Eldoran and Bryant say they will try to fence the goods, since you are not feeling well; they promise to get a good price! You retire upstairs to your bed, and don’t come down until the next day.
The following morning you are greeted at the breakfast table by a bleary, but conscious Geffen. As you congratulate him on his quick recovery, you are joined by Kendra and Spugnoir! Kendra apologizes to you for not healing your injuries sooner, but she feels it was important to help Geffen and Spugnoir recover first. Now that the Druid is up and around, he can help her heal the other party members.
“Tomorrow,” Geffen says, “I’ll see what the Lords of Nature can do for you.”
Bryant and Eldoran also arrive at the table and tell you of their newfound friend Nira Melubb the money changer. Melubb gave them a fair price for both the gem and the chain, any your party is now 225 gold coins richer. Bryant is now wearing the chain mail armor taken from the Brigand captain, though he got Ostler’s pot boy to polish it. “The bastards at the Trading Post only offered me 60 cold coins for it! I wanted to swap it for a chain shirt but the price was 110…so now I’m going to clink as badly as a fighter! Once we’ve looted some more brigands, though, I’ll be able to make up the difference.”
Eldoran divides up the party’s money between the five of you. Each receives 47 gold coins, 16 silver coins, and 2 pieces of platinum. Spugnoir looks a little despondent, and Kendra gives him a handful of gold. “It’s not right that you receive nothing just because we didn’t come upon any scrolls; you risked your life, too!” Spugnoir turns his frown upside down, and you all settle back into planning your next outing.
Over the next two days, Kendra and Geffen heal the entire party back to full health. You finally feel like getting out into the sunshine a little more. You’ve each dropped a piece of platinum for a full week’s lodging and meals (and the guarantee of provisions when you set out again!). Though the regulars of the inn have gotten used to seeing your party lingering around, Ostler has arranged for your group to take your meals in private and you have been quieter regarding your adventuring exploits.
Your last evening before setting out again, Kendra comes to the supper table with a large roll of parchment. On it is a map!
“I made the acquaintance of Calmert, one of the local priests of St. Cuthbert. I wasn’t able to get an audience with the high priest, Terjon (he spends most of his time in meditation when not proselytizing to the good people of Hommlet. Anyway, Calmert was willing to part with this map and a bit of local lore, once I told him of the nest of brigands we wiped out.
“We are here in Hommlet in the region known as the Grey Hills,” she indicates pointing to the map. “The moat house (which we have yet to finish exploring) is a few miles outside of town on the Western Road. It is about halfway between Hommlet and the nearest town, Nulb. Some years back, there was a large Temple devoted to evil gods located in Nulb, and it had a corrupting influence on the population. Even though it was destroyed, the people of Hommlet think that people in Nulb are a shady bunch, although not outright evil.
“The temple was destroyed by a force of valiant heroes…Knight Protectors of Gilea, Hin Warriors, and priests of Apollo. The moat house that we have been exploring used to be a minor outpost of the temple, but it was sacked around the same time as the destruction of the temple.
“Past Nulb to the west is southwestern tips of the Cold Mountains of the north. The road continues on to the kingdom and city-state of Tryss and the Western Sea. The road south of Hommlet will eventually take us to the Plains of Gilea and into the central interior of the continent. The road running north of Hommlet is Shire Road, and it runs all the way to the Shirelands of the Hin, Moot of the Halflings. The Shirelands are bordered by the Grey Hills to the south and the Cold Mountains to the North and they are fiercely protective of their territory, but Hin merchants will travel as far south as Uxor, south of Gilea, so they keep up peaceable relations with humans.
“There are many warrior monasteries on the Shireland roads, and they are quick to put down incursions of evil…that is why the Knights of Gilea petitioned the Hinling for helping in putting down the Temple of Elemental Evil (as it was known). The Grey Hills owe some allegiance to the Gilean Empire and Gilea provides them with nominal protection; however, much of the hill country is wild and the Halflings were only too glad to offer their strength in purging what could have been a terrible threat on their southern border!
“Anyway, since that time, brigands and the occasional beast or cannibalistic humanoid tribe have been the only real threats to the people in the area. Hommlet and Nulb are two of the largest settlements in the western part of the Grey Hills. Boy…I think it’s time we got some sleep…we can discuss more local history later, if you want!”
Your party sets out again, though later than your first excursion (it is nearly noon). Still you make good time since you are now all individually mounted; you and Geffen have both acquired steeds from fellow-travelers at the inn.
You and Blackie ride side-by-side with Eldoran, who tells you of the dwarfhold from whence she comes, now destroyed. She tells you that some day she would like to return and clear the underground ruins of goblinoids; perhaps marry and settle a clan of her own. She suggests that your skills as a thief could be helpful in such an adventure….
By late afternoon, you have arrived at the moat house and are once again crossing the rickety draw bridge, your horses remaining safely behind in the marshy field. No giant toads trouble your party this time.
Once again in the courtyard, you must choose whether to explore the main keep (through the northwest doors) or the ruined tower to the southeast. You recall that the main audience chamber of the keep had three exits: two corridors running south and east and the locked doors that led to the darkened “brigands’ chamber,” piled high with ruined furniture. This also a pile of rubble in the northeastern corner of the courtyard, though Bryant tells you it is probably not worth risking a scorpion bite to poke around in it.
Ignoring Bryant’s warning you poke around the rubble. You find nothing, however, not even a scorpion.
The upper portion of the tower has collapsed and the interior is very dark. The door, half open provides no obstacle and you light a torch before stepping through the doorway. The dripping fire gleams on shiny coins in the rubble, though you also can pick out a few odd bones. Thrusting your torch aloft to see what is above you, you are surprised by something large hairy, yet silent, that springs down from above! You drop your torch and try grappling with the beast but you feel a sharp sting as it sinks its fangs into you!
Kendra gives out a cry as she smites at the beast, but only bounces her blade off its chitinous armor. The weight of the creature bears you to the ground, and you pull your dagger, stabbing at the creature ineffectually. You feel your self grow weaker as poison courses through your veins. It continues biting you! Eldoran strikes a blow with her sledge and knocks it from your back. You fumble for your crossbow as Bryant sends an arrow over your head. In the dim light of the fallen torch, you see the creature revealed as monstrous spider, nearly man-sized! It scurries back towards you, bent on destruction, but Eldoran and Kendra step forward, weapons swinging, and blocks its path.
The poison continues to do its evil work as your weapon drops from your numb fingers. The dwarf and paladin are now hurrying towards you as you tremble on the floor. It is so cold! They quickly pull you outside into the courtyard and the last light of the day. People shout and Geffen is building a fire. You feel the paladin lays her hands on you, and gentle warmth fills your wounds, though it does not banish the chill from your bones. Someone covers you with a blanket as you rock back and forth. Geffen approaches you, hand outstretched, and lays a glowing palm on your arm where the spider had ripped it open from the shoulder to the elbow. The wound heals almost completely, but your vision is still blurry and all the strength seems to have left your body!
By your feeble requests, the party removes itself back through the gates and out of sight of the moat house. They move off the road and make camp before getting back to Hommlet, as it is too dark to travel. The night passes uneventfully.
The next morning, you are feeling a little stronger, and can lift yourself into an upright position against a tree, though your vision is still blurry, sluggish, and numb in the extremities. Bryant and Geffen, both at home in the outdoors, argue against camping for too long, as the danger of being attacked is too great. The party understands you are not willing to continue while recovering from the spider venom, but they offer to take you back to the inn, where they will put you up in a room while you recover.
To cheer you up they show what they found in the lair of the spider: a few dozen copper and silver pieces and a box carved from ivory that could fetch a good price from the right buyer.
Your party is really anxious to explore; specifically, they want to go back to the lair of the brigands and see if there was any additional treasure they missed, since your group left in such a hurry the first time. They don’t really want to wait a week and a half, since they are not injured. They know you want to regain your strength, but they hope you understand that staying in town that long will just drain their money supply when they could be going over the villains’ hideout.
Back in Town
Your companions accompany you back to the Inn of the Welcome Wench and you give Ostler the innkeeper 2 pieces of platinum, enough to put you up until your body recovers. Ostler greets you with a smile and says he’ll have your meals brought to your bedroom – you are quickly becoming his best customer in years!
Your friends stay the night and then leave the next morning, leaving you with plenty of silver for any extra wine you may wish to buy. They promise to give you a complete report when they return!
A couple days pass and you have enough strength to walk around, but don’t feel like lifting anything heavy. Asking Ostler about a map, he suggests you try the trading post though you may find one talking to a passing traveler. In answer to your questions regarding a harlot, the man blushes and apologizes but he does not offer that kind of entertainment in his establishment! He says your more likely to find that sort of think in Nulb, the women of Hommlet are goodwives and maidens and “not of that sort.”
On the fourth day since your return to Hommlet, you are feeling much better, but are quite lonely with the absence of your friends. Going down to the common room and ordering a bottle of mead, you wonder if you made the right decision to let them go alone…hell, you may missing out on the profits of the enterprise!
Looking around the common room you see several other travelers and two who are familiar faces: men who have been staying at the inn since you arrive. Seeing your gaze, they get up from their table and approach you. One is a large man who has the swagger (and weapons) of a professional fighter. The other man is barely taller then you and dressed in robes of soft grey. He looks almost like one of the Hin monks, but he is obviously a human, not a Halfling, and his hair is cut almost to the scalp, not left long like the Hinlings.
“Good afternoon,” says the man in robes, “I am Turuko, and this is my companion Kobort. We knew there was another wanderer staying at the inn, and we’ve been waiting for the chance to talk to you! You and your friends have been keeping yourselves pretty close, but we couldn’t help but notice that you’ve obviously found some type of excitement in or around Hommlet. Would you mind passing the time with us and regaling us with stories of your adventures.”
“We’ll pay for the wine, of course,” says the giant Kobort, smiling.
You invite them to pull up chairs and you begin spinning tales…perhaps with a bit of fabrication here and there, but they are newcomers and you are not entirely trusting of them. Still, as the wine flows your tongue wags a bit looser, and as they tell you of their travels, you find yourself boasting a bit here and there in a good natured attempt at out-doing them!
As the evening winds down, you beg your leave to return to your room, but they offer to accompany you on any future adventures, “always hoping your own companions return, of course!” You tell them you’ll think it over and head to bed.
By the sixth day since your return to Hommlet (the seventh day since your injury) you are beginning to worry about your companions and their return. None of your previous excursions lasted more then two or three days and your friends have been gone almost a whole week! You think about possibly riding after them.
By noon-time of the next day, you are packed and ready to go. Ostler has given you enough dry rations to last a week, and you are resolved to pick up a map from the trading post on your way out of town. However, before you have finished your last meal in the inn there is a commotion in the stableyard, and you leap to your feet, seeing your friends have returned!
Each is in some state of disrepair, but the worst appears to be Kendra, whose scale armor has been twisted and melted, blackened at the edges exposing flesh that looks like it has been held to the torch! Eldoran is beaten and bruised, but appears otherwise fine, and is helping Geffen, who is lashed to his horse by rope to keep him upright. Even Bryant and Spugnoir are covered in bloodied bandages and seem to have suffered numerous small wounds, though they otherwise seem fine.
Bryant slings the saddlebags from his horse over one shoulder, and though obviously worried about the fate of his injured companions, still manages to throw you a grin. The bags clink and jingle in a most enjoyable fashion!