Meryl Dunestal: Something about your description of the necklace leads me to think there could be more meaning gleaned from it.
Casdegere Constantine does try to maintain his anger but it does seem to seep through.
Meryl Dunestal: Give me a moment. I am going to call one of my men in.
Meryl Dunestal stands and walks to the door, then opens it a crack and speaks quietly to someone who is unseen.
Bart shakes his head at Constantine’s “Story”.
Meryl Dunestal nods once and returns to his seat after closing the door.
In a moment, a tall man with dark hair and dark eyes steps through the door. He nods to Meryl and takes a seat at the table.
Federico: Good morning Bianca, gentlemen.
Rikard Castleberry glances at the new arrival.
Meryl Dunestal smiles.
Federico has a slight accent you cannot place.
Mistress Bianca nods towards the man.
Federico: Ah, Meryl, what wonders do we have today?
Meryl Dunestal: Thank you for attending upon such short notice Federico. As always I am pleased with your service.
Mistress Bianca: It is good to see you again.
Casdegere Constantine turns back to Meryl with a frown.
Federico gazes at the necklace on the table and moves to pick it up. “May I?”
Rikard Castleberry: Fred is it?
Meryl Dunestal: Take a look at that necklace, tell me what you know of it.
Federico grips the silver symbol between two fingers. He squints at it and frowns. He exhales and puts down the necklace. “Where did you find this?”
Casdegere Constantine remains focused on Meryl.
Federico: This looks too new to be from a dig.
Meryl Dunestal returns the look at Casdegere, waiting for him to answer Federico.
Rikard Castleberry: Why are you so interested in it Freddy?
Federico: And the metalworking technique is not ancient.
Casdegere Constantine obviously annoyed, turns and faces Fred. “Sir, I do not believe we have been introduced, I am Casdegere Constantine.”
Mistress Bianca reclines back in her chair, lazily circling the rim of her glass with her index finger. Her eyes are fixed on Casdegere, however.
Federico stands and bows. “Good sir, I am Federico de Soya.”
Meryl Dunestal smiles somewhat ruefully, “I apologize for not introducing everyone. Please say hello to Federico, one of my men who specializes in archaeology.”
Casdegere Constantine: “Well, to answer your query, I found this upon the neck of a dead man. He lay next to a blood stained stone altar, upon which lay the staff with the golden jesters head.
Federico gazes towards the necklace, “Such things have been found far to the east at archaeological sites. I have never heard of a modern man…paying homage to this.”
Mistress Bianca: Homage Mister De Soya?
Casdegere Constantine sighs “However that may be, for all of it I did not find my Uncle.”
Federico: Yes. Giving obediance to the thing this represents. Whether the being exists in truth I can only speculate. All gods are not real, eh?
Mistress Bianca: Not all of them…
Federico: But they have power if men believe it so.
Mistress Bianca snickers. "Which one does this trinket represent?"
Federico: Throughout history there have been many cults, and this symbol signifies one particularly foul. Records are scarce and incomplete. However, I can say the worshippers tortured and killed victims. This I know.
Rikard Castleberry: And what cult is that?
Federico: What they got in return, or thought they would get, I cannot say.
Casdegere Constantine: “Considering the amount of flesh and blood surrounding the altar…”
Rikard Castleberry: And is this cult made up of magic users?
Mistress Bianca: Is this a cult formed from the ranks of lizardmen?
Federico: You found this on a man. Somehow, he learned of the cult.
Casdegere Constantine: “The others sleep but do they dream, will the dreamers ever awaken, from the nightmares that never end?
Federico clears his throat. “Swamp Men, you mean. And no, I am not aware that they follow such beings. Ah, you are a poet, warrior."
Casdegere Constantine: “No, that was something scrolled in blood upon a wall of the temple in question.”
Mistress Bianca: Ahh, I only asked because of other uncomfortable superstions that the people of these lands decided to believe in.
Meryl Dunestal sits back abit and sips out of his plain silver goblet.
Casdegere Constantine: “Near many swamp man bodies.”
Federico turns to Meryl. “Well, Meryl, you have my interest. When are you sending them back to learn more? This is really quite amazing.”
Casdegere Constantine: “Sir…one man has died, one is still missing and two of us were wounded. And for what?”
Bart eats some more fish.
Meryl Dunestal: I have more thought to give it, Federico. Such an expedition is sure to raise the attention of Dorian do-good.
Federico turns to Bart, “Yes, the spices are exquisite.” He takes a small fish and eats it.
Mistress Bianca growls quietly deep in her throat at the mention of Dorian.
Casdegere Constantine: “And lets not forget, someone saw us come into town, saw the staff, sent three cloaked men after it and almost killled me to obtain it.”
Bart calms his companion whose ears are raised.
Federico: What staff?
Meryl Dunestal: Perhaps if you describe the staff again, Casdegere. For Federico.
Rikard Castleberry: I wouldn’t be opposed to tracking that staff down.
Casdegere Constantine thinks ‘A …wooden, 5 foot staff, with a gold jester’s head upon its end."
Federico: Gold Jester’s head? A caps with two bells. The head was a skull?
Bart wishes he could read minds.
Casdegere Constantine thinks a moment “Yes, yes I do believe that is correct.”He raises a brow “You know of this?”
Federico: How many dead Swamp Men did you see?
Casdegere Constantine: “I do not remember the exact count, Bart..Mistress?”
Mistress Bianca: Three…maybe four in the small room?
Federico says to Bart, “That is a fine cat, sir.”
Bart: And she knows it.
Federico: Well, only three or four? Then I’m not sure what the staff means. It’s powers should have been greater.
Rikard Castleberry: What powers?
Federico: I would think the bearer would be greatly resistant to harm. But perhaps this needs more research at a university.
Rikard Castleberry: It didn’t appear that Casdegere was resistant to the assault he suffered.
Mistress Bianca: Kith’takharos seems plum out of schools of higher learning.
Casdegere Constantine turns back to Meryl, “And you knew this temple…was there?”
Meryl Dunestal: I can’t see spending funds sending for research on an object that is not at hand, Federico.
Federico sighs. “Ah, well, if it should turn up again…”
Meryl Dunestal: Everyone knows of the Old Temple across the Big Water. It is marked on the map I gave you.
Bart: It is well known.
Mistress Bianca continues running her finger over the rim of the glass making it sing out a brief note.
Casdegere Constantine: “Then I do not understand while such a place has not been burned to the ground sir.”
Meryl Dunestal: Who is to say, until now it has only been the focus of Koran Thelig’s tall tales.
Rikard Castleberry: So who might have been responsible for pilfering this staff?
Federico: This temple is of stone. Who can spare the men to tear it down?
Meryl Dunestal: Now, that is the question, Rikard.
Rikard Castleberry: Seems to me it would be these cultish guys?
Mistress Bianca: Mister Constantine, stated that there were 3 black cloaked men. It could be any brigand who saw a large lump of gold and wanted it, from the Jade Leaf harrassment party that we encountered yesterday, to the cultists we stole it from.
Casdegere Constantine: It was with the silver necklace and other items but it was the only thing stolen.
Meryl Dunestal: What other things were with it Casdegere?
Bart: If the soldiers wanted it they could have taken it in the swamp.
Casdegere Constantine: And it was mentioned by name as I was being clubbed. The sword I gave you, a bone necklace, the silver symbol.
Meryl Dunestal takes another long sip while obviously thinking about the myriad information.
Mistress Bianca: I am not saying it was the Jade Leaf per se Mister Bart.
Rikard Castleberry: I don’t think it was a military thing Bart, it sounds too sloppy of a job.
Federico speaks to Meryl, “Will you be needing anything else, sir?”
Mistress Bianca: Yes mister de Soya.
Rikard Castleberry: I’m still wondering what the name of this cult is?
Meryl Dunestal: I may talk with you tonight over dinner. Thank you for coming, Federico.
Federico nods to each person in turn, then stands and turn to the door. Heleaves the room.
Bart waves farewell.
Mistress Bianca: Uncle, may I make a list of questions that I would like you to ask Mister De Soya at your dinner?
Meryl Dunestal raises his eyebrows, “Of course I don’t mind, but if you had questions you certainly could have just asked them.” He stands at the head of the table.
Mistress Bianca: I do not mind, it need not delay him or us in this meeting any longer.
Meryl Dunestal: Let me just reiterate my heart-felt gratitude for laying to rest my concerns of what happened to my friend, Almus.
Mistress Bianca: He will be missed Uncle.
A knock sounds upon the door.
Meryl Dunestal: It would seem that these last days have brought you together more than I could’ve hoped. Come.
Casdegere Constantine: Almus, is that all who matters to you? I was hoping to find closure for my uncle…for myself, and I have found..nothing.
A guard enters and places a washed leather bag before Meryl. You hear the clink of many coins.
Mistress Bianca stands and reaches for her staff leaning against the wall.
Meryl Dunestal: Have you found nothing, Casdegere? Did you not learn he was not dead at the temple? Does this not give you hope that he might live still?
Mistress Bianca begins to walk around the room.
Meryl Dunestal turns to the man who just arrived, “Thank you, you may go now.”
Casdegere Constantine: “The blood, the gore, should I believe he lives to be tortured like those swamp men?”
The man nods and leaves.
Casdegere Constantine: “Shall this be my solace of his not being dead?”
Bart: Where there is life there is hope.
Meryl Dunestal: I don’t have the answer you are looking for. Maybe you could answer your own questions. You all have learned much.
Mistress Bianca: Mister Constantine, what is it you would like to hear?
Casdegere Constantine: I would like to hear why those men were sent there, and not this dribble that Mr. Dunestal sees fit to feed us. I would like to know that there deaths meant more than a simple expedition to a well known place. Almus…my uncle deserves at least that much.
Meryl Dunestal says, "I think I’ve had enough. " He turns to face Casdegere. "You have suffered loss. Yet, you dishonor me in my own demense."
Casdegere Constantine: “You dishonor them by hiding the truth.”
Meryl Dunestal says, "I think you should leave until you’ve had time to reflect upon the insult you just levied upon my person." He turns to face the group as a whole. "Please accept my gratitude. You’ve done well. The gold is yours to fund whatever decisions you make in the coming days."
Mistress Bianca leans on her staff near the doorway.
Meryl Dunestal turns to Bianca kissing her hand. "Good day."
Bart: Thank you sir.
Meryl Dunestal opens the door to leave.
Mistress Bianca: Good day uncle.
Meryl Dunestal: Bart, keep those spirits on your side. You did a marvelous job navigating the Big Water from what I have heard.
Meryl Dunestal leaves the room and shuts the door.
There is still food and drink in the room.
Bart: I just followed the guidence given.
Rikard Castleberry takes a long drink of the strongest thing he can find on the table.
You find some good wine.
Casdegere Constantine sighs, clearly disappointed.
Rikard Castleberry selects the wine.
Bart: So what is next?
And the bag of coins still sits upon the table.
Rikard Castleberry: Well barring any new mysteries I wouldn’t be opposed to tracking down these cultists and showing them some manners. I don’t care for assaults on my comrades.
Bart: Are we comrades, Constantine?
Casdegere Constantine: I do not understand why the swampmen would of attacked us. What do you make of that Bart?
Mistress Bianca: Maybe they have met you before Mister Constantine.
Casdegere Constantine: I could look like many, but you Mistress, are…unique. No, I think there is more to it
Mistress Bianca: I meant something else entirely.
Bart: I have not been bothered by the swamp men in the past.
Mistress Bianca: I honestly do not know why we were attacked other than we were inside a temple where several swampmen were killed, holding a staff probably held by those that did the killing.
Casdegere Constantine: But they were upon us before we even exited the temple. I heard them coming.
Rikard Castleberry: It smells of a trap, to be sure.
Mistress Bianca: Or they wanted revenge for the deaths of their ilk. We simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Casdegere Constantine: I am inclined to think that more likely. Though I know very little about them.
Mistress Bianca: As much as I would love to read more into every detail I do not want to run off to seek retaliation for a misunderstanding.
Bart: Did you try speaking with them?
Rikard Castleberry: Yes, but the theft of the staff was certainly not a misunderstanding.
Mistress Bianca: This is true.
Casdegere Constantine: Those men spoke like men. Walked like men.
Mistress Bianca: I think the owners of that staff knew we would come back to town. The rest was easy.
Bart: Tell us about your battle.
Casdegere Constantine: Well, they used much stealth because I awoke to them standing above me.
Mistress Bianca: Told you that you snore.
Casdegere Constantine: When I refused to give them the staff, one of them clubbed me.
Bart: As tired as you were.
Casdegere Constantine gives Bianca a dry smile.
Mistress Bianca smiles pointlessy behind her mask.
Casdegere Constantine: They demanded it again and before they could club me. I rolled out of bed toward my spear and shield. I was hit hard in the head and almost went out but I managed to get to my feet and run out the door.
A young lady enters the room and begins cleaning up the uneaten food. She cleans around the bag of coins.
Mistress Bianca: Maybe they left some clue in your home.
Rikard Castleberry: Hey there good lookin, what’s your name?
She smiles and curtsies, but says nothing.
Bart: But as I have told you before.
Rikard Castleberry: ...
Mistress Bianca: Uncle had her tongue cut out for flirting with the guests.
Casdegere Constantine loses his train of thought and tries not to smirk.
The young lady gives Bianca an evil look.
Mistress Bianca laughs.
Casdegere Constantine: Um…well, I had not looked for any evidence.
Bart: Did you wound any of them?
Casdegere Constantine: I did not, I was to busy being clubbed almost to unconsciousness.
Mistress Bianca: Well we can go and look for something they have left behind.
The woman finishes her cleaning and leaves.
Casdegere Constantine: That may not be a bad idea.
Casdegere Constantine decides to open the coin pouch and divy up the coins.
Bart smiles and answers Contantine, “At least we have found something you do well.”
Casdegere Constantine chuckles “Well, my father taught me well.”
There are 120 gold coins. Sixty was the original reward. You were paid twice the amount agreed upon at the start.
Casdegere Constantine makes 4 piles of 30 coins each.
Rikard Castleberry takes his share and continues to drink his wine.
Bart adds one pile to his pouch.
Casdegere Constantine waits for Bianca to take her share.
Bart: To your home Casdegere?
Mistress Bianca takes her share of the gold.
Casdegere Constantine takes his share last. "Yes, The Mistress has me curious about the propect of finding some trace."
Mistress Bianca: Let us hope they did.
Casdegere Constantine moves toward the door.
Mistress Bianca opens the door and exits seeing if the servant girl she pissed off is around.
Rikard Castleberry also looks around for the servant girl.
You make your way through town. The day is already hot and sweat pools in your armpits. Most people pay you no mind, but a few stare at Bianca. Soon you arrive at the Constantine house.
Bart looks disapointed.
A small home with only 3 rooms: a bedroom, kithchen, and living room.
Mistress Bianca waits for Casdegere to enter first.
Casdegere Constantine: Bart, can you check for tracks around the house? The Jade Leaf didn’t investigate.
Casdegere’s uncle had few possessions.
Casdegere Constantine enters the house.
Bart takes his time walking around the house to get an idea of what happened last night.
Casdegere Constantine describes to everyone what happened and where.
Bart lays on the ground sniffing and tasting a speck on the ground.
Mistress Bianca watches Bart perform his search for tasty dirt.
Bart: They came from the west. Across the river.
Mistress Bianca: So that rules out townsfolk.
Rikard Castleberry: Anyone else interested in tracking these guys down?
Bart points west as he talks.
Casdegere Constantine: Well we can’t track them across water.
Mistress Bianca: Order of the Jade Leaf is not out of the question anymore.
Casdegere Constantine: You believe them cultists?
Mistress Bianca: No, I believe them to want to find reason to undermine Uncle. They responded first to your distress no?
Rikard Castleberry: Perhaps we should follow these tracks and see where they go.
Casdegere Constantine: Yes, that is true. But what good does such an item have to them? Lead on.
Rikard Castleberry: Clearly anyone that would steal it in the middle of the night is not about to publicly say they are interested in it. We have to be sneaky.
Bart: We will need a boat to cross the river.
Mistress Bianca: We are tied to Meryl, with an item like that they could try tying him to cultists perhaps. Believe me this is all speculation.
Casdegere Constantine: Well, then we will need to know what such an item actually represents.
Rikard Castleberry: A boat shouldn’t be hard, we can just go rent another one.
Casdegere Constantine: Lead on Bart if you please.
Bart heads to the docks to rent another boat.
You easily rent another boat. As you leave, Vladimar Batu says to Bianca, “Hey, it wasn’t even my dog. Fooled you!”
Rikard Castleberry: Let head west!
Casdegere Constantine begins poling in the direction.
It does not take you long to cross that short stretch of water. You pass a few other boats of fishermen. Then you are across the “straits” and coasting along the eastern shore of the large island.
Bart explains where he wants to go.
Casdegere Constantine poles.
Bart: We need to search the coast for a spot where a boat has made a recent landing.
Casdegere Constantine nods and begins searching.
Bart scans the shore for some time. Casdegere get fidgity and thinks maybe he should push Bart overboard to get some revenge. But then Bart sees fresh marks on the shore, not older than a few hours, and not made by an aminal. Something was dragged through the brush.
Bart says “over there”.
Casdegere Constantine heads over.
Rikard Castleberry: Lets follow the really obvious tracks.
Mistress Bianca nods.
Bart: If they set a trap for us – then we still meet them.
Casdegere Constantine decides to drag the boat up a bit onto shore.
Bart strokes his companion. “Little mother will you guard our boat?”
The cat purrs and flicks her tail.
The shoreline is overgrown with bushes. Further inland, you see thick tangles of tree branches. It will be slow going.
Casdegere Constantine says, " These men did go somewhere. Where is their boat?" He takes a moment to don his armor. He also hangs back a little.
Everyone except Casdegere moves with quiet assurance. Casdegere’s armor creaks as he walks. After about 100 feet, you find a small swamp boat, smaller than yours. No poles are inside.
Bart will point to the boat and continue on.
Rikard Castleberry follows Bart.
Bart ducks under branches, quiet as a ghost. Every now and then he stops to check the ground, then waves you forward.
Bart motions for the party to slowly come forward so that he can point out a small building.
The wooden structure is about 20-25 feet on a side. Well tended.
Rikard Castleberry holds his spear at ready as he sneaks forward.
Casdegere Constantine looks for smoke coming out of the house.
Bart whispers “Shall I go see who is home?”
Rikard Castleberry nods an affirmative to Bart.
Mistress Bianca nods.
Casdegere Constantine can only see Bianca…nodding to someone.
Bart heads into the forest making his way closest to the building.
Bart moves forward, and if you didn’t see him, you wouldn’t know he was there. He reaches the building without apparent incident.
Bart looks for a window or door to listen to.
Bart moves up to the building and stands at the wall. You’re not sure what he is doing.
Mistress Bianca waits impatiently.
Casdegere Constantine impatiently watches Bianca wait impatiently.
Bart holds up two fingers.
Bart sees that the door opens inward. Handle on right, swings in to left. Bart then makes his way back to his comrades.
Bart: There are at least two inside but they do not seem wary.
Casdegere Constantine: Then it is likely that either their guards are elsewhere, or they are not the ones we seek.
Bart: They were speaking of not having to work for a while and how easy the job was.
Casdegere Constantine: Perhaps we should knock?
Mistress Bianca: Absolutely.
Rikard Castleberry: I will wait in the bushes here.
Bart: I shall wait by the window.
Casdegere Constantine: Their reaction could give us much toward their guilt.
Bart: That one on the side.
Casdegere Constantine knocks on the door. “Heyo to all inside!”
You hear absolute quiet.
Casdegere Constantine holds his shield and spear tightly. He whispers to Bianca, "Swords, being drawn, prepare.”
Mistress Bianca grips her staff tightly ready to strike.
Casdegere Constantine: Come now sirs, I am Casdegere Constantine from Kith’takharos, I wish to speak with thee inside.
Casdegere Constantine tries to intimidate, “If you throw down now, you will be given full quarter, refuse and we will be forced to enter.”
Rikard Castleberry thinks about kicking the door in.
You hear a voice from behind the door. “How do we know yer tellin’ the truth?”
Casdegere Constantine: Come now sir, I have given you my name and my words are on my honor.
The voice says, “What do you want from me? There ain’t nuthin’ in here."
Casdegere Constantine: Come out and speak your names, we shall speak.
Poacher: Speak from where you are!
Casdegere Constantine looks at Bianca unsure of how to proceed.
Mistress Bianca: My name is Mistress Bianca. Perhaps you have heard of me?
Poacher: Who the Hell are you, bitch!
Casdegere Constantine: Now that will be enough swine! Drop your weapons or we shall hold you here for the Jade Leaf!
Mistress Bianca: My my. Uncle Meryl will not be pleased to hear how you have spoken to me.
Rikard Castleberry makes sure his weapon is ready for action.
Mistress Bianca: He has a short temper and is quick to anger. He has had men killed who have insulted him, or me. Now, perhaps we can talk like civilized adults?
Poacher: Talk! I’m listenin’.
Mistress Bianca: Tell us about this “Easy money we have heard you talk so much about."
Poacher: The Jade Leaf can kiss my pimply ass!
Mistress Bianca: HA! I am not of the Jade Leaf.
Poacher: You said you was gonna turn us over to ‘em!
Rikard Castleberry feels confused.