DGA5.02: four Mooregate mornings

The characters for this session

Seck – organizes some armor-valet work and is in good town clothes unless otherwise stated. Still wearing his items of course, and the Elf Cloak stands out.
Vir – ranger gear. Still wearing his items. Erzlie (dead paladin, finger-bones encased in his red-gold bracelet) is beginning to cue him in as to how a city works
Cat – good town clothes. Has his Rod tucked away discreetly.
Phoenix – ordinary clothes. His expensive component pouch really stands out.

A few quick notes

  1. Rivercliff district has a town watch, led by a polite ex-soldier type; he has a low opinion of the local adventurers guild
  2. Boys from a local boys school may stray as far as the warehouse; their parents are sufficiently well-off that the watch will leave them to their own mischief
  3. Vint’s pretty young housemistress is his wife
  4. Kølm has had no better success in gaining audience
  5. The same or an identical tall, shaven, and robed servant delivers follow-up details to Lord Kellerin’s invitation in a small elaborate box; costumes encouraged; eight rounds of gambling with 100 gold coin stake each round; winners remain for the grand ninth round; and a vow of secrecy
  6. The Ducal Crown’s evening waitresses are of negotiable virtue and can be bar-fined up to one’s room
  7. The Ducal Crown can also organize quantities of alcohol to be delivered up to rooms
  8. There is more than one guild of thieves, but the more dangerous group has been mainly absent, and Hellri’s Shades control the market
  9. Supposedly giants are roaming again; and dragon cultists too
  10. Phoenix strikes a blow against his personal doom and turns down drinks

Dividing up the chores

The following morning the Long Roaders take their breakfast with small beer and consider the list of things to follow up on…

Threads we’ll be dealing with this session:
1. Deliver Pais’ letter to the Ducal Palace (Vir)
2. Take Stiglehold’s “box of bits” to the Inquisition and bargain for a completed item for Stiglehold (Vir)
4. What’s going on with a leper’s hospice that won’t accept lepers? (Phoenix)
6. Visit the local adventurers guild and inquire about membership (Seck)
New thread: Find a herbalist who may have a remedy against mold or rot (Seck)
New thread: Find a scribe to write up a nice report of the group’s adventures and ask that ransom funds be posted up (Seck or Cat)
New thread: Follow up boat cap’n Beorn Quittlewhimp, maybe by tracking down Ronnie the ‘prentice soldier (Cat)
New thread: Find building tradesmen and a locksmith because even if we want to sell, the warehouse is a fixer-upper (Cat)
And all agree they will keep their ear open to what people say about Kellerin.
And finally, all agree they must get back to finish exploring the warehouse. (Though Cat privily decides to nip in and check the papers, before the others.)

Post-breakfast readying sees the arrival of young Jolif, bringing a simple, stuttering, twitching friend from the temple with him. Jolif gazes at Cat with starry-eyed hero-worship as Delan stammers out a tale about a boo’ful lady: maybe a prisoner of Lord Kellerin: sings sweetly: met her swimming… in the river? Cat has a feeling the fae are tangling his fate up again.

Vir’s adventures

Beginning with the known, Vir heads across the concourse – busy since early dawn – to the ducal palace gates and asks a guard to deliver the letter. The soldierly guard marks Vir’s elven boots, inspects the letter’s stamp, and has a palace flunky fetched, who gives Vir a stamped receipt. The guards have been professional all the while, so Vir asks for directions to the Inquisition and learns it is but a short step west, then the nearest gate is just left.

Vir saunters west, still on the city’s heights, enjoying the sun on his back, past a sheriff’s or magistrate’s hall or some such: and indeed it is but a short step along, past well-built premises. Facing him across another concourse or boulevard is the wall of the priory, a number of buildings within, the Inquisition’s chapel looming over all as though watching everyone’s business.

To the south, Vir can see a candlemakers. North, a fine mansion set back behind a garden wall. It’s a fine day, townsfolk move at a leisured gait about a broad concourse south-west.

The gate Vir has been directed to is a service entrance. He’s eventually shown through to the priory andron and waits for quite some while, nursing the box of ‘nads in his lap. It’s peaceful: the sonorous sound of devotions is all that penetrates the stout stone walls.

At length, Vir is collected by the Warden, Karnet: tall, perceptive, precisely-spoken; this ascetic is one of those inquisitors engaged in political and intelligence work, a valuable contact for adventurers to have in any region.

He proves to know quite a lot about Vir and the Long Roaders and even suggests that arranging something longer term than one night at a time will be a better look for them while in town. He takes the box, saying that he will need to consult as to what may be appropriate. The two agree to keep one another informed, and Vir is presented with an exquisite business card, stiff but pliable, perfect for finessing a certain type of window or door catch.

Vir departs through the main priory entrance, south of what’s known as the priory gate in the town’s north wall. The area seems up-market, the inn he passes looked expensive, and the cakes and sweetmeats people are enjoying al fresco are made from fine-milled ingredients. Vir buys enough seedcake (2cp per portion) for all the group to snack on and heads back east.

This is the next street south to the one he arrived by. A couple of fancy ladies idling outside their house of ill repute chaff him. He arrives back at the Ducal Crown in time for lunch and to learn of much more exciting events in the new town.

Cat’s adventures

Is it possible that another Naiad has found herself trapped by yet another curse? Puzzling over the idea, Cat sets out south, confident that he knows the way to the market and where the guild hall is in that market. Sure enough, it is a near-straight walk, along the widest of the Rivercliff’s streets. The buildings are tidy but workmanlike.

Now that he’s dressed for town, the liveried guild doorkeeper gives him polite directions to the building trade hall, a stone-throw away, by the east or Rivercliff wall. There, they are equally helpful: Cat learns of various useful tradesmen along the Rivercliff, be they joiner, carpenter or full-scale builder.

Asking about the most convenient path down the docks, the guildsmen suggest he can probably cut through the Broken Barrel, right next door, for the price of a beer for whoever is on duty. Striking while the iron is hot Cat follows that advice.

The Broken Barrel casts a mid-morning shadow over a coffin-maker or undertakers house across the road. Cat enters a moderately busy common tap-room, and is soon let through a heavy iron grill-type gate down the river-cliff steps. While delayed by his beer – cheap and adequate – he overhears some common-room gossip:

“Did anything happen about that raiding party wearing dragon sigils? Did they go south or east?”

He finds himself nearly at the most southerly end of the narrow quay running right along Rivercliff. A colorful vista in the clear morning sunlight. The boat pool opens north ahead of him, busy with bumboats and riverboats, the latter each moored at a small jetty or dock. Overhead cranes – mostly depending directly from warehouses – raise and lower goods.

An agile figure leaping from bollard to bollard on one of the docks catches his eye. At first glance boyish, but her hip and leg movement tell Cat that this is a girl. He approaches.

This is Veronica, or Ronnie, styling herself Vint’s pupil, rude, lithe, dedicated to swordcraft. She mentions cultists fighting each morning. What she knows of Beorn: a shit, has taken off east. Maybe lodging among the farms? She is uninterested in house Kellerin, but has heard it was built by magic.

Ronnie helps Cat pick out the river steps that lead to the old warehouse. The Long Roaders made no effort to close the gate after the boat crew left that way, so it stands wide open. Cat inspects it: it will need a lock fitted. Ronnie, curious, follows him up into the carriage room and is impressed at the wagon. By opening the carriage gate they gain access through the warehouse yard to a narrow, one-wagon-wide alley beside the city’s Rivercliff wall. It runs south then loops around into a carter’s yard, with a gate opening to the first street west of the Rivercliff.

Ronnie leads him across it and past a yard, through a narrow alley to the broader second street and swings right. She heads inside the dwelling immediately to hand, pushing in past a remarkably pretty young woman. This is Ellarin, Vint’s wife. Much the same age as Ronnie. Whom Ellarin describes as “step-daughter.”

Cat takes his leave of pretty Ellarin and walks back to the Ducal Crown for lunch and to book his next night’s stay.

Seck’s adventures

Leaving his leather armor with Caltrop the innyard boy Seck walks south past the smell of acetic acid and dyes and cut horn, past the Court Inn, past the boys school and the pie shop – where boys are engaging in pie-frontation – and turns east towards the lane of warehouses. Farley’s Apothecary is on his right as he saunters along the broad alley, to the next street. Glancing right he notices that among the various small business shingles and signs farther south, is the word “Scribe.” And beyond that at the next premises is a large lock-shaped sign.

Working his way up through the smell of lodgings Seck finds Schreiber’s offices – “they call me Gas-scratcher round here squire” – introduces himself; and for the time being, leaves the quill-pusher disappointed.

On the whim, Seck heads south and into the locksmith’s works. He finds the man too busy to speak with him at length so pushes on, past a number of river trades and the Broken Barrel pub, towards an undertaker’s building. Just west of that is a wine-merchant and south-east beyond fine-smiths and a guild hall – which seems to deal with building trades – a narrower street leads towards the mill gate. He marks the guild-hall in his mind and takes the latter.

Keeping an eye on street toughs and snatchers – mostly idling around a gaming-house – Seck pushes south-east, through a dirtier trades area and through the shambles. The smells here are thicker. Beyond a horse-coper and the smell of boiling glue, a large frontage is given over to an herbalist’s. Seck enters.

The herbalist’s store has a very calming odor, and is well-organised, with everyday herbs on one side and more exotic symbols and sigils on the other. Koilev, dressed in work-worn robes and with weathered skin, squint-eyed, rugged-featured, polite, discusses the type of mold Seck fears. He’s heard adventurers took the warehouse over. He’s seen an old woman at the upper window, creepy seeming. Obviously sunlight is not an option with the room Seck describes, so he recommends Elixir [of Health] at 100 gold coins. Koilev also describes all the kind of precautions the Long Roaders took against the grave mold in Kennmouth; mentions an astrologer; and states that his reputation is unimpeachable.

Thinking about what he may face at an adventurers guild that lies near a thieves guild, Seck walks back to the Ducal Crown. It’s well through the morning now and Caltrop has finished cleaning up the armor. Equipped with Red Whisper, armor, and a couple of spare throw-blades, Seck retraces his morning’s journey, past the herbalist and various animal-related trades, to the mill gate. He is being watched, as he has been ever since walking to this part of town. Facing it, with his back to a store to do with something in the cloth trade, he sees that to his left is the thieves guild: a tall narrow building; and to his right is a rooming-house, but beside the “Rooms To Let: Going Cheap” sign is also “Mooregate Adventurers: Quests Taken.”

Making his escalade up over the reek of low-tariff accommodation, Seck finds a sturdy door, elaborately scrollworked, lettered with the guild name. A deep grumbling voice can be heard:

“Any news of those white dragon cultists? I heard Candallo lost their investigators and Baetulo’s lord delegated it to a knight.”

He knocks and the same deep voice bids him enter.

Seck meets Rel, senior adventurer, broad and short, deep-voiced, sour expression; and behind an official-looking counter Helena, dazzling blonde, scornful. He finds that most missions are muscle around town or escort jobs north to Odill or east to Silverlode. The idea of shifting from Stiglehold to Mooregate is greeted with a degree of coolness. Helena will pass it on to the guild president.

Departing and feeling unimpressed with the whole setup Seck weaves his way back to the main street north to the Ducal Crown, to see if anyone is ready for lunch.

Phoenix’ adventures

First, find yourself a guard, Phoenix ponders, looking across to the ducal guard and right towards the gate guard. He chooses the latter. Raising a fist at the young would-be thief that fumbles at his component pouch, Phoenix is warned by the guard that carrying round valuables will draw thieves. He manages to convince the guard he’s not a leper: they direct him due east to the new town and inspect his tax wafer and wave him past the crowded gate traffic. The road east is fairly busy.

Phoenix follows a burly plowman to a confluence of buildings that must be the new town; as far as a large whitewashed inn. A couple of men wetting their whistle nod cheerily at him. It seems there is an ale-house inside.

Seeking directions Phoenix asks for “the best” and finds himself parting with a gold piece. Slightly dizzy from the drink already – or the price – he falls into conversation with Garlan the tapster – sharp brown eyes, straw-haired stringy, plain – he learns that the alehouse is named the Helm at Highsun (the Highsun or the Helm for short); that the Inn is named the White Inn; that the innkeeper married a Coaster girl; and that just down the road on the right the hospice compound can be found; and that a dwarf priest runs it.

And at that moment their chat is interrupted by a murder! An elderly woman, who has been quietly setting up for entertaining the crowd in the ale-house, staggers clutching at a dagger embedded in her throat! Blood is spurting! Her assailant, a plain, dour-looking man, looks as shocked as she does: then turns to flee!

“Stop him! Stop him!” – the voice of a young woman

Rage! Charge! Rabbit-punch!

The man falls flat on his face, his neck at a very odd angle.

“What did you do? Grindol! Grindol!” – Aleena, stooping to the body

“Well he only punched ‘im, Aleena – and was Grindol knifed Kali” – Garlan

“Kali? Kali! Stay with us! Does anyone know first-aid?” Aleena cries, rolling a fine first-aid attempt. “Run down the road to the hospice and get the priest – he’s like, a dwarf – or if you’re really lucky there’s a halfling there – he’s a real priest – can I have your word you’ll come back?”

“I am Phoenix – I will be back!”

He runs east, dismissing a lone farm building and on to a walled compound, its gate set between a larger and smaller building. A woman opens it and soon summons Oskar Beck, dwarf friar, informative, open-minded. By the time they hurry back to the inn Oskar has already supplied Phoenix with plenty of information about the care of lepers.

Between Oskar’s ministrations and Aleena’s first aid, Kali’s life is safe though of her singing voice, none can tell. Oskar has told Phoenix to reserve his defense, but Phoenix continues to explain himself.

Aleena Ironsky, flaxen haired, naive, trying to take all the right steps, has sent a messenger to summon the city magistrate. So far, this is what she knows:

All present in the alehouse agree Grindol just attacked Kali out of nowhere. Grindol has only lived at Nightwall farm for a couple of months, and is a loner, so no-one has any idea of what may have been on his mind. And they can’t ask him.

Phoenix finds that the city bailiff sets his bail at 100 gold coins. He hands over the two gems he has with him (the valuation is favorable) and heads for the Ducal Crown to rally his friends!

The leprosy problem

Oskar has conveyed a good deal to Phoenix on learning what brought him thence, and Phoenix passes it on.

The hospice is funded by wealthier town members, so their family members get priority. Normally the halfling priest Kaleb restores one person to wholeness each week – though the victim may still be shunned – but lately those same victims’ symptoms reappear. And since they have priority, no new admissions can be received.

A closer inspection of the warehouse

Commiserating with Phoenix and booking the same or nearby rooms for another night, the party decides to use the afternoon to explore the warehouse better. Vir advocates a longer booking and perhaps in more permanent lodgings, but for now they leave it.

Carrying Seck’s lantern and spare torches they head south. Cat gets his bearings by Vint’s house and leads them east then in a long loop around by way of a carter’s yard and back up north to the warehouse yard. They chase a few young gentlemen out of the carriage room and proceed to tally the contents.

A mistake given the time. This was once again towards the end of the session: and we can’t simultaneously rush through rooms passages and doors, and step through detail. I should have just left it to the next session when there would be time to draw maps out and describe lighting, smells and underfoot details.

Caution: may include unexplored hazards

Quick inventory of significant items:
7 refills for oil lamp
Blank well-preserved parchment
Fancy inks
Nice purple vase
Ripped painting of a ship
Nice painting of a ship captain
Handsomely-carved banister
Very fancy hummingbird-shaped throwing knife
Well-balanced shortsword with fish-shaped hilts grip and pommel
Steel door of strongroom withstands Seck’s coaxing

As the session ends the party are ready to examine the galley-pantry area and as best I can tell have only kept the throwing knife and shortsword.

Ducal Crown prices (for the 2gp/night separate-room patrons)

Laundry 5cp
Hot water in basin 1sp
Valet leather armor 1sp
Send out for chops or similar 2-3sp per portion
Flagon of ale for room consumption 5sp
Bar-fine an evening waitress 5sp
Private room with small beer and cups 75cp

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