Part 20: SLEEPING BULL - Surprisingly, This Is The One Place In Serpent Isle Where We Get The LEAST Bull Part 1
Surprisingly, This Is The One Place In Serpent Isle Where We Get The LEAST Bull
A light drizzle accompanies the party on the road to the Sleeping Bull Inn. Strangely, I've never seen it not raining when I first arrive here, no matter when during the day I come by. I think it's just scripted to start a rainstorm when you approach the Inn for the first time, which kind of gives you a sense of it being dreary. Drives you in out of the rain and all.
I just want to point this out, since we're not used to it: Most of the people here aren't jerks. At least not to us. Some of them aren't even jerks at all. This may shock you a little.
"Welcome, fellow dreamer! I am Byrin, a gleeman by trade. I know many songs... and many tales. For those with an adventurous spirit, I can tell thee of the northern savages. For those who wish to hear of a lost civilization, I can tell thee of the people who left the ruins on this continent. For those who would hear a tale of bitter bravery, I can tell thee of the lost king."
"What the hell, we probably have the time."
"Aren't we looking for Batlin?"
"What are we doing here?"
"We're going to Moonshade."
"I guess we just are."
The "northern savages" refers to the Gwani. Byrin is misinformed, as you'd figure, but less so than most of the people we've met so far.
"Once thou leavest the warm lands of Man, thou dost come into the realm of the northern savages. These creatures have faces that strongly resemble that of a normal man, but they are covered head to foot in a shaggy fur pelt. Some say that these creatures are some lost tribe of Man that hath adapted to the cold. Still others claim that the savages are a mage-created race that guards some great, mystical secret. None can say if they are intelligent. They build no structures and speak no recognizable language. There is also a song about the northern savages. Wouldst thou care to hear it?"
"No thanks. Tell us about the ruins instead. We still don't know what the hell that's all about."
"Long ago, before any of the cities thou knowest today were built, there was a race of Man who worshipped three great elemental serpents. Some followed one of fire. Others followed one of ice. And still others followed one of earth. As only the serpent of earth could withstand both the fire and the ice of the other serpents, it did possess the most power. The fire and ice serpents were violently opposed to each other, but were held in check by the serpent of earth. Then the serpent of earth lost power. The fire and ice serpents warred for supremacy. When the battle ended, it mattered not which serpent had won... for the land was destroyed and all the worshippers lay dead."
Interesting. Based on the information we read on the note way back in the day, the "fire and ice" serpents are probably the serpents of Order and Chaos, and the "earth" serpent represents Balance. Byrin's tale suggests that the disaster befell the Ophidian culture when Balance failed and Order and Chaos went to war, with disastrous results for both sides. But how did that happen? And what's the whole story?
He can't say, but he does have another tale to tell...
"To the north of here stand two castles, seemingly empty from the ravages of time. But neither is truly empty, for they both hold the ghosts of trust betrayed. In one majestic castle a lady waits for her faithless lover who pledged his love and never returned. In the other, a father and ruler, driven mad by the loss of daughter and erstwhile friend, took his people beyond the cares of time. All the trapped souls await the return of the one whose desertion forever changed the land he had sworn to protect. All wait for the return of the lost king... and revenge!"
I wonder who that faithless lover was. Probably no one we know, right? Well okay there are no coincidences in RPGs, so we'll find out later. For now, a huge swamp stands between us and the castles, so we'll just have to file it in the folder for now.
"If thou didst enjoy my tales, I would appreciate a small contribution to my room and board."
Oh and he asks you to tip him when he provides info. A couple gold pieces does it, so don't stiff him. The things he says are actually reasonable and he'll be important again later.
The registry suggests Batlin was through here, although that shouldn't surprise anyone. He seems to have a habit for that.
A saucy parrot struts about the Sleeping Bull Inn's common room as the Avatar bellies up to the bar.
"Greetings, stranger. Come in outta them strange storms and rest a bit... This be the Inn of the Sleeping Bull. And I be Argus, the innkeeper."
"That's kind of a weird name for an inn. Are there any bulls around here or something?"
"'Tis an uncommon name, to be sure. It doth have something to do with the village that once was here. According to family tales, this land once belonged to a mage who hated all people. This mage created a huge stone bull to kill trespassers on his land. 'Twas the bull's defeat that gave the village its name... And, in turn, became the name of the inn itself."
"And how was the bull vanquished?"
"One day the mage heard a local noble's son claim that he could defeat the bull. The mage told the boy he was welcome to try, but death would be the reward of failure. When the boy asked what would reward his success, the mage wagered his land. That night the boy stole the ring from the bull's nose, turning it back to inanimate stone. The village was named after the huge stone bull that once stood in the center of the market square. I do not know what happened to the bull, if ever there was one, for I searched for it as a lad and never found it."
"Doesn't seem all that lively around here, though."
"Aye, few people care to stray too far from shelter these days. Even Hawk put in here and refused to budge because of the storms... Though his passengers are less than thrilled with his decision. And all our help ran off to the cities, hoping that it would be safer around all those buildings. These ain't natural storms... Or I was never a Wolf Captain. If thou wert to ask me, living all these years across from Moonshade, I'd say they were magic born. And I'm afeard they'll drive us out of business if they last too long."
"You were a captain, were you?"
"I am sorry. I did not realize that thou wert not from hereabouts."
"Ha! Thou wert fishin' for a way to tell thy tales! I thought I broke thee of lying when thou wert a lad... Mind thee... Captain... I can still warm thy backside if I've a mind to."
"And I do not doubt that she could... and would! Until my father disappeared six months ago, I was a Captain in the Monitor Wolf Command."
"Your father vanished? That seems common around here."
"Angus disappeared... And not during one of those storms neither! We could have understood that. And mother... er, Devra... Said that one of our guests disappeared the very same evening."
"One of your guests?"
"Thou must needs ask mother what she remembers of that night. I weren't here. Mother was understandably aggrieved by the time she called me home. She had hoped that Lord Wilfred would come to run the inn as father had hoped, but I came instead... And I don't recall if she mentioned the guest's name, to be honest."
"Blast! Did I call him that? Old habits die hard... I'd thank thee not to repeat that in Devra's hearing for she'd have mine ears for sure. Wilfred is my younger brother. And, like most brothers, we have our share of spats. I grew up here in the inn, scrubbing pots and whatever else were needed. But I dreamed of seeing more of the world. I went wandering when I was a young lad... And Angus, our father, raised Wilfred using me as the bad example. But instead of making Wilfred hold to his wishes, Angus drove Wilfred into my footsteps, determined to best anything I did."
"You don't seem like such a bad example."
"Father said I were too much like my great-grandfather, Silverpate. He never thought I'd amount to much, even after I'd made Captain. It like to broke his heart when Wilfred ran away to Monitor. That's where the 'Lord' Wilfred hies from... He acts like a swaggering noble, with all his self-important ambition."
"Who's Silverpate? Sounds like a pirate's name."
"Silverpate were a pirate, I'll make no bones about it. He built this inn when he retired from the sea. His son, Donal -- my father's father -- took over when Silverpate disappeared. Some think he might have gone back to the sea. Others say that his evil past caught up to him... No one ever saw him again. But there've been plenty wantin' to hunt for his treasure. Family legend doth say that Silverpate used part of his treasure to build the inn. Everyone seems to think that he hid whatever was left somewhere around here before he disappeared. But I'll tell thee, there ain't no treasure. And I should know..."
"Aye, indeed! Thou and thy friends didst pry into everything and dug holes from here to Monitor when thou wert young! I never stopped thee... I thought thy father had done the same when he was young. But I whaled thee good when I caught thee digging in me garden!
"Aye... I stood up to dinner that night. I remember."
"Your brother tries to beat you in everything? That seems fairly ordinary for brothers."
"I became a Captain in Monitor, but that was not good enough for Wilfred. He had to be a knight... and a Bear at that. 'Tis sad to see the likes of him and his friends making a mockery of Monitor's ideals. Thou hast seen the changes, I'm sure... 'Tis sad to say, Avatar... Courage and Valor have become so debased that Knights like Wilfred are little more than braggarts and mercenaries! Where once the pinnacle of honor was a Monitorian knight, now people see them as vain bullies. It sickens me... I had nearly decided to renounce my commission when mother sent word of father's disappearance."
"I heard from someone in Monitor that you were going to be kicked out for killing a man in a duel, actually."
"I will not lie to thee... I did, indeed, kill a man in a duel of honor. As I called the duel, it was he who named the conditions. He were equally trained and armed as myself, else I would have demanded to cross swords with his seconds. And I would have asked him to yield, but my blow glanced off his hilt and took him square in the throat."
"Yet it was YOU who called him out."
"He likened me to my forefather, Silverpate -- loudly, and in public. I asked for his apology, and when he further heaped filth upon my name... I called him to duel before witnesses."
You probably don't want to push Argus any further on that. Let's ask about Captain Hawk instead.
"Hawk hath two passengers staying here until he puts out again -- if he ever pays the Pikemen, that is. One of them is the fellow with the parrot. Kane, I think his name is. The other is an arrogant fellow named Flindo. He's a merchant. I was glad to have them, being as we only have four other guests. There be Ensorcio. He's an exiled mage from Moonshade. There be Selina, who hath not been here very long. She is very afraid of these storms..."
"Bah! She's no more afraid of those storms than thou art! She follows thee about right well enough, storm or no!"
"Mother! Byrin's here, which is a blessing. 'Tis good to have a gleeman to pass the weary hours between storms. And then there be that new fellow, Miggim. I don't know too much about him... He hath only been here a few days and is rarely out of his room."
"So there are other people trying to get to Moonshade."
"I've ne'er been there myself, not being overly fond of wizards and their feuds. But if thou desirest spells or items of enchantment, that is the place to go. If thou art looking to go to the City of Mages, thou wilt need a boat. The Magic Storms have wrecked every boat on this coast except one. That vessel belongs to Captain Hawk."
"And something happened to Hawk. Great."
"'Tis no use to think of hiring him. He was in a fracas here, broke things up a bit. The Pikemen dragged Hawk away when he took a swing at their commander. He's being held at Bull Tower until he pays their fine."
"Fine! More like ransom, I'd call it! Thou knowest as well as I, Argus, that Hawk can't pay..."
"Not if he doesn't put out from here. And he swore he wouldn't until these storms stop."
"Why would the Pikemen have come here?"
"I didn't call them, Avatar. I've known Hawk since I was a boy and, being a Pikeman myself, I have little to worry about with him. To be sure, he can put up a mighty fight and break things... But he always pays for the damages when he wakes. Someone else must have pulled them in after him. I'd wager my sword that it was that merchant, Flindo. He was mightily put out when Hawk refused to sail to Moonshade until the storms eased up."
The parrot belongs to this lad, Kane. Kane's got a bit of a problem; his brother Edrin vanished in a teleport storm, and he thinks the mages of Moonshade can help him. He's right . But getting there is a problem for him, which means it's a problem for us too. His brother is important, so we'll want to help him out, but it'll be some time before we actually can.
In the center commons are the more intriguing patrons of the Sleeping Bull Inn: Ensorcio, an exiled mage, and the Moonshade merchant Flindo, who is the cause of the whole Captain Hawk fiasco. Also sometimes present is a monk named Miggim, who tells you to hurry on to Monk Isle as soon as you can. I never really understood why Miggim was there, but he appears again when we actually reach Monk Isle, so we'll deal with him then. Nothing he says right now is particularly important.
"Hey, Steve the Avatar. May we speak?"
"I have little time! The name is Flindo. I own a provisioning shop in Moonshade and have many important connections there. So, art thou another stranded victim of Hawk and his childish fear of storms? Or art thou here to investigate the curious disappearance of Mistress Devra's good husband?"
"We were hoping to get passage from Captain Hawk, but-"
"That bag of wind! Calls himself a sailor... Ha! Now, I am asking thee... What manner of Captain would strand me and poor, dumb Kane -- paying passengers, mind thee -- here in this little backwater inn because of some... storm? So I went to the Pikemen..."
"You're familiar with Kane then."
"Bah! Witless lad doth not have enough sense to steer clear of Ensorcio. Comes asking if Ensorcio was a mage, and would Ensorcio help him and Ale find his lost brother!"
"What happened? Who is Ensorcio?"
"Now there is one to avoid, if ever there was one! The mages wondered when Vasculio took Ensorcio as an apprentice. Temper like that, 'tis not good in a mage. And when thou considerest Vasculio's interests... Well, 'tis enough to make a body worry. And then with what happened about that Adept's daughter... No one was surprised when the Council of Mages stepped in and exiled Ensorcio -- except maybe Ensorcio himself!"
"Slow down, merchant. Vasculio is...?"
"Do not tell me that thou hast not heard that legend! I was not around for any of this, mind thee. I wasn't even born yet... Ensorcio isn't as young as he appears, being a mage and all. But my father talked about it enough -- it happened when he was a mere boy. Well, years ago, there was experimenting aplenty amongst the mages. There were not nearly as many restrictions as there are now. Vasculio specialized in death magic. Not like Mortegro, mind thee. No, Vasculio did not want to speak with the dead... He wanted to cause death. And he was none too particular if it was a quick death or not. Anyway, soon his 'research' even upset the Council of Mages. When the Council went to deliver Vasculio an ultimatum, they found him in deeds so horrible that it was determined that he was no longer human. They put him to death... but his tomb was broken open and empty before a week had passed. And they say that, somehow, he still lives to practice his dark arts."
"Mortegro? You seem to have a bad habit of name-dropping people we don't know."
"Mortegro is fine. A bit flighty at times, but all mages are if thou dost ask me. Mortegro's true specialty is speaking with the dead."
"Uh-huh. What restrictions are in place now that weren't in Vasculio's time?"
"Well, now, there are quite a number of them. And I only know a few... not being a mage. Let's see... certain creatures cannot be summoned within the confines of the city. This would come to light after some damn fool mage summons a dragon that burns half the city! Only mages approved of by the Council of Mages may sell death spells. And the Council must be notified of all research and experiments. There. 'Tis all I can remember. If thou desirest to know more, thou shouldst speak to a mage."
"Alright, now let's get the dirt on this guy and somebody's daughter."
"Oh, thou wouldst do well not to ask too closely about who she is, Avatar! Mages are very protective of their privacy AND their pride. Suffice it to say that Ensorcio took a fancy to the girl and, when she would not give him the time of day, used his magic to... persuade... her to see him. I was surprised the Council punished him with simple exile. I would have thought he would have gone to the Mountains of Freedom for his crime!"
"Mountains of Freedom?"
"Speak that name quietly, Avatar. And hope that thou never hast reason to learn too much about it. Long ago, those mountains were full of ore and many spent their lives mining it. But most of the veins were empty when they uncovered the Stoneheart..."
"Hsst! Never repeat that word in public! Or thou wilt find a personal view of the Mountains of Freedom! Stoneheart can be used to create another mineral, a strange reagent that magnifies magical power, especially death spells. And it is very dangerous. Anyway, after that was found there, the mines were sealed. Until Filbercio became MageLord, that is."
"Filbercio is an ambitious man, Avatar. He is also a man of many... passions, shall we say. Not all in Moonshade were happy when he became MageLord. And Filbercio would have it that he is a popular ruler. And he would enjoy the powers of his office without fearing rivals. So Filbercio filled the mines with all manner of magical traps, and made it a prison for his enemies. 'Tis said that if thou canst escape from the depths of stone, thou art free and vindicated of any charges against thee. But, as of yet, none have proven themselves innocent... If thou takest my meaning."
"I meant more about his office, but that's fun too."
"The MageLord must be an Adept, and rules all Moonshade. Although the MageLord's power is great, it is held in check by the other members of the Council of Mages. Being that mages are, by nature, egotistical, the Council of Mages is only open to other Adepts. The peers of the MageLord. Their presence on the Council is meant to keep the MageLord from becoming too tyrannical."
"Sounds ineffective, though."
"Shouldn't we be asking about the Hawk incident, Steve?"
"We got sidetracked with exposition, it's not my fault!"
"Everyone knows that the Pikemen guard the roads and towns, Avatar. They are noted for their honesty. I thought perhaps they could 'persuade' Hawk to abandon his ploy for more money and sail for Moonshade as he should. I made an appropriately large 'donation' to their coffers. But I did not expect them to waylay Hawk to rot in some jail cell! I suppose that is what comes of not knowing the difference between Leopards, Bears and Wolves..."
"So you're saying this is your fault."
"I find it hard to believe that a man such as Hawk, with a ship such as the Arabella, would fear any storm -- magical or otherwise. I have heard of too many odd events connected to these storms to discount their unusual nature. But all such tales speak of danger on land... I think Hawk's reluctance to sail lies more at the bottom of an empty mug and an empty coffer... A shame. The Arabella is a fine ship... Good lines and fast-running before a stiff breeze. And I have heard that Hawk had some sort of enchantment laid on her so that she can not be sailed without him on board. But that could merely be more of his idle boasts."
"Well, that sucks. Guess you're stuck until we bail your ass out."
"Although I am not a mage, I am an influential man in Moonshade because my shop provides the staples of life to that secluded island! Why, I even know the MageLord's mistress. If we ever leave this forsaken inn, Avatar, perhaps I can obtain thee an audience with the MageLord himself. He trusts me implicitly. Ask me again when we arrive. And thou mayest find that some of the mages are very reclusive and will not speak to thee without proper introduction."
"Oh, yes! Filbercio is quite a lady's man. And what woman would not jump at the opportunity to win the MageLord's favor? For now, Frigidazzi holds the MageLord's eye. And, from what I have seen, Filbercio seems to have found a way to thaw the charms of that cold mage... Though I have heard that Frigidazzi is not always so cool. And I have been told that Filbercio hath not been... faithful... shall we say."
Flindo is a fat asshole, but he's a useful fat asshole. We won't be getting anywhere in Moonshade without his help. Naturally, if we can get Hawk out of jail, he'll owe us a favor.
Funny enough, he'll talk shit about Ensorcio even though he's standing right next to him, which is why we're speaking to him next!
"Thou mayest as well leave now, hero. I have seen thy kind before and have no use for the likes of thee... And thou canst do nothing to avenge the wrongs I have suffered. So, leave thou before I grow tired of thee and thou dost feel the wrath of Ensorcio the Adept!"
"Hooray, I'm a hero!"
"Yes, hero! And I shall say it in front of Devra, too, for all that matters! You adventurers swagger around as though you could save the world! Thou dost expect awe and reverence from those thou dost meet... The ones that bury thy dead body when thine arrogance doth meet its match!"
"Thou dost not speak to an ordinary adventurer! This is the Avatar!"
"Thou mayest not judge the Avatar so!"
"Do not let him say such things about thee, Avatar!"
"I see thee draw thyself up... Have I offended thee? And what wilt thou do, hero? Imprison me? Or wilt thou simply murder me?"
"Haven't decided yet. If you're an Adept, why are you here? Shouldn't you be in Moonshade?"
"Moonshade, the city of wonders! And the city of charlatans! Heaven forfend that thou shouldst try something innovative! It might endanger the incompetent fools led by Filbercio and his trained Council of Mages! Filbercio is a presumptuous maggot who calls himself MageLord of Moonshade! I doubt that he could light a candle magically! But he doth have the backing of the Council and the threat of the Mountains of Freedom to support his claim! The one saving grace for Moonshade is that Filbercio spends all of his time pursuing skirts! His insignificant knowledge of magic hath little effect in the bedchambers of his conquests!"
"I've been told a few things about Freedom, actual-"
"Freedom! What a farce! The Mountains of Freedom are a prison, hero! A prison filled with magical traps that none can escape. And that is where Filbercio puts all who anger or oppose him. 'Tis a small wonder that I did not end there..."
"Perhaps the Council argued for leniency?"
"I doubt that. The Council of Mages is a handful of Adepts meant to keep the MageLord from misusing his power. In this case, however, they spend their time making the decisions that the MageLord should be making. But, as unto myself, they are content to allow Filbercio to continue his 'amusements'. With luck, he will be killed by one of his paramours."
"Well, you are the first mage we've met. Do you know anything about the source of these magical storms?"
"Rather showy, if thou shouldst ask me... But rather spectacular results. Entirely too random for my tastes, however. Of course, I cannot help wondering which mage is behind them. And I wonder if that double-crossing Batlin has anything to do with them... The storms started after he left here, thou knowest."
"I can see that thou knowest of him. Batlin came here some time ago, he and his tame daemon. He seemed to take an interest in my story and we spent many evenings exchanging arcane lore. Then he left on some errand. When he returned with his other two thugs, Batlin seemed restless. But we continued our discussions as if nothing had changed. I thought he was my friend..."
"Absolutely huge... and ugly! Batlin called him Palos. And the daemon went about meekly hooded and robed as his master commanded. I do admit, I was impressed. I could not help but think about the trouble that Rotoluncia was having."
"Ever since Filbercio replaced Rotoluncia as his playmate, Rotoluncia hath had to find some other interest to occupy her time. And, from what I have heard, that seems to be daemons... Perhaps I can hope that she doth have designs on revenge. I would be content to think of Filbercio filling a daemon's belly. So, I am sure that she would take quite an interest in that fat mage's pet daemon. I wish I could send her word..."
"He came back with other thugs? Why?"
"I should have guessed that Batlin intended something shady when I saw those two! I am sure that Batlin brought them expressly to steal the old jawbone left to me by my mentor. Between Brunt, the idiot, and Deadeye, the one-eyed pirate, I am lucky still to be alive..."
"Why would they steal a bone?"
"Iolo's always interested in people sneaking bones without his permission."
"'Twas a large serpent jawbone that my mentor received from his mentor, the Mad Mage. I could never discover what its use was, though it was clearly magical. 'Twas a keepsake -- though I hoped to discover its secret some day. I think that Batlin found its secret... and created these damned storms."
"The Mad Mage has been mentioned before. Who is he?"
"His true name is Erstam. He taught many of the Moonshadian Adepts their craft. But, as is the way with master and apprentice, they eventually surpassed him in skill and scope. The old mage could not abide the thought that these mages were no longer his malleable students, and went quite mad... He saw them all as thieves intent on stealing his secrets and moved to an island off Moonshade. He doth refuse to have any dealings with Moonshade to this day. He sits on his island trying to find a way to create life."
"And your master was Vasculio."
"He was a very great man. Unfortunately, Vasculio was a man that was constantly testing the limits of convention. The Council of Mages found him threatening, and attempted to kill him when he refused to bow to their wishes... But his experimentation with Stoneheart had given him spells to elude even that monstrous fate. He is out there somewhere still, straining at the chains of accepted wisdom."
"What the hell is stoneheart?"
"Ah, such a wonder to behold! It doth come from the depths of the Mountains of Freedom, and is quite rare... The Council hath outlawed possession of Stoneheart, because they fear its power. But a small quantity is quietly hidden -- else how would the death spells work?"
"Yeah, but what does it-"
"Thou dost have stoneheart! Could I..."
"What, this ruddy rock?"
"No, I shall not succumb to its lure. I shall be strong. But thou shouldst take care, for this reagent has a way of twisting a man's heart so that he cannot bear to part from it. In its raw form, 'tis useless for spells. For a fee -- sizable, of course -- I could teach thee its secret so that thou mayest also cast death spells."
"This is very valuable information, friend. How much wouldst thou pay for it?"
Stupid extortionate mages. I'm not even going to reload this save either.
"First, thou must have a ritual blood-letting device... Most mages possess one, even though they are technically illegal. Then thou must fill a small container with blood, using this device. The blood can be thine or that of any of thy companions... Whichever thou dost find more convenient."
"Hear that guys?"
"Once thou hast the blood, thou must use the blood on the Stoneheart. This produces the Bloodspawn that thou wilt need for death spells."
"Cool. Let's talk trash about the people around here now."
"Gladly. Flindo would have it that he is a person of note from the fair city of Moonshade, known by one and all. But he is truly little more than a loud shopkeeper with a penchant for gossip. Flindo flits about here and there, acquiring merchandise for Bucia to sell, and as much information as he can. I think that alone is why the Adepts humor him from time to time with some tidbit of news... Bucia runs Flindo's shop for him. 'Tis called the Capessi Canton -- a pompous name, if thou dost ask me. Bucia charges a fillip more on everything she sells, for her troubles. And is very careful to show Flindo the altered accounts."
"Got anything on anyone else? Maybe the lady who runs the place?"
"Devra's a fine woman, for all that she is a bit domineering... She hath taken her loss incredibly well. She hath convinced that worthless son of hers to return and help with some honest work here at the inn. But, if thou askest me, I would say that she is too kind to the rogues and misfits."
"You mean the loss of her husband?"
"Quite sad, actually. I recall that the morning I went to her to report the theft, she was terribly upset. It seems Angus had a bit of Silverpate in him after all, and disappeared... To think of it, perhaps he was the one that stole the jawbone from me... Though why it would interest him, I shall never know."
"Angus is... er, was... Devra's husband. Seemed a right enough fellow. Liked a cup or two of ale in the evenings. Worked hard -- But then, with her nagging, he couldn't help but work hard! Would never have guessed that he had the spine to leave like that. But I suppose that every man doth have his breaking point..."
"You think he had a bit of a pirate's streak like his ancestor?"
"They say that old Silverpate was a bloodthirsty pirate. According to popular tales, he reformed and took his ill-gotten gains and built this inn... But the Adepts in Moonshade tell a different tale. It seems that Silverpate employed Erstam to do something at the inn -- perhaps hide that fabled treasure, who knows. In any case, the pirate planned to trick Erstam so that he would not have to pay the mage's fees. But Erstam found him out and trapped the treacherous 'innkeeper' in a pit filled with daemons. No one ever saw Silverpate again, and people learned to fear crossing any mage."
"Nobody crosses an Adept, huh? So why'd they cross you?"
"Thou dost not know the half of it! Here I sit, an Adept in a wretched hovel, exiled from the practice of the magic that is my life's blood! The Council hath turned its back on Filbercio's exploits for so long that they sought to make me their scapegoat... their public example. Filbercio hath hopped from bed to bed throughout the city, using every means of coercion possible. But let it be found that poor Ensorcio used magic to catch the favor of an Adept's daughter, and suddenly I am an unspeakable monster!"
"Well, that is kind of sleazy."
"Thou canst not know what humiliation is until thou hast been turned out from thine home and told never to return on pain of death! Thou canst not know the burning shame to hear that thy wrongdoing hath been proclaimed to all. To know that wherever thou goest people will say, 'Isn't Ensorcio that exiled mage from Moonshade?'!"
Ensorcio could also sell spells, if one has a spellbook, which one will not when one first arrives here. Don't forget about him! He has a few spells you can't get from other mages.
Back in the kitchen is the game's arguably nicest NPC, Devra. Things haven't exactly been going well for her lately, what with her husband Angus up and vanishing and patrons fighting, but she's taking it in stride.
"Welcome to the Sleeping Bull, Avatar! Enter before we suffer another storm. I have lived here since before I was married, and I've never seen anything like these mage-born storms. Why, one caught old man Jothum in his field and changed his plow horse into a goat, in front of his eyes. But Jothum was lucky, 'twas only his horse. We never did find what happened to Theron."
"Everybody around here seems to think the mages are responsible for the storms."
"If thou shouldst be hit with lightning -- normal lightning, mind thee -- thou art dead. Plain and simple. They bury thy charred body the next day. But storms that change things, or make them disappear, or exchange them for something else, well now, it seems to me that 'tis magic, right enough. I don't have to be from Moonshade to conjure that answer! Fine city, though 'tis plagued by wizards and mages. The place reeks of sorcery. Hast thou heard anything more of what might be causing these storms? I wonder if anyone has done anything to stop them."
"Somehow I doubt it."
"Well, I still think 'tis the work of them mages! No good comes of controlling that type of power, I'll tell thee..."
"Aye, mother. And thou wilt tell all who will listen! Do not harass what few customers we do have..."
"Hast thou ever heard a boy so rude as to talk to his mother that way?"
"I am no boy, mother. For now, I'm the innkeeper here and I'll thank thee to remember that we have a mage staying here now."
"People mentioned that your husband has disappeared. You're the only person who seems to have been around. What happened?"
"Thou dost seem like an honest, hard-working person."
"Perhaps thou canst help me discover what happened to Angus. 'Tis a right mystery. He disappeared and then my slippers disappeared... Now I've got no husband and a pair of old, smelly boots."
"Hang on, wait, your slippers?"
"They were hanging on the line to dry when one of those storms hit. When I went out to gather the wash later, there were these huge boots hanging where my slippers had been. I'd gladly give these things away, if only I had my slippers back!"
"Avatar, those look like my swamp boots!"
"If thou hast my slippers, Avatar, I would gladly trade thee these boots for them. I have no great fondness for them other than to keep my feet dry. Here are thy boots then... And I thank thee for my slippers."
Well, that resolves that. Moving along to the vanished PERSON now...
"On the night Angus disappeared, I'd gone to bed and Angus had remained to sweep. If thou dost ask me though, he stayed up to keep an eye on that strange mage that was staying here. I was stirred from a sound sleep by the sound of voices downstairs in the cellar. After I heard a crash, I went down to look, but I did not see anyone. I thought the mage's companion might have tried to slip down to have another drink for free, and thought no more of it until the morning. We've had a lout or two think that they could slip down and take a bottle or two on the sly. But Angus always seemed to know when they tried it... Threw them out with a few bruises for their trouble. 'Tis why I didn't worry 'til morn... When I found everything in disarray and Angus gone. The casks and barrels were scattered all over the floor down there. It looked like there may have been a fight, but I did not see any blood. It took the rest of the day to put all back in order down there. And make sure that nothing was missing. I waited a week or so before I sent word to Wilfred and Argus about their father not returning."
"I do not know his name... He never spoke to anyone other than the mage that I know of. He always walked about with his hood raised, as if he were cold or something. He always gave me the shivers. Hast thou ever been in a sickroom, Avatar? A sickroom where someone is about to die? There is a tension in the air, a stillness... And that always seemed to hover about the mage's large companion. He was probably the one that stole whatever it was from Ensorcio that night, too. I remember that Ensorcio came storming in that morning, much earlier than usual, ranting about something being missing. I'll admit that I was a bit short with him, Avatar. After all, I had to put all those barrels back myself, what with Angus gone and all. And that high and mighty mage never offered to lift a finger for anything more than another mug of ale!"
Oh, and Devra is also a moneychanger. The game's best, in fact. She's the only one who will exchange all forms of currency as well as gems, jewelry, and gold nuggets/bars, and she has the best exchange rate too.
See? That's a perfectly reasonable fee. It's important to lighten your packs here before you press on to Moonshade, since you can only exchange money and gems there (sell off the jewelry and heavy gold nuggets now). You might also want to convert all your Filari into Guilders, as you will need quite a few of those.
Not that money is a problem for our party at this time.
Since we were specifically told not to go poking around in the cellar that's exactly what we're going to do.
I never quite got if this cat statue was just something Silverpate brought from his travels, or if the "scuffle" somehow resulted in Angus being sent to the Isle of Cats. Exactly what happened to Angus is a dangling plot thread and if there's an obvious answer I never found it. I suspect Batlin killed him or something, but I'll advance my theory a little later in the plot.
As an executive summary courtesy to people who don't like too many conversations (sometimes it's inevitable), here's what's going down at the Sleeping Bull:
Devra, the innkeeper, lost her husband Angus to mysterious circumstances after Batlin and his thugs arrived. They also stole an old serpent's jawbone from the mage Ensorcio, although no one knows what powers it has. Kane and Flindo are trying to get passage to Moonshade, but Captain Hawk was arrested by Pikemen and is being held at Bull Tower to the north. Obviously, our next move is going to be getting Hawk out of there.
And finally, a sealed door with no obvious way in. Well, we can just leave that and move on with the plot, right?
Haha, no way. We're talking about pirate treasure here.