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> Chronicles > Book 2 – Part 1

Book 2 – Sunken Citadel
Part 1 – Tribus Baceolus

  • Contents (1)
    • Prologue: Winter in Darford
    • Chapter 1: Tribus Baceolus

See also: Adventure Log > Session 03, 2013-09-27


Prologue: Winter in Darford

The Darford Inn is a comfortable, two-story inn and tavern. It features modest prices (5 pence per night), decent food (3 pence per meal), and a lively taproom (4 farthings per mug of ale). The inn is sturdy and well insulated, with fireplaces and charcoal braziers providing warmth in the winter months and the shade of several trees and many windows to capture cooling breezes during the heat of summer. Game is plentiful in the forests around Darford and local hunters and trappers sell their bounty to the inn, which supplements the foodstuff bought from occasional caravans that come through. On most nights, the patrons are entertained by Liric, a half-elf scop with a crippled leg who lives in one of the rooms above the tavern.

The inn is owned and operated by Trygil Seolfor (45) and his young and pretty daughter Alrica (14), (though most agree she is too precocious for her age). Their only full-time employee is Drogo (30), called “Short Change” by the locals, an overly friendly halfling who is known for “giving himself” generous tips. Trygil has two young thralls, Coilean (15) and Whittuck (12), who work in the stables.

On a frequent basis, Trygil also hires Ina (40) and her daughters, Aelis (20), Clarinda (18) and Sera (16), to help as cooks, serving girls and chambermaids. Ailie (10), the young son of Yuliet, is often hired to assist in the stable or the kitchen. (Ina was recently widowed when her husband Dewydd was killed by Wotan’s undead army in the Crypt of Dartron. Ailie’s father Waldrik was killed in the same tragic incident, which left Yuliet a widow and Ailie and his sister Calan fatherless.)

Trygil keeps his private room near the kitchen on the first floor, next to Alrica’s. Drogo has a room above the kitchen, while Coilean and Whittuck reside in the stables.

The taproom serves as a large common room. Travelers who can’t afford a private room may rent straw tick pallets and sleep on the floor. The large room above the innkeeper’s quarters is a luxury room.

Chapter 1 – Wychwood Ale

Nahia of arvit.005.g.uploadOne day, while the group was lounging in the taproom of the Darford Inn, a woman entered the building and asked around for Glenlivet Lesgoth. Clarinda, a serving girl, took the woman and presented her to Glen’s table. The woman was obviously a mercenary. Though very beautiful (with long, wavy brown hair) she also looked potentially dangerous as an experienced warrior. She wore expensive armor and held a bardiche (glaive) as her primary weapon. The woman apologized for interrupting and politely introduced herself as Nahia of Arvit. She then stated that she had been sent by her master Joby Flint to seek Glenlivet Lesgoth. She explained that Joby was a travelling merchant from Ullester and he had some rare and delicious ale samples from the Wychwood Brewery that he thought Glen might be interested in.

Glen agreed to accompany Nahia outside the inn to meet with Joby at his cart. The rest of the group went along out of curiosity (and caution). True to her word, Joby had some fine ales from Ullester, rarely seen in Darford this time of year, and Glen happily purchased them from the friendly merchant.

“Why did you choose me for this purchase?” Glen asked Joby.

“Why, my friend Trygil mentioned you,” he answered cheerily. “He and I were trading goods, and when I showed him these rare ales he suggested that I approach you for the sale. He said that you two had been having a fine time creating your own ales lately and assumed that you would be interested in these.”

After the excitement of the ale purchase, the group sauntered back inside the inn to their favorite table. They opened the bottles and were very pleased with the aroma and rich flavors of the ales. Glen shared them with the whole group, and Lee Alfsaw (Li al-Saar) poured a taste for his friend Drogo, who was tending the bar.

Nahia of arvit.012.g.uploadAfter Joby and Nahia closed up their cart for the evening, they entered the inn to enjoy its warmth and a meal. Joby was very happy to hear that Glen and his friends appreciated the ales.

Dodge sensed a connection with Nahia and the two struck up a friendly conversation. Soon their exchange turned amorous. Joby noticed the budding romance, and before he retired to his chamber, he whispered to Nahia that she was released from guard duty for the night, much to her delight. Dodge and Nahia make quick use of the opportunity and left the inn together. They spent the night in each other’s embrace on Dodge’s cot at the shieldsmith shop.

Chapter 2 – Brightflame

A couple days later, Magna was returning home after scouting in the forests surrounding Darford. He stopped by the home of Kyran, and they began walking together to meet with their friends at the Darford Inn. Just before reaching Darford, rounding a bend in the road, they spotted a trio of mangy dogs playing a gruesome tug-of-war with some sort of humanoid corpse. Their snarls and barks broke the silence of the otherwise calm afternoon.

Worried that the victim might still be alive, they promptly attacked the dogs. They killed two and wounded the third – which ran away, fearing for its life.

Magna and Kyran inspected the victim and determined that it was the corpse of a male hobgoblin bearing several slashing and piercing wounds, at least one of them clearly fatal. These wounds were in addition to the chunks ripped away by the dogs. The corpse still wore an old-fashioned chain shirt, and a sundered longsword lay nearby. His belt pouch had been turned inside-out and his belt bore an empty dagger scabbard.

Magna scanned the site and discovered the tracks of three or four humanoids in the area. The orientation of the tracks indicated that their makers might have fought with the hobgoblin. The freshness of the corpse indicated that the fight had occurred within the last day.

Kyran searched the surrounding area and detected a glint coming from a nearby bush. Curious, he inspected closer and discovered a dagger partially concealed by the bush. It was obvious the dagger came from the hobgoblin’s empty scabbard, as if it had been thrown during the combat. The dagger’s tang, bolster, and blade’s center appeared made of liquid flame. The word “Brightflame” was inscribed on its hilt in Westron.

Chapter 3 – Bar Brawl

It was a long hard day for the group of friends and they were all looking forward to meeting in the tavern for dinner and drinks as previously agreed upon. Evening was drawing on as Dodge arrived, and a couple of traveling merchants were securing tents for the night and locking up their wares in large trunks. Joby Flint was hard at work closing down, accompanied by his exotic, but efficient, bodyguard Nahia. Nearby them was Lorkyhay Ganderhoddle, a Halfling tinker who had recently arrived to ply his services in Darford. Dodge exchanged pleasantries with Nahia – their mutual attraction apparent to any who saw them together – and he anxiously anticipated seeing her in the tavern after her work was completed.

Business was brisk as the long shadows of evening slanted through the taproom’s open windows. Drogo, standing on a wooden box and wearing an apron, worked behind the bar, while Alrica and Sera carried platters of food and drinks to various tables. Glen and Lee waved at Dodge from their favorite table, waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. As Dodge sat down, he eyed the rest of the taproom. Most of the crowd seemed to be local residents or traveling merchants, although clustered around one table sat a rough-looking group of mercenaries – obviously not from Willowdale. They huddled over their drinks in quiet conversation, occasionally raising a head to eye the crowd. Forwost Wisslow and Guardsman Eóghan stood near the bar, each holding a pint of ale. Old warriors Torger and Kleggi sat at the table nearest the fireplace. Arnwald, the village idiot, wearing a ratty old dress, lingered near the entrance. He wanted to get closer to the fireplace, but he was too timid to annoy Torger or Kleggi. Gruffscar, the half-orc woodcutter, sat at a table with two young woodsmen, Keeth and Wido. The traveling merchants and tinkers clustered jovially together at a corner table.

When Magna and Kyran finally joined the group, they began quietly talking about the hobgoblin corpse and the dagger. They were overheard by the trio of mercenaries. One of them, clad in well-worn, dark leather armor and wearing a dark, travel-stained cloak, approached their table. He was careful to keep his hands away from the well-used pommels of the sword and dagger at his belt, but the look on his battle-aged face clearly showed a hostile intent as he thumped his fists down on the table.

“I killed that hob in a fair fight, and the fiery dagger is mine by right.” It was obvious to Kyran and Magna that the mercenary was talking about the dagger they picked up near the hobgoblin corpse – and their expressions of surprise revealed the truth. “Hand it over or face the wrath of Mauritius Hostilius de Tribus Baceolus,” he proclaimed, jabbing his thumb into his thick chest to stress his introduction and emphasize his threat. His two companions pushed back their chairs from their table and rose to watch the situation closely, smoothly edging towards Mauritius. They too kept their hands away from their weapons, but the tension in the room was tremendous.

Magna sat closest to the table’s edge – close enough to notice the distinctive belt that Mauritius wore, with tiny skulls embossed upon it. He saw that Mauritius was a hardy, muscled man with skin bearing the toils of past battles. Though he was short in comparison to some, he had a muscular build and appeared to be a formidable warrior. Magna knew that Kyran had no intention of giving up the dagger, and Mauritius seemed to read that in their expressions. A sly grin crossed the mercenary’s grim face – he was spoiling for a fight – and without a second thought he took a swing at Magna.

Glen, with agile swiftness, was the first to react. He leaped onto the table, spilling drinks and sending utensils flying, but he was unable to land a blow on Mauritius. Before Magna could react, Mauritius threw another punch, this time landing solidly on Magna’s face.

The other two mercenaries rushed forward to join the fray. The quickest one was a man with a thin, yet muscular, build. He wore a drab gray, hooded cloak. In his rush, the hood fell back to reveal dirty blonde hair that was unkempt and scraggly. He dashed toward the opposite side of the group’s table, to guard Mauritius’ back, but Lee turned towards him and uttered a threat with an intimidating glare. The scrubby mercenary stopped in his tracks, reversed direction, and ran the other way around the table. He slammed into Keeth, who stood among the three woodcutters. Keeth returned the rude bump with a defensive punch, which thoroughly impressed his buddies Gruffscar and Wido.

Image: Tavern Brawl by Svetlin Velinov

The often-annoying Gruffscar, who was well known for getting drunk and picking fights, took full advantage of the chaos and charged after Kyran – whom he had wanted to tussle with since Kyran’s return from Gwynedda. The brawl quickly escalated to the other patrons of the inn and turned into a wild free-for-all in the taproom. The servers fled and Drogo ducked behind the bar. Arnwald hid beneath a table. Torger and Kleggi turned in their chairs to watch the fight, but were content to stay by the fire. Nahia instinctively steered the travelers into a safe corner – guarding them from violence. Wisslow and Eóghan calmly backed out of the way to watch the proceedings.

Dodge came to the rescue of his good friend Magna, and dealt a blow to Mauritius. Then Dodge was nearly clobbered by the third mercenary, who was trying to back up Mauritius. “Crispus will knock you down,” shouted the behemoth, and he nearly made good on his words when his great fist struck Dodge. Crispus was a huge man, but he had a large paunch and did not appear to be in great physical condition. He wore crude looking hide armor, and contrary to his bedraggled appearance, his head was clean-shaven. But his plump appearance was deceptive, for beneath his bulk loomed great strength.

The team recognized that Mauritius was the leader of the antagonists, so they concentrated on bringing him down first, though Kyran was kept out of it while dueling with the belligerent Gruffscar. Magna, Glen and Lee all threw punches, but the strength and armor of Mauritius seemed unfazed. Dodge squared off against the massive Crispus and the sound of their fists hitting each other shook the wallboards of the tavern.

Despite assistance from Glen and Lee, Magna was getting hammered by Mauritius. Dodge recognized this and bravely turned away from Crispus to attack Mauritius. He successfully grabbed Mauritius and attempted to turn him into the next punch brought by Crispus. His gambit failed and instead Dodge sustained a crushing hit from Crispus, though he heroically maintained his grip on Mauritius.

A few feet away, while Keeth traded blows with the gray-cloaked mercenary, his buddy Wido hit him from behind with a mug of ale. Though the damage was minimal, it distracted him enough so that Keeth could deliver a telling blow which knocked the foreigner down and out.

Kyran and Gruffscar continued to battle and (much to Gruffscar’s disappointment) Kyran was winning that contest. The titanic battle between Dodge and Mauritius escalated, as their wild struggle overturned tables and demolished chairs. But Dodge held the upper hand. Mauritius was unable to oppose the crushing strength of Dodge and within seconds his eyes rolled up into his head – unconscious.

Now Crispus was circled and outnumbered by Dodge, Magna, Lee and Keeth, while Glen went to the side of Kyran. After receiving a couple bruises from Keeth, Lee and Dodge, Crispus held up his hands in surrender – gasping for air.

Wisslow took that opportunity to step in and announce with the voice of authority that the brawl had gone far enough, and ordered everyone to stop the fight. He and his loyal guardsman Eóghan quickly took control of the room – everyone else was too tired to protest. Wisslow was not sure exactly how the fight started but he immediately fingered Kyran, Magna and the three mercenaries. During the action, the dagger “Brightflame” had slipped out of Kyran’s bag and it lay openly on the floor. Wisslow confiscated the dagger as evidence and placed the five men under house arrest in their rooms for the night until he could sort things out in the light of day.

Trygil offered to Wisslow the luxury room on the second floor, to which he readily accepted. Thoroughly exhausted and intoxicated, the three mercenaries climbed the ladder to the loft. They each took a room and slumber soon followed. Magna and Kyran also chose rooms in the loft, but Kyran was too paranoid to sleep and kept vigil outside the door to Wisslow’s room. No guards stood watch on the arrested men – fleeing would have made any of them look guilty in the eyes of Wisslow, who would certainly have posted a reward for their arrest throughout Willowdale. Lee and Glen slept in their regular rooms on the second floor. Dodge left with Nahia to spend the night together at the shieldsmith shop. Nahia was impressed with the strength and skill that Dodge demonstrated during the brawl, and he much appreciated her enthusiastic affection before they finally fell asleep.

Chapter 4 – The Usual Suspects

The next morning, bruised and hung-over, the five antagonists were summoned by Eóghan and brought down to the taproom, where Reeve Ulfrid and Forwost Wisslow were about to hold audience. However, all were surprised to learn that the inquiry was not about the brawl from the night before. Wisslow sternly announced that Brightflame had been stolen from his room during the night. He explained that he went to sleep with it under his pillow and noticed it missing when he awoke.

Guardsmen Eóghan and Stein lined all the suspects along the wall: Trygil, Lorkyhay, Drogo, Mauritius and Kyran. Then Wisslow and Ulfrid began the investigation by interviewing the suspects and witnesses.

Alrica claimed she saw Mauritius in the hall outside Wisslow’s room during the night as she made the rounds checking the locks and windows. Mauritius claimed he was nowhere near there and slept the whole night. Wisslow tended to believe Alrica’s testimony, but not that of Mauritius, and Mauritius found himself even more on the defensive.

Arnwald, the village idiot, claimed he stayed up late in the taproom trying to find coins that may have been dropped during the brawl, when he saw Kyran walk in from outside, covered in blood and holding the stolen dagger. However, when confronted by Kyran, Arnwald seemed unsure of his own story. Finally, he admitted he had imbibed quite a bit of elderberry wine and consumed a number of pickled crows’ eggs and might have just dreamed the entire thing. This was further supported by a complete lack of physical evidence matching his tale.

Joby Flint, the traveling merchant, claimed he caught Trygil the innkeeper hiding in the storeroom next to Wisslow’s room. Trygil hotly denied hiding and stated he was stocking clean linens. As the interview continued, Joby sheepishly admitted he didn’t really know what Trygil was doing and had forgotten about the whole incident until he learned of the crime this morning.

Whittuck, one of the stable boys, stated that he saw the Halfling tinker, Lorkyhay Ganderhoddle, creeping about beneath Wisslow’s windows during the night while Whittuck made his rounds of the stables. Ganderhoddle claimed he was merely taking a late night constitutional. Silently, Kyran suspected that Ganderhoddle was not telling the whole truth.

There were no witnesses against Drogo. Wisslow grinned and confessed to including him merely because he had been known to pilfer items in the past and therefore a suspect in any nefarious doings that occur about town.

Ultimately, Ulfrid and Wisslow were stumped as to the culprit and allowed Kyran and his friends to investigate the crime, accompanied by Wisslow of course, so long as they did not leave the premises.

The group assembled in the store room next to Wisslow’s chamber and searched it completely. They found no incriminating evidence or secret passage between the rooms. Next they searched Wisslow’s room and discovered tiny dark marks – made up of short, straight lines – on the bed near his pillow. The marks were slightly tacky to the touch and appeared in pairs and groups of three. Magna, using his Ranger experience, identified the marks as the footprints of a bird – most likely a large bird of prey. He also recognized the smell of the marks – mud with a hint of dung. Then they spotted bits of the same kind of mud on the room’s single windowsill. Small dollops of the stuff contained a few strands of hay.

Following the lead provided earlier by Whittuck, they ventured outside and searched the ground beneath the window. There they detected the tracks of a small humanoid. Since all the clues pointed to the stable, they walked there next. Inside, they immediately spotted an interior half-wall covered on top with hay-infused mud. When they investigated the area, they found bird foot marks in the mud, as well as bird droppings all around. Before they could search much further, a large gray owl surprised them all. It silently swooped down and attacked the group. The owl repeated the swooping attacks, but each time they took swipes at it with their weapons. Glen climbed up into the rafters to chase it down to ground level, where the group successfully killed it.

The menace now dispatched, Glen safely searched among the rafters, but found nothing but more bird droppings. They searched around the half-wall again and soon uncovered Brightflame, buried in the muck. Wisslow expressed sincere gratitude, but just as quickly confiscated the dagger again.

They returned to the taproom and explained what had just happened. When Ganderhoddle heard the news, he let out a cry of grief. They had killed his beloved pet! He immediately broke down and confessed to being a sorcerer and using his owl familiar to steal from others. In the night he had waited until Wisslow woke to use the chamber pot (he had seen him imbibe quite a bit at the bar) and then cast a Sleep spell on him through the open window. It was then a simple matter for his owl (who used the half-wall as a secondary perch) to fly up, retrieve the dagger and drop it down to the waiting tinker, who then concealed it with the owl until he could make his escape. Wisslow released all the other suspects while Stein took the sad little Halfling away and locked him up at the barracks.

Epilogue – Tribus Baceolus

Over the afternoon, during various interactions, the group gained a more in-depth familiarity with Tribus Baceolus – the three mercenaries they had clashed with the night before – and a slight respect. Mauritius Hostilius was their leader, whom the others called Mar, and was always dominant and manipulative of his comrades. He was obviously the one who devised the plans and spurred the others into action. But whenever a plan failed, the other two suffered the consequences. The one called Larz – his full name was Laurentius Phinnius – was a born follower, a blank slate that only reacted (and slowly at that) to Mar’s orders. Yet, whenever Mar’s abuse made him angry enough, he would lash out at Crispus, not Mar. Ieronimus “Crispus” Hostilius was the only likeable one of the three. He had a playful creativity, no good for the kind of plots and schemes required by his brother Mar. Crispus was repeatedly abused by both Mar and Larz, but his reactions were always ineffectual. His greatest weakness seemed to be that he was unaware of his own great strength.

The next day, the group discovered that Tribus Baceolus had disappeared from Darford. When Kyran asked Wisslow about Brightflame, the guard captain reluctantly revealed that Ulfrid had given Brightflame over to Mauritius, with the agreement that they all leave Darford immediately and never return.



Footnotes:
1. Adapted from: Greg A. Vaughan, Into the Haunted Forest, (Bellevue: Paizo Publishing LLC, 2007).


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