A new party and a task at hand
This story is part of a larger series based on the published adventure The Dungeon of the Mad Mage. There are spoilers.
When the party emerges from the dark and dank underbelly, the yawning portal is alive with music and drunken singing. There is an overwhelming air of celebration that seems to teeter around the room, floating along with the clouds of cigar smoke. They inch through the crowd slowly as the clusters of drunkards make movement difficult. Eventually they find a table, at the center of the cackling crowded chaos. A bar maid makes her way to the tired group who order food and a round of drinks.
Food and drink arrives that the table. Roakala rests her head between her arms. Diljaris has settled in her area with books and journals neatly surrounding her. Drugnar and Gorak polish their weapons. “So what do we do now princess?” Gorak asks Diljaris who scribbles furiously in her journal. Food and drink comes. The barmaid places six large bowls of rice and curry at the center of the table. Next to the plates of food, she places two large pitcher of ale. Foam spills over the side, creating a small ring around the base of the pitcher. The barmaid leaves 5 full flagons of ale. Drugnar tips the waitress a silver. The barmaid surprised by the generosity winks and says “Let me know if y’all need anything else. Im closing out this place.” She places the coin gingerly in her pocket as she almost skips with joy away from the party.
Diljaris without looking up from her work “I am not a princess”. She continues to scribble until finally she looks up and replies “We need to find work”
“I thought you had work?” Gorak replies
“No, I was looking for a party to find work with. Now that I have a party, we need to find work. I think we should start with the barkeep, he might have some leads”
Drugnar stands up “Shall we?” he says as he motions towards the bar
“Of course” Diljaris responds.
“I’m good” Gorak responds as he takes a long swig from the flagon. Roakala is too busy eating to respond. The two move towards the crowd, pushing their way through the crowd.
The two make it to the bar. Gorak pushes a pair of patrons aside to make room for them. The barkeep moves around them, quickly haning out filled flagons until finally he stops in front of the two. “What are ya havin?”He puts an old dirty towel over his right shoulder. His beard is freshly trimmed. His apron is also clean and neat.
Drugnar clears his throat and starts “First I would like to commend you on running such a fine establishment. I have been to many taverns in my long Drwarven lifetime but this has to be one of the best. Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Drugnar Stormhammer and my scaly associate here is Diljaris Eshbis. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Now before we waste any more of your precious time, we would like to inquire on any business opportunities you might have or know about for a group of brave and capable adventurers”
The large burly man sighs “If you want work, go ask Obaya. He’s sitting over there. He’s always looking for adventurers. Now are you gunna buy something or not? I’m kind of busy”
“Yes can I get a flagon of your finest ale?” Drugnar asks smiling widely.
The barkeep pulls out a small barrel from under the bar. He fills a clear glass flagon to the rim with a golden clear ale. He places it on the bar as the foam settles. “Anything else?” the barkeep asks with clear dred in his voice.
“No you have been very helpful. We appreciate the information. Thank you” Drugnar replies as he slides a gold coin towards the bar keep. The barkeep is stunned by the sudden act of generosity. “Come back whenever you need anything you hear”
Obaya is a black human male whose permanent resident is at the nicest booth in the yawning portal. Today he is surrounded by a group of laughing nicely dressed individuals. Obaya himself is adorned with the finest silk robes that have been hand stitched to specifically fit his frame. His finely ordained hat hides his wavy locks that shine when they manage to escape and touch the light. His golden brown eyes search the bar as he weaves together the tales that seem to always have his company in an uproar.
As the two walk towards Obaya. Obaya takes notice but doesn’t break from conversation. When they get within earshot, Obaya grin with genuine warmth, greets the pair “You look like you have a question for old Obaya. What can I do for you my friends?”
Drugnar steps forward “Good evening Mr. Obaya, we only want a moment of your time. My name is Drugnar Stormhamer and my beautiful scaly friend here is Diljaris Eshbish. We are travelling with a group of very capable adventurers and we hear you have a bit of work for dungeon delving folk like us”
“Well my well spoken friend, I am a travelling merchant and I deal in the strange and the magical. If you can bring me any magic items or spell books, I’ll take it off your hands for a bit of coin”
“Hi” Diljaris finally speaks up “how much do you pay for each magic item?”
“10 platinum per magic item. More if depending on how rare it is. How’s that sound?”
The two are taken aback by Obaya’s words. They are clearly dazed by the reply. They remain silent as time continues. “Well?” Obaya asks again, still smiling patiently.
“Well Mr. Obaya, it looks like you have yourself a deal. We look forward to doing business with such a generous patron” Drugnar finally responds as he extends his hand out towards Obaya.
Obaya laughs loudly and his guests join in. “You flatter me Drugnar but no need to be so formal. I am just a regular guy. Please, just Obaya is fine.” He stands up and extends both hands out “I look forward to working with you too as well.” They shake hands. Obaya smiles warmly. “Oh but you have to promise me one thing.”
“And that is?” Diljaris asks
“Don’t go dying on my account please”
The two laugh “We can assure you, you there won’t be any dying from us, I’ve brought together a very capable group” Diljaris replies. The two turn and make their way back to the table. Guidy with excitement at the possible prospects they were just promised.
Back at the table, Roakala and Groroak eat and drink in silence. Roakala continues to scarf down a bowl of food. One lies empty in front of her. Gorak drinks in silence, lost in thought. When Diljaris and Drognar come back, they don’t notice, but instead seem lost in food and drink.
“Good news!” Diljaris addresses the table, breaking their concentration “our wise Drugnar was able to find us work”
“What’s the job?” Gorak asks, putting down his flagon of ale.
“There’s a man in here that buys magic items, 10 platinum a piece. This dungeon has to be loaded with magical items” Drugnar adds.
“Yeah but how often do you think we’ll be finding magic items?” Gorak asks, sounding a bit skeptical.
“Well we did find a magic sword on our first trip down” Diljaris reminds Gorak.
Yeah don’t forget about Janice” Roakala adds, breaking her silence. She places the magic sword in the table. It glows faintly even under the candle light. The two empty bowls resonate from the impact.
“Isn’t it cursed?” Gorak reminds the group.
Roakala shrugs her shoulders “It still counts as magic”
“Maybe we should sell the sword” Gorak says as his hand slowly moves towards the blade.
Roakala snatches the blade off the table, almost knocking over bowls of food and the half empty pitchers of ale. “Janice is not for sale, she’s going with us!” She says sternly, her posture tenses as she gets ready to pounce at whoever dares reach for her sword.
“No need for any of that” Diljaris chimes in “No one is selling your sword Roakala. Settle down.” She puts her hand gingerly on the Orc’s shoulder. Roakala glares at Diljaris. Her eyes still filled with some rage but her breathing seems to slow and her posture relaxes as she finally slinks back down into her seat. “Fine” is all she says as she grabs a third bowl and continues to eat, this time slowly as she continues to eye Gorak.
A woman’s voice interrupts Gorak as he seems to move to continue to tease the Orc. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt, but I hear you are looking for work?”
“Yes of course!” Diljaris says as she turns to face the owner of the voice. The woman is a finely dressed in new and clean robes. Around her neck is a golden necklace of a robin diving into a sea made from a blue sapphire. She is a tall and slender woman and her beauty makes it difficult to decern her age. She appears to be in her twenties. Her dirty golden curls seem to be meticulously placed down to her shoulders. She stares back at the party with eyes as blue as the emerald that hangs around her neck.
“My name is Esvele Rosznar of house Roszar and I am looking for my brother Kressado. He went missing a few weeks ago. I have asked countless adventurers for help but I haven’t heard word of his whereabouts”
“What does your brother look like?”
“He is a slender man. He is 22 years old and has dirty blond curls that go to his shoulders. He wears a platinum ring with our family crest” Esyele pulls her necklace towards the group. “It’s also engraved with our family motto. Fly high and swoop swift”
Diljaris scribbles furiously even leaving and quick but recognizable sketch of the Roszar family crest. “Is he an adventurer too?”
“Well?” Esyele begins. Her face turns red as she looks down at the ground “He isn’t an adventurer. He’s been in some trouble. He is a good guy, he is just a little misguided”
“What does that mean?” Gorak says as he places his flagon on the table.
“He got mixed in with the Xanathar Guild and that has gotten him in a bit of trouble. Last I heard he was going down into the dungeon for some job but he never told me details”
“What’s the Xanathar guild?” Gorak continues to interrogate the woman.
Esyele doesn’t raise her eyes. She remains silent for a second before slowly letting out “They are the crime syndicate that runs this town. Larceny, murder, prostitution, drugs, all things illegal run through them. My brother was a thief for them” she pauses for a moment as she studies the reactions of the party and ponders he explanation “My brother is a thief. Unfortunately he is a great thief and has now been unfortunately bound to the service of the Xanathar guild. I’ve tried my hardest to convince him to leave but he is also a stubborn man who likes to live dangerously. He is a good man non the less. He’s disappeared before, but it’s never been for this long. I just want to know if he is ok. Will you help me?” This time she looks up. Her voice cracks and she is clearly fighting back tears.
“How much?” Roakala asks as she leans forward, picking at her teeth.
“Well?” her voice still cracks and a small tear starts to roll down her cheek. “I will be ever so indebted to you and your group. My family is incredibly influential and having me as an ally will be incredibly beneficial”
Before the party has a chance to react, Diljaris moves towards the woman and places her hand on her shoulder. She looks down at the woman with a wide smile. Her tail wags her golden eyes seem to glow with a spark of excitement. “You can count on us. We’ll find your brother”