Searching for Pirates
Whenever the Royal Guard is summoned to the castle of Lord British, I always get the sense that events have reached a level that affect all the worlds, and not just a corner of Britannia.
Thus it was that the Heroes of the Realm were once again called, after a hand-wrenching wait in the Ranger's Hut. Everyone was arranged in an orderly fashion as we waited for Kalis Sevren and Iyona Kondo to appear.
It was late in the evening, so there perhaps weren't as many to answer the call as we could hope, but the Elves had a strong presence, which was reassuring. I just hope their All Hallow's Eve party wasn't interrupted with the call for aid.
Kalis got straight to the point when he arrived. He reminded those gathered of the recent events in Jhelom, and talked about how we had all gone on a scavenger hunt of sorts, trying to find clues as to the original location of Britannia's latest attackers.
"I would ask at this time for the leader of this group to come forward," Kalis said, which I thought was odd, considering I always saw him as our leader in these matters. "Is Crwth present?"
I blanched as I heard my name. Me? He can't mean for me to step up there, can he? After a bit of fumbling, I rode up onto the steps. Iyona made a comment about having a horse on the dais of Lord British's throne, so I quickly harnessed Glue XXV to a pillar on the side.
Now, it's one thing for me to sit in a tavern, ale in hand, and regale the patrons with tales of daring-do, but quite another when the Commander of the Royal Guard puts a poor bard on the spot! Bards may make it look easy to spin their yarns, but we usually have some idea it's about to happen!
Still, I regained my composure the best I could and informed those gathered about what had be found out. I didn't get into details about the path taken, for I have told that tale before, but did mention the pirates' tanner, Christine, and the information that we had persuaded from her. I also mentioned that the information we had received had led to a seemingly dead end.
Kalis asked if I had a means of getting us all there, and I assured him that I did indeed have a way, for the last investigation of the area came up empty, and I had a feeling I would be going back. I did the honours for Kalis by opening a gate for all those gathered, and the Royal Guard streamed through the moongate, taking Britannia on the offensive for once.
As we arrived at the Trappers' Huts east-northeast of Vesper, those who knew of Christine's information informed others of the password -- "shinies" -- and a few people confirmed the coordinates that were supplied. Those gathered came to the same conclusion that the initial party had: the coordinates were in the wall of one of the huts! Did this mean that Christine had lied to us? Had she perhaps changed one coordinate, so she could honestly say (to her clients, if need be) that she didn't tell us the coordinates (exactly)? Or was it too late to use this secret entrance to the pirates' lair?
Iyona Kondo, as mysterious and foreign as her name, finally spoke. "I had some of my own people do a search," she began. "And we believe he found something of import."
I never did find out what it was she knew that we didn't, but she was somehow able to open another portal, only a few feet from the location we were given. Perhaps Christine had just gotten it wrong? Or maybe the coordinates change over time? It seemed unimportant now, for we were continuing onward.
"I know this area well," Iyona said as we reached the other side of her moongate. "There are ruins nearby."
Sure enough, to the west there was a set of ruins. It seemed we were in the Southern Jungle, south of Trinsic. As everyone gathered, Kalis said simply, "say the password", and one by one, adventurers started vanishing! Bracing myself for anything, I too spoke the password, "shinies", and pop! I found myself crowded in a small tunnel with the everyone else. There was a gate before us, and someone (it was crowded) asked, "can somebody pick the lock?" Chest swelled in pride, I knew I could do it, and attempted to maneuver my way up to the gate when pop! I found myself back at the Trappers' Huts! Others had stepped on the same spot I had, apparently, for I was not alone.
Back through Iyona's gate, and once again to the ruins, I spoke the password once more. The Guard had another lockpicker in its midst, it seemed, for the gate was open and the warriors were fully into the fight, for our presense had not gone unnoticed! Already there were many fallen Britannians, and I started to suspect that the brigands had this narrow tunnel for exactly this reason -- it was a death trap!
Of course, the Royal Guard has survived much worse than a handful of bandits, and soon we were through the tunnel and into an open cave. It certainly looked like a permanent camp, for there were bedrolls arranged and mountains of crates -- pirate booty -- all around.
The heroes made good time advancing through the cave system, even though more and more pirates appeared both ahead and behind. Many fell on both sides, including myself, but there were many healers to be found, so the attack could continue.
Then the pirates released the hounds. Okay, not your typical dog, but a Gruesome Guard Dog that took down anyone that stood in its way. Summoning magic was useless against it, for it was able to dispel such nuisances, and even the strongest pets fell in but a few bites and slashes. A bunch of us were chased all the way back to the entrance by one. A bit cowardly, I cast Invisibility upon myself as soon as I played a peaceful tune (it shrugged off my more direct Bardic abilities), but soon found myself on the wrong side of a gate with the creature, with my invisibility soon to wear off.
I fell to it more than once, as did countless others, but while I was off at the healer's, it seems that somehow, someone had found its weakness, for when I returned once more, it was gone. The cave had been cleared of the ruffians, and everyone gathered around Kalis and Iyona, right near a guard dog's corpse, which at closer inspection seemed to be some sort of balron! And I saw that there were indeed others. I'm glad I only encountered one!
Kalis asked what had been found in the caves, and some had said they found some crates that belonged to the Baron Lenshire. "Was there anything else discovered within this cave besides the crates?" he asked. A few people mentioned a mysterious scroll in the only really formal room in the whole place. We all went to see this scroll, which appeared to be the remnants of a letter, but the only visible phrase was "Ondar".
"Another riddle it seems," Kalis murmured. "Aye, a clue perhaps to the person behind these attacks." Ideas flew around about whether it was a name, a place, or another puzzle. There was nothing else to be found in the caves, so back to the palace we went to finish up the evening with some final guidance from Kalis and Iyona. This was interrupted, of sorts, by the appearance of none other than Baron Lenshire himself!
The Baron was very thankful to everyone, but there was some tension between him and Iyona. Lenshire said a few kind words, and Iyona walked off the dais. The Baron also said that if anyone had any of his property, that there was a location in Jhelom where they could drop it off. I assume there was some sort of reward for it!
The Royal Guard dispersed, many off to see what their recovered booty might gain them. Once again, I failed as a Treasure Hunter to actually find treasure, though some would say that the adventure and this story were treasure enough.
No, me either.