“A Long Night in Longbridle”
5 Imbolc, 2020au
Shard of Salazar
/ Shard of Delarius
Riding hard for Longbridle, the Bordermen made their way across the Spine of the Dragon Trail, breaking pace only to grab some needed rest for themselves and their mounts. After three days, they reached the old city, it’s short stone foundation walls and towering palisades a welcome sign of respite ahead.
Their first stop was at Earp’s Stable, where, after much haggling, they were able to store Arthur and Edmund’s mounts, and exchange their commandeered wagon and draft horses for a stout riding horse for Byron. With their gear stored in the stalls alongside their horses, they set out, on Kyle Earp’s recommendation, for the Dragon’s Spine Inn.
A stableboy’s discovery, however, held them at the stable a bit longer. Hidden inside the wagon was a small lockbox, two quality blades crafted in the forges of Somerfort, and several pouches. As Earp had already purchased the wagon, he drove a hard bargain to release the gear, eventually doing so at what he thought was great profit.
Heading on to the Inn, the three Bordermen enter the bustling establishment, rent a room on the second floor, and have ales and venison stew delivered while they attempted to crack open the lockbox liberated from the Whitemane Emissary’s wagon.
Unable to pick the lock, Byron and his friends took a break as their meal was delivered. Noticing the servant girl’s interest in the box, Fletcher made his way downstairs to question her, eventually telling her of their entire sordid adventure.
She shared that she had seen the lockbox in the possession of Paice, whom she was quite fond of. Sir Gaines, on the other hand, she was not. She recommended that he visit with Paice’s friends, in the room next to theirs. Byron thanked her and made his way upstairs, noticing interested looks from a party of monks sitting nearby.
Gathering Edmund, the two made their way to the neighboring room where they were met by Hakmet ibn Damar and his brother, Morren, two merchants from Crescentar, far to the South. From Hakmet they learned he was aware of Paice’s true identity, sharing this after noticing the family resemblance between Edmund and his uncle, Galen Stewart. They had met years before, during one of the ill-fated Crusades of the Quintarum Empire into Crescentian lands.
Galen’s mission was to replace Paice and infiltrate Whitemane. With Paice killed, Hakmet and Galen found themselves at odds, dueling on the cruel desert sands, when they fell into a great pit, discovering a lost fortress to an ancient dragon worshiped as a god. They only survived by trusting each other and they became as blood brothers.
Meanwhile, Arthur was confronted by a thief attempting to steal the lockbox. Rolling deftly into the room, the thief snatched the lockbox, trading blows with the Hawkmoor noble. Edmund, hearing the noise, raced in to aid his compatriot, stabbing the rogue in the throat with his spear.
Investigating the thief’s corpse, they found a curious necklace and a key… a key that fit the lockbox! Hakmet came in and identified the necklace — it being a symbol of the Thornstar Collective, a thieves guild out of Kalibyne. “Always four there are,” he said. “Three masters and an apprentice.” He looked gravely into their eyes. “If the apprentice should fail, the other three would not.”
Opening the lockbox, they discovered numerous treasures, the most important being two moonstones that Hakmet recognized as treasures from the dragon’s lair. As the Crescentian returned to his room, the Bordermen debated what to do with the thief’s body.
While Edmund and Arthur took care of the body and cleaned the room, Byron kept watch downstairs. The servant girl drew his attention to three cutthroats on the balcony. They came down the stairs and surrounded Fletcher, offering him a deal — the Bordermen give up the lockbox and the Collective would not kill them.
Taking it under advisement, Byron returned to his room, noticing he was being followed by one of the monks that had been watching him earlier. Fletcher went to Hakmet’s room instead of his own, attempting a deception that we will have to wait until next week to see if it pays off.
to be continued