As we concluded our meeting with the Deacon Orrin, the ever wistful Mezla Mezla handed me this book of his, and said “two days to the feud. Write that down”, so I did. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of being his scribe and writing stories for him; I had figured that’s what he should be doing for me, but he never mentioned this journal here since. I figure it’s mine now, which is good since he went and lost all of his worldly possessions later in the day, which I’ll get to later. Would have lost the record of our adventures he so long windedly out to paper, and what a shame that would be.
Anyhow, looking at the previous pages I suppose it’s up to me now to keep the story going, so I shall. Here’s what happened on our second day in The Holy City of Aelford.
The deacon and his acolyte gave us two pieces of information that matter, if you don’t count all the Neelos stuff – we will need to come back to meet him in the temple district at midnight for some sort of trial, which will get us into the tournament if we make him happy enough, and also that the eye of the basilisk isn’t going to be leaving that statue anytime soon so I had better get used to being without it. Unless I win the tournament, and then maybe I can ask for it as a reward. Doubt they’ll give it, but it can’t hurt to try. Apparently the Deacon at the time led some sort of crusade to get it back after a siege laid the city low around two centuries ago, and only found the one. We found the other, so hopefully we’ll get some sort of parade in our honor, but again, no idea on whether or not that Rynn fellow is going to try and take the honor from us again.
Oh! And he did ask about our werewolf friend after doing some furious scribbling in whatever paper stack he had at the time, and we showed him the tattoo and all. It looked lighter in color, according to those of us who bothered to pay attention to it before, and was still spinning around. The Deacon said that meant he might not turn again for some time, and that the changes don’t always follow the full moon. He has specialists in his employ who could help, and he hasn’t reached some stage where he can’t be helped, at least they didn’t think so. The process to remove the curse or what have you is apparently long and painful, but Safeir decided to go for it – after all, if Son can stand being chained for a few days, why can’t he?
So we left him there to be treated, and hoped for the best. They had two prior successful attempts to deal with this sort of thing, so we’ll let them work. One took only a week, maybe less, and the other was several months, but there’s not much else we can do at this point so we sent him on his way, and then went on ours.
As we headed out to the temple district at large, a carriage trundles along and lets out a rich looking half elf, which means he’s only half bad. Apparently he knows Glim from back in their school days, and the gnome completely missed this old acquaintance coming along because he was buried in reading some scroll or other, which I can’t say comes as a surprise. After they caught up, it was decided he would stick with us for a while, since he too had business with the deacon, and I gave him a pass despite the magical Elfiness because he made some comment about Glim finally growing stones. That was good for two reasons – I’m not the only one calling them stones anymore, and he’s giving the stunting a hard time, so he’s all right by me. The others, of course, proceeded to interrogate him and it was all rather uncomfortable. What I got out of their squabbling is that his name is Leo’nel and he apparently has some magic or other. Ostracized by his elven village for his mannish half, and his self-important ‘arcane knowledge’, he left to study with some academy or other, where he met Glim. Bored, if I’m being honest, I took the opportunity to head off to what looked like a dwarven temple and do something I have been meaning to do for a very long time. I would have done so earlier, but this was the first shrine to Moradin I’ve come across since leaving Karak Duin.
It was a good feeling, no, a grand feeling to be back in dwarf-masoned halls once more. I would have liked to spend more time reveling in the feeling, but I had business to attend to – the business of atonement and repentance. Exposing my arms, and the shameful tattoos I bear, I knelt before the Anvil-Altar and set about my prayers, surrounded by the hewn stone statues of the heroes of old. I gave prayer and a promise of penance for Clanggedin Silverbeard, and his forgiveness for what I have done, and Dumathoin, for my brother’s keeping and protection. I failed him, but Dumathoin would not, if he accepted my offerings. I prayed to Muamman Duathal, that he keep me, in turn, on this journey, and Ulaa, that she would watch over my kin and their industries while I was away. And of course to Moradin, that he might see my intent and bless me in its pursuit.
I left the altar, lighter in gems but heavier in spirit, despite the generous looks the other dwarves gave me for respecting the old ways and the like. It’s a burden, you see, but it must be done. Throne below, I hope so dearly that I am given the forgiveness and respite I seek. I’m not one to take everything as a sign, but if I were to perform well in the upcoming Feud, it might just mean that I’ve been heard and that the Gods part their beards to smile upon young Garil, at least for a moment.
While I was busy, the rest of them had their separate ways, I ended up rejoining them in the crafters district later to pick up some new fighting gear, since I intend to win that tournament and might need a bit heftier armor and a hammer that has seen a little less rough use lately. It ends up that we shopped at the open workshop of Ivar Von Ivan, the armorer we learned about at the Hearth and the Harlot the night before. His shop, which he called “The Dragon’s Arsenal”, had some pretty incredible pieces. Nothing we could afford of course, so we stuck to the ‘lowly’ master worked items. Lowly I say because while I thought they were just fine, Ivar seemed less than impressed with his own work. There was one piece that was apparently taken from the horde of some dragon by the name of Sangana. The dragon was apparently hording valuables in The Copper Desert some sixty years ago, and an army defeated him and pillaged the loot, some of which seems to have made it out this way. Hearing the tale, and maybe remembering something he learned in that glitzy school of his about werewolves and their weaknesses, Glim decided to pony up and purchase the toothpick. What use he had for a blade escapes me, but maybe a little bit of dragon luck rubbed off on it and he’ll turn out more handy in a fight.
The pirate couldn’t keep himself away from the water any longer and had run off to go see to that boat he won drinking with that Dan fellow, and from what I hear he decided to be charitable with some fish he caught, giving half to sale and the other half to beggars in Squalor’s Grotto. Probably not what I would have done, and not what I expected him to do either. The running off part sure, but the giving food away? Different story.
After some more time at the stores and such, but not enough time for me to find a gem cutter to train with, or at least buy some tools from, we headed to the bars. Hearing about this place they call The Square, ringed by four different inns, we set off to see how the ale in that part of the foreign quarter compares to what we have sampled to far. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but I still have yet to taste anything far beyond goblinish greenskin swill up on the surface, but the rest seem to enjoy it.
Regardless of what we set out to do in the square, what we ended up doing was a little bit different. It wasn’t long after we arrived that we heard, and then saw, a naked woman dangling out a window. Some of the party ran off to save her, and I just sat back and chuckled while magic of some sort boosted our new friend Leo’nel to twice his size, and as he struggled to pull her down, she fell, nude mind you, right onto our pious elf cleric. The sight of it! I doubt a woman has ever been that unclothed near him, or that near him at all really. I nearly split my pants laughing!
It got a lot less funny shortly after, when Lady Grey herself came by and saw the whole thing. Whether or not it was as bad as it looked – groping a screaming nude woman in a public square like he was, in the middle of the day – it did LOOK pretty bad. Smelled bad too, seeing as Sadron had picked up a touch of the flesh-rot on his wrists somehow, which I have yet to figure out. More reason to stay away from him if you ask me. Anyway the whole thing was bad enough that she can’t be seen associating with the likes of us, and so her charity was quickly reversed, leaving us homeless as a result. A shame, since I was looking forward to having elf-odor-free lodgings for the next week or so in The Nightingale Flat. Just my luck, it would seem; Moradin in his glory has seen fit to punish me with the stench for the time being, which is only fair.
The woman, calling herself Dion, who caused the whole mess, was very apologetic, and invited us in to the Fat Minstrel to apologize over a drink. We learned there that her husband, who goes by the name of Tusk, is a bit of an animal when he gets lusty. Big surprise, name like that! Long story short, he’ll be down eventually once her charm potion or whatever wears off, and we really should meet him. So, we drank and ate until we did. He seems a nice fellow, despite being a half Orc, and invited us to a free musical performance that evening, which we promised to attend. In the meantime, we had picked up some rumors, like that some servant girl is spying on her mistress, some farmer has a polymorphed prince rabbit on his cabbage farm to the east, and that a band of Orcs is in town on the lookout for mercenary work. If I’m lucky, they’ll find it in the Feud at the business end of this new hammer of mine.
Before the performance, we had to set out to explore the other taverns in the square and arrange some lodging for ourselves. Leo’nel was given a room in The Lazy Badger, and I grabbed a room there for myself as well. It had straw mattresses and the like, so the others were unwilling stay there. Pah! Mezla Mezla and Sadron decided to stay at the Fat Minstrel, the only remaining rooms, and Glim, Son, and Thrash booked accommodations at The Crimson Pipe, which has fanciful blue roof tiles, and is just perfect for their tastes, or so I assume. Glim had popped in to the Wizard and Mug, but didn’t bother to ask around and left the place rather quickly. An elf runs the place, and it’s got wizard right there in the name, so no need for me to accompany him, and his leaving so fast confirms my decision as correct.
Of note, there did seem to be a jobs board in the square, though all the postings for the day had been taken. Perhaps tomorrow after the Deacon’s test we can see what things need heroics and earn ourselves a little more coin, treasure, and glory. Plus, the rest of the crew will need something to do while I fight in the Feud every day, winning the blasted thing, so they can busy themselves with odd jobs while I once again do all the work if they can’t find anything else to do during The Frost Festival. Again, I doubt there will be a parade for us to march at the head of until I come back as the new champion and put Moradin rightfully atop the heap of Gods in this place.
Returning to the Fat Minstrel, we readied ourselves for the promise of some fine music and a way to kill the time before we were to return to the Deacon at midnight. After another round of ales, the orcman and his wife came over and let us in on a little secret – he once got himself a pack of cards in the Tamboori Jungle from some curio shop. Telling us he wasn’t always a bard, and that he once was a sight more awful than he already was, he credits the cards to turning his life around and making it so’s all he’s wantin’ is to do some good in the world and make people happy.
The trick with these cards is you’ve got to tell them how many you want before you take them, and the pretty pictures will fill you with whatever their charms are – but only the once, and never again. I thought it was all fancy talk and didn’t much care for it, but Mezla being the fool he is went for it right away, and talked to the cards to let them know he wanted five. He talked to the cards, I can’t emphasize that enough. But plain as granite, five of them came out and he ended up losing all of his things and gaining some book or other. Can’t say I saw why I would want to have that happen to me, but he seemed rather pleased as he ran off naked to the market to purchase some new clothing with Glim’s money, which he traded the cards for. Now he’s without a sword or a lute, so I suppose I will just have to settle with listening to his voice some more.
Some more rumors abound, as flowing drinks are wont to cause, and looks like we’re finally the talk of the town, and for good reasons this time! The pirate’s charity was well received, and word has gotten around that the Deacon has hired some people to take care of things for him. Some flirting by the ranger, which was not well received, and some flirting by Son, which surprisingly was, and we were well and warm and in our cups by the time the music came around. We watched the performance Tusk put on and it was actually quite nice. I’m not up to snuff on musical matters but I found it enjoyable, and I think the rest of the people at the bar did too. I can’t help but feel like the song had more than just regular lyrics, as the story told felt a little bit of prophecy to it all. Least that’s how I felt.
He went on about how our journey here was far from done, and come the sunrise we’d descend through judgment valley, with no direction but to trust our final destination – to follow what we know – to follow with faith in her direction and not to fight the flow. In the end, we would weigh our worth before her majesty, no longer strangers. Now I don’t know exactly what those cards did to our singing friend, but they might have just given the half orc a touch of ‘the sight’, as the stone priests used to call it back home. I suppose only time will tell.
In any case, we’re off to the Temple of Pelor once more, now that midnight has nearly come, and it’s dead quiet with no activity in the temples district. I’m going to stash the book for now, since it seems like an acolyte has just opened the door for us to usher us in, and we’ll see what the Deacon has in store for us – and whether or not these ‘Stalwart Knights’ as we may be can indeed be found worthy in this judgment valley to come.