Caer Conig

Tharngrym Stonecleaver:

After leaving the city of Ironholme behind, you journeyed with a human caravan bound for Caer Conig. These men were agents of the craftsmen of their town, shrewd in business dealings and most spoke good Dwarven and were literate in it written form also. Their escort are hired human mercenaries who seem to be unafraid of the wilderness or what may come at night. Many of them piss away their wages in bouts of craps and purchasing strong liquor from passing merchants on the roadside. It takes approximately 3.5 days of this slow pace to reach the town of Caer Conig. This train consists of 4 large wagons, six pack horses, two dogs, 12 mercs, 4 human traders, 1 human teamster, and 1 human cook.  The next day is blissful, you enjoy the beauty of the thinning landscape as you come down from the majestic Gate Mountains and see nothing but lush green pastures, emerald hills, deep valleys and far south the enormity of the Black Forest Kingdom, where the Elves dwell.

the view
The view

 

At night, one of the mercs is overcome with sickness and his buddies summon you to his tent excitedly. He’s sweating and gasping heavily, and some of his friends were idly commenting that he had slept with a few whores back in Ironholme at the Screaming Banshee bordello there, most of the girls by which are slaves from the eastern kingdom of Jez’zur. “Save my life dwarf, and I’ll give you my month’s wages and a bottle of aged Elvish wine” he said to you pleadingly, fear in his eyes.

REACTION

 

34 comments
graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

 Exator: “Hmmmm, the plot thickens!” he said excitedly at first. Then he seemed to dwell on your words and then paused before speaking: “Well, I’ll tell you this much. Randal Thorn came crashing into Caer Conig just three months ago. Seemed to charm the pants off of everyone, promised to bring new business and create new jobs, he sounded like he was full of horseshit to anybody with half a wit. All I can tell you is that Baxtor hated him with a passion, and now the mayor just seems to do nothing anymore. His goons have been nothing more than over paid thugs as well, and they especially prey on demi-folk. Yet now they lay on their laurels, some drinking and whoring worse than gluttonous kings, hardly doing what they’re getting paid to do. Baxtor lies holed up in his house like a useless lazy sonofabitch.


As I said to you already, I’m a nobody. My brother in law can tell you more, if you can get to him. He’s in prison, I’m fairly confident you can use your imagination to wrangle what you seek to learn out of him. He used to be Randal’s main enforcer and wouldn’t mind getting even for taking the fall for some of Randal’s dirtywork. I'm almost positive he knows some dark things, but getting it out of him will be tricky. You'll have to break him out of prison I'd wager. Question is if you have to stones to do it.”

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

The embassy is enclosed by a high gated outer wall, 10 ft in height, and the courtyard is an impressive garden full of many statues depicting various Dwarven God's and heroes of ancient times: Galtross Lionhelm, Heltar Shieldsmasher, Belaron the Ender. You enter into a large impressive sized manor, bearing the trappings of the imperium's prestige. At the main lobby several dwarven elite imperial guards greet you in an officious manner. Guard #1, a dwarf with black beard and gray eyes says "Greetings, cleric. Welcome! Ambassador Mogrim is off premises, partaking in the spring solstice festivities. It is good to see a servant of the all father here in this remote place" the interior of the house is equally as meticulously detailed and aesthetically constructed, bearing many statues and painted portraits, fine tapestries, and other aspects of dwarven power represented in full view. One of the guards subordinates interrupts him, and the guard gives him a sour look then snatches an offered piece of paper from him, reading it "Hmmm, a shipment of Dwarven spirits for the festival hasn't arrived yet. Strange, it should have been here yestereve at the latest! This is foul news. Delag, send an attache up the north road and see if you can find anything. Report back immediately if you come across anything suspicious and report it to the gate commander Talon"

"Sir yes sir!" the one named Delag responded, then quickly dispersed with a group of 10 dwarves. The black bearded dwarf then led you into a waiting room nearby, and called for food and drink from a human female to be brought. She comes back quickly with platters of dates, bread, bowls of venison stew, a bowl with a creamy pink liquid (Giant Squid stew), and cheeses as well as rich chilled frothy ale. The black bearded dwarf introduces himself as Thir. He says "Well then, the ambassador will be pleased that the Empire sent him the healer he requested some months ago, even if you are but an acolyte there's much work for one of faith in these parts" Thir smiled as he gnawed on an entire wheel of cheese.

REACTION



 

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

You open up the scroll which contains a parchment with dwarven runes wrote on it. The letter reads:

Tharngrym,

I pray this letter finds you well, and the journey was swift.

Three months past, one of our walls turret's was missing a heavy ballista, one of a new prototype recently crafted by our elite engineers. At first, we suspected the application of magic in its theft, but detected none. We've been looking high and low for it since, with no tangible leads.

Then, our spies report that mayor Baxtor suddenly has one now. And with it, he's the audacity to charge our merchant barges an exorbitant toll for use of the Snake river. As further indignation he waives all elves this exact toll for their merchant craft in exchange for rights to the timber of the black wood.

I charge you with the task of sabotaging this billista, even if it isn't the one we suspect. With a modicum of guile and wit, you ought to be able to accomplish this for the imperium. The Emperor would enjoy learning if it is his new toy that the mayor possesses.

-Gamriz Silverbeard, Archpriest of Moradin

 


graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

 map key:

1. the scriptorium: temple of Lor, God of Light, Knowledge, and Secrets.

2. orcsbane citadel

3. The royal concubine: Inn & tavern

4. Dwarven Embassy

5. Temple of Wrath, God of Swords

6. arcane's arcanus magic shoppe

7. Catlord's claw Inn

there are a few more key locations you'll have to discover later on.

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

The mercs obeyed your commands to the letter, and the sickly swordsman drank the bitter herb concoction eagerly, ‘for fucks sake this tastes fouler than orcshit!’ he cried out, then passed out. The other mercs gave disconcerted looks, but said nothing not sure what to think, ‘you made it worse, dwarf!’ merc #1 said accusingly. merc #2: ‘bet he poisoned the poor sod!’ he croaked stupidly. Then the sickly merc disrupted the conversation ‘for fucks sake get the fuck out you dumbshits! The dwarf medicine’s already making me feel better ya bloody bastards. Go check on the merchants, we’re not being paid coppers by the hour here!’ as one the mercenaries sauntered off dejected, one patted you on the shoulder and another apologized profusely for doubting you, ‘our thanks, master dwarf. No rancor for the words, we was just looking out for our mate’ and another said ‘glad the merchants had the wit to bring along a healer this time’.

The following morn, there was a bit of a delay as the merchants stopped to repair a loose wagon wheel and fix the worn shoes on one of the horses. It began raining heavily, slowing the already slowed progression and for two hours of trudging along the mud splattered highway the rain finally ceased. One of the merchants brought you some breakfast of smoked bacon, toast, beans, coffee and stale bread. The mercenary you aided came up to you, looking tired and worn but now functional than last night ‘My thanks, Tharngrym. Ack serves me right frequenting one of the cheaper whorehouses. Name’s Randal, Randal Bladebearer. Just a simple swordsman really, seen my share of battles before and these merchants are desperate to make the way to your beloved Ironholme. Was trying to get me men a bit less greener than an orc if you catch my drift, most of em might piss their pants if they even saw so much as a kobold. This way used to be froth with all sorts of baddies! Black orcs, worgs, goblin clans til your emperor got the elves to clear it up. Now you can scarcely hear a wolf fart or a goblin horn pierce the peaceful air here”. As he removed his helm, he appeared as a man of rugged average looks, many scars, and a permanent grin on his face, with shoulder length mane of dirt blonde hair.

The rest of the way is relaxed, the train cuts through a great deal of farmsteads, olive orchards, and wineries before the town walls can be seen in the distance. Caer Conig is far warmer and less technological than the ancient Dwarven capital. “Not the most impressive town, I’ll admit but you’ll find it full of good cheer and poetry my friend” Randal said, chuckling, “Yer just in time for the Spring Moon festival my friend” he added.

From your conversation with Randal you gain some valuable information about Caer Conig:

The town of Caer Conig, Northern Nyr.

population: 980, 2% non-humans
current season: mid-spring (April)
weather: rainy season

general alignment of this town: neutral good

This town is highly popular for its noteworthy festivals, dances, and good ole fashioned charm. It is also highly favored by her majesty the queen, so its well watched and protected, insulated against any hostile forces beyond its borders. Its people are strong willed and tenacious, yet more worldly and exposed to the ways of the world.

As with any small town, everyone knows everyone's business and gossip does spread over the slightest nuances, not at all slanderous or damaging. Unlike other towns of similar size and humility, however Caer Conig is far from naive and sheltered in its view. That persistent charisma comes from centuries of hard work, no nonsense practicality, and productive industry. It creates well loved toys, butter, milk, chocolate, port, and aged whiskey for countless generations. Add to that portfolio are arrows and yew bows, and its pride and joy which are large seafaring craft.

Aside from the usual bunch of yokels who all work in tandem to progress and for the unified betterment of Caer Conig, there are some who don't mesh well. Some debt collectors, some loan sharks, a quaint house of ill repute. Vestiges of bigger city living even reaches this remote corner of the realm.

local geography

Caer Conig is in northwestern Nyr, nestled along the ancient snake river and surrounded by deep river vales, plains, rice fields, wheat fields, and pockets of forested land. The river winds westward and eventually hits the royal capital city of Corealus, approximately two days away. The nearest military fortress of Shieldhaven lies 1.5 days east, guarding the border into the elven realm of the black forest kingdom.

noteworthy individuals

Mayor Baxtor: ambitious, bald, and power hungry. His goons are a bit racist toward non humans. There's a few elves and dwarves that reside in town who are customarily treated like offal.

Dagger: an adventurer from the city of Lor. Keeps to himself, quiet and dangerous looking. Sometimes disappears for weeks and returns, rents a room at the Holy Blanket Inn. Something of an 'information broker'.

Thorn: a dwarf blacksmith of town, most loved demihuman in town because he's always fixing people's 'issues'. Most can't afford his wares, and they know why because its the best quality for the coin.

Oltan: this spice merchant hails from the Tyrn Empire, and he's many bodyguards with him at all times.

Randal says to you: "Go get a room at the Catlord's claw inn. The owner's my aunt, Beatrice, she's a priestess of the catlord and a widow so be kind to her. Tell her Randal sent ya, heh heh. She's a bit eccentric but her inn is cleaner than an elf's arse, and she has the best collection of ale's and whiskey you can hope to try, none of the watered down piss they serve up in the other fancier establishments. The mayor's a bit of a prick, and the town guard are small minded country bumpkins, might not be used to dealing with a dwarf without being cross. Just keep your wits about ya and you'll be grand"

The merchants and their hired protectors saunter off to take care of their business in town, and the merchant in charge gives you ten gold pieces for helping Randal out.

What do you do?













 



graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

@TharngrymStonecleaver The whore thought for a moment then nodded affirmatively. Her directions get you lost, and you came into a dark alleyway full of low lives, knife-men, bums, and beggars. A man with crazed eyes rushes up to you, a black charred rat on a long wooden stick saying excitedly ‘Rats on a stick?! Care for a rat on a stick?! Only a copper! Come on dwarf, don’t be such a wanker!”

Just as you bypass some loitering degenerates, a four wheel coach wagon drawn by two sturdy horses is heading for you at full speed. You have no time to react, and its about to flatten you like a pancake when, out of nowhere somebody pushes you to the side out of harms way. You turn to see a woman with a mane of dark brown hair, cobalt colored eyes and clad in charcoal gray robes.
You catch a glimpse of the teamster driver, an unusually large ogre of a man. You couldn’t make out many details, but see a bunch of dogs inside of the coach.


 “My appologies, dwarf. I saw that fool nearly would have ran over you and decided to do something before something unfortunate transpired” the woman said with a smile, then walked away.


As you came upon the Waylaid Wench, you heard music, rucous laughter, and smelled ale & smoke heavy in the air. A buxom barwench hoistered a platter full of roasted boar, and another a platter filled with the meat of a Giant Lobster, twice as large as a mans head. The patronage were comprised of some merchants, off duty town guardsmen, farmers, craftsmen and you oberved 25-30 in the main commonroom alone.

From table #2, you overhear the following:

‘There’s rumor going round that some fools the queen’s hired has been doing some secret work on kingdom business. Real bad arse bunch of would be heroes, even got a drow and a fat arsed elf in their crew. There’s a sizable bounty on their heads, but nobodies been capable of collecting it yet.”

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Tick said "I can get him out, with the black powder. The imperium pays me in it, it's jarringly utilitarian in application, heh heh" he said casually.

Exator: "Proof can be found later, dwarf. Now you need to protect me or I'm dead meat. Randal won't try anything stupid against you outright, he'll use intermediaries. We need to get Dagger out quickly, he's one of the few in this town who can wield a proper blade with a speck of skill" he turned toward Tick, 'what deviltry is black powder?'


Tick: "A guild secret, I'm afraid I'd have to slit your throat before I could rightfully tell you" he turned towards you then, saying "you'd best get some rest,we'll go in a few hours. First, however we need to have a spell of silence cast upon an item like a coin, dagger, or rock to absorb the exploding sounds. I'll go get it, there's a cleric of Lor who owes me a lifetime's worth of favors. You two will be my lookout. I pray you know which cell your brother is in"

After a short waiting period, Tick comes back after an hour with a silence 15 radius cast on a dagger and a continual light cast upon it as well. He also brought some food: bowls of beef barley soup cooked with a dark ale broth, full of celery and carrots. Loaves of fresh bread, a well cooked rainbow trout, and some roast mutton, finishing with tall leather flagons of a nutty dark ale foamy at the top. 


RESPONSE

 

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Thir snorted, "A wee bit demanding for a mere acolyte, mind yourself. But I can assure you Morgrim won't be free for another week, perhaps two. The queen of Nyr has called for a summit in the city-state of Lor, and the Emperor demanded Morgrim speak on behalf of the Imperium. There are graver matters throughout the realm, matters which affect all throughout the inner kingdoms. However, whatever it is you need to say you can say to me, I'm Morgrim's right hand after all, and his adopted son to boot."

SEARCH: It takes you an hour and a half of detective work to comb through the town, but find no actual billista only largish mounted double crossbows along the walls, each capable of firing two bolts at the same time. Yet while looking about in some area where the festivities are in full swing and you spot a billista overlooking the Snake river. There are ten guards drinking heavily close by, a prostitute looking bored observing their game of craps, yet one guard stands close to the billista with a crossbow slung over his shoulder, a mace and a long dirk dangling from his belt. He's clad in chainmail, which is financial extravagance for a town guardsman (you note the other guards wear shoddy looking leather armor). The lone sober guardsman is accompanied by a fierce looking dog, a shepard by the looks of it. 

You overhear guardsman #1 say: "I heard there's going to be a hanging tomorrow at the gallows. It's been quite awhile since we had a proper hanging"

Guardsman #2: "Ack, good! Any idea who's the unlucky bastards?"

Guardsman #3: "Heard its a female half-elf, a dwarf, and a half-man"

Guardsman#1: "What're they getting the noose for? Must be serious"

Guardsman #4: "Sedition most likely"

Guardsman #5: "Baxtor is insane to be hanging a dwarf, specially since this town's practically running on dwarven industry. Sedition? What a shoddy verdict. If I were to get hanged I'd want some more noble reason behind it. Murder, rape, but sedition is for perfumed dandies I say!"

Guardsman #6: "This might show these little cunts who really runs things round here! Tired of the bearded folk thinking they're better than us! Better at mining, at forging, at fighting orcs and ogres. Meanwhile we're patrolling their highways and borders like imperial lickspittles while they're holed up in their safe little cities"

 



 



graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Thir nodded, 'Praise the all father he guided you away from that trap' then he finished the remnants of his meal of cheese, bacon, bread, beer, and mutton. 'Take the next river barge over to Wrymwatch, I've a strong instinct you're getting farther to discovering truth of what happened to this prototype. It's vital we ensure it never falls into the wrong hands and can be used against our own forces in a military battle. Try to enlist the aid of others along the way, steer them towards success in your mission. You can offer them imperial coin as a motivation if diplomacy fails you. And get that dratted Tick to assist you. He's been robbing me blind with his allowances and sizable gambling debts for years now"

When you returned to Tick's room, Dagger and Tick were preparing themselves. Outside, Dag looked on nervously 'The entire town's out looking for me. Guess one of them guards finally noticed there was a huge hole in my cell wall"

Tick: "Let them, they'll be looking along the outskirts of town, thinking you're out on the run. I know the mayor, he's sent his lazy thugs two miles down each highway to probe the grass with their swords and spears. They'll take a break every ten minutes to shit and piss or to drink more rotgut."

(continued in the next post)

 

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Thir says "Treat him as you would any lowly heretic for his transgressions against the Imperium, as is right. Yet, if he is not so far gone and corrupted, discover what you can about his role. Offer him a pardon for his crimes if he provides details about his conspirators. I myself will sign this pardon. If he refuses you've the Empire's blessing to enact whatever punishment you deign fitting"

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Thir suddenly stirred from his tipsy state, wiping ale from his beard, ‘That the Lord Duke’s man would delegate such an important task! Moradin’s blessed anvil, that is quite an honor. You must've made a wee bit of an impression’ he said in genuine astonishment. ‘See, it was this duke who brought me to wanting to reside here in Nyr, away from the Imperium. He’s not like other men, full of greed and corruption. One of the few with blood of the old kings of yore who fought in the cleansing wars against the Goblin King Grithbyulomag. Well now, I would suggest doing as the man asked. The snake river runs through the docks at Wrymwatch, if this suspicious merchant went that way someone ought to know. I’ll have my allies here do some digging for anything that may help you out. If I gain any insights I will send you word immediately. 


We have a recent troubling report about one of our mines of late in Ironholme. It seems that some mithril and adamantium ore deposits have been tainted, poisoned if you would. This sabotage was found to be the handiwork of a Duergar assassin, though why is not readily known. Countermeasures have been placed and the taint has been eradicated, some of our maligned wares were sold and as such, we lost some face and trust in the marketplaces. See what you can discover about any plotters who would profit by such a thing. I've a gut feeling this Duergar was only a blunt instrument for the mischief'



graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Thir nodded, 'Of course!', and he summoned a serving wench to bring some honeyed mead. Thir gestured to the two other dwarves, 'Ogni and Biltar, my aides' he said, a bit inebriated, smiling. 'This is Tharngrym, young disciple of the all father. He's come on imperium business, so extend all courtesies unto him while he's in town on this very auspicious quest'


The two dwarves greeted you in Dwarven.


Thir: "Has the halfling been of useful service? He costs as much as his belly can handle, which is bigger than a half starved ogre." this drew chuckles from Ogni and Biltar. Thir silenced them with a scowl, then said 'I've some news which should prove useful in your search. A week ago, some merchants passed through here on their way to Hetonk, a town northwest of here. They parked outside the town walls and the caravan guards were strangely mindful nobody drew close to their heavily laden wagons, all which were covered up. Before the merchant could provide his manifest to the gate captain, the train had quickly vanished. The captain's curiosity was piqued so he dispatched a scout to track the trail, and it seemed the merchant took a river barge down the snake river. Barge's capable of transporting such heavy cargo are rare, so this river pilot and his barge must have been waiting patiently.

Not sure if if this is of any relevance, thought it might be"

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Dag nodded, ‘very well, my new friend. Let’s not tarry for longer than required though, less somebody learns of my escape and the whole town is out looking for me.”

Tick: “Brilliant, let’s head back to the Wench. I wouldn’t worry too much bout getting caught, Dag. The sluggard lackey’s of Baxtor’s are a bunch o’ dumbshits and drunkards. They're only useful to catching cats, not criminals.”

Back in the Inn, the commonroom was overrun with excess reveler’s, mostly visiting family members from nearby villages and hamlets. You saw Thir drinking and eating with two of his aides at table #4.

From table #2, where a swordsman sat playing craps with a dark haired woman clad in gray robes “Dungeon of the damned? Sounds exhillirating. You need some good muscle for such a venture, and coin up front. None of these two bit merc’s who’d piss their pants if they so much saw a Kobld, much less any o’ the black orcs of the Bone Gnashers”

The bartender grunts a nod of greeting toward Tick, and you noticed several men who appeared to be thieves or outlaws gave the halfling a respectful wide berth. When you got back into the room, he disarms two traps near the door and one by the window.

Exator: “Much security for a simple room”

Tick: “I’m an arms dealer, there’s always my competitor’s sending their thugs to try and convince me to leave town’

After eating and drinking a bit of beer, Tick said ‘you ought to go and find the bathing room fore you go about your affairs. There’s two lovely ladies who do lots of backscrubbing. Just a thought, aren’t you clerics supposed to be clean?” he asked with a chiding chuckle.

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Garosh nodded, 'Don't call me sir, I'm no knight my friend, just a simple servant. Take a care, cleric. You're not in Ironholme anymore" with that he got up and left.

Tick: "Oddly placed for a man like that to be out here, in this remote border town, just to get his hands on some map to a place he doesn't know the location of. I'm starved my dwarven friend, all this has given me an appetite."

Dagger: "Well, what now?"

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Garosh stroked his chin thoughtfully, "I think I would be able of some slight service in your hunt for this weapon you seek. I will tell you this much, it's not in this town. Whoever is involved in its theft may have passed through here, but slim chances of it being here at all, unless the thieves are plain stupid. The common folk here depend on Dwarven patronage, they wouldn't abide any sort of affront towards the Imperium. No matter, mere speculation on my part. I bid you good fortune, Dwarf. May Lady Luck spread her legs for thee" he added with a lopsided grin.

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

The fighter thought for a moment, then said "He venerates that demonlord, but is just another sad disciple not personally communing with it. His ranking is not terribly high I'd wager. One of my spies mortally wounded this cleric with a dagger, and the worse spell this agent incurred was a hold person. He escaped of course, and that was two months ago. It's not so much his divine might that makes him dangerous, its his treacherous nature. He's able to organize, manipulate, and corrupt the innocent until he shapes them into servants to do his evil work. Be forewarned, one of this organization's favorite tactics is to employ others against their will, holding their loved ones hostage until they do what they are commanded to do, even if it runs contrary to their conscious. 

Yes, all I need of you is to locate this base, not to engage the enemy especially in his own domain. I hear he has a fondness for sacrificing women, children, and the elderly, maybe this disturbing revelation will point you towards finding the Architect's front door. 

If you are of need of aid, get yourself to Fort Wrymwatch and tell the commander you are a ally of Garosh Graycloak and acting as an agent of House Succundus. He will extend all courtesies. I would seek him first, he may have patrol reports that can help you narrow your search into a manageable grid. If you decide to confront the cleric, I will surely double your compensation"

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

The fighter said “This map is alledgedly the base of a mysterious, elusive man I’ve been hunting after at the behest of the Lord Duke of northern Nyr. It could be a credible lead, or just another decoy left to lead me astray. Either way, find this nest and if you do, that in and of itself is all the work required. The man I spoke of is a cleric of Demogorgon, and a member of a rising evil cult throughout Nyr. They swell their ranks each day, growing more emboldened. They refer to this one as ‘The Architect’. There are many others with similar fanciful titles, ‘The master’, or ‘The corruptor’, so on and so forth. Just last week we beseiged one of their castles in the Direwood forest.

My master’s house spies suspect The Architect’s base of operations lies somewhere in close proximity to Hothmort, just two miles west of fort Wrymwatch a day west of Caer Conig. It may prove frustrating, that region is nothing but farmsteads and vineyards. If you happen upon it, head to the fort straight away. Talk to the garrison commander there, he will dispatch a raven to me with any report. Do not talk to anyone BUT the commander himself. There are spies everywhere that cover for the cultists. If you prove successful, you will have earned the thanks of House Succundus and the Lord Duke himself”

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

The hooded fighter examines the map, and tucked it into his belt, 'Hmmm, you opened this, the seal is broken. For that, I forfeit your retainer" he said to Exator. Exator shrugged, 'my apologies, but this dwarf here opened it against my expressed urgency not to do just that.' 

The fighter turned his azure eyes towards you for a moment as if noticing you for the first, 'He did, did he. What business does a Dwarven priest have with meddling in the affairs of my liege? Are you some sort of spy? I could have you four hanged for this, if I'd the taste for such harshness." He glanced at you curiously for a moment, then said 'yet I suspect yer not a bloody fool, despite your foolish act. This may have been performed out of simple blunder, but there is a price to pay, and you must pay it to eliminate the incurred debt. Espionage isn't a crime my liege takes kindly to, especially since his business is statecraft and the handling of sensitive information.

That said, I would sequester your help with an errand I've not the wherewithal of undertaking at this moment. In recompense, you would be substantially compensated depending on how satisfactory your exertions. What do you say, master Dwarf?"

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Exator nodded, ‘Very well dwarf, but remain silent during the meet, I implore of you. There’s no telling how the receiver will react, sometimes these things go south in a heartbeat. My service is supposed to be discreet and professional. My bacon is on the line here.’

Everyone rested, and Dag made a small trap to jingle a few bells if the door handle twisted. In the morning, you ate meat, cheese, and bread Dag had sent up. Apparently one of the serving wenches was also his girlfriend.

Exator leads you to the Pelnor fields, across a bridge that spans the wide snake river, one of the largest rivers in the northlands. The sun burns brightly in the sky and the air is peaceful. You note a few river pilots boring passengers along their gondola’s down stream, having launched from the docks in town. The field is dotted with ancient tree stumps that were cut down, once elvish tree’s stood here but were destroyed at the hands of men. An encircling ring of menhirs surrounds the field. A cloaked and hooded man resting on a boulder announced himself as he hurled a pebble that struck Exator in the ear.

When the four of you drew closer, the man said ‘You’re five minutes late, but I’ll forgive this nearly unforgivable lapse’ he removed his hood. Revealed was a chiseled faced human with a permanent smirk engraved on his face, and cunning blue eyes. He wore a longsword and dagger at his belt, the brand was embedded with precious jewels. He had dirt blonde mane of hair reaching his shoulders. His cloak clasp bore the heraldic insignia of a Pheonix clutching a quiver of Javelins in its talons, and in its beak was a snake.

“I do believe one of you have something for me?” the man said expectantly. “Well, let’s have it then” he removed a dagger and was slicing an apple, chomping on it intently. 'Takes four to deliver a simple item? Must be important, eh?"

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Dag: "No, I've been rotting in the jailhouse for two months and some weeks, remember?"

Exator: "I told you, I was to deliver it to someone tomorrow mid-day, in the Pelnar fields across the snake river. I was given twenty gold pieces just to do this delivery. If you really want to know more about it, I would get one of the book priests, they know everything"

graphalfkor
graphalfkor moderator

Dagger nearly laughed, but checked himself. "He's not much of a fighter, however he has his uses. He goes with us, I'll keep watch over his safety. With the mayor under some sort of enchantment, it's too dangerous for him to tarry in town. Baxtor's goons catch him and make him talk, they'll know what we're up to and that would add another notch in your plan"


Exator: "Mmmm, the dwarf may be right, Dag. I'm not cut out for all of this line of work. I'm an artiste, not an adventurer. It's been exhilarating all of this sneaking around and using my talents, but I'm through with Randal's dubious coin. One way or another that asshole would get me into some sort of bad way, that's how the devil repays his helpers"


Tick: "So be it, you can hole up in here if you want. They wouldn't come looking for you in the Wench. But if you wish to hide and protect yourself, go to the embassy and tell them 'Dirthmulk', its a code word that you're a friendly and they will let you dwell within for an entire month, no questions asked"


Dagger: "Go check on Celeste, make sure she's good. Tell her I'll be back soon and not to fret too much with worry."


Tick briefly looked at your map, shrugged and handed it back 'Who knows? This could be anywhere within a mile or a hundred o' here, hell might be in another realm entirely. Exator you were to deliver this to someone not in Randal's circle, correct? There's no saying for certain"



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Dagger: "Aye, but I wouldn't be too bothered by any o' them. The dwarf was a gray dwarf, a patrol found him in a strawberry patch east of town. Not an expert but I'm pretty damned certain gray dwarves aren't from your neck o' the woods. Aren't they like the hated ones? Those drew, err drow or whatever. The half-she elf is a renegade, and a cheat at gambling. She was caught red handed robbing a currency exchange. The halfling was her look-out and mark finder. Even Baxtor knows he can't even fart in the direction of a mountain or hill dwarf without incurring Imperial wrath, but you already knew that" he chuckled at his lighthearted sarcastic wit.

 Tick: "I wouldn't worry too much bout this hanging, friend Tharngrym. We need to find your Emperor's toy. If what I've heard be true, I'm suspecting its not in Orcsbane tower after all. I've a feeling it's in that cave you mentioned Dag. It sounds like a great place to lay low, and if somebody has the stones and stupidity enough to steal the bloody weapon, they know they can't rest comfortably until it's disappeared from memory. If I'm wrong so be it, we can head back and thats that. There's really not danger on the highways throughout the kingdom, they're well patrolled."

Dagger: Ahnkheg burrow beneath some farms time to time, it's not entirely without its dangers, halfling"

 Tick: "I'm not worried bout big bugs, 'human'. I've slain my fare share. You think the Empire illicits my expertise because I'm useless? Heh heh. I can kill you just as effortlessly as I broke you out of prison, but you're hardly worth the effort. Not to brag, but if I had to I could kill all three of you at the same time without any trouble, but killing isn't something I particularly enjoy. I only enjoy killing orcs, goblins, and other scum" he patted you on the shoulder 'and I'd never kill a dwarf that didn't force my hand" he added reassuringly, 'and no dwarf has, ever'

Exator: "This is somewhat exciting, I'm eager to see where all of this takes us to. Though I'm with you dwarf Tharngrym, I don't know who they are either. Why don't we try to find that out, together?"



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 Tick: "What halfling worth his salt would begin the fun without a properly stuffed belly? Heh heh, sides, you can thank me wit a wee bit o' a bonus later at some point, cleric. And I don't want to be paid in dwarven beer, either, as much as I love dwarf-beer don't get me wrong. Hmmm, I'm curious why the Imperium would send an acolyte of the All Father to investigate a theft, rather than simply assigning it to me? No offense, not that you're unqualified for such detail work. It's just, peculiar. Not exactly the kind of task suited to priests."


Later, Tick guided you to a field just outside of the jailhouse. There was a single lone guardsman patrolling the rooftop. Tick took aim and a tiny bracer mounted crossbow sprang open, and he fitted a tiny dart into it. With amazing accuracy he shot the guard in the left buttock. He pried it out then collapsed. “He’ll be out for a few hours” Tick snickered.

Exator ran to the jailhouse and was whispering into a cell window. He indiciated it was the one, and Tick turned to you asking ‘I need your counsel on the amount of the black powder to use. Last time, I used too much, and too little will be a waste of it” as he showed you the pouch of powder you helped him measure a precise amount to use, and guaging the thickness of the wall with some probing hammer strikes (wis: succeeded) the powder is placed and a trail leading to it as well. Tick whispered ‘Get back from the wall my friend, unless you want to be destroyed” he placed the dagger with the silence spell into the ground, which was emitting some faint white continual light.

Tick lit the trail and 5 beats of a heart later, KABOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!! you saw but did not hear a blast that brought the jailhouse wall down. Out came a dust blanketed tallish man with dark brown hair and amber eyes, feline physique and smart eyes. The four of you quickly fled and was back at the Wench, where Dagger climbed through the window from outside.

“Thanks for getting me out” Dagger said to Exator. Exator nodded, ‘I can’t take credit for it, it was this dwarf that effected the escape” and the man peered at you perplexed, ‘Huh? Do I know you dwarf? Well, whatever reasons a long beard has to bust me out, you’ve my thanks. I owe ya one. They was going to put me to the gallows in the morn!” he inhaled the leftovers of food on the table like a starved rat.

After some brief explanations and such, Dagger said: “I aint no murderer or raper either. I’m too far good looking to need to get a piece of arse like that. Hell I’ve fucked every willing village girl and merchants daughter throughout many towns, even the ugly ones, charity you know? Heh. Randal asked me to be his right hand man when he fell in with the wrong bunch. A cult, calling themselves the Dark Moon Sons whatever the hell that even means. They pay excellent coin, no doubt. Enough for any man to not ask any questions. I for one like to know what I’m earning coin for, and I do the askance of why I’m doing it I’m afraid. He asked that I round up a bunch of women and children, and some old farts too and bring them somewhere. Somewhere far and in the middle of nowhere. Mostly orphans, whores, and the addled of the elderly nobody would particularly miss. I took Randal straight to the mayor, but the mayor was sullen eyed and just stood there like a mindless puppet, and he obeyed everything Randal told him like a damned idiot. Baxtor might be a bit of a cunt, but he’s hated Randal since the scum came to town.

While I’ve been rotting on the inside I had an old pal follow Randal and keep track of all the places he frequents. He has a few hideouts, ‘safehouses’ he calls em. He also keeps company with some strange men. I fought one, they fight skillfully, almost flawlessly except its a bit too...rigid, thats the word, like they haven’t any sort of emotions or warmth, no sense of theatricality. Anyways, when I thought I had a complete map of all the places he regularly visits, there was one he only went to once, and never again. It was near a farmstead, west of here. My friend thought it strange, and was going to return but continued to see if anything stood out. He went all that way and wanted to see purely out of profesionalism. He found a cave mouth that lead into a deeper cloister of lesser grottos there, and two Gnolls standing alongside two of those fighters I spoke to you about. “

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Your patience pays off as the heavy drinker guardsmen pass out. The prostitute seizes advantage of this and lifts a few coins from the table and places them in her bra. The crossbowman however is one of the few who takes his job far too seriously. Several reveler's seeking a place to congregate are immediately shooed away as they near the billista.

The whore, a blonde haired buxom lass with a rubenesque body and ample cleavage approaches you with a crooked smile, 'ah whadda we here? Never did the nasty bit with one of your kind fore, care for a romp? You look like you can stand a bit of a shag, handsome" she smiled sheepishly toward you.

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(from earlier, this was what Thir said before concluding the meeting) 

Thir tweaked his beard as he digested the details of the assigned task. He paused a moment then said "Tread carefully, young acolyte. This undertaking has darker undertones to it. Theft of an imperial military secret carries significant political weight. Baxtor might be a bit of a dwarf for a human, but he's not that reckless to brandish one out in plain view. If he is the stealer of this prototype, he'll have had copies constructed to mask his crime. So even if you end up actually sabotaging the weapon, it might be a lesser shoddy construct of the original design"
 
He sighed for a moment and drained his flagon "You'll require resources. For now remain in town, stay at an Inn for a few days and do a wee bit of investigating. A stout halfling named Tick rents a room at the dodgy side of town, at the Waylaid Wench I believe. We call on his services for matters of delicacy and discretion, seek him out if you need some fresh eyes and additional aid into your task. May Moradin guide you" 

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Exator nodded, “Aye, I see your point dwarf however I can end your suspicions about me right now. Go down into the common room, ask the bartender Briggis if he knows who I am. I’ve been tossed out of the Wench several times for questionable renditions of playing King Rodac the III during the undead wars. Tough crowd, and not all can appreciate deeper wit and artistry. Artless folk, all a bunch of piss poor drunkards! I told you I get paid to lie, I’m good at it, but I’m not lying now there’s no coin in it. What do I stand to gain? Now I have to leave town if I get discovered by Randal that I’ve talked to you, otherwise I'll disappear like a fart in the wind”

When you grab the second scrolltube and open it, Exator said 'That's to be delivered to someone, almost forgot that I even had it. Doesn't have anything to do with Randal. If I were you I'd burn it, don't think you want to get tangled up with these folks"


The second scrolltube contains a map: 

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Exator: “I borrowed all of this from my sister’s husband, he’s rotting in prison for rape and murder. She practically threw all of his possessions out the door and I took them for myself. How do I know if this is quality or trash? I told you I’m an actor, you bearded buffoon. Look I’m sorry I got beer spilt all over your fanciful garb, but I think you’re taking this far too seriously. The town guard would easily lock you up for a full week with nothing to eat but shit and piss for this." Then he leaned in closer and said “Listen, I can tell you this much and I’m up to my neck in troll turd by telling you even this much, but I know that Randal sends people he wants to silence to the Cat’s Claw for some reason, and tells them to say ‘Tell them Randal sent you’. When they go, these individuals never come back or are heard from again. I only tell you because a previous drinking buddy of mine, who botched his first job for Randal was last seen at the Cat’s Claw. That’s all I know I swear”

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Exator sneered, “Arbalest? What in the hell are you babbling on about, dwarf? You think my handler would ever deign to tell me anything of worth? I’m just a lowly servitor tasked to do a few simple jobs here and there no questions asked for good coin”

Second question; who besides Randal are you co-conspirators and how will they be known and found out?
“I’m not naming any names, Randal just gives me work time to time. I never bother asking the details, I just do the work and get paid. He has a bunch of pals he gives work to, but ours is strictly professional. He approached me, not I him. Low level work, seldom anything heavy. I was just ordered to follow you and give you a bit of a scare, tis all”

Last question; did you and your friends really think that you could steal from us and not get a response from us?  That was your mistake if you did.", Tharngrym said to the bound man.


Exator: “I’m many things but no thief, and if this thing which has got you bothered so was stolen I wouldn’t be stupid nuff to go against the Dwarves, they’ve got too much power and its too much headache to deal with your ilk. I don’t know what Randal’s gotten himself into and I don’t care to. Hell I’m not even a damned warrior, I just play one. I’m actually a thespian, go check at the Theater of Saints on Whore street. Somebodies got to pay the rent, this is my means of livlihood”

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"My name's unimportant" the man said smugly at Tick, who promptly backhanded him with a sting that awestruck the prisoner. The prisoner retorted with a spittle of blood and saliva sprayed on Tick's face, "Little fool, you hit like a little child hits" he said with a laugh.


"Hmmmm, guess you're a tough one" the halfling placed the tip of a dag into a candle flame and let it become orange. He leveled the dagger toward the prisoner's eyes with purposeful menace. Then he placed the heated tip against the mans neck, who grimaced but didn't so much as flinch. "You know, I like the tough ones, after I get through with them they rue the day their mommies oozed them into the world. You look like the screaming sort"


 The leather armor appears to be crafted from the exoskeleton of a giant black scorpion. The black cloak & hood are velour, fanciful and expensive, as are the gloves. In the heel of the mans left boot was a secret compartment containing thieves picks+tools, and interwoven sheathes for hidden daggers. 


The sword is crafted from some distant realm, it's forged out of tempered steel. The smith's mark appears as a statue of a fist.


Well balanced throwing daggers.


When you glance over the vials of milky liquid, you spot a clerical rune of healing engraved in the cork, written in ancient common (Latin in Scarlor).

Tick said "Tharngrym, what do you think we ought to ask this bugger?"

 



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Tick: "Alright, alright don't get your underclothes in a tizzy mate" he paused and then said 'Come on, we can take him back to the Wench' and after some struggle you both dragged him straight through the bustling commonroom without much effort. Tick played it off like a drunk companion who'd had too much booze for the night. Back to his room, he bound the black clad human fighter, and removed some of his items, tossing them onto the floor:


A pair of throwing daggers

A longsword

black cloak, hood, gloves

black leather armor

purse with 25 gp, 45 silver, and a sapphire

a pair of scrolltubes

two small vials full of a milky liquid

two vials full of green liquid, looks like corrosive acid

a box of 25 caltrops inside of a leather indiana jones style bag

scrolltube #1 contains a letter:


Exator,


One of the dwarves from our train has come to town for reasons unknown. I told him to seek lodgings at the Cat's Claw, and if he has he ought to be dead by now. He appears to be a mere acolyte from Ironhome, though I suspect some other motive is hid from us. Keep an eye on him, discover what he's doing in Caer Conig. We do not wish for any imperial enganglements, it would draw far too much unwanted eyes on our operations here. Send your report by way of raven to the safehouse in Hetonk, I will expect it at the end of the week.

-Randal


Tick wakens the man with some smelling salt, "Well now lets take it from the top shall we? It's time to sing, stranger. What's your name?"




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Tick shrugged, “I prefer to leave no witnesses, however we can do that as a first message. Somebody hired this bloody bastard to spy on you, Tharngrym. He’s not an amateur either I can tell these things. If I hadn’t gotten the drop on him things might have turned south for us. Instead of leaving a warning, why don’t we take him someplace and extract some information out of him? You’d be awestruck at how forthcoming he can be once he sings, and they almost always sing. Men are weak, a little threat of pain and they'll sell their balls for reprieve" 

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Tick stroked his chin for a moment, intrigued. “Well business has been slack lately with the foul weather and all. Not exactly sure what the all the fuss is about some billista arbaelest, but if it was thieved by our illustrious mayor I can already tell you the original would be in orcsbane keep someplace, not out in plain sight. Come, we can use the cover of the festivities to keep ourselves hid. One moment” the halfling placed two shortswords at his belt, a host of throwing daggers, and a one handed crossbow as well. "Just in case, never know who might've been watching you" he explains.


“Follow me, lets go take a look at this arbalest” Tick guided you back towards where the heavy billista dwelt. The same prostitute came forth excitedly, “Oh, you brought a friend!? You’re a bit kinky for non humans, I’m charging you both seperately” she said with a fiendish smirk. Tick looked at her crossly for a moment, turned to you and said “Give the girl a gold coin, I’ll explain later. I left my purse back in my room” he tossed the coin to the whore, who grabbed it and inserted it somewhere on her person. Tick told her “See that guard and his dog? Go and ‘relieve’ the sod, and do it with gusto my sweet succulent succubus. Off you go now, and do take your time. I wouldn’t want to have to report your lack of professionalism to your pimp now” he chuckled.


As the whore sauntered off and did as bade, she convinces the uptight dutiful guardsman to take a short walk and a break. Tick guided you towards the arbalest. After five minutes of examination, you noted it was indeed a replica of the prototype described to you. With the special clamps, this new model had no recoil. It would be able to fire at the same exact target repeatedly, something standard arbalest were incapable of.


Tick said “If we remove this component here looks like you can detach it, the winding mechanism thingamajig” he struggled but it resisted, Together you both managed to rip the winding wheel mechanism off. “Come on! The bugger’s coming back, quickly!”


As you both fled back into the throng of revelers and party goers, Tick flipped you a gold coin “Heh heh, feel bad to deprive the working girl of her wages, but I’d feel worse if we had to actually had paid her such a hefty price for so little work heh heh. Beside, this is Dwarven imperial coin, easily traced back to you. Little details my friend can save you a ton of headaches in the future”

When you turned upon a sloped street, winding upward you noticed a dark shape ahead, someone there was doing something and then, a stack of barrels came rolling down the sloped street towards both of you. Tick nimbly leaped atop of the barrels and rolled upon them easily. One barrel crashed into you, splintering and splashing you with...beer.

The shadow became a man, a hooded and cloaked man who removed a longsword noiselessly from its scabbard, "You two fools have something which doesn't belong to you, tsk tsk. Such a theft earns you the noose I'm afraid, however I'll make your deaths quick if you kindly drop the trigger device you stole. I must admit, halfling you are a clever little bastard. You should ply your skills for better employers!"

Tick sneered at the hooded figure. He flicked a pair of barbed darts at the man, striking him full in the neck and chest. The shadowy fighter collapsed and could not move any longer. Tick snickered, "Oil from the liver of a blowfish, paralytic. Won't kill him, but he won't be able to move for an hour or three" he turned toward you and said "help me lift the bugger, what do you think we ought to do with him? Slit his throat or throw him into the river?"

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Tick nodded, "Ah yes, time to time. Easy coin, though sometimes they give me tougher sorts of work. Come in, why wouldn't it be safe here? This town's about as dangerous as a pixie's fart. Sure there's a few blasters and a bunch of dumbshit freebooters time to time, nothing a nice blade can't handle heh heh. First, I'd have your name dwarf. Let's mind manners even if we're in human lands. Now, state your name and tell me a bit about yourself, I don't quite like neglecting proper manners amongst associates" 

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The bartender, a bald man with a goatee and alert eyes began wiping down the bar, which had recent blood spillage upon it, 'Tick? Never heard the name fore. Why don't you go take a walk, heard 13 is your lucky number" he gestured towards the hall to his left that lead to a staircase winding upward.

Before you knocked at the door #13, the door swung open before your mailed fist could tap the wood. The halfling, a black haired one with cat green eyes sized you up in a casual side glance. Across his bed was a arsenal of weaponry: daggers, swords, knives, axes, crossbows, arrows, bolts, whips, star shaped throwing weapons you've never seen before. The halfling frowned in frustration for a moment, then began counting a stack of gold coins on his table, saying absently "For fucks sake Dwarf, have a seat. I'm trying to see if a certain Melkyrian merchant paid me in full. I'm not a bookkeeper" he scribbled some notes on a parchment then turned his gaze towards you, "Ah, now what tis it you need? Weapons? Information? Girls? heh heh. Don't fret, if you're an Imperial agent these aren't stolen or forged, and I have documents stating that. They were forged, I meant not 'forged', as in fake replicas. I stopped selling forged Dwarven imperial grade weapons when your Emperor started cracking down on that sort of lucrative enterprise" he said with a convincing grin "Wouldn't want to go and make a quick bit of coin at the Imperium's expense now would I? In that vein, there are no Imperial laws forbidding the sale of elvish weapons and such, if you be seeking any"