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Heroes of Mystara - Chapter 18

by Jesper Andersen

The tribune's offer

Tserdain 17th, Felmont, the Year 1000 After Crowning

They were all sitting at the All Night Long having dinner when Ikaros informed them that he had to wait a week for a chance to meet Zajimarn.

'So how are you going to handle it, if doesn't feel like bargaining for the staff?' Petja asked.

'Well, first off I'll try and trade it for a term of service of some kind. But the real ace up my sleeve is that there is an angry ghost on my side. I doubt it very much that the Honor Island mages would care to become the victims of an angry ghost haunting their island no matter how powerful they are', Ikaros said.

'Well, let us toast to it never having to come to that', Thaminor said and raised his goblet. He had become quite fond of the local wine.

None of them noticed a hooded face staring at them through a window from the dark alley outside...

**************************************** *

He was busy shopping at the morning market in the centre of town. Mustn't forget to buy those buttons for Wya's dress today he muttered to himself as he went along. He came to a stall where a vendor was peddling goods.

'Good morning fine sir! Please, have a look at my fine wares!' the vendor said.

He was in a hurry, so he just replied: 'I am looking for buttons, do you have any?'

'No, I am afraid not but I have something else that I am sure will strike the master's fancy' the shabby vendor said intriguingly.

'Well, I really don't have the time...' he began, but the vendor drew forth an elegant box of wood with fine carvings on the lid.

'Please sir, look inside. I am sure you will like this'.

He was just about to turn away when the vendor opened the lid. His eyes caught a glimpse of what was inside and he froze. Hypnotised, he just stood there and stared deeper and deeper into the box, deeper and deeper into the box... Then all was darkness.

**************************************** **

'Wow! That was really a great breakfast!'

Nothing would cheer up Whitemane as quickly as a meal or a fight. This morning he had just eaten five pancakes, a half chicken, two loaves of bread, a plate of poi and washed it all down with two pints of sweet beer.

The rest of the party nodded and sat back in their chairs around the table at the Serpent's Eye. Petja stretched and yawned. 'So, what the heck are we going to do here for an entire week, Eveil?' he asked.

'Well, we can take a boat down the coast and just relax or you can go hunting in the jungles. There isn't as much big game here as on Safari Island, but it can still get... interesting'.

'Safari Island, huh? What's that?' Wulfgar asked.

'Well, Safari Island is the second largest island in Ierendi. It has been set up as a national reserve where animals and monsters can live protected from man'.

'Monsters? Protected from man? What kind of nonsense is that?' Whitemane exclaimed.

'It's true' Eveil continued. 'The government has set up a zone covering most of the island except the coast in which large game - even monsters such as hydras and dinosaurs - can live. If you pay a fee you can then get a licence to go hunting in the reserves'.

'Hunting, huh?' Wulfgar said and took a swig of his brew.

'Sure' Eveil said. 'And it's no picnic either, believe me. There are all kinds of nasty snakes and other creepy things living in those jungles and swamps. Most of the customers are wealthy landowners from other countries, who'd like to have a dinosaur trophy on their wall. They come with servants and guards and bearers and clappers and dog trainers and go on big game hunts that last three or four weeks before they come back'.

'So, nobody is allowed to hunt or even be in the reserves without a license?' Petja asked.

'Nobody. Unless you have a local guide or a license it is off limits' Eveil replied. 'But hunting isn't the only thing that goes on there. There are also so-called adventure parks'.

'Adventure parks? Heh! What are they?' Whitemane asked.

'Well, it all began in 974 AC when a warrior named Gastenoo Longblade and a wizard named Simon Saint-Pierre established the first one and within a couple of years there were a dozen more. An adventure park combines a series of mental and physical challenges into a storyline with some sort of quest the participants have to solve'.

'But how?' Petja inquired.

'I don't know exactly, but I suppose they have to solve puzzles, cross gorges, climb walls, read treasure maps and stuff like that'.

'No fighting? That's pathetic!' Whitemane snorted.

'I have heard of some adventure parks that also include more dangerous things such as fighting weak monsters and avoiding traps, but customers generally prefer the non-lethal ones. It's like a vacation for them - something to test their mettle without actually endangering them'.

'That sounds weak! Where is the glory and heroism of adventure if you never risk a thing?' Wulfgar asked.

'Well', Eveil said, 'most of the customers are sons of noble families in e.g. Thyatis who just come here for a good time. They are not looking to risk anything but just to blow off steam in between semesters at the Imperial Academy or Collegium Arcanum'.

Hmm Petja thought, interesting. That would be a great opportunity if one were ever inclined to kidnap a senator's son...

Just then, a messenger from the palace walked in. He looked around for a few seconds then headed towards their table. When he reached it, he introduced himself:

'Greetings! My name is Amos and I am a royal messenger. I bring word to you from his lordship Facas Silversail, tribune of the Department of Internal Affairs'.

With those words he placed a sealed scroll in the outstretched hand of Petja, bowed and left.

Petja unfolded the scroll and read aloud for the others:

"Dear Sirs! On behalf of the Kingdom I request your services in a matter of outmost urgency! Attached is a map showing the way to the village of Punaauia at the foot of the Ierendi Uplands. For years the villagers have worked the local quarry to make stones for the many fine villas built in the hills by wealthy citizens. But now I am afraid the miners have stumbled upon something at the roots of the mountains - some dark unknown horror. Several miners are missing and you are the only ones I can turn to in this hour of need to rescue them! Please, go to Punaauia at once. Upon the completion of this mission I will pay each member of your group the sum of 500 geleva.

Sincerely and respectfully,

Lord Facas Silversail
Tribune of Internal Affairs".

'Well, that certainly got things going' Wulfgar said cheerfully. Looks like we wont have to sit on our hands all week anyway'.

They quickly studied the map and agreed that the journey to Punaauia could be done in a day and a half on horseback. Petja went out to buy them all fresh horses and gear and the others went upstairs to pack their equipment.

Two hours later they all rode out of the city's west gate following the road to the Uplands on the map.

Next time: On the road to Punaauia