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"Who knows, could hear another soon," Grai answers, firmly shaking Donal's hand. Once it is offered to her, she throws herself into her seat, resting her boot-encased feet on the table's corner.
The half-orc lets Garithak handle the talking, like years before, waggling her foot and idly tapping her thigh with her fingers. Upon being asked whether she would join in, her answer is simple. "Easy. If Capt'n's in, I'm in. If not, eh, you get th' idea. Still, hopin' for cultists, gnolls or Gruumshies, clobb'rin' those's always tons o' fun." A gleeful, toothy grin spreads across Grai's face fueled by fond memories.
Barases grows giddy with excitement as Donal speaks, he thinks to himself, My own adventure! I shall be a hero! All shall remember my name: Barases Darkfur - Savior of Harken!" Yes... Yes! This sounds GREAT! I must accept... But I also need money to support myself long term. Don't say 'I'll do it' until after the others negotiate for a slightly better reward...
As Grai, Donnal and Garithak discuss the mission, Barases cannot help but swing his hoof back and forth along the floor, slowly at first, then speeding up until suddenly Barases thrusts himself up to a standing position, from where he blurts out, "I ACCEPT YOUR OFFER MR. DONNAL!"
"GAH! What did I just do!? So much for getting a little extra money to tide me over after this adventure...
__________________ My Campaigns:
- Hand of the Sun: TrackerICOOC
Donal's reaction at Garithak's inquiry about pay manages to draw a gravelly chuckle from the muscleclad warrior, though his look is clearly perturbed.
"Look mate, don't get me wrong, I'm as much for helpin' people as the next guy, maybe even more so, but I'm no paladin, an' no church is gonna pay my way, nor am I some ascetic without need for gold in the first place. I'd be insane not to ask about danger pay for a job like this. You can call me a merc, but I'm not mercenary; never much cared for the implication. I gave some of my best years in service to Fallcrest during the Bloodspear War. So long as we're clear on that, we can get down to business."
As the odd satyr appears to get caught up in his own excitement, culminating in an overeager outburst, the veteran does the best he can to keep things professional.
"Now then, you're asking us to go blind into a dangerous situation. I say dangerous cause you've sent several riders in and they haven't come back. I don't know about you, but to me that strongly suggests some fallen tree or washed out bridge isn't the problem here, so chances are we'll be puttin' our necks out."
Garithak stares intently at the man, face entirely serious, all but devoid of emotion, as if to emphasize the gravity of the matter.
"That being a given, it's only fair we get some money up front. 1.5k now, the rest when the job is done, and if it turns out this isn't worth your while, we'll return what's fair, and you put the rest on our tab if any. Mind you at three thousand we're selling ourselves for a song, and I imagine any one of us barring the satyr wouldn't be remiss for asking more, especially knowing as little about the job as we do."
Momentarily pausing to allow his logic sink in, he continues.
"As for the recon, I've got to admit, I was expecting a little more than news of some farmer's bumper crop. Still, can't help but wonder at the guy's excitement. You said it was unusual, exceptional. It's a real stretch, but I wonder if that might have anything to do with the situation."
"A pleasure, Donal." the mage would reply with a polite smile before finding her own seat amongst those available; her hands rather immediately going to work fidgeting as a method of dealing with anxiety.
After the initial greeting, her voice would fade from the conversation as she took in the details going back and forth; apparently sketching out a few possible alternatives while trying very hard not to make any critical assumptions that could pollute her train of thought by forcing her to consider the problem in only one direction. Everything was going rather fine until he happened to mention the Bentwick's special crop; the mystery pulling on her mind with as much weight as the far more serious task that had been assigned to them.
"Hmm... I see. That does sound like quite the conundrum. Forgive me, as I'm not all that familiar with the area; how much trade generally goes through to Harken? I'm mostly just interested in how many individual wagons are among these caravans number. Are they well guarded? As for my own input on the task, it's certainly got my attention. The number of possibilities are far too enthralling to leave alone; even if the nature of the problem does turn out to be rather mundane." She'd pause for a bit before realizing she had more questions to spit out at the poor contact; giving him time to answer and process what she'd just said before bugging him further.
"I suppose a map of the trade route would be provided? I'd also assume that this would not be the first time that the mountain pass has been clogged with snow. Are there no defined contingencies for travelers to take? Given that you say the caravans typically arrive on time regardless of inclement weather, I can only speculate what may have been different this time."
Smiling brightly at the satyr acceptance, Donal thumps the table, "That's the enthusiasm I'd hoped for! Well done, Barases! Welcome."
Adopting a more somber tone, placing his hand upon his chest, and bowing slightly towards Garithak, "My apologies if I offend, Captain." Knitting his brow in contemplation, "It is a steep retainer on faith, but I suppose you must prepare for the worst. As for the tune of the song with which I purchase you, the right to salvage is usually enough to interest most, but it is evident you are of different metal." He consults a paper or two from his satchel. "Very well. The monies will be made available for you. However, in exchange for this much upfront, I'm going to ask for something in return. There is a family farm on the edge of Harken, the Weistruabs. I ask that you stop by and check on them, personally. If Ilyana is there, tell her 'Donal requests a sign of good faith.' She'll understand. Please return to me what she gives you, unopened and unharmed."
Chuckling at the barrage of questions from Emberlyn, Donal smiles again. "There are usually two wagons, driven by the Bentwick brothers themselves. Two or three of riders usually accompany them, whether hired guards, or sons of local farmers. It is a rarity to encounter bandits on the road. We've had fewer than five incidents in twelve years. There is a well known campsite rest stop in the middle of the Harken forest they use for their night stay. Over the years, they've built it up enough that beasts of the forest don't bother them much."
"Yes, I will provide a map of the area. The mountain-side pass fills up fairly regularly from mid-winter to early spring, mainly run-off from the mountains, blocking the trail to Hammerfast. Their winter barley comes through Fallcrest. The King's Road stays clear year round. I can't see how the weather may have stoppped them. For the last few weeks, its been down-right pleasant for this time of year."
"What pull do you have over Running Bull that he would call me here for a mercenary mission? It does not seem the sort of thing I would be interested in, and he knows better than that...so what is the catch?"
Garithak waves off the man's apology, shaking his head with a laugh.
"It's fine. Back to business."
The captain leans back, head cradled in his folded hands.
"But here's my problem see; in this case right of salvage only really means anythin' where danger is involved, and even then it doesn't guarantee a payoff, so I'm not about to overestimate its value. Of course, it's not going anywhere either unless I walk."
Donai is subject to Garithak's earlier look of grave sternness; it is painfully evident the elemental isn't bluffing.
"Moving on, the terms of your offer are acceptable, but that's the only freebie I'm allowin'; any more is gonna cost extra, at least as far as my participation is concerned, 'n Grai's too it would seem. So there are my terms, 'n it's not costin' you a copper more than you were prepared to pay comin' in."
He then extends his hand, its rough, earthen frame held aloft, straight and unwavering before the middleman.
Looking over at the minotaur, Donal has a quizzical expression."To be honest, friend Malikar, I have no idea why Running Bull would send you, for, truly, I had others in mind. You know as well as I that no one, NO ONE, could make Running Bull do anything other than what he wants to do. He is one to be admired and trusted. For whatever reasons he sent you here, he has his logic, and I am not going to question his esteemed wisdom. He has earned my respect and I accept his choice as if it were my own."
Seeing Garithak extend his hand in bond, he moves around the table to face him. Donal grips it slowly and shakes it with solemnity. "We have an accord." He releases his hand and walks slowly back to his chair. "I have accepted your terms based on good faith and your reputation. Remember what they say about 'reputation'. It is people talking, is gossip. Until you show me it is true. Then it is fact." He takes two small sacks out of his rucksack and tosses them to the center of the table. "Here are enough gems to bring you and your associate your 1500 gold. As you say, it is not more than I expected to pay, but until you have earned what you've been given, the town council considers you overpaid. Show them I have not misplaced my faith."
He glances around the table with a smile returning to his face, lobbing a sack to come to a rest by Barases. He looks to Emberlyn and Malikar with raised eyebrows. "What say you?"
Barases eyes open wide as the sack is tossed towards him. Barely containing a wide grin, he slouches in his seat to peer inside the half-open, wondrous, magical, enchanting, lovely, amazing, BEAUTIFUL, bag of gems. His eyes are met by a riot of color - red, blue, green, pink, amber, yellow... All the colors Barases had ever dreamed of were contained in a single bag, which lay mere inches from his greedy eyes. After a few minutes of gawking, Barases sits up and coughs, acting as if his wide-eyed ogling never occurred.
He stares into Donnal's eyes and says, "By Moradin's hammer, by the suns of Athas, I shall complete your quest!"
__________________ My Campaigns:
- Hand of the Sun: TrackerICOOC
Malikar snorts, sending twin plumes of smoke into the air from his nostrils, but nods in agreement to the accord. He stares across the room, clearly deep in thought about something.
Why would Running Bull send for me? This man is right, there are many others the Seer knows that would be better suited for this. I am trying to get away from fighting at all, and he sends me where there is very likely to be a bloody fight. It is curious...
"Please, count me among those interested in seeing this through." Emberlyn would respond with a slight smile; extending her hand as she did so to make it official. Apparently any hint of nervousness she'd felt earlier had faded into the background compared to the task ahead. "You've my word that I'll commit every effort necessary to this task. It wouldn't look very well for a professor at Windcrest to take the money and run, so to speak. That being said, I will admit the idea of receiving a portion of the money in advance would be quite helpful for my situation; more so for practical reasons than issues of trust. I'm afraid I misinterpreted the missive to a degree and find myself with a relative dearth of supplies."
Having taken her moment to address their contact, she'd afterward tilt her head towards the rest of the party - hoping to start things off on the right foot. "I look forward to working with you all. I'm sure this will be a most interesting expedition."
Hearing the extra task in return for upfront payment, Grai shrugs. "Would've let'cha add that fo' free. Watch'n' a guy fearin' for his sweetheart ain't my thing."
That Barases fellow sure looks like a kid who's been handed the key to a warehouse full of toys and candy, greatly amusing the half-orc and even making her laugh out loud when she sees his final reaction. "Ain't have ta be a sage to know this'll gonna be great." Yes, she definitely remembers the guy now. Been a while, but it's coming back.
Upon being adressed by Emberlyn, Grai responds with what must be a shockingly warm and joyful smile for an half-orc (at least those not used to Grai), meant for the whole group. "Pleasure's all mine. Feels good to move out as a group 'n' have people to look out for again. Ain't the solitary type. Not for long, anyway."
"Then it looks like we're all settled up. Good. Seeing how not everyone is prepared for the journey, we should take a moment to stock before heading out. Besides, I've got fifteen hundred burnin' a hole in my pocket."
Sitting forward, the genasi drops a set of meaty palms upon the table, thrusting himself aloft.
"Now before we head out, anythin' else we should know?"
Donal begins packing his strewn items into his rucksack. "I've told as much as I think I know. I'll be in the tavern for a while if you have questions or need a talk-around. I have reserved three rooms for you upstairs for the night." Nodding to Emberlyn, "I'll have the maps and a hearty breakfast for you all tomorrow morning. Thank you again." He taps his heart twice and with a sweeping, downward gesture says, "Washtae. Until we meet again." He slides around the table, dropping small sacks before Emberlyn and Malikar, and makes his way to the common room.
"Aw, pamperin' us, aren't'cha?" Grai quips when she hears about the rooms and the breakfast.
Once Garithak gets up, Grai does likewise, leaving beside her superior. "Right with ya, Capt'n," she adds. She doesn't even feel the need to discuss who's getting what room, since it seems perfectly obvious to her. Grai didn't share a tent with Garithak during the war (again, obviously, due to the vast difference in rank, caused because of her many, many formal demotions), but she's still damn protective of the genasi after all those years.
"It was nice meeting you." Emberlyn would nod politely towards the direction of their employer as he left, only afterwards turning her attention towards the party once more.
"As for shopping, that sounds like a rather splendid idea if you wouldn't mind me tagging along! Assuming the rest of you agree, I'd think it prudent to leave as soon as possible, lest our trail grow cold; preferably sometime tomorrow morning. This afternoon should be sufficient time to stock up on supplies on my part. Of course, if anyone has objections, I'm not so inclined to force my opinions over yours."
Grai chuckles. "Thought that be the plan all along." Later, at the evening's destination, Grai is having a good look at the wares available in tandem with Garithak.
While browsing, Grai suddenly stops. She reaches out and picks up a pair of silver earrings, elegant yet also surprisingly sturdy. Elven craftsmanship. She is soon informed of it's property of giving the wearer the furious strength of a raging bull when he or she goes for a similar all-out attack, adding that he bought it off of some merchant several months ago, as well as the price of 1800gp. "Thanks, I'll... I'm consider'n'," Grai mumbles to send the owner away for a moment.
If Garithak looks closer, he recognizes the design. They once belonged to Vela, an elven maiden that fought alongside both of them in the war, using nothing but her gods-given limbs to attack and her skin, reflexes as well as clothes on her back to keep herself safe. Most of the men thought Vela and Grai having to work together was a disaster waiting to happen, given the hostility between elves and orcs. Instead, they were like sisters seperated at birth, deadly on the battlefield and harmonious in how their personalities and skills complemented one another, most notably Grai's wild spirit and Vela's effortless wisdom.
That is, until Vela died. The troops getting ambushed by the orcs, Vela sacrificed herself to allow most of those who were still alive to escape. It took almost a dozen men to stop Grai from throwing herself against overwhelming odds, breaking the bones of half of them before being knocked out. When she awoke, Grai violently shifted from depression and anger for days, especially when they found Vela's defiled corpse hung as a taunt.
Grai grabs what money she has, counts it, counts it again, counts it a third time. Her features harden, only visible to Garithak and Brutus, showing the telltale signs of bitter frustration, something her superior has only very, very rarely seen. It isn't enough. Grai's fist clenches, her pride making her unable to ask for money or beg for a lowered price, too angered by her inability to acquire the earrings by herself through legal means, but having nothing to direct her anger at, knowing Vela wouldn't want her to "honor" her by taking her belongings by force or whatever means necessary.
Grai just keeps staring at the only thing to remember Vela by, trying to work up the courage to put them back onto the display before she makes a scene, the helplessness suiting her not one bit.
((OOC: Hope you'll pardon the storytime and that this is kind of a downer, but the idea for this came to me very suddenly and I didn't want to just ignore it.))
Barases bids his employer fair well and heads off with his new companions to shop. As he re-enters the tavern, he clinks the sack of gems next to his ear, giggling like a little child each time. He then looks to his new friends and says, "I am going to go find some Everlasting Chalk and a better Bedroll. Oooh, and after that I am going to buy a Wineskin! Every adventurer should have one of those!"
__________________ My Campaigns:
- Hand of the Sun: TrackerICOOC
Grai quietly accepts the money, having to gather her strength to pay for the earrings and leave the store. Anxious, Grai puts them on, comfort spreading through her as she feels closer to Vela again. She remains quiet until Garithak and her reach their room.
"Th... thank you so much for this." Thanking Garithak for what exactly he did is hard for her, given the circumstances, as her superior knows. "It's nice t'be reminded why ev'ryone o' us refused to serve under anyone else."
The half-orc smiles, reminiscing briefly about times missed for a long time, before saluting, which hardly ever happened. "Ya deserve the best 'n' I'll give ya the best, Capt'n. An' if I can't, I'll become the best, damn it," she says almost in defiance of whatever obstacles might lie ahead, speaking her mind like she almost always does.
"Now frickin' say somethin' before I change my mind." Still good ol' Grai.
"A good idea if I've ever heard of one." Ember would reply towards the satyr, smiling faintly as she did so. "I believe I'm in the market for makeshift shelter and sleeping arrangements myself. Would the rest of you wish to pool resources together for a carriage, by any chance? It seems prudent to follow the trade route. Given that, I imagine the transportation will be quite welcome on our feet."
Afterwards, the mage would go shopping. It was by fancy that Emberlyn entered the weapon store; simply trying to kill some time after purchasing all of the mundane things on her list. Unable to really make use of any of the fine weapons there, her eyes were simply content with glancing over things in a lackadaisical way. However, she'd soon find there to be one item that seemed strangely out of place in a shop of swords and maces. A... staff? As the trained mage glanced over the weapon, her heart instantly began to pitter patter in a way most would associate with pure adrenaline.
"Oh my...!" this was clearly an implement of fine make; an artifact whose workmanship and age alone would command a price far greater than the paltry sum of 3,400 pieces it was advertised for anywhere else in the world. Looking as suspicious as a thief cradling a much coveted jewel, Ember glanced left and right for signs of the shopkeeper before turning her ever widening eyes back onto her prize. So many questions were running through her mind -- "Why is this here, in this tiny little town of all places?", "Does the shopkeeper know what he's got here?", "Am I dreaming?", "Is this right? Should I tell him?" In the end though, regardless of the guilt already starting to eat on her conscience, she realized that she just couldn't leave the implement be. She needed it.
Unable to hide her satisfaction at the deal, a rather uncharacteristically impish grin formed on her face as she went over to the shopkeeper to finalize this purchase. It was there, with trembling hands, that she laid down the weapon in front of him; her eyes avoiding contact, unable to glance away from her treasure even if she'd wanted. "Hello." She'd awkwardly blurt out, the adrenaline and guilt making it very difficult to carry out a normal conversation. "I would like to purchase this, please. If it's possible, I'd like to trade you my old staff - a very fine piece crafted in Windcrest - and 1,600 gold pieces. You'll find my staff worth somewhere in the range of 20,000 gold pieces." Realizing that bluff was a little extensive in the heat of the moment, her face paled as she corrected it. "Sorry, 2,000. I meant 2,000. It's a... it's a good staff."
Having a flash of genius, she'd then deftly pull off one of the smoothest maneuvers to deflect any suspicion ever. Namely, she reached over to the side of the counter and added a 20 GP display item to the list of things she was interested in purchasing. "I'd also like this healing potion, please." A hopeful pause would follow as she very slowly glanced up towards him, the anxiety of her offer being rejected entirely palpable in her expression.
Last edited by Paperscrap : 02-24-2012 at 03:57 PM.
Barases eyes light up at the thought of owning a carriage, "Many a great stories have begun when a band of adventurers set off on a carriage! In fact one tale I once heard had the heroes hide inside empty ale caskets to sneak into an Dwarven brewery!" Smiling, the Satr proclaims, "We should try that some time!"
Barases then wanders around with his new companions, looking at this and that. He eventually spots a used magic shop and decides he's found the shop for him. The Satyr enters the store, immediately the smell of must, mold and sweat assaults his nose. He likes the smell, its the smell of adventure! The Satyr looks around the shop, going from one magic clock to a gorilla hand to a supposed genie lamp. He passes all such items over because after this adventure he would have more than enough money to purchase all the eclectic items his heart desired. No, he was on a quest to find two particular items. Beneath piles of junk and feet of dust, Barases eventually finds that which he seeks - a half-used stick everlasting chalk and a musky bedroll. The shopkeep parts with the items for a standard price, which Barases happily pays.
He meets up with the others and displays his finds, "Everlasting chalk and a good bedroll that reeks of adventure and good times!"
__________________ My Campaigns:
- Hand of the Sun: TrackerICOOC
Though surrounded by countless wonders, Garithak uses his time with characteristic efficiency, rarely pausing to gawk or browse as he methodically sorts his way through a forest of wood and steel, navigating sprawling barriers of weapon racks to discover the implement of his choice. Failing to spare even the briefest moment, he plucks the greatspear from its display, an upward curling of his lips betraying the genasi's evident sense of elation. Upon seeing its exorbitant price however, his happy demeanour quickly sours.
The soldier draws his longsword, regarding as though lost in the polished edge of the blade, the glint of its cold sheen reflecting the rue in his eyes.
"We've been through a lot together you n' I, liberated villages, lead platoons to victory, slain more orcs than I can count... but the time has come to part, an' I must be as prepared as I may. I should hope the merchant sees fit to provide you to an owner worthy of your legacy. If I am to fall, you at least will remain. Fare well."
Sheathing the weapon with slow, patient deference, he goes on to make his purchase, once brisk movements now weighted with hesitation. On his way to the counter, he sees Grai, looking intently at a pair of earrings that appear strangely familiar...
Garithak simply shakes his head, offering the subordinate a gentle smile, chuckling in his usual self-depreciating way. Striding forward, he wraps his arms about the half-orc, pressing her tightly against the warmth of his body.
Grai feels her face burn up while emitting a low, aggressive growl at the same time. "Oh, now ya done it! No milit'ry no more, so yer not gett'n' away this time!" Ignoring Brutus' presence completely, Grai practically slams her lips against Garithak's, deadset on making her now years-old threat a reality...
((Alright, enough story hijacking from me, fade to black and skip to the next morning, please. ))
Malikar extinguishes his pipe, and stows it in his backpack. He takes the bag of wealth from his new employer, and heads out to the market. If he must fight, he would at least do so with some additional equipment.
Returning several hours later, he says nothing to his new companions, merely returning to sit by the hearth (his massive form fitting nowhere else but the floor) and returning to reading his book. Those that payed attention to him, notice it is a different book this time. A book of ancient legends, usually read to curious children, though many adults enjoy the tales. He lights his pipe again, and puffs on it gently. On his arms glisten red and black gauntlets, and burnished armguards that he was not wearing before.
Willie B. tries to keep his face as emotionless as possible. Could it be that his mark-up trick was going to work? This easily? Usually when a staff fighter would come in looking for something special, they would question why a poorly enchanted quarterstaff was priced so highly. He had a story ready about overwhelming odds, last stands, and heroic gestures, but it didn't seem necessary. He could see her barely restrained eagerness. Did she know something he didn't? Impossible. He had received this in a shipment from Crogma. That cheapskate never mislabeled things for fear of missing a copper he felt he was due. "Well, if she's willing to pay." He picked up her offered staff, gave it an appraising once over. "Mesmario could probably do with another one of these by now." "Hmmph. 2,000? I'll wager I'll be lucky to get the 1800 I'll give you for it, but you look like an buyer in need, and my children are hungry. I'll even throw in the potion. Deal?"
Sunrise comes almost reluctantly to Fallcrest. The sun slowly crawls into the clear sky, its heat hardly making a dent in the cold, winter air. While your rooms upstairs are warm and comfortable, the common room downstairs where your breakfast is waiting has a touch of chill. Warm bread, cold meats, and steaming pots of steeping tea sit on the worn, wooden tables along with a yawning Donal Mercathy. "Good morning," he says to each of you as you come downstairs. "I have had a meal prepared, and I have the map that I promised," he tells you as he unrolls a paper. "If you leave soon, you can make it to the halfway camp before dark. It is here, on the map." He gestures to a marked spot in the Harken Forest. "Ilyana's house is here," pointing to a different area, "and this road will take you all the way into town. Have you any questions?"
Grai descends the stairs clearly being in a very good mood, stretching a little while making her way over to the table. "Mornin'," she greets Donal smiling widely and quickly digging into her meal, eating heartily. Starting with that last night, this might be as close as she has come to a perfect day thus far, since the first thing she had to do this morning was deciding between indulging herself by staying in bed (and making Capt'n do the same) or indulging herself by getting up, grabbing breakfast and going off to get to the next fight like in the old days. The beauty o' her tactics, in her words.
"Sounds good," Grai comments between bites. "Wonder 'f mum's 'n' her druid buddies 're on it," she wonders out loud. Nerra is a tough one, after all. If she cares, that is.
Barases wakes in the morning with a veritable horde of blankets on top of him. He looks around and stretches before standing up and putting his scarf on. He slowly plods his way downstairs to the tavern and orders a hearty plate of eggy toast, bacon, sausage, biscuits and eggs... Or at least what ever was passed off as such staples at this inn. He eats quickly, sharing a few stories, and a few laughs, with the other patrons. The Satyr then orders a Wine skin - because every adventurer should have one(!) - and asks for a heated waterskin, one that he can strap to the inner lining of his bear fur coat, in order to keep him extra toasty during the first leg of his adventure.
When meeting with his employer, Barases simply nods as he impatiently bounces his leg up and down like an impatient child - the Satyr wants to leave, to find merriment, excitement and riches, and the sooner the better!
__________________ My Campaigns:
- Hand of the Sun: TrackerICOOC