(OOC: I've "rewound" a bit to allow for the purchasing of items and for Gaven's conversation with Cosmo, so we start back in Cosmo's shop before you head back to the Tankard where you'll bump into Filbert)
Oloc wanders around Cosmo's place with huge eyes and an open mouth, eyeing all of the magical wares. Ultimately he ends on three items that he offers to buy: Ring of Spell Storing, the Returning Throwing Dagger, and the Potion of Cure Light Wounds.
Duran purchases one of Ruger's Perfect Arrows and one Losenge of Healing.
Gaven too looks over Cosmo's wares. Spotting Borland's Shield, the cleric says: "This is a fine shield, I will take it."* Gaven also inquires: "When we spoke with Captain Belloc, he mentioned that Maggie the Moon Witch has been seen again. What do you know of her?"
Cosmo replies: "Mostly rumors. I've never met her. Some say she's a werewolf. Others say she's a witch. Many say she's both. I've never met her, so I can only speculate. But the latter assumption – that she is both werewolf and witch – is certainly a possibility. After all, any mage bitten by a werewolf can be transformed into one, and there is no reason to think that he or she would necessarily lose the ability to perform magic."
Cosmo then adds: "The last time you came in, I recall, you asked me about werewolves. So I divine your question may be connected to that ribbon I identified for you. If that ribbon was a gift, it may indeed be that Maggie is both a werewolf and a witch, and one who has managed to assert her human side over her wolfish aspect. Those with the strongest wills can. If she has seen fit to lend you aid for some reason – as a gift would suggest – she could be a powerful ally. Or a dangerous foe if crossed. It may also mean there is something she wants from you as well."
He lowers his voice, and looks around, as if even the walls in his secret back room might have ears.
"This may not mean anything," Cosmo whispers, "but I have sensed a tension in the night. It is difficult to explain, but it feels as if two primordial noctornal forces were about to clash. I have no idea what those forces might be, or if they're anything other than figments of an old mage's imagination. But if my senses aren't simply fooling me, a powerful lycanthrope – or a group of them – would certainly be a force to cause such an impression on my mind."
Then he shrugs. "Of course I cannot substantiate that feeling. And what do I know?" He smiles. "I've been sedentary too long, spent too many years avoiding adventures. So my senses may not be as sharp as they once were."
Finally you conclude your business for the evening with Cosmo, who sends you off with a cheerful farewell. "I assume you'll be in Fairbrook for a while refitting. If you have any more questions to ask me while you're here, feel free to stop by again," he adds as he sees you out the door to his shop.
As darkness begins to fall, you return to the Red Tankard. When you enter the inn, the place seems a bit more crowded as travelers have arrived to spend the night, and the local townsfolk drink and talk. You barely get inside the door before you see a familiar face – it's Filbert.
The halfling jumps up and waves to you from across the room. "Hallo! Sadie and Sal told me you were back in town. Earlier than I expected too!"
Seeing Filbert's enthusiastic greeting, Oloc suggests quietly to the rest of you: "Blackwell Keep, anyone?"
Gaven smiles at the halfling, "Well met Filbert. I am glad to see you waited for us. Have you gathered any men?"
"No, no," Filbert says. "I've been waiting on you." He whispers to the group quite confidentially: After giving it some thought – and admittedly watching the fairly slim pickings around here in your absence – I've come to realize I should put my trust in you alone. I don't expect anyone would be more likely to help me get my wares back than you gents. And anyone else is just as likely to stab me in the back once I do recover my merchandise."
Greeting Filbert, Duran says, "Glad to see you did not set off without us. When were you planning to leave?
"Ah that," Filber replies. "I've passed my time well this past day. I went to the blacksmith who says he can have a fine new halfling-sized suit of armor done up for me in a week. So I wouldn't be ready to go before then. With that and..." he flings his cloak aside, "...this little beauty, I should be able to take what those bandits owe me right out of their hides if I can't actually retrieve my gems." Hanging from his belt is a finely made short sword.
The halfling has a determined look on his face. "I must admit, I was being a bit hasty wanting to run off half-cocked earlier. But Hazel, well, she's the voice of reason. Made me calm down, take a hard, realistic look at my situation, and convinced me that careful preparation and precautions were more important than fast action."
Gaven asks: "Have you heard any more rumors on the Grey Foxes?"
"Nothing in particular," Filbert says, "though I've been trying to keep my ears open. Just general rumors that there has been some activity up on the road past Blackwell. It's always been said that a man was safe walking the road past Blackwell as long as he did it in daylight. Apparently that's not entirely true any more. So I'm guessing they're up there alright, since I don't seem to be the only one they've robbed."
Duran says: "We may need some time to rest and refit. Our friend Varros here had a rough go these past few days."
Filbert eyes poor Varros, who still looks a little the worse for wear. "Say no more. I reckoned you fellows would have your own business to attend to after your excursion to the south. So why don't you take a day or two to take care of your business, and then we can talk sometime in the next few days about how to proceed."
With that the halfling bids you good evening, leaving you to ponder your options.
No sooner has Filbert left you than Karnak flies through the window to perch on Varros' shoulder. Sadie raises an eyebrow and opens her mouth to comment on the presence of what she must consider just some filthy animal. But seeing how much the weakened Varros perks up at Karnak's arrival, her expression softens, and she goes about her business, turning a blind eye to the presence of a raven in her common room.
After you breakfast the next morning, Oloc locks himself in his room and begins copying out the spell from the scroll you picked up from the bandits. It will take him all day, and the rest of you realize you won't see him again until suppertime.
The hirelings, who have received quite a decent bonus, are pleased and go about the town on their own for a few hours to enjoy their new wealth.
Gaven prays for the healing of Varros' wounds, and the fighter rapidly feels better (OOC: Varros is back at full hp at the end of the day, so he can train if he wishes).
Gaven visits the temple to aid as he can and to pray for guidance on the group's next mission. He asks after Abbot Cuthbert, but is informed simply and politely that the abbot is "away on business near Ham's Fork." One brother says he believes that the abbot went to visit brother Abraham, but beyond that Gaven gets no further details out of anyone.
Gaven then visits with Elsie Miggins, Bob Barley and Dagwood.
Elsie welcomes him, and seems genuinely pleased to see the cleric. But she smiles sadly and distantly as they converse.
Bob Barley appears to be doing far better than Elsie, despite the recent loss of his son. They chat about this and that – mostly about Bob's memories of Bill – though Bob does seem eager to express his gratitude for the concern shown for his son by way of discounted prices should Gaven and his companions need mounts or beasts of burden.
Dagwood expresses thanks on the part of the Mayor for the Free Company's actions in stomping out the Red Serpent bandits. He also confirms Filbert's statement about Grey Fox bandit activity in the vicinity of Blackwell keep. Dagwood's theory is that with their competition out of the way, the Grey Fox bandits may be getting bolder, intent on expanding their nefarious activities.
Meanwhile Duran spends the day tracking down Sergeant Ragnar, and talks to him about training times and cost, and making plans to begin training the following day.
Varros, feeling better after Gaven's pious ministrations, spends most of the day convalescing, but by evening he feels in full form, and is up and about as if he had never been injured at all.
Evening comes again with your respective activities for the day completed, you find yourselves seated once more around your usual table in the Red Tankard. Amid the buzz of others' conversations, you discuss your next job.**
*I took the liberty of just assuming that you had the cash with you. I think from now on, whenever you want to buy anything in Fairbrook (which is, at least for the time being, your home base), that I will just handwave the details of actually going to the bank and depositing/withdrawing moneys. Whenever you need the gold to buy something there, I'll just assume you snagged it before heading to the merchant's shop.
**The developing consensus seems to be heading up to Blackwell after the bandits with Filbert. Let me know if I'm wrong in this.
Also, let me know if there are other people you want to talk to before heading out to Blackwell (or elsewhere). Feel free to buy any remaining equipment.
Dienekes: if you decide to have Varros train with Ragnar, too, let me know.
There was discussion before about mules/horses/etc. If you decide to buy one or more, we'll say that Bob Barley is willing to sell you horse(s), mule(s), saddle(s), saddlebag(s) all for 5 gp below book cost each (prices are on p. 21). Was the mule a done deal? The horses seemed in question.
If you want to hire someone to handle the animal(s) (i.e. to stand watch over it outside Blackwell) we'll say that you can find someone (equivalent in cost to a porter). If you wanted to hire someone to actually guard the animal(s), that would just be a merc.
Lastly, if I overlooked anything anyone mentioned in the comments from the last post, let me know, and I'll work it into the next post. I think I got it all, but you never know.