Fursifer, Kaleb, and Than Bighead sat in the mess hall of The Guild eating and sharing a table since they often found themselves alone. Though they scarcely knew one another, they found a common bond in their solitude. Chad did not care who they were, but was happy to find the three seated together when he dropped off Felligo Mahd’s latest mission request “A Simple Jaunt”. He handed them the paper and told them in his monotone voice to seek out the famed cartographer since they had a new mission. The three finished their breakfast and headed to the map shop, stopping at Fursifer’s insistence to eat again before arriving. When they did reach Mahd’s Maps the man was there to greet them and introduce them to a tall young woman by the name of Traveller with exceptionally polished manners. He explained that she was a professional courier and was entrusted with a sealed scroll tube with scroll to be delivered to the Port Master in the coastal town of Diobel. He offered 100gp each to the guild members to take a prearranged caravan ride with Traveller to the town from there their mission was to return via caravan with his cargo safely in tow. The journey was set and Traveller would handle the arrangements upon arrival. They accepted the quest, though they had their suspicions that the man might not be sharing all the details with them.
Their trip to Diobel put them in the fanciest wagon they had ever seen in a ten-wagon caravan complete with merchants from various lands, a dozen armored and armed guards and powerful camels to pull them along swiftly. Despite the fact that the caravan master was not especially inclined to having a demon-spawn and goblin among his ranks, Traveller used her diplomatic skills to secure a safe position third from the rear in the procession. The journey moved much faster than expected and the guild members plus courier enjoyed good food and their young attendant’s pampering (Than especially enjoyed sharing the teachings of his dark goddess and frightening the poor boy).
Upon arrival in Diobel they found a room at an inexpensive hospice/inn dedicated to Serenrae where Than enjoyed the moans of the injured the healers tended. Come morning, they made their way to Braggis the Port Master by way of RatBag the Watcher his appointment scheduler. The man required a bribe but managed to squeeze them in. Braggis opened the sealed scroll and laughed. He told them their arrangements would be handled by RatBag and informed Traveller that her services were terminated in the note, stranding her in the town far from home. She cursed Felligo Mahd for it was obvious to all he only hired her to insure the guildies would not peek inside his note and decline the mission. After another bribe to speed it along, they were required to bring two worn down carts pulled by two even more worn down camels back to the city with six expensive rugs and a total of eight hirelings. Two teamsters (Tyson the bedraggled cook and Manny the eager young teen on his first excursion from Diobel) were assigned to drive them. That was their cargo. Any loss of cargo would ensure a reduction in the offered price for the mission. The guild members cursed the crooked map maker for giving them a task with a poor chance of completion. Sure, the ten wagon caravan with its dozen hired sell-swords made the trip easily but they had no such luxuries for the return. It made it worse to know that he could have easily sailed his cargo back to the city safely by ship but did not want to pay the extra taxes for such a venture. Over a dozen experts gathered before Diobel’s gates hoping to win the chance to venture to the city and start a lucrative career under Mahd’s tutelage. The guild members began the tedious process of selecting the experts they would return with but one might say they chose an odd assortment of characters in an effort to get back at their employer:
Nicholas the sixty year old immature tooth-picking poor-signing herbalist that was fleeing persecution after poisoning a “bad man”, Eglantine the hateful and restless young herbalist that loves animals and is working to save money, Sofie the former nail-biting noblewoman turned adventurous and affectionate courtesan looking to see the world, her sister Valla the lazy noblewoman turned driver out to track her shameful and wandering sister down, Cass the complaining engineer also on the run from persecution for his crimes of treason for selling floor plans to the enemy, Bergmann the young minor with the hack of black lung that was little more than an escaped slave, Teri the fifty year old shepherdess that seemed mentally lacking, and finally the poor young inexperienced courier Traveller that had been callously disposed of rounded out their selection.
Together the group set out on the road back to Absolam.
They quickly learned that the old camels could barely pull the wagons let alone the people riding in them so many were forced to walk which led to some infighting when Valla the lazy noblewoman refused to walk so that the older or slower members might ride in the wagons. They made their way day by day and first found trouble when a pair of giant spiders attacked the camp in the night. The arachnids scurried into camp but were luckily spotted by Bergmann who was on watch so that the group could be alerted. Unfortunately, that did not save either Nicholas or Eglantine who suffered the attacks of the creatures and were both poisoned, draining away life and strength. Poor old Nicholas almost died on the spot before the collection of guild members and experts were able to kill the spiders. Valla tended wounds and administered to the injured afterwards ensuring her place riding in the wagon.
They made their way another day without trouble before camping in the wooded hill region. That night after a hearty meal prepared by Tyson the driver-cook, both Eglantine and Sofie found that they simply could not keep their eyes open. They fell asleep on first watch. Fursifer, Teri and Than all woke during the night to strange sounds. The Halfling and the shepherdess passed out immediately upon stirring but Than kept his eyes open long enough to see various shapes, small to large, moving about the camp. It was the silhouette of a woman that put him and the other two to sleep with her magic. When the guild members finally did wake, they found a most disturbing sight. A big bugbear rooted through their camp carrying the mutilated body of the young driver boy, Manny. They sprang into action combining forces to bring the mighty beast down. Kaleb managed to trip it with his bola while Teri ran at it like a mad woman beating it repeatedly while it lay on the ground with her shepherd’s staff. Nicholas, Fursifer and Eglantine joined the attack while Kaleb added arrow fire. The beast smacked Than with a powerful blow but the goblin necromancer replied with his magic sending the bugbear screaming in fear and he tore off into the dark woods. After Kaleb gave a short attempt at chase they realized their group was missing a few members. Tyson the cook, Traveller the courier, Cass the engineer, Sophie the courtesan and Bergmann the miner plus both old camels and all six rugs were gone. Everyone had a strange taste in their mouth and a headache which suggested they might have been drugged. They spotted an easy trail marking where the laden camels plus small, medium and large creatures had gone and decided to follow …
Meanwhile, Traveller, Cass, Sophie and Bergmann awoke in a camp next to a cavern. A huge fire lit the scene as a massive minotaur raged about the clearing angry that the bugbear had not arrived yet with more slaves. A dark elf woman calmed him and the pair left to go investigate. Unsure of their time limit to escape, Cass picked his cage lock and then did the same to free Traveller while Sophie struggled helplessly in her rope bindings until Traveller cut her free and Bergmann wriggle clear of his ropes. They heard the sound of odd singing coming from the cavern and knew the dark elf had called out to someone to watch over them in her absence. The others worked to gather the camels for a quick escape but found them exhausted and hard to move. Bergmann waited with spear at the ready and stabbed the tiny gangly creature (a wayang) as it exited the cave. The creature vanished from sight but Cass managed to charge over and swing at the spot where he once stood miraculously hitting it and knocking it unconscious. The group of frightened experts debated what to do with Traveller attempting to ride one camel while Sophie hitched the second to it by rope until Bergmann spotted a large minotaur in the shadows watching them (it was an illusion created by another wayang but they had no idea). He gave a signal to the others who considered fleeing into the woods. Traveller saw a fiery creature out there (another wayang illusion) and changed that plan. They opted to flee into the cavern instead. They made their way cautiously into the dark tunnels lighting torches to see their way. They split up to look about and get their bearings. Cass was stabbed by one of the gangly little creatures when it faded from invisibility. The engineer hit it hard in reply with his mace nearly knocking it unconscious so it fled deeper into the tunnels. Sophie was surprised by yet another creature when it appeared before her stabbing the unprepared courtesan. Bergmann the coughing miner came to the pretty noblewoman’s aid and they brought that one down quickly. Bergmann suffered another stab when he accidentally stepped up to the formerly injured and hiding wayang but the attack caused it to pass out at his feet. They searched the bodies and four separate cavern chambers finding an assortment of coins, gems and various items including all six rugs. Cass set off a magical alarm when he grabbed a coffer of coins from the dark elf’s room. They all huddled together hoping to defend a single entrance as the magical alarm continued, echoing loudly throughout the cavern and for hundreds of feet in every direction. When no one responded to the alarm, they gathered what they thought valuable, loaded the now rested camels and made a hasty retreat back to their campsite to find the others. Along the way they spotted what held up their captors. The bugbear, minotaur and dark elf were battling a pair of harpies. The group quietly avoided the scuffle (Bergmann took note of their betrayer, Tyson the cook, hiding opposite them waiting for his allies to deal with the harpies). They joined back up with the rest of their group and together made their way back to Absolam amazingly with their entire cargo intact. Only Manny the young teamster was lost.
Felligo Mahd begrudgingly paid his debt of 300gp but the guild members got the last laugh. Just as Felligo offered each of the experts a place in his new business of renting out skilled hirelings, the guild members offered them all a place in the guild since they proved themselves so useful in the field, vouching for every single expert. They all decided to join the guild accepting training to become adventurers and leaving Felligo with no one to begin his new business venture.
Fursifer, Kaleb, and Than each earned ???xp
Traveller earned ???xp
Bergman, Sophie and Kass each earned ???xp
Theri, Egglantine, Valla and Nicholas each earned ???xp