By – Jericho
The downpour of rain only became thicker as they aproached the gates into Innstradt. The gate guard sprang quite a shock among a few of them as his voice boomed out from the small opening; which startled Ash and caused Scoundrel to go into a barking spree. “Who goes there” he asked with a grim and raspy voice. “What do you want here” he called out again. Jericho aproached, “we’re looking for shelter to get out of this damned rainstorm. We won’t be causin’ no trouble.” Reluctantly, he opened the gates and allowed them to pass. “Just go straight down this road til you see the largest building down there. The Inn, and everything else, is in there.” The unamed mad returned to overhanging piece of plank that had been sheltering him from the weather, clearly a fan of drier times.
There were several small homes along the street, none of which seemed to be much more than one room shanties. Other than the few sparse shops around there wasn’t much to look at until they reached the center of town. At the center stood the town’s inn, town hall, the guard’s barracks and the armory; all in one building. The sign outside however only betrayed the first aspect which read The Inn of the Flying Gopher. None had any objection as they rushed inside; leaving the dog tied outside under the porch.
“Welcome, Welcome!” chanted the innkeeper from behind the bar as he took in all the new faces coming in. An accompaniment of smiles and handshakes was barely underway when the odd man began to inspect the group’s set of weapons. Jericho, seeing the man’s attention to their small arsenal, expected to be asked to part from them while in the inn. Instead, the barkeep abruptly asks “You fellows don’t happen to be adventurer’s, now do you?” From in front Mabon responds “Why yes, you could call us that.” “Great!, Would you mind meeting our mayor Olgar? He’d be much interested in meeting you.” The group nods and is quickly led upstairs before even getting a chance to sit down and relax.
They shambled over to the tall doorway to the inner room and waited at the threshold. Jericho had expected Olgar’s office to be more or less ordinary and unimpressive, but it was larger and much more grand, with rich-looking blue and gold drapes on the three windows, a wall of fancy oak shelves holding a colorful array of thick books, and, in the other corner, several magnificent battle standards. Each banner was of a yellow background with red marking along with a bit of blue. The standards were arranged in a display flanked by formidable-looking pole weapons.
Olgar Ironmead looked up from behind a massive desk of shiny mahogany with curved legs and a scalloped skirt. The top had three inset leather squares, smaller ones to each side of a larger one in the middle, each with a curly design painted in gold around its edges.
The bartender, finally announcing them “Olgar. Some adventurers from out of town just come in”
“Good!” He responds as he stands and approaches them. “Tell me, did an old woman ferry across the Sellen River send you up here?” “Yeah” Jericho scratches his head “She mentioned you.” It didn’t take long for them all to have a seat around the massive desk and get down to business. Olgar described how trade in the region is generally controlled by whomever controls the bridges, being able to lay whatever tax they so desired. He explains how each bridge point is controlled for a full year, dictated by a small tournament, a fight that awards the winning side uninterrupted control over the region’s ability to survive. Olgar beseeches their help, pleading that times are bad because of ridiculous taxes that the current controller, the town of Krilborn, set forth. Worse yet, he suspects the rumors that the Thieves guild is funneling trade to other areas so they can reap better pay from the banditry there to be true. He pleas for their help, asks them to fight for them so that they can win the trade dispute and therefor survive for another year. The pleas for fighting on behalf of Good fall on deaf ears, however, and Jericho, Ash, and (Bryan) immediately get to discussing compensation. Eventually they settle on half of a percent of the expected earnings for the next year as payment; not too bad, Jericho thought, for 2 days work. Olgar, displaying even more of his friendly attitude, offered to send Jokim further North to turn in the head of the group’s most recent bounty. They decided to trust him; mostly because he liked them, and partly because they’d get the 300 gold without the need to carry it themselves, and would get them some much needed time off while waiting on it.
Olgar comped them all separate rooms, a free meal and several free rounds of mead. Everyone was seeming impressed that they’d been given a royal treatment even though they were complete strangers; especially Keara, who was most excited about the free mead being served. Most adventurers would wish for the same but seldom received it. Ash had fumed temporarily, upset that he was too young to be given any alcohol. Mostly Jericho was just worried about the repercussions of letting an inexperienced summoner get drunk; afraid of the consequences. It seems the strange and freaky still happen, though, as Ash had inadvertently summoned a giant squid into his room while crafting wands to work off some steam. The battle was over quickly with the aid of Mabon’s spell weaving and Keara’s axe-work. Lucky for him, Ash thought, as he almost became lunch.
The rest of the night, and the next day, were uneventful. Other than some shopping, nothing much happened until they had awoke the next. Eager to get started, they all headed to the bridge in the bright and early. The river looked wild and untamed with rapids that peaked their yearly intensity. The was was high enough to sweep over the bridge itself and the current fast enough to drag anything that entered it miles downriver. The bridge itself was well made at least. Made of thick and dark cobblestones and a sturdy base and design that made it clear that it was built to withstand the worst that the West Sellen had to offer. They all lined up along the bridges middle until a bell rang that signaled them to begin. Ash and Mabon rushed in first with a flurry of magic missiles, each slamming into the giant behind with a thud of arcane fulfillment. Jericho and Keara held the front lines, slicing a few with sword and axe alike. Following a decent blow, landed by Jericho, Keara cleaved through two of the enemy Bugbears and into another; clearly unconcerned that they were to leave the enemy alive. Next the giant stepped forward, slower to react than the rest, and with one mighty swing he threw both Jericho and Keara into the raging waters upriver. Mabon responded with more missles while Ash summoned a his dragon familiar in the back, which happily decided to rip into the giant and finish off the last remaining bugbear. Jericho, an expect swimmer, somehow failed to demonstrate his talent as he rolled along the riverbed; unable to reach the surface. Panic seized him as he realized he had no way to save himself from the rivers fury. Keara, now enraged and determined to get revenge, sprang from the water with a death grip on her Dwarven great axe, and cleaved through the giant’s lower legs and hamstrings upon landing. It staggered back, fell into the water, and was dragged down-river never to be seen again. The battle was now over. Keara and Ash’s dragonlike companion dashed into the water in an attempt to save Jericho. Keara had managed to spot him, but was unable to save him without risking her own life as well. She turned up along the shoreline unsure of what had happened to her leader. Jericho himself wasn’t sure what had happened. At the last minute he felt like he had either been dragged from the water, or miraculously saved himself from the near-death experience. He lay along the shore of the river much further downstream, not even able to see where the battle had taken place, alone, while the rest of his companions aren’t even aware if he yet lives. To make things worse, Jericho recalls he may have seen a glimpse of a familiar face among the crowd as he dove underwater. He shrugs it off, more hope that his mind is playing tricks on him than utter disregard. The last thing Jericho wants is to see is his cheat ex-wife back to steal what little he has left.