Tak – It was on the books.

So finding two gnomes in a city of refugees. Simple eh?

Slightly easier when you consider that gnomes aren’t a massive section of the population of Roccor. The town of Gnome-home isn’t far from Roccor, so most choose to stay there. If you’re an evil servant of Corsinnar gnome, it’s unlikely you’d have left the city though, so we’ll ask around, sure SOMEONE has seen them?

The line of questioning went something like;

“Excuse me?.. No, don’t run away!”

“Excuse me?… why are you screaming? We’re not scary!”

But finally, “Oh, hi, I don’t suppose you’ve see two gnomes. One with badger face tattoos, flaming red hair and a tendency to break things, and the other with a pointy hat, and the ability to look as generic as possible.”

The gnome we asked this of paused for a moment. “Well, don’t ring no bells, no. But you’d be best asking at ‘the Wandering Hand’ Tavern over there. Or maybe…”

He trailed off, then backtracked. “No, the Wandering Hand is where you want. Yes, it’s your best bet.”

One thing I’ve learnt, is that the unspoken idea is often the idea to pursue. I asked him to clarify his unspoken thought.

“Well, there’s a small building just before you reach the Wandering hand. It’s along the street, two doors down on the left. It’s a dangerous place though, filled with dangerous people. However, they tend to know what’s going on in the city. If you ask there, they may be able to help. Please don’t tell them I told you about it though!”

So, shadowy less-than-legal operation with its finger on the pulse! Just like all the tales! This is going to be awesome!

So we followed the gnome’s instructions, and tapped on the open door of the place. The interior resembled a small tavern, with tables set out for a number of occupants. An elderly Orcish lady swept at the floor half hearted, mumbling to herself about the wiles of a guardsman. She turned at the sound of us tapping at the door, and beckoned us inside.

Her name was “old Wurdi”. I’m not sure if old was actually part of her name, but she often referred to herself in the third person. It was a little odd.

She asked us what we wanted, and we explained we were looking for some old friends. Gave their description, and she was quiet for a moment. We may have neglected to describe them as ‘evil monstrosities’ but that snippet may not help us at the moment.

“Well,” she said, “Old Wurdi (there she goes in the third person again) has a terribly busy morning ahead of her! A whole list of tasks to carry out. I’m sure if someone was to take care of it, Old Wurdi could get to helping folk!” She was waving a to-do list with a number of scrubbed out items on. I took the list, and gave it a cursory glance. Only three items remained, and fortunately “Clean the midden” was already scrubbed out.

Item 1 – Return a library book to the Dragon School, and get the next book in the series.

The book in question was “The Orc maiden, the Guardsman and the Thief – Part 1, the strong arms of the Law”. Oh good grief, this was a romance novel, and judging by the curled corners, a popular one. The cover showed a rather muscular female orc cradling a guardsman in her arms.

Item 2 –  Collect the monthly rent from the knickknack shop on Crooked Alley (200 gold)

So now we have to shake down people for money? That’s not a good look for us.

Item 3 – Sort out what’s taking the blacksmith so long?

Apparently Wurdi had commissioned a weapon for a Guard friend of hers. We were to check in and work out why it was taking so long.

I guess when I heard we’d be mingling with criminal masterminds, I’d imagine we’d be leaping from roof to roof, pursuing unlicensed thieves. Not handling a little old ladies shopping.

Let’s look at this in order then.

Dragon School. – That’s Tia’s stomping grounds. She’ll have that one.

Convince a shop keeper to pay on time. – I guess that means a bit of persuasion, I’ll take that one.

Chat with a burly creator of weapons. – That has to be Drax!

 

Seeing as how a shake-down might require some muscle, we decided all to visit the knick knack shop first. Opening the door, we were greeted with a familiar sight. Not the shop itself, but the shop keeper. I wracked my memory for a moment and then it struck me. This was the same Tiefling lady who’d served us in a shop in treetop.

“Oh, Hi!” I started with, “It’s great to see you again! I’m Tak, and I’m terribly sorry but I forget your name!”

Her name was Linara Zap, and we chatted for a few minutes about treetop before she revealed that the trees had started to drop, and the village had to be evacuated. There was always call for shops of this nature, and despite losing most of her stock, she’d managed to set up again her.

In my mind, asking for money now was going to go one of two ways…

1 – I’m so poor, I have nothing – begging.

2 – I don’t owe money to anyone, get out of my shop. – fighting.

We couldn’t really counter the second, but I’d already thought of a way to make sure she had the money to pay up!

“So, why don’t you show us what goods you have?”

Cunning eh? Buy stuff, then take the money we gave her for rent.

We got a bit carried away buying stuff though, and ended up with a bundle of potions and items that we probably didn’t need, but to be honest, that’s not a major problem. We have the tower after all!

We discussed payment of the rent after this, and the plan went as intended. We left with the rent money.

Now, onto the Dragon school! How hard can it be to return a library book and get a new one?

Tia did all the talking on this one, at least initially. I fully expected it to go something like.

“I am Tia’Vari, give me what I want, don’t you know who I am?”

I was fully ready to back up this line of conversation, but what actually happened was this.

We stepped into the library, from outside it was a small non-descript building. Not much large than a shed. Inside though was another matter. Two bookcases lined the wall on each side, and they stretched off into the distance. Lights flickered oddly, and no matter how far I tried to look, my eyes seemed to bend away from the further shelves. Tia switched from “Lady Tia’vari” mode instantly, and flat out lied to the librarian. I was shocked to say the least! That’s my job!

“Oh hello,” she started with, “I’m Tia’Vari, and Alumni of the college. Whilst studying here, I requisitioned this book for my Aunt. She’s very ill, and has taken a while to read it, but it’s one of the few things that keeps her going! She’s desperate to know what happens next. Could I have the next in the series.”

The Librarian looked puzzled for a moment, then looked down at the cover of “The Strong Arms of the Law”. He turned his nose up and said “Oh, fiction.”

He turned to a card index, and over his shoulder said “Ok, name or student id?”

“Tia’vari”

He pulled a drawer out with a T on it, rifling through the cards. “Tandell, Taragore, Tenta, Tiack, ahhh, here, Tia’Vari. It says here you graduated several months ago? And your library card has expired!” He turned to face her, and ripped up the index card.

Well, that went well…

Tia’vari asked if we could reactivate the card, and the librarian frowned. He was looking inside the book.
“This has never been checked out? The ticket is still here!”

Tia’Vari switched back to Lady Tia’Vari mode almost as if a switch was flicked.

“Well, if someone forgot to do that when I checked it out, that’s hardly my fault! I’m bringing it back now, so why would you accuse me of stealing it?”

The librarian took pause at this, then reached back and grabbed a thick sheaf of papers.

“If you’ll fill these out in triplicate, we’ll reinstate your library card. It shouldn’t take more than two weeks!”

Ouch. I think now it was time to see whether we could grease the wheels of bureaucracy.

I joined in the conversation. “Excuse me, I’m terribly sorry to interrupt. I’m wondering if perhaps we can speed this process along. Tia’Vari’s Aunt is very ill, and may not have long left! I’m happy to make a donation to the ‘librarians social fund’ of 200 gold. All we need is the second book in the series!”

You could see the internal battle between morals and high quality food and drink fighting a battle behind his eyes. In the end his stomach won through, and he took the forms from Tia. He uttered a small incantation, and said aloud “The Orc maiden, the Guardsman and the Thief – Part 2, Taken without Permission” There was a whooshing sound, and something that looked a little like my invisible servant Phillip took off at a speed Phillip couldn’t replicate rushing down the Aisle. Moments later it came rushing back, with a book floating half a foot in front of it. The Librarian snatched it out of the air with a quick grab. The cover for this one showed a masked figure clad in black slung over the shoulder of the same female orc from the first book. Its pages looked just as curled and dog-eared.

He opened the front cover, removing the ticket and passed the book to Tia. She quickly pocketed it, and I passed a small pouch of gold to the Librarian. He quickly hid it, having the decency to look a little embarrassed, and we were off on our way again.

Two tasks down. This was easy stuff.

Time to visit the Blacksmith.

This’ll be easy. Show up, ask for the weapon, take it to Wurdi.

Only, things are never that easy. Drax walked in to talk to the Tiefling Blacksmith. His name was Traxion, and he looked relatively competent at his job. At the mention of Wurdi he let out a big sigh. “I already told her. She’ll need to provide the giant crab claws. I can’t get this done without them.”

I wonder if there’s some chance that us telling her that was enough to finish her tasks. Spoiler alert. Zero percent chance. We told her, she said “That’s why I sent you, you’ll need to get the crab pincers.”

I mean, where are we ever going to get…Hang on, let me just flick back to the start of my tale. Bear with me…

Roocor, Mission to recover the heroes, little old lady in the woods who wants her pigs back, down into the caves, Hmm, yes, Giant Crabs. There it is. That’s where we can find giant crabs! Back outside the city near the gnome home.

So, in much the same fashion as we originally did, we decided to head out to the caves. Only, rather than riding borrowed mounts, we took our flying tower. Because flying tower.

Landing near the caves, and old familiar woman came running up to us.
“You must help me, large spider-like beasties have surfaced, and made off with my pigs!”

I looked her up and down, yes, this was the same woman as before. There was no recognition in her eyes. Odd.

“Yes yes, we’ll get them back. I take it they went down this hole here?”

“They grabbed my poor piggies, and took them down the hole over there!”

This lady is Odd with a capital O, D and D.

“Right you are. Off we go.”

We headed over to the hole, I cast Featherfall (a spell I researched after we fell down a lot of these holes last time I may add) and we gently floated down. We took a left turn, a right turn, straight over at a junction, then we met the crabs. These ones were bigger, uglier and tougher than last time, but so were we. We decided to front load our damage, letting off our bigger spells. Let no one claim we’re Shellfish. (a little seafood humour there) I could give you the rundown on how the fight went, but it was pretty straight forward. Couple of pows, some pewpew, a little Thwack, and the Crabs became ex-crabs. We ferried their corpses back up to the tower, and Dirt set about gathering crab meat from them, and salvaging the claws.

Now, dear listener. I already can hear your questions. “Tak”, I hear you say, “Tak, why didn’t you rescue the lady’s pigs?”

Two reasons.

One. This lady has lost her pigs to the same monsters’ multiple times. There comes a point where she deserves what she gets. Honestly, look after Mr Piggy better!

Two. We just don’t have the time. The heir is missing, Corsinnar is taking over the land, Blight is spreading and towns are falling. A few piggies can find their own way home.

Three (I know I said Two) I’m really bored of all this weird stuff happening. Us dying, Thistle making weird stuff occur, and now the same lady trying to get us to do the same thing again! Without even remembering us from the first time. Sod her!

So, we packed the crabs into the castle, and flew back. Dirt cooked up the crab meat, and we passed it out to the hungry as we headed back to the armorer. We gave him the claws, and popped to see Wurdi.

Wurdi, however, wasn’t there. Instead we met with a rather handsome chap by the name of Merrymack. He took the book and payment from Miss Zap, and confirmed that Wurdi was out gathering information for us. They would get word to us as soon as they had information. We told him where we were staying, and decided we’d had enough of city life for the night.

Back at the tower Dirt was cleaning up the remains of the crab. Izkin sat munching on the remains of Dirts cooking. We were all exhausted, it had been a day. Hopefully tomorrow will bring us word of the two missing gnomes. After all, I’d hate to have to go door to door in the city.

Let’s keep that as a plan D eh?