post A Turning of the Seasons (half-related thread)
pre Wrong Bait, Dead fish, and Some Old Boots (mostly unrelated thread)
- Krelg's place was over-run by paladins, rangers, and like-
minded folk, but no trolls or drow, and only a few bottles of wine
were hurt in the process.
- Crimson, Laegir and Rummel chose not to join a mercenary army.
The room stunk with spilt ale and, well, ale - only in a later form. Trolls, humans in bright armor, and their mounts sat scattered across the tables, yet in this particular tavern, it didn't detract a bit from the d"cor. Krelg Blackshield, the proprietor, sat on a splittered stool next to the bar, from which he harangued this odd group of respondants to his call for mercenaries.
"What's the big idea, Krelg?" shouted the half-elf as he strode straight up to Blackshield. "You send us like lambs, and we got slaughtered" Crimson's dead, dunno where Rum is." The half-elf was dressed as a moderately-successful mercenary, a sword at his side, and a bandolier of daggers across his chest.
"It ain't my fault if you can't deal with a few enemies. If it was easy, I could have anyone do it," Krelg responded with a sneer.
"'You promised 'easy' if I remember right. Didn't say anything about defenders."
The half-elf neglected to mention that he, along with Crimson and Rummel (the aliases of two friends of he who now went by the name of Laegir) had been the defenders, albeit after the fact, who had killed every one of those working for Krelg's mysterious employer. The half-elf was the only one who could bear playing the role yet again.
"If that was too hard for you...."
Damn, the mercenary thought. I didn't expect him to go that way. As he was thinking of a response, Krelg turned to the others in the room.
"So, I got a littel job to do. Maybe two. You boys all together, or what"'"
This brought a variety of responses from the room, but mostly loathing and posturing between the paladins, necromancers, and trolls in the room.
"Well, sort yourselves out," Krelg shrugged, returning to his drink, "I'm of no mind to send folks out who'll fight each other rather than keep their minds on the job. I see a lot of would-be heroes too. You folks are usually kinda squeamish, ain't ya?"
"I don't know any of you, but I guess I need new partners," the half-elf said warily, "and you'd be surprised."
It was then that a ranger sitting in the corner, shrouded in a dark cloak, called out "Did you need aid with something Krelg or are we going to sit here and chat?"
"I need something. There's an item I've heard about. A ... competitor of mine is sending some folks after it. I want some folks to go get it first," Blackshield got back to topic. " Just competitors. Rivals, you might say," he added evasively.
"With only about a battalion of soldiers at their backs, eh?" the mercenary asked, pushing his luck further.
"I've got a ... friend that lets me know what he's up to," Krelg continued, ignoring his heckler. "It seems to be the property of the folks there in Minthka. Never know it, would you?"
The mercenary stretched, trying to crack crack his neck. Half-way through the motion, he stared at an empty corner of the room, at a paladin dressed in quiet clothing, revealed to the mercenary's magically enhanced sight; and raised his eyebrows. The paladin nodded, and rushed as best he could to the door to find his armor and horse in order to - frankly - again betray the man who had just informed them of his target. Several others filed out.
"So, only a few fellas interested" Or are you all waiting for next year?"
The mercenary and those remaining tried for several hours to get the location of this second task from the wide-known go-between, with no success.
Finally, the mercenary rose to his feet, and shrugged. "Well, staying here ain't getting paid." and walked out.
A short distance from the road that led to Viperstongue outpost, behind the shelter of a particularly large tree, the mercenary slumped, and started to shiver, hugging himself for warmth until he had purged every bit of Laegir from him. Half an hour later, feeling a bit better, and confident no-one had noticed him during this time, Lorsalian moved to his knees, and bowed his head.
"'Forgive me for once again portraying that fiend ... please. It is necessary to save a village from joining its brother." I was too late to save Priapurl, but it I can, I will not be to Minthka. Hopefully I can wring the second location from Krelg when I return. No time to plan for that though, he added as he heard the joking of the other mercenaries who had left earlier as they finally got around to heading out. He wove a cloak of concealment around himself between steps as he slipped past them to hurry north.
He gazed around at the streets, hip-deep in orc corpses. I would think that fate moved against me, but I wasn't one of those who didn't get to safety in time, Lor thought glumly. The first to reach the leader of Minthka had been the paladin dispatched on horseback those hours earlier, but soon after was a druid, who the fear-stricken leader immediately attacked, falling to the druid's clumsy attempts to defend himself without hurting him.
Soon after, Krelg's competitor arrived, and Lor hadn't been far off. At least a dozen orcs, led by a blackguard atop a black stallion, assaulted the village before all could be moved into a defensible building. He had been defeated eventually, but Minthka did not have only orcs to bury.
Then, seemingly on cue, Lord Piergeiron had arrived. Too slow and late, as usual, the ranger would reflect later. From the little the open lord of Waterdeep was willing to tell them, the village leader of Minthka had known the location of an ancient and powerful staff coveted by druids of less-than-neutral aims. Apparently, the appearance of a druid had unhinged the man, and he attacked.
The appearance of Lord Piergeiron had put an end to any plan to return to Krelg again " the absence of the lord from his city's streets wouldn't be missed, even by Krelg. Another lead dead, the half-elf mourned, along with another village.