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Primeval Thule - #2 Red Chains


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Gather round little Princes and you too Princess. I have another tale for you.” The old scribe settle into the cushions as the children took places near him. Princess Iradea sat right next to the ancient storyteller “Is the Arrow of Shadows in it?” She asked excitedly. The great Scribe chuckled. “Perhaps...”

 

Neeva sat tending the fire, she would have rather been with Tharra and Aridha hunting but with the men, Yngvar and Alberich, getting supplies in the village, someone had to stay and tend the camp. She didn't waste her time she had a fire going and the big copper pot had water on to boil, and now she settled back to compose her latest song. Suddenly a loud creaking sound drew her attention to the old Oak behind her. Her eyes sought the origin and fell on one of the largest limbs just as it cracked and fell. She deftly rolled out of the way as the huge limb crashed to the ground and smashed her fire spilling the water from the pot dousing the flames.

Neeva got up saw that the end of the limb was rotten. She frowned and went to the tree it appeared healthy her gaze traveled up to the jagged end where the limb broke. In a fluid motion she scaled the tree and peered closely at the place where the dead limb had been. The tree had fooled her it looked healthy and strong but the insides were dead and rotting.

Saddened at the revelation Neeva climbed down and went about moving the fire to a place where further falls would not prove a danger. When she went to retrieve the pot she saw that it had been bent badly by the impact of the limb, she chuckled, no worry we have a dwarf he can beat it back into shape. But then she noticed something. A crack in the bottom, turning the pot over she saw that the bottom of the pot had split from edge to edge. The split running straight thru the Qudeth tax stamp. She looked at the tree, at the dead limb on the ground and at the pot in her hands. Her frown returned.

 

Alberich and Yngvar waited in the pisshole these people called a tavern for their supplies to be gathered and delivered. The village was a sight better than other they had seen in recent weeks, it was situated on the road leading out of the forest before the hills of Ammurath. They traveled this way mainly because of the wizard and the ha;fling both had heard that the men they sought had traveled this way and had convinced the rest to come in search of riches and hoped for glory. And also because they had little else to occupy them.

Alberich drains his mug of the beer which was surprisingly good his eye still on the man sitting a few tables away. The man was Ammuranth Hillman who had been casting his eye their way for a good long time now.

“Wot!?! Do I got something in my beard?”

The Barbarian Hillman stiffened and Yngvar looked up from the parchment he had been scribbling on.

“Pardon my lord, no offense was meant but correct me if I am wrong. Are you not the The Freeblade Alberich of Kal-Zinan, from the songs? I ask be cause of the mace-axxe you carry Lord.”

Alberich sits a bit straighter,Yngvar stifles a laugh. “I am he but no Lord am I.” Announces the stout dwarf. The hillman bows his head “As you say my...sir.”

He stands and moves to their table Both tense a spell coming to Yngvars mind while Alberich readies to defend. “My name is Bearn Tuham, a warrior sworn to service of my warlord Evarr Hallborn. May I sit?”

Alberich relaxes and gestures to a seat. Yngvar folds up his parchment and leans forward to listen.

Evarr Hallborn is a powerful lord amongst our clan, and a good man to have on your side or in your debt. My chief has need of mercenaries from outside our clan. Your exploits have traveled far Freeblade Alberich and that of your companions. If you might be interested in gold and making a friend among the clans. Meet with him in his long house it is less than a days travel. If you need time I can wait here for you to gather your friends.

 

Spoiler

welcome to episode two Aridha and Tharra nothing out of the ordinary happens to you all you can roleplay your hunt or simply return to camp. Alberich and Yngvar you should return to camp and tell the woman about the job offer. this is just a prelude to give you some rp time.

 

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Yngvar sat back, tankard in hand as he assessed the Barbarian, content for the moment to let Alberich to steer the conversation. The proposal itself was interesting. Most races had a fondness for gold and the Nimothans favoured it more than most others. Few peoples raided as heavily as his did and the primary motivation in it was wealth. The real value here, though, was in making friends. A warrior was only as strong as his shield brother, and having the favour of a Warlord was not something to sneer at.

He takes a draft from his mug before his eyes settled on Alberich, a single eyebrow raised in query.

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"Coming back to you!"

The cry came from ahead of Tharra and to the left. She could also hear the rustling noises of the halfling woman and her bloody big wolf rampaging around over there. That was intentional of course...they knew how to be quiet when they wanted. But in this case the goal was to make noise...they wanted to be sure the deer knew exactly where they were. Astride her wolf, the huntress couldn't be easily outrun.

That combined with the rocks and fallen tree blocking any other easy path left the deer one way out. Directly at Tharra.

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Alberich had been doing the freeblade business for longer than most humans had lived. Not that a freeblade of a comparative whelp's age wouldn't take this opportunity. Ygnvar definitely looked interested, and he probably could convince the ladies to come along. But, as ever, garner some information first. Basic rule of life: know what you're agreeing to.

"What sort of thing we looking at here, Tuham?"

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Neeva looked at the broken pot in her hand and sighed. She was not terribly familiar with metal cookware, having grown up in the Dhar Mesh, but since she had been traveling with her new companions she had noted the options that cooking in a copper gave them. She did not know much about metalworking, but it was obvious that this damage was well beyond the ease of simply pounding out a few dents. They would likely need to either acquire a new pot or find a place with suitable tools to repair it.

There was, in theory, a third option, but it was one that Neeva was still unsure how she felt about. In their talks over the many weeks since the battle atop the tower in Quodeth, Yngvar had spoken of arcane powers. He called them spells and rituals, ways to focus of arcane energy to achieve a certain effect. He said that it was a simple, almost effortless matter to repair objects such as this with the right spell.

Neeva was familiar enough with rituals, they were common among the Dhari. They were ways of paying homage to the Forest Gods and the spirits of the slain animals they hunted and many other things. They were gestures of respect and sometimes prayer, though certainly not magic. But those cultists atop the tower... they were indeed doing a ritual and using the circle they had drawn to bring something unnatural into this world from some thrice damned hell, and it was indeed some sort of foul sorcery.

Sorcery was something that she, and most people for that matter, did not react well to. At best people were distrustful of it. And why shouldn't that be? it can transform people into unnatural beasts, bring fire from the sky, summon otherworldly horrors and countless other terrible things. Neeva had also seen that such arcane power could accomplish good things as well. Yngvar brought his sorcery to bare on the beast atop the tower, summoning fire, arcane blasts and even toppling the tree with rolling thunder. Even the information they had gained about the ritual was due to Malok's magic, though he did pay for it with his sanity for at leash a short while. His magic had even saved her and the girl tied to he back when she lost her grip on the rope.

This had all caused Neeva to change her view on magic somewhat. It was not some innately evil thing, no more than a wolf or fire or a sword. But like the wolf, it would always be a bit wild and though it could be trained to a degree, you never knew when it would bite you. You could guide it and direct it, but never truly controlled it. Fire too nobody ever truly controlled, but if you respected it fire could keep your warm, cook your feed and keep animals away. And like a sword in that you can do good or evil with it, protecting your family or slaughtering innocents, but in the hands of the unskilled it was nearly as much of a danger to themselves as it was to others and could cause harm unintentionally. 

Since seeing her in action that night atop the tower, Yngvar had spoken to Neeva of arcane magics and how her stories and songs were more than just inspirational (or demotivating to enemies), but were actually magical. 'Words have power.' was what he told her. Neeva was unsure of what to make of it though. She was no sorceress, but she could not deny how telling the great and terrible beast of it's on oncoming death had made in run from her in such a panic that it was not even concerned with the stabs and slashes it would receive. She had seen how her stories could inspire others to keep fighting and shrug off wounds and how her songs and stories could help people relax and recover. Her stories were vivid to be sure, often to the point that people could smell and hear things that only existed in the stories, but was that all magic? Is that why the Wise Woman picked her to be trained as a Talespinner? Neeva could not be sure, but she knew she was no sorceress.

If there was magic in her stories, the she was unsure of whence it came, but it was becoming clear to Neeva that she was destined to do more than tell stories and sing songs, however inspiring they may be. She had always looked up to the Wise Woman, and felt that was likely the path that had been chosen for her, but the fight atop the tower was eye opening to Neeva. She was able to help by inspiring the others, this was true, but she had to admit that Yngvar seemed to be right about something. After several stories and inspirational words they seemed to lose their effect. To her it was creative and mental fatigue, but Yngvar said it was fatigue due to the channeling of arcane energies. Regardless of the source though, Neeva knew she would not always have such inspiring words and she did not wish to make them a crutch either.

So since the battle atop the tower in Quodeth Neeva had set about preparing herself to aid in a more direct way as well. She was Dhari, and of course knew how to hunt and fight,. But the fighting they would likely continue to do and the foes they would likely face would require more than what she had learned in the Dhar Mesh. She studied with her new companions when she could, learning to use a wide variety of weapons, heavier armor, and of course a shield. She could not see herself ever moving past leather to wearing the hot, heavy and loud bronze and metals of the heavier armors. Indeed, she had even managed to get some of the hide of the beast from the tower crafted into a leather curiass for her, into which she would care and burn a record of their exploits, turning the hide of the beat, their first great foe, into not only a trophy, but also armor to protect her, making her a walking record of their adventures.

So her compnaions had seen to her instruction in the use of a shield for added protection, which also meant using something beside her two-handed warspear, something smaller and one-handed. Neeva recalled Albrich's expression when she drew her shortsword and asked if it would suffice. It struck Neeva as a little odd, for the sword had always been a weapon of last resort in her mind, but the fine steel sword, not of Dwarven, nor apparently Atlantean, manufacture  according to Albrich, certainly caught the dwarf off guard. 'Aye. That'll certainly do.' he had told her. Since that day, thanks to their training her own frequent practice, Neeva had become quite comfortable with the sword and shield and had indeed found she had quite the talent for parrying away weapon strikes of her enemies. She still traveled with warspear in hand, but when it came time for serious combat, she would often draw her sword and shield.

Done reminiscing, Neeva did what should could since boiling water was no longer an option, starting a new fire and tending it as she worked on and went over stories in her head, waiting for the others to return.

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Tharra stood still and silent, bared skin smeared with lines of mud and leaf juices to conceal her scent and sight from the oncoming prey. Despite the tremendous disparity in size, the huge half-elf and diminutive halfling were equal as hunters, complementing each other with a natural ease. Different tribes and different races perhaps, but both had survived, even thrived, under the boughs of Dhar Mesh. At least until they had interacted with men from Outside.

It was her turn to lie in wait while Aridha and her heavy-shouldered wolf flushed free the prey. Eyes lowered and narrowed to conceal any tell-tale gleam, Tharra's lip quirked in a tight-lipped grin at the sound of the fleeing doe's hooves on the animal track, other paths denied it. One... Two... her hand tightened on the dark, roughened leather binding the grip of her weapon.

Three! Tharra moved with explosive speed, the deer having no time or place to veer as her other hand joined the first on the hilt of the great Stonesword she had wrested from the heart of a mountain. The long, heavy blade cut the air with a deep, low thrum, then there was a sharp crack as its blunt edge pulverized the bones of the deer's neck. The deer fell instantly, though its swift passage carried it several feet further across the ground.

When Aridha arrived upon the back of her wolf, Tharra had already paid proper propitiation to the animal's spirit and the Forest Gods and had begun dressing the game. She nodded to the tiny woman as she made cut from anus to jawbone.

"Good kill, clean kill. Fresh meat for the fires these coming nights."

With sure hands, the barbarian woman opened the slit and pulled free the deer's entrails with a single sharp pull. She tossed the wolf some of the organs as its just due for the aid in the hunt. While the wolf ate, she cleaned out the cavity and stitched it roughly shut with gut, then cleaned her hands with the rest of the water in her waterskin. The deer dressed, Tharra stood up smoothly with it across her impressive shoulders and nodded her readiness to Aridha.

Leading the way on her wolf, bow in hand to discourage any beasts drawn to the scent of their kill, Aridha and Tharra began working their way back to camp, where they would let they would finish bleeding and butchering the deer.

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Tuham agrees and the two adventurers, Alberich and Yngvar, finish their drinking and business in the village, loaded with supplies set out to rejoin their companions.

Some time later the smell of roasting meat and light laughter greet the two as they arrive back at camp. After greetings are made and everyone helps unload and sort the supplies, they all gather round the fire in the waning light and serve up the roast venison.

The Dwarf being blunt explains of their meeting with the hillman Bearn Tuham and the offer of work by his warlord Evarr Hallborn.

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"I will go and speak with this Lord of War and hear his offer of battle and gold," Tharra said, voicing her vote on the offer as they ate. The roasted venison was good, though she had found it more difficult to find the right herbs for seasonings here than in the jungles and woods of her homeland. "The hillmen have a reputation as fierce warriors. I would see it for myself."

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"I wonder why he needs mercenaries instead of using his own men?" Neeva wondered.

"Mercenaries are expendable and not affiliated with him. The task must be too dangerous for his own men, or he cannot be linked to it. Or both." she thought aloud.

"Either way, I will not abandon friends and tribemates to peril. If you go, then so shall I."

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Over the meal of venison the heroes talk in the end each agrees, although some seem to have reservations, to at least go and hear this warlord's offer.

In the morning, before dawn, they pack up and journey to the nearby village. There they are met by Tuham and a couple of younger men from his clan, a son, Nordi, and a nephew Hader. Tuham wastes no time in getting the party moving toward the hills he is very quiet, eschewing conversation, and riding aways ahead of the group. The two youths will walk their horses and keep company with the heroes. They have no knowledge of why the Earl may require their services, but are eager to hear the stories of bands great adventures. The day goes quickly and as the sun begins to set the journey ends at the walls of the Hill fort.

Tuham leads the party thought the gate and the village inside straight to the central long house with no stops. “Nordi you and Hader go find lodgings for our friends, we have business inside.” He then gestures for the adventurers to enter to home of Earl Evarr Hallborn.

  The clan chief’s longhouse is a “palace” of barbaric splendor. Most of it is one tremendous, timber-col­umned hall. Tables, benches, and numerous fire pits are arrayed near the center of the hall. Cots and pallets covered with warm furs are pushed near the walls for sleeping. At the end of the hall opposite the single entrance, an impressive, roughly-hewn chair stands beneath the mounted head of a fantastic beast, a griffin. Seated on that chair is a man wearing a mantle made from the said beasts pelt.

A dark mood hangs over the entire hall, but especially on the man wearing the griffin mantle, whose chin rests heavily on a tightly-clenched fist.

Evarr Hallborn is a tall man and still impressively powerful despite his gray hair and beard. He wastes no time on pleasantries. The band is only halfway across the hall when he speaks loudly without raising his head. “My son has been captured by Crimson Slavers and taken to Marg, and I need someone to bring him back— bold mercenaries not of my clan, who won’t be recognized as my warriors in that cursed city.” He raises his head and looks the adventurers over one at a time.

What you must do is simple: travel to Marg, pick up my son’s trail, and buy him back. Don’t let anyone know you’re working for me, or they’ll inflate the price. Just make a quiet business transaction. That’s what these jackals understand.” His jaw works as a seething rage threatens to surface his hands clench into fists.

Once Leafstan is safely home, then our thoughts of deep revenge can take form. For now, just bring him home. Bring him back to me, and your honor and reward will be great.” Then with a wave of his hand at Bearn Tuham the lot of you are dismissed and the warlord sinks again into somber meditation.

Tuham quickly gestures for the party to join him out side the hall. “I have been told to offer six pounds of gold to each of you who take up this task one sixth up front and the rest when Leafstan is returned alive. And he must be alive, or no further payment. Do this and bring the boy back alive and gold will not be your only reward. Earl Hallborn is well known and respected among the clans, he does not forget friends and those who have done him good favor.”

 

Spoiler

1 pound of gold = 50 gold pieces

 

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"Yes. 20 Krakens (200gp) these are from the clan." He produces a heavy sack of coins and hands it to Aridha. "The gold for you comes from the Earl's personal treasure.We don't expect his freedom to cost that much. Hopefully they don't know who they have. He was captured two weeks ago hunting far too the north. One of his companions eluded the slavers and followed them to their ship He heard the slavers say that they were full and needed to head to Marg to offload. He copied the markings on the ship as best he could but he cannot write. From what he brought us, we think the ship is Tarhun's Fury. Leafstan is a strong limbed youth of 17, he is bearded but the slavers often cut the hair of newly taken slaves. He has a tattoo of a Griffin on his right arm. The clan expects you to buy him at the best price possible and return whatever is left along with proof of his purchased freedom."

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Tharra folded her thickly muscled arms and glowered. She had no love for the slavers of Marg who turned men and women into things barely different from animals, from beasts of burden. That they wanted them to buy the boy rather than slaughter the slavers and take him was contemptible to the huge Barbarian woman, but Evarr Hallborn's obvious rage spoke well that it was merely a ploy to secure his son's life. Afterward would come vengeance.

Tharra would enjoy that, she still owed the Crimson Slaver's much pain and yearned to see the entire city of Marg torn down into ruin.

"We will do this thing," Tharra growled, turquoise eyes narrowed in banked anger, "Though I make no promises there will not be any blood spilled in the taking."

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Neeva listened to the warlord closely as he explained the offer. She was not overly fond of cities if Quodeth was a typical example of them, but this Marg sounded even worse and slavery, or at least forced slavery, was not something that sat well with her and from the looks of it, Tharra shared the sentiment. An entire city built on a foundation of such was not a place that held any appeal for her.

Neeva stepped to Tharra's side and nodded at her tribemate's words.

"Same. All of it." she said simply in typical Dhari fashion.

 

 

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Tuham looks hard at the two Dhari women, he had assumed that the dwarf and northman had been the leaders but they seemed to defer to these two. No matter he thought.“Before you depart for Marg there is someone I think you should talk with. He isn't kin but lives here. He is wise to the ways of the slavers.”

Tuham leads them to the very edge of the wall to a small hovel there they meet Baishum Judocus.

Clearly an outsider among the tall, fair-haired barbarians. He is short, swarthy, and has dark, darting eyes. Obviously of Kalay origin. His lodge is indistinguishable from any other in the village from the outside, but inside, the collection of exotic weapons and other oddities on the walls and shelves shows that the resident has traveled widely across Thule.

Judocus is a man who knows the evil business you’re about to delve into. He can tell you of the slavers give you advice.” Says Tuham as he leans back against the wall.

Judocus shrugs. “I don't know how much help I can be really. I did sail with the crimson Slavers, but that was a long long time ago.”He looks off wistful. “When I was young and stupid. I haven't been to Marg in what twenty years or more, so I can't really help with specifics outside of a few things. The ship Tarhun's Fury, I never heard of it but the harbor master there will give you information usually for a few silvers or some grog. By the time you get to Marg, Leafstan will most likely be sold already. But you can find out to who to from the ships crew.”

He looks thoughtful for a few seconds. “Your first friend in Marg is an astrologer who calls him­self Noble Freeman. He was a slave who bought his own freedom. If he’s still alive, my name should get you in the door and let you explain your needs. If you find yourselves truly in desperate straits, seek out the followers of Asura. They specialize in helping escaped slaves and other fugitives reach free­dom. They can get you out of Marg even with the whole city hunting you. If you need their help, go to the swamp­side mortuary and ask for ‘Clestain’. I can’t guarantee that’ll still work, but it did 20 years ago. Whatever you do, protect that information with your life. Because they undermine slavery, the Asurans are the most wanted criminals in Marg. The Crimson Council would pay handsomely for their heads—or for yours, if they suspected the knowledge of how to find the Asurans was inside.”

 

Spoiler

I will give you time to ask judocus questions or tuham and to get anything else you think you may need.

 

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Aridha watched Judocus with unwavering intensity as he spooled out names and places. These things were, she'd learned, the spoor of the prey who lurked in cities. Not droppings or tracks or bent brush, but ripples in the social fabric of things. It was an entirely different thing...one she was still struggling to learn the rules of.

"We've never been to Marg," she said when Judocus slowed down. "What things must we not say or do, that we could in other places? Who holds power there? And how will they react to us?"

The last bit, she waved a hand at herself and the others. A halfling, a giantess, and all sizes and shapes in between. Theirs was an unusual group to say the least.

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He shakes his head. "Only those who wish to by slaves or sell them go to Marg. If you do not come in chains there is no fear that you will end in them. Now you could end up dead, but that can happen anywhere. Stay away from those who run things and you should be fine. The city is run by bureaucrats who are run by the City guilds. The name Crimson Slavers is a name which fall on all of them not any one group. If you are of Marg you are a Crimson Slaver. Such is the way of the world. Of all of you the Dwarf is most likely to draw the most attention."

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"Aye," Alberich agreed, "particularly with recent... troubles between Marg and Kal-Zinan." Namely the part where Marg slavers had ambushed and taken prisoner a caravan of dwarves - including at least one Council Master. Given his choice, Alberich would have seen Marg paid hard and bloody for this offense. Yet Kal-Zinan was divided on whether or not to abandon 'neutrality.'

Pah, neutrality. That meant not taking sides when humans went after other humans. When humans went after dwarves... that was different. Idiots seemed to disagree though. "'Spose I can let them keep their eyes on me while the others buy Leafstan back."

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Having agreed and taken gold, the adventurers turn to their task. Already two weeks behind the ship they set out on foot.

Traveling south they traverse the hills and light jungle their course leading them to the lower passes separating Mt Thubotan from the Serex Glaciers. Their journey although shorter than the sea voyage of the Slavers still takes more time. The tales of this overland journey can fill many nights around the fire with thrills and scares but those tales will have to wait for another night for today we tell the tale of Marg.

Marg makes its presence known from many miles away. The city stands at the marshy mouth of the Harj River, hemmed in on three sides by the surrounding bayou. A gray haze of smoke hangs over the city throughout the day, giving way to a sullen red glow at night. A pyra­mid-like fortress towers over one end of the city, and the spires of an elegant palace rise above the opposite end. The harbor lies along the southern bank of the river.

Our adventurers after crossing the mountain had taken a river boat south down the Harj, through the bayous and into the bay, then onto the docks of the Slave city. As they landed and paid the rivermen who had brought them they found themselves on a bustling set of docks. Many ships were loading and offloading cargos. While the party could see some slaves being herded from a few ships the majority of the cargoes were the normal goods seen in the ports of other Cities.

No one seemed to take much more that curious notice of the mismatched group.

Spoiler

you have arrived in Marg you are on the docks. how you  proceed is up to you. There are four strong leads that you can initially pursue: looking for Tarhun’s Fury, locating Noble Freeman, heading straight for the slave market, or making contact with the Asurans at the mortuary.  you can also do anything else that comes to mind. It is midday

 

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The sun overhead struck down with a fierce heat and made the water of the harbour glitter green and silver. Tharra had been through several cities and expected Marg to more or less be the same as the others. It was... and it was not. Most of the buildings along the port were squat and long and ugly, made of stone and uninviting. A pall of smoke hung in the air stinging the nose, and under it, a pall of despair. Marg was not quite as loud as other cities, but that did not improve its ambience.

The towering Dhari glared back at any whose eyes lingered too long on them, not trusting the interest of any in this city of Slavers, and moved to stand close to her companions, keeping her voice low. "I say we look for the Noble Freeman. We do not know these hunting grounds and he sounds like one who can help us remedy that."

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Aridha nodded at Tharra. She was keeping to herself...having asked her wolf to stay at a campsite outside of the city for the time being. It made her anxious and uncomfortable not having her near, but it would have been much worse having her in this city. The wolf wouldn't have understood.

"A stargazer would have a tower, yes? Somewhere he could see the sky without all this smoke in the way. Maybe we start at the highest building?"

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During the trip Neeva considered the name of the ship and thought back to her studies under Tharra's mother, recalling the knowledge of other Gods she passed along to Neeva in her youth.

"Something does not sit will with me." she finally said to the others in a low voice.

"Tarhun is a God of Storms and Lord of Battle. He is a warrior hero, the son of Mithra and Kishar. He is about heroic courage, valor, strength and honor. He teaches that people should challenge wickedness and crush it underfoot. So 'Tarhun's Fury' makes no sense as the name of a slaver's ship. It is not something he or his followers would engage in." she explained.

"I think things are not as they seem or maybe as we were led to believe. Be aware." she cautioned.

 

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Aridha shrugged at that. "Men see in their gods whatever they want to. Some may see this 'Tarhun' as a noble hero...others as a vicious conqueror. Is it so strange the people living in THIS place would see the worst in their gods?"

Even so, she had to admit... "But being aware is never a bad thing to be, no matter what."

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"That's not the way of it. The Gods make their stances and will known. Tarhun and his followers, stomp out wickedness and evil, such as slavers. This is not a place where one would see him worshiped, or likely even mentioned. Something is not right here, but we do not know what it is yet." Neeva clarified to Aridha.

"The man we seek is a stargazer, but it does not mean what you think. Stargazer is what many call a Soothsayer, like myself, since many in the cities look up to the stars for signs and omens. He likely has no tower. He could be set up nearly anywhere in the city. Our best chance of finding him on our own is in the markets where he could offer his fortunetelling, for a price, to the most people. If we take some time there, we may find him." she explained to the others.

"Otherwise I could speak with the cityfolk and try to locate him. That may draw some curious attention though, even moreso than we have already, so it is not desirable." she added as an alternative.

 

Spoiler

I hope this is okay to post here, just relaying the info given to me.

Nina said that finding him by searching the markets and looking for him would be a DC 12 Survival check. Finding him by asking around would be a DC 12 Persuasion check. They both take an hour and more checks can be done in case of failures, it just takes more time.

 

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Aridha shrugged at that, still finding it most likely attributable to the foolishness of men...but if the soothsayer was right, events would prove it soon enough. It was enough to be ready, she felt.

But finding her way through the city, trying to find her quarry there...it was as maddening as ever. Distractions everywhere, and it seemed as if most of the time she had to focus simply on not being trampled underfoot! Seven curses on the bumbling big folk and their wretched cities!

 

(roll an 11 on survival. Sorry guys. :( )

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Tharra cared not for the Gods of the City-men, nor how the city-men worshiped them, as long as they came not into conflict with her. She glanced down at the dwarf, then nodded at the tiny halfling woman. If they must hunt through this city, she had no desire to wait in one place while the others searched for their pray. "I go with the small woman to find the Stargazer."

The smokey haze resting over the city was an irritant. Tharra had only a vague familiarity with the writings of men and their scratchings seemed slightly different than the ones she saw in Quodeth. The markets were crowded, the buyers or their guards presser closer to her than she was comfortable with. It was hard to find the Stargazer and must have been even harder for Aridha, who had a better view of the asses of the city-men rather than the city.

After an hour of fruitless searching, Tharra reached down, plucking Aridha up effortlessly and set her down to ride one of her broad shoulders. "Come, we shall use the gifts given to us. Use my height to best effort. Four eyes looking over the heads of city-men are better than two."

Spoiler

Asarasa *rolls* 1d20: 7+6: 13 Well, that was a close call

 

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Yngvar looked at Albearich and indicated he would stay with him. The two men looked on as the two Dhari woman and the Dhari Halfling pushed through the crowd and were lost to sight. Bot men stood silently for several moments watching the busy dock workers coming and going. No one pays them any mind.

Not at all

Alberich scratches himself again, “Beer.” is his one word statement as he marches off toward the nearest tavern. Yngvar stunned for a moment starts off after his dwarven friend realizing that since meeting the dwarf he spends an awful lot of his time getting drunk.

Aridha, Neeva, and Tharra push there way through the crowd. The halfling runs around looking and peering in each door gazing at signs she can't read the two dhari women do their best to keep up with her and also look trying to see something to point them in the right direction.

Casual brutality seems commonplace in Marg.

At the docks, they had seen freshly-arrived slaves being unloaded from raiding ships: chained, filthy, terrified, starved, being driven toward holding corrals and warehouses under whips and cudgels. In the streets, they see even more slaves being struck by their owners, laboring with heavy burdens, or being publicly lashed or confined in stocks for some disobedience real or imaginedHeavy, unpleasant, or dangerous labor, such as unloading ship car­goes or mucking out livestock stalls, is all being done by slaves. Aside from Tharra's height and build drawing some looks the three are not otherwise scrutinized. They wander the endless market for close to an hour before Tharra calls Aridha over picks her up and sets her on her shoulder. Aridha is somewhat taken aback but then she realizes that she can see much farther and that the air isn't quite so rank up there. They continue looking.

Alberich and Yngvar are having a jolly good time. Their table is littered with empty bottles of wine and great pitchers of beer. A plump whore with huge breasts barely covered is feeding wine soaked candied meats to the dwarf while two nubile young whores are fawning over the Tall north man. When their revelry is suddenly interrupted.

Who let the stinking dwarf in here and why is he pawing at Pimy's tits?”

The voice is overly loud and heavily accented. Alberich looks up from the cleavage he was just about to nuzzle and sees several men, ruffians he would say standing near the middle of the tavern. Other patrons are scurrying out of the way.

After another hour the girls are growing annoyed Neeva finally decides to ask for directions but as she taps a woman's shoulder she spies a stylized astrolabe (she recognizes what it is from her time In quodeth) above a door down an ally out of the way nearly hidden from view.

Here I think I have found it!”

The women make their way down the ally and into the shop. The shop is decorated as any of a hundred such shops they have seen in their wanderings nothing makes it stand out as special. The front room is empty of people but a small bell rings when the open the door and before it shuts a tall human of Lomari descent comes out from behind a heavy curtain. He is older with thinning hair he appears to be in his forties.

Ah such beautiful ladies come to find what the future holds?”

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Momentarily startled at Tharra's mention of the name Judocus, the ex slave quickly moves to t he door.

He places a sign of some sort on the outside. closes and bars it and then shutters the two windows barring them as well.

"Please come in the back it is more private and there is wine."

Without waiting he goes through a beaded curtain into a back room. The women follow wary of a trap but only find the older man setting wine and cups on a table. He fusses around a bit getting some bread and cheese aas well.

"That is not a name I have heard in many many years. None of you are old enough to know him or me from those days. So Is my friend alright and what does he want me to do for you?"

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Alberich's almost casual tone catches the thugs off guard, the leader stares at Alberich as if trying to think of something to say. "Ahh...i...umm..." One of the other leans over and whispers. "Pimy's tits."

"Oh yeah." The idiot leader takes a step forward and points at the whores tits. "Get yer stinking dwarf paws off our ladies ya bastard!" He shouts one hand dropping to the hilt of his long knife.

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"We want to buy one of the slaves," Aridha says briskly. "A particular one.We need your help finding him and..." she waves a hand frustratedly, "doing it. Because none of us really know how."

Having dropped onto her own feet, she keeps moving restlessly around.

"Oh, and yes he's fine. Concerned. That's why we're here."

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Yngvar sighs. And he had been having fun too. The group had certainly gone a long way towards getting him to loosen up a bit. He catches the eye of the young Women, nodding towards the back of the room and relative safety. This was probably gonna get ugly.

He glances down to where the leader's hand is resting against his knife before snorting. Idly bringing out the war axe at his own waist and laying it on the table beside him, the razor edge of it glinting menacingly in the light.. A bass growl issuing forward.

"Draw that Knife and I'll feed you the hand that does it."

The glare he was giving them could have frozen a troll at 50 paces. Was it colder in here, all of a sudden?

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Noble tugs on his ear. "You want my help you to buy a slave?" A look of disgust flashes across his face but vanishes just as quickly as it appears. "Why Judocus  would send you to me I don't know but I owe him so I will Help with finding this slave but that is all." He shakes his head. "I will need the name and a description. I will also need payment to cover the cost of finding your slave. Two Kraken should suffice unless I run into difficulty."

He looks at the small women obviously awaiting payment.

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In the Tavern...

The leader of the hooligans sneered at Yngvar's theatrics and draws his knife while taking a step forward.

Alberich bared his teeth at the bastards before rising up and planting a quick apologetic kiss and squishing grope on Pimy. Then, faster than any of them probably ever figured a dwarf could, grabbed the hardwood chair he'd been sitting on and hurled it at the leader one handed, while, he grasped the hilt of his mace-axe, readying it to follow up his point with cold steel.

Yngvar snarled as the chair went flying and the men went for his knives, grabbing his axe and flipping it into a reverse grip.He dashed after the chair. The leader of the gang was brought up short at the quick movements of the dwaf and man and his eyes were wide as the char slammed into him with great force. His knife went flying and he stumbled back ward, when suddenly Yngvar was there landing heavily on the thug smashing him to the ground with one knee on his chest, the pointed beard of his axe digging into the soft palate of the mans chin, the blade resting down the length of his throat. A single drop of blood trailed along the edge of the blade. Stunned the rest of the gang seemed to take a collective step backwards.

"Is it really worth my opening your throat? Leave, now, and the gods won't have another soul to play with." He hissed, blue eyes fever bright.

The leader smelled of piss and fear his eyes wide he was shaking and his lips moved but it wasn't he that spoke. The short on who had prodded him and reminded him was the one. “There's only two of you and seven of us. Get em!” With a deft flick of his wrist his dagger was out and flying at Yngvar. Yngvar missing his shield back at the table jerked his head aside saving his eye and getting a slight cut on his right cheek.

The rest of the gang draw their weapons and rush around the tables toward the dwarf while the two closest step in to finish off Yngvar.

Spoiler

The leader or former leader takes seven damge and is under Yngvars knee, he is also unarmed now.

Yngvar takes 2 damage from the thrown dagger. The thug stepped back as the two nearest yngvar step forward to attack him. the remaing four rush around the tables and charge at Alberich.

Yngvar can auto kill the one he is on and attack one of the others if he desires. if he is using a spell he cant do the auto kill. regardless he is considered prone and his attackes are advantaged against him. he is not disadvantaged however.

post your second round actions in the combat thread.

 

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"Here are five of your Krakens," Tharra growled, extending one long arm thick with muscle over Aridha's head to hand Noble a sack heavy with coin. "Make sure there are no difficulties." Once Noble took the bag of coin, Tharra nodded and folded arms bigger than most men's. "The one we seek is seventeen or eighteen, strong and lean with youth. Brown of hair and fair of eye, he had a beard, but we are told that means not. He has a tattoo of an eagle-lion upon his right arm. We believe him take to this city of slavers and slaves upon a ship called Tarhun's Fury. As for his name... " Tharra shrugged a massive shoulder, "would it mean aught to the slavers?"

The Dhari Barbarian woman couldn't tell if the astrologer was playing them false, but names had power, all knew that. If Noble Freeman knew the name of the Earl's son, it could raise the price they would have to pay for him, or even see him sold to another for a higher profit. A small test of sorts for the former slave who yet remained in a city of slaves and slavers.

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