Three travelers, servants of Ehlonna all, left Myhalas after the small community in the Gnarley Forest had come under attack by brigands bearing symbols of the old cult of Elemental Evil. The half-elf paladin Besilana strove to follow in her mother’s footsteps by protecting the people and lands she called home. The halfling cleric Felicity hoped to see the world outside of the forest temple. The wood elf druid Taliesin was the oldest and most widely traveled of the three, and sought to help the others contain any threat to the natural world.
The party approached the Village of Hommlet, unmounted, poorly equipped and with no large sums of cash. In fact, all they had was what they wore and the few coins that were hidden in purses and pockets. What they did possess in quantity, though, was daring and desire to uncover the source of the recent troubles plaguing the area. Thus the trio had come to Hommlet to learn what they could.
The small community at the crossroads was an unknown quantity. Would outsiders be shunned? Were the reports true? Was the whole community engaged in evil practices? Were the folk here bumpkins, easily duped? Did a curse lay upon those who dared to venture into the lands which were once the Temple’s?
The dusty, rutted road was lined with closely-grown hedges of brambles and shrubs. Here and there it cut through a copse or crossed a rivulet. To either hand, forest and meadow had given way to field and orchard. A small herd of kine grazed nearby, and a distant hill was dotted with stone chimneys with thin plumes of blue smoke rising from them. A road angled west into the hill country, and to either side of the road ahead were barns and buildings – Hommlet at last!
“So this is civilization,” Besilana said, hands on hips.
“Wooooooooowww,” said Felicity, wide-eyed and looking around excitedly. Besilana moved a hand to her halfling friend’s shoulder in a reassuring gesture. Felicity zipped back behind the half-elf’s legs to the other side to get a different vantage point. Workers labored in the fields south of the road, mostly moving stones hither and yon at the behest of some fellow who must be in charge. “This place looks so different from the temple!” exclaimed Felicity.
Besilana nodded. “Let’s see if we can find anyone who might be able to help us.” Felicity excitedly began to move ahead. The half-elf broke into a jog just to keep up.
“I’ll catch up,” Taliesin called, eyeing something at the treeline. He saw that his companions had hardly noticed him, and chuckled to himself before moving to inspect what had caught his attention.
Farmers tended to their fields farther to the west, as mid-afternoon arrived without flourish. The pair passed a stonemason, what appeared to be a carpenter, and a large manor house as they made their way toward the center of town. The manor house had an eight foot high stone wall and a heavy gate. It was obviously the residence of some well-to-do folk, and easily defensible in times of trouble.
Staring at the manor house, Felicity said, “How could someone do that to those trees!?! It’s one thing to cultivate your home from a tree, but to carve it, how barbaric!”
“It’s the way of humans, Felicity,” said Besilana, her tone suggesting “whaddayagonnado?”
Next they came upon a smithy. Horseshoes were nailed to three faces of the post in front of the shed, and within sat a forge and bellows. A short but brawny man was vigorously pounding away at a piece of red-hot iron. Besilana slowed to watch him for a moment longer than she meant to.
“So that’s how that works…” Felicity trailed off getting distracted by the workings of the smithy.
They looked across the road and saw the most vibrant bit of local color. The square wooden sign showed a buxom and smiling girl holding a flagon of beer. It must be the Inn of the Welcome Wench, a place renowned for its good food and excellent drink. According to what the young ladies had heard of the establishment, passing merchants made a point of stopping, as did many other sorts of wayfarers. It was said that the place was always filled with patrons.
“That sign has big… uhhhhhh” Felicity looked down at herself and back up at the sign. “Is that important? Why is that something to display on a sign? Besi?”
Besilana paused for a beat before responding. “Let’s go ask them…? I have a handful of coins.” Felicity nodded and skipped into the building.
There were ten patrons within, and as they entered, they were greeted by a gregarious balding fellow. “Welcome to the Wench, ladies. Goodman Ostler Gundigoot at yer service! Please, find a table and one of my girls will be with you presently.”
“You don’t look like the lady in the sign!” Felicity exclaimed.
“And thank the Fates for that, young miss!” His barrel chest shook as he laughed heartily.
Felicity smiled at him, looked around for a table, and hurried to it excitedly. Besilana followed the halfling, looking around at all the different sorts of folks. Felicity sat in an overly tall chair and began to swing her legs underneath her like a human child. The sight brought a smile to the paladin as she sat beside her small friend.
A smirking human diced with a beefy sellsword and a small, thin Bakluni. A couple of farmhands seemed to be taking a break over a pint. A robed fellow sat in a dim corner, reading one of several books before him by candlelight. The pair drew a few briefly interested glances from the other patrons, before the latter returned to their business. Felicity looks around the room at them with a wide grin.
A blushing potboy brushed a few crumbs off the adventurers’ table, and ducked his head in quick, awkward bow, sparing a somewhat wide-eyed gawk for each of them. “Hi!” said Felicity to the potboy, giving him an innocent wave. Besilana maintained her smile for the boy. He doesn’t quite squeak at the greeting, and then quickly scurried away. “Bye!” said the halfling, waving again.
“This is exciting,” Besilana told her friend in a stage whisper.
A young woman who more closely resembled the one depicted in the sign outside sauntered up to their table with a smile. She had red, curly hair, dimpled cheeks, and freckles for days. “What can I get for you lovely ladies?”
Felicity stared a little. “Ooooooohhhhh, I get it! You’re pretty! Can I have a cup of apple nectar? Please?”
“I. Uh.” Besilana’s hands clutched at the air like she’s trying to catch what she’s going to say. “Um, what do you have? Do you have mead?”
The wench smiles at Felicity, then nodded to Besilana. “Of course, darlin’.”
“Then mead, please. And thank you. Please and thank you.”
Felicity winced and stuck her tongue out. “Mead tastes like sour fruit and makes your head go cloudy.”
Taliesin entered the Wench and spotted his companions speaking with the barmaid. He made his way over and took a seat beside Besilana. “Ale for me, please.”
The wench took in the bearded new arrival with a leisurely appraising gaze. “Rugged.” Her teeth clicked. “Ale comin’ right up.” She sauntered away to fetch their drinks.
He nodded at her departing figure then turned toward the halfling. “I believe that’s the point, Felicity.”
“What’s the point, Taliesin? Sour fruit? Blech.”
“Cloudy heads,” he clarified.
Besilana shook her head, speaking to herself. “I … I froze up. Why did I freeze up? That was strange.” She shook her head again.
“She was pretty!” said Felicity.
“She said we were lovely and she didn’t freeze up…” the half-elf protested. “Though you’re right, Felicity. She was. Is."
Taliesin nodded. “Everything is very new. I’m unsure of myself too. And yes, she was very pretty.”
The smirking man laughed out loud over something happening in his dice game. Felicity got up and headed toward his table. "Oh, what is funny?”
The smirking man grinned down at her. “Luck favoring me, little one.” His companions looked less enthusiastic.
“Wha’cha doooooin?” asked Felicity.
He held out a pair of carved bone dice. “Care to play?”
“YEAH!” She peered up onto the table jumped a little to get a brief better view of the table.
“Welcome to the game,” he said, pulling another chair over. "I am Furnok of Ferd. These fine fellows are Kobort and Turuko. What shall we call you?"
“I’m Felicity! Nice to meet you Furn… Furnok of Ferd.” she nodded excitedly to the others “Kobort and Turuko.” Kobort smiled then, but it looked mean somehow. Turuko’s thin-lipped smile was somehow oily. The halfling quirked her eyebrow for a moment and slowly smiled back, trying to mimic their expressions. “So how do we play?”
“Fe-li-ci-ty,” Furnok enunciated. “I will facilitate.” He grinned at what he must consider to be wordplay. “Copper, Silver, or Gold, luv?”
“Uhhhhhh, silver?” She put a silver on the table.
“Silver! Gentlemen?” The other players anted up, and so did Furnok.
While Felicity was being instructed in the fine art of gambling, Besilana asked, “Taliesin, do you see anyone here who might be able to help us?”
“I wonder if there is a shrine of Ehlonna nearby. That would be a good place to start. I’ll go ask the barkeep.”
Ostler welcomed Taliesin with the same enthusiasm he had showered on the girls and scooped the ale off the wench’s serving tray to hand to him at the bar. “Thank you for the ale. It is not something I often have the opportunity to enjoy. Might I also bother you for some information about the village?”
“Of course, my fey friend! Of course! What would you know of our fair village?”
“Are there any places of worship for us followers of Ehlonna?”
“Ehlonna? Not nearby, no. The folk hereabouts who do not follow the Old Faith tend to attend mass at the Church of St. Cuthbert.”
“Hmm…. Well, then who would you recommend I go to for information? We are looking for the whereabouts of a priest of Ehlonna named Eiravain.”
“Hrm. Perhaps Jaroo would know. He’s with the Druid Circle in the Gnarley, and if I remember my religion, Ehlonna is at least friendly with that bunch, aye?”
“Ehlonna is friendly with all good folk. And I appreciate the information. Would you know where Jaroo tends to shelter around here?”
Ostler nodded. “Certainly, certainly. His grove can be found behind the leather worker’s shop, just across the road, there.” He pointed out the front windows of the Wench.
“Thank you again. I had a feeling you were a wise owl.” Taliesin handed Ostler a silver. The innkeeper accepted it with a wink and knuckled his mustache in quiet salute.
While the elf engaged the innkeeper, the wench sauntered over to the table where the paladin sat alone, delivering the mead and offering the half-elf a solicitous smile. Besilana accepted her beverage with a shy smile.
“Anything to eat, luv?” asked the wench with smoldering eyes.
“Yyyyes,” Besilana said, only figuring out halfway through the single syllable that maybe this is about something other than food. “Bread and a bit of cheese, perhaps?”
The wench glanced lazily toward Felicity at the gamblers’ table and Taliesin at the bar. Then her eyes returned to Besilana’s and she said, “Will your … friends … be wanting anything?”
“I expect so. Felicity always eats like the world’s about to end. Could we get a platter’s worth of bread and cheese?”
The wench quirked an eyebrow. “Of course.” Her hips were magic as she walks away, and Besilana contemplated her emotions in the wake of her encounter with the sultry serving girl.
The wench dropped Felicity’s cider off at her new table where the halfling – against odds – seemed to be winning the dice game. Furnok was cheering her on. Felicity giggled at her minute understanding that she’s winning and let out a gloriously musical laugh.
Kobort and Turuko’s expressions were somewhat venomous as they excused themselves from the table. “Awwwww. Bye!” she called out after them. The thin man in robes looked up as they passed, apparently surprised to see newcomers.
Felicity looked to Furnok. “I should probably get to my other friends too! Here, you can have my share, I just was having fun!” She shoved her won silver over to him.
Furnok smiled as she left. “As you say, cutie.” Then he called out to the robed fellow. “Spugnoir! Care to dice?”
The young man in the corner appeared affronted. “I most certainly would not.” Furnok chuckled.
Besilana’s ruminations were interrupted when her companions returned to the table. “Taliesin! Felicity! Welcome back,” she said a bit too brightly.
“That was fun!” said the halfling.
The druid kindly let her reaction pass without comment. “We are in luck. There is a druid in the area that should have some knowledge.”
“Excellent. Are you hungry? I have some bread and cheese coming.”
“I might be a bit more adventurous and order something more … local. We are in this for the new experiences, are we not?”
As if on cue, the wench seemed to materialize beside the elf. “Izzat right, honey? Tell Darla what you’d like to snack on.”
“Well … what’s on the menu?” If Taliesin had picked up on the flirting, he wasn’t showing it.
Darla rattled off a number of venison and rabbit-based local fare. She recommended anything with mushrooms. “The venison sounds interesting. I’ll have some of that for now, thank you.” The wench left to fetch food.
Furnok stood and made to leave. Stopping by Felicity’s chair he leaned in and whispered something to her. The priestess blushed for a second and then waved to him and said, “Okay!” before turning back to her friends.
“It looks like you did well for yourself,” said Besilana.
“I did have fun! It was so fun! But it was just for fun. I let them keep their losses, it would feel wrong to take their hard-earned coin.”
“Very kind of you,” said Taliesin. “We are definitely birds today. It’s exciting.”
“I like being a bird!” said Felicity, as the meal arrived. “OH! FOOD!” The halfling dug in heartily.
The druid smiled fondly at her. “Birds soar through the sky representing the limitless freedom and potential available to us if we release our fears. Taking off to fly for the first time can be scary and bring about feelings of fear. Without taking the risk of the first flight, we won’t find the internal freedom we desire. We must dare to take our feet off the ground, spread our wings and soar.”
“That’s well said, cousin,” Besilana said.
Felicity swallowed and washes some bread down with a bit of cider. “Ohhh, that’s pretty. You are like a … bird with your words, making the words flow like a song.” She smiled and took another bite.
Taliesin’s meat dish was brought out, but Darla didsn’t spare him a second glance. She only had eyes for Besilana.
“Oh! Hi pretty lady!” said Felicity. “You look like you could be a bird too!” With awe in her eyes, she added, “A beautiful bird, with pretty red feathers.” After a beat, she added, “YOU COULD BE A ROBIN!”
Darla smiled at that, quirking an eyebrow. “A bird, you say? I’ve always thought of myself as more of a cat.” She clicked her teeth again, then turned to stroll away once more. Whatever Besilana was working on saying died on the vine.
Felicity watched her wide-eyed as she walked away, then suddenly turned to Besilana. “But cats eat birds! And we’re birds!” The halfling’s voice dropped to a low whisper. “Does she want to eat us???”
“I think there might be an extra fee for that, Felicity,” deadpanned Taliesin. “But hey, we are birds tonight so anything is possible.”
Besilana shook herself then replied to the halfling’s question. “What if I’m a hawk? A cat might think twice about trying to eat a hawk.”
Felicity turned her gaze back to the waitress and muttered to herself, “But she walks like a cat … a bouncy cat … springy paws.” Then she looked up at Besilana and smiled. “I don’t want to be a hawk. Can I be a finch? They are ever so happy!” Then she turned to Taliesin. “I like being birds.” With that, she returned to her meal.
Taliesin brought them back to the task at hand. “We could go speak to Jaroo after we eat if you like. I’ve heard the name before and I’m sure he’d be happy to speaking with Ehlonna’s blessed.”
“I feel that would be best,” said Besilana. Between bites, she added, “Depending on how things go with Jaroo, we may have to come back here to get rooms for the night.”
Felicity nodded enthusiastically. “I like that idea, Mr. Furnok wanted me to join him for dinner tonight if we were around. He was ever so nice.”
“Not a bad idea,” said Taliesin. “I was planning on sleeping out of town a bit, but I’m sure this would be comfortable as well.” That decided, they finished their meal, paid, and exited the Welcome Wench. Besilana kept glancing back over her shoulder at the inn as they crossed the square.
“Guys? Do you think if we had food that walked would it be bad to eat it?” Clearly, Felicity had been following one of her odd little tangents in her head. Besilana considered her answer so carefully that they’d arrived at the grove before she could voice it.
The space behind the leatherworker’s shop was obviously a place of worship. The trees were neatly pruned, and the grass was well tended. A carefully placed line of bluish stones set off the path leading to a rock cairn where flowers, nuts, berries, and garlands of leaves were placed. A small path led beyond the shrine to a low-roofed wooden building placed under the great boughs of the central oaks of the copse.
“Beautiful,” said Besilana.
“Ehlonna be praised,” agreed Felicity.
Taliesin looks for signs of Jaroo, but none were readily apparent. The young druid considered the cottage.
“I hope he’s home,” said Besilana.
Taliesin nodded. “Let’s find out.” He opened the door and stepped inside, with his companions on his heels.
A perturbed looking elven man sat within, giving the group a look that clearly said: “I know you didn’t just walk into my HOUSE.”
Felicity ducked between Besilana’s legs and around Taliesin before stopping short at Jaroo’s expression. “Oh… Sorry…” she said, taking a slow step backwards to nest behind the paladin’s legs. Besilana stood her ground – it was not an unfamiliar position.
“May I … help you in some way?” asked the elf in a deep basso voice.
“My apologies, sir. We are new to village customs. Might you be Jaroo?”
The elder elf lets the “village customs” line slide. “I might. Who might you be?”
“The name is Taliesin Eveningfall. These are Besilana and Felicity Sprigleaf.”
“Charmed,” Jaroo deadpanned.
“I’m Felicity,” the halfling clarified, “priestess of Ehlonna of the temple Myhalas.”
“Myhalas, you say. What brings you out of the Gnarley?” asked Jaroo.
“We left Myhalas in search of another of the temple,” said Taliesin. “The Priestess Eiravain.”
Jaroo inclined his head slightly. “I am acquainted with Eiravain. I had not heard of her arriving in Hommlet. What drew her out of her shrine?”
“We were raided,” said Besilana. “They had an unfamiliar symbol.” The half-elf opened her journal to show Jaroo the sketch of it that she made. The elder druid frowned thoughtfully as he examined the page. “Eiravain went to investigate it and never came back…” Her tone was oddly flat.
“I’m really sorry Mr. Jaroo,” said Felicity. “It’s really important we find her. I’m so sorry we ran into your tree. She was coming out to investigate some happenings outside of the wood, this was the best we could figure. Can you help us? Please?” She gave him her best puppy-dog expression.
Jaroo spared the halfling a neutral glance, before addressing the group. “This symbol is one used by the cult of Elemental Evil. Clearly you know enough of its history to link the cult to Hommlet. Since I have not heard of Eiravain’s arrival here, I assume she has been … detained.”
Felicity gave a little gasp. “I sure hope not.”
Jaroo ignored the interruption and added, “A raid…. That is brazen.”
Besilana nodded. “The High Priestess must have made that connection, but why would she seek them out herself?”
“I could not say. We have heard rumors about town, but nothing could be substantiated as being linked to the cult. If they are once more operational, a logical first step would be to investigate the Moathouse.”
“Point the way. If Eiravain is in their hands there is no time to waste,” said Taliesin.
“I agree.” Felicity nodded enthusiastically
“Your bravery does you credit,” said Jaroo, “but it would serve not your cause to arrive there in the night if the cult is indeed entrenched therein.”
“So you mean we should wait for sun-up to try to find these ne’er-do-wells,” said Felicity.
“Was this Moathouse one of their former strongholds, during their first rise to power?” asked Besilana.
Jaroo inclined his head. “It was, and has been a sometime refuge of scofflaws in the times between the cult’s occupation.”
“That may give us a chance to ask around, get some idea of what we might expect to find therein,” said Besilana.
Felicity looked forlorn at the thought of waiting, but then her expression became chipper once more. “Well, at least then we can have dinner and talk with the people some more. Then breakfast before setting out.”
Jaroo nodded. “You might be best served by the daylight, yes. A chance to observe the Moathouse keep from afar. Get the lay of the land.”
“‘Til the morning, then,” said Taliesin. “Thank you, Jaroo. That gives us a lead.”
Felicity said, “Yes! Thank you! Sorry for barging into your lovely home!”
“Godspeed, my young friends. I will attend to things here.” The elder druid frowned again, lost in thought. Before they left, he cleared his throat and indicated a small offering bowl near the door.
“Oh! Oh! Yes!” Felicity looked into her pouch. “Huh! Well here are 3 silver!” Besilana placed her single remaining gold piece in the bowl. Taliesin also threw a gold piece into the offering bowl. Jaroo looked somewhat askance at the meager offering, but he held his tongue. Not noticing the druid’s disapproving expression, Felicity said, “Ehlonna’s blessing unto you and your home!”
Outside once more, Taliesin said, “I’d like to do a bit of investigation into this Moathouse. I might have a way to learn something without traveling there tonight. Why don’t the two of you meet with the church. I want to try something else.”
“All right,” said Besilana. “Meet you back at the inn?”
“I don’t expect to be long.”
The adventurers parted ways temporarily, with the paladin and cleric making their way toward the church. Besilana sang one of Ehlonna’s wanderer songs along the way. North past the village hall, a weaver, a tailor, and even a money changer and a trader’s shop, they found the Church of St. Cuthbert. It was a large, stone structure that squatted atop the hill.
A few parishioners were near the church, and a young priest was talking to them. He saw the adventurers approach and waved enthusiastically. Felicity excitedly waved back, matching his enthusiasm. He excused himself from the locals he’d been speaking with and engaged the advetnturers.
“Welcome, travelers, to Hommlet’s church of St. Cuthbert. I am Brother Calmert.”
“Hail, Brother Calmert,” said Besilana.
“Fog, Madame.” He chortled a little at his weather joke.
“Hello, Brother Calmert! I’m Felicity Sprigleaf, Sister of Ehlonna! Pleasure to meet you!”
“And I am Besilana,” said the half-elf.
“What brings you to our parish today?” asked Calmert.
“We’re here to find out about any strange happenings in the area,” Felicity explained. “We’re searching for a priestess of our temple who has gone missing.”
“As this is the only temple in the area, you are not of our congregation, and I know of no missing priestess, I’d say these happenings must be strange indeed.”
“We’ve come from the Gnarley Forest, yes,” said Besilana.
“We are of the shrine of Myhalas,” added Felicity.
“That explains the ears,” Calmert said cheerfully.
Felicity immediately touched her ears. “Oh? You like my ears? I like your ears!” Besilana half-consciously touched one of her own ears.
“Hm? Oh, well, they are very nice ears as ears go, I should say.”
“Thank you!” said the halfling.
“What is this missing priestess’s name, dear ladies?”
“Eiravain,” said Besilana. “We now have reason to believe that her disappearance is connected to the Temple of Elemental Evil.”
Calmert’s face fell. “Oh, dear. That is grave news. I have not heard the name around town, I’m afraid.”
“I would imagine since we seem odd to be here that her arrival would be something to notice huh?” asked Felicity.
“Aye, indeed. Not a lot of the fair or wee folk here in Hommlet.”
She looked to Besilana and giggled. “He called me wee.”
“Though I dare say you qualify as one of the fair wee folk, Miss Felicity.”
Felicity giggled again and puffed her chest out a little. “Thank you!”
“If you’d like to make a tithe, I will have the congregation pray for her safe recovery, however.” He put on his best used cart salesman smile.
“Oh yes! Prayers from the righteous are always welcome, I’m sure we can spare some tithe.” She absentmindedly pulled a coin from her purse and handed it to him.
“May St. Cuthbert’s retribution strike down any who have cause or would consider causing you and yours any pain and suffering,” Calmert said sincerely.
“Thank you very much Calmert!” exclaimed Felicity. “May Ehlonna bless you with life and abundance as well! I suppose we will take your leave for now.”
He offered St. Cuthbert’s knuckles for a fist bump, and the adventurers gamely obliged.
* * *
Meanwhile, Taliesin headed a little way out of town and looked for an animal that might have knowledge of the area. He found a bird, cast a simple spell to facilitate communication with the winged beast and held out a handful of berries to entice it to speak with him. “Peace, little one. I am a friend, and have berries for you.”
The bird tilted its head this way and that before hopping closer to inspect the offering. “You big bird! No feathers? Poor other bird. Good berries,” it said rapidly. The bird snagged a berry and then another, settling in.
“My friend, I’d like to know what you see when you spend time near what we call the Moathouse.” He gave a description of what he knew of the area. “Can you tell me what kinds of creatures spend time there and how many?”
“Stone man nest in water has mans. Not flock, but not one,” said the bird.
“They are men, like the ones in the village? Or a little different?”
“Mans are mans. Mans have flying beaks. Kill birds. Kill beasts. Nest in stone water nest.”
“I understand. Thank you. If you happen to fly in that area before tomorrow noon and learn more about them, you will get twice the berries if you come back to tell me. I will be traveling in that direction.”
“No fly near stone water nest now. Before, but not now. Keep berries, no flying bird.”
Taliesin dropped some more berries and then said farewell to the bird.
* * *
The adventurers reconvened at the inn. More folks than before were present in the main room. Many of them appeared to be farmers or other laborers. Furnok had a table already and invited the trio to join him, even though he mainly looked at Felicity. Some other well-muscled warrior was digging into a turkey leg near the hearth. Spugnoir was reading by candlelight in his corner. Of Kobort and Turuko, there was no sign.
“Do you want Furnok to yourself, Felictiy?” Besilana asked at the door, while Taliesin saw to procuring rooms and stowing traveling stuff in them.
“For myself? No, he’s friendly but I was hoping we could all sit with him a bit.” She leaned toward her friend. “I want you with me, Besi!”
“Then by all means, lead on.”’
“Awesome!” She took the half-elf by the hand and led her to the table gleefully. “Mr. Furnok! These are my friends Besi and Taliesin!” The half-elf smiled, and the druid nodded.
“A pleasure to make your acquaintances,” said Furnok. “Sit, sit! I’ve got a fruit tray coming over and then more roast venison and mushrooms than I could reasonably eat myself.”
“Pleased to meet you,” said Besilana. “And that sounds perfect.”
Felicity beamed at Furnok as she climbed into a seat beside him. “Thank you!”
Furnok started in on the small talk, asking the group what brought them to town, listening politely and expressing proper concern for their missing friend and mentor.
“Oh yes, it’s terrible,” said Felicity. “She raised me from a wee… Well, I’m wee now, the priest told me so, and he called me fair which was nice of him and it made me happy… Oh yes, from a wee child and I would see her safe.”
“Oh, you look far too sweet to be a ‘wee child’,” he grinned.
“Is there much treasure to be found in Hommet?” asked Taliesin. “Other than in the church offering bins, I mean.”
Furnok laughed out loud at that. “That’s so true, isn’t it? Eh, I’ve managed to fleece a few locals and passers-through out of a handful of coins playing knucklebones, but…. The thing is, I like to gamble, and though it’s said as a curse word by many a peasant, I think that the biggest scores come from being an adventure. THAT is high-risk, high-reward.”
“Oh that game was fun!” said Felicity.
“Is that what we’re doing?” said Besilana. “Adventuring? I suppose it could be called that.”
Furnok nodded. “Striking out into the unknown into potential danger for the sake of a friend? Could be, Bes. Could be.”
“I believe for us it is more out of necessity,” said Taliesin. “And duty.”
“Well that’s damned decent of you, and no mistake,” said Furnok.
Felicity looked thoughtful and began to trail off. “Well, we are pitting ourselves to a quest that will bring us danger and excitement and that certainly is an identifying mark of an adventure so that would make us adventurers at least temporarily, but we’re doing this not for treasure which is not very adventurous of us, should we be looking for treasures as well?”
“There is one treasure I hope to find,” Besilana said. “I don’t know that it could have found its way to the moathouse, but anything’s posssible.”
Felicity looked up at the half-elf. “OH YEAH! We’re totally adventurers then!” She bobbed her head happily.
“Well, if ye don’t want to trouble yerself with the treasure seeking, I do know a fella who’d be willing to take that burden from ya.” He winked at Felicity.
“Are you saying you would like a part of adventure in order to gain treasure with us?” the halfling asked.
“More’n a few ne’er-do-wells hereabouts, unless I miss my mark. And adventuring is dangerous business, as we have established. I can’t in good faith hold my peace any more. No, I have decided. As you have a duty to your friend, I feel I have a duty to you to help you in your quest.”
“That’s very kind of you, Furnok,” said Besilana, looking at him sideways. She got the impression that he wanted to go and meant them no harm. More than anything, it seemed like he wanted a chance to make more time with Felicity … and possibly herself.
“You aren’t indebted to me to be sure…” Felicity looked to the paladin for a moment. “If my friends are favorable toward the notion then I am indeed happy to have the help!”
“Another bird then!” said Taliesin. “I wonder though if you are an eagle … or a vulture. I look forward to finding out.”
“OH! More like a magpie I think! Or a crow!” said Felicity.
“I confess, your story moved me,” said Furnok. “And I have a particular weakness for pretty faces.” His eyes flicked between the ladies and a brief, exploratory glance at Taliesin, before settling back on Felicity.
Felicity blushed and whispered to the half-elf. “He called me pretty! He called you pretty!”
“Then it seems to be settled,” said Besilana, nodding in understanding. “We’re planning on setting out at first light.”