Grand Duchy 53

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 53
April 10 - May 7, 2015

Exploring Rifllian

Nytdain 8th Yarthmont

On the Riverbank

On the far bank of the Windrush river, enfolded by the Radlebb woods, lies the Elvish village of Rifllian. Just casting off from the jetty is a magnificent vessel almost 50 feet long. As it moves out into the river, its sail unfurls revealing a rearing unicorn on purple emblazoned across it. At the head of the ship stands an elf dressed in dazzling armour and a surcoat that also bears the rampant unicorn device. Soon the wind catches the sail and the vessel glides down the river towards Kelvin.

The rain continues to fall, though the thick canopy of trees at the rivers edge deflects some of it. Everyone is tired and wet from the journey and the smell of woodsmoke and something good cooking over it makes more than one belly rumble. The thought of a soft Elvish bed sneaks into nearly everyone’s head as they quietly watch the village from across the water.

A brass bell hangs from a wooden post attached to the end of a narrow jetty that thrusts out into the river. Several boats can be seen moored along the docks on the far bank.

Marcel proposes to set up camp on the near side of the river, as Griffin suggested. He gets the boys to quickly pitch the tents and get cracking on supper. Meanwhile, he removes his armor and carefully puts it away, with the help of Rood. He instruct the boy to ensure that the chainmail is dry before storing it. He then puts on his best set of clothes.

“This is a great day for the Grey Company. We have to look the part. How about we ring them’ bell and send a small detachment of negotiators?”

Griffin winces when he sees Marcel step out. “Um, you’re not going dressed like that, are you?” The Traladaran warrior looks down at himself, frowning. “Why, what’s wrong with the way I’m dressed? Don’t you like my new clothes?”

Griffin chuckles, “No, no, they’re very nice, and you look quite dapper. But, ah, may I?” Without waiting for permission, Griffin makes a few adjustments, flipping the collar out, adjusting the decorative kerchief, that sort of thing. “There now, that looks even better. Dashing, virile, the Elf maids will swoon.”

Marcel makes eye contact with Draven and Griffin. He thinks of Ree, but leave it up to her to volunteer: Ree is to him an enigma. He deliberately excludes ‘that bookish Thyatian’ from the expedition.  

“Agreed, no point in bringing all the horses across right away. We might wind up changing our minds, but if we storm across too eager, we can’t undo that.” Lacking much in the way of finery, Draven does dress in some of his vestments in preparation for crossing over to the elven town. I wonder if I will find any of the faithful in this strange place. Or perhaps some who might be open enough of heart and mind to hear the message…

The Ferryman

Marcel strides up to the jetty and stomps out to the end where the bell hangs. He grabs the clapper and begins banging it back and forth inside the bell. The ringing sound is loud and cuts through the sound of the rain falling on the river. Within moments, a door opens on one of the nearby buildings and a figure sticks his head out! He shouts something in Elvish and waves his arm several times over his head before disappearing back inside. The figure appears and steps out onto a dock next to the building and hops into a long, wide raft and pushes off, heading across the swift moving river. The small craft moves away from the jetty on this side as the current pushes strongly against it, but when the ferry reaches the bank, the pilot attaches his boat to some sort of pulley mechanism that stretches along the riverbank just south of where the Grey Company is. The ferry boat is quickly pulled upstream and the pilot throws out a long line to Marcel and the burly Traladaran helps pull him the rest of the way in.
Mazaulo the Elf ferryman
The ferryman is a tall, bald Elf with wide, flat ears. His face is stern, but he smiles widely and speaks a greeting in Elvish, then in Thyatian. “Hello, friends, welcome to Rifllian.” He bows slightly, “I am Mazaulo, the ferryman of Rifllian.” He looks past the Grey Company to the gathered white horses. “Ahh, horse traders. Oh yes, I see old Stephan there. Hello, friend. Welcome back. We expected your horses some time ago, I hope Prestelle is still interested in the herd.” He climbs up onto the small dock and makes sure the boat is tied securely. “We’re going to need a bigger boat to get these fine specimens across though. How much are you selling them for?”

“Don’t worry about the horses for now, friend.” Marcel tie the rope securely.

“This is the Grey Company, and here are the horses. I sure hope that there is someone buying across this fine river.” Marcel’s blood boils a little at this possibility. He smiles. “A few of us would like to cross the river to catch sights and sounds.” His Thyatian sounds rather quaint.

Griffin laughs. “Now, now, my friend, don’t be hasty.” He turns to the ferryman. “Quel undome, Mazaulo. You have a good eye for horses. To answer your question, we sold one on our way up here for two hundred gold. I don’t know the particulars of any arrangements between the Susikynites and this Prestelle,” and he eyes Stephan, who shrugs, “but certainly talking does no harm. Are there any in particular that catch your eye? And what do you recommend as the best approach to convey them to the far shore?”

“You took 200 gold for such a fine specimen? I will pay you 300 and ferry you over to the village for free!” he exclaims. He steps off the dock and begins examining the horses. “Yes, yes, these are nice looking animals, though it looks as if they have had a rough time recently. Was your journey here difficult? The rain has been falling quite frequently here, I assume the same from where you came.” He continues walking through the wet, muddy field, looking at the horses. He speaks to some of them in Elvish. He pats them, scratches then behind their ears and rubs their legs. “Ahh, yes, this one. Quite sure it is this one.” He reaches a small pouch on his belt and opens it up. “Here is a down payment.” He pulls out several small gemstones and holds them out to whoever takes them.

“As for getting the horses across, we I can take care of that for you. Make the price for the horse 275 gold and I can have them over in the morning, maybe take a few of them tonight to get a jump on things? I have a larger ferry raft for stuff like this, but I don’t like to get that out unless it’s necessary. It’s not as easy to get back and forth across the river, you know.”

Griffin ponders for a moment and inspects the gemstones. He grins, “Mazaulo, you have yourself a deal. 275 and transport for all of us. We’d like to get across, get the lay of the land this evening.” He pauses. “Why don’t we get us across, and if you’re going to be busy here for a while longer, can you ferry any others that want to stay in the inn tonight as well?” He looks at Marcel. “Can your ‘toon guard the horses on this side until the morning?” The Traladaran nods and barks some orders to Rood, who nods and gets back to the rest.
The Elf hands the gemstones over to Griffin and turns back to his boat. “Well, with the horse, I can only take 5 of you across, but I can get the rest of you over later, or whatever you like. I would like to start bringing the herd over as soon as possible to get done with it. We can find you a yard or barn to house them in once we get them over,” Mazaulo says. “Shall we be off?”

He brings his boat up to the shoreline and carefully and skillfully leads his newly purchased mount onto the little skiff. He then beckons for whomever to climb aboard as well. Marcel and Draven hop down and board the boat, being very careful to not step directly in the water of the river, though with all the recent rain, the banks are very muddy and messy anyway. Stephan, on the other hand, leaps down from the bank, splashing in the water and muck at the rivers edge, not worrying one bit if he gets himself muddy, despite the fact that he too, had recently changed into a new set of clothes.

Griffin looks back to see if Ree wants to join them in the village, but she is off on the other side of the camp tending to some of the horses. He sees Remar standing nearby, an anxious look on his face as if to say Can I come too? Griffin nods to the young mage and Remar hurries toward the boat and climbs aboard.

By the time the boat reaches the larger dock on the other side of the river, the rain has stopped. The darkening evening sky has cleared up a bit and the sun, now far to the west, casts a bright glow on the tops of the remaining clouds above.

The Village of Rifllian

The Village of Rifllian is nestled among the trees of the Radlebb Forest and the trees above block most of the remaining light of the day. Each building has a glowing crystal that seems to grow right out of a branch, bush or tree near its entrance. The combined glow of all of these crystals gives the village an enchanted shimmer. It is not dark, yet not completely bright either, but definitely beautiful. The houses themselves are near works of art, seemingly made from still growing trees, their branches twined and curved to create structures large enough to live in. Even the clearly hand built structures are carved and created with flowing lines and delicate carvings. Upon disembarking from the ferryman’s skiff, he indicates that the Silver Swan Inn would be the best place to start their exploration of the town. He shows them that it is the largest building in the village, a two story affair located just beyond the nearest building.

“Ahh, yes The Silver Swan, I know it well,” exclaims Stephan. “Master Platterman and I go way back, good friends, come on, I know the way!” He leads the group off toward the Inn.

Mazaulo indicates that he will meet the Company back at the Inn in a short time with the rest of the payment for the horse and will inform Prestelle that they have arrived and wish to trade. He bows slightly and heads off.

Griffin leans in to Stephan, “So, Stephan, this Prestelle, she is the horse broker, right? You’ve worked with her before? Any suggestions how you want this to go? It’s been a long road getting here. I want things to go smoothly. And profitably, too.”
“Well, we brought horses to sell, let’s sell them. Prestelle is a fair and good woman. She is the leader of this village and has been for some time. Rifllian is a good place, so long as you don’t bring in any bad with you. I worry that our foes may choose to stir trouble here, though these Elves will not tolerate it, if any should arise. If you would like me to handle the sale of the horses, then I can do that, though this is your charge, I am merely here for what lies next. Of course, I want my brother to make out well in the trade. His profit depends on yours.” Stephan smiles, waiting for a reply.

Griffin ponders soberly for a moment. “Well, my friend, if you trust me, then the Grey Company and I will do our best to do right by you and yours.” He took a deep breath and straightened. “Now, I imagine Prestelle will be meeting us at the inn, the Silver Swan was it? Let’s make our way out of this damp and get settled so we can make our dealings in a comfortable setting.”

The Silver Swan

The Silver Swan is a large, comfortable looking building. The sounds of music and laughter can be heard well before passing through the open doors. The room is crowded, probably 30 or more folk have gathered here, the majority of them Elves, though a few Humans and Halflings can be seen scattered about as well. Most are sitting around small, round tables, some are standing near a bar at the rear of the room, a few are throwing knives at a target under the stairs. Griffin spies at least 2 different game tables in the large room. A group of performers stand in one corner, near a large hearth, playing and singing in Elvish. The tune is lively and beautiful, and many of the gathered folk are singing along. One couple of young looking Elves are even dancing about the room. A trio of plump Halflings can be seen working the bar and two young Human girls are working the room.

A suspicious fellow
The older male Halfling looks up as the Company enters and smiles wide as Stephan bellows out, “Stubbs you old coot! Have you grown taller?” and heads toward the bar. The two embrace and greet each other like old friends. Several folk look up and take note of the newcomers, but no one’s gaze lingers and within moments everyone is back to their business.

Remar steps close to Griffin and Draven and whispers, “The man at the end of the bar, with the furry shoulder pads. He has been sizing us up since we hit the door.” Griffin had noticed it too at first, but thought nothing of it, but now that Remar has mentioned it, maybe he WAS scrutinizing the Grey Company a bit too closely.

Griffin nods at Remar’s observation. “Okay, then, why don’t the Brother and I keep an eye on him, while you go track down the proprietor, and ask him who he is. For all we know, he could be a rival horse trader.” The mage wanders off into the crowd, looking for a halfling named Stubbs.

Griffin watches Remar head over to where Stephan and Stubbs are talking near the bar. Draven and Griffin watch the Human at the end of the bar, though they try not to seem like they are watching him. The man at the end of the bar watches Remar head over to find Stubbs, but then turns back and stares directly at Griffin and Draven. He smiles at them, nods his head ever so slightly in a gesture that says “I see you watching me,” and takes a drink from his mug, never looking away from the two.

Griffin sees Remar speaking to Stephan and Stubbs and after a moment, all three of them head back across the room. Stephan calls out loudly, “Griffin, Draven, my friends. Come meet Stubbs, the owner of this fine establishment and the tallest man in Rifllian!” His boast brings forth several loud laughs and cries from the gathered crowd and the Halfling throws him an elbow to the thigh. Just a little higher and it could have actually hurt Stephan.

Griffin turns, bows,  and raises his glass, “Goodman Platterman! A toast to your good health!” He shakes hands with the innkeeper. “As I’m sure Stephan has told you, we’re here for a bit of business and are in need of some lodging. Have you enough room for us?”

Stubbs shakes everyone’s hand vigorously and smiles, “Yes, yes, of course. I have some rooms available. How many of you are there? I can spare you at least three of my private rooms for 5 gold each and the rest of your lot can bed down in the bunk room upstairs. I’ll take the whole lot of ‘em for another 5 gold. I can have my girls draw you hot baths if you like, get you food, wash and dry your clothes, whatever you need, let good ole Stubbs take care of it for you!” He slaps Stephan on the butt and laughs again. “It’s been too long since I’ve see you, my friend. I am glad you have come to visit again!” He turns to Griffin, Draven and Remar, “Come, come, friends. Let me show you upstairs to your lodgings. Stephan here knows his way around.” The short, round Halfling turns and heads for the stairs. Draven and Griffin both sneak peeks back at the man they had seen watching them earlier. He is still watching them, though he makes no indication of following them or doing anything else but drinking at the bar quietly.

Griffin follows, and, as they mount the stairs, pauses. “Stubbs, a quick question.” The Hin turns, an  impatient look on his face. “Yes, yes, I’m sure you do. Wait until you see your rooms first, should make everything clearer.” He turns and hustles up the stairs.  Griffin shrugs and follows.

The short innkeeper scurries up the steep, almost ladder-like steps. “Follow me, I will show you one of the private rooms first. They are here, on this side. The bunk room is over here, on this side.” He opens the door to a room. It is nicely appointed and comfortable. There is one bed and a soft, high backed chair. “If there are three of you in here, one of you may have to take the chair though two should fit just fine on the bed, maybe all three of you. I can get you extra sleeping furs or quilts if you want to sleep on the floor. There are no locks on the doors, though you can bolt it from the inside. Here let me show you, this one sticks a bit.” He closes the door and throws the bolt. He hops up onto the bed and, in a lower voice, almost a whisper, says, “There have been folks in town looking for your Company, I believe.”

Griffin’s face sobers. “A mage in yellow robes perhaps? Or a woman, tall with blue eyes?” He purses his lips, “Or maybe the fellow with the furry shoulder pads at the bar?”

“She did have two fellows with her, they wore cloaks and kept their hoods down. They didn’t say anything. She asked for the “Grey Company” by name and described Stephan and a few of you fairly well.” He stops for a second, as if thinking about something. “Shoulder pads? Furry? You mean downstairs? No, he wasn’t with them. Thats Elmun Windfinder. He’s a trade envoy from the Minrothad Guilds to the south. He has been here for a few weeks. He probably pegged you as traders and was watching for a time to approach you. He seems harmless, just a trade broker, you know. The woman and her friends, they rode out this morning, though I can’t say where they went. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, just thought it was some friends of Stephan’s looking for him, you know. But now I realize that maybe it’s more than that.”

“Well, isn’t that just great.” He thinks for a moment, then remembers his manners, “Thank you for this very important information, Stubbs. We’ll be careful” He sits down on the bed. We’re so close. Got to finish the job. Short term - protect ourselves and the horses. Probably need give Marcel’s three minions some backup.

He decides. “Draven, I’m going to grab Akaios and head back across the river to keep watch. You and Remar can have this room, one for the ladies, and I guess Marcel and Burik can have the third. I wonder where Marcel has gotten off to…” The group heads down to the main room.

The main room has cleared somewhat by the time they make it back down. Stubbs finds them a table near the hearth and brings out several platters of fine food and mead. The man with furry shoulder pads is still sitting at the bar. He quietly watches them, but makes no attempt to communicate. After he finishes his drink, he gets up and leaves.  Eventually, Marcel makes his way back to the Silver Swan and finds his friends finishing their dinner. He orders some wine and joins them.

The Elvenguard

Marcel takes a special interest in the surroundings. Elvendom has been a foreign things for the once homely boy. He splits from the other and looks for a concentration of military personnel.

As the others head into the Inn, Marcel spies what looks to be a guard house just beyond. Some Elvish soldiers are standing around outside the small building. They are kitted out in well polished armor, steel helms with stylized wings and antlers on them. Each has a longsword strapped to their belts and dark green cloaks hanging from their shoulders. Shields and longbows rest nearby.They watch Marcel closely as he approaches. One nods at him and greets him in Elvish. Marcel attempts to introduce himself in Elvish, but things he must be doing it wrong as he catches a few stifled laughs from a few of the Elves. “We speak Thyatian, or Traladaran,” the Elf says, speaking fluently in both languages. Pleased to know they have shared languages, Marcel begins talking to these soldiers of the Duke’s Elvenguard, hoping to make some new friends.

Marcel engages the elves into soldier talk. He looks for angles that are common to their experience: bad food, goblin jokes, brass jokes. The elves are entertained by the Traladaran, but they can see through the bumbling awkwardness that Marcel’s heart is true.  

Marcel takes a special interest in their equipment, then expand into training. He drop throughout the discussion hints that the company ran into all sorts of evil such as Argos, and the pair of werewolves. He hopes  that this will bring some credit to the company although he is very careful to not come across as braggy. When asked about the current business, Marcel simply rolls his eyes and tell them that these with merchant smarts are handling the deal.

“I only bother when it comes down to demons and pure evil.”, he adds jokingly. They assume that he is indeed joking although the more perceptive of the bunch probably have an inkling that Marcel is too earnest to make things up.
Cyrrion the Elvenguard

A few of the Elves have actually heard of the Grey Company and know of the exploits with the Werewolves, and though the others listen and converse with Marcel pleasantly, he gets the feeling that they are looking down on him. He notices some snickering at his outfit and one or more of them muttering the words “sell-sword” and “mercenary” or something to that effect, in Elvish.

The Elves happily show off their superior equipment. They are all wearing light plate armor, finely crafted Elvish blades and even their shields are metal. Their gear appears to be of the highest quality and is kept up quite well. While their armor and shields are nearly identical to each others, Marcel notes that every Elf’s helmet bears a different crest. Some are animal or bird motifs, while others are leaves or waves. Each one is intricately crafted and looks very expensive.

After a while, most of the Elvenguard move off to take up duties or posts elsewhere and only one remains at the guard post. He moves to re-enter the building then stops and looks back at Marcel and shrugs. “You’re welcome to stay for a while if you like. I have some wine and a fire inside.  You could at least dry your cloak before it starts raining again. He heads inside, not watching if Marcel follows or not.

Marcel is no fool. He is somewhat disappointed at the haughty attitude of the immortals, which leaves him wondering at whether “hired sword” makes any sense for the company: “We fought evil.”, he thinks to himself. The payment was incidental and they would have done everything even if there would have been no payment. The only thing that they are doing purely for money is the horse job. And what kind of fool would trade horse without seeking profit?

Nonetheless, he will not turn down an offer for Elvish wine even if the company is lacklustre. He walks into the guard post and settles by the fire, pensive.

The Elf, whose name is Cyrrion, pours Marcel a cup of spiced, mulled wine. The Traladaran accepts it happily and takes a sip. The warm liquid fills his body and instantly makes him feel more comfortable. The Elf seems genuinely interested in the stories of the Grey Company and encourages Marcel to continue. He says he has been a member of the Duke’s Elvenguard for several years, mostly stationed here at Rifllian, though he has done some travel to Threshold, Specularum and even into the wild western lands of Karameikos. “There has been a lot of action lately to the west. Near Riverfork Keep where the Achelos River flows through the Cruth Lowlands. There is a push to rebuild on the ruins of Achelos. The hills are said to contain valuable minerals and metals. A good, strong free company like yours could probably make good money out that way.” Cyrrion seems to notice that Marcel is bothered by this last statement and corrects himself, “There would be many worthy things to fight for in the Lowlands, for sure. I have heard that the Fury of the West is involved in battles with the likes of Orcs, Ogres and even Giants on a regular basis, defending civilization and protecting the citizens of the realm.”

Marcel is visibly touched by the diplomacy in Cyrrion’s discourse and smile.

“We go where life takes us. It’s a living. I just don’t want people to think that our hearts are for sale, or that we’d accept a challenge that is morally wrong. I’ll heed your words, friends.”

Marcel is left wondering about why he is living the life that he is and had to trace his step way back. His mind lingers on Madam O’s establishment, then its basement, then its perils. He smirks and asks Cyrrion:

“I assume that you are very old by my standards. I keep on brushing with the edge of what I know about the past. Tell me, Cyrrion, do you know of the ancient civilizations that once existed here?” He then proceeds to describe the dog-like figures that he has encountered, the ruins under Kelvin. He naively assumes that Cyrrion was probably there at the time and could give him a vivid account of these long gone days.

Regarding Elves

“Yes, I have seen more summers than you have, friend. I was born in the year of 898 and am just over my 100th year and only recently considered what you Humans would call an “adult.” I was not alive in the times that you speak of, but my fathers were, though that was many ages ago. There were many different peoples that lived in these lands in ages past. I believe you speak of the Hutaakans, though I admit I do not know much about those stories. Some others may but those stories you speak of were from thousands of years ago, and while we Elves live long, even a thousand years is exceptional for us. Many Humans and younger races assume Elves are undying, but that is not true. We can die just as anyone can, though we age differently. After many hundreds of years, an old Elf is ready to pass on to the life beyond this.” He pauses and thinks for a few moments, then continues. “You have little experience with Elves, am I correct? While we share the same world, and lands and cities, Elves and Humans are very different. An Elf will go through many phases in his life, and these phases, or pethahya, in my tongue, will redefine who an Elf is. They will remember their friends and family and all the personal memories, but their skills and knowledge will shift to other areas. They will forget many old things and learn new things. Through the course of a lifetime, most Elves will experience five or more pethahya. Sometimes, they will move back toward things that interested them before, and they can rebuild upon old skills, but usually we are drawn to new and different challenges, only very rarely drawing again upon the many skills we had mastered in years past. I have not undergone my first pethahya yet, and do not expect to for a while yet, though I do look forward to it. When a race is as long lived as the Elves, it can be a struggle to keep life interesting and worthwhile. The pethahya is how the Elven race copes with this.” He smiles as he watches Marcel take in all of this information about Elves.

“I am sorry that I cannot tell you more about what you seek in the mountains. Is there anything I can tell you about Rifllian or the surrounding area? Of those things, I believe I can help you with!” He passes Marcel a some bread and hard cheese and refills his wine.

Marcel never really thought about elves that much and is left thinking what he'd do with hundred of years. All that he wants is to eventually retire to an estate and have a big family, lots of horses and farm hands, and take care of his own.

"This kindness is plenty for me", he replies.

"We are heading north along the Foamfire River. We're trying to keep a big kind of trouble away from the hearty folks around Susikyn. Trouble loves the region, apparently. I have grown fond of these folks." He takes a sip of wine.

"Do you think that we could find people around here to keep a discreet eye on the pioneers, Rangers or something like this? Until we come back? Some of the trouble was already there, some of which I'm afraid we brought upon while trying to help."

“Susikyn is a little out of our patrol range, but I might be able to convince the Commander to send a detachment out that way. It never hurts to check in on your neighbors. I can definitely talk to anyone else I know heading that way. Some of our folk have ties with the Vyalia Elves farther out, near the Lake of Lost Dreams. I have never met them, but I have heard they are a strange lot, mystics and seers and such,” Cyrrion says. “What type of danger are you fighting to protect these people from? And the Foamfire River you say? That flows from the mountains, past the Village of Verge, though I do not believe that the river is navigable above the village. That is round and rocky country. Gnoll country. Dangerous beasts. Have you had any run-ins with Gnolls? Nasty creatures, vicious. They have no honor and often employ dirty tricks, poisons and traps. Beware if you tangle with them.” He takes a long drink of wine and then finishes, “The homesteads to the east of Kelvin fall outside of the Baron’s lands and I know that historically those folk have resisted assistance and protection, but if there is a “great evil” as you say, then maybe someone should go to the Baron and ask for his help.”

"They are a stubborn lot, no doubt. And I'm afraid that more danger is to befall on them if I talk too much."

Marcel discuss lightly about goblins and gnolls. It takes a few minutes before Cyrrion clues in that Marcel is no taxonomists and has a rather relax usage for the word goblin. He shares as well about his experience with the Vyalia elves and express gratitude that "normal" aren't like them. "They were nice, enough, but the pixies were a bit much for my taste."

Marcel stands up and attempt to thank his host with his best formal, simulated, elven greetings: "My greatest treasure is the friendship of people that I meet". He adds, then shakes warmly his hand. "Take care". He then heads out of the guard house with a mind to get the lay of the village while the weather is holding on. Who knows what can be found in such a place.

Cyrrion bids Marcel farewell and goes back to his paperwork. The sun has finally set in the west, far beyond the trees where Marcel cannot see it anymore. Though the sky is dark above, the village is glowing with magical Elven lights, giving everything a fairy shimmer and making the shadows hide far behind the trees and buildings.

All of the shops have closed down for the evening, though most have some sort of light shining out from inside, no doubt the owners live in the same building as their respective business. Marcel takes note of what looks to be a general store and equipment shop or two. One store looks to be something of an armory, though there is no smithy attached. He does see a smithy at the south end of town as well as a tanner. Another shop that catches his notice that appears to be either a book seller or scribe of some sort. There are some folk out and about this evening, mostly Elves. They are pleasant and friendly, though none stop Marcel for conversation more than a polite “hello” or “good evening.”

Marcel decides to soak-in the fantastic town a bit more and head down river to see what is more to see. For the first time in a while, he has the feeling that the town won't be collapsing in their stead and actually doesn't need any help. He finds this refreshing.

He wanders around, trying to build a mental picture of the place: businesses, homes and other landmarks. He greets meekly whoever cross eyesight as he wanders. His plan is to end his tour at the inn, touch base with the business end of the company, drink two more glass of wine and retire for the night.

Setting up a Meeting

Eventually, Marcel makes his way back to the Silver Swan and finds his friends finishing their dinner. He orders some wine and joins them. After a short time, Ree, Iris and Burik arrive at the Inn and sit down for a meal as well.   

After a short while, a  young Elf maid enters the Silver Swan. She looks around then comes over to the table where the Company is sitting. “Are you the Grey Company? Come to trade horses with Prestelle?” After receiving an affirmative, she tells them that Prestelle will meet with them in the morning at her dwelling. The girl, whose age is indeterminate, like all Elven children, gives them directions and describes Prestelle’s home, which also functions as her office and place of business. It is a large manor house just a few doors south of the Inn. She bows and runs out of the Inn. The gathered members of the Company spend a few minutes sharing what little information they have gained individually, have a few more drinks and then decide to call it a night. Griffin heads back to the horse camp and will send back any others that want to sleep in the bunk room in the inn and grab a bite to eat.

Griffin grabs a platter of sandwiches, thinks twice, then grabs another, and a bottle of wine, and heads back across the river. He finds Akaios at the dock, waiting to cross to the comforts of the inn for the night.

“Sorry, my friend, I need you here tonight. C’mon, I brought food and wine.” The big man groans.

Griffin puts down the food and wine and waves his hands. “I know, I know. But the bad guys have been here looking for us, and I want to make sure the horses are safe through the night.” He looks down. “Besides, if we sell all the horses tomorrow, and that’s currently the plan, we may be heading on to our next thing.” He looks at his friend. “And you’ll be heading back to Susikyn, right?”

The big warrior sits down by the fire and grabs a sandwich and the bottle. “Yea, man, that’s the idea.” He shrugs, “I like what you’re doing here. Seems like exciting, noble work.” He frowns, “Except the horses, I guess.”

He takes a pull from the bottle, “But I dunno, I think what Pytor is doing is good, too. And then there’s Masha…” His voice trails off.

Griffin grins, “Ah, yes. I couldn’t be happier for you, you know. We all went out into the world to find something. You just found it first.” He snags the wine and takes a swig. “And you’ll have a nice little nest egg to start off with, too.”

He sobers briefly and nods towards the wagon, “You know, we still have to find Eran’s family. He’s from these parts. I gotta make sure we take care of that before we leave.”

Griffin shares the food and wine with Marcel’s team, and soon there is a festive atmosphere going on around the warm fire. He and Akaios tell them of owlbear hunting, and encourage them to open up a bit. Griffin learns that Rood, the big one, has some smith training, that Esir has a brother who’s a wizard in Threshold, that Sen is quite accurate with throwing knives. They polish off the food and he sends them off to get some shut-eye, and he and Akaios talk of inconsequential things until late in the night. He sends the big man to bed and wakes Rood for the first watch and tries to get some rest himself. Gotta be in top form tomorrow for the horse trading!

Loshdain 9th Yarthmont

A Storm Blows In

A nasty storm blows in
Just before the sun begins its climb above the eastern horizon, a terrible storm blows in from the north.

On the Rifllian side of the river, Marcel, Draven and the others sleep peacefully, the gentle sound of rain on the stout wooden roof above them does nothing to rouse them from their slumber.

But on the far bank, Griffin and Akaios are woken up when their tents blown right off of them. Before either of them even realizes what has happened, they are drenched by a torrential downpour of rain. The remaining horses squeal and stamp around the camp. Rood and Sen are already running around, trying to calm them and get them tied up better. Esir can be seen coughing and choking on the rain as he climbs out from under the wagon where he slept for the night. Lightning crashes and the horses squeal in terror again.

Griffin swears as he leaps into action. “C’mon, boys, let’s get these horses corralled! Sen, get that one over there!” Griffin lashes the horses tightly, then rushes to help the others.

Griffin grabs a few of the horses and is able to get them tied to the side of the wagon. The boys struggle with a couple the animals while Akaios tries to grab one of the riding horses that have bolted toward the river. As Griffin makes the knot, he sees Akaios struggling with a horse near the water. The horse rears up and then Akaios goes down, splashing in the water out of view.

Griffin charges to the river, yelling "Rood! Grab a rope!" He dives in and starts looking for his friend near the thrashing horse.

Though the storm had just started, the river was already swollen and choppy. Branches and leaves rushed past Griffin as he searched for Akaios in the brown water. As he looks, a good sized log comes rushing up and nearly smashes his face in. Griffin pushes up off the log, hoping to get a better look around him. After what seems like an eternity, he sees Akaios downstream a bit, snagged on some flotsam and roots along the near bank. His arm is draped over a floating length of wood, his head barely out of the water.

Griffin cuts through the water, swimming with the current down to his friend and then heaving him further out of the water. “Rood, over here!” he waves, and after a few attempts, manages to snag the rope and secure it around his large friend’s chest. Akaios looks dazed, but alive. Rood and his friends haul on the rope and Griffin guides his friend up onto the shore.

Griffin gasps for breath as he scans the riverbank. Sen has the horse that Akaios was struggling with. The big man is lying on his side, breathing heavily and coughing up water. Gotta make sure Draven checks him out.

A Case for an Elven Poncho and Other Deals

Marcel wakes to the sound of pounding rain on the roof of the Inn. He moans, expecting to be drenched to the bones, but is is not. He drifts back to sleep.

Only a little while later he wakes up enough to find his bearings. On one side, there are these awesome sheets, that fluffy pillow. On the other, there are a few friends camping in the open. Marcel doesn’t really feel like roughing it on that day. He heads down into the dining hall and asks around for a tailor. “I bet that elves are making great raingears, or something.”  While he is having a meal, he thinks that he can hear the neighing of horses in the distance.  Although probably the fruit of his imagination, he gather that he is probably needed somewhere, for something.

He tips the inn keeper and announces that they’ll stay probably another night. He asks for the direction to buy an “elven poncho”, which draws an amused giggle from Stubbs. He envision something distinguished looking, for some reason.

“Well you know,” says the Hin Innkeeper as he passes Marcel some warm bread, “you probably could get something from Othar or one of the other enchanters in town.” Stubbs describes Othar’s place of business and Marcel realizes it is the weapons and equipment shop he had seen on his walk last night. “But, seriously, you’re not going out there now are you? This is the worst storm we’ve had all spring. You’re like to get blown away, drown or struck by lightning! Only a fool would go out in this!”  A loud crash fills the room as a set of shutters becomes loose and begins banging against the outer wall of the inn. “Damn,” Stubbs mutters and goes to refasten them.

Marcel turns back to his food, then a voice, deep and Human, speaks to him in thick, accented Thyatian. “Good morning, friend, though I suppose there isn’t much good about this morning, is there.” Marcel turns to see a finely dressed and groomed Human. The man takes a sip of hot coffee and then strokes his beard. “I am Elmun Windfinder, trade representative of Minrothad to the south. I hear that the Grey Company is trading in horses. I checked out some of your beasts last night, they are fine animals, very fine. I would like to purchase them from you and I am prepared to make an offer right now. I can pay you 8000 gold for the lot of them if you can drive them to Specularum and deliver them to the docks.” He pulls a stout box from the chair next to him and sets it on the table. He opens the lid revealing a stack of thick gold trade bars, stamped with strange writing on the top. “Eight thousand gold, you know, that is EIGHTY THOUSAND silver.” He folds his hands, intertwining his fingers. “I observed your companions last evening but could not discern who was in charge, but clearly you are the leader of the Grey Company, sir. That is why I waited to speak to you. Prestelle will not pay you as much for the horses, I can promise you that. So, what say you? Do we have a deal? I will also foot the bill for your lodging, food and drink here at the Inn.”

Marcel feels immediately validated by the judgement of this perceptive man. “Well, my good man. You are knocking at the right door for a deal.” Marcel sneers at the rain outside and rather heads for a table nearby.

“Why shouldn’t she pay as much for these?”, he asks.   

“Because there is no one else around to buy the whole lot. Sure you might sell one or two at a time to the locals, maybe even five, but it will take you days or weeks even, and then that cuts into your profits. I, on the other hand, am willing to make a deal on the spot. Is 80,000 silver not enough for you?” He taps the corner of the box holding the trade bars. Marcel has never seen trade bars like this before, though he has heard that the larger merchant houses and trading companies were known to deal in things like this.

Marcel sort of forgets the toil of his friends across the river, and the poncho. He feels the rush of being in charge and is rather afraid that he may be blowing the deal: he can hear Griffin argue with him that no one should argue against 8 thousand golds. Beside, racking up this deal out of the blue would bring some much credit and validation to his leadership. However, a leader should not rush… too much.

“Let me tell you, I will give you an answer by the end of the day. I have to honor at least a round of negotiation with the elf.”

Elmun cuts him off, “My deal for 80,000 stands now. It may not be here later, and if it is, it will definitely NOT be for that amount. Forgive me for wasting your time, Master Marcel. I thought I was dealing with someone of impeccable business acumen. I see now that I was wrong.” He closes the box and gets up to leave.

“Sit down!”, exclaim Marcel, his blood boiling.
“Well excuse me, sir. Good day to you!” The trader scoops up his heavy box of trade bars and heads toward the door.

“Are all your deals as volatile as mist?”, Marcel asks, “Sir fancy velvet.”, he let out without thinking. He let the man walk out of the room, pondering giving him the olde Traladaran pummel.

Both men turn at the sound of Stubbs Platterman as he lets out a loud chortle at Marcel’s comment. The trader gives Stubbs a nasty look and then heads out into the rain, holding the box under one arm and using the other to hold his velvet cloak over his head.

Marcel turns back to Stubbs and begins to ask him about this man, Elmun, but then the door crashes back open. Marcel turns to see Mazaulo, the ferryman standing in the doorway, soaked to the bone. He is clearly out of breath and excited. “Your friends. Across the river. The storm. The horses. Scared!” He leans heavily against the door frame, rain blowing in over his shoulders. He takes a few deep breaths, “I heard the horses through the storm. They are going crazy! I saw one of yours fall into the river and another one dove in after him! I can take you across, but quickly, they need help!” He looks to Marcel, waiting for an answer. A loud crash sounds as a broken tree limb smashes into the front of the inn, breaking the glass through the closed shutters!

Stubbs panics, “Oh my, this storm will be the death of us all!” Outside the wind picks up, howling and rattling the very walls of the Silver Swan. “I will wake your companions, you should go now,” he says to Marcel.

“From clown to drown”, he adds, thinking it clever. “Who is in the water?”

There is no way that friend nor investment will get washed away by the storm.

“Stubbs, friend, don’t die just yet and make sure that we’ve got plenty of dry blankets and hot chow for when I come back.”

In an about face on his way out: “And please wake my associates and tell them that Argos is across the river.” That should get them up rather quickly.

And so, without a deal and without a poncho, Marcel steps into the rain and soon, ankle deep into the mud, gets a glimpse of the river as Mazaulo beckons him onto the ferry.

Rounding Up The Horses

Griffin safely pulls Akaios to shore while Mazaulo ferries Marcel and a few other brave citizens of Rifllian across the river. With the help of the additional Elves, the Grey Company is able to round most of the horses back up safely though 2 white horses and 3 of the riding horses are missing. As the sun fully rises unseen above the horizon, the rain slows a bit, though not much. The wind dies down considerably though and the lightning and thunder become much more infrequent and distant. Mazaulo says he thinks, with help, can begin ferrying the remaining horses across the river. “Do you want me to ferry your riding horses as well? And what about your wagon? I think I can get that across, but I would like to wait until the weather breaks a bit, maybe later this evening?”

The three Elves that came over to help with the horses all seem interested in purchasing one from the Grey Company and once safely on the village side of the river, they inquire about price. Mazaulo produces the remaining gold on his purchased horse and tells the other Elves that he bought his for 275 gold from the Grey Company.

Griffin clears his throat. “Actually, friends, that was 275 gold, plus ferrying all of us across the river. He originally offered 300.”

Mazaulo shrugs at this and carries about his business of getting the horses put up in a nearby corral. One of the helpful Elves, who introduces himself as Ethrin Shadowstalker, nods at this as if thinking, “And we three risked our lives to cross a flooding river to help strangers with their horses running wild, did we not? A favor deserves a favor, I think. I will give you 280 gold for this one here,” he indicates one nearby that he had helped off the ferry. The other two Elves say they would also like to purchase a horse for 280 gold.

Griffin doesn’t even blink. “Done. You have a good eye for horses, friends.” He shakes hands with Ethrin and his friends and lets them proceed to pick out their choices. “And I apologize for not having offered my thanks and the thanks of the Grey Company for your assistance. It was most welcome.”

The Elves each promise to deliver their payment by lunch to the Silver Swan and head off to make those arrangements. Mazaulo finishes up getting the horses into the corral. “Sorry about that, I didn’t mean to try to undercut your prices there, I wasn’t thinking, friend. You all seem like good folk, that is why I called to these folk to come help.” He shakes his head, either in shame or to fling some of the water from it.

“No, no, my friend. I only spoke because these horses are not mine, but belong to the good folk of Susikyn, and they have had hard times lately.  We’re just the middlemen. I just want to do the best for them as I can.” He slaps the fellow on the back. “Now that we’ve gotten the rest of the white horses corralled, why don’t we take a breather and set a spell by the fire in the Silver Swan, maybe get a bit of warm breakfast in us?” He looks down at his bedraggled form. “I for one could stand to dry out a bit.  Our horses and wagon can wait a bit.”

Mazaulo agrees and follows Griffin and Marcel to the Silver Swan. They enter the common room just as Draven and Remar are descending the stairs from upstairs. “You guys are up early,” Remar calls down. “What’s going on?”

Griffin shrugs and grins, “Decided to take an early morning dip.” He nods, “Hey, guys, after you get a bit of breakfast, can you go across and check on things? Remar, maybe set up the magical camp mists you do? And Draven, Akaios took a spill in the water, was looking a little dazed. Can you check him out? And then send him over? He’s earned a place by the fire, too.”

Griffin takes a seat next to the fire and pulls off his moccasins. “Goodman Platterman. I’m cold and wet. Have you something to warm my insides, while your fine fire warms my outsides? And something for my friend Mazaulo here as well?”

When Stubbs comes over, Griffin leans forward and asks, “You two seem like you’d be the ones in the know around here. Do either of you know of an Elf named Eranthil? Said to be from these parts?”

“Sounds familiar,” Stubbs ponders. “Didn’t Seldanna the Weaver have a son named Eranthil?” he asks Mazaulo. The Elf ferryman nods his head up and down in recognition of the name as he chews a mouthful of breakfast.

“Yes, Seldanna had a son named Eranthil. He left many years ago. Headed north. Think he may have ended up in Penhaligon or Stallanford, somewhere like that. Smart lad, though none too cheerful, if I remember correctly,” the Halfling continues. Again, Mazaulo nods his head in affirmation, another bite of breakfast in his mouth.

Stubbs tells the Company where to find Eran's mother, in a small house on the south side of the village, just past Prestelle's dwelling.

Errand into Rifllian

Marcel feels rather out of place with Griffin’s quest and split as Griffin heads to Seldanna’s home. He is still debating whether he should mention to the others how he blew a potentially big deal with the Elmun. He crosses the street and enters the General store to check out the wares and seek a poncho that would keep him dry with its elven mystique.

Marcel browses around the general store near the riverbank. He sees that it is stocked with the normal provisions one would expect in a wilderness town such as this, though the prices seem just a little bit higher than normal, probably due to it’s wilderness location, he muses. He finds some good quality Elven ropes and the Elf merchant says he can supply a good amount of Elven rations, which are magical in nature and never spoil. Marcel checks out several fine woven cloaks and inquires as to the magical nature of the cloaks. “Ahh, you like Seldanna’s work, yes, it is quite good. Her weaving skills are something magical, are they not? See the intricate seam work here and the stitching here around the cowl. This will keep you warm and as dry as any cloak you could buy in Kelvin.” Marcel seems sold until he realizes that the cloak is not actually magical in nature. Reluctantly the merchant tells Marcel that he should go see Othar Longbranch for enchanted items.

The merchant then tries to interest Marcel in his selection of herbs and spices. He shows him some fine Elvish Pepperbark, which he normally sells for nearly 40$ an ounce, but is willing to part with for 30$ an ounce to a member of the esteemed Grey Company!

Marcel takes a closer look at the spices and starts smelling a few of them, he sets aside 3-4 of the most interesting and exotic tastes. “I love to cook.”, he states. “But I’m not sure that my company gets my cooking. Any of these have interesting properties beyond their fine tastes?”

The elf merchant nods and approves of the selection. Marcel takes a second look at the cloak. It does has a noble air to it: he puts is on and feel instantaneously dapper. “How much for this fine cloak?”

While the merchant gather the six rations, the four spices and the cloak, Marcel engages him in a conversation about the wilderness. He is now aware that the company is drawing more attention than they would like. Marcel is gauging the extent of the prior knowledge about the company that the merchant has, and whether a hint dropped here would have a good chance to propagate to whoever is after the company.

The Elf merchant is chatty, no doubt due to the lack of business because of the storm going on outside. The merchant says that he has been quite busy this spring. There have been lots of travelers and merchants coming through the area, mostly on their way between Threshold, Verge and Kelvin. He does share that there has been increased Scange activity. The Scange is a group of hillfolk that live in Wufwolde Hills between the rivers. They plague travelers on the road and river between here and Verge. Didn’t you say you came from across the river? On the trail from the Gnome’s Ferry? You are fortunate that you were not harried by them.”

“I think that we did. The wild is filled with crawly-things these days.”
Marcel keeps the conversation coming and while it goes, drops some subtle hints that the Company is pondering a major venture to the South once that the horse deal is through. People tend to assume that he is simple (because he is), so the slip ups are rather innocuous.

He then engages the merchant on Elmun of the Minrothad Guilds.

“Do you know that fella?”, he asks. “He looks to me a bit rushed in his dealings, have you had dealings with him?”

“He seems fine enough, for a Human trader. I feel that all Humans rush into their deals and trades, but that is just an Elf’s point of view,” the merchant says.

“But is he a reputable trader?”

“He has been here in town for some time,” the Elf merchant explains. “He mostly does business with his own trading guilds, though I have had some dealings with him. He has great resources at his disposal, it would seem. He seems to do business fairly, though it seems he likes to come on strong with a low offer in attempts to seal the deal without negotiations. Rushed, like you said. Like all you Humans do it.” He chuckles quietly, “No offense, I hope. You seem to be a shrewd business man. So what all do you wish to purchase?”

Marcel smiles: “I don’t always feel human. That ancient dragon’s blood, I guess.”

Marcel is very excited to get his first spice box and shoves an ounce of each into the box. He then stares at the saffron, puts it down. I’d like just a quarter ounce of that bad boy. 35 golds should cover this. He puts two more gold on the counter and grabs six elven rations.

“How much for this cloak?”

The merchant asks for 12 golds. Marcel pays without haggling as he is worried that elves don’t do this kind of thing. He puts it on, it fits rather well, although a bit narrow at the shoulders. He greets the merchant as well as he can with the few elven words that he knows and takes his leave.

Bearer of Bad News

Griffin continues to chat with Stubbs and Mazaulo, but eventually he has to admit to himself that he is just procrastinating. He sighs and stands, taking his leave of the ferryman and the innkeeper.

He makes his soggy way across the small village, dodging the rain as he can and asking directions occasionally in his best Elvish. He notes the location of Prestelle for later, and soon finds himself at the door of a small shop. To get out of the rain, he enters quickly. The room is small, with beautiful tapestries adorning the walls. From the rear, he hears a steady clack-clack sound. “Hello? I’m looking for Seldanna the Weaver?” he says loudly into the empty room.

The clacking sound stops and an Elvish woman steps into the room. “I am Seldanna.” She looks confused that a Human would be standing in her shop so early in the morning and dripping all over the place. “Who are you?” she asks a bit brusquely. “How may I help you,” she says, more politely, as if she had momentarily forgotten her manners.
Seldanna, Eran's mother

Griffin shifts uncomfortably. He stands with his head bowed - if he had a hat it would be twisted in his hands. Now that he’s here, he feels unsure, but he presses forward.

In his best Elvish, he says, “Ma’am, my name is Garrett Constantine, and I’m a friend of your son Eranthil.” He sees the start of joy in his friend’s mother’s eyes at news of her son, and rushes to get what he has to say out before the joy can fully blossom. “We took a job at a small settlement out in the Dymrak Forest…” He tells of his times with Eran in Penhaligion. He tells her briefly of Susikyn, and the Goblin attacks. He talks of Eran’s maturity and level-headedness, an anchor to his friends. And he tells how he died, struck down by a bolt in the night. “”I don't know your ways, so we brought him home, ma’am. I didn’t know what else to do.” He stops, having run out of things to say.

The Elvish woman looks at Griffin with wide, sad eyes. She does not say anything for some time then she forces a smile and thanks Griffin for being such a true friend. She makes arrangements to retrieve the body from the Grey Company’s camp as soon as possible. She invites Griffin to stay and have some tea. She talks little but asks Griffin to tell all of his stories of Eran. She smiles occasionally while Griffin shares his stories though water rings her eyes and tears chase down her cheeks from time to time.

“Ma’am, I can’t help but notice the beautiful tapestries and fabrics on your walls here. A friend of Eran’s and mine is getting married soon. Can you help me choose a good piece for a wedding present? It would be kind of like Eran will be there, too.” She smiles and rise, apparently somewhat relieved to move to a more familiar, less emotional role. She selects several pieces, large and small. She tries to give him these as gifts, but Griffin presses her to accept his payment, and soon he leaves. He walks out into the rain, feeling a great weight lift from his shoulders.

Despite the fact that the storm has quieted down, the rain still falls heavily. Griffin does his best to move from building to building, trying to stay beneath the eaves and stay out of the rain, but by the time he reaches the Silver Swan again, he is soaked to the bone. He takes the bundle of fabrics he purchased and stows them in the room that Remar and Draven had shared. He changes into his  good clothing. Good to look the part for these negotiations! He is very surprised to see Draven sleeping again. He knows his friend had been plagued by nightmares and many sleepless nights lately, so he lets the young priest sleep.

Griffin heads back down the stairs to find any of the other Company members so they can head over to Prestelle’s place and get this horse trading business taken care of. Back downstairs, he sees a soaking wet Remar, recently returned from the camp on the other side of the river. “I took care of Akaios and his minor wounds and set the Mystic Mist on the campsite,” the wizard tells Griffin. Ree and Iris are in the common room as well, eating a late breakfast and chatting with Stubbs the Hin innkeeper. Marcel enters the inn loudly, carrying a bundle of some sort of heavy wool, possibly a cloak wrapped around something else. “A surprise,” he says, “for later! You’ll see!” He hurries upstairs and returns a few minutes later with a fancy new Elven cloak draped across his shoulders. He keeps the pointy green hood on, even though he is inside. No one has seen Burik this morning, and Marcel says he wasn’t in the room still, like that sleepyhead, Draven. Ree and Iris decide they do not need to accompany the others to the horse trading event. “Just don’t get cheated,” Ree taunts. Marcel, Griffin and Remar will represent the Grey Company, it seems.

Horse Trading

Prestelle, head Elf of Rifllian
The rain still pours from the sky as the Grey Company representatives head out to Prestelle’s manor. When they arrive, the young Elf maid that had delivered the message the previous evening lets them in and shows them to a nearby sitting room. The room is nicely decorated, containing both Elvish and Human works of art and decorations.

A tall, mature looking Elf woman comes in. She smiles at the gathered companions. “Good morning, I am Prestelle. May I offer you some tea?”

Griffin, still standing, bows deeply. “Madame Prestelle, I am Griffin, of the Grey Company. These are Marcel and Remar. We are honored to meet you.” He smiles a little smile. “And some tea would be lovely, thank you.”

Marcel takes his cue from Griffin and bows, then takes his hood off, realizing that it should have been done in the opposite order. He hopes that Prestelle notice his finely crafted cloak. He peers at Remar nervously and hopes that Griff knows what he is doing.

Prestelle smiles awkwardly at the group as she pours a fragrant cup of steaming tea. She sits and begins discussing the weather and how rainy it has been for some time. “The rivers will be swollen, difficult to travel,” she comments. She inquires if they have found Rifllian to their liking and asks about the Grey Company, where they come from and where they are going next. She speaks nothing of the horses the Grey Company has come to sell.

Griffin returns the polite conversation, sharing his observations on the beauty of the village and its unique architecture. He tells briefly of his meeting with Seldanna and gives a very truncated version of the fate of her son, Eranthil.

Eventually, after some more conversation, Prestelle gets down to business. “I will give you 200 gold for each of your white horses.” She says no more and looks to the Grey Company for response.

There is a quiet hiss as Griffin sucks in a breath of air through his teeth. “Prestelle, that is a fine offer, but based on the reactions from folk we have encountered on our way here, respectfully, that is a bit low. Even with a decent markup, you could make your margin easily by paying us 275 gold per horse.”

Prestelle looks at Griffin with narrow eyes and folds her hands in front of her. “I see you have done your homework. You are right, 200 gold was just to test the waters, it was not my real offer,” she smiles and chuckles, though in a very demure and elegant way, as only an Elf Lady could. “I have not personally seen all of the beasts but I did check a few of them out last night in the corral. My people have given me a decent report. You have 19 white horses in your herd, is that correct? I will give you 5000 gold for all of them.” She puts her hands flat on the table in front of her, palms down.

Griffin’s eyes lose focus for a moment, as he does some mental calculations. Then he smiles, although inside he is positively grinning. “Prestelle, that is a very generous offer. I believe that we have a deal.” He also places his hands flat on the table, palms down.

The next few minutes are spent arranging for Prestelle to take possession of the horses and the handing over of a substantial sum of money. Griffin separates the coins into threes, and soon he, Marcel, and Remar are staggering back to the Silver Swan under the weight of three sacks of gold.

A Lunch Celebration

They burst into the inn. Griffin bellows, “Master Stubbs! I believe that I have worked up a powerful appetite closing the deal between the Grey Company and Mistress Prestelle! Can we get some lunch over here!”

The Hin innkeeper throws up his hands and lets out a cry, “Three cheers for the Grey Company!” He hurries back to the kitchens and begins barking orders to his staff. He then starts pouring mug after mug of ale, for everyone in the room. The rest of the Grey Company has finally managed to pull themselves out of bed to make an appearance. Taras and the three boys remain at the camp on the far side of the river. Draven nods a quiet approval while Burik’s face lights up at the sight of the three sacks. “Is that, um, those sacks… is that GOLD?” he asks incredulously. Two other Elves that had been eating in the inn look up, smiles on their faces when they are passed full mugs by Stubbs. Elmun Windrider, who had been sitting in what appears to be his favorite spot at the end of the bar, pushes his unfinished plate of food away, stands up and walks out into the heavy rain, a sour look on his face.

Marcel follows the man outside, a glass of wine in his hands. Elmun is standing under the protection of a small ledge beside the door.

"I don't mean to tell you how to do your business, sir.", he speaks. Elmun raises an eyebrow. "But you read it all wrong. There will be other horses, Susykin is a great place for breeding."

Elmun waits for Marcel to follow as his tone suggested. Marcel is sipping slowly. As Elmun opens to talk Marcel cuts him off:

"But never dare dealing with us with such disrespect."

Elmun is weighing Marcel as a threat, a sort of hot coal amber is burning in his eyes as he stares at him over the rim of the glass. The light around seems to fade, the sound of the rain grow distant. Elmun reaches for the hilt of his dagger, sensing danger.

"Just come to us as a friend. Cheers.", and Marcel turns slowly back to the door with his trademark sunny smile.

As Elmun walks away, Marcel can hear him muttering under his breath about ‘8000 gold’ and ‘disrespect’ but when Marcel looks back over his shoulder, the Minrothad merchant is gone.

Back inside the Silver Swan, the beginnings of a celebration lunch party are coming together. Stubbs and his staff are busy cooking, serving drinks and moving around the room with large smiles on their faces. “So, you be staying another night, I assume?” the Hin asks with jerk of his head toward the door and the heavy rain outside. “That rain isn’t letting up at all, is it?” Outside, a flash of lightning and crash of thunder punctuates the Hin’s point.

Griffin winces at the loud weather and then smiles at the innkeeper. “Absolutely, my dear Stubbs! We’ve traveled a long road to get to Rifflian. It’d be a downright shame to leave immediately!”

“Of course, will you be needing more lodgings? More private rooms? It would be a shame to have your companions sleeping in the bunk room or on the wet ground when there are nice feather beds available for them with a little privacy upstairs!” Stubbs tries to upsell the Company’s lodgings.

“Well, after waking up in this downpour, I know I for one will take you up on one of those feather beds!”

The two Elves that had been hanging out in the Silver Swan have no left and Stubbs puts a sign on the door that says ‘Closed for Private Party’ and gives the room over to the Grey Company.

Burik drools over the amount of gold that has been earned from the sale of the horses and gives himself a headache trying to figure out how much of it is his and what he can buy with it. Remar begins helping Griffin count it out and sort it into shares. Akaios and Bahaznic talk about the trip back to Susikyn and what they need to purchase in Kelvin before returning to the homestead. Iris sits quietly in the corner, avoiding everyone, including her new best friend, Ree. Stephan and Ree sit at a table looking at his map. He is pointing out places and explaining them to her. He is very focused on getting out of Rifllian and heading toward Threshold in pursuit of the prize that the map leads to, whatever that might be. Ree seems to have been bitten by the treasure-hunters bug as well.

“Following this map into the hills and mountains near Threshold will be difficult,” Stephan exclaims. “We might not be able to bring the horses, and definitely won’t be able to bring that wagon of yours,” he says. “We will need to purchase some climbing supplies and probably hire a guide in Threshold, or maybe Verge, but Verge is a pretty small village.”

“Verge is about 2-3 days ride from here,” Stephan says. “The road can get a little rough as we get into the hills, especially after the rain. The wagon is probably going to slow us down quite a bit. Verge to Threshold is going to be another 2-3 days, if we go that way. The map seems to show following the river directly into the mountains north of Verge, so I don’t know if Threshold is even a necessary stop. We will need supplies and climbing gear to make a trek like this into the mountains. Unless of course we can get that stuff here, but I doubt it. Verge and Threshold are both home to mining communities, they will have gear better suited for mountainous travel.” He goes back to his map, showing Ree some other far-away places.

Stubbs pauses as he walks by with a tray of food. "Heading north to Threshold? There is a regular supply boat that comes this way. I expected it yesterday, but I’m sure the rain has slowed it down a bit. Probably be here tomorrow. Only takes 2 days to get to Threshold on the river. Passage is cheap, five Royals each will get you all the way to Threshold, though they won’t have room for your mounts and definitely won’t have room for your wagon.”

Planning the Next Phase

Griffin groans inwardly. Of course the wagon can’t go up into the mountains. Now, where do we leave it? Here?

He turns to Stephan. “I don’t think the supply boat is going to work for us. No mounts? And heading into the mountains? We’ll need horses just for supplies.” Okay, so now in addition to registering the company and getting the magic stuff figured out, we need to get supplies for the mountains.

He sighs. Even in the midst of a celebration, I can’t seem to stop planning.  There’s always a next step, isn’t there?

Griffin takes a pull from his ale and ponders the afternoon. Ah, well,time to delegate. “Hey, Ree, Remar? When you get a chance, can you find a mage in town who could check out the magic stuff we’ve accumulated?”

The young mage and Half-Elf girl both jump at the chance at interacting with a local enchanter and they head upstairs to start gathering the equipment before heading out into the rain. They check with Stubbs first who instructs them to go see Othar Longbranch for identifying magical items. He does mention several other mages in town, such as the Alchemist Daravalla Moonfeather and the Human scribe Argentian, and a few other Elf wizards. “And of course, don’t forget to visit Mother Blossom, another Hin. She is a healer and soothsayer. She often has potions and poultices of a healing nature. She is a popular stop for adventurers.”

Making it Official

Griffin polishes off his substantial-by-Him-standards lunch and leans back. Okay, no rest for the wicked… “Marcel, Draven, I have to see Prestelle again. It’s time to make the Grey Company official.” He grins, “Tax purposes, you know. Care to join me?” Griffin dons his own new Elven cloak, pulls up the hood, and goes out to the team’s wagon. He retrieves the charter he drew up from the strongbox, then makes his way back to the Elven headwoman’s home.

The rain continues to beat down as he makes his way through the streets of Rifflian. He knocks on the familiar door, and the young Elvish lass who had approached the Company earlier in the inn opened the door. In his best Elvish, he asks “I was wondering if I might have a few more minutes of Mistress Prestelle's time? I know she's very busy. For what it's worth, this doesn't have anything to do with the horses." He pauses, his mission completed for the moment, to appreciate the girl before him. "By the way, my name is Griffin. If we're going to keep bumping into each other, might I ask yours?"

The Elf maid introduces herself as Meliandre and quickly excuses herself. Prestelle arrives a few moments later and greets the gathered members of the Grey Company. She is more than happy to help the Grey Company with its charter. She explains that the charter for a Free Company is 50 Royals annually and that it will get the Company past most entrance taxes, ferry fees and road taxes throughout the land. The stipulation of this is that the Company maintain a careful ledger and pay all their taxes in a timely fashion. A Free Company is required to pay 10% of all company earnings before paying out its members, who are still responsible for their own individual taxes. Many smaller communities will show hospitality to Free Companies in exchange for their temporary protection and assistance while in the area.

Prestelle looks over the charter that Griffin had drawn up, makes a few minor changes and suggestions and tells them to have it drawn up officially by a scribe. She recommends Argentian, a Human living in Rifllian. She also suggests purchasing a journal or ledger to keep track of Company business.

She also offers to take care of any of their personal seasonal taxes. Griffin shows her the numbers that he has come up with and she agrees. She can give everyone a document showing that they have paid their seasonal taxes upon payment.

Griffin winces as the fees and taxes hit home. He hears that they need to get the charter written up by a proper scribe, so he begs Prestelle’s patience and, with Marcel, sets off to find the scribe Argentian. He mutters to Marcel, “Those taxes are going to just about wipe me out. Let’s hope this expedition continues to bear golden fruit!”

As Griffin and the others leave Prestelle’s manor and head toward the scribe’s  shop, the rain diminishes and then just about stops. Only a few random drops of rain fall from the partially clearing afternoon sky. Argentian, the Human scribe, resides just a few houses away from Prestelle, right on the edge of town proper. Along the way, they pass what must Othar the Enchanter’s establishment. The companions catch sight of Ree and Remar engaged with a tall, stately looking Elf.

Hoping to get business completed with the scribe as quickly as possible, they continue on until they reach a small cottage. A wooden plank with a scroll and a wand painted on it hangs beside the door. The door and windows are all closed and locked, though a wisp of smoke can be seen dancing out of the chimney.

Griffin knocks on the cottage door, politely. “Master Argentian? A moment of your time, sir, to speak of a piece of work for you?” He listens at the door.

A voice calls back in Traladaran, “Who goes there? State your business? What work do you have for me?”

Griffin clears his throat, and answers back in the same tongue, “I’ve a need for a properly done-up charter for a Free Company. Prestelle recommended you.”

“But who are you? I asked that first,” the voice calls from inside.

“My name is Griffin Constantine, of the Grey Company.”

The voice from behind the door continues, “And no one else has sent you for me? Just Prestelle?”

“No, just Prestelle. We did some business this morning, and when I asked her about chartering the motley crew we’ve become into a proper Free Company, she told me I needed a proper charter drawn up, and sent me here. I had not heard your name from any other before or since.”

A short pause, then “Go away, liar. No business today.” A heavy thud can be heard, like that of a beam being dropped to bar the door and the rattle of metal.

Griffin sighs, “Come, Marcel, the gods have decreed that we will not become a Free Company today.” He pats Marcel on the shoulder as they slog back to the inn.

“I wonder if they have a decent scribe in Verge…”

When the fearsome duo returns to the Silver Swan, Griffin perks up a bit. “Master Stubbs, would this fine village happen to have someone skilled with a tattoo needle? I’m feeling a need to commemorate the end of our first job!”

Map of the area

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Marcel Maasa homely but sincere wielder of spears aspiring to cooking greatness commanded by +Christian Blouin 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

and +Jason Woollard as The DM

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