Smidge's Diary

Entry #78

Well, I guess I can start updating this again now I’m out of the monastery. Not much to add to a diary up there. “woke up, ate breakfast, watched ol’ thunderguts knock a new batch of neophytes arse over elbow, read a dusty old book, went to bed.” It’s not really a compelling read.

But yes though! Out of the monastery, delivering booze, which is a service I didn’t think the monastery offered, and indeed they do not, but I’ll get to that later. Frankly I was just glad of an opportunity to stretch my legs, such as they are. The library up there is amazing but Desmet’s got little patience for people drifting in and out unless they’re bringing supplies. I shouldn’t be too grumpy, They’ve all looked after me since I melted everything I’ve ever known into a 20 foot pit in the street, I’m just glad grandpa owned that whole building. Pretty sure Mrs. Coldlantern next door is never ever going to get that smell out of her washing.

Ugh, digressing, here I am with the opportunity to write a new diary entry for the first time in years and retreading old ground again.

Getting sent out on this job was a definite bolt out of the blue, that’s for sure. There’s me, armful of books, wondering to myself why I keep seeing this “Mordenkainen” name everywhere and the next thing I know I’m a foot off the ground courtesy of The Grasp Of Desmet, I thought I was dead. As I’m dangling there wondering what I did, how bad it was, and how I was going to adapt to a possible new life with only one of each appendage, I manage to notice another face there too. Isfargel. I’ve talked about her in here before. Nice, but extremely shortfused. Not overly surprising, really, there’s probably no good way to find out your great-grandpa was up to a bit of the ol’ rumpy-pumpy with demons, but waking up on your birthday to find out you now are one (or half of one? (Or just… I don’t want to use the word corrupted even in private, Izzy tries really hard to deal with this and she mostly does keep a lid on it. Think of a better word.) That’s probably the worst. And she was way way too old to be effectively abandoned on the temple steps like a newborn.

Digressing again. There’s probably enough information in these diaries on Izzy to make me one of the world’s foremost experts on tieflings just by accident. Heck, just knowing they’re actually called “tieflings” probably puts you in the top thousand.

So, there’s me, hanging by the scruff of the neck, eye to eye with the great booze typhoon himself, somehow managing to comprehend he’s not angry (at me, at least.) and with a loud “pack your shit, you’re goin’ out with Izzy.”, I find myself sat on a pony heading down the mountain in the company of some variety of whiskey in four surprisingly nice barrels, and a grumpy Tiefling who is being more than a little cagey about what’s going on. It was a nice day for a ride down the mountain though, so I didn’t press it. One to deliver to Llanda, one to deliver to Yhilport, then home again. Good enough for me.

Hah, just noticed I called the monastery “home” in the same sentence I mentioned Yhilport. That bridge is definitely burned. Or melted I guess.

We got to the inn about mid-afternoon I think? Llanda’s one of those towns that pretty much happened by accident because the miners needed somewhere to sleep, and because there was a lot to mine it just kept happening. Less a town and more an unfeasibly large village. It’s not a bad place, but you wouldn’t come here for a weekend break or anything. The inn was well kept, although the sign. Gods, the sign. I should definitely try and sketch that up. I don’t even know what the inn’s real name is because of the sign. It looks like the original intent was to draw a unicorn leaping dramatically over a barrel, but, well. Put it this way I wouldn’t drink out of that barrel for all the tea in yhilport.

I wish I could explain the inkeeper’s face when he saw this whiskey, I thought he was going to piddle his little dwarven britches. Apparently not all booze is created equal. He looked like Lady Moon just walked in and started flirting with him. We got a free dram out of the guy though I think he’d have preferred us to decline. It was okay I guess? I’ve never really got the whole whisky thing. Or whiskey. See I can’t even remember which is which.

To say these barrels got attention is an understatement. We couldn’t even get halfway through the frankly excellent stew (note to self; see if you can get that recipe off the inkeeper’s missus) when we got guests for dinner. This guy. This absolute threadstrip. Enzo Mantova. Not a family name I expected to hear again ever. Grandpa and I never really had any dealings with them, but everyone in Yhilport knows who they are and what sort of pies they have fingers in, and even if I didn’t know that, the fact that pretty much the first words out of his mouth were an attempt at some groundwork to lightening our load of whiskey definitely soured me on the guy. I’m glad he didn’t speak gnomish and that Izzy had picked up enough of it over the years in the monastery that I could warn her. Before she became changed she grew up in a rich household so she’s never really had to deal with the sort of person who can get down a corkscrew without touching the sides. I’ve go no idea what he’s doing so far from a paved road but gold dust to gingerbread it’s nothing good. His attempt at patter was interrupted, fortunately.

The next person to interrupt my plans to get on the outside of some stew was a dwarf, who apparently has some sort of supernatural whiskey sense and – the smith bless him – not really much else upstairs. Del Odak. Absolutely, definitely 100% a paladin. You see guys like Delboy at the monastery all the time, Full of holy righteousness and a burning zeal to fix a problem with the world via kicking it very hard in the ear until it stops being a problem. Desmet almost universally throws them out the door. For one thing, it’s not even that kind of order up there. More working on the world via self-improvement than hollering about gods. Dwarves like Del usually hear “that’s not a plan, that’s a goal” before unconsciousness takes them back down the mountain for a little introspection.

He was in the company of a cleric, a human. Ran Soris. I honestly cannot get a read on her. Very quiet but you can tell she’s not missing a thing. For a while I thought she was Del’s special handler or something. Honestly I’ll take a quiet believer over a bookthumper any day of the week. Those are the ones that definitely believe. They keep it inside because it’s for them, not you, and that is fine. It definitely beats listening to “Magic has returned because the gods willed it” again, as though that is an actual answer and not an excuse.

The last interruption to lunch was definitely the most surprising, that’s for sure. Somehow Harley was in town. I haven’t seen that sticky-fingered old fart since grandpa was alive, and he’s here in Llanda? I can see him right now across the room, cramming sausages into his face before we head out to this ruin he’s being very secretive about. I hope it’s more hospitable than the first job he roped us into. Yeah, all of us somehow. Still not sure how that happened. That’s a thing about harley, it’s like trying to have a conversation with a tornado. Sometimes you have no idea what happened until later when he’s left with your gold and you have a countertop full of magical artifacts you didn’t really intend to buy. Even with that though, everything he sold always worked and he never ripped grandpa off. The opposite really. That’s before you got into the stories he told too. They definitely kept me occupied and out from under grandpa’s feet.

Harley somehow managed to talk the whole lot of us into a little light guard duty while he checked out a ruin for loot, I wonder who he sells it to now? Maybe that gnome across town. I’d like to talk to that guy again when he’s not exploding. He gave me a good price on those obsidians, probably just to get me out of the workshop.

So yeah, the job. there we went, two gnomes, a tiefling, a can of dwarf, a human cleric, and a fop trying to breathe through a handkerchief, off on a nice countryside ramble to a ruin, or what seemed like a ruin until it vanished entirely for a second. That even shut harley up. We stopped and stared and wondered what we should do, and apparently the answer to that was “duck”, because spears started coming through this illusory wall. This is all a bit of a blur so forgive me the lack of detail here.

Del, to his credit, had no hesitation and ran straight at the wall. I have no idea if he knew he was going to go straight through it or believed he could just knock half a castle out of the way. Like I said, this is why I don’t really trust the overly religious, but also contrary to what I said, he managed to solve this problem by kicking it in the ear, if rocks can be said to have ears. I couldn’t see what was going on for the illusion, but apparently “there was a rock with a blasphemous symbol on it” so he kicked it and the illusion dropped. I’m still a little agog at this. I wish I could have got a look at this rock but we were a little busy with gnolls. Turned out everyone here was attuned, even Enzo surprisingly, though he spent most of this fight behind a bush. Del impressively hammered a gnoll’s head right off, and I think Izzy was thankful of a little steam venting opportunity, though I don’t think the gnoll whose jawbone she launched across the field was thankful of anything much. I managed to get a gnoll too, though a face full of acid isn’t really a death I’d wish on anything. I don’t remember what happened to the fourth one.

We headed into the cave that was behind the illusion, Enzo complaining about the gnoll poop and the dirt on his shoes and whatever else he could think of as we descended into the ruin beneath. I don’t really know how to put this, it was fulll of skeletons, and then they stood up and started attacking us. Enzo apparently had a small nervous breakdown about this and started yelling about hidden wires and stage shows but a rusty sword across the chest apparently does wonders for the concentration and he pulled his socks up. Once we got over the initial shock the skeletons weren’t really hard to beat, which with hindsight makes sense, there’s not really a lot to reanimate and I suspect the spell that created them was well over a millennium old at this point anyway.

The ruin cleared (still not sure what it was, seemed like a part of something else, but cave-ins had done for the rest of the structure), harley suddenly appeared from wherever he’d been hiding and made a beeline for what appeared to be a pile of junk in the corner, turned out that’s what we were here for, or rather one specific thing in there. Some really old figurine of a female form. Deeefinitely female. I don’t get what was so special about it I mean sure it was a nice piece of jade but definitely not worth this sort of trouble, especially as he was completely ignoring legitimate magical items. Waste not, want not, as the saying goes though. Isfargel managed to grab a backpack that seemed utterly nondescript except for the fact that it looked like it was made yesterday, Enzo found a nice looking dagger, and I got a weird crystal ball that turned out to be a hovering torch. I have some ideas about mountings and focusing devices for this but it’s been a long time since I did any serious tinkering. I need to get some tools first of all and those are decidedly not cheap. Found some gems too, managed to sell those to the aforementioned grumpy gnome. Note to self: see if he has any old tools for sale when we get back

Turned out this had all been a test, but we got paid so it’s fine. Honestly it was nice to see harley again though a drink by the fire would have suited me better. Soon we head out for “the real job”. I hope it’s less, well, undead.


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