Tales Are Told

Back in Sandpoint, the goblin is turned over to Sheriff Hemlock and locked up until an interrogator can be found. Jharad also returns his borrowed equipment to the garrison and puts on his own gear.

From there, they cross the street over to town hall to settle accounts with Mayor Kendra in regard to the bounty. She pays them, as promised, double on the previous bounty for Chief Gutwad’s head and for each goblin ear. She even counts the ears of the prisoner. The total comes to 1160 gold. In addition to that, they count out 167 gold and 329 silver pieces in the red chest and found on the person of the chief and in the secret stash that Jharad had located. The mayor also confiscates the four skyrockets, but she does give them 100 gold for them.

“I think this town has had quite enough fireworks for this season,” she says.

Of the other items there is a brief discussion as to what to do with them.

“There is nothing here I would like to keep,” says Jhard. “As for as I am concerned, it all should be sold and divided, except for the healing potions. They should go to Toshio and Keng.”

To no one in particular, Zeyala sighs, “I do adore this pin, but I am determined to explore beyond the borders of Sandpoint, and for that, I’ll need coin.” Reluctantly she places it with the other items to be sold off.

Jethrik also expresses his reluctance to sell the magic arrows or the masterwork chainmail shirt that can be cleaned and repaired.

“Although we agreed to share the wealth, perhaps something can be worked out, Jethrik,” says Zeyala. “It does seem a waste to just sell off something that can be put to immediate use, like those potions.”

“I’ll do my best to square the difference.” Jethrik says with a slight bow. “If nothing can be worked out, than…” he makes a show of holding back tears, “we’ll have to liquidate.”

It is agreed, then, to give the potions to Toshio and Keng, to allow Jethrik to take four of the magical arrows and the masterwork chain shirt as the major part of his share, and to take the red chest, hairpin, and fan to Maver Kesk, Sandpoint’s wild haired jeweler to get the items appraised.

Fortunately for them, Koya, Sandru, Daviren Hosk, and Ameiko show up at town hall to congratulate the conquering heroes.

Daviren makes an offer to “have a little talk” with their prisoner. He cracks his knuckles and smirks cruelly as he says this. “You see, I used to hunt the little buggers. That’s why there are no more Bonegrinder goblins around. Nothing left of them but the ears that I’ve collected, preserved, and nailed up to the rafters of the stable. I even inscribed their names on the ears, because writing down their names is one of the worst things you can do to them in their way of thinking. Yes, I know goblins well, and I’ll be happy to get your prisoner to talk and interpret his jibber jabber for you.” This offer to interpret for the prisoner is coolly accepted by Toshio and the sheriff.

Sheriff Hemlock then asks Daviren to take a look at the map on the back of the fan, as he might recognize the goblins scrawl and he also knows the landmarks of the Brinestump better than any other present. Daviren examines it and nods. “Yes, I think I can make sense of this.” Toshio suggests that Jharad work with Daviren to duplicate the map. That way Jharad can use his illusions to confirm the map’s/Hosk’s descriptions and ensure as much accuracy as possible. After that, the fan can be sold. With Hosk’s help, Jharad transcribes the map onto vellum.

Daviren also offers them tips on how to pickle the head of Chief Gutwad. “Too bad, you didn’t bring back the whole body. I should show you sometime, but long ago I pickled Chief Whartus of the Bonegrinder tribe after I did him in, and you can see him now in a large bottle back at the stables.”

Sandru looks over the items and gives his own professional opinion of their value. All in all, he believes they should be able to get 350 gold for the chest, hairpin, and fan. They should also be able to get 83 gold for each magic arrow, 250 gold for Chief Gutwad’s bow, and 19 gold for the six throwing stars found in the chest. As Sandru appraises these items, Koya takes care of any lingering bruises by calling upon her own ability to channel the healing power of Desna. She also uses her magic to mend the chainmail shirt for Jehtrik, though it will still need to be cleaned.

After the shares of the treasure are determined and the coins distributed, Keng, Jethrik, Jharad, and Zeyala go out to sell what they are going to sell, and to get Jethrik’s new chainmail shirt cleaned and polished. They agree to meet with Toshio and Daviren back at the Rusty Dragon after they learns what they can from the goblin.

***

Back in the garrison’s interrogation room, the goblin, whose name is Kavak, is not at all reluctant to tell Sheriff Hemlock, Toshio, and Daviren what happened the previous night. In fact, Kavak is nauseatingly ingratiating and a very bad liar.

“Hit all started da few weeks ago whun Scribbleface, that’s wot we call ‘im now, wuz found to as committed da forbiddun act hof writin. We drove ‘im hout into da swamp an’ tore down iz turf. That’s whun we found dat e had also bin stockpilin fireworks dat he’d recovered from da site deepa in da marsh. Our chief wuz intrigued, an’ so e sent hout five volunteers on da mission to retrace Scribbleface’s path an’ brin bak more fireworks. Dey found da wrecked human ship an’ brought bak from hit da chest filled wiv fireworks an’ da fan wiv da map hof da marsh showin where we could chek more. Da five goblins wuz sent hout again several days ha bit lata on an’ dey returned wiv several crates hof treasure an’ evun more fireworks. So we’ve just bin playin around wiv those fe da while. It’s da most wicked we’ve had in da long bells, an’ dey didn’t belong to anybody. Nor wuz we tryin to hurt anyone. Fe real, we weren’t!

“Well, last night an army hof skeletal warriors, dressed dig ‘im,” he indicates Toshio, “invaded our village. Our bravest heroes wuz cut down as dey fought bravely to save our bitches an’ childrun an’ borrow dem bells to escape. We did our fittest to hold dem off, but dere wuz too many hof dem an’ dey wuz too strong. Dey went door to door killin any goblin dey could chek. Before dey could kill us all, Chief Gutwad in iz yorkie wisdom realized dat dey had spitz fe da treasure. E ordered those hof us who remained to return to dem all da treasure stored in da village treasury. Da skeletons gathered hit all up an’ split. Dey must as returned to da caves to da south where most hof da fireworks came from.”

Kavak then begins begging and pleading to be let go. “Please, I neva did anythin to yous. I wuz just defendin me village an’ me chief. We Licktoads don’t mean any harm. We just dig fireworks! Who doesn’t!? An’ I neva evun participated in any hof da attacks on da road. Can I go now? Please!? Is it coz I is a goblin?”

***

Back at the Rusty Dragon, empty now as it is in the middle of the afternoon when most people are working, Toshio and Hosk relate Kavak’s story to the others. With Kavak’s story in mind Jharad makes a map with Hosk’s help that reveals four locations. One is the Licktoad Village. The second is a site downriver of the village that is the site of the first ship wreck. The third site is much farther off to the southeast of the village and is another shipwreck. The fourth site is a cave complex due south of the third site along the cliff overlooking the marsh.

Hosk looks at the map and says, of the third location, that it may be around the home of Old Megus. “She was some kind of swamp witch but it’s been a long time since she came to town. Many folk believe its because she used witch magic to turn into some kind of swamp zombie and now she’s stalking Brinestump looking for people to eat.” Hosk finds this a bit funny, but not too funny. “I didn’t know Old Megus and won’t speculate on what she may have done or what may have happened to her, but there are certainly some fearsome things in the Brinestump.”

Jharad smiles and says, “Looks like it is back into Brinestump for us.”

“Yeah, but undead samurai. I’m not sure that like the sound of that,” says Zeyala. “As for the goblin, it’s evil. Kill it or let it rot in prison.”

Keng says, “I like the idea of re-killin’ some undead!”

“So we may find the other five goblins, undead warriors in stylish armor, or both. Whatever is there, we’ll need to clear any threat to Sandpoint. I won’t speak for the others, but it seems we’ve got a good group already gathered that could address this – if they’re agreeable to going back into the marsh.”

“I can’t think of anything more foolish… I’m in,” says Jethrik.

“I’m in,” barks Keng!

Toshio is most pleased that they’ve all volunteered. “That’s good. Very good.” He tries not to smile as much as he feels like he’s smiling. “Then let’s get ready, and I’ll buy the first round of drinks this evening. We can figure out how we’ll split any of the treasure we may find over a few pints. Then we can rest up and start tomorrow.”

Jharad looks over at Keng, “Looks like more ale for us,” and smiles.

“Aye! Let’s have a drinking contest with pretty boy!”

“You mean Jethrick?” Asks Toshio, knowing full well what Keng means. “I think you underestimate him,” he adds, smiling.

***

Jharad goes to the jeweler to sell the fan, and then to Savah’s Armory to buy a morningstar, and 20 blunt arrows, 10 of them small sized for Jethrik. He also buys two trip arrows and 10 thistle arrows. At the Pillbug Pantry he gets a couple of healing potions. At the General Store he picks up a notebook, ink, and pen, silk rope, and masterwork bowyer’s tools.

Back in his room at the Rusty Dragon, Jharad gives thought to getting or making gifts for Koya and Shalelu. He can’t think of what to do yet for Shalelu, but for Koya, he makes a detailed map of “The Battle at Licktoad Village.” It graphically details the village and their fight.

***

Toshio heads over to the local armor smith and hopes there might be a suit of banded mail that would fit him. Although he doesn’t want to give up the family armor, he’s practical enough to accept the better protection. Not quite recalling what his teachers said about the weaknesses of undead, the looks for a heavy flail as well.

Toshio also checks the family home for any written stories he might share with Ameiko. In the library of his home Toshio finds a series of volumes written in the Tien language with Tien ideograms. It is a lavishly illuminated set of codices whose value Toshio can’t even guess. They are The Improbable Saga of Jinsen Tayago and His Astonishing War with the Oni, or more simply, the Tayagama. Toshio remembers that Jinsen Tayago was the hero of stories he was told as a child, this must be the original source of those stories. He had forgotten about them when he apprenticed himself as a paladin of Iomedae when he turned 13 and hadn’t thought about them since. Paging through a couple of the volumes, Toshio sees that there is more here than he will be able to take in in only a few hours. This original story is actually a cycle of 100 poems, though they have long since been converted into popular songs and plays, its episodes being frequent subjects of Minkai artwork, and many pithy bits of wisdom are actually drawn directly from this enchanting, if fanciful, legend. It tells the story of a whimsical and work-shy farm boy in the fantastical land of Nihon (a thinly veiled stand-in for Minkai), who is recruited by a kami to battle the hated one who, having conquered seven of the eight kingdoms of Nihon, are intent on ruling the eighth as well. Tayago nearly always prevails through humor, perseverance, and happy accident. The poetic cycle abounds with wit and high adventure, much of it obvious artistic and comic exaggeration. For instance, in the opening lines of the first poem, the kami so startles Tayago that he runs across a pond on lily pads, his feet never touching the water. (adapted from AP 49 The Brinewall Legacy, pp. 71-72 )

After shopping for the necessities, returning his old armor to the manor and again shopping (this time unsuccessfully for the story book), Toshio considers the ivory fan as he comes across it again in the shop. Toshio spends the money to buy the fan. It’s a good opportunity to please Ameiko, with the artistry of the fan itself and the story it can lead to. ‘Too bad I didn’t think to ask for this as a portion of my share in the treasure’ he thinks to himself as he shells out the money. He takes time to get it wrapped, and includes a nice ribbon from the local tailor (long enough to be reused by Ameiko is she so chooses).

He goes early to the Rusty Dragon to find Ameiko. “Hello. I was thinking of you, and how disappointed you seemed to miss our trip into the marsh. So I got this for you. It’s one of the items we recovered from the goblins.” After she opens it, he lets her look it over a bit, and then gently turns it to show the map. “It’s got this map on the back, which mars it a bit. I’ll get that cleaned off for you, of course. But I thought I’d show it to you first. All the adventure of this day seems to be tied to this map.” He lets her imagine what that adventure might have been, and what it might lead to before he says, “If you’d like, I could tell you our story. Or what there is of it so far.”

“You are so kind Toshio.” She graciously accepts the fan the Tian-Min way by taking it in both hands and holding it up before her. “I’d be very happy to hear it, Toshio. Please don’t change the map on the fan though. I like it just as it is, which is to say, part of the story.”

With her eager consent, Toshio relates the events of the day, highlighting the good choices made by each of his comrades and doing his best to make them sound heroic. He doesn’t neglect himself in the telling, but spins his role as one of support and guidance for the others, trying not to display too much ego.

“And so this fan, with it’s map, seems to be leading us on to new adventures. I’ll have to tell you of those when we return” he closes. “Of course, if you change your mind you could always come with us…” he adds hopefully, aware that she is unlikely to accept. If not, he says “Then I look forward to telling you what transpires when we get back” and goes to join the others in celebration.

“Toshio, I really don’t see any need for you or the others to return to the marsh. The Licktoads have been taken care of. And you were all very fortunate to have come back without any great harm to yourselves. Why go looking for any more trouble? Let the dead keep what is theirs. It is probably better not to trouble them.” Even as she says this, however, Toshio can tell that there is a part of her that does wish to go with them. He gets the feeling that she is speaking from her head but her heart is saying something else.

***

Coming downstairs into the main room of the inn in the early evening, Jharad sees Toshio speaking with Ameiko, and Keng sitting by himself. Jharad interrupts Toshio and Ameiko to buy two ales and sits down next to Keng, sliding one across to him. “Describe the best tasting ale or grog you have ever had, I want to show you something,” he says.

Keng nods his thanks and ponders Jharad’s question. Frankly he is uncertain how to answer, nor certain he trusts the elf wizard.

“Best tasting ale eh? Odd question. I like the Shoanti Fire Ale. Quenches the thirst and cuts the dust has a bite to it with wild Ashanti peppers.”

“I have a talent to make things taste… different. Better or worse, sweet or sour. Like most magic the change is not permanent, but will last long enough to enjoy food the way I want. I wish I knew the taste of your Shoanti Fire Ale, I would change this brew to match it. Magic is good that way. Or at least it can be. There exists, of course, bad magic. But I try and stay away from that.”

Jharad takes a sip of his ale, pausing before he says what he really wants to. Lowering his voice slightly he says, “I have a favor to ask of you. It is personal and I am entrusting you to keep this between us. I knew a woman some time ago when I was last here which I was rather fond of. You might call it a crush truth be told. I am not sure, however, that her feelings for me were matched. Or whether she will even remember me now for that matter, though I doubt either of our appearance has change in the last 30 years. When I do see her next though I would like to give her a gift… to show that I at least remember her. Since you seem to know her now more than I, I would ask your suggestion as to what that gift might be.” Looking into Keng’s eyes Jharad adds, “You do know whom I am speaking of, yes?”

Keng looks blankly at Jharad. He is not used to subtlety and isn’t following him at all especially with the big change in topics from ale to women. He squints his eyes and shakes his head and asks, “Are you trying to trick me again?”

Jharad cannot help but laugh out loud. After taking a moment to compose himself he says smiling, “Keng no, I am not trying to trick you. Simply put I am asking for your help. I like Shalelu and would like to give her a gift. Do you have any suggestions?”

Keng, caught with a mouthful of ale, sprays it out in a great mist while slamming his mug down on the plank table sloshing half it’s contents across the wood and blurts out a loud gaffaw, “You like her!?” Realizing he has shouted and is making a scene with three quarters of the tavern looking over at them leans forward and lowers his voice, “you mean ‘like her’ as in lay with her!?

Jharad attempts hiding his head as he brushes his hands through his hair. Cleaning up the mess with a quick spell he responds, “Elven relationships are much more… subtle than that. But for you, in essence, yes I like her that way. Now please, can we keep this a bit more quiet?”

Keng waves his hands as if clearing the air, “My apologies Jharad, It was the surprise of an elf asking a half-orc for woman advice that caught me flat-footed.”

Keng is quiet for a time sipping his ale. “She is a ranger and enjoys long periods of time alone in the wilderness living off the land. She likes things that aid her survival. I in fact am having a small leather pouch made with her family crest tooled in it and filled with some fishing line, tinder and flint as a gift for her.” Keng then looks at Jharad expectantly.

Jharad seems lost in thought for a moment then says, “A very nice gift, I am sure she will appreciate that.” Again he looses himself in thought and then drains his ale mug. Without a word he gets up then returns with two more. He sits and slides one in front of Keng as thanks and finishes out the night talking of killing goblins, defeating undead and other simple pleasures.

***

While shopping for armor and the healer’s kit, Zeyala also picks up a handpainted deck of Harrow cards from Magnimar for Koya. She also buys a small teakwood box to place it in and some fancy paper to wrap it. Zeyala presents the gift to Koya saying, “Thank you, for so much… for everything. I can never repay the kindness you’ve shown me, but please accept this as a token of my appreciation and our friendship.”

“Oh my dear, thank you so much.” She unwraps the present, opens the box, and flips through the cards with real delight. “You are so thoughtful. You can never have enough decks you know. Each one has its own spirit and expression.”

***

When the others arrive and they all sit down together for their supper Jharad says to them, “There are a few points I wanted to bring up regarding tomorrow’s foray back into Brinestone. First is that we might consider getting some blunt weapons. Swords and arrows are not weapons to be used against skeletons. Secondly I think we should return to the bridge where we were attacked by that dog-legged creature. It may be worth while tracking it back to its lair to see what items it may have collected from the less fortunate.”

Toshio is relieved to hear Jharad bring this up. He was feeling a bit ashamed of himself for not recalling his lessons on battling undead, and Jharad’s confirmation that blunt weapons are the ones to use puts him at ease. “Right you are. I’ve already acquired an appropriate weapon. I’m sure everyone will make sure they are also ready in that way.”

Jethrik laughs. His volume is quite surprising from such a small frame. “There are a few points I want to bring up, and the have nothing to do with the swamp! Drain your mug, wizard and worry about tomorrow when it comes!”

Toshio says, “Before you are all too sloshed, there are some points I wanted to discuss as well: the splitting of treasure, in particular. I don’t want us to be fighting or even grumbling amongst ourselves over silly things like money.”

“I propose that we split all coin and saleable items equally among us upon our return. Items useful to the party will be given to the person best suited to aid the party with those items. How does that sound to each of you? Do we need to add more detail to the arrangement?”

Jharad, already a bit drunk, raises his glass to Toshio, “To our leader, may he always… wait, may he never… damn, how does that go? Never mind, I agree.”

Toshio, seeing that the business items are finished, lets them go. He raises his glass in return. “Well said, friend” and drains the glass.

Growing more sober, Jethrik says, “I was happy paying for the items I got, but I can see the wisdom in your approach. It would work well should we continue together over some time. I guess I hadn’t considered that a possibility, but there seems to be a lot going on in the swamp. What comes after that I wonder? But I will go along with the consensus. I don’t want anymore than is my due, and I’m happy showing a friend some generosity.”

Toshio continues, “And of the saleable items, like that hairpin, if someone wishes to buy them, they can do so our of their shares, of course.” Jokingly, he adds “And if two or more want the item, we can duel for the right to buy it, neh?”

Zeyala joins in the merriment.  She orders herself a mug of ale and lights up her clay pipe.  ”I think it would also be sensible to set aside some coins that can go towards supplies that would be of benefit to everyone, namely potions and other means of magical healing,” says Zeyala.  ”Just my two cents,”

“Good thinking. Such supplies should come from our joint purse,” agrees Toshio.

“Ah frack it,” says Keng. “Whatever you bastards want to do is fine with me,” he yells out, “Barmaid more ale!”

Keng is clearly feeling the ale now and clambers up onto the plank table and begins to stomp his feet in a deep bass rumble reminiscent of horese galloping across the plains.  ”Hear my drinking song and join with me,” he bellows out to the tavern!

“The grass grows high

We harvest when its brown

Our throats are parched and dry

Drink boys drink it down

“The enemy draws near

We meet to knock them down

We Shoanti know no fear

Drink boys drink it down

“Women for the taking

They wink and pull their skirts down

For them there be babies making

Drink boys drink it down

“And when I lay cold in the ground

My days done my mates face frown

My lips no longer make any sound

Drink boys drink it down.”

He drains he tankard and throws it into the fire. “A round for everyone,” he yells and tosses a few coins at the barmaid. “Drinks more drinks! Tonight we celebrate for tomorrow we may die!”

Toshio joins in as well as he can, and loudly. But when it gets to the part about women for the taking he stops, not wishing to offend the good women of the company. Feeling awkward for the potential offense to the women, and awkward for stopping mid-song when he’d been boisterously involved a split second before. He lets it pass and continues just as loudly with the following verse (hoping everyone lets it go).

Zeyala claps along to Keng’s song. When he gets to the second verse, she laughs out, “Making babies, huh?  That’s something I know a thing or two about!”

“Don’t tell me you’ve little ones hiding somewhere?!” Toshio asks. “Ha ha! Lovely as you are, no doubt you’ve had your share of suitors!”

“No,” she laughs. “No little ones yet.” She winks and puts a finger to her lips saying, “You don’t expect a girl to share all her secrets?”

After everyone is done cheering for Keng’s hearty drinking song, Jethrik jumps up on a table and floridly elaborates the tale of our mission in the Brinestump Marsh. Strongly emphasized, the powerful wisdom of Zeyala, the wily tricks of our powerful wizard, Toshio’s authority and fearlessness in battle and Keng’s awesome power in dispatching hordes of snot monkeys.

Toshio always appreciates a good performance, and this is no exception. The nice light that Jethrick casts on each of them in the tale helps. Toshio leans back, sipping his drink, and appreciating the telling.

Jharad sits back, claps at both Keng and Jethrik’s performances and enjoys the rest of the night.

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