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4 Tarsakh 1357, Zazesspur, Tethyr
The notices appeared in the early hours of the morning, and were posted around the city in the places where adventurers tended to congregate: the inns and pubs, the equipment shops, the mercenary and trade houses, and the brothels. Printed on thick parchment, headed with the Mark of Helm's church and signed with the seal of the High Watchknight and Lord Mayor's office, both melted into wax, they attracted small crowds of interested readers, pushing and shoving to get a better look.
"His Holiness, Bertram, The Field Marshal and Pontiff of the Church of Helm in Tethyr, in consultation with His Grace, Grand Duke and Lord Mayor of Zazesspur, Alain Axelschmidt, has, this day, issued a call for adventurers willing to serve the people of Tethyr as protectors. The following conditions prevail throughout the land, and are abhorrent to the Vigilant God and all law-abiding folk;
MONSTERS now encroach upon lands which once were free of their predation;
BANDITS AND BRIGANDS now plague the people, and imperil trade and commerce by harassing both rural folk and trader alike;
FOREIGN POWERS now meddle in the unstable politics of the region;
GENERAL CHAOS AND DISREGARD FOR THE LAW are rampant, threatening not the rich in their cloistered villas but the poor and the helpless.
The Church of The Most Holy Guardian, together with the Office of the Lord Mayor, seeks adventurers of every speciality to act on behalf of the common folk of this land. We seek to send able guardians as emissaries of the Church and of the city of Zazesspur to areas of the country most in need to aid. In return for noble service rendered, we are authorized to offer monetary dispensation, investiture as lawgiving marshals, landholds, and the forgiveness of Helm and the secular authorities for minor criminal offenses which may colour your past and cloud your conscience.
Assemble today at the Temple Vigilant at noon. Worthy applicants free of binding responsibility to spouse, spouses or children may apply. May Helm stand between you and the dangers you will face."
Helm was looking after Hezar this day.
It had been 6 months since he last made a foray into the city. He had noticed increased banditry of late, but had not thought much of it. Mostly Hezar had been focused on how routine his life had become. But after forcing his way through the crowd to the flier...
This is it. An opportunity to make something of myself.
Hezar looked to the sun. Only half an hour until noon. That gives me just enough time.
Hezar arrives at the Temple 15 minutes early. Knowing he may be tested, he takes a moment to sharpen his arrows, his axe, his dagger, and his spear. He wants to be sure that he looks every bit as capable as he can.
He scans the crowd looking for other potential adventurers among those who are just hoping for a few gold pieces.
Perception 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7
Finding himself blinded by his own excitement Hezar moves find himself a perch slightly above the crowd.
Perhaps I will stand out here to others. I must not waste this opportunity!
OK I am boarding a long flight now. I hope someone talks to me while I am gone. Please bot if neccessary.
Well, 'bout time a dwarf caught a break.
Mining was drudging work, and it was in limited demand. Furthermore, only so much satisfaction (and income) could be gained from practicing his drills and training routines every day; humans couldn't really appreciate the way dwarves fought, so there wasn't much demand for that sort of thing either, it seemed.
Long as this holy man spends more time giving out work 'n he does preaching, this ought to be worthwhile. Be good to finally have somethin interestin to write about.
Securing his gear and completing his morning journal entry, Belgrin hikes up to the temple and finds himself a spot within the assembly, making sure his shield is strapped to his arm and his maulaxe hangs visibly at his belt.
They must be pretty desperate to lay out their problems in such an open manner.. and to offer such lovely rewards too.
Janiries would read the notice with a faintly amused look on her lips, while eating a fairly good breakfast of pepper cheese and Amnish blackbread, washed down with Purple Hill cider. It had taken a while to find an inn suitable for an Elf like her in this human 'city' called Zazesspur, but find one she had (even if it had technically been a brothel), and the food wasn't half bad for human fare. The prospect of money was certainly appealing, as was the opportunity to show these people exactly what a Sun Elf could do.
It was with those thoughts in mind that she found herself heading to the Temple Vigilant just before noon, after paying up her tab at the inn and leaving a letter to be sent off to relatives back home, wearing her best looking clothes and Elven crafted leather armour, with a longbow slung over her shoulder and rapier at her side.
Elur reads the notice, a faint curve to her lips. So this is the notice they wanted me to see, she thinks to herself. She wanders the streets of Zazesspur, watching the people go about their business. The monotony of their days helps her decide. It's been too long since I've had to really struggle to survive. It'll be fun. With a small giggle Elur goes to gather her things and prepare for whatever came.
That's how she found herself walking into the temple grounds, small pack on her back, at noon. She had traded her skirts for a short pair of britches, and done up her hair. It was her favorite style for meeting people, with the coloring she had, it almost looked like her hair was aflame. Never failed to make an impression.
Once in the courtyard she looked around to see who had come. Then standing on her toes, she looked to see if any of her priests, that's what she called them, were nearby.
Perception: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (17) - 1 = 16
Hezar almost falls off his perch when approached by an elf, carrying a bow no less.
Where are my manners. My name is Hezar. He says offering his hand.
|Duvall of Helm|
The Temple Vigilant is a fortress like building of dark grey stone that sits well back from the main street, barricaded by tall walls and heavy steel gates. Two obelisks stand on either side of the main gate, each topped with the eye of Helm facing the four cardinal directions, likely enameled onto the stone.
A large crowd has gathered, seeking employment or, for some, perhaps merely some gold, or maybe just to be seen. Youths barely out of puberty, eager to prove themselves, old sailors and mercenaries, and common folk with little more than their fists or a club to arm themselves with form the bulk of the group. There do seem to be a few individuals of competence - a grizzled human woodsman, an entrancing fire genasi, a quiet moon elf warrior, a dour dwarven fighter and a lovely sun elf armored lightly in leather armor are amongst the notables.
After what seems like an hour long wait, the assembled throng quiets as two figures step out into the street. The first is a short (perhaps not five feet tall) woman of not more than 25 winters. Her exotic features may indicate some elvish blood; her brown hair is shorn close, adding to the sternness of her countenance. She is armored in shining silver plate mail, with a tabard of crimson and grey, showing the eye of Helm inside a gauntlet.
The other figure is a human man, of average height and build, his features nondescript save for a scar running down his face and over his right eye. His light features and brown hair would seem to mark him as a northerner. His plate armor is a deep, gray matte colour, and his tabard, though the same colour as his companions, is marked with the eye of Helm atop a stepped pyramid.
Both look out over the crowd for several moments. Then, they begin walking amongst the crowd. Every so often, they stop to talk to someone, sometimes nodding their heads curtly, othertimes smiling and offering their mailed hand. Those to whom they offer their handshake are directed inside the gate, to the courtyard. They seem to be targeting the most competent members of the assembled crowd.
The elven woman's lips turn up a little in a smile as Hezar starts to speak in Elvish, and Janiries responds to Hezar in kind, taking his hand and shaking it.
Janiries, and it's a pleasure. Well, I suppose we'll find out plenty about the situation with the bandits, along with the other threats to this land.
Upon spotting the Helmites enter the street, she'd switch back to common and point them out to Hezar, waiting for them to approach the two of them.
@ Janiries and Hezar:
He offers his hand to both of you, Janiries first, then Hezar. He smiles warmly. Hezar, if you accept he claps you on the shoulder while shaking your hand. Janiries, he bows his head respectfully while shaking yours. A slight blush appears on his cheeks.
After a moment's pause Elur brushes the bits of straw from her hand. I think there is something I could offer to you and your group, she says snapping her fingers with a flourish. The straw Elur had been playing with flashes as the pieces catch fire. Elur only lets them burn on the ground for a moment before stepping on the small flame as she brushes past Anise saying, But I count it as only slightly more important than my pretty face. Elur then makes her way through the crowd without waiting for a response.
I would be honored sir.
Waiting for Janiries to make her way he follows. Excited and frightened at the same time.
A tall, lithe Elven warrior, wearing a long sword and a longbow strapped to his back, appears among those waiting to be chosen. He does not speak those around, then he does glance at a beautiful Sun Elf, nodding to her in recognition.
He replies back in Elven "I would be honored, perhaps this will clear my name."
As the adventurers gather in the courtyard, Janiries would turn first to Ariael and speak to him in Elven.
Then, she'd turn to everyone and address them all in common.
"This everyone? Seems like we have a competent group being gathered, as well as a dwarf."
Janiries would wink down to Belgrin, clearly joking.
Once again amazed at seeing another elf, Hezar would bow.
He offers his hand to Ariael.
Once done he looks at the others assembled.
Those of you that I have not met yet. I am Hezar, local woodsman.
Never comfortable with all eyes on him. He pauses as he waits for any replies. He leans on his spear as he does.
After a few minutes, fifteen selectees stand in the courtyard of the Temple, waiting for further instruction or direction. Most are human, with a few elves, two dwarves and a halfling balancing the group. A few talk quietly to one another, though most are content to wait quietly for further developments.
After several minutes, the two Helmite priests return to the courtyard and the disgruntled mob outside begins to disperse. They speak quietly together for a couple of minutes; the female priest seems agitated, while the male Helmite seems to be trying to calm or placate her.
Perception check DC 17 to hear a snippet of their conversation:
Female Helmite: We shouldn't be going outside the church for such an important issue. How can we trust them? Elves, for Gods' sake? A fire genasi? They don't care what happens to a human village.....
Male Helmite: Anise, they volunteered to help ...
Anise: Mercenaries, Aidan! That's how far we've fallen!
Aidan: We need the help. We're stretched to the breaking point, we've taken on too much and now people are suffering.
Anise: It's not our fault this stinkhole of a nation is in such a mess! If they had proper leadership...
Aidan: It's not about blame, pipsqueak, we all took an oath. We protect, we don't get to decide the politics of the nation. I'd forgotten that your family had such noble aspirations before you joined. We'd have to get you a royal stepstool for you to ascend the throne, or maybe you could step on a peasant's back.....
Anise: Enough with your damn jokes! Helm's shield, don't you take anything seriously? Katleena is out there, she could be dead for all I know!
Aidan: I know - I'm sorry, Ani. Let's just get these folks up to Berty's office then. Sooner they know what's ahead, sooner we'll know if they'll help. Drinks later?
Anise: You're buying, dirt for brains. Good luck with the rabble.
The male Helmite turns to the assembled group as his compatriot leaves. Thank you all for volunteering. I am Aidan, leftenant to Bertram, the head of this temple. Bertram would very much like to meet you. We want you to know what we're hoping to accomplish, where you'd be going. I'm sure you have other questions as well. First group up: Hezar, Belgrin, Elur, Janiries and Ariael. Please follow me, and please, no drawing weapons or loosing spells without justification.
The church itself is a sturdy stone edifice, decorated with stained glass depictions of saints and moral tales relevant to Helms' worship. Aidan seems to be avoiding the public areas of the temple. The path he leads you on has many stairs and narrow passageways; it seems built more for defence than for worship. You walk in silence for several minutes, the quiet broken only by your echoing footsteps and the whispered exchange of password between your guide and the guardians at each of several checkpoints.
Eventually, you reach a large room with tall ceiling. The walls are lined with bookshelves; a large, rectangular table is in the middle of the room, covered with maps and scrolls. Large wooden doors lead out to a balcony overlooking the grand Main Street of Zazesspur. Two young men, members of the church of Helm, stand awaiting you. Aidan introduces them: Duvall, priest of Helm, and Landon, inquisitor. He then leaves, promising to return with Bertram.
Duvall and Landon, you guys are up! You can introduce yourselves to your prospective party mates :-)
1d20 + 4 ⇒ (9) + 4 = 13
Welp, completely forgot about Keen Senses adding a +2 to my Perception, but even with a +2 it's not enough. Grrh.
Following behind Aiden as he leads the group through the temple, Janiries would spend her time admiring the stained glass works until they reached the room with Duvall and Landon in.
"Ah, you must be our minders on this mission." Grinning slightly to the two Helmites before she continues "I'm Janiries, and it's a pleasure."
perception1d20 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 = 18
Well, fine pair we've got ourselves employed to, here. Don't tell me she's bout to send us on a rescue mission...
"Belgrin Stoneshield's the name." Raising his strapped shield slightly in indication, the dwarf regards the group and follows.
Perception: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (3) - 1 = 2
Elur follows the Helmite, attempting to stare at everything at once. When introduced to the two men, Elur frowns briefly, but a moment later she is smiling in a way that suggests that smiling is the only thing those lips could ever do. Elur, she says, proffering her hand. Minders? I don't know that anyone could mind me, but you're welcome to try. A grin dances across Elur's face, suggesting that she's joking.
After the introductions are complete, Elur turns to the two "minders," Will Trillar be here with us today?
@DM I hope you don't mind me throwing this in here. If it's a problem, let me know and I'll stop. I just know it's something Elur would care about.
The young man introduced as Landon nods his head in greeting to each in turn as they introduce themselves, smiling and responding to Janires' comment, "I trust you don't require minding ma'am." then turning to the fiery woman, "I am sorry i don't know of a Trillar, my duties tend to keep me away from the church for prolonged periods of time. Is he a member of this congregation?"
Perception1d20 + 6 ⇒ (8) + 6 = 14
Two groups...must be something serious. Quite the diverse group here right now. Any the prohibition on loosing spells or drawing weapons without justification?! What is that about?
Hezar. Pleased to meet you both.
Hezar stands quietly toward the back. Listening and observing.
"I'm certain that I don't, but our employers might think otherwise. It's not like the Helmite church to hire mercenaries, after all."
Janiries would look over the books as she talks to the group.
"Not that I mind, as long as the coin's good. Fine accommodation here isn't cheap!"
|Duvall of Helm|
After Aidan leaves, and his fellow Helmite, Landon, speaks, the other young man waiting in the room steps forward and bows his head slightly.
"I am Duvall - greetings to all of you in the name of the Vigilant One."
He is clean shaven with shoulder-length brown hair and brown eyes. He wears full plate and carries a warhammer on his hip; a shield, crossbow, and iron-shod staff rest in a corner. His accent is northern and he replies to Elur. "I know the name Trillar - I heard it on my journey to Tethyr from my home in Helm's Hold, far to the north. Where do all of you hail from?"
My family has lived in the forest for the past two generations. That is where I live now. A few times per year I travel here.
Hezar says when the newcomer's eyes come to rest on him.
A robust young woman hurries into the room, carrying a large tray laden with food, setting it down on the large table but away from the most prominently displayed maps. The tray has simple foods; cheeses, cuts of meat, bread and butter, some fruit and simple sweetcakes from the local marketplace. She is followed moments later by a halfling, carrying a similarily large tray. This one has drinks - water, tea and coffee, and an aromatic red wine.
Surveying the group, the woman says Milord Bertram is expectin' a short delay before he can meet all of you. Aidan asked that you be brought some refreshment so ye poor darlings won't faint away with hunger. C'mon Ant, let's leave em be, to descend like locusts 'pon such fine fare!
Followed closely by the halfling, the serving girl arrives at the door just as Aidan is returning. Ah, Janelle, good work! Your ability to carry massive trays of food will be Tethyr's salvation! He moves aside to allow them passage; when he turns back to you, Janelle gives him a firm smack on the mailed rump. She calls back over her shoulder Enjoy yer lunch, ya cheeky bugger!
Aidan smiles sheepishly, his face red. She's, umm, still learning the protocol we use around here....so, yes, like she said, Bertram is delayed. We've had a new development present itself. Please, have something to eat. If you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer them. Bertram will be briefing you shortly, but no reason to keep you in the dark until then.
The notice I responded too spoke of many problems. I myself have seen more organized bandit activity in and around the forest. I had thought it was just an upswing in banditry, but now I begin to think that something larger is afoot.
"Ah, the advantages of working for a wealthy institution. Good food!"
Janiries would practically hop over to the table and get some herself some cheese, meats and bread, as well as pouring herself some wine.
"So, you wanting us to take out some specific, identified threat, or are we just to head out and try and cut down on banditry in general?"
Aidan gives a grim smile. Hezar, isn't it? You're right - there has been a lot more organization to their attacks of late. Sometimes, though, what appears to be simple banditry isn't what it looks like. Sometimes, other parties may act, hiding their actions under the cloak of common brigandry. The question then becomes, who are they, and what do they want?
Taking himself a drink of water, Aidan watches Janiries. His eyes grow a little wide as he observes her eager plundering of the food tray. We had intended to ask that you take bandit activity in hand, but another job has come up. We've lost all contact with a small but strategically important mining village a few days travel to the east. Until today, that is. He takes another drink and surveys the food for a moment before seeming to catch himself. We've had someone from the village ride into town today. She was sick and raving when she was carried in; Bertram and Trillar are tending to her now.
Hezar says nothing, but reaches for a goblet and some of the wine. He continues to listen.
"Mmmm, delicious!" Janiries would happily eat the food as she listens to Aiden talk, nodding occasionally to show that she's following along.
"So, go to the mining village, figure out what's going on and put a stop to it? Should be easy enough for an elf of my abilities, especially with this lot around."
Aidan shakes his head at Ariael's question. I don't know. I don't know what tidings she brings. She did look like Myrkul's hand had passed over her, but with Helm's blessing and a little luck, they may be able to save her. Then maybe we can get some answers.
Looking at Janiries, Aidan nods. That's likely the job which will be assigned. That mine is critically important - it's our sole independent source of ore. Everything else either has to be imported via Myratma, or brought overland via Ithmong. Given the current political tensions, being dependent upon Ithmong for anything seems unwise. I hate to say this, but if the people are lost, the mine itself must still be secured.
|Duvall of Helm|
Duvall listens to the conversation while pouring a cup of coffee (he's come to love the drink since moving south), and grabbing a sweat cake. Once the conversation pauses, he says, "When do we need to leave for the mine? The sooner the better, I'd say."
He then looks over at Belgrin and nods. "The Watcher must have guided you here, good Dwarf. He knew we would need you for this mission."
I agree. Other than these two brave men. Hezar gestures to Landon and Duvall, Is the church able to offer us any assistance? Supplies? Anti-plague? Resoratives?
"All I know is this: if someone's planning to kill off me cousins in the mountains, they'll hafta BLEED for it. We'll see ta that. I'll look after yer mine, but if I have any say, me cousins come first. mountain's not goin anywhere, and we can always come back for it later."
Belgrin grabs for a piece of meat and returns to leaning on the wall. "I say let's get whatever we need and be off. Don't want to miss the action, if there's any to be had."
Turning to Duvall as she knocks back some of the wine, Janiries would indicate she wants to speak, then make people wait as she swallows.
"Aaah.. now, while I admire your enthusiasm Duvall, I think it'd be a smart move to take some time to prepare for this expedition, get some equipment together and sort out our pay."
"The pretty blonde is quite correct about that. Just off the top of my head, some items we should get include some maps of the area, maps of the town and, if possible, maps of the mine. Given that it's a mine system, some sort of spelunking gear might be in order, and with it taking a few days to get to this mining village, some horses and camping gear couldn't hurt."
She turns back to the food and tosses a bit of cheese into her mouth, swallowing before continuing.
"That's just off the top of my head, that is. I'm sure others can think of gear we might need."