After returning triumphantly from solving The Case of the Busted Fence, our heroes check in with Captain Faringray to see what else is going on about town. The hale and hearty captain informs us that there has been some trouble on the docks as of late, but he hasn’t had the manpower to investigate. Adventure senses a-tingle, we jump at the chance to rough up some stevedores and head into town to check it out.
The local hostler who keeps his stable in town is known locally as a purveyor of strange rumors and town gossip. A halfling by the name of Lannar Thistleton, he seems the shifty, seedy type of man who keeps track of t he comings and goings of the town populous.
“Hail and well met, fair hostler, what news can you bring us of the local maritime trade?” exclaims Roderick, upon entering the stable.
The halfling darts his beady eyes back and forth, then his whole face brightens into a toothsome grin and he replies amiably, “Well, I can’t say for much on what goes on round these parts. I tend to go to bed early and don’t fall in with the riff raff of town. But the wife makes a mean buttermilk tart if yer fixin to soothe the savage belly. That bear-man behind you looks like he might could use a bite.”
Rip Terrorgrip looks side to side, as if there were perhaps another bear-man nearby to which the halfling could be referring. He opens his mouth to say something, but is cut off by the cheerful halfman, “Yup, horses, hay and buttermilk tarts, that’s all this humble hostler knows.” He begins to whistle tunelessly as he goes back to shoveling manure.
Looking rather confusedly at one another, we decide that this halfling may have an ill-fitting reputation and bid him a fine day (after taking one of Ma Thistleton’s tarts for the road.)
Taking the bull by the horns, we then crossed town to visit the Upper Quays of the docks just as night begins to fall, in the hopes of seeing some treachery or malign behavior.
Having learned from various townsfolk that a local street tough by the name of Strongbeard has been charging ‘taxes’ to those wishing to move goods from the lower quays to the upper, and has begun to extend his taxes to local merchants and shopowners, lest they fall victim to his merry band of goons.
We head into House Azaer’s Emporium to ask the shopkeep about it. A beautiful Tiefling lady steps from behind the counter to greet us. As she catches sight of the dragonborn trailing behind her face screws up into a look of disgust, remebling a well-aged pumpkin. Roderick, noticing the shift, attempts to remedy the situation and get her talking.
“If you want to buy something, do it and get out. Be sure to take your mangy CUR of a dragonborn with you, as he’s spoiling my merchandise.”
Glancing at Hurin, Roderick attempts a bluff, “Who? Him? He’s not with us. I have no idea where he came from,” he says, trying not to look at his direction. Hurin, out of earshot, looks at Roderick and gives a big thumbs up with a beaming smile. With a nod and a wink, Roderick attempts to let Hurin know he should perhaps wait outside. Once he has trotted outside the store, Amara Azaer (the tiefling) brightens considerably, and doesn’t seem to notice Hurin standing at the window, foggin the glass and writing “Hurin and Roderick, BFF Forever” in the fog.
Once the dragonborn is out of the shop, Amara seems to relax, and is put at ease by the gnome’s easy nature and flowing wit. She tells him that Strongbeard has been roughing up local shops that won’t pay protection money, and that the local guard has done nothing to stop it. When asked where we might find Strongbeard, she didn’t know, only that the only time you knew he’d be around is if you tried to move something from one quay to another.
The bear-man shouts “OOOH!” and begins to rummage in his pack, producing a disguist kit and exlaims, “I have an idea.”
A few minutes later, our merry band of heroes has transformed, as if by magic, into hte very picture of stevedores. If you looked up ‘dock worker’ in the dictionary, t here would be a picture of us next to it. The genasi even had a very convincing mole.
Gathering some empty boxes about, we set off to the lower quays, complaining loudly about having to schlep this stuff from one quay to another, and how far it is to go, and how we hope we don’t get molested by any local street toughs.
Sure enough, within a few minutes, some beefy goons appear before us.
“Oi! Where d’ya think you’re goin? You hain’t paid the taxes for movin these goods yet.”
“My good sir, I wasn’t aware of any taxes that we, as humble dock workers, would need to pay.”
“Well, because you seem new, and look the very picture of dock-workers, we’ll let you only pay half this time. 5 gold pieces for each of ya.” The goon says, walking over to the genasi and shoving the box he’s carrying. A hollow thud resounds in the square, clearly demonstrating that there is nothing in the box.
“OI! What you tryin to pull, ‘ere! Dis box is empty!”
Roderick, thinking quickly, explains that the genasi is new and they’re training him by letting him carry empty boxes to see if he can handle them right. This begins a debate with the none-too-bright goon on training methods of dockhands. Just as they’re approaching a resolution a loud whistle comes from the Tavern nearby. A small dwarf with a very strong beard steps from the door….....
to be continued.