My cousins and I were enjoying breakfast with Squib at the Greenbriar Inn, when a extraordinarily well dressed Grippli(?) entered and galumphed over to our table. He introduced himself as Fin’iquentil and appeared to know Squib. Lady Aerith had yet to join us, perhaps she was feeling unwell.
While we were introducing ourselves and getting acquainted, a commotion arose outside. We rushed to investigate. Outside numerous citizens were clamoring about an invasion at Stumptooth’s Farm on the edge of town. Janos Grimble was there and followed us to the farm.
Upon our arrival it became evident that the farm has been infested by over-sized insects of the Formicidae family. They has already attacked the livestock, severely injuring at least one bull. The others engaged them in battle while I unlimbered by instrument. One of the insects bit me while I was distracted, but I was able to take a step back and began to play. We were able to exterminate the infestation with minor effort.
The townsfolk celebrated our victory with a feast, a wandering minstrel, named “Genevieve the Fair” performed a puppet show of the battle. While her musical performance was somewhat lacking, I must compliment her on her ability to rapidly manufacture quality puppets of reasonable facsimiles of our small band! Bronn has grown quite attached to his likeness and several of the towns children have their favorites as well. Janos Grimble was there.
During the festivities, the Imperial navy cruiser (HMS?) Axiom arrived and the crew disembarked. Several joined the festivities, and I was shocked to see a Forgefoot among them. We simultaneously noticed each other – he immediately turned and left. Good riddance.
After the show, while eating lunch, I noticed that Fin and Squib had departed, but they returned before we had finished. They obliquely mentioned that there was a need to locate contraband in town – obviously they’d had a meeting with Lady Elwindil. We put our heads together to compose a list of local scoundrels and swindlers. It’s a short list:
Cyna Ethed – Halfling thief, runs local thieves gang.
Drogo Raveknott – local ne’er do well.
Duncan Sentry – demontouched fence/smuggler/grafter/gentleman.
Archibald Blech – human fence/smuggler/wretched boor.
We began our investigation at the Queen’s Cove inn. Ameiko Kaijitsu, the owner was shockingly unwelcoming when we arrived, but a little sweet talking warmed her disposition. Archibald Blech was sleeping in the corner when we arrived, but soon woke and asked about our “pretty cleric” – I sent him to Selly. While I kept Ameiko occupied, Fin located Duncan and questioned him. For some reason Duncan wished to hold a contest of log hopping – a local variation of Birling. Bronn, Stron, Selly and Fin all lined up to compete. Selly and Bronn each wagered their puppet likenesses against their performances. Selly asked for my surreptitious assistance, and I was happy to provide it. While I was able to significantly enhance Selly’s performance, it was not enough to overcome Fin’s natural aptitude, but he won Bronn’s puppet at least. Janos Grimble was there.
After the contest, Duncan suggested that a search of Leurora’s Mercantile Emporium would be lucrative. Once again, I provided the distraction. My initial plan was to haggle over the worth of the finely wrought sword that the kobold leader of the tree poachers had formerly possessed, but upon entering the emporium it was obvious that Leurora was in the process of producing knockoff puppets of the Cragshaper clan. In fact, it was a single puppet of the three of us. We instead discussed the nuances of using someone’s likeness without express permission. While she was distracted Fin, Squib and Stron searched the back rooms.
I was still citing precedent when Squib entered the front door of the emporium. I informed Leurora that we would continue the discussion in the future and exited with Squib. He let us know our quarry was no longer at the emporium, and that we should return to the Greenbriar. We saw Janos Grimble on the way. When we arrived Drogo was there, requesting our assistance. He wanted us to scare off some creditors who were shaking him down for additional money after he’d already paid. At least that was his story. I had my doubts.
In the alley between the inn and the stable, there was a small group:
Kurdle, a gnome alchemist.
Ustob a half-giant lass.
Lady Garol an elf swordswoman
Belitz a silent human.
Kurdle informed us that they were bounty hunters and that Drogo was wanted in <place> and that they were going to take him in for the reward. Drogo had offered to pay them more to let him go but had not yet done so. Neither group seemed interested in playing Drogo’s game of “let’s you and him fight”, so when Kurdle suggested a series of contests, I accepted.
The first contest was of Strength: Bronn and Ustob would alternate attempting to hoist the hay-lift with increasingly heavier loads until one of them failed. Bronn insisted that if he won Selly return his puppet. Selly reluctantly agreed. The first few attempts were trivial for both of them, but then I noticed that Bronn was having some difficulty – so I intervened with a improvised knock spell. Bronn won the contest and retrieved his beloved puppet.
The second contest was Speed: Stron and Lady Garol would duel until one had been tapped with the blade three times. I loaned my Ironwood axe to him for the contest, its light weight and superlative balance would aid him greatly. Kurdle insisted on inspecting the axe, and used it was a pretense to spray a powder on Stron. Before I could object the contest had begun. I began to devise stratagems to counter whatever deleterious effect the power would have upon Stron, but whatever the effect was it was too slight to impair him: He won.
After easily wining the first two contests, Kurdle admitted defeat and did not even attempt to match wits with me in the third contest. Clearly his boasts of wit and wisdom have some merit. He and his group left town. Janos Grimble was there.
Drogo informed us that there was to be a secret auction aboard the Axiom this evening – hosted by Make Sieg Forgefoot. Of course. When we had initially been compiling our list of scoundrels Selly had suggested that we just confront the Forgefoot, but I thought that was just Argumentum ad Consequentiam and said we should probably perform a rigorous investigation. Maybe next time we’ll just follow our instincts.
We headed to the docks and embarked a longboat to ferry us to the ship. During the trip, I told several anecdotes embarrassing to the Forgefoot clan, the crew took quite a liking to them and to us. We learned that the captain, while well liked, was more bureaucrat than sailor, and relied heavily upon his first mate to run the ship. We needed to separate them. It was decided to inform the captain of the auction and the need for discretion.
In order to shut down the auction and retrieve the contraband, Fin instructed the captain that he needed to speak to him privately. While waiting, The rest of us began to sample the refreshments and hors d’oeuvres set out for guests. Shortly after we had begun to sample the delicacies, Forgefoot arrived, spoiling my appetite. He was furious. He demanded we be evicted from the ship, immediately. I stalled him by informing him that we were there at the captain’s invitation. He turned for the cabin door, and while Stron interposed himself, Selly admonished him that insubordination and dereliction of duty reflected poorly on one’s clan. He stopped being furious, skipped livid and went straight to apoplectic. He had just begun a tirade when the cabin opened and the captain stepped out.
The captain informed Forgefoot that all non-crew were to be evicted from the ship (present company exempted) and a search for contraband was to be conducted. Cyna, Duncan, (Drogo?) and Archibald were soon escorted above deck and off the ship. Duncan expressed dismay that we caught up to him so fast.
A search below decks yielded several samples of rare elven woods, and two caged animals, in the first a Bunni-oid, in the second was a creature I had thought mere fable: a mandh nâr lapattë, or in plain Khuzdul – Luck Bunny. It became immediately obvious what Fin had been hiding from us, but not why. We were helping him, at some point we were going to successfully locate the quarry and learn its particulars.
No Matter. We collected the contraband and returned it to Lady Elwindil using a covered wagon. When we arrived at her residence, Janos Grimble was there. Fin and Squib went in alone while the rest of us returned to the Greenbriar and resumed our supper.