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BOOK TWO -- Night Sacrifices

  1. A Midnight Messenger
  2. Fresh Mounts and False Starts
  3. Stooton Slough
  4. Hot Words and Cold Cuts
  5. Of Cows and Corn
  6. Flock's Lost Box

A Midnight Messenger

The night was chill and clear when Jerrico Silver took the third watch. He stood leaning on the merlons of the North Gate Tower, watching his shadow stretch across the field as the moons Maudra and Kini set in the west. The stones of the battlement were icy, as if winter had not quite given up to the inevitability of spring and was waging a secret night war against the invading season while the sun was away.

This was his favorite time, night, when everything was dead still. It was the time of gobos and angorim. Jerrico kept a sharp eye out for any movement and wished he had a bow with him. The night passed quietly, as he feared it would. But near the end of his watch, he saw movement along the road.

A lone scraggly figure ran along the road towards the North Gate, flailing its arms about as it ran. Jerrico could tell it was a human male by the strange whimpering cries as it ran. "Gobolyns! Gobolyns! The gobos have attacked!"

When it got close enough to be understood, Jerrico dashed down the stairs and threw open the postern door near the main gate.

The man was hysterical with fear. Jerrico caught him and tried to wring the news from him.

"Let me go! Let me go! I must reach the Lord. I must tell the Lord the gobolyns have attached. They came at night. The gobolyns are attacking Stooton Slough! Oh, let me go I must tell the Lord!"

Jerrico shook him, trying to focus the man's scattered thoughts. "How many are dead?"

"Lots--all of them--I don't know. I came across one in the field, all carved up."

"A gobo?"

"No, a cow."

"What about the people?"

"I don't know, I didn't SEE ANY! LET ME GO!" With a mighty wrench, the peasant pulled free and ran down Caravan Street screaming, "The gobos are attacking!" His voice only faded slightly as he turned the corner down Market towards the keep.

Shutters and doors began banging open and lamps turned up all along the street. The guard for the fourth watch and the watch captain both rushed up to Jerrico and asked what is going on. In minutes, half the town has heard the news. By sunrise, everyone had heard the story of the gobolyns' attack.

Fresh Mounts and False Starts

Felix awakens before dawn and gets his gear together. At first light he leaves the barracks and heads for the meeting place.

You step out of the barracks into the castle's courtyard. You see Jerrico is already up and saddling his horse. As you wait for the others to arrive, the captain of the guard leaves the keep. He sees you and detours towards you.

"Kiztek wants to see you," he says, then keeps going.

You go to Kiztek's office. He is bleary-eyed and his clothes looked slept in. "I suppose you've heard the news?" he says by way of a greeting.

"The attack? Aye," you respond.

"We've interrogated the peasant. He's over at Rutan's kyrhar under a sleep spell. I'm afraid he wasn't a lot of help. We still don't know exactly who or what was behind the attack, or even who the victims are. He apparently took off the moment he saw the first dead animal.

Kiztek sits back, rubbing his eyes. "I don't have to tell you this is most likely just a random gobolyn encounter. But there's always the chance it's something more. From his descriptions, it appears that at least one cow was ritually sacrificed, which means this could even be the work of the angorim or the spawn. Either way, I'm going to have to send you out to investigate. And, since there's a chance you may run into trouble, I'm authorizing you to hire up to a half-dozen freeblades, practitioners or anyone else you think useful--at standard pay--until Whitehawk arrives."

"Any questions?"

"Just two." Felix replies. " Since we need to get out into the field quickly--would it be possible for you to loan me some horses for the party. Jerrico has his own steed but I doubt any of the others do." Felix will wait for Kiztek's response- (if he says no.... Felix will politely remind him that time is of the essence and that no party can travel faster than it's slowest member and that in the event that the party should encounter trouble beyond their capability to handle--the Seven forbid!--a messenger will have to be sent back to warn the town of impending danger. Finally, if Kiztek is still reluctant, Felix will swear to compensate Kiztek himself if any of the animals should be lost or injured).

Kiztek is *very* reluctant to loan out any horses. He counter offers with a wagon but isn't surprised when you reject it, as any warrior of honor would refuse to be carted around like that. Your arguments make him pause in thought, and he half-heartedly questions whether they actually know how to ride a horse and suggests they might have to swear an oath of fealty to Whitehawk and become his men (this means giving up their freeblade status). When you finally offer to personally compensate Whitehawk for the loss of any of his horses, Kiztek relents.

"My other question is in regards to recruiting. Thus far I've found a couple of freeblades and some others who have not found a suitable mage.... Any idea where I could find someone suitable?"

"Well, there was that mage 'Liam that has been hanging around the Rat. I don't know how 'suitable' he would be. I doubt any of the local mage's would be interested in something like this. I've heard a rumor of a faeyn mage or two passing through the country from the north. You might even find one at Stooton. Of course if you're *truly* desperate," a wicked grin slowly spreads across Kiztek's face, "you can always track down t hat crazy Tephra. If you think you could stand him."

After finishing his talk with Kiztek, Felix will head down to the courtyard to meet with the others, feeling a growing sense of unease about the whole affair. Gobos were one thing... but angorim or the spawn? Well, he thinks grimly... at least Jerrico would get the action he's been waiting for.

Having awakened from a good night's rest, Phase gathers his things and pound's on d'Cur's door. "Sunup!" he yells, "lets get moving." Whether or not d'Cur joins him, he makes his way to the meeting area at the keep.

d'Cur is thrust awake by a pounding on the door, and the voice of Phase telling him to get moving. "All right, all right I'm up!" he replies, not caring whether or not Phase heard him. He can't believe it's dawn already, and lamenting those last few drinks he had the night before, d'Cur throws his clothes on grabs his daggers and whatever else he thinks he's going to need on this little adventure. Due to the f act that he doesn't have all that much, he brings it all. He leaves his room and heads toward the meeting.

Jerrico is ready for the hunt, he's always ready for the hunt. What happened last night at the Rat was what he had been waiting for.

Knowing that his short time as a guard was at an end he grabbed all of his stuff and headed for the stables. There he found his horse, Silver's Wind, a battle ready horse, but not the slow powerful steed that most use for battle She was a light fast horse, meant for the speed and distance. She was in excellent shape the stable boy had washed her and given her an excellent brush down. Her coat was clean and had a shine she had not seen in weeks. Rather than wake the young boy he saddled her himself and packed up for what was going to be a great time.

As he finished the boy awoke from the nights sleep. Seeing Jerrico's masked face in the stable quickly brought fear to the boy's face. (A hidden smile spread across his face.) Once sleep cleared from the boy's mind he realized who it was in front of him. "I'm sorry, sir." What had once been fear of his life was now a fear of disappointment. "I most have hit the spirits too hard last night. Please forgive me, I did not hear you come in."

"That's alright. You did fine.... " Jerrico liked the boy, he took pride in his work. He wanted the boy's name, for Jerrico to call someone by their name was a sign of great respect. "I'm sorry. What is your name?"

"Tylor, sir." he gave the proper bow. "Tylor, you did an excellent job on 'Wind here. Thank you." the boys smile beamed in the early morning light, his eyes held pride equal to the smile. "When I return," for Jerrico there is no "if", "I would like to use you again, if I may?"

"That would depend on my lord, sir."

"I will bring it up with him. Good day, Tylor." Jerrico turns to leave Wind's reins in his hands. A glint of silver flashes up over his head to land right in front of the stable boy. "Use it wisely." is all that Jerrico says before he leaves.

Jerrico makes his way to the meeting place. He knows what is coming and wants to be there before any one else. He takes a place at the corner of a building where he would have the best view of all that will happen. He takes measure of all that come into the area. Marking those who have the feel of action to them, those ready for the hunt. Seeing those who showed interest in the offer to go on a hunt, those most likely to join. He waits for the messenger to bring word of the attack and the formation of a hunting party. He WILL be the first to sign on.

He passes the time sharpening his knives and sword. Nothing of his will not be ready for the hunt.

As Drakon awakens in the twilight before morning, He can smell the sweet fragrances of the earth. "How I love this smell!" He says with a grin. He pulls on his clothing and armor as he wakes up. He, then, quickly goes downstairs and into the small backyard of Ashmoreth's home. He bends down and feels the cool wet ground and scoops it up, letting it fall between his fingers. Memories of his family and youth tumble through his conscious mind from his unconscious. All of the plants dying as he tried to grow them. His confusion and astonishment as an Aveayn could not farm. And, finally, a tall and youthful Steward growing a single flower in just minutes. His wonder and simple were struck with awe.

He heard Ashmoreth in the kitchen. He dusted himself off and ran back inside. "Morning, Ashmoreth!!!"

"Greetings, young Drakon, and the blessings of the Overlord upon you this new day." Ashmoreth smiles. "I see you are clothed in your armor. That is most fortuitous, for I have this moment received very ill news. It seems some force from the dark races has attacked Stooton Slough. I fear your services may well be needed. In all our discussions, however, I neglected to ask if, in your training in Xaris, you had studied schemas in the spheres of heiromancy or spirit mastery.

"In any case, I'm sure you'll be wanted at the keep. I think it best if you hurry down there now. Be wary of the dark races, remember your training and your oath to the Overlord and the Seven Servants. Now go, and may the hand of the Overlord be upon you."

"Ummmmm........ Spheres of Xaris? um oh um oh oh!! I have chosen Rutan as my high lord. Though, I have studied both nature and hieromancy magic." He looks at Ashmoreth. "Now, I need to pack to get there. Do you have anything for me to have or know?" He takes off upstairs, saying, "Other than what you just said of course!" Drakon quickly packs his gear and heads out the door to the meeting place.

Phase arrives in courtyard while Jerrico saddles up his horse. d'Cur follows closely on his heels. Jerrico leads his horse from the stables, saddled and clearly ready for action. He holds up a corner of the wall, impatiently sharpening sword. A few moments later, Drakon races in out of breath. He stops and looks around at everyone standing around waiting for Felix.

After Drakon rushes in, he drops to a knee and breathes heavily. Once he has caught his breath, He looks up and greets everyone on this fine day.

As is customary for Phase, he waits quietly while looking over the others that have joined him.

Felix enters the courtyard, he motions to Jerrico to come over and join the others. "Morning everyone, hope you got some sleep last night because we've got a long day ahead of us. As you've probably heard by now, there's trouble up at Stooton Sough. Now it's probably just a random gobo raid but Kiztek wants me to go up there and check it out.

"I've been authorized to hire up to a half-dozen freeblades to form a party. Since you're here, I guess that means you're interested. Kiztek has generously (cough, cough) agreed to loan horses for those who need them. As soon as we saddle up we'll ride up the main road. If we make good time we should get there before nightfall."

Felix takes a breath and looks at the party. "Any questions?""

"No questions from me", replies d'Cur. "Let's get on with it shall we."

"What if I've never ridden a horse before?" Phase confesses to the group.

"Well, you could ride behind someone on the back of their horse... it won't be terribly comfortable but it could be done. Is there anyone else who's never ridden?"

"I have a question." Drakon says raising his hand. When he is noticed by Jerrico and the rest. He asks it, a bit more timidly. "How do we hunt and capture gobos, sir?"

Felix looks at Drakon for a moment carefully considering his answer. " Well Drakon... as for hunting gobos... well that's a question that probably be answered as we travel as there are many techniques to gobo hunting... Jerrico can probably give some pointers as well, I imagine.... As for CAPTURING a gobo can't, say that I've ever tried to capture one... usually I just kill them".

"Kill them?!?!? Why? Everything needs a chance to live." Drakon shakes his head looking down. "I, also, have not ridden a horse."

Felix pauses for a moment, an odd look crosses his face and before you can decipher whether it is one of sadness or anger it is gone. "Perhaps... you should come with us to Stooten Slough and see the gobo's handiwork firsthand...then we can discuss what is to be done with them."

Felix then turns to address the group as a whole. "It looks like we have three non-riders and only two who've ridden so doubling up won't work. While I can teach you to ride now is probably not the most appropriate time or setting. When I had talked to Kiztek before he had offered a cart... I could see if that's still available. It's not the most dignified form of transport but it will work. Is that acceptable ?"

"We should. Gobos may follow you know who. I believe that they just need help." Drakon answers with a frown. "A cart is good."

After taking a minute to ponder the situation involving the horses, Felix addresses the group.

"Alright, so it looks' looks as if, of the lot of us, only Jerrico and I have ridden before. I think that if you're willing to give it a try, you'll be able to pick it up fairly quickly at least enough to get by. So... how about this... Drakon rides with Phase and d'Cur rides alone.... If you get into trouble Jerrico or I will lead your horses till they get calmed down." If there are no objections , Felix will lead the party to the stables where they will get the horses that Kiztek is loaning them. After saddling up and seeing that no one falls off their horse right away the party will start out towards Stooten's Slough. (as I said a long time ago the plan is to take the longer but "safer" of the two routes).

d'Cur stands, leaning against a wall, and listens to the others, idling playing with one of his daggers and more than a little anxious to be on the way. d'Cur pipes up, "I was wondering if we couldn't get on with it. I would like to get to our destination before dark, if you know what I mean." He sheaths his knife and waits for a reply. . .

Drakon runs in front of, behind of, and beside of the group. He is acting like an excited child. He had agreed to riding behind the man. He is yelping questions of the trip to the man.

Jerrico is mounted and ready to ride. His impatience is showing in his stiff posture as well as the antsyness of his horse. To himself "If that one over there doesn't shut up I'm going to knock him out."

After an odd pause where time seemed to stand still for only a moment, Phase follows Felix to the stable. Halfway there he stops and turns to Drakon, "if you're going to ride with me," he pauses for dramatic affect, "SHUT UP." He then continues to the stable and checks over his horse, looks for some oats to feed her, and leads her around a bit after the bridle is on. While still in the yard, he begins the dubious task of mounting the beast.

Stooton Slough

Sensing your unease, the horses become very skittish and both Felix and Jerrico are forced to lead them (EVERYONE'S roll was very low). After several hours of riding, you pause to rest (your butts are getting sore). When you start again Jerrico takes off without offering to lead d'Cur's horse, and as both d'Cur and Phase seem to be doing better, Felix follows suit.

The group continues on for several more hours. As the path nears the marsh, it grows narrower and more overgrown. You all slow and grow more wary and think you hear strange sounds among the dark shadows of the thick overgrowth. You remember the stories of boggarts and their illusory tricks and you watch the path closely.

As you near Pickman's Ford, you spy an abandoned guard tower. It is just barely visible among the choking vines, which hang in thick ropes from the trees and carpet the thick stone walls of the dilapidated tower. You think you see--but you're not sure--strange, almost human shapes fashioned out of tree limbs and hanging from strips of vine.

As you pass the tower you come upon a circle of five small piles of stone. All the horses come to a halt and prance nervously. Phase and d'Cur's horses whinny and bolt off the path into the brush. With a curse, Felix follows after, determined to recover the horses. Drakon leaps from the back of his horse and Jerrico just sits on his with an expression of mixed bemusement and wariness as his gaze scans the thicket across the road and the tower and stones on the near side.

Fortunately, the horses do not get far as they get tangled among the brush. Felix catches up and grabs their reins, then stops to examine them closely. For one horrified moment, Phase, d'Cur and Felix realize that they've gotten turned around and are unsure of where to find the path. Felix stops Phase and d'Cur from blundering blindly off through the brush and listens. d'Cur spies movement of something about chest high and g ray, moving through the tall brush near them and draws a knife. Seeing d'Cur, Phase readies his sword, which is awkward in the confining bushes. Felix just listens.

A few anxious moments later, Felix hears Drakon's worried chatter. Thanks mostly to his help, the three find their way back to the path and everyone decides to continue on to Stooton Slough as fast as possible, with Jerrico and Felix leading the other two horses.

As the group begins to leave the marsh and its thick undergrowth behind, everyone breathes a little easier. Even the horses seem eager to press on. Soon you are passing fields that are being tilled by residents of Stooton Slough. The fields are fenced off with gobolyn posts--rune-carved posts of wood covered with decapitated gobolyn heads, nailed gobo ears, gobo fingers, or when none of those are available, stone images of gobolyn heads with horrific grimaces carved in their faces. The farmers all seem to have spears close at hand, and you notice one farmer seems to be standing guard as if they are taking turns watching. He waves to you and you wave back.

Drakon wants to go talk to him, but as the corhar is in site, you decide to go on to the walled enclosure that passes for a village in the wilds. Even though the sun is still up (though it is starting to sink in the west) you notice the main gate is closed. Only the small postern door within the gate is open and it appears to be guarded by another spear wielding farmer.

Drakon seemed very eager to see everything and talk with anyone that the group had come upon. He oftentimes asked stupid questions or picked up little trinkets. In the swamp, when everyone got lost, he became worried and started to call out for them.

Passing the fields, Drakon stared at the gobo artifacts in shock and horror. He knows what the others had told him about evil and good, but he just couldn't get past the nauseous feeling at seeing the gobolyn trophies. Ah, they are nearing Stooten Slough. What a marvelous looking place. Drakon may have traveled in the past, but not with such a thing in mind as this.

"Felix, shouldn't you send someone to investigate the area. Look for tracks. Ask questions. I'll go." Jerrico is stern about his need to check the area. Turning his horse before the answer is given, but then saying "Before any more of the trail is ruined buy these foo... farmers." But he stops as if waiting for permission.

"Well I have no intention of going back...especially on this beast," Phase says while dismounting, "perhaps we should just find lodging and grab a pint and some grub."

Felix replies "Alright Jerrico, go scout out the immediate vicinity, meanwhile I'll see if anyone here can tell us what happened. But make sure you're back here before dark... I doubt the locals will be too keen to open the gate after that". Next, he turns to speak to the farmer at the great "Good Afternoon, my Name is Felix , my companions and I were sent by Kiztek in response to yesterday's attack. Would you please tell me where I can find who's in charge here? Also If you could show us where we could stable our mounts and find lodging for the night?"

"Kiztek's men, eh? Well I suppose Waldren will want to talk to you. He's in the big house talking to Garrick about the cows they found.

"The stables are that way," he says with a toss of his head towards the big house. "If you're staying, you'll have to stable your animals yourself, all the boys are out in the field while the men watch over them."

 Jerrico hearing what he wanted was off down the road to find the smartest farmer out on guard. He will ride up to the man and say "Tell me what happened. Where did they come from?"

You only have to go a short distance before encountering a group of farmers working in the fields. You ride up to one large man leaning on a spear. He sees your masked face and gives you a piercing stare, then seems to shrug as if he's seen a few weird things in his day. "Don't know where they came from, but Fitz found the cows last night after dark. Ryle is over by the river with some men butchering them and trying to decide what to do with the meat right now."

Uneasy about Jerrico venturing out on his own, Phase leaves his mount with the others and follows him on foot (against his better judgement).

It is not hard to find Jerrico. As you leave the village's gates you hear...

You mean that no one was attacked?" The anger echoed in Jerrico's voice, "Can you show me where the cows were killed?"

Jerrico heads over to the area indicated by the farmer. His intentions are very clear he is trying to find any clues that he might about the number of gobos that attacked and which way they came from.

(Please do remember that Jerrico is watching for everything, and if any one gets to close he may act rashly. So if that caster gets too close he may "bite" his head off for ruining the tracks. He tries to convey the sentiment with an unfortunately hidden glare.)

As you approach, you find four men who are finishing up butchering two cows.

"The Void take me before I give it to the dogs," says a gnarled older man who is butchering the cows.

"Yeah, it might be poisoned--or cursed," replies a tall gangly youth with small close-set eyes.

"You don't know that," the older man growls.

"It IS a lot of meat," adds a third observer. He is a slightly paunchy man with a bushy beard.

"All the more reason to save it." The older man emphasizes the point with a hand axe to the spine of the carcass.

"But is it safe?" asks a fourth man. He is a large man standing guard with a spear, wooden shield and leather armor.

"I wouldn't eat it," says the youth.

"I might," growls the older man. "I know something of Xaris and I sense no curse upon it."

"You are also no hieromancer, Ryle. Nor a necromancer either."

At the word necromancer, Ryle notices your approach and stops what he's doing. He stands and everyone turns to face you. Your warrior's training notices Ryle is holding both the axe and the knife, and that though no one appears to be threatening you, they do appear cautious and a little frightened.

"Who are you?" asks the large spearman. "And where to you hail from?"

Phase stops about four feet behind Jerrico, straightens his posture to display his physique, rests his hands on the pommel of his sword, and stares at Ryle without saying a word as Jerrico addresses the spearman.

Drakon is in the fields with the other farmers. He is trying to use some of his nature magic to help them out a little.

You approach them and offer to help. Before they can respond, you launch into an explanation of how you come from a long line of farmers and--though you weren't very good at it--you sought to learn how to use Xaris to aid growing things, though somehow you ended up a warrior.

As you talk, the farmers are able to do little more than stare at you in wonder. You look at their crop of corn and notice the young stalks appear to have been bent down in a something of a circular pattern...

Drakon bends over and talks to the plants, sprinkles some specially prepared dust and a specially prepared solution over them. (And rolls a 19) To everyone's surprise, as well as his own, the young corn stalks spring upright as if they had never been trampled and the pattern, whatever it was, disappears...

Drakon bends downs and stares at wonder at the stalks. "I did that?!?!?" He asks, incredulously. This is on of the few times that his magic had, actually, worked. He tries to start up a conversation with the folks around him. This will hopefully gain him some new information on the dark races.

"Wow! Did you see that?" one of the farmers turns towards the other.

"Yep, sure did."

"Them cornstalks just jumped right up like someone was pushing them up from underground."

They both turn to look at you. "How did you do that?"

(The farmers seem willing to talk--mostly about your successful schemas--but they don't seem to know anything about who caused the shape to be mashed into their crops. This is the first time anything like this has happened here.)

Felix turns to d'Cur with a shrug." Help me with these horses will ya?" Assuming d'Cur stays , Felix will stable the horses with his help. After this is done Felix says. "Alright, let's go round up the others." Felix goes back outside to where they had seen the farmer with the spear and looking for any sight, track or trace of the others.

(Assuming you just shove them in a stall, remove the saddles and throw out some feed, it's still going to take a minute or two before you rejoin the others.)

<OOC, let me know when Felix is done with the horses and back outside the gates... if Blood wants to talk to me he'll have to walk along... Felix's first priority is rounding everyone back up. I'm sure I'll arrive to late get there before Drakon casts the spell, but let me know if I see it in process... namely if I can get a glimpse of the pattern before it's gone or at least a hint that it had been there.. . >

<d'Cur takes off before you, but runs into Helmet.> You finish up with the horses and catch up to them just as they begin to head down the road. On your left are the fields. Drakon is bent over throwing some dust or something on the crops. The green corn stalks suddenly ripple as if some animal is scurrying through the field. Everyone stands back, surprised. By the river, ahead and to your right, Jerrico and Phase look as if they're about to square off and fight a group of farmers.

Hot Words and Cold Cuts

Through the haze as the party nears the village walks a short, undistinguishable figure. As he approaches, d'Cur, using his keen sense of the obvious, notices it's a dwarf. A long bearded, helmeted, stocky, and large axe wielding dwarf. The short fellow murmurs to himself and looks at the ground, apparently talking to someone that isn't there. The dwarf clumsily bumps into Cur and gives him a look over. "I be Helmut of the mighty clan Bloodaxe, weapons maker and enemy to the dark powers. Who might ye be?

"I'm d'Cur. Pleased to meet you Helmut. I'd love to stay and chat, but it seems that the rest of my companions have wondered off." d'Cur smiles, trying to be as pleasant as possible. "Felix do wait up, there's a good fellow." d'Cur trots off to join Felix's search for the rest of the group.

"Not so fast there. What be goin on? First I hear that some cows be killed, then I runs into a suspicious group like you and that there Felix." The dwarf pauses and seems to be listening to something but no one else can hear anything but nearby crickets. "Uh huh. My Father wants I should go with ye. He was a great hero you know. Finest warrior to ever be leader of me Clan Bloodaxe. Killed hundreds of the dark ones and taught me how too. Now all he seems to do is follow me around and boss me 'round. But, what he says goes. So like it or not, I'm coming with ye....That's right father I told 'em..."

"Funny you should mention the dark one's. . .we're here to flush them out for Whitehawk's men. I'm sure we could use the help. I, uh, don't happen to see your father. Is he near?" asks d'Cur. "Felix is sort of the head man around here and if you want to join, he's the man to talk to."

Helmut approaches Felix quickly, almost too quickly. He pauses turns to d'Cur and says, "My Father is dead, the old blaggard didn't get any final rest though. Seems we was double-crossed some years back." Helmut turns to face Felix once more. "The wee man there tells me ye be in charge. I want you should know I be planen' to joining yer fine party. I'll be a friend to any who wish to snuff out the dark ones... . Shut up ye ol' meathead!..." Then Helmut adds somewhat regretfully," And cause me father says so. What ye be thinkin'?"

Felix stops for a moment and looks at Helmut. "All right, come with me as I check on the others". As he walks outside he explains to Helmut about the Gobo attack and about how they've been sent to investigate. "Standard pay is one silver trochee a day... you interested?" Felix has his doubts, but they certainly could use another fighter.

"Well, it was more money than I was makin' before. Livin' in the mountains certainly doesn't pay off unless you know how to use 'em. And believe me sony lad I do. He, he, he..., I do!" After a short burst of hysterical laughter, Helmut quiets down and chuckles to himself. Then he turns and follows Felix obediently. "By the by, you wouldn't happen to know when we get to start killin' gobo's would ye?

Upon spotting Drakon, Felix heads over to him and looks around (ooc to Talus, I'm going to roll to see whether or not he detects any Xaris from the spell that was cast.)

(You're roll wasn't great, but the schema was "fresh" so you successful detect the presence of active Xaris.)

Felix address Drakon quietly and in Drakon's native language (which will be a surprise because it's the first time he's done so) " So, what have you been doing...? And did tell you to wander off?"

(I assume you are using the Faeyn equivalent of the "common" tongue? You wouldn't have any knowledge of any local "wavehopper" dialects so you might have something of an accent to his ears.)

Hearing his own tongue, startles him. It has been many years since he had last heard the language of the Wavehoppers. In a tone that is filled with surprise and longing, Drakon answers back, "How do you know the tongue of the WaveHoppers? I know, but these crops needed help. 'Sides I think I got some gossip that is useful." Drakon looks up at the man. "We go now?"

Jerrico is still searching the ground for any clues that may lead him to the gobos or any other dark races. He is glad that there is now a true fighter among the group even though he is crazy. You can always count on a dwarf in battle, but he will have to keep an eye on this one.

You are standing near the river. You can tell by the debris around you that they've been butchering a couple of cows. The group of farmers standing before you grow more nervous as you stand silently looking around. When Phase comes looming up they begin glancing at each other as if deciding whether they should just run away or not. Only the old man Ryle looks as if he's ready to fight if he has too.

"Did you see where they came from? Were they gobo's or something else? Did any one see the attack?" (Jerrico has a hunch that there is more than just gobos involved in this attack.) Jerrico is too preoccupied to be bothered by being polite. He wants answers not names. Besides if he were going to fight he would already have his sword out. Jerrico gives Phases a look. "Don't do a thing!"

Phase returns the look with one of his own that could mean either "who are YOU to give orders" or "I wasn't planning on doing anything", but you are not quite sure which. He then turns his gaze back to the men and a wry smile purses his lips. He shifts his weight to the other leg, flexes his large biceps, and runs his hand down the pommel of his sword just a bit, as if to say "I'm not one to take orders..."

d'Cur walks hurriedly, near Jerrico and Phase but trying to keep his distance in case of something ugly breaking out.

Seeing what seems to have the potential for being a bad situation, Felix walks down towards where Phase, Jerrico and the farmers are.... His pace is brisk but seemingly not hurried... he uses his staff as a walking stick and his grip tightens on it as he senses the tension between the two groups. He gives both Phase and Jerrico a wide berth and addresses the farmers directly. He straightens up and carries himself in a more aristocratic fashion than usual. Uncharacteristically, he smiles as he greets the farmers in a booming but friendly voice. "Good Afternoon to you, My name be Felix, my companions and I just rode in from Starhaven... heard you had a spot of trouble with the gobos... looks to the slaughtered cows... the gobos killed the poor beasts? Did they do any other harm?"

Helmut follows Felix to the farmers ignoring the bump by d'Cur. He makes a point to stand right between the farmers and the two tense looking people recently addressed as Phase and Jerrico. He turns to the two of them and whispers, "I'd watch what ye be doin' to them there hapless farmers or each other. I'd hate to punish ye when we haven't been properly introduced yet.... Don't worry, Father, I know where I stand...right at proper knee removal height." He then turns back to face Felix and waits for a reply from the farmers, keeping a watchful side view of the dangerous duo.

"Watch it runt," Phase snaps at Helmut as he gives him a little shove in the back. "You're at proper HEAD removal height," he says sarcastically. He glares at the townsfolk one more time, then decides squaring off with farmers is not what he signed up for. He turns and heads back toward town, looking for something that resembles a pub and a tankard of ale.

Helmut turns and laughs rather loudly at the fading figure of Phase. "Didn't anyone tell ye?" he calls out, "I'm invincible me lad'o!" Helmut turns back to a slightly stunned audience of farmers and fighters and chuckles. "If I didn't think he might actually have a worthwhile weapon underneath all that cloth, I might have made the view of things, oh, a little near sided for the young un'. Anyways he's no concern of mine, let 'im get all plastered and then see what he thinks of me." Helmut addresses Felix, "...As you were saying..."

"Did you really think that I was going to fight a farmer? Do you see a weapon drawn. If I had I would have already used it. I have a great respect for the dwarves so know that I don't wish to fight you either but don't get in my way when I am trying to do my job."

Jerrico is more focused on what the farmer has to say than any dwarf. He quickly turns his attention back to the farmers' answers to his questions.

Watching Phase storm off, the farmers turn to Jerrico, then Felix, the silent d'Cur and the strange duergar Helmet. The confusion is evident on their faces. The large man with the spear relaxes and the suspicious old man, Ryle shrugs and looks at the others.

"We didn't rightly see them," Ryle says. "Only that fool, what went running off to Neebo's saw them. He said they were waiting for him--hiding in the fields when he found the cows--A half-dozen black shapes. He didn't exactly stay and count, or look at them hard."

Helmut decides to listen quietly until he's caught up to speed. He looks at the investigating party assembled and wonders if these are all trustworthy. They certainly all look trust worthy, accept d'Cur. He has a smile that resembles a politician he once knew. Although he doesn't really seem too smart either....

Of Cows and Corn

//ooc about how much daylight have we got left?//

//ooc -- Late afternoon--nearing dusk//

Felix turns to Drakon and says, "Since you had good luck with the corn...maybe your magic can be useful here... can you check the meat to make sure it hasn't been cursed, poisoned or other wise made unsafe to eat?" Felix will then check out in the field (near where the pattern had been) looking for tracks left by the attackers. (I'll roll for it) being careful not to get in Jerrico's ways since he's probably doing pretty much the same thing.

"uh... Sure." Drakon attempts the required spell.

d'Cur feeling rather relieved that the situation didn't come to blows, asks the farmer, "So, the man didn't actually see any Gobolyns. . .just shapes in the dark." He turns to Felix and says, "Is it possible that we're on a wild goose chase? I'd hate to think we got all worked up for nothing"

Discovering how little the farmers actually know, Jerrico immediately starts examining the ground near the river to see if anything might have come up from that way. However, the silk reeds and river apples are so thick along the bank that it is impossible to tell.

Drakon turns to the meat. The farmers, who had been butchering the cow, stand back and watch curiously as he chants another schema and tosses a pinch of salt and ash in the air over the meat. Finally he leans over and sniffs it, shrugs, and says, "I guess its ok."

Felix who is in the fields, is bent over until he is nearly touching the ground. As he works, the farmers (who have been shooed away) stand around discussing the pattern that was beaten into the corn.

"I say it was a wheel. I even saw spokes."

"Nay, it was no wheel. It looked more like a river squid."

"It >was< round," interjects a third farmer.

"Ah! See?"

"But I didn't see no spokes."

"They were there I tell you."

"I thought it looked more like a spider."

"A squashed spider, perhaps," says the second."

Felix calls out to Jerrico who was already inspecting the edge of the field along the path. Jerrico hurries over to examine the spot Felix is pointing at. It is clear to both of you that one of the indentations in the ground is from a pair of spurs.

Jerrico sets out to find any more sings of the spur marks. He wants to find something that will indicate a direction that the "raiders" came from or headed in.

Felix looks up from the mark at Cur "I think you're right... this isn't the work of gobolyns... but that doesn't mean whoever or whatever did this isn't dangerous. Why don't you and Helmut take a look around the field and see if you can find some more tracks like these?"

Felix looks closely at the spur marks to see if he glean any more information from them , like the style or shape of the spur tips and the size and weight of the wearer (in comparison to an "average" human). Then he'll take a quick look around to see if he can find anymore (being careful not to get in Jerrico's way).

There are several prints that may or may not be from the farmers. Only a few have the tale-tell u-shape of a spur and none of these appear complete. You get one good partial impression of a heel and judge that that person was around average weight. Another square-toed impression (which may or may not be a spur-wearer though you judge by the style that the person probably had some wealth) show a slightly above average size meaning (you guess) around six feet--perhaps a little taller.

Helmut looks at d'Cur and decides the man wouldn't try to kill him. Steal, yes. Kill, no. He walks close to the former circle, but not to close. He tries to look at the ground but realizes his beard is in the way. Pushing it aside he looks at the moist earth to study its contents. He has experience with tracking, but not human-like as these tracks are. Unless a deer had figured out a way to wear boots. Not entirely impossible however unlikely. Although, almost any biped could wear human boots, it might be awkward though. (occ I will roll to see if I find any clues.)

"So Helmut, what do you think? Bandits? Maybe even Whitehawk's men? Either way, I've got a funny feeling about this." says d'Cur, as he's trying to stifle a chuckle at watching Helmut try to look around his beard at the ground. To Felix d'Cur asks, "How are we going to proceed with this Felix? Should be investigate these tracks further, or continue looking for those little nasty creatures?"

"Well, men for sure. Killed cows, huh? Probably not Whitehawk's men, although one can never be certain. Why would men want to slaughter cows? How big were Whitehawk's men, could they eat a whole cow?" He looks at d'Cur and gives a questioning look. "I think we might be able to track 'em, but how smart would that be if they turn out to be really dangerous? Not that I couldn't handle the lot of them by myself of course. Felix, leader, what do we do now? It's your call."

<to Jerrico>Though the light is now fading, you examine the ground closely. It has become somewhat churned up by the spectators, but you do see a few more u-shaped imprints which might be spur marks at the edge of the field near the road. They look as if they may have come from the direction of Pickman's Ford. You go back in that direction a way, but see no other signs. It could be a trick to lure you away from Stooton, or an accident, (There's really not enough marks to establish a firm sense of direction.) or they might really have come from there.

After being up for almost three days Jerrico is feeling the exhaustion. He realizes that he needs sleep more than he needs to kill any of the dark races. Lack of sleep may end his vengeance too early. He first heads for the nearest farmer and asks only one thing, "has there been any one else by here since the attack?"

The farmer scratches his head. "The attack was last night--or this morning--depending on how you look at it. But there hain't been anyone through town since then

The farmer stops a moment then adds...

"Oh, but there was a new fellow what came to town just last night." The farmer's eyes narrow suspiciously as he remembers. "Just before dusk, on the night of the attacks. He looked like a mage--or at least some sort of practitioner of magery. Had a mysterious box. Valuable, I think. He was very worried about it. He'd got drunk and lost it last night and looked all over town for it this morning."

Overhearing the farmers mention the mage, Helmut starts to wonder. "Maybe," he says to no one in particular, "maybe the boot prints are from the mage and are only wasting our time." Suddenly his eyes pop wide open and he stands up. He starts slamming his forehead with the butt of his axe saying," Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" Then he calms down a bit and sits down on the ground. " I'm a bit tired meself. I think I'll rest here a moment. It might be a good idea to find the drunk guy and question him. He might've gotten a good look at the beasts or men or whatever."

"Helmut are you okay? A bit of a bout with the ol' man eh? I don't think the footprints were made by the mage. They don't tend to wear spurs." says d'Cur.

When Felix is done with the he'll head over to where Drakon is and quietly asks him "Um, Drakon? The farmers over there are talking about some kind of pattern beaten into the corn. You didn't happen to see what it looked like before you cast your spell? Try to remember what it looked like... it could be important.

After getting his answer, Jerrico heads for the small town. In passing Felix he says, "I need some sleep. Wake me before midnight." he then continues on his way without even waiting for acknowledgment. He will look for a quiet spot near the gate and settle in to go to sleep.

(Are you sleeping outside, asking for a room from one of the city dwellers near the gate--a custom not unheard of, or going to the Green Man Inn?)

(Yes Jerrico is sleeping outside. As close to the gate or stable as he can. Jerrico knows that it is nearing the time of day that everyone heads in for the night. He will pretend to sleep while keeping an eye on all who enter noting any one out of sorts (besides the party, of course). Once the gates have been closed he will pick a good quiet spot near his horse and try to get some rest.)

(Actually there is a small cleared area near the gate under a tree where the older men like to hang out, "shoot the breeze", and talk to the occasional visitor when they come into town. No one is there now, of course, since it is dusk, but you will often find them sitting on a split log lying on the ground under the tree which will serve remarkably well as a cot. It is perhaps a little harder, but has less fleas.)

Felix thinks for a moment before he replies. "I think we've seen about all there is to see out here at least in this light. Maybe in the morning we could check out Pickman's ford since the track seem to be headed that way. But first I think we should talk to the fella in charge here... think the farmer at the gate said his name was Garrick. Maybe he knows more about what happened." Felix has his doubts but it' s worth a shot.

Since there was no mention of Phase's current status I am assuming he found a spot to quench his thirst. He decides to do as much "investigating" as his small mental capacity will allow. "It's a shame what happened to those cows," he says loudly to the bartender hoping to attract the attention of anyone who might have a story to tell.

You return to Stooton Slough, which appears to be little more than a walled enclosure surrounding a couple of dozen cramped houses. Because travelers do sometimes pass through here on the way to Starhaven on the coast there is one house which also serves as the village's sole inn/tavern. It has a sign of a little green man holding up what might be a mug of ale, or (in this dim light) a goofy looking skull. The regulars used t o call it the Drunken Gobolyn, but now, with all the Gobo rumors, people have started calling it the Little Green Man Inn (so as not to jinx the village). The tavern keeper relates all this with a sad shake of his head as he serves up your drink. (You are the sole customer here.)

"So have YOU ever seen a goblyn?" Phase asks absentmindedly...more to keep away the silence than find out information.

The bartender pours himself a draft. "Me? Oh, sure! Lots of times. At least, I think I have. That's the thing with gobos, they love the dark. Sometimes it's hard to tell. Plus they have those dark schemas. Can make themselves change, look like whatever they want.

"Now I heard tell that Garrick ran into one once, maybe six or eight years ago. Said he was late coming back up from Neebo's and took the River Road, heard a weird hooting and tramping coming up the path and hid himself in the bushes. Said a gobo walked right by him, close enough to spit on. But, and this is the thing, it was all a-changing as it walked. It seemed to get bigger and smaller, so it was hard to look at or know which way it was walking. And parts of it, like its head and feet, kept swelling up and shrinking while making a horrible whistling noise.

"Said it was the most horrible sight he ever saw, he did."

"I'm just trying to figure out why a gobo would kill a bunch of cows and not take the meat. Doesn't make sense to me."

The bartender throws back his head and laughs, exposing a few gaps in his teeth, which have several dead gray ones looking as if they're ready to go. "Don't make sense? Gobolyns? That's a good one!" The bartender laughs some more, then slowly grows serious. "What bothers me is the way they was killed. They was cut up on purpose. Shows too much thinking for gobos if you ask me."

Phase laughs nervously as if he meant to make a joke, then drops his tone down a little to mimic the seriousness of the barkeep, "so if you don't think it was gobos, who do you think it was?"

Felix will go inside the gate and ask the farmer at the gate where he can find Garrick. Then he will walk over to the inn and step just inside the door and say to Phase"

Phase, We're going to talk to Garrick, would you like to come too?" Felix will wait about two seconds for a response and then head over to Garrick's.

"Naw, unless you think this Garrick might try to get nasty with ya. Ask him about the gobos he's seen, guess he's pretty experienced with them." Phase turns back to the bartender to continue their conversation.

Flock's Lost Box

About a week ago a message came to Tamias (Flock's Master). It was from an old colleague named Darieth, now studying the strange magical phenomena in the city of Ergos on the island of Roesh-Kephalia. Tamias immediately asks you to take a small box to Chalcedon and meet a messenger named Avyn there.

Four days later you are in the library-city of Chalcedon. Desiring that you make the most of your opportunity, your master has asked you to purchase some books for him and to look up an old friend or two. After spending a day attending to these errands, you return to your inn to find your room has been ransacked. Fortunately the box was not taken, as you've kept it with you the whole time. Nothing was stolen, so you assume t he thieves were after the box. You're tempted to open it, but it is magically sealed and will only open for Darieth.

You take refuge in the ensorcelled house of one of Tamias' friends. After several days of waiting, it appears Avyn is not coming. Fearing the worst, you decide to send your master's books back to Argentium with a trusted courier along with a magically encrypted message stating, to the effect, that you are journeying south to Starhaven to find Avyn. If necessary, you are prepared to go on to Ergos yourself.

Disguising yourself as a merchant of magical supplies, you find a boat heading downstream and take it as far as Stooton Slough where it puts in for the night. You decide to visit the village's single tavern in hopes of find some news of Avyn. You wake the next morning with a raging headache and a metallic taste in your mouth that tells you you've been drugged. The box is gone. You rush back to the dock to find your boat has left as well. Your are fortunate to discover, however, that your small chest of personal ceremonial supplies has been sold to a wandering boojo man who agrees to sell it back to you for a small price and a few magical trinkets. Since he has been unable to work the simple magical lock, your chest is unmolested.

After re-acquiring his chest, Flock looked around the dock, trying to decide what to do next. He considered, briefly, sending a second message to Tamias, but, as that would involve explaining his mistake, he quickly rejected it. "I can find that box myself," he thinks, "it was probably just some dumb kids who won't know what to do with it anyway..."

His mind made up, he starts back to the bar, hoping to find out more about what happened last night (trying to remember himself along the way). He also decides that, if he hasn't found anything by late afternoon, he would best try to continue on towards Starhaven, and hopefully find Avyn or Darieth himself.

Worn out, both mentally and physical, from a wholly unproductive day, Flock drags himself back into the bar. He picks a stool a couple of empty seats away from a blond haired man. The barkeep seems to be talking to him, so he waits solemnly for a pause in the conversation.

"Ah!" He looks at Flock as he walks in through the door and leans forward conspiratorially, speaking [to Phase] in an undertone. "I don't rightly know, but the way they was carved up--it looks to be some sort of *ritual* if you ask me." He touches the side of his nose and nods knowingly, then straightens and acknowledges Flock. "Greetings stranger, how have you been since last night?"

Flock chuckles mildly. "Not so good, in fact, my friend. Was just passing through town yesterday, stopped in at this find establishment for the night, and woke up this morning in a... rather disheveled state, I'm afraid."

He turns briefly to the barkeep, "Say, friend, you got anything stronger than that poison you gave me last night? I don't much want to be sober right now."

He mumbles to himself, "Well, I've asked everyone else...," then turns to Phase and asks, "I don't suppose you've seen a small box--about this size--wandering around the area, have you? In waking up this morning, I found it was no longer on my person, and have been trying, unsuccessfully, to find it all day."

"Sorry," Phase replies still thinking about what the bartender just said, "I arrived only today and have seen nothing but dead cows, scared farmers, and the bottom of my tankard." Phase plops down the empty mug and looks to the barkeep to refill it. "There must be something interesting in this box for someone to roll you for it. I would expect something like that in Starhaven, but not this hole."

You wander into the Little Green Man, about the only tavern/inn in this town. It is currently empty except for the bartender and two patrons sitting at the bar, one of which is Phase, who is talking to someone you don't recognize. Phase acknowledges you with a nod of his head and continues talking to the stranger. The barkeep puts down his own tankard and looks at you obviously waiting for an order.

Drakon moves to sit with his colleagues. "So, what do we know?"

Just as you walk over to Phase and Flock to ask your question, Felix comes in with one of the townsfolk and begins to question Flock. They move over to a table where everyone can sit, so you join them. Phase stays at the bar to watch from his perch on a barstool.

I sit down and listen to them. They came in with such a rush of motion that
it must be important.

The Big House is a 2-story stone tower. The stones have been plastered over, but you can tell from the lumpiness that they were rather roughly cut. The whole impression you get is that it is a little crude, but strong enough to be serviceable. The front door is shut, but unbarred and unguarded. Inside is an empty hall. Wood has been laid in the fireplace, but no fire has been started as yet. You hear talking drifting down from somewhere upstairs.

A dark stairwell to one side gives access to the next story. At the landing there are two doors. One is open and you can see through it two men smoking pipes and talking. One man is sitting, the other is pacing before a fire.

As you approach you hear: " you still can't tell me what this is about?"

"We've heard rumors of gobo activity for a while now so I can only guess that this was one of their raiding parties..."

"But you yourself said it didn't look like they were after the meat..."

"...and I don't know why they would be stirred up now..."

"So what do we do?"

"Well," the man pauses for a second, "Kiztek's men are here, I suppose we lock up tight each night and hope they can take care of this."

Felix walks slowly into the room and addresses the two men. "Pardon the interruption, but is one of you Garrick? I was told I could find him here. My name is Felix, I just got here from Nebo's Landing this afternoon, heard you might have had some trouble with the gobos... Kiztek asked me to bring some men and check it out."

The man pacing the floor turns to you and takes a second to look you up and down, "I'm Garrick, I came down to meet you as soon as I heard you arrived but you had already wandered off."

The conversation is interrupted by some hurried footsteps and one of the farmers appearing behind you in the doorway. "We're closing the gate," he says.

"I want two--no three men on four hour shifts all night," Garrick replies.

You hear a bell ringing in the background. The man takes off as Garrick yells after him, "and no drinking on watch!" He takes a second to collect himself and refocus on who you are, "I hope you have some good news for me."

Felix replies to Garrick," well I have news... though I'm not sure how good it is. We took a good look around where the cows were killed. I'm beginning to think it wasn't gobos at all. Whoever did this killed the cows but left the meat, beat a strange pattern into the corn and left boot tracks and spur marks. Looked like two individuals, one a bit heavier than the other and the tracks seemed to lead towards Pickman's ford. Have there been any strangers though here in the last couple of days"

"I wouldn't rule out the gobo's," Garrick replies, "but I think you're right about someone else being involved. We've had a couple of strangers in town last couple of days, think one of 'em is still around, he's been pestering everyone about a box that he's lost. I thought the other came with him, but he seems to have disappeared sometime last night." After a pause he asks, "has your party settled in for the night?"

Felix shakes his head. "Actually I not sure where everyone was headed when I left them to come see you, no doubt most of them probably headed for the tavern I saw on the way over, the one with the little green man on the sign. Is there anyone who can tell me more about these to strangers... I'd like to have a talk with the one who's still around of course. It's interesting that the other fellow disappeared last night. Since that's when the trouble started... don't you think?"

"No one seems to know a whole lot about the man that disappeared, didn't make to much of himself so everyone left him alone, and no one saw him leave either." Garrick grabs his cloak and begins to put it on, "I've had my men keep track of the other. He should be in the pub, perhaps we'll go have a talk with him." Garrick leads you out of the house and over to the Little Green Man.

As you step in you find the stranger at the bar talking to the barkeep and Phase.

"Can we have a word with you?" Garrick addresses Flock.

Flock has already started to get a little drunk at this point, and his response comes out a bit slurred. "If you buy me another drink, my friend, you can have as many words as you please." He looks carefully around the bar, and, after only a few moments, spots an empty table. Motioning to it shakily, he gets up, and, with only a little help from the newcomers, makes his way there.

Garrick responds with a stern look as he guides flock over to the table. "I'm not accustomed to buying information in my own town. You don't seem to understand that you are the primary suspect in a pretty serious crime. You could be working off the value of those cattle for several years if you're found guilty, now I suggest you talk." He looks over to the barkeep and waves him off as if to tell him there will be no more drinks served at this table until he says so.

As the three of you sit down, Drakon joins you, eager to enter into the conversation.

Phase turns around on his barstool, leans back, and props his elbows up on the bar so he can watch the interrogation with a slight smile.

After it sinks in, this comment helps Flock sober up some, and he makes his response. "Now wait just one burning minute!" he says, louder than he should, "*I'm* not accustomed to being accused of serious crimes in towns I visit, and I would suggest that you treat me with a little more respect while you explain what this is all about."

Drakon is behind the group. Keeping an eye out and observing everything. No one is paying him any heed.

The sun has disappeared below the horizon and the bright blue sky has slowly faded to a soft gray as the stars have just begun to appear in the evening sky. A small cart lead by a mule is driven up to the group slaughtering the cows and they all begin loading the meat. The sound of a bell echoes from the direction of the gate. "Hurry now, they may not even open the gates for us tonight," one of the men says as they all quicken their pace to finish the load. Once they are done they head off toward town.

Helmut, still outside the town gate, watches the guards begin to close up the city for the night. He turns to d'Cur, "Sometimes I wish I'd have killed the old geezer meself. The city is settling in for the night. We had better be headin' in doors. I'm kinda hungry. I wonder what they've got to eat in this pidly little town, besides butcher'd cow.

"I believe that everyone else has headed into town to find a tavern. Can't say as I blame them, I could use an ale to take the edge off of the earlier tense situation."

You and d'Cur just make it in behind the meat wagon as they close the gate to the city. Once shut they ring a large bell to signal the town that they are shut in for the night. You wander into the Little Green Man, just about the only place you can find some food (without infringing on the generosity of the locals). You follow Felix and another man into the pub, which is pretty much empty except for the barkeep, Phase, and someone you don't know sitting at the bar. Felix and the man he is with go over and begin talking to the stranger at the bar.

(Jerrico) You take up a spot near the gate as dusk approaches. There is a large pile of firewood that one of the townsfolk is pulling from in order to stoke the fire in a large fire ring. Several others have pulled out the larger logs and used them for chairs. It looks like they are planning on being there a while. One of those that have been on guard walks over to a large bell next to the gate and rings it a couple of times as the other begins untying the ropes that secure the gate open. Soon groups of tired farmers walk through the gate and disappear into the small town. You don't notice anyone or anything that might seem out of place, except for a small wagon carrying a large pile of meat and the odd couple of Helmut and d'Cur wandering in behind them.

Once they are in the gate is closed and secure, The large bell is rung again and the two men that have been on guard grunt farewell to the three that have settled in. You make your way to the stables where horses have been tied and find a warm corner to catch some sleep.

Helmut, after a good bout of beef on an axe, wanders into the bar mostly because that's where all the movement was. He sees one slightly drunk mage being questioned by some of his fellow companions. Phase with that dumb smile. And than more of his companions being interrogated by someone he doesn't recognize. He walks up to the tipsy mage and stands to watch, motioning for d'Cur to follow.

You see the anger well up in his face as it turns bright red and a few of the veins on his forehead pop out just a little bit. You think for a moment that Garrick is about resort to physical violence but he makes an obvious attempt to restrain himself. After a moment he continues on through clenched teeth, "Why don't you just tell me when you came into town, why you're here, and your whereabouts last night?"

The pub has begun to fill a bit as some farmers have come in for their nightly pint. They all notice the tension in the air and keep a careful eye on your table. The realization that you are a stranger in this town washes over you as you look into their eyes.

Felix watches Garrick and Flock but says nothing. It's Garrick's town, Felix reasons, so why not let him have first crack at the guy? Should Garrick actually lose it and start wailing on Flock, Felix will try to break it up get Garrick to calm down.

Flock also makes his best enough to control his temper. "I," he begins, distinctly enunciating each word, "came into town yesterday, just passing through. I was here last night; I left to try to find an inn, at which point I was attacked, beaten, and robbed. I've spent today trying to regain my possessions, without success."

He pauses briefly, then, "If there is nothing else, kind sir, I believe I have had my fill of this establishment."

"Now hang on a minute," Garrick says in a much calmer tone, "I think I need a little more information from you." You get the idea that he may be trying to prove a point. "If you've been beaten and robbed, perhaps you need to come talk to me. Do you know who did this to you? And exactly what was stolen from you?"

Phase suddenly speaks up, "he's looking for a little box..." He's obviously a little intoxicated and enjoying the show a little too much.

"A box?" Garrick replies to Flock, "what would be in this box?" He looks over to Felix to see if any of this means anything to him.

Felix looks to Garrick and shakes his head no then turns back to Flock to see if he has anything more to say.

Drakon is at the table, listening to Felix, Flock, and the others.

Phase gets a decided but unreadable look before Flock continues, "*If* I knew who did it, I'm sure I would currently be talking to them, not you. As for what was in the box, I'm afraid that's not something I'm prepared to reveal, even if there were less ears in the vicinity. Suffice it to say that I'm... quite interested... in getting it back, and would thank you respectively for any aid you can proffer."

"There was another man that came into town about the same time you did, what can you tell me about him?"

"Yeah, I've heard about him, too. Unfortunately, everyone seems to know nothing about the guy, and even less about where he was heading. I don't suppose you could shed any light on the subject."

Garrick thinks for a moment, obviously frustrated that he hasn't found more. He looks to Felix and says, "I've got to make my rounds, and I don't think we're any closer to the answer than when we started." He gets up from the table, "let me know as soon as you find out anything." With that he turns and leaves the pub with a wave and a nod to some of the townsfolk drinking in the corner.

"Whelp! I guess I'm off to sleep. Phase staggers out the door to find a warm spot he can lay his head."

Flock stands up as well. Before deciding what to do next, he looks around and tries to gauge the general attitude the remaining patrons have developed towards him.

By in large they are ignoring you, although you do catch a few wayward glances in your general direction. I would just remind you that you are in a VERY small town where everyone knows everyone else. While they are somewhat used to having travelers come through the town, the events from last night have everyone on edge and somewhat leery of strangers.

Deciding that no one's quite in the mood for his company, Flock walks over to the barkeep and inquires both about a room for the night and when the next morning the first Southward bound ferry would be leaving.

(It is still early in the season for regular traffic, but one can generally expect one every three to five days at this point.)

After finding a place to stay but before he turns in for the night, Felix recalls that Jerrico wanted to be awakened before midnight. Felix wanders around the town for a bit before finding Jerrico in the stables. After a mumbled "see you in the morning". Felix goes back to his own lodgings and calls it a night."

Jerrico finds himself prowling the commons at midnight. It is a familiar
position, one he is comfortable with. He looks for moving shadows, listens
for snapping twigs or the scuffing of a flapping gobolyn foot. He
encounters only dozing guards, who sit up straighter or even stand when
Whitehawk's man walks by.

Jerrico watches the stars slowly turn overhead, and wonders what he's doing
here. Is he wasting his time? What is really going on? He thinks about
heading back to bed, but stubbornly keeps his watch, daring
someone--anyone--to try any mischief.

Just before dawn, he hears the cry. "Gobolyns! Gobolyns! The Gobolyns are
attacking Plogge Magre. Open up!" He hears a man running along the road
outside the town wall.

"Oh, no. Not again," Jerrico thinks as the man arrives at the gate and
begins pounding on the thick timbers.

The guards lifts the bar and beings to open the doors...