A New Face in a New Town
The city was, quite simply, huge. It wasn’t like I was staring at this metropolis is with bumpkin eyes even though I was technically fresh off the boat. New Adtham appeared as a thick knot against the wild backdrop of Osse. In Faerun, there are tall cities and sprawling cities, the kind that stand up and the kind that lounge taking up as much space as possible. There are citadels keeping their treasures locked away deep in their heart and glorified villages dedicated to war or what they’d call ‘protection.’ It’s a well-trod land filled with people, most of whom don’t give a damn about you cut with many who’d like to cut your throat for your purse. They think that’s the way of the world. Many and most haven’t seen the world. They may live in a city or a beautiful and civilized king’s land, but they’ve never seen anything beyond their front door.
Faerun. Zakhara. Kara Tur. And now Osse. A clan of one going where the wind blows, Shaundakul’s way. Stepping off the deck of The Phoenix gazing over the docks leading up to the city gates and beyond to the towering buildings beyond, it felt right. This is where I needed to be for now, a new face in a new town.
As the sailors went about unloading their cargo and the handful of other passengers departed, I noticed a stout tattooed human with fiery hair. I hadn’t spoken to him during the voyage but he certainly stood out. I imagined he was looking for a place where he could blend in. Why not come to the farthest corner of the world? I was roused from my musing by Captain Eggers, whom I had developed a fair parlay with, as he went about directing his men.
He took a moment, mistaking my moment of rumination to be some kind of indecisiveness, “I’d find your way to The Phoenix’ Perch, Cade. You’ll find a room and work there and tell the old innkeep, McSweeney, I’m keeping his ship tip-top.”
Eggers cuffed a swabby on the back of the head as he nodded, “Retired captain, had the helm just before me. He’ll set you right.”
I scratched my chin, “Thanks for the tip.”
Moving through the city was a bit of madness. I’ve seen a lot of places but tend to stay far afield. Something about my temper, I get annoyed so damn fast in crowds I can feel my blood being to boil. Yet, I kept it together. The Phoenix’s Perch turned out to be at the very heart of the city and seemed to be overflowing with folk. It took awhile but I finally found McSweeney and passed along Egger’s message. There was some meaningless chitchat, unfortunately I was too distracted trying to mind the exits and entrances while staying out of the way of folk to really offer up conversation. The old captain must’ve seen this. He put his hand on my shoulder and suggested I make my way to the Cockled Moor in the southeast of the city. Thanking him, I left and continued my trek through the city.
Things got easier and finding the Moor helped. A kind of open park for naturekin, it did feel more comfortable setting up a hammock and tent there. However, it wasn’t sparsely populated, plenty of ranger folk, druids, and some squirrely looking uncivilized types like yours truly. I had burned through most of my coin from my last job in getting here. It hadn’t paid nearly as well as it had promised, a scavenging mission through some ruined temples along the northern border of T’u Lung, and, honestly, went a bit sideways at the end. Getting out of Kara Tur felt like the right move even if it left me barely any coppers to scratch together.
The Cockled Moor let folk pay in trade to stay. I ended up serving as a kind of bouncer at a pub call the Jolly Worm Piper run by two of the dumbest people I’ve ever met. They had good hearts though so it felt good to be there giving a presence that kept order and the dodgy from taking advantage. However, I was barely keeping my head above water. I don’t need to be rich but I need drinking money.
On the Moor, I got to know two halfings. A tweaking little rage monster named Noggal who doesn’t seem to know he’s a halfling. In fact, what got me talking with him was hearing him speak orcish with a shocking fluency. Turns out the little guy was raised in an orc clan. I’d inserted myself in a conversation with Noggal and a fellow halfling, Flynkin, who looked the ranging type. Kid had what at first I thought was a queer pet but soon learned was more of traveling companion, a pseudodragon named Thyrsus. Little bugger seemed to be always gnawing on something but was definitely easygoing. The three of us met up every few nights to just shoot the shit and try to better ground ourselves in the city. The two intended to join something called the Adventurers’ Guild, and as they described it to me, it sounded more and more like something that would be up my ally. When dawn rose on this new week, the two halfings and I accompanied by Thyrsus made our way to the guild with the intention of signing up.
The Adventurers’ Guild
I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t disappointed. The guild hall was impressive and more than casually foreboding. As we entered it was clear we were expected to stay in the receiving hall. A queer looking old man sat alone in a chair neither responding to nor acknowledging out presence. We made our presence known to a rather skittish grown man who for some reason allowed himself to be called ‘Timmy.’ As the three and half of us waited, other folk appeared themselves looking like they were set to the same task as us. Apparently, this was to be our cohort.
I introduced myself to the well-armored human woman who seemed at ease and familiar with this place (Truda), an extremely laid back looking elf (Varis), a lavender skinned tiefling woman with some rather tall horns (Octavia), and the fiery haired tattooed human I had seen on The Phoenix weeks before (Branok) as each did the same as well as Noggal and Flynkin. So there we were, a half-orc and halfling barbarian, a halfling ranger with his pseudodragon companion, a human fighter, a tiefling ranger, an elf cleric, and a human warlock.
Timmy informed us that to gain entry into the guild we would need to successfully complete a contracted mission. Once done to the satisfaction of the guild, we’d be joined in a induction ceremony and be able to start working in earnest with all the perks. Seeming more than a bit flustered and more than a bit grating as a bureaucratic, Timmy ran through the options we had to pick from. Among the seven of us there were varying levels of knowledge about the city and the surrounding area. We settled on heading just outside the city to the farmlands to the south to help a local farmer named Reggie who’d reported having ‘labor problems.’ Other than that bit of obscurity, we didn’t really have much else to go.
Trouble on the Farm
However, it seemed as though Octavia knew this farmer and as we left the city and arrived in the area, the locals all eagerly waved at her some even calling out greetings. Apparently, Octavia had made a name for herself ’round here. Arriving at Reggie’s farm the problem was immediately obvious. Aggressively harvesting his fields, taking a disturbing glee in hacking with sickles and scythes were several animated skeletons, two skeletal horses dragging plows, and a massive skeletal boar bent on consuming as much slop as possible. As it masticated, the slop merely poured over the bones of the animated creature back down to earth where the creature scooped it back up again.
As we walked circumnavigating the field, the skeletons seemed to take no notice of us. It was clear they were in fact working, harvesting the crops therein. However, I had heard at the various taverns I’d visited one of the few ironclad laws of the city was zero tolerance for necromancy. If the City Watch found out about this, then whoever was responsible would be immediately sentence to execution. When we got to the house, Reggie and his wife were audibly engaged in a domestic squabble. Reggie recognized Octavia and pleaded with her to help him get rid of the skeletons. We told him we’d take care of it as it was guild business now.
Looking over the fenced in field, it seemed clear the skeletons wouldn’t leave the space. As a way to test my hunch, I picked up a solid clump of dirt and rock tossing it over the fence next to two of the creatures. They immediately stopped what they were doing staring hard at where the clump landed. After a few seconds they turned back to their task. We were pretty sure the minute we set foot in the field the skeletons would move on us. We broke up into three units–Varis and Noggal with me nearest the farmhouse and boar; Branok, Flynkin, and Thyrsus in the middle; and Octavia and Truda at the far end.
Slapping my shine, Noggal had an idea. Well, less an idea and more of command.
“I want ya to throw me.” Noggal said with mad gleam in his eye.
“You want him to toss you in there?” Varis asked.
“Nine Hells yeah, grab me and hurl me at those bastards.” Noggal began slapping his face as he unsheathed his two handaxes.
I shrugged, “Well, why not.” Out of pouch on my belt, I cupped a piece of copper wire in my hand holding it to my mouth whispering to Octavia, I’m gonna throw Noggal in and that’ll be the cue for us all to start in on these things. I could see Octavia turn her head right and left as she heard my message. I grabbed Noggal by the seat of his pants and the scruff of his neck. I yelled towards Branok and Flynkin to get their attention; they seemed to realize right away what I was about to do. Lifting Noggal up off the ground I threw him as best I could over the fence into the field near two skeletons with sickles.
I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t the best throw I’ve ever made. Not even worth mention in my top hundred. Noggal flew through the air in an arc landing squarely on his face not fifteen feet from me. However, the halfling recovered as I and the rest of the party rushed in following him. Working on different clusters of the skeletons, we were able to handle them with little hurt coming our way. I was able to eventually take out two of the skeletons before turning my attention to the hulking boar who began charging us after catching the scent of blood draw by the skeletons. Ranged attacks with bows and magic from Varis, Branok, Flynkin, Truda, and Octavia all were all able to bring down the boar with ease. Eventually, it collapsed into a heap just as Noggal arrived in a blind rage smashing the now inanimate bones into dust.
We sent Octavia (because she knew Reggie), Varis (because he seemed the most persuasive), and Branok (because he said he had a good intimidation spell) into the farmhouse to find out just what led to these creatures overtaking the field. As the three questioned him, the rest of us inspected the remains looking for anything of value. There wasn’t much but I did manage to pick up the sickles and scythes used by the creatures. They’d at least fetch me a small bit of coin.
I came over to stand next to Truda who was staring at the farmhouse watching the conversation between Reggie, his wife, and our companions through the window.
“This doesn’t look like it’s getting off to a good start.” She said shaking her head.
Reggie was clearly stumbling and panicked. His wife in a rage at him. Although Octavia began to ask him some questions, it seemed suddenly Branok did something to terrify everyone in the room. Reggie seemed to collapse into a useless heap.
“Well,” I grumbled to himself but loud enough for Truda to hear, “that’s not how you do that at all…”
We stood there shaking our heads slightly as behind us Noggal continued to thrash the boar’s bones. Reggie’s wife emerged dragging him by what looked like his hair and threw him into the swine trough where the boar had been. A thin scent of human feces wafted in the air as it was clear Reggie had, for whatever reason due to whatever had happened inside, shat himself. He now sat cowering covered in filth.
“So that went well.” I said as our three companions emerged telling us Reggie had apparently gotten a scroll from a shady if not incompetent merchant named Siffuk. Reggie didn’t realize this would happen, he was just looking for some cheap labor to help him with the crops. With our job done, we decided to return to the guild.
By the time we got back to the guild, it was early evening. Somehow, word of our success had reached the guild ahead of us. Entering, we were ushered into the lower chambers and set on stage where the current guild master, a golden dragonborn named Qwand, proceeded to conduct our initiation ritual. We each signed our names into Qwand’s journal providing a unique mark and were cheered as the newest members of the guild. We were led to The Tom, the guild’s in-house members-only tavern where for the night we drank and got to know some other guild members.
After the ritual but before our time at the tavern, Branok and I wandered over to the White Market to investigate this Siffuk person’s cart of wares. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of someone either intentionally or unintentionally spreading around scrolls to unwitting commoners that could mark them for execution. However, Siffuk appeared to be nothing more than a buffoon like Reggie. Rather than report either of them to the City Guard or mention it to the guild, the party convinced me that it would be best just to sit on the information. Still, it lingered as a worry.
Completing the guild contract netted me fifty gold coins. So, flushed, before leaving I purchased a rather nice warhammer from the guild store to rough out my arsenal and learned the location of a few magic shoppes. The drinking that night ended with me carrying a passed out Noggal like a ruck sack, as along with Flynkin and Thyrsus, we made our way home to the Moor to sleep.
When we awoke the next morning, Noggal was a bit worse for wear so just Flynkin, Thyrsus, and I headed back up to the guild to see what work there was. Varis and Octavia showed up looking more than a bit hungover. Branok, who had been staying in the guild’s barracks, met us, while it seemed Truda would be gone this day. So the five plus of us queried Timmy settling on a contract two days outside the city. A merchant caravan reported encountering two blue dragon wyrmlings. The guild is tasked with dealing with the situation.
A rather open-ended directive, however, it was the best paying option. We took it and headed south. Beyond the farmlands, the terrain turns into scrub land then flat arid plain before turning into proper desert. It took us two days to get to the section of the trade route where the wyrmlings were spied. The road was more of a path, just wagon ruts in dry, reddish soil beyond which flatland sprawled out to horizon. I don’t know much about Osse, but it felt like we were on the fertile edge of a vast interior desert.
We knew the wyrmlings had been seen off the trade path. With no noticeable details in the land and really no noticeable animal life, finding these dragons was proving difficult. Using her Primeval Awareness, Octavia was able to get us into a mile of the wyrmlings. Narrowing the gap was necessary. I don’t know a lot about dragons but blue dragons are no one’s friend and tended to burrow. I decided to try to flush them out so I cast Mage Hand and keeping it thirty feet in front of me began pounding the ground until something reacted.
And it did.
Not a few minutes into the spell, a wyrmling burst from the ground roughly a hundred and twenty feet from us like a startled cat. It leapt up hissing its breath weapon out but, fortunately, in a direction well ahead of us. We moved quickly as for a brief moment we had the drop on the creature. Branok and I were able to strike the dragon early on for some significant damage. The rest of the party was able to focus and handle the beast without trouble with Octavia landing the killing blow.
Just before striking it down, the second wyrmling emerged from a burrow not far away from the first. With the others behind me, I rushed towards the creature. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get near enough to strike out at it. Instead, I decide to see if I could drive off or frighten the creature. Doing my best orcish roar and slamming my new warhammer down on the ground before me, I succeeded. The wyrmling flinched, startled and put off by my display giving us a slight advantage. Together Octavia and Flynkin rained down arrows while Branok and Varis were able to strike the creature with their magics. However, the dragon youngling was able to spew its lightning breath striking me (although, I was quite resistant to it) and Thyrsus ever so slightly. On its last leg, Octavia unleashed several attacks with her bow bringing down her second dragon of the day at which point she dropped to one knee, threw her arms wide, and bellowed “I. AM. A. DRAGONSLAYER!”
Now with two dead dragons, we have a question of resources. There’s a lot of value in dragons–scales, tooth and claw, and, of course, blood. But how to get it and whom to trust in getting it? Pragmatics becomes the first concern. There’s no way the five of us are dragging two dragon bodies (horse sized) two days back to New Adtham. We settle on sending a couple of us back to city to rent a wagon with two horses and get some canvas to hide our prey from prying eyes. Octavia and Branok travel to rent a wagon while the rest of stay behind to guard. Varis is able to cask Gentle Repose to preserve our quarry as we wait for our companions’ return.
Waiting for our companions’ return, some guards from the City Watch find us the second day. They’re out looking into the dragon rumors. We present them with the corpses we’re minding, and they are more than appropriately awed. They head back to the city carrying with them impressions of our badassery. It’s two days walk back to the city but with wagon Octavia and Branok half the duration on their return. The pair return on the third day. We load up the dragon wyrmlings, prying a few trophies for ourselves (scales, talons, and teeth), and head back to the guild. On the day ride back, we discuss what to do with the dragons, where to take them. We float the notion of shopping them around to various high-end magic shops and whatnot but finally settle on simply giving them over to the guild and putting ourselves at the top of the queue should anything useful be made from them.
Our arrival back at the guild is another welcomed one. Making our way to The Tom to celebrate, I rush ahead of the group calling out to the entire tavern, “Make way for the dragonslayer!” as Octavia enters to cheers and applause.
“First round is on us!” I call out, then immediately follow with, “The rest are on you.” gaining more than a few laughs. We spend the rest of the evening celebrating our second successful contract completed, one that netted us each 250 gold.