Day 10 (later) — Dear Diary, In the rush of describing how I got the Whispering Cairn job, I forgot that the half-orc Vakka had claimed to be a cleric, too. Do we need two clerics, I ask you? Are not my skills enough? Although, truly Diary, how would these strangers know of my abilities?
After we’d gotten the mugshot and an advance on our pay, I found myself at a table with Vakka, the other half-elf Zuffy and two strangers. Well, more strangers than these people I’ve fallen in with. I had not and have not forgotten the cruel words that Zuffy spoke against Ehlonna. What sort of creature is she to mock the goddess so? Suddenly Vakka threw an arm over me and said, “Us clerics – we gotta stick together, right? Right?” I was shocked by her words — I had no idea she was a cleric — but glad to have an excuse to ignore the woman across from me. I deliberately turned a shoulder to Zuffy. Yes, I know! I was deliberately rude. No doubt my actions were clear enough to her. Oh Diary, how ever shall I heal her in battle? I pray that Ehlonna guides my hands to do their duty when the time comes.
Vakka was talking: “Did I ever tell you how I became a cleric? I was in a bar.” She glanced around. “I don’t think it was this bar. But hell, they all look alike, eh? Especially come last call, eh? Eh?!” She laughed.
“I think I stepped on this orc’s foot, yeah. And he was out of his chair so fast, a broken bottle in his hand. And I thought, ‘Well, Vakka, that’s life. At least you go to your god good and drunk.’ And then I thought (she leaned into me) or did Olidammara speak to me? Anyway, the thought came to my mind, as they say, You don’t have to die. Why not live and drink again tomorrow? Well, that was enough for me! True words, eh little lady? If I’m dead, I can’t drink! And that would be a gods damned shame.” She went to slam her glass on the table, for emphasis, and missed, sloshing liquid on my leg and hers.
She leaned back and grinned, showing long fangs. “It’s a living. Showing folks how wine (she gestured with her glass), women (she patted my leg) and song (her free hand waved vaguely towards the piano) do honor to Olidammara, and to all the old gods.” She seemed to lose her thought. “Live! Live and drink and honor god….. And that’s how I became a cleric.”
To be polite, I thought to share my own tale of how the Maiden of the Forest chose me. “My tale is more simple, I fear. But my calling as true. (I was being polite, Diary — as you well know! A drunken bar fight is a call to god? I think not!) My mother had sent me to the groves to look for fallen limbs of the Mahdrone tree — it is our sacred tree and the lifeblood of my village (I explained helpfully). They had to be of a certain length and width since she was going –”
From across the table a voice broke in. “It’s late. We should turn in.” Zuffy stood up and drained her glass. “Good little girls should be in bed.”
“Aye? Is it as late as all that?” Vakka stretched her arms over her head. “Very well. Sleep peacefully, little Ari. Our last fluffy beds for a while, yes?”
Day 8 — Dear Diary: It was an eventful day! I finally arrived in the town of Diamond Lake. I know that Ehlonna has guided my steps here. It is here, in this …. well, it is kind of small. And muddy. But here, in this village I will begin to fulfill my destiny. Walking along the path — oh diary, I want to capitalize it “My Path”! Because it is, you know. My Path. I don’t want to seem proud, not even to you. I know that what I have to do is difficult and dangerous. To earn the sort of money Mahdrone needs, I will have to be a prodigious adventurer. But I am young — the youngest of the chosen Champions — and that gives me a great advantage.
What was I saying? Oh! Walking the path that led me, as if the goddess herself lit the way, to this village, to this simple little village, I knew that I would find work and my first chance at glory. And I have! Oh, I have. Just inside the gates, I saw a flyer that said that adventurers looking to make gold should “inquire at the Feral Dog.” Yes, I know! It’s like a novel — “Inquire at the Feral Dog.” Something or someone called the Obsidian Watch put up the flyer. I had enough gold to stay the night at the inn, so I’d be on the spot, as they say. Will I be able to sleep?!?!
Day 8 (later) Dear Diary — I cannot sleep. And it’s not from excitement. There is some sort of dwarfish polka band playing downstairs and the noise is …. well, it is noisy. I can say that.
(Later) I made a vow that I would do my best to not kill unnecessarily on my adventures. Goddess grant me the strength to keep my vow. I want to kill the the accordion player.
Day 9 — The great room of the Feral Dog is large. I can see the wretched piano and stage area that ruined my sleep last night. I found an open spot at a table near there and away from the fire. I want a good vantage spot to see how people act and what questions they are asked by the Obsidian Watch.
The steward just brought over a drink menu. I am quite puzzled by the names of some of these drinks. I don’t know what a Swinging Ball Sack might be. Or a Snog for that matter. And the prices are quite out of my league. That is until I begin to earn gold. And even then, the gold is for the village and not for my belly!
When he comes back around, I shall order the fried water. It is quite the cheapest thing on the menu. That and a bowl of the edamame.
Over my shoulder, I see a creature perhaps a small troll or something, setting up a table. Is this the Obsidian Watch? More later, diary.
Day 10 —As I write this I am officially an adventurer! Yesterday is a bumble in my head. I remember queueing along with other people to talk with the creature of the Obsidian Watch. There was a dwarf in front of me and a female human behind me.
I was too nervous to speak. And then there was a booming voice and this orcish woman was looming over me and I am tall for a half elf. She wrapped her arms around me and the human. “Look Grrriel! Human women! In line!” And she laughed as if this were the funniest thing she’d ever seen. I was quite put out — me a human! I tried to think of a devastating comment but before I could, the human laughed and said “Put ‘er there! I’m Mawley and this is, ah — what’s your name?” “Me?” My voice came out like a squeak. “I, I am called Ariel.” The other orc spoke. “Ariel and Grriel! Good one! Vakka, did you hear?” The one called Vakka called over her shoulder “I’m getting drinks. Waiting is thirsty work. What do you want humans?”
“Oh, I have my water.” I held up my bottle to show. “You buying?” asked Mawley. Vakka laughed and nodded. “A Snog for me, thanks.”
All the talk and crowding was very unsettling and I turned back around to face the table. You could barely see the creature for the piles of papers. Closer on, I could tell it was a half draon, tho I’ve never met one before! The line was getting smaller. There were only 3 or 4 people in front of me now. I was a little worried because I could see that at least one was a cleric, too. I should have thought ahead to remove the flyer at the gates when I saw it. Ehlonna forgive me — She knows that my heart is pure.
Behind me I heard the loud voices again. “Cousin! Cousin! Come back — we are beseiged. The gnomes have arrived! More drinks! Small beer, if you please. Get it? Small beer!” I have not seen gnomes before, so I had to look. Oh Diary, they are so cute! There were two of them. One in robes and the other in leather. Happy faces, little voices and they are more lively and bright eyed then even the kulu-kulu bear. I was trying to keep up with the flow of talk as the two of them determined how they might be related when Vakka spoke to me.
She thrust a tall glass into my hand. “Here you go, my lady. My fellow cleric, eh? Drink up!”
I looked at the dark liquid, slightly frothy in the glass. “What, ehm, what is it?” I sipped a bit of it. Gingery, fizzy and cool. “It’s a Swinging Ball Sack, it is. Good for what ails you. What’s your god game? Me, I’m in tight with Olidammara.”
“Oh yes?” I wanted to be polite. “The Maiden of the Forest, Ehlonna claimed me as her own.”
Vakka frowned, “Maiden of the Forest…. I can’t say –” She was interrupted by another voice. A willowy half elf was standing beside her. “No more a maiden than you, or I, dear orc. Speak true, as my mother always said.” She took the glass from the orc’s hand and sipped it and handed it back. “Ugh, inferior Djinn ruins a drink.”
I was speechless at her words about Ehlonna. I turned blindly away and there was the human. “So Mawley, you are a fighter?” Her words were drowned out by Grriel yelling. She gestured strongly to someone at the door. “Over here! Here we are! You’re late.” A halfling slid past the bouncer at the door and walked over, grinning. Grriel slapped her on the back. “Well met! Well met!” She looked around with her hands on her hips. “This, this is a party, if ever I saw one. We shall do well together. Gnomes and a halfling, a human for seasoning, elves and us! It is better to be a group and then we’ll get hired easily.”
“Right!” said Vakka. “What’s the job, again?” Mawley held up the flyer. “There’s cairns to check out.”
“Excellent! Right up my alley. Wait, what’s a cairn?” I was quiet, because I wanted to know, too.
“Cairns are cairns! Piles of rocks” said Mawley.
“With dead people under them.” said one of the gnomes. The one with robes on, Kurboom. “I’m an expert in cairns.” said the other, her name is Fizznip, I think.
“I’m an expert in dead people” said Zuffy, the other half elf.
I turned back to see that I was at the head of the line now. The creature at the table looked up at me waiting. I said a silent prayer to Ehlonna. “Hello. I am Ariel and I — (someone tapped my shoulder) and WE are a band of adventurers. We six (Eight! Someone cried behind me). We eight — and I swept my arm around to show her — are just the team to take on the job. We –” Grriel and Vakka were on either side of me now. “We got fighters and clerics and gnomes. We’ll take the job. Happy to help out a fine half dragon like yourself. Don’t mention it! What’s the pay?”
The creature cocked her head and smiled. “What are your qualifications? Can you investigate a crime scene?”
“Oh aye” said Vakka. “There was this one time when I won a drinking contest — where was that, cousin? And –”
“What my cousin means is Yes. Yes, we have helped the police with their inquiries before. In fact, Chica here (she thrust the halfling forward) was a deputy constable back in her village.” Before the half dragon or Chica could process this huge lie (because I later found out it was a lie!), Fizznip, the leather-clad gnome was at my elbow. “Who are we hunting, mister? Time’s a-wasting. Daylight’s burning! Chop! Chop!”
The half dragon was silent for a moment and then she said “I am called Acgar. I am with the Obsidian Watch. Here’s the person we’re looking for. You’ll get 348 gold for the job. I want him or evidence of his where abouts found.” She handed me a drawing of a half dragon. The gnome hooted. “348 gold each?!”
“No, that’s 348 gold total” replied Acgar. “348 gold for me? She turned around. “I’ll share it with you guys. You’re my friends after all.”