In-Character - Down from the door where it began...

Today dawned cool and fresh, a perfect, early-spring day. A perfect Fool's Day, with the wind off the Smoking Bay carrying the promise of good fortune. This year's Fool's Day Feast has proven more spectacular than the last, perhaps in an attempt to help people forget their troubles. Not all is well in the Margravate of Blackmarsh...

The Margravate, while nominally autonomous, has sat under the stewardship of the elves of the Greywood for nearly a hundred years. What might seem brief to an elf seems an eternity to men, with four generations passing under elven guardianship. But things have changed. While the elves once had the strength to keep the peace in much of the region, such strength is no longer theirs to command. Rumours of wild things beyond the settled lands can no longer be ignored, and even the Margravate itself has seemed to suffer, with stories filtering in to Castle Blackmarsh of trouble in the borderlands. Still, it's easier to forget one's troubles with a mugful of ale and a raucous festival.

The annual Fool's Day Feast, thrown by the Margrave of Blackmarsh (puppet though he may be), brings folk from far beyond the city's walls for the festivities. As the afternoon wears on, the air is filled with the smell of roasting boar and stewed apples, while the skirl of bladder-pipes and drone of the symphonie accompany a growing crowd of revellers. Most wait for the crowning of the King and Queen of the Fools, but for all of you the Send-off looms far larger.

Some call it Farewell to Fools, but most show more respect to the young, itinerant adventurers who set out to find their fortunes on this day. After all, isn't that how the Margrave himself came to his position (even if he has gone to fat since being appointed by the elves)? Choosing this particular day also has the advantage of being fed and kept for free, no small benefit when the last of one's gold has been spent on adventuring gear. The lot of you sit and enjoy food and drink provided by Harlan Thanes, a caravaneer and merchant of some success in the region, who clearly looks favourably on up-and-coming adventurers such as yourselves. Harlan approaches, both hands occupied by holding wooden mugs brimming with the head of freshly poured ale. "Ho, then, my young wanderers! Now that I've given you time to think on it, have you decided where you'll head to find your fortune?" he smiles at the group, radiating a genuine warmth that's been lacking in the polite smiles of most of the common folk. Perhaps he doesn't think you quite as mad as most do...

"If you'll let me, I'll tell you some of what I've heard, as of late. Not local gossip, mind, but rumours of trouble afoot. Because, let us face the facts," his smile broadens, "where there's trouble, there's often treasure!" he follows this last remark with a wink.

"Now, let me see..." he says, closing an eye and placing a finger to the side of his nose, apparently concentrating on recalling obscure details, "Word from the east is that there've been goblin troubles on the border near the Bleak Tower, along the road to Jorvik..." at the mention of Blackmarsh's rival, Harlan turns and spits into the dirt, then carries on without missing a beat, "...and the Seneschal there has been offering a reward for goblin-scalps, even more if the dirty buggers can be rooted out from whatever hole they've infested."

Harlan drops his hands and hooks his thumbs into his belt before continuing, "To the west, the town of Saltmarsh sits on the Lanis River at the northern edge of the Black Marshes, and the last shipment I sent there returned with worries of Vasan raiders being spotted moving up the Lanis. None have made landfall, mind you, but a barque full of booty would be worth the effort... there's also some talk of strange goings on outside of town."

He pauses long enough to take a swig from his cup that sat upon a nearby bench, wiping foam from his lips with the back of his hand, "You know, the funny thing about that is that I've heard nothing from Orlean, and there've been no watch-fires..." Harlan stops, seeing the blank looks on you faces, "Orlean is just off the coast to the north, on Fire Pot lsle. It's an old place, settled back during the days of the Bright Empire, but it's little more than a fishing village now. It watches the approach to the mouth of the Lanis, and my ships sometimes stop there for supplies, but the last captain to do so complained that things felt.... off."

"Your pardon!" he says, stifling a belch, "Of course, there's always caravan work. And no, I don't only mean mine. You can ask around in the market and see what turns up..." he glances off towards the merry-making, "But perhaps it's best I leave you to your deliberations. You needn't decide until morning, anyway." With that, Harlan strides away towards the music, and you are left feeling that you can see the road branching ahead of you...

“on one hand, we have the pretty straightforward thing, going to kill some nasty goblins” i said showing my left hand. “That has the advantage of being a sure way to get loot and some bounty on top.”

“on the other hand we have the mistery of Orlean” i said showing my right hand. “what we can win going there is also a mistery, but it may attract less competition from other adventurers”

“then on the other…” i said loking at my tow hands already full whit posibilities “lets say foot?” “on the other foot whe have the raiders and more mistery… but i dont know what we could do about it”

Miska the Misanthropic

“I say we go after the goblins first,” says Miska, “and then see what happens next.”

“If there is still a Seneschal capable of offering a bounty for goblins, then the Bleak Tower will hold for now. Orlean is worrisome and doubtless needs our aid more,” says Aria.

She rises to her feet with a dancer’s grace and looks to the heavens, her head tilted slightly in the pose of the great captains of old. “Let us not flinch from the greater service to Law merely because we fear the unknown. The Gods protect their servants.”

Kerrick nods at Aria’s statement.

“While goblins are certainly foul creatures, and raiders are unpleasant, we can’t simply ignore the possible disappearance of an entire settlement. Whatever caused this is unlikely to stop at a single fishing village.”

“The gods protect the strong. It’s funny how that works out. I’d like to know more about this bounty. How much for cleaning out their burrow?”

Miska the Misanthropic

“Yet we are young, and relatively inexperienced, and have no idea what we may face in Orleans, if it has indeed vanished. My suggestion would be to go after the easier, known target – the goblins – to earn some gold and experience fighting together as a unit. With the bounties and any booty taken from the glabrous, greedy goblins, we should be able to equip ourselves as needed; perhaps even buy mounts, if possible.”

“its hard to argue about that”

“Well; there’s a long stretch between ‘haven’t heard from’ and ‘missing’, and there’s nothing much matching a sailor’s paranoia.”

“That being said, allaying a concern of our patron here as our first order of business would hopefully make a good impression. I’d be curious how long it’s been since Orleans has delivered news, or if these ‘watch-fires’ are notable only in their absence or if they’re only lit during trouble.”

Miska the Misanthropic

Miska also makes enquiries into the availability of a regional map: something that ideally shows the relationships and approximate distances to the locations mentioned.

Miska the Misanthropic

Miska frowns. “Very well!” he exclaims, “in the interest of party unity and pursuit of daring, decisive deeds I shall change my vote to exploring Orleans!” He wags a thick finger. “But if we are beset by blabbering bandersnatches, deceived by devious doppelgangers or gobbled by glabrous grues I shall say ‘I told you so’ quite loudly!”

Masov asks around amongst the assembled revellers, searching for anyone who can speak to the issue of Orlean. He finally finds a short, swarthy, bearded man, well into his cups, who claims to be a sailor on the Dawnchaser.

While the man is clearly drunk, Masov manages to get out of him that Orlean has always been a bit isolated, but ever reliable in warning of approaching Vasan raiders. Apparently, the watch-fires are only lit in times of real danger, and are spotted by a similar tower on the mainland, and relayed back to Castle Blackmarsh in a line of such buildings. No watch-fire being spotted doesn’t seem, in and of itself, to be unusual. Perhaps Harlan merely found it odd that a Vasan ship would make it as far up the Lanis River as Saltmarsh without word or watch-fire from Orlean?

As Masov heads off into the crowd, the rest of your group begins discussing the possibilities Harlan raised. An air of excitement pervades the discussion, the sense of looming danger becoming a bit more real. The argument goes back and forth for several minutes, although Andrew and the elf, Gwydion, remain strangely silent.  Opinions tilt between hunting goblins around the Bleak Tower and heading to Orlean when, abruptly, Masov returns, relating what little he has learned of the little fishing village. Hearing this, Miska changes his vote, and the majority opinion swings in favour of heading to Orlean. The only remaining question is how to get there...

After a bit more discussion, it seems that the party might be able to book passage on a ship, the Dawnchaser (for 5sp each) as she sails with the tides tomorrow, dropped off by the ship's launch on the main landing for Orlean in the late afternoon. The other option would be to travel overland through the Margravate to the northern coast, perhaps a days' march, then hire a local boat (perhaps more expensive) across to Fire Pot Island, landing on the shore opposite the village.


Andrew simply listens to the discussion, but does have a suggestion for there travel plans “I think it would be simplest to take a ship ride. Its sounds fairly cheap. I thought the caravan work sounded interesting, but it seems we’ve decided on more excitement.”

“sailing sounds simple and cheap.”

Miska the Misanthropic

Miska allows that five silvers seems a reasonable price to pay.

Hengist the Fair

[Loudly, with a raised glass.] Orlean it is, to the aid of the good fisherfolk! [More softly.] As long as there’s a plan to get paid somehow, I’m almost broke. [Looks around for Harlan, whispers.] If they’re all already dead we can loot the place, right?

Kerrick Helmsworth

Kerrick inquires about space and possible extra costs on the Dawnchaser for bringing his horse.

“The direct route does seem the most appropriate.”

Andrew, the Healer

Andrew responds tongue in cheek “Salvage in an attempt to return valuables to the family members, or the local government if they cannot be located I presume you mean. At least that’s what I’ll be doing if their dead with my share.”

General agreement is reached, and plans are quickly made to locate the Dawnchaser on the morrow, as well as conducting any remaining business before leaving with the tide. The remainder of the festival, while diverting, pales in comparison to the excitement surrounding what might lie ahead.

With heavy heads, but light hearts, the group rises with the first crowing of the cock in the morning. The day is cool, and a chill breeze blows in from the water throughout the walk down to the harbour on the west side of the peninsula. The stink of the sea lingers in the air, but the chill and the wind remove its edge.

The Dawnchaser is easily located, a two-masted dorkon, and its markings suggest it is owned by John Abrams, easily the most successful shipping magnate in the region. As the party approaches, a number of stevedores can be seen hauling and loading great sacks of what appear to be last season's potatoes, juding from the contents of one sack split open upon the pier. The men ignore you as they work, but a series of florid curses are seemingly hurled at you from the ship, "You ignorant, cushion-footed excuses for a barnacle! Get yer pockmarked posteriors behind the stern, unless you've a mind to examine the underside of the bilge!"

Looking up, you can see a man dressed in dark brown tunic and pants, with a black leather jerkin covering his narrow shoulders. The look on his face appears near-apoplectic as he scowls at you, leaning over the ship's rail. Presumably he is master of the ship, and he appears to be waiting for some kind of response, "Well? Stand aside, or swimming...which is it to be?"