Alma and Cora
The taproom of the Tundrein Inn has calmed greatly since the arrival of the mayor, Peter Frund. Many of the villagers, having decided that there is no further excitement to be had this night, file out, making for the comfort of their own hearths.
The portly mayor sits smiling, occasionally rubbing a large, sweaty hand over his thin hair as though ensuring that it evenly covers the baldest parts of his pate. He waits for you to finish your meal and drinks before settling to business. When at last you each push back your wooden bowls and slouch in your chairs with contented looks upon your faces he first turns to Cora.
Of course, my dear, I will have a hot bath drawn for you at my own home, just next door. It would be my pleasure to cover your expenses at this very fine establishment this night. I believe that you will find Miss Goldbrook’s hospitality is every bit as fine as that of any reputable establishment in the southern lands.
Weaving his hands together and setting them before him on the table, Peter assumes a direct and business-like manner.
Regarding the weapons and armour that you have, er, liberated, I believe that my son-in-law Jessep Wright, a merchant serving the logging camps, would be a willing and capable agent in their transport and sale in Port Parlone. Prices there are fair and young Jessep often travels there on business. The price that you have offered, however, is somewhat low considering the dangers of the road and the necessity to forego other, profitable cargoes that he might otherwise transport. Perhaps I might recommend a 45% share, the rest to be held either in Port Parlone or else here, at my residence, in trust until your return?
Cora, you watch the mayor keenly, seeking to discern whether he is low-balling you or not. Unfortunately, the man’s demeanor is impenetrable and you can only assume that he is treating fair with you. Looking to Alma, you see that he is watching you, waiting for a gesture to indicate whether the mayor is on the level. You nod briefly before turning back to the fresh pint of ale that has just been set before you.
The negotiations continue on, with Alma only slightly distracted by the presence of a tall, lithe Brauman girl in the full flower of her youth. Her brown hair is plaited down her back and her gown wonderfully frames her budding womanhood. She stands demurely by the bar, her green eyes occasionally turning to meet yours. Peter Frund, catching the direction of your gaze, smiles proudly.
Ah, my daughter, Brianna. Come my dear. It would please me if you returned home to draw a hot bath for our courageous guest.
The girl curtsies, casting one more quick gaze at Alma before gracefully crossing the taproom and disappearing out the door.
There is elvish blood in my family, but I swear I never saw it until that girl was born. She is the last of my children to yet live at home, and she is my greatest treasure.
The negotiations continue until the matter is settled. Peter rises, insisting that the bath must be hot by now. He bids Alma good night and leads Cora to the two story timber building next door that is his home. While his house is modest by comparison with those in the south, it is well built and finely adorned for a village in Parlone. You note several small items of value, but as you pass through the den into the small room off of the kitchen where the large bronze tub steams, you notice a finely wrought short sword of Brauman make, with a burnished bronze handle and intricate designs set in its hilt. The blade hangs above the stone mantle of the main hearth. Its design is heavily stylized but the base of the hilt culminates in the snarling maw of a wolf or dog. Its eye is a small ruby that reflects the light of the lanterns hanging about the room.
The girl, Brianna, an apron covering her dress, escorts you into the bath, setting a towel and a cake of brown soap next to it. She curtsies shyly before leaving you in privacy.
Cora, Sense Motive: 9 (d20+6)
Matrim and co.
An uneasy feeling passes through the party as you stand before the bone-clad snag with the sun quickly disappearing below the western horizon. Both Lornaal and T’alen express their wishes to be away. With silent consent, the party turns and retraces their steps, heading south into the gentle hills.
The thick clouds obscure the waning moon and the landscape quickly grows dark. After a mile of travel it becomes too dangerous to continue blundering in the gloom. A small gulch, carved in the soft soil by rainfall offers the best shelter around. The twisting gully, running down the south face of a grassy hill is filled with a copse of beach. As the group pickets their horses Lornaal climbs to the top of the hill, staring into the darkness to the north. The question of whether a fire should be lit or not is just raised when a low howl echoes through the night and is met by a second and third.
A noise just outside of the camp causes everyone to turn, grasping for weapons, but it only proves to be the returning Lornaal.
I can see nothing out there.
Settling in amongst the beeches without a fire, you each wrap yourselves tight against the cold air. A watch is set and from the vantage of the hill top you each take a turn looking into the darkness, your senses probing the night for any sign of nearby danger.
Several hours have passed when Sebastian takes the third watch after Talton and T’alen. Settling into the grass, you listen to the sounds of the plains at night. Insects chirp and buzz while a whole host of nocturnal rodents go about the business of living. About you, brown bats swoop and dive in perfect silence, sweeping flies and other pests from the air.
The song of the crickets, a thrumming sound in this vast space, is punctured by a low booming noise that is quickly followed by another. Somewhere to the north the noise becomes a cadence: the terrifying sound of a war drum beating in the night. Before you can even guess where the sound is coming from, you see in the distance the light of several torches emerge from the edge of the forest and form a circle, presumably near the wicked-looking snag. A chorus of voices rise in some form of foul goblin tongue, accompanying the steady rhythm of the drum.
Sebastian, your hair stands on end and a shiver runs through your spine. Despite the cool of the night, you suddenly realize that you are sweating.