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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Crumley Caper

It had taken nearly a tenday to arrive in Yinnamar, the small, agricultural kingdom ruled by Lord Devronn Crumley.  The three companions had procured three of the four boxes for Fredregar, the monkey lich, and had only this last box to obtain.  It should be an easy task to get the box from Lord Crumley, who by most accounts was a bit foppish and rather dull of wit.  The title, like most lords and ladies, was passed down through the family for generations.  Eighteen generations to be exact, for although Yinnamar was small, it was old and long established as the main source of food for Baldur’s Gate and Candlekeep.  The fertile soils along the flood plain of the Chionthar River make this tiny kingdom famous for growing the best sugar beets and potatoes in all of Faerun.  These crops have made the tiny kingdom extremely wealthy and unlike many lords, Devronn Crumley actually seems to take good care of his subjects.  Every farm the three of them pass is in pristine condition.  Two and three story Farmhouses dot the landscape of the deep green, fertile plains all the way up to the foothills of the Sunset Mountains where Lord Crumley’s estate is located.

They come at last to the massive gates that mark the entrance to Lord Crumley’s estate.  The gates are closed and two guards stand unmoving on each side of the road.  The guards wear red, plate armor and fully enclosed helmets with visors lowered.  Each one holds a ten foot long halberd and neither makes any move to acknowledge the trio coming down the road toward them.

“These fellas come from a joustin’ tourney?”  Boucher whispers to the other two as they approach the two guards to speak.

“Although it’s late harvest season, it’s still much too hot for those helmets truly.”  Aelar says while nodding at Boucher.

Murook steps up toward the gate and is immediately blocked by the two guard’s long halberds that scissor down instantly to cross in front of him.  Still the guards say nothing.  The half orc warrior fights the urge to send the fully enclosed helmets flying off both of their heads, but thinks better of it and backs off a bit to collect himself before speaking.

“We’re here to see Lord Crumley.  We have business he’ll be interested in.”  Murook states to the guard to the right of him, hoping that would be enough for the guards to let them through.

“No one is allowed entry.”  The two guards reply in perfect unison as if they had rehearsed it for many hours.

“Not a joustin’ tourney, maybe a carnival.”  Boucher states.

“We have important business to relate to Lord Crumley.  Surely there’s some way you can allow us inside?”  Aelar steps forward as he speaks, seeking to rescue the two guards from the half orc’s growing frustration.

“No one is allowed entry.”  The two guards state in perfect unison.

Murook reaches for his axe not being one to rely on diplomacy to solve anything, but Boucher, who is standing behind him, grabs his hand and stops the half orc before the axe can come free.  Murook’s massive axe, which looks as though the blade is made of teeth, would most likely ruin any chance to solve this situation diplomatically.

“Steady yerself.  We’re here to be tradin’ for the blasted box, not to be takin’ it from a corpse.”  Boucher whispers at the back of Murook’s head.  Murook slowly took his hand from the axe and heaved a great sigh as Boucher patted him on the back gently to assure the large warrior that he had done the right thing.

Aelar was getting nowhere with the two guards who apparently only knew those five words.  After a few moments of frustration the trio back away from the gates to discuss what to do next.  Obviously pleading with those two guards is not going to gain them entry into the Crumley estate. 

“Let’s just knock them out!”  Murook exclaims when they were back down the road a bit and out of earshot.  “I mean it’s like they’re spelled or something.”  Murook says after turning back and taking a longer look at the two halberd wielding guards.

“Have either of you noticed that both of the guards are nearly identical in size?”  Aelar states as he looks at Boucher and Murook in turn with one eyebrow raised inquisitively.  “It’s not uncommon for two beings to be similar in size but it seems like those two sets of red, plate armor could’ve been made for the same person.”  Aelar continues, speaking to himself as if in thought more than to the others standing next to him.

“Somethin’ peculiar about em that’s for sure.”  Boucher turns back toward the gates as he speaks.

“The potions!”  Murook exclaimed a little too excitedly and was immediately shushed by Aelar and Boucher.  “The mimicry potions, I still have two of them left.”  Murook said in a more hushed tone seeming very much like a scolded child at that moment.

Myrnn Tyranna, little more than a tenday before.  The potions were meant to be imbibed while looking at another being of similar make up, and would grant an illusory visage to fall over the imbiber making him appear to be an exact copy of the target.  The potions only affected appearance and did not mask the voice.  Still, the potions were very effective at getting past outer guards, which is why the making and sale of these potions is regulated in most provinces and takes place mostly on the black market.  Fortunately Old Merle, the alchemist in Highmoon where Murook purchased the potions, never had much use for regulations or laws when it came to alchemical formulas or rituals.

“Last two.  We got to make these count.”  Murook said as the three walked farther away from the gate to find a good spot to hide themselves but still be able to see the guards at the gate when they drank the potions.  He pulled the two small vials of yellow colored liquid from his pack and handed one to Boucher.

“You gonna do some druid transformin’ thing aren’t ya?”  Boucher turned toward Aelar and snickered a bit as he spoke.

“I’ll scout the way and let you know if I see any danger.”  Aelar looked back at Boucher with a smirk of superiority on his face, which just made the dwarf snicker all the louder.

Boucher’s snickering stopped soon after as his druid friend literally burst into a flock of sparrows which took wing instantly and moved as one through the late autumn sky.  Normally druids could only take the form of one animal of similar size, but Aelar came from a sect of druids that had mastered the art of the swarm.  Boucher had seen his friend use this swarm transformation many times and it always amazed him, but he would never admit that to the elf.

“And just how’re ya to warn us of dangers while flittin’ about like that?”  Boucher whispered loudly to the air where the flock of small birds changed directions this way and that.  Immediately the flock swung back and swarmed around the dwarf’s head for a few moments then fluttered away leaving Boucher standing there blowing his disheveled hair out from his eyes.

“That’ll work.”  Boucher stated while heaving a great sigh.

“Alright it’s time you two, let’s do this.”  Murook said trying hard to stifle a hearty chuckle but finally coming to Boucher’s rescue.  The half orc nodded to the many sparrows as the flock turned as one and headed back toward the gate.  “Can you see the guard from here?”  He turned to Boucher and asked.

“Aye.  Ready when you are.”  Boucher nodded as he spoke.

“Ok, we have only limited time remember, so let’s be quick.”  Murook turned back to Boucher and nodded, then he turned back to look at the guard through to thicket of brush that they crouched behind and drank his potion down.  Boucher did the same.


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