Episode 2: Reunions
Episode 3: Nigh Watch
Episode 4: Big Dogs
Episode 5: Judgment
Episode 6: On Display
Episode 7: The Uninvited
Episode 8: Departures
And now for this week's episode: Departures
Jack awoke with a sputter as warm liquid hit his lips. The halfling lay behind the bar of the Full Tankard Inn. Serina lay face-down on top of the bar. Her face was a bloody mess. She held a vial over Jack's face pouring the contents into his mouth.
“Jack,” she gasped, “open the bone lock and let Rusty out.”
Jack sat up, still stunned, as Serina grabbed another healing potion from behind the bar and gulped it down. Her wounded face regained its former beauty.
“Hurry, he's got me pinned with a bar rail.”
Jack looked about. On the floor was a trap door held fast with a bone lock. The door had bone hinges. “What the hell?”
“Hurry! He just chained the Black Arrow.”
Dûr gloated from the other side of the bar. “There, Arrow. You and her uncle can watch while I take this fair gnomish flower. Let her screams tear at your soul before I finally cede to her pleas for death. Then I'll kill the lot of you and be on my way. Not a bad days work, really.”
Jack picked the lock and flung open the trap door. A tentacle-like antenna with a feathered end extended from the opening and touched Jack's pick. It turned to rusty dust in an instant. The creature below, Rusty, let out a small bark and jumped through the opening devouring the dusty remains.
The tear-drop shaped animal had smooth skin and large yellow eyes. Two long antenna extended just above the eyes at the pointy end of its body. Rusty walked on four short legs. Its manner was that of a small, energetic dog.
Serina screamed. “Get your hands off me!”
“It's not my hands you have to worry about, lassie,” said Dûr.
Serina continued to struggle. Dûr laughed. “I like it when they fight back.”
Jack grabbed drew his dagger and prepared to jump over the bar. Rusty's antenna brushed the dagger and it corroded instantly. Jack looked around for a weapon then his eyes fixed on the creature. The beast seemed tame enough so Jack threw it over the bar. He heard a gratifying yell from Dûr. “Gods damn you. Havoq himself gave me that armor. I'll smash you like a cockroach.”
Jack scampered to the end of the bar and around. Dûr stood there in his under clothes with his hammer raised high preparing to smash the rusting beast. Rust flakes formed a circle around the dwarf. Rusty interrupted its meal to snaked one antenna up to touch Dûr's hammer corroding it into oblivion.
Dûr let out a scream of rage. “I pried that from my dead father's hand. He put up quite a fight for it, too.” Dûr grabbed a large table and prepared to swat Rusty. “Let's see how you handle this!”
Jack spied a thin, ornate belt around Dûr's waist. He rushed forward staying in Dûr's blind spot. In one motion he had the belt undone. Dûr stood there for an instant with the table above his head. Jack rolled out of the way just as the table hit the floor pinning Dûr under it.
Jack buckled the belt around his waist. It shrunk a bit to suit his size. He didn't feel any different and wondered how to activate the belt.
Dûr raised the table a bit to crawl out from under it. Jack jumped onto the table with all his weight. His feet broke through the the thick wood. A feral grin spread across his face as Jack pulled his feet free and lifted the table with one hand.
Dûr made a grab for the belt. Jack punched him swatted him with the table. The blow sent Dûr flipping end over end through the Inn's door and into the street. Fenris waited outside. The wolf growled as Dûr landed mere feet from the huge wolf open jaws.
“Not you!” screamed Dûr and took off running down the street wearing nothing but his under garments. Fenris let out a long howl and ran after the dwarf.
Jack released Serina. The bar rail bent like molding clay in his hands. Ballar had many broken bones. Dûr had chained the black garbed archer to a tavern post. Jack snapped the chains between his thumb and fore finger.
The archer cast a healing spell on himself. His body was still damaged but the worst of it magically vanished. Ballar simply nodded to Jack and ran off in pursuit of Dûr.
Conrlius sat bound by a brass rail to a chair. “Well, are you going to stand there or free me?”
“Stand here, I think,” said Jack. “Unless you want to make it worth my while to free you.”
“I don't need you, halfling. Serina, bring Rusty over here. She'll turn this brass to ash.”
“I'm afraid she's full, Uncle. That armor of Dûr's was very filling.”
Cornelius shot Serina a look. The gnomess stroked the rusting beast who lay on its back to have its tummy scratched.
“What are your terms, Mr. Largefoot.”
“First, my name is Large not Largefoot. I left Jack Largefoot behind in Straulia. Second, I want out of your contract. I serve no one. Third, you get me out of night patrol in old town. Fourth, I want to be on the first ship out of here tomorrow.”
“What? You'd rather stay stuck there?”
“Someone will be along to free me. Either that or Rusty will get hungry again. Either way, Mr. Large, you are gold. With that belt there is no end to the treasure we'll bring out of the ruins. So you see, Mr. Large, you are mine.”
“I don't think he is,” said Ballar walking into the Inn with his great wolf by his side. Ballar wore his green hunting gear again and the black mask was nowhere to be seen. Terad and Jordon entered as well along with several guardsmen and a priest of Law. “What was it that Dûr sought here, Cornelius. The Black Arrow told me he got what he came for. What was it?”
“Nothing,” said Cornelius. “He wanted to kidnap and ransom me back to the colony.”
“Liar,” said Jack. “Dûr said Cornelius gave him what he wanted to save his niece.”
“They won't believe you, halfling. You're a convicted criminal,” spat the old gnome.
“They don't have to believe him, Cornelius. The Mists of Truth will tell the tale,” said Ballar.
Cornelius looked as though he'd swallowed a rat.
“And look what we found in the fight at the wall,” said Terad.
Jordon held up a gagged, squirming goblin dressed in shaman's robes. “It's your goblin accomplice, Nexrarl. Let's see what the Mists of Truth show with him in it. I wonder just how much treasure you hid in the ruins so you don't have to pay taxes on them?”
Cornelius looked as though he'd swallowed an even larger rat.
The priest of Law stepped forward. “Cornelius Diamondeye, you are charged with collaboration, treason, and tax evasion. You'll be taken to the Mists of Truth for immediate judgment.”
Serina approached her Uncle with tears in her eye. “Uncle?”
“Everything will be fine, my dear. This is a simple misunderstanding.”
The guards couldn't figure out how to extract Cornelius from the brass rail so eventually they just picked up the gnome with the rail attached and marched out the door with Cornelius swearing revenge on everyone in the room. The priest left as well with the goblin in tow.
“What will happen to my Uncle?” Serina asked.
“Hard to say,” said Ballar. “He's a talented illusionist. He should survive Old Town well. Now quickly, tell me what Dûr was after.”
Serina looked down. “My Uncle...”
“Is off to jail,” said Terad.
Serina looked up at Ballar. “He's not a bad gnome. He's just a shrewd businessman. He takes care of his family but sometimes others suffer.”
Ballar lowered his bruised body to the floor. Even seated he was taller than the gnomess. “Serina, I need to know what Dûr wanted.”
“It was a fist-sized stone encased in amber,” she held up her small fist to show the size. “It was just a stone!”
“Did it have a marking on it?” ask Ballar.
“Yes, that of a two lightening bolts side by side. It didn't seem like anything special.”
Ballar hung his head and sighed. He reached into his pouch and handed a small five pointed star to Serina. “I suspect you will soon be in charge of this Tavern. Place this sigil in your window should you ever need help. Gentlemen, please come with me.”
“What does the stone mean?” asked Serina.
Ballar looked back from the doorway, “It means Havoq's Golden Republic just became a much larger problem."
The humans left the tavern. Jack stayed behind. “Come with me,” said Jack. “I'm leaving this place. I could use a magician as a companion.”
“No,” said Serina. “It's a tempting offer but I have to stay to help my Uncle.”
Jack began to protest but Ballar yelled from outside. “Jack, if you want to be free of your contract and night watch come with me now.”
“Go,” said Serina. “Come back when you can.” She kissed Jack on the cheek and turned away to put Rusty back behind the bar.
“Jack!” yelled Ballar.
“Sod off,” formed on Jack's lips but he bit them back. He left the tavern.
“Here,” said Ballar removing a necklace from his neck and placing it on Jack. “Never take it off. If you do, Dûr will find you in short order.”
“I'm not scared of him or anyone else for that matter.”
“Jack, even with your new toy you are no match for Dûr's associates. They will hunt you down. If you're lucky they'll only kill you.”
“Fah, bring them on.”
Ballar shook his head. “I'm going to say this once so listen as if your life depended on it, because it does. My homeland was brought into Havoq's Golden Republic with the promise of power and wealth. What we received was broken promises and brutal domination. The lords of the land were forced to send their first born sons to Havoq Keep to serve in Havoq's court. I was one of those sons and one of the few that survived. Havoq's the reason for the Black Arrow as well.”
“You know the Black Arrow?” said Terad. “Can you introduce me to him?”
Ballar shook his head and continued. “I have to stay hidden because if I don't everything I know and love will be destroyed or used against me. It's why I wore that necklace since leaving Havoq's court. Now you are like me and must stay hidden. Dûr will stop at nothing to have that belt back. Do you understand? To him it is a holy relic.”
“And what will you do without this?” asked Jack holding up the necklace.
“I now have other ways to escape scrying magic,” said Ballar.
“Dûr must still in the city,” said Jordon. “Your dog tracked him once. Have him do it again.”
“Dûr is no longer in the city. His trail simply vanished,” said Ballar. “I'll use all the cunning of Uller himself to track him but I fear the trail leads back to Havoq Keep.”
As they approached the Mists of Truth, Ballar waved to a large man in green armor with a tree on his shield. Ballar greeted him as an old comrade in arms. “This is Lord Bentley Lymangus Dubilduc. He rules the lands to the south of Angel Bay and is here to assist you at Cornelius's trial. The old gnome will pull no tricks with Bently present.”
Terad, Jordon, and Jack all spoke at once asking questions of the Huntsman.
“Dûr escaped and I'm still not sure how,” said Ballar “I'm off to track him down and have no time to wait for Cornelius's trail. Good luck and safe travels.”
And with that he was gone.
“Come Gentlemen,” said Lord Bently. “Cornelius awaits inside.”
“Wait,” said Terad. “You're THE Lord Bentley Lymangus Dubilduc, Defender of the Realm, Duke of Fifgate, Commander of the East Gate Company. Jordon, he's one of the founding members of the Rangers of Tehas.”
“At your service,” said Lord Bently with a broad grin.
“I can't believe it,” said Terad. “I thought you were dead.”
Lord Bently's brows furrowed. His chin shot out as he clamped his jaw tightly. “If you youngster's will follow me,” said Bently through clinched jaws. “Keep your answers short and let me do the talking. With any luck you'll be free before supper.”
Jack followed entering the building for the second time that day. He hoped this visit turned out better than the last.
A being made of holy light circle Jack twice placing a mark on his forehead. It was a mark only her kindred could see. She began her flight eastward but was suddenly pulled back to Ballar. The priest of the Hunt sat cross legged chanting a messenger spell. She took the message but hovered over Ballar long enough to place a few suggestions in his mind. His dog looked up at her and barked. She shushed the large animal the flew East toward Tehas with Ballar's message.
The last of the playing pieces was now on the board. She hurried off to make sure it arrived in time.