Dragolin Fables: Parables of Tangsgym

Along came a Spider.

Who would have thought that being an actual spider would be that difficult? Turns out that attempting to make all eight legs move in unison is rather tricky, add to this the fact that they seem to become attached to everything and that they move considerably faster than my own humble dwarven legs and you can see the dilemma I was stuck with. In the future, I must remember to give more consideration to spider-folk. You know, spinning webs is a delicate business, an underappreciated art form I would say and here I was traipsing through them, arms flailing.

Turns out, nobody suspects a spider though. Rindle Webspinner is what they will call me. Ha! Not only did I manage to sneak into the establishment undetected but I also managed to discover a top secret underground dungeon. Perhaps I should be offering Merora some tips, although I doubt she would like that and I’m rather fond of my kneecaps. We go way back. Anyway, I don’t like to picture that place, no more write about it but it continues to invade my sleep and lingers on my thoughts like the retched stink of a Bog Troll. Sometimes I wish I had remained in the Stone Forest, no unsightly views there but then what of all the wonderful things I have discovered and the friends I have grown quite fond of.

Now let’s see, where was I Wiggly? Oh I know. The bad men. I remember thinking enough was enough and then a metal door creaking, followed by footsteps, as three men emerged from the staircase carrying a fourth. Korath! Such an inopportune moment to catch up on lost sleep, unless this was in fact an ingenious battle strategy. Beasts from back home did it all the time, pretending to play dead to avoid capture or worse. As saliva began to dribble out of his open mouth however, I quickly ruled out the latter explanation. They wanted to eat him, I think, or make him into one of them. I questioned their judgement. Korath was far too stringy to be an appropriate meal choice, plus I saw no condiments or herbs for seasoning anywhere.

I thought to befriend one of them and share with them my gastronomic secrets but before I could say rosemary there was a sudden flash of light and a booming voice. “Step away from my friend!” The three men suddenly turned towards me and I thought I’d be spotted and eaten for sure. In fact they would have if it wasn’t for the mighty dwarven Wizard, Krindle Dragonfire- I believe was his name, who had obscured their view. A look of confusion and horror painted their faces as they regarded the Wizard- who had suddenly conjured two hissing balls of emerald green flame into his wrinkled hands.

I remember he demanded they surrender and so they did. At which point Merora, Andrin and Vanya burst through the door and Korath rolled off the table to the floor, apparently assuming consciousness. It seemed Drenches Tint’s apprentice was equally as formidable as he himself was famed to be and also incredibly timely. Before I could ask the whereabouts of the Wizard’s sock drawer however one of the men began to pant wildly as he transformed before my very eyes into a snarling jackal beast and launched himself at the Wizard. The vicious blow was deflected by some mighty magic of sorts. As retaliation, green flame exploded in the creatures face and Merora’s blade once again tasted blood as she manoeuvred herself through the fray. A glistening frost crept up Korath’s curved sword as he slid unerringly across the table and struck deep into the breast of the beast. Howling, it turned and swiped its bloody claws catching Merora in the side. At this point, I peeped through my fingers which I had raised to my eyes, as Andrin strode forward to place his hand calmly on the exposed flesh of the beast. A sickening crunch and scream followed by a gurgle and various splattering noises replaced the sounds of combat and then the room grew deathly silent.

I really wish he wouldn’t do that. Perhaps I could try to convince him that not all of life’s infinite challenges should be solved by turning a person’s insides into outsides. Remind me never to shake his hands Wiggly and you shouldn’t either!

Seeing that the situation was contained and that we were in fact able to protect ourselves, the Wizard bade us farewell and extended a gracious invitation to Whitewall whenever we wished it. Such a nice fellow, I will have to take him up on that offer at some point. With invitation extended, he impressively vanished in a flash of flame and ash. Everybody must have been overjoyed that I yet lived as they kept staring at me and asking me inane questions. The professionalism of this group of individuals does quite often vex me Wiggly, we are on a life or death mission, save your questions for the tavern. Sheesh!

Turns out the Bartender is a stand-up guy, I mean apart from the possible murder and kidnapping. He seemed incredibly friendly and even offered to tell me everything he knew. He spoke about his jackal children, must be some sort of city lingo and that Granny was visiting later this evening. Quite frankly he seemed incredibly family orientated and a respectable gentleman, perhaps we will have time to meet Granny too. I never had a Grandma. Shame really, they sound magical, offering various knitted garments, cakes, biscuits and miracle cures. I could have chatted to the man for an age but the others seemed impatient. They locked the others in cages, even one with a secret exit and then began ushering me to the tunnels.

I will always remember the darkness like a shroud and screams echoing in the distance. Thankfully Andrin was there to guide us through the tunnels with the light of his God. Taking care to avoid damaging the webs surrounding me and imagining how long it might have taken to weave such a design I remember a stifled scream from Merora as from the darkness emerged eight piercing eyes and several hairy legs. This spider was big. He must have eaten a lot of flies to grow that size. It’s the kind of violent response that followed, which made me hark back to my own spider days. The poor guy didn’t really stand much of a chance, I urged him to run and hide but before he could comprehend my words a searing golden light descended upon him, burning his flesh. A thrust to the abdomen from glinting steel and a blade cloaked in lightning ended its sorry existence. His only lasting imprint on the world, a bite wound to Andrin’s shoulder.

On we went, following the muffled weeping sounds until eventually we came to an open cavern filled with what can only be described as the liquefied remains of what I hoped were evil gremlin creatures, not innocent victims. Seems upon venturing bravely into the chamber, the others had the fortune of locating the Mayor’s daughter however they also had the misfortune of stumbling upon a most unnatural and putrid creature. Elder Nutrub spoke of such profanities and abominations in his teachings but I couldn’t ever quite grasp my head or heart around their actual existence in the world. I could only watch as the creature slithered its way out of the depths. Entirely composed of chattering razor sharp teeth set into hundreds of gaping mouths it confounded all my imagined fears.

I imagined Korath and Andrin bravely battling the monstrosity but as I peered into the cavern I saw that they stood like statues attempting to cover their ears desperately, while Merora frantically bombarded the beast with arrows. It wouldn’t be enough. I saw the beast consuming them, tearing them apart and in that moment I recall asking myself one simple question. What would Wiggly do? I did my best to wade through the revolting water and just about managed to plug Korath’s ears with a piece of baguette. The rest I try not to think about. Safe to say we defeated the beast but almost at a great cost. Elder Bushlash always said that a handful of berries could spell the difference between the life and death of a person.

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Who, What, Were-Jackal?

I commit these words to memory not knowing the whereabouts of my friends, Merora and Rindle I have not seen since we entered this place and I Pray to both Boccob, lord of magic, and the Elven Pantheon that they remain safe. I can only hope that Vanya and Andrin have realised my fate and remain alert to the machinations of these cursed creatures. May the bladesong guide your way my friends.

How would I describe our current predicament? As I would describe the first time I tried to master a cantrip, or the feel of my blade as it clashes upon cold steel. Invigorating, yet frustrating. The magic aches to realise its potential, and the blade thirsts to draw blood. Both are hindered no matter their best efforts, yet the thrill of the action is undeniable. I have to say this quest has proved to have undercurrents I could not have expected when we set out to retrieve the Mayor’s daughter. Indeed we set off to the Jacqueline, or Jackel Inn, knowing that we were dealing with a full-blown cult of shapeshifters. One that preyed upon the most vulnerable folk of Tint and those easily lead astray. The mayor’s daughter, in her naive act of rebellion, seems to have got heavily involved and I only hope that she has not yet fallen to this foul Lycanthropy.

As we arrived we set about planning our infiltration of the Inn, my better judgement telling me that a full assault would only lead to the death of innocents, or ourselves. As Naivara always taught me, evaluate the situation fully before your strike. With that we agreed that Rindle’s… particular way with people, as well as Vanya’s way with the crowds may serve us well in establishing a Rappor with these men. After all, it is a tavern they seem to be holed up in. Meanwhile, Merora would infiltrate and scout out a more covert route to find the people leading this masquerade, allowing myself and Andrin to flank the enemy and gain the element of surprise should it come to that. A solid plan, but when does anything the Enchanted shield does go to plan. I think I wrote something about a worry for my continued sanity in my last report. Well, I believe I shall be considering that when I read these memoirs in the future.

With our ‘Plan’ set, Rindle began a ritual of some sort, chanting wildly for a full 10 minutes with little regard for the world around him. A strange sight if ever I saw one, and one that attracted the unwanted attention of two Jackals. Fortunately they seemed non-hostile and Rindle’s strange ritual seemed to have bestowed the ability to sense diseases, which was most useful in determining that these Jackals were fortunately not of the shapeshifting type. With Merora scouting out the roof of a nearby building and myself and the priest forming a plan of attack, all seemed well. Of course that is when it fell apart. Rindles persuasive powers failed to coax the Jackals goodwill and it bit him, prompting Vanya to react. I know little of her bardic abilities, but what I do know is that the Jackal must have seen a dire vision indeed as it fled instantly. Reacting myself, I knocked on the nearest door, hoping a stablehand would be able to call the dogs off and we could resume our masquerade of peaceful intentions. But no, the stables had to be full of more dogs. Angry dogs. With our plans seemingly in tatters, I shouted a quick message for Merora to continue her espionage and made a Dash for the Inn door with Vanya.

With nothing else to lose, me and Vanya formulated a quick plan before the door opened. That was when my self-loathing grew a hundred fold. Seeing no other way out, I adopted the persona of one of the arrogant, flamboyant nobles that so often buy their way into the college. No talent, no modesty, just outright obnoxiousness. Vanya was to be my personal bard. This day is something I will always regret. In fact it went against every moral fibre I possess, but needs must and my vow of protection will always come before my own needs. With Vanya at my side, we somehow bluffed our way into the confidence of a suspicious bald fellow, my pipeweed and our claims serving to convince these creatures that we were in search of other recreational substances. Knowing that the Mayor’s daughter was much the same circle that we claimed to run in, it seemed a ploy that would work to our advantage. Gain their confidence, then strike at the heart. Though the means were to my distaste, the tactic was sound. With Andrin watching silently as a bystander, we had support should we need it. I have to say that this whole debacle gave me a new found respect for the Bardic arts and the power of words. They do say that the great Eladrin bladesingers of old were only a step away from Bards themselves. Anyway, at least Merora did not have to hear any of that. She seems to feel much as I do about substance abuse, a blight on this city and it’s people and Bluevine and Mutblood are a stain we would both like to see erased from our land.

With our way in secured we were lead to a private room, where more forward questions were posed by both myself and Vanya, her playing the demanding musician. With ‘something to take the edge off’ on order I was invited to peruse some of the rarer wares out back. I nodded to Vanya and followed, stepping through the door and turning to the man, but my senses were overcome with a fog so thick that I feared Merora’s wayward blade for a second. Then it all went black….

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A journey to where it began... and where it may end

Having just chased down the animal that we thought might be the Barghest Andrin Kitsaultson took it upon himself to set the creatures corpse a light, well that is one way to clean up and hide the evidence. I guess that square might actually not be on an entirely different planet to the one which I inhabit. Though I do not care for his stiff collar attitude I do appreciate his decisive, I-don’t-care-what-people-think-of-me attitude. He is not out to make friends, and it is not like he is making one.

The smell of searing flesh filled the air in a heavy musk and it was only then when I had been disappointed by the lack of useful remains (of the animal) that I finally became aware of the battering that my body had taken. I would be lying if I did not admit that after the chase and fight that I was feeling a little worse for wear, not that I admitted that to anyone or would have admitted that to anyone. Though I was tired and weak I was about to urge that we should push on and continue our search for the girl, but before I could Andrin suggested that we find an inn and rest for the night instead.

Should it have been only me that had been looking dishevelled and injured then I would have recommended that we carry on, but the entire party looked out of sorts. Particularly Vanya Aeroniel who was bleeding more than a bit. Noticing the tired face of my comrades I agreed and tried to hurry the party on to the nearest cheap inn.

Even at a cheap Inn was not keen to pay for a space to sleep, having slept on the cobbled streets of Little Kitsault anywhere was acceptable now I was in possession of a sleeping bag. To try to avoid purchasing a room I escorted Rindle Ironbark to the stable. He was still a horse, though I now trusted that he was able to turn back…

After a brief conversation with the stable boy, he obviously thought I was some sort of creepy horse molesterer, I was permitted to sit by Rindle. I stroked his mane in the pretence of being a faithful carer, and if anyone were to suggest other wise it would be a most misguided notion.

I guess during the night Rindle transformed back into human form because when I came too the faces that greeted me included that of Rindle. Korath Alaskar and Andrin had come into the stable at the crack of dawn to wake us up, I was much obliged to them for having done so as I was still soundly asleep which is rather unlike myself. I must have been even more exhausted than I had realised, I need to be careful not to do that again I had been too off guard.

Korath suggested I write a letter ahead to my contact (Thirmore, Morey to his friends) over breakfast and though I suggested that this was unnecessary I was obliged to scrawl him a note, though I kept this minimal as I knew that if there was anything to know that he would already know it and so prior warning was pointless. However pointless the task the breakfast woke me up, courtesy of Andrin (okay maybe he I can be a little harsh on him). I gave some of mine to Rindle as his need seemed far greater than my own, as he was shovelling it down.

After breakfast we set of to Little Kitsault, and knowing the streets as I do we were making reasonable time. I chose to cut through the traders ring to see if the suspicious vendor was there. After a small distraction involving Rindle turning into a rat and me buying a cheese vendor’s cheapest, smelliest and mouldiest cheese (not that it should have been all, if any of those things) and after a bit of gentle prying I found out he was not expected until noon.

Andrin and Korath were in no mind to wait to speak to him so it was decided we would push on, but I suspected finding the Rindle rat in a swarm of rats might prove tricky. How wrong can one halfling be? Rindle though a rat is unmistakable in any crowd. He was dragging straw around frantically. I picked him up briefly to get his attention but put him back down when communication failed, though eventually communication was achieved as the straw formed words.

The journey to Little Kitsault resumed and again we made great timing. As we entered the district the streets began to look duller, the people dirtier. Though I looked left, right and centre for a friendly honest face that I would recognise it did take some time. There are not many respectable bums left out there what with the gangs and drugs violence being what it is, but I was one and I knew there must be one somewhere in these streets.

Eventually finding one in Mako, after a short exchange in pleasantries I began to ask him if he had seen Morey, when as if by magic (which I am sure that guy is) he appeared from nowhere. Well actually he walked down the street, but still he has a habit of finding you when you need him.

He told me everything I needed to know, how does he know everything? He even pointed me in the direction of a suspicious nearby Inn, the Jacqueline…. Jackel Inn… Jackel…. Inn… oh dear, bad guys are so stupid!!! Though we’d already been heading in the right direction we were now fully aware of the danger that lay behind those vast wooden doors. So as we stood outside the run down Inn we began our scheming, now this looks like exactly the sort of job I could be good at….

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The Sunday Scholar Issue 1
Liberation Day Special

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I haven’t the foggiest.
I mist the point.

“DUCK!” Korath shouted as he expelled lightening from his hands, taking down a couple of them. I can’t say I’d recommend ‘eau de burnt hobo’ to anyone; the smell was, quite frankly, an affront to the senses… though it was somewhat satisfying to watch their robed frames convulse as a result of the electricity.

Tensions were high before then, but that was what really initiated the skirmish…
We didn’t make much progress against them before Rindle shouted “WHERE?” and summoned incredibly dense, wet fog, encapsulating everything within sight. Everything was black – I could hear the sound of my confused companions thrashing and slashing, but I can’t comment to what avail; I couldn’t even see my own hand in front of my face, let alone anything they were doing…

To try and aid my group, I thought I’d give my new toy a whirl. It was a long shot, but by playing my flute, I thought I might be able to help my friends see each other and light them up in the darkness (I believe Korath called this particular magic ‘Faerie Fire’). It must have worked, because everyone seemed less confused and there were more yelps and whines, which made me think we were having more success causing them injury.

I navigated my way out of the fog, only to be pounced upon by another of the filthy cretins. Not sure what hurt more, its stench assailing my nostrils, or the dagger it stuck in my side.
Okay, definitely the latter, but there’s an artistic satisfaction in the comparison.

Before I knew it, Rindle was atop the savage brute, slashing away. The brute was taken down quickly enough, though he did leave me badly wounded. I have to say that without Rindle’s help, I might have been out of action…

Once he knew I was safe, Rindle left me to take on another of them.

The next thing I know, Rindle’s screaming “ARTHUR, NO!” and tearing up. There seemed to be less danger now, so I went over to him. He was getting… ahem… intimate, shall we say, with the bloody corpse of the rat that had led us to this dump. I think he was trying mouth to mouth, but without success.

At Rindle’s request, we held a small service of remembrance for the rat that gave us a good lead on finding the Mayor’s daughter. Rindle explained that Arthur was the sole provider of his extensive family, so I suggested we try to find the rat’s relations and give them a gift to cushion their loss. He eagerly agreed. So we’ll see where that leads…

When we’d finished, we were called over to where Korath was negotiating with the remaining survivor of the group that attacked us. Joe. What he had to say was interesting. He told us about mutblood – it seems to be some sort of high level drug that “makes you see things… you feel so good”. ‘Need more mutblood’ is in the Mayor’s daughter’s diary, so it seems she was into some serious substance-abuse. The cretin claimed the Barghest took her…

Looks like this missing person quest just got a little supernatural.

Then he tells us about a man who knows how not to get eaten by the Barghest, which would be useful, should we face the fowl beast. Hazy description… Not the smartest hobo. Something about warding off the bad spirits and carving a figure of 8… the true face? Apparently the details are important though… perform it wrong and the Barghest comes for you.

We know that the legend of the Barghest is about a shapeshifting creature, always seen as a giant bear-dog with black fur. Its eyes glow red like hot coals while it roams around forests and wandering paths waiting for people to pass by… the truly alone.
Then it claims them as its next victim.

But for what, who can know? Nobody has ever escaped to be able to tell us…
We decided we’d wait for the leader of the cretins to appear. Only, before he does, a stray dog with no collar appears. A cute, scruffy brown mutt that Rindle and I immediately fawn over.

Rindle then shows off another trick of his – apparently he can shapeshift into a small black dog.

While Rindle is chasing down Korath for some reason, the brown mutt and Joe seem to be communicating. Obviously this isn’t just a dog…

I take matters into my own hands and slyly attack the dog with a little psychological magic. The animal starts whining and changes into…
a Barghest?!

We’re all a little startled.
The Barghest starts running.
Everything seems to speed up.

It climbs over the wall as we try to attack it, with limited effect.
We all give chase.
Rindle’s a horse now?!
My stamina is awful.
What happened to Rindle’s clothes?
I definitely need to do more cardio.
Andrin takes the beast down.
That man is a machine.
The Barghest is dead?
Yep.

I guess we killed a Barghest.

…I need to write a song about this.

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Bloody Paperwork
Extracts from Andrin Kitsaultson's Journal and Reports

Arrived in Tint and checked into my lodgings. Met with Malek Feign (Judge of Trademinster). As suspected, flustery old nob with little intention of actually doing good. Pen-pusher. I can see exactly why they’ve put me to work under him. Well, I guess they also know what ‘good’ it’ll do. Haha.


Finding it very draining here in Tint. As much as I try to get out there and make a difference, I’m forever called back to file a report, or write up an incident. Most of the time it’s just regular folks having a misunderstanding. I need to escape and actually ensure the eradication of evil in this city, and I can’t do that if confined to this place!


Liberation Day. I’m actually allowed out. Met an interesting group. Got into a fight. Killed some pretty bad guys. A few less scumbags for the city to worry about. Going to take some deft paperwork to keep this group out of trouble for it; they actually seem willing to make a difference and work for the good of the city, and not stand idly by.


Incident Report #249
Location: Growing Kobold Inn
Time: 14:50
Type: Altercation
Details: Minor physical fight between two parties, ten total participants. Minor injuries, ended amicably. No concern.
Result: None

Incident Report #252
Location: Garrett’s Goods (General Store), Homestead
Time: 12:20
Type: Theft
Details: Owner of shop Garrett Gelder accused defendant Dario Frayne of attempted theft of goods, consumables and hardware. Lack of evidence prompted further investigation. Investigation revealed that Gelder’s wife, Heather Gelder, was having an affair with Frayne. Gelder admitted false accusation citing an attempt to have Frayne arrested. Minor concern.
Result: Garret fined 30GP for false accusation. Frayne and Gelder (Heather) to attend compulsory basic morality course (1 × 4 hour session, refreshments provided).

Incident Report #249 Revised
Location: Growing Kobold Inn
Time: 14:50
Type: Altercation
Details: Major physical and magical fight between group known as ‘Enchanted Shield’ and members of group known as ‘Black Iron Gang’. 100% fatality rate for ‘Black Iron Gang’, 0% for ‘Enchanted Shield’. ‘Black Iron Gang’ were the aggressors, ‘Enchanted Shield’ acted in self-defense, and under authorisation of the prince. No concern.
Result: None


Fun meeting with Malek Feign today. Apparently Korath has included me in his group to join the adventurers guild. Now, Feign wouldn’t let that happen… but when the Prince himself praised him for his generosity in allowing one of his order into the guild, he had no choice but to grit his teeth and go along with it. He was furious! It’s great! He apparently tried to make an example of Merora! Now, I don’t exactly approve of her light fingers, but it’s not a huge issue in the grand scheme of things, and working with her against Feign’s wishes makes it all that little bit sweeter.


Met with the prince today. He informed us that the Mayor of Homestead’s daughter has gone missing. Upon further investigation it appears this may have links to the Black Iron Gang. Followed trail led by Rindle (behind that naive front he is somewhat helpful), and came across group of vagabonds. Unfortunately led to bloodshed, but this one should be fairly straightforward to clear up.


Incident #259
Time: 19:30
Type: Altercation
Details: 6 aggressors initiated combat after resisting arrest by cleric Andrin Kitsaultson. Failed to surrender. 6 casualties. No concern.
Result: None

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Days off fluture past

An excerpt from the Journal of The Enchanted Shield, as penned by Korath Alaskar To any future readers, I have added further thoughts on events of interest or vexation to myself. Apologies for the somewhat scrawled nature of these.

You know, it’s days like this that make the Master Diviner’s offer more and more appealing. To be able to see into the future eh? But I’m getting ahead of myself, after all I have no power over time like the wizards of whitewall. So, to the beginning of what was perhaps the least relaxing day off I have ever had the pleasure of being granted…

After much drink and good company, an evening at one of the more respectable Inns of the district was in order and we swiftly found a fine establishment called the White Wizard. Though not cheap, the members of the Enchanted shield deserved a night of the very best. I’m growing quite fond of them after all and even though some of my companions habits are little disconcerting, they all seem good of heart and strong of character. Even Rindle’s seemingly never-ending oddities appear to have their upsides. Perhaps that owl will even deliver Meroras message, though I think I shall stick to more conventional methods for now. The morn’s bathe was when things started to go downhill. Rindle, apparently perplexed by the concept of bathing, spent 40 whole minutes seemingly playing with soapsuds! Though, if we are to associate with the Prince then it is preferable to him smelling like Bert’s bloody stables. Merora however, appears to have awoken with a furious impatience, no doubt fueled by the copious amounts of fire-brandy we all consumed the previous night. Still, after a brief discussion it was decided we would head to the college and do some research on the peculiar flute Vanya won from the disgraced bard, as well as seeing if we could open the strange Black-Iron gang box in a warded area. I asked the tavern-keeper’s son, to deliver a message for the college to prepare a room for our study, though Merora made it very clear she did not approve of the child.

Well, turns out she was right, the thieving little sod fleeced me for 4 of my dwindling gold coins and didn’t even deliver the damn message! In fact, it never even left the Inn! Rindle found it on the floor, after I checked he hadn’t ‘borrowed it for safe keeping’. Maybe I will use the damn owl next time. Also I must be more frugal, turns out the life I’m used to is not one of financial sustainability.

It seems Merora is uncomfortable around the grandeur of the college, and I feel her mood today may be a part of the extravagance of late. I shall have to be more aware of this, I forget that the bladesingers know a sheltered life compared to the citizens we vow to protect. Vanya however seemed more than at home. I must enquire a little more as to where she has visited in her travels, she is perhaps more worldly than she lets on. The poor lad who fell victim to Merora’s disdain turned out to be an asset indeed though, yet another stroke of luck. He was searching for an artefact to study as part of his examinations, and lo and behold we just happened to have a rare artefact on our persons. The lad agreed to help us and Vanya and myself began hunting through tome after tome for snippets of lore on artefact attunement.

I have to say Vanya turned out to be quite the Scholar! I really must find out more about our mysterious half-elf companion. We uncovered not one but two of the Fochlucan Flute’s powers as well as a fountain of history! I normally prefer more practical magic but there is a thrill to any discovery. I imagine our young researcher will gain quite the grade for his examination of the flute.

With Merora getting impatient we decided to take a look at the strange box the gang so dearly sought. Its seems I let my eye off Rindle whilst in the midst of research, as he appeared back with the Master Diviner in tow. I can only imagine what was said between them, but we may now have a reason for our stroke of ‘luck’ recently. The strange marble I noticed Rindle with earlier is apparently a highly magical artefact, though the Master Diviner would not tell us any more of this. I suppose such things are best discovered on your own through experimentation. We also learned that Rindle had ‘borrowed it for safe-keeping’ some days ago, from the very box we were hoping to open in a safer environment some days ago. Well, so much for that plan. In addition, it appears the artefact has bonded with the peculiar fellow, hampering my future plans to do a more detailed study of its powers. We shall just have to wait and see I suppose.

That gnome will be the death of me I tell you. If we had known about this days ago we could’ve been saved a lot of trouble, and known more about the dealings of this damnable gang! To top it all off, he thought it completely acceptable to replace it with a bloody rock! I honestly worry for my continued sanity. However the revelation that there may be more such artefacts in the flooded district is a boon indeed.

The Master Diviner gave me a most interesting proposition, though one I respectfully declined, to join the Wizards of Whitewall. The thought has crossed my mind on occasions, but my heart lies with the Bladesong Knights. We left the college on a high note, with new knowledge abundant. That was when we noticed Merora acting strangely, clutching something tight to her breast. I hoped to all hell it wasn’t what I thought I saw but my eyes did not deceive me. She stole the Master Diviner’s custom broach! I couldn’t believe it. I tried to convince her she had made a mistake but would not listen to reason. I fear her worry for her family and the recent prevalence of wealth lead her to try her luck. I could not take it back from her forcefully, no matter how foolish, you could see her genuine concern for her family. Vanya seemed most upset by this also, and stormed off immediately. I have considered the best course of action, and though precious, the broach is replaceable. I have sent a message to the Master Diviner explaining this unfortunate turn of events and hope that he will see her plight and take pity on her. The next few days will reveal her, perhaps all of our fates for this.

To steal from a man who can read the past and future. Who can find you no matter how hard you try with but a thought?! How can one be so foolish?! I wish no harm to come to her or her family, but she must see the ramifications of such an act?! It seems there is no end to the frustration of this day. I think we have all learnt a few things about honesty and self-restraint. I shall have to be much more vigilant in the future.

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Lyre, Liar, Plants on Fire

The Company of the Enchanted Shield is our name and wilfully, borrowing and stumbling through prickly situations is our game. I’ve never been described as a shield before, especially not an enchanted one, perhaps my head will become as strong as steel and then I can finally accomplish the legendary Druidic Headstand of my people. But hold up, what do you think you are doing? Trying to sneak your way into my satchel are you, what a naughty fork you are! Well, I suppose you are the shiniest fork I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, perhaps you could come along for a bit but don’t make a nuisance of yourself! Anyway, before I was rudely interrupted, if only Bloom, Blossom and Muds Platt could see me now, boy would they be green, well greener, they are plants after all. I mean there are so many wondrously, decorated banners about but you’d think they would have the ingenuity to place a single sign indicating the location of the nearest privy, I don’t think I can hold things in for much longer Wiggly! Perhaps that man over there could be of some assistance, he looks to be a wizardly type. Besides, Wizards are experts at finding things, perhaps he can conjure me one up or tell me more about my Lucky Glowing Marble.

Huh? What was that? Flute? Enchanted?! Must be my ears playing tricks on me, they can be very mischievous like that, sometimes I think I was cursed with a gnome’s ears. Hmm, I wonder what could be so interesting over there, perchance one of your descendants has burrowed up rudely into the party Wiggly and is busy decomposing the guests. That would be an unforgivable display of typical wormish etiquette indeed. More likely Merora has mistaken someone else’s belongings for her own again, she’s daft as an alpine, stone forest hare that one! Better make sure I’m not needed to calm the situation.

Wowee! Vanya has her Lyre out, twice in one day, I hope you’re listening this time Wiggly! But what is that other man doing, or should I say elf-man doing, maybe he hasn’t realised that Vanya is about to play for us all. As I always say, elves: pretty but dim. I try to explain the situation, simply to him but he starts ranting about some sort of bard-off. Turns out his name is, Antonio Fochlucan, and he’s a descendant of some ancient elven family or so he keeps telling us, he seems a little bit bark-addled to me, if you know what I mean. And that’s when my eyes caught up with my brain, which caught up with my ears. He was waving about in his hands, the most beautifully crafted flute I had ever seen in my life, well in truth the only flute I had ever seen but still it must have been special. Maybe if I could get a better view of it, then I could determine whether it was indeed enchanted, even offer to look after it for him.

Is it me or is everyone my size all of a sudden. Perhaps my legs have finally finished sprouting. Oh my, it’s the Prince. What a wonderful coincidence, he must have enjoyed our entrance so much that he has come to offer his gratitude. Wiggly! Make sure you always kneel before royalty! I wonder what it would be like to be a Prince for the day, I’m sure I met an Orc once that was telling me that they get to bathe in the blood of their enemies and command ritual sacrifices. Seems a bit unseemly for me, perhaps I will allow him to stay in his shoes and I shall stay in mine, worn as they are. Anyway, not only is Vanya going to play her lyre for us, but also for the Prince plus if she plays really well apparently the elf-man will let her keep his flute. See, pretty but not a thinking cap to his name, actually this one isn’t even worth a second glance.

I think this would be the perfect opportunity to share a little bit of my dwarfish luck with Vanya. As Elder Grasstain says, a little bit of luck goes along a drain, truly the wisest of us all. What if the flute was able to attract bugs and insects? Hmm that would be incredibly distracting. Turns out Vanya didn’t need my luck after all, the most elegant of melodies leapt from Genevieve as her strings were gracefully plucked. What a strange feeling it must be to be plucked at. For someone with an enchanted flute and an elven ancestry dating back thousands of years, Antonio seemed to be having a disagreement with his instrument. At this point I considered how lucky Wiggly was to have been born with two mouths but no ears. Turns out the crowd agreed with me. Then something truly unexpected happened, the elf-man began to float in mid-air. Obviously the earth had heard enough and thought to expel him to the air. Or perhaps he too was a Wizard. Sadly, there still wasn’t anything particularly enchanting about his performance. Round 2 goes to Vanya Aeroniel! She truly is a talent, able to battle with both her stinging blade and her Lyre. With some guidance I’m sure Merora could prove to be a worthy fiddler too, speaking of Merora, where did she go? Oh there she is, such a generous and giving young lady to relieve that gentleman of his coin purse, in his state he could end up misplacing it, losing it or even worse, be the victim of a pocket-picker.

Wait a moment, I’m sure I’ve heard this tune before. His flute is whispering in the druidic tongue. I wonder whether he knows, his instrument is in fact a druid. Hmm something about growing or catching , no, entangling , that’s the word! Vanya watch out! The plants are naughty and they are trying to…Too late. As the plants began to grasp at Vanya’s legs I realised that Antonio was not only an appalling flautist but he was also, it seemed, a cheat! Round 3 goes to Antonio Fochlucan! But no matter. Victory is granted to Miss Vanya Aeroniel! I felt at this point it was appropriate to stick my tongue out at the cheating elf-man, I knew he would never be a match for Van.

Something is mentioned of a storage room, and magical song sheets. Seems despite his lack of honour, he is sticking to his word and even offering to reward Van further. Perhaps I misjudged the fellow. Korath seems to be demanding that we take some guards with us. Although I don’t see what harm a storage room could do. Unless it isn’t in fact a storage room at all but inversely a hellish beast with vicious claws and a vice-like grip, with which he intends to devour us. Perhaps I should spend some time studying at this White Ivy Tower, it seems Korath is alert and prepared for any eventuality. A balding man-of-arms catches my eye and with a little persuasion agrees to escort us to the storage room, Nigel Brians is his name.

Thankfully there was no evidence of a storage room beast. However, the number of guards posted within this chamber seemed a little peculiar. What should have been a simple exchange, escalated into another unexpected skirmish as he offered to pay the guards 400gp each for our heads. What he would have wanted with four heads is beyond me, a truly peculiar individual. It was at this point that the truly unimaginable occurred. He threw a potted fern directly at my noggin. Now, to take my head without my permission is one thing but to fling innocuous, woodland shrubbery at me. Clearly he was possessing of rotten roots. I hear the same druidic tone once again and before I can say toadstool, me and Korath are entwined in an unnaturally strong thicket of roots and undergrowth. Quick as a flash, I see that Vanya has drawn her blade and flung herself onto Antonio, red blossoms at his chest as she plunges her sword deep into him. At the same time, the unsuspecting servant screams in agony as Merora sticks him in the knee. He won’t be going anywhere for a while, she chuckles! As I desperately attempt to talk some sense into these impressionable ferns, Korath unleashes a whip of crackling energy, which strikes unerringly at the elf’s hands. That’s the Korath I know! Anyway, diplomacy having failed, I decided that perhaps if words wouldn’t ward them then flame would. As I set about teaching the ferns a lesson, two of the guards obviously decided that 400gps for a head was an amicable trade and struck out at my friends. Fortunately, favour was with us, as a myriad of sparkling colours (quite beautiful actually) leapt from Korath’s hands and left the two men reeling on the floor, apparently blind to everything about them. Well, at this, the battle was ended and so was Antonio Fochlucan, well not ended as in ended ended but just, I suppose, ruined.

As he pleaded with us, offering us valuable trinkets and gold, I sort of felt sorry for him. He wasn’t pleasing to the eye, nor had he bloomed intellectually, he couldn’t discern one end of the flute to the other and now he was to be exiled: denied his title and ancestral claims. But to me, he was simply a fern thrower, nothing more, nothing less. Turns out Korath had once again anticipated the moment and had told the Prince of the man’s crimes. Upon surveying the scene before him, the Prince was quick to excommunicate the man from his guild and the enchanted flute it seemed was ours for the taking. In fact, so was the blessing of the Mages.

In little over an hour, we had achieved the task placed before us and earned our right to both a shiny new badge and entrance into the Adventurers Guild. Not only that, but I was one step closer to achieving my dream of becoming an Elder Druid of the Mountains. Now what to do with our day off Wiggers?

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And so our mission truly begins
Untied Strangers on a mission

After the confusion of the fight we helped to remove the bodies of the four men we had killed, then we retired in to the back room where drinks had been laid out on the table by Rindle Ironbark who was expectantly awaiting our arrival. I was ecstatic at the thought of more free drink and food, I could get fond of those guys but maybe I am too easily bought.

I picked a seat and began happily glugging down some free drink when Rindle presented me with a box. It was the box that I thought I had managed to steal from him and which I was sure I had hidden well. How does he get his hands on everything? He is a most impressive thief, and he very cunning too. No thief of such skill could actually be so dim witted, it must be an act. One thing is for sure, I could definitely learn a few ticks from him.

However the strangest part was that he gave me the box back… he seems a highly forgiving, gentle and kind soul, not the sort of person you meet everyday. Now I feel I must pay him back for giving me that which I had stolen from him, it is beyond belief. So I pledge to help Rindle complete his list for as long as our path is entwined. I shall also have to find a way to thank Korath for finding me a job, though I feel that he is pleased with us already.

After the chaos of the fight Bert was flustered and anxious about the reputation his pub would now have and as an aim to make a mends he had proceeded to buy the customers silence with drinks on the house. Which apparently had worked because once we he was done, Bert entered the room and in a displeased spirit attempted to turn us out for the night.

Poor Bert seemed truly put out, but his main desire was to be rid of Rindle. Now, Korath Alaskar had just been offering us a job opportunity before Bert’s hectic interruption, so a truly ingenious entrepreneur like me could see exactly how we might use this to our advantage and that is what we did. We managed to talk Bert into letting us stay at the Growing Kobald for the night, but in exchange we promised to rid of Rindle. Though initially reluctant at the idea of leaving his friend behind, oblivious to the others desire to part ways, Rindle was eventually coaxed into agreeing to join our party by the assurance that he would have a greater chance of finding the items which he searches for if he were to leave the pub and explore the world.

Once the deal had been agreed Bert left us to ourselves and so we chatted for a while more before deciding we should settle for bed. Having a room of his own Korath had no need to stay in the pub, so he bid us farewell until the morrow when we should expect his return. As true as his word Korath was back at the pub before breakfast had even hit the table and yet again it was on the house, I could barely believe my luck over the past day.

After a filling breakfast Korath suggested that we head for the palace, but having earnt a few extra gold coin of late and with the promise of work on the horizon I enquired whether our departure could be delayed long enough for me to take a letter to send in the post. I was planning on sending my poor parents and younger siblings a few gold coin to ensure their well being, but yet again Rindle had other plans. He suggested that rather than send my letter by post I should let one of his animal friends deliver it.

Vanya Aeroniel was so amused by this idea that between her and Rindle it was impossible to say no. Although I did not trust his “friend” to be able to deliver my letter I was pressured into sending my parent a note rather than the coin I had planned. I scrawled a quick note on some of Vanya’s paper. Then we head out to find Bryan, who is apparently a grumpy old owl that lives in an abandoned factory. And after waiting for Rindle to negotiate with Bryan some half hour the Gnome finally reappeared with the “promising” news that his friend had agreed to deliver my letter but that we should have to wait a little while longer as he had promised Vanya would play for the own.

Once that was done we headed to the river so that we might journey to the castle by boat, as one of quickest forms of transport in the city. The prices were extortionate at 1 gold a mile, I could feel my hand clench around my money bag as I expected to be asked to help contribute towards the price. Though there were four of us it was still a 6 mile journey and unless we could batter down those thieves I stood to loose a pretty coin or two.

I was preparing to enter into negotiations when Korath drew my attention to a dodgy dealer who apparently had sold him a rare tobacco the prior day. Wary of this strange street dealer Korath chose to see what he had to offer and sure enough he had what Korath really needed (a boat). I too felt quite suspicious now the likelihood of the same dealer selling tobacco and boat rides was low and to sell them both to Korath was highly suspicious. So I asked whether he had any of the items on Rindle’s list, which sadly he didn’t.

Korath was negotiating costs for the boat ride when suddenly a shark fin appeared in the water and the rest of the boat merchants began exclaiming in fear. I was so distracted by the uproar I barely noticed Rindle make a deal with the vendor but soon we were sat in the boat and setting off. I continued to list items from Rindle’s list in the hope that we might find one or two of the more common items, but soon we were getting off the boat without any extra items.

The streets around the palace were beautiful, made of ornate stones and I was truly awed by the grandeur, awed and slightly sickened that anyone should live in such luxury whilst my family could barely afford to eat. An apple vendor was selling the most delicious looking apples so I decide it wouldn’t hurt myself to one, but as I attempted to get myself one Rindle drew the vendors attention by walking up and taking one himself. The vendor was so distracted I stole one with ease.

All too soon we arrived at the palace and the excessive consumerism of these socialites was even more evident. I could not stand it, I had the urge to take every penny they owned but my itchy fingers were subdued when I saw the beautiful garden. Frozen Holly was on Rindle’s list and I knew that would be likely to have some the only problem was that it was guarded, but that couldn’t stop me. I started to move towards it.

At that moment a gentleman in a fancy hat and clothes walked up, I tried to blend in with the walls feeling excessively uncomfortable under the man’s steely gaze. He began talking and I took that as the cue to continue my mission. I drifted off towards the garden without anyone really noticing or caring and I was almost in when the guards caught me. I tried to tell them it was a mistake but they were having none of it. They dragged me over to the guy in fancy duds who already seemed to be displeased with our rowdy little party.

After being given a bit of a telling off Korath managed to soothe the situation and not long after we were being ushered off and over to another Gentleman (Lord Thomas Esquire (Squire)). He was giving a speech to us about why we were there but I wasn’t really listening because I was eyeing up his bag and the rest of the furniture but it seemed there was no ideal target for my itchy fingers. Again the lecture eventually ended and we found ourselves in the great hall awaiting the kings speech.

He had just began when Rindle stormed in with a band playing a raucous tune. Feeling very rebellious towards the entire ceremony and the over paid Lords who filled the room I stood up a cheered, backing Rindle’s disruption of this stuffy speech. Vanya decided to join in and began to play her instrument along, then the rest of the room began to enjoy Rindle’s celebration and the boring speech was forgotten and the crowd was happy. Everyone was so distracted I considered how easy it would be to pluck the coin pouch from one of the guys in front but thought better of it, as I had already been caught breaking the laws once.

The ceremony started again and all the guilds were called out and the room was quiet once more, but when we were announced Rindle cheered and I joined in enjoying defying the rich snobs. However after our performance at the beginning we were meet not with disdain but with a round of applause, maybe the snobs weren’t as boring as they looked.

The ceremony ended and followed the trail of people to the gardens, oh so now I could go in the bleeding gardens which I was not good enough to go into but hours before. The first thing I did was hunt for holly but not knowing much about plants and it being as busy as it was I could not find a single holly bush so I gave up and returned to my survey of the party.

Our little lord had done some more talking and was suggesting we mingle and he had pointed out the Bladesong knights and was listing various other factions. There was one that caught my eye. They were all wearing long black cloaks and their emblem was a quill.

Korath being the formal gentleman he was walked up to Bladesong Knights who from what I gather are a group of goodie two shoes. I had no interest in his conversation instead me and Vanya speculated as to Korath’s intentions towards the woman (Naivara) that he was talking to. She was beautiful and he seemed to be most engaged in her conversation.

After I managed to get the group to talk to the faction that had caught my eye. The conversation was brief, they seemed to think that I had a quality which would be of use to them. They were definitely far less noble than the Bladesong and I knew exactly why they seemed so keen on me. There is no need for people like us to go into depth about our line of work but safe to say my dishonesty would probably have been suited to a group like there’s. I left the conversation promising to pass along their offer of work to my group.

All of a sudden we were called to silence so that another announcement could be made, how many does one party need? I normally just go to parties for the free drink. We were told that we were being presented with the opportunity to prove ourselves to earn royal favour all we had to do was complete and win one of four challenges. After a brief discussion we decided that we stood the best chance of gaining favour if we completed the mage’s challenge (to find and present the most valuable magical artefact) or the bishop’s challenge (to perform the most outstanding service for the community). Being unable to choose a single task, not knowing how we would fare in either we decided to work at both. And it was with that choice it seemed that our journey and quest truly began, as we stood united ready to face the challenges ahead.

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