|Skarg The Half-Orc Was Not A Welcoming Host...|
Our heroes had learned of the bounty on the cad Margesh Blackblood and that he had ambushed the Sheriff's tax collectors outside the town of Trews.
Kirchin (Pete's character) and Harry went off to purchase supplies for the cross-country journey, but Imogen (Meredith's character) spotted a shady contact from her youth, a skinny lad called Cooper, looking shifty and heading towards the out-of-town dive known as Skarg's - after its half-orc owner.
Naturally a brawl broke out at the entrance to the drinking establishment with Davian and Skarg trading blows and wrestling, while Imogen slipped back inside and raced up to the roof to find Cooper. Too late, he had already released a messenger pigeon - but Imogen gave him a sound beating and got him to confess it was going to the town of Horst.
Eventually, Davian managed to clock Skarg on the back of the head with his mace, bringing the half-orc to his knees, but then he and Imogen left to meet up with Kirchin and Harry. However, Davian was heard to mutter threats about "coming back and burning the place down". Apparently he wasn't happy to have a crossbow pointed at his face in "his" town.
Even though the reward for the capture of Margesh maxed out at about 250 silver coins, Kirchin had spent 600 silver on equipment for the whole party and got them a donkey - called Charles - to carry the extra gear.
Imogen explained why they should start their investigation in Horst and so that's the direction they set off.
It was a three-day journey, but on the first night they stopped off at Dundraville, where they were welcomed as returning heroes, and the evening passed amidst a cloud of fine food, drink and conversation (the main topic being local politics and Margesh Blackblood, indolent noble-turned-self-proclaimed-people's-champion).
|Horst (map by Dyson Logos)|
Eventually our heroes arrived at Horst and found the house that Cooper described. By the sound of it there was a riotous party going on inside and so eventually the group decided to try and infiltrate this, as they'd heard tell that Margesh had 20 or 30 men in his gang and so a frontal assault was definitely off the cards.
Harry climbed onto the roof, where he spied a drunken guard snoozing against a pigeon coop. He seemed to be cradling a dead pigeon and Harry tried to extract the bird from the drunk man's grasp. The drunk stirred, as though waking, and Harry sung him a halfling lullaby, sending him back to sleep.
The pigeon still had its message bag attached to its foot and Harry carefully pulled out the fragile message - a coded string of symbols - and then returned it to the message bag, before he scuttled back down to the ground and drew out the message he had seen for the others to try and translate.
|The "cryptic message"|
[As a brief aside, because I don't think it'll be that important now. I scribbled out Cooper's coded message on a tiny sliver of toilet paper. And when Pete - as Harry - was looking at it, and memorising it, he was looking at the back of the paper. So the message he then drew out for the rest of the paper was backwards!]
Davian, bearing a cask of beer, and Harry then effectively gatecrashed the gang's celebrations while Kirchin and Imogen snuck round the back of the house.
The drunk bandits were conned into thinking that the dwarf Davian and halfling bard, Harry, were "the entertainment" - although things almost turned nasty when our heroes found themselves surrounded in a backroom of the gang's hideout.
There was loud, repeated, chants of "Dance, monkeys, dance!"
While Harry provided the musical accompaniment, Davian was made to dance on the table (he didn't dance well and ended up falling off. One of the bandits tried to give him a kicking but was too drunk to connect).
Meanwhile Kirchin and Imogen had set fire to the back of the house - as a distraction - and retreated to a safe distance to see who came out.
Harry and Davian slipped out with the gang (Harry, unnoticed, lifting a tube of coloured liquid from Jerron's belt). Except for Jerron and another, the assorted thugs went round to the back of the house to try and put the fire out - with the help of their neighbours who had spotted the burning building.
The drunk guard on the roof had been awoken by the fire and in his panic ran off the roof, crashing into the street and breaking his neck!
The gangster talking to Jerron went back into the burning house, returned a few minutes later and spoke to Jerron again before they both went back in and returned with the missing gang member - who had apparently, somehow, broken his leg really badly and looked like he was at death's door.
Kirchin was already tending to the guy who had jumped off the roof when Jerron asked him if he was healer, then ordered him to help his colleague.
The physicker - telling Jerron his name was 'Charlie' - bound up the broken leg and got chatting with Jerron, who said he could always do with someone with Kirchin's skills in his gang and was he interested?
To be continued...