“It’s a weird city. That’s all I was really able to gather.” Bartleby brought his pipe to his lips and gave it a few puffs as he settled into the back of the wagon. The halfling made his rounds amongst travelers they occasionally passed, getting what information he could of the Southern lands they had little knowledge of. “The farmer I spoke too mentioned that he normally heads there to deliver shipments of grain… It’s sort of a independent city from the rest of the south. It’s SORT of neutral like Glasscliff, but it used to run by the kingdom of Terval before its fall. If we want to head to Sansport, Kaldest Keep is where we’ve gotta go through first.”
As Edgar snored loudly in the small pile of hay, Celean looked up at the clear blue skies, past the canopy of tree branches that shade their travel. “The sooner we’re north, the better.”
“The longer it takes us to head north, the better.” Otar muttered under his lips as he flipped through his spellbook. There’s too many blank pages for him to feel comfortable, and he did miss the days where he could spend hours going through dusty old tomes to satiate his desire for magic.
As hours passed, the wagon continued to rock back and forth and the forest eventually gave out to the sight of rolling hills.. Abbadon squinted his eyes as he looked atop the largest hill to find a large military stronghold. “That must be it.” With a flick of the wrist, the reigns snapped and Spider picked up his pace faithfully.
It didn’t take much time until the open lands turned into fields crafted for farming. Wheat swayed back and forth as the wind pressed against them to the rhythm of nature. It was hard to believe that this area was once considered a defensive ground against the north: The faces of the farmers looked busy and happy, children were playing, and the city that developed around the keep seemed teeming with life.
“I’ll… be right back! Just going to have myself a bit of a look around.” Before anyone could say anything, Bartleby gripped the edge of the wagon and hopped off. The bard eventually ran ahead and towards the first signs of the town. With a welcoming grin and a few puffs of his pipe, he casually greeted some of the guards that stood watch. Some words were exchanged, and soon enough the halfling went further ahead.
Abbadon’s eyes were focused on the keep itself, the high raised walls stood looming over what appeared to be the market district, and it was no wonder that the local farmers seemed quite happy, they were safe and secure here. It was bewildering though, never in his life had he seen a town with guards mostly composed of-
“Orcs. There’s a small population of orcs here that seem to serve as the majority of the security.” Like magic, Bartleby was settling into the back of the wagon once again. Abbadon gave a slight nod to a pair of guards the wagon passed, a dwarf and a orc who seemed to be walking their beat. “I can see that…” The large man cocked his head back to the hearty halfling who was already refilling his pipe full of some herbs. “What else did you find?”
With a clever smirk, the bard nodded his head knowingly, happy to see that his information gathering was appreciated. “The place is mostly populated by humans… Dwarves, half-elves, a small population of halflings, half-orcs, and as you already know: Orcs. There’s a place called the Outreach Center, sponsored by Kaldest itself which provides small work for adventurers who are looking to make an honest bit of coin. But…” He let the word linger in the air. “That’s just another way of saying bounty hunting. Beyond that, it looks like the place is run by a retired adventurer named Drekker Minedigger. Not a position he seemed happy about getting, but he seems to run a tight ship filled with opportunities for even the not very fair races. THAT’D explain why we do not see many of our pointy eared friends here.” Bartleby took another puff from his pipe before pulling out a small scrap of parchment that had a few additional notes written down. “If we’re looking for money, we can head over to the Outreach Center. Our friend Silas had a bounty on him that we can cash in on for some extra gold. We can retire for the night at the Tipsy Gnoll, the Lumbering Giant, and if we’re feeling like sleeping on a nice feathered bed… the Sleepy Time Inn.” The halfling let out a low chuckle as he placed the small bit of parchment away. “Everyone seemed to advise against staying at the Tipsy Gnoll though. Sounds like the place isn’t very hygienic, but for a place that costs a handful of coppers, I guess that sort of explains it.”
A wicked smile crossed Abbadon’s lips as he heard the description of the unsavory spot. He was the type of man who would rather stay in a place of little luxury, especially considering what little gold he carried on himself at the time. “Well I know where I’m staying for the night.” And with that said, the rest of the party seemed to chime in “Same.”
The cover of night blanketed Kaldest Keep in a cool breeze: The party settled on getting a good night’s rest before heading over to the Outreach Center in the morning. Spider’s hooves echoed upon the cobblestones as it approached the Tipsy Gnoll; already they could hear the sounds of grumbling of those who frequented the inn. The sign looked like it was about to fall apart, and the air was not a welcoming smell. As the party hopped off the back of the wagon, Otar gave Abbadon a slight nod. “I’m going to head over to the lumbering giant. It doesn’t look like this place has a stable for Spider, and I’m guessing I need to put Edgar SOMEWHERE.” The large warrior slapped the wizard’s shoulder with a slight smile before heading into the inn. “Be well friend, get a good night’s rest.” And that said, Abbadon and the others slipped through the doors of The Tipsy Gnoll.