Part 19: The third ornamentChapter 18 - The third ornament
The barracks were empty of other soldiers when I awoke the following morning, every other militiaman was already busy tending to their duties.
I unfolded the Ring's leather armor that I was given last night and examined it more closely. Despite being much lighter, it seemed to offer similar protections. I wasn't sure if it was enchanted or simply made of a material that I was material that I wasn't familiar with. Nevertheless, I wasn't permitted to use it in town. I folded it and tucked it into my pack and left the militia's headquarters for the docks.
Since I now had a ring of my own I no longer needed the one Lares lent me. I met up with him at his post in the harbor district to return it. I also took this time to do a little bit of agility training.
A few days ago, Lord Andre had tasked me with finding the package of swampweed that was hidden somewhere in the harbor district. During the course of my investigation, I discovered that the package belong to the mercenary Cipher and that the swampweed was located in one of the warehouses on the harbor front.
I only knew of one suitable warehouse for storing illegal goods. Located on the north end of the harbor, it was out of the way of any militia patrols and easily accessible by the water.
Once inside, I spotted another member of the militia standing at the top of the ramp, guarding crates and chests. Had the militia found it and simply forgotten to inform me?
The guard halted me on the ramp. "Hey, you've got no business here, understand?" he warned.
"Who are you?" I asked.
"That's none of your business! I'm the boss here, okay?"
"The boss? Of what? Of those chests?"
"Hey, the storeroom is under my supervision, got it? So piss off, or else I'll bash in your skull." The way he talked was typical for the sort of people that guard duty attracted, but something else about this was bothering me. The militia's presence in the harbor was minimal at best, and certainly did not have the resources to place a full time guard.
The warehouse guard, seeing that I wasn't leaving, began to get angry. "Hey, you're still here. Didn't I tell you to piss off?" He unsheathed his sword. "Now I'll show you who's boss around here!"
His sudden hostility caught me off guard. I fumbled for my blade and backed down the ramp. He followed, keeping up his assault. I could only block his blows and wait for an opening.
I found my opening. He'd started to get tired and was making mistakes. I swung a few times, pushing his back to the wall. From there, he had very limited mobility and I was able to finish him off. I didn't intend to kill him, but there was nothing I could do to prevent it. One of my hit had cut through an artery and he'd bled out.
I looked through his things and found a key ring with a single key attached. I took it and walked into the area he was protecting.
The crates contained miscellaneous items, the smuggler probably took over an abandoned warehouse, but a chest was located in each room. In the chest closest to the ramp were five healing potions. In the other room, I found the parcel of weed.
I hurried back to the militia headquarters to meet with Andre.
"About the package..." I said.
"Have you found it?" he interrupted.
I nodded, handing him the foul-smelling package of weed. "Yes, here it is."
"Good work. We shall guard the weed securely. Here is your pay." He had a nearby guard retrieve two hundred coins for me.
"Have you got another job for me?" I asked.
"You have taken the package of swampweed out of circulation - good - but I would like to know who is distributing the stuff among the people. It must be someone in the harbor district. If someone regularly came from outside the city, he would have been caught some time ago. "
"What exactly am I to do?"
"Find the dealer and get him to sell you some weed. That will not be easy, but we cannot arrest him otherwise. Talk to Mortis, he knows the harbor district. Perhaps he can help you."
"Lobart the turnip farmer has problems in his fields. If we help him, it will solidify his relationship with the city. So go to him and see what is wrong."
I decided to stop by Vatras and see if he could tend to the wounds I sustained in retrieving the package.
He rose his arms in prayer. "Adanos bless this body. Free it of its wounds and strengthen it with new life." An invisible aura surrounded me, closing my wounds and repairing the damage sustained in my last fight.
Since I already needed to go to Lobart's farm for my Ring duties, I decided to help him with his troubles before handling the rest of the swampweed troubles.
It became very obvious what the problem was when I got there. Field raiders had infested his farmland, in numbers that no farmers would be able to handle. I exterminated them on my way to meet with Lobart.
Just in case, he actually needed me for something else, I approached him.
"Andre sent me to you. Is there anything I can do for you?" I said.
"Yeah, sure, those damned field raiders are making me sick. Do them all in. I don't care how!"
I guessed he hadn't seen me clear his fields. "I've done away with the things."
He looked both surprised and impressed. "Well done. You're not a bad exterminator. I'll recommend you around. Here, take this as your payment." He gave me a purse of coin in thanks.
Now, I needed to go to the nearby stone circle and find its ornament. On my approach I could see that someone was already there.
It was Cavalorn, and he was shirtless!
"Are you looking for something?" I asked, thinking maybe he'd misplaced his shirt here or was searching for longer pants.
"Is it that obvious?", he laughed, "Yes, I have an assignment from the Water Mages to look for some lost ornament."
"That's convenient. I have the same assignment from Nefarius."
He looked pleased. "I'm glad. Then I don't have to do this alone."
"Have you already found an ornament?"
"I found the place where we should find one. This stone circle could be one of those structures that Nefarius described. Now we just have to find the mechanism we're supposed to look for."
I already had experience with these circles and knew how they worked.
I depressed each switch on every pair set of standing stones, just like I did with the circle in the forest.
Predictably, the ground began to shake. I readied my weapon for a stone sentinel but none came. I returned to Cavalorn.
"I tried the mechanism. It doesn't do anything at all."
"Then Lobart's farmers were right. They said that one of them had already played around with the stones here. A stone sentinel appeared out of nowhere and attacked them. The farmers called the militia, the militiamen called the paladins who came and destroyed the monster. I've already searched the whole area. If there was an ornament here, the paladins have it now. "
"Then I'll go to them and demand the ornament back." I hoped they would be more reasonable about this artifact than they were about the Eye of Innos.
I was about to re-enter through the southern gate when I remembered I hadn't picked the drainage ditch around the city clean yet. I'd decided I would go around, picking the bones clean for rings and old weapons, and re-enter the city from the east.
It was a fine plan. I'd recovered some silver rings and rusty weapons by the time I reached the eastern gate. However, I knew that I may soon be very busy with my Ring of Water duties. I climbed the path to the lighthouse.
It'd been awhile since I was here. The bandits had chased me off as soon as they saw me, forcing me into a pack of dangerous animals and, then, into the sea. This time would be different. I was well armed and prepared for them.
The bandits began firing their bows as soon as they saw me. I quickly dove for cover behind the nearby fence.
I fumbled around in my pack until I found a suitable scroll. Eventually I settled on a scroll of Summon Skeleton. I recited the magic words. The scroll began to disintegrate in my hand, while a skeleton rose from the ground nearby.
Instinctively, it attacked the two bandits in front of the lighthouse. I left cover to fire a few arrows of my own.
After finishing the guards my summoned skeleton ran off somewhere and I entered the tower, alone.
There was but a single bandit inside the lighthouse and he was already wounded. He was in the midst of reloading his crossbow when I came in. Carelessly, he tossed it aside and took out an old lumber axe. Unfortunately for him, I had combat advantage. Two arrows pierced his sternum, killing him.
Following my liberation of the lighthouse I returned to town. I stopped by Hakon to sell off the weapons and such I'd acquired these past few days.
The stuck up nobleman, Valentino, was listening to a lecture by Vatras. I'd heard what a jerk he was so I relieved him of his keyring.
Instead of heading directly to the upper quarter to find the ornament, I returned to the harbor district to give Jack the good news.
"The bandits that were haunting your lighthouse are gone."
His face lit up. "Is that really true? Finally I can get back to my work. Come with me to the lighthouse. You get an incredible view of the sea up there."
I didn't follow him, but made a mental note to stop by later.
While I was down in this part of town, I also visited the eccentric alchemist Ignaz. He stocked a far different set of scrolls than Zuris did. They would certainly come in handy during my missions for the guard and Water Mages. Notable purchases were two scrolls of transform into snapper, one of transform into sheep, and a scroll of transform into dragon snapper.
From Ignaz' shack I made my way back into the lower district and then into the upper quarter. On my way to the mayor's house where Lord Hagen resided, I saw a strange man off to the side of the building and thought to speak with him.
On closer inspection, he seemed to be a simple laborer of some sort.
"What are you doing here?" I asked him.
"What do you think, hm? I'm a gardener. I take care of the garden."
"You're pretty much by yourself here, aren't you?"
"Yes, and it should stay that way. I'm glad that I have some peace here. Once, they tried to send me to the penal colony because I did some guy in. But Larius, the governor, needed another gardener and so I could stay. Over time, this garden has become my home. And I'm content with that."
"Are you growing herbs as well?"
"A few. I'm growing fire weed and fire nettles. I also tried swampweed but that doesn't really thrive here. Well, I just harvested. So if you want to buy something..."
I didn't. I started to move away when an idea came to me. I gave the thieves' nod to the Gardener.
He grinned weakly. "So you're one of us. Then I've got some useful information for you. Some of the houses up here have secret panels that can only be opened by hidden switches. People guard their valuables behind them." That sounded useful if I ever decided to stop up here during the night. I turned, and left for Lord Hagen.
The Paladin leader was busy discussing military matters with his advisors when I arrived. Slightly annoyed, he looked at me.
I stood there awkwardly for a moment before remembering that I needed to say something. I cleared my throat. "I am looking a metal ornament. It should have been by the stone circle near Lobart's farm."
Lord Hagen picked up a lump of metal. "If you mean this thing here... we suspected that it might be a magical rune, but it turned out to be completely worthless. You can have it if you like. I have no use for it. "
That was ridiculously easy. I didn't want to push my luck, so I left without saying another word.
I made my way back to the inn in the square. I thought of possibly revisiting the upper quarter at midnight for some treasure hunting, or perhaps taking a much needed, long sleep.
Other: There's still an update or two before I go to the valley, or possibly two or three (due to what's involved) before I can reach the expansion area. Feel free to keep voting, I won't decide until after the next update. I'll also be updating the OP with more characters, locations, etc in the near future.
Here's a map with some landmarks of areas visited in this update:
And here's a requested screen shot of the new armor:
As you can see, it's just what Lares wore a few updates ago.