By Brian Flood
Chapter 34 - Harvestfest
The Tankard and Sheaf Tavern
Asbravn, The Sunset Vale
Early Evening, 30th Day of Eleint; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
The walk from the House of the Suffering God to the Tankard and Sheaf takes the group of heroes through the marketplace. During the journey, it is evident that the Red Cloaks have restored order to the ward in the handful of hours that has passed since the party defeated their bizarre foes.
Most of the merchants have already reopened their stalls and are doing a brisk business. Others are busy trying to repair the collateral damage that was inflicted upon their wares. Pairs of armed and armored Red Cloak soldiers are sprinkled liberally among the crowds of eager customers.
“It’s remarkable what a little commotion will do to attract customers, eh?” Tomar quips.
A glimpse of the Goldcoin House reveals that the structure is still smoldering. From its visible condition, it appears that the roof has collapsed into the front portion of the building, blocking any access through the shattered front entrance.
At the front door of the tavern, Slyvia announces that she has had enough excitement for one day. She bids farewell to the other companions and heads back to camp.
Darius also takes his leave of the others, and he and Soft Fang head back to the campsite. Once there, he tells Sylvia that he will be back in the morning, and then he and the wolf head out into the surrounding farmlands.
The remaining adventurers – Alani, Cyzicus, Dolak, and Kryian – enter the tavern, accompanied by Tomar. The small band discovers that the tavern consists of a single room. Although the building is built as a two-story structure, there is no upper floor above the taproom. This design technique results in a very high, vaulted ceiling and adds an echoing effect to the cacophony of voices and music that fill the room. Windows are set into what would be the second story level of the room. Light from the fading sun shines in and reflects gaily off of the farming tools – sickles, hoes, plowshares and the like – that decorate the taproom’s walls.
Not long after the group enters, a few customers in the crowd recognize them as the “heroes” of the marketplace fiasco. In minutes, the adventurers and their employer are enjoying free drinks on behalf of their new admirers. Curiously, several customers also approach the table and ask Dolak if he is indeed, the “fabulous Dolak” – the talented smith that a crier announced to the entire tavern earlier in the afternoon.
Soon, Dolak has requests for an innumerable amount of tasks for his forge. From fixing plowshares to forging magical weapons, to fitting horseshoes, the orders flow in without a pause. “No task is too small!” cry the eager patrons, apparently echoing a similar pronouncement made by this ‘crier’ that has preceded Dolak’s appearance.
The dwarven smith accepts those tasks that he feels he can accomplish on the morrow. Others (‘Kin ya forge me a ‘ammer like ‘un that Battlehammer feller did fer that barbarian?’), he has to politely turn away.
While Dolak is being steadily overwhelmed by orders, Alani and the others relate the story of the marketplace battle to those who bombard them with questions. During the course of the discussion, one of the customers reveals that the four-legged creature is currently being kept on a tether at a farm just on the outskirts of town. Alani makes a note of the directions to the farm, intending to inform Darius so that the druid may go and study the beast while the others fight the crowds of Harvestday.
After a couple hours of drinking, order taking, and storytelling, the adventurers leave the tavern and return to Tomar’s campsite outside the town. They discover that the merchant camping ground is becoming quite crowded. There is sure to be a plethora of goods available for perusing as the market on the morrow!
Meanwhile, having found a small stretch of uncleared forest some three or four miles outside of town, Darius shapechanges into a wolf. Then, he and Soft Fang hunt for dinner and – after eating their fill – find a stream to drink from. Having eaten and drank, Darius (still in wolf shape) and Soft Fang locate a place to bed down for the night that is not too far from the campsite.
that same evening, the sounds of howls are heard in the caravan camping area.
From the distinctive tones, they appear to be produced by at least two
party members at Tomar’s campsite glance up in the evening sky and notice that
the moon if full this evening. They
exchange knowing glances with each other before returning to sleep.
* * * * *
Higharvestide; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
The dawn of Harvestfest finds some degree of humidity – the party’s constant companion since their departure from Berdusk – still in the air. The sun tries vainly to break through the thick cloud cover. That does not stop the temperature from being rather comfortable, however. In fact, it is quite warm for the first day of autumn; combined with the humidity, the heat causes even the slightest exertion to produce a light sweat.
With the coming of morning, Darius changes back to human and prays to Silvanus for guidance. Besides the spells he prays for, he asks what the creature was, and why and how it came to be here, in Asbravn. He then heads back to the camp, finds Alani, who quickly relays the information she discovered in the tavern the proceeding evening. The druid thanks her and heads out to the farm where the creature is supposedly being held.
Not even heat and relatively high humidity can stop the merchants and farmers from preparing their wares. Tomar and Ori move the wagon slightly closer to the edge of town to an area that has been designated for the overflow of stalls. Apparently, the normal marketplace is already too crowded with existing stalls and entertainers; those that arrived only recently – as did Tomar and his protectors – are directed by the Red Cloaks to set up their stalls in the overflow area.
Tomar and his gnome assistant do so, while Dolak finds a place nearby to park his cart and assemble his portable forge. Soon enough, both the bookseller and the smith are attracting customers. The voices of customers, assertions of merchants hawking their wares, and the music of several minstrels all blend together to create a pleasant backdrop to the festival atmosphere.
Admiring the stalls from a distance, it is obvious that fresh produce and other foodstuffs comprise the majority of the goods being sold. However, a few stray smiths and other specialized tradesmen – jewelry, clothing, etc – are also visible in the montage of booths and displays.
Having ensured that both of the service-providers are sufficiently resourced, the remaining party members – Alani, Cyzicus, Slyvia and Kryian – discuss their plans for the day. Kryian and Slyvia quickly announce that they are going to browse the innumerable merchant stalls. Slyvia intends to locate a fletcher in order to purchase some replacement arrows; Kryian, on the other hand, is ‘in the market’ for a well-tailored shirt and leggings to replace the set that were ruined in his escapades with the four-legged beast from the day before.
Then, it is time for Cyzicus and Alani to decide what they intend to do with the day. Alani announces that she intends to shop in the market for some replacement arrows for those that she has lost or broken. Cyzicus, on the other hand, plans to look into the possibility of upgrading his defenses by purchasing new armor.
Prior to the pair’s departure from
the camp, Dolak asks Alani, “Kin ya pick me up another tenday o’ hardtack or
whate’er passes fer iron rations in this town?
Because o’ that crier, I will be busy here ‘til long after the sun
has set. When ye git back, we can
discuss where the group is headin’. I’ve
been thinkin’ on a name.”
Alani readily agrees to the dwarf’s request. Then, she and Cyzicus head into the maze of market stalls and tents to conduct their planned shopping.
* * * *
Darius follows the directions he was given by Alani and has little difficulty finding the farm. As with the other farms in the area, it consists of a central farmhouse and a few outlying buildings. All of the construction is of sod and stone – apparently the results of a lifetime spent plowing the neighboring fields.
Approaching the farmhouse, Darius knocks and introduces himself to the farmer who answers the door. “I am here to lead it into the woods,” he announces. “I will cast a spell on it so that the creature will follow me.”
The farmer leads Darius to a nearby field. The beast is tethered by a rope to a lone shade tree that graces the field. It is currently laying peacefully in the shade. Tracks on the ground nearby indicate that is has already tested the limits of its tether – it looks to be about twenty feet or so in length.
Darius cautiously approaches the beast and proceeds to begin the incantations necessary to cast an enchantment of friendship on the creature. His first attempt – as well as his second – are foiled when the beast turns its head away from him during his casting.
His third attempt, however, proves to be successful. The beast remains motionless throughout Darius’ lengthy casting.
It takes the druid almost an hour to complete the exhausting ritual. When he has finished, the creature snorts softly and slowly gets to its feet. It takes the few steps necessary to close the distance between itself and Darius. Snorting softly again, it lowers its head slightly in a gesture of trust.
that such a large beast, with it's huge paws (Darius still partly thinks like a
wolf) would not fare well in the deep forest that he and Soft Fang prefer, he
decides to take the creature away from this area. Thinking back to the map, he
leads the beast by rope in the direction away from the town and out into the
plains beyond the farmland.
a mile or so away from the farm, Darius removes the rope and runs with the beast
and Soft Fang. He spends the entire
day – until just before dark – before he finally finds an area in which he
figures that the creature is away from civilized (e.g.: farm) lands.
pounding on its side in friendship and saying goodbye, he turns it loose to
wander off. Darius and Soft Fang
disappear behind some brushes where Darius changes to a wolf.
Next, in the dying rays of the late afternoon sun, he and Soft Fang head
back to Tomar’s camp.
* * * *
Dolak’s brow soon
forms a constant sweat as he struggles to keep pace with the constant orders and
requests that flood his small smithing stall.
The stout dwarven smith graciously accepts all the petitions that he can
possibly conduct with as polite a tone of voice as he is capable.
Then, using the noise of his hammer and his bellows, he utters low-voiced
strings of dwarven curses, vowing to find the culprit who so willingly announced
his (somewhat exaggerated) capabilities to an entire crowded tavern on the eve
of the town’s largest free market fair.
As the humid day drags on, the dwarf slowly accumulates a rather modest sum of monetary gains. One hour he is shoeing horseshoes for the fee of ten silver pieces. Then, he repairs a bent plowshare for a single silver coin. Later, he has smoothed burs from steel blades and even fixed the links on a damaged suit of chainmail belonging to one of the Red Cloak militia soldiers. When the sun finally begins to slip beyond the visible horizon, he figures he has earned almost three score silver coins for a rather substantial day’s work.
* * * * *
The two demihuman companions spend their day browsing through the stalls in both the central marketplace and the additional booths that have sprung up – literally overnight – in every road and alley of the small town and even outside its gates.
Alani has no problem locating a fletcher who, in turn, sells her five flight arrows for the price of single silver piece. After a lunch of fresh smoked meats and a hearty ale, she finds a provisioner who is able to sell her the tenday’s worth of fortified rations that Dolak requested.
Then, it is time for Cyzicus to do his shopping. After perusing several small travelling smithies and armorers, he finds three possibilities for a new set of armor. A set of halfling-sized leather armor is quickly discounted as he already has a similar suit. A well-constructed suit of platemail – sized more for a dwarf than a halfling but still fitting for his height – is deemed as too bulky and cumbersome. That leaves a set of brigandine armor – a coat of leather plates, each containing a thin strip of steel within – originally owned by an elven archer (or at least, that is what the merchant claims).
Cyzicus decides to purchase the brigandine armor and sells the merchant his used set of leather armor for a single gold piece. He and Alani then head to Dolak’s stall.
At Dolak’s stall, the halfling asks the dwarf to conduct the final adjustments to the armor. The dwarf readily accepts this last smithing request. He also thanks Alani for the rations and reimburses her for her cost.
When the dwarf has finished adjusting the armor for Cyzicus, the halfling warrior-priest dons his new armor and announces that it fits well. Then, the three companions head for town to pass evening at the Tankard and Sheaf or by strolling the market and sampling the “specialized” brews that several independent brewers have brought to town.
* * * * *
The two wounded mages spend most of the day relegated to bedrest within the infirmary of the House of the Suffering God. By midafternoon, the ministrations of the priests and the day of restful slumber has rejuvenated and fully healed the pair.
Lucas and Kjira next spend almost an hour in quite study. They refresh their magical capacities by use of their spellbooks – which have been brought to them, along with their packs – by a thoughtful Slyvia earlier in the day.
As early evening falls, both of the mages have recast their defensive spells affording them the protection of magical armor. Then, prepare themselves for a trip to the market to replace their lost equipment and clothing. Lacking any undamaged garments of their own, they leave the temple dressed in the borrowed gray robes of the church’s clergy.
The clothing causes more than one uncomfortable moment for the pair as they are forced, on two separate occasions, to politely explain that they are NOT, indeed, clergy members of Ilmater’s church. Thankfully, they have both found replacement clothing by the time evening has fallen on the town.
Lucas is able to find a fine set of red robes that are at least similar to the set destroyed by the fiery blast of the day before. Kjira can only raise her eyebrows in astonishment at the hefty price that the conjurer willfully doles out for, what he calls, truly quality tailorship.
The lady mage, on the other hand, settles for a rather non-descript set of replacement garments. A short while later, she procures a tenday of standard rations (cheese, bread, fresh fruit and the like) from a farmer’s booth. Her final purchase of the evening is a simple dagger in a plain, leather sheath. Kjira frowns as she regards the vast amounts of empty space in her purse – a place where her already meager monetary wealth was once stored and that is now devoid of all but a half dozen coins or so.
Struggling under the weight of her bulging pack, she and Lucas then return to the camp. At the campsite, Kjira transfers most of her rations from her backpack to her mule. That manages to lighten her load somewhat, but she is still quite encumbered by the sheer weight of the items in her pack.
Satisfied that they are ready to rejoin their comrades in celebrating the coming of autumn, the two mages head into the town to find their friends.
* * * * *
Six of the companions – Alani, Dolak, Kjira, Lucas, Cyzicus, and Slyvia – spend several hours relaxing in the comforts of the town and enjoying one last hearth-cooked meal before their journey resumes in the morn. Kyrian is spotted in the Tankard and Sheaf but is apparently too consumed by his pursuit of female companionship to spare anything but a nod of recognition in the companions’ direction. Darius is absent from the festivities; evidently, the druid prefers the fresh air of the outdoors to the crowded marketplace and taverns of a town in the midst of a gala celebration.
Eventually, the evening of drinking, eating, and entertainment draws to a close for the adventurers. Slowly, they make their way through the crowds and back to the campsite to get one last night’s rest.
At the campsite, they find two wolves – Soft Fang and the wolf-formed Darius – fast asleep under Tomar’s wagon. The merchant is also asleep, judging from the snores emanating from his wagon. Ori sits at the fire and counts out small stacks of coins – seemingly the profit from a day of bookdealing with Tomar. Kryian is nowhere to be found; perhaps the swaggering mariner finally found some companionship, after all.
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