The morning was warm and clear, except for a range of clouds that hung above the southern horizon, over the Simbar Mountains. The view looked like seeing double, the grey peaks on the horizon, and the grey clouds above them. Any rain to come would not fall on the Delvers, for today they were to leave home, to travel to Merrin.
At the request of Lady Radalia, the Delvers were to go to The Free City of Merrin in order to follow up on a lead in the investigation of the attempted murder of the Lady. The Delvers had two clues in hand, a bronze emblem inscribed with a dagger dripping blood, and a dagger with the initials M.J. etched just below the hilt.
After a filling meal at the Silver Lake Tavern, the Delvers headed to the causeway and left town. Upon arriving on the far end, the Delvers were met by Lady Radalia, herself, also dressed for travel. After a warm smile and a quick greeting, the Lady informed the group that she was going to leave town to elude her hunters, and to remove the focus of this threat from Shap. She passed a slip of paper to Dick, with the word “Avarra” written on it. And to Unulith the Lady gave a family heirloom, an elaborate knot-ring, as a token of thanks. After saying their farewells, the Delvers started off down the road east, in the rising heat of the day.
The sojourn was uneventful, until the Delvers reached the crossroads of the Gold Road. As the group turned north onto the Gold Road, a massive viper slipped out of the grass and struck at Termina. The fight was short, as the serpent was quickly dispatched, but Termina bore a throbbing wound on the leg. Meg determined the wound was poisoned, and soon Termina’s strength was sapped. From here the journey would be slower, but fortunately, the Lion and the Lamb was not far up the road; an inn where the group could rest and recover.
After recuperating at the inn for a few hours, the Delvers resumed their journey to Merrin. However, not far up the road, orcs waited in ambush. As the party passed a rocky rise in the ground, six marauding orcs attacked. Arrows and spells flew, but the fight quickly came to an end. All the orcs lay dead, but unfortunately Unulith lay unconscious in the tall grass with an arrow in his chest. The Delvers came prepared, and used some of their healing potions to patch the elf up, so they could quickly resume their travels.
As the day drew on, and the Delvers drew nearer and nearer to Merrin, the sky grew more and more grey. Just as the soreness from travel grew in Meg’s stumpy collagenated legs to be unbearable, the party climbed the last hill before arriving at the city. At the foot of the hill the group found a rotting corpse in the road, rats chewing at the fingers and face. After quickly dispatching the large aggressive rats, Meg determined that the man had died from an overdose of some narcotic. The group looted the body and sure enough found evidence of such substances, but then the Delvers proceeded on to the city gates.
Once inside the city walls, they decided to find the blacksmith, Maxwell Jarlian. Meg turned to a city guardsman, and asked for directions to the smith’s shop. Unfortunately, the Merrin watchman was not cooperative, and the group only got a hand wave toward the direction of the smith. So, after about an hour of searching the group finally found Maxwell’s shop. Master Jarlian recognized his work when the group displayed the dagger, but said he had made many daggers of that quality throughout the years, and so just about anyone could have bought it. When the Delvers asked about the other clue, the emblem, Maxwell could not offer any help except to visit Vora Bostik, the owner of a local pawnshop.
They found Vora’s Emporium quickly, as they had good directions, and went inside to find a husky but friendly middle aged woman tending to store business. The Delvers spent a few minutes looking around at the wares, but soon got to the real reason for their visit. Richard showed the emblem to Vora, who took it in hand to examine it. She turned it over in hand a few times then flipped it into the air and caught it, looking at the group with a thoughtful expression. With a sigh, Miss Bostik went to the storefront door to lock up, and then asked the Delvers to stay for a drink, motioning them through a curtain to her back rooms.
With the manners of a good host, Vora made tea for her guests, and then joined them at her long dining table to discuss the matter of the mysterious emblem. Vora explained the emblem is a signet carried by a local assassin guild, called the Black Blades. Someone must have hired the guild to murder Lady Radalia, but who? As to that, Vora could not help; she had never heard of Elissa Radalia before. There must be some reason to have Lady Radalia dead, but what? Only further investigation will provide the answer. Vora did know of a lead for the Delvers; she spoke of a man at the Mermaid’s Kiss that knew much of the Black Blades, and could perhaps lead the Delvers to them. Before the group left her home, Vora stressed that the Black Blades are a dangerous bunch, and should not be lightly trifled with.
May Rayne’s Luck be with them as they travel the road ahead…