Saturday, October 24, 2009

21 Kythorn 1479

Ugh. Too bloody damned early. Dunstan was in FINE form, I thought he'd shake himself apart from worrying. Not that I blame him, the vault where the gold is (this shipment anyway) is at the very end of a narrow lane with only the one way in or out. A fine place to hold up under a siege, a lousy place to try and move something through. We loaded up the gold, well covered by the iron and Max made several good suggestions about hiding things and fixing the wagons - apparently the boy's a merchant's son. Gnf had several good ideas too - but while he was worrying about the possibility of visible gold dust, he'd never thought of just wiping everything down with a damp cloth. It's like he'd never tried to cover his tracks or ...ahem. ANYWAY.

There are 4 wagons - drivers Glimber, Sinvlarin, Lethoval and Ernst. Fine guys and they at least know how to use a crossbow, but as far as guards and martial strength, it's just us. Good cover that. No one could possibly believe that anyone would ship a big load of gold with just so few guards. We headed from the vault to the gate, feeling the back of the neck prickling the whole way. I don't know if there was anything to worry, or if Dunstan was just contagious. Gnf did say he'd seen a dark cloaked figure on a roof top that darted back when it noticed him looking. Dunno, I think we're all just edgy - but then, there's reason to be.

We picked up our non-city goers out of town and headed out. Turned out to be a good thing I did get that residuum since we are doing more than 8 speeded up - one song for the oxen, one song for us. We could see the big bridge when we noticed a pushcart half overturned on the muddy bank and a small figure worriedly working at it. It was one of the bird-like creatures I'd seen in the shanty town yesterday - the ones that didn't much like being looked at. He was VERY alarmed when Ugrun and Allyson swung down to help him, but he calmed down reasonably when I reassured him that we weren't gonna to hurt him, just help. He said his name was Flutter and that he was a kenku. Allyson and Ugrun heaved the cart upright in no time and Flutter, having overheard them talking to one another mentioned - seemingly out of nowhere - that kenkus make good assassins. He'd heard that one had been paid to kill Ugrun. Flutter didn't want that to happen since we're good people. We reassured him that we wouldn't let it happen and continued on.

We've reached one of the caravan camp sites and set up watches to keep Ugrun well guarded. I can't believe I could get so tired just WALKING. It's not like I haven't walked this far before...maybe it's just the boredom.

HEY, when we helped Flutter, we put the cart before the bird. That old guy is really helpful...except that you don't figure out his help until it's too late. Still wonder what we're supposed to do to take care of Queenie.

20 Kythorn 1479

Ok, a little hurting never hurt anyone who realized it's just FLIRTING. I was as outrageous as I could be - the bigger, the better, right? Just like tales. Only I kinda think maybe Aprilane doesn't realize it's a game. How could you NOT, though? Would anyone say things so overblown and actually seriously mean them?

Ah well, we reached Silverymoon today and WOW. All I'd imagined - and a bit more. You could see the spires from a ways off and the pegasuses swooping in to land and even catch glimpses of the royal knights in their shiny armor. Then you got closer and there was a shanty town out front a bit. All the poor and unwashed that apparently aren't good enough to go inside. Lovely. Even as fabled a city as Silverymoon - built by elves and dwarves and humans together - runs the same bullshit as every other bloody kingdom. Ugrun was naturally a bit...ah, hesitant to enter the city, as was Aprilane, cities just don't agree with her much, so we sent the two of them and Lyra to wait outside the walls and meet up later. Then we headed in to make a quick stop. Max and Gnf headed to the mage's guild to let them know about the world overlap thing - why Max went, I don't know. Allyson and I headed over to Turlough's to make contact. Not, of course, before having a wee stare-down with the gate guard over my SISTER - make something out of the half-orc, I dare you, honestly.

Dunstan, the agent at Turlough's obviously wasn't in on the smuggling orcs to Waterdeep part of the plan and was a bit iffy on us having an orc in the group. I told him Ugrun had saved my life twice and he seemed satisfied...mostly. He's a worrier is Dunstan and this huge gold shipment has him ready to piss himself. Plus one of his guards was murdered the other day - strangled I guess by somebody (something?) with long narrow fingers. We arranged to meet up at the vault at 4 tomorrow morning to load up and head out early. Then we left Dunstan biting his nails and took a short trip to Mielikki's temple to share some news about Queenie.

The priestess there is well aware of her, but things are a bit overstretched. Everyone is worried about the kingdom of Many Arrows and is arming for war. After all, the orcs are arming, so we have to - and what do you want to bet over in Many Arrows they're all saying, well they're arming over in Silverymoon, we have to? Anyway, turned out she was an old friend of Mom's - they trained here together. I never knew Mom trained this far north. She wondered why Mom would have gone all the way to the Southwood when she could have stayed right here. Makes me wonder - Mom never said when or where she met Besk, what if he was from Many Arrows? Well, or what is NOW Many Arrows. Heh, funny old world.

We walked back to Turlough's to find Max and Gnf. Glorious city to walk through. As pretty with delicate spires and green spaces (one thing Waterdeep sadly lacks) as any elf city, but with solid streets like a human one. And an inn on every corner I swear, everyone laughing and singing. A FUN place, I'll have to come back. Dunstan is sufficiently paranoid, he'd refused to acknowledge to Gnf and Max that we'd even been by and we had to crowbar out of him the information that they were in a tavern across the street. What with half the day gone already and getting up at way-too-damned-early in the morning (hell, at 4 am even the roosters have the sense to lie in a bit), the others headed straight to rooms to catch a nap. I stayed up a bit myself, the music was so very good and I had to join in a bit.

But they're right, I'll need sleep. I hate it when Allyson's right, but at least I don't have to tell her.

19 Kythorn 1479

Oh my head. Honestly even after a day's travel it still hurts. That clear whatever-it-was the orcs had - I think someone said it was made from corn? - has a kick like a mule - but not until morning. It's worse than Lannen's shit - what IS it about clear-colored spirits? Make a note - if it looks like water, but smells like alcohol - RUN.

Max, the wretch, apparently doesn't drink and spent the morning being all cheerful and perky and generally cruel. Good instincts, I just wish I was too sick to fully appreciate it. Of course, oddest thing happened to him - a little bit creepy - as we were breaking camp, this old orc showed up - long greying hair, wild-eyed prophet-y look... He told Max to take care of the queen and the gold will be easy. Max asked which queen and how and since the old man had no invisible dog, he told Max to ask the invisible monkey. He did say that you can't put the cart before the horse, but you can put it before the bird. We'll have to wait and see what that's gonna turn out to mean. I wonder how many times this fellow's gonna show - and how many different faces he's gonna wear.

We left with the orcs warning about the "evil elves" ringing in our ears - savages, they said, backstab you if they get the chance, yadda yadda - all the usual things to say about the other guy. Hard to tell what to believe of it - I mean, they ARE elves, after all. Not exactly the fiercest race ever, right?

Wrong. In this world, they do fierce and savage pretty damn well. Nice little ambush that I'm ashamed to admit caught me totally flat-footed. They went straight for the orcs - ooh, big surprise - and Aprilane - apparently with that "how dare someone non-elvish pretend to be good with a bow" crap. First with some trained birds, then the archers popped up on the hill - very nice set-up. I TRIED to talk things down, I mean, if I can convince a couple hundred orcs not to kill ME, I should be able to kill half a dozen elves not to kill the rest of us, right? Wrong again. They did pause a bit, but then decided I was a traitor and the carnage continued as planned. Unfortunately for them, the tall grass that had covered them well enough crouched was well high enough to cover a gnome simply striding forward and they never saw Gnf until his spells hit them. Mind you, that meant they could see ME and as a traitor I was a prime target. Bad, very bad. Fortunately, human blood is good for just that extra bit of toughness - well, compared to elves anyway and he fell down and I didn't. I remember now why I stay out of fights where they can reach me. But Max covers ground like nothing I've seen and once the hawks left off on Aprilane, she could just start tagging them. A few of 'em ran, but we captured a few. Lyra decided to retrain one of the birds - best of luck to her, but I doubt it'll work. We stripped the prisoners down to loincloths, took their weapons and the bone charms that marked their kills and I leaned in and told them their kills belonged to US now and they owed us life debt. I made a big impression, no doubt, and they rabitted right off. I'm not sure I'm ok with being...scary. Aprilane picked up the leader's bow and has been all but drooling over it ever since. It IS a very nice bow, I grant, but she's worse than Allyson with a new sword.

We continued trudging down along the road and suddenly noticed that the animals and everything had gone really quiet. That's always bad news. Ahead in the road we saw what looked like a heat shimmer - but it wasn't really that hot and heat shimmers don't move towards you. Lurtma had mentioned that their legends about the twin worlds did mention folks just popping back, so we advanced cautiously, hoping this was our ticket back home. Lyra did say that the spirits said this was a transition zone, so that seemed promising... as we got closer we could hear a crackling sound, sorta like when you've rubbed the wool blankets together too much bringing 'em in off the line and then they give that ZING. We could start to make out shapes in the shimmer - sorta purply swirlies and what looked like...well, like canned storms? Once we got closer enough I could see they were chaos shards. Wow, who'dve thought I'd ever see one? Or several? Or fight several? They're nasty, blow up when you kill 'em too. Makes it important to stay at range. Good thing Allyson's sergeant convinced her to learn to use a crossbow. Since they were out of range of my spells, Aprilane lent me her old bow - still chortling over her new one, the more so after she saw how powerful it is. Anyway, we downed 'em, no one hurt, all good. AND Gnf and I picked up a bunch of residuum where they'd fallen. He uses it alot and I can always stand to have a bit more - if I need to speed up more than 8 folks, I guess.

We look to arrive at Silverymoon tomorrow. Frodi is going to get up a group to go after the Queen. It's definitely personal with him now - if it wasn't before. He and Gnf set up a way for him to contact us if he needs.

Odd, when we set up watches for tonight, Allyson let me and Aprilane stand watch without supervision. She's been awfully trusting and it's starting to really worry me. Still, Aprilane's a pretty girl under the dirt and a little flirting never hurt anyone.