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Borderland - Dancing Cauldron (Holt-Lindeck)

Stephan Hornick

Community Goblin
Staff member
Wizard of Adventure
Faster Combatant
Adventure Builder
Adventure Master
Eremis watched as Benedikt made acquaintance with his companions, Bausum and Nichuan. Both of whom were not accustomed to speaking for long periods of time or about themselves, as he has come to realize. Benedikt, a man of learning and truth, it seems, had a way to open up portals to his companions' souls, even though he was of a social strata so different to theirs, that it came as a surprise to Eremis.
He enjoyed watching his companions open up to a stranger and possible new companion. Only when that cleric spoke of his Lord Solus, god of light, healing and forgiveness, and the one god, could perceptive bystanders notice a swift twitch in Eremis' eyes showing a hesitancy that did not cloud Eremis' expression. In complete contrast to Benedikt, Eremis knew how to seem honest and open, while keeping his real thoughts to himself.

Patiently listening to what Benedikt himself would reveal about himself and his brothers, as well as on how his new companions would react to the thunder clash that was the introduction of a priest of a god that proclaimed itself to be the one god, Eremis took his time and drank his ale, thinking carefully how to tactfully approach this topic.

"Alas, prejudice is common amongst those that do not care to understand. You see, Brother Benedikt, I like to care." Eremis deliberately waves a hand indicating the half-orc and the Rhiksharr, before he smiles warmly at the cleric. "Your voice carries a heaviness which hurts my heart, dear baronet. And I feel your sorrow for the loss of your dear father's barony. Regardless, you speak up and uphold the option to convert the orcs who have killed your brethren and your father's subjects. Verily, only a strong character would not grow bitter and vengeful after what you must have endured at the hands of the Blackfang Orcs! I implore you to mark on this map, where your barony has been, and tell us about your 'One God' and his ecclesiastical principles, your vowed guidelines and what your church's stance is on conversion of non-believers."

Although challenging the priest, Eremis spoke this in a well-mannered, friendly, and conversational way, as if he was just talking about the weather or asking for news. He knew a lot about nobles and churches' endeavors, and made it known to Benedikt that he was himself learned, informed and attentive, while protecting the not yet founded guild from possible incursions.
 

Morvar

Member
Faster Combatant
Benedikt nodded slowly and listened attentively to the sergeant's words. He was an absolutely honest man, the truth that he understood as part of the teachings of his God had become so ingrained in him that he was even unable to consciously lie. Well...he was damn bad at it anyway and would never do it on purpose.

"Thank you very much for your words! And I have to disagree with you on just one thing. I am not stronger in my being than you or Master Bausum. The hatred and anger threatened to overtake me 3 years ago when I just entered Sol Ecclesias as an acolyte just as it would understandably do to any being. But I have found MY way through Solus. It may not be the path of every soul, but no one needs to look for the strength and support through Solus. He is there. Always. "

He looked sharply into Eremis' eyes. At that, he revealed an understanding in the sergeant's statement.

"But I will not bore you with words or discuss theology; my brothers have often enough plunged me into arguments, and have always shown me my fallacies and errors. Especially...Hogar."

Now he smiled again. The laugh lines around his eyes deepened.

"How about this, your wish to complete the map I now comply with..." he pointed his finger at a spot on the map, " and I leave the "preaching" to the deeds I perform in our time together!"

But then he hesitated briefly. "As for forgiveness for the Orcs, Solus said through the 7 Lightbringers, among many other things, on the first day after the long darkness, "For you were once darkness; but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light!" I hope to have the strength to make the right decisions at the right time."

Behind them a chair was heard to crash and then Arthur left the guest room with quick steps, as he threw the door shut, 2 deer antlers fell from the wall.

Jacob just shrugged his shoulders. Hogar, however, flashed a sardonic smile and then slowly shook his head.
 

Stephan Hornick

Community Goblin
Staff member
Wizard of Adventure
Faster Combatant
Adventure Builder
Adventure Master
Eremis calmly looked at the priest, while he was explaining with a friendly voice and smiling with a good heart. Out of a habit and without actually noticing, Eremis was meanwhile turning a ring at his left hand, that wasn't there anymore. Only this habit and a broad white line gave hint to the ring that had accompanied him for so long. Until that one ill-fated day that had changed everything.
Now he was mulling over what Brother Benedikt had said and created a moment of quiet.

This Brother Benedikt is unlike everybody I have met so far. Openly he confesses his faults and weak character. Untypical. No, unheard of in the ranks of the noble. Truth and his word seem to matter to him. A lot.

And Eremis didn't hate him for it. On the contrary, Eremis had come to appreciate an honest man's word and the trust it could provoke like almost nothing else in this world.

However, although challenged he didn't face the challenge head-on, but he neither flinched away from the conflict. He tries to circumvent it. He probably doesn't answer truthfully now. Does he fear any conflict? Or does he merely doesn't want to risk his joining? A healer, he said, and well he should be. I will better not put him to the front line. He would probably not act swiftly and decisively enough.

"Thank you for your information, Brother. After investigating further on the current situation and after sufficient preparations, I think we can assist you and your brothers in reclaiming your barony, if that is indeed possible and your wish. At the moment, we do not muster enough adventurers to even think about attacking a whole orcish tribe or have the coins to pay for such endeavor. But it is my wish to reinstate the Margraviate of Hochholt and to bring it to its former glory, even if it was but a small glory, and to enforce its borders against unrightful intruders, so that the people of Hochholt can live in peace. Thus, your request for help is heared and will not be forgotten."

Reassuringly he raises his tankard and toasts to Benedikt, before taking a long sip. Using the sleeve of his white tunic to wipe off the foam of the beer from his beard, he puts the tankard heavily back onto the wooden table and leans over to the priest. A strange gleam has begun to sparkle in his eyes.

"As you may have noticed, Brother, I'm not from Hochholt, I'm from far away. And I know very little about your gods. It is not my desire to point out any falseness or logical mistakes in your explanations about your god. Rest assured. Who are we to talk about them anyway!? Rather, I seek to be enlightened by what your church tells about Lord Solus, to understand what you personally belief and make of it, and to get to know you better as a man who is convinced that the gods play an active role in our lives. So, let's hear it. Now or later. But don't misjudge me for someone who thinks badly about gods."

Looking pointedly at the priest, Eremis tries to stress that his intentions are straightforward.
Then, he breaks into a laugh and points at the other two.

"I am sure, we will come to quite a collection of beliefs in our midst, don't you think, Nichuan? Bausum? You will probably have very different opinions, if I'm not mistaken. Let's hear them, too. Better now and prepared, than later and in the midst of confusion."
 

Rardian

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Confused Nichuan looked at Eremis as her name was spoken. While the two men were sharing their beliefs she had put her brush out and had begun brushing her fur. What were they talking about? One God? More Gods? There was only Nurumaya, Mother of the All-pride, but Nichuan had a feeling that it would be unwise to tell them about her now. She looked at Bausum who was as silent as her. He had just told them that he wasn't joining them on their first "mission", as Eremis would call their journey. She had hoped that he would help her with her first task for Master Berling. But first Eremis seemed to wait for her response.

"I not know of Sorlus, or others. Please tell me later. We better talk about 'mission', yes?" She turned to Bausum. "You know Poisonroot? I need for Master Berling. You can show me how it looks? Or where I find it?"

The yellow feline girl who has been serving patrons approached Nichuan mid-conversation. She just started talking to Nichuan in low growls, high hisses and soft purrs as was the way of the Girinan the Riksharr's native tongue. For the men at the table it was hard to grasp what she was talking about.* Nichuan instead answered in the common tongue, too polite to leave her new companions out of the conversation even if it was a private one. She shook her head.

"No, Wana-ni. Will talk with guild. Is important. See you all later."

If Nichuans sister Echawan felt herself rejected she didn't show it. Instead she smiled broadly, revealing her immaculate white fangs. Again she answered in Girinan, and only one word stood out from the others that made one face frown: "Eremis"**.

Nichuans ears twitched and turned to her sister and she gave her a sharp look. The heart-shaped amulet on her forehead started to slightly glow. Echawan laughed and turned away. "See later, sis," she called out over the back of her shoulder, in common this time, and nimbly climbed the stairs to the second floor of the inn. Nichuan turned to face her companions that were all looking at her.

"Family," was all that she mumbled before looking down at the table.


Translations
* Echawan addressed her sister (-ni) as "Ni". Something about the market, looking and buying, or wait: NOT buying.
** Clearly the name of Eremis was involved. Is he pretty? Something more about Starday and lights, supposedly the Festival of Lights that is held every Starday.
* "Hey Ni-ni, I'm done for today. Nis and I will head for the market later. Just looking, not buying, naturally. Do you want to join us?"
** "Will you make yourself pretty again for Eremis, as last Starday when we went to see the lights?"
 
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Stephan Hornick

Community Goblin
Staff member
Wizard of Adventure
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Adventure Builder
Adventure Master
Gervin sat alone at the long side bar looking through the leadlight windows in search of inspiration. He usually liked the afternoon quiet in the Dancing Cauldron. And usually his white swan feather danced across the parchment as lightly as snow falling on the nearby pines. Today however, he couldn't concentrate on any verse, couldn't come up with sly phrases and each description sounded crude to him.
Finally, he set the feather back into its small flask of ink and sighed in resignation. He gave up. Today was not the day he would become famous and leave his father's inn for good. He took a sip of tea instead and carefully pulled the letter from his vest pocket. Once more, he read the few crudely written lines, his cousin Eren had sent from Auheim about two weeks ago.
Adventurers had arrived, he wrote. A famous bard and a savage elf. But what gave Gervin goose bumps every time he read it, was the next part. Although Eren could hardly describe what was happening, the omnipresent fear with which he must have written this letter clang to every word. Gervin feared for his cousin and his aunt.

And even father fears for Aunt Rissa. He gave the adventurers provisions and asked them to check on her. I just hope, they are alright. Dear cousin, please may the Lord of Light protect you!

"Sour groats! Boy! Who's taken the map?"


Startled Gervin looked over at the swearing man across the room. He wore a motley padded armor, a hat with a long feather, and a fine musketeer beard, almost as sharp as the rapier at his side. But Gervins gaze only fixed on the black eye patch.

"Don't just stare! Tell me: Where is the map to the silver mines of Auheim, that had been hanging here for the last days?"

Shy and with a soft melodic voice Gervin answered him: "The adventurers have taken her with them. Three of them left shortly after breakfast. To travel to the cursed Auheim. Black rain is falling and an illness is spreading, they say. So the sergeant took Brother Benedikt and the Riksharr mage to investigate. No one travels there, Mister."

"Quit this nonesense, boy. I hear there is a reward. A handsome reward. If someone was to retrieve the silver... instead of them. Now, come here and tell me exactly how to get to Auheim the fastest way possible."
 

Morvar

Member
Faster Combatant
Jacob von Falkenstayn, baronet and self-proclaimed favorite of all females, strolled toward the Dancing Cauldron. He had set himself apart from his two remaining brothers for the rest of the day. And that was just as well.

Arthur had a mood like a bear with a toothache, only bears weren't as vigorous and as easily riled as his brother when he was in the "orc hating mood.." And Hogar was already brooding over some "significant" writings of magic since dawn.

Jacob had slipped out of the common room like a mouse, snatched some coins from Arthur's pouch, with Hogar it was too dangerous, and was now planning to have an extensive midday meal in the Dancing Cauldron.

And there was this very interesting waitress. Exotic. Curvy and so...new.

"Quit this nonesense, boy. I hear there is a reward. A handsome reward. If someone was to retrieve the silver... instead of them. Now, come here and tell me exactly how to get to Auheim the fastest way possible."

He heard the words just before he reached the door. It had become second nature to him to first make himself "invisible" and never take the direct route, so he went to the window and carefully looked through it to get a closer look at the speaker of those words.

The voice was already unpleasant. Tone and content... "TzTzTz...", Jacob made in his mind, " Benedikt would now surely blather something about respect and decency!"

He could see the speaker well now, average height, lightly armed, a rapier at his side. Gauntlet boots and a rather impressive hat with a feather. The hat reminded Jacob of a village tryst...there had been a girl wearing something like that too...but only that....

The man was obviously right-handed, the worn but neat grip of the rapier and the way he stood there testified to some combat experience. Jacob had been under the same roof with Arthur and Benedict for too long and had experienced too many run-ins with horned men not to see this by now.

He checked the fit of his half-dozen knives and slipped the small vial containing the mixture of pepper, alcohol and oil into his sleeve.

Then he put on his broadest smile. And went inside.
Oh how nice it was to be 17!
 

Rardian

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Curiously, Echawan had observed the handsome man since he confidently strode into the Dancing Cauldron. His striking features were enhanced significantly by the black eye-patch that gave him a fierce aura and told every sane being to stay away. He carried the well-kept rapier at his side and seemed ready to draw it at any time. Only the wide-brimmed hat with the long feather softened the overall impression somewhat. She didn't like how he snapped at Gervin, the innkeeper's son, whom she had grown to like in recent days. But she didn't dare interfere. Instead, she prepared the last tables for the first arrivals who would soon visit the Cauldron for a decent afternoon lunch.

She turned towards the door as a young man entered the tavern without bringing any significant attention to him. It was one of the brothers, the knife guy. What was his name? Yes, Jacob. He had a cute freckled face framed by his short blond hair. She watched him slowly crawl along one of the wooden walls. He smiled at her and brought a finger to his mouth as a sign for her not to give him away. Accordingly, she turned to her tables again but kept a close eye on what was beginning to unfold.

With fluid, almost graceful movements, Jacob crept closer to his target, the man with the rapier. In the meantime, the fencing master had presented poor Gervin with a parchment and forced him to write down the directions to Auheim and supplement them with drawings. Jacob was an experienced sneak and his target was busy. He had no trouble setting up right behind him and ...
Echawan saw the youth's gaze fall on the purse that hung well-filled from the man's belt. She could literally see Jacob struggling with himself. The opportunity seemed favorable, but if the man noticed him, he would certainly be locked up in the harbor prison. In the Golden South, they would even take his hand for a failed attempt at theft.

It looked as if Jacob had made his decision because a small knife had appeared in his nimble fingers. When the fencing master leaned forward on the table to take a closer look at what Gervin was doing he cut the purse, and let the coins silently drop into a bag of his own.

"What is the meaning of this, boy?" yelled the man at Gervin who did his best not to tremble too much. "Are you of any use? Girl, where's the ale I ordered? Why is everything taking so long?"

The fencing master suddenly turned around to address Echawan who, startled, saw Jacob nimbly dive out of reach of the man, not able to complete his transaction. The remaining coins tumbled from the ripped-open purse onto the floor and scattered all over the taproom. The sound of clinging coin was accompanied by the splashing sound of ink pouring over the table.

"What the ...?" the man asked perplexed and looked, first, at Jacob and then back at Gervin.

Wide-eyed, Echawan feared for the worst but quick as a mongoose Jacob had made his bag of stolen coins disappear, too quick for her to observe. Gervin on the other hand looked terrified at the dark liquid that was covering half of the table as well as the parchment he has been filling with detailed descriptions of how to get best to Auheim and the Silver Peaks.

"I'm so sorry, sir," Jacob exclaimed. "I was too curious and wanted to take a closer look at what he was drawing." He pointed at Gervin. "I'm very sorry to have startled you. Your sudden move must have ripped apart your purse. Please let me help you." He bent down for some nearby coins and started gathering them in his hands.

"Leave it, boy! Get out of my way! Keep!" He yelled for Merryweather the innkeeper who had just poked his head into the taproom from the kitchen to see where the commotion was coming from. "I need some towels, and a damn ale! What's wrong with you all? I feel like I'm in a madhouse!"

Jacob stealthily withdrew and on his way to a table in the back of the room threw Echawan a smile. She noted that he hadn't given the man who seemed visibly overwhelmed by this absurd situation his coins back. Thoughtfully, she looked at the silver coin that had come to a halt right in front of her. Everyone in the taproom, except Jacob, was focused on the man with the rapier who verbally lashed out at everyone, and tried to save as much from his written directions as possible. She put her foot paw onto the coin, and slowly dragged it closer to her. Who would miss one coin who had so many? She had just put the coin into the small pocket at the side of her dress when Jacob called her name. She swallowed the slight feeling of guilt and turned to him with a big smile.

"Hey, Echawan it is, right? Can you please bring me the best of the dishes of the day? I have coin to pay, and my hunger is as great as my generosity!"
 
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Morvar

Member
Faster Combatant
Jacob dropped heavily into one of the comfortable armchairs that invited him to sit at this table near the fireplace.

He grinned inwardly. The food would come soon, it didn't cost him a penny and the woman who would bring it was a very exotic and extremely interesting personality. The fact that she had pushed one of the coins toward her with her foot pleased him. As the Old Dom used to say, "Opportunity makes thieves!"

His gaze slid again to the one-eyed man. "Uncouth fellow!" thought Jacob, "He really could be a bit friendlier. "

The youngest brother of the Falkenstayn family again felt that "itch" in his right palm. His head was buzzing with plans and mind games on how he could teach this pompous and yet very dangerous man a lesson. It was like a compulsion, no matter how much his mind told him not to do it, his thoughts immediately circled around this "problem" again.
Well...he had already taken the money, at least a small part of it, a game with fire that left a pleasant tingle in his stomach. What else could he do?

His train of thought was interrupted by the waitress who brought the food.

Immediately he forgot what was on his mind just now and grinned broadly at her.

"Hello, dear lady, Echawan! Your name sings in my ears! I see the food is easily enough for two! Won't you join me? There's so little going on right now and a few minutes of your time is...really very very IMPORTANT to me! You can't refuse me!"

A feigned sad expression punctuated the last words!

Again his gaze flew over the one-eyed man, but only briefly. Caution was the mother of wisdom. The "Old Dom" had always said that, too.
 

Rardian

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Uncertainly, Echawan looked over at Merryweather, who in turn was giving the fencing master concerned looks. Apart from that, the taproom was empty. With Gervin's help, the fencing master had picked up all the coins from the floor that could quickly be found. Now Gervin was busy cleaning the ink from the table he had sullied while the man had taken another table where he could have his ale together with a meal. So far, no other guests had shown up at the Dancing Cauldron. She decided that there would certainly be enough time for a short conversation, especially since she could end it at any time if a guest should enter the Cauldron.

She turned her attention back to Jacob. Besides, she could hardly refuse a paying guest a wish, could she? Gracefully she slid into the chair opposite of him and looked at him out of her golden eyes.

"Barrhanjama," she said. "Thank you," she added a moment later, since Jacob probably didn't speak Girinan. "How can I help you? What is so imporrtant?"

She was quite proud of how much she had improved her Common in the last few days. The conversations with Gervin had helped her a lot, but also the many short talks with guests of the Cauldron, or with merchants in the market. They had given her a greater confidence to speak with strangers. She was way ahead of her two sisters! Nisalach generally spoke little, and Nichuan apparently lacked the leisure to bother with proper sentences or difficult words. She certainly didn't think about proper grammar when she sat in their shared room late into the night, staring up at the stars from the open window. About her mother Echawan was worried, though. Karlach had hardly left the room since their arrival. On that day years ago, when their caravan was attacked, and she had lost not only her husband but also her sword arm, a part of her had died and never returned to life. Echawan swallowed hard and shook away her gloomy thoughts. What was Jacob to think of her? She looked into his green eyes and smiled.
 

Morvar

Member
Faster Combatant
As Echawan settled into the chair next to him, Jacob watched her, spellbound. Never before had he seen someone who moved in such a...cat-like...way.

"Of course!" he inwardly slapped his forehead. "She's a cat, after all! Well..but not quite!"

"Barrhanjama," she said. "Thank you," she added a moment later, since Jacob probably didn't speak Girinan. "How can I help you? What is so imporrtant?"

At her first words he tilted his head slightly, they sounded strange, the intonation of the "r-sound" was like a purr. Goosebumps came over him. Pleasant goose bumps.

"YOU are important! I just have to meet you, I've never had the chance to talk to someone as special as you! My brother Benedict always says: "Keep your eyes open for the wonders of Solus and your mind free for new experiences! You, Lady Echawan, are both in my eyes, a miracle and a new experience! Where do you come from? What drives you to Holt-Lineck?"

With his hands, Jacob grasped a coin lying on the table as he looked intently and intensely at the young woman with his green eyes and began to let it wander over the knuckles of his hand, letting it suddenly disappear and reappear.

But never did the expression of attention disappear from his face.
He liked this woman. He knew that, no idea why, but he just found her sympathetic.
 

Rardian

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Even with her young years, Echawan knew better than to just fall for Jacob's sweet words. But that didn't mean she couldn't play his game, too. Besides, this was a good opportunity to improve her Common. While his brothers already followed their destined paths he seemed more like a drifter to her. One who hadn't found his place in the world, yet, just like herself. And he was young, too. She thought he was older than her, but by how much she couldn't tell. Maybe two years? He had shared his meal with her, fish from the local river, and now he was trying to impress her with that coin wandering over his fingers. Well, that was quite impressive. She sliced the fish with one sharp claw, took a fork, and guided the bite-sized morsel to her mouth, all the while watching him watching her.

"I'm from the South," she said finally, "from the Golden South. Have you hearrd of it? Our Nurrdu travelled norrth with the tobacco traders. We had no money in the city of Liskan. Herre we will make money. Well, my sisterrs will." She giggled while taking another slice of the delicious fish.

"You know Nichuan, yes? She went with yourr God brother. Nisalach? She is my ... litter-sister? Nurrhuni," she shrugged. "She will be carravan warrior later. Myself? I don't know, yet."

She looked down at herself and the dress Merryweather had lent her for taproom duty. She liked the dress because it clung to her fur better than the bulky traveling clothes that had protected her from sandy storms and rainy weather on her way north. She believed that she also owed it to the dress that the occasional patron slipped her a copper piece more than was necessary, or invited her for a meal, for that matter.

"I just know I won't be maiden forrever. But forr now, is good!"

She watched Jacob smile, almost giggle, at her last words. Did she say something funny?
 
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Morvar

Member
Faster Combatant
Listening to Echawan's words, Jacob let himself slide a furtive glance over the woman's figure. But only...a small one.

Her common was quite good, the accent gave her words something very exciting. It reminded him of the warm wind, sun and deserts.

What was a "nurrdu"? Ahh, probably the mother. "Fish she likes apparently, I must remember. And never give her a chance to get those claws on me...."

He faltered, had she really said THAT? Yes..indeed. He started grinning without being able to control it and unconsciously slid his chair a little closer. The coin in his hand paused and disappeared entirely.

"So...you don't want to stay a Maiden forever?" Resting his head in both hands on the table, he looked at her innocently from his deep green eyes.

"How do you want to...change? Can I maybe help you with that?" This was fun! Incredible fun!

His hand brushed Echawan's as if by accident as he reached for the salt. It was warm and soft.

How would she react to it? Positively? Or would he immediately have one more scar?

And then out of the blue, the thought came again. The tingling in his palm, his gaze fell on the one-eyed man. The urge increased. He heard the dice start rolling in his head.
 

Rardian

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Echawan decided to ignore his grin. It must have been something she said wrong. She thought about if she should also ignore his accidental touch when Jacob had reached for the salt shaker, because that was clearly no accident. And it felt nice. How could he help her finding something new to do? Maybe by telling her what options there were in this town, or elsewhere?

"Yes," she told him, "I want to change. Although, it is fun to meet and talk to all the many people. How can you help me? Can you show me anotherr way?"

He looked strangely at her, his head resting on his hands, with that funny look in his green eyes. She got the feeling that she was missing the point. She also noticed that his gaze frequently drifted away from her, although he was intent on giving her his full attention. He reminded her of a cub in a crib, trying to grasp the wooden stars that were hovering and turning over the crib. The cub tried to grab all the stars at once and thus wasn't catching any of them. She followed his gaze, which came to rest on the one-eyed man. She leaned closer to Jacob which quickly drew his attention back to her.

"What do you want from him?" Her voice was only a soft whisper, almost a growl. "Morre coin? Orr something else? Maybe we can help each otherr?"
 
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Morvar

Member
Faster Combatant
Ohh...apparently Echawan had noticed his glance to the one-eyed man. "Damn sharp eyes!" thought Jacob.

"What do you want from him?" Her voice was only a soft whisper, almost a growl. "Morre coin? Orr something else? Maybe we can help each otherr?"

Only now did he process what Echawan had said ALL. And his grin widened again.

"TO your first two questions, it's not like you're just leading me up the garden path and playing with me like a...uhh..cat with a mouse? I've received more than enough scars, bruises and a deeply disappointed heart for always being so gullible and naive!"

Well that was a bit...exaggerated, he had gotten scars and bruises, but his heart was still pretty much intact.

"As for your last questions...!" he lowered his voice to a whisper.

"Gold is always a reason, but with that one," he pointed furtively at the man, "it's something else. He's showing way too much interest in my brother's travel plans, and he doesn't seem particularly....care. I don't like the way he treats you, and I especially don't like the matter-of-factness with which the gun hangs at his side. I know this from my father or from Arthur, too. The man is dangerous."

Again he scratched his palm.

"Does he have a horse? Or is he on foot? That's what I'd like to find out. And...his gold...well, that would certainly be better off with me, too." He faltered, then reached for Echawan's hand. And squeezed it briefly. "Or with us?" He grinned even wider.
 

Rardian

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"Gold," her soft voice was more like a low purr. Her mind took the scenic route as Echawan was fantasizing about people clad in golden garment, living in gold covered houses, playing on golden instruments, paying everything ... with gold! She startled out of her musings when Jacob touched her paw. Surprised, she jerked back from his touch, which had been unexpectedly pleasuring. Her heart started racing a little faster and a tingling sensation ran from her paw through her body discharging into her tail that was twitching excitedly. It took her a moment to gather herself.

"Why ... Why do you want to know if he has a horrse? Oh ... you think he will go afterr ourr kurrdu? I think he might have. Therre is a horrse in the stable. Gerrvin told me about it. He could ..."

Echawan froze for a moment as her gaze drifted away for a moment. Her distraction was minuscule, only visible if someone would watch her as intensely as Jacob did. She leaned forward again, so close this time that Jacob could feel her breath brushing against his ear.

"The one-eyed man," she whispered, "is watching us!"
 
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knoppi

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Once more, Bausum entered the Dancing Cauldron, offering the guy at the counter an apple. They already knew that he wanted beer, or "Rau" as he called it. Then, like a routine, Bausum started to concentrate on the room. Those new people that arrived lately brought such a large quantity of chatter that it was hard to follow but Bausum understood more than just the spoken words. Usually it was Jacob or Eremis that he examined with the most attention. And of course the cats. It would be nice to go hunting with them, he thought. Better than with the jingling humans.

But today he had a special goal. There was this silent, clumsy guy. Teo was his name. A robe guy. Bausum had the impression that Teo might be willing to help him drag whatever was inside the Lonely Tower out. Bausum already had had a glance at the tower from some distance. The tower hat no visible entrance, so magic might help and this Teo-the-robe-guy might know the required tricks. Possibly, it was even a good idea to address him a little louder and find more volunteers.

Bausum approached Teo and asked: "He, you, shatraug. I want to visit the Tower without entrance and I'm looking for wise company. Maybe even strong company. Are you curious, too?"
 

Stephan Hornick

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Teophilius Litvak had just come down the stairs to ask the waiter Gervin for more ink and parchment. He was going to meticulously write down all the ruins he came across, already known or not known yet. After he had talked to Sergeant Eremis two nights before, he had focused on what they had discussed. But now, Eremis and his team were already gone. Gone for an adventure, and he didn't go with them.

He was just about to speak up and ask Gervin for the par, the well clothed man with the feather on his hat got the better of him.
"Sour groats! Boy! Who's taken the map?"

Teo was just as startled as Gervin. Gervin left his place at the window to help the man and didn't even notice Teo with his raised finger and open mouth. Sighing silently, Teo decided to approach the barmaiden Echawan instead. As far as he knew, she understood common quite well. So he was to go over to her, but even as he caught up with her at last - she seemed to be a master of darting here and there between the tables - and he was not - he passed by the table where Gervin was feverishly drawing a nice map for the man with the rapier.

Oh, he better had not! It happened all so very fast: Teo noticed Echawan's strange gaze toward the swashbuckler, turned around, cought the eye of the man, who in turn only then seemed to notice a young man suddenly standing behind him, turned himself, ripped his bag of silver, Teo twitched surprised, cought Gervin's pen with a finger, made him twitch and finally tip over the flask of ink.

Why?? is all that he asked himself.

He helped the man with his coins, but that man didn't really seem to appreciate it. "Out o' my way, fatty," is what he said and where Teo's help ended. At least, Gervin seemed to appreciate his help. And in the end, he received parchment and a little bit of leftover ink.

The rude man got his afternoon lunch and Gervin tried to clean the table, while Echawan sat down with the young man. Teo sat down himself in front of the message board. Gazing up at the board without that map he felt that something was missing. And then he noticed that he had sat down at the exact same spot he had two nights before.

And in his mind's eye the events of that evening unfolded once more...
 

Stephan Hornick

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Teo walks over to the group at the big table. He has watched the small commotion gather and the big man with arms like grown men's thighs proclaim that he will explore and investigate what has befallen Auheim.
Teo took his time, though, to watch as people came and went and only approached the table when everyone else had left and only Eremis sat there, alone with his ale and brooding over a list of rumors he picked up in his past week in Holt-Lindeck.

'You are the head of this new gild? I saw your post on the tavern board. I am fairly interested. Any need for a mage?"

Eremis looks up, surprised, and his lips broaden to a wide smile. He gestures to the new Riksharr brewmaiden Echawan for an additional ale for the two of them and to Teo to sit at his table.

"Indeed, my friend. I hope to create a new guild in town. An adventurer's guild called the Borderland Explorers. And I hope to fill the role as guild master as a start. That's why I asked the friendly Merryweather to use this space for its creation and the board to gather like-minded men and women. We are sure in need of anybody. And we would be honored to have attracted a studious man of magic like yourself. Come, sit, and tell me all about you. Oh, wait! I am being rude."

Eremis extends a big, strong hand towards Teo as in a late greeting.

"I'm Sergeant Eremis Gladis. My friends just call me Eremis. It is a pleasure."

Teo shakes the big man's hand and then points back at one of the other tables.

"It's a pleasure. My name ist Teophilius Litvak. And please ignore those staring at us from the table over there. They seem a bit superstitious about mages in general, I think. For no reason I may add. By the way: You don't know something about these old ruins around here?"

Eremis looks over curiously and tries to catch an eye with any of those questionly, but then only shrugs when they wouldn't even look up at him, but suddenly found a great interest in staring at their ales.

"I dare say, that I am no superstitious man, Teophilius Litvak. But I do have to confess that I know hardly anything about magic myself. Only in the past weeks during my travels with the Riksharr Nichuan from the Golden South have I occasionaly seen with my own eyes those wonders that some men call lightheartedly magic. From where I come from, the word magic is from legends of old and never have I heard anybody talk about it much. But in this area here there is an abundance of it. All the more reason to befriend those of us who know magic by heart."

There he stops himself and shakes his head laughingly about himself and mumbles a "me too?"

"Please, friend, sit and show me on the map, about which ruins you talk about, and what you have heard. Also, I'm looking forward to hearing your story, from where you came and what you intend to find for yourself in our guild."

Teo takes a seat across from Eremis. He waves at the map in general.

"Old dwarven ruins. I am sure there must be some here in the surounding. Oh, I'd love to see them for myself. Have you ever been there? Do you know their location? Perhaps we can figure them out ourselves. What treasures might there might be! And history. Or both of course!" Teo stops. "Oh, sorry, I got carried away a bit."

Eremis dismisses this with a shake of his head and a hearty laugh. "Enthusiasm is what we need more of, you hear! Never let those dreams go, I urge you. There are so many of us-" Eremis stops for a moment as if he was remembering something of his past. A flicker of sorrow that washes over his eyes? And he continues with a little bit less enthusiasm and a hint of resignation. "There are so many people without dreams nowadays. And those that have dreams, try to achieve them alone and they get bitter as the years pass." Eremis stops short without further explanations.

As if to change the subject, Eremis takes a sip of his ale and then points to a small town in the east.

"I haven't heard of any dwarven ruins, my friend, but I will keep my eyes peeled. As the old Dwarven Caravan Road is to the east from Holt-Lindeck, I would expect ruins to be somewhere here." With his finger Eremis circles the area around Auheim and the mountains, before finally setting on Auheim itself. "This is Auheim, or so it is nowadays called by the settlers and miners. I haven't heard the dwarven name yet. Anyway, it is said that it was once, hundreds of years in the past, a thriving dwarven stronghold. The dwarves still worked the gold mines in the Silver Peaks at that time. That's over here. But then there was some kind of 'curse', some people say, and as the gold was running low, the dwarves all left the area, abandoning their stronghold and moving to the east. They never came back. Strange, isn't it? The dwarves I know would never - NEVER - leave gold behind. Anyway, a dwarven stronghold thrived and fell here. All that's left are ruins and some buildings, I hear. But then, a generation later-" Eremis' finger moves up to Alt-Auheim. "-people began to settle near the river just north of the ruins. First, it was a group of gnomes and halflings, and you can still find their burrows there. But later, even humans stayed and the settlement thrived and grew bigger and bigger. As you can see, it is directly alongside the Dwarven Caravan Road, so travellers often sought to stay the night and pay in gold. That's also, what we will do in two days, apart from the gold."

Eremis takes a long sip and continues: "So, now it becomes interesting, my friend: Nowadays, the halfling settlement is called Alt-Auheim, but when it was founded, it was the original Auheim. Enthralled by the wonders that may still lie in the south and having forgotten or not believing in the 'curse', some people began to investigate the mines and they found silver. Lots and lots of silver. Growing out of the walls like roots or mushrooms, they say. Naturally enough, the people began to call the mountains Silver Peaks and the slow moving river became the Silver Linner, on which the halflings moved the silver from Auheim with boats to Holt-Lindeck, which was already a big town at that time. This is why Holt-Lindeck got so rich, some say. But let's go back to the beginning: The magistrate says that there was one gnome who acquired the land from Holt-Lindeck and the mining rights right from the start. He began to settle exactly on top of the old dwarven ruins, and many people followed his call for help and the prospect of riches. He somehow managed to convince almost all people of the former Auheim to move south and settle near the Silver Peaks. And those that did not move because friends moved, probably moved because no one was left. As the whole village had moved, the people began to call the new settlement also Auheim and began to refer to the original settlement as Alt-Auheim or Old Auheim. Only a handful of people are believed to still live in Alt-Auheim. And Auheim prospered with the mines and the silver flowed like milk. But now-"

And Eremis points to the Request for Adventurers at the message board behind him.

"Now, one gnome, Frundir Samtstein, one of the gnome and human miners of Auheim, came to Holt-Lindeck to warn us of a terrible plague. 'Black Snow over Auheim' were his last words and all the color had left his skin, hair and eyes. My companions and me will travel to Auheim at sunrise the day after tomorrow. You should come with us. We sure need magical assistance and a learned scholar and we will probably find dwarven ruins and maybe even relics. So, how say you?"

Teo beamed.
"Gold and riches? I wouldn't say no to this. I think I will settle for a room here at the Cauldron. Just have to make same preperations in advance. Avoid .... errr talking to some mages in my hometown, transfer some of my goods. The usual business. I might not be able to join you too soon, I'm afraid. But I will join you as soo as possible. Wow ... really going on adventures now. You won't regret it, I promise!"

And in the end, Teo shot a glance at the people gossiping at a near table. Right there, where the ink now tried to soak into the wood.

" .... Regardless of what others might say. Promise me to tell me of your adventures!" And he had and then they had left this morning.

Teo was still thinking about the evening and what Eremis might experience right now, out there, as suddenly a hooded figure approached him and asked:

"He, you, shatraug. I want to visit the Tower without entrance and I'm looking for wise company. Maybe even strong company. Are you curious, too?"
 
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Stephan Hornick

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(I've changed the position of the map, so that it can be looked at even better and to make room for your posts and requests for adventurers.)
 

Stephan Hornick

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(I rewrote the story of Auheim and how it came to be. It seemed to have been confusing to read at my first go, now it should be clearer, I hope. And I hope that this is all true, as I am also guessing.)

EDIT: (I also corrected Frundir to be a gnome, not a halfling.)
 
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