Kersath's gaze follows the mage as he walks away, a bit surprised at the mage's mannerisms. "Well, what do you know. We seem to be starting to attract attention from people a bit higher in the chain of command. Judging by the way he introduced himself, he's a noble. Makes you wonder what a noble, who is both a mage and a stranger to this place, would travel all this way for, doesn't it?"
Snagger looks unspeakingly at where the mage just exited. Turning back to his mug he remarks, "Bah, mages." Dain takes a deep drought from his mug, savoring the honeyied sweetness of the aromatic mead and ignoring the comments of Snagger, his eyes staring past the scene before him. A sparkle returns to his eye as the reality of the situation reaches him.
"He reminds me of my mentor, Talimar. Only he possesses too much pride, I think, but such can be expected, I suppose. His offer may prove fruitful and may prove more costly than his reward, as well, but we'll never know until we investigate the matter."
Dain once again slips halfway into his dreamlike state while muttering, "Mage of the Third Order, utter rubbish...Just who does he think he's dealing with...Probably never carried water or copied books for hours on end either..."
Gnore huffs as his eyes remain locked on the stairs the mage climbed upon leaving. The glare he held has not softened in the slightest since the mage departed.
"Those o' us bound fer Shadowdale 'ave not time fer this. Besides, the gnomes await our return." Gnore huffs once more and drains his tankard dry. Placing the mug before him, he scratches his chin in frowning thought. "Still, I s'pose it wuldn't hurt if the elf and Dain talk ta the mage."
"Aye, ya speak good dwarf sense, kin Gnore," responds Druckner. "Ah'll be damned if Ah'll run up them stairs after that uppity wizardling."
Turning to address Dain and Talimar, he adds, "An' don't ferget, if he's trouble, ya can call on yer mates, good dwarven steel will bring even ta most stabbern magelings down ta size."
"Innkeeper! More ale fer me an' me friends, do ya want us ta die of thirst, by Moraddin's hairy toes!"
Garth sighs at the words and actions of his companions around him, "I believe we have a commitment to our current rescue attempt, however, we should at least hear him out. Perhaps his needs lie along a similar vein as ours or he would be willing to wait for our return?"
Shaken from his silent reverie, Dain begins with a deep frown etched upon his face, "I don't think it would be in our best interests if I were to be involved. The clash in personality is too great and I fear we would be at each other's throats before we were done."
Gnore's eyebrows arch upwards at Dain's words, "Eh? Now I'd pay t' see that!" Gnore jokes with a big smile. "What say you kin and Company? Ten gold wagers Dain drops the rude one in ten moments," Gnore roars with laughter at his own jest. The other dwarves, excepting Garth of course, appear to be the only ones who thoroughly enjoy Gnore's jest as they raise their tankards, drink to his health and order another round, all the while discussing the merits of the mage and the fantastical battle between sorcerers.
Beleg sits quietly as his companions comment about the behavior of teh now departed mage, occasionally nodding in agreement. As the conversation wanes, he adds his words, "I too am bound for Shadowdale and I agree with Gnore that the gnomes await our return, so there is little time to waste. Yet, as Garth says, the mage's goals and ours may not be mutually exclusive. Despire the superior attitude and ungracious behavior of this mage, it might be best if we did inquire as to his reason for searching us out. This mage's manner is not unlike that of Count Parlfray, not that a royal title or position excuse poor manners, and we were able to make an accommodation with him." He turns to Talimar and adds, "Since Dain is not interested, I would be pleased to accompany you Talimar, shall we?" Beleg then stands and awaits Talimar's decision.
Talimar shrugs, "We may as well see what he is after. He may be able to offer some help or information for our quest." The elf stands and gestures for Beleg to lead the way. The stout warrior starts toward the stairs, then stops. Flagging down one of the waitresses, he asks, "Can you tell me which room Rannigan Elderspire is in?"
The young waitress, a pretty young girl named Danielle blushes as she speaks to the Paladin before answering. "Yes, M'lord, his is the third room on your right at the top of the stairs." She curtsies awkwardly but deeply before blushing once again and hurrying away. Noticing the blush of the pretty maid, Beleg gives Talimar a sheepish grin before turning to move up the stairway. The elf quietly follows after his rather large companion.
As the self-appointed spokesmen of the company speak with the curious mage, the revelry downstairs continues unbridled. Ras finishes up his log book and leans back in his chair. He laughs aloud at the jests of the company despite the tension in the air, "The underground has got to me also, it is good to laugh again, carefree and all you know. Bartender, Ale and hot stew please." He then turns to Dain and Gnore, "Let me take a shot at this." He pulls out his die and rolls, "Yep, Gnore you are right, I have Dain in 5 also." He laughs only to be stopped as his food and drink arrive.
Seeing that Gnore is not placated by the words of Ras or any of the others, Ortho tries to alter his mood, "Eh, Gnore, the mage 'asn't shown any disrespect. Yet. Smoothe yer hackles an' come with me to the bar. We might as well enjoy my tab. An' besides, this is part o' Tal's job. Leave it ta 'im." Forcibly grabbing both Gnore and Snagger with each arm, Ortho drags his hot-blooded kinsmen toward the bar and a welcome tankard of meade. The other bar patrons respectfully move aside for the trio of dwarves. Gnore begrudgingly follows Ortho knowing that once his kin has set his mind, it is useless to resist. Glancing back, Gnore glares at the path the stranger took upstairs and Beleg and Talimar followed.
Druckner laughs good-heartedly at Ortho and Gnore's antics but stays at the table with the others. Next to him, Garth sighs heavily at the general testiness of the company before mumbling, "I think we need some R&R and soon." Having actually had enough of the festivities for one evening, Garth quietly excuses himself from the others and heads out of the tavern. Intent on checking in on his mule, Bucky, he moves toward the stables with his mind on the thief, Marlay, as well. Deciding that he will go to see her and pray for her this evening, he also makes plans to leave money for her to buy new clothes. "Perhaps if she is made to feel more human," he thinks, "she may find her way back to us." Encouraged by the thoughts of helping the mad woman once again, Garth manages to put the dire thoughts of earlier in the evening behind him and move forward this evening.
Back in the Baron of Mutton however, Gnore, Ortho, Druckner, Dain, Snagger and Ras manage to eat and drink themself into a rather good stupor. Kersath simply sits quietly in a darkened corner of the room as he watches over the others and keeps an eye out on anyone paying too much attention to them in the bar. He also has his mind and one eye on the stairs for the return of Talimar and Beleg.
Upon arriving at the mage's room, Beleg gives the door a solid knock and waits for a response. His wait is short as the door slowly opens before him, the image of Rannigan Elderspire's head coming into view around the edge of the door, his body quickly stepping around as he sees the companions. A broad smile appears on his face then.
"Greetings! Beleg Cuthalion and Talimar Silverblade. Welcome. Come in, gentlemen." The smiling mage turns to allow the two to enter the room as he moves across to a pitcher of wine on the table near the bed. "Would you care for some wine? It is an excellent vintage. I was rather surprised that Barthelew actually had it. It took some measure of persuasion and coinage, I might add, to convince him to let me have it. Have a seat please, gentlemen. Sorry for the inconvenience." Rannigan points to a couple of chairs on the other side of the room as he pours the wine into a trio of goblets before handling each of the companions one. Seeing their hesitation, he takes a quick drink of his wine, savoring the flavor before smiling to them.
"And what do I owe the honor of this visit?" he finally asks.
Talimar politely raises the goblet to his lips before replying quietly, "You wished to ask a favor of us. We are here to listen to what you ask." A slight smile passes over the elf's lips, "Plus this conversation may go easier without the dwarves present."
Beleg takes the proffered seat and takes a deep drink of the wine. The large Paladin says nothing as Talimar speaks. He simply sits politely, enjoys the wine, and waits for the mage to reveal his purpose.
Rannigan sighs heavily, "I was afraid you would be all business...but I suppose it is for the best, time is of the essence you know." Reaching into his robes, Rannigan assures both Talimar and Beleg, "I'm merely getting a note, no weapon...Besides, who would be foolish enough to draw steel in the presence of warriors of your skills?" With a chuckle, he draws an old, worn note which appears to have been examined several hundred times as the parchment is cracked and the ink faded.
Clearing his throat, Rannigan explains, "This note was given to me by my late," his voice cracking slightly, "master, Trystan Gaelandsen, Wizard of the Eighth Order." He proceeds to read the note aloud:
It seems that there is more afoot than just a runaway apprentice. I have been speaking with my colleagues, and they all concur. It appears that someone has been kidnapping our pupils. I am glad you were not among those missing. The latest kidnapping was an apprentice named Jelenneth, an apprentice of a mage named Tauster. I fear that some evil is coming to pass and the mages are just the beginning of it. I have taught you all that you need to know, now you must go and find out what is happening to the apprentices.
Your master and friend,
Wizard of the Eighth Order"
Refolding the note, Rannigan sighs wistfully as he replaces it among his robes, "I spoke with Tauster and he confirmed my master's story, and he told me to seek out the Red Feather Company. As I said before, I do apologize for acting so rudely earlier, it is usually not in my nature to act in such a manner, but I had to do something to pique your interest."
Rannigan takes a deep drink from his glass, "Now, for my request...which incidently, coincides with your interests as well. I wish to ask your aid in solving this mystery. If what my late master suspected is true, then we have much to fear from whomever kidnapped the apprentices. As payment, I offer..."
Clearing his throat and looking rather sheepish, Rannigan finishes in a light whisper, "...my services. I am a skilled mage, and can aid you in your quest, if you'll have me. I fear that if you would not, then I must seek the kidnappers myself."
With a face solid as stone, Rannigan stands, "I ask that you at least consider my offer, and talk amongst your companions. I will remain here awaiting your decision."
Talimar watches the mage silently for a long moment before replying, "While help in our quest would be appreciated, we must be cautious. I will bring your offer to the company." Talimar then stands and walks out of the room with Beleg silently following behind.
Neither of the companions speak of the meeting with Rannigan as they exit the room and make their way downstairs. Waiting for the rest of the Companions to relate the meeting to, they quietly head below. Making their way into the crowded common room, the two Companions quickly notice the change in their friends. Having only been gone a few minutes, the others have made the most of their time in reaching new heights of revelry. All the dwarves excepting Garth are gathered around the bar sitting on stools as they heartily sing a rather raucus and bawdy dwarven ballad. Most of the bar is actively participating in the singing of the tune despite the lack of musical talent from the ringleaders. Many perhaps join in with the hopes of drowning out the dwarves.
Reaching the table of Dain, Kersath and Ras, the two take a seat and motion for Ortho to join them when available. The dwarven priest does his best to ignore the motioning and looks from Talimar but as Beleg finally stands and motions them over, he knows that for the moment, their time is up. Finishing the ballad, he jumps from his stool and motions the others forward. A thunderous round of applause follows the dwarves as they make their way from the bar.
"We shall return, 'ave nah fear o' that," he offers to the patrons in the bar. Taking their seats the table, Ras informs Talimar that Garth had had enough for the evening and said his farewells.
"Sometimes Ah wonder 'bout him being true kin," mumbles Snagger about Garth's departure.
Gnore frowns somewhat at the words of his companion, "That kin's been through plenty. Don't doubt him bein' kin any, friend. He just don' like the drink any more is all."
"Well we can inform him later and get his opinion then if needed," begins Talimar over the others. Not wasting any time, he quickly tells the tale of his and Beleg's encounter with the mage, Rannigan.
Upon completion, Talimar looks at each of his companions in turn, disappointingly noting the blurry-eyed looks given by a few of the dwarves before him.
"Well, what say you?"