Previously: a group of adventurers came together in an Inn by coincidence. Ownka, a half-orc woman was intending to take the job of escorting a delivery for the local brewery. Dagnal, the dwarven woman, was eager to speak with the leader of a certain gang in the town. Riven, supposedly a local resident, promised to show them around to help them with their business. They, as well as the wizard Andell of the West and an elven artist named Theiastra, soon witnessed an attempted and sloppy murder on the Inn's owner Akmenos. It became clear that these were somehow tied together. The owner of the Inn posted the job for an escort, but never recieved any help so he came into some trouble on the road. members of said gang helped him, but demanded an outrageous price. He couldn't pay and so they send their newest member, a young and foolish Tiefling in need of shelter, food and money, to kill Akmenos. The Tiefling then convinced the travellers that he didn't mean any harm and would like to be set free from his service to that gang.
They decided to work together and talk to the gang leader about leaving Akmenos and Kairon, the Tiefling, alone. At night, Dagnal, Theiastra and Kairon managed to be led to him, turning out to be an orc named Boos. At the same time, Riven snuck into the fortress, followed by Andell and Ownka. They found a cellar with money and other interesting items. Riven accidentally killed a man, while Andell set another one on fire and also defeated a living treasure chest. They joined their comrades who were unable to convince the orc and now fighting him and some thugs. Kairon killed the orc boss and they found ominous pink dust and a prisoner. A young woman familiar to Dagnal - someone of her home town. They decided to get out of the fortress quickly - not without taking the belongings of the gang - and head back to the Inn before they got into trouble.
Power of the Night
A weary from battle, but happy to see an old friend, Dagnal comes around the corner, despite her short legs leading the group to a well deserved rest whilst talking with a human girl, about 17 or so, with matted brown hair.
“You are so dirty, Beth, look at you”, the red-haired exclaims worried, “just what have you been through? You should take a bath first.”
“Oh Frau Bergfolk, I am so happy to see you again”, the girl cries out. Upon that, the Dwarf reaches to her hand, clutching it gently to say: “I am here now. We’ll get you home.”
Behind them are walking a self-assured half-orc woman, casually carrying her greataxe on her shoulder and holding a few items as trophies wrapped in some freshly cut cloth in her other hand. Next to her, a cloaked individual and an elven woman staring into the moon.
“What is it?”
“I have always just… sang and told stories of adventures, you know”, she sighs, “this was the first time I have been in one!”
“I did think so”, the black haired woman agrees.
“You look like you have been through some adventures yourself, Ownka.”
“Just a bit, on the way here. Slaughtered wolves. But I didn’t want it… was… on accident” Ownka shares nervously.
The bard makes huge eyes at that, gasping. Then turns to the wizard: “What about you, Andell from the West? Your name utters Adventure and Mysteries!”
Andell looks at his feet. “No, not quite an adventure like this…”, he says very quietly.
A gloved hand punches him in the back. “Hey, you better not keep any loot from me! We said we would share!”
The cloaked man grabs into the cloth, revealing a huge leather bag, patting on it. “It is all in here.”
The other human man gives a suspicious look. “I’m gonna check that later.”
At the very last position, a red tiefling follows them slowly, looking very out of place. He is clutching a vial, pieces of paper and himself in his hands.
They arrive at the closed Tavern shortly, where they give a sign and are led into the empty room by the Inkeep, Akmenos.
“I have made sure the guests went home early today. I believed you might need some time to rest tonight.”
“Rest, and alcohol”, Riven sighs, patting his friend on the shoulder, giving his best smile.
“No, Riven, I won’t give you one for free this time. You are being paid by me, now you can afford your own drinks.”
“Yes! Let’s sit down and count our moneyyy”
“First”, Dagnal interrupts, “my friend would like a bath and a meal.”
Akmenos locks the front door and looks at the new girl, coyly hiding behind the woman who is just half her size.
“Friend? Of course, we have a small bathing room in the back. Would you like to pay with your favour, or your wage?”
“My own money should cover this.”
“Oh, it’s fine, I don’t” the girl tries to say, but Dagnal shushes her off.
“Yes, that would be one silver please.”
Dagnal hands it over.
“Wait, I’ll fetch the key and some towels”, then, upon closer look he adds: “and other toiletries you might need.” Akmenos goes off, returns with a basket full of stuff and leads her through the stairs into a hidden part of the building.
“Okay, let’s sit down and see what we got”, Riven suggests while going behind the bar, fetching a mug.
Dagnal has a keen eye on him. “What do you intend to do there?!”
Riven shrugs, pulls the lever of the beer and frowns “Whoops, now I am accidentally pouring some beer, what should I do? I can't let it all go to waste! Oh! I know! I’ll just catch it with this mug!”
“You can’t just do that”, Dagnal protests, “He will hear of this!”
“Well then, let him hear of this. I will be rich in a moment anyway.”
Theiastra laughs. “Rich?”
They are all sitting down around a table, Kairon still standing weirdly by the door.
Akmenos returns, notices the beer in Rivens hand and demands: “You’ll pay for this, you cunning bastard!”
Riven rolls his eyes. “I love you, too”
Then he goes behind the bar, opens a secret door and takes out a chest full of money. He joins the party at the table and waves the other tiefling to come over as well.
“Come on boy, get your money.”
He hesitantly sits down, head kept down.
“thirty three gold pieces for everyone! And a favour, as we said.”
Dagnal counts the money before putting it away. “Do we get that on paper?”
Akmenos grins. “Oh, you get something better!” he reaches to his little purse on the belt and draws six tiny vials from it, one white flake in each of them. He holds them up like a divine item. “This, this is the one and only, beautiful”-
“I only got 32!” Riven exclaims after counting as well.
Akmenos gives him a dark look for interrupting him. “That is for all the beer you ever stole from me. Did you think I wouldn’t notice?”
A very faint chuckle arises around the table, like school kids after someone was caught cheating.
“Back to this! These flowers are very special. It takes a great deal for them to bloom, and they only do so for one night. Epiphyllum Oxypetalum, the Queen of the Night. I have but two of these flowers conserved through very strong alcohol. To each of you one petal. Don’t lose it. Whenever you need anything that is in my power, you can give me your petal and I will grant it to you. This is far more than a name on a paper for a druid.”
He hands them out very carefully.
Theiastra is admiring it. “It is beautiful! I would love to see the full flower”
“And I see you have found some wondrous items on your adventure!”
“yeah, let’s look at them! I found a bunch of gold pieces, silver pieces… two daggers which I will keep, two small packages with this weird pink dust… a set of real nice looking clothes, soap and a random crystal knob of a door, which I would sell, probably. Oh also the Orc boss had so much stuff on him, too! Ownka carried that for me in a bit of cloth.”
Ownka puts it on the table.
“was that cut from his cloak?”, Dagnal asks.
“Well… A cloak… Let’s see… woow so much gold! A potion, and again a packet with that dust. Do you guys think it’s some sort of drug?”
“You should know” Dagnal sasses.
“I have never seen it.”
“Let’s divide the stuff from the Orc between us all, since we all fought him. The other stuff you found on your own. But let’s keep the dust for now… I want to see what it is”, Andell suggests.
“I am very fine with that.”
“But the gold from the big chest in the room? We should all get something from that”, Theiastra protests.
Riven growls.”I only found 100 Gold in there”, he lies.
Noone notices his lie. “Okay.”
“So that would make 100 plus 500, so 600 devided by 6 is 100 Gold pieces for each of us”, he grins and counts the money. And Andell, you get all the pink dust you want.”
“And I found 3 Daggers, one shortsword and 3 leather armors which look all pretty simple and worn out to me… also I killed this living chest thing and found 900 Gold pieces, 2 (greater Healing) Potions, 1 Armor set, an(cient) arrow (of elven design), 11 teeth of unknown beast, 2 enormous scales, perhaps from a dragon or so.”
“Sounds like you came across a mimic”, Akmenos smiles, “Well done! And you aquired some healing potions as well.”
“That arrow looks so pretty! Looks like it was made by elves. It looks very ancient though. it looks so pretty and cool, I wish I could learn how to shoot arrows like these.”
“You know what, you fought that Chest. You can keep the stuff, let’s divide the money between us three”, Riven points to him and Ownka.
Theia seems hurt. “Why only you?”
“Cause we were the only ones in that vault. We found it.”
Andell shrugs. “That was what we agreed on in there, sorry. But you can have everything else, i can only make use of the teeth and scales.” then he touches his arm, making a grimace of pain. “Maybe leave me the potion too. I am not that tough…”
They agree on the terms and each takes what they want of the items.
Ownka takes out a small thing from her belt pouch. Theia glances over couriously. It reveals itself to be a tiny, fluffy ball.
"Hamster" Ownka says, opening her palm.
"No way! You carried that around all day?!" riven can't believe it.
"yeah why not?" Ownka proceeds to give the golden hamster some dry fruits and nuts. "you do that with pets, no?"
"well…" Riven cringes
Theia is super happy and starts to pet it "it is sooo cute oh my muse!"
"what is his name? Or hers?" dagnal engages in the conversation easily.
Everyone takes a breath in, as if understanding, at the same time. "ahh"
Riven can't help but burst into laughter "hahahahahaa i just can't" wiping away a tear from his eye, barely catching his breath, "you are funny haha.. Haaahh"
Ownka doesn't understand "but… its a hamster"
At this point, a clean human girl reenters the bar room coyly.
Dagnal immediately jumps from the chair. “Oh Beth, honey. Should we perhaps rest first, and speak in the morning? I have a room here, you can stay with me.”
They all agree to rest for the night, because it is already well past 1 in the morning. Ownka and Andell return to their rooms upstairs as well, Kai and Riven take the luxury and acquire one of their own, while Theiastra bids farewell and returns to her housing for respectable women, promising to return the next day for an epic performance.
In the night Dagnal has a vision, while Kai and Riven have nightmares, forcing Kai to wake up a couple of times through the night. Ownka has a sad dream of faint memories and Theia awakes with the rising of the sun, being more inspired as she ever has. For Andell, who read in a book he purchased for the last of his coin before the adventure and came across and interesting new spell, the night passes without any occurence.
In her vision, Dagnal senses a higher power. The one that also called out to her a few months ago. It is a warm, comforting presence but it is also stern and powerful. It is still very faint, she doesn't see who is reaching out to her. But she hears an echoing voice. "Do you take my hand?"
For a moment, Dagnal hesitates.
"Do you wanna walk a path of righteousness, of glory, of justice in the Name of Ilmater? Do you pledge loyalty? Or do you want to set out to avenge your lost ones, kill the evil and bring an age of destruction?"
Dagnal reaches forward with her hand, into the light. She feels its power giving her strength. Before she can grasp it, the god speaks again:" you will have to endure many pains on either path"
Dagnal grasps the light. "I pledge loyalty. I will bring justice and I will bring light. I will guide the lost souls like you guide me and I will act your judgement upon the evil."
"and so it is sealed"
And so, the light fades and her vision ends. When she wakes uo, she feels a new kind of power inside of her,and a stronger connection to the god ilmater and his powers.
Kairons nightmares don't tell a story in particular. They are more like flashing pictures out of order for his inner eyes. But his other senses pick up things he wouldn't have noticed otherwise. The smell of oils and acetone. Bubbling noises, they are being boiled. Heat on his skin - no, under it. Something is injected into him. He hears a familiar voice talk about "Mutagens" and listing several herbs and alchemic supplies. Pain.
A strong instinct pulls him out of the dream, sweating, before he will get to harm. He feels something strange flowing through him… Through his blood. His hand is shaking. The same hand he killed his first person with yesterday. He clutches it. "goddess of pain", he sighs. "Is this what it takes for the trial?"
No answer. As usual.
His instinct suspects that the kill and his first use of the crimson rite completed the first part of the ritual or trial to become a blood hunter, even though he didn't intend to. It is as if a door was unlocked in his mind, giving him access to an old knowledge of making your body stronger through modifications…
Rivens nightmares are different. They are a single, everlasting darkness and coldness. Nothing ever happens in there. He can't wake up, he can't do anything. Just sit in there and wait until it is over.
The dreams Ownka has are of memories. She remembers her hometown, a small settlement of Orcs and their Human spouses. Unlike other mergings of two races, Ownkas parents wanted to create an environment in which their half orc offsprings wouldn't feel out of place, in hooe of contributing to positive character development. But as everywhere, some children still mocked others. Ownka remembers everything the others ever insulted her as. And it comes back every night.
As every morning, she begins with her daily ritual before sunrise. Washing her face, getting dresses, giving her hamster food and tucking it away safely in her pocket. Then she goes out to find a secluded, but open place to practice her strikes and footwork. This day, she finally masters a move she has been working on since she left her home… ItIt would make her father proud. If she could just tell him. To overcome the melancholy, she sits down in the now risen, golden morning sun and reads in her little book.
When she returns to the Tavern, she is greeted by an enthusiastic Theiastra.
"Ownka! Hi! It is so good to see you! I was just talking to Akmenos, I am working on a new show. The Adventure last night inspired me" she looks to the upper right corner.
Akmenos is filling liquids in bottles behind the bar, smiling amusedly at the young elf. Behind him the barmaid, still shaken by the events of the day before.
"how are you", Ownka asks politely.
“Better, thank you.”
“Ownka, let’s get breakfast”, Theiastra suggests.
While they eat their breakfast, Riven comes down the stairs, stretching.
“Uaah I had a terrible night!” He sits down by the girls and picks at Ownkas food absentmindedly.
“Excuse me”, Theiastra protests strongly.
Riven flicks a potato in his mouth. “Umm… you are excused?”
The mouth of the elven bard stands wide open, as do her eyes.
Ownka doesn’t seem to mind, but the elf snaps Rivens hand away from the plate as he goes for a third snack.
“Ownka, would you stop him. He has earned enough money to stop being such a beggar!”
Now, Riven seems to be offended, finally. “Beggar?! Akmenos”, he shouts up and prepares some gold pieces, “your finest breakfast plate, please! For each of us.” Then he winks at Theia and blows her a kiss.
“A beggar or a show-off, have you no normal state of being?”
Akmenos brings three plates of berries, cheese and butter, white sourdough bread, a cup of coffee and a piece of apple pie. “Oh, I do hope you will enjoy this luxury, Riven.”
At this point, Andell comes down as well with a light step, followed by Dagnal, talking to her friend and Kairon.
“Good morning, everyone”, Andell greets.
The barmaid hides behind Akmenos, as she sees the Tiefling creeping downwards.
“Would you mind getting some things from the shop for me, dearest? You can take your time.” Akmenos sends her off with a basket and a list, so that she doesn’t have to be in the same room as the Tiefling. She is very grateful for that.
“Might we join you”, Dagnal asks Theia and Ownka.
“Yes, of course! Sit down. Riven was just so kind to buy us three nice breakfast plates. You can have mine.”
“My too” Ownka pushes her new plate slightly before her.
“Mine”, Theiastra corrects.
“Let’s get another one of these and we can share”, Dagnal suggests.
They all enjoy their nice breakfasts. Theia suddenly speaks up. “So! I have this amazing idea for a new show, I got super inspired by our little adventure yesterday. I want to tell of a heroic group of people going through the most amazing adventures together, defeating dragons and rescuing poor children!”
Everyone looks at her weirdly. Her enthusiasm suddenly vanishes.
“I just need a name for it still.... Do you have any ideas? Something epic like… the epic adventures of…”
“The strong guys”, Ownka suggests.
The Elf sighs doubtfully. “Too basic. What do you say, Riven?”
“I don’t give a fuck”
The Bard looks obviously disappointed. “oh come on! If you give me a nice name, I’ll portray your character as the most handsome and cunning guy ever, a new prince charming. A thief charming!”
Riven sighs and rolls his eyes. “I am handsome. Well, then… The fucking handsome adventurer”
“Dagnal, help me out, please.”
“Path of justice!”
“Andell?”, Theia asks, but he seems to be in deep thought. “What about you, Kairon?”
Kairon looks up, astonished that he is spoken to.
“We rescued you, how did we come across? How would you describe our adventuring strategy?”
“Chaotic, I would say”, Akmenos says from behind the bar. “I heard you killed the boss of the gang yesterday, along with two others - at least - emptied their treasury and abducted … or rescued a girl. It is the news of the week!”
“Of course, we were awesome”, Riven thinks.
“People are not sure if you are the good guys or the bad guys, whoever you are”, the barkeep finishes.
Riven laughs. “That is even better!”
“They don’t know we did it yet”, Dagnal thinks out loud. “That is good. It shouldn’t have gone like that.”
All of a sudden, Andell speaks up: “An anagram of the first syllables of our names could form the phrases ‘a kind hero awaiting’ or ‘think again, weirdo’”
Riven laughs even harder at that.
“a kind hero awaiting... “ The bard tries to taste the phrase on her tongue. “But we are five heroes - six, if you count Kairon. And a whole phrase makes it harder to sell…”
“Well, then think again, weirdo”, Riven laughs.
“Maybe give it more time”, Dagnal puts her hand on Theias shoulder, “don’t force yourself to find a name.”
“By the way”, Andell chimes in, “what about your friend? How did she end up in this gang’s fortress?”
“I got into some trouble on the road”, the brown haired human girl explains and gives a weary smile, “I didn’t think I would see Dagnal ever again, after she left our town. Anyway, I was on the road to the town, I came from a big market. I had to set up camp halfway and saw two shady looking individuals talk to each other. I overheard just a little bit of their conversation. They were talking about exchanging goods and workforce. I wanted to keep my distance, set up camp somewhere else but they noticed me. First, the agressively asked me who I was, why I was there, if I was a spy and what I heard. I cried no, I dont know what you are talking about but they just knocked me out. I woke up on a cart with a few more people, those got transferred to another and I was brought there to be questioned. luckily, you guys arrived in time. They would have killed me!”
“There were some shady things going on in our town”, Dagnal confesses, “I wanted to find out if this was related to that.”
“What shady things?” Ownka wants to know.
“People were abducted, houses burnt down…”
“Yes”, Beth adds as she sees that it is hard for Dagnal to talk about that, “and noone knows who did it, where the people went or why.”
“How long ago was this?” Andell asks.
“A few months. Before that, people went missing from the road sometimes. But a few months ago they attacked our town.”
“Is that why you asked the Orc about it out of the blue?!” Theiastra pieces together.
“Yes. I thought this gang was powerful enough to do something like that. And now, they even took her. I am sure something is going on there.”
“I want to help you”, Ownka declares.
“I don’t think I could pay you or anything”, Dagnal confesses.
For the first time in conversation, the half orc seems very open and excited. “No need. I help you, then you help me. We be one team!”
“If you don’t mind”, andell says, “I would like to investigate as well. Especially about this pink dust”
Theiastras Eyes glitter for a moment. “Onto a new adventure! What do you guys think, Riven, kai. Should we venture forth together?”
Riven thinks for a second. Kai keeps quiet, too.
“We will bring forth the nightflower pact!” The elven woman stands up, throwing her arms in the air. “Not only as a symbol of debt from Akmenos, but also saying: we will help each other out! We won’t be alone and powerless in this cruel world anymore, we will be a strong team built upon friendship and trust!”