There we were, on our final day of travel heading into Etonia. We caught up to Eowyn and exchanged tales. We learned that Eowyn, at the same time that Will and I and the Drumbeat Initiative were stopping Bartholomew alongside Vlad, had discovered that Bartholomew was working on a spell to summon a giant undead monstrosity. Uck! That’s all we need is more undead!
Anyway, it’s been well over a week since my hair has seen a brushing. I feel very improper; and, being within a day of Etonia, I am starting to get anxious. After all, I have to deliver that letter on my father’s behalf. Eowyn even commented that I needed a delousing! Not cool.
We depart the forest and enter into a large clearing with Etonia on the horizon. We come across a wagon with a broken axle, and the caravan stops here to take a short rest break to see if we can help. Eowyn starts making conversation with the wagon owner while I check out the axle. It turns out that I am able to use the mending spell to fix the axle. Luckily, the axle wasn’t completely severed; if it was, I don’t think the spell would have work. The axle was only splintered. Will and Eowyn and a few others hold the weight of the wagon off the axle and I mended the damage. Yet more validation the Mending was a good cantrip for me to focus on mastering.
During this rest stop, Eowyn learned of some goings on in the town of Mirasoon. The town leadership recruited 40 people from Etonia to go deal with a “goblin problem”. Apparently, goblins have been more frequently sighted this far west, and people are worried. In fact, goblins are probably being killed on sight. Just as we finished up repairing the axle, Will sees a fox and chases it. Not exactly sure why Will decided to chase a fox, but we go with it and follow Will.
So, the fox enters a barn a few hundred yards away. We go into the barn and investigate. Eowyn figures out that someone had been hiding in the barn. She surmises that whoever was hiding has been jumping from barn to barn in a series of hideouts. A mystery! Who has been hiding in the barns? And why? And what does that have to do with a fox? And does it have anything to do with the goblin rumors? After a quick discussion, Vardai, Will, Eowyn, and I decide to delay our entry into Etonia to investigate. Well, more so Will, Vardai, and me… as Eowyn argued that she needed to get to the library in Etonia without delay. But she quickly changed her mind and agreed to investigate the mystery.
We walk back to the caravan and ask Vlad to watch over, and arrange for the sale of, our Thorngage Ale and moonshine. Vlad agrees. I remind him that the moonshine is not for sale. For some reason, Vlad (and Will and Eowyn) don’t seem to think that even if the moonshine were for sale, we would get a good price. Huh!
We return to the chase. We pass the first barn and proceed to another farther North. Since the farmer who owns this barn was around, we ask permission to enter. He agrees, as long as he can come with us. Inside, this barn definitely shows signs of intrusion. The farmer opens up a trunk and informs us that his prized sailor’s cap is missing. He is distraught (not horribly distraught, but not happy) over his missing cap. Eowyn, Will, and Vardai conclude it must be small sized creatures who were in the barn, with goblins fitting the description. I’m not sure how they were able to figure that out… I just wasn’t seeing what they were seeing.
After a few minutes, we exit the barn. Will takes off again, chasing something very small and very fast. We run after it, but can’t keep up with this “quick” thing. We get to where it was and cannot find any tracks. Hmmm. I point out that some druids are able to walk without leaving any tracks. Almost as if by magic, the plants move around the druid as the druid takes each step. It also allows the druid to move much faster through thick bushes and foliage. I am sure I am a long ways away from mastering anything like that.
As we continued North, we could see the entire town of Etonia with its outskirts. To the South of the town, refugees were sent up in tents and makeshift shacks. Charlie had told us these were temporary homes for refugees, mostly Half-orc refugees. To the North of the town, the direction we were approaching, we could see the festival setup… the temporary structures and all of the boats in place for the Fish & Biscuit Festival. I was definitely looking forward to the festival. I hadn’t been to a festival where I could enjoy it since I was a child. Once of the early memories I have of my mother was going to the festival with her and riding goats. She said I wanted to ride the goats over and over again. Maybe I need to get a large goat like Peggy (of the Drumbeat initiative) had summoned. Yeah, that would be really cool.
For some reason, the topic of Goodberries came up. Will had cast some Goodberries and I noticed his were more like cherries, only without pits. I know, I bored you last time with a comparative analysis of Goodberries. I promise I won’t continue talking about them. It is just that… well… Goodberries are really good. They just are. I can’t help that. Particularly when you have the time to savor each individual bite... and they provide more potent healing magic than any other common spell—even more than Cure Wounds. Wait… I have an idea! I wonder if I could get a batch of Goodberries distilled into a Moonshine blend before their magic expires. If that would work, that would combine the savory goodness of Goodberries with the smoothness of Moonshine… I will ask Eowyn to help me see if I can figure out how to do that. If anyone could figure it out, it would be Eowyn. She is really smart!
We approach another barn. Will is sure the goblins are here in this barn. We discuss the merits of how to approach the barn. I suggest we announce ourselves with the Thaumaturgy cantrip. It’s the first cantrip I ever learned, even before I started training with Thornwill (my mentor). Many Tieflings are able to cast Thaumaturgy, even those who have no magical training. I am not sure if it is something that we just learn because of our culture, or if it is in our blood. The others in the party say that casting Thaumaturgy is probably not the best idea. Eowyn makes a comment about combining Thaumaturgy with Druidcraft. I fret a little as I am reminded that I must be the only druid in the Anhult who hasn’t mastered the Druidcraft cantrip. Finally, Will decides to go up and speak in Goblin.
The conversation, which takes place through an upper window in the barn, goes for a while. It sounds tense at times. Finally, Will translates to us that the goblins are named Sack, Fenix, and Ent, they have appropriated hats for disguises, and they intend to get into a boat and sail away. The goblins let us into the barn. Good job, Will! Another successful negotiation without me having to set someone on fire!
We then start talking to the goblins ourselves. Their Common is good enough that we can mostly understand each other. You know, the languages are interesting. Most humanoids across Anhult can speak passible Common, but yet all of these other languages exist. Of the other languages that I know, Elvish has the most detail, and I can speak more precisely and with better clarity in Elvish. That’s probably why the court uses Elvish on so many of its legal documents. As I had said before, Sylvan follows Elven in a similar way, but my proficiency with Sylvan is not as good, because I rarely have a chance to talk to those who can speak Sylvan. Both Elvish and Sylvan have better descriptive words of the natural world than Common does. Where Elvish excels at having such a large vocabulary and very precise words, Sylvan allows more whimsical meanings that can lead to elaborate poetry with many different meanings, depending on the creativity of the author. Druidic, which I almost exclusively spoke during my mentorship with Thornwill (which a little Sylvan thrown in) has much better descriptions of the natural world and nature magic than even Sylvan or Elven, but Druidic lacks proper words for advanced legal, commerce and trade concepts. Which, of course, leads back to Common as the best language for speaking about commerce and trade; Common works very well with negotiating in just about any merchant shop. Inferno, of course, is unlike any of those languages. Inferno has an adequate vocabulary to handle most environments, but there are fewer synonyms, so there are fewer ways to describe things. But Inferno doesn’t have very many speakers; and the name “Inferno” already stirs negative emotions and bad reactions whenever I even mention that I can speak Inferno. Plus, Inferno just isn’t very good for poetry. It is, however, a great language for very complex contracts that cause people to bargain for more than they think they are!
OK, I know, I talked about languages enough. Yes, it is the second time I have talked about languages, but this time it was vocabulary and usefulness. Last time it was pronunciation and how the languages sound to another listener. Anyway, back to the story.
The goblins are all wearing their hats. One is clearly wearing the missing sailor’s cap. The goblins tell us of their plan to get a boat and sail away. I am definitely not an expert in seafaring, but I have learned a little from Naval Merchants who did business at the court. So, I ask the goblins if they have Navigator’s Tools and Maps, so that they don’t get lost at sea. After I ask that, the goblin’s enthusiasm for getting on a boat diminishes a little. Then they proceed to tell us about Black Grub, the new #1 goblin. The old #1 goblin had found a special sword and united the goblin clans. The new #1 goblin, Black Grub, isn’t even a goblin; he is a bugbear. He killed the old #1 goblin, took over the clans, and is now causing issues leading to all of the goblins fleeing. Black Grub has four other bugbears helping him. In addition, the special sword is now missing. The red horned man, whom we suspect is a Tiefling named Ahli, has encouraged the other goblins to go be whatever they want to be, such as farmers. But this trio of goblins wants to be sailors. Because of their broken Common, I am not sure I fully understood all of their story. I did understand two things though: First, the goblins need help, and if they are seen, they will probably be killed on sight. Second, Black Grub needs to be stopped.
Either Will or Eowyn or Vardai—I can’t recall who—comes up with a plan to put the goblins in barrels and smuggle them out of town onto the boats. We tell the goblins to continue hiding, and we will go into Etonia to catch up with Charlie and Vlad and go talk to the Thieves’ Guild for help to exfiltrate the goblins.
We approach the gate leading into Etonia. Eowyn talks to the guards and we learn that a Roc, a really big, scary bird, recently flew over the town. Apparently, a wizard summoned the Roc to come back to town quickly so that that wizard could resurrect another wizard who had recently died. The implications of that scare me. I am not an expert in arcane knowledge, but I am pretty sure resurrection spells are cast as divine spells by clerics and maybe Paladins. If it is a wizard is doing the actual resurrection, then it may be less of returning his friend to life and more of creating or animating an undead, unholy abomination. I hope it is the resurrection instead of the abomination option that the wizard used. Not sure which wizard was which, but their names are said to be Antam and Fassad.
Finally, we walk into a general store where we catch up with Charlie and Vlad. Vlad had arranged to sell four barrels of the Thorngage Ale, and he kept the Moonshine! But the great news was, I was able to buy a nice brush and comb set! I immediately started brushing my hair as we negotiated selling off some more of our stuff. I am sure they were looking at me funny standing there in the shop fiddling with my hair, but it never felt so good to start working through the tangled mess. It will probably take weeks to get all of the tangles out.
After discussing how to get some empty barrels to smuggle the goblins, we decide to head to Tom’s Shop. As I quickly learned, Tom’s Shop is a front for the Thieves’ Guild. Wait, forget I said that! Tom is very helpful and agrees to arrange for a ship to transport the goblins, but it will take a least a day.
After we make those plans, I show Tom the letter my father asked me to deliver. He inspects the seal, and then finds a matching seal print in case we have to reseal the letter. Then he looks at the letter. He is a little hesitant and tells me that he’s not sure I want to know what the letter says. After a bit of hesitancy, he summarizes it. The letter is to the Miners’ Guild, asking them to press me into servitude and remit my wages back to my father back in Augustin Citadel. That Asshat! I am dismayed at how horrible and selfish of a person my father is. No respect for me, just exploitation. He cared nothing for me and never cared anything for my mother. Even when my mother died, my father treated me as his burden until I was old enough to work. Then he put me into servitude as a courtier so that he could reap favor from the Lord. No more, I am done. I grab the letter and glance at it’s contents as I prepare to burn it. It reads:
To Clay Achatri, Guildmaster of the Mine,
Per our arrangement, my daughter is delivering this letter as acceptance of her seven-year servitude into the guild as an apprentice worker. Although Temerity has eagerly agreed to this arrangement for the greater good of her family, her intellect is inferior, which can result in her forgetting her obligation. Do not concern yourself with her physical comforts. The corrupted blood that runs through her veins grants her a higher tolerance to pain. Thus, work her double shifts, minimize any idle time, and do not suffer her protests. As she has recently learned some minor magical cantrips, you may have to break her fingers and place her in leg irons to instill compliance during her frequent bouts of delusion and forgetfulness. I also recommend isolating her from other miners so that she cannot spread her deceits. Withhold only enough to cover minimal rations, keep twenty percent as agreed, and remit the remainder of her wages to me at Auguston Citadel. I appreciate your discretion in this matter.
I am in your debt,
Grim Amblecrown, Special Clerk for the Deputy Counsel to the Master of Affairs, Auguston Citadel
I cast Produce Flame and burn the letter on the spot! Never again will I even recognize him as my father. If he ever tries to reenter my life again, I might just set him on fire. What a sorrowful waste of a human. I hope he spends endless time in both the deepest pits of the Abyss as well as all nine layers of Avernus. Maybe some wizard can split his soul so that he can be in both places at the same time… hmmm.
After a few minutes, I calm down. Eowyn heads to the library to seek guidance on an issue she is having. Will wants to head directly to the festival. Vardai and I tell Will we will catch up to him at the festival, but first we will locate Charlie and arrange to get a cart and mule for the empty barrels so that we can smuggle the goblins. Vardai and I make the arrangements and catch up to Will at festival.
Hooray! The festival!