Nick Nichols

Clojure Developer and Dungeon Master

The Thief and The Knight

As the party begins wandering through Pebram’s Row, they are overwhelmed by the flood of refugees seeking shelter for the night. The guards frantically push themselves through the crowds, trying to instill some sort of order, but it is of little use. Those lucky enough to have travelled with a larger group are tightly packed together, and the unfortunate stragglers are being picked off left and right by those looking to make quick coin. Thaelen and Birdie’s sordid pasts keep the party’s wallets safe, despite several close calls with pickpockets and con artists. Most are driven away once they’re discovered; however, one enterprising halfling manages to catch their attention. His well-cared-for hair, mischevious smile, and unbuttoned shirt would normally spell trouble- but, trouble is the primary expertise of our adventurers.

“You’re not like these wide-eyed folk. I can tell you’ve seen a thing or two, and know your way through these times. Stop by the Gilded Mare when you’re ready to rest and drink up. We have a… discount for people who know to keep a hand on their purse.”

Upon hearing that the alcohol of the city had not vanished, Thaelen immediately begins begging the rest of the group to stop for a drink. Having experienced the terrors of drying out once already, he pleads until their collective will is broken. They muscle their way through the crowds to a small, unkempt building and eventually force their way up to the bar. Not seeing any available places to sit, they strike up a conversation with their new friend.

“The name is Eothan. Eothan Millard. Looks like you wised up and saw how dire the situation is out there. Crazy with all that dragon business and what-not.”

Krug, distrusting off all except Jack, narrows his eyes into a concentrated squint, “What do you know about it?”

“Me? Nothing really. A bunch of fellas attacked the crowd, and one of them blew himself straight to the Nine Hells the way I hear it told. Were you all so unfortunate as to see it?”

Clegane shakes his head, “Nah, we’re just here on… business.”

Intrigued, Eothan leans in, “And just what type of business is that?”

Recognizing the obvious tell, Thaelen whispers, “Looking for what’s on the market. Information or otherwise.”

“I understand. You know, we just got some food shipped in yesterday, and I could use a hand carrying it up here. Would you bigguns mind helping me out? Might be able to make it worth your while.”

Jack, ever vigilant, prepares his book and quill. The rest of the party cautiously follows Eothan as he leads them through a back room, into a cellar, and past a few series of curtains. Eothan reaches into several bundles of straw and produces a few bolts of velvet, which he unrolls to reveal a small variety of illicit goods. As they glance through, the party sees several icons of darker faiths, vials filled with unusual powders, and three pristine silver dragon scales.

Birdie, in awe, asks, “Are those..”

“Genuine, my dear. I know a person or two or three.”

Jack, possessed by an unusual fervor, all-too-excitedly asks, “And what are their names?”

“A secret. You don’t stay alive too long in this game without secrets. These are rare finds, and with our present… situation, costly. Now are we talking, or are we talking?”

Thaelen drunkenly stammers, “How much for the scales?”

“Three thousand.”

“We obviously don’t have that with us here. Do you mind if sleep on it and talk to some of our friends?”

“I see no problem in it. A lot easier to trust if you all are staying here too.”

“For free?”

“Of fucking course not. Do you know how much I can charge right now? I’d be dumber than a doorknob to give away half my rooms for free. I can sell you three at a discounted rate. It’s one gold per room per night.”

The party bickers for a moment, but ultimate agrees. Eothan leads them to their rooms where they pair off and proceed to block all of the doors and windows they have. Despite the noise below, they’re able to get some relatively sound sleep. They quickly regroup the next morning, and almost immediately agree on their next steps: jumping Eothan. As the walk down the stairs, they see that every square inch of the Golden Mare has been rented out for “boarding.”

After a light breakfast, they reconvene downstairs with their all-too-trusting halfling friend. Pulled away from any prying eyes, Krug and Clegane immediately throw Eothan to the ground. Jack, filled with an unholy fervor stares down upon him, “So, about these friends of yours.”

“You know I can’t talk about it. You’ve seen what they did to the town, and can you imagine what they’d do to a poor, innocent soul like me?”

Clegane and Krug begin to press their collective weight down, as Jack makes an offer, “You don’t have to worry about them if they’re dead.”

Eothan stares at the group, paying the most mind to the hulking brutes shoving him into the dirt, and relents. “Fine, they’re holed up in Crooked Creek Knoll. It’s an old smuggler den about half a day straight west. Follow the first creek you encounter to the wood. When you get to the ol’ tree that was struck by lightning, follow that fork until you’re face-to-face with a cave. You take care of this, but never mention my name, alright? We’re friends helping friends here.”

The barbarians relent, and let the halfling jump back to his feet. Thaelen agrees to the terms, “Yeah, friends helping friends to some drinks.” He continues laughing to himself as the group gives him an estranged look. The halfling nods, and he charges upstairs to have his fill. The rest of the group eventually joins him, but are quickly distracted by a commotion in the streets.

Thaelen grabs their beers, and rushes to follow them. Despite the thick, dense crowds a sizable gap has opened up in the streets. The party shoves the way through the crowd, to see five soldiers in full suits of heavy plate mail. Their dark black armaments each bearing symbols of the God-Emperor of the Idravalli people. Leading their ranks is a steely haired grey human hulking over a tiefling man scrambling back towards a wall. In a cold even tone, the man brings forth his accusations, “You will submit to my authority. Tell me when you were first corrupted by these dark powers.”

The man begins to stutter a response, but begins choking on his tears. Thaelen, now too drunk to respond to the better judgement he alleges to possess, accosts the Inquisitor, “Ayy, you looking for them guys too?”

Stricken with rage, the man turns around, “I seek all who would obstruct our lord’s will. What allegiance do you possess with these heretics.”

“I, uhh, none? Just wanted to see if we could help.”

“Yes, help them. Plant the seeds of doubt in our investigation.”

Thaelen, now a mere inches away from the Inquisitor, does his best to maintain his composure, “Nah man, we’re all on the same side, right?”

Before he can answer, three of the local city guards come running up. The young man leading them calls out, “Lord Inquisitor, the palace wishes to remind you that you’re still within our jurisdiction. This investigation is our charter.”

“Very well. I shall respect your queen’s wishes, for the moment.” He walks away, and his acolytes follow him without question. As the Inquisitor walks away, he turns his head and stares deep into Thaelen’s soul. Disturbed by the entire encounter, Thaelen turns to the guard that intervened, “What’s up that guy’s ass?”

The young man, a human with dusty blonde hair, goatee, and the armor of a conscript, sighs, “They’re the representatives of the Idravalli Empire here for Lysanderoth’s passing. The queen insisted upon their presence as a sign of good will, but I knew this would happen. They’re dangerous, even to their own kind, so I’d steer clear. Every day they stay here, they take over more and more of this investigation. It’d be best if we got to the bottom of this quickly: people are getting restless.”

Jack slinks forward revealing his surprising charm, “Agreed! We should find those naughty ne’er-do-well’s and put them in their place. There’s a lead we’re following that could put an end to this. What do you say? Could you help us out?”

The man nods to himself, “Very well. I shall assist you on this quest. Marion Theodred, at your service!”

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