With Dancer’s paranoia, he started checking his room for any spyholes, hidden areas, or anything off with the room, and he found nothing.  His single person room, while somewhat nice was still far from the luxury back at the Blackbutter Inn in Red Larch.  The rooms here also lacked the magical protections that made him feel somewhat safer.

The discussion moved to the fact that the statue had moved from ISAC to Vladimir. Ace wondered what would happen if it ever was able to accumulate all four elements.  It was pointed out that it already was able to utilize all four elements, and when it moved gain additional powers of the four elements.  When asked about if ISAC felt any different, he claimed he was still the same and did not have felt possessive at all about it.  Vladimir concurred that he does not have any of those feelings.

From there they talked about if they should split because half the party was more noticeable than the rest.  It might make sense to have one group operate more obviously, but as Vladimir pointed out, that if the cultists were here, they most likely already had accurate descriptions of the entire party.

Vladimir led the discussion to strategize on what they should be looking for and asking about. He suggested that they get a better idea of the political landscape with Womford and Bargewright Inn. It was suggested that they look into Feston more and if they could figure out if he was involved with the cultists or not. Dancer said he would be looking around for at least the first part of the day trying to get some basic information and general vibe of the town.  

They started trying to figure out what things they needed to shop for as well.  Both Angelica’s and Vladimir’s plate had been chewed up somewhat severely by the shark-tooth swords of the Reavers.  There was also a request for a lute and blacksmith tools, as well as many other small items that people needed.  Dancer also suggested that if they were supposed to mercenaries, then they could also use that as an excuse to look around and ask questions.  This led to a longer discussion on what they should call themselves. After many very bad and poor puns, they finally settled on the Seven Blades.

Yllanys went downstairs to get his own room with Kieren following invisibly with Fwoosh heading down to the dining room invisible as well.  After getting his room he headed to the bar and sat and listened to the rowdy people in bar. Between the two of them they were able to hear several different rumors and things that were being talked about.

“Ever notice how Feston gets twitchy when anyone mentions Womford? I bet he’s got some skeletons in his closet that have to do with that town.”

A few merchants heatedly discuss a recent hike in tariffs that seem to be influenced by outside pressures, possibly from Womford, where new power players have emerged. They also heard about a story where a bunch of adventurers were being chased by a dragon and had managed to fireball the wooden bridge into oblivion.  There is not a stone bridge that crosses River Dessarin that replaced it.

Everyone then settled into their rooms setting up different defensive precautions depending on their level of paranoia and slept for the night.

12th of Flamerule of the year 1492

With morning having arrived, everyone except Yllanys came down for some breakfast. Everyone then stated where they wanted to go for the morning.  Angelica headed to the Haeleth’s Horseshoes, Ace to the Shondrin’s Packsack of Plenty, Dancer visited many of the stores spreading around gold and trying to catch any rumors, Fwoosh to the Stalls looking for some armor, ISAC and Vladimir headed to Tabra’s, and finally once Yllanys came down he wandered around town until he found Ace and followed him clandestinely looking for anyone tailing Ace.

Upon entering Tabra’s, ISAC and Vladimir were escorted to a round booth.  Looking around they could see many of the other tables, all round booths were occupied by men and women who were all being served by men and women.  It was a fairly quiet place of people enjoying themselves with other people.  It was not long before two women came by and sat at the table sitting very close to both of them.  The girls were leaning in and touching the two as they introduced themselves.

“What can we get you?”

“A menu.”

“We do not really have a menu; everything is just sort of ala carte. But if you are looking for food, we do have a daily meal, which would be breakfast right now. You can choose how you would like it served.”

“Plates, I think.”

“Oh, you want the mundane serving method. I see.  We can send over a pretty boy over here instead of me.”

“Uh, I, uh, I don’t know, um, the plates would be fine.”

“I’ll send Charles over to deliver the, uh, meal to you.”

“I think we are just here for the food and visibility, kind of.”

Before the food arrived, ISAC and Vladimir discussed their options and that it might be difficult to approach anyone in Tabra’s.  They agreed talking to the staff might be helpful, but how to do so. A young thin man came over with their food and sat next to Vladimir as close as he could and started cutting the food and slowly feeding him each bite.

“Charles, I presume.”

“Yes. Say ah.”

When asking about Feston, Charles explained that Feston did wander around a lot of ordering people around.  But the command on the other hand Chalaska Muruin used to come in regularly, but in the last six months she has hardly been in Tabra’s at all.

“She used to be here almost every night.”

“What happened?”

“I do not know; she just seems to be stressed out and I’ve offered to soothe her nerves.”

“This seems like the place to go if you are stressed.”

“Oh, it definitely is. [to ISAC] I want to hear about you too.  You are a strange looking man.  Elizabeth said you do not feel the way you look.”

Explaining what they came in for.  Asking about something more social and less “business.” Charles let them know that most of the other mercenary groups are probably at the Wet Crossing. Vladimir started asking questions about what rumors they had heard.  Charles seemed a little unhappy and waved over an almost childishly small woman and told her that these gentlemen wanted the special drink.

Tabra

After collecting 100gp from the two, Charles led them to another area deeper into the festhall until they came to a room where Tabra waited for them behind a table.

“Alright gentlemen, you paid for some for some time to have questions answered. What might you want to know?”

“We have heard a number of rumors in our short time in town.”

“Yes, you arrived last night, and you are staying at the Old Bargewright Inn.”

“Maybe that should be our first question, how much do you know about our group.”

“100 gold will not cover that question.  For 500 gold I will answer some of that question.  100 gold got you into this room to talk to me.”

“What can you tell us about Feston Bargewright and his second in command Chalaska Muruin.”

“General history will be cheap, something specific will be more expensive.”

“We have heard that Chalaska has been stressed out and potentially stopped coming here recently. Is their relationship good, is there tension between them?”

“50 gold pieces.”

“Six months ago, he changed.  Chalaska is his right-hand man.  It is not that they are really contesting against each other.  Their behaviors have changed. Chalaska has gotten more paranoid.  Sometimes muttering to herself.  Looking for spies.  In fact, both of them have a small red crystal.  They will grasp and look at it.  They are not usually together and doing their own tasks and such, but they will both have the same behavior, stopping in the middle of something, even in the middle of a sentence, as if a new thought comes to their head. Six months ago, a group of men in reddish cloaks and robes all arrived at the same time and they have not been seen since, nor have they been seen leaving.  Whether that is related or not, there is not any confirmation. I do know that that the organization that Feston owes his allegiance to is getting unhappy with him. I have heard they will send an investigator at some point.”

“Tell us what organization that is.”

“500 gold pieces.”

“I think we will manage that one on our own. Have you heard of the man-bat supposedly running around a haunted mill?”

“50 gold pieces.”

“How about five?”

“For that I will point a direction for you.”

“okay.”

“It is five miles that way.  It is a burned down mill.  It burned down at least 50 years ago. 25 gold more, I will tell you more about the Man-Bat and the old mill.”

“Will it be useful?”

“That is for you to determine.  You pay the price that I quote, and you get the information.  Everything has its own value.”

“Where do you get your information?”

“Where are we?  For 2,500 gold I will tell you that.”

“For whom do you collect your information?”

“To sell, and that will be one of the few freebies.”

“Do you know what those red crystals you mentioned are?  What’s the purpose of them?  Where do they come from?

“I do not have a price on that information.”

“Okay, we will pay the 25 gold for that man-bat information.”

“It is false.  Going to the mill won’t do anything.  Supposedly he got involved with some vampires.  He used to be a priest, why would a priest be at a mill.  He does give enigmatic messages.  We have tried to making sense of them. None have, at least to none of us listening.  He does not come in here.  He seems to be more circumspect about entering some places.”

“But is he at the old mill?”

“No, he is not. Why would a priest ever have been there.”

“Who would have planted that story?”

“Sometimes stories come out of nothing.  There are old men and women who just like to talk.  You look like a former military man, and you have never told a tall tale of a battle you have been in or told a tale and someone else told it.  It kinds of grows and changes the story as it progresses to different people. It is the same thing here.”

“Okay, final question.  We have heard a rumor that there is a tunnel under the river.”

“I will give you this one for free.  No.”

“What is something that we would be interesting in knowing that we do not know about yet?”

“10,000 gold pieces.”

“I think that is a bit too high for us.”

“The more ambiguous you get the more expensive the information gets.”

“Besides information do you happen to sell anything else other than services?”

“What were you interested in?  I am not really a shop here.”

“I am a person who finds interest in Dwarven goods, in particular I like Dwarven history and there is quite a bit of it in this valley.  I am always keeping an eye out for any.”

“Under this hill there is what is left of an old Dwarven fort.  That is why it is a hill.”

“Does anybody ever go down there?”

“It’s buried, that’s why it’s a hill.”

Winding up their conversation, Vladimir did ask about if they could sell information as well and was told that it would have to be something very interesting for her to want to have it.

On the other side of town, Fwoosh started wandering the Stalls.  There were many different craftsmen there.  It looked like all the buildings had multiple shops in them and everything looked more temporary than permanent for the vendors. Heading to one of the leather vendors he negotiated for some studded leather to replace his shredded leather armor. As he continued to wander, he found himself in a “witchy” type of store.

In the witchy type of store, Fwoosh introduced himself and made his request.  When getting some clarification from him, she brought a box of specialized tools that would be useful at Tabra’s. Nothing in the bin was of interest to Fwoosh, so he brought out his Death Fortune card and asked about it.  That is when she offered to do a reading for Fwoosh.  Going into the back room, she started shuffling a deck and as he watched the cards started flying around her until they all settled into her hands.

Death Card

“I do not think that I can do a reading for you.  Just take these cards with you.”

“Okay.”

“It looks like you are weaving your own fate not allowing others to dictate it.”

“That is awfully kind of you.  I will hopefully do something good with them, and I will.  I will.”

“If you need more, come back and I will be happy to sell you the next deck.”

“We heard about a man-bat near a mill.  Do you know much about that?”

“There are a lot of people in town that move in the shadows and probably half of it has been that. So, there have been of seeing people fly in the sky in the night. Of course, in the age of wizards that is not such a big deal.”

“Of course.”

“It is not like those damn hippogriff riders.”

“I don’t like them.”

“They are arrogant.  They occasionally go to Tabra’s, but they seem to land here sometimes, and then sometimes they’ll land over in Womford.  There always seems to be a group of them flying over at some point.  Who knows what they are doing. They are very snooty and call themselves knights or something like that.”

“Yeah, they must be doing lots of surveying or something. I do not know of what is of value here.”

“They have been around for about five or six years and have been increasing in quantity since then.  It has been the last year or that we have seen the most of them. I have only been here about a year and a half and will probably move in another couple of months I will be moving on.”

“Where to?”

“I won’t go to Goldenfields, it is just a big religious area, and they tend to burn people who are different from them.  Probably somewhere down south.”

At Haeleth’s Horseshoes, Angelica discussed the price for repairing her armor and not willing to make an immediate decision, chose not to leave hers there.  She was able to pick up a Smithing Toolset for Ace. As some backup armor, she also purchased a chain shirt. Wanting to relax a bit, she headed to Tabra’s where she spent the rest of the morning with her personal caretaker Thor.

Haeleth

Ace was seeking some sort of musical instrument and was hoping that Shondrin’s Packsack of Plenty would have one for him. He was met by Shondrin, and odd fellow that spoke too fast and wanted to make a sale, no matter what it might be. While he did not have a lute in stock, he promised he would be able to have one ready by the morning for Ace. The most confusing purchase that he attempted was some slices or a loaf of bread.  While not the most shocking thing that Shondrin has been asked for, it was probably the most mundane.  He sent Ace to one of the taverns in town for bread since it was not something he would carry and did not care to.

Shondrin

Upon leaving the Packsack of Plenty, he noticed that Yllanys was doing a less than stellar performance in hiding and following him.  Ignoring the wink from Yllanys, he made his way to Tabra’s. He briefly saw Angelica who was quickly led away by Thor leaving Ace with Austin as Ace tried to order some bread and Austin kept taking it in a very different direction than he expected.  He was finally able to make it clear he only wanted some bread.  Austin changed an incredible amount for some bread and shooed Ace out of the building.

With his newly acquired bread, Ace headed to the docks to talk to some seagulls. Still being new to this form of magic, his attempts to communicate with very small, brained birds proved to be fairly fruitless, but he was able to feed them well.

Yllanys who had been following Ace decided that the Stalls were more of his interest than following Ace outside of the town. He stopped by a small shop that claimed to have some dragon dung. Arguing that he should be allowed to test it before buying, Yllanys left discouraged by the rejection.

Visiting all the stores and shops, Dancer made his way around the town spending gold in every place and chatting with the local working in each one. He had some interesting discussions and was able get a few new rumors. It was at Rinthar’s Wagonworks where he was able to get the most interesting conversations.

“A young lad here claimed he found an old coin with a strange symbol by the riverbank. His mother threw it back into the water, fearing it was cursed. Said it looked like it was crying.”

“You know, Chalaska used to be a good man, but now he’s all hush-hush. Last week, he nearly took my head off for asking about his new friends from across the river.”

“You mean Womford?”

“That is the rumor said.  He has been carrying around this little red stone and every once in a while, stops and stares at it as if lost in thought or talking to himself.”

“You think that maybe he is going kind of crazy?”

“No one would tell him that because he is really good with the sword and has proved it many times.”

“Well, that sounds creepy.”

“Both he and Feston have turned kind of creepy lately.”

“Who is Feston?”

“He is the one that runs this whole place.”

“I would have thought it would have been one of the Bargewright’s.”

“It is, he is Feston Bargewright. Feston still swears about some woman named Olga.  Claims that she plucked out his eye and ate it.”

“I do not know what to say about that.”

“It happened 20 years ago and only the older guys remember it.”

“I don’t need to worry about someone eating my eyes right now.”

“The only person that has been here for a very long time is the half-elf who runs Old Bargewright Inn, Nalaskur Thaelond.  He’s been around for about 40 to 50 years. He had supposedly helped Feston to take the ownership of this place.  Feston did have eight brothers and sisters, and the only one left is Aldon.  All the rest of them floated down the river.

”Wow, well, obviously we are new in town and part of a mercenary group.  Would you know anyone who is looking for a small crew?”

The chat went on a bit longer with Dancer being directed to one of the taverns such as the one in Old Bargewright Inn or the Wet Crossing.  He also suggested waiting at the gate and greeting some of the incoming merchants and seeing if any of them needed guards.  Dancer asked about a part-time job with the guards themselves and was informed that the guards are fairly particular about who works with them, and most of the guard positions have been passed from father to son.

When prompted for something more chemically recreational, he whispered to Dancer that supposedly you can get some of that in Womford at the Temple of Chauntea and Valkur.  But did not know the specifics, only a rumor. Dancer then went to the Stalls to see if there were any additional rumors he could pick up.

“They say the man-bat was once a priest who meddled with forbidden powers. Now he’s cursed to fly the night, warning us of dangers we’re too blind to see.”

With everyone having completed their errands, they all met back at the Old Bargewright Inn.  Angelica passed on the Smith’s Tools to Ace, and everyone brought their lunch up to Dancer’s room. Vladimir relayed what he had learned at Tabra’s. His biggest theory was that there were fire cultists underground somewhere, probably in the buried old Dwarven fortress below them. The rest also shared what they had learned from wandering around the town. Both Vladimir and ISAC questioned the veracity of the information and that they should still investigate the mill to confirm it was a dead end.

When the conversation came to the organization that Feston belonged to, Dancer admitted that he was the investigator from that organization that had been sent down here to find out what was wrong. Dancer suggested that the source of the issue might come from Womford or maybe below the town, but he believed that there was more evidence pointing to Womford. Since it was already very late afternoon, they decided that tomorrow would be a better day to head to the old mill instead of trying to trek there tonight.

Deciding that they still had time for a little more intelligence gathering, Dancer and Vladimir headed to the bar in the Old Bargewright Inn while the rest made their way to the Wet Crossing.

The two staying at the Inn went into the bar heading for a table somewhat near the middle of the room.  Trying to be circumspect, Dancer looked around occasionally looking for Nalaskur, but the half-elf never showed, even after being in the bar for several hours. They were able to overhear several groups talking.

“The water levels near Womford have been oddly high this season, even without much rain. Some say it’s unnatural, the work of those who walk with wet feet.”

“I heard from a reliable source that Feston’s been meeting with some cloaked strangers at odd hours. They’re not from around here, and they carry the scent of the river on them.”

At some point of the evening, they spotted Feston, and his brother Aldon show up and move to a table.  Food and drink were brought to the two brothers, and they seemed to be arguing about something over the meal.  After an hour, they both left.

Feston Bargewright

Aldon Bargewright

The rest of the party arrived at the Wet Crossing.  The entire building was a combination of bar and dining area.  The clientele was mostly mercenaries and locals. Looking around for anyone familiar but nothing came up.  Getting drinks, the group sat at a table with Fwoosh playing some cards and the rest watching. Using Keirin to listen in on some conversations they also caught some rumors.

“I heard from one of the caravan guards that the boats coming from Womford carry not just goods, but also cloaked figures. They don’t mix with the locals and disappear as soon as they land.”

“I wouldn’t go nosing around about Womford if I were you. Last person who got too curious about the goings-on there hasn’t been seen for weeks.”

At some point Ace started buy drinks for everyone in the place keeping the cheer high and made the entire Wet Crossing increase in volume. Using this opportunity Ace sat at several of the tables getting some stories from them and telling some of his own tall tells, most of which include some curious details about some of the places they had been. At one of the tables, he was given some names of merchants that might be looking for guards. Some of the other talk reiterated some of the rumors they had already heard about bodies floating down the river, cursed coins, and a few other tall stories.

While Ace was mingling, Fwoosh joined a card game and was caught by surprise that three of the men he was facing where somehow team cheating and beat him on most of the hands. But while playing, he did get a little more information. Fwoosh brought up the rumor about the man-bat at the old mill, and it was a familiar rumor to them, but they did add to it, that the man-bat has been seen around the area for at least a decade.  The mill rumor seems to be a more recent rumor to them. It also came up that Feston and Chalaska had been acting a little weird of late, but since their merchant boss only came by once a year, it was hard to tell. Chalaska has been a lot more paranoid and inspecting cargo a lot more closely and having less tolerance for smuggling which did not used to matter at all.

Once he figured it out that they were cheating, he gave a small applause and told them “Bravo.” And went back to the party’s table. The group then headed back and linked up with the two they had left behind and headed to Dancer’s room again.  Sharing what each had learned they started planning for their morning. This is when Fwoosh found a note in his pocket which read:

“History repeats its etched sorrows; yesterday’s sigils become tomorrow’s horrors.”

Which then generated a little more conversation, but not much. When the discussions were completed, they all headed to their rooms to rest for the evening.

13th of Flamerule of the year 1492

Morning arrived, and this is where the session ended.