The Company of the Darkened Shield

On the Road Again...

Tarsakh 16 - 21

Tarsakh 16

Our traveling companion, Thom, thrust this journal at me in his rush off to run an errand in the city—an errand which he did not bother to share with the rest of us. He is particularly odd, even for a human. But I am glad of the opportunity to document our adventures for a few days. It is so important to keep good records so that our company’s successes can be put to song, should they ultimately merit such honor.

After Tom and we parted ways earlier today, Rinn, Baern and I set off to meet up with Captain Antieran. The hum and bustle of the city is quite refreshing after the days spent traveling through remote terrain in constant high alert after our encounters with the orcs. As we neared the west gate, it was apparent a caravan was preparing to set out, as the gate was crowded with wagons and people. We were directed to the Captain’s quarters at the top level of the Master’s Shop.

We were relieved to find the Captain looking much more recovered and healthy after the mistreatment she had received at the hands of the orcs prior to our rescue just days earlier. She was pleased to see us and thanked us profusely and repeatedly for having saved her life. Her gratitude was exceeded only by the material reward she provided, surprising all of us with numerous items of compensation: a belt pouch with 125 gold pieces, which Baern agreed to carry until the next opportunity to divide it among us; a pouch containing three potions and a small pearl, which the Captain confirmed is an old and valuable Pearl of Power; and an additional pouch containing a 3-inch diameter glass jar. In addition to this already generous bounty, she gifted us with a small hand crossbow, which I took; a dwarven warhammer, which Baern was astonished to see bore a mark from a Citadel Feldbar smith; and a silver scimitar, which Baern also agreed to carry for the time being. Rinn remarked that the scimitar appeared to be of Elvish origin.

We were all humbled by these generous gifts, but the Captain repeatedly insisted it was the least she could do to compensate us for having saved her life. We did make two additional minor requests: two horses fit to carry Rinn and Tom to Silverymoon, which the Captain agreed to have ready at first light tomorrow, loaded with a ten-day supply of feed; and Baern asked that the Captain send a message to his commanding officer at Citadel Felbar warning them of the orc hoarde massing at Rainbow Gorge.

With these two requests confirmed, we took our leave of the Captain. Rinn was eager to return to Malsheim’s House to consult her book to divine the nature of the potions the Captain had gifted to us, so she set off immediately for her room. Baern and I decided to use the balance of the afternoon to seek out our family friend Cadmus for information about my flute. Baern had visited Cadmus’ house before, and he remembered it is located on Bruenor Street, near an imposing statue of a cat. After some searching, we located the statue, looking simultaneously both superior and disdainful, as cats are wont to do. Once we found the statue, Baern was able to recall Cadmus’ house. We immediately knocked at the door and waited. After some time, the door opened in answer, but much to our surprise, it was not Cadmus who greeted us but his longtime personal companion, a most delightful cat-like creature named Zuma. I immediately recalled Zuma from our prior meeting, many years earlier, as a mischievous but good-hearted Tressem.

Zuma explained that Cadmus was away from home, having departed suddenly on what sounded like serious business which had Zuma quite worried. But Zuma quickly diverted our conversation to the purpose of our visit, after so many years. He was extremely lonely and bored without Cadmus, having been left in charge of Cadmus’ rather large brood of cats, which he found quite dull company. No sooner had we explained that our purpose was to seek Cadmus’ expertise on a special musical instrument than Zuma eagerly volunteered to provide the consultation himself, promising to meet us shortly back at our inn to examine the instrument in question. At this, we parted ways.

By this time the light was quickly fading, so we headed back to the inn, where we stopped briefly to order supper plates for four be brought to Rinn’s room. As soon as we entered we could tell Rinn had been with her nose stuck in her books for the hours we were apart; she looked quite enthralled in the material and a bit annoyed at our interruption. She certainly has a taste for study, though I suppose there are worse character flaws. I made a point to quickly bring her up to speed regarding our visitor, and in no time, Zuma burst in in a flurry of greetings. He seemed quite energized at the prospect of non-feline company. After digging in to our supper plates, I brought out the flute and passed it to Zuma. His eyes immediately lit up with eager scrutiny and within minutes, he confirmed what Rinn had initially thought; the flute is definitely of Elvish make, most likely from Evaresca or Mithdranor. Its magic is not limited to the smoke I have been able to summon—indeed, it is also capable of casting the spell of animal friendship—but its more advanced magical capabilities will require further work to reveal themselves. My own fascination and wonder at these revelations was outmatched only by Rinn, who hung on every word Zuma had to say. When his examination of the flute was complete, I retired my room to contemplate this new information and the untapped potential of my treasured instrument, while Baern headed down to the common room to contemplate the variety of local ale. Rinn and Zuma, meanwhile appeared to have hit it off, falling instantly into deep discussion about various and sundry magical arcana.

Tarsakh 17

After a good night’s sleep, I was energized and eager to get moving on our trip. Unfortunately, waking Rinn can sometimes be like raising the dead. For such an alert fighter as she is, it is remarkable how difficult it can be to prod her into full consciousness from the comfort of a warm bed short of aiming a crossbow squarely at her forehead. In between tries of rousting her awake, Baern and I took breakfast in the common room with Zuma, who delicately lapped at a saucer of milk while chattering on with us about the trip. When Rinn had blurted out the night before that he should accompany us on our trip and he immediately agreed, I had assumed he was just being polite, but this morning he confirmed he was entirely serious. He really does seem put out at Cadmus’ absence, and I believe the prospect of accompanying us at least part of the way has given him the courage to strike out in search of Cadmus, for good or ill.

Soon after sitting down to eat, our erstwhile companion Tom skulked in. He of course keeps his own counsel but he looked quite roughed up, despite appearing decently rested. We may never know what adventures befell him in his time away from us, but at least he has returned safely. Shortly after Tom arrived, Rinn finally also appeared. After each of them had a quick bite to eat, we collected Tirith and Partorn and set off for the Firestar Chariot for a final word with Rothan.

Rothan had been hard at work devising a covert means for us to enter into the restricted section of the library at the Ladies’ College seeking some important information. He gave Rinn an octagonal, felt-backed token with a 3-star inscription which will gain her entry to the library’s residents entrance. He instructed that she should present herself as Lady Elween Erwald, a scroll-maker who will be out of town. Inside the library, Rinn is to seek a book entitled “Houses of the Forrest Kingdom,” and in that book, information on the Maerdrym family and the crypt of the Bardnorn, a dead Elven high mage. All of this meant very little to me but Rinn seemed to be following it all with rapt attention, as did Zuma. Baern, meanwhile, contemplated yet another mug of ale.

With this new information in hand, we thanked Rothan for his wishes for good luck and safe travel and quickly make for the West gate, where we found the horses the captain had promised us ready and loaded with the promised rations of food. Baern was delighted to find the Captain also left a special ration for him of apple dragon cakes, cheese and sausage and 2 wine skins containing a rare Sembian wine. As we were all loading up to depart, Tom noticed Baern’s new weaponry, at which point Baern offered Tom the scimitar gifted by the captain. Tom took it in hand and whipped it around with a flourish before muttering a grudging “it’ll do” and carefully sheathing it. With a last look around at the mid-morning bustle of Sundabar, we headed out the gates in pursuit of the morning’s caravan, which we quickly caught up to and passed. We had an easy ride the rest of the day and made good time, stopping for the night in a ravine where we enjoyed the unusually sweet and high quality of the wine flasks the Captain sent off with us.

Tarsakh 18

An uneventful day. We begin to think our adventures may be behind us. Just in case, however, Zuma has taken to scouting from the air to ensure we are not unpleasantly surprised. He seems to have taken to his new adventuring role with relish and we are glad for his company.

Tarsakh 19
So much for our adventures being over! This morning, Zuma zoomed back to alert us of bugbears spotted off to the north, at least 20 of them. No sooner had we decided to try to outrun them than Baern and I spotted two of them bearing down on us from the south. We quickly scrambled to react but in the battle, Rinn, Tom and I were all seriously injured. Fortunately, between my healing spell and Tom’s healing potion, we are all beginning to recover now. With much effort, we were able to kill both bugbears, and Baern obtained a twisted metal wand with a rune at the top from one of them. After making camp, with no fire out of precaution, Rinn and Zuma assessed that it is a Wand of Secrets, which can detect secret doors or traps if they are nearby. After the day’s events, we are all exhausted and hope for fewer adventures on our remaining days to Silverymoon.

Tarsakh 20 and 21
Finally, as I write this, we have camped within sight of Silverymoon! Tomorrow will be another big day, so it is good the last few days have been relatively relaxed, after our encounter with the bugbears. We were all on edge through the night after the battle, but Zuma and Tom both scouted extensively the next day, with no sign of the bugbear party. Due to the excellent weather and relatively sheltered terrain, we were gradually able to relax and even enjoy the trip. Zuma in particular is proving a charming traveling companion. He has even managed to strike up a grudging friendship with both Tom and Partorn, having bonded with the former over forest herbs and their numerous uses, and the latter by regularly alighting to where the pony is grazing to chatter on to him in pony-speak about all manner of things. Poor Baern seemed to be the only member of our party still immune to Zumas charms, at least until last night, when he was finally won over after surprising us all by proving to have an uncanny natural talent for squib, a Tressem travel game of strategy and dexterity involving a particular type of oversized seed pod. Zuma took it upon himself to instruct us all on the proper size and weight of pod to look out for along the road, and by the end of the day we had amassed a sufficient supply for several rounds of play, during which Baern outscored us all, including Zuma, by leaps and bounds. He was quite pleased with himself, and Zuma good-naturedly has dubbed him the Squib King.

We also passed much of the day in light conversation, as is typical on such journeys. At one point, out of curiosity, I pressed Zuma for the story of how he and Cadmus first crossed paths, but after gazing wistfully into the distance, he only vaguely responded, “Ah Elly, as with the most significant events in life, it is a complex tale of equal parts comedy and tragedy. Some day I will tell you but not this fine afternoon, I think.”

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