"I don't like what is going on with Kaynin as chief of the McCains" he says, "There's a clan of dwarves that live up north, known as the Firin. They are pledged to speak the truth and never ever to lie. If they could send some dwarves here, it would help. You can meet their chief in the city of Great Whiteminister, capital of Westerland."
As dwarf to dwarf, Pint can hardly refuse.
He takes a ship to the port of Leymouth. There he meets some other travellers. They are warned that the road to Great Whiteminster is dangerous, and infested with orc bandits. However they are only active at night. They must therefore break their journey in two places, at the Royal Mile Inn, and at Fort Middlesburgh. Both of these places have detachments of troops, which will keep the travellers safe. You hire horses for the journey.
The road leads through forest, and is muddy. At one time it was paved and passable by chariots, but now the paving stones are overturned and it has largely turned into a trail, though still traversed by peasants' carts in sections. At about four O'Clock, as dusk is drawing in, you come to the inn. It is set in a clearing in the forest, and there is an earth rampart around it topped by a wooden palisade. There is a sign, and a rope with a bell. You tug on the rope, and a man with a balding head of hair unbars the gate.
"Hello," he says, "I'm Mick, the landlord here. I expect you'll be wanting rooms for the night. Can you tell me who you are, and what your business is here?"
Anxious to get inside the gates and not worry about the orc bandits, Brenna answered the landlord's questions with a friendly tone.
"Good evening, sir. I'm Brenna Collins," she said, then pointed to each of her companions for this trek. "This is Pint, Akuma, and Meyeira. We're traveling on to Great Whiteminister. And would very much like rooms, and stabling for the horses if possible."
She wasn't a huge fan of horses and might have preferred to walk, but with the short days this time of year there was little hope she could have covered enough ground to get here before dark without the use of one. At least the buckskin gelding she was riding had a willing temperament, even if his gait was a bit choppy. Sitting down with a nice pint of ale and a hot dinner near the fire would be welcome to let her sore muscles relax.
Still, Pint would prefer not spilling fellow dwarven blood if it wasn't necessary, and he was happy that the chief of the Dunstans posed an alternative. Why, this job he might even do for free!
...Just kidding, of course he's going to ask for payment.
Er.. Pint is getting paid for this right?
Anyway, even if he didn't get paid or if it was meager income, the thrill of adventure and the opportunity to bring glory to his Bloodhorns clan was sometimes payment enough for the stalwart dwarven mercenary.
He took the journey to Great Whiteminster and rubbed his palms in anticipation when he was 'warned' that there were orcs about.
Oh boy, Orcs!! It had been a while since Pint had gotten to kill any. He was eager to slaughter those loathsome beasts and take their scalps. Clan Bloodhorns always paid handsomely for any Orc scalp regardless of the region. Mayhap this journey could still prove to be lucrative for good ol' Pint.
Along the journey it seemed he had accidentally acquired some companions though. Pint was reluctant to state his business or partner along with people that didn't look like fighters, but ultimately he felt compelled to party up with people that may be in need of protection. What is it with him and always ending up as someone's bodyguard anyway?
Still, having Brenna along proved useful as she could handle the obnoxious task of talking to people while he stood off to the sidelines. He much rather let his Urgrosh do the talking.
As Brenna talked to the innkeeper, Pint kept a hand ready on the grip of his Urgrosh. Eyes scanning around for any potential trouble.
rolled 1d20 and got a natural 16. After the modifier of ++1, got 17
rolled 1d20 and got 7
Neither Pint nor Akuma notice anything untoward. The inn is surrounded by an earthwork, about 8 foot high except at the gate, where it reduces to four feet, and topped by a wooden palisade. The palisade has no battlements, so cannot withstand a determined siege, but it would keep out wild animals and casual attackers. However there's a tower with a battlement on top of the inn itself. The forest is coniferous, so despite the fact it is winter the trees still have green needles,, and they provide good cover for ambushes. However you can't see any signs of people or orcs lying in wait.
"The stables are within the compound" says bald Mick, "Samuel will see to your horses and I'll get places ready for you at the inn."
You dismount and lead your horses through the compound. There are two large and vicious dogs, which get excited when they see Akuma. They bark and sniff, until bald Mick calls them off. There are also a few chickens rooting around. There's a pig sty, and a cow, and a vegetable patch which is strung out for peas, though no peas are actually growing.
The stable is large, and smells strongly of horse manure. It's full of vermin, rats scurry about in the litter. There's tack, a supply of horseshoes and nails, and a small anvil and forge which isn't lit up, but could be pressed into service as an emergency smithy. Samuel holds a large pitchfork, which he uses to loosen the manure-encrusted straw. "Can't I take your osses in hand, ladies and gentlemen?" he says, "aye, these be good osses. We don't get many good osses here. The folks with good osses, they ride all the way to Fort Middlesburg in the day. We get the slow traffic. But you do get a good oss in, by the by. Look at this one, cor that's a black beauty. 300 gp she's worth, if she's worth a copper. Then you've Captain Baring's nag. Sorry to say it, he should have a better oss, he should. Not that she won't get you about mind. But not your fastest fighting oss. And we've two mules for Inn supplies. That's all that's in, at the moment".
He takes your horses. "Is there anything else I can help you with?"
((Any new players please come in at this point ))
A melodic chuckle escaped her throat as she watched one of the chickens forage. She was fond of birds and their little antics, even the generally ground bound ones.
As she approached the stable, she had a quick glance inside before observing Samuel directly as he spoke, attempting to get a measure of his character from his behaviour. She offered a beaming smile as Samuel took her horse.
"Thank you so much, please take good care of her. She's a little bit of a character." The horse snorted as she was passed over, as if in denial of the (clearly true) statement. Meyeira chortled as the horse proved her statement correct.
rolled 1d20 and got a natural 10. After the modifier of +1, got 11
Perception check on Samuel
rolled 1d20 and got a natural 2. After the modifier of +1, got 3
Actually, now that he thinks about it a little bit more, this place looks like it had seen better days. The trail leading here was obviously in disrepair and what had been a proper road now its just a dirt trail. Pint wonders if this area had fallen to bad leadership.
Silently does he follow the group to the stables and he wrinkles his nose at the smell of manure. Contrary to popular belief dwarves are perfectly capable of riding horses since once on top of them it's just a matter of keeping their feet on the stirrups. However it does present it's fair amount of challenges, dwarves are shorter than humans which makes getting in and out of the saddle difficult, and they are also heavier than humans so that tires the horse out faster. It's a bad relationship for both the dwarf and the horse and Pint is all too eager to send his own mare on her way to the stables. "'Ere, give the lass some rest, must be tired from hauling me all the way 'ere." He says handing the reigns to Samuel.
Now camels on the other hand, thinks Pint, are perfect for dwarves. Sure, they don't run as fast as horses but they can sit down which makes easy access to the saddle, and they can carry a lot more which makes the weight difference irrelevant. Plus, as Pint found out one time, horses hate the smell of camels which gave him a distinct advantage that one time he was forced to fight a knight in horseback... too bad camels probably won't like being this far up north.
As he was deep in thought Pint was interrupted by a rat getting too close to him and he stomped it, squishing the vermin to bits.
"Ey mate, ye oughta do somethin' bout these rats. They carry disease ye know?" Said the dwarf to Samuel as he kicked the rat's corpse away.
With only 3 equines in residence, there was really no excuse for it to be as dirty as it was. And had she actually owned the buckskin gelding, she wasn't sure she would have trusted his care to Samuel. But whatever. If the poor animal ended up with lice after a night here, it really wasn't her problem.
"No, thank you," she said, ensuring to retrieve the sealed missive she had stored in the saddle bag before handing over the gelding's reins after the others had handed over their mares. Somehow she didn't trust the bags wouldn't be rifled through... or simply end up with rat piss on them.
"Let's hope there's something hot for dinner, huh?" she said to her companions as she headed toward the inn.
Meyeira rather takes to Samuel. She thinks he is honest and straightforwards. But he has a swelling on his neck. She recognises this as scrofula - probably caused by close contact with rats and their associated lice.
The dogs come back to Akuma. One is black and shaggy, and the other has golden hair and is more curious. "Lupus, Rex" calls bald Mick - Rex is the one with the golden hair. Even a roll of three is enough for Akuma to realise something. ((But we'll see if you can get it)).
You leave the stable and follow bald Mick into the inn. Bald Mick asks you a few questions about the uneventful journey - you haven't seen any sign of orcs, and no problems with any of the horses.
"How many rooms to you require?" he asks, "a room is 3gp, then there's a supplement of 10sp per person. Sorry for the high prices. If it weren't for the King's taxes, I could let you have it for 2gp, but the taxes are very heavy. 1gp of that is tax. But Miss Brenna, of course we have hot food."
A man in a cook's uniform appears. "Allo" he says, in a thick Petulan accent (Petula is over the sea, to the south, and is a friendly country). "I be taking your orders for dinner tonight. It is a choice of coq a la Normande, or as you say, 'chicken stew' or tarte au poisson, or pie of fishes. Coq is 5sp, tarte au poisson, 8sp."
"Thank you Alfonce" says bald Mick. You are standing in the porch. You can see through to the inn, which doesn't seem to be very busy. There's a picture of a young man with a stunningly beautiful young woman.
"I hope so too - say, did you see the infection on that poor man's neck? I really don't think he should be working in such conditions." The look of worry was clear on her face as the party made it's way into the inn, and the elf remained cautious when inside about what she should touch.
As the landlord listed the prices to them, Meyeira glanced amongst her companions and offered a polite shrug. "I don't mind sharing a room." She offered; eager to save a coin or two where she could. As for the dinner options, she seemed uncertain. The idea of eating a harmless bird made her stomach turn, but trust the fish to be the expensive option. "I do apologise, but have you any... non-meat options?" The bard's face flushed, and she shifted uncomfortably at the notion that she was being one of 'those' customers.
Right before leaving the stable, Pint approaches Sam and motions for him to come closer to give him 25 pieces of gold. "Go get yerself some cats, eh? That oughta get ye a litter somewhere. And get ye some medicine for that rash too, aye?" Pint is plenty greedy but it looks like he's just as eager to give away his money as he is to acquire it. After all, he's just come back from a big job so he's pretty loaded.
Similarly, when they return to the inn and Meyeira suggests that she can share a room, Pint waves it off and is eager to pay for everyone. "Ey, no need for that, I can pay for everyone's room and food if needed. We only got what.. one, two, three.. err..." He notices that Akuma probably staid back to play with the dogs.
"Where's that dog girl? Oi! Akuma! Come back 'ere or yer not getting any dinner! Donna make me put a leash on ye, lass! Cuz I will!"
"We could still share," she says quickly to the elf after Pint makes his offer. "Long as there a trundle bed or a cot or something? And thank you, Pint. That is really very generous of you." And unexpected... was he simply a generous fellow? Or did he like people owing him favors? She'd met even fewer dwarves than she had elves, so really didn't know, but judging on how he'd given Samuel money to take care of the rat problem, she suspected the former.
"Chicken stew for me, please," she says, digging out the few coins for that, not wishing to take advantage of the dwarf too much. She didn't have a lot of money, but enough to cover her own way, at least for the trip to Great Whiteminster and back.
Her eyes go to the picture of the man and beautiful woman, slightly curious about who it depicts. Maybe Mick in his younger years along with his wife?
rolled 1d20 and got a natural 17. After the modifier of +3, got 20
Perception check for picture
rolled 1d20 and got 19
You agree on two rooms, one for Pint and the other for the ladies. ((D&D prices can't be translated easily into modern terms, as all the relative prices are different. Most people are much poorer than they are now. But a gp is worth maybe 25-50 American dollars. Of course an American dollar will buy you no magic at all, unless you describe mobile phones as magic items)).
Brenna takes a good look at the picture. It seems to be a wedding portrait, the young man looks reasonably like bald Mick back in the days when he had a full head of hair. But it is too expensive to belong to an innkeeper, she feels. Only nobles or very rich merchants would be able to afford to have something like that painted, it is executed so well. However it wouldn't be worth much to a thief, no-one apart from the subjects would be too interested in it, presumably.
Bald Mick shows you to your rooms, and carries up Brenna's heavy saddle bag. "Take your heavy armour off" he says, "your weapons will be safe here as well. We've got guards. Come down when you are ready."
The rooms are small but they have little fireplaces, and feather beds, which are of course full of lice and vermin - there's no easy way of getting rid of them in the middle of the winter. The chamber pots aren't washed out as often as they really ought to be either, which is less excusable.
A maid comes in and makes up your fires. She has a scowl on her face, and doesn't seem to be enjoying her job. "If you need anything else, just tell me" she says, in a tone of voice that means, "please don't bother". "My name's Martha".
As the others descend the staircase to the main inn, they see Nakon at the bar. He didn't travel with the main party but was slightly behind.
The bar is a large room with a floor of broken stone tiles, a massive fireplace in the centre with a roaring log fire, and a wooden bar about fifteen feet long. The windows are narrow slits for security, and as a result it is quite dark and smoky, even in the failing daylight. The main light is from the fire, and from torches attached to brackets in the walls. Ale is served in pewter tankards embossed with the royal seal. There are a few rather expensive glass bottles of wine. The ale is dispensed from tapped casks behind the bar, and there are a couple of wenches working. It's a homely atmosphere, with hunting trophies on the walls, deer and wild boar, and fresh reeds on the floor. An elderly man and a man in military uniform are sitting at a upturned barrel used as a table, sipping ale. Two disreputable looking men are propping up the bar, and they have small, unattractive eyes, upturned noses, and ugly, misshapen ears. They're dressed in black leathers
Most prominent, however, is a shield above the fireplace. It's emblazoned with a lion rampant, and under it there's wooden plank with about a dozen small lidless eyes painted up as a tally. .
Meyeira also offered her deepest thanks for Pint's generosity; something she was unaccustomed to from dwarves, going from those merchants she had had dealings with in the past. She wondered if that was just a merchant thing, going by how generous Pint had been thus far.
To Alphonse, Meyeira did her best to showcase how thankful she was at his offer of a seperate dish with a small bow of her head - he was, of course, not obliged to do so, so she appreciated the option despite the slight insult that was thrown along with it. "That sounds delicious, thank you so much. How much would I owe you for that meal?" Tilting her head, the bard gave what she hoped was a charismatic smile, to disarm the man from any upset she had caused.
By the time they were shown to their rooms, Meyeira offloaded her luggage but retained her small lyre which she tucked under one arm quite comfortably. She was clearly used to bringing it everywhere with her, and couldn't imagine showing face in a bar without it. She waited politely for the rest of the group, before following Akuma downstairs to the communal area, keen to settle down someplace warm.
rolled 1d20 and got a natural 11. After the modifier of +2, got 13
Charisma (Persuasion) on Alphonse
"Sod me, gimme one of each!" Said the dwarf to Alfonce, feeling like he ought to treat himself to a proper meal after the journey and the mess that was the McCain mine. "And some ale too! Warm ale! None of that cold horse piss neither!" Okay, now he was acting like a regular dwarf.
Similarly to Akuma, Pint had no intention to let others watch over his armor and gear. Particularly his Urgrosh which he practically slept with. "Nay thanks, I like to keep me axe close at hand."
As they were lead to their room to drop their stuff, Pint wrinkled his nose at the smelly chamber pots and the pillows full of bed bugs. "Oof.. yep.. sleeping bag it is." He muttered to himself before going back to communal area to join the others.
"Well, this place is a dump." He lowered his head trying to whisper to his traveling companions. "Hopefully the food is any good otherwise we might as well just camp outside."
Pint kept an eye on the ugly looking fellows and he glanced at the shield, but otherwise he didn't seem to be too interested in anything around him. Instead he seemed to prefer to let his more perceptive companions do the looking out for him. "Wot do ye lasses think? Not exactly five stars hotel, aye?"