A Visit To The Stables
Aldern Foxglove caught up with the party the evening after their investigation of the vault. He had organized the boar hunt within Tickwood to take place in two days. Since none of the heroes owned horses or gear, Aldern insisted that the group meet him at the Goblin Squash Stables the next morning so that he could supply them with horses, saddles, and bits/bridles.
When they arrived at the stables, Daverin Hosk, the stablemaster, greeted them enthusiastically and congratulated them on assisting repel the goblin raid. A retired hunter whose hatred of goblins was near legendary in Sandpoint, Hosk pointed out his collection of goblin ears nailed to the stable’s rafters and informed the party that he would pay a bounty of 5gp for every pair of goblin ears that they brought him. As Shar’el picked out the horses for the group from his stock, she chatted with Daverin, sharing some common facts about goblins.
The day of the hunt arrived, and the foursome saddled their new horses and joined up with Aldern and his three manservants at the White Deer just before noon. The mile-and-a-half ride to Tickwood Forest took just over half an hour. Although Shar’el had deliberately chosen a mild tempered mare for Merrik, his unease at handling a horse required her to frequently come to his assistance. During the journey, Aldern proved a charming conversationalist and relished sharing tales about the high life in Magnimar. His real interest, however, was learning more about his rescuers, most especially Shar’el.
Upon entering Tickwood, Shar’el aided Aldern and his manservants in tracking down signs of a tickwood boar. Although a capable hunter, Aldern’s woodlore proved no match for the young half-elf who grew up in the area, but rather than being resentful, the nobleman praised her skills as she not only found a trail, but was the first to spot the boar. Before the beast could turn and charge, Shar’el pierced it with a pair of arrows. Craiuk and Merrik got off crossbow shots and Tenauc a javelin, none hitting, before dismounting to aid the half-elf. Aldern’s horse reared in the confusion, throwing him from the saddle and causing his manservants to rush to his aid.
Craiuk managed to position himself between Shar’el and the charging boar. The boar gored him badly, but the dwarf managed to score a solid blow with his battleaxe. Merrik infused Tenauc with a touch of destiny as she lept to the dwarf’s aid, striking a near fatal wound to the boar with her greatsword. Dropping her bow, Shar’el closed and dealt the killing blow with her shortsword. While his manservants continued to be distracted with helping Aldern settle his horse, Tenauc cast a healing spell on the seriously injured dwarf, curing most of the damage.
On the journey back to Sandpoint, Aldern was all praise for Shar’el to the point of being dismissive of the others’ contributions. When Aldern suggested using the boar for a feast that evening, Shar’el convinced him the the dinner should be held at the Rusty Dragon. Arriving at the inn, Aldern demonstrated a keen proficiency at skinning and gutting the animal before handing it over to Ameiko to prepare for the dinner.
Trouble At The Rusty Dragon
Ameiko Kaijitsu had the boar prepared with several side dishes by dinner. As the group dined on the feast, their recount of the day’s hunt became wilder and more outlandish with every round of ale and wine. Suddenly, the inn door slammed open as an elderly man stormed in bellowing out a sharp-tongued command in a strange language. Shar’el and all the locals in the establishment immediately recognized the surly gentleman as Laumord Surand, one of Sandpoint’s most well-known nobles with a reputation for wrathful outbursts. The other patrons grew quiet and very interested in their meals as he stalked into the tavern, eyes scanning the room. Annoyed by the unseemly behavior, Aldern stood and challenged the old man to be civil,
“There is no call for bursting in here in a rage!”
The irate nobleman’s eyes immediately turned and locked onto the young noble.
“You mind your place whelp! You may come into this town putting on airs as a gentleman, but the nobility of your bloodline isn’t worth my hounds’ piss!”
As Aldern sunk back into his seat, speechless at the affront, the old man turned his attention and vitriol to the party.
“And what have we here? The heroes of Sandpoint. Societal menaces I say, endangering the lives of our citizens with your ill-concieved antics. A filthy band of vagrants you all are, good for nothing other than attracting even more trouble to this town!”
The insult brought all four comrades to their feet, Shar’el expressing exactly how much value she placed on the words of “an arrogant old fool.” While Tenauc and Merrik failed to defuse Laumord’s rage through either cool intimidation or soothing diplomacy, Craiuk merely threatened “a boot in his ass” if he didn’t mind his tongue.
By this time the shouting in the tavern had attracted Aledae’s attention, and she came rushing from the kitchen, dripping soup ladle still in hand, demanding to know what the “gods forsaken rukus” was all about. Laumord and his daughter immediately launched into a heated argument in their native tongue that culminated in Aledae ordering him out of her inn (albeit with a string of creative and shocking profanity). Enraged, Laumord reached out to grab Aledae by the hair, but she easily dodged the attempt and brained him with her ladle, splattering fish stock and potatoes all over his hair and clothes.
Outraged by Laumord’s behavior, Shar’el pushed him away from Aledae, causing him to trip over a chair. “That’s it, you’re outta here!” declared Crauik. “You have outstayed your welcome.” added Tenauc in agreement as she helped the dwarf drag the fuming nobleman to the door. Before being tossed out, Laumord hurled one final insult to Aledae,
“You’re as dead to me as your mother!”
The cruel barb almost brought Aledae to tears, but she composed herself as Craiuk made good on his threat with a swift kick to Laumord’s backside. Picking up her ladle, she inspected it and pulled a hair out of the mess before declaring to the tavern,
“Looks like I’ll need a well-cleaned ladle now, since jackass stew is not on the menu.”
The resulting cheers and laughter from the patrons brought a genuine smile back to Aledae’s face. Being a close friends for most of their lives, Shar’el knew the story behind Laumord’s final words and followed Aledae to the kitchens to make sure her friend was alright. As Shar’el approached, Aledae quickly tucked the note that she had been reading into her apron. Grateful for her longtime friend’s concern, Aledae assured Shar’el that she was fine.
“I’m sorry you had to be a part of that. They say blood is thicker than water, but I’ve found that true friends are the most valuable relationships. Still, the requests and demands of your kin pull at your heart no matter severed you may believe the ties. But no worries, and tell your friends that they have my thanks as well, and are welcome to stay here at the Rusty Dragon for another week on the house.”
Upon returning to the group and delivering Aledae’s offer, Shar’el found that the altercation had turned Aldern’s mood sour. He soon bid the party a good evening and explained that it was time for him to return to Foxglove Manor and the restoration work that awaited him and that he would be departing Sandpoint on the morrow. Shar’el also declared that she would be heading back home the next morning to begin training her new horse. And so the four comrades turned their attentions to personal pursuits over the next several days.