The Awakening

Make For Aelford

AlEford IN sight *heh*

Thanks Nikolai for Notes!!

As I finish looting the disgusting two-headed moron
first of all its a wonder these grimeballs even have possessions, and what use would the beast have for the scroll I found on him anyway
I look up to the eerily bright moonlight and find myself thankful for the bright light of the moon waning gibbous, incase anyone is curious, follows the full moon as it diminishes being just past its fullness, the cold light feeling warm given the potential in the full shine.

Speaking of, our drunken new friend appears more capable, managing to hold down some food which I must admit was surprisingly delicious and I’m more astonished by the quality than the gesture, but we’ll get to the account of that forthwith.
I’m torn on how to treat this; the opportunity to travel with such a legendary creature will surely fuel tales down the trail, and I hear that once you contract the disease and master the symptoms there can be some tangible benefits to a half-transition stage. Maybe I could become something truly legendary if I allow myself to be injured.
On the other hand, this guy seems like an imbicile at worst or a drunk at best, and I should not only keep away from whatever he’s contracted what if its sexually transmitted!? o_0 but also keep wary lest he try to get his god to curse me for not howling at the moon or some such prayerlike nonsense you never know how you’re gonna run up on the wrong side of these religiosos

Speaking of Clerics, it is of note that we are luckily in the company of two, the aforementioned afflicted rambler, and our found-in-the-woods friend Sadron, who was most probably a choirboy, lost, when we found him in the woods. Thank the latharian Lotharian, Lorthian, Lathlathinian? or whatever that we’ve got clerics getting to this holy city! They always seem to come in handy, and I’ve never been to a city so pompous to call itself holey but I bet clerics will come in doubly handy, and we have two!

Thats like, quadruple clerics!

But its really like 1.5 clerics honestly. . .

Or whatever.

Things I remember from Fort Gallant: That was the name of a place we were just at. We escaped from some assholes dungeon and got duped into killing a guy for some OTHER asshole who imprisoned us again, luckily solving our quest to find Kirin, who “as a friend” he had also had imprisoned. Kirin doesn’t know dick about the book I and shit I hardly even dare commit to ink other than that Nilos was ‘once a man, he became consumed with his ambition to become a warrior powerful enough to rival the gods.’ We also rescued a scruffy pirate rogue from the second assholes dungeon I mean come on how could we not, he was basically being tortured TO DEATH and hopefully this good deed doesn’t come back to haunt us, but after hearing the piteous screaming for like three days what sort of person could leave a man to that fate. We’d killed all the guards anyway, it would be double ill to leave him tied to the wall like a mule to starve.
I was pretty convinced the not-trolls, “Ettin,” Kirin is kind enough to eventually enlighten us after ridiculing the nuances of troll-hood and troll-being, were actually being somehow summoned or called not intentionally, but like a beast to bait, and let me tell you from the looks of her I would sympathize to Kirin herself given her absolute absence in the last battles, but maybe she simply has some more restraint than our own stout BDFs.

She remarks, somehow simultaneously, how much of a mess the corpse of the Ettin is in its giant foul disgusting misery, and how hard we have been pushing ourselves and could use a rest. Like a civilized person I suggest we head upwind some few leagues or at least some paces before bedding down for the night.
Huntsman Thrash sent his wolf out into the woods for scouting and the animal comes back with a message for him of a clearing shortly ahead suitable for our party to make camp. As we press onward, past the stench of the corpses Son introduces himself to Kirin again, and not as ‘the sailor we rescued from a dungeon’ I imagine.
I need to get my ears checked, can’t hear for shit
She remembers him she was there after all and seems to buy the ridiculous story that he was being tortured, almost TO DEATH, on a case of mistaken identity and legitimately didn’t know whatever they were looking for.
Note to self, she’s dumb and seems to be intrigued by scars this is only now starting to make sense but thats all hot…

Eventually we break into a clearing whos perfection for camping is made all the more clear by Kirin loudly plomping down and removing her boots to massage sore feet and relax. I’m not far behind heh as I think about settling down with a drink and a fire. I should carry wineskin in addition to this water. It can’t be too heavy to not be worth it, honestly.

Across the trail I can see Thrash’s wolf dragging something into the clearing which looks optimistically deer-shaped, if not on the small side. Watching the woodsman work is mesmerizing as he deftly cleans, prepares and portions the meat. In an equally mesmerizing and skillful demonstration he neatly freed the heart of the fawn with his swordtip and flipped it to the wolf, who obviously scarfed down the treat. Everyone seemed vaguely impressed by a wild animal eating raw meat, and I had an unfortunate spasm on seeing someone ELSE get to eat that left Kirin thinking I was a vegetarian or something. Whatever, something’s up with that icequeen, and Garil keeps muttering the word Heartseeker over and over and over and over and over and over and over and. I’ll admit, the imagery of the wolf eating the heart of a fawn at the hands of a human has much potential for poetic embellishment, and nobody will ever have to know what Thrash REALLY looks like…

Undeniably generous however. Kirin works up a spit hah, believe me I wish too for the veel and soon the sizzling sound from the fire reminds me why this is my second-favorite spit-related activity, not to mention the smell. Thrash, as I mentioned, generously shared “his” hunt with us, but I couldn’t help but notice he was rather crudely doling out succulent and choice cuts as his preference, so I didn’t study too close and was thankful for free warm meat. It was hard to miss the pile of stuffing and gibblits Thrash kept on his plate but relinquished with a coy look from Kirin alone. As I mentioned, the food is stunningly prepared and even our new were-friend Safir keeps it down.
As we’re eating I can barely overhear Son pressing Kirin for more information, probably where we found such a good looking woman or some other obvious novice drivel. One word kids: poetry. You’ve heard of the Great Deluge? Eve was a woman, God the first poet. Its that simple Shes taking credit for breaking us out of the cells, and I must admit she tells a pretty good story, but I’m sure she forgets details. The heart of any truly good story is to have the audience hanging on the the important little details. The cloak I’m wearing at the moment, was once green. Its more faded than I’d like to admit, which is why I haven’t committed its glory to ink just yet, and is not yet a detail you, as a reader, would much hang on to. But soon, now that we’ve reached the holy city (spoiler!) I may come across some finery worth true poetic description.
Sadron the other cleric, the not-werewolf, just to keep them straight (do you have to have an S name to be a cleric? Or maybe just for this god?) blessed me with a holy spell after supper and I was feeling so well and restored that I let Glim the Gnome talk me into letting him hold the scroll I found on the Ettin under the allegation that he could decipher it, which apparently he cannot so thank you very much? He can carry it to Aleford Note to self, get that shit now that we’re in town, you can find a shop for sure

Meals finished, moon high in the night, fully healed, its definitely time to retire and get some well deserved sleep. Before I turn the page however, I must break a bit of bardic protocol and recount a story of that night that I did not witness firsthand. Yet this story is too good not to be told, so I will commit the event with as much accuracy as I am capable of piecing together from the hearty recollection we had in the few spare civilized adult moments of reflection while we were supposed to have breakfast.

I awoke, early, sopping wet at the literal asscrack of dawn. Apparently it had started raining shortly into first watch, which Garil the dwarf had volunteered for, even though the magic animals of our huntsman or wizard friends had this task covered, or at least I felt confident in their abilities! Anyway, speaking of abilities, Garil’s keen senses picked up that it was raining at some point and those lucky light sleepers who woke up to the strangely out-of-place sound of rain on metal got to see what I can only imagine to be a fantastic and glorious sight:

Our valiant BDF Garil the Dwarf from Karak’Dween or whatever sturdy shield held stoutly overhead, hammer out, hoisted at half mast, looking around aggressively if not frantically or at LEAST quizzically, while remaining safely untouched by a single drop of rain.
Apparently it took some convincing from Glim what is it with these tiny people? that the freaking RAIN was totally normal and not some sort of curse or spell or catastrophe set on soaking him personally.

At first I thought all the small-brain stereotypes about dwarves was obviously going to be true how else could they take hammer-to-head hits we know they do as children? but as I reflect on the event I think, underground, water falling like rain probably does signify some impending catastrophe or attack of some kind. No wonder dwarven beer and ale are the highest of their craft; those guys sources of “clean water” aren’t something I’d like to swim in before the monks get their hands on it.

Eventually Garil calms down and manages to let Kirin take second watch again, animal servants and shit? In the aftermath of the commotion nobody notices Glim scoot himself into Son’s lean-too and snuggle up to the pirate like a really confused big spoon.

In the morning I wake up full, but fucking soaked, as discussed, and its super hella fucking early, again, as mentioned. Son is yelling about Glim sleeping with him or something, Glim does himself the favor of talking about how small he is and that nobody can tell when he’s in their bed anyway so no harm no foul? Somehow through all this Son is still managing to flirt with Kirin, and between the gnome in the bed and general being-a-rogue I honestly don’t know how he manages to pull off maintaining a conversation!

The smell of salt on the morning air reminds me of baking and at first I’m sure we’re near the city of Aleford finally and I start imagining civilization and cooking and food and pubs and music and conversation. A couple quick smells and some reflection reminds me that the salt is probably merely the nearby sea of Anas Anus? There are so many legends of the sea of Anas. Legends of piracy, trading, and the holy city itself. Brotrillisk even thinks he remembers stories of Son’s Father (heh) being one of the less vulgar pirate captains of the area as we continue to push for Aleford in the wee hours of the morning.

Forthwith, our path leads out from the thickness of the forest to increasingly open rolling bluffs overlooking the ocean. Not forgetting the adventures of the previous night we allowed some of the less civilized and less traveled members of the party some moments to marvel at the sea. A surprising number of people have never seen the ocean or even suffered the horror of traveling by ship, so they are predictably amazed by the sheer honey-badger-ness of a body of water that big. The dwarf especially I think came close to a religious experience, and I’m rather not sure whether he enjoyed the growth.

A figure appears in the distance and Sadron the cleric draws my attention to it. What happens next is unfortunate to say the least. As soon as I focus on the distant figure I can make out a bit of a face. She seems to be vaguely woman, with a dull yellow hued skin, but I can hardly tell because I’m already on the ground retching up my guts and prior meals and thats not even the worst of it. She couldn’t have made my clothes heavier just by seeing her, so the feeling in my gut was doubly worse knowing I must really be as weak as I feel. Brings the idea of a sickeningly foul image or ugly person really into frame once you’re physically assaulted by a ‘person’s’ visage. Moral of the story is I better get some future healing for this shit, and seriously!

Brotrillisk the Burninator wants to fight the monster, but can see the folly in attempting a solo suicide run. The bitch injured me with a mere glance and I would hate to see whats left of Brotrillisk when his strength has left him. The potential hordes of gold have Bro more vocal than I’ve ever heard him in the past; it seems the honorable way to this dragon’s heart is through the coin-bone a trait I find similar in hookers, I might add (dragonmen can’t read right??) After my first encounter with the Sea-Hag what else is yellow and physically revolting and will obviously fight you? I wrangle my louder-growling stomach and we take the long route edging around the Hag’s bluff keeping her well out of sight. Its not until Sadron steps off and kneels in a clearing to pray that I realize just exactly how many hours overdue breakfast is exactly, and I spend the hour fruitlessly hunting for vermin with my crossbow until praytime is over.

Getting back down the ole dusty trail, which is decreasingly dusty being that were almost on a beach road at this point, which is weird if you think about walking across a beach but maybe thats the whole purpose of a road anyway to keep from trudging through swirling sand hungr GOD DAMN IM HUNGRY
Finally we reach a bluff and once were on the top we can finally see the holy city of Aleford stretching before us. At first look it appears to be frighteningly far away, the way the city draws your eye to the horizon, making it seem to stretch infinitely away, but, least you get dismayed and return to the fort of prisoners run by prisoners for a warm cooked meal, a cursory examination will reveal that the size of the city is creating this illusion, it encircling walls seeming to meld with the horizon on all sides, as if we will crest the hill and spill into the city.

Thats not how it works obviously, and the other side of the bluff reveals the enormous walls of the holy city now rather close to the road.

We move towards the city and slowly join an increasing press of travelers towards the gate at the terminus of the road. Kirin tells us a little about the city but by the time I can remember to pay attention to not-her-ass its a songbird, that im writing, a, song about. . .get over it were already passed the walls extortion-free. “Holy City and All That” or somesutch. The guardsmen at the gate seem impressed with Kirin and our musty clerics in this town i feel like they spell it Cleric very perposfully, thats the creepy vibe im getting and caution us against using our arsenal. They don’t seem too excited when Garil mentions Rin, but whatever, guards is guards (they’re never excited unless theres a fight).

Kirin slowly seems more cheerful as we make our way deeper into the city this way and that. As we cross some streets and turn down others she rambles amicably, expressing that the local Deacon, a man named Orin certainly has the answers we seek, typical religioso outlook that the reason we see the place packed with fancy nobles out and about nobles NEVER do that! Its not . . like, . noble! is because of the local Frost Festival in which all the various people of the religious Holy city all attempt to curry favor with their gods how can this go wrong?! :D Apparently they do this without hurting eachother by, ironically, organizing a tournament of some sort and dressing it up as a festival. This will make it harder for us to find a room for ourselves, although apparently some deities curry favor to your person when you rent your house to valiant travelers, which suits me just fine if we can connect with the right noble!

It turns out that trying to get through a bustling city, especially a Holy city on the holy sabbath for people devoted to like EVERY GOD is totally hard. Even Kirin found her route blocked by rows of gleamingly polished guards bedecked in their most regal formal armor and accoutrements standing attention aside most important intersections. Its hard to tell whether they are watching the streets or the crowd until the parade begins to move down the thoroughfare and they block off the crossing streets as a shieldwall to allow the parade to pass unmolested.
As we wait for some enviously dressed lords and ladys, and priests, the third sex hah to pass, opening passage through the route once more Kirin explains some “details” about this Deacon Orin, who will answer our questions. I wonder if he disguises himself in orange and plays as Deacon Orange? Anyhow he’s the guy in charge of the tournament, called the Feud, and he’s also apparently in charge of determining those who meet the requirements to compete, but he won’t be available until tomorrow after the sabbath services. She’s super talkative these days!

The Feud. Someone explained me the rules very carefully but I can’t for the life of me remember. It seems to be a melee tournament of some sort, available for one to many contestants, no magic allowed. Sounds like it could be fun? We’re pretty skilled at swinging the sword, even if our dragonman is a little haphazard. He tends to have trouble controlling his cough however, and I wouldn’t really like to tangle with a whole city of expensively armored guards. Enlisting for a little bit to GET some of that armor maybe, but never brawling against them!
Eventually we reach a mildly graphic sign for an establishment called the HEARTH AND THE HARLOT depicting a busty woman serving ales over a large black stove. The place is massive; once you get inside you forget you’re in just one building in a city of many equally large buildings! Sometimes I understand the dwarf mind and wonder why we ever even go outside. hah, that guy and the rain, man i gotta write a song about that or something Add in a warm fire (like a hearth get it!) and some music, ale, fine ladies and dance and there’s no excuse to go aboveground see, its so easy to get into unless you have to piss.
Well this place has all of it: Women, smoke, drink, warmth, spice, fire and light sprawling out before us. At the back there are rows of rooms and a shadowy staircase leading upstairs to untold delights. But the eye is drawn to a massive negative space created by a giant jet black hearth; literally jet black as in the huge thing looks to be carved from a single slab of the jet the mineral of the finest calibre.

Here I might pause to say ‘looks to be’ and ‘the eye is drawn’ and ‘to the hearth’ and such because all that is made possible, once we kindly and courteously gain entry to the establishment, is ripped asunder by Garil the dwarf absolutely charging towards the hearth, attempting to hug what parts he can wrap his stubby arms around, hugging the warm hearth itself which, we all as greater beings realize is essentially a zazzed up grill!

He starts yammering about dwarven relics and rune carvings and where to get this grill and how you transport a giant grill this huge and heavy and how long it must have sat here grilling while we politely gather around and feign interest in his great story bro. Speaking of Bros, I’m pretty sure Brotrillisk is still with us, but even so conversation seems to have returned to normal level after Garil’s momentous like a rolling ball, not like something that will go down in history entry.
He’s immediately attended to by a young, strong Boytoy who tries to answer all the details of his ridiculous questions while fishing for a tip HAH, i meant in coin, but i was trying to figure out how to lead the double phrase The relevant information was that rooms at Clair’s was booked up for the festival and ale cost three copper, for which I’ll probably get swill after making a fool of myself trying to test my bargaining and boasting for the first time in a proper crowd in some time if I do say so myself, but I’ll admit that I shook a fair bit of rust off completely successfully.

Fishing for more tips Boytoy seems especially interested in our Cleric sadron. Theres so much I don’t know about what is and is not cool in religion nowdays I’ll never know what is and . . . is not . . . cool in religion. . . nowadays wow that was awkward ANYWAY happygirl Kirin has suddenly become infinitely less helpful right about the time she started making out with another woman, which was hot, but like, disappointing and annoying because shes always supposed to be giving us information which, like her hot body, is always apparently on display but not actually for sale and never seems to be available when you need it. Luckily for us she prised her tongue from the mouth of a nearby mistress of some sort long enough to recommend some neighbor who might have room for us even though we heard many of the local nobles rent their, pause for poshness, one of their many, townhomes to visiting clerics in attempts to look righteous in the eyes of god, while accomplishing a little showing off in public as well, for the good of the land of course, I’m sure honor demands proper payment; its a festival afterall!

Eventually an attractive stately woman in her 40’s probably her 50’s lets be honest siddles up to the hearth and begins answering some of Garil’s innane questions rather proudly. Apparently it is indeed an old, maybe even ancient dwarven relic that predates the owner and probably the establishment itself. The woman, who somehow I think is Clair but only by the way she manhandled the boytoy and called off the check for our drinks explains more about Kirin’s recommendation. Apparently the Lady Gray rents her estate to traveling clerics from time to time, but is especially finneky about receiving a sign from the proper gods at the proper time to determine renting her estate, as everyone knows she fickley devout and sometimes will leave the estate empty if she doesn’t feel she’s received the proper symbolism. In this case were only in luck because nobody proper has been found before us in this surge and the festival/tournament begins in three days so weeklong rentals are diminishing fast.

At this point Thrash attempted to pull a fast on us, taking advantage of the fact that we hadn’t eaten in near half a day at the same time as a loud man calling himself Don the Drinker loudly challenged any and all comers to participate in a drinking game. I figure I’m so hungry I could easily out-drink anyone, but as I learn more about this game it turns out there are way more rules than ‘who drank the most mugs of ale’ and I’m not huge on complicated rules for drinking more on complicated rules for drinking later! Around this time a crew of well attired kitchen knights strolled towards the hearth hoisting along a large and finely prepared boar on a spit and racked it on the DwarfHearth. Clair makes it known that we can get some of the succulent bits in less than an hour and I’m almost too impatient to wait. Our available server is of no use because all the food in use for the festival and that tonights meal for all will consist of finely seasoned boar with deliciously salted rolls with no-doubt luxurious butter. But not for almost another hour oh god! (i guess we’re in the right place)
After finally having convinced three other morans at our table to accept Don’s 4v1 challenge Thrash gets up with Garil, Brotrillisk, and Son (dirty pirate hookers always good fir drinking am i rite?) unwittingly in tow and saunters over to his table to accept the challenge on their behalf. In negotiating bets and stakes Thrash makes clear his cowardly plan of introduction and non-participation does that make him like our wolf? He goes and gets the shit, i guess we let him think hes special by feeding him the heart. . . HEARTSEEKER!! My god the dwarf isnt a total raving lunatick, he just confused animals! Garil the not-so-raving dwarf obviously just wants gems, and Don tells Bro that defeating him will go a long way towards a discount on a single item at a locally esteemed craftsman’s shop, “anything the dragonmaster could select.” In the case we (they) loos is that even a word? Don simply wants a night with Clair, although he doesn’t seem to be able to describe this price expressed in a satisfactory way to Garil, in imagining piles of gems, so I’m beginning to think it may be a trick, a ruse if you will allow, asking for something he knows we won’t be able to provide. Pullin the old Rasp double swap. Son he tempts with a boat (obviously) and Thrash remains committed to his character even after Don goadingly calls the game Hunter, insinuating he’s a superior hunter than our own ranger.

Right before the game starts, Don still grumbling about the one-sidedness of a game against him without the requisite four more players and probably Thrash’s yellow belly, Glim stumbles up to the table yelling drunkenly about losing at gambling and wanting a piece of whatever action we’ve got going on. ‘Stumbles up to the table’ is probably a generous description, remembering the height of a gnome and the height and your average tabletop!
The game seems simple; count up in rounds replacing every three with ‘Blood’ every six with ‘Sweat’ and every nine with ‘Tears’. Or something like that. I have a hard time remembering anymore because the rules that seemed so simple at first that I could easily write them down with only 7 digits and three words were made to look so impressively complicated and unweildy. But more on that later.

Don wins the first two rounds quickly and handiy. “Glim seems to be the weak link” is a written note. I should have participated as it seems pretty easy, and I could have made out like a bandit. At least I would have walked in knowing some of the rules before plunging in and saying yes to whatever in whatever god’s name they plan on drinking! Unlike some gnomes I know.

Glim strikes out again, having made it past ‘3’ (the first ‘blood’) but with only four participants overall it wasn’t long before 9 came around to be replaced by ‘Tears’ which is way more than fits into a gnome brain. Feeling magnanimous Don makes a show of graciously allowing Glim to bow out of his ill advised game (he really seems to be on a losing streak today) for the mere fine of 10 GP, which Glim pays with drunken relief.

Next round Brotrillisk scores a point on the mildly slurring bigman Don, but this is the part where when you’re hustling someone you let them have a little rope to hang on. Garil the dwarf loses at 30 these short people and their tiny brains! where I think I would at least have said ‘Bloody’ as its obviously a 3. I wonder if that would pass? Anyway in classic dwarf fashion Garil pulls out his purse and begins to stack gold coins in front of a smug and laughing Don Drinker.
‘Ah good to see a stalwart Dwarf always stays bound by his word’ but goes on to explain that nobody in the town will compete against him and by now even the visiting travelers have learned their lesson and refuse to compete. Don admits he’s simply getting bored and has taken thousands of gold pieces from travelers to the city and despite his best efforts they make no difference to Clair’s virginity, so he did pull a little fast one saying ‘all’ he wants is a night with a woman. No-one will play him anyway, it makes sense to be gracious in victory.
For being honorable in ‘combat’ Don graciously accepts from each contestant more bottles of the expensive perry handed over by Glim in liu of the some 2000 GP wager they had initially explored. Additionally he tosses Garil the forest garnets they were discussing as wager! Now I know I should have played; there wasn’t even any losing, the best kind of drinking game! But weakness makes you stupid sometimes I guess. Impressively, Garil deftly catches the two tiny stones and slips them in his pocket all the while protesting that he cannot accept these stones for a defeat, blahblahblah dwarf crap, but man was that an impressive snag.
Don explains to Son something about a boat in slip 12 called Zephyr divine wind fyi and tells Brotrillisk he’ll pass along the message to discount an item to the next dragonman in the shop; there can’t be too many even in this city I figure. You’d think the dragonman would protest more than the dwarf to be rewarded for a loss, but Don volunteers that he’s made a rather good life fleecing visitors and will gladly pay for the entertainment of a good contest, if for no other reason than to spread the idea that he CAN be defeated.

Back at our table, Sadron is having a low conversation with our serving girl Lin. I can’t overhear much but she seems to be confirming that the main cleric at the head of the temple, and thus the city pretty much, is indeed the guy who can issue writs for the competition. They also remark on a solitary ‘stranger’ isn’t really the right word, more like local eccentric lord or someone, who enters solitarily, yet seems surrounded by an entourage of invisible children all clamoring for a tale of sword swinging and maiden saving. I pick out the name Alder the Stone. Of stone? Stoned? Maybe thats the plan: we have Sadron meet the onion Deacon and they can commune with their gods to get us some entry into this tournament and a little public recognition.

As if reading my mind, young Lin comes to my seat and, on bended knee even, asks ME, a wand’ring minstrel if I could possibly perform in place of a scandalous no-show (the nerve of an unprofessional scallywag!). I mention that I haven’t eaten still and for performance I’ll require supper for my crew and myself and enough gold to buy one of those bottles of perry for myself. i need to remember to go back and collect She agrees quickly and informs that the performance begins in 20 minutes! Thats hardly time to stuff my face with some of this delicious boar, whet my whistle, and consort with the muses.
The final products were obviously rather rushed, and not worth committing to posterity verbatim. The first half was a lyrical poem set to a little string tune, I’ve found audiences are soothed by the rhythm of the strings even though the real art is in the lyrics. I’m none too sturdy on the strings, but I can accompany a tune, and complex thoughts tend to aggravate simple minds, so its good for them to have something to fall back on that they can follow. The second half I figured would be appropriate for a holy city and let the strings mostly fall silent, falling into an accented sermon-like speech inspired by my own recent events rescuing people from themselves and the trouble they’re found in.
When I concluded there were a few moments of baited silence, which I’ve learned is the best way to end a performance, with the audience waiting for more, before erupting into raucous cheers, applause, and general conversation. Roses and coins were even thrown on the stage and I made more from the crowd than promised by the establishment!
I can’t help but be a little offended that our lycan friend slept through my performance, especially as central players were ‘crazy people we find in the woods,’ but any time he’s sleeping harmlessly I’m somewhat relieved. Performance over, Boytoy finally serves me up with a proper plate of well deserved veel and the tenderest loins the roast boar, not his! and rich dark ale. After a delicious, well earned, satisfying dinner (?) who cares its food, for me, Sadron and like everybody else head outside to speak to the Lady Gray about establishing a rental, or at least having a pray on it presumably. I mean, I figure thats what they’re doing; I looked up from my plate and suddenly everyone was gone besides Garil, and maybe Bro, but who can really tell where hes at in his ‘brain.’ dragons have brains tho rite? In between tankards Lin suggests I might visit with the strange solitary lord Alder the Stoned, as he is a powerful local and my performance seems to have penetrated his glacial persona.

Alder the Stone didn’t yeild much I wonder how he got the name? and after hooking me up with an entire platinum piece for my performance i threw in a little godfearing spice for safe measure we discussed my recent travels and my encounter with the Hag. Alder suggested I might recover after a night sleep, and I think he has no idea how true I knew that might be; a night in a proper room, warm and safe, can do physical wonders.
Turns out Alder has been the champion of the Feat wait its Feud Feud for the past 8 years! The format is such that champions progress through challengers each day culminating with the final challengers against the previous champion on the last day of the tournament (or something, its complicated i guess?). Alder has been champion for the past 8 tournaments since winning the title from the previous contestant, called only “Hextor’s Champion” although I can’t really say whether that means he fights every year or not, it sounds like very few people make it to the later stages of the tournament?
He explains the format again, and again I totally space it, and confirms for like the fifth time that its the Deacon Onion who determines who may fight and basically outlines everything in person if/when we’re sure to eventually meet him for sure. Mostly him and Garil talk about the tournament, Garil babbling about honor and glory and gods and victory and promise.

Before I’m totally asleep Sadron and the rest of the team return and I can pull away from the rather dark and brooding champion. I’m happy to have brought a glimmer of hope to the guy’s dismal existence, maybe I can use this moment to power some new spell or something, but its nice to get back to our table which seems a little warmer and cheerier now. But that might be due to the team being back with good news.
Sadron found Lady Gray and talked about their shared acquaintances. Usually I mean people, which is hard enough being a visitor in town knowing only a few names, but it turned out that the Lady had been holding her estate open in hopes of currying favor with the god of Obad Hai. Obad Hai happens to be Sadron’s god as well, and the Lady is so impressed by his solid credentials as such that she promptly takes our appearance as a sign to make an easy 100GP for the entire estate for the entire tournament, which is undeniably somewhere between charity and a crap businessmodel, but when you’re an aristocrat and have many estates and they’re already paid for it hardly matters what level you profit right?

The clerics is it supposed to be like clerk? lead us to the estate and a few powerful raps on the heavy doorknocker we start to think the cleric was pickpocketed again, but the door opens eventually, attesting again to the sheer size of the estate. The man at the door introduces himself as Geeves the Manservent heartily and knows all about the rental and is anxious to make himself available to us.

The estate itself is truly rather reasonable; a typical city townhome with apartments upstairs in addition to the main floor’s kitchen, dining room and even a reasonably stocked library. Sadron clears up food and meal times, you know those guys are all about ‘what exact moment it is right now and whether i should pray or not’ and how that will alter around mealtimes, which need to be predicted and planned so you can pray around them. Ain’t nobody got time for that shit, so I bounced upstairs and claimed a room at the end of the hall. Key in the open door lock just like they said, spacious dresser yawning empty and best of all a real bed stuffed with, well, I know better than to look too close, but legitimate blankets and pillows. The place was such a comfortable relief I barely got the door closed before collapsing on the pillows. Sleeping with a sword strapped on is not very comfortable, so I was able to hope Alder Stone was right about the SeaHag thing while I threw my pack and swordbelt in the armoire before falling into a pork-induced slumber.

BONG!! BONG!! BONG!! GONG!! GONG!! DING!! DING!! BING!!

Some bigass loud sound pulls me from my dreamless slumber and I must admit that I feel stronger, more normal again. I’m not starving, but I head downstairs to the kitchen and hearth to find the source of that obnoxious racket. It came from a tall grandfather clock next to the hearth, and I can only hope its not like the bird clocks some elves find so appealing, chirping as loud as their gears will allow at specific intervals. Particular tasteless homes prefer their clocks to chime every hour for a total of 24 times a day. Luckily the sound acts as a deterrant and those people are usually easy to avoid.
Next to the hearth, as Geeves is cooking hard in the kitchen Sadron and Glim are strapping down Sadron’s armor. Shortly we’re assembled at the large dining table finishing plates of thick cut bacon and fried eggs. I’m definitely feeling full strength these days; its invigorating simply to not be incapacitated!

Another series of bells rips through the estate, this time coming from the city belltower signaling the ninth hour and official start of the commercial workday. Before we head out I trouble Geeves for another ale and egg and he complies without too much more than a quizzical look, much to my relief. Knocking back the traditional hero’s breakfast trademark we head out to meet the Deacon.

You could tell we were getting into the Temple district because the expensive fine clothes of the nobles began giving way to the expensive fine robes of the priesthood, and the increasinly fine estates often prominently feature the no-doors at least in the front! often found on public temples. The namesake of the district is an enormous snow white cathedral-like temple with a gilded roof and, ironically, two huge wooden doors attended by pristine guardsmen. Obviously the building was constructed with the purpose of “drawing the eye of god” but the effect was so successful I feel like an insect under a glass; like I’m actually being observed by a giant ready to smash my whole world. Its rather unnerving.
Eventually Sadron speaks some mumbo jumbo to the guardsmen and they dutifully run off to facilitate our meeting with the Deacon. They prepare us by imploring respect and lead us through the temple to a large, ornate office, the door of which is opened by our guide/attendant but instead of entering he beckons us to do so instead. Peculiar, but classic religious behaviour and I naturally walk right in.

The man in the regal, ornate vestments before us can only be Deacon Orin, and to see him in his robes and his age one does not stretch far to find the inspiration to his nickname the Onion Priest. hah, who knows, maybe it’ll catch on! He asks us what we seek, and without buttering him up asking about the Feud tournament or some other reasonable small talk, Garil immediately asks about Nilos, Neelos, whatever, and the book of madness! Dwarves and Tact, honestly, but even still I thought we all knew this was supposed to be rather quiet knowledge. Although maybe the Dwarf was right, everybody keeps saying that this is our man, the only one who can help us so he may as well know now?

I tell you what Orin seems uneasy with the information. He wonders how we came upon this information and with barely a word Glim hands him over the cursed book. Seriously what is it with these tiny people and their brains!? If Onion wasn’t uneasy before, now were ALL clearly uneasy, and the Deacon frankly demands to know how we came to possess the book. He seems especially interested in whether there were two demon children or just one, and who exactly led us into the trap. The harder I try to remember the fuzzier the details seem. Some guy wanted us to find his lost kids, but when we found them one had killed the other and apparently become a powerful demon, much more powerful than a mere werewolf we’ve found. So i guess it was only one, which is significant in whatever prophecy he was mumbling about, which I’m sure he’ll share whenver he’s good and ready (you don’t push people with that much power in their home city). I gather that ‘The revelation of Nilos’ resurrection may instigate prophecy and the return of Nilos’ power’ and he summons Kirin and Rin from a back room to vouch for our stories.

Ever the diplomat, Garil begins gruffly quizzing Rin on location of the eye of the Basilisk, which we learn to be the eyestones for a hundred foot tall, solid gold statue of Pelor. As such, and you can guess, they won’t be given up for anything as the statue is a holy relic which the city was founded around in the first place. That one eye was missing for so long is already enough of an affront to Pelor, already more than these people can bear.
The Deacon can indeed administer the test of worthiness to allow entry into the tournament he admits, but the examination/test will have to take place at midnight, although I didn’t catch the location as he quickly ushered us out. I suppose we could always show up at the temple and see what happens.

DAMN now thats an account! I deserve a tankard. Heartseeker, old boy, good Ranger, why don’t you fetch me one ;)

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Rurik2006

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