Ero retreats out of doors once again – the camaraderie inside is familiar and comfortable, but the oncoming storm and the disappearance of Geran have set him on edge. He circles the settlement, then sets himself up in a tree with a good view of the area. He passes the evening alternatively watching the area and looking for the moon. He misses his home. Noticing that the night sky hosts two moons here, and they move, it seems home is much farther away… “Well… hell…”
Inside, further arguing occurs around the recent use of one of Adrik’s clay tiles. Lorawyn mostly stays quiet during the party’s yelling. She’s already said her two copper’s worth about Geran once, and she sees no point in saying it again. Still, on the inside, she’s seething with rage at the dragon.
Darrin grabs the ramaining tile from Nix’s hands and crushes it. A Skeleton, bedecked in a strange blue-black armour, rotting red cape and a knife in its skeletal hand, appears an inch above the table and falls onto it in a clump. Dust erupts from within the ribcage and between the tibias and fibulas. The blade of the knife is scuffed in places, but still sharp. Sticking out from between his ribs is a spearhead, mostly rusted away. A crown rolls from the skull and clatters onto the floor.
The Dwarves stop their fun and stare. Theodore presses his palm into the table as he rises, his other hand grasping for a weapon just in case. “What the-?!?! Darrin, what did you do?”
“Gods…. DAMN IT!” Darrins hands clench into fists at his sides, and his head rears up to scream the last two words into the ceiling. “I SAID! I SAID DRAGONS WERE GLIB, TREACHEROUS REPTILES! But no, we had to be best pals! Keep what was already a traitor prince close! UNTIE HIM!? REALLY!!?!”
As he rants, he walks over casually to the crown, and picks it up. He’s still spewing forth ungenerous things about Geran and his friends, but he examines the crown as he does so. Theodore pokes at the skeleton with the pommel of his blade, reassuring himself that it isn’t about to rise up and attack. He identifies this as someone who died in the midst of battle, and their wounds suggest they have since spent centuries buried under tonnes of rock, perhaps in one of the collapsed tunnels in the Citadel. There’s certainly a wealth of evidence to suggest this was the King.
“I apologize, everyone. Just a magical mishap over here. We’re trying to figure out what exactly happened.” He says to the whole tavern.
Darrin gets the crown and sees signs of millenias-old construction. There are telltale signs of human, Elven and even Dwarf craftsmanship in different parts of the crown. Some of it is broken, but it’s still identifiable. There are no precious stones inlaid, although it looks the sort to have had this. There aren’t even any empty sockets. The crown is made of gold for the most part.
Ezra finishes his conversation with the bar contact from the Cursed Children, signing that he has found something and that he would like a meeting. A response is given, pointing out that meetings among the Cursed Children are not requested, they are ordered. If information is known, it should be shared with this contact, Ezra is told. At this, Ezra examines his drink a little sheepishly. Turning to Darrin, who is almost inexplicably backing away slowly from the group with a gold crown in hand, he transfers his annoyance to the Elfblood. “Did you have to do that here?” Ezra motions to the dusty pile of bones on the table.
Nix leans over, humming delightfully to herself after a minute of muttering and poking at the various items on display. Touching a part of the metal collar on the plate armour covering the arms, thighs, neck and torso of the former King, Nix takes in a sharp breath as the armour moves. The various plates contract and slide over and under one another, all moving to the central breast plate. The lines and indentations on the armour were not simply decoration, but serve as rails and guides for the magical mechanism of the armour. It moves from being a sturdy and complete set of Plate armour to a thick breastplate, greaves and arm guards. Nix looks over the thing, and activates the mechanism once again. A conversation quickly scrambles together out of disparate whispers; Talison and Theodore both show interest in the armour. When Simon pipes up about “respecting the dead” and leaving the King’s armour with him, Chriswin chimes in. “The dead have no need for armour, friend. The dead serve only to grant life to the living.”
Talk amongst the Dwarves turns to resolving the conflict of who gets the armour through various means. A few suggest direct combat, a duel for the prize. Others suggest a game of Shields, although the tavern looks far too small to host such an event. Several contests of Strength or prowess are brought up as suggestions. Eyes turn to Talison and Theodore for their input on the matter…
Nix casts an eye on Darrin as his face grows pale, his hand tightening around the crown. Turning to the bartender, and hoping to casually allow Darrin to realise that events are still occurring, that he can return his mind to the real world soon, she asks for help with securing a coffin or suitable box for the King’s remains. The bartender silently points to a person at the bar who has overheard. They introduce themselves and reveal they are the village carpenter’s son. He agrees to fetch his father, and they can have something put together by the morning.
In the meantime, the bartender offers an empty barrel. The carpenter wants a gold for the work, the bartender wants 3 silver for the barrel and to make up for the commotion. Ezra offers to cover this cost. “And another gold for putting up with us”
“Thank you, Ezra.” Nix thanks the tall gent. “That is lovely of you. And a bed for each of us including the Dwarves. I’m sure they can each pay for themselves. I’ll pay for Ezra. Thank you dear.” Turning from the bartender to the Dwarves, most of them still wagering amongst themselves over who would win in various contests of speed or strength or endurance. “BOYS! Could one of you be a dear and GENTLY! put the good dear king into the barrel for safekeeping? A proper burial might do him good.”
Darrin, rather than snapping out of his trance, simply intones “… gooold…” upon seeing Ezra’s coin. Ezra and Nix begin sharing what they know of each other and the group, how Ezra knows Ero, how Nix knows, well, everyone. The Dwarven conversation turns to louder chants for various contests, and the idea of simply having the person with the most gold own the armour comes up. “Gold?” Darrin says, mostly to himself. He then steps forward again to the crowd and threateningly waves the crown in their faces. “GOLD!?”
“How much have they been drinking?” Ezra whispers to Nix, who furrows her brow deeply.
“Darrin doesn’t drink…” Nix looks closely, and then pulls Darrin aside. His eyes are almost glazed, and he doesn’t appear to be looking at anything in particular. Keeping calm for his sake, Nix swallows a worry in her throat and tries to rationalise the situation aloud. “I believe that the source of Darrin’s blood may be traced back to dragon’s blood, though I may be mistaken.”
There’s a dull thunk as the crown lands on the floor in front of Darrin, just as Nix uses the word “dragon”. He steps back unsteadily, seemingly finding it hard to find his balance. He grips the bar to steady himself.
When he speaks again, his voice cracks dryly. “… could you take that away from me please, Nix?”
Nix raises both eyebrows and glances sideways at Ezra. She collects the pieces of the crown. “Darrin, we should talk a bit more later in private about this. You’ve been acting a bit strange, lately.”
“I’ll-” He clears his throat. “…I will be fine. I just… I’ve never seen so much gold in one place before. It awoke something in me.” His eyes meet Nix’s, then Ezra’s, and then dart down to the floor, where the crown lay moments ago. “I should get some… rest. It’s been a long day. I’ll see you. In the morning. Yes.”
He leaves, surprisingly, through the front door of the Tavern and not into one of the rooms recently secured by Nix.
Ezra calls out to him pleasantly. “Have a good rest!” Turning back to Nix a look of concern quickly finds its way onto Ezra’s face. “Not to overstep, but I would recommend keeping an eye on that one.”
“Yeah. That was just a little weird.” Theodore says, having paid attention to the strangeness occuring before him. He ignores a Dwarf tugging on his arm, trying to get the measure of his hand span to better inform him of a wager.
“Gold and wealth has an effect on people. Some more then others.”
“Yes. It would appear so.” Taking a sip of his drink, Ezra finishes talking of Darrin and tries to move the conversation on to more productive matters. “I am sure he will be alright with a little aid and time. Forgive me, but I forgot what I was saying before.”
The conversation then turns to professions, and Ezra shares his status as a cartographer and map maker.
Talison pulls himself from the crowd of Dwarves cajoling him into swordplay against the grisled-looking Theodore. “So, Darrin, what do you think we should do? Do we still find Glaurung and hunt Glauphin down? Do we hunt down Glauphin by ourselves?…” He looks around, and see that Darrin has left the tavern. Adrik looks grimly at the tavern door, seemingly trying to make his mind up. He then does so, and without a word or look to anyone he gets up from his seat and follows where Darrin went, wolf padding along behind. It’s at this point the bartender notices that the dog is not a dog. “Er, excuse me!”
Adrik looks over his shoulder.
“… N… neverm… Have a good night, sir!”
Adrik embraces the cool night air, the smell of oncoming rain and the brightness of the stars and moons above. Ero spots the Dwarf and his companion, and the two share a look. Without nod or signal, the two know wordlessly that they are both looking out for the group. They then turn to their own methods.
The morning comes far too swiftly, and the rains have arrived. Heavy, thick raindrops bombard the ground and stir up massive mud puddles. The night’s rest was less than comfortable, there only being five rooms at the Inn, one having been taken up by another guest. Thirty Dwarves, Elves, Humans, Gnomes, Tieflings and Dragonborn don’t fit comfortably into four small rooms. Everyone made it work, however. Between those rooms and the hooded wagons, the night was restful to one degree or another.
Erik gathers the troops and makes a start on moving things along. Jila says his goodbyes, undeterred by the evening before. “I really must return to Lorestar. Perhaps I can dissuade them from marching on the Citadel somehow.”
The carpenter appears to have dropped off the coffin with the bartender; a different bartender presents it. A halfling with a scruffy beard and heavy sideburns braves the rain and leaves the house on the end.
“Who’s the leader of this group?” His voice is smooth and young-sounding, despite his looks.
“That would be me for now.” says Erik, standing up on his wagon.
“Are you planning on taking the body with you, or leaving it here? I would like to stress, we don’t have much provision for burials here.”
Erik looks to the group for guidance.
What do you do?
Any parting advice to Jila?
Is everyone travelling south, or is anyone staying here?
Bard’s Tale time!
Feel free to post a tale (or more than one). This “Bard’s Tale” can be a story set within the game world involving people and kingdoms we’ve encountered and dealt with, or they can be other stories that could be told in this world. It can be an account your character shares of their own experiences, if you like.