The story begins much like most of the other ones in the tales of old. A seemingly random group of people comprised of various races and classes gathering in a town on a dark night, in this case, one called Oakhurst. Through happenstance and the universe aligning just right, all arrive at the same time, sitting in a crowded inn – and get a seat at the same table, despite the afore mentioned crowdedness.
As they sit before the fire, they hear the tale of woe from an old mysterious person telling all of their troubles, but it’s clear that this monologue is mostly directed at the table of potential heroes by the fire, and that fame and gold await those that will complete this epic adventure……..
That is not us though. Myself and my bagpipe playing friend had just been chucked out of the inn by the half orc bouncer for annoying the customers and we are thrown into a large puddle that splashes a couple of lords and a beggar with sandals and a bald head.
The two lords help us out of the puddle, I suspect an automatic reaction based on breeding rather than actually wanting to help, while the beggar, actually a disheveled Monk, asks if we have seen any magic apples. My Bardic friend and I wipe ourselves down while answering no, and then the lords asks us about some missing children. Again, we cannot help, but more importantly, they offer us a share in the reward if we do help, something apple boy never did. Seeing as how our services are no longer required at the inn, we are more than happy to tag along.
The Bard says he will grab his gear that is still in the Inn and meet us later, while the Lords – actually a well-armoured Paladin and a Cleric offer the same deal to the Monk.
As we head towards another inn in the town trying to find a bed for the evening, the Half Orc Bouncer looms from the darkness in front of us. He explains that he is terribly sorry for his rough housing of us earlier, a dreadful mistake, and did we know that he can play the drums, and offers to be a band member.
It was of course nothing like that and more along the lines of “YOU!” pointing at me, “I PLAY DRUMS!” while using his fists to make pummeling actions that made me wince. “I help!” he adds, before crushing me with a bear hug. He then whispers “secret plan” in my ear, but to whom that was directed at I do not know. To deflect him, I tell him that the two standing in the armour have gold and will pay him money to find some children. Specific children, I hastily add, not any random child as I see him look in the window of the nearest house.
But the Half Orc is gone. He returns moments later, a half elf upside down in his meaty fist. “I found child” he says turning to look at the darkly dressed person who secrets a knife quick enough to not be spotted by the Half Orc or his friends into one of the many pouches around his waist.
The half-elf is mid way through the sentence “I am not a child” as the Barbarian puts him down and says “Gold please!” so stops speaking and pauses to watch what unfolds next.
The Paladin half elf ears are turning pink with rage. “It is not any old bloody children! It’s the children of the Baron Augustus, and they are not children, but grown up adventurers. And yes, you can come too” he waves a gauntlet fist at the newcomer before continuing at a lower volume. “They are apparently in a dungeon a few miles from here, and we need all the help we can. Lastly, yes, there is a gold reward.” The Paladin smooths down his tabard and takes a deep breath, rolling his eyes at the Cleric. The unspoken ‘please can we find someone else’ is written all over his face, and the wiggle of eyebrows from the Cleric shows he is inclined to agree.
This is missed by the party though, and the Half orc is not the only one of the group digesting the words gold and reward, or perhaps not, as he mumbles ‘old children not children but are children’ over and over.
The two lords seemed resigned to their fate though, and continue with their story to the rapidly growing listener base. Apparently, the last know location was in or around the lair of a long forgotten Dragon Cult and called the Sunless citadel. It resides in the blasted lands, the devastation caused by a red dragon long ago.
The parents of Talgan and Shargin want information so badly, they are willing to pay on proof of death, provided we return with family rings of the missing. This is worth 500g, but if we actually return with them alive, the reward is doubled.
The Monk chimes in with his quest, saying that he is searching for a group of Orcs that appear with Magical Apples, a green apple that heals and a white apple that poisons, and that his monk group are looking to learn the secrets of both apples. No mention of a reward though, so people lose interest quickly.
The lords add that they had done some digging during the day and found that someone called Belak and his pet frog seem to be the only other people asking about this sunless citadel. They are not sure if he is related to the missing kids though. Lastly, Talgan and Shargin are part of an adventuring group, headed to the citadel, and that there were at least four people altogether.
Resting for the evening, we awake to start our new adventure.
[The rest of the chapter will be added in the next week or so]
Played August 2018, Written Nov 2018