Just before midnight, after the friends had dispersed after the Harrowing, the evening’s peace was shattered by a wooden screech, followed by the thunder of a trebuchet being fired. Again and again the sounds echoed from the Wall of Eodred near North Bridge, waking nearly all of North Point. Across the river in Trail’s End, torches lit and people came out just in time to see a sleek brig burn and swiftly sink into the wine-dark waters. The rest of the night passed in breathless anticipation of the wallweapons’ further use, which fortuitously never came. Next morning, gossip buzzed through the city and fanciful tales ran wild. Every tavern and street corner was abuzz with rumors of pirate raiders and ghost ships. The Crimson Throne remained quiet on the matter, though…
The next day the stories ran wild, but before long the rumors died down, and life returned to normal. Perhaps were it not for it being the night of the Harrowing, the heroes would not have noticed anything. A sinister-looking ship refused inspection as it sailed into the river. When it neared North Bridge and still failed to make its intentions known, the watch fired upon and destroyed it. None of the guardsmen who signaled or shouted out to the ship received a response. Some say that no one was on board at all.
While he’d grown strong again under Vencarlo’s tutelage, he seemed back to his broken self. He started without invitation, and quickly, Grym learned the source of his angst.
Grau began, “My niece is sick. I don’t know what she has and neither does anyone in Trail’s End. She’s broken out all over in red pocks and can barely keep down food, or even the swill that good-for-nothing herbalist gave her. Her mother’s talking about going to the Bank of Abadar, but her family can’t afford to pay the prices their clerics would demand. Then I remembered Ferox is an Inquisitor, and how you all handled yourselves during the riots, and how you helped me out, and I figured you all could help. A bunch of resourceful folk like you, I’d bet if you don’t already have a way to fix this you must know who can. Surely you can’t just sit by while a child suffers, can you?”
Grau asked if he and Grym could have some time to talk through the problem. Grym quickly agreed, and the two stepped out.
Having little in his humble home (or shed really), Grym took Grau into the Cracked Cup tavern. The owner started to yell because the tavern was still not open, but recognized Grym and waves the pair in. Having the place to themselves, the ranger sat down with Grau to talk.
As he listened to the story, Grym paused to walk outside and get one of the local street rats. With a handful of copper coins he sent the children out as runners to find his comrades, Odric the Stout, Morkeleb the Magician, Ferox the Inquisitor, Gaius the Sting of Calistra, and Sandor the Battle Tank, and tell them Thorgrym asks for their help at the Cracked Cup.
“Grau, tell me when did you hear of your niece’s condition?” The ranger asked as warmly as he can. “I will do what I can for your niece. I have some money saved up if that’s what the Bank requires. But I really want to find out about this plague she suffers from. If this sweeps through the city…” Grym trailed off shaking his head. “Where does your niece live? Is she the only one who is sick? Please tell me all you know.”
While the two waited for Thorgrym’s companions to arrive, the ranger began another path of questioning. “Have you heard some of the crazy rumors flying around about the trebuchet shot that sunk the ship near North Point? I"m sure you know something about being in the guard. What really happened? What do you know?”
The companions arrived, singly and in pairs. Hearing of Grau’s niece’s condition, Ferox requested if he can see her. With Abadar’s Guidance, he wanted to try to diagnose what’s wrong with her.
“I’ll help in any way I can, although I don’t know what my particular skills might accomplish.” Odric announces to Grau. “Is there anything you can think of that might be helpful?”
Morkeleb’s academic interest was piqued by the guard’s problem. Typical illnesses—from what little he knew of them—are easily treated, or at least diagnosed, by folk Grau has already sought help from. Maybe this isn’t a typical illness.
“Grau, may I see your neice? I’d like to get a look at how ill she is, maybe get an idea of what is wrong. Ferox, I’ll join you. My training is in magic and alchemy, not healing as such—but maybe if we put our heads together we can make a good diagnosis.”
When the group arrived Tayce’s home, and the whole group indeed went, they entered a simple room where two boys played, oblivious to the situation. Grau introduced them as his nephews, Charlo and Rello. During the introductions a spasm of ragged coughing filled the house from above – bringing a flinch from Grau as if he had been struck. As the heroes prepared to move upstairs an acolyte from the Bank of Abadar, entered from the kitchen with a bag of herbs, brewing some concoction that smelled of cinnamon and anise. Grau is obviously displeased to see the man, whom he briskly introduced as Ishani Dhatri before going upstairs to have a sternly whispered conversation with Tayce. The acolyte looked distraught and defeated. Upon seeing an Inquisitor he stammered an apology and backed himself into the kitchen. As Ishani is backing away, Ferox points at him.
“Do not go anywhere. I’ll want to speak with you after I’ve examined the girl.” Ferox proceeded up the stairs after Grau, hoping to talk with Tayce before seeing his daughter.
As he passes the acolyte, Morkeleb asks him, “What is your diagnosis of the girl? And have you tried anything actualy curative in nature yet?”
“My good sir, I would love to use every ounce of clerical power to help the girl,” the acolyte responded, “but it goes against the core tenants of Abadar to cure her without proper recompense. There is no such taboo concerning herbal remedies and….and…. concoctions to ease her pain.”
He called after the Inquisitor, who clearly intimidates him without effort.
“Master Inquisitor, I swear, I have not broken the sacred laws! It pains my heart to stay true, but stay true I have. What scares me is that I can’t actually diagnose her disease. It’s a combination of symptoms I’ve never seen before. Please, you are not bound by our edicts. Help her!”
The wizard pressed him, “If it is a combination of symptoms you haven’t heard of, perhaps the nature of the sickness isn’t natural. What kind of symptoms are we talking about?”
The conversation continued downstairs, while on the stairway, Tayce came down and met the Inquisitor half way. Her expression was both desperate and depressed. She possessed a simple beauty, scarcely hidden by her disheveled appearance and wan features— it’s obvious that she’d not slept in more than a day. She eyed Ferox’ sacred key warily, but with a nod from Grau, she took Ferox by the hand and lead him upstairs.
The creaky steps opened up into a bedroom loft above the main room of the Soldado home. A young girl with auburn hair lay in one of the beds, her slight frame dwarfed by the bed’s size and the pile of pillows, afghans, and quilts surrounding her. Splotches of an angry red rash covered her face and arms, appearing in irregular shapes and sizes. Suddenly, her restlessness was interrupted by a violent fit of hacking coughs that jerked her entire frame, lifting her well off her pillows. The spasm passed after a moment, dropping her back to the bed, but seemingly having done little to ease her breathing.
Ferox agreed with Acolyte Ashani’s prognosis. He had never seen this disease before, and he had a pretty good mind for this kind of thing. It must have been something new. Nevertheless, he saw no reason why the malady couldn’t be cured with a simple spell of Remove Disease.
Gaius asks politely from behind Ferox, looking over the Inquisitor’s shoulder, “Grau. Would you permit me to hire a Calistrian to cast a spell to remove the disease? I cover the cost, and only ask that you owe me a favor. One that I promise will not conflict with your oaths, obligations, or conscience.”
Gaius holds out his hand, offering a handshake to seal the deal.
Grau replied, “Master Gaius, I have most of the cost of the spell. If you would hire a priest, then Ashani is here now and will do it. I would pay you back as soon as I am able, saving only enough of my pay cover food.”
“Pish-posh.” Gaius interrupted, “We can work out a less draconian schedule than that! Let’s have Ashani cast the spell, if…” Gaius pauses, looking Ashani up and down and then nodding slightly. “he’s strong enough. I mean no disrespect, but I heard someone here identify him as an Acolyte. I’ll cover whatever you’re not able to. Please be sure to leave yourselves ample to eat well and recover in reasonable comfort. We can work out details later.”
At the offered funds, Ashani immediately took the money with a prayer to Abadar and rushed upstairs. The spell was already on his lips, and after mere seconds, the holy light covered the girl. Her coughing fits and restlessness immediately vanished. Tayce was overwhelmed, tears flowing freely. Brienna woke almost immediately. She was slightly befuddled by the crowd of strangers in the house and all the fuss before she asked her mother if lunch was ready yet. Now Tayce’s personal heroes, she profusely thanked you all with hugs and kisses. Although the Soldados could hardly afford to compensate the group, Tayce was eager to prepare you a feast—a considerable reward, considering her cooking skill. The group was offered a permanent open invitation to the Soldado house, which swiftly took on a celebratory air as she alternated between preparing food and hugging her daughter.
Ashani was also moved to tears. "The tenents of my faith are clear as you no doubt know from your Inquisitor friend. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve made the correct choice in my life. I know I can do more good, and it’s not against the Golden One’s teachings to assist in charity work. My charitable work sometimes requires the aid of those outside my church’s rigid hierarchies… might you be amenable to me contacting you in the future?”
Grym assured Ashani that for good causes he is happy to help.
Sandor was glad to accept the hearty meal with the Soldado’s. He tries to make sure he takes a spot at the table that shows the good side of his face to the little lady.
He started to reach for a nice stiff pull at his dwarven ale, when he remembered Grau’s former condition. While giving a look of kindness to Ashani, and a glance around the table to the rest…
“Lads tis a good thing that we did ‘ere tonight. Tayce the food is amazing. Thank you for inviting us to stay for dinner.” Sandor raises his cup “A good dinner such as this can’t go without a toast!”
Morkeleb blanched at the word toast. Knowing the dwarf’s toasts have been nothing short of pornographic in the past. Sandor caught Gaius’ smirk. Just before Grym and Ferox can cut him off he started in,
“Ta the old, long life and treasure;
Ta the young, all health ’n pleasure;”
he reaches over and taps the head of Brienna
“Ta the fair, their face,
With eternal grace;
’N the rest, ta be loved at leisure.”
Sandor finished his cup. Which sat on his pleasantly full belly, and then let out a belch that could be nothing less than a huge sign of approval for the cook. He looked around with a smile realized that Tayce may not be used to Dwarven customs and with what would be a embarrassed shy smile he said with an apologetic shrug “See lass I told ya the meal was good.”
Sandor, sensing that it was getting late for the Saldado children offered to help clean up. After things were clean, Sandor took a dishtowel that was still very wet, he looks around to see who wasn’t looking. Then he twirled it up and snaps Odric on the back of his thigh while Odric is bending over showing the boys his “flexibility” exercises. The loud crack, and the jump from the big man brought a bit of laughter from everyone and a scowl from Odric. Sandor knows he will pay later for the act.
“Now that this towel is properly dirty I will put it in your laundry basket.”
As he put the dirty linen in the wash, he took a platinum piece and wrapped it in the towel and then placed it in the bottom of the basket. This should help keep the kids in clothes and food.
With a satisfied smirk on his face Sandor waited for a break in the conversation.
“Again thank ya fer ya hospitality. May ya daughters recovery happen unabated. Lads I am going to retire to me house, but I think we should sit and talk before the nights end. I do believe the Cracked cup is between ’ere and me house so lets meet there. Sgt Grau, unless ya have something that needs your attention or my house will be a better venue for ya, ya are more than invited to attend”
Sandor waited for an answer, then left. On his walk he was struck with the events in the little house. The worry of the Uncle and the Mother, the overall relief felt from the entire family and friends alike. The children calling him Uncle Sandor. Dinner time reminded him of his family eating at the community table sharing in fellowship with not just family, but neighbors both near and far.
It was then that the picture spawns in his head. A picture of the future. The future when times in Korvosa have calmed. The time when Cressida and the Crown no longer need his services. His vision includes a forge of his own. Two apprentices, Charlo and Rello if they want to learn a trade and their mother will let them. Talking Master Vencarlo Orsini into a contract to where his forge will provide weapons and armor for his students at a discounted price for the prestige of being associated with his school.
The daydream continues into the mundane steps of how to make it happen… upon arriving at his destination he whispered to himself…” It all begins and ends with… Family”
Gaius made an excuse and goes to find Kroft. He knocked on her window and showed up asking if she fancied a stroll. “Greetings, Field Marshall. Are you well? Listen, there are strange things afoot. Can we talk?”
He clearly woke the Field Marshal. Though retired for the night she was fast asleep at her desk when he came to the window. She had changed into rather sheer night clothes of clear elven make. After a minute or two without modesty she grabed a cloak and straps a sword belt to her waist….Clearly this delay to action was purposeful.
The Whip of Calistra mentioned the scuttling of the ship and disease and casually dropped that he fronted half of the cost to heal the child, and mentioned it’s possible connection. In all he showed honest concern about an epidemic in the city.
After sharing his ponderings with her, she decided that more action needed to be taken. But first she shared some other news. The queen authorized a reward of 5,000 Sails for information leading to the capture of Trinia. Furthermore, today was delivered a note of the most peculiar sort. It was addressed to the six members of the party, and requested their presence at the Osirini Academy first thing at daybreak. The note was signed “B”. Nothing more…. The night ended with a very warm hug, much to Gaius’ frustration and disappointment.
With the dwarf wandering down the street towards the Cracked Cup, it was an easy matter for Odric to steadily maneuver himself in front of the distracted and woolgathering dwarf. Upon finding a suitably rancid and disgusting puddle, the human casually bent down to adjust his boot straps and deftly extended his other foot behind him to trip the dwarf in retaliation for the towel snap.
After all around had a hearty laugh at the sputtering dwarf, Odric helped him up genially. The big fighter’s plans backfire as the befouled dwarf embraced Odric in a giant avuncular hug.
Seeing the antics of his comrades on their way to the Cracked Cup reminded Ferox of the pranks he and the other boys pulled on each other back in his youth. The stench wafting from Odric and Sandor reminded him of when he, Pidge, Renny, and Neko stuffed poor, little Idej down the third story privy chute. The headmasters didn’t find him ‘till morning; not ’till after the faculty on that floor had used the loo after evening mess and that morning’s ablutions. As the group laughs with Sandor and Odric, Ferox laughs with them but with tears of sadness in his eyes.
He wiped his eyes as he followed his companions into the Cracked Cup.
With the group, except Gaius, all laughing and as usual staying upwind of Sandor and Odric, they threw open the door to the Cup and pour inside, the picture of good cheer and camaraderie.
As they sat down, Ferox offered to buy a round of drinks for the table. When they were served, he lifted his mug to his friends. “Sorry about the poo.” He drank his mug down in one big gulp and called for another.
Sandor began, “Hey lads I brought ya here ta discuss what is on all of our minds. How did that sweet lil lass get sick like that. I may be thinking the worst and worrying to soon. But I have a few questios that need answered. Does it tie in with the ship sinking. Sergeant Grau, did you hear of anyone on that ship trying to swim ta shore as it was sinking? If not when and where did they get off? Who would benefit wit an epidemic in the city? What can we do to get out in front if it? Ideas anyone?”
Sandor waited a moment and then answered his own questions.
“Excluding external threats, I am sure there are several people who would benefit, but with her strange behavior the queen would highly benefit. She could impose martial law. Any of her detractors could disappear and be blamed on the disease. And if she opens her coffers she could be seen as the savior of the city. Not saying she is complicit. Just saying she could greatly benefit. Same with any of the faiths they could benefit as well.
External threats: do we know of any that practice the pestilence approach? Or trying to weaken our cities economy?
ta get out in front of this we need to get all of the faiths on the same page. Which is the survival of Korvosa. Once it is confirmed send out criers to stop the snake oil false cures from preying on te weak and feeble. Get medical and such supplies away from looters and a good plan to deal with the bodies to keep them from piling up haphazardly”
Sandor went on a bit more and finishes up with “ohh and while the rest are handling that. We will be eliminating those behind this if it was intentional”
Thorgrym added, “Do you really think one of the faiths is behind this? Surely none of the good ones would do this. Abadar isnt good but is neutral, however law and fairness is sort of thier thing. Are there any openly evil faiths operating in Korvosa?” The ranger ponders a moment… ”That f allen paladin we vanquished. He was a follower of Norbinger, I think the god is called. An evil god, is associated with the color gray and favors the short sword.” Thorgrym looks around the room. “Reminds me a little too much of these “grey maidens” the queen has running around. They all carry short swords don’t they?”
After hearing Sandor speak, Ferox offered, “I think it prudent to wait ‘till morning. We have only one case of an unknown illness. That its timing coincides so closely to the sinking of that ship is certainly cause for concern, but I want more information before we act. Tomorrow, we should find out as much as we can about any other afflictions similar to Brienna’s. See if we do have an epidemic on our hands. If we can examine more patients, maybe we can determine how it is spread. Find out what precautions the populous can take. If we determine the illness is unnatural, then we can examine our options then.”
After listening to the Inquisitor’s wise words, Grym suddenly blurted out “Norgober!” He looked a little embarressed but went on. “Sorry, the evil god is called Norgober, not Norbinger. Ive heard him called the Grey Master. I might be grasping at straws but I dont like those grey maidens. I like them even less if they are disciples of some evil god.”
Morkeleb sat quietly, fingers pressed together, thinking intently. As far as the tenants of the faith go, the wizard didn’t recognize any connection to the Grey Maidens, though Grym did point out some interesting coincidences.
Grau said, “It seems way to big of a coincidence that my niece got sick so close to the sinking of the ship. But I can’t fathom” (He doesn’t notice the pun) “how they would be connected. Brie was asleep in bed at that time. It’s worth looking into. Maybe we ought to try the Bank tomorrow. I’m sure Ferox could get some answers.”
Sandor rubbed his belly and rumbled contentedly, “Thank ya gentleman it has been a fine evening. I’m off to the bath then ta me house. Ferox, meet you at the Bank one bell after daybreak. If anyone needs anything sooner please send a runner.”
Gaius entered and stopped Sandor dead in his tracks at the door of The Cracked Cup. “Hold, Master Dwarf. We’ve one more matter to discuss before we all retire.”
He held up the note, waving it at the party, “We’ve been summoned.” He passed the note to the others and told them about the 5,000 Sail reward for the capture of Trinia. He sat at a table, puts up his feet and ordered a flagon of mead.
Morkeleb, a thoughtful look on his stern face, said, “I surmise that it is not more work for the good Field Marshal, as she’d have spoken directly to us. Who summons us, and for what purpose?”
Sandor listened to the Sting of Calistra and pondered a moment.
With a sudden chuckle and as sly a smirk as any had seen from Sandor yet, he looked at each of his friends and said quietly so that only they could hear, “Lads… if she is willing to pay that much for information leading to her capture well lets keep all of her agents very very busy and start a misinformation campaign” he tilted his head a little, “hmm only one thing wrong with that.. we really don’t know where she is, so we might accidently tell the truth, but I am sure we can keep the Grey Maidens very very busy if that is who she sends to collect and track down any leads.”
The dwarf continued, “I will share one more cup before I take my leave and for those that want to go I will meet you at the Osirini acadamy in the morning.”
He then handed Grym five sail and whispered “Grym this be ya hole in the wall, add this ta the tab so as ta keep it a safe place for ya.”
On the morning of 5 Desnus, after a fitful night’s sleep, Odric made his way to the appointed meeting place with the mysterious “B”. He was clean-shaven and bathed, to the group’s mild surprise and delight.
Odric looked around and saw every member of the party, standing by ready for pretty much anything.
Anticipation hung heavy in the cool morning air.
“Good morning.” said Grym in a quiet voice to Odric. The ranger was squatting down petting Bucho. Then he stood and started throwing a stick for the brindle dog waiting for the meeting.
When everyone was assembled, a nondescript man in a wide brimmed hat approached. When he tilted his head up, it was Vencarlo. “Good morning lads, quickly come inside.”
He unlocked the school and placed a sign on the door reading “Classes closed for the day.” He lead the group through a salle that is familiar to some of the party members. He lead the way into the back room, which no one in the group had ever seen. There was a small table, and the smell of a hearty breakfast wafted in the air.
“A …mutual friend of ours delivered to me a package some time ago, a package I need help delivering to its final destination.”
And with that, and based on her astonished expression at seeing the six friends who so recently captured her, Trinia stepped out of a kitchenette around the corner to serve coffee…
Morkeleb blinked, “Well, this was unexpected.”
Gaius, looked to Morkeleb, “Expect the unexpected.”
Gaius nods and is nonplussed. “Good Morn, Lady Trinia. Are you well? I don’t suppose you can confirm your innocence for us before we break our fast. Clearly, we’re here and open to the theory that you are blameless for His Majesty Eodred’s death, but let’s all get fully undressed before we get into bed together.”
“I am innocent!” She started with a burst. "I was simply a painter. I’ve never had physical access to the king, besides…who would want that? What I don’t know is who framed me. I don’t believe that they’re all evil, but someone close to the king is the guilty party. It may be the queen, yes. But I also think her handmaiden Sabina is equally likely. I’m just not sure. I’m here now, and I’m not on the run. If you have divinatory magic, I’m an open book to all…well, all of you anyway.”
Vencarlo said, “The day of the … execution… Blackjack showed up here and dropped her off. He knows that I’m no fan of the queen, and knew I’d be here. His goals are inscrutable, well actually it’s not his goals as he’s always just wanted what’s best for Korvosa. It’s his plans and methods that I know not. Either way, he assumed correctly that I did not believe that Trinia was guilty. What he didn’t figure was that he was dropping her off to someone who is too well known to help get her out of the city. I can’t go through the gates without questioning. This is, I believe, where he wants you to come into the picture.”
Ferox interjected, “While I’m glad to see that you are well, Trinia, I’m reluctant to take any action before we know definitively of your innocence. You say that you are an open book. Very well. If you will indulge me, I need to make a quick trip to the Bank. When I return, I hope to be able to determine the truth from you. If you are indeed innocent, I will happily aid in your escape and redouble my efforts to discover who truly assassinated the king.”
Gaius looks Vencarlo and Trinia over and listens dispassionately. He doesn’t get any hunches about Trinia, but felt that Vencarlo knew more than he was letting on.
“Trinia, before we agree to anything, I have a couple of questions,” Gaius begins and takes a sip of coffee. He is visibly taken aback by the quality of the grind, the low acidity, the strength of the flavor, and the unexpected smooth finish. He looks to Master Vencarlo and nods approvingly with a devilish grin, and silently notes that he’d describe Vencarlo’s fencing technique with the same words. Turning back to Trinia, Gaius continues, “Can you tell me why it was reported that you confessed, what your duties were while at The Court of Eodred, and if you had a relationship with His Majesty. If you indeed had no physical access to The King, tell me more. Anything you may have heard or seen that was unusual, no matter how mundane. Even if you don’t understand it.”
Trinia locked eyes with Gaius, “I was his painter. Believe me, if it were up to him there’d be physical contact. He was a dirty old man, but the queen would never allow him to be alone with me. I never confessed. They never even asked me any questions, they just locked me in a room with the Queen’s body guard and a strange cloaked man. I never saw his face, and didn’t catch him casting a spell, but he looked at me for a good hour and simply declared me guilty.”
After Ferox returned, she sat patiently and gave Ferox her undivided attention.
He waits with bated breath for her answer.
Did you do it?, he asks the mage sitting across from him at the large oak table. Other than the lanterns for light, the small stone room they were in was bare.
The case seemed more trouble than it was worth. If not for the pressure from some of the noblemen in the city, Ferox didn’t think the case would have even been put in from of him. It had taken several weeks of investigation to track down the sorcerer. The hardest part had been convincing the women to divulge the spell-caster’s identity. In the end, only one of the ladies talked, and only provided the slightest of hints. But that small tip was enough to start the dominoes falling.
Don’t make this any harder on yourself. We have evidence tying you to the women. You got a little sloppy there. Again, did you do it?
She responded with a single word, “No.” She displayed no discomfort, not even a twitch.
Ferox lets out the breath he was holding. PHEW! Ha! What a relief! Ha. Hoo boy. Ferox leans back against a wall for a moment to catch his breath. You had me worried there for a bit. Heh. Alrighty then. Getting you out of the city. Where are we supposed to be taking you? I assume that haste is needed. So the sooner we head out the better?
Thorgrym sat quietly through most of the proceedings, just listening and watching. ”Five thousand is a lot of money, but I don’t think I could accept it for someone who is innocent. Especially since we know she isn’t going to get a fair trial.” The ranger paused as if considering his words. “I’ll help. Though at the moment I don’t have much of a plan.”
Gaius continued his line of questioning, “A cloaked man. Symbols? Designs on the cloak? Did he say anything? Walk with a limp? Any details at all?”
“No symbols. He never spoke. I only assume he was male because of the shape of his body. The cloak was more like a coat, loaded with pockets, seemingly empty. He wore a wide brimmed hat. He also wore a mask, looked like a bird with a long beak.” Trinia stated matter of factly. When asked to draw the mask, she produced a beautiful image of a Doctor’s Mask.
Satisfied that she didn’t have anything to do with the Kings death after Ferox puts her to the question Sandor is relieved that his gut was right.
“Ok Master Osirini it looks like we are good with getting her out of the city, and Odric has a plan that seems to serve a dual purpose one that I would like ta help out wit also. Where did you want her to go?” The dwarf asked.
“Master Osirini, Trinia,” he continued, “I do ‘ave a question or two fer ya. Trinia said that the queen’s bodyguard was in the room with you when you were found guilty. Am I assuming correctly that your talking about the Grey Maiden Sabine? If so sir, she was your student what do you believe her capable of? What can you tell us about her mind especially her tendencies for fight or flight, or assessing a situation? Weaknesses in her fighting style? Fer I am sure that it will come down ta a fight between the maidens and us at some point.”
While the others pondered the grand conspiracy, Odric decided to test the city’s perimeter. He planned to seek out and hire wagon to deliver a load of empty kegs out of the city. As part of a new brewing technique, Odric intended to fill the kegs from a mineral-rich spring he heard about that supplies the coldest and tastiest water.
His preparation took two steps, first, he asked about town to gather information on a likely water source. Next he sought a reliable teamster who could make a couple trips over the course of the next two days.
Odric asked about the Gold Market and Eodred’s Walk, looking for some merchant or farmer selling produce who could tell him of a likely spring near the city, but out of sight of the walls. His intent was to find something close to the point Vencarlo wants Trinia delivered.
After a pleasant hour talking spiritedly with the innumerable characters of the city he loves, Odric thought he might have a pretty good idea where to look. Odric made no secret about the purpose of his asking; he wanted to find a new water source for his beer, and as incentive to anyone who offered him some good information he makes promises of free samples once the beer is complete. He writes down names and intends to make good on his debts.
That done, Odric headed to Pinking Shears for a shave and a haircut. He bantered with the other customers, men he had known for years and tried unsuccessfully to get Ol’ Hooktooth to laugh at some raunchy jokes. As usual, Odric got nowhere with the ugly half-orc, but was supremely satisfied with his hairdo. One of the men in the barber shop suggested checking with local barkeeps and tavern owners. The man reasoned that they might be able to refer the Adventurer cum Brewer to a likely teamster.
As Odric enjoyed the spring day, he made the rounds of some of the shops in his neighborhood. He thought he might have a promising lead after talking to Uncle Salty, the lecherous swarthy barkeep at Aram’s Crown. Uncle Salty directed Odric to what he promises is a reliable teamster with an incurious demeanor with the unlikely name of Pickles.
Once Odric met the teamster and inspected the wagon, he engaged in a rather intense bout of negotiations, during which he allowed himself to be bested but only after a hard-fought pitched battle. As he negotiated the price, Odric is certain to include a promise of a free sample of the newest version of The Stout, made from the crystal clear waters of the spring they will travel to. Odric does insist however, that Pickles “take a walk” and allow Odric to fill his barrels with the “mysterious” water in private. The men agree on the rate of 3 copper pinch per mile with a promise of an extra sail if the water is delivered to Master Bartleby’s brewery on time.
After some good-natured haggling in the Gold Market, Odric bought five barrels for a price of two sail each, delivered to Master Bartleby’s brewery. He ensured that the barrels are large enough to accommodate Trinia within. His plan is to allow her to breathe through the bunghole.
Odric and Grym accompanied the Teamster on the trip that afternoon, engaging him in friendly banter the entire trip. Odric was becoming a renowned conversationalist in town, and his beer was getting to be quite well known too.
At the point where the wagon left the city, Odric was careful to observe any suspicion, scrutiny or interest in his activities. He carried with him a small keg of Odric, The Stout in order to offer as samples. These samples might be interpreted as advertisement, good will and bonhomie, but certainly not as bribery!
After all was said and done, Odric had five barrels of water, a bit of intelligence to report to his friends, Trinia and Vencarlo, and released Pickles for the evening with a promise to repeat the process tomorrow.
Rejoining his friends, Odric said, “Today I was probing defenses. If we get some good intel out of this, we can certainly act on it. I am not married to this plan, so if someone has a better one – let’s explore it!”
With pride, the brewer said, “Either way, new batch of The Stout will taste of adventure, aged whiskey, oak charcoal and a lady. Should be an instant classic.”
Gaius said, “No, that can work. I was also thinking of using my Disguise Self spell to look like Trinia and act as a diversion.” He continued, “I’m thinking if Trinia were noticed in Old Korvosa, trying to secure passage on a ship out, that might pull some heat from the gates, letting Odric and his Stout out of the city gates. Spell lasts for 10 minutes. It’s long enough to start some rumors and not long enough to have me in danger for long. A quick diversion will keep the guard chasing rumors all day.”
Turning to the roguish rogue, the Dwarf said, “Gaius I like the way ya think, but I would severly caution against Trinia or you being spotted in the city while we won’t take five thousand sails there are many more that would return her or you dead for the reward. Maybe you can take a trip in a different direction than we go ’n be spotted travelin that way.”
Odric’s, your reconnaissance worked like a charm. He found the holes in the defenses that he was looking for, but he noticed something in the process. While the beer trick worked like a charm, he got the impression that such a window wouldn’t last long. Border guards seemed more numerous at the end of the day than the beginning. Grym hunted well while outside the walls, and his brace of rabbits was guaranteed to make a good dinner. The gate guards seemed conflicted. They treated Grym like a hero, but they seemed intent on not drawing the sergeant’s attention for being lax in their duties.
Sandor slapped the table and said, “Good then I think we should make our special beer run first thing in the morning about two hours before guard change if the gates are open. If not then two hours after. I will be ready when Odric says let’s go”
As the meeting broke up, and as everyone took their leave Sandor caught Vencarlo alone for a minute.
“Master Osirini a moment of your alone time for two things. I couldn’t help but notice there is a big weight on ya shoulders. No no I know it’s more than just harboring Trinia. Now I’m a warrior who’s a bit older than the lads, and I knows how ta keep me mouth shut, so if ya need someone ta talk to over an ale just let me know. I’m sure we’re on tha same side, which is Korvosa, and it’s going ta take a lot of good people to temper the vileness I feel commin from the Queen as opposed to Eodred. So when ya are ready ta talk n need someone ta listen let me know. This ole dwarf can keep a secret.”
Sandor nodded for emphasis. “The second thing is much less important at least for now. One of these days when Korvosa is umm I guess stable, and doesn’t require my services, I intend to open my own smithy, and I would like to come to a buisness arrangement with ya. If ya didn’t know I made this armor, and me three dwarven weapons I carry,” he placed them down for Vencarlo to inspect “I don’t know if you have an arrangement with a smithy yet, but I would like to become the exclusive provider of arms and armour to your school, and would be willing to offer a discount to graduates of your acadamy. I know it’s a little soon to make anything final, but I want to start warming ya up ta the idea.”
The plan in motion, Gaiushid out, cast his spell to disguise himself and sought passage on a ship out of the city. He did his best to appear suspicious. Odric and Grym set up for another water gathering expedition. Except this time Trina’s supple body was folded up inside one of the barrels.
Given the meticulous planning, the escape from the city was a resounding success. Trinia made it out safely. Before leaving, she gifts Odric with a kiss that’s far more than a friendly kiss on the cheek. “Thank you so much. All of you. I’m so sorry to have put you into this position. Someday, when the time is right and the backdrop is more favorable, I’ll make it up to you. I promise.”
She refused to take an offered Wand of Daze Monster from Morkeleb, insisting instead that he use it, then keep it as a memento of her.
She called out over her shoulder while walking away, “Thank you again!”
The huge warrior muttered “You’re welcome! And thank you very much!” He rubs the spot where she kissed him, then takes his hand out from under his war kilt.