Weddumlir Aleshield the Dwarf Fighter, Davroar Hollysword the Elf Cleric of Moriarty, Nathan Garney the Human Cleric of Everly, Meldor Ironforge the Dwarf Wizard, Acindor the Human Fighter and Thril Wolfsbane the Elf Fighter followed the robed representative of SMUGGLER SPEAK through the gated TOWER KEEP to a long suspension bridge on the other side. To their surprise, it felt as solid as if they were walking on solid ground rather than bending and swaying with the wind. Yet what captured their attention was the SKY BAZAAR it led to. The space before them in the clouds seems filled with platforms, homes and shops suspended from balloons and zeppelins. These were connected to one another via suspension bridges. Balloons, zeppelins and airships of other sorts also made port at this location.
After The representative made good on her promised reward of a king’s ransom as reward for ridding the holy site of B.O.B.’s corruption, dispersed to explore the SKY BAZAAR ‘s eclectic shops.
The main platform they’d been led to, dubbed the FREEMARKET PLATFORM, was dominated by a large statue of Everly in the center. Ridley and Ridley were represented as halves of a whole facing in opposite directions, as was common. Two holy kiosks flanked the statue, one to Everly and the other to Wanjo, lord of all Caeruleum. There were also two suspension bridges leading to shops and homes to the south and east respectively. There were also four shops moored at the FREEMARKET PLATFORM, though the presence of empty sign placards and mooring posts elsewhere around their perimeter of the platform let them know that the platform could afford more such shops. The placards read “Azrael the Apothecary,” “Gunny S aks,” “Fizwick’s Fantasticals,” and “Oola,” the latter’ s first letter formed into a stylized eye.
Azrael the Apothecary
Davroar made a beeline for the apothecary. Azrael was dressed in robes that immediately reminded the Cleric of Moriarty of the Grim Reaper. A mask obscured his face. The shop’s shelves were lined with various potions.
“Sir, I am need of healing potions,” Davroar ventured. “What do you have in stock that I may peruse this fine day?”
“You look like someone who is not in need of healing potions,” Azrael said. “You seem quite healthy.”
“That is my business, sir, but I do wish to keep those I am traveling with as healthy as I now appear.”
Shrugging, Azrael listed off his prices. “We have several strengths of healing potion available. Sadly, the strongest version is not available because I require certain ingredients from the MINES and, as you know, they have been closed. And this is unfortunate because sometimes these potions are the difference between success and death.”
“I will hear of your remaining inventory nevertheless.”
“As you wish. Our standard healing potion costs 50 gold pieces. Our potion of greater healing is 100 gold. And of course alas we do not have the potion of superior ‘ healing but it is normally sold for 400 gold.” Azrael sighed. “I will admit that I would gladly knock 100 gold off that price to someone who was willing to to go to the MINES to fetch my necessary ingredients.”
“I will keep that in mind should my adventures take me to the MINES,” Davroar said.
Azrael shrugged. “One would not want to go out of their way to the MINES these days, I would imagine. Do any of these potions interest you?”
“Then what would you be purchasing today?”
“Good sir, I am in need of several potions. Unfortunately, your prices are a bit… unattainable for a man of the cloth such as myself; however, I do have items we could potentially trade in addition to some coin. Are you open to such an arrangement?”
The apothecary crossed his arms. “That would depend upon the items.”
Davroar drew forth the tapestries he’d taken from the TEMPLE OF WANJO from his pack and unfurled them. “I present to you two fine tapestries, portraits of one of the kings and queens of the War’todes.” Seeing that Azrael did not appear to be quite impressed enough, the cleric also drew forth two gems to sweeten the pot.
Azrael leaned over the tapestries. Several lenses snapped into place via the mechanized mask. “These once belonged to the TEMPLE OF WANJO. Are you a thief?” The question was almost a sharp accusation.
“No, sir. These came into my possession through my adventures.”
“Oh? So they were given to you?”
“That sounds correct.”
Azrael snorted. “You cannot fool someone who wears a Mask of Unusual Insight. I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I won’t call the Temple guards because it is obvious that these have been magically altered and so you might not know their proper significance since they bear the visage of War’todes rather than their rightful subject matter. I will take them off your hands for 10 gold apiece in the hopes that returning them to the TEMPLE will get Wanjo’s clerics off my back about that tithe I owe. As for the gems, I will give you 5 gold apiece for them.”
“I will take 15 for both gems, which you may take off the price of a standard healing potion, but I will keep the tapestries,” Davroar countered. “Obviously, I meant no ill will or disrespect for the offering made in ignorance of their true significance.”
“As you wish,” Azrael said. “Can I interest you in any of my other potions?”
Davroar politely asked after a potion of flying but found the price too steep. He bid the apothecary adieu. The apothecary stared after him, his face unreadable beneath the Mask of Unusual Insight.
For his part, Acindor was interested in weapons. Upon entering the establishment called Gunny Saks, he was accosted by a halfling, who greeted him brusquely. “What’s your order?”
“What do you have on special today?” Acindor asked, his eyes scanning the strange shop. The walls of the shop were lined with some sort of metallic sheeting presumably meant to protect the shop and the balloon it sat upon from the heat of the forge that dominated the center of the shop. All manner of handheld weapons lined the walls on racks. Halfling weapon smiths manned the forge bellows, hammered out blades on anvils and polished finished weapons in a constant state of busy-ness.
“Special?? Everything here is special! Are you implying that some of our stuff isn’t special? That some of it is mundane or ordinary? Have you never been to a Gunny Saks before? We even have Saks on Fifth Avenue in Farrago!”
“My apologies,” Acindor said. “I’ve never been to a Gunny Saks before. Can I ask you about this strange metal fabric that lines the walls of this establishment?”
The halfling scoffed. “Not for sale!”
“I was only wondering what it is.”
“Oh,” the halfling said. He smiled for the first time. “It’s made from the stomach lining of a terrasque. It can take a lot. Even the heat of our forge is fully absorbed. Now, that’ll be five gold pieces.”
“Five gold pieces?”
“For the question. Pay up or get out.”
“Ok,” Acindor said. “I’ll pay you five gold pieces. That was pretty good information. Do you have any magical weapons or any weapons which might give me an advantage in battle.”
“Does this look like Fizwick’s Fantasticals? We make good, solid weapons. The most magical thing you’ll find in here is a mace made of iron, useful if you’re going up against a demon for example, or silvered weapons — well, we had those until recently. We’re out of silver and in fact we’re looking for someone willing to go into the TEMPLE MINES and fetch the silver bars we need for that because we’re pretty sure there’s going to be a big demand for silvered weapons in the near future. You know there’s rumors of an undead wave a-coming out of that MINE, don’t you?”
“What? Undead wights?”
“I said wave. An undead wave. Are you saying wights are involved? Huh. That’s good information,” he said, handing Acindor five gold pieces for it.
“So where is this MINE?” Acindor asked.
The halfling held out his hand expectantly.
Acindor tightened his fist around the five gold pieces he’d just received in payment. “If you want that silver, I think it’s a reasonable question.”
The halfling grinned ear to ear. “Oh! I like a body who likes to bargain. The MINES are back towards the TEMPLE, only instead of taking a left, you take a right. Now, it used to be easier to get to, by the way, but then that earthquake happened when that killer comet came down and blasted everything. We lost most of FYRAN TIRION when that happened and now they’re calling that particular city the CITY OF THE DEAD.” He paused. “You know, that might be where those undead are coming from? What do you think?”
“That sounds about right. If the gods favor us, maybe when our paths cross again I’ll have a gift of silver for you,” Acindor ventured. “How beneficial would a silvered weapon be to me If I ventured into this CITY OF THE DEAD?”
“Well, it depends on the type of undead you’re dealing with,” the halfling said. “If it were a ghoul, well, you’d just have to return its soul to Umbra the hard way. However if you were dealing say a wraith or a wight, such a weapon would come in handy. Of course, silvered weapons are also useful against lycanthrope. We could silver your longsword easily if we but had the silver.”
“That is good information. Thank you.”
“Five gold pieces.”
”You can take that off my account when I bring the silver back,” Acindor said.
“Oh, so you’re going into the MINES then? You’re going to commit to it?”
“I have to talk to the rest of my party, but it should not be very difficult to convince them.”
“Well, tell them this: If you and your party can commit to it, Gunny Saks will arrange to provide you with a Tethered Sack of Holding. You can’t just use it like a regular Sack of Holding. Everything you put in it, goes straight into the smelter. I wouldn’t jump in the sack if I were you. I had a guy try to use it to hide from his enemies and, well, he got melted along with the metal. It’s a very painful way to go. I do not recommend it. If you’re trying to go straight to B.O.B., that’s a good way to do it!” he joked grimly. “Now here’s how it works. You go to the mines with the Bag. You put the silver bars in the bag, which will go straight to our smelter. When you return, we’ll not only sell you the silvered weapons, we’ll sell you an untethered Bag of Holding for your troubles. If you’re interested in that sort of thing?”
“You know, I’m pretty sure my party will go for this.”
“We do need the silver sooner rather than later because, well, undead wave. Now I’m in a balloon shop, so I’m gonna be okay for a while but these other buggers around here, the War’todes, the tidal elves and goblins, and all the rest… they’re dead meat. And they might be undead meat by the time it’s all over!”
“Let’s do this,” Acindor said. “I’ll take your Tethered Bag of Holding and you watch for the silver bars to come your way.”
“That sounds fine. can you get it to me within a tenday?”
“That should be fine.”
Taking the Tethered Bag of Holding, Acindor left the shop.
Meldor managed to find a serviceable battle axe to replace the weapon he’d lost in SMUGGLER SPEAK, though he was reluctant to admit to its quality seeing as it wasn’t made by dwarves forgemasters.
Coming into the shop on their heels, Davroar inquired as to whether they had crossbow bolts, but was informed that they only made handheld simple and martial weapons.
After they left Gunny Saks, most of the party made their way to Fizwick’s Fantasticals. A tabaxi stood outside the shop, pawing at the bell over the shop door. Noticing them, she stopped as said, “Oh! Customers? Who needs a spell scroll?”
“What would I need with a spell scroll?” Acindor asked.
“They’re not just for spellcasters,” Fizwick’s said. “Fighters can use them too. Each scroll contains a single spell which may be used once, after which it disintegrates into a shower of glitter! I love glitter!”
”What kind of spells do you have?” Acindor asked.
“I have lots of spells. I may have every spell. At least, I potentially have every spell. I will have to say that right now I don’t have any spells above the second level because I’m missing my special parchments. They were locked in the MINE offices and, of course, you know about the undead infestation they’re experiencing now. Of course, the only real limitation beyond that is the amount of coin you possess. The bigger the spell, the mightier the cost. What kind of spell are you interested in?”
“We happen to be heading into the MINES on other business,” Acindor said. “How many spells will you give us if we fetch some of these special parchments for you?”
The tabaxi considered this. “It would depend on the quality of the parchment. If the parchment is molded, I can’t use it. If you bring me parchment of Utility, I will give you a spell level for every for each sheath. If I were you, I would bring along some sort of cart or other way to carry it.”
“Is there a shop elsewhere in the SKY BAZAAR that you would recommend we buy a cart from?”
“I really have no idea,” Fizwick said with a shrug. “The SKY BAZAAR is totally bizarre. There are different shops moored here every time you visit. There’s usually quite a bit more than this. Until recently, there was no point in coming at all! But now the Corruption has left SMUGGLER SPEAK and I dare say business will be brisk from here on out, especially because they can’t get some of the things they used to get from the TEMPLE and FYRAN TIRION.”
“Do you sell any other magical items here? Magical weapons perhaps?” Davroar asked.
“The only other thing we have here is a Star Sapphire, but you know the value on those. I can’t find a buyer for the market rate of 1000 gold pieces, although I do have more people asking about it nowadays.”
“Can we see it?”
“I’m afraid not. It’s sealed away with powerful anti theft magic. If even I looked at it, I’d be under the curse too. They say there’s another one in SMUGGLER SPEAK but I’ve never seen it personally. All the others I know of are in the TEMPLE OF WANJO, guarded by Ipsimus and other fell monsters.”
Meldor decided to purchase a thunderwave spell scroll to test the tabaxi’ s wares.
Seeing as the party intended to go to the MINES, Davroar decided to return to the apothecary to see which ingredients he needed for his Healing Potions.
Nathan Garney presented himself at the sacred kiosk of Everly and greeted the acolyte stationed there. Momentarily confused by the kiosk, he asked whether this was the Temple of Everly.
“No, I’m glad you asked. This is one of our official temple kiosks. The actual Temple is back on Everly’s world, on Viridi. If only we could re-open the Water Portal and re-establish our link to Farrago, you could make your way to the Green World and see it for yourself. It’s lovely! Made completely from plants. Just wonderful to behold! Of course, you know that already.”
The attendant sighed and leaned in toward Nathan. “Can I level with you? Somebody needs to open that Water Portal and soon! We’re hearing some really bad things are happening back on Viridi and things are getting worse here. Wanjo’s clerics are out of their minds with worry. Their god is missing. They’re even offering a reward to anyone who can re-open the Water Portal and take a message back to Sophia Pallas, the head cleric back in Farrago. Wanjo isn’t the only god who is missing either.” His expression darkened further. “Ridley is missing. We fear he may have suffered the same fate as Wanjo.”
“I may have some information on that actually,” Nathan said. He then briefly told the other cleric of his adventures in SMUGGLER SPEAK, producing the sacred pitcher of Ridley as proof.
“The tale you tell has the ring of truth. I have heard this tale being sang in Hogfeathers. ‘Want those monsters dead? Wedd ‘em dead!’ If you have rid SMUGGLER SPEAK of the curse of corruption as you say, you must be Weddumlir Aleshield!”
“You’re not Wedd? We’ve heard the song. ’Put this whole quest to bed. Send in the Wedd!‘ It’s quite catchy.”
“No, I’m Nathan Garney.”
“The song doesn’t mention you.”
“I think someone took credit for that victory that does not belong to them,” Nathan said.
The other raised an eyebrow. “That song was commissioned by Baldnoggin the dwarf god of Adelstan. Surely, it Is above reproach?”
“I’m positive. If you have access to Ridley, I’d ask her because I rescued her avatar from SMUGGLER SPEAK.”
“Perhaps I have no need. The evidence is all around us. We began seeing plants grow at a rapid rate to let us know Ridley was now free of whatever bound her. But we’re hearing reports back from Viridi. The Green World is no longer green. The rains have dried up. So we fear that Ridley may be missing too.” He glanced at the sacred pitcher. “But I will take that pitcher off your hands.”
“Very good,” Nathan said. “It needs to be returned back where it belongs. I wouldn’t want to see it get accidentally destroyed while in my care.”
“No, I can’t imagine that being a good thing. Ripley is a notoriously spiteful goddess. But take this for your troubles,” the kiosk attendant said, proffering him an oval token. “Take this to the apothecary and he will exchange it for a Potion of Greater Healing.”
As he placed the token in his pack, his hand brushed the doll he’d found in SMUGGLER SPEAK. Tugging it out, he presented it to the attendant, hoping the other cleric might have some information about it.
“Dear gods! What is that doing here?”
“I found this in SMUGGLER SPEAK and I was hoping you could tell me what it was.”
”I’m not sure. I can tell it’s cursed. It’s… really creepy. I can feel… Oh my goodness! Is that a Shettebrek Sally?”
“That’s a Shettebrek Sally. I’d bet money on it. You’ll want to consult with someone to be certain… I’m pretty sure a shop is moored today that deals with magical things, but that is a Shettebrek Sally. Those are really hard to get rid of. Have you developed any weird fears?”
“I’ve developed an aversion to the color red.”
“An aversion or… Look at that red balloon over there.”
”That’s not normal, and it’s not really bleeding. You’ve developed a phobia. And each time this little thing goes off, it’s gonna give you another one. People go insane from… Why did you pick this up? You gave this to you?”
“I found it in SMUGGLER SPEAK.”
“You just picked it up? Nobody made you? Look at it: It’s ugly and creepy. Why did you think that was a good idea?”
“It looked important. I thought it was a totem of some sort.”
“See? This is what happens when the god of wisdom vanishes. May Wanjo and good sense return speedily! get rid of that. You can’t throw it away. It’ll just show up in your things again the next day and give you a new phobia just for spite. From what I hear, you have to take it to a site that is holy to Shettebrek or one of his avatars and leave it there. You need to be rid of this thing speedily. The real problem with a Shettebrek Sally is that it is activated anytime you come into contact with an enemy and, while it will trigger their fight or flight response, it will add a phobia to you each time until you’re driven quite mad. So… enjoy that dark ride.” He scoffed. “Maybe you should visit Oola. They say she can fortell the future. She’s moored here today.”
“I think I will do that.”
Nathan bid the other cleric adieu and hent to the apothecary to make the exchange. Afterward, as he made his way toward Oola’s shop, Davroar returned to the apothecary and inquired further about what Azrael needed from the MINES. Azrael informed him that he needed a sackful of mushrooms that grow amongst the moonstone grass in the MINES. He noted that these mushrooms were easily identifiable because if one touched the cap, the gills would glow beneath in response. He advised Davroar to be careful because the glowing gills tended to attract giant slugs, who favor them as food. He added that if Davroar could manage it, he would also reward him for bringing back the hidden still located near the rail cart turntable to FYRAN TIRION. This still produced the fungal moonshine that was key to his strongest potions of healing. Davroar haggled a deal which allowed him to receive 1 free Potion of Superior Healing and 1 standard healing potion for the distillery and the chance to buy another Potion of Superior Healing at half price (200 gold) if he brought back the sack of mushrooms. Upon striking the bargain, Azrael warned that the mushrooms would only last a tenday once picked.
Nathan opened the tent flap to Oola’s and and was greeted with the smell of incense, which did not quite cover the stench of a bog. The inside was dark and filled with smoke. At the center of the shop sat a bubbling cauldron.
As Nathan approached, a hairy tentacle emerged from the cauldron’s waters. An eye fixed to the end gazed at him and in his mind he heard a pleasant female voice purr, “Who comes to Oola to know the future?”
“Nathan Garney comes to Oola, but he wishes to rid himself of a cursed item.”
“Ah! A path of death follows you. You must tread a path of the mirrored past!”
“So you seek a way to be rid of what?” Oola asked.
Nathan pulled out the Shettebrek Sally.
“This item has brought me much business as of late. Now some people know that Shettebrek had an avatar which took on a life of its own. Thanatar is now known as the Grim, the Harvest Lord, the god of the undead. You know what the Grim is doing to Viridi at this moment, don’t you?”
“I’ve heard that Viridi is no longer green,” Nathan said. “That would probably be the cause then.”
“Yes, the Harvest Lord is come and he is reaping the Green World of Viridi. None stop him. None oppose him. Now to rid yourself of Shettebrek Sally, you will have to leave it at a site sacred to either Shettebrek or the Grim. Either is a path to the dead, but know this: when in a race against the dead, silver will not mean second best. A fool’s quest await you, so seek the wise in a harpy’s circus.”
“Would one find one of these sacred sites in the MINES which are being overrun by the undead?”
“Shettebrek has servants wherever there is fear to sow. I hear that a wave of the dead is coming from those MINES. That is not Shettebrek’s domain, but the undead are the work of his rogue avatar. Thanatar is the Lord of the Undead. For fifty gold pieces, I can tell you exactly whom you must see to find success on your quest.”
The cleric dutifully dropped the coin into the cauldron’s waters.
“Trouble yourself not over the price. You have lost nothing for I see gold and riches in your future, but beware! Greed is a poor man’s compass. You need to seek the Kiss of Death, Braucia Graeme the Necromancer has been spotted near the CITY OF THE DEAD. FYRAN TIRION, once the jewel of the Tidelands, where tidal elves and tidal goblins lives in peace, was split asunder when the first star fell. It tore the city apart and opened the deeps from which the dead speak in FYRAN TIRION. Seek out Braucia Graeme. The doll is probably her work in the first place.”
”Thank you,” Nathan said.
“Do you know what to take with you? For fifty more gold, I can tell you,” she said.
”The weapon you once so briefly held, it is the straw which will break the dragon’s back. You had a prize of great worth in your possession and you left it somewhere.”
“If you’re talking about the Star Sapphire, I didn’t exactly leave it,” Nathan said, remembering that he’d once possessed it as the wizard Cullos Crowbane.
“The Star Sapphire is a mighty key to open the Water Portal, but the weapon I speak of is an artifact that belongs to your order.”
“The pitcher I gave back?” he asked.
“You gave back a pitcher?”
“I had a pitcher that enchanted the water that was poured into it.”
“That sounds lovely. So many souls are weaved into your destiny… but the pattern is scorched. Fire… Dragon fire! I… I can’t make out any more.“ A few coins suddenly ejected from the cauldron. “Take back twenty of your gold. I’m sorry.” With that, Oola’s eyeball submerged back into the waters.
As Nathan ended his session, Davroar headed to Fizwick’s Fantasticals. While he ultimately opted not to purchase a spell scroll, Fizwick did give him a tip that he could secure a reliable guide to the MINES at an establishment called Hogfeathers.
Leaving the FREEMARKET PLATFORM, the party headed south to a massive tavern nestled beneath a zeppelin. They could could hear music playing from within, a rousing version of the popular new ballad, Send in the Wedd! As they slipped into the tent, they took stock of the area. Tables and stools filled most of the main area. A stage existed at the west end, where a orcs playing the tribute to Weddumlir’s exploits was identified as a group called Trouble on a Friday Night. A long bar sat to the east on the opposite end of the establishment.
The lead singer of Trouble on a Friday Night just happened to glance up at the new entrants. Upon recognizing Weddumlir, he cried, “Stop the music! It’s him! Baldnoggin’s Hero, the one who saved SMUGGLER SPEAK!”
The tavern grew deathly silent as the stunned customers took in the news. The only sound that could be heard was the grunting and squealing of the flying pigs that winged about the top of the tent.
”Oh my goodness! The gods be praised!” a voice called from the bar. “I can’t believe we are blessed with a visit from the Hero of SMUGGLER SPEAK. Come to the bar, friends,” he beckoned them. “Drinks are on the house!” As they sat at the bar, he asked, “What brings you to Hogfeathers?”
”We need a guide,” Acindor said.
”A guide? Okay, there a couple of good possibilities. There are also a lot of really bad possibilities, if you know what I mean.” He held out his hand for a bribe out of habit. “What am I doing? Wedd is here! I love his song. You know what? I’m going to give you this one for free. Do not under any circumstances hire that sad-looking cleric over there,” he said, pointing to a drunken human sitting at a table near the entrance. “Laris the Apostate… His information is good. He’s an excellent guide. He can get you anywhere you need to go around here. He is so depressing! All he ever does is say, Woe is us! We can’t hear Wanjo anymore. He’s abandoned us. The Starkiller’s here and he’s probably killing off the gods one by one. He’s probaby offed Everly now. Blah, blah, blah. If I could toss him from the catwalk into a watery grave legally, I swear… All of the Fallen are like that.”
He brightened. “You know what? River Hopfoot. That’s your guide. She’s with your outfit, Wedd. She’s with Hero, Inc. and she knows the Giant’s Footprint like nobody else. Where do you need to go?”
”We need togo to the MINES,” Acindor said.
”Are you insane? Forgive me. What am I thinking? Wedd is here! Wedd’ll Wedd ‘em dead. If anybody should go into those MINES, it’s him! This is brilliant! Baldnoggin be blessed! He has sent us a savior not only to rid us of the corruption of SMUGGLER SPEAK but also to wipe the undead out of the MINES. I can’t wait to hear his next song. This one’s quite catchy.”
Davroar’s voice dripped with insincerity. “Yeah, we’re really happy and excited to have him with us. Where’s this Holly Hotfoot?”
“Who? Oh. River Hopfoot. She’s the War’tode sitting at Laris’ table.” He chuckled. “You might want to rescue her. I’m sure she’ll be grateful. Keep your hands on your purses. She’s an excellent thief and a better pickpocket.
”If Weddumlir the Mighty will allow it,” Davroar said, not bothering to hide his sarcasm, “we will take our leave to speak with this Hotfoot. You know, if you’re looking for someone worthy of worship, might I suggest Moriarty the Great and Powerful?”
”What? What strange gods do you serve? Out of my bar. Out!” the bartender said.
”The only god that matters!” Davroar replied. “Moriarty!”
”Aw, hell. Moriarty,” the bartender said slowly and sardonically.
“I’ll conduct my business as I choose, barkeep, and then I will depart, worry not. Also, I will take one of those drinks,” Davroar said.
The barkeep crossed his arms and grinned. “Fluffy!” he called.
A rather foul-smelling, battle-scarred Minotaur rose from his stool at the mention of his nickname. He lumbered over to Davroar, looked him over and snorted derisively. “You gonna go or what?” Fluffy asked.
Davroar looked him up and down and then walked toward River Hopfoot’s table. “Fine. I’ll be on my way.” He scoffed. “Your hospitality is appreciated.”
”Can I have his drink?” Fluffy asked the barkeep, who nodded. The Minotaur tossed back a drink with gusto.
Acindor grabbed a tray of drinks before the barkeep’s previous generosity evaporated completely. Taking the tray to River Hopfoot’s table, he was accosted by Laris the Apostate.
“You ain’t right,” the drunken cleric complained. “Yer in somebody else’s body. You ain’t even in yer body. That’s somebody else’s.”
”Very perceptive,” Acindor said, “but right now we need to talk to Hopfoot.”
”’S right. I am. I used t’ be a cleric of Wanjo the Wise. We’re vurry persheptiff. I could tell youz was a bobber. Follo’er of B.O.B.ber. Fobber bobber.”
”Yeah, I know. Wanjo’s not around anymore. The Starkiller’s come down…”
”You heard!” Laris exclaimed. “It’s true. Dat Starkiller’s walking around right now. Probbly gonna kill ‘nother god.”
”Probably,” Acindor said. “Here, I got you a drink. I need to talk to Hopfoot for a second.”
”Oh? Well then,” Laris said, “I was gonna stagger on home but I’ll take that.” He grabbed an ale eagerly.
The War’tode thief stroked her froggish chin. “I recognize you guys.” She glanced at Nathan. “Except you. I’m not sure I recognize you. I was in the SANCTUARY OF EVERLY for a bit, posted as a lookout in case anybody came from behind, and then I got the signal to pull out. Oh wait,” she said, snapping her fingers. “You’re that guy who showed up at the end, aren’t you?”
”That would be me,” Nathan said.
”I was hiding so near you. I could’ve killed you at any time,” she said. “I had my garrote out at one point just to see if I could do it.”
”I appreciate your consideration.”
“So I guess that turned out okay, according to the song,” she said.
”You could say that,” Nathan said.
”Our hero’s here, Weddumlir. Blah blah blah blah. You know, he’s never had a song written about me. I’m guessing it’s on account I’m not a dwarf. So what do you need, guys? Or are you just at my table for the view?”
“I’m seeking one known as the Kiss of Death,” Nathan said. “Braucia Graeme?”
”The necromancer? Why would you seek that one out?”
“Well, I have this little trinket he may be interested in,” Nathan said, showing her the Shettebrek Sally doll.
”Sally? Wow. That must be eight Sallies I’ve seen in as many days. Who is spreading these vile little things everywhere?” River asked.
”I think it may be the necromancer,” he said.
”Where did you get yours?”
”That makes sense, but who gave it to you?”
”I found it.”
”You picked it up of your own free will?” After a moment, she shrugged. “Well, taking chances is something clerics of Everly are wont to do. So you need to find that shrine in TYRAN FIRION then. You need to go through the MINES. The access from the TEMPLE itself was cut off when the earthquake tore up the place. It’s all blocked off now, so it’s the MINES or nothing. You want a guide, don’t you?”
“Yes. That’s exactly why we’re here.”
”Well, I cannot turn you down since Wedd is a member of my guild, but I will not brave the MINES themselves. It’s too dangerous. I will take you to the MINES and draw you a map of where you need to go. After that, I’m gone. This is a fool’s errand.”
”That’s what Oola told me,” Nathan said.
”You went to Oola? Of course you went to Oola. Everyone goes to Oola. You paid full price though?” River asked.
“She gave men a small refund.”
”Oh dear gods, something is really wrong with you. You’re going to die probably. That clenches it. I will take you to the MINES and will provide you with a map to guide you through, but I want no further part of this.”
River Hopfoot led them further south and east through the SKY BAZAAR until they reached the SKY DOCKS. There, she showed them the vessel that would provide them passage, a flying vessel called The Luckless. From the deck of the airship, Puddles the Goblin grinned at them.