“Ahh, the ancient Iron Crown of Oaths. My master will be pleased.”
Selvin Silvertongue pours some sweet honeyed wine into his flagon and sits back to study the Crown, smiling that annoying smile of his. It is late in the evening in the Hercking Carver, the best tavern in Greywater Edge.
Recently returned from the depths of the Halls of the Ancient Dead, you speculate that the sweet taste of honeyed wine could banish the memory of the hideously disgusting and foul smelling carrion crawler, the ugly one that bit you in that special place you don’t talk of in public. But Selvin doesn’t seem to be offering any.
“Yes, he will be most pleased.” Selvin continues. “Wouldn’t you say, Gelimir?”
Gelimir the Black, standing in the dark behind Selvin, with his hands resting on his sword-hilt, merely grunts his approval.
You can feel him eying you suspiciously as you stand there, in your torn stinky clothes, cradling your dinged up helmet, feeling pain in your groin.
“And of course, I am also pleased that my fine friends have survived their foray into the Haunted Hills. Yes, very pleased.” Selvin says, in a way that leaves you without a doubt that he is not pleased at all. Gelimir grunts another approval in much the same way.
“So now I will honor my end of the bargain.” Selvin continues, as he hands the Iron Crown back to Gelimir, and produces a piece of paper. Gelimir quickly hides the Crown under his vest.
“This one is called Tilda the Fairhaired.” Selvin proclaims, showing you the paper. “ She is currently wanted by agents of the cursed Black Alliance.”
Upon the mentioning of the Black Alliance, everyone in the inn within earshot spits on the floor. Gelimir’s spit lands perilously close to your left boot. You discretely shift your foot and look closer at the sketch of the woman on the paper. She is young and innocent looking. Underneath her picture, bold writing proclaims her WANTED by the Black Alliance, and mentions something about her being a runaway slave, and a reward for bringing her in.
“As you can see, it is a fairly substantial reward” Selvin says, as he absentmindedly fingers the iron piece fastened on his broken nose. “I have her tracked down to a stinky little settlement called Marshtown, a few days upriver from here. She is hiding there in the inn”
You notice that he occasionally grimaces in pain from his broken nose. The thought makes you smile.
“Actually, I was very tempted to claim the reward for myself.” he says. “But I digress. I know I owe you a way to Black Harbor, and I am a man of my word. She is it.”
“Okay…” you say, doubtfully, as the others in your group look to you. “But how exactly are we going to be able to use her to get us to Black Harbor? If she is on the run, I very much doubt that she’ll want to go ba…”
“Use your brain, hero.” Selvin says with his annoying smile. “She got out. She’ll know the way in. All you need to do is persuade her to tell you how.”
“Use your imagination.” Gelimir says. “But don’t do anything foolish.”
Images of the bar fight in Felldragon Inn flashes through your mind. As do the fight with the city guard, the escape over the rooftops, the dead guards, the prison stay, the life-long ban on ever visiting Boatman’s Ferry again, upon pain of death.
“Of course.” You say. “We won’t do anything foolish at all.”
“Right.” Selvin says, clearly not convinced. “A word of warning, fine friends. The people of Marshtown take their faith very seriously. They have been known to burn visitors who disagrees on their interpretation on religious doctrine, so I’d try not to offend their sensibilities, if I were you.
“I am sure nothing of the sort will happen” you say, nervously eying the rest of your group.
“Anyway.” Says Selvin. “My good friend Gelimir here, have arranged for a discrete river barge that’ll take you lot towards Marshtown. Expect the journey to take a week or so. Now, if you have no other matters to discuss, I think it would be best for all of us if you went on your way.”
As you are led out of the tavern, you pass by the noble Sir Sigurd Ironhammer, Thane to the Earl of Blackreach, and the one who talked you into this Quest™. He enthusiastically gives you a thumbs up as you pass.
“Good luck, noble adventurers.” He says in a booming voice. “The safety of the Empire rests on your heroic shoulders.”
Gelimir unsuccessfully attempts to stifle a laugh, much to your chagrin. But Sigurd seems unfazed.
“We shall await your return with great anticipation!”
Gelimir is still laughing to himself as you are led down the backstreets and alleyways, down to the small harbor of Greywater Edge. Across the river, you can see the lights from Boatmans Ferry. The harbor is almost deserted, except for…
“No way!” Suddenly you stop in your tracks. The only sizeable ship is an ugly looking river barge, and it doesn’t look very seaworthy. You find yourself really hoping it isn’t that one. But it is. The boat captain waves to Gelimir, who in turn waves you toward to boat with an unkind gesture.
“What a piece of junk!” You exclaim.
“She’ll make it to Marshtown in five days.” Says the boat’s captain, busily herding pigs onboard. “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts. I’ve made a lot of special modifications myself.”
“Oink” says one of the pigs.
As you climb onboard, and stuff your gear in among the smelly pigs, you briefly wonder what Gelimir the Black intends to do with the Iron Crown you found. But whatever it is, you’re sure it will never come back to haunt you.
Anyway, the journey awaits. That damsel in Marshtown knows the way to Black Harbor, and to the best of your knowledge, you owe a few of those Black Alliance crooks a good beating. For justice.
You look around you, seeing your friends, the pigs, and all your gear. “Onwards to adventure!” you cry. “ Onwards to glory!”. “For the noble dead of Fair Oaks!” your friends cry.
“Oink!” says the pig.
The smelly river boat begins to tug mindboggling slowly up the river.