The Party Assembles

I never really knew what hit me. One minute I was sitting there, having a couple drinks with my new acquaintances: some dwarven swordsman, a half-elf theurgist, and an unusually short halfling–a half halfling–robber. We had run into each other the night before and had a pretty good time; the half-elf was funny and the fighter had gold to burn. Tonight had been equally as fun; I could easily see going on an adventure or two with these people.

Turns out the adventuring started a little earlier than expected.

I guess some one from the royal guard must have talked to the barkeep–replace talked with bribed– who slid a little sleep potion in the ale we kept drinking. I guess the royal family was involved for one major reason: in front of me stood Baron Overbrook. He was dressed all Baron-like with robes of ermine and a cornet with some giant gem in it. But despite being a Baron and wearing the equivalent of all the money I had ever seen in my life, he looked unhappy.

“Adventurers, I mean you no harm. I had no other way of gaining your attention without alarming the castle. The potion you all drank will have no long-term effect.” The Baron stepped forward, slipped his hand into his purse, and pulled out about fifty gold pieces. He then threw them on the floor.

“This money means nothing to me anymore. Me, Baron Overbrook, a man who loves gold, who loves the feel of gold, the smell of gold, the taste of gold. But now nothing. None of it matters anymore. My daughters were my real gold.”

Now I have heard some oxen poop stories in my day–one doesn’t make it to third level without having some experience in the fine art of lying–but this seemed like a frame-up. I mean, the Baron is throwing actual gold on the ground and trying to tell me that some kid who he probably hates 90% of the time has made him like not it. Please.

“Look around you. There are fighters,” he said, nodding towards the swordsman I met a couple days ago. “There is a cleric,” he continued, as he pointed at a fattish human who I had never seen before. “In the back there, you will see Jindar the ranger and Rordricke, our paladin.”

Okay, this was now turning bad. Given my inclinations towards violence in return for money, I was not the kind of character who normally would party with a paladin and a ranger. I mostly think of those classes as problems that needed solutions more than a couple of people to split treasure up with.

The Baron spoke again. “There is a magic-user,” and the half-elf bowed slightly, “and our smallish friend here is one of the best thieves in Welkwood. And our half-orc friend there, he has a special skill, one that some of you may find,” and here the Baron hesitated, “unappealing.”

That’s it, I was already outed. I did what I usually do in these kind of situations, I started talking. “Please Baron,” I started, “we are not here to say who did what to whom for how many gold pieces, we are here because you drugged us. What do you want and are you going to pick up that gold?” I admit, the latter part of the sentence was not the wisest thing I could have said, but I am not a wise half-orc.

“To answer the second question first, the gold is yours. This gold and much more of it can be yours, if you are willing to risk your lives for something that matters very much to me: my daughters. To be blunt: they have been kidnapped. Worse, they have been kidnapped by a legendary basilisk. Even worse: that basilisk has taken one of my daughters deep within her lair in the Kron Hills. If my political enemies discover I have no heirs, they will strike. The Baronry will be wracked with violence.” Here the Baron stopped and stammered. “Pl-pl-Please. Find my daughters. You can have the gold you find, you can have the treasure you find, you can have your pick of horses. Just find my daughters.”

What the Baron didn’t know was that he had me at “the gold is yours.” This was looking like a mighty fine adventure.

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