By Jaap-Peter Hazelhoff
Chapter 67 - Another Lead
Berdusk 1371 DR, Eleint, 11th day (Penultimate Thunder: Hoar), early afternoon
All of a sudden the warehouse becomes a hive of activity as the guards try to get everyone out. Not always easy, especially in the case of Immerine, who refuses to be man-handled like that on top of her concerns for Marc. After a heated argument with Captain Fairfax, the latter gives in, and two guards are instructed to create a make-shift litter on which Marc’s unconscious body can be transported.
Tempest’s lifeless body is reverently carried to the hearse by Portia and the other priest and the red-haired priestess accompanies the Death’s Hand and Tempest on his last journey to the Crystal Mansion.
Immerine and Emlyn stay with the still unconscious Marc and as Teryn and Telsom carry the litter, the group, accompanied by some new faces – on orders from the captain! – travels to the Running Stag inn. The interior of the inn with its trees, small waterfall and fresh forest smell, is a welcome chance of scenery for the wounded and weary group.
Marc is brought upstairs, a worried Elisa following on the heals of the litter bearers and the two priestesses to the sleeping quarters. The other’s stay in the inn’s common room, occupying the large table near the hearth. For Tarim the inn’s is sort of a double welcome reprieve, for not only is it nice and relaxing after the hectic events at the warehouse, it is also some reminiscent of ‘home’ that can forget the new impressions of ‘the city’ for a moment.
Despite the pleasant surroundings, the mood within the group is subdued, when Immerine, Emlyn , Telsom and Teryn return from upstairs, the innkeeper – Mumadar – has arranged for some hearty snacks and some drinks. When the first round of drinks is about finished – the round took a long time since no-one felt like drinking, yet the added moisture helped lighten the injuries somewhat – Portia enters, carrying a small chest filled with healing potions.
When everyone has enjoyed the support of the Crystal Mansion and no-one appears injured, save for some fading scars and itching reminders of where blows struck, some semblance of conversation returns to the table.
Where the others seemed less than eager to partake of the drinks offered by Mumadar, Telsom seemed most happy to have several goblets of wine. Sitting in a chair, with one leg crossed over the other, Telsom’s left hand rests on his knee, wile the other holds the goblet of wine before him. The paladin barely says a word, his attention resting primarily on the wine in his hand.
Immerine stays back from the main group, instead she sits on the side of the pool and watches the pure water bubble in from the spring. She listens and only responds when something piques her interest.
Skeen is grateful for the borrowed clothing and glad to return Nik’s clothing to him. She speaks to him and Ditalidas softly. “Nik, I’d like you and the Lady Ditalidas to keep the potions I found. I think one allows some sort of night vision. The other I’m not sure of. I am grateful that you heard me and more grateful that you got me out of there. I don’t think my future was to be very pleasant.”
“Lady, I am sorry to have mostly ignored you. I was desperate to find my clothing and my belongings.” Skeen shrugs. “Not that I have them now, but I have started from nothing before. And will so again.”
She smiles dryly, the mulled wine having soothed her throat. “Not that it’s worth much, but I owe you both. If you have need of my skills, they are yours.” Sitting on a chair a bit distant from the others, Skeen is still wary, especially of Telsom. She glances at him from time to time, as if making sure he is still in place. She feels an odd sympathy toward Nik, his scars could have easily been her own. Except that she had simply given in and she wasn’t permanently marked as a result. Well, only her neck and that was different.
‘Paladin’, She thinks to herself. ‘I’ve had dealings with them before.’ She shudders at the memory.
Sighing, Telsom looks up from his cup just in time to catch Skeen’s eye. “Yes?” He says, his voice already slightly slurred from the quick consumption of alcohol, his cheeks a rosy color and his eyes somewhat glazed over.
Skeen raises one eyebrow, then smirks. “Nothing,” Skeen says, eyeing Telsom carefully. “Telsom, right?” she asks, moving no closer to him.
“Aye, I have the fortune… some would say misfortune of being he.” He replies, before taking a long pull from his goblet draining the contents. Looking into empty goblet, a devastated look crosses the paladin’s face for a moment before he realizes he had been talking to someone. Looking up and seeing Skeen looking at him, he raises one eyebrow. “Yes?”
“Just curious,” Skeen shrugs. “Drinking your troubles away?” She asks, wondering what kinds of troubles someone so obviously born with a silver spoon in his mouth could have.
“Drinking my pleasures away.” Telsom says before placing the empty goblet on the table.
Skeen looks more curious at that statement. “How odd,” she replies. “Why would anyone want to do that? Wouldn’t that upset your goddess?”
Sipping on a glass of wine the barbarian rubs at his temple gently with his fingers and breathes deeply of the refreshing atmosphere of the inn. “So… at the risk of asking a foolish question… What were all you doing at that building being attacked by undead and magically transformed creatures?” The question is spoken in a conversational tone, not really directed at anyone in particular though his gaze does stray to the elven lady who watches the self-absorbed paladin so closely somewhat frequently.
Telsom’s words to Nik at the warehouse seem to have shattered the little confidence the tall bard had shown in Skeen’s defense. His sunken eyes fill with fear, and he walks huddled as far away from the paladin as he can on the hike back to the inn. When Skeen offers him and Ditalidas the potions, Nik wordlessly digs them from his beltpouch and gives them both to Ditalidas. He doesn’t even acknowledge Skeen’s thanks to him, only giving her a vague look full of terror and pain. Then Nik reclaims his precious guitar from Mumadar and slinks upstairs to change back into his normal clothes. Once Nik returns downstairs, his ragged mane of hair unbraided once again and falling down his back in a tangled mess, he sits slightly away from the others – although close to Skeen – and gulps down the remainder of whatever liquor had been in the bottle he had been drinking earlier.
The first bottle empty, Nik gets a second bottle and starts on it with the steady pace of the determined alcoholic. His fine guitar sits beside him, resting against his chair, and every so often he reaches down and strokes the leather-covered neck of the instrument absently, as if to re-assure himself that it is there.
Finally the alcohol works its numbing magic on Nik, and he no-longer casts furtive glances at Telsom like a gutter-dog awaiting the beating that is sure to come. The fear in his sunken eyes fades, washed away by the second bottle, leaving nothing but a faint echo of the bard’s old bitterness. Even the bard’s defensive huddle over the table relaxes into nothing more than a drunk’s inability to sit up straight. Nik gets unsteadily to his feet to get a third bottle, and finally notices the conversation between Skeen and Telsom.
The tall bard looms over Skeen, swaying slightly even though he is holding onto the back of her chair with both hands. Nik looks down at Skeen from his towering height, his glassy eyes now vaguely worried. “Be careful of him.” Nik tells her, with a faint nod of his head at Telsom, his words clear even if his eyes are slightly unfocused. “Don’t be taken in by his pretty face. He’s quite the rake.” It is the volume of his deep voice that gives away how drunk the gaunt man really is, obviously he meant his comment to be a whisper but it is loud enough to carry clearly to the rest of the table. He gives Skeen a fatherly look of concern, and pats her gently and somewhat awkwardly on the shoulder.
With a wary glance at Tarim, as he finally seems to realize the newcomer asked a question, Nik turns and starts his wobbly way over the bar to get another bottle.
Skeen bites her tongue and leans back and sips her wine. It seems there is to be a show and there was nothing quite like dinner and a show.
“It’s no wonder I’m drinking myself into oblivion tonight bard, your words and actions always do so much to liven up a room. Perhaps you could try exuding some cheerfulness and not so much…of…of…” Rubbing his temple, Telsom looks to Skeen nodding his head and shrugging his shoulders. “Oh he is right.” he says before turning back to the bard. “You are away from whatever past you have fled, bards and minstrels aren’t supposed to be so damn depressing man.” he says before smothering a small burp with his fist, looking surprised when he does so.
“Bloody bard gets in my face and I hadn’t even done anything…deserves to be knocked down a peg…” Telsom mutters, shaking his head as he stares now at his empty goblet. Smacking his lips together, Telsom calls after the departing bard. “Here Nik…sine yer up man, would you be so kind as to fetch me a bottle of whatever it is you are drinking?” As the bard departs, Telsom has trouble focusing, his eye beginning to blink, first his left and then his right, with more surprise showing on his face. “Alright then.” Telsom says as he straightens his shoulders holding his head high. “Is it warm in here?” he asks of no one in particular as he begins to remove his armor piece by piece, placing the pieces none too gently under the table.
Nik turns back around to face Telsom as the paladin speaks to him. Several expressions march across his gaunt face, first confusion, then fear, anguish, anger, and finally back to confusion again. For a moment the tall bard just stands there, swaying gently like a sapling in a breeze, obviously struggling to make his scattered thoughts follow a straight line.
Suddenly he gives up, shrugging his narrow shoulders in resignation and returning to his interrupted quest for more booze. He seems totally oblivious to Portia’s conversation with the newcomers, but Immerine’s abrupt departure brings him up short. Nik looks after the witch, the confusion deepening to almost comical proportions on his face. He starts to stagger after Immerine, one hand held out to her as if to stop her, but before he can grab Immerine he nearly runs into an empty chair. Leaning on the obstacle in his path to catch his balance, Nik watches blearily as Jez follows Immerine. Nik just stares after them, rubbing at his eyes as if seeing more clearly would help him think.
“What’s the matter with her?” Nik asks the world at large, then shakes his head slowly and continues his wobbly journey to the bar. Gazing down at Mumadar, brow furrowed in concentration, Nik finally remembers exactly why he came. “Another bottle of whiskey.” the bard says cheerfully. “I can still stand up, so I haven’t had enough yet.” His hazy eyes narrow, and he says “Oh, yeh. Telsom wants a bottle too.” Slow anger rises in his eyes and he adds sharply “But I’m not payin’ for his.”
Puddy sits invisibly near the waterfall, dangling his feet in the water. As Nik and Telsom begin their drinking spree, the pixie listens idly to the conversation of the rest of the party. In a fit of pique, as the tall bard goes to the bar to get another bottle for himself and Telsom, the little fey softly murmurs a quick enchantment, causing the alcohol to acquire a taste akin to overly fermented seaweed. He then flies into the largest tree to stretch out comfortably, ignoring for a time the rest of the conversation.
Having seen that everyone that needs it has had a healing drought or two, and having checked on Marc, Portia returns to the common room. The redhead quirks a brow when she sees the state that Nik and Telsom have both been reduced to, but she says nothing about it. After all, she can well understand how they feel. I young man that had so recently rescued her, a fellow priest, and a friend, had died that morning…
Regardless though, she keeps a lid on her own woes. Tempest has made the journey, she thinks, according to the Death’s Hand, and is safe in the Realm of the Dead.
Taking a seat at the table, she addresses the party at large. “Matteo hasn’t come back yet? I would have thought he’d return here. I’m sure if he returned to the warehouse, the guard would have let him know we’d left.”
Then, as if remembering herself, she addresses the newcomers. “I’m sorry I didn’t have a chance to meet you all at the warehouse. Tempest, the Kelemvorite that was killed this morning, was a friend of mine. Not close, but a true friend. I felt a strong need to accompany his remains back to the Crystal Mansion, which is the name of Kelemvor’s temple here in Berdusk. My name is Portia Coldspring, cleric of Kelemvor.” She nods in greeting to the three men and one woman that seem to have attached themselves to the group.
Even as she introduces herself, she is looking about with an absently curious expression on her face. Before anyone can introduce themselves in turn, she adds, “What was that little flying imp that was helping us in the warehouse?”
It wasn’t an imp,” replies the half-elf, “I think it was a fae creature, a pixie, sprite or something else I think. That and the flying lizard are the only two flying critters I saw at the warehouse.”
As he speaks, Alanna crawls down off his arm and onto the table before him. Like a stalking beast, she playfully circles the fruit basket on the table. Sizing the weakest of the morsels patiently, as if selecting the weakest of the species, Alanna waits patiently, her furry tail waving left to right, body still and poised to strike. Faster than the eye can link, she lungs with fury at the thickest of the grape vines in the basket at pulls it from its alcove. She proceeds to eat fresh “kill” while ignoring everything around her. She raises her dainty head at Jez and smiles as only a ferret could. “Silly creature,” smiles Jez back at his pet.
The silent, masked woman snaps her head toward the table when she hears Portia’s comment, “Imp? What imp?” The there is a soft hiss as she takes and releases a slow breath, “Never mind, such things in a place like this no longer surprise me. As for Matteo, he is a big boy and is probably entertaining Captain Zaina. As for us,” her gaze falls on Tarim, “There is no us.”
“Jez, if you wish to still speak to me alone, I will be in the stable,” Immerine stands and walks out of the room.
“Sure, I’ll be there in a minute,” says the half-elf. Sitting away from the bulk of the group, Jezbodiah rolls and stretches his sore shoulder, working the kinks and aggravation out of it. His cherished companion Alanna is on the table continuing to devour her vine of fresh grapes. Her teeth, chin and small paws are stained with fruit juice and nectar as she makes an unfathomable pig of herself. It’s obvious her great appetite belies her small belly.
Standing, he says, “if you’ll excuse me. I have something to discuss with Immerine, then I’ll introduce myself when I return.” Jezbodiah reaches for Alanna but she jumps off the table with a over-sized grape in her mouth. She scampers across the inn’s floor and towards the door. Shaking his head, Jezbodiah follows
Portia watches Immerine leave with a neutral expression on her face. Once the other woman has departed, she shrugs and says, “There are things happening here that aren’t clear-cut, obviously. Regardless, Immerine doesn’t speak for all of us.” She looks at the others curiously – both the new folk and the old.
Skeen idly wonders how much she could get for Telsom’s armor and how drunk he really is. Then she turns to Tarim. “Well, I only really have just met these people, mainly Nik, Lady Ditalidas, and Telsom here. I could tell you why I was there, but no one seems to be interested. I would much rather hear why the rest of these good people were there.”
Ditalidas having taken the potions while raising an eyebrow at Nik’s behavior, gives a smile for Skeen. “I’ll forgive and forget. Had you wait we might have had your things by now though. But now we have to wait for the city guard to return them to you.”
She turns to Ditalidas. “Could you perhaps enlighten us, Lady? You seem to have imbibed a slightly lesser quantity than your companions.” The last is said with an askance look at Telsom. “Paladin and stripper,” Skeen mutters under her breath. “He could make a fortune.”
Ditalidas nods towards Skeen, “I’m certainly interested in what you have to say and what you did in that warehouse. But first let me fill you in on some of the matters we already discovered. After that I will tell you what we were doing at the warehouse. During the story I will try to introduce the people at this table. When that is done you can decide if you trust us enough to tell us your…” She looks at Skeen, “…and your…” She looks at Tarim, “…story.”
Ditalidas pointedly ignores Telsom’s drinking behavior and looks irritated as Immerine is about to leave the room and again passes on another occasion where all available information could be shared. Her annoyance grows as Jez follows her out. But then she shrugs her irritation away and addresses the new people at the table and after that the whole group.
Even as Ditalidas starts her story, Immerine does not give her companions a second glance as she leaves the inn and makes her way to the stables. As she walks the past few days events swirl though her mind and she doesn’t even notice Jez and Alanna following her. As she approaches the stables there is a change in her stance and something seems wrong. She gropes for the door frame as her legs quiver beneath her weight.
At the same moment, a flatbed-wagon rolls into the inn’s courtyard, drawn by two sturdy draft horses and accompanied by several members of the Berduskan guard. On top of the bed are several chests, which the guard – under command of Leewan Sammart – start unloading.
“Malar’s crap,” utters Jez as he sees Immerine buckle under own weight. he rushes right behind her to catch her from falling. Alanna looks at Immerine and feels Jez’s response. The plump grape drops from her mouth.
Before Jez can touch her Immerine shakes off whatever is wrong and swirls on the young man, “Don’t ever touch me without my permission.” Her gaze is torn from Jez to the wagon and the uniform of the guards. “You will have to wait to tell me what it is you wanted Jez, the guard is here and I have a feeling it is for us.” The witch walks back to the inn.
Stumped, Jez shrugs his shoulders. “Ouch,” he whines, “still sore.” He scratches his head. “I guess I will have to wait a little longer,” he says to Immerine as she turns and re-enters the inn. He quickly follows her heels.
Alanna waits a moment however. The ferret looks at the Berduskan guards with curiosity as they unload the draft wagon. Looking in both directions, Alanna grabs the plump grape with her mouth once more and proceeds to carry it head high back into the inn.
As if he weren’t conspicuous enough, between his unusual hat and exotic familiar, Kevin is the only person of the group without an alcoholic beverage of any sort. Instead, he is drinking a mug of simple water. Kethron, the winged cat, is asleep in his lap, tired out from the frantic flight across the city.
Kevin’s posture is relaxed enough, but his eyes betray his mind’s activity. Little in the room escapes their notice. They study Skeen, the elf woman, and her interaction with the tipsy paladin. They note the strange way the bard is acting, and Kevin wonders if that is at all normal. And especially they stray to the door, where the masked woman had left. That glare she had given his friend Tarim had caught his attention, and she wondered what could possibly have triggered it.
“Let me begin with introducing myself. I am Ditalidas Jalarghar, daughter of Ashwin Jalarghar of the house Jalarghar. This story started for me when I was out riding a few days ago. Not too far from Berdusk I encountered a bunch of undead creatures. One of the undead wore clothes with my family’s crest on it and thus resembling my mother who died when I was but a child. Telsom here…” She makes a small hand movement towards to Telsom, “…together with Druth, saved my life that day. Druth has gone his own way and no longer joins this party in its quest.”
“When the three of us returned to Berdusk, after we defeated the main party of undead, fleeing from more coming from the woods, we encountered a small party of escaping villains. One of them seemed unpleasantly surprised to see me on the road there alive and well, and dropped, probably by accident, some sort of symbol depicting Velsharoon’s mark. When we talked to the city guard that was pursuing the villains, they told us they were under suspicion of murdering and kidnapping the dead body of someone killed in Memblar’s. For those who not know; that’s an Inn in the dock area.”
“We encountered the witnesses of that murder on the docks. They were having a meeting on one of the barges there. Portia…” Ditalidas nods towards the red-haired priestess. “…who is a priest of Kelemvor, was one of them. Matteo, who is not present right now, was also there. Marc we found a bit later listening in on us. Marc is the unconscious boy who is brought upstairs. We took off to this Inn, to discuss matters and it was here that Immerine joined our search for answers. The belongings of this murdered man, I believe his name was Tharkas or something like that, were left with the witnesses of his murder. Tharkas was to meet Matteo in order to aid him with an investigation. It had something to do with disrupted trade I believe, Matteo was – or is – involved in. In these belongings was a piece of paper with a partial ritual to create magical bracers. It seemed to have something to do with necromantic effects. I’m not sure of the exact words, but it also had something to do with the Velsharans. There was also a gemstone. I believe Portia took them both to the Crystal Mansion for her superiors to see.”
“Marc witnessed not the murder but the entrance and later the escape the four men made with the body. Marc told us that he recognized one of the villains as Lohgran and he had seen two of the others in the presence of Lohgran before. According to Marc these blokes, as he called them, were seen dressed up as ship-folk. The fourth man was dressed in a long hooded cloak and really startled Marc as I remember. Matteo suspected that Loghran had ties with the Zhentarim. He had received an unimaginative threat that lead him to this conclusion, though there might be someone wanting us to believe just this.”
“Next morning Telsom left on his own…” The paladin receives a short disapproving look from Ditalidas, “…and Portia didn’t show up that morning either. Later we found out she presumably was kidnapped by the Zhentarim. Maybe she can tell us something about that later.”
“We went back to the site where the undead creatures had attacked me. There was no sign of my family’s crest, nor anything else I recognized except for dead and decaying bodies. I did find two items that radiated magic: a cord and a ring. Nik could tell us that the cord is for holding a head cloth and radiates relatively weak evocation and that the ring has the dragon of Cormyr on it, the heraldry of royal House Obarskyr radiating evocation and divination of equal strength to the cord.”
“By now Telsom had rejoined us and Nik and Emlyn had joined our cause. Marc, Emlyn and Matteo searched the woods and found an old house. They destroyed the undead and burned the place to the ground. They found Tharkas’s body and, again, some clues that indicated that the Zhentarim are involved. They found writings on the wall witch we took to Twilight hall, the temple of Deneir for translation. Let me see if I still remember correctly.” Ditalidas thinks for a moment and then recites what sounds like a poem: “ harvest of souls, On the fields of yore. / Warriors and armored knights, A mighty army once more. / The undying legion will march, Their banners will flare. / The eternal kingdom will come, Let all tremble and despair.”
“In the house they also found a body of a Jannesar worrier. As I understand Janassar are a kind of warriors dedicated to the order of Ilmater, Torm and Tyr. As for why he was there I do not know. They also found several parchments. One renders a person invisible to undead, one causes light wounds, and the last enhances physical strength. On top of that they found three vials. Two were for healing light wounds and the other protects the drinker from magical scrying. We might consider that the enemy knows more then we like about us and the information we have. I have no clue what so ever what to do against scrying.”
“Lord Sillisten contacted Matteo with word of divinations he had received regarding Portia’s disappearance. His vision was of little more than tunnels and a swirling purple mist containing skulls, one of which wore a crown. So we are not really any further along in that regard for we knew that either the followers of Velsharoon or those of Cyric in Darkhold are involved. Even the tunnels in his vision may not have been the sewer tunnels of this city, though they were our first option to investigate. Matteo said that Lord Sillisten thought that they might also be the caves in the Reaching Wood, those below the Trielta Hills, or even the dungeons of Darkhold itself.”
“The Captain of the Guard suggested to him that we investigate the caves in the Reaching Wood, for the Zhentarim of Darkhold occasionally use the caves for a base of operations in this area. Zaina was having a map drawn up for Matteo showing the location of the caves.”
“Lord Sillisten was going to undertake an investigation of the undead bodies that assaulted Lady Jalarghar, for he thought he might be able to determine whether the rites of animation were performed by followers of Velsharoon or Cyric. I don’t know if we have an answer to that already.” She tosses Portia another questioning look, but doesn’t wait for an answer.
“But we didn’t search for dungeons and caves for Marc noticed a man enter the warehouse who used to hang around with Lohgran a lot, when we accidentally drove by. Since there had to be some connection between Portia’s kidnapping, the dead of Tharkas and me being attacked by those undead, we decided to check out the warehouse. That’s why we were there. We were hoping to find some additional information, something to solve this riddle. But instead we got send away before we could do any research at all. I now hope that any of you has anything to add that may shed new light on this case”
After her story is finished Ditalidas sips from her Berduskan Red and watches the others, waiting for their reactions.
Still seated, Telsom has completely removed his armor by the time Ditalidas has told her tale. Eyes half closed, the paladin sways from side to side while seated in his chair, his head moving as if to the rhythm of some slow song. The paladin purses his lips in a kiss like motion at Ditalidas before giving her a charming smile, a smile which still could break hearts despite his drunken behavior. Closing his eyes, the holy warrior continues swaying to the music, his hands reaching up to begin slowly unbuttoning his red silken shirt.
“Thank you,” Skeen replies simply. “My story is not nearly as involved. I was in Qheldin’s Mask and got captured. I’m really not sure why. I was referred to as a ‘nice gift to be handed over at the appropriate time’. And there was a man with a hood.” As she mentions the man an uncontrollable shiver runs through her, despite the warmth of the room. “He was worse than the guards. They just messed with my body. He wanted my soul, Erevan curse him.”
The barbarian mage listens closely to both ladies’ words, his only real reaction coming when the undead are mentioned. At which point he grips the wooden staff that he cradles in his hands, thumbing the intricate carvings. As they finish Tarim nods softly… “That is quite a bit for a few days, Lady. Thank you for explaining it so well. For my part I am just more or less a result of random happenstance inasmuch as my arrival on the scene goes. I and my mentor Kevin Janis here…” Tarim indicates the mage with the Tressym and hat, “…had arrived in Berdusk just recently and I saw the creature attacking two of your… group. I did what I could to help… I am not sure how Kevin arrived on the scene though…” Tarim pauses thoughtfully and turns to Kevin; “How DID you manage to get on that rooftop, Saer? I thought you were at the library?”
Portia listens through Ditalidas’ recital of events. As she recites the bit of ‘poetry’, the red haired priestess shifts uncomfortably, just as she had the last time she’d heard it. Interjecting after Tarim, she says, “I haven’t had any word from the Crystal Mansion on who animated the zombies you faced, Ditalidas, but I’m sure someone is looking into it. They’re not happy about losing Tempest to some filthy undead.”
She looks at Tarim and his friend and adds, “sorry for the interruption…”
Kevin makes a face at his friend’s question. “I’d made a wrong turn, ending up at the House of the High Hand. It wasn’t so bad; I’d been planning to stop there afterwards. I started talking with a priest of Azuth there, who introduced me to Teryn. Then a wizard came running up, saying something about a disturbance that Teryn was to look into.” Kevin makes a disapproving sound. “He didn’t check to make sure I was clear of the spell’s effect, and I got sent right along – minus Kethron and my staff.” He frowns again. “I’ll have to go back there again, if only to collect my staff. I’m sure they would have noticed who it belonged to.”
It is well in the afternoon as the door to the inn opens and Immerine enters, Lady Jalarghar has finished her story, and a conversation about the events of the day has started. She stalks over to the group, “The guard are here and they have a wagonload of items.”
She looks down at the newcomers and over to Nik and Telsom. Then she sees Kevin and looks down at what he is drinking, “You are the only sensible one here. Pity some of the others do not share your taste in refreshment.”
“Sense has nothing to do with it, madam,” Kevin tells her. He notes how close she comes to him, what others might see as an invasion of personal space. However, he’s too tired to care. “I simply can’t stand the taste of wine or ale,” he continues. Of course, he thinks to himself, there were some reasons why it was sensible. For one, as a healer once told him in his childhood, water could clean your body’s innards, washing out impurities. For another – and more relevant to the day’s heat, which Kevin is not used to – water was what a body needed to avoid heat stroke and dehydration. And anyway, the water provided by this inn was clean and fresh, like a mountain spring’s.
Her gaze slips down to his lap and she crouches on her haunches to get a better look at the cat. “Beautiful. I have never seen a more exquisite, tiny creature; so intelligent and independent … absolutely amazing. I also though I saw an owl in the warehouse and then of course Jez has a new ferret. I think he named her Alanna, she is quite lovely and has a personality all her own too. Friend is upstairs with Marc. Friend is Marc’s companion a very protective dog. And you’ve met Qwenta, well, partially. Qwenta is my boon companion and confidante.”
Kevin, listening to this woman’s words, begins to understand some of her attitudes. She saw animals as something to be admired, perhaps; creatures that were incapable of lying, cheating, or stealing. He smiles at her description of Kethron’s attributes. “Madam, if he were awake at this moment, he’d likely be counting you a friend. He’s got a weak spot for flattery. He wouldn’t even mind what your horse friend did, though he’d be forgetting to be irritated in a day or so, anyway.”
Immerine looks up as she stands and realizes she has probably just said more at one time than anyone at the table has heard come out of her mouth. With the exception of stories, tales of doom and insults to the barbaric culture outside of her homeland. The witch knows the name of each of the animals, but her eyes crinkle as she tries to remember the names of everyone gathered at the table. Finally she gives up, “I am Immerine.”
“My name is Kevin Janis,” the half-elf says to her, seeing that she has forgotten his name from when he’d introduced himself before, back at the warehouse.
“Skeen,” Skeen replies mildly. “I hope they found my possessions. It would be nice to have clothes that fit, as well as weapons to defend myself.” She took another sip of the warmed wine nowhere near drunk, despite what the teetotalers thought. Then again, looking over at the paladin again, she nearly laughs. He seems to be undoing his shirt.
Tarim had watched the masked woman exit and takes sharp notice when she returns. He sips gently on his wine, ignoring the comment about being “sensible” and smiles at her when her gaze comes around. His electric-blue eyes stop just short of staring in curiosity and interest.
Almost as if on cue when Immerine mentions an owl, one swoops down silently to land on Tarim’s shoulder. It is small and black with small gray spots on it’s underside and observes her with wide, dark eyes full of hidden depths. “Tarim Ravenmane and Ened’ome at your service, Immerine. It was Ened’ome you saw before… She looks out for me… The Lady of Mysteries has sent her to keep me out of trouble.” He says fondly while patting the tiny claw on his shoulder.
“Um, Telsom,” Skeen says, though she hates to try and stop him. After all, eye candy is eye candy. “Are you planning on getting undressed in front of everyone here or do you not know where you are?”
Portia pushes herself to her feet. She shakes her head in amusement at Telsom’s condition as she rises, but the look she gives Nik is concerned, and devoid of any humor. Curious to see what the Guard is willing to pass on to the group, the death priestess starts to head for the door, when it opens.
As predicted by the Rashemi witch, the door opens again and indeed several guardsmen enter, led by Leewan Sammart. Each pair of guardsmen carrying a heavy chest. Seeing everyone – well almost everyone seated at the table, Leewan gestures towards the group and the six chests are being carried towards the table. “Well met again.” Leewan greets the group, though looks disapproving to the two drunken members of the team. “The investigation is still on-going in the warehouse – I cannot disclose anything yet – but on request of Lieutenant Ashgale and Captain Zaina the ‘spoils’ of the battle against the enemy of Berdusk belong to you all.”
Seeing the priestess of Kelemvor sitting at the table, the watch wizard steps closer. “I’m sorry for your loss ma’am. Not sure how this fits in the picture, but we found a chest…” He points towards one of the six chests, “…with items belonging to a priest or priestess of you lord within the warehouse.”
Then switching his attention back to the entire group he continues, “The chests are safe – one of them was trapped, the soldier investigating it is being treated and will recover – you’ll find interesting items in there. Till swords part!” With the final greeting and a salute, he turns towards the exit.
“Oh…” He adds before stepping away, “…this chest…” He taps the smallest of the six, “…was meant to be shipped to Qheldin’s Mask. I don’t know if that means anything to you, just wanted to share that bit of info.” Inclining his head once more, he moves away and leaves the establishment, the guardsmen following him.
“Ahh, so you are the one Kevin was looking for at the warehouse. And the owl is yours,” There is a crease in her brow for a moment and then she looks closer at the tiny owl, “You mustn’t eat Jez’s ferret you know little one. It might make him more insufferable than he is and we don’t need that.” Immerine laughs lightly at what she considers a joke when the guardsmen enter. She ignores them at first but when the fifth chest is set to the floor her head snaps around causing the veil to puff upward with the sudden motion.
“I heard that,” cries Jez who is still outside waiting for the guards to finish there task. “Sharp elven ears ya know!”
Immerine’s eyes are riveted on the chest, “There is something in there… I’m not sure…” The witch steps closer to the chest almost in a daze. When she draws near it she crouches down and reaches a tentative hand toward the item then opens the chest.
Almost as fast as Immerine, Skeen moves towards the chests, opening the other five, flipping their lids open wide, until she arrives at one that apparently she is looking for. Smiling when she sees the contents of the chest, she says, “Those are my belongings.” Her voice sounding hoarsely, yet clearly glad to see them again. She hopes the group won’t dispute her for them as she lifts the items out of the chest and examines them for damage. “I’d like to change into my own clothes, if no one minds.”
With a somewhat bemused expression on her face, Portia looks at the chests. At Skeen’s words, she nods agreement. “Go ahead. I can understand your wish.”
Skeen takes her belongings, and disappears through the curtain to the room where Mumadar had guided her previously, and where she changed into the ill-fitting clothes she’s wearing now.
As Skeen leaves with her belongings, Portia kneels by one of the chests and pulls out the mail for a better look, though she really has no doubt. “These are mine. I’ll have most of it returned to the Mansion, but I am glad to have my gear back.” As she stands again, she mutters through a quick little prayer asking the Judge of the Damned for a small favor, and takes a look at the rest of the chests.
With a low whistle, Portia blinks as her spell reveals the magical gear in front of her. With a quick look at the others, she says, “There is a LOT of magic here.” She then proceeds to run down the list, moving from chest to chest. When she’s finished, she shakes her head and says, “I hope some of you have some way to identify these items. They’re use against the abominations that were hoarding them is a fitting irony; I’m sure the Lord of the Dead would agree!”
Kevin and Kethron – the latter having been woken by the commotion – stroll over to the chests, where Portia is separating magical from mundane. “Well, I have a minor divination spell I can prepare,” Kevin tells her as he too examines the items. “I didn’t do so today, of course, hardly expecting the events of the day to happen to me. I do have a spell that will identify the scrolls here, though, and any other magical writing.” He speaks to the room at large. “How many here can also cast identification spells? I count eleven scrolls and sixteen magi…”
He breaks off as Immerine snatches the ring. He stares after her as she walks away, then shakes his head in bemusement. “Make that fifteen items. Lady Immerine seems to recognize that one.”
Despite Portia’s presence Immerine does not back away. In fact, she looms closer to the fifth chest, her eyes fixated on the ring inside. The blood seems to be draining from her face as she looks down and fear creeps into her eyes. “No… not that…” Suddenly her hand darts inside and snatches the ring out and she retreats to the waterfall and pool to look at the item closer. She begins rocking back and forth and makes little noises like an animal in absolute anguish.
Tarim had been surprised at Immerine’s sudden change of focus to the chest, he sensed something amiss though and watched her closely as Portia cast her spell. Now, as she moves away and the sounds come to him he knows something is wrong. His heart can’t bear to see a lady in such distress and he crosses the room to her quickly, obviously worried for her. Kneeling beside her, he touches her lightly on the shoulder. “Immerine?” he asks softly, and watching her with eyes filled with compassion.
The young half-elf waits for the Berduskan guard to place the chests inside the inn, once finished and opened, he looks at the contents. “Ooooooooo, wands and scrolls,” he says as his brighten. “I’ve taken a quick interest in magic, that is ever since yesterday when I nearly drowned in the sewer. That’s when I discovered I could do this.”
He holds the flat of his palms downward and small arcs of blue lightning leap from one palm to the other, encircling his hands with damaging them. “The old crone at the Crystal mansion said it was in my blood. Something about not having to tap into the Weave for power.” He smiles in mirth. “I wait until the circus comes to town this summer.”
Alanna come in right on his heals. She dashes between his feet and proceeds to the fruit basket. She obviously found her treasures, as Jez looks at one of the chests and says, “Nice thieves’ picks.”
Still leaning on the bar, Nik watches the guardsmen arrive, the drunken cheer leaving his face to be replaced by wary apprehension. When the guards make no move towards him, instead delivering the chests, Nik heaves a deep sigh of relief. The tall bard weaves his way back to the table, a bottle dangling carelessly from each hand.
As the others inspect the contents of the chests, the tall bard sets one bottle roughly down in front of Telsom. “‘ere ya go.” Nik tells the paladin absently, his hazy eyes now fixed on the chests.
Setting his own full bottle down at his place at the table, Nik makes his staggering way over to loom over Portia as she reveals the magical items. Curiosity is working its way through his muddled mind, and he rubs at his eyes again in a distracted attempt at getting his vision clear.
Immerine’s distress draws his sodden attention, and he watches her silently, his head cocked in confusion. When Tarim goes over to offer assistance Nik blinks several times, obviously trying to remember who the fellow is and where he came from.
Kevin’s question about identification spells prods Nik into raising a hand absently, although his barely-focused gaze never leaves Immerine. “I c’n do it.” Nik mumbles, his deep voice now quite slurred. He rubs at his forehead with both hands, struggling now to fight his way out of the condition he worked so hard to achieve. “‘S a… whatchacallit… hobby… o’ mine. Magic an’ stuff…” his voice trails off as he finally seems to realize how upset the witch is. “‘Scuse’m.” he says faintly, as he starts to stagger over to Immerine. “Gotta try’n help ‘er… she’s good pers’n…”
Immerine’s anguished cries stop when Tarim touches the witch’s shoulder. A guttural cry in a strange language is ripped from the woman’s throat, “Murhatar!!!” Immerine turns to face Tarim and what he can see of her face is clenched in unbelievable anger. He can tell it takes incredible willpower for her not to unleash her rage on him. Immerine shoves Tarim backwards and runs from the inn as fast as her legs can take her.
As the bard is making his wobbly way over to Immerine and Tarim, the witch takes serious offence to the young man and rushes out of the inn. Shock sobers Nik up a bit, and he gives Tarim a single, accusing glare before whirling around and racing after Immerine.
Eyes opening as the bottle thuds down in front of him, Telsom gives Nik a warm and very wide smile, nodding his head and raising the bottle in salute to his companion. Eyes narrowing as he looks at the spout of the bottle, the paladin tips it back and takes a great drink from it. Setting, the bottle back on the table, Telsom’s tongue rolls out of his mouth, his eyes focusing on the bottle a look of pure disgust painted on his face. “It tastes like something old, and rotten left out in salt water for too long!” he exclaims, before unsteadily rising to his feet.
Veering through the patrons on wobbly legs, Telsom heads straight to the bar and plops the bottle down in front of Mumadar. “Beg your pardon Mumadar. But that is the worst vintage I have ever had the misfortune of drinking. Have you anything else that doesn’t taste like seaweed? I hope you didn’t pay much for that batch, it’s absolutely atrocious.” As Telsom waits for an answer, his eyes lose focus but then come back once more, as they do his smile widens.
Kevin looks around at the others in the room. It’s obvious he wants to help, but he doesn’t know what is needed – or if Immerine simply needs space.
“That didn’t sound to good.” The half-elf merely rolls his eyes at Tarim’s breach of conduct and Immerine’s barked outburst. “Of all the black luck and drunken sots,” he mutters under his breath. “Alanna…” he points to his ferret, “…stay here.” Looking at the others, he says, “Don’t take anything just yet. I’ll be right back.” He exits the door once more. “Doors and roofs are the only things I seem to do. Maybe I should try windows. Maybe I’ll introduce myself when I get back, maybe.”
Ditalidas looks at the commotion from a certain detached distance. Telsom’s look and smile capture her attention for a moment, but as she gathers her wits she returns that look with a disapproving one. As Tarim approaches Immerine and makes the movement to touch her, she half rises out of her seat to warn him, but she is already too late and drops back to watch how the poor man gets a taste of Immerine’s wrath.
Tarim goes over backwards hard at the shove and after a moment sits up looking quite shocked and dismayed. His face flushes with embarrassment and he quietly slinks back to his seat at the table. The little black owl circles back and situates herself on his shoulder again after the winging off she had done when Tarim had risen.
Portia opens her mouth to protest when the Rashemi woman snatches the ring from the chest. She restrains herself when she gets a good look at the shocked expression on Immerine’s face, and let’s the woman go. As Tarim and then Nik move towards her, Portia shakes her head, and moments later, sure enough, Immerine’s outraged cry comes from near the fountain to those still at the table.
Quietly watching the group interact, not yet sure of his place among the somewhat unlikely mix of personalities, Teryn has not spoken since reaching the tavern, instead opting to observe, apparently forgotten among the large party. His eyes followed Nik to the bar, Immerine and Jez out the back doors, the arrival of the chests, and now the hasty departure of Immerine, obviously upset.
“Ah…” the Kelemvorite says to the others about the chests, “…for those of you that don’t know, Immerine doesn’t really like to be, ah, touched. At all. Ever.” Her smile threatens to break through her serious demeanor for a moment. “I have no idea why, but I would keep that in mind for the future.”
“I certainly will,” Kevin murmurs. He strokes his confused familiar’s head. “Noted” Tarim says quietly, takes a sip of his wine and gently scratches under the feathers at the back of the little nightbird’s neck as he seemingly tries to shrink into his chair.
Speaking up for the first time since arriving at the Running Stag, he responds to Portia’s statement “I hope for her sake she makes an exception to clerics when she is injured. It could make for a short adventuring career if you won’t let someone tend your wounds.” he smiles.
Portia looks at the gear once more and then at the others. “While Nik has offered his assistance today, I’m willing to wait until tomorrow.” The irony in her voice is quite evident. “I’m thinking the best bet would be to see this stuff secured under lock and key for the night, and we can use our magical skills tomorrow to see what we’ve got. That will allow our mages to memorize the right spells, and allow Nik to sober up. I’m sure Mumadar, the master of the Running Stag, has a secure cellar we can rent for the evening. Then we can deal with this stuff first thing in the morning.”
Looking at the others about her, she says, “what do you all think? I’ll go talk to Mumadar.”
“That sounds like a good idea to me.” After pointing out her approval she stands up and walks to the chest with potions and adds Skeen’s potions to them. “I hope the person who will have need of them most, will get possession of these.” She tosses Portia a short smile.
“Ah, actually,” Kevin tells her before she leaves, “as I was attempting to say before Lady Immerine… ah, found her ring, I have a minor magic prepared to read magical writings. I can at least identify these scrolls tonight, and save myself – or whoever else – a spell tomorrow.”
Tarim sits for a minute or two staring at the table in silence, obviously thinking. Then slowly he rises, allowing Ened’ome to keep her balance on his shoulder. He takes up his staff and says “I’ll be back in a while…” before walking out the door slowly and thoughtfully.
Nodding as Kevin points out that he’s prepared to do something right away, she waves a hand toward the chests and says, “Of course. I have a bit of power left that I can put to that use too, now that you mention it. But please, be my guest.”
Portia steps out of the man’s way. “In the meantime though, I’ll see about getting someplace to stash the rest of this stuff.” Portia turns and heads for the bar, vectoring in on Mumadar when she spots him talking to a paladin under the influence of magic. Telsom’s shirt hanging partway out of his pants.
“By Talona’s meddling!” The scarred innkeeper says after sniffing the bottle, “This for sure isn’t the stuff for you saer. Taking the bottle from the bar, Mumadar places it on a shelf. Then reaching towards another, his back turned towards the paladin, he reaches for a new bottle, briefly passing his hands over it. Turning back towards Telsom he hands the paladin the full bottle. “Here you are saer, this one ought to better fit your needs.”
Nodding his thanks to Mumadar, Telsom grips the bottle by it’s neck and moves it by his nose several times taking in the scent before daring to raise it to his lips. Leaning his back against the bar, Telsom casually drapes one arm over a stool beside him while scanning the crowd his eyes alight with mischief a cheerful, and very un-sober smile on his face.
Moving back, the innkeeper takes the offending bottle from the shelf again and moves from behind the bar when he notices the red-haired priestess.
“Excuse me, Mumadar,” Portia says after the innkeeper finishes with the paladin. She is well aware that she’s hardly spoken to the man before, other than to order a drink, “but it looks like we’ll need a place to keep those chests for the night. Under lock and key, hopefully. I thought about one of our rooms, but what with the things that we’ve faced today, I don’t know how secure they’d be. Do you have a cellar or something that we might rent for the night?”
Looking back to where the others are still gathered, she adds, “I’m going to be headed back to the Crystal Mansion myself soon, but I’m hoping Lord Ashgale returns soon. He should be the one in charge of the key, I think, or Lady Ditalidas.”
The Kelemvorite looks at the innkeeper questioningly. “Is that at all possible?”
Solemnly nodding his head the dark-skinned innkeeper replies to Portia, “That can be arranged milady. Shall I hand the key to the young Lady Jalarghar then, since saer Ashgale hasn’t arrived at the establishment yet?”
“I’ll offer to help watch the goods, but not without at least two of your group. You don’t know me any better than I know any of you, so I don’t expect you to trust me with all this alone, nor would I want that responsibility right now.” He rubs absently at the shoulder that was wounded in the fight with the darkenbeast. As his fingers slip into and catch in the slash in the torn armor, he mutters quietly “Gotta get that fixed.”
“I think that would be best. My thanks. I didn’t want to just leave that stuff just lying around…” Returning to the others, Portia looks about, her eyes lingering a bit longer on the half-clad Telsom than might be… appropriate. “Well,” she says, “the chests have a home for the night, thanks to Mumadar. Ditalidas, Mumadar is going to entrust you with the key. I told him that it should be either you or Matteo, and since he isn’t here…” The priestess shrugs. “So,” she continues, looking at the group collectively, “what have you learned here?”
Kevin, having been given permission, gathers the scrolls and takes them over to the table. Making sure that no spills were in danger of harming the parchment, he lays them out in front of him, side by side. Reaching for the bandolier he had left on his seat, he removes a small crystal from one of the pockets. This he holds with his left hand, his right tracing a small pattern, and his mouth issuing a short phrase in the magical language of magic.
That done, he begins unrolling each scroll, one by one, and scanning the contents. As he finishes each one, he places them separately on the table, presumably intending to announce their contents after he is finished with them all. For the moment he ignores the question of the red-haired priestess and focuses his concentration on the collection of scrolls.
Having followed the party to investigate the chests, the little fey hovers in silence, watching as the items are examined, taking a keen interest in the ones pointed out as being magical. After the tall bard chases after the Rashemi witch, Puddy alights on the shoulder of Ditalidas and whispers, “If unfurl some scrolls in thy room you mighst, a few read I may. Taken by his demons tonight, poor Nik I fear.”
Kevin finishes reading the scrolls and looks to Ditalidas, who seems to be distracted somehow, like she was listening to something. However, the moment passes, and Kevin speaks.
“These are all arcane scrolls, my lady, most of which are not in my spellbook. One, in fact, is beyond my current abilities to cast, a flight spell.” He gathers the scrolls together again, and returns them to the chest which now holds the magical items. “We can decide in the morning who these go to, of course. One might be immediately useful, mind – the same minor identification spell I volunteered for tomorrow morning.”
Ditalidas is started for a moment when suddenly Puddy is whispering in her ear. Then she chuckles softly. “If you want to read the scrolls that’s alright with me. Though I believe Kevin over there has read them already. Maybe you could ask him what’s in them. But could you maybe assist in identifying the items tomorrow? That would be a great help.” For the others this must seem as if Ditalidas is whispering into nothingness. “As for Nik, it would be about time for him to shake of these demons and try to enjoy living. As I see it he’s been haunted by them already for too long.”
Kevin closes the lid securely, then walks over to Portia. “My lady, you seem to be in charge. You haven’t asked for my help, but I’d like to give it beyond what I’ve already promised. My curiosity has been piqued, and I wish to know exactly what is going on in this city. If you would like the aid of my spells, I place them at your disposal.”
Kevin glances thoughtfully at the door, where his companion had just left from a moment ago. “I’m sure that my friend Tarim would agree as well, but to be safe, such a question should wait until morning. He doesn’t seem to be thinking clearly at the moment.” He smirks at the memory.
Looking somewhat surprised at being referred to as the person in charge (not a roll she pictures herself in), Portia nods her thanks at Kevin’s offer anyway. “I’m sure your spells will be a great asset, my friend,” she says. “There are several things going on in this city; even more than we personally know about, and it’s obviously deadly. Any help we can get will be accepted…”
“I offer my swords as well, if all of your group deem me worthy” interjects Teryn.
“As for being in charge,” Portia says with a twinkle in her eye, looking at the others still at the table, “well, Lady Ditalidas is from Berdusk, and a daughter of one of the noble families at that. I’m simply a cleric that’s been tasked by the Church to give what aid I can. Before that, I was part of a church patrol out of Baldur’s Gate, hunting a Velsharoon priest that had been moving in this direction. The man that I am personally tasked with aiding though, and who has the charge of the City, is Matteo Ashgale. I would qualify him as the ‘leader’ more than anyone else.” She smiles and adds, “the others might have different opinions on the matter though…”.
“My apologies,” the half elf says, making a face at his mistake. “I haven’t been observing for too long, and your actions had an authority to them. Could you tell me where Goodman Ashgale is? I can make the same offer to him instead.”
“I’m not sure where mister Ashgale is at the moment. But I can assure you he will take your offer gladly. Everybody who wants to put time and effort in solving this mystery is welcome to join in. I hope he’ll return to us soon, but till then, please take my gratitude and let me accept your offer in stead.” The smile Ditalidas tosses Kevin, shows her gratitude, but in her eyes lingers a pain and sadness telling what her involvement in this matter is costing her.
With a brief smile, Portia says, “I wish I knew. My bet is he’s discussing what happened earlier at the warehouse with the Guard. He’s got some connections there.”
As the scrolls are tucked away, Portia waves at Mumadar. “I think we’re ready to get these tucked away for the night, Mumadar!” she calls. For the next few minutes, Portia aids in moving the chests into the storeroom – gratefully accepting any offers from the others to help her and the two men Mumadar sent over. Finally, she walks over to Lady Ditalidas and hands her the key for the storeroom. “Here you are Lady.”
Ditalidas accepts the key and puts it away in her pouch. “Thank you Portia. I hope you’ll meet us here again in the morning. If you have need of me before that and I’m not here you probably can reach me at the Jalarghar residence.” she pauses shortly for a friendly smile. “Take care of yourself. Don’t get lost on us again.”
Turning away, Portia takes the chest holding her previous gear, makes sure it’s secured, and drags it to the door. “Mumadar! Would you summon a small cart to take me up to the Crystal Mansion? The last time I tried to make the trip, I got kidnapped.”
“Be safe.” The young lady Jalarghar says as she in turn takes leave of Portia. “We need you in the morning to make further plans.”
Within a short time, she takes her leave of the others. “I’ll be back in the morning, people. Please let Matteo know where I am. I’ve got to see to some more details about Tempest’s death, and I have my prayers. See you all in the morning!”
As Portia exits the inn, from behind the curtain a familiar figure appears. Skeen returns after she puts on her own clothes. Though they are well worn, she feels much more comfortable in them. She takes a seat near a wall, her back to the wall.
Next to where the elven woman sits down, Emlyn is absorbed in thought as her eyes take in the activities around the chests. Seemingly absentmindedly she picks up some food to nibble on and a cup of wine to wash it down. The small woman’s expression seems troubled by the recent revelations as well as the items displayed.
At the bar Telsom’s eyes still roam the establishment, a slight flickering of amusement glinting in their liquid depths. Deep in thought for several minutes, Telsom turns to the barkeep. “I’m unused to this city, and more specifically this establishment. My time in Waterdeep was well spent and I learned a great deal, especially in the Temple of Sune. Would you be opposed to some entertainment for the ladies?” The last word is nearly cut off by a hiccup, which the paladin quickly stifles with a drink from the bottle in his hand.
“A Sunite… hmm…” The bald-headed barkeep muses as he cleans his hands on a rag. “Saer, I think the type of entertainment is better suited for the Ruby Shawl at the other side of the castle.” Looking the paladin up and down for a moment, he finishes, “Yes, the ladies there would definitely appreciate the company.”
“Was that simply a polite way to say no, or was it genuine concern for my getting the best crowd possible?” Telsom says with a smile to the man. “If it is a no then I shall leave it at that, but if it is not… well I can promise not to break anything.”
A hearty laugh issues forth from between the man’s shining teeth. The whiteness contrasting with the darkness of his skin. “All right a main of plain words. I like that. So the answer is No. I you can pledge to forgo your entertainment for tonight, I’ll swap that bottle of yours for some better stuff.”
Telsom nods at the man’s words and then places the bottle back on the counter. “I’ll be back later then.” he says in a slurred voice. “To the Ruby Shawl!” he calls out to no one in particular as he staggers towards the door. Smacking his lips together, he pats himself down scowling as he notices his grand father’s sword is not in his possession. “Hmph.” he mutters loudly as he continues on his way.
Skeen stands up and slips out behind the paladin, wondering if he truly knows what he’s getting into.
Ditalidas notices Telsom leave and looks momentarily worried. The worried look disappears when she sees Skeen following him and tosses the woman a short approving nod.
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