Sam Holbig 35
Sam's Story

30th of Cloudreach, Dragon 9:43

We ran into no more excitement on our journey and soon found ourselves on the outskirts of the ruined city, where the elf guides took their leave of us. It was a quick and relatively straightforward stroll to the temple, although we did have to pause briefly to beat nine shades of hell out of a wandering ghoul that came between us and our goal. When we got there, we saw that the entrance to the temple had indeed collapsed, which had presumably stopped the elves from investigating any further; however, a bit of pushing from Dro caused the door to practically fall in on its own, which suggests to me that maybe these elves need to start visiting the gymnasium more often.

Investigating the temple honestly felt like it took longer than it actually did. There was an antechamber with some crowns in it, which are apparently enchanted to speak directly into your mind when you put them on and tell you information about the room you’re in (although they only speak in Elvish, which didn’t do me any good when I tried); a library with some random books in it and a magic booby-trap on the door that Dro found the hard way; and a couple of rooms containing sarcophagi, which are supposed to house the remains of some old elven leaders or some such. I say “supposed to,” because when we actually opened said sarcophagi, who should we find but the elf and Tal-Vashoth leaders! Apparently they’d been trapped by the cave-in and set upon by giant spiders (which matches with the webs we saw in a passage through one of the broken walls), and the elf decided to modify a circle of preservation in one of the crypts to keep the two of them in suspended animation until we got there. Pretty clever idea, I have to say, which almost makes up for the stupidity of holding an important diplomatic meeting in an isolated, collapsing temple in the first place.

Anyway, we headed back to the elf village with the leaders in tow, only to be met there by Legnar and a she-elf I didn’t recognize. Legnar informed us that the Tal-Vashoth were on the warpath (because apparently their acting leader either can’t fucking count or has less patience than most two year-olds) and he’d been running himself ragged trying to slow them down. Pretty much at that moment a bunch of haggard, weaponless, and thoroughly frustrated-looking Tal-Vashoth marched up to the camp and demanded… eh, something or other. It really doesn’t matter, because as soon as they saw their actual leader, they promptly turned around and went home again. Jerkface the war leader was fuming, and his mood only got worse when Dro reminded him of his promise to step down if Dro brought the actual leader back. Jerkface pretended he’d never made such a promise and took a swing at Legnar for good measure, whereupon the actual leader promptly banished him from the village. When Dro pointed out that this was a threat to the village’s security, the leader made it very clear that he didn’t care what happened to Jerkface the moment he set foot outside the village. The implication couldn’t be clearer, and frankly, I think I’m looking forward to what’s coming a bit more than is healthy.

Sam Holbig 34
Sam's Story

16th of Cloudreach, Dragon 9:43

We took our leave of that pleasant farmer couple and made our way towards Dro’s village, where apparently there was some business that needed doing. I reminded everyone that we had somewhere we needed to be soonish, but Dro felt that this wouldn’t be anything that would take too terribly long, so we decided to go and make ourselves useful again.

As we made our way towards the village, we were greeted by the sound of drawing bowstrings. (Yes, we heard them before we saw them; these are Tal-Vashoth bows, which means they were essentially pointing siege equipment at us.) Not the sort of welcome we were hoping for, to be sure, but Dro seemed more annoyed than troubled at the development. There followed a bunch of arguing in Qunlat, a bunch of very burly and behorned fellows taking us to meet the grumpy-looking village head, and more arguing in Qunlat. From what I was told afterwards, it seems this fellow is just the ACTING village head; the actual village head apparently disappeared a little while ago after going to meet with some nearby elves, and Grumpy here is convinced that treachery is afoot and is on the brink of launching a war. (Hence the tension earlier, as a party with three elves in it walking towards their gate made the guards a little nervous.) My understanding is that all this is DESPITE the fact that the elves apparently sent envoys with the message that their leader was missing too. Nice to know that being a warlike arsehole is an affliction that crosses species boundaries, I suppose.

Dro apparently worked things out so that we had 24 hours to get things sorted out before Grumpy went on the warpath, so we decided that the first thing to do was go visit the elves and get their side of the story; luckily, Dro’s friend seemed to know where to find them. (Unfortunately Alalen had to stick around in the Tal-Vashoth village as a hostage, and about half of the party, including Legnar, decided to stay with him to make sure Grumpy didn’t do anything stupid.) Our initial contact with the elves… involved more arrows stuck in the two Tal-Vashoth than either of them would have liked, I think, but we managed to get that sorted out, and afterward the elves were a lot more inclined to work things out peacefully than Grumpy had been. They told us that the two leaders had gone to an old ruined city to talk diplomacy, and were probably in a shrine to an fallen archdemon, whose entrance had conveniently collapsed. Also, darkspawn sightings in the area have been on the rise. There’s no way these two things could possibly be connected, no sir.

The elves gave us a couple of guides to take us to the city, and since we were on a time limit we headed out with a quickness. We hadn’t gotten far, though, when we found our path blocked by a trio of foraging bears. No problem, they’re animals, a party of fully-armed adventurers should scare them off, right? Well, apparently not; even after we’d stuck blades in all three of them, they kept trying to tear us apart until we turned them into steaks and rugs. The guides told me afterward that these bears were starving, probably due to the local game all being gone or tainted. Again, not ominous at all.

Sam Holbig 33
Sam's Story

19th of Drakonis, Dragon 9:43

On our way out of the dungeon and the city, I finally managed to get something resembling a straight answer out of that apostate mage (fella named Jeffry, by the by). Seems he used to be the scion of some Val Royeaux noble family that booted him out when they discovered he had the gift for spell-slinging. I guess folk in this town really don’t appreciate that sort of thing! So, he struck out on his own, and the ensuing wacky adventures were what led to him squatting in a cave in Ferelden with a demon wrapped around his brain. Now that he’s loose again, it looks like his plan is to keep biding his time until he can come back to Val Royeaux properly and take what’s rightfully his. Or something like that. Also, apparently he knows Emery, which somehow fails to surprise me.

Anyway, we got the hell out of town right quick, with a tip to the innkeeper and a last flagon of mead for the road. Jeffry came with us, along with the dwarf that was in the cells (who was apparently a servant of Legnar’s brother, and now seems to be serving him instead), the wee apostate lad, and the Tal-Vashoth — apparently not a Qunari after all, making us 0 for 4 — that he’s attached himself to. Since we were moving with a quickness, we made pretty good time across Orlais, and as the sun was setting we found ourselves in the middle of farm country. The smell of fresh-baked pie was coming to us on the wind, which tempted a few of us into trying to find the source, in the hopes that we could get a good meal and a roof over our heads tonight. Me, I was fine with jerky and a bedroll, especially if the alternative was forcing some innocent family to harbor wanted fugitives. The point was shortly rendered moot, though, as we heard a scream coming from the same direction, and heroic types that we are we couldn’t just ignore that.

We arrived at the farmhouse to find it overrun with more darkspawn than I’ve seen above ground since that business with the rage demon and the elf fuck-up. Luckily, they were focused on the house and had their backs to us, so we launched an ambush, punched through their lines, and moved to secure the house. The farmer was holding off the darkspawn on the stairs with a wood-axe, and doing a damn fine job of it, I must say — I’m half-convinced that if his axe had broken he could have bludgeoned the darkspawn to death with his cast-iron balls. Thankfully it didn’t come to that; we were able to take down the spawn in the house and establish enough of a perimeter to hold off the second wave, even when a great big darkspawn spell-slinger arrived to complicate things. Soon the last of the darkspawn were dead and burned, and the farmer and his wife were offering us room and board for the night in gratitude. Well, I wasn’t going to turn my nose up at it if freely offered!

Over dinner, and a fresh pie that they were kind enough to bake for us, we learned that the farmer and his wife had originally planned to raise a great big family to help them tend their farm, but it seems the lady’s lady-parts weren’t holding truck with that idea. I could see her looking at the apostate lad with a mighty longing; me, I can see a hundred different ways that could go wrong, but ultimately we let the boy make that decision. He decided to stick with the Tal-Vashoth, to the woman’s palpable disappointment. Before we leave, I’ll have to talk to her about the orphanage situation in Val Royeaux; if she wants to be a mother that badly, I’m sure there’s no shortage of unclaimed children in the city that would jump at the chance.

Sam Holbig 32
Sam's Story

5th of Drakonis, Dragon 9:43

Since stealth had failed, we found ourselves drawn into combat with the guards defending the dungeon’s evidence room. Maker above, where did Val Royeaux FIND these people? Each one could dodge like an acrobat, hit like an ogre, and take blows like an Ostwick wall. If this is the caliber of person Orlais uses to babysit confiscated trinkets, what manner of men and women do they have leading their armies?! Regardless, we did eventually manage to make it past them, though it was a close-fought thing. We quickly ransacked the room, each of us grabbing anything that caught our fancy. I, for example, managed to find a finely-wrought spear similar in make and heft to my own. I do feel a bit guilty for taking a weapon that obviously belongs to some other poor bastard who ended up on this city’s bad side; maybe I can get it back to him (or her) someday? There was also enough gold stockpiled in that room that any one of us could comfortably retire on our even share of it — and that I feel less guilty about taking, given how freely the gold flows in this city. (Hmm, retirement. That’s sounding like a better and better idea, especially after the clusterfuck this little Orlesian misadventure has turned into.)

Sam Holbig 31
Sam's Story

5th of Guardian, 9:43 Dragon

Looking around the doorframe into the cell block where all the commotion was taking place, we saw that Sona had indeed staged a break-in to try and rescue us. Granted, she’d broken into one of the cells and there was still a locked door between her and us, but hey, no one’s perfect. (And her efforts still put her miles above Enna, who at this point I haven’t seen in at least three days. Where did that woman get to?!) Between the lot of us, we made swift work of the guards: I stayed back and jabbed backsides with my fork, Legnar and Alalen made good use of their stolen short swords, Drow introduced a couple of the poor bastards to the cell door he brought with him, and Daryel… well, Daryel needs to get his hands on a proper arcane focus again, to be honest. Clever sorts that we are, we also managed to stage another jailbreak at the same time. There were some pretty interesting characters in that cell block — a dwarf thief, an apostate who couldn’t be more than nine years old, a pacifist Qunari (not a Tal-Vashoth this time, I think!) who took to protecting the lad, and even, my hand to the Maker, that old drunk from the bridge outside Denerim! Most of them flew the coop as soon as the guards were all dealt with, but the last of them… well.

You remember that silly mage from a while back, the one that Harrowed and started screwing with the water supply of that village? Well, it seems that fate has dragged his poor carcass out here to Val Royeaux for some reason. Given what happened last time we met the fellow, we were hesitant to let him out of his cell again this time — I think Legnar in particular was prepared to leave him to rot — but the mage insisted that if we freed him, he could help us get our gear back. Me, I didn’t have a strong opinion either way, but I was curious as to how an apostate from Ferelden finds himself in an Orlesian dungeon, and what was it those villagers did that got his knickers in such a twist in the first place. He never really gave a straight answer to that, to be honest; I think he mentioned something vague about how it was Val Royeaux he had a problem with, not that town back in Ferelden, but frankly that just raises more questions.

Anyway. We left the guards trussed up in the cells like last time, and made our way up the dungeon — the mage giving directions, the lightfoots scouting ahead, and me hanging back with Drow and staying out of the way until things inevitably got loud. To be honest, I kind of stopped paying attention at this point, found myself getting distracted by all manner of little details in the halls around me. Wonder why that was? At any rate, I figure someone must have screwed something up at some point, because I heard the beginnings of a commotion up ahead. Oh well. Time to do what I do best.

Sam Holbig 30
Sam's Story

22nd of Wintermarch, 9:43 Dragon

For the record, I consider this all to be Legnar’s fault.

We told our hostess, Lady Synova, that we were willing to take her up on her offer of work. Pushy diva that she is, she wanted us to drop everything we were doing and take her lyrium back to the Circle Tower, in the complete opposite direction of where we were going; Legnar, who was doing the talking as always, told her that wouldn’t be practical, but that we’d get the stuff where it needed to go as soon as reasonably possible. That seemed to satisfy the lady, and she motioned for us to go.

Well, apparently I was mistaken about that and we needn’t have wasted our fucking time, because the first thing we saw after stepping out of the wine cellar door is two dozen guards with military forks pointed at us. Lady Synova then proceeded to spend the next several minutes calling us out for crashing our party; not only did she realize something was fishy when these two people she didn’t know came up and started chatting with her, but apparently all those bastards from the past who crawled out of the woodwork to give us trouble earlier decided to get together and make life difficult for us again. (Also, did ALL of them manage to get tickets to this bloody ball? Great Maker above, was there anyone besides us who WASN’T invited to this thing?!) Needless to say, I was not a happy man at this point, and knowing that someone had been killed for crashing one of these shindigs in the past, I was tempted to run Synova through for making us put up with this crap. However, it got pretty well established that said fellow was actually executed for trying to fight his way out, not for crashing the party per se; as such, I figured the revenge killing wasn’t worth the slightly better chance of getting out of this alive, so when the rest of the group collectively decided to surrender, I didn’t raise a fuss. (For a moment, it seemed like the Tal Vashoth — Drow, that’s his name — might try to take the guards on anyway, but cooler heads prevailed there.)

The guards marched us over to their stockade, stripped us of our weapons, and bunged us in a series of cells. To their credit, they were very professional about the whole thing; I’m starting to wish Val Royeaux would die in a fire and sink into the swamp at this point, but I must admit I have nothing negative to say about the guard. Actually, no, that’s a lie — there were definitely some sloppy mistakes the guards made that ended up biting them afterward, even if they did arise from the lads trying to be nice about this whole arrest thing. First, while they took our weapons and other gear, they didn’t take our armor; second, while the cells they stuck us in had manacles on the walls, they didn’t bother to use them; and third, they didn’t search the obvious rogue’s person nearly thoroughly enough. As such, in between the guards coming to keep an eye on us, Legnar was able to retrieve a set of lockpicks from his beard and open all of our cells. From there, it was an easy matter to disable the guards on their next patrol sweep. I managed to get one of the guards in a bear hug and demonstrate that, for a big hefty fighting man, a heavy suit of armor (and particularly a fully enclosed helmet) IS a weapon. The others took down the second guard through a combination of wrestling, pickpocketing weapons, and improvised tactics — I saw Drow actually pick up and start swinging around his cell door at one point, which I thought was hilarious. Once both guards were down, we gagged them and locked them in the cells, securing them with those manacles that they neglected to use on us. (Legnar also relieved them of a grand total of six gold pieces, which I think is dirty pool, myself — that’s probably their full wages for the week! Still, a thief has to be a thief, I suppose.)

We made our way out of the cell block just in time to hear an explosion further down the hall. Is that someone else breaking out, or perhaps Enna and Sona breaking in to come get us? At any rate, it attracted the attention of the guards; we ducked out of sight while they went past, then moved to follow them. Hopefully whatever’s waiting for us in that tunnel is on our side and we can make a pincer out of this! After that, I’ll be ready to show this bloody city my backside, but I want to make sure I get my spear back before we leave for good. That weapon’s one of the few things I want to remember about Ostwick, dammit, and I’m not about to leave it rotting in this place.

Sam Holbig 29
Sam's Story

8th of Wintermarch, 9:43 Dragon

Despite that close call in the old mine, we made it back to Val Royeaux in plenty of time for the party. However, apparently Enna and Sona were feeling under the weather, or had some other business to deal with, or just couldn’t be arsed to come help us; whatever the reason, they elected not to bother attending the gala. (I’m a mite peeved at that, considering I dropped a fair chunk of silver helping Legnar pay for the supplies to make their invitations. Note to self: demand refund at some point.) We decided to have Legnar and Daryel pretend to be the sort of worthies that would actually have legitimate reason to be at a party like this, while Alalen, the Tal-Vashoth and myself would serve as “hired muscle.” Now, credit where credit is due: apparently Legnar did a damn fine job of forging those invitations. Of the five of us, only Alalen got turned away at the gate, despite an admirable display of bluster and mock outrage on Daryel’s part. Personally I think Alalen should have come back with Sona or Enna’s invitation and tried a different door, but apparently he eventually made it in through an open window, instead. Truly some impregnable security the lady of the house has, here.

Inside, we all kept an eye out for either Blane or the wacky cultists (called the Elevated Brotherhood, apparently) who seemed to have a bone to pick with him. This turned out to be more trouble than one would expect, as there seemed to be no shortage of nosy upper-crust at the place taking every opportunity to distract us. Some uppity lord called me out for looking at his woman — news flash, mate, I’m a bodyguard, I look at everyone, it’s my job — while Legnar got his ear talked off by a particularly chatty noblewoman, and I’m pretty sure I even saw some dumb bastard try and pick a fight with the Tal Vashoth. Both Legnar and Daryel also ended up speaking with the hostess at one point, which I’m pretty sure accomplished little save making her more suspicious (and led to the utterly ridiculous sight of Daryel bitching out THE WOMAN WHO WROTE THE INVITATIONS because Alalen’s fake wasn’t good enough to get him in the door). Nevertheless, we eventually spotted some cultists making their way into a wine cellar through a side door; they left a couple of guards outside, but thanks to some well-timed distractions and doorknobs applied to crotches, we were soon able to follow them down.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, we arrived in the cellar just in time to see a general melee taking place between Blane and his men, the Brotherhood, and a third group that Blane had apparently come to talk business with. Blane snarked at us for taking so long to get down there, but I’ll freely admit that I was long past sick of his shit at this point, and snapped at him to shut up and focus on fighting. We’d left Legnar behind to serve as a rearguard, but between the four of us that were left, we managed to put the Brotherhood members in their place fairly quickly; unfortunately, Daryel apparently suffered from a bout of magical impotence during the fight, and the resulting lack of healing meant that Blane’s two men both went down hard.

Legnar followed us down shortly after, and shortly after THAT, the lady of the house arrived, no doubt wondering what all the fuss was about. I was hoping that Blane might vouch for us, but it seemed that somehow the slimy bastard had vanished, despite there being only one exit from the room that all of us were looking at. Luckily, it seemed that the lady was more interested in discussing business than punishment: it seems that she’s also interested in getting into the lyrium business, and a handful of deniable assets from out of town are just the sort of thing she needs to get a foothold in the market. Of course, we were also free to walk away if we so chose, but in that case we’d be on the hook for a hundred gold to pay for the damage to the cellar. (At the time, I was sure that she was trying to extort us for damage that was already there when we arrived, and grumbled about the fact, but in hindsight it’s possible that it would actually cost a hundred gold just to pay for the mess being cleaned up. Bloody Orlesian prices!) We all put our heads together to discuss our options; ultimately we were largely in agreement to take her up on her offer, though I’ll freely admit that my contribution to the discussion amounted to “do whatever you have to in order to get us out of this increasingly-miserable shithole as fast as possible.” However, I’m in desperate need of ale and sleep at this point, so the rest of the story will have to wait for another time.

Sam Holbig 28
Sam's Story

11th of Haring, 9:42 Dragon

Silliness with everyone encountering some angry specter of their past aside, ultimately Legnar was able to get his hands on one of those invitations we were looking for. (I may be a bit too deep in my cups at the moment, because for the life of me I can’t recall where it came from right now.) Creating invitations for the rest of us, though, was going to take coin — a whole hell of a lot of coin at first, though our hero the innkeep came to the rescue again and was able to get us the necessary supplies for relatively cheap — and time. While Legnar slaved over his quill and parchment, the rest of us looked for something to occupy our time before the party started. Me, I would have been content to lounge at the inn and keep my eyes open for cultists with a bone to pick, but Alalen and the Tal Vashoth (what’s his bloody name, again?) thought it would be a good idea to pay a visit to a local ruin, apparently located close enough to Val Royeaux that we’d have time to get there and back again in time for the party, even with the inevitable dungeon-delving and darkspawn-slaying taken into account. I admit I wondered how lucrative it could possibly be to explore a ruin that’s apparently within shouting distance of the city, but I didn’t have any better ideas, so off we went.

It can’t have taken us more than an hour to walk out to the ruin, which seems to have once been an old mine or something similar, nestled deep within a narrow crevasse. As we made our way down, we came across an old campsite with the bodies of a couple of unfortunate previous explorers in it, as well as a pack of darkspawn that we quickly dispatched. However, that fight only served to attract MORE darkspawn, and soon we were forced to retreat further into the ruins to get away from them, because apparently we thought THAT was a good idea for some reason. By some miracle, we were able to put some distance between ourselves and our pursuers, and the chamber we found ourselves in was defensible rather than a deathtrap. We set up some crates to use as barricades, and from there, it was just like the old days back on the wall for me — protecting the men next to me, and stabbing until there was nothing left to stab.

Eventually the darkspawn stopped coming, but by that point we decided we’d had quite enough and left to go back to town. At least one of the crates we cracked open had some healing potions and other tinctures in it, so the trip wasn’t a total loss. Given how close those ruins are to Val Royeaux, I suspect the only reason they haven’t been picked completely clean already is because there’s so many bloody darkspawn down there — you’d think the nobs running this town would be more concerned about something like that! Still, once all this party nonsense is said and done and we have our full party back again, it may be worth it to take a bit of a detour and see if we can’t ransack that place properly.

Sam Holbig 27
Sam's Story

27th of Firstfall, 9:42 Dragon

Okay, so now that I’ve had a chance to get the story at a time when we WEREN’T chasing down a mysterious robed figure, it seems I was a bit mistaken regarding the situation with Kennadrin and the lyrium. Apparently the dwarf and his brothers were all trying to cut Lendrid’s gang out of their deal (since apparently said gang was to serve as some sort of middleman in this transaction) and instead go straight to their main buyer, this underworld bigwig who apparently goes by the name of Blane. Seems Blane didn’t take kindly to this disruption of his operation, however, so he sent his assassin to go steal the lyrium and kill the dwarves — and while he’s no kinslayer, Kennadrin still gets stupid bastard points for leaving them alone while they slept — while also ensuring that Lendrid’s gang got paid. So, Lendrid’s happy, Kennadrin’s pissy, and Blane has got everything running the way he wants. Or something like that. Bunch of underworld political nonsense, from what I can see.

Anyway, apparently those folk in robes are part of some sort of cult in the city that has beef with Blane — probably legitimate, he’s a gangster after all, but whatever — and the man wants to hire us to serve as bodyguards at this fancy party he’s going to. If we do a good job, not only do we get paid, but it seems Blane will also give us an in on his business in the city, which would be useful for Aneth Ara if nothing else. Oddly enough, it seems Blane is more interested in seeing whether we can even make it to the party than in actually having us guard him; he didn’t even tell us where the damn thing is, much less give us any way of getting in, and got downright snippy when I just asked him directly where the venue is. Whatever. Let the others dance on eggshells trying to impress the man. I’m given a job, I do it, and if I need more information I ask for it.

Incidentally, it turns out there’s another familiar face from Ostwick in Blane’s entourage. It seems old Larry Jerkins, another deserter from the Wall Guard, has found his way out here to Orlais and fallen in with this Blane fellow. Apparently he hasn’t forgiven me for ratting him and his band of weasels out, either — he was giving me the stinkeye all during my meeting with Blane, and Blane implied he’d been venting his spleen about it for quite some time. Me, I consider it water under the bridge at this point; Jerkins and his mates may have left the rest of us to die, but at least they didn’t lead their squadmates to the slaughter like Kingsley did.

I digress. Blane finally and reluctantly told us where the damn party was going to be, and I headed over that way, looking to see if I could get guard work either at the party itself or with one of the guests. No dice, as it turns out; seems the Orlesian elite don’t trust outsiders with guard duty. Not sure I can blame ‘em for that, really. Still, I did find out that apparently anyone, no matter how scruffy-looking, can get into the party with no questions asked if they present a proper-looking invitation. Enna and Legnar immediately went about trying to find one for us to copy, each in their own way, while the rest of us kept an eye out for trouble.

As it turns out, trouble decided to come looking for us. Who should show up out of the crowd but Jerkins, still pissy about that whole desertion nonsense and wanting to have it out. So, we told a nearby guard we were going to duel, and then Jerkins proceeded to embarrass himself by bouncing off my shield repeatedly while I poked him with my spear. Eventually he got tired and ran off, and I went to go catch up with the others — only to learn that apparently LITERALLY EVERYONE ELSE was accosted by someone from their past with a bone to pick at the same time as I was dealing with Jerkins. The Maker moves in mysterious ways, as they say, and it seems today He got a little impatient.

Sam Holbig 26
Sam's Story

13th of Firstfall, 9:42 Dragon

Obviously we didn’t want the bartender’s generosity to go to waste, so the rest of the group went to go buy some clothes while I stood around outside and tried to look imposing. (I think Sona may have actually run back to the tavern to change rather than doing so in the shop, for some reason.) On our way out, we heard talk of a commotion at the front gate. Being the nosy sorts we are, we decided to go investigate, and who should we find there but Enna! Apparently she managed to finish whatever errand it was she was running, and displaying her usual lack of impulse control, immediately proceeded to antagonize the door guards and nearly get herself arrested or banned from the city. With her was some Tal Vashoth warrior that she didn’t seem to be terribly fond of for some reason. While the group spent some time trying to sort all that mess out, I eventually got bored and wandered over to go ask the shadiest-looking character I could find if he knew anything about the man Kennadrin was supposed to be meeting. He said the fellow was typically found haunting bars in the fancy part of town, but we’d already managed to figure that out from our previous inquiries, and the man I was talking to either wouldn’t or couldn’t give me any more information than that. I rejoined the group just in time to find that Alalen had apparently hired the Tal Vashoth to accompany us on our quest. Ah well, we’re already turning plenty of heads, so what’s one more oddball?

Once we got to the fancy quarter, we immediately split up to try and cover more ground. I was starting to get impatient at this point, so I walked into the first tavern I saw (called “The Fascinating Gopher,” oddly enough), threw down 30 silver on the fanciest bottle of wine I could find, and asked point-blank which tavern our target could be found in. The barkeep pointed me to one at the end of the lane, and when my group met up with the others we quickly established that they had been told the same thing. Now, this was likely to be a fairly sensitive negotiation, and while the others were dressed for that sort of thing, I wasn’t. Rather than run the risk that my giant armored backside would hurt our negotiation chances before we even got started, I decided to do my usual loom-outside-the-front-door thing. (Then again, they took the Tal Vashoth with them, and I’m pretty sure I heard him casually threaten to murder everyone in the general vicinity on a regular basis, so perhaps I needn’t have worried.)

The negotiations took a fair while, and pretty soon I started getting bored again, though I did my best to stay alert and actually do the guard job I was pretending to do. Kennadrin stormed out of the tavern in a huff at one point, but I figured he had some reason or another for it and didn’t bother to follow; Legnar informed me later that apparently he actually had tried to cut his two brothers out of the lyrium deal, which ultimately led to us being here. (I don’t like him any more for it, but somehow it makes me feel better that the bastard is actually treacherous and not simply blindingly incompetent. Also, apparently the others invited him to move to Aneth Ara, because that’s what we do with kinslayers, apparently?) However, there was another figure that left the tavern in a hurry while the group was talking, someone dressed in the robes of a mage. That seemed like something worth paying attention to, and I elected to follow them, joined fairly swiftly by Legnar. We ultimately followed the figure into an alleyway, where we were ambushed by more people dressed as mages (though truth be told, I don’t recall any of them using any magic.) We dispatched them quickly, but doing so delayed us enough that our original quarry escaped. Still, I did manage to strip the robe off one of our ambushers; I’m hoping that this underworld bigwig our party’s been chatting with will have some idea who they are.


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