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A Midsummer Night’s Scheme

Theona’s Journal

Midsummer’s Eve, Silverymoon

The rest of that day was unspectacular— other than a herd of Branta grazing off in the distance, we didn’t see much of anything, except rain. We finally did stop and camp, with thankfully no surprises during the night.

The following day was again uneventful. It gave Areon and I more time to ponder this silver tiger statue and the smith’s mark on it; we got the idea to quiz our caravan master, who, we had determined, was also the merchant for the goods carried between Beorunna’s Well and Silverymoon (and back again). Lukan did actually recognize the tiger— in fact, it had been on his last caravan trip to Beorunna’s Well to be sold there. He identified the mark as that of Prantos the artist, a good but new (therefore not well known) craftsman making his home in the newer area of Silverymoon. He was genuinely helpful and I suspect we got all the info he had on the item.

This night, too, was uneventful.

The camp woke up to another warm but rainy day. We were starting to pass farms and small settlements— surely we’d make it home in time for Midsummer! Still, our caravan was much too large to be accommodated on a farmstead, so we again camped by the roadside. Areon and Rosorc’s watch was quiet; as was the part of a watch I shared with Deitricha. I stayed up with Beowulf for the last watch, and after so many trouble-free watches I was starting to ponder why we were being paid so well when I heard an “oof!” in front me. Through the darkness I could see that a guard was already falling over and a shadowy form appeared to be tearing into him. I shouted “Ambush!” and shot a bolt at the marauding creature, then ran toward the campfire to make sure Areon was aware. Beowulf was already running over to help Rosorc get some fortification with spells as there was no way the dwarf could properly pull on his armor while the camp was being attacked.

Areon was on his feet with his bow nocked as a second creature appeared (and killed) another guard near us. We noticed the wild hair, dried leathery skin tight on the bones, and malevolent eyes. We both thought “ghouls!” at the same time, and I yelled “undead!” for Deitricha who effortlessly made a gesture at the closest visible monster— it took off in fear from her. We couldn’t find the first assailant, and Areon and I split up to try and catch the creatures, thinking them harmless to elves. As I got near the first downed guard Rosorc yelled to me that it would rise as undead— he was right! And worse, it was not in fact, a ghoul, but a wight! The dwarf jumped in between me and the now-risen guard (who did look quite awful with the gaping claw marks on his torso and the evil glint in his lifeless eyes). I aimed over Rosorc’s head and shot the thing in the chest. He finished the thing off, but not before it clawed him, visibly draining him. Areon appeared to have dispatched the remaining undead that hadn’t escaped. Many of our camp wanted to get up and move now, but Deitricha and I both convinced them that it was better, while it was still so dark, to have the defensible position and the firelight to see what was out there.

We were not attacked again for what was left of the night. When it was time to move, we did so quickly, and were able to see Silverymoon way off in the distance. We also crossed a multitude of footprints in the mud— giant and normal sized, heading west. Judging by the depth of prints, they were heavily armed. Beowulf agreed to fly off and see what was going on, with plans to meet us before we got to the city. He returned several hours later to tell us that he’d seen a gathering of two hill giants and at least 30 orcs in an encampment. Most bore shields emblazoned with a fang dripping blood. It sounds familiar, but I couldn’t recall where I’d seen that symbol before. At any rate, it was worth mentioning to the guards at the gates of Silverymoon, which we were just a few hours shy of reaching.

We arrived shortly before nightfall, and Lukas paid us 300 gold each and we departed from his service. The night was beautiful (of course, since we were inside the mythal now), and Deitricha took Rosorc (who she was still tending to from the wight attack) and Beowulf with her to Tymora’s temple. Areon and I went to my house.

I’d been gone for nearly four weeks, but everything was pretty much as I’d left it. Except one thing— a wand for curing wounds was left on my table, with a nice thank you note from Dante. I’d felt bad that we’d left town without seeing him after we had him restored to his human form, but the wand and message more than restored my faith in that one human.

Thankfully Areon doesn’t seem to mind spending the night “indoors” as much as I was afraid he would.

Areon did have me up and ready to travel bright and early though! We went to the north wall of the city and soon found the house/shop of Prantos in an alley. The thin, wiry human came to the door after our knock and ushered us into a shambles of paints, half-done portraits and other art paraphernalia. At first, he wanted to deny that the silver tiger we had with us was anything other than a unique statue of his own design. When we told him that Areon had knowledge of the theft of the original from an Uthgardt tribe, and I quickly assured him that we didn’t believe him to be the thief, he visibly relaxed and admitted he’d been commissioned to make a dozen such statues, but that he no longer had the original (or any of the twelve forgeries) in his possession. He went on to be quite helpful, telling us that the last place the original had been seen was Alwin’s Auction House in the old part of the city. I gave him a moonstone for his troubles, telling him to leave a message at the Bright Blade Brandished for me if he heard more about it.

It was still early, so we headed to the auction house. Two burly humans flanked the doors; after greeting them, they took us to the office where we met a fat, balding human writing with quill and parchment. He shoved aside the work to enquire why we were there.

I told him we were interested in unique items, and that I was particularly fond of silver. He assured us that he would have silver items such as statues at the auction in five days’ time. I used what few bits of believable explanation I had as to why I wanted to make a purchase today— being Midsummer’s Eve, it wasn’t unlikely I’d need to purchase a wedding present. Of course, he had to ask who the lucky couple was to be, so I said the gift was for Areon (who of course, was standing right there, likely wondering how I’d survived in this town full of humans with such amazing bartering skills). The greedy little human’s eyes lit up when I said I’d be willing to pay extra to get an item before the festivities started. He opened a safe and pulled out the ugliest silver statue I’ve ever seen— a squid-headed idol, possibly significant to mind flayers. I told him it was lovely though and wanted to know more about it. He informed us that all sales are confidential— for both buyer and seller. I asked if he had anything with a feline motif? He pulled out the most horrific item— a gold tressym. Not that a gold tressym statue would not be beautiful, but this one looked like it had been a real flying cat, dipped in gold, poor thing. Thankfully it was out of my price range. As he was opening the safe again, Areon spotted two silver tigers inside! Asking to see them, Alwin pulled out the silver “bookends” and assured us they were unique— both of them. Sadly, these were also the work of Prantos, not the original. The man was obviously hiding something from us, but I felt we’d reached an impasse, so thanked him and said we may be back for the auction after all, but we going to go to the open market to shop now.

Of course, that’s not where we went— Areon soon had us perched high where the treetops met the rooftops of nearby buildings. I watched people preparing for the Midsummer festivities that I so looked forward to, while Areon kept watch on the auction house door. It was dark by the time the fat man and his two guards locked up and left. Still we sat. I finally told Areon that we needed to go to the Bright Blade Brandished to listen to drunk revelers— perhaps we’d learn more of the silver tiger that way! I’m not sure if he agreed with that idea, but I think he finally realized that I wanted to celebrate the holiday for at least a while and acquiesced.

Our friends had already started to celebrate, though I was sorry to hear that Beowulf was just sitting in the bar, not atop a unicorn steed for the evening. Deitricha’s goddess apparently requires her clerics to drink large amounts of dwarven ale, dance on the top of a table, and then pass out, so we got to see one ritual of the holiday at least. It could also be that she was drinking because of the news she’d received. Upon checking on Tassar’s landlady, the old woman had told Deitricha that the halfling had been to her house not four days earlier and left a note with her:

Deitricha— We have much to discuss and explain. Meet me at 29 Dark Alley Way. Come alone. Tassar xxoox

Our male companions were of the opinion that it was a bad move, and Deitricha was horribly torn on what to do; she was probably drinking a bit heavier than any ritual requirements for that reason.

That bit of festivities over with, and Areon obviously antsy from the crowd (and the belief he was missing something important while not sitting high above the auction house), I suggested I just fill a flask and we headed back.

It’s good that we did, actually. We could see that a light in Alwin’s storehouse was on. Soon a dark-cloaked humanoid figure, about 5’ tall, slipped in through the front door of the building. I caught a glimpse of her face, which was familiar— the scribe of the Red Wizard we encountered in Barannsar! Forty-five minutes later, we saw her leave with a small wrapped bundle. Areon and I briefly discussed having me sneak up behind her and knock her out, but we weren’t really armed and armored properly, so decided it was not a good option. After thirty minutes more, the fat man and his two guards left the building, locked with lights out.

I suggested to Areon we might as well tell our companions about the importance of the silver tiger, and he actually agreed with me. It’s after midnight, and knowing our friends need more rest than we do, we slid down from our vantage point to head back to my house, with plans to explain everything to our friends over breakfast.

I am, I guess, amused that Areon apparently has no notion of what the Midsummer festivities were all about. He didn’t blink once when I was telling the auctioneer about “wedding plans” and the time-sensitive nature of such things. Perhaps the Uthgardt he grew up around do not celebrate this holiday. Or perhaps they celebrate differently and I’m in for a surpri....

Posted by Kristin on August 16, 2004, 17:02 | Theona’s Journal