|Algrim 'Al' Thane, The Pub Landlord|
“If Meliekki be with me, I shall return,” said Halvath.
Dunstan watched as the priest closed his eyes, his head slowly nodding forward until his chin was buried deep within the green of his beard. The dwarf nervously rolled and flipped a gold coin back and forth across his broad knuckles, over and over again. He didn’t like all this mystical nonsense; this walking into the land of the dead. If that evil god Cyric were in front of him, he’d simply head butt him or give him a punch or two where it counted. But this was the priest’s territory. He settled down to wait, the coin flashing across his hand.
Lirael thrust a shovel at Jareth and pointed to the portal. “Dig!” she said in disgust. “Just dig.” They had discussed to death what to do with the portal stones for what felt like hours. It was obvious they had to do something. At the very least, they could make them inoperable.
Jareth took the shovel and started digging, apparently glad to have something to do that didn’t involve talking. He was soon making good progress, the dirt piling up in random clumps around the deepening hole.
Jorah was keeping an eye on the Zhentarim prisoner, proving himself useful once again. Strangely enough, Galion was hanging around their captive as well. Perhaps he felt guilty for not arriving at the fort in time to do anything but walk through the door. As a mercenary, he certainly hadn’t earned his keep.
“Hey, Lirael,” said Paelias, appearing at her side (as always) with an almost gymnastic flourish. “Come with me, please. I want to ask Galion something. I don’t quite trust him.”
She nodded and followed the Eladrin as he motioned to the mercenary to join them. She held back a yawn as Paelias began asking some pointed questions. Galion seemed to be telling the truth but then he suddenly made a break for it. Blast it!
Paelias, who didn’t appear at all surprised by Galion’s sudden bid for freedom, took off after him with a yell. Lirael took a shot as well and neatly pinned the mercenary at the door so Paelias could pummel him at his leisure. Jareth, perhaps itching for a fight after digging for so long, came leaping out of the hold he’d dug. Not waiting to find out what was going on, he plowed through the Zhentarim captive and made short work of him. Ah, well, he was likely to run anyway and the only good Zhent was a dead one.
It was over in a matter of minutes. Galion, it seemed, was the Loudwater spy. Perhaps not the only one, but definitely in the employ of the Zhentarim.
“Damnation,” cursed Paelias. “We have to get word to Lady Moonfire! I will never forgive myself if she winds up torturing that old drunk wizard.” He looked ready to run all the way to Loudwater, but Quinn came to the rescue with a new ritual she had learned. It took two tries, but she was able to get word to Lady Moonfire and also to Dunstan that all were to meet in Loudwater.
Then it was only a matter of prying Paelias away from the fort. For a rather basic palisade, he had taken a shine to it. As they left, he spied two goblins eying the hastily erected sign he had posted on the side. “Paelias’ fort!” he yelled back at them and they scarpered off, probably to return in far greater numbers later. The ranger grunted in satisfaction. Lirael was surprised he didn’t beat his chest for emphasis.
They took leave of Jorah, or rather, he took leave of them to return to the North. Quinn surprised them all, including the normally taciturn ranger, by kissing him soundly and rather sloppily. She looked well pleased with herself. Lirael and Paelias both turned away, each uncomfortable in their own way. Perhaps it was a ranger thing. The only things that grabbed you for illicit kisses in the forest weren’t things you wanted to grapple with.
The rest of the journey to Loudwater was punctuated periodically by Paelias making plans for his fort. No one had the heart to tell him it was probably already completely infested with goblins.
They all headed immediately for the Green Tankard and a rest, where they also learned that Halvath, who had been successful in his bid to win back Lana Jameson and Sir Halvard Brooke from the clutches of Cyric. Now his mission was to request help from Lady Moonfire, but the changeable and rather flighty aristocrat deflected his earnest pleas rather quickly.
They were hanging out in the Tankard when it became obvious that Jareth was itching for a fight and he was bound to find one, perhaps with Megara (if he decided to follow Quinn’s suspect love advice).
“Perhaps we should check out the Vicious Friend,” said Arya. “Not our normal drinking spot for sure, but Galion’s betrayal doesn’t explain away what Valtar saw.”
Lirael and the rest agreed, though there was some reluctance on Halvath’s part. The Friend definitely wasn’t a place he would normally set foot in. Even so, they decamped immediately. A light rain began falling and the streets were empty until they had reached the docks.
“A few coppers, my lord?” wheezed an old beggar with a bowl.
“Begone, wretch!” Jareth, still itching for the fight, knocked it from his hand. The beggar cringed away.
He was only an old man and a cold wet one at that. Lirael picked up the bowl and pressed it back into the old man’s hand, along with a gold coin. “Sorry, old father,” she said. “He’s an impatient one.”
“Bless you!” said the old man, peering up at her. “Why, it’s Lirael, ain’t it?”
“Yes,” she said and with a few quiet words more learned what tales he had to tell about the Docks. It seemed a vicious and mercenary band of cut throats and thieves had taken over The Vicious Friend, led by a Halfling named Kelson and a half-elf. Lirael shot a glare at Jareth, who merely rolled his eyes. How many times did she have to tell him? Honey always worked better than vinegar.
Except on chips, as Halvath liked to say.
When they arrived at the Fest Hall (i.e. brothel), Jareth and Quinn went in immediately while the rest stationed themselves near the doors and windows, straining to hear what was going on.
Inside, what wasn’t covered in grime seemed imbued with the very smell of the docks; mildew, fish, and sweat. Tollin, the barge master, greeted Jareth as he came inside. Jareth skirted around a half-drunk dwarf (how much ale did that take, anyway?) and joined him at the bar for a chat.
Quinn decided on a more direct approach and soon insinuated herself into Kelson’s group. Jareth raised an eyebrow at her across the room when the pulled her down onto his lap. She merely giggled and jiggled. If she took a deep breath just so…yes, good, the button held. Barely. The halfling’s eyes goggled.
The rain picked up and the rest of the group slowly came in, last of all Lirael, Arya, and Dunstan. They girls in particular felt out of place and headed for the fireplace to dry out. They all studiously avoided looking at Quinn, who seemed to be enjoying herself mightily.
Jareth, by this time, had competed (and lost) to a local dwarf in arm wrestling. They were now bonding over the watery ale. The dwarf didn’t seem to like the look of the Halfling and his group. Lirael caught a few words of complaint. Halvath, at the bar, seemed to be making the barkeep nervous. Perhaps it was the trail of grass that he’d doodled across the bar. They were a suspicious but simple lot down by the Docks, even if they did give their due to Meliekki.
Then things all fell apart at once. Jareth and the belligerent dwarf suddenly rounded on the Halfling and his band of cutthroats. Lirael set her almost untouched ale down on the mantle next to her. Dunstan shook his head, picked it up and quaffed it in one go and then slammed the mug back down. Lirael smiled at him and resisted the urge to pat him on the head.
One of Kelson’s men growled down at Dunstan. “Dunno who you are, dwarf, but you’d best be off if you know what’s good for you.”
Dunstan burped in his face.
They readied themselves, just in case, not sure what to expect. It didn’t take long to find out.
Reaper of Cyric: 800x1.5=1200
Galion & Zhent Trooper: 1400x1.5=2100
Kelson & Gang (2 Guttersnipes, 3 Kneebreakers, 1 Grifter): 1225/2=612
Total: 3912/7= 558
Save Lana Jameson & Sir Halvard Brooke - L13 Minor: 200
Unmask Galion as Zhent spy - L11 Minor: 150
Kick Kelson's Gang out of Loudwater - L5 Major: 200
Roleplay bonus (esp Quinn on Kelson's lap)! >:) : 175
Total: 1283 + 38,462 = 39745
Lirael session account +175 = 39920
39,000 for 13th level = LEVEL 13 REACHED
Need 47,000 for 14th level.