The characters for this session:
Fennec, L2 Wizard (Combat magic)
Cauleigh, L3 Warrior (Townsman)
Crompton, L2 Rogue (Runebearer, Roguery talent)
Ironbridge on arrival
The four Edoras Restorers walk their tired ponies along the well-founded road east of the river upstream towards the iron bridge itself, and get a good look at the town sprawled along the west bank opposite. Although it’s not long after dawn a hot breeze is rolling across from their left where the Atharva plateau rises. The main activity they can see is along the docks where river barges are moored. The rhythmic thumping of a big water-driven stamp-mill comes clear to them against the breeze.
Here and there among the clusters of two-storey houses charred gaps can be glimpsed – big ones that suggest numbers of houses burned down at once.
Jotunn stays out in the lead, Cauleigh draws rein and checks off with the other two what the main goals are. Crompton will trust to luck, Fennec would like to at least contact the lady necromancer at Olfoot Manor and Cauleigh himself wants to follow up the tales of hyena-headed raiders.
Fennec and Cauleigh and Jotunn and Crompton
Swinging west to the bridge approach they size up the guards and are quite happy with their predisposition to pay up. The guards look like veterans, perhaps mercenaries, and tucked just over the arch is a deck-sweeper swivel-gun. The older and more senior of the two the Dwarves talk to seems amiable and gives them general directions, the younger takes a cursory look at their saddlebags. No-one asks them to behave or observe any rule in particular.
They take lodgings – the quality is alright – and finding there’s no secure lockup there, take their bulky and/or expensive gear to the Merchants Guild Trade and Exchange, facing square on to the docks. Except Crompton who has noticed, crossing the little market en route, the way to the Rogue’s Guild.
Fennec and Cauleigh and Jotunn
There’s a queue of one: an important-looking Gnome. A polite clerk ushers them to a comfortable seat. Where there sits another Gnome. This is Sage, a member of the Herbals (or Herbal Teas), and most likely some sort of wizard. He’s here to negotiate on behalf of the Herbals about the bounty, 5gp/head, on kobolds plaguing the mine. He explains – apologetically – his group is staying at the Rusty Rapier Tavern and he invites them over, evening mealtime. He also shows them a broadsheet page from the Sarnas Tribune that is one part of ongoing serialisation of daring exploits around Fingold, starring the re-founders.
At this stage or shortly after, Jotunn excuses himself and heads further on along the docks, saying he’s heading to the hunters’ camp.
Fennec and Cauleigh
Master Erklen, Gnome and owner of the smelter and smithy, concludes his business and the Dwarves get their turn. They rent a strongbox, 12gp the week, and as it is 11ses and they have not eaten for many hours, pursue this idea as far as the Rusty Rapier.
The pair get a feel for the midday crowd – mine workers, barge hands and idlers – and chat to a barge bosun lodging here and get more of a feel for the issue around the mine and kobold-induced delays. He explains that barges are being held up as master Erklen does not have enough ore to process.
The food and drink are a shade on the expensive side but fair quality and sustaining. Equipped with fair directions to the wizards guild and the warriors guild the pair now split up.
Somewhat conscious of his dusty gear Fennec heads to the Aether Thaumaturge Wizard’s Guild and is allowed in without any ‘prove yourself a wizard’ nonsense. Stowing cloak and boots Fennec spends a short comfortable time meeting fellow wizards Solar and Puon. He hears about the Easy Hostess Parlor (laundry extra). Then back to the inn to break out the good robe for his next call.
Back up Quay street, left onto Ironbridge – there’s no toll heading east – and right onto Boot Hill Lane brings Fennec through midday heat level with the graveyard on the slope above – no unearthed corpses or raving loonies – and a view of a pleasant stand of local-variety larches and a low-lying walled manor.
Dextrously tagging the bell-pull with his staff, Fennec alerts the gatekeeper – massive, polite – to his presence and is allowed in. A near-derelict and shaded sweep leads to the house, not much more than one storey and built in a dark-stained timber. Reflected sunlight throws shards of colour back down onto the weed-grown path.
A maid – pale, petite, perhaps once young – ushers Fennec to a waiting room then almost immediately to the library where lady Ezra Olfoot awaits.
And what a library! Shelves 15’ high fill the walls and all are crammed with books. Here the busts of long-forgotten Olfoots goggle blankly at what the young mistress spends the family money on. Fennec swims through the dense rich odour to the middle of the room where stands lady Ezra, white of skin and black of dress, and a book-lovin’ scholar.
They get on very well though the young mistress’ ways are not Fennec’s ways. She fan-girls over the demon fang but can’t afford it, estimates it could be worth 10,000 to the right collector. Promising to visit again Fennec takes his leave, and so off to the Rusty Rapier.
Stepping out of the tavern Cauleigh accepts a visiting pasteboard card from a very pretty and very short little maid: “Easy Hostess (laundry extra).” He tucks it away, sets off for the Forgotten Circle, as the warriors guild is named.
By the time he reaches Bow Street Cauleigh is fairly sure he’s being followed. He swings left into a lane and abruptly stops, asking for directions. The tail swings in: she’s a lean-faced short-haired type, dressed for unobtrusiveness. She checks, then walks on by. Later Cauleigh learns she is one of the Rogue’s Guild, name of Adini.
The Forgotten Circle Mercenaries Guild is a ring of sparring-posts surrounding perhaps six gates set in a circle. As he heads west to the nearest Cauleigh beholds three women: a cunning crone, a strapping young uruk and a hollow-cheeked burning-eyed woman draped on the uruk. This is the matrona. They creep him out but he remains polite, and moves on without incident to the gate.
Passing through into shadow Cauleigh smells the ocean and feels braced as though a strong sea breeze has wakened him.
He sees standing before him in the strong sunlight a three-storey hall of traditional Vale design, a greybeard dozing over an axe on the steps. On waking, he proves something of an oracle:
“You have received the sea-god’s blessing. My name is Cormorant, for I spit up pearls of wisdom and I am bound to share this wisdom with you.”
Apparently he’ll learn something this evening at the Rusty Rapier. He heads on in and spends an hour or less chatting with much more normal mercenaries. They can be divided into two: those currently in the pay of Lord Fabius Orctooth and those expecting to be. They’re all similar to the bridge guards in terms of range of experience and standard of gear.
Naturally getting trail dust washed off, or something, is high on Cauleigh’s agenda and he soon finds himself at the other end of town stepping up onto the verandah of a substantial stone and wood house and presenting his card to the cigar-smoking cad or pimp there. Inside two pretty little maids introduce him to the pleasures of the port room and the reading room, and he meets Viriniana the house madam. Enquiring after her, he is reintroduced to Speck, she helps him remove his dusty gear, and she takes care of his other needs.
And so off back to the Rusty Rapier.
Crompton has one romp after another! Calla, red-haired, pertly cute, quick with dice, is the Grey Cowl Rogues Guild greeter and gatekeeper. The guild can sell him spells but there’s no immediate rush to buy any from him. Vern, old, unkempt, sleazy, tempts him to an initiation rite that evening. Calla Vern and Binye win a lot of gold off him, then Calla tempts him upstairs for some other fun.
After a meal at the Rusty Rapier – at which Crompton does little more than wave across to the Herbals and recuperate – he rejoins Vern and half a dozen younger rogues and after a pub crawl at which something is slipped into Crompton’s drink he is ready for mischief.
Vern explains (muffled hilarity from the others) that the initiation is a panty-raid on the matrona. Crompton’s challenge is to return to the Rusty Rapier wearing Jorgagu’s panties on his head.
Boosted up to a possible entry window Crompton is promptly seized and pinioned expertly. His ribs creak as Jorgagu, the young Uruk, sits athwart him. Creepy crone Fay and snaky matron Jody menace him but as he wriggles Crompton gets a different reaction from Jorgagu…
“You like big snake?”
“Me got big snake!”
Crompton is hauled off to share Jorgagu’s mattress with a large green snake.
As he reels back from the matrona he bears one extra piece of equipment: Jorgagu’s panties worn proudly on his head!
He meets Fennec and Cauleigh who have just become worried enough to get Vern to explain what the joke was.
Fennec and Cauleigh and Crompton
Vern is there in the tavern with Adini (tailed Cauleigh) and yet another titch of a woman, Takido. Crompton, panties shamelessly worn, walks straight over:
“Mission accomplished Vern! What’s next?”
The Rusty Rapier is not a major inn but has a few beds, three of which are taken by the Herbal Teas: Trefoil a straight-talking, charismatic warrior, Heartsease a giggly short-haired Elf warrior, and Sage the Gnome wizard. Their fourth member Wolfbane (a Wulfan) is left outside. Cauleigh listens to their kobold-hunting thoughts and gives them veteran advice.
Later in the busy tavern Gat the older bridge guard has a map to sell, of Atharva Plateau and a way up past ghoul-haunted Grey Dagon Hill. Cauleigh pays an even hundred for it. Will it match up with Fennec’s map? But that’s in lockup so will have to wait for the morrow.
After Sir Titus Lytera – tall, watchful, bears an Eastern sword – does the rounds the Restorers are ready for a little more restoration courtesy of Easy Hostess Parlor (laundry extra). Cauleigh expands on the facilities and Fennec scoffs at a mere two dozen books in the reading room. But getting laundry done does sound good…
Fennec literally gets his laundry done. As for Crompton, he gets laundry done, a massage and a happy ending as the session ends.
This session of all talk no fight is a good one for Crompton who rolls up on CON and CHR at crucial times. If only he can meet a rogue with plenty of money and not enough spells!
Props: Ironbridge is based on Summerbridge, one of Raging Swan Press’ Village Backdrop series. I’ve ‘grown’ it to more adequately represent a real frontier mining town. Features such as the three adventurer-related guilds are added from Wizardawn’s Fantasy Settlements generator. I’m proud to say the Easy Hostess comes from me: a compote of the brothel in Firefly, Miss Nesselrode’s coffee and reading parlor in Louis Lamour’s Lonesome Gods, and any generic anime Maid Cafe.