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Lords of Norwold - East Portage IIby Jeff Daly
This is mostly the way it happened. I have simplified a few things...and removed some extraneous ones. Some of the coincidences in the night made for the best parts! For instance, the brand new lupin character went around sniffing all the patrons that he saw. As odd as it seemed at the time, it came in handy later...
"Well you were certainly right about East Portage, Master Terari," Diego was saying, "Hundreds of taverns, few locals, and mostly foreigners and merchants to be seen."
"Indeed, despite having only 1000 locals, the town is quite full and bustling, is it not?"
Count Diego, Master Terari and Aligorum watched Caine, led by his servant boy, make his way into the hold below. He had begged off watching the ship pull from the docks, due to overwhelming fatigue, he had said.
Aligorum's ears pricked at a sudden whining sound from the docks.
"Oh great," she said unenthusiastically, "Dogboy has returned."
"Hm?" Count Diego turned to look.
There he was. The huge, dog-faced lupin stood upon the docks, looking up at Aligorum and Diego, wringing his paw-like hands and whining.
"Are the shoes finished yet?" Diego asked.
"Let me up! They are going to arrest me!"
Aligorum suggested, "Perhaps it is time for us to shove off."
Count Diego grimaced, then motioned to the lupin to come up the plank. Aligorum shot Diego a look of pure venom.
"What did you do?" Diego asked.
"I didn't do anything!" Sliv whined, "Did you notice the snake-thing, the one from the restaurant?"
At the companions' nod, he continued, "It stood on the street a few blocks away, surrounded by town guards, and it was telling them that its pouch had been switched. It thought I did the deed!"
Count Diego shrugged, "Must have been the other people he was sitting with."
"I did notice his pouch was red when we first entered, and it was blue by the time we left," Aligorum said reluctantly, "But then I thought, 'This is Alphatia!'"
"Well, not to worry, dogboy," Diego said, as he ruffled the lupin's head, "Even Alphatia has laws. They have to prove your guilt. Unless there is some sort of other law...or maybe the law only extends to those with money maybe...or those who cast spells...or natives...or those of a particular religion..."
Sliv's eyes grew huge and round as he listed to the count speculate.
Terari, standing behind Diego, shrugged, "I am heading down to the hold for a drink."
Count Diego said, "Sliv, do you think you can track the black-cloaked men?"
Sliv nodded, looking hopeless.
Aligorum sighed and looked upward, as if beseeching aid from a higher source.
"We will help you recover this pouch and clear your name."
On the way out, the party was attracted by a grinding noise. Following the sound, they discovered great merchant ships being pulled up a ramp and onto huge wooden frames. The frames would be pulled by many men through a track running through the centre of town. The night before, the heroes had wondered what this track represented, since it had a low ditch in the middle and pavement surrounding it. A passer-by, a ship captain in fact, explained to them in a distracted tone, that the ships would be ported to the other side of the Isle of Dawn in a manner that would save a great deal of travel time.
As the three of them watched the ships being pulled, Sliv caught scent of the black-cloaked men. Following the scent trail, they discovered it to lie along the same main road as the one the ships followed. Purchasing 2 horses, the companions raced along the track in pursuit of the thieves. Sliv found it advisable to share Count Diego's mount.
About half a day's ride later, they lost track of the scent. Since the main trail continued in a winding westerly direction, they continued to follow it. Once the sun dipped below the horizon, they came upon a large camp of about 20 men...and a ship, wheels braked to keep it from moving.
Count Diego approached the camp. A robed man came out and met him about halfway.
"What can I do for ye?"
"We are looking for 3 black-cloaked humans and a scantily clad rakasta."
"I saw 4 like that pass by here about an hour ago."
He gestured to the west.
And they were off again. After about a 3 hour ride, Count Diego motioned for Aligorum to stop.
He gestured up a tree.
"What?" Aligorum asked.
"Go up the tree."
"To scout around."
"You go up there."
"I can't see in the dark, kitty."
Aligorum growled in disgust, but complied, her white ear twitching.
Climbing the tree, she saw a dark blob in the sky, some distance away, and a single warm-red form on the ground about a mile back the way they had come.
"That's it!" Count Diego said when she had reported.
As they approached the still form, Diego signed for Aligorum to creep up quietly on the man as he lay there. Sliv started to follow the rakasta, but Diego held him back.
Approaching within 60', Aligorum could tell it was in fact the rakasta who lay upon the ground. He appeared to be sleeping.
Sliv's eyes grew wide, "Diego! I just caught the scent! It's that rakasta!"
"Oh?" Diego asked, unconcerned.
"Don't you think we should go help Aligorum?"
"She'll take care of it."
Aligorum took her spare shirt out of her bag. She rolled it into a ball, and knelt next to the sleeping rakasta. Studying him for a moment, she saw that he was well built and that he was breathing through his nose. Leaning over, she pinched his nose lightly, causing him to open his mouth. She shoved the shirt into his mouth, with all her strength.
The rakasta gave a muffled, choking, yowl and leaped up, thrusting Aligorum away from him.
Aligorum merely looked at him calmly and said, "How did you ditch the two humans?"
"What? Why did you shove that thing on me?"
"Well, I didn't want you crying out," Aligorum's tone was sultry, and she leaned her body to one side.
The other rakasta looked uncertain, "What do you want?"
"Isn't it obvious?"
Just then, Diego and Sliv burst from the bushes. The rakasta hissed and leaped away, to regard them from a distance of about 10'.
"Come on now kitty," Diego said, "This can be painless. We just want some answers."
"Oh this is great!" Aligorum said, "This is just great!"
Sliv looked at her curiously, "You don't trust this guy, do you?"
"Trust isn't the point," she growled.
Diego hid his smirk and addressed the other rakasta, "Where is it?"
"I don't know what you are talking about."
"Yes you do!" Sliv said quickly.
Diego waved him to silence, "The ring. The ring that was stolen from the snake."
"Oh. That." The rakasta shifted, then said casually, "The humans kept it. Look, they paid me to do a job, I did it. End of story."
"Then you wouldn't mind if we searched you?" Diego asked.
The rakasta gritted his teeth, "All right. But no funny stuff."
"I'll search him!" Aligorum volunteered.
The rakasta's look of nervousness increased, "I don't trust her, and I don't want her pawing at me with you two looking on!"
Sliv said, "Well you have no choice!"
Diego waved him to silence, "Very well. Aligorum will search you, and we will turn our backs."
Aligorum approached the rakasta slowly, a slight smile on her feline features. She ran a light pink tongue over her sharp, wicked teeth. The other rakasta looked as if he might bolt at any moment.
She carefully searched him over, seeking in all the appropriate hidden places. Leaning over, she gave his tail a tweak, an nipped him on the ear.
The rakasta took off as fast as he could. Diego and Sliv turned to find Aligorum smiling at them.
"Hey! You let him go! Are you nuts??" Sliv demanded.
"Oh lighten up. He didn't have anything...at least not anything
YOU'D be interested in."
Diego and Sliv exchanged nauseated looks.
Hey, it gets worse when you consider it is my wife who plays Aligorum! Ewwww!
Anyway, that is it for this adventure. I left one part out. The group had been a little slow on picking up on the adventure opportunity provided by the snake. There was another reference to an old man in the tavern speaking to someone about "another blind traveller who had come through East Portage looking for a cure to his blindness. He had been born with no eyes and therefore could not partake of clerical curing." Also, there was an Alphatian flying ship that had landed in the harbour. The group overheard him speaking about some strange flying owl that had been seen in the region.