The cold harsh winds of the North Sea skate over the Bay of Bangle and barrage the shores in Port Parlone. Grey and hard, the town is not much larger than a village; but, there is plenty of activity as it is the only major port of Parlone capable of housing the large merchant ships of the south. Square sails of the northern Grewhains, arrow sails of the thriving Empire of Sandoria, and the mighty spirit sails of the trade merchants of Thrayce speckle the extensive docks in the early morning.
Nothing but dun coloured scrub grass, rock pines, and bramble seems to grow on this solid rocky land. While there are massive forests to the north and grass plains further than the eye can see to the west, as soon as you reach the coast of Parlone everything turns to stone. The people go about their brisk unfriendly business in simple grey smocks and tight dark-blue wool tunics and breeches. The only splash of colour you see is from the southern merchants or the glint of polished steel from weapon or jewelry.
This port services all of Parlone a country that stretches almost as wide as the continent. So, most people who are in Port Parlone are not from Port Parlone. And the people from Port Parlone are probably loading ships or working lumber: as the Spikestone River delta supplies most of the wood for all of the Northern Kingdoms. In fact, the Spikestone River is nearly unnavigable due in part to the inordinate amount of logs being worked down the stream.
Lornaal, Terrance, and Talton have been here before and are accustom to the blunt nature of the citizens or Port Parlone; but, the rest of you are quite surprised how little politeness and long meaningful smiles get you in this bleak town.
Hanging off the edge of the North Dock, with frighteningly little support, is the Blunt Nail Tavern the major watering-hole of Tars and Salts alike. There is usually a boiling mixture of trade and theft spiced with the intoxicating allure of men with needs…and men with wants.
While none of you is destitute, there is a burning ache to get back toward a real goal again. The last time you were in the exhilarating fix of battle was deep in the Winter Wood just outside of Rainarch where you pitted wits and brawn with a real, live, not mythical, manticore. What a feisty beast that was!
So, as the morning passes to afternoon and the ales start coming slower, and the stories start getting longer, you all become transfixed by a grizzled old man who is past his seventies, if but a day, talking of the Northreach.
Listen here. I know what you folks are. Nothing to be ashamed of. The world needs people who get things done. I was once a young man who got things done. I been all up and down this land and I seen a fair share of the otherlands too. Hell, fifty years ago I almost got a front-row seat to visit the Hellion Palace in chains…I had to decline respectfully.
He sits back and raised his ale to his lips. The scars on his face and arms are obvious and the cord-like muscles on his forearms belie any thought of weakness in this elderly man. A strange black sash is wrapped around his neck and he keeps resting his right hand on something just under the table like a cane or a walking stick.
If I were you folks, I wouldn’t wait for sum such lord to come and offer me money so you can kill his enemy or maybe sleep with his daughter: I’d go to the Northreach.
He nods to Lornaal and switches from the polite trade common to Thentic.
The tribes need help at the Spine. Things aren’t what they seem. The Northwatch has failed and there might be hell to pay. You know this.
Looking back at the group he again speaks in common, adjusting his weight slightly to the left.
Don’t think it is all moral and mighty out there..there’s treasure out there. Most of the tribes have nothing to do with the gold they find from their raids, and there are two abandoned keeps that haven’t seen occupation in a hundred years…and they don’t get many visitors out there.
But, most of all, if you can figure out why every bloody greenskin from the horn of Welt to the tip of the Blackwood has been heading back to the homeland: there just might be some serious material reward.
Heard some muster from some shady sources that there is a new man in charge just over the Spine. Mayhap, he has a horde of wealth and the itching need to spend it so his children of Lodd can lay waste to the Northland once again.
The old man stops short and looks sharply at Talton.
Check your scriptures Brother. Try to read through the lines. Mayhap, if they didn’t burn everything you need to know…but the years of the hordes are real and they can come again.
He pauses introspectively. For the first time seemingly unsure about what to say.
I once heard a prophet, it seemed real, but you never know. He said the darkness is arising, the fallen angel is returning: so too must my replacement. Could be gibberish, could be something. All I know is that I’ve never been so sure of something my entire life.
Clearing his throat loudly he leans back again and makes sure to catch each one of you in the eye.
What do you think?
Sebastian rubs his chin thoughtfully and glances around the table. In Thraycian, loud enough for anyone who understands to hear, he mutters…
I think the old man is a few cups in…
Smirking, he looked around the table once more…
Still, it’s been too long since i’ve had any deeds worth singing about. Should we wander once more?
Cora looks at the old man to see if he is mad or just had one to many.
Who are you sir? How do you know us?.
I agree with Sebastian I grow weary of this town and seek more excitement!
Although he maybe leading us into a trap the chance of riches untold has tweaked my interest.
Alma shares the rest of the companies interest in moving on and finding further adventure. He is a little hesitant to head further north into desolate frozen wastes, but decides to keep his reservations to himself. He instead starts to survey the room for a serving wench, preferably a pretty one. If the frozen north is the direction Alma intends to have his belly warmed by wine and his bed warmed by a fine woman.. Or two, could be a long journey.
North it is then… In the morning I assume
With that Alma excuses himself to corner the finest wench in the place and ply his charms, or coin if need be.
T ’Alen takes a slow pull of his drink, and leans forward towards the old man
What do you know of the lands beyond the spine old one? Have you any maps, or writings of the area?
T ’Alen leans back in his chair a bit waiting for an answer
And how do you know what we are?
Sebastian picks up his banjo and begins to pluck… looking at T’Alen he says
Sacre bleu Wizard, we carry enough arms to raze this town twice over. What else could we be?
Catching the eye of the serving wench Alma is ogling, and indicating the old man, he shouts:
Madamoiselle! A drink for our new friend! Also mon frere with the big sword would like a word with you…
Grinning he picks up the pace on his banjo and begins to sing…
In the morn we march on the great white north, on our way to cut down any horrors that spring forth, I and my fellows we are the eight, for any who oppose us death will not wait…
Lornaal found the warmth and shelter of the tavern to be a welcome respite from the winds shrieking in off of the bay. The promise of ale did not hurt either.
While none of his companions would find Port Parlone to be anything more than a dreary backwater, to one who grew up in the shadows of the Spinereach it was as cosmopolitan a town as one was likely to encounter. The size of the southern ships impressed Lornaal, as they always did. The sounds of the slippery southern tongues were like worms in his ears.
The drab colours that made it difficult to know where the stoney shore ended and the grey surf began were unlike those of home. The deep, almost encompassing greens of the pine forests echoed in Lornaal’s mind. He pictured the high meadows in spring, bedecked with glorious blankets of flowers, then the hush that covered the land after a fresh snow-fall. There was a raw beauty to the Spine Gulch and its absence filled Lornaal’s heart.
Seated at the table with his companions, he turned his attention to the pressing need for beer. The battle with the mantacore had been trying and the long march from the Winter Woods had been taxing, even to a man with his size and vigour.
As the day began to slip away and Lornaal set his mind on getting drunk, he was drawn to the greybeard and his intimate talk of the Northreach. To be honest, he had hardly heard a word that his companions had spoken, or the telling and re-telling of their stories and exploits. Somehow, though, this grizzled man seemed to speak directly to Lornaal, making his heart sick again, in a strange and infuriating way.
When the man suddenly turns his attention to Lornaal and switches to the tongue of his people, he stiffened. He recognized the words as those that lived in his own heart. There was a warning there, or perhaps a recognition.
After that, however, the man’s words and their meaning were utterly lost on Lornaal. Instead, his mind soared to the north. Like a hawk he saw the foreboding entrance to the Boneshatter pass, still covered in snow, and the lost warriors of his tribe picking their way towards Lodd on their planned raid.
Suddenly restless, his great thirst made even more powerful by these ruminations, Lornall raises his voice in a tone often used to speak through the shrieking winds of a mountain pass,
Ale. And keep them coming.
Cora sit quietly listens to the old man tell of who he is and why he knows so much about us. She begins to look for the wine cellar.
If I going to be on a long adventure I’m going to need some wine to drink. LOTS of wine.
She say to herself as gets up to find the wine cellar.
Terrence leans as he take a sip of his wine. He’s eager to hear more from the old man.
Thoughts of this old adventurer kicking ogre ass back in his youth churns up a fire inside. Who is this old man? What has he seen? What does he know? Where is his house? What treasures lie within it?
Time to apply my skills, he thinks to himself and when able he quizzes the old man and scans him closely looking for anything out of the ordinary
9 = 2[d20]+7
25 = 17[d20]+8
T ’Alen pauses drinking as a thought passes through his mind
Could this old timer know of the fabled city, maybe he could provide clues to its where abouts or maybe know someone who does
He Leans in closer to the old man with an eager look in his eyes
Roll: 1d20 +12
12(d20) +12 =24
for those about to walk(north)… FIRE! We salute you…
Finishing his song, Sebastian bowed with a flourish. Jumping down from the table he didn’t remember climbing onto, he plopped down next to T’Alen and leaned closer to his countryman…
Has grandpapa reavealed any more about the journey we intend to take?
He asked in their native Thraycian.
I am eager to begin, but the perils we will soon face will likely make the travels of our past seem like a day at the Kings spa.
The tales told around the table with this group of adventurers whom I had accepted as friends and valuable allies churned something inside of me. I was intrigued by the old man. My companions seemed to share the same sentiment.
Which is the best course of direction if we are indeed heading out on the morrow?
I yearn to catch the trail of those beasts again. And if they are heading back to their homeland in such numbers, there must be a reason why.
Leaning back in his chair and raising his ale in appreciation for the friendships and good music, Matrim was excited to see how the morning would unfold.
Once Cora finds wine cellar door. she begins to case the tavern making sure no one is watch the enterance to close as to notice as she slips in. This isn’t her first time stealing from a tavern.
She begins to think of her parents and the first time she stole from a tavern. He father told her to go and get her a bottle of wine. They were going to celebrate the completion of the her first Four Leaf Clover heist. She had no money so she like any good thief she walked into the the crowded tavern. Right to the wine cellar doors and down into the cellar and grabbed 2 bottle of their best wine.
Unfortunately she forgot to check to see if anyone was watching. So as she start up the stairs to find the bartender and 2 bouncers were wait for her to come out.
Can I help you?
The Bartender yells. This scared Cora she wasn’t expecting anyone to have seen her. She froze not sure of what to do next.
Who are you?
The bartender yells at Cora. This sparked Cora, instantly she replies
Yes!! Do you realize you have been sold watered down wine?
The bartender replies.
I bought that from my friend Ulgorf I have been buying from him for years now I don’t believe he would rip me off.
Cora thinks to herself “can this get any easier”
I know Ulgorf has sent me to let you know that he bought his last batch from a travelling merchant and that every bottle that was sold to him would be return in a couple days free of charge.
The bartender replies,
I have a tavern to run here I can’t sell watered down wine here. You tell Ulgorf I expect to see the bottle here by tomorrow morning or I am going to have the city guards after him
Cora jesters the bartender to lend her his ear,
Now sir you know Ulgorf is a man of his word and when he says he will have you the replacement bottle in a couple of day. He will have the bottles for you. He is right now riding to the next city to get them and wont be back by tomorrow. He told me to apologize for the inconvenience and say that no one should notice the difference.
The bartender says,
You might be right. I mean they haven’t said anything yet. Thank you umm What did you say your name was.
Just then some yells,
The two bouncers and the bartender run off to break the fight up and Cora quickly slip out the backdoor. Where her mother and father were waiting patiently for her. Her father says,
And what have we learned from this lesson?
Always pay attention to your surroundings never assume the things are as easy as they seem.
Cora smiles as she continues to watch the tavern for possible threats to her plan. Once she is sure no one is watch she slips down into the cellar.