This inn looks like an absolute dump, and I cannot believe we even went inside. We were not sure where else we will be able to turn in for the night, so I suppose we had to.
I did not realize how much I was spoiled by Stanick’s inn until we went inside the Cloak and Stagger – this place smells of stale ale and vomit. It was almost filled to the brim, the patrons were all a very rough sort, and all seemed to be shouting.
We were lucky to find one open table in the very center of the main room, and we all took a seat, weary from our travels. The innkeep, Thiles, was surprisingly courteous, given the atmosphere here. We sit in silence and listen to the flow of words around us, and here a few rumors:
- There is a portal of some kind in the highest tower of Balknah’s Castle. I hope we have a chance to pursue this lead, while it is unsubstantiated, there must be a wizard maintaining the gate, and I would like to see his spellbook.
- There is an Elven princess captured and imprisoned in some lost dungeon. Seems incredibly vague and I have no interest in princesses, let alone Elvish ones. Probably just a fairie tale.
While we are eavesdropping, the barmaid comes by (if I recall correctly, which of course I normally do, her name is Tarn) with bread and water, and regales us with what the kitchen has available that evening. We all order various foods and drink – I believe I had a vegetable stew. I certainly did not trust any meat they were serving here.
As the barmaid was leaving, a familiar figure of short stature approaches our table and sits down. It is Garil, who had disappeared on us without a word. I believe he was quite shaken by what we saw in the cave, but I would think a seasoned soldier would be able to handle a situation like that with more resolve. He somehow was able to track us to the fort. Regardless, he stuck with with us and hopefully will for the foreseeable future.
I would also like to point out that our reptilian comrade is, at this point, just standing and staring at nothing in particular. I wonder what his little brain was thinking of.
Sadron notices a group in a corner of the inn, and brings our attention to them. They are clearly dressed differently than the rest of us, and clearly not from around here. Someone notes that they seem like pirates, although I am not sure where the nearest sea is, and I can’t think of the last time I saw a seagull… but I digress.
This group begins singing, which reminded me a lot of my life growing up. I also should note that at this point I have had a few rounds, and that I am a rather cheap date considering my stature. I rarely drink in any excess, maybe after finishing a large project at the university. In this instance I was happy to have survived our encounters so far. So, I get up to join them, and they ignore me completely! The nerve – they probably sleep with mermen, anyway.
Thrash, feeling generous, buys them a round. They all proceed to drink and largely ignore us, except for one saunters over, introducing himself as Son. He is on a quest to find himself a home.
Brotrillisk, who has still been standing this whole time, finally sits down and grunts something unintelligible.
We call the keep, Thiles, over to ask him a few things about the fort. It seems that most of the original inhabitants were all imprisoned here, and a man named Jericho was able to set them free and depose the original owners of the fort. They seem to all revere him.
We also learn that the Scorpion guild is nothing more than a bunch of thugs. I am not sure if I believe that, but even if there are just thugs they must have received orders from someone high up. Who else would send them out for Kirin?
Thiles also lets us know about the local shops and merchants. There is:
- Griffon’s Armory, run by a halfling named Riffolk
- An apothecary run by a dwarfette named Aglid
- A general store, run by a man named Cauldry
- A weapon smithy named Lavoy, although I think he doesn’t make them himself
It also turns out this is the only place to sleep, unless we would prefer a jail cell. The Cloak and Stagger only has a dormitory styled basement, and so as to protect our privacy, I request to rent out the entire basement. With our reservation for the night, we set out to purchase some needed supplies.
We explore the various shops, most of us finding something of use. I got a little eager and overpaid on a potion, but I do not mind paying extra for a well made elixir. Garil attempted to flirt with the dwarven shopkeep. Is that all that is on my companions minds?
When we return to the inn, Son has done a little sleuthing and discovered that Kirin and Jericho are old friends. So, we must have an audience with this self-titled Prince of Thieves. We asked the barmaid and innkeep if they had any ideas on how to accomplish this task, and they laughed in our faces, telling us that all there is to do is wait. So we did, retiring to our beds.
The next morning, Thiles made us a great breakfast. Sadron gets up to pay, passing the door, as it explodes inwards with a platoon of men pouring in. They seemed to be led by a tiefling from the Outside. Brotrillisk attempts to intimidate the men, who are unphased and swiftly knock him out. Secretly, I thank them. They command us all to put our hands in the air, and we all comply. They then bind our hands, and put hoods on our heads, and lead us out the door. After some time and a dizzying amount of turns, our hoods are removed and our bindings are cut.
We see a long stone hall, with a plush velvet throne. A man sits on this throne, pipe in hand and smoke pouring from his nose. The smoke itself had a particularly offense odor, but I could not place it. I would say it is nothing like the other herbs and plants I have burned. Noticing our bard, he commands Mezla Mezla to play a tune, who quickly complies.
We begin speaking about Kirin, and how we come with a message for her. He tells us that he has her hidden away, and that she is safe. He has no reason to give her our message, and especially won’t if he cannot trust us.
There is someone he freed who will not bow to him, or pay his dues. This half-orc, Rasp, is the leader of a guild of some sort and possesses a giant emerald (about the size of my torso) called the Eye of the Basilisk. This build calls themselves the Black Tartans. We quickly agree, but really what choice do we have?
We are lead out of the building by the tiefling captain that originally captured us, and points us in the right direction. So we set out. Mezla Mezla scouts ahead for us, reporting their hall to be a square structure in the corner of the fort. Son climbs it and peers threw the thatched roof, whispering what he sees down to us – “a bunch of half-orcs.” Honestly I am not sure if any of my companions can even count.
We devise a plan, I will disguise myself as one of their kind and attempt to talk my way in. Maybe one of them knows where it is? I step off the road momentarily, as I alter myself into a half-orc. I do not enjoy this new sensation, and much prefer to look down and see my real hands. I also cast a spell of whispering, so I can rely to the group what I see inside.
I then walked up to the door, knocked, and convinced the door guard that he did, indeed, know me (orcs and their ilk are all a bunch of halfwits). Inside, I ask about the location of the Eye, and that it is in danger – Jericho is searching for it. He has no idea what I am talking about, and I sense he is telling the truth. After peering around, I realize these half orcs are a bunch of lackeys and will not know I thing. I whisper this to my companions, and tell them the next step. I will sneak up behind the doorman and open the lock as Garil knocks on the front. Then he will be able to bust in the door. Our plan works, thanks to my quick thinking.
We quickly dispatch of these orcs, and then head to the trapdoor in the corner of the room. Although I did notice our bard searching through the pockets of the fallen while we were still fighting them! I will need to keep my eye on this one. We open the trap door, and it is literally trapped. After the brief scare, we descend down the stairs. Since I am still disguised, I take the lead.
I enter the next room, and see who I presume to be Rasp at the far end of this long room. I try to convince him to let me help him secure the gem, that Jericho is coming for it. He laughs and assures me it is safe – but how did I know of it? No one else knows of it. Realizing I have been discovered, I whisper to my team to come in – now. They all come rushing in past me to confront Rasp. It is then we realize we were actually surrounded by many half-orcs.
We trade hits with these half orcs, and face many waves. We are able to conquer each one. I did my best in blinding and incapacitating our enemies. Mezla Mezla takes up a song, dancing around and stabbing half orcs as he can. We slowly work through them all, and Garil kills the final lackey with a strong downstroke of his hammer.
Garil tries reasoning with Rasp. Brotillisk shouts at him. Rasp turns to call more guards, but we quickly strike him and prevent it. He is much tougher than the rest, but we are able to defeat him before he hurt us seriously.
Brotrillisk has a hunch, and cuts the late Rasp open, finding the Eye inside of him. We sort through the corpses of the fallen, looking for gold and weapons. We decide Garil will carry the Eye, and we turn to head up the stairs..