Campaign Logs

The Sunset Vale Saga

By Brian Flood

Chapter 2 - Meetings

The Meeting Room of Blackpost's Bench Tankard House

Berdusk, The Sunset Vale

Early Evening, 19th Day of Elient, Year of the Tankard (1970 DR)

Looking around the room and seeing no one else, Darius shrugs to himself and muses, 'hmm, first one here', then he sits at the chair, closest to the door, even though it may mean moving a bit when someone else comes in. He places his spear standing up against the wall behind him, and then waits patiently.  If there is one thing that Darius knows, it is patience.

The door to the meeting room opens and a very attractive human female wrapped in a plain blue cloak enters the room.  The hood is rumpled down around her neck, letting her long red hair breathe and flow across the back of her shoulders and the top of the leather pack she is wearing on her back.  The only other occupant of the room, the young man, can see that there is a hint of a white tunic underneath the blue fabric and that her brown breeches flow naturally into the soft leather boots upon her feet.  The hilt of small dagger can just be seen peeking out of the boot on her left side and another dagger rests quietly in its sheath on the right side of her belt, opposite a rather worn leather pouch.  Her left hand holds a simple wooden staff ornamented only by an unadorned iron band near the top.

The young woman smiles delicately at the young man seated in the chair. Great.  Another unbalanced mind, Kjira thinks to herself as she smiles delicately at the young man seated in the chair.  She nods her head slightly as her gaze meets his.

“Good evening friend,” she says softly.  “I trust you too are looking for work here tonight?”

As she talks to the young man, the young woman makes her way carefully to the chair just to the left of the chair opposite him.  Leaning her staff gently against the wall to the left behind her, she pulls the chair out and sits down, taking a moment to remove her backpack, setting it in her lap. 

Undoing the clasps of the pack delicately, she reaches in and fumbles around momentarily while her hand tries to locate her brush and comb set.  Eventually she manages to pull out a wooden brush, the handle the color of dark honey, with creamy bristles.

Lost in thought, the young man shakes off his reverie, stands and smiles at her, “Good evening Lady. Yes, I am here for work. Darius of Silvanus at your service.”

The red-haired young lady rises to make his acquaintance.

“Well met, Darius of Silvanus.  I am called Kjira.  The pleasure is mine.  By what twist of fate do you find yourself in Berdusk with me this evening?”

Darius smiles a bit, and starts his tale, “Well that is a bit of a story, Kjira. After adventuring for a few seasons, my mentor Florin, Soft-Fang and I killed the worg that was destroying the forest animals to the west of here.  Since I will eventually take over as protector of the wooded area from Florin, he decided that I needed some additional experience in the world.  So here I am, out learning the ways of all creatures so I may better protect the woodlands that will be my responsibility.”

“Did you meet my friend Soft-Fang on the way in? He would be sitting on the porch, waiting. He is a wolf.”

“I'm afraid I missed your friend at the door.  I fear I was in rather a hurry and must have overlooked him.  Odd, however” she says as she pauses, “one would think I'd notice a wolf on the doorstoop.”

“I have been in Berdusk for a while now and I feel it is time to leave.  This place holds too many memories for me to remain much longer.  I can only hope this caravan job will come through to provide passage out.”

The door to the meeting room opens as a male halfling enters the room.  He is dressed in a pair of gray breeches and bright yellow shirt but, like most halflings, has kept his feet bare.  His long brown hair is topped by a cap of deep indigo, which matches his cloak.  He is wearing his baldric and belt, which together hold two small belt pouches, a short sword, and a pair of daggers.

The young man seated next to the door, noticing the new arrival, waits till it is his time to respond to the Lady that he is talking to. “Aha, another arrival” he says aloud to both, and standing he turns to the halfling, “Greetings Sir, I am Darius, druid of Silvanus. Are you here for the caravan job also?”

And I am Kjira,” the redheaded young woman across the table chimes in as Darius finishes his introduction.  “It would seem we all are here for the same reason, no doubt.  The fiesty gnome at the door certainly didn't let you in for a free drink” she says with a grin on her face.

“Tell us a little about yourself -- from my conversation with our little friend outside the door we may be waiting a while for our future employer to arrive.”

“Kjira and Darius,” the halfling repeats, “A pleasure to make your acquaintance.  My name is Cyzicus of Corm Orp, faithful of Arvoreen.  I have encountered several druids in my few years Darius, and long have I been persuaded of their benefit to society as a whole, but seldom have I seem druids looking for caravan work.  Is there no grove which needs you protection?”

“Aye, there is, which is why I am here.  My mentor Florin has sent me into the world to learn it's ways so that I may better protect the woodlands west of here.  What better way to travel than with a group”, replies Darius.

“I'm equally enchanted, friend Cyzicus.  It is always exciting to meet new people these days.  I am unfamiliar with Arvoreen -- perhaps you could tell me more?”

Kjira sits back down in her chair as she waits for the newcomer's response.

Cyzicus will move around to the west side of the table and sit at the southernmost available chair, next to Darius and Kjira, before responding.

“Arvoreen is the protector of the halfling race, he who stays vigilant and constantly hones his martial skills so that others of our race may life in peace and comfort without having to worry about these things. As his representative, my job is to face danger so that others do not have to.  And yourself Kjira, where do your particular skills lie?”

"Thank you for enlightening me, you'll have to forgive my ignorance in some matters." Kjira replies to the halfling as Cyzicus makes himself comfortable.

“As for skills are somewhat varied, but I have concentrated mostly on the arcane arts, though I still have much to learn.  I lost my teacher before my education was complete...” she looks away somewhat wistfully as she finishes.

A few moments later, a tan-skinned human male in his mid twenties enters through the door to the room.  He appears to stand at 71” tall and weigh just over 170 pounds.  His steel-gray eyes compliment his dirty blond hair.   He is dressed in red robes with a white sash.  A backpack is slung over his right shoulder and he carries a staff in his left hand.  His feet are clad in low, soft, leather boots and are barely visible under his robes.  Under his sash he wears a belt, attached to which are a large belt pouch on the left side and a sheath of darts on the right.

The redheaded young lady in the blue cloak rises again from her chair.

“Well, they say three is a crowd, so four must make a party,” she says with a laugh as the stranger enters the room.  “I'm Kjira.  It is a pleasure to make you acquaintance this evening.  I trust you too are looking for employment like the rest of us...” she motions to her two new companions in the room.  “Have a seat, let us relax before our prospective employer arrives.  Although,” she pauses, “I fear we may have a while to wait yet.”

Kjira seats herself once again as she finishes greeting the red-robed newcomer.

The tallfellow halfling follows Kjira's example and stands himself, nodding while greeting the newcomer “Good Evening. I am Cyzicus, devoted of Arvoreen.”  With that simple statement, the halfling returns to his seat. 

Rising from his seat, the human smiles at the newcomer, “Evening Sir.  Darius, druid of Silvanus at your service.”

“Greetings Kjira, pleased to meet your acquintance.  I am Lucas, Mage of Silverymoon.  I too am looking for employment.”  Lucas nods at both Kjira and Cyzicus as they introduce themselves.  “I bid you good eve as well Cyzicus.”  Lucas moves around to a spot at the table and takes his place next to Darius.  “So have any of you heard anything about this caravan heading out?  I have done a few runs in the past but not with this one.”   As Lucas sits he removes his backpack off his shoulder and places it on the ground next to his chair.

“So lets get to know each other a bit...As you know, I am a mage of Silverymoon.  I have seen a little of the realm around Waterdeep and the realms to the north around Silverymoon.  I am skilled in the ways of outdoor survival so if we run into troubles afield, I may be of assistance.”

“Enchanted, friend Lucas.  It is always good to know another who studies the more arcane arts of our fair land.” Kjira says pleasantly as the newcomer introduces himself.

“I've heard little as to the details of this caravan opportunity.  Our fine gnomish friend at the door outside was a little close-lipped on the subject,” she pauses briefly, biting her lower lip gently.  “And speaking

of lips, mine are becoming rather parched...and I do not see any refreshments near by.”  

For the first time since you've met her, Kjira seems a tad irritated.  “If you would be so kind as to excuse me momentarily,” she says as she makes her way back to the door.

As Kjira gets up and starts moving towards the door, Lucas responds "I did place an order with the serving girl before coming in here.  When she gets here with my order, I am sure she will happily get you something." 

Opening the door, Kjira pokes her head halfway out and looks around – and almost collides with the barmaiden who was about to enter the room carrying a full tray.  The girl gasps and barely manages to bring the tray back under control as the gnome (who still stands outside the room, apparently) scrambles out of the way.

“By Mystra!”  Kjira exlaims, suprised, as the barmaiden bursts through the door.  “I guess I should learn to be more careful around here.”

“My pardons, m’lady,” the serving girl says meekly as she steps into the room carrying a wooden tray filled with a platter of roast hen on a bed of vegetables and a wooden flagon.  She glances around the room, scanning the faces and then moves toward Lucas, edging between Darius’ chair and the wall.

She places the platter of food and the flagon in front of the mage saying, “That’ll be one silver m’lord.”  Lucas smiles and raises his right hand, moving his fingers as if snapping his fingers.  Instantly, a silver coin appears in his hand.

“Oh!” the girl gasps, blushing as Lucas places the coin on her empty tray.

Kjira moves back to her seat as the barmaiden sets Lucas's feast before him. 

“Miss, if you wouldn't mind,” she says waiting for the girl's attention.  “Would you be so kind as to be bring me a decanter of wine for the table...and perhaps something to eat as well.  What is the house preparing tonight?”

The barmaiden looks up from the coin on her tray and stammers, “M’lady, the special this evenin’ is a mug ‘o broth or stew, a tankard ‘o ale or other drink, and a platter of goldenstars.  I’ll be bringin’ the wine right off, m’lady.  Berdusk dark will it be?  And how may dinners should I fetch?”

“Berdusk dark will do wonderfully,” Kjira replies.  “And the special will suffice as well.  Please bring me the broth instead of the stew and some of those delicious-looking goldenstars I've seen running around all over the tavern tonight.  Would anyone else like anything?”

“No dinner for me, I ate earlier. Although if there are some juices available I would like a glass of that,” replies the druid.

“The goldenstars are delightful” Cyzicus adds, “but no more for me thanks.”

Lucas shakes his head no as he digs into his chicken.  Chewing and swallowing before responding, “The fowl is very tasty!  Please give my compliments to the cook.  I will not require anything else thanks.”  Lucas washes his palate clean with a small drink from his cup.  Looking up and smiling, “Enjoy it while you can as the fare on the caravan is not as pleasing and tasty.”

The barmaid nods in affirmation of the order and exits the room.

Turning back to Kjira, Lucas says, “So Kjira, you have studied the arcane arts as well I see.  Are you a specialist of sorts?  And may I ask where you took up your studies?” adds Lucas with a smile.

“Well,” Kjira says demurely, “I may not be a specialist, but I think I'm somewhat special.”  She grins as she finishes her sentence.  “As for my studies, I have done most of my learning on the road, in the company of a learned mage...but I have spent the last few months in town.”

Lucas then asks, “So you were not taking to proper apprenticeship to a Master Mage?”  

“Proper apprenticeship only applies to those seeking to be proper mages,” Kjira replies as Lucas enjoys his dinner.  

Lucas waits for a response before continuing, “In Silverymoon, the Masters are very demanding of the apprentices.  Only the best graduate and are awarded the red robes of a Silverymoon Mage.”  Lucas continues eating his meal as he converses.

“I have heard of the Masters of Silverymoon, they are held in high esteem indeed.  But I have found, for myself at least, that one learns a great deal more about practical magic from one who practices it to survive than from a Master who practices it for research locked away in a great tower.  My mentor has taught me many a simple but cunning thing that escapes even the greatest of mages -- and saved my life many times over.  I need no red robe bestowed upon me to prove my skill.  My continued existence is testimonial enough.”

With that Kjira once again begins to brush her long reddish hair slowly as she waits for the barmaiden to return with her drink.

About fifteen minutes after Kjira placed her order, the serving maiden re-enters the room carrying a tray containing a bottle of dark, amber liquid, two wooden flagons, a steaming wooden mug, and a wooden tray filled with gravy-covered goldenstars.

The young girl places tray of goldenstars, the mug of broth, the bottle, and a single flagon in front of Kjira.  “That’ll be 2 coppers for the food and 6 gold for the drink, m’lady,” she tells Kjira.  

Kjira winces noticeably as she pulls the funds from deep within her backpack and hands them to the barmaiden.

“I have but one vice,” she sighs.  “Fine food and drink.  I almost dread the thought of traveling again, for one can never get a decent meal on a journey.  Of course, without employment, once cannot afford it to begin with...”

Lucas nods at Kjira's comment on food and drink. “You have that right...meals in a city and a warm dry place to sleep are always missed with on the road.”

The girl waits until after she has received her payment from Kjira and then places the remaining flagon in front of Darius.  “And that’ll be a copper for the fruit juice, m’lord,” she tells the druid.

After receiving her payment from Darius, the girl turns to leave.  As she does, the door to the room opens again.

A tired, battered-looking female half-elf enters the meeting room.  She is obviously down on her luck, it seems that she has definitely seen better times.  Her worn cloak and ripped gear show traces of a recent fight.  A black eye, and bruised body shows that she might not have emerged a winner.

A silver streak meanders along the side of her blonde hair framing the earring in her ear.  She has the bronze tones of a high half-elf and stands at five feet plus.  From a distance, she would be almost mistaken as human.  Hastily, she adjusts her dusty clothes and with a quick motion tries to brush off some of the dust of her threadbare cloak.  A well-maintained longbow sitting upon an almost empty quiver on her back and a dagger in her boots are the only signs of visible weaponry.  She looks around cautiously as she enters the room.

The barmaiden stops in her tracks and addresses the newcomer.  “My pardons, m’lady, might I be getting you something to eat or drink?”

The tired, battered-looking female half-elf jumps in surprise as the young man in normal clothing next to the door stands, “Good evening Lady.  Darius, druid of Silvanus at your service.  I have some herbs that might help that eye if you like,” he says with a charm and innocence that differ with his rustic look.

The newcomer stammers, “Uhh, thanks, my name is Slyvia.  Any help from a druid is greatly appreciated.”

Darius pulls open the bag at his side and starts to rummage around in it.  After a few minutes he pulls out some leaves, and a bit of cotton gauze.  Wrapping the leaves in the gauze he hands it to Sylvia, “this will help the swelling and the pain a bit. If more is needed, more in the way of herbs and healing can be done later.”

Slyvia gratefully accepts the help of the druid.  She speaks in a low tone.  “Thank you for the help, sir Darius, I am feeling a bit of pain, but its easing with every passing moment.”  She grimaces as she applies the poultice to her black eye.

The redheaded human female looks quizzically at the new arrival in the room.  Quickly setting down her food, she stands once again to greet the newcomer.

“Good evening,” she says quietly.  “Or should I wish you a better evening?  It looks as though the night has not gone well for you.  My name is Kjira...I trust you too are here looking for employment?”

Slyvia smiles at her, “Well my night is starting to be looking up.  I am here about the cavern guard position.”

“Would you perhaps enjoy a drink while we wait for our prospective employer?  I happen to have an excess of Berdusk Dark tonight.  Can I interest you in a glass to help soothe the evening?”  Kjira says with a smile as she motions toward the flagon on the table.

Slyvia shakes her head, “I have little tolerance for alcohol, and the last thing anyone wants to hire is a drunken half-elf with a bow.  I was rudely greeted by ruffians when entering this fair city, and must seek employment to continue on my quest.”

Kjira smiles gracefully as the newcomer opts to pass on her offer. 

“Fair enough,” she says cheerfully.  “Should we both be hired perhaps we'll drink together on the road.  In the mean time, why not tell us more about these ruffians?  I've heard no news lately”

Slyvia shakes her head nervously, “I really did not get a close look at them, and the city guards did not have any reports of any bandit bands in the area.  It could have been an isolated attack.  All I remember is three humans jumping me.  One of them hit me in the head, while the others grabbed my pack.  When I drew ‘Haven's Heart’ (she pats her longbow on her back) they ran.  I was able to retrieve some of my stuff, but they took my money pouch.”

“Bandits...” Kjira says as she mulls over Sylvia's tale.  “I hope they leave the area before we have to escort this caravan out!  Otherwise things could get interesting!”

“Aye..I have no love of brigandes or bandits.  Let us hope we have no trouble with them on this job.”  The red-robed man pushes his plate of chicken bones away from him and finishes off his drink.  Looking at the new arrival, Lucas stands up and introduces himself, “Greetings, I am Lucas, Mage of Silverymoon.... and you are?”

Slyvia bows to him, “Well met Mage Lucas, I am a humble spellarcher, who has had a bad turn of late.  I hope that I can be of help to you in your practice of the arts.”

“I add my greetings to you this fine evening” the halfling adds to the others’ statements.  “I am Cyzicus, devoted of Arvoreen,” he says as he returns to his seat with respect, but without undue attention to the new arrival's state.

Slyvia nods her head, “Greeting to you too sir.”

Kjira yawns sleepily and looks around the room at the somewhat motley assortment of people that have begun to arrive.  “Well, you certainly seem like a lively bunch,” she says as she makes her back to her chair.

Resigning herself to the inevitable, she sits back down in her chair knowing all too well she'll have to get back up again momentarily to greet a new arrival.  For the moment, however, she wants to rest her feet, the day having been long and somewhat weary.

Slyvia laughs nervously as she enters the room and finds a spot to sit next to Kjira.  She looks curiously at her companions as she sits, “Does anyone know who our employers are or how many guards they require?”

“I have not heard -- our friend the gnome outside the door is rather tight-lipped.  He advised me our employer would fill us in on those details, should he ever arrive...”  Kjira says with a somewhat frustrated tone. 

“A quest? I am intrigued now I must say.”  Cyzicus states with a real interest.  “May I be so bold as to inquire what it is you pursue?”

“Mmmm...”  Kjira murmurs as she listens into the conversation.  “A quest does sound most tell us a little more.  I fear we may have a while to wait for our prospective employer and conversation would help pass the time...”

Slyvia smiles at them, “Well, it’s not like one of the quests for something wonderful, magical or powerful.  My quest is to find out who my dad was.  My mom, she died, and he left.  The only thing that I have from him is his elven bow and his talent for magery.  I don't have a lot to go on, but I do hope to one day find out what happened to him.”

“Now that's what I call a noble quest!”  Cyzicus says with excitement. “Far surpassing those for greed of a magical trinket or a chest full of shiny gold, although those things certainly have their place. No, a quest such as yours is one I would be honored to assist in any way I possibly could, although I imagine it is both personal and meaningful to you.  If you have any desire to speak of your quest to me, or enlist my aid, it is yours.”  The halfling nods his head respectfully.

“Sounds like a wonderful quest to me,” Kjira says as she takes another sip of the Berdusk Dark before her.  “I wish you luck on your search.”

Pondering a moment Lucas continues, “I also wish you luck in your quest.  ‘Tis no easy task to uncover the past.  Especially when it has many twists and turns that you have little to do with at the time.”

The red robed man pushes his empty goblet back by his bone-covered dinner plate. “Well at least I had my last good meal in town for a while.  I hope the trail rations aren't too bland.”

“A little preparation in advance can spare you from the monotony of bland trail rations.  You should consider a trip to the provisioner to stock up on a few bare necessities before leaving town,” Kjira advises her newfound friend.

Slyvia smiles her thanks to all who expressed an interest in her personal quest.   She shakes her head slightly and replies, “Well at the present time, my only quest is to hopefully get a job, and some more experience.”  She then drops silent, as she waits with the others for their mysterious employers or the others who are also seeking a job.

The door opens yet again and two new arrivals enter the room.

The first is a human woman with short-cropped black hair and a hint of elven ancestry in her facial features.  She in all black garments and wears a voluminous black cassock that hides her belt.  A hint of a protrusion on either side of her hips suggests that she wears a blade of some type on both hips.

The second new arrival is a tall, sleekly built elven woman with dark olive skin and black shoulder length hair worn in a long tail bound by a simple platinum loop.  She wears a long, dark brown hooded cloak and thigh-high black leather boots.  The belt at her waist carries a sheathed dagger and several small pouches.  A short sword and a weatherproof bow case hang from her torso and rest against her back.  A quiver of flight arrows is strapped to her right leg; all of the arrows’ fletchings are stained dark red.

The redheaded woman seated across the table covers her mouth with one hand, finishing a yawn, as the newcomers enter the room.  The other hand gently replaces a glass full of wine back on the tabletop.  She stands carefully and smiles as the newcomers look around.

“Good evening,” she says pleasantly.  “My name is Kjira.  Please, have a seat and join us while we wait for our prospective employer to arrive.”

Kjira motions to the empty chairs around the table.  “We've been waiting a while as it is, and we may have longer to wait still.  Rest your feet with us for a moment.”

The human male next to the door, “Aye welcome. I am Darius of Silvanus.”

The half elf sitting next to the redheaded woman gets up.  She quietly introduces herself as Slyvia, and takes her seat once again.

The dark dressed figure nods in accordance to those who have introduced themselves.

“I am Zell, and this is,” as she motions her hand towards the other figure a hint of hesitation can be seen, but not too broad, "a friend of mine."

Zell turns her attention back to Kjira, “Tis a good welcome, and I will gladly claim an unclosed seat you have offered me.”

Zell moves to sit in the northernmost seat at the table.  Her eyes jump from figure to figure, and her hand moves underneath her "cloak" and pulls forth a dagger in a non-threatening manner.  She then twirls it, all the while taking everything in from each and everyone in the room, including that of her "friend".

The elven woman says smoothly in common, “My name is Alani. And I am pleased to make all your acquaintances.”  Her voice is elegant and clear.  She drops her pack to the floor and places a bottle of Berdusk on the table.  Then she shrugs off the bowcase and backpack allowing both items to rest on the floor.  “Please, share this with me” she says to you all, gesturing at the bottle in front of her.

Kjira points to her own bottle of Berdusk on the table, next to the once-steaming mug of broth and the platter of goldenstars before her.

“Your generosity is appreciated,” she says to Alani.  “But I already have a bottle myself.  I'm afraid I have rather a weakness for it.  But please feel free to help yourself to some of these goldenstars -- I could never eat all of those by myself.”

The human in the red robes turns and looks at the newcomers as they enter the room.  “Greetings.  I am Lucas, Mage of Silverymoon.  I look forward to working with you.”

Lucas smiles at Alani and replies, “I thank you for your offer and accept.”  Lucas holds out his empty goblet before him.  “I hope the caravan master won't be too much longer.”  Lucas offers a toast to all after filling his goblet. "To a good venture!"

After pouring the wine for Lucas, Alani moves to take the chair at his right.  She reverses the seat and sits astride it.

The halfling stands and bows saying, “And I am Cyzicus, devoted of Arvoreen.”  He then retakes his seat.

The door of the room opens and a barrel-chested dwarf enters.  He is dressed in a faded black shirt, heavy brown trousers, and a faded black cloth cloak.  His only visible weaponry is a warhammer that hangs from his belt.  His beefy right hand clutches a mug of a dark, frothy beverage.

“Well, well,” the young lady wrapped in her blue cloak says as the stout dwarf enters.  “It seems to be getting rather crowded in this tiny little room.  I hope our employer shows up soon, or we might all suffocate!  Well met, friend.  My name is Kjira and these,” she motions toward her companions, “are your fellow potential employees...”

The human male next to the door stands and says, “Darius of Silvanus at your service, Sir dwarf.” He then sits.

The red robed human stands and bows slightly to the dwarf in the doorway.   “Greetings.  I am Lucas, Mage of Silverymoon.”  Lucas raises his goblet to the dwarf in his honor.

The tall elven woman gives a small casual wave to the dwarf. Her pretty, angular features wear a welcoming smile. “My name is Alani,” she says.

The dark dressed figure, twirling a dagger in her hands, remains silent.

The half elf sitting next to the redheaded woman gets up and smiles at the dwarf.  She quietly introduces herself as Slyvia, and takes her seat once again.

The woman dressed in black twirling a dagger finally acknowledges the dwarf with a nod and a single word, “Zell.”

“Finally, someone I can look almost in the eyes,” the halfling says with a hint of a grin.  “I’m Cyzicus, and it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

The dwarf raises his mug in return, “G'd Evenin' to the lot of you.  I'm Dolak, the smith.”  Dolak walks along the east wall to the chair to the right of Alani.  Once there, he sets the mug on the table.  Using the now free hand, he holds the hammer so it doesn't bang into the chair as he sits down.  Now seated, Dolak guides the hammer down and then reclaims the mug.

A few more seconds pass and finally Zell allows her curiosity of what has happened to Slyvia get the better of her, “And what happened to you, if you don't mind me askin'?”

Slyvia smiles at Zell, “No, I don’t mind you asking.  I was attacked by a trio of thugs before entering the city.”  She shakes her head and winces in pain, “I was careless, they caught me when I was not really paying attention to my surroundings.”  She glances at the druid, “However, Sir Darius has provided me with a poultice that has helped me a bit.”

Zell stops her blade for the moment and wonders if these were the same cutthroats that tried to finger her purse earlier today, “Tell me which way you entered through the city.”

Before Slyvia can respond, the door opens and a handsome brown-haired man enters the room. The man is dressed in a well-tailored white tunic and brown trousers.  Worn over his tunic is a functional, yet stylish suit of leather armor. His feet are clad in black leather knee-high boots, and he also sports a midnight-black cloak.  Sheathed to his right hip is a saber, and hooked to his belt on his left hip is 20' of rope already tied into a lasso.

A tall and lithe red-haired young lady stands up from the table, almost knocking over a flagon of drink before her.  Catching it just in time, she sets it back upright.  “Oops,” she says with a giggle.  “My name is Kjira -- the pleasure is mine.  Have a seat while you wait with us for our employer to arrive.”  She motions to the few empty seats remaining.

The young man seated next to the door, smiles and nods, “Darius of Silvanus at your service.”  He then starts nursing the glass of fruit juice in front of him.

The human in red robes nods at the newcomer.  “Greetings, I am Lucas, Mage of Silverymoon.”

The halfling rises briefly (and almost imperceptibly due to his height) and says “Good evening. I am Cyzicus, devoted of Arvoreen.”  And then returns to his seat.

The young female half elf sitting next to the redheaded woman gets up and smiles at the man. She clutches a poultice to her blackened eye and shyly whispers, “Welcome, I am Slyvia, it is nice to meet you.”

The dwarf raises his empty hand while saying, “Be welcome here.  I'm Dolak.”

The man at the door eloquently bows to the occupants of the room.  When he rises he says, “Thank you for the warm welcome.  My name is Kryian and I'm glad to meet you all.”  He then makes his way through the room to seat himself in the chair next to Slyvia.

The tall elven woman across the table gives a small casual wave to Kryian. Her pretty, angular features wear a welcoming smile. “My name is Alani” she says.

After Kryian has seated himself, the woman dressed in black twirling a dagger finally acknowledges him with a nod and a single word, “Zell.”

The introductions have just ended when the door opens and a imposing human male enters the room.  The large, handsome, blond-haired man is dressed in a gray cloak and deep blue tunic.  Upon the left breast of the tunic is an embroidered symbol depicting a set of balanced scales set upon the head of an upright warhammer.   A hint of a metallic gleam escapes from beneath the garments; a coif of chainlinks and a scabbarded longsword hang from his belt.

“Hello! I am Alani,” says the pretty female elf to the newcomer.  She casts her gaze around the rest of the room. “Our 'little' group is no longer 'little' is it?” she says with a quick smile.

The human male next to the door nods, “Evening Sir knight, Darius of Silvanus at your service. Did you see someone else?  It looks like there is only one more till our potential employer shows.”

The dark female clad figure, who appears to be elven, sits not saying a word.  She merely reaches for her dagger and begins to twirl it.

The redheaded young lady sitting across the table swoons noticeably, if only momentarily, as the newcomer arrives.  She stands again, taking care this time not to knock anything over.

“Greetings friend, my name is Kjira.  Please, make yourself comfortable here while we wait.”

Motioning to the flagon on the table before her, she says “Would you care for a drink while you wait?   I have plenty and no desire to drink myself to sleep tonight.  Since no one else has taken me up on the offer, however, I fear I may just have to...”

The young half-elf female, sitting between the redheaded woman and the handsome brown hair man gets up.  With a small bow to the newcomer she quietly introduces herself as Slyvia and takes her seat once again.  She appears to be agitated to be among so many people, but tries to control her fear and nervousness.

“A welcome symbol,” the halfling notes as he rises and nods in the direction of the newcomer's holy symbol.  “I am Cyzicus, Truesword of Arvoreen,” he continues before returning to his seat.

The dwarf looks up at the newcomer and with a short wave of the open hand says “Be welcome, friend.  I am Dolak.  Right well preserved set o' mail ye 'a'e there.  Glad I am to see that, too.”

The dark figure twirling the dagger slips it back in her 'cloak-like' outfit and leans back in her chair, waiting on the 'head-honcho' to start things up.

The handsome brown-haired man gestures his hands in the direction of the remaining chairs and says, “The name is Kryian, please join us.  Hopefully it won't be too much longer.”

The tall blond youth nods and offers everyone a warm smile and says “Hail friends I am Alric.” he then turns to Darius and says, “Sorry Sir I saw no others out there.”

With that said Alric makes his way to the seat beside the battered half-elf, before sitting he turns to her with concern in his eyes and says softly “Are you well M'lady -- perhaps I can do something to help your injuries?”

Slyvia smiles at him and quietly speaks.  “My thanks to you, kind sir, but Darius has made me a poultice that has eased most of my pains.”  She grins slightly and twists her jaw gingerly, “No it’s not broken and I may look like a sight for sore eyes, (she pats her well carved bow on her back) but I still can handle myself, and will not be a liability.”

The red robed human turns to the newcomers and stands. “Greetings, I am Lucas, Mage of Silverymoon.  I hope you are the last.  Seems we have been waiting in the small room forever.  I think I am getting thirsty again.”  Lucas sits back in his seat and reaches for his empty goblet.  “Hmmm...May I have some more of your wine?”

The door opens and the gnome from outside the room walks in, dragging a wooden chair behind him.  He sets the chair at the end of the table and then glances around the room at the gathered group.  He shrugs and then wanders back through the door.

About five minutes later, the door opens yet again and a plump man enters.  He stands a few inches shorter than average height but that has apparently not kept him from the dinner table!  He is dressed in rather plain, brown breeches and tunic with a darker brown robe that extends past his knees.  Dark, thinning hair is partially concealed beneath a soft, jaunty cap.  A belt around his waist holds a dagger and an assortment of pouches.  In his hands, he holds a rolled parchment that bears a resemblance to that which the gnome used.

The new arrivals glances down at the parchment and then back up at the assembled throng.  As he does so, his lips move slightly and he mutters under his breath.  His brow begins to crinkle as a frown spreads across his features.  Finally, he scowls and squeezes the paper, crumpling it.  He steps to the door, flings it open and hollers, “Ori!” before the door ricochets off the frame behind him.  The teetering door comes to a halt, remaining slightly open.  Through it, bits of conversation can be heard.

“….all you could find me?”  in a deep male voice.

“…But…..requirements, Master,” answers the gnome’s voice.

“Requirements?!…….wet behind the ears….”

“…. Available….time…..”

“Very well……for now.”

Kjira listens intently to the conversation occuring outside the room and the others can tell from the expression on her face she is not pleased with what she hears.  “Hmmph!  The overbearing, overweight, ov –“ she cuts herself short as the man re-enters the room, a graceful smile appearing magically on her face.

The brown robed man reenters the room and takes a seat at the south end of the table.  He takes a deep breath and appears to pause to collect his composure.  The gnome enters shortly afterward, closes the door, and stands near the exit of the room.  The man takes a few more seconds and then he speaks.

“Good evening.  My name is Tomar – I am the agent behind the announcement in the Tor today.  I would imagine that you all are here to inquire as to that message.  What I desire is fairly simple.  I seek a group of guards to safeguard myself and my goods to a nearby settlement.  I offer you each one gold coin for every day of the journey – which I imagine should take two or three tendays.  There will also be a bonus of fifty gold each upon my arrival at my final destination.  Compare that to the monthly wage of a common mercenary guard – four, maybe six gold for a month’s work – and I believe you will find these terms more than adequate.

“Due to the nature of my cargo,” Tomar continues somewhat haughtily, “I will decline to describe any more details until I have secured your agreement to the terms – I would not want to be waylaid by any here that decide not to accompany me.”  He clears his throat before continuing.

“Those are my terms,” he finishes, “who of you will sign on?  By the looks of some of you, I don’t think you have many more opportunities currently open to you.”

The content of The Sunset Vale Saga are the property and copyright of Brian Flood, and are not to be published or redistributed without permission.

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