on Oct 5, 2005
They are north of Crossway, standing on the wooded hills looking down on the city. They can see the city is guarded by a massive wall to the south, but on this side they can easily slip in.
They watch the movement below as they discuss how to enter unseen. They know this city is controlled by the Alidians. They want to avoid the attention of the soldiers. Last time they met Alidian soldiers was in the wild. The soldiers demanded to see the party’s travel papers (which they didn’t have) and then assumed they were mercenaries. A battle ensued. Although they won that battle, the odds would surely be against them here in town with hundreds of soldiers about.
They know they must not attract attention. With their backpacks, they will stick out quite a bit in the crowd. Their armor and weapons will make them even more conspicuous.
Eomer plans to go into town to test things out. He wants to wait until dark and hide in the shadows, but the others think they have a better chance if they just hide in the crowd during the day. They debate for a while on the merits of each plan. Finally they decide to separate and slip in among the crowd, since traveling in a group would certainly attract attention. Eomer points out a large tower on the south side of the city. They agree to meet in front of the tower if all goes well.
Enoch and Thordek enter together. They develop a cover story where Enoch is a traveling healer and Thordek is his bodyguard. Eomer and Beck will also enter together. The other two will follow seperately.
This city is a hub of activity. The north side of the city is the housing district. Narrow, winding streets snake between the rows of small homes. On the southern side of the city is the shopping bazaar. It is a large circle of shops situated near the tavern. There is a large stone keep overlooking the shopping district. The south side of the city is guarded by a massive wall with a single wide gate, which stands open during the day. A score of Alidian soldiers stands watch at the southern gate.
They melt into the crowd easily as they slip into town one at a time. Nobody gives them any trouble.
Eomer and Beck work their way through the masses, which, as they get closer to the square, seem to be pushing away from the market toward the outlying houses . The market is beginning to empty as the people start heading towards home. Eomer finds that the keep where they are all heading to is covered with Ailidian soldiers. This is their base of power in the city, and the party has agreed to make it their meeting point! He waits for the rest outside the market rather than head to the keep.
Thordek and Enoch walk into town together. It is late afternoon, and by now many businesses are closing. The crowd is moving against them as it is moving towards the houses to the north and away from the businesses to the south. They see the keep as they walk through the square. The people here are mostly closing up shop. They make their way to the keep which is crawling with soldiers. They decide to head over to the church nearby. Enoch does his cleric thing, praying to Pelor.
Eomer spots them as they enter the church and decides this is the new meeting point. As the other members of the party approach, he silently indicates they should head there.
Eomer and Beck watch the soldiers at the gate as they wait for the rest. One group of soldiers marches out from the gate and relieves the group there. They note six scattered soldiers different from the rest, not being relieved from duty, wearing plain heavy armor. These soldiers do not move. Their helmets are solid metal, with no holes for eyes. The fronts of the helmets are stamped with the now-familiar symbol of the Alidian army:
The other soldiers seem very well organized as well. They travel in groups of 7. They do not spend time chatting or sitting around. They walk the streets alert and ready for action. People seem to give the soldiers a lot of room.
Once the rest of the party has assembled in the church, Eomer and Beck join them. They share their observations about the city and discuss their next move. Skeeve notes that one of the guards in any group always has a magical aura around him.
Thordek and Enoch will continue traveling together, sticking with the cover story they developed. Beck suddenly announces that he also has a cover story:
“I’m the new drunk in town. And I’m going to get started on my cover story right now.” He then marches over to the tavern and does exactly that.
Skeeve takes a room. The rest of them secure rooms at the inn. As evening draws in, they get meals and Thu’fir goes to the tavern to keep an eye on Beck. He seems to be a quiet drunk and doesn’t cause any trouble.
In character, they SHOULDN’T think of this guy as “an NPC”, but they do and it shows. When Endo was their party’s NPC “friend” they treated him like any other member of the party. With Beck, I’m sure they would feed him to a dragon to aid their own escape, and never think of him again. I’m not sure where I went wrong with this guy, but he’s not working.
He was going to have a much stronger personality, but their indifference to him led me to tone him down. Now he’s a drunk, sad over the loss of his former crew-mates. We’ll see what I can come up with as a way to fix this.
They all have the first nice bed they have had in a long time. Thu’fir wanders to the tavern and listens carefully, hearing nothing of interest.
Enoch spends the evening working on translating his book. He manages to translate the next section.
Here the story of Thul Marblade continues. Several aspects of this tale are plainly ridiculous, while others simply stretch the imagination. It is, however, a fascinating piece of folklore.
– Chronicler Norvus
Dwarven King Thul Marblade returned from Mt. Fiore and came again to Ellas Morad, leader of the mountain Elves. This time asked for leave to dig deep into the mountain and bring forth its treasure. He promised to pay half of all that was mined in tribute.
But Morad forbade him saying, “Not if you were to surrender every gem brought fourth to the light would I give you permission to do this, for we Elves care not for gold or silver or for gems, but love only our homeland. Our desire is not for wealth, but to live in a land unspoiled.”
Marblade became enraged, saying, “We offer to do all of the work, and in return you will receive half of the profit. Never has a Dwarf made such a generous offer! You find yourself atop a mountain of gold, and your only thought is to use it as a garden, and will not let the Dwarves even peer inside of it! It is unjust that the greatest of all mountains should be in the hands of Elves, and not the Dwarves. If we had the greatest of all woods in the world, surely we would share it with the Elves, who love such things best. Therefore give us now leave to mine the mountain.”
Morad was unmoved, and did not see his peril. For he replied, “Nay! You wish to barter with me a forest you do not own and have not seen, against my home and the home of all my people? No! Cursed are you that look on such a fair place and can think only of tearing it open to find what is underneath. Depart from this land, and come never again to the gentle slopes of Mt. Fiore!”
The Dwarf King’s rage was now fully kindled, and he answered, “You bid me, King of all the Dwarves, to depart from the king of all the mountains? I will leave indeed, when I have all the treasure hidden within. But you shall depart now!” And with that word he slew Morad and all his men, for the Dwarves were strong and sturdy in battle and the gentle Elves could make no contest against them.
Then the Dwarves roamed throughout the land, and killed every Elf they could find. They hunted them like animals, killing even the youngest, until not a single Elf drew breath in the land of Mar Tesoro. Their bodies were thrown down the southern slope into the great chasm, which is now called Bohrung Khel Toten, or “The Chasm of the Dead”, in the common tongue. And so were the fair mountain elves of Mar Tesoro forever wiped from the face of the Earth.
Then Thul Marblade took for himself the mountain, and they renamed it Khelberg, and they set to mine deep into the mountain and take its treasures.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.