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LuckyIke

The Sapphire Stag

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Threshing Eve had arrived in Elmsford.  The last of the wheat was finally stocked away in the town stores, and most of the farmers felt a comforting, if not entirely not comfortable, weight in their purses.  Elmsford wasn’t exactly bustling most of the year, but Threshing Eve had a way of pulling folks into town, even the farmers from the the east bank of the Rhill. 

In the corner of Elmsford’s only inn, a Storyseller sat in waiting.  His once-red cloak was road-worn to a brown, and his soft boots looked in need of a cobbler’s love.  Times were tight, but Threshing Eve offered the promise of a few extra coins, or at least rounds of drinks and a warm meal.  As the farmers and townsfolk wandered into the inn in twos and threes, he twirled his talefeather deftly in his left hand.  He glanced up with a sudden sparkle in his chestnut eyes, and began to speak, seemingly to no one in particular, but with a strong voice audible from across the room. 

“You all heard the one of the Wickersneak?  Aye, yes, that’s an old one, worn thin like a cheap halfpenny.  Let’s see, I caught wind of a piece of a tale down near Higginsford.  But that one’s still half-baked at best.  Maybe with seasoning and another sprinkle of rumors, it'll be ready in a fortnight or so.”

 The Storyseller leaned back in his creaky oak chair and looked out the window, his eyes momentarily lost in thought.

“Ah, I think I have a tale for you all.  Mayhap you’ve heard it, as it’s an old one, but mayhap not.  Let’s wait a spell and when the light dims it’ll be ripe for a-tellin.  Maybe some more folk will come in and fancy a listen.  Now, I will say, a tale such as this is liable to leave a fellow a bit parched, I’m just sayin’.”

The Storyseller drained his ale, wiped his mouth with a grimy sleeve, and looked around expectantly.

“Do you all know how this inn got its name?”

Bill Sunderland chimed in, “Aye, Kamrin’s Papa’s Papa’s named it.  Old Man Khanas fashioned the sign, and it’s held up mighty fine, despite being a bit worn.  I heard they brought the board all the way down the Rhill from up past Ledford.”

The Storyseller chuckled mirthlessly as he eyed his now-empty wooden mug, “Well with a story as fine as that, perhaps I should hang up my travel sack and pass my talefeather off to you lad.  No, not the story of the naming.  What I’ve got for you lot is the story behind the naming.  I tell you what, once folks have a chance to knock some of the dust off their boots and whet their appetite for a proper tale, gather round and hear of the Sapphire Stag.”   

 

 

(OOC):  Come join in for a little narrative-driven adventure.  I'll post once per day, in the evening (Pacific Time).  Please keep your posts in-character, add (OOC) if you need to.  It'll just be a fun little one-off tale, and we'll see where the adventure takes us.  I haven't run an forum post RPG before, so it'll be a new experience for me as well.  Now let's see who else might be in the Sapphire Stag on this Threshing Eve in a small nowhere town along the bank of the Rhill...

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Posted (edited)

I'm Gnarly, a farmer that has a burning desire to be more than just a farmer.  Even hearing a tale is better than heading back to the farm.  I'll buy you an ale if you will regale me an adventure.

P.S. I want to get me one of them there Khanas signs...  

(OOC) P.P.S.  Thanks to Jaemus, I've discovered a gin and tonic local craft brew.  But being a post man he told me how much trouble I would get in if I attempted to mail some to DMG.  Hmmm.  I'll have to check out UPS.

Edited by Barb Bliss

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“Thank you kindly for the ale.”

The Storyseller took stock of the half-filled room.

”I think we will give any stragglers a chance to settle in before I start proper. The only thing worse than missing out on a story is only hearing the ending.  For example, I still don’t know what role that mule had to do with Baron Scalest’s daughter running off and joining a band of troupers.”

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Posted (edited)

A young elf glances at the storyteller, but pretends to be more interested in her unappetizing stew . Humans. No wonder they have such short lives eating this greasy mess. Mossbloom turns her back to the storyteller but her sharp ears keep listening. Her hazel eyes dart around the room, looking for someone.  Though the room was warm, she kept her hood up, hiding her pointed ears and casting her face into shadow.

In her boot, she can feel an eleven dagger pressed against her leg. Easy to pull out if needed. But likely there will be no fight tonight, but one should always be prepared. 

Edited by RomyCat
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A figure in a dark cloak took in her surrounding from the entrance. She missed very little, a skill that had kept her alive many times. There were many expecting glaces toward a  man in the corner. Nisha didn't see anything special about him, just a well traveled man who by the reaction of the people was most likely a storyteller. But looks could be deceiving. One of the first lessens life taught her at a far too young age. Nisha kept the hood of her cape up as she walked over and took a seat across from a young elf. 

"I thought I made it clear last we spoke I would no longer help you on your foolish adventures."

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Posted (edited)

Mossbloom gave a faint smile. "Ah, friend, you have been so helpful in the past. You have a knack for getting me out of trouble. I have another lead on acquiring a certain legendary item we both hold in high esteem. " She stirred her foul smelling stew and glanced at the storyteller. "If we find this item, I kept it and return home a hero. My previous crimes forgiven. You can have all the other loot--everything we find. And when the bards sing our tale, you will be a hero. Surely you prefer that status than villain in the stories. Your race needs good publicity, especially in this tense times."

Edited by RomyCat

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Another figure entered into the tavern and took a seat at a small empty table. From the tidbit she picked up from what appeared to be a story teller, she had arrived just in time to listen to a tale. Being on the road, helping people track what they will - be it deer, or a missing item, Eyla always enjoyed the festivities a small town tavern held. Ale, song, story and companionship - just the recipe for a great evening.

She placed her bag under the table. Her bow and bedding was stored with her horse for the evening at the nearby stables.

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Clatter and crash from the taverns upper floor a door bursts open. Listing back and forth a short figure wanders down the stairs. His beard bristles as he shouts, “My ale ran out! Barkeep top me up!” Looking for a decent seat he falls into a barstool slumping against the counter his great axe provides a bit of a clank against his armor as he settles in. 

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1 hour ago, RomyCat said:

Mossbloom gave a faint smile. "Ah, friend, you have been so helpful in the past. You have a knack for getting me out of trouble. I have another lead on acquiring a certain legendary item we both hold in high esteem. " She stirred her foul smelling stew and glanced at the storyteller. "If we find this item, I kept it and return home a hero. My previous crimes forgiven. You can have all the other loot--everything we find. And when the bards sing our tale, you will be a hero. Surely you prefer that status than villain in the stories. Your race needs good publicity, especially in this tense times."

(OOC) I had just put drops in my eyes when I read this and thought your name was Mossbottom.  You must only travel south.  LOL

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"I have no home so what need do I have of trinkets. You should take my advice and leave your past behind. Why do you care so much that your people see you as a hero? "

Nisha glanced over at a drunk as he stumble down the stairs demanding more ale. Being drunk made one an easy target to take out. Hopefully he had no enemies here tonight.

Looking back at Mossbloom, "You know I am not tempted by gold or jewels. So why should I help you?"

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Gnarly looks over at Mossbloom and mutters under his breath "Gourd grief.  They'll let anyone in here."

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Posted (edited)

"Does adventure motivate you? Or challenge?  A tiefling like you might not be up to the challenge after all. It is a holy relic that your people hate while mine idolize its history. I might need to bring others into the adventure. Then the loot will have to be split." Mossbloom  shrugged her shoulders.  "There are others here that might want  to go on a dangerous adventure." 

She glances around the room, noticing it had begun to fill with more occupants. Where they coming for the ale? The food was not worth its price.  Perhaps companionship drew them.

"A tip, friend. Don't order the stew. Its better used to poison an ogre." Mossbloom  leaned closer to the tiefling, understanding why the tiefling kept her horns hidden under the hood.  "Don't worry about bounty hunters my grandfather sent after me. Once I return with the relic, the king will forgive me. After all, I am his beloved granddaughter, known for my pranks. I just took it too far with stealing from the Royal Museum.  Not my fault the ladder tipped and I fell, breaking a thousand year old vase.  I did escape with the Shield of Keenan. I had planned to return it a few days later, proving I was the best rogue in the kingdom. Unfortunately too many were upset about that vase. Why did it have to hold the ashes of an ancient king? Anyway, are you in?"

Edited by RomyCat

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3 hours ago, ElysianPeace said:

Clatter and crash from the taverns upper floor a door bursts open. Listing back and forth a short figure wanders down the stairs. His beard bristles as he shouts, “My ale ran out! Barkeep top me up!” Looking for a decent seat he falls into a barstool slumping against the counter his great axe provides a bit of a clank against his armor as he settles in. 

Gnarly moves over to the empty stool next to the dwarf and plants himself.  He says "No offense, but you appeared to be plowed."

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Raucous laughter bursts from the dwarf! “That’d be a truly miraculous event. Been drinking my weight on ale since I was a wee thing. Has anyone ever told you the one about the two tinker gnomes and the guardian of Khartoum?” Rambling ensues into the obscure, completely unbelievable tale that surely has been changed with every retelling. 

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11 minutes ago, ElysianPeace said:

Raucous laughter bursts from the dwarf! “That’d be a truly miraculous event. Been drinking my weight on ale since I was a wee thing. Has anyone ever told you the one about the two tinker gnomes and the guardian of Khartoum?” Rambling ensues into the obscure, completely unbelievable tale that surely has been changed with every retelling. 

Gnarly winks, buries a snicker, and says "I'm more familiar with garden gnomes.  Tell me about those stinker gnomes."

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The Storyseller pulled his gaze from the fire, and took slowly took stock of the room.  With a twinkle in his eye he remarked, "Ah, you never know what kind of crowd Threshing Eve will draw.  It looks like it's not just farmers drawn to the Sapphire Stag tonight."

He drained his ale, and gave an appreciative nod to Gnarly, then crossed his boots atop a low stool, his chair creaking as his weight shifted. To no one in particular, he began to speak.

"Not many know of the Guardian of Khartoum around these parts.  But as I heard it, that involved not two, but three tinker gnomes.  As my gram's gram used to say, 'One gnome brings baubles, bits, and trinkets; two gnomes bring bubbling brews, whirlybirds, and news from afar; but three gnomes bring naught but mischief and an empty purse."  But, nay, no time for the misadventures of the three tinkers and the Sultan's Golem. "

The Storyseller thumped his mug upon the table at his elbow, once, twice, thrice.  Then he held his talefeather aloft for all to see.  It was a simple raven's feather, bound to a short wooden handle with a well-worn leather grip.  From the grip dangled three beads on a short cord, one of wood, one of bone, and one of iron.  Compared to the ornate talefeathers found in the King's court, rainbow-colored peacock feathers adorned with beads of gold and jewels, it was no sight to behold, but nonetheless it marked the Storyseller as no mere rumormonger, but a true passer of news and knower of many things.

"Gather round, those who care to hear, and let me sell you a story of naming, of deceit, and of forgetting.  Let me tell you, on this fine Threshing Eve, the story of the Sapphire Stag."

"Thirty and three generations ago the world was younger, and brighter, and a little quieter.  There was no Elmsford, no Ledford, no King as we know him now.  The Rhill was there, but perhaps it ran a little faster and a little straighter, and had fewer snags to upset careless ferrymen.  Nay, thirty and three generations ago, the Direwood Forest stretched over this whole region.  From as far as Trent in the north, down past Donling in the south, the woods, not men, owned this land.

Of course, there were knowers of things, even back then, and those among the men who knew things learned to tame the woods, to drive it back in fits and starts, to make way for their farms and hovels.  They were beset upon by all manner of foul beast and daemons, and they grew to fear the Direwood and never strayed far in her depths at night.  It came to pass that seven small towns grew slowly prosperous along the banks of the Rhill, and each Threshing Eve the seven chieftans would gather at the largest village to trade, swear pacts and oaths of protection and friendship.  They swore oaths of blood and of tears and of ancestors long turned to dust.  They slowly beat back the Direwood, grew bolder and stronger, and trade flourished up and down the river.  Until one Threshing Eve only six chieftains arrived for their annual Feast of Oaths, as it had come to be known.  Absent from among them was Dimnir the Curious.

It was said that Dimnir had dwarf blood running in his veins, and it well may have been, for the people of his town were most renowned among the seven for their skill and artisan of all things iron and stone.  Dimnir's town boasted the thickest wall and the longest spears of any of them, and the others regarded it as impregnable.  Thus when Dimnir and his party did not arrive for the Feast of Oaths, the others at first suspected he had met with incident along the Rhill.  They sent their swiftest scouts up either bank, to check for a capsized boat or a stranded group.  The scouts returned from upriver without sight or trace of Dimnir or his clansmen.  Thus, the six chieftains boarded their boats, and with a full complement of fighting oarsmen, traveled upriver to Dimnir's Hall.

When they arrived, the gate stood locked, the walls vacant, and the air sat still and silent.  They knocked, politely at first, then insistently, then attempting to batter down the door.  But Dimnir's Hall was the sturdiest, and the gate would not acquiesce to their entreaties.  Finally, one of their scouts managed to find an almost climbable portion of the wall, and with much difficulty slipped onto the battlement.  He hurried down and opened the gate himself, for there was no one manning the gatehouse.  A search revealed there was no one at all in Dimnir's Hall.  The finest fortification along the Rhill lay abandoned seemingly overnight.  The only trace of the Dimniran was a well-beaten path leading east into the Direwood.

At dawn the next day, the six chieftains set out along the path, bound by blood and tears and ancestral ash to protect and help Dimnir the Curious and his Dimniran, wherever they might be.  They marched until the sun reached its zenith, but still the path wound through the wide spaces between the ancient trees of the Direwood.  They resolved to press on, knowing that each step took them one step further from return before sundown.  They made camp and were beset by all manner of daemons, losing seven warriors in the night.  At first light, they pressed on.

At midday on the second day, the woods broke into a large clearing.  In the center of the clearing was a large hill, evenly sloped and covered in thick verdant grass.  As they entered the clearing, the keenest eye among them swore he saw a shape atop the hill for a brief moment.  The party climbed the hill, remarking on its perfectly even slope.  Atop the hill they discovered a circular stairwell descending down into the inky darkness of the hill.  Resolving to help their kin, bound by the oaths, they entered a great and ancient barrow, deep in the Direwood.

The chieftains and their warriors were surprised to find well-lit chambers and the whole of the Dimniran within the fay crypt.  Dimnir the Curious greeted them with joyous exclamation, and invited them for a feast.  The chieftains were perplexed, they had lost warriors seeking out the Dimniran, and they were seemingly safe and secure in this strange place deep in the Direwood.  They remained cautious and suspicious, and kept their swords and spears close at hand, despite the jovial atmosphere and happy faces of Dimnir and his kin.

Dimnir led them to a great hall deep in the belly of the barrow.  It was as high as a dozen men, and was magnificently adorned with all manner of tapestry and finely woven rug, seemingly unaffected by age or rot.  At the end of the hall sat a round table, surrounded by seven stone chairs.  In front of each chair rested a small cushion with a glittering object resting atop it.  

Dimnir invited his perplexed guests in to sit.  As they drew closer to the table they saw that each chair featured an intricate carving of a different animal, and upon each cushion rested a jeweled ring.  There sat rings featuring: an Onyx Bear, a Ruby Lion, an Emerald Serpent, an Opal Wolf, a Sapphire Stag, a Diamond Eagle, and an Amethyst Hare, all so intricately carved they seemed to dancing and writhe in the shifting torchlight.  Dimnir exclaimed with delight that these were gifts freely given; he himself reached out and placed the Amethyst Hare ring upon his finger.  Each of the other chieftains warily put on a ring, and they felt power coursing through them.  The power felt different to each, but in a scarcely describable way, much as the difference in the way love feels to different hearts.

Invigorated, and feeling more comfortable and confident, the six chieftains sat down with Dimnir in the great barrow hall for a Feast, and deemed it to be a Feast of Oaths.  They swore oaths of blood, of tears, and of ancestors long turned to dust.  They promised to use their power to protect their towns and one another, and to prosper and beat back the daemons and the Direwood together.  They drank and ate and fell into a deep slumber.  It was in the midst of their slumber that Dimnir struck.

He was Curious after all.  Curious to see if he could consume the power of another ring wielded by a strong-willed man.  He could, it seemed, after he felled the chieftain wearing the Opal Wolf.  He felt the power course through him as he crushed the opal into the now-bloody floor.  He moved swiftly, his Dimniran mobbing the rest of the groggy warriors, while Dimnir himself chased down the chieftains.  One by one, he slayed them, crushed their rings, and absorbed their power as their lifeblood drained from their bodies and their eyes grew dim and sightless.  Ruby Lion, Diamond Eagle, Onyx Bear, and Emerald Serpent all ground to fragments beneath his boot.  However, in the midst of the din, one chieftain, who had remained a little more wary than the others, and had drank and ate a little less, and slept a little lighter, sprung off.  Hare chased Stag through the depths of the ancient barrow.  Dimnir's power had grown and the chieftain knew in his heart a fight would be futile.  He made for the spiraling staircase, and ran up and up, until he could see the light of day, smell the sweet fresh air.  He clawed at his hand and threw his ring backward, down into the depths.  Dimnir stopped in his pursuit long enough to recover the Sapphire Stag, and then attempted to chase the chieftain into the daylight.  However, while Dimnir's power had grown, it had also corrupted, and at the faintest kiss of sunlight his flesh began to burn and blister.  Dimnir let out a pained shriek as the chieftain made his way quickly down the slope of the great barrow.

The chieftain was the sole member of the group to return to the banks of the Rhill.  The rest of his kin figured him half mad, but knew better than to chase off into the woods full of daemons and worse in an effort to find the rest of the lost party.  The six villages eventually chose new chieftains, slowly grew, and together they beat back the Direwood in fits and starts.  However, parts of that wood remain wild and unknowable to this day, and men dare not stray too far afield without sturdy iron at their side.  


Of the chieftain who had once held the Sapphire Stag, he spent the rest of his days a hermit in Dimnir's Hall, which slowly fell into disrepair and ruin.  Of course, there is no town by the name Dimnir's Hall anymore, but the world does not easily forget such places.  Some say that the banks of the Rhill have shifted over three and thirty generations, and the ruins must be off deep in the woods.  Others claim that there used to be a ferry crossing called Neershall, several days' travel upriver.  But I have been up and down the Rhill and have never encountered such a crossing myself.  

They say the chieftain remained convinced that as long as he stood safe outside the woods, no member of the Dimniran could catch him and bring him back to the barrow.  That chieftain remained fleet-footed and sharp eyed well into his later years, and while his name is lost to the ages, he embodied the Stag he once held.  That is why these days a stag of sapphire is said to watch over travelers, guests, and those in unfamiliar places.  I reckon it's as good a name for an inn as any, but there are names and then there are the stories behind those names."

The Storyseller sat his talefeather down upon the table and cleared his throat.  

"A story such as that is hard to come by, and leaves a fellow quite hungry and parched, if I do say so myself."

 

  

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"Well, I have to say that I was expecting just some corny tale, but that was quite interesting."  Gnarly takes a long pull of ale and leans over to the dwarf and softly says "It would have been more believable if the bad guy was an elf though."

Gnarly then says out loud "I wonder if that Dimmer Hall is still out there.  It would make a good place to escape to after a long growing season."

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Eyla listened to the tale as she ate of the soup and drank from the ale that was brought to her soon after she entered. It was an intriguing one, as many local tales were. Hearing one of the patrons ponder out loud if the place existed, Eyla too wondered the same.  Though not for the same reason. Mere curiosity. That and something to avoid when taking patrons out hunting. Unless of course they were not suspicious of such a place that could be considered haunted. Superstition and small towns often went hand in hand. Herself, she was not apt to believe in such superstition, but all stories came with a small kernel of truth.

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22 minutes ago, WxCougar said:

Eyla listened to the tale as she ate of the soup and drank from the ale that was brought to her soon after she entered. It was an intriguing one, as many local tales were. Hearing one of the patrons ponder out loud if the place existed, Eyla too wondered the same.  Though not for the same reason. Mere curiosity. That and something to avoid when taking patrons out hunting. Unless of course they were not suspicious of such a place that could be considered haunted. Superstition and small towns often went hand in hand. Herself, she was not apt to believe in such superstition, but all stories came with a small kernel of truth.

I saw what you did there.  😀  And here I thought you didn't like puns.

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7 minutes ago, Barb Bliss said:

I saw what you did there.  😀  And here I thought you didn't like puns.

OOC - I actually have no idea where the pun is - I tend to pun innocently ;).

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, WxCougar said:

OOC - I actually have no idea where the pun is - I tend to pun innocently ;).

OOC - I was talking about thinking the tale may be corny, and you said they all come with a kernel of truth.

Edited by Barb Bliss

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2 minutes ago, Barb Bliss said:

I was talking about thinking the tale may be corny, and you said they all come with a kernel of truth.

OOC - Yup, totally missed that one, lol

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