Sunday, March 16, 2014

Chapter 2: Handle With Care: Part 2

In which the party finally gets their shopping done...

Donovan

As they toss the bundle of weapons and armor into the wagon, Donovan shrugs. "I was thinking we could pawn most of them. Jerome's is right on the other side of Madam Esmerelda's, almost. The only problem with that thought is that Jerome supplies the gangs as much as the adventurers, so the weapons would most likely just end up back in the hands of other ruffians..."

As he climbs back up into the wagon, he smiles, "We could just shove them in a corner of the wagon and sell them when we get to Melvaunt. That would keep them out of the local arms-market at least."

Hrud

Hrud reclaims the green sword he left at the wagon. He then changes out of his hand-me-down leather armor and into the leather curiass. The barbarian proceeds to examine both of the spears, examining the heads and sighting down the hafts for any bows, splinters, or cracks. After a moment's consideration, he tosses one back on the pile of loot and carries the other with him to the drivers bench.

As he starts to climb up, he suddenly remembers something. Stepping back down, he wonders over to the pool of blood that had spilled from the orc's crushed skull. Kneeling down, he presses his hand into the crimson puddle, then slaps himself on chest - leaving a shiny red hand-print glistening in the sunlight. After wiping his hand off on the dead orc, he returns to his seat, ready to continue the journey.

Lyra

Lyra carefully steps around the spray of orc gore at the back of the wagon and climbs in to check on the girl.  She removes hose, a chemise, and the wine colored dress she was wearing yesterday from her pack, and re-folds them in a neat pile next to the girl so that she'd have them in the order she'd need them getting dressed.  Her brow furrows, realizing she doesn't have extra shoes to give.  She adds to her mental list of things to get at the market.  "Brother Rant, how is she?"

GM

"Her injuries were pretty severe, but she should recover soon enough, physically at least. You reached her just in time." Brother Rant climbs up in the wagon with the girls. "There is no telling what sort of emotional scarring she might have from an event like this. I don't know of any proper Psychologues in the city, but we can at least get her someplace safe and find who she belongs to."

Teldicia chimes in, "One more distraction then? Finding her family, if she even has any, in this warren sounds like it would take forever."

Brother Rant nods, "The soup kitchen I volunteer at is on the far side of the market. We should take her t

Lyra

Lyra was practically scowling.  "Belongs to?"

GM

Brother Rant looks at Lyra confusedly, "Yes, Miss Lyra, while there are a lot of lost souls in this town, most people still have someone willing to take responsibility for them--a parent, a sibling, a spouse, or even fellow adventurers. She seems a bit young to fall in that last category, but then, so do you I guess." He smiles, "Even if she has no family, she might belong to a group like your own. We are social creatures. Everyone belongs to someone, that is just the order of things."

Lyra

Her expression softens.  "Shouldn't it be 'belongs with' rather than 'belongs to'?"

Frantiska

Frantiska makes a clicking sound with her tongue, and Thistledown follows close behind while they haul the loot back to the wagon. "Selling them fifteen leagues away seems like a reasonable solution to the local problem, but what are the chances that forces from Melvaunt would come here?" She climbs up on Thistledown and nudges her into the crowd, making way for the wagon.

«Lyra,» she says, once mounted,«in light of recent events, Thistledown and I are definitely coming along on your shopping expedition to provide security.»

Lyra

«If nothing else, I could use some help carrying things back.  I'm a little worried Brother Rant just made himself even more of a target for the Xvimlar than he was already, though.  We should make it a fast trip.»  Lyra slips out the back of the wagon and heads towards Jerome's, keeping a wary eye on the crowd.  «So what brings you to Phlan, anyway?  Aglarond is rather far from here, and you seem to find this place as unwelcoming as I do.»

Frantiska

Frantiska smiles warmly as she follow's Lyra to the store, clearly pleased by the question. «My purpose here is twofold. First, it is the wish of the Witch Queen that her servants learn as much as they can about the larger world, so as to better serve her. More specifically, I am investigating a mystery. You see, my personal interest is in the area of etymology, that is the history of languages and words. While studying in Aglarond, I noticed an oddity--the language of my homeland appears to be more closely related to the language of this region than of any of our neighbors. There is no mention in the official histories of Aglarond of any kind of diaspora or exodus from this region, nor even of any significant trade or other interaction. So, I began traveling here to see if there might be some sage, or tome, or other clue that could shed light on why this linguistic anomaly might be.» She barely stops for breath as she speaks, «While traveling through the Duchy of Carmathan in Damarra, Thistledown and I met a teller of tales who spoke of Phlan. While he went on for some time about the "glorious reclamation" that the Council is attempting, we were eventually able to get some more interesting details out of him. First that Phlan is among the oldest human settlements in the lands north of the Moonsea. Second that there was a great library in the old city, and that some portion of it may still be standing. And third, and perhaps most important to my research, he spoke of an ancient civilization that existed near here, the Empire of Nog.» Her eyes truly light up at this, «Then, in a small library in the city of Darmshall in Sunderland, I found a few scraps of parchment and palimpsests which the librarian claimed came from this 'Nog'. While I was not able to fully decipher them, they characters and words I could make out were clearly of Mulani extraction--very similar to the language of Thay, nearest neighbor and greatest enemy. So, it only stands to reason that if this 'Nog' existed, is as old as the bard's tale led me to believe, and is linguistically associated with the lands even farther east than Aglarond, then it may be the link I need to unravel why our language is so close to that of Thar. Perhaps all of the eastern civilizations originated here, in Nog and Tharkul, and there was some event that forced both cultures to migrate east.» She stops Thistledown at the door of the store, surprised to see an actual brick-and-mortar establishment here, and climbs down. She whispers something into the horse's ear before walking into the building behind Lyra. «So, I am here in Phlan because I hope to gain access to the library in the old city, or whatever is left of it, hopefully find some more clues to the location of the Empire of Nog, and then mount an archaeological expedition to unearth whatever ruins may still stand of Nog. In the meantime, I hope to do whatever good I can, as Selune calls.»

Lyra

Lyra paused in thought as she picked through the shelves for needed supplies.  «Before Plhan was founded, the Stojanow River went by another name -- the Nogaro.  I've heard of Nog in Waterdeep as well.  There was an old monastery near the docks, claiming to teach the ways of the "Battlemages of Nog".  Rumor is, they learned to trap spells within their own flesh, but for the most part they were beggars and brawlers of ill repute.  But, if the Nogaro has its roots from the Empire of Nog, it may have been located near the river, or perhaps its source.»

GM

Jerome of Melvaunt's is a long, high-ceilinged, windowless, wooden building, a clap-board sign hanging over the door bears the traditional three gold balls identifying it as a pawn shop. Lyra and Frantiska walk in to find the place dark, almost oppressively so after being outside, with only a single candle in a hanging sconce every fifteen feet or so of the building's length. Two guards, tall men in scale armor, leaning on unsheathed two-handed swords, immediately flank the door on the inside. Merchandise is piled haphazardly everywhere, with ceiling high stacks of barrels, crates, jars, chairs, bolts of cloth, and other things, with no apparent organization or reason. To the right, as you enter, is a large iron-barred cage with a small window at waist-level inside of which is a heavy wooden desk and a single wooden door in the wall behind it.

A dark-bearded dwarf wearing thick horn-rimmed glasses sits at the desk. Seeing the two girls come in, he stands, unlocks the cage and steps out. "Welcome ladies," he says in a surprisingly smooth voice for a dwarf and a tone that leans towards sleezy pick-up artist, "how can Jerome help you today?"

As Lyra begins listing the things she is looking for, he whistles and a large, burly half-orc comes walking out from behind a pile of carpets. Jerome begins barking orders in orcish and soon a mound of blankets, sleeping bags, and other gear is sitting at Lyra's feet. When she mentions 'six weeks of food' the dwarf's eyebrows go up comically, "What sort of food M'lady, and, for the two of you? Your friend looks like the adventuring sort, I hope you weren't planning on living on hard-tack for that long? You'll get scurvy that way."

Lyra

Lyra glances around at the stacks of dubiously acquired goods.  It almost looks like a hobo dragon's hoard.  Then she looks down to the growing pile at her feet, trying to think if there was anything else she'd missed.  "Six people for one week, sir.  What would you recommend?"

GM

Lyra notices that a few of the blankets have someone else's initials embroidered along the edge.

"Six people for one week," the dwarf looks around and starts barking more orders in orcish, "you got a cook with you?" His half-orc assistant comes back with an opened crate filled with jars and pouches.

"Here ya go, this'll make some proper meals for pretty lasses such as yourselves." He begins holding up jars and bags to show you. "Here's five pounds of rice and 2 pounds of chickpeas, put them in a barrel to soak and then just boil what you need when you're ready to eat--they'll fill your party up just as well as hard-tack with none of the tummy troubles after. Then you've got 2 pounds of salt cod and 5 pounds of beef sausages for your protein. Two dozen eggs and three loaves of sourdough for your breakfasts, and a jar of strawberry preserves to spread on it. Then we've got 3 quarts of pickled beans, 2 quarts of mushrooms, and 2 quarts of onions for flavor, just dump a quart in with your rice to make a nice side-dish. A gallon of olive oil, good for lamps or for frying the mushrooms. A wheel of yak-butter cheese, 2 pounds of walnuts, and a quart of pickled pears for snacking on the road. Sugar, salt, and Herbs de Provence for adding a little more flavor to your dinner. And a keg of mead to wash it all down with."

He gives the two of you the biggest grin you've ever seen on a dwarf, actually maybe the only grin you've ever seen on a dwarf, "For pretty ladies such as yourselves, I'll even knock an extra five percent off, which brings it to an even 70 gold for the crate."

"And I suppose you'll be needing pots, pans, and a camp stove too?"

Lyra

Lyra looks at her companion.  «Can you cook, Frantiska?  I can boil water and measure things, but when it goes wrong, it goes really wrong.»

Frantiska

Frantiska is at first overwhelmed by the dark confines of the store, then completely shocked by the owner. What is he saying? Why is he smiling like that? Oh, Selune! Is a dwarf hitting on me?! Her face flushes a deep red, luckily hard to make out in the dim candlelight she thinks, then she realizes that everyone else, like her, are probably using infravision which would just make the heat flushing her cheeks that much more obvious. She blushes some more. She barely follows the conversation as the dwarf espouses the virtues of his canned vegetables. When Lyra finally asks her about cooking she stammers out «Umm, no!» and ducks out the door a little too quickly. «I'll go ask the others...»

Lyra

Lyra looks confused as Frantiska rushes out.  "A bit of dried fruit would be good.  Apples, or maybe currants if you have any.  Yes, we'll need cooking supplies.  And do you have any blankets that are less ... monogrammed?"

Meanwhile, outside...


Donovan

Donovan, surprised to see Frantiska go into Jerome's and leave her horse untethered and unattended, moves to the front of the wagon and directs Hrud, mostly by pointing emphatically, to pull the wagon up next to the store. "Brother Rant, we can easily walk to Half-a-Loaf from here. Do you think the girl is stable enough to be carried across the market? Or should we wait and take her in the wagon when the girls are done?"

Hrud

A sickly green shimmer danced along the length of the broadsword as Hrud turned it over in his lap. His eyes came to rest on the two painted eyes starting up at him from the guard.  There was something about the shape, or the placement, or _something_ about how they were rendered that was weighing on his mind.

Sitting on the wagon, waiting for the others to conduct their business (it looked as though this merchant was far less interested in fish than the one he'd dealt with down by the docks), the barbarian tried to recall his experience after Frantiska had ... facilitated a quick albeit unexpected dreamwalk. The sword in his dream didn't look like this one and, to be honest, didn't 'feel' as sinister.

Suddenly, realization dawned: The figures looking down at him - one of them had eyes like this. It was one of the smaller figures, if he remembered correctly. Those hate-filled eyes had bored into with what he could only discribe as a general sense of contempt and spite. But the figure didn't do anything, didn't say anything in his vision ... was this just a coincidence?

It seemed to Hrud that it must be in the nature of the gods to make people lots of questions, while answering as few of them as they could get away with. And even then, answer them in the most confusing, frustrating ways imaginable.

He wondered if they would give him a straight answer when he finally got to ask his question.

Donovan

Sitting in the front of the wagon waiting, Donovan has a sudden thought, his face breaking out into a large mischievous smile, and pulls the hurdy-gurdy from his pack. "Rant," he says with a smirk, "don't translate this please." He cranks up the hurdy-gurdy and begins playing a slow, slinky jazz number over the drone. "I call this...Ode to Hrud..." he says, then begins singing in a high tenor.

Nobody understands me,
although I wish they would.
Nobody understands me.
I hate being misunderstood.

Nobody understands me,
no matter how I try.
Nobody understands me,
and I can’t understand why.

When I think of all the glorble snop
I’ve tried so hard to explain!
They all look amused,
or a little confused.
Why can’t they see what I mean?
(It’s very snooffly.)

Nobody understands me,
though memmily blitt each day.
Nobody understands me,
but I guess zooglobble that way.

How can I make you understand?
How can I make you see?
Why does my queckery biffle you so?
Where will this ezzleboo dornut go?
What do explectionary inuews know?
When will you yuddle for me?

Nobody beezifies me.
Nobody febbin ud.
Kibblezy deen voo nizee!
I hate being misunderstood...

GM

As Donovan's song drones on, the crowd in the street begins to move back noticeably. At first, you expect it to be from some musical criticism, then you notice the parting crowd reveals a kobold, a red hand-print covering its face and a battered, bronze-bladed machete gripped in its paws. It barks in its high-pitched voice, sounding like an enraged minpin, and points a finger at Hrud. Off to one side, an old man wheeling a push-cart of fried dumplings stops and looks up at the wagon. "She says the big guy killed her mate and she wants retribution. Fight to the death and all that...her versus the big man..." The old man looks like he is trying hard not to laugh.

Donovan

Donovan stops playing and looks incredulously at the kobold, waiting for Rant to translate for Hrud and wondering what kind of crazy kobold would challenge the barbarian to a fair fight. "This has got to be a trick of some kind," he says as he begins looking around at the crowd, side alleys, buildings, and rooftops for more kobolds.

Hrud

Hrud stands up on the wagon, sets aside his short bow and takes up the green broadsword. Stepping down, he slowly starts walking forward, saying "«Your mate? Your mate attacked me outside the city as I slept and kidnapped me. Your mate was going to torture and kill my horse for no reason. Your mate uttered a curse with his dying words.»"

The barbarian stops roughly 10 feet from the kobold and takes up a fighting stance, sword held ready with both hands in front of him. "«Your mate got what he deserved.»"

GM

There is a flurry of words as Rant translates for Hrud and the old dumpling-cart man translates for the kobold, and vice versa.

The kobold narrows its eyes at Hrud, tightens its grip on the machete, lowers its head, and charges at Hrud screaming, "Skreeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaayt!".

The flurry of translation continues and Rant barks out, «She just called you a 'flat-head'.»

Hrud

Hrud attempts to side-step the charge, bringing the sword down across the kobold's torso, then follows up with an upward swing.

GM

The kobold charges, leading with its head, leaping at the last minute with the clear intent of head-butting Hrud in the groin. Hrud sidesteps, and chops down onto its back, causing the kobold to crash head-first into the dirt of the road. She rolls to a standing position, spins, surprisingly quickly, and slashes at Hrud, making a deep gash in his thigh with the machete. The last swing leaves her wide-open though, and Hrud's counter-attack catches her under the chin, sending her reeling back several steps with a long line of blood dripping down her front.

In the wagon, Teldicia moves up onto the front bench to watch the fight, Amara also moves up to peek over Donovan's shoulder, shouting little encouragements like "Yay Hrud!" and "Get her!" and "Ooh, watch out!" when the kobold counters.

Donovan

Donovan cranks up the hurdy gurdy and begins a more upbeat rendition of his "Hrud's Blues" song.

Hrud

Hrud, utterly shocked by the severity of the attack, utters an incoherent roar of pain and rage and drives the point of his sword into the center of the kobold's mass.

GM

Whether Hrud was inspired by Donovan's song, or enraged by it, or the kobold was just distracted, it works. Before the kobold can react to make another assault, Hrud stabs the green-bladed sword through the thing's small chest, impaling it up to the quillons. The kobold gasps in surprise, gives the briefest of shudders, and dies.

Donovan

Seeing the thing die, Donovan finishes a few more bars, then sets down the instrument and climbs out of the wagon. "Rant, give Hrud my congratulations on his victory." Donovan walks over and looks at the kobold's machete, where it has slipped from the things fingers onto the dirt road.

GM

This bronze-bladed machete has little in the way of a grip, just twine wrapped around the tang and tied. The tang under the loose wrapping appears to be carved with some kind of hieroglyphics. Donovan recalls some local stories about an ancient "golden sword" that has been handed down for generations among the champions of the red hand kobold tribe.

Hrud

As Hrud and Donovan stand there looking down at the little corpse bleeding out on the street in front of them for the second time today in under a hour, the barbarian's head starts to spin and he sinks to one knee, his wounded leg giving out beneath him. "«Your song. I felt it ...»" he mumbles.

GM

Brother Rant jumps out of the wagon, telling Amara and Teldicia to stay put and runs over to Hrud. «Sit down» he says, pulling some bandages from a pouch. He expertly cleans and binds Hrud's leg. He then presses his hands against the wound and says a prayer to Tyr, healing it completely.

Hrud

Feeling immensely better despite the new scar, Hrud thanks Rant and says, "«Next time, I'll shoot first.»"

Donovan

Seeing the markings under the grip, Donovan kneels down and begins tearing away the twine. He stares fascinated a the glyphs, trying to make them out. "Rant," Donovan says, as he examines the strange weapon, "can you ask Hrud if he would like the blade? If not, I would like to take it for further study."

"The glyphs are the ancient Noga language of the northern Moonsea. They roughly translate as: 'Thirdly, I know that there is someone pursuing me—Death—whom I cannot escape from, so I have prepared myself to meet him.' Interestingly, the first word is Skreeayt, meaning "Thirdly" (or "and another thing")—purely by coincidence, Skreeayt is also a kobold word (and given name) meaning “flat-headed”."

Hrud

Hrud listens to the translation of the markings on the blade. "«The words of one resolved to die - but I am not.»" He hands the blade to Donovan, "«It is yours to study, Dawn-of-man.»"

Frantiska

When Frantiska gets outside she closes the door behind her so fast as to almost slam it and puts her back against the wall breathing heavily, fighting off the slight panic attack at the thought of the lecherous dwarf looking at her in that way. When she sees Hrud, Donovan, and Rant standing over the body of another kobold she immediately snaps out of it. "What are you doing?" she asks incredulously. Then, remembering where she is and what's going on, she stammers out, "Lyra! You've got to help her! There's a dwarf...he's, he's... Can any of you cook?" Her cheeks flush again and she buries her head in her hands, praying to the Maiden of the Moon to protect her against the impure thoughts of men.

Donovan

Donovan accepts the machete, pulls the sheath off the kobold, and straps the blade to his pack. Noticing Frantiska rush out of Jerome's he looks up worried, knowing a bit about the place's reputation as a fencing operation and a den for thieves. Hearing her say that Lyra is in trouble he rushes for the door. "What was that? Can we cook?" he looks confused. "Rant said he volunteered at a soup kitchen..." he says as he throws open the door to the store and barges in. Only after opening the door does he stop to think that he is probably no match for anything that could scare Frantiska like that.

GM

"Oh?" Jerome looks at the blankets, eyes wide, then throws the bundle at his half-orc assistant. "Što e ova?" he yells, "T rekov da go zbere koncte advor! Oda da kupa eko čsta one!" The assistant scurries off with the bundle of blankets and returns a few minutes later with some less nice, but more socially acceptable ones. "I'm very sorry M'Lady," the dwarf says. "Ce Pazuv gets a little confused sometimes. Those others were made special for another client. I'm sure you understand." He takes the new pile of blankets and carefully sets them aside. "I'm very sorry about the mix-up. We'll add these to your order free of charge..." He looks at the half-orc again, "Ce Pazuv, Jabolka rbzl, suvo!"

"Yes, we have apples and currants, how much would you like?"

The guards by the door jerk a little as Donovan throws open the door, but do not otherwise move. "Ah! The herald is back in town, splendid!" Jerome says, seeing Donovan walk in. "I hope you brought something interesting back from your travels for Old Jerome. I'll be with you in a moment, just let me finish putting together this lovely girl's order."

Lyra

"Mr. Donovan!"  Lyra smiles and waves as he rushes in.  "Do you have pots, or do we need to get some?  And do you like mushrooms?"

GM

Jerome cocks an eyebrow, "Oh, you're together?" He shoots Donovan an appreciating gaze, tapping his the side of his nose with one finger. "You always did have good taste, ol' dog, and two of them no doubt." The dwarf flashes his disturbingly large grin again and turns back to Lyra, "An extra five percent off your traveling expenses, for an old friend."

Frantiska

Hearing the exchange between Donovan and the garrulous dwarf from outside, Frantiska moves to the other side of the wagon, hoping to put as much room as possible between herself and the lechers, and fumbles in her pouch for her tobacco and papers. It takes her some time to get the cigarette rolled properly in her agitated state, but finally she gets it lit and leans back against the side of the wagon and begins taking long, slow draws on it, trying to put out of her head the thoughts of Donovan and Jerome undressing her with their eyes.

Donovan

Donovan looks around for a minute before, still expecting some threat, then sees the large pile of goods in front of Lyra. "Ummm...no I don't have pots and pans. Good thought though." He walks up and shakes Jerome's hands. "Sorry, nothing too interesting this time. I've got a few things you might be interested in." He pulls out the silver shoulder plate, earring, bracelet, door knocker, bell pull, and bell. "But they are of a more local vintage."

He leans close to Lyra, "What got into Frantiska? She sounded like you were being assaulted..."

GM

Ce Pazuv, the half-orc brings a pound of dried apples and a pound of dried currants and adds them to the crate of food. Jerome looks over the pile of goods, making some mental calculations with the speed of a true master fence. "With the 'Old Friend Discount', that will come to one hundred and thirty five gold pieces, ten silver, and eight and one-half coppers." He looks at the items Donovan has layed out, "All together, those will fetch you fourty-eight gold, five silvers, which brings your total to eighty-six gold, six silvers, and eight and one-half coppers."

Lyra

Lyra looks even more confused and whispers back.  "Assaulted?  What?  Mr. Jerome has been ... enthusiastically helpful, although I fear I may have gotten his assistant in trouble after pointing out some of the blankets were monogrammed.  I didn't think Frantiska or Brother Rant would appreciate the needlework."

Donovan

Donovan looks at Lyra shrugs, "She looked like she had seen the tarrasque or something..."

He then turns to Jerome, "Eighty-six, sixty-eight and a half huh?" He cocks a crooked smile and gives the dwarf a look that says 'you're going to hate me'. He reaches under his cloak and pulls out a very heft purse out of which he counts, 399 copper pieces, 217 silver pieces, 34 electrum pieces, 19 gold pieces, and 5 platinum. "That should do it. You owe us half a copper..."

Donovan counts out the money and pushes it through the window into the cage so that Jerome can stash it. "Oh," he tosses another 2 gold through the grate, "ask Ce Pazuv to fetch the girl a set of pots and pans. We'd also like to see your special stock...we'll need some bows, crossbows, and plenty of ammo..."

Lyra

Lyra is deep in thought, fidgeting with the end of a lock of her hair.  "Maybe it was seeing the half-orc that bothered her?  Given what just happened...."

The words 'special stock' seem to snap her back to the present.

GM

Jerome walks into the cage and watches Donovan intently as he counts out the coins. He unlocks a drawer of the desk, takes out and opens an iron box with three locks, and then carefully arranges the coins inside before relocking it and returning it to the drawer. "The special stock, Donovan? I thought you didn't go in for the violent stuff..." The dwarf opens the door behind the desk, "Just a second," and disappears through it. "Ce Pazuv, da v pooge da g včtate rabot vo vagoot dodeka Jas Ja zvleče oružJe," he says, poking his head out briefly.

The half-orc scoops up the crate of food and walks towards the door. "Boss says to load your wagon..."

A few minutes later, Jerome returns from the back room with several cases, which he opens to reveal a plethora of bows, crossbows, and ammunition.

Donovan

Donovan grabs a pile of blankets and carries them out to the wagon, "Hey, anyone who needs to stock up on arrows or the like should come take a look. We can take turns watching the cart..."

Lyra

Lyra looks over the array of bows.  "Not violent.  Defended."  She gestures to a graceful longbow.  "That one.  I'd also like a quiver, and 60 sheaf arrows.  Do you happen to have any archery targets as well?"

Hrud

Finally losing interest in the little kobold who nearly felled him with (what simply HAD to be) a lucky strike, Hrud turns to Rant and asks, " Pripun wong saka kutha ngomong 'glathi?' " Rant gives him a reply, for which Hrud thanks him and not-quite-limps into the shop.

The barbarian makes his way to the unusually short man who keeps rubbing his hands together in what could only be lust for the large sale he was about to make. Standing slightly too close and towering over the dwarf, he very slowly and very carefully pronounces the first word of common he's ever spoken: "Blades?"

GM

"Of course no one would suspect such a refined young lady of violence." Jerome slides over next to Lyra as she is examines the bow, close enough that his voice, smooth as silk, comes from right around her waist, "Yes, that one is almost as lovely as you, M'lady. A perfect fit I think." He steps forward to hand the bow up to her. "Such an elegant lady with such a lovely bow needs special ammunition though..." He flips open one of the cases to reveal a dozen, carefully packed arrows, with silver heads shaped like willow leaves and fletchings of the purest white swan feathers. He carefully lifts one of the arrows out and hands it up to Lyra, "I can even cut you a special dea...", then starts when he hears Hrud's gruff voice behind him.

His head snaps around, and up, much to far up, with a look of feigned innocence as if saying, 'Oh, I'm sorry, is this your woman?!'  He takes an awkward step back from Lyra and the barbarian, then looks Hrud up and down assessingly. Regaining his composure, his broad mercantile smile returns, "Ah. Eraka? Apa Urut saka glathi sampeyan kasengsem?"

Lyra

Idle flattery to sweeten the sale, Lyra thought, but her breath caught as he opened the case.  Beautiful craftsmanship.  "My skill could scarce do them justice."

Hrud

Hrud holds his hands roughly a foot apart, approximating the length of a dagger, "Ngalangi agul-agul. Tanpa emas utawa sugih watu. Landhep."

Frantiska

Frantiska finishes her cigarette. Feeling a little calmer, she over and helps Donovan secure the goods in the wagon. "If you're watching the wagon, I'll go make sure that creature is not doing anything to Lyra..." She straitens her shoulders and strides into the store like a general marching to the battlefield.

She walks in, glad to see Hrud there keeping an eye on the girl--he at least seemed to know how to keep his eyes to himself. Seeing the weapons laid out her face softens a bit. "The stave on that bow looks a little long for you Lyra..." she walks over and puts a hand on the girl's elbow, pushing it up a little, "you're almost dragging the ground with that one. You want the bow to be about your own height when unstrung, and you'll want to make sure it is flexible enough for you to bend and string yourself."

She takes a hard look at the weapons, looking for a bow that would be the best fit for Lyra's frame, preferably one with sights and an arrow rest since she is a beginner.

GM

Jerome bows to the big barbarian, and hurries back into the back room, returning with two cases full of daggers of all kinds of makes. He lays the cases on the floor next to the bows, flips one open and sits pondering a bit before pulling out a very plain-looking, iron-bladed dirk, "Kene kowe. Kebak-dawa tang, kayu atos nyekethem, unornamented, nanging banget fungsi."

Jerome turns to Frantiska with a sweeping bow. "You have an excellent eye M'lady," he says tapping the side of his nose again. "I'm glad to see such an excellent and beauteous archer has chosen to grace our fair city. And you're friend here is quite right," he says, nodding to Lyra and taking another of the silver leaf-heads out, "these arrows are longing to be fired by the delicate hand of a true master such as yourself..."

Frantiska examines the bows, hefting each one and testing its draw before handing Lyra a much shorter bow, only about 24 inches in the draw, with flexible tips, horn and sinew reinforcement, and additional lathes to build up the grip and add an arrow rest [a composite shortbow], explaining that it will make the arrow fly faster and straighter with less effort on Lyra's part.

The longbow that Lyra was holding, while very beautiful in design, appears to have been weakened by being stored bent. The other bows--3 more longbows and 1 shortbow--are in decent working condition. There are also eight crossbows--2 heavy, 5 light, 1 hand--none of them remarkable, and two of the light crossbows look like they will need serviced before being combat ready (old strings, loose bolts on the draw ring, and the like). There are plenty of arrows--barrels of sheaf and flight arrows, some bird and frog-crotch, and a few stone-biters--all of which look functional, but not as well made as the ones Jerome is trying to push on Lyra. Those silver leaf-heads are clearly of the highest quality and probably worth 30 gold pieces or more.

Hrud

Hrud takes the dirk in-hand, get a feel for it. As he inspects the blade, an idea strikes him. Turning to Lyra, he offers the weapon to her, handle first, "Terus iki. Mangsuli cara ngrasa ing tangan."

Lyra

Lyra accepts the dagger, checking the edge and balance.  "I think I like mine better." Unlike the bow, Lyra handles the knife with the familiarity of one trained in its use.

Hrud

Hrud watches how the girl holds the weapon, the ease of how she turns it over and hefts it. By the time she makes her statement, the barbarian is decided. Taking the knife back, he turns to the dwarf and asks, "Pinten?"

GM

"Siji emas," Jerome responds simply.

Hrud

Hrud rummages around in his belt pouch for moment, frowning. No coins. Instead he pulls out one of the stones Donovan gave him back in the kobold's hideout (hematite). Handing it to Jermome, he asks, "Bakal bisa iki?"

GM

Jerome looks at the stone closely, turning it over with his fingers. "Iki nggoleki," he says. He walks back into the cage, closing it behind him, and once again goes through the process of getting out the lockbox. He places the stone inside, and counts out five gold coins. "Panjenengan pangowahan," he says, handing the coins out through the window.

Hrud

Hrud reaches hesitantly towards the gold, expecting them to be snatched back at any moment as a cruel jest. Seeing that the dwarf was apparently just going to let him have it, he quickly slid the coins into his coin pouch. Each little clink the note of a beautiful song he was hearing for the first time. The barbarian had possessed money before - old Skadi would pay him a little to help out with the cattle outside their tent city - but up until last night, the most he'd ever carried in his life was a single gold piece. Here were _five_, all his! Was the stone really worth that much? Trying to adopt a nonchalant manner (ie: being painfully obvious), Hrud leans on the counter, looks around and says "Aku duwe liyane. Pengin?"

GM

The dwarf flashes a big, affable smile. "Yen milaur bakal mbeta duwit receh, aku bisa mesthi ngganti mau kanggo sampeyan."

Frantiska

Frantiska fights the urge to bolt again, knowing that Lyra needs her support in the face of this reprehensible creature, and gingerly accepts the arrow. She pulls out her own longbow, still strung from the recent battle with the orcs, and knocks the arrow making sure it is long enough on the draw. Satisfied, she kneels down and places the arrow in the case. "I will take them," she says curtly. She pulls her own pouch of gems out, and tosses it through the window. "There are seven-hundred gold worth of gems in there. I will take these arrows, the bow," she gestures to the bow Lyra is holding, "two of the crossbows, five full quivers each of flight and sheaf arrows, four quarrels of bolts for the crossbows, and a set of targets if you have them. I would like the rest liquidated..." she stops and thinks, eyeing the lecherous merchant coldly, "and keep in mind that one of Tyr's priests is right outside the door, so please keep your fingers off the scales."

"Hrud, Aku mundhut panah supaya dienggo bareng. Jangan memberikan kerdil ini lebih banyak uang."

Hrud

"Mungkin mengko." Hrud shrugs to the dwarf. Taking the dagger , he turns and heads towards the door.

Donovan

When Hrud comes out, Donovan walks back in--just in time to get the gist of what Frantiska is laying out with her order, and to hear Jerome muttering something about 'ice queens' under his breath as he assesses the gems. Donovan walks over to look at the crossbows, then counts out fifteen platinum and passes them through the gate. "We'll take both heavies, and the hand crossbow, and add a quarrel of darts for the mini to the order as well."

Hrud

Hrud walks back to the wagon, where Rant is attending both the wagon and the young woman on it. Holding the blade, he extends the dagger towards her. She stares at him uncomprehendingly. Rant interprets his actions, "He wants you to take it." Hesitantly, she reaches out and grabs hold of the weapon - possibly for the first time in her life. "«It's expensive to rape an Eraka woman»," says Hrud, "«Few men are willing to part with their jewels.»"

GM

Jerome accepts the jewels and the coins, grumbling a little in the local Thari dialect, and does a quick tally. "Tse feyerychne kholodna yak lid Donovan, ale u neyi ye khorosha stiyka," he says looking very pointedly at Frantiska, or rather, at her torso, and smiling, "tak shcho ya shche daty vam znyzhku." He places the gems in the box, but leaves out the platinum, and begins counting out many more. As he counts he yells to his assistant, "Ce Pazuv, optovaruvaje za v. Dve tešk, od eda straa, lak, šeeset sop, šeeset let, četreset kavg, deset pkado, prooc," who immediately begins packing arrows into quivers.

Finally the dwarf pushes six neat stacks of ten platinum coins each through the window, "I love a woman who knows exactly what she wants..." he says, smiling and tapping his nose again. "There is your change, in full, and I hope that lovely hand of yours puts those arrows to good flight..."

He locks up the lockbox, the drawer, and the cage, then goes back into the labyrinthine piles of goods and returns with a set of archery targets which he hands to Lyra, "Enjoy your lessons, M'Lady. I hope we see you in here again sometime."

Lyra

"Thank you.  I'm sure your wares will be put to good use."  That didn't quite come out how Lyra had intended, especially given the quantity of coins and quantity of weapons changing hands.  She turns to take the archery targets out to the wagon, but pauses to address Frantiska in the 'mother tongue'.  «And thank you, Frantiska.  I'll need you to show me how to care for it properly, but I'm a quick study.  Let me know how much I owe you when we get back to the wagon.»

Frantiska

Frantiska picks up the case of silver arrows. «You don't owe me anything Lyra. Wealth only has value to the extent that it can be used to help others--though, given the nature of this city, it is in all of our best interests that everyone in our group be capable of holding their own in a fight. If you wish to repay me for the bow, just promise that you will be diligent in your practice.» She tucks the case under one arm, grabs Lyra's elbow with the other, and quickens her pace for the door. «Now let's get out of here...»

GM

As you finish loading your stockpile of weapons into the wagon, you notice that Amara and Brother Rant have both disappeared.