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Unread 8th of June, 2016, 12:12
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Arrow Chapter 1: A Friend In Need

One of the common rooms in the Vulture was known to patrons as the Social, where the walls were comprised of polished wood and the fittings and rails gleaming brass, and a fire always roared in the great granite hearth. Situated on the North wall was a small stage wherein performers were retained to practice their various arts. The place was quite often a-bustle with folk looking to enjoy the company of their fellows in a setting that was almost wholesome in nature.

Today it was on the quieter side within, the sun still being at least an hour from setting and the inn itself rather emptier than usual. Behind the bar tall, silent Jayk endlessly polished glasses with a white cloth between fulfilling the infrequent orders from guests, answering any questions only with various nods and shakes of his head. Upon the stage, a handsome half-elf was finishing up a set, the boisterous notes of voice and lute rising to a crescendo and then fading away. He rose and bowed, the beginnings of a smile on his mobile lips and touching his clear green eyes as he slung the lute carelessly over one shoulder and swaggered off the stage.

He caught a serving girl around the waist and whispered something in her ear which made her laugh out loud, then he sent her away with a smack on the behind. Not watching her go, his eyes went toward the back of the room near the door, where sat a table reserved with a large placard displaying a stylized fox. As yet, the table was empty and Silas sighed, wondering if any of his leads would meet him or not. He'd seen the Zinnia about the inn not long past and was earnestly hoping she wasn't otherwise engaged at the present time and that she'd heed his summons. They'd exchanged a few words and jests now and again, and he'd gathered that she was a capable sorceress besides.

As was his wont, he kept tabs on the comings and goings of the interesting folk in town and not long back the warrior Nme had returned and was apparently convalescing. He didn't know the man personally but they shared at least some of the same heritage, so he couldn't be all as bad as the tales made out. Still, he also didn't seem like one to take on just any job so Silas had been hesitant to approach him directly. Sometimes it was wisest to play the snake rather than the bull - more oft than not, actually, if Silas himself was to be believed. At any rate, some judicious inquiry had led him to Jun Meowol - a human who didn't seem likely to turn down any job that led to a little coin. He'd sent a note over to him to meet him here to discuss, and if he knew any sturdy warrior to perhaps have them tag along.

Of course, his note had been more clever than all that - enough mystery to intrigue, enough promise to lure, and of course a generous bending of the truth to perhaps interest those with more altruistic concerns. Gundren Rockseeker was more generous than most dwarves on jobs like this, but he was also something of a local legend and was linked to a number of highly profitable successes and near bankrupting failures. However, he was also known (along with his two brothers) to be a staunch patriot when it came to keeping the good folk of this area of the world out of harm's way.

Silas sat at the table and waited with the ale the wench had brought. It wasn't like old Flynt to begrudge him a tab, not when he'd been so good about working it off on stage. Feed them and ply them with drink and astonish them with tales of what might be, and just perhaps he'd find a group to help him on the boring guard duty he'd agreed to take on. He took a long sip of the smooth pale brew and leaned back in his chair, stretching his long legs out and smiling at nobody in particular. Well, boring for someone else maybe but he could make anything sound interesting. Or so he told himself.
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Unread 9th of June, 2016, 04:11
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The door to the Inn opened and two figures stepped through. The first was obvious, tall, broad shouldered, hair that gleamed almost as much as his armour. The second was less conspicious woodsy sort.

Name cast his eyes around the room, taking note of everyone inside and shifting the bag slung over his shoulder to a more comfortable position, before turning to Jun to continue a conversation that had been started outside.

"I do it it, I really do. Give me half a chance to chose on my own and come sun or rain I'll be out there casting for my dinner. I love fishing and there's no sin in enjoying it. But the people who do it for sport? Not because they're hungry, not because they want to learn? And worse, the people who throw back the fish after catching it?"

Name shakes his head, moving out of the doorway and deeper into the room.

"There's always someone who needs a bit of extra food, even if you don't want it"
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Unread 9th of June, 2016, 04:44
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Work had been slow to come by these last weeks and Jun's coin reserve was on an all-time low. He'd had some luck finding a couple good fishing spots in a nearby creek, but his mouth watered everytime he thought of a hearty stew. His fingers had itched to simply take what he savoured when he strolled across the market a few days ago. Instead of giving in to his urge, he quickly moved away and went fishing... again.

Silas' offer sounded great, at least at first glance. Jun had learned the hard way to get the details of a job before accepting. But the employer had some renown, the money should be good and the bard was fun to be around to boot. Maybe it was the offer he'd been waiting for?

He'd thought of Nme immediately when he'd read "sturdy warrior". Jun liked the idea of having him along - it was always good to have a sturdy warrior standing between himself and a possible threat. Luckily the man had agreed to tag along and see what this was about.

Jun entered the Vulture first, looked about and casually moved to join Silas at his table without further ado. Offering a quick smile, he offered his hand in greeting. "Afternoon, Silas." He indicated Nme with his thumb. "Brought Nme along," he added, making an effort to pronunciate the name correctly. He didn't want to be corrected again. "Let's hear what this is about, Silas. Any chance you'll buy a round?"
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Unread 9th of June, 2016, 11:53
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The Lusty Vulture. How long had Zin been here now? Two weeks? Three? She was beginning to lose count of the days. Not good... not good... It felt like a waste of time, waiting here for something to happen, even if she was intrigued by the old ramshackle place. Rumors of dungeons and catacombs were whispered in corners. But even so Zin was quite sure that she wasn't meant to wander the maze of corridors here without purpose for long.

And here was opportunity at last! She read Silas' note with rising excitement and hurried to get ready to meet him at the appointed time. She got out her good robes, which shed had no excuse to wear recently, and arranged her appearance carefully. She wanted Silas - and the others there, if there were others - to take her seriously. She smiled as she looked down at herself. The robes were a beautiful gray-green that shimmered in the light and were trimmed with tiny copper beads and sequins that jingled softly when she moved. She wore copper hoops in her ears and silver and copper bangles on her bare arms. She decided that she did indeed look very sorcerous.

And so Zin entered the room called the Social just a few minutes behind Jun and Name. She noted Silas lounging at his table, and the man and the haelf there also, apparently newly arrived. She moved to join them, feeling a little deflated as she approached and saw how they towered over her. But she gamely offered her greeting after Juns. Greetings all. Its a pleasure to see familiar faces here, a sign of good fortune I hope.
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Unread 9th of June, 2016, 22:28
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Silas rose as the Jun approached, stroking the roguish chin-beard he sported as he appraised the pair. When Jun got closer, he seized the other man's forearm and slapped him on the shoulder jovially, his face breaking into a wide grin. He signaled the bar maid again and she quickly disappeared into the kitchen.

"Ha! You know me better than to ask, don't you Jun - I trust you're still hooked on that southern ale?"

He shifted his gaze as he stepped back from the human, nodding his head to the Haelf he'd brought with him. They shared a lineage, to be sure, though Silas' rough and tumble appearance was worn with a good deal of style while NÃ me was more practical. He offered a hand out to him, his green eyes still appraising the fellow.

"Silas D'Aan, performer and adventurer. The girl will be along shortly - is there a particular drink you prefer? Food will be here momentarily, so I hope that you've brought your appetites."

Looking past the man, his face brightened considerably and he knelt to give Zinnia a quick embrace. As he rose, he held out his hand to lead her onto the tall chair he'd had set here for her. Made specifically for halflings, it would be more comfortable and also served to seat her at the same height as the others.

"Zinnia, I'm so glad you could make it! I was afraid one of your talents might have already been otherwise engaged. Do I remember correctly that you prefer the later vintage Corvosan wines?"
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Unread 10th of June, 2016, 04:24
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Name opened his mouth to answer Silas, but before he got the chance the Haelf was instantly distracted, moving on to great a new arrival, a halfing by the apparent name of Ziannia. Shooting Jun a bemused look, the Paladin slid into a chair and turned to examine the two newcomers.

The other Haelf stuck him as a butterfly, fluttering about from place to place, preening and flashing his coloured wings. In another life the man would have instantly been marked by Name as an easy target, but he pushed that instinct down and turned his attention to the halfling.

As small as she was she didn't look soft, he caught sight of the hands calloused hands and a sunkissed face of someone who knew what hard work was, but even so he found it hard to imagine someone so small being much in the way of a warrior. And Sil mentioned something about her particular talents? It was a stereotype, but a thief perhaps? He'd seen enough of Jun to know that the man wasn't a paragon of righteousness, but he couldn't imagine that he'd invite him along to talk about some underhanded job.

Unless ... no, Name turned away from that thought.

"Milady," he said to Zin, touching fingers to temple in an impromptu greeting.
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Unread 10th of June, 2016, 23:22
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Jun nodded at Silas' question and smiled expectantly when he mentioned food to boot. Whatever the talk would bring, at least he'd get some quality food and drink. When Zinnia arrived, Jun eyed her curiously. After she'd greeted Name, he reached over the table to offer her his hand in greeting. "The name's Jun," he offered and sat back down, curious what Silas had in mind for them.

Jun's gaze flickered to the kitchen door repeatedly. He just hoped that they'd be served plenty. More to detract himself from thoughts on food than being in a real hurry he asked "so what's this job about, Silas? Care to tell us a little now before food clogs our mouthes?"
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Unread 11th of June, 2016, 03:06
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Grateful for the tall stool, Zin relaxed. She nodded in approval of Silas' wine choice. She wasn't as picky about what she drank as he seemed to think, but it was ok with her if he thought she had refined tastes.

She was quite floored when Name greeted her as "milady" and even raised her eyebrows a bit in reaction. "Haven't I seen you down at the river, fishing?" It was hard to reconcile her memory of him at the water's edge, fishing pole in hand, with his formal address of her now. "And you also," she said, turning to Jun. "But perhaps you didn't see me." And she smirked mischievously.

When Jun introduced himself, she said in return, "My given name is Zinnia. But please call me Zin." Then she settled down to hear what Silas had to say about the job.
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Unread 11th of June, 2016, 03:13
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"What, and ruin all the surprise?" he answered, gesturing for them all to be seated. He took his own chair rather slowly, drawing out the moment with by making a great show of signaling to the kitchen and straightening his doublet. When he was finally finished, he leaned back in his chair as the serving woman approached and dropped off several small plates of appetizers.

"The main course will be here shortly, but meantime you might blunt your hunger on these."

Seeing Jun's eyes light at the food, he smiled again and then stroked his beard gently, apparently considering his words.

"Let me ask this: who might you say was one of the greatest explorers of our time? Well, not one person, really but rather three people - dwarves, that is, although dwarves are people too. Brothers, actually."

He seems on the verge of stopping there, but before anyone can propose a guess, he continues.

"Why the Rockseeker brothers, of course. Surely you've heard of them - famous for their discoveries out in Lamm, those infamously populated yet fabulously wealthy tombs that were uncovered? Or the archaeological finds at Doermont? In particular the underground shipyard of the ancient Fellovians, if your recall. You've heard of them, yes?"
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Unread 13th of June, 2016, 01:45
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Trust Silas to make a show of it. Jun's smile widened as his gaze locked onto the appetizers. Nope, no fish. Great. Jun quickly shoved a morsel of food into his mouth before turning to Zin first. "Yes, that could've been Name and myself. Easy food and fun at the same time. But I have to admit that..." he gulps down the first bite, "something other than fish is a pleasant change."

Jun continues grabbing morsel after morsel as he replies to Silas. "Yeah, heard something of this and that, but nothing solid, just rumors, stories. Any truth to them?" It seemed that Silas was going to tell them a story before revealing anything about the job. But that wasn't really a surprise.
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Unread 13th of June, 2016, 06:27
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"I may have heard of them before, but I'm not sure..." Zin had heard all kinds of things during her year aboard ship. Outlandish tales, long-winded histories, comic anecdotes. She'd learned to take most with a grain of salt. But she would have listened eagerly to stories of adventure and exploration. She racked her memory for something about dwarven brothers but came up blank.

Shaking her head thoughtfully, she took a few pieces of toasted bread spread with soft cheese and waited for Silas to continue.
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Unread 14th of June, 2016, 07:10
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Name stroked his jaw as he pondered the name.

"Rockseeker? Name rings a bell, grave-robbers. I heard the Tillisth family had put a bounty on them for their digging up old graves, but didn't think it was big enough to get much attention. Learning about the past is important, but at what cost? It's a complicated issue. Is that why we're here?"
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Unread 15th of June, 2016, 00:54
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"Grave robbers? Not that I know of but there's two sides to every story, I suppose. Having worked for Gundren from time to time I know a bit about their successes and failures. I do know that Tillisth are actually the folks that contracted Gundren and his brothers on that job, and it wasn't until after they'd delivered that it turned into the mess it did. Some sort of infighting between different branches in the Tillisth family, I think."

Silas threw his hands up and shook his head, trying to recall anything else he might about the incident. You couldn't be in business for any length of time without having some sort of trouble - at least, trouble had always seemed to find him. He frowned as he pondered for a moment, then shrugged.

"If you doubt their character despite their good name, perhaps you know of Sildar Hallwinter? A righteous warrior with an impeccable service record, well known in certain circles for his honesty and knightly virtue, hired on with Gundren to escort him on the journey."

He paused for a sip of ale, then he set his glass down and looked to both Jun and Zinnia, nodding.

"Truth a plenty, at least as far as their adventuring explorations. They're the real deal when it comes locating ancient ruins and finding clues to mysteries from long ago. Which brings us up to why I've called you all here, actually."

He tilted his head down slightly and fixed them with a roguish look, finger and thumb rapping out a small drumroll on the miniature drum that dangled from his belt. His face broke into a wide grin and he set his hands on the table and leaned forward.

"I'm authorized to offer a sum of eight gold apiece for an easy assignment - a few days work at best, and one that gives us a chance to get out of this village for a space. All we need do is deliver a small wagon load of supplies to a trade post in Phandalin. The weather this time of year is beautiful, and the journey will no doubt be peaceful and pleasant. Plus I hear tell Phandalin is up and coming, so there's like to be opportunity there - especially if locals know the Rockseekers employed us."
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Unread 15th of June, 2016, 06:14
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Jun's face lights up with a smile at the mention of Phandalin. "And plus, there the Alderroot creek that we'll follow for at least a day. One of the best little creeks for trout fishing by my experience." He looks around at the others, gauging their reactions before turning back to Silas.

That offer sounds good, too easy perhaps? "Any chance we might be told what exactly it is that's being transported? Supplies you say? Just tryin' to figure out if anyone might be interested in them. Depends, I'd say. Even though those sorts that might be interested in quick money would probably be more interested in any waggons headed the other way, eh?"

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Unread 15th of June, 2016, 10:11
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"I wouldn't mind taking a look at Rockseeker operation first hand," Name said coming to a decision. "I'd rather decide for myself what's what, so I'm in. But you can split my share of the gold with the others."
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Unread 16th of June, 2016, 02:51
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Grave robbery? Zin wasn’t sure she liked the sound of that… But if Sildar Hallwinter had signed on with the Rockseekers, well, that counted for something, didn’t it? An easy job with an outfit known for their adventurous explorations - it was exactly what she’d been hoping for since coming to the Lusty Vulture. The more the bard talked, the more excited she felt.

“Silas, you had me at “ancient ruins”! I’m in for sure.” She looked around the table feeling quite pleased. She liked these three men already. Silas with his theatrics, Name with his straightforward questions, Jun with his… appetite. A smile quirked the corners of her mouth.

“So when are these supplies supposed to be moving? I trust we'll have enough time to pick up some supplies ourselves
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Unread 18th of June, 2016, 00:01
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Silas was nodding to Jun, seeing in his expression and hearing in his voice that the man was interested - so far so good. As far as he could tell, it was all just normal goods but he paused trying to think of a good way to spin it. He seemed almost on the verge of answering when he heard Name mention gold and he immediately perked up and began speaking, wanting to quell any problems before they arose.

"Gold? Look, I can go as high as ten each, but that's -" he halted abruptly, apparently just realizing that Name wasn't asking for more money but instead offering to do the job for free. The confusion on his face was plain for a moment and he closed his mouth, opened it to speak, then closed it again and frowned.

"I'm here to help out Gundren, not cause him any headaches. So if you sign on, you sign on for the whole job and not just part of it if you decide you aren't happy with our employer. Of course, you can make all the trouble you want afterwards but our coin is for delivering the goods." He slapped the table and grinned. "And as generous a fellow as I am, I want to get paid if I'm going to spend my valuable time on this endeavor."

He smiled at Zinnia, truly glad she was on board so quickly. Her optimism and general good cheer were qualities he valued, and it didn't hurt that she was a magician to boot.

"Excellent question, my dear. We have a few days yet - I didn't want to leave it until the last minute to gather a crew together. That should be ample time for you to make preparations."
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Unread 23rd of June, 2016, 06:32
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With no more questions forthcoming, and the trio apparently in agreement to accept the assignment the bard had proposed, the group devoted their time to running up Silas' already considerable bar tab. It would take him a few performances to make up for the cost, no doubt, but Flynt never seemed to mind when Silas overextended his credit. Oddly enough, and for some reason the bard couldn't quite put his finger on, Silas didn't mind working off his debt when he had the chance. He certainly had no affinity for work (drudgery!) or any sense of responsibility (foolishness!), so it was a question worth pondering - though he never seemed inclined to try and crack that particular nut.

At any rate, whatever his failings, the bard knew how to entertain his guests. None could complain for lack of food or drink, nor indeed the quality for Silas himself was something of a connoisseur - or at least he pretended to be. While they talked he entertained them with stories he'd heard and tales from olden days, and twice even gifted them with a song (one ominous and one bawdy) to illustrate some point or other in his narrative.

Jun, unfortunately, had to depart for a prior engagement after he'd eaten his fill but that did not stop the rest of them from spending more of Silas' money. As evening came on the talk with NÃ me - somewhat inevitably - turned to fishing and by association, fish stories. After a back and forth discussion on the merits of various types of tackle and baits, Silas mentioned a fishing hole conveniently located a short distance behind the Vulture wherein rumor had it there were several large seladon fish that were canny enough to have lived a long while. As they tended to be most active during the evening hours and the moon tonight was of the fuller variety, it was an opportune time to investigate the truth or baseness of such rumors.

Without further ado, the trio found themselves on the path behind the Inn and led off into a lonely looking wooded area. The main path led off to the right where, Silas explained, it wound down to the river which housed a small landing along with a ferry. Angling off the marked main way, he took them on what seemed almost a game trail which was hardly visible unless one knew where to look. They had been following this for quite some time now, and it took them up and down several slopes before descending into a muddy low point. There was no sign of any body of water large enough to house a small fish, let alone anything large enough to make a meal of. Silas halted and looked around a bit before turning and shrugging his shoulders.

"It was here a few weeks back, I'm sure of it."
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Unread 24th of June, 2016, 20:12
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This was the most fun Zinnia had had in a while! It was the most wine Zinnia had drunk in a while too, which was probably why she didn't remember the exact sequence of events that had led to the three of them trundling down this overgrown path through the brush. Who started talking about fish in the first place? Oh, that would have been Name, of course. Stepping over a fallen log across the trail, Zin smiled to herself. The man sure did like to talk about fish. And the rightness or wrongness of things. She'd noticed that about him. He seemed pretty concerned with whether or not something was the right thing to do.

Unlike Silas who seemed pretty concerned with having a good time mostly. And telling stories. His stories were the best! Most of them unlikely to have a grain of truth to them. But you believed every word he was saying while he was telling the story. Like the one about the secret pool with the huge, ancient seladon fish lurking in its depths.

Zin stood with her hands on her hips, looking around at the muddy wastes. "Well Silas, this is just about the most disappointing fish story I've ever heard!" She was smiling as she said it, and didn't really look too disappointed. It was a beautiful moonlit evening after all and the night air was fresh and invigorating. "Are you sure you've brought us to the right place?"
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Unread 27th of June, 2016, 15:35
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Name shook his head as Sil somehow managed to get them lost out in the woods. The Haelf had had a few too many glasses to drink, Name had indulged rather freely as well, but lucikly enough for the others he was a champion of justice and rightoutness and was still perfectly sobre.

"Not to worry!" He yelled. "I have a fish sense for sixes. I always know the way to the closest flishing spot. Watch."


Shutting his eyes, the paladin turned his head first one way, than another as if listening for a faint noise. Back and forth he went until he completed a full circle, coming to a somewhat unsteady stop.

"That way!" He proclaiming, pointing back in the direction that had come from. "Trust me, I'm never wrong."
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Unread 28th of June, 2016, 03:55
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In the interest of making a good impression, Zin had tried, more or less successfully, to maintain a sense of decorum throughout most of the evening. But this was too much.

"A fish sense for sixes?" She broke out in a fit of giggles. "Silas, did you hear that? He has a special fish sense for s-s...." But she couldn't finish her sentence, she was doubled over laughing too hard. She looked around for a place to sit down. She would need to recover before going any further.
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Unread 29th of June, 2016, 00:21
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"It seems our friend here is more used to water than wine," Silas gave a wicked smile of his own at Name's slurred speech and Zin's chuckling. After a moment, though his smile gave way to a short burst of heartfelt laughter, and he turned his face up to the sky and laughed at the moon. How he'd managed to get them lost was quite beyond him, but at least he could see the humor in it. The saying in the business, of course, was to leave on a high note. Perhaps that is what he should have done when it was clear they had all been captivated by the gathering he'd hosted. Ah well, maybe next time.

"Of course, he's not the one that led us on a wild snake hunt. But still, I must have missed the proper track in the dark. The pond can't be far, and I'd bet the trickle that runs through here must drain into it. Shall we go on like men (and women)?"

His voice had gradually changed in pitch and cadence as he spoke - at first quiet and jovial, but slowly turning into something more akin to a march of war.

"Or shall we turn tail and run back to that thrice forsaken inn?"

The words came out as a challenge, ringing against the rising slopes around them.

"Onward I say! Fish beware, for the fishers do dare!"

At this last cry Silas raised his, index finger extended, and then lowered it until it was pointing down the muddy track which wasn't quite a path but that nevertheless led off at an angle to their previous course. Coming suddenly to himself, he looked back at his companions almost sheepishly, his voice returning to a much more normal volume.

"Well, that is, if you both agree."
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Unread 6th of July, 2016, 12:03
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"I agree, I agree!" Zin cried out enthusiastically. She stood up from the old stump she'd been resting on, eager to get back on the trail. Funny thing, the way Silas' words seemed to clear her head and get her blood pumping again.

"No, Name, not that way... Over here! I'm afraid your fish sense has got it all wrong. Let's follow our good friend, Silas." She started toward the muddy track pointed out by the bard, but then halted.

"Er... Maybe one of you should go first."
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Unread 22nd of July, 2016, 03:45
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Leading them on into the night, Silas eventually found a fishing hole though it was not nearly where he'd said it was. He did, however, proclaim quite loudly that this was indeed the place. A long while it seemed while he and Name splashed about in the dark, making enough racket to scare away a bull elephant let alone a canny, wary fish such as the Seladon. Eventually, this muddy romp turned into an argument between Silas and Name over whether they had proven the rumor false or merely unknowable at this point. Having been out for hours at this point, the only decision that could be reached was to return to the inn and remedy their various conditions - those being wet, muddy, cold, and sober. Silas retired shortly thereafter to his room at the inn, with some friction still present between himself and Name, though Zinnia seemed genuinely unperturbed by the episode. As he hummed himself to sleep, the bard contented himself with the fact that at least the halfling seemed to share his carefree views.

* * *

After several days had passed, the group met once more but this time near the South Gate of town. Silas was there, grinning and in a jovial good mood, looking genuinely as if he hadn't a care in the world. On his back he wore a case with (presumably) his lute while at his belt he wore a rapier on one side and a hand crossbow on the other. Also depending from his belt, slightly in front of the crossbow, he wore a small drum whose stretched hide was polished to a warm glow. Behind him stood a wagon loaded with supplies, two bored looking oxen hitched to the traces. The larger of the pair held his head low, looking straight ahead, and ignored everything around him while the smaller stamped his feet irritably.

"Ah, excellent excellent! We are all gathered I see, and in plenty of time for an early start. Have you eaten already? I've taken the liberty of snatching some biscuits and bacon from the kitchen on my way out. And I trust you've gotten any supplies you want as well - if not, it will have to wait until we reach Phandalin. Perhaps we can get a discount when we deliver!"
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Unread 25th of July, 2016, 15:18
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Jun went about his business these days, but he looked forward to getting started. With his lack of funds, he couldn't afford the food and drink they'd had. With the pay they'd get, he could afford whatever he wanted - more or less.

So when the four of them met up at the South Gate, Jun mirrored Silas' mood. With a wide grin of his own he first shook hands with the others and then eyed the waggon and the oxen speculatively. Shrugging, he turned about. With any luck, they were looking forward to a safe trip and easy money. "Ready to move out," Jun replied. "As is Charles, here," he added, patting the irritable oxen on the side. He'd always liked to give animals silly names. And these beasts of burden rarely had any to start with, so probably nobody would care.
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