Musings from Mithrilheart

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Old School
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Musings from Mithrilheart

Postby Old School » Wed Oct 11, 2006 1:27 am

The ornately crafted case lies silently upon the wooden desk, the ever-present glow of the intact rune seal ensuring its contents remain secure. I retrieve up my pipe, tapping it out gently, discarding the ash into the fireplace. Reaching into my vest I retrieve my tobacco pouch and load the last little bit of Brumbley’s Berry Blend. Striking a tinder-twig, I lit the pipe and allowed its gentle aroma to fill the room. The balanced blend of peach, nuts and honey offers a hint of sweetness and the faint aroma of a fine confection. It was indeed good to be back in the Inn. Sitting down in the plush chair next to the fire my gaze returns the case and my thoughts wanders back to my trip south from Mithril Hall and the companions I traveled with.

***

It had been some time since I last visited home and the splendid smell of roasting mushrooms stuffed with spiced vegetables delighted my senses. I stopped briefly to visit with my mother hoping to catch family home before heading out for some work. I found Mum in good spirits, but when she saw me she indicated I had something on the table. It was then I noticed the case resting atop a sealed letter, its signet clearly indicating who had written both. I picked up the letter, breaking the wax seal and quickly scanning the message. “Tis sad news indeed, messages the likes these are never easy to deliver,” I had mumbled. I knew all too well who was to receive this message and I did not welcome the task. Scooping up the case I kissed Mum and headed off towards the gates.

Passing a few merchants along my way, I tried to gather some information regarding employment in the hopes of better preparing for the meeting. Not able to gather information I arrived at the Black Anvil where I saw a familiar face and moved over to sit with her. It had been a while since I last saw the lass and it was good to see her again. Sitting with the Songbird was an outdoorsy-type and like the Songbird was half-elven. He was called Losalian and after exchanging pleasantries, stuffing down several pieces of roasted pork and some rum to wash it all down, the three of us headed off to the merchant trade center. A little bit later a fourth person, a mountain dwarf named Smirn, joined us.

We didn’t wait to long before a dwarf named Thurl Goldbiter entered and explained what was needed, the payment for the task and where we would meet the merchant caravan. Having asked a few questions and agreed upon payment, the group headed out the main gates and up towards Thunderhead to meet caravan master Bhym. The caravan master had the donkeys loaded and ready to head south. I thought to ask Lili how she was fairing but that would lead to other questions, none of which I cared to answer right now. The constant reminder of sad times pressed against my chest so I thought of better times and I looked about to gauge our capabilities.

Despite the strange behavior of the mountain dwarf, the Outdoorsmen choice to scout ahead and the dwarf released, of all things, his dog. Lili and I motioned to Bhym that it was time to depart. It wasn’t long before we started coming across animal carcasses and gnawed remains. The winter had been harsh, food was scarce and when these conditions combine, some animals would be brazen enough to attack a caravan. My first thought was that perhaps a yeti had come down from the mountains but when wolves came into view it was clear that their hunger over-powered their usual cautious behavior and they attacked. They fell easily enough and soon several other hungry packs met similar fates. In the midst of the conflict the mountain dwarf was revealed to be a Halfling, which explained much about his behavior and strange mannerisms. The rest of the trip south to the Luskan ferry was mostly uneventful and I kept out of sight except when the occasional pack of wolves came after the caravan. The wolves were suffering their success as a predator. Having bred too many, the lack of food and harsh winter weather had sealed their fate. There would not be many wolves come springtime.

I thought to speak with Lili again but with the minor problems of loading the donkeys onto the ferry my opportunity was missed and soon enough we were crossing the river. A short distance from the southern ferry dock we helped the Outdoorsman finish off an Orc raiding party before we continued the southern trek. As we entered a long stretch of the Neverwinter Woods we were attacked by yet another Orc raiding party. The Halfling and I made quick work of the shamans and captain while the other two kept the warriors busy. The Orcs were easily managed however; they did spook the pack animals which quickly scattered in all directions. Lili and I remained as the other two sought to quickly round up the animals but nothing seemed to calm them. I thought that perhaps a tasty treat might calm them down and I asked Lili if she had a few apples or some other treat we might be able to coax the donkeys with. Bhym indicated that he had exactly what we needed and though an apple a day wouldn’t do, a small, sticky ball of oats and molasses would. Lili and I manage to gather and lead all but three of the donkeys back to the group. As I searched for the missing pack animals I happened across the remains of one, its pack was missing. A closer inspection of the animal remains revealed small cuts, very precise attacks which resulted in a quick kill. I thought it odd how the Orcs would kill and leave fresh meat behind. Sure they had the supplies but why pass up a good meal? The Halfling managed to recover two of the supply bags, one of them physically shaken from his grasp by the Outdoorsman. It was also apparent that the Halfling was trying to renegotiate our previously agreed upon deal. By the Laughing Dwarf’s beard! To renege on a deal is as bad as breaking a vow to one’s family. What ever this Halfling was I doubt he could truly be trusted.

Lili had wandered of to search for the donkeys and had yet to rejoin the group so I set off to find her then return to the caravan. (I found her trying to coax another of the animals to follow. When it refused, she tethered it, and we returned to the group.) Upon our return, I found we had unexpected company. A paladin with three companions had gathered around the caravan with the intent to prevent us from further travel to the south. The Outdoorsman was speaking with the paladin when I arrived and after a brief moment I knew their intent.

I tried not to let my past experiences with paladins cloud my judgment however my strong hatred of the Orders combined with my lack of patience and tolerance for their general rigidness no doubt lead to the finality of the discussion. Every time I hear “Brotherhood” or “Shieldbrothers” I can’t help but think of an organization similar to the Arcane Brotherhood. The Outdoorsman continued his talking and was clearly making no progress. He was delicately skirting the actual issue, as does most of his kind, and was “trying not to offend”.

The paladin indicated to the party that he was not here to debate but that the cargo bound for the south will not be allowed to be delivered. Additionally that we were free to return with the cargo from whence we came, or that he would see to its return to the crafters. I thought to myself, “If that wasn’t an open-ended threat then I didn’t know what one was at all.”

The paladin further questioned why Dwarves would even sell our goods to necromancers and their ilk. The Outdoorsman again tried to delicately deflect his abrupt words all the while the paladin’s companions were casting various forms of magic meant to assist them. I am not educated in the arcane ways of magic however I have seen enough to know they were preparing for a confrontation.

I saw this paladin as a threat, a problem, but I needed to be certain. Seeing the Outdoorsman’s hesitancy, I chimed in with a few of my own questions. The resulting answers would lead to my next action.

I asked “Is this not an open road?” and “By what law do you stop us?” The paladin indicated that the road was open and the cargo may not progress any further. I surmised that we had two choices: Turn back and allow this brigand of a paladin to unjustly patrol and enforce “their” law upon the road, or allow the brigand to take our goods, freely or by force, and he would be kind enough to deliver them back to Mithril Hall for us. One option would involve violence and the other was nothing more than posturing with the intent to do us harm. Basically that meant the use of intimidation.

My choice, indeed the paladin’s last choice, was to separate the paladin from his soul and hope his companions would see the finality of this outcome and leave. In an instant I gave my answer. In a span of a few seconds I stepped out of his view while Lili asked the paladin who he was to dictate thus. Quickly sliding in behind the paladin, I buried my blade deep into the paladin's back. Surprised, blood flowed from his mouth and he slumped to the ground clutching at the wound before he died.

Looking at the others I offered them some comfort in the form of “Piss Off!” With Lili gaping and the Outdoorsman reeling in shock. I had hoped the party was bright enough to see where this meeting was inevitably leading and would be quick to respond should this escalate. The Outdoorsman’s answer told me all I need to know. Blinking in disbelief he spat “Damn it, Roqn.” I was quick to find out that as Lili stood in shock, the Outdoorsman merely walked away, leaving me questioning whether I was dealing with seasoned adventurers. I yelled to Lili several times before she even responded and even then it was a garbled assortment of mumblings. With the single blow that had laid the paladin at my feet, I had hoped the other three would think twice. However, no one ever said mages were bright and the cleric and mage quickly attacked. As the mage began to cast I dodged the cleric’s attack and tripped the mage sending him solidly to the ground temporarily stunning him. Several more times the mage found himself getting up when I, without the help of the party had to escape briefly to tend to my wounds. Forced to defend herself Lilira finally joined the battle and only then did the Outdoorsman decide to help. I didn’t see when the Halfling joined but in the ruckus I slid in behind the cleric. A moment later the cleric and mage lay dead and the bard was running for his life. The bard died tired and then there were none.

Posturing, the Outdoorsman openly glared however I countered with “they dare block free trade? He was a bandit.” Pleased with the outcome Bhym gave me a smile and bid me a “well done Lad.” We returned our attention to finding the last missing pack and after an attempt to extort additional money from Bhym the Halfling “miraculously” found the missing supplies. Down three donkeys, it was decided that three of us would have to carry some of the supplies as we continued our trek southwards. I looted the bodies and left the corpses for the crows. My hatred for their kind would prevent me from giving them a decent burial and I do regret that a kinsman had traveled with them and died in their “cause”.

The remainder of the trip was quiet, no one really talking with each other and I knew also that any attempt to talk with Lili would be wasted. It would have to wait for another time. We arrived at the northern gates of Waterdeep in the early morning hours and found the gates locked. It would be four hours at least before they would open but the Halfling responded “its okay... I know the gate keeper” and quickly opened the gates. After a brief pause at the gates, not all of us made it through; we arrived at the trade center with all the supplies delivered. The Halfling was told he need not apply for future work with Bhym and I chose to refuse payment. I offered my services again and should I be in the city I would welcome the trip.

I headed off to the Inn knowing that I must find time to speak with Lili before our paths go off in other direction again.

****

Taking a full inhale from the pipe I try to blow a smoke ring. Until I get that chance I will be content for a warm fire, a tankard of mead and fine tobacco to smoke.
Rho, Fen and a few other names not worth mentioning

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A coalescing of the ethereal substance causes your vision to blur...
When it at last clears Lerinala stands before you, looking extremely tired!
Lerinala has just realized she has no visible means of support!
Lerinala drops from sight.

You tell Lerinala 'Ummm, whoops?'

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