By Brian Flood
Chapter 3 - The Mission
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)
“Aye, this is a lot of coin for common caravan duty. There is something that you are not mentioning to us” Darius mutters loudly. Then with a wave of his hands, he stands and turns to Tomar, “My master says I must see and experience the world, and this is perhaps the best way to see it. I, Darius, Druid of Silvanus, will sign on to guard your goods.”
“I'll sign, and not for lack of other opportunities, but only contingent on your disclosure of the cargo prior to the trip. I've no desire to be caught smuggling contraband or worse, particularly for the pittance you're offering if the cargo is truly worth so much to you," she says looking Tomar directly in the eyes. “So, my friend, what will it be?”
Alani leans forward, and she says to Tomar “I too have other options. I too have concerns that you are not telling us the FULL story” She raises her elegant eyebrows and smiles “So come on, good sir! The more we know the use we will be...”
The dark female stands and addresses the group. “Good friend Alani, if he has cargo he wishes not to mention then that should be kept to himself. I am Zell, the only name that I know of that I go by. I myself basically have nowhere to go, so thus I will join this league. However, if you won't tell us the cargo, maybe you can tell us exactly who may be wanting to get to your things, since a hire caravan would seem more,......expendable than your own men.”
The female has a serious tone to her voice and thus is questioned by all, but mostly by the gentleman who has asked such a lot.
“I'm with you too.” the halfling adds. “But my aid is dependent on knowledge of the cargo, for I must be sure it is both legal and proper.”
Tomar nods at the requests for further information. “Very well. Your caution and prudence are noted. I will say this: I am a collector of sorts. My wares include rare tomes and other historic items. There are those who would seek to waylay me to procure these items for their own use. Worse yet, I am rightly cautious about travelling the roads of the Sunset Vale without escort for fear of meeting a band of brigands or other raiders. Even if such illiterate ruffians would not see the value my wares, I value my own welfare above my goods! I hope that is sufficient explanation for the time being. Now, it would appear that I have five of you signed on -- what say the rest of you?”
“Rare books, eh?” Kjira says as Tomar finishes. “Very well, that sounds harmless enough...if you haven't omitted anything.”
“When will your caravan be departing? And where shall we be heading to?”
Tomar smiles and says, “As I said earlier, Miss Kjira, you will find out the finer details only AFTER I have bound you all by contract. If you feel like debate, however, I suggest you concentrate your efforts on your companions here and bring them to agreement so that we may move on to the details of the consignment I have for you.”
Slyvia quietly speaks, “I will accept your offer, but I need your word that what you carry will not be used again those of my half-elven brethren.” She pauses and looks at Tomar, “if ever I was to knowingly or unknowingly harm one of my brothers or sisters through actions of yours, I will hold you personally responsible, and will do everything within my power to rectify the wrong.”
Tomar tries unsuccessfully to hide a smirk. “Well, well. Aren’t we feisty this evening! I do not foresee doing any harm to anyone – unless of course I was to drop one of my more weighty tomes upon their head. And further miss, I think it would serve you well to avoid THREATENING your potential employer,” he continues with a stern look, “whilst he is conducting interviews. Especially seeing as you very obviously are in need of employment.”
The red robed mage nods to Tomar. “You can count me in. I wish to perhaps have an opportunity to see some of your ancient tomes if I may. I have a passion for such works if it relates to magical knowledge.”
Tomar smiles slightly at Lucas. “Of course, Master Lucas. If you are looking to purchase any of my tomes I would first advise you that they are most likely out of your budget right now – my cheaper wares average about the same amount as the sum of gold you can expect to earn from this trip. I would, however, consider paying you in the form of a tome in lieu of your expected daily salary and your bonus.” Tomar’s smile vanishes as he continues, “If you merely desire to browse, however, I can direct you to some fine local libraries.”
Alani nods at Tomar “Count me in, Sir” she says. “I too wish to know various details, but respect your needs to have us all sign on before you reveal such details.” She glances about the room “So what say all of you my new friends? Master Tomar here is offering us decent pay, for a decent journey into the countryside.....where can the harm be in that? Especially given that he will accompany us and share any dangers.” She places emphasis on the word ‘share’.
The dwarf looks over the group and then addresses Tomar, “Sirrah, I 'ave some questions fer ye, as well. What's legal depends on whose land we are on, and I dinna think ye be tellin' us where we are goin' 'til yer ready, so I'll not worry on that. Ye can count me in. Me questions lie alon' the journey itself. 'ow many waggons are ye plannin' on makin' the journey with? Are ye plannin' on stayin' to a road or trail, or will we be breakin' bush? An' finally, how many beasts will ye be bringin'?”
The prospective employer sits quietly for a few moments as he considers Dolak’s request. “Very well,” he says, “I don’t surmise that my divulgence of that information will result in a serious compromise in the event one of you decides to sell your information to an outside party. There will simply be one wagon, pulled by two draft horses. As such, I imagine we will stick to an established route rather than attempting to force our way through rough terrain with the wagon.”
Alric looks about the room then at Tomar and smiles “You can count on my sword sir, but I too would like to inspect the books if possible.”
Kryian nods at Alric in agreement, and says “I'm satisfied with the questions asked, and require none of my own. I too, will sign on.” As Kryian finshes his statement, he lights up like a thought has just come to him, “I'm sorry one more thing. I guess I do have just one question. Will you be taking care of our meals during the trip?”
Tomar smiles at Kryian’s question. “I’m afraid not, Master Kryian. Nor will I be securing your lodging on those days that we layover in towns or villages. But it is well enough that you ask, for it brings me to another point.” Tomar’s gaze takes in the entire group as he continues. “You shall receive your daily wages upon our arriving at the various settlements along the route. That way, you will have sufficient coin to buy yourselves a hot meal, a warm bed, and perhaps replenish your supplies. I imagine it will be anywhere from 6 days to a tenday between towns.”
Kjira looks a bit miffed as Tomar finishes his statement.
“By the time we take care of all of that we'll be paying you for the privilege of traveling with you!”
Tomar raises his eyebrows in response. “Fascinating idea…” he says.
“Now then,” the rotund employer continues, “let us move on to the contract and then we shall discuss the finer points of the journey.” He turns to the gnome and says, “The contract, Ori?”
The gnome takes a few steps closer to Tomar and hands him a leather scroll case. The bookseller reaches inside and produces a rolled sheet of parchment. The gnome then hands him a vial of ink and a quill, after which Tomar begins to write.
“Let’s see. We agreed to one gold per day, and a bonus of 50 gold upon my safe arrival at my final destination.” His quill moves across the page, annotating the terms of payment. He then hands the quill and parchment to Ori, the gnome.
Ori walks the parchment and quill to Darius. Darius frowns at the incomprehensible (to him) mass of sigils and glyphs. The gnome hands points to a grouping of symbols that appear to be a listing of sorts as they are all in a column – each with a horizontal line drawn to the right. His finger moves to one particular line of symbols and then moves to the line drawn to its right. “Please mark your name or symbol on this line, kind sir,” he says.
After Darius has scribed his mark, the gnome steps to Lucas and repeats the process. Lucas quickly finds his name – written in Common – on the listing of names. Ori continues walking around the table until all have signed their name or mark. For those others who, like Darius, appear confused by the Common writings, he points out their name and the line next to it.
Once Ori has finished, Tomar says, “Now then, let me describe our journey. Ori?” The employer hands the signed contract back to Ori, who replaces it in its scrollcase before handing another scrollcase to Tomar.
Tomar reaches into the protective case and removes a rolled tube of parchment that has been folded in half in order to fit in the case. He leans over the table and spreads out the paper, which quickly reveals itself as a map.
“First,” he says, “let me say that our speed will be determined by how fast my hitched wagon can travel. My calculations say that we should be able to make 12 miles a day along the road. Or half of that if we travel cross-country over relatively clear terrain.”
Tomar pulls his dagger from his belt and uses it to point to a location near the southwest corner of the map. It is a town located just south of a large body of woods, at a road / river intersection. “This is Berdusk. Our final destination is Hill’s Edge.” As he says this, he points out another town, near the northwest corner of the map just to the east of another road / river intersection and north of the forested area.
His dagger moves back to Berdusk and traces a dotted line that runs roughly east to a town located at a ‘Y’ intersection. “First, we will travel the Uldoon Trail to Asbravn. This will be a distance of about 96 miles – or eight days.”
His dagger then follows a dotted line running north out of Asbravn between a forest to the west, and a mass of hills to the east. It stops at a town a little less than halfway between Asbravn and Hill’s Edge. “Next, we will move along The Dusk Road north for about seven days until we reach Hluthvar.”
The dagger moves north along the Dusk Road again, stopping at town about two-thirds of the way between Hluthvar and Hill’s Edge. “Our next stop is Corm Orp, about six days travel from Hluthvar.”
The dagger moves a short distance northwest, following the road from Corm Orp to Hill’s Edge. “Finally, we will reach our destination, here, at Hill’s Edge. That leg should take us about three days.”
“In all,” Tomar concludes, looking up at the party, “and in the absence of any unforeseen delays, we should reach Hill’s Edge in about a score and four days.”
“That is all I have for you this evening. We will leave at first light on the twenty-first of Elient – the day after tomorrow. I will rendezvous with you at the Vale Gate. Until then, I advise you to organize, provision and equip yourselves appropriately for the journey. This map is for your use.”
He stands and heads for the door, which Ori opens for him. He pauses in the doorway and turns back to the group. “One last thing,” he says, “if any of you shall fail to appear, I will pass your names on to the town guard. Good evening.” With that, he leaves the room, followed by Ori who closes the door behind them.
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.
Return to The Sunset Vale Saga main page
Return to Campaign Logs