Game Session: 5/6/2012
Pictures from Second Anniversary Session
Beldet and Sasha left the others outside with the grubby children and the cold winter morning. The warm and smoky common room of the Shark and Anchor was a welcome sight. Its creaky hardwood floors and gray river stone walls were as close to a home as any of them had felt for a month. Esmerelda, the celebrity of the city darted behind a rock in her water tank. Behind the bar was the lanky barkeep, Javius Noll, clad in all black and his eyes sunken and dark as though he hadn’t slept for days. He looked up and nodded.
For the first time, the common room was empty of any patrons, except one man sitting in a corner – he dipped a quill into a vat of ink, writing upon a scroll. Javius put down his washcloth and walked hunched over to Beldet and Sasha. He said quietly, “The man over there, he’s asking about you. A stranger I’ve not seen here before, but he seems harmless enough. Won’t say what he wants from you. Want me to be rid of him for ya?” They noticed for the first time that Javius’ left eye was completely white and held open with a squint.
“I need to have a word with you all. If that is fine,” Javius said nervously, “rather soon. The sooner the better.”
Beldet asked him to proceed.
“As you see," as he gestured towards the common room, “it’s empty. The ghost has been growing angry. Very angry, since your return. I don’t know what happened. I haven’t rented the room as you said. Late at night, the door shakes loudly. You can hear crashing within the room, howlings. The patrons are scared.” He whispered, “But that’s not the worst of it. Last night, N’bod’s ghost came downstairs. I saw it meself! A ghastly green apparition, it was him! No question at that!” Javius shuddered as he continued, “Then, the ghost turned into a green mist! And then it just… It just jumped into old man Smitty! His eyes became wide and his mouth foamed – then he went mad and started destroying my inn! It took four men to hold him down. Four strong men!”
Javius looked down at the floor solemnly, “Word surely will spread and my business will be in ruin. I cannot afford to house and feed you here if that is true. I do not blame you for what has happened, but I ask for your help again. Please, can you stop the ghost of N’bod?”
“We will see what we can do,” Beldet said.
Sasha and Beldet walked to the man sitting at the table; he was clothed in a plain and coarse brown tunic. Draped over the chair was his thick cloak of leather lined with wool – on the neck a brown and black fur, the left side of it finished with the white head of a polecat. From behind the mammal were a series of crow feathers fanned out in a half oval. A worn leather belt held up his ashen breeches as well as keeping a scabbard with blade. He continued to write as though they weren’t standing near. Without looking up he grumbled in a deep and thick Scottish accent, “I have a message for ye from Eric. Ye know of Nel? She sent me.” He looked up at them with gray eyes set on a weathered and heavily bearded face, “Me name’s Aiden.”
“Nice to meet you Aiden, right now we have some other affairs to attend to. Do you mind waiting?”
“I do not, how long do you intend on having me wait for though?”
“Not too long at all, say less than an hour.”
Aiden nodded, “I have no problem waiting for that amount of time, I will be right here.”
They returned to the bar and asked Javius to cook up a dozen of his meat pies, for the children outside. After paying the coin, the barkeep went to work. When done, the three of them went back outside to find Kyrs and Elora entertaining the children… They were able to determine these children were orphans who lived at a nearby orphanage run by the church. The children were delighted by the hot pies and ran off the fill their bellies, thanking the party as they left to feast.
Sasha informed the two of what was said inside the inn. They all returned together to talk to the man named Aiden.
Beldet asked the man if he would join them at a larger table.
“It would be a bit rude of me not to know yer names first, don’t ye thinks?”
Elora questioned his logic, “Don’t you know our names already if you’ve been sent to deliver a message to us?”
“I do, it’s just best to know that I am getting the message to who it belongs to first.”
Elora admitted, “That makes sense.” The party each gave Aiden their names. He left to join the party and sat with them. Beldet then asked for the message.
“Na, na, na… First, we must drink.” Aiden reached below the table and lifted up a small wooden cask with a spigot. “Barkeep! If it’s alright with you sir, I’d like to share me whiskey with me new found friends. You of course are welcome to some as well if ye like, but our conversation must be kept in private if ye get me meanin’.”
Behind the bar beneath the massive harpoon set on the wall Javius nodded with a crooked eye, “I suppose that would be alright. No one else here to say otherwise.”
“Well then it’s settled.” Aiden said as he brought out a cloth pouch, “we drink together – as friends.” From the pouch he brought out an unusual cup – it resembled a shallow bowl, similar to what Elora uses to grind herbs, except with handles on either side. The cup was crudely carved from a dark reddish wood and trimmed with a ring of polished silver along the rim. “This,” he said holding the handled bowl, “is called a Quaich. In me lands, it is used a symbol of welcoming and trust. We share drink together as example of common goals.” Turning the spigot he poured several generous drams into the Quaich, careful as to not splash a drop onto the table. “And that common goal, me hopes, is in the best interest of Lord Eric, rightful Earl of Hampshire. If ye not agree with that, I ask that you leave the table now. If ye do, then we drink upon it in agreement as a sacred pact to the Order of the Nine and Silvanus, Protector of the Woods and Keeper of the Herd.”
Aiden closeed the spigot, shaking the last few drops into the cup. He mumbled some words beneath his breath with eyes closed for a half second and said, “Our roots run deep.” Setting the cask aside, he pushed the Quaich to the center of the table and looked up, smiling, “Now, who shall drink first?”
Kyrs drank first, and then one by one the others, including Aiden.
Aiden looked down grimly, “Lord Eric, as you may or may not have heard, has left Suffolk Manor. If ye have, then surely ye have heard that he has abandoned his people. This not be entirely the truth.” He looked back up towards the group and continued, “Eric received word of conspiracy about Reynard, and his plans for rebellion. But before he could properly prepare, Reynard invaded Wroxham and moved to siege Suffolk Manor. The Lord was able to flee with his lady, still pregnant with child, alongside them a small group of his most trusted men-at-arms. His loyal protectors, sieged within the manor fought valiantly for a week before finally being sacked by Reynard and his assembled army, only for them to find that Eric was not there. They tortured his surviving men, until one finally broke and admitted that Eric fled. Reynard used that to his advantage and passed message to the Lords of Hampshire of Eric’s abandonment, and proclaimed himself Baron.” Aiden combed some brittle leaves and twigs out of his rusted beard as he continued, “It would seem that the Lords would be unhappy with this news, and would rise to defend the honor of their liege – but you see, Reynard is rich. And he had planned for this for some time now. Each Lord received a handsome sum of coins, as well as the pointed end of a sword should they refuse, in which one Lord did. He was made example of, and killed in public before his people in the name of treason. Thereafter, no one else stood defiant.”
“Grim news,” Kyrs murmured. Aiden then handed Beldet a folded letter, sealed with Lord Eric’s sigil of a circled tree.
Beldet read it aloud to the party, Kyrs and Elora looked it over afterward.
“Our order will leave on the night of the next full moon. It will take a full day’s ride to reach the fortress where we meet. Provided the weather cooperates, all will go as planned.” The cask ended up back on the table. Pouring another dram into the Quaich, Aiden went on, “If ye want, you can accompany meself. I would welcome the company – but be warned, we travel a bit rough. No roads I travel.”
Knowing the moon would be full in several nights, the party agreed to travel with Aiden.
Aiden looked to Kyrs and asked, “Kyrs, Nel wishes to know – do you still suffer from the terrible nightmares? Sleepless nights? You don’t look well, you should know.”
“I do, and I have had difficulties sleeping,” Kyrs admitted.
“Well then, that is unfortunate.” Aiden reached into his pocket and brought out a small envelope and handed it to Kyrs, “Mix this in a drink. It will taste terrible, but will help your weariness. Also, we have a man in my order that can help you further… Have you yet found why you are having such dreams?”
“I learned that I have a death curse lain upon me.”
“Ah, then I trust they have grown in severity as well as frequency. I would mix that powder and drink now, if I were you.”
Kyrs followed the advice of the man and took the drink with whiskey. As promised by the grungy Scotsman, the mixture tasted awful. It nearly made Kyrs gag, but he managed to sink the grainy medicine down his throat. As soon as it hit stomach, he suddenly felt refreshed and invigorated. True, the amulet had kept him from being sleepy, but for the first time in a month his mind suddenly seemed clear and nearly euphoric. Unfortunately, the sensation lasted but a moment. Kyrs found himself smiling, and craving more.
They made pleasant goodbyes with Aiden, and went upstairs to handle the ghost of Captain N’bod.