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Legacy of the Green Regent

Chapter 1 – Midsummer Night


Prologue ~ Chapter 1

OoC Forum

Opening song

Dramatis Personae:

Act I – Welcome to Loudwater[]

Place: The Vine Gate, western Loudwater.
Time: Late afternoon, Midsummer, the Year of Wild Magic, 1372 DR.
Weather: Perfectly fine.

The Vines[]

Loudwater fortification.jpg
Midsummer in Loudwater started with the Song of Dawn, as the Lathanderite clerics of the Houses of Morning gathered atop the highest points in the city to greet the sun and sing their praises to the Morninglord. Their vocal melodies and counter-melodies blended with beautiful complexity, accompanied the ceaseless rush of the Delimbiyr River over the rapids that gave Loudwater its name, and spilled, like the first rays of the sun, through the city's streets and streams and into its gardens and grottos. It roused the slumbering citizenry and filled them with thoughts of renewal and new beginnings, and an enthusiasm for the festivities ahead.

The people pushed eagerly through breaking fasts and their chores, their work, and all the preparations they needed to make, before many of the shops—those that wouldn't do roaring trade today—shut at highsun and all those who could left early. Thereafter, grand feasts were held, whether in the homes or out in the streets or in the taverns and inns where the wine and ales flowed freely. Minstrels played joyous songs to which listeners could dance and kiss, and acrobats capered and astounded their audiences, and couples declared their feelings or their betrothals, or had their marriage ceremonies. All over Loudwater on this Midsummer Day, people talked and played and loved.

The travelers could hear the town from afar, with all that hubbub carrying over the palisade and the earthen ramparts, which lay hidden under a sea of brilliantly colored wildflowers that disguised but did not diminish their firm defense. Buildings, spires, and towers peeked above that rampart and rose high on the hills that lay further back in the city's heart, built of wood and stone and in countless architectural styles, from graceful elven to proud human and more, but all had a hint of green, from rooftop gardens to mossy tiles to flower boxes from every window. On the whole, lying between the High Forest creeping in from the north and the South Wood reaching up to meet it, Loudwater seemed to be almost melting back into the forest or else to be growing out of it, and either way to be joining the two forests into one and standing as a gateway into some green and pleasant land beyond.

All through the sunny afternoon, the caravan, with its Loudwater Guard escort, rolled on through the outer farms and homesteads, where families were holding their own rustic occasions. But a steady stream of folk drifted out and joined them on the journey to the city, to experience the more exciting celebrations to be found there. Loudwater was the City of Grottos—who knew what could occur within them?

But there was one grim, gray sight that marred all that greenery and merriment: a sprawling ramshackle camp of hide tents and smoky fires, emanating smells of cooking foods and old waste, just outside the rampart. Scattered around were planks of wood daubed with rough runes and totems of stag skulls bearing many-branched antlers mounted atop poles. The occupants were clear by their brawny bodies, hide armor, swinish faces—orcs. They worked, brawled, partied, drank, and heavily, and in twos and threes made their way in and out of the city with certain goods, and spoke with some humans on the way.

At last, the caravan arrived at the Vine Gate, where the wooden doors in the palisade had been thrown open to admit all, even the orcs, though under the watchful and wary eyes of the guards. True to its name, green vines grew all over the timber gatehouse, and rather than weaken its structure, they seemed to hold it tighter together.

While most of the caravan continued through onto Vine Street, Fist Captain Isyan Kiy'sisnos led the adventurers, the Merrymars, the goblin prisoners, to a nearby keep, built of stone but also wreathed in vines. They learned this was the Western Tower, also called the Vine Tower. Loudwater was a beautiful city, but not necessarily an imaginatively named one.

Within, Isyan introduced them to a superior, Jaida Zerezeal, Gauntlet of the Western Marches. She was a mature half-elf woman, amiable and earthy and of woodsy character, who greeted them warmly and marvelled at their accounts. The two interviewed the adventurers and the halflings and took their statements, showing much concerned interest in the news of a resurgent Hark bandit gang and the wererat threat.

Afterward, the pair led them out and back onto Vine Street, a busy thoroughfare line with shops, though few were open. "Sorry to have kept you so long. I'm guessing you're all eager to get out and enjoy the Midsummer festivities, right?" Jaida said encouragingly once they were there and lightly slapped Juniper's shoulder. "And thanks again for what you did, yeah? Mielikki knows we need folks like you who can step in when we can't. Ah, speaking of, I hope you're not in too much of a hurry to leave town afterward? We might have some other special tasks we need some capable folks for."

BadCatMan (talk) 15:06, 11 July 2022 (UTC)

Less than pleased to find himself yet again riding his least favorite turnip cart—with two foul-mouthed goblins as his co-passengers to boot—Samophlange found the ride in to Loudwater utterly interminable. He didn't worry much about the armed guards escorting the caravan; he was pretty sure they had bought his story. And why shouldn't they? It happened to be true: Samophlange had finally made his adventuring debut, and it had been just as fascinating and entertaining as he had hoped. He'd even met some new adventuring colleagues, most of whom showed great promise. He was once again glad he had agreed to leave Athkatla.

As the caravan rolled closer to Loudwater, Samo could see that it was an eclectic-looking place, quite unlike any city he had seen before. The orc camp outside the city proper seemed out of place, somehow, but Samo didn't really think much of it. Orcs were harmless enough, after all, you just needed to know how to talk to them. They finally entered Loudwater through a gate covered in vines, which looked rather sturdy but Samo still had to question the structural integrity of the thing. How very quaint, he thought. Inside, the city seemed very lively, with festival preparations going on everywhere he looked. When the group reached their destination, a tower covered in vines, Samophlange jumped off the turnip cart and traded a few final insults with the driver. He would be glad to never see the back of that stinking old forest gnome ever again. He'd happily never see another turnip again, for that matter.

When interviewed by Captain Isyan and her superior, Gauntlet Jaida, in the Vine Tower, Samophlange delivered a mildly embellished (but still rather reasonable, he felt) version of the events that had led them there. They didn't object to anything he said, which he saw as a good sign. Once everyone had been interviewed, the party was led outside once more and Gauntlet Jaida spoke. "I am quite eager to see how you celebrate Midsummer around these parts", replied Samo, "but first I should like to set down my backpack. Can you recommend an inn for a group of tired adventurers?" He wanted to play it cool in regards to the other thing she said about more adventuring, so he simply said, "In the morning we can discuss any further business. We could perhaps work something out". Inside, he was giddy at the prospect.

Juniper has never traveled this far into the Delimbiyr Vale. She eagerly took in every detail of the little villages and farms along the road. When the caravan passed the orcish encampment, the halfling felt a small tinge of worry but noticed that the guard nor the revelers paid much attention to them. "How come there are so many orcs around here? Are they refugees?" She asked no one in particular but loudly enough for people to hear.

Isyan seemed to stiffen, and answered curtly "None can say. And they haven't seen fit to tell us. But they're migrating south, out of the High Forest and into the mountains. The High Lord gave them right of passage and reception in the city. Seems safer than forcing them to form a horde." But after looking around at the camp for a long moment as they rode past, the elf at last admitted thoughtfully "But they don't seem so bad, for orcs."
BadCatMan (talk) 12:53, 14 July 2022 (UTC)

Inside the town, Juniper pondered the nature of the settlement's name. She saw enough water, but it was not particularly loud, the humans around were though. Maybe the town should've been named Loudhuman? She shrugged and felt a rumble in her tummy. The redhead hoped that the reporting would be quick and she would be able to put several rabbits and ales in it soon!

As the adventurers recounted the events to Jaida Zerezeal, Juniper, not surprisingly, talked more about cheese caves, fire beetles, and other insignificant details of the grand adventure, to the guards' exasperation, no doubt. Once the half-elf escorted the group out and thanked them, Juniper beamed at the tall woman and cheerfully proclaimed, "You are welcome! It was a pleasure to help fellow hin! And the adventure was exhilarating! Do the "special" tasks involve heroic deeds? Slaying a dragon? Seducing Elminster? Robbing an evil lich?" she named several more outlandish scenarios, oblivious to the gnome playing it cool, but her thoughts trailed off towards food the moment Samo asked about an inn that held the promised rabbits and ales. Her eyes darted around in search of a stall or a vendor with some handfoods.

Going crackers.

Sheer cheese.

Saucy tarts.

Elven bread: very filling.

But Jaida just laughed heartily at all Juniper's questions; she'd been more amused by the halfling's diversions than frustrated. It wasn't all going in her report to the High Lord, of course. "I don't know about Elminster, though there have been sightings of a red dragon over east. But let's take it slow. We should have something for you the day after Shieldmeet, once everyone's sobered up and we know who the next Green Regent is—I suppose you'll be putting yourselves forward, then? Ceremony's at the Risen Moon Market, in front of the High Lord's Hall. Starts at dawn, usually wraps up around highsun. Oh, and don't eat too much when you break your fast, trust me." Jaida advised, chuckling.

"As for an inn, adventurers usually stay at the Red Boar in Low Town or the Scarlet Shield in Highbank. Fine places. And you might enjoy the Enchanter's Ecstasy." Jaida added, looking down at Juniper as she said it.

Isyan met Ilrien's eyes and added with more restraint, perhaps for the discreet benefit of a fellow elf, "Or the Evening Star in High Town or the Bookworm by the Velti'Enorethal, if you want something quieter."

Meanwhile, Juniper sighted, and scented, many vendors wandering up and down Vine Street and selling handfoods from their carts, from bags of crackers, to simple hot sausages in slabs of bread with ketjap, to deep-fried battered szorp trout and batatas and rolls of cabbage and other vegetables, to slices of mist cheese so translucent she could almost see through them, to elven breads and elvish seedcakes, to toffee apples that were popular with children, and sweet and savoury tarts of all kinds, and more!
BadCatMan (talk) 12:53, 14 July 2022 (UTC)

"Don't eat too much"... the halfling's companions could notice a stern look of determination on her face. She took the advice as a challenge. "Enchanter's Ecstasy sounds like a lovely place to rest our bones... And Evening Star sounds comfy. But let's not try Bookworm." She shuddered "...worms".

With a blink of an eye, Juniper demonstrated the famed halfling dexterity and disappeared into the loud crowds. Several moments later, she returned with a king's bounty of handfoods, as much as she could carry in her stubby arms, and bought with a couple of gold pieces. Juniper handed Ilrien a delicately wrapped seedcake of her people as the halfling herself tried to conquer a toffee apple's impregnable exterior. "Ah bfout a tafting pwatter for uth." She shared the loot with her adventuring companions while talking through an apple lodged in her mouth, appearing a bit like a happy suckling piglet.

"Does the town have an alchemist's shop or apothecary?"

Juniper stretched her hand towards Brace with a frilly savory tart topped with some pleasant-smelling mystery meat and or cabbage.

Brace shook his head and refused the tart. "No, thank you. I am not hungry."

He was traveling next to his brother, now dressed again in the clothes of a simple tradesman—and no longer in the bloodied, cut-up hobgoblin leathers—and looking very uncomfortable. He looked toward his brother, as if expecting the younger Splitbark to choose an inn for them both.
~ Lhynard (talk) 21:44, 14 July 2022 (UTC)

Ilrien gave Isyan a grateful nod for the quieter suggestions, mentally noting to check both places out before night. The city of Loudwater was not so bad as stories painted crowded cities, but still a far cry from the quietude of the High Forest.

"Thank you." She said to Juniper, accepting the seedcake. A different mix, but still elvenmade and tasty. She smiled slightly, for the first time in... days?

Before Juniper could retract her hand, Samophlange grabbed the saucy tart she had offered to Brace and started nibbling on it thoughtfully. "The Red Boar sounds right up our alley… being adventurers, that is." He smiled and looked at the others for assent. "We may even hear of other adventurer's work there, or maybe someone knows more about that bird bandit."

Korrlan turned to his brother and Samo, "I'm fine with that tavern as long as I can get some rest and conduct my morning prayers." The young priest thought on the last part for a while and then said, "Osco asked if I was with the Monastery of St. Ulrach. I wonder if there's a shrine or temple to Ilmater in the city. Perhaps we can ask once we get to the Red Boar."

Juniper stretched her hand out to the cleric. A half-moon fried pastry filled with mist cheese was the prize at the end of her stubby appendage. The caramel apple in her mouth started give in under the hungry halfling's oral assault.

Korr looked down at the halfling who was clearly enjoying her treats. "For me? Thanks, Juniper!" Korrlan exclaimed after suppressing a laugh. He gladly took the pastry and stuffed it in his mouth. As he bit down, the cheese poured out and trickled over his tongue. It had a soft texture and unique rich taste, and overall, it was delicious. He could see why Juniper had a half-moon shaped grin of her own.

"An apothecary?" Jaida echoed, trying to recall one.

But it was Isyan who supplied to Brace "A herbalist. At the end of Goldenrod Street in the High Town."

Korrlan mentioning the monastery reminded Jaida, "Oh yeah, and the monks of St. Ulrach usually sell their herbs in the Risen Moon Market—they're your lot, aren't they? You should find some of them around town today, providing first aid."

Isyan added, with a note a disapproval, "Probably in the taverns."

Next, Jaida and Isyan gave the travelers some quick directions and a rough layout of Loudwater. No maps had been made of the city, and it seemed locals navigated its winding streets by memory or with reference to various landmarks, like the High Lord's Hall that rose high in the center, and visitors most likely made do wherever they ended up. But broadly, the city was divided into two halves: High Town was the hilly, older, elven part of town in the north, and Low Town was the flatter, newer, human part of town in the south, which was fairly clear except that the Highbank neighborhood was in Low Town. The two were more-or-less separated by the River Delimbiyr, also called the River Shining, and were linked by a bridge. The artificial harbor was in the west, following the river's noisy descent over the rapids in the east.

At some point, they seemed to have decided to try the Red Boar Inn and Tavern first. For one, it was closest and most practical for finding news and business, and if it proved unsuitable, they could always go their separate ways and head elsewhere. After all, there was no reason for them to continue to travel and stay together, was there? In their quest to rescue the halflings, they'd been bound together by circumstance, but now, there was nothing to keep them together, except perhaps the bonds of friendship, or of fate.
BadCatMan (talk) 12:47, 18 July 2022 (UTC)

Crossing That Bridge Now We've Come To It[]

Talking and eating, the travelers made their way along Vine Street, enjoying the festive atmosphere provided by the minstrels and acrobats, amidst the greenery seen in every flower box and hanging pot and along the tree-lined avenue. Then they turned south toward the bridge. Jaida hadn't given it a name. Maybe it didn't need one. A spectacular single-arch bridge, it seemed to spring far and high over the River Shining, marrying elven grace with sturdy dwarven stonework. It was wide enough to take wagons and riders on their horses, as well as pedestrians. Around the abutments and along the sides were fanciful carved stone heads, with scaly snarling, pig-snouted faces reminiscent of dragon turtles. Their hollow mouths indicated these were gargoyles, the original architectural features, not the stony monsters that had taken their name. Under winter rains, these would drain water from the gutters and spout it into the river, rather than have it wash down the road.

Its peak gave them all a grand view of the garden city, from the splendid High Town to the industrious Low Town, from Western Tower to the Eastenhall, from the domes of the Velti'Enorethal school to the High Lord's Hall where it perched atop a crag in the heart of the city.

And then a fish smacked Korrlan in the face.

Afterward, it lay flapping on the path. It seemed to have come flying up out of the river, dozens of meters below, just to get him. But that was impossible. Fish did not, as a rule, fly.
BadCatMan (talk) 12:47, 18 July 2022 (UTC)

Kind of like that.

"Oh, excellent, perhaps come morn we can visit the Risen Moo-" Korr began to say as a wet mass of scales and fins slapped him right in the center of his face. Not knowing what it was exactly, the priest withdrew his mace as he tried to clear the water from his eyes.

As the fishy assault commenced, the halfling stepped a few steps away from Korrlan, shielding the cornucopia of handfoods from splashes. She never stopped chewing and observed the occurrence with some detachment, focusing on the treats.

Samophlange laughed out loud as Korrlan floundered, mace in hand, in wake of the aquatic ambush. "Right in the face!" he said, and still laughing, picked the squirming fish off the ground and threw it off the bridge back down into the river. He wiped his hands clean of the water and fish-scales on his pants and continued with a grin, "That's quite the trick, Korrlan. You must teach me some time!"

The travelers were not the only ones on the bridge, of course, and after seeing Korrlan get slapped in the face with a wet fish, pedestrians nearby began to laugh uproariously, albeit in good humor. Gauntlet Jaida, who had accompanied them this far, clapped Korrlan on the back. "Ha! He got you good!" she cheered. "Don't worry about it, fish have been flying over the bridge rather than under ever since that City of Shade flew over. Something about corrupting the magical wards; I don't understand it." She jumped and landed hard on the bridge as if testing its strength, but of course it didn't even shudder. "We've starting calling it Flying Fish Bridge. Anyway, just go on to the south bank, then hang a left, and look out for the sign of the Red Boar, can't miss it. Until swords part, friends." With that, Jaida waved them off and traipsed back the way she'd come, whistling as she went.
BadCatMan (talk) 14:13, 24 July 2022 (UTC)

The Red Boar[]

Merry Mer-She.jpg
They didn't miss it—a large sign mounted on the wall and extending over the footpath displayed a fine painting of a red boar, charging right for the viewer with horns gleaming and steam puffing from flared nostrils, with clouds of dust behind it. Samophlange noticed the image was quite similar to the design on his new sword—the mark of the Red Boar Trading Coster—indicating they probably owned the business then. It was quite a statement.

Standing out amidst the more typically human-built stores and guild-houses, there turned out to be two neighboring establishments: the Red Boar Tavern and the Red Boar Inn, connected but distinct, so patrons looking for some shuteye in the latter would not be too disturbed by revelry in the former, but could still easily have a few drinks before they did. The travelers found an entrance flanked by wall-mounted lanterns and by Loudwater Guardsmen, who seemed to be taking the place of bouncers, though they gave them only a cursory glance as they passed through the wide-open double doors.

Inside, the travelers found themselves in the common room, with large grid windows and a spacious floor, at the center of which was a massive pillar covered in hundreds, even thousands, of fluttering pieces of parchment and paper nailed there as some kind of noticeboard. There was a bar at the back but there were people everywhere: humans, dwarves, halflings, and even a few orcs, who stood in separate groups by the walls. But all were laughing and drinking and making merry while a bard played loud summery music that was almost lost in the din.

The place was crowded and busy and chaotic, but the travelers knew that if they wanted to find anything or anyone, they could look on the message board or ask the bartender.
BadCatMan (talk) 14:13, 24 July 2022 (UTC)

"I am not feeling up for drinking. I am going to go next door and pay for a room."

Waiting for no one, the halting's wild head of hair disappeared into the crowd again. She found her way to the bard who was playing a happy ditty, and without a single care in the world, Juniper started prancing a happy hin jig rhythmically hopping to a new but addictive song. She was not a good dancer, very much an opposite but she felt like letting out the stress of the last couple of days. Plus, a good dance would trample the food in her stomach and she'll be ready to have more treats, hopefully some strong rivengut too. She wildly danced and flailed her hands as if fighting an invisible kraken to some patrons amusement and others' drunken laughter.

OOC: performance dance roll - 2 - 1.

Ignoring the wet blanket apothecary and the far too excitable halfling, Samophlange strode up to the bar, weaving his way through the mass of patrons. He puffed out his chest and made himself very slightly taller by subtly standing on his toes as he addressed the barkeeper. "Greetings! I will have, uh, four of your most popular brew", he said, mentally counting out Brace. He repeatedly gestured with his eyes toward the hilt of his new short sword, hoping the barkeep would notice and offer a sizable discount.

The big barrel-chested and barrel-bellied bartender peered over the bar at the twitchy-looking gnome. "Something in your eye, goodman?" he queried, before noticing the pommel of the sword still lower down. His eyes lit up and a broad grin split his florid face as he boomed "Oh, why didn't you say you were a Red Boar? Well met! I served some time back myself, fought on the Blood Moon even. So, four Moon Mountain Ales coming right up! I'll put 'em on Master Rein's tab for ya—he's over there in the corner with his top brass." While he began to pour four tankards of the clear amber brew from a keg, he cocked his head to the far side of the common room. And, when the crowds parted enough, Samophlange glimpsed a group of young men in stylish crimson livery, with red-hued leather jerkins over black shirts and breeches. They were all drinking and laughing heavily, but the handsome golden-haired, dark-eyed one who sat both at the center of attention and somehow apart had to be Stedd Rein himself.

As he handed out the drinks, the bartender's eyes alighted on Korrlan's bounded-hands holy symbol of Ilmater, though this time he looked more annoyed. "You're of the Adorned, with the Monastery of St. Ulrach? Well, if you're looking for your monk, she's over with the orcs." Looking around, all they could see was a gang of big and brawny orcs gathered around some scene, bellowing and pumping the air. "Make sure she gets home alright, yeah?"

As bad as she was at dancing, Juniper was welcomed into the ring of merry dancers, not least because no one else was that great either, and they all hopped and skipped and waved their arms around wildly together. The bard's next song turned rather bawdy:

"They're far from staid after a raid,
These men of Zhentil Keep.
They kill off all the women,
For they much prefer the sheep."

"The men don't eat their ill-got treat.
Not one of them's a glutton.
So isn't it a marvel
That they always smell of mutton?"

And that raised cheers for the choice of target, not the men of the far-off Zhentil Keep, but the Zhentarim of close-by Llorkh and Orlbar, where the sheep were. Folk cast even more coins into the bard's upturned cap.

Meanwhile, wearily leaving the din behind, muffled by thick walls but not intrusive, Brace crossed to the adjoining Red Boar Inn. Here, there was large and well-furnished reception area, with a lounge and more sedate bar. A bard played gentler music, while small groups discussed business, or pleasure, or both. Hopefully it would not be too late to rent some rooms.
BadCatMan (talk) 13:56, 1 August 2022 (UTC)

Samophlange was surprised that had worked. He grabbed one of the Moon Mountain Ales and took a fortifying sip. It tasted like ale, which was reassuring. He nodded at Korrlan and Ilrien; Brace had called it a day and Juniper was… dancing? Flailing her arms around wildly in self-defense? Hard to say. "I think I know a way to drum up more work for us, if you're interested." He took another large sip and strode over to the group of red-clad officers in the corner.

"Greetings! I am Samophlange Skitterwidget, an adventurer. These are my colleagues", he gestured towards the others. "Corkaury Merrymar asked me to send his regards after we saved his life from goblin bandits."

Ilrien glanced around the room, looking at the ale and listening to the music. It took a few moments, but the loud and slightly crude atmosphere of the place was decidedly off-putting after a long day of travel. A quieter inn like those Isyan suggested to her might have suited her better, but she was loathe to leave her might-be adventuring party. So instead she followed after Brace to the Red Boar Inn.

Fingering one of the five platinum coins he had received from Blaz as a reward, Brace awkwardly approached the person behind the bar whom he assumed to be the innkeeper. "I was hoping that I could stay in one of your best rooms," he said, showing the coin. Then, he glanced around and whispered something else.
~ Lhynard (talk) 16:10, 5 August 2022 (UTC)

Ilrien heard the apothecary whisper but could not make out the words.
~ Lhynard (talk) 16:56, 6 August 2022 (UTC)

The orcs were growing louder, stamping the floor and thumping the table and chanting some orcish word in unison. It was difficult to make out, but if it translated to "Fight! Fight! Fight!" or even to "Drink! Drink! Drink!" it wouldn't be a surprise.

What was a surprise, when two soldiers of the Loudwater Guard pushed in to quiet things down and spread out the orcs, was who else was engaged in the contest. On one side of the table sat the biggest and most barbaric-looking orc, clad in hides and armor, with bone spikes poked through the skin of his forehead, ears, and snoutish nose, wearing a beast-skull-and-feathers headdress, was engaged in a combined arm-wrestling and drinking contest with a comparatively scrawny-looking human woman, with the light-brown skin and dark-brown hair of a southerner, the beaded dreadlocks of an ascetic... and wearing faded and tattered gray robes that were surely those of an Adorned monk of the Church of Ilmater. She was holding her own against the orc, and against the tankard of ale she was downing...

Apparently those of the faith were not all as dour as Korrlan Splitbark.

"Blast those orcs and their racket." one of the Red Boars muttered and they had to strain to hear the new arrival. Samophlange introduced himself and his 'colleagues', who had in fact largely gone their separate ways, Stedd Rein sat up and gave the gnome his full, if wary, attention. The rogue could tell he was sizing him up and considering his response—and not unreasonably, given his claim and his borrowed blade. "And he gave you his sword too?" Steed confirmed, nodding to the red pommel at Samophlange's hip. Then he leaned back, turning on a brilliant smile and amiable manner, beckoning expansively "Then well met and take a seat, saer! The man who saved the life of the man who saved mine is more than welcome to drink with me!" He directed his fellows to make space on the bench, and one of them got up to give the gnome his place. But as he sat, the human would loom rather large behind him. Stedd remained casual, asking "Tell me, how is old Corkaury? And how did he get into this spot of bother with goblins?" He wore a small red-gold amulet depicting a horse's head, which seemed in an odd contrast to the red boar emblem of the family business.
BadCatMan (talk) 13:57, 8 August 2022 (UTC)

"It may not be the best room, saer, what with everyone in town for Midsummer and Shieldmeet, but I can do you a nice one on the second floor." the innkeeper rumbled, making the exchange. At Brace's other question, he shrugged and cocked his head toward the lounge, where various well-dressed men and women sat alone, nursing their drinks and looking idly around as if expecting company.
BadCatMan (talk) 13:57, 8 August 2022 (UTC)

Samophlange knew the Red Boars were trying to subtly intimidate him, which only made him break into a shit-eating smirk. These people would get eaten alive in Athkatla, he thought to himself, still convinced he was dealing with utter rubes. But he would play along. He looked Stedd Rein straight in the eyes and said, "As it happens, Corkaury very nearly turned into a rat! It's a long tale, so allow me to start at the beginning…" And so Samophlange told his story, starting with how he had left Athkatla as a wide-eyed youth seeking adventure in the exotic North, then launching into the same mildly embellished account he had regaled to the militia officers earlier, only stopping to take dramatic sips of his Moon Mountain Ale at appropriate intervals.
"…and there you have it: the story of how we saved the Delimbiyr Route from goblins and worse, and how I ended up with this sword." He gave a practiced, nervous smile, hoping the Red Boars would judge him competent yet harmless. "And now we are here in Loudwater for the celebrations, and to hopefully find more adventurer's work…"

The Red Boars clustered closely around Samophlange, eager to hear his tale, even if they didn't believe a third of it. And they had many questions, as they subtly tested the truth of his words.

"Athkatla!" exclaimed one of Stedd's offsiders, "Where you studied, Stedd! What are the chances?"

"Aye, at the College of War. Ah, what was the name of that fountain out front, where we met all after classes...?" Stedd mused, but eyed Samophlange for the answer. As the story went on, they had many questions about Corkaury and the Merrymars, but fortunately the Merrymars themselves had already given him all the answers. Meanwhile, Samophlange identified his symbol: not a horse head, but the knight-errant piece of the chess game, marking him as a follower of the Red Knight, goddess of strategy in war.

At last, satisfied, Stedd raised a flagon to Samophlange. "Then you have the gratitude of the Red Boar Trading Coster, and mine." All the Red Boars took a heart drink. "As for work, well, master wererat slayers such as yourself would be more than welcome in the Red Boars! D'you fancy yourself a caravan guard in the greatest unit in the Realms, saer? Then come by the coster yard to try out... Ah, not tomorrow, I shall be away on the vigil, if all goes well." Stedd clarified, appearing casual but distracted by tomorrow's rites, while gazing thoughtfully at the table. "The day after Shieldmeet."

"And you'll be Green Regent by then!" piped in his noisy fellow.

"If the Forest Queen wills." Stedd reminded him automatically with proper respect for the goddess.
BadCatMan (talk) 14:45, 12 August 2022 (UTC)


Samophlange deftly maneuvered the questions on both Athkatla and the Merrymars with aplomb, surprising even himself. He was further surprised when Stedd offered him to try out for the Red Boars. He hadn't planned on getting just that close, but it might align with his goals. "Thank you, saer," he said in response, "I will consider it. I must confer with my colleagues, as I am sure you understand. And I wish you all the luck with the Green Regency. May your rule be… uh, verdant."

With that, Samophlange excused himself and followed his fellow adventurers over to the comparably quieter Red Boar Inn, ready for a good night's rest.

"Of course, of course," Stedd accepted nonchalantly. "Have a fair Midsummer Night, and feel free to put yourself forward for the Green Regent yourself on the morrow—mayhaps Mielikki smiles on you two, eh? Until swords part." With a charming grin, he raised his drink in farewell to Samophlange.

But once the gnome was gone and out of earshot, the Red Boars fell to talking. "You believe him?" one asked Stedd. "And you'll have that rogue in the Boars?"

"Trust but verify." Stedd advised his lieutenants sagely. "I'll check out his story with some friends in the Guard. And one of you find Corkaury; he should still be in the city. It would be good to catch up anyway."
BadCatMan (talk) 14:59, 19 August 2022 (UTC)

Brace looked at the crowd of persons in the lounge briefly, and then his eyes noticed Ilrien there in the inn with him. He nodded at her to acknowledge that he had seen her, and then went up the stairs to the second floor to find his room for the night.
~ Lhynard (talk) 15:33, 19 August 2022 (UTC)

Prologue ~ Chapter 1

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