Legion of Dorks: Dungeons and Dorks S2E3
Originally posted on LegionofDorks.com.
The next morning tucked away nice and comfy in the Silver Flood Inn, our party stirs. Kizmyth hears an odd scratching sound and bolts upright. She immediately notices her bag of badgers is empty. Some gouges in the wooden floor lead her under the bed where the two young badgers are digging the walls and floor boards for bugs to eat.
For a single moment, Kizmyth wishes they were sea otters instead. Now those she could wrangle without breaking a sweat. She still hadn’t figured out the ins and outs of this forest creature, but those striped pointy noses were too cute to turn away.
“Ah, precious!” she says as she shakes her bag to encourage them to climb back in.
The rest of the party gathers their gear and attempts to ignore the badger dilemma. When the badgers continue to dig for bugs and ignore Kizmyth, she turns to Winston and blinks at him rapidly.
In her little girl voice she’s found works so well with men in taverns, she asks him, “Winston, can you please bless my bag with some of your elixir?”
Winston’s eyebrows raise, creasing his forehead. “I don’t think I work that way. Blessing is not my thing.”
Max laughs. “After all you drank last night, I’m sure you could make some ‘blessings.’”
Kizmyth crosses her arms as these men seem to be immune to her charms. “Don’t you dare pee on Aristotle or Demetrius.”
Grumbling under his breath about the waste of time, Winston offers, “I have my plate gauntlets? That might help.”
“Let’s see how that goes.” Kizmyth holds her bag open and blinks at him.
He shakes his head and hands her one gauntlet while he dons the other. Together they each have a hand on the bag with the armored one gently moving toward the occupied badgers. The creatures growl until the bag gets close enough that they sniff the air around it. They look at each other and scurry into the bag. With a few mighty licks of the wine soaked leather, the young badgers curl up and go to sleep.
Max hefts his bag onto his shoulder and asks, “Can we get some breakfast? Cause I’m really hungry.”
Kizmyth mocks him. “You’re three foot nothing. Simmer down, short stuff.”
Max’s hand squeezes the handle of his dagger and wanders if he left his old life too soon. What’s one more? “Look here, Kizmyth, you better watch it or those badgers will be gone in no time.”
“If you touch my badgers, you’ll end up a foot shorter.” Kizmyth considers his confident stance for such a small stature, and tilts her head. “Also, I like you.”
Ianeak and Errias shake their heads as they follow the crazy ones downstairs.
The barkeep tosses mostly warm porridge into wooden bowls as they reach the bottom of the stairs. One drunk is curled up loudly snoring by the hearth, but otherwise, it’s pretty quiet this early in the morning.
Max says, “I smell bacon.”
The barkeep raises an eyebrow as she violently shakes some pretty sticky food-like substance off a large spoon.
Winston smiles at her, “I’ll have some eggs and bacon.”
She pushes a decidedly not-steaming bowl at him. “We’ve got gruel.”
Kizmyth rubs her hands together. “Yes, hit me up with some gruel.”
Winston looks at her like she has the same refined tastes as her badgers, then turns to the barkeep. “Is that like oatmeal?”
“It’s whatever we have left. And we’ve seen you much worse off than you are now. Just eat.”
Winston grumbles, “Well, I was hoping to taste it this morning.”
As she doles out enough for each party member, she asks Errias, “What about you, Horned One?”
Errias casts resistance on himself, unsure of the safety of the breakfast he must eat or risk hurting the feelings of the owner.
“And you?” She shoves a bowl in front of Ianeak.
He backs up a step like she tried to feed him slugs. “No, no, NO!”
The barkeep shrugs. “Regardless, settle up. One silver a piece for the bed and the breakfast.”
As they all lay the silver on the bar, some more reluctantly than others, the barkeep motions out the door. “We already have the wagon and horse hitched and ready to go out front. Ironeater said y’all would be in a hurry.”
Eager to hit the road and do some good in the world, Errias leads the horse through the gate toward Cromm’s Hold to the southwest. Winston joins him, a little more nervous about what they might encounter. Kizmyth climbs into the wagon and somehow manages to curl up between the box of weapons and the side of the wagon. Years of sleeping on rocking decks make this set-up more comfortable to her than the fluffiest of mattresses. Still hungry, Ianeak walks beside the cart.
With a lump in his gut from the filling but unsatisfying breakfast, Max lounges atop the haflinger. Uncomfortable with the halfing’s back across his neck, the cart horse tries to shake him off. Max smoothly stays on his back and calms the horse with gentle patting. The haflinger relinquishes his fight, but refuses to feel guilty if Max falls off.
A few hours into the trip, Ianeak hears a scraping sound. He opens his robe to check on Todd. He comes out and scurries around Ianeak’s ear and then heads back into his usual pocket. It’s not Todd. Then Ianeak realizes Kizmyth’s bag is moving in a decidedly animated manner.
He shakes Kizmyth awake. “Your walking food is moving. Deal with it.”
Kizmyth rubs her eyes while somehow simultaneously glaring at Ianeak. “What food?”
Kizmyth is wide awake now. “You eat badgers?”
Ianeak tucks his hands in his robe. “If they continue to cause problems.”
Kizmyth clutches the squirming bag protectively. “That’s how you deal with things?”
Ianeak focuses on the road ahead. “I am a great old one warlock. What do you expect of us?”
Kizmyth jumps down on the opposite side of the wagon from Ianeak and manages to find some grubs and larger insects to toss in the bag to satisfy her new buddies. They kind of smile at her or maybe it was a growl, hard to tell, then back to sleep with them.
After another few hours, the party comes up to a large fort with walls made of sharpened tree stumps about three stories high. A wooden door on hinges looks all but welcoming as the two guards at the gate eye the motley group suspiciously.
The guards’ casual stance morphs to attention and the guy on the right points to Errias. “Hey, you, horned-guy, what are you doing here?”
In his usual friendly manner, Errias replies, “We’re here with much needed supplies from Beargon in Daggersford.”
The guard puts his back to the wall and shoves his buddy through the gate. “Eli, go get the Captain of the Guard. Go. GO!”
The remaining guard points at Errias, the only party members he’s looked at so far. “Don’t move.”
Max slides off the haflinger and stands beside Winston. “Maybe you should take over.”
Winston rolls his shoulders. “I wasn’t worried. Not unless someone starts swinging.”
Errias waves his tail around as he tries to calm the tension. “No one is going to start swinging. I’m here in my priestly vestments. Everything’s fine.”
The guard cringes with an audible yell. “Did you just move that tail?”
Errias has no idea what has set off the guard. “You mean like this.” And he swishes his tail in a harmless wave.
The guard gags. “Don’t do that.”
Winston takes one step forward. “I’m sorry. Is there a problem here?”
“There might be. Hold on.” And the guard yells for Eli to hurry up.
Errias waves off the nervousness of his party members. “This is way better than I usually get. We’re going to be fine.”
A large man in chainmail with a tabard, embroidered with a fort and the title Cromm’s Hold, steps through the gate. His annoyed expression melts to shock at seeing a tiefling. “I’m Captain of the guard here. And who might you be?”
When Errias explains that they have the long awaited arms from Baergon, the captain decides to draw faith from his religious attire. Plus, his men could easily take down this rag-tag group. Compared to the almost constant fly-eater attacks, these five posed no threat.
The captain leads them straight to the armory and orders the cart unloaded. Young squires pour out of the barracks to the left of the gate and haul the strongbox off the cart, like an army of ants mindlessly following his commands.
Max takes in the dirty town, much like any other fort he’s seen. “What do you need these weapons for?”
The captain doesn’t even turn to look at him. “That is none of your business.”
Winston adds. “We heard there were some lizardmen terrorizing this town. Is there any truth to this?”
The captain scoffs at such a suggestion. “Terrorizing? No. The lizardmen are entirely under control.”
“That’s what I thought. Terrorizing.” Winston rubs his unshaven chin. “I’ve seen this before. You don’t have to put on a brave face with me, soldier.”
“And who are you to wear those colors?”
“I’m Winston Stonebrew of the city guard of Watersdeep, retired.”
The captain looks Winston up and down with a bit of respect.
While the two old soldiers are talking, Kizmyth leans close to Max. “Can we loot these jerks?”
Max sighs at her impulsivity. Though he has already pondered the same thing. “Yes, but first I’m more interested in where this conversation is heading.”
Kizmyth adjusts the bag over her shoulder and looks around the town for easy targets. The town has stables and an inn on the west side by the gate. The barracks that they’re in front of are adjacent to a munitions bunker where the strongbox was hauled. On the other side of the fort is a somewhat busy market, though what they sell can’t be seen from where the party waits. The top floors of fancy housing rises above the market. In the far southeast corner gathers a large, raucous crowd of humans and dwarves. There is no sign of lizardmen or any other race.
With the captain, Winston and Errias learn that William Waverley delivered a shipment of arms a few times to Cromm’s Hold. But one night, he just took off and they hadn’t seen him since.
Winston gets the captain to agree to let them walk freely around town. Though they’re warned that the reaction of the guard to the tiefling would be pretty typical in this hold and the surrounding settlements.
With a clap of his hands, Winston squints at the surrounding area and looks longingly at the tavern. He clears his throat to focus himself as much as get everyone else’s attention. “Shall we look for Xanic Ironeater while there’s still light?”
The loud group of mostly men gathered around the southeast side of the hold seems to be the most logical place to start. Errias cheerfully marches right up and into the crowd to get a look at what they’re all cheering at. The crowd parts like the tiefling’s on fire, running over the top of each other to get away. A loud crunch and a mighty groan encourage the rest of the party to run to catch up.
They see a pit dug about two feet into the ground with a weak wooden railing built around to keep the crowd from falling in. Except directly in front of Errias, where the fence is broken and three men scurry in the thin mud to get away.
A commanding female voice rises up above the turmoil. “Alright, you lot, settle down. What’s going on? Who’s ruining my ring?”
The crowd on the other side of the ring part and a human woman, taller than Winston, hops into the ring. She zeroes in on the outsiders immediately and marches toward them. “For the record, you just lost me 15gp.”
Errias rubs a horn. “You didn’t collect the bets before…”
She shakes her head. “I run a clean business here. If the fight doesn’t happen, they get their money back. So now we’re back around to you owing me 15gp.”
Three large men, wearing white capes that stand out in this area where most of the people are brown-coated from the dirt and the mud flung about, flank the woman. Max squints at them and the money bags they hold sizing up if they would be easy targets or not.
Errias smiles, his fangs peeking through his lips. “I’m very sorry you lost some money. We weren’t trying to cause any trouble. We were just trying to see what was going on here.”
A gleam shines in the woman’s eyes as she watches the crowd disperse while making sideways glances at the tiefling.
She says, “Well, the way I see it, you owe me 15gp. How are you at fighting?”
The question takes Errias by surprise. He tries to avoid it at all costs and attempts to keep everyone around him from fighting as well. “Not very.”
She nods at the white-caped men behind her. “We’ve not had a tiefling fight here in a long time. We could settle your debt and make you some gold in the process.”
Kizmyth sighs. “He’s a pacifist.”
The woman looks horrified at the concept, then her face settles down as she sets her mind to talking him into it. The gold has too much potential to turn down so easily.
Errias tries to cut her off. “If you want a party or a festival or anything that our Lady of Joy could help with, I’d be more than willing to make that happen.”
She shrugs off the suggestion. “I am Deellena and before we negotiate further, we should head to my house.” She waves in the direction of the fancy three story houses. “Mine is that gorgeous one with the impossibly white shutters.”
The ranger waves her hand. “I’m Kizmyth.”
Deellena flings her arm over the tiefling. “And you are?”
Kizmyth interrupts, “Hairyass.”
“Hairyass?” Deellena checks out his gorgeous smooth tail. “To each his own. Well, Hairyass, would you be okay with fighting that is more show and less bruising?”
As the group approaches a large wrap around porch, Kizmyth holds her shoulder bag up. “Can I release my badgers in your house? They’re great with pest control.”
“Badgers? In my house?” Deellena freezes, looking unsure of herself for the first time since she appeared. “Why don’t you release them into the garden instead? There’s plenty for them to eat.”
Kizmyth opens the flap of her bag and the little badgers pop up and sniff the air. She wants to pet them, but her finger tips haven’t completely healed yet. They jump out of the bag and scurry to the back of the house. “Please come back,” Kizmyth makes a silent prayer.
The party enters the house right behind Deellena. A scurry of servants stops what they’re doing and stares at the newcomers surrounding their mistress.
“Go about what you’re doing.” Deellena is obviously annoyed at their over attentiveness as two maids sweep the floor around their feet as mud drops onto the waxed wood. “Set the table. Make sure to have plenty of those fresh mangoes out.”
She leads them to a formal dining room and sets Errias down beside her. Everyone else finds chairs around the table big enough for fifteen. Kizmyth dives right into the mangoes. Ianeak and Max also enjoy the fresh food after their horrible breakfast and half a day’s travel without any vittles.
Deellena tries to convince Hairyass to fight for her. She tells him it can just be a show. Max tunes out the discussion as his thief instincts size up the take of this luxurious house. He guesses there’s silver in the fine dining ware cabinet. And the stairs leading up have shelves of carved animals and flowers in cloudy, green stone. He’d need a closer look, but he’s pretty sure those are jade. Definitely worth a pretty penny. Maybe he could convince Errias to go along with the fight and they could rob Deellena while she’s distracted. That would dissuade much of the guilt he would carry from throwing a fight.
“Do you have any water?” Winston asks.
Deellena looks at him like he just swallowed a bug. “Water? You know we live in a swamp, right? But if you want some of the rotten-egg, muddy nastiness…”
Winston waves off a horrified-looking servant and raises a glass of wine.
Deellena’s conversation brings Max’s mind back to the table. “I used to have a much more robust fighting circle, but we’ve lost quite a few to the lizardmen.”
Max asks, “How much of a problem are the lizardmen?”
She shrugs, but the action doesn’t hide her tension. “They rarely get through the gates, but if you leave or enter from the swamp side, as many of the outer settlers do, you risk your life.”
Waving off the threat, Deellena bites another mango. “They’re really not that sophisticated. They can barely speak even in that horrible tongue, Draconic, or whatever it’s called. Their weapons are primitive. But they’re big and strong and that tail—” she eyes Errias’s smooth one that swishes around like it has a mind of its own, “it’s not as sexy as Hairyass’s here—but it will take you down.”
She sighs. “But that is our role out here in the bug-infested swamp. We are the barrier between the lizardmen and Daggerford. Nothing wrong with making shiny coin while we risk our neck to protect the pancy-asses in that fart of a town.”
Winston takes a heavy drink of his fourth glass of wine. “So what you’re looking for is a crowd draw.”
“That is exactly what I’m looking for.” Deellena leans on the table because someone is finally understanding her.
Winston pesters Deellena about how her men are treated and how much is real and how much is show and the more he talks, the more he drinks, and the more belligerent he gets. He decides the whole thing is fake, even though Deellena demonstrates with one of her white capped men that the fighting is real, but exaggerated with fake blood bladders placed in certain areas.
Kizmyth keeps shoving food in her mouth. Fresh fruit and vegetables is like candy to her since there is so little of it when out to sea. “Oh my gods, it’s going to be so much fun you guys.”
Winston scoffs at her enthusiasm. “I’m less worried about the fighting and more worried about cheating the common folk.”
Ianeak pushes his plate aside. “Did you miss the part where she said they were paying for entertainment?”
“My gods believe in free will,” explains Deellena. “I don’t force anyone to bet. I don’t even force them to buy tickets.”
Errias sides with Winston. “That’s not happiness though.”
Ianeak raises an eyebrow. “Have you never seen anyone get bludgeoned? That’s entertainment.”
Errias argues, “Sometimes, I’ve been the one doing the bludgeoning and they didn’t appear happy.”
The warlock tucks his hands in his robes. “No one cares about the one being bludgeoned.”
Errias shakes his head. Bottle in hand, Winston stands and heads for the door with Errias right behind him.
In shock, Deellena watches them go unable to come to grips with people who don’t want to make money. She tries to salvage her day with the remaining visitors and offers them the good stuff whiskey.
“I tell you though, without the tiefling, I don’t know what’s the point.” Deellena downs her glass of whiskey and pours another. “I don’t know why he’s trying to protect these people. They don’t like his kind around here. They don’t deserve his protection.”
Max isn’t ready to let go of the possible profits yet. “What if we were able to sway the tiefling?”
Kizmyth wipes mango juice from her mouth. “Or what if we help with the lizardmen problem to raise our standing? Then we could make even more money, right?”
“Lizard problem?” Deellena’s growing more aggressive as the alcohol and disappointment set in. “The lizards have always been a problem and will always be a problem. It’s true they’ve been attacking more often lately. But there’s no reasoning with a group you can’t even talk to.”
Max becomes the voice of reason. “I’m pretty sure we can convince Errias, errr, Hairyass. But first, we need to make sure we come out on the right side of this financially.”
Deellena says, “If we can get him in that ring, the whole town will bet against him. If we get him to win—without magic, that’s forbidden, as are weapons—then we will make some skin.”
Max leans toward Ianeak. “How likely are you to go down?”
Deellena automatically objects. “Oh no, we don’t fix fights around here. At least, not with my knowledge.” And she takes a sip of whiskey and stares at the ceiling.
The three remaining party members leave and join Errias and Winston who are already most of the way to the one tavern in town. As they catch up, the young badgers scurry to Kizmyth from the barracks area, the complete opposite side of town where she left them. She’s so delighted that they actually returned to her she doesn’t notice what they’re carrying at first. She kneels down and opens the bag for them to crawl inside when she sees they each carry an object. One is a huge shiny scale while the other is a feather with a hole through its shaft like it was used for jewelry.
The furry ones allow Kizmyth to pet them a bit as she takes the items from them. She holds up the scale to the group. “Does anyone know what this is?”
Max takes it from her and notices one edge is still wet. “Um, I think this thing is fresh.”
Adventure to continue Monday, September 23rd at or around 8:30pm EST on Twitch.tv/2dorkstv.
Hope to see you then!