Turn 24 -- Milbourne and Beyond

15th day of Chess. Late Afternoon. Milbourne

"Excellent craftsmanship indeed!" remarks Dain enthusiastically to Nafton as he raises his mug in a toast as well. "I think it a fine tribute to our fallen comrade. Although, I have to admit, it is a bit unsettling to eat in front of. Do you do any other work? Perhaps I would be interested in employing your talents in the future..."

Nafton beams at the offer from Dain, "Why yes, of course, I'd be honored to any time. Just call me the official Taxidermist of the Red Feather Company!"

"Hmmph! That's a fahn way for ta likes of him to finish his existence," Druckner nods towards Garundzer's stuffed head. "Ma compliments ta ye, Nafton."

Seeing the head of his former opponent, Ortho strides over to stand beside Dain and gaze up into the visage of Garundzer. As Ortho gazes into the now lifeless face and sightless eyes he recalls vividly when he met the orog in single combat. "That was somethin'. Tradin' blows, chargin' past each other. And then that final overhead throw..." Ortho smiles as he remembers the satisfaction of placing that final throw in the center of the orog's chest to fell it. Then the dwarf remembers something else and a tear runs down his cheek into his beard as the image of the orog's spear thrust through Randor comes to mind. Unslinging his axe and shield, the proud dwarf raises both above his head and shakes them at the bestial head. "FOR RANDOR!!!" shouts Ortho in a stentorian voice. "RANDOR!! RANDOR!!"

Ortho Pestkiller, of clan Pestkiller of Ironrock, lowers his arms as his last cry falls silent. Turning, the teary-eyed dwarf gazes in defiance around the now-still room. Cherishing the brief moment of silence, of reverence, Ortho's glare tells all that only he may break the silence. "Round o' drinks on me!" shouts the dwarf. "And on Randor," he whispers as the patrons clamor toward the bar.

Moving over toward Ras and avoiding the rush toward the bar, Ortho gives the halfling a wan smile. "My friend, will you kindly account properly against my share of the goods for the bar tab I have now acquired?"

Ras smiles heartily to Ortho as he nods his head before moving toward the bar for another drink himself.

"Nafton," continues Ortho as he grabs the taxidermist and stableman before he can reach the bar, "it is a proud honor ye have bestowed upon us and upon Randor. Know ye that we are in yer debt."

Nafton nods solemnly and bows his head somewhat in honor of the praise rendered him by Ortho. Smiling somewhat he backs away toward the bar and the free ale offered by the dwarf. As the other patrons move away toward the bar, the members of the Red Feather Company settle down to enjoy their drinks and a fine, home-cooked meal.

With mouths quickly being filled with food and drink, the Companions say little as the meal progresses. After having seen to the now-sleeping Lady Laera, Beleg went to his room to say his prayers to Forseti and change his clothes before coming down to dinner. As a few of the companions are finishing up or enjoying their second or third helpings, the stout Paladin takes a seat at the table. Having taken off his heavy plate mail, Beleg now sits at the table proudly wearing his family crest, a harp and longbow, on a white tunic with black breeches and low, black boots. With his regal appearance, the warrior looks more suited to a formal occasion at the court of King Azoun IV of Cormyr than the common room of the Baron of Mutton Inn.

Smiling at those around him as he takes a mug of ale, he doesn't wear the haughty expression that seems so natural to other Lords. Taking a plate from one of the new waitresses working in the Inn, he smiles and begins to eat with his companions.

With the sporadic conversation and the ale, wine and dwarven spirits flowing freely around him, Garth frowns slightly as he sips from his mug of warmed cider. Looking up at the stuffed head of the orog and thinking of the passing of Randor and Kre, his mood begins to become even more somber. Thinking of those fallen already and the dangers ahead, he begins to doubt the chances of success at finding the missing girl, Jelenneth, as well as any of them surviving to the end. Will we ever be strong enough? How can we few survive 'gainst so many and at such odds!

Thinking such dire thoughts, Garth looks around at the mugs of ale on the table before him and thinks back to another time when he didn't have such cares. A time before he had entered the service of Selune. A time when all his cares and concerns vanished at the bottom of a strong tankard of dwarven ale. Perhaps a few drinks t'would be ok? Just one night to wash away me troubles? Garth shakes his head to clear away those thoughts as he instead takes another drink of his cider. Things were so much easier back then, he muses.

Knowing that he is following a dangerous line of reasoning and angered at his moment of self-doubt, he decides to open a discussion with his companions and turns to address them, "I'm thinking we should prepare a list of what we need, price it and prioritize it. If there are monies left over, we should see about buying some spare armors. Mine is about to fall off and I dinna see any smithies down below."

"I'm thinking that each of us fighters and priests could use a good set of plate mail, if'n there's money." Garth punctuates this by fingerins his banded mail and poking a stubby finger through a hole that has had the roughest points hammered so that he won't cut himself.

"And I'm guessing we'll be needing to stock up on the more exotic spell components, too."

Gnore nods at the words of Garth, "This armor is near brand new and already it needs fixin'. This is all I will need for now." The stoic dwarf then turns as he looks at the many new faces that populate the Inn.

"Ah'll be off ta Shadadale, wit' whoever wants ta go. Ah'll get me armer fix'd 'n Ah met this lass last time Ah was there, maybe she's still in town," Druckner says with a wide grin. "Maybe ta Harpers might want ta know we're still alive, too. Ah'll seek 'em out as well."

"Hmmph," Garth says, "We should all just go and get it over with. If any needs armor properly repaired or made, the smithy'll need to size them."

Talimar shakes his head, "Not all of us need armor. But you do raise a point, how many wish to journey to Shadowdale?"

"Ah'm fer Shadowdale, or wherever I might need to go to repair me armor. Ras, I will need sufficient funds to perform the task. And, perhaps we might find in Shadowdale a market for some of the goods we acquired," says Ortho matter-of-factly.

"I too must go to Shadowdale," offers Beleg. "My armor is in a sorry state and I must find a new helm."

With the discussion of Shadowdale open, Dain adds, "I am all for going myself. Besides, it is doubtful that I could obtain all the mystical components that I will need for the journey ahead here in Milbourne. Perhaps we should consider cashing in all our coin for expensive gems and jewelry, as well. After all, the space in the Desireable Residence is only so large. Healing potions and other curatives might also be a wise choice. In addition we may want to begin digging a small dungeon of our own somewhere to keep anything that we can't cash in or carry."

Gnore grunts with a thoughtful frown and once again takes a look at the condition of his armor as well. "I'd like to get this piece o' metal fixed but Ah think Ah'll stay here and chat with the new, em, locals. Just to see what they be about." Gnore grins as he stabs a thumb towards the lot of aspiring adventurers.

Kersath hesitates to respond as he thinks about the options before him. On one hand, he wishes to go to Shadowdale. It has been a long time since he visited there and he was always attracted to what the place had to offer, the Harpers for example. On the other hand, he feels some sort of obligation to the townspeople, especially with all the newcomers to the area since it started to attract attention. Town between his sense of duty and his sense of adventure, unable to decide for himself, he turns to Talimar and says, "I'll go where I'm needed most. If you feel I should stay here I'll stay, but if you think I should go to Shadowdale, I'll go there too."

Talimar frowns and sighs heavily after hearing the words of the Ranger. He had come to expect the whimsical nature from the humans and even the dwarves of the group, but he thought the dark elves were more disciplined than Kersath was showing. Perhaps his youth with the Svirfneblin had changed that somehow. "I don't think it really matters. Basically over the next couple of weeks a group needs to go to Shadowdale and get armor repaired or purchase new armor, as well as anything else needed. The rest can stay here, get supplies organized and prepare for our next foray underground."

Looking around at the adventurers in the Inn, the elf continues, "Maybe we should also do some recruiting, with Randor gone another cleric would be a valuable addition to the party, and more fighters or mages would certainly be welcome. We could have used them against the Trolls. What say you all?"

Gnore grunts at the elf's suggestion of more adventurers, "That might be a good idea but I don't think the gnomes will take kindly to new faces. Besides, we've all been together long enough to know how each other thinks in any situation. Maybe 'cept Snagger, but he's kin and that makes him dependable." Gnore winks to the youth with a smile. "If it's healin' yer worried about, why don't we buy a bunch of potions and be done with it. But if we are recruiting, the group that stays here will need to chat with the new faces. I will gladly volunteer." Gnore snickers with a dark sneer.

Talimar frowns yet again and manages to sigh even heavier than previously. I gave up the beautiful elven forests for suggestions such as this, he thinks to himself after hearing this suggestion for the second time this eve. "Yes, well we should just hop on down to Milbourne's local magical shop and purchase those potions. Last time I checked I don't believe this town, Thurmaster or Shadowdale had such a shop. I suppose if we wished to wait for an extended trip to Waterdeep that would be possible. I'm sure the people of Milbourne would appreciate us taking that vacation with the evil lurking beneath their mountains." Talimar ends his little speech with a slight smile for Gnore, sure that the sarcasm in his voice was not lost on the dwarf.

For his part, the color in the face of Gnore darkens considerably as Talimar speaks. For that matter, it does with Druckner, Snagger and Ortho as well. Just as Gnore is about to rise from the table, bastard sword in hand, Garth reaches out to still his kin. "Friend Talimar," he begins, his voice calm and hopefully soothing, "Ah'm sure that kin Gnore is well aware of the difficulties in acquiring such potions. His point about taking on new hands is valid however and Ah'm sure that was just his way of bringing discussion on that topic. No need fer ye ta us that tone."

"Hmmph!" grumbles Gnore as he sits back in his chair once again.

"Hear, hear, kin Garth," mutters Druckner as he tries to control his anger. Ortho merely frowns at Talimar as he sternly gazes at their leader.

"Forgive my rudeness, friend Gnore," begins Talimar with a smile to his lips. "I would be honored to have you assist us in the interviewing of prospective new members. And now, have another ale as an apology for my hasty words."

"Ah! Right, now yer talkin', elf!" says Gnore grudgingly as he calls for another ale from the bartender Barthelew. The others calm down somewhat as they continue to watch the elf, still angered at his treatment of their kin.

"So we're decided then? Gnore, Druckner, Ortho, Dain and Beleg at least will return to Shadowdale to be fitted for new armor or have their existing armor repaired. Any other items will also be purchased by them while in town. The rest of us shall remain here and see to the good folk of Milbourne and the surrounding countryside as well as seeking out prospective companions to join our illustrious company. That correct?"

Seeing the others nod in agreement, Talimar considers the topic closed for discussion. Garth however, has other thoughts as he clears his throat to get the other's attention. "Ahem," the stocky priest begins. "I been thinkin' on our next trip ta visit the deep gnomes, we should bring some gifts with us. I was noticing that they haven't any chickens or ducks down there. Ah'm guessing a passle of them would do a lot fer their diet. Also, they hadn't much wood that ah could see. For their defenses, a crate of crossbow quarrels would probably be greatly appreciated. An' wooden cooking utensils fer the lady folk."

Looking thoughtful, Talimar replies without any hint of his earlier sarcasm, "I am not a farmer, but would chickens or ducks survive in the underdark? Also, they make a lot of noise which would echo down those tunnels." The elf shrugs, "But then again it wouldn't hurt to try. The worst is we will be eating chicken for the first few days."

"I disagree," begins Kersath quietly. "The worst that can happen is we draw another band of Trolls or worse to the camp of the Gnomes and they are eaten instead. Although a good idea, the wee folk have adapted themselves to a diet that doesn't consist of the amount of meat that others eat. There is plenty down there for them to eat. The other utensils and such would be greatly appreciated however and I agree would be a good idea."

"Done then. We will purchase some useful utensils to carry to the gnomes in appreciation for their aid," answers Talimar.

Scratching his head, Garth continues, "One thing about our journey's been gnawing at my mind. Why are we dealing with our donkey's down below? After seeing the lovely item Dain has, why couldn't we put supplies in there instead?" Garth buries his fingers into a partially eaten chicken and pulls off a wing to chew while he waits for the others to respond.

Once again, Talimar is the first to speak up, "I agree that we should use Dain's hut to store bulk items, such as the treasure before we convert it to something easier to carry, but we will still need to carry full packs. What happens if Dain and our supplies are carried off in the middle of a fight? Or if the magic is somehow drained. I should hate to be stuck down there starving with an inanimate statuette!"

Ortho nods his head slowly at the words of Talimar, "I agree with Tal here," he says with a deep frown. "Ah don' think Dain's 'hut' would hold all the stuff Ah 'ave on me, Hazel an' Noah. An' even if it could, Ah don' think Ah'd want all me eggs in Dain's basket. Tha' seems ta make us too dependant on the mage's continued presence an' good healthy," says Ortho.

Dain smiles at his dwarven companion and nods his head, "Thank you for your concern, my friend. I'm afraid I must agree though. Not only does it not make sense to place that much importance on my safety but I can only access the residence twice per tenday. That doesn't make it readily available for storing and retrieving items."

Having had his idea shot down by the Companions, Garth simply shrugs and continues to gnaw on the chicken leg.

"I think we've discussed it enough for tonight," begins Talimar. "Everyone should develop a list of what's needed or needs to be replaced and given to Beleg. He and the others will ride to Shadowdale when ready to get new armor or have damaged armor repaired and see to the other items. The rest of us will remain here and see..."

Talimar is interrupted by a rather slim, dark-haired man in his early thirties to walks over to the table. The man has a face that appears to almost always be wearing a serious expression but his dark brown eyes reveal the softer, lighter side that the rest of his face conceals. Thin to the point of narrowness and pale, he is clean-shaven and wears simple, brown robes. He carries a rather stout quarterstaff in his right hand that on first appearance even appears to be quite exceptional. Made of oak, apparently, it is bound with iron set with silver rivets. He also has a belt with several pouches on it filled with what appears to be none other than spell components.

"Excuse me, I couldn't help but overhearing your conversation. I was wondering if I might have a few words with you? You are the illustrious Company of the Red Feather, correct?"

The man smiles to Talimar and the others as he pulls up a nearby chair and begins to take a seat at your table.

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