A Second Departure

I set to work immediately on devising a cure for our affliction. It took me most of the day to extract and purify the solution from the soil, but eventually I was able to make a weak serum. I went to gather up my team, and in about an hour we sat down to drink the foul-tasting potions. The dreams were clearly taking their toll on us; Winfrey was acting more lucid than normal, Allister had gone and picked up a Gnome slave by the name of Oscar. Clare was acting outlandish and perverse in ways which I do not wish to speak of.

We took turns quaffing our vials of the potion, which tasted strongly of feet. We felt slightly better, but it was apparent that we had not been completely cured. Just then, a small package slipped through the mail slot of the Pub. I cautiously went to retrieve it, and read the attached note aloud, trying to hold back my rage.

“Well done Wilward.

If you are reading this then no doubt you are still alive and have successfully stalled the poison’s effect, and for that, I congratulate you. I expect great things from you and your company, and I expect results soon.

Do not attempt to run from this. I am more powerful than you can imagine. My power comes to rival the demon that you banished in Ha-Mun-Rah, and I am not so gullible so do not try anything, and you will live to see my rule, and maybe even beyond that if you are lucky.

As a reward for making it this far, I bestow upon each of you a boon. In case you hadn’t noticed, Wilward, take a closer look at the ring.

I will not be giving you information directly, that would be making this too easy for you and your goonies. Therefore, I will leave you with this one clue and the ace of diamonds:

The answer lies with a Royal Flush.

Your lord and Master, Varsuviux."

I was appalled. This Varsivius was going to make us do his dirty work, and for what? That question would have to wait. Varsivius had given each of us a playing card and a magic ring. The rings were, as he had hinted in the note, very powerful boons, but also enchanted with a tracking spell. He would be able to follow us if we wore them.

My playing card was the Ace of Diamonds. Clare had the King of Diamonds, Winfrey the Queen of Diamonds, and Allister the Jack of Diamonds. If the answer were to lie in a royal flush, we would need to find the ten of Diamonds. Each playing card also had an address scribbled on it, marking various locations throughout Ashan.

With heavy hearts, we began to prepare for our journey. Our afternoon progressed in a dull, demoralized haze, until our tranquility was broken by the sound of cannons. We rushed outside to see what was the matter, and saw a suspiciously pirate-looking ship being docked in the harbor, firing blanks out of its cannons. The crew looked like it needed a drink, so we opened the door to the Pub.

They strolled in, and we did our best to fill orders for vast amounts of alcohol. Winfrey seemed to disappear while Allister and Clare served drinks and got into fights. We were making a lot of money, which managed to put my spirits in a good mood. I even got on stage and twanged out a couple of tunes on my Lute, being backed by the more musically talented of the Pirate crew.

It wasn’t until the Pirate captain, one small gunslinging Halfling named Gilder Daccat, made his entrance, that I noticed something was amiss. He asked to see me privately, so naturally I brought Clare with me. When we got into my office, he said nothing. Instead, he pulled a playing card out of his cloak and set it on the table. It was the ten of Diamonds.

I stared at it for a moment, and then started to talk business with the runt. He too had been coerced into following the bidding of this Varsixius, and had been given the address of our Pub. We agreed to journey together, and put an end to this conspiracy. But in the meantime, there was still time to enjoy ourselves.

I got back on stage, and started twanging out the tune of “Within a Mile of Home,” which the crew sung along with in a drunken stupor. I lost myself in the moment, but was pulled back to reality when Winfrey ran through the Pub with a face as red as a beat, shouting “I KISSED SOMEONE!” A string on my Lute snapped, and I had to take a break to replace it.

The next morning, we departed for Gootham.

What we thought would be a very peaceful journey was interrupted by a group of attacking Banshrae, who had a large iron bull construct, and a tamed two-headed giant. We disposed of them, and left one of the Banshrae alive for questioning. Sadly, the thing would have rather died that divulged any useful information. I gladly fulfilled its death wish.

We arrived in Gootham late at night, and were able to persuade the guards to let us inside. We went straight to the address we were supposed to travel to, but there didn’t seem to be anything there. After a while of looking, we were approached by an old crone. She seemed to be muttering something about how “he is always watching” and hinted for us to come back to this place at mid-afternoon tomorrow. We sent her on her way before the guards got suspicious.

Gilder, Winfrey and I all checked into an inn for the night. We spread out our belongings, and then, after a brief visit from Allister and a quick robbery of one of the guest’s rooms (I got a ceramic duck,) we headed into the Pub below to drown our sorrows.

Shortly after, we noticed a group of hooded figures who kept glancing over at Gilder and I. When they got up to leave, we followed them. We gave chase across the streets, and finally came to a confrontation in a winding alley somewhere. I tried again to interrogate, but the hooded figure was resistant. Using a blast of force, I knocked his hood off, and saw that the figure was actually a Drow.

Without warning, his partner attacked Winfrey from behind, and before we knew it, we were fighting for our lives.

—Wilward Jones

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