Barry wakes up with a feeling that he should have received his money upfront. Perhaps his decisions in life to this point haven’t helped his cause, but at least he is trying to bring his brother to justice.
Abagail had risen with the sun, and is eager to get her hands on her gold. She arrives downstairs and asks for breakfast. Barry comes down and sees her, and asks her to hurry up. When Abagail questions him, he answers that he has had a premonition that Tellemon isn’t trustworthy. Abagail waves the suspicion away.
“You have no reason to be suspicious, because he told us to MEET HIM THERE!”
“Well, I’ve had a hard life, so I’m suspicious. I just don’t trust him.”
Jeckal, arriving from upstairs, notices something looks odd about the paladin. “Barry, where be your holy symbol?”
“No, I’ve got one, it’s right here…”. Barry pulls a rock out of his own pocket, with a crude marking scratched into the surface. Jeckal sniggers and turns to Abagail, who looks oblivious.
“A paladin withou’ a holy symbol is like a wizard withou’ a wand, or a king withou’ a crown,” he explains.
“We just need to get our money. I vote we go see Tellemon,” Barry interrupts.
“Well, I can agree with that,” Abagail states. “I want my two hunjy.”
Jeckal sticks his hand in his pocket, and pulls out some of his winnings from the night before. “Lad, I think you’re fooling yourself more than you’re fooling everybody else.” He drops 10 gp into Barry’s hand. “You can pay me back later.”
Abagail gets up. “Right, off to the market to get our money and buy stuff!”
As they walk outside, Jeckal suggests that they should first visit the local temples or shrines, as Barry will have a better chance of obtaining a holy symbol there than in the marketplace. Barry is willing to go by himself, but the other two state that they will tag along.
The trio moves outside the temple, and back towards the gate, coming to a stop outside a majestic building which towers over the accompanying tenements. Marble pillars hold aloft a colonnade around the entire building, and a large opening faces the road.
“Hello, travellers!” an individual at the door calls out.
Barry steps forward, and announces that he is Barathor Hammerbeard, of the Hammerbeard clan. The individual looks somewhat dumbfounded.
“Err… right this way!” he finally says, leading Barry into the temple. When the others attempt to follow, he politely asks them to refrain, as only the honorable may enter Bahamut’s abode in the world. They hang back as Barry continues inside. He is led to a haggard old man, leaning on a walking stick.
“Blessings to you, father! I seem to have misplaced my holy symbol. Would you be able to help a brother out?” Barry asks. “However, I only have 5 gp…”
The old man mumbles something disparaging about new followers under his breath. Barry tries to make excuses, but the priest won’t hear of it. Taking the offered gold, and turning to his sanctum, he picks up a small object, and places it in Barry’s open palm. It is metallic, and has a stylized dragon head engraved upon it.
“That was my last one, son,” the priest utters. “You owe me five gold. Have it to me by the end of the day.”
Barry looks downcast, realizing he hasn’t gotten away with the bargain. “Thank you, brother… Sorry, what is your name?”
“Broseph,” is the reply. “Broseph of Bahamut.”
“Well, Broseph, providing no justice is required to be dealt, I aim to have your money by the end of the day.” Barry pauses. “what can you tell me about this slave uprising?”
“The slaves wanted more pay.”
“… But they’re slaves. They don’t get paid.”
“Yes, that’s what I couldn’t understand either. The slaves are kept men and women, although their circumstances may be different, what with some being criminals and some being indentured. But the uprising was about payment for their services.”
“So what about the church’s position on slavery?”
Broseph sighs. “The criminals deserve enslavement, because of their deeds. The indentured perhaps do not deserve enslavement, although it is a simple way to repay their debts. However, we are sure that there are slaves within the city who fall into neither of these categories, which must be corrected. I, in my old age, have grown unable to fight this growing injustice, and all I have to help is the acolyte out the front, Ron, and he hasn’t proven to be capable of much.”
The acolyte’s voice rings from outside the temple. “Hello, travellers! Come into our temple!”
“I did notice he didn’t seem to be all there,” Barry quips.
“You hardly seem much better,” Broseph retorts. “However, there have been some disturbances within the spiritual realms in addition to the slave uprising. Shady characters have been meeting with other… shady characters, and the name ‘Orcus’ has been mentioned in short whispers.”
Knowing that this name is linked with the demon lord of the undead, Barry vows to find out what he can about these rumours, and Broseph sends him on his way.
When Barry walks back outside, he sees Abagail and Jeckal attempting to entertain children with tricks and acrobatic skill. Though they do not always succeed, they do get some laughs from the passing crowds. Barry weaves his new holy symbol into his beard as he fills in the other two on the information about the slaves and the rumours.
Abagail says, “All well and good, but I still think we should go see Tellemon and get our money before heading off somewhere.”
“Good point, he may have some dodgy connections we can follow up,” Barry replies.
They walk back through the town, as people throng about them. Upon reaching Market Square, they see Tellemon’s wagon on the other side, while Jeckal also notices some cloaked figures intently watching their movements. Barry pushes through the crowd to the wagon.
“We always trusted you would be here, Tellemon,” Barry exclaims.
“And thank you for paying for our lodging last night,” Abagail offers.
Tellemon looks at them both, and his shoulders droop slightly. “Considering I did say last night to meet me here, I see no reason why you would have doubted my word. Although, I do notice that the dwarf now has a holy symbol, which is a step in the right direction.”
“So can we have our money?”
Rustling around in his purse, he brings out the trio’s payment, and drops it in their open palms. Barry hands Jeckal what he owes him.
“Tellemon, d’ya kno tha’ ya been fullowed?” Jeckal asks.
“I’m not sure that it is myself that they are following, seeing as how I am a regular visitor here.”
“So ya know tha’ they be followen us, then.”
Tellemon nods his head dejectedly. “Yes.”
“That seems to be something one would tell a friend and prospective employee,” Barry interjects.
“You obviously weren’t listening just a moment ago when I did offer you more work,” replies Tellemon.
“In that case, it would be in your best interest to help us investigate these characters who may or may not be worshipping Orcus.” Barry sees the anger in the merchant’s face when he whirls around, and quickly adds, “Not that I’m making any accusations of that sort at this early stage…”
“They’re in your employ, though?” asks Jeckal, who goes quiet with another withering glance from Tellemon.
Abagail tries to salvage the situation. “Can you tell us anything about them?”
“While they are not as new as you in Winterhaven, they have not been here long. It could not be more than a month.”
“So Tellemon, what can you tell us about our next job?” Abagail asks.
“And how much will we get paid?” Barry adds.
Tellemon shakes his head. “You misunderstood me. I don’t have anything new now, but come again in a few days time and I’ll see what I’m up to.” The merchant turns to some customers, ending the conversation.
Barry turns to Abagail and Jeckal with an idea. “Tellemon seems to know what’s going on around town. We should ask him who we might talk to about these shady characters so we can get to the bottom of this Orcus situation.”
Tellemon, still being within earshot, calls out to our adventurers, “Just go back to Moe’s, and ask for Salvana Wrafton.”
When they return to the tavern, Barry calls to Jerry for a plate of food, which Jerry relays to the kitchen as bacon and eggs. Barry asks to hold the bacon, leaving Jerry to slouch out to change the order. As he leaves, he asks one of the waitresses to wait on the guests.
Salvana walks over to the table, and enquiries as to whether she may be of assistance. When Barry slides a gold coin across the table towards her, she seems taken aback, but his charming demeanor suddenly overcomes her senses, and the waitress almost leaps into his lap.
“Err, hang on, there lady, I have sworn an oath of celibacy until justice has been served on my brother,” Barry remarks, suspicious of the unexpected success.
“You sure about that, stud muffin?”
“Well, only on odd days – "
“I don’t think I like where this is going!” Abagail squeals.
This brings Barry out of his reverie, and puts his mind back to the task at hand. “Salvana, have you noticed any shady characters that may have only been around for the past month or so, possibly throwing the name ‘Orcus’ around?”
Salvana looks thoughtful for a moment, and then replies, “There have been a number of squinty-eyed men coming into the tavern of late, now that I think about it…”
“Really? Where have they been coming from?”
The waitress cannot say, although she does know they have been heading east out of the town after they meet together. "Other than the squints, and the cloaks, and heading east, there’s not much else – "
“That fits the description of the people following us today!” Jeckal says triumphantly. "So we have cloaked figures following us – "
“- probably with squinty eyes – " adds Abagail.
“- all heading east.” Barry concludes. “What is east of the city?”
“Not much,” Salvana replies.
“All right, are there any prominent landmarks?”
Salvana shakes her head, then starts suddenly. “There is an old keep, though I don’t know it’s name. It’s a ruin, I think. It’s a days journey east. Could they be going there?”
“What were they doing at this inn? Why stop here at all?”
“They seem to arrive to meet each other, only a handful of times over the past month, and I overheard only that they were heading east, and they were looking for Orcus, or more, a priest of Orcus,” Salvana states.
“Maybe ye shoul’ change yer symbol,” Jeckal offers to Barry.
“To blen’ in,” Jeckal explains, “like a disguise.”
“We couldn’t all do that, if Barry is the only one with a holy symbol,” Abagail says.
“Wait! Salvana didn’t get much more about their appearance because of their cloaks, so that would be an option!” Barry realizes.
“We coul’ even squin’!”
“Well, you can squint, Jeckal, but I think I’ll be fine with just the cloak for the moment,” says Abagail disparagingly.
It is decided that our trio require cloaks for each of them, as well as more rations for the journey east. Jeckal asks around for somewhere to invest his hard-earned coin, but to no avail. Heading into the market, Jeckal morphs into a dog and tries to mate with Abagail’s leg, only stopping when she threatens to have him spayed.
“We’re still being followed, right?” Barry asks.
Jeckal nods, and keeps pushing through the crowd. Barry pauses.
“I’ve thought of a way to get more information. Follow me!”
They double back, and turn down an alley, while Barry works up a quick plan.
“These guys are following us, and are going to keep following us, so we use that to our advantage. We bait them here, and corner them so that we can defeat them, but not kill them, so then we can interrogate them. That way we can move on with the story more quickly.”
Jeckal strolls further down the alleyway, while Abagail and Barry hide behind a door near the alley entrance. They are not waiting long before two men arrive turn down the alley to find only the druid, who appears to be urinating on the wall. The men seem to pause, and then move more boldly down the alley towards the druid, when a sudden clanking passes through the wall.
The wall says, “Abagail, pick up my sword!”
“Err… Hello, lads,” Jeckal yells, as he wheels around. He sees the two cloaked individuals, both looking somewhat startled by the noise to their left, and taunts them from the far end of the alley. They begin to approach him with renewed anger.
Jeckal’s shape begins to change, with his jaw lengthening, and tusks showing between his lips. His flesh ripples, and his hands meld together into hooves. He drops to all fours and glares menacingly at the man nearest the main thoroughfare, who has readied a crossbow. The man sees a boar where seconds before a druid had stood, and screams as he is pulled against his will forward into his acquaintance, who stumbles into the wall.
While the attacked man gathers himself after having his mind invaded, the other draws a mace and runs at Jeckal. The man with the crossbow poorly prepares his weapon and misfires, hitting his colleague in the back, who roars. In anger, the swordsman swings at the druid, drawing blood, and shifts around him.
The door behind the two attackers is reefed open by Barry, who holds up his holy symbol (along with his beard) and screams a prayer to Bahamut. The crossbowman staggers from the blinding shock of the paladin’s appearance.
“Barry, I got this!” Abagail sends a bolt of chaotic energy towards the enemy’s head, moving out past Barry into the alley. “Jeckal, are you all right?”
Jeckal attempts to gore upward with his tusks, but the mace warrior dodges the attack. In response, the mace swings again, connecting with Jeckal’s boar head. Jeckal begins to shake, and a shiver of rage passes down the ridge of his back.
Meanwhile, the crossbowman misfires again, and the bolt whistles harmlessly over Barry. He responds by moving towards the crossbowman, but his incantation fails. Abagail moves towards the crossbowman as well, driving her shoulder into his torso. He stands his ground, and prepares for another round of combat.
Jeckal moves towards the other combatants, but has his attack parried once again by the mace. The crossbowman draws a knife, and stabs at the half-elf, slipping the blade beneath her guard. Barry swings his khopesh towards the head of the crossbowman, catching his jaw. Light blinds the crossbowman, and he collapses in defeat.
Seeing his comrade fall, the mace warrior prepares himself for death or glory. The boar transforms into a humanoid form, and Jeckal swings his morningstar, swiping at the warrior’s weapon arm. The arm falls limp beside his body. Barry moves next to Jeckal, and offers a prayer to Bahamut. Some of Jeckal’s wounds begin to close, as Barry strikes at the warrior. Another parry prevents Barry’s blade from dealing any damage.
Abagail impatiently throws a bolt of chaotic energy at the warrior, whose mind cannot take the magical intrusion and opens up like a flower. The body falls to the ground.
“Well, let’s check their pockets!” Jeckal exclaims.