnar steered his horse to the largest craft and he raised his hand in salute to the middle-aged male human that seemed to be in charge. "Oloré goodman sailor, would there be a chance for me, my three friends, and our three horses to get passage to the northwest? Also how much would it cost? Oh... you've no turnips onboard, I hope."
“No, no turnips. The horses can stay in the middle of the deck. As for price, I’m heading that way anyhow and I’ll collect it from your Commander since it looks as if you are mercenaries and I’ve heard tales about your Commander and company.”
"Splendid, we'll get on board soon enough," Ragnar told him, and rode back to tell the rest of the group. "One turnip-free sailing-craft giving us passage to the settlement has been secured."
“Good job Ragnar, now let’s ride! Or is it float?” The hin shrugged.
Caerlin smiled at Ragnar, "Aye, good job." She looks around and her eyes settled on the Jumping Frog Hall. "Why don't you ask the captain where a good place to get food is, since it's your turn to buy. Plus, we don't want Luie to perish due to lack for food," she added with a wink.
Luie faked a swoon, “I feel famished even after eating all of Ragnars’ field rations.”
Ragnar rolled his eyes, "Very well, but just a light snack. There’s no point in spending all our loot on feeding the halfling. I knew I should've brought one of the goblins' heads. The brain makes for a great stew, or so I've been told." He turned his horse toward the tavern.
Luie launched a feral smile while he nodded and then he added a ‘slurping’ noise. “I’ll try not to miss the raft!”
Caerlin turned around to look at Luie, and shook her head. "That's just awful. Helpful as usual, aren't you?" Caerlin rolled her eyes and turned back around.
Luie said with a grin, “It is in my nature to be helpful.”
Gereth looked amused by the good humor of the companions, and he asked in a low tone, "It’s safe to go alone in this part of Phlan?"
Ragnar grinned at Gereth and made a flourishing movement with his left hand and at the end of the movement his fist is suddenly clenched behind a wicked-looking punching-dagger. "If you know the rules, Gereth. If you know the rules."
“The city watch and Tyrains keep things safe to a certain extent,” Luie remarked.
As he continued to grin, Ragnar plucked the dagger back into his sleeve. "Oh yes, that too."
Gereth stayed a little irritated with this last comment, and he murmured to himself, "Yes, I wonder to who the Tyrains keep the things safe, and what it costs?" The barbarian jumped off his horse, and started to look at his mount to see if all is right with the horse and the equipment and he saw nothing that would cause him any problems.
Caerlin watched Gereth with a raised eyebrow, wondering about his obvious dislike for the faith of Tyr. She looked back at Luie with a questioning look, and shrugged her shoulders. She dismounted and led the horse onto the barge. She looked at Luie, "At least Ragnar looks more comfortable on his horse than he did on the way in," she added with a smile.
Luie returned her shrug while he thought, “To each their own.” He giggled and said before he joined her on the barge, “Nothing like a good fight to get your feet wet.”
Once the others were aboard, the barge was poled away from Phlan and then to the west. They kept shoreline in sight but out in the Moonsea enough that the barge wouldn’t get caught on any obstacles. The Companions slept the first night on deck and it was past dawnfry on the second day when the captain ordered the barge into an outlet so they could disembark and finish the hour ride to the mercenary headquarters.
Once disembarked and on the way to headquarters, Caerlin turned to the others. "Who wants to give the report to the Commander? Should we all go, or just one of us?" She looked around at the nearby landscape that was mostly rolling hills and grasslands. "Must remember to tell her about the hell hound, and the guy who was watching us in the ruins."
"I suppose I can give the report," Ragnar said as he winked at Caerlin, "I bet that you and Luie will want to come and make sure I give a proper report, too. But that's all up to you."
"Works for me," Caerlin said with a smile. She looked over her shoulder at Luie. "Would you like a wood box, or a steel one? I found two boxes at the manor, and you can have one of them if you like. And Ragnar," she turned back to him, "Can you tell if things are magical? I was planning on taking all the things that I found to the mages once we get back, but if you can do it, it will save them and us some time. We should also decide how we are going to divide up what we found as well." She looked between Ragnar and Luie as she continued to smile.
The content of Champions of the Silver Wyrm is the property and copyright of Scott Kujawa and is not to be published or redistributed without permission.
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