The Keep

  1. In the pre-dawn air, the 4 intrepid adventurers stepped onto the riverbank. As they relished the feel of solid ground under their feet, they began to orient themselves and get organized. The two rangers spotted something on the hill just upriver that deserved attention. Following some broken conversation, they set off ahead of the dwarf and mage.
  2. From the saddle of the small hill, they spied 3 small figures with a dog-sized rat. With the incessant rain, these figures appeared to be content to slowly stamp their feet in obvious discomfort, hidden under their wet hoods. Calling the others forward, Leo (the sacred ranger) convinces Takiir (the dwarf gladiator) to approach and hail the small group. Vician (the mage) remained wholly unconvinced that they had any business out in the rain, with no breakfast, no roof, wet socks, and little visible to gain from hanging around here. Arradin (ranger) took a knee beside Vician, politely trying to shush him, while notching an arrow should the need arise.
  3. Takiir, always ready to display his bravado and prowess, stepped near the circle and addressed the small group in the goblin tongue. “Greetings!” With a start, the figures tossed back their hoods and sprang into action. One ordered the others in kobold “defend and attack!” Two of the three moved behind rocks, while the third stood with his rat to receive a charge if necessary. The apparent leader launched a javelin that glanced off Takiir’s armor. A melee ensued….
  4. Arradin, with little hesitation pierced first the rat and then its master with a couple of arrows, only missing once. Leolite charged in with a low war whoop, swinging his bardiche in a deadly arc that unfortunately found only gorse and branches. After a few parries and thrusts, Takiir felled the second kobold at his front, with obvious satisfaction and bloodthirst.
  5. The kobold leader, seeing his second javelin miss Arradin, turned quickly away and started to disappear into the low brush. With little hesitation, Vician deigned to wipe the rain from his brow and fired off a dart of plasma that caught the kobold in the back and knocked to the muddy earth, cold and dead.
  6. A quick search of the bodies revealed little beyond the short hooded cloaks, small bets and sashes, their crude weapons, with the exception of the leader. Takiir cleaned and dressed his trophy kill, peeling the skin from it quickly, while Vician searched the leader. Vician found and took possession of a small bundle in the belt pouch. Unwrapping the dark, unnatural silk revealed a cruel looking dagger made of the fused bones of a long finger, sharpened like a claw and porous like a sponge. Clearly not intended for combat, this dagger still looked very business-like.
  7. With little further ado, the party set off to the northwest for the nearby keep in the rising light of the overcast and rainy day.


#The keep rises above the small river valley, girded by trees and hills to the north and south, with the lazy river running generally eastward. It features large blocks of granite piled high to make a secure stronghold from attack. Clearly visible on the battlements are both weapons of war and warriors, keeping a steady vigil.
#With the coming of the daylight, three groups of farmers come from the gate and down the long causeway, making their way to fields at the base of the hill, very nearly in the shadows of the keep. The groups consist of dun-clad workers, moving together in small family groups toward the fields. The closest one has a mule and two-wheeled wagon.
#Leolite steps forward to engage them in conversation, learning a little bout the keep from the father with his two sons. After a friendly exchange and a silver coin for gratitude, Busa tells Leo to tell the Innkeeper to say that “Busa sent them.”

The Keep

1. As the 4 adventurers climb the causeway, they are watched vigilantly by those on the walls. At the head of the causeway, a couple of guards meet them and inquire as to their business. Gruff, but otherwise accepting of their presence, the guards permit their entry into Althusa. They pass through a covered passageway, guarded by a drawbridge, portcullis and murder holes above.
2. Corporal Thain stands squarely in their way, taking a few long moments to “inspect” them, with unquestioned authority. His red tunic features a golden sash, and the red plumed helm does little to conceal his black, bushy eyebrows, mustache and curly beard. At his side is a well-made, straight-blades sword, and close-fitting plates of hardened iron cover him from his throat to the ankle tops of his riding boots. Apparently at least marginally satisfied, he directs them to the scribe seated at the table beside the entrance, within the shelter of the battlements.
3. “State your names and your business,” pipes up Khor’d from his seat. He has a basket of scrolls at his side, and a quill pen at the ready. The sleeves of his silver-bordered white robe are stained with smudges of ink, and he is clearly struggling to be upbeat in greeting the travelers. He cannot conceal a trace of suspicion as he surveys their salt-encrusted and mud-spattered clothes. He turns his nose up at Takiir’s blood-spattered appearance.
4. Since he clearly addressed the rangers and referred to their companions as servants, Arradin offers his and Takiir’s name to the scribe. Takiir immediately and obviously shows some displeasure with Arradin, resulting in a quick lecture from Khor’d. “Good Arradin, it will serve you well to keep your man-servant in line. CIVILIZED folks do not tolerate insubordination from such as THEY are…. Only BARBARIANS tolerate such behavior, and you will be much better received here if you keep HIM in line, if you get my meaning. He cannot be blamed for being, I guess UPPITY might be the right word, but you surely WILL be held accountable for his misbehavior.”
5. Leolite offers up the name Leopold and Patsy for himself and Vician. Again, reaching a point of marginal satisfaction, the Corporal and the Scribe submit them to pass into the Keep, with Khor’d directing them to the fountain square for the Inn and Tavern, as well as pointing out repeatedly that they should register at the Guild House if they claim any affiliation.
6. Surveying those on the streets at this hour, it becomes obvious that the rangers in their green stand out, as no one else sports green as their primary color. Additionally, the fact becomes clearly apparent that only the most menial servants are attired in blue, as both Takiir and Vician have chosen for their traveling clothes. With an obvious grunt of offended dissatisfaction at being so horribly misidentified, Vician pulls the blue mage’s robe over his head, stripping down to a reddish under tunic and brown breeches. This action results in some startled and insulted looks from passersby, and appears to have been noted by Corporal Thain, though he does little more than glance in their direction.
7. Heading toward the fountain square, the team finds a provisions store on their right, and quickly enters. Pal’thi greets them, and they learn a little more about the culture of Althusa. They are successful in acquiring some brown robes to better fit in, and Vician buys some nicer boots to gain the cooperation of the provisioner and gets a better grasp on the colors worn by the castes within this society. (A chart is provided that matches the discussion in general.)

The Keep

1. Arriving at the Inn, Kupon and his wife Althia welcome the group. After a short exchange, Vician acquires a room, one of the five, as well as an assurance that hot water and dry linens will be brought to him. Arradin and Leolite take the other two empty rooms, getting out of the view of the common room with the large fireplace at the end. Takiir is “escorted” to the common stable, where he finds about a dozen other of the least of society, clothed in tattered blue rags or robes, and their self-assured, accepting stench. The other lackey offers, for a few coppers, to get him a moldy crust of bread and some broth, which Takiir diffidently refuses.
2. Before the morning is more than a couple of hours old, the adventurers are ensconced in Althusa, ready to choose their path and take their next steps.

The Keep

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