This meeting had the party wandering all over Ponyboro. I was paying special attention to the way they talked to the populace and what kind of things they were saying. Most of what they do (or any good game world) would and will come back to them as the campaign progresses and their behavior was going to start to impact the way the NPC's (ie: everyone else!) were going to treat them.
Write up follows:
We reconvened the game on Watermonth the 3rd, effectively the first month (and week) of autumn. We were in our newly renovated home and were discussing the Dargan Folley books in details – trying to explain some of the things we had discovered to not only Zoltan and Gwyn (who had not had the opportunity to read such tomes), but also to bounce ideas, notes, comments, or other points and items of interest to one another.
There was much discussion and everyone had many points that were not only well thought, but also generated much inter-party discourse. Eventually the evening wound down and we decided that since we were leaving on the morning of the 5th, we had a good day remaining back in Orihalcus before we were going to depart. After work (usually around 3:30/4:00), Puck was going to go back Sir Walter Slaine's Manorhouse and spend some time going through the records there one last time, hoping to dig through the genealogy records if they were there and available. Meanwhile, Zoltan (and Detheron) were going to pay a visit to Malcath's Traders to speak with him about any rare or strange herbs or the like he might have ended up getting from his counterpart in Ponyboro (Vermyzier).
On the 4th we awoke early and did our duties as needed until the majority of the work day ended. Zoltan and Detheron went to Malcath's, the gnomish trader's shop was busy. With the influx of settlers coming out to Orihalcus, he has had more business, much more than he usually had before. We had to wait a few minutes for him to speak with us, but once he did so, Zoltan and Detheron wasted no time getting to the meat of their visit. Malcath had no knowledge of druids so to speak, but he did admit that roughly every 3 months or so, he would get some rare Tarbark Mushrooms from Vermyzier's in Ponyboro.
Tarbark Mushrooms don't grow locally and the fungus is poisonous to harvest. Principally it's used as an ingredient in a soporific potion and when he does get some in (a small bag – containing roughly 6-8 mushrooms), One-Eared Quint buys them to aid in his physicking and doctoring of those who get injured while working and need some stitching. He informed us also that the small bag usually sells for about 85 crowns (a rather pricey amount for half a dozen unrendered mushrooms) and that it often goes the first or second day he has it to trade.
The two of them then purchased feed, food, rations, and some other light supplies for the journey to come, paying for their purchases and bringing it back to the house that evening.
As for Puck, his efforts weren't nearly so productive. When he arrived at Slaine Manor and made his way to the library/records room – he was surprised to see Sir Walter's nephew, Kalt sitting there. The rude and arrogant young nobleman was reading a number of books and the two of them engaged in some verbal sparring – Kalt telling Puck to go and get him some new wine. Puck did so, attempting to fire off a charm person spell on his way back in at Kalt, but it didn't seem to affect him. When Puck indicated he wanted/needed the tome that Kalt had pulled aside, Kalt put down the book he was reading, took the other one, and informed Puck he could have it when he was done.
Some stewing and silent grumbling followed and Puck tried to reverse psychology Kalt about the tome he wanted, but the nephew got up and made some jibe about the smell or the company, and then left – tome in tow, supposedly going back to his room to read it in peace. Puck was thwarted.
At home that night, the party discussed what had happened and what they learned or didn't learn. Karis divided out the 300 the party had gotten for half payment for the adventure they took and then the half ogre said he was going to pay a visit to Sir Walter. Once there, he was informed that the nobleman was eating dinner but he was let in and welcomed. Slaine's wife Arian was there, as well as their two younger daughters Elisa and May. And Kalt.
The girls were excused and Karis reminded Sir Walter about them leaving the next day. Mentioned that since they were going out, Orihalcus could use the 4 draft horses they brought back in exchange for stabling fees for them. It was agreed. Then he gave a letter to Sir Walter to send off to Dragonhole, to the Melbourne monastery. And finally, he informed Sir Walter about a tome that Kalt had taken (and was reading at the table) and that Puck could REALLY look at the tome and needs it sort of now, since we are leaving tomorrow morning.
More verbal jibes with Kalt and Arian getting upset and then Kalt leaving, book in tow again, to go back to his room. Sir Walter was frustrated but asked Karis to be the better person in this matter. We were wished good luck and well wishes – and then Karis left.
The next morning, we went down the stablers and made sure our mounts were outfitted (for Karis and Zoltan) as well as taking the cart (we have a cart and a wagon now) and the two sturdy mountain ponies (being as it was decided that if we did go overland, would be better off to have a cart as it could maneuver the wilderness with less trouble). And then we were off. The trip to Ponyboro was uneventful. There were more people on the roads then there had been before.
In addition, the group saw a patrol of 14 of Cedric's Dragoons – professional soldiers and peacekeepers handpicked and charged to defend the safety of the County. The leader was named Yanz and was succinct, but courteous as he informed Karis that they were riding off to Orihalcus. Was a bit worried as Orihalcus had no problems or crimes so to speak, but Yanz informed us that since there was a growing interest in the distant town and much talk about the citizens and the adventuring party that makes their home there, Sir Cedric wanted the place to be visited on a regular basis and ensure the roads to and from were safe. (No dragoons had been to visit Orihalcus for at least 10 months).
We arrived in Ponyboro in the latter half of the 6th, weary from the road but happy to be there. We went on our way to Lord Daernhorse's Demesne to pay our respects, with both Zoltan and Detheron departing at the Town Circle to go right to Vermyzier's Tradegoods now and see if they could get any info before the day gets too old (it was about 4:30 pm at this point).
Once there, they spoke to the elven merchant who remembered the two of them after some prompting. They discussed Tarbark Mushrooms and druids and Tehpaguar and wild elves. What they got from him after some lengthy conversation and prompting and deepening questions was that he has had dealings with the druids. At least two he knows of (Tehpaguar and Faranath). They all seem to look the same to him. Come in every 2 odd months and often buy wool items and garments and silver and bronze knives. As for trade they mostly offer rare fungi, medicines, and difficult to find herbs. Once in a while, they do sell off strange smooth silver and gold coins but not many and only rarely. He thought they might have been stolen coinage as they seemed to be "slugs" (unstamped and raw coins) but they were too thin and smaller to be so and seemed to be just old.
Conversation sort of wandered around a bit until when they did ask about the wool garments, Vermyzier admitted that he didn't directly sell to them and instead they go to the Cooperson Demesne and make their purchases for raw wool and skeins and garments from them. We thanked him and Zoltan wandered about, eventually settling on purchasing something esoteric from the trader – a hand carved ivory statue of a naked ogre woman pleasuring herself from some erotic artist in McKenzy. As he said – one day – this piece of pornography was going to save the party's life!
Zoltan went on to the Twisted Forelock and Detheron went on the Daernhorse Manor to catch up with his friends and companions. They meanwhile had stabled their horses and ponies with Conner, and were sharing a dinner with the elder and friendly Lord. We were regaled with stories and tales and whatnot and we told him that we were here investigating the abduction of a young girl.
Couldn't let us stay in the hovel that we had been in last time, but suggested the Rampant Griffon and said there was a new show there, some Minstrel showing and supposedly rather funny. Also offered to let us "borrow" Inokis tomorrow to review some records here and wished us luck.
We got a room at the Griffon and everyone got relaxed. Karis wandered to Sheriff Yolanda's house and spent some time with her talking, making a date for tomorrow night at 8 PM. Puck went to see the Minstrel show and thought it was funny and entertaining. Zoltan spoke with Gilof from the Ponyboro thieves guild and said "hello" and that they were here getting some info on a abducted girl and Tehpaguar and Vermyzier and whatnot – Gilof told him they'd speak with him tomorrow when they were done fact finding for him.
Group slept and the next day (the 7th) was rainy and crappy. We discussed what we had learned and thought about our next step. Inks was given a list of things to look for and he assured us he'd be back by 1ish with some answers. We decided not to go to the Cooperson as of now even though the trail seemed to point there and instead, reviewing the map, we tried to plot out our next destination.
Gilof came to Zoltan and told him that the druids do indeed visit Vermyzier but it seems to be on the up and up. The druids also seem to come in from the game trail near Deeplake and not one of the three traditional roads in and out of Ponyboro.
Inks discoveries led to: Bower Lane is not nor has ever been located in Ponyboro – and seems to be a street in Cymbarton (this was mentioned in Dargan's 1 as the place Cyric Mulholland (the scribe of the book) had a home and family). The 7 Swords was an adventuring party from 60 to 50 odd years ago, but all charters were retired at the start of the Ogrewar. No record exists of who was in such an organization (according to the Dargan's 1 – was the name of Sir Dargan Cooperson's adventuring group). There is a Tunis family in Seneshia and they are known and sought after engineers and architects (in fact, they are so sought after and well thought of/paid – that there is talk that given enough time, they could be knighted as a family). And finally the only record of a local (within 3 days) circle of stones/menhirs was between Seneshia and Tarkis and had been described as double circle.
We thanked Inks and talked about our game plan and what was next. There was a movement to go to see this circle of stones near Seneshia (and talk to the Tunis family on the way – to see their records) but then we talked about speaking with the Coopersons. Decided then to NOT speak with the Coopersons (so as to not tip our hand or revive any knowledge/interest in Caer Dargan) but to instead try to talk to the family Steward. Once there we noticed the family grounds were a bit shabby and in less than noble standards and conditions.
We were introduced eventually to a woman about 25-30, pretty and pleasant, who called herself Serilinis Cooperson, and Stewardess. We were escorted to the waiting room and made comfortable with bread, water, butters, and jams while Serilinis spoke to us – her two children running in and out now and again. We talked about wool and druids and wild elves and she admitted that maybe they did business with them, but her brother, Beldric, would be the better person as the wild elves didn't want to trade/deal with a woman.
While chit-chatting, she remarked on the name of the party and that their symbol/standard was talked about by her ex-husband. Was a teamster by trade who did some work recently and reported seeing the party's symbology. He had come back to town, accusing Serilinis of sleeping around and hiring assassins to kill him. Was raving and wild and was eventually arrested by Sheriff Yolanda and placed in the stocks for 5 days. He left after that and the marriage was annulled by the church of Thor.
Puck admitted that he thinks he's met her ex husband before (chuckle).
Beldric came in at this point, family resemblance to Serilins and a few years older. Said he was the Steward and had much of the knowledge of the Circle of Thorns and Tehpaguar at his finger tips once he gathered his record books. In the interest in helping the party to track down a lost/kidnapped girl and their already known efforts in saving the town's children before, they were very helpful and forthcoming. The druids come every 2 odd months or so and buy lots of wool skeins and undyed garments. They pay with medicines and worn coinage without much speaking or comment. They've been coming in and out of town like this for the better part of the last decade and can prove this by looking backwards (his father Sir Kona Cooperson kept the same sort of records before he died 5 years ago). He doesn't know where they live, just that they have some grove of somesuch south or southwest of here.
His parting comment was that after they were done with him, they usually went right to Cassandra Silverbough, high matriarch of the church of Frey and then left. We thanked him and made our way out. An outing was planned for Beldric, Puck, and Gwyn (and maybe Zoltan) to go to the Minstrel Show at the Rampant Griffon tonight – Serilinis was not interested and said the show was juvenile and moronic. Chuckle.
While walking to the temple of Frey, we discussed what we had learned. Figured it was STILL best to not mention anything about Caer Dargan and not to tip our hands yet to the Coopersons. Maybe after we hang out and chat a bit- might be different.
At the temple, Matriarch Cassandra was out in the fields and would return later. Detheron and Karis stayed – group went back to Rampant Griffon and got dinner and ready for their night. Karis spoke with a priest named Skuning and talked about Tyr and being touched by him and things that he feels now and thoughts and whatnot.
Skuning gave Karis some info about priests. Gods are real, miracles happen. But not everyone who prays to the gods are priests. And of every priest who bends his knee to his god, maybe one in 50 of them are actually "touched" by their god and able to call on his divine will. To be a conduit for the gods is a special and rare thing – and the gods will often expect their "special" followers to be more of a paragon for their teachings than others – hence why Karis was told by Tyr (in the vision) that he would be tested over time.
They there was an attempt to channel Tyr's essence through the half ogre who called upon his light and blessing to appear. He sort of was surprised and lost his "cool" (trying to shake the light/flames from his arm) but he eventually calmed down and learned to channel and control the flow of light. Hooray – Karis' first spell.
Matriarch showed up and she coldly told Detheron to follow her to her office. Karis came too and they spoke to the no nonsense priestess (elven female, indeterminate age but the feeling the party has is a few centuries – at least; hacked off shoulder length hair, tanned body, rough hands). After getting her to open up and talking about the wild elves and abducted girl and whatnot – she told the group much about Tehpaguar. She admitted that she visited the Circle of Thorn's once, about 8-9 years ago, just after they had established themselves.
It was about two days south and west until they get to some sort of monolith. And then from there, west for one day to the Circle lands. Lots of trees. A large hill with some stones at the base. On top of the hill was a dilapidated keep. Tehpaguar was nice but a bit guarded. Faranth was talkative and friendly but had a raspy voice. Glitterbell though was cruel and capricious, harsh, most likely only interested in hurting others and seeing them get hurt.
She had last seen them 5 odd weeks ago and didn't expect to see them come back to town for another 3-4 weeks. We thanked her and left. Now we have even more information.
It's Watermonth the 7th at 7:30 PM and when we left off the following things were established: Puck and Gwyn were going to the Minstrel Show with Steward Beldric Cooperson at 8 PM. Zoltan had penned a missive to Stewardess Serilinis and asked her if she was willing to talk about her ancestry – he was waiting/hoping to get some answer tonight. Karis was meeting Sheriff Yolanda for a date at 8-Acres Black at 8PM. Detheron was going to spend the night at the Rampant Griffon and play Wolves and Jackals with Amal, Osgar, and Kalarig.
And we ended it here.
Hope you all had a good time, I know I did. We now have more info on where to go and it seems the description of the Circle's lands does match or imply the same at mentioned in Dargan's Folley of Caer Dargan. We will most likely hit the open road (or lack of road) on the morrow and journey to see if this is so. We know it is supposedly 3 days journey give or take to get there – but we do have a cart, ponies, and horses – so this should whack some time off the trip.