The meeting with Darren is over. Though the day is warming up it is not the sweltering heat you are accustomed to. Mistress Bianca left the meeting early. Rikard and the others are milling about the Jade Leaf Compound’s entrance.
Bart: Have you thought of joining the Jade Leaf, Rikard?
Rikard Castleberry: Maybe off and on, it would be nice to have something stable to live under, you know. But it doesn’t feel like it’s the right time.
Bart: Well if it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t.
Mistress Bianca lies down on her bed as she reads the letter from Darren. When she finishes she folds the letter back up and restuffs it into the envelope.
Sounds of sparring grow intense for a moment. Then it stops for a moment and continues on.
Mistress Bianca walks across her room and shoves it into her desk drawer.
Rikard Castleberry: Some of them seem really into it, don’t they Bart?
Bart: They really do. I guess it is good to be … enthusiastic.
Rikard Castleberry: It’s what they know, it gives them a certain focus.
Mistress Bianca sits at her desk and scribbles a note on a piece of her Transit Guild letterhead.
Bart: Have you worked the kinks out since your injury?
Rikard Castleberry: It took long enough, but I think so, yeah. As far as I can tell anyways.
Rikard Castleberry looks towards the combatants, to see who is doing exceptionally well.
Bart: Do you think we will catch up with Hoyt?
Rikard Castleberry: I really hope so, he seems to be a pain not just in our sides, but everyone’s around here. He might lay low for a bit, but he will be back.
Bart: I am surprised we have not heard from him already.
Rikard Castleberry: I hope he isn’t involved with the missing search parties recently.
Bart: Missing search parties?
Rikard Castleberry: I touched on it briefly back at the inn before we went to Darren’s house. The higher ups here have been sending people out to look through those towers we found. Some of them are quite overdue.
Bart: There were some dangerous places and we didn’t search them all.
The dwarf guard seems to not notice the two of you talking right in front of him. Bart and Rikard notice Darren exit his house and turn to walk down the street, generally in your direction.
Rikard Castleberry: I really hope they didn’t find that one tower that had no windows or light…
Bart: Don’t forget the spiders.
Bart waves to Darren.
Rikard Castleberry: The spiders were also no fun.
The streets seem alive today. People are bustling about their business with purpose.
Darren waves back and decides to step up quickly to catch them.
Rikard Castleberry: At least the town seems to have forgotten the fact that it almost got invaded recently.
Mistress Bianca finishes her note and summons for a servant to have it delivered immediately.
As Darren makes his way over to Rikard and Bart a boy comes running up with a letter in his hands….for Darren.
Messenger Boy: Mi’Lord, ‘ave a message for ya. You are Darren, sah?
Mistress Bianca heads to the salted eel.
Messenger Boy Hands a letter to Darren.
Darren tips the boy and opens the letter.
Messenger Boy: Thank you, sah. Bless your warm heart.
Messenger Boy runs off towards the north.
The Note to Darren Reads: Mr. Thorgarash, I was not offended. I simply do not yet trust you. In order for us, me to be comfortable with someone especially one I will have to depend on for survival, that person must be honest. You did not tell me the whole truth on the matter.
I do not want swampmen to have any more reason to hate me. I was afraid that sharing your company may give them cause to act upon their fears. Your initial avoidance of the question, added with the trap scraps you possessed you seemed a person of questionable intent. I do not wish to continue thinking this way. I invite you to dine with me to quell my concerns. I will be at the salted eel. Mistress Bianca.
Darren simply smiles, folds the letter and puts it into his pocket.
Darren waves a bye and moves off.
Bart: It was a bad dream for them. Most of them probably don’t know how close it was.
Rikard Castleberry: Well that was….odd.
Bart: He’s a bit odd.
Dwarf Guard: Begging your pardon sirs. Might you step a bit to the side. Hard to see who’s coming and going.
Rikard Castleberry: Oh, of course. Didn’t realize I was standing in the way.
Bart: Sure, what exactly are you looking for?
Dwarf Guard grimaces.
Darren heads toward the eel.
Dwarf Guard: I am just trying to do my job. You know, watch for guests. Ask questions. Say no to most. That sort of thing.
Bart: What would your name be?
Mistress Bianca takes up a table near the back of the room and orders a pitcher of warm ale.
Dwarf Guard: Not like much ever happens on this side of the compound anyways. Take this morning for example…boat pulls up on the east side and the guards are relieved afterwards. Relieved, now that is something.
Rikard Castleberry: There’s something to be said for a quiet time while working.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: My name is Kremson, sir.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: True that, but getting over half a shift off? My timing is off, s’all.
Bart: Good to meet you Kremson, though the “Sir” keeps me looking over my shoulder.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: How uh, what do you want me to call you?
Bart: Bart would do me fine.
Darren arrives at the eel and steps in.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: Very well, Bart it is.
Mistress Bianca sees Darren enter and kicks a chair away from the table opposite side of her. It skids a few feet and stops. She motions for him to sit.
Darren notices the small disturbance and raises a brow…this is going to be interesting, he whispers to himself.
Bart: What was the commotion with the boat that caused the guards to be pulled?
Darren motions to the proprietor, “Ill have a bottle…if you please.”
Darren then crosses the distance between them and he swears he hears thunder, in the distance.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: An overdue harvest team returned from what I heard.
Darren nods a bow as he stops before her…”Mistress Bianca…may I?”
Mistress Bianca: Yes.
Darren smiles brightly and sits down
Rikard Castleberry wonders why guards would be pulled for something like that.
Mistress Bianca: I have a pitcher of warm ale, I do not intend to drink it all myself.
Bart: Why would they pull the guards for a harvest team?
Darren would of normally wiped off the chair but he did not want to give the wrong impression.
Mistress Bianca pushes forth a mug to Darren.
Darren: I…prefer wine…but…ale will do much to cool me off.
Darren takes up the mug and sips it, trying to not cringe.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: I suspect to be debriefed or something.
Mistress Bianca holds a mug in her hand, swirls it around and drinks a long draw.
Darren analyzes the basic tang and crude taste then leans back and seems to be comfortable.
Mistress Bianca: Strange isn’t it?
Darren smiles innocently.
Mistress Bianca: No one is staring.
Darren: Well from what I know of you, it is not something you look forward to anyway is it not?
Bart: I’m surprised we haven’t heard the rumors yet.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard smiles back.
Mistress Bianca: It is different. I handle change poorly it seems.
Darren: You all seemed to take to the swamps rather easily.
Rikard Castleberry: Oh Bart, I’m sure we will be in the middle of it sooner or later.
Bart: Rikard, Do you have to get anything ready for our trip?
Darren: A rueful stare now and again must be small potatoes compared to that.
Mistress Bianca (chuckles): The swamp is easy. just assume everything wants you dead and you will be fine.
Darren smiles and lifts his mug.
Darren: Here is to…solace and comfort.
Rikard Castleberry: Nothing too much, I could leave now if we needed to. I have some new armor that should be ready in 2 mornings time, however.
Mistress Bianca: People on the other hand, are deceptive, random, and prone to believing whatever is easiest to believe.
Bart: Kremson, How long have you lived in Kith’takharos?
Darren: Of course they are…life would be so much simpler would it not?
Mistress Bianca raises her glass and drinks.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard snaps around to you as he scans the streets.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: I’ve been here about a year now.
Bart looks disapointed, “Not long at all.”
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: That son of a bitch Jak said it was a short trip, nothing to worry about…
Rikard Castleberry: Jak?
Mistress Bianca: Yeah, well simple is good. Consistency is good. But That is not the way of things anymore.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: Yah Jak, smooth tongue, green skin, one horn and two hands in yer pockets if you know what I mean. Runs a trading post a lifetime away up river.
Mistress Bianca: So, might as well filet the eel since it is on the board shall we?
Darren: Quite right, Shall I?
Bart: I take it he had something to do with your presence here?
Mistress Bianca takes a long swig.
Mistress Bianca: Yes.
Darren begins to neatly cut the eel meat.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: You might say that. But you know….this place grows on you. Something in the air here that’s as much like life deep in the stone. I feel alive here.
Darren sets down several equally sized filets onto her plate then upon his.
Bart: It is even better when not surrounded by these walls.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: Well last week I was mightily pleased to be inside of them, if you know what I mean. Damn but for you guys it was close.
Rikard Castleberry: Take it from me Kremson, it was rough on the other side of the walls too, but I’m glad that is over.
Darren digs in and takes a bite, just after he finishes chewing he says…
Rikard Castleberry: Hopefully for as long as possible.
Darren: So, what is no your mind, Mistress?
Kremson, Dwarf Guard nods in appreciation while glancing towards Rikard’s chest.
Mistress Bianca picks up a piece with her fingers and pops it into her mouth.
Bart: Well, there are a couple loose ends. Kremson, who does the leaf go to for legends and lore?
Mistress Bianca: I am thinking about trusting you.
Darren nods in understanding.
Mistress Bianca: That is difficult for me to do. Especially when my life is on the line.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: Well, you mean stuff about history and such?
Mistress Bianca: Consider this. I served my Uncle Meryl as an agent of the Transit Guild.
Darren listens and munches some more eel.
Mistress Bianca: Then one day he asks me to go with 3 others to investigate some missing people.
Bart: Book learning. I have to find a name in the swamp that I probably have walked through one hundred times but didn’t know what it was called.
Mistress Bianca: I did at his behest and that’s how I joined up with Bart Rikard and Casdegere. I was still simply doing what My uncle wanted, so as long as his coin had value I could trust them I assumed they wanted to get paid after all.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: Well, Christophe or Yavanna comes to mind.
Bart: Who is Christophe?
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: Yavanna’s assistant. Helps her organize expeditions and does research for her. He’s quite good from what I hear.
Mistress Bianca: We fought together and they earned my trust.
Bart: Where might I find him?
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: “He typically is found about…” holds his hands about 5 feet apart, “ from Yavanna”.
Mistress Bianca: We got caught up in a whirlwind of events and during the midst of it all I discovered why we were doing it.
Bart: That’s not very helpful. unless Yavanna is a large tree I can see from here.
Mistress Bianca: I didn’t care that everyone hated me. I had to save them. Partly to spite them, that it was I who saved them, but mostly it was because it was the right thing to do.
Rikard Castleberry: Well, Yananna isn’t too hard to find, usually.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard chuckles.
Kremson, Dwarf Guard: Head on in, she lives and works in the same place in the main hall.
Bart: You know her?
Rikard Castleberry: More that I know of her, Bianca has spoken of her a few times before.
Bart: Then we can use her name if needed. Shall we visit this Yavanna? You can watch some sparring…
Rikard Castleberry: Sure, we can go in and talk to her.
Mistress Bianca: Now, here you sit. And I am supposed to trust you. I want to know what drives you?
Bart: Lead on.
Darren: I am hearing you, but truly I can help you. Consider that I have a home here, my family name is known, You are the Niece of Meryl Himself…If I did something to endanger any of you it would not be so good for me here I should think. I have been tasked to learn what there is to learn about this place and the people here. So far I have done very little.
Rikard Castleberry: Alright. Take care Kremson, I’m sure I’ll see you around again sooner or later.
After a small discussion at the gate, Bart and Rikard head into the main hall. There are two human guards on duty. One of them respond to your query after Yavanna and let you know she is out overseeing an expedition and they have no idea of when she might return.
Darren: Except of course becoming the guest of the swamp men for a few months.
Bart: Can we see her maps?
Darren: Now I here of these…heroes.
Rikard Castleberry: Is Christophe in, or is he with Yavanna?
Darren: Here, in this town? Not so gloom and doom as it seemed before I had left.
Jade Leaf Guard looks uncomfortable at the question from Bart.
Mistress Bianca: What exactly did you do to piss off the swamp men so much? They do not take prisoners often.
Jade Leaf Guard: I don’t know. Maybe Christophe is about and has the kind of authority you seek.
Darren takes a large swallow of the musty ale.
Darren: I didn’t ask enough questions.
Bart: I am not familiar with the compound here, where should we look?
Jade Leaf Guard: I’ll take you in.
Bart: Thank you.
Mistress Bianca slams the mug down on the table causing it to splash out.
Jade Leaf Guard leads you deep into the main hall. He knocks at a heavy wooden door in an original stone part of the building.
Mistress Bianca: What…did…you…do?
Christophe mutters with a muffled voice, “Who is it?”
Bart: Bart and Rikard.
Jade Leaf Guard: I’ll leave you to your business. Good day, sirs.
Christophe responds after many seconds. “Oh yes, I remember. Come in.”
Bart waves him goodbye and enters the room.
Christophe turns up a lantern to chase away the gloom and motions Bart over to a chair.
Darren: I trusted someone’s word and I followed them into Swamp men territory, a holy place.
Christophe: Yavanna told me about you. And, of course, everyone knows how you saved the town.
Mistress Bianca relaxes back into her chair and pours her some more ale from the pitcher.
Darren: I knew something was not right about where we were but I just kept going anyway…I had not been out in so long I did not see the signs.
Mistress Bianca: There was that so hard? why all the double talk? the avoidance?
Darren: Several swamp men surprised us and they fought them.
Bart: Thank you for seeing me. I am told by many about your knowledge and I have a question that needs answer. Have you heard of a city called Harlass Orn?
Darren: To their demise.
Mistress Bianca: HA!
Darren: I was taken prisoner and spared.
Christophe cocks his head and scratches his chin. “Oh yes. We’ve had more than one expedition there.”
Rikard Castleberry looks around the room, poking at interesting objects.
Bart: Where is it?
Mistress Bianca pours Darren more ale.
Christophe takes a step towards Rikard. “Please, Yavanna will kill me if something breaks!”
Mistress Bianca: Thank you Mister Thorgaresh.
Darren nods and gestures to her with his mug.
Rikard Castleberry: Oh, terribly sorry. I get distracted by neat things.
Christophe brings out a map and puts it on a table. He puts a finger on Kith’takharos. “We are here, right.”
Bart: Yes, Yes.
Darren: I’ll have you know that If we run into a similar situation, I will most likely act in a similar fashion.
Mistress Bianca: What, stand aside as your friends foolishly got themselves killed?
Christophe moves his finger to the southwest, across the large island to a smaller one. “You see where this says Harlass Orn? That’s what we call the island. But it’s also what we believe they called their capital, which we’ve excavated some.”
Darren: Sometimes fighting is not the solution.
Bart: Can you tell me of the tragedy that happened there?
Christophe: The capital is one the island.
Mistress Bianca: Heh heh, Fear not, I do not suffer fools either. If an idiot doesn’t see reason, well, I have books to read.
Darren: One of the guards began to speak to me. It only took me a little while to begin to understand him.
Christophe: Well, I’m afraid we really don’t know. Yavanna thinks some disaster occurred, but she doesn’t know what kind. We have found many remains of the Harlass Orn themselves.
Christophe: Whatever it was, she thinks it happened pretty fast.
Bart: Yes faster then they could accept.
Darren: All I had to do was listen.
Darren smiled back at her.
Christophe: Well, maybe these towers hold the key.
Bart: or escape.
Mistress Bianca: Ok since you were honest with me, I will be honest with you.
Bart: Maybe, but you have given me the next step in my journey. Thank you.
Mistress Bianca takes off her mask and smiles. Then puts her mask back on.
Rikard Castleberry: Those towers…
Christophe picks up a pen and some paper. “Hey, I’d like to ask you a couple things. You’re a hero!”
Darren smoothes out his mustache as he glimpsed her face.
Bart: Rikard is the hero. I was just there.
Christophe: I’d like to write a history of Kith’takharos and I need the juicy stuff.
Darren: Was that red hair I saw?
Christophe: You killed that poacher Hoyt, right?
Rikard Castleberry: Did Yavanna mention to you by chance which one has been the site of missing people recently? Dorian seemed quite nervous, but he told me to talk to Yavanna about where it was.
Bart: Yes and no.
Christophe: Missing people? Yes and no?
Mistress Bianca: You know that if you betray us, I will see you spitted for a snake vine.
Rikard Castleberry: We did not kill Hoyt, but I did drive my spear straight through his heart, if that helps.
Mistress Bianca: In this life or the next.
Christophe whistles. “Wow. He survived that?”
Rikard Castleberry: Well, he’s not the only one that did.
Rikard Castleberry chuckles at his own dumb joke.
Darren smiles at her threat but takes her seriously.
Christophe: Tell me about it! I’ll give you a whole chapter.
Darren: Ill consider that an official welcome into your little band.
Christophe: Oh, I don’t know anything about missing people. I’m not in the loop for that stuff.
Rikard Castleberry: I would be happy to sit down with you and tell you everything, when we have a tad more spare time. By any weird chance does Yavanna also mark the towers with numbers?
Mistress Bianca: Well, I suppose you can join us, if Rikard and Bart agree.
Darren: They already have.
Christophe: Oh, yes.
Darren smiles brightly.
Mistress Bianca: I think maybe sharing the watch at night with one of us for awhile is acceptable.
Christophe writes furiously, “So where did Hoyt go? I know where you went.”
Darren: You lead, I will follow Mistress.
Bart whispers loudly “If you buy the ale you can keep him talking for days.”
Mistress Bianca: Good.
Christophe looks at Rikard thoughtfully. “Is that true? I have some extra coin I can spend on a good cause.”
Mistress Bianca stands and pulls out enough coins to pay for everything and tosses em in the pitcher.
Rikard Castleberry: Well, to be honest, the last I saw of him was a giant spear sticking out of my chest.
Rikard Castleberry: Oh I do love me some ale
Darren stands as she does.
Mistress Bianca: Good. I don’t think I could stomach another sip of that swill. How did you take it with such a smile?
Rikard Castleberry: Can you point out to us where Yavanna put tower “2” at?
Darren: Perhaps…it was the company.
Darren winks at her.
Mistress Bianca: So you are saying by comparison to me it was like a fine wine?
Darren: Oh how I will enjoy this.
Christophe: I’m sure she wouldn’t mind my telling…but, well, you do promise to sit down and tell me your story, right?
Bart: I will pour the mugs for both of you.
Rikard Castleberry: There’s more story than can be told in 1 sitting, but I will tell you some of it today, yes.
Mistress Bianca: Well, lets go find Rikard and Bart.
Darren: They were at the Jade Leaf Compound last time I saw them.
Rikard Castleberry: Just wait till Bart and I tell you about the time we got blown off the top of a small tower!
Darren: Did you try the candy? I am surprised you didn’t ask me how it got there.
Darren says as they step outside.
Christophe claps his hands. “Excellent. Well, tower 2 is near the Karkalin River. I haven’t been there, but Yavanna talked about sending out teams. I hear about that incident somewhere. That would be a good story, too.”
Mistress Bianca: I still have it. I wasn’t sure what it was.
Christophe: Maybe from Koran.
Darren: It is delightful.
Mistress Bianca: I heard P’ternic smells like anise.
Christophe: Anything else? Remember: my money, your drink!
Mistress Bianca heads for the jade leaf compound with Darren.
Rikard Castleberry: Oh, there was the tower where Casdegere and I got separated from Bart and Bianca and got ambushed on all sides from giant spiders!
Christophe: Man, you have an exciting life.
Bart: I am glad that I have had a chance to watch him.
Christophe: Hey, don’t be a stranger! We can talk any time.
Rikard Castleberry: It is a nice change of pace to not be wondering who’s around the corner shooting at you with a crossbow, however! Not as exciting, but much safer!
Christophe: I’m sure you’re about ready for more danger. Well, if you have time before you leave, let me buy you dinner at the Sheltering Frond. But I’m afraid i have to get back to work now.
Bart: Thank you for the information.
Rikard Castleberry: Thanks for your time Christophe, we will have to have dinner.
Christophe gives Rikard a hearty hand shake.
There is a loud knock at Yavanna’s door.
Jorian Odessa enters the room eyeing everyone and everything in a glance.
Jorian Odessa: Well there is some justice. Finally, I have managed to find you Rikard.
Christophe: Jorian, um…good to see you. I’ll be getting back to work now.
Jorian Odessa: Oh, right. Gentlemen, if you’d come this way we will let Christophe do his thing.
Jorian Odessa smiles and walks out of the room.
Rikard Castleberry follows Jorian out.
Bart whsipers “Who is that?”
Jorian Odessa heads outside and heads to the private docks.
Bart follows them both.
Rikard Castleberry whispers back “Jorian is in charge of the harvesting of plants and such.”
Jorian Odessa stops a good distance away from those sparring in the afternoon light, yet not too close to the few men unloading a skiff.
Jorian Odessa: Well. Rikard, Dorian explained to me you were potentially offering to find one of my crews?
Rikard Castleberry: Yes, we have some spare information, somewhere near the Karkalin River area, but that’s all I know.
Jorian Odessa sits down in the grass a few paces off the worn path leading to the docks.
Jorian Odessa shakes his head in mild irritation yet retains his affable smile.
Jorian Odessa: Sounds like more than you ought to know. Anyhow, my team has returned, after a small delay.
Rikard Castleberry appears relieved.
Bart looks relieved.
Rikard Castleberry: So nothing bad happened to them? That’s excellent news.
Jorian Odessa: Which is why I have sought you out. You’re looking to help us out and I’ve got something I need done.
Rikard Castleberry: What’s going on?
Jorian Odessa: “I have an urgent and unusual mission. One of my other foraging teams encountered an ancient ruin. Unfortunately, I can’t give you a better description because they were chased out by some large red spiders just after entering. That is not the unusual part. There are plenty of strange creatures in the swamp. But these spiders spin especially flammable webs that produce quite the ball of flame. We need samples to determine the web’s properties and how it might be used. I have special containers to store the web. At least four of these should be enough to get us started.”
Rikard Castleberry grimaces slightly at the idea of more fire.
Jorian Odessa: Sound like something you’d be up to?
Jorian Odessa: I’ll be happy to show you tonight. Why don’t you gather your friends and I will prepare a map, some supplies, etc. Fair enough?
Rikard Castleberry: That sounds fine to me.
Bart: To the South West?
Jorian Odessa: I will answer that. Yes, it is to the South West. Have you seen these red devil spiders?
Rikard Castleberry: They don’t sound too familiar to me.
Bart: Probably, We seem to leave each other alone.
Jorian Odessa: From what I’ve heard you are a wise man. I need to get things prepared. Try to keep a low profile while yer about, I’d like to keep this bug out of the ear of a certain individual until you’ve long gone.
Jorian Odessa: I guess what I’m getting at is do what you’ve been doing. Don’t be trapsing off to see Alma and walk out without eyes on you.
Jorian Odessa stands up.
Jorian Odessa: Arrive at darkfall, the guards will expect you.
Jorian Odessa nods once more and strolls back towards the main hall.
Rikard Castleberry: Take care Jorian. See you later tonight.
Sounds of sparring stop again, then start. Rikard swears he recognizes the voice of Caleg coming from the sparring yard.
Rikard Castleberry looks towards the sparring, recognizing Caleg.
Rikard Castleberry: Hey Bart, that’s the guy from the tavern earlier, right?
Bart: I think so.
Caleg Sinjon: Dress it up boy. Keep your arm in tight and low when I come in at you. THEN side step and slash. Side step and slash. Get it? Good. Again.
Caleg Sinjon works one on one with another Jade Leaf Order recruit.
Rikard Castleberry walks up a bit closer and watches Caleg, not wanting to interrupt him while he is giving instructions out.
Bart: I remember you telling me the same thing.
Rikard Castleberry: Well, it is good advice.
Bart: If only you remembered yourself…
Caleg moves in with speed and the boy side steps but doesn’t manage to get the slash around fast enough. The wooden lathes slap Caleg’s sword instead of his calf.
Caleg Sinjon: Take a rest boy. Get some water.
Caleg Sinjon turns to meet Rikard and Bart.
Caleg Sinjon: Up early eh Rikard?
Rikard Castleberry: Oh you know me Caleg, gotta catch the girls at all hours.
Rikard Castleberry: How are the newbies?
Caleg Sinjon: Same as usual for the most part. Except these are particularly green.
Caleg Sinjon: About my offer. I’m afraid I’ll have to rescind it. Dorian wants me to train these wet-ears.
Rikard Castleberry: Ah. Shame to hear that. However, this looks like some satisfying work you have here.
Rikard Castleberry: Always good to know that you can feel better about the boys at home on the wall.
Caleg Sinjon: He, I’d not be feeling too good about that for awhile.
Caleg Sinjon smiles.
Rikard Castleberry grins.
Caleg Sinjon: I’ll get back at it. Tell Mistriss Bianca thanks for considering me, won’t you?
Rikard Castleberry: Certainly will.
Rikard Castleberry: Good luck with the trainees.
Caleg Sinjon: “Thanks, I’ll need it.” Turns to go back to work with the young men. He gathers them all up into a circle and sits while he talks about shields at great length as you drift away.
Bart: Shall we find Bianca?
Rikard Castleberry: I think that’s a good idea.
Rikard Castleberry: Where do you think she ran off to?
Bart: She left in a huff so probably her Uncle.
Rikard Castleberry: Ah Meryl, yeah that would make sense.
Rikard Castleberry: We can head that way, see if he’s seen her.
Bart: What about the new guy. He’s closer and if we have to leave tonight?
Rikard Castleberry: Darren? He has a strange way of showing up. I’m sure he will arrive on his own, in a nice, pretty outfit.
Bart smiles as he imagines those outfits in the swamp.
Bart: To Merryl’s then.
You begin negotiating your way out of the Order of the Jade Leaf compound. As if on cue you see Mistriss Bianca and Darren leave the Salted Eel by the north door.
Rikard Castleberry: I suppose this means we aren’t headed to Meryl’s.
Bart waves to the couple.
Mistress Bianca holds up her staff in aknowledgement.
Rikard Castleberry: They look rather chummy, compared to the last time we saw them together.
Bart: At least we know who wrote that letter that had him skipping.
Rikard Castleberry: He was skipping away, wasn’t he?
Mistress Bianca: Yeah, well. You guys ok with him?
Bart: Somewhere between a skip and a prance I’d say.
Rikard Castleberry: Ah, that sounds about right.
Rikard Castleberry: That depends on if he’s ok with giant, fire breathing spiders that kill children by the hundreds.
Rikard Castleberry motions with his eyes for Bart to follow along.
Bart looks into his cat’s eyes for second.
Bart: OK with us.
Rikard Castleberry: Yes. Spiders. Jorian wants us to investigate and bring back samples.
Bart: As big as swamp dragons.
Mistress Bianca: Well, that is interesting.
Mistress Bianca: Samples of what?
Bart: It is on the way to Harlass Orn.
Mistress Bianca: Them themselves?
Rikard Castleberry: Webbing, or some such. He will meet us here at dark and inform us of the details.
Bart: He’s setting us up.
Rikard Castleberry: Of course he is.
Rikard Castleberry: Which means we need to be sneaky!
Mistress Bianca: Ok, so when do we meet him?
Rikard Castleberry: He said around dark.
Darren stays quiet and listens intently.
Rikard Castleberry: He seemed rather on edge about it too.
Bart: Yep, the guards will be expecting us.
Mistress Bianca: Of course he does. he needs our help. It probably pains him to ask for outside help.
Mistress Bianca: one thing though… we will need torches.
Rikard Castleberry: Oh, Caleg won’t be joining us. He accepted a position training those babies playing in the yard over there.
Bart: I am not going into a firemaking spider’s home with a lit torch.
Mistress Bianca: Oh I forgot about him.
Rikard Castleberry: Well, if we’re going in the dark, we need something to help us see the way, unless we wait till morning?
Rikard Castleberry: I do not know the urgency.
Mistress Bianca: Perhaps I am missing a few key details.
Rikard Castleberry: As are we. He was rather not clear with everything yet.
Rikard Castleberry: You know how he is.
Mistress Bianca: lets head to my place where we can talk in private.
Bart: I thought you lived with your Uncle.
Mistress Bianca: I do.
Mistress Bianca: I have rooms there.
Rikard Castleberry: This is rather ironic, isn’t it Bart?
Bart heads off towards Meryl’s.
Mistress Bianca: Anything we may need tonight we can get from Uncle.
Soon everyone is ensconced at the Transit Guild’s compound.
Mistress Bianca: Are you hungry Bart? Rikard?
Bart: No thank you.
Rikard Castleberry: I’m always hungry.
Mistress Bianca calls a servant to have a plate brought to her room.
Bart: Your not going to be able to fit into that armour.
Rikard Castleberry: Oh it’s ok. It stretches.
Mistress Bianca: Don’t worry bart he loses weight every fight we get in to… granted it is almost all blood loss…
Mistress Bianca: Lets go to my room.
Rikard Castleberry: ...
Bart follows Darren.
Mistress Bianca: not like that.
Bart: Like what?
Mistress Bianca: Nevermind.
Mistress Bianca opens the door to her room which still has tremendous dents in the walls with cracked plaster and the looks of a few dried pools of blood near the table on the floor. Other than that it is a pretty cheery place.
Rikard Castleberry: I think I woke up once in a place like this after I got drunk one night.