As I imagine a lot of you have, I got a bit over-distracted by Crystal Cove. Especially since it is the first time I've been in such a special event on DDO and Hazelnut just absolutely had to have the Captain's Chapeau. It has, however, inspired a somewhat lengthy and very much made-up story line.
... and ... here comes a small taste until I get the rest more readable...
The title means “pretty and stop”, for those who don’t speak sailor.
A more wretched hive of scum and villainy I have not seen than the town of Smuggler’s Rest. This was once a lively sea port where trading ships would stop to resupply and exchange good. That was until Korthos, with its much bigger bay, became the favored stop for trading ships. Now Smuggler’s Rest is little more than a way-station for rogues and brigands looking to fence their goods or find their next mark.
The town itself was dominated by an old crumbling fort that has long since been abandoned. The only part of the fort that was still in use was the old guard house, which had been turned into a pub. The entire island appeared to be a sand dune covered in scrub and whatever trees could survive there. The place was infested with every sort of fortune seeker and scoundrel you could imagine. On the day we arrived, that included Valorie and me.
What I didn’t know when Valorie rushed me out of the Leaky Dingy that morning was that the treasure hunt was entirely her idea. I had expected to get on the Sojourner, the ship she was first mate on, but instead we boarded this leaky little boat with a questionable looking crew and a collection of ruffians that I would normally have been chasing out of the sewers.
Valorie had overheard some passengers discussing the treasure of Crystal Cove and decided to go after it herself. She arranged to take some time off and rushed right over to grab me to help. So it was that the two of us ended up on the docks of this seedy town with no clear plan, no supplies, and no real clue how to proceed.
For any who might be interested, Hazelnut on Wayfinder got:
- Ring of the Buccaneer (tier 2)
- Captain's Chapeau with Charisma +1 (brings it up to 10) and Haggle +7
- Brawling Gloves (tier 2)
- Bottomless flask of Rum
- Treasure Hunter's Spyglass (tier 2)
Zyinniah got all of the above (with Charisma +2 on the hat) as well as
- Cutthroat's Smallblade
- Duelist's Leathers
- Stalwart Trinket
And both toons got stacks of unusable (by them) Grenades.
I stood on the decrepit dock and turned to Valorie, “So, now what?”
Valorie turned back with this big grin on her face, “When in doubt, go to the local tavern.” We wandered through the maze of crates and barrels more or less following the crowd.
We entered the Rook’s Gambit. The crowded and smelly common room had a perpetual haze of stale smoke obscuring everything. Off in the corner a cheesy band played music that could barely be heard over the chatter of the patrons. Clusters of hopeful treasure hunters were busy strategizing, organizing, and arguing in a perpetual dance of greedy anticipation.
Sitting at a table against the wall as far from the band as he could get was an old man telling stories to anyone who would listen. The old man was referred to by some as Grandfather Teles. His tale twisted through reminiscing about his days as a sailor, talking about his granddaughter, and complaining about pirates and adventurers.
I took a seat at the back of the crowd around old man Teles; half listening to his stories and half listening to the groups of adventurers while Valorie pushed up to the bar and started chatting with some of the patrons seeing what she could learn.
After a few hours, and several glasses of the watered down local rot-gut , we hooked up with a crew that claimed to have a map to some buried pirate treasure on the island. They were having problems getting to it and digging it up because every time they get started, a group of pirates, or other adventurers moved in and tried to take it from them. The constant fighting with invaders blocked all their efforts. So, we came up with a simple plan: Valorie and I act as guards while they work out exactly where to dig. Val and I get 10% of whatever they find.
Two hours of hiking through the scrub and sand dunes and we arrived at the top of a rise. On the way we passed at least 3 camp sites and a half dozen holes being dug in the sand. The second camp was being attacked by a band of particularly rough looking pirates and not doing at all well against them. Valorie and I took out our bows and encouraged the band of pirates to re-think their strategy. The group we saved were hesitant but after we assured them we were passing through, they invited us to share some lunch.
We sat and chatted about anything and everything, except what our two groups were actually doing on this pile of sand. The food was plain but more filling than and less questionable than what was offered in the tavern back by the docks.
After lunch we continued on our way. Just before leaving, a rather flamboyant member of the party tossed me the feathered hat that I admired over lunch. “A small thank you for helping us defend our claim”, said the rogue.
By dusk we were at the spot where Valorie’s friends thought the treasure map pointed. They had a tent set-up and they started putting steaks in the ground with string tied between them to measure distances and angles. Valorie and I had found some good vantage points to watch the camp and the approaches for invaders, pirates, and thieves. With watches organized for the night, we waited until dawn to start digging.
I created a lvl 4 halfling rogue on Wayfinder. Hopefully we can wreak some havoc soon.
Thanks to Cordovan for all his/her assistance I can continue the saga. Awesome patience and help. I appreciate it. :)
The night passed remarkably peacefully. I was fully expecting at least one attack before dawn but none came. It was a peaceful and bright morning as I took my position overlooking our camp and two approaches. The men who had hired us started moving sand, measuring, and generally arguing among themselves over the best place to dig.
By noon I was starting to doze off in the heat and there had still not been an attack. The closest thing to excitement happened about an hour earlier when Valorie spotted a band of fortune seekers cross one of the approaches she was guarding. But, either they didn’t see our camp or didn’t care because they had continued on their way without even a glance in our direction.
In oppressive heat of the mid-afternoon there was a “woop!” from our camp. It woke me from my half-dozing state and I turned to see. The diggers had found a chest and were dragging it out of the hole they had dug in the sand.
I stood up to rush down and see for myself when Valorie wave at me and pointed behind me. I turned just in time to see an arrow go whizzing by. Then Valorie let loose an arrow along one of the paths she was guarding. I looked down as the archer that had shot at me just as he released a second arrow. Three sailors were rushing along the path as I ducked and the arrow went over my head.
I shifted position behind the tree that was shading me so the archer couldn’t get a clear shot and took aim at the advancing brigands. With careful aim I shot the leader in the leg. He gave out a howl and stopped running. The others continued past him. A second shot and the others had turned around heading back for cover. The fight was on.
Shifting position again, I took aim at their archer who evidently still thought I was behind the tree as he kept shooting blindly at it. Two quick arrows and he was down. I hoped Valorie was doing as well.
I heard footsteps coming up the path from our camp and I feared the worst. Dropping my bow and pulling my swords, I spun around preparing for an attack. Around the corner two of the diggers were advancing with weapons in-hand. They had heard our skirmish and were coming to help. I signaled there were 3 ruffians up ahead and waved them on. Then I moved around to flank our attackers. The three of us got to the attackers at the same time but didn’t have to fight. The pirates ran off leaving their dead archer behind.
“We found the chest. They were just opening it when we came to help,” said one of the two men.
I responded, “I think there is another group attacking Valorie’s position.”
“We heard that. Hymie went to help her with that big crossbow of his.”
“If you two can stay here a bit, I’ll scout ahead and make sure those pirates aren’t just re-grouping. I’ll be back in a couple of minutes,” I suggested. With that I sneaked off down the path trusting they would hold the position.
We sat down to a meal about an hour before sunset, after moving our camp in an effort to hide from the attackers earlier that day. The chest had been opened before we moved and treasure was to be divided up in the morning.
You know that feeling you get after spending too much time at the beach? That rough scratchy rash like tenderness from the sand that sneaks into your bathing suit by the end of the day? Well picture that only on the inside of the quilted padding used for chainmail. Starting to get the picture? It’s not pretty and it doesn’t feel all that good.
It took another trip to that expensive cleaner in the Marketplace to get all the sand out. And it cost even more because I had to include my boots and gloves. Speaking of which, that little adventure Valorie dragged me on didn’t turn out so bad.
I was given a really nice feather hat as a thank you for rescuing some people. I got a cute gold ring with a skull carved into it because I was the only member of our party with fingers small enough for it to fit. That treasure chest they dug up didn’t turn out so hot. It was full of gold and silver all right but the coins were all some sort of foreign currency called “doubloons”. I was able to trade my share for a nice spyglass and some good studded gloves, so it worked out pretty good for me.
The only trouble is, I returned to the Leaky Dingy just as broke as when I left and I owed Hammond two days back rent. He threw on a storage fee for the things I left in my room and reminded me of a small tab I still owed. He did say I had until the end of the week and I could stay in my room a few more days if things don’t get busy at the Inn. He’s such a sweetie.
One other good thing came out of that little diversion of Valorie’s. There was another halfling on the boat trip back besides me. This roguish Halfling named Orren with long auburn hair he likes to keep in a pony-tail.
Orren is new to Stormreach. He’s been traveling but spent most of his money on the road and was looking for work. I tried explaining that I hadn’t been in Stormreach long, but he insisted on buying me dinner if I could introduce him to a few people that might offer him work. I dutifully introduced him to a couple of the warehouse owners I’ve done freelance work for and we got a couple of jobs together that should be enough to settle my debts with Hammond along with filling his purse.
The jobs weren’t anything exciting. Well, the first one wasn’t. A scorpion infestation shut down one warehouse. That was easily taken care of. The second was much more exciting. A couple of the kobold gangs that live in the sewers had gotten braver and were raiding warehouses. We had to go down below and find them.
The kobolds themselves aren’t usually that tough but at this time of year, the sewers are full of acidic slimes that eat through anything and especially love metal weapons. A trip to the local discount sporting goods store was in order for a pair of cheap wooden bats before delving into the stink again.
Choosing a likely access just outside one of the warehouses, we dove in; much to the amusement of a drunkard and the unfortunate soul who tried before us. His armor and weapons were completely ruined by the slimes. Down we went into the putrid stench of modern sanitation.
The two of us were sneaking down the sewer tunnel keeping our eyes out for signs of kobold gang marks and the less obvious semi-transparent giant slimes when two of them dropped out of an overhead grate right on top of him. I rushed over swinging with both clubs.
That was not a good idea. There were two slimes piled on top of my friend and he was laying under them not moving.
Using the two clubs, more carefully the second time, I pushed, prodded, poked, and lifted (sorry ran out alliteration) the slimes off him. Then I bashed the living daylights out of them. Fortunately, Orren was only dazed and he forgave me quickly enough.
We decided that perhaps I should go first for a while. More creeping, a couple of twists and a pool of fetid water that made me wish I was back on the beach and another slime attacked. Only it came up behind us. Orren managed to bash the heck out it but somehow it managed to eat one of his clubs. Those things were determined. It makes me wonder if anyone has invented a quiver for clubs yet. We could have used a few spares down there.
Once we figured out the routine whereby one of us distracted the slime while the other chased after it and bashed it from behind or the side, things got a lot easier.
pulled, peeled, pried, ... ;)
As the early dawn light broke over Stormreach, a lone figure limped out of a dark alley in a back corner of the Marketplace. Anyone foolish enough to be awake that early in the morning would have assumed she was one of the unfortunate street urchins who plagued the city with the recent influx of refugees but the very tired man who stood alone across the street knew better. He waited patiently in the shadow of a shop entrance.
A casual observer would easily have mistaken her for a street-girl of 12 or 13 years. The mud and grime all over her reinforcing the look of a poor urchin but a closer look revealed the telltale signs of someone more mature; with the curve of hip and the full breasts of an adult. The tips of her pointed ears barely visible through her blond hair marked her as a Halfling.
A closer look at the dirt and mud would reveal that it was too dark, unmistakably mixed with blood. The beginning of a bruise showed on her cheek and would turn into an ugly purple mark covering half her face by the next day. A tear in her leather pants with blood caked around it explained the limp. Acid burns were hidden under the fresh grime on the tattered chain shirt that hung over her torso indicated that wherever she had been the night before it had been a narrow escape for her.
When she paused in the middle of the narrow street, the man step out from where he had been standing all night. Before he could motion to her she began limping towards him.
When she was close enough to whisper, she quietly said, “It is done. The city is safe.”
“Where are the others? Four of you went in.”
The look of sadness and despair on her face was almost unbearable as she said, “Dead, all dead.”
The expression on the man’s face remained cold and tired as he responded, “I need a full debrief. Come with me to the station…” but she had already turned and was walking away, ignoring his last statement as she limped toward the Halfling enclave in House Jorasco. If the mission had succeeded, the debrief could wait.
Hazelnut stepped into the Rusty Nail in the early evening. The mud and grime washed away. Makeup on her face hid most of the purple mark of the bruise developing on her cheek. The damaged chain shirt had been replaced with a clean fresh dress of violet cloth and brown leather. The long-sword slung across her back and collection of throwing daggers at her hip would make anyone who thought she might be an easy mark to think twice.
The Rusty Nail was a small tavern in the corner of the Marketplace in Stormreach. There was little of note about The Rusty Nail. It served food and drinks for busy shoppers and merchants taking breaks during the busy afternoons but was quiet in the evening after the shops had closed and their owners and staff had gone home. What made this quite tavern special was not well known but it was the reason Hazelnut had entered.
The Rusty Nail was the headquarters of the Vigiles, a recently formed special group of the Marketplace precinct Night Watch. The influx of refugees had forced many changes to the organization of the city guard: first the establishment of precincts, then the establishment of a Day Watch and Night Watch. Most recently the Vigiles, a special unit formed in secret to track and disrupt the better organized criminal element growing in Stormreach.
Hazelnut was new to Stormreach, actually had been one of the refugees a few short months ago. She proved herself to the City Guard as a mercenary by helping with several kobold infestations that were blocking up the sewers of Stormreach and causing numerous problems for the city. She was a bit surprised when she was asked to join the Vigiles but her proven reliability and relative anonymity in the city were assets they valued in a predominately covert branch of the City Guard.
It was this new job that had her walking into a nearly empty tavern in the early evening. She stepped up to the bar and climbed onto a bar stool beside a smelly disheveled human. Without looking at the man, she whispered, “your intelligence was wrong.”
Then, louder to the bartender who was keeping a discrete distance, “Pinapple Juice, coconut milk, and rum in a tall glass, please.”
The smelly man dropped a few gold coins on the counter, turned away from Hazelnut, and walked to a door at the back of the tavern. A few minutes later when she was sure the few other patrons in the tavern were busy in their own conversations, Hazelnut left her half-finished drink at the bar and followed the smelly man through the back door.
Beyond the door was a landing with stairs heading up to a shop on the floor above with an entrance on a higher street, stairs down to a basement store room for the tavern, and a second door that lead to a small courtyard with outhouses used by the tavern patrons. Hazelnut walked down the stairs and stepped into an alcove and through a hidden door that the smelly man would have had to crouch to get through but was still large for someone with a Halfling stature.
The room she entered had a low ceiling and strange angles to the walls but was much larger than one would expect of a secret room between floors in an older part of Stormreach. The grubby coat that the smelly man had been wearing was hung on a hook. Still looking somewhat scruffy, the man had combed his hair and was now wearing the blue hauberk of the City Guard. “Hi Crichton”, Hazelnut said cheerily as she closed the door.
“So, what happened down there?”
. . .