Dale reached down from behind Zephyr to lift him up. He could feel a heavy cloth binding under the bard’s shirt as he reached around under his arms to lift the young man. With a start, he realized the bard had breasts. “You’re a girl!” he shouted as he dropped Zephyr back on his….er….her rear end.
Lucien stalked his way over to Zephyr. He had little tolerance for anyone lying to him and determined to find out why he she had been hiding her real identity from the group. When he began firing questions at the bard, she promptly burst into tears, refusing to answer anything.
The halfling searched around for an exit, but kept coming back to the small platform. He looked over the design carved into the floor to see if he could figure out anything from it. Dale joined him in searching the platform. He stood on the design, looking for some sign of how to activate it. When D.W. looked at the steps again, he spotted musical notes on them. A theory popped into his head.
“Hey guys, I think I know how to get out” he told the others. “Remember the four statues? A rogue, a wizard, a fighter, and a bard? We encountered a trap requiring a rogue to disable it. The wand was the answer to the next room. I think it stood for the wizard. Then the creatures required a fighter. This must be the bard room. I bet the bard needs to play the notes on the steps.”
Lucien insisted the bard try her woodwind. She folded her arms in a pout and refused to move until he reached down for her ocarina. He told her if she refused to do it, he would try. She snatched it away from him as she told him that he was not to touch her instrument. At that point, the rogue withdrew his sword and told her if she couldn’t play her part, then she was of no use to him.
With a gleam in her eye, the bard stood up and smiled at Lucien. She walked over to the steps and looked at the notes. First she played the notes going left to right, but nothing happened. Then she tried playing them backwards with no change in the platform. Finally, she played them going down one side, then down the other. The design on the platform finally lit up and Dale, who had been standing on it, vanished. With a smirk, Zephyr raced to the transporter and disappeared from sight. The glow disappeared immediately after. With a snarl, Lucien raced up to the platform, but it was too late. The device was inactive again.
Dale found himself not far from the ruins where they had started the sage’s dungeon. Zephyr appeared beside him seconds later. She looked him right in the eye, then with a laugh, kicked him in the groin before racing off with a laugh. He tried to grab her, but wasn’t able to as he doubled over. As he stood waiting for the pain to pass, he could hear Anya calling Lucien’s name from the direction of the ruins. He shouted a greeting to her.
After a few moments, the halfling had another idea. He decided to try whistling the tune he’d heard Zephyr play and sure enough, the transportation device lit up again. The remaining members of the group all mimicked him and left the room the same way.
I was standing on the ruins puzzling over the rope when I heard Dale call out to me. As I headed over to him, I saw D.W., Valda, and Lucien each appear next to him. Dale told everyone that Zephyr had taken off. It was very clear that the males in the party were furious about the bard. I didn’t know who the female was or why she had such a vacant expression.
As we walked back to Thelamar, Dale and Lucien relayed everything that had happened in the dungeon. I was not surprised at Lucien being upset. It sounded like the group still had not learned to work as a team. Then again, the party members were not getting along well, so how could they?
We went to the local tavern and found a table large enough for our group. Dale sat down, but appeared agitated. He looked over at us with an unhappy expression upon his face. Nearly being felled so easily by the creatures in the sage’s dungeon had made him realize he was not as fully trained for adventuring as he would have liked. He had decided to go back to his mentor and train some more until he was truly ready.
As he finished speaking to us, he stood up and shook my hand saying he hoped to run into me again in his travels. He shook D.W.’s hand next, complimenting him on his archery skills. When he turned to Lucien, he solemnly told him he hoped to work with him again. Dale pointedly ignored the druid as she stretched out her hand toward him. I guess he had not found her to be a “pleasure”.
It was then I decided to tell Lucien and D.W. my reason for coming to Thelamar. While it was partially due to wanting to see Lucien again (can you blame me?), there was more to it. I had been with other advenuring parties but that had not worked out. I did not give them details, nor did they ask. I was still looking for the right group for me. Since I liked D.W. and Lucien, I was hoping they would accept me as a member.
I guess I should not have been so worried. The two of them welcomed me to the group, saying they could use my help and would appreciate my company.
After a short while, a young man came into the tavern and looked around. His eyes narrowed on Valda and he walked up to her.
“Are you Valda?” he asked.
He rolled his eyes as her speech seemed to confirm something for him. “I need to speak with you a moment. Alone.”
“Ummm, okay” she answered, then followed him over to a quiet area of the tavern.
We watched him speaking to her. Valda opened and closed her mouth several times without speaking. Finally, she nodded and walked back over to us. She mumbled something about having to leave, then vacated the tavern.
As the stranger started back toward the door, I called him over to us. I smiled at him and asked what he was doing around here. A grin stretched across his face as he recognized me as well. With a smile, I introduced him to D.W. and Lucien.
“This is Kael Liadon. He is a druid. I have run into him in my travels. He runs messages for druidic sects in this region.”
Kael gladly shook hands with the males and accepted their offer to join him. Of course, we asked what was with Valda leaving. Kael hesitated a moment over whether it was considered confidential or not.
“Let’s just say, she hasn’t exactly been acting like a proper druid should and some of the higher ups want to discuss that with her” was all he would tell us. It was enough to get Lucien and D.W. laughing.
Kael told them he could not stay too long as he was interested in finding out what the hobgoblins he’d seen nearby were up to. D.W. got a crazed look on his face and he demanded that we go after them. As Lucien reminded D.W., they still had to go see the sage about the rook. Reluctantly, D.W. agreed. I needed to pick up some travel supplies and told them I would meet them back here. Lucien told Kael they would be gone five minutes, so he said he wait there for them.
As soon as the sage saw the halfling and rogue, he immediately poured two cups of his special tea for them. He insisted they drink of it and watched them intently as they did so. Lucien was unable to stomach it. He spat it on the sage’s table. D.W. swallowed his in one gulp without issue. He handed the rook to the sage who glanced at it, then tossed it over his shoulder.
His throat still burning from the tea, Lucien reminded the old man of his promise to tell them of the expedition once they completed his task. The sage gave him a look as if put out by the request, then pulled out his tome. He muttered a bit as he flipped through the pages until he found what he was looking for.
“Ah yes, now I remember” he spoke softly as he tapped the page. “Everyone was looking over in Mossglove for caverns, thinking it had to be hidden there. Or they were searching in the Farthenvale Woods for some ancient ruins that held a hidden portal” he said quietly, as if to himself. “I think it was elsewhere. I am almost certain it was the Quiotton Quarry that Salvus took his team to. Yes, it has to be.”
As if remembering something, the sage went back to shouting his words again. He insisted that completing that one small task did not mean they were prepared to take on the search for the expedition. Many had tried, never to return again. He shook his finger at them as he went on to tell of some of the gruesome endings adventuring parties had met.
By the time D.W. and Lucien had returned to the tavern, over an hour had passed. Kael raised an eyebrow at them as they entered the building. He was impatient to get going. I had just returned and caught the same look from the druid, which was amusing at best. As a group, we were finally ready to go.