Diamond Cascade and the Second Quest for a Quiet Night In

Nightall 30: Bird

Do I have to mention the stupid talking bird? Yes I suppose I do. What is it about me that attracts every bizarre misfit? You know, I thought Elfboy was bad enough but now he’s gone and I’ve got The Gnome and Elfboy II traipsing around at my heels and now this? A talking bird. A parrot, it seems, who was once a pet of a wizard and ended up being able to think and talk. It is a truly annoying creature, but one with possibly many uses. It might, for example, annoy various hangers-on into buggering off and leaving me alone – perhaps it’s just a matter of stamina, to see which of us can tolerate it for the longest before we crack. Or else, if it could somehow be persuaded to be in any way useful, a talking bird might be a valuable ally as a spy. If nothing else, I suppose it would keep starvation at bay for a day or two. Anyway…

Nightall 30: Neverrest, City of Friends

Foul thievery! Arriving at the great metropolis of Neverrest, Diamond Cascade and his comrades befriended another fellow traveller, a jovial and generous chap of dwarvish nature, only to discover that he was nothing but a foul thief and had stolen the message that had been entrusted to them. Nor was this the only thievery afoot, for the great priests of Tyr had finally brought to justice the master criminal responsible for the theft of the Golden Scales of Tyr, only to have him escape from under their very noses in their very own dungeon!

The search for these thieves within the city led to a wonderful re-union with Diamond Cascade’s old friend and alchemist Norch, whom he’d last seen at the Fat Cockerel. All were delighted to renew their friendship and to know that old friends prospered. Diamond Cascade could honestly say that he’d missed the little man.

Yes indeed, welcome to Neverrest, city of gouging. Last time I was here, this was a happy-go-lucky trading city where the money came and went as easily as the whores. Now it’s got religion. Priests of Tyr have pretty much taken over the place as far as I can see, and what’s their idea of justice? Gouging everyone who comes to the city gates with this tax and that tax and the other tax. And then some tax. I’m amazed they don’t have a tax on paying tax, but I’m scared to mention this in case it turns out that actually they do. So we’re queuing up at the gates to get fleeced along with everyone else and I’m still thinking this isn’t so bad, I’ve got plenty of gold in my pockets, I can stand a winter of this and be drinking and whoring until spring before I’m flat broke again. And yeah, there’s this dwarf and we start talking to him and we end up drinking with him in the Silver Dragon and hey, look, I’m singing songs and raising a crowd and doing my thing and the innkeeper is pretty and giving me the eye and then this arsehole dwarf turns out to have nicked our letters. Nicking them off Shifty, which ought to have been no mean feat.

I guess I should come clean about the letters. There’s not just one, there’s two. Shifty had one to deliver to his master in the north and that’s what the shenanigans under the table was back in The Fat Cockerel. I’ve known about this for a while, because Shifty happens to mention it as soon as we get the one from Klengerford. We have no idea what either of them say, but that’s not for want of trying. Have we opened them? Course we have, and they’re blank. No magic, no nothing. Not a sausage. So I’ve fixed up the seals with a little trick I learned up on North Horn Ridge and we figured on delivering them anyway. Except now we can’t. The only thing I can come up with is that they’re written in invisible ink, and since I reckon mister thieving-bastard dwarf is having the same troubles with them as we were, that’s the first place to be looking. We don’t find any dwarves, but we do find plenty of alchemists and one of them is our old friend Norch. I guess I didn’t ever have too much against Norch, and now I don’t have to put up with him every waking hour, and have The Gnome and Elfboy II to put up with instead, well… But missed him? Yeah, maybe. Once. With a crossbow.

Nightall 30: The Thief of Tyr

Unable to bring the dwarvish message-thief to the swift justice he deserved, Diamond Cascade and his friends presented themselves to the great temple of Tyr and to the noble priests who defend the cause of justice through the world. At once he was taken straight to the grand priest Brother Grythan. The thief who has stolen these letters must be found, says the great priest, for nothing less than the fate of the whole island depends on it. What could this message be that carries such weight? Naturally, Diamond Cascade swore to dedicate his every effort immediately and at once to apprehending this wicked fellow.

Diamond Cascade was also aghast to discover that the supposed thief of the Scale of Tyr who had escaped was, in fact, perhaps not the real thief at all but merely some deranged dupe who had taken to claiming it was him for the ‘prestige’ it would bring to him and never mind the headsman’s axe that would surely follow. Not only this, but the true thief, the real foul genius mastermind of this notorious crime, it seems was none other the Brother Grythan’s own brother! Diamond Cascade offered to pursue this wicked fellow, but Brother Grythan politely declined this generous offer noting that his brother was ‘best left buried’ and so is perhaps now dead. After so long, it would seem that even the priests of justice would prefer simply to have their scales back. Naturally Diamond Cascade vowed that he would search for both the scales and the thief during his travels.

Oh. Shit. Big. Fucking. Shit. So, yes, this master-thief, the one who stole the Scales of Tyr. What in the name of the nine hells do I do? I mean, I know he didn’t do it, so what the fuck? Some halfgit who used to leave calling cards after he swiped stuff. Anyone leave a calling card after the Scales of Tyr went a-wander? I don’t think so. It’s kind of a relief that the daft tit has escaped, because if he hadn’t, I guess I’d have watched him hang knowing that it wasn’t true. Knowing it wasn’t true and knowing that Grythan knew it wasn’t true. Not sure which would have been worse. Amazed that Grythan didn’t recognise me too. Or maybe he did, maybe he just didn’t say anything. Strange thing is, this is something I actually really do want to put right. I mean if I could, I would. I’d even go out of my way to do it. I just don’t have the first idea where to start.

If there’s any consolation to be taken from this big sorry mess, at least the general belief that nicking the Scales caused the the Time of Troubles that followed isn’t shared by the priests. Fat lot of use that’ll do the thief, if ever anyone catches him.

He isn’t kidding about getting that dwarf though. We get a sack of platinum out of him and that’s just a down-payment. Dwarf stew coming up!

Nightall 30: Knights of Torm

Having undertaken to quest for the Priests of Tyr, Diamond Cascade was delighted to discover that his quarters in the Silver Dragon were now home to a group of knights from Osmuld, noble warriors of Torm and Helm with whom Diamond Cascade had fought in the wars of the previous years, side by side against the vile orcish hordes; delight that could only be matched by his dismay at hearing that the dead had begun to rise from their graves in this valiant kingdom. Without hesitation, Diamond Cascade swore to travel there and join his former comrades-in-arms in their fight against darkness as soon as his quest for the Priests of Try was done. Most peculiarly, the knights at first mistook one of Diamond Cascade’s comrades for one Master Corren, a missing nobleman from Osmuld, third nephew to Lord Ostmar no less, who was last seen heading for the High Peak of the dwarves to be an ambassador for his king there. Of course, this cannot be and much hilarity ensues from such an entertaining case of mistaken identity, leaving Diamond Cascade with many new and valuable friends. Diamond Cascade’s newest comrade in arms, the valiant elf Tiarth, was particularly overjoyed with this coming together of noble purpose, as his own quest takes him to the lands of Osmuld and the north in search of some fell beast so dire he cannot bring himself to even speak its name.

Or say what it looks like. Or sounds like. Or smells like. Or does. As even the knights of Torm observe, Tiarth is a right jerk. Thing with Stalker fits his story though. There’s an opportunity here, a real big one. Right after we get this dwarf shitbag thief and get the other half of our money from the priests of Tyr. Right after.

Nightall 30: To Catch a Thief!

Without pause for breath, Diamond Cascade and his comrades set upon the trail of the foul dwarf Durmijeron. Few dwarves resided in Neverrest and so the trail is easily followed, and Diamond Cascade soon learned that this Durmijeron is a known villain, a wicked and cold-hearted killer who had been seen leaving the city on foot and heading north that very morning for the ruined tower a days ride to the north that the black-heart called his home.

I have a horse now. I’ve never had a horse. No, that’s not true. I used to have a horse a very, very long time ago. And then all that shit happened and I didn’t have a horse any more. Not for a long time. I’m not sure I even rode on a horse again after Gammersbridge. And now I have a horse of my own. A good, trained war-horse. Makes me feel like I’ve arrived somewhere. This is a special day, a coming-of-age moment somehow. I might have felt even better about it if The Gnome hadn’t bought herself a war-pony at the same time, put pink ribbons in its mane and called it Princess.

Hammer 1: DIE, DIMWIT, DIE

With a mere day’s start and travelling on foot in the winter snows, this Durmijeron’s fate was sure to be both certain and swift. It came as no surprise, then, when a gang of ne’er-do-wells slipped into the Silver Dragon over breakfast and barred the door and set upon separating Diamond Cascade’s head from his body! Naturally they failed and met a swift and final end for their troubles. Not wanting to leave the blameless keeper of the Silver Dragon with her business in ruins, with swift vigour, Diamond Cascade and his noble friends repaired what damage they could before leaving the matter and the few remaining survivors in the hands of the noble warriors of Torm and Helm and set off with all haste and vigour to find the renegade villain Durmijeron.

Boldly and valiantly, Diamond Cascade and his hearty crew sallied forth from the comforts of the great city of Neverrest and into the freezing winter snows. As the cold light of the sun began to fade, the hideous silhouette of the dark tower rose from the horizon. Without thought for their own safety, Diamond Cascade and his friends strode into its dark shadows and in to the murky depths of the old dungeons that still lay beneath the shattered stone. The fiendish Durmijeron had laid many a trap to guard his lair, but these did not daunt Diamond Cascade’s brave quest for justice and were quickly overcome and the beastly fellow and his gang were soon cornered. It quickly became clear that the dwarf was possessed by some foolish madness, believing himself to be a part of some great conspiracy that reached across the island. Perhaps they thought they would be safe when their HIDEOUS STONE GUARDIAN attacked and were doubtless dismayed when Diamond Cascade SHATTERED IT WITH ONE MIGHTY BLOW of his enchanted sword. Or perhaps they thought their MONSTROUS GELATINOUS MASS would thwart such heroes before it burned in magical fire. Dismayed and knowing they had no escape, this gang of villains threw themselves upon Diamond Cascade and his comrades. They were no match for Diamond Cascade’s swordsmanship, but – horror of horrors – in the madness of throwing away their lives they gave the wicked dwarf a moment of respite and with foul magic the wicked fellow vanished and made his escape. All was not in vain, for a band of brigands now lay dead at Diamond Cascade’s feet and one letter was found among their paltry loot; yet the dwarf himself had evaded the justice he so ripely deserved and so Diamond Cascade’s quest would go on!

Score again! Alright, alright, I was a little bleary that morning on account of having spent most of the night attending to the insatiable desires of Arbelloa, our delectable innkeeper hostess. Yeah, the fight did actually happen but I pretty much sat it out, since they were after Stalker for some reason and not the rest of us, and frankly he seemed to be quite capable of taking care of himself. I think maybe the only person I hit was The Gnome who got a punch in the face for threatening Arbelloa. I don’t know where The Gnome gets her ideas.

Of course, the Torm/Helm show arrived after Stalker and Tiarth (largely) had scattered body parts across the Silver Dragon. Maybe it’s worth knowing that the men who attacked us were armed with saps, like they wanted to take Stalker alive and ask him some questions somewhere in private later. Who knows, maybe they would have let him go again. Anyway, they have saps, which don’t generally leave a great big bloody mess behind them, while Tiarth and Stalker have great-swords, which generally, um… do. Oh and not forgetting that Tiarth is blind and can’t tell friend from foe. You want to get into a fight when one of your allies is a blind guy swinging a six-foot blade about the place? Particularly in a confined space filled with furniture, I hope it’s pretty clear why I sat this one out. Yeah, and I was keeping half an eye on Arbelloa in case anyone got any ideas. Anyway, so the Torm/Helm show arrive to see body parts and blood pretty much everywhere and Stalker and Tairth drenched in gore and they’re not best keen on letting anyone leave, and even I can see their point. I mean it’s not like we couldn’t have kicked their asses in a slightly less making-a-mess-all-over-my-girlfriend-for-the-night’s-inn kind of way. Bloody inconsiderate, like most sword-slingers. So we’re all waiting for the guard to arrive to sort everything out and we get to trying to tidy up the mess as much as anything for something to do. I don’t quite know why Wolfgirl and The Gnome felt it necessary to strip down to their underwear to scrub the floor, but it made the Torm/Helm show somewhat uncomfortable, which was amusing enough, and Wolfgirl is certainly easy on the eye that way. Good legs. Comes from all that walking I guess. Anyway, I’m not minding watching all this at all while I cast a few Mending cantrips where I can. Naturally the guard show up and tell us we can’t go anywhere, which means we can’t leave the city and chase the dumbass dwarf which is something we’ve been tasked to do by the priests of Tyr which means the guard can take their control order or whatever it is and use it as a butt-plug. Takes an hour to sort that out though and we’ve already cleaned up as much of the mess as we can clean. Obviously the thing to do when kicking your heels with a bunch of tight-arsed paladins around is to settle down next to them with a deck of cards and a bottle of lamp oil and start playing strip-poker. I don’t know – maybe all that floor scrubbing was somehow a turn-on for the girls. Anyway, I’m not going to say no to Wolfgirl because she’s pretty enough that I’d like to see more. It’s kind of disturbing, but ever since the business down with the Green Dragon hatchling, I kind of have this fascination with The Gnome too. I keep wondering what she really does look like naked.

Yeah. Well. Takes about fifteen minutes and I know exactly what she looks like naked. And with lamp-oil all over her. I need to get better at cheating at cards, too. They keep catching me. Anyway, seems to me this is a most excellent way to pass the time, far better than chasing off after dumbass dwarves. Sadly we get our letter allowing us passage out of the city before I can get Wolfgirl down to her birthday suit. Ah well, next time.

So we get to the tower. Don’t quite know how we know that’s where the blasted dwarf is going to be, but Shifty seems to reckon that’s where he hangs out, and Shifty probably knows about that sort of thing better than any of the rest of us. If nothing else, it’s getting late and it’s as good a place to stop as any. The tower itself isn’t much – a few broken walls and a lot of tumbled stone, but we find the trapdoor down to the dungeons quick enough when Stalker falls through it and lands on the pit of spikes underneath. Lucky for him he wears a lot of metal. By some fluke we find most of the rest of the traps without walking into them and even the ones we find by setting them off we manage not to set off multiple times. Progress!

I don’t know whether we might have made more progress with the dwarf. He ranted on at some length about dragons and the ‘coppers’ and the ‘greens’ and how we are ‘pawns’ (sad but true) and how he was a ‘bishop’ (sorry – bishops have daft-looking hats, not daft-looking beards. Nul points, dwarf) but frankly none of it made much sense and eventually Stalker just laid into them for something to do (or possibly because this was the dwarf who clocked him round the head with a war-hammer and left him so pretty-looking; Stalker claims this is the case, but for all I know this is bullshit. Stalker can be a lying bastard when he wants to be, as we were all about to find out…). Ah, they had it coming, him and his bad-smelling cave-man friend and their dog-faced cohort. Pity he managed to teleport away, really (isn’t there a clue here? The dwarf teleported away. Didn’t occur to me at the time, but later it strikes me that teleporting away isn’t a particularly mundane thing to do). I suppose the interesting part, aside from the room whose walls were embedded with gems were a stack of books that Shifty found. Not that Shifty can read them, but I can. We don’t find much else. Tunnels leading into the underdark (no thanks), and Stalker manages to find a shit-monster living in an underground cesspit and for some reason decides to jump in and have at the thing instead of leaving well alone. He smelled pretty bad under all that metal what with the several weeks worth of stale sweat; now he smells rich enough to set dogs howling all the way to Osmuld. And we get to find out that he’s a lying bastard too. Thieving git found himself a magic wand at some point and refuses to admit it. Hello? It’s called Detect Magic, dimwit? You think I trust you or any of the rest of them to ‘fess up to what they find about the place? Takes days before he admits what he’s got.

Damn dwarf got away but not before he threw one of the letters at us. Shifty reckons it was the letter for his master, but I say that since they were both the same, we might as well go back and give it to the priests of Tyr because they’ll give us MONEY for it. Down-payment, dudes. That’s what Grythan said. Or maybe it was the dwarf himself he was wanting. Can’t remember. Wasn’t listening. Too busy thinking about, er, other stuff.

Also, I’m not quite sure I want to see that particular brother again in a hurry. My heart says maybe I should, but my head says run, run away. Either way, it’s getting dark and Wolfgirl and The Gnome reckon they know an inn around these parts. Must be a new inn because I’ve never seen one. And that, my friends, is where the fun truly began…


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